Archive for November, 2010

clip: stornoway music review

November 27, 2010

i like this review more two weeks after having written it (note: not the band). haven’t listened to the album since. short & sweet nyc

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thankful

November 26, 2010

my niece, little button.

dinner date, affixed

November 24, 2010

The family dinner is no more. Or it’s held for special occasions, holidays, rare gatherings, treated in often a kitschy manner. “Isn’t this quaint? A dinner party!”

So we’re told from studies, articles, analyses of the state of the American food culture (most recently, from this article by Lisa Miller I read yesterday—a great read about food access and the dangers of food as a new source of elitism ). But as I flew home for the Thanksgiving holiday last night, I recognize my own distinction: I was not raised by American parents. As an immigrant (having moved to the states at the ripe age of one), my upbringing was in an atypical fashion—for my surroundings, at least.

Nearly seven days a week as I grew up, my family convened at the dinner table: TV off, the only potential interruption being a telemarketer call that Mom or Dad would curtly quash. We’d ask and share about our day; Dad would tell a stupendously verbose tale that our ears would trudge through, swallowing a lesser pleasure than our mouths; and sometimes, we were quiet. But together we ate, forks clacking, glasses sipped and thudded back to the bright tablecloth, seconds retrieved. (How my doctor mother made us dinner every night after a 10-hour day on her feet in the hospital, I’ll never comprehend. Alas, my dad’s cooking skills never rose above frozen-pizza explosions in the oven.)

Apartment life found me a solitary diner, which oddly I never minded much. I still relished eating out with friends, cooking for a significant other, and knowing that every visit home would bring me back to the convivial meals of my youth, untouched. But my usual compatriot has been TV, internet, or the occasional tandem dining roommate—hardly a participatory experience.

Now my two paths have converged: I find myself nightly with a companion, not just a roommate, where I am (part) head of household. I continue to cook for myself but find a longing for a restoration, an incorporation of my familial ways. This abode is more home than past rentals, and that simultaneously illustrious and demure title deserves a new kind of attention. I feel strange cooking for one. But stranger still is cooking for two without what is to me the requisite shared dining experience.

The topic has arisen a few times since moving in together, as quite simply, we’re not always hungry at the same time. Often I’ll find myself famished the second I walk through the door at 6 p.m., and B only ate his lunch at 4. (Though he’ll happily eat what I put in front of him, I’m trying not to rationalize that he only thinks he’s not hungry when he says he’s not hungry. Granted, in our nearly two years together, I have learned B has two distinct states of hunger: nonexistent, and starving. But I digress.)

The compromise? I have a salad or a snack, and I’ve been more willing to try recipes that take more than a half-hour of cook time; somehow the act of cooking makes me feel like I’m eating sooner. And the wafting fragrance of roast chicken or buttery vegetables whetting B’s appetite doesn’t hurt.

Our dining table doesn’t boast a charming centerpiece; it’s cluttered with things that need to be organized, put away, or donated. It bears countless battle scars from a previous roommate’s designation as an oversize cutting board, and its chairs are flimsy. But the space we carve out almost every evening to sit, make eye contact, and enjoy our food and each other’s company makes this feel more like home than any tablecloth or TV dinner could.

clip: sean bones music review

November 21, 2010

my latest music review is up at short & sweet nyc. check it out if you please.

hit and miss

November 21, 2010

Further additions to the apartment have resulted in, well, a hit and a miss.

Finally got around to painting the bathroom walls, a pale green, and … I hate it. We were going for a light, warm, rusty green, and instead we got mint. Seafoam. Algae, even. Either way, I hate it. It’s a fine color and all, but not for my bathroom or this apartment. Not sure when I’ll get around to repainting, but it shall be done. (If you happen to like it, Benjamin Moore Etched Glass – Aura 626.)

 

 

The other, much more successful newbie are two adorable pillows. We found these vintage cushions ($30 each) at Brooklyn Flea, from a Little of India. They’re soft, washable (with removable covers), and brighten up the sofa perfectly. So so happy with these.

 

 

Celebrated B’s birthday this weekend! So exhausting. So fun.

a flash of light

November 19, 2010

this is the mid-afternoon lighting in my apartment.

duck, duck .. chicken

November 17, 2010

I cooked duck last night! This is an amazing feat for a few reasons: a) I have never cooked duck, b) I have never cooked any sort of red/dark meat because I stopped eating the stuff when I was ten and wouldn’t really learn the basics of cooking until about a decade later (thanks, dormitory years).

Generally I describe myself as “semi-vegetarian” but more often I go with the simple explanation (when prompted) that “I eat poultry and seafood.” Duck isn’t something that’s often in the mix, but B felt like scooping up a pound of the technically-red-yet-technically-poultry meat at a farmers market (yes, he called to confirm) and I figured why not? So I gave it a go, B cheering me on from the sidelines as I nervously examined the sage- and thyme-seasoned duck periodically, without a clue as to what it’s supposed to look like, basting along the way as best I could.

 

 

After a continuous refrain of “Is it ready?” “I don’t know, what do you think?” we braved the dish. Turned out we overcooked it a bit (20 minutes a pounds oughta do it)—but!—it still tasted rather good, paired with a roasted acorn squash (using this recipe I got from Whipped the Blog) and some quinoa. All in all, a decent success. The squash recipe is a definite keeper.

I’ll give the duck another try in a while. In the meantime, I’ll stick with my light meats … and veggies.

the pathology of cleanliness

November 16, 2010

I finally understand how the neuroses begin. It seems something that adults have deeply ingrained at some point in their lives. Is it mere age? Childbearing? No—it’s upon buying one’s first piece of expensive furniture. And by expensive, I mean anything that isn’t IKEA-made.

Our furniture collection became complete as of this past Saturday (notwithstanding the new bed we intend to buy only after the current one literally breaks under us … which may be any day now). A darling little taupe sofa (rather a behemoth in our living room) and a custom-made coffee table arrived to nearly complete the living room.

sofa & table

 

The coffee table is what B and I hope to be the start of our collection of things that have character, a story, and/or offer a little eco-goodness—all of which this lil guy embodies. B picked it up from Koff Designs in Brooklyn. It’s made from a piece of reclaimed wood from a Brooklyn brownstone. So pretty.

 

koff logo

koff designs' trademark placard

 

And so, last night, we settled down to eat and watch some TV, winding down from a day of work (and the abrupt beginning of a cold on my part, which I’m working to fight off today), and the new pieces felt like delicate creatures we were entrusted to protect, to care for. I spilled a few crumbs, and B lurched. Seeing a fleck on the table after shifting a vase, we gasped in horror (just dust, it came out). We considered, perhaps for the first time, the art of the TV dinner and glanced at each other like nervous new parents. And then we nestled back into the couch, propped our feet on the table, and continued with caution.

Tonight I’ll be cooking duck for the first time, along with acorn squash, both from the farmers market. It’ll be served at the dining table.

we mean business

November 12, 2010

All Grown Up: My First Business Trip

Cut to me with an Arnold Palmer watching Men in Black in my hotel room. So far, so good. The desk lamp flickers just enough to function as a veritable nuisance, and my craving for Pringles 20 minutes after dropping into a 7 Eleven comes 20 minutes too late. All that remains of my evening is some ironing and a little more Harry Potter, which should be good and finished before I’m back in New York.

It’s my first night away from the new apartment, meaning I’ll be missing the arrival of the sofa and coffee table tomorrow (and painting of the bathroom, if B is feeling ambitious). Praying the sofa fits through the three doorways barricading our otherwise rather open living room. Instead, my Saturday will involve copious booths and food samples in a vast convention center. (David Cross cameo!) All grown up indeed! Yet there exists a conscious harmony between youthful distraction and enthusiastic sensibility.

Commercial break. Time to hunt down a vending machine.

… And sometimes one side of the seesaw outweighs the other.

presents and paint

November 8, 2010

Gift wrap and surprises are wholly unnecessary. I succumb to the same euphoria opening the box of a tea kettle I just bought for myself as I would unwrapping an unknown package on Christmas morning as a child (or even last year, let’s be serious). After work this evening, B and I trekked to Bed Bath & Beyond—armed with a 20%-off-everything coupon—and indulged in (mostly) necessities to round out a weekend of IKEA, painting, and continued arranging.

BEFORE …living room before picture

Less a before shot, as that would suggest the room was actually decorated this way for a significant period of time (yikes). You’ll see the walls are rather cream colored, leaning dangerously close to a light yellow, no thanks to the aggressively incandescent ceiling light (which we try to avoid using).

AFTER …
Walls are now the ever-classic Primer White; accent wall is Benjamin Moore Peacock Feathers. Came out quite nice, I think. The overarching color scheme for the apartment will be blues, greens, and browns—the few colors we could agree on and with a touch of earthy. Next up: bathroom painting, and sofa delivery on Saturday (!), which alas, I’ll miss, as I’ll be in DC for work.

Side note: If you’re not a runner (hello), do yourself a favor and become a marathon cheerer. It is the most fun you’ll have watching people exercise at 10 o’clock in the morning on a Sunday. And the runners adore it. Extra step: make hilarious signs, preferably involving hackneyed sexual innuendo.

yes, that last obscured signs says “that’s what she said.” you get it.