Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Two things about which I said "I cannot believe how beautiful that is."

from The Sartorialist today. Please go there and spend a couple of minutes with the large size of this photo. I love The Sartorialist.


Falling Slowly

I had heard this on the radio a couple of times - it made a huge impression from the first - but didn't know where/who it was until hearing it on the Oscars Sunday. The performance is just heartbreaking to me, just devastating.

(I'm also really struck, watching the clips, that these are the two least 'actor-y' -looking people I have ever seen anywhere, let alone starring in a movie.)

Anyway, some beauty in realness for a rainy day.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Pretty convicted by a cartoon bunny

Samantha Morton is a serious actress. She's been nominated for piles of awards (Oscars, Emmys, BAFTAs, Golden Globes, Independent Spirits) and won many of them. This is especially notable since she is only 31.

We hate her.

Okay, we don't hate her. We love her with Christian love, of course, and with the sort of admiration one reserves for accomplished thespians. (And after reading her brief bio just now, the kind of admiration on reserves for people who have overcome exceptional adversity.)

But we don't tend to see those very serious rewarding movies around here.

We are familiar with Samantha Morton's work for the same reason most Americans are:

She's the most annoying cartoon voice on TV.

She's the voice of the big sister bunny on Ruby and Max. Ruby and Max is a lovely show and the dude loves it and I love practically everything about it - the incidental music, the wallpaper, the old-fashioned toys and their brand names (like the Little Earsplitter Ambulance). Max's expressions, and the way he sticks his paws out when he walks.

But Ruby - controlling, neat, purpose-driven Ruby - makes me crazy. I realize it's not just the voice, of course. The voice is plenty grating, but I think the crazy goes a little deeper.

Ruby always has some PROJECT going on. Something she needs to do - practice for a recital, make a poster for a BunnyScouts event, hustle little Max off to someplace to do something or other that he isn't particularly interested in doing.

Max, on the other hand, lives in the moment, pretty beautifully. He's fully alive, playing in a mud puddle or catching fireflies.

He's Ian, catching fireflies in the discarded bottle. And I'm Ruby, pushing the bottle aside,checking my watch, frog-marching him on so we can go somewhere and do something.

YES OF COURSE there are things we need to do. I don't feel at all bad about the hustling, even the frog-marching, involved in a pediatrician visit or even getting to the babysitters on time. I have no shame about wrestling him into his coat (oh, will it really be spring someday?)for a timely run to the dry cleaner, or overpowering his wriggling butt into a grocery cart.

But sometimes, I just need to sit down on the curb and leave him in the mud puddle for a while.

AmericanDigest.org, via my brother.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Baltimore - lustier than Rochester, not as naughty as Salt Lake City.

Andrew points out this feature in Forbes - the top ten American cities for the Top Seven Deadly sins, as discerned through spending and retail sales trends. Not the measures I would have chosen, but points for a clever idea.

I cannot believe that Washington doesn't rank in Envy or Pride.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I miss Pokey.

But not all the time.

via Whoopee.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

and of course I am watching American Idol

is it just me, or does this year's top 30 have an extra-large portion of boys who sing
like women?

Okay, that's not very nice, and not a very progressive feminist or Christian thing to say.

It's also not actually what I meant.

What I actually meant was - LOOK like women. An extra-large portion of boys who LOOK like women.

Food Blogging as Procrastination

I have work to do.

I actually have 2 things due at work tomorrow, both of which need writing.

Instead, let me tell you about wanting an cast iron Aebleskiver pan.

I was reading Unclutterer, which I totally dig, and they were making fun of an as-seen-on-TV item called the Pancake Puff Kit. I haven't seen this on TV. I had never heard of it until tonight.

Yes, yes, yes, the web page is ludicrous.
Yes, it would be wrong to pay an additional $20 plus shipping for a plastic pastry cream squirter and some wooden skewers.
Yes, I'm sure the product is poorly made, designed as it was to be sold sight unseen.
And, yes, as is UnClutterer's main point, it is a total unitasking item, one that would sit untouched in the cabinet at least 300 days a year.

Dude, I want one.

Come on! You want one too, don't you? Don't you?? Don't you want to make spherical baked goods? And eat them while they're almost too hot to eat? Or else fill them with pastry cream and impress the crap out of other people?

Incidentally, I take a back seat to no one in my admiration for multi-task tools. I have 2 items (a cast iron skillet and a dutch oven) that I use every time I cook. I use the same wooden spoons and tongs every single night. I have 3 knives. Okay, and a bread knife. 4 knives.

But come on!! My french press doesn't do anything but make coffee, one cup at a time, but it does a good job. I want coffee, and I get coffee. So, go french press.

So I think I want pancake balls.

So I will be looking for one of these.

None too glamourous, but.....COME ON!

OH! and you know what else? Do you know what the traditional Danish implement for turning the spheres is?


How do I not have one of these already?

Friday, February 15, 2008

Today's recipe: the vegetable thing

I don't know where I got this recipe - perhaps from a library book called The Occasional Vegetarian, by Karen Lee. I recall liking that book, though I've never bought a copy. It seems to me that it was called a vegetable Tien, but a quick web search indicates that's not an english, or cooking, word. So I may have that totally wrong.

BUT it's an easy recipe, and it's delicious. It's in the oven as we speak.

2 small eggplants, sliced
2 large potatoes, sliced
2 (or more) tomatoes, sliced
1 red onion, sliced

olive oil

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Generously salt the eggplant slices and leave them to drain in a colander in the sink, at least 1 hour.

2. combine one-half cup olive oil with 2 cloves pressed garlic, and let it steep on the counter while the eggplant drains.

3. Rinse the eggplant slices. Dry each one, dip it in the oil, and fry over medium-high heat in a single layer until crusty and brown. (This seems like it will never happen, but it will. Squishing a little with your spatula will help.)

4. in a large glass cassarole (I used a tempered bowl) layer the vegetables. Sprinkle clipped herbs and salt and pepper between layers. Drizzle the top with the remaining oil (or some more plain olive oil.)

I don't think it matters what order you layer the veggies in - I tend to start with potatoes on the bottom, since they're the only thing that really needs cooking.

5. Bake at 350 for more than an hour (check at 45 min - if it's browning too much, you can cover it with foil) until the potatoes are soft.

This is good hot, cold, at room temperature, and is rather better the second day. It's very filling. The one I'm cooking now has fresh herbs and a sliced red pepper, (because it was on sale, which it never is...) but I used ancient dusty McCormick herbs in the past, and it's always been fine.

This recipe, in fact, recalls my only kitchen Brush With Celebrity - I made this for Dave Wilcox in 1999. (I catered the greenroom at his Cedar Ridge show.)

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Ladies and Gentlemen, My Brother!

My brother writes books. He takes great pictures. He's a great cook, a creative brewer, a spectacular bargain shopper, a good stone-skipper, and an expert on a whole bunch of really obscure things.

And, as of a few hours ago, he's also a blogger.

May I direct your kind attention to:

He'll be spending the weekend live-blogging a Belgian beer fest (not in Belgium. In Fells Point.) (The whole setup sounds a little like some on-air radio stunt to show the pernicious effects of drinking.)

My brother has been a beer writer and brewer for at least a decade. I have never, ever seen him even tipsy, not even when I visited him at college and we spent hours at the Stone Balloon. I find this odd.

Anyway, a drink blog - it's the perfect companion to my accidental food blog.

after a month of crap internet service

cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

we are getting fios tomorrow.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Burtonsville: an interesting place for people who eat food

I work in the middle of nowhere.

The church is on a former farm, on a short stretch of road strung between two more significant roads. Some things about the area seem very rural, but it's too developed and well-traveled to be really country. And while some of the woods and ex-farmland nearby are pretty, there is nothing scenic about the piece of 198 where I work.

But let's put aside the very real challenges of suburban ministry (more like exurb ministry)for the moment...and talk food. I came to a stunning realization on Sunday afternoon - that Burtonsville, Md, which lacks so many things, is really up to its metaphorical neck in interesting places to eat.

I realized this as I waved goodbye to Genet and walked out of Oromia, the brand new coffeehouse that has opened in a strip center on 198. As well as excellent coffee drinks, and iced tea that actually taste like tea (!), they serve excellent sandwiches - and Ethiopian food!

I had never had African food before last week, when my friend Sarah and I visited Oromia. Sarah had lived in Africa, and as soon as she saw the design of the coffeehouse's sign, as gasped "It's Ethiopian!!" and RAN through the doors. We had a delicious lunch, and great coffee, and now I have somewhere besides Starbucks to deal daily with my caffeine issues.

We had lunch there Sunday, and as I was leaving the shop with the kid, I looked around and could see:

Hunan Manor, which serves a fine menu of inexpensive (Gringo-oriented) entrees. On Sundays, they offer a special menu, a page or more of fresh, authentic dishes (you know, those foods that your inlaws are scared of?) I've never had anything bad there. The staff will not steer you wrong.

a Cuban restaurant that the Post lists in its top ten

a great Afghan kabob place

brilliant homemade ice cream (and - sorry to have to say this - a great staff but horrid food.)

and a Mexican/Salvadoran restaurant that we eat at all the time.

Across Rt 29, there's a family-owned Italian white-tablecloth place, and a pretty good wine shop.

And of course, there's the Dutch Market, which is like paradise for me, combining, as it does, spiffy meats and produce with fresh baked good and cheese...and the strange flavors of my rural central PA childhood. Chicken corn soup with rivvles! Real pot pie! sour cherry custard!

Apparently, we about going to lose the Dutch Market soon; the owners of the (admittedly down-at-the-heels) strip center are going to re-develop it, and the market will have to go (Post story here.)

I'm guessing that low density and relatively low income has kept Burtonsville off the radar for most chain restaurants (we have plenty of fast food and sandwich franchises, and, of course, The Man) and so some small local chains and family-owned places have been able to make it work.

It's been interesting seeing the area change - get more diverse and interesting - in the years since we built the church. I can't imagine what will happen in the coming years.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Today's recipe: bread pudding

Steaming sweetly on the counter right this second:

A pie pan of this bread pudding with some nuts mixed in.

Pet Peeve: Because I have always hated burned raisins (these are okay, but a couple look a bit cinge-ed -) Next time I will try sprinkling the raisins into the pan before the bread, rather than on top. My bread floated a lot, because it was not the day-old sliced bread called for in the recipe, but huge chunks of week-old rustic walnut and raisin bread from The French Confection in Sandy Spring.

In the crock pot: more chili, this batch for tonight's magician's club meeting. (No, they don't have a secret handshake.)

Friday, February 08, 2008

Blogger won't show this at full size...

...but if you click below, it'll take you to a readable size.

You should totally click.

I found it on Berbercarpet's Flickr page, which has a variety of funny stuff. He doesn't say if he's the author or not... it's just great.

go to large size

Monday, February 04, 2008

when worlds collide

blasphemy alert.
Please do not watch this.

I saw it yesterday, and I felt compelled to post it.

It's the intersection of my two worlds: Liturgy and Toddler.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Today's Recipe: Walnut Tart

Mark Bittman rules, I have said before. When I saw this recipe in Wednesday's NYTimes food section, I knew I'd make it soon.

This is seriously good.

And before devoted reader NYK accuses me of, I don't know, trying to poison my family with saturated fat or mastermind America's obesity epidemic or something, let me tell you that this tart will serve at least 12. Bittman is nuts (ha ha) to suggest that this serves 8. (Perhaps as a main dish.) A TINY SLIVER of this - a piece so small it looks ridiculous - is very satisfying.

Other kitchen projects:
freezing bacon (because we need about a year to go through a pound of bacon, and they don't sell it by the slice.) (Method here.)

making guacamole. I used Trader Joe's produce section Guacamole Kit - a little box with all the veggies you need (in a non-cilantro household, which we are.) . I approve of this product wholeheartedly - the produce was ripe and fresh, sat happily on my counter for a couple of days (I cannot bring myself to refrigerate a tomato. I just can't. It's like microwaving baked goods. I'm sorry, but that's just wrong.)

(And they say we postmodern religionists don't believe in absolute truth. HA!)

Anyway, the guac kit is a good idea, and well-executed except for TEH GARLIC!!!AAAGHHHH!!! i has been kllld by teh garlic!

My husband, oddly, was not killed by the garlic, and happily ate nearly every slimy green bit in the bowl. The child even ate some. On purpose.

Roasting potato wedges (I wanted to give you a bonus recipe, because these came out really well, but the NYTimes site has had enough of my foolishness for one night and wants a password. Pffft, forget it. Basically, you bake some potatos, cut them into wedges, and toss them in an olive oil/mustard/salt-pepper-spice mix (I used paprika) and then roast them for 20 more minutes in a 500-degree oven. They get nice and crusty.

Incidentally, all those pictures are from other sites - my camera has died. (Perhaps it's teh garlic?)

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Today's recipe: Oven Pancake

This is in the oven as we speak. For 41 more seconds. I added a drizzle of vanilla extract, so it smells especially excellent.

I also recommend the french press coffee and "Tak and the Power of Ju Ju" to round out this balanced breakfast.

A small handful of chocolate chips doesn't hurt, either.

I haven't explored much of the blog above, but this first glance looks wonderful.