Sunday, May 31, 2009

Meet TED

My dear saltinies,

If you have not met Ted- you're missing out. Please. People are doing amazing things, and you need to hear about it. It's for your own good.


Saturday, May 30, 2009

The big spoon theory

It's pretty simple: the bigger the spoon (fork, spork...utensil) you eat with, the more you will eat. I have no idea if it's true but it dawned on me this morning that it might be. Here's how the lightning bolt hit me: I'm a teaspoon girl, tried and true. I don't use the bigger of the two spoons (the tablespoon, I'm assuming) ever unless I'm serving something. However, Mr.Mr. is the exact opposite. He's a big spoon guy and if provided a little spoon, he'll actually get up from the table and get himself a new [bigger] one. If I think really hard, I'm not sure I can come up with a time when my childhood dinner table was ever set with larger spoons. Whereas Mr.Mr. has told me many times about his afterschool ritual of pouring cereal into a mixing bowl and going to town. And understandably- you would need a big spoon for that job. ...I'm taking too long to get to the point.

So- there were no small spoons for me this morning. Every last one of them was in the dishwasher and I was hungry for my morning bowl of FMV Flakes (also known as "poverty flakes" around chez Salty since they're only $0.99 a box). So I figured, hey, no big deal- I'll just use a big spoon. Wrong. The first bite I tried to take nearly required an additional hand stretching my mouth open in order to accommodate the massive scoop of cereal. And my sisters will tell you, it's not for lack of a big mouth. You see, I was loading the spoon up the way I would with a small spoon. Only in a big spoon, that meant about twice the amount of food going into the old piehole. And I got to thinking. If the theory about smaller plates equalling smaller meals is true, the same should hold water for the size of your utensil. A small fork can only balance so much pasta/salad/chicken/whatever and you'd never dip your giant spoon into a bowl of soup and only fill it a third of the way. And because we all eat so fast, we're done with our food (care of our aforementioned giant utensils) before we can blink and of course we're still hungry. Am I right? Come to think of it, I imagine if you paid attention, you'd notice restaurant utensils are usually on the large side as well.

So as part of my general efforts to eat well and within reason, not only try to remember to breath in between each bite, drink more water, and finish chewing and put down my utensil before going back to the plate for more... I will I continue to use my small spoons. Now if only I could get someone to test this theory. I'm certain there's a press release from the FDA just waiting to be published on this one.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Put a smile on your face

(click to enlarge)

Is the email I got back in response to my email regarding a craigslist ad for a free eames-style chair and ottoman. The posting specified it would be removed when the chair was taken so I figured I had a shot. And who would pass up something like that? So I get this reply and oddly- rather than getting completely annoyed that some random stranger would send me this bite-sized (no pun intended) directive... I barely blinked and kept scrolling through my inbox as if it had been another email offering to enlarge my penis. Mr.Mr. insists I send a reply and kindly recommend the sender "eat poop" but I've refused despite his nagging that I really should  be reacting in a more shocked way. Actually, I've managed to get quite a few laughs out of the whole thing since then. 

The fact is, someone took time out of their day to tell me- a complete stranger, to "eat poop." That's like saying, "eat butt" - and it's about as offensive. If they had just changed a few measly letters, delivering a more profane message- I would be singing a different tune entirely. So thank you, mister/ms. - you totally made my week.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Words of wisdom

"One of the worst traps
is finding yourself
despising someone
really good.

There they are
wearing a miniskirt
talking dirty
but washing
the filthy
feeding the hungry
defending the poor
befriending the dead.

& all you can
say in your

their bleached hair
& studded
hardly goes
with so much

-Alice Walker (from Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Is it just me...

Or are these two eerily similar?
(Comedian Joan Rivers of ABC's Celebrity Apprentice and the puppet face mask from the SAW movie franchise.)
This particular resemblance struck me as I watched the train wreck that is Donald Trump as he one by one, solicited opinions and feedback from booted contestants and then summarily insulted, cut off, or dismissed them entirely. How exactly, does anyone take that man seriously? ... And let's not even get into his hair.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Work in progress

I've recently been trying to learn how to balance my desire to be fit (eat right, go for walks, go to the gym, sleep enough)- with my desire to be creative (stay up late, snack intermittently, watch tv while I work, stay indoors huddled over my table). You would think I could do both but strangely I have yet to master that. It seems my window of opportunity for any type of forward momentum (be it physical or mental/creative), is a rather small one that typically occurs during sunlight hours. I've tried all types of routines lately... each for more than a couple of weeks and at least one for almost a month. To no avail. You would think with all the time in the world on my hands I could sort out my own circadian rhythm- but it eludes me still.

In the meantime I've begun work on a new collage. It's anchored in a photo of three small girls standing together, and I started sketching out an idea for it in my moleskin about three months ago. Finally, the piece is slowly coming to fruition. Here's a sneak peek at the subjects... more to follow once it's complete.

I love the little girl on the left. She's got a massive mess of hair framing her face and if you could see the rest of the image, you'd be charmed by her proud rotundness as she stands with hands tucked neatly behind her tilted torso. The girl on the right reminds me of a young Jackie Onassis. And it's hard to tell but the eldest of the three has the slightest smile playing across her lips that I rather enjoy as well. Potential a plenty.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Human feats

This is really long but play it in the background while you check your email and just remind yourself from time to time that these are people... not machines making these noises.

I really need to learn a skill... stat.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

I can't wait

Tomorrow night I will have the esteemed honor of hearing this man speak on the subject of "The Transformative Power of Reconciliation in Society." Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu is a well known religious, political, and social figure renowned the world over for his equal rights work. I'm not certain I can bring a camera to the event but I'll definitely be taking notes because... and I'm just guessing here- he's probably got some very important things to say.
If there are tickets still available I'd highly recommend joining me. Er, I mean, me and Mr. Tutu.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Sisterhood of the traveling [fat] pants

Okay folks. Do the math with me: 9 days divided by 9 pounds = NOT COOL. It would appear that while I gallivanted around the East Coast splinting days between siblings and palling around with the parents- I managed put on some serious weight. Perhaps they were sympathetic pounds for my sister who just gave birth? Oh wait- that's supposed to happen before the baby is born. Riiiiight.

So I'm stressing the seams on my fat pants and am resolving to get back into the gym, cut back on sweets, and generally eat more healthily. I'm hopeful I can stick to my guns but it ain't gonna be easy. When you love to bake as much as I do- it's hard to resist the sweet strains of a chocolate spice cake with hazelnut toffee sauce and toasted salt and pepper pecans or chewy molasses cookies encrusted with chunky sanding sugar (a la Not Martha). I made both this week for hospitality's sake, the former for a dinner we hosted at the house and the latter we brought to a friends house for a showing of Caprica.

The cake itself has risen to superstar dessert status in our house for its delicious decadence and crowd-pleaser promise. So, in order to free myself from the benevolent curse of being "only one who can bake it" which of course means I get to lick the spoons clean and snatch up errant crumbs, I am posting the recipe here for all to use. I guarantee you will love it. Almost as much as I do... if that's even possible.

1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (+ extra for dusting pan)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
a pinch of salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 - 1 tsp ground ginger (depending on your love of ginger)
1 1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup safflower or canola oil
2 large eggs, beaten
2/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

(Preheat oven to 350 and prepare baking pan (or cupcake pan) with nonstick spray and a dusting of unsweetened cocoa powder.)

Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ground ginger into a large bowl. Mix in the sugar and make a hollow in the center.

Put the oil, eggs, sour cream, and applesauce in another bowl and beat well. Add to the hollow in the dry ingredients and stir gently until thoroughly mixed.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 30-45 minutes depending on the pan (less for cupcakes, more for a sheet cake or bundt cake), or until a skewer inserted in the thickest part of the cake comes out clean.

Let cool in the pan for 10-20 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and let cool. Serve at room temperature or slightly warm. Leftovers can be stored for about a week in an airtight container.

Hazelnut Toffee Sauce (adapted from same)
3/4 cup firmly packed moist light brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
3/4 tsp Frangelico or other hazelnut liquor

Put the sugar, butter, and cream in a small saucepan and heat gently until melted. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 3 minutes until thick and toffee-like. (I never really get to a super-thick state but it tastes delicious either way...) Pour into a heatproof pitcher and let cool. Stir in the vanilla and liquor. Depending on the final consistency, pour or spread over your cake to serve.

Toasted Salt and Pepper Pecans

1 1/2 cup shelled pecans (halved, whole, or crumbled)
1 tbsp salt
3 or 4 grinds of fresh pepper from a shaker
a few shots of canola cooking spray
Heat pecans in a nonstick pan over medium until you begin to smell the toastiness. Evenly spray the pecans lightly with canola oil spray and toss to just barely cover. Add salt and pepper and toss gently over medium heat until pecans are slightly browned. Remove from heat and transfer the pecans to a bowl. Either chop, crush, or pulverize as desired and sprinkle with wild abandon over your toffee covered cake.

*This book was a fantastic find and I would recommend it to anyone- though not at the price listed at Amazon. I've had nothing but success with all of the recipes I've made, including the Citrus Summer Cake (see photo) and the tangy Lemon Curd. If you're in a pinch and need a fantastic, easy cake- I'd pick up this book.