Wednesday, January 30, 2008

not fit for man nor beast

Dang, it is cold and windy today! My car doors were frozen shut this morning, and the K-Bear had to hide out in the basement (my screen door doesn't seal well, and when it's windy it makes an eerie oooh-oooh-oooh sound that he finds to be especially terrifying). The temperature was -7 today with the windchill. Yet, it looks deceptively sunny outside. It's trying to lure us out into the elements so it can freeze us to death. E-dawg said she nearly froze solid walking across the bridge to downtown this morning. Yow!

But, yesterday was pretty nice, huh? I mean, yeah, it was kinda rainy and stuff, but warm-ish (relatively speaking). Plus, I went over to my lady's house for dinner. Yum. PYT made some tofu panfried in butter and capers, some mashed potatoes with cheddar and scallions and some asparagus with lemon and butter. So deelish! It totally hit the spot. I wish I had the same thing Right Now for lunch. It's too darn cold to go out, and I didn't bring lunch because I had high hopes that Mags and I were gonna get lunch. I tried to talk Kramer into making a bike delivery of Java Fried Rice today, but no such luck.

Also, for the curious out there, here's PYT. Maybe you've seen her around? The cutest gal in town?
(I'm kinda smitten).

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

this blog and blogger officially approve of the four-day work week. let it be so.

I took a long weekend. Left work at 2pm on Friday, and didn't go back until 8:30 a.m. this morning. Now, that is what I call a weekend. That's as it should be. I think I would be really, really great at living a Life Of Leisure.

It was a good weekend. I did my cooking and delivery on Friday, and everything turned out really great--seriously, my best incarnation thus far of the burgers and carrot fries. Once I actually started cooking I stopped being Aunt Frantic, then it was just good times. It was to feed a band, Ember Swift-n-band, that came through for the Queer Songwriters Night. I got to hang out while they started eating, and I got lots of good feedback, which was super-fun. And, a request to deliver to Canada! Here are a few of them chowing down:

One of the recipes I used was Heidi's recipe for vegan caesar salad that she adapted from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero's new book Veganomicon. Oh. my. god. This dressing is one of the Best Things I've Ever Tasted. Make it! Eat it! Love it! I really want that cook book now, too. I've paged through Post Punk Kitchen quite a few times and Moskowitz's Vegan With a Vengeance, and their recipes are great.

After the drop-off I picked up PYT for our own dinner. We'd planned to hit one of my favorites, Abay, but then decided to check out the new Ethiopian place, Tana. There's been some difference of opinion amongst my group of peeps over the new place. I have to come down on the side of "eh". It was okay, not totally horrible, but not great. The food and service and selection at Abay are WAY better. It's odd that Tana would choose to locate their restaurant only a block from an already successful Ethiopian restaurant (and the only other one in town). Anyhow, I probably won't go back, but I do wish them luck.

Then we went back to catch the show at Modern Formations. Unfortunately, we missed Steffanny/Stephanie-Kaye (I really liked her when I saw her play last year), and we just got Tracy Drach's last song (you should see her "outta sight!" dance!), but we saw Ember Swift's whole set. I hadn't really heard them before, and was pleasantly surprised! Her guitar/bass/voilin player and songwriting partner Lyndell Montgomery was ah-mazing! She played her guitar with a bow, and then banged on the body with it for percussion. Wowza. And, the drummer, Liz, was also really incredible. Good stuff! [Next month Garrison Star will be performing. Check out the series' myspace here!]

Saturday was a lazy day of lunching and browsing and shopping around town with PYT, and then an early night home. Sunday we were invited to brunch with our pals Nat and Heather. Heather made her patently fantastic french toast with raspberries and blueberries and fresh whipped cream. She also made some Scotch eggs, but I didn't try them due to the copious amount of meat. (PYT wants me to investigate a veggie version of these; they did look really good). There were also fruity champagne cocktails, delicious coffee, fruit, fabulous cheese, and I made some cinnamon rolls.

I used a recipe that I'd been eyeing up from the November 2007 issue of Fine Cooking magazine. The article was titled "Cinnamon Buns in Less Than an Hour" by Kathy Kingsley. Right on! They use a biscuit dough to cut the time instead of a yeasted dough that has to rise several times. I was worried they'd be too dense--especially because I used mostly whole wheat flour, but they actually came out really nice and tasty. Next time I think I'll add some orange zest to the filling, and make the glaze orange (with reduced orange juice and orange zest in place of the milk and vanilla). Here's my adaptation of the original recipe (can't link the original because you have to subscribe to the site to get the recipe):

Fastest Cinnamon Buns
yields 12 buns.

3/4 c. cottage cheese (the original recipe specified 4% milkfat, but I used 2%)
1/3 c. fage 0% total greek yogurt (original recipe was buttermilk)
1/4 c. sugar
4 T. unsalted butter, melted
1 t. pure vanilla extract
2 c. flour (I used 3/4 c. of unbleached white flour and 1 1/4 c. whole wheat flour)
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. fine-grain sea salt
1/4 t. baking soda

1 T. unsalted butter, melted
2/3 c. packed light or dark brown sugar (I used half dark, half light)
1 1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground allspice
1/4 t. ground cloves
1 c. chopped pecans

2/3 c. powdered sugar
2-3 T. cold milk
1 t. pure vanilla extract

Heat oven to 400F. Grease the sides and bottom of a 9-10" round pan.

Make the dough: In a food processor, combine the cottage cheese, yogurt, sugar, melted butter and vanilla. Process until smooth, about 10 seconds. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda, and pulse in short bursts until the dough clumps together (don't overprocess!). The dough will be soft and moist.

Scrape the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it 4 or 5 times until smooth. With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 12x15" rectangle.

Make the filling: Brush the dough with the melted butter, leaving a 1/2" border unbuttered around the edges. In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and cloves. Sprinkle the mixture over the buttered area of the dough and pat gently into the surface. Sprinkle the nuts over the sugar mixture.

Starting at a long edge, roll up the dough jelly roll style. Pinch the seam to seal, and leave the ends open.

With a sharp knife, cut the roll into 12 equal pieces. Set the pieces, cut side up, in the prepared pan; they should fill the pan and touch slightly, but don't worry if there are small gaps.

Bake until golden brown and firm to the touch (20-28 minutes; mine took just 20). Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Run a spatula around the inside edge of the pan. Transfer the rolls to a serving plate (I did the ol' plate on top, and flip out onto another plate trick).

Make the glaze: In a small bowl, mix the powdered sugar, 2 T. milk and vanilla to make a smooth glaze. It should have a thick but pourable consistency, so add up to 1 T. more milk if necessary. Drizzle the glaze over the rolls. Let stand 15 minutes and serve. I also sprinkled on a little extra powdered sugar for cuteness sake.

Yum. And, the smell that fills your house while these are baking is positively heavenly!

So, anyway, back to brunch. I had to scoot out early so I could make it to the hypnosis session I'd scheduled for that afternoon. And, it actually ended up being the same guy that I'd looked up online. Leaving the session I had high hopes, and had no desire to smoke on the drive home (from Washington Co). But, then that night around 9:30-ish, I started wanting to smoke really, really badly. And, that happened a couple times yesterday, too. So, the jury is still out. I think it might have helped a little, but my cravings definitely aren't gone. But, he also suggested lots of water and vegetables, and I have been wanting both a lot. Here's the salad I made when I got home (and I've reprised this several times since):

It's baby spinach, some tofu that I drained/pressed, then sliced super-thin and pan-fried with a little toasted sesame oil and Bragg's, some of my leftover croutons from the delivery the other day, diced carrots, dried cranberries, toasted pine nuts, radish sprouts and a lot of freshly ground black pepper. (That just made my stomach growl).

Tonight PYT is making me dinner. Can't wait!

Friday, January 25, 2008

a big day!

It really is a big day for me. I am executing my first-ever paying personal chef gig. I've already learned a few things about timing prep, setting prices, etc. And, I think it's going to be a smashing and delicious success (keep your fingers crossed just in case though, k?).

Here's the menu (the blacked out portion is the client's info):

Like the logo? I'm pleased as punch. But, I am kind of a nervous wreck. My friend Schwatts has an Aunt Fran that gets a little out of control in the kitchen. Whenever she feels like that, she says that she's "Aunt Frannin' it". I'm totally Aunt Frannin' it today.

I'm delivering at 7pm, and then I will be a relieved and free lady, and will have a lovely and relaxing dinner at Abay with PYT, and then go check out the Queer Songwriters Night at Modern Formations. Good times. You should go--Ember Swift, Tracy Drach and Stefanny!

In other news, I just signed up for my 2008 CSA! I feel super excited to start imagining fresh, local, organic, delicious produce! I've done Kretschmann's for several years, but tried to get into Mildred's Daughters last year. They have a very small number of slots (and a portion of those are work-exchanges), so I wasn't able to get in last year, but just found out I got in this year! They are the only working farm within the city of Pittsburgh, women-owned and run, and they also do things a little differently. You actually go to the farm to pick up (fun!), and get to select your items, sorta farmers' market style. I cannot wait. I mean, I love Kretschmann's, but I'm excited to check out the 'daughters. E-dawg and I are going to split a share, and take turns making pick-ups. Hooray!

Other big news for this weekend is that I'm attending this workshop to be hypnotized to quit smoking and lose weight. I really, really hope it takes. Wish me luck!

Have a great weekend, pals!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

no, pancakes. really.

Okay, the Hurd was right (with regards to her comment yesterday). PYT was indeed referring to actual mac-n-cheese pancakes. She'd developed a fondness for them from visiting Shopsin's in her ol' stomping grounds of Brooklyn. Check out the menu! It's off the hook! Okay, so anyway, I did not make mac-n-cheese pancakes, but I did make the Alton Brown recipe for Next Day Mac-and-Cheese "Toast". They turned out pretty well, but I actually think the regular mac-n-cheese was better because it had more moisture/creaminess. But, still. Pretty yum.

I also made a salad with butter lettuce, chevre and roasted beets. I made a vinaigrette with some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, some dry mustard, a little honey, a couple cloves of garlic, some crushed red pepper flakes, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Whisked it all togheter, then tossed the beets in that, and roasted them, and also drizzled a little on the salad. I wanted to add avocado, too, but it wasn't ripe yet. And, wanted to add some toasted walnuts, but forgot (d'oh).

PYT made a bean dish with green and white beans sauteed with some garlic and butter (she said she normally puts buttered bread crumbs on top, but skipped it since the mac-n-cheese was all about breadcrumbs. It was SO good! This is my new favorite way to eat green beans. Dang. Deelish! It reminds me a little of a Heidi recipe (from Super Natural Cooking) for pan sauteed white beans called golden-crusted something...

All in all, a delicious dinner for a winter evening.
(look, in the picture below you can see PYT's toes!)

The boys anxiously awaited leftovers

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

follow-up to mac-n-cheese

Oh, dang. Doods. That *was* the best mac-n-cheese ever! I can't wait to see how the "pancakes" come out. Also, PYT is planning to make one of her own special dishes with green and white beans, and I can't wait to try it.

Unfortunately I forgot to bring some mac-n-cheese for lunch. I guess it's for the best since I'm going to have the "cakes" tonight, but still. I was just uploading the pictures, and it made my stomach start growling.



Of course, mac-n-cheese isn't the healthiest of dishes, but dang and dang. So good. It doesn't get much more comforty than that. Also, I don't know if you can really tell from the photo, but that is one of my new kitchen items. My mom got that ceramic baking dish (it's KitchenAid, and super heavy and awesome) for me for xmas. And, she got me a KitchenAid food processor. Heaven, pure heaven.




Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Is there anything better than mac-n-cheese? (hint: the answer is a resounding "NO!").

A few days ago PYT asked if it was possible to make "mac-n-cheese pancakes". And, while the idea of a mac-n-cheese and pancake hybrid was slightly alarming, I think what she actually meant was mac-n-cheese In The Form Of a patty type thing, In The Shape Of pan-fried goodness. So, I did a little searching on The Internets (you know, the series of tubes), and found a recipe for Alton Brown's Baked Macaroni and Cheese, and conveniently there was a linked recipe for Next Day Mac and Cheese "Toast".

Since PYT and I are planning to make dinner tomorrow, I decided to give these "pancakes" a whirl. So, right now I have mac-n-cheese in the oven. And, I think it is going to be ba-BOMB. For reals. I tried the pre-baked stuff, and it was already the Best Mac-n-Cheese Ever. So, tonight I get to eat some of the straight-up mac-and-cheese, and tomorrow I get to (hopefully) impress PYT with golden goodness.

So, here's my adaptation of Alton Brown's Baked Macaroni and Cheese:

Baked Macaroni and Cheese
serves 6-8

1/2 lb. elbow macaroni
3 T. butter
3 T. flour (I used whole wheat flour)
1 T. powdered mustard
3 c. milk
1/2 c. yellow onion, finely diced
1 bay leaf
1/2 t. paprika
1/4 t. cayenne
1 large egg
12 oz. shredded cheese (I used a mix of yellow and white cheddar, chevre & gruyere)
1 t. sea salt
freshly ground black pepper (I used LOTS of pepper)

3 T. butter
1 c. panko
3 T. finely chopped fresh parsley
1 T. grated meyer lemon zest (my nod to Heidi; she loves lemon zest)
lots of freshly ground black pepper
a pinch of sea salt

Preheat oven to 350.
In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, in a seperate pot, melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and mustard and keep it moving for about five minutes. Make sure it's free of lumps. Stir in the milk, onion, bay leaf, paprika and cayenne. Simmer for ten minutes and remove the bay leaf.
Temper in the egg (this means to mix a little of the hot milk mixture slowly into a beaten egg to bring it up to temperature so the eggs don't scramble, then mix it back into the milk mixture). Stir in 3/4 of the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Fold the macaroni into the mix and pour into a 2-qt casserole dish. Top with the remaining cheese.
Melt the butter in a saute pan and toss the bread crumbs, parsley and lemon zest to coat. Top the macaroni with the bread crumbs. Bake for 40-45 minutes (I like it really nice and browned on top, so I'm going tutn it up to broil for a few minutes at the end). Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

And, now it's almost ready to take out of the oven! I'll report back tomorrow with pictures.

Monday, January 21, 2008


Do you ever try to nap, but aren't able? I was cursed with that unfortunate phenomena this weekend.

I went out to a late show on Friday night to see The Gooch and The Harlan Twins at Club Cafe. Then had to wake up early for dog-sitting duty, and since I was going out late again on Saturday (so unlike me!) to shake my groove thing on the dance floor with PYT at Operation Sappho, I tried to nap. Yet, was unsuccessful. Even though I gave it three attempts. And, PYT also had a fruitless napping day, and then it seemed like everyone we talked to that night had had the same experience that day. What the bleep? My theory is that there was some type of energy disturbance that made napping impossible. And, then I had the same experience (well, I might have gotten about 20 minutes in, maybe) on Sunday! Dang!

So, today I'm feeling cranky about being at work--even more so because it's MLK Day, and most of my pals are off--gallivanting, I'm sure. The two-day weekend is just not even close to being sufficient. Grrr.

I will try to have an early night tonight, but it's Queers: They're What's For Dinner night, so we'll see. Even if I'm sleepy, I know the food will be tasty at the Gypsy Cafe.

(Have I ever mentioned that I'm a compulsive and chronic over-scheduler?)

But, anyway. I have my first-ever personal cheffing-style gig this week! I'm making a vegan dinner for one of the bands coming in for the Queer Songwriters Night on Friday. I think I will reprise (a vegan version of) the dinner that I made for PYT last week. It was tasty, healthy and cute--which are all important factors. And, I bartered with my pal E for some graphic design a few months ago, and I'm going to start paying her back soon with some cheffery. And, I'm hoping that will help me get back on track to cooking more again, and making healthy stuff (which is what she's requested).

But, right now? All I want is a nap. Maybe tomorrow...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

blue plate special

Last night I made dinner for PYT, and decided to go with a Blue Plate Special kind of theme, but vegetarian and fancy-fied (sometimes I like to call this "kara-fied" in homage to my peep Kara who is ba-bomb in the kitchen).

Anyhow, I made a burger, fries, vegetable of the day and pie. I kept the "fries" in the oven a little long to stay warm, though, and the potatoes got a little hard. But, still decent.

I made a version of Heidi's Sprouted Garbanzo Burgers, one of my (now) old standbys. I just made a couple of small changes. I didn't use the sprouted chickpeas, 'cause I didn't plan that far ahead (just used canned), swapped out fresh parsley for the sprouts/microgreens, added some sundried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, added a dab of dijon and used a tangerine salt (a la Eric Gower). For the fixin's, I used some sliced avocado, some roasted red peppers, some White Diamond cheddar, some sundried tomato "ketchup" and some remoulade sauce (a la Nowlzie).

For the fries, I again went with my gal Heidi, and used her recipe for Baked Carrot Oven Fries with chipotle-orange dipping sauce. I also used some baby Yukon gold potatoes, and sprinkled them with the tangerine salt and a little minced fresh rosemary, parsley and a couple of shallots.

For veg of the day, I went with some wilted spinach with garlic, crushed red pepper and toasted pinenuts. I love spinach. I could give Popeye a run for his money, for reals.

For dessert, I used this pie recipe. I ended up adding a couple extra tablespoons of butter to the crust because it was a little too crumbly, and added a little vanilla extract into the custard when I added the whiskey. It was tasty, but I think next time I'd add just a tad more sugar to the custard, and a tad of...some kind of spice to give a little more depth of flavor. Maybe some ground cloves? I'm not sure. Also, my bananas weren't totally ripe, so that cut down on the sweetness also. And, I think this would be good with some coconut in the custard, too. Has anyone made a custard with coconut milk? I wonder if you could replace some or all of the milk with coconut milk. I think that would add a nice flavor and a little sweetness.

Here's the din:

And, here's the pie:

All in all, a lovely evening!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

if i were a diva...

If I were a diva perhaps it would not feel as though my uterus is trying to claw it's way out. As it stands, I've got a uterache to beat the band. Dang.

I met The Gooch today at lunch for a little Scrabble action, and while we weren't able to finish the game, she had a good lead up on me. But, I'm blaming any Scrabble-related shortcoming on my persnickety uterus. Do you all have that thing where you start dropping things and losing focus and the like around the time of the Red Wave?

But, otherwise all is well. I'm meeting some oldie-but-goodie pals this evening for a potent potable and an assload of new tunes. Seriously. I used to work with these fellas, and we had a monthly "International Interoffice Mixed Tape Exchange". Except that it wasn't really international, and we didn't actually use tapes. But, still. It was a real.good.time, and I miss both them and the exchanges. I see them from time to time, but never often enough. I've made-but-not-kept a few plans lately with one of the guys, let's call him Alan (because that is his name). Every time I talk to him he has more mixes piling up for me. Tonight he said he's bringing 13. Yes, thirteen! Woot! And, the other young man, let's call him Bob, is planning on bringing me a couple Beirut goodies (the band I'm currently obsessed with, but own nothing by) and the Juno soundtrack. And, a small painting he did of me when I was dressed up as Divine for Halloween a couple years ago. I'm so excited I could pee.

Also, I have not smoked today (my yesterday's tally was four). I want one, but am doing okay because I found an old nicotine patch in my medicine cabinet. I'm going to get some more, but have to wait for a minute because while I normally am paid once per month, in January we're not paid for six weeks (because we're paid two weeks early in December because the office is closed for the holidays at the time they'd normally pay us). It is putting a hurtin' on me. Luckily, I have some dog-sitting gigs coming up. But, in the meantime, if you have some extra patches and/or gum and the like sitting around doing nothing, give me a holler. I will gladly use them.

Monday, January 14, 2008

work is no place for a diva on a monday

Okay, I'm no diva (since I gave up after a couple attempts), but it is almost diva-time, if you know what I'm saying, and I think that you do. And, this guy (i.e. me) is starting to get crompy. Also, I'm trying to decrease my cigarette intake (only one so far today), and that is also one of the ingredients in the recipe for crompiness. I found this guy on the internets, and it sounds like he can pretty much hypnotize you to do anything, or to NOT do anything, as the case may be. I'm waiting to hear back from his office about rates and such. Maybe it'll be covered by insurance, he'll have an opening for tomorrow, and he will cure all that ails me, and all my dreams will magically come true!

I'm--I mean, my uterus--is craving frozen yogurt. And, some searches on the internets and calls to various spots, I've found that the Mrs. Fields shop in the Ross Park Mall has a TCBY fro-yo machine. Which is unadvertised, and comprises approximately 10% of their business (I spoke to someone chatty). It's not exactly what I want, because I want some plain, super-tangy fro-yo, but this may be the best I'm going to get until I get a new ice cream machine or Pinkberry comes to the 'Burgh. I'm choosing to blame Luke Ravenstahl that Pinkberry isn't here. You may say it's not his fault, but I say, can you prove it beyond a reasonable doubt?

Friday, January 11, 2008

feeling great in 0h-8!

Thanks for your sweet and encouraging comments yesterday, peeps. You're right; I am in better shape (all around) than I was last year before starting HealthQuest 2007. And, I appreciate the feedback on what to focus on, too. So, I'm going to take your suggestions. I'm going to give up the coke-in-a-can again (oh, how I will miss you). I actually have a few in my fridge right now, so I will try to foist them off on visitors, and then cease buying new ones. Coincidentally I saw this little spot on the Today show this morning about all the calories in beverages that we often forget about. I was shocked, for instance, to learn that a Long Island Iced Tea contains 700 calories and 40g of sugar. Whoa! And, a Venti Starbucks Peppermint White Chocolate Latte has 660 calories and 22g of fat. I mean, neither of these are something I'd typically drink anyway, but whoa.

Also, will start the Chantix again to again quit the smoking. Eek. This one is especially hard because I actually like smoking. I know that's a dirty, dirty habit, and sentiment about said habit, but I do. I mean, I don't like the social pariah status that comes along with smoking, but I do enjoy the taking-a-break-from-it-all that comes along with it, and the satisfying lung blast. (I know it's horrible. But, still). I was talking to a friend last week who quit using hypnosis. I'd love to try that. If anyone knows of anyone that does this kind of hypnosis, hook a sister up with the info. Preferably one that doesn't cost One Million Dollars.

Another goal for this weekend to get my kitchen back in order. Right now the whole apartment is kind of outta control, but I feel it most in the kitchen. I gotta get it in shape, and reorganized so I can bust out some foodstuffs. I got a request for a vegan dinner for four next Friday, and have another friend that I bartered for some stuff in exchange for some personal cheffing, and I need to start making good on that exchange. It'll be good for me to have a commitment to cooking up some healthy goodness again.

Ah, okay. All is not lost. Just a bit off-track. (Thanks)

Have a good weekend, my pets and my peeps. Mwah!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

trying and failing

Okay, so it's January again. Last January I made the whole commitment to the HealthQuest 2007, lost 40 pounds, quit smoking, quit biting my fingernails, eliminated processed foods (for the most part), quit drinking Coke-in-a-can, started exercising, cleaned up my apartment, started getting my finances in order.

And, now? Well, some backsliding occurred on all fronts, friends. I've gained back 29 pounds (ouch, it hurts to type that), re-started smoking, my fingertips look like miniature bald-headed men, have been eating for shit and drinking Coke-in-a-can with abandon (damn the spicy and delicious dark waters of capitalism!), am a lazy ass, and have a cluttered apartment.

But, on the bright side, the finances are in slightly better shape and I have a new car. And, I'm a much better cook.

So, back to the drawing board. But, I'm thinking that maybe I should be a little more moderate in my approach instead of tackling everything at once. But, I'm having a hard time getting started. I obviously know what I need to do, so why aren't I doing it?

I think I'm mildly depressed right now, and when I think back to when everything started going to hell, I think it was around the same time as my awesome therapist split town for the wild, wild west.

So, step 1, find a new therapist that is hopefully 1/10th as awesome as my old one.

Blah. It's embarrassing to admit all this stuff, and I feel like a failure. Yuck. I hope you're all doing better than I am.

Okay, enough of that.

There's a movie coming to the Pittsburgh Filmmakers next week that sounds awesome and Pollan-esque. Here's the scoop:

King Corn
This is the entertaining, intelligent story of two friends, one acre of corn, and the subsidized crop that drives our fast-food nation. In this we-are-what-we-eat documentary we follow best friends from college on the east coast, as they move west to learn where food comes from. With the help of friendly neighbors, genetically modified seeds, and powerful herbicides, they plant and grow a bumper crop of America's most-productive, most-subsidized grain on one acre of Iowa soil. But when they try to follow their pile of corn into the food system, what they find raises troubling questions about how we eat, and how we farm. (Aaron Woolf; USA; 2007; 88 min)

All tickets for Thursday 5:30 shows at the Harris are just $5, thanks to 1410 KQV-AM.

Mon 1/14 thru Wed 1/16 – 7:30 ... Thu 1/17 –5:30, 7:30
Harris Theater
809 Liberty Ave, Downtown / 412-682-4111

And, speaking of Michael Pollan, his new book is out, In Defense of Food. I'm waiting with bated breath to get my copy from the library. [Oh, squee! Just checked the library site, and it's in! I'll pick it up tomorrow over lunch!]. Reading The Omnivore's Dilemma last year was a big part of motivating me to eat better; I'm hoping the new one will help me get back on track.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

java fried joy, part deux

It is another beautiful day in Pittsburgh, peeps! Pert-near 70 degrees! And, sunny! What the bleep!? Actually, I'm not going to question it. Just going to enjoy it, and soak up the Vitamin D while the gettin' is good.

And, Kramer evidently felt the same way today. She g-chatted me this morning to say that she was going to make a Spice Island (for that link you gotta click on the Spice Island Tea House thing, and then you can view the menu; they don't have their own site) bike-run today for lunch, and would be dropping an order by for me. Yes, I say, hells yes!

Completely counter to my usual modus operandi, I didn't order java fried rice, but instead ordered the fresh cut green beans with ginger (add tofu). At first bite I was not impressed, but I added a little soy sauce, and it's growing on me. Plus, it includes the most impressive serving of fresh ginger I've ever seen (a good 3 tablespoons!). I don't think any dish has a chance of taking the place in my heart reserved for java fried rice, but I will probably order this again--as a side to JFR (but will probably leave off the tofu since it's just some cut up pieces of silken tofu).

Here's a crappy quality pic of it from my cell phone camera:

But, better than that, are the pics of the actual delivery. Here is Kramer making her speedy delivery:

And, here is my reaction to receiving such a fabulous delivery on such a fantastic day:

It's a good day, friends.

And, it'll be a good evening, too, 'cause of I'm going to check out the k.j. (karaoke jockey) stylings of my pal Nicole. The Thunderbird has an (unofficial) dyke karaoke night on Tuesdays, and Nicole has long been a star of the venue. Now, she's taking that shit by storm! If'n you're in the 'Burgh, come check it out tonight, 9pm. Be there.

Monday, January 7, 2008


Have you Pittsburgh peeps been outside today? It's sunny! It's warm! Where the heck are we? I just heard it's supposed to be almost 70 degrees tomorrow! I wish work would dismiss us due to weather.

I hope you all had a lovely weekend! I did, indeed. A little chillaxin', a little qt with a Hurd, fun times with a lovely new acquaintance, brunch at Zenith, saw Juno (if you haven't seen it, do!), had the first Bushwicks practice with Mags in over a year. Good times, all.

[Incidentally, do not let a Hurd convince you that she doesn't like games. I mean, look how excited she is over Trivial Pursuit!]

So, so, much to catch up on since I was a slacker with the bloggin' over the holidays. But, a quick overview:

1. xmas was great. I went down to WV to see the fam, and (to steal a clever phrase from The Gooch) to recharge my accent*. Here's me and my beautiful and youthful mom:
And, to add another generation on, here's my freakin' adorable niece, her only self:

*Regarding the accent, it doesn't take long for me to re-pick it up. I heard myself telling my step-dad, when I meant that I was going to get out of the car to walk my dog, "Ahm jus gon waukeem real quick" which translates as "I'm just going to walk him real quick." Whoa.

Also, my step-dad adopted a baby deer (now named Dixie), and has fed her for the last few months. She's joined her own herd, but she stills comes about three times per day for treats (apples, corn chips, deer kibble) and for pets. It was so fun to pet a baby deer! I wish I'd gotten a picture, but every time she came up my camera was charging, or downstairs, or something.

2. New Years Eve was great. I was at Zeke's with the and the K-Bear, and we had a lovely time with some pals who stopped by to count down to the new year.
K-Bear loves hats:

I made a spread of snacks for the soiree. I had:
-veggie sushi (assisted by the E-dawg)
-curried potato-pea-spinach puffs
-mini artichoke-spinach-sundried tomato quiche
-mini wild mushroom tarts
-buffalo tofu dip (this actually didn't turn out so great)
-my mom's famous cheeseball
-a gorgeous cheese spread (by E-dawg, with pears, honey and blackberries)
-a delicious mocktail (also by E-dawg), the Bramble with a juniper berry/bay leaf syrup mixed with seltzer water, fresh tarragon, meyer lemon juice and blackberries (this was SO good!)
-mesquite chocolate chip cookies

And, a few peeps stayed over, and Heather actually brought all the fixins for breakfast the next day--fancy french toast with banana yum and raspberry compote. Yum!

Also, I realized that you know when you are old when at the end of the night on NYE you're not passed out and/or making out with a stranger, but instead you're doing a load of dishes and sorting recycling. I loved it.

2. My new ride! I'm loving it!

I'm so glad to be mobile again.

And, now that we're back up to speed...

Hurd and I tried to check out the new Ethiopian restaurant, Tana, on Saturday, but arrived just as they were closing for a few hours between lunch and dinner. Kramer and Mags had lunch there last week, and gave it two thumbs up, way up. I can't wait to try it.

Tonight is Classic Book Club. We read Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's by John Elder Robison (Augusten Burrough's older brother). Plus, there are always lots of delicious and surprising snacks.

Friday, January 4, 2008

be back later...gone slackin'

Happy new year, aught-8!

Sorry for the media black-out, dear friends. I have lots to say (I've been keeping a list of possible blog topics), but so little time. But, I miss you. Wait, no, not you, YOU. Yes, you.

I hope you all had a rockin' new year. I did, and I have pictures to prove it. I've cooked a little here and there, and hope to clean up my act (or at least my grody apartment) a little this weekend, and then there should be more cookin' soon.

Unfortunately, this is gonna be a short one, too. Unfortunately, I've been busy. But, fortunately....fortunately...I finally got my gawdang car last night! It didn't seem like it was ever going to happen, but I actually drove it last night. And, again this morning. And, it doesn't have an ashtray. Which is maybe a sign from the babyjesus that I need to keep my resolution from last year, and quit (again).

Actually, there are a lot of resolutions that were met, surpassed, and then revoked from last year. I started out so strong, and got a little lost (er, depressed) along the way, and backslid something fierce. I want to recommit. I'm scared, but I want to recommit. I've been thinking a lot about the whens and hows and such. I think I need to be a little more moderate than last year. It was fantastic, but ultimately not sustainable for me. And, then when I faltered, I just imploded. Maybe moderation would help. The only glitch is that I'm not a very moderate person. I like extremes. They're the fun part, right?

But, I'm gonna try. Baby steps.