Wednesday, November 09, 2011

This is the last message I'll be posting on Blogger.  After some frustrating experiences with this service, I've decided to move Aspartamed over to Tumblr.

Here are directions to the new place:

You can read about why I made this choice at my latest post, Why I Left Blogger: A Breakup Story.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Fright Night, everyone!  Here's my Halloween roundup.

Eyes in Slow Motion

This has been going around the internets lately—it's a great celebration of everyday uncanniness that is perfect for Halloween.

Billy Cosby — Chicken Heart

A spooky tale from my all-time favorite storyteller, Bill Cosby.

Part 1

Part 2

It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Because no holiday is complete without a morality play staring our favorite blanket-wielding do-gooder, Linus van Pelt.

But seriously, love this movie.

Rotting Pumpkin Time Lapse

Maybe more appropriate for a first week of November post?

Happy Halloween!

It's still not too late to carve up a jack-o-lantern and bake some Spiced Pumpkin Seeds.  Yum!

Stay safe, everyone.  See you in November!

Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

Sunday, October 23, 2011

If you're a pumpkin-carving type like me, than you should try making these tasty Spiced Pumpkin Seeds.  Just save the seeds from the pumpkin pulp for a delicious, healthy(ish) snack.

Also pictured is the Happ-O-Lantern (Team effort by Kelsey and I).

Spiced Pumpkin Seeds (adapted from

Mix in a bowl
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 1/2 tsp seasoned salt
  • 1/8 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
Add and stir until coated
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
Remove pumpkin seeds to baking dish.
Bake at 275 F for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Pumpkin Trivia

Did you know that the average pumpkin has 500 seeds?!  More pumpkin trivia, courtesy of the History Channel:

Best Challah

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

This one comes from my grandfather's kitchen—he does a lot of baking, but he advised me that this was the best challah recipe he's ever made.

I'm used to making the Joy of Cooking challah, however I can confirm that this one tastes better. And while it is a little more work I think it's definitely worth it!

Best Challah (from The Silver Palate Cookbook)

  • 2 c milk
  • 6 tbsp sweet butter
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 6 c unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c cornmeal
  • 1 tbsp cold water
  1. Bring milk, butter, and sugar to a boil. (I use a double boiler to avoid burning the milk)
  2. Remove from heat, pour into a large mixing bowl. Let cool to lukewarm, 105-110 F.
  3. Stir yeast into milk mixture, let stand 10 minutes.
  4. Beat 3 eggs well in small bowl. Stir eggs and salt into milk-yeast mixture.
  5. Stir in 5 cups flour, one cup at a time, until you achieve a sticky dough. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface.
  6. Sprinkle flour over dough, begin kneading, adding more flour as necessary until you have a smooth, elastic dough. (Remember to coat hands with flour, this helps with the mess)
  7. Grease the inside of a large bowl (with butter, shortening, or cooking spray), add ball of dough, turning to coat it lightly with oil, cover bowl loosely with towel (or plastic wrap) and set aside until tripled in bulk, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  8. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Cut into halves, cut each half into thirds. Roll thirds out into "snakes" about 18 inches long. Braid into two loaves, tuck ends under.
  9. Sprinkle large baking sheet with cornmeal, transfer loaves to sheet. Leave room between loaves for them to rise. Cover loaves with towel (or plastic wrap) and let rise until nearly doubled, about 1 hour.
  10. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  11. Beat 1 egg with 1 tbsp cold water together. Brush egg wash over loaves.
  12. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown and sounds hollow when bottoms are tapped.
  13. Cool completely on racks before wrapping.
Enjoy warm, but allow loaves to cool completely before wrapping. 

Recommend serving with butter and honey. Also makes excellent french toast!

Call Me Professor

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My blog has been quiet for a few weeks as I have been adjusting to my new part-time position as Adjunct Professor at a private liberal arts college in New Jersey. I've had so much fun coming up with lesson plans and lectures for my course, Introduction to Psychology. This was one of my very favorite classes as a psyc major, so being able to teach it myself is quite special. And I'm not gonna lie to you, after spending the last six years in college, being called "Professor" is unexpectedly cool.

A photo of me teaching1

I feel very fortunate to have a job that I enjoy—especially after the Summer of Unemployment (hereinafter referred to as the "Darkness"). While I'm still trying to find another part-time job to pay the bills, I'm much more optimistic than I was before.

I realize that real life has gotten in the way of my blogging, and while I'm not terribly distressed about that I do find myself missing this little creative outlet. In the coming days and weeks I will try to find time to post here more often.

You can expect more of the odd and interesting diversions that I stumble upon and reshare, the occasional life update, and even a recipe or two (I've been busy in the kitchen lately, so stay tuned). I'll probably create posts that reflect my adventures as a naive psychology professor, too.

And on that note, I'll leave you with a brief but fascinating demonstration.

The Bouba/Kiki Effect

Consider the following shapes:

Tell me, which of these shapes is named bouba and which one is kiki?

Odds are you're one the of 98% who identify the curvy figure on the right as bouba and the pointy figure on the left as kiki. This demonstrates a strange effect first discovered in 1929 by psychologist Wolfgang K√∂hler. As it turns out, regardless of culture or native language, just about everyone identifies these two figures the same way.

The Bouba/Kiki Effect illustrates how the human brain can extract abstract properties from simple phonetic sounds that are otherwise meaningless. Many believe this ability is vital to the development of language, symbolic thought, and ultimately consciousness, which are the very qualities which seem to separate humans from other species.

You can read more about bouba and kiki at Wikipedia.

1Not of photo of me teaching. This is actually a photo of me teaching.2
2Honestly? I probably look more like this when I teach.

Starlings: God's Screensaver

Monday, August 22, 2011

Starlings are one of many species which exhibit swarm behavior.  In swarming species, emergent behaviors arise from relatively simple rules, like each starling adjusting to the average position and speed of the handful of birds around it.