this morning i went to: market basket to buy some new canola oil (for fried chicken) and a package of celery stalks (for tuna salad); reliable market in union square for some tonkatsu sauce; and the somerville target for some dove milk chocolate (2/$6) and a splatter guard.1 they had 2 variety: a fancy OXO brand ($20) too large for my needs and a cheaper chefmate 3-piece set ($10) in sizes 8", 10" and 12". naturally i went with the less expensive option.

the weather today was raw and miserable, cold and wet, with showers throughout the day. the outside temperature barely went above 40°F as i put on my thermal underwear. there was a pervasive dampness inside the house. not only was there still a strong oil smell but the indoor temperature had dropped to 55°F overnight. despite it all i still managed to stay in my underwear for much of the day.

in the late afternoon i went to harvard square for a meeting with new client E. this work came to me via elias through a friend of a friend. it's a bit of flash actionscript coding, only a week-long contract, but it'll be good for the experience. we met at the starbucks inside the garage. i bought a small hot chocolate ($2.55). while waiting for my drink, i suddenly realized, amidst the sea of young faces working on laptops, texting, chatting - that i was probably one of the oldest person in the place. i suddenly felt very self-conscious.

the meeting turned out well, i learned a lot about the corporate ethics training industry. i left with a source cd and some notes to begin working.

returning home, i passed a few motorcycles sitting out in the rain. that used to be me, before i started taking better care of my ride. most shocking was a honda 919 lying on its side. either a car hit it or maybe the wind knocked it over. the owner had chained the rear wheel to a signpost so the motorcycle was down at an awkward angle. i felt bad for whoever it belonged to. one of the rear signal lights was bent and i imagine one of the mirrors was probably broken.

i took a survey of the yard. some of my fall-planted hostas have sprouted, but not all of them. the ones that have sprouted are still very tiny. never realized it, but there are actually a lot of preexisting hostas both at the front of the house and in the back. hostas seem to be a safe perennial shade plant when you can't think of anything else to grow. they fill out nicely and once they're set, you basically never have to take care of them.

when evening came around i fried my remaining 6 pieces of chicken drumsticks. i was a little worried because the panko crumbs were no longer crisp from having sat in the fridge for a day, but i was hoping they'd get crunchy again once they're in the oil bath.

i was using brand new canola oil this time, and had the splatter guard. the shield wouldn't fit completely flat onto the pan, so some oil still managed to splatter from the gap, but it was magnitudes better compared to frying without the guard last night, when it was basically raining hot oil all over my stovetop. as an added layer of protection, i also put down some newspapers on the floor, to catch any stray splatter.

i went with a larger 12" pan this time. emptying a whole bottle of canola oil came up about an inch from the bottom. i'm not sure what kind of pan i was using, but it's the kind with a copper base. turns out it doesn't heat evenly, because my fry thermometer poking on the side of the pan read 300°F while using a stick thermometer measuring the center read above 350°F.

when i added all 6 pieces into the pan, the temperature did start to rise again, but i was ready this time, and turned down the heat accordingly. the temperature then quickly dropped to around 250°F and it took a few minutes before it was up to 350°F again. i basically fried each side for 10 minutes (a total of 20 minutes) before turning off the burner. the splatter guard definitely helped, and made the frying process seem less like it was going to explode and burn down the kitchen.

the drumsticks this time around weren't burnt like yesterday, but there was still a little bitterness on the crust. i think where i went wrong was probably frying at too low a temperature (the longer fry time overcooked the chicken), but i was afraid the oil would get too hot and get out of control, so i reduced the heat when i should've just left everything alone since the oil temperature was going to drop anyway from adding the cold chicken pieces. also the pan i was using didn't heat evenly. i'll definitely look into getting a 12" cast iron pan if i'm really serious about fried chicken (let's see how my heart and arteries feel in a few days). in the future, i may also want to try frying in shortening, which i hear enhances the flavor. the chicken was okay, but the flavoring is mostly in the skin, as the meat itself was rather bland. i also heard about marinating in buttermilk, which is another idea.

tonight i watched the premiere of happy town on ABC. i heard it was like a modern version of twin peaks, about the spooky happenings in a small town. there will never be another twin peaks (not unless david lynch returns to television) and happy town is definitely not that. it feels more like one of those stephen king miniseries, a mystery horror story (i'm getting some deja vu here; something seems strangely familiar). after this premiere episode though, i don't think it's compelling enough to be a success but i'll still watch it anyway since i'll basically watch anything that has to do with horror or science fiction (other than V or flashforward, those two shows are dead to me).

1 there's really nothing fancy about a splatter guard. it's basically a circular wire screen with a handle. in the spirit of DIY, it'd be easy and cheap to made one out of some leftover screen mesh (like from a door or a window). it'd probably fit better too, since i'd be able to custom-size it to the exact diameter of my pots and pans.