Steps

September 22, 2011



Today Kathleen (of Jeremy and Kathleen- a great design blog) posted about things she's working toward: goals, intentions, long-term plans.  I love thinking about these kinds of things, especially since a lot of what I want is still in the process of being created.  I like planting seeds for the future.  I'm awful at having faith in these plans.

I do believe that the process of forming intentions is beneficial in and of itself.  A year and a half ago I started the Day Zero Project, which helps you make a list of 100 things you hope to accomplish in 30 days.  I've already made 50 of these things happen (with a little over a year to go), and I think that a lot of it fell into place by knowing what I wanted.

It's hard to trust process.

Yesterday, over Mamacha at Namaste Cafe I started reading Creative, Inc: The Ultimate Guide to Running a Successful Freelance Business.  Emma of Emma Freeman Photography  (our wedding photographer extraordinaire) recommended it to Ben & I, and it's really fantastic.  It's nice to dream about putting together a business.  It's nice to make plans. (And, meanwhile I can be inspired by my partner- who recently started a partnership with the Southern Theater!)

And, when I get sick of the business book, I turn to Molly Wizenberg's A Homemade Life.  It's fantastic- the perfect pairing of recipes with stories (even better the third time around), written by the blogger of Orangette fame.  And, if you look through her book or read through her blog, it becomes obvious that Molly had a lot of plans- and the confidence to make them happen.  I aspire.  (You really should read the book.)

In other news, I made some spicy pulled chicken with pinto beans, the first slow-cooker project.  Delicious.

Tomato Basil Balsamic

September 20, 2011

The new blender is magic & makes for fantastic salad dressing experimentation.

Have I mentioned how much I like salad?  It is my favorite food.  And, yes, I know how lame that makes me sound.  But I don't just like ANY salad-- I like an adventurous salad.  And this is the perfect dressing for such a salad:

2 T. Balsamic

2 T. Olive oil

1/2 a medium-sized ripe tomato

1 clove garlic

3-4 leaves fresh basil

A squirt of honey (1-2 t.)

salt & pepper to taste

Mix it all up and the blender.  If you want something REALLY delicious, add a few bleu cheese crumbles.



Now maybe Ben will share his recipe for the PERFECT burger, which I enjoyed on an english muffin, next to roasted potatoes and some mixed greens?

A wedding-- the way you want it.

September 17, 2011



Two of my best lady friends are getting married in the coming year, and I'm completely thrilled to get to celebrate their weddings with them!

The search for a wedding that felt, um, comfortable was at times really challenging for Ben & I.  The wedding world is a strange one, with a lot of pressure, a lot of magazines, and a lot of blogs picturing cosmetically perfect events that looked very foreign to me.  Sure- you love cake?  Have a great cake.  You and your partner like birds?  Well, have a bird-themed wedding!  We wanted to make a really great party- the kind we like...with karaoke.  And writing a ceremony that felt like us was really, really important.

Luckily, I discovered a community of people that reaffirmed my belief that you can have any kind of wedding you want.  You can, in fact, take and leave traditions as you choose without the wedding police coming out to get you.  You can also re-create traditions and make them your own.  This whole process (regardless of the general chaos) can be a really lovely time to decide what's important to you and your partner- to share a creative collaboration and learn compromise (since Ben and I both like to be in charge).  So, I put together a list of books and websites for Shelley and Mary- things I wish we'd found right away when Ben and I decided to have a wedding.  I think it would have made a lot of things simpler...

Websites:

A Practical Wedding: Written by NYU theatre graduate Meg Keene (I'm partial to the artists),  A Practical Wedding believes in minimizing wedding bullsh*t.  They advocate for every kind of wedding, and spend more time emphasizing what comes afterwards.  You know, the marriage.  Some of my favorite posts:

:: On reclaiming the word 'wife'.

:: Good advice from East Side Bride.

:: On the self-full wife.

:: Sanity on wedding details.

:: Meg's advice, based on her own wedding.

Offbeat Bride: Exactly what is suggests, Offbeat Bride will support your Starwars-themed wedding.  There are also lots of good resources listed for everything from ceremony readings to venue possibilities based on your location.  I especially liked this post about planning a budget wedding.

You'll soon discover that everyone and their mother made a blog about planning their wedding.  It's nice to have community, but looking at too many possibilities can be totally overwhelming and unhelpful.

Books:

Ariel, who started the Offbeat Bride website wrote a book, and it's great.  Check it out: Offbeat Bride: Creative Alternatives for Independent Brides.

Meg, of A Practical Wedding has also written a book, which is coming out in January.  A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration.  

Um...the idea of 'marriage' felt really loaded to me.  Maybe it's because I have divorced parents?  Maybe it's the whole institution?  I don't know-- but I read a lot of feminist literature.  Maybe this is your thing, and maybe it's not.  I read about transitions...

Some books on this stuff:

The Conscious Bride, by Sheryl Paul.

The Meaning of Wife: A Provocative Look at Women and Marriage in the Twenty-First Century, by Anne Kingston.

The Bitch In the House: 26 Women Tell the Truth About Sex, Solitude, Work, Motherhood and Marriage, by Cathi Hanuer.

Ok- so those are my suggestions.  Here's wishing you a smooth launch into marriage!  {Photos by Emma Freeman}

How post-modern dance is made

September 6, 2011



"We need to decide on a publicity image.  And on a title.  In the next hour."

"You need to stop stressing out about this.  This is supposed to be fun.  We don't need to do anything.  What did you say you wanted to call it?"

"It was a stupid name.  We shouldn't use it.  Prize Pumpkin."

"Let's do it.  Let's make a dance about a f*cking pumpkin.  It's being performed in October, after all."

"Do you mean in a metaphorical sense?  The pumpkin?  Let's make a dance about the idea of a pumpkin?  Like, what it represents?"

"Metaphor is dead.  I mean a pumpkin.  Let's make a dance about a f*cking pumpkin.  How do you grow a pumpkin?"

"We should research it."

*pause*

"Well, I think that's good for this meeting."

Prize Pumpkin is being performed at Patrick's Cabaret in October.  We aim to make this piece while being totally diplomatic with -and nice to- one another so that we can, you know, stay married and keep liking each other and shit.

In my mouth: buttery leeks & tarragon chicken

September 2, 2011

I love food.  I love food SO MUCH, and, cooking it is one of my favorite things to do with Ben.  I'm the cook that throws things together with little thought (or recipe), and usually makes it all work.  Ben is the methodical one, thinking of timing and combinations, and analyzing the result critically.  Our food budget is ridiculous, because we decide that what we REALLY need are oyster mushrooms...and probably some truffle oil, too.  There are worse things we could be spending a lot of money on, though.  Like, you know, crack.

One of my September goals is to figure out how to keep up the fancy eating and co-op food, while being more mindful of a budget.  We'll see how that goes.

Meanwhile, I'm also aiming to try new recipes and avoid getting stuck in a culinary rut.  Enter Lynn!  I can't recommend The Splendid Table's How To Eat Supper (written by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift) enough.  The recipes are simple, satisfying takes on basic ingredients.  We made a killer dinner this week, worthy of sharing: Roasted Tomatoes, Cucumber Salad, and (drumroll, please) Buttery Leeks With Tarragon Chicken.  And, it was all easy and relatively fast to cook.

Roasted Tomatoes (Serves 2 people that eat a lot)

These take the longest- about an hour and a half.  I halved six Roma tomatoes and put them in an oiled baking dish.  I sprinkled salt, pepper, and chile powder on them, and brushed a little olive oil over them.  Bake at 350 until they are shriveled (an hour to an hour and a half).



Tarragon Chicken Breasts with Buttery Leeks (Serves 2)

As you probably know, capitol "T" indicades Tablespoons, and lowercase "t" is for teaspoon.

1 C. finely sliced leeks
1 C. chicken broth
2 T. unsalted butter
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt & pepper
2-3 oyster mushrooms (you could go without- but they are SO good), thinly sliced
1 t. lemon juice
1 T. coarsely chopped fresh tarragon leaves


1.) Place the leeks in a large skillet with the chicken broth and half of the butter.  Cook at a gentle boil over medium heat until they are tender, and the broth has boiled down a bit.  It takes about 8 minutes.


2.) Sprinkle some salt & pepper on both sides of the chicken breasts.  Place them over the simmering leeps, spooning some of the leeks over the top.  Put in the oyster mushrooms.  Cover tightly, and reduce the heat to low.  It takes about 10 minutes for the chicken to cook, depending on how large the breasts are.


3.)  When the chicken is cooked, transfer it to a platter.  Increase the heat under the leek/mushroom mixture to high, and stir in the lemon juice, the remaining tablespoon of butter, and the fresh tarragon.  Season to taste.  Pour the leek sauce over the chicken and serve.

[Note: When we made this, we waited to add the oyster mushrooms until step 3.  I recommend doing it in step 2.]

Cucumber Salad

Place some or all of the following in with your sliced cucumbers (improvise!): Red onion, dill, fresh basil, garlic.  Dress with salt & pepper, and a little greek yogurt or sour cream.

All three of these together make me excited for fall and winter cooking!

 

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