The Freezer, the Single Cook’s Best Friend

Written by Kat on August 9th, 2010

Yup, I’m going to say that I won’t need to cook anything for a while…. I didn’t even know that I could actually get this much in there.

Full Freezer

4 small containers goulash (each serves 2)
4 small containers bolongnese sauce (each serves 2)
5 small containers Coq au vin (each serves 2)
2 large containers tikka-masala base (each serves 4)
1 large container chicken pot pie filling (serves 2 or 3)
1 bag spƤtzle (serves 2)
5 quart bags spanikopita
1 pan manicotti (serves 4)
(above all homemade)

1 package uncooked shrimp
3 packages scallops (x12 each)
2 filet mingon steaks
2 new york strip steaks
3 chicken breasts
4 hamburgers patties
1 package bacon
1 bag chicken tenders from Trader Joes

2 packages lobster ravioli
2 packages naan from Dosa Factory in Central Square
2 Dr. Oetker pizzas (the “emergency pizzas”)
1 package flatbread
1 package hamburger rolls
1 box puff pastry
1 bag french fries
1 package maultashen
1 box spinach
1 box peas
1 bag cranberries
1 container guacamole from Trader Joes (which freezes remarkably well)
1/2 package pinenuts

2 martini glasses
4 trays + half full bucket ice cubes

Yeah, like you needed to know this, right?

 

Technology bites me in the butt
(Alternative title: I hate Comcast.)

Written by Kat on August 5th, 2010

As many of you know, I am not a big fan of talking on the phone with people that I do not know (i.e. for the purpose of making appointments, making reservations, tech support, those sorts of things). I will find almost any and all ways to avoid it, which, thanks to technology, is easy enough to do, for the most part. There is always OpenTable for making reservations, email, chat, etc.

So, I need a new cable decoder card for my TiVo, so I logged into my account on Comcast and low-and-behond, they have a “chat option”. Perfect. Or so I thought. The following is the next 45 minutes of my life (thankfully, one can just keep the chat window open while one does work). The bolded things are either my commentary or general stage direction.

customer Kat has entered room
analyst Maria has entered room (yup, “Maria”)
Maria: Hello Kat, Thank you for contacting Comcast Live Chat Support. My name is Maria. Please give me one moment to review your information (at which point, I had not given her any information yet)
Maria: It is a pleasure to have you on chat! First of all, I apologize for whatever inconvenience the issue has caused you but I’ll be more than happy to resolve it for you. I hope you haven’t waited so long to be assisted. How’s your day so far?
Kat: Fine. I bought a new Tivo and need to schedule a tech to come out to install a CableCard. Can I do that via chat? (I ask this right up front, because if they can’t schedule it via chat — which might be the case — I will stop right now and make the dreaded call)
Maria: I am glad that you are doing fine to day.
Maria: I see here that you have on a request on scheduling a technician to install your cable card. Am I correct?
Kat: Yes, I need to schedule someone to install a cable card (didn’t I just say this?)
Kat: as soon as possible, please
Maria: I am happy to know that you are interested about this. Comcast values your business and your time today, thus we will resolve this issue to your delight in no time.
(3 or 4 minutes pass)
Maria: Do you mind if I check your account?
Kat: No problem.
Maria: Thank you.
Maria: To ensure the integrity of your account information, can I please have the Full Account Name? Also, please provide me your 16 digit account number and the last 4 digitis of your SSN.
Kat: Well, my full name is Katja Suletzki.
Kat: here is my account number: 8773XXXXXXXXXXXX, my SSN confirmation is XXXX
Maria: Thank you for the information that you have given me
Kat: address is 40 springfield st somerville, ma 02143
Maria: Thank you for that additional information.
Maria: Can you give me 2 minutes to pull up your account?
Kat: sure
Maria: Thank you so much.
(at least 5 minutes pass)
Maria: Are you doing well today?
Kat: yes, fine.
Maria: While waiting for your account to pull up, I will share you a feature of Comcast that you can truly benefit. Are you aware that Comcast is introducing XFINITY?
Kat: yes, I have heard. Really though, I don’t need to be upsold. I just need to know when a tech can be here
Maria: I am glad that you are aware if Xfinity.
Maria: XFINITY is the new brand of Comcast ‘s technology platform, products, and services: XFINITY TV, XFINITY Voice, XFINITY Internet and XFINITY Triple Play or XFINITY bundled services. XFINITY marks the beginning of a whole new era of innovation and change for Comcast. We’re transforming the customer experience and giving you more choices, more convenience and more control over your entertainment, information and communication needs. To know more about XFINITY, go to XFINITY.com/home.
(another 8 minutes pass)
Maria: Thank you for waiting.
Maria: I already have your account. (“already”? wow, 8 minutes to pull up my account? Comcast “valuing my time” my ass)
Maria: I will now schedule a technician to install your cable card.
Kat: thanks
Maria: You are most welcome.
(5 more minutes)
Maria: I apologize for the delay.
Maria: While waiting, may I ask if you have other concerns for today?
Kat: none (what I felt like writing was something to the effect of “world peace, abject poverty in Africa, the condition of the water in the gulf of Mexico because of the BP oil well, the probable nuclear missles in Iran and North Korea”, but I didn’t)
Maria: Alright, please stay online while I process your request
(10 minutes – literally – go by)
Maria: Kat, may I ask how are you doing today?
Kat: You already did. twice.
Maria: I apologize for my mistake.
Kat: no problem. How much longer?
(no reply for 4 minutes)
Maria: I am still processing it. Please give me another 3 minutes to complete the process. Thank you.
(5 minutes)
Maria: kat, would you like 08/07 between 8am-11am to have your cable card installed?
Kat: sure
Maria: Perfect. I will now schedule it for you.
Kat: great. thank you
Maria: No problem.
(4 minutes)
Maria: May I have your contact number so that the technicain can call you 10 minutes before the appointment?
Kat: 617-623-1923
(8 minutes)
Kat: so, are we done? Do I need a confirmation number or anything?
(2 minutes)
Maria: I apologize for the delay Kat.
Kat: no problem, are we done?
(3 minutes)
Maria: However,there has been an error while I am scheduling a technician to install your cable card. I apologize for the wait
Kat: ok. so what still needs to be done?
(nothing for 5 minutes)
Maria: In order to have your cable card installed, please call your nearest local office.
Kat: What? after 45 minutes you tell me this?
(3 minutes)
Kat: are you still there?
(no reply)
Kat: ??
Kat: fine
Kat: whatever
(2 minutes) (at this point, I should have just given up)
Maria: I apologize for the inconvenience Kat
Kat: Is this something that you knew you couldn’t schedule or some sort of error in your computer system or what is the issue?
Maria: I apologize for the inconvenience Kat
Kat: I need your full name and some sort of ID number from you. I think that it is mildly unfair that you kept me here for 45 minutes and now can’t do this? Is it just a computer glitch?
Maria: I can’t tell you that.
Kat: You can’t tell me if this is a computer glitch?
Maria: I apologize but I am not able to provide you any of my personal information. However, I can provide you my ID number. It is 100459555.
Kat: Thank you
Maria: I apologize for the inconvenience
Kat: I find it slightly odd that I gave you my name, my telephone number, where I live and my SSN confirmation number and apparently a last name is too much to ask. Seems like a lack of accountability on your behalf. You apologize a lot but it would have been better customer service just to help me.
(Kat logs off chat)

Yup, 45 or so minutes. Of course, I still need the decoder card so I do end up calling… Total elapsed time of the phone call? 4 minutes and 21 seconds.

Guess that taught me, huh?

 

Menu Planning for the Weekend

Written by Kat on July 27th, 2010

I’m ‘catering’ a BBQ for my mum this weekend in Maine. How does this sound for a menu? Any suggestions?

Apps/nibbles: Mini-crab cakes with caper-garlic aioli, spanikopita triangles, caprese, antipasti (marinated mushrooms, olives, artichokes, peppers) all with baguette.

Main: letting Dad man the grill [grin]; thankfully not my department

Sides: Swabian potato salad (no, not ‘German’, no, not ‘Bavarian’… Swabian!), 2 types of pasta salad (pesto-jalapeno-goat-cheese and the other summer-veggie pasta salad), cucumber-ribbon salad

Dessert bites: vanilla custard-filled, chocolate-dipped mini-profiteroles and mini-lemon tarts with raspberry garnish (from their raspberry patch)

 

Bergamot

Written by Kat on July 14th, 2010

Bergamot is the new restaurant that has opened up in the old EVOO space here in Inman Square (by The Wine & Cheese Cask and Dali). While I was sorry to see EVOO move, they are just down in Kendall Square, so not to worry… it hasn’t shut the doors. Anyway, Bergamot moved in more or less straight away and it’s been getting great reviews. Last night I had the chance to try it out and the reviews are right: it’s definitely one of the better newcomers to the Boston/Cambridge restaurant scene; right up there in my mind with TW Food and Craigie on Main — given Craigie on Main’s prices, Bergamot is downright inexpensive! (Note: Bergamot is in the $25-35 for mains range so still a little in the ‘special occasion’ category; check out the menu)

bergamot_pea-salad

After a great little amuse bouche of local crab meat wrapped in celeriac on a fresh cucumber, I had the pea-greens salad (pea shoots, scaled/shocked english peas, finely diced berkshire ham, pecorino cheese, truffle vinaigrette and the most amazing “fried egg”. I think they must have soft boiled it, carefully pealed it, then rolled it in panko crumbs and flash fried it. The center was still runny like a poached egg and when you cut into it, it combined with the dressing… lovely). My main dish was a lovely cut of halibut on new potatoes, baby carrots and a perfectly caramelized entire thick slice of vidalia onion, with a touch of herb sauce. Really, really excellent and just the right amount of food. All the desserts sounded wonderful but I was good and stayed away (very tempted but that bride’s maid dress fitting is coming up).

And you know a restaurant is good when they have the Glenmorangie Quinta Ruban on the menu. Again, scotch is off limits for me presently, but it is unusual to even see it on the menu.

 

In the Name of the Father, the Sun and the Holy Goat

Written by Kat on July 10th, 2010

It’s another sunny and sweltering day here in the city and it is the usual weekend for the Portuguese holy goat festival in my neighborhood. It is, of course, actually called the Holy Ghost Festival, but last year, they typo’ed the sign that hangs over Springfield Street (doh!) by forgetting the S, so it read Ghot, which to me is pronounced the same as goat, so forever and ever (ahem), I will call it the Holy Goat festival.

What is the Holy Goat Festival? Well, there is the traditional ‘opening ceremony’ where the local Portuguese marching band walks up and down my street a few times on a Friday night. All day Saturday, they close down the street and it is your basic block party with the Portuguese-American society selling some yummy smelling grilled stuff and sweets (which, despite having lived here a while now, I have never tried), a beer-prison (seriously uptight as usual about the alcohol; sad really) and a big tent with a huge array of music playing throughout the day. Tomorrow, Sunday morning, there is a parade (again, really just up and down my street) and they crown the Goat Queen. She probably has a better title than that, but usually it’s some gangly-looking teenager that got roped into participating by her parents out of tradition. She usually has braces and gets to wear an overly-poofy prom dress.

I made fun of all this, of course, but the funny thing is that it is ‘old country’ enough that it reminds me of the little stadtfeste in Germany so whatever. It’s part of July my Julys now.

 

Pussy Willows

Written by Kat on April 14th, 2010

Every once in a while when you download the images from the Canon, you come up with totally unexpected results. This is a completely unedited picture; no brightness or contrast editing at all. Straight off the camera.

Pussy Willows

When I was up in Marblehead a few weeks ago, someone had some pussy willows in a vase, right next to their very white front door (blue house). I guess the sun was just right — and super bright — behind the vase when I made the photo and so the pussy willows almost seem to strangely glow.

 

Tongue Tied

Written by Kat on April 9th, 2010

Every once in a while, apparently I can’t speak English. At least a few dozen times this week (and I am not sure why particularly this week), I have:

1. completely forgotten the English word for something, yet know it in German and just blurt it out without realizing it is in the middle of an English sentence
2. have gotten completely tongue-tied with the whole accent thing, stumbling over Th’s, F’s V’s and W’s.
3. spoken English however used German sentence structure…

Oh well.

 

Playing with Shadows, Stones + Leaves, Again

Written by Kat on March 28th, 2010

While autumn is my favorite time of year to visit the Mt. Auburn Cemetery, spring always hold some surprises, so I ventured over there this morning. There were a lot more people than usual, and I wonder if that has anything to do with the Easter season, or if it was just because it was a sunny (albeit cold) morning. Anyway, here are a few shots from today:

Mt Auburn Cemetery
Mt Auburn Cemetery
Mt Auburn Cemetery
Mt Auburn Cemetery
Mt Auburn Cemetary
Mt Auburn Cemetary
Mt Auburn Cemetary

The rest are up here on Flickr.

 

Saturday Drive to Marblehead

Written by Kat on March 27th, 2010

I had to get out of the house this morning, so up I went to Marblehead (35-40 minute drive). I went for a walk from the neck to the lighthouse point and then drove into town. It was very empty, which I guess is to be expected in late March, before the summer crowds arrive. Don’t let the bright sunshine fool you — it was freeeeeeezing and I needed to sit in a coffee shop for a while once in town so that my fingers and nose would warm back up!

Marblehead in March
Marblehead in March
Marblehead in March
Marblehead in March
Marblehead in March

A few more pictures are up on Flickr too

 

Hectic Weeks Make for Cranky Kats

Written by Kat on March 23rd, 2010

I’ve completely misjudged this week and have bitten off more than I can chew, I’m afraid. Ever have one of those weeks?

Here’s a run-down, not counting work related items (which are massive this week) and the fact that I am feeling under the weather (allergies? a spring cold? Who the hell knows….)

1. a sewing project, that while small, needs to be complete by Friday morning and hasn’t been started yet (should take about 2-3 hours)

2. a baking project that has three sub parts, needs to be complete by Friday morning as well; only one of which is started (and ultimately may get dropped; we’ll see)

3. a writing project with no concrete deadline, but I would love to spend all day working on

4. Spring cleaning, both apartment and Ludwig von Volkswagen; April 1 deadline

5. the sweater project; April 30 deadline and about one-third complete. Goal is to have one more piece done by Sunday

6. Need to run to the framing shop to have two large photographs matted and framed; One has a deadline of April 23 and it often takes 3 weeks without incurring rush charges, so I should get on this; Might have to push to weekend.

Seems like less when I write it down, but good thing that I am an insomniac and can actually knit or write all night. Maybe then I’ll get it all done.