Monday, October 25, 2010

On Power Outfits

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the concept of power outfits lately.  My good friend Mike got me started on the idea a few years ago (might actually be several, now) when he announced that he was wearing a “Mike Dodaro power outfit today”.  Mike’s power outfit is a long-sleeved T-shirt under a short-sleeved T-shirt.  He has a few standard mixes, but that’s the basic gist of the outfit.

I’ve recently come to understand what my power outfit is.  A quick word on just what that means – a power outfit (rather obviously, I think) is an outfit that makes you feel just that – powerful.  You are the most comfortable in it, and it can get you through many situations in your life – social or otherwise.  Out to bars, doing hangouts, relaxing by yourself, a quiet night in – even casual day at the office.  It’s an outfit that makes you feel your best every time you put it on, no matter what.  It can even turn a bad day into a good day.  It’s that powerful.

Anyway – my power outfit happens to be a long-sleeved dress shirt underneath a short-sleeved T-shirt.  It is very similar to Mike’s power outfit with one crucial exception – the collar.  I have come to realize that collars are very important to me.  As a teacher, I wear shirts with collars almost every day.  I’m talking about collars you can wear a tie with, not just regular shirt collars – I really like the way they cover 1/3 of my neck.  So, my power outfit combines the formality of having almost half of my neck covered with the laid-back-itude of a T-shirt.

Runner ups for my power outfits include:

  • blazer/sport coat over a hoodie
  • black dress shirt untucked with a red skinny tie and jeans

I wanted to have pictures for this post, but I can’t find any that work right now.  Maybe someday.  This post is kind of short and boring and all about men’s fashion anyway – OH WELL.  There should be come good recipe posts this weekend – stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chicken Mole

IMAG0894I recently tried mole (pronounced mo-lay) for the first time at a small Mexican restaurant/grocery in West Lafayette, La Guadalupana.  I ordered their enmoladas (basically, enchiladas covered in mole rather than red or green chili sauce).  They were really good!  Smoky, spicy, rich – but maybe a little too salty.  I decided I wanted to try out making a mole sauce of my own – so I browsed around the internet, and armed with several recipes (along with one sent from Amy over at Americana Kitchen), I set out to make my own.

In hindsight, there are many more spices and ingredients I could have used (and probably will use in the future – more on this at the end of the post), but I’m okay with starting small.  And now, on with it – here’s my quick version of mole:


  • Olive Oil (a few tbsps)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp chipotle flakes
  • 10 oz diced tomatoes
  • 1 Poblano pepper
  • 2 Anaheim peppers
  • 10 oz vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter (creamy)
  • 2 oz bittersweet chocolate (chopped)
  • 6 chicken breasts


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  2. Dice the onion, and sauté with olive oil until translucent.  Add the garlic.
    The lonely onion.  So sad.  I might cry.  HAH!
  3. Finely chop the peppers, add to sauté pan.
    Smells to write home about. And you're home already.
  4. Add spices and tomatoes – continue to mix and sauté to let the flavors mingle.
    Hob nob, if you will.
  5. Add the vegetable stock, peanut butter, and chocolate.  Let this all mix and melt together, and simmer for around 15 minutes.
    Dear god, what have we done?  
  6. While that is going on, sear the chicken (in a different sauté pan) with olive oil on both sides until slightly browned.
    White. Browned.
  7. Put the chicken into a casserole dish, and pour the (now, hopefully, thick) sauce over the top.
    Shut up, yes that's a slight lot of wine.  
  8. Braise for around 50 minutes in the oven.
  9. Serve with rice!
    Contrast altered to enhance visual enjoyment.

Now, from my musings and browsings about the internet, I have become aware that what I have just presented you with would not be a recipe for what one would traditionally call a mole.  Traditional moles seem to be the “simmer all day to achieve proper flavor saturation” variety of food, and the idea of a “quick and easy” mole is sort of a bastardization.  However, I do live in America, the home of deep fried butter, and the bastardization of other culture’s classic dishes seems to be one of the things that we do best.  I am mostly kidding.

In the future, when (and if, since my wife is less than thrilled about the idea of chocolate Mexican food) I make this dish, I will consider more spices.  The ingredient lists of other moles I have found can number in the dozens for spices alone.  The rules seems to be “if it doesn’t seem to belong, go ahead and add it.”  People are using cloves, allspice, nutmeg – things you would expect to see in a bakery around Christmas time.  And I am definitely okay with that.  I am also seeing that most people strain and/or puree the sauce in-between the simmering and pouring-onto-the-chicken-or-using-for-other-things-as-you-would-expect stages.  I would be fine with this, and would have done it, except for the fact that I don’t have a food processor, and would have had to use a blender.  I didn’t really want to get out the blender, so I left it chunky.  I think it turned out fine, but I do think the flavors would be a lot better if there was less texture in the sauce.  It would also coat the rice better.  Maybe I need to buy a food processor… Or at least one of these.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Jack O’Punkins

Yesterday, a few friends came over to carve pumpkins.  Mary and I were pretty happy about this, since we had bought a few pumpkins to carve, but weren’t really sure when we were going to get around to actually doing it.  So, by inviting other people over to partake, we kind of forced our own hand.

They had to go out and buy their own, because we didn’t have enough, but it was well worth it.  We had a good time, and afterwards we went out for Mexican food.  I had enmoladas, and it really made me want to try making Molé – a Mexican sauce made with chocolate.  So good.

Anyway, here are some pictures of our creations. (click for full size!)



I’m not sure if Jeff set out to carve himself into a pumpkin, but that’s pretty much what he did.
The eyes are pumpkin seeds!




Kelsey carved out a picture of an owl.  I think the owl looks surprised, maybe confused.  It probably saw some Rats of Nimh scurrying around, thinking they own the place.




Lauren stenciled out a spiderweb.  Looks super cool.  I always liked spiderweb pumpkins.  Super Halloweenie.  Here it is, lit up next to Kelsey’s owl:

SMILE SO BIG So Halloweenie.



Joe drew out and carved the Crazy Monkey logo!  I think it turned out great. 

**Note:  as of today, it has caved in, and the logo has fallen inside the pumpkin.  Oh well.  You know the saying – Rome did fall in a day, you know.  Or something.



Mike skipped out before we could get a picture of him with his finished pumpkin (I think), but here are the faces of his pumpkin, anyway:
That’s Harry Potter, Voldemort, Mad-Eye Moody, and some sticks.  I like to think of them as wands.

 IMAG0858 IMAG0866 IMAG0867 IMAG0868



Mary carved a cat into her pumpkin!  She drew the design herself, and cut it out.  Super cute.

Super cute. Kit Kat



I did a robot!  I drew it on there and cut it out, and I left some areas just shaved down, so they’re translucent, but still solid.  He’s the sort of wonky robot that has arms coming off his body at awkward angles.  Maybe that’s why he’s so angry.

I'm stopping this smiling nonsense. BZZT.

And here are all of them together!  I hope they last the two weeks till Halloween.

Best front step.

**Although I guess now we know that Joe’s won’t…

Friday, October 15, 2010

On Building A Stage

Artsy closeup sawdust picture My friends Steve and Jeff have a DIY music venue in their basement.  I offered to build a stage for them, provided of course that they pay for the materials. 
So in about three hours today, their stage was built!  Nothing fancy or huge, but I feel good about it. 
Here’s how I did it:


  • Two 8x4x.5 sheets of OSB sheeting (particle plywood)
  • 12 10-foot 2x4 boards
  • Tools (circular saw, measuring tape, electric drill, screws)


  1. Cut/lay out the plywood in the desired shape.  For this stage, we decided on a 12x12x17 foot triangle.  (Really, 12x12x16.97056274847714, but who’s nerdy enough for that nonsense?  Stupid Pythagoras.)  Also, since this is going into a basement, the stage is only 4 inches off the ground.
  2. Make the frame for the stage on top of the laid-out plywood.  This way, you can make sure it’s all the right size.  Don’t attach it yet, though.

  3. Right after your last cut, slice through the power cord for your circular saw to prove that you made no mistakes, and have no intention of fixing any that may exist.  Don’t really do this.  It’s stupid.

    I'm an idiot. 
  4. When the frame is finished, pull the plywood out from under, and lay it on top. 
  5. Attach it with screws.
  6. Finished!

Apparently, they have plans to cover this with carpet – probably a good idea for sound absorption.  Also, since I was a dope and screwed down all the edges before any in the middle, I had a lot of trouble finding the studs later.  If I was to do it again, I would attach the stage piece by piece, instead of laying it all on top at the same time.  Oh well.  DIY stage!