Wanderings in Black and Red

Monday, the 30th of September, 2002

Thai-style Fried Fish with Mango Salad
two 6-ounce rockfish filets (or other white fish)
1-2 cups vegetable oil
1 green mango
2 shallots
5 bird's-eye chilies
2-3 tbsp fish sauce
1 lime
1/4 cup roasted cashews
1/2 cup rice

  1. Mix salad
    Shave off thin curls of lime skin and set aside. Slice the mango into thin strips no bigger than 1/4 inch wide. Dice the shallots and chilies and mix in a bowl with the mango pieces. Cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice of one half into the bowl. Add fish sauce to taste.

  2. Cook lime rice
    Pour 1 tbsp oil into a medium saucepan. Saute the lime curls for a minute or two and add rice. When the rice has started to turn opaque, squeeze in the other half of the lime, add at least a cup of water and cover. Cook over medium heat until all the water has been absorbed and set aside.

  3. Fry the fish
    Pour the oil into the saucepan and heat. When the oil is hot, add the fish filets. Fry, turning over occasionally, until both sides are golden brown and the fish flakes apart easily. Lay the filets on paper towels to drain away remaining oil while you dish up the rice and salad.

  4. Serve it
    Mound the rice up on a plate. Serve the fish next to it with the salad. Drip a bit of the leftover juice from the salad onto the fish. Serves 2; people who don't like spicy dishes should pick out the chilies.

Sunday, the 29th of September, 2002

Thursday, the 26th of September, 2002

Friday, the 20th of September, 2002

Tangy Baked Chicken with Cucumber Salad (quick and easy!)
2 chicken breast halves
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/4 cup Catalina dressing
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon mirin (or white wine vinegar)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon dill
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cucumber

  1. Prepare chicken
    Rinse the chicken breasts off and pat them dry. Mix the salad dressing, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce and spread the resulting sauce lightly on one side of the chicken breasts. Flip them over. Mix the red and black pepper and sprinkle it evenly over the top of the chicken breasts. Brush more sauce onto the chicken breasts.

  2. Cook the chicken
    Put the chicken breasts onto a shallow baking dish. Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for about 22 minutes.

  3. Make the salad
    Find a tupperware bowl that holds at least a quart and has a lid that fits well. Mix the sour cream, vinegar, sugar, dill, and salt. Cut a cucumber down its length, then slice it into thin pieces. Toss the pieces into the bowl. Cover the bowl and shake vigorously. Leave it in the refrigerator until the chicken is ready.

  4. Serve it
    If there is any sauce left, put it in a small saucepan or a pyrex dish and heat it until it bubbles. Pour it over the chicken breasts and serve with the cucumber salad.

Thursday, the 19th of September, 2002

Sunday, the 15th of September, 2002

Saturday, the 14th of September, 2002

Friday, the 13th of September, 2002

Kelly and I have been thinking about selling our cars and getting one vehicle to share. I work from home, and she's heading back to school, so neither of us needs a car very often. Yet we each pay full insurance and parking every month.

She'd just sell her car and save the money, but my vehicle is an off-road-built Suzuki Samurai and its heavy-duty clutch gives her a lot of trouble so I'd have to do all the driving. Besides, it's small, noisy, and a bit uncomfortable. It works, and I'd happily keep on driving it until the day it collapses into a heap of dust, but it will never be a particularly nice way to get around.

We haven't really decided what we're going to do yet - I don't know whether I can handle the idea of only having one car, and I'm not sure I'm willing to sell my Samurai after putting so much work into it - but we've been doing a bit of research and took our first test drives tonight. The candidates were a '98 Isuzu Amigo, a '98 Toyota RAV4, and a '95 Geo Tracker.

The Amigo is the clear leader so far. It feels roomy but isn't actually any bigger than Kelly's Tracer. It has a nice solid chassis and a proper 4x4 drivetrain; probably not as off-road capable as my Samurai, but good enough to get as far out into the wilderness as we like to go. The engine is both strong and quiet, and there are lift kits available for better off-road capability. There's a sunroof and a removable top. The rear seat is big enough for adults to ride comfortably. The one flaw is that it gets a mere 23 mpg. This is a problem and it remains to be seen whether its virtues will be strong enough to make up for its gas-hungry nature.

We were disappointed with the RAV4. For the price, it's nothing special. The rear seat is kind of cramped, but there's not a great deal of cargo room. The driving performance is nothing special (though we only tried the automatic, and it's possible the 5-speed has more Fahrvergnügen) and the engine has a pronounced buzz under load. It's a nice enough car, but if I wanted a car I'd buy something more fun that cost less and didn't pretend to be an off-road vehicle.

The Geo Tracker was fun. It too was an automatic, and I'd like to try the 5-speed instead. The cab offers a remarkably wide-open view of the road and surroundings with a surprising amount of elbow room for such a small vehicle. The Tracker's Suzuki heritage is stamped all over, from the hood-latch hidden in the glove box to the distinctive sound of the engine under acceleration. The engine makes itself heard when it winds up into the 4000s but the car is generally pretty quiet. It has a nice solid mini-truck chassis with a proper transfer case; there are plenty of off-road modifications available and I'm confident that a built up Tracker could go anywhere my Samurai can. Unfortunately the 2-door we tried is really only a two-person car; the back seat is big enough to fit a small adult but not something I would use for anything but a short trip. There's no cargo room unless you fold the seat up. I suspect we would end up just taking out the seat entirely, as I did with my Samurai. We will probably try out the 4-door version to see how it compares. Unfortunately, the 4-door doesn't come in a convertible, and the Tracker looks like a great wind-in-the-hair road trip machine.

Also on our list are the Subaru Forester, Jeep Wrangler, Suzuki Grand Vitara, Kia Sportage, and Land Rover Freelander.

Thursday, the 12th of September, 2002

Crispy Fish Filets with Broccoli Pasta
2 4-ounce cod filets
1 potato
1 carrot
1 onion
2 tbsp cooking oil
1/4 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
2 cups rotini
1 package frozen broccoli
4 oz cream cheese
2 tbsp milk

  1. Cook the pasta
    Boil water. Add pasta. Dice the onion. When the pasta is about cooked, add the broccoli and cook for a minute or two. Add the onion and cook for another minute or two. Drain the pasta and keep it warm.

  2. Make the sauce
    Mix the cream cheese and milk in a bowl. It helps to warm the cream cheese first (perhaps by setting it next to the burner where the pasta is boiling for a few minutes). Add the mixture to the pasta and mix.

  3. Start the vegetable cakes
    Pour the oil into a frying pan and put it on a burner at medium heat. Shred the potato and carrot. Use a coarse grater if you have one; if not a regular grater or a food processor should work. By now the oil should be hot. Split the pile of grated vegetables in half and put each half into the frying pan. Flatten each blob out a bit so it forms a cake a bit bigger than the filets. Sprinkle on the lemon-pepper seasoning and cover.

  4. Cook the fish
    After five or six minutes, the vegetable cakes should have turned golden brown. Lay one filet on top of each cake and cook for a couple more minutes, uncovered. Flip the whole thing over so the fish is on the bottom and cook for another six or seven minutes. Poke the fish with a fork if you're not sure whether it's done; it should come apart easily.

  5. Serve it
    Slide one fish cake onto each plate, vegetable side up. Mound up the pasta next to it. Serves two.

Wednesday, the 11th of September, 2002

Monday, the 9th of September, 2002

Saturday, the 7th of September, 2002

Rockfish with Sauteed Cucumber and Mushrooms
2 half-pound rockfish filets
2 tbsp parsley
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp ground green pepper
0.5 cup white wine
1 cucumber
6 fresh shiitake mushrooms
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 teaspoons mirin
3 tablespoons soy sauce

  1. Cook the fish
    If using an electric oven, preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lay the filets in a baking dish. Shave the butter into thin slices and lay the pieces on top of the fish. Sprinkle parsley and pepper over the fish. Pour the wine in the bottom of the dish. Place the dish in the oven and cook for fifteen or twenty minutes.

  2. Toast the sesame seeds
    Put a dry frying pan on the burner at medium heat. When it is hot, pour in the sesame seeds and spread them out. Toast them until they start to turn medium brown, shaking the pan frequently to toast them evenly.

  3. Stir-fry the vegetables
    Cut off the ends of the cucumber and wash it. Cut it in half lengthwise, then chop into bite-sized pieces. Remove the mushroom stalks and cut into three or four pieces each. Heat the oil in a frying pan; when it is hot, add the cucumber and mushroom pieces. Stir-fry for three or four minutes. Add the mirin and soy sauce, then stir fry for another couple of minutes. The cucumber should be cooked and slightly amber-coloured but still crunchy.

  4. Serve it
    Drain any extra liquid in the frying pan and sprinkle the sesame seeds over the vegetables. Mix it up a bit then scoop the vegetables onto two plates next to the fish. Serves two.


Kelly and I are going to a masquerade at the Mercury tonight. The mask is that of a Kaonashi, "no face" in Japanese, a sort of ghost-monster. There's a kaonashi in Miyazaki's new "Sento Chihiro" (Spirited Away):

My version is a little flashier, since I'll be wearing a gold-and-black kimono with the basic black gloves and hood, but it is a masquerade ball after all!


I've been saying it for years: pennies have negative value. They pile up and get in the way unless you work to get rid of them. This idea was confirmed earlier today: I emptied my change-pocket for a panhandler, and he gave the pennies back.

Friday, the 6th of September, 2002

Thursday, the 5th of September, 2002

Wednesday, the 4th of September, 2002

Tuesday, the 3rd of September, 2002

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Me in Costa Rica, October 2001
(photo: Stacie Mayes)


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Doll Factory show, 26-12-2002

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