Monday, December 31, 2007

Goose Feast: Part Two

Thank you all for your patience; I know you've been ever so anxious to hear what transpired at our Christmas Eve goose roast. Well, your wait is over! Here we go:

The goose spent a little over 2 days thawing. By the time we were all set to start preparations last Monday afternoon, it was completely unfrozen and ready to go. We unwrapped the bird, removed the gizzards and such, rinsed it thoroughly inside and out, and patted it dry. We then set about removing all the loose fat, of which there was an enormous quantity. Seriously, I was scooping it out by the handful. The goose is a fatty, fatty bird. All told, I must have pulled out a good two or three pounds of the stuff (enough to fill a standard dinner bowl). When that was done, we patted the bird dry again. Next we perforated the skin by poking it with bamboo skewers. This helps even more of the subcutaneous fat drain during the roasting process. It's important not to puncture straight into the muscle tissue, so these were carefully placed perforations, as close to parallel as possible to the skin. The goose was patted dry again. (It's also important that the skin be as dry as possible for roasting, as this will help it to tighten and push out the fat while keeping the meat nice and moist.) A thorough rub-down with salt and pepper followed, along with another patting-dry, and then we rubbed the goose with fresh thyme.

All the while, Tom was working on the stuffing, which consisted of apples, pearl onions, garlic, sausage and sage. This was sauteed briefly and stuffed into the goose.

Mmm, stuffing.

Once stuffed, the goose was sewn closed, sprinkled with a bit more thyme, and ready to go in the oven.

A fine bird!

The goose took about 4 1/2 hours to roast, all told. The boys turned it a couple of times, and cranked the heat up near the end to get a nice crackly skin. For a side dish, Tom made some roasted potatoes with rosemary.

Soon enough, our goose was cooked!

Looks tasty, huh?

During the cooking process, the goose lost an additional quart or so of fat. Seriously, geese are nothing like turkeys. (For one thing, they are made entirely of delicious dark meat, which is fantastic.) I can easily imagine how a Christmas goose would have served several purposes in the days of yore - meat for several days, a nice big pot of stock, and enough fat or oil to keep lamps lit or winter clothes waterproofed or whatever you like.

So all told, our meal consisted of a salad, the apple-onion-garlic-sausage stuffing, rosemary potatoes, and delicious goose. Max made a savory sort of cherry sauce to go on the meat (cherries, balsamic vinegar, butter, some red wine), and Tom made a bread pudding with raisins & cranberries for dessert. Clearly, it was all terribly unpalatable, and we couldn't eat a bite.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Goose Feast: Part One

A few weeks back, it was decided that we would roast a goose over at Max's on Christmas Eve this year. I may be the only one of the group who's never eaten goose, but none of us has cooked one, and it is a rather canonical Christmas meal, so we thought it would be a fun thing to do.

Step one - obtain goose

After work on Thursday, I went goose scouting at the super swanky grocery store here in town, figuring they'd probably be the only place to carry geese. At first it looked like they didn't have any in stock, as I perused the regular poultry section, so I asked the butcher if they would be getting any in; he said they had some over in the freezer section. (Silly me. Didn't even think to look there. Duh.) So he took me over there and pulled one off the bottom shelf for me, at which point I informed him that I had to measure it and make sure it would fit in Max's oven. So there's the butcher, holding this iceburg of a frozen goose, while I fetched my little Ikea paper measuring tape (the ones they give you for free at the door so you can make sure your furniture will fit or whatever) and took down the necessary dimensions. Then I had to go call Max and relay the measurements to see if they would suffice. (I let the butcher put the goose back in the freezer...he wasn't holding it all this time while I trotted off to an area of the store where I could get cell phone reception. Just so you don't think I'm that oblivious and mean.)

Turns out the goose was indeed an appropriate size - 15" long x 8.5" wide x 5.5" tall, and 13+ pounds! - so I purchased it and took it over to Max's. Not an inexpensive bird by any means, but I suppose I didn't expect it to be. Max has been thawing it since yesterday morning, so it'll be all ready for us to roast up tomorrow night, along with some potatoes and asparagus. We're planning to make a bread pudding for dessert. Ought to be a fun time! I will have to work hard to restrain myself from quoting A Christmas Carol all evening. ("Such a goose, Martha! And the pudding...oh, the pudding!") I'm sure I shall be too stuffed to blog about it tomorrow, but I will endeavor to get a post up, complete with photos, not long after. :)

A Brunch for the Ages

Well, with a grand total of one vote (Mom's), last Sunday's brunch is the official winner and subject of today's post.

We dressed in slacks and nice-ish shirts and arrived at the Ath just before our scheduled 10:30 reservation. More on the history of Caltech's Athenaeum can be found here, but in brief, it's the big building on campus, opened in 1930, that serves as fancy restaurant and hotel for wealthy alumni and other well-to-do folks. The basement houses the appropriately named Rathskeller student bar. This time of year, it's decked to the gills with Christmas trees and garlands and a huge gingerbread house in the lobby. (A tiny Hanukkah display sat on a table in the corner, we noted with amusement.) Our friends were already seated when we arrived, so we set down our stuff and headed over to the buffet.

Tom and I don't "do brunch" very often. Let alone super posh brunch. The feast before us was unlike anything I'd ever that hour of the morning, anyway. There was the traditional breakfast fare, of course - waffles with berries and syrup and fresh whipped cream, french toast, muffins/bagels/crescent rolls/pastries, egg stations (they'd make omelets or scrambled eggs or fried eggs or whatever you wanted), potatoes with peppers and onions, and the piece de resistance, a gorgeous slab of bacon from which a gentleman was cutting delicious little slices. Next to the bacon was a prime rib. On another table was a seafood spread - shrimp, crab legs, oysters, possibly scallops? There was a tray of cured meats and pates. There was fresh fruit, there were roasted pears, there was hummus and baba ganoush with pita bread. There was chicken and salmon and green beans and ginger maple mashed sweet potatoes. And then the desserts! Cheesecakes and regular cakes and tortes and little custard puff things. Three kinds of juice, and hot chocolate. We hardly knew where to go first.

Plates piled high, we returned to the table. The dining room was just as decorated as the rest of the building. A big tree stood in the corner. An assortment of nutcrackers lined a mantle along one wall. On each table sat a little fir tree centerpiece. On the centerpiece - a tag that read "Not intended for consumption." We all had a good laugh over whether that meant we shouldn't eat it or shouldn't give it tuberculosis. The top of the tree waved back and forth whenever anyone bumped the table.

While we ate, a fellow in a Santa suit walked around, handing out candy canes to people. When he walked by our table he whispered, "Merry Christmas, guys," and kept going. We thought this was a little creepy, the whispering. It wasn't as though we were in a library, nor was it as though he hadn't just been carrying on with the two little kids at the next table, pretending to pull candy canes out of their ears. Crazy creepy Santa. Tom brilliantly invoked The Sixth Sense with a whispered, "I see red people!" and set us all to laughing again.

The food was delicious, of course. I thought the bacon tasted like candles (not in a gross way...just kind of smoky and, I don't know, like fire somehow), but then again, I am strange. We stuffed ourselves to the gills, wished Demetri a happy birthday, and rolled on home. I didn't last more than a couple of hours before succumbing to a nap. ;)

And there you have it. Tomorrow: Goose Feast, Part One.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Week 23

Well, this week our young Master Johnson is about 8 1/2 inches long from crown to rump - "about the size of a banana." I've never known a banana to be as flexible as this kid seems to be, though. I'm starting to feel him moving around in there more and more. Some days it feels like he must be swimming laps, doing little flip turns on one side and then the other. Other times I'm sure he's playing air guitar, complete with rock star scissor kicks. I'm sure I'll find it a lot less amusing once he's big enough to direct those scissor kicks at my ribs and bladder, but for right now it's pretty funny.

We had our 5 month checkup at the doctor's yesterday morning. I was hoping we'd get to see the diagnostic ultrasound pictures (his little tiny kidneys and whatnot), but I guess the computer system is just set up to display the written report from the radiologist. Everything is in order though on that score (heart - present, head - present, growth progressing like it oughta, etc.), so that's good. And of course we got to listen to his heartbeat again, nice and strong.

Since yesterday was the end of the 23rd week, and I've started the 24th today, I'm informed by Great Expectations that I have now officially entered the third trimester. Which doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me, to be honest. I was under the impression that the trimesters would be somewhat evenly spaced (13ish weeks apiece), but apparently the second one is only 10 weeks long while the third is 16? Really? Anyway, whatever. Third trimester or not, I'm just glad we're heading into "winter" and "spring" (I use the terms lightly, living where I do) for these next few months, during which I can expect to grow increasingly round and uncomfortable; January/February/March is much preferable to, say, June/July/August. ;)

All right, that's it for this week. Tune in again next week (same Bat time, same Bat channel).

Monday, December 17, 2007

Oh, to be a real blogger again

This place sure does seem to have turned into the Weekly Baby Growth Update blog with sporadic little snippets thrown in here and there of non-babycentric stuff. Less of the wit and charm and randomness I'd like to think I'm capable of posting. Work's been keeping me busy, and the thesis is still a burden. I spent much of the weekend slogging away at the latter, trying to get one more damnable chapter finished and making barely enough headway to be passable. Blah. Here's a short list of some of the things I've considered writing about lately though, so maybe we could have a readers' choice sort of thing where you pick one and I actually generate some new and interesting content? Or not. Whatever. Here's the list, anyway:
  • Workplace lingo: Yeah, I know it's been done by many others before me, but lately I've been amused by the things people *cough*managers*cough* bother saying when they could just as easily use simpler terms.

    Argument for posting: I think it's funny.
    Argument against: The buzzwords vary from place to place, but it's really the same old story anyone who has ever had a job will have told at one point or another.
  • Brunch Report: We went out to a fancy-shmancy prime rib brunch at Caltech's Athenaeum on Sunday for Demetri's birthday. We got to get semi-dressed up and stuff our faces with tasty foods.

    Argument for: Creepy Santa, the tuberculosis tree, candle-flavored bacon.
    Argument against: We didn't make any of the food, just ate it, and I've basically given away all the highlights in this little synopsis.
  • Movie Reviews: We're back to burning through our Netflix queue at a pretty good clip, so we've seen a few amusing movies I could write about.

    Argument for: Idiocracy & Live Free or Die Hard were entertaining, while In Good Company was disappointing, so I've probably got plenty to say.
    Argument against: Eh, none of these are really all that new, so I'm not sure how interested anybody will actually be in what I've got to say.
  • Inventory: I've been thinking of writing something similar to this recent post of Water Megan's AquaMegan's from last week.

    Argument for: Just in thinking rather preliminarily about it, I think my list is going to turn out quite a bit different from hers, and this is interesting to me.
    Argument against: I'm not sure if it will be at all interesting to anybody else. ;)

So there's a little of what's been rattling around in my brain lately besides "gah, heartburn again" and "seriously, cat, if you don't get off the counter right now, I will huck this book at your head" and "the correlation matrices clearly show that the particle size distribution of the sample set is blah blah blah..." That I have room for anything else at all these days is as much of a shock to me as anyone. ;) But there you have it. Anything strike your fancy that you'd like to hear more about?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Week 22

This week the little feller is "about 7 1/2 inches from crown to rump and weighs between 13 and 16 ounces - about the size of a small grapefruit." Other developmental details: "His fingernails are almost fully grown, and his organ systems are becoming more functional and specialized. He has a distinct pair of lips, and his first canines and molars are developing from hard tissue below the gum line. He looks like a miniature newborn." I am also informed that blood is traveling through the umbilical cord at 4 mph. Interesting!

As far as what's going on with me, I definitely have an identifiably pregnant belly now. I'm not huge, but there's no denying I've got something growing in there. Most nights I wake up sometime in the wee morning hours for a bathroom run hobble; if I'm unlucky, I have a rough time going back to sleep thereafter, which is no fun. Fortunately, I'm only unlucky in this manner a few times a week at most. The second trimester has been generally good to me - no more nausea, less exhaustion, as promised. I still only feel the little guy kicking sometimes, and only from the inside (that is, if I put my hand on my belly when I feel him moving around, his movement doesn't translate through all the padding of fluid and tissue such that I can feel it from the outside yet). And no, I haven't had any weird cravings. Sorry to disappoint, but the pickles and ice cream are still items to be enjoyed separately, as far as I'm concerned. Cheese and chocolate, on the other hand...well, I've always believed those two things were meant for each other, pregnancy or no pregnancy. ;)

Back to the thesis mines! More again soon! Whee!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Optimism of Pregnancy

This is what crossed my mind as I made my 700th trip to the restroom today.

The way I see it, when you're pregnant, the bladder's always half-full.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Week 21

Big doin's this week. He weighs about 10.5 ounces, and crown to rump length is about 7 inches, which Great Expectations says is as long as a spoon. The book also helpfully informs us that 10.5 ounces is about what bear cubs weigh when they are born.


It's been chilly in the mornings lately (no, really, objectively chilly, like below 55 degrees in our bedroom), so Leo is even more likely than usual to desire a little morning snuggle time under the blankets. This morning he curled up right at my belly and set to purring, at which point the bambino started dancing around. It was pretty amusing. They say that kids who were exposed to dog barking in the womb aren't afraid of the noise once they're born. I raher doubt, however, that exposure in utero is necessary to develop a positive association with cat purring. Not exactly the most threatening of sounds, that. ;)