Saturday, November 28, 2009

Remember Me

Saturday, November 28, 2009

What's that you say? You erroneously believed my affection for Twilight ended with the books and films? The answer to that is a resounding NOPE! I'll admit it-I have succumbed to the Robert Pattinson phenomenon. I may have watched Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire an additional four or five times since discovering him in the role of Cedric Diggory. I might have surreptitiously snuck into a quaint independent theater to watch Little Ashes, cringing and covering my eyes in certain compromising scenes. It's entirely possible that I followed the casting of Remember Me closely enough to know that Emilie de Ravin would be Rob's leading lady before they even began the notoriously difficult NYC shoot. Now I know that Rob is something of an attractive guy-okay, that is a major understatement for the 23-year old actor who almost knocked Johnny Depp out of the running for People's Sexiest Man Alive and boasts cover spreads on both GQ and Vanity Fair-but what I find even more appealing about him is his self-deprecating British humor and adorably awkward goofiness. He refused any media training in the months leading up to Twilight, but he manages to sail through interviews and press conferences seamlessly, relying entirely upon a plethora of wit and charm.

Lest you think I'm merely swayed by the face that graces nearly every entertainment magazine on a weekly basis, you should know that I'm crazy about both Twilight leads. I'm a BIG Kristen Stewart fan. Not only do I admire her acting ability-subtle, nuanced, and very serious-but I'm impressed with her sincere effort to remain aloof and separate from all the drama that inevitably surrounds a successful franchise. She displays a substantial maturity and presence for her age, standing in stark contrast to other teenybopper types (think Hayden Panettiere, Miley Cyrus, even Lindsay Lohan!). She's got style (see here and here, very cool but also age-appropriate, no cut-down-to-there evening gowns), she likes Camus, and she could care less what the world generally thinks of her. Granted, KStew has her moments of awkwardness (which I find endearing, for the most part), and she betrays youth and inexperience at times, but I kind of dig her. And yes, I know about the infamous pipe-smoking incident and the Joan Jett haircut and the extreme movie choices. I may not always adore every movie Kris chooses to make, but I certainly respect her. Trust me, we'll be hearing about her for years to come, and not just for the Twilight saga or feel-good 80's movies with awesome soundtracks like Adventureland.

After all this expounding on the individual talents of Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart, I cannot help but confess that the very best part of both is when they're together. Yes, I'm a naive romantic at heart who cannot help but be swept up into the idea of a love story forged between the two who brought Bella and Edward to life. The two seem very MFEO, if you know what I mean...


Despite having very justifiable reasons for my lack of posting over the past few months, I cannot help but feel saddened and even a bit guilty for letting my blog sit untouched, like a much-loved book gathering dust on the shelf. It is such a comfort to me, no matter how much I document the trivial and meaningless, or how few readers I may actually have. I look forward to when I am more readily able to carve time out of the day for writing about some of the wonderful books I've read, and I continue to stockpile images from dishes I have deemed successful and blog-worthy. It's been a difficult autumn, undoubtedly the hardest time I have ever faced, and I vacillate from feeling overwhelmed and burdened to having a resolute sense of staunch faith. There are some big changes coming up, and I may have to commit to making some decisions I never would have dreamed of, but are now altogether necessary. As I navigate these unfamiliar waters, I plan to drift back to my blog more and more, writing not just about my favorite tv couples or my Twilight fixation, but also more about music, more about books, and DEFINITELY more about food. I may stick with the light things for a while, but I'll be back in full swing soon. Until then, I must note some of the more egregious events, thoughts, and general tidbits that I have neglected to comment upon.

Chris Martin performed solo for charity in Mountain View, mere miles from me, and I DID NOT ATTEND! Among the glorious acts I missed was an acoustic cover of "Earth Angel." My mind cannot even begin to fathom the deliciousness of Chris Martin singing the words "Will you be mine..."

I finally got around to seeing X Men: Origins, Wolverine, which I watched for the sole purpose of supporting Taylor Kitsch, better known to me as Tim Riggins, #33, football hero and consummate townie, principal character of my beloved Friday Night Lights. If you have not yet been exposed to the wonder that is this show, I suggest you start immediately. It. Is. The. Best. Poignant and powerful, with the most complex and well-developed characters on television, hands down. It is a crime, a CRIME, that it has been snubbed time after time during awards season. Besides being interesting, occasionally funny, and an impressive depiction of a very real tradition in some pockets of America, it is incredibly emotional. I have been known to say that at times when I'm watching, I feel as though my heart as literally been pulled from my chest and wrung viciously. It can be gut-wrenching. Like the moment when Luke Cafferty, new running back for the East Dillon Lions...oh, shoot. I'm getting all choked up! Ay!

I was nothing short of thrilled when Wolf Hall finally became available on my Kindle. I'm kind of obsessed with the story of Henry VIII, which somehow never gets boring-one can always count on a new, fresh take on the "mercurial monarch", whether it's Jonathan Rhys-Myers tempestuous, petulant king on The Tudors or exhaustive biographies of Anne Boleyn. This fictional tale focuses on the life of Thomas Cromwell, a formidable figure who rapidly rose to power as Henry's right-hand man, but, like so many others before him, did not manage to avoid the blade. I'm only four chapters in, and it's already riveting. If only I didn't have to keep pounding the books about the plague...

Imagine my sadness at discovering, on MULTIPLE occasions, that previous commitments would keep me from ever seeing my Kings in concert (at least on this tour). Enter my newly acquired concert DVD, the second best thing. I am not ashamed to admit that I sat approximately one foot away from the tv, completely transfixed by Caleb's vocal stylings. Yes, I merely admire his musical ability. That is all.

Yup, the mania has already begun. 6/30/10. In my defense, Eclipse is my favorite of the series. It's only natural that I should MOST eagerly anticipate the film. I think the poster is a nice homage to the "fire and ice" quote in the opening pages of the book.

Well, I suppose this is enough for now...I'm off to indulge our newfound fascination with Modern Family. Hilarious.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I have never claimed to have good time-management skills. In fact, mine are downright atrocious. I'm a mess, known for such behaviors as staying up until 3 am to finish papers for school that were known about for months, forgetting for days on end to drop off dry cleaning, and returning unfortunately large or small items of clothing on the literal last possible date for return. It's pathetic, really. My SH is the absolute opposite of a mess, thank goodness. We were meant to be.

Needless to say, despite my love of cooking and preparing delicious meals for us, the fact that it's tremendously difficult for me to get things done often prevents me from branching out much beyond beans and rice. That and my inexplicably STRESSFUL job, which I shall not speak of.

On one particularly trying and looooong afternoon, I was rushing into my beloved local Trader Joe's when my eyes lit upon the colorful and rather haphazard pile of autumn squash, conveniently located near the front door. Inevitably placed there to honor the plethora of butternut squash-themed recipes that practically choke every issue of fall food magazines, I was immediately struck by the slightly scarred, bright yellow spaghetti squash, remembering my EXTREMELY successful first experience with the very aptly named gourd.

I came across a recipe for spaghetti squash and meatballs in an old issue of Everyday with Rachael Ray. Not surprisingly, I own every issue (save the pilot, original issue), and my collection has a prominent place in a wicker basket next to my bookshelf of cookbooks. I've always enjoyed squash, but there is something supremely satisfying about the unique qualities of spaghetti squash. Once cooked, with the pulpy, seedy section removed, it is possible to scrape the warm, sunny center with a fork, resulting in thin, delicate, and indeed, spaghetti-like strands. Tossed with a bit of butter and topped with delectable, spicy sausage meatballs, it makes for a warm, comforting, and yes, autumnal meal.

It was the simplicity of the recipe that drew my attention on my dash through the store. All I needed to pick up for dinner was the hefty squash and a package of spicy sausage. Granted, with the inclusion of sausage and butter, it's not the healthiest dish on the planet, but it was perfect at the end of an exhausting day. We ate ravenously, twirling golden strands of squash around our forks and devouring every last spicy bit of sausage. Not bad at all, for a last minute meal. Not bad at all!

Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs, adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray, October 2006

1 large spaghetti squash (about 4 pounds), halved lengthwise and seeded (2 notes here: My squash was exceptionally large, requiring me to cook it a bit longer. Be very careful when halving the squash-it can be unwieldy and dangerous!)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces (I cut down on the butter)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 pound uncooked chicken or turkey sausage, casings removed (I have to admit it-I used pork!)
3/4 cup plain bread crumbs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
8 basil leaves, torn (I neglected to put in the basil, although I'm sure it would be even more delicious with it!)

1. Place the squash, cut side up, on a damp paper towel in a microwaveable dish. Microwave on high until tender, about 15 minutes. Using a fork, scrape the strands of squash into a microwaveable bowl and toss with the butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
2. Meanwhile, combine the sausage with the bread crumbs and form into 1-inch meatballs. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat (I didn't use any oil, due to the high fat content of the sausage). Add the meatballs and cook, stirring, until browned, about 6 minutes. Cover and cook over low heat until cooked through, about 3 minutes more.
3. Reheat the shredded squash in the microwave and top with the meatballs, cheese, and basil.

Friday, November 20, 2009

World Tour, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009





Los Angeles

Tonight is the night! The day is mine! (a la SNL Celebrity Jeopardy Sean Connery) I head out to see my beloved stars in New Moon tonight. You should know that I have MAJOR movie theater anxiety, and the way I feel about crowds at a movie theater is something like what it must be like for an agoraphobic to go outside for the first time-obviously, I'm very committed to this franchise.

Here are my gratuitous photos of the whirlwind press tour-do you think much has changed in a year? My beloved sister and I are on our way as I post!

(credit for last photo: Check out the moonstone! LOVE it!)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Dear Dutch baby

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I just returned from a much-needed trip home to see my family. While the crisis we're enduring persists, it is an infinite relief and burden lifted to be able to be all together, in the same room, even if it is a hospital room.

A trademark of prolonged hospital stays is the necessity of friends and family members facing the inevitable thrice-daily decision of where to eat. Unfortunately, most hospital cafeterias leave something to be desired (Jamie Oliver, where are you when we need you?!), but truthfully, quite a bit of the time it just feels good to get out of the building for a while, sucking in fresh air and sunshine.

On one of these ventures, my sister decided to take my dad to an old pancake house, one of those establishments that's been around forever, retains a crusty, old-fashioned facade, and serves its regulars by the hundreds throughout the day. While it boasts a typical diner menu, the restaurant's specialty is German-style Dutch baby pancakes. When I received a MOST enthusiastic text message from my sister, describing in detail the "heavenly" Dutch baby, I agreed that they were something I would have to try when I arrived. Somewhere in the back of my mind I thought that the idea of a Dutch baby sounded familiar, but I couldn't remember where I'd heard it.

The morning after I arrived, we headed straight to the Ol' South Pancake House, ready to devour some Dutch babies. My sister was practically bursting with anticipation, whilst I reveled in the scene. I've always loved diners and breakfast spots in particular. There is something so satisfying about getting up early to eat a good breakfast. I wrapped my hands around the sturdy, thick-handled mug of coffee and we chatted about light, insignificant matters (very comforting in our circumstances) while we waited on our pancakes.

The waitress appeared less than ten minutes after we placed our order, balancing two plates that each held two Dutch babies, and two bowls of warm halved lemons. Fascinated, I watched as she unfolded a Dutch baby, which at that point looked something like a thick omelette-some kind of cross between crepe and pancake. Laid flat, I could see that it was covered with a generous amount of melted butter and a pile of powdered sugar. The waitress squeezed the juice from the lemons directly on top, a flood of tart juice engulfing the pancake. In a matter of seconds, she folded the baby back up again, and pushed the plate across the table, ready to go.

My first bite=HEAVEN. Tart, citrusy warmth cut through the golden, buttery cake, a perfect melding of lemon and sugar...pure deliciousness. As I made quick work of my second Dutch baby, thinking for SURE that it was the best breakfast I had ever had, I finally remembered why they seemed familiar. One of the chapters of Molly Wizenberg's (aka Orangette) book, A Homemade Life, boasts a story and recipe for the Dutch baby. I love the way she described her inaugural Dutch baby meal, and I thought it would be generous of me to throw in the recipe for good measure.

Molly's thoughts on the Dutch baby:

"When Jimmy pulled the Dutch babies from the oven, they were tinged with gold and gorgeously rumpled, like omelets with bed hair. Rebecca and I had no trouble putting away an entire baby each. Doused with lemon juice and dusted with powdered sugar, they were miraculously light, their eggy richness countered smartly by the citrus. I scooped up every last clump of lemon-soake sugar and scraped my plate until it shined."

Dutch Baby Pancakes with Lemon and Sugar
adapted from A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from my kitchen table, by Molly Wizenberg

This recipe is based on the one Jimmy uses, only with a more moderate amount of butter. He likes to make his in two 6-inch cast-iron skillets, but I make mine in a single, deep 8-inch skillet. (A 9- or 10-inch would also work.) If you don't have a cast-iron skillet of the appropriate size, you can also use a metal or Pyrex cake pan or a pie plate.

For the pancakes:
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon salt

For the topping:
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
Powdered sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 425. Put the butter in an 8-inch cast-iron skillet and place over low heat. Alternatively, put the butter in a similarly sized cake pan or pie plate, and place it in the preheated oven for a few minutes. As the butter melts, use a pastry brush to coax it up the sides of the skillet.

Meanwhile, in a blender, mix the eggs, flour, half-and-half, and salt until well blended.

Pour the egg mixture into the warmed skillet. Slide into the oven, and bake for 18-25 minutes. The mixture will rise and puff around the edges, like a bowl-shaped souffle. The Dutch baby is ready when the center looks set and the edges are nicely risen and golden brown.

Remove from the oven. Drizzle-or splash, really; abundance is good here-with lemon juice and sprinkle generously with powdered sugar. Serve immediately.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Paper Cut

Sunday, November 8, 2009

I am proud to say that I restrained myself from posting this clip on my blog for over a week! Is the obsession waning, you ask? Not at all, my friends. Not at all.