Posted by: Travis | January 27, 2008

Beginners luck: gnocchi take 2 and 3 (plus: pizza take 537, Travis sticks it to the man, a raise, and much more)

First with the gnocchi. Monday night after i made my first reasonably successful gnocchi i found myself with lots of left over dough, despite cutting a recipe intended for four in half. I did what any 22 year old guy does when faced with such a predicament: call mom. I wanted to save it since most of the work had already been done, all that needed to be done was to cut it and boil it, add some sauce. The problem was whether to put the dough in the fridge or the freezer, mom said fridge.

The next night Rachel and i were feeling lazy, didn’t really want to cook so we decided to pull out yesterday’s dough, only to find it a sticky, gooey mess. We added some flour and rolled with it anyway, but the results were not near as good as the previous night. Although i did make some improvements to the sauce. Though i used the same sauce (leftovers) from the night before, i sauted some spinach then chopped it pretty coarse and then tossed it in with the gnocchi before adding the sauce. For the simplicity of the idea it was remarkably effective and made the texture a little bit less boring. That all happened on Tuesday night. Wednesday i got to the office and found that i had an email from Alex, my roommate all through college. His email said that he too had experimented with gnocchi and wished me luck, but with one piece of advice: DON’T PUT THAT STUFF IN THE FRIDGE, IT GETS GROSS! Too late.

Wednesday night we decided to take a break from the gnocchi project and make pizza. Just as i was about to get started i found out from Rachel that one of her coworkers who lives in South San Jose was supposed to meet a friend for dinner in Palo Alto, but the friend forgot. Faced with a long trip home through some of the more intense rush hour traffic in the country, and nothing to eat when she got there, Rachel invited her over for dinner and to wait out the traffic. Though it was thrown together at the last minute, it was fun to hang out with a like minded young person in similar circumstances (being young, starting a career, paying of debts, and getting used to becoming an adult).

Thursday night the gnocchi project was resumed. This time the goal was whole wheat gnocchi. The recipe uses whole wheat flour, parmesan cheese, oat flakes, barley flakes, flat parsley, heated milk, and an egg. Sounds like a rather healthy recipe with an emphasis on whole grains and complex carbohydrates (a far cry from its original super starchy cousin). So i follow the recipe and after some stirring, realize that what i have on my hands is somewhere between oatmeal and granola with very little liquid in it. I guess it was most like muesli for all you worldly readers. What i had on my hands was not dough, nor was it going to turn into dough. It was time to freestyle. I added some flour to hold it together, which was an improvement but then it started to crack – time for more milk. I continued this process until i had something that resembled dough. We let it rest and went to the bookstore. Upon returning we rolled it, boiled it and covered it in sauce. The result was not good. So bad that i made an audible noise after the first bite. It was firm and dense, and just tasted like mashed up grain. We won’t be doing this one again.

For the most part, the rest of the week has been very good. Stanford has something called a courtesy card that is intended for the spouses and domestic partners of students, faculty, and staff that gives them access to athletic facilities, the pool, and other places on campus. Upon hearing this, Rachel and i got very excited. We would now have a place to swim, play basketball, work out, rock climb, etc. all for free. About the whole working out thing: my dad and i both abhor working out in gyms. Why spend an hour inside chained to a treadmill in a hot room with a bunch of other sweaty, gross, insecure, image obsessed people when you can go for a run or a bike ride outside and enjoy the beautiful weather and surroundings available to you? But here’s the deal: my dad has chronic back pain. When i go on these runs and bike rides my back hurts sometimes. I probably have a very weak core that is causing this and no amount of running or biking is going to make my core stronger. I have accepted the fact that if i want to be able to run and bike for the rest of my life, i may have to sacrifice my ethical code and hit the gym once or twice a week. But no running on a treadmill for an hour when i could just go outside. Thats silly stuff.

Anyway, after reading the fine print, Rachel and i discover that spouses and domestic partners of students are allowed to get courtesy cards. Meanwhile for faculty and staff only spouses and same sex domestic partners. Of the six combinations why is it that the only one that isn’t allowed a card happens to be the one Rachel and i have. And if you are going to limit opposite sex domestic partners, then why is it okay for students? After a while we realized that chances are high that there is a student behind the desk and if we just act like we should get one, we would probably have success. Sure enough we walk in, act like theres nothing wrong, fill out the paper work and conveniently leave our relationship status box unmarked, hoping that they assume we are either students or married. Sure enough, there was a student behind the desk who was looking to get off work in 10 minutes and rushed us through the process. Travis sticks it to the man again, the day is mine!

On to other happenings of the week:

  • I found out that i got a significant raise early this week. Im pretty excited, although i also realized that if i got an offer from Lockheed Martin for twice the money i would turn it down in a heartbeat, which i think is the definition of job satisfaction. I think i’ll be here for a while.
  • Next Sunday Rachel and i will be running the Kaiser half marathon in Golden Gate park. To be honest we haven’t been training very hard, just 2 ten mile runs, but i think we’ll do okay. I think im most worried about my ability to drive home afterwards (my car is a standard transmission), so dealing with traffic could be interesting.
  • We’ve been having problems with our fridge for about the past month now. Occasionally the fridge of the freezer will just stop working, and start blowing hot air, forcing us to put all of our food in an ice chest until they come to fix it. Thursday evening we got a new fridge only to find out friday night that it didn’t work either. We got yet another one saturday morning (although we had to spend the first half of the day waiting for it) and so far it seems to be working well. The amount of food we’ve lost in the past month is ridiculous. Im ready to have a reliable fridge again.
  • I was glad to see Obama pull off such an emphatic victory in South Carolina on saturday. As i’ve said before i feel like Hilary is just an arrogant washington insider that feels entitled to the presidency. If she gets elected i feel like she won’t pull the country together and make the changes we need to see in this country. Instead i feel we will see a continuing of the silly, polarized, childish party nit-picking that has unfortunately plagued us for the past 10 or 15 years. On the other hand i feel Obama could really be the agent for change that he professes to be. When i hear him speak i don’t feel like he’s a sleazy, say anything, career politician, but a refreshingly honest and straight forward guy. Friends that have seen him speak in person seem be really impressed. I like Edwards but i think his time has passed. I really feel like he was a victim of the media framing this as a two person race, and i don’t think the whole being a white male was doing him much good either. Since Edwards has already won some delegates, if this thing comes down to the wire, he may be able to control who gets the nomination by determining who gets his delegates. I could see him on the same ticket as Obama, but not Hilary. I think she’s burned that bridge, and it may come back to bite her.
  • Its been raining here non stop for about a week now, and there’s no end in sight. The forecast calls for rain every day for the next 5 or 6 days. Im ready for this stuff to be over. I wish we could afford to go up to Tahoe, the skiing has been great up there for the last few weeks, but we’ve got some other things that we need to take care of first. Maybe in 2 or 3 weeks that will be an option. We’ll see.


  1. Nice piece, but you may want to chnge/rearrange your title. When I read “a raise” and “Travis sticks it to the man,” it sounded as if the latter was a comment on the former. Having read the piece now, I see that those are two separate events. That’s important. Presumably, the raise was earned and deserved, and not a result of sticking it to or getting over on anyone.

    Hate to be picky, but if I don’t point out these things to you, who will?

  2. Sorry to have steered you wrong about the gnocchi dough, Trav. I have never made pasta, so, to me, dough is like pie or cookie dough. That does well in the fridge. Made sense gnocchi would, too. Dough is dough, no? Apparently not. Oh, well. Cooking can occasionally be like a science experiment. Sometime the magic works and sometimes it doesn’t. But you won’t make that mistake again and neither will I . . . if I ever get around to making pasta.

    Way to go on the raise!

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