so, so pretty.

the cafeSometimes since I use it all the time and it just sort of does its job for me, I forget what a gorgeous piece of machinery my espresso machine is. Cleaning it is a pain, because backflushing requires it be hot, and polishing that it be cold. So after I polished it today I thought I'd share a picture of it being pretty, before it looks grungy again.

chicken soup and matzo balls

A commenter formally posted a request, and some friends have informally asked for, occasional recipes if I'm going to post tantilizing menus. Here's my chicken soup, which is better than your jewish grandmother's (maybe great-grandma has me beat, I'll concede. But even Bubbe probably uses that nasty box-mix for matzo balls).

My chicken soup is adapted from David Rosengarten in the Dean & DeLuca Cookbook, which is a fantastic resource that I strongly recommend for its detailed treatment of "classics" and information about various ingredients. The matzo balls are almost exactly Rosengarten's

Goyische Chicken Soup


  • 1 whole chicken — see note below
  • 3 quarts water
  • 1 onion
  • 1 turnip
  • 5 ish carrots
  • 4 stalks celery
  • 3 parsnips
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 5 sprigs fresh dill
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • some salt and lots of pepper


Note on planning ahead: you need to make the matzo ball mix a few hours ahead or the night before. Most crucially, you must skin the entire chicken and render its fat. One chicken produces just slightly more than enough schmaltz for one batch of matzo balls, whose recipe follows

On to the soup. Bring the chicken and water to a boil, skimming the foam of connective tissue from the top, lest your soup be cloudy. While it's on its way to boiling, chop all the vegetables. Leave the herbs whole, and simply peel/smash the garlic. Add everything else to the pot and simmer, partially covered, until the chicken is cooked.

Remove the chicken and let it cool just enough to take it off the bone. Save the meat, and return the bones to the pot for another hour or so.

The soup is done. It can be refrigerated now, if you like, and you can eat it tomorrow, or you can remove the bones and add the chopped meat back in, and have a satisfyingly restorative dinner.

Matzo Balls for soup above

  • 3 Tbsp schmaltz
  • 3 Tbsp club soda
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup (generous) matzo meal

Freshly rendered schmaltz – chicken fat – is absolutely critical. If you're going to substitute vegetable oil, or kosher-market jar schmaltz, please save yourself the hassle of matzo balls entirely and just add pasta to your soup.

How to render chicken fat: take all the fat from your chicken, put it in a saucepan with ½–1 cup water over medium heat. Boil all the water away and you're left with tasty chicken fat. Pour through a strainer. Why my matzo balls bring all the boys to the yard: I also add fresh herbs to this mix. A sprig or two of rosemary, or thyme, imparts a delicate and fleeting perfume to each bite of the final result.

Beat the eggs well with a fork, add the water, salt, pepper, and schmaltz; stir in the matzo meal. Let sit 4–14 hours in the refrigerator.

To make the matzo balls, it helps to at least parboil them in a separate pan, rather than trying to let the soup cook them. It just takes too long. So in a pan of salted boiling water, drop walnut-sized balls of dough until they are cooked. Then transfer and serve in the soup.


I find myself just sputtering out of hatred.

Bush Urges Conservation as Retail Gas Prices Rise - New York Times: "'We can all pitch in by being better conservers,' Mr. Bush said after being briefed on the hurricanes' impact on the energy industry at the Energy Department. 'People just need to recognize that these storms have caused disruptions.' In addition to urging consumers to cut back to ease the pain of the current supply shortages, he said federal employees should use carpool and public transport and not take non-essential trips."

David Pogue (NYT) gushes over the beautiful iPod Nano.


IPod's Law: The Impossible Is Possible - New York Times: "So are the analysts right that the sun will soon set on the iPod Age? The truth is, the iPod has faced stiff competition from some of the industry's best-known companies since the day it was introduced. Yet even after four years, all of Dell's horses and all Sony's men haven't made a dent in the iPod's dominance. And with the introduction of gorgeous, functional and elegant iPod Nano, that's not about to change."

And by "beautiful" in the title here I mean, "hotter than a whole team of shirtless boys playing soccer outside my building." Well, maybe not strictly hotter. But equal.


My annoyance for the semester

Epstein-Barr Virus: "Symptoms of infectious mononucleosis are fever, sore throat, and swollen lymph glands. "

I blame filthy undergrads spitting in water fountains or something. Universities are, after all, cesspools of disease. The incubation period of 4–6 weeks would coincide with when I was back in St Louis and I definitely did not have "intimate contact with the saliva of an infected person" a month ago.

My symptoms are extremely mild. It's really just been an inconvenience: my throat is a bit swollen, hurts to swallow (sometimes) and I've had a fever off and on for a few days. I'm not excessively tired. The net effect of this seems to be to make me a better student this semester, since I can't drink alcohol or go to the gym for a month or so.

Excellent Savage article

Reader cover


When cleverness crosses the line into smugness...

As too often it does for game theorists, we arrive at such contrivances as this gem from Aumann and Hart's (2003) "Long Cheap Talk" (Econometrica 71: 1619–1660) (they weren't kidding about its being bloody long). Not only are row and column players named "Rowena" and "Colin", but we also have
Footnote 5: Rowena's message is thus "two B" or "not two B."


menu for the week

It helps me to post menu plans, or at least write them down, so I don't end up throwing away any of the tasty fresh food I buy at the market.

I went this week to the Central West End Green Market, the one Hilary's friend Julia runs. I was planning on going to Soulard, but didn't want to take the highway because there is some strange one-laneness... Anyway, the CWE one was great! Not huge, but all of the farmers were really friendly, as was Julia herself, and two other sort of in-charge people, Dee and Sue. Dee is, with my consultation, bringing panzanella to some function she said she'd bring salad to tomorrow night.

  • Butternut squash ravioli
  • Falafel and mouhamara
  • Tomato and arugula salad (maybe some stale bread too – panzanella is yummy!)
  • Something tasty with pork chops
  • Lots of fresh or caramelized peaches
  • Ma po tofu (with red pepper, scallions, and minced pork)


expressions lost on foreigners

Guillermo asked me to create an email list for our regression class, because it's easier that way to send stuff like homework to all of us, or lecture notes. I mentioned that I knew artsci ran an instance of listserv and I know pretty well how to make listserv do what it's supposed to.

So I made a list titled, "Regression for dummies (political science grad students)," because it's funny.

Mike, Thanks very much for putting the list together. I do object to the title of the list, but I requested you to be the listmaster and must accept your choice.
Just make sure that nobody takes offense at the title.
Thanks also for the great R cheat sheet, it's very helpful.

There is no way, really, to explain that "for dummies" isn't offensive because of the wildly successful books on everything from sex to mortgages to probably blogging... he just doesn't understand because he's from Mexico. Oh well. I changed it to just "Regression".

funny ad

So the point of this ad from the top of a sourceforge page is like "we make online meetings easy," but they thought they would show this using equations... How sad is it that I thought at seeing the first one, "That's not complicated, it's just the sample variance, duh"
math ad


more gay animals

rams...and I'm an Aries too.


my new bike!

new bike
Here's an IM transcript of my bike story because I'm a lazy mofo:
i have to tell you my bike story
which might be ongoing!
so my bike was stolen last month
it was in the basement the whole time i was gone
so i was here for like 3 days, meetings, returning books, etc
and there were some of my flaky landlord's minions erecting a scaffold at 9am one morning
when i go down at 10, no bike
so i'm certain they made off with it
i scour craigslist for the last month
then i run across this woman selling a 58cm fr aluminum road bike
for $400.
right. so i bought it yesterday
i went out to creve coeur; rode it down the street, wrote the ho a check, and was on my way i thought it was yours she was selling
i get a call this morning, let it go to voicemail, obviously
no i had a not-great bike, definitely not this thing!
so she calls me this morning
and starts like half-crying on the phone about how it was a gift from her boyfriend and could i find it in my heart to cancel what has been done
i ignore, of course.
this afternoon, another voicemail
her mother
saying "we'd really like to get the bike back, i'd be willing to add something extra buy it back from you"
at this point
i'm like all whitney, helllllll to the naw
because something extra would have to be the almost $500 extra to buy an equiv bike!
this shit new would be MIN $850
so i'm not sure whether to call and be like no
or just ignore it and go about my business
because she had PLENTY of time to reconsider the offer to sell
we have been in contact via at least 3 emails and 2 phone calls and I was at her house you could call and tell her it was a gift and you gave it away already
ANY TIME up until i rode off with it on my car, would have been possible to back out
so how funny is that
wait till you see it
it's HOT


  • 54cm 7005 Aluminum Frame, Butted Down Tube, Replacable Der. Hanger and Compact Road Geometry, Shimano 27 Speed Drivetrain, Shimano 105 rear der., Shimano Tiagra Hubs, 14g Spokes, Alex DA-28 Rims, Michelin Axial Kevlar 700 X 23c Tires