Would you ski with Jack?

The Shining? Chinatown?

Look at that smile though.

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(apparently the other guy is Roman Polanski  http://groovyhistory.com/the-most-powerful-and-entertaining-historical-images-ever-taken/38 )

The zipper – patented in 1917

Everyone uses zippers. Every single day. And yet we rarely if ever think about how incredibly amazing these gadgets are. I came across an article in the BBC lately – and was amazed to learn the zipper was only patented in 1917 and not really used commercially until 1923. The name itself was coined by B.F. Goodrich.

As you read the Wikipedia article some things stand out:

  1. Making zippers is fairly complex – only a few companies in the world are capable of this.
  2. The first airtight zippers were made by NASA for spacesuits – imagine going into space with something just zipped up?
  3. YKK, a Japanese company and pretty much the only zipper manufacturer I could name holds 45% of the worldwide market on zippers.

Such a small, innocuous little device, but such an amazing history.

Chicken with shallots

Another from originally from the New York Times. This starts with bone-in chicken thighs (and let’s face it, if you are cooking chicken then bone-in is the only way to get something lovely) and uses a traditional white wine, shallot, and tarragon.

I’ve modified the original (in italics) where I thought it made more sense.

Chicken shallots, mid-cooking

Ingredients

  • 8 bone-in chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 12 to 15 whole medium shallots, peeled
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 sprigs tarragon
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half.

Directions

  1. Rinse chicken thighs in water, and pat them very dry with paper towels. Sprinkle over them the flour, salt and pepper. (they don’t need to be bone dry, don’t obsess about this part)
  2. Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or skillet set over medium-high heat. When the butter foams, cook the chicken, in batches if necessary, until well browned and crisp on all sides. Set aside.
  3. Add the whole shallots (some shallots are too big, I chopped those in half) to the pot and sauté them in the butter and chicken fat until they begin to soften and caramelize, approximately 10 to 12 minutes. Add the wine to deglaze the pot, stir with a large spoon, then add the mustard and tarragon, then the chicken thighs. Cover the pot, turn the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.  Put the chicken into the oven, uncovered, until the meat is done.
  4. Remove the lid, and allow the sauce to reduce and thicken, 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Add the cherry tomatoes to the pot, stir lightly to combine and serve immediately.

Baked romanesco (or broccoli) with mozzarella

This recipe originally came from the New York Times. They use romanesco but you can use broccoli or cauliflower or mix them all.I simplify this quite a bit for a weeknight easy recipe.

INGREDIENTS

  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 or 3 medium heads romanesco broccoli (about 3 pounds)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for baking dish
  • 1 pound fresh mozzarella, sliced
  • 1 cup grated pecorino or Parmesan (about 2 ounces)
  • 1 dozen soft black oil-cured olives, or another type of black olive, pitted
  • 1 teaspoon roughly chopped capers
  • 4 roughly chopped anchovy fillets (I’ve never used anchovies, you don’t need them)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
  • Pinch of dried oregano

PREPARATION

  1. Put a large pot of well-salted water over high heat and bring to a boil. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut broccoli into quarters and trim away the core and any tough bits. Chop quarters into rough 2-inch cubes. Transfer to boiling water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and rinse with cool water.
  3. Lightly oil an earthenware baking dish. Arrange blanched broccoli in one layer. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
  4. Tear mozzarella slices and scatter over the top, then sprinkle with pecorino. Arrange olives here and there. In a small bowl, stir together capers, anchovy, garlic, red pepper and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Drizzle mixture evenly over the top.
  5. Bake for about 30 minutes, until cheese has browned a bit and broccoli is tender when pierced with a fork. Let rest 10 to 15 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with a good pinch of dried oregano. Give it a bit of salt… this dish can really pop with a little salt.

Woodpecker 

A little hard to see but there is a woodpecker on that exhaust pipe. Around here in springtime they hammer on metal stuff like that, I assume to amplify their noise in order to find a mate (sorta like teenagers and car stereos).

March habit – bikini season approaches

I joke of course – the idea of me in a bikini would violate most of the Geneva Convention. But I do want to “lean out¹” a bit.

My habit this month is simple: no alcohol at home unless we are hosting a dinner of some sort.

I reviewed my caloric intake and honestly it’s not that bad. I eat a lot but I exercise a lot. I have quite a bit of lean muscle mass which burns calories nicely (thank you Mom for these genetics and Crossfit for the muscle mass).

The plan:

  1. Do not buy alcohol for the house unless I know we’re having an event. This is the same tactic that removed sugar, carbs, etc. from the house. If you don’t have it, you won’t eat it.
  2. Habit app – I *love* the reminders to be good and trying to build streaks.

I have my starting weight marked, let’s see how we do.

 

 


¹ Apologies to Sheryl Sandberg and all, but I’ve been leaning in a bit too heavily for a while according to my scale.

February review – definitely a mixed bag

My goal in February was “no complaining“. There are some rules around this e.g. you can complain but only when presenting a good solution.

How did I do? Well… 47% feels about right. It was a tough month for a lot of reasons:

  • The current political climate
  • A few injuries limiting me at the gym
  • And so on…

But it was better than nothing and overall I liked the frequent reminder not to just bitch and whine.

I cannot recommend the Loop Habbit tracker enough by the way. Far and away the best tool for this kind of thing.