Wednesday, December 30, 2009


It is that time again: the time to make resolutions for the new year. In the past, I've been a bit curmudgeonly about the process of resolution making, denouncing it as nothing more than the result of overzealous optimism (which is usually depleted by early March, if not sooner). This year, perhaps owing to my cultivation of a brighter outlook, or perhaps due to my setting my sights on more realistic achievements, I have a different take. I'm not as crabby! I've already started working on these projects (or goals, if you'd like)! Here, then, is a list of what I'd like to accomplish in 2010:

1) Run a 10K by late fall
This seems doable, right? I think so - as long as my left knee and/or right foot don't give me any trouble. I'm planning to run two (three?) 5Ks prior to running a 10K, beginning with the Kaiser Permanente 5K in early February.

2) Read 50 books
Reading 50 books was a goal of mine this year and I'm SO CLOSE to finishing. (Note: as of this writing, I've read 48 full books and am working on the 49th. The 50th is going to be short, though the 49th, Tom Perotta's "The Abstinence Teacher," is loooong.) Fifty doesn't sound like a lot, does it? This year, between finishing and defending my thesis, moving x-country a few times, and plunking into the "real world," I decided otherwise. Maybe next year I'll aim for 75.

3) Make my own cheese
A goal inspired in part by a chapter in "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle," in part by my growing fascination with learning to cook everything and using local ingredients. My sister is skeptical about the quality of my yet-to-be-made cheese, but I am so stoked! I just ordered my cheese making manual on Amazon; until its arrival, I will fill the dairy void with Babybel and selections from the Haight St. Market.

Those are my main goals. There will be others, yes, smaller and subtler and less public than the ones just presented, but if I accomplish these three things in the coming year, I will be happy.

Happy upcoming 2010, friends!

Saturday, December 26, 2009


Ah, yes: it has been almost two weeks since I've posted. A busy two weeks, mind you (but aren't most weeks busy?), but that's still no excuse for the ueberdelay in blogging. Maybe it is? I haven't felt super updatey recently, until now. And now, here I am! Things are running smoothly here in the T.C. Yas.

I returned to Minnesota to spend winter break with my mom and sis and the visit (thus far) has been awesome! Hook flew back with me and spent the first five days of vaca here, in Coon Rapids. We accomplished a lot during those first days of break. For example, we:

- Went to the Russian Museum of Art (the existence of which was unknown to me until like, a week ago) and saw the Matrushka Doll exhibit.

- Made four types of truffles (honey lemon, Jack Daniel's, cinnamon, and almond), gingerbread cookies, and sugar cookies, all from scratch

- Reluctantly watched "The Proposal," all the while wondering how Sandra Bullock's career has not altogether perished by this point in time

- Walked to my favorite childhood bakery (Hans'), which is 4.3 miles away from my house and not easily accessible via sidewalk.

- Enjoyed lunchberts and boneless wings at the local BWW, which I'd never previously visited.

My favorite part of Hook's visit was the trip to Hans'. I'm a sucker for long walks (round trip was an estimated eight miles) and for donuts, and I hadn't been back to Hans' in at least three years (but probably longer). The shop was exactly as I remembered: dimly-lit, with raggy carpet, wood-paneled walls and orange Formica booths. Because we'd gotten a later start than initially planned, we arrived at 1:00. The dining room was empty. I ordered my favorite donut (chocolate long john with custard filling) and a coffee, which tasted like watery instant coffee. The donut was trans-fatted perfection.

The house is quiet. I just put some laundry in and am eating a small dish of assorted licorices. Oh, licorice, how delicious you are. Hook's taste in Old Man Candy is rubbing off on me.

I realized that the reason this font never posts correctly when I blog from my mom's computer is that I'm forced to use Safari instead of Firefox. Still, I blog. What a convoluted sentence followed by a fine, declarative sentence!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Breakfast success: Cap'n Crunch pancakes. Well, pancake: I made a regular batch + one CC pancake at the very end, with what remained of the batter - this in case the cerealcake was a total flop - but oh, man! I have to say this was one of my better breakfast innovations.

I was a little shocked to realize that I'll be heading back to MN in just under a week. How did Xmas sneak up on me so? Accomplished: the beginning of Xmas shopping. To-be accomplished: the rest of Xmas shopping, the purchase/writing/sending of Xmas cards, the finding of my stocking somewhere in my piles of stuff. How did I lose my stocking? What is going on?

Last night, Hook and I strolled down to Murio's after dinner, dessert, and book shopping on Haight. As it so happens, yesterday was Murio's 50th anniversary party, complete with decorations, a buffet of fried things, and a DJ whose lineup included only 80s megahits. The bar was a little more crowded than usual (not much), but the relatively sparse crowd did not surprise me: it was, after all, Murio's.

I need to download Skype.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Just an ordinary day.

So here it is, Sunday evening, and I am not even too sad that the week is about to start. True, I am still afflicted by the Cold of Death (though I am recovering), and true, I still have laundry to do. But the weekend was so lovely and relaxing that my typical Monday-induced anxiety has dissipated - temporarily, at least. Weekend highlights:

1) Friday night, Hook and I went to La Trappe, a Belgian restaurant in North Beach. I was super excited about this meal, not only because I dig frites with multiple dipping sauces (wasabi mayo, anyone?), but also because I hella heart Belgian beer. The fries did not disappoint, nor did the Affligem blonde. Bonus: I ordered grilled veggies and polenta that were garnished with blood orange reduction, which was awesome.

2) Yesterday evening, after dinner with Suzy and Turtle, Hook and I completed three New York Times crossword puzzles in good time. One of these puzzles was a Wednesday. My helpfulness in the completion of these puzzles was aided greatly by my consumption of two-buck chuck and ginger candies.

3) This morning, H and I finally made it to Zazie, which is widely considered one of the better brunch locales in the city. Our trip there required some planning; during past weekends, we'd shown up around 10:30 only to be greeted by a redonkulous line. Today, we arrived at 9:50ish and were seated right away(!) The dining room was small but bright (via skylight); each table had homemade preserves and ketchup. As it turns out, Hook and I ordered the exact same breakfast: scrambled eggs, bacon, and one pancake - but not an ordinary pancake! Rather, a gingerbread pancake with lemon curd and a bosc pear wedge. Oh god: this was the most memorable carb-centered experience of my life. Those who know me know that I rarely finish a restaurant portion of anything, but today I ate that whole pancake. (Aside: the eggs were a tad underdone: so noticeably so that I did not eat them, although I did pepper and mash them to make it look like I'd taken some good bites.)

4) I finally started my Christmas shopping! This probably doesn't deserve an exclamation point, but I tossed one in there, anyway, because I'm typically an Xmas slacka. Self-affirmation is good.

The upcoming week will include my hunt for a gingerbread pancake recipe, my wearing of gloves (another weekend accomplishment: the purchase of gloves), and the beginning of the Xmas card writing process, maybe. First, I have to find cards...

Friday, November 27, 2009

Wow: I have never before encountered standing water that smells so much like turkey fat.
Yes, that's right: Thanksgiving dishes were left in the sink until just now. An uncharacteristic move, yes, but I am suffering a new permutation of the Cold of Death and after yesterday's ueberfeast was unable to do anything but watch an On-demanded Sesame Street movie. Gosh.


Where were we? It has been an eventful, eventful month. Recalling Halloween, Ali and Kit visited for just the weekend. Friday, we dined at Ploy II Thai (the selfsame place where I ate my first SF dinner(!)) and then spent some quality time at Murio's and Hobson's Choice. (Aside: quality time is rare at Murio's - much of the time I've spent there feels idle, but there have been a few enjoyable trips.) Stumbling up the stairs, we tore into the Jack-O-Lantern-shaped loaf from Boudin, then fell into bed. Saturday was bagels, Bank of America, a random mosey into the Lower Haight, and then a trip to Chinatown. I love Chinatown, though every time I've gone I feel I've gotten lost: that I can't quite make my way out. Perhaps that's part of its appeal? Picked up an adorable pandapple aluminum water bottle and a panda pile for Hook, mused over area bakeries. Ali, in an attempt to sate my unending sweet tooth, pointed out a seeming bakery called "Paradise of Heaven," only to discover that it was actually a butcher shop, flanks and sides and heads all laid out in a case of green plastic garnish.
Sunday was brunch with my housemates, a mess of French toast and jars of jam all laid out on a lazy-Susan. We drank mimosas in the living/dining room, sat on hard-backed chairs and made the most polite of conversations. Then, afterward, we went to the Ferry Building and Fisherman's Wharf. Sampled blood orange olive oil and truffle salt ( and Ali bought a tote bag, as is her way, and Fisherman's Wharf was exactly as it always was. We had a terrible mediocre dinner at Wipeout!, then fro-yo with piles of stale gummi candy while we sat at a table gooey with melt. By the time we reached the water it was dark out, but we could hear the sea lions barking, and we could smell them.


The next weekend, Hook and I attended Jaime and Matthew's wedding(!) A belated congratulations to J & M(!!!) I hadn't been to St. Louis since...2005? Or maybe late-late 2004: the precise date is anyone's guess. At any rate, I was excited to see which of my memories held true, and which were mostly fabrications. I was able to recognize several streets, several shops (though some of the restaurants I'd once used as landmarks have since closed), and, of course, Kopperman's. (!!!! for Kopperman's.) Got a volume of Vonnegut at Left Bank Books and felt odd in the unseasonable 70 degrees, wearing a sleeveless dress in the true autumn.


I'd been looking forward to Thanksgiving for some time, this excitement owing to the prospect of cooking a large, butter-laden meal according to the old traditional recipes. Ah, butter! Only a few times a year do I enjoy you in such a carefree manner! H and I teamed up with Sabina and Thomas to host dinner: the event proper was at Sabina's, but H and I cooked a turkey (complete with a stuffing of aromatic veggies and a spice rub), stuffing (mom's recipe), two types of cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie, and gravy. The pie didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped: the filling didn't totally set - this, I think, a result of my cooking two pies at once (and perhaps for too short a time? by five minutes or so?). But it was tasty and, as one guest remarked, not unlike a pumpkin shake. The stuffing was so similar to my mom's, despite my use of only half the butter called for in the recipe. (Aside: the original recipe calls for two sticks of butter per recipe of stuffing. WHAT??? So I subbed in some low-sodium chix broth.) In all, a memorable meal, sipping malbec and musing over who might win this season's Top Chef, then retiring to the sofas for some post-indulgence TV.


That's mostly to the present, sort-of. There are other tidbits, of course. I got short bangs cut after seeing "An Education" and being uebersmitten with Carey Mulligan's hairdo. I registered for my first 5K, which will take place in two weeks. (Eeek.) I am now suffering the worst cold of my lyfe and am chugging diet Canada Dry like it's my job, and thank god it's a long weekend. I'd otherwise be so toast.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I don't know...

Can you blame a lady for slouching? And the shirt isn't so bad...

Real update to follow, I promise.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

And it's Sunday again. The weekends seem to pass more quickly: perhaps because I have more obligations (perceived or otherwise)? This weekend, though, has been exceptionally productive:

1) Friday, the Blue Velvet party went [mostly] as planned. Hook made the cupcakes (delicious!), and instead of watching the movie, we had homemade egg rolls. Later, I picked up H's guitar and played the few things I remembered from when I took lessons, these being three chords + the pentatonic scales. But Hook found the tab for Bach's Bourree in E Minor, which I'm going to learn & which will be my formal reintroduction to guitar playing(!)

2) We finally made it to the MOMA, where we saw the Avedon exhibit, as well as this. The P_Wall reminded us both of Joe Page's work, though Page is way, way better.

3) Last night we went for the first time to the Roller Derby! Our initial lack of comprehension of the rules did not damper our enthusiasm for the sparkly pseudoviolence that transpired. Highlights included the $5 beer + shot value combo (holla for value) and the Rocketdog booth where one could sign up to foster (adorable) homeless dogs. And the derby, of course.


This morning had the chilliness of a real fall morning. I'm going to hold off on using my heater until the temperatures drop further.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Worst day ever, part two?

NO. It was actually a pretty good day. Though I woke up late, I managed to get out of the house on time - and with good hair! And not having skipped breakfast or percolated coffee! The students were awesome: one talked to me all through recess, telling me what to expect at this weekend's Fall Fair, and I was invited to sit at the coolest lunch table while I was on lunch duty (the sitting being an arguable dereliction of duty, but whatevs). The rainstorm that gathered in the late afternoon cleared before I walked home, and I bought the best-ever Mountain Goats EP on iTunes. I am listening to said EP at the moment. I have a red velvet cupcake waiting for me in the fridge.

What detracted from this pleasant day, you might wonder? PARKING TICKETS. I just paid $199 in parking fines and I am not pleased about it. This beer is helping, but not enough. Oh, San Francisco, I love everything about you but your pigeons and your redonkulously-strict parking regulations!

Major plus and major spoiler alert for those living in this metro area who will be hanging out with us this weekend (i.e., Drew): Hook is going to throw a Blue Velvet party at which we will watch "Blue Velvet," eat blue velvet cupcakes, and drink PBR. Win(!!!).

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Slowly, I am joining the rest of the human race.

Most excellent news: I'm one step closer to becoming a functioning member of society! That is, I replaced my terrible Razr of Doom (which was killed in last week's giant rainstorm) with an iPhone. I realize I'm about two years late to this trend - as I am to most tech trends: oops - but this phone is so exciting. I mean, this morning, I looked up a pancake recipe on my phone! And bookmarked it! And then downloaded the Emoji app and sent some texts composed entirely of pastry icons! Such utility cannot be paralleled.

I did suffer - and indeed, am still suffering - a bout of guilt: that is, I felt slightly frivolous buying this phone. After all, it's doubtful that I actually need internet access at all times. But the iPhone is a beautiful object. Also, I get lost a lot, so the maps will help me. Also, the joy I felt yesterday sending texts was equal to the joy I felt when I sent my first-ever text message - and I haven't felt that way in a long time.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


That bears repeating: worst day ever. I had no idea that SF could be considered a rain capital of the world, but so it can. (Aside: and of course I, not having packed thoughtfully, left all waterproof outerwear in Minnesota. DOI.) Going to work this morning, I got drenched. I'm not exaggerating: my shoes were completely sodden and my jeans were wet from the knees down. You may be wondering how this was even possible. Well, friends, I don't know. The rain was coming down in sheets & these sheets were blowing sideways in the wind, and my umbrella is basically decorative. Fortunately, today was my short day (school gets out at 1:05 instead of 3:15), so the agony of having wet feet was [mercifully] truncated.

BUT THEN. Oh, but then I called the district center to inquire after the paycheck I should have received last week (but didn't). The payroll person claims not to have received my time card, which I most certainly faxed on time! Not only did I fax this documentation on time, but I called the payroll coordinator to make sure the fax had gone through - and it had. Oy! So I will be getting paid sometime in the indeterminate future.

Still more shit hit the fan when my phone broke - the display just...went blank. Water damage, I think, from today's helladeluge. I called Verizon, only to discover that I can't buy a new phone without extending my mom's family-plan contract. (Aside: I am not allowed to extend this contract because my mom hates hates hates Verizon.) Verdict: I must keep this phone until February, when the contract expires.

Things are looking up, though. For one thing, I changed out of my wet clothes when I got home (again: DOI). My phone's display is better, I think, though I'm currently letting the phone and battery dry separately. And I'm going to buy a raincoat and rain boots online tonight: EMS is having a sale, y'all! And Target has a hella good selection of boots. There's not much that online shopping can't fix. Furthermore, I got not one but TWO letters in the mail, plus The Miracle of Mindfulness (which I'd recently ordered on Amazon). Score! The rain - at least, as it appears from my window - seems to be subsiding. I have some Mothership Wit in the fridge. Breathe. Repeat.

Monday, October 12, 2009

First post from my new apartment! Yes, friends: I'm mostly moved in to my new place; I say "mostly" because I still have a big pile o' possessions (all my shoes minus three pairs, printer, FADO lamp, some coats, makeup, etcetcetc.) @ Hook's place. But, all my IKEA furniture is assembled and arranged, the boxes broken down and taken to the recycling barrel in the courtyard. So life is good.

Had the day off on account of Columbus/Indigenous Peoples Day. Woke up at eight, made breakfast, had some coffee, hung the rest of my clothes in my closet. Met Hook for lunch and ate a chocolate croissant on the walk home. That croissant, though delicious, may have been a terrible idea: I'm not sure I'll be hungry for dinner. Oooops. I'm reading The Rules of Attraction and I alternate between semi-enjoying and loathing it. I don't so much dig multiple narrators, though I think the strategy works well here. (Aside: none of the narrators is vibrant enough to carry an entire novel-length narrative, don't you think?) Applied to a few editorial jobs: keep your fingers crossed.

Good news: Hook and I joined a gym! Bad news: the gym is far away (18th and Geary), so we might not go very often. Or ever. Just kidding: we will totally go. Good news: Pilates classes are included in the cost of the membership. Bad news: those classes are held when I'm at work.

I wish the sun would come out, but it's a bit late in the afternoon for that. Siiigh! Haven't given up hope yet, though - the weather here is krazy.

Tonight will bring the viewing of multiple "Office" episodes and an early bedtime. I'm so stoked.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

My heart is buffered by particleboard.

IKEA happened, and O what a trip it was! I am now the proud owner of a dresser, two [baby blue] Lack tables, a drying rack, a new down comforter/cover, some Lingonberry jam...the list goes on. As one might imagine, IKEA is not a fun place to be hungover. Then again, IKEA is never fun and hangovers are also never fun, and so the lack of enjoyment was totally predictable.
On the plus side, my room is almost fully furnished, and Hook and I split a "princess" cake at the IKEA cafe. The princess cake was like a Swedish Twinkie.

Hook and I were just discussing the time, way back when, when texting hadn't yet become an integral part of one's daily life. At the present time, I can't imagine a day without texting - it just sounds impossible, doesn't it? Yessssssss. And yet, there was a time (2005) when friends of ours did not have text plans. That's all. That's what I'm thinking about. I shouldn't be as flabbergasted as I am, but only about 10% of my brain is working right now.

Now I'm going to On-demand this week's "Top Chef" and drink at least two more cups of tea. Good evening to you.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Indeed, it feels like the post-party afternoon that it is. Hook and I got the apartment cleaned up; Hook is napping. Still hoping to make it to IKEA before evening, but chances are slimmer than they were fourteen hours ago. Gah! I really need a dresser!
This is all.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Here's hoping I don't have swine flu.

After some hemming and hawing (and some difficulty figuring out how to use the district's electronic substitute location system), I called in sick to work. Lame? Yes. You know what's also lame? This headache that feels like my brain is in a fish tank. Also this sinus revolt.

On the plus, we made banana chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast. Eating these, I felt momentarily better. Perhaps by this logic I should eat pancakes constantly until my flulike symptoms cease? Or until I explode? Which would precede the other? God, I need Day Quil, but I'm too tired and lazy and unshowered to move.

In other news, this weekend is the big IKEA trip/the final stage of my move to my new apartment(!) Most of my stuff is over there now (minus a bunch of clothes, my printer, and an adorable IKEA globe lamp), but I still need a few key pieces of furniture and a down comforter before I can call the place my own. I'm a bit concerned about what my new roommates think; I mean, I'll show up for a few hours, leave for a few days, show up for a few hours... I have no food in the fridge, toilet items on the bathroom shelf. Soon, though, it's gonna change. I can feel it.

And there is this: I have a Halloween costume planned. Sabina is lending me her slutty 1950s gal getup (shortshort poodle skirt, midriff sweater, neckerchief); Hook is going to wear a short-sleeved, collared shirt and a skinny tie. We'll be like, the NASA engineer + the NASA engineer's sexy wife, or something. Details to be ironed out.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Nostalgiafest, nostalgiafest, you are a part of my daily life.

Though I haven't actually stayed [overnight] at my new apartment, my room is certainly feeling homier. This afternoon, I spent the longest amount of time at said new place that I've ever spent there (i.e., three hours); during this time, I was able to install a custom-cut dowel in my closet, unpack almost all of my clothes, sort these clothes into categories (and hang ten items in the closet - have to retrieve the other hangers from my car), unpack all my books and arrange them into neat stacks in the "reading nook," and decorate the large, blank wall. By "decorate" I mean "create an elaborate framework of postcards using landlord-denied thumbtacks." OK, so I don't know for sure if thumbtacks are a no-no, but wait 'til I post a photo of the postcard wall: you will undoubtedly agree that it is any landlord's nightmare. HA.

As tends to happen when I'm packing/unpacking, I got distracted and managed to look through an entire scrapbook whose contents date from September 2002 - May 2007. Oh, holy nostalgiafest. It's difficult for me to fathom my own prior meticulousness re: saving and chronologically-ordering scraps, stubs, and emails; in some ways, I wish I still saved everything, though I'm not sure I would now make the time for such preservationist activities. Reading through five years' of emails was lovely and difficult: I was reminded of how giddy I once was, irrational and rash. Striking, how these years-old messages shed light on current relationships.


Time now to make dinner, something quick. Sauteed swiss chard (sans sweet potatoes) and pasta with sauteed chicken and zucchini. And a Hoegaarden, for good measure. Why not? It's Tuesday.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A few observations:

1) Though regular Altoids are gross, dark chocolate Altoids are god's gift to humanity.

2) One should not chew nicotine gum as though it were regular gum.

3) Getting a full night's sleep really improves one's energy level/general outlook.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pretty much every weekend I've spent in SF has been awesome, but this one rocked my face off. (Well, parts of it rocked my face off and parts were just really annoying, but I'm trying not to focus on the annoyances.) Highlights:

1) Saturday afternoon, I accompanied Drew and Chad to Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, where we caught the end of the Old 97's set and a good portion of Gillian Welch's. (Aside: I think there should be an additional apostrophe after the 's' in 'Old 97's,' but since I'm not sure I'm going to omit it. And for this you may criticize me.) I was really impressed by the festival, as comparatively little of it as I saw - the lineup was solid, the crowd was wicked diverse (= a gathering of young hippies, yuppie parents struggling to weave jogging strollers through the masses, random middle-aged couples smoking from odd little pipes, bromancing frat guys: you name it), and the signage was more than adequate. We drank Olde English and Jaeger and squinted against the dust clouds being raised by the crowd's shuffle, and it was good.

2) Miike Snow. Holy god, this was the best show I've seen in like, five years. Following the festival and appropriate afterpartylike activities, we headed to Bottom of the Hill to see Loquat/Jack Penate/Miike Snow. Loquat (whose work I'd never previously heard) was kind of so-so: reminiscent of the Cardigans but not as good (at least, this was the judgment I made as I listened to their set from the courtyard). Jack Penate's songs were dancy and filled with lovely harmonies/awesome tambourine action. And Miike Snow was better than even I'd predicted: they opened with 'Silvia' and the crowd went nuts, and stayed nuts through the set. I've never seen a crowd so engaged; the word I used yesterday - maudlin, and perhaps too-strongly influenced by all those Stoli Raz & sodas, but I'll mention it nonetheless - was breathtaking. I stand by that description: I haven't felt so giddy at a concert since I was 19. Was a bit disappointed that they didn't play 'A Horse is Not a Home,' but as Drew so aptly noted, the slow songs really seemed to grab the ladies' attention. Well & good.

3) Hook and I found out that we were the winners of the RecipeHacking pizza competition(!) It feels good to win something, even something in which our participation was remote [geographically]. I'm excited to see what the next challenge will be.

4) This isn't really a highlight (lowlight, perhaps?), but I made a big Target trip today and dragged Drew along for moral support/driving guidance. (Aside: those of you who know me know that I'm a solid driver under normal circumstances, but there are no normal circumstances in California. Therefore, whenever I take my car out, I enlist the help of Hook or Drew so that I don't literally crash & burn.) The trip was mostly successful; that is, I got 85% of the stuff on my list and avoided [was steered away from] the Halloween candy aisle. But, the drive back into the city took an ass long time, and finding a parking spot took one hour. This is not an exaggeration: this is the god's honest truth. Now you know why I'm trying to sell my car.

This week, I'll finish moving into my new place, look for a part-time job, continue working toward my reading goal, and cook some fall dishes (acorn squash, I'm looking at you). I've finally gotten out of my penpallery rut, so check your mailboxes soon(!)

Finally, I've just eaten an obscene amount of granola. Obscene!

Friday, October 2, 2009

God, when did it get dark out?

Today was field trip day for the fourth graders. The destination? Day one of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival(!) If you think that taking 20 rowdy nine-year-olds to a festival sounds like a crazy idea - well, you're right. Kids were running and screaming and tearing their sandwiches to pieces and throwing these pieces in the air, and it was altogether a great time. MC Hammer played, and the class (though most of them had little to no idea who he was) went nuts. S. (the student teacher) and I milled and chatted and tried to prevent kids from running into the "woods." When we returned to school, the class had recess, free reading time, and more recess.

When I was in elementary school, we did not take cool field trips. Once, we went to the wastewater processing plant, but that's all I remember.

Day one of the move went well, though I have to buy a bunch of stuff (mattress pad, bookshelf, dowel for the closet, cushions for the mission chair) to make my room fully livable. I'm excited, though - I'm going to have a reading/plant nook!

On which note: time to kill that anthology.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Moving Day.

This is my fifth week in San Francisco. I'm beginning to feel settled, in small ways: I've established grocery shopping habits, have been to the dentist, can navigate the bus system without disastrous results. Today I begin the process of moving into my own apartment (i.e., room), which will undoubtedly increase my sense of settled-ness while subtly disturbing it - after all, I do have to repack and re-move all my stuff, then unpack, identify, sort, tidy. I'll eventually venture to IKEA. The grocery store, to buy a duplicate bottle of honey, and Bed Bath & Beyond for bed linens and an extra towel.

I don't know if my new place has a coffeemaker, but this will be one of the first things I find out.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Ice cream dream/the beginning of the reversal of seafood hatred.

Yesterday had many highlights, among them my acquisition of an Amy Hempel collection at Half-Price Books, our eating lunch on a median with a handful of other pizza enthusiasts, and my discovery that I actually like salmon (more on this later), but the highest highlight was a visit to Ici in Berkeley. Ohhhhhhh, man: their ice cream was the best I've had in a long time, if not ever*. I had a scoop of creme fraiche-muscat in a cone, and I did truly feel that, were the confection somehow endlessly self-replenishing, I could have eaten it forever. The flavors were so subtle (especially the muscat), and the texture of the ice cream was beautiful and velvety. The cone, too, was the best of its kind that I've ever tasted - it reminded me in some ways of a pizzelle, and the chocolate in the tip was fresh and creamy. Sigh. I had bites of the wildflower honey and Thai curry-candied peanut creams, too, and both were equally well-crafted.

Part of Ici's appeal, I think, beyond the outstanding quality of the product, is the establishment's presentation. Flawlessly neat, with white-tiled walls and the daily ice-cream flavors displayed (individually) in ribbon-strung picture frames, the shop is quaint and precious (in a good way: only in a good way) without being overwhelmingly so. It felt like a confectionery should: dainty and neat and a little bit frilly.

But enough about that: major discovery: I like salmon(!) Here's how the revelation came about: H and I went to dinner at Adam and Jen's last night, and they prepared salmon as a main course. Never a rude dinner guest, I told them that I love salmon though I did harbor a secret fear about eating such a large fillet. Well, folks: success. I discovered that salmon tastes good, that I do not (as previously thought) dislike it. What's next? Oysters?
I'm kidding! I will hate oysters forever!

Coffee time.

*Sebastian Joe's in Minneapolis and Herrell's in Northampton, MA give Ici a run for its money (esp. S.J.'s), but in a throwdown, I'm confident that Ici would blow both out of the water.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


I started work this week. No longer a member of the pseduo-leisure-class, baby!
So I'm a little behind with the weekend update (oops), but there is so much to report that I'm going to post, dubious though this move is. Ahem:

1) Saturday, I went to visit my new apartmentmates/discuss house policies/write a check for my first/last months' rent + security deposit. My new apartmentmates all seem chill - a good balance of personable and reserved - and everyone is environmentally-conscious and tidy. So that's good. Even better? My rent is actually $280 less per month than I was initially told. What? Here's the scoop: the rent listed in the craigslist ad was not the real value (which, if posted, might have elicited responses far too numerous to even be considered). The apartment is rent-controlled, and M. (one of the housemates) has been living there for 15-odd years, so...yes. I was ecstatic to make this discovery.

2) More apartment-related joys: my room is partially furnished, and the lease is month-to-month(!)

3) Also on Saturday, H and I walked to the ocean. I didn't walk down on the beach, not wanting to get sand in my shoes, but bonfire plans are in the making. BONFIRE!

4) Finally saw "Away We Go," which I found alternately grating and kinda amusing. Let it be said that Jon Krasinski is cute but a terrible actor, and that Maya Rudolph is cute and a better actress. Let it also be said that I went into this movie-viewing experience with small hopes, knowing that this movie might be a total let-down but not wanting this to be so. Pros: the soundtrack, the scene in which the plane moves across the face of a mirrored skyscraper, and Maggie Gyllenhaal as a Madison hippie (love!). Cons: the sermonlike/stilted/otherwise awkward dialogue, John Krasinski's total inability to play a character other than John Krasinski, Rudolph's character's (already forgot her name) staunch opposition to Marriage in General (which came across as insincere). I don't know: this movie wasn't terrible, but I expected more from Eggers and Mendes. Did we really need to be deposited at the [very literal] doorsteps of various families/couples to observe and critique their interaction styles? Frankly, I didn't see the point, which leads to my biggest con: where was the conflict? Ostensibly, the main couples' primary obstacle was finding the perfect home while coping with uncertainty (gah), but really? Is that it?

I don't know: maybe I'm used to more problems - or more pressing ones - but this narrative just felt like a big pile of wishy-washy and rigidly-controlled zaniness.

5) Sunday was the Heart of Cole Festival, a street fair celebrating Cole Valley/local artists/residents of this area/and so forth. We went for a bit in the early afternoon to look at the antique cars and the vendors' booths. Lots of adorable screen-printed tees and totes, semi-precious jewelry. H got a sausage and I got a chocolate croissant, and the sun was out, and I couldn't think of any way that the afternoon could be better.

6) OK, so this isn't about the weekend, but tonight is a (mini) dinner party and the Jonathan Richman show. Here's to midweek festivities! (Read also: Isn't My Life Enviable?)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Yahoo has it all wrong:

Drew Barrymore's dress is awesome. Ditto her eyeliner. And that is all.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Total pizza bliss

Yesterday's pizza experiment was an astonishing success. I say "astonishing" not because I lack confidence in my/H's cooking skillz, but because the pizza far exceeded our (moderately-high) expectations. Without further ado, here's the method we followed to produce the bad boy featured at left.

First, the dough. I'd never made pizza dough from scratch before and was indeed a bit intimidated about the prospect - but, as it turns out, this fear was unfounded. The recipe I used is really quite simple:


1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons white sugar


1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups bread flour, olive oil, salt, white sugar and the yeast mixture; stir well to combine. Beat well until a stiff dough has formed. Cover and rise until doubled in volume, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
3. Turn dough out onto a well floured surface. Form dough into a round and roll out into a pizza crust shape. Cover with your favorite sauce and toppings and bake in preheated oven until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
We made a few amendments to this recipe - I let the dough rise for an hour (or just over), having consulted with my mom (a pizza making veteran), who correctly advised that half an hour isn't a long enough rising time. Also, we baked the pizza at 400 degrees, but that's putting the cart before the horse...

Rather than using a tomato-based sauce, we made a fig pesto. H followed Epicurious' classic pesto recipe and added five fresh mission figs, chopped coarsely.

Classic Pesto Recipe @ Epicurious Ingredients

4 cups fresh basil leaves (from about 3 large bunches)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup pine nuts
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated pecorino Sardo or Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt


Combine first 4 ingredients in blender. Blend until paste forms, stopping often to push down basil. Add both cheeses and salt; blend until smooth. Transfer to small bowl.

While H made the pesto, I rolled out the dough and placed it on a greased pan. We then topped the dough with the pesto, chevre (about 5 oz.), crumbled feta (1/3 cup or so), sliced white mushrooms, sliced figs (three), a chicken breast that had been sauteed in olive oil with black pepper and rosemary and then chopped, and a wee bit of grated Parmesan. The pizza baked for 22 minutes at 400; the crust was lightly browned and perfectly chewy, and the cheese melted evenly. This was total pizza heaven and a great way of using fresh figs.

One small note: in case you're wondering, the other half of the pizza was a traditional Margherita, made with one heirloom and one Roma tomato. Why make a split pizza, you ask? Having just whipped up the fig pesto idea (and not knowing if the flavors of that pizza would complement one another), we wanted to have a backup pizza in case the experimental one totally sucked. Which it did not, but, you know: precautions.

On that note, make some fig pesto this weekend! You will be filled with so much joy.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I'll eat the chocolate hidden in the fridge.

It's been a week of culinary excitement! Highlights:

1) This weekend was the annual Ghirardelli Square Chocolate Festival. Did I plan my weekend around this event? Um, yes. Initially, H and I had planned to go only Saturday, but as it so happened we could not manage to eat fifteen chocolate samples in one afternoon and so we also attended on Sunday. (Aside: I was surprised by my inability to eat fifteen samples in one go. For one, chocolate is one of my favorite foodstuffs, and for another, I've been known to consume prodigious quantities, of chocolate & otherwise.) Without meaning to sound like a betch, I'm not fond of Ghirardelli - it's like a less waxy Hershey's with sliiiightly better packaging - but fortunately, the festival included tons of booths from local vendors. Here's a comprehensive list of what we sampled/who provided it:

- Ganache truffles (Ana Mandara)
- Chocolate martinis (Boomerang Vodka)
- Chocolate Hazelnut gelato (Ciao Bella Gelato)
- Chocolate stuffed marshmallows (Gued Fued)
- Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting (Kara's Cupcakes)
- Brownie bites (Sugar Bowl Bakery)
- Raspberry Rooibos-infused dark chocolate (The Tea Room Chocolates)
- Double chocolate pancakes and vanilla pancakes with chocolate butter (Bo's Best Pancakes)
- Chocolate-dipped pumpkin marshmallows (Pete's Gourmet Confections)
- An unknown gelato made of whole milk, sugar, and chocolate nibs (Gelateria Naia)
- Chocolate malts (Lori's Diner)
- A host of inferior Ghirardelli products

Of the abovementioned items, my favorites were the cupcake and the tea-infused chocolate bar. The cupcake was moist and the frosting was buttery and pure. (I'm salivating just recalling it.) Least-favorites included the martini, which was watery, and the chocolate-dipped pumpkin marshmallow, which was just too sweet - even for my forgiving tastes. Needless to say, I'll be returning to the festival next year.

2) Just before hitting up the festival, we got brunch at the Pork Store. I'd heard a lot about this diner (all good, minus the extravagant wait on weekends) and am a fan of greasy breakfast grub, and I approached the counter with reverence and raised expectations. Were I to rate the dining experience using the letter grading system, I'd give it a B. The food: pretty tasty - I ordered the "Eggs in a Tasty Nest," two eggs scrambled with assorted veggies on a bed of hash browns, accompanied by toast. The browns were as I like them (crispy), the eggs were eggs, but the veggies were super greasy - the tomatoes (which probably don't belong in scramblers in the first place due to their high water content) were sodden, and the other vegetables were just loaded with oil. The atmosphere: meh. The dining room wasn't as crowded as I expected it to be, our waitress was moderately surly (forgivably so), but the restaurant was ueber-humid and I left with frizzy hair and smelling of bacon. Sexxxy. I'll probably go back, but I sure as hell won't wait for an hour.

3) Tomorrow, H and I are going to prepare a pizza for entry in the latest RecipeHacking challenge. The basic premise of the group is to rework common recipes in a manner that makes them healthier and using sustainable/eco-friendly(-ier) ingredients. This month's challenge is pizza, and we have an awesome idea: rather than using a tomato-based sauce (or creating a white pie), we're going to make a fig pesto. Yum. Toppings: chevre, mushrooms, finely-diced dried apricots, and possibly roasted garlic. And anything else that strikes our fancy. There is the chance that this recipe could totally bomb (and we're having company), in which case: takeout. There's always takeout.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The past week has been frantic, dreamy, and red-eyed: my experience seems to belong solely to me, is fragmentary, is impossible to reproduce in words. Here are some key points, anyway:

1) I drove 1,983 miles in three days, stopping over in Loveland, CO and Winnemucca, NV. The next time I attempt such a drive (or anything approximating it), somebody stop me. I'd never driven through the west and it is beautiful - Utah, especially, bleached and treed - but long. So very long. To amuse myself during the trip, I listened to the big stack of mix CDs Ali burned for me, listened to Dave Sedaris reading his own work, and thought of amusing potential resumes for various musical artists whose songs popped up in my shuffle.

Winnemucca was marginally sketchy; my hotel was attached to a casino, as were all the hotels in that town, and it was strange to see people gambling at 9:00 on a Sunday morning. The casino itself isn't what made me uneasy about the hotel, rather, the fact that I found 1) a yellow peanut M&M just under my bed and 2) a HAIR on my bedside table. Unsanitary! Naturally, my fear of potentially-unwashed hotel linens prevented me from having a good night's sleep/enjoying my shower the next day.

2) So far this week, I've had two actual job interviews, one interview that I canceled, and one interview that canceled on me. I've been offered two jobs, both of which I'll have to turn down because they aren't practical - but I'm off to a good start. (!)

3) I love the fog, the disproportionate number of Bernese Mountain dogs, and the preponderance of neon-hued leggings and Ray Bans here. Also, I ate the best burrito of my life.

4) Wrapped in an oversized hoodie, shivering into the night breeze, I smoked a cigarette on the fire escape. I feel solid about my plans.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Friday I leave for California. It's a prospect both exciting and terrifying, this new life plan of mine: on one hand, I'm thrilled to be relocating to an excellent city (or, excellent in my limited experience of it, which included sea lion sightings, five ice cream cones, several hours in Chinatown, and a massive hangover). On the other, I'm worried that I might become a pauper, as my dad suggested. Scratch that: there shall be no pauperdom! Indeed, I have a job interview the day after my arrival, and another potential employer called this afternoon while I was napping. 

The bad news: I think my car is falling apart. This morning, I took the Golden Chariot in for an oil change, and afterward the mechanic told me that, actually, truthfully, my car needs massive repairs. The conversation went something like this:

Mechanic: So, yeah, we did the oil change, but there are some other problems...
Me: Oh?
Mechanic: Well, there's some corrosion on the battery, and your alternator belt is massively cracked, and also, did you know that your check engine light is on?
Me: Yeah, it's been on for a year.
Mechanic: Well, the light is there to signal a problem.
Me: [Staring sternly] Yes. I took it to the dealership a few times and had them shut it off.
Mechanic: So, the alternator belt...
Me: I'm in the middle of moving, so I'll think about it.

At this point, I grabbed my keys and ran [walked briskly out of the lobby]. Haunted by visions of being stranded in the desert, surrounded by vultures and tumbleweed, I took my car to my mom's [reputable] mechanic to get the alternator belt replaced. If all else (or anything else) fails, I have AAA.

Ali (who was there to witness the entire above-mentioned exchange) posits that the mechanic was actually hitting on me, to which I must respond: the worst way to hit on someone is to tell them that their car needs $500 of repairs. Word to the wise.  

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I haven't felt very update-y lately, though a lot has happened in the last month. A lot has happened: I broke up with Eric and called off the move to Madison. Slowly, a new plan is forming itself. 

I am typically loathe to blog about anything too personal, but the above seems appropriate, succinct. I am reminded of how much more reticent I've become, though no less ruminative. This week I have been frantically productive: job searching, editing account histories, unpacking, sorting, repacking. I finished everything on today's to-do list, and am drinking a gin and tonic. I discovered a partial bottle of Lorazepam among my toiletries. My pedicure remains intact. 

The days are easier than the nights. 

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Chicago after its fire

Here and northeast of here lies the vast Chippewa Valley. At the start of lumbering in Wisconsin it held one-sixth of the nation's white pine. Surveyors estimated the total pine stand in the state at 136 billion board feet of pine lumber. Lumberman considered the supply inexhaustible. 

Chippewa Valley white pine helped built the homes and cities of the corn belt, the great plains, Chicago after its fire. This valley made strong men, record log jams, tall tales, and prosperous cities, all while wasting 60 percent of its pine in stumps, slashings, culls, sawdust, slabs, and fires. The harvest here that began in 1838 with 5-foot diameter trunks 160 feet high ended 80 years later taking 5-inch logs.

Today the Chippewa Valley is green again with farms and pine. Reforestation began before 1920. Early plantings are now merchantable timber. In time the Chippewa Valley will again stand with mature pine.

(Plaque at the Chippewa Valley rest area, Wisconsin)

Planes screamed overhead. Sometimes I could not hear what you said, with your face pressed against me. I could not ask you to repeat, I would have felt ridiculous, and anyway such things are usually not repeatable. But what if you asked me a question, and hearing no answer were unable to ask it again? This possibility tormented me at a later time, when I wanted to give you every hoped-for answer.

We both trembled. We barely managed it, being overcome - both of us, both of us - with gratitude, and amazement. The flood of luck, the happiness undeserved, unqualified, nearly unbelieved-in. Tears stood in our eyes. Undeniably. Yes.

(From  Alice Munro's "Tell Me Yes or No")

Thursday, July 9, 2009

More baking!

One of the best parts of summer is all the free time available for baking. We had a bunch of strawberries just sittin' in the fridge, getting mushy (perhaps that 4-lb. clamshell was ill-advised?), and I wanted to find a creative way to use them. Voila! Strawberry buttermilk muffins. Here's the recipe, copied & pasted from the Body and Soul website. (The recipe originally appeared in the July/August 2009 issue of Body and Soul, which I found lying on the coffee table. Just so you know.) It is true that I posted this link on my facebook page, but I am so enthusiastic about these muffins that I thought the recipe deserved two postings. In all honesty, these delightful muffs will change the way you think about strawberries, and buttermilk. The end. 

Strawberry Muffins


Makes 12 muffins

  • 1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
  • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup light olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. Toss together strawberries and 1/3 cup sugar. Using a potato masher, lightly mash berries; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In a glass 2-quart measuring cup or a medium bowl, combine buttermilk, oil, egg, and vanilla; whisk to combine.
  3. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the buttermilk mixture and the berry mixture (with juice). Fold just until combined. Using an ice cream scoop, divide the batter among the muffin cups. Sprinkle the tops with remaining sugar.
  4. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 17 minutes. Cool 5 minutes in the pan, then transfer muffins to a wire rack to cool completely.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th, everyone! We celebrated by hittin' the gym (which was mostly empty: hellz yes), bumming around the house, and getting dinner at the Holy Land deli, which serves a badass Greek salad. (I know Greek salads sometimes get a bad rap, but this shiz is authentic & delectable.) 

Speaking of Greek, I accidentally created the most perfect [Greek yogurt-based] snack last night and could not wait another day to share my find with the in-ter-net. I was hoping to have Fage with almonds and a drizzle of honey, but no such luck - the honey was one big crystallized mess. Still wanting something sweet,  I found some Ghiradelli dark hot chocolate and added a scant tablespoon of chocolate to about 1/3 cup of Fage. I blended the two until the yogurt had the consistency of mousse, and topped with finely-chopped almonds. Srsly, people, this was the best snack of my lyfe. Try it! 

(Aside: the Ghiradelli isn't very good as cocoa. I can't articulate why - it just doesn't taste cocoalike. )

Friday, July 3, 2009


dude, why won't this publish my entries in the correct font?

[Live & active] culture shock

 I was not predicting much (if any) culture shock upon reentry into MN - after all, the Twin Cities are pretty progressive. Parts of the cities, anyway. Lo, was I wrong in my prediction! I went to the local Cub Foods this afternoon in search of Fage 0%, and the employee working in the dairy section had never heard of Greek yogurt. I subsequently went to Rainbow (the other major MN grocery chain), where there was one (1) tub of Fage in the "Natural Foods" section. This singular tub, whose sell-by date is a paltry five days from this day, sat lonely beside some "Italian" gelato and like, two varieties of Kashi frozen entrees. I bought this singular tub, even though it was $2 more expensive than its MA counterpart, and even though it is not as fresh as I'd normally prefer.

I don't get it: I thought Greek yogurt was popular nationwide? I believed (wrongly, perhaps) that its creamy texture and high protein content were major selling points, even among suburbanites wary of anything with "Greek" in the name. But, I was wrong. 

Also notable here is the lack of Vera Bradley products and Sox Gear. (The latter, at least, is understandable. GO TWINS!) 

Saturday, June 27, 2009

From "Whip-Poor-Will"

...It is good
to wake early in high
summer with work to do,
and look out the window
at a ghost bird lifting away
to drowse all morning
in his grassy hut.

(Donald Hall)
Today has not been so productive. It's 1:50 PM EST, I'm unshowered and groggy, and my house is a mess. The shower thing will be easy to remedy; the house thing, less so. The bad news is, I stayed out later last night than I have all year (& consequently slept until 10:15 ), but the good news is that I've already packed three boxes of kitchen stuff today! And I cleaned up all the bacon pans left over from last night's [early this morning's] boozy bacon extravaganza. The extravaganza was not my idea - I was a mere spectator - but it was greasily hilarious! Eric and Darren cooked and ate a pound of bacon, then commenced a series of arm wrestling competitions! HA!

The cleanup was not hilarious, but I survived.

Finally it is sinking in that I'm leaving Western Mass, and I am going to miss a lot of people and places. People, you know who you are, and you best come visit me in Wisconsin. I will bake you pies and take you out for boots of beer. Among the places I'll miss most are the bike path (Norwottuck Rail Trail), the Smith Gardens, Forbes Library (where I spent many an hour editing the old thesis), and the Hangar, which serves the best boneless wings in the country. I'm not joking about that: I do not joke about chicken wings.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I did not sign up for this weather package

(and other tales of New England meteorological discontent.)

What a week! What a weekend! Highlights (chronologically, not in order of importance):

1) Thursday, Ali and I made an awesome batch of blueberry muffins. Alright: I did the prep, baking, and cleanup, but Ali kept me company and later taught me the basics of needlepoint, so we're even. I'd be remiss if I didn't include the recipe for said wundermuffins:

Blueberry Oat Muffins
(Yield: 18 muffins)

  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 2 cups fat-free or low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 2/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tsp. grated orange zest
  • 1 1/4 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional
  1. Combine oats and buttermilk in mixing bowl. Cover; let stand 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray muffin pan cups with nonstick cooking spray or use pleated paper liners.
  3. Combine buttermilk mixture, flour, sugar, oil, baking powder, baking soda, salt, eggs and orange zest in second mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth. Fold in blueberries and walnuts. Spoon batter into prepared cups, filling them 3/4 full.
  4. Bake 20-25 minutes, or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Remove muffins from pans immediately; place on wire rack to cool.
(Recipe taken from Vegetarian Times, January 1, 2005. And yes, we did use walnuts.)

Not only were the muffins ueber-easy to prepare (I grated orange zest and measured the other ingredients while the oats and buttermilk sat, undisturbed), but they're healthy, too - 130 calories each without the nuts, about 155 with. They are also unstoppably delicious.

2) Also on Thursday, I began my first ever cross stitch project: a small hamburger! I only have a few rows of stitching thus far - packing has sort of taken over my life - but I think I can finish the project by the end of the week. Maybe.

3) This weekend, Cecily and Chris got married. The ceremony, held in an orchard at Quonquont Farm, was simple and beautiful. Congratulations, C & C!

4) Today I started a RunningAHEAD account so I can track my runs (and bike rides). I was hesitant to open an account before, mainly because I was running like, 1.5 miles and felt (perhaps inaccurately?) wusstastic. But today I overcame this mental block and joined the site. My name is Garky. If any of you all are on the site, friend me! (If that is an option.)

A small, mid-year goal of mine is to update more frequently, rather than having these giant, dump-truck posts. But when there's so much happening, it's difficult to find the time, yes? Excuses!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Aw, man: I was planning to ride my bike today (to Maple Farm Foods, to campus, around), but now it it raining and is supposed to rain all day. At noon, the chance of precipitation lessens to 30%, but I'm going to amend my daily plan to include the baking of cupcakes/the packing of boxes/the perusing of internet wonders. Sigh. Mostly, I am bored with my gym routine and was looking forward to exercising outside, but the world would have it otherwise.

Again: sigh.

Relatedly: red velvet cupcakes. Maybe I will bake some.

Monday, June 15, 2009


The beets turned out really well; I was hoping to post pictures, being that beets are awesomely hued, but I had to peel and chop them in sort of a rush & also forgot to bring my camera to the party. Ah, well. Less successful was my decision to shotgun a beer midway through the night. "Hey Ya" came on late in the evening, and I started reminiscing about how this song always reminds me of junior/senior year (though the song itself came out earlier), and how college in general reminds me of shotgunning beers...Right. Logic was not present in my mind, mind you, and someone said that if they found a canned beer then I had to shotgun, which I did - with a minimum of mess. I think I'll stick to beets, though.

Friday, June 12, 2009


Here is my inaugural beet recipe (Mark Bittman), chosen for its simplicity and because I love all involved ingredients:

Beets With Garlic-Walnut Sauce Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

2 pounds red beets, about 4 large, trimmed of greens

1/4 cup olive oil

6 cloves garlic, peeled

1/2 cup walnuts

2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

Salt and black pepper to taste

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves, for garnish.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash beets well. While still wet, wrap them individually in foil and place on a cookie sheet or roasting pan. Bake beets, undisturbed, for 60 to 90 minutes, until a thin-bladed knife pierces each with little resistance. (They may cook at different rates; remove each one when it is done.)

2. Meanwhile, put oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. When it is warm, add garlic and cook until fragrant and beginning to soften, about 6 minutes. Add walnuts and continue to cook until they begin to color, about another 4 minutes. Let mixture cool slightly and then put it in a small food processor; process until you have a relatively smooth paste. Add orange juice to taste and sprinkle with salt and lots of pepper.

3. After beets have cooled, peel off skins. Slice beets into wedges or cubes and toss with dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning, garnish with parsley and serve.

Yield: 4 servings.


I'm going to make the salad this afternoon, for a cocktail party this evening. I hope it goes well - for my sake & the sake of others in attendance! I don't foresee myself messing this up, though.

Sad news: the balance pods I ordered (on 5/30) won't be shipped until August. My mailing address is going to change twice before these li'l guys (conceivably) arrive. WTF, Spri? I understand that the pods' promotion in Self caused a glut of orders, but August? Really? Guess I'll stick with crunches until then...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Beet it.

Lately I've been eating a lot (a lot) of Swiss chard, either with sweet potatoes and onions or just sauteed in broth. I'm not sick of it, per se, but I feel that I should branch out to other leafy greens: Collard greens, Kale, and the like. Which leads me to the topic of beets.

As a kid, I hated the cold beet soup my mom made during the summer. It was the same shade as Pepto-Bismol and made the whole fridge smell like hard cooked eggs. Summers of Borscht fostered my early, negative association with beets, which lingered until approximately April, 2005, when I tried (and loved) pickled beets. Beyond the pickled variety, though, I know nothing about this richly-hued veggie - a knowledge void I would like to fill.

Yesterday afternoon, while bumming around the grocery store (I had to stay out of the apartment while it was being shown to a prospective renter), I almost bought a bunch of beets. "Hey," I thought, "I can eat the greens per usual, and..." And what? Roast the beets proper? I chickened out, not having a recipe in mind (and also remembering the bunch of chard I already had in the fridge). Consider this a call for beet recipes: how do you all eat your beats? Baked in the oven? Sauteed? And how do you prefer the greens? I'm going to sniff out some recipes and will report back with my results.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Back from the dead!

Or, in a more "Tale of Two Cities" vein, RECALLED TO LIFE.

It's been a busy few weeks around these parts of town. May 22nd was graduation, and my whole family came out for the affair. I was glad for the parental support, indifferent though I was about the ceremony. Not indifferent about the degree, mind you, just not psyched about sitting in an overheated auditorium for over three hours, hearing lists and lists of names read. Never mind that I was dehydrated & mysteriously sleep deprived & sitting by complete strangers. Phew! I am glad that I walked; lots of grad students don't, and I think that, unremarkable though the event proper was, I would've been sad if I'd passed on the opportunity. As is the case with so many missed opportunities.

I've been working at the Target food court ("Food Ave") for the past six weeks, which has fortified my character in a number of ways. It is true that I could have loafed for the month of June - I'd saved enough money for bills and minor recreation - but I wanted to earn a bit of extra cash for the move and to create a time commitment to help me structure my remaining days here. I don't know about you, but I accomplish more when I have more to do. I'm thinking back to my first summer in Northampton, when I worked approximately ten hours a week (if that) and managed to get nothing done. When I have more on my plate, I'm more conscious of time and how I spend it. The strategy has worked, so far; I've been steadily applying to jobs in Madison, researching Dietetics grad programs, reading, reading, running. I have yet to start my first needlepoint project, but that's next.

A cloudy day, birdcalls and street sounds seeming far off.

Chocolate lovers, and lovers of anything sweet: you must try Dagoba's blueberry lavender chocolate. It is the best thing ever, and by this, I mean ever. I'm pretty excited to try their mint bar (also flavored with rosemary), but not much compares to lavender infusions.

Friday, May 15, 2009


I let the water run, full force, from the faucet into the drain, for somebody's pleasure down below. Noises coming from far away, I decided then, the ones that have nothing to do with your own life, can be more important than anything anyone says in your own ear.

(from Janet Kauffman's The Easter We Lived in Detroit)

Sometimes, the stories, and the shadows of stories, assumed their own shapes and lay like giants, almost close enough to touch. If Joe stayed out all night, that would be news, too, a turn of events, connected with other events elsewhere, entwined, like the soft, continuous organs of living things, warm for a long while even out of the body, collected in bowls.

(from Janet Kauffman's News)