Thursday, February 7, 2013
(But not you automated Spambot creators...)
I've moved over to daviskincaid.com where you can find all the old content and comments but also some new blogs I'm writing... Check it out, update your links, and enjoy!
I'm also turning off commenting here, but please feel free to find the post over there at daviskincaid.com and let me know what you're thinking!
Friday, July 15, 2011
The House Rules, as you well know if you’ve read any of the rest of the posts, covers a vast array of topics. I often worry that the focus of the blog is too widely spread over home repair, architecture snobbery, political and religious musings, and recipes for your new favorite cocktails. I’ve been told so much by well meaning friends. To you folks, I apologize. But I love to write about all of the above and can’t be tethered by rules when so much of the rest of my life is mired in “what I’m supposed to do.” I write because it pleasures me (No, not like that.) and hopefully the wide range of topics will find their intended audience.
I’m not sure who that intended audience is, but if you’re reading this, I hope you’ll leave a comment telling us about yourself and why you enjoy it. Unless of course you are already a personal friend or relative, in which case, please make up an identity and tell me how wonderful I am just to boost my ego.
Anyways, housing is obviously about so much more than the bricks and sticks that we turn into a building. It covers so many things, not least among them, food. Here at our house, I love a good meal, and it must always include a protein, a starch, and two vegetables.
I’ve had some discussion with other family members on this and it’s a weird phobia several of us have of too few things on the plate at dinner time. Even if I make a killer stir fry using all of the above, I still have to round it out with two side dishes, minimum, and preferably at least one condiment or sauce. I’m not sure where this comes from, but I assume it has something to do with a father who grew up in an orphanage and was constantly begging for more gruel.
Now we have a decent budget for food between my wife and I, as my rapidly growing paunch can testify. But if we’re ever going to afford to replace the windows, replace the sidewalk, or pay our mortgage on time, we have to resort to cost cutting measures.
To that end, we make croutons.
If done correctly, croutons are more than a salad or soup topper. We eat homemade croutons as snacks on the couch whilst discussing the fate of the revolution or watching One Tree Hill. (I don’t ACTUALLY watch One Tree Hill so much as roll my eyes in derision towards the horrible plotting and dialogue. Which isn’t to say I can’t enjoy a good teen soap opera… Buffy the Vampire Slayer is probably the best show of all time.)
To make truly good, pop ‘em like mood stabilizers, croutons, you need nothing other than butter, oil, salt & pepper, spices if you like, and copious amounts of bread odds & ends. Every time we have a left over knob of stale Italian bread, Naan from a dinner party, old hot dog buns, English muffins, or the heel of the sandwich bread no one wants, it gets tossed into a bag in the freezer. When the bag is close to bursting, I pull it out to make croutons. They last for a long time once prepared, so producing in volume is the key to time effectiveness.
Odds and Ends of Bread, approx 1 – 1 ½ pounds
1 cup of butter (2 sticks), melted*
Salt and Pepper
Diced Herbs, Spices, Garlic, etc. as desired.
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
For this round I’m using up all the extra hot dog and hamburger buns from the last family picnic. This is the ONLY boon to stupid bread vendors selling their buns in packs of 8 while they sell hot dogs in packs of 5 or 10.
Dice up all your bread components to an equal “cooking” size. If this is your first go at croutons, either cook identical bread types together or cut moister breads to a smaller size than your dry and flat breads. I like a 5/8” dice, but you may want something less anal. Use your own judgement.
Melt butter in the microwave or stovetop. *If you’re “health” inclined, you can halve the butter in the recipe and use ¼ cup of olive oil instead of the second stick of butter. For the love all that is good and holy, don’t use any of these tubs of substitute butter products made from some combination of oil, vegetable bits, and whale semen. Despite what “nutrition experts” might tell you, that crap just isn’t natural and I’m confident that in 10 years it will be linked to CP (Cerebral Palsy), SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), and AWD (Acute Whininess Disorder).
In a large bowl, toss bread and melted butter. We at The House Rules like to use our hands for this step which can lead to some third degree burns. It’s a small price to pay for the joy of croutons.
Spread the bread bits on a flat cookie sheet in a single layer. You’ll have to use multiple sheets for a pound and a half of bread.
Salt and Pepper to taste. This is also the opportunity to try some different herbs and spices that you may wish to add for additional specificity of flavor. For this round, I made a chili chive crouton with a ½ tsp of onion powder, 1 tbs of ancho chili powder, and 1 tbs of garlic chives.
Put in the oven and bake, flipping once or twice until no sponginess remains and they are crispy crunchy crack-like goodness. I usually assume about 30 minutes, but time will vary based on the bread makeup.
Pull out of the oven and allow to cool before putting in Ziploc bags for future (or immediate) enjoyment.
*I wrote this post a while ago. The Mrs. would very definitely advise you against trying to make croutons when its 95 degrees out such as now. She can tell you that it makes a lot of heat in the summer. Of course, she knows this because when I wrote this post, it was also 95 degrees out, so much consumption of icy alcoholic beverages was a necessary conjunctive activity. Do as you wish.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
So don’t be alarmed if things are a bit wonky whilst I work out the kinks.
Speaking of other things that are firsts, my friend Kerry wrote me for the first time in a long time. She was in Architecture school with me and has an excellent eye for modern design, interwoven with a passion for vernacular and craft and time-honored traditions of yore. I really respect so much how she’s been able to coalesce these ideas, especially in a way that is innovative when it is somewhat of a trend right now.
Her newest venture is a design studio that she runs out of Colorado called comma workshop.
They handcraft really beautiful quilt designs that feature cursive text in modern graphic ways all over the field of quilting. Now, my mom always loved quilts, especially of the Amish variety, but these definitely aren’t your mother’s quilt.
Personally I always thought quilts were weird and tacky unless they had some sentimental connection. (You know, like they’re made entirely from your Great Grandfather’s used and discarded underwear… Wait, that’s still weird. Really weird. Just threw up a little in my mouth.) But these are pieces of art and distinctly modern ones that marry a warmth of sentiment and words and history while making total sense in a downtown loft.
This just makes me incredibly envious of Kerry’s talent. In fact, I should probably end this post before I start swearing at her online. I wonder if Windows Live has a “search for regrettable comments” feature near the spell check. I should look into that.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
|Photo via Design Sponge|
|Photo via Casasugar|
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Clayhaus Ceramics and like most cool tile, I'm sure it's hella expensive.
The thing with stuff that I should be able to afford but can't is that it brings out my intense stealing temptation. It's like there's a little dude whispering in my ear, "See that cool wooden carved entablature on the porch of that antique store for $230 dollars?"
I respond, "Yeah, sigh. It's really cool."
Little dude whispers conspiratorially, "It could be yours for only $80."
"Huh? How does that work?", I question.
Dude smugly replies, "That's the cost of the counseling session you'll need if you actually go through with stealing it... and let's be frank, you're really only seconds away from doing that whether I'm here or not."
Total depravity, kids. That's why I believe in it. Even though I'm well off enough to save for stupid things I really don't need, I am almost constantly overcome with the urge to steal them instead. My wife knows about this. When we pass a landscaping/garden center with all those delectable shrubs and perrenials just sitting there unguarded at twilight, she usually whispers, "Eyes Front. Pay attention to the Road." Stupid moral code.
Monday, July 11, 2011
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
This mostly comes from my father repeatedly telling me the story of how, at 25 years old, his dentist told him he had horrible teeth and would lose them all by the time he was 30. But he was super-committed and vigilant and would not have that gummy destiny forced upon him by some jerk with a supposed "medical degree". So he brushed 7 times a day, flossed by the hour, bought every new waterpik technology as soon as it emerged on the market, and used mouthwash like other people use gin. I swear he kept a flask in his back pocket and the aroma of minty freshness clung to him like cheap cologne on a Jersey Shore dude.
So, being a contrary soul, even to the point of stupidity, I refuse to do more than brush my teeth two or three times a day. I never go to the dentist if I can help it.
But there was a brief period about 5 years ago where I decided to reform my ways and get my teeth checked out. Being low on cash, especially with impending nuptials approaching, I began attending the University of Pennsylvania Dental Clinic. It is run for the education of the dental students and the care is... reflective of that.
Anyways, I could go through the litany of dental students who reviewed my teeth with pimply faced excitement, recommending more complex procedures to carve, cut and clean each time, but that would take years of explanation.
My final procedure there took place when I received the recommendation of a graduating senior to have a gum retraction. I won't gross you out with the grizzly details, but it involved showing up for a surgery where they would cut the roof of my mouth open while I was awake and graft some pig bone to my jawline. No joke.
I replied that there was no way I could afford it, even at the clinic's reduced rates, as I was getting married in a few months and was saving for the honeymoon. Neema, my "dentist" thought for a moment and then replied, "Ok, well, I'll give it to you as a wedding present. You just have to let me photograph the procedure for my thesis project." We had tried putting something similar on our wedding registry at Bed Bath and Your Mom but were stymied by the comparative shipping costs, so I took him up on his offer.
Sufficed to say, it was an experience. In a particularly shady abandoned cubicle farm in a basement of an unfindable academic building, Neema and his two assistants prepped me for surgery. So, to do the math, that's six hands working on my mouth. But was it enough? No, Neema stops at one point and says, "Dave, I can't really get a good photo with one hand. Would you mind holding your own gum retractors?" I obliged, only to begin cracking up at the ridonkulousness of my situation, chortling with laughter, high as a kite on pain killers.
This may be part of the reason why my stitches started coming out later that night. Still doped up beyond sanity, the tickling in the back of my throat drove me to madness. I proceeded to find some scissors and a butter knife to cut the offending strands out myself. Fortunately, my long suffering fiancee (now the Mrs) and her two roommates thought this unwise. None of them particularly medically inclined nor happy about icky stuff, they jumped me. While my wife pinned me down by sitting on my chest, her sister held the flashlight, and her roommate reached in and cut my stitches for me. I could only assume that she has had some similar experiences growing up in Uganda and handled herself with aplomb.
All this is to say, if you can avoid such an experience through proper dental maintenance and if you're less rigidly contrary than I, it is well worth your effort. That's why this cool set of a year's worth of toothbrushes from Anthropologie, while silly, still grabbed my eye and deserved a blog post:
They're marked with the three month time limit for which you're supposed to use them prior to discarding. If like me, you're inclined to keep a toothbrush until it is no longer useful for anything but grout cleaning, this could be beneficial.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
|Not Proportional to the House|
|Not Structurally Proportional|
|Never Double Height Columns|