Archive for the ‘materialism’ Category


The Nuts

October 14, 2007

Alas, not a poker post. Instead, I’ve been tinkering the last few days with spiced and roasted nuts, both sweet and savory. (I’m at home, I figure I should be in the kitchen at least part of the day.)

They’re super-easy to make, very forgiving in their recipes, and then, after all the spicing and the cooking, you get to eat them. Good stuff. That said, for all that they’re easy, I burned the hell out of the first batch. Burned them black and brown, straight through. The batches since then, though, have each been good in their own ways.

If you want to try something similar, here’s what you do:

Sweet Cashews

Sweet Cashews

4 cups unsalted cashews
4 tablespoons butter
a little shy of 6 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon crushed/powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground orange peel
some nutmeg
some salt

Mix all those spices, except the salt, in a little bowl and set them aside. Don’t lose them.

Get a saucepan, something with a lot of surface area, and put it over medium heat. (Don’t use a wok — I tried that, and not enough nuts were hot enough at the same time.) Better to use too little heat than too much. Cashews toast fast.

Put those cashews into the saucepan. They’re start to smell good almost immediately. You could pop a few out of the pan and into your mouth, but they’re, you know, in a saucepan over medium heat, so be careful. Stir them around for four or five or more minutes, and toss some salt in there with them. Even better: grind sea salt on them. Sea salt’s great. If some of the cashews are getting a little (or a lot) browned on the sides, I think that’s a good sign, because that is genuine toasting, and those cashews are going to taste great.

But it’s time for butter. Put the butter in the pan and stir it all around. A good measure for time I found: Put in that half stick as a stick and keep it all moving until there’s no more stick, just buttery cashews.

Next, sprinkle on that mix of spices. Do it in a few batches, maybe thirds, so you can get the cashews into the brown-sugar glaze that’s forming. Stir like crazy. I didn’t stir enough and I ended up with a bunch of brown-sugar goop all over, which sounds like it would taste great, and maybe is, if you like to just in front of the TV and eat brown sugar. (Looking at you, wife.)

Oh! You know what? If you got a good lid for that saucepan, put it on and toss those cashews like you were stir-frying shrimp or something. That ought to work.

When they’re done, pour them onto a cookie sheet with or without aluminum foil. (How will you know when they’re done? My experience has been that they’re done about 60 seconds before I stop stirring them.) Spread them out into a single layer. Eat a few. Remember: they’re hot. Also, at this point, they’re probably gooey. Scrape out any excess brown sugar goop. Maybe give some of that to the dog, if she’s good.

Let them cool about an hour. (Good luck not touching them for an hour.) You should end up with tasty, sweet cashews with a soft glaze and uneven coating of spiced brown sugar. These isn’t the kind of recipe that yields a lethal, teeth-splitting candy shell. If, through the delicate alchemy of the process, you end up with something unexpected, don’t look at me. I pretty much just cross my fingers and put in cinnamon when I don’t know what to do.

Savory Cashews

Savory Cashews

about 2 cups unsalted cashews
2 tablespoons butter
roughly 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon crushed/powdered ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon or so jerk seasoning
too much garlic
several pinch-fulls of herbes de Provence (which you know I love)
a whole bunch of sea salt

The first time I tried these, I dressed them all up and then roasted them on the grill. Smelled great. Were ruined. I also made my classic mistake of putting a little bit of every damn spice I like or like the name of, which created a taste with no particular flavor. It was okay, but it wasn’t exactly compelling eating. My mouth was all, “Uh, okay, but I don’t know what this is.”

This time I just mimicked the sweet recipe but tossed in a bunch of savory junk. I’d read a recipe for rosemary roasted cashews that also used brown sugar, so I figured what the hell. Everybody likes brown sugar, right? Or, rather, my wife likes brown sugar, right? I put some in, and thought of it as insurance. Plus it helps the spices stick, and keeps stuff from getting too hot. (I love it when you eat something, and it’s sweet, and then it’s spicy, so you go back for more to get the sweet back, and get caught in that delicious cycle.)

The jerk seasoning I used was McCormick’s, which is mostly sugar, red pepper, thyme, allspice, salt and onion. All the sugar in there, combined with all the brown sugar I put with it, ended up with these savory things still being pretty sweet. Also, I only used about two-thirds of the spices and brown sugar I listed. It seemed like too much brown sugar. So, to counterbalance the spices that didn’t get added because they were mixed in with the brown sugar I didn’t add, I put in a bunch more garlic and jerk seasoning.

Anyway, the routine here is the same as above: medium heat, toast, butter, spices, stir, stir, stir, spread out, cool. If it doesn’t come out looking like the picture, or tasting any good, I don’t know what to tell you. I pretty much just cross my fingers and put in lots of garlic when I don’t know what to do.

Music: PJ Harvey, “The Devil”


The Old Phone

October 4, 2007

Old Phone

Well, that happened.

In a way, I suppose this is a fine little allegory for the past seven days. Communications break down? I find myself unable to reach or receive the outer world? I brought this on myself? Check. Check. Check.

Anyway, at this point you shouldn’t assume that I have your phone number anymore, as it was all in the phone. So if you have my email address (the one at and you think I might want to hear from you, please send me your current contact information. Yes, you.


To Play It Like An Instrument

September 20, 2007

So, I bought one of these. (Why? Because I am irresponsible with money.) Am using it now. It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.


The Golden Apple

September 2, 2007

The old external hard drive is replaced. The names of its three partitions have been re-absorbed into the list of possible names for future devices, and the new hard drive is here. As of this writing, I have erased the hard drive on Arethusa (the MacBookPro) and am reinstalling software updates from the last year or so, to bring the thing up to date. (I am writing this on the eMac.) This, like the massive back-ups I did all through the night, will take a couple of hours. When it’s done, I will re-install Boot Camp, re-partition the hard drive, and install a few of the PC games I’ve been playing of late: EVE Online and LOTRO.

You know what this means. A new peripheral means a new pretentious, overwrought name must be chosen. And, Lo!, it is done.

The new external hard drive is a Seagate FreeAgent Pro. It glows this weird amber color. Thus, its single, enormous partition (about 450 GB) has been named the Golden Apple.

The Golden Apples of the Hesperides, not to be confused with about a million other golden apples (and peaches of immortality) from various world mythologies, were hidden on an island in the far west, beyond the Straight of Gibraltar, and protected by a hundred-headed dragon. Hera wanted to be certain that their life-giving power didn’t fall into wrong hands. (Hera tended to have a funny notion of “wrong hands,” though.) The Golden Apples were the target of Hercules’ eleventh labor.

Whereas the last HD was intended to house data from our PC and our Macs, this one is dedicated to our Macs alone. Plus, since the job of this new HD is to approximate a degree of immortality for the data of the other hesperid computers — Arethusa (second definition) and Hesperia (first definition) — the name seems fitting. Beyond all that, it reminds me of an old haunt in my beloved Chicago.


Part Brick, Part Big Hole

August 15, 2007

So, it turns out that my external, back-up hard drive, rather than being an external, back-up hard drive, is actually just a hole in which I have been tossing important information and lots of money in iTunes TV shows for the last year or so. A hole in a tomb in a plastic brick with a white flashing light on it.


Testing the iTunes Paranoia

July 26, 2007

On Monday, the Logan’s Run TV series came up at work. On Tuesday, I discovered it’s available on iTunes now.

Today, at the comic shop, I mentioned to Craig that I really do intend to buy the Johnny Quest DVD set at some point. Tonight, I discovered it’s available on iTunes now, too.

So, to test the limits of my TV-show-summoning powers, I now type this: If Max Headroom were to become available on DVD, I’d buy it.

And now… we wait.


Do I Quit WoW?

July 16, 2007

So. Should I quit World of Warcraft? I haven’t played in a couple of months now, and when I log on to kill an hour with my weird alien shaman, Airiksandir, I just look at my quest list and think to myself, “I really don’t want to do all these damned Strangethorn quests again.” It’s the same stuff again. But I’ve got 25 gold to spend, and I still haven’t seen most of the Outlands (is that what it’s called?).

The lvl 60+ zones don’t seem real well built to me. Shattrath City is an ugly bore, and the wilderness is overcrowded with monsters that really punish exploration, it feels like. But the Draenei starting area was magnificently well put together. The first 20 levels with my new character were great fun, all over again. But do I want to pay $15 a month to drag that dude to a higher level for no reason? Shouldn’t I be playing with my 360, instead? I’ve hardly touched that thing.

(And of course, right after I log in with my riffing-on-Russian-named character, I see a Draenei named Vassili Zaytsev and slap myself in the forehead. Why didn’t I think of that?)

Music: Nine Black Alps, “Cosmopolitan”