Sunday, May 30, 2010

Miles away, just up ahead.

Last night I drove home after a wedding and after dark, and I lived to tell the tale. I kept myself awake by thinking about really dumb stuff. Here's a short summary.

1. This is the loneliest hour on the 401. Trust me, I've driven this road around the clock far too many times.

2. The sheer number of New Country songs based upon the "I ain't been to college, but I got more learnin's than those city folk" trope is terribly frightening.

3. Nevertheless, I do concede that ladies love country boys.

4. Chris Bohjalian is the literary M. Night Shyamalan. What's more, their names nearly rhyme.

5. Every major life event should include an end-of-night cheese tray/candy bar option.

6. I think I've gotten to the point in my spiritual development where I can appreciate and maybe even relate to a religious celebration that once would have really offended me in its supposed antifeminism, like, in this case, a Greek Orthodox wedding. I guess spirituality is more important than religion. I guess ceremony transcends belief, in a way.

7. That said, until yesterday, my entire frame of reference for Greek Orthodox wedding ceremonies was drawn from an old episode of Full House where DJ accidentally marries one of Uncle Jesse's visiting relatives by walking around the table with him. (Don't worry, guys! They just walked backwards around it and all was forgiven!)

8. If in some bizarro world artistic merit is judged by radio play alone, Kelly Clarkson is our generation's most important creative voice.

9. I really, really like Kelly Clarkson.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Myself, I prefer positive drinking.

I think I want to soul-marry Barbara Ehrenreich. I've been reading her insightful and biting book Bright-Sided, which systematically tears the positive thinking movement a new A-hole over the course of 200 or so very readable pages. She's got a well-researched argument against everything: the Pink Ribbon Campaign for breast cancer awareness, The Secret, evangelism, the link between positive psychology and the economic crisis. Sure, I know, I said before that I was trying to unburden myself from all the things that piss me off for no reason, but one thing I'll never stop being mad about is when an industry is built up around the unhappiness and dissatisfaction of the individual struggling to find her place in society. So, you know.

Ehrenreich is amazing. You might also have heard of her 2002 book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By In America. In it she describes her time spent undercover, living below the poverty line and working as a Florida waitress. I haven't read it yet, and I'm not always a huge fan of the whole journalist in disguise thing (exception to this rule: Never Been Kissed, starring my secret best friend, Drew Barrymore), but her writing's so sharp and just a little sarcastic that I bet she can pull it off.

Speaking of Never Been Kissed, here's another highschool movie that wormed its way back into my heart this week.

I think this movie is the reason I decided to become a successful career woman.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Let's get cookin'.

Getting older makes you philosophical. You start to realize that the things that used to really piss you off don't really amount to a hill of beans, or maybe you just move on to being pissed off about more important things, like the fact that you live in a country governed by a bunch of wangs who would rather you shut the fuck up about abortion rights than actually advocate for women's issues. All of which is to say, I used to get really upset about anything that had the word "Family" on it, especially cookbooks. I don't know why. Maybe it's the fact that I have lived alone for a long time, and I am PERSONALLY AFFRONTED by the notion that only families deserve good food. Just because I occasionally/frequently eat my dinner from a bowl propped on my lap while watching reruns of 30 Rock, doesn't mean I don't merit a delicious and healthy meal, jerks.

Anyway, I'm pretty much over that. As I slouch toward my thirtieth birthday in about a month, I'm trying to let the little things go and focus on the big things, and getting angry at the mothers and fathers on the covers of cookbooks is not a productive use of my energy. That's why I even went so far as to check out my library's copy of Rose Reisman's Family Favourites and choked my way past the lame photos of the author and her well-dressed grown children to enjoy some really wicked recipes. Even if the sight of a bunch of rich upper class people cooking in an insanely tricked out kitchen while also enjoying each other's company makes you want to throw up in your mouth a little, you cannot deny that the woman can craft a killer vegetarian main. I recommend this comprehensive and pretty book to anyone looking for some new variations on old standbys like soups, salads, and grain-laden side dishes. Reisman even inspired me to make about a million variations on one of my summer favourites, lentil salad. Here's the best version I've come up with.


Throw all this stuff into a bowl.

1 can lentils
1 avocado, chopped
1/2 red pepper, chopped
a couple green onions, chopped
1/4 cup or so feta cheese
1/4 cup basil
1/4 cup parsley
1/4 cup black olives (or sundried tomatoes. it's your world.)


equal parts lemon juice and olive oil, and maybe some garlic (or whatever you have on hand, really. If we're going to get honest, I'll tell you that I actually dressed this with some very elderly Newman's Own oil and vinegar that had been sitting in my fridge for a really really long time.)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Eat it. Just eat it.

Guys, I really and truly don't read anymore. Or rather, I read about 5 sentences of everything (I'm looking at you, Anne Tyler, Chris Bohjalian, guy who wrote The Lightning Thief, et al) and then I watch another episode of the American Office. And I realize that no one really thinks of that show as the American version anymore since it's about six seasons longer than its inspiration, but my commitment to Tim and Dawn is pretty intense.

Anyway,the other reason I haven't been writing is that I've spent most of the last month in a state of complete and utter malaise, physically and spiritually (but mostly physically). I've been lying on the loveseat a lot, and doing a lot of serious thinking, mostly about the fact that I am nearly thirty years old and don't have an actual couch and everytime I fall asleep on mine I lose feeling in my legs. In the course of these heady existential days, the one book I did actually read in toto was What We Eat When We Eat Alone by Deborah Madison, and it just about made me cry with joy. In case you don't know of her, Deborah Madison is the woman who stole my life. She lives in New Mexico and studied Zen living in San Francisco and she patronizes farmers' markets and writes the best vegetarian cookbooks you will ever read and lives with an artist. She's also a little smug, which I quite enjoy. In this book, she interviews everyone she knows about the weird and disgusting but ultimately probably delicious things they eat when they're on their own, and also delves into the different ways we find ourselves on our own at the end of the day: a man without his wife, a single gal whose roommate is out, a student with a cabinet full of Kraft dinner. And then she makes actual recipes out of the stories her friends tell. They are delightful and full of random things like tinned oysters and polenta and ramen noodles and fresh veggies and loads of cheese. This really is such a sweet, cute little book (and it's illustrated in a New Yorkerish style by her live-in lovah whose name I cannot remember) and if you have any inclination toward foodieism you really must read it.

I, for one, love nothing better than cooking for one. I do it almost every weeknight, and I really really look forward to it. There's something really freeing about making dinner for your own self and not giving a fuck about anyone else's good taste spoiling the experience. I highly recommend you try it sometime.

And in that spirit, here's a recipe for y'all. I am a bit of a gazpacho nut, and yesterday the return of my appetite after a week of nausea coupled with hot house tomatoes from the Kingston Farmers' Market inspired this new twist on my old standby.

Mayday Gazpacho

a few cups worth of tomatoes, chopped
1 cucumber, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
juice of one lemon
1/2 cup of parsley, chopped (or more) (gazpacho is usually made with basil but I didn't have any, and found this to be a delicious and detoxifying substitute)
1 can Herdez green chile sauce (a secret ingredient that will BLOW YOUR MIND)
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped (amount depends on whether you will be spending time with other people or not)
hot sauce, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste

Throw 'er all in a bowl and puree the hell out of it. Eat, then send me a thank you note.