Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Squid Cooks: Gazpacho

My wife does 99% of the cooking at our house and that's probably an underestimate.  She's really good at it and she finds it therapeutic at the end of the day.  I mostly stay out of her way.  All of our friends know this.  They've eaten her food, after all, so they appreciate her talents.

I do, however, know how to make a few things well.  A friend once asked me what I like to cook and I told her gazpacho.  She looked at me, puzzled.  "That's not the sort of thing a person makes if they don't do a lot of cooking."  Fair enough.  But I do it for a simple and admittedly selfish reason: if I don't make gazpacho, it's possible no one will.  And that would be horrible!

Making gazpacho isn't exactly difficult but it is labor-intensive - lots of vegetable chopping involved.  As you can see from the photo, I like mine chunky.  That's what my Cook's Illustrated recipe calls for and it's also my personal preference.  Food processors are a pain in the neck to clean and as a frequent dishwasher in the house (we do it all by hand), I'd prefer they be used as infrequently as possible.  The recipe is a really good one for anyone who like chunky gazpacho - explicit instructions on how to chop each ingredient effectively.  Besides, vegetables should crunch.  It's part of the appeal.

I think my favorite part about gazpacho is that with the quantity I make, there's always plenty for leftovers and gazpacho makes for excellent leftovers.  With all of the various acids intermingled, the soup keeps "cooking" over time so if anything, the flavors will be more richly blended and intensified the longer it lasts.  Mind you, it never lasts more than a couple days in my house.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Marvel Unlimited: Kraven's Last Hunt, Parts 4-6; Infinity Gauntlet #1-3

Alright so yes, Kraven's Last Hunt turned out to be very good indeed.  Frequent visitors may recall I had my doubts last week.  It's worth noting, it took the return of Peter Parker to the story to grab my interest.  The whole point of the arc, in fact, is Kraven exhibiting to Peter the separate aspects of his own being: what of Spidey is spider and what is man?  With Vermin as his pawn, Kraven reminds Peter that a spider for all of its extraordinary gifts is still a ruthless predator.  

Then again, that describes humans pretty well, too...

But that's not Kraven's point.  When Spidey acts with thoughtless disregard, he is the spider.  When he is driven by emotions, he is the man.  It's sort of Star Trekky, really.  But darker.

Anyway, I am now more curious about both Kraven and, to a lesser extent, Vermin.  I am always eager to learn more about Spidey.

As it turns out, I was reading the Thanos story in the right order after all.  Infinity Gauntlet comes next.  Thanos snaps his fingers and snuffs out half the population of the universe.  Sound familiar?

Starlin and Perez's story has a cast of thousands, never what I want in a comic book but all Avengers-driven stories are like this.  It's too bad because the build up stories are a lot more graceful.  Oh well.  The art's good.  Maybe I'll feel differently as I get deeper into the plot.

My Recent Reads

The Web of Spider-Man #32
Originally published November 1987
Writer: J.M. DeMatteis
Artist: Mike Zeck

The Amazing Spider-Man #294
November 1987

Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #132
November 1987

via Amazon

Infinity Gauntlet #1
May 21, 1991
Jim Starlin/George Pérez

Infinity Gauntlet #2
June 18, 1991

via Amazon

Infinity Gauntlet #3
July 16, 1991

via Amazon

Friday, October 15, 2021

Star Trek: Unification II

Episode: "Unification II"
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 5, Episode 8
Original Air Date: November 11, 1991

via Memory Alpha

Continued from last week...

Spock reveals why he is on Romulus: the movement to reunite Romulus and Vulcan, long a taboo subject, seems to be gaining political support and he wants to help.  Unfortunately, it's all a set up.  Sela (Denise Crosby) is back and she has plans to take advantage of Spock's presence to launch a Romunlan invasion of Vulcan.  

It's a decent episode, mostly for the meaningful one-on-one scences for Spock and Data and, later, Spock and Picard.  Seeing Sela is fun, though I would argue Crosby is a bit wooden in this appearance.  Worf sings Klingon opera for the first (and only?) time.  

Acting Notes

via Wikipedia

Stephen Root played the role of K'Vada, captain of the Klingon Bird-of-Prey that took Picard and Data to Romulus.  Root was born November 17, 1951 in Sarasota, Florida.  He studied acting at the University of Florida.  He made his Broadway debut in So Long on Lonely Street, then hit the big screen in 1988's Crocodile Dundee II.  

I believe Root is one of the finest character actors of his generation though in 1991, he was still a relative unknown.  He'd land the role of Jimmy James on NewsRadio in 1995.  His most memorable role came in 1999: Milton Waddams, he of the red stapler, in Office Space.  Overall, the credits are impressive.  On film: Dodgeball, Leatherheads and several Coen Brothers' films including O Brother, Where Art Thou?  On television, he made appearances on seemingly every quality show for years: Night Court, Seinfeld, Frasier, The West Wing, Pushing DaisiesBoardwalk Empire, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and on and on.  The voice over credits are considerable, too: King of the Hill, Ice Age and Finding Nemo among many others.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Squid Mixes: Cardamom Manhattan

As previously written, I've been looking to bring cardamom into my Manhattan game for a while now.  Bitters seemed an opportunity for a more subtle flavor injection than I got with ground cardamom.  Lapis in DC uses both cardamom and Angostura for their drink so I figured I could, too.  

For Trial #1, I used the two bitters in equal parts.  The result was good, though the cardamom wasn't enough.  So, for Trial #2, I went 2:1 in favor of the cardamom over the Angostura.  Bingo.  I suppose one could go all in on the cardamom but I like the interplay of the two together.

I don't feel comfortable calling my drink a Lapis Manhattan because the restaurant includes ingredients I didn't: orange peel and Scotch.  Plus, I imagine their bartenders have a clever way of infusing the cardamom flavor directly from the seeds that I haven't sorted out yet.  Maybe next time I go, I'll sit at the bar and watch them make it.

For now, mine is simply a Cardamom Manhattan.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Marvel Unlimited: Silver Surfer #36-38; Kraven's Last Hunt, Parts 1-3

The Thanos story ends and the Kraven story begins.

The Surfer triumphs over Thanos.  Sort of.  He believes so anyway.  I think I read The Thanos Quest and Rebirth of Thanos in reverse order but oh well.

As for Kraven's Last Hunt, it's great to get back to the Spidey-verse though I have yet to decide how I feel about this particular story.  For starters, the arc goes across titles, a modern comic book convention which I do not like - unnecessarily crass commercialism.  It also, at least to this point, hasn't involved Peter Parker a whole lot.  PP's world is the whole reason I care about Spidey.

Kraven the Hunter "kills" Peter Parker and takes on the Venom suit for himself, becoming in effect a more murderous Spider-Man.  Meanwhile, Vermin lurks in the sewers, kidnapping pedestrians off the city streets and eating them.  The paths of the two are on an inevitable intercept course.

Fortunately, there is some of Parker's world.  Mary Jane, Peter's new wife, is understandably worried about her missing husband.  When she encounters Spidey, she realizes instantly that it's not Peter inside the suit.

As always with Spider-Man, I am aware of how much I've missed since the last time I spent meaningful time with the character.  Might have to backtrack someday.

My Recent Reads

Silver Surfer #36
Originally published April 1990
Writer: Jim Starlin
Artist: Ron Lim

Silver Surfer #37
May 1990

Silver Surfer #38
June 1990

via Amazon

Web of Spider-Man #31
October 1987
J.M. DeMatteis/Mike Zeck

via Amazon

Amazing Spider-Man #293
October 1987

Peter Parker, Spectacular Spider-Man #131
October 1987

Friday, October 8, 2021

Star Trek: Unification I

Episode: "Unification I"
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 5, Episode 7
Original Air Date: November 4, 1991


Ambassador Spock has traveled to Romulus and no one has heard from him since.  Worried he has defected, Starfleet sends Picard and Data on a covert mission to find out.  Spock's appearance in the very last camera shot of the episode is one of the great character entrances of the franchise.

Leonard Nimoy's appearance was a cross-promotion and as such he was paid barely over scale.  Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country was set to release in December 1991.  Nimoy had both acting and writing credits for the film.  In a complete coincidence, the episode was only the second to air after the death of Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek's creator.  The episode is dedicated to Roddenberry.  Interestingly, Papa Gene himself was the strongest advocate for maintaining the distinctions between the original series and NextGen.  Nonetheless, it's only fitting that his send-off story should feature Spock, whose Trek tenure goes all the way back to the original pilot.

Roddenberry's passing prompts an obvious question: who was Star Trek's primary shepherd by late 1991?  The truth is, Roddenberry hadn't truly been "the boss" for a long time.  Though still officially executive producer of NextGen, he hadn't been the primary creative force of the franchise since the mess that was the process of creating the initial motion picture.  By the early '90s, the head honcho was Rick Berman.

Berman was born December 25, 1945 in New York City.  He graduated from the University of Wisconsin as an English and film double major.  Before Trek, he was the producer for PBS's children's show The Big Blue Marble.  He joined Paramount in 1984 as director of programming, overseeing Cheers and Family Ties among many others.  

In 1987, Roddenberry picked Berman and writer Maurice Hurley to help create The Next Generation.  By the third season, he was executive producer.  He lead Trek until 2005 when Enterprise was cancelled.

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Bitters of the Month: Cardamom

I've had an eye out for cardamom bitters for a while, ever since my attempt to re-create the Lapis Manhattan.  Recently, my wife spotted this beauty from The Bitter Housewife, based in Portland, Oregon:

On its own (with gin), the bitters is strong, though not as strong as ground cardamom itself so I think there's hope for successful mixing.