Monday, April 16, 2007

Work notes

A couple of salient facts about this cafeteria at work. Being the hub of much social activity and butt-kicking at the pool table, naturally it features prominently in many work days. But what about the process of getting yourself a fresh juice? It may or may not be fraught with difficulties. Mostly, it is fraught. For instance, if you say “no ice” you can be sure your glass will be crackling with crushed ice. If you say “no sugar”, chances are the drink will be sugary enough to make you reel. And heaven help you if you go so far as to say, “lots of ice, no sugar.” Then you’ll get the wrong flavor.
But this is all offset by a bunch of rather sheepishly good-natured boys behind the counter who have their own peculiar charm. Their hideous orange outfits apart, they’re a pleasant lot. They specialize in stocking strange varieties of gum and candy that no-one has ever heard of (and for good reason.) The fine print on these is always in a different language each week. Once I was confounded and kept turning the gum around until I finally figured it was from Turkey. Turkey??
Then there’s the boy at the coffee machine, who doesn’t make eye-contact. Usually he takes extended breaks with a placard left propped up on the machine: “BRACK.” This leaves you standing there, very deflated, looking at the machine; just when you think you can simply get your own coffee by pushing the right buttons, you realize Brack-man has cleverly switched off the thing from the mains, and neither man nor beast can figure out how to switch it back on. This way, he ensures his clientele is properly humble every time they want a shot of caffeine.
On the subject of corporate network security, it appears that no firewalls are required on Mondays. This means you can blog and listen to online radio, if you so desire. But come Tuesday, and the firewalls are back up. You cannot access certain sites. Online radio is allowed. But then again, maybe not. So it is best to come to work everyday and gingerly check the situation before you get your hopes up. Remember, you may not even get that cup of coffee if you are depressed because you can’t listen to the World Beat station.

Occupational hazards

Conversation with aid-worker friend last night included topics like helicopters crashing and burning, angry cobras on doorsteps, and catching the chickengunya virus. Well, well. This is what happens when you try to build schools in war-ravaged countries very few people have even heard of. He said wryly that the job-descriptions for his kind of work should include the disclaimer: “high possibility of death.”
Of course, driving in this city’s traffic every day also means a high possibility of death, but somehow this doesn’t quite have the same ring. No nobility in dying in a jam on Bannerghatta Road, as opposed to getting bitten by a cobra in the wilderness of Sierra Leone while trying to build a school.

Monday, April 09, 2007

A damn good idea

For no particular reason I am putting this recipe up here. No particular reason except that butterscotch and peaches together seems like a damned good idea. (Damned good idea or damn good idea?) Especially on a somnolent afternoon when you have no chance of getting your teeth into either butterscotch or peaches.

6 medium or 5 large ripe peaches
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup cream
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon honey
Pinch of salt
¾ teaspoon vanilla, ½ teaspoon ground ginger or ½ teaspoon almond extract
Vanilla ice cream
Almond biscotti, gingersnaps or other cookies.

1. Fill a large bowl with ice and water, and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place peaches in boiling water for 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to ice water. When cool, drain and pat dry.

2. Working over a bowl to catch the juice, peel skins from peaches, squeezing as much juice as possible from the skins. Slice each peach into 10 to 12 slices, and set aside with juice; discard skin and pits.

3. In medium skillet over low heat, melt butter. Raise heat to medium-high and cook butter until it foams, subsides, foams again and begins to brown. As soon as butter is nut-brown, add the peaches with juices. Sauté 2 to 3 minutes, then place skillet over low heat to keep warm.

4. In medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine cream, sugar, honey and salt. Place over low heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar is completely melted. Raise heat to medium and let boil without stirring until it turns a rich golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. (Because of honey and cream it will appear to turn pale brown before it has caramelized; wait until it has darkened noticeably, thickened and reduced before proceeding.) Carefully pour contents of skillet into saucepan; it will boil and spatter; stir to combine. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Add vanilla or other flavoring. Serve warm or at room temperature over ice cream, with cookies on the side.
Source: The New York Times
to stay
is to be nowhere.

~Not sure where I saw this or who said it. But it rang in my head.
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