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Recently, the New York Times featured an article on the Quest for the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie. This quest starts with the Tollhouse cookie recipe, off the back of the Nestle chocolate chip bag, an easily defendable starting point. Millions of bakers have successfully made these cookies to delighted oohs and ahhs.

It turns out, Nestle left a key instruction out of Mrs. Wakefield's (the owner of the Toll House Inn, where the cookie recipe originated) original recipe. Practically, this instruction would not have been well received by many home bakers--specifically, the step that was left out was to let the prepared batter age to allow the flour to fully hydrate. Additionally, the NYT recipe suggested the addition of a sprinkling of sea salt on the cookies.

A and I tested the NYT recipe, testing the cookies resulting from batter aged 0 hours, 24 hours, and 36 hours. This was a real chore, I can tell you. At 0 hours, the cookies spread very easily in the oven, resulting in a thin chewy cookie--the principal difference at this point from the Tollhouse recipe is the salty sweet finish.

At 24 hours, the cookies were noticeably different. The chilled batter did not spread out, and as the NYT recipe suggested, there were distinct layers of crispy, chewy, and soft cookie. The cookies was also more golden brown. The 36 hours cookies were similar, but developed a much darker uniform golden color. In comparision, the 0 hour cookies were pale tan orbs.

Overally, in flavor, the 24 hour cookies and 36 hour cookies were not sufficiently different to warrant an additional 12 hours of waiting. Frankly, the 0 hour cookies were delicious, and perfectly acceptable. The sea salt sprinkling was fantastic, and I'll be incorporating that into other baked goods. This is definitely my new go-to cookie recipe!
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As also reported by [livejournal.com profile] morganlf, we had a fantastic weekend. For the most part, we've been hermits since moving up here, and it's been depressing! This weekend we shook things up a bit and have been out more than we've been home. It's been great to hang out with people and get out and about Seattle a bit.

Saturday:
We got together with with [livejournal.com profile] optic and his girlfriend downtown to grab lunch and see The Dark Knight at the Cinerama. We had lunch at Serious Pie, which is a gourmet pizza place. So far, I've been pretty impressed with the quality of pizza in Seattle! I really like Talarico's in West Seattle, as well as the ubiquitous Pagliacci's. Serious Pie was no exception--the selection of toppings was great--in addition to the yukon gold pizza that [livejournal.com profile] morganlf mentioned, I also really enjoyed the cherry bomb pepper pizza with sweet fennel sausage. We had a good time chatting about food, movies, etc.

discussion of the Dark Knight, cut for possible spoilers )

Later Saturday, A and I frantically cleaned and re-arranged our living room to accomodate our upstair neighbor (and landlord) who was coming over to watch UFC. We're not big sports fans, but it was fun to have a few drinks and chat over the fight....

Sunday:

Today we got together with P, an acquaintance of A's from her Riverside days, and we grabbed a quick coffee and bagel at Zeitgeist Coffee near my office. We chatted for a while, before meandering up to Pacific Place Theatre to catch Hellboy 2. The contrast between HB2 and TDK was interesting. Hellboy was fun, but felt unfocused in places. However, a singing duet between Abe and Hellboy will go down as one of my personal movie favorites. I couldn't stop laughing. :)

After the movie, A and I grabbed more than decent Ethiopian food at the Pan African Market near Pike Place Market. We had a fabulous chicken curry and lentils. I think we'll definitely go back--portion sizes were excellent, and the prices were incredibly reasonable. We started walking back to the car, when we passed by SAM, the Seattle Art Museum. A has been wanting to see the impressionist exhibit, so we decided to swing by since it was still early.... I'm overwhelmed by the Monets, Manets, Cezannes, and Renoirs--not to mention paintings by El Greco, Pizarro, Rubens, and Rafael. If you're local and haven't seen it yet, it's a fantastic exhibit. It's been staged very well by the SAM curator, displaying the classic Italian, French, and Dutch paintings that inspired the impressionists juxtaposed with the later images.

In particular, I loved this Renoir. A posted it as well, so I'm cutting it, but I did want to post it here to remember it! This reminds me of winter in Minnesota!
Renoir Skaters )

Altogether, this has been one of our busier weekends that I can remember...
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Everyone should see Wall-E. It's fantastic--sweet, soulful, and extremely well done.

A and I just got back from seeing it at the Cinerama--I absolutely love the decor there. The Bertoia diamond lounge wire chairs in the stair wells keep catching my eye. Someday when I have more than three rooms, I'd love a pair of these in a library....
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Dr. Horrible looks like it might be extremely cool. Am I the only one who misses Doogie Howser? Probably. :)
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My latest gastronomic experience: geoduck sushi. Very chewy, but surprisingly good.
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Book update:

May:

Stephanie Meyer, Twilight
Stephanie Meyer, Eclipse
Stephanie Meyer, New Moon
Tim Powers, The Anubis Gates
John Dunning, The Bookman's Wake
Ken Follett, Pillars of the Earth

Brief descriptions to follow.
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Hey local folks--

I'm looking at seeing one or more films at the SIFF this weekend. Anyone interested in going to any of these? I'm probably up for just about any film, really, but these caught my eye.


timecrimes (Spanish SF/thriller)
http://www.siff.net/festival/film/detail.aspx?id=27232&FID=64

the island of lost souls (19th century wizard/body thief? -- Danish film)
http://www.siff.net/festival/film/detail.aspx?id=27158&FID=64

otto; or, up with dead people (Mmm... zombie black comedy--German film)
http://www.siff.net/festival/film/detail.aspx?id=27323&FID=64
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Hmm. Dell has a pretty amazing deal right now if anyone is in the market for a PS3.

$280 snags a 40G PS3, with Resistance: Fall of Man and NBA'08.

http://accessories.us.dell.com/sna/products/Games/productdetail.aspx?c=us&l=en&s=bsd&cs=04&sku=A1665945&dgc=BF&cid=7421&lid=197378

That's around $180 under market cost for the console and the games!
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Thank god for craigslist!

A and I have been hitting estate sales, garage sales, and furniture dealer clearance sales, in an attempt to find a dresser for me and a credenza for the TV. These would be my 3rd and 4th piece of furniture, considering that right now I have one Ikea chair and a bed.

We hit the motherlode today near Capitol Hill(?) when we found a mid-century modern dealer who was clearing out excess stock. We bought a pair of MCM/Hollywood regency dressers and a cute vintage 50s dinette set. Yes, those of you who have seen our dining room realize that we now have two cute, vintage 50s dinette sets. :) Well, the new one is cuter, so off to losangeles.craigslist.org our old one goes.

I'll update this with pictures later, once [livejournal.com profile] morganlf gets them off her camera.
UPDATE: Pictures are up over at [livejournal.com profile] morganlf's journal.

So much fun. Learning Seattle neighborhoods via furniture stores has been interesting...
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[livejournal.com profile] morganlf has come and gone, and it was so wonderful to get a chance to see her and hang out with people!! The last three weeks have been busy with work, but there hasn't been much to do outside of the office, so it was wonderful to have my best friend back, even if she's now off to Victoria for the week.

Some of the weekend highlights:

* Checking out cafes, antique shops, and used bookstores near the Junction in West Seattle -- The sheer number of used bookstores continues to amaze me. Being the bookaholic I am, I love it!

* Gardening! We have a small garden plot that I started the weekend I arrived here with a variety of lettuce and greens. Now we've expanded it to include four tomato varieties, three varieties of pepper, long neck squash, zucchini, kale, chard, basil, thyme, oregano, my transplanted mexican tarragon, sage, italian parsley, and cilantro! Whew. My lemon verbena plant that I moved from LA is coming back, and the baby bay trees are also doing fine. The syrah grapes? Not so much. I think the trip all but killed two of the three, and the third has only one green leaf left. Yikes. Still, not bad overall! And the new garden will be producing before too long, although just greens at first. I hope we have tomatoes by August....

* A late night mint-chocolate malt at the Luna Park Cafe -- OMG. So good. I think I would have liked a bit more malt powder, but wow. The cafe is really cute and kitschy as a kind of a 50s pastiche.

* Dim sum in the International District with [livejournal.com profile] jmpava and [livejournal.com profile] coraa -- Only my second time experiencing dim sum. Overall, it was really good. I love the rice noodle dumplings!

* Exploring Uwajimaya after dim sum -- I definitely have to go back here. The food selection is amazing; for example, they have three different types of kecap manis, my favorite type of soy sauce. Plus, I saw my first geoduck!

* A 5 mile walk around Lincoln Park with my babe! This wasn't supposed to be quite so far, but it was still fun.
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Okay, I'm old, but this brought crazy memories of watching PBS as a kid. Though, back then we just called in "channel 2." :) SFW, but slightly insane.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=AUHETDR4N7A
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I've shared this link with a few of you directly, but [livejournal.com profile] morganlf encouraged me to post it as well.

This talk from Richard Hamming is about "You and Your Research." It's a fantastic read, full of insight, regardless of whether you think of yourself as a researcher or not. While grounded in computer science and mathematics, Hamming's insights are broadly applicable to other fields.

If you have a moment, check it out.
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Some of you may know that I have an penchant for old books. Last week I participated in my first rare book auction!

My lovely wife, [livejournal.com profile] morganlf, informed me of a rare SF auction being held in New York. I participated online in the real-time auction, and won two lots, including one lot containing 14 Lovecraft volumes:

Includes: Marginalia. Cloth, dj. [1944] * The Lurker at the Threshold. Cloth, dj. Signed by Co-author August Derleth. [1945] * Something About Cats. Cloth, dj. [1949] * The Shuttered Room and Other Pieces. Cloth, dj. [1959] * Dreams and Fancies. Cloth, dj. [1962] * At the Mountains of Madness and Other Novels. Cloth, no jacket. Second printing. [1964] * 3 Tales of Terror. Cloth, dj. [1967] * Selected Letters. Cloth, dj. [1968] * Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos. Cloth, dj. [1969] * The Watchers Out of Time and Others. Cloth, dj. [1974]. Also includes: Joshi, S.T. H.P. Lovecraft and Lovecraft Criticism. Red cloth, no jacket. [1981] * Long, Frank Belknap. Howard Phillips Lovecraft: Dreamer on the Night Side. Cloth, dj. [1975] * [Another copy] * Lupoff, Richard A. Lovecraft's Book. Cloth, dj. Long inscription by the compiler on title page. [1985]. Together 14 volumes. First printings, except one.

The other lot was a 1901 H.G. Wells "The First Men in the Moon."

Now I have to wait very impatiently for UPS....
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Whew. [livejournal.com profile] morganlf and I just got back from three days of house/apartment hunting and being tourists in Seattle. The more time I spend there, the more excited I get about moving.

We decided that West Seattle seems most appropriate in terms of price and location, plus we absolutely loved the downtown area along California. We've applied for a smallish (1000 sq ft/2BR) mother-in-law unit that looks like it will be more than big enough for now. We'd ideally like to buy a house in 6-8 months, assuming the market continues to act like it has been.

The big pluses of Seattle for me seem to be: a tangible environmental/green focus, a strong presence of a foodie culture, lots of available outdoor activities, and lots of used book stores. Taken together, these are huge. The downside is going to be two-fold--I will definitely miss the sun, and in terms of friends, we're leaving behind a large and established social base. That's pretty scary, but I am definitely looking forward to reconnecting with folks I've not seen in a long time.

My major annoyance of the weekend: having to watch the BSG premiere streamed over "borrowed" WiFi in our hotel room for scifi.com. The stream kept sputtering.... however, it was still worth it. :) The song that [livejournal.com profile] morganlf wrote/translated the lyrics for seems to be Baltar's new theme music. How cool is that?????
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As seen on bakersfield.craigslist.org:


SHELF FOR BEHIND THE TOILET - $10 - (BAKERSFIELD)

Organ (works and looks good) - $50 - (NW)

Huge Cage for small animal - $26 - (Bakersfield,Ca.)

Vintage - $15 - (bakersfield)

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From the day-after-St.Pats department:

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Hey! One of the applications that we've built using my dissertation research got a brief mention over at New Scientist.
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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!!
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This is just to record an ad hoc recipe that turned out well tonight.

stir fry sauce )

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