Holidays! Holy days!

I have been lazy about posting for awhile but wanted to somehow address the holiday season. I have not been doing anything that I really feels warrants a post. No cooking, crafting or doing strange things and taking photographic evidence. I've been so lackadaisical I even brought store bought fruit salad to my foodiest friend's brunch potluck!

The good thing about the holidays, perhaps my favorite thing, is that it's a time where you're allowed to put a halt to many normal responsibilities. It becomes the utmost importance to attend holiday parties, have long brunches (with naps afterwards) and hole yourself up in cozy bars with good friends and hot beverages. And shopping! It's a time when you absolutely must go shopping. I've been doing a lot of those things but won't write about them here, at least not in detail. After all, this is
Blogspot in 2008, not Livejournal in 2004.

I hope everyone has a happy (and very lazy) holiday season!!!


I have seen the future

The finding aid for the records of the 1939/40 New York World's Fair is finally online!!! All 685 pages of it. Also, 12,000 photographs from the records are being digitalized and will be available for viewing on the Digital Gallery. The photographs are organized in an A-Z run by subject and so far only a few of the A's are up. You can view such exciting photographs as Donald Ackerman dressed up like Satan, purchasing a ticket for the fair. I am consistently surprised at how completely weird people were in 1939/1940!

And for more Worlds Fair fun, click the link below to watch a video about the collection.



Food Thoughts I

On Sunday nights, I usually like to make a big pot of something delicious that I can dip into throughout the week. Last Sunday I made a Wild and Brown Rice Pilaf with Butternut Squash and Cranberries. I'm posting about it for two reasons. One is because it seems like a very Thanksgiving friendly dish, especially for vegetarians. The second reason, is that even though this dish turned out very good, through no fault of its own it wasn't satisfying to me. I was thinking about this dish and realized that it was indicative of how I view cooking and my enjoyment of food.

Often, I unwittingly do a lot of preparation before I cook anything. I read food blogs and do my shopping at a variety of places based on where the best of a particular item can be found. But it is the cooking itself is what I most look forward to. After a long day, it's nice to shift the mental clutter aside and focus on the simple and tangible details of making a meal. Many ashrams and yoga/spiritual centers have suggested guidelines for mealtime prep. There is the belief that emotions and energy of the cook will affect the food they make and even infuse it. There are some yoga retreats where the staff run through a few postures before cooking and some ashrams where the meals are prepared in contemplative silence.

This seems intuitive. Meals made with love and care have always tasted the best to me even if the preparation and ingredients are simple. The butternut squash pilaf I made on Sunday night was not satisfying to me to make or in some ways to eat. To backtrack, I feel like my weekend was spent eating as much food as possible; the cold weather throws all good intentions out the window. Saturday night, we went to Red Hook for our friend Annie's annual Thanksgiving for Friends dinner party. Sunday I had the best grilled cheese I've ever had at Ditch Plains and then later for dinner, Betsy made kale chips with roasted garlic, an amazing chicken and white bean soup and then cookie dough for dessert.

By the time it came for me to make the pilaf I was full and tired and it was late but I wanted to have something for lunch the next day. I quickly chopped up the ingredients and threw them in the pot and then read my book until it was ready. Taking it off the stove, I didn't even taste it but threw the pot on top of a pot holder in the refrigerator and went to bed. So while it turned out very delicious, it lacked that something, and tasted more like something bought at Whole Foods then something homemade. I will definitely make it again, with more care and attention and see if it tastes better.

Willard Suitcase Exhibit

If I was Margaret, I would've felt like a fly in a spider web too.


The art of losing isn't hard to master

Recently, on a trip to Maine, I did the impressive feat of leaving behind almost everything I had brought. The first night I was there, we stayed at my friend Nick's parent's house in Harpswell. We had been to a party the night before at a house at the very tip of the peninsula. The long walk we took to the house and the cold mist from the ocean, near on both sides but unseen in the starless night, warranted bundling up. When we got back to his parent's house I tossed my coat onto a chair in the bedroom, fell asleep and in the flurry of morning activity, left it there.

We had already driven two hours north to Corinna's parents before I realized it was gone. We were going to help her father stack wood and I brought in my travel bag so I could change out of my dress into jeans and long underwear and layers of shirts. Needless to say, after the activity of the day and a long dinner, my travel bag had migrated to an forgotten spot behind the front door and was also left behind. Sometimes I really amaze myself.

I have often wished for the super power of being able to clap my hands and have a thin, impermeable beam of light rise up from the missing object. Or travel to the World of Lost Things in Netherland where Peter Pan could help my find that lost sock, earring, book.

When I was a teenager, I lost my passport during a trip to Holland. After many days of anxiously waiting, I received a call that my passport had been recovered. I took a tram to an address way on the outskirts of Amsterdam. There in an innocuous, square, government building I found a room bursting with stacks of passports, piles of worn leather wallets and a whole wall full of dangling keys. And this was just the anteroom! It was a veritable world of lost things. I wonder how many objects find their way to their owners and what remains there still.


Snack Time

Edamame pods + olive oil + garlic + grated parmesan + bread crumbs = !!!



A couple of nights ago I went to a talk at Columbia by Ann Cvetkovich on "Oral History, AIDS Activism and Archives of Feelings", hosted by the Oral History Master of Arts program. The talk ended up being primarily about Cvetkovich's current project which is interviewing women who were involved in ACT UP (AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power). It was timely for me as for the past two months I have been working on archival material of an AIDS activist organization including processing video footage, some of which includes ACT UP members and actions.

AIDS activism is singular to study because it's the only time in history people mobilized, through activism, to fight a health crisis, along with all the politics, prejudice and bureaucracy that came with it. ACT UP in particular did direct action from political funerals, or infiltrating the nightly news and the Stock Exchange. Cvetkovich focused her talk on the ACT UP Oral History Project which I have found to be a fascinating resource. Gregg Bordowitz's interview gives a good idea of the fear and anger many were feeling at the start of this crisis.

* On a side note I am really interested in the Oral History program. Talking to students afterwards, I found of that this is the first year it's been in existence and that's why I had never heard of it. But the classes sound interesting and most of the students seemed to be pleased with the program so far. And I already have my thesis topic! So I guess just now I just have to finish this OTHER degree first...


The Selby

Lately I've had an unhealthy love/hate relationship relationship with The Selby. Seriously, I now go on it multiple times a day. Some profiles seem to have the sole focus of showing off one's worldly possessions but other profiles are really wonderful vehicles for people to share how they construct their environments and choose to live.

Here are some of my favorites
I love this country house and how the couple has such a playfulness with antique objects.

This house is an old butcher shop in Brooklyn that has totally kept it's 19th Century character. I think if I lived here I'd feel like I was a character in
Sons and Lovers. I like that they show it as a work in progress.

Another Brooklyn dwelling +

If you like pretty pictures...

Betsy has a website now. She takes awesome photographs, so check it out!
* I 'designed' it for one of my classes this summer. This means I bumbled around on Dreamweaver and created something that looked kinda pretty (and got me an A!) but wouldn't actually work on any browser. Dan Bedford, because he is an expert, made it into a real site.


Hansel and Gretel had the right idea

I never understood before why some pasta recipes called for adding breadcrumbs to the dish. To me this seemed like gilding the lily but the cooler weather seemed to warrant pasta and perhaps the extra bit of something else so I thought I'd give it a try.

Pasta de Sardines
I decided to make my own version of this classic dish for Mary before we went to go see Ms. Atkins perform at the Bowery. I caramelized onions and then added garlic and half a tin of sardines that I mashed with a wooden spoon to make more of a sauce. Then I added hot pepper and currents and let the flavors mingle on low heat for a few minutes. Then I threw this on top of hot pasta with the rest of the sardines and added breadcrumbs and pine nuts. I loved how the breadcrumbs clung to the pasta and gave the dish an interesting texture. Mary thought it was weird, but I really liked it. I'm definitely pro-breadcrumb now and spent the rest of the weekend sprinkling them on everything.


Inner life of Gems

This is a great site that has photomicrographs (photographs taken with a microscope) of super thin sheets of birthstone gems. They are so beautiful! Some of my favorites are:
Diamond (which looks like a super angular womb room)
Pearl (lettuce from Mars?)


Leafy Greens, Two Ways

Now that it's fall, it's time for a few of my favorite things to reenter my life. This means down comforters, waking up to the steam radiator whistling, black tea with soy milk and honey, sweaters and warming fall vegetables. One of my favorites foods ever is kale. Recently, I branched out and made some collard greens as well. Below are recipes for both.

Kale Chips
I recently was given the recipe for Kale Chips which I have become addicted to. All you do is take a bunch of washed kale and tear off chip sized portions and spread them on a baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil, add some minced garlic, swish around to combine and then roast in a 450 degree oven for five to six minutes. Add salt and chow down. Seriously, the first time I made these we went through three batches. They are also good to put on as a topping for soups or grain dishes.

Collard Greens with Currants and Almonds
Last week my mom gave me a huge bunch of collard greens from her CSA. I trolled the Internet to find a recipe that would be vegetarian and lighter then the normal recipes that usually involve pork fat and an intensive wilting session. I made an adaption of a recipe found on the best blog ever, Tastespotting.
All you do is heat up a large pot until it gets super hot. Add a generous amount of olive oil, a chopped yellow onion and two cloves of garlic. Let these cook for a minute and then add a bunch of collard greens, cut into 1 inch strips, 1/4 of a cup of currants and a 1/4 of a cup of slivered almonds. I added a splash of water to provide a little steaming as well. Let this cook for six minutes stirring occasionally.
The final result was amazing and completely unexpected. The currants were a perfect pairing with the greens and he almonds soaked up the flavored oil and plumped while still providing a good crunch.


Land of Eternal Starlight

For Halloween this year I am dressing up as an elf with a friend. We often like to joke about elves and mystical realms so it seemed appropriate, and a good excuse to wear elf ears. To clarify, we will be this type of elf, not the Christmas variety.
Searching the internet for inspiration, I came across an online community called Elven Realities for people believe that they are really elves.... This is the site introduction...
Why would anyone want to think they are an elf?
Well....escapism aside, some people cannot seem to shake the feeling that they are "elves"....For myself it is a useful descriptive term that may not be totally accurate, but it conveys the "feel" of my beliefs reasonably well. It really is not a "choice", it is more of a "realization", something for the individual to cope with and try to understand. What I hope to do with this page is to help those with that singing in the blood find a little something that they can use to make sense, perhaps that little bit of a hint that lets them find their way. There are others out there...hopefully this helps those ready to find them.

I think this community is amazing! There is even a Midsummer's gathering in the forests of Pennsylvania every year called Walking the Thresholds to create community, establish rituals and partake in bardic drumming and storytelling. Whose in?

Now I bid adieu,
Galadriƫl Arcamenel
(name courtesy of the Elvish Name Generator)