Monday, September 28, 2009

Raw, adjective: 9. disagreeably damp and chilly, as the weather or air: a raw, foggy day at the beach.


Monday Morning Stream of Consciousness

I can't believe how much people can talk about themselves.
And for how long.

Ceaselessly.
Obliviously.
Saying nothing.


The notion of urban anonymity is a myth.
It's just an organic balance of blending quietly into the crowd and being called out on the sidewalk on a Monday morning in your hoodie and hangover hat. (Thanks, Ali.)
The world is small. (Good thing I brushed my teeth.)
And any neighborhood can feel like Mr. Rogers' when you've been there long enough.

People are exhausting.

Mad Men is one of the more excellent discoveries I've had of late. Smart, sorrowful, sharp, stylish. I understand why so many are hooked. Add me to the list.

Organic Honey Crisp apples for the win.

How do you read and write if you have children? How do you have any mental space at all when you have small creatures tugging at you and needing you from the moment you walk in the door? How does anyone ever produce anything creative in that context?

Avocado-cheddar-salsa omelet, hello.


It's astonishing and vaguely depressing how on autumn Saturdays my Facebook news stream is completely dominated by old NE acquaintances commenting/posting/lamenting/celebrating about Nebraska football. Sigh. (Isn't there more?) Amazing how you can not live somewhere for, like, 12 years and still find this old regional subculture thrust in your face, just like you're there in Lincoln and the streets are quiet and the stores are empty because everyone's wearing NE red and watching the game.

(I repeat: the world is small. And football is the unifying factor in all of it, it seems. Just ask the Cal fans, or the Penn State fans, or the crushed 49ers fans, from last weekend.)

There is so very much more world out there than we will ever see. Or can.

Neon green frosting, whether used to approximate leaves or not, is totally inappropriate.
As is smiling at un-smiley moments.
(Seriousness is underrated as an aphrodisiac.)

It's remarkable how tiny personal qualities can make you flush with a crush on an unknowing person. Witness this dude at the bar the other day, who was
  1. dining solo (hot)
  2. eating a veggie burger (hot)
  3. wearing a Stanford gymnastics shirt (hot)
  4. reading a dusty old book on art history (hot)
  5. ostensibly straight, and floppy-haired (hot)
You can learn a lot about someone just by paying attention.

Browsing at the little mom-and-pop bakery on Polk St. this morning, I scanned their list of available cakes, and then saw, in the far bottom left corner, in tiny italics: gay-owned bakery. Why the strange stealth placement? Love the shout-out to solidarity. All of our purchases are political. Support the businesses that endorse the values you share.

Did Berlusconi really call Barack and Michelle "tanned?"

It's grey and cool here today and I'm glad.

God I have a lot of bundts to blog.

Who are these Kardashian people with the trashy "K" names and the bad hair and why are we paying attention to them?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Raw, adjective: 1. uncooked, as articles of food: a raw carrot.


"Eating is an agricultural act."
~ Wendell Berry, by way of Michael Pollan

Excellent short piece by Michael Pollan in yesterday's Insight section. MP touches on the post-1970s history of the present-day food movement (symbolized in part by Michelle O's White House vegetable garden), the politics of sustainability, his own "lover's quarrel" with nature, and the role of Thoreauvian wildness in all of this. You'll find throwbacks to many of the names you've come to associate with the early movement: Frances Moore Lappe, Wendell Berry, etc.

Good shit. Read it.

Eating is an Agricultural Act (SFGate)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data.



Reason #63 that I love living in SF:


This morning, in the burgeoning hours of a late-summer heatwave, as I stumbled out to pick up my Sunday Chron, I saw that the little girl from downstairs and her grandfather have claimed the shady sidewalk across the street for a mean game of badminton. Gramps's suitcoat is hanging, abandoned, on the parking meter, while he schools the little one in serves and volleys on the cement sidewalk. She's rocking it, in spite of the incline and the lack of net and the fact that the racket is as big as she is.

Who needs a yard when you've got the city?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Raw, adjective: 2. not having undergone processes of preparing, dressing, finishing, refining, or manufacture


Rarely do I find a performer whose work I consistently enjoy as much as that of Neil Patrick Harris. Really enjoyed this recent profile published in NY Mag.

NPH's theater cred is undeniable; he earned my respect years ago, what with great turns in Rent, Cabaret, and Assassins. Not to mention his hilarious TV work and his quirkly one-off gigs of late. Now he's hosting the Emmys this Sunday, after hosting the Tonys earlier this summer. Seriously legit.

More than his talent, though, NPH interests me in terms of masculinity and gender and sexuality and performativity. The article hits on all of those themes; Emily Nussbaum does a pretty nuanced job of parsing the performative dynamics behind NPH's public face. Judith Butler would approve.

Interesting dude. Will enjoy seeing what direction his career takes next.

How Neil Patrick Harris Became Hollywood's First (Openly) Gay Breakthrough Star (NYMag)

Raw, noun: 13. unrefined sugar, oil, etc.


Bundt Cake Saturday! (En espanol.)

Morning: sticky
Mood: pensive
Music: Mahler

Ready for a disaster story? I thought so.

Mi novio Juanito's birthday was toward the beginning of August, and so, naturally, I told him I'd bake him a cake to mark his cumpleanos. Juanito and me, well, we've been together going on five years now, though we do have an open relationship of sorts, so when he told me he wanted a Tres Leches cake, I had two thoughts: 1) what the hell, shit, I don't know what that even is; and 2) ok, cool, let's have a little adventure in honor of mi amor.

I procrastinated until that Saturday morning, when I rose bleary-eyed to do some intrepid Googling in search of a solution for my Tres Leches ignorance. Thank god/dess for the internet. What did we ever do without it? Juanito never had to know that until that morning I had no idea what the hell a Tres Leches cake was.

Basically, it's a traditional Latin American dessert, drenched in three types of milk (hence the name) and usually topped with strawberries and a whipped frosting. Totally do-able. I found a quickie version, hit up the grocery post-yoga, and went to work. This is what I came up with: a gringo-ized, slightly off-kilter, extra juicy

TRES LECHES BUNDT CAKE

Be forewarned. The forthcoming isn't pretty.

INGREDIENTS

1 18.25 oz. box white or yellow cake mix
1 package instant vanilla pudding
3 large eggs
1 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 12 oz. can evaporated milk (skim or regular)
1 cup whole milk or light cream

Pretty standard recipe, right? Until you get to the juicy milk part, that is. Er.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees; grease and flour your bundt pan. In a large bowl, beat the cake mix, pudding eggs, water, oil and vanilla until smooth. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Remove cake from oven and let cool 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and whole milk or light cream until well blended. Poke the cake all over with a skewer. Pour the milk mixture all over cake, pressing lightly to make sure the milk is completely absorbed. Refrigerate 1-2 hours.

Here's where it gets ugly. I was running late, so pulled the cake out of the fridge after only an hour. I then made the fatal mistake of inverting the bundt and dumping it out onto a wire cooling rack per usual. Bad idea. That sucker had been marinating in tres leches for an hour. It was soaked, wet, and wobbly as hell. As soon as I tried to move it to the serving tray, the whole thing fell apart in my hands in a wild ugly whoosh. Meanwhile, I should've been out the door ten minutes before.

What the hell was I gonna do?

But first, lesson learned: leave the cake in the (preferably 9x13) pan, let it soak in the tres leches, frost it there, top it with strawberries, and serve it by cutting pieces directly from the pan. Trying to make this thing work in a bundt pan was the ultimate novice error. But there I was with a mushy lump of a cake, and I'd promised mi Juanito a week before that I'd have his birthday cake that night; I had to find a way to salvage it.

So, I sliced what I could of the cake into thick pieces, arranged them in a somewhat circular shape on the platter, and dumped as much milky vanilla frosting on top as possible. I then spread a gratuitous amount of fresh strawberries on top of that, trying to mask all the ugly wobbly parts.

It wasn't pretty. I spent the rest of the evening apologizing. On the upside, the cake was extra moist and delicious, and in low lighting, not so ugly after all. My poor Juanito did his best to pretend the cake wasn't a vast disappointment, though I could see in his eyes that it was nothing like what his mama used to make. Which was perhaps all right, in the end.

Mil besos, amor.

Recipe cobbled together from those found here and here.

Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions.




Quick art review on the new O'Keeffe exhibit at the Whitney gives a few flashes of insight into the dynamics of her relationship with Stieglitz, her aesthetic motivations and the trajectory of her career.

Check it out.

In Full Flower, Before the Desert (NYT)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Raw, adjective: 8. brutally harsh or unfair: a raw deal


Lost a good friend and mentor over the weekend. Doubtless many of us spread around the country have heavy hearts right now, knowing the memorial is in progress this morning back in Lincoln.

Uncle Joe was rough on the outside, intimidating, callous at first glance; little did any of us know his insides were made of pink flamingos and pumpkin carols and cartoon socks. As one guestbook commenter wrote: "He was a hard man to please, but you knew pleasing him meant something." True that. I'll remain grateful to JJS for being an impatient hardass who made me sit up straight on the edge of my chair, who humored me as a bossy little 17-year-old who thought she could run the show, and for nurturing the seeds of a love for music that will stick for the rest of my life.

Got the news Sunday just as I headed out to Opera in the Park, and the day was resultingly more bittersweet than intended. Thanks for the memories.

Joseph J. Skutchan

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Raw, adjective: 5. crude in quality or character; not tempered or refined by art or taste: raw humor.





This makes me laugh.

Raw, adjective: 8. brutally harsh or unfair: a raw deal

Did you read last week's SF Weekly cover story on Gavin Newsom's character - or lack thereof?

It's long-ish, but interesting, and clearly extensively researched. You can always count on the alt-weeklies to hit these things harder than the Chron ever will; the mainstream rags are so tied up with pleasing the power-hitters, it's too much of a risk to raise the kind of questions the SFBG and SFWeekly do.

Interesting thoughts as we see the CA gubernatorial race take shape. Not sure Jerry Brown is the man with the plan, either, but this piece at least casts a little more light onto our slicked-back, wonky, "lupine" mayor. (Isn't "lupine" the best adjective ever? Love that they used it.)

I will say, the Gav and his pretty, very-pregnant wife looked smashing at the Opera Gala last Friday night. Their forthcoming spawn is going to be so cute.

The Wrong Stuff (SF Weekly)

Raw, adjective: 10. not diluted, as alcoholic spirits: raw whiskey.


Bundt Cake Saturday! (On Tuesday)

Morning: not
Mood: sunkissed/serious
Music: Johnny Cash

And here we are on the back end of September. WTF. Don't know how that happened.

This morning I rolled down the hill on my way to acupuncture and the City was wet and fresh and quiet and tired. Our September summer is hitting, and it's a perfect day to sit outside and lose yourself in a book.

I know you really care, but I've been sick with this weird sinus thing for like a week now, and lemme tell you, I'm sick of being a mouth-breather, I'm sick of falling over woozy in yoga from not being able to breathe through my nose, and I'm sick of people asking me behind the bar if I'm sick or not while I stick my fingers in their martinis to load them up on olives. Erghh. Sick. I gave my acupuncturist no small assignment this morning: to clear out all this inconvenient phlegm and help me breathe again; the result was a panoply of needles in places I've never seen them before: the sides of my nostrils, the soft skin next to my thumb, the tips of my feet. Wild. I spent the rest of the morning watching the magic unfold, the mucus waterfalls running into my new book and my old cup of Peet's and the sunny bench tucked away in a secret place on Opera Plaza. Chinese medicine rocks. Gluten does not. Gluten = sinus crap. No more gluten for me. No more puffy faced allergies. That's it.

Anyway, tangent. (I think the phlegm has gone to my brain?) The preceding few days have all been opera-soundtracked. San Francisco's annual Opera in the Park concert was Sunday, so naturally, I needed to whip up a cake for this favorite live music event of the year. Little's better than Sharon Meadow on a sunny day, kickin' it with hordes of opera fans who listen, rapt, sprawled in their low lawn chairs and wearing party hats surrounded by smoked salmon feasts and champagne buckets. Good company, good wine, good music, good food, good times.

And whaddya know; I found out yesterday that my quickie little raffle ticket from Sunday won me the Grand Prize: two stellar tickets to the opera, champagne at intermission, and dinner at Absinthe before. Sweet!

Anyway, shut up, Rach. Cake. Melissa shared this cupcake recipe with me after Henna shared it with her. I guess that makes three of us for whom it's worked well? I honestly thought it'd be kind of disgusting; I needed a last-minute recipe, though, and it was easy and available, so this was it for the weekend, two cakes in one; one for Saturday, one for Sunday. And maybe it was the low expectations, but the whole thing turned out to be surprisingly delicious - good enough to break my week-long gluten-free run for a taste. But let's cut the crap and get on with making a

MARGARITA BUNDT CAKE

Yeah, ew? But not. We even had most of the ingredients here in the liquor cabinet, so it all came together swimmingly. I added the pudding and the key lime yogurt to my recipe, and changed a few things up, but the resulting recipe is fairly consistent with the one Melissa and Henna sent along.

INGREDIENTS

9 oz Margarita mix (such as Mrs. T's or Bacardi)

3 oz tequila

3/4 oz Grand Marnier

1 white cake mix

1 package instant vanilla pudding
6 oz. key lime pie yogurt
3 eggs

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 Tbsp lime juice


Preheat oven to 350 degrees; grease and flour your bundt pan. Mix together the margarita mix, tequila, and Grand Marnier in a large glass bowl. Set this aside. In another large bowl, blend the cake mix, pudding, yogurt, eggs, vegetable oil, lime juice, and 1 1/4 cup of the margarita mixture. Beat with an electric mixer for 2-3 minutes or until well-blended. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove the pan from the oven and cool for 10 minutes in pan. Invert pan and cool completely on a wire rack.

Next you're going to make the Lime Buttercream icing. It's a rich, clever recipe, but a little out of control. You'll note that there's an obscene amount of butter involved. Try not to let that ruin you on this. Beat together:

3 cups confectioner's sugar

1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

1/8 tsp salt

1 Tbsp lime juice

Honestly, I just dumped a lot of shit in until it looked and tasted fairly right. Add more lime juice than called for; it makes for a tangy, salty, buttery-sweet flavor. I made a batch big enough to ice both cakes, which is where the obscene amount of butter came into play; just trust your intuition and play with the balance until it's the consistency you like. And try not to think about the fat content.

Spread that shit all over your cooled cake. I added a few fresh raspberries on top, and they made all the difference, both in flavor and in presentation. Finally, as I ran out the door, I pulled a few dying bluebells and mauve-colored blooms of unknown origin from the bouquet on the coffee table, stuck them in the frosting, and called it good.

Both cakes were moist, and limey, and interesting, and surprisingly not disgusting. They tasted even better after sitting in the warm half-sunlight at the park on Sunday. (Or maybe it was the wine, but whatever.)

Stash that recipe away for Cinco de Mayo next year. It'd make a great addition to a backyard barbeque or a margarita party. Just go easy on the butter. And make sure there's enough tequila and Grand Marnier to mix a few margaritas while you're baking it.

Recipe courtesy (in part) bakespace.com

Monday, September 14, 2009

Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data.


"We have to create culture, don't watch TV, don't read magazines, don't even listen to NPR; create your own roadshow. The nexus of space and time where you are now is the most immediate sector of your universe, and if you're worrying about Michael Jackson or Bill Clinton or somebody else, then you are disempowered, you're giving it all away to icons, icons which are maintained by an electronic media so that you want to dress like X or have lips like Y.

This is shit-brained, this kind of thinking. That is all cultural diversion, and what is real is you and your friends and your associations, your highs, your orgasms, your hopes, your plans, your fears. And we are told 'no', we're unimportant, we're peripheral. 'Get a degree, get a job, get a this, get a that.' And then you're a player, you don't want to even play in that game. You want to reclaim your mind and get it out of the hands of the cultural engineers who want to turn you into a half-baked moron consuming all this trash that's being manufactured out of the bones of a dying world."

~ Terence McKenna

Friday, September 11, 2009

Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions.


You've heard about the hot new Green Day musical in previews over at Berkeley Rep, right?

Michael Mayer, the same guy behind the Tony Award-winning Spring Awakening, is helming this newest production in conjunction with Billie Joe Armstrong and crew, and there's plenty of buzz that this is just the first stop for the show before it heads east to New York. The hometown band is dramatizing its "American Idiot" album in musical form, and though the guys won't be performing in the show itself, the music promises to be stellar.

I've been trying unsuccessfully to get tickets, and it's already crazy sold-out. Berkeley Rep has just extended the run through November, so I'm hoping that'll make it happen. In the meantime, sate yourselves with this recent Chron article detailing the new production, including an interview with Mayer himself.

'American Idiot' Awakens at Berkeley Rep (SFGate)

Raw, adjective: 1. uncooked, as articles of food: a raw carrot.


Discovered these the other day at Whole Foods, whilst stocking up on fresh raw rations to erase the memory of August's white rice and vodka and manchego cheese. Favorite new raw treat.

Check out the ingredients on the Take a Hike bar: cashews, golden raisins, mulberries, agave, pistachios, goji berries, almonds, cacao, cinnamon, vanilla & Himalayan salt.

The Chia Nopal Bar pictured here is equally stellar, featuring a certain chili kick that hits you and sticks around for awhile: raisins, almonds, cashews, apricot kernels, agave, coconut, apricot, chia seeds, nopal, chili, vanilla & Himalayan salt. (What's nopal? Anyone?)

They don't look particularly pretty, but I'll tell you: the flavors are fantastic, they're full of protein and fiber, and they're 100% raw organic. Switch out your morning bagel or your afternoon Snickers bar for one of these, and you'll feel the mental clarity and increased energy right away.

Head over to the website at GoHunza.com, where you can get your fill of agave nectar and goji berries and raw cacao and the like. It feels good to feel good again. Can't say enough about the immediate difference when you're a few days into no sugar/wheat/dairy again after some less-than-100% time preceding. I'll take snap peas over sweets any day.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Raw, adjective: 8. brutally harsh or unfair: a raw deal


Erghh. I was waiting for this.

You know that SIGG bottle you bought last year after the whole Nalgene-chemical-drama went down? Yeah, well it turns out the Swiss-made reusable water bottle is laden with chemicals, too. I knew it was just a matter of time.

Salon has a good round-up of coverage of the discovery that SIGG bottles made before August '08 include the endocrine-disruptor BPA. Read some of the outrage and then decide whether you're going to send yours back or just suck it up.

Bummer. I had a feeling the first time I looked into my SIGG that there had to be something fishy going on. Too good to be true.

A Very SIGG Deal (Salon)

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data.





neti, neti: Sanskrit, meaning
Not this, not that (not such, not such)
.


From "na," meaning not, plus "iti," meaning thus.

Raw, adjective: 1. uncooked, as articles of food: a raw carrot.


Another title to put on your list for the next time you hit the bookstore: Lisa Jervis's new Cook Food: a manualfesto for easy, healthy, local eating. Jervis is a progressive publishing rockstar of sorts, a smart and snarky pop culture critic with an eye for the gendered, and now she's moved on to a different topic: food. And I dig it.

Check the recent interview over at Salon; Jaclyn Friedman's article is chock-full of good talking points for anyone interested in the politics of food. Among the many reasons I'm going to pick up this book:

1. I love her use of the term "aspiring," as in "aspiring vegan." Yes. Exactly. None of this black-and-white shit. An awareness that we're always practicing. Allowing space for fucking up. And getting back on the no-cheese horse. Great.

2. Shout-out to Pollan and locavore politics while also recognizing how the locavore movement can be elitist and upper-middle-class. Good point that often goes ignored.

3. Her sense that it's not about what you "should/should not" eat, but about what makes your body feel good. If we only all lived that way...well, I'd definitely not be eating any more gluten or cheese or sugar, ever again. (Then again, we're aspiring, aren't we?)

4. Jervis's mention of learning to cook by trusting your instincts. People always tell me, "Oh, I don't like baking, because you have to be so exact." Not true! Once you figure out a few basics, you just sit back, hit cruise control and let the damn car speed down the highway. Pour in buttermilk instead of water, or vice versa. Chop up peaches and substitute them for berries. Dump in some extra all-spice, maybe a pinch of cloves, even if it's not called for. It's not complicated. It's highly intuitive. And, wow, the things you do when you stop questioning that and just run with it.

Cooking, baking, whatever; it's all a craft of its own sort. An art, if you let it be. If you stop getting so caught up in the instructions and just aspire, intuit, breathe. Yup. Read it.

CliffsNotes to the Food Revolution (Salon)

Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data.


(I saw a dude wearing this shirt yesterday at a cafe while - natch - reading, and almost jumped on him.)

Love this article!! Check out the NYT's recent piece on subway readers: what they're reading, why, where they're headed. It's totally clever. Made me smile, nod in recognition.

One of the best parts of riding public transport is the built-in free time for unplugged reading. Living in the city, you quickly learn to carry dishy material wherever you go. I love the inevitable daily excuses to lose myself in a book or a magazine for a few minutes. (Doing so does make the obnoxious/oblivious phone-talkers/girly gigglers even more impossible to bear, though.)

Read the article, with its fond little characterizations and quick blurbs. One of the readers says of her train time: “It’s the one time of day that you have completely to yourself with no sort of immediate obligations, unplugged .... Although you’re surrounded by people, the anonymity is really forgiving.”

Amen to that.

Reading Underground (NYT)

Raw, adjective: 2. not having undergone processes of preparing, dressing, finishing, refining, or manufacture


Interesting article culled from my stack of unread New Yorkers, sure to intrigue any of you who also might've grown up on a steady diet of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her ilk.

"Wilder Women," by Judith Thurman, connects a series of recent books analyzing the real people behind the Little House series. Laura, Almanzo, and their daughter Rose, of course, who I'd forgotten lived and worked in San Francisco for a time - all come in for some psychological take-downs, thanks to new research being done on their old correspondence and original manuscripts.

Read the piece for a glimpse at Rose's unexpected socialist and libertarian sides, a sobering look at the scrappy Wilder life in the Ozarks, and an unsettling hint at the contentious mama-drama relationship between Laura and Rose.

Nothing is ever as simple as it appears, eh. And sometimes the backstory is better than the story itself.

Wilder Women: The Mother and Daughter Behind the Little House Series (New Yorker)

Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions.


Was not familiar with the poet Jane Kenyon until stumbling across one of her poems hanging on the wall in a dingy Portsmouth parking garage late one night last week. I stood there and read the piece that countless people have probably walked right by on their way to the Gap (love me some public art!) and listened to the acoustic guitarist next door and felt like there was hope for literature being relevant after all when it appears, magically, on a wall, dirty, when you're not looking for it.

Apparently Kenyon was New Hampshire's poet laureate at the time of her death from leukemia in the mid-90s. I dove into a few of her books later at one of the bookstores on Congress Street, and found therein a spare plainsong kind of style that mixes New England austerity with the sense of honest melancholy that I most value in writers and poets.

The poem below is the one from the parking garage. It reminded me of much of the yogic and Buddhist philosophy I've read, and some of the process theology, too, in the way it conjures up multiplicitous being and some fluid transcending of boundaries; perpetual flux, tantric oneness ("I am you and you are me and we are the universe"), Taoist notions of inherent natural harmony, blah blah blah. You can read this as the voice of a person or as the voice of some kind of divinity or as a whole lot of empty space; I like that deliberate ambiguity.

~

Briefly It Enters, and Briefly Speaks

I am the blossom pressed in a book,
found again after two hundred years. . . .

I am the maker, the lover, and the keeper. . . .

When the young girl who starves
sits down to a table
she will sit beside me. . . .

I am food on the prisoner's plate. . . .

I am water rushing to the wellhead,
filling the pitcher until it spills. . . .

I am the patient gardener
of the dry and weedy garden. . . .

I am the stone step,
the latch, and the working hinge. . . .

I am the heart contracted by joy. . .
the longest hair, white
before the rest. . . .

I am there in the basket of fruit
presented to the widow. . . .

I am the musk rose opening
unattended, the fern on the boggy summit. . . .

I am the one whose love
overcomes you, already with you
when you think to call my name. . . .

~

Check out the rest of Kenyon's work at poets.org. She's worth knowing.

Random shit I wanted to post that has no feasible connection whatsoever to any defintion of "rawness"



Quick candid from the wedding in NH.* The real action is in the center, of course, but if you look to the right you can catch a glimpse of me in Rev. Rach mode. Very official. Ahem.

Aren't they cute?

(You should've seen them wearing lobster bibs a few hours later.)





*Stolen from Kerri - thanks, KG

Raw, noun: 13. unrefined sugar, oil, etc.



Bundt Cake Saturday! (On Tuesday.)

Morning: cool
Mood: relieved
Music: Alexander Desplat

And I am so glad it's September. I hate August. Bring on the apples and the autumns and Symphony season debut and the new notebooks and the crisp evenings. I'm so ready for them.

We've got a backlog of about 72 new cake recipes that need to be recorded, most of which I've been carrying in my green messenger bag on various crumpled-up scraps of paper for approximately 32 days. After an August that felt like a nonstop progression of soirees and champagne and rental cars and beaches and yoga classes hungrily squeezed in at desperate, inopportune times, I'm so glad for a minute or two of quiet and coffee brewing in the kitchen and a week that looks less like a scrawled-up crazy calendar and more like a regular routine of wash, rinse, repeat.

Yesterday we had a picnic in Dolores Park for my boy Steve's birthday; it was warm and sunny and the hipster crowds were out in full effect, lots of guitars and bras and frisbees and 3-day scruff everywhere you turned. The SF Mime Troupe was putting on their regular Labor Day performance there in the park, and though you'd think they'd have run out of snarky political material now that BushCo is out of office, they managed to pull off a zinger of a show, all built around the whole "Too Big To Fail" concept. It was a regular anti-capitalist screed there on the hill in Dolores Park, ending with a plea to donate funds for the free political theater company (huzzah!) and to buy a shirt with the Mime Troupe logo on it (irony, hello?).

Anyway. I know the rest of yous are grumbling about heading back to work today after the long holiday weekend, but my work week is your weekend, and so, I'm savoring the lazy day meant for piano-playing and catching up.

Here's the first in a long list of overdue recipes from earlier this summer. It's nothing gourmet, to be sure; throw in as many unnatural products as you can, and you come up with this recipe. But what can you do? I needed a quick last-minute recipe, wanted something chocolate-y, and was intrigued by the possibility of using in-season Bing cherries at the time. So whaddya have? A surprisingly delicious

CHOCOLATE CHERRY BUNDT CAKE

Not only did it end up cute to look at, but the flavor was unexpectedly, well, great. It'll take you about two seconds to whip this one up and throw it in the oven, but no one will ever guess that when they sample it.

INGREDIENTS

1 chocolate cake mix
1 package instant chocolate fudge pudding
1 package black cherry instant gelatin
4 eggs
6 oz. black cherry yogurt (or chocolate, if you'd rather)
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. water (could use chocolate milk, too)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 c. fresh chopped cherries

So easy.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees; grease and flour your bundt pan. Combine cake mix, pudding, gelatin, eggs, yogurt, oil, water, and vanilla in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer for several minutes. Fold in washed and chopped cherries; stir lightly, taking care not to over-stir. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool in pan for 10 minutes; invert and cool completely on wire rack.

I baked this in my heart-shaped pan, which works well when you have a fairly simple recipe and aren't planning to do extensive streusels or anything. Frosting is up to you; you can whip up a chocolate fudge or buttercream frosting fairly easily, or pick up the lazy woman's version at the grocery. If you're feeling ambitious, toss in a few teaspoons of grenadine or maraschino cherry juice to flavor the frosting.

Drizzle that action over the cake, and sprinkle with a few leftover sliced cherry pieces. I clipped a few pothos leaves from the plant on my kitchen table and added those for a splash of green.

And there you go.

(And if you, like me, try to live sans gluten and sugar as much as possible, share the cake with your buddies and try the new-ish LaraBar Jocolat flavor in stores now instead, pictured above. It's a Chocolate Cherry concoction - 90% raw, they say - with just enough cherry pucker to give it some spirit. And it's built largely on dates, almonds, and organic cacao, instead of all this plastic unnatural crap.

Just sayin'. Try it.)

Monday, September 7, 2009

Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions.






"In the course of a misspent life, I have come to see that the one great sin passion can commit is to be joyless. We must lie down with laughter or make our bed in hell -- there is no other way."

~ Dorothy L. Sayers

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Raw, adjective: 10. not diluted, as alcoholic spirits: raw whiskey.


This could easily be Napa, or Sonoma, or even Santa Barbara, right? Nope. Try New Hampshire. The rolling slopes here at Flag Hill Winery. Sunset ceremony, hot bride and groom, great party, killer band, huge lobsters, bibs for everyone. And a smokin' officiant, obvs.

Best line of the night, spoken to this corn-fed preacher's daughter from the Great Plains: "So, do you do bar mitzvahs?"

My father would've gotten a kick out of that one. Rev. Rach strikes again.

And now, blistered feet from too much dancing, a surprisingly not-too-achy head, a bottomless vat of coffee, a few hours of mellow morning, and it's off to brunch and serious backyard pool action.

(Congrats, Laura and Gabe. XOXO)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions.


Muse (myz)
n.
1. Greek Mythology: Any of the nine daughters of Mnemosyne and Zeus, each of whom presided over a different art or science.
2. a. A guiding spirit.
b. A source of inspiration.
3. A poet.

[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin Msa, from Greek Mousa; see men-1 in Indo-European roots.]


Muse (myz)
v. mused, mus·ing, mus·es
v.intr. To be absorbed in one's thoughts; engage in meditation.
v.tr. To consider or say thoughtfully: mused that it might take longer to drive than walk.
n. A state of meditation.

[Middle English musen, from Old French muser (possibly from mus, snout, from Medieval Latin msum) and or of Germanic origin.]

Raw, adjective: 11. unprocessed or unevaluated: raw data.


Portsmouth is a total muse.

Drove in from Manchester after a day lost to planes, tossed my things at the hotel, and hit the cobblestones to discover what I could of this little charmer of a place here on the water before the sun went down. And oh, what a sweet twilight introduction. In just this short evening, in just these few blocks, I've happened across
  • 3 dusty coffee shops
  • 2 tattoo parlors
  • 1 churchbell clanging
  • 1 pseudo-Jason-Mraz, fedora-wearing, acoustic-guitar-playing son-of-an-Elvis-impersonator singing dude, whose tunes wafted over the fence to me, whose "Hey There Delilah" cover stopped me, and whose Moody Blues kept me
  • 3 yoga studios
  • 1 gluten-free bakery/cafe (!)
  • 2 indie bookstores: 1 second-hand, the other hosting an author reading by a tousled young New Hampshire/Paris ex-pat poet-journalist-teacher guy who happened to make eye contact with this tired traveler through the window, stopping in mid-sentence (methinks it could be the great set-up to a bad romantic comedy) and then continuing his spiel after a beat, a good beat, a rich potentially interesting beat (hmmm)
  • 1 chilly summer evening
  • 1 fuzzy woolen cloche
  • 4 hooligans on skateboards
  • 1 art store
  • 1 medium coffee
  • 2 used record stores
  • 2 local breweries
  • 16 wine bars (or was it 17?)
  • countless dimly-lit restaurants
  • 1 breathtaking Jane Kenyon poem, hanging on the dingy wall of a public parking garage
  • 1 set of Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum rental car guys wearing pastel ties, affable and friendly
  • 2 about-to-get-hitched dear ol' buddies
  • endless twisting New England side streets
  • 2 locally-owned ice cream shops
  • 42 sets of twinkly white lights
  • 67 seeds for future projects planted in my mind
If I ever open that bundt bakery that everyone's been hinting at lately, I'd do it here. On a cobblestone side street, with big open windows, and rustic interiors, and an apron, and a climbing trellis spilling over the doorway, and a wine bar next door where I could take refuge when life demands it.

(Hello, New England. Nice to meet you.)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Raw, adjective: 10. not diluted, as alcoholic spirits: raw whiskey.


Be Drunk

You have to be always drunk. That's all there is to it—it's the only way. So as not to feel the horrible burden of time that breaks your back and bends you to the earth, you have to be continually drunk.

But on what? Wine, poetry or virtue, as you wish. But be drunk.

And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace or the green grass of a ditch, in the mournful solitude of your room, you wake again, drunkenness already diminishing or gone, ask the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, everything that is flying, everything that is groaning, everything that is rolling, everything that is singing, everything that is speaking. . .ask what time it is and wind, wave, star, bird, clock will answer you: "It is time to be drunk! So as not to be the martyred slaves of time, be drunk, be continually drunk! On wine, on poetry or on virtue as you wish."

~ Charles Baudelaire

From Modern Poets of France: A Bilingual Anthology, translated and edited by Louis Simpson