Monthly Archives: November 2009

Good With Weird

My only defense – and I’m not sure many other people can truthfully say this – was that I had to read the first book for work. The second, third, and fourth books I read on my own; likewise, I saw the first movie of my own free will, along with accomplices (Marathon Girl and a former roommate of ours). Tonight we went to see the second movie, and if you are still not sure what I am talking about, here’s a hint:

“But the absence of him is everywhere I look. It’s like a huge hole has been punched through my chest. But in a way I’m glad, the pain was the only reminder that he was real.”

“Can you [forgive me]? I hope you can, because, I honestly don’t know how to live without you.”

And if you’re still in the dark…



Yes, we three contributed to the $230 million+ box office for the second Twilight movie. And you know what? It was fun. They actually did a pretty good job with the material, I think – the second book was not my favorite. Granted, some of us may have laughed at parts that were not intended to be funny (see above dialogue), but the theater was actually fairly empty, so we did not get accosted by angry gangs of thirteen-year-old Robert Pattinson (sorry – Team Edward!) fans afterward. Yet another Monday escaped unscathed!


If you’re looking for a movie that is actually billed as a comedy, allow me to recommend Clue (1985), the movie based on the board game. I finally got around to watching it the other night – with Marathon Girl, the Swede, and my mom – and it is really pretty hilarious. Tim Curry as Wadsworth, is fantastic.


Wadsworth: Indeed no, sir. I’m merely a humble butler.

Colonel Mustard: What exactly do you do?

Wadsworth: I buttle, sir.




Wadsworth: At the start of the evening, Yvette was here, by herself, waiting to offer you all a glass of champagne. I was in the hall. [pause] I know because I was there.


Okay, perhaps it is funnier onscreen. So, go watch it! Unless you are in the mood for emotional teen vampire werewolf drama, then go see New Moon.


What I’m reading: March, Geraldine Brooks

What I’m listening to: Double Plaidinum and Let’s Talk About Feelings, Lagwagon


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Creature of Habit

Any of this sound familiar?

-Cafe Orlin on St. Mark’s Place

-Ultimate frisbee in Prospect Park

-Pumpkin-butternut squash-sweet potato chestnut soup

-Butternut Squash Risotto

That is because I am a creature of habit, and the Sunday pattern of late seems to involve brunch, frisbee, and cooking, in roughly that order. Sometimes I shake things up and do it in a different order (brunch, cooking, frisbee, I guess that would be, since I have yet to do brunch at night. That would be a breakfast-for-dinner scenario, yes? And breakfast for dinner is awesome… I will have to look into this on some future Sunday.)

The one sort of funny/unique (I thought) thing it occurred to me to recall here also proved to be pretty average, it turns out. On my drive up to Connecticut on Thursday morning, I passed a purple billboard with white text that read, “Look! A big purple rectangle!” It made me smile, but I forgot to look up what it could possibly be for until just now. The third result Google produced was from


Today while I was driving down the highway, I saw a purple billboard that said, “Look! A big purple rectangle!” I don’t know what it was advertising, but I’m going to find out and buy a lot of it. MLIA


Apparently it’s a quote from the movie Juno (which I’ve seen twice) yet I don’t remember that line. Hello, memory loss! I’m still not sure what they’re trying to sell, and unlike the MLIA contributor I probably won’t buy a lot of it.

“Everybody’s clever nowadays.” -Oscar Wilde


By the way, I highly recommend The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins for anyone who likes young adult fiction and/or books set in a future that is radically different from our world now (e.g. Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, Oryx and Crake). I thought the premise was creative and the characters were tremendously engaging. Definitely looking forward to reading Book Two, Catching Fire.

What I’m reading: March, Geraldine Brooks

What I’m listening to: The Decemberists, The Crane Wife; Dropkick Murphys, The Gang’s All Here


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Still full of Thanksgiving food. So here is a picture of trees. Back with something a little more substantial tomorrow!



What I’m reading: The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins

What I’m listening to: The Warrior’s Code, Dropkick Murphys; Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling (audiobook)


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The kitchen is a dangerous place. Hot ovens, open flame, sharp knives (or, even more dangerous, dull ones), breakable glassware, etc. Yet, usually, I manage to escape injury from all of these.

What gets me is the cheese grater.








No matter how careful I am, I end up grating my hand every fourth time or so I use the thing – while grating, while washing, while reaching over it to pick up something else.

Intellectually, I know that it is an inanimate object, and any harm it causes me is my own fault – a result of carelessness or clumsiness. But just as dragons continue to buy lottery tickets even though they know better, I prefer to believe the grater has it in for me.


What I’m reading: Ada, Vladimir Nabokov

What I’m listening to: Pictures at an Exhibition, Modest Mussorgsky

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Chocolate Chestnut Torte


Here it is after I removed the side of the springform pan, flipped it over (without having it fall apart!) onto a sheet of wax paper on top of an upside-down cookie sheet (my improvised cooling rack), and removed the glass bottom of the pan.



By the way, it’s not actually bright red. It’s brown. You know, like chocolate. And chestnuts.

While the torte cooled, I made the icing (sorry – the glaze).

1. Put the chocolate in a small bowl, in a saucepan bring the cream to a boil, and pour it over the chocolate. Stir the mixture until the chocolate is melted and the glaze is smooth and stir in the rum.

Pretty simple. The recipe calls for candied chestnuts dipped in the glaze as well, for a garnish, but I forewent (is that a word? Past tense of “forego”? It should be…but it sounds strange) this step.

2. Invert the torte onto a rack set on wax paper, pour the glaze over it, smoothing the glaze with a spatula and letting the excess drip down the side, and let the torte stand for 2 hours, or until the glaze is set.

Check! Well, it hasn’t been two hours yet, but I don’t see anything going catastrophically wrong with it in the next couple hours.


Here it is after I inverted it a second time (again without dropping it on the kitchen floor, I might add!), and iced it.


Foreground: torte! Background: somehow more dishes accumulated. (Don’t worry, though, Marathon Girl, these are all done now too.)



The icing tastes pretty good. It’s a little nerve-wracking not to know what the cake part tastes like, but there’s really no subtle way to find out. Cakes are unlike cookies in that way. I guess we will find out tomorrow!





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But Why is the Rum Gone?


This chocolate chestnut torte is in the oven right now, in my brand new springform pan (which I am hoping and praying works the way it’s supposed to). Putting it together was quite an experience. Let’s go step-by-step…

1. Line the bottom of a greased 9-inch springform pan with wax paper, grease the paper, and dust the pan with flour, knocking out the excess.

Do I let the wax paper go up the sides of the pan, or do I cut it in a circle so that it fits exactly? I call Mom, who says a circle. She thinks.

2. In a food processor purée the chestnuts with the butter and the rum, scraping down the sides, until the mixture is smooth.

Snag A: no food processor. Snag B: cannot open jar of chestnuts. Solution to Snag A was to mush the chestnuts, butter, and rum with a pastry cutter, then use my immersion blender. (Poor misused blender.) Solution to Snag B proved to be running the jar under hot water for a couple minutes (after trying several other tricks, including turning the jar upside-down and hitting the bottom; putting a rubber band around the lid to prevent slippage; and knocking the lid against the countertop). In the end, the mixture wasn’t 100% smooth, but I deemed it good enough.

3. Add the chocolate and blend the mixture until it is combined well.

Easy enough. I had to estimate the amount of chocolate, but as the recipe called for 10 oz. and I had an 11.5 oz. bag, I just used most of it. I melted the chocolate in a bowl in the microwave (1 minute 30 seconds, stirring halfway through). Meanwhile, I separated the eggs – yolks into a handy measuring cup, whites into a large bowl.

4. With the motor running, add the yolks, 1 at a time, and transfer the mixture to a large bowl. In a bowl with an electric mixer beat the whites with the salt until they hold soft peaks, add the sugar, a little at a time, beating, and beat the meringue until it holds stiff peaks.

Again using the immersion blender, I added the chocolate to the chestnut/butter/rum mix, then added in the egg yolks. In the large bowl, I used a handheld electric mixer to beat the salt and egg whites into oblivion (or at least extreme fluffiness). I opted for the hand mixer instead of the stand mixer because its lowest setting (i.e. its slowest speed) is still way too fast for mixing most things, but it’s perfect for beating egg whites into foam. Everything has its purpose! And I learned my lesson after the Meringue Disaster: patience. Patience patience patience. It is very important to beat the egg whites enough. Until they hold stiff peaks! Else destruction will be rained down upon thy house, etc. (Where else should Jonathan Edwards – Mr. Fire-and-Brimstone himself – make an appearance but in the pre-Thanksgiving post?)



5. Whisk about one fourth of the meringue into the chocolate mixture to lighten it and fold in the remaining meringue gently but thoroughly.

The chestnut/butter/rum/chocolate/egg yolk mixture did not seem especially whisk-able, so I folded some of the egg white mixture into it to start, and then (mainly because the egg white mixture was in a bigger bowl), added the chestnut/chocolate mixture to the egg white mixture. Stirred gently to combine.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake the torte in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 45 to 55 minutes, or until a tester comes out with crumbs adhering to it and the top is cracked.

Well, I’ve done that first bit…and what do you know, I just checked on it (it’s been in almost 45 minutes now) and the top DOES look cracked. Excellent.




These are done now. (Don’t worry, Marathon Girl!) (Marathon Girl cannot abide dirty dishes.)



What I’m reading: Ada by Vladimir Nabokov

What I’m listening to: The Smiths, Louder Than Bombs and The Smiths; The Beatles, The White Album

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Space Mouse!

Two for two on brunches this weekend! Sunday morning I met some high school friends (one lives in town, the other was visiting) at Cafe Orlin on St. Mark’s. It is delicious and if you live here I highly recommend it.

Afterward we walked up toward Union Square. We saw some creative graffiti on the way.



I love poetic graffiti. I don’t know what this is from and I’m not going to try to find out. I just like that it’s there.



Someone does not have a high opinion of television.



I once saw the following written on a plywood wall in front of a construction site on State Street in Santa Barbara. I didn’t have my camera on me at the time and by the time I went back they’d taken the wall down.


if i stand

here long

enough you’ll

come back

won’t u?


And now for some levity…



Enter Space Mouse, stage right! Too bad he looks all angry with the fangs and such. I would have thought a Space Mouse would be much more cheerful-looking.



Space Mouse! Space Mouse needs theme music. Something jazzy and adventuresome.



While the musicians are working on Space Mouse’s theme song, the animators can start factoring in Union Square Park Squirrel. Would Space Mouse and Park Squirrel (who needs a better name, I’ll think about it) be allies or enemies?



Those squirrels are bold, man. Also, squirrels are the only animals I know of that seem to defy the laws of physics routinely. Heaven forbid they should organize themselves. They could achieve world domination before it’s even time to eat brunch. Squirrels are early risers.



This kind of weather in November is downright unusual, but hey, I’ll take it.



What I’m reading: America, America by Ethan Canin; One And The Same by Abigail Pogrebin

What I’m listening to: Her Space Holiday, The Young Machines; Jimmy Eat World, Chase This Light; The Traveling Wilburys, Volume 1; The Shins, Oh, Inverted World

What I’m baking: banana bread

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