Thursday, February 19, 2009

Beghel*

Third time's the charm! I have finally perfected the bagel recipe that I posted about on here a while ago. The cinnamon sugar is no longer perpetually melt-y, and they're not only gigantic but a bit softer too. The second batch was a bit hockey puckish, and we can't have that first thing in the morning. Behold their bagely goodness (you can click on the pictures for a yummy close-up view):


And a close-up of the sea salt variety, right out of the oven. Tasty.


If you feel like making your own, the original recipe from the LA Times is here (I modified it slightly by adding a touch more yeast, and made 6 bagels from each batch of dough rather than 8). Now, if you're from, say, New York, you're probably currently scoffing at the fact that I've used a recipe from a Los Angeles newspaper. Well, scoff all you want, but you can't argue with the finished product, which in this case is warm and chewy and toasty and wonderful. So there.

*I know that bagel is not spelled "beghel," but if you've ever heard me say the word out loud, that's how it sounds. And no, I can't tell that I'm pronouncing it incorrectly. I can't even hear the difference.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Chain Reaction

When I was in elementary school, I used to occasionally get chain letters. At the time, because I was 6 years old or so, I was just happy to get something in the mail and they didn't bother me. As I got older and obtained no less than 3 email addresses, I started getting obnoxious forwards telling me that if I didn't send the email to 7 people I would be struck by lightning, immediately. I'm less thrilled to get these, and I've mostly stopped opening them because I don't like it when hotmail tells me I'm about to die. Recently, however, I started getting chain letters again. Like, actual chain letters, on paper, sent to my home.

The chain letter phenomenon started a couple of months ago, at my Pittsburgh address. I would randomly get these hand-addressed letters in the mail and, all excited that I was receiving something that wasn't a student loan or credit card bill, I would rip into them. And...a fucking chain letter? Apparently endorsed by 20/20 and Oprah (because you know Oprah made her fortune on chain letters)? That wants me to spend $174 mailing these irritating pieces of shit to people? No thanks. They all claim to be written by "retired attorneys," assuring the participant that it's totally legal to send out what is basically a postal-pyramid scheme letter (because lawyers never do anything illegal, right?). But it can't be a scam, can it? It's just "people helping people" (just as an aside, if you get one of these and you believe that bullshit, you totally deserve to get ripped off). The letter tells you that you're supposed to take the list of six names included on the last page, send them each a dollar, and ask to be added to their mailing list. A little convoluted logic later and this is apparently what makes the whole thing "legal." You're paying a dollar to be added to a mailing list so that other assholes can send you a dollar to be added to your mailing list. Makes total sense, right? Yeah, I didn't think so either.

Anyone else get these things? Just me? Anyone else get more than one (I've gotten four now) and want to drive to the sender's house, letter in hand, and torture him with paper cuts?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Come Again?

The following is a quote that I stumbled upon on nymag.com from a headband-wearing hack socialite (Arden Wohl, in case you cared) who thought it would be a good idea to make a movie:

"I felt like I was mentally masturbating upon an idea. I felt like it was necrophilia. I felt like I was excavating myself and crawling to the top to get something which was dead, and which I could never consume, and which would never bring a life force of anything. In the end, I thought it was necrophilia. Like beating a dead horse. It was finished. It was like something you've wanted your whole life. And you could never fully excavate that. You couldn't encompass that. It was like trying to have sex with a dead person!"

Um, yeah. Shit like that (which makes me somewhat irrationally irritable) is why I decided not to go to grad school for art history despite loving the subject, because a large percentage of culturally snotty my classmates spent a good deal of time spouting off insufferable bullshit like the above.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Knowing What it Means

Most of the time, I try not to think too much of New Orleans. It was the first place that really, really felt like home for me. When I first visited the city to see my future school, my first glimpse was of the skyline shimmering across the bridge from the opposite side of Lake Pontchartrain, and even though I'd been in the car for about 22 hours, and awake for about 36, I was suddenly, totally awake. Although my second wind only lasted until I fell asleep mid-sentence (really) only 7 hours later, the next few days convinced me that I didn't want to leave. In fact, had I been able to I would've rented an apartment right then and happily paid UPS to ship all of my belongings to me that very day. Unfortunately, in real life people cannot just move at the drop of a hat, but I spent a very happy, sweaty, gluttonous three years there not long after that day. My golden years be damned, because that's what it's really about. This is why I try not not to think of it too much, because missing a home like that is almost painful. So why am I writing this? Several reasons:

(1) my two bestest friends are going there next weekend for the first weekend of Mardi Gras, and I would love nothing more than to hop the next plane out of here and spend the weekend hollering for beads and eating crawfish (OMG, crawfish...I think I just drooled on my keyboard a little bit...if anyone knows of a place to get them in DC or its neighboring environs I will kiss you).

(2) the weather here is amazing right now, actually New Orleans-like aside from the fact that it gets down to the 30's at night. In the past, the first warm days of spring always made me long for the beach so much that I could practically smell the saltwater. Now added to that is the desire to spend most of my day lounging on the levee, drinking daiquiris and pretending that I have nothing else to do.

(3) my friend Abbott's facebook profile picture - sounds like an odd trigger, but it's from our graduation brunch at the Court of Two Sisters, just a month before I had to pack up and move. I may complain a lot about having gone to law school - there are loans, and I'm still looking for a job, and all in all it may not have been my smartest move, but our class managed to drink an established New Orleans restaurant out of champagne by noon, just sitting under our umbrellas enjoying each other's company for one of the last times, and I won't ever regret getting to know those people for three years.

And now, to get over my bit of homesickness, I think I may need my third glass of wine, and yes I know it's ony 5:00, but in NOLA it's been cocktail hour for quite a while now, so drink up.

Monday, February 2, 2009

It's Good to be King

Sometimes you have to bring a little bit of home to wherever you happen to be. In February, that little bit of home is called a King Cake, a traditional Mardi Gras confection available in New Orleans throughout the season. Because I'm now in DC, my baking partner in crime (for the weekend, anyway), invited me to make king cakes with him here.

Traditionally, there is a little baby figurine encased within the King Cake, to represent the tiny baby Jeebus. It's supposed to be good luck if you end up with the baby's piece. However, not having ready access to small, plastic babies, we used the following, courtesy of the nice lady behind the counter at the neighborhood liquor store (they come from Spanish wine bottles):

The first recipe that we used, which I'm told was an Emeril recipe, was a little hard to roll and ended up as a King Log, rather than the usual round shape. It tasted good anyway, and I suspect the the problem was my fault, rather than Emeril's.


For attempt #2 (and 3), the brioche recipe was courtesy of the Bon Appetit cookbook (which, just as an aside, I highly recommend that you purchase), with the Emeril filling making a repeat appearance. And because we're feeling a little patriotic at the moment (or obsessed with Obama, either one), the decorations took a break from the traditional purple, green, and gold, in favor of the Obama logo. For some boozy icing (it was part bourbon), sprinkles, and raspberry jam, I think it came out pretty well. Behold:

Happy Mardi Gras, Mr. President.

Victory! And a few steps back...

I love it when my beloved Steelers win things. It makes me so damn happy, although there were several points during last night's game when I had to hide the remotes from myself so that I didn't throw them. Ahem. I never said that I was above such things.

However, one beef that I have with the game last night is that some of the commercials were so blatantly, disgustingly sexist that I sort of just sat there with my mouth hanging open. Like the Danika Patrick commercial about enhancement. Really? I don't know who they're trying to appeal to, but it's clearly not me because, should I ever need a website, I will specifically avoid that particular host at all costs solely because of that commercial. And it wasn't limited to that spot so I could write it off as a fluke, which I would have preferred. It was just kind of shocking to me that people still feel the need to show completely exploitative, sexualized versions of women in order to sell their products. I thought we were past that.

 
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