Sunday, June 29, 2008

Led Zeppelin - The Lemon Song

Dedicated to Miriam.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Fried lumpia (lumpiang Shanghai)

This is mom's recipe, with the quantities being approximate:

2 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup diced green onion
2 lb ground pork/chicken
2 med carrots, diced fine
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp powdered bouillon
1/4 tsp salt, extra to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper, or to taste
1-2 tbsp cold water
20 egg roll wrappers
3 cups oil for deep frying

1. Mix garlic, green onions, pork/chicken, carrots and sugar in bowl. Sprinkle bouillon, salt and pepper on top and mix.
2. Cut each spring roll wrapper in half. Spoon about 2 tbsp of the ground meat mixture onto each wrapper. Moisten the edges of each wrapper with the water. Roll each wrapper, folding in the ends, then seal the edges.
3. Heat half of the oil in a frying pan over high heat until hot, then reduce the heat. Fry the rolls in a single layer in the hot oil until browned, adding more oil as needed. Serve hot with plum sauce.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Last night's dinner

Using a round manouche as the base and adapting Matt's pizza bread recipe, I made a slightly off-the-beaten-path pizza with bacon, fresh mushrooms, and homemade sheeps' milk cheese.

The sheeps' cheese was made using Chef John's recipe for fromage blanc, minus the buttermilk. I found the sheeps' milk at Ambrosia.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Well, that's official

The competing offer came in on Friday. I read the contract on the way home from work, drafted up a letter of resignation on Saturday evening, and have presented it to my current manager. The process of unhooking me has already begun.


Sunday, June 22, 2008

First truly successful attempt at non-dairy ice cream!

In the past, using A Vegan Ice Cream Paradise's recipes and my ice cream maker, I had always found that the ice cream I made didn't freeze enough during mixing, and/or ended up developing chunky ice crystals in the freezer.

Playing with different non-dairy milks/creams (such as varying types of soy milk and coconut milk) led to the eventual finding — during a green tea batch — that using nothing but soy creamer as the liquid-component in my recipes yielded a predominately ice-crystal-free ice cream.

I was still having difficulty with the mixture freezing during mixing, so decided to try a half-batch of soy ice cream, using this Lazy Vanilla recipe. I had saved crumbs from a non-dairy shortbread with cocoa nibs, and more crumbs from the brownie crust of the pie I made for dad. The end result froze beautifully during mixing, is ice-crystal- and dairy-free!

I think I like making half-batches better than full ones, any way, as I don't feel overwhelmed by the amount I have to eat before I can make the next batch, and get through more flavour combinations this way.

Update: now with video!


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Employment update

I was informed last week that I would need to jump through a few HR-related hoops before the competing job offer I'm likely to be presented with was delivered. On Monday of this week, I was told that they were going to skip that process, and that I'd hear from them shortly. So far, I haven't received an offer, but I've been thinking about some of the Pros and Cons of going to work there, as opposed to where I am now. For those who care — or are otherwise bored enough to read through — I'm listing them below, mostly 'cause it'll clear my head.

  • Better pay - it's not clear if I'll be offered what Big Pimp has started negotiations at, but it's unlikely that I'll be offered as little as what I'm currently making (which is still more than I've made anywhere else).

  • Deductions - I'm currently treated as a self-employed contractor, which usually means I end up getting hit with a major income tax payment in April of the following year.

  • Benefits - for the first time ever, I'll be legitimately drawing benefits from a workplace. I drew a small cost-of-medication benefit under the last workplace's plan, before I was informed that my probationary period was not, in fact, over yet. Wow. I hated that place. Any way, it's rare that graphic designers find work with benefits, so this is good.

  • Better career prospects - industrially diverse, high-end clients and genuine Design work would result in a better portfolio than primarily financial clients and mostly Production work.

  • Honest-to-goodness Art Direction - the A.D. I'd be working with is personable and unpretentious, but dedicated to good work. My manager here is restricted to designing for very conservative clients, so the work is less challenging.

  • Friendlier people - with the exception of the fellow I was filling in for, I was on friendly terms with all of my immediate co-workers at the competition. Here, my manager, main editor and I get along, but I wouldn't say we're friendly to one another.

  • Atmosphere - the studio allows its designers to play their music, often loud enough for others to hear.

  • Attire - jeans, sneakers and t-shirts seem to be perfectly acceptable work attire for the designers.

  • Food choices - there are fewer options for eating out.*

  • Kitchen sink - ridiculously, my current workplace doesn't have kitchen sinks. No bringing in cutlery, dishes, or drinking vessels without having to take them home to clean them!

  • Less expensive - the neighbourhood I'd be in isn't as outrageously pricey as the current one is.

  • More exercise - I'd often walk a leg of my transit-journey to avoid the hassle of taking the bus such a short distance.

  • Lighting - I'm currently sitting by a big, glorious window. The opposing job offer doesn't provide views to its designers.

  • Location - the competing neighbourhood isn't as accessible as the one I'm currently at, or as fun to browse, but it takes about the same amount of time to get there.

  • Re-settling - I've got things laid out at my current desk quite reasonably. Picking up and having to start over again isn't appealing, but a small consideration in comparison to most of the other items on this list.

  • Food choices - there are fewer options for eating out.*

*This is listed as both a Pro and a Con.

Verdict: The competing offers wins out by a landslide.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

By special request

Dad asked for a Key Lime Pie for Father's Day. Of course, finding Key limes — or their juice — is impossible at this time of year, so I decided to make it using regular limes. As this is for a guy who's quite happy with Shiriff brand lemon meringue pie, I'm not gonna sweat the technicality.

To make this me-friendly, I made sweetened condensed soy milk and followed this recipe for Key lime pie. I did this once before, several years ago, and can confidently say that I vastly improved upon the consistency of the fake condensed milk.

Rather than use a graham crust for the base, I decided to go with chocolate — dad loves dark chocolate. I couldn't bring myself to use the preservative- and milk-laden "usual suspect" chocolate cookies, and the alternative didn't look any better, so I decided to use a tried-and-true recipe for brownies as the base.

I may garnish with fresh lime slice or a sprig of my (remarkably thriving) "chocolate" mint.

The things I do for that guy.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

57 kinds

Last Monday,I began working again — on a year-long contract — at Rogers Media, in their Custom Communications, Healthcare & Financial Services Group. In layman's terms, I'm designing and producing magazines and ads for their financial and healthcare clients.

I spent most of Monday being trained by the previous freelancer. In the L-shape desk that is now mine, that meant looking over my left shoulder for most of the day. So I woke up on Tuesday morning with a sore neck. Which went into spasms around noon. Which were so bad that it made walking difficult. Which my doctor prescribed a powerful muscle relaxant for. Which knocked me out every time I took it. Which meant I missed a full day of work on Wednesday.

All drama aside, my neck is almost 100% again, I've tidied and organized my cubicle, and am adjusting nicely to the workflow. I'm confident that I could have a good career here.

Of course, the reason I was hesitant to post about any of this is because these guys and I are in negotiations to get me working with them, for considerably higher pay, benefits and higher-profile clients. It's quite possible that I'm going to have to give two weeks notice to Rogers by week's end.

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