Saturday, May 26, 2007

Celebrating Boxes

Since it looks like I have celebrated myself out of yet another night of sleep, I may as well fess up. I have been doing some heavy celebrating (read: drinking). I have waited for this for six long years and now I get to celebrate. The reason for my newly acquired perma-hangover? Box checking. Yep. I got my box checked.

Snicker away, I’ll wait…. Done? Ok.

At my school, to getting one’s box checked means, among other things, receiving an actual check in an actual little box on a form that says that the student may begin writing his or her dissertation. This means that... drumroll please! I am going to graduate as early as this fall, depending on when I manage to stop drinking, finish whatever experiments I have left, and begin writing. So that’s my news! In another month I will likely begin writing full time, leaving way more opportunity for eating, cooking, and writing about eating and cooking, which I am absolutely thrilled about. That, and getting a PhD ain’t so bad either. (as a future PhD I feel it acceptable to use ain’t… hope they can’t strip my title from me).

The most recent form of celebration was kindly thrown my Melissa, who grilled on her porch (hot commodity, that, in Boston – not only a porch, but one with a grill on it. Grills are illegal most everywhere). Melissa made the most unbelievable southwest marinated chicken breast – after marinating for an entire day, it was just about the most tender and moist chicken breast imaginablet. There was also plain old grilled chicken breast, doused in a barbeque sauce I have been meaning to try for over a year. It may be the best barbeque sauce I have had to date – it was thin, vinegary, spicy, and not at all sweet. I need to find other uses for the gallon of it I now have sitting in my fridge. Suggestions? I have no grill, illegal or otherwise.

Melissa also made grilled asparagus dressed with an herby vinaigrette and the most genius baked potato I have ever had. This put all other baked potatoes to shame (I hope they are hanging their heads low as I type this). The potato was sliced and layered with onions, pepper, salt, and butter, wrapped in foil and plopped on the grill. The potato steamed till it was done but the best part… oh the best part was on the bottom, where the potato got a really crisp and chewy crust. I may be ruined for all other baked potatoes forever.

Thank you, Melissa!

I should also mention that this celebration involved copious amounts of wine. I don’t feel so good. Again. I have given myself the rest of the weekend to bop around, but then it’s back to lab… for a little while longer.

P.S. I expound on the box checking experience in greater detail here, if anyone is interested.


Ben Chen said...

Sounds sexae to get your box checked! Who was your OBGYN? Jk! CONGRATS!!!

JC said...

Man, I would have checked your box a long time ago had I known you needed that.


Congrats on the box checking, it must feel really great to finally be close to the end of this journey!

aimee said...

Huzzah, many congratulations to you! Six years - wow that’s a long time to wait. When nobody was looking, did you ever secretly check your own box and have private celebrations, fantasising about this day? Just wondering. Speaking of checking boxes, I recently had a phone call from a girl who used to live in my flat (who I’ve met just the once), asking me to open her mail for her. Besides feeling like a complete deviant, I had to tell her that she was requested to go to the doctors to get her box checked. Oh the shame.

One of the many things that really upsets me about living in Britain is the lack of a barbecue culture. They happen occasionally - usually on a disposable tray in the park (illegal) - and will consist of little more than a hotdog. Nobody even uses relish, or pickles, or chillies. And it's inevitable that it will rain. Sigh. As for that barbecue sauce, I suggest splashing it liberally into baked beans for a bit of a twist on the classic British supper; beans on toast. And pizza! Make barbecue chicken pizza (if you like that kind of thing, personally, I’m not sure about it). I love making pizzas; dough making is so therapeutic, gets out all the stresses and strains of not having your box checked in 5 months. So I’ve heard.

Incidentally, JC - I've never ever heard of a peanut being called a groundnut. Ooh, except for maybe groundnut oil. Is that peanut oil? I never really thought about it and just assumed it was the oil resulting from nuts that had been...erm...ground. Hmm. Anyway, yes, peanuts are peanuts. Your book is a liar.

JC said...

OK, this time I actually looked at the book first instead of just trying to remember what it said! It concurs with what you say, Aimee, about peanut oil being called groundnut oil. I guess I assumed that "groundnut" in this case meant "peanut" since peanuts grow in the ground. So I guess that was a faulty assumption on my part to make the jump that just plain peanuts are called groundnuts. Now I'm so confused. I better go drink a beer.

aimee said...

It was a fair assumption, let's face it - what kind of idiot decides to call them groundnuts only for the purpose of the oil? Why not just peanut oil? Which is precisely why I never knew it was peanut oil until I read your comment yesterday. We're all learning from each other, isn't this nice!

Anna said...

Sorry for the slow response! I have been a) out doing... things, and b) thought I would let you talk amongst yourselves. I think it worked :)

Thank you, Ben! It's still funny. I have been in grad school for nigh on six years now and box checking is still funny.

JC - It literally feels as if a mountain has fallen off my shoulders. It's unbelievable. I think I even look different.

Aimee - Box is sacred. Do not joke about the box. Six years, people!
I so love barbeque. It really is a uniquely American thing, at least in the form which I wrote about. It's so much fun to stand around the grill with a cold beer, putting out errant flames with a splash... if you're willing to share the beer, of course. It's a great excuse to be outside wearing picnic-y clothes. I am scared of making pizza dough. I have never done it. I hear "knead" and assume I will fail. You routinely do this? I am much impressed.

Is there a special brand of beans I should look for? By the way, last time I was in London (I think it was) Burger King had a special English breakfast - fried bean stick and a dipping sauce. I was intrigued and nauseated all at the same time. I love beans and tomatoes for breakfast. Should try for dinner/supper.

I have totally lost the trail of the goundnut conversation. Please continue amoungst yourselves, as previously.

aimee said...

Well, to say I routinely make pizzas would be a bit of an exaggeration, but I do love to do it. Make pizzas I mean. Don't think about the kneading thing, I really don't think you can go far wrong with it. Nobody ever taught me how to knead, so I just give my dough a really firm massage. Seems to work fine. Give it a go. Maybe wait until you're stressed out; it's more fun that way.

In my opinion, the Heinz baked beans that we have in the UK are the only one's worth bothering with. I had them in Canada and they just weren't comparable. I'm trusting your beans will be more similar to the Canadian ones, in which case, don't bother. Or really slap in your barbeque sauce to make them better. Or HP sauce I love HP sauce. And have them on a giant slice of toast with cheese. And a huge mug of tea. Did you try the fried bean stick thing? It sounds hideous, I've no clue what you're talking about.

JC said...

In Texas Kroger grocery stores carry the "Heinz Baked Beanz" on their International aisle. I don't know if they have Krogers in Boston, but it seems like if I can get "Baked Beanz" then you should be able to as well. I see them when I swoop in for a Cadbury Crunchie every once in a while! I'm also a big fan of the Hob Nobs.

Anna said...

You know, I am a pretty adventurous eater when it comes to pretty much everything... except fast food. I am a fast food wuss. I did not try the baked "bean" thingie. Eww.
Wait till I am stressed out? You're funny. I have been stressed out for about a decade.

JC - How funny! I just had a friend bring me a giant Crunchy bar from London. It's soooo good. I love it. I am a big fruit and nut bar fan as well. I miss the McVities digestives. I can find them here every once in a while. There are no Kroger in New England. I think they are a southern chain. I will have to look for the beans here, although I doubt they will be as good.

JC said...

I really want to name drop the other thing that I see on that aisle that cracks me up every time, but it's only funny if it's uncensored and I'm still at work. I'll post a comment after I get home.

I could mail some stuff to you if you're interested. Maybe we could do a Trader Joe's/Kroger exchange.

JC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JC said...

OK, they also proudly sell Spotted Dick. Titter, titter.