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Archive for May, 2010

Dear Travel Channel and Food Network,

First let me say that I am an avid viewer of many of your series, including Man v. Food, Bizarre Foods, No Reservations, Diners Drive-ins & Dives, and numerous other programs. I think you’re doing a bang-up job. However, if I see one more show about barbeque restaurants, barbeque cook-offs, or barbeque cooking in general, I will be forced to throw my boyfriend’s television out of our living room window.

I am absolutely sick of hearing about BBQ. I don’t care about the many variations of North Carolina BBQ sauce (vinegar base v. ketchup base), or the dry rub method favored in Kentucky, or the pit beef of Baltimore. I refuse to sit and watch another stocky, overall-clad Southerner talk about how important it is to cook the meat “low and slow” and then boast about how he smokes his pork for 36 hours straight until it “falls right off the bone”—at which point, the host will pull the bone clean out of the pork, hold it up to the camera, then indulge in a piece of meat and gush over how tender and delicious it is.

I never, ever want to see another shot of brisket being sliced (what I refer to as “the money shot”). I never want to watch the pitmaster slather on another coat of BBQ sauce with one of those disgusting sauce mops. I’ve pretty much seen enough BBQ B-roll footage to last me the rest of my life. Also, on your various restaurant shows, please do not feature any more old-timey BBQ warehouse joints that serve their meat (alongside a few slices of Wonder bread) on butcher paper.

I GET IT.

There has to be some other cuisine to which you can dedicate hours and hours of programming. I urge you to find one.

Thank you,
Rachel Lazzaro

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Yes, my progress on this bread project is still waning, but I haven’t given up just yet! I made bread no. 23 quite a few weeks ago but haven’t gotten around to blogging it until now. You may remember that I was excited about this one because of how visually appealing it looked in the book. Well, mine did come out looking somewhat similar (not quite as beautiful, obviously), however, this bread took a lot of time, so I can’t say it was one I will be making again any time soon—even though it was delicious!

This bread took a total of 3 days to make. Day 1 was the starter. Day 2 was the rest of the dough, which I had to mix and shape into pretty little S’s, which turned out to be harder than I thought due to the excessive heat that day and our lack of a proper air conditioner at the time. Without getting into too much detail, I will just say that the dough was extremely sticky and hard to roll out, and the heat did not leave me with much patience. Once the loaves were finally formed, they went in the refrigerator overnight, and were then baked on Day 3. Here is the finished product.

In other bread news, after much soul searching, I have decided to TEMPORARILY skip bread no. 24, Panettone (fruit cake), and move directly onto no. 25, Pizza Napoletana. There are many factors that led to this decision, the primary one being that it calls for a wild yeast starter which takes four days to make (not counting the time it will then take to make the bread). It also calls for dried fruits, nuts, and rum, all of which are items that would really jack up my grocery bill. Thirdly, Panettone is a Christmasy-type of bread anyway, so I may as well put it off at least until summer is over. So, maybe I’m sort of cheating, but whatever. I don’t think the bread police are going to come looking for me any time soon.

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3 More Hours

I have three hours left at a job where I have virtually no responsibilities other than sitting at a desk all day. I’ve had enough of Facebook and Stumbleupon and don’t feel like starting a new book just yet, so the only option left is to try to piece together some sort of terrible blog to break up the monotony of the day.

Item 1. Today my car hit 88,888 miles. It was pretty cool. I took a picture of the odometer with my phone, and it was even cooler that I didn’t get into an accident while doing so.

Item 2. Once I got to work, I pulled up the picture to give it a second look. At that point, I discovered that my POS, 3+ year-old phone had taken 175 pictures of the inside of my purse. Nice.

Item 3. I have a love/hate relationship with the Kinnelon library because every single time I work here, there is some sort of dessert product in the staff room. Today I went downstairs for my yogurt/granola/strawberries/banana Health Fest lunch, only to find a huge plate of leftover chocolate cake sitting on the table. Every day of work is an exercise in willpower. I am proud to say I did not indulge in any cake today.

Item 4. I had a dream that I was in A&P, in the self check-out line. I had just scanned all of my groceries and the total came to $92. I went to bag some of the stuff and then went back to the kiosk to pay, only to find that the woman behind me had already started scanning her stuff. So, I grabbed my bags and left without paying. As I was leaving I was worried that the store employees would come after me, but they didn’t. I felt guilty about stealing the groceries but also torn because, well, $92 is a hefty bill.

Item 5. Last week, I was lucky enough to be in the car during an episode of WNYC’s Radiolab, which hasn’t happened in about a year and was a real treat! The show was very interesting; here is a link if you’re interested: Limits. Enjoy!

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Buzzkill

I was just walking around Montclair, running errands, feeling productive, and having a nice little day in general. The weather was nice and my iPod was shuffling away. Towards the end of my trek, I saw the following:

1. A man and woman walking past the police station, the man looking supremely aggravated and yelling pretty loudly at the woman, while she trailed about 10 feet behind him.

2. A homeless woman sitting in an alley.

3. A woman tried to cross the street (I don’t think she had the right of way), almost got hit by a car but instead just got severely honked at. The driver stopped his car long enough for them to yell at each other a little more, then drove away.

I guess not everyone can have a nice little day.

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Sushi Etiquette

Another great StumbleUpon find! Especially helpful if you eat sushi as much as I do.

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Last night, I saw something. Something so chilling it will likely haunt my dreams for weeks to come. I hesitate to even write about it for fear of reliving the unpleasantness. But, as a faithful blogger, I feel obligated to tell my harrowing tale.

I was taking the trash out, so I walked over to the side of the house to retrieve the garbage cans. I found that most had already been put out in front of the house, but there were a couple left, so I wanted to make sure there weren’t any garbage bags in any of them. I went over to one of them and gave the rim a tug to see if it felt heavy. It did. I looked into the can and, instead of trash bags, there was about a foot and a half of rainwater in the can…with a dead squirrel floating inside it.

I leapt away from the can and high-tailed it out of there as fast as I could. At present, I have no idea if it’s still there or not, although my gut tells me it probably is. This episode irked me in more ways than one. First, there is the obvious public health issue. I don’t like the idea of that thing rotting away in that dirty water. But, I wasn’t about to just put the can on the curb with all the others, because it wouldn’t be fair to the garbage man to get doused with dead squirrel water. So, I don’t know how this situation is going to sort itself out, because I for one am not going near the can again. Hopefully one of the other neighbors will rise to the occasion and dispose of the corpse.

Now, beyond this issue, I also have loads of other concerns. First, what is the true explanation for the squirrel’s death? Suicide? Was life becoming too much to bear for this one? If I interviewed the other squirrels around our yard, would they say that he was the quiet one who always kept to himself? Could this have all been avoided if someone had just reached out to him?

Or, maybe it wasn’t suicide. Maybe it was just an accident. Perhaps he was jumping from tree to tree, accidentally fell into the can, and was unable to escape. It pains me to think of his last minutes of life. He was probably really scared and could have been thinking, “Oh, if I had only jumped into a different tree, none of this would be happening.” Did his life flash before his eyes? Did he have a family that he was worried about?

Or, the scariest possibility of all: what if it was murder? I hesitate to think foul play was involved, but I suppose anything is possible. Maybe he was in over his head with the squirrel mafia and wasn’t able to pay off his gambling debts in time. Unfortunately, I did not look at the corpse long enough to determine if he had little cinder blocks tied to his feet. If the mob had nothing to do with it, maybe it was just a fellow squirrel. Maybe the two of them had gotten into a skirmish over a woman (female squirrel, as it were), or nuts or something, and things got out of hand. If this is the case, I hope that rogue squirrel is brought to justice.

I am so perplexed by the endless questions posed by the body on the side of my house. I have half a mind to go outside and do some gumshoeing, maybe call the local M.E. for a postmortem…but that woud all involve getting near that garbage can which, unfortuntately, I refuse to do.

Rest in peace, little squirrel.

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I was working at the Kinnelon Library reference desk the other day and a woman called and later came in looking for some books her son needed for a paper. I found the one relevant book that Kinnelon had, and helped her pick out three other good books at other libraries. I then called the other two libraries and asked them to hold the books for the woman, who would pick them up later that day. The woman was super appreciative and even went to far as to suggest that I ask for a raise (if only!). She also said that she had called the library on a previous occasion, and whomever she spoke to had been rude to her. She told me that she had debated calling the library again, but was glad that she did.

Times have been tough for libraries and librarians. Jobs are few and far between, and the search process is becoming increasingly frustrating. New Jersey libraries as a whole are losing massive amounts of funding, which has just hit home for me as I’ve watched fellow colleagues get laid off from their jobs at the Montclair PL as a result of budget cuts. It’s a shame that these non-profit, service-oriented organizations have to endure these potentially crippling cuts, considering how much of a help they have been to communities since the onset of the economic downturn.

Despite the doom and gloom that has befallen this profession, it was nice to have a reminder of why I got into librarianship in the first place. I like to help people and make them feel like I care about what they need, which I don’t think you see a lot of in most other settings. Hopefully I will be able to continue in this vein, but time will tell.

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