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small cyan square Dinner this evening at a branch of the Vietnamese restaurant I've called "The Fuckin' Noodle" in previous entries (since a co-worker called it that) - tonight was so tasty I'll state their real name: "Pho Xe Lua" <1>. Rather than the Grilled Chicken with Noodle (#21) I usually get, my eye strayed into a different section of the menu and I ordered the Chicken Sate with rice, vegetable and soup (#32). Sate of course being grilled on skewers; always I'm intrigued with how people do this, to enhance my own experiments making yakitori chicken on my little electric grill. Theirs was great! The sate implies a peanut sauce, which was just the right spicy, plus it was the first time I've ever had rice at a Vietnamese. Would it be like Chinese or American, falling apart and difficult to eat with chopsticks, or would it be sticky like the superior Japanese? I dug into the large mound and found it to be the latter. The soup was a rich broth with a few onion rings and leaves of cilantro, and the veggies were steamed broccoli, carrots (seemingly cut with pinking shears), and hunks of cabbage. The Game was on a television in the corner, but not loud and drowned out by Pat Metheny on the stereo. A fine meal.

small red square I've been alternating reading the wonderful (but depressingly bleak) short stories by Pete Hamill in Tokyo Sketches with lighter fare in a similar vein: Black Mist and Other Japanese Futures, edited by Orson Scot Card. These are science fiction - like the other, not translations but written by round-eyes. Great stuff.

small yellow square Got the winning Peanut Butter Cookie recipe from the chef at the cafeteria on-base today, and here it is. I'm going to have to print it anyway sometime, because his handwriting's rather difficult to read - may as well share it, as I type it in when it's fresh (he went over the instructions with me - then shook my hand in gratitude at the compliments which accompanied my request).

1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup margarine
1/2 cup peanut butter [I'll use crunchy]
2 T milk
1 t vanilla
1 egg
1 3/4 cup flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt

Beat sugar, brown sugar & margarine until light and fluffy. Add peanut butter, milk, vanilla & egg, blend well. Stir in flour, baking soda & salt, and mix well. Shape into balls [here he demonstrated with his hands, like making a small snowball] and bake at 375° for 10 - 12 - 14 minutes.

He also said to mash down the balls - but he makes the big cookies, like the size of a compact disk (whose middles can be mushy). When I make them they'll be much smaller, and I'll make the requisite criss-cross pattern impressed into each top surface with a fork, like my Mom does and most other recipes mention.

small violet square Political News

Our bozonic governor Pete Wilson signed a law today which makes the California Primary (one of) the earliest in the nation, so we get to choose the Presidential candidates now instead of citizens in those other states. I thought so, anyway, until I heard details - instead of June our Primaries will now be held in March, but not until a week after the New Hampshire elections and the Iowa caucuses. I'd hoped that weird New England media circus of every four years would be a thing of the past, as well as the conventions, but no such luck. Why couldn't we precede all that? What's the deal with them?

small red square Today I learned from the Internet about the Avro Arrow. Seems the Canadians created a superb supersonic jet fighter in the 1950s, but subsequently cancelled the project and then destroyed every Arrow aircraft. (Which reminds me of our own YB-49 Flying Wings - why were they all scrapped?) This site tells the whole story, with pictures and more links (plus a photo of the beautiful British R-100 airship).

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<1>This isn't quite how it looks on the sign - those zany Vietnamese use some additional punctuation over the "o" and "u" - there's not one, but two commas or apostrophes above each letter, one directly on top and the other off to the right. What can they mean?