Friday, November 28, 2008

So I got less done at the coffee shop (Vivace in Capitol Hill's new location, which is pretty nice and has this separate glass-windowed marble countered room that is a self-policed quiet zone filled with stressed out people working on their laptops) than I hoped, and decided to just stop fooling myself and get the cooking that I want to do over with.

But first a bit on the work I am failing to get done. At the moment, I'm trying to write a survey for my dissertation, and finding it really hard. My research is on the federal "Section 8" housing voucher program. In a nutshell, very poor people--basically at the poverty line or below--get a voucher that they can use to find rental housing on the private market, and the government pays a portion of the rent directly to the landlord on their behalf (the household pays 30 to 40% of their monthly income in rent, whatever that turns out to be).

My dissertation is about where these folks end up (i.e., good neighborhoods? "Bad" neighborhoods? All in the same neighborhood?), and why. A goal of the program is to give people the opportunity to move to better neighborhoods, but a lot of people -- about 1 in 5 -- end up in pretty high-poverty neighborhoods. The point of the survey is to ask people what they want to do with the voucher: where they want to go and why, and ho wthey approach the process of moving. I'm having trouble sorting through the issues to just get something written and done. In part because there are WAY more issues involved with putting a survey together than I ever anticipated, and many have nothing to do with the issues I am interested in researching, and more to do with the process of surveying people in a big, diverse, city. More on that some other time, or multiple times, most likely.

Before I left for the coffee shop, I started some bread rising -- from Mark Bittman's easy no knead bread recipe, which deserves all the word of mouth it has gotten. The bread was started because: 1) it is cold and gray outside; 2) I have bread flour and yeast; and 3) I have green beans from the CSA box and saw a recipe in some magazine for a green bean panzanella salad. You have to have bread for a bread salad.

Keep in mind that I already made a caramel pecan pie yesterday (2384756234765 calories per slice) that I am eating single handedly. But whatever. Why not have a giant loaf of bread, to boot. I am back on the stair-running food-diary kick, so I feel like I can get away with it.

Anyway -- I also have sweet potato, butternut squash and regular Russet potatoes (the damn CSA send me potatoes EVERY week and it is killing me). So a ginger squash soup recipe, also on the NY Times site seems like a good idea, too. No cream in it, and I can use my immersion blender, which is on my top 5 list of favorite things these days. But that will have to wait until tomorrow, I think, because Jake just got a call and it looks like we'll go get a drink with his friend Tristan and his very cool girlfriend Kate.

Recipes for all to follow soon.

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