Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cooking, cocaine and 419 scam baiters.

Butternut squash bread a success! Ryan made it, so I do not know the recipe but I do know that there are two loaves of bread sitting on my oven, one is a braided loaf with cinnamon, sugar and butter (3 of my favourite things!) inside it and the other is a delicious crusty normal loaf. It was a great way to save my pathetic gnocchi dough - I -think- he just added yeast to my floury eggy squashy mixture. Yum.


I really love cooking. It satisfies the creative leanings I have as well as accommodates my tendency to ignore instructions. I would love to go to cooking school, but I have no inclination to be a chef. Shitty hours for shitty pay plus it's a high stress job. Most of the people in that sort of business that I've known have had real problems with cocaine and other stimulants. I knew one cook who would keep lines of the stuff ready in the big freezer. He and his friend would sneak back and do lines between orders. They thought that one of the busboys was stealing from them so they (in a typical coke head move - vindictive and poorly thought out) laid out a line of bleach or something else similar in consistency and colour. The busboy reappeared after a few minutes with his eyes red as tomatoes and streaming tears. Some fucked up retribution, that.


This reminds me of an episode of This American Life I was listening to yesterday about the 419 scam baiters. I have to say that I admired Ira Glass even more after listening to it. Previously, I had thought the 419 baiters to be funny and great examples of vigilante justice. One scambaiter got 2 West Africans to do the entire Monty Python Dead Parrot sketch. But as I listened to these people talk about what they did - getting a guy to go all the way to Darfur without food or money and then lying to him about his mother dying, all for the promise of $200,000 - made me feel a little sick. I thought that they were being a little childish. $200,000 may be pittance to us, but it's a lifetime of wealth for someone in his position. I realise that they are scamming scammers and the point of what they do is to drag out the scam as long as possible, tieing up the scammers time so that they are unable to scam unwitting, lonely, (stupid) people out of money. (Take a shot for every time I used the word "scam" in that sentence). But it's one thing to lead someone (who, yes, is trying to steal from you and yes, is probably a very nasty, unpleasent person) on for days and days and days, making him do humiliating things, it's quite another to send him to possible death, arguing, well, he was an idiot for getting suckered in the first place (which he could then turn around and say about the morons who do send him their life savings in an effort to free King Charles Xavier N'Dogo Felepwe). But anyway. Ira told them that he didn't think it was very funny to send a man into such a dangerous situation. I agreed (maybe I'm getting old??). Even watching the Monty Python sketch - fairly innocuous stuff - was hard, whether or not I think they are getting what they deserve. However, nobody deserves endangerment.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

[annoyed grunt]

I made really good gnocchi the other night. I used a combination of this recipe and this recipe, from Heidi Swanson's blog, 101 Cookbooks (I did not make peach gnocchi but I did bake the potato instead of boiling). Heidi has a great blog and I've gotten many ideas from it. I was so excited about the gnocchi as well as about the butternut squash I stuffed the other night that I thought I would combine the two.

I used this recipe from Earthbound Organic Farm's website, because it seemed the simplest. It also was a terrible recipe and I don't recommend it. The squash did not drain at all and the dough ended up all floury and lost all of the squash flavour, because I had to add so much flour in order to try and get it to a reasonable consistency, which I never actually achieved - we tried one dumpling because the "dough" was so questionable. I think that the recipe required the dough to be wetter than the potato version I previously made which would be fine, except that if I'd used the dough that would have resulted from following the exact instructions (less flour and assumably more butternut flavour), I would have been pouring it into the water instead of scooping it. Bollocks to that! Ryan's turning it into butternut squash bread as I type. Jerks.

In addition to that attempt, we pickled mushrooms yesterday and I'm soaking onions in brine for pickling tomorrow.

Saturday, September 27, 2008


A few days ago, Ryan hooked up my record player and receiver (vintage 1970's - with tubes!!). It was a wonderful surprise to come home to, especially because now I can exact my revenge on my downstairs undergrad neighbours that insist on coming home at 1am, blasting their stereo system and smoking cigarettes. Unfortunately, I do not own any Kylie Minogue on vinyl (yet!), so my revenge will not be complete.

Today I listened to Blood On The Tracks and I started thinking about all the music phases I've gone through.

1. Ages 6-10. The Beatles. That was pretty much it.
2. Age 10. I discover Faith No More and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
3. Age 12. I discover Green Day. The deep fondness I have for punk rock is rooted. I still don't really like the Ramones very much though. Surprising (horrifying for some, I know), but give me Social Distortion or the New York Dolls anyday. I also discover that I like the bass and funk music.
4. Age 13. I discover that Green Day kind of sucks, but George Clinton is pretty cool. I'm still ridiculously into the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I have my first kiss at a Duran Duran concert (I'm sure there's a Facebook club for this) and spend a lot of time listening to 80's music and watching the Big 80's while talking to Sara on the phone. I still love Duran Duran and all that goes with it. I wish I could have had the Talking Heads play at my wedding.
5. Age 14 - 17. I listen heavily to funk influenced music and stuff that is "technically" good. Buckethead, Praxis, etc. I can't really listen to that stuff anymore, I find it a little cloying. The Red Hot Chili Peppers consistently let me down. I tried to listen to a Primus album the other day and it just didn't feel right.
6. Age 18-19. I discover Glam Rock. A (so far) life long love affair has begun. I went on a date once with a guy principally because he looked like Marc Bolan. I think David Bowie should be president. I also start listening to poppier music that somehow doesn't typically make it on to the radio - things like Blonde Redhead and Ween.
7. Age 20-22. I live with Jay, Casey and Anna in Santa Barbara. It's at this point I discover Nick Drake, Cat Power, Elliot Smith, Yves Montand, Zoot Sims, Manu Chao. I become further enamoured of Ween, T Rex, David Bowie, Lou Reed, The Velvet Underground, the Flaming Lips, Beck, Air and the Violent Femmes among other bands. I start listening to everything I can get my hands on that Matador Records puts out (particularly Yo La Tengo, Belle & Sebastian and Arab Strap) and also listen to the best music radio program ever broadcast, Morning Becomes Ecletic with Nic Harcourt. I also began a fascination shibuya-kei music, electro-lounge and start listening to samba and bossa nova like mad. I develop a slight crush on João Gilberto as well as fantasize about learning Portugese. I started going to LA a lot to see shows as well as going to every live show I can possibly make it to in Santa Barbara and Ventura. I start to hate Phish and all things reggae. I also start building my vinyl collection.
8. Age 22-25. In addition to continuing listening to everything in the last phase, I have a boyfriend who wails on the harmonica. He reintroduces me to Bob Dylan and introduces me to Muddy Waters. I leave Santa Barbara and resume going to shows in San Francisco.
9. Age 25-6 months ago. Because he wails on the harmonica, I go with the then boyfriend to meet a friend of my friend Jessie, who has an old style, finger picking blues band he's trying to get together. I break up with the boyfriend but continue going to John's house nightly to hear the music and drink beer. I learn to love Etta Baker, Son House Robert Johnson and Mississippi John Hurt in addition to old time, hokum and bluegrass. I start going to as many shows as I can afford. Some notable shows I went to during this time: Ween (4th time), Flaming Lips (3rd time), Old Crow Medicine Show, Air, Chris Cotton & The New Hokum 3's, Deerhoof, Cat Power, Bob Dylan (notable only because it was Bob Dylan, Ladytron. It was at the Bill Graham and I just don't really go to shows at large venues - what's the point?).
10. I leave Palo Alto Investors and no longer have money for concerts. John Henry's Farm plays at my wedding. Then I move to Ithaca. There are some good vinyl stores here, but I'm too broke to shop in them.

This is just a short summary. I could go on and on, but the point is: I'm excited about my record player being up and running again.

Stock I

I've decided to experiment with making my own stock. I think it will end up being a useful thing in the kitchen and really not very hard as I peel a lot of vegetables anyway. The first attempt is on the stove right now (right next to the pickling mushrooms cooking in their vinegary, salty, lemony brine!). I used:

Squash pulp
Potato peelings
Top of a tomato
Carrot peelings
Courgette peelings
The outer fleshy bit of an onion
Mushroom stem ends
2 Bay leaves
Leftover garlic and chili peppers from the pickled green bean brine

Very appetizing, I'm sure.

For the water base, I boiled some and poured it into the dish I roasted the vegetables in for lunch and left it for awhile, so that I was able to pick up the left over starchy garlicky olive oily goodness that would have been washed down the drain.

I'll strain the mixture and freeze the liquid in ice cube trays, for use later. Cheap vegetable stock! Yum!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

2 Penguins & Stuffed Butternut Squash

Two penguins are walking along an iceberg. The first penguin looks at the second penguin and says,

"You look like you're wearing a tuxedo."

The second penguin replies,

"Maybe I am."
I'm still in Ithaca. Nothing much happens here, so I don't have a lot to report. Instead I must resort to silly jokes and Alfred Hitchcock movies.
I've been looking for employment beyond pony jockey (we went to a horse show on Sunday! Fun!), but have thus come up unsuccessful. Blame the economy, the fact that I am surrounded by The Nothing (at least it feels that way sometimes) or that I got a fairly useless degree.
Oh wait, there was something. I made stuffed butternut squash this evening. I sort of made up the recipe, so I wanted to document it:

Butternut Squash
Olive oil
Garlic (minced, 4 cloves)
Onion (chopped, 1 small)
Spring Onion (sliced, eh...half a cup?)
Veggie Ground (3 tbs)
Cheddar Cheese (grated, half cup - maybe more)
Pepper (fresh ground)

Slice squash in half and then cut of the long bit above the bulb. Once you've scooped out the seeds, you should have a nice bowl shaped squash. Drizzle the "bowls" with olive oil and bake in the oven for maybe half an hour (til they're cooked...) at around 400 degrees. In the meantime, peel the "stems" of the squash and dice. Heat up olive oil in a pan, add onions and garlic. Once the onions have become a little translucent, add the diced squash and spring onions. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Once the squash has softened a little bit, add the veggie ground. Cook until delicious.

Remove squash bowls from oven once they are done. Spoon in the stuffing, pack it as firmly as you can, as it will shrink a little in the oven. Cover the stuffing with grated cheese, put back in the oven to bake for another half hour.

Remove and serve with a nice salad made out of tomato, bell pepper and avocados that your friend Margo sent you from California, because you're too poor to buy them in Ithaca. Enjoy!

Friday, September 19, 2008


Yesterday we made dinner with the neighbours. They made spring rolls (delicious!) and we made the pad thai and the apple pie. Cosmo spilled my beer on me which was alright, he's only 3ish.

On Wednesday, I went and rode some more. After I was finished riding her and was leading her back to the barn, Mira spooked sideways and in the air at a Barbie Jeep. She sort of jumped right into me and stepped on my thigh, creating a large bruise. It was alright though, she's only 3ish.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


Here's me, trotting around on Raina. She's for sale if you're interested. Quite reasonably priced too for what she can do, she's just out of shape at the moment (as am I):

I'm taking her to a little show on Sunday. I also went along with Ryan and volunteered at this weird bike place in Ithaca, trying to get parts for my new old bike.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Vincent Price Cooks Pork Chops

Found this song on April Winchell's site. It's a mix using samples from Vincent Price's cooking tutorial LPs from the 1970's. If you or anyone you know owns a copy of these, I will Gladly Pay Top Dollar. Friends, family, if you really love me: that is what I want for Christmas, Birthdays, etc.

I think it's maybe the funniest thing I've ever heard. There is more hilarity here, including actual entire recipes from the LPs.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Awful, awful woman.

Someone must stop this awful, awful woman. She's a menace and I'm certainly not comfortable with her being a 72 year old heartbeat away from the presidency and neither should you!

Just read this editorial she wrote in the NYT about why polar bears should not be on the endangered species list. Note how she never actually tells you what reasons there are not to, just that she doesn't think we should.

OR how about this YouTube video of her standing on stage while her pastor or whoever claims that Alaska is a refuge state for after the rapture:

Note the poor grammar and nonsensical statements. ("Let's give the Lord a hand for our Governor!") Can you imagine the kind of people that take that sort of language seriously? They must be drooling morons!! There aren't strong enough words for that kind of stupidity!!

This hockey mom, average joe bullshit I find intensely irritating. I don't want my leaders to be average joes like the rest of America. I want them to be smart, open minded, quick witted and WELL READ. I want them to be able to name a philosopher besides Jesus Christ (who is arguably not a philisopher). I want them to have traveled and seen the world. I don't want a sniveling, vindictive little shrew who can't see past the end of her own nose.

That is all.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hurricane Ike

Hey Tal, how did the storm treat you? Are you okay?

Yup, we are ok. House is in good shape, but crazy winds and rain, streets are flooded, trees are down, roof tiles everywhere. No power, no water, but we have supplies, so we are ok! We took some pics, I'll send them when we have internet again. Lots of love, tal

Friday, September 12, 2008

Words I Hate

I hate it when people use the word "hubby". I think it's demeaning. It's irritating the same way the word "preggers" is. It's like when people refer to themselves as their pets "mommy" or "daddy." It is the same passive avoidance of labeling something what it is, because somehow, in this puritanical and American society, that's considered forward or even offensive. It makes people uncomfortable.

I think it's sick and weird to claim parenthood of your pet - I can almost guarantee your pet doesn't think you're it's mother and I also can't understand why one wouldn't call their husband "my husband." "Hubby" is awkward to say, just as many syllables as "husband" and gives one a sort of uncomfortable feeling of forced intimacy - which is another weird thing that is all too rampant.

I realise some of my best friends use this sort of vernacular but I still don't understand it.
Another word I hate: "Proactive"

I hate it because it means nothing. It's just space filler on the myriad of job descriptions or something for your boss to ask you to be, when they have no idea what they're doing themselves.

I blame Steven Covey for the inexcusable proliferation of this word. My senior class had to take a course called 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teenagers, for reasons that were never fully explained to us. That was where I heard this word first. He instructed us, through his series of workbooks and lesson plans to be "proactive" as well as "shift our paradigm." Nice, pretty, daring words from a Mormon. Keep Sweet!

I realise that I have known a lot of people who were probably instructed to Keep Sweet or who's sisters, mothers and possibly wives were instructed so. I hope for everyone's sake that they didn't. What an insulting thing to say to someone.


Back to pets. I hate when breeders combine 2 breeds of dogs and then name them some annoying combination of the 2 breeds names.

Golden Doodle.

I don't care how friendly or hypoallergenic these breeds are supposed to be the names are moronic. They're not cute or clever or amusing in the least. Maybe I should be "proactive" and suggest something else. What's wrong with Labrador Poodle? As in Doberman Pinscher? Or naming them after some region where they are bred? Or the activity for which they are bred? Perhaps these are too traditional and doesn't appeal to the breeders self-endowed ideals of their own uniqueness.


Crapspeak. A Business Lexicon.

I started collecting words and phrases when I worked for The Hedge Fund. One partner in particular was guilty of loudly shouting these annoyances across the office, the same way he would raise his voice when mentioning a famous persons name, at the same time looking around to see if anyone had heard him.

"Well, Alice, I'd like you to keep this fundraiser stuff on the downlow. Don't mention to anyone that your working on this stuff for the GAVIN NEWSOM FUNDRAISER." [shifty eyed glance around the office. "Oh yeah, YVES BEHAR may be comeing by the office later. Could you coordinate that?"

Crapspeak phrases include:

"Circle back"

"touch base"


"shoot you an email"

the word "love" in regards to setting up meetings, conferences and phone calls

I guess this entire entry all stems of my frustration with mediocrity and the conscious acceptance and embracing of it. People who don't believe that not reading is something to be ashamed of. People who think that being uneducated is something to be proud of. The same people who want their politicians to be "average" and "just like them." I'd better stop writing. I could go on all night.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Last night Ryan said that he'd managed to scrape weird white stuff of his tonsils. Now I have tonsillitis. I'm not sure how he exhibited primary symptoms and yet I managed to be the one to be sick, but there we are. I mean I didn't even take his last name, I certainly don't want his illness.

Tonsillitis is something my mother had a lot as a child and (I think) my brother did too. I had it frequently as well. I wonder if my kids will have it often. I wonder if I'll have kids, first of all.

I don't think people get their tonsils out anymore, as it was determined a bad idea to mess around with people's immune systems. But my mother had hers out and she was given strawberry ice cream as a result.

Which is such a classic story, it's practically a meme. It also makes me think about how much I love my mother.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Black Eyed Susies

Is my new favourite band this week. I saw them at a bar called Castaways that had a vaguely nautical feel, despite the fact that we are about 230 miles away from the ocean. The nautical feel wasn't overwhelming, it was just enough to feel a little desperate. Mostly it was just a bar for locals, which was what I had been looking for. It was the after party for something called Beerfest, which I had not gone to, not being able to afford the luxury of a ticket. I'm such a cheapskate lately - I made us go an hour early, to avoid a cover charge (I'm cheap about cover charges in general though, I think paying more than $5 to get in somewhere is exorbitant and won't do it unless there is live music in the place that I know I want to see, because then I can equate it as a ticket price in my head) and I nursed my beer for as long as I could, before breaking down and buying another one.

The headlining band was terrible. I didn't stay for them, I only know they were awful based on their 50 minute sound check. They were called Hubcap and were so unoriginally poppy that they were boring. Not a creative spark in a one of them and they took themselves so seriously that it was palpable. There is nothing worse than a pop band that takes themselves too seriously. You're playing pop music. I mean really - you're whinging away on your guitar, playing at a bar, not quite in the downtown neighbourhood of Ithaca, NY where the words "Men" and "Women" are written in rope on the bathroom doors - how seriously should you really take yourself? It was a little painful because I could also tell how nervously excited they were to be playing a show, almost like a 16 year old boy going on a date where he's pretty sure he's going to get laid for the first time. I'm sure that was why they took 50 minutes to do their sound check - probably mistaking their nervousness for appropriate anal retentiveness that "real musicians" should have.

Give me the gritty old timers or at least people who play old time that are just happy to be playing their music whereever they might happen to be. On the side walk, on someone's porch, just for the joy at plucking those strings. I saw a homeless man in Santa Barbara once with my friend John Henry. We sat and watched him play slide guitar for an hour on the boardwalk.

The Black Eyed Susies were refreshing after that terrible sound check. They showed up, late, got up on stage, played one song to check their vocals and then after a short break, put up a tight, polished performance. 3 women having a great time, just happening to be in front of an audience, playing mountain music and blues on the banjo, upright bass and guitar.

Sunday, September 7, 2008


Oh kids! I've been riding again!

There's a lady a little over half an hour from here that lets me ride her horses! She has baby horses! Between yesterday and today, I "backed" 2 year old. His first time and mine! Yay!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A snippet

Here's a snippet of my Ithaca Life:
Today I saw a man in the grocery store with a scraggily grey beard and scraggily grey hair who looked immuno-compromised, banging on a cardboard box shouting to his wife/daughter/grandaughter/girlfriend/ who knows, "They don't have my soda!" - he looked really angry about it. Not that this wouldn't happen in a California, it's just the sort of thing that has happened more frequently since the move. Then the check out girl asked me what exactly my kale was and I wanted to cry.