Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Stuff and Nonsense

Today Alex and I met at Chocolate By the Bald Man for a snack date after he finished his errands in the city! It was lovely and delicious; we got a hazelnut cream chocolate milkshake - the best, oh so good, mmm, vanilla bourbon ice cream, dark chocolate truffle, whipped cream - and the chicken bacon cheddar rolls on sticks with buttermilk dressing. The food there always sounds kind of mundane and unappealing to me, but I have learned not to feel that way, because the flavors are always so incredible! Oh, man, that buttermilk dressing....

Yesterday I made those delicious chocolate espresso cookies that Ruthy loves! Phew, they are so good. I keep them in the Madeleine lunchbox that Ruthy gave me! I get a lot of compliments on that lunchbox. That is because it is a great lunchbox. I also get a lot of compliments on those cookies! That is because they are great cookies.

The "m" key on my keyboard is freaking out! It is really hard to get it to make an M when I push it! But I just got my screen fixed, and I am not yet ready to deal with more computer repairs! That said, once I got to the right person with Dell last time, it was really fast and easy from there, and free because I have the extended warrantly. And now I have the direct phone number, so it actually wouldn't be that much work. Maybe I will get it fixed, then, before I go to Maine.

I started recording the Plaid Tidings score today, for the choreographer; Pro Tools - my new recording software - is certainly high quality, and capable of doing anything I need it to do, but is super finicky and does not come with adequate instructions, so it can be very frustrating to work with! Still, once I get the hang of it, and it starts to feel straightforward and automatic, I think it's going to be very useful - especially as I will be able to record vocal reels for aspiring singers, and charge good money for it!

I've started copy-pasting every "m" I need to type. I think this a sign that I should call Dell already :P

Anyway, Alex and I just bought two trash cans for our room - one for trash and the other for paper recycle. Look how great they are!:
Ok, how great one of them is. For some reason, I can't successfully download the picture of the other one! Here it is on the website. (Of course I remembered too late that we are supposed to be boycotting Target. I can't keep all the places I can't shop in my head! I do pretty well at remembering Nike, Old Navy, Whole Foods, and Nestle, but after that I lose track.)

But Target does have many exciting wastebaskets, as you can see! This one - which we did not buy - is my actual favorite.
It reminds me of something you would find on Catalog Living! Now if only I could think of a good caption....

Ok, well, in the meantime, now back to reading Like Water for Chocolate! (It turns out I do, in fact, like magical realism in some cases, just not ridiculous upsetting super depressing magical realism with, like, witches and angry pig corpses. I like magical realism with some romance to it! I like whimsical magical realism! I like it in, for example, books like the ones by Sarah Addison Allen, or, for another example, Like Water for Chocolate.)

P.S. Here is a great video! (The blog it's on is great, too.)

P.P.S. Ok, for some reason the link to Catalog Living doesn't work! The address is, and if that doesn't work either, just searching for "Catalog Living" should lead you to it. It is well worth checking out!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Fun with Books!

In rainbow order...

...and in rainbow shape!

Everything, but Mostly Food!

So I've been at home for a couple weeks, and baking up a storm!

I made Practically Perfect Cookies, which I thought was Aunt Carolyn's recipe but which she doesn't recognize the name of, but anyway they are delicious chocolate chip cookies and I used Ghirardelli bittersweet, semisweet, and white chocolate chips in them and it was great.

I also have made two loaves of sourdough since I've been back. I made the first one in a loaf pan, to be sure it would rise up instead of out (the problem I had with my last few loaves);

the second one I made into a free-form boule loaf but rose it for only 4 hours instead of 12-until-doubled, so although it rose out instead of up in the bowl, it had some rising power left to poof in the oven. It didn't poof as high as it was supposed to (maybe the dough was too soft and not gluteny enough? I'll try adding more flour next time) and was quite dense, but it wasn't the biscotti loaf of August.

That said, neither of them tasted of sourdough! Which is very confusing and frustrating. I know my starter is still alive - and for the second loaf, it was freshly fed - because it is rising the bread, and also it still smells like it did before. But it must be a starter problem, because what else could it be? I wish I'd frozen a bit of the starter before I left for Maine, in case something went wrong like this. I'm going to keep trying for a couple more loaves, and ask the internet some more about what might be going on, but I am kind of bummed.

Oh well! I have also made regular white, whole wheat, and butternut squash bread since I've been back, and also a beautiful butternut squash pie,

Also I made a tiny adorable pastry roll-up
with the leftover pie dough.
It was delicious.

and also a really weird attempt at chai ice cream,

The makings of chai. So beautiful!
Too bad it turned out so
and so weirdly

and also a delicious dark chocolate ice cream! So food is going well :)

Alex and I have been buying our groceries at the farmers' market and Trader Joe's as much as we can (there are THREE Trader Joe'ses in New York now, so they are all much less impacted!), which is leading us to cook more, as we have more ingredients and less pre-prepared/box food. We made free-range chicken breast with mustard sauce (a recipe my mother modified deliciously) the other day, on whole wheat rice, and it was great! And I cooked up some whole wheat rotini one day, and tossed it with olive oil, parmesan-like cheese from the farmers' market, and garlic and fresh basil also from the farmers' market. Mmm, delicious!

I don't know why this is sideways.

And Alex has been learning to make pasta sauce out of fresh tomatoes.

It is a good food month!

Also, Aunt Carolyn and Uncle Thomas were in New York the other night, after what sounded like a lovely two week trip through autumnal New England, and took Alex and me out to dinner at Manetta's Fine Foods, a lovely and scrumptious Italian restaurant in Long Island City near Hunter's Point. I had spaghetti carbonara; Alex had smoked salmon pasta; Aunt Carolyn had linguini nere (colored black with squid ink!); Uncle Thomas had lasagna; and I finished with a delicious (but large!) creme brulee. I will be going back there, for sure!

While we're talking food, I should mention the date Alex and I went on while still in Maine. We decided we'd head for the coast, although we didn't know where. We located a little town called Richmond on the map, only half an hour away, and headed that way. The drive was beauuuuuuuutiful, all fiery trees and winding highways and rain;

Richmond was less beautiful, as it was neither exactly on the coast nor a cute town. Tiny and economically depressed looking, actually. But we drove on down the highway, wandering in and out of towns, until we found Freeport, which is not on the coast either, but which is super cute! We wandered in and out of stores and around the streets, looked at restaurant menus, and finally went into the Azure Cafe, and upscale and relaxing little joint that made us feel very adult. (Although, as Lorelei put it on an episode of Gilmore Girls I just watched: "You know what grown-ups never do? Talk about how grown up they are.) We ordered an appetizer of spinach artichoke dip with crostini; the crostini were perfectly crunchy and neutral, and the dip felt like delicious, delicious air in my mouth. It was like nothing was on my tongue except the taste of heaven!

For our entrees, we went all out: "Filet Tartuffe," a filet mignon with black truffles and crimini mushrooms and gorgonzola mousse and garlic mashed potatoes; and, of course, lobster!

Also, by the way, there was delicious salad,
and I don't even like salad.

I don't know why this picture is sideways either.

Lobster. Also, butter.

Oh, what a good day.

Now out of the reverie and on to today! I'm going to break topic and not talk about food, now!

Yesterday was lovely. Alex and I went on a walk and ended up in the park, where we sat and played cribbage at one of the chess tables (adjacent to the chess table occupied by the regular chess-players). That is what we do recently to get out of the house and relax, and it is great. Then Jamie and I went shopping, and I bought a black blouse in an effort to diversify my work clothes, and a purple sweater at Express. The sweater was $40, but it was the most beautiful thing I have seen in weeks, and it fit me perfectly, and I don't have anything that color, and I hardly ever buy clothes anyway, so there.

It is more beautiful without the belt,
and it is also more purple than it appears in this picture.
Hopefully, you will see it in person soon!

I also, much to his delight, bought Alex a purple button-down to replace the one he lost while I was at camp. I also tried on a really cute, pseudo-business-y grey dress at H&M, which I don't need but might go back and buy with my gift card, and also at Express a pale pink strapless ruched minidress, which looked super hot on me but was $98 and which therefore I did not buy.

I want this dress.

Then, when Jamie had to leave for rehearsal, I took the train up to Bryant Park, where I tried Lilly O'Brien's for the first time. It's a "chocolate cafe" on the south side of the park, with all different kinds of hot chocolate and coffee and hot chocolate coffee. I got a dark hot chocolate (and a couple pieces of dark chocolate), which was delicious, and sat and read my book (Insatiable, by Meg Cabot, which I wasn't going to read because it is a vampire romance and it got bad reviews, but which I picked up in the library and ended up checking out because I feel that I should always give Meg Cabot a chance because I love so much of her stuff, and because it references Dr. Zizmor on the first page, and Dr. Zizmor is my favorite subway advertisement by far. Unfortunately, it is not a good book. Everything else I've read by her [and I think I've read everything she's written, including her adult romances under pen names, excepting her Allie Finkle middle-grade series] is light and goofy but engaging and clever and well-written and fun. Insatiable, on the other hand, is info-dump-y and heavy on the description and poorly edited and has an awkwardly brooding vampire male love interest, and also I am pretty sure her publisher just insisted that she capitalize on the vampire trend, because A) it is about a TV writer who is forced to write a vampire plotline even though she doesn't want to because she is tired of vampires in the media and thinks the whole shebang is misogynist and stupid, and basically it is like Sara Bareilles telling her producer via song that she is not going to write him a love song, except if that song were also a love song; and B) it does not read like a lot of effort went into it. That said, I am still reading it.) and it was lovely, and then I went home and watched football and also the baseball playoffs, although I had to turn off the Giants game in the 5th or 6th inning because it was too depressing. At least we are back in PacBell for the next game! That park is our 10th and best fielder.

Anyway, that is all for now. I will try to blog more often, and then I will only have to do little blogs, like when I started, and then I won't procrastinate it because it seems like so much work and time to catch up on everything! That said, it is fun when I am doing it, so I shouldn't procrastinate it anyway :) The end.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Apple Town!

We went apple-picking! It was great. Kathleen, the stage manager, drove us up to the Ricker Hill farms, where we stopped in at the store for delicious homemade pumpkin doughnuts and a bag to be filled with 10 lb of apples. We also explored the corn maze, which Tony figured out on the first try. Then we went out to the orchards! Where there were apple slings, which were fun!

Also, there were apples, of course. The apples were enormous and sweet - I don't even really like apples, but there were some delicious ones that I had several bites of and enjoyed a lot - and we had a lovely time wandering through the orchards, although the signs were sometimes confusing.

We also found a discarded pre-paid ten pound bag sitting on the ground, and we naturally couldn't let it go to waste... so in the end we came home with twenty pounds of apples! They are still not quite gone, although we have been eating plenty of apple cake and apple cookies and apple fritter! Actually, I take that back. I think they are gone as of today - two weeks after we went picking.

On the 25th, which was Alex's and my one-year anniversary, Nikki's parents came to visit, and they took us out to lunch at Da Vinci's, a super delicious Italian restaurant - I ordered some fancy and excellent ravioli - after Alex, Nikki, Tony, and I had explored AppleFest in the morning. AppleFest happens once a year in Monmouth, and is very cute. There are booths selling apples, of course, and the old corn processing building is open, as are the two Monmouth museums, and also there is a scarecrow contest! We did not have time to build our own scarecrows, but we did have time to pick favorites!