Monday, January 2, 2012

Many Things All In One Week!

We made Christmas last week; Carla came over and I made her eggnog french toast.

I soaked the bread in the giant eggnog pot

and fried it into delicious!

Then she and Alex and I opened the giant mound of presents that had appeared over the course of the previous week and a half.

giant mound of presents

Lots of exciting present-unwrapping happened, which you can see on the facebook album I will upload very soon!

After that, we made enchiladas from no recipe!

mixture of enchilada sauce and oil for frying corn tortillas:
messy but worth it

yay friends cooking!

I wore the pretty sweater Alex's parents got me, and also the bows from the presents.

It was also a night of Chanuka, so we made some Chanuka.

The candles got attached in a neat way!
Here is a closeup:

After that was some movie watching and general merriment.

Here are some other things I did this last week!

Alex and I went grocery shopping one day (for what? you will find out momentarily!). Filene's Basement was having an unlikely sale.

Actually, that might be the day that Alex accompanied me on a shopping trip! That was Dec. 26th, for the sales. The stores were not too crowded, and the sales were pretty good. I got two tops at Banana Republic for $21 each marked down from $50 each; a pair of cute grey wool flats half off from I store I hadn't heard of before and don't remember, on 5th Avenue maybe around 20th; and a cute plaid flannel button-down half off from Old Navy. It was a lot of shopping, but we got Dos Toros in the middle, so that was ok.

Anyway, groceries also happened this week, because here is why:

Ben and Tara got us an electric fondue pot for the holidays! Also two fondue cookbooks (along with a regular healthy cheap food delicious looking cookbook)! One of the fondue cookbooks is the Melting Pot cookbook! We had to make fondue right away! Well, the next day, anyway. We made a cheddar fondue from the Melting Pot cookbook, with beer and sour cream and cream cheese and green onions and I forget what else but it was totally great, and dipped cubes of break and steamed asparagus and broccoli, plus later apples. We've been using the leftover fondue as a sauce on all bland things, such as polenta.

In fact, we fondued again today, this time with meat!

We should have probably marinated the meat first, but we forgot. It was delicious anyway, once we figured out the timing of cooking it just enough so it was tender. We made two sauces: a cocktail sauce from a recipe in the cookbook, which was ok, and a mustard-horseradish-mayo sauce with a little bit of Worcestershire sauce, which was awesome.

Next up we should make a broth fondue for meat, and also batter some veggies to fry in oil, and also make a chocolate fondue! The problem with chocolate fondue is that most things that you put in it suck (mainly because I hate fruit), but maybe I could make some shortbread or pound cake, and maybe also use banana. Any other good ideas?

So here is another thing from Christmas that has long-term awesome implications:

This is a great book! It has lists of many things I didn't know about! Now, the museums and when they are free or dirt cheap I mainly knew about already, but there are other things to do (many of them in the summer, sadly) about which I did not already know. Also, there are pretty darn good looking cheap-and-delicious restaurant listings, although they do not go north of the park, which is a damn shame. There are probably other locations they're missing for restaurants, but I haven't looked through the whole book yet, so I can't tell you where. However, the listings are so cool that Alex and I agreed to do at least 25 things in the book over the course of the next year! This includes all things listed -restaurants, museums, parades, staying in hostels (not actually likely), etc. We have already done two.

One thing we did was on the last night of Chanuka. The book tells about the world's largest menorah, which dwells during Chanuka on 5th and 59th and which is lit each of the nights. We went! It was pouring rain, and it turned out (unsurprisingly, I guess), to be run by the Lubavitchers, who are hilarious, and also the mayor was there. I am no fan of the mayor, but it was pretty cool still to be so close to him, as I had never had that chance and he is an important personage. The mayor and one of the Chabad guys (who kept offering me menorahs and reminding me to light my candles that night - "all 8!") went up in the ConEd lift (I know it was ConEd because the Chabad guy whenever he wanted something to happen with the lift would cry, "Mr. ConEdison!") and lit the candles (which sat in lanterns for protections) after some very fast praying. The Chabad guy kept cracking jokes about the mayor coming out in the rain, plus also at one point turned it into a bad political statement about how NYC doesn't negotiate with terrorists and neither does Israel. It was a very weird and also fun experience.

This is the best picture I got.
For a moment when I looked at it, I thought that the sky was a
Really Cool Color.
But that turned to be my umbrella.
The sky is brown with clouds and city lights.
It matches the buildings, more or less.
That is the mayor and the Chabad guy up in the lift,
plus some assistants.

On that very 8th night, Amanda lit the candles for our own menorah, and was cute!

Speaking of Amanda, she totally had two tickets to see the Merce Cunningham show that was here for three days at the end of the month, which he had been working on when he died, I believe, at an armory-turned-theatre at maybe 67th and Park. So I went to the show with her!

Now, I am often not a Merce Cunningham fan; he explicitly is trying to strip dance of story and emotion so that we are just appreciating and engaged by the shapes and movements of the bodies. This often is a failure for me; I like story. I tend to think that the purpose of all art is to tell stories and/or engage us emotionally. But then sometimes I totally get into what he's doing, just because the ways that the human body can move is really amazing. Then there's the part where I have a major love-hate relationship with postmodernism, and he is all postmodern: there's the super-postmodern music, naturally, and the costumes that may or may not have anything to do with the performance; then in this show the dancers were on three separate stages that we could walk around (not very well, because it was crowded), and you really couldn't watch it all at once, so you got some and you missed some and it was pretty disjointed. But then, because it's not telling a story, it's ok if you miss some of it, right? That's how I felt at this show, anyway, which I really really enjoyed. I enjoyed the music, I was totally into the movements of the dancers, I didn't mind the feeling that I was missing something while watching something else, and also the costumes (unitards that mostly sort of looked like they sort of had city scapes on them, with an overall sort of blue and green color scheme) were great. It's very interesting to me to watch how Cunningham's stuff, while it still has a current feel, is actually old fashioned in some ways. It is completely rooted in ballet, for one thing; while you can see how he tweaks the vocabulary to expand its range, and you can see the classical modern techniques he uses (filling the negative space, for example), the steps are still essentially ballet steps: sissonnes, pirouettes, developpes, glissades, promenades, blah blah, all the stuff I know. Also, while the movements he uses for partner work is modern, the essence of the partner work is very traditional: The man supports the woman. Even when it's not a lift - when it's, for example, someone holding an arabesque and resting a hand on the partner's shoulder (so essentially involving very little actual strength for the person with the shoulder) - it was still the man supporting the woman. I actually think it's a bit of a shame for someone who broke out of the mold in so many ways to still be trapped in that old gender binary, but, you know, so it goes.

Anyway, I really enjoyed the show, which was a perfect length at 45 minutes. But I still liked the woman who smiled and looked like she was enjoying herself more than I liked everyone else (she was the only one! At a professional level! Dancers really really don't pay attention to their faces! I knew that as a student, but assumed that dancers in the professional world knew how to, like, smile! I was wrong!). And I still liked the partnering best when the two partners seemed to connect. So I may have enjoyed the plain movement, but the emotional aspect clearly draws me in significantly and immediately even then.

Here is another thing I did this week:

Hung out with Denver, a friend from school whom I hadn't talk to since before graduation! Denver is great. She and Carla and I got coffee at Mud, which is the shop in the East Village that sends out a bright orange truck around the Astor Place stop sometimes, which is where I get off when I go work at NYU.

After that, her family - they were visiting her sister in Yonkers for the holidays - treated us to dinner at a delicious pizza place, the name and exact location of which I forget. How delightful!

Next up: New Year's! Carla came over for that, too, and I made chocolate peanut butter pie. I accidentally put in too much cream cheese, so it is a little over-the-top rich, and I am not a fan of the fudge sauce even though I put in a whole extra ounce of unsweetened chocolate (it called for two), but it is highly enjoyable nonetheless, because after all what can be bad about a peanut butter cheesecake-like pie in a chocolate crust with fudge sauce?

The crust was actually made out of cocoa wafers that I made from another of Alice Medrich's recipes. T'hey were fine in the crust, but I like the chocolate mousse pie crust better so will use that in the future, especially as the cocoa wafers aren't that good for anything else. So far Alice is about 1 for 4 on the recipes I bothered to copy from her book. (The 1 is a delectable honey ice cream I have made a couple times in the last few years.) Oh, well.

New Year's was fun aside from the pie, too. Basically Carla and Alex and I watched Spirited Away (we were going to watch Stand By Me, which I was dead certain I owned but which is not to be found - maybe it's with my parents? - but when we couldn't find it we watched Spirited Away instead, which is not at all the same but which we had from Netflix) and listened to music and drank about a bottle of champagne each, and went outside to watch some illegal fireworks, and generally stayed up until Carla had to leave for Newark at 3:45 am to fly home.

Then yesterday Alex and I watched football all day, which was great. I especially enjoy that the 49ers kicker threw a touchdown pass.

Last! Today! Alex and I did some errands, and we also did 25 Things Number Two by stopping for late lunch at a little restaurant called Sullivan Street Bakery on 47th between 10th and 11th! It was mainly bread things. Alex got a giant breadstick with olives; I had a giant square bread thing with pecorino inside; and we shared a brioche bun with gruyere and prosciutto (sweet and savory! amazing!) and also a sweet pastry with vanilla cream. Yum!

That is all for now (and gee! it was plenty!). The full photo album will be on facebook I hope tomorrow; we'll see!


1. I posted my list of books I read in 2011 on facebook! If you read this blog but are not on facebook (there are a couple of you!) and are actually curious about this list, let me know and I will either post it here or email it to you!

2. I've decided that in 2012 I'll actually use my Goodreads account, which previously I used only to follow 2 friends and had never posted on. If you have an account, you should let me know and I will befriend you! If you're interested in following mine, you can probably find it by searching for "Shoshana"; if you can't, let me know, and I will send you the link. My first (brief, as probably most of them will be, because I'm generally more interested in talking about books than writing about them) review is now up, of The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt.

3. I promise I will post again soon! I have lots to tell about - Christmas and Merce Cunningham and New Year's and some other stuff. But right now I am tired of writing internet-y stuff, so it will have to wait. Maybe later today. No promises :p