Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Girls Girls Girls

Yesterday was Prez's birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY PREZ!

Prez and I have big birthday plans that didn't include going out last night, but then we found out our friend Fear-of-Fish was going to be in town. This was a big deal because Fish is hardly ever in the country, let alone in San Diego. In fact, just last week Fish was in the Phillippines! And since she's missing our big birthday bash, Prez thought we should get together for a little birthday celebrating last night.


We went to Piatti, which both Prez and I love. Because we both have great taste. But I don't see Fish very often. In fact, I haven't seen her in a couple of years I think...we tried to figure that out last night. And while Prez is used to me busting my camera out while we eat, I didn't know how Fish would deal with it. So no pictures. Instead, I'll illustrate.

But I'm not a good draw-er. So bear with me.

First we spent a lot of time pouring over the menu.





Then our wine showed up.


And we talked about television shows. Since Fish is one of the few people I know who watches as much television as I do. And most of the same shows. In fact - Fish and I used to barricade ourselves in the sorority tv room so we could watch Buffy together. Yeah, we go way back.


Then we dished the dirt about our mutual friends.


Then Fish filled us in on her most recent travels.



And then the food came and there was no talking.


Then there was more talking. A lot more talking. And then Thatboy called, asking if I knew it was 10pm - and didn't I have to work the next day? So we headed back to Prez's place for some cupcakes.




And then Fish realized she still had to drive waaaaaaaaaaaaay back to her hotel. So we called it a night.


The end.


Poor Thatboy was stuck at home by himself, to fend. He's got more of that ahead of him. Usually I like to leave him with something that is easily heat-up-able. Like lasagna. Or soup. Things that he can put in the microwave. We both love split pea soup- but much like me not being a good draw-er, I'm not very good at making split pea soup look appetizing. So this is another one you'll have to take my word for. It's good. Really good. Good enough to keep Thatboy from making a Taco Bell run last night.



Split Pea Soup (From the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
1 1/2 cups dried split peas
2 inch cube salt pork
1 onion, chopped
3 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
2 cups milk
salt
ground pepper

  1. Soak the peas overnight in water to cover.
  2. Add enough water to the soaking liquid to make 2 1/2 quarts.
  3. Put the peas and liquid in a large soup pot and the salt pork and onion.
  4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, partially covered for 1 1/2 -2 hours or until the peas are soft. Discard the salt pork
  5. Put through a strainer or vegetable mill or puree the soup in a blender or food processor. Melt the butter in a small saucepan, stir in the flour, and cook over low heat for a few minutes.
  6. Add the milk, stirring constantly, and cook until smooth and thickened. Stir this sauce into the soup and add salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Oh Mama

Last year, for my birthday, I asked Thatmom to run the Del Mar Irongirl 5k with me. She hadn’t run a race since I was a little girl, and they had a mother/daughter division. I promised her that we could go at her speed, and she agreed. We finished in 43:32, which was a huge accomplishment for Thatmom since she wasn’t even confident that she would be able to complete the 3.1 miles.

This year I had planned to run the 10k in the same race, but when I told Thatmom of my plans, she asked if she could run with me, and do the 5k again. This year the race was on Mother’s Day weekend, so really, how could I say no? But the past few 5ks I’ve done with Thatmom have taken a lot longer than 43 minutes, so I told her that I had a goal for her – she was going to PR. Specifically, I told her I was going to have her finishing that race in under 40 minutes.

Thatmom wasn’t so confident in my plan, but I promised I wouldn’t push her at an uncomfortable speed, I’d just keep an eye on our pace as we ran.


Last year, we made it to the race, right as it was starting, this year we got there a lot earlier. And it was a good thing we did, because the place was packed! There were so many more people than last year – a lot of the expo booths were already out of their free handouts. Thatmom was disappointed.


Because there were so many people, the race started late, but once it did…well, we were stuck behind a lot of people. Eventually we were able to break away from the pack and set a pace. I kept Thatmom at a regular pace, slowing her down when she tried to go faster (so she didn’t burn out) and slowing us both down when we reached the big hill of the run and she wanted to walk. Anyone who’s run with me knows I don’t walk, and I wouldn’t let her either, but I did slow our pace so she could keep up the mile that was remaining – that was all downhill.

We finished the race in 39:39 – under 40 minutes, which made Thatmom so proud of herself. “I didn’t walk once!” she told Thatboy as we collected our medals and Thatmom was presented with flowers in honor of Mother’s Day. Then we went and stood in line to play in the free photobooth they had set up.


They were offering a free breakfast after the race, but I knew Thatmom would much prefer to go to her favorite San Diego attraction – Pannikin Coffee. She brings up the place on a weekly basis, so it was a given we’d head there to refuel. We spent the rest of the day getting her fitted for new running shoes at the San Diego Running Institute (which is really heads and tails over chains like Roadrunners), and then getting pampered with mani/pedis. I’ve decided that I really need a pedicure after all my races – it’s the best way to relax.


On Sunday, we all met up for breakfast in Orange County at Cafe Mimosa for Mother's Day.




Given the name of the restaurant, we decided to each partake in one of the namesake drinks. There are plenty to choose from! The five of us didn't get through the entire mimosa menu, but what we had was good!



The woman of the hour had the tartine, which she declared the winner of the day. Egg whites with chives and swiss on a toasted baguette.



Thatboy totally chose wrong. He saw the "smoked salmon" on the menu and stopped reading. So when it came out with nothing more than little pieces of toast, he was disappointed. Luckily the rest of us had more than enough to share.



Thatbrother saw mushrooms on the menu and knew exactly what he was ordering! The egg white omelet with mushrooms, spinach, piquillo peppers, swiss, and romesco.



Everyone has a favorite ingredient. For Thatbrother it's mushrooms, for UDubb, it's bacon. She had the omelet du jour with bacon and tomatoes.



My favorite ingredient? Chorizo. So I was all over this chorizo scramble. Especially since the chorizo is made in house. The salty queso fresco and bite of the scallions added a nice contrast.



And so Thatmom's mother's day was filled with running, food, and family. Just how she likes it. Thatboy and I headed back home to prepare for the week. The original plan had been to spend the day at the beach, the two of us. Saturday had been gorgeous. But Sunday was just plain ugly and cold. So instead of the beach, the two of us curled up under covers, drank coffee, and watched movies. And instead of a summery beachy dinner, we had what felt like a more appropriate choice - soup! Thatboy loves barley in his soup, so I'm always looking for soups with barley in them. This scotch broth makes great use of barley and lamb necks - a really inexpensive cut of meat with great flavor. The soup was a huge hit, and a great way to end a weekend.

Scotch Broth (From the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
  • 3 lbs lamb breast or neck
  • 1/2 cup barley
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 2 carrots finely diced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 1 small white turnip, peeled and diced
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • salt
  • pepper

  1. Remove most of the fat from the lamb and cut meat into small pieces.
  2. Put meat in a pot with 8 cups cold water. Bring to a boil and stir in the barley.
  3. Simmer, partially covered for 1 1/2 hours or until the meat and barley are tender, adding more water if any evaporates. Remove the meat from the bones. Cool the soup and skim off the fat.
  4. Melt the butter in a skillet and add the carrots, celery, turnip, and onion. Cook over low heat, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Add veggies to the soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cook for another 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Jumping for Joy

Every little girl loves horses, right? I think it's an innate part of being a female. Somewhere between the ages of 4 and40 there's a point where every girl wants a pony.

For me, this happened around 2nd grade. We had just moved to Themiddleofnowhere, PA and I had this teacher, this fabulous teacher who had us read "Justin Morgan had a horse." And after we finished reading it, she took us on a fieldtrip to the stable where her horse, Arabian Eric, was boarded. The whole class got to ride her horse and from that moment I was hooked. One of my friends and I began taking riding classes together every Saturday. The horse I rode was named Sophie, and to little 2nd grade me she looked like she was probably 8 feet tall. And so, when we began learning how to jump, I was understandably nervous. Except nervous isn't the right word. More like scared to death. Paralyzed with fear. You get the idea. I begged my parents to let me quit riding lessons and was perfectly content to maintain a slow trot when going on sporadic horseback rides.

Except, I still love horses. I love to watch them run, seeming so carefree. We live beside a ranch, and I get to see horses daily on my runs. Thatdog is fairly certain they are giant dogs and is always trying to get them to play with him. It is the benefit to living where we do that we have horses right in our backyard. And I don't just mean the ranch - I'm talking about the Del Mar Horse Track.



During the months of April and May, the Del Mar National Horse Show takes over the race track. There are various events ranging from competitions to choreographed horse dancing. Last Friday, Thatmom came into town and we decided to take her to the Five Bar competition.


The Five Bar Competition is a jumping competition in which horses jump over a series of 5 gates, during 5 different rounds. If a horse knocks over one of the poles making up the gate, that horse is disqualified from the next round. After each round, the poles are raised - creating a backwards limbo. How high can you go?


At first, Thatmom was very nervous about the whole ordeal. She was terrified that she'd see some horse or rider fall and die. Or break something. After the first couple of horses were disqualified by knocking over a pole, she relaxed a bit since there were no injuries. In fact, there was only one "fall" during the very last round. When the bar was raised to 6'9". One of the horses decided at the very last minute there was NO WAY IN HELL he was going to jump over that gate. Did his rider think he was crazy? He stopped short and turned, throwing his rider off. But no injuries. She jumped up and dusted herself and went to retrieve her steed who thought that it would probably be a good time to head back to the stables.


All of the horses were full of personality. You could tell by watching the way they carried themselves. Some were practically doing the bunny hop. Thatboy and I would turn to each other and remark - "that horse has got some hops on him." Thatmom picked up our conversation and started pointing out horses too. "That one has hoppys."


We all laughed like immature boys when we noticed many of the horses had some extra...jet propulsion helping them clear the gates. Jumping must make some horses nervous, because there was a lot of farting and pooping going on as the horses cleared the gates. Some of the riders were attuned enough to figure this out and would wait until the horse had done a little business before beginning the jumps. But most of the horses just let it go mid air.


It was hard to pick a favorite because the horses were so much fun to watch. The jaunty ones with attitude, the graceful ones who appeared to sail over the gates, and the ones who had such shiny coats and tails they looked like horse models. Thatmom's favorites were the horses wearing "little hats." She decided she was going to get a little hat for herself and go as "Cracky Z" for Halloween. Cracky Z was the name of one of the horses, but would also make an excellent street name for Thatmom.


By the time the 5th and final round came, there were only 6 horses (out of 11) remaining. And as we watched horse after horse knock over the final 6'9" bar, we worried we wouldn't get to see a clear "winner." And then came London. The only horse who was able to soar over the final bar without even touching it. And the winner of the Five Bar and $15,000.


The crowd cheered for London as he finished his run. And he was given carrots and other goodies as his ribbons were awarded.



But everyone went home with some ribbon. See, all those horses are winners! Even if they're not as good and brave as London. (Which is nice, because I'm not as good and brave as London or his rider, but I do like ribbons.)

And because you are all good and brave, here's a special treat for you! A treat made with real horse meat. Okay, not really. Although we did joke about the losing horses getting sent to the glue factory. This treat is made with fruit. Which horses eat. Maybe not pineapple, but I bet horses in Hawaii eat pineapple every now and again. These are little jello cups I make to pack in our lunches during the week. Kind of like a carrot for my work horse, who hates the jello cups they sell in stores since most are sugar free (and Thatboy hates ANYTHING sugar free). They're easy enough to make and package in muffin liners. And everyone likes snacks that jiggle right?


Fruity Jello Cups
1 can pineapple chunks
1 pkg Jello - you can use any flavor you like. Thatboy like red flavors.
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 apple, diced

1. Bring 1 1/4 cup water to a boil and pour over jello, stirring until jello dissolves.
2. Stir in pineapple, walnuts, and apple.
3. Pour into lined muffin pan. Refrigerate overnight.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

High/Low

I used to listen to a radio show where one of the personalities described his affinity for wearing the "high/low" which consisted of something high end, and something you'd pick up at a garage sale. Like designer jeans with a Hanes t-shirt. Or a DVF wrap dress with payless sandals.

I realized that in my life, I tend to High/Low a bunch of things. Like bouncing between things that are good for me, and things that are REALLY not so good.

Some examples?

High:
Lately my go to hair style is "the smush." It's really fancy. Basically what I do is put some curl creme in my hair, dry it with a diffuser, and then smush it up and pin it with bobby pins. I expect to see it all over the runways next award season with bylines like "This starlet just got out of bed" or "Looks like someone needs to hire a new stylist" or "mental hospital chic." In order to accomplish the fantastic feat of hair wizardry I rely on my favorite curl creme, which although not cheap, is rather amazing.


Low:
But before we even get to the curl creme, I start off my day with a washing "low" with my Pantene shampoo and conditioner. Tell your hairstylist you use Pantene and they'll look at you as though you have informed them that you wash your hair with gasoline. BUT it has a permanent place in my shampoo rotation, which also seems to vary from high to low. It's cheap, and it honestly makes my hair really silky looking. And if gasoline made my hair look like that, I'd probably use that too - except with the rising cost of gasoline, it's more cost efficient to use the Pantene.


High:
Sometimes I make really good choices. When Prez called me and said we should get together for drinks or a hike, I was definitely getting excited for a girls night of drinking and gossip. Instead we found ourselves at the top of a nature preserve hiking along the coast.


During which time there was plenty of gossip. Not to worry.


And at one point, Prez turned to me and asked why we don't hike here more often. (The two of us - Thatboy and I do this hike fairly regularly).


And we only got lost once! Which might be a record. Or a tie. I don't think I've ever hiked here without getting turned around at least once.

Low:
Other times I make really unhealthy choices. Like when Thatboy suggested we grab Subway for dinner before Golda's Balcony. And mysteriously we ended up here.





Where we consumed some less than healthy dinners.



And even more unhealthy desserts.


But when you're going low, you might as well add a cupcake to the mix!




Cupcakes themselves are a bit of a "high/low" given that everyone knows the best part is the top part, the one covered with frosting, and the little stump is really just a waste of perfectly good calories. (But we'll eat it anyway, just so no one gets left out.) The only exception, is chocolate cupcakes. Which are usually good enough to eat on their own. Even without frosting. Sour cream is the secret ingredient I've learned after making a lot of chocolate cakes in the past year. Something about it adds both moistness, and a really velvety texture. So make yourself a big salad for dinner, and enjoy the cupcakes for dessert!



Chocolate Cupcakes
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted
2 cups flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 Tbsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup warm water
1 cup sour cream

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Beat canola oil, egg, and vanilla just until blended.
  2. Add sugars and beat just until blended.
  3. Add melted chocolate and beat until blended through.
  4. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.
  5. Add the dry ingredients to chocolate mixture alternately with the warm water water, beating well after each addition, and ending with the dry ingredients.
  6. Add sour cream and mix well.
  7. Pour into muffin tins and bake 30-35 minutes, or until done.
  8. Cool, the remove from pans to cool completely before frosting.

Friday, May 07, 2010

First, I am...

Last Friday, I was sitting at my desk, minding my own business, when an email alert popped up. It was from The Old Globe Theater with a chance to win free tickets to see “Golda’s Balcony.” I don’t think I’ve ever turned down free theater, and I wasn’t about to start now. I entered into the contest and went about the rest of my day.

Later that night, I got an email response informing me I was a winner! Two free tickets to see Golda’s Balcony last night. The only catch was that I had to write a hundred word review of the show for them to use. Which seemed fine to me, since I usually love to enthrall y’all with my musings on whatever theatrical experience I take part in anyway. (And as a side note, I’ve already exceeded 100 words just in this introduction, so how hard can a 100 word review be?)

As it turns out, a lot harder than one would think – because after the show as I sat and thought about which angle I was going to attack this from, I realized my problem was going to be how to keep the review to 100 words. There is just much too much involved.


First, a little background. “Golda’s Balcony” is a one-woman show starring Tovah Feldshuh. The show, written by William Gibson, began on Broadway in 2003 and is to date the longest running one woman show on Broadway. Feldshuh has received numerous accolades for her performance, including a tony nomination. The show runs 90s minutes…ish, and I have to admit that I was a little nervous about sitting for so long during such a performance. I’m familiar with one person shows, (I think I might have taken an entire course on Anna Devere Smith….or at least that’s how it felt with so much time devoted to her solo performance pieces.) but the concept was new for Thatboy. He was surprised that the set consisted of a table with several chairs. “Who are the other chairs for?” He asked. I smiled and told him that just because there was one actress on stage, did not mean there would only be one character.

In fact, that was one of Thatboy’s favorite parts of the show – as Feldshuh morphed from Golda Meir to Moshe Dayan to Dado Elazar and back within moments, Thatboy was impressed with her acting agility. One watches with the same amount of respect given to an Olympian who seems to make the impossible seem effortless. But it is Feldshuh’s portrayal of Golda Meir which is the true triumph of the piece. She is at once grandmother and ogre. Hard and compassionate. She’s a tough talking, no nonsense, chain smoker who cries at the thought of sending young boys to war.

It wasn’t the one woman show aspect that worried me, it was the subject matter. Because one simply cannot separate the subject of Golda Meir from the subject of Israel, and more importantly Zionism. And my worry was about sitting through 90 minutes of intense political diatribe. In retrospect, I informed Thatmom after the performance, I’m not quite sure why I was worried. Within moments of entering the stage, Feldshuh had the audience in the palm of her hand with her “warts and all” portrayal of Golda Meir. I had forgotten the golden rule in Judaism, “nothing without humor.” It is true that even in dark times, troubled times, times of sorrow and hardship, the Jews, as a people, have never lost their sense of humor. And so this intensely political piece about a hard woman, often referred to as the “Iron Lady” who fought to create a Jewish homeland was lightened with humor throughout. When Feldshuh brought the audience to the Syrian refugee camps as Meir attempted to convince hundreds of refugees to give up their quota for the next month so that children could be removed from the camps instead, Feldshuh tells of the horrors of the Holocaust, but interspersed throughout are tales of her “bodyguards” the children of the camp who surround her and give her paper flowers. The constant bounce from darkness to levity is echoed in the plot itself. Meir’s narrative centers around the cabinet meeting, held in October 1973, during the Yom Kippur War. The cabinet met to discuss the growing losses in the war, and the promises of aid that were not materializing. Growing closer and closer to the moment at which the decision to arm the Israeli planes with nuclear weapons, Meir breaks off to discuss “happier things” such as her initial romance with her husband, and the time on the kibbutz. The play volleys between the cabinet meeting and important parts of Meir’s life, creating a picture of a driven, single minded woman.

In the play, Meir discusses a conversation she had with Henry Kissinger in which he stated he was first an American, second Secretary of State, and Third, a Jew.” It is clear from this portrayal of Golda Meir that she considered herself first and foremost a Jew. Everything else was secondary. Including her role as wife and mother. It forced me to think of how I would describe myself if I had to rank. Where does being Jewish fit in my self view? What about everything else? As important as my religion is, and it is the most intrinsic part of me, I don’t know that I would identify myself as a Jew beyond all else. Although the fact that others may is a weight I’ve carried around since I was in Elementary school, and the reason it is so important to me to raise our children within the Jewish faith. Despite graduating from law school, I would hardly characterize myself as “first a lawyer.” Sometimes I think I am “first a woman,” but even there I pause, because the sound of that rings against my ears like the bra-burners of the 60s and I’ve long identified as “not being a feminist.” Everything else spins around like a juggling act – a cook? A runner? An actress? A daughter? A wife? And perhaps this lack of singlemindedness is what causes a disconnect between the play and myself. Because I can’t imagine being one thing above all else.

Obviously the show provokes thought and discussion, both of the introspective nature, but also between people. It sparked an interesting conversation between Thatboy and I. He informed me that he liked Golda Meir less after seeing the show – which I think is interesting, because I wonder if he would feel the same way about her actions if she was a man. Which brings me back to the whole “woman” thing – see it’s hard to put yourself in a single box! We enjoyed our night out immensely, even if it meant running around like crazy after work to walk the dog and grab dinner, and pick up Thatboy from his office, and being absolutely exhausted today. Speaking of, I grabbed one of these at the race last weekend and thought it would be perfect for tired me today.



Only to find out, it was actually this.


Yes folks, that’s CANNED WATER. And while it makes WAY more sense that they were handing out water at a race and not Monster energy drinks, WHO PUTS WATER IN A MONSTER CAN? Such deceptive packaging. I probably wouldn’t be quite so upset if I wasn’t so gosh darn tired. Now excuse me while I drive this bus full of girlscouts somewhere important. I’m sure I’ll be able to keep my eyes open for a bit longer.