March 18, 2013
R.I.P. Jason Molina.
May 11, 2012
I’ve gotten pretty comfortable improvising meals. Subsequently most of my cooking is done sans a recipe. Also, these days most of my internet browsing is done in a pretty cursory manner, so I don’t usually have a bunch of recipes lined up dying to be made. However, I wanted to share a few recipes that I’ve tried over the last few months and really enjoyed.
Both meals I’m going to share included a carrot soup. This is not as redundant as you might think. The soups were vastly different. See below a list of the only things said soups had in common:
- Contained s&p, onions, evoo and H2O
- Made by me
- Eaten by me
Soup A, served with a vegan butternut squash and almond gratin, was a puréed soup. It was a Bittman recipe, and despite only having two major ingredients (carrots and cumin) and two steps (roasting and puréeing), Soup A had great depth. I think this speaks volumes about a) roasting and b) cumin. Roasting is so easy, and it brings out the best flavors in vegetables, especially roots and tubers. Also, I’m a big cumin fan. It can overwhelm a dish if not used right, but the temptation to overuse cumin is forgivable given how good it is. This recipe was particularly “minimal” and — I’ll avoid using the word “balanced” lest I come off sounding like my goal in life is to be “centered”** — even.”
Anyway, I go to Bittman for recipes because he knows how to maximize and match the flavors of the few ingredients he chooses, and his recipes aren’t fussy. [End of solicitation.]
The gratin was absolutely delicious. I made a few changes, all of which I fully endorse. I doubled the paprika, ground mustard seed and turmeric. This is a pretty standard thing for me to do. I intermingled slices of onion (raw) with the slices of boiled squash pre-smothering-with-sauce. And I used more almond meal to top the gratin off. [Note: You might think that the gratin is not an appropriate dish for spring or summer, but it's not heavy because it's vegan, and the spices don't play into the squash's role as an autumn-y vegetable -- think all spice, cloves, nutmeg.]
Soup B was a light, lively Spring soup. The turmeric made the broth a little bit buttery and golden. The hot soup was poured over raw baby spinach. As the spinach wilted I added chopped dill and juice from a large lemon wedge. Be generous with the dill.
Soup B was served with pasta topped with homemade vegetable marinara and seitan sausages. To make the sausages you form dough from vital wheat gluten. If you’ve made seitan before, you know the dough doesn’t require kneading. Then you split the dough into four equal parts, stretch each one out over a square of aluminum foil and twist it up like a Tootsie Roll. Finally you plop the rolls into a hot steamer, and 40 minutes later they’re done.
[**because that would be disingenuous]
May 9, 2012
I’ve always lived in the South. Ok, that’s a lie. I lived in Denver for the first few years of my life, but I have no memory of this. I’m a Texan. Many, denizens and outsiders alike, wouldn’t classify Texas as part of “the South,” and reasons for this include things like zealous Texas Pride and a pedantic Old South exclusion rationale. Texas is no doubt culturally, historically, geographically and demographically distinct from most other states — I love the breakfast tacos — but, so that today’s blog post is not completely fragmented, please suspend your geographical allegiances (and general disbelief), and accept that Texas is a part of the South. Also, I won a World Geography award in high school, so I’m really an authority on all things geographical. Going forward, I encourage you to remember this.
A couple of weeks ago I cooked up a (Old South-style) Southern feast for some friends of cornbread, fried okra, Annie’s mac&cheese, collard greens and roasted sweet potatoes. This little gem, which I’ve made a few times, was the best part of the meal. Sadly, I didn’t get a picture of it. I substituted blackberries for the raspberries called for in the recipe and served it alongside homemade orange whipped cream and fresh blackberries.
As of my post-college life, I’ve quite liked living in Texas. I know this has a lot to do with the people who have come into my life post-college and the memories I’ve made over the last few years, but maturity also has something to do with my recent appreciation of my home state. There are still other places I’d like to live, but I’m no longer constantly wishing I was anywhere but here.
People are always “dissing” Texas and Houston, my hometown, and I know I should be used to people spouting out all sorts of egregious crap by now, but I can’t hold my tongue: y’all are wrong. (Here’s to me alienating 50% of my readers.)
Now I am going to attempt to convince you of how just how wrong you are with a series of photos.
Below is a picture I took with my phone on a recent trip to Texas’ sub-culturally rich state capital, Austin. It reminds me of one of the greatest TV shows ever made. It is filmed and set in Texas. I’m referring to Friday Night Lights, people. If you’ve never watched this show, do society a favor and go watch all five edifying and entertaining seasons instantly on Netflix. [Note: The weird blurriness on the right side of the picture is the result of, I'm pretty sure, dropping my phone in the sink. We're talking permanent water damage to the phone.]
I took this picture on my lunch break. Location: Cullen Sculpture Garden in Houston’s Museum District. Sculpture: “The Crab” by Alexander Calder
Here’s a view from inside the Texas Asia Society Center designed by Yoshio Taniguchi. This just opened in a neighborhood in Houston’s Museum District. Taniguchi is the architect who renovated the MOMA. Noteworthy features of this building include a neat geothermal heating and cooling system, and interior and exterior walls made of limestone rock that dates back to the Jurassic geological period!
Also, I doubt a talent like country music darling, Jessica Lea Mayfield, would come all the way from Ohio to play in a city that has nothing to offer. This picture is from her current solo tour at a show at McGonigel’s Mucky Duck, a pub in Houston. She was great.
These next few just keep with the Southern theme and apart from that are totally random:
March 15, 2012
About 8 months ago I bought these hairpin legs with the ambition of making myself a coffee table. The idea originated from a DIY project on a blog I follow, For Me, For You. Though I lacked the appropriate workspace and most of the hardware to accomplish this project, I picked it back up about a month ago with the encouragement of a few friends. Here’s the finished product in all of its mid-Century modern glory. To the disappointment of my wild dog, the table is doing a nice job of anchoring the rug down.
I used a solid pine panel for the table top, and Minwax conditioner, English Chestnut Minwax stain and a Minwax low-gloss polyurethane finish.
DIY discoveries: a (really, two) short over-turned stool(s) work almost as well as sawhorses to support table tops during the sanding, conditioning, staining, polyurethaning and drying processes.
September 2, 2011
I haven’t posted in like, a month. I’m so ashamed.
Since the beginning of August I’ve:
- Acquired a new roommate (2 counting her cat)
- Transported a brand new IKEA chest, jettisoned to the curbside a block away from my home, into my home
- Hosted an impromptu New Wave dance party fueled by pancakes
- Celebrated the birth of my dog
- Joined a philosophy reading group; started a fiction reading group (however, I’ve only read the first 16 pages of said work of fiction)
- Started* 6 books
- Realized that in order for me to be satisfied with life I have to be doing something difficult
- Decided to take a trip to New England for Thanksgiving (YES!)
And now here we are in September, and I feel like I haven’t accomplished enough. I suffer from the pervasive problem of lacking adequate time in a day. I also frequently lack energy, likely because of the way I feel about how I spend 8 hours of my day, 5 days a week. The heat may also be contributing to my listlessness. Triple digits? For real?
However, the following things help get me through the week:
Here are a few more links you might find interesting or enjoyable or inspiring**:
- Mark Mahaney (photographer)
- Fun jams
- Sad jams
- Solemn jams
- St. Vincent’s latest media release — Come on. It’s got Pitchfork cred. Although, so did her last album, which I didn’t much care for. But seriously, I genuinely like this, and it’s been awhile since I’ve felt this way about St. V.
- Movie rec = Mumblecore + Mystery
- Dining & Wine’s way of gearing up for Memorial Day
- The best antique store in all of Texas
*note: started, not finished, but September is a new month!
** or any combination of these 3 describers. I can’t tell you how many combinations there are without making one of those statistical lists. I certainly can’t tell you how many permutations there are without making one. If it weren’t so late, I would try. Goodnight!!
August 10, 2011
So on the recommendation of one of my friends, I downloaded this picture app, Vignette. Here are some pictures I took this weekend while using said app.
So this week for work I went to Galveston, TX. Is it strange to say I don’t think I’d mind living there for a couple of years? It’s so close to Houston. Everything is ugly in a charming way. I like all of the big, old houses–even the ones garishly colored–and I think I could get used to the seagulls. It’s one of those places I like visiting because I likely will never see anyone I meet there again, since I so seldom visit, and it’s a town of transient tourists. I like feeling like I’m anonymous on this tiny strange island.
It’s Shakespeare in the Park season at Miller Outdoor Theatre! This production of Othello was a pretty cool thing to come across on an evening walk with Willa. Too bad she was under-exercised and acting up, or I would have stayed past the first 20 minutes.
My dog poses for me in the most peculiar ways–unassuming and innocent one moment; dignified and alert another. And she does this almost entirely on her own. Seriously. There’s very little prompting and encouraging involved.
So it was my birthday this past weekend and some of my super lovely friends surprised me with some really great literature (and the cutest card). I’m so stoked. I’ve just started My Antonia after finishing another Larry McMurtry novel (not pictured), Horseman, Pass By.
Also, as a gift my friend Eric painted me a picture of my most prized possession (not the rug). He said it was a “collaborative effort,” since the painting was based off of a picture I had taken of the Monster a month or so back. You may recognize the image from a certain previous post involving pictures taken from the aerial perspective. Anyway, I adore this. Thanks, buddy.
Note: Speaking of “collaborative effort,” Eric brought to my attention that Mike Mills and Miranda July are married. Pretty rad. Beginners, Mike Mill’s latest film, is beautiful. It’s different from your typical indie romance in that both main characters in the film are troubled and sad (and not just because they haven’t found ‘the right one’), but they find solace and a piece of happiness in one another. Both are loners, usually leaving people and pushing people away, but they establish a kind of trust that comes only after one realizes the other can truly empathize with him or her. And they fall deeply in love. I’m a sucker for this kind of thing. Also, the whole thing with the gay dad coming out of the closet in his late 70s is really touching and well done. Not to mention it’s visually beautiful.
August 3, 2011
So, something I’ve yet to reveal to you, the reader, about myself is this: I’ve got a penchant for melancholy songs. SVE is satisfying in this way. She also happens to be a fantastic writer of said melancholy songs. I would say one of the best of our time! Like if Jesus had been less into proselytism and more into music, he would have listened to SVE. Yes, I realize that the event of Christ actually listening to SVE is incongruous with both reason and the principles of one of the physical sciences (although I’m not sure which one), but I’m trying to convey a point here. SVE is wonderful.
Other notable features: cool visible tattoos, understated style of dress, vocal vibrato that will make you melt, general feminine coolness you don’t see in many female artists today
Note: I’m not sure if I can define “feminine coolness.” I think this is a term I picked up back in the day of following Garance Dore, although I would guess our conceptions of ‘feminine’ and ‘cool’ are vastly different. Because this term is so recondite, you’ll just have to keep track of all of the instances of ‘cool’ and ‘feminine’ on this blog and weave them into some kind of comprehensive SVE-worthy tapestry. A little exercise in inductive reasoning!…I think.
July 31, 2011
So, generally when I meet people who are into things like winemaking and oenology I assume they’re totally cheesy (no pun intended) and bourgy…until proven otherwise. Wendy MacNaughton, however, makes winemaking seem absolutely charming in her column post, The Winemaker of Bolinas. Her illustrated column, “Meanwhile,” features this and other illustrations of, for instance, the regulars of the San Francisco Public Library. Also, she’s recently had a set of illustrations published in the New York Times titled “Favorite Snacks of the Great Writers.” Fun!
*Images from The Winemakers of Bolinas by Wendy MacNaughton
My suspicion of wine snobbery turned into something close to disdain after reading one of Jonah Lehrer’s blog posts. He reports the results of a couple of studies conducted on wine tasting and wine preference:
Of course, the wine preferences of the subjects were clearly nonsensical. Instead of acting like rational agents – getting the most utility for the lowest possible price – they were choosing to spend more money for an identical product.
Although the subjects had just listed the $90 wine as the most pleasant, they now completely reversed their preferences. When the tasting was truly blind, when the subjects were no longer biased by their prefrontal cortex, the cheapest wine got the highest ratings.
You should also read his post about the “Stanford Marshmallow Experiment” if you haven’t already. It’ll blow your mind, while simultaneously make you crave marshmallows.
That’s all for today. Anticipate more frequent posts from me.
June 27, 2011
Ok, so this post is going to be totally inane. Please forgive me. I’m trying to get through Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, so blame Kant.
I hope everyone is having a wonderful Monday.
Give your pet(s) a hug for me,