Escape your life for a little while — come play in mine.

Archive for July, 2009

Tuesday morning pick-me-up

Posted by Lissa on July 21, 2009

Rainy.  Overcast.  Today I feel like this:

In fact, I just fell out of my chair.

But this always wakes me up 🙂  (In case you live under a rock and haven’t stumbled across it yet . . . or in case you just need an infusion of Teh Awesome!)

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Lissa’s Recipe File: Chicken Penne alla Vodka

Posted by Lissa on July 20, 2009

Hmph.  I wouldn’t call it a Domestication FAIL — I do have a whole category of that, you know — but it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it, either.  Well, that’s what happens the first time you make a new recipe (shrug).

Got this from a friend of mine (my comments in italics)

Prep time: ~15 minutes (yeah f*@%ing right!!!  Maybe YOU can mince two large shallots and a whole head of garlic in fifteen minutes.  Not so much me.  If you’ve got a sous-chef or you’re trying out for Iron Chef America you MIGHT manage in 25.  Maybe.)

Cooking time: ~30-45 minutes (closer to 30 than 45, if it helps)


  • 1.25lbs boneless, skinless chicken – cubed
  • X cloves of garlic – very finely chopped
  • X shallots – very finely chopped (garlic and shallots to taste)
  • Two large cans petite diced tomatoes – drained (really, really drain these suckers — I mean pour them into a strainer and press gently with a spoon.  Just up-turning them and shaking will not do the job.)
  • Crushed red pepper flakes – a little or a lot (I used one tbsp or so and couldn’t taste it, so I sprinkled more.  That was a mistake.  Sticking with one tbsp next time!)
  • Basil (yeah, so, this basil never shows up in the recipe instructions below.  Add it or don’t add it, knock yourself out.)
  • Olive oil (about three times round the pan)
  • ¼-1/2 cups of vodka
  • 1 1lb box Penne
  • 1-2 cups heavy cream (unless you’re cooking for Mike, who really dislikes cream sauces.  Hmph.  I held myself to about a quarter cup.)


Add olive oil to large skillet – warm on low/medium

Sauté garlic and shallots – brown very lightly – DO NOT BURN (because there’s nothing sadder in a kitchen than to spend fifteen minutes carefully mincing garlic only to burn the whole mess.  No, didn’t happen this time, but has happened in the past!)

Add tomatoes – sauté for a decent while over medium heat

Add vodka – simmer down (yes, simmer down) until at least half in volume (YOU simmer down.  Schmuck.)

Add red pepper flakes to taste

Start penne in boiling water – keep for ten minutes  (box says eleven minutes, but what do I know. . . )

Add chicken to the now medium hot pan, at the same time as the pasta – until cooked (DO NOT COVER!!  I was afraid the chicken wouldn’t cook through, so I covered the pan for a few minutes.  When I lifted the lid some wicked kitchen elf had snuck over and added an entire cup of water to my sauce!  . . . at least, that’s what it looked like.  Boo!)

When penne is finished drain, add to pan

Add cream to pan over very low heat, stir!

Serves 4-6 people

The result?  Not quite a meh, but I wouldn’t call it a yay.  The watery-ness of the sauce was kind of disappointing; I almost forgot to drain the tomatoes at all, and shaking them quickly over the sink just didn’t cut it.  The dish wasn’t TOO spicy, but adding that second helping of red pepper flakes meant that you didn’t really taste the minced garlic and shallots – a great pity.  (They smelled absolutely killer while VERY lightly browning, seriously.)

Oh well!  For a first experiment, it was Okay.  I’ll heat up the leftovers using a saucepan, which should help evaporate some of that extra liquid.  Next time will be better!

Oh, I almost forgot — serve with fava beans and a nice Chianti.  (Evil grin)  No, no, just serve with some green veggies and whatever wine you like.  Enjoy!

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A perfectly decadent breakfast

Posted by Lissa on July 18, 2009

Take one toasted Light English Muffin.

Top one half with melty creamy peanut butter.

Top the other half with sweet tastebud-caressing dulce de leche.

Alternate taking bites from first one, then the other, pausing after each to savor the complimentary deliciousness, then wash down with fresh-brewed coffee.

This is the sound of me purring . . .

P.S.  Our crockpot cooks pretty hot; I’ve found that four hours, not eight hours, is more appropriate for one can.  YMMV!

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Two good ways to call someone a computer moron

Posted by Lissa on July 17, 2009

We all work with That Guy, right?  (Or in my case, That Woman.)  The one who calls the help desk because she can’t figure out how to grab a snapshot in Adobe Reader.  The one who calls you over for help because she can’t figure out how to Sort in Excel.  (You told her about the Header Row/ No Header Row significance, but she didn’t listen.  Or didn’t understand.  Despite having taken agonizingly slow notes while you demonstrated the process, AGAIN.)  That person whose printer you’ve had to set up FOUR DIFFERENT TIMES because she lost the printed out instructions (complete with screenshots) that you wrote up just for her. 

Jim the IT Guy came by the other day responding to a help desk ticket placed by That Woman.  When I wryly asked him how he liked the frivolity of That Woman’s tech issues, he rolled his eyes and said that the help desk folks had a few terms for That Woman’s software snafus:

1)      “Her keyboard driver is the problem.”  I.e., her fingers, driven by her brain.  Or lack thereof.

2)      “She’s got an I – D – ten dot tee error.”  ID10.T.  *snerk*

So there you go.  Use them wisely, my minions!

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Seen on the streets of downtown Boston

Posted by Lissa on July 16, 2009

A few blocks away from Downtown Crossing I did a double-take.  I mean, sure, I’ve been talking about how the chilly, cloudy, hazy weather reminded me of London, but that doesn’t mean I expect a slice of London to show up on the streets of Boston!


No seriously, that’s in Boston!


Of course, the driver was on the right side, meaning he was on the left side, and the back seat door handle wasn’t reachable by the driver, but even so — I wasn’t the only one taking pictures.

How odd!  Now, if only I could find a nice bacon sandwich and a pint of Kronenbourg 1664 . . .

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Why I didn’t post this morning

Posted by Lissa on July 16, 2009

As my regular readers (all four of you) may have noticed, since I bought my baby Eee I’ve been posting more in the mornings, before I go to work. I’ve mentioned before how I try to post something before I hit my fave blog spots every day; since I prefer to read rather than write, it gives me a reward for posting. That, and after reading a lot of posts by people who are more brilliant/analytical/logical/plain-up funny than me, I’m reduced to mumbling “Yeah . . . what he said . . . and she said . . . that too . . . ”

However, my nice neat little pattern was snapped this morning because I overslept. Instead of slapping the snooze button for a half hour and then (at 6:20) staggering out in search of coffee, I managed to turn off my alarm clock altogether. I have no memory of doing it; all I know is that a concerned Mike tapped on my foot at 6:40 to make sure I knew that sleeping and rolling over to sleep some more did not magically equate to getting my butt on its way to work.

Thank goodness I only took one NyQuil pill last night instead of the recommended double-dose. I’d likely still be asleep.

The sore throat has largely vanished — all hail the tea-with-honey and salt-water-gargling! (I do hate the taste of salt water. I tried to convince myself I was at the beach in Puerto Rico tasting ocean water while fighting my way through the waves. It didn’t work. Something about the wearing a suit and overhead fluorescent lights put paid to that illusion.) Sadly, at precisely 8:25 last night my sinuses took all that moisture and decided to grab it in a deathlock. I know the exact minute I became congested because that’s when I Skype’d my sister and — hey presto! — started sounding like someone shoved my head full of cottonballs. This, too, shall pass . . .

P.S. Speaking of cotton balls — along with the horse’s head we also got LilBro1 a Godfather poster. Turns out I do a not-horrible Marlon Brando impression. “Someday . . . and this day may never come . . . ”  But no, I didn’t stuff my cheeks to give me jowls. I don’t think the look would do anything for me.

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“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”

Posted by Lissa on July 16, 2009

I love it:

Ladies and gentlemen of the Hot Air community, I have discovered an unfair disparity in access to a vital resource based on the economic condition of the consumer. This disparity is not just egregious, but it threatens the very core of our American way of life. People routinely get denied adequate and competent service on the basis of their ability to pay, even though they have a right to it, while the rich eat up all the resources with their ability to access the best and brightest in the field. And in the interest of fairness, the federal government needs to find a solution and impose it on the industry as a whole.

I refer, of course, to legal representation. [snip]

Even beyond that, though, the wealthy and connected have access to a much wider range of legal services than even the middle class can afford. Estate planning, trust funds, tax shelters — all of these can be expertly provided to those with the resources to afford them, while other Americans get second-class status in our legal system. For those who aspire to egalitarianism of result, this arrangement should be such an affront that it demands real action — now.

I propose that the government impose a single-payer system on the legal profession. Instead of charging private fees, all attorneys would have to send their bills to LegalCare, a new agency in the federal government. Because the government can bargain collectively, they can impose rational fees for legal services instead of the exorbitant billing fees attorneys now charge. Three hundred dollars an hour? Thing of the past. Everyone knows that the government can control costs through price-setting; now we can see this process applied to the legal system, where the government has a large interest in seeing cost savings.


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Random thoughts

Posted by Lissa on July 15, 2009

– Mike’s sister D just received a postcard we sent her.  On our honeymoon.  Almost three months ago.  What is WRONG with the Caribbean postal service??

– We saw the trailer for Julie & Julia yesterday, and the first thing that popped out of my mouth was “I hope they include the part about Julia Child inventing shark repellent!”

– This ad came on while I was using the litter box yesterday.  Thank you, Mike, for rewinding Tivo and making sure I watched this:

My mouth hung open for a good ten seconds afterward.  Shades of Anchorman, anyone?

Ed Harken: [on the phone] I have no idea where he would have gotten ahold of German pornography. But you and I are mature adults; we’ve both seen our share of pornographic materials. Oh, you never have? Of course you haven’t, how stupid of me. Neither have I. I was just speaking in generalities. Right. I’ll stop by the school a little later, Sister Margaret. Bye.

– Last but not least — she doesn’t check this blog very often, but I would be sorely remiss if I didn’t wish Jenny a very happy birthday.  Thanks for coming into the world, thanks for holding my hand, thanks for making me get tetanus shots 🙂  Thanks for that time you brought all of your sixth-grade authority to threaten the little fourth-grade punk who was bugging me, thank you for having your high school buddies troll the junior high school halls to make sure no one picked on me, thanks for teaching me about the deliciousness of peanut-butter-and-jelly mixed together in a mug.  Thank you for reading a blessing during our wedding ceremony and thank you for crying during the first dance.  You’re the best!!

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Posted by Lissa on July 15, 2009

Hmmm.  We’ve noticed lately that the fan on my Eee seems to be working overtime.  You can hear it across the room.  Is that normal, or does Lissa need to take her baby to BestBuy for a checkup?

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Bad grammar makes me [sic]

Posted by Lissa on July 14, 2009

In retrospect, I don’t know how I got the reputation as a grammatical hardass.  After all, I never formally learned English grammar.  It’s not like I can diagram a sentence.  And the only encounters I’ve had with the present perfect or the pluperfect were in Spanish class.

Regardless, I did somehow manage to acquire that reputation.  Thus the birthday card I received from the LilBros this weekend:


Open it up to read:


We passed it around the table and every single person at the table LOL’d.

Except my mom.  🙂

Thanks LilBros!  And to Jenny for all the birthday riches she gave me last month, and to Mom for cooking and baking up a storm, and to John for cleaning and painting before our arrival.  And to Mike, for not grumbling about the four hour drive.

I love my family.

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