Monday, May 31, 2010

chicken korma

Monday, May 31, 2010

I was tempted to title this post "in which I dazzle my loyal few with my new photography prowess" or "new lens, delicious dish" or "the one where I finally take a great picture" but somehow I felt it might be better to stick with my usual routine, naming the posts after the recipes. As you MUST see, the pictures of this most delightful plate are considerably better than any I've taken. Contrary to what you might think, I did not, in fact, spend a few hours immersed in tutorials on Adobe Light Room in order to enhance my photography skills, despite the many millions of times my SH has admonished me to do so (for the record, I DO plan on building up my photo shop knowledge-PW and McMama both have lots of good hints and helpful posts, and I can also check on with my dear cousin Tyne, who is quite a photographer).

All it took for me to finally capture a food photo that was finally bordering on acceptable and pleasing was a new lens. Granted, the miraculous piece of black plastic is not cheap. You have to save up for these fancy accessories! However, I must tell you that it is worth every penny. Two words sum it up best: zero effort. I cannot wait to take more food pictures. I'm practically INSPIRED by this lens!

It is fitting that I chose this dish for my inaugural photo. Lots of great color, what with the rich orange, creamy curry sauce and delicately green cilantro leaves. I've been longing to try the recipe for quite a while. I use one of Jamie's recipes for chicken tikka masala, but I found myself drawn to the idea of adding a mild, simple curry (as Jamie describes it in the cookbook) to my repertoire. The final result is wonderful, a hearty, yet delicately-spiced curry. We swirled the yogurt into the warm flood of sauce cascading over the rice, and savored every delectable bite. I'm already trying to justify making it again.

Chicken Korma, adapted from Jamie's Food Revolution, by Jamie Oliver
(serves 4-6)

1 3/4 pounds skinless chicken breasts, preferably free-range or organic
2 medium onions
optional: 1 fresh green chile
a thumb-sized piece of fresh root ginger
a small bunch of fresh cilantro
1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans
peanut or vegetable oil
a pat of butter
1/2 cup korma or mild curry paste, such as Patak's (I was easily able to find Patak's at my local grocery, and Jamie has also included recipes for several different curry pastes in his book)
1 14 oz can of coconut milk (Lots of grocery stores carry reduced fat coconut milk now-a nice added bonus)
a small handful of sliced almonds, plus extra for serving
2 heaped tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups natural yogurt (I used my standby, 2% Greek yogurt)
1 lemon

To prepare your curry:
Cut the chicken into approximately 1-inch pieces. Peel, halve, and finely slice your onions. Halve, seed, and finely slice the chile if you're using it. Peel and finely chop the ginger. Pick the cilantro leaves and finely chop the stalks. Drain the garbanzo beans.

To make your curry:
Put a large casserole-type pan on a high heat and add a couple of lugs of oil. Add the onions, chile, ginger, and cilantro stalks with the butter. Keep stirring it enough so it doesn't catch and burn but turns evenly golden. Cook for around 10 minutes. Add the curry paste, coconut milk, half your sliced almonds, the drained garbanzo beans, unsweetened shredded coconut, and sliced chicken breasts. Half fill the empty can with water, pour it into the pan, and stir again. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 30 minutes with the lid on. Check the curry regularly to make sure it's not drying out, and add extra water if necessary. When the chicken is tender and cooked, taste and season with salt and pepper-please season carefully.

To serve your curry:
*Jamie suggests serving the curry with any of his rice recipes (contained in Jamie's Food Revolution and several other cookbooks). I was pressed for time, so I quickly tossed some basmati in my trusty old rice cooker before starting the curry.
Add a few spoonfuls of natural yogurt dolloped on top, and sprinkle over the rest of the sliced almonds. Finish by scattering over the cilantro leaves, and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over.

safety dance

I couldn't resist saving this little clip for myself. I think it's my favorite number from the second half of the season. Makes me feel joyful! And desperately desirous of a personal choreographer, dance instructor, and whole crowd of people to dance with.

P.S. I cannot figure out how to scale my embedded videos from Hulu properly, hence the black bar.

Friday, May 28, 2010

summer reading list

Friday, May 28, 2010

This summer, for the first time in four years, I won't be taking a class. In light of this plethora of free time and many hours I'll be spending in airports/in flight (apparently, this is The Year of the Wedding), I have decided to embark upon a veritable marathon of reading. My lack of pleasure reading has been sorely lacking the past few months. I am MORE than looking forward to diving into a book that wasn't forced upon me (no offense, 1984).

It's a diverse list, no? A book my mom loved in high school, three or four good classics, two highly-anticipated books that complete beloved trilogies, an fascinating bit of nonfiction, a's going to be an interesting summer!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

top 5 tuesday

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

This particular top 5, a list of my favorite Brits, has been brewing in my head for weeks. Perhaps I've been overexposed, what with all of the television and movie coverage of several of these favorites as of late. I do have a well-documented love of all things British, though, so it should come as no surprise that I have particular favorite individuals. It's not just about the literature, historical landmarks, or yogurt for me (seriously, the yogurt in England is unlike any other-I would ship it to myself by the truckload if possible).

5. Kate Winslet. She's the only lady on my list, and for good reason. I have adored her since she heartily admonished Hugh Grant's Edward Ferrars to read Shakespeare with more feeling in Sense and Sensibility and passionately wandered the English countryside in the rain just to observe the home of lost love and gold-digging scalawag Willoughby. Besides possessing a considerable amount of talent, Kate is admirable for not giving in to the super-thin Hollywood actress stereotype. She takes on gutsy, challenging roles and is not afraid to sacrifice how she looks. Which is luminously beautiful, by the way. Love her.

4. Hugh Laurie. An incredible actor. His talent is astounding, especially considering that he was best known in England for his comedic roles, while now snagging repeated Emmy nominations here for his role as the pill-popping, high maintenance genius of the eponymous House M.D. As House, he is simultaneously infuriating and funny, but somehow manages to make the viewer pity his lonely existence. Quite masterful, not to mention all done with a pitch-perfect American accent. Seriously, it's the BEST accent you've ever heard. In fact, when he auditioned for House, the producers/writers/powers that be apparently had no clue he was British, and were shocked to hear him speak naturally after the audition. Let's not belabor the sad fact that a group of talented writers and producers were unaware of Laurie's noted celebrity and renown in his homeland. Couldn't they at least have dredged up the memory of his tiny role on Friends as the grouchy passenger highly irritated with Rachel's shenanigans as she flew to London to stop Ross's wedding?

3. Chris Martin. Oh, my beloved Chris. The man behind the band that I adore, the driving force and inspiration behind some of the world's greatest songs. Stupendous musician. Husband of Gwyneth, father of Moses and Apple (two tiny carbon copies of himself, by the way). To add the to the growing list of qualities I admire? He's not afraid to make fun of himself, as evidenced from this hilarious turn on Extras.

2. Jamie Oliver. I'm not sure that there has ever been a chef/television personality more appealing than Jamie Oliver. He manages to be funny, charming, and inspirational all at once, rattling off quick, easy, and delectable recipes that make the viewer (or reader) feel as if it's a piece of cake to make a lovely dinner for your family without spending too much money or time. I adore hearing him chat about his daughters (Poppy, Daisy, and Petal) or wife Jools, and of course am completely smitten when he tosses about common English sayings like "tuck in." I thought it would be impossible for me to love him more, and then Jamie's Food Revolution came along. I am a fan for LIFE.

1. Robert Pattinson. I must confess, I waffled back and forth about placing Rob at the number one spot thinking SURELY Jamie deserves it and for goodness sake, I've admired him for longer and he certainly has a more solidified, respectable reputation. It's certainly less embarrassing to put Rob at the #2 spot. He is, after all, a recently discovered talent who shot to fame by taking on the role of a much beloved romantic character. We really haven't seen what he can do, so to speak. However, honesty must prevail on this blog of mine, and Rob is simply my favorite. That is my truth! For the record, my admiration is not at ALL due to his physical appearance. I happen to think that he's got quite a bit of potential, both musically and theatrically. He takes himself a bit too seriously, granted, but he is tremendously appealing in interviews and legitimate publications. Goofy, funny, self-deprecating, and wildly unprepared for his current status as a worldwide movie star. Additional points granted for almost exclusively taking on literary roles and keeping his Kindle with him at all times. Yes, I know that he has a Kindle. My celebrity knowledge is exhaustive, seemingly without limit.

I must now away to my study to continue my close reading of Sir Walter Scott's The Antiquary. How appropriate!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Everyday green chopped salad

Monday, May 17, 2010

It's shameful, downright shameful, how many successful recipes I have sitting around and gathering dust in my soon-to-post about folder. I'm practically taking on the behavior of such noted and beloved food bloggers as Orangette and The Smitten Kitchen, who frequently talk about recipes waiting "in the queue"! Let's face it, I'm no high-class food blogger. Clearly, I lack focus when it comes to blogging. I am, however, a burgeoning gardener and huge, die-hard fan of Jamie Oliver, two traits which led to my adoption of this most delicious, beautiful, and HEALTHY salad.

I've always wanted to be better about adding a decent green salad as a side to every meal. I know it's not as complicated, fussy, or tedious as I tend to make such a task, and that if I make it a habit, it won't be a hassle at all. Jamie O. would not be pleased with my reticence, I'm sure. He would probably hand me this recipe and tell me how easy it is. He is most certainly right.

This salad took all of five minutes to throw together. Thankfully, I had a mountain of fresh lettuce available-my garden is actually borderline out of control (the photo below was taken only a few weeks after planting)-as well as plentiful avocados (I'll really try to keep the bragging about my especially fruitful tree to a minimum). I had the rest of the ingredients on hand, but I'm sure it wouldn't have been the end of the world if there were no cucumber or green onions. As it is, this salad is unbelievably good, and undeniably simple. All that fine chopping means each precious bit of green is perfectly doused in the tangy homemade dressing, which is made even better (as are most things) with the creamy deliciousness of the avocado. In fact, I may have added an additional avocado to my salad. And possibly eaten most of a salad that was meant for four people. Perhaps that wasn't Jamie's intention...

Everyday green chopped salad, adapted from Jamie's Food Revolution, by Jamie Oliver

4 scallions
1/2 a cucumber
a handful of fresh basil leaves
2 small, just ripe avocados
1 butterhead lettuce
Large handful sprouted cress or alfalfa
optional: 2 ounces Cheddar cheese
extra virgin olive oil
red wine vinegar
English mustard
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Get yourself a big chopping board and a large sharp knife. It's best to start by chopping the harder, crunchier veggies first, so trim and chop your scallions and slice your cucumber. Slice your basil. Bring it all into the center of the board, and continue chopping and mixing together. Halve your avocados around the big pit. Carefully remove the pit and peel the skin off. Add the avocado flesh, lettuce leaves, and cress or alfalfa to the board. Crumble over the cheese, if using, and continue chopping. When everything is well chopped, you'll have a big mound of salad on the board. Make a well in the middle and drizzle in 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar. Add a teaspoon of English mustard and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Mix up so everything gets well coated and serve on the board or in a bowl.

Casting news

Why yes I do consider it my personal responsibility to stay up to speed on my fave stars' upcoming projects. As you can see, they're both rather bookish. Points to Kristen especially for taking on what really can't even be deemed a starring role in a literary classic. As for Water for Elephants, I literally cannot wait to see Rob squaring off against Christoph Waltz. Naysayers, he's playing with the big guns now!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The more fashion-conscious sister...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Thanks to a considerable amount of wrestling with, it's only a matter of time before she is here visiting me again! I cannot wait! Trips to the beach, hiking in the forest, biking across the Bridge...our days will be full! And the food, the FOOD! You can bet there will be another bacon doughnut in our future. Probably a trip to the Bi-Rite Creamery. More than likely, we'll spend some time walking around the Ferry Building sampling wares...okay, I'll admit it. The majority of our time will be spent eating. Always. Delicious food > sights and souvenirs.

P.S. You'll notice we're prone to speaking in an accent when we're together. We're aware.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

One of these is not like the other.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Oh, how I remember those fabled days leading up the release of the highly-anticipated Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. It was the summer of 1991, and in the eyes of me and my best buds, Kevin Costner as Robin was a smoldering romantic hero. We loved his silly bantering with Maid Marian, were touched by the brotherly love he felt for that young rogue Christian Slater, and giggled when he decided to take a naked swim, a scene which by today's standards was quite chaste and also, completely ridiculous. Obviously, the considerable amount of wisdom I have gained over the years has eliminated the cheesy romantic film that obscured my vision, and I now see Kev for what he was: approaching middle-age, slightly pudgy, and possessing about as much acting talent as one of the stars of Gossip Girl (with the exception of Bull Durham, of course). Mightn't he have hired a dialect coach? Could he not even ATTEMPT an English accent?

As usual, my judgment (even at a young age, I felt it was fairly good!) was muddled by the interference of the deliciously lame romantic ballad, "Everything I Do (I Do it for You)." Yes, Bryan Adams is mostly to blame for my infatuation with Kevin Costner as Robin Hood, and my misguided teenage certainty that the love story depicted on screen was one for the ages. Preposterous! I am SUCH a sucker.

I'm pretty sure this most modern, most exciting take on the legend of the medieval outlaw won't be much like its predecessor. You probably won't catch me writing a shameful confession years later about how much I loved it.

"Walk the wire for you...yeah, I'd die for youuuuuuuu"

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The perfection of Target.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Look at these beauties! I crafted them for the lingerie shower my sister and I will be having for our cousin in a few weeks. Actually makes me feel a bit guilty for going to a special stationery shop to purchase my fancy wedding invitations. One could have these lovely, delicate invitations for $35, a mere pittance compared to the monstrous expense of designer invites!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Lord have mercy.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


I'm pretty sure we're not in Forks, Washington anymore.

*First official still of Bel Ami. Henceforth to be known as the moment I began to panic imagining the transformation of paragon of tortured vampiric perfection Edward Cullen into the lecherous Georges Duroy.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

spring playlist

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ah, the budding, blooming month of May. Time to (finally!) put away my rain coat, clear out a plot for my tomato plants, and open the windows each day so as to thoroughly enjoy the cool, fresh breeze. Time to start organizing my thoughts for the paper due at the end of the quarter. Time to start figuring out what I'm going to be wearing to the approximately 5,000 wedding events I'll be attending over the summer. And, despite the perfection of my last list, time to put together a soundtrack for the spring.

No Sound But the Wind-Editors. Yes, I know. It's a rather dramatic song. Or melodramatic, whichever you prefer. There is actually a lyric about "the kiss of the snow." Gah. Besides belonging to a lovely scene in my beloved Twilight saga, I was drawn to the song because of the constant reference to "carrying the fire", a poignant line oft-repeated in The Road, arguably one of the best books I've read this year. I'll write about it some time.

This Too Shall Pass-OK Go. I heard this song first because of the Rube Goldberg-inspired video, which is obviously awesome. I challenge you, however, to find a single person who doesn't find themselves smiling a bit as they listen. Let the morning come.

Cheated Hearts-Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The first of three, yes, THREE tracks that I flat-out stole from my BFF. I can't help it, her taste is incomparable!

Fader-The Temper Trap. I spent MANY an afternoon basking in the sun and listening to the Temper Trap's contribution to the 500 Days of Summer soundtrack, "Sweet Disposition." This one is almost as addictive, and perfect for the FINALLY warm days of spring.

Dead End Justice-Dakota Fanning + Kristen Stewart for The Runaways. Let it be known that I selected this number for my spring playlist simply because "I Love Playin' with Fire", the song Kristen sang alone for The Runaways, was not included on the soundtrack. Hence, the inclusion of Dakota Fanning. Don't get me wrong, Dakota was a perfectly acceptable Cherie Currie. But my Kstew? Not only did she completely capture Joan Jett's performance persona, she nailed the look. SHE GOT A MULLET.

Black Thumbnail-Kings of Leon. Sometimes I like my music to be a bit hardcore.

Giving up the Gun-Vampire Weekend. I find Vampire Weekend to be bright and uplifting, sort of in-your-face catchy. Their most recent album release was super-hyped, but I'm not sure I enjoy it as much as their earlier stuff. This particular song is an exception.

Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up)-Florence + the Machine. As I mentioned in my winter playlist, Florence + the Machine is a new find. I'm eating the album up! It's one of those "every song is worth the purchase" situations.

Darkness Is So Deep-Hurricane Bells. You can thank the Twilight saga for introducing Hurricane Bells to the world. Their song on the New Moon soundtrack was one of my favorites, as you can see, and I downloaded their debut album as soon as it was released. Oddly enough, the album as a whole couldn't sound more different from their offering on the soundtrack, but I still love it. Hints of My Morning Jacket, sort of eclectic and funky. Definitely worth a try.

Swim Until You Can't See Land-Frightened Rabbit. The one downside to my best friend's Twittering? I'm unable to resist looking up the songs that she hears, Shazams, and then tweets about. I purchased a whole album's worth of songs over the past few weeks! It's getting out of control! As usual, her ability to discern up-and-coming talent is incredible. A few days after downloading this delicious Frightened Rabbit song, I read an article about the British bands unable to make it to Coachella because of the smoking volcano. One of them was Frightened Rabbit. Of course, I thought.

Lover of Mine-Beach House. Melodic and haunting, the duo that makes up Beach House are apparently quite popular these days with the college crowd (according to monthly Rolling Stone top albums lists). I wish I had been that diverse in college, listening to unusual indie stuff instead of Jennifer Lopez-Ja Rule collaborations and Dave Matthews.

All for Love-Serena Ryder. My lovely and beloved sister introduced me to Serena Ryder, and I immediately understood why she loves her. The husky-voiced Canadian's angst-ridden, folksy-sounding pop is exceedingly pleasing, even if it breaks your heart.

Little Pieces-Gomez. "Pieces falling from me, you can have them for free..." Love these guys.

Abandon Ship-The Sorry Kisses. I might have to confess that I watch Grey's Anatomy just for the opportunity to hear bits of new music, like this one. It's pretty much all the show is good for, save any scenes featuring McSteamy's wit or the occasional Lexie Grey meltdown. I find those moments quite entertaining.

Keep the Car Running-Arcade Fire. Love this song. It inexplicably makes me feel hopeful.

I'll Build You a Fire-Seabear. A discovery from the Indie Spotlight Sampler that I raced to download, and incidentally, the only song on my list that I find myself humming constantly. I suppose you could say that it lingers more than the other songs.

Wicker Chair-Kings of Leon. One of three delectable KOL b-sides that I recently discovered. I listened to them incessantly and determined that "Wicker Chair" was my favorite and belonged on my spring playlist. Interestingly, I reread the Rolling Stone feature on the Kings recently and Caleb specifically referred to this song as being one of their best. I tend to agree.

Help Yourself-Sad Brad Smith. As we all know by now, I'm completely helpless when it comes to tunes sweetly placed in movies and television shows. This one lurked in "Up in the Air", waiting to snag me with its poignant and touching lyrics and soothing sound. "I know you'll help us when you're feeling better and we realize that it might not be for a long, long time..." A timely, wonderful song.

(bonus track) Married Life-original motion picture score, Up. I know that an instrumental track doesn't very well belong on an actual playlist, but I couldn't leave it out completely. I downloaded the track that belongs to the heartbreaking, pitch-perfect opening montage of the sweetest animated movie you'll ever see. If you must know, I was inspired to get it after the interpretative dance for each of the nominees for Best Song at the Academy Awards. Shoot, did I just undermine the entirety of my musical expertise with that confession?