Monday, December 31, 2012

Picking a Photo

As mentioned on Facebook, my library is having an amateur photo contest and I’d like to submit something, but I’m having trouble picking out a picture. Based on feedback from others and a few of my favorites, I’ve narrowed it down to 8 photos to choose from. I can only pick one, and I think I’ll submit either to Still Life, Animal, or Scenic categories.

Now the hard part, which one of these is the best?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Khan Academy Experiment–Absolute Values

I remember learning about absolute value equations in school. The only thing I retained was that they made V-shaped graphs and that was kind of cool, but I’m not sure I ever grasped an understanding of real-life situations where absolute values came into play.

So here’s an example (special thanks to Matthew DeLucas for suggesting the use case).  It’s extremely simple, but that’s okay because it’s supposed to be for Intro to Algebra stuff (it has some inequalities in there for good measure).  Note, it does not take into account the fact that the stage has bounds, so it’s still an oversimplified case.

You are making a 2D Fighting game (a la Street Fighter).  The part of the screen that is visible is 540 units wide, even though the stage is actually much wider, so you never want your players to be farther away from each other than the width of the visible screen (when players move the screen does not pan up and down, only left and right, so we only care about their positions on the x axis).  When the players get further away from each other than 540 units, the game should push them closer together.

If one player 1’s x position is 100, at what player 2 positions will the game need to push the players towards each other?

|x – 100| = 540

x = –440 or x = 640



Under what conditions will the game know that it needs to push the players together?

|Player1.x – Player2.x| > 540

|x-y| > 540


Friday, December 14, 2012

Thoughts on Okami

People who know me well know that Okami is my favorite game of all time. Recently, when playing through the HD release, I found myself at a particular moment in the game just before I had to stop playing to go get dinner with Nick. I was turning in a side quest, and was mentally time managing what I was going to do next – “I think before doing the next story quest I’m going to train up at the dojo on my way back to Shinshu Field and get the clover that I couldn’t get before, but I need to go to a shop and get more seed because I missed some birds back there. I wonder if I should farm up demon fangs and get that mirror teleport now or wait until after I do the next dungeon…”

It struck me how excited I was about doing ALL THE THINGS in that game. This is unusual for me, because in most games of this nature I tend to be a primary-path sort of girl. Even in Zelda games, which I enjoy very much, I’m never too concerned about finding all the heart containers or whatever. So I got to thinking, what is it about Okami specifically that makes me so excited about doing all the collections and side quests and essentially 100%ing the game?

Theory 1:

In many games, the story artificially drives my sense of urgency. I’m talking about when the story is like “oh no we must rush to the castle before it is too late!” My logic brain knows that I could go out and farm for experience, complete the secret side quest in the first area, AND finish the entire chocobo minigame series or whatever before going to the castle (and when I got there I’d still arrive just in the nick of time).

However, emotional brain doesn’t quite understand this. Emotional brain feels I need to book it to the castle as fast as I can, because something very serious is at stake. I think my tendency is to let myself get engaged in the experience to the point where emotional brain is sort of guiding things, so I readily go from story point to story point.

In Okami, the story has a lot of exciting moments, but when you get to a new place it tends to frame things as not being in too much of a rush. Your companion, Issun, will be like “you’re gonna love exploring the city, there’s so much to do! I guess we should investigate the weird thing about the queen at some point…but the city is so happenin!”

It is an ever so slight encouragement to do whatever the hell you please, framing the next story point as “yeah, we’ll get around to it.” Possibly this setup sets emotional brain at ease, and makes me much more enthusiastic about feeding all the bunnies along the coastline before actually going into the city.

Theory 2:

It’s possible that the only thing compelling me to do so much of the extra stuff in Okami is that I’m so starved for a game experience that speaks to me. I know in the back of my mind that it’ll probably be over 10 years before someone else makes a game of this scope with this amount of whimsy and personal Lisa Brown appeal, so I become desperate to squeeze every last drop out of the experience before leaving it.

What about you, internet? What games compel you to do all their extra things when comparable games do not?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Khan Academy Experiment–Intro to Algebra

So awhile ago on Facebook, I mentioned wanting to do a thing where I came up with a practical game development example for Khan Academy playlists.  This post is the first one!

I started with the Intro to Algebra playlist, and actually had kind of a tricky time coming up with an example.  I just wanted to do something simple with comparing two linear equations, but lots of things in games don’t end up being linear (the first idea that popped into my head was comparing acceleration and top speed between Bowser and Yoshi and seeing when Yoshi would overtake Bowser, but those aren’t linear rates).

After cycling through some more too-complex ideas, I settled on Gold Drip in MOBA games.  It’s a start, but even still it’s oversimplified for a few reasons

  • It doesn’t take into account other means of gold income or spending, only passive gold drip. 
  • It doesn’t address that you can’t actually buy the Philosopher’s Stone at the beginning of the game – that you can’t have negative gold
  • The per-10-seconds language would have tripped me up as a beginning algebra student, I think.

Anyway, it’s a start.  Please let me know if I blew the math anywhere.

The Scenario

In League of Legends, players earn money at a rate of 16 gold every 10 seconds and every player starts out with 475 gold.  A player can buy an item (Philosopher’s stone) for 700 gold that increases her income by 5 gold per 10 seconds.

So, normal rate (where s is seconds)

Total Gold = (16/10)s + 475

Philosopher’s Stone rate

((16+5)/10)s + 475 – 700

If a player buys the Philosopher’s Stone, at what time does she break even, after which her gold will overtake an opponent who did not buy the Philosopher’s Stone?  This is assuming neither player buys anything else or gains gold in another way.

(16/10)s +475 = ((16+5)/10)s + 475 – 700

(16/10)s +700= ((16+5)/10)s

(16/10)s+700 = (21/10)s

700 = (5/10)s


1400 = s (so 23 minutes and 20 seconds)


However, this would assume that you could buy the item from the very start and have negative gold.  How long would it take before a player could afford to buy a Philosopher’s stone?

s = (700 - 475) * 10 / 16

Let’s assume that you the designer want the Philosopher’s Stone to be OP  and pay itself off 5 minutes earlier than it does right now (s=1100 instead of s=1400).  How could you change the item’s cost to achieve this?  How could you change its gold gain rate to achieve this?

Changing initial item cost

(16/10)(1100) +475 = ((16+5)/10)(1100) + 475 – c

(16/10)(1100) =  ((21)/10)(1100) – c

1760 = 2310 – c

c = 550

Changing item’s gold gain rate

(16/10)(1100) +475 = ((16/10)+r)(1100) + 475 – 700

1760= 1760+1100r – 700

700 = 1100r

7/11 = r (this is 7 gold per 11 seconds)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Pitch Neutralizer

I’m not normally a dream-recounter, but this one I had a bit ago keeps popping back in my head, so I’ll go ahead and share.

In the dream, at work, there was a large device called the “Pitch Neutralizer.”  If you had an idea for a feature for the game or a solution to a design problem, you would speak it into the pitch neutralizer through a telephone-tube device like you see at the playground.  Everyone would have a turn proposing their ideas.

Then, the Pitch Neutralizer would present those ideas to the whole room, the trick being that each idea was now coming from one voice and source, so you wouldn’t be biased against a particular person’s idea based on how good/bad he was at presenting it.  Thus, neutralizing the pitches (awake brain thinks that “Pitch Normalizer” would have been a better name, but asleep brain says “I DO WHAT I WANT,” so there you go).

The quirkiest bit about this whole thing was the voice and personality the device would use to re-present all of the ideas.  It was none other than Oprah Winfrey.

I have no idea.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Indiecade 2012

I was starting to think that I had been cursed to never again attend Indiecade, as 2 years ago I came down with the flu this time of year*, and last year it was Nick who was let's-go-to-the-hospital sick right over Indiecade.  But this year we were both in good health, and ventured down to Culver City to check out all the games.  There was lots of cool stuff, but here are some of my favorites:

Unfinished Swan
I'd seen this ages ago and forgotten about it completely, and was delighted to find it again.  The basic idea is the world is completely flat white, so it looks like a blank screen.  You throw blobs of black paint to splatter and reveal the geometry so you can find your way around.  But be careful not to over splatter paint, otherwise you'll end up with the same problem as no paint at all!

This game has an amazing, delightful, and whimsical art style that reeled me in right away.  The combat is kind of quirky and unusual, but fun, though the transitions can be a little awkward, especially in co-op.  But you get to play as a luchador (or luchadora) AND can turn into a chicken!  What's not to love??

Super Space
In this 4-player asteroid-shooter, every player is attached to one ship.  The only way you can move the ship is how you propel it by your shooting.  Also you're competing to steal asteroid shots, but still have to be careful and keep the ship from crashing into the sides.  Competitive cooperative game that will instantly reveal the true nature of your friends.

Against the Wall
You pull blocks out of a wall to make platforms to get to a place.  I would have played this all day if Nick hadn't dragged me away.

A simple yet surprisingly intense ipad game.  Circles with numbers, press and hold the circles to make the numbers go up and the circles grow bigger.  Try and get the total from all the circles to 100.  Obstacles bounce around and will run into the circles and reduce them to 0.  The bigger the circle, the more vulnerable it is to hazards, so you have to get your timing just-so.  If I had an ipad I'd get this game in a heartbeat.  I couldn't find any video footage, but there's an old browser version of the game running around.

We also bumped into Jake Sones, who showed us his iOS prototype of a sort of match-3/defense game mashup.  It was quite fun and looked promising!

Anyway, Indiecade is lots of fun and I'm looking forward to next year.

*As a metric of how sick I was at the time: I was laying on the couch right under the A/C hoping to bring my fever down.  On the coffee table were some fries from In-n-out brought by Nick (I was in the "demand comfort food" stage of the flu).  Mr. Davis had been sitting with me, but jumped down and started to pull fries out of the bag, one by one, and eat them.  I was too weak to move.  I couldn't even raise my voice to shoo him away.  So I watched in a fevered stupor as my cat ate each and every one of my fries.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

10 years!

Holy crap, it is the 10th anniversary of my blog!  I started writing 10 years ago today in my Livejournal, chronicling random thoughts and college adventures.

And here I am today, continuing to chronicle random thoughts and adventures.  And also recipes.  Lots and lots of recipes.

What will this blog hold 10 years from now??

Friday, September 7, 2012

Lost Blanket

This morning when I got out of my car, I saw a crumpled up little pink blanket in the road.  I picked it up and shook out the dirt and debris it had collected, noting the torn satin edges and little embroidered bear on the front.  Now, it could have been nothing.  It could have been something someone snagged from Goodwill to pad some furniture they moved.  Or maybe it did belong to a baby and fell from a car while he was being buckled in, and the baby was too young to care or even notice.

But in my mind, all I could think about when I was little and forced my Dad to drive 2 hours back to the lake after our vacation because I had discovered, to my horror, that I had left Doggy behind.  And I’m pretty sure I cried desperately non-stop until I had Doggy back in my arms (thank you, Dad!)

So, this blanket…I was unsure of the best course of action, so I just folded it up and left it on the back of my car, so that it would be in easy view and out of the road.  When I left work, the blanket was gone.  Sure, anyone could have just strolled up and taken it, but in my mind I like to believe I saved a panicky parent from facing a child with the possibility that Blankie was perma-lost.

I hope it found its way home!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Wilderness Survival Class

For yesterday’s adventure, I went to a wilderness survival class with Josue and his wife.  It was essentially a 5 hour hike through a canyon throughout which we were taught a variety of survival skills – edible plants, fire making, etc.

Here is what I learned:


Nightshade berries are delicious – they taste like little cherry tomatoes, but don’t eat the unripe ones or they will make you sick.

Scavenged and ate a salad of watercress, lambs quarter, speedwell and mustard flowers.  Watercress was the most abundant but it’s really spicy, so you need some milder edibles to eat with it.

Identified poison oak.  Red berries and coffee berries are a laxative and will make you throw up if you eat too many.  Cherry holly leaves have cyanide, don’t eat them.  Was shown a few other poisonous plants which I remember by sight but I don’t recall their names


(one is this decorative flowered plant that they use on freeways a lot. They have straight stems that are tempting as marshmallow roasters, but the stems are poisonous too)


The stems and branches of the mule fat plant are really great for making bows and drills and other tools because they are so straight.  Willows look kind of like mule fat, but have medicinal bark.

Ragweed tastes terrible, but if you are starving, you can boil it and eat it.

Learned how to make a twine rope out of yucca leaf fibers.  It ended up coming in handy, too, because my ponytail rubberband broke at one point.  I used my yucca twine to tie up my hair.

Made soap from yucca leaves.  There’s really nothing to it, you just tear up the leaf into fibers and agitate them in water.

Roasted yucca fruit over a fire I helped start.  Yucca fruit are good to eat if you cut one open and it’s still white inside.  They taste too soapy when raw, but when you cook them they taste rather like summer squash or corn.

(If you haven’t gathered by now, yucca are extremely handy plants.)


Ate a prickly pear cactus pad.  It was yummy!

Learned to start a fire with flint/tinder and with a bow drill.  Though I got the coal started with the bow drill, I needed Josue to help me stabilize the bow.  Co-op for the win!

All in all, it was a really fun day and I learned a ton!  The worst part, of course, was the hike back up out of the canyon.  I got a bit too much sun and spent most of the rest of the day asleep.  For all my LA friends, if you’re interested in this sort of stuff, check out this guy’s classes.  They are affordable and good learnins.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Lemon pork stir fry

Stir fry is my go-to default meal,so I don’t usually share recipes since they’re usually just small variants of my standard stir fry.  Tonight, though, my experiments led to a different enough path that I think it warrants recording.  The lemony flavor is quite strong.


  • 4 thin boneless pork chops
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 3-4 fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 1 head of baby bok choy, chopped
  • soba noodles prepared according to package instructions (I normally make rice or pure vegetable stir fries, but tonight I was feeling noodley.  Feel free to use rice if you prefer it)

For marinade:

  • soy sauce
  • olive oil
  • rice vinegar
  • a dash of sesame oil
  • juice from one lemon
  • (1 tsp corn starch and 2 tsps water for thickening into sauce)
  1. Mix soy sauce, olive oil, rice vinegar into a shallow dish (I didn’t measure, sorry guys, do your best guess).  Add sesame oil and lemon juice and stir
  2. Cut pork chops into strips and place in marinade.  Marinate for an hour or so
  3. Heat some olive oil in a wok and brown the strips of pork on all sides.  Set pork aside and drain out some of the juices in the wok, leaving just enough to stir fry the vegetables
  4. Add all vegetables and stir fry for a few minutes
  5. Add the pork and stir
  6. in the reserved marinade, add corn starch and water and stir briskly.  Add to the wok and bring to a boil until sauce starts to thicken
  7. Add noodles, toss, and serve!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Ants and Aphids

There’s a short wall behind my apartment complex where Mr. Davis likes to perch, and there’s often a line of ants coming and going up and over it that I like to watch.  Today, as I watched the ant line disappear under some ivy, something caught my eye.  It was several ants tending diligently to a flock of aphids!

Now, I’d known before about the relationship between ants and aphids, and seen it before on nature shows, but somehow stumbling upon it in my back yard made the phenomenon 100% more awesome.  I watched with wonder as the ants harvested honeydew from their aphid herd in wee little droplets.  Nearby, a large group of baby aphids was clustered on an ivy stem under the shelter of a leaf.  At the base of the stem, two ants were just hanging out, which was weird to see as one tends to encounter ants on the go.  Guard duty, I suppose.

Meanwhile, during my observation, Mr. Davis had hopped down and found where the line of ants picked up through the grass.  He was lapping them up by the tongueful.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Petting a New Cat–A Guide for Cat Noobs

Mr. Davis is quite popular with the neighbors when we go out on our walks, and when people come to pet him I can always tell right away if that person is experienced or not in dealing with cats.
For my friends who are inexperienced with cats but still would like to pet them, here are some tips for cat-petting to make a better experience when meeting and greeting a new cat for the first time.
1. When you meet a new cat, let him sniff your hand before you pet him.  Stick your finger out towards his nose, stopping a few inches away, or offer your hand palm-up for him to investigate (coming in palm-down can seem threatening to some cats.  Dogs, too, for that matter)
2. Let him finish sniffing!  This is often where I see people mess up.  I feel like the “let a new animal sniff you” rule is pretty commonly understood, but lots of times a person will offer their hand, then after one sniff immediately go in for the pet.  Usually the cat is still trying to sniff, and cranes and arcs his head accordingly so the person can’t reach to pet.  It can be very awkward.
Just be patient.  The sniffy investigation can take several seconds, even longer for wary cats.  Keep holding your hand still and wait for the signal.

Cat has initiated sniffing. Let him finish! Be patient!
Not finished yet!! 

3.  After a thorough sniff, the cat will generally give a clear signal on how to proceed.  If the cat backs away or does not move towards you, he doesn’t want to be petted.  Don’t press the issue, maybe next time.

Cat is not interested, do not proceed with pet.
Other times he will initiate the pet, which is very easy to follow up.  He may rub his face against your outstretched hand or finger, which which case, just scratch that cheek or under the chin.  Just make scratching motions with your hand and hold it in place, and the cat will apply the appropriate pressure that he wants by how forcefully he pushes his face into your hand.

He also may move towards you and turn his side towards you, in which case this is a good signal to stroke his back.  It may be helpful for inexperienced cat petters to keep the strokes short across the shoulders or at the base of the back near the tail.  Like the cheek rub, most of the time the cat will lean into your hand at the part that he wants to be petted, just pay attention.

4.  On petting the head: I find that most inexperienced cat-petters want to pat the cat on the top of the head, like you do with dogs.  This can be fine, but I recommend avoiding going in to pet the head straight in front of the cat.  Having your arm looming right over the cat’s face and obscuring his vision can put him on the defensive.  Instead, go in from the side of the cat’s head, or from behind, over the back.
When petting the top of the head, avoid going straight in over the face like this 

Go in from the side, like so 
Or so

5.  Look for the signal to stop petting.  Mostly this is just when the cat moves away from you, but sometimes a cat can be mischievous and get riled up by prolonged affection, leading him to view your hand as a play toy.  Watch for a vigorously swishing tail, or for the cat to start sharply turning his head towards your hand, or for his eyes to get really big.  Those are generally signs to stop petting.
That’s all for now!  I hope this guide is helpful.  I feel like a lot of these can apply to meeting new dogs as well, but I am most familiar with cats so I’ll stick to that.  Good luck!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Icing

Just a super quick recipe post…yesterday I baked a chocolate cake for kicks, and wanted to figure out how I could use up some leftover chocolate chips and marshmallows.  I couldn’t find an icing recipe that I had all the ingredients for, but I used them for reference and made this cake frosting that turned out wonderfully!
Unfortunately it was sort of “throw a bit of this and a bit of that” into a saucepan, so most of these measurements are shifty.
  • 2 TBs butter
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup of chocolate chips (I had like 1/4 of a bag leftover)
  • Some water
  • Some vanilla (maybe 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1 TBs of sugar or more (I literally grabbed several pinches of it)
  • Handful of mini marshmallows, maybe 1 cup
1. Melt butter in a small saucepan.  stir in chocolate chips and keep stirring over medium low heat until they are melted.  Add some water if needed to keep from scorching.
2. Stir in vanilla and sugar.
3. Stir in marshmallows and keep stirring until they are melted.  Taste for if you need more sugar (but don’t burn your tongue).
4. Remove from heat and continue stirring until mixture thickens slightly as it cools.  Frost cake immediately!  (it gets pretty stiff when it cools completely)

Edit: I should add: this made enough frosting to cover a 1 layer 8 inch round cake.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Steamed Greens

If you know me well, then you know I struggle to eat vegetables.  None is so difficult to force myself to consume than the greens, though.  This is because greens are disgusting, clearly, but I feel I must make some effort to be healthy.

I can disguise them pretty well in a stir fry, but sometimes I run out of other vegetables to include.  After much experimenting, I have FINALLY figured out a form in which I will actually enjoy them:


  • Olive oil
  • Clove of garlic, chopped
  • Greens (this can be spinach, chard, collards, cabbage, kale – whatever) chopped into wide strips
  • Salt
  • Apple cider vinegar (OR rice vinegar and soy sauce, but more vinegar)


  1. Heat the oil in a wok or skillet and saute the garlic for a bit
  2. Add the greens and toss until it starts to wilt slightly
  3. Add a sprinkle of salt and a bit of vinegar (I usually use a capful so I’m not sure how much this is.  Maybe 2 teaspoons?) and toss the greens.
  4. Cover the wok and let the greens steam for a few minutes
  5. Remove from wok and serve.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


These posts are really more for my own reference than anything, but I figure it’s good to share them all the same.  Here’s a bunch of books that I’ve chewed through recently.

East of Eden – is this my first Steinbeck ?  It might be!  I’m glad I read it now, though, since I’ve lived in California a bit and have a much better mental context for the setting.  It was exciting when Nick and I took the train to San Francisco and passed Salinas.  The character of Cathy Ames was so horrifying, though, that I almost ended the book prematurely.  I stuck it through!

The Snow Fox – sometimes when I don’t have any ideas of the next book I should read, I wander the aisles of the library and randomly pluck out titles, then try the first one that has a blurb of interest to me.  This book was a love story between a samurai and a poet in medieval Japan, and had wonderful imagery.  They did some playing around with time jumps, though, so occasionally I wasn’t sure when I was reading, but the story was nice, if not somewhat melancholy.

Cat’s Cradle – I usually have a really hard time with Vonnegut, but I really enjoyed this one.  The whole Bokononism thing was really fun, and a clever lens through which to interpret the world

Trickster Makes this World – I was actually kind of disappointed by this book.  I am really interested in trickster stories and was hoping to learn more about their origins and their relations to each other across cultures.  There was some of that, but he would get so swirling and deep and metaphysical about the interpretations of just a few key trickster stories that they felt worn out and uninteresting by the end of it.  Pretty “meh,” and I probably should have just stuck to reading actual trickster tales.

To Kill a Mockingbird – another classic story that I realize I’d never read.  This book is wonderful, but it’s also pretty depressing to see that many of the uglier aspects of how human beings treat each other still go on today.  Sigh

Neverwhere – I generally enjoy Neil Gaiman but just had never gotten around to reading this one.  It was awesome.  I liked it.

Magic Street – I always think I’ve read more Orson Scott Card than I actually have.  I always think I’ve read Ender’s Game when it was really The Worthing Saga that I read.  Anyway.  I love fantasy books that spin on the traditional Tolkein-inspired notions of fantasty, and this story is a prime example.  Highly recommended!

As always, if you have a good read to suggest, please do so!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

February Free Event

This month’s free event was a Nature Photography Workshop at Franklin Canyon, which is a little nature preserve snugged away in the middle of Beverly Hills that I had no idea existed.  The local canyon parks have various hikes and workshops every month, and they always catch my eye as I scan EyeSpyLA for free events. 

It was a pretty casual arrangement.  Basically one of the park’s volunteer naturalists led the group on a trail and gave tips here and there.  She also worked with people individually to help them learn how to use their cameras.  I was able to finally get some guidance on taking distant shots and landscapes to some success, but man I’m starting to crave a zoom lens!

Anyway, it was super fun and I’m really glad I went.  Here are the results from the day:

With a few favorites:

Anyone recognize this place?

Looking ahead to March, I most definitely want to return to the Annual Festival of the Kite.  Still, I’ll keep an eye out for any other interesting events that show up.

Monday, January 23, 2012

January Free Thing Recap

I did two free events in LA in January, and both were pretty neat.  The first was a free pipe organ concert by Hector Olivera.  Unlike many other musical concerts, for a pipe organ concert you have to go to where the pipe organ is, and seeing as pipe organs are generally in churches in the choir loft and the pews face the opposite direction, there was that awkwardness of sitting facing away from the performer.  The first half was just stuff on the pipe organ and it was super cool.  For the second half, he performed on his symphonic touring organ, which is the kind that has synthesizers for all the other instruments in the symphony.  While technically impressive to watch him hammer out all the instrument parts himself, unfortunately symphonic organs just don’t sound very good.  It’s like listening to a midi keyboard.  Nevertheless, the performance was good, and free, and they had homemade baked goods as refreshments, score!

The second event was a workshop given by graffiti artist, Galo “MAKE ONE” Canote.  It’s part of  a program by the Craft and Folk Art Museum called “Folk Art Everywhere,” which has various workshops held in different cultural centers all throughout LA.  He gave us a lecture about his work and LA street culture, then had a workshop on very basic lettering, showing us the most basic way to deform letters without losing their inherent structure, and we all practiced lettering our names with markers on papers.  Basically it was “How to make a locker sign.” It was cool, though, and I learned some things for sure.  As a bonus, everyone who came was given free passes for the Craft and Folk Art Museum. 

February Free Events that look promising:

  • Nature photography workshop at Franklin Canyon
  • Astronomy walk at the observatory
  • Staged reading of Sophocles’ Ajax

We’ll see what other events pop up

Monday, January 9, 2012

Poached Chicken and Stuffed Turnip


This is a weird recipe.  I was trying to mod an existing Poule au Pot recipe based on the ingredients I already had, which were chicken parts instead of a whole chicken (and different veggies and no pasta).  I wanted stuffing, though, so I looked for something else I could mount it in, and happened to have a turnip, so there you go.

For the Stuffing, mix together in a bowl:

  • 1 cup or so of breadcrumbs.  I didn’t measure exactly, just grated a leftover third of stale baguette I happened to have
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 TBS melted butter
  • salt and pepper
  • handful of fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock

Gather together in cheesecloth:

  • 1 whole shallot with 2 cloves shoved into the sides
  • 1 bay leaf
  • a few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • a few stems of fresh parsley
  • 1 rib celery, cut into chunks


  • 1 large turnip

cut off the root end and the top (keep the top).  Cut out the center of the turnip and set aside for later.  I sort of worked my way around the turnip with a knife, cut an x cross-ways, then used a spoon to dig out chunks.  I repeated this until I had an empty turnip casing.

Fill the turnip with stuffing, put the lid back on and tie around the turnip with kitchen twine to keep it shut.

Season with salt and pepper:

  • 1 chicken thigh and leg
  • 1 chicken wing

Add the chicken, cheesecloth bundle, and turnip to a large saucepan or pot and fill with water until the chicken is just covered.  Cover the pot and bring to a boil, then uncover and simmer 10-15 minutes, skimming the fat, reducing the broth.

(this is where I messed up somewhat.  I was trying to figure out the difference in poaching time between chicken parts and a whole bird, and I think I ended up simmering for too long or at too high a temperature, because the chicken was kind of mild.  I may have leeched out the flavor like you do when you make stock.  More experiments needed)

Add to the pot:

  • 1 leek, halved and cut into 4 inch pieces
  • The turnip innards from before

Add water if needed to keep the chicken covered and continue simmering until the veggies are tender and the chicken is done (165 degree F internal temp).

Remove chicken and turnip and strain vegetables.  Take the lid off the turnip and serve everything together.