Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving in Texas

Many thanks to give this year for beautiful friends, family, and thousands of other blessings that I won't get into here. But please a) know that I appreciate YOU, and b) enjoy a few snapshots from Thanksgiving weekend! [Credit to B&Q for the first four.]

Puttering around Alexa's kitchen like good little Thanksgiving elves. Please take a moment to admire R's handmade chicken apron, a wedding present from Sandy.

Alexa preps the festive table. We ate on the balcony because it was so warm. Oh Texas.

The dazed, self-satisfied smirk of a woman who finished her ENTIRE GIANT PLATE OF FOOD before anyone else at the table. So bloated. So queasy. So pleased with myself.

R says: How can I possibly live up to THAT??? (What you don't see is the 10 minutes before this picture was taken, when his plate was entirely covered in smoked-pork-drippings-based gravy. With the skill of a seasoned professional, he somehow managed to eat only the top layer of his dinner, leaving the gravyless bottom layer intact. We're also missing the 10 minutes after this picture was taken, when he poured out some more gravy and showed the rest of his dinner who was boss.)

Today we drove out to Enchanted Rock State Park with some friends for some leisurely hiking.

That rock isn't Enchanted Rock, but we posed in front of it anyways.


Hope everyone had a lovely holiday!

Friday, November 28, 2008

lazy black friday blues

Mmm, best day off working retail ever.

My accomplishments so far

Stare at wall
Stare at computer
Shower
Wash the last of the dishes.
Eat two kinds of pie with whipped cream (butternut squash and apple, my contribution to Thanksgiving) followed by mac and cheese and brussel sprouts (Inder)
Stare at Inder and Linda knit and sew.
Go back to staring at wall/computer.

OK, I'm going to attempt to stare at a book for a while.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Just in case you're making a last minute pie...

I finally remembered to post my apple pie over at the recipe blog. I'm making another one now, plus a pumpkin (actually a butternut squash!).

Check out my beautifully imperfect farmer's market pie blend apples. With my too cute autumnal pie cutouts.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Grumpy :: Happy

So as you may have noticed, it's been a ridiculously long time since my last post of substance. And since we spent maybe 48 hours total actually preparing for the wedding (not to be confused with thinking about preparing for it, or putting off preparing for it, or experiencing the nagging sensation that maybe we should be doing more preparing for it, or making Rebecca prepare for it), I can't even claim that as an excuse. Since I haven't done anything particularly interesting in the past few weeks, I'll share with you a few lists that have been bumping around my head: Things That Are Making Me Grumpy These Days and Things That Are Making Me Happy These Days. Let's get the icky stuff out of the way first.

Things That Are Making Me Grumpy These Days:

1) The title of the cover article in this month's Advocate. "Gay Is the New Black" is apparently about the much-hyped-of-late "black-gay divide" in California's Prop. 8 win. Because all gays are white, and all black people are straight. (For a classic example of this jackassery, see Dan Savage's article; this link sends you via Racialicious so at least it comes served up with a little intelligent commentary.) In the Advocate's defense, I haven't actually read the full article yet. In my defense, the Advocate has never yet been known to provide a nuanced, complex analysis of any issue involving race, so I'm not sure why they would start now.
2) The statewide coalition project I'm spearheading at work that's slowly eating my life. It's good, and necessary, and exciting, but it also makes me break out in a cold sweat at 1:30 in the morning. I'm appreciating Bernice Reagon's statement on coalition-building: "I feel as if I'm gonna keel over any minute and die. That is often what it feels like if you're really doing coalition work. Most of the time you feel threatened to the core and if you don't, you're not really doing no coalescing."
3) Accidentally continuing to pay for a month and a half of individual health insurance after my employee health insurance kicked in. (But oh man, if anything had happened to me during those six weeks I would have been SO COVERED.)
4) The stupid book I'm reading. I've slogged my way almost to the middle and I'm too stubborn to just stop and return it to the library in spite of its dreadfulness. It's a fluffy historical fantasy that I picked up in the hopes that, based on another book that this writer co-authored, it would have an enjoyable gay protagonist. I would even have settled for throwaway gay subplot. So far, nothing but insufferable heterosexuals as far as the eye can see. And worse yet, it takes place in 18TH-CENTURY FRANCE, my most hated combination of century and geolocation in the history of the modern world.

Things That Are Making Me Happy These Days:

1) Overnight applesauce made in the tiny slow cooker. Chop up a few Granny Smiths before you go to bed, put them in the cooker with some water, cinnamon, and sweetener, and behold! Hot tasty applesauce for your breakfast. Oh how it makes me happy.
2) Bessie Smith. I got myself a 2-CD retrospective of her work at Half Price Books, and have been loving up a storm for Bessie since I first cracked it open. World's most awesome 1920s corn-liquor-drinking, unfaithful-husband-shooting, chorus-girl-bedding, white-society-rejecting, self-made blues singer? You decide!
3) Cold weather! Admittedly, lows in the 40s and highs in the 60s hardly qualify as such. But thanks to the magic of Texas-style insulation, our house has spent a lot of time sitting at a pretty consistent 58-61 degrees. Which makes me feel like it's 17 degrees outside, even when it's actually warmer than our living room...
4) My leftover pedicure. As you may recall, Rebecca and I got ourselves painted (at Austin's only formaldehyde-free nail salon!) just for kicks the day before the wedding. And while I'm pretty sure I'll never get another pedicure again as long as I live, I keep being tickled when I look down and see my pinkish-gold toes. Welcome back to 9th grade. Except back then they were probably alternating green, blue, and purple.

And there you have it. I wanted to make each list a nice round 5 but apparently I just don't have that many things in my life that make me either grumpy or happy. Which is kind of good and pitiful all at the same time.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Okay, I think we ALL wish we went to seminary now

From Jenna:

"this is what we watch as classwork in seminary. it does relate to
augustine's doctrine of grace, go figure."

Monday, November 17, 2008

The revolution in cute pictures

Just a fun slideshow to illustrate the previous post. You may remember my very first paying chef gig was an after-school program I helped design, which we very creatively called Kids For Health. We somehow pulled off a fabulous 4 session pilot program. Each session organized around a theme (Eat the Rainbow, Choosing Healthy Snacks) and complete with integrated nutrition lesson, fitness class (mostly capoeira), cooking class, and family style meal.

We put in a lot of hours, we carted a lot of equipment, the kitchen didn't have a stove, I had to get fingerprinted and poked for 2 TB tests, and I may have griped a few million times, but it was hands down amazing. The kids (2-4th graders) were enthusiastic beyond my wildest dreams, hands straining in the air to answer questions, desperate to do-it-selfs every single job in the kitchen down to washing dishes, gamely trying all kinds of new foods, bringing recipes home and cooking with their parents, composting, downing homemade herbal tea from the school garden. I was blown away by how easy it was to make healthy cool for that age group.

Please note:
- Kids making nori wraps in front of boxes of frosted flakes. A very sad looking woman would come in while we were setting up, pull out disposable bowls of sugar cereal, crates of government milk, and plastic utensils (PLASTIC WRAPPED PACKAGES OF NAPKIN AND ALL 3 UTENSILS just to eat cereal) to distribute to the poor kids in the other after-school programs. Our kids definitely knew they were getting the better deal.
- The fabulous decorations they made to their own aprons.
- Kids intently measuring, washing hands, following recipes, reading labels.
- "Secret Ingredient Chocolate Pudding" (Spoiler, the secret is the avocado.) decorated by the kids with pomegranate seeds and mint from the school garden. And last but not least decorating Mason's face.

Photos are over here at Fotki too.

Up with food, the personal and the political

So remember how I went to culinary school? Are you still waiting for me to make waves with my fabulous cooking career? Yeah, me too. I'm feeling better about that lately after comparing notes with fellow Bauman alums and concluding that not a single one of us has achieved world domination, and have mostly plum gone back to doing what we were doing before. Shiloh and I spent some time tonight commiserating over post-hippie-school depression and general lack-of-life-directionness. Fortunately she's decided to escape the hellhole of LA and we have concocted all kinds of reaffirming plans for business parternship when she hits the bay area. In other not-working-retail news, I'm back on the warpath of education job applications. Also, I'm just going to suck it up and get a California teaching cert. Or at least the bootleg adult ed version. I'm announcing it and everything so that I have to go through with it. (Not a guarantee.)

At least some other people are a bit more coherent and active than I am at moving this food revolution along. I finally got around to reading Michael Pollan's open letter to Obama, and YOWZA. He does a brilliant job of articulating the intimacy of food policy with national security and energy policy and healthcare and wrapping it up in a new mantra of moving back from oil-based agriculture to sun-based. Best of all he says loud and clear that this is no mere liberal agenda. A) Really, we don't have much choice at this point. The era of cheap oil is over. B) He calls local food movements a truly conservative cause and draws on the spirit of our agrarian heritage and civic pride.

The article is lengthy, so if you've read Omnivore's Dilemma or In Defense of Food, or if you're at all familiar with the arguments about reclaiming the food system, you could give it a good skim. The big difference here is that he's literally advising the president on agricultural policy, rather than the average consumer on what to eat for dinner. (And being heard. Obama has read and discussed it.) The new and fun stuff shows up at the end, where he starts giving specific advice on cooking and gardening at the white house.

Excuse me as I excerpt excessively:

To change our children’s food culture, we’ll need to plant gardens in every primary school, build fully equipped kitchens, train a new generation of lunchroom ladies (and gentlemen) who can once again cook and teach cooking to children. We should introduce a School Lunch Corps program that forgives federal student loans to culinary-school graduates in exchange for two years of service in the public-school lunch program. And we should immediately increase school-lunch spending per pupil by $1 a day — the minimum amount food-service experts believe it will take to underwrite a shift from fast food in the cafeteria to real food freshly prepared.

Hell yeah! Sign me up.

You’re probably thinking that growing and eating organic food in the White House carries a certain political risk. It is true you might want to plant iceberg lettuce rather than arugula, at least to start. (Or simply call arugula by its proper American name, as generations of Midwesterners have done: “rocket.”) But it should not be difficult to deflect the charge of elitism sometimes leveled at the sustainable-food movement. Reforming the food system is not inherently a right-or-left issue: for every Whole Foods shopper with roots in the counterculture you can find a family of evangelicals intent on taking control of its family dinner and diet back from the fast-food industry — the culinary equivalent of home schooling. You should support hunting as a particularly sustainable way to eat meat — meat grown without any fossil fuels whatsoever. There is also a strong libertarian component to the sun-food agenda, which seeks to free small producers from the burden of government regulation in order to stoke rural innovation. And what is a higher “family value,” after all, than making time to sit down every night to a shared meal?

... Your sun-food agenda promises to win support across the aisle. It builds on America’s agrarian past, but turns it toward a more sustainable, sophisticated future. It honors the work of American farmers and enlists them in three of the 21st century’s most urgent errands: to move into the post-oil era, to improve the health of the American people and to mitigate climate change. Indeed, it enlists all of us in this great cause by turning food consumers into part-time producers, reconnecting the American people with the American land and demonstrating that we need not choose between the welfare of our families and the health of the environment — that eating less oil and more sunlight will redound to the benefit of both.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

7 degrees of Katie and Richard's wedding

I know what our readers want. Heck, even I don't want to read the blog unless it's about the wedding. So I've invented a new game. I start out with the big day and work my way back there in 7 steps. It's fun, you try! Bonus if you include pictures.

1) Burn out. Everyone keeps asking me if I cried at the wedding... thank god I was working too hard to get worked up. It turns out I was too busy to even be oversocialized by my trip to Austin, but what I really burned out was every last brain cell capable of productivity. Somehow I squeezed out a week of work and an election without the energy to do more than blink. I hadn't even cooked anything more advanced than microwaving Inder's leftover pasta and beans.

2) Up and at them. (No, "Up and atom". Up and at them. Better.)
But on Sunday I emerged to the land of the living! I got up early for breakfast downtown with Crystal. We braved some of the singularly worst service I've had in a while (the restaurant literally ran out of silverware for a while) but it was all worth it for pancakes and catching up with her and her son. Then I walked over to the Jack London farmers market, where I was hoping to catch the end of the raspberry season after the extreme success of that last batch of jam. My new favorite berry guy remembered me, asked after my jam, and gave me a great deal on a flat of raspberries. Yay! Then it was back home where I got Steve's help on installing a new headlight. Uh, turns out it was pretty much easier than changing a bulb in my room. No chair required. I didn't do this 6 months and one fix-it ticket ago... why?

THEN I tackled the frightening Room Cleanup. It wasn't quite the transformation that K and R pulled, but, well, let's do a quick visualization excercise. Clear your mind. Picture my "clean" room, featuring a giant heap of clothes, stacks of jam jars both full and empty, and towering piles of books. Now pick up your mental leafblower. Go ahead, turn it on. Really go at it, work out some agression. Congratulations, you have experienced the tendency of my room toward entropy. De-leafblowerification? Extremely necessary, especially to make it presentable for first time visitors / notoriously neat mothers.

3) Train kept a rolling, all night long...
(aka the Rock Band song that never. ends.) So much catching up with old friends! Natalia and her mom came over for a lovely evening of food, laundry, and rocking out on fake instruments late into the night. Hadn't seen her mom since... last February?? People that I love, stop moving to Delaware! (Or more of you move there, so I have a reason to visit!) The big N, pobrecita, broke her ankle in her last derby bout and missed out on a trip to Mexico! She can't even "go groceries" on her own any more! So her mom came to town and they eventually deposited themselves on my doorstep heavy laden with dirty clothes. Not that it was necessary (I told her that I spent so many hours camped out at her house growing up that she has accrued a lifetime welcome to any and all homes I might inhabit.) but Cynthia repaid our hospitality with loads of Mexican comfort food!



4) Bounty. Speaking of feasts, it's finally autumn even in California! Inder and I had a harvest-licious meal tonight. Wild rice pilaf, roasted butternut squash with texas-fresh pecans, and roasted brussel sprouts with maple/mustard/balsamic glaze.



5) Happy belated birthday! Speaking of Inder... I forgot to mark the occasion before I went out of town. Just two of the reasons why Inder is just all right with me:
- Our idea of a thrilling evening? Drowning our depression woes in Depression cooking. Inder made a masterpiece Mac n cheese. Then she helped me shell black eyed peas and read to me from a book entitled: "The Old-Time Art of Thrift" while I made veggie stock and strawberry jam.
- We both have stupid eyes! That don't work together so we have bad depth perception and can't see 3-D! (So I eventually got over my childhood bitterness at this deficiency, and instead starting wondered why even people who could see 3-D images were so excited since it's all obscured by the red and blue of the glasses anyway. Turns out? If your eyes work properly you don't see the colors. Oh. OK, I'm bitter again.)


6) Birthday pie! Happy Birthday Inder Mini Apple Pie! Complete with freshly whipped cream, soy candle, and scary bachelor cook card.



7) Wedding Pies! Speaking of which, if you ever show up on your friend's doorstep to "By the way, want to make some wedding dessert?" I highly recommend that you have gone on a pie-making kick the week before. Coming soon to a recipe blog near you.

I stole this Authentic Greg Bartlett Wedding Photo, you can see Jessica cutting into my pie as well as her own beautiful pecan creation in the foreground.



With the leftovers I made a few minis for post wedding celebration, since I knew none of us were going to be in any condition to savor the food the day of.



You'll be happy to know that in a nod to tradition, I made KT and R feed each other mini wedding pie. Alas, I couldn't convince them to freeze one for posterity.


Saturday, November 08, 2008

Wedding photos, get yer wedding photos...

At long last, we've managed to cull through Greg's nearly 800 wedding weekend photographs and pick out the highlights for y'all.

Before I go on, let's all please stop and take a moment to love Greg Bartlett, who flew out from San Francisco to donate his time, talents, and joie de vivre, all while charming the pants off of everyone he met and uncomplainingly sleeping on various couches and floors...


And now, without further ado, I present to you:

THE PICTURES


P.S. You might need to view the photos using Internet Explorer or somesuch mainstream browser. We can't get it to work on Opera. Not sure about Firefox.

P.P.S. Credit to Jenna for the photo above. I'm also stealing another one of her photos because she appears in barely any of the wedding photos on the Shutterfly page and that is just plain wrong. Also, her outfit was fantastic. So here's proof that she really was there. Just look at how much Scott and I love her!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Life as we knew it

I'm still trying to take in the watershed events of this last week. After so much buildup to the wedding and the election, how will I go on? What possible meaning could there be to life?

Here's what I DO know how to deal with...

Banners. See above for a cheesy special limited edition victory banner!

Bad news: Prop 8 has PASSED! Woe, woe, woe! I am so deeply shamed on behalf on my state. Going home to Massachusetts and Connecticut is sounding better all the time.

Pretty pictures: Since I will have no more cute gay celebrity weddings to lift my spirits, I'll have to turn back to Katie and Richard for comfort.

A few more of my favorite photos.

The wedding party


The Officiator


A Very Special Mahoney Day


Monday, November 03, 2008

Presenting...

If only I could learn to write a brilliant Sacred Harp song entitled Fischer, I would have the perfect wedding present for Katie and Richard. On November 1st that little town was witness to the radiant young couple, their fantastic friends and family, the shortest and sweetest ceremony possible, the second oldest dance hall in Texas, divine weather, traditional Korean bowing, delicious food, cold beer, cowboy boots, two steppin, and just a dash of roof raising singing to top it all off. Absolutely everyone enjoyed themselves super immensely, and most of them weren't even getting to see their two best friends get hitched. The frighteningly large grin I was sporting all night still didn't feel large enough to express my joy at the occasion. You shall get to judge for yourself very shortly as the pictures are already working their way online. I'll leave it to Katie and Richard to unveil them when they're ready, but I hope they won't mind if I share a preview.



All following amazing photographic credit goes to Greg, of course.






Saturday, November 01, 2008

Note to yesterday... you thought YOU were crazy?

Fortunately, staying up late... it's what we do best. It's 3 am, the pies are coming out of the oven, the guests and R are sleeping, and KT and I are off to beeeeeeeeeeeeeeed! Next stop... wedding!

I leave you with... KT and R's first mani-pedi!