Monday, December 29, 2008

Rebecita's Non-Vegan Christmas Lunchbox and miscelaneous holiday food tidings

I finally got around to making (err, loosely adapting) that Christmas Limas and Brussel Sprouts recipe from Vegan Lunchbox I've been drooling over for two years. My tinkered-with recipe is on the recipe blog over here. Luckily I had leftovers for my lunch so that I could post a proper tribute! Limas and brussels topped with Texas pecans and some local blue cheese. Cornbread muffins with sage and molasses (my muffin to be thankful for minus the filling) and baked sweet potatoes were my contribution to Christmas Eve. A hardboiled egg and pippin apple round out the lunch.

You can check out a few more holiday pictures at fotki, most of which seem to feature food, which is clearly not a misrepresentation of how I spent the holidays. Featuring Steve's Birthday Latkes.

Most produce courtesy of the Jack London Square farmers market, by the way. This market doesn't have quite the stunning selection as the ones in Berkeley, but the remarkably higher ratio of fabulously old school purveyors who chat you up and swap recipes : crowds of hipster/hippies? Priceless. In addition to my previously mentioned Berry Guy, JLS also features my Apple Guy and my Brussel Sprout Guy at adjacent stands. Brussel Guy notes that with the cold snap the sprouts seem even more tender, identifies with my preference for long-cooked sprouts (none of this al dente business, he says), and makes sure to give me a few extra handfuls so I can try some new recipes. Apple Guy picks out his favorite applesauce blend from his 15 or so varieties, including the latke-condiment-appropriate King David, and gives me the rundown on his sauce method. (AG: How do you make your applesauce? With a food mill? You like that baby food consistancy? Me: Um, yes?) Then he picks out his favorite eating apples, including the one-week-only Christmas Grannies (he eats them for lunch off the ground with a fine cheese and corn chips) and the knock-out Hidden Rose with a pink flesh. God bless the farmers.

Otherwise, I lit the candles 7/8 nights. Natalia dragged me to a hipster dinner party to revive our tradition of spending Nochebuena together. There was plenty of rum and hip hop, no family, no carols, and no tamales. I've decided I need my holidays to be slightly more wholesome. Or, you know, nonexistent... I then proceeded to sleep from 5 am to 5 pm on Christmas, with a brief interlude around 11 in which Inder woke me up to get some last minute jam and attend to urgent present opening.

And, it's a wrap.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

XXmas in review

(Looking to see what Santa brought; pumpkin fritters and goose gravy; the Christmas sweater; with Quincy on the back porch; R and the mighty chiminea; Bill and his cherry cobbler*; wrapping up the evening right: Tiny 2-Tones, dominoes, and one last round of 4-part caroling.)

*A few details on the cobbler: Please admire cuisinally impure but thematically magnificent red and green sugar sprinkles on crust. Also, please enjoy with me the fact that Bill poked an "X" in the crust that was supposed to be the "X" in "Xmas." But he made it so big that the rest of the word wouldn't have fit. So he did what any enterprising baker would do at this point: shrugged, and poked a second "X" next to the first one.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Behold the Christmas sweater

Please note fur-trimmed hood and pom-poms on drawstrings. He's hoping the co-worker who loaned it to him on Christmas Eve will let him keep it.

Merry Christmas, Gentile friends! Here's hoping your blessed day was as awesome as this sweater.

Also, stay tuned for photos of Christmas with B&Q, in which the sweater makes its triumphant return. (Along with a button-down shirt and tie... it's tres Mr. Rogers.)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Bring me flesh and bring me wine

(Cita, that one's for you. Clem!!!)

Captured on film: basses at the caroling party, during the acapella portion of the evening. I believe we were spending some quality time with King Wenceslas when this particular shot was snagged by Quincy. Wot holiday cheer!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The playing of the merry organ / sweet singing in the choir

Just ducking in to wish everyone a happy Chanukah, if tonight's your night. I'll be squeezing in some candle-lighting in the short window between sunset and Bill & Quincy's annual Christmas party (sorry, God... I promise I'll celebrate Your miracle appropriately with latkes and applesauce next Sunday). In the meantime, here are some recent stats from the homefront:

1am: The hour I was up until last weekend making kimchi. I think I might be turning into That Crazy Kimchi Lady. Every household needs one, I guess.

2: Number of nights we went caroling with our friends this year, for our second annual door-to-door caroling extravaganza. You'd better look out for us on a sidewalk near you... we're the ones singing four-part harmony and holding votive candles in mason jars to light our way, and we KNOW you're in there, we can see you through the window, we can tell you're not opening the door ON PURPOSE... (In our defense, we only sing at houses with Christmas lights, and for every door that didn't get opened, there was another family with little kids who came out and sat on the porch and listened in wonderment, or a guy who went and got his girfriend out of the shower so she could stick out her head and listen. It's enough to grow your heart three sizes.)

2 again: Number of weeks of holiday vacation I have. I love working at a nonprofit with two full-time staff members so my boss can say, "I think our office should be closed starting on Monday" and I can say "Okay" and then we mark it on the dry-erase calendar and it's decided.

4: Approximate number of hours I spent out of my pajamas yesterday, in what I'm hoping will set the tone for the remainder of my vacation.

Okay, I'll wrap it up there... I have all sorts of home-related projects on the vacation agenda, so I can't promise too many extensive updates, but I'll try to pop in with at least some pictures. In the meantime, hope everyone's holidays are safe and lovely!



Saturday, December 20, 2008

The ox and lamb kept time...

Still freakishly cold here. Holiday stuff very late this year. Finally succumbed to cold that's been going after everyone near me. I felt the tickle in my throat just as I was crossing the bay bridge to see Slumdog Millionaire with Natalia.

1) CBEST - Thanks for the good wishes folks. The testing conditions were actually vastly superior to any other standardized test I've taken. No more creaky high school desks, number two pencils, and teenage hormones filling the air. One of the benefits of the computer test is that they give your unofficial score on the math/reading right away, and I safely passed the very very low bar. Assuming I strung some sentences together aceptably on the writing, I'm all set. I don't think I can share the actual essay prompts since I signed some confidentiality business on pain of death, but suffice it to say they were slightly less lame. Actually, they were equally lame, but easier to answer. Think less coffee talk and more beauty pageant.

2) I finally put the finishing touches on my christmas mix (maybe in time to arrive in your mailbox by christmas?) My personal favorite addition is a cut from the only existing recording of Britten's Ceremony of Carol's as conducted by Britten. The funny thing is that it gets poor reviews all around (bad tuning, the Copenhagen kids have a thick accent) but I had picked it out as my favorite in a blind test of dozens of recordings available on itunes. There's just something about the crackly old recording and the way they scoop a little on the high notes in the round section is totally chilling.

3) And finally, the jam is here! All 201 jars of it. (Not including the dozens of jars I've already gifted/sold/consumed this year.)

With huge apologies to Richard, who whipped me up a lovely logo without me even having to ask, I couldn't get the idea of doing a vintage label out of my head. I photoshopped it out of this real vintage label.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Standardized test questions roasting on an open fire

Because apparently I didn't have enough going on this week, I'm taking the CBEST in 4 hours. The california basic educational skills test, that is. The first of many hoops to jump through to get an adult ed cert. I'm taking the new computer based test, because it's offered more often, for which I get the pleasure of paying $64 extra and being on lock down for 5 hours. No food or water allowed. All personal items must be left in a locker outside the room. They photograph, fingerprint/palmprint you on arrival and verify this information if and when you plan your escape to the bathroom.

The extent of my studying? The practice exam I'm halfway through gave over a while ago to email snark about the writing prompts. And has clearly now degenerated to full on blogging.

Ernest Hemingway once commented, "As you get older, it is harder to have heroes, but it is sort of necessary." In an essay to be read by an audience of educated adults, state whether you agree or disagree with Hemingway's observation. Support your position with logical arguments and specific examples.

Alternate topics so far include why Hemingway is a terrible hero and why educated adults should not use "sort of" in their essays.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tasty books and winter flavors

Well, I think it's safe to say that the last thing I need under my christmas tree / menorah is more precarious stacks of books. However, I'm still allowed to drool at pretty Up With Food type books. Chews Wise posted a holiday booklist... with the exception of CLH's picks at the bottom, I would clear a coveted spot on my actual shelves for any of them. So not allowed to acquire anymore books until I finish one of the 6 I'm in the middle of. Bear Ye Witness, my End of the Year resolution is to finish said books. Summerland, Roots, Lolita, Wuthering Heights, The Sound and the Fury, and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. Hmm, can't help but notice I'm struggling on the classics here in 2008! Odd because all of those books, with the exception of Summerland (eh) and WH (ugh), are fabulous. It's just my adult onset ADD.

Back to food, good lord have I been loving the farmer's market lately. I don't know about my complexion, but foodwise I am such a winter. I heart those root vegetables and long-cooking methods. I need to break out some macrobiotic winter menus. Tonight I roasted up a Japanese sweet potatoes with the most delicate skin and sweetest dessert caliber flesh, german butterball potatoes, golden beets, and a purple top turnip. Plus a side of tofu roasted with fresh oregano and smoked paprika, with a squeeze of backyard lemon. Why don't I eat this everyday? Last week I pretty much subsisted on a big bag of mushrooms and spinach (advertised as "rich and creamy"), in omelets, miso soup, tortillas... mmmmm. Walking back from the market today I had the most intensely flavored apple I've ever encountered, it was like biting into tangy candy. I almost needed water to wash it down.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I promise this is my last post about the weather

Marveling at Austin weather is so 2006. But hot on the heels of LAST NIGHT'S SNOWFALL, I have just discovered that it is 35 degrees in Austin, Texas and 63 degrees in New York City. Winter! We welcome thee to Texas!

And now back to our regularly scheduled 74 degrees and humid.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Good old Austin

Today's high: 78 degrees, 95% humidity

Tonight's projected low: 36 degrees, 40 mph winds

So. Confused.

Back to your regularly scheduled cynicism

Just in case Illinois thought it could bask in the hopeful glow of its native son for 4 years...

... the governor was arrested this morning for TRYING TO SELL OBAMA'S VACANT SENATE SEAT. Yeah.

Monday, December 08, 2008

More wedding photos!

This time courtesy of my mom.

Check out all that two-stepping and waltzing action, including my personal fave:

She loves it so much

The latest record of my compulsion to hug inappropriately hard, sharp, and/or rusty objects:

Generally it's junk sculpture, but I'll settle for rocks when I have to.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

As God as my witness, I'll never be cold again!

(Insert dramatic footage of me digging for spare bedding in our backyard, silhouetted against the fading sun...)

Hmm, what could POSSIBLY be in this box?

Thanks mom!