Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I'm All About

I'm INTO a lot of things, lately, and as it goes when you're a modern day Renaissance woman with too many interests surrounded by inspiring, brilliant people, the things I'm INTO are varied and range from the profound to the frivolous.

1) This exchange between Roxane Gay, Tressie McMillan Cottom, and David Simon on the barring of journalist Tim Tai's from the University of Missouri's student activist tent city.  It happened on Twitter.  It is electrifying reading.  Gay and Simon I knew already, but Tressie McMillan Cottom is new to me and she is everything. Razor sharp, eloquent, invested.  Remember when thinkers would debate each other and it was televised?  I kind of want to go back to that time.  The fact that this happened on Twitter is a sign of the modern era, but imagine what it would have been like to have these three in the same room together?  Without the constraints of Twitter?  I know Twitter is what facilitated this spontaneous conversation, but I want to go back to the time when you could turn on the TV and see Michel Foucault debating Noam Chomsky:


Anyway, David Simon gets served and is STILL AT IT.  Some of McMillan Cottom's responses are the best.  Like this one:

David.


Insert me doing a million "OHHHHHH, S**T!!!*  motions.  David Simon gets pwned all over the place and comes off looking really grasp-y and petulant and unhinged in the process, when all it would take is a simple acknowledgement of "Yes, I can see how the media can be a tool for mis-representation and oppression."  At one point, Cottom is like, "I can't believe I have to explain this to the guy who wrote THE WIRE." and I'm like, damn right.  Simon is also getting pwned because he doesn't know how to work Twitter properly, but he's so fixated on his ideal, that he's not looking at the actual situation, or acknowledging how contingent that reified ideal is.

2) On a (slightly) less heady note: I'm all about this coat from Madewell.

I bought some shoes from Madewell last spring and they didn't fit so I returned them for store credit.  This fall, after I got my new job, I invested in some pieces and splurged on a coat (a hella splurge, considering the abysmal state of the Canadian dollar) that is a step above my usual fare.  It's sleek, modern, blocky and bulky enough to be proportionally balanced against my skinnies and tights, and elevates my weekend slovenly jeans-based outfits and finishes my more polished weekday work wear.  It's a lady coat and I love it.  I love the high collar, the slightly oversized cut, and the small details (zippers on the sleeves, deep pockets).  Anyway, because I bought it with store credit, I managed to get a few pieces for what felt like much less, even though I was spending money I had already spent.  My next lady coat purchase will be a mid-calf length bulky duster/cocoon type, assuming it doesn't make me look stumpy.

3)

The new John Mulaney special on Netflix, The Comeback Kid.  I first experienced Mulaney as one half of the "Too Much Tuna" duo on Nick Kroll's Kroll Show.  Then a friend mentioned his special New In Town (also on Netflix) and the Dotytron and I watched it and died laughing.  Seriously, nothing has hit us this hard since we stumbled upon Kevin Hart lo' these many years ago.  Something about the humour, the references, the wit...it all really connected.  Mulaney is "coming back" from a disastrous rapidly-cancelled sitcom that was called Mulaney.  I never watched it, but I know that he's funny (Wikipedia tells me he wrote on SNL for 6 years and won Emmys) and I highly recommend his stuff.

I generally can't with a lot of stand-up because I find it can veer into basic bro territory really quickly. This is very much not that.

4)

So old, right?  I know, I know.  How dare I talk about something that was binged-watched two weeks ago?!  The point is, this show is amazing.  It's basically tailor-made for my peer group, amirite?  It has heart, it's sincere, it talks about being a first-generation something with immigrant parents, it has a multi-ethnic cast that isn't token, or special.  They're just people living their lives in an urban setting and it is so sad that this is a thing that's worthy of note.  Like, things have gotten better for people of colour, but Fresh off the Boat and Blackish are all about the playing off of being different from the American "norm" and using that for laughs, which, don't get me wrong, is also moving in the right direction, but the characters of Denise and Dev are just people, and they're not defined by their sexuality or colour status and that is so freaking amazing.  Or, when they are defined by it, it's in the service of talking about racist casting in Hollywood (see the stand-out episode, "Indians on TV").  I want a world in which niche markets aren't the only place for black stories (e.g. Tyler Perry movies).  I want a world where shows like A Different World can exist alongside Fresh off the Boat and a scripted series from Wong Kar Wei or whatever and it's just part of the amazing smorgasbord of television available.  The show is funny and has a killer score with loads of classic hip hop and class Aphex Twin (lol!) and I can't love it more.

5) This podcast: Pop Rocket.  I went on a new podcast tear a while ago looking for new road trip material for me and the Dotytron, for the rare minutes when we're not blasting the Pirates of the Caribbean theme for our young 'uns.  We tried a bunch of different ones, some for a second time: Radio Lab, Love & Radio, All Things Considered, and Pop Rocket.  Now, all we want to do is listen to Pop Rocket.  I would listen to it when I would run, we listened to it in the car on our way down to visit my sister.  Now that we've finished Master of None and the new Mulaney stand-up and we're generally uninspired by TV, we've contemplated just listening to podcasts while we stretch (which is possibly the dorkiest combination of activities, ever).  It is that good.

Here is (are) my problem(s) with Radio Lab and others: 1) NPR voice.  Is there no diversity in the world of podcasts universally beloved by white people?  Do they teach nebbishy voice in public-radio school?  I hate the sound of the voices because they're all such a thing.  Pop Rocket has people who sound like themselves.  That being said, I CANNOT HANDLE John Oliver because I hate his voice and his face.  I also don't like someone screaming at me all the time?  Sorry?!  2) No perspective.  We listened to a Radio Lab episode on Patient Zero and one on the Galapagos, and look - I'm a generally interested person.  I like stuff, okay?  My interests are far-reaching.  HOWEVER, I want you to have a perspective on the stuff.  Don't just report to me, because not all of the topics are fascinating enough in and of themselves.  I need an angle.  FRAME THE ISSUE.  On Radio Lab, they say stuff like, "Wow. That is so weird." "Isn't that crazy?" and it's literally the blandest, most obvious reactions. If YOU are not invested in the topic, how am I supposed to be???

I have more points, but let me tell you about why I love Pop Rocket.  The core people are amazing - Margaret Wapler is a writer - former arts writer for the LA Times.  Oliver Wang is a DJ and academic.  Wynter Mitchell is a digital strategist, who came up with the "Straight Outta..." meme for Straight Outta Compton.  Guy Brannum is a writer and comedian who is currently working on the Mindy Project.  These people KNOW their shiz.  They know so much about popular culture and they have thoughts and ideas and Guy Brannum is a brilliant, smart, interested in all things commentator and I can't love it enough.  It's so good.  Their interests are so wide-ranging and the things they have to say and how they agree or disagree with each other is fantastic.

6) My kids.  I freakin' love my kids!  We had a crazy weekend that was jam-packed.  Friday I had the day off and took the twins to my work where they wreaked havoc and hugged my executive director and then I took them to the ROM where they were claimed to be scared of almost everything but in reality, weren't.  Then that night we got a sitter and the Dotytron and I went to try Brando's Fried Chicken which is a pop-up fried chicken place.  There was nowhere to sit so we took our chicken to go and sat in the car and ate it while listening to Pop Rocket.  We were still hungry and had a million hours to kill so we went and had a second dinner at Porchetta and Co (more fried chicken).  Then we went to my brother's belated birthday celebration which was archery tag (more like archery dodgeball) and it was fun and we got home late and it was life-affirming.

The next day we were hosting Friendsgiving, which is 15 adults and 6 kids in our little mouse house.  It was such a fun night.  We provided turkey and stuffing and I made pies and other people brought more deliciousness and there was a signature cocktail and we talked and laughed and I marveled at being around the table with this group of people, the core group of which have known each other for over 20 years.  It is incredible and heartening and I love my beautiful, diverse, talented, funny, accomplished friends with all my heart.  I love them.  That was another late night.

Sunday was about running a million loads of dishes and then going out to dinner with our friend A and his wife C who were in town from NYC and seeing A's gig, which meant the third night in a row that I didn't get to put my kids down to bed and I felt it keenly.  I'm craving it.  I love these little nuggets.

Language acquisition for the twins is proceeding at an epic clip and I feel like Lindsay is losing his fat toddler belly and it pains me.  Just this morning, I came down from getting dressed and he was in his high chair and he said to me, "Hi, mama.  I'm awake now," and I died.  DIED. DEAD. GONE.  He sleeps on the floor on a pile of blankets in their shared room even though we have a perfectly good crib mattress two feet away.  Quincess is still in his crib and he goes down with an arm around a mouse, a moose, and insists on his clutching a book which means that his arms are full.



The Big Yam is a sweet little nut and I love his butt so hard.  The other day, he had wandered off and when the Dotytron went to find him, he discovered that the Big Yam had found the iPad, closed our door, and was illicitly watching Team Umi Zoomi.  This is the first time we've caught him doing something overtly sneaky and the Dotytron impressed upon him how serious an infraction it is and told him he was supposed to come down and tell me what happened.  After 10 minutes, I went up to find him, and he was sitting on the corner of our bed in the dark.  READ THAT SENTENCE AGAIN AND TRY NOT TO HAVE YOUR HEART BREAK INTO A MILLION PIECES.  I pretended I didn't know what had happened and was like, "Hey buddy, it's dinner time, whatcha doing?" and at first he said, "Nothing," but he stayed where he was.  I asked some gently probing questions, "Is there something you want to tell me?" and after a few nos, he broke down and started bawling.  Like, those great, hiccuping, gasping sobs because he felt so bad.  Genuine kid tears from sadness (as opposed to kid tears from frustration at not getting something, or tears from being a flop when your sibling taps you) will end you.


The other day I came home and the Big Yam was on the couch, looking miserable - he was upset because he couldn't get his piano piece down (!!!!!).  I mean, c'mon!!!  I did what any self-respecting parent would do, and I put on an OG-Sesame Street video with Don Music:


I'm also into the following meals we've had lately:


Pulled pork sandwiches, made with pork shoulder braised in the slow cooker with apple cider, brown sugar, a bit of soy, and some bourbon.  Served on pretzel buns with a bit of my homemade chipotle barbecue sauce, with mashed sweet potatoes and a brussels sprouts and apple slaw.

Freezer rice, minced ginger, garlic, a jar of chopped kimchi, frozen peas, soy, rice wine, sesame oil, a bit of sugar, and shrimp. Topped with a fried egg.  That night I was convinced I had norovirus because I felt like I was going to barf on the streetcar - after punishing a bowl and a half of this stuff, realized that I was just hungry.

Freezer eggplant orzo with mozzarella which the kids hated, but which I loved because it was Thursday hell night.

Soup + bread is one of my meal templates.  My kids loved orange/red pureed soups so this was a roasted tomato soup pulled from the freezer with leftover pulled pork, sliced apple, and aged cheddar grilled cheese sandwiches.  HUGE.

Loblaws sells T&T's coconut bread in a loaf and they'll slice it on site for you.  I turned it into French toast and won the hearts of my goon squad for all eternity.

Biscuits from the Ovenly cookbook.  Recipe copied below.  These have honey in the mix and are brushed with a warm butter-honey mixture (supposed to be hot honey, but I didn't have it, but just imagine!) and then baked a bit more.  These were insanely, insanely delicious.

Great Nany Doty's pasta with rosé sauce, and a salad of roasted buttercup squash on a bed of spinach with a lemon tahini dressing and toasted pine nuts.

Smitten's cheddar broccoli soup (which is so much better than my usual recipe), with feta-basil-scallion muffins from the Ovenly cookbook.  These muffins were another huge hit.  Definitely work making a double batch and then freezing the rest...if I had an inch of extra space in my freezer.  Which I don't...because I'm a psycho prepper.  I'll post the recipe for the muffins tomorrow.

Annual fall risotto - kale, roasted squash, and bacon with sumac roasted heirloom carrots.

We recently did a Yummy Market run, which means part of the reason I'm out of freezer space is because it's stuffed with pierogies.  I always serve them with caramelized onions (pierogies are parboiled and then roasted in the oven with the onions), and the fullest fattest sour cream I can find (Pinehedge Organize 18% for the win!).  My local butcher who is a 3rd generation, anti-hipster type, makes very weird, very soft, very onion-y German sausages which are strangely delicious even thought they have no right to be, and the combo of the 'rogies and the sausage made for a killer meal.

Friendsgiving turkey - a full 20lbs.  I did the turkey flip thing this time around because I find the air circulation is never good enough to get that full expanse of juicy thigh meat skin properly browned.  It worked really well overall, but the flipping process was a mite precarious/fraught.

Smitten's baked ziti, which is basically like my skillet lasagne/regular lasagne/every pasta bake but I made it with Barilla's super skinny penne rigate noodles which made for a high proportion of crusty edges.  I am not the kind of parent who is above telling my kids that they "won't like" the layer of bronzed, chewy cheese on top and denuding their portions of it accordingly.

Listen, Smitten Kitchen's Deb Perelman is a freakin' culinary, home cooking saint, and she is justifiably beloved in the food blogging world.  She just KNOWS WHAT REGULAR PEOPLE WANT TO EAT AND HOW THEY WANT IT TO TASTE.  Which is why her recipes are featured so heavily.  She's good for some inspiration and for dialing in exactly what you want.  I made her pecan pie for Friendsgiving and people: IT IS SINE NON QUA.  Go out and make this right away.  Her recipe comes down to two parts: toasting the nuts (why didn't I do this before?!  AM I NEW?!?) and replacing the cloying, gummy corn syrup with golden syrup.  If you've ever tasted golden syrup (and this was my first time) it has a roasted, toasted, barley-ish depth to it that highlights the nuts, whereas the corn syrup just kinds of drowns the nuts in sweetness.  The texture of this pie was divine - mostly nuts mixed evenly with this round, caramely filling.  So often when you get pecan pie, it's a thin layer of pecans sitting atop an inch of goo.  This was so good.  

Still trying to get back into the regular swing of blogging.  BUT IT'S ALMOST XMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

OH GAWWWWWWWD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Fin.


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Biscuits with Honey and Thyme
Adapted a bit from the Ovenly cookbook.
Makes 12-14 very sturdy, substantial biscuits

18 T. unsalted butter
5 c. all purpose flour
2 T. sugar
2 T. baking powder
1 T. salt
1 t. chopped fresh thyme (I didn't have any, so I omitted)
5 T. hot honey (I just used regular honey)
2 c. cold buttermilk

- Standard biscuit procedure.  Mix dry ingredients together in a big bowl.  Cut 15 T. of the butter into dry ingredients until the butter is in small, pea-sized pieces.  Mix 3 T. of the honey into 1 3/4 c. of the buttermilk (reserve the 1/4 c. in case you need it if the dough is dry) and stir into the dry ingredients until the dry is incorporated.  
- Turn the dough onto a flour surface and pat it gently into a 1/2" thick rectangle (approximately 12" x 6").  Fold dough into thirds (like a letter) and then pat it down again so it's 3/4" thick throughout.  T
- The recipe says to cut the dough into 8 rectangles, but that's insane.  I made 12 and they were hefty...you could probably get away with 14.
- Put the biscuits on a greased baking tray and bake in a preheated 400F oven for 18 minutes.  Remove from oven.
- Mix together remaining 2 T. of honey with 1 t. chopped fresh thyme (if using) with the remaining 3 T. of butter (melted).  Brush over the tops of the biscuits and reduce oven temperature to 350F.  Bake the biscuits for an additional 10 minutes more until they are a burnished, deep golden brown.












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