Category Archives: Uncategorized

Bread

Inspired half by Michael Pollan and half by creative procrastination, I’ve started making sourdough bread. Like most obsessions, it started out as an every-day fixation, and has since tapered off to once a week. I gotta say, it’s 100% guaranteed to be more popular than that bottle of TJ’s sparkling rose at your next social event or potluck. Especially if you bring it still warm. Get ready for all the pats on backs. Even in Los Angeles, where gluten has become equivalent to processed cheese in food pariah status, no one can resist.

I am partial to Breadtopia’s adaptation of Sam Sifton’s adaptation of Mark Bittman’s adaptation of Jim Lahey’s no-knead recipe. Lol. Here are some pictures! My starter recipe was from The Kitchn. All of this was not a ton of work.

The starter was more fun than you’d think. It was like watching sea-monkeys come alive, except the little yeasties ruminating in your starter are SURVIVORS. Magic little alien beings that chew through sugars and fart out carbon dioxide that blooms up dough like a mushroom cloud of delicious. I know it makes me an insufferable hipster, but I’ll wear that badge proudly as long as it means I think fermenting things is cool AF.

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Go back home

I’ve been hearing a whole lot of news about the racist garbage people have decided it’s ok to spout since Tuesday confirmed there are enough poor, pissed-off white folks here to put a reality TV celebrity in its highest office just to prove a point. One thing I keep hearing about is said white folks telling people they think might be of non-Euro decent to “go back to [their] country.”

This is a weird thing to say in LA. It reminds me of my friend Lo, whose family is from Texas and California and has been since before either of these were part of the US. They have dark skin and eyes and speak Spanish at home, and if you ask where she is from, Lo will say “here.”

If you ask where her family is from, she will say “here.”

If you ask where her ancestors are from, she will sigh and tell you, “We’ve been here for hundreds of years, asshole, you annexed us.”

You can’t tell her to go home. She is more at home here than you, pendejo.

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Ferrante Fever

“Elena Ferrante” is what James Wood called her. Apparently we don’t know if it’s a real name or a real person or what. I don’t much care.

Ferrante is the author of a bunch of novels, including the lauded Neapolitan series, which catalogues the lives, from childhood, of two friends from an impoverished corner of Naples starting in the 1950s and progressing through their adulthoods.

Ok. I’m into it. I listened to My Brilliant Friend over a couple of days off, cleaning and running on the treadmill in the workout room of my apartment building in between the two garage modules. I love audiobooks, since I’ve realized that I’m an incredibly slow reader because I basically read everything out loud to myself, in my head, and pretty much can’t process anything non-aural. I continually despaired at my inability to finish books, from childhood onward, until I discovered that you could have people read them to you, while you did mundane shit like wash dishes and shop for groceries and walk to work and back. Things that don’t really need your full attention, and that would otherwise be occupied with your obsessive negative thoughts, anyway! Since this realization, I’ve finished a whole bunch of books that I’d have otherwise thought too long or boring to consider. Just ASK me about the Plantagenets! Somehow, just having someone keep going with the story, no matter what random thoughts also pop in to visit, is an amazing help. Go figure.

I’m five hours into The Story of a New Name, and though I repeatedly think, whenever I have to stop Hilary Huber’s electrifying voice in my ears to go to work or have a conversation, I can’t help thinking that the book is a bit soap-opera-y, a bit tawdry, though shot through with existential insights, and above all, profoundly “female,” which is something I can hardly stop thinking about since as my brother is the owner of the audiobook account I use and he recently told me he was listening to volume 1.   Continue reading

Crappy New Year, or Tip Your Bartenders Tonight

Tonight I’ll be partaking of a longstanding holiday tradition and working through New Year’s Eve. By choice.

Since gleefully reentering the food service world after years as a narcoleptic office rat in late 2010, I’ve made it a point, in the week leading up to Thanksgiving, to mention to my employer that if anyone is needed to bar-tend, serve, or stand around looking official on New Year’s Eve, I’m their girl. Because New Year’s Eve sucks. It is the worst holiday in the modern cannon. If I can’t peaceably hang out at home and watch The Twilight Zone, I’m gonna be making some money.

Part of this comes from too many years living in New York City, where my already crowded and overpriced town becomes, for one special night, four or five times more crowded and infinitely more expensive. Hordes from Connecticut, from the Island, from the far, far reaches of rural Jersey, from the midwest, from the deep south, from Philly and DMV, even Bostoners descend. As if every other place in the world had conspired to dump its worst people on us to fill the streets with shouting and vomit. Due to supply and demand, every nightlife establishment right down to your friendly neighborhood dive bar tacks a $20+ charge just to get through the door, and a mandatory prix-fixe of food you wouldn’t normally eat, just ’cause. It’s impossible to do anything, and impossible not to. Because it’s New Year’s Eve, and our culture and crappy, crappy movies have brainwashed us into thinking that if we don’t have fun in a crowded room full of awful strangers tonight, of all nights, what hope do we have for the rest of the year?  Continue reading

Musins and Drinkins: Recipe Time!

The price of consumer off-premise liquor in California is far lower than that of my home state, New York. This is due to a number of factors, all of which are too boring and opaque to get into. It was a tremendous selling point for me, and a complete culture shock, that in California, one can purchase strong spirits in grocery stores, gas stations, or, if you prefer, your local CVS, and not just at designated licensed stores that may or may not have sales counters flanked with bullet-proof glass. Cheap booze flows in the streets, here, it seems.

Interesting fact, though, that the price of prepared beverages, IE drinks you buy at a bar, is pretty much evenseys between the giant city where I used to live and the one where I now reside. In both places, t’s an easy thing (particularly in the age of plastic currency) to waltz into a bar, blink, and spend fifty or sixty bucks.

What a revelation, then, to find that for that same fifty or sixty bones, one can dance on over to the Trader Joe’s and stock one’s entire home bar!

So I’ve been mixing at home, I guess is the point of all this. I mean, I went to bartending school. At Columbia. (Recipe after the jump, y’all)

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When new to the neighborhood

Everyone at my new restaurant job is amazed I have only been in town one week. Not that I would relocate from New York to Los Angeles, because at least half of the nice folks I’ve met have done this. Everyone is amazed that I found a job “so fast.” Within a week! How lucky! They say.

We moved into the bare three-room apartment on Saturday night. On Thursday, I went to an open interview at a restaurant and was offered the “opportunity to train” as a serving bartender. The following day, I secured a counter position at a noodle shop opening next month. In between, I’d peppered the town with resumes, gotten dressed up and smiled through open calls. I made E pull over en route to pick up freecycle furniture because I spied “help wanted” signs from the car window. I had, in short, been hustling. It’s what I do best.
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I know cheese is tasty, but do you HAVE to put it in everything, for crying out sakes?

One thing  about driving across America in the wintertime is that you have to get up early, so that you can actually see America before the sun goes down around 5:00 p.m. This, for me, means coffee. As much as I’ve embraced my chemical dependence on caffeine, I’ve never been a black coffee drinker, or even much of a coffee connessieur. It is a warming, varyingly fragrant vehicle for my consciousness-sustaining drug.  I am one of those people Malcolm Gladwell pointed out who likes “weak, milky coffee.” Basically my ideal cuppa is a lukewarm mug of moderately coffee-flavored milk product.

But it is always a milk “product.” In the best cases, the product of soybeans, almonds, or other nuts soaked in water, pulverized, and squeezed out, resulting in a whitish, nutty-flavored liquid that works in coffee, cereal, and can even make terrific life-sustaining ice “cream.” Because, like the majority of the world’s population, I lost my ability to digest the sugars in milk (lactose) when I became an adult–around age 22. Which means I can have a nibble of cheese here, a splash of cream there, and maybe a taste or three of your creme brulee, but in general, me consuming more than a small amount dairy products leads to a digestive distress that I’d rather not expound upon in detail.
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