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last week we feasted

maura @ 9:13 pm

…on delicious pizza. And because it was my turn, I wrote a few hundred words about it. But not here. Elsewhere.

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bon appetit!

maura @ 9:52 pm

We are finally getting around to watching Julie & Julia. With the debt that we owe the late Mrs. Child (for me it’s mostly a caloric debt, but still), what the heck took us so long? Well, we tend not to squander sitter time on movies since it is possible to watch movies at home, and prefer to save it up for museums or dinners that don’t involve chicken nuggets or pizza. Of course, now that we’re watching it we see that we totally could have dragged Gus to see it,* though he probably would have been bored.

* We don’t tend to take him to any even remotely scandalous movies, though that streak may change tomorrow when we all go to see Avatar. But friends of his have seen it, prompting this hilarious summary: “There were these blue guys. They were the avatars. And they had a tree. And they really loved their tree. Then there was a fight.” So we feel like it’s probably going to be okay.

So far I totally agree with what everyone said: the Julia parts are wonderful, and the Julie bits fall flat. I kind of feel bad for Amy Adams: she’s a good actress, but who could compete with Meryl Streep in that towering role? It’s such a sweet movie, too, and Stanley Tucci is fantastic. I think I’ll have to read the book now (which, of course, we already own).

We didn’t get to finish it last night because Gus woke up twice and then it was suddenly after midnight and I have just been too tired lately to be staying up like a teenager. We paused shortly after Julia and Paul were packing up their Paris kitchen and I thought: “Hey, Jonathan has an orange Le Creuset pot just like that! Except his is oval and hers was circular.” I’m sure there are actual chef-y names for them like “stockpot” and “casserole” but I’ll never find out unless we finish that dang movie so bye!

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c is for cookie

maura @ 9:28 pm

Last week, in honor of the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street, Google had a different Sesame-themed logo each day. I happened to be teaching many of those days and it kept cracking me up every time we used Google for searching in class. Cookie Monster was the funniest — his eyeballs were the “oo” in Google

This week I had many meetings with pastries, which kind of takes the edge off having many meetings. After today’s meeting (2 cookies: oatmeal raisin and chocolate w/white chocolate chips) I was thinking about different kinds of desserts. And I kept on thinking after dinner, too (raspberry meringue sandwich cookie).

So here’s Maura’s Hierarchy of Desserts (in order of preference):

1. Cookies: More often than not if there’s a dessert choice I will pick something in the baked goods category. Cookies are usually the winner, beating out cake ever so slightly (see below). I mostly don’t want a huge pile of dessert, so cookies are a good choice. And I often like to have a couple of different flavor options, which is also possible with cookies. These days we’ve got our xmas cookie baking down to a science and most of my favorites are in there: a delicious iced molasses-spice cookie, good old reliable peanut butter cookies, butter cookie sandwiches with raspberry and apricot jam, and your basic chocolate chip cookie (though oatmeal chocolate chip is another tasty option).

2. Cakes: To be fair, I do like cakes, too. I include brownies in the cakes category, though if they’re too chocolatey I will often pass. For the longest time when I was growing up my birthday cakes were always chocolate cake with vanilla frosting. Jonathan makes a mean chocolate cupcake, so these days we usually have that for my birthday, too. But I also like the traditional old yellow cake with chocolate frosting. And red velvet cake and applesauce cake and gingerbread and pound cake and …

One thing I am very particular about is the ratio of cake to frosting. I can’t really deal with tons of frosting, esp. if it’s that fakey sugary supermarket frosting. I’d much rather have a smaller amt of buttercream or even a nice glaze. I don’t like puddings/custard/flan/etc. at all so I’m sure the frosting thing is of the same ilk.

3. Chocolate: Of course I like chocolate, who doesn’t? It’s clearly the most superior of all candies. I used to love dark chocolate best, but now I can groove on milk chocolate, too. I wish we had better chocolate in this country (= less sugary); whenever we travel we always come back loaded down with better chocolate bars from other places. A well-timed piece of chocolate can really brighten your day.

4. Other candy: Other, non-chocolate kinds of candy can be nice, too, mainly of the sour fruit or cinnamon variety. Like Lemonheads and Red Hots, yum. Also Dum-Dums — my dad’s parents used to keep a bag of these in a drawer in their kitchen when I was little.

5. Ice cream: I do like ice cream, despite what some people keep saying, really I do. But I will admit that it’s not my favorite kind of dessert. Mostly I like vanilla with chunks of stuff in it (chocolate, caramel, etc.). And the grownup flavors like maple walnut, cinnamon, sweet cream, and coffee. I’m happy to occasionally head to the schmantzy ice cream place around the corner from us and have a cup or cone, but it doesn’t haunt my dreams.

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i’m an alligator

maura @ 9:10 pm

What is it about this summer? I’m feeling very blag-challenged lately. Maybe it’s because I’ve been spending too much time with those hip new kids, facebook + twitter. But I’m taking a break from them this week and it’s all about YOU, blag. I still love you best.

Last night, for a variety of reasons, there wasn’t much food in the house to pack for my lunch. So I cooked something! Well, it’s a cold salad, so nothing was actually cooked. But I chopped things up and mixed them together in the proportions Jonathan dictated to me. And there’s enough for at least 3 days of lunch, so I feel victorious.

We’ll call this one: Johnny’s Take on Prune‘s Black-Eyed Pea Salad (thank you Gabrielle Hamilton!)

1. Open a can of black-eyed peas, rinse them just a little bit, and dump into a big metal bowl.

2. Grab a bag of frozen corn, dump it into a colander and rinse with hot water to defrost them. Dump into big metal bowl.

3. Wash and halve a container of cherry or grape tomatoes and, you guessed it, into the bowl they go.

4. Really you should dice a nice-sized shallot at this point, but we didn’t have any so we subbed in a few scallions. Wash, chop, put in bowl.

5. Fresh parsley: wash and ask your sous-chef to chop them (I hate chopping! It is at least 80% of the reason I don’t like to cook). You can put them in the bowl, though.

6. Secret ingredient: gherkins! Any size gherkin pickle will do. Sometimes we use cornichons, but last night we only had the big guys. Roughly chop at least 3 big pickles — it will look like a lot but trust me, you need them!

7. Secret ingredient #2: gherkin juice! Put the lid on the jar and shake it up, then splash a few good pours into the bowl. How much? Well, you don’t want it to be soupy (and the tomatoes will shed water too), but there should be some liquid in the bottom of the bowl.

8. Pour some olive oil over the whole mess. Jonathan had me count to 20, but I counted fast. Remember that olive oil is good for you!

9. Salt + pepper to taste. Mix it all up and taste it. If you need to add more salt the next night, that’s okay.

10. Use the spoon to push everything down to the bottom of the bowl so it call all marinate together overnight. Mmmm, mingly flavors!

Voila! The perfect summer lunch, no hot stove required. Have a thick slice of sourdough bread with roquefort alongside, or even mix in couscous to make a complete meal.

les tags:

brandy on the carpet and chartreuse on the armchair

maura @ 9:29 pm

Can someone please tell me why we have not managed to make it to the Red Hook Pool until today? Seriously, we are dumb! Because a fantastic time was had by all three Smillers today. First stop: the pool, which is just enormous: a 4′ pool the size of Rhode Island with a 1′ kiddie pool + sprinklers right next to it (with easy parking right out front!). The sun was punishing, but there was a little shade on the edges and the pool was so nice and cool, it didn’t even matter that it was 90 zillion degrees out.

Next stop, the soccer field catty-corner to the pool, around which vendors sell incredible, amazing, freshly cooked Latin American food. J + I split a meltingly delicious chicken tamale and an enormous chorizo taco (with a handmade tortilla!). Gus, Senor Picky Eater, shocked us by wolfing down a pupusa con queso, which was even more surprising as he’d spent the walk from the pool to the vendors whining that he wanted a hot dog, just a hot dog, a hooooooooot dooooooooooog. And we washed it all down with a limeade. Yum!

As if that could even be topped, we decided to pull out all the calorie stops and head over to Baked (best. bakery. name. ever.) for a sugar fix (a.k.a. desperate attempt to keep Gus from falling asleep in the car on the way home*). We split a yummy lemon cake (with lemon curd between the layers and lemon buttercream frosting) and brought home a lemon lime bar and this crazy peanut butter + chocolate cake. Yum YUM!

And no, we didn’t go to Fairway (ample parking be damned, how could we ever cheat on the Food Coop?). Red Hook is so pretty, so urban yet so quiet, like a small town in the city. I think we shall go every weekend!

* which didn’t work: he was out by the time we crossed the Gowanus. We parked the car on our street and then everyone napped for 45 minutes.

In other news, that cute blond monkey named Veronica Mars is finally off our back. We watched the finale of season 2 last night. Two whole seasons in 24 days, is that some sort of record? Some sort of dorks-with-no-life record, maybe. ANYway the finale was satisfying in some ways (Veronica + Logan TLA! Bye-bye Harry Hamlin! And of course we knew the Mayor would turn into a demon!) but not in others: hello, BEAVER is the evil mastermind??? That just seems kind of contrived. And the Jackie with a kid thing is kind of lame, too. But we will be front and center for season three, on that new weird country + western network. Yee-hah!

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when there is nothing left to burn you have to set yourself on fire

maura @ 10:05 pm

What a difference 13 days make! I’m sure you’ll be happy to hear that my wounds are nearly completely healed now, with the exception of my knee. Of course I reopened that puppy by banging into the coffee table tonight while I was “playing” Mousetrap* with Gus. Duh for me. On the bright side, the face wounds have healed scab-free and are completely makeupable. If I’m wearing pants, no one even has to know how much of an idiot I am!

* “playing” Mousetrap with Gus involves setting up the whole trap mechanism and having him trap mice, in this case the red + yellow mice, repeatedly. No actual turns are taken, no actual game is played. It’s mind-numbing, but in a fairly inoffensive way.

So I’ve been meaning to expound on Anne’s comment from last week that the found stroller is cursed. You know, I think she may be onto something! Since I found that stroller we have been sick and sick. AND, last week my computer’s hard drive crapped out! Luckily I live in Nerd House, where there are 3 other computers to choose from, though I miss mine, a lampy iMac. Since then I’ve been on a PC where things are uglier. I’m so sorry for your ugliness, dear PC-users.

At first I thought the curse was an unhealthy curse. I found that stroller on the way home from the gym, and all the illness + injury has kept me from going to the gym much. But then the busted computer, I don’t know how that fits in. I mean, it is 3 yrs old, though I must admit I’ve never had a hard drive die on me. Anne, any ideas?

My friend S said, “are you going to get rid of that stroller?” and Jonathan was like, “no, we cannot, I LOVE it.” So there you go.

And in the making lemonade department, we used the computer fixit shop errand as an excuse to have lunch at Shake Shack, where we’ve been wanting to go forever. Gus ate his weight (about 28 lbs.) in cheeseburger, fries and chocolate milkshake, which astonished us. And it was yuuuuuuuuuummy.

And in other weekend news, my mom came up for a sleepover with Gus, and we hightailed it way across the river for a hotel date night. We stayed here, ate here, saw this and drank this (little cans! bendy straws! so festive!) staring out the window of our room. The next morning we slept til almost 8:30am! Such is the childfree life. Of course, we had to run back to Brooklyn quick because we missed that kid so much, but what are you going to do.

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jump in, jump out

maura @ 12:41 pm

Ooh, I have a whole hour between now and when I need to pick up Gus from school, yay for free time! (And look, I’m getting a handle on that OCD thing by NOT cleaning the bathroom right now, even though it really needs it. Go me!)

Since our last chat, we’ve all been sick here. AGAIN. Last week Gus had an ear infection (Tu), double pinkeye* (Th) and strep throat (Sa) [AGAIN]. I did feel pretty bad for the poor kid — much of the time he just wanted to sit on my lap and watch videos, which he never does normally so he must’ve been feeling pretty bad. Then Jonathan got sick, some sort of strep-like bacterial throat thing, so now I am the only person in the house NOT on antibiotics (though I have a sore throat, too, but it hasn’t gotten worse than that). And of course now Jonathan has a cold. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: kids are germy.

* and here I would just like to point out that if you can love your kid when they have evil caterpillars of chartreuse (“a color that I have not seen”) goop coming out of the corners of their eyes, you pass the parenting test.

What was a huge drag about the sick thing was that my mom had come up over the weekend to have a sleepover with Gus, and Jonathan + I were going to have a hotel date (the first time we’d have ever been away from Gus overnight). But then he got sick, so those plans were scuttled. Instead we went out to dinner in Manhattan, which was a very decent alternative. We narrowly got a table at Prune, a new (to us, but really 3 yrs old I think?) place in the East Village. And it ROCKED. ComPLETEly lived up to our expectations. We had cocktails (Pimm’s Cup! I am so girly!) and sweetbreads (deep fried!) and suckling pig with garlic mayo and cornmeal poundcake with strawberries and braised lettuce, peas and artichokes in butter sauce. Yum yum yummy yum. And my new favorite summer wine ever, Ca’ del Solo’s Big House Pink. I’m going to make my neighbors go in on a case of it with us so we can make it our sandbox + baby pool wine this year.

Non sequitur of the post: someone at work got the new Pipas CD (yay iTunes shared library!). Thank you, baba alligator, whoever you are!

Man, am I actually out of things to say? How can that be? What can I talk about? How I read Unconditional Parenting again and it really has made a huge impact, yet even so Gus stuck an index card + a toy coin into the VCR last night, [temporarily, thankfully] busting it? I really want to get the apt. painted but I am too stingy to pay someone and Jonathan is too realistic about our moods to not pay someone? How I am already so very looking forward to our 4th of July visit to J’s parents in Indiana (Gus usually wants nothing to do with us there so we have lots of free time: last year I RAN OUT of books to read!)? How Jonathan’s been pretty busy with work lately so hasn’t had time to work on a new design for this, and I really should make one my damn self? How long my to do list is? Uh oh, I’m starting to freak the OCD again, I should go and load the dishwasher. Later.

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so so so busy

maura @ 1:36 pm

but jonathan sent me this link and it just cries out to be posted: this is the blog of the main buyer at the coop. get yer fresh coop news here, including such tasty tidbits as why you can’t get grade b maple syrup in ny state anymore (how will anyone ever do the master cleanser fast???).

in all seriousness, we in this household are mightily pissed off about the maple syrup thing. luckily we’re visiting my dad in vermont very soon, mostly likely with an empty suitcase in tow.

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