Sunday, March 30, 2008

Interviews and Conference and Travel, Oh My!

The last few weeks have been insane, and the next few weeks promise to be just as crazy. I've started my job search, which includes a lot of interviews. I've already interviewed on-site at Microsoft for two positions, and received offers from both. On Monday, I have two phone interviews with Google, again for two positions. Then, in the upcoming weeks, I have on-site interviews at Rapleaf, Oracle, IBM Almaden, and Yahoo! Research.

Just interviewing involves a lot of travelling. However, as added fun, I'll also be in Cancun for ICDE 2008, where I'll be presenting one of my papers.

So between interviews, the conference, and associated travelling, there's basically no time for posting. However, once all is over, I'll share interview resources, conference tidbits, and maybe details about the work I'm presenting. At any rate, just didn't want everyone to think I'd given up on blogging.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Tasty Favorites: Pedro Pasta

At the urging of a couple persuasive friends, I'd like to start sharing the results of one of my pastimes: cooking. Though I enjoy making somewhat involved meals, I also like coming up with tasty foods that encourage me to eat at home. This means quick, cheap, and with minimal clean-up.

One favorite is what Sarah calls "Pedro Pasta". It's simple, delicious, and (not counting the time to boil water) takes about five minutes.

Photos courtesy of Sarah

First, an aside: I'm a huge fan of Michael Chu's Cooking for Engineers, especially his tabular recipe notation. It's an extremely elegant and concise way of displaying recipes, so I'm borrowing it for these posts.

For this recipe, I'm not too picky about quantities. The recipe is simple enough that it's easy to pick appropriate quantities based on how many people you're serving, and taste.

Pedro Pasta
Water Boil Cook Drain Toss Let sit
5 min.
Cherry Tomatoes Cut half in half Combine
(squeeze cut)
Olive Oil
Garlic Mince
Italian Seasoning


  1. Boil water for pasta. I generally add salt to the water to flavor the pasta and help cook it (salt water boils hotter).
  2. While the water boils, prepare the other ingredients: cut about half of the cherry tomatoes in half, and mince the garlic. If you're using fresh herbs instead of the dried "Italian Seasoning" mix (basil, oregano, rosemary, etc.), chop up the herbs as well.
  3. Add pasta to the boiling water. I like spaghetti or angel hair, but any pasta works fine.
  4. While the pasta cooks, prepare the sauce: put olive oil in a large bowl, and squeeze into it the cherry tomatoes you cut in half. Then stir in the tomatoes (both squeezed and whole), garlic, herbs, and salt to taste. You'll want enough olive oil/tomato mixture to coat the pasta, but this is also largely a matter of taste.
  5. Once the pasta has finished cooking, put it into the bowl with the sauce, and toss it.
  6. Finally, let sit for five minutes or so. The heat from the pasta will cook the garlic, and generally help spread the flavors around.

And that's it. Serve with some grated Parmesan cheese, and you have a quick and tasty meal. Of course, some may complain that it's lacking in protein. To address this, I make an accompaniment:

Pedro Pasta Accompaniment
Garlic Olive Oil Heat (med-low) Lightly
Sautee Cook (med)
Extra Firm Tofu Cube
Garlic Mince
Italian Seasoning
Lemon Pepper
Red Wine


  1. Heat some garlic olive oil over medium-low heat (regular olive oil works fine if you don't have the garlicky variety).
  2. Add cubed extra firm tofu and minced garlic, then sautee lightly, just until the tofu starts to get a bit golden.
  3. Add salt, Italian seasoning, and lemon pepper to taste (you can buy lemon pepper at just about any grocery store). Continue sauteeing until the tofu is nice and golden.
  4. Add a splash of red wine, then turn the heat up to medium and cook until the tofu browns (or however you like it).

Once finished, just throw it in with the Pedro Pasta.

If you're not vegetarian (Sarah is, but I'm not), you can use chicken instead of tofu. The steps are the same, except replace tofu with chicken, and red wine with white. Also, make sure the chicken cooks thoroughly, which may require a slightly higher temperature in the early steps.