Thursday, July 31, 2008

traveling circus

Taking a cue from those of you who inventory the contents of your purses, and having not a man bag, or European carry all of my own, I decided that my car would have to suffice. So here is a (ridiculous) list of my car's (and its trunk's) current contents (excepting, of course, the usual glove box suspects).

30 plus books (on feminism, queer theory, and sociology)
20 plus bound readers (on the same topics, from college)
6 The Best Of Gourmet Magazine cookbooks
2 Glass pitchers
1 Plastic pitcher, with lid
3 Cake pedestals (of varying sizes)
2 Large white platters
2 Folding chairs
3 Large wicker baskets
1 Spring-green table cloth
3 White ramekins
3 Empty mason jars
1 Stainless steel powdered sugar shaker
1 Silicone loaf pan
1 White casserole dish, with lid
6 Square, disposable aluminum cake pans, with lids
1 Small crystal vase
1 Large glass vase
1 Rhinestone tiara (no, seriously)
1 Enameled cast iron trivet
1 Large bag of paper plates, napkins, plastic forks, and plastic cups
1 XXX-small blue polo shirt (for Bentley)
1 Extend-able leash
1 Small Tupperware container of dry dog food
1 Small Tupperware container of water
1 Black, mesh pet carrier
5 Cans diet, caffeine-free Pepsi

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Prelude to a picnic. . .

Old-Fashioned Potato Salad

Chicken Tabbouleh

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Saturday night snack?

Just a little nibble with cocktails. . .

Friday, July 25, 2008

Just like Grandma used to make. . .

Lemon curd, apricot, and cherry jam.

There is nothing to me that screams summer quite as loudly as spending an afternoon standing over a hot pot of boiling fruit and sugar. Many an hour have I stood over the stove in my grandmother's kitchen, stirring, making batch after batch of jam, until there was nary an apricot left in the tristate area. Oh how I loved and hated those days. It is the best, worst experience in a cook's yearly schedule. But, oh what a sweet reward you reap. Months later, even in the dead of winter, you can pop open a jar of these golden, amber preserves, and you can literally taste a spoon full of sunshine.

There are only a hand full of things that can bring me back to a very specific place and time and feeling. A certain cologne, a certain song on the radio, a certain sacred space. But the smell of bread baking, and the taste of melting butter and apricot jam are all I need to be transported back in time. It is the smell of my childhood.

Sadly, there will be no more carefree summer days spent making jam with either of my grandmothers. But as I knead my great-great grandmothers rolls, and stir my own batch of my grandmother's jam, I can feel myself stretch my hands back through our history. It is so tangible. I can feel them around me, these generations of women. And for the briefest moments I can feel that I am apart of them, and they of me. I can feel their strength coursing through my very veins, and I am reminded in these moments, of the fact that I appear tall today because I am standing on the shoulders of giants. And I guess that, itself, is worth braving the sweltering summer heat, and a couple of afternoons of constant stirring.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Happy Birthday Dear Jennifer: Caketastrify: or, When bad people happen to good cakes

Maybe we have all had those moments, where everything you touch seems to turn to shit. You are sitting at your table, frosting what you hope will become an awe inspiring work of edible art, and much to your own surprise it all comes together effortlessly, and is even more gorgeous than you ever imagined it could be. "Damn I'm good" you think to yourself, as you jauntily reach for your morning cup of coffee, basking in your own undeniable genius. This skill, this amazing skill that oozes from your very pores, well let's just say it, you are a god! And even though you know that it is perfect as is, that no cake ever has or ever will look as good as this one does at this very moment, you think, "hmmmmm, well maybe if I just. . ." and then it happens, the beginning of the end. Step by step, as if predestined by some higher power as punishment for your vanity, you begin nit picking, fussing, and over improving your masterpiece until it slowly disintegrates into little more than a big pile of steaming cat puke . Your gilded lily is now beyond rescue. "But...but...but..." it's no use. No matter what you do now, no matter how hard you try, you can only make it worse. "Step away from the cake!" you tell yourself. " really CAN fix this....but ...see...wait...if I just...but.... yeah...yeah....ah...f*ck." You stand up, pouting, stomping around the house, snapping at anyone who dares come within earshot, disgusted with yourself, ashamed at the shear magnitude of your failure. How can something so simple, so beautiful, so well intended, go so horribly, horribly wrong? Such was the story of my morning. And while it did (allegedly) look somewhat presentable in the end (see above) it pails in comparison to what it was, or might have been. Desperately, still having to show my face in public, I roasted some shrimp and blended up a spicy chimichurri, to distract from, or make up for, the abject state of my failed attempt at cake greatness.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Business Lunch For 25, in a flash


Chicken Salad On Croissant
with fuji apples, grapes, celery, toasted almonds, and tarragon

Roasted Turkey and Cranberry Sandwiches

Roasted Turkey Sandwiches

with Garlic-herb Aioli

Garden Salad With Grilled Chicken
with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Chocolate chip, and Double Chocolate chip Cookies

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The mirror has two faces. . .

[I thought I should take a moment to actually write something on my blog (how novel, right?), since my pictures are apparently beginning to offend people; both with their having replaced real words, and also (evidently) with their offensively child-like, amature quality.]

I wonder in this life how much of a face we are forced to put on, or make up, for the sake of others. Do we fudge our own authentic selves in the name of acceptance, for the sake of propriety? One can never be too sad, or bitter, or angry, or excited, or overly confident, or happy. After all, people do not typically enjoy being around very sad, or bitter, excited, confident, or happy people. This, of course, isn't to say that we all do this all of the time. But don't kid yourself, we all, undeniably, have our own share of insincere performances, whether we simply temper our real emotions or simply flat out lie.

Undoubtedly, in the world it is necessary to pretend in order to live in a civilized, social society. But to what degree? When someone asks if you like their new haircut, for example, your acceptable available answers are limited, regardless of what your actual feelings may be. When you create or produce something, on the other hand, there must always certainly be some degree of false modesty, as we can never be too proud in front of others. After an awful breakup, there is only an acceptable amount of bitter grieving time you are allocated, before eyes begin to roll, and slowly your phone calls begin to go unanswered. Clearly the lines are out there, clearly there are rules, but what are they and where?

Where does one draw these boundary lines? When can we justifiably expect the right to step off stage, slip behind the curtain, into our true authentic selves, without having to prioritize what others might think? Shouldn't we be able to expect that our family and friends be able to cope with the real us, however annoying, depressing, or sickeningly sweet? Or is that really expecting too much? Are there layers of intimacy required to condone such behavior? Are we all constantly walking the tight rope of tolerability? After all, how we each choose to walk that line inevitably defines us. Should you always be an honest person and say exactly what it is you feel (and be labeled caustic, or selfish, or a bitch), or be supportive (and become the perpetual cheerleader), should you be emotionally honest (read: depressing to be around), or try to perform all of the time (and be the shallow, fake, insincere, plastic person)?

Surely we have all known people who just suck the energy out of you, whose presence is at times trying, no matter how much you love them. Is it horrifying to think that we might all, at some point be that person for someone somewhere? Is it only natural? Or should we expect more, from others, and from ourselves? I'm not sure I have the answers. I know that I often find it exhausting to pretend. I feel like my whole life I have had to "be on" all of the time, to avoid being beaten, or laughed at, or shunned. Is all of this make believe simply a societal obligation? Our duty? Is it better to be alone and yourself, than surrounded by people who have no idea or interest in knowing who you really are?

I am certain there are some of you, and you know who you are, who began rolling your eyes three paragraphs ago (oh brother, here we go again. . .), and I get it, it's fine. But should I care? Should I scramble on board the you-you-you train and change my behaviors/ emotions/ writings/ thoughts/ opinions/ beliefs just for your benefit? Suck it up and be happy that you were able to tolerate me for one more day?

I am just so tired of this constant feeling of obligation, of things I have to do in order to be a good/acceptable/worthwhile person. But I feel like it is often inescapable. I'm not sure what my point is. . .I'm not sure that I was meant to have one.

I don't make the rules. I just play the game.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Vanilla Pound Cake

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Experiment : Chocolate Meringue Cookies

I had some superfluous egg whites on hand and thought to myself, "hmmmm...what can I make with these?" So I threw caution to the wind and whipped them up with sugar, cream of tartar, and melted chocolate, and baked them off. And just to go a little too far, which is what my whole life is about, I dipped them each in chocolate as well. If it's wrong, I don't want to be right.

Sunday, July 6, 2008