Sunday, April 26, 2009

My Weekend, through movies.

This weekend I was working on a sewing project that I have long procrastinated finishing because I made a mistake and would have to attack the piece with a seam ripper, a lot. I am the kind of person that likes to have movies on when I am doing things, but unfortunately, due to poor planning, I had no netflix at home for the weekend. So, what did I watch when I was ripping out my misplaced seam? Why, the last forty minutes of Encino Man and Short Circuit, of course.

Before you judge me (TOO LATE) I should probably tell you that I watched Encino Man because I have a secret [shh] celebrity crush on Brendan Fraser and hadn't seen it since it was in theaters originally. (And for all of you Portland dwellers, I watched it at the old Tanasbourne Mall theater, long before Evergreen Parkway moved in.)

And Short Circuit, come on, it was on on-demand, and who doesn't love Steve Guttenberg and Johnny 5 Alive!!! I have to say though, Ally Sheedy was beyond horrible in Short Circuit. After 90 minutes of robot flavored bliss, the credits helped me relive the joy of the film by rehashing several of the scenes when Johnny 5 was oh-so-charming and anthropomorphic,and I regretted not bidding on that ebay auction a few years ago where they sold Johnny 5. Then, I started thinking that I was glad that the sequel to Short Circuit (Short Circuit 2, 1988) came out before Hollywood started naming sequels to be punny and ridiculous, lest we have a movie called Shorter Circuit. (Fact: when I saw the trailer for Fast and Furious, I was genuinely confused. I thought, "didn't this movie already happen, and have two sequels with horrible titles?" Yes.)

Even though there is no shortage of Short Circuit related videos on youtube, I thought I'd share the Kids Inc cover of the Short Circuit theme song, originally by Debarge, "Who's Johnny" because why wouldn't I mention Kids Incorporated in a blog post about Short Circuit and Encino Man?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Ancient Chinese Secret, huh?

I recently started seeing a new acupuncturist, and I am loving her. She did cupping on my back, leaving me with, for lack of a better term, perfectly round hickeys. It was a new and totally cool experience, I'd absolutely recommend both acupuncture and cupping to anyone on the planet. But here's why I bring this up. A few days after my first cupping experience, my brother saw the hickeys on my back, and I told him about them. Then, like the big brother he is, he said, "do they hurt like a bruise?" as he poked me hard. (No, they don't hurt.) I just thought it was awesome that even in our late twenties, we still have that dynamic of big brother/little sister at times. And I kind of hope it never goes away.

What I heard today.

Hudson (age 4, about a cartoon character on a PBS show -- probably because he plays Gauntlet with his father): He's being naughty. He's really grouchy. I should kill him.
Sydney (age 2): No Hudson, if you're naughty, abuelita will take you to Guatemala.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Lajos Egri

I can't remember which class it was that we used Lajos Egri's "The Art of Dramatic Writing" as a text - a screenwriting or playwriting class, of course - but let me say, it is one of the top three books on writing out there and I have read nearly all of them. I couldn't find the copy I had in college, so I started a hunt, and I say hunt because it took several trips and phone calls to Powell's in order to get my hands on a copy again. I am so glad I did. I re-read it, (and yes, for those keeping tabs, I finished a few of the other books I blogged about,) and it has inspired me in all sorts of ways.

The foreword of the book I think is applicable to all of humanity, so I'm going to suggest you go here and read it. (It is two and a half pages of totally breezy reading.) But, here is an excerpt:

"Yes, we all crave attention. We want to be important, immortal. We want to do things that will make other people exclaim, "Isn't he wonderful?"
"If we can't create something useful or beautiful...we shall certainly create something else: trouble, for instance.
"Just think of your aunt Helen, the family gossip. (We all have one.) She causes hard feelings, suspicion, and subsequent arguments. Why does she do it? She wants to be important, of course, and if she can achieve this only by means of gossip or lying, she will not, for one moment, hesitate to gossip or lie.
"The urge to be outstanding is a fundamental necessity in our lives. All of us, at all times, crave attention. Self-consciousness, even reclusiveness, springs from the desire to be important. If failure arouses compassion or pity, then failure might become an end in itself.
"Without exception everyone was born with creative ability. It is essential that people be given the opportunity to express themselves. If Balzac, De Maupassant, O. Henry, hadn't learned to write, they might have become inveterate liars, instead of great writers.
"Every human being needs an outlet for his inborn creative talent. If you feel you would like to write, then write. Perhaps you are afraid...forget it...
"Even if you will never be a genius, your enjoyment of life can still be great...
"Yes, we want to be noticed. We want to be remembered. We want to be important! We can achieve a degree of importance by expressing ourselves in the medium which best suits our particular talents. You never know where your avocation will lead you.
"Even if you fail commercially, you might very well emerge from your experience an authority on the subject you learned so much about. You'll be richer in experience - and if you have been kept out of mischief, that alone will be a great accomplishment.
"So the gnawing hunger to be important will be satisfied at last without harm to anyone."

Go and do, I know I will.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Gossip Girl

I do not love this show. But, I do love this! Who knew recaps of a show could be much more entertaining than the actual show? I found it a few days ago, and I've been reading the past recaps ever since. In fact, I have to tear myself away from the giggles to go get ready for Lola's tonight.

Have a good night, friends!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Lemon Blueberry Tart

I've previously mentioned that I had an over abundance of citrus around my house, so I made my first lemon and lime curds. I followed Ina Garten's recipe for lemon curd, which I have to say, didn't really work for me. I have loved all of the other Barefoot Contessa recipes I've made, but this was too bitter, and here's why. She calls for the zest of 3 lemons taken off with a carrot peeler, being careful to avoid the white pith. I was really careful, but it still came out bitter, so after putting it through a sieve to remove all of the zest - which was a lot of zest because my lemons were big - it worked out beautifully. So for the lime curd, I used my microplane and only put 1 tablespoon in, and that was perfect from the get go. Overall, I decided curds are much easier than I thought to make, and that it is much cheaper than buying a jar at the store.

So what to do with a quart of lemon curd? Make a tart for Sunday dinner!

1 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt
1 stick unsalted butter - straight from the fridge, cut in small cubes
6-8 tablespoons ice water

Prepare it like you would any other pastry/pie shell. Refrigerate for about half an hour before rolling it out and putting it in a tart pan (I used a 9 inch square, but anything about that size will work) Then poke holes with a fork in the crust, add parchment paper and weights, and blind bake the crust at 350 for about 25 minutes. While that is baking and cooling, let's talk about the filling.

You have many options, here are a couple:
I combined 1 cup of sour cream with 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk and a teaspoon of vanilla paste (you can obviously use good vanilla extract, but I love vanilla paste), and put that as a first layer on the cooled crust.

I had some blueberries that were really tart, so in order to use those, I made a compote. But if you have delicious blueberries at your disposal, you could just put those on top of the sour cream mixture. To make the compote, I put in a quart of blueberries, probably 3 tablespoons of water, 1/4 cup of sugar, and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. I put it over medium heat for about 10 minutes, but you'll know when it's ready. (You could put half of the blueberries in at the beginning and reserve the other half for after the heat, but my blueberries were too tart for this.)

After it cooled for about five minutes, I put the compote on top of the sour cream, then put that in the fridge for a while. Since I already had the lemon curd made, I just threw it on top right after the compote had set up a little bit. And voila, a great way to use lemon curd.

I am sorry I didn't take a picture of it, but I forgot. End of story.

Seth Rogen

Clearly, America loves Seth Rogen. I really liked him on Freaks and Geeks and Undeclared, and have totally enjoyed seeing his star being on the rise. I just wanted to share these two things so that I don't forget how funny I thought they were.

1. March's Vanity Fair featured Seth and the rest of his gang, did you see the spoof on the Tom Ford Hollywood Issue cover from a few years ago? HILARIOUS! As if we needed more evidence that Annie Liebowitz was a genius and Paul Rudd is adorable.

2. I saw about five minutes of Seth on Regis & Kelly during spring break and here is the exchange that made me laugh SO HARD:
Regis (AKA GIANT TOOL): Your character is called B-O-B.
Seth: It's pronounced "Bob".

Seth Rogen, I can't wait to watch you and the rest of the crew Funny People this summer.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Something like Key Lime Pie.

My aunt Marion taught me how to make Key Lime Pie when I was about 10 because I really liked it. Over the past sixteen years, I've been playing around with the recipe, and have made it about a dozen different ways with great success, but I always feel like there needs to be an occasion for pie. Pie seems like such a hassle, even a pie that couldn't be simpler to make, like a key lime pie. So, in order to use all of the limes and lemons that filled a trifle bowl as a center piece, I decided to make lime and lemon curds and a key lime pie type dessert.

Basic Key Lime pie filling is lime juice and zest, sweetened condensed milk and egg yolks. Then it is put into a graham cracker crust and topped with whipped cream. This is all fine and dandy, except, let's make it better.

1 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons of lime zest
2/3 cup lime juice
1 8 oz package of neufchatel cream cheese - at room temperature
2 egg yolks - at room temperature

Blend together and pour into a graham cracker crust (give the crust time to cool before you do lest you want lime flavored egg pie) Let it chill in the fridge for a while, then, top with meringue, because meringue is far superior to whipped cream in just about every respect. You really need your egg whites to be at room temperature before you start to whip them up with 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt on high speed until frothy. Then, with the mixer still going, slowly add 1/2 cup of sugar and beat until the meringue is thick and shiny, about 2 minutes. (If it is raining outside, throw in the towel and opt for whipped cream.)

I threw all of this together into a couple pyrex dishes -- I didn't even pipe the meringue out -- because I wanted it to be really casual and not fussy when I took it to a friend's house for dinner and then the next night to a Gossip Girl gathering, which was unexpectedly sparsely populated (Becky liked it at least). But by all means put this in a pie shell, throw the old culinary torch at the meringue and enjoy your pie.

I'll tell you about my lemon curd fiasco as soon as I make a tart shell to put it in.

The Power of Positive Thinking

My mom is the kind of person who wins everything. I am not. My mom told me that she just decides that she wants to win the raffle, or whatever it is, and she does. Before you think, "new age feel-goodery" let me tell you, you are more cynical than even me. Perhaps you should engage in a paradigm shift.

I am getting better at utilizing positive thinking in my life. Long anecdote short: I decided I would find good and free parking on a rainy Sunday evening outside of the Keller auditorium before "Wicked" and I did. In an area of town, where non-garage parking spots are scarce, I found an AMAZING spot directly outside of the Keller, and I didn't even have to circle the block. I usually have great parking, because I decide I want a good parking spot.

I love to cook. But I LOVE to bake. When I went to a technique class at Williams-Sonoma last weekend, they announced they'd be holding a raffle and that the winner would receive 10% off a Kitchenaid mixer and/or an additional 10% off a set of their goldtouch bakeware set which they were running a special on. So of course, I decided that I would like to win this discount, because I have wanted both of those items for a long. Of course, I did win the discount and decided I'd only buy the Kitchenaid. My mom, who is not someone who spends money frivolously, talked me in to buying the bakeware also, so I did. I'm impressionable and have disposable income, what can I say?

So, in order to justify my impulsive purchases, to try to be cool like my friend, Rachel and to make my mom and my friend Brittney happy, I'm going to do some more food posts on this blog. If you don't like that, I'm sorry, but Brittney wants me to. So I will.

Tim Curry does romance.

Somehow a neurological pathway that hadn't been trod in a long while fired this week during a conversation with Becky, and when I shared this anecdote, she seemed to like it, so here you go.

I can't remember why, but we decided to drive my grandmother's car, a two door Thunderbird. It was my grandmother, my father and I, driving down I-5 to visit family in California. Wait, before I go any further, I should explain a couple of things. First, my father is a very conservative and religious man. Second, my grandmother is very much a believer in, "children should be seen and not heard," (Ironically, now that I'm grown, the phrase seems to be, "Molly should be neither seen nor heard." You can always tell a Milford man!) and at 13, I was still afraid of confronting her. So, being a non-driver, and basically still a child that didn't really count, I was relegated to the back seat with all of the luggage and coolers that took up all but ten inches of the seat and all of the floor. But this severe lack of room was not the most uncomfortable aspect of the drive.

My grandmother always has some trashy paperback or another to read, but since we were going on a car trip, why not get a book on tape? (I'll tell you why not, because your 13 year old granddaughter and your son are in the car!) So, she started the tape. What book it was, I don't remember, all I remember was Tim Curry was reading it. I remember this because I loved Tim Curry. Or, more honestly, I loved Clue. I thought, oh this should be funny, I'm excited. It was not three minutes before a very uncomfortable meeting took place between a couple of the characters - and I mean uncomfortable in more than one way. It was awkward to listen to Tim Curry describing sex in lurid and fictional detail yes, but it was more awkward because I realized, "this is what grandma reads all the time. Grandma reads erotica, gross!" and because I was trapped in a car with my grandmother and my father listening to Tim Curry describe sex in lurid and fictional detail. I could tell my father was excessively uncomfortable (I'm sure he was mostly concerned about my hearing it), but grandma, being a trooper, didn't bat an eye.

My father, trying not to be too obvious with his disdain, tried to start a conversation with me. But then, "SHHH! You're missing the book." After about twenty minutes of torn petticoats and compromising situations, grandma fell asleep. Almost immediately, my father hit the fast forward button then turned off the radio. What my father hadn't considered was about to bite us in the backsides. Quickly after the tape had finished fast forwarding, grandma woke up and said, oh, we need a new tape. A NEW TAPE? CRAP! It's a book on tape, of course there's more than one tape. Even if it is abridged, it's longer than one cassette. So, in went the next tape.

Let's just say, it did not take us long to catch back up with the plot. And we drove the rest of the way, listening to Tim Curry's great voice read absolute drivel, and 33% of the car enjoying it.

What has been permanently downloaded to my brain is the horrifying close of the book, and the way Tim Curry read it. Apparently, the story's hero was really excited about finding the heroine without underwear on and said, "oooooohhhhhhh thhhaaaannkk Gooooooood" in what I can only describe as 84 year old Lauren Bacall doing a cockney imitation of Sally Albright's faked orgasm in the restaurant. SO SO SO HORRIBLE. I would very much like that 4 seconds Eternal Sunshined out of my brain.

This book coupled with an accidental viewing of Rocky Horror Picture Show a year earlier put me off of Tim Curry outside of Clue ever since.

But in all fairness, the trip was not a total bust. That was where I learned how to crack an egg with one hand.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Dusty Springfield.

What to do on a Friday night when my plans for the night ended at 10? Why, post ridiculous things on my blog of course!

I LOVE DUSTY SPRINGFIELD! I grew up listening to a lot of her, not because my parents listened to her, but because I saw her albums in my mom's collection and would climb on the piano to put the record on the player and carefully put the needle on my favorite track then hop down and dance and sing like a smaller version of today's Molly. Fact: If they didn't want me to climb on the piano, perhaps they should not have put the record player on top of the piano. Fact: If they didn't want me playing with the record player or the records themselves, perhaps they should only have had Nicolette Larson and the Star Wars soundtrack at Molly eye level, I surely would have left them alone, but when I see that eyeliner I'm going to listen to the records. (I also did this with the South Pacific soundtrack and Lionel Richie. I thought the latter was SO COOL because of the covers of Can't Slow Down and Dancing on the Ceiling.)

I think because it is so catchy, Wishin' & Hopin' was an early favorite of mine. I distinctly remember when I was in preschool, my mother saying, "You know this isn't really a good way to get a guy, right?" (Also in preschool, I loved "Tell Me Lies" by Fleetwood Mac. One day in the carpool to the babysitter's house it came on the radio and I started to sing. Some other kid's mother said, "Lying is wrong. We shouldn't lie to people, or want people to lie to us." and I replied, "It's just a song.") I recently downloaded a bunch of Dusty's songs I didn't have, and low and behold, I found some new-to-me versions of one of my old faves.

Now for your listening enjoyment, Dusty singing Wishin' and Hopin' in German:
"Warten und Hoffen"

And Italian:
"Stupido Stupido"