Saturday, January 16, 2010


Can food be a project?  Absolutely!  For years I've wanted to try making my own sushi.  I bought the book "Sushi for Dummies" a few years ago, read it, then did nothing with it.  At some point I did buy some of the ingredients I needed, but again, never did anything with them.  A couple of years ago for Christmas, I was even given a sushi "kit" that included a rolling mat and wooden paddle, but, as you may have guessed, I didn't do anything with it.

So what brought on another round of sushi desire?  My wife rented "Julie and Julia" last night.  On top of being a good movie, it got me to thinking about food, and, in particular, cooking at home, which quickly led me back to the idea of making my own sushi.

So today I dug out my two sushi books, jotted down a quick list of ingredients, and headed to the grocery store with my wife.  $100 later, and well past our monthly grocery budget, we returned home.  We did pick up our usual list of goodies, but I have to admit that most of the money went toward sushi fixin's.

My biggest fear was making the rice.  Rice is what makes sushi.  If you don't get it right, you end up with nothing but a mess.  As it turns out, following the directions in the "Dummies" book made it almost impossible to mess up.  My rice came out perfectly, even though I didn't have one of the ingredients.

I should probably have mentioned ingredients.  Finding everything you need for Japanese cuisine in rural Vermont is next to impossible.  We did pretty well, though.  With substitutions, we gathered everything but two ingredients, I think.

While the rice was soaking, then cooking, I chopped, sliced, stirred, and sampled everything else that I would need.  I chose four recipes: a spicy tuna roll, the California roll, another tuna roll, and a veggie roll.  My main ingredients to prepare where cucumber, avocado, scallions, tuna, and a couple of mixtures that included mayonnaise and fish roe.

Once the rice was done, and cooled properly, the fun part started.  Rolling sushi is not only easy, it's a pretty cool process.  Basically, add some sticky rice to a piece of nori seaweed, add your ingredients, and roll it all up in a bamboo mat.  Once it's rolled tightly, you can slice it into the servings you typically see, pop it on a plate, and feed it to the family.  It really was fun.

As you can see from the plate above, my first attempt wasn't perfect, but it tasted awesome, and my daughter has already asked me to make more so that she can take it to school for lunch.  I call that a successful project.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The 365 Project - Day 8

On January 2nd, I decided to make an attempt at the 365 Project.  The project is basically a challenge to take at least one photo a day for an entire year.  January 1st is a logical starting point, but many people start whenever they get the inspiration to.  For me, inspiration hit on the 2nd, but I happened to have a photo from the 1st, so I chose that as my starting date.

I am now on day 8.  Observations that I've had so far:
  • Shooting a pic a day isn't that difficult if you don't think about it too hard.  The challenge is to take a photo a day, not to create a masterpiece each day.
  • I find that I'm shooting less in a session than I normally would so that I don't run out of things to shoot.  I'm not sure why this is, as there are zillions of things to photograph in the world, but I find myself stopping after I get a usable shot.  I don't want to use up my mental list of ideas too quickly.
  • There are Flickr groups for everything.  Seriously, today's photo was of a chair.  Out of curiosity, I searched for "Chair" on the Flickr site, and sure enough, there is a Chair group.  In fact, there are multiple chair groups.  Same for "Doorway" (yesterday's photo), and "Cold" etc.  It boggles the mind.
  • I'm still not used to carrying my camera everywhere.  It feels weird.  It may be that it's because I'm carrying around a naked DSLR with no case, so it's obvious that I'm carrying it.  On the other hand, I decided to leave it at home today since I had already posted the day's shot, and it felt strange to not have it with me.  Not really what I expected after only eight days.
  • My family hasn't said that I'm crazy.  I'm pretty sure they are thinking it, but so far they haven't said anything.
So why am I doing this?  Simple.  I like having projects to do, and I've been wanting to force myself to get out with my camera more.  So far, so good.

    Saturday, January 2, 2010

    Holidays, Budgets, and Randomness

    Just a quick post to remind myself and my readers that this blog is here, and not really idle.  The holidays have finally come and gone, so life should start returning back to normal.  4th quarter, starting in about October, till just after New Years is the busiest time at work for me, so home projects generally sit untouched.  This year, I've also decided that the family needs to get back on track financially, so I've taken up the task of setting up a budget, and becoming more involved in keeping track of where our money goes.  The down side to this is that I'll actually see how much I'm spending on projects, which could cut back on what I do.  The up side is that I'll see how much I'm spending on projects, and maybe find creative ways to do things cheaper.

    I'd still like to build the kayak starting this spring/summer.  I put a reminder for myself on my calendar for sometime in April.  If the snow is gone by that point, and the lawn has dried out enough to walk on, I hope to start by that point.  With the new budget in place, I need to remember to start saving for materials now.