Wednesday, October 28, 2009

yayayayay! *kermit arms*

How fabulous! My mother's best friend from childhood just sent me (yay!) a beautiful bag of bulghur wheat and her recipe for tabouli, which for me remains the first, the only, the best tabouli, the shining tower of tabouli, from when I first tasted it in my teens. That's a lot of pressure to put on a recipe, but still--I am so glad to have it. Especially as this kind of recipe is really much more about technique than anything else, and now I get to know how Joan does it. Thank you!!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Support the Soup and Bread Cookbook!

This cookbook -- a wonderful project involving three very talented friends (Martha -- Sheila -- Paul) is a link well worth clicking and supporting. I think I have a family recipe in the book. Here are recent posts regarding the project, including an ask for more funds to help make it happen. And here is the Soup and Bread blog to show how it worked, real-time. A happy thing, however you look at it!

Monday, October 26, 2009

The most fabulously sexist film: Boys' Night Out (1962), in which four men, including James Garner and Tony Randall, set up a sex pad in the city and "share" Kim Novak. Garner (the only bachelor) falls for Novak only to be ultimately betrayed by the fact that she is a sociologist rather than a slut, but it still all works out in the end. Having said that, may I point out that Garner is at his most spectacularly delicious in the film; he is like a shiny chocolate, creamy and luscious and with great snap in the tooth. What a beautiful man!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

really big cellphones make movies go even faster!


"You don't understand," he said.
"Believe me, Jimmie I do." Ned was suddenly gentle, there were even tears in his eyes. It would have taken the most cynically dispassionate observer to discern any hint of complacency in his tone when he added, "Life is cruel and we do terrible things to each other."
Barbara Pym, The Sweet Dove Died

In a world where the kings are employers
Where the amateur prevails and delicacy fails to pay
In a world where the princes are lawyers
What can anyone expect except to recollect
Steven Sondheim, "Liasons," A Little Night Music

The minute we need a thing, we begin paying for it whether we buy it or not.
Laura Ingalls Wilder

are you rockin the spot?
yes I be
showin others they do not?
yes I be
havin them towed from the lot?
yes I be
that's my job as a supa emcee
De La Soul, "Wonce Again Long Island," Stakes Is High

My advice to you as a young actor at the beginning of an illustrious career is that not everybody can be your friend so you choose your enemies. And when you see them you walk up to them and say, 'You are my enemy.' And do you know how you will know your enemy? Anyone who gets in the way of your work.
Bette Davis

Strength doesn't lie in numbers
Strength doesn't lie in wealth
Strength lies in nights of peaceful slumbers
When you wake up--wake up!
The Sound of Music

Those are my principles. If you don't like them I have others.
Groucho Marx

Twenty minutes' sleep. Just a nice doze. In that time I had muffed a job and lost eight thousand dollars. Well, why not? In twenty minutes you can sink a battleship, down three or four planes, hold a double execution. You can die, get married, get fired and find a new job, have a tooth pulled, have your tonsils out. In twenty minutes you can even get up in the morning. You can get a glass of water at a night club--maybe.
Raymond Chandler, Farewell My Lovely

Nessun maggior dolore
Che ricordarsi del tempo felice
Nella miseria.
Dante, Divine Comedy

Darling, it's late, and I'm very, very tired of youth and love and self-sacrifice.
Old Acquaintance

My cooking: Was I a great experimenter, a pioneer? Whose rich command of unorthodox mixtures will be the stuff of legend in the new millennium? Or was my food just ghastly?
"The Vicar of Dibley"

There's someone else I've got to be
George Michael, "Freedom '90"

But there was nothing to do about it that seemed worth the changes I would have to make, even for a few minutes, in the way I was.
M.F.K. Fisher, The Gastronomical Me

Even Dickon did not go near the close-grown corner in those days, but waited until by the quiet working of some mysterious spell he seemed to have conveyed to the soul of the little pair that in the garden there was nothing which was not quite like themselves--nothing which did not understand the wonderfulness of what was happening to them--the immense, tender, terrible, heart-breaking beauty and solemnity of Eggs.
Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

Another chance to disapprove,
Another brilliant zinger,
Another reason not to move,
Another vodka stinger.
Steven Sondheim, "Ladies Who Lunch," Company

I think the American people are disposed often to be generous rather than just.
Frederick Douglass, Annual Meeting of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society in Boston, April, 1865

Herz, mein Herz, sei nicht beklommen,
und ertrage dein Geschick,
neuer Frühling gibt zurück,
was der Winter dir genommen.

Und wie viel ist dir geblieben,
und wie schön ist noch die Welt!
Und, mein Herz, was dir gefällt,
alles, alles darfst du lieben!
Heinrich Heine, Buch der Lieder

The time to make up your mind about people is never.
The Philadelphia Story

If you're looking for your big breakout single--ooh, you might want to put a bid on this one tonight, ladies and gentlemen, because we are talking to Phil Collins' people, right. But then again...aren't we all?
Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Think you, 'mid all this mighty sum
Of things forever speaking,
That nothing of itself will come,
But we must still be seeking?
William Wordsworth, "Expostulation and Reply"

People thought he was modest. He wasn't. He believed deeply in his own superiority, but only deeply. On the surface, in his immediate responses, in his daily life, Johnny worried and judged and brought himself to task.
Cathleen Schine, The Love Letter

Flaws terrify parents.
Sara Paretsky, Tunnel Vision

I flew down to Washington and collected my things and had a big fight with Mark in which he accused me of the thing men think is the most insulting thing they can accuse you of--wanting to be married--and he took me to the airport and my duffel bag burst in the middle of the National Airport parking lot and all the whisks and frying pans and cookbooks fell out on the ground and then we had another big fight over whether it was his Julia Child or mine that I was taking back to New York (it was his) and that was that.
Nora Ephron, Heartburn

"Can you sleep on your stomach with such big buttons on your pajamas?"
Groucho to "Pagliacci," A Night at the Opera

We buttered everything from broccoli to brownies, and would have buttered butter itself if it were not for the problems of traction presented by the butter-butter interface.
Barbara Ehrenreich

I was going to suggest you get outside of the musty place where you can count the dust particles falling around you and get out into the world and see what everybody else is doing.
Gene Simmons to Terry Gross

Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear
Thomas Gray, "Elegy on a Country Churchyard"

The kids keep telling me I should try this new "Method Acting," but I'm too old, I'm too tired and I'm too talented to care.
Spencer Tracy

Little happens: life seems to have pushed a steamroller up against the door and nailed the windows and stuffed something down the chimney. It is now dancing up and down outside the glass shouting 'Live dangerously!' I turn round and show it my bum.
Philip Larkin, Letters

Little by little the look of the country changes because of the men we admire.

This moment was safe, though, this could not be touched. Here we sat together . . . This was secure, this funny fragment of time he would never remember, never think about again. He would not hold it sacred . . . For them it was just after lunch, quarter-past-three on a haphazard afternoon, like any hour, like any day. They did not want to hold it close, imprisoned and secure, as I did. They were not afraid.
Daphne duMaurier, Rebecca

"No, Countess. The world has changed. The garbage has changed."
Jean Giraudoux, The Madwoman of Chaillot

She sang . . . and sometimes [she whispered to him] beneath the rustle of leaves turned over. "Georgie, I'm cleverer than anybody ever was, and I shall die in the night," she said once.
E.F. Benson, Queen Lucia

Harriet had long ago discovered that one could not like people any the better, merely because they were ill, or dead--still less because one had once liked them very much. Some happy souls could go through life without making this discovery, and they were the men and women who were called "sincere."
Dorothy L. Sayers, Gaudy Night

"And so you shall, you old-fashioned boy."
Tallulah Bankhead to Chico Marx's "God, I'd like to fuck you"

Whatever you can do or dream, you can begin. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
J.W. Goethe, more or less

I've just made my curtsy to King George and Queen Mary. Now I happen to love curtsying. I was brought up British, don't forget. And also I like to extend my extremities.
Diana Vreeland, DV

Drink and dance and laugh and lie,
Love, the reeling midnight through,
For tomorrow we shall die!
(But, alas, we never do.)
Dorothy Parker, "The Flaw in Paganism"

Now, when I see a woman, I'm no longer so quick to classify her as one of the elect or one of the damned . . . In their most mundane tasks, I grant them that mystery I used to deny them.
Eric Rohmer, L'Amour l'apres-midi

And now we see that there are some people who always have a Save Something sticker on their car. Save Me--a man might say, who wakes up in the watches of the night and thinks of death.
Barbara Pym, A Very Private Eye

She thought: I must learn to be my own person, however late, however much it hurts. I have to do it.
P.D. James, A Taste for Death

That's just the tip of the iceberg
Look, it's too long for a song
But perfect for a book
LL Cool J, "Father"

If you're listening, God
Please don't make it hard to know
If we should believe in the things that we see
"Home," The Wiz

I want to be filthy low--vile--call it anything you please--but God I want to live my own life.
Mae West

Never be daunted in private.
M.F.K. Fisher (via Hemingway), An Alphabet for Gourmets

I thort your kindness was love but it ain't cause I seen him.
Charlie Chaplin, The Tramp

Susan identified herself in her voice. She was as close as she ever got to being whoever she was when she was talking.
Carrie Fisher, Postcards From the Edge

Wondering if this could ever make her suffer, she thought of Windsor Terrace. I am not there. She began to go round, in little circles, things that at least her senses had loved--her bed, with the lamp turned on on winter mornings, the rug in Thomas's study... Only in a house where one has learnt to be lonely does one have this solicitude for things. One's relation to them, the daily seeing or touching, begins to become love, and to lay one open to pain.
Elizabeth Bowen, The Death of the Heart

I write when I feel strongly, and want to tell people . . . I have no enthusiasm for obscurity. Except, of course, for luminous and wonder-generating obscurity.
Philip Larkin

The world is still beautiful, she told herself, and I am still in it. Everything else can be put right, in time.
Barbara Neely, Blanche on the Lam

I do not not know what I desire
When summer nights are dark and still,
When the wind's many-voiced quire
Sleeps among the muffled branches.
I long and know not what i will:
And not a sound of life or laughter stanches
Time's black and silent flow.
I do not know what I desire,
I do not know.
Aldous Huxley, Crome Yellow

sometimes I drift when I drive
Geto Boys, "Mind's Playin Tricks"

"All her life each day I know," answered Ram Dass. "Her going out I know, and her coming in; her sadness and her poor joys; her coldness and her hunger."
Frances Hodgson Burnett, A Little Princess

We're a big rough rich wild people and crime is the price we pay for it, and organized crime is the price we pay for organization.
Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye

And all this mourning has veiled the truth. It's not so much lest we forget, as lest we remember. Because you should realize that so far as the Cenotaph and the Last Post and all that stuff is concerned, there's no better way of forgetting something than by commemorating it.
Alan Bennett, The History Boys

I haven't lived this long not to know tacky when I see it!
Armistead Maupin, Further Tales of the City

Poor Lizzie has ceased articulating.
Ronald Firbank, The Flower Beneath the Foot
Last line: "Just why the mantis shrimp needs such a rarefied level of vision is unclear, although researchers suspect it is to do with food and sex."

Saturday, October 24, 2009

One very nice version of happiness: swallowing spoonfuls of matzoh ball--tender, salty, spongey--at the Pittsfield Cafe, with a Coke and lemon to drink, while "Whip It" by the Treacherous Three plays overhead on the radio.

Friday, October 23, 2009

amelia e.

When I was a child I had this photo in my desk drawer, along with the letters that went with it and another photo. I don't remember how I got them--I think I squirreled them away from a family album or something. Nor do I know how they eventually ended up archived (ooh wait--just saw that it was my uncle), but regardless that is my grandfather on the left, a man I never met, paddling a canoe with Amelia Earhart, whom he dated. I never met him, don't really know much about their connection, although I plan on reading her book of letters to find out more if I can. It is weird to see the photo again.

Needless to say, it's the arrival of the new Amelia biopic that sent me a-googling about this, but boy does the preview I saw make it look corny. Kind of like the worst of old movies and new. And reductive, rather than Big (surely of all people she is a hard person to apply cliches to?). But it's also Mira Nair. Hmm. Well, we'll see. Oh, the small cadre of actresses allowed to have Short Hair these days (Swankums, Kate Blanchette)...

Query: Why can I never spell genealogical properly?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

subconscious is a cultural magpie

Yesterday: Brief glimpse of segment on "Unwrapped" on the origin of the Bloody Mary with images of the murals at the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis in the background + clicking on the Lyric Opera's website about the current production of Faust and its cast, including Rene Pape = dream last night about Maxfield Parrish's work, only his name was "Rene Livingston."


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rok Bannnd

I have now played Rock Band. OH MAN. That shit is fucked up.

Monday, October 12, 2009 amateur mistake

I know better, but I did it anyhow: I thought it would be nice to use up a bit of rice milk and cream cheese by making some frosting, but I committed the cardinal sin of starting with the liquids. It really didn't look like a lot and I thought I would probably use only a couple cups of confectioner's sugar. One whole bag later, I had a big soup of not particular distinguished frosting that now sits in the freezer for the day when I have to frost a dozen sheet cakes. Oy.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

more culinary news from the unemployed


* Achieved: really good meatloaf made with ground beef, cooked brown basmati rice, eggs, ketchup, dijon, spices, a little crumbled bacon and (from the Necessity Is the Mother of I. files) a panade made with panko and rice milk! It really worked. I have a history of making horribly dense, unhappy meatloaf that makes you wonder why you ruined perfectly good ground meat and turned it--"stretched it"--into something that takes longer to eat up than just plain horrible overcooked meat. This meatloaf was tender and delicious and I am totally into the leftovers, a very good sign.

* Thanks to a friend and former co-worker, Vera Videnovich, who runs a CSA and a farm in MI (you can see a recent tour of it here), I got a beautiful free bag of Concord grapes at Veggie Bingo on Wednesday. I had an ambitious idea of making jam with them, but instead I whirred up the grapes--pips, skins and all--with some water and a tablespoon or so of vanilla sugar in the blender. Whirred and whirred, and then sieved through a very fine sieve, to arrive at this really delicious juice (left). It could have been thinned even further. The whole experience was quite purple. Delicious.

* Worth every penny (when it's on sale): Miller's Amish Country Poultry, produced in Orland, Indiana. It's exponentially better than any other chicken I ever buy and from a money-saving standpoint there is much less waste/trimming necessary. A great thing to stock up on for the freezer when it's on sale.

* Fabulous version #295387 of my favorite salad: four grated carrots, one cubed cuke, one 6-oz can of Natural Sea tuna, salted sunflower seeds, and a dressing made with fresh lime juice, honey mustard, miso, rice & cider vinegars and olive oil. Love that stuff.

* I am becoming a fan of cooking bacon in the oven these days. So much easier than dealing with one curling-up strip at a time. Just throw it in the oven in a foil-lined pan at about 375 for 1/2 hour. Done and done, and the fat is easy to drain this way too. Another thing really worth buying on sale.
You can freeze the cooked bacon too, and pull a strip or two out for flavoring purposes as needed.

* Hints from Heloise tip for your cat: best cat toy chez Cahiers at the mo is an empty and de-labeled prescription bottle, filled with a few matchsticks or sea shells. It makes a satisfying rattly sound and if it's small enough can be carried around in their mouth.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

fast food lunch

It is the kind of McDonald's, in its proximity to a hospital, with customers who comprise mostly: loud medical salespeople with rolling sample bags; incredibly busy healthcare workers for whom lunch is just a change in activity, not a break; and careful, calm, scared patients, usually in the company of a loved one. Maybe the occasional tourist. The place has been recently rehabbed, which means, in addition to a dark, boutique hotel color palette in the dining areas, walls full of strangely sad oversized black and white photos which are supposed to look classy. Lonely people on snowy roads, empty parks, ominous clouds rolling over stormy prairies. Like every McDonald's I ever go to in this part of downtown, the staff are almost exclusively recent Latino immigrants, sometimes with a coworker operating as a translator for front staff as they train.

I was there after the lunch rush, standing with others in a polite but vulturous circle around the counter waiting for our orders. The McDonald's employee was waving a small bag at us, saying "cheeseboirger," more and more loudly as no one stepped forward to claim it. She spied an older white man in our group and said, "You--it's yours. Cheeseboirger." "No," he said, "it's not mine." "Yes, yes, cheeseboirger," continues the salesclerk, waving the bag at him more emphatically. I see another older man toward the back of the group, same height and hair but a different colored jacket, guess where this is going and start to unfocus my eyes.

The stand-off continues, the collective impatience for our food raising the heat on the scenario a bit, until suddenly the second man stumbles forward and claims his burger and we all smile along with the laughing, embarrassed clerk who says, "Oh! Oh! I'm sorry, okay." One of the salespeople types barks with recognition at the problem, trying to catch my gaze, and makes a joke along the lines of something like "Hah! They can't tell us apart!" Only I don't really know what he's said, because I'm trying not to hear as my eyes completely unfocus in the direction of a spot about a foot above his head and smile in a completely meaningless way and at no one in particular.

2 follow-ups, 2 thoughts

- Hair (following up on post below) is did. I even got a weave as part of the Federal Extension Benefits program. HAHAHAHA. *hic* Okay, I didn't. But it's cut. Thank god.

- The night after I posted this entry about crepes dentelles they made an appearance in (yet another wild) dream. In my dream, though, I "figured out" that they were called "Milk of Pasta" in another language--French or Italian, I forget which. As in flakes of dried milk of pasta. Wild.

- I had a lot of thoughts about the Letterman situation, many of which don't have much urgency now that I'm less shocked, but one that lingers about his "bunker" is how much it reminds me of the trysting room Samuel Insull apparently had built into the proscenium arch of the Civic Opera House (to which he'd drag chorines and such). There are all sorts of issues of practicality attached to such a space, but it is interesting, however you look at it.

- Have you ever been to a post office that wasn't crowded? I haven't, and I mean in any neighborhood in Chicago. Never been to one that didn't have one employee waiting on one impossibly long line. Do not understand why service is being cut.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

need my crop dusted. my do did. my flip whipped.

From the It's My Blog files: I haven't had a haircut since June and I am not sure I am going to make it til Wednesday, which is when I have a hair appointment. Gott sei dank. I hope I can hang on until then without taking scissors to it myself (not joking), because this stuff is DIRE. COMPROMISED. My hair looks like people's fake bad hair in commercials for hair straighteners, only it's real. A nowhere-pointing pile of hay with scratchy ends that nothing changes. I really think Congress ought to consider an Emergency Hair Management Program. Duh.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Some interesting and excessive air-brushing sighted recently: Courtney Cox in the billboard ads for Cougar Town (query: so wrinkles there aren't okay either? Aren't they kinda the point?) and Ricky Gervais in ads for The Invention of Lying. Cor!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Earworm of the month: "Blame It on Me" by Chrisette Michele, a kinda corny, balls-out, R&B mopping-up/breakup song with the coolest key changes I've heard in a long time. Really hard to shake.

crispy ephemeral joy

I love a lot of cookies, including big dire American cakey chocolate creations, but the cookies that I love the most are those on the superficially more boring end of the spectrum. Thin crisp buttery cookies, various shades of blond and tan. Oblaten, cialde, gaufrette, pizzelle, langues de chat, tuile, fortune cookies, plain stroopwaffles, Pepperidge Farm Chessmen. I buy and eat empty ice cream cones. I love the cookie sticking up out of a sundae more than the sundae. If there are lightly browned edges, I like it.

My current crisp buttery cookie obsession are crepes dentelles from Brittany. The ones most commonly sold in the US seem to be Gavottes, which in their (dark- or milk-) chocolate-covered state are the most insanely delicious cookies I know and almost impossible to stop eating.

Even happier, when you crush up crepes dentelles they become feuilletine, crisp flakes used to make other pastries and desserts, or sometimes into a thin bark when coated in chocolate and then broken up. Leonidas makes a feuilletine chocolate bar I am dying to try.

This photo shows a man in Brittany making crepes dentelles (makes it clearer how they're shaped) and this
video shows chefs making them in a slightly different shape for a napoleon.

My favorite cookbook, The French Cookie Book, seems to have no recipes for these particular cookies. I don't know know why; perhaps because they've been produced industrially more than in patisseries. The book is great, though. It's very different from many contemporary pastry recipes/books. This book covers over 500 pages of recipes that differ primarily in technique and tradition, not ingredients. Which is to say, every possible kind of crisp buttery cookie. It's an amazing reference.