Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Good tip!

Just fyi, I got these pre-made croissants from Ceci-Cela for a brunch and they were a roaring success! They come shrink-wrapped six to a package; you proof them overnight, brush with egg wash and bake. I served them for a brunch and the aroma was incredible! Annoyingly, if you buy them online they cost twice what they do in-store, so it's probably only worthwhile for New Yorkers.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Problematic...And Yet So Very Awesome

Check out the others on YouTube, as well. Then tell me where she lives so we can go hang out with her.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Woke up to find Slim with the most awful Neal Cassady haircut. Seems a friend of his came around to do it about three a.m.
We just got wonderful housewarming gift from North Carolina friend of Slim's, who incidentally is descended from Tom Dooley. She'd written "it's very important that you get these things for the new house," and when I saw the gift - three little Mason jars of sorghum molasses, local honey, and stone-milled grits - I knew she and I would be kindred spirits.

Ugh, terrible migraine last night, so bad that I took Imitrex, which I normally try to avoid as it's so hard on the stomach. Obviously a small thing as hereditary medical problems go - my mom, her dad, his mother Grandma Viola etc. etc. - but always an irritation. The good thing is, it's such a relief to emerge from a migraine shaky but victorious and curl up with a 'comfort read' as my mom says. I dipped into a favorite book of mine, Castles in the Air by Judy Corbett. I ordered it on a whim from a British catalogue when I worked at a publishing house; I'm pretty sure you can't find it in the States. It's the story of a young British couple who buy a 16th century Welsh castle and painstakingly restore it on no budget, with pure passion and love for history. She's a book restorer, he's an architectural historian; both feel they belong in an earlier time. The book's funny, inspiring, touching, and really romantic. The scope of the achievement's remarkable, the story riveting, but as much as anything it's lovely to see a couple so perfectly matched. A small story, but a lovely one.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Bread-Stuy has the best Red Velvet Cake I have ever tasted. Yes, better than Cake Man Raven! I had thought that, since I've been working here pretty regularly, I'd better limit myself to one slice per week. But then when the lovely barista told me that she and her coworker split one slice per month, I was duly ashamed of my gluttony.

Speaking of gluttony, I made a very good dinner last night if I do say so myself: leeks vinaigrette, then pork braised with wine, prunes and cream served over noodles; pears roasted with butter and brown sugar. Good! We did a bit of a singalaong - Slim has been playing a lot since we moved - then he had to go out for a meeting with Adrien Moonlight so I had a cozy evening of reading. I'm rereading War and Peace since I skimmed a lot of the war first time around. Much better. Well, there was one brief freak-out when Slim couldn't find his belt and we were tearing the place apart and I sort of had an overload. But overall, much more my old self! I even agreed to go out to dinner with a bunch of fashion-y strangers, all of whom, women included were over six feet. They weren't terribly interested in hearing about the Depression-era films Slim and I had just seen at the Film Forum (even though one was by Capra starring Walter Huston! And the other had a young Spencer Tracy!) but it was quite all right. In general, less starkers by the day.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Give Him The Ooh La La!

A moment of roguish, eye-dancing silence, please, for Blossom Dearie and her gamine crop, girlish voice and distinctive, sly delivery. I was online for ages earlier trying to find a good YouTube clip of her cabaret act, but sadly there's just crummy montages shown over her vocals, so you may as well just go whole-hog and download some of her better numbers. I'm partial to her "Thou Swell," not being one of your fanatical "Schoolhouse Rock" fans. But she puts everything over with elan; there's something especially effective about her little-girl voice taking on Rogers and Hart's jaded lyrics. They say she died in her sleep; 82. What a way to go!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sanke Pits, Food Memoirs, etc.

The bad news: the Greenpoint landlord obviously stole my KitchenAid and a big Le Creuset pot from the apartment during the move. The worst part? He claims a "strange black man" was seen in the building and probably took them. ("The sad thing is, that might fly in Warsaw," said my dad.) When the police were invoked, however, he allowed as how the black man might have dropped them in the upstairs apartment, and he'd look into it.

Other bad news: our smoke alarm goes off at the slightest hint of steam.

And more: I have gone mad. I mean, curled in a ball, screaming, night terror, stark raving mad. (Not 24/7, obviously.) Thinking of checking myself into Silver Hill bin. I seem better today but it's hard to say what will set me off. Some meds adjusted so hopefully that's doing it. The KitchenAid really started it. I was told by a medical professional (and is it worrisome that he has an AOL address - or comforting?) to try to go out of the apartment, so I went with Slim to a Francis Starlite show, but then he had to go scalp some tickets (don't ask) and I was left alone and I had a freak out and unfortunately a friend of ours found me cowering on a couch with terror in my eyes. I enjoyed the show, though.

(Slim also got a ticket for turnstile-hopping last night; or, rather, going in with someone for $2, as his card had just expired and a train was pulling into the station. Then his cab driver wouldn't play music because it was against his religion, so he sang him the first 15 minutes of the Koran instead.)

The Good News (not Christ-related):
"Django Reinhardt/ Sweet Georgia Brown" results in a solid Pandora station.

-I no longer dislike anyone, I find. As of this weekend, there were three people I was firmly convinced I despised, but by chance I ran into all of them on an epic walk through Brooklyn and found them to be uniformly delightful and misunderstood. This may be the madness talking, but it is very relaxing.

-I just finished Judith Jones' The Tenth Muse: My Life in Food, which I read on Eloise's recommendation. I wanted to wait until I finished it to comment and am glad I did. Jones is a - well, legendary cookbook editor hardly does her justice. She discovered or edited Julia Child, Edna Lewis, Madhur Jaffrey, Claudia Roden, Marcella Hazan, Marion Cunningham - essentially the better part of the American food revolution. I was initially put off by a couple of things: first the way she blithely addressed her relationship with her husband, who was married when they met and became involved. This is curiously common in food memoirs - think M.F.K. Fisher, Ruth Reichl - and I do understand that a sybaritic love of food in that era was already unconventional enough that throwing off the shackles of other conventions is perhaps of a piece. What I didn't care for was the way she glossed over it, while still alluding to it - it's all treated like a great adventure, and it can't have been. I mean, she's not really a memoirist, so I get giving the personal short shrift - and no characters are really brought to life as well as the food - but if you're going to address something, address it!

Then too, their utter obsession with food was, ironically, somewhat off-putting. I understand that for a certain generation, such pursuits were genuinely revelatory and transgressive, even, and perhaps it brings too many 21st century prejudices to the table to associate it with the status-conscious aestheticism of contemporary foodies.

I grew to really like the book towards the end, after all her major adventures in publishing. Don't get me wrong, all that publishing history's interesting, and it's always amazing to read about the era in which a young editor was given so much scope and power and people took such risks - what a contrast from today's publishing! - but far more poignant was the section after Jones' husband dies, when she finds her love of food a major comfort and means of forging connections. She gives a whole series of recipes for cooking alone which I found not just instructive, but interesting inasmuch as they illuminated the mental flexibility necessary for living alone. Food memoirs are tough; I read them obsessively, but rarely find one that truly works; it's hard to make the food seem important enough that it doesn't trivialize the life being described - or vice versa!

Okay, a lot to do - I have agreed to have my closet/self photographed for some web piece on stylish folks or somesuch, which will obviously require much misleading re-styling of both closet and person.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I was sad to learn of the passing of Joe Ades, the motor-mouthed British pitchman extraordinaire who sold his "Swiss-made" vegetable peelers all over New York and could generally be found at the Union Square Greenmarket. He was a famous character, and a wonderful profile in Vanity Fair a few years ago revealed that he lived a champagne lifestyle of bespoke suits and visits to Kathleen Landis at the Carlyle; he lived in his 4th wife(!)'s Upper East Side apartment.

I posted a small item about this on the site and was touched by the response it got from New York readers. When I was at the Greenmarket yesterday, I saw an impromptu memorial had gone up in his usual spot...I wonder who started it?

By the by, our landlords keep the heat at 65 degrees (55 at night) to reduce our carbon footprint. 65 sounds warm, but doesn't seem to be, in actuality. Which is all very well, except that they're at work and I work from home. Currently, in a hat, long underwear (under clothes, that is) and two pair of socks! In principle I support it, and in fact prefer a cool house (having grown up wearing several sweaters in winter...and, at my grandparents' house, routinely sporting a down jacket around the house until the fog lifted) but it really is a little uncomfortable during this frigid snap we're having in New York. At least the snow is beautiful, the apartment coming together (with hiccups and an entire room of boxed books) and the kitchen sunny...I'm working right now from the estimable Bread Stuy in Stuy Heights, where they're baking a cake of some kind...

Monday, February 2, 2009


We are moved! No thanks to me: due to my flu and a recent bout of madness, all moving was handled by Slim and some guy straight from North Carolina, which maybe explains why he agreed to be paid off with Francis Starlite tickets and an economics lesson from Slim instead of money.

We're on the second floor of the brownstone. The landlords occupy the first floor and garden apt, although at present just the basement. So the front entrance is all ours and you enter right off the stairs. The place itself is off of a narrow hall (as is typical of buildings of this vintage): two large rooms connected by a little cupboard-lined "dressing room," a small study off of one of them, and then a kitchen at the end. It's sort of hard to explain: just think "railroad," but with a hall running parallel to the chain of rooms, so you can enter them individually.

We had a bit of debate about which room to make bedroom and which living room (they're both large with similar layout and fireplace.) I was for the front room; Slim said he felt that room had a creepy vibe. Since, at that moment, the sliding door between the two slammed shut of its own accord, I gave him his way! As regards ghostly activity, it feels very peaceful to me, but we did take the precaution of addressing anyone who might be there; just said hi and asked permission to move in. We felt a little silly, but better safe than sorry!

The neighborhood is pretty quiet; I've been given strict instructions about walking alone after dark, but last night we did venture out to a nearby Popeye's for dinner. I lost Slim along the way and found him buying bootleg videos from a toothless guy who later joined us at dinner and commandeered the bulk of the chicken. He also snatched my biscuit without asking. I heard a little boy go up to him and mutter reluctantly that his mother was making him switch his copy of "My Bloody Valentine" for "Bride Wars."

Ooh! A reader just sent me a book called "The Teashop Girls!"

As we don't have internet yet, I commuted to the office today. I visited the Dunkin Donuts, as is the commuter's prerogative, but was disappointed to find that the train's already full by the time it reaches my stop and everyone's traveling to the same spot I am: I had visions of sitting pretty when we rolled into Williamsburg and getting a bit of reading done while hipsters had to stand. Serves me right. The office is very nice, but as there are a lot of people who work here every day, there's a bit of a 'new kid in the cafeteria' feel to it, and sure enough, I took someone's seat! Mortifying!