Sleepless city, home.
People forget, wandering,
When is time for rest?
Our lives now are a far cry from the bike trip ones we were leading. We went to IKEA yesterday to get some things for our apartment, and we are now the proud owners of a 15" spice mill. Hm.
It's been easier than I expected, despite the enormous context switch. Evan is happy in his job at Facebook, and we moved into a studio apartment near the Civic Center. It's not the best neighborhood or the best apartment, but they run super short-term leases (3 months minimum, month-to-month after that), and we want to be in the City for extra convenience when looking at places to live for realsies. The company that runs this building has a lot of buildings around the city, actually, and the rent is cheap and the locations are reasonable if you want something short-term. They're called Trinity Management Services.
I started one job at the closing of the year, and I'm diggin' it. I'm doing some unknown-term part-time consulting work for Blue Oxen Associates, and the boss is a cool guy. The other software developer on the team is also pretty awesome... he actually did the No Pants Subway Ride last year in SF, and I'm hoping he'll turn out today for this year's! I'll be starting another part time job (hopefully later this month) at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Complex working with the people on Inspire; basically, doing stuff related to what I was doing at CERN. I'm also talking to some people at Nuance about maybe working there later. I'll hear back from grad schools around April to see if I'm headed that way, but if it turns out I'm not, it's no big deal. I don't mind these part-time things. :p
We've shifted our free-time focus drastically, too. Now that we don't have bikes to watch over all the time, we have started going out! Last night found us at the DNA Lounge, a local dance club which was started by one of the lead programmers for Netscape Navigator (that page is good for lulz). They have things like A KNIFE-THROWING SHOW such as we watched last night wherein a father threw knives at his drag queen son on stage while Bootie played in the background. This city is a terrific place to be.
But some things don't change. On the trip, we were enormous food snobs, and we are here, too. Now that we have more than a one-burner camping stove (admittedly, our new kitchen isn't much more), we are cooking up a storm. The things we've made since we arrived include slow-cooked shiitake mushrooms (breakfast this morning alongside some eggs with seaweed flakes), okonomiyaki (cabbage pancakes... we halved the recipe in our book and it was still way too much food), lightly-steamed spinach with sesame (a delicious companion to the okonomiyaki), cabbage and potato curry (we had cabbage left over and needed something to do with it...), and cossack pie (I've never thought to make a yogurt crust on a pot pie before). Recipes below!
Slow-cooked shiitake mushrooms (slight changes from the Greatest-Ever Sushi & Japanese Recipes, p.67):
20-ish Dried shiitake mushrooms
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp sesame oil (we forgot this, but it would probably add a lot of deliciousness)
Soak the mushrooms at least overnight (we only soaked ours for 10 hours or so, but longer would probably be better) in a dish of water. Cover the dish with a plate to make sure the mushrooms don't float, lest they not absorb water evenly. Save 200mL of the water you soaked them in, then dump the rest. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and throw them out. Heat vegetable oil in a skillet. When it's hot, add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes. Add the leftover water, the soy sauce, and the sugar, then stir well and allow to reduce (that takes a long time... >20 minutes). Then add the sesame oil, and enjoy! These mushrooms are called vegetarian steak (our cookbook says so), and they are pretty frickin' delicious.
Okonomiyaki (slight changes from the Greatest-Ever Sushi & Japanese Recipes, p.59):
2 c flour
1 c water
2 large eggs
pinch of salt
4 green onions
7 oz cabbage, finely chopped
Okonomiyaki sauce (Japanese grocery stores have this)
1/3 block firm tofu
ao nori (seaweed flakes)
kezuri bushi (fish flakes)
Mix the flour and water and eggs. If the batter isn't kind of runny (pourable), add some more water or egg as you see fit. Mix in the salt, onions, and cabbage. It's best to add the cabbage a little at a time so that it all gets coated with batter.
I really like these next instructions, from the cookbook, "Put a frying pan over a hight [sic] heat. When hot, oil the base. Remove from the heat when the oil smokes and wait until the smoke dies down. Reduce the heat to medium and return the pan to the heat."
Put a ladleful of mixture into the pan. Cut some tofu into little cubes and sprinkle it on top the pancake, or arrange it tastefully if you desire. When the edges of the pancake look browned, turn it over and cook the other side.
Remove the pancake and add the ao nori and kezuri bushi. Squirt some okonomiyaki sauce on top, too. Repeat this process until all the batter is gone. Yum!
Lightly-steamed spinach with sesame (slight changes from the Greatest-Ever Sushi & Japanese Recipes, p.53):
1/2 lb fresh spinach
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp water
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
Bring some lightly-salted water to a boil. Dip the spinach stems in and hold for 15 seconds, then drop it all in and boil for 20 seconds. Remove the spinach into a colander and run cold water over it. Squish it in your hands to remove the excess water. Squeeze it into a rough log shape and put it in a dish. Pour the soy sauce and water over it and let it sit.
Meanwhile, toast the sesame seeds in the bottom of a dry pot over medium heat until they start popping. Remove from heat.
Cut the spinach log in half and sprinkle it with the sesame seeds. That's it!
Evan is taking over the typing of the cossack pie and curry recipes. :)