Saturday, October 25, 2008

Beginnings And Ends

This weekend marks my last at the store! The end of an era indeed - almost three years. We celebrated with a farewell dinner across the street and a banana cream pie with a frownie face on it. It's been literally years since I had a free weekend so, allegory of the cave style, it's quite possible I'll be unable to handle the freedom.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

On the Town with The Petite Sophisticate

So, despite my usual mid-Victorian state of vaguely indifferent health, I have been valiantly O&A in the past few. For starters, a disastrous dinner with GK4, former fiance, which, despite the application to face, gullet of excellent pizza, predictably degenerated into recriminations (mine), fury (mine), cutting insults (mine), and self-pitying narcissism (his.) Slim was his usual even-keeled self. Also as usual, everything ended up fine. (A friend said to me the other day, 'Ran into GK4 the other day. He looked the way he always looks: pissed at modernity.') That evening was supposed to culminate in a Mad Hatter-themed birthday party but, despite the jaunty leghorn I was sporting, I got too tired and confined my evening's activities to sneaking into an open tenament with Slim and looking at the skyline/rats from the roof.

(Buckingham just brought me a delicious cocoa. I am sipping it. It is my last weekday as a Shopgirl which is very bittersweet. Unlike this sweet, sweet cocoa.)Various Slim updates: he is working as a part-time broker now and carries a dress shirt in his tool kit at all times. When he doesn't get carpentry work he hightails it down to Wall Street. He has also authorized me to fill the gaps in his wardrobe, which has resulted in a slight but perceptible sharpening of his look which, I fancy, doesn't amount to making over. I hope not, anyway. He's been doing lots of glamorous stuff lately with bands and after-parties which is as a rule the sort of thing I avoid and apparently his new ensembles (primarily some gently vintage plaid shirts and a pale blue cardigan, $cheap at this awful hipster trade emporium in Williamsburg) have been eliciting much admiration from all.

Pursuant of this, I was persuaded Sunday evening to go out to a highly exclusive underground spot in the West Village that affects speakeasy airs and has a hip-celeb clientele. As being found wanting by bouncers is absolutely my idea of hell, I initially demurred but I was assured that we'd get in as an acquaintance was the DJ. Anyway. I wore this purple silk disco-ish tunic dress with a thin gold belt that I got when it got damaged at the store. With this I sported high brown boots, my most imposing spectacles and, for just the right touch of dowdy je ne sais quoi, a large wool scarf I got at a stoop sale a few years ago after a keen crocheter passed away. I directed Slim to wear one of the new, slim, shirts with a knit tie. We did get in without too much trouble, as we were with a "party." The place was completely empty. I mean, we were literally the only ones there. Granted, it was only 11.30, but even so. We got a $20 champagne cocktail and settled into a couch. After a while various moddles and guys who looked like they might have been the minor members of bands we hadn't heard of showed up in outfits. Everyone sat around smoking in the 'upstairs' part. They played 60's French pop. We sat around for a while and smoked a cigarette just cause we could. Then we went to The Donut Pub which was altogether more our scene and budget.

Last night some girl friends and I went out to celebrate various minor triumphs over Barolo at a nearby wine bar that looks like a log cabin. On the subway home, Slim (who was in the area) got hijacked by a loose-looking creature in booties with whom he'd apparently attended high school, and later I got a migraine, but we ended the evening on a good note, looking up all the Law & Order episodes in which people we knew had appeared, including this bartender and someone from Slim's junior high.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I was listening to Radio 4, as I do most of the day, and the book program featured Michael Morpurgo, the former Children's Laureate, talking about his novel Alone on a Wide, Wide Sea. I've never read his work, but I am going to, because I was so very impressed with his uncondescending approach to the children in the audience. The excerpt he read, too, seemed to have achieved that really rare kind of clean prose that appeals to both children and adults. As an aspiring children's author, I was really inspired!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Cake Break

The tech is all fouled up at real work so we're all left twiddling our thumbs to smoke Capris and eat homemade spice cake with penuche frosting and read Betty Loring: Illustrator. (In fairness,I don't know that any of my colleagues are doing this.)

The spice cake in question is quite enormous and quite delectable and, this being the case, I have already wrapped up sizable chunks to give to Bonecrusher, Bonecrusher's parents, the landlord, and the guy at the deli respectively. I got the recipe from this book Birthday Cakes, by Kathryn Kleinman, which I bought because it's so beautiful. Since, though, I've made a number of recipes with success - the much-admired coconut cake I made for our birthday party, notably. I made this cake 13 x 9" but it would be beautiful layered. I also did a slightly different frosting as I like the texture of a confectioners' frosting better than a straight penuche glaze.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

If I Were A Rich Girl

As re: last night

We did indeed dine out.

We had:
lamb sausage/filet mignon de porc respectively
also wine

a cupcake but later


I am furiously angry. I have been now for about a day and it is not abating! I couldn't say why,, all my attempts to pick fights have been dismal failures. I'm known for bursts of quicksilver temper, but not this sort of sustained fury.

A long walk is obviously on the docket.

Monday, October 6, 2008

What Dreams May Come

Slim texted me that he'd "had pleasant dreams that bode well for our future."

Kewpie Doll Dance Only With Me

As I have now acquired a newish job (which I was hitherto reluctant to jinx by means of premature celebration) there is some talk of a celebratory meal tonight. Again, I don't wish to jinx it. But a nice steak would not go amiss, is all we're saying. Maybe at Azul Bistro. Or Le French Diner.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

On the Town with The Petite Sophisticate

Slim and I went to the Greenpoint Square Dance at the Lutheran Church last night, featuring the Clack Mountain String Band from Kentucky. It was equal parts eccentrics, children, hipsters, oldsters, cider and donuts. Obviously elements of this will be recreated at our Engagement Hoedown.

The caller had to take things kinda slow since nobody knew the calls, and then we just kind of went through single figures repeatedly (not complaining - it was hard) whereas I'm guessing people um, down south, or pre-1950 just know/knew all the calls and the caller can really mix it up. As it is, the older couple in our first set had a lot of trouble with the call, "Lady round the gent and the gent al-so/Lady round the lady and the gent don't go," persistently reversing the "lady" and "gent" positions. Our next set had a non English speaker who sort of screwed up the figure over and over. The kids - all of whom seemed very concerned with keeping the boy-girl partnering intact - were all pretty good. What we lacked in skill, Slim and I made up for (we thought) with zest.

Many people

some of them old wives, believe that a frigid shower strengthens the immunities and, not incidentally, firms the flesh. Indeed, French women "are said" to keep their busts pert by such means. For the past two days I have subjected myself to glacial blasts by the gritted teeth one-Mississippi method, and very unpleasant it is, too. Await reports as the barometer drops.

I arrived at the shop

to find Maeve sporting a towering fur hat. She looks highly eccentric.

She is working on some very promising crocheted jabots which I predict will be a sensation. I have already staked my claim for the "double-v."

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Thursday, October 2, 2008

You Know What's Weird?

Vice Presidential debates. Cause it's basically two people quoting other guys all night.

Know what else is weird? How people keep having 'debate parties' and then being let down when the debates aren't brawls and it's just people talking about economics and carbon emission caps.

End liveblog.

I am not normally one

...for cute overloading. BUT. I was so upset by the death of Rupert the Baby Deer that I had to share this.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Slim has an interview tomorrow, so whatever happens, I wanted to celebrate tonight with a good dinner. I'd been eager anyway to try the 3-hour roasted chicken from Chocolate and Zucchini anyway, so it seemed like a good excuse. I have a little Le Creuset pot that seemed to fit the bill (it calls for a covered earthenware casserole) but when I got to the market, they only had Perdue roasters! Half the time they only have Bell & Evans - frustrating when I wanted to make a cheap dish for a pot-luck! - so I was preditably furious. It kind of killed my enthusiasm for the meal (I'm also going to do an olive oil mashed potato, some sauteed green beans and lemon pots de creme) but I must say it smells pretty good. Now that it's cooled down, the herbs have pulled a bit of a Lazarus, so I was actually able to use a spring of Greenpoint-grown rosemary for once.

I don't read a lot of food blogs, but I like Chocolate and Zucchini. I don't often cook from it - we just have different taste sensibilities; mostly I like things too rich - but I love the warmth and charm of the author's writing and I do get a lot of ideas. And when you consider that English is her second language, well, it's even more impressive. Hers is also one of the few blog success stories I can really get behind (besides my own, of course!) since the kind of natural vitality she brings to her food writing is uncommon - despite the proliferation of food blogs - and it's great to see genuine talent rewarded.

When I think about it, I wouldn't say there's one single recipe source whom I consider infallible - according to my own tastes, I mean. Obviously Cook's ILlustrated is perfect according to their own standards, but when one's definition of perfection varies, you're SOL. Basically I'd follow them into battle on the 123s of savories, but more often than not we're just looking for different things in sweets. I find their brownie too cakey and their date-nut bread too dry and I'll be damned if I'll pre-sautee apples for a pie. I use Bittman for general reference like everyone but use it more as a jumping-off point, as he'd intend. Joy is kind of all over the place, obvs.

Amanda Hesser's and Ruth Reichl's recipes are both fantastic, but they're both a bit remote to be kitchen friends. Laurie Colwin's tone and general attitude are my all-time besties, but her sketchy recipes can be bizarre in the extreme and I must admit that the succotash I made from More Home Cooking was pretty inedible. I like a lot of Beat This especially sweets, but my tastes in savories are actually lighter - after all, Ann hates olive oil. Ina is reliable - I cooked everything from Barefoot Contess'as first book, laregly on the unassailable strength of her takeout shop before she was on TV - but as anyone knows, can be horribly rich and decadent. Her croque monsieur, for example, had a ton of gratuitous cheese in the bechamel and was almost inedible! I like Sarah Leak Chase, but there's a reason she co-wrote Silver Palate Good Times; look out for lashings of liqeurs and cream. Obviously I read Elizabeth David and Jane Grigson like any good cookbook reader, but I don't cook from them.

Lately I'm pretty hipped on Simon Hopkinson. We disagree about the composition of an onion tart, yes, but I've had great luck with his lustily described-salads and vegetable preparations and have discovered that I trust him implicitly.

I don't write about food a lot here, because it's boring, but if I can manage to take a few pics with Slim's camera, well, we'll be in business.