Monthly Archives: January 2007

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

Pumpkin Dark Chocolate Chip Muffins

The first mistake I made was buying the bag of tiny dark chocolate chips. I typically do my best to stay away from such things, but I went into Nuts to You yesterday afternoon on an empty stomach and I found that my willpower wasn’t strong enough to resist the mini-chips.

The second was not having enough protein in my dinners (either the one I ate before class or salad I scarfed afterwards). When I don’t eat enough protein during the day, I crave sweet things. A lot.

So I got home hungry, walked into the kitchen to look for a snack and spotted the chips. It’s amazing how few steps it took to get from spotting the chips to having hot Whole Wheat Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins cooling on my counter. I altered a recipe I found in a stack of old recipe printouts and went to work. Continue reading

The Brunch Bunch

The latest episode of Fork You has been up for more than 24 hours and I’ve neglected to mention here. I am a bad, bad podcaster. However, now I can make up for my omission by telling you that really, you should go over and check it out. I promise that it will make you hungry. In this episode we make a citrus salad with caramelized pecans, a leek and spinach frittata and multi-grain waffles with real maple syrup.

Guess what we did when we were all finished filming? We ate it all. And it was good. It’s not a hard meal to make either, and if you don’t have a waffle iron (you could always make pancakes, although they don’t hold the syrup quite as well), I recommend checking out your local thriftstores. That’s where I’ve gotten all of mine. Yep, that’s right, I have multiple waffle irons. Three to be exact. I used to have four, but I gave one away. But that’s really a story for another time.

Purple and Green Coleslaw

Purple and Green coleslaw

I’ve been on a cabbage kick recently. It all started last week, when I promised to make dinner for some friends. Only my student loan refund hasn’t come in yet, and I’ve been scrapping the bottom of the financial barrel, a situation that necessitates frugal cooking. I settled up on teriyaki chicken (I had a big bag of chicken tenders from Trader Joe’s in the freezer), brown rice and stir-fried veggies with ginger and garlic. Cabbage, being cheap, was a essential component of the big bowl of veggies.

In addition to being cheap, cabbages are also quite large, so I only used half of each in the stirfry, knowing that I had a potluck to go to Friday night. This is where the coleslaw comes in. I learned how to make coleslaw from the Frog Commissary Cookbook the first summer I lived in Philly, and have been riffing on their recipe ever since. The one I made Friday that is pictured above is inspired by asian flavors (mostly because there was a little nub of ginger staring at me from the counter as I was making it). Most people think of coleslaw as being a summer dish that is soaked in a sweet mayonnaise-y dressing. This one is a whole other, hugely delicious beast that is wonderful in the winter when you are dying for something that is a little bit puckery and crispy.

You will find the recipe after the jump…

Continue reading

Grateful for warmth

Tonight I am grateful for warmth.

I spent the evening having dinner and watching the last half of Titanic with Cindy. She lives in a fantastic old, three-story Victorian rowhouse up in the Art Museum area. I have often envied her this house. She and her roommates have lots of space, a kitchen that can hold more than two people at a time and a cozy backyard that has been the venue for many a summer cookout. This house has nooks and funny little corners where the wall doesn’t quite meet the floorboards. I love every aspect of this house, until I spend some time there in January. And then I remember just how cold it can be to live in an old house.

Sitting on the couch in her room, a doubled over king-sized comforter enveloping both of us, we stopped moving in the hopes that we could conserve heat. At one point, during a commercial, I slowly turned my head towards Cindy, so as not to create a breeze, and said, “My nose is so cold I can barely feel it.”

She laughed and responded, “Mine too!”

When the movie was over I jumped up before I could get sucked into the SAG Awards and headed home. Putting my coat on, I dreaded walking out the door, feeling ill-prepared to go someplace that would make me feel even colder. Ten minutes later I pulled into my garage and headed into the building. The warm air of the lobby encircled me, and I was almost grateful that I had felt so cold, because the feeling of heat was so nice.

When I visit my parents in Oregon or spend time with friends who live in houses, I realize how lucky I am that I spend my life in comfortable temperatures. Wall to wall carpet and well-heated building often move me to crack windows, even in on the coldest days. If I need to fine-tune, each room has it’s own HVAC unit under the window. I know I sometimes complain about aspects of life in my building, but I am always grateful for warmth.

Possessed while waking

During the time my ex-boyfriend and I were together, he was a grad student.  His classes were during the late morning and early afternoon, and he would often work late into the night and sleep until the last possible second in the morning (or sometimes afternoon).  I used to scoff at this schedule, chiding him for sleeping so late and wasting the day.  How hard was it to get up when the alarm went off?

Well, as I’ve found since starting school, and especially since this semester began, that sometimes it is really hard to get up when the alarm goes off.  I’ve never been particularly tuned for mornings, but things are starting to get out of hand.  I’ve discovered that when I don’t have to be anywhere, and the only thing motivating me to get up is my own personal list of things-to-do, that getting out of bed is really hard.

Let’s take today as an example.  Last night I went to sleep around 1 am.  I realize that late bedtimes are part of my problem, but I’ve been working on getting into bed earlier and going to sleep at 1 am is actually pretty good compared to how I had been for a while.  Falling asleep at 1 am means that it isn’t unreasonable to get up at 8:30 or 9 am.  So that’s what I set my alarm for.  The alarm goes off in the morning, and while I hear it at first, my body knows that there isn’t anyplace I have to be yet, and so doesn’t find it necessary to really wake up.  On days when I have places to be, the radio alarm clock is quite effective, but not on the other ones.

So I sleep with the radio playing.  The stories they report on NPR start to work their way into the plotlines of my dreams and I find myself cast as the politician, or the musician or the councilperson introducing a trans fat ban.  I wake up a little an hour later when the radio clicks off again.  This is the point at which I start giving myself a mental pep talk.  I tell myself, “okay, you really need to get up now.”  “You can do this, just sit up.”  If I don’t get out of bed during the internal dialogue, I inevitably fall back to sleep.  It’s after that last cat nap that I catch a glance at the clock and realize that it is close to 11 am.  At that point, I inhale sharply, sit straight up (giving myself a most impressive head rush) and leap out of bed.

Once I’m out of bed I’m fine, but the process I go through to get there isn’t really fun.  I don’t actually enjoy sleeping that much and I don’t like the self inflicted guilt that comes with being so “lazy.”  I remember my ex telling me that it was like he had an evil personality that took over his body when it came time to waking up in the morning.  In those days, I never understood what he was talking about, but these days, his explanation makes absolute, perfect sense.

Leaving yourself in books

Today, for the first time in my life, I found myself wondering what will happen to my books when I die. When I inherited my apartment, most of my grandparents’ stuff came along with it, including hundreds of books. Over the past five years, I’ve given most of them away, although a few still remain as reminders of who they were and what their interests were. But I got rid of them one shopping bag at a time, not in one united collection.

I went to two thrift stores today in Germantown. They are actually part of the same organization, but one location carries clothes, dishes and collectibles while the other carries mostly furniture. The one thing they have in common is that they both carry books. As I stood in front of the metal shelves at the furniture location, I began to realize that I was looking at a vast portion of one individual’s library. They were all books that had something to do with Judaism. There were titles addressing when Christians and Jews marry, others about the struggles of being a Rabbi, even detective novels where Rabbi’s are solving mysteries. Scholem Aleichem was widely represented, as well as Isaac Bashevis Singer. I stood there, fascinated by the fact that I could discern so much about this individual from the books that were scattered among the three tall shelves.

When I got to the book section of the second store, I realized that several more boxes of my Jewish friend’s books had been brought here. I started to pull them off the shelf one by one, looking to see if I could learn anything more through the things that get left behind in books. In one the name Rabinowitz was inscribed and I started imagining a history for this person. I wondered if he or she had died, or if they had been forced to go to a nursing home. Maybe they had passed years before and their spouse had just recently been convinced to give up the house to go live with their grown daughter in New Jersey. I couldn’t believe that no one else had wanted this library, this specialized collection of books that touched on all levels of Judaism.

For a moment, I started thinking wildly about buying them all, about keeping a part of a stranger’s life intact for as many more years as I could. I quickly remembered that the real estate available on my bookshelves is in very great demand, and that housing a collection of dusty books that I have very little actual interest in reading (I’m more interested in the person behind them) would not be a practical move. In the end, I bought just two, a couple of squat paperbacks by Isaac Bashevis Singer that I’ve always been interested in reading.

I hope that other people who study those shelves looking for literary treasure will notice the life that was lived through the books that were read, owned and loved, like I did.

(If anyone out there is interested in picking up a few books at very low prices on a vast array of Jewish topics, let me know and I’ll point you in the right direction).

I haven't blogged…

But it doesn’t mean anything. Last night my blog was down (I blame the host) and so I couldn’t post. Tonight, the evening just got away from me. But it pains me to let my blog sit idle for more than a day, so I’m writing this short little note to say all is well here in Apartment 2024. My classes are back in full swing, which is wonderful and all-consuming.

I had lunch today at Rachel’s Nosheri on 19th Street. I haven’t gotten a sandwich there and sat at the counter along the window with a book since the first month I moved to Philly. It felt somehow right and complete to do it nearly five years to the day I had done it before. I love Rachel’s, it’s an old fashioned deli in a city that doesn’t have many, and it has the added benefit of being right down the street from me. When Little Pete‘s closed their doors, Rachel’s started staying open later and on Sundays, to pick up the slack that they left behind. The neighborhood noticed and loves them for it.

During the hour I sat there today, I spotted at least four people from my building come in. A little old man from the 19th floor came in for a cup of soup, I heard him ask for extra noodles and not too much broth. Two older woman walked in, clutching each other’s arms, so as not to trip on the damp floor, to split a nova bagel. Emilio, a plumber/handyman who lives and works in the building, walked in just as I was leaving. He held the door for me and gave me the most genuine, “Hey, how you doin'” that I’ve gotten all week.

What resolutions have to do with jumping rope

A couple of years ago, the young adult group at the Unitarian church I attend started talking about creating an alternative to the Sunday morning service. The idea would come up every couple of months, it would get tossed around for a while and then fall back down into the abyss of our busy lives.

This year we actually started to get our act together. We applied for and were awarded a grant for a part-part-time coordinator. We wrote a mission statement and goals for the year. And tonight we finally launched the alternative service. Sunday Evening Worship will be a monthly endeavor for now, but we are hopeful that we might be able to have it even more often sometime in the future (this is totally dependent on energy and participation).

With this first one, we weren’t sure what we were doing, but we knew how we wanted it to feel. We wanted to have an extended period of silent meditation. We wanted the music to be more contemporary and infectuous (we’re still working on that part). And we wanted to hear from multiple voices throughout the service. The theme tonight was Clean Slates. Below you’ll find the five minute reflection I wrote and read (performed) tonight.

I’ve spent a lot time in my life looking for the perfect clean slate. An opportunity to start fresh, to dig into something new and have it stick. I would make New Year’s resolutions in January. New school year resolutions in September. At the start of a month I’d resolve to use fluoride rinse or take vitamins or stop eating sugar. I’d go to bed on a Sunday night, swearing to myself that that next Monday morning I’d get up and finally get myself back to the gym. Once I even resolved to stop resolving, because all the unkept promises to myself were breaking my heart.

Continue reading

Baked Sweet Potatoes and a Mellow Saturday Night

The last 24 hours (at least all the waking ones) have been a whirlwind of engaging, interesting, enlivening social activities as well as lots of terrific food (the highlight was an Avocade Monte Cristo sandwich with homemade tomato jam).  I’ve had a wonderful time celebrating a birthday, attending a baby shower and hanging with some of my favorite bloggers.

But upon arriving home tonight after the meetup, I was done.  I was totally and completely ready to stop talking to people for a while, solve a really hard Sudoku puzzle and have an easy, unadorned dinner by myself.  Luckily, there was a sweet potato sitting on my kitchen counter that was waiting for just such an occasion.  I repeatedly punctured the sweet potato with the tines of a sharp fork and popped it into the toaster oven (at 400 degrees) on a foil covered baking pan.

Baked sweet potato (although back in the day we called them yams) with a heavy shake of garlic powder and a big scoop of cottage cheese (we put cottage cheese on everything in my family) was one of the classic rainy day dinners from my childhood.  I realize that it sounds slightly wrong, but then I’ve never told you about the milky omelet I used to make for myself that I ate with fake maple syrup.  Talk about wrong.

These days I skip the garlic powder and go for cinnamon and salt instead.  I bake the sweet potato until it yields willingly (about 45 minutes) to the tip of a knife (there should be no resistance or crunchiness left) and then mash it well with the seasonings.  Tonight I ate it with a side of plain greek yogart (which may be one of my favorite foods on earth) because I didn’t have any cottage cheese and wanted some protein.  I also dug out some heavily frosted spinach from the freezer, needing something green.

It was the kind of meal that I never would have made had I been responsible for feeding another person.  It was simple, reminded me of childhood and left me knowing that I was giving myself the exact evening I needed to have.

You Don't Knead It, But You Want It

The latest episode of Fork You is up! This very last Monday we filmed not one, but two podcasts for your viewing pleasure (the next one will be appearing sometime in the vicinity of next week). We tried to make this one a Quick Fork, but when we got to the end realized that we hadn’t been all that quick about things. It doesn’t matter though, cause the end result was awesome, some beautiful, freshly baked bread. (I apologize for the amount of squinting and scrunching up of my face that I do, I don’t know what comes over me when a camera is pointed at me. Unless I squint and scrunch when I talk all the time. That’s a frightening thought).

In other news, I got my hair cut today. For the last year and a half, I’ve been semi-intentionally letting it grow, out of curiosity and laziness. I’ve liked having it long. I had forgotten the joys of the ponytail. But then a couple of days ago, my mom called me and mentioned, out of the blue, that she’d been looking at old pictures of me and thought my hair looked better shorter.

I was indignant! Who was she to tell me how I should have my hair. I told her (rather harshly) that I thought she was wrong, that I liked my hair long and I was going to keep it that way. I held firm in that position for a couple of hours, but then as I was getting ready to go to bed that night, I took a good long look at my hair and realized a horrible thing. She was right. My hair had suddenly gotten scraggly. And it made the top of my head look really flat (and I need all the volume I can get).

Today I made my way over to the beauty school at 3rd and Bainbridge (I can’t bring myself to pay gobs of money for hair cuts) and surrendered about 3 1/2 inches. It’s a great cut, makes my hair look so much thicker and makes me feel happy when I look at myself in the mirror. There’s nothing better than a miraculous transformation that only cost $12.