February 29, 2004

Dear friends,

Hell, hell, hell.  Hell r squared.  Hell with walnuts.  Last Thursday I woke up feeling tired and achy.  I spent the morning at work feeling warm and scattershot.  The devil on my left shoulder said, “whoops, don’t fool around with that; how ‘bout we skip the gym and go out for pad Thai instead?” The angel on my right said, “you’re just fooling yourself.  Go to the gym.” Go to the gym I did, where I wondered why my hourlong workout was taking six weeks to finish.

Friday morning I woke up with the kind of cough normally found in chainsmokers, old men and the people who always sit behind me at the theatre.  By this morning it had morphed into a full-blown head & chest one-two punch.  Funny how it’s always “just a cold” until it becomes your cold.

So with much apology, I am postponing tonight’s planned rant about the New York City Transit Authority, as well as the supplementary planned valentine to Nigel Slater, whose new memoir Toast:  The Story of a Boy’s Hunger is my relief-from-research reading.  Once I am back on my feed, I should be good for both of them.  Instead, I plan to eat my umpteenth bowl of chicken soup.  Maybe I’ll follow it up with a little roasted pineapple, roasted in a slow oven with sugar, a scraped vanilla bean and a little butter, good food for a low mood.

In the meantime, I’m going to issue a shameless plea for information, much like the ones one finds in the New York Times Book Review.  If anyone has any information about the Infinity Foundation in Princeton, NJ, please drop me a line.  I have found a book published under their auspices that may be helpful to me in establishing a timeline for poultry domestication, but I can’t seem to find any information about them other than that on their website.  I’d like to find a little independent corroboration before I go ahead and use them as a source.  If you can help me, you will earn my undying gratitude, the baked good of your choice and a big ol’ kiss—as soon as I am not contagious anymore, that is.  smile

Posted by Bakerina at 09:08 PM in stuff and nonsense • (1) Comments
February 28, 2004

What a friend I have in goliard.  She is true-blue, stalwart, a bit of all right and a pearl of a girl.  I had mentioned to her, in passing, that the much-vaunted chocolate orgasm I was planning to have last weekend never came to pass.  Lest you start wondering just what I get up to on the weekends, let me assure you that the c.o. is a totally innocent endeavor involving a pilgrimage to Bomboy’s Candy in Havre de Grace, MD.  Havre de Grace is a sweetheart of a town in Harford County, on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay, one of the prettiest spots in the world.  My paternal parents (dad and stepmom) live in Havre de Grace, where they just bought a splendid new house, and last weekend I went to their housewarming party.  Since I am a Girl Scout by nature, I spent the weekend playing bakerina, or, more accurately, caterina, grilling chicken, keeping plates of horse doovers nice and full, opening wine bottles, directing people to the deck/restrooms/cooler where the ice is kept, and making pleasant conversation with 60 of my folks’ closest friends.  Unfortunately, this left no time for going to Bomboy’s.  Oh, well, I thought, there’s always Father’s Day weekend.

Father’s Day, nuthin’.  Guess what my friendly UPS guy brought me yesterday, nestled in packing peanuts, wrapped snugly in a crisp white set box with gold hot stamping.  I think I actually hummed as I opened the box.  Bomboy’s caramels are as close to perfect as you will ever have in your life, but my favorite is the “sponge”, or honeycomb toffee.  When you bite into it, you can see that the toffee forms a grid, candy and air in a crosshatch pattern.  I’m still trying to figure out how they do this, but I never get very far because I get too distracted by that lovely toffee and that fine chocolate melting between tongue and palate.  Even the nut clusters, normally the wallflowers of the chocolate box, are terrific, thanks to the spanking-fresh nuts Bomboy’s always uses.  And I’m still kicking myself for turning over the chocolate-covered marshmallow to Lloyd so quickly.  I was never a fan of those “jet-puffed” marshmallows that Kraft sells in big bags, so I always eschew the marshmallows in any set.  This time, though, Lloyd bit into it and said, “oh, this tastes really fresh.” It was better than fresh.  It was homemade.  If you have only had those Kraft marshmallows, you are in for a treat when you first try the real thing.  A small-batch marshmallow is less gummy, softer, less sweet, more buttery (even though butter is not used in their preparation).  Damn.  Next time I’ll know better.

I was going to rabbit on a little more about what a mood elevator chocolate is; about how I woke up this morning with a nasty cough, the latest iteration of the viral cloud that’s been hovering around here for the past six weeks; how I decided to heat up a little maple syrup for our waffles and, in a moment of distraction, let it overboil and could only watch in dismay as syrup cascaded over the pan; how despite all this I was happy because I had my Bomboy’s choc, but that would be wrong, wrong, wrong.  I was happy because there is a silly girl in my life, and she, dear friends, is a mood elevator.

A postscript:  As if the chocolates were not enough, she also sent me a link to the quiz below.  I really can’t say I’m surprised by the results, although you will have to decide for yourself if I’m a goth, a satanist or a Mormon.  smile

I’m a Heretic!

Which Enemy of the Christian Church Are You?

Take More of Robert & Tim’s Quizzes
Watch Robert & Tim’s Cartoons

Posted by Bakerina at 11:08 AM in valentines • (0) Comments
February 26, 2004

Dear friends,

Yesterday I received an e-mail from a very dear friend indeed.  She is not only a friend but a baking mentor.  I’d been worshipping her from afar, in the form of her contributions to other people’s cookbooks, for about ten years before I’d met her, so when I finally did meet her, I was so nervous and excited you’d have thought I was meeting Cal Ripken.  It turns out that in a field that is filled with too many people who are kind and funny on the page only to be grouchy and entitled in real life, her written voice *is* her spoken voice, and she is every bit as friendly and funny and smart and just plain good in the flesh as she is in print.

Since she was instrumental in helping me win the WCDH fellowship, I’d written her back in January to let her know I’d won, but I had not told her about the ensuing employment drama.  So I wrote her early yesterday morning before leaving for work, filling her in on all of it.  Last night I had something waiting in my in-box when I came home.  I will not quote her whole letter, but I’ll give you one of the best lines, so typical of her:  “Sometimes you have to step off the cliff and trust that you will be the Road Runner, rather than Wile E. Coyote.”

“Can you come in here for a minute?”, boss’s boss said to me as I walked my walk through the packaging minefields, as I do at this time every day.

Dear friends, I will not be unemployed this July.  Or if I am, it won’t be because of this fellowship, because LuthorCorp said yes.

Meep.  Meep.

Posted by Bakerina at 05:42 PM in stuff and nonsense • (1) Comments
February 25, 2004

I know that this chicken/egg theme can be carried too far, but this is just too beautiful not to share.  One of my pals gave me a set of notecards that have photographs of the most beautiful chickens I have ever seen.  The photographs come from a new book, The Fairest Fowl:  Portraits of Championship Chickens, taken by a terrific photographer named Tamara Staples.  You can see more examples of her work here.  It’s all great stuff, but I particularly like this photo of this bruiser of a Dark English Large Fowl—check out those feet!—and I am enchanted by this Bearded White Silkie Bantam.  I look at these amazing birdies, and I can’t stop smiling.

Posted by Bakerina at 11:28 PM in • (1) Comments • (0) Trackbacks

Remember the days when I used to be made cranky by advertising, or mean people in the subway, and I would come home and write encyclopedic rants about them?  Me, neither.  Dear friends, I’ll get this new writing schedule figured out somehow.  I’m sorry.

Last night in my culinary history survey class at the New School, the instructor asked if I would be interested in doing a trial run of my lecture for our last class.  Sure!, I said merrily, not remembering until later that our last class is on March 16.  Gulp.

My evil plan is to bring food with me, namely the things I plan to make at the demo class, such as brioche and/or brioche-based desserts like bienenstich and russenzopf, maybe a Sally Lunn or two, a pot of lemon curd, maybe a nice big flan, or maybe the odd souffle for 20, and just feed everyone into an egg-based coma, at which point I can lull them to sleep in my own squeaky-voiced, hypnotic way, and no one will care about the historical lecture part of the evening.  It’s worth a try.

Posted by Bakerina at 09:16 PM in incoherent ravings about food • (2) Comments
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