Thursday, July 28, 2011

We're All Human

In addition to the "side" pursuits of conferencing and publishing, I'm working on my dissertation. One of the things I have to do to conduct my dissertation research is to get approval to work with human subjects. Interestingly, I fill out some of the same paperwork as someone who is doing drug testing or working with vulnerable populations. I checked "NO" to things like "Does your study require genetic testing?" or "Do you plan on using hazardous materials?" The research proposal is then gone over with a fine-toothed comb by those who make sure that academic research is safe and appropriate.

I am awaiting approval because I can then recruit participants for my study. I'm terrified that no one will agree to do join the study and I'll be stuck at square one. So strange to have to rely on others to make this work out and yet I'm glad because I find the human stories of [my field] so compelling. There are so many hurdles and steps but I'll feel much better when I've got participants locked in.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Flowering and Flourishing

We had a much-needed, quiet weekend so nothing to report there but the plants were busy growing. I love that, in Spanish, "to flower" and "to flourish" are the same verb. My sunflowers, pumpkins, and morning glories are all flowering and flourishing; I think this is why I like working at the kitchen table so I can just look out the patio doors and see them.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Food Truck Fun

Food trucks seem to be the trendy thing right now; I believe the Food Network has a show dedicated to them. We've checked out a crepe one (amazing) and a macaroon one (meh). I'd been hearing a lot about a Korean/Mexican fusion truck called Chi'lantro and finally decided to go when I was picking up lunch for a friend recovering from surgery.

Even on a hot Austin day, there were a good number of customers checking things out.

I had a tofu rice bowl with lime-butter rice dressed with vinaigrette and my friend and I shared some spicy fries. I definitely want to go back and try more of their items.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

More Indian Food

Part of the reason we enjoy our blog is to simply document things for ourselves. We have been enjoying new dishes at a nearby Indian restaurant but cant' remember what we've had or why we liked it (or not) so I'm posting it on (with less-than-ideal phone pics). Our latest visit was Tuesday night when we were in the area for a beer tasting. Austin was the official taster since I'm not much of a beer drinker. He enjoyed 20 different samples and I tagged along, imagining travel-by-wine region (the store has a separate Pays d'Oc wine section, the French major in me rejoices).

After the tasting, we split a yellow lentil daal that was good but not unlike what we're able to prepare at home. (2.5/5 stars)

We also tried Minced Veggie Kabobs which had a bright dipping sauce and resembled falafel, again ok but not stellar (2.5/5 stars)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Deathly Hallows Feast!

last night, we hit up our all-time favorite movie theater. The Alamo Drafthouse doesn't just serve good food and drink but they also offer some fantastic events.

The menu was whimsical and tasty.

THE ELDER WAND - Ale Battered, Smoked Salmon Wrapped Asparagus with Elderberry Garlic Jam; this was our favorite course.

FORBIDDEN FOREST PASTRY - Roast Local Hen and Wild Mushrooms fill a Potato Pastry served with Green Tomato Chutney; I had roasted potatoes instead of the poultry and this was excellent.

AMORTENTIA - Chilled Soup of English Cucumbers with Rashers and Herbs; our least favorite course. Some vinegar gave the soup a pickle-y taste.

CLOAK - Seared Strip, Stilton and Shallot cloaked in Pastry, Cumberland Sauce, Roast Cauliflower; I had mine with a red wine-marinated portabella. The pastry was yummy.

THE SORCERER'S SCONE - English Lavender Brambleberry Scone with Lime Marmalade and Clotted Cream; this course was excellent. We were given two scones, way too much, and would have preferred one with more marmalade and cream.

The courses were all paired with wine. Just excellent over all.

Prior to the movie starting, spoofs and parodies were played as we settled into our seats.

We received water glasses that we could take home.

Of course "real" butter beer was available if one wanted. It was made with hard cider and tasted like apple pie in a glass. That was just our sample; a pint size was available for purchase. It was too rich and sweet so we opted not to given the feast ahead of us. Still, I'd like to deconstruct this recipe and enjoy it on a chilly winter evening.

Ultimately, we had an outstanding time between the feast and the flick. I had forgotten lots of details from the books and wished I had brushed up before attending. The only snag was that the movie stopped near the end at a rather key moment. The crowd seemed fine, with cheers of "intermission" erupting. The chef came out to talk with us again and we were all given free passes for a future screening. After ten minutes, we were back in business. We're grateful to Austin's boss for the gift certificate we used that evening, what a wonderful gift idea!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday Dinner

Cedar planked salmon and veggies, corn on the cob, and a green (not grilled) salad.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Tärkā Indian Kitchen

Daal Makhni (5/5 stars)

Vindaloo with Paneer (3/5 stars)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

LBJ Presidential Library

Today we visited the LBJ library on campus, something that was on our list to do at some point while living in Austin. It had lots of photos, a moon rock, an oval office replica, and a somewhat creepy animatronic LBJ that told jokes. The floors and floors of red-bound archives were stunning.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Long Week

Even though it was a short work week, it's been busy around here. First off we have good ol' Nature to deal with. Our grass has been growing well in spite of the drought so we've been trying to keep up with the yard work. Our plants are all doing well like the lovely bougainvillea in the photo. I've got pumpkin vines that are thriving and sunflowers shooting up. We have a tomato plant that got its first flower and basil that (we finally learned) needs to live inside. Then there are critters. Since we replaced some outside light fixtures, the latest generation of birds is attempting to nest back at the old family estate, only to find there is no surface on which to build a new home. They keep randomly swooping around outside the door. We also have a baby skunk who has been happily digging up grubs all over our front and back yard. Pest control just set a few traps for us. As cute as the little thing is, I can only imagine how bad it could be if Stinky got sprayed or if there was any concern about rabies. After three days of hanging out in plain sight, the little guy seems to be in hiding.

In addition to the natural forces in our life keeping us occupied, I just finished teaching summer school. I've spent a lot of time on finals and finished yesterday so now I'm in "grading jail." I hope to submit grades by Monday if possible. Then I can focus more on the dissertation and the publishing/conferencing tasks I've got in the works. As for Austin's work, it goes without saying that most days are crazy-busy.

We're looking forward to kicking off the weekend by hitting up our favorite Thai place that sells curries at a steal. I think some cooking and Kindle time will be on the agenda for the rest of the weekend.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day

We've had a successful staycation; the pool is quite possibly the best $25 we've ever spent. Every afternoon, we zip our Kindles into quart-size baggies and hit the pool to soak and read. This is the (subjectively) worst weather of the year and we stumbled upon a great solution for tolerating it.

In addition to unfettered pleasure reading, we've also been enjoying some good eats. On Friday, we planked some salmon and made caramelized leek risotto. We've done lots of grilling and I made an Italianesque pasta salad that is light and summery. The corn on the grill was outstanding; I wasn't sure if it would be as tasty as what I remember from WI. Today I'm going to make a blackberry cobbler and we're going to bring the deep-fryer out on the patio to drop in whatever we can grab and coat with panko.

Friday, July 1, 2011