Saturday, July 16, 2005


(Originally posted on Saturday, July 16, 2005 by Tim)

It has been a long time since I?ve written up a recipe here. We actually haven?t been making many new meals lately. To be more honest, I haven?t been making many new meals of late. Cat has been trying new things and she?s found a few that are quite good.

Our big score this summer has been ?Chicken Fried Tofu?. Dave and I had a long discussion on ICQ over this one. He objected to the fact that the actual recipe contains no chicken and is not fried. This recipe come from our cookbook by Crescent Dragonwagon. Yes, that is her real name. I would guess she blames her parents. Almost all the meals we have made from this book have been good or great. We may have had one recipe that was OK. Once.

The best part of the Chicken Fried Tofu is an accompanying recipe for vegetarian gravy. Crescent goes on and on about how great this gravy is. I?m a pretty skeptical person and take all such ramblings with a nugget of salt. In Crescent?s case, I should just get over my cynicism. Whenever she goes on and on about something, it?s really good.

Vegetarian Gravy
4 cups vegetable stock
1 whole head of garlic, unpeeled
1 carrot, halved
1 onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
½ tsp coarsely crushed peppercorns
¼ cup nutritional yeast
½ tsp paprika
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
Extra salt and pepper to taste

Place stock, garlic, carrot, onion, bay leaf, and peppercorns in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 45 minutes. Remove from heat and pour stock through a strainer. You're interested in the garlic in the strainer and the stock so make sure to save both.

Allow garlic to cool. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of the skins into the stock. Mix in the paprika and nutritional yeast and place on low heat.

Melt the butter over low heat. Whisk in flour and cook until flour paste browns slightly (3 to 4 minutes). Slowly add butter/flour mixture to stock with stirring. Simmer stock until slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper.

This stuff is amazing. I like to season it with lots of salt and fresh ground pepper, but I'm like that.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Things you don't want to hear from your dogsitter.

(Originally posted on Wednesday, June 15, 2005 by Tim)

So I've neglected to mention one detail of Cat's adventure to graduation on Friday morning, the call from the dog sitter. Cat got the call when we were speeding down Fair Oaks street (roughly 3 miles from Caltech). I didn't hear the conversation, but it did involve the phrase, "an impressive amount of diarrhea."

This is not a phrase you ever want to hear from your dog sitter. We have a great service that does the dog sitting. Besides the being great with the dogs, they also have a steam cleaner if you catch my meaning.

The event got me to thinking about what other things you wouldn't want to hear from the dogsitter.

Dogsitter top 10
10. "Did you have two or three plush chairs in the living room?"
9. "Wow, normally dogs get over that around age two."
8. "some dogs are just diggers"
7. "I think he made your vet's day"
6. "maybe you can call us back when he get's a little older"
5. "where did you leave that blank check again?"
4. "the officer left his card on the door"
3. any sentence that contains both the words "barf" and "wallpaper"
2. "Well, the dining room still looks OK..."

and, of course

1. "an impressive amount of diarrhea"

enjoy your dinner :)

Saturday, July 9, 2005

B'burg transit

(Originally posted on Saturday, July 9, 2005 by Cathy)

What I love about Blacksburg transit:

  • Buses run exactly like the schedule says, to the minute.

    This is a first. In Seattle, buses ran pretty much when they felt like it, and could be 10 minutes early or late. (Which meant you could easily stand in the rain for 20 minutes waiting for one.) At VT, you can sit there and watch every bus that timepoints somewhere on the drillfield start up and pull out at exactly quarter past. It verges on freaky.

  • Free buses.

    Ok, technically they're "pre-paid" for VT students/faculty/staff/spouses with ID. But since that's all of B'burg, they're pretty much free. No scrounging for quarters in the bottom of my bag, no waiting while someone else does.
  • They take the by-pass to Christiansburg, instead of stopping every four feet.

What I don't exactly love about Blacksburg transit:

  • Limited summer schedule

    Granted, the ridership I see seems pretty limited, but not running the first bus on the line I need until noon means I can't take the bus to work. Cutting the bus schedule back so far seems counterproductive. Sure, there aren't all that many people on campus in summer, but the ones that are there are almost certainly either graduate students/post-docs, who have to be in first thing in the morning and last thing at night despite the summer schedule (but might sleep in on Sundays since it is summer), students taking and faculty teaching summer classes, most of which are over before noon, and staff, who work pretty much the same schedule in the summer as during the year (but with fewer interruptions). I guess the problem is that the bus I take home is the shopping mall run, and BB transit figures that no one shops before noon anyway. (Given how late our mall opens, this is almost true.)

  • Stupid 20 minute loops around the mall and the Walmart.
    I actually take two buses to get home. The Blacksburg half of the two-town trolley line takes the bypass to the Pepper's Ferry exit, then goes to Walmart, then loops all around the mall before coming to a stop at the movie theater entrance at about 20 'til. At quarter 'til, the Christiansburg half of the TTT heads out. It goes to Walmart, then K-mart, then briefly heads north (right, back towards VT) to catch the DMV and Goodwill. THEN it starts heading towards C'burg. Notice how both buses visit Walmart? If you get off the TTT-B'burg at Walmart, you can actually sit there for 18 minutes (I've timed it) and get on the TTT-C'burg when it gets there. Yep, there's 18 extra minutes in the route. If someone would just offset the two bus-lines by 18 minutes so that the C'burg bus pulled up to Walmart at the same time as the B'burg bus, I could get home in 40 minutes, instead of closer to an hour. And that's without moving a single stop. Let me move the stops around and I could do it in 30. Actually, I guess I'd need to think about the impact on the northbound bus route (maybe that just puts the 18 minutes there), but since the northbound route is precisely useless to me this summer, I'm pretending it doesn't exist anyway.

  • Limited stops

    Ok, I'll fess up. I love the fact that the B'burg bus takes the bypass. But I want the C'burg bus to stop closer to my house. From Pepper's Ferry, there's no point on getting back on the bypass anyway, so the bus just goes south on 460 business. It hits the highlights - the kroger, the rec center - but other than that, it just doesn't stop. It goes right by these places, going no more than 30 mph, with stop lights and all, but you can't get off. I walk twice as far home as I'd have to, if the powers-that-be only thought that letting me off near my corner was worhtwhile. (Unfortunately, the only thing near my corner is a detailing place, which is pretty worthless for a bus rider!) Given that the C'burg bus generally has like three people riding it, having a few extra stops on the book (that the bus just blows past) wouldn't slow it down. And heck, it might just increase ridership if the bus stops occured in quanta of less than 2 miles.

  • Stupid stops

    The B'burg TTT bus makes two stops on the drillfield. The two stops are at 9 and 12 on the clock, if you have a Dali-style clock anyway. At 9 o'clock there is no shade and no bus shelter. But down at 6 o'clock is a nice bus shelter, with benches inside and out. (Did I mention that my office is at 6:15? No bias here.) I don't mind walking up to the 9 o'clock stop when the weather is nice, but when it isn't, a 5 minute walk in the rain with NO nice dry bus shelter at the end of it, when there's a nice dry shelter just outside the door to the building? Seems kinda silly. I got totally drenched on Thursday waiting for that bus to show up.