30 June 2008


This one was a serious doozy. When I was in New York back in April, my mom was kind enough to treat me to a couple of books at Kinokuniya. It was so overwhelming that I hardly knew what to pick (and of course the fact that I couldn't read any of the book titles didn't help). I finally settled on three books, two with seemingly simple clothing patterns, and one on sashiko (which is something I'd really love to tackle, but we're just not there yet).

After pouring through the two clothing books and slowly narrowing down what I would like to make, I finally chose a seemingly simple tank top as the first project (the word "seemingly" is key here). And then, I stared at the pattern for a while. And a little while longer. I finally decided that I needed (for the first time, ahem, ever) to make a muslin. The real motivation to do this was that the book (ISBN: 978-4-277-72252-0) only comes with one size of the pattern. Miraculously (seriously, I don't know how the heck this happened) the size pattern in the book fit me perfectly. I haven't tried any other patterns yet, but I'm guessing this means that every pattern in this book is custom made for me. Sweet!

So I made the muslin to make sure the size was right, because I had already picked fabric that I knew I wanted to use and I had just enough for this shirt and really didn't want to screw it up. I also made the muslin because the henley neckline was shockingly confusing. Seriously, I'm still baffled by these diagrams. I stared at them for literally weeks. I fudged my way through the muslin verison and decided I had kind of figured out a way to make it work, even if it wasn't what the pattern was saying (which I still haven't figured out, ideas?). Seriously, if any of you have ideas as to what this diagram is trying to tell me to do, feel free to share. Here's what I ended up doing: I cut a slit down the middle of the front neckline. At the bottom of the slit, I cut a short (about 1.5") horizontal slit. I topstitched the cotton tape around the edge of the fabric on either side of the vertical slit. Then I folded one of the sides on top of the other, and stitched two small rectangles of the cotton tape over the opening at the bottom of the slit (one on the inside and one on the outside). This worked just fine, but you end up with a small pleat at the bottom of your button band. Let me know if this doesn't make sense, or if anyone is interested in more detailed explanation of what I did, I can do a little tutorial or something. Or maybe you all know how to do this already and I just reinvented the wheel.

So I went ahead and cut the fabric, and made the whole thing in a few hours (maybe 5-6 hours). This is of course not including the weeks that I spent thinking about that dang neckline. But hey, I think it worked out pretty well. The fabric is a really really soft white/tan gingham that I picked up at that fabric sale back in April. I think it's some kind of linen or cotton/linen blend (this is the trouble with buying fabric second-hand, I have no idea what most of it is). There wasn't enough to do the bias binding out of the same fabric, which I think I would have liked. I also kind of like the contrasting binding, though. And the button band is some amazing tape that arrived just in time from Leslie (along with some other beautiful linen tape). I still need to work on my buttonholes (I think this is partly a limitation of my skills and partly a limitation of my machine), but I don't really see myself ever unbuttoning this so I'm not too concerned.

The only other drawbacks of this pattern is that the armholes are just a tad too big, and the same for the neck, so that the back of the neck kind of stands out a little. Again, nothing too serious, I'm definitely going to wear this, a lot. And it will look super cute with a long-sleeve shirt underneath in the fall and winter (how it's shown on the model). So yeah, this was a hard one. I'm pretty proud of myself for figuring it out and getting it done. And my Japanese skills haven't improved at all, by the way. I've got a couple of other patterns from this book, and even more from the other one that I'd love to try. Also, the photographs in these books are just amazing, I'll have to share those with you later.

Happy Monday everyone!

29 June 2008

for liz.

This one's for you Liz. One of my oldest and bestest friends got engaged yesterday and I'm so freaking excited for her. Liz and I have been friends since 1992, when we met at summer camp and me, her, and Rachel were all the same height (read: very very short). They are still the same height, and I, shockingly, have become the tall one. Our families didn't live too far from each other, so we got to hang out periodically during the non-camp part of the year. As we got older, MetroNorth train trips between Manhattan and Scarsdale became more and more frequent, and we became much more than "camp friends."

Liz, Rachel and I have been through all the ups and downs that long-time girl friendships go though. We took a road trip to Lake Tahoe together in high school (I think it was the first real trip without parents I had ever taken), where we helped Liz start the dreads that she would have for years. We traveled through Europe together when we were 18 in what was one of the craziest trips of my life. A trip in which we rode and missed trains, fed pigeons, met new friends, sunbathed on rocks, got yelled at by an old lady in an Italian supermarket, yelled at each other, and loved each other. (We have yet to take another trip together...)

We were there for each other during hard times with families and friends. And for all the good times too, bat mitzvahs, graduations, birthdays, holidays, new loves. We were such good friends, that eventually, our parents had no choice but to become friends (which they all still are). Eventually we all ended up in San Francisco, sadly Rachel moved there just before I left, where the two of them still live just blocks from each other.

They're two of the things I miss most about being there and I always get a little bit sad and a little bit happy when I call one of them and hear the other's voice in the background. I can't imagine my life without either of these two wonderful, funny, smart, confident, outgoing, crazy, and beautiful women. And Liz, I am so happy for you that you are going to spend the rest of your life with someone as amazing as Tony. He takes care of you, makes you laugh and challenges you, teaches you and learns from you, and cooks you the best darn food a girl could hope for. I love you. Congratulations.

25 June 2008

for eating, in the heat.

It's hot again. I know I spent some time earlier this year complaining about it being cold and wondering when, oh when, it would warm up. Um, it has. It reached ninety degrees today and as I sit here typing at 10:12 pm, it is still seventy-seven degrees. And humid. It's really the humidity that kills me. I'm sticky. And hot. I'm thinking I just need to get the complaining out now and then I'll get used to it? I'm not sure. I'm just not a hot weather person. (Lucky for me the cold weather lasts much longer here in Minnesota).

What makes me really dislike the hot weather is that it slows me down and makes me not want to do so many of the things I love. Like cooking, and sewing. I waited until just now to put some bread in, since it's been too hot to turn on the oven all day. And I'm staring longingly at my half-finished (okay, more like half-started) sewing project sitting all cut out on the table. Must finish that soon (I do of course want to wear that tank top this summer).

What makes summer eating more enjoyable though (despite the aversion to cooking) is all of the fresh produce. Do I even have to say it? I don't think so. I'm all about cold salads right now. All I'm getting from my garden so far is lettuce and chives (and a few surviving strawberries!), so we're using what we've got. I won't even pretend like this is actually a recipe I'm sharing here, it's really more like a jumping off point for whatever you've got/like to eat. I call it: cous cous salad. Take some cooked cous cous (1 cup uncooked cous cous would be plenty for two people as a meal, or four people as a side) and let it cool to room temperature. Pick out some veggies that you like. In this case, I used some green bell pepper, yellow tomatoes, carrots, and some of the chives from my garden. I like a little crunch, so I added some sunflower and sesame seeds. You could also add in some dried cranberries if you're into that sort of thing (I go back and forth on that. Right now, I'm forth).

As for a dressing, I did this: mix some olive oil, red wine vinegar, a little bit of orange juice, stone ground mustard, sea salt, and freshly ground pepper (I don't know measurements, just kind of to taste). I always mix my salad dressings in a small jar, which makes it easy to shake them up (I hate when salad dressing isn't mixed well enough and all you get is the oil). I'm now thinking that Molly's mint syrup would be really good on this salad too. I'll have to try that next time.

So there you have it. A nice jumping off point for some summer meals. This would also work great with quinoa or pretty much any other grain like that. It would also be good served on a bed of lettuce, if you've got some lying around. And in the meantime, park yourself in front of a fan, and enjoy the summer. What's your favorite hot weather food?

23 June 2008

on being challenged

You may have noticed (unless you've been living under a rock) that I've gotten more focused on photography these last few months. I've really enjoyed this new project of mine, working with this old film camera. I have so much less control than I do with the digital camera. The first reason for this being that I don't really know how to use this old film camera. I'm slowly figuring it out, but I'm always expecting more than a couple overexposed/blurry/nonexistent prints each time I pick up my developed film.

I've been working on being a bit more focused and intentional when taking film photos because there's a sense of preciousness that just doesn't exist for me (or for most people, I think) with digital. And with polaroid, well, that's just the essence of precious in my opinion. In any case, when I first heard of The Photo Trade, organized by the amazing Jen of Nectar & Light, I was intrigued. I missed the sign up a few times and finally made it in time for the June trade: Into the Light.

It's been really helpful and fun to have a specific challenge for my photography, this theme to focus on. I spent some time really thinking about what I wanted my photograph to be and taking different versions. I had, of course, assumed that I would use my digital camera for this project. Mostly because I felt it gave me more control and I would be more likely to produce a photo I really wanted to use. However, as I've mentioned here, that ended up being impossible after that fateful slip on a wet hiking trail. So I was left with film. I shot photo after photo as the deadline approached and I was really worried that nothing good would come back from that roll of film.

I was quite thrilled to have four photos come back that I was really happy with. Even though the trade only requires one photo, it became immediately clear that I had two very fitting diptychs on my hands. I hemmed and hawed for a few days about which one I liked better and ultimately chose the outdoor shots. Like I said, it was really fun to have this challenge. After doing my photo a day project in April, I realized that it really is quite helpful to have a goal or specific project or theme when taking photos. At least for me, at this point in my photography, it provides a focal point that I really appreciate. I've learned a lot from these projects, from other bloggers and fellow flickrers. To be more thoughtful about my photographs, and about everything that I create.

20 June 2008

happy summer

I've already written my summer manifesto (which I think I'm already doing a pretty darn good job at) so there's not too much to say on this day when summer begins. So far I've had a very summery day here: biking to work, quiet day with many of the staff members out (which is what all of August will be like when half the staff take their vacations), and an empty office by 1:30 pm.

I walked the dog I'm dogsitting around the lake in the park, watered my garden, and ate the first strawberries from my garden. Heaven. The plot I inherited at my community garden last year already had a few strawberries and asparagus planted in it, which I obviously kept. Last year, I think the squirrels ate the few strawberries I got, so I was super excited to see a few bits of red peeking out from under the leaves as I was watering.

I have a feeling this is what the rest of this summer's going to be like. Slowing down (in some ways), quiet days at work, nice walks, and lots and lots of eating straight from the garden. Yeah, that sounds pretty nice to me. Happy summer friends.

19 June 2008

and the days just fly by*

Let's talk about how it's almost solstice, shall we? Does anyone want to explain to me how that's happened? Because I'm just not sure. Seriously. I said to Jared a couple of days before he left that I had a feeling June was just going to fly by. Well, it has (in some ways). Since I don't have my digital camera, I've been relying heavily on film photos for ye old blog here. Luckily, I've got lots of them. But it's always interesting to see what you get back when you pick up the film. Even if you shot the roll in just a few days and you get it developed and pick it up right away, there's still a sense of looking at that photo and remembering when you took it. And even it it was just days earlier, it seems to feel much farther back in the past. There's something quite magical about this film, there is. Like these photos.

It was just under one month ago that I wrote about my newfound love for morels. Literally, within two weeks of our mouthwatering discovery, they had disappeared from the markets. And now, it feels like years ago that I was sauteeing them slowly in some margarine and rationing them out on fresh toast. A month ago, spring felt like some unchartered territory with a new discovery around each and every green corner. And now, summer is here. I think it got dangerously close to 90 degrees today and I'll be bringing the fans up from the basement this weekend.

I know after all that complaining about how spring would never come and why is it still snowing, I'll be dying from the heat pretty soon. It's amazing how quickly that changes. As much as I love Minnesota, and generally don't mind the weather here, what I would change (if someone would ever be so kind as to put me in charge of this) would be how short spring and fall are. It just goes straight from one extreme to the other, with little time to adjust. So right now, before it gets to unbearably hot, I'm trying to cherish the little moments. The first harvests, the warm-but not hot-nights, and the ever so slowly browning of my arms and legs as I travel through this city on two wheels. What are you cherishing about the season right now?

PS: I know that this space has lost all trace of craftiness right now and I know excuses are lame, but honestly the lack of digital camera has impeded me from documenting some of my craftiness of late. And there has been some. So please be patient, there is definitely some craftiness happening behind the scenes here and I promise to share it just as soon as I can document it decently. Until then, film it is!

This was a poem I made with the magnetic poetry we had on the fridge at my old house in vermont. I've always loved it. I think I actually have a photo of it on the fridge, hmm, must dig that out...

17 June 2008


i'm coming to believe that this is the time of year when things start happening. i'm hearing a lot of action verbs these days. biking. gardening. cooking. coming. going. and on and on.

even though fall is definitely my favorite season, it's not the most active time of year. things slow down and you being preparing (mentally and physically) for the cold. in the winter, things are pretty static. it's cold and we all just hunker down for a while. spring is a time of waiting. wondering when the heck it's going to stop snowing and finally warm up.

and now, well, now it's just about summer. and things are happening. they're sprouting and budding and blooming and moving and shaking. and so am i. well, as best i can.

i harvested my first lettuce today and it's delicious. there's really nothing like it. but that's another story. for now, i'm getting into my summer rhythm. involving watering the garden each morning before work, spending a lot more time on two wheels, eating later and lighter, and enjoying the lingering evenings.

15 June 2008

happy day dad.

So as I write this, I know that my dad, mom, grandpa, and my grandpa's friend are out to dinner celebrating father's day. I wish I was there. My dad is great, when I was in high school, he learned to play the guitar. The electric guitar. I actually had to ask him to turn it down so that I could do my homework. He has great taste in music and I've learned so much from him (and stolen a lot of cds from him too!). A couple of years ago, he took up biking. As my mom says, he thinks he's Lance Armstrong (only way cooler). He finds his passions, and goes at them full force. He is a hard and dedicated worker (sometimes a little too much), but he loves what he does.

My dad taught me to question things and put up a good argument (sometimes I might take this a little farther than he anticipated). He's always supported me and been proud of me at my brightest (and sometimes not so bright) moments. And I know that he's always there when I need him.

My grandma used to say that my dad was never as happy as when he had my brother and me. And I know that this is true. Thanks for everything Dad. Happy Father's Day. I love you.

13 June 2008


I know this is true for most, if not all, bloggers. But there are some things about me that you don't know. There's no real reason that you don't know this about me other than the fact that this just has never seemed like the right or appropriate space to talk about it. Ever since I was in high school (and actually, even earlier than that) I've been really involved in human rights and social justice issues. I worked with Amnesty International for quite some time in high school and college, leading many many awareness and letter writing campaigns on various human rights issues around the world. I have always known that I wanted to work for a nonprofit (which is where I find myself today, albeit in a different capacity than I had ever imagined) to give voice to those whose voices have been silenced or ignored.

When I was younger, I imagined a job that would take me to all corners of the world. Meeting people of different cultures, races, and ethnicities. This desire was what fueled my travels to Nepal, Central America, Ecuador, Venezuela (and just about everywhere else in the world that I've had the privilege of exploring). My passion for other cultures (primarily hispanic cultures, and the Spanish language) has grown stronger over the years. As I gained more experience and grew older, I began to be more and more interested in working with people in my own community on issues affecting them right here at home.

Upon moving to Minneapolis, I immediately (literally two days after arriving here) became involved with a local social justice organization working on immigrant rights issues. There is so much that I could say about immigration, how the current system is broken (which is something that just about everyone agrees on, no matter what your proposed solution is), how we are tearing families apart, how we are creating situations in other countries that causes people to flee and come here in the first place. But I will try not to get too political here (which is probably the reason that I don't generally talk about this topic here). What I will say, is that whatever the solution is, it must be one that is fair and just. One that respects all human beings, their family ties, their hard work, and their dignity.

One of the communities that I have been working with here for the past year and a half has been the Liberian community, which is quite large in Minnesota. Liberia has had an extremely tumultuous and unique history (one that I've learned a great deal about in these last 18 months), not the least of which was the civil war that took place there from 1990 until 2003. Like many countries that had experienced such trauma and civil strife, Liberia established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission as part of the peace accords that ended the civil war.

This past week, that very commission has traveled from the capitol of Liberia to St. Paul, MN to hold public hearings. They have been taking testimony of anyone and everyone who would like to publicly state the atrocities that they themselves, their family members or friends endured during the civil war. These stories are largely horrific ones of murders, abuse, corruption, and exploitation. I spent this afternoon listening to two of these witnesses and observing the interaction between the eight commissioners and these witnesses. The purpose of this commission is have the truth be spoken and to eventually create a plan to help the country and its citizens move forward peacefully as a unified nation.

This is no easy task. There is much more I could say about the lasting emotions and anger that exists among so many who are directly involved in this process. What left the strongest impression on me after two hours of witnessing this historic event was the hope for the future that the eight commissioners hold so dearly. The passion and dedication that they have for bringing together all Liberians to create a brighter and more peaceful future for their country is inspiring, to say the least. I have the utmost respect for these eight people, who have traveled their country, and now the world seeking truth, giving voice to those who have for so long been silenced.

I left the auditorium stunned, mostly horrified by the story of the last witness and the experience that her then ten-year old sister endured. On my drive home, it was sunny. With a few dark rain clouds coming my way. It began to rain. A glorious sun shower. The release of the rain by the clouds made me smile. It was as the release of these burdens of pain and horror that the witnesses at the hearing were experiencing. Many of these people had never spoken their stories out loud to anyone. The first woman I heard was not even able to tell her own stories, just those of friends who had not survived. But the relief of speaking these truths out to the world was so apparent among them. It was as the rain being released from the clouds and the sun continued to shine. I smiled. And am full of hope.

11 June 2008

el jardin

So, I had hoped to give a really nice garden update, with beautiful detailed photos of all my little babies who are growing so nicely out there in the dirt (and who are at the moment getting a nice long drink). But, some things were just not meant to be. Well, for now at least. I realize that polaroid is not necessarily the best way to view someone's garden. But the more I look at these shots, the more I find myself really liking them (I'm falling deeper and deeper into the hole). So here you go. My gardens as of June 10.
Salad greens, ready to be thinned out a bit, but already growing like mad. That's always the hardest part for me (Jared calls me the bad mommy when I have to "thin").

Tomatoes. Last year I had five tomato plants- romas and an heirloom variety called big rainbow (which I've been kicking myself for not replanting this year- they were so delicious, what was I thinking!?). I decided this year that I wanted more tomatoes. One of the main things I learned after my first garden last year was that I could have fit a lot more into the space I have. Last year, being a virgin gardener, I followed the seed packet instructions pretty darn closely regarding how far away to plant everything, and I think that wasn't really necessary. You definitely have to give things their space to grow, but they don't need to be quite as far apart as the seed companies say they do. So this year, I went a little overboard with the tomatoes: I planted 8 romas, 3 brandywines (another heirloom variety), and 3 cherry tomatoes (I think these will be a mix of yellow and red, I hope). I think I actually have room for one more, so I'm going to put in another brandywine as soon as the rain stops. I'm hoping to do a little bit of canning come August!
Oh the beans! I planted two varieties of beans this year: snap pole beans (which I did last year and were super delicious) and royal burgundy beans (the seeds were sent to me from Canada by the lovely Claudia- thank you!!). These are planted in my backyard and I've got about four rows altogether. I'm going to have to construct some kind of trellis so they have something to climb on, and maybe even a little fence since the rabbits do tend to hang out in the backyard.
Herbs: this is my mint and parsley. I've also got sage, cilantro, rosemary, basil, and thyme. The sage, mint, and thyme are back from last year (who knew those were perennials? Not me, what a lovely surprise!). The basil and rosemary I started from seed this year, so they're still kind of tiny. But I'm hoping to get enough basil to make some pesto to freeze. I also bought two each of cilantro and parsley plants, those are both herbs that I don't use frequently, and when I do I never need very much of it, so I hate buying them because I never use up the entire bunch and it's such a waste. The cilantro, however, I think I will use a lot since I planted four jalapeƱo plants and I'm hoping to make a bunch of salsa as well!

In addition to what's in these photos, I have much much more planted. Including: garlic chives, zucchini (green and yellow, although the yellow didn't come up so I'll have to redo that one), broccoli, golden beets, carrots, spinach, chard, and bell peppers. I also planted kale, but those seeds didn't come up either. I'll have to try those again. And this isn't even including the tons and tons of raspberries in the backyard as well. I'm keeping a garden journal (as I did last year), but I'll be keeping a record here as well. I've already found myself looking back at blog entries and flickr posts of my garden last summer and it's reminded me of when I planted and harvested stuff and how much, etc (I've re-read last year's journal as well, but I think the photos are more helpful). I hope you enjoy my gardening ramblings, but this is also my reference for next year as well. Phew. This is going to be a delicious summer.

10 June 2008

roid...pola roid

Yes, people, I have a new toy. I'd been thinking about it for a while. But then, with the whole, you know, tragedy, I thought it was sort of pointless. I mean, why the heck would anyone start using a camera after finding out that the film for said camera is no longer being made? What kind of masochistic person would do that? Um, *waving* that would be me.

In any case, I made my mom dig out their old polaroid (thanks mom!), which apparently they got for free from Huggies (yes the diaper company) when I was a baby (or was it before I was born?). I've been told that since it was a perk of the diapers that I was using, the camera is technically mine. (Although my mom was the one changing said diapers, so I'm thinking she should get the credit here). She also discovered my dad's Polaroid Land 95B, which he had gotten as a gift for his Bar Mitzvah (um, for you non-Jews, that's when you turn thirteen). Not to give anything away here, but that was approximately 50 years ago. Plus or minus a few...He won't give it to me- I think he mostly doesn't want to pay for the shipping- apparently the thing weighs about 45 pounds-which is just fine with me. I didn't, however, pass up the opportunity to let him know that they're selling for approximately ten dollars on ebay (sorry to burst your bubble dad!). Plus or minus a few. (It's still cool, and I'm certainly not letting him ditch it).

Regardless, I am now a proud owner of a Polaroid Spirit 600. And I couldn't be happier. Especially since it was waiting for us when we returned from camping, where the digi camera went, temporarily, out of commission. So I hopped right over to walgreens and picked up the two film packs they had on the rack. Then I promptly ordered six more packs on ebay.

At first, I was a bit hesitant to use it (at which point Jared told me I'd never make it as a National Geographic photographer- luckily that's not my goal in life). But now, well, now I'm trying to hold myself back. Unsuccessfully.

People, we may have a problem. Or not. I know that my time with the Spirit will be limited, but I figure I'll just enjoy it while I can. Isn't that what life is all about?

While we're on the polaroid thing here, have you all seen this? I'm so excited (I actually pre-ordered a copy!). There are a gazillion beautiful polaroid links out there--I just can't start sharing them all right now, or else I'll never make it out alive. But you must check out this one. And this one. Okay, okay, that's enough. For now...

09 June 2008

and now we're back (well, one of us)

The camping was good, thank you for all your well wishes on our little mini vacation. Really, though, we were barely gone for twenty-four hours. And I'm beginning to think that we're not so into this whole car camping deal. I didn't grow up camping (except for occasionally pitching a tent in the backyard of my parents' country house, but I'm just not sure if that counts). The first real camping experience that I had was when I lived in Vermont during college. I later learned that the kind of camping that I did then, was really more "backpacking" than "camping." In Minnesota, camping tends to be almost like an alternative to staying in a motel. Your tent is just next to your car. Generally you have a huge tent. And bikes. And lots of food. Way more "stuff" than you would have if you had to carry everything to your campsite for a few miles. To me, it's kinda weird. But we did discover "cart-in camping" (literally, they give you a cart, not unlike a wheelbarrow, and you can wheel your stuff to a more secluded campsite), and we're thinking this might just be the path for us next time.

But alas, it was really nice to get away. We walked, we talked, we cooked, we ate, we slept, we read. The downer came just a few hours into the trip. After we had arrived and set up our tent. I decided we should go for a short hike. It turned out to be quite a steep (and quite wet and slippery) trail down to the Mississippi. Jared slipped and dropped the camera (and by the camera, I really mean his camera, despite my having staked a claim to it). The lens will not move. So, the baby is being shipped off to Canon tomorrow morning, hopefully to be returned in 10-14 business days fully restored. Luckily, I brought the old canon too.

Here are some of the photos from that first hike (more here). The rest are still in my camera, so I'll share those when they're ready. I was a bit disappointed with some of these photographs when I picked them up this afternoon. So I'm working on learning more about my camera and how to use it. Like, um, adjusting the aperture and shutter speed (seriously, guessing isn't really a good method. This is much better).

And now, Jared is off to San Francisco for a couple of weeks. And I've got myself some serious lists. I'm hoping to be pretty productive here on the homefront. So, until the return of the newer canon, things may be a bit slow here. I do have a couple of projects to share with you (and a garden update!), so I'll be back later this week.

06 June 2008

and we're off!

Jared and I are going camping for a night before he heads out to San Francisco for a few weeks. I'm working on fulfilling my summer manifesto (go camping at 3 times and visiting more of the 10,000 lakes) even though we're not having very summery weather right now. I'm hoping we don't get too wet, or blown away in the crazy winds we're having!
Happy weekend friends!

04 June 2008

a first date...of sorts

Have you all seen Jen's first date cake? Okay, don't get any ideas here. There was no cake baking last night (though I'm really hoping she makes that for me if I ever visit her). I was hoping to make cookies, but, um, making a from scratch dinner for guests starting when you get home from work that day is a little hard. Did you all know that? Well I didn't. Not to mention Jared was working until about an hour before they arrived (at which point I sent him straight to work putting his studio back together so as to avoid the mountain of boxes and audio equipment that had been littering our living room and entryway) so I was flying solo on the cooking there.

So I had to let a few things go (like the aforementioned cookies, and cleaning the bathroom). But it turned out delicious. And having new friends over (not to mention the new friends' new baby too!) is super fun. Of late, I've become semi notorious for trying brand new recipes for company, something about which my mom has repeatedly warned me. It has not yet come back to bite me as so fare everything has turned out quite delicious. (I thank my best friend--Veganomicon--for that miracle).

Last night, the main course was Veganomicon's chickpea cutlets (I know they don't look all that appetizing in the photo, but they were. I promise). I doubled the recipe hoping that there would be at least a little bit of leftovers. No luck. They flew out of the pan. I also made some olive bread with the european peasant bread recipe from my other best friend--Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Also no luck with the leftovers. In any case, it was delicious and fun. And I can't wait to do it again.

Chickpea Cutlets (from Veganomicon)
A couple of quick notes: This recipe makes 4 cutlets, if you're serving more that 2 adults, or want leftovers, I would highly recommend doubling (or even tripling) this. Also, I always soak and cook my chickpeas from dried chickpeas. If you're doing that, make sure that the chickpeas are really well cooked (maybe even overcooked) because you have to mash them really well, and if they're even a little bit hard, it will not be so fun to mash them (trust me).

1 cup cooked chickpeas
2 tbl olive oil plus more for panfrying
1/2 cup vital wheat gluten
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1/4 cup water or veg. broth
2 tbl soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, pressed or very finely minced
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 tsp dried rubbed sage

In a large mixing bowl, mash the chickpeas together with the olive oil until no whole chickpeas are left. Add the remaining ingredients and knead for about 3 minutes until strings of gluten have formed (it will feel kind of elastic-y).

Preheat a large skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, divide the cutlet dough into four equal pieces. To form the cutlets, knead each piece in your hand for a few moments and then flatten and stretch each one out into a roughly 4"x6" rectangular shape. The easiest way to do this is to first form a rectangular shape in your hands and then place the cutlets on a clean surface to flatten and stretch them out.

Add a moderately thin layer of olive oil to the bottom of the pan (if you use too much, it will take longer for them to cook well and they won't get as crispy). Place the cutlets in the pan and cook on each side for about 6-7 minutes. Add more oil, if necessary, when you flip the cutlets. They're ready when lightly browned and firm to the touch.

Just in case you're wondering, you can also bake these too! Baking these patties gives them a toothsome chewy texture and firm bite. Preheat the oven to 375, lightly oil a baking sheet. Brush both sides of the patty with olive oil, place on baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Flip patties and bake another 8-10 minutes, until firm and golden brown.

**The book recommends a mustard sauce, which I think would have been delicious, but I didn't have time (or all the ingredients) to make it, so I served it with no sauce, and it was delicious that way too.

03 June 2008

procrastination nation

If I am guilty of anything in my life (and I know there is more than one thing), it is being a horrible procrastinator. It's actually something that I'm really working on. Emily said that one of her New Year's resolutions this year was to "do, don't put off" and I'm really trying to do the same. In early March (eep!) Klay tagged me for this meme. It was the first one I'd ever been tagged for and I was really excited to do it. Umm. It's June people. Also, around that very same time, Angela tagged me with a "you make my day" award and wrote the sweetest thing about me. (Just so you know, Angela, if we lived closeby, I think we'd be hanging out a lot too). So here we are. Months later and I'm getting down to business.

The meme...

What were you doing 10 years ago?
I was getting ready to go on a six week summer program to Nepal that involved being on a plane for twenty-five hours (each way), trekking part of the Annapurna circuit, drinking yak butter tea, teaching English, painting a very inaccurate world map, learning some Nepali, eating some of the best food of my life, and learning a lot about life, the world, and people who aren't like me in some ways and who are like me in many ways.

What were you doing 1 year ago?
I have to say that one year ago, I was pretty much doing the same thing I'm doing now. Planting my garden (though last year was the first time ever), working, biking a lot, looking forward to summer. Oh yeah, and I was waiting for our car to get fixed.

Five snacks you enjoy:

::Bread, and lots of it.
::Cheese, specifically Cabot extra sharp cheddar (I actually really love the seriously sharp, but I think they only sell that in Vermont).
::Stove popped popcorn topped with salt and nutritional yeast
::Black beans with hot sauce, tomatoes, and avocado.
::Chocolate chip cookies.

Five things you'd do if you were a millionaire:

::Donate more money.
::Buy more art.
::Buy more handmade clothing.
::Travel more (top of my list right now are Peru and Hawai'i) and visit friends and family more often.
::Open a bakery.

Five bad habits:
::Eating popcorn for dinner (see above about favorite snacks).
::Spending too much time on the computer (if I'm looking at blogs and flickr, is it still a bad habit?).
::Not finishing birthday presents in time (somehow this feels separate from procrastination in general).
::Singing out of tune.

Five things you like doing:
::Making lists.
::Waking up without an alarm.
::Biking on the greenway.
::Writing letters.
::Doing the dishes first thing in the morning (I know this sounds crazy, but I really don't mind washing dishes, and it's nice to have a sense of accomplishment so early in the morning).

Five things you'd never wear again:

::The first skirt I ever sewed (by hand, out of a pillowcase, and not hemmed).
::Jnco jeans (remember those?)
::Baby tees (those tiny tee shirts, um yeah).
::liquid eyeliner (well, at least the way I used to wear it in high school).
::dog tags

Five favorite toys:

::Sewing machine.
::My canonet (old film camera)
::A trowel (okay, not really, but it was the only gardening related thing I could think of)
::Computer (read: flickr and blogs)

So there you have it, more random facts about me than you probably cared to ever know. If any of you feel like playing along and sharing some random facts with the rest of us, please do.