The Strange & Awesome (24-29 Feb)

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The “Dr. Seuss building” at MIT, aka the Stata Center.

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Harvard’s collection of historical scientific instruments. Top left: an armillary ring sundial circa 1780. Top right: the grand orrery at the entrance to the museum. Bottom left: a Kooch horizontal sundial.  Bottom right: a Marshall-type compound microscope circa 1693.

Thursday, Feb 25
In this day and age, many of us easily take technological advancements for granted, especially the small things that just barely tweaks a tiny portion of an instrument. However, every minor change can culminate in a grand result. I was reminded of this today when I was introduced to Harvard’s Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments. Who knew such museums existed?! I certainly didn’t — until now.

There were so many wondrous objects and oddities, instruments and tools from what seems like eons ago. There were microscopes and clocks, processors and hand-held measuring devices. It was absolutely astonishing how scientific discoveries were made in the past without all the fancy lasers and nanoparticles we have nowadays.

Seriously awesome.

Saturday, Feb 27

I don’t think about it much until the seasons starts, but guess what?! It’s Girl Scouts’ cookie season! In California, I’m used to seeing Girl Scouts set up tables in front of grocery stores and people asking friends and colleagues if anyone would like to put in orders for some delectable cookies because they know a Girl Scout who’s fundraising. I never thought about it much, but being in Boston, advertisements are done through a much more overt method: billboard ads and posters on the public transport lines directing you to a website to check out where your nearest Girl Scout cookies table might be. It’s almost as if it were a full-on business — except those of us who are more aware of the program know it somewhat is; it’s a promotion for supporting a program where little girls can learn skills to enrich their lives. Anyhow, I’ve been seeing the signs here and there as I ride the trains and buses, but what happened today was totally unexpected:

I was riding a bus up to the Cambridge area, figuring it would be an everyday ride up, nothing special. Unsuspectingly, the driver stops at a red light, opens the door quickly at the light — even though the light was not a bus stop — and tells the girls running a Girl Scouts cookies table right at the stop light to give her 4 boxes of cookies, any cookies. It was quite amusing and brought a smile to my face. Oddly enough, another passenger had the complete opposite reaction. I could hear the lady muttering under her breath rather unapprovingly. In my opinion, it was rather strange for her to be doing so, as it didn’t affect our commute at all. The red light was long — and the bus driver took a hold of the opportunity — we didn’t stop at the light for any longer than we had to.

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My lovely bowls of pho. A shrimp with bok choi pho (left) and a simple/traditional beef pho (right).

Girl Scout cookies aside, it’s still winter. I’m not in the mood for non-homemade, not fresh-out-of the-oven cookies quite yet. I’m still in the mood for some delicious soup and warm noms. Since my roommate was out of town, I decided to make just that. I’ve been wanting to make homemade pho noodle soup since I was taught how during my winter vacation trip back to Southern California. The problem with it is that pho has a tendency to fill the whole house with the smell of Asian spices — whether or not it smells good depends on each person’s opinion. After my last cooking adventures in “overnight simmering” of an Asian dish, my roommate revealed to me that he doesn’t particularly like strong smells. So, I took advantage of the fact that he was out of town to host a pho party!

I would say that the party went particularly well. The soup was set overnight, simmering in some delicious combination of herbs I had been instructed to buy from my beau’s Vietnamese mother. Even though I didn’t get to “grill” the ginger and onion as the recipe called for — because I currently own an electric stove, not a gas one — and I didn’t use real chicken and beef, but bullion cubes instead, the pho still came out okay. I wouldn’t say it was amazing, but my friends sure enjoyed it and it was definitely a fun experience for them. I would rate this as a “would do again” event — though next time, I might try actually grilling the onion and ginger and/or maybe using a whole chicken.

“Today”I Learned

  • Broilers use direct heat (that can reach up to 550F) to cook while ovens use convection, or “surrounding,” heat. Thus, broiling sears the exterior of the food item, as opposed to baking which slowly cooks the food item from the outside in.

Additional Photos

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A mouth-watering crawfish éttoufée at Border Café. SO GOOD!!!! ❤

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There’s this awesome fooding — yes, I said fooding — place called Swissbäkers. I love that it’s not “store hours,” but “Guest Hugging Hours.” Tehe. ❤

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Guess what?! I decided to try making poached eggs. What do you think of my first set of eggs benedict?!

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