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2010-04-24 07:52 am
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Belated Food Revolution Friday Post

For the past few weeks, I've been watching Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution on TV. Only now did I discover (thanks to [livejournal.com profile] sassy_red_head ) that food bloggers have started Food Revolution Fridays -- a fantastic idea!

Although mine is not a food blog, I thought I'd jump in anyways and share something I made last Wednesday: Ratatouille. This is one of those recipes that takes a little bit of time to set up but all the steps are super easy. Basically, just chop a bunch of ingredients and add them, one at a time, to the pot. What's better is that all of the ingredients are easy to find at the supermarket -- nothing weird, esoteric, or expensive.

Also, the proportions can be easily adjusted. This recipe is from The Professional Chef, which lists the ingredients by weight. I just estimated the amounts and it still turned out wonderfully. Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo to add to my growing collection.

Ratatouille
(Serves 10)

Ingredients:
  • Olive oil
  • 340g medium-dice onions (I used three small-ish onions)
  • 21g garlic, minced (I used about 3 cloves)
  • 28g tomato paste (I used half of a small 6oz can)
  • 113 g medium-dice green pepper (I used 2 small-medium ones)
  • 454g medium-dice eggplant (I used one eggplant, and diced it a little smaller than the other ingredients)
  • 340g zucchini (I bought 3 small ones so I used them all, but 2 is probably enough)
  • 170g sliced white mushrooms
  • 227g tomatoes, peeled,seeded and diced (I didn't bother to peel or seed the three I used)
  • 120mL vegetable stock, or as needed (I used closer to 175mL)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • freshly chopped herb, such as basil, parsley or oregano as garnish (I skipped this)
  1. In large pot, heat oil over medium heat (just enough to cover bottom of pot, usually about 30-50 mL). Add onions and cook until translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until soft, about 1 minute.
  2. Turn down heat to medium-low. Add tomato paste and cook until it coasts the onions and develops a deeper colour, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Add the other vegetables in the following order, cooking each vegetable for 2-3 minutes (until it softens) before adding the next:
    • peppers
    • eggplant
    • zucchini
    • mushrooms
    • tomatoes
  4. Add vegetable stock and turn heat down to low, allowing vegetables to stew. Stew until vegetables are tender. Vegetables should be moist but not soupy. Season with salt and pepper, optionally garnish with herbs, and serve immediately with crusty bread.
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2010-02-20 09:37 pm
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French Onion Soup: The Master Recipe (so far)

Right now, we're watching one of my favourite sports: speed skating. Although I've never tried it, I love watching both long track and short track events. To prepare, we went out on the Rideau Canal this morning, followed by breakfast at The Lieutenant's Pump.

I was looking to make an easy soup or stew tonight, while we watched the Olympic skaters. I just picked up Fine Cooking's recent "Soups and Stews" supplement and decided to make the cover recipe, French Onion Soup. However, I decided to make a few modifications based on my former recipe from the Best of Bridge series. The result was pretty good. I'm sure we'll continue to refine it further but so far this appears to be the best of both worlds.

French Onion Soup

Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 4 medium/large yellow onions (about 8 cups), thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt (or regular salt) and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup cooking sherry
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 demi baguette
  • 2 L beef broth (I buy two 900mL PC Organics beef broth containers and add water to top them up to 2L)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Gruyère cheese, grated
  1. Melt the butter in a 4-quart pot (or larger) over medium heat. Add the sliced onions, 1 tsp of salt and a few grinds of pepper. Reduce heat to low and press a piece of foil onto the onions to cover them completely, then cover the pot with a lid. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 40 to 50 minutes, until the onions are very soft but not falling apart.
  2. Remove lid and foil and raise heat to medium high. Add the sherry and cook, stirring often, until the onions are deeply browned, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, toast baguette slices (enough to cover serving bowls, about 3-4 per bowl). They can be toasted in the oven at 350F for 15 to 20 minutes (turning once). In a pinch, they can also be toasted in a toaster (watch your fingers when taking them out! It's like a game of Operation!).
  4. Add the broth, Worcestershire sauce, and a bay leaf to the onions. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer to 10 minutes. Discard bay leaf and season with salt and pepper (easy on the salt -- you probably won't need any with the Worcestershire sauce anyways).
  5. Turn on the oven's broiler. Ladle soup into broiler-proof bowls, float slices of toasted baguette on top and sprinkle grated Gruyère cheese over top. Put under the boiler until the cheese is melted and serve immediately.

(Worcestershire sauce and cooking sherry are from the recipe from "Winners" in the Best of the Bridge series. The Fine Cooking recipe included 1 tsp of sugar instead of sherry.)
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2009-11-23 11:26 pm
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Weeknight Baked Ravioli

Not the healthiest or the fanciest but tonight, when we were short on time, it did the trick. Super easy. I think The Missus found it in a Kraft flyer or something.

Baked Ravioli

Ingredients:
  • 700 mL jar of pasta (tomato) sauce
  • 398 can of diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • spicy sausages (we used 6, but 4 would be enough)
  • 1 kg frozen ravioli
  • lots of grated cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Chop up the sausage and brown on all sides in a pan (but not quite cooked through).
  2. While the sausage is cooking, mix the pasta sauce, diced tomatoes and water in a bowl.
  3. Spread 1 cup of sauce mixture on bottom of 13x9 dish. Place 1/2 the ravioli on top with 1/2 of the sausage, and cover with 1 cup of the grated cheese. Add a second layer by adding remaining ravioli and sausage, then cover with remaining sauce and cheese.
  4. Cover dish with foil and put in oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and put it back in for another 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. Let sit for 10 minutes then serve with grated parmesan.
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2009-11-10 09:17 pm
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Salad for Dinner

It seems like we've been eating more meat and junk food than usual over the past few weeks. Perhaps it was the cooler weather that encouraged our bodies to stock up on calories for winter but whatever the cause, it didn't feel too healthy. So last night I dug out a Fine Cooking magazine from earlier this year that had a section with heartier salad recipes for dinnertime meals. There were four dishes: one with chicken, one with salmon, one with steak, and one with couscous cakes. To avoid meat entirely, I made the couscous cake salad and it was a definite hit. It was easy and, apart from making the cakes themselves, most of the other steps could be changed or skipped.

Takes no time at all and is a good, quick, and adaptable weeknight meal.

Spinach and Artichoke Salad with Couscous Cakes and Feta

Ingredients:
  • 2/3 cup couscous
  • salt
  • 1 large clove of garlic, peeled
  • 1/4 parsley
  • 1/2 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • zest of one medium lemon
  • 3 Tbps. vegetable or canola oil
  • 8oz (about 6 cups) baby spinach
  • one 14oz can of artichoke "bottoms" or "quarters" (not hearts), drained and rinsed (and sliced, if you have time; we like them as-is from the can as bigger chunks)
  • 15 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta
  • salt and pepper
  1. Follow directions to make couscous. For me, that meant bringing 1 cup of water to a boil, then adding the couscous and 1 tsp of salt, covering the pan, and removing it from the heat. Let sit for 4-5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, put garlic clove in food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add parsley and pulse until finely chopped. Add chickpeas and 1 tsp salt and pulse until coarsely chopped.
  3. Uncover couscous, fluff with fork and add chickpea mixture, eggs and lemon zest. Combine well. Press mixture in 1/4 cups measure, smooth the top, and invert the "cake" onto a plate or cutting board. Should make about 9 cakes.
  4. Heat 1.5 Tbsp of veg/canola oil in large skillet over medium heat until shimmering hot. Add 5 of the cakes to the skillet and lightly flatten with spatula. Cook, flipping once, until crisp and golden brown on both sides. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and do the second batch (add a bit of extra oil to the skillet first).
  5. In a large bowl, toss spinach, artichokes, tomatoes and dressing (the dressing provided in the recipe was only so-so; use whatever you like). Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide among 3 plates. Top each salad with 3 couscous cakes and sprinkle each plate with feta. Serves 3 regular people, or 2 famished people.
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2009-05-31 08:59 am
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Fettuccine with Arugula-Walnut Pesto

I made this last night because it looked quick and easy. It was exactly that. The Missus, who is a big fan of regular pesto (with basil) liked it, too. We'd make it again but with a bit less oil (I've adjusted the quantities here):

Fettuccine with Arugula-Walnut Pesto

Ingredients:

  • About 3 cups (roughly 4 oz) of arugula
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (plus extra for sprinkling)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (original recipe called for 1/2 cup)
  • 1/6 cup walnut oil (original recipe called for 1/4 cup)
  • 450 g dried fettuccine
  1. Put large pot of salted water on to boil.
  2. Meanwhile, put all but the last three ingredients listed above in a food processor (arugula, Parmigiano-Reggiano, walnuts, lemon juice, garlic, and salt). Process until finely ground, about 30 to 60 seconds.
  3. In a measuring cup, fill to 1/3 cup mark with olive oil, then top up to 1/2 cup mark with walnut oil. If you don't have walnut oil, you can just use olive oil on its own.
  4. With food processor running, drizzle the oil through the feed tube and process until pesto is smooth.
  5. Cook fettuccine in boiling water until al dente, drain, and serve. Coat with pesto and sprinkle extra Parmigiano-Reggiano on top.

Taken from "Make it Tonight" (The Best of Fine Cooking).
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2009-05-18 07:38 am
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Sangria

This is the best Sangria recipe that we've put together so far. We made it on Saturday for the first time this year to kick off the summer, and will make it again when we have company next weekend.

Before you start, make sure your jug is large enough to contain all of the ingredients (minus the Ginger Ale).

Sangria

Ingredients:
  • 1.5 L of red wine - we generally buy a cheap Cabernet Sauvignon.
  • 1 apple (we use a Golden Delicious)
  • 1 large orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 pint of stawberries
  • 1 cup sugar.
  • 2-3 shots of brandy
  • Ginger ale (we get a 2L bottle, even if it's a bit too much)
  1. Slice the fruit and place in jug. Pour in sugar and brandy, and half of the wine. Mix with large spoon to help dissolve the sugar and pour in remaining wine.
  2. Refrigerate overnight (18-24 hours) in the jug.
  3. Serve in large globe wine glasses (sometimes called "balloon wine glass") by ladling fruit and wine mixture into glass, then adding ginger ale. We usually have roughly 60% wine and fruit, and 40% ginger ale in each glass.
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2009-05-05 10:01 pm
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Grilled Wraps and Potato Wedges

We made two recipes from Rose Reisman's The Complete Light Kitchen for dinner and it lasted for three nights (well, we made a 1/2 recipe fo the potato wedges on the 3rd night). Highly recommended (especially if you love avocados as much as we do).
Recipes )
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2009-05-03 11:25 am

Say It Ain't So

Don Newman, host of CBC's Politics, is set to retire.

Of course, you can relive the time-keeping magic with the DVD Box Set:




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2009-04-23 02:06 pm
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Mexican Night

Last night, we whipped up a Mexican meal. We made a quick chili recipe from a supplement of Fine Cooking magazine called Make it Tonight (The Best of Fine Cooking). The chili is pictured on the cover.

The toping for the chili recipe includes avocados. Because the recipe only calls for one and I had bought five, we needed to put the others to use in another recipe. So we whipped up some guacamole from our increasingly indispensable Mexican Cookbook. I also quickly put together a double recipe of the Pico de Gallo Salsa from the same book, which I make often. I've included these two recipes under the cut.

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2009-03-28 11:35 am
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Soy Milk in Scrambled Eggs and Quiche Recipe

One of our guests isn't drinking cow's milk, so we had to try our recipes with soy milk. Last weekend, we tried making scrambled eggs with it and were very pleasantly surprised. When I initially added the dash of soy milk, the egg mixture didn't smell quite right. However, as they cooked in the pan, the soy smell disappeared...and the texture was amazing!

So, here's the quiche recipe (using soy milk). Dieters, avert your eyes. (Also, temperatures assume a glass pie plate; add about 25 F for non-glass).


Quiche Lorraine with Hash Brown "Crust"

Ingredients:
  • 3 large potatoes
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 1/4 cup salted butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 and 1/4 cup soy milk
  • pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 5 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 3/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese
  • 1 green onion, finely chopped
  1. Boil potatoes until partially cooked (about 12-15 minutes). Drain and slice thinly.
  2. Heat oil in large pan. Cook potatoes slices until slightly browned (not too much!), about 10 minutes.
  3. Mix browned potatoes with butter. Spread potato slices along bottom of 9.5 inch pie plate and compact with a fork. Cook in oven for 15 minutes at 400 F.
  4. While potatoes are in the oven, beat together eggs, soy milk, and pepper.
  5. Remove potatoes from oven and very lightly brush them with dijon (should be barely visible). Place filling (bacon, cheese, and onion) on top of potatoes, then pour egg mixture over top. Cook in oven at 350 F for 30 to 35 minutes. The quiche is done when a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  6. Let sit for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Tomato and Leek Filling
  • Follow above recipe for Quiche Lorraine, but skip dijon and substitute 284g (10oz) tomato concassé and 227g (8oz) leeks for the bacon and green onions.
  • Sauté white and light green parts of leeks until translucent. Add tomatoes and cook until liquid evaporates. Add 2 tbsp minced basil.

Smoked Salmon and Dill Filling
  • Follow above recipe for Quiche Lorraine, but skip dijon and substitute 113g (4oz) diced smoked salmon for bacon and green onions, and 57g (2 oz) cream cheese (cut into small pieces) for Swiss cheese. Add 2 tbsp chopped dill and 1 tbsp snipped chives.
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2009-03-27 10:49 pm
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Brunch Quiche, Test Run

We're having some people over for brunch on Sunday (two friends and their newborn daughter, all the way from Cold Lake, Alberta, and two other couples). We spent part of the last weekend putting together a menu but we weren't sure about the quiche recipes that we had selected.

The Missus mashed a few of those recipes together today to come up with an amazing breakfast quiche. In short, instead of making them in pie crusts, you line the pans with hash browns. To do this, we took the basic recipe for hash browns from The Professional Chef, and then the recipes for the fillings from The Professional Chef and The Canadian Living Cookbook. Tonight we tested the bacon and Swiss cheese filling. On Sunday, we'll also have two other quiches: smoked salmon and dill, and tomato and leek. Once we've put our notes in order, I'll post the completed recipe here.

We'll also be serving Bellinis, which we tried last May when my mother and grandmother were over for Mother's Day. Easy, delicious, bubbly, and acceptable to drink before noon:

Bellini
In a regular wine glass, pour a dash of grenadine, two measures of peach juice, then four measures of chilled champagne or sparkling wine (we use cheapish sparkling wine). Float one or two raspberries in each glass.

For a non-alcoholic version, substitute the champagne or sparkling wine with ginger ale.
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2009-03-13 03:43 pm
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De la carretera a la cocina

Drove back to Ottawa yesterday.

Best (in fact only) personalized license plate spotted: "GOES A2B"
Best bumper sticker spotted: "At least the War on the Environment is going well."

Got home to find The Missus almost in tears after a bad day at work. Despite that, she had bought me some nachos, salsa, and guacamole. Inspired by that, I decided to save them and put together a Mexican meal for us tonight:
  • Appetizer: Nachos
  • Main Course: Spicy Broiled Salmon (marinated in adobo sauce)
  • Side: Rice with lime
  • Beverages: Corona (with lime wedges)
Recipes )
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2009-03-10 10:31 pm

The New Overheard at Western!

I was sad to see a "goodbye" message posted on the Overheard at Western blog this past February. It kept me sane at some points last year.

However, while compiling a post for my other blog about Western's MLIS program, I visited the site again and saw that a new blog has taken OAW's place: Eavesdrop Western!


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2009-03-06 09:42 am

Knopf on Cohen and Ticketmaster

Howard Knopf, intellectual property lawyer, has an excellent post about Leonard Cohen and the Ticketmaster fiasco:

"Cohen will see none of the obscene mark up of several hundred per cent. Even on the face value of a ticket, Cohen would see only a fraction of the proceeds after the concert hall, his management etc. are done with him. Once again, everyone profits on the back of the artist.

(...)
The real tragedy here is that Leonard Cohen is the one who deserves to retire with some comfort and to retain a significant amount of what the public is willing to pay to see him perform. He is being cheated of that. Once again, the real creator and the general public are the victims of a corporate controlled system, over which Federal officials are reluctant to exercise even basic oversight."


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2009-03-04 09:07 am

Roll up the Rim

My entrepreneurship prof asked us a good question last week: "Why does Roll up the Rim begin around this time of year?" I honestly didn't know.

The answer: Lent. They don't want anyone giving up Tim Horton's for 40 days.
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2009-02-20 09:41 pm
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Cheese Fondue, with a French Onion Soup Twist

I picked out a fondue recipe from a book my brother gave me years ago. I love French onion soup and this recipe was inspired by it. From the book:

"Are you one of those people (like me) whose favorite part of a bowl of French onion soup is the melted cheese on top?"

Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup beef stock (we just used Campbell's beef broth and it worked fine for our purposes)
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 pound Gruyere cheese, shredded (discard rind)
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon Cognac or brandy (we used just the basic St. Remy brandy)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 and 1/2 fresh thyme)
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1. In medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion and cook until dark golden brown (about 10 minutes). Add wine, stock, and vinegar then bring to a simmer.
  2. In medium bowl, toss cheese with flour. Add cheese to onion mixture in saucepan one handful at a time, stirring first addition until melted before adding the next. Allow fondue to bubble slightly a few times but do not bring to a boil.
  3. Stir in Cognac (or brandy) and thyme, then season with pepper.
  4. Transfer to fondue pot and keep warm over burner.
  5. Dip bread cubes from a bagette and/or slices of apple (tossed with lemon juice, to prevent browning)
The Missus loved it. Absolutely loved it. So did I (I mean, it's French onion soup in fondue form - what's not to like?).

The recipe says it gives 4 to 6 servings. That's a lie. It makes two servings. Trying to share this amount with more than two or three people will result in a fistfight.
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2009-02-18 08:38 pm
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Another Quick + Easy Weeknight Recipe

Tonight I made a new recipe that was a hit with The Missus and her mother. I got it from an issue of Fine Cooking magazine from last year.
Took a bit of time in the oven, but prep was easy as can be - very few ingredients and very little chopping.

Chicken with Lemon and Green Olives

Ingredients:
  • 6 chicken legs (quarters, not just drumsticks)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt, Dried Thyme, Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/2 cup green olives, unpitted
  • 1 lemon
  1. Heat oven to 425 F (recipe calls for 450 F, but it doesn't call for a glass dish, which I used. I find glass dishes heat the food a bit more quickly, so I lowered the temperature slightly).
  2. In a small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. This is the marinade.
  3. Lightly coat a 9 x 13 inch glass dish with olive oil (only need a very little bit - the marinade will compensate).
  4. Place 6 chicken legs in dish and rub marinade (Step 1) on the chicken legs with your hands.
  5. Place chicken in oven for 20 minutes.
  6. While chicken is in oven, put 1/2 cup of unpitted green olives in a small bowl.
  7. Slice the ends off the lemon, cut in half, then slice half-moons of roughly 1/8 inch thick (I sliced mine a little thicker). Add to bowl with olives and mix with a touch of olive oil.
  8. Once chicken has been in oven for 20 minutes (Step 5), spinkle olives and lemons into dish. Don't let them sit on top of the chicken; force them between the pieces. Try to keep the lemons away from the edges of the dish, as they may burn.
  9. Put chicken back in oven for roughly 20 minutes or until chicken is done (ours took about 25 minutes post-olive+lemon addition).
  10. Remove from oven, plate, and serve with a nice dry Riesling (and, in our case tonight, some lightly curried couscous with currants). Let guests know that the lemon rinds are edible and warn them that the olives are pitted.
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2009-02-11 02:36 pm

Authors Guild: Reading out loud is a violation of copyright law

Amazon's new Kindle 2 can read out loud. The Authors Guild isn't impressed, and claims that this violates copyright law. They say that this creates "an unlawful derivative work."

Time for some new lawyers, guys (hint: copyright only exists for expressions that are fixed in a physical medium; sound waves certainly don't count).

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2009-02-06 01:23 pm

Thursday

I had my cultural studies class yesterday morning and then drove back to Ottawa all afternoon.

Quote of the day: "I teach an undergraduate class of 300 seventeen-year olds. It provides a good cross-section of Western's blondest and wealthiest." (My cultural studies prof)

Only interesting license plate I saw on the road: "DON82CNIB" (When I passed that car, I gave it a wide berth, just in case).

Only interesting bumper sticker I saw on the road: "Jesus is coming. LOOK BUSY!"