Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Off Topic - The Paper

For anyone who had any doubts. Yes, I am a geek. And therefore, I am totally addicted to The Paper on MTV. Yes, I was on the school paper all four years of high school. And I love The Paper immensely mainly because it's just so over the top. I feel so sad for Amanda, the Editor in Chief. She's Tracy Flick as a real person. Her organizational skills are in inverse proportion to her people skills. She's the high school editor version of Michael Scott, organizing team building exercises and team meetings, all the while her staff is either laughing at her or actively trying to bring her down. I'm not sure who is more loathsome, Giana, the Features Editor who is trying to channel Rachel McAdams in Mean Girls or Alex, Amanda's ex-friend, and the person she beat out to be Editor in Chief. It's clear Alex and Amanda are into each other but Alex is more than happy to sell her out to the "popular" kids on the paper, Giana and her minions. It doesn't help that Alex has some festering resentment of Amanda being editor in chief because she, like, wrote a good application. Seriously folks, this show is my crack. For those of you wonder, I was News Editor two years running. I was one of those Type A folks who read the minutes from the school board meeting to see if there was anything newsworthy.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

An Entry 14 years in the Making

For those Wrinkle in Time Fans, I'm going to pull a Mrs. Who for this entry – using the words of others to capture my feelings.

Something has changed within me
Something is not the same

The thing is, I'm the one who stayed. I came here in 1994 and saw friend after friend move away for a job, grad school, family or just because they didn't like the weather. But I stayed. There's something about DC that feels like home. Maybe it's the scale of the city. Maybe it's the fact that we talk about elections in the same way we talk about sports. Whatever it was, DC wasn't just a place to live.

DC has been really good to me. I sort of stumbled into a career where I get to make change. I found things to do – singing, quilting, playing tennis. I came out. I got my heart broken. Multiple times. I broke hearts. Far fewer times. I found the love of my life and got married. We turned 30. Turned 35.

We built a life together that involved friends, family, and food. We lived in a group house and then we moved to an apartment by ourselves. Another apartment by ourselves on Capitol Hill. And finally a house in Cheverly with a real dining room table. We threw dinner parties. We found the best group of friends anyone could possibly ask for.

Too late for second-guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It's time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes and leap

It started as just an idea. Nothing firm. No plan. Just kicking around the thought of moving to the Bay Area. As ideas went, it looked like something far in the distance if it were to happen at all. It was more of a joke than anything else. Wouldn't it be fund to work in San Francisco? We could pay $3000 in rent for a studio! Hahaha.

But then we both had job opportunities with places that we wanted to work. We looked at Craigslist and saw some two bedrooms in our price range. And we visited and spent time with June and Muffin and Rebecca 1.0 and Bellisima. At some point, it felt less like walking away from this awesome life we built in DC and more like walking towards a new adventure.

It's time to try
Defying gravity
I think I'll try
Defying gravity

Then we both started applying. By February, I got a job offer from an organization in Oakland that allowed me to work from home until June and J was interviewing for four different positions in San Francisco. The weird thing was we kept seeing all of these signs for us to move. One night we turned on the TV and PBS was doing a travelogue on the Bay Area. Another day we turned on the Food Network and THEY did a travel show on San Francisco. And then we turned on Lifetime and saw the series finale of the Golden Girls where Dorothy marries the guy from Airplane! in the ugliest wedding dress ever made.

I'd sooner buy
Defying gravity
Kiss me goodbye
I'm defying gravity
And you can't pull me down...

We did fall in love with San Francisco. Really all it took was an afternoon at the Ferry Plaza farmer's market. Then Bellisima, who works as a beverage manager at a high end wine bar took us to dinner and showered us with free wine. Then we went to dinner with my brother at his friend's restaurant, Maritime East and J got to taste Dungeness crab. And then J had a burrito in the Mission District.

Beyond the food, was a city with views. We thought about weekend mornings driving ten minutes to the beach or driving across the Golden Gate Bridge to see the redwood forest.

I'm Limited
Together we're unlimited
Together we'll be the greatest team
There's ever been, Glinda,
Dreams the way we planned 'em
If we work in tandem

So here we go. We'll definitely be in the Bay Area by June. My piece of reassurance about this whole things is that I came to DC with a little bit of family in the area and that was it. J and I head to Oakland will each other, great jobs, June and Muffin, and Rebecca 1.0 and Bellisima. We've both been asked to serve on the Board of Directors of two community organizations we love and respect. There are a zillion farmer's markets and hopefully a good CSA we can join. Hopefully, we can find a place that can accommodate our dining room table. Hopefully we can build a circle of friends to eat around the dining room table.

So if you care to find me
Look to the western sky
As someone told me lately -
Ev'ryone deserves the chance to fly

Mixed in with the sadness is a huge amount of gratitude. J and I would have never met if it weren't for DC. We wouldn't have started this blog and met awesome people like Scotte, Jason, and Stef.

There will always be a piece of me in DC. This city has sustained me in a zillion ways. I get a clench in my stomach about leaving this city and our friends but as I've told many a person who's left this city before me, the sadness means that you actually did something. Leaving is already hurting like hell because I know there will always be a piece of me in DC.

Tell them how I
Am defying gravity!
I'm flying high
Defying gravity!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Another dairy free delight

We visited the Lambers in the Bay area a few weeks ago. They are exceeding fun to hang around with and even more fun to cook with. They have a lovely gas grill where almost every night we made some marvelous grilled protein (turkey burgers, chicken breasts) and a set of grilled vegetables (zuchinni, eggplant etc). So my last night with the Lamers, L made this great tomato sauce composed of quality canned tomatoes, two big springs of basil and two whole garlic cloves. The basil and garlic were fished out of the sauce at the end of the cooking. As the Lambers are conscious of making sure they get protein, I suggested putting in pureed tofu into the sauce to make it creamy. I'd seen in on a vegetarian cooking show where some lady made a fake alfredo by marinating tofu in miso and then pureeing it. I figured we could make a protein-rich, dairy free penna in vodka by doing the same. As it turned out, the pureed tofu was a wonderful addition. It had more of a ricotta texture but definitely added the requisite creaminess. A healthy shot of vodka and some simmering later, there was our penne in vodka sauce. For about two cups of sauce, I would add a half a block of firm (not silken or extra firm) tofu.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Ok this is a tiny little entry. Sunday night, we had the marrieds come over for dinner. This was a very casual thing and we ended up making stromboli with Morningstar Farm "meat" crumbles and a salad (bag of salad greens, walnut, balsamic vinaigrette). I will say I learned to put the seam side down on a stromboli because as they baked, the seam split.

For dessert J bought coconut and raspberry sorbet. As an accompaniment, I made lemon cookies. I am beginning to understand Ina Garten's obsession with citrus zest. At a crafting thing I went to, someone put orange zest in a chocolate chip oatmeal cookie and it tasted amazing. For the lemon cookies, I went to epicurious and their recipe for lemon cookies were simply a basic sugar cookie recipe with two tablespoons of lemon juice and a tablespoon of lemon zest. The result was one of the best cookies i have ever made. It was spring in a cookie with a resonant lemon flavor and aroma. Next up lemon panna cotta! All hail the zest!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Spaghetti Carbonara - SOOO EASY!

CRAVING FULFILLED! I've been craving spaghetti carbonara for ages and I finally got around to making it. The great things about spaghetti carbonara is the sauce is based on scrambled eggs and pasta water as opposed to cream. Given that J is lactose intolerant, this makes a great pasta dish for both of us (as I can put tons of parmigiano reggiano on my plate of carbonara separately). The other great thing about spaghetti carbonara is how totally easy it is to make. Perfect for a cold night after work.

Here's how I did it:

1 pound of pasta
lots of salt
5 slices of bacon (or an equivalent amount of pancetta or guanciale if you want to be totally traditional
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1 cup of parmigiano reggiano

Fry bacon (or any cured meat thereof) until fairly crispy and fat is completely rendered. Add the garlic and turn off the heat. Bring water to a boil and add enough salt until the water tastes "as salty as the Mediterranean," which is to say, pretty salty. Cook spaghetti according to instructions. When spaghetti is close to being done, take about half a cup of salty water out and reserve. During that time, heat up the bacon mixture. Drain the pasta and add to the bacon. Toss thoroughly with the pepper and nutmeg and turn off the heat. Add eggs and toss furiously so the eggs turn into a creamy sauce but don't solidify and coagulate. Add about two or three tablespoons of the pasta water and toss thoroughly again to make the mixture creamier. If the mixture is still too thick, add a bit more pasta water. Sprinkle lots of the parmigiano reggiano on top and toss again. Add even more cheese. Enjoy.