Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Girl All the Tabloids Want

Last week I received an email from my peeps over at Crazy Blind Date asking if I’d be willing to submit to a Daily News interview about their services. I considered asking if I was going to be put on their payroll since I am apparently a key member of their marketing department but refrained because being interviewed by a real life paper (even one that I often snear/snicker at on the subway) sounded like good times. So I called the writer who was so fun to chat with that there is pretty much no chance that I didn’t say something that will result in my family disowning me. When she offered to plug my blog in the piece I briefly considered asking her if she was interested in some hot lesbian loving but I somehow managed to restrain myself. God forbid I ever do anything interesting enough to warrant true news coverage of my life because all it will take is one “You look so cute!” from Oprah and I’ll be slutting myself out for an all night Oprah/Brianna/Gail sandwich making party.

Anyway. The article was supposed to appear in today’s Daily News in their weekly “Hers-day” feature (I would like to comment on that ridiculous name but embedding an animated gif of rolling eyes on my blog seems like cheating especially since that gif could adequately stand in for every single sentence I’ve ever written). You may have noticed that there was no such article in today’s paper (one assumes that, like me, you scoured the entire fucking web site and wasted fifty whole cents only to spend your subway ride begrudgingly reading about the superbowl). Because I am very well connected with the movers and shakers in the news world I emailed this one guy who I sort of know who works at the Daily News (in sports, but whatever).

So last week I was interviewed for this Daily News piece on crazy blind date and the writer implied that she might be able to sneak in a link to my blog so I’m pretty psyched (how far away can a million dollar book deal be really?). She said the piece would appear in today's "Hersday" section but clearly THIS WAS A LIE. Obviously I expect you to research this for me because, really, what could you be doing that's more important than this? NOTHING.

I have yet to hear back from him so clearly someone needs to reprioritize whatever the crap he is doing today.

I’m going to assume that the piece will eventually be published because I give great interview – they’re probably just saving it for some awful Valentines Day themed issue as the article meant to promise hope to the pathetically single among us (likely it will appear right between “Chocolate Tastes Great!” and “Maybe You Just Suck”). In the meantime single men in New York should take a long look at this blog because I think it’s obvious that I am THE BEST YOU CAN HOPE FOR. Now that might not be a particularly encouraging piece of news but sometimes the truth hurts. The Crazy Blind Date people could ask any one of their numerous single female contacts to shill for them on national TV and local newspapers. Ok, clearly they need someone with a nice rack and the ability to construct sentences that make her seem interesting and not crazy so that millions of single men will log on to their site and sign up for dates which I can only assume will somehow make the CBD people rich (though I still have no idea how this site is making any money even if they have implemented an innovative way of getting free marketing via cute girls with blogs). But how hard can it be to find some boobage with a side order of sanity? Apparently next to impossible since CBD has looked through their stash of single NYC girls twice now and twice come up with “fuck I guess we’ll ask this Brianna girl cause everyone else is either sporting a third nostril or might start mooing like a cow mid-interview.”

In conclusion: I’m free on Tuesday and I like fancy cocktails.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

If Only I Had a Hope Chest to Bust Open*

Apparently my friends Amy and Joe own china. I have not noticed this because although I eat dinner at their house at least twice a month I am lucky if they so much as provide me with a spork. I am also lucky if I do not physically have to cook the meal myself but I can’t really complain about this since cooking meals for other people and basking in the “you’re such a talented chef!” accolades is what nearly 20% of my self esteem is based on (25% my job, 10% feeling superior to former high school classmates, 15% cute outfits, 20% people commenting on my blog, 10% boys smiling at me on the subway). Despite my paper plate meals I never should have questioned the thoroughness of Amy and Joe’s wedding registry, of course they have china! Married couples are required to own china because it is very likely that once you achieve matrimonial status you will be asked to host a state dinner. Many couples leave the chapel only to find that the president himself will be escorting them from the ceremony to the reception and he demands a nice plate.

I am single and therefore have never experienced the joy of forcing all of my friends to purchase overpriced kitchenware however I am constantly feeding people due not only to ego related needs but also because of an unrestrained mothering gene and the desire to eat really fattening food that I would never be able to justify were I supping alone. Sadly, my dishes are crap. All of my "silver"ware was purchased at a thrift store which I know sounds pretty sketchy but seriously it was $.10/piece and the frugal grandma who lives in my soul just could not resist. My collection of mismatched plates comes to us via Target the bowls are from Ikea and the large majority of my glassware was procured from an establishment in Tijuana Mexico that I will refer to as a market mostly because using a more accurate term may implicate me in a variety of cross border crimes.

Despite my inability to land a man I have still been forced to start referring to myself as an adult. This is unfortunate for a number of reasons (full price movie tickets, expectation that I purchase my own toilet paper, denied access to ball pits) but one of the most trying is that people will soon start expecting me to have things like matching towels and different glasses for red and white wine. Since I see no registry related opportunities on the horizon it seems possible that I may be forced to use up valuable space on my Christmas list for this kind of crap. Somehow I doubt that a 600 thread count sheet set will bring me much comfort when I’m jonesing for a round of Mario Kart. As a society can we establish some sort of “I ain’t getting married soon enough to meet the material qualifications of adult hood” buy out rule? I propose that under this rule everyone who is single at age 30 gets to register as if he or she were getting married and all of their friends and acquaintances have to buy them shit no questions asked. In return singles will forgo gifts should we ever decide to cross over to the world of joint tax returns.

I received $150 in Crate and Barrel gift cards for Christmas and since I don’t foresee my friends and family stepping up with a “Congratz on being single!” gift of plates I should probably use these to outfit my cupboards (and ultimately the top of my coffee table where all guests are forced to eat while sitting on the floor because I don’t really have any place to keep a dinning room table but that’s a whole different set of complaints) with adult-like plates. In an effort to be practical about my dish ware choices I have been trying to convince myself to purchase plain white plates and bowls but I haven’t yet done this because it smack of boredom. Much as I have a hard time purchasing a plain black sweater (New Yorker or not) when a bright pink version is available I feel completely broken by the idea of white plates. If I buy the boringest of dinner ware in the universe can a willingness to wear khakis be far behind? I have even tried to bribe myself with permission to purchase a fun set of salad/dessert plates to go with my boring white dishes but I’m still hesitantly poking around the Crate and Barrel website cursing the overpriced offerings and hoping that a more interesting plain white option might suddenly appear (and, ideally not cost $8000 which seems wholly unlikely given C&Bs inflated sense of self worth).

Here’s a related conundrum: Why do all dish ware sets come with mugs? I have no need for matching mugs. Do married people drink a lot more hot beverages? Is this preparation for the coffee drinking required by being a new parent?

* Does anyone else find the term "Hope Chest" decidedly hopeless? Why not just call it a "Good Luck Miss Ugly Pants Chest"?

Monday, January 28, 2008

If You Don't Know Me by Now

Last week I started rating all of the songs on my iPod. This obsessive behavior was inspired by my friend Joe who has rated all but 150 of his roughly 800,000 iTunes songs. He has also memorized all of his credit card numbers and is, frankly, my hero. Considering my love for organizing things it is surprising that it has taken me 3+ years of iPod ownership to get around to ratings but now that I’m here I cannot express how excited the act of assign stars makes me. Or, more accurately, how happy the idea of having every song successfully categorized and filed away makes me. I can't help but fantasize that this little act combined with the ambitious closet reorganization campaign that I kicked off in October will right all of the wrongs in my life.

It is very difficult for me to give any song a rating of less than 3 out of 5 stars. At the thought of a 2 I end up feeling guilty as if the artist will find out and be irreparably hurt by this affront to their masterpiece and often I just bail out by skipping the song entirely. Conversely, if I love a song it becomes super easy to assign 4 or 5 stars to it and I am pathetically predictable when it comes to certain bands. When I review my top rated tunes it appears that Rhett Miller could record himself farting and burping on a loop for 45 minutes and I’d slap a 4 on it while thinking, “Hmmm maybe this is a 5, I mean that second toot really spoke to me and also someday Rhett might see this list and be so flattered that he’ll have no choice but to sleep with me and probably fall in love and leave his wife which will be a little sad for him but all happy for me.” I am also somewhat concerned by the gender disparity in my elite 4/5 group. Much as I feel a little embarrassed for liking Obama better than Hilary I can’t quite come to terms with consistently loving John Darnielle more than Lucinda Williams. On the plus side, my grandparents can probably put to rest all concerns about my sexuality.

I am tempted to claim that rating all of my music has made me more aware of what I listen to but that would mostly be a lie. I constantly micromanage my shuffle because deep down I am a part of the generation (or likely, generations since I think this applies to everyone who came of age post 1960) that believes that my preference for Rilo Kiley over Wilco is somehow indicative of a greater truth. Despite all my left brained “I heart logic” bravado I am a huge believer in the mix tape school of love. While I get a little geeky jolt upon placing any old stuff into categories and have many times considered projects like alphabetizing my refrigerator contents and color coding my underwear drawer the true, embarrassing, teen angst-y goal of rating all of my music is to put myself into a category and hopefully by doing this somehow communicate who this self is. I am in the "adores tough guys singing about broken love” category, the “finds it endearing when white boys pretend to be all gangsta” category, the “enjoys a good war anthem” category. All of the song categorization is really just preparation for show and tell. I feel a need to quantify which songs I like best so that friends and, most importantly, boys who I have a crush on can take a look at my top rated tunes and make sense of who I am so that, hopefully, I don’t have to explain anything. They can look at my shoe collection too if that’ll help, I find the blue flats with the miss-matched yellow spirals on them to be particularly revealing. It probably seems very twenty first century American of me to hope for my material purchases to add up to who I am (my shrink would have had a field day if I hadn’t dumped her expensive ass when she just didn’t get me and didn’t seem at all interested in forgoing our sessions in favor of a playlist), but in actuality I feel like I have no more accurate place to turn. I like to think I excel at explaining how web applications and cookie dough and reality television should work but I feel almost completely at a loss when it comes to explaining me. There is obviously much irony in the fact that someone with a desire to be known without explanation has devoted years to a writing project all about herself.

Yesterday the same friend who inspired my song categorization and will soon have me doing credit card memory drills in the shower told me that there exists a piece of software which can use the built in web cam on your standard issue Mac Hipster Machine to read the ISBN from your books and categorize them on a virtual shelf. This alone might be reason enough for me to convert to the cult of Apple because I very much want my book collection categorized and searchable. I want to point to one place and say “THIS is what I read and this is what’s important to me so if you care at all about getting in my pants you best BONE UP.” (also please ignore the disproportionate number of Dave Barry books – it was a phase.). Perhaps the most ridiculous aspect of this unconventional approach to communication is that I feel that if only I could get some floppy haired boy to really look at my collection he'd be all but disarmed. It seems obvious that no one could see my “Dad’s Who Really Love Their Daughters” songs or the small menagerie of “Food-centric History" books on my shelf and not fall in love with me.

In my iTunes library there are currently 24 5s out of 142 rated songs out of 2924 files(I have a lot of work ahead of me), for those of you looking to take on the challenge of unraveling this riddle here they are (unsurprisingly, in alphabetical order by artist and then by album).

Everything I Love – Alan Jackson
Someday - Alan Jackson
Evening Gown – Alejandro Escovedo
Rocking the Suburbs – Ben Folds
The Luckiest – Ben Folds
Falling Down Blue - Blue Rodeo
Red Right Ankle – The Decemberists
Chips Ahoy – The Hold Steady
You Can Make Him Like You – The Hold Steady
Texas Trilogy: Bosque County Romance -- Lyle Lovett
Fruits of My Labor – Lucinda Williams
Pink and Blue – The Mountain Goats
Color in Your Cheeks - The Mountain Goats
Have to Explode – The Mountain Goats
Melt Show - The Old 97s
Lonely Holiday – The Old 97s
Salome – The Old 97s
Rollerskate Skinny – The Old 97s
Making Love with You– The Old 97s
Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes – Paul Simon
Under African Skys - Paul Simon
The Deep South – The Promise Ring
If I Could -- Storyhill
The Great Divide - Storyhill

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Whole Wheat S'more Cookies

As I’m sure most of you have noticed I appear to have lost my mojo. I currently am working on 3 blog posts all of which sit open on my computer serving as a collection of anti-ego fodder that I can reread every hour or so to remind myself that I’m lucky to have a real job cause writing ain’t ever gonna pay the bills. The only way to rectify this current state of bloggers slump is a good old fashion cooking post. When easy blogging is needed nothing (sort of mommy blogging) is easier than posting a macro setting enhanced shot of food and calling it a day. I’ve chosen to also take out some insurance in the form of chocolate – how can you people not love my blog when I offer big pornographic images of dark sugary goodness? A nice side benefit to this post is that it serves as a big “I told you so” to all of the haters who called out my cookie making skills.

As a birthday gift my mom signed me up for a year of Bon Appetit and this month’s issue focuses on green cooking including an entire section on baking with whole grains (which, technically I believe is brown cooking). Those of you who grew up in a household where sneaking fiber into your diet was not considered a top priority might not know that baking with whole wheat flour is a great way to make your cookies, cakes and pastries as card board-y as possible. If you like a hearty corrugated snack followed by a good bowl movement then whole grain baking is for you. I, however, was somewhat skeptical of whole grain’s ability to deliver on the bon to my appetite until I came across the recipe for whole wheat s’more cookies.

I’m a huge fan of the s’more and am easily tempted into s’more flavored snack items all of which have always disappointed. S’more poptarts? Cloying. The S’more candy bar? Down right icky. Some might argue that since real s’mores require one to merely stack store bottom items one on top of the other in a (obviously slightly disturbing) Semi-Homemade fashion that seeking out a s’more substitute is the height of laziness. Conversely spending roughly an hour and $20 on recreating this treat might be seen as foolishly complicated. I’m a riddle.

I substituted a half milk half plain yogurt mixture for the buttermilk that the original recipe called for mostly because neither of the 3 markets that I passed on my way home had buttermilk in stock and there was no way in hell I was going to dreaded Key Food for one damn item. As I started stirring ingredients together I realized that, likely due to somewhat unrestrained late night munching, my chocolate chip supply was running dangerously low. I ran across the street to the bodega that saves my life on a daily basis but while they did stock candied walnuts and jumbo sized jars of marshmallow fluff and Jiffy blueberry muffin mix there wasn’t a chocolate chip in sight. I briefly considered substituting a bag of Kissables but ultimately decided that the festive colors would probably be considered an affront to brown baking. I realize that here I am admitting to skimping on chocolate, the exact ingredient that I used as a lure only 2 paragraphs ago but come on, you’re already half done with the post you might as well see this thing out.

Whole Wheat S’More Cookies

(Adapted from Bon Appetit)

3 cups whole wheat flour

1 ½ cups packed dark brown sugar

1 ½ tsp kosher salt

½ tsp baking soda

2 large eggs

¼ cup plain yogurt

¼ cup milk

1 tablespoon dark molasses

1 ½ tsp vanilla extract

½ cup melted butter

1 ½ cups chocolate chips

1 cup mini marshmallows (left out over night so they’re a bit dried out)

¾ cups chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat. Whisk flour, sugar, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. Whisk eggs, yogurt, milk, molasses and vanilla in medium bowl, whisk in butter. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients stirring until dough is evenly moistened. Stir in chocolate chips, marshmallows and nuts.

Drop cookies by the tablespoon onto prepared cookie sheets. Bake cookies until dry to the touch but still soft, about 15 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

I was pretty happy with this recipe though the cookies turned out a bit ugly mostly because many of the marshmallows (especially those on the bottom of the cookies) melted. Surprisingly they didn’t stick to the silpat or the parchment. This was my first silpat baking experience (another gift from mom) and I expected to be blown away but I didn’t notice any difference in final product. The silpat is still a welcome addition to my kitchen since it’s easily reusable and thus doesn’t require me to trek out to the cake supply store for restocking purposes.

The s’more cookie recipe promised that the combination of whole wheat flour and chopped walnuts would somehow magically combine to create an oscar worthy graham cracker performance and I have to admit that as the cookies baked my house did begin to smell distinctly graham-y. However, the taste of the cookies was not particularly reminiscent of dessert around the campfire. Don’t get me wrong, they were solidly in the yummy category and I think you could very easily use them to sneak whole grains into your average white bread loving American child but s’mores they ain’t.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Drinking Vodka with Fame

Yesterday I discovered that it is very difficult to make “I’m going out for vodka” sound like anything other than “I have a serious drinking problem.” However, I assure everyone that if I had a real drinking problem that last sentence would have been followed by a favorable review of cough syrup as an emergency go to cocktail option and possibly some table dancing so I think we’re safe for now. And in my defense this vodka was fancy, and as we all know fancy = totally not a sign that you’re a boozer. This is all to say that inspired by a shared love for homemade beverages my friend Jason and I paid a visit to the Russian Vodka Room last night with a yen for sampling their reportedly very yummy infused vodkas.

The evening started with me going to the wrong Russian themed vodka emporium. It turns out that in an impressive move aimed at confusing tourists and locals alike the Russian Samovar is located directly across the street from the Russian Vodka Room and boasts a much larger sign proclaiming them the super duper kings of all things vodka. I do not actually know who rules the vodka-verse because I eventually figured out (thanks mostly to Jason’s instructions that our destination was located on the north side of the street) that the red awning’s grandiose claims aside, this was not where I was meant to get inebriated at this moment (but surly will be a place of future drinking even though Jason told me they have a mandatory coat check which seems crazy annoying).

Despite my brief foray into location confusion I still arrived at the designated bar well before my friend because in my typical crazy obsessed about time fashion I had left myself a good 20 minute buffer to ensure that I would not be late. It is times like this when my obsessive planning leads to still being on time despite a few bumps in the road that validate my crazy. So I took a seat at the bar and pulled out my book only to be immediately interrupted by the effeminate older man on my right. He had questions about email. About if I liked email better then the phone (“Yes, with email it is much more easily ignore the parts of the conversation that you don’t find interesting.”). About if I was a writer (“Ummm sort of? I write things but ‘writer’ seems to imply that I don’t suck which would be somewhat inaccurate”). About if I thought technology was ruining society (“I work for a software company and I’m just glad to be a part of the end times.”). He was not interested in letting me read my book. Or in ever ending our increasingly more and more boring conversation. Thankfully Jason strolled in at about 7:32 thus saving me from death by inebriated gay man and restoring my faith in other people’s abilities to arrive on time for events, of course he’s also a project manager so I probably shouldn’t use him as a yardstick for your average person.

So anyway, the vodka was great. I sampled the apple pomegranate and the peach apricot both of which were flavorful enough to make one quickly forget that she is drinking straight alcohol sans mixer and that she might want to focus on sipping. The peach apricot seemed to be the real winner as the fruit flavor was much more prominent but it’s possible that this opinion was overly influenced by the fact that I had the peach apricot combo second and thus was already well on my way to easily being able to enjoy booze that comes from a plastic jug. Jason went for the savory vodka experience and ordered the garlic pepper and dill followed by the horseradish. The GPD has the unfortunately aroma of pickle juice which was a bit of a turn off even for a girl who considers a bowl full of baby dills a reasonable dinner option. Smell aside GPD totally delivered in the flavor department -- the garlic taste was mellow with a pepper punch at the end, I can’t say I tasted any dill but I also didn’t miss it. As Jason had made the somewhat dubious decision to come to the vodka room with an empty stomach (As a much more well prepared drinker I choose to preparty with a can of soup) he ordered some home fries with mushrooms which I ate roughly half of because I cannot resist the lure of starch+fat. Despite my inability to stop picking at the plate of food as home fries go these were only so-so. The mushrooms were a nice touch as was the side of sour cream for dipping but these flourishes were overshadowed by the lack of a crispy outer coating on the potatoes themselves.

Mid our first fancy-glassed shot of fermented potato juice Jason alerted me to the presence of a celebrity in our midst. Evil scary Ben/Henry from Lost has just entered the bar! This was wonderful news because I knew it would afford me the opportunity to perpetuate the myth that living in New York City means constantly hobnobbing with the A-list. EB/H sat down at the end of the bar at least 10 feet from Jason and I which allowed us to talk about him at our leisure while maintaining the illusion of totally cool New Yorkers who are so used to hanging out with celebs that we can continue to drink our booze all casual like and openly glare at the tourist who decided to take a photo WITH FLASH of our very famous friend who is just trying to enjoy a quite night of boozing it up in a taxi-friendly city where he will not have to worry about living up to the Lost cast member stereotype of getting pulled over for a DUI.

You can consider this my official recommendation of the Russian Vodka Room. I cannot promise that visiting this joint will give you the opportunity to chill with TV stars if you’re not already a very hip New Yorker like myself but I can promise potent alcohol with just enough flavoring to make getting drunk enough that you *think* you see a few celebrities very easy to accomplish. And, as I always say, if you can’t have the real thing delusion is a handy substitute.

Random aside: while trying to avoid staring at the famous man Jason and I stumbled upon a very important linguistics question: What is the difference between an orchard and a grove? keep in mind that I'm pretty sure it goes "apple orchard" "olive grove" "pear orchard" "citrus grove." Please help, I already looked for answers on ye olde internet and have been let down (see here).

Friday, January 18, 2008

Of Evolution and Patio Furniture

Ok, it’s a bright sunny day, you’re sitting outside on a friend’s porch soaking up the sun and the coronas and the guacamole and the latest celebrity gossip. Said friend is wealthy enough to have purchased or rented an abode with a deck (so if your friend is living in NYC he is probably a millionaire and if this friend is single I think you know who needs a little introduction) but not quite wealthy enough to afford fancy wooden deck furnishings from Crate and Barrel but also classy enough not to have purchased a set of those plastic molded monstrosities and so you’re sitting in one of those metal chairs coated in resin it’s kind of retro and it leaves a nice netting pattern on the back of your thighs (“natural fishnets”). After your friend and I start dating I will make him replace this crappy furniture because when I move in we’ll be saving a lot of money on rent/mortgage and we’ll want to celebrate our love and new found financial solvency with a frivolous purchase but until then you’re forced to uncomfortably squat in this crap, but you probably shouldn’t complain -- it’s not like any of your other friends even have porches. Anyway, as you rest your arms on the pathetically thin “armrests” you notice that the plastic resin is beginning to peel off right where the metal bends to connect armrest to seat. So of course you start picking at the metal, slowly working the resin off until half of the armrest is naked exposing its shiny steel skin. And this is the most awesome fun you have had in ages. I mean sure, your friend’s already ugly chair is looking crappier by the second and sure it’s just going to get worse the next time it rains and the steel starts to rust and sure this might lead to your friend never inviting you over for sweet porch action ever again and sure that might mean that you never introduce your friend (I’ve started calling him Elliot in my head, I like that name) and I and it’s possible that because of this I will also disown you and you’ll have to spend future summers sad and alone in your crappy little apartment but none of this matters. Why? Because picking at things is wonderful and there is no way you can stop. Obviously evolution has selected for the picking at things gene because everyone I know (and let’s be honest, everyone on the planet) does this, it’s impossible to resist the siren song so really your friend should be a lot more understanding (especially since as I noted above if he would just chill out he has some nice replacement patio furnishings in his future).

The issue I have here is WHY? Why is peeling paint or labels or plastic resin off of things so damned fulfilling? I’ve struggled to come out with any clear evolutionary reason for this to be such a rewarding hobby. As a good little science fetishist and someone who would really like the world to be controlled and predictable I try to deduce the reasoning behind pretty much everything. And I am usually able to come up with something believable enough to calm my mind and prevent me from regaling the internet public with a long diatribe on the subject but not so today (clearly). Here’s all I could come up with on the picking topic while lying in bed last night obsessing instead of sleeping (or at least focusing on a sleep inspiring activity). My food foraging foremother was constantly in search of tasty morsels in the form of roots, berries and the like and a bit of over turned ground or a out of place leaf often indicated good eats to be had. After a few generations of being rewarded for this picking at the world the “picking gene" was selected over other genes and today remains in our DNA. Seems reasonable, right? Next time you pick at something ask yourself if you feel hungry and get back to me.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Please Do Not Take This As An Opportunity To Give Me a Nickname

I have never been a huge fan of the current president not only because we disagree on pretty much every political issue but also because we don't really have much in common. He likes clearing brush. I like getting my nails done. He likes baseball. I like Super Mario Tennis. He likes invading countries. I like abortions. I know that he's supposed to seem like an awesome bro to meet up with for a beer but I don't really like bros OR beer. I'm more of a saketini with a twist of preserved myer lemon and a rim of green tea power and a ridiculously large price tag at a chichi restaurant kind of girl. Or, more frequently, a bourbon straight while sitting in front of my computer in my pjs obsessively checking my blog stats kind of girl (Which is something else that I imagine the Dub-man doesn't do a lot of but it would be kind of awesome to think that he's sitting around staring at Google analytics for all "fucking Tony Blair, *I see you* I know you say you're over me but then why are you logging onto my site 40 times a day hmmmmm? BUSTED.").

But there is at least one thing that G-Dub and I have in common -- we both love nicknames. I even have to give him some props for mad nicknaming skillz. Especially in the cases of "La Margarita - Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings", "Congressman Kickass - John Sweeney, Republican Congressman, New York" and especially, "Big Time - Dick Cheney, Vice President of the United States of America." The nicknaming may cheapen the importance of government and the office of the POTUS but damned if it ain’t entertaining. In a few cased George even has 2 nicknames for some people, a positive and a negative which is, frankly, brilliantly efficient. This means that he can communicate how he feels about the person simply by addressing them! You know what? Maybe I *DO* want to get a beer with Dubarific!

One key difference between Georgie's use of pseudonyms and my own is that he calls people by their nicknames to their face where as I use them exclusively in a "taking about you, not to you" fashion. This facilitates the air of drama that I like to enshroud my nickname habit in -- these are really more than nicknames, they’re disguises, alter egos, secret identities! This means that exchanging instant messages with me reads something a wittier secret agent dispatch which is exactly the kind of spicing up your life one needs when it gets dark at 5pm and there’s a writers strike. I am performing a public service. Below are some actual nicknames that I have given to people I know. And by people I pretty much always mean "guys that I or one of my friends totally wanted to jump the bones of."

The Communist
Bad Idea Jeans
The Mrs. Robinson Project
Fast Moving Train (used for a boy who a friend liked but and who we thought was a bit too hands-y for her virtuousness but it turned out he was super lame and didn't even try for a base hit)

Awesome, right? . I think it’s clear that while I have many skills I only have one art and that is the creation and assignment of monikers. I have to say that I am super proud of these. Even prouder than I am of the incredibly cute outfit I put together yesterday. Even prouder I am of the amazing pasta dish I made on New Years day. Even prouder than I am of my expertly crafted subway route. If I ever have a child he or she is going to have to do some awesome coloring if they ever hope to compete.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

In Case You're Wondering I Still Don't Own a Wii

Dear Nintendo,

Hi, How’s it going? I’m taking time to write to you today because I am a huge fan of your work, especially the work that involves a certain impish little plumber and also pretty much everything else. I have plenty of time to devote to writing this little piece of fandom because it’s not like I have any video games to play at home since apparently you have to be some sort of Svengali to acquire your latest technology despite the fact that “latest” in this context means “released over a year ago.” I realize that you may have initially chosen to under-manufacture your product in an effort to drive up demand and I respect your attempts to fiddle with the cogs of capitalism in this way but I am now wondering if the “increased demand leads to increased supply” principal has made if over the Pacific to Japan. It is time to solve this problem because seriously every time I so much as start talking about it with someone I get so angry that I consider punching things and normally when I need to do some punching I turn to video games but obviously that is not an option.

When the main routes to obtaining your product involve a sleeping bag and intimate contact between NYC sidewalks and my head or winning some sort of ill conceived radio contest which may or may not result in the death of most of your customer base I think it is clear that you have a project management problem. Luckily, I can help. You see I am naturally suited to organizing things and nagging people and, in emergency situations, bribery. Below I’ve detailed how things would go if you hired me to manage manufacturing and distribution of the Wii. You’ll notice that this plan ends with you making money which, I am assuming is a goal for your company. You may not be aware of this but typically you make more money if you sell your product to people as opposed to your current system which seems to consist of me waving money in your direction and you turning your nose up like you smelled a particularly bad fart.

  1. You give me a Wii and set of all available games, controllers and do-dads so that I can be properly informed about the product that I now manage. I will probably need roughly a month of uninterrupted product research to complete this initial stage in my master plan.
  2. You start making more Wiis. Way more then the estimated 13 daily that you now produce apparently by a team of highly trained snow leopards who build them by hand (paw?). Choosing an endangered species to construct your console, while certainly an innovative way too maintain product secrets, was probably your biggest business blunder. I would institute an assembly line based factory where humans operate huge machines capable of producing at least 300 units a day (probably more).
  3. You ship the Wiis to stores. Specifically stores that intend to sell the product to consumers. I would recommend stores that sell other electronics and gaming products. Stocking Wiis at funeral parlors and grocery stores would be a lower priority but ultimately a long term goal.
  4. Build pool, fill with gold coins, get naked, go swimming.

I hate to toot my own horn but I have to say that this is a rather brilliant plan and that my services are an awesome deal since I will consider being paid in games and sushi (both of which I’m pretty sure you already have lying around but if, by chance, there is some sort of games and/or sushi availability problem I think I’m up to the task of solving that one for you as well). Anyway, let me know soon if you’re interested or if you’d rather just continue disappointing fans until everyone ditches you for Playstation even though their product is both more expensive and more sucky.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Airing it Out

On the years when I am good Santa (cleverly disguised as my mother) brings me new underwear. If, like this past year, I’m super good and Santa is able to make the four hour journey to the mall I get a box filled with new extreme low rise panties from Victoria’s Secret because these are the only underwear on the planet that are cute and fun and comfy and do not stick out over the top of my pants most of which sit casually on my hips because the world does not make pants that fit both my hips and my waist at the same time. When I opened this gift a couple of weeks ago I pulled out a bevy of boyshorts in blue and pink and gray and one pair in red tartan with “take my photo” scrawled in cursive across the butt. Always a fan of ass graffiti I was thrilled that Mama Clause had finally seen the message baring potential of my rear end. Sadly when I offered kudos for this huge fashion leap she demurred, claiming that Papa Clause had rushed her out of the store and had she seen that “ridiculous” message there is no way she’d have ever purchased the underwear. I think it’s sad that mom has yet to embrace her inner J-Lo.

The cruel trick of owning cute underwear is that unlike the smart gray sweater I also got for Christmas or the sexy gold shoes I bought in September or the awesome “Math: Get Sum!” button that my friend Joe gave me last spring I rarely get to show it off due to a distinct lack of pantsless opportunities in my life. This is especially disappointing when the panties in question use my behind as a billboard. A billboard with no one to read it is a sad and lonely piece of marketing. But luckily, on Saturday my personal mobile messaging system was given an opportunity to communicate with the outside world thanks to Improv Everywhere’s No Pants 2K8.

No Pants Day has been taking place on the New York City subway every January for the past 7 years but this was my ass’s first time to get out and mingle. Not content to mingle alone we roped Kajal and the pooper (aka her fetus who is so far having a no pants life) into attending with us. 900 other people (most of whom you’ll be shocked to hear were far far geekier than Kajal and I) joined us so in addition to our cute boyshorts the subway was packed full of boxers, bikinis and tighty whities.

The plan was for us to break into groups of 25 or so and spread out over the train cars. Once we boarded the subway people would begin taking off their pants in even smaller groups (starting with one guy at the first stop), get off the subway and wait for the next train. My nerves kicked in as soon as the doors closed on the stop before we were set to bare our asses especially since Kajal and I were the first girls in our car to stand and drop trow. No Pants day was a bit of a sausage fest and Kajal and I had speculated while waiting to board the train that this was because boxers were much less revealing than women’s panties but as I sat on the subway with a depantsed man standing in front of me I quickly realized that going pantsless with penis was much more dangerous than standing around in my underwear. I am thankful to not have to worry about any of my bits falling out. I couldn’t chicken out now so off the pants came and frankly, once you get them off, the rest is easy.

As Kajal and I waited on the platform for the next train she pulled out her lotion and began applying it to her eczema. I cannot articulate how hot it is to see a pantsless pregnant lady applying cream to her dry skin. I had to fight the men off in order to preserve her marriage. The pooper and his daddy better thank me for keeping their family intact.

A couple of observations on the state of underwear in America:

  1. There were a number of girls trying to rock boxers which was obviously some serious cheating and also not anywhere near as cute as my boyshorts and knee highs combo. Knee highs were surprisingly popular for the women in attendance -- one assumes that, like me, the other girls still like to save their ankles for their husband’s eyes only. Who says we live in an amoral society?
  2. If the boxer clad men I spied are any indication of status quo then the boys I date have super good taste in underwear. Today I saw way too many cartoon character themed pairs of boxers. SpongeBob on your junk or Oscar the Grouch on your ass is not hot. I also saw an entire group of boys who had chosen to pull their boxers up into an impromptu thong-like contraption that frankly may have burnt my eyes out of my skull.

It is somewhat shocking how boring sitting on the subway in your underwear can be, especially when there is little to no reaction to your half naked booty. I know New Yorkers are jaded and nonplused but I think I witnessed a new plane of blasé. After 2 stops of pantless mass transit a father and his 10 year old son boarded the train which caused me to internally start freaking out about the possibility that the father might be seriously upset that his child was seeing me in all my naked thighed glory. I need not have worried. The ten year old didn’t even comment on the almost nudity around him! I assure you that if, at 10, I had so much as glimpsed panties in public I would still be talking about it today. But I grew up in the backwoods where people still pretend clothing is not in any way removable.

Our sojourn took us via the 6 train from City Hall up to 96th street and back down to Union Square. We were instructed to pretend that we didn’t know any of the other pantsless freaks and if approached make crazy claims like, “Yeah, I forgot my pants, it’s a little cold” but short of a few catcalls no one talked to me(except for Kajal who I can’t just sit next to and not chat with, be realistic.). I believe there was some no pants after partying in Union Square but by then Kajal was both starving (having not eaten in over 20 minutes which I believe is the longest she can go without throwing sustenance at the parasite) and suffering from the effects of having a fetus kick her bladder for 2 hours. So we had our own post party at Veselka where the other patrons (whether they knew it or not) were disappointed that the two girl at the back table chose to wear pants to dinner.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

My Peeps

According to Feedburner I have 68 subscribers to this ode to triviality. Based on my Stat Counter numbers I figure I also have about 25-30 readers who have yet to discover the joy of RSS and are still reading via bookmarks or links from other blogs (these readers will hence forth be known as “my mom and her friends”) which makes for roughly 100 readers total. Which makes me super famous (and also makes me consider some Google ads but then I remember that I am better off waiting for the big payoff so if you’re in the advertising industry and want to offer me tons of money to put a picture of say ice cream or bras or the next crappy reality tv show star over on that sidebar might I just direct you to the “email me” link?). But I have to ask – who are you people?

I can officially account for ~30 people that fit into the “guilted into reading my blog” category – this includes most of my close friends, the few family members who have discovered the inter tubes, and the people who sit closest to me at the office. Also known as people who have to read this blog if they want to retain the awesome membership benefits of the “Friends with Brianna” club. Specifically the freshly baked cookies and the in depth powwows about if when a boy says he likes cookies it means he specifically likes the cookies I made or that he just has a sweet tooth OR that he hates cookies but likes me well enough to pretend he likes cookies (best case scenario) OR if he feels obligated to claim a love for cookies simply because I had no pants on when I offered him cookies. And most importantly does this mean that he wants to kiss more? Because I love the kissing even more than cookies. No one wants to miss out on that kind of fun.

I’m guessing there are at least 2 or 3 old high school peers who found this site via MySpace or Facebook and choose to stalk me in the hopes that I will continue to reveal juicy morsels of gossip about my life which they can then pass around town and possibly use to embarrass me should I ever deign to attend a high school reunion (not likely). I generally support this action because on the few occasions when my own personal social network stalking has yielding promising fruit in the form of embarrassing confessions from girls who used to make fun of my hair in 7th grade I have wasted no time calling the 2 people from grade school whom I still speak with to discuss exactly how much more awesome we are than people who made fun of us in junior high (answer: fucking a lot more awesome, thanks). And so, I offer up this tidbit of gossip to the category of “fair is fair” – Even though I probably seem super amazing to the point of verging on perfect when viewed via this blog alone the truth is that my hair still looks like a sheep decided to take a nap on my forehead roughly 65% of the time. But like a smart little self marketing machine I choose not to include pictures of the head flock on the internet.

There are likely at least 5 guys in my readership who I went out on dates with sometime in the last year and who added the blog to their RSS reader in an attempt to get in my pants (good move, this usually works.). But who then either decided my pants looked better on me then on their floor (foolish) or who dropped some deal breaker about a total devotion to astrology or George W or a former girlfriend. And so things didn’t work out but I was kept on the blogroll because my thrice weekly whining will be all the evidence needed to show that they are better off without me. To these boys I say, “Yeah but sometimes I post pictures featuring my boobs and then who’s better off – hmmmm?????” And for every one of these guys who I actually dated I imagine that there is at least one dude who found me on a dating site, started reading the blog and decided that there was no way in hell he was ever asking me out but who keeps the subscription going for the boobies. Hi boys, have I mentioned that I bake cookies A LOT?

And then there are the people who found my blog via your standard Google search and after seeing just how relevant my writing is to their life decided to stick around. Some of the newest members of this group probably include the following:

1. “pictures of my brouther when he was 12 years olf in side if my room

hit # 28 -- I imagine this is mostly due to my matching typo for the word “old” so once again my complete inability to type and/or spell has brought people together. This is truly a gift from god.

2. “I am a woman that always ends up with a crusty substance in my pan

I'm on page 8 and I can't find any links to here but I think we all know that there was a “ties” on the end of this that was cut off by some draconian search term limit (And I say thank god for such fascist rules). I also say to this new reader, "You should probably get that checked out by a doctor because while this blog offers a lot of important services to my readers I am quite happy to say that we offer nothing in the crusty substance category.”

So that’s…. 45 people accounted for and 55 government spies – your tax dollars at work.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

While You're at it Remember to Mention how Hot I am

I turned 30 years old on Saturday. I have decided to write about this not only because my mind is completely devoid of creative writing ideas but also because I hope to drive up the number of comments this post receives by guilting everyone into wishing me Happy Birthday and telling me how crazy young I look (see evidence at left). I suppose one could argue that along with wrinkles and gray hairs and an affinity for mom jeans and (apparently) a complete inability to write anything even remotely humorous turning 30 should give me the gift of maturity in the form of no longer needing to validate my life via brief commentary from people I do not actually know but I think we all know that would be ridiculous.

I celebrated my birthday in a number of ways. I honored the most delicious of the 5 food groups by supping at a restaurant entirely devoted to cheese. I was assured by the Republican presidential candidates that health care in America is totally rocking and most of the uninsured people are richies who simply do not want to waste their money on insurance which made me super happy because very soon I will probably start suffering from old age related maladies (and I also noticed that McCain was very giggly having apparently spent Saturday afternoon celebrating my birth by downing 14 pre-debate gin and tonics thus cementing his place as my favorite candidate who I will not vote for because he has aligned himself with evil (and believe me there is A LOT of competition for that title)). I put on more make up then is really appropriate if you’re not starring in Cats or trying to hide a birth defect. And then I watched some girls take their clothing off.

Inviting everyone out to a burlesque show on your birthday is the best way to thank people for a year of friendship. Especially the guy friends. It is also a good way to bid your own perky boobs ado (or, hopefully, inspire them to stand proud for as long as possible). As a bonus they also serve booze at the burlesque show which everyone knows is a requirement for ringing in middle age.

The best birthday gift that the universe gave to me was the scene I witnessed while in line for the bathroom. The line was located in the basement of the bar and was roughly 72 miles long. After I spent 10 minutes focusing on anything other than the possibility that I might pee in my pants and that I was not young or old enough to justify needing a clothing change a blonde lady walked past the queue of patient would be pee-ers and up to the bathroom door while drunk people yelled at her about the concept of lines and how they work. She reached the door right as it swung open and as she propelled herself over the threshold she turned to the line and said, “I really have to pee, is it ok if I just go first?” And then, without waiting for a response shut the door. This caused quite an uproar amongst the full bladder party and when she exited the bathroom (in her defense she did her business surprisingly fast) the entire line BOOED her. This was the most awesome New York City moment EVER.

The boobie show was also pretty sweet, it was hosted by Jesus – which I thought was a little cruel, making the son spend a whole evening introducing examples of his dad’s finest work -- and the girls brought out not only naked breasts but some pretty rocking hula hoop and tassel twirling skills and one wore some glittery red lipstick that I may have to come up with an excuse to purchase (“it makes me feel young”). It occurred to me that burlesque shows are likely even better than regular strip shows since they offer the bonus hotness of girl on girl action like me slipping ones into sparkly panties, my guests really should have been more thankful.

Regrets? I have a few. There was no ice cream eaten on my birthday – this bothers me so much that I devoted at least 30 minutes of Sunday to the question of if I could extend the healthy eating amnesty period one day in order to reconcile this unfortunate oversight. I probably should have shown more cleavage. I probably should feel more comfortable defining myself as an “adult.” Also, I’m pretty sure I was supposed to have purchased a house by now.

Monday, January 07, 2008


I just half assed my way through my second monthly post over at The 'Stache. The rest of the writers on this board get roughly 7 million comments per post and it would really help my fragile ego if you could go over there and make it look like I have readers.

Friday, January 04, 2008

This Worries Me

How it Should Have Gone Down

ABC Reporter: So there you have it Joe, Obama has taken the lead in this impor--

ABC News Anchor (Joe): Bob, sorry to cut in here but we have some important news developments coming out of our LA affiliate, we’re going live to CeCe Hernandez who is on the scene

CeCe: Jose I am reporting from outside of Britney Spears’ mega huge house of fun and there is a flurry of activity here. It appears the Miss Spears has finally lost it. We hear that she has locked herself in the bathroom with her children and may or may not be spreading strawberry frosting on the floor to serve as a force field against the multitudes of police and firemen currently breaking down the door. This reporter thinks that the chica may be loco in the cabeza. Back to you Joe.

Joe: Thank you CeCe. This is ABC news, always bringing you the important stories of the day, now a message from our sponsor, Sandwiches Bigger Than Your Head.

What Actually Happened

ABC Dude: blah blah Iowa blah blah Obama blah blah you can totally use caucus as any form of speech the caucus caucused caucus caucusly.




16 HOURS pass




Brianna: WTF? Britbrit went crazy and I MISSED IT?!?! Why kind of media are we fostering here? I mean I care about the presidential race as much as the next girl but DUDES you have got to prioritize.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

This Reporter Smells Something Fishy and it's Not Just the Anchovies.

I know that my normal writing is less hard hitting ground breaking journalism and more wry commentary on tragedies that befall me spiced up with food porn but today that changes. Today, right here, I will be breaking one of the biggest New York food related stories (and possibly the single biggest New York food story to not involve vermin). You’ll probably want to set your Mai Tai down and get out a pipe and smoking jacket so you at least look the part of a true news reader rather than a slobby blog reader.

Three years living in New York City have made me extremely judgmental of slow walkers. I have also developed the hilarious habit of forgetting that public transportation is a myth in all other cities and that it is totally appropriate to drive across the street because seriously no one outside of New York even knows how to walk. But I have not yet become a pizza snob so when in Las Vegas last Saturday my family invited me out for pizza I happily agreed. After all I love anything smothered in cheese and Dad was paying. Here’s a free cooking tip: the best way to improve a dish is to make it free.

When mom told me that we were going to a place called “Grimaldi’s” a little bell went off in my head., “… that sounds familiar.” In the car on the way to dinner I spent at least 10 minutes on thoughts like, “Is that the name of a baseball player?” “Did I ever date a boy named Grimaldi?” “Does having this mental conversation at 29 years old constitute early onset Alzheimer’s?” until I shouted out, “Hey! The famous pizza place near work is named Grimaldi’s! Mom, we went there.” And then my mom started in on, “Oh, I bet this is the same place, it’s probably a chain.” But OF COURSE she is wrong because I am an incredibly cool foodie and I do not eat at chains. And seriously the supposed best pizza place in New York is not a chain. GEEEEEEEEEEZ MOM.

Um. Actually. Fuck. I hate it when my mom is right.

The Grimaldi’s of the west (with locations in Vegas, Dallas and all over Arizona but notably, NOT in New York) is New York themed. The walls covered with subway signs and pictures of the city with a heavy and disturbing focus on the Brooklyn Bridge. The waitress flair involved a lot of (relatively big) apples. It screamed “chain!” I was certain (despite my mother’s pleas to the contrary) that this overly clean, match-y, boring restaurant was of no relation to the tightly packed, demure pizza joint of Dumbo fame. But then I read the “history” section of their menu which starts with “The pizza that made the Brooklyn Bridge famous.” Curious…

Patsy Grimaldi learned the trade from his Uncle Patsy Lancieri, who trained with the man credited with opening the first pizzeria in America in 1905. Lancieri opened Patsy’s Pizzeria in East Harlem in 1931, where Grimaldi started learning the art of coal brick oven pizza at the tender age of 10.

And curiouser.

The menu at Grimaldi’s:The New Dough (see here) is also strangely similar to the NYC joint with the exception that it is sponsored by no less than 4 brand name products (China Mist Tea, Lavazza Coffee, Carmelina Brands (exclusive Grimaldi’s supplier of tomatoes) and Hormel Foods (not exactly sure what they’re bringing to the party since Spam does not appear to be on the menu…)). You order plain pizzas and pay extra for toppings, the toppings options are pretty much the same though I think the west coast might have more variety (Does Dumbo’s Grimaldi’s offer anchovies or ham?). West Coast Gs also offers an Oreo cheesecake which I cannot imagine would be sanctioned in NYC.

The pizza itself was good – I suspect surprisingly good for a pizza served in Las Vegas. I also suspect that someone more New York-y than myself could tell you about 8000 things that were wrong with it but rather than focus on the negative I decided to continue my main December focus of eating a lot of food. I had 4 slices. The crust was thin, the layer of cheese not too thick, the sun dried tomatoes flavorful, I really can’t complain.

It was fast becoming clear that someone in the Grimaldi’s family was raking in some sweet licensing cash. And part of me thinks, “good for you guys!” But the more cynical part who sometimes also considers bands less cool if they, you know, sell any records is certain this is a sign that Grimaldi’s has sold out and will soon start sucking. I think the natural flow in situations like this is, “good restaurant -> open chain -> start serving frozen tater tots -> vermin infestation -> closure” So you know, consider this a warning.

The biggest difference (outside of décor) between Grimaldi’s NYC and Grimaldi’s:The Cash Cow is the friendliness of the wait staff. For those of you who have never been to Grimaldi’s NYC might I just say that customer service has been sacrificed in favor of creating a stereotypical New York experience in the form of having waiters yell at you. It’s a bold choice. In Vegas the have gone with the more traditional “waitress is nice because she works for tips and recognizing that kissing your ass is the fastest path to money.” Another notable difference is that in Dumbo I have never seen a pizza dropped on the floor but in Vegas I saw this happen no less than 3 times in 45 minutes. Leave it to Vegas to work in dinner entertainment.

I just took a gander at the Dumbo Grimaldi’s website and the (much snazzier though still rather crappy) Southwestern Grimaldi’s Pizza Chain website and my suspicions that these entities are related has been confirmed. In fact the NYC Grimaldi’s site links to the knock off site. And Wikipedia also notes the relationship. You may not have cared about this news but you can’t deny that I broke this story. Or at least that I wrote the longest diatribe about it. I’ll watch for my press pass in the mail.

Third Party Resources

Do you know where to find the best New York pizza around? Even if you suddenly find out that the Las Vegas pizza you love is related to your New York pizza place by a chain restaurant, you can still check out the yellow pages for some worthwhile pizza joints.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Visiting my parents turns me into a bit of house wife. They have a huge kitchen full of irresistible contraptions all calling me to play with them. In the summer they have a garden full of the kind of produce that I can only dream about in the city. In the winter they have a freezer and pantry full of preserved ingredients (seriously, mom cans or freezes everything -- if the apocalypse comes there will be no better fed family of refugees). And year round they have empty tummies that I'm eager to fill. Holidays also provide a perfect opportunity for making food that I would not normally feel able to justify -- OF COURSE we should spend $40 on crab legs, IT'S CHRISTMAS! ABSOLUTELY I should make 5 desserts -- WE NEED TO BUILD UP OUR ENERGY FOR PRESENT OPENING. This year's vacation menu affords me not only an extra 5lbs (the Christmas miracle of the year is that I somehow still fit into my clothing) but also an easy blog post, it is the season of blessings.


For Christmas Eve dinner I made this fish stew for the second year in a row and like the first act the encore was a hit. I used this epicurious recipe which knows enough not to mess too much with a pot full of amazing ingredients, if you (or, you know, your dad...) feel like splurging on insane amounts of seafood this should impress the guests.

Chicken and Dumplings

I served this Smitten Kitchen recipe on Christmas evening (go check out her pictures, they make mine look like slop) and because I am incredibly lazy I didn't bother with the whole removing the chicken from the bone step which grossed out my sister-in-law to be but didn't seem to adversely effect the dish itself. This was the perfect comfort food and I found myself wishing for a blizzard while eating it. (Who am I kidding? I'm pretty much wishing for a blizzard every waking moment from November through March).

Pasta With Brussel Sprouts and Peas

This recipe is a Brianna original and my current favorite fast and easy winter dinner plan. If I may be so bold as to call myself a chef then I can also call this dish a lighter riff on the classic pasta carbonara. It starts with sauteing some cured pig (when I'm feeling fancy I use pancetta but at mom and dad's only bacon was available.) and garlic and mushrooms then add roasted brussel sprouts, peas and parmesan cheese. The recipe is a very forgiving refrigerator cleaner and I've replaced the peas with spinach and done without the mushrooms on many occasions never with any ill efects.

Fisherman's Pie

Last summer my parents shipped me 26 pounds of halibut from Alaska and since I am one person with one average sized freezer I was forced to share the bounty with friends. Because I am incredibly lucky my friends Alia and Owen shared the bounty back at me by inviting me over for dinner when they cooked their halibut ration. Owen got this recipe from his mother and I have dubbed it Fisherman's Pie since it's basically Shepard's Pie with fish instead of lamb and a cream sauce instead of a tomato base. I made this one evening when my parents had invited friends over and while there were many raised eyebrows upon hearing that I would be serving "Fish Pie" when we finally sat down to dinner there was a tableful of surprisingly happy tongues and many seconds served.

Eggnog Ice Cream

This was an ode to my love of the Starbucks Eggnog Latte which was as good an excuse as I needed to play with mom's ice cream maker. This is another epicurious recipe (I am their biggest fan and advertiser, they should pay me.) and while I was (obviously) tempted to up the rum portion I resisted out of fear that adding alcohol could adversely affect the freezing process which could lead to me being forced to eat a bowl of boozey liquid ice cream mix and while this sounds like the perfect way to celebrate the season I didn't think my parents would appreciate the image of me covered in custard and passed out on their kitchen floor. They have no idea how much I sacrifice for them. I am like the best daughter ever.