Friday, April 18, 2008


Yesterday was a college friend's birthday. Of course I am still working on her card as I just can't get it right. It isn't a work of art even at its best, but it needs to be something that shows how much I care especially as I haven't spoken with her for months now. Why do I let so much time elapse? Why do I hesitate to write or call friends and family back? Why do I let days, weeks and then months (or even years) go by before responding?

I remember during the summers I would go a month or two without talking to my closest friend at the time. Both of us were too involved in other things and we didn't mind the time spent without made no difference in our friendship. I suppose this is what it is to be at heart a loner and a homebody. It is hard to explain how wrapped up you can become in your own mind, thoughts and world unless the other person is likewise occupied.

The Joy of Tasters

I made Let's-Put-Everything-In-That-Isn't-Tied-Down pasta last night. Originally it was going to be pasta with Italian sausage and broccoli rabe, but I thought I should use the broccolini in the refrigerator and then there was some cherry tomatoes sitting out that needed to be used too.... In the end the pasta also had some garlic, extra virgin olive oil, saffron, red pepper flakes and tomato paste added too. On the top freshly grated parmesan cheese. Taster A (I must protect the innocent, but there has to be a better way to distinguish my tasters. Still thinking about names from mythology) felt it was lacking something. Taster B had two helpings and really enjoyed it (also took some to work to eat for lunch). Taster C thought it was good, but not what she wanted last night.

I have noticed a trend. Taster A and Taster B don't often agree about what they love. When Taster A is ecstatic about dinner, Taster B may respond by saying: "This is chicken? Are you sure? What did you put in this? I just can't place it." I reply and ask whether he likes it: "I am not sure. It isn't disgusting." High praise indeed. Another thing he will comment with is: "It is edible." Wow, what a glowing compliment!

When Taster A doesn't like something she'll say: "It wasn't my favorite thing. It could use something. It isn't as favorable as your other dishes." Keep in mind that she says everything with her facial expressions. Taster A could kill a person with her dark and withering scowl or make your stomach tense up with a look of pure and unvarnished disgust. Her face can say: you are worse than sewage or dumber than dirt. Although when she likes something she is very enthusiastic: "Everything was delicious! The rice was cooked perfectly. The chicken was so moist and tender. That asparagus rocked!"

Tasters are finicky or at least mine are as I can only satisfy 2 out of 3 at the best of times. You slave over a hot stove, spend ages cleaning up after your mess and this is the payback? Yes. One person happy with the meal and it was all worth it.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Blast From the Past

This was a draft post dated September 28, 2007...I think it is time to dust it off and publish the sucker. Please remember that I was writing about the past and it may not properly reflect what I now feel. I have been working on my perception as perception is so incredibly important! In fact your mind can persuade you of quite remarkable things and some of them aren't healthy in the slightest.

I have been meaning to share a very special blog with you, dear reader. I think the minute you begin reading Orangette you realize what a blog should be: personal, warm, friendly, witty, informative, whimsical and charming. In fact, it is little wonder that Molly met her husband through her blog. For a lovely little real life romance centered around food (a certain lemon cake actually) check out the link to their Food Network profile.

I think this brings home how blogs can bring people together. I know that in the food blogging world (yes, there is one) fellow bloggers have established friendships exchanging ideas, tips, stories, recipes and information. They also actually visit each other. I find this sweet and amazing as I find it hard to even catch up with friends that live in the same city. I think it opens my eyes to what lives other people lead that seem to have sweeping vistas.

For me most trips are carefully, nearly painfully pondered where I have to skirt around possible problems and constraints: financial, time, logisitics, not to mention the huge clothing dilemna. I make everything much harder than it should be and it is all due to insecurity on my part. The actual travelling I relish, it is the process prior to the journey that bothers me. I have this fear of what people from my past will think of me to the point I have hidden when I have seen someone from high school in a store. This is arrogant on my part as I don't think they would necessarily remember me anyway. I usually remember people while they forget. The problem is this fear extends to family and friends. I hide from them too. When I didn't I had to prepare myself for it and I wasn't always successful....

In July of 2003 I went to a college friend's wedding in Maine. The trip in general was fantastic and the wedding lovely, but the night before the wedding I was struck with such waves of sadness, embarassment and a sense of not belonging or fitting in that I couldn't eat (a highly unusual occurance for me) and sat reading some local paper fighting back tears for which I luckily snapped out of later that evening and was in good spirits for the rest of the weekend. Still, I felt awful about my moodiness and inability to deal with the emotions in a "normal" way. In the back of my mind the episode only reinforced my own ideas of being socially inept and too damaged to be much of a friend. I had faced a similar situation at my maternal grandparents' 50th Wedding Anniversary a few years before in which I felt paralyzed by a feeling of profound alienation and shame at being me whilst surrounded by family.

The years following college I had a crisis of identity and I forgot how to related to others. My world became smaller and smaller as I tried to find meaning and understanding about myself. My route diverged from the norm quite radically. I didn't pursue a career nor did I pursue a romantic relationship. My feelings of alienation only increased until I became isolated, anxious, and ashamed. I assumed it would be better to stay out of people's lives than corrupt them. Yes, dear reader, I was maudlin.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Links and the Mighty Dollar

It only took me 10 months or so to add links to the blogs I have mentioned. Nothing like promptness to keep this blog active and fresh! I think I could mention dozens if not hundreds of blogs. So, I will only add to my list when I actually blog about them. How cool is it that the woman behind Cupcake Project left a comment on my blog thanking me??? Pure class. I will never stop marvelling at how people can find you in this vast world of ours.

On to another subject a couple of Saturdays ago (or three who can keep track which is why I blog and journal) was a day to weed through old cookbooks. We are talking about microwave and lite cookbooks along with other cookbooks mostly dating from the 1970's and 1980's. Five boxes later we took them to our local Half Price Books and received less than $40.00 for the lot (including some stellar dvd's like Honey) which we burned through (and more) with new purchases that fit into a single bag. A lesson in the value of the dollar and inflation, dear reader! What is even more enlightening is that we were estatic with that they took everything. What a feeling of freedom and lightness!

Another Friday Night

This Friday night I couldn't fall asleep so I watched AMC's Fear Friday. I remember the AMC of old which showed wonderful classic films without commercial interruption much like TCM today. There was even the AMC host Bob Dorian who introduced the films. Do movie hosts have to have Bob as a name to be considered? Think of TCM's main movie host Robert Osborne and then the much missed Joe Bob Briggs who used to be on TNT. Then again on AMC the other host was none other than George Clooney's father Nick Clooney--no Bob there.

I discovered this blog post about the evolution (or perhaps devolution) of AMC. I could not agree more, although it is best not to look backwards. At least the new AMC is being bold with its original shows like Mad Men and Breaking Bad...that is progress. I do like the concept of Fear Friday as well, but I found myself really distracted and annoyed with the numerous commercial breaks. Every commercial increased my appreciation for TCM and made me long for the old AMC more.

Last Friday they were showing Brian De Palma's The Fury. I had seen this movie several years before, but I couldn't remember much of it other than some teenagers with incredible psychic abilities going insane. I did not remember Kirk Douglas as the secret agent (spy) father of a psychic son kidnapped and willing to do anything to get his son. The son is played by Andrew Stevens the son of Stella Stevens (I mistakenly thought Connie Stevens was his mother) who happened to be in a lot of tv movies and shows in the early 1980's and he often played someone with a disturbing intensity: a stalker or a young man who prefered wealthy older women, but had the vibe of Joseph Cotton's character in Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt. The young woman who is just discovering her psychic abilities is Amy Irving (has anyone seen Crossing Delancey with her in it? It is a family favorite).

I think this viewing of the movie I particularly enjoyed all of the disparate threads that make up this film. The Fury is a curious mix of cloak & dagger, action film with horror/psychic film added in for good measure. There is death from the usual car crashes and gunfire, but also from extreme loss of blood that is a hallmark of horror films. There are beaches in the Middle East under attack, covert government agencies without restraint and ruthless power, exclusive all girl high schools, luxurious scientific foundations discovering psychic abilities and a huge remote estate. If you look closely you will see a very young Daryl Hannah and Laura Innes. With a larger role is Dennis Franz as a New York cop of all things.

I won't write a summary of the film as I am terrible at them, but if you enjoy 1970's horror based upon powerful psychic ability and some over-the-top blood scenes not to mention levitation and blue glowing eyes you will have fun with this one.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


I have been very inattentive lately. I think I have had other things on my mind. Still, it is already the 10th of April and unforgivable if I continued to leave my blog sadly empty. Recently I have been really interested in cupcake blogs. One or two of you may remember I wrote about a cupcake blog many moons ago. Cupcakes happen to be a very popular subject for blogs. I subscribe to one: Cupcakes Take the Cake that culls the internet for news on cupcakes and delivers it to its cupcake-happy readers several times a day.

One blog they recently introduced me to is Cupcake Project. This is a blog with a mission and purpose. It began as a way to chronicle the baking of cupcakes for the blogger's friends' wedding and after that success she is baking for Bride & Groom 2.0 as she calls them. You can read all about it--her cupcake triumphs and not-so-triumphant cupcake experiments there. I love how she chronicles the tasters' reactions.

I think I may need to have tasters and also cute nicknames for everyone. I am thinking gods and goddesses, as I love mythology. If you are particularly taken with a certain god or goddess please let me know. If you wish to become a taster you must love food and be adventurous. As it is usually somewhat difficult to deliver food across state lines without great expense and trouble, being near me may also be critical....

By the way, as much as I wish I could claim credit for the lovely cupcakes at left, they aren't mine, but an image I found at UW Libraries Blog of all places (talk about perfect combination: cupcakes and books!).