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  • The secret of my success

    Ok, I’m lying a little bit in the title but seriously everyday I follow this simple rule to try and keep a little more stress out of my life. It also helps me keep a little perspective on what I should actually be spending my energy and time focusing on.

  • Why the GOP is failing to run the government like a buisness

    On the extended cut of The Daily Show last night was the interview with Senator Dick Durban (D Illinois) where him and Jon Stewart discussed the debacle that was the debt ceiling debates.

    In that interview Senator Dick Durban (D Illinois) explained that he and some of his fellow senators from both parties had spent 16-18 months working on a composed solution to how we would not only cut spending but increase revenue. He explained by limiting the solution to only one or the other would significantly hurt one or the other.

    Spending 16-18 months on a solution, and then disregarding because it didn’t fit into an ideology?? That is a large waste of money. I would understand if they spent 16-18 months on something and it turned out to be crap, but then the people who worked on the project would be fired as to not use up company resources frivolously.

    I guess I just don’t understand how all the GOP can yell about running the government like a business and then waste the people’s time and money by throwing out 16-18 months of work.

  • What one thing did you really want when you were a kid?

    Teddy Ruxpin, I remember begging my parents to get this for me when I was just a little kid. I remember wanting it sooo bad, that it was the coolest thing ever. Needless to say i nver got one, and I forgot about having one a little while later. This is probably one of the more important time in my life, because this was the first THING that I can remember really wanting as a kid. There was something about it. It actually told you stories, albeit in a creepy animatronic way, but stories nonetheless. I never got it, and this was a good thing.

    Throughout my life there was always that new thing that I really wanted, and I would beg my parents to get it for me, sometimes constantly for weeks. To their credit they didn’t cave in to my relentless annoyance, most of the time. I think they knew something about me before I was able to realize it. I like to be on the wave of the fad, whats cool and new and wonderful. Those few times where I actually got that THING I was ecstatic. I realized though that after a little while this THING was just ok. No one thing really changed my life as much as I had thought it would, and I’m pretty sure my parents knew that.

    I am glad I learned this lesson early in my life, because now as I live my life simply and with as little stuff as I can.

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  • Why Thanksgiving is the best and most American holiday

    Above all Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It doesn’t have the pressure and running around to gather the perfect gifts, lacks the need to run around all night in a silly/complicated costume, isn’t as dangerous as fireworks and alcohol (though sometimes that is fun), doesn’t have the let down of ending at midnight, and it doesn’t have a silly bunny running around hiding eggs (which never made any sense to me). What it does have is your family and/or friends gathering just to celebrate a meal and hang out together.

    With that said, I know what some people might be thinking, ‘What about the pressure and chaos of the family coming’. My answer is embrace it, and let it fold into the event. I got both experiences growing up. My family at Thanksgiving consisted of my dad, mom, sister, and me. We have always had a pretty quiet Thanksgiving which is much different from a lot of my friends. We would make a turkey and maybe three or four side dishes and that would be it.

    I also like the BIG Thanksgiving. The one where massive amounts of people descend on a chosen family member’s house and bring their appointed dish making for a very large spread. The appeal of this probably came from me not really having a large extended family close to where we lived, but still it was an event. My favorite place to be a part of this was my best friends house, catholic. They had a sort of organized chaos.

    Here is my list of why Thanksgiving is the best and most American holiday…

  • Food, and lost of it
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Wine/beer
  • Football
  • Tryptophan (it gives us an excuse for napping)
  • PIE (apple or otherwise)
  • Canned Jellied Cranberry (it just slices so neatly)
  • What Makes You Laugh??

    What Makes You Laugh

    This is the current topic of #letsblogoff. This being my first blog off I’ll try and make it a good one.

    These are some of the things that make me laugh….

      Katz doing stupid stuff
      People falling on ice
      Dude’s getting hit in the Jewelz
      Drunk people
      People who take themselves too seriously
      Odd pairings of things
      Giant leaps of logic
      Much more that I just can’t think of right now

    These are all items from my life that I have experienced at one point in time or another. I try and find humor in these items when they occur in an absurdity. When things are on the brink of tragedy/absurdity, when events line up so improbably that you have to laugh at it otherwise there would be no other meaning for it to happen.

    Life affords us these moments if we are willing to see them and laugh at them. Laughing for me is a group activity, it is what can bring random people together and lighten the mood. We laugh at things because we have experienced it and through that it becomes a common experience that is relatable with others.

    I tend also to laugh at myself a lot. Admittedly, I am not the most elegant person. I am neurotic about things somethings most of the time and when my friends make fun of me for that it reminds me not to take myself too seriously.

    What makes me laugh is life. Life needs to be light hearted otherwise we get too focused on goals and tasks and forget that there is a journey. Laughing at life reminds me to pay attention to the details and the roses around me. Sorry if I got off topic a little bit, hope you enjoyed reading.

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  • Recipes from the weekend of 22/02/2010 – Stuffed pepper and Strawberry Pots de Creme

    Thanks to anyone who came and ate one of the specials I worked on last week, it was a busy weekend all around so my apologies that there aren’t any photographs to accompany the recipes. If you would like to send pictures of your plating of the dishes I would appreciate it very much. To send pictures just TwitPic them to me @chirn9980. Enough with the jibberjab here is the stuffed pepper recipe.

    Stuffed Pepper

    For this recipe I am just going to give instructions for a single stuffed pepper, to make it easy to scale up. (or down but I am not sure how you could make a 1/4 stuffed pepper)
    Veggies and Stuff

  • 1 green pepper
  • 1/4 zucchini (med diced)
  • 1/4 eggplant (med diced)
  • 2 button mushrooms (or your choice of mushroom – I wish I had had morels, but thems the breaks)
  • 1 roma tomato (med diced)
  • 1 thinly sliced shallot (not necessary)
  • 1/4 yellow onion (diced)
  • 1 garlic clove (minced)
  • 1 cup rice (I used Basmati, but general long grain rice will do)
  • 1/2 tsp tomato paste
  • Seasonings (My note on my thoughts on seasoning)

  • thyme
  • cayenne
  • salt
  • pepper
  • oregano
  • Other

  • parmesean cheese
  • butter
  • olive oil
  • Directions

    The rice will take the longest to cook, so I start that first. Rinse the rice by placing it in a pot and running cold water over it until the water runs clear. Drain the rice. Place the rice back in the pot and fill with water, until the water is about a 1/4 to 5/16 of an inch about the rice. Place pot on the range on low heat and add about 3 Tbsp of butter and some salt and let cook until the rice is about 3/4’s soft (it should barely be crunchy). The rice should take about 20 to 25 min.

    After the rice is going, start chopping up all of the veggies. Get a medium to large sautee pan on the stove on about med-high heat and coat the bottom of the pan with the olive oil.

    Once the oil is heated add the onions and shallots and turn down to med heat. Let them brown a bit, not burn. When the onion starts to turn translucent add the garlic and cook for another minute.

    Add the mushroom and zucchini and tomato paste. Cook for 3 to 5 min or until zucchini starts to soften, then add the roma tomato and eggplant and cook until everything is soft (5 to 6 min).

    Once all the veggies are cooked mix them together with about a 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese in a bowl with the seasonings and cooked rice. Set aside.

    Take the green pepper and slice the top off, and scrape out the seeds. Fill the pepper with the stuffing and roast in the oven at 350º F for 35 to 40 min.

    Strawberry Pots de Creme

    This recipe makes about eight 8oz servings


  • 1 qt heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 8 cups strawberries (frozen of fresh, if frozen make sure they are completely thawed before working with them)
  • Start by placing the quart of heavy cream, 1/2c sugar, and vanilla in at least a 2 quart sauce pan ( just in case the cream boils up too much), and place it on med heat. Bring the heavy cream to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove cream from heat and set aside to cool down.

    Take the strawberries, and place them in the food processor until there are no chunks left. Strain the strawberries through a fine chinois, of through a fine mesh cheesecloth to remove any unwanted seeds. Set the liquid aside for now.

    Separate the egg yolks and place them in a mixing bowl. Beat the yolks just enough so that they come together, while still mixing slowly incorporate the other 1/2 cup of sugar. Continue mixing until the sugar and yolks turn a yellow custard color (Ummm, kinda the color of a lemon). After that fold in the strawberry liquid until incorporated.

    Here comes the tricky part, tempering the liquids. The goal is to slowly add the warm cream to raise the temperature of the eggs without cooking the eggs and “scrambling” the proteins. SLOWLY ladle the cream into the eggs while stirring the eggs. Continue to do this cream to eggs until you have added about a third of the cream. Add the egg/cream mixture back into the cream only mixture and fold until fully incorporated. Set aside and let the mixture cool to at least room temperature.

    To cook them, you will need some ceramic ramekins and a cooking tray that is about an inch higher than the ramekins. Soak a kitchen towel in cold water and place in the bottom of the tray. Place the ramekins on the towel in the tray. Fill the tray with water until the water reaches half way up the ramekins. ****SCIENCE NOTE We use the towel and the water because we want the custard to cook evenly at the edges and the center. The reason this works is that water has a pretty high heat capacity (Q=mc∆t anyone????), which means that the water will heat slowly and evenly allowing for and even rise in temperature. We also use the towel in to bottom because other wise the ceramics will be directly touching the metal pan which will allow for a very quick heat transfer. END SCIENCE NOTE*** If any water splashed into the ramekins make sure to wipe it out before pouring in the filling. Now fill each ramekin halfway with the custard mix, the custard should be at about the same level as the water in the tray. Place in the oven for about 30 to 35 min at 350ºF, or until the middle has just set (the middle barely moves when you giggle the pan).

    Take out of the oven and the water bath and place in the fridge to cool. It takes about and hour to completely set.

    So thats what I made last weekend. Funny enough the Strawberry Pots de Creme ended up tasting like strawberry Quick and reminded me of being a kid again. A very large thanks to everyone who ate a Kona last weekend to support Think Pink Weekend, we all appreciate it. There will be more to eat and experiment with this coming weekend.


  • My new things the week of 22/02/2010


    If people didn’t know I have taken a small hiatus from the art world in order to pursue my culinary passion. Though it isn’t directly connected to the fine arts realm, I believe that there is still a strong connection between the two fields. Currently I am trying to apply lessons learned from fine arts to my culinary endeavors. For me food elicits a visceral experience to the viewer/patron, allowing me to give a richer experience.

    Currently I am working in two restaurants in Oxford, Oh. The restaurant I usually start at in the morning is called Kona Bistro, which is a casual modern dining establishment. Currently at Kona Bistro I am the head prep cook responsible, to all of the great line cooks there, for making sure everything is stocked. In addition to doing daily prep I have recently had the opportunity to do the weekend dessert specials. This weekend is extra special because in Oxford it is Think Pink Weekend, and for this weekend the dessert special is a pink strawberry Pots de Creme in order to celebrate Oxford’s Thin Pink Weekend.

    My nights are spent working as the head sauté line cook at Steinkeller,a tradition Bavarian Bier Hall. Working at Steinkeller affords me the opportunity to use my artistic ability in plating dishes, as well as as well as playing with flavors in making weekend specials. This weekend I was especially proud of myself for coming up with a delectable and filling vegetarian special, we don’t have many of those at a German restaurant. The special is a Green Bell Pepper stuffed with sautéed shallots, onions, carrots, mushrooms, garlic, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, and herbs mixed with basmati rice and slow roasted. The pepper is served over a spicy roasted red pepper sauce and a bed of arugula.

    Well, those are the things I am up to this week, check back Monday (02/22/2010) for the recipes and photos.


  • Dear Gen-Yers….

    I am not really sure if I am a Gen-Y or Millennial generation. To be honest I don’t really care, but I am a twenty something, have a twitter, flickr, vimeo, mySpace, Facebook, etc account, my own blog, an iPhone 3gs, a MacBook Pro, and like indie music (only until it becomes popular and then I pretend not to like it because it is popular but really just listen to it as a guilty pleasure). By these measures I am sure I am one of the two generations.

    I came across a site and recently read an article in the New York Times (the paper edition, I know paper “what’s that?”) about many college students are forced to live the summer with their parents because of the lack of internships. I have been graced with the good fortune of always having at least one job working for my father, and I understand the economy has tanked in the last year or so. What I find vexing about the project is that Millenials are expecting the government to bail them out with legislation.

    I remember stories from my parents who both worked 60hrs a week while they were raising me and my Father was going to college. These stories are what I live my life by, working hard and doing things that just need to be done. I think most of us think today that all we need to to is go to high school, then go to college, then we will be able to land a good job, all the while in our educational journey doing as many internships and extra curricular activities as possible. I have always disagreed with this philosophy. Some of the best lessons I have had were not in an academic setting, I learned how to throw while delievering papers when I was 13, how to deal with the boss when working for my father, how to deal with stress line cooking on a $19,000 day at Buffalo Wild Wings, how to be humble shoveling pig shit for 6 months(not to mention a strong back). Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot to be learned from going to college but it is not a way to a job nor should it be. Just because you have a degree in something doesn’t mean that you are qualified for a position in that field. You may have a degree but if you have never spent the time to really understand your motivation, talents, craft then you didn’t get an education.

    I started college in 2003 as a Mathematics major. I had no idea what Mathematics majors did after school, nor did I care, I just new that I loved the pursuit of a greater understanding of our world through Mathematics and I would deal with what I did after I graduated. For some reason or another I lost the passion for Mathematics in the spring of 2006, but I found another Ceramics. Hindsight being 20/20 I understand why, Ceramics allowed me to use the abstractness of higher Mathematics in a more qualitative way. All the way through college I was always asked the question, “So, what are you going to do with a Math/Art degree?”. Initially when I was younger my answer was, “I don’t know” as I got older (I didn’t get out of undergraduate until I was 23) my answer became, “Anything I want”. This change comes from the way I started looking at my time in college. My time wasn’t just sit in a classroom and memorize things then regurgitate, rinse, repeat. My time was connecting with people around me, learning from them, learning how to manage my life, learning how to learn new things. It was being able to connect with theses people, having a thirst for learning/knowledge, and working my ass off that enabled me to have two or three jobs throughout college and beyond.

    I don’t currently have my dream job now that I am out of college. I am currently writing/maintaining software and doing customer support for and line cooking at Steinkeller ( a german restaurant in Oxford, OH) but they pay the bills for now. The point is we are on the bottom, and we need to do what we need to do to survive. We need to forget our hopes of $35,000 entry level positions, and work our ass off at anything we do. We should never base our energy and level of perfection on our wage. Us Gen-Yers and Millennials will have shit jobs, apartments and living situations for a while longer, but it will allow us shed the attitude of entitlement which will benefit everyone for a long time to come. My idea for a bail out for us is to buy 80 million copies of “The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything (Hardcover)” by Guy Kawasaki, the real life version not the kindle version(pay especial attention to the part on bootstrapping).

    P.S. I am in about $15,000 of credit card debt, $25,000 of student loans, my credit is tanked, and my parents never co-signed anything for me (of which I’m glad). I understand the situation you are in Gen-Y/Millennial

  • Vinyl Wine Down Wednesdays at The Blue Room

    blueroomThis idea has spawned from my friend’s, Alan, and my love for vinyl, hi-fi setups, and the sharing and discovering of new music. It pretty much goes like this… every Wednesday at The Blue Room (the place beneath Balcony,Click here for a map) we will be there with a couple of tables, our receiver and some speakers playing some of our music. If you show up with some vinyl though we will throw it in the rotation to share with everyone else, and you can pick it up the next day so you don’t have to worry about carrying it around with you for the entire night. If you want to escape the regularity of Oxford’s life come check out Vinyl Wine Down Wednesdays where the music is good (because its yours) and the glasses of wine and tapas (which are delicious) are $1 off.

  • The WristBand project

    WristBand OneFor Change Two

    This project began as a joke. One night during the fall semester of 2008 me and a friend decided to keep the wristbands from going to the bars on our wrist for the entire semester. Well about a week in he quit, which just gave me more motivation to continue doing it. I would catch a lot of flak from people about it. For some reason I knew that there was something more in it, that something could be derived from it.

    The semester came and went, I cut off the wristbands and didn’t think too much of it until I was approached by some friends of mine who were putting together a book of images and writing about change. It took me a while to figure out what I was going to do. I remembered that I had taken a picture of my wrist each day of the fall semester, and that by definition it changed depending on whether I went out, or where I was when I woke up.

    The piece was built with Processing. I start with the first image and then slowly change it by grabbing pixels from the next image, and replacing the first image’s pixels with the second’s. I take snapshots in time at a constant interval to document the change.

    We notice large changes in our lives, and when these large changes happen we tend to look for a root cause. Usually though there isn’t one single root cause of anything, it is all an accumulation of very small changes. In the piece I started with the beginning of my venture and the ending of my venture. There are two changes between them. The start has fewer wristbands and the wristbands are on my arm, opposed to the end where there are more wristbands and they are cut and lying on the table. If we were to look deeper we would realize that there are a large number of steps from A to B, and paying attention to those steps is critical to our understanding of ourselves and others. I think bottom line is that I want people to pay attention to the very small things that happen everyday, and understand that a lot of very small change is what inevitably forces the very big change.