Author Archives: charlesprogers
Post by Mark T. Locker.
I am not generally a fan of action, explosions, running and car chases in crowded foreign cities. My main exception to this has been USA Network’s “Burn Notice”. This show I classify as laundry-folding entertainment. But what do you do when faced with piles of laundry to fold and you’ve burned through all your Burn Notice? The answer: compromise.
I never saw the first two (ed. note: apparently there were three before this) Mission Impossible movies, nor did I ever feel very compelled to do so. Not surprisingly, there is no need for knowledge of the back story to understand what is happening in Ghost Protocol. Here’s what is happening in Ghost Protocol: explosions, running, and car chases in crowded foreign cities. It even comes with the requisite driving through some Arab vendor’s tent! Also: Simon Pegg as the witty element (which mostly falls flat) and physically impossible feats like not having your shoulder dislocate when falling from a considerable height and catching yourself at the last moment.
In short, this is perfect laundry-folding entertainment. So long as you are not too hung up on plausible plot points or well-crafted dialog, it’s worth the free price on some of the streaming channels.
Post by Kyle St. Romain.
Choosing the right pillow can be a timely and expensive endeavor, roiled with many restless nights’ sleep. That is, until you find the right one. I personally have a closet of pillows that don’t quite work for me; a constant reminder of the work I’ve done (and money I’ve spent) in pursuit of bedtime nirvana.
To help expedite your search for the best pillow, I’ve gone over some of the basics of choosing the right pillow in a previous post right here on the Charles P Rogers blog. That post details some of the basics of pillow construction, and the general types of pillows that are best suited to your sleep style. Once armed with that knowledge, the only thing left is to go to test out a bunch of different pillows in person. This can be a tiresome task, especially if your current pillow hasn’t been giving you the best night’s sleep. However, there may be a shortcut to your pillow hunt if you find yourself staying at New York City’s Benjamin Hotel.
A quick review of their website, and you’ll find that The Benjamin holds sleep paramount. So much that they offer a sleep guarantee, which promises, “you’ll sleep just as well at The Benjamin as you do at home, or we’ll give you a free night’s stay.” This is a pretty bold statement for a hotel in the middle of the city that never sleeps, though you may discover that you’ll sleep better at The Benjamin than you ever have at home thanks to their robust sleep program.
The sleep guarantee, however, is merely a backstop to The Benjamin’s full sleep program. At the forefront is the pillow menu: a selection of 12 pillows ranging from a 5-foot body cushion, to buckwheat and hypoallergenic pillows, all the way to water-filled pillows. I’ve never tried a water pillow before, but am intrigued by the idea. You can view the complete pillow menu here.
And if you’re having trouble making a selection from the pillow menu, there is even a dedicated sleep concierge to help. The sleep concierge will assess your sleep habits, recommend one of the pillows from the menu, and even send up bedtime snacks or schedule you for specific spa services that can help you achieve the best night’s rest you’ve ever had. Wow!
In any case, I think the idea of a pillow menu is a pretty cool, especially if you have yet to find the perfect bridge between your head and the mattress. Throw in snacks and customized sleep programs, and you’ve got all the ingredients for a great night’s sleep. I also wonder if there are companies that provide personalized sleep assessments in your home – a sleep consultant? I know I’d be game to give them a try, especially if the service came with a guarantee!
Post by Alison Hein.
Spätzle, or “little sparrow,” is a hand-cut egg noodle from the region of Southern Germany, Austria and Switzerland. I love spätzle fried in butter, liberally salted and peppered, and browned to a crisp perfection. Topping that with a gooey poached egg and specks of fresh parsley nearly sends me into a dreamy food delirium.
Making these eggy little pasta bites is easy – no need for fancy contraptions. My Austrian grandma taught me to make them with nothing more than a knife and spoon. Be careful as you gently push your thin globs of dough into the boiling water – wear gloved potholders, if you like, to be safe.
Fry them with bacon or onions, bake them with Swiss or Gruyere, spice them, sauce them, herb them but definitely serve them – for lunch, for dinner, or for a joyfully delirious breakfast in bed.
½ cup unbleached white flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 to 2 tablespoons water
Spätzle mit Eier
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh curly parsley, chopped
To make spätzle, mix flour and salt together in small bowl. Whisk in eggs until smooth, thick batter forms. Gradually add water until you achieve the desired consistency. The batter should be somewhat thick, but thin enough to slide slowly off the edge of a spoon.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Scoop up a tablespoon of batter with one hand and hold over the boiling water. In the other hand, hold a butter knife parallel to the spoon, and gently (and carefully) push the strip of dough into the water. Repeat the process. As the spätzle cook they will rise to the surface. Skim them off and place in a separate bowl. When all the dough is gone and all the spätzle are cooked, rinse them in cold water and allow them to drain.
Makes about 2 cups of spätzle.
When ready to eat Spätzle mit Eier, melt the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the spätzle and cook until lightly browned, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. To poach eggs, fill a heavy saucepan with enough water to cover eggs (3 to 4 inches) and heat until very hot and simmering, but not boiling. Break eggs into individual small dishes. Or you can use an egg poacher. Carefully pour the first egg into the simmering water. Immediately use a wooden spoon to wrap the cooking white around the egg yolk to prevent the white from feathering. Repeat the process with the second egg, and cook for about four minutes, until the white is firm but the yolk is still soft. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and drain. Trim edges if necessary.
Divide the spätzle into two equal portions. Top each portion with a poached egg. Add salt and pepper and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve immediately.
Makes 2 servings.
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Almost Everything by Joëlle Jolivet.
What are you into? What does your kid like? Maybe it’s suits of armor. Or trains. Or maybe you are working on learning different kinds of fruit. Heck, maybe boat-shaped Batak houses are what’s cool with kids these days. Regardless, the aptly-titled book Almost Everything probably covers it.
Almost Everything is a huge (12×18”) picture book which features big, bold, bright, colorful images of, well, almost everything. Two giant pages featuring trees and flowers from around the world; two pages dedicated to the human body. Flip the page to find a huge spread of period costumes from across the globe. It goes on and on. It’s really quite impressive. There are other books in the series, including one all about animals and another about costumes/clothing from the world around.
I only have two warnings: this book is so big (two feet across when open) that kids want to sit right on it. We have torn a few pages this way. Second: if you are going to read this book in bed, you better have a very big bed. Happy reading!
Post by Mark T. Locker.
Today is Friday! All the visiting family have dissipated and the missus is going out so it’s going to be a nice, quiet father-son evening in the Locker household tonight. I’m looking forward to lounging on a large pile of couch cushions on the floor, maybe enjoying some homemade pizza, and watching Ponyo with the kiddo. Technically, this is a Disney film, but only technically. Ponyo is another offering from the only anime creator I love, Hayao Miyazaki, also known for Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke and may others. Like all his movies, it’s a little bit magical, a little bit weird. Like many, it deals with the collision of the spiritual/natural world and that of humans.
Ponyo is a little fish girl who lives with her father and siblings deep in the ocean. Driven by a desire to explore, she finds herself trapped in a bottle by the shore. A little boy named Sōsuke discovers her and names her Ponyo. Little does he know this little fish is a magical girl. When her dad has Ponyo returned, she refuses to stay and goes back to Sōsuke, only in human form. There is so much more that happens and my meager summary would not do it justice. Just go watch it. Try not to get pizza crumbs on the couch cushions.