Starry Wisdom

Entropic Words from Neilathotep

Friday, January 30, 2009

Chipotle Bean Tostadas

I saw a similar recipe to this online, but I lost the link, so I can’t reference it. This is simple, suitable for a rushed weeknight for sure!

Chipotle Bean Tostadas (serves 1-3)

1 16oz can refried beans (or homemade, about 2 cups – but this is weeknight dinner, who has times to do this)
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper (or too taste)
1/3 cup vegetable oil
corn tortillas

cotija cheese (shredded)
tomato (diced)
onion (diced)
cilantro (sliced)
lettuce (shredded)
sour cream or crema

For the beans:

Heat per the can, stiring in the chipotle. Feel free to add more or less to achieve desired level of heat.

For the tostada “shells” – heat the oil in a skillet. When it is truly hot (the tortilla should foam instantly when an edge is place in), slide a tortilla in the pan. Hold down with tongs and cook for about 30 seconds per side, until it is brown and crispy. Move to paper towel to dry off excess oil.

Spoon some of the beans on the shell. Top as desired, enjoy.

posted by neil at 2:05 pm
under cooking  

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Book Report

I haven’t reviewed a book in quite a while (save for my secret book list – ask for more info if you really care). But I just read something that I want to talk about. But first, some background.

Back when I was in high school, on days where I didn’t go in early for swim practice, I would browse through the Chicago Tribune before going in to school. In particular I would read the comics page, and Mike Royko’s column. He wrote about a variety of things, quite often politics, but in a different and amusing way. He didn’t mince words, he didn’t pull punches, and he almost always made sense. When I went away to college I pretty much stopped reading him, although I would do so on occasion when home in the summer. When he passed away in 1997 I was sad, but I didn’t realize what a treasure had been lost. Flash forward to last fall. I was at the friends of the SF Library sale, and I saw a copy a book of his columns, which I immediately grabbed – a bargain at 4 bucks, if I do say so. The old people who rung me up were surprised that I was interested in that book, but when I told them where I came from they understood.

Anyway, the book in question is One More Time: The Best of Mike Royko by Mike Royko, with an introduction by another Chicago treasure, may he rest in peace, Studs Terkel. The book covers columns from his start in the 1960s through his final essay, about the cubs, in 1997. It’s strange but across over three decades he managed to remain so consistent, in tone and viewpoint. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, but it is refreshing to realize how genuine he was – always on the side of the common man, never shying away from those in power when they were abusing it.

He was a proponent of civil rights and equality from the beginning until near the end of his life. He leapt to the defense of Harold Washington (the first African-American mayor of Chicago) from the get go, although he was at least somewhat critical of his successor, Eugene Sawyer. He was awestruck that Powell was seen as a viable presidential candidate for the 1996 selection, while lamenting that the most celebrated speaker at the Million Man March was Louis Farrakhan. I cannot imagine the delight he would have taken in the story of Barack Obama, but I was also know that he wouldn’t be afraid to call Obama on anything he did wrong.

The world of today seems to have so much possibilities for him – I would have loved to see his commentary on the whole Rod Blagojevich fiasco. I cannot imagine what sort of words he would have had for the fear mongering Bush administration. Alas, I have to accept that we’ll never know what could have been.

I highly recommend this collection (there are others, which are probably equally excellent, but I cannot recommend at this time). I am going to try to read his biography of Richard J. Daley (the current Mayor of Chicago’s father), Boss in the near future.

posted by neil at 1:16 pm
under books  

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A weekend’s worth of adventure

This past weekend was FULL of adventure, and I am slacky at posting, so here it is Tuesday, and I am finally getting around to what could have been daily posts if I were better at this.

Friday – rather normal day at work. However, it started to get interesting on the way home. After getting off of BART at the 16th street station, while waiting for the Bus, a homeless guy took my umbrella (which I had bought in Japan in 2007 for 400 yen – a bit more than $3). He had a broken leg, so he couldn’t run away, so he talked to me, which was a bit surreal. First he threatened to kill me, but this didn’t impress me. Then he asked me who I voted for, and I told him Obama. He called me a liar, and told me he voted for McCain. I told him that was nice. Then he told me about kung fu, and, well I forget the details. Eventually, after about 10 minutes, the bus came. I told him I had to go, and he asked if I wanted the umbrella back, and I said he could have it if he wanted. I got on the bus and a woman, who was also waiting, asked me why I spent so long talking to him. I said that it was funny and it passed the time, and she agreed.

I got home and slacked for about an hour for heading back out to Cobb’s for The Sound of Young America Live. This was a taping of the podcast/PRI radio show done as part of SF Sketchfest. His guests included Jello Biafra and Tom Amiano, both of which who were very interesting, as well as a comedy performance by Sean Cullen and music by the Oakland hip hop group Zion I. It was good fun.

Saturday night I did another sketchfest related activity – A midnight showing of Wet Hot American Summer at the Clay, hosted by the creators and stars of the movie. The movie is somewhat funny, but it is made funnier by seeing it in a crowd of fans. And of course the people from the State and Janeane Garofalo were suitably amusing too. It was worth staying up late for, even if it means that due to my sleep stupidty, I only got about five and a half ours of sleep that night.

Sunday I ran errands, and then I went out to see another podcast taping. This time it was The Monsters of Podcasting with Jordan, Jesse Go! and You Look Nice Today. The Jordan, Jesse Go! show was incredibly funny, although I was disturbed to find out that Jesse Thorne thinks that Canada is a city. I enjoyed You Look Nice Today, even though I don’t quite understand them as well. All in all it was a good way to end the weekend.

posted by neil at 12:36 pm
under adventure  

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

Well, the day is finally here, and our 44th president has been sworn in. Of course there is no immediate change, but I am hopeful that good things will happen under President Barack Hussein Obama. I watched the inauguration in a break area at work this morning. I have to admit that the views of the Mall made me think of Fallout 3, and I kept looking to see super mutants, which thankfully did not appear.

posted by neil at 2:01 pm
under politics  

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Today, as I was driving to work, I saw the car in front of me swerve to the left. I immediately realized that it did this because there was a piece of Styrofoam packaging floating down 101. I saw the foam come near me and that it was moving to the left, so, after checking my mirror, I moved right. Well, the block decided to move right too, and at the last moment it impacted with my car. No big deal, except there were some weird sounds. I got off the expressway at the next exit (which wasn’t for over a mile), and I found that there was a piece of the foam wedged in my right front wheel well, between the tire and the suspension. I took it out, and there was no more weird vibration sound. I am kind of mad that it feinted like that and I hit it, even if no damage was really done.

posted by neil at 6:21 pm
under adventure  

Monday, January 5, 2009

My Year in Books

Trending backwards again, I completed 42 books in 2008 – only 4 in the last two months, and two of those completed in the last 3 days of the year.

Anyway, here are my top 5, in reading order, not most best to least best or least best to most best:

A Prayer For Owen Meaney – John Irving

This is the sort of book where when I finished it, I couldn’t stop thinking about the characters. Simply fantastic!

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto – Michael Pollan

This is a really interesting book about eating, and the American Edible Product industry (note I didn’t say food!)

The Name of the Rose – Umberto Eco

I really liked this book, although I can see how some people have a hard time with it. It’s pretty strange, but hey, it’s a novel about logic and semiotics set in a medieval monastery, written by an Italian.

Blindsight – Peter Watts

I fucking love this book. So much that I read it two years in a row, and twice this year. I probably put it on top last year too! So good!

Watchmen – Alan Moore

Great novel with pictures. Need I say more?

posted by neil at 11:14 pm
under books  

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Say Yes to Normal Bread

Another week, another loaf of bread. Well, sort of. After my abject failure last week, I decided to make regular, kneaded bread today. Every recipe I had and most I found on the internet were for two loaves of bread, which is more than I wanted! However I found this recipe which looked reasonable enough.

The Kitchen-Aid mixer made the kneading easy (I actually cut it back to 8 minutes instead of the mentioned 10). Here is a picture of the dough after the second rise:

And here is the finished loaf:

It’s fairly tasty, although I think it could do without the honey perhaps. It would make for some delicious french toast, however! Here is the recipe as I made it:

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup very warm milk
2 tablespoons melter butter
2 tablespoon honey
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) instant yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt

Mix in the standmixer for 8 minutes. Let rise covered for an hour, shape, place in a greased pan, cover, allow another hour to rise. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes or until the internal temperature is 190F. Turn out on to a rack and allow to cool for about 1 hour before cutting.

posted by neil at 9:53 pm
under bread,cooking  

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