Sunday, April 27, 2008

Pass me some more chametz, please

Oy, I have been so far from keeping kosher for passover it's NOT EVEN FUNNY. I would blame the Golden Gate singing except for the fact that there were loads of Passover friendly foods there. And even a Passover themed blessing! At fault here are clearly my own high carb tendencies.

I didn't buy a new convention dress (which, as it turns out, would have been superfluous thanks to Inder who has a closet full of convention worthy outfits and enjoys dressing me up.) But I DID splurge on a pretty new bundt pan.

We spent all Friday evening in the kitchen (instead of seeing Tracy at the F&S as I'd planned, thanks to the Thursday that ate my life). Somewhere amidst our stacks of casseroles Steve managed to slip in an amazing chicken tikki masala. I even ate the sauce! The heavy cream and chicken infused sauce. See how I managed to be both a bad jew AND a bad vegetarian.

The Chicken That Tempted Rebecca

The Spinach That Tempted Crouton

The Little Planet That Lived Inside The Whisk (so christened by Inder)

The Vegan Southwest Corn Pudding That Put My Cheesy Casseroles To Shame
(more coverage on the recipe blog)

The Bundt Pan That Lived To Make Corner Copia's Famous Lithuanian Coffee Cake
(Thanks Lo!)

Friday, April 25, 2008

L'shanah haba'ah birushalayim!

[I didn't manage to take a single picture of our seder so you'll have to make do with this generic photo of Jerusalem I took last summer.]

I declare our first annual seder a success! Eight of us, six bottles of wine, five haggadot, chicken molé, "Saints Bound for Heaven," a shankbone cut out of paper (in the grand Mahoney tradition), gefilte fish served up on B&Q's homegrown lettuce, and dominoes until three in the morning. Amen. I've been (pretty much) avoiding chametz this week - the nice simple Sephardic way, not like those wacky Ashkenazim who don't eat ANYTHING during Passover - and, well:

[With apologies to Graham, who already had to suffer through this card on Day 3. I got cranky real fast. If this isn't enough for you, feel free to peruse's selection of other Pesach-related cards. So good!]

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Eep! There is a recording...

The radio show last night was a lot of fun. You can get us all worked up and shove us in a tiny room anytime... the singing was GOOD. Turns out our friend Will clearly loves us the most for not only staying up in Michigan but recording the show and putting it up online before we even got home. So all of you who were hoping for a recording have been richly rewarded. Check it out at your leisure!

Disclaimers... This was a classical program, so there's lots of discussion of the musical history. And the one little mono mic and carpeted room did NOT make the most flattering setting for recording... I kind of like the raw sound of it though. And I think the fuguing tunes sound great, the rhythms coming across a lot better than the harmony on that mic. If you listen long enough you can hear me lead 209 and talk about death.

ps - Inder's take on the radio extravaganza here. I always enjoy the parallel blogging of our lives.

pps - Thanks to James you can now listen to or download mp3s for each song! (344, 114, 77t, 547, 29t, 454, 159, 142, 209, 168, 49b)

Sunday, April 20, 2008

In decidedly non-passover related news...

... who wants to hear me on the radio? In anticipation of the 4th Annual Golden Gate Sacred Harp Singing coming up on Saturday (!) a bunch of us will be on a local radio show tomorrow. That's Monday night, April 21. We'll do some informal singing live in the studio. (Which apparently will necessitate some complicated removal of furniture. There were actual blueprints involved.) Others more eloquent than I will say a few words and play some recordings. It should be a lot of fun and a nice opportunity for more than just "press." The host of the program was the one to approach us, and he's encouraged us to be laid back and honest:
Imagine that a couple of heads poke into a singing that's just started. "Hey, we heard this really unusual [or wonderful / weird / compelling / teeth-grinding] music, what's going on here?" If you're all willing to turn the next hour into an impromptu introduction to the shape-note tradition, and your guests are intelligent, inquisitive, and music-loving (to the point, perhaps, of joining in), how would the happiest possible next hour go?

The show is Classics Without Walls on KUSF.
If you're local in the bay area you can turn your dials to 90.3 from 10-11 pm.
Long distance listeners can tune in online! (And adjust their bedtimes accordingly. That's midnight-1 central time and 1-2 eastern time. It's ok if you don't love me THAT much.)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

from Egypt's yoke set free / hail the glorious jubilee

I'm not nearly as organized for Passover as KT, as evidenced by the distinct lack of kosher products in the house, manischewitz or otherwise. (For the record, this is only because I've moved, or I'd still have last year's matzah and wine.) Tomorrow night I will either be crashing after work or tagging along on a family outing to the F&S. So who knows when I'll get around to having a real Seder, but let's just hope it isn't June this time...

For those of you in actual accordance with the Jewish calendar I thought I'd at least post some recipes.

Reminisce about last year's non celebration here. (Hmm, it looks like bluegrass+passover is becoming a theme with me!) In which I made classic versions of charoset and tzimmes for my very first chef homework!
(I had forgotten about all those tantilizing diasporic charosets... you have to help me test these out... I'm only one woman here! I call the California version, with dates and avocado.)

Keftes de Espinaca (Sephardic Spinach Patties)

I wouldn't turn down this for dessert... Gâteau à l'Orange et au Gingembre (Flourless Orange and Ginger Cake)

And, finally, thanks to Rosie for sending on this NYT article.
Bread of Freedom in Times of Despair.
“I was so scared, but we had one matzo per person for Pesach with the wine that we made ourselves from raisins. Besides the danger, we celebrated with the sincere hope that we were going to be liberated.”

Friday, April 18, 2008

Manischewitz, why hast thou forsaken me???

One of the H-E-B grocery stores here in town has a "Kosher Store" inside it, which consists of a whole corner of Jew food. I don't make it up there very often - I think the last time I went was on the second day of Chanukah 2006, when I somehow forgot to make sure I had candles until after the holiday had actually started (I didn't) - but whenever I do I generally spend at least ten minutes just wandering through the aisles, absorbing the aura of imported jelly candies and glass bottles of sauerkraut. If I'm lucky (as I was today) there will also be a confused Christian employee with a heavy Texas twang trying to track down some sort of incomprehensible food for a Jewish patron ("Hey Marie, do y'all know anything about cinnamon matzoh??? Do we carry that stuff???"). (In his defense, I'd never heard of cinnamon matzoh either.)

I went today to do some last-minute shopping for tomorrow night. Allow me to take this opportunity to state for the record that if the H-E-B in CENTRAL TEXAS carries something like EIGHT varieties of gefilte fish, I tremble to think of what a shopping trip somewhere that Jews actually live consists of. Whenever I was overwhelmed by the options, I kept being tempted to just grab the Manischewitz brand of whatever I was looking for (what better way to initiate six people into the mysteries of their first seder? mmmm, Manischewitz), which led me to the unpleasant discovery that Manischewitz adds MSG to, like, everything. What's up with that???

This is also the first seder of my life at which I am resolved not to only drink grape juice. I am a grown woman, after all.

I'll close out this holiday post with a couple from the archives... here's the closest I've ever been to Jerusalem at Passover: Mme Duthoit's dining room table, way back in the France days, when she was out of town and Sandy and I had a little pseudo-seder:

Unfortunately, after I made up that lovely plate, I couldn't really remember what to do. I think we dipped some parsley in saltwater and opened the door for Elijah and that was about it.

I also have to confess that I'm pretty sure the egg on the plate is one of the Easter eggs that we also decorated that night:

Oh well.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Not that I'm complaining...

So I'm still scratching my head over these two unlikely coming-up-rebecca moments.

1) Waited until today to mail my taxes. Couldn't find my stamps and figured I'd feel better anyway watching someone else put on sufficient postage and today's postmark. Prepared myself for the wait at the dinky post office near the school I work at, which even on a normal day is FOREVER. You know, one of those endless lines of exactly 2 people - one of them opening a PO Box and the other needing 328764 explanations of the difference between postal rates. So on the fine afternoon of April 15th I walk in the door and find... an empty room. Not a single customer in the place and two open windows. Huh?

2) So yeah, in case I hadn't mentioned it, I stuck with the school job. I've taken over the cooking classes, the tutoring program is getting all of this constructive support from yet another supervisor who materialized out of nowhere, and the kids have really warmed up to me. And the plus side to a totally incompetent workplace? I look like a star just for showing up. This job has NOT exactly brought out my most professional side, and yet I'm swimming in positive reinforcement. Today I waltz in extremely late as usual, having totally forgotten about a scheduled meeting with the Deus Ex Machina Supervisor. The director immediately calls me over with a big smile: "I just wanted to let you know we're giving you a raise!" I look dumbfounded. I've gotten a raise exactly once before, and that was of the 2%-at-annual-performance-review variety. I've been working here for less than a month. She continues... "You know, since you're taking on more than we originally discussed." I'm still kind of looking around for the hidden camera, but manage to sound vaguely grateful and professionally entitled because yes, the going rate for cooking instructors is not cheap, and no, I didn't sign on to run that program. The best part of all? The school year is over in 9, count em, 9 weeks. Watch me as I take my money and RUN.

(Now, I'd be waiting for the other shoe to drop if I hadn't already racked up 2 parking tickets and a suspended registration in the last week. For the record, the tickets are all my fault, but the registration nightmare is thanks to a winning combination of a typo, my insurance company, and the always lovely California DMV.)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Happy birthday, B!

In lieu of a present, which is not even close to being put in the mail, please accept this personalized blog post.

Katie & Briana, circa 8th grade. You know you love the hats.

Joyeux anniversaire!

Further proof that I am incapable of doing two things at once

Some of you may be aware of my total inability to carry on a proper conversation while doing anything else simultaneously. This was verified once again tonight, when over the course of two phone conversations I managed to spectacularly burn three things: our dinner, a pot, and one of our kitchen chairs. The pot and chair are utterly and completely ruined. But fortunately the night wasn't a total bust, as Richard and I will eat almost anything, even blackened lentils.

This is just a public service announcement to remind you to ask me if I am doing anything that requires even marginal brainpower before you strike up a conversation with me. If I am making your dinner at the time, it's probably for your own good.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday night check-in

Ah, Fridays. Harkening back to the ol' college days, when Rebecca and I could generally be found of a Friday evening peacefully doing our laundry, I just spent the past three hours taking a not-entirely-unintentional nap, and am preparing to follow it up with something really amazingly exciting, like maybe loading the dishwasher. What better way to ring in a weekend with absolutely nothing scheduled in it, for the first time in at least a month? All these weddings and karate promotions and conventions and birthday parties and conferences were really cutting into my precious lack of social life. I am in fact skipping an AIDS advocacy training tomorrow that I was planning on going to (because who has the patience or the gas money to make a one-day roundtrip to Dallas?), and I do actually think we have a birthday party to go to tomorrow night, but aside from those slight blemishes the coast is clear.

Thanks for all the sweet notes about my grandfather. He lived long and richly for well over 90 years, and was still enjoying homemade cookies when R&I went to visit in early March, which is all anyone can really ask for. I led 285t for him at McMahan, which seemed like the right thing to do.

The conference in Massachusetts last weekend was great (although I would like to lodge a formal complaint about it always happening just long enough after WMSHC that I have to take two roundtrip flights to Bradley in less than a month if I want to attend both)... lots of energy and meeting people and hearing about the great work that's being done all over the country. I'm always bemused by the complaint that young people today aren't as active as they used to be... in my line of work, it seems like you can't turn your head any which way without spotting a crowd of passionate under-30s who are doing incredible social justice service and advocacy work on the ground across the U.S. I always come away from these conferences feeling like I do absolutely nothing with my life. (For examples, please refer to "AIDS advocacy training, skipping," or "plans this weekend, none," first paragraph.) In my ever so slight defense, I WAS in charge of the silent auction at a fundraising event last night for a local abortion assistance fund. It was a really nice event... as Graham said (ha, I'm so blogging his line before he gets a chance to), those abortionists sure know how to party! (Don't worry, Graham, that just means that all the crazies who sit around and Google "abortionists" will just be sent to our blog, not yours. Think of it as taking one for the team. Sorry, Rebecca.)

Also, in the world of culinary discoveries that nobody reading this really cares about, I finally figured out why my spelt bread has been so flat and ugly for the past month! [For those of you who somehow have missed out on really couldn't care less about the nuances of my regular food barter, I trade a loaf of bread for a dozen eggs every week, and my egg provider recently went wheat-free but still eats spelt.] Sadly, I can't take any credit since it was a pure and utter accident - as most great culinary discoveries are, right? - caused by the fact that the store was out of Rapid Rise yeast so I bought regular dry active yeast instead. Who knew the Rapid Rise was the cause of all my sorrows? It works so well with wheat bread! Even Rose Levy Beranbaum recommends it... and Rose Levy Beranbaum wouldn't lie. But for some reason, it makes the spelt dough rise too fast or something so it doesn't develop properly and then sinks when it bakes... clearly the actual mechanics of the thing are a little beyond my comprehension (and then the little wizard in the middle of the bread takes out his wand and deflates the dough...) but suffice it to say that my latest loaf was the first non-embarrassing one I've traded for eggs in at least six weeks.

Also related to bread, the fact that I have at least seven failed loaves in the freezer means this probably won't be the year I start getting rid of chametz for Passover. But I am excited about the seder that we're hosting next Saturday. Briefly inspired by Jenna, I was thinking about piecing together my own haggadah, but I think that's just too much for me this year, so I may just buy a few copies of the Leonard Baskin haggadah that Half Price Books has a stack of. Since we're the youngest of our crew, Richard will get to ask the Four Questions. Poor goy doesn't realize what a coveted role that is. I'm totally jealous.

Okay, I'm off to load the dishwasher. Happy weekend!



Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Look, Katie, a birthday and a cow!

Here's a helpful hint to my friends and loved ones. If it's your birthday and you choose that day to email me pictures of yourself... they WILL end up here. Particularly if they are fabulous old pictures you just found in a shoebox. And no, this is not a hypothetical situation.

My dad is the lucky birthday boy today. He says: "The first is Grpa Kenny and me in '63, the second is the ultimate in recycling coke bottles."

ps - Is that a Guernsey? Do I pass?

Saturday, April 05, 2008

What's better than board? Local board.

Now, I have been known to answer to "boarder" at Inder and Steve's. Despite the fact that regular board has been suspiciously lacking in my stay here. But tonight I came home after a hard day's work to "Hi honey, welcome home, would you like a beer?" followed by the inaugural 100-foot meal. Yes, 100-foot. (This will probably not be surprising to anyone who has ever clicked over to Inder's blog or goodreads and noticed that she's working up to her dream 50 acres, one Gaggle of Gourds at a time.)

Here's a sneak peak sponsored by previous technical difficulties... check out more extensive coverage of our fabulously local feast* here.

(*Note that I continue my moratorium on the "word" locavore.)

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Checking in before I lose another weekend

Don't you love weekends that are so busy you need a weekend to recover from them, only there isn't another weekend because that was your weekend? I sure am saying weekend an awful lot. In retrospect, I actually do enjoy them because they generally contain lots of good stuff. But they make me sleepy. And they keep me from blogging as much as Rebecca does. So, in the interest of continuing the eternal struggle to maintain a presence on this blog, I now present you with: Last Weekend.

Saturday morning was three hours of karate promotions. I am now officially a yellow belt, which seems logically like it should put me halfway to black belt since I only have three more colors to go. But this assumption would be grossly false. I would even go so far as to call it laughably so. I am, however, reservedly proud of my shiny new belt. After promotions we had a karate luncheon at the home of an an advanced yellow belt and his advanced brown belt wife and daughter. Then I drove up to the county Democratic Convention to sit behind a table for two hours and hand out NARAL stickers to people. Then Richard and I went to a birthday party. Then we went to see our friend Brennen play a show at our favorite little neighborhood honkytonk. Now we're at 11:30pm on Saturday night. Please try to keep up.

Sunday was McMahan... Richard only made it down on Saturday, so I took his place (and his Cooper book, since mine is inexplicably missing) and drove down with Bill, Jessica, and Brennen. The crowd was thin but the singing was great. Back in Austin Bill and I went to Jessica's for the standard post-convention wind-down-and-gossip-over-alcohol (in this case, homebrew. Hippies). Then I grocery shopped and then it was bedtime on Sunday and WHERE DID MY WEEKEND GO? I demand another one. The good news is, I get another one. The bad news is, I'll be spending it at a conference. Actually, that's excellent news since it's the Hampshire College conference that so kicked my butt in the best way possible last year, which also means quality family time and possibly quality Jenna time, Jenna being my only friend who is conveniently located exactly where I will be spending Friday.

Which brings me to the fact that I'm flying out of Austin tomorrow morning and - admit it, you know what's coming next - I haven't started packing yet. Please, please, try to contain your shocked astonishment. Actually, the real shocker is that since I'm only leaving for 4 days and Richard will still be here, it shouldn't take me more than 20 minutes to pack, putting me to bed well before midnight. But let's be honest, O faithful readers, after three years of following our every move, have you ever read about an occasion on which Rebecca or I turned in before midnight the night before an interstate departure? I would dig back through the archives to locate some piece of supporting evidence, but I know it's fruitless.

In the meantime, happy weekend to all and I'll check in next week, after my mind will have presumably been blown slightly more than it is right now. Oh yeah, and pictures might be coming soon. That's all I'll say about that. G'night.