Monday, August 29, 2011

VMA Post-Mortem

I had no intention of writing anything about tonight's Video Music Awards (aside from the squibs over at TVLatest), but the show has been over for twenty minutes and I find myself jittery, on edge, and feeling kind of angry and I have no idea why.

I think part of the problem is that my intent for watching was not coming from a positive place. Being in Detroit for the majority of the last year has left me fairly unexposed to popular music. When the radio stations play only that one Eminem song, that one Usher song, "Rolling in the Deep" and "E.T.", you're left in the boonies in terms of what other people are listening to. You used to be able to find out what those songs could be by tuning into MTV, but as the students who are arriving on-campus Tuesday will tell you, that has not been the case in their lifetimes.

I'll let that sink in before moving on.

Also, as is the case with any major event of this sort, Twitter scrolls along in the background. What I love about Twitter is getting to share in cultural moments with people who are on the same wavelength as me. Unfortunately, that wavelength includes competitive bitchery, which is in full force for the VMAs. The only moments that I think were universally enjoyed ("universally" being defined as 65% approval or better) was Adele's performance and Beyoncé's baby bump. Even the Amy Winehouse tribute (which I thought was classy given that Russell Brand was the main spokesperson) received a heavy dose of heckling from my follow list.

I guess what bothers me is that tonight's show was like watching a dream unfulfilled. When I was born my six siblings ranged in age from 5-17 and just about all of them wanted their MTV. Throughout my toddlerdom I received Chernobyl-like exposure to music presented in the video format. Now you know why I am the way I am. Anyway, I wanted to make music videos when I grew up, but when the programming model of MTV and VH1 shifted in the mid-90's there was a supply/demand issue arising. MTV2 came along and I would watch that for hours on end during my high school years. Then that programming model changed and now that dream felt all but dead.

Maybe this is a long-winded way of saying "I'm old! They don't play music on MTV anymore! GET OFF MY LAWN!" Maybe that's what's bumming me out.

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Sunday, January 2, 2011

I Am Not a Crockpot: Thai Curry Chicken

Mom and I went out for Thai food a couple of weeks ago. It was tasty, as usual, but now that we are in Dearborn Heights it is a bit of a hike to the East Dearborn Thai Palace. There are other Thai restaurants closer (Thai Palace II is within walking distance -- a long walk, but walking distance), but there's just something missing at those establishments. I decided I wanted to try making Thai food at home.

I did try this once in Syracuse with mixed results. The flavor wasn't quite there and there was no spice to the dish. Also, cooking it on the stove was more of a mess than I wanted to deal with. So I looked up crock pot recipes online to see if Thai would work.

Here is the recipe I found:

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- 1 13.5-oz can coconut milk

- 1 T brown sugar

- 1 T soy sauce (La Choy is gluten free, and so is Tamari wheat-free)[I went with Meijer brand]

- 1 T Thai red or green chili paste, or more to taste (I used red, and went with 1.5 T)
**I went with red curry paste. Part of this was by accident, but I also didn't want to make anything too spicy the first time out. The flavor is robust, but seriously, make sure you get chili paste.

- 1 t fish sauce (optional) [I declined the option]

- 1 yellow onion, chopped

- 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped

- 1 red bell pepper

- 1 green bell pepper

- 1/2 large eggplant

- 1 sweet potato

- chicken thighs (I used 5 frozen boneless, skinless) [I used chicken breasts, thighs weren't readily available when I was shopping. Either should be fine.]

And! 1-inch knob of ginger, peeled and grated. [Optional. I didn't feel like dealing with ginger so I passed.]

**I also added some thinly sliced carrots to the mix.

The Directions.

Combine the sauce ingredients: coconut milk, soy sauce, brown sugar, chili paste, and fish sauce in the bottom of your crockpot stoneware. Taste. If you think you need more chili paste, add some, carefully. It's hot stuff!

Add the chicken pieces to the sauce, flipping them over a few times so they get nice and saucy.

Wash and cut the vegetables, and add to the crock.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4-6. This is done when the chicken is fully cooked and the vegetables have reached desired tenderness.

I cooked ours on high for 5 hours. The vegetables were soft, but not squishy, and the chicken was cooked, but still had shape.

Serve over white rice.

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If you think that's a lot of veggies, it is. I actually forgot to add the onion and garlic when I first turned on the crock pot because the bowl was 3/4 of the way full.

TCC Closeup

I let mine cook on high for about 6 hours -- that was a mistake. The veggies lost their crispness and there was very little texture to the dish. When I make this again, I will either cook on low for 6 hours or high for no more than 4. Just remember: Crock Pots vary.

Also, instead of white rice I went with brown rice. I think this comes down to a preference issue, but I almost always choose brown over white rice unless there's a time constraint.

Here is how the dish looked:

TCC Dish

Not quite as fancy as the pictures in the linked recipe, but the color is quite striking.

After a couple of servings, I found the lack of texture from the overcooking to be disappointing. The flavors were still strong, so I decided to take the leftovers and turn it into a soup.

TCC Soup

While blending (using the Ninja -- a must-have for the kitchen), I added 1 cup of water per pitcher (there are A LOT of leftovers). It maintains the flavor and gives the meal a hearty texture. I would recommend adding some black pepper when you warm up a bowl. I did not blend the rice with the soup, but sprinkling in any leftover rice would likely add to the tastiness.

Overall, I think this is a tasty dish. You just need to keep an eye on the crock.

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MMXI

One of the things I want to try to do more of this year is update this blog more than twice a year. There are two major obstacles that were preventing that this past year:

1) I've been doing A LOT of writing for TVLatest.com. I've been working on the site since the end of May and I am now at the point where I can generating traffic out of nothing. It's kinda awesome. We aren't the next Google or Facebook (yet), but I'm doing work that I enjoy. Unfortunately, the work is not lucrative enough to actually make it my living, so the jobhunt continues.

2) The other obstacle has been a lack of things happening in my life. I would like to report on my jobhunting, but there's been a lot of silence from places I've applied to. To draw on the dating analogy, this is where you go up to someone you fancy, look them in the eye, ask them to dance/get coffee/introduce yourself and they look at you as if you are from Mars and say nothing. We've all been there?

Instead, I am working on creating a separate blog about my jobhunting experience. I'll post a link here once I get it up and running. It's on WordPress and I'm kind of excited to learn how to work within that system.

So I guess in terms of an update, here are the bullet points:

• I'm still in Dearborn.
• I'm still unemployed (in the traditional sense of the term)
• I miss you all (I'm not in prison, I miss seeing people in person)

How are you doing?

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