Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


Christmas Baking 2009, Round 1

Christmas Baking 2009, Round 1
Originally uploaded by Nikchick.
I did my first round of Christmas baking today.

Today's dishes: ginger-wasabi popcorn, fudge sauce, barbecue spice rub, sugarplums, chocolate-filled croissants, apricot rugelach, and chocolate gingerbread bundt cake.

Only one of my planned recipes met with disaster, because my oven was running a little hot. Two cookie sheets of mixed spiced nuts ended up burning. They weren't uniformly burned, just enough so that they tasted gross. After sampling I decided to toss them.

Oh, I also made some cheddar and chive scones today. Don't like the recipe I used as much as the Cooking Light and America's Test Kitchen recipes for scones I've used in the past but they were satisfying enough with a couple of cups of coffee.

I've got cranberries marinating in a simple syrup for tomorrow's two-fer recipe: sugared cranberries, with the bonus of leftover cranberry-infused simple syrup! Must mix up some cocktails with that this holiday.

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Brunch at Verve

Pork Belly and Egg Close-up
Originally uploaded by Nikchick.
Verve is a spacious wine bar in Columbia City, tucked around the corner from more visible eateries like Jones Barbecue and Geraldine's Counter. I'd been there once or twice before shortly after they'd opened but for one reason and another hadn't been back. Until this week I didn't know they do a weekend brunch. Since this happens to be my first Kate-free weekend since before Christmas, it occurred to me that it would be a swell time to try out the brunch.

We were not disappointed. In fact, we were quite thrilled with the results of our excursion. For about $5 more than we would have spent on a satisfactory breakfast at Geraldine's Counter we had a spectacular breakfast at Verve. I'll take that for a fiver!

It was also the first time I got some decent shots in with the camera we got as a Christmas gift, so I hope this will mean a return to my food blogging in 2009. I do so enjoy the food blogging.

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Another trip

Grand Canyon
Originally uploaded by Nikchick.
We were in Las Vegas the last four days to prepare for and attend the Diamond/Alliance Open House, which was being held at Bally's this year. Because we were traveling light and didn't send out our usual full convention display our set-up took an amazingly short amount of time and we found we had a lot time to kill. We tried to entertain ourselves in the usual ways (finding entertaining lounge acts or hitting any of the numerous wonderful places to eat) but I'm finding that I may, perhaps, be done with Vegas for those things.

Instead we decided to be spontaneous, rent a car, and toodle out to see the Hoover Dam. In the taxi on the way to get our car the cab driver told us that the South edge of the Grand Canyon was (as we'd said) too far to go in an afternoon, it would be a lot shorter to hit Grand Canyon West, home of the Hualapai Skywalk. Pramas already blogged about how that turned out.

We did get some night photos out at Guano Point, though, and I managed to get them uploaded before I had to leave the hotel this morning. I still have a bunch of Finland photos waiting to be put up and now I have Hoover Dam and Vegas restaurant photos to add to the queue but I thought the Grand Canyon photos should get a quick viewing while I try to catch up.

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Wine and Games

Jess has a wine locker at a wine storage place here in Seattle. One of the benefits of this is that they have a room that members can use for private tastings or small gatherings. It was the perfect location for a little wine and gaming. Originally we were going to play some old-school D&D but we were down a couple players and the GM had a hard week so we defaulted to Descent instead. Great space. I took a bunch of photos.

Sunday Pramas left for GDC so Kate and I cooked up a batch of food John and Jenny. Yesterday was the official due date (though no baby sign yet) and we wanted to make sure they were loaded up with some food in the freezer while they wait for their little pumpkin to arrive. They got a batch of Thai-style Ground Beef, a couple pans of Chicken Enchiladas Verdes, and some Lasagna Rolls that Kate did herself from start to finish. Then we baked up a pan of Chicken with Olives and Lemon and a rice cooker full of rice and arrived with dinner hot and ready to go. Had a nice dinner and and even nicer visit. Am very excited to see them with their baby... not long now.

I also uploaded a gazillion photos that have been sitting on my hard drive waiting for attention. I've got a set for our trip to Boom Noodle, my visit to Brouwer's for Belgian beers and pomme frites, a photo set from the Theo Chocolate tour, photos from Jenny's baby shower last month, a look at the room where Chris did his sleep study, and a recent visit to Aoki Sushi.

Whew. You'd think I'd been busy or something.

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Fatty tuna!
Originally uploaded by Nikchick.
Seattlest (a part of the vast -ist empire) used this photo of fatty tuna from my Umi Sake House Flickr set to accompany an article about food handling permits, toilet paper failure, and no bare hand contact. Yay! (And ewwww.)

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Pretty cookies

Pretty cookie
Originally uploaded by Nikchick.
I've posted the photos of our cookie baking craziness. Kate took this one herself. She's getting to be pretty good with a camera! You can find the rest of the photos in this set at this link.

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Food Photos

Originally uploaded by Nikchick.
I've put up some food photos from this week. The GenCon 2007 photos are in another set, but this is how I ended my day of horrific travel: pizza at Tutta Bella in Columbia City (olive oil, fresh figs, proscuitto, and chevre is the "pizza of the day" this month) followed by some Nutella sorbet and a shot of espresso.

I feel better.

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Coolest Website of the Weekend

A cat's eye view of the world. Some wacky guy in Germany rigged up his pet cat with a digital camera and captured photos of his cat's daily travels. The photo above is just one example of the cat's photography.

Mr. Lee CatCam

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New Photos

roasted garlic close-up
Originally uploaded by Nikchick.
I've uploaded a bunch of new photos, including:


Carmelita (starting with the garlic photo to the end of the set)


and some of the bounty that's been arriving in my CSA Box. I'm going to be updating this set every week throughout my subscription.

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Waste: A Photo Essay

I recently ordered myself a new 12-inch non-stick skillet and a mini silicone spatula from Amazon.com. The skillet replaces a ten-year-old skillet whose Teflon coating is finally starting to blister and peel, the spatula replaces a similar spatula whose head detaches from its handle and allows all sorts of gunk to be trapped up inside. I suppose neither are strictly necessary but I didn't feel that I was being entirely frivolous in placing the order, either. I received both items in perfect condition:

What I had not anticipated when placing my order was the amount of packaging that would be involved!

I was really taken aback by the large box and didn't at first even realize what was contained inside. The frying pan manufacturer packed the pan in a sturdy box, wrapped the handles in protective covering, stablized the whole thing with additional cardboard inserts... and then Amazon packed that box inside of an even larger shipping box and packed cushioning material around that.

The spatula was even more ridiculous. Though ordered at the same time and requested to be shipped together, the two items came from different suppliers and so shipped separately. The spatula is literally small enough to fit in about the space of a standard business-size envelope. It actually arrived in a 12" x 9" x 4" box, with the remainder of the space taken up with plastic air pillows and other cushioning or promotional materials.

The whole incident got me thinking. What is the environmental impact of this act of commerce? I can (and do, and will continue to) recycle the cardboard and paper, but not the plastic or foam. Sometimes I save the yards of plastic air pillows that arrive in the various packages I receive to reuse them in packages I send out but I receive far more than I can use or store. What was the cost of shipping those two packages separately? Should I have just gone down to Southcenter or Williams Sonoma and picked the items up in person? What if they didn't have the items I wanted (and surely the local culinary store receives shipments that come in large boxes filled with packing materials, too). I know it sounds like I'm condemning Amazon for its packaging but I do understand that packaging to avoid damages is important to business. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if this untidy method is actually the less environmentally (and commercially) damaging option when compared to a scenario where using less packaging results in more damages (resulting in more shipping, returns, and damaged goods that then go to waste instead of being put to use). Even so, I find the whole transaction has left me feeling unsettled about my choices. I'm definitely going to care for these new kitchen gadgets to make them last as long as possible (not that I wouldn't have anyway, but I still feel it's worth saying). If I'm going to generate this kind of impact, I'm going to make sure it was as "worth it" as possible.

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