Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Old and Fat

I feel old and fat and no amount of other people saying "Dude, you're not fat" or reminding me that I'm only 29 can quell it.

(Sidenote: Has this ever helped? Has the response ever been, "Whew! Thank goodness!" I'm not saying I AM fat; I'm saying I feel fat. I know it's in my brain and not my ass but I can't shake it -- the feeling, not my ass.)


I'm blaming the new year.

For some reason, the impending New Year (spellcheck says it should be capped, y'all) has me in a state of self-doubt I haven't seen since my birthday (*cough only 3 months ago cough*). I think this whole year leading up to my 30th birthday is just going to be one long string of anxiety over feeling like I'm aging but not growing up.

Not that this is even outside the norm these days. One of my very favorite websites is written by a group of ladies who appear to always be barraged by others deeming them immature, irresponsible, etc. Which is probably why I love it all so much. Then there's "Young Adult," with Charlize repping for all the lady-girls out there.

But back to me. (FOCUS.)

When I hit 29, I was like "This is it, homes. Last year of your 20's. You better look hot while you can because it's all downhill from here." I can practically feel my metabolism slowing down as I type these words. I've begun to notice a permanent crinkle in my face that isn't related to speaking or smiling (them lines ain't going NOWHERE) or raising my eyebrows in surprise/disdain; it is an inner eyebrow crinkle that is distinctly from excessive squinting and brow-furrowing, much of which I blame on the years I spent avoiding wearing my glasses. Now I'm stuck between my deeply-ingrained lazy ways and my desire to retain my youthful (?) good looks (??) -- I'll obsess much of the day over whether or not to start using a night cream, eye cream, serum (I don't know what serums do, WHAT ARE THEY?), but by the time I'm zonked enough to crash, I'll usually fall asleep with a full face of makeup as per usual.

By the way, I feel like the people who market those face creams are FULLY aware of this kind of paranoid insecurity and how much sway it hold over us when they come up with the pricing. I'm super-cheap and still youngish, so when I look at these creams, I think "Yes, I'm concerned about this, but I'm not $40-a-jar concerned yet." I'm pretty much under-$20-concerned right now. I'm also embarrassed to purchase these items, mostly because I don't want anyone to comment on my selection. I would rather buy a pile of scandalous underwear, tampons, lube, and condoms than walk up to a register with a jar of something marked "anti-aging."

And as for exercise, I really haven't found something that falls in with my Midwestern frugality (read: brutal cheapness), my inability to stick to a routine, and the aforementioned lazy ways. I tried taking a morning walk around my neighborhood, but after a while I got SO BORED with my stupid neighborhood! So I stopped. I've tried workout DVDs which was OK until a) my stupid, newly-motivated boyfriend started getting up earlier too and puttering around while I follow instructions from the television like an asshole (I should mention at this point that I REALLY HATE having other people watch me exercise, mostly because I'm sure it's hilarious) and b) I got SO BORED with the DVDs. I have one of those trainer-things for my bike, (which looks a bit funny, since it's a cruiser with a basket), so I can bike in my living room -- biking while reading was actually working really well for me, until I started having to spend my early morning time waking up to work on other stuff. (Hey, holidays? Let's get this shit over with already.)

Today I keep seeing mentions of pilates. Pilates? Is that something I want? I don't know. I have a pilates DVD I used for a while, and the best thing I learned from it is that pilates was created by a guy named Joseph Pilates. THERE WAS A JOE PILATES. As in "Who do you think you are, Joe Pilates or something?" That doesn't even really work as a burn because Joe Pilates was a real person. Not to mention the fact that the name Joe Pilates sounds like it belongs to a dude who runs a pizza shop in Queens.

If anyone reads this and has actual suggestions as to what might work for my cheap, lazy, self-conscious, easily-bored self in terms of exercise, tell me.

Enough of this for now...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Things I'm embarrassed to do:

- Enjoy Evian Facial Spray. God, I thought this was stupid when I first saw it. I even got one free in a swag bag that went untouched for eons until I gave it a go. Then I realized how delightful it felt to your skin, when you live in a semi-desert-like climate, to mist your face with tiny droplets of water. Not even just when you're hot. I sit in front of a computer for 8+ hours a day and have found myself sneaking off to the bathroom with my spray hidden to give my face a quick hit of moisture. I can't help feeling like a socialite who just got off an airplane or something when I use it, which makes me feel both ashamed and well-hydrated.

- Try on a pencil skirt at J. Crew. Why? Because the super-fashionable dudes who work there observe and hover around customers (because they're doing their job), and I have a pretty good idea that if I go in there and try one on, it's NOT going to look good on me. Mostly because I'm paranoid, but also because they don't carry petite sizes in-store. So if I try one on, it's going to be too long. And I won't even get a good idea of what actual size I'll need, because the petite sizes are smaller everywhere, not just shorter. SIGH. And so, to spare myself the indignity of looking short and dumpy in a pencil skirt in front of the cool J. Crew employees, I'm just gonna order the petite sucker online.

- Same goes for any vaguely scandalous underwear.

- Take fish oil supplements, not for hearth health, but because I want my skin to be pretty. I'm so vain, I probably think this blog is about me. Which brings me to...

- Be mildly panicking about turning a mere 29. I've started looking at more intensive moisturizers and face care regimens. Luckily, every time I do, my frugality trumps my vanity when I see the prices. YES, I would love a vat of Dr. Perricone's Super Omega face junk. HELL TO THE NO am I paying that much for it. That's why I was super stoked to see some face oils being sold by a DIY blogger I admire for a reasonable price. So I can support her doing work I enjoy and stoke my vanity/self-loathing at the same time.

Enough honesty for today.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mildly obsessed with DIY nail art

Here's my attempt at a gradient...

In case you're wondering, I painted on the green first, let it dry, then dabbed on the black polish with a makeup sponge (not one of the shiny sides of the sponge, or else chunks may stick to your nail -- my left thumb is a testament to this). Then top coat. BOOM.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

This one's for Foodbully!

Alright, after acquiring a killer-sounding chocolate-chip biscotti from a Twitter acquaintance, I mentioned how I was reminded of a really good sounding recipe I stumbled across about 5 years ago in a cookbook an old roommate gave me. She requested said recipe, and so here it is.

I have de-Britished the recipe somewhat, as it was full of terms like "caster sugar," "corn flour," and "scant." (OK, I left in "scant," because I couldn't think of a better word to use and I so seldom get the chance to say/write/type "scant.")

Pecan Toffee Shortbread
from The Cookie and Biscuit Bible

Makes 20

1 tbsp. ground coffee
1 tbsp. near-boiling water
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 tbsp. smooth peanut butter
scant 1/2 cup superfine sugar
2/3 cup cornstarch
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour

For the topping:
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup soft light brown sugar
2 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 cup shelled pecans, halved

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line a 7 x 11" pan with waxed paper.

Put the ground coffee in a small heatproof bowl and pour the hot water over it. Leave to steep for 4 minutes. Strain through a sieve into a bowl. Discard the grounds.

Cream the butter, peanut butter, and coffee until light. Sift the cornstarch and flour together and mix in to make a smooth dough.

Press into the base of the baking pan and prick all over with a fork. Bake for 20 minutes. To make the topping, put the butter, sugar, and syrup in a pan and heat until melted. Bring the mixture to a boil.

Simmer for 5 minutes, then stir in the pecans. Spread the topping evenly over the base. Leave in the pan until cold, then cut into squares or bars. Remove from the pan and serve.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Nail fail.

After attempting a few other nail art projects (and wiping them off immediately thereafter since they looked like hell), I simplified and went with this...

Matt said it looks like a bunch of ellipses.

Having free time tonight, I think I'm gonna apply my ellipsified digits to my neglected ukulele.

(If I write that here, maybe I'll actually do it instead of getting sucked into So You Think You Can Dance.)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Doctor is In

Some of the recipes I get asked for most often are my cold-busting tea and soup. Both rely heavily on garlic. I'm not sure of the exact scientific reasons behind WHY garlic has the magic touch, but I've heard many accounts of antibacterial and antiviral properties.

The tea was recommended to me by an elderly Chinese lady (who I used to work with at a mortgage company, just to remove any air of mystery or worldliness that might surround that statement). Over the years, I've learned to listen to pretty much whatever old ladies tell me, because the advice is generally fairly good.

For the tea, the concoction is pretty simple:

1. Smash a clove of garlic with the side of a big knife; discard the skin.

2. Pop the garlic clove into a mug of hot water OR pop the garlic clove into a mug of non-hot water and microwave it for 1 - 1.5 minutes. Let it sit for at least 5 minutes.

3. If you don't have time to let it come to a reasonable temperature, pop an ice cube into the concoction and stir until it dissolves. Or you can just let it cool off on its own.

4. Discard the garlic clove. If you like, add some honey or a squeeze of lemon and stir. If not, don't.

5. Drink it all as quickly as you can.

6. Brush your teeth. (Or at least pop a mint.)

Repeat up to 4 times a day, like you might with Airborne or Emergen-C. Way cheaper than either of those options.

And then there's the mid-day, "I just came home sick from work" Lunchtime Method...

Heat up a pot of chicken or miso broth and load it up with LOTS of sliced garlic. If this is all you have, you can stop there, but I will generally chop and throw in any veggies or noodles/rice I have on hand. (Carrots are particularly good. Let those cook a good long time until they're soft. And at the last second, a handful of spinach leaves is also a good touch; cook just until they're wilted.)

Serve up a cup, add in a healthy squeeze of sriracha hot sauce (as much as you can handle) and mix it in until your soup is a nice shade of orange.

Have a big glass of water, a glass of orange juice, and a box of tissues nearby. Eat the soup, utilizing as much of the water, OJ, and tissues as needed. (That soup should make your nose run like crazy.)

Once the soup is gone, take a nap. You should feel a good deal better when you wake up.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Damn you, meat pies!

I adore meat pies. Yes, sweet pies are great, but I could eat a savory pie every day for the rest of my life and never come close to getting sick of it.

This is the last remaining meat pie from the batch I made this weekend. It's not the prettiest of the batch -- it's merely the last pie standing.

"Dana, why didn't you take a nicer picture of one of the better-looking pies right after you made them?"

I have several answers to this question...

1. I had company.
2. I was in the middle of a Harry Potter Movie Marathon.
3. I was terribly hungry.
4. I forgot.

I could continue, but those are the only reasons that really count.

The recipe was Frankensteined from this wildly wonderful meat pie recipe, plus my taste buds, my laziness, and a bit of influence from the tastes and dietary restrictions of my guests.

The Amazing Disappearing Mini Meat Pies

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup cold butter
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp cold water
2 eggs
1 tsp white vinegar

1 smallish potato
1/2 onion, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 lb lean ground beef
Olive oil
Sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 sprigs fresh thyme
3 tbsp. tomato paste
1 cup beef broth
1 tbsp. miso paste
Handful of grated parmigiano-reggiano

Mix the flour and salt in the large bowl. Cut the butter into small chunks, and cut the chunks into the flour mixture until it becomes crumbly. (I use a KitchenAid mixer and it does beautifully.) Beat 1 egg with the vinegar and water in a separate bowl or glass. Add the egg mixture to the dough and beat until mixture form a ball. Wrap in plastic and put in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Cook potato in microwave and set aside. Place onion and celery into a large frying pan on a medium heat with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Pick the rosemary and thyme leaves off the woody stalks, finely chop them, and add to the pan. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. Fry and stir for 10 minutes. Put the vegetable mixture into a large bowl.

Place garlic into a large frying pan on a high heat with 1 tbsp of olive oil. Fry and stir for a few minutes, add the ground beef, a pinch of salt and pepper. When the ground beef becomes brown, add the tomato paste, beef broth and miso paste. Lower the heat, simmer for 15 minutes until most of the liquid has reduced. Turn the stove off. Mix in grated Parmesan until it disappears. Add the vegetable mixture into the beef mixture and mix well. Scoop out potato flesh, and mix into filling, roughly mashing the potato bits but allowing some chunks to remain. Allow to cool; add salt and pepper to taste if needed.

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Roll out dough thinly and cut into rounds about 4 inches in diameter (working in batches as needed). Have a small glass of water handy and beat remaining egg in another glass or bowl. Using your hands, form meat into small puck-type shapes about an inch smaller in diameter than your dough rounds. Lay a puck on a round of dough, dip your finger in the water and wet the edge of the dough, then place another circle of dough on top. Pinch and seal the edges. Lay mini pie on a greased baking sheet and repeat with the rest of the pies. (You might have leftover filling, which is OK because it tastes great alone.) Brush the tops of the pie with beaten egg, slit the tops of the pies to vent, and pop em in the oven. Bake until golden, about 25 - 30 minutes (depending on whether your oven sucks like mine).

Makes 10 mini pies.

Monday, July 18, 2011

You know you're a dork when...

... instead of ordering a pizza during your Harry Potter movie marathon, you make this.

Yup. It's Harry Pott-za.

(I'm almost ashamed of myself. But I'm not, because it tasted awesome.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I'd say it's a good step forward when after exercising, you have the will to do something other than eat a very cold dinner and sit on the couch for 4 hours afterwards.

A while back, I began an on again/off again thing with Cardio Barre.

During the first class I nearly passed out because I wasn't breathing right, I felt like Jell-O afterward, the music was awful, and the instructor kept using the word "booty" and talking about bikini season. If you had asked me at 8:30 that night, while I was eating sushi on my couch, watching Glee, I would have told you that there was no way in HELL I was going back.

But then the crappy feeling subsided and I realized that a) not going back would be defeatist and quitter-esque since b) I had paid for 10 classes. (On LivingSocial, but whatever, I still had 9 more.)

The next class went better, only I had eaten a garlicky turkey burger 3 hours before class and ended up with CRAZY garlic burps after class. I had a smoothie afterward and sat on the couch, watching the Glee finale.

The next class was even better, except I had eaten a hard-boiled egg 2 hours before class and ended up with psycho burps afterwards and, thanks to the burping and excess water in my stomach that I slugged back mid-workout, had a near-vurp situation in my car. I had a smoothie, went home, and thought about how much I was gonna miss Glee. (Not that much.)

Tonight, after a couple weeks off for various reasons (I don't have to explain them to you!), I went back. I was scared that I'd regress to my fainting, vurping ways, so I didn't snack for 3 hours before class and breathed like my life depended on it (which, you know, it did). I was fine. And to my surprise, I didn't feel like I was going to die if I didn't get food in me ASAP, so I went home and made myself a lovely dinner of pasta, fresh peas, and arugula in a yogurt-blue cheese sauce with anchovy bits.

"Where was I?"
"You were growing."

BTW, I haven't heard that instructor use the words "booty" or "bikini season" since. And tonight's music was a lovely Michael & Janet Jackson mix.

I guess those kids in elementary school were right: First really IS the worst.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Subjective adulthood

A real adult would probably not attempt to drink a whole bottle of wine with a sore throat.

But I never said I was a real adult.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Quiche me, you fool!

I decided that I wanted to make a quiche. Why? Not sure. I wanted something that I could eat all week long without getting sick of it, I wanted something vaguely substantial when paired with some additional veggies, and I wanted something that required a pie crust because MAN, was I dying to make me some crust!

Quiche was a natural fit. I also had some veggies from the farmer's market I had picked up on Saturday morning and leftover goat cheese from my pizza escapades last week.

After re-watching "Easy A" on Sunday afternoon, I was fully inspired...

Spell-It-With-Your-Peas Quiche

I tried to spell "twat" on this quiche but it didn't work. Stupid peas...


For the crust...

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 pinch additional salt
1 stick cold salted butter, cut into chunks
1 egg

Mix up the flours and salt; I do all my crusts in my beloved KitchenAid mixer. (It's my fanciest kitchen appliance, and so I use it as often as possible.) Add in your cold chunks of butter (how appealing is THAT?) and let that mix up until the flour just looks kind of chunky and crumbly. Crack an egg into a glass or bowl, add in 2 tbsp. cold water, beat 'em up, and pour into the mixer bowl while the mixer is running. Once it comes together like dough, form it into a flat-thick disc, wrap it in plastic wrap, and pop it in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Hey! 30 minutes have gone by! Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Once it's nice and chilly, roll it into a large circle big enough to fit a 9" pie pan (I go glass). Lay the dough in the pan (transporting the dough loosely rolled onto your rolling pin is a nice way to make sure it doesn't tear or crumple on you) and press to form your shell. Let it cool (in the fridge if necessary; I put mine on a windowsill like a cartoon character) while you make the filling.

For the rest...

1 cup fresh peas (or thawed from frozen peas)
2 cloves garlic (or 1 monster clove if you have mutant garlic like I had), finely chopped
1 medium-sized summer squash, sliced into thin semi-circles
2 cups arugula, roughly chopped
olive oil
4 eggs
1/2 cup 2% milk
1/4 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
salt and pepper at will
crumbled goat cheese (herbed, if you like)

If you have fresh peas, boil them until tender. (Mine took a long time, but I hear most take more like 4 minutes.) Drain, rinse, and set aside. (Make sure they get nice and dry; I didn't. Mistake.)

Add bit of olive oil to a large saute pan over medium heat. Once warm, add the garlic and cook until it starts to soften. Add squash and cook until THAT starts to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the arugula to pan, and toss until it wilts, about 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside to cool slightly.

In a medium bowl or large measuring cup. beat eggs, milk, yogurt, salt, and pepper until smooth. Add to the bowl of vegetables, and mix until it's as evenly mixed as it's going to get. Pour into the cooled crust.

Crumble however much goat cheese strikes your fancy on top. (My boyfriend isn't nuts about cheese, so I only used a bit; I've seen other recipes that call for a whole log. Whatever.) Lay peas in an even layer on top of everything.

Bake 40 minutes, until egg filling is set. Allow to cool slightly, about 5 - 10 minutes, then slice it up! Good hot, cold, at room temperature...

And I tell you now, a slice of this for lunch during the week will REALLY improve your at-work morale.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Hello Giggles = My New Obsession. Also, I am a nail artist.

I'm kind of hooked on Hello Giggles. If you haven't heard of it yet, it's the new cute girl-collective site launched by Zooey Deschanel and her homies, now being contributed to by many rad girls. (Note to self: I need to write for that website.)

Anyhow, I stumbled across this page, which had a tutorial on how to make your nails look all cool and cheetah-print-y but without the indignity of buying decals for your nails or paying some chick to meticulously detail your tips.

So I had to do it. And so I did.

"Dana, show us your tips!" OK, I will.

Do you see that?! It looks exactly like the tutorial. I am a goddamn nail artist and I never knew it.

I wonder if Hello Giggles could use a segment focusing a little too intensely on pizza...

Friday, June 3, 2011

I may have a problem...

This is the third pizza I've made this week.

I've discovered how easy making pizza crust is and I'm never going back. I'm sure as hell never buying Trader Joe's pre-made dough again. I'm keeping packets of regular yeast and quickie pizza crust yeast around all time. Because while the regular yeast makes vastly superior dough than the 30-minute pizza yeast, if it's between cooking up a frozen pizza and whipping up a fresh but speedy pizza, I'll take the second every time. And it makes one heck of a way to use up random scrap leftovers.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pizza. Paltrow. Discuss.

I have mixed feelings towards Gywneth Paltrow. She seems cool, but she gets on my nerves. I could go into more detail, but I won't right now. When she came out with a cookbook a few months back, I was mighty skeptical (and wildly jealous). But she has been hanging with plenty o' notable chefs, most prominently Mario Batali, who knows a thing or two about pizza. So when she posted a pizza-centered email out to her GOOP mailing list (that's right -- I subscribe to GOOP), I had to give it a whirl. So for Memorial Day, I made pizza.

Below, I have posted Ms. Paltrow's recipe, along with the amendments I made in red within...

(For reference, here is the original recipe I started with before tweaking it.)

[begin Paltrow]

To make the pizza, I adapted Gwyneth Paltrow's recipe from My Father's Daughter:
If you have a wood fire, I kind of hate you. If not, preheat a pizza stone in your oven at the highest heat the oven can go to for at least an hour before eating. (If you don't have a pizza stone, just hold your horses -- I'll have you covered too. Just preheat the oven to 500 degrees about 1/2 hour before you're ready to cook that pizza.)
First, I round up my Pizza Dough Ingredients:

(I shrunk down the recipe from Gwyn's ginormous one; it made 3 times as much dough)
  • 3/4 cups warm water (divided)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • About 1 2/3 cups of flour plus more for kneading and dusting. I used bread flour but you can also use Italian "00" flour if you are Gwyneth Paltrow.
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
For the dough, whisk together 1/4 cup of the water, the yeast, and the sugar in a large bowl and let stand until the surface has a few little bubbles and is creamy (about 10 minutes).

Add 1/2 cups water, 1 1/4 cups flour, olive oil and salt and stir until smooth. While stirring, gradually add up to another 1/4 cup of flour until the dough starts to pull itself from the edges of the bowl.

Knead the dough on a generously floured surface until it's elastic and smooth—it will take about 8 minutes of lovely fun kneading time. Dust the surface with flour as you go—you don’t want the dough to stick. Work extra flour into the dough as you go if the stuff is still kind of sticky -- I probably added another 1/4 cup a few large pinches at a time.

Form the kneaded dough into a ball, dust with flour, and gently place in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a tea-towel. Let it rise in a warm spot until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. You can let it sit for up to a couple of hours or even overnight in the refrigerator.

For the sauce you'll need:

  • 2 tablespoons (or so) extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium-sized carrots, peeled and finely diced
  • 1/2 large onion, peeled and finely diced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped (Gwyn's recipe had no garlic -- WTF, girl?)
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes with their juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the carrot, onion, and garlic and cook, stirring now and then, until softened but not mushy, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juice and the salt. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low and let the sauce simmer for 40 minutes; use your sauce-stirring utensil to break up the big tomato pieces a bit while the stuff cooks. Carefully puree in a blender until very smooth. Let it cool before saucing your pizzas. (Or don't, but know that if you top your dough with warm sauce, you risk making the top of the dough a tad mushy and spreading it with the back of the spoon is mildly perilous. Not that this happened to me. {Fine, it did.} But at least let it cool down from lava temps.) This can be made up to a week ahead. (Like I plan a week ahead...)

Here’s my pizza kit ready to get going

  • Pizza sauce
  • Mozzarella (I used the pre-sliced stuff that comes in a log at Trader Joe's)
  • There are squash blossoms in season so I tore them over a few of the pizzas
  • Totally adequate olive oil
  • Herbed goat cheese
  • Giant basil leaves (from my own garden/single potted plant)
  • White truffle oil (a little goes a long way)

To assemble pizzas, stretch dough with your fingers until quite thin. You can also roll your dough out using a rolling pin. (I didn't.)

Now top your pizza. I start with pizza sauce. Be sure not to put too much sauce on (this will weigh it down) and don’t go too close to the edge as this will make it hard to slide your peel under the pizza.

(You may notice at this point that I'm assembling my pizza on the underside of a baking sheet with a lip, dusted with semolina flour. My plan was to attempt to use this as a pizza peel alternative and scoot it onto my heated pizza stone. This did not work as the pizza would not scoot and my pizza stone was acting up anyway after what I can only imagine was a lot of improper non-pizza-cooking usage -- bad Dana -- so I just cooked the pizza on the upside-down cookie sheet, which incidentally worked fine. So now you know.)

And now for the toppings... Sprinkle each pizza with the toppings of your choice and then stick them in the oven.

If your oven is nice and hot, the pizza should be perfectly cooked and crisp in two minutes. (Or if you're using a normal, non-wood-burning oven like the rest of us plebes, it'll take about 10 minutes or so.)

[end Paltrow]

In all honesty, the pizza was magnificent. The phrase "I miss the pizza" was uttered by Matt and I each about 12 times after it was gone. I'm kind of obsessed with that sauce too -- it's a great base and I'll be putting it on damn near everything.

And just so you know, I'm making another pizza tonight.


Made another pizza using 1/2 cup whole wheat flour in place of a 1/2 cup of the bread flour and topped it off with some wilted spinach. Delicious.

Monday, May 30, 2011


Ever since I was a kid, I've had a weird obsession with Paris.

Seriously, far before I had any right or reason to.

As an obnoxiously well-traveled child of 5 living in the suburbs of Amsterdam with my ex-pat family, I don't even know where I first heard of Paris or why I decided I wanted to go there. I'm sure it had something to do with pictures of the Eiffel Tower -- no buildings I knew looked like that, and I sure as heck wanted to see one that did.

So when my parents announced that we were going on a trip around Europe with my grandparents and uncles (and their now ex-wives and ex-girlfriends), my only childlike request was that I wanted to go to Paris. No, the adults said. We'd be driving through France but not stopping and not going to Paris.

"But (I imagine I incredulously continued) why would you NOT stop in Paris if we're going to be in France anyway?"

There was no time, I was told. It was France or Spain, and all the grown-ups wanted to hang out in Spain, so Spain it was. France was to be a mere throughway from our stop in Brussels (where we had distant, distant, distant relatives... three times removed) on the drive to Madrid. I have a distinct memory of being in the van we rented as we passed by the outskirts of the city and seeing the Tour Eiffel far off in the distance. I think I remember this -- it very well may be some formulated faux-memory that my brain has accepted as truth. But real or not, I remember seeing the tower silhouetted in the distance and thinking that one day I was going to go there and noting how close it was and wondering how long it would REALLY take to swing over by there and WHY CAN'T WE JUST STOP IN PARIS???

I was one bitter five-year old.

The funny ending to all of this is that we ended up having a kind of crummy time in Spain -- my dad got his wallet stolen, the adults were fighting a bunch, and then it turned out that my dad thought my grandma wanted to go to Spain and my grandma assumed it was him who wanted to go to Spain when in actuality, no one gave a wet blue fuck about visiting Spain.

(Extra dose of irony: These days when I tell friends of mine that I'm planning a trip to Europe, where do they all tell me I simply MUST go? Fucking Spain.)

Why am I thinking about this? Well, in addition to my impending vacation plans, I just went to see Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris," which is a glowing, gushing love letter to the City of Lights in a way that I suspect only a Francophile will truly get. The opening montage of Parisian streets, from Montmartre to the Champs-Elysees to the Louvre to a series of gorgeous shots of the bridges over the Seine is either just shots of locations around Paris or a swoon-worthy sequence that sets you longing to stroll the cobblestone rues et avenues.

Without giving too much away, the focus of the movie is something called "Golden Age thinking," which basically means longing for an idealized time before your own. For Woody Allen-- uh, I mean his protagonist... Oh, who are we kidding; we all know they're one and the same at this point. The lead is once again a self-deprecating screenwriter obsessed with death, possessing the usual Allen tics. But I don't watch Woody Allen movies for the creative character development; his characters are so recognizable, either from one film to the next or just as being someone so plucked from everyday life, it takes no time to figure out where they're coming from. (Exception: Annie Hall.) I watch Woody Allen movies for very specific reasons -- to laugh, to be charmed, and to see truths about people addressed in that very unique style. And of course, for the opening-jazz tune.

Anyhow, Woody Allen's "Golden Age" is clearly Paris in the 1920's, the haunts of the Fitzgeralds, Ernest Hemingway, surrealist painters, and so forth. Personally, my Golden Age could fall anywhere between the 1920 and 1968 in Paris, but if I has to be more specific, I'd pick Paris in the '60's. Rock 'n roll, French New Wave films... I watch too many movies, but the ones that truly make me want to be in a different time and location take place there and then. (Example: Bertolucci's "The Dreamers.")

But I realized that Woody Allen HAD Paris in the '60's -- when "What's New, Pussycat?" was being shot in 1964, he lived in the city for the duration of the shoot, and that's when he fell in love with it. And I read an interview where he mentioned two of the crew decided that they were staying in Paris, and he considered it for a time, but ultimately returned to New York. (I imagine Woody Allen without NYC is something akin to me walking around missing a shoe. Or a limb.)

In the movie, it becomes clear that every time is someone's Golden Age, and that Golden Age will seem boring to the people who live there and then. The protagonist of "Midnight in Paris" experiences his Golden Age, among others, but [SPOILER ALERT] ultimately decides not to stay. While Woody Allen experienced my personal Golden Age, it wasn't enough to make him stay; I can't even fathom having been in 1964 Paris and not wanting to up and move there. But then again, I've been a great many places which will be Golden Ages to somebody (somewhere, maybe someone is saying "I wish I could have been in Hong Kong in the early '90's") and haven't stayed.

In all honesty, southern California in 2011 ain't bad.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Memorializing my Three-Day Weekend

Since I'm saving up all my vacation days this year for a big vacation in September, I've been really looking forward to and appreciating every day that my office is officially closed. Wait, that sounds bad -- I really love my job, but taking no vacation days can wear on a person. But as Matt's got work and I've got stuff to do, no mini vacay for us this time around. I had originally been kinda bummed, because I figured my weekend would be just like all my other weekends with an extra day tacked on, since Matt's working Monday BUT I have worked out a reasonable mix of fun things and productive things so that I do not feel like I totally wasted my time come Tuesday morning.

Things I'm doing this weekend:
- going to see a couple friends' plays (like I do most weekends)
- going to an audition (which I do many weekends)
- cooking fun stuff (which is also de rigeur)
- hitting a yoga class (which I do sometimes but not enough)
- going to the friggin beach (I NEVER DO THIS. Not sure if it's gonna be bathing-suit-at-the-beach weather tomorrow morning, but Matt and I are going anyway)
- possibly going to a carnival (I just discovered one freshly set up a few blocks away with all the usual janky rides that I love)
- getting rid of the giant boxes of packing material that have invaded my living room
(This is the stuff that came, minus a large jewelery box, a lamp, and some books...

... and these are the boxes they came in)

- re-pack some of those items for proper storage
- play some ukulele
- do some writing (that does not include what I'm writing now)
- attempt to spend time outside without getting sunburnt
- go see "Midnight in Paris" on Monday while Matt's working (It's a WOODY ALLEN MOVIE set in PARIS and MARION COTILLARD, ADRIEN BRODY, and ALLISON PILL are in it! How Matt has no desire to see it, I have no idea.)
- turn in my passport info-- oh wait, I already did that this morning (super productive)
- possible online shopping (THE SALES! THE SALES!!!)

I'm currently in the midst of a post-pancake stupor, trying to work up the energy to take a shower. One more cup of coffee should do the trick...

Monday, May 9, 2011

I don't want to hear "I don't really like lemon" out of you

This is my favorite lemon bar recipe. It has never served me wrong. I have seen batches of this disappear before my very eyes. And though I love me some BFC, I can't just follow a recipe to the letter. Since I love limes, I subbed in lime juice for some of the lemon. And it RULES.

The Lemon Bars
Slightly adapted from the Barefoot Contessa -- it's pretty much her recipe though...

[not pictured because they never last long enough for pictures]

For the crust:

* 1/2 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
* 1/2 cup granulated sugar
* 2 cups flour
* 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the filling:

* 6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
* 3 cups granulated sugar
* 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest (4 to 6 lemons... and maybe some limes)
* 3/4 c. freshly squeezed lemon juice
* 1/4 c. freshly squeezed lime juice
* 1 cup flour
* Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Note: If you use lime zest along with the lemon, it will be tasty BUT there will be little dark-ish flecks in your lovely lemon filling, which isn't quite as pretty. But if you love limes like I do, it may be worth it to just not be so freaking superficial.


For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Dump the dough into a greased 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking pan (with high sides), and press the bits of dough into a solid layer using your hands, building up a 1/2-inch edge on all sides. Chill dough and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Once oven is hot and dough is cold, bake the crust for 15 to 20 minutes, until very lightly browned. Let cool on a wire rack (or upside-down muffin tin, like I use). Leave the oven on.

For the filling, whisk together the eggs, sugar, zest, lemon juice, lime juice, and flour. Pour over the crust and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the filling is set. (Trick: If there is lemon goo touching the edge of the pan above the crust, it may behoove you to run a knife around the inner edge of the pan after it cooks, to keep the most-cooked part of the sugary filling from fusing itself to the pan.) Let cool to room temperature.

Cut into triangles (or squares or rectangles) and dust with confectioners' sugar.

Makes as many as you want it to make. (What, it's true. It can be, like, 60 tiny li'l squares or one massive bar to rule them all... though I can't recommend that unless you're on death row or something.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pie Update (or Why I'll Never Really Be a Food Blogger)

So Ileana came over.

And we made the pie.

I made a super buttery crust.

We filled it with onions, mushrooms, leeks, potato, and other various items.

We baked it.
We ate it.

And at no point did I photograph it.

To be fair (to myself), it wasn't the prettiest pie. Well, on the inside, at least. The crust looked good, and I cut out a star and some slits on the top for steam to escape, but...

OK, I should have taken a picture before I cut into it.

In my defense:
- it smelled really good
- I had 3 super-hungry people waiting to dig into it
- one of whom was me, and I don't think clearly when I'm hungry

Get me around food, and I don't really want to stop and take a picture of it before I taste it. I just want to TASTE IT.

Fine, next time, I'll take pictures. But probably not until a bite is already gone.

[recipe to come as soon as I get my shit together]

Friday, April 22, 2011

Prelude to a Pie

So last weekend, I attended my friend Adam's birthday celebration, which was tons of fun as expected. I also saw lots of people I haven't hung out with in a while, including a frequent cooking buddy of mine, Ileana.

(That's Ileana & I on her birthday. EXTREME MYSPACE ANGLE!)

I might also include here that, since Matt was driving, I was drinking a bit more heavily than I would on a normal evening.

Now, I do recall having food discussions with Ileana and that we said we needed to hang out and have another cooking night -- something I'm not sure we had done since that time Matt sliced his hand open and had to get stitches immediately after dinner -- but I didn't recall setting an actual date. Luckily, she did and emailed me about it the next day.

It seemed we had planned to make a savory pie.

Which I am SO down with.

She mentioned mushrooms, so... I guess that's what we had discussed including. Having a few recipes bouncing around my collection, I cobbled together something that I think will taste spectacular.

Updates to come likely on Sunday.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Colorful stripey shirt: NO vs. YES

Madewell, I enjoy your clothing. Like, I don't BUY it, because it's often too expensive, so when I saw this top on your site...

... I liked it, but I didn't $95 like it. This top from Zara on the other hand...

... isn't really the same thing, but at $70 less, I can live with that.

(For real, people...)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

An important question

Boyfriend: "Do you think we can put away the the-earthquake-is-happening-tonight kit?"

Me: "... Maybe."

In my head: "That's just what the earthquake would want."

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Pie or Europe? (What kind of question is that?)

Just saw this:

KCRW’s 3rd Annual Pie Contest at LACMA
We are so excited to announce that KCRW’s 3rd Annual Good Food Pie Contest will be held at LACMA on September 18. Details still to come, but we expect to [sic] be loads of fun.

Oh man. That's right. I told myself I was gonna enter this year. The good news is that it's not 'til September. The bad news is that I haven't even started testing pies in the way that I wanted to test pies ahead of time. However, I also might be in Europe during the contest, so the whole thing might be moot.

"I so wanted to enter the KCRW Pie Contest, as a consummate food lover and devoted listener of 'Good Food,' but I'll be traveling Europe, darling. I simply can't."

Who is that person? Is that me? Ye gods...

Monday, March 28, 2011

How I Failed a Resolution Before the Year Even Started

So at the beginning of the year, in my resolution lineup, I listed this:

Leave myself more free time than last year. I do NOT need to do 2 or more shows at a time, especially when they're not paying me.

Lo and behold, even as I had written that, I was already committed to doing 2 shows. (One which DID pay me!) And I had yet to realize that the week in which I was to be running one of the shows -- daytime performances for school groups -- flowed straight into the weekend in which my other production was going to make up a couple lost performances and do 5 shows instead of 3. Which meant that I was going to be doing 13 shows in 10 days, on top of my 40+ hour a week job.

It was at that point I knew I had to slow the hell down.

But right at the end of all that, I was faced with a possible role in a friend's production (my heart wasn't all in it + small part + unpaid), the chance to take part in a remount of a show I performed in the world premiere of last year for this year's Hollywood Fringe festival (still no pay), and another show (PAID!) for which the AD had personally requested that I come read for after seeing my in the school-group show. All of these would have conflicted with each other in one way or another. I was losing my mind trying to figure out what would be the smart course of action in which I did not anger/hurt friends of mine but did not also screw myself over.

Luckily, it all turned out fine. And now I have free time for a while.

But at the same time, I must look at all of this and say


did I put myself through all that? Is it really worth it?

But then I went to see a few shows put on by various friends of mine this weekend. And after seeing some performances that lacked and yet others that knocked the wind out of me with their power... I remembered,

"Oh yeah. I love this."

So the next time I ask myself WHY I put myself through the stress, sleep-deprivation, worry, rejection, mental anguish, judgement, etc. of doing live theatre, I can just remind myself

that it's because I freaking LOVE it.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Earthquake predictions and things much like them

I'm out with a group of folks from my show at a local watering hole we frequent, due to the sweet and hospitable nature of the establishment's owners, the low price of drinks, and the patio that's outdoor enough to legally allow smoking while being indoor enough to shield one from the harsh Southern California elements. And during the course of the night, we have fun, as people who hang around one another are prone to do. And as all things must, the night comes to a close and we all drift home.

Common tale.

But the second I hit my car, I start running through the night's events in my head. The things that were said; was everything I took in jest SAID in jest? Were there subtle nuances I didn't pick up on? Did I make an ass of myself? Do these people secretly hate me and I'm just too dumb to notice?

And so on and so forth.
But here's the thing.

Trying to figure out what someone else was/is thinking about you is damn near impossible. Re-running the words of another person over and over in your head, trying to glean if there was hidden meaning behind them or if there were irritated glances exchanged behind your back... it's pointless.

Much like worrying about whether or not an earthquake is going to hit tomorrow or not.

(Not that this admission will stop me from worrying about either one, but the realization at least shows SOME self-awareness, right?)

The first time I encountered an earthquake after moving to LA, I didn't sleep for several days; instead, I lay in bed in my first-story apartment, wondering what would happen if The Big One hit during the night. Would I be crushed? Would my neighbor's bed fall on top of me or did he place his elsewhere in the bedroom? What would be the safest place to go? Should I just sleep in the bathtub???

And so on and so forth.

Right before the show today, my friend mentioned to me that several "experts" were predicting a major earthquake to hit California tomorrow, March 19th. (OK, I guess it's TODAY, March 19th now.) This. Distressed. Me. But I shook it off. But now it's back.

Don't get me wrong -- I'm going to find my earthquake kit that a former employer gave me as a Christmas gift a few years ago and put it by my bed, along with a full bottle of water and my laptop, well-packed and protected. But I'm gonna try real hard not to lose any sleep worrying about earthquakes or people secretly hating me. Because if either thing happens, there's not much I can do about it. All I can do is have my shit ready to go if it does.

(If an earthquake hits later today, and this prophetic blog doesn't go viral, I'm going to be really pissed.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

White pants -- really?

Does this look really work on anyone in real day-to-day life?

The other day, I was in a store with a pal and commented on how, if I were to put on a pair of the white pants before us (those you see above), I would be terrified that a) I would spill something on them, b) I would sit in something, c) I would spontaneously get my period regardless of the time of the month, and d) that my ass would look like the Great White South. She laughed, but agreed that, no, she would never dare to wear white pants.


I want to speculate on this for a bit.

- The rich, who don't give a crap if they ruin a pair of pants.

- Those with intensely high self-esteem, who know they look hot in the pants and anyone who thinks otherwise can SUCK IT.

- The fastidiously neat, for whom mess is not even an option.

- The immensely zen, who would never consider the list of worries I've mentioned.

- The total disaster, who gets the pants and falls prey to the plagues I listed but is too oblivious to notice.

- The fashion victim, who gets the pants and falls prey to ALL of the plagues I listed after wearing the pants once and never wears them again.

(Uhhh, yikes.)

I know that were I to attempt the look, I'd fall squarely on my Great White South into the final category. Probably onto some gum.

I. Am. Slain.

Madewell. You're killing me.

I adore this skirt found here. Yet I am not prepared to pay that much for the skirt, especially since it's dry clean only.

Really, this entire outfit destroys me. If I were tall enough to pull this look off, I'd wear it every day. (OK, fine, I wouldn't, but I'd want to.) But I can't. Because I'm 5'2" and the skirt is dry clean only.

Monday, March 14, 2011

An open love letter to the notepad function on my iPhone

Oh, iPhone notepad.

In the days before I had you, I relied so much on regular paper. I went through post-its like (insert something else I use a lot; all I can think of now are post-its). My day-planner was littered with things that had nothing to do with my days or planning them but things I just wanted to remember. Trying to check my appointments through a veil of scribblings on songs to remember, restaurants to try, and vinatge stores to check out was not ideal.

Now, I have you.

My incessant and unnecessary list-making feels like less of a vice with you around. I don't have to rifle through my notebooks, trying to remember which week it was that I couldn't stop thinking about making a quinoa-based lasagna item or when it was that I decided that I really wanted to make a rag rug and detailed exactly what I'd need to do so.

Thank you, you electronic enabler.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Posting more clips...

Because it's after 6 on a Friday and I'm still at work... LINKS!

(almost 300,000 views on this one!)

A couple links to pieces that I've done...

(Honestly, this is more so I can keep track of them and not just shameless self-promotion, I swear.)

Puppy Love from Brett Gilbert on Vimeo.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Intent is Nine-Tenths of New Years Resolutions...

OK, these aren't really resolutions. These are things I want to do that I'm writing down so I don't forget them.

Make bao. Yeah, the little Chinese buns. Imma make 'em from scratch. It's gonna be great.

Buy a hula-hoop. One of those exercisey ones. You know, to offset all those bao I'll be chaoing daon. (See what I did there?...)

Get some headphones. So that I can get work done. Like, you know, I'm not doing now. (Update: These have now been classified -- by me -- as low priority. Mostly because...)

Get a laptop. It's time. That big white eMac from '04 is practically fossilized.

Yoga. There are too many yoga studios in LA for me to get away with not going. Even if it's only for the duration of the Oedipus show I'm doing, which sound like it's gonna kick my ass.

Leave myself more free time than last year. I do NOT need to do 2 or more shows at a time, especially when they're not paying me.

Play my ukulele more. Leaving myself free time should allow more of that.

Write something big. Something fun. Something other than a half-assed brain dump blog. (No offense, blog.)

Make clothes for myself. You know, in that free time I'm leaving myself.

That's all for now/nao. Time to work.