Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Boost, Soup, Planned Parenthood

So--here's what's new. Just finished a multiweek run with BOOST Dance Festival and I think all our performances went well, which is fairly miraculous, although my body is feeling some bruises! We had some great press, and my picture was in the Seattle Times!! Even though I'm itty bitty and in the back, it still counts. Here is the link to the Seattle Times review: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/thearts/2014583296_boost24.html

This is the picture that was in the paper. Here's another picture:
In this one I'm right in the middle.
Here is the review from the blog SeattleDances, which I think is more informed and in depth than the Seattle Times review: http://seattledances.blogspot.com/2011/03/boost-dance-festival-puts-local-artists.html#more

Also, I never got a chance to post about this, but we went to a lovely party hosted by Hannah a few weeks back. She had been wanting to try out a soup recipe, and share it with some friends. 

Hannah chops in her lovely sun-filled kitchen

Yummy soda bread contributed by Elyse
There was a great view of the city out the window but the picture didn't capture it.

SUPER DELICIOUS Fig and Endive Salad 
*Fig and Endive Salad*
(Serves 4)

10 dried Calimyrna figs
0.5 cup orange juice
3 heads of Belgian endive, rinsed and drained
2 ounces chèvre or other mild goat cheese, crumbled
0.5 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts

0.5 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
0.25 teaspoon salt
0.25 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a small saucepan, bring the figs and orange juice to a boil and cook on high heat for 1 minute. Cover with a tight-fitting lid, remove from the heat, and set aside to plump, 10 to 20 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients and set aside. Cut the heads of endive lengthwise into halves and remove the cores. Chop the leaves into 1-inch pieces. When the figs are soft and plump, cut them into quarters.

Arrange the endive on a large platter and top it with the figs, chevre, and walnuts. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and serve.

Ben serves up soup
*Tuscan Bean Soup*
(Serves 6-8; yields 8.5 cups)

2 cups diced onions
1 cup peeled and diced carrots
4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon olive oil
15 large fresh sage leaves
6 cups cooked pinto, Roman, or small red or white beans*
3 to 4 cups vegetable stock, bean-cooking liquid, or water
salt and pepper to taste

*equivalent to three 15- or 16-ounce cans, undrained

In a soup pot, cook the onions, carrots, and garlic in the olive oil on medium-low heat until the onions are translucent and the carrots are tender, about 10 minutes. Stack the sage leaves and cut them crosswise into thin strips. Stir the sage into the vegetables. Add the cooked beans and 3 cups of stock, bean-cooking liquid, or water. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until simmering, 5 to 10 minutes.

Carefully ladle about 3 cups of the soup into a blender and purée until smooth. Stir the purée back into the soup. If you wish, add more stock or water for a less thick consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Gently reheat the soup and serve hot.

Thanks to Hannah for the recipes!

I also attended a rally for Planned Parenthood a few weekends ago. I wasn't sure what to expect, but it turned out to be really inspiring. 

Planned Parenthood provides invaluable services for low cost all over the country, including cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, contraception and safe sex education, and family planning. For many low-income women it is their only access to medical care. It provides all of these services without judgement or religious/political motives. Planned Parenthood stands to lose all of it's federal funding, which would be a travesty to the millions of people who rely on their services, but also to our budget, since for every dollar we spend on preventative services, we save four.  SO, if you would like to sign the petition and stand with Planned Parenthood as I have, here is the link:

I hope you sign it. I don't want to get too political here, but having the right to decide what happens in your life and your body is a basic human right, and one that I think we certainly strive for in a country that is founded on the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day of Fun!

Well, it's Nathan's spring break, and he's off to visit friends in San Francisco! We've had a streak of sunny lovely weather, so we decided to spend the day together yesterday (actually, it's after midnight, so to be clear, Tuesday). First of all, we got brunch at Mars bistro, which is one of our favorites spots--we go there quite a lot. The service is a little incompetent, but so friendly, so it's hard to complain.
Nathan gets a grilled turkey, bacon, swiss most every time, and I always get something different. Yesterday I got a BLT, but last time we went I got french toast with blueberries and whipped cream. We usually bring a deck of cards and either play rummy or cribbage. Couldn't find the cribbage board this time, so we played rummy. I won. : )

Then I had been wanting to go explore the Greenlake area just north of us for forever, so we started walking that way, but found an abandoned futon frame by the side of the road, and carried that back home, which was fairly awkward. We assembled it, and it was only missing a couple screws, so after a quick trip to the hardware store we had a nice solid oak futon frame...with no futon cushion. Our mattress works pretty well on it, but then if we want to sleep, we have to move the mattress back into the bedroom.

So that was fun, but I still wanted to go to Green Lake, so we took a nice long walk on a non-direct path to Greenlake, an area comprised almost entirely of athletic businesses. There are like six running/biking/fitness stores. Then gyms, yoga studios, chiropractors, etc. Not to mention Exit Space where I rehearse for my dance performances.

Then we headed home to make dinner. Usually we get qdoba's on tuesdays, but we decided instead to make mexican at home: CARNITAS! If you missed this the first time I blogged about it here is the original posting, including the recipe: http://drizzlediaries.blogspot.com/2011/01/busyness-and-tacos.html
However, it takes 3.5 hours of cooking that pork to perfection, so we did not eat until around 10pm. In the meantime we played Guillotine, which is a super fun card game in which you collect the heads of cartoon french nobles. Fun fun.
I also got a pie craving, so I ran out to Joe's and got us a pie. We also learned that apparently there is a Piecycle, that will deliver you home-made pies (you guessed it) ON A BIKE. But only on weekends, so we will have to check out that awesomeness another time.

In other news, I was performing in BOOST dance festival this past weekend, which went really well, except for me knees, who are super bruised : ( BUT if you are in Seattle, you have one more chance to see me dance in my skivvies and super-hero-mask make up.  Erickson theater in Cap Hill, Sat and Sun nights at 8pm!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Welcome Spring!!!

Now we've all "sprung forward" so you know the seasons are changing...it's starting to feel warmer around here, and rain a lot more, so I guess that is good?
Whether spring is fully here or not, my paper snowflake decorations were starting to seem depressing, so I decided it was time to move onto a new season. I got some yellow mums (because they look great for weeks!) and divided up the bunch into lots of vases to spread the cheer.

I also made flag garlands out of paper because the windows were looking a little bare. They are just diamonds out of magazines that I folded in half and glued over a piece of yarn. It is hard to tell in these back-lit pictures, but they are pretty and colorful. 

It occurred to me that this could be a really cool way to "scrapbook"--for instance if you saved pieces of paper from cards people sent you or events you went to, then it could mean something AND look pretty. Or (too late for me) but you could save a piece of the wrapping from each gift at a wedding shower to make a flag garland. I think that would be so lovely. 

Nathan checks his email and flags in the window
In some great news, my friend Steph (and her boyfriend Ben) who I know from my time studying in Costa Rica, has just moved to Seattle, and not only that, she has moved not two blocks from us! Last weekend was her birthday, so we met up with her best friend from high school, Hannah, who went to Mt Holyoke with me, and Michael, who also knows Steph from Costa Rica. Hannah's mom also joined for brunch at Odfellow's Cafe.

Steph with her birthday eggs benedict
Nathan, me, and Michael

In other happenings, I decided to try to make the bread that Andy Banka makes, because it is delicious. I don't think I've ever made real yeasted bread before. 
Mixing the ingredients: flour, water, yeast, salt--pretty simple
After I let it sit
After baking! TA DA!

Ok, so I'm no bread baking genius, but this recipe was very easy. It's Jim Lahey's famous NO KNEED bread, but I know it better as Andy's Bread. Here is the recipe!

ANDY'S BREAD (adapted from the Jim Lahey's recipe)
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast
1¼ teaspoons salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.
1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
4. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

Making it in my cornish-ware kept the loaf perfectly round.
SO I just copy-pasted fromt the NYT, but Andy said he had better luck if you just let the dough rise for the half hour the oven was heating and not for 2 hours, otherwise he finds the dough flattens. So I struck that direction from the recipe! Also, the recipe calls for "instant yeast" but andy says regular yeast is just fine, and that is what I used.
As for me and my complete inability to follow a recipe, I let the bread sit out 24 hours initially instead of 18, I skipped the part where you let it sit 15 min loosely covered in plastic wrap, and then only let it sit 20 min while the oven pre-heated. I also put the seam side down in the pot. And it still turned out pretty good. A little denser than the perfect consistency of Andy's. Hope to make again and maybe actually follow the directions. Maybe.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


So, as some of you know, I recently returned from a trip to Paris! Here is what I did:

I left Seattle Sunday afternoon and arrived in Paris early Monday morning! The airplanes now have TVs on the back of the seat in front of you, and an array of movies and shows to choose from. Very fancy. We were also fed a lot, so that was nice, and you can have as much wine as you want. Yay air france! Zoe picked me up from the airport and we took the metro back to her apartment, which she shares with a german couple. We walked around the city and latin district most of this day, took a little boat across the canal to get an aperitif, and then headed back to the apt for dinner. Zoe made ratatouille, but I was very sleepy from jet lag and the day is kind of a blur. The next morning we waited for Merli and Louise to arrive. They flew in from Boston together, but didn't know I was also coming! Zoe and I really surprised them! They were exhausted from travel, but we saw Notre Dame and the Eiffel tower.
La Tour Eiffel
Ham and cheese crepe
We ate crepes in the street--these were delicious and they make them in front of you! There is a big circular grill surface, and they smooth the batter out with this special knife in a circular motion. Then Zoe made Quiche for dinner, which was delicious! Unfortunately, Merli's exhaustion started being more than just jet lag and she became sick and could not tour with us for a couple of days.
Notre Dame--so 'dame' beautiful
Zoe, Dame, Seine
So on Wednesday, Zoe, Louise, and I did some shopping around, went to a little market, and walked the Champs-Elysees, which is a big street with lots of stores that ends at the Arc de triomphe. We then went back and had some soup with Merli.
French Macarons--why didn't I eat more of these?
Window shoppers gase at the delicious treats!
Fromage at the Market
Olives at the market
Louise and Zoe and umbrellas
I think this bridge is famous?
On Thursday we went to the Musee d'Orsay to see all the beautiful impressionist works. I had a childhood fondness for Monet, and still find it hard to take my eyes off his work. We walked along the Seine and saw the boats and the book dealers who have their stands along the river. There is a bridge to which lovers affix padlocks symbolizing their love.

In the Louvre gardens
The Seine
La Cure Gourmande
We then walked down to the Paris Opera house and went to this lovely confectionary shop that just glowed warmth and was stacked with goodies and tins floor to ceiling! By that time it was getting late, so we headed home and got ready for a bit of a night out. Merli still wasn't well enough unfortunately, but we met up with Vasna, a Swiss friend of Louise's and went to dinner at a little kind of French-Hipster place called Sesame. Our waitress was Robin Scherbatsky's doppleganger for anyone who watches "How I met your mother" and we all had delicious salads. They were playing American oldies and some french girls were dancing and singing in the restaurant, so we got up and joined them of course. Unfortunately I have no pictures of this because my camera batteries were dead. So sad!

Sacre Coeur
Friday Merli was feeling better, so we all went to Montmartre, which is a little mountain in the city that used to be the pastoral picnic location for Parisians and a popular Impressionist hang out. It is still the artist district to this day! On the summit is the Sacre Coeur, a huge and beautiful church, but fairly new for Paris. Building started in 1875, but wasn't completed until 1914. Leading up to the church is a huge set of steps and a popular place for tourists to sit and look out over the city while musicians serenade them for donations. There was a service going on when we visited, so I was not able to take pictures of the inside, but it was really lovely to walk around in while the nuns sang and (as one of my friends reported) texted. 

Scenes from Montmartre--note Eiffel tower

Louise and Mer take pictures
Carousels are everywhere
We then headed through the precious little streets of Montmartre, which are unfortunately mostly full of tourist shops at this point, to a square where local painters sell their work and street artist offer to draw your picture. We bought some art, then we walked down the mountain (saw Van Gogh's house where he cut off his ear) and ended up in the base where the sex shops are. This is where the famous Moulin Rouge is, which means Red Windmill.
Me and the Moulin Rouge
There are lots of windmills in this area, or things named for them, which I am guessing is due to the area's pastoral history. Another windmill site was Cafe de Deux Moulins, the workplace of the main character in my favorite movie, Amelie. It was adorable, although somewhat re-arranged from the movie. We had coffees and lemonade there, and creme brulee, in Amelie's honor we cracked it with our spoons! SO good. 
Amelie's Cafe!
Ready to eat...
Then for dinner we ate ate Cafe Carpe Diem, which was totally beautiful--candle-lit and stars painted on the ceiling. I had a sort of gingery-asian salad with beef--yum. But the highlight was this incredibly devine sauce on the dish Merli and Louise got. Zoe also very much enjoyed the honey-baked goat cheese that came with her dish.

Carpe Diem Cafe
Delicious Sauce
Louise and Mer peak through the window, while
Zoe converses by candle light
Saturday Louise was off to see some friends in London, so Zoe took Merli and I to a park not far from her house with this rocky butte right in the middle of a lake with a temple on top. Really and unexpected thing to see in the middle of a city! The park was lovely and had a carousel and puppet theater, and we took a big bridge across the water to the temple.
Parc de Buttes Chaumont

Cafe in the park
Also in the park was a really fun Cafe with cool glass lights. We got some coffee there and Zoe joked that she was getting married here and we all agreed it would be the perfect venue for a summer wedding. The disco ball was already installed and you couldn't beat the view over the park. We then walked around and saw some churches and I made stuffed peppers for dinner back at the apartment. They turned out pretty amazing if I do say so myself.
Zoe and Mer exit a church

Shopping for Stuffed pepper ingredients in the street!
Sunday Zoe had some preparation to do for her return to work, so Merli and I headed out on our own and returned to the Musee d'Orsay so that Merli could see it and I could see the rest of it. We were going to go to the Louvre as well, but by that time we were kind of art-ed out!

The 'Pant' and the Pendulum
We walked down to the Pantheon, which is a big domed building with huge columns and lots of murals on the inside. The basement is a crypt where lots of notables, including Voltaire and Louis Braille are buried.  From the center of the dome hangs the Foucault Pendulum, which was the first simple demonstration of the Earth's rotation. As the pendulum swings it shifts slowly (or rather the earth shifts slowly) so that the pendulum appears to swing on different degrees.
Saint Etienne du Mont
After the Pantheon we met Zoe and went to the church right next door, the Saint Etienne du mont, which was one of our favorite churches we saw. It was so airy and beautiful, it felt very heavenly in comparison with say, Notre Dame, which felt very ancient and dogmatic. I enjoyed both feelings of course, and while I did like Notre Dame best, this church was not busy at all and it was sunny for once (!) which was lovely to see through the stained glass windows. Saint Etienne du Mont contains a shrine to Saint Genevieve, the patron saint of Paris, where her original tomb is encased in glass and gold, even though her remains were publicly burned at her original resting place in the 1700's.

Shrine and tomb of Saint Genevieve
More Shrine.
Then for dinner we headed to the Latin District for Fondu and Raclette, which is french food from the mountainous Alps region. We ate SO MUCH CHEESE. It was pretty disgusting/amazing. Zoe and I entered a cheese euphoria and were pretty silly for the rest of the night.
Walking through the latin quarter to get some fondu!
Monday Zoe had to return to work and Merli and I waited for Louise to return from London, and then we headed back to Montmartre again because we enjoyed it so much and Mer and Louise bought some more art.
Another Cure Gourmande!
The artist market

Louise and Merli buy ART
We then met Zoe for dinner at Chez Denise, which had been a recommendation from Louise's French boss, and was probably the most "French" place we went. I have no idea what the menu said, but I think there were pigs feet and brain and kidney and all kinds of stuff. We went on the safe side and got steak frit (with fries!) and two fish dishes. I actually enjoyed the fish (I'm not usually a seafood girl), especially Louise's, which was mixed up with potatoes and some other things. Then chocolate mousse for dessert. It was a lovely last hurrah before Mer and Louise headed home the next day.
Chez Denise
Chez Denise interior
I wasn't due to go home until wednesday, so on tuesday I went to work with Zoe and observed her teach English to elementary students. I was extremely impressed with her abilities, and it was really fun to watch her teach and see her adorable students. I found some beautiful brussel sprouts at the market and so we had a dinner of brussels, cheese, and bread, which was simple and devine, and then we went out to see the movie "No strings attached" which in Frances was renamed "Sex Friends," which we thought was hilarious!! It was a dumb romantic comedy, but it was in English and we laughed a lot and I may have gotten a little raucous when I realized part of it was set in Ann Arbor. We got yelled at by some snobs for putting our feet up on the seats in front of us, and then we laughed at them--as if we were ruining the cinematic majesty of Sex Friends...
Well, that was my trip. The next day I got up and went to the airport. I grabbed some pastries on the way of course and went straight from the airport to rehearsal, and then to work. Back to reality!