Friday, November 30, 2007

The Experience...

Is it just me or does Jeff Corwin really seem like a jerk?

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Dems cancel debate over writer's strike??? Okay, let's halt part of our political process because the WGA wants more money off of DVD and download sales?? I mean don't get me wrong, I support the writer's strike (even if I do think it's silly that Heroes' Dec. 10th episode had to be re-edited in order to serve as a "season finale") but I do think its a bit silly for the democrats to cancel a debate because they don't want to cross the picket lines. These folks aren't the teamsters, they're writers! And, what's with CBS not intending to televise this debate nationally, anyway?? Random!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Hungarian Goulash

Tonight's Austro-Hungarian speciality was Hungarian Goulash. I had roughly glanced at the Goulash recipes on Epicurious and then called the Mom while I was in line at Wegman's to get tips and hints from her Goulash recipe. The Mom's advice included brown sugar and a can of tomato sauce. From the Epicurious recipe (also the only Goulash recipe in the Gourmet Cookbook) I used the caraway seeds, beef broth, red pepper and potatoes.

I began by slicing up one yellow cooking onion and sauteeing it with a bit of garlic in butter and olive oil on medium heat until the onions were soft. Once the onions were translucent I turned up the heat and added in one pound of veal cubes (aka "veal for stew"). I browned the veal, added in one tablespoon of paprika and one thinly sliced red bell pepper. Once the veal was browned I added in a bit of cooking sherry to deglaze the pan. Once deglazed I added about 3/4 of a cup of beef broth and one small can of hunt's tomato sauce. At this point I added in 1/4 of a can (18 oz can) of tomato paste, approximately 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar and one tablespoon of dark brown sugar. The I simmered the Goulash on low heat for about 45 minutes. During this time I sliced up three good sized butter potatoes and boiled the potato slices. Once boiled, I added the potatoes to the Goulash (together with a pinch of caraway seeds). Add additional red wine vinegar and brown sugar to taste-- you're going for a sweet/sour tang. I served the Goulash on extra wide egg noodles (with a bit of butter). It was very tasty and I was happily surprised that the veal remained very tender!

Next up: Wiener Schnitzel and Spaetzle!

Tricks of the Trade...

Need to put a baby to sleep? First, you need to have a sleepy baby. Either by bottle (aka food stupor) or by tiring out said baby via tickling, excessive playmat activity, driving in the car or the like. The add any one of the following elements: (i) Swan Lake, (ii) the noise from a hair dryer, (iii) the Beatles or (iv) the whirr of a vacuum cleaner.

Beaver, Rollo-- Road Hog!

Yesterday Baby G and I were in the WF parking lot and were almost plowed into by a woman in a gi-normous SUV. Now I'm all for SUV's but really.

I do have to complain about women drivers in the gigantic ones. I'm not talking your regular sized SUVs (i.e. the Pathfinder, Highlander, Cherokee, even LR3s, X3s, X5s and Explorers/Blazers)-- regular size SUVs are fine, people can drive them and not act like they're steering a tuna fishing vessel, but put somebody (especially these local WASP-Y "wear riding breeches and boots to the grocery store" types behind the wheel of any type of Escalade, Yukon, Durango, Navigator, Aviator, Excursion, Expedition, SUBURBAN and you've got trouble.

Here we were in the parking lot, going up *our* side of the lane and meanwhile I've got a big beige Escalade heading down the *middle* of the row as if it were going to ram the Wagon right out of its way.

Okay, note to drivers of vehicles so large they have their own zip code: let's not cruise the parking lot as if each row is "one way" at top speeds of 30mph plus.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Last night we were watching Heroes in the family room on the big sofa. The Husband was still in his dark suit from work and Baby G was asleep in his arms. I'm sitting next to the family unit and out of the corner of my eye I see a big giant black spider (and when I say big, I mean BIG) crawling on the Husband's knee. Being a girl, I of course start making hyperventilating screeching sounds about spider and baby, spider near baby!! Spider is on the move, going up the Husband's leg and he can't see it (blending with the suit)... in a split second I grab our tv remote and WHOOP! smack the Husband on the leg, killing the spider (which has now rolled up into a ball and fallen onto the couch cushion). I felt bad about whacking the Husband, but I had no choice! It was a tarantula in training heading for Baby G!

Austro-Hungarian Week!

This week is Austro-Hungarian Week. Technically, because of the dearth of Austro-Hungarian recipes on Epicurious, it will actually just be a three day week, but I digress. Last night we began a bit Germanic with Bratwurst and Warm german Potato Salad. I picked up the bratwurst at Whole Foods together with some really tasty hard onion and poppy seed rolls. I pan fried the bratwurst in a little bit of olive oil and when the bratwurst was almost done cooking I cut each link in half and added the beef broth, onions, apple cider vinegar and sugar from the potato salad recipe to the pan. Once the mixture reduced I added it to the boiled potato slices (and the bacon). I served the bratwurst on the rolls with some spicy German mustard.

Tonight we're going to try Hungarian Goulash and then we'll end with schnitzel and spaetzle.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Day 16....

Day 16 of the Stagehand's strike, come on, people! Broadway awaits!

Randomly, Some of My Favorite Movies

Pulp Fiction
Manhattan Murder Mystery
The Da Vinci Code
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
The Out-of-Towners
The Right Stuff
Reservoir Dogs
Max Dugan Returns
Bringing Up Baby
Everyone Says I Love You
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House
Rear Window
North by Northwest
You've Got Mail
Ocean's Eleven
The Bourne Identity
Star Wars
The Empire Strikes Back
Moulin Rouge
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade
The Untouchables
The Departed
Some Like It Hot
Annie Hall
The Philadelphia Story
A Christmas Story
The Hudsucker Proxy
O Brother Where Art Thou?
The Royal Tennenbaums

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Gravy Train!

Thanks to an article in New York Magazine last month (in the Design Issue) I got this really cool Gravy Boat the other day at Crate and Barrel. The picture on the website doesn't do it justice. It's really neat looking.

Butternut Squash Soup!

Tonight, as a precursor to Thanksgiving, I had planned to make Butternut Squash soup. Last week I had made Ina Garten's recipe and it was okay but not as flavorful as I was hoping. I have had Whole Food's BSS before and it was really tasty so I went on the WF website to checkout their recipe resources but none were too helpful. I also consulted with the Gourmet cookbook and Epicurious, from all of this I got some ideas and then put together my own recipe...

1 2 pound Butternut Squash
1 Green Apple (Granny Smith)
1 Leek (green and white parts) chopped
1 1/2 cup diced mirepoix
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 cans (14oz. each) of vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of garlic salt, kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Sautee the leeks and mirepoix in the butter and olive oil on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes or until soft (with leeks and onions translucent). Add vegetable stock, salt and pepper. Cut up squash and apple into rough chunks and add to vegetable broth, increase heat to bring to a slow boil, then simmer until squash is soft. Add remaining seasonings (with additional amounts of seasoning to taste, if preferred). Once the squash is soft, puree soup and serve.

I served the soup with home made pumpernickel and rye croutons and grated Gruyere. (I made the croutons by cutting up Pepperidge Farm Pump/Rye swirl bread, coating with olive oil and baking at 350 for 12 minutes... I also added some grated Gruyere on to the croutons before baking as well).

The soup was very creamy (even though no cream or milk was involved) and the apples gave it a fresh, light taste.

Do try and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Photo Op Part Deux

These are the pics that didn't get picked for the art show.... what do you think?

Sexiest Man Alive

People has announced it's latest "Sexiest Man Alive" and this time the winner is Matt Damon. Kudos to Matt... I understand that both George Clooney and Brad Pitt have been campaigning hard for him and after the success of the Bourne franchise, certainly honors are deserved. While I can appreiciate Matt as a sexy guy, I do think the title of "Sexiest Man Alive" may be a bit of a stretch. That's a big title to wear. It's not just sexiest man of the year or sexiest guy this week, but it's sexiest man alive. While Matt would win hands down between best buddy Ben Affleck (sorry Ben, but you just have too much of that fluctuating Mariah-Carey-Esque metabolism thing going on, and let's not forget Gigli), but really, for Matt Damon to be the sexiest man alive there would have to be some sort of giant sexy man catastrophe-- like all past winners would need to have been at some sort of sexy man convention which is then tragically wiped out by an asteroid. We'd have to lose Johnny Depp, George, Brad, Leo DiCaprio, Taye Diggs, the list just goes on and on. Let's not even go into the contingent of sexy men from the British Isles (hello Ewan, Clive and the new James Bond). Then, there's always Antonio Banderas. Sure he's been reduced to doing voice overs for allergy medicine commercials, but still!

Feng Shui

The Husband has a Kitchenaid Pro-Line Espresso Maker. We bought the first one in 2004, had to have it replaced in 2005 and just had to have the replacement replaced. Thankfully, Kitchenaid's 2 year warranty program is really great. The first two machines were bright red. Unfortunately, when I called to get the new replacement I was informed that they no longer make red, they only have pearlized gray. The Husband noted that it was too bad that they didn't have red anymore since we were trying to decorate the house with little touches of red in each room. It is true that it's a shame they don't make red anymore, but now our new decorating theme can be: "touches of things that work".

Monday, November 19, 2007

Valley Oil...

This morning (while watching Rachael Ray) I heard the oil truck pull up. These are the same people who came and filled up our tank at the end of April last year (because there's nothing like getting 250 gallons of oil for summertime). We've made plans to bring the family room online with the rest of the house's heat system (which means a conversion from oil to gas) so we're looking to use up what oil we have left and certainly not invest in any new. Unfortunately I hadn't yet gotten out of jammies, so I ran down the stairs, threw on my Uggs and one of the Husband's overcoats (it was the first one in the closet) and ran outside the house shouting after the oil man to stop pumping. I was quite a sight in my striped pj pants and giant men's coat. The oil guy stops the pump and gives me the bill for what had already been delivered. $39 and change for 11 gallons, per gallon $3.349. Upon coming back inside I realized somehow or another I now smelled like oil fumes. I figure easily I had about $1.50 worth of fumes permeating my outfit.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Greek Week Comes to an Abrupt End.

Last night we had yogurt baked chicken with spanakorizo and potato, red onion and caper salad. The spanakorizo (spinach with rice and lemon) was very tasty as was the potato salad. Unfortunately, the chicken not so much. The baked yogurt and onion mixture which surrounded the chicken was good, but the chicken breast that the Husband got was tough and didn't taste right. Mine was okay but not compelling enough to keep eating. As a consolation, we had rice krispies as a midnight snack. Tonight Spanakopita was on the menu but alas, my heart's just not in it. I think we're ordering from P.F. Chang's instead. Here's to hoping the Griggstown Turkey we're having for Thanksgiving has a better fate.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Photo Op!

I just got notification yesterday that one of my photos will be shown in the Between Heaven and Earth exhibition at The College of New Jersey! More details to follow!

The Sesame Street Personality Quiz...

You Are Cookie Monster

Misunderstood as a primal monster, you're a true hedonist with a huge sweet tooth.

You are usually feeling: Hungry. Cookies are preferred, but you'll eat anything if cookies aren't around.

You are famous for: Your slightly crazy eyes and usual way of speaking

How you life your life: In the moment. "Me want COOKIE!"

Sense Memory

Ever have one of those moments where you remember something based on a taste or a smell? Today we had tuna on fresh rye bread from WF. The smell of the rye (it was even still warm!) made me remember that I used to eat cream cheese on rye bread. Yum!

I'm not a Conehead!

Mom just knits my hats that way.

Quest for Fire!

This weekend the Husband lit a fire in the dining room fireplace! Miraculously no smoke entered the house! Woo-hoo! Looks like we'll be doing this fire thing more often.

It Continues...

Tonight's Greek Week fare was Pastitsio and Dolmades. I have to say, I did not come close to Leda's mom's Pastitsio, but for a first try it wasn't bad. The taste was authentic but the recipe didn't call for enough milk in the bechemel sauce so overall the pastisio itself was a bit dry in parts (ugh!) As for te Dolmades-- they turned out *much* better than expected! They did taste like the real thing, I just needed some avgolemono sauce on top.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


Finally, I have a new cell phone. I got a pink Motorolla Razor (like Thisbe's!), mind you, Dave has had a Razor for how many years now? I know, I'm behind the times. But it arrives and alas, no headset. Noting that, the description on the Verizon website said it would have a headset, but fine, whatever, I have a spare. However, my spare uses a regular old audio headset jack. Razor? There's no headset jack. None. Instead there's just a lowly data jack.

My first thought: No headset jack? Bluetooth? I can't get a bluetooth headset! Resistence may be futile but I can't assimilate! I did try to warm up to the idea of the borg headset, but I'm just too much of a luddite when it comes to cell phone technology. I'm still distraught over the fact that my Charlie's Angels Nokia from 2001 stopped working and that was five years ago! I was one of the last holdouts still using an analog signal. Don't even get me started about the battery life issues. Camera phone?? What for?? I always carry an Elph!

What to do? I'm at Target today and I manage to scrounge up a headset that uses a data jack. I probably should have bought two.

Greek Week Begins!

Tonight's dinner was Fassoulada (Greek Bean Soup) and Olive Bread. First off, let me start by saying that I should have read the Olive Bread recipe before jumping right in. I should have known something was awry when I thought to myself "gee, this is alot more yeast than I used the last time I made bread." Not to mention that there was so much "dough" I couldn't use the cuisinart but had to go instead with the Kitchenaid (plus dough hook) and even that was a bit overflowing. Yeah. That's because I had enough dough to easily make 20 rolls. The Olive Bread was pretty easy to make but for some reason the kalamata olives I used made the bread a bit bitter at times. Though, all in all, fresh baked bread (once you put a touch of butter on it) is always tasty. Also, though the recipe didn't indicate, I did bake the rolls in the oven with a cast iron skillet filled with water. This creates a steam environment which permits the bread to have a nice crispy exterior (a tip learned via the Cuisinart bread recipe).

As for the Fassoulada, it was easy to make and tasty. I started off with two cans of cannelini beans, a half a can of kidney beans, one can of diced tomatoes and two tablespoons of tomato paste. I added a bit of water (so that the beans and tomatoes were covered) and brought the soup to a boil. I also added in diced celery, onions and rough diced carrots. The recipe called for two bay leaves and a handful of chopped fresh flatleaf parsley. I simmered the soup (after it initially came to a boil) for about 60 minutes (or until the carrots were tender). I also added in mini pasta shells (because you can never have enough starch). Before serving I added salt and pepper to taste, together with a bit of oregano and a touch of balsamic vinegar.

Tomorrow's challenge--- Dolmades and Pastitiso!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Welcome to Greek Week!

I know its been a while since we've done a theme-dinner week, but it's back and this time the theme is Greek food! We're working with recipes from Andy Harris' cookbook, Modern Greek. We were going to kick things off tonight with Spanakopita, but we got lazy and decided instead to order a pizza. However, the pizza decision was cast after our 2 pound eggplant was already roasting in the oven. That being said, we did prepare Melitzanosalata (Eggplant Dip). This dip consists of 2 pounds of eggplant (roasted), garlic, a grated yellow onion, red wine vinegar, flat leaf parsley, olive oil and salt and pepper. I liked it (though the roasted eggplant was a bit more green than brown-- I would have preferred brown, so perhaps I needed to roast it for longer) but the Husband wasn't a fan. In case you were wondering the pizza (from Domino's) was okay, the chicken kickers, outstanding as usual.

So, for the rest of Greek Week we've got the following recipes on tap:

Dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) with Pastitsio

Spanakopita with Ktipiti (spicy feta and pepper dip) as an appetizer

Potato, Onion and Caper Salad with Chicken Baked in Yogurt with Spinach and

Fassoulada (Greek Bean Soup) with Eliopsomo (Olive Bread)

As usual, I'll let you know how it goes!

Friday, November 09, 2007

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Whole Foods...

how do they stay in business??? Okay, I like going to Whole Foods. They have great humuus, really tasty crostini, that great mexican dip and the produce and meat selections are fresher than Wegman's, however, some aspects of their business model really confuse me. Take for instance, the type of folks they hire. Everybody seems well meaning and generally carefree. This is great for limited retail applications (perhaps a Starbucks, etc.) but in a grocery store? Case in point, I pick out a container of store-made guacamole. I didn't really notice until I went to check out that it didn't have a bar code (or any pricing information, for that matter). At check out my cashier flags down "Rotkar" the front end manager. He just shakes his head and waves his hand indicating "just put it in her bag." Yup, Guacamole not marked-- ever heard that joke "oh, no price tag, it must be free today!" well, apparently, at Whole Foods that's true. If it were Wegman's they'd have some sort of a code for guacamole by the pound or worse comes to worse they'd just not sell it to you and say it's your loss... WF? Oooops! We didn't mark it! Our mistake! Just take it!!

Then I had a dozen roses. When I picked them out in floral they were in a bucket marked $12.99. They rang up $14.99. Rotkar goes over to floral to check it out and in the mean time my cashier rings up the flowers at $12.99 and processes my AMEX. (Why she did this I'm not sure...) Rotkar comes back and says "$12.99 is for the conventional roses." (Mind you, I didn't quite see what was unconventional about the roses I picked out, but whatever). I say, "For $14.99 I don't want them. Can you credit me the $12.99?" The cashier explains that she already rung them up at $12.99 and processed my card. Rotkar says, "You'll take them for $12.99?" and I reply, "Sure." Done.

Granted, the bucket was marked $12.99, but still, no holding firm, no process the credit, no we'll just give you cash back... nope, go ahead, name your price!

Again, I'm not complaining, I got free guacamole and flowers at the right price, but the semi-hippie retail mentality just throws me!


I hadn't actually heard Rachael Ray use the term Spoonula before (until just now). I thought it was just a joke.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


Is it just me or does everybody drop a $50 (or more) every time you go in to Target? Sure, I go in to buy a box of Electrasol dishwasher tablets and I come out with four pair of seasonal baby socks, a monthly planner for 2008, various Johnson & Johnson baby products (on sale!), baby wipes (also on sale), antibacterial dish liquid (giant sized) and a toy cell phone (which probably works better than my real cell phone).

It's an S-N-P Thing Part Deux

So we're watching episode 2 of The Salt n' Pepa Show and Pep has brought a guy out on a double date with Salt and her husband. You have to love the following exchange:

Salt: "Red flag, red flag!!"...."So his woman stabbed him?"

Pep: "A guy hit me in the head with a can of paint, you know that story!"

Random Survey...

1. What were you doing at 0800? Sleeping, thanks to Nyquil.

2. What were you doing 30 minutes ago? Blogging.

3. What happened to you in 2006? 2006? What about 2007?

4. What was the last thing you said out loud? Hmpf. Something about brownies.

5. How many beverages did you have today? Too many ginger ales to count.

6. What color is your hairbrush? I've got one white clinique comb from ages and ages ago and then a Mason Pearson (tortoise shell colored) but I can't find that one.

7. What book are you reading? Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning.

8. What was the last thing you paid for? Baby outfit. Only moments ago.

9. Where were you last night? Same place I am now. Home!

10. What color is your front door? White. I know, I need a red front door, better Feng Shui.

11. Where do you keep your change? A) In the car: change purse that looks like an old coffee cup, B) At home: Change cup that looks like old coffee cup. I'm sensing a theme here.

12. What’s the weather like today? Surprisingly beautiful.

13. Do you want to cut your hair? That was last week.

14. Do you make up your own words? Of course! But my favorite word, "woobie", was not made up by me.

15. Name a friend whose name starts with the letter ‘A’. Why Ana, of course, from whom this (modified) survey was taken from... do pseudonyms count?

16. What does the last text message you received say? I'm not technologically advanced enough for text messaging. Do blackberry messages count?

17. Do you chew on your straw? Ugh. No.

18. Do you have curly hair? Sometimes.

19. Where’s the next place you’re going to? Short term: Doctor's appointment, Medium term: Greenwich, Longer term: Paris.

20. What was the last thing you ate? Brownies (see #5 above)

21. What’s the best movie you’ve seen in the past 2 weeks? Past two weeks?? I haven't seen any really good movies in the past two weeks. A few weeks ago I watched "Where Angels Fear To Tread". I wouldn't say it was good, but it was passable. I'm a sucker for those EM Forrester period movies. FYI: "Premonition" would certainly *not* fall into the "best movies" category, 2 weeks or longer.

22. When was the last time you did the dishes? Earlier this evening. Would be doing them now but I ran out of those little dishwasher detergent cube thingies.

23. Why did you answer and post this? Why not?

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Catalog Favorites

You know you've hit the bottom of the mail barrel when you receive a catalog called Catalog Favorites: A Showcase of Catalog Bestsellers. Yes, the concept is that this is a compilation of the best selling stuff from other catalogs. The problem is what catalogs. This isn't the Neiman Marcus Wishbook. Hell, it's not even the LLBean catalog. This rag is truly giving the Lillian Vernon catalog a run for its money in the mail-order crap department. Case in point, on page 11 there is the Reindeer Car Costume Kit, because really, what says "Diminished Blue Book Value" more than a red nose on your car's grill and a pair of antlers. Then there are the Seashell and Fish see-through Toilet Seat Covers (because doesn't every home need one of these?), the suspect looking "massager" and the ever-classy "egg yolk separator" which is designed so that the egg yolk appears to be coming out of a nose. Finally, in the "marketing mystery" department, there is the personalized snuggy bear baby blankets-- a "Favorites Exclusive!" Can someone explain to me how this item can be a "Favorites Exclusive!!" if the concept behind the catalog is that its a compilation of products found in other catalogs??? Doesn't that whole exclusive concept kind of contradict the compilation of other catalog's merchandise idea?

All I can say is it is clearly getting on to the holiday season because in addition to "Catalog Favorites" my mailbox has been filled with inane gift catalogs. In the past week alone I've gotten the Wolferman's bread catalog, the Chicago Art Institutes's Gift Shop Catalog, something called "The Artful Home", CB2 (twice), Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, LL Bean, LL Bean Traveller, LL Bean Home, LL Bean Women (is there any category out there that the Bean doesn't target?), FLOR, DWR, Williams Sonoma, Williams Sonoma Home, Lillian Vernon, Lilly Kids, Lily Pulitzer, some weird food catalog I'd never heard of before that depicted all items as cartoons, M&M World, See's Candies, Land of Nod, Athleta (like I actually go to the gym), Acorn, Signals (since when did they become oddly religious?), Garnet Hill (which gave me far too many ideas about home crafts), Sundance, Art.Com, and many, many others that I can't even remember. How the hell did these people get my address and why isn't Al Gore trying to put a stop to all this wasted paper???

Monday, November 05, 2007

Annie Lennox...

On Saturday night the Dad and I saw Annie Lennox at the United Palace Theater. It was a great show (I was personally very excited about Thorn in My Side and There Must be an Angel (Playing with my Heart)-- yay eighties!!!) The theater was really beautiful, even if in kind of an odd location. Who knew?


I need my caffeine fix just like everybody else...

Saturday, November 03, 2007


I love to go on Statcounter to see where people are visiting the blog from, etc. As noted here in the past, I'm getting a *lot* of hits from "Sting's Favorite Pasta". Lately I've also, oddly enough, gotten hits for Tom Selleck's Avocado ranch, and at least one person looking for "vanilla scented garbage bags." Glad to help, everybody.