the problem with bangs

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Often we think/hope/believe we look like this:

When in reality we look like this:

There's a fine line, right?

Oh, bangs: you kill me. When you're good, you're so good. And when you suck? You're Spicoli.

Happy Weekend:)
{top image from Pinterest}

wilted kale asian chicken salad

Monday, July 23, 2012

Happy Monday, Lovelies:)

How about a healthy and yummy meal after the gluttony of the weekend?

Remember last week when I said that a certain chocolate cake curbs melancholy? Well. While that is true, if you eat too much of it, the melancholy returns. Just about the time your can't fit into your pants. So let's get healthy! (At least until the next wave of carbohydrate deliciousness washes us away.)

Who's with me?

Lately I've had some requests from friends for easy easy EASY dinners and this one would have to take the cake. (get it?) Bonus: this is so good for you.

Kale and Brown Rice Bowl with Chicken
4 generous servings

I always have a few asian condiments on hand: Siracha, Brown rice vinegar, tamari (or soy sauce), and toasted sesame oil. Gomasio (a mixture of toasted sesame seeds and sea salt that you can shake on anything) is also SO good and perks anything right up. These ingredients are so handy to have around because they make any simple food quickly delicious. Sprinkle this stuff on fish or chicken, any vegetable or grain or salad and it instantly has specific dimensional flavor. We often order steamed chicken and broccoli via Chinese take-out and toss in all those flavors above. So delicious and a great way to watch the salt/sugar content with delivery food.

1 bunch dinosaur kale, de-stemmed and chopped (about 6 heaping cups)
2 carrots, peeled and grated
3T brown rice vinegar
2 T olive oil
2 1/2 T toasted sesame oil
2 t tamari or soy sauce
several twists of black pepper
1 1/2 cups hot brown rice  (I love the Trader Joe's frozen organic version--the packets are 1 1/2 cups each and cook in the microwave in three minutes flat. Perfect for weeknight dinners.)
2 heaping cups cooked, shredded chicken (I used all the white meat from one small rotisserie chicken)
1-2 T gomasio (or just sesame seeds)
Siracha (or other hot sauce) to taste

Place kale and carrots in a large bowl. Toss with vinegar, oils, tamari and ground pepper. Add the hot rice and stir--this will wilt the kale a bit. Add the chicken (either hot or room temperature) and a the gomasio and season with Siracha to taste. Adjust seasoning to your liking.

Serve hot, warm or cold. Also, the kale holds up really well even after it's dressed so this is just as good the second day too.


chocolate zucchini cake

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I've been preparing for a theatrical show these last few weeks and finally came up for air yesterday after wrapping up our first weekend of performances. It's been a delicious whirlwind of stress and rehearsals and fun and nerves and friends and late nights and adrenaline. I have a little moment to catch my breath before the final round of shows this weekend and despite the relief, I feel a wave of melancholy. The coming down from all of it. No human can sustain that amount of energy for very long before it demands to balance itself out. And there's both a comfort and a sadness in going back to normal life. While your body and spirit need the normal, it feels pale in comparison at first. I immediately was catapulted back to those post-show blues I had so often as a teen and young adult. There was always that unique let-down after a show closed. It's different than TV or film. Theatre is so magical because of its inherent impermanence; only the people who were there to witness it know what happened, and that it happened. There's no reel clip or netflix rental or imdb credit.

Years ago I sang and danced in a Broadway musical for the better part of a lovely year. The show was (and still is) one of my top life experiences, yet after hundreds of performances it had become a bit of a grind. I was merely 20 and spent a good chunk of my week rehabilitating my tired dancer's body. I had started to develop repetitive injuries from some of the numbers--namely, a certain grueling polka that was the bane of my existence. It was fast and furious, jarring my bones and threatening to toss off my wig eight shows a week. So when the end of its run was approaching I felt a tremendous surge of excitement and possibility; I was young and excited for the next thing. The show closed with a giant flourish and after a week of much needed rest, I didn't know what to do with myself. I had such an odd feeling of displacement. I cried. I walked past the closed theatre and felt so territorial--how could another show inhabit its insides? I missed the routine and the giddy audience and the fierce camaraderie of my show family. I missed the craggy doorman and the in-between-show matzoh-balls and sharing cab rides home. I also started to miss the annoying things-- the watery coffee and stale bagels from the corner deli. Walking past heaps of slow-poke tourists in Times Square. The hot exhaust vent from the Chinese-food restaurant next to the stage door.  I even missed my polka.


One of my generous cast-mates gifted me an obscenely large zucchini so I made a cake. With zucchini. And chocolate. (Chocolate is good for melancholy, turns out.)


Chocolate Zucchini Cake
adapted from Epicurious
serves 8

Even though zucchini is in its abundant season, I'm pretty sure it can't be considered Eating Seasonally to hide it in a cake and douse it in chocolate. Perhaps worse? Rationalizing the consumption of multiple slices simply because it contains vegetables. They're not for naught, though. They discreetly make this cake super-deliciously moist.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I love Sharfen Berger)
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted room temperature butter
1/2 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups grated unpeeled zucchini (about 2)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350.  Butter and flour a 10" springform pan (*alternatively, a 13x9x2 baking pan or an 8-cup bundt pan). Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt into medium bowl. Beat the sugar, butter and oil in an electric mixer until well blended. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. Add the vanilla. Mix in the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk in 3 additions each. Gently mix in zucchini. Pour batter into buttered pan and sprinkle the chocolate chips and nuts on top (unless you are making a bundt, in which case mix the chips and nuts into the batter). Bake about 60 minutes or until tester inserted comes out clean. Cool completely before serving if you can stand it.


strawberry oven pancake

Monday, July 9, 2012

Neighborhood Rules:

*If you're pretty sure your neighbor witnessed you doing some topless mopping while belting Les Misérables, avoid him like the plague for a solid four months and then pretend like nothing happened. Pretend. Like. Nothing.

*If a neighbor witnesses your dog pooping in their grass, apologize sheepishly even though all parties concerned (especially the dog) know it's going to happen again. Probably tomorrow if not sooner.

*If someone has a new baby, make them one of these.

*If the Neighborhood Watch Captain corners you to report that the seemingly normal neighbor-guy down the street indeed has an axe and a restraining order against him, make her one of these.

*If someone puts old dirty furniture or mattresses on the curb, it's okay to judge them.

*If you see a neighbor in another location other than the neighborhood, don't panic. You can either say hello or hide in the frozen foods section. Either is completely appropriate. Remember: you're in a unique position to confirm your suspicions about someone by what they have in their cart. Like, say, a pack-rat's amount of paper towels or Cool Whip. In either of those cases, it's okay to judge them.

*Know that if you choose to wear pajama bottoms while walking your dog, people can see you despite your fancy sunglasses. You will be judged. If that's okay with you, walk with your head held high. Unless your neighbor spies your pooping dog (see above).

*If you see a perfectly good lemon in the gutter, take it. It's fair game.

You'll need/want to squeeze it on this killer pancake.

Strawberry Oven Pancake
adapted from Lellie DeBoer
serves 2 normal people or 1 glutton (FYI: occasional gluttony is always normal)

This breakfast is SO easy and yummy and super fancy looking!

3T butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1/4 t salt
1/4 t ground cinnamon
3/4 cup sliced strawberries
lemon wedges & lots of powdered sugar for serving

Preheat oven to 400. Place butter in a nonstick pie pan, cake pan or cast iron skillet (8-10") and set aside. Beat the eggs and add in the milk, flour, salt and cinnamon. Whisk until major lumps are obliterated. Stick the pan with the butter in the oven and standby while it melts. This will happen fast and you don't want the butter to burn. If it browns slightly, this is a nice bonus. When all the butter is melted, carefully remove the pan from the oven and add the batter. Place it back in the oven for about 12 minutes, add the strawberries and bake another 4-5 minutes, until the sides are puffed and golden. Squeeze with lemon and douse with copious amounts of powdered sugar through a sieve. Serve immediately.


P.S. If you're in LA, come see me in this show!

janae's roasted curried cauliflower

Monday, July 2, 2012

I wonder if men know how many butt squeezes we ladies do in all these workout classes we attend.  They should just group all those Bar classes and Barre classes and Pilates classes and Sculpting classes together and just call it AN HOUR OF BUTT SQUEEZE. Am I right? 

I took a Pilates class from a new teacher this past weekend and during some of those said squeezes, she was reminding the class to "pretend you have a quarter in there and you don't wanna drop it!!" Then she proceeded to talk about a particular day in class she actually passed out quarters for everyone to squeeze.


"That's why you should always wash your hands after you handle money," I offered, imagining being shamed into placing a quarter down my sweaty pants in a workout class I was paying good money for.

"Ha ha!" She said. "No! I had them hold the quarter between their ankles!!"

The thing is: she didn't sound that horrified. Like maybe I was giving her a bright idea.

Later, we were knee-deep in an inner-thigh torture routine. "Most people only get 50% out of this exercise," She said, "But I'm gonna tell you how to get 100% out of it! Lift up, tuck your pelvis under, squeeze those inner thighs, squeeze those glutes, and most importantly, squeeze your She."

My SHE?  

I think she saw my confused face.

"Your She! You know, down there." Her eyes bulged as she nodded downward.

Instead of asking questions I just kept on squeezing.

So in honor of our lady flowers, let's make some cauliflower! (Too soon?)

I know: I'm terrible.

Roasted Curried Cauliflower
recipe from Janae Bakken (Thanks, Janae!)
serves 4 as a side dish

I know: it's summer. So why on earth would I be asking you to roast cauliflower? Because it's delicious. I hereby decree that cauliflower shall be roasted year-round. My lovely friend Janae served this dish at a dinner party and it was such a hit that I can't remember one other thing we ate that night. It's got this perfect combo of spiciness and tangy-ness and roasty-ness that makes it easy to forget that it's super healthy.

1 head cauliflower, washed and cut into 1-2" pieces
2T olive oil
2T lemon juice
1 1/2 t ground cumin
1 1/2 t curry powder
1 garlic clove, minced
1t kosher salt plus sea salt for finishing
1/2 t freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400. Make a vinaigrette with the oil, lemon juice, cumin, curry powder, garlic, salt and pepper. Whisk well. Add the cauliflower and toss until well coated. Spread out onto a baking sheet, making sure the pieces aren't too close together (or they'll steam instead of roast). Bake for 15 minutes, give the pieces a jostle/flip, drizzling a bit more evoo if they seem dry. Bake for an additional 7-8 minutes, or until tender but not too mushy. Serve hot.

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