Monthly Archives: September 2010

Pizza Party

If you buy pre-made dough, it’s easy; you get to decorate it yourself, which is fun; and it only takes about ten minutes in the oven, so it’s quick. Can’t really ask for much more, can you? Oh, and you can put vegetables on it, so it’s healthy. Trifecta plus one!

Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it: pizza with butternut squash, spinach, sauteed onion, blue cheese, and parmesan. Soooo good.

Close-up in low light…it tasted better than it looks here, promise.

But for the traditionalists…

…a “normal” pizza, with tomato sauce, mozzarella, tomatoes, parmesan, oregano, and a little bit of rosemary and olive oil on the crust.

We were intending to garnish it with some fresh basil leaves, but the plant (not mine!) was a bit dead (only mostly dead?) so we left it off. It was tremendously tasty anyway.

After dinner we decided (“we” is me, a cousin of mine, and a mutual friend of ours) to go to the store to get brownie mix and peanut butter chips. There was one of those little carousels outside, the kind you put a quarter in and it plays music and goes around at about 3mph. Naturally I suggested that we go on it – three horses, three of us! – and because we had had wine with dinner, they immediately agreed. The necessary quarter was produced and we all rode the carousel. See, kids? Childhood doesn’t end at 18! Or 25. (Or even in your early 30s, if my roommate is any indication.)

So, yeah. Pizza!

What I’m reading: The Good Thief, Hannah Tinti
What I’m listening to: “Raindrop,” Chopin, by Helene Grimaud

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Read Banned Books!

This week is Banned Books Week! If you visit your local library, you might see a special shelf or exhibit of frequently challenged books; if there’s no special display, you can find a list from here. I was pleased to see that I’d already read six of the top ten most frequently challenged books of 2009. From my school library’s display, I also picked up a copy of The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton; I’d heard about it, but somehow missed it when I was younger. I read it today, and it was fantastic (and now I know where the phrase “Stay gold, Ponyboy” comes from). It reminded me a little bit of Catcher in the Rye (but in a good way – I’m not a huge Catcher fan. Catcher is also “banned,” by the way) and Ordinary People (which I loved, and which I’m pretty sure has also been challenged routinely).

Celebrate intellectual freedom! Read a book!

What I’ve been reading: The Outsiders, S.E. Hinton
What I’ve been listening to: Little Plastic Castle, Ani DiFranco; Emblems, Matt Pond PA; Red Letter Days, The Wallflowers

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Thanks, Basil Plant!

My basil plant was a big contributor to yesterday’s lunch.

Though in retrospect I ought to have chopped it a little more finely.

Thanks, basil!

Thanks also, Jars of Stuff!

Pesto Pasta (adaptable)

1 cup brown rice pasta shells, cooked 14-16 minutes, drained, tossed with olive oil
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
handful of basil, chopped
fresh mozzarella, chopped or diced into small cubes
black olives, sliced (optional; they don’t really “belong” here, but I like them.)
red bell pepper, diced
2 Tbsp pesto
1-2 Tbsp bruschetta (optional; I just happened to have some in the fridge, left over from a dinner party, so I added some as an experiment)

Toss all ingredients in with the pasta, stir, and let sit for a few minutes to let everything meld together. Eat.

What I’ve been reading: The House of Sleep, Jonathan Coe; How the Irish Saved Civilization, Thomas Cahill
What I’ve been listening to: The Jam, The Replacements, The Smiths, Arcade Fire, Andrew Norsworthy

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The New Anti-Smoking Campaign

I regret that I did not see this sign in person, but I wanted to share it anyway:

Do not drop your cigarette butts on the ground. The chipmunks come out of the bushes to smoke them and we are trying to get them to quit.

Unrelated: two people recommended this illustrated blog to me within a few days of each other, and I can totally see why. That particular link goes to a post called “This Is Why I’ll Never Be An Adult,” which I can really relate to right now. See, I felt all virtuous and responsible yesterday because I did a bunch of housecleaning and then made appointments at the eye doctor AND the dentist (and you KNOW how much I hate the dentist), and did some homework, and was just generally sort of feeling on top of things  (“I’m above a lot of things that I was under” -Andrew Norsworthy, “Vancouver”), but that never lasts, does it? You can go to the grocery store and the bank and clean the house and get rid of old clothes you aren’t going to wear anymore (and, let’s be honest, haven’t worn in the last year anyway), and you can clean out this drawer and that shelf, and do laundry, and cut your nails and floss your teeth…and then you have to do it all again tomorrow (teeth), or next week (groceries). You never really do catch up.

Which is why it’s good to have funny things like this to look at, especially if you’re going to the dentist first thing Saturday morning and probably need to recalibrate your pain scale anyway.

What I’m reading: The House of Sleep, Jonathan Coe
What I’m listening to: a mishmash of things.

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Macaroni and Cheese Casserole

Last week I had a couple of friends over for dinner. I considered semi-fancy, labor-intensive dishes like tempura vegetables with couscous, or chicken pot pie, but ended up making one of the least elegant dishes I know. This recipe is my mom’s, plus some Pioneer Woman-inspired additions (i.e., all the spices).  Make this for anyone who isn’t lactose intolerant, and they will love you.

Macaroni and Cheese Casserole

1 lb. elbow macaroni noodles, cooked al dente
16 oz. cottage cheese
2 eggs
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
milk – 1/2” in a 9×13 casserole dish
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp black pepper
pinch of cayenne
thyme (optional)
wheat germ (optional topping)
parmesan cheese (optional topping)
sprinkle of paprika (optional topping)

Cook the pasta (1 box), drain. Preheat oven to 350 F. Pour milk (I used soy milk this time) into the baking dish until there is just about 1/2 inch. In a large bowl, mix the eggs, cheeses (except parmesan, if you’re using it, and hold back a little of the cheddar as well – just a small handful), spices, and cooked macaroni. Then spoon this mixture into the casserole dish carefully, so the milk doesn’t splash. Sprinkle the reserved cheddar, the parmesan and/or the wheat germ if you’re using it/them, and some paprika evenly over the top. Slide the dish into the oven and bake until the top is bubbly – check it at 20 minutes, it should be done in 30. Enjoy with a side of broccoli – you’ll want some kind of green to balance out all that dairy!

What I’m reading: How the Irish Saved Civilization, Thomas Cahill
What I’m listening to: 20th Century Masters, The Jam; The Suburbs, Arcade Fire

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“I like to talk to the robot.”

Once again, writing a draft of a blog post in Word because our internet is out. Again. I swear this shit follows me around like a curse. Either that, or it’s this bad all the time, for everyone, in which case, WHY are we still paying them (Time Warner, Comcast, etc.) every month for service we DON’T GET?

The silver lining to this is that my roommate, and not I, is the one who’s constantly on the phone with Comcast, getting transferred from one robot to another until he finally reaches a person who – maybe, if he’s lucky, transfers him to another person, and so on, until finally he reaches The Person With The Magic Button who restores our internet access.

Boston. Massachusetts. United States of America. Two thousand ten. WE WERE SUPPOSED TO HAVE FLYING CARS AND JETPACKS BY NOW. (Speaking of which: I’ve never listened to them, but We Were Promised Jetpacks is one of the best band names ever.)

Annnnnd we’re back (online)! Third roommate just entered, and inspired a total and complete lack of jealousy in the other two of us by announcing she’s taking sixty eighth graders on a field trip tomorrow (she’s a teacher).

Also today – this Tuesday was suspiciously Mondayish – I got on the green line (E) train after spending three hours in class followed by six hours working in the library (that’s nine (9) hours at school, ten including lunch) only to have the train stop before we even got to Copley, and it was stopped for TWENTY-FIVE MINUTES. And I was hungry and cold and very nearly out of reading material, but I had the New Yorker with me so I just read more of it than I usually would. And then I stopped at the grocery store to get pumpkin and now there are pumpkin-apple-chocolate-chip muffins in the oven and this day is finally, at 10:26pm, looking up.

And here are some pictures of morning glories, from various people’s railings in Brooklyn.

Oh wait, internet is out again. The internet was also out in Brooklyn last weekend, because of the tornado. Yes, that’s right – back to the category of Things Going (Unexpectedly) Wrong – there was a tornado in Brooklyn last week. A TORNADO. IN BROOKLYN.

There were broken trees all over, snapped branches strewn across the sidewalk. Someone went ahead and gave this tree remnant some Brooklyn pride.

As far as I know, though, all the houses retained their roofs, and there were no flying cows, and it was all in color to start with – much like the other “tornado” I lived through when I first moved to Brooklyn, in August 2007. That day, unfortunately, I was trying to fly to Chicago, and THAT, my friends, is why I always build extra time in when I am figuring how long it will take to get to the airport: because YOU NEVER KNOW when a tornado will hit New York and gum up the subway system. I should probably start earthquake-proofing my room here in Boston, though actually, it pretty much already is; nine years in California will make you just paranoid enough, it turns out, not to want to hang framed pictures over the bed (or anywhere people are going to sleep or sit), or have your china in glass-fronted cabinets (not that I, at 25, have either china or glass-fronted cabinets). (For safety purposes, of course.)

That’s right. The danger of teacups. Be on the alert, people!

Oh my God. It is out again (12:33am). I am going to beat that modem to death with a baseball bat.

What I’ve been reading: Love Is A Mix Tape, Rob Sheffield
What I’ve been listening to: various mixes; Bach cello suites

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Rosh Hashanah Potluck

I’d gotten into a comfortable pattern for the Jewish holidays when I was in New York, but this year several of us (myself included) scattered, and I had to devise a holiday from scratch. A bunch of friends, new and old, came together to make it a wonderful (and delicious) time.

Apples and honey, of course – for a sweet new year.

Cheese and crackers, for snacking while we waited for everyone to arrive.

A delicious couscous salad with radishes, cucumber, feta, and mint – definitely a hit.

“Commander chicken” – my dad’s recipe.

Challah, and a potted Gerber daisy from Trader Joe’s…I couldn’t resist.

Apple crisp. I got carried away with the cinnamon, so it wasn’t my best, but even if it had been, it would have been outshined by…

This incredible lemon bundt cake. Mmm.

Not pictured: a tasty salad with peanut tofu, and French bread with bruschetta. Thank you everyone for coming, bringing food, and making it a wonderful beginning to the new year!

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