Thursday, March 26, 2009

Alex in Seussical!

Today I left work a little early and picked up Mike, David and Meg at the Dinky station and we all headed into Philly to see Kim's son Alex starring in his school play! They did Seussical, and it was so fun. If you're familiar with the show, Alex played the role of JoJo. They had a live band, the sets were great, the costumes were bright and fun and they had real microphones. It really looked like everyone had fun. It was a sold out show and Alex's cheering section was close to 20 strong! Here are some photos from the show.

After the show we all went out for pizza. It was great to catch up with Kim's mom and to see some other folks who I don't get to see very often. When I was living in Chicago, Kim's family was kind of my surrogate local family and we've known each other since high school, so it was like getting to catch up with family again.

It was a great evening! Congrats, Alex! You did a great job!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Visual Resources Association in Toronto

Last Wednesday I took a train to a plane to a bus and ended up at my hotel in Toronto. I had a little bit of time before I had to be at my first session, so I headed out to the Art Gallery of Ontario. It was a pretty nice day and the museum was full of kids because it was Canada's March Break. I ended up getting a little tour of their prints and photographs division (they were having an open house) and then on the recommendation of the curator there I headed up to the top floors for their great collection of contemporary art and then to the Galleria Italia, seen here:

It's part of the interior of the newly designed Frank Gehry building and it's really beautiful. It's about one city block long, very narrow, light and airy and just a nice place to sit (they had really comfortable chairs) and take in the art or the view out the windows of quirky victorian homes across the street. It was a lovely way to start my time in Toronto.

One of the best parts of this conference was that I got to catch up with colleagues from my old job at Harvard. I split my hotel room with my former boss, Spruill, and I had got to hang out with Bill and Shana, too. One of my favorite restaurants that I tried was called the Queen Mother Cafe, where Bill and Shana and I had a great meal on Wednesday night. The menu was eclectic, the clientele was eclectic, the decor was eclectic (although very Queen-themed) and the drinks were delicious! I got a local brew on draught: Amsterdam Dutch Amber.

Bill and Spruill and I squeezed in an afternoon visit to the Bata Shoe Museum:

It really is a museum of footwear. One of the funniest parts of the museum was this area they had where you could try on some different types of shoes. Here I am in a fancy pair of heels (with my socks on), Spruill clicking her heels in Ruby Slippers and Bill was a good sport and tried on the leopard print platform shoes.

And none of us could believe how big this boot was! Most of the museum was actually historic and educational, but there were a few examples of goofy footwear. In addition to this crazy boot, we also got to see a pair of "roller clogs". If you can imagine wooden clogs from Holland as a pair of quad skates, you get the general idea. It was such a fun afternoon!

I also went to the Gardiner Museum which focuses on ceramics and pottery, and that was also very interesting. Oh, and I went to the whole conference, too. There were some great sessions on new(er) technologies, a plenary session on copyright, interesting debates about cataloging images (yes, that can happen), a lunch for new professionals (that's me!) and many references to "surviving in a bad economy". It's great to see that places are still doing innovative and interesting things even in the face of budget cuts (and sometimes because of budget cuts). It will be interesting to see how this profession weathers the storm these days.

This is the view from my hotel room of the CN tower. I didn't get to go up in it because it's pretty expensive and I opted for museums instead.

It was also interesting to see how into Obama Canadians can be. This was a sign for a shop on Queen Street:

And while walking through Kensington Market on Saturday morning before I left I noticed many different Obama t-shirts for sale. It's awesome to see that people all over the world (or at least in North America) are interested in American politics in a positive way.

Overall, I had a great trip to Toronto. Coming home made me realize how much I miss living in a city environment where everything is walkable or there is public transportation to get you there. Not to mention the plethora of choices for food, live music, shopping, etc... Princeton seems even tinier after visiting such a great city!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Daffoldils = Spring!

Well, daffodils really equal spring when they are growing in your own yard, but when I saw these at Trader Joe's I couldn't pass them up. I ended up buying 30 stems and putting them all in one vase. It was so nice to have such spring-like color and scent in the house while it's still kind of chilly outside. We've had a few wonderful, sunny days in the high 60s, but it still gets pretty chilly, too. Hopefully spring will be here to stay sometime soon!


For my 30th Birthday my friend Ashley got me a bottle of Hendrick's Gin. I hadn't been saving it for a special occasion, but I also had never gotten around to opening it. So on March 12th, I busted it open in honor of 30 and 3/4 years and made myself a Hendrick's & Tonic while I was talking on the phone with Lee (It's like going out for drinks, but since we're in two different cities we drink over the phone).

The thing with Hendrick's is that it's actually better with cucumber than lime. Here is the official recipe from the Hendrick's website:

2 oz. Hendrick's Gin
Tonic Water

Pour Hendrick's Gin into highball glass over ice cubes
and fill with tonic water. Stir. Garnish with cucumber.

And that's it! Here is a photo of my drink with gin, tonic, star-shaped ice cubes and slices of cucumber in a gnome glass:

I'm telling you, this drink was wonderful. It was cooling and refreshing and much more flavorful than other gin and tonics that I've had. I'm hoping to try some other recipes that compliment the unique flavor of Hendrick's, and I'll be sure to write about them here as I try them out.

Soup & Games

On Sunday, March 8th I had a little Soup Swap Party where Mike, Meg, Kim and Alex came over with containers of frozen homemade soup (Meg actually brought brownies instead) and we traded varieties so we all left with different types of soup. Mike brought a roasted asparagus soup, Kim brought a lentil soup, Alex made his own veggie soup and I made a garlicy butternut squash soup. And we all got a taste of Meg's brownies.

After swapping and enjoying some yummy snacks, we settled in for some game playing. We played a few rounds of Apples to Apples and then a few rounds of Scattergories. It was a great excuse to have some friends over to my little apartment, and it almost felt like a housewarming party, too.

It worked out well because Mike and Meg came from NYC and Kim and Alex came from Philadelphia, so Princeton turned out to be a good half-way point for everyone. Hopefully we'll be able to meet up here again sometime soon.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Guitar Class

Tonight is the 4th week of my guitar class at the Princeton Adult School. It’s been an enjoyable class and last week I must have been feeling a little boisterous because I decided to pipe up with two little nuggets of information.

First, when the teacher was talking about mnemonic devices to help remember the notes on the strings of the guitar, I chimed in with this priceless one that I learned at my Passim guitar class: Every Acid Dealer Gets Busted Eventually. She had never heard this one and thought it was pretty witty. She liked how it had a good lesson in it, too. I had heard many different varieties of these mnemonics, but for some reason this is the one that sticks.

Second, as we were learning “Let It Be” I asked if she had ever heard the Sesame Street version, “Letter B”. She said No and I told her I would bring it in on CD if I could find it. Instead I found it on YouTube and emailed it to her. She thought it was pretty priceless and forwarded it to the rest of the class.

I might not be the best guitar player, but at least I’m full of useless, fun information.

Here is the view from my right hand while I'm practing on my couch:

Culinary Crush

I’ll admit it, I have a culinary crush on Mark Bittman. He’s the guy who wrote How to Cook Everything, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and most recently Food Matters. He writes the Minimalist column and the Bitten blog (which I read every day), both in the New York Times. A lot of the recipes I try come from either his books, blog or column. The bread recipes I made this weekend were out of …Everything Vegetarian and this recipe is from the Minimalist column.

When I saw the photo for this recipe, I had to know what was going on there. Once I read it, I knew I had to make it. It was really delicious. The combination is nothing I’d have come up with on my own, but it’s very refreshing and tasty, and SO easy to make. That’s kind of the point with a lot of the Bittman recipes: keep it simple, fresh and delicious.

See the Minimalist column here and the video for this recipe here.

La Zucca Magica’s Orange and Olive Salad
Time: 20 minutes

1 cup good oil-cured olives, pitted
1 teaspoon fresh thyme (optional) (I included this because I had some on hand and really liked this additional flavor.)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, more as needed
4 navel oranges, peeled and sliced into rounds
Fennel seeds (I didn’t use these, I didn’t have them on hand and am not a huge fennel fan in general)

1. In a food processor, combine olives and thyme with a bit of olive oil. Pulse machine once or twice, then turn it on and add remaining olive oil rather quickly; you want this puree on the rough side. Thin with more olive oil if necessary. (You can refrigerate this for up to a month). (I made the whole amount, but only used one orange and about ¼ of the olive puree to have with dinner. I'm sure I'll eat the rest in the next few days).

2. Layer 3 or 4 orange slices on each plate, drizzle with a little more olive oil, top with a tablespoon of the olive puree, and sprinkle with a few fennel seeds. Serve.

Yield: 4 servings.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Baking Bread: Part 2

Yesterday I went all out with the bread-baking and made one loaf of white bread and 12 cheddar-thyme dinner rolls. After a little research I found out that what Fleishman’s calls Bread Machine Yeast is basically the same thing as what Mark Bittman calls Instant Yeast. So I followed the same recipe as last week, but with Instant Yeast and this is what I got:

I used the same recipe for the cheddar-thyme dinner rolls, but after letting it rise once I kneaded in about a ½ cup of crumbled cheddar cheese and a little over a tablespoon of chopped fresh thyme. I made these to go with the butternut squash soup I made and they are SO delicious:

I also figured out that letting the dough rise on top of my radiator is the perfect way to get enough heat, but not too much. I think I have kicked my fear of making yeast bread and I’m looking forward to trying out some new things, maybe incorporating some wheat flour or trying some other additions. There is a bakery on my street that makes a wonderful rosemary bread that I’d love to try and focaccia is on my list, too. Let me know if you have any favorite bread recipes or other suggestions for a new-to-baking bread maker.