Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Company Picnic, Paly Graduation, Hippie Food

On Saturday, we biked over to Menlo College, to attend my company's annual family picnic. It was a beautiful day. We ate some barbecue and bounced in a bouncy house for a little bit (I think this was my first time in a bouncy house, actually). There was a magician who told some bad jokes and had a real bunny! The kids seemed to like him. We played Bingo, and I almost won $50, but not quite. Here I am eating some corn with my eyes closed. Lovely, I know.

Enjoying some food

We weren't the only group at Menlo College. There was some sort of large summer camp, which involved groups of people walking around chanting and wearing funny oversized hats (wizard hats and big yellow cowboy hats, most notably). They also did a variety of relays, some with blindfolds. It's the kind of thing I would hate to do, but they seemed to be having a good time. We also had two shirtless guys stop by and mooch our food and watch the magic show. We're pretty sure they were college students. It was pretty ballsy of them to crash our company picnic, but it worked out in their favor.

Unfortunately, a large number of my coworkers turned up at work on Monday covered in itchy red spots. The going theory is that we held our picnic in the middle of a no-see-um mating area. Somehow, Patrick and I escaped unbitten. Not a fun way to end a company outing, but at least it gave people something to talk about!

On Sunday, we headed over to Stanford, where we thought we'd see Patrick's sister and the rest of the Paly senior class graduate. Shows what we know! It turns out that Sunday was just the Paly baccalaureate program, and today was the real graduation. The baccalaureate program wasn't too bad. There were some student musical performances, including an awesome one-man (plus piano) xylophone performance that blew us all away. Plus we got to hear James Franco (a Paly alum) address the graduating class. The girls were all very excited to have him as their speaker. It was a pretty good speech, but a little rambly in parts.

After the baccalaureate program, everybody filed outside to take pretend graduation pictures in front of the fountain. All of the graduates were dressed in full regalia, and I must admit that it was a better photo op than the actual graduation ceremony.

We attended the real ceremony at Paly this evening. It was a hot day, and there wasn't much shade, so Patrick and I sat outside the official graduation seating area, in the shade of one of the academic buildings. We snuck out pretty early on to grab some wraps for dinner, and luckily we made it back before Meg's name was called. We couldn't see much, but we cheered for her, and we congratulated her afterwards. Both of our little sisters are all grown up. We're so proud of them :) Oh, and yes--Paly's graduation had plenty of air-horn-wielding families. I guess California isn't any more sophisticated than Colorado.

We recently purchased the Firefly boxed set, as well as Serenity, to fulfill our Firefly nostalgia (if it can be called that, since we didn't even know about the show until after it was over). Once we've gotten through those DVDs, I'm kind of tempted to rewatch Buffy in its entirety (it would be quite an investment to buy all of those DVDs!). Or maybe Angel? Joss Whedon created such endearing characters. I miss them when the shows are over, as silly as that sounds. It's more likely that instead of a Whedon-fest, we'll join Netflix and watch all of Arrested Development or The Sopranos or some other show that we never got into that has a big following.

Since my yogurt adventures are taking longer than anticipated, I'm going to move my documentation to a dedicated yogurt entry instead of talking about it here. But you still get to read about granola! My latest batch of granola was based on the Classic Granola recipe from Cook's Illustrated. I think the name is appropriate. It's a very standard granola without any adventurous ingredients, but it's definitely good. I think I want a more remarkable granola recipe to call my own, but this is definitely a good, reliable granola recipe. Here is the granola atop some Yogurt #6 with a drizzle of honey, at Patrick's request.

yogurt and granola

I bought the ingredients for my granola at Country Sun in Palo Alto. I think this was my first visit to Country Sun. I had admired the smiling hippie sun for many years, but it always smelled like a vitamin store when we walked past, and it was closed the one time I actually tried to go in. But they were open when I stopped by on Tuesday, and I very much enjoyed my visit. They carry mostly organic foods, and their local items are well-labeled. They've got a pretty good variety of foods available in bulk. Their produce section looked decent, but the head of broccoli I bought was pretty sad-looking once I got it home and inspected it more carefully. That could have been an isolated incident though. I'll definitely go there again. It's the closest thing to a co-op we've got in these parts.

While at Country Sun, I also bought ingredients to make some super-healthy cookies from a cookbook I'd borrowed from my mom on our last visit (Smart Cookies--still in print, amazingly enough). My mom said that she made one recipe out of it when I was born, and then never used it again. That didn't bode well, but I decided to try a recipe anyway. I selected the High-Fiber Buckwheat Buckaroos (all of the cookies have similarly goofy names), as I was intrigued by the thought of putting uncooked buckwheat groats in cookies, and the recipe involved soy lecithin, which seemed like an exotic and exciting new ingredient.

Country Sun just happened to sell lecithin in bulk, so I didn't have to buy a whole canister of it, which is good, because I don't think I'm a fan of lecithin. In addition to baking with it, you're supposed to be able to sprinkle it on foods, but after trying a few granules, I wouldn't sprinkle it on anything. It doesn't have much flavor, but it coated the inside of my mouth with a lingering oily film. Yuckola.

buckwheat buckaroos

The lecithin texture is masked in the cookies, which is good. They're not good cookies by a long shot, but they're not inedible (ringing endorsement, I know). They definitely taste as healthy as they are. The ingredient list is kind of a tip-off: egg, olive oil, honey, applesauce, whole wheat flour, wheat germ, bran, raisins, buckwheat, and rolled oats (plus some spices and leaveners). It's kind of impressive that you can make an edible cookie out of those ingredients, but you're definitely never going to have a child clamoring for more Buckwheat Buckaroos. Patrick tried one this morning and refused to eat any more of them. Oh well, more boringly healthy cookies for me! They'll be good for my 3pm work snack.