Cooking and Spices

I have been cooking for a few years now, and I have a small repertoire of things that I can cook decently. Most of them are simple, such as pasta, chicken fried rice, or grilled fish, but I do try to experiment and branch out, too. I am a really big fan of spices, and so I am always trying to discover new spices and new combinations for old ones, too. One of my favorite things to do is to try a very plain fish, baked with different spice combinations. This allows me to test out new ideas, and was how I discovered that curry and chipolte chili powder go together well (try it if you don’t believe me).

On a different note, every since I haved moved into this apartment, I have been watching the Food Network a lot. I don’t watch the “how to cook” shows very much, I prefer the cooking competitions or events (Throwdown with Bobby Flay, Dinner Impossible, Iron Chef America, etc.) more. I think I enjoy it because it shows the amazing talents of the cooks. Take Tony Hawk for example. Sure, it’s fun for him to do a show on how to skateboard, how to do basic things, and such, but it’s much more fun to watch him do the amazing stuff that most people could never even hope to do. That’s how I feel about the cooking shows. It’s fun to watch the learning how to cook shows sometimes, but I would rather watch them do amazing things that I could never cook. (I think this may be part of the reason that the expressions lessons and advanced lessons are more popular than the regular and intermediate lessons, as another example)

The reason I mention these two things together is the following. Quite often on the cooking shows I watch, they use a spice called cumin. I am not familiar with it, and I see different chefs use it all the time, for a variety of things. So, last night, while I was at the store, I decided to buy some cumin, so I could attempt to cook something with it. When I got home, I opened it, and smelled it. The smell was incredibly strong, and definitely nothing like I have ever used. And because of that, I have no idea what to use it with. Based purely on the smell, I think it might go well with curry or maybe paprika, but I really have no idea. So…any suggestions? I know some of you have to be cooks!

Back to football!!

I am so glad that football season has started again. Just to be very clear from the beginning: I am a huge Seahawks fan, have been for several years now. In college, I am an Alabama fan, so Roll Tide! I am a graduate of Ball State university, and so I do pay some attention to their football team as well, but not as much as Alabama. And those are the teams I root for.

Now down to business. First off, I am absolutely blown away by the success of Ball State this year. 4-0 so far, and even beating Indiana! That is just insane, we really sucked when I was there at school. But Nate Davis and Dante Love have really stepped up and played amazingly this season. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to actually watch them play on TV, but I have seen some highlights. Now, as for Alabama, wow. We have been doing better this season than we have in a while. Granted, Wilson still can’t really throw the ball all that well, but especially in the last game, against Arkansas, we have been doing great. And as an Alabama fan, and thus being against Auburn, I was very happy when LSU beat them yesterday, and it was a great game, too.

As for the Seahawks…well…we have not been doing so well. But we’ll see in today’s game, maybe we can get a win in, we really need it. Being without Shaun Alexander, and being Holmgren’s last year, things are definitely different, but I think we still have potential, especially in the passing game. Here’s to no more dropped balls!

finding an apartment

As I said in Advanced Lesson 010, I have found an apartment. Today is Wednesday the 16th, and I will be moving into my new place on the 23rd. I’ll post a couple pictures when I get moved in. But I am excited to live in my own place again! In France, I had 3 roommates, one other American, a guy from Morocco, and a guy from Gabon. We had a lot of fun. But sometimes it seemed like a really small apartment with 4 people in it! I was wondering, though, in France, do people typically live by themselves, or with roommates? Does it change by age, or any other factors?

Here in America, it seems to me that people often have roommates when they first move out of their parents’ house. Some people go to school, and have a roommate there, and some people get a job and a place to live, and they have a roommate there. And sometimes people do have more than one roommate. About the age of 22-25, though, people start to live by themselves more often. The ones who went to school graduate, and often times when they move wherever they are going to work, they get a place by themselves. The ones who have been working jobs already usually have some money saved up, and so they decide at some point to move to a different apartment, or a different city, or they just get a better job, and then they start to live on their own. That is what I have seen in my own experience at least. People often have roommates until the lower to mid 20s, and then they tend to live by themselves more often. Of course, there are exceptions (one of my favorite shows, Friends, shows plenty of them :P ), but that seems to be the general trend here. What is it like in France?

But in my case, I will be living by myself, without a roommate. I am very much looking forward to having a whole apartment to myself!

apple pear juice

I miss my apple-pear juice :( I have looked in about 6 stores now, and all I can find is regular apple juice. I like apple juice, it’s good, but…it just gets kinda boring, especially after the apple-pear juice. I wonder how expensive it would be to import it…

It’s kinda funny — I am getting used to speaking English again, and I have not had any problems adressing people in the wrong language since the 2nd day after I got back. However, there are a couple things that have been programmed into my brain that I can’t get out yet. It’s those little things that are more instinct than communication, words like “merci” and “pardon,” especially the second. Now, luckily, it is possible to say “pardon me” in English, and even though it is pronounced differently, people seem to accept me just saying “pardon” instead of the typical “excuse me.” When I say “merci” instead of “thanks” though, like I did at the grocery store earlier, I always get strange looks. It amuses me. Parler fran├žais me manque :( It is no longer exciting to do every day things, and in a funny twist, it kinda feels like I’m “cheating” by speaking English, like I’m taking the easy way out or something.

I’m glad I finally got an episode up. I should be able to get back into my pattern of once a week for a while now, thanks to everyone who stayed subscribed!

flight day

In a few hours, I will be leaving on a train from Tours to Paris, to Charles de Gaulle to be more precise, to fly back to the States. I am really going to miss France, I have enjoyed all my time here and all the things that I’ve learned. Right now I am really looking forward to having some of the things that I have really missed, like Popeye’s, but I am already missing things like Apple-Pear juice, which as far as I know, is nonexistent in America.

To all of you who are planning on making or currently enjoying a trip to America, England, or any other country to practice your language skills, make the most of your time! There’s always too much to see it all, but enjoy it while you can.

Until soon, from a different time zone!

losing my voice :(

You know what is one of the most difficult things to deal with when you do a podcast? Losing your voice. Several of the podcasts I listen to have more than one host, and if one person cannot talk, they simply skip an episode or two and the other person/people on the show keep doing it. I, on the other hand, do this podcast alone, and so when I lose my voice, it sucks! I have actually been done with my classes for about a week, but I have been sick for about three, and for the last two of those three weeks, have been almost completely unable to talk. Thankfully, all my tests were written!

I definitely have lots of plans, like I “said” in the podcast (if you count what I was doing as actual talking and not just making noise). One of the major plans is to really improve this blog. I have tried several different subjects, with various success, and I have some ideas for what I can actually talk about now — you’ll just have to come back and read them to find out, though ;)

And by the way, eBay is addicting. I hadn’t bought anything from them since 2004, and for some reason, mid April, I decided to try buying something from eBay France ( http://www.ebay.fr/ ) . This was a mistake, as I have now purchased seven things from them :p The last thing I bought should be arriving tomorrow, just in time to put it in my suitcase (I mostly ordered books and DVDs) for the trip home.

Here’s to a good return flight! I’ll be talking to everyone on the podcast as soon as my voice is back to normal again.

when advertising works

I consider myself an expert at ignoring advertising. I have never once clicked a link in an email ad, I don’t sign up for anything unless I’m 100% sure it’s legit and will get me no spam, be it a newsletter, website account, whatever (I still refuse to get a YouTube account), and most forms of advertising simply have no effect on me, because of the effect many studies have found — repeated, irrelevant advertising in the same location is very easy to tune out as noise for pretty much everybody. (Note: I do have one friend, who shall remain nameless, and when she sees a commercial on TV for almost anything, she wants to try it.) When I watch TV, I often mute it during commercials, depending on what channel I’m watching, and ads like those little videos that play before the video you actually want on some website, I always open up some other browser window or something else to do while the video is playing, I refuse to even give them my attention.

However, I realized the other day that some advertising does work on me. I thought about the situation as it was happening (I was quite aware that the advertising was working, but this did not lower its effectiveness level), and I came to the conclusion that I imagine the same thing happens for a lot of people, and it is that very situation which causes things like mailers to be effective. (Of note: I do NOT believe the same tactic works for spam email — I have encountered this exact same situation with spam email and it had zero effect. I believe that as internet users we are trained that all spam is evil and probably a scam to steal our identity/money/very souls).

So what happened, you ask? Well, a brief backstory: I love movies, and have been a member of Blockbuster’s online movie rental for a long time now, maybe 2 years or so, I don’t remember exactly. Several months ago, sometime last year, I decided that to be fair, I should compare the Blockbuster online movie rental service to Netflix, its biggest competitor. Now, this is not about my thoughts on which is better, if you’re interested, feel free to ask, but after a couple of months of using Netflix and comparing it, I cancelled the service for financial reasons (and again, if you’re interested in comparing the two, don’t read too much into this, there is a lot of other backstory here I’m not telling), even though I really enjoyed it. Recently, I have been considering restarting my Netflix membership for various reasons, but I had not yet decided to do it. But then the advertising happened. I got, in the mail, a flyer from Netflix, saying that I should renew my membership and reminding me of all the benefits and blah blah blah. It didn’t offer me any special prices. It didn’t offer me any more free stuff (new members get a 2 week free trial). And it didn’t tell me anything about the service that I didn’t already know. I enjoy being well-versed in anything I do, so I do my research on every product I buy and every service I use, to a reasonable extent of course, depending on what they are. But the very same night that I got my Netflix flyer, I went online and renewed my membership. Am I a sucker for advertising? No, of course not. Had I received that flyer at a random time, I would have simply thrown it away and not given it a second thought. But I was currently considering restarting my membership at Netflix. So did the flyer tip me over the edge and make the decision for me? Perhaps, nobody can say for sure what tips them in situations like that. But I know that the flyer had at least some effect, be it small or large.

So that, in my opinion, is when advertising works the best. There are other situations for different people where it works in other ways, but I think that it works the best when the potential customer is already considering the product or service offered.

And now I’m off to enjoy my unlimited Watch it Now service :)