Friday, November 30, 2007

Hello, this is Joanna, can I speak with the cutest little girl in the world?

It’s day 30 and I am all but tapped and so will again turn to the well of “little kids make writing easy” to complete my month of blog posts.

Everyone remember Miss D? In case there was any doubt she is still the most adorable person on the planet and I am still a complete sucker. And if you’re wondering how these two facts have combined in light of the upcoming holiday in honor of gluttony and shopping let me just say that the credit card companies have called my brother and asked him to please have as many children as possible. (Kurt: if you are working on this I do not want to know.)

Miss D is recently fascinated with talking on the phone much to the pleasure of her smitten aunt (aka me). A few weeks ago when she was playing sick at Grandma’s in between teaching my parents to sit, shake and beg she announced a need to call me (obviously aware that I have the power to cure colds from 3000 miles away) but when mom put her on the phone she was completely silent. Luckily I know how to fill a conversation lull (she is really going to wow the other kids at daycare with her knowledge of Beauty and the Geek (oh god how much do I hate everyone in the final 2 except for Nicole? A lot. Especially Jasmine. Also I think that being forced to watch 10 minutes of LARP-ing has perhaps turned me off geeks. The CW has a lot to answer for.)). But lately she has developed more of an appreciation for the art of conversation. The last two times we’ve talked she has started with yelling my name (note: she thinks my name is Joanna but I have it better than my mom who she insists on calling Grandma Horst (you know, the wife of Grandpa Horst)) and then answering every question I ask with “yeah!!!” until she bores of me and yells “BYE!” usually this is when I’m mid sentence (“What do you want for Christmas? “yeah!” “Did you tell your daddy to buy me a wii for Christmas?” “yeah!” “Have you given much thought to coming to live with me because I have LOTS of cookies at my house” “YEAH!!!!” “Wonderful, I’ve also been thinking a lot about the best way to track your progress on learning to make vodka gimlets because…” “BYE!!!”). I can only assume that she is mimicking how she hears adult phone conversations, clearly (and understandably) her opinion of most adults is pretty low. Next up? She’s spending some quality time with me at Christmas so she should be blogging in the new year.

Going for the much coveted "international guest poster" award

Hi, everyone. It's me, Mike. You know. Mike? Yeah, that's me.

I’m filling in for Brianna today*, who couldn't be bothered to live up to the rules of NaBloPoMo which require a person to post every day. Okay, so it doesn't say that person has to do the posting, but let's just infer that so that we can all mock Brianna for a while. Done? No? Okay, I'll wait.

Anyway, she offered me endless gratitude (or something) to pen a post for her today, and being the good friend that I am (see me abuse this privilege already?), I just couldn't help but be helpful.

And do you know why?

Because I'm Canadian.

It's a little known fact that Canadians are nice. I know, you didn't realise that, did you? Sure, we use extraneous vowels and generally avoid the letter "zed" because we're still a constitutional monarchy and we have this latent fear that if we stray from either of those habits, the Queen will come over and hit us with one of her hats, but deep down, we're loveable. It's an even lesser-known fact that Brianna has a cosmic destiny with Canadians. She seems to run into them everywhere. I, personally, believe that somewhere deep in her soul, she's in some way Canadian (don't listen to her when she tells you that's "German", not "Canadian").

So, for the sake of a post, and our international friendship, I present to you the Top 10 reasons Why Brianna Wishes She Was Canadian.

10. Lots and lots of snow.

9. Lots and lots of reasons to drink hot toddies in front of a fire because it's so damn cold outside.

8. Sweaters. [Perhaps this isn't coming from her, exactly, but trust me on this one.]

7. We're exceptionally friendly up here.

6. Cool accents.

5. Her singsongy voice would fit in nicely north of the 49th parallel, and not just in that one corner of California.

4. Finally that whole exchange rate problem has been solved.

3. Blue Rodeo.

2. She secretly wishes she could use more French words in casual conversation.

1. Endless opportunities to wear toques in an array of fashionable colours and styles.

And, for the sake of completeness, the Top 10 Reasons Why She's Probably Glad She Isn't.

10. Celine Dion. [We're sorry. We didn't know it would get so out of hand.]

9. Can't use the whole "international allure" angle on Canadian boys.

8. Low, low wages for smart computer-nerdy people.

7. Horrible, horrible "Mexican" food.

6. Hockey dominates the television on any given night.

5. Still cold even in the summertime.

4. Seriously, what's with all the hockey?

3. Doesn't want to be blamed for all those "nor easters" that hit the eastern seaboard.

2. What do you mean the booze has a 19% surtax on it?!

1. Now that she's of legal drinking age, she'd risk picking up guys who aren't even 21 yet, though still legal in the bars.

So there you have it, folks. Two lists, two countries, 30 days of NaBloPoMo. And if I may say so, I think she's done admirably through the month -- meme-less, lets-review-NaBloPoMo-so-far-less, and highly entertaining. She did, however, resort to joining Facebook, a decision she may regret if she doesn't get to blog about it a few more times.

*Hey, this is Brianna -- I'm a big follower of the rules so I'll actually be posting my own thing later today but it will suck much much much more than this post.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

City Songs

On Sunday Peter of made the huge mistake of leaving a comment on my blog indicating that he loves theme based mix tapes (ok, fine, cds. FINE, playlists but I won't pretend to like that magic-less nomenclature.). Seeing an opportunity for free music AND the chance to disappointingly write about music for the second time in one month I jumped on him with the request for some theme based music trading. And (likely mistake number 2) he agreed. Fool! Barely 24 hours later I had the following collection of songs with cities in their title delivered to my inbox

Bobcaygeon -- The Tragically Hip
Newcastle Jam -- Crowded House
Kreuzburg -- Bloc Party
Atlantic City -- Bruce Springsteen
Rio -- Daran Duran
New York's Not My Home -- Jim Croce
Jackson -- Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash
Luckenbach, Texas -- Waylon Jennings
L.A. Woman -- The Doors
New Orleans Is Sinking -- The Tragically Hip

You'll immediately notice that Peter totally cheats.

My first issue was with the song called Bobcagen but while at first I thought this was some Canadian word likely having to do with maple syrup processing or beavers it turns out to be the name of a town (though notable a town that even the (presumably Canadian) guy on the intro has never heard of) and since I come from a place that insists on calling itself a city despite having only 4000 human inhabitants I’m apt to let a lot of things slide. It helps that of the 5 new songs on the list this was by far my favorite.

The second cheater issue is that Peter includes 2 songs by the same band. This was not an explicit rule for the creation of this mix but I was fairly certain the all reasonable people knew that mixes have a MIX of artists. Peter tried to defend his behavior using the following pathetic excuse, “But it’s The Tragically Hip!” Which is Canadian for “but it’s AC/DC” which is Australian for “My country only has one famous band” (cue half of Canada calling me names -- save it folks, I am actually a huge fan of your country's contributions to auditory stimulation and I'm not even mad about the Celine Dion thing.).

There are 4 songs on this list that are songs that I forgot that I loved which means that I spent most of my listening time rewinding (fine, clicking the little back arrow) and thinking "Oh my god I DO want to move to Luchenbach and raise some fine youngin's and then maybe dress up like a bird of paradise and take a side trip to the Rio Grand and dance on a keg in some bar to make my husband jealous!"

Of the remaining 6 remaining tunes I already knew and sort of liked "Atlantic City" (though it's no "Thunder Road") and I'm sure I had heard "L.A. Women" at some point in the past and generally found it too much like the kind of song the fake stoner in the WASP-y frat loved. I was surprised to like Kreuzburg and I can tolerate Newcastle Jam and New Orleans Is Sinking. I know that come some dreary day in February when the subway smells particularly bad and the streets feel particularly harsh I will be very glad to have New York Is Not My Home to commiserate with.

Peter tells me that NaBloPoMo posts are supposed to suck. Thank God. One more day.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Moustache Ride

The New York City Movember Gala was last night and me and my comrades (aka coworkers) made a good show of it. There were pastel leaisure suits, there were over priced drinks, there were Playboy Bunnies (sadly no Girls Next Door), there were boys in cowboy hats (one of whom was in The Villiage People), there may have been some booty shaking.

We garnered 3 Mo superlative nominations.

Best Team Mo


And... Yes, the rumors are true-- yours truly was one of 3 finalists for Miss Movember. It is also true that some other chick won just because she was hotter than me. This being essentially a beauty contest I suppose I can't claim I was robbed but given how much more awesome my outfit was than hers I'd like to at least claim to have had my crown borrowed without permission.

Prostate cancer has never been so much fun -- or gotten me in so much trouble.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Mean Streets of Florida

Thanks to my job and JetBlue I spent Monday in central Florida and while I enjoyed the 84 degrees and this Italian meal from a cute little place called Olive Garden (where they give you unlimited bread sticks! have you heard of this?) the majority of my time in Florida was devoted to desperately digging through the bottom of my laptop bag in search of change. You know what they have a lot of in Florida? Oranges? Oldersters? Mickey Mice? Sure, I suppose, but it is a little known fact that 64.7% of the Florida population is made up of tollbooths. This is the main reason why there was so much voter confusion back in 2000 – tollbooths are notoriously bad at using punch cards.

In my short visit I estimate that I donated roughly $700,000,000.82 to the Florida tollbooth association and quarter appreciation society (on the Florida quarter? A tollbooth with Mickey Mouse ears). While I’m sure that if I lived in Florida and had to get a second job at the local Orange Julius in order to afford the cost of tolls I’d likely be pretty pissed off but for my one day visit my main complaint had less to do with money and more with annoyance.

The tolls on a Florida highway are not for any uniform amount – this means that as you sit at tollbooth #37 praying that your aim is good enough to toss $.62 into the maw of the FL Transportation authority and you peer down the road and spy tollbooth #38 about 700 feet ahead of you there will be no way of knowing exactly how much money you’ll be asked for next. I assume that this random toll system was adopted to offset the monotony of living in a climate that hands you 80 degrees day after day all year long and while I appreciate a surprise even more than your average senior citizen I worry that the system could lead to confusion, car accidents and me defacing a tollbooth with lipstick and spit and the leftovers of a 12 ounce can of Diet Pepsi (which I totally would not dream about doing even once officer.).

As fun as the surprise price tag is the absolute best feature of the Florida toll system is the “exact change” rule that is enforced at roughly 40% of tollbooths. The first time I came across one of these machines changeless I panicked. Afraid that my picture would be snapped and Hertz Rent a Car would hunt me down and throw me into some Florida prison where inmates are forced to accurately toss dirty coins into metal baskets or go without their nightly mai tai I dared not driving through without paying. My first instinct was to get a dollar bill out of my wallet, smile pretty and stare at the basket hoping for some sort of bill accepter contraption. By the time I realized that there was no such input device (and that tollbooths are impervious to the “but I’m cute, please forgive me!” smile) there was a huge SUV pulling up behind me which caused further panic in the form of dropping the dollar bill out the window. I immediately opened my door and started to exit the vehicle before remembering that Florida is technically the south the person behind me was probably armed and FOR SURE wanted to kill me – I left the dollar on the highway and slowly got back in the car. Of course I still had no change and I could see Bubba in the rearview looking for a clear shot. While my travel companion (aka He who Never has ANY Change) dug around in the muck at the bottom of my bag (would that you could pay your tolls in ATM receipts and bobby pins) I twisted around to grab my jacket from the back seat and fish desperately through the pockets while wistfully dreaming of the huge can of change that lives next to my front door back in the heaven of New York City where I’m never expected to drive and everyone takes credit cards. I was eventually able to scrape together the $.50 getting off the freeway fee and for the remainder of my stay in the penis of the USA took to keeping a dollar in coins on the dash at all times.

In California there are no such thing as toll roads (And the streets are paved in gold. And everyone has their own personal ray of sunshine that follows them around. And the cows can talk) so my experience with tollbooths didn’t begin until I attended college in western New York – the land of the NY Thruway. The Thruway may place ridiculous expectations on drivers like “speed limit: 55” and “30 miles for only $75!” but at least they don’t force people to stop every 5 miles to pay a toll. You’re handed a card when you get on the road in Schenectady and you pay one toll when you exit the road for an evening of debauchery in Oneida. This allows traffic to keep moving rather than shuttling cars through a tollbooth once ever 17 feet. Can someone tell Florida to get with the program?

Monday, November 26, 2007


Grand statement. Flippant comment that negates grand statement. Mock serious comment that negates flippant comment. Grand statement.

Obvious fact. Huge leap of faith. Coy rewording of grand statement.

Devil’s advocacy. Brief exploration of implications of devil’s advocacy. Contemptuous dismissal of those who dare to go against grand statement. Fools. Reference to Beverly Hills 90210 that proves grand statement.

Self deprecation. Just kidding, I’m awesome. Look how quirky I am! Swear word. (edgy!) You wish you were me. And if you want to be more like me might I suggest grand statement?

Witty banter (astute but still funny parenthetical comment). Song lyric by band you’ve never heard of that vaguely references grand statement but which I am mostly including as a pathetic attempt to seem hip. Wry contradiction of grand statement.

Declaration of success.

*the first person to actually use this as a template for a blog post gets either a picture of my knee cap OR free promotional quote in support of the blog your your choice – your choice!!!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Slurping My Way Through Chinatown

I love a good theme. Mix tapes containing only songs with cities as their title. Costume parties where everyone has to dress as their favorite rock star. I’m always in. And today? A Chinatown soup dumpling crawl. This afternoon of theme based gluttony was sponsored by a coworker who, earlier this year (during a time of much warmer weather), also brought me the Chinatown pan fried dumpling crawl. He is fast becoming my favorite person.

For those of you not living in an area with a thriving Chinese community might I recommend moving? Because seriously you people are missing out. Soup dumplings are a dollop of meat filling (usually pork) floating in a sea of rich broth encased inside of a thick dumpling wrapper. They are amazing. During our romp around Chinatown there was much talk (between the slurping and moaning in pleasure) about just how they get the broth tucked away in the belly of the dumpling (a more ethnic and perhaps higher brow version of the “how do they get the crème in the twinkie?” debate) and the most likely answer seemed to involve a cube of frozen broth instead of a stock filled syringe but Wikipedia claims that both hypothesizes wrong. Apparently the broth is the result of a meat gelatin alone which when heated melts into a satisfying greasy sauce -- this might not sound appetizing but does explain the richness (and also exactly why the broth drippings were so quick to congeal on my plate). I promise that if you eat a soup dumpling you will not find that last sentence anything other than delicious.

The first stop on the soup dumpling crawl was the overflow location for New York’s most famous soup dumpling-ary Joe’s Shanghai, Joe’s Ginger at 25 Pell. We were brought 2 orders of traditional pork soup dumplings and one order of a pork and crab combo both of which were lovely though there were some incidences of perhaps less than well done pork.

Our next stop at Goodies at 1 East Broadway offered the most impressive showing for soup dumpling variety and we took full advantage ordering FIVE types of dumplings. Sadly when the bamboo baskets arrived at the table all of the dumplings had such a uniform look that we were unable to distinguish the three delight from the seafood until the broth hit our tongues. No matter since all were also uniformly scrumptious. Goodies also brought us a bowl full of fortune cookies at the end of our second stop on the dumpling-fest via which I received this notification.

By 2pm Shanghai café at 100 Mott was so packed that we elected to take our dumplings on the road. And so the crawl ended with the 9 of us munching on pork and pork and crab dumplings in Columbus Park. The broth in the Shanghai dumplings was by far the most flavorful and gently sucking it from our its doughy pocket while sitting under a clear November sky was a wonderful way to end a long American weekend that honors gluttony.

I love turkey and mashed potatoes and most of all stuffing but this year I am thankful to reside in the land of exotic edible delights. God bless New York City.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

You Call It Trash I Call It a Free Blog Post

A few months ago Kajal’s husband bought her the ultimate “you want it but you won’t buy it for yourself” gift – a subscription to US Weekly. This is the most selfless thing any man has ever done. Sadly, I do not have a guilt-free trashy magazine coming to my house once a week so I usually have to rely on the internet for my celebrate gossip – but not today. As I was running errands and trying desperately to think of something interesting to write on these pages for today’s requisite babble it hit me – the blog is the only excuse I need to buy a copy of US Weekly. Because of this little dalliance I can claim that I did not buy the magazine because I am a pathetic shallow media obsessed part of the problem but instead because US Weekly is research for my very serious writing career.

And so without further ado I present….

Awesome things I learned from the December 3rd 2007 issue of US Weekly

  1. Will Smith has apparently crossed over to Scientology. I cannot come up with a reason why anyone would convert to Scientology no matter how badly they may want to sleep with Tom Cruise. In this day and age becoming a Scientologist is like converting to crazy -- basically Will is all “I always thought sanity was the way to really make it in Hollywood but after talking with Tom I’ve realized that loony is highly under rated. Also my refrigerator houses magical butter that when smeared on my forehead allows me to see into the future!”
  2. According to “Stars – They’re Just Like Us” celebrities also have to reapply lipgloss. And here I thought stars had some sort of auto reglossing machinery installed in their lips to save them from the shame of the reapply.
  3. Page 36 has an awesome piece on celebrity mom’s dressing trashy -- US weekly pulled a bunch of tots off of the streets in NYC to ask them “Would you be mortified to see your mom in one of these get ups?” The replies were pretty uniform -- “They look gross, I’d make them wear a lot more clothes” – Hannah, 5. I feel like to be fair the magazine should have clarified that in this scenario the mother of each child would be a smoking MILF.
  4. On page 42, “The Record” reports, “Boy George was charged with falsely imprisoning a male escort in London on November 13th. He is due in court on November 22nd” I kind of need more information here -- Is Boy George a cop? Does he just have a fake jail in his house? And if so is it really called “falsely imprisoning” if you lock someone up unwillingly in your home? Isn’t that called kidnapping? Also – is hiring a male escort not illegal in London? Shouldn’t Boy George also be charged with some sort of prostitution related offense?
  5. The people at PETA are obligated to support Pam Anderson because she is the only vegan in Hollywood (well I guess except for Moby but he doesn’t have huge tits) which I cannot imagine sits well with them. “US Weekly is on the phone and they want us to comment on Pam and Rick Solomon’s marriage I’m going to need a super sized order of tofurkey to get through this.”
  6. Britney Spears has an uncle known as “Wild Willy” who “lives in his car [and] once lived in a treehouse.” Nice try Willy but the "Black Sheep" title is hard won in the Spears family.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Sake Infused Three Ways

A couple of weeks ago I hosted my monthly wine club, the theme was sake (aka rice wine – work with me, we’ve been doing this for 2 years and we’re slowly running out of themes). The white girls of wine club didn’t take too well to the asian brew so there were liters of leftovers all of which landed in my refrigerator. Desperate for a way to avoid wasting the sake (waste is evil, especially when there are alcohol starved teenagers all over America) I went in search of a creative way to use the half full bottles and stumbled upon the idea of infused sake. I made cranberry and kiwi liquors a few years ago as Christmas gifts and the process is very similar though infusing sake takes only a few days whereas liquors often require a month long under taking.

Last Sunday I wondered the aisles of my local Trade Fair looking for inspiration and came back with some dried ancho chiles, a pomegranate, some limes, a knob of ginger and some dried pineapple slices. After chopping up the makings of this slightly esoteric mise en place I stuffed the bottles with the following combos and let them stew for 4 days (most recipes recommend a 3-7 day refrigerated brewing time).

Pomegranate and Cinnamon infused Fukunishiki Junmai Sake

This concoction was in honor of my friend Kelly who every Christmas blesses me with a bottle of amazing pomegranate liquor. I thought I might be able to create a similar (though more alcoholic) version to gift her with (once she’s done incubating the little one). I added the cinnamon as a nod to fall thinking that the combination could make a wonderful holiday aperitif.

½ liter of sake

The seeds of one large pomegranate

3 cinnamon sticks

Nose: clean sake smell with a slight cinnamon background

Color: Clear, the pomegranate and cinnamon haven’t transferred any color to the sake.

Flavor: Mild cinnamon, can’t taste pomegranate at all. The cinnamon flavor is pleasant mostly because most cinnamon flavored things in the US are reminiscent of red hots not true cinnamon (or at least true cassia).

Sadly I have to pronounce this attempt a bit of a failure. The sake overwhelmed the cinnamon and the cinnamon overwhelmed the pomegranate and I was left wishing for flavor that never made it to my tongue. If you want a pomegranate and cinnamon drink you’re better off with some pom juice and a shot of cinnamon syrup mixed with your vodka – or, if you’re lucky a dram of Kelly’s Pomegranate Liquor.

Lime and Ginger infused Shirakawago Sake

I am a long time lover of all things citrus. My favorite drinks are vodka gimlets and margaritas so the idea of a lime flavored sake was immediately intriguing. I thought that adding a bit of ginger would produce a light layered beverage that would go well with thai food.

½ liter sake

The zest of 3 limes

3 inches of ginger sliced in ¼ inch discs

Color: Slightly green and reminiscent of key lime juice, the liquid is milky because I used an unfilter sake.

Nose: heavily lime-y, can’t detect the ginger

Flavor: Wow! Like drinking a really good vodka gimlet with a sweet wheaty flavor

This version is a success even if I am sad that I can’t taste the ginger. Ginger is such a strong flavor in its own right I’m shocked that it gets so beaten down by the lime and I wonder if grating it would have been more powerful than slicing. I’d like to try mixing just ginger with sake to see if the flavor is just being masked by the lime. Ginger or not I finished two servings while writing this post (that should explain any typos you find).

Pineapple and Ancho Chile infused Pearl Junmai Ginjo Nigori Genshu Sake

(what a mouthful)

½ liter of sake

¼ cup dried ancho chiles, cut into 1/4 inch strips

½ cup dried pineapple chopped into bite sized pieces

Color: The infusion that picked up the most color it’s dark and ruddy like a good sangria

Nose: Chile smell dominates

Flavor: Amazingly good -- Flavor starts out very sweet with a nice hot background, the after taste is much hotter

I’m not sure why we don't see more chile based liquors and infusions given how obsessed our society is with heat. Inspired by my love for fruity salsas and the whole idea of sweet with heat I added pineapple to the mix – I went with dried at the last minute thinking it might produce a more intense flavor and I’m glad I did – I suspect fresh pineapple would have been lost among the heavy chile taste. This is by far the infusion that I was most excited about and even though I find the lime more drinkable it’s this concoction that I’ll be forcing on guests for the rest of the week.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Personal Style

Even though I’m super famous now I still value the needs of my fans so this one is for Lisa.

I am not surprised that Lisa would want to know about my personal style since a recent date commented on my sharp dressedness on national television. As an extra bonus I’ve tried to illustrate my personal style using the H&M Dressing room feature when possible but sometimes my style needs go beyond H&M.

7 Thoughts about my personal Style

I wear a lot of red which I think looks good on me. I think I look bad in purple mostly because my mom once said that purple is not my color and I have internalized this (but seriously look at that girl over there – totally ug.). As I write this I am on the train to Long Island to have Thanksgiving with Amy’s family who have thankfully adopted me (they feel obligated because I cooked Amy food when she had cancer – I plan on living off that good deed for YEARS) and I just put my purple vitamin water bottle up to my face to illustrate “see? I look uglier every time I put this by my face.” She thinks I’m crazy. I also think I look bad in celery green. I generally don’t like pastels.

Secretly I want to be punk rock. I once had a therapist tell me that I had a lot of walls up and even though I knew I was supposed to be sad about this I thought “oh awesome -- that is TOTALLY punk rock!” And so deep in my closet you will find a small collection of clothing that would be totally appropriate should I ever spontaneously develop musical talent or land myself a rock star boyfriend. This collection includes one pinstripes t-shirt dress that can be worn over a slip that I dyed blood red, the lace of the slip peeks out from the bottom of the dress all sexy like. That rock star boyfriend better hurry up and get here. Unfortunately H&M does not really offer any punk rock clothing for my model to wear, despite the fact that Amy is currently wearing a sweater from there which she claims is punk rock strictly because it has stripes – I’m claiming the outfit on the left is punk rock strictly because the tights are plaid. Both Amy and I are equally uncool.

I hate getting my hair cut because it involves paying ridiculous sums of money (usually upwards of $40) to sit in a chair and make chit chat with some lady I don’t know. Said lady also seems to expect me to have an idea of how I want my hair cut which I do not (“ummm can you just cut it?”). Thus my personal style is dictated by hair styles that only need to be cut twice a year (aka long, no bangs). I can get away with this mostly because my hair is curly-ish and blond-ish both of which I like to believe hide split ends. I am constantly involved in a battle with my curls. If they would just behave I would wear my hair curly everyday but most days instead of bouncy even curls I get some sort of half curly half straight all ugly combo pack and I have to bail out and straighten the whole mess. I am seriously tempted to buy a straightening iron but I can’t decide if I should be buying an expensive one or could get away with the target version. This is what I'd look like with short hair if I wear running around in just my underdutchies.

I have an affinity for shirts with witty statements – this is because I am a computer nerd and computer nerds like to pretend that such things make them look hot. In reality such things only serve as a red flag for noncomputer nerds, the rest of you should consider witty tshirts a public service. (Aside: last night I met the boys who sell this shirt which is creative but problematic since I suspect that the number of people who both get the joke and find it funny is very small – also despite what the boys may think there is no way this shirt will get any girls to sleep with them -- especially if they got the joke). H&M does not offer any witty tshirts in their virtual dressing room because they do not cater to nerds. does not offer a virtual dressing room because nerds like to pretend that they don’t care how they look in their tshirts.

Punk rock aspirations aside The truth is that I dress very preppy. This is obviously at least partially due to my obsession with the JCrew online sale but also likely a result of my junior high obsession with being republican. (the hormones wore off, I’ve reformed). This means that I own a fair number of cable knit sweaters (I’m wearing one right now!) and a respectable number of button down collared shirts (despite the fact that they often result in the dreaded “boobie gap”). The model is wearing heels which is a lie, I try very hard to avoid wearing heels because I can’t walk as fast as I like in them and also because I am a huge wimp when it comes to my ankles.

Amy doesn’t think I have a style – it’s funny because as we all know recently someone commented on national tv that I dress really well. The model on the left is Amy – as you can see she also has no style. She also thinks this outfits is very punk rock.

I don’t know how to put on make-up so I just choose not to wear anything other than blush and mascara and lipstick. When I type that out it seems like a lot of make up but the point is that I do not wear foundation or powder. It’s possible that I *should* be wearing more make up but I fear that if I start down the make-up route I could get too used to it and then be one of those girls who felt like she couldn’t leave the house with out make up on and then I’d annoy myself and also have to get up earlier. I can’t imagine being prettier would be worth it.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Fall Cooking

Writers block and the demands of the holidays have set in and I think we know what that means – it’s time for a “What I ate last night” post! (With a bonus “What I bribed my developers with” post!).

Inspired by the butternut squash and rabbit pasta dish I had at Henry’s End last week and by the lamb sausage and slowly wilting head of kale that the CSA delivered to me I put together the following very fall appropriate dinner.

Pasta with Sweet Potatoes, Sausage and Kale

1 medium sweet potato peeled and cut into ¾ inch dice

½ of a large onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic, diced

1 bunch of kale

1 tsp fresh rosemary

2 sausages cut into slices or crumbled

½ cup chicken or vegetable stock

Canola oil

Salt, pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place diced sweet potato in a baking dish and toss with 1 tablespoon oil and salt and pepper. Cook sweet potato for 15 minutes stirring once at the 7ish minute mark. In the mean time sauté onion and garlic in skillet (I, of course, used my beloved cast iron) when translucent add sausage (if you’re using precooked sausage hold off on adding it until the kale is done). Now is also a good time to start your pasta water. When the sausage has browned add the kale and the stock and cover for 5 minutes. When kale has wilted (you may need more than the five minutes, if it’s not tender let it stew for a bit longer) add the cooked sweet potatoes and pasta. Voila!

Last night I was only semi impressed with this dish but somehow between 9pm and this afternoon’s lunch the pasta transformed itself into a sort of ambrosia. I am now officially dubbing the arranged marriage between mild sausage and the rosemary a success. The pair obviously spent the night commingling in the marriage bed of pasta and veggies and love is in the air (and now in my tummy).

As a “Thanks for doing your job and making me look good doing my job” treat I stole the recipe for Fresh Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies from Rachel at Coconut & Lime. I substituted regular vanilla for the vanilla paste and was happy with the flavor – I also used regular chocolate chips because (obviously) nowhere in NYC sells mini chips. The cookies were amazing -- sweet and tart all at once -- and will hopefully result in developers being good to me for at least another 2 weeks.

For those of you who look at the cookie recipe and think, “I will not use parchment paper because it is precious now that buying it requires a special trip to the cake supply store on 22nd which appears to be the only place in all of NYC selling this elusive product and which is at least a 20 minute subway ride form anywhere I ever go now that my office is located in Siberia and which closes at 5pm because apparently only stay at home moms bake things” I warn you – the cranberries pop as they cook and produce a sticky substance that is officially known as “fucking cranberry goo” and which will pretty much never come off of your cookie sheets.

Third Party Resources

There are a lot of great fall recipes that use the produce of the season. All you have to do is look online! Nowhere else in the world will you be able to find tips on how to win at blackjack and cookie recipes alongside an oil change checklist!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Coming This January: Eggnog Thighs

Normally my relationship with coffee is purely social and/or directly related to a desire to avoid the managing of projects. I have even been known to claim to be immune to the caffeine lure that others speak of. But every November my heart, my brain, my tongue, my being craves some coffee -- and not just any coffee. I live very close to an adorable indie coffee shop and the only thing my office neighborhood, DUMBO, has more of than commercial shoots is indie coffee shops. All of these establishments have terrific affordably priced coffee beverages. And yet… the caffeinated beverage that calls my name is the Starbucks eggnog latte. I am so ashamed. I find myself sitting at my desk or walking down the street or lying in bed obsessively thinking about the warm frothy eggnog latte (EL) that seems to be beaconing from the nearest Starbucks. It is very difficult for me to write this post because the EL cravings are only getting worse with every word I type. It is very possible that I will have to pause mid sentence to go on a latte run. I suspect Starbucks puts actual rum in the lattes. Or LSD (mmmm LSD. Mmmm elephants.). That would explain a lot.

Allow me to go on a tangent here in an effort to stave off my EL jones. Here's a conundrum: The last two times I’ve been in Starbucks the person in front of me has ordered a no foam latte. WTF? Clearly this is a sign of the apocalypse on par with the scourge of ice milk. Foam is what separates us from the heathens who drink plain old coffee with milk. Foam is what we pay $4+ for (well, that and sugar syrup flavored to remind us of booze).

But back to the (now banned from my life) evil eggnog lattes (EEL).

In preparation for this post I did the scariest thing EVER. I looked up the calorie content of a tall SKIM eggnog latte on the Starbucks web site. The faint of heart may wish to stop reading right here because OF COURSE the news is not good because good news has never ever come from looking up food calorie counts. Keep in mind that I order the smallest size (12 oz) with SKIM milk. Keep in mind that 12oz of Skim milk has 135 calories.

350 calories!

You know what probably has less calories than that? Actual eggnog made with real eggs. You know what definitely has even fewer calories than that? 3 shots of rum.

Monday, November 19, 2007

How I Spent My 15 Minutes

On Friday I received a curious email from the founders of Apparently they had been tricked into going on the Fox morning show and after reading my blog entry about their service wanted nothing more than to drag me down with them. I was totally in. The deal was this – go on a Crazy Blind Date with some random dude and let Fox film it and then show up on Monday’s episode of The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet for an interview. They did not specifically ask me to make a fool out of myself but I’m pretty sure it was implied (never let it be said that I don't deliver on my commitments). Remember long long ago (last week) when I bemoaned just how awful I am at dating? Well everyone knows that if you think you’re not very good at something a sure fire way to overcome your insecurities is to do that activity on national television.

In order to be cleared for TV I had to submit to a very upbeat phone screen with one of the producers of Fox’s Morning Show with Mike and Juliet. During the phone screen that producer worked very hard to get me to agree that my ultimate goal for my crazy bind date was L-O-V-E and most certainly not “I needed something to blog about.” Luckily I’m an atheist and therefore have no moral scruples so I had no problem telling the roughly 500 white lies required to get on national TV. (“random blind dates are a sure fire path to love!” “Oh yeah, my house is totally clean already.” “Of course I know how to do my own make up!”). Despite my flagrant disregard for the truth after the phone screen I felt certain that Fox was running a background check on my voting record and would be banning me from the show. I can only assume that at 5:30pm on Friday the network was desperate enough for a single girl that they were willing to overlook my love for organic vegetables, evolution and the gays.

So I thought everything was set – I meet at the date site early to do an interview and then they film the date and then I get drunk and wonder what the fuck I was thinking. Then, latish on Friday night the producer calls to ask if they can do some pre show filming at my house – as a red blooded television worshiping American I had no choice but to say yes. So I spent all of Saturday morning obsessively cleaning least my family see the show and determine that the main reason why I’m not married is that my entire house is covered in chinchilla dust. (They’d be wrong, the boys love the dust, they think it’s mysterious and sexy).

The crew arrived at 3pm and filmed roughly 15 hours of me poking at my computer and putting on my earrings (strangely they filmed only a few minutes of “Brianna walking” footage but obviously decided to put ALL of it on the show – I walk good.). The camera and PA for the show were both hot. I wondered if there was some easy way to hit on both of them while being filmed on a date with another dude. Since as usual I failed at the flirting I can only hope that they read this and are totally into sharing a girlfriend (I have two hands boys!).

I used to think that if I were to go on reality TV I would be able to resist falling into a one dimensional stereotype but now I know that I was wrong. Put in front of cameras I become the perky sweet girl immediately (like Bridget from The Girls Next Door but with better taste in men and more clothing). Given a few weeks living in a mansion I’d kill off about 40% of the viewing audience with my saccharine sweetness. The hair and make up people did everything possible to help me fit this reality TV archetype with super straight hair and a ton of make-up I pull off boring pretty quite well. If only I had some huge fake boobs perhaps I could jump start a career as a C list celebrity.

As you can see from the date footage I looked adorable. Also I was hilariously witty. Also it’s shocking to believe that I am single. I have been contacted by no less than 780 scientists interested in studying this phenomenon (most studies seem centered around exploring the phenomenon in the nude). Bret was cute too. He was notably much cuter than the picture he used on CrazyBlindDate which I saw the next day -- because I am a huge huge huge lover of the geeks I thought, “oh he’s way hotter than that picture, I kind of wish he looked like that, that guy looks like a totally dork!” I said as much on the show – I also said the following on my official Crazy Blind Date feedback form, “Brett was great but I usually only date guys who know at least one programming language.”

Despite the fact that holding a conversation with some guy you just met while three people hover over you with cameras and mics and notepads is virtually impossible I think we both managed to avoid looking like schmoes. While the date did have some awkward moments the clip that Fox uses to make us look like dorks (frankly I’m surprised they didn’t edit some cricket chirping into the soundtrack) was likely the result of both of us trying very hard to think of TV friendly things to talk about on a “date.” At one point we got onto the topic of my job and I had to continue speaking over the “Brianna do not get your ass fired” alarms going off in my head. Sadly the Mike and Juliet site only shows the first half of our segment but that might be for the best since all I remember of the interview portion is offering to make out on the show. But the interview does reveal that Brett and I extended our 20 minute agreed upon date for a few hours when he asked to tag along with me to the Roller Derby (where the girls were hot enough to almost turn me into a dyke). This allowed us to actually talk to each other like normal people rather than “The Perky Girl” and “The Responsible Gentleman” – it turned out I had more in common with Brett than I thought, he likes cooking and eating and travel and technology – again the robots do me right. There’s a reason why I love computers so much. While on our post-date date Brett and I also came up with the most awesome idea for Monday – A little faked proposal action, thankfully for the Crazy Blind Date dude our idea was all talk and no commitment (clearly we’re not ready for marriage).

So yet again Crazy Blind Date is awesome – everyone reading this should break up with the significant others just to go out on random dates. The only snafu of the evening was that the car that Fox sent to take me to the date was ridiculously expensive and I had to pay for it. At first I blamed Fox for being cheap “no new taxes” bastards but in retrospect I now just think that the cabbie scammed me since the same limo service drove me to Fox and to work today and didn’t charge me either time. Luckily the drinks were comped… though not by Fox – the bar manager paid for them.

The live TV experience this morning was surreal. I arrived make up free and with my frizzy hair in a ponytail (as Amy observed I’m not the kind of person to clean before the maid arrives) and was sent straight to hair and make-up (“Get thee to the chair before your hideousness ruins television for all!”). The hair lady took one look at me and reached for the straightening iron – curly hair is for communists. While being straightened the beauticians inquired about my day job and upon hearing the words “Software Project Manager” launched immediately into a chorus of “why is my computer so slow.” I threw out some “reboot” and “disk defragmenter” recommendations to appease them least they choose to send me onto the show with a beehive and orange lipstick (though that might have been awesome). From there on everything moved at lightening speed; the producers quizzed me and seemed convinced that I would not clam up or bare any body parts that could get Fox sued (tempting, believe me), Bret tried to get me to take some sort of crazy herbal supplement for nerves, the CrazyBlindDate dude seemed completely freak out (though he also resisted the herbal supplement), and then we were standing at the edge of the stage trying not to giggle as they showed our dating footage.

When I got to work and hour later I had to resist the impulse to wash my face figuring that without some serious cleanser I wasn’t going to be able to even break through the make-up top soil. There was a mixed office reaction to my new heavily made up look – half shock (“oh my god you’re a girl!”) and half awe (“you should hire a make-up and hair crew every morning”) – obviously this is disturbing since a) I think I looked like a freak and b) there is no way in hell I’m going to spend this much time, energy and money on my looks on any sort of regular basis. This also presumes that I have the skills to make myself up but instead choose sleep over beauty every morning. The truth is that laziness is the least of my problems. Predate (when I had to do my own make-up) I had a moment of panic when I called two friends (neither of which responded – thanks for nothing Amy and Gillian) in a panic when I remembered 30 minutes before the camera crew arrived that I have no idea how to put on eye shadow or tie a scarf. I mean I can swipe on some Burt’s Bees lip tint and run a brush through the mop but other than that I’m as inept as an accountant on a stripper pole (no offense to all the sexy accountants out there).

So... to quote Fox’s obsessed producers, “WAS IT A LOVE MATCH? HMMMM? HMMM? WAS IT?!?” I don’t know. The whole experience was so much more like being in a play than like being on a date that it’s hard to tell where reality TV Brianna stops and reality life Brianna begins. So – I would certainly go out with Bret without any cameras around to find out if we’re real life compatible – and if we are I intend to get Fox to pay for our wedding. Bret, I know you subscribed to my blog, say hi to the folks in the comments and give me a call.

Even if there isn’t a date #2 (though one could argue that hanging out on tv this morning was technically a date #2) I feel I spent my 15 minutes wisely – I looked cute, I didn't try to convert people to some crazy cult and I kept my underwear on which is much more than most real celebrities seem capable of.

Update: Date footage from YouTube where they let you fast forward straight to the hot Brianna action (Thanks Adam!). I'm going to try to pull the full segment complete with interview from my tivo tonight... wish me luck.

Third Party Resources
Looking through all the New York singles to find love is not nearly as easy as it looks. After looking through all the dating sites and going on dozens of blind dates, hopefully you can find at least one person like you.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Things That Will Probably Be on Fox TV Tomorrow

  1. 75 Simpsons reruns (that Disco Stu is so dreamy)
  2. At least one news story about an everyday household item that is going to kill you (probably that grenade you keep in back of the closet)
  3. 4.5 hours of "court" TV ("she done stole my man and my cubic zirconia anklet!")
  4. Me making a fool of myself on "The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet" (oh fuck.)

You should probably stay home sick.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Welcome to Facebook

I finally joined Facebook. I had refused to join an additional social networking site mostly out of fear that it will provide yet another path for my high school peers to hunt me down and pretend that even though we hardly ever spoke while actually in high school we are now BFFs. Luckily there appears to be only 5 members of my high school class on Facebook as opposed to MySpace which is crawling with those people. Perhaps this is the main reason people migrate to new social networking sites – to avoid the people they don’t really like on the old social networking sites.

Besides the dearth of former BUHSers the best thing about Facebook is that it is yet another place where I can get my ass kicked in Scrabble Scrabbulous. Now that this blog is super famous this is the only thing keeping my ego in check.

I registered on Monday (mostly because I saw blog hits coming from Facebook and because I am a slave to my stats I obviously had to investigate). It took roughly 5 hours for all of my (notably younger) cousins to track me down and tag me as their friend – I took this as a sign that I am not yet an embarrassment to the younger generation. Don’t worry kids, I’m sure I’ll do something fuddy-duddy very soon. Sadly you’ll still have to pretend you like me because otherwise your parents will ground you.

I know that Facebook is cutting edge because as I type this MS Word recognizes the word MySpace but still thinks Facebook is misspelled. Facebook gains a lot of cool points with hipsters this way (one assumes Apple is hip to the Facebook craze). Here’s hoping some of the cool rubs off on me. If nothing else at least society has finally invented a technology that frees us all from the scourge of untalented 15 year olds with bad taste being allowed to design their own web page. Here's to a future with no falling glitter.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Mommy Blogging

When my friend Alia asked me to babysit her three year old son Sam I thought, “sweet I can finally cash in on the Mommy blogging.” I think everyone on the internet knows that the easiest job in town is writing about children for the owners and operators of other children. This parent blogging niche is the fastest path to blog stardom mostly because a lot of stay at home parents are so starved for adult interaction that they’ll willingly listen to other parents blather on endlessly about the size of little Timmy’s morning doodie. I have a job where I talk to other adults for hours everyday but I read mommy blogs anyway – sometimes you just can’t beat a good doodie story.

ANYWAY -- babysitting. As we all know children can teach us revealing life lessons so I came ready to learn. More importantly I came ready to blog. I figure I hang out for a few hours waiting for Sam to say something profound/hilarious so I can write it down verbatim and be done with the day’s blog post. Wham Bam Thank You Sam (wow, that last sentence might be wildly inappropriate).

The evening started with a debate over which activity would be more fun: dinner or watching some cartoons. I was a staunch advocate of the dinner route and since I was the only person in the house tall enough to reach the portable DVD player I won. So “we” cooked dinner. To be honest I did all of the work while Sam provided dinner entertainment in the form of 5-8000 renditions of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” despite not hearing this song in at least 15 years I remembered all of the words – clearly my brain has made some interesting prioritization choices when it comes to memory usage.

While eating our macaroni and cheese Sam spontaneously asked me if he could “smell the sugar,” turns out even toddlers are partying harder than me. Ever the enabler I handed over the sugar bowl and he took a big whiff and then announced “it smells like sugar!” I think he was high. He returned to eating dinner without further comment until mid macing on a dish known as “the cheesiest” Sam requested a piece of cheese proving that he is a toddler of discerning culinary taste since everyone knows that dairy is the most delicious of the food groups. Either that or he had a bad case of the munchies. I followed his lead and punctuated my mouthfuls of cheese coated pasta with bites of Munster. I felt satisfied if a little phlegmy.

The rest of the evening was devoted to worshipping The Bear in The Big Blue House. The ritual bouncing on the couch and singing along with the theme song was punctuated only by the call of nature (the answering of which required the removal of ALL clothing) and one request that I literally KISS HIS FEET. Sam caged this request under the auspices of injury but I don’t think the symbolism was unintentional. As he toddled back to his cartoon evangelism there was the jaunt in his step usually only seen in the walks of cult leaders and dictators (Baby Doc?).

As expected this was the simplest blog post I’ve ever written. Children: The Easy Mac of the blogging world. Heat and serve baby.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Even Better than the Real Thing

In August a friend of mine (who shall remain nameless) was carrying around an adorable LeSportsac bag with funky little Japanese cartoon characters on it. The bag was so cute that I found myself thinking “I should buy an adorable bag! I should splurge! I would totally be willing to pay as much as $50 for that cute nylon bag!” Obviously I am way out of the designer bag loop. In a rational world $50 would be an obscene amount of money for a nylon bag that likely costs under $3 to manufacture but in the weirdo parallel universe that most people like to call reality this bag costs upwards of $150. On sale. Obviously there was no way I was going off the rails on that crazy train. Not when I live within a 30min subway ride of Chinatown.

$10 suckers! (With a free mini purse! Officially priced at $15 but I’ve got mad negotiating skills)

I do not understand the desire for designer bags. Correction: I do not understand the desire for *real* designer bags. The way I see it everyone should be buying knock offs. Think about it – people of normal means (aka those of us making under 300K) shouldn’t be spending hundreds of dollars on a purse, not when there are video game consoles and $100 jeans to buy! And if you’re rich enough to afford a designer bag and you buy a knockoff everyone will just assume the bag is real so spending the extra dough for the authentic product is pointless.

I know what the crazy freaks over at Bag Bliss are going to say, “ummm the lining and like the zippers are WAY better on the real bags and you can totally tell that the knock offs are fake.” My god I HOPE people notice that I’m carrying a fake bag. I’d hate to for stranger to think I'm stupid enough to pay over $10 on 1 yard of nylon and a $.05 aluminum zipper.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Love is a Battlefield

Oh my god I suck at dating.

… Perhaps suck is not the best word to use in this context.

Oh my god I am very bad at dating.

Very bad as in my grandparents might think I'm a lesbian. Very bad as in there has been no noticeable improvement since sixth grade when boys routinely asked me out as a joke. Very bad as in I have repeatedly googled the phrase "human pheromone deficiency."

I would like to be able to write about my abysmal dating record with a certain amount of flair. I would like to trot out flippant comments about how fickle some boys are and how ridiculously stupid others seems to be and ultimately how my perpetual singleness is a sign of how incredibly awesome I am. I would like for this post to result in hoards of adoring attractive male fans competing to woo me (wish list here). I would like to draw some provocative conclusion preferably comparing my life to a popular 80s movie. I would like to seem cool and funny and not at ALL like I have EVER moped or lost sleep or cried like a big baby as a result of this record and certainly have not even thought of doing any of these in at least 10 years. I doubt I will accomplish these goals.

If I have a date it is safe to assume that I met the (alleged) gentleman online because I am completely incapable of meeting men in person. This is likely because I have very little patience for bars and I find dance clubs vile (have you been to one of these places? They put on loud music and expect you to move your body in rhythm; the whole concept seems rather far fetched.). I like doing stuff. I like joining clubs and attending classes. I like wandering and wining and dining. I like going to readings and concerts. It turns out that boys hate doing stuff. Don’t believe me? Well how do you feel about believing the New York Times? I’m not even going to get into how lame this makes men sound (cause seriously guys, LAME). For now let’s just say that I don’t meet guys on food tours of chinatown.

But thanks to the internet I go on a lot of dates -- mostly because I try very hard to go on a lot of dates. While the phrase "glutton for punishment" does come to mind about once ever 5 minutes my theory is that dating is like voting -- if you're not out there casting a ballot you don't get to complain when things turn out badly. I have earned the right to complain and I intend to exercise it here and now. So I should warn you that there may be some whining. And likely I will have to eat some ice cream. But as long as it doesn't end with me screaming "Why don't you like me?!?!?!" I plan on declaring success.

I suppose I need to address exactly what is happening on these dates -- this is the hard part of the post. I feel that to do this I'd have to have an inkling of exactly what is going wrong and I’m mostly at a loss. I admit that I am a huge geek and that I am making no effort at all to hide this fact while out on dates. I keep thinking that being a huge geek is a plus –it's 2007, the nerds have won, right? Personally I LOVE geeks so my general approach to dating has been, “I'M A HUGE GEEK, COME AND GET IT.” Perhaps this is part of the problem but I doubt it. I’m a great date. I’m witty and articulate and prompt. Most of the time I even pull off cute. Typically the date ends with me thinking, “Oh, this one is in the bag! I am an awesome dating machine!” And then I get bored with waiting for him to call. And then I call. And then he announces his general dissatisfaction with the idea of a second date. And then? The ice cream.

This current state of affairs is bullshit since I was all but promised that the little bug in my "make boys like me" plug-in was going to right itself in due time. Remember how I was going to be a heart breaker right after I got out of junior high and boys realized that girls weren't icky? Or right after high school when boys realized that smart girls are awesome? Or right after college when boys took off their beer goggles and noticed that funny girls are much cooler than pretty girls? I'm waiting....

My frustration is further complicated by the fact that girlfriend-wise I am a really good deal. I invest a decent chunk of money in my 401K. I buy cute underwear. My dentist has all but promised that I will not need dentures. And also I am crazy only in the really attractive good ways (obsessive about being on time, incapable of falling asleep without playing a rousing game of Scattergories in my head, etc) rather than the annoying bad ways that are most commonly seen on reality TV programs (tendency to scream at people, belief that men should always pay, inability to conceal naughty bits underneath clothing). And yet the girls on reality TV have men competing in ill conceived contests to win dates with them and I am babysitting a friend's 3 year old on Friday night (admittedly he's cuter than most TV bachelors).

I suspect that my melancholia over the dating experience as a whole stems from the fact that I am completely unable to view each experience in a vacuum choosing instead to believe that every boy who doesn't call is symptomatic of the one eternal truth -- not that you can't eat just one potato chip, or that naughty girls need love too, or that skinny jeans don't look good on anyone but that all boys hate Brianna. Or perhaps less dramatically: No boys click with Brianna

To be honest the problem is not always with the boys clicking with me. Occasionally, I don't click with the boys. Always these are nice boys who I seriously wish I could like but the issue is chemistry. It seems likely that this has been my problem all along. I don't understand chemistry at all and I'd like to just outright deny it's existence since trying to please powers that we don't understand inspires magical thinking. This path leads directly to disaster. Maybe if I click my heels three times the fickle god of chemistry will smile on this date. Maybe if I chop the leg off of this cute little bunny it will bring me luck. Maybe if I forget to wear a shirt he won't even notice the lack of chemistry!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Home Brew Part 2

Inspired by my foray into ginger ale brewing and this summer’s foraging in Central Park this past weekend I finally got around to making my own root beer. Something about making soda (or maraschino cherries) feels more like mad scientist work than cooking or baking and leaves me feeling like some sort of magical god of the kitchen so it should come as no surprise that brewing root beer required me to dive into the world of the occult. Most of the root beer recipes on the internet involve “root beer extract” but I felt this would be tantamount to cheating – I mean anyone can mix extract with sugar and water but I’m a mad scientist! In order to make root beer truly from scratch I had to find a source for licorice root, cherry bark and sarsaparilla root and after an unsuccessful hunt through the Chinatown herbalist shops I turned to my trusty friend the internet. I soon found out that majority of people shopping for such items have aspiration far beyond soda pop. The only websites carrying these ingredients were named things like and Witches R Us and also sold spell books and velvet cloaks and please don’t beat me up talismans. Undeterred by the questionable mailing lists that I would end up on I placed an order with Archangel Artifacts (Watch while I gloss over the fact that my 13 year old self totally wished for access to a store that sold Don’t Beat Me Up Talismans and that even my current self would kill for a Love Me Now Spell).

I devoted many CPU cycles over at Google to trying to find a root beer recipe that I felt comfortable with but eventually ended up putting together a super Brianna only recipe that is the amalgamation of 2 or 3 less cool widely available internet recipes. The result was spicier than your standard issue A&W but probably not as good as any of the more premium options on the market.

Kick In The Ass Root Beer

1 oz sarsparilla root
1 4 inch long piece of sassafrass root pulled up from the bowls of Central Park
1 oz cherry bark
1/2 oz licorice root
1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 cinnamon stick
2 to 4 oz raisins (you can add more if you like their flavor)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup molasses
1 lb white sugar
1 lb brown sugar

Boil the above with 4 quarts of water for 1.5 hours (which should give your home a spicy fall like smell) then strain (I used a paper towel lined mesh strainer) and add

1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp wintergreen extract

I know that wintergreen extract is hard to fine (though they sell it on Amazon) but do not be tempted to go without – the difference in flavor between the extract free syrup and the wintergreen-y post straining concentrate is monumental.

To turn this concoction into soda either mix with 3 parts carbonated water (if you’re not a mad scientist) or mix with 3 parts still water and half a tsp of yeast and leave in a warm place for 24 hours. I find that the yeast method gives frothier bubbles than the carbonated water method but I might be making that up. I'm also tempted to make some root beer popsicles since I have an Ikea popsicle mold taunting me from my tupperware cupboard and November is the perfect time for popsicles!

Last night I served the root beer straight up and in float form to my house guests while we bashed the latest round of wannabee models. The soda was well received but I probably over did it on the molasses.

Cherish: Like having homemade pie as opposed to Sara Lee frozen pie!

Amy: I liked it much better with ice cream (shocking!). Straight up it was too molasses-y but it totally smelled and tasted like root beer – Good job!

Amy and I made numerous attempts to photograph the root beer floats all to no avail so you’ll just have to trust me that they looked and tasted delicious.