Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Food Fight

{cutie photo from Rakka's flickr page}

I read a lot. You know, looking for enlightenment regarding my calling; or what a friend and I jokingly, frantically refer to as a Life Plan. Something undiscovered that will mean a lot to me, to couple with friends and family that already do. Lately I've been looking to the queens of the kitchen, and have (ahem) consumed a biography on Alice Waters and the letters of M.F.K. Fisher (both recommended, although the "authorized" biography of Alice Waters is a bit easy on Alice.) But I've fell hardest for Julia Child's book My Life in France, for a couple of reasons.

1) Julia didn't find her life calling (buttery Frenchie food) until she was 37!

2) She's obsessive (and as a result, a little neglectful) like me. For example, she had to know what made mayonnaise work or fail. "By the end of my research, I believe, I had written more on the subject of mayonnaise than anyone in history...but in this way I finally discovered a foolproof recipe, which was glory." And she nearly failed her Le Cordon Bleu test by concentrating on the advanced, tricky recipes, meanwhile forgetting the Cordon Bleu Basics pamphlet that they drew the test questions from. Oops, and done that.

3) She was a tall lady. I often fill awkward when faced with new challenges. But is it possible to feel more awkward than Julie looked, towering at 6 feet, 2 inches, over the petite European stoves she learned on, deboning a palm sized quail with her giant hands? Probably not, and she managed to own it (lesson to the ladies!)

...oh, and when she sent her recipes off to friends in America all she got was silence. (This really has nothing to do with anything, except, dear Eden From Sweden blog readers, leave comments, so I know you're out there, breathing and supportive)...

Making my way through the pages, a feeling's crept up on me. When something strikes your fancy, you need to push it forward. Julia's ascent wasn't exceptional. It was just hard work, honesty and a fabulous sense of humor.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Muppet Moment: Tonight's Debate!

Thanks to a dedicated reader (let's call her Muppet Manic in Brooklyn) for bringing this witty New York Time's Op-Ed to my attention. I'm happy to see that that NYTimes has once again committed itself to letting voices from marginalized communities be heard.

{Apologies for the low resolution. Someday I'll learn how to use my Adobe Photoshop software without getting a headache.
Until then, click here for the full image}

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sorry. My Give-a-damn's busted.

tightened nerves, rusty curves
photo by force majeure studios

"Sorry, my give-a-damn's busted."

This was my co-worker's explanation for her bad mood today. Neither of us (her, suburbanite; me, leery of country music) quite knew what it meant, but the sentiment rang true enough, so we googled the phrase "my give-a-damn's busted." Guess it's a country song sung by Miss Jo Dee Messina that spent at least some time on Billboard's top 100 in 2005. We enjoyed watching the music video, and then got back to the work at hand.

Work. I must clarify, my give-a-damn's not busted, I'm just very busy and will be for the next six weeks. Check out our new website, though. It's spiffy, if I do say so myself. So, let me borrow and tweak Miss Jo Dee's declaration. My give-a-damn's tested. And that I can handle.

When you fall down the rabbit hole, you find more weird my give-a-damn's busted trivia:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Aargh. Friday, yet?

yo ho ho and batten down the hatches (until friday)
photo from mimi k's flickr page

Forgive me for scouring Wednesday's freshly printed Willamette Week for weekend activities when we've got two more days until TGIF, but it was One. Long. Day. I wasn't disappointed in the results (I love Portland). This weekend, I can mix up my regular farmer's market visit with "Medieval Market Day" in Beaverton, attend the Scappoose Sauerkraut Festival (seriously), or the Miss White Trash Pageant at Dante's. Friday, I'm ready.

Oh, and the Portland Pirate Festival at Cathedral Park. Obviously, I'll be there.

{...and pleasepleaseplease, if you enjoy indie press, help save BITCH magazine, another Portland treasure. They need a pretty penny to make it to press this month.}

Stump(town) Speech.

mmm. taste obama's juicy undertones.

Breakfast at the Bipartisan Cafe in the Montevilla neighborhood means you'll might be seated next to an actual Floridan Voter's Booth used in the 2004 election - wait, did I just vote for Bush or Gore? You'll have a five foot tall McCain cut out learing at your lox and garlic bagel from his place near the window, while Nixon and Kennedy battle it out on the wall. So, of course I had to pick up some special edition "Obama Blend" coffee from Stumptown.

Obama Blend: "As a salute to Barack Obama, this blend combines coffees from Kenya and Indonesia. We use one of our Latin American coffees to bind the flavors toether making this a well balanced blend. Fresh cut cedar in the aromatics lead to milk chocolate tones and cherry cordial flavors all tied together with its juicy texture."

And come on now! Of course Stumptown makes a McCain Blend, too. The Bipartisan Cafe would accept nothing less.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Tale of Two Atlases

Last weekend, I came across a thick, mint condition 1979 Reader's Digest World Atlas at a Mt. Tabor yard sale. The yard sale proprietress asked two bucks and suggested I deplume the thing page-by-page, country-by-country to use for stationary, or arts and crafts. I was appalled at the idea. Firstly, it was a lovely book. Secondly, it was published the year of my birth. Defacing a book is slightly easier for me than cutting the whiskers off a cat or kicking a puppy.

Today it was a yard sale off Burnside that caught my attention. This children's atlas had seen better days. The pages, or what was left of them, were stored in the cover but completely detached. The book's cover boards were held together with duck tape. I knew this meant, although it was almost sixty years old, that the book was worth zilch. This, I thought, is a book of maps I could use for stationary, for arts and crafts.

I asked the price.

The proprietress of this yard sale was a late-fifties Asian woman with a proper, stern look. She asked what I wanted it for to which I responded, "Stationary, maybe? Arts and crafts?" She looked pained. I said it was very interesting and she brightened up. "You're a teacher? Show this to your students?" I shook my head. Not a teacher. "How much?" I asked again, irritated that I was negotiating not only the price of the book, but its fate.

"Five dollars," she said. I started to put it back, ready to leave, and she touched my wrist. She explained that she was selling all her things, that she was moving to Hong Kong, to take care of her mother who was old and ill. This book, she said, is what her mother used to show her and her sister the world, and their place in it, when the family arrived in Portland from Hong Kong when she was little. I imagined her as a girl trying to reconcile the world by tracing the route from page 4, China and Hong Kong, to page 6, where Portland was circled in pencil on the United States map. And now in middle age she had to leave what had become her true home, Portland, to care for her mother who had never wanted to leave Hong Kong in the first place. So I paid the five dollars, said goodbye, and felt the weight of the broken book in my hand all the way home.

Monday, September 8, 2008


meet belvedere

This weekend I adopted a three-year-old cat whose owners were leaving Portland for an uncertain future in Nashville, Tennessee (meanwhile, he left plush suburbia for an uncertain future with me). For the first 24 hours, he hid in the back of my closet. But he's out now, baby, he's out! Meet Belvedere. For American kids of the 80's, Belvedere brings to mind the television show Mr. Belvedere, about the "humorous adventures of an English housekeeper working for an American Family." Members of the cast went on to do great things, like star in Dragstrip Girl (TV) and Mirror, Mirror 2: Raven Dance (also TV). Belvedere is also the leading manufacturer of beauty salon furniture. We can only hope this B's as industrious, but so far he's only interested in unsuccessfully scaling my bookshelves like an obese Spiderman, consuming unbelivable amounts of weight-control kibbles, shedding and scratching up what few pieces of decent furniture we have. For this handsome mug, I'm happy to oblige.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A culinary, crafty, and anti-McCain buffet

Oh man! The news today was Just! So! Interesting!

Culinary Update: Endangered Cupcakes
Best quote: "...the cupcake appears to be at a tipping point. There are signs of a cupcake backlash - both from schools concerned about childhood obesity and from foodies who can only maintain nostalgia for so long."
My thoughts: Viva Saint Cupcake!

Crafty Update: DIY Nation Goes Corporate?
Best quote: "Her “gateway drug” into the handmade life, she said, was the zine culture of the underground punk rock scene. That world, with its vegan anarchist collective restaurants and plywood punk houses, its handmade record covers and hand-lettered, stapled newsletters, and its network of fans connected by old-world skills like letter writing, was a Luddite’s paradise of 21st-century homemakers and do-it-yourselfers."
My thoughts: Viva Etsy!

Anti-McCain Update: Where to begin?
Best quote(s):

My thoughts: Viva Obama! And John Stewart!