i promised my parents i'd go air conditioner shopping with them.1 we went to the sears at the cambridgeside galleria mall. there wasn't much in terms of selection, everything was kenmore brand, the difference was just the BTU. we went with an 8000 BTU unit. we found a salesman to help us with the purchase. george was his name, a bald and overweight gruff man who didn't even look at my parents when he asked them how big the room was. my father stammered and said something like 500 square feet. "no no no, 8000 BTU is not going to cool a room that size," george said in a scolding manner. customers love being told they're wrong. my father changed his numbers, reducing the size of this imaginary room just so we can buy the damn air conditioner and go home.

"what floor is on? 2nd? 1st?" george continued with the interrogation, still not making eye contact, like he was a human BTU calculator and couldn't be bothered while he was in his concentration mode. when my parents finally went to pay, they ran into another snag. they wanted to use a $125 air conditioner voucher from the city of cambridge (in exchange for an older non-energystar-complaint AC) but the coupon was in my great uncle's name. even though there's nothing that says he had to check id, he did it anyway, and when it didn't match, he wouldn't sell my parents the air conditioner and called his manager. the manager had no problems with the voucher and authorized the sale, much to george's chagrin.

i've never sent a complaint before but i'm almost tempted to report george to his superiors. a warning to all: avoid george the appliance guy at the cambridgeside galleria sears!

instead of leaving, my mother insisted we get something to eat at the food court. i'm no stranger to mall eats but today i felt like a food snob and wanted nothing to do with the food court. i finally relented, and got some bourbon chicken from the big easy - just like old times! my parents got some chicken and rice from the sushi place. after we finished eating we returned to sears and left from their 3rd floor exit to where we parked the car next to the merchandise pickup office.

the kenmore 8000 BTU air conditioner sells for $210, but because of the voucher and after taxes the total came out to be around $90. not a bad purchase for the price! it has digital readouts which tells you exactly what the current temperature is. i didn't think it had one but it also comes with a remote.

we made a supply stop at market basket. i needed to get some groceries but i didn't have time to make an ingredients list this morning so i knew i'd be back again later in the afternoon. my parents dropped me off at my place before they left for the cafe.

i wanted to make 3 things this week: lasagna using tomato sauce made from real tomatoes; zucchini bread (with garden grown zucchini); and turkish delights. i finally made my grocery list and headed out the door. first stop was to the garden, to pinch off some basil and to see if i had anymore tomatoes. i already had 6 back home, but managed to collect 4 more. next i went to market basket.

coming out, i found my bicycle toppled to the ground, with a bunch of store employees standing next to it. not sure what happened, but it looked one of them might've tipped it over and didn't bother to pick it up. the handlebar had turned 180° and the stirrup on the front linear-pull brake was bent far enough that i couldn't get the noodle to fit back inside. finally i managed to stick but just barely, and got home without the brakes coming loose. i found a wrench and banged at it a little bit to get it into shape. good as new!

one half of the lesbian couple living across the street from me flagged me down to ask me a question while i was outside. it was the nice lady, the one who occasionally says hi to me (her partner is the mean one who hates me and has never said hello in all the times i've lived here). "who painted your place?" she asked. i told her. "yeah, i remember seeing his sign," she said. i caught her in a lie: cleber has never put up a sign before. right away i was able to size her up and my assessment was not good. i still helped her out anyway (gave her his number), just because i want cleber to have more work. it'd be nice to see him in the neighborhood again. i've single-handedly recommended him to 2 other neighbors, and this one will be the 3rd.

back at home i started making the lasagna. i decided on a spinach lasagna, which i normally wouldn't make because i feel like dinner just isn't the same without some meat. but i've made meat lasagnas in the past and wanted to try something different. while a box of frozen spinach was thawing, i began preparing the tomatoes, which needed to be peeled and seeded.

i cut x-marks at the bottom of each tomato and boiled them briefly before dipping them in a cold water bath. the skin came off effortlessly and i was left with 10 flayed tomatoes.

next came the seeding. i quartered the skinless tomatoes and scooped out the guts inside into a strainer that separated out the seeds from the juices. the tomato flesh i threw underneath into a pot. i then mashed up the tomatoes to help in the reduction. i chopped up some garden basil, more than a cup's worth. i also found a single red cayenne pepper which i also chopped up for the sauce.

i got a chance to use the cuisinart food processor i found last month. it took a bit of fiddling around to finally figure out how exactly i'm supposed to feed the food into the processor blade. it's designed with safety measures to prevent any errant fingers from accidentally touching the blade. any food to be fed has to either be big enough to fit completely inside of the "tower," or thin enough to be dropped down the "chimney." i put on the grating blade and fed 2 onion halves.

about this time is when i accidentally stabbed my finger with the knife. i'm no stranger to knife-finger accidents, but this was very minor, just some bleeding. the onion sort of made it sting (or was it the hot pepper?) and i decided put a bandaid on my wound.

besides the onions, i also grated a handful of garlic. the final result was a very fine grated onion and garlic medley, with a surprising amount of liquid. the 14-cup processing container is just too big and the motor is simply an overkill for the kind of cooking i do. the base is also obscenely heavy, and the whole unit jumps a bit on the counter when i first turn it on, but once the blade is running, it's very stable and runs almost silently.

with the sauce ingredients all ready, i started to cook the onion and garlic in some olive oil. once they started showing some colors, i added the tomatoes and the chopped basil and the cayenne. also into the mix was 2 6 oz. jars of tomato paste. not sure if that was really necessary, but i saw a recipe that called for it, i guess it helps to thicken up the eventual sauce, but it seems like cheating to add premade tomato paste to a tomato sauce made from whole tomatoes. i tasted the sauce in its raw phase: the sweetness of the tomato initially, but then started to become tart later on, like the taste of an unripened tomato.

i let the tomato sauce simmer for about an hour. when it was finally done, the taste had mellowed but it was still tarty. was it the tomato paste? maybe it was that one large tomato i picked from the garden tomato that wasn't entirely ripe (it was more orange than red). what exactly does good tomato sauce taste like anyway? would i even know the difference, having grown up on ready-made tomato sauces that came in jars? maybe i could've added some brown sugar to counteract the tartiness. i could also taste the basil and every once in a while a bit of that cayenne.

while mixing the sauce, i accidentally burned myself. let me first confess that i was cooking topless, which i often do during the summer when it's hot. i was stirring the sauce when a boiling bubble popped and a splash of hot tomato sauce landed on my chest. it burned so i wiped it off right away, but i must not have done a good job because there was still a small residual amount that continued to burn my chest until i went to the bathroom to wash it off. by then it was too late, as there was a small welt. later the welt became a blister, characteristic of 2nd degree burns. it only hurts when i touch it but this spinach lasagna was starting to become a real dangerous recipe, with the finger-knife accident and now this minor burn.

with sauce done, it was time to assemble the lasagna. while i boiled the noodles, i was also making a ricotta-spinach-2 eggs mixture and chopping up the mozzarella cheese into small cubes. once the noodles were cooked, i began layer: noodle, ricotta, mozzarella, tomato sauce, repeat. everything then went into the 375°F oven for 45 minutes.

i ended up having a large square of lasagna (1/6). it tasted fine, but the sauce is the one thing i notice the most. i don't want to say the tartiness is overwhelming, but you can definitely taste the tomato ingredient. making homemade tomato sauce actually isn't very hard, but i think the challenge is getting the right balance of ingredients to blend together.

1 my parents briefly came inside the house. my mother took all my tupperware containers, most of which belonged to her, but a few were mine. now all i have left to hold leftovers are makeshift large yogurt containers.