Monday, March 31, 2008

job performance review:

lifted from a friend's blog - this is the entry in its entirety:

Sitting in church yesterday before the service started, I heard a guy behind me say, "This church has too many metaphors."

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A little something for a cold evening.

I had planned to spend tonight reading this for my Thursday book club

but instead I am watching this

and I baked and am tasting this.

The TV show - great. Clear your schedule and watch this whole WEEK of specials about photography. See stunning pictures! Hear old cigar-chomping east coast guys talk about driving across the country in a borrowed VW bus in 1954! Seriously, it's quite a quick survey but very interesting and worth one's time.

The cake - worth one's time, but not as interesting. What's good about it: it's sweet, with a crispy sugary outside, and it only takes half an hour and is totally do-able with stuff from the pantry.

I would hate to indicate that I have become such a food snob that I cannot appreciate an easy recipe and a sweet, warm cake. (It may be true, I would just hate to indicate it.) But I kind of want this cake to be something besides just sweet - tarter, or saltier, or crunchier or something. (Hmmm - if you made it as cupcakes, there would be more crispy, sticky edges. You'd have to use pineapple chunks, and it would probably take more butter and sugar in the pans...but that would be lovely, right? Little individual upsidedown cakes? Perhaps with a little squirt of caramel or whiskey sauce? Hmmmm....)

I am digging this book. (Incidentally, unlike the recipe linked above, the book is written in American terms. Hooray! After the BATTLE OF THE FLAPJACK RECIPES, I cannot take this for granted.)Her 'goodness me, I'm adorable' smile begins to wear on one, but the food shots are gorgeous, and I must say - my cake came out looking precisely like hers.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

couldn't resist




a little Easter knitting from Denise E on Ravelry.

unlike these



we survived Easter. More later.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

milestone

I noticed today that I have 999 profile views on my blogger profile.

Somebody go click on that line near my picture over there and enjoy my goofball profile.

I made a totally excellent salad dressing last night. I started with a simple vinegrette from Martha Stewart Everyday Food:

2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon minced scallion (I used green onion)
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar (I used rice vinegar, which is less acidic.)
2 Tablespoons olive oil.
salt and pepper.

Well, in part because of this rice vinegar, this was TOOOOOO SWEEEEET.

I added: more salt
a glob of grainy mustard

and a small glob of Thai chili garlic sauce (you know that red stuff with the rooster on the jar?) (Ooops - internet says it's Vietnamese, not Thai. Actually, it's Californian. Anyway, used with a somewhat cautious hand, it's good for what ails your sauces, in nearly every case.

And after that it was too thick, so I put a little more vinegar and a squish of lime juice.

And then it was awesome.

Monday, March 17, 2008

I read most of this book this afternoon. Sitting in the cafe at Borders, not ordering coffee. I had planned to, I just couldn't stop reading.

Laughing out loud, crying real tears, pressing my hand over my mouth as I relived a period of my life that I was, frankly, pretty hard-pressed to live through the first time.

I could NOT put this book down. I had to wrestle it out of my own hand.

I was out running work errands, while World's Best Husband took World's Cutest Toddler home for his nap. We had purchased a potty earlier, and I stopped at Borders to spend A FEW MINUTES looking at potty training books. (Of course we have no freakin' idea what we're doing, and it doesn't help that every potty training tale we hear from our peers start with "well, for God's sake, don't do what we did" or perhaps "don't do what my parents did".)

(No kidding. I am scared. Of potty training.)

(And of course we are going to start talking about potty training during Holy Week, the crunchiest crunch time of my year. The plan is not to have actual potty use yet, but just to have it around, you know...build suspense. Create demand.)

Anyway, I read some excerpts from potty training advice books (ranging from jokey to Jeez, this is creepy) and then happened upon this book, The Second Nine Months by Vicki Glembocki, which I thought I would just glance through. Ha Ha.

I have no idea whether this book would be meaningful for anyone else. Part of me thinks that it was so stunning for me because her experience mirrored mine so precisely.
And then another part of me runs through the birth and new motherhood narratives that friends and acquaintences have shared, and I think - well, actually, I guess my experience, and the author's, were pretty average.

But when she talks about her rage - burning, utter rage - at her husband, her frustration and brokenness as her jaundiced kid fails to gain weight, her fears (well-founded) about fitting in with the other mommies, her yearning to return to work (I can only guess that the complications of working make up lots of the pages I didn't get to...)

Ian's first year was pretty much the worst year of my life (NOT HIS FAULT, I hasten to add. Well, not exactly. Not, you know, personally.) And I have told a lot of stories, mostly funny, about it. But Vicki Glembocki has put into words what I have never been able to.

I thought about buying a copy and STANDING OVER MY HUSBAND while he read it. And honestly, we pride ourselves on our communication skills, and even at our most contentious, I'd say we're pretty attuned to one another. And yet I know that he would understand me better after reading this other woman's book.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Best of the nets

1. Mrs. Kennedy interacts with her son:
Me: You know what? Whining isn't really the best way to get what you want in life.

Jackson: It isn't?

Me: No.

Jackson: I'm so confused.

Me: Uh . . .

Jackson: And normally it's very difficult to confuse me.



read it here, it's funny.

2. Twisty attends her father's funeral:
It was like the set designers from Twin Peaks and Napoleon Dynamite had fused with Elvis Presley’s interior decorator and been reborn as Liberace’s angst-ridden evil twin, who then suffered a psychotic break, and bought up the world’s supply of harvest gold flocked wallpaper, brass upholstery tacks, and fake oak paneling, and ate it all with fava beans and a nice Chianti, and then puked it up all over the living room from Sartre’s No Exit.
.

read it here.



3. My knitting machine looks kinda sorta like this: - different brand and specifics but that basic mechanism. Zillions of pictures here.

4. Hey! Celebrate with me! The manual which was lost has been found! Along with more parts! (When I was despairing, I searched on the web for the documentation, though not really exhaustively. Because, honestly, Easter's coming, and so my exhaustion must be saved for professional pursuits rather than recreational ones.)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Poop.

Several weeks ago, I became the excited owner of a mint-condition, all-pieces-intact 80s vintage knitting machine. But I had no place to set it up, what with all the moving furniture and the pulling up carpet and the repurposing of rooms. We've lived in this house for 16 years, and its housed numerous friends and almost equally numerous pets (and occasionally some friends' pets)(though not, to our knowledge, any pets' friends). Factor in the art projects, group meetings, creative collaborations and the fact that both Eric and I have supported ourselves working in the basement, and its clear that:

this has been a great house for us and
no wonder we have such a stunning amount of crap in here.

BUT It's been a great year for getting the house to work better and for getting out from under our stunning amount of crap.

So much so that I was able to set up the machine and give it a good cleaning tonight. (I was going to make fun of my husband for going to a magic event tonght, until I realized that my evening had been spent shouting "Swiper No Swiping!" and cleaning a knitting machine with Q-tips and alcohol. Who is the geekiest of them all?)

BUT NOW I CAN'T FIND THE DOCUMENTATION!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAgh!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Monday, March 10, 2008

In the News:

My sister-in-law in the DC City Paper

It's Gary Gygax's world, we just live in it (today's NYTimes)

My friend Paul looks like the kid from Everwood
but I didn't realize how much until he posted this old photo. Eerie, isn't it?

That is all.

EDITED TO ADD: No, it isn't. In the New Yorker that arrived today, a long report on magic and magicians in New York by Adam Gopnik, who's pretty great. I'm not a magician, but I'm close, and I am willing to say: Pretty well done so far.

It's REALLY HARD to write about magic - the particulars and especially the subculture - for regular people, in a way that's not beastly and not boring. The story itself is not on the web, but the abstract is here. The ending is particularly nice, but I guess you'll have to head to the newstand for that.

I had to dig up last week's issue, having somehow missed the excerpt from The Bishop's Daughter by Honor Moore.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

No Knead to fear -

Bread update: I just mixed up a batch following the Sullivan Street Bakery recipe (as Natasha recommended.)

(Now I just need to remember to write a note, telling Beloved Husband and Darling Child to leave it the f alone until tomorrow afternoon)

Life in general good. Behind on work. Palm Sunday and Good Friday seem to be accelerating as they approach. Nonetheless, Deep Shift conference is worth attending. (And rumour has it that the NYC gathering will be very affordable. So I think you should probably sign up.)




Ian ate soap in the tub tonight. On purpose. More than once. (It was Neutrogena, which does not taste as bad as other bath soap. YES< BECAUSE I TASTED IT. Just to see.)

Perhaps he has some dietary deficiancy....like bubbles, maybe?

Monday, March 03, 2008

Is it me? Really? Seriously, you can tell me. It's me, isn't it?

So I finally made some of this freakin' No Knead Bread that the entire bake-o-sphere has been on about for a year.

The backstory: Mark Bittman, my #1 favorite in the pantheon of favorite food writers, wrote about this idea in his column for the NYTimes Wednesday food section last November. Read it here. I must admit, I scoffed. That cannot work, I said.

But a whole lot of people got excited about this recipe, and this technique (if, in fact, leaving something in the fridge for a couple of days could be called a technique.) (And, as I consider my love of brined poultry, I guess it can.) Really, it has been the talk of the food-blogosphere.

I was looking something up on Jaden's Steamy Kitchen, which I love, and saw that she was pimping a technique that she said was even easier and resulted in a loaf that was even tastier - from a cookbook called Artisan Bread in 5 Min a Day. Seriously, who could resist that?

So on Saturday I whipped up a bowl of this dough. And tonight I baked some off. The third loaf is in the oven right now for another couple of minutes. We've eaten one small loaf - I had planned to have it with dinner, but it didn't get done in time, so now it's not dinner, it's just an experiment.

Here are the things I think I did wrong:
I may not have used enough salt.
I think I may have played with the dough too much.
I definately didn't give those first two loaves enough time to proof today between fridge and oven.

It was never spectacularly wet and sticky like the dough Bittman talks about - after just a little while on the counter, it was more springy and earloby, like regular bread dough after some turns in the KitchenAide.

The result:
The crust is really excellent. No complaints there. (The bread I bake normally is famous for its crust, but the famous crust is the product of a fairly fiddly process involving ice water, a pump-spray bottle, and way too many oven-door-openings for a house with a toddler in it. This is definately the best crust I have ever had without the insane fiddling.)

The crumb (the soft inside part) is soft, medium dense, uniform rather than bubbley or interestingly textured. I was disappointed in this, especially after seeing the gorgeous photos like this one:
from Steamy Kitchen.

She also raves about the flavor, and this is where the evidence lies that I have gone wrong somewhere. The flavor of my loaves is decent, but it's not great.

On the scale of bread flavor (0 being a white hoagie roll at Subway, decidedly far worse than Wonderbread, and 10 being Peter Rinhart's Brother Juniper slow-rise French Bread made at home - dude, this was a 4. That's me, being charitable. A charitable 4.

Ideas for next time:
I could always try FOLLOWING THE DIRECTIONS.
I could go with the Bittman/Sullivan Street recipe (which has no sugar)(which is where I think the flavor problem may lie.)

I have to say, though - I was wrong. This really is easy and fast, and it really does result in a loaf of bread with some seriously good characteristics.

Figures that I would start experimenting with this at the END of winter, doesn't it? You'll be able to spot our house this summer. It'll be the one that runs the air conditioning all day and night, with the tip jar on the porch.

And it'll smell awesome.