11.30.2009

glutton for...

My fondness for butter, bacon, cheese, and other sundry cholesterolicious delights has not gone unremarked upon, either here on the blog (bacon chocolate chip cookies, what what), or while standing at my closet this morning and realizing that many of my clothes no longer fit over my Hibernation Belly.
Oops.

And this weekend, a friend said "no, I don't really like bacon". No, he's not a vegetarian, either.

In the interest of proving myself to be more than a one-trick high-fat pony, I made an accidentally vegan side dish for Thanksgiving, and damned if it's not really tasty, despite the lack of pork products or cheese or, I don't know, foie gras.


It was far more photogenic when made on Wednesday evening, btw.

Roasted Beets with Hazelnuts and Lemon
3 lbs. red beets
3 lbs. yellow beets
1 cup hazelnuts, lightly toasted, skins removed
2 meyer lemons
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

If you've got to toast the hazelnuts yourself, put them on a jelly-roll pan (y'know, a cookie sheet with sides. What, am I the only person who calls it a jelly-roll pan?) and pop into the oven at about 350 degrees until they're lightly browned: about 10 minutes. Let them cool a little bit, and then roll them around with your hands in a kitchen towel so the skins will peel off.

While the hazelnuts are toasting, peel the raw beets. Cut off the stalks and any tough spots, and use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin. If you peel the red ones first, and then the yellow ones, you'll minimize the eventual magenta tint of your palms.
If you really want to go for the bi-color effect (which is why I got two different colors of beets, after all), you'll want to keep them separate until after they're cooked. If you don't care, put all the beets in a large bowl and prep them to roast all at once. If you really don't care, just get one color of beets and roll with it.

Otherwise: take the two meyer lemons and juice them. Take half this juice and mix it with salt & pepper to taste and half the olive oil. Toss the red beets in this mixture, and put them in a large enough pan for roasting. Cover the pan with foil, and roast at 400ish degrees for about 40 minutes. Remove the foil, and roast for about 20-30 minutes more, depending on how large the beets are, and how tender you like them.
Set the beets aside to cool.

Do the same thing with the yellow beets in a separate roasting pan, if you're fussy enough to keep your food sorted by color. Except! While the yellow beets are roasting still covered in foil, cut up the meyer lemons you've already juiced. Yeah, you're basically cutting the rind into pieces, and it's not pretty, but so what. If you're hell-bent on making them pretty, though, get two new pristine meyer lemons and cut those up. Add the lemon slices to the pan of yellow beets to cook, uncovered, for that last 20-30 minute stretch of roasting.
Cool the yellow beets.

Slice each color of beets once they're cool and layer them together in a pretty pattern in a serving bowl (or your sole 9x13" casserole dish, if you're me). Sprinkle the hazelnuts between some of the layers, and on top.

Hey! It's vegan! I totally didn't plan it that way, either.
It pretty much fills a 9x13" pan, so it's however many servings you think it is. I don't know: I have no way to gauge how much you like to eat your vegetables.

11.28.2009

thank you

Photographic evidence of Chicago Thanksgiving Festivities: the 9:00 a.m. parade of mostly only vaguely identifiable giant inflatable cartoon characters...

(little brother: "what's that one?" me: "Superdawg? Wait, no, that's the hot dog place?")

...the impromptu dinner table setup (in their defense, my brother and his roommates DO own an actual kitchen table. However, it only seats four, so the beer pong table was repurposed. Yes, the boys did make centerpieces. If by "make" you mean "took some landscaping clippings out of the trash bin and stuck them into glasses." A for effort!):



As the eight of us motley celebrants ate, we participated in the traditional "what are you thankful for?" roundtable. Upon my turn, I said "I'm thankful for wifi", and I meant this with every fiber of my being.
Then my little brother, sitting directly to my left, gives a sweet toast to the things he's thankful for, concluding with "... and very thankful that I'm having Thanksgiving with my awesome sister."

Way to make me look like a total douchebag, brother.

11.23.2009

i'm telling y'all, it's a sabotage

New and unusual ways in which my clothing has made me look foolish over the past three days:

Saturday-
I am wearing this dress to work. As it was sixty degrees, I didn't bother to wear it with tights. I realize, as I squat directly in front of a large window, that this particular dress is far too short to wear to work, when work may included unplanned-for squatting situations when things like lamps and rugs must be moved around.
Especially when one's underthings happened to be brightly colored and probably visible from the parking lot.

Sunday-
After several frustrating hours of looking for a very particular shirt I wished to wear out to dinner, I am forced to write off the disappearance of my striped cowlneck as inexplicable and inevitable, as I really like that shirt, and have only worn it twice. So of course it's now lost and gone forever. Ah, no matter: I decide on a very lovely cashmere sweater that has never failed me.
Five and a half hours later, I realize that this sweater has a hole the size of a nickel which had been front and centered over my torso for the entire evening.

Monday-
Admittedly, I overslept by about 45 minutes, so I wasn't doing a full once-over before leaving the house this morning. But my drapey DvF dress has been a failsafe piece for quite some time, so I feel confident in its ability not to make me look like an ass.
Dammit.
Turns out the lower half of this dress has become see-through without my noticing. The florescent lights of the bathroom at work have helpfully pointed this out to me, so now I get to shuffle through a mildly important networking thingy this evening with the knowledge that, lit from the right angle, I might as well not be wearing much more than a leotard.


At this rate, I'm assuming that tomorrow will involve tearing a giant hole in the seat of my pants, or I'll have a heel snap off as I'm walking down a staircase, or that a scarf will become sentient and strangle me of its own volition.

11.21.2009

it's amazing that i'm not yet morbidly obese.

Unofficially, I have a rule for myself.
I'm not allowed to have eggs, flour, sugar, and butter in the house at the same time. This is for my own good, as if I have pastry basics lying about (do you know how many times I've made late-night-drunken pâte à choux or pâte brisée? yes? you've seen this in action? then you understand), I will start pulling out mixing bowls and looking for some heavy cream and suddenly I've made a tower of cheese puffs or cookies or an apple tart and eaten the whole thing while standing up in the kitchen and eyeing the pile of dirty dishes guiltily.

That is to say: I'll do things like this.


That is a plate of bacon chocolate-chip cookies, and it pleases me. I stole the idea wholesale from Mindy Segal at Hot Chocolate, where magic happens. (I live too close to Hot Chocolate for my own good.) The internet, as always, guides me: I used the recipe from Pete Bakes!, as my mother's chocolate chip cookie recipe, though amazingly delicious in its own right, involves margarine and vanilla pudding mix, and that just seemed wrongful in this context.

Essentially a batch of Pig Candy chopped up and mixed into the Toll House cookie recipe, this is damn good. But it could be better, oh yes. I'd cook the bacon for slightly less time so it doesn't flirt with overly crisping when baked with the cookies, and also pour the reserved bacon fat into the cookie dough before putting in the chocolate chips and bacon chunks. Hell yes, bacon fat plus cookie dough. I did that for this batch, and yeah, I pretty much freaked out with joy.


Next time- and oh, there will be a next time!- I'm going to use the 72-hour chocolate chip cookie recipe and then add in my own layer of bacony extravagance.

To bastardize the ironic-punk-rock slogan seen on bumper stickers of my youth: bacon's not dead, it's just really cool now.

11.20.2009

hit me up

I had the whole day "free" today. Originally, the plan was to spend the day in a blissful whirlwind of cooking projects, augmented by yoga and other self-improvement pursuits, before heading out for the night.
Life gets in the way, though. Like when life, two days prior, decides that my stress level dropping below "panic" was unacceptable, and that new stressors must be introduced accordingly.
Something, like, say, this.

Well, shit.

On my way to the grocery this week, I got rear-ended by someone who overlooked the left-turn signal, the turn lane, and my clear intention to turn once the oncoming traffic cleared.
Other than having to deal with the hassle of calling the cops, the insurance agents, and several auto-body-repair shops, that also put a total cramp in my day. All the errands I was to run on the day I got hit were then shafted over to this morning and afternoon, and my god, doing five hours of errands in the car will sap your will to live just a little bit.

At times like this, I need a seriously calming and pleasant diversion. Since killing off the vodka in my freezer before 2 pm on a weekday isn't really socially acceptable, I chose a less-incapacitating pastime for the afternoon.


Bless you, Julia Child. (And bless you, small-town-Nebraska antique store, for stocking a first edition of Mastering the Art of French Cooking and selling it to me for $2. Yes, $2.)
I spent the day roasting a chicken with garlic, beets, carrots, and parsnips, and am now spending the evening sniffing the chicken stock now simmering on the stovetop.
Of course, when roasting a four-pound chicken for one person, concessions must be made. I cannot, for example, wear anything that might indicate how much butter was involved in making and eating this chicken. New favorite flowy shirt to the rescue!

Sheer flowy shirt with rhinestone buttons, vintage; skinny jeans, Uniqlo; favorite grey flats, Steve Madden.
Yes, I am wearing a camisole under this sheer shirt, don't worry. It just happens to be a near-perfect flesh tone for me.

Rhinestone button detail: left shoulder only. Swoon.

11.17.2009

dress for success

A brief manifesto on office dress codes:

I understand, in certain industries, the necessity of enforcing a formal dress code for the office. White-shoe law firms, banks, psychiatrists, and so forth: the tip-top in professional dress seems appropriate and even necessary (to say nothing of industry-mandated dress codes for those in the medical field or whatnot). And although it's never been spelled out explicitly, I've worked in several offices where an implied "business" dress code was certainly the norm.

Recently, I received an email re: office dress code. This particular office happens to define itself as "business casual", which is no surprise at all. However, the email ended with the line: "no jeans". And mostly, I get that. Really. But there's this great disconnect happening here in the huge grey area between "business casual" and "no jeans".

For example, I'm 100% convinced (and oh, how I would bring you photographic evidence of this!- if only I were able to photograph people without being noticed!) that the example ensemble of dragging-hem, wrinkled, and faded black "dress pants" (ha) with a shapeless t-shirt layered over another dingy t-shirt is in no way at all to be considered "business casual" or office-appropriate. On the other hand, something like this (from my Lazy Sunday a few months ago) includes jeans, but I'd wager that it looks worlds more professional than the more-than-casual abomination criticized above. Or, horrors, the black gym pants I saw today, paired with a black t-shirt and drapey wrap cardigan. Now, is that outfit perfectly appropriate and perhaps even flattering for a run to the grocery after your yoga class? Absolutely. And I've likely worn it myself on several occasions, but none of those occasions have been to work.

The "no jeans" clause bugs. In my mind, it should be enough to say "please dress in accordance with our Business Casual standards." If that means that well-fitting jeans devoid of rips and the like may be worn, so much the better. But people, as Beckett reminds us, are bloody ignorant apes; they will find a way to attire themselves in sloppy-but-technically-standard-following ensembles.

Oh, my delicate aesthetic sensibilities are aching.

11.16.2009

thirty before thirty

I really should have thought about this, say, five months ago, when it would've been thirty months to my thirtieth birthday. Thinking about it now means that my list is now compressed into twenty-five intense months that will very likely be unable to contain all these crazy goals, but in the spirit of Maggie's Mighty Life List and Sarah (of Yes and Yes)'s 31 New Things, I'm going to put it out there anyway and dive right in, because why the hell not?
Let's check some shit off, baby. I've got twenty-five months to attempt the following:

  • Learn to drive a stick shift
  • Have a season subscription to the opera, a theater, and a dance company*
  • Attend a real masquerade I am certain that a Drag Ball Birthday Party counts as a masquerade.
  • Surprise someone with a lavish, extravagant present for no reason at all other than that I love them*
  • Travel somewhere completely new, solo*
  • Take a serious wine-tasting class*
  • Be able to give really good career advice to someone
  • Can/preserve some food
  • Get acupuncture for my wonky shoulder, hips, ankle, back, omg I am broken*
  • Complete a mini-triathalon*
  • Pick up the tab at the grocery store for someone who needs it*
  • Learn to surf*
  • Be able to ice-skate backwards
  • Try a regional/ethnic cuisine that I have zero familiarity with (Inuit? Dutch? Egyptian?)*
  • Go on a camping/biking trip that crosses at least two states in one day (Admittedly, this is relatively easy in Chicago: one can bike to Indiana or Wisconsin via trails that are structured for rather leisurely cycling.)
  • Visit the catacombs*
  • Visit my sister in Hong Kong*
  • Grow orchids*
  • Invest $50 in a stock*
  • Watch a game in the new Yankee Stadium*
  • Attend one of those “secret” dinner parties (yeah, they were trendy a few years ago. So what? I still think a secret dinner party sounds like a good time.)*
  • Actually decorate my apartment, rather than just putting all my stuff in it and hoping that it might not be too terrible-looking*
  • Get my Slouching Towards Bethlehem tattoo*
  • Learn to snowboard*
  • Spend two weeks eating a Raw Foods diet*
  • Attend a yoga retreat or one of those intense weekend-long yoga workshops*
  • Learn basic conversational Spanish
  • Read a book in French (and no, rereading Huis Clos/Le Petit Prince/anything I read in high school or college for French class doesn’t count)
  • Donate to an arts organization I love*
  • Finally be able to parallel-park with confidence
*(The asterisks denote those things that require money to do.
So maybe I'll start from the free stuff and work my way up.)


Ready. Set. GO.

11.15.2009

life inside a glass house

... in which I now work as a temporary holiday sales associate, where I sell glassware to people at a store where people who have real jobs and real incomes can go to pick up another set of handblown champagne flutes, a new table runner for their dining room, and some accent pillows to transition their living room into fall/winter.

Snark aside, I'm actually rather fond of this little part-time gig I've picked up, as the new coworkers are generally friendly and helpful and sweet, and being surrounded by pretty, pretty things all day is pleasant. Now, if only I were not constantly tempted to pretend that I, too, can buy a set of a dozen martini glasses (I had to drink a martini out of a lowball glass the other day. Oh, horrors.) and a set of plates that actually match.

Anyway, worn to work on Saturday:

Jackette, some Minneapolis designer who didn't sew labels
into the clothes; navy v-neck, Old Navy; big-ass enamel ring,
vintage via Etsy; skirt, American Apparel; boots, vintage.

11.13.2009

lust for life

I own something like fourteen little black dresses. And yet, last night while fretting about what in the world I could possibly wear from 9 am to 10 pm ("casual Friday" at a volunteer work project, job interview in what I assumed was a fairly casual office but you don't want to go into an interview looking dressed down, gallery walk in Pilsen) that would require minimal transition between events, I could not find a single thing I wanted to wear.
Thank god I finally settled on this dress + scarf + cardigan for the office combo, as my alarms failed to go off this morning, so I hit the floor in a mad rush to the train and the office and such. Planning this outfit last night saved my ass today and ensured that I looked mildly presentable. "Mildly", that is, because this scarf has a fatal flaw. Apparently I spilled beer on it the last time I wore it out, because as the day went on and the scarf absorbed my body heat, a distinct smell of IPA began emanating from my neck.
Oops. At least the scarf didn't start to exude boozy fumes until the late afternoon, after my job interview was completed.

Linen-blend dress, Mango; long leather gloves, vintage; scarf, Forever 21;
brooch, vintage; pumps, Seychelles. I had a black cashmere cardigan over this for the office,
but it's now hanging with the scarf in a cloud of Febreeze, and it's not that exciting anyway.

Detail of my new obsession: brooches.

This past Sunday, I met up with The Amazon (who contributes hilarity to OKStoopid- a blog which I habitually misspell "OKStoppard", as my brain defaults to theatre mode) for some vintage shopping, dreaming of furniture I cannot afford, and much swilling of cava. Her train was delayed, so while I hovered around the El waiting for her, I stopped into a shady-looking secondhand store. Jackpot. I got six brooches for $13, and am mentally stalking some turquoise satin brocade pumps that I think I can talk down to $15.
Sigh. Get job first, buy satin brocade pumps later. Priorities.

11.11.2009

fake that floss*

*from Kori Newkirk's "Hip Hop From Home (Fake that Floss)", a part of the One Planet Under A Groove: Hip Hop & Contemporary Art exhibition that I saw years ago at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, thus hooking me for life.

Pink scarf, Target; leather, Moda International; v-neck, Old Navy; vest, H&M;
necklace, Maude Vintage; jeans, Citizens of Humanity; boots, Enzo Angiolini
and really old and man these boots are comfortable; bling, The Ark thrift store.


Inspired by this, which has been saved to my Amazing Looks folder for some time now:


... and also by the completely chic ensemble of one of the Museum of Contemporary Art's staffers last Friday, who rocked an old gold digital men's Casio watch and made it look like the freshest thing ever with a suit jacket. After all, there are no new ideas out there, only ideas I haven't appropriated yet.

11.05.2009

redlegs

This outfit is basically pajamas. What of it? It looks respectable for public wear, and I'm only leaving the house today to bike on a quick errand to buy thank-you notes and another pint of half & half. (Coffee + honey + half & half: my preferred beverage to take me from waking up through 2 p.m. or so.)

Grey sweatshirt hoodie dress, Delia's; tights, DKNY; boots, vintage.

You know, for all the noise I make about riding your bike wearing whatever you want (for me, that's generally a too-short dress and a devil-may-care attitude about the whole thing) and wearing your helmets, I've been incredibly lax in actually taking photos in bike mode.
Thus:
Navy side-button gloves, Tulle; helmet, Trek; bike, Trek 800,
courtesy my little brother, who said "well, I never ever use my frame,
and yours is broken, so just go ahead and take it." Thanks, man.

11.01.2009

further excuses to wear an elaborate hat

I'm Chiquita Banana, and I'm here to say
Bananas have to ripen in a special way
When they're flecked with brown and of a golden hue
Bananas taste the best and are the best for you

Fun fact: I really dislike the taste of bananas. This did not stop me from affixing a bunch of them to an incredibly heavy headdress, however.