Sunday, April 30, 2006

A story in pictures


A Village street, en route to brunch.

The interior of Miracle. Cue Mike and the Mechanics: "All I need is a miracle, all I need is youuuu..."

My friend TN.

Blue cornmeal Miracle pancakes.

A dog who didn't like the flash; he backed away when I took out my camera. I snapped him unawares.

Random Central Park shot.

Random Central Park shot 2.

Pond filled with tiny sailboats, too small for people.

One duck is mad at the other; he is swimming away.

A cocker spaniel with an X-and-O collar. I want to know how dog photographers do it. I bet they bribe them to stay still with food.

T patting the doggie.

Alice in Wonderland statue, being hugged by a kid.

Awesome cocker spaniel. S/he looks somewhat menacing in this photo, but then s/he jumped up and kissed me all over the face. (Don't worry, I washed up when I got home.)


Doggie on the subway. The owner said indignantly, "Some people think he looks like...rat!"

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Give her five

AT sent us a clipping in the mail from a paper entitled, simply, "Metro" - about a guy who must've been reading too much Kafka - "The Hunger Artist" in particular.

"Playwright and author Norbert Abourdaham, 57, locked himself in a cage at the Amiens zoo last week. He said he is seeking inspiration to write a new play about pandas. 'If you want to write about the universe you need to put yourself in a cage smaller than the universe,' Aboudarham said. 'It's a really exhausting experience,' he added, sitting next to the zoo's pandas, raccoons and other animals." Hmm.

I saw the chiropractor today. My back always feels really good after I go. He was still apologizing profusely for being en route to Italy the last time I called, though I assured him it was ok. One of his other clients apparently saw someone else in his absence! But he returned after his brief defection. The chiro loved Italy. "We went to Positano...we stayed in my friend's house in a mountain, looking out over the beach...it was so beautiful," he enthused. For some reason, one of the things I remember most about Italy (we went in 2004) was a dessert served in half a cantaloupe shell, stuffed with cantaloupe balls and vanilla ice cream. Very simple and tasty.

On the way back, I met a dog who was a little shy. "Give her five!" the owner urged. Finally the dog came up and gave me five, with its paw resting in my hand. Very cute.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Tonight's dinner

Here's what we had for dinner:

It was really quite yummy. I used Crystal's recipe for Honey-Glazed Tofu, with a couple modifications. Basically, you get a pound of firm or extra-firm tofu, press out the water, cut it in 1/2-inch cubes, salt it and saute it in 2 T olive oil over medium-high heat, flipping the cubes until they're browned. In the meanwhile, whisk together 2 T honey, 1 T soy sauce, 2 T water and 1 t Thai chili sauce. When the tofu is browned, toss in the honey sauce, shake it up and saute it for 1-2 min, until the tofu is nicely glazed.

On the side is a broccoli-baby corn stirfry from Nava Atlas. You pour 1/4 c sherry and 1 t sesame oil into a stirfry pan, add 4 c broccoli florets and 1 chopped carrot, and saute until the broccoli is bright green and crisp-tender. Then you add a can of drained baby corn and some salt, and heat the corn through.

I probably won't be going to DC. D is going on the bike ride, but my housing options fell through. Another time...

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Aargh. I can't get to sleep.

A confession: D and I watched Pretty Woman on TBS last night. Twice. Well, the thing is, we started at the point where Richard Gere and Jason Alexander (aka George Costanza) were talking in Richard's office about how they don't create things, they destroy them. On the second go-round, we watched it up to that point. So between the two viewings, we covered the whole movie.

I like that movie a lot. A couple of problems:

1) It's really money-focused. I hate it when Richard Gere says, "We both screw people for money." I like things to be a bit more romantic.

2) Some of the songs in it are sappy. Most of them are in the guilty-pleasure category ("Must have been love/But it's over now" and "I'll get over you, I know I will") but there is a Kenny G number when Julia Roberts is waiting for Richard to get home from the office which simply. Must. Go. I love the scene in one of the Wayne's World movies where Garth is trapped in a dentist's chair listening to Kenny G and squirming madly.

D's latest plan: he might drive to Philly with ML and then they would ride their bikes from Philly to DC. He suggested that I could take Amtrak to DC. However, it's not a sure thing yet because the route is longer than D thought, and ML may not want to accompany him. To be continued...

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Weekend thoughts

This morning I made vegan pancakes for me, TN and D. They were nice and fluffy and tasty. Didn't miss the eggs at all. If you're interested in trying them, just mix 2/3 c whole wheat flour, 1/3 c quick-cooking oats (but not instant), and 1 t baking powder in a bowl; mix 1 mashed banana, 1 t vanilla extract, and 1/2 c soy milk in another bowl; then add the wet ingredients to the dry, and fold in 1/2 c blueberries. (From Table for Two by Joanne Stepaniak.) The cookbook recommended spraying the pan with oil, but then it started to smoke, so I added a capful of canola oil.

Then T and I saw Friends with Money. The movie kind of gave me a bad feeling. The people in it were kind of ambling around pointlessly. They all had these problems they weren't doing anything about. Well, Jennifer Aniston's character was trying to improve her circumstances, but her friend Joan Cusack (the least likeable character) wasn't helping her. It did have a (sort of) happy ending, but I was left feeling like I didn't get it. I think it needed to be fleshed out more, with the issues more squarely addressed and resolved. The thing is, Us Weekly raved about it, saying it was Aniston's best role since Friends. I have to disagree. I liked Friends, but for some reason she doesn't translate to the big screen. Maybe she's best at playing Rachel.

I finished my booky! (The one I'm writing.) Now I'm doing revisions. Eventually I'll show it to my former writing teacher and ask for her advice. She's also an agent, so she has a good eye for revisions.

I taught 2 classes yesterday. I had kind of a 24-hour cold (mostly gone today) and my head was all fuzzy. But a girl came up to me after class and asked where else I taught, and gave me her e-mail so I could tell her when I was teaching. So maybe the fuzziness didn't show.

I'm reading a book called Pug Hill by Alison Pace. It's cute. Apparently in Central Park at East 74th Street, there's a hill where all the pugs (and their owners) congregate. I want to go there sometime. Maybe I'll take pictures :)

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Vegetable personalities

At the risk that you'll all think I'm nuts...but heck. I was getting cauliflower ready for dinner and it occurred to me that vegetables have different personalities. In my mind, anyway.

Zucchini: the most agreeable of vegetables. It blends in with everyone, but it's never obsequious or false to itself.

Sweet potatoes: the grandmother of vegetables. Very cozy and welcoming.

Cauliflower: kind of bland, devoid of personality, but it could surprise you sometimes. Like a dull guy who occasionally tells a funny joke at the water cooler.

Broccoli: feisty. Like a terrier.

Spinach: kind of dour, but a loyal friend.

Kale: has a fierce sense of individuality, but like spinach, is a loyal friend. Kale's affections last for life.

Corn: this one is kind of a party animal. Corn is still drinking beer and making a mess when you'd like to be closing up.

Tomatoes: a little sloppy. The kind of vegetable that needs to be reminded to tuck its shirt into its pants.

Cabbage: not invited to my party.

Eggplant: that girl you don't like, but you're not sure why.

Carrots: sweet and buoyant, like a toddler.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Billy!

Just got back from the concert. Like Liz, we had the nosebleed seats; but it didn't diminish the experience any. It was so good! At first I was disturbed by thoughts of him sleeping with his 26-year-old wife (who was 14 when I last saw him in concert!) but then I realized Christie broke up with him and he'd probably still be with her if she hadn't. Then I settled back and enjoyed the show ;)

He was a little stingy with the love songs, as ever - maybe he doesn't like to sing them or they remind him of Christie? Which is a shame because in my opinion he's written some of the best ones. "Just the Way You Are," "She's Always a Woman to Me," "She's Got a Way", I could go on...He did sing "An Innocent Man" and "She's Always a Woman to Me".

At the '94 concert he said, "Last time I played here [in Massachusetts] I was a married man. NOT ANYMORE!" He also did a handstand to "Big Shot". He's no longer bitter, but not doing handstands either. When he sang "Goodnight Saigon", the lights shone on a row of soldiers at the back of the stage. He also told us he broke a record - most sold-out concerts on a tour.

At first he was playing a few too many obscure songs ("Great Wall of China", "Zanzibar"???) but then he settled into the favorites. I predicted he'd do two or three encores and he did three - "Only the Good Die Young" (which always makes me a little wistful - all the good, dead people), "Scenes from an Italian Restaurant", and "Piano Man."

Does anyone else have a mental picture of Brenda and Eddie from the "Italian Restaurant"? Brenda has a round face and a big smile, with black hair cut chin-length. She's smiling as she waves goodbye. Eddie is a football player with close-cropped blond hair and a bit of a paunch as he gets older. He slaps other guys on the back and has a glass of cold beer in his hand. I liked the red and white lights to signify the bottle of red, the bottle of white.

As a nice added touch, tuxedoed waiters were circulating with cups of champagne with strawberries. The cups looked beautiful with the stage lights shining through them - pink, then gold.

When he sang "New York State of Mind" - "Some folks go to Miami Beach or to Hollywood...but I'm taking a Greyhound, Hudson River Line/I'm in a New York state of mind"...everyone was like, "YEAH."

He did take out his guitar at one point so I KNEW he was going to play "A Matter of Trust." I remember seeing the video for that nonstop in, what was it, '88? I worked with a guy once who said, "Billy, put the guitar away. Play the piano." But it was fine ;)

One of the funniest moments was when he said, "This is Chainsaw. He's going to sing a religious song." Then this crazy guy in baggy shorts started singing AC/DC, blaring "HIGHWAY TO HELL." Not what I expected ;)

A tofu reawakening


Well, we had the most fabulous dinner tonight. And I made it myself :)

On the side, I served up kale sauteed in vegetable broth (Health Valley is my favorite). I cooked some brown basmati rice. The tofu recipe is as follows (from Didi Emmons' Entertaining for a Vegetarian Planet):

Sesame-Crunch Tofu

You'll need 16 oz firm tofu, 2 T tamari, 1 T toasted sesame oil, 1 T peeled and minced fresh ginger, 1 T minced garlic, 1/2 c all-purpose flour (though a 1/4 c would probably do in a pinch), 2 T toasted sesame seeds, and 2 T canola oil. (T = tablespoon.)

Press the tofu (I like to use 2 plates with 2 cookbooks on top) till most of the liquid is gone. Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch cubes. Combine the soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic and mix well. Add the tofu, turning gently to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.

In a pie pan or wide bowl, combine the flour and sesame seeds and mix well. Drain the tofu pieces in a colander set over a bowl, saving the marinade. (Note: my tofu was very absorbent and no marinade was left over. It was great anyway.)

In a large skillet, heat the canola oil over medium-high heat. Dredge the tofu cubes in the flour mixture, knocking any excess flour back into the bowl. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the tofu to the skillet. Pan-fry the tofu for about 7 minutes, flipping it over occasionally. Serve the tofu over rice.

YUM!

We're also going to see Billy Joel tonight - D's friend/client L bought us tickets. L is quite the ladykiller, though he is down from 3 to 0 girlfriends. I'm sure he will make a snappy comeback though.

TTYL...

Frighteningly large bed


Here is the new, huge mattress we got from Sleepy's. I didn't know how enormous it was going to be; D picked it out. We've both been having back problems, and we had a 10-year-old mattress, so we figured, why not get a new one?

Here's D standing by the bed, to emphasize how tall it is. OK, he's on his knees ;)

Here's the bear D gave me from FAO Schwartz one year, also to provide perspective. Funny, this one makes the bear *and* the bed look huge.

Maybe I should rename this "the gargantuan post"? The mattress is very thick and fluffy, it will take me a while to get used to.

In college we had very narrow, hard beds. They were called "chastity beds". For reasons unknown to anyone (the student body was not particularly tall), they *were* extra-long. We were warned in all our orientation materials to bring very long sheets.

Gone but not forgotten

Rudolph is still making his presence felt, though we haven't seen him in a while. Let me explain.

A week or two ago, maintenance visited. The fellow looked dismissively behind our stove, explained that he couldn't possibly be coming in through there, and drilled new grate covers in the living room and bedroom. I'd noticed that the covers - sort of metal criss-cross wiry things - no longer came all the way to the floor. But neither D nor I gave it a second thought. Mice = kitchens, no?

So, since the installation of the grate covers, Rudolph has not been seen. But as I entered the kitchen tonight, I thought I heard a scurrying noise. So I quickly flicked on the light, climbed onto a kitchen chair, and peeked behind the stove (even though he didn't come in through there, it WAS his favorite hiding place). I didn't see anything. But my forehead connected with the square computer plug, plugged into the outlet at -- forehead height. At least when you're standing on a chair.

Aargh. And I bruise like nobody's business. I can see myself teaching class this Saturday with a huge bruise unsuccessfully "covered" with makeup. After class, a concerned citizen will ask me about my husband.

Me: No really, I hit a -- computer plug with my head. While I was looking for a mouse behind the stove.

Concerned Citizen: Uh huh. Here...let me call Social Services for you.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Well, I just taught in Brooklyn, and I am officially a little bit in love with it. I'd never been susceptible to the charms of Park Slope before...I guess part of it was I was always there at night, when the brick can look a little bleak. But during the day, with the beautiful brownstones and low buildings and a Berkeley-like feel, I loved it.

After I taught, AT and I went to Connecticut Muffin, where we had some really good tomato basil soup and then we wandered around Prospect Park, which had people playing cricket ("they defend the wicket", AT explained) and many, many dogs, who were a bit shyer than their Manhattan counterparts. It was thoroughly beautiful and part of me just wanted to move there and nest.

Oh, and I got there really early for class so I sat on a bench near a fountain and finished up Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin. It was one of those books that gets stronger as it goes along until it has a fabulous ending. It's about the afterlife. In this book, people go to a place called Elsewhere after they die, form new relationships, and get younger and younger until they're born again as babies. I loved the ending but won't give it away here. In any case, I found the whole scenario immensely reassuring and found myself hoping it was true.

In the morning, D and I had brunch with TN. I got "Granny's pancakes," which were actually a little disappointing though I enjoyed the company. It was really nice spending Easter with friends. I hope you had a good one too.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Raspberry crumb cake

We had such a good lunch. It just needed to be posted about. We went to Angelica Kitchen; we haven't been there in ages because it's across town, but we figured out that the L train goes right there. Angelica Kitchen is a vegan restaurant named after the angelica herb (not related to pot, I don't think).

They have new specials every day, but if some of a special is left over from the day before, it is called "Still Special." They have terrible puns for the names of their other specials, but we will forgive them. We both got the Open Sesame, a nice, delicate sesame crepe stuffed with little squares of tofu, shiitake mushrooms, carrots, and sundry other vegetables with a little bit of topping and broccoli spears on the side.

The real highlight, however, was the raspberry crumb cake with pecan cream that we shared. It was truly delicious, with a perfect light, moist crumby texture, studded with little raspberries. I felt a little bit like I was floating after I ate it :)

Tonight I am teaching 2 classes in a row, then I'll meet AT and D at the Ayurveda Cafe, which I have never tried before. Everything is prix fixe and the cuisine is vegetarian Indian. Prix fixe doesn't imply expensive here - it's a very reasonable place. You tell them whether you want brown or white rice, and which beverage, and then they bring you a bunch of food. You can also get "refills" on everything. D was excited ;)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Seder

So tonight was Seder. I was going to call this post "a shiksa's sketch of Seder", but decided that was just too cutesy.

Seder requires stamina. It is still going on as we speak, but I was starting to get tired. It's funny, I always test as an extrovert but my social openness has batteries, and after a few hours they start to fade. After a while I need to lie down with a book.

Since it's a religious holiday, weighty topics were discussed. I learned the following (although I can't vouch for the veracity of any of it):

*Britney is pregnant again (although Us Weekly did a lengthy analysis of this and determined that no, she just hasn't lost the weight from Baby No. 1, which is entirely understandable).

*Tom is planning to separate from Katie after she births their Scientology babe. He will put her up in a mansion and attend to her financial needs.

My favorite thing about Seder is the charoset - a mixture of fruit, nuts, spices and wine, all ground up into a paste that may not look too appealing, but is actually quite yummy. All the "kids" (age range 30-34) cheated a bit here. You're supposed to make a matzoh sandwich with bitter herbs (maror) in the center, but we all attacked the charoset and gave the maror short shrift. I mean, really - sweet v. bitter? Is that a contest at all?

I'm teaching one class on Thursday and two on Friday. I'm considering buying a chocolate candle to burn during savasana. I probably won't though as I don't want to burn the studio down. Not pretty.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Excitement

We're going to see Madonna at Madison Square Garden on July 3! Woo! I've wanted to see her since I was 9.

List of folks I have seen in concert:
Elton John
Tiffany (New Kids on the Block opening - I know, I know)
Billy Joel
Indigo Girls
They Might Be Giants
Stevie Nicks
Sting
Tori Amos
U2

Lucky Number Slevin

I can't sleep, so I'll review a movie I saw this weekend instead. After dining with DG at Blossom (the restaurant that catered the yummy wedding we went to on Friday), we went to see Lucky Number Slevin. A few thoughts:

1) I hadn't seen Josh Hartnett since the regrettable 40 Days and 40 Nights. I think most people in that movie have sunk into oblivion (although I did see Shannyn Sossamon at a restaurant called VP II once. "Who?" you're thinking. She was the female lead from that movie). He is a little too pretty for a noir role, but he was also cheeky, and that helped.

2) It was very derivative...North by Northwest and Pulp Fiction both come to mind. It ultimately had less substance than either, but it was an entertaining ride. It was one of those movies that you come out of and you're surprised at how late it is.

3) It was way too violent. More so than Pulp Fiction, I'd say. Although maybe I'm just more impressionable than I was at 19. I do have a sort of reverse susceptibility to violence. I sat through so many horror movies when I was 13 and barely blinked an eye, but I found myself looking away from the screen for several parts of this movie. Must be all the yoga.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Celeb spotting

I just saw Ethan Hawke on 8th Ave between 22nd and 23rd. He had a child on his shoulders and was walking a dog. For once, I didn't look at the dog ;)

He's very good-looking in person, with his face slightly lined in a way that gives it character, and piercing blue eyes. I wasn't sure what to say, and thought it would be gauche to harass him, so I just smiled. He smiled back...and we continued...

Wedding photos

Last night, D and I went to a wedding at the Foundry in Queens. It was a vegan wedding; Liz inquired whether the shoes would be vegan as well, but I think there was definitely some leather footwear.


This was my undoing.

Our table, tucked in an alcove.

The bride and groom, dancing to "You are the Sunshine of My Life." ;)

The cutie shih tzu sitting in front of me during the ceremony. The bride and groom's dogs served as ring bearers.

Interior shot. The red Japanese lanterns were later hung up.

My dress :)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

What we did on Wednesday

I was cooking dinner (I got my camera back from the repair folk, so I can start taking pictures of food and other things again) when that little #@%7!* shot across the kitchen floor. Reluctantly, I plugged in the sonic devices I had unplugged because we hadn't seen Rudolph in so long. I also positioned the have-a-heart trap right in front of the gap between the oven and the wall.

The dinner itself was yummy. It involved sweet potatoes, edamame, grape tomatoes, garlic, ginger, carrots, garam masala and a little bit of brown sugar, all simmered together and spooned over rice.

I didn't feel the need to be in Rudolph's company, though he disappeared, so we decided to go to Bowlmor, a trendy bowling alley near NYU. Unfortunately, one floor was closed for renovations and the other was solidly booked. So we headed over to Teany Teas, Moby's vegan mecca on Rivington Street. I'm pretty sure our waitress was Kelly Tisdale, his ex-girlfriend who basically runs the place. I had white tea (peony and strawberry blend) and a slice of vegan strawberry shortcake, which I hadn't had in a few years but I remembered. It's the kind of dessert you don't forget. No hard, tasteless biscuit here. This was more of a layer cake with strawberries in between and a really luscious frosting. Yum.

Does anyone else feel sad when the meal is over?

Fun

I found this on a blog belonging to a friend of Kitkat's...it's really fun. If you go to myheritage.com and give them a picture, it will come up with celebrities whose faces most resemble yours.

Mine are, in order of resemblance:

Sinead O'Connor (my Irish heritage rearing its head)
Brigitte Bardot
Jessica Alba
Julianne Moore
Natalie Portman
Rachel Bilson
Preity Zinta (???)
Carmen Electra
Romy Schneider (???)
Jackie O

Feel free to list yours in the comment section...

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

This morning, I figured we should do something fun. To counteract winter. Yes, it's still winter here :(

Let me correct myself - there was no "morning" about it. I woke up at 11. Ever since Daylight Savings Time kicked in, I've been waking up way too late. Before I was waking up at 9:30. I want to rectify this in a way that doesn't involve an alarm clock. Any suggestions?

Anyhow, we went to Le Grainne in lieu of oatmeal. It's a very French cafe I'm sure I've written about before. They bring you French toast, not reliant on tons of eggs for flavor, but rather the quality of the bread; an orange cut in an elegant French way; a sprinkling of almonds; small tasty potatoes, in the mist; and a bowl of chopped fruit garnished with mint. They also bring you mustard in a small glass house. (Don't worry, I didn't put mustard on the French toast. And no one threw stones at the glass house...OUCH! I couldn't resist. ;)

Then I went to the Strand to pick up Angela's Ashes for D. I already read it, and he wants to, after we both read Teacher Man (which knocked our socks off). The guy at the store told me, "It's in a ridiculous location. Irish history. Because it's so historical. And when people put it in Literature, it keeps coming back." I pictured the book tiptoeing across the store. Anyway, it was a beautiful price...$3.95 for a brand-new-looking hardcover. Gotta love the Strand. I also picked up some trashy chick lit for myself, because the last book I finished was A Fine Balance, and although it was really good...it was also violently depressing.

I also met Friendly Louie, being walked by an old woman who really looked like she should have a cigar in her mouth. "He's a lovah," she told me. "Good as gold."

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Failure to launch

Well, D and I saw Failure to Launch tonight, and I was pleasantly surprised. It got bad reviews and all, but I enjoyed it. I thought Zooey Deschanel was great (as a sidekick with a meatier role than usual), and there were many classic scenes: the gun store, bird CPR, the vegetarian lizard, etc., etc. And there was probably some serious social commentary buried in there somewhere about the fact that none of us want to grow up - the current trendiness of perpetual young-ishness.

Matthew M had his usual lazy charm and SJP was only somewhat annoying. D, of course, found her violently annoying, but he deserves points for attending the movie and giving it a B. I would say A, A-. I might even buy it. Judged by the standards of the fun stupid movie genre (one of my favorite genres), it was near perfect, marred only by a clumsy boat-woman analogy.

Sadly, Rudolph (the mouse) is back. And this time *I* saw him. Before he was a kitchen phenomenon, and D saw him late at night. Then I added the steel wool and he was never seen again. Until today. I was reading "A Fine Balance" (not a smiley happy book, holding hands, but nonetheless a page-turner), got up in the trance that a good book can induce, and then a small brown mouse darted across the floor. OF THE BEDROOM.

So I'm whipping out the yellow pages. Why are there 9 million ads for Asian escorts and nothing under exterminators? Oh, right, I have to look under "Pest Control Services." I was thwarted, however, and got the answering machine when I called one of them. I guess they're not controlling any pests on Saturdays. I called D, alerted him to the situation, and next thing I know, he's coming home with a have-a-heart trap (actually spelled Havahart - ugh) and baiting it with soda bottle caps filled with oatmeal and peanut butter. (Actually, I added the peanut butter. I thought the mouse should have a full smorgasbord to choose from. And peanut butter has a stronger odor.)

There is a recent trend in spelling bee movies and plays. I saw a preview for one called Akeelah and the Bee, about a kid from the projects who makes it to the nationals against the odds, and you get the feeling she's going to win the nationals. And that makes me feel bad that I didn't win the nationals. But why am I threatened by a fictional character?!?

Oy.