Jello Jello

Excuse the poor photography.  Winnie’s molded salad is much more beautiful, but per her request, here I present from Thanksgiving 2009: Molded salad and molded dessert.

Exhibit one: the salad course.  We were asked to bring a salad to Thanksgiving, and after much hand-wringing, we settled on a molded Waldorf salad.  In the shape of a turkey.  I can only imagine that the recipe came from the internet somewhere.

Exhibit two: The dessert.  As a bonus (and because we were using a cake mold that had two sides) we also brought a molded dessert.  Layered panna cotta, with the bottom layer being sweet potato, the middle layer marshmallow, and the top layer brown sugar.  This presentation is somewhat lacking because we left it too long in the warm water (to aid in the unmolding) and it got a little too melty.

Here they are sitting in their pre-unmolded state.  The mold is from Williams Sonoma and borrowed from a friend who made a turkey-shaped cake the year before.  As you can see, we misunderestimated the volume of the waldorf salad.

I have no recollection of how they tasted.

The Tamale Lady’s birthday

We went to Zeitgeist (great bar with patio and bike parking and a grill out back — and some filthy bathrooms) last night for my friend’s birthday.  It turns out that June 24 is also the Tamale Lady’s birthday!  The Tamale Lady is patron saint to San Francisco hipsters — she travels from bar to bar with coolers full of tamales and a bottle of hot sauce, and saves you from yourself when you’re too drunk and hungry to feed yourself. Here she is, dressed in hot pink, serving some birthday-special chicken mole out of some really big pots.

Tamale lady serves up chicken mole

It was a damn good chicken mole. It also came with some really odd pasta salad. This plate of food and all-you-could-drink Speakeasy beer was $10. Not a bad birthday party.

Damn good mole

Tamales covered in mole are pretty amazing too. Her prices seem to have gone up — it was $3.50 each, where I remember paying $2.. but that was years ago, so perhaps it’s just inflation and rising food prices.

Tamales and mole


I am almost certain that a great deal of my love for food is genetically inherited from my grandmother, whom I call Puo-Puo. I have only muddled memories of food she made for me as a child — ma-puo tofu that I was afraid to eat because it might be too spicy, candied slices of virginia ham pressed between two layers of wonderbread that I would fetch out of a foil wrapped package in the refrigerator (a variant of a hunan dish using what was available in America). The memories are confused with a household that was full of people and many many talented cooks. I can’t remember offhand when she stopped cooking — was it when I was in elementary school or middle school?

Puo-Puo is 93 years old, having been born in 1914, just months after the onset of World War I. She has six children, thirteen grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. She danced at her grandchild’s wedding at the age of 90. On Sunday, she protested when my uncle made her use a walker to get down the hallway of the rehab center where she was recovering from hip surgery. I happened to be in town and was very fortunate to get to see her. Here is a photo of her that day:


On Monday Puo-puo had a massive stroke. She is still in the ICU but is stable, but the doctors don’t think she will recover fully from this. I am back in San Francisco anxiously awaiting updates from my family and am thinking of her.

Sadly, Puo-puo passed away in her sleep in the early morning hours of June 26. I will miss her.

strawberries redux

We were in the process of scarfing down the entire basket of strawberries when I remembered that I owed winnie a photo of farm box strawberries.

we ate almost half the basket before i could get my camera out

Sadly, the strawberries this week are only about 2/3 as delicious as they were last week. That didn’t stop us though, and only five strawberries survived the first onslaught, only to be murderously dismembered and put in the icebox.


The survivors did not last long, as they were sacrificed along with a bowl of Shredded Spoonfuls the next morning.


strawberry season has begun

When I got home on Wednesday, our usual farm box pickup day, A. complained about how light it was, implying that we hadn’t gotten very much this week. When we opened it up, we realized that the majority of the farm box value was represented by a basket of succulent red jewels. Technically strawberry season began last week, but I was out of the country and thus opted out of last week’s box.

Also, my CSA has a blog now.

just like how people look like their dogs

Did you know that Chris Ware looks just like a character out of his books? Not only that, but he acts like one too. I saw him with Art Spiegelman at a talk at the JCCSF, which has a fabulous lecture series. Definitely see Art Spiegelman sometime — he is hilarious.

Just queued up at on the SFPL request list: Ice Haven by Daniel Clowes (both Ware and Spiegelman are huge fans of him), Black Hole by Charles Burns, and Blankets by Craig Thompson. Also Battlestar Galactica Season 2 Disc 2. Have I told you how much I love the library?

music and quantum mechanics

I was about to write the following sentence: If you get the chance, catch the Eels on their current tour. But then I checked their tour dates and it turns out they’ve already hit the east coast. Joyce, you can still go see it this week.

They played at the Palace of the Fine Arts Theatre, which I’ve never been to before. I knew vaguely where it was, but I didn’t realize it was the same building as the Exploratorium. The ticket people let us take our burritos into the lobby and we bought cold beer and life was good. The venue itself is pretty drab but full of cushy seats, and as soon as I sat down, I said, “This would be a great spot to watch a movie.”

And then the lights went down and the movie started. Really. (My friend leaned over and whispered, “Next time you should wish winning the lottery.”) The opener was a movie about E’s father who, as a graduate student, invented/discovered (the different between these two concepts is not clear to me when it comes to theoretical physics or math) the concept of parallel universes. Seriously. I looked it up on Wikipedia so it must be real. The film, Parallel Lives, Parallel Universes, was made for the BBC, and it’s worth seeing if you get the chance. The show was great too, a sweet-and-sad rock show with a dose of melodramatic rock opera. We were sitting in the center, six rows back, and it felt incredibly intimate even though 1,000 people were sitting behind us. Storytime with a crazy guy, his friend, and a circle of musical instruments.

bring your own big wheels

I think I forgot to post my photos from the big wheels race. Please proceed through my flickr set for a brief tour of the 2008 edition of “Bring Your Own Big Wheels”.

the racers line up at the starting mark

proofreading spam

This is an actual screenshot of my gmail spam folder today.

7 hobbies

How does a subject header like this get generated?

a) Perhaps there are minions that type spam subject headers, and one of them thought the title to the book was actually “7 hobbies”

b) Perhaps one of those minions thought he was being funny when he intentionally mistyped the book title

c) How might this phrase become generated by a computer? One might assume that a computer would not randomly through this phrase together. But perhaps it draws phrases out from the collective wisdom of the internet. Which leads me to the obvious conclusion that someone else on the internet must have once upon a time typed this phrase. Which brings us back to hypotheses a and b.

new everyday taqueria

Taqueria near REI on Brannan
I have a new everyday taqueria — Dos Amigos next to the REI on Brannan. FYI, my calculation for an everyday taqueria goes something like this:

rating α taste ÷ (distance + price)

The meats and juicy and delicious, particularly the chile verde ones. It’s a tiny storefront tucked along a street next to REI (I replaced my mini-nalgene so now I can be hydrated again), and there is a little table inside and then a line of tables outside, along a busy street that leads to the highway. Also I had to take a photo of this:
my taqueria has valet parking

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