09 June 2009


Paella (with title)
Susan once told me over at Twitter that she imagined I wasn't a problem child and gave my parents no headaches. That's probably true... To some extent. I didn't hang around the kids in my neighborhood (plenty of cousins to keep me entertained), didn't get to any fights, and was quite content to stay indoors and draw away on my sketchpads, and a bunch of other introverted hobbies like origami or listening to music.

The Beatles's, specifically Ringo Starr's Octopus's Garden. So cute! I would play it for you on the piano but it's just me goofing around and freestyling.

But what they didn't know was during the school-year (this was in elementary/primary school), I'd ask them to stay behind later at school so I could hang out with my friends. That wasn't prohibited, but I knew if they knew what I spent my time doing was straying a few blocks outside the campus to play video games, they'd put the kibosh on it. Not that playing video games wasn't allowed, but they would've probably died of fright if they knew I was outside the four walls of the school. A little justified given the area outside a school would be where most predators would hang out, but I didn't care much.

It was a great feeling to hang out with friends and kick butt in Street Fighter 2 or Mortal Kombat (or a game I always insisted on playing but in hindsight, was pretty terrible: World Heroes). I wasn't really enjoying defying my parents (much less lying to them), but for an hour after school most days, I could be nearly care-free (imagine that? Schoolwork is a care! Oh little Mark, if I could tell you what I know now!) and just do regular boy stuff. Besides, it's not like my grades slipped even a little.
Origami Nautilus
What was funniest about it is that these shops weren't doing anything illegal (they were renting out use of Super Nintendoes), but they had to be so dimly lit it gave that impression of danger! It's not like they were handing out drugs to kids. There were truants hanging around, cheering on the best fighters. I felt like I was so cool! And just recently, nearly 15 years after I graduated elementary school, I was at a mall in New Jersey where young people were having an official Street Fighter 4 tournament, trash-talking and cheering on the challengers. I smiled. You guys aren't even that good, I thought to myself.

... So, what kinds of naughtiness did you enjoy when you were a kid? :)
Origami Murex
Anyway. The two pieces I folded above are from Origami Sea Life by the ridiculously talented Robert Lang. The chambered Nautilus looks really simple but it is a pain in the butt to fold, because it retains the logarithmic spiral and the basic 3D structure of an actual Nautilus. The next one is a poorly folded Cattleya orchid (the paper I used was too thick and small).
Origami Cattleya
Anemone diagram
And someone requested the diagram for the Anemone I folded in an earlier post, and it's a little tricky but with some experience, it's quite easy to fold.
Paella (top)
Paella adapted from C I
While my friends told me it was good and so did my parents, I didn't particularly enjoy this. A measly can of diced tomatoes just does not have enough sweetness and "oomph" to really flavor this much rice. I prefer things to be on the sweeter, spicier side, so I would probably go for a big can of tomato sauce next time (this thing, not ketchup, you Aussies) instead.

  • 750g (3 cups) chicken broth

  • pinch saffron threads, crumbled

  • 1 dried bay leaf

  • 411g (14.5oz can) diced tomatoes

  • olive oil

  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut lengthwise into 1cm (1/2 inch) wide strips

  • 450g (1 pound) chicken thighs, halved crosswise

  • 225g (8oz) chorizo, sliced 1cm (1/2 inch) thick

  • 1 medium onion, chopped finely

  • 9 garlic cloves, minced

  • 290g (2 cups) Valencia or Arborio rice

  • 80g (1/3 cup) dry white wine

  • 450g (1 pound) extra large shrimp (21/25)

  • 12 mussels, scrubbed and debearded (couldn't find these so near New Year's, darn. So I hacked two crabs in half and placed them in with the shrimp)

  • 70g (1/2 cup) thawed frozen peas

  • small handful fresh parsley leaves, chopped

  • lemon wedges

To the container of chicken broth or in a medium bowl, add the saffron, bay leaf, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the broth and set aside. Drain the diced tomatoes, mince, and then drain them again. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). In a large Dutch oven or paella pan, heat 2 teaspoons olive oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then add the peppers and toss until the skin is blistered and has black spots. Transfer the peppers to a plate. In the same pan, add 1 teaspoon olive oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the chicken pieces and cook untouched until well-browned, then turn and brown the other side. Transfer the chicken to a plate. In the same pan, cook the chorizo until browned (about 5 minutes). Transfer the pieces to the plate with chicken.

Reduce the heat to medium and add enough olive oil so the pan contains 2 tablespoons of fat. Heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook until softened. Add the garlic and cook until you can smell its aroma. Add the tomatoes and cook until thickened and darkened, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat the grains. Add the
seasoned chicken broth and wine, and stir. Add the chicken and chorizo and bring to a boil uncovered, stirring occasionally. Cover the paella pan or dutch oven and transfer it to the oven. Cook until the rice absorbs nearly all the liquid, about 15 minutes. Uncover the pan, scatter the shrimp and mussels (hinge down), bell pepper and peas, then cover and return to the oven. Cook until the shrimp is opaque and mussels have opened, about 10 minutes. Discard any mussels that have not opened.

Uncover the pan and return it over a medium-high flame. Cook for 5 minutes, rotating the pan 180° halfway through. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve with lemon wedges.
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You may also want to check out Joey's post on Paella!

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