Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Word of the day: picayune

The word of the day is picayune:

Etymology:  < French regional (southern, especially Savoy) picaillon, pécaillon, picayonorig. and chiefly U.S. (1643 as †picailloux in a Lyonnais source, denoting a small coin of foreign origin; compare French picaillons (plural), a slang term for ‘money, cash’ (1746 or earlier in this sense)) and its etymon Occitan picalhon, denoting a Savoyan-Piedmontese coin (see note), and in the extended sense ‘money’, of uncertain origin, probably < Occitan piquar to ring (bells), to knock, strike (1509; of imitative origin) + a suffix, the coins being so named because they would jingle in the pocket.
A. n.1.a. Originally, in southern United States, esp. Louisiana: a Spanish half-real. In later use: a 5-cent piece or other coin of little value. Now hist. 
b. colloq. A very small or the least amount of money, wealth, etc. Chiefly in negative contexts, as not worth a picayune, etc. 
2. colloq. A worthless or contemptible person; a trivial or unimportant matter or thing
3. With the: that which is picayune. 
B. adj.  Of little value; paltry, petty, trifling; unimportant, trivial; mean; contemptible. (OED)

"On a day that would be known as the Father’s Day Massacre, he vetoed eighty-two bills.  Perry had been a nonentity during the session, and few Texas politicians had heard his views on any of the pending bills...  The reasons that Perry gave for targeting many bills were picayune, and his vetoes seemed personally directed at lawmakers, of both parties, who had fallen from his favor.  The long-term effect was that Perry got the respect, or the fear, that he sought."

 - Lawrence Wright, "A different kind of Texan", 29 August 2011 The New Yorker

Monday, August 29, 2011

weekend update: Irene

Hurricane preparations began on Wednesday, when Morgan went to Walmart and secured canned food, power bars, pop tarts, and seven gallons of water:

(The seventh is chilling in the fridge.)

Friday night I returned home to find that someone had taken our recycling bin, which was too bad, because we had been counting on using it as a bucket to catch drips if we had to.  Not sure whether our neighbors were doing us a kind turn by taking it in off the street (so that it wouldn't blow away) and intend to put it back out next Friday, or whether they were also eyeing it as a way to catch their own drips.

We went out to Thai Yum because we figured we would be spending the rest of the weekend locked in the house.  There were a good number of people there, which I was glad to see.  Not sure whether there's always that many people out on Friday nights, or whether everyone else had the same idea we did.

Friday night we went up to the unit above us.  About a week ago I had met our new neighbor, and I thought he said that was the unit he had moved into.  We brought him a gallon of water as a housewarming present.  We knocked, but no one answered.  We left the water there with a note explaining that his balcony has a tendency to overflow and leak into his living room, if no one else had warned him about that yet.

Saturday morning I tracked down whether officers training was still happening, and was somewhat surprised to learn that it still was.  I mean, New York was a lot further from the storm than we were, but public transit was going to shut down at noon there.  The organizers explained that since the storm wasn't supposed to get there until 11pm, training would go on.  I drove up to Homewood, picked up Jitka, and drove back to training without incident.  Valerie and Amanda were also there.  To my amazement, training started on time, and the officers training portion ended on time.  They were going to go on with judges training, but we left at 2.  I drove Jitka back, once again without incident, but by then it had started to rain.

I picked up Morgan, and we moved the car to a nearby garage.  (Our condo is up on a hill, but the parking lot is a local minimum, so we thought it best to move the car.)  The rain was pretty steady as we walked back, but the wind hadn't reached us yet.  While I was out, Morgan had filled the bathtub with water.

When we got back, Tony still hadn't taken in the water, so either he was out for the weekend or I was wrong about the unit.  Either way, we were a little nervous about not being able to get into the unit in the event the drain on the balcony clogged, the balcony filled, and the water leaked over into the living room and then down through our ceiling (again).  To assuage our fears, we went up to the roof and looked down on the balcony: fortunately, it wasn't clogged at that time, so we hoped that it wouldn't become clogged during the storm.

We still had power Saturday evening, so I went ahead and made Pomegranate Chicken with Walnuts, from Every Day with Rachael Ray.

In hindsight, I should have had a vegetable with it, too.  (Cooking out of The Food Matters Cookbook has made me accustomed to having the vegetables taken care of in the entree.)  Not a keeper.  We paired it with Spier Discover Pinotage / Shiraz 2009 (South Africa), which had been on the staff recommendations shelf at Corridor Fine Wine.  Light and smoky: I liked it.

Through the night Saturday night you could hear sort of a low-level buzzing and the occasional howl of the wind, but the hurricane passed by without much incident.

By Sunday morning, the rain had stopped, and we never lost power, and the balcony didn't even leak.  We went out for a (possibly ill-advised) walk: it was still pretty windy.  There were a few downed branches and one downed streetlight in our neighborhood, but everyone else seemed to have their power, too.  We stopped at Whole Foods for coffee and then at Lenny's for lunch.  We moved the car back without incident.

Sunday afternoon I went to the grocery store (it was slightly less crowded than usual for a Sunday, because I guess everyone had gone Friday), and made Provençal Vegetables and Chicken in Packages from The Food Matters Cookbook for supper.

A good general technique (my dad used to make potato and corn packages with butter), but this particular mix of flavors was nothing special.  (It once again confirmed my conclusion that the only way to cook eggplant is with lots and lots of oil: the parts of the eggplant that had oil drizzled on them were delicious and tasted like eggplant, but the parts that were just steamed were a bit stiff and flavorless.)

In conclusion, my first hurricane was a bit anticlimactic, not unlike my first earthquake.  (Really, that was it?)

Word of the day: kenosis

The word of the day is kenosis:

Etymology:  < Greek κένωσις an emptying, < κενοῦν to empty, with ref. to Phil. ii. 7 ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσε ‘emptied himself’.
The self-renunciation of the divine nature, at least in part, by Christ in the incarnation. (OED)

"Both Christianity and Islam harshly challenge the self with an insistence on submission, sacrifice, and kenosis—an emptying out of the self, an exchange of the wrong kind of fullness for the right kind of humility—and Buddhism seeks to undermine the very idea of the sovereign, unified self."

 - James Wood, "Is that all there is?  Secularism and its discontents", 15 & 22 August 2011 The New Yorker

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Word of the day: glair

The word of the day is glair:

Etymology:  < French glaire, found in 13th cent. The forms in the other Romance languages (Provençal glara, clara, Italian chiara, Spanish clara) indicate Latin clāra, feminine of clārus bright, clear, as the source of the French word. 
1. The white of an egg; freq. in full the glair of an egg, of eggs . Also, a technical term for preparations made from the whites of eggs and used in various trade-processes, esp. book-binding. 
 2. transf. Any similar viscid or slimy substance. (OED)

"So I put it in my mouth and taste
Two dank gobbets–salty, glairy, and grayish
I should have recognized as the waste
That was my old self,
A loofah having scraped it from each crevice

And bulge, from every salacious thought and deed."

 - J. D. McClatchy, "Cağaloğlu", 15 & 22 August 2011 The New Yorker

Friday, August 26, 2011

Braised Cabbage and Sauerkraut with Sausages

Last night I made Braised Cabbage and Sauerkraut with Sausages, from The Food Matters Cookbook.  I used up the rest of the sauerkraut that we got for the Fourth of July, as well as some vegetable stock I had leftover in the fridge.  I served it with baked potatoes, as per the serving suggestion.

Morgan really liked it.

We paired it with Heavy Seas's Davy Jones' Lager.  It was indeed creamy, but not really special.

Word of the day: grotto

The word of the day is grotto:

Etymology:  < Italian grotta (for which Dante has also grotto) = Old French crote, croute, Provençal crota, Spanish gruta, Portuguese gruta < popular Latin crupta, grupta (= literary Latin crypta), < Greek κρύπτη vault; < κρύπτειν to hide. (The modern French grotte is from Italian). 
1. A cave or cavern, esp. one which is picturesque, or which forms an agreeable retreat. 
2. An excavation or structure made to imitate a rocky cave, often adorned with shell-work, etc., and serving as a place of recreation or a cool retreat. 
3. A structure of oyster-shells in the form of a grotto erected and exhibited by London street-boys on the 5th of August. (OED)

"The same unlikely
Places–a battlefield or grotto
Are returned to, while again the hollow-eyed
Ogle in flagrante devoto
And obey, shyly,
The scrambled revelations so true-and-tried."

 - J. D. McClatchy, "Cağaloğlu", 15 & 22 August 2011 The New Yorker

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Word of the day: rachitic

The word of the day is rachitic:

Etymology:  < rachitis n. + -ic suffix, perhaps after post-classical Latin rachiticus (1731 or earlier), French rachitique (1741). 
1. Med.a. Of or relating to rickets. 
b. Affected with rickets; = rickety adj. 1b. 
2. fig. Feeble; liable to collapse. (OED)

"Another attributed the remains to a man with rickets: the man had been in so much pain from his disease that he'd kept his forehead perpetually tensed–hence the protruding brow ridge.  (What a man with rickets and in constant pain was doing climbing into a  cave was never really explained.)

"Over the next decades, bones resembling those from the Neander Valley–thicker than those of modern humans, with strangely shaped skulls–were discovered at several more sites, including two in Belgium and one in France.  Meanwhile, a skull that had been unearthed years earlier in Gibraltar was shown to look much like the one from Germany.  Clearly, all these remains could not be explained by stories of disoriented Cossacks or rachitic spelunkers."

 - Elizabeth Kolbert, "Sleeping with the enemy: What happened between the Neanderthals and us?", 15 & 22 August 2011 The New Yorker

At which point I reveal that I did not know that "rickety" gets its roots from "rickets".

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

weekend update

Saturday we drove down to Annapolis to visit the much-ballyhooed Caffe Pronto.  Morgan got the flat white (which I had not heard of previously, and if you had told me it was a latte, I would have believed you), and I got the Panama Mama Cata.  It really did taste like blueberry jam.  We also picked up 12 oz of the Giddy-Up Cowboy, which is pretty good, but I don't really taste the chocolate.  Best beans we've had so far probably are still the Peet's that Morgan picked up in San Diego.

It was a lovely day (finally a break both from the torrential downpours of the previous week and from the record-breaking heat of all summer), so we took some time to walk around historic downtown Annapolis.  A new spice and tea shop had opened up since the last time we were there.  We had lunch at the Market House: I got the chicken, goat cheese, apple, and honey sandwich; Morgan got what purported to be the Best Crabcake in Maryland.

I made Spaghetti Aglio e Olio, from Rachael Ray's 30-Minute Meals, for dinner, and went to the grocery store Saturday night.  Pros of going Saturday night: there's nobody there (unlike Sunday afternoon), and the shelves are well-stocked (unlike Monday night).  Cons: there's nobody working, either, so I inexpertly packed my groceries in my reusable bags at the self-checkout.  Nothing broke, but I felt a little bad for the people behind me.  (Shoppers seems to assume that you have a bagger with you who can bag at the end of the conveyor belt while you continue to scan your purchases, as opposed to Whole Foods, whose set-up is more amenable to letting you put your groceries in the bag at the site of scanning.)

Saturday night I started making Yeasted Coffee Cake from How to Cook Everything.  I let it rise overnight in the fridge, and finished making it Sunday morning.

I had been worried that the yeast, whose expiration date was this past March, had died, but as you can see, my anxieties were misplaced.

Sunday afternoon I went in to lab briefly.  When it finally stopped raining, we took a walk, and visited Roy's for their Aloha Hour (we had never been there before).  I got The Original Hawaiian Martini, which looked like a martini but tasted like a piña colada, Morgan got the Roy's Island Mai Tai, and we shared the Tempura Crusted Spicy Ahi Roll and the Wagyu Beef Sliders.  I especially liked the sliders: each was a perfect little hamburger on its own little pretzel roll.  It was very swank, and we'll have to go back sometime.

Sunday night I made Seared Cod with Grapefruit Slaw, from Every Day with Rachael Ray.

I think I'm going to just quit trying to work with citrus.  It can be one of those items I get only at restaurants, like butter pie crusts.

I didn't dry the cod quite enough, so it was more steamed than seared.  But Morgan really liked it.