Friday, August 15, 2008

Thai Cooking Class

Thursday night I attended my first-ever Thai cooking class with our neighbor and friend, Karen. One would think she wouldn't need such a class--with her extensive first-hand experience with Thai, Cambodian, and Lao cuisine, she could have easily and gracefully stepped in for the instructor and taken over, but she didn't. Rather, the class was just a great opportunity to be with other foodies (Karen found the class through the Albuquerque Foodies group on, and to better understand ingredients used in Thai cooking, not to mention enjoy a fabulous, well-prepared meal all for only $25.

The class took place at Albuquerque's Talin Market, an international grocery store that I've watched grow from a dingy hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese convenience store to one of the best international markets I've ever visited. The aisles at Talin now boast exotic ingredients and produce from all over Europe, Asia, Latin America and the Carribean.

As far as I can remember from my first stint in Albuquerque many moons ago (Talin opened in 1978), it was the place to go for strange ingredients required for recipes I'd concoct from obscure Asian cookbooks I picked up in used bookstores near UNM. Once I wandered two or three small aisles of foreign labels, whiffs of putrid aromas, and cluttered shelves, I'd find my prized bottle of fish sauce, usually caked with a quarter-inch of dust.

Now, Talin is an enormous, pleasant, well organized store with a modern production kitchen upstairs for demonstrations and classes. While they didn't serve wine with our delicious meal, it was restaurant-quality and authentic. We even ate our sticky rice by hand by rolling it into small balls and dipping it into chili paste, Lao style.

We made tom yum goong (spicy, tangy shrimp soup), som tam (papaya salad), and, my favorite of the evening, eggplant and shrimp salad. Two things I learned from the class: it matters which kind of eggplant you use (Chinese and Japanese eggplants are far more tender and less bitter than traditional, larger eggplants), and the trick to ordering or planning a perfect Thai meal is to balance the four key flavors of Thai cuisine: sweet, sour, salty, and spicy. If you have too much of one or two over the others, the meal could be cloying or generally just less exciting.

Thanks for inviting me to take the class Karen! It was truly a treat.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Technical Difficulties

We've been trying to publish blog posts all week, since Jon's third article went live on MatterNetwork and we judged the parade for the Bosque Farms Fair, but we've experienced technical difficulties with Blogger. You can now catch up on our busy lives below!

On the Road Again

Travel has picked up again for work, so I'll be on the go the next month:

Next week - Phoenix for a quarterly sales meeting

Aug 18-21 - Chicago for a customer meeting with General Growth Properties, one of the biggest mall and mixed use developers in the US. Then on to the Constructech awards dinner, where a couple of Autodesk home building customers will accept awards for using innovative technology to thrive in an economic downturn (ahem...that would be Autodesk technology. Shameless plug).

Aug 25-29 - San Francisco for an Autodesk quarterly marketing meeting (I promise to try to visit everyone possible, but won't have a rental car, so whoever wants to come meet me in the City--come on up!)

Sept 8-11 - Las Vegas for Autodesk's mid-year sales meeting

Bon voyage!


US swimmer Michael Phelps won the gold last night and set a new world record! Go USA! We're off to an exciting, yet tragic, Olympiad....

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Article #3 in Our Article Series on Farming: Reining in the Rain

This month, Jon writes about harvesting rain water on our property for We've already received an encouraging email from a denizen of Delaware who just began to harvest rain from his suburban home with a couple of 55-gallon tanks, but, inspired by Jon's article, is now looking into more sophisticated rain catchment systems to capture more water. As his email states, "why didn't we all think of this simple solution earlier?" Amen, brotha.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Judging the Bosque Farms Parade

First we were hipsters, now we're just hicks.

Jon and I were persuaded to judge the 61st Annual Bosque Farms parade, which runs just in front of our house each year. This was our first year watching it, and our realtor, a Bosque Farms Fair organizer, talked us into judging for prizes. We were reluctant at first, but we really enjoyed being involved.

Our realtor also roped in a couple of other newcomers to the neighborhood, so we made some new friends, Jeff and Jordan. Jeff spoke at the Village Council meeting a few weeks ago against the proposed zone change to allow a franchise assisted living facility to be developed on one of the beautiful farms in our neighborhood--when commercially zoned property is already available just a few lots away. He was the self-professed youngest guy in the room at the Village meeting, and he spoke persuasively and eloquently. We were happy to have the chance to meet him and his wife Jordan as fellow parade judges.

We forced our friend Karen to judge as well, as she was visiting from Georgia for the weekend. Poor Karen had no idea she'd be put to work during her stay (and neither did we), but she seemed to enjoy the parade. Our friends and neighbors Jerry and Karen also stopped by to heckle us. It was a breakfast party bonanza!

The best part about judging was the bribes. One of our neighbors showed up in the morning with a bag of tortilla chips and samples of her salsa and guacamole that she entered into the chile contest later that day, along with a homemade "Judges" sign (with an unintentionally backwards "J")made by her kids, who were in the parade. She wanted to make sure we voted for them in the Best Motorized Float category. The salsa was delicious....

Possibly the toughest category for us to judge was "Best Tractor". Our realtor warned us that the good ol' boys take this category very seriously, so we had to use our absolute best judgment. It was tough since at first glance they were all just green John Deere tractors, but as we looked more closely, each one exhibited its own utility and grace. We unanimously voted for the tractor performing a service by keeping its scooper lowered and picking up after the horses in the parade, although I really liked the old antique tractor.

We wrapped up the afternoon by attending the fair at the rodeo grounds down the street, marvelling at the enormous vegetables and handy crafts people entered for prizes. We also watched the Bosque Farms Fair Queen contest, where 12-16 year old girls handled their horses better than we could ever hope to drive a car. I missed the ladies' rolling pin throwing contest, but promised my realtor's husband that he could coach my throwing arm for next year.

It was a great taste of Village culture, and it was nice to be part of such a tight-knit community. Apparently the fair and parade are a huge deal in these parts, and we feel honored to have been a part of them.