February 21, 1998

Food and Fun

Got plenty of sleep last night. Thank everything. I finally did take the old painkillers around 9pm, decided to punt everything and just sleep. So slept until 10:30 the next morning, when I had to get up as Raven was coming at 11 to learn what he could from me about food and cooking and making things for himself.

He's been putting himself on a really restrictive diet that's supposed to help him with his skin, but he's got a very restrictive list that he really doesn't like, as he really hasn't gotten to know most of it, yet. So I wanted to show him, physically and practically how things could work. One of the things is that he cannot have bread that has has any bleached white wheat flour in it or any shortening in it, which describes nearly ever bread that's on the market.

So the thing that we started with was whole wheat bread. Completely whole wheat. I had him do the mixing, the kneading, everything including the shaping and the rising and all that. We went away to shop during the second rise, and came back to a dough that was well doubled in bulk.

Shopping was fun, too. Going over various vegetables and fruits and how to find out of their ripe or good or how to pick them. Stuff like eggplants needing to be shiny and firm, cantalope can be picked by smelling the end that was cut from the stem, that firm onions are good, that bulk is always cheaper and that portabella mushrooms at $4.59 a point is absolutely excellent, as you rarely need more than a quarter of a pound of mushroom per person. How to choose fish, how to make pasta, how to choose yams. What kinds of vegetables are available during what seasons.

Fun things to talk over, as they were all things that were passed on by my mom and a few of my friends, and we had fun with it. When we got back, we started the bread baking and then cut up, cleaned and set the vegetables out on a cookie sheet with a layer of olive oil and then roasted 'em all in a 350 degree oven. I hadn't realized just how easy it was to roast vegetables in quantity. Peppers and onions and eggplant and potatoes and garlic cloves both minced and in their own skin. Yum.

The bread came out first, and then the vegetables and they were excellent on the really chewy, nutty loaf.

That was a lot of fun. I like passing on information like that, anything that gets someone to respect food more, take a more active role in preparation and usage of their food is something that I really love to do. Raven was also really thankful for doing it, and having someone give him really practical tips, things like, this is how it feels, this is how it looks, this is how it smells, try it this way or that way, and you'll have alternatives in this way or that way. He knew how to steam his vegetables, so I had fun teaching him how to roast 'em in an allowable oil. There's more flexibility than most people really have ever discovered for themselves in cooking and the preparation of really good food. So it's fun to bring more of that out.

Then I went with John to dinner with a bunch of friends at Sam's Southwest Cafe. *laughter*

I got to wear a long cream sweater I've had forever with the champagne and white lace tights. There were ten of us with two kids, and I got to rock five-month-old Owen for much of the evening as his dad and mom ate and he didn't fuss much so long as he was rocked. So that was a good tradeoff.

The restaurant is brand new in the brand new Redmond Town Center. The new Town Center is built on what used to be a golf course that was on one side of 520, and part of the plan is not just the shops, business offices, and parking, but also much landscaped park area with bike paths and the like so that people can bike in and use the theater and get to the summer concerts and the small shops. There are only two name stores in the whole place, and the rest is all little stuff that sells everything from fine tea to Eddie Bauer sports clothings, from movies to Starbucks, from Cowchips to fine wine and cigars, and from silk panties to kids cloths. Nearly all of it is aimed directly at the yuppie class that pretty much overwhelms Redmond after the money Microsoft has been making for the area.

For the longest time the only restaurant in the mall was Cucina! Cucina! and on a Friday night it wasn't surprising to find a wait of an hour and a half there. Two new restaurants were the first things built in the second wave of shops, and one of them was Sam's. It was completely packed, though it was only open for one week. It was insane. They'd even refused to have our party on Friday night because they were so packed they just couldn't have a large party on that night. As it was, on Saturday, the front lobby was so completely jammed at 6pm, it was crazy.

It was good. Not great food, but good. It was also good for just sitting there and talking with the people that were there. Mostly folks that used to work with Synario and had moved onto other lives. One thing that really got me thinking was that one of the best engineering managers I've ever worked with had just been let go from his startup as it was cutting down on a few of the products it was hoping top ship. He is looking for work, and while he has a few offers, he's not sure that they are what he really wants to be doing. What he really wants to do is work with a commercial software startup.

Which always gets me to thinking again about what *is* a good commercial software startup idea? What will work? How to work it? What would be a good market to do now? It's always good to get the juices flowing.

Two of the couples came over to the house and hadn't ever seen the kitchen before, so we introduced them to that, to pictures of the ballooning trip, to the new bathroom, and to the new Rovers. We had a few beers, talked a lot, and I had some tea and talked some more, and eventually everyone had to get back to rescue babysitters. So John and I curled up in front of the TV to watch the Czechs play the Russians. Another great game. Sad, the Olympics will be done tomorrow..

The game itself was absolutely wonderous. And I go to to see that the Czechs hadn't even really played up to their full capability against the Canadians. It was intense, very hard fought, and in the end the Canadian hockey announcer said something that I'll never forget.

It's not the team that has the better atheletes which will win. It's the atheletes with the better team.

It was so very, very true in this case. Canada and the USA teams were supposed to be the winners because they had some of the most talented players in the world, the best paid and the most famous; but neither of them even played in the gold round. One of the things that I really remembered was all the Czech players with their arms around each other as they watched the shoot-off, just willing their team to win, willing their goalie to stop the puck. Together.

A great team.

© 1998 by Liralen Li.

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