Monday, March 30, 2009

Nets vs. Bucks

Khalil had unfinished homework, and anyway I wanted to get him home at a reasonable hour. As it turned out, this was a good game to leave during the third quarter. Unfortunately that was because our guys didn't stand much of a chance of catching up.

The Milwaukee Bucks had excellent teamwork and impressive moves. I don't think they were significantly superior to how the Nets played last time, but tonight the Nets seemed a bit off their game. The Bucks were making a lot of three-point shots like the one shown below. The Nets were doing this sort of thing a lot last time, but not tonight.

The Bucks made plenty of slam-dunks like this one.

The Nets made a few too...

...but in the end they just couldn't keep up. We left about halfway through the third quarter. At that point it seemed highly unlikely that the Nets could catch up. Sure enough, I just checked, and the final score was 107 to 78.

I find basketball to be fairly boring, but there are some aspects to games at the IZOD that make me enjoy it even less. First of all, the graphics on the big screen are an insult to my intelligence. The first time I saw the computer-generated sound meter that jiggles its way up to "MADNESS" as if the audience was going wild, I believed it for about the first two seconds. After that, it just made me sad.

Two other aspects of the game seem to me worse than silly. When the commentator names the Nets player who just made a basket, he sounds enthusiastic, but when an opposing player does it, his voice is the very definition of phlegmatic. Worst of all is the "MAKE NOISE" graphic that pops up onto the screen when an opposing player is taking a foul shot. Trying to break an opponent's concentration strikes me as very unsportsmanlike.

Khalil was falling asleep by the time we left, so maybe I should check in with him. It might just be that he, like me, is thinking of doing something else rather than going to a third game.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Birthday Scones!

Last time Khalil commented that we should make scones again sometime. He had obviously been pining for them, so I figured that another scone-baking session would be just the thing for his birthday.

I brought all the kitchen utensils and ingredients except for the lemon. Khalil's mom didn't have one, but she did have a lime, so we decided to try a batch with lime zest instead of lemon zest. She heated up the oven and we began the preparation. We measured out the dry ingredients, and I showed him how to use the edge chopper to chop the candied ginger. As we took turns cutting in the butter and mixing in the heavy cream with a fork, I once again told Khalil how important it is not to knead pastry any more than absolutely necessary: the pastry cutter and the fork mix in the wet ingredients with the least amount of kneading, which is what gives us the kind of light, flaky pastry that we want.

We zested the lime - Khalil's getting better at using the Microplane zester - and began adding the cream. Not one to pass up an opportunity for pastry preaching, I again instructed Khalil on the importance of moisture conten: in the summer I often only need eight tablespoons of water for a double pie crust, whereas in the winter I sometimes need twelve because the air is so much drier! Tonight I had to add much more heavy cream than the recipe called for before the dough was wet enough to hold together.

We mixed in the ginger, shaped the rounds, patted on a glaze of heavy cream, sprinkled on a bit of sugar, cut the rounds into wedges, buttered the baking sheet, put the wedges on the sheet, popped it in the oven, and set the timer. While the scones were baking I set up gmail and blogspot accounts for Khalil so that I could add him as a contributor to this blog. Soon I hope to instruct him in the basics of blogging.

Once the scones had reached a delicious-looking golden color, we took them out of the oven. While Khalil and his mother made tea, I made a small scone mountain on a plate and stuck in eleven candles. I lit them, and we sang happy birthday as I brought them over to the table. Khalil blew out the candles, I gave him his birthday card, and everyone enjoyed a scone. The general consensus was that the lime was excellent. Although I think I prefer lemon, I agree that the lime is delicious and perhaps even goes better with the ginger. Next time I want to try zesting two limes instead of just one, to make the flavor more noticeable.

All subtleties aside, Khalil had a great time making and eating his birthday scones.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Dogs and Dogs

See my Picasaweb album for more pictures from this event. Also check out the YouTube video of Khalil playing with some dogs.

On my way to pick up Khalil I drove by Roberto's and found it closed. I was thinking of taking him to the Millburn Diner after our hike, but then it occurred to me that it was a perfect day for a cookout. Khalil liked this idea, so we went to ShopRite for hot dogs and rolls before hiking up into South Mountain Reservation from the Millburn end. Many other people were out on the paved section, enjoying the beautiful day. After hearing Khalil's enthusiastic reaction to a few dogs we passed, I realized that I'd brought him to the perfect place: there's a big dog park right next to the picnic area in the middle of the park.

We entered the fenced-in area for dogs of any size, and Khalil had a blast watching, and then playing with, the dogs. His favorite dogs are golden retrievers and huskies, and there was at least one of each there. The one he really made friends with, though, was a grey "labradoodle", as his owners called him, who spent quite some time catching and retrieving a tennis ball thrown delightfully by Khalil.

Khalil probably would have played with the dogs all day, but I eventually got us moving toward lunch. We walked over to the picnic area and gathered a little wood. I started the fire while warning Khalil that it's almost never so easy; there just happens to be an abundant supply of dry wood there. I roasted the hot dogs and buns, and we enjoyed them, although I suspect that Khalil is more of a burger fan. Maybe I'll try grilling some of those next time.