Sunday, November 01, 2009

Regarding the red beans and rice...

Yes, I did make red beans (or pintos) and rice from scratch. It's a fairly easy recipe, though cooking the beans takes forever. Got it from the Gracious Plenty cookbook or something like that. Didn't use sausage of course.

Was wanting something non-pasta. So count it however you want. :).

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween..

Fluffy black gothy cat + devil duckies= insta Halloween card. And this is the extent to which can really go to the pet costume route since well, cats and my tendencies. He's a fluffy sort of evil.

Maybe next year, I can get him sitting on the Aubrey Beardsley book.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Barbara and the Moosewood Collective.

This is a long one.

With intended homagery to Julie and Julia, the book and the movie. I saw the movie and meant to read the book, and it’ll happen at some point. I also did a variation of this starting from 1998-9. However, instead of doing a recipe everyday, I figured that one recipe from scratch a week was a realistic goal. I also started doing this because I had friends who were extremely good at concocting meals from ingredients at hand. I was not. I was good at baking and some stuff. I got sort of a Mary Tyler Moore complex about cooking for other people and parties. Like too much pressure. However, I think my thought was “I’m like 29; it might be time to figure out how to cook for myself.” I had moved to a new apt, so it seemed like a good time to start something new. I had been to the Moosewood Restaurant up in Ithaca when I was taking a Medieval Latin extensive course at Cornell. Which is another story altogether. I got the Moosewood Cooks at Home cookbook since I figured it was likely probably easier and started going through it, based on mood and ingredients. Keep in mind that my kitchen in my apt wasn’t big. It needed more counter space than it had, but it was a gas stove, which spoiled me for electric cooking. So, I wasn’t doing this in a big kitchen with an island and all of the foodie acoutrement. And I am pretty sure there were kitchen stuff I was missing. I was doing it in a real 20 something kitchen. Some of the things turned out better than others and some I probably wouldn’t make again. The ones that I remember making and working out fairly well:

--Guacamole with Cottage Cheese
--Vegetables in Mint Vinaigrette
--Pad Thai (It worked out okay, but I remember it being messy. Lots of strands of noodles.)
--Fragrant Rice Noodles with Vegetables
--Cauliflower Paprikash with Spaetzle. (Was okay. Not wow.)
--Some of the Quesadillas.
--Udon Noodles and Vegetables that was righteous with cucumber and was what I did when I wanted the Peanut Noodles and couldn’t find it anywhere. At the moment, the only time I buy peanut butter is when I’m making Thai Peanut Stuff.
--Feta Spinach Pizza
--Mushroom and Smoked-Cheese Pizza
--Baked Peaches Marsala
--Coffee Ricotta Mousse. Though it was grainier than I wanted it to be.

Ones that didn’t work were
--The Six Minute Chocolate Cake. Maybe you needed an electric oven.
--the Guacamole with Silken Tofu. Ick.
--The Risottos were okay, but always seemed to mess up my pots.
--The Pancakes were okay, but didn’t work as well either. I think maybe switching pans has helped.

Also, at this time, I had the Sheila Lukins Around the World Cookbook and some recipes for spanikopita. I tried using phyllo dough and I think I overdosed it with olive oil. Was tasty, but messy as hell. I have never used phyllo dough again and I think it’s one of those you have to have more patience than I do. I don’t know if I should keep the Lukins cookbook or not, as it seems to exist in a different cookbook reality than I live in now. And maybe I was also deluding myself then. The Moosewood ones and the Fanny Farmer seem to be friendlier. I also made some kickass Jamaican Banana Bread which has become one of those I always made for potlucks and bring food to your grad. seminar day. I think I also made it for my students in the mystery class during our last day along with the blueberry gingerbread. I usually didn’t do such a thing, but they were a pretty good class and I remember well enough what it’s like being undergrads around the end of the semester. We watched Murder by Death.

The things I learned while doing this is that there are a lot of annoying little ingredients that you need and that you only use so very little of. And a good chunk are expensive. Like Tumeric and of course saffron. I have never used saffron in any of my recipes, because of the price and the little amount needed. Or when, I used currants for a recipe, I think it took forever to use them up. After a certain point, I say screw it. Also, one can’t tell what’s absolutely necessary or just recommended. Like sour milk kind of works as a substitute for buttermilk in the gingerbread recipe, but does it work in all of them? And what do you do with buttermilk besides pancakes, biscuits? Am not going to drink it. I was considering making buttermilk scones with currants, but fear that I would have way too many currants again. Also, no matter how long they say it’s going to take, it’s going to take longer for me to make. Particularly if there is chopping involved. And when there is chopping involved, I like it at the beginning and then about ¾ of the way, I’m done with the chopping, thank you very much.

I also made turkey lasagna at this point and it worked out pretty well. I got tired of it though as it felt like I was eating it for two weeks. I foisted some of it off on Todd who was visiting and liked it.

And I have limitations as a cook and baker. There are things that are too futzy, like lamingtons which involves cake and rolling the cake in chocolate sauce and coconut. I didn’t use wax paper at the time, which I now know to do. I swear the chocolate/coconut mixture hardened like diamonds. And if I’m making cupcakes, I usually figure I’ll do either the cake from scratch or the frosting from scratch, not both. Doing both is too much.

I went through most of the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home and Moosewood Low-fat Cookbook, though not all of them. Some of them I figured I wasn’t ever going to make, like some of the dressings, sauces and stuff involving tabouleh or barley or other weird stuff like that. I still have that belief with other cookbooks I have. I don’t cook as much as I would like to. The joys and sorrows of grad. school and work. And I can’t cook all the time. I fortunately or unfortunately keep collecting recipes I think are intriguing and hope to get to someday. And I fear some of them are the same ones, like guacamole, and variations on gingerbread. And then there are ones I’m pretty sure am never going to make, but look good, like the one with fennel confit. I went through some of Martha Stewart Living and Body and Soul and clipped out ones I was curious about. I keep wanting to make trifle, but it always seem just too timeconsuming enough and I have no good reason to make it. Half of me knows that I would just like someone to make some of the recipes for me more than I want to make it myself.

Recently, I made Chicken with Mushrooms and Riesling with Noodles and Green Beans. I was listening to Deutsches Pop like Falco and Alphaville. Perhaps not pretty and my first attempt to cook with wine. Probably would get better upon repetition. Was fun. Was like my mood cooking. Or like when I want to eat Chinese food when watching Joy Luck Club and want Southern food when watching Fried Green Tomatoes. I have made chicken with dumplings. I think I brought some to Steph.

I also clipped out wienerschnitzel and spaetzle recipes, because it’s Octoberfest. Know that I wouldn’t likely get veal, though pork could work as an equivalent. I remember loving it in Germany.

The AZ Republic was talking about how German food was complicated to cook at home. I take issue with that some. It usually involves breading and meat and such. It’s not like it’s French food with timing and everything. Like Cassoulet seems like a casserole with airs. I made sauerbraten in my late high school years/early college years and while I can’t claim it was the piece de resistance (sp?) it was good enough.

One of the ones that I think I neglected amidst the cookery and bakery was learning how to make drinks of the martini kind. Have martini glasses, though no set. Haven’t used them. I remember being amused about seeing vodka and tonic mix at the liquor store. Vodka or gin and tonics are one of the first things I learned how to make. It’s the liquor, tonic water and lime. Oh well. I don’t suppose it’s all that tragic. It’s one of those I “think that you might learn if you were part of a couple” or not. Though, I still want a mojito. Seems like a Latin-based mint julep.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Books that I'm still reading as of Oct. 2009

I had started some of them in May 2009 and I'm still reading them in October 2009. To be fair, the ones I haven't finished aren't light and take a while.

The ones I finished
--There's No Place Like Here by Cecilia Ahern
--Statements by Amy Borowsky
--Stiff by Mary Roach.

The Borowsky one was better in theory than delivery. Was amusing, but liked the first one better. The Ahern one is good in the set-up, but the follow-through is so-so. And Stiff is good, but way intense and well, grody.

I also finally finished Finding Serenity: Anti-Heroes, Lost Shepherds and Space Hookers in Joss Whedon's Firefly, which I think I started in 2007 or so. It's okay, but it has the same problems that all pop. cult essay books do. Some essays are really on, some are okay and some are one step away from rough drafts. As this is the third one I've read, I am pretty aware of this tendency. I think the ones that occasionally work better are ones that are a collection of essays on different books, movies and shows as opposed to a book of essays on one subject.

The ones that are still lingering.
--Baudolino by Umberto Eco
--Lady Chatterly's Lover by D.H.Lawrence

I have read other ones, but am not sure I fell like listing them right now. They are certainly a motley crew of chick lit, cruddy medieval mysteries, good, intense mysteries and feminist fantasy.

Allie's Cativersary

was this week. Now, he is three. Here he is sitting on my Diana picture. Yep, he is still the prettiest boy. He enjoys sitting on black things, (camouflage), crunchies, 'nip and chasing the purple cloth ball with silver stars on it. He is a happy, goth boy. New Order as opposed to Joy Division.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Barbara's Book Corner.

Can't Remember where and why I composed this line. But I still like it.

Which sounds like I should be on the network that has book chats and should have on some sort of sweater twinset and pearls. Which is of course not what I'm wearing. I'm wearing my old Tori Amos t-shirt from her 1998 concert and leggings, thank you very much.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Best of Quotes from Entertainment Weekly.

I have collector tendencies. I collect recipes, books, dvds, magnets, cute coffee/tea mugs and quotes. I was the person who was writing down the quotes from the Celestial Seasonings tea boxes and tea bags. I started this probably 20 years ago and am still doing it now. Now, it's sprung to Entertainment Weekly. I get them, read them. copy the quotes I like, make cool cards and recycle them. I have saved maybe five of them so far. Clearly, the ones I like tend to be idiosyncratic.

(About the Great Man by Kate Christenson) You may discover some droll bits of drawing-room comedy in Christenson’s fourth book, but that will involve venturing, machete in hand, through a jungle of overripe prose.—Troy Patterson, EW.

(About Smallville) Is it just me or does every Smallville episode seem born of 3 a.m. tacos and tequila-fueled debates of who’d kick whose ass in a death match?—EW.

(About the Writer’s Strike) The Golden Globes are cancelled and the Oscars may be next. I want no part of a world that refuses to congratulate itself.—Conan O’Brien, EW.

Wait a minute. . . words in the prompter? Script on my desk? Vending machine upstairs out of Funyuns?? The writers are back! –Jon Stewart, celebrating the writers post-strike return on the Daily Show.

(About Mannequin 1 and 2)
When “Emmy” inexplicably pulls a Pinocchio (becoming Kim Catrall, dolled up like Sex and the City’s Samantha if she shopped at Merry-Go-Round) the pair take to doing displays, which saves the store from the wrecking ball.

The saggy 1991 sequel Mannequin 2: On the Move has a near-identical plot--Hollywood, Prince and Starship are back, alongside a new leading man (William Ragsdale) and magical mannequin (Kristy Swanson)—but it can’t capture the charm or finesse of the original. (Yes, we just said Mannequin has “charm” and “finesse.” And no, there isn’t a “Fashion with Hollywood” featurette—or any extras—on either disc.)—Tanner Stransky, EW.

(About Princess, the ABC Family movie) The modern fairy tale of Princess Ithaca. They’d have named her Princess Utica, but that just sounds dumb.—Alynda Wheat, EW.

Bill Maher serves as guest programmer tonight (of My Fair Lady). What’s more shocking: Bill’s love of musicals or classy women?—Jessica Shaw, EW.

I watched Boston Legal nine times before I realized it wasn’t a new Star Trek—Tracy Morgan, EW.

(About Love Songs) A musical about threesomes, death, bed-hopping and bisexuality. Or, as the French call it, l’amour.—EW.

(About Exteme Trains on History channel) I can personally guarantee the NJ Transit Local to Philadelphia shouldn’t qualify.—Jessica Shaw, EW.

(About Brazil) Extras include a 10 year-old director’s track and the studio’s sunnier, shorter cut--Timothy Gunatilaka

(About the Mermaid Chair) She also gets busy with a Benedictine monk (CSI’s Alex Carter) who sadly wears street clothes when the sin occurs. The robe would’ve been hotter--Mandi Bierly.

(About Only Revolutions by Mark Z. Danielewski) Needless to say, comprehension is attained on ly impressionistically. While masochistic grad. students might flip out over Revolutions’ gimmicky demands, most will find it impenetrable.-Gilbert Cruz.

(About Gossip Girl) In the interest of a Happy Humphrey Thanksgiving, an open letter to Jenny: Little J, wipe off that circa ’91 eyeliner, grow out the Joan Jett haircut and stopp pretending magenta crinoline equals couture—Jessica Shaw, EW.

(About Merry Christmas, Drake and Josh) Henry Winkler guest stars in the boys tv-movie. And if you’re thinking “Hey, the Fonz!!” then maybe you’re too old to watch it—Clark Collis, EW.

(About I want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown) Featuring Snoopy’s brother Spike, and Luch and Linus’s brother, Rerun, a.k.a. the Scrappy-Doo and cousin Oliver of the Peanuts gang.—Jessica Shaw, EW.

(About Masterpiece Theater) Tonight’s the season premiere of Foyle’s War. Watch host Alan “Nipple Glitter” Cumming magnificently fill Dame Diana Rigg’s sensible shoes.—Jessica Shaw, EW.

(About Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew). Thing No. 217 I never thought I’d write. If only Kenickie would listen to the Baldwin Brother.-Entertainment Weekly.

Mira Sorvino: if it’s a choice between The Last Templar and quitting acting, might we suggest a sequel to Romy and Michelle?-EW.

Suge Knight in Scottsdale, Ariz. hotel scuffle with alleged Akon associate. Guys, when Arizona is the setting of your new rap war, it’s time to rethink the whole concept of rap war.—Scott Brown, EW.

The Fray-for people who think that Toad the Wet Sprocket are too edgy--EW.

(About Lipstick Jungle) This week on my favorite show that I don’t admit to watching but will be devastated if it’s cancelled: Victory introduces Joe Bennett to her parents.—Jessica Shaw, EW.

Scar Jo releases an album of Tom Waits covers. The move accelerates fears that Tara Reid would finally complete her long-feared Leonard Cohen encomium.—Scott Brown, EW.

We’ve watched the trailers for this month’s horror newbies, The Unborn and The Uninvited at least 22 times and we still can’t tell them apart.—EW.

Tom Hardy stars in part 1 of Wuthering Heights, an adaption of the Kate Bush song. (Oh, all right, it was a book, too—Clark Collis, EW.

I would tell you how Wuthering Heights ends, but I don’t want to spoil 11th grade for all of our y oung readers out there—Jessica Shaw, EW.

Dear Feminism: We apologize. Love the cast of Bride Wars.—EW.

Ione Skye gets married in India. I don’t really think this is how Lloyd Dobler saw things going-Scott Brown, EW.

Amazing Race contestants fail to identify Chekhov. Russian-U.S. relations at lowest point since Ivan Drago killed Apollo in Rocky IV,--EW.

(About Lost) Tonight we meet young Sayid and young Ben, making this week’s episode the Lost version of Muppet Babies.--Jessica Shaw.

Brandon Routh’s role cut from a new Bret Easton Ellis adaption. Turns out noone wanted to see Superman explore his bisexual-nihilist side, which, frankly, surprises me. –Scott Brown, EW.

One Tree Hill can be described in many ways: unflinching cure for insomnia, worst show to take place on a hill, and inexcusable misuse of Chad Michael Murray would all work—Joel Mc Hale, The Soup.

(About the Mysteries of Pittsburgh) Jon Foster plays Art Bechstein, the son of a Jewish gangster (Nick Nolte), but he comes off as the dullest of WASP preppies. His fascination with a young couple-heartfelt Jane (Sienna Miller) and her pretentious, chopper-rdiing bisexual boyfriend, Cleveland (Peter Sarsgaard)- plays like Gossip Girl written by a bad F. Scott Fitzgerald imitator.—Own Gliebermen, EW.

(About Adam Lambert) Adam’s personal life remains shielded. He was apparently made by the Hand of God and left in a basket backstage of Wicked, where he was discovered, bestowed with a lifetime supply of black nail polish and raised by musical-theater queens.—Mark Harris, EW.

(About the Tudors) King Henry lusts after sisters and a French chick. When did the Tudors turn into a really bad issue of Maxim?—Jessica Shaw, EW.

Alt-rock band Placebo cover “Wouldn’t it be Good” from the Pretty in Pink soundtrack, which came out 23 years ago. But, no you’re totally not old.—EW.

(About Mercy) A medical drama about students who are both cynical and innocent, crossing Grey’s Anatomy with Third Watch. This could be utterly insufferable.—Ken Tucker, EW.

(About Extreme Towns) You want Extreme? The restaurant in my hometown, Scotch Plains, N.J. sometimes served dinner as late as 8 p.m. That’s p.m., mofos! Do the Dew!—Jessica Shaw, EW.

(About DMB: Live from the Beacon) Watch with a frat boy who thinks he’s sensitive because he’s wearing mandals and you’ll have the complete DMB experience—Jessica Shaw, EW.

(About True Blood) This show is at the forefront of the baffling “sexy vampire” trend. When did vampires stop being horrific blood sucking monsters and instead become misunderstood metrosexuals?—Andy Richter.

Why do I have to follow CNN on twitter? If I want to follow CNN, I can follow them on CNN.–Jon Stewart.

Nia Vardalos on Hollywood’s double standard: “Russell Croswe is fat and noone ever talks about it.” But, Nia, we in the press like him fat. It slows him down and impairs his aim.—Scott Brown, EW.

(About God Help the Girl by Stuart Murdoch) The sheer amount of next-level twee showcased on the Belle and Sebastian frontman’s latest project--positioned as the soundtrack to an imaginary movie-no less--may send listeners screaming for the nearest Black Sabbath box set—Leah Grenblatt, EW.

You know that Sex and the City movie? It’s a hit—no, not just a hit. Surprise! A long-running TV series that generated hundreds of millions of dollards in revenue and an extremely lovyal following turns out to be popular. Surprise! Women apparently can find a local multiplex without the assistance of men. Surprise! Sometimes two women, or three or four or five, will go to a movie together, even if they’re not lesbians. Surprise!—Mark Harris, EW.

A Brooklyn take on Sex and the City is reportedly in the works. It’ll center on four very different friends with one thing in common: They can’t afford to live in Manhattan.—Scott Brown, EW.

(About Dirty Sexy Money) Here’s what happens when you burn off new episodes of a cancelled series in the summer. You have your Thanksgiving episode air in the middle of July.—Jessica Shaw, EW.

Janet arrested on suspicion of DUI. Was repeatedly overserved at the Regal Beagle.-EW.

After success of Desperate Houseplants, Sesame Street to launch Mad Men Parody. I’m not so sure I want to see Elmo drink, smoke and have an extramarital affair with the letter S. –Scott Brown, EW.

A professor claims rap “battles” originated in medieval Scotland. I think this guy’s research consisted of a half-pint of Glenlivet and an accidental late-night broadcast of Highlander on BET.—Scott Brown, EW.

Showtime and the BBC are developing a contemporary retelling of Camelot. Sword-wielding Arthur hooks up with Guinevere, a high-priced call girl who sells weed to make ends meet.—Scott Brown, EW.

(About Merlin) After Arthur kills a unicorn, a curse is put on the kingdom. Who knew PETA was powerful in the middle ages?—Jessica Shaw, EW.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Books that Have Left the Building.

Occasionally, I do manage to get rid of books that I've outgrown, hated passionately, was meh about, or someone else might appreciate more. Here are some. You will notice that I got rid of a bunch of theory books, some mystery, humor and fiction. I read a good chunk of them. Less so with the theory books. And I couldn't make myself read Burroughs. I got a copy of New Yorker cat cartoons for it.

The amount of books that I've brought into the place: probably double the amount of books that I've found homes for, are being borrowed or gotten more books for.

--Atherton, Nancy. Aunt Dimity’s Death
--Baker, Ed and Busick, Chris. Is He Gay?
--Borkowsky, Amy. Statements
--Bornstein, Kate. The last sex
--Burroughs, Augusten. Running With Scissors.
--Canin, Ethan. Emperor of the Air.
--De Lauretis, Teresa. Practice of Love
--Easthope, Anthony. Literary into Cult. Studies.
--Ferguson, Ian and William. How to be a Canadian
--Girard, Rene. Violence and the Sacred.
--Gordon, Alan. Thirteenth Night
--Heimel, Cynthia. Sex Tips for Girls,
--Harris, Joanne, Holy Fools.
--Harrison, Jane. Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion.
--Hess, Joan. Mortal Remains in Maggody, Maggody and the Moonbeams. Roll Over and Play Dead
--Hornby, Nick. Housekeeping vs. the Dirt
--Irigaray, Luce. This Sex which is not one.
--Jung, C.K.
--Poems from the Underground
--Levi-Strauss, Claude. The Savage Mind.
--Karry, Mary. Cherry
--Marsh, Ngaio. Death of a Fool
--Murder under the Mistletoe
--Malinowksi, Bronislaw. Malinowksi book
--Oates, Joyce Carol. Solstice.
--Paolini, Christopher. Eragon.
--Paretsky, Sara. A Woman’s Eye
--Ricouer, Paul. Symbolism of Evil.
--Sedaris, David. Barrel Fever.
--Tremayne, Peter. Absolution by Murder.
--Wells, Rebecca. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (audio-tape)
--Wodehouse, P. G. World of Jeeves
--Women of Mystery.
--Wojnarowicz, David. Close to the Knives