Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Sort of a Banh Mi - Recipe Review

I like banh mi.  So when I saw a recipe where I could make one at home without worrying about finding or, good heavens, making the pate I was very happy.  So I gathered my ingredients to make Shortcut Banh Mi With Pickled Carrots and Daikon form NY Times Cooking.

Most of the ingredients were easy to find.  In fact I had a couple in my house already.  But the daikon was a bit tricky.  I had to try several grocery stores until I found it.  And actually, the second time I made this recipe I couldn't find it at all.  I thought about using a different kind of radish or a parsnip or something but ending up just using more carrots and cucumbers instead.  And it was still delicious.

The recipe is also easy to make.  The hardest part is all the chopping.  But after you have chopped everything it is basically just adding everything to your skillet in the right order.  You do have to pickle the vegetables before you start cooking because they have to sit in the vinegar for a half hour at least so you want that going while you cook.  It is a very light pickle.  More like vegetables in a vinegar dressing but you still get the nice bite of a pickle without much time.

There is a little heat to it.  You put sriracha in the pork filling while you are cooking it.  Of course, if you don't like things spicy you can put less in.  I would suggest you don't leave it out completely though.  It does add a nice flavor.  You can always cut down on the heat by putting just a few slices of jalapeno on at the end.

Is it a banh mi? Not really.  But it says right on the recipe that authenticity was not the goal.  The result, however, is a delicious sandwich that gives you the feel of a banh mi.  I have used this recipe several times and will keep it on hand because I know I will want to use it again.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

They Came Together Movie Review

They Came TogetherThey Came Together - starring Paul Rudd and Amy Poehler

A spoof of Rom-Coms everywhere.  A big candy corporation is trying to shut down a small candy store.  The corporation man meets the owner of the little candy store and all sort of cliches ensue.

I would say give this one a pass.  I understand that it is a spoof. I wasn't expecting heartwarming stuff here.  But it just wasn't funny.  The whole movie is all of the cliche characters and hokey plot devices used in romantic comedies being exaggerated in traditional spoof fashion.  But instead of it being hilarious it became tedious.  It felt like I was watching it for a lot longer than the 83 minutes run time.  They tell the same jokes over and over and the writing fails to be clever - at all - and relies on over the top nonsense for laughs.  I didn't laugh.  I am not a huge fan of romantic comedies, neither do I hate them.  So I have seen enough rom-coms to get the references but feel no need to defend the genre against attack.  I thought I would be a good audience for this movie.  But this one just fell flat.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

The Voynich Manuscript Review

The Voynich Manuscript by Gerry Kennedy and Rob Churchill

In 1912 Wilfrid Voynich found a manuscript in an Italian monastery.  It was in an unknown language, and had drawings of unknown plants.  No one knew who had written it or what it could mean.  Ever since people from all walks of life have tried to figure out the mystery that is The Voynich Manuscript.

I don't know what I thought this book would be.  I had come across a reference to the manuscript (I can't remember where) and was curious. I knew nothing about it when I read this book.  You don't have to.  All you need is a love of the mysterious.  It is an interesting subject and an interesting book.  It follows the manuscript from the day it was found through all the various people who have owned it, or studied it.  It gives you all the theories about who wrote it and where it came from.  It gives you all the different ways people have tried to decode or translate the text.   And on this journey it ends up covering a lot of ground.  It talks about cryptography and the ways codes are made and broken.  It gives you a brief history of Roger Bacon and John Dee and others.  It talked about the Cathars and the Shakers.  It went into the effects migraines can have on people.  And mentions a lot of other people and topics that have been brought into the Voynich conversation over the years.  I liked exploring the wide variety of subjects that all formed pieces in the puzzle.   There is a lot of information here but it is not overwhelming and it never bogs down in tedium.  It is all presented in a way that is easy to follow and enjoyable to read.  It does intrigue the reader.  You end up wanting to know what it is all about.  You can understand why people have spent years of their lives working on this.  Spoiler Alert:  There is no translation at the end of this book.  There are no definitive answers.  But I enjoyed exploring the mystery.