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Dragon Boats, Cream Puffs, and Keeping Mum [Jul. 29th, 2007|11:48 pm]
Didn't do a lot on Saturday. There was a barbecue for work that I went to briefly, and then it was off to Jeff's for D&D, which went long (hooray for retreating from battles on unfavorable terrain) so I went to bed late and then had to get up early (for a weekend) on Sunday because:

We went down to watch the Dragon Boat races on Sloan's Lake. We met Neal (and Zanon) there and did some boat-watching, but mostly wandered the booths. Greg & Jerry got hats. Jerry's is the classic conical style, with some neat patterning in the weave, while Greg's is the swoopy pagoda-top style. I did not get a hat, but I got a mango slushie with boba for a dollar because someone ordered one and then didn't pick it up. Yum!

Lunch was fortuitous and adventuresome, because the spot we picked was right next to a guy who was just setting up for his show. His act was sort of a hodge-podge, but the centerpiece of it was making these amazing little sculptures from candy. Amezaiku, I guess it's called.

Wait -- I just found his webpage! Masaji Terasawa, "the candyman". Thanks, Intarwebs!

Anyway, I gather that it's a traditional kind of performance: candy sculpting plus magic tricks. He also did things with origami, and balancing spinning tops on fans and on sword-tips, and stuff like that. It was really neat. I think one of the interesting things was that he kept moving, continuously, the whole time. If he were just standing still, there were a number of bits that might not have kept the audience's attention, but he just kept going, so it was sort of like "what's going to happen next?"

We also saw a traditional Mongolian gher (aka a yurt). I was persuaded to try a traditional drink: fermented mare's milk. It was... it was okay. The best I can describe it is that it tasted like liquid cheese, sorta like brie, but a little more sour. I wanted water afterwards (it was a hot day, and it was not thirst-quenching), but I would probably taste it again if I was in the right frame of mind.

We came home a little after noon, not before Greg nearly burst into flames from the heat, but he recovered pretty quickly. After a short nap, I ran off to the store and then threw together some sausage, peppers, & onions and blueberry cream puffs for potluck.

I feel like I shouldn't be giving away my secrets, because everybody always raves about cream puffs and profiteroles, but I swear, they are just about the easiest thing to bake in the world. So, so simple.

Here, watch: you throw a cup of water, a stick of butter, half-teaspoon salt and tablespoon of sugar into a pan and bring it to a boil, and then you take it off the heat and dump a cup of flour into it all at once and stir like crazy. When it all comes together into a big ball, you pour it out into a bowl, let it sit for about two minutes to cool off, and then add four eggs, one at a time, using a mixer to get them all mixed in. It makes this thick, glossy, incredibly sticky batter. Put it in blobs on parchment paper on a cookie sheet, bake for 30-40 minutes at 400, and that's all there is to it. You let 'em cool off for about 20 minutes, and then you can cut them (with a serrated knife), pull out extra dough from the middle, and fill them with whipped cream. (Blueberry whipped cream: puree most of a pint of blueberries in the food processor, adding a couple tablespoons of powdered sugar. Whip about 2/3 pint of whipped cream in a bowl with your mixer until it forms stiff peaks, then add the blueberry puree and more powdered sugar to taste.) Spoon it into the cream puffs, sprinkle powdered sugar on top, and bask in the adulation.

Anyway, the food was in service to . We got John & Elizabeth down from Loveland, which was cool, as they had not been to our house before. Greg's theme is Maggie Smith movies, so we watched Keeping Mum, which is a quaint little British black comedy from a couple years ago that I quite enjoyed. Maggie Smith is just an amazingly expressive actress. You can read exactly what she's thinking on her face. It also has Rowan Atkinson being funny in a surprisingly low-key way. We also learned that Patrick Swayze can play sleazy really well. Eek.

I thought the movie maintained a this delicate balance between funny, sweet, and creepy/horrifying. The best summary I can give of it is: "what if Mary Poppins was a total psychopath?" I liked it a lot, and I recommend it.

And that was my weekend.

[User Picture]From: eto_theipi
2007-07-31 05:48 am (UTC)
What if? http://www.neilgaiman.com/journal/2006/12/sell-your-certainty-and-buy.html


"The literary Mary Poppins is by no means an untroubling character. Indeed, at the end of the first chapter of the first book—in which she arrives as a shape hurled against the front door in the midst of a gale, assumes the form of a woman, bullies Mrs. Banks into hiring her, snaps at the children, and doses them with a mysterious potion after she gets them alone in the nursery—she earns only a qualified endorsement: “And although they sometimes found themselves wishing for the quieter, more ordinary days when Katie Nanna ruled the household, everybody, on the whole, was glad of Mary Poppins’s arrival.” She is, in fact, very often “angry,” “threatening,” “scornful,” and “frightening.” She calls the children cannibals, jostles them down the stairs, and makes them eat so quickly that they fear they will choke. She has a habit of saving the children from horrifying supernatural experiences, it’s true, but this would seem more of a boon if she herself hadn’t brought them on in revenge for naughtiness. Often, she seems like someone who doesn’t like children much."
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From: orbitalmechanic
2007-07-31 12:50 pm (UTC)
You saw the Scary Mary trailer, right? It's so...un-modified, I love it.
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[User Picture]From: tdjohnsn
2007-07-31 04:17 pm (UTC)
Like this?

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From: toosuto
2007-07-31 08:21 am (UTC)
Mary Poppins wasn't a complete psychopath: what with the induced group hallucinations and prancing about on rooftops without a thought to her own or anyone else's safety?
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[User Picture]From: tdjohnsn
2007-07-31 04:17 pm (UTC)
I'm glad Greg didn't burst into flame. That always leaves a mark.
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[User Picture]From: zalena
2007-07-31 05:16 pm (UTC)
I've never heard of candy sculpture before. It looks awesome!

(you did hear my comment about my dragon boat confusion, how I pictured Viking drakkars in the lake.)
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[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2007-07-31 05:19 pm (UTC)
I did!

I'm psyched to come make cream puffs or profiteroles at your house sometime. I figure we can take pictures and make an instructable.
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[User Picture]From: zalena
2007-07-31 06:26 pm (UTC)
That would be awesome! You will, of course, have to provide the camera.

I also want to learn how to make saintpookie's gyoza.

I'd be happy to demonstrate omelette.
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[User Picture]From: flwyd
2007-08-01 04:37 pm (UTC)
I noticed a striking similarity between the dragon boats on the lake and those at Vikingshipmuseet. Similar ornamentation, guy in the back for the steer-board, drummer to keep everyone together, and a similarly slim design.
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[User Picture]From: melted_snowball
2007-07-31 06:02 pm (UTC)
Maybe we'll make profiteroles when you're here. (Here's an old post from da_lj about some profiteroles I made a while back, with a pretty good photo.)
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[User Picture]From: lovecarnievan
2007-07-31 11:01 pm (UTC)
I have this great recipe where this Tectonic Doctor I know _makes_ me cream puffs. It's a great (and easy) recipe. I'll have to dig it up and post it.
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[User Picture]From: flwyd
2007-08-01 04:10 pm (UTC)
Without binoculars, dragon boat races weren't that exciting to watch, even the final rounds won by a meter or two. Yet another sport where participation is far more enjoyable then spectation.
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