Tuesday, October 30, 2007

ok, this is ridiculous

I keep blaming the fact that I take care of a toddler all day (and night) plus try to keep the house in a state of just-slightly-better-than-so-filthy-they-have-to-call-child-protective-services plus make sure the family eats something with vitamins in it at least once a day for my not taking the time to update this thing, but that's really just a wuss-face cop-out. Cuz if I have enough time to watch small chunks of crap-ass YouTube videos every coupla days, I mos def have the time to throw some poorly organized ideas out here for my own amusement (since I know nobody comes back to this ghost town of a blog anymore) and soul purging and creative juice-flinging.

So here goes. A frantic 1 a.m. blogsplosion because I can't sleep but I can't get anything practical done.

Today's Best 4 Things
1) Defrosted leftover Belgian Chocolate Mousse birthday cake

2) The look on N's face when her dad brought her back after her first (and second) trolley ride at the Grove: the thrill of discovering a new exciting thing in the world plus the primal happiness of being reunited with the first person she ever knew in life all at the same time. I'll never forget it

3) The relief I felt when E and little N walked out the front door for errands and the aforementioned Grove trip, and I got to stay home and try to work

4) Well, I can't think of a fourth thing. It's been one of those weeks. Maybe I'll pick "committing to sitting down and writing a blog entry and then actually doing it." Yep, that's it.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Addendum: The PCH

Reading through the October issue of Los Angeles magazine (cuz it was laying around and I needed a mommy break--it's ok to pile ever more puffed rice cereal on N's high chair tray so I can finish the article about Adam Carolla, right? I'm not a bad mom if she eats her weight in Kix occasionally, am I?) and I almost choked on my high-fiber Joe's O's. Deep in the article, when the author mentions Mr. Carolla's drive to a house in Malibu that he's refurbishing, there's my latest and biggest pet peeve: the Pacific Coast Highway. THE! In front of PCH!

So I'm officially dismounting my high horse on this one and will just briefly and silently pass judgment whenever I hear the offending article in front of the highway's name. If the production staffers for a magazine that dares to claim Los Angeles as its name can't get it right, there's no hope for the rest of the transplants. Feh.

P.S.A.: Those high fiber Joe's O's will do a number on your GI tract if you're not careful. 10 grams of fiber in one serving. Holy smokes! Stick with the regulars, if you know what's good for you.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I am a skinny bitch

Yeah, I'm one of those chicks who can eat anything she wants without exercising and never gain an ounce. I can have two desserts every day and not see the needle on the scale quiver even a little bit--hypothetically. I don't actually own a scale. (This is not to say that I'm skirting long-term health issues with the two-dessert semi-sedentary lifestyle. I'm just saying daily double helpings of belgian chocolate mousse cake equals weight stasis for ant b.)

Now, you may think that natural uber-thinness would be a blessing, a dream, the thing to wish for when the genie says "what'll ya have?" and I'm not going to tell you that it doesn't have its upsides, for sure. Generally, clothes look good on me when I can find some that are small enough. I can wriggle through tight airplane and movie theater aisles pretty effortlessly. I am easily lifted by others, which I guess would be useful if my legs suddenly and temporarily stopped working or I got the opportunity to join an aerialist troupe. And then there's the aforementioned mass consumption of anything I lay my eyes on without fear of butt and thigh expansion.

But it's not all blissful skipping through life in hot pants while snarfing triple bacon cheeseburgers. When you're thin, other women are compelled to comment on it, and maybe you don't know this, but women who don't feel thin are not always so nice to we who am thin.

Popular comments/questions frequently thrown at me by rude strangers when I'm minding my own business (and licking chocolate frosting off my elbows in public):
1. What are you, a size ZERO? must be ni-ice...(and she just barely doesn't add "bitch" at the end there)
2. Don't you EAT?
3. Are you anorexic?
4. Why are you so thin?

Generally, I just smile sheepishly and try to act pleasant and say some form of "it's totally a genetic thing, my parents looked like this when they were my age, oh thanks, yeah, I've just got a really high metabolism, I guess..." blah blah blah until I can get away from them and into the nearest marshmallow factory.

And here's what REALLY sucks: I'm not even safe from other thin chicks.

Apparently, I'm so skinny that skinny chicks think I'm skinny. I can't tell you how often, when I try to engage another svelte woman in some skinny bitch-sisterly camaraderie, the skinny bitch sistah smiles uncomfortably and says something like, "oh yeah, but I'm not as thin as you are." WHAT?! I'm like Rudolph the Super Spindly Reindeer Bitch trying to get in on a game of Skinny Reindeer Bitch teeball.

This is what I'd like to say to the offenders in the above scenarios (but never will because I'm nice and know that they don't realize how incredibly rude and inappropriate they are being):
1. I'll have you know that I can often fit into a size 2, madam, but yes, I'm 5'7" and generally I am a size zero. what fucking business is it of yours?
2. I sure do. I eat CONSTANTLY, and I never gain an ounce. Jealous? Bite me
3. No. Never have been. I may have some food issues ('cuz, let's face it, it's hard to grow up in the U.S. and escape unscathed), but I've never had an eating disorder. You, Lady Jabba, however, may want to consider the occasional purge. I'm just sayin'.
4. I dunno. Maybe because I WAS BORN THIS WAY AND CAN'T HELP IT? Why are you so fat, hmm?

E always says that I really should come out swinging when people say things like that to me, and I'm starting to get to the point where I'm ready to do so. The older I get, the less patient I am with the asshats of the world, I guess.

Here's the thing: Asking someone as skinny as I am about her skinniness is really the same thing as asking a fat person about their fatness. It's just rude.

Plus there are SO many other more interesting things to talk about with a stranger. Like where they got their really cool purse.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Today's Best 6 Things

1. Rodrigo y Gabriela

2. The chocolate pretzel doughnut from Primo's on Sawtelle

3. Perfectly ripe fruit from my uncle's surprise nectarine tree and super-cheap-and-tasty bing cherries from Vons all in the same mouthful

4. The Hudade Special at Rahel's in Little Ethiopia. It's injera-rrific!

5. Riding through our new neighborhood on the back of a tandem beach cruiser with my husband at the helm and the baby at her grandparents'

6. The smell of N's sweet delicious baby breath when she throws her tiny arms around my neck and squeezes, and then, with half-closed eyes, smothers my cheeks, lips and chin with slobbery toddler kisses and doesn't let go. She is everything.

Trying it again, for the first time

There's yet another new Clausen in Sourdoughtown (which is the region on top of our fridge where I keep the starter jar that I've just named Sourdoughtown). I killed the second one just a few days ago.

In talking with the Homegrown Revolution folk who had inspired my forays into sourdough cultivation, I discovered that it had been folly to try to create a whole wheat starter from scratch using whole wheat flour and that's what the problem had been each time (probably). Turns out you have to start with white flour, and then once it's strong enough, say in a couple of weeks, you just start feeding it whole wheat instead of white. Eventually, the white flour part of the starter all but disappears and then you've got your whole wheat starter. Conversion complete. Sweet!

So to speed up my process, the HGR homies provided me with a cup of their very own hearty white flour starter and I'm off and running. I even decided to splurge on a banneton/brotform/proofing basket from Breadtopia, which is a pretty cool site set up by this dude and his wife, who are really into bread and own a bread-making supply store. Check out the how-to videos on all kinds of bread-making techniques and recipes, including the "no-knead" recipes. I'm definitely going to try some of them once I'm in the swing of things.

That is, as long as I can keep this new Clausen among the living. Millions of little yeasty beasties in a mason jar just furrowed their brows, looked at each other and then crossed their fingers and bit their lips in hope. I'll try not to let them down.

Side Note: Thunderous thanks goes to the above-mentioned HGR coolkids not only for sharing their starter with me, but for linking to me in their post yesterday. That was cool.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

I am not a foodie. I'm not! I'm not!

Damn, there are too many blogs out there.

I need to get dinner underway and happen to have the makings for a decent bread pudding, I think, but my bound Cook's Illustrateds are still in boxes (because we aren't unpacking books until we paint the living room in a couple of weeks), so I started looking for some recipes online just now to make sure I have the details right. And then "just now" turned into a 45-minute time-suck of blog-bouncing and now the baby's nap is half over and dinner isn't even half planned. AGH!

People, stop blogging so much. Your writing is getting in the way of my life. And the thing is, most of the stuff I read just now wasn't even very good but I kept reading and reading.

Take the cutesy home baker who belongs to some semi-cutesy online organization of other cutesy home bakers who photograph and post about their personal kitchen successes with butter and lavender and spun sugar and the like. OK, I will admit that the photos were decent--a little too food-porn-ish, but well composed, in focus and the subjects looked tasty enough--but the writing, eh, not so much.

So how come I couldn't take my eyes off it? Because I used to pretend I was a be a foodie, that's why and I can't help but indulge that side of me when I get the chance.

In college, I would gush over the cooking of a true foodie roommate or friend when I had no idea what I was talking about, and suggest the use of fennel or radicchio or salame di cavallo or praise the benefits of wheat grass juice and viognier when I had just heard of them all the day before. I suppose that we are all allowed to have been a schmucky food snob in college, a time when we're trying stuff out and discovering the world and ourselves. But we're also allowed to cringe when we think about pretentious food-related conversations and unnecessary astronomical dinner bills we can recall years later, and I fully engage in such cringing now.

Over the last 10 years or so, I've (d)evolved from a single gal food snob who taught herself knife techniques and wine pairings by watching what used to be called the Food TV Network (before Emeril was a failed sitcom star and when some of their best shows were called "How to Boil Water" and "Cooking Live with Sara Moulton") to an unemployed wife and mother who just wants to get a reasonably balanced dinner on the table before 9pm each night and use what's in the fridge/pantry before it gets moldy.

I used to long for every gadget and appliance in both the Williams-Sonoma catalog and the formerly vast aisles of Surfas, but now I work to perfect the art of paring down my culinary tool kit with frequent donations to Goodwill. (If only I could reduce my needs to a couple of knives and a mixing bowl, I'm sure I'd find internal peace.)

Admittedly, the true me lives somewhere between these two extremes, but definitely leans toward the more practical end of the home cook spectrum.

But the faux-foodie still rears her head. Did you notice that I just had to mention up above that I can't find my bound Cook's Illustrateds? Not just "my cooking magazines" or "my loose-flying-around-the-house subscription issues of the periodical," but the "I had to order this special and now I have two copies of each magazine but it's worth it" bound issues of Cook's Illustrated.

And who am I trying to impress? Who's even reading this, anyway? My husband, a few friends, maybe a random person who clicked the "next blog" link at the top of his own rambly and disjointed blog and landed here, and me (do you read and reread your already published blog posts incessantly like I do?).

The blogging thing, it's all so masturbatory. Ew. I'm totally humping the spacebar. Don't look.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Ouch

This morning, as I stumbled out of bed, I announced that all of my joints felt like they were filled with pain gel. Not sure what pain gel is, but I'm pretty sure it's in all of my joints.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Yo, yo-yo

I cook. I sing. I lactate. I raise a girl. I am vain. I am a virgo, and I fight it. I am thin, and I hate it when you point it out. I am left-handed. I love "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." I read all the cartoons and then the movie review in The New Yorker before I read any other articles. I listen to "A Prairie Home Companion" every week and am not ashamed, but I prefer "The Writer's Almanac." I don't have a TV (anymore). I am self-righteous. I am self-deprecating. I will go out of my way to avoid a conflict, but I scream at people in my dreams. I drink dark beer, but only in small amounts because I lactate. I am almost 35. I type the right way. I'm always thinking about what to say and that often keeps me quiet. I look forward to weekends even though I'm unemployed. I am deeply lazy. I struggle with housecleaning. I hate IKEA, but forget that I do every few months and go back. I am getting more and more impatient with everything. I wonder if people who move to other cities bag on those cities to natives the way people do when they move to L.A. I am a hypocrite. I can crochet, but I wish I could knit. I am a night person married to a morning person. I forget to floss. I am tired. I am scared. I think everything will be OK. I gave away my red suede rollerskates. I fell on my bike. I was a dancer. I was a writer. I was a car chick. I miss some people, but not enough to call them. I say "we" too much. I get lucky sometimes. I'm trying too hard. I forget why I started.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The PCH and other atrocities

Hey, all you folks who do not originally hail from Southern California. I have some information for you regarding the way we do and say things around here, starting with the one that irks me the most:

The PCH
Where that "the" came from, I'm not sure. Maybe it's an assumption that because we use the article before the name of most of our freeways (the San Diego Freeway, the 22, the 10, the 110), you assume that the same goes for Pacific Coast Highway. But it doesn't. Don't know why. It just doesn't. You probably heard one non-native call it that when you were still a newbie and now you're spreading the disease to countless other helpless newbies. Stop calling it "the PCH" or I'm going to shave your backside with a hubcap and send you back to East Whatsitcalled.

And, see, I'm nice IRL, so I can't just bust out and correct you when I'm talking to you in person and you offend with the the. So I'm relying on everyone reading this here or hearing about it from their uber-cool friend who read it here.

And now I've gotten myself too riled up to think of any other things to complain about right now, so I'll have to take this back up later. Nighty-night.

Clausen is dead. Long live Clausen!

I killed my sourdough starter two days ago. Much like purebred collie dogs, sourdough starters are pets you have to feed every day, a lesson I have now learned the hard way. I let my life get in the way of my Clausen-tending and after 24 hours of neglect, he got moldy and nasty and that was that. Just one missed feeding. Just one!

My sadness is tempered a bit, though, by the memory of two wonderful breakfasts that Clausen provided us (one decent batch of pancakes and one delightful batch of waffles) and the knowledge that in two weeks, I'll have an active starter again, easy peasy, and we'll be off and running on the breadful path. My mourning will be brief and disinfecting, and involve two shots of whiskey: one for me and one for the jar.

And like cats named Snowball on Evergreen Terrace, the new starter will also be named Clausen, natch.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Yucking My Yum

Well, Son of Clausen didn't taste so hot. The Second Loaf was better, but still not great. Turns out that I jumped into breadmaking too early. In talking to my friend Munky Jason, who has a degree in pastrymaking and some experience with starting starters, I discovered that it takes at least 2 weeks for the little yeasty buggers to get hearty enough to make a decent loaf of bread, not 3 to 7 days, like I initally thought. I was glad to hear this, since it means that I haven't totally failed as a sourdough girl. In another several days I'll try again and hopefully have better results.

I also made some sourdough pancakes the other day, and they weren't too bad. The batter was uber-thin, so it took forever (I never actually made it through the whole batch of batter, due to Little N's request for love and attention) to cook, but the flavor was kinda pleasing.

I have high hopes for future Clausen Spawn.

***

And speaking of such things, it appears that our new neighbors have been enjoying of the ganja this afternoon. I just installed a temporary screen door flap thing on our french doors and was appreciating the breeze while N was napping and what started out smelling like a mid-afternoon barbeque somewhere in the vicinity has definitely turned out to be weed smoking. Made me laugh and also made me wonder just how much contact there needs to be for a 16-month-old to get a contact high. Hmm. We'll be closing those french doors now, methinks. Voila.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Son of Clausen


Three days into my relationship with Clausen, it appeared that he was ready to produce some bread, so I followed Homegrown Revolution's recipe as best I could and a day and a half later, we have bread! It's kinda flat and doesn't smell too strong, and it stuck to the towel I used in the proofing bowl, so it looks pretty funky, but it's bread!

We haven't cracked it open yet because E wants to photograph it as part of his brown food series (seriously), so I can't say whether it actually worked. I have a feeling that it's going to be too dense and sticky in the middle, but I'm hoping I'm wrong.

I also have another loaf in the works for tomorrow, hoping to learn from the first spawn of Clausen today. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Clausen


The urban homesteaders over at Homegrown Revolution, in addition to being supreme bad-asses, make insanely good mostly whole wheat bread using a sourdough starter they cultivated from scratch, and we were the lucky recipients of a gorgeous loaf of hearthy goodness recently. It didn't last through the night. I would have eaten the whole thing myself if my excited email to E hadn't spilled the beans on the existence of the loaf in our kitchen back at the old place.

I've been curious about sourdough starters for years now and have always wanted to launch my own attempt to cultivate one. I'm using the setting up of a new kitchen as a reason to stop procrastinating on this and am therefore proud to say that tonight I took the plunge with the combining of flour and water.

Meet Clausen, my very own whole wheat-based sourdough starter, who I am raising in a giant pickle jar (hence his name) graciously donated to the cause by my mother-in-law, and who I hope will be the progenitor of countless loaves, pancakes and the like.

I Just Had the Weirdest Dream: Part 1

Two nights ago I am awakened by The Kid for nursing in the wee hours immediately after having this dream:

I'm at a Tupperware-style Diana Ross Wig Party at Diana Ross' house (Big D is there modeling the Wigs and pitching their Wonders to all in attendance), and I get talked into spending $250 on a Diana Ross Wig of my very own by Gwen Stefani (or Katie Holmes, it's been too many hours since the dream and I can't remember which of them it was) and I just keep thinking "E's going to freak out when he finds out I spent $250 on a wig." But in the dream, I really really wanted that Wig, in all it's floppy puffiness.

And now I can't get "Love Child" outta my head.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Leaving Culver City

Yeah, so, in yesterday's post about the kitchen, I mentioned that we moved last week. After more than 10 years in the Heart of Screenland, we've ventured back into L.A. proper and it feels weird but good, since the Heart of Screenland has turned into the Heart of Poo Land as of late because of all the rich folk who act like they've discovered this "great" "cute" "new" place called Culver City and are willing to pay outrageous rents. If I weren't so nice, I'd say that they all can kiss my bony white ass between their sips of vino at Bottle Rock and bites of (admittedly delicious) flatbread appetizers at Ford's Filling Station.

I am simultaneously bitter about having to leave a place we helped make cool and thrilled to be engaging in a massive life change.

But the truth is that downtown Culver City sucks now. It's too crowded, too expensive, and the few good things that all the development has brought to the place (truthfully the only things I can think of right now are Ugo and the Kirk Douglas Theatre) don't come close to making up for all the bad that it's done to the neighborhood.

Blah, blah, blah, classic gentrification at work. Our kitchen's still a disaster, but at least we don't have to fight our way through scores of clueless moviegoers unfamiliar with the quirks of the stoplights in downtown Poo Land to get there.

I'd like to end on a positive note, though: if you have to move anytime soon, I HIGHLY recommend the Delancey Street Foundation's moving services. The guys were AMAZING and it's a hugely good organization to support.

Kitchening

So we just moved into a new place last Tuesday (the downstairs unit of a great 2-bedroom duplex in the Mid-City area) and I've been struggling to set up the kitchen this week, a sisyphisian (sp?) task of vast proportions made triply so by the addition of our boisterous 16-month-old daughter and her unending pleas for entertainment, love and food. Sheesh.

We were at our last home for 5 years and I had that kitchen (which was woefully lacking in cabinetry and counter space) dialed in like crazy.

I know that this new kitchen will eventually find its groove and flow and that I have to be patient, but ugh. I didn't realize how much it was going to affect my sense of well being. Getting dinner on the table before 8:30 each night is hard enough without the halting cadence of the 'where are the spoons-spatulas-skillet' dance tripping me up.

And I haven't even mentioned the Italian tile floor that put me on the couch with an icepacked knee the first night we were here. This shit is brutal. Who decided that tile was a good idea for a floor you stand on for hours? Jeeeezus.

Gotta sleep. More soon.