Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Dear Boo,

Last weekend I took a jaunt down to Baltimore for our friends' wedding at the Baltimore Museum of Industry. There were four couples (including us) who would be making the trip down from NYC and in a stroke of genius (or cheapness), one of our party suggested we rent a cargo van (aka one of those 14 passenger vans that looks kind of like a kidnapper van with more windows) for the trip down. Early Sunday morning we arrived at the rental place ready for our adventure.

But let me back up. One of the members of our group was Chef Josh of the Boyfriend Birthday dinner fame, who the day before had called me to say "Hey I just bought a bunch of concord grapes and I'm about to make some jelly if you want to come over." I, unfortunately had to tutor but caught the end of the jelly making show and now have a beautiful jar of my very own sitting on our counter. In the midst of the jelly making that night, Josh called me into the other room in a very serious tone and showed me a map he had found on roadfood.com of our driving route and all the places we might eat at along the way. Bless his heart. We settled on a place for a lunch of Maryland crabs since how can one go to Baltimore and not eat crabs?? Roadfood suggested OBrycki's which I remembered reading about on one of my fave blogs, The Amateur Gourmet a week earlier. Done and done. The next morning we met up bright and early, and Josh and Kate had brought sullivan street bread for our portable breakfast of baguette smeared with butter and concord-habanero jam. mmm. Also a loaf for the Bride's father. Cute. And off we went!!

Boo: at this point I am bleary with road trip jealousy. I want crabs!! Yeah I said it.

After getting just the tiniest bit lost, we navigated our way to Obrycki's where we shrugged off our slightly less than friendly waitress' suggestion to order a boatload of food for a @#$%ton of money in order to taste everything and instead went for a dozen of the large crabs to share plus some supplemental items to carry us over for the 3 or so hours before we'd be eating. again.

After we donned our bibs, Josh gave us a crash course in how to extract the meat from the beauties which had been plopped down on our paper-covered table. Basically, you have to be ruthless. I found I am not in the least bit squeamish about ripping their backs off and tearing their lungs out. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do. They were delicious. Sweet and rich meat eaten with my fingers which were quickly covered in the thick paste of spicy seasoning that clung to the shells. One crab doesn't offer a ton of meat, but it's so rich that I filled up quickly. Of course that may also have something to do with the bag of pretzels I ate in the car, the bowl of creamy clam chowder I shared with the Boyfriend, the pint of Obrycki's lager, and the handful of french fries I had. Oh, and these peel and eat shrimp we ordered....

I realize they don't look like much here but man were they good. Well ordered all around.

And here is some of the destruction I managed to catch with my dirty fingers smearing old bay on my poor camera.

Squeezing into my dress was not exactly what I felt like doing after this meal, but so I did. The wedding was gorgeous. A perfectly beautiful day on the harbor in Baltimore watching the sun set over the happy couple. Joy and love enough to make the very Grinch well up. The party favors were little personalized jars of honey on our tables which certain members of our group opened and poured on the buttered rolls during dinner and then accidentally dropped and smashed one in the museum parking lot and then accidentally dropped and smashed one on the hotel lobby floor around 2 in the morning. Note from Boo: What were they made out of? Crab chips? I danced so much the strap on my dress broke, and had a snack of utz crab chips from our welcome bag before bed. Boo: Crab chips .Ew. Suffice it to say, we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly.

There was much fast food consumed on the ride back to NYC on Monday. It is a sign of my body's desperation for vegetables that I opted for a baked potato at your favorite, Roy Rogers. Boo: You mean the Fixin's Bar didn't help. I didn't think it was possible to make a bad baked potato. Well folks, anything's possible.

Congratulations to Abby and Jeremy!!!!!!!!!!!

The Mouse

P.S. You'll appreciate the fact that our van had been christened with a sticker by the rock band "Jesus Knievel" (self-dubbed "The Nation's Leader in Pelvic Rock") who I think haunted our trip in the form of Nathan's cheese fries and Roy Rogers fried chicken. Though really, what's more rock and roll then crabs? Sorry, I had to. Please do yourself a favor and check out JK's myspace page. In fact, go back right now and play track 1 while you read this post. It'll add a whole new depth to the story.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

**Breaking News** Cindy McCain's Butterscotch Plagiarism

Dear Mouse,

" I think you're a fabulist." - Crawl: Fade to White by .Sheila Callaghan
Oh. The. Hilarity.

Holy Republicans, Batman ... You heard it here first folks! In keeping with her husband's, shall we say, commitment to "truthiness", Mrs. McCain proved she is no mean fabulist herself.

A surplus of butterscotch chips in my house led me to the internet to find recipes. Huh - one of the hits was titled "Cindy McCain's butterscotch cookies".
Well, that's funny in itself, I thought, picturing us munching them during an evening with MoveOn.org making calls for Obama - when I saw THIS NEXT POST, titled "Cindy McCain Cooks up More Controversy".

Read about it HERE.

After publishing her supposed down-home, original recipe butterscotch concoction in Family Circle and a few other mags, it comes out that the woman stole the recipe! from HERSHEY's, no less.

"Oh, they'll never find this one out.. it's merely an obscure manufacturer of sweets who might only publish its recipes on MOST of its bags..."

THEN I realized that the bag of 'scotch chips I have in the kitchen is one such bag.

So I checked.

And (but for a slightly different butter measurement, I think?) it is indeed the same recipe, published as "Oatmeal Scotchies".

In her defense, how many ways are there really to make butterscotch oatmeal cookies? Aw. I guess that just makes this "Gotcha" Blogging. I'll probably make them anyway.

The Boo
P.S. I made them. And then gave all of them away as they are WAY too sweet for me. Live and learn.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Yom KipPoor Me: a live blogging/fasting experiment

ladies & gentlemen... the ubiquitous Jell-O mold.

Dear Mouse,

L'Shana Tova (is that right?) As you know last week we ate our way through the High Holidays with our loving and varying-degrees-of-Jewish family.

Well, ate and didn't eat, as we chronicle below. After the apples-and-honey feasting of the New Year comes the Day of Atonement known as Yom Kippur, which is traditionally observed by fasting until sundown and then breaking the fast with the fam. Now, I usually say "fast , schmast" and just come eat bagels for dinner with the rest of you. This year was different. The results are chronicled below.

On Wed, Oct 8, 2008 at 9:46 PM

Boo to Mouse and Mom: i am fasting tomorrow for the first time ever. That is all. And there is challah being baked in my apartment. An interesting combination.

The Mouse: me too! i did it last year and will attempt to do it again!


On Thu, Oct 9, 2008 at 10:19 AM
The Mom: ....i'm already hungry......

Thu, October 9, 2008 10:25 AM
The Mouse: me too. it's totally psychological. last year it was so easy! i think I shouldn't have eaten so late last nihgt....also, for the record, i'm having coffee. minimal milk.

Thu, October 9, 2008 10:26 AM

The Boo:that is a big part of it. .. I ate at like 5PM yesterday, then went to the movies and that was it for eating. May have juice if i feel i will pass out or something.

Thu, Oct 9, 2008 at 10:55 AM
The Mom: well, you're really doing it...i ate last night -hi girls...will leave here at 2ish? unless I just decide to make it here in the portable oven in a springform pan. Note from Boo: Make what, you ask?
OK here's what she was talking about.

The E 62nd Street Lemon Cake.

Thu, Oct 9, 10:56 AM
Mouse to Boo: good luck....


On Thu, Oct 9, 2008 at 11:57 AM
The Boo: first rumble.

On Thu, Oct 9, 2008 at 11:59 AM
The Mouse: FIRST?? I really shouldn't have eaten so late last night. Always makes me wake up hungry. (not to mention it's not kosher--ha)

On Thu, Oct 9, 2008 at 12:02 PM
The Boo: it's not? hm. yeah. I think that does affect it.

On Thu, Oct 9, 2008 at 12:05
The Mouse: well the holiday starts at sundown last night. so technically that's when you should stop eating. (nice--"stop eating", not "start fasting". Belly half empty, not half full.)

On Thu, Oct 9, 2008 at 12:17 PM
The Boo: well, that's what i did! so that works. and at sundown tonight I will be a woman made of white fish salad. Do you know my favorite joke?

Did you hear about the jewish kid who was adopted by native Americans?
They call him White Fish

On Thu, Oct 9, 2008 at 12:20PM
The Mouse: ha. i have heard that.
oh why did you have to mention white fish salad??
yesterday i ate mexican, chinese, and pizza all in one day. really i should be fasting regardless of the holiday.

On Thu, Oct 9, 2008 at 12:27 PM The Boo: sorry. it's only a matter of hours.
and yes, you should! How did you manage that? Ha!

On Thu, Oct 9, 2008 at 12:30 PM
The Mouse: right. only a few hours.
maybe i'll take a nap.
well it wasn't on purpose. we had mexican for lunch (i just had a light-ish salad), then we went to a show last night and didn't have time to eat dinner, so we had a quick SNACK of chinese leftovers (small plate and all vegetarian), and then after the show we went out for a drink and snacks at Pasita whose menu is mostly small grilled pizzas. of which i had alittle. how's that for justification?
i just stood up to go get a snack from the kitchen. totally automatic.

On Thu, Oct 9, 2008 at 12:53 PM
The Boo: Oh that is not bad.
Please do not mention small grilled pizzas.


On Thu, Oct 9, 2008 at 1:15 PM
The Mouse:
it occurs to me that we might be too hungry to be funny or interesting enough for live blogging.


Thu, Oct 9, 2008 at 3:00PM
The Boo:
I am having a carrot juice.

Thu, Oct 9, 2008 at 3:05 PM
The Mouse: OMG! The Boo breaks down.

Thu, Oct 9, 2008 at 3:20 PM
The Boo: What? The juice?! That doesn't count. And I'm exercising.

Thu, October 9, 2008 3:52 PM
The Mouse: juice counts! and the point of the fast isn't supposed to be for dietetic purposes, so, exercise, schmexercise. :)

Thu, October 9, 2008 3:55 PM
The Boo: There are many kinds of fasts. Some are no calorie, no intake of anything. Some are liquid only. It was suggested to me that I have some juice as even the Master cleanse has some calories from the syrup to keep you going. Maybe I was wrong, but I felt it was smart. And I still feel I have been able to fast as I have had no solid food from last night. I dont think this counts as a failure of willpwer.

Thu, October 9, 2008 3:53 PM
The Boo: I's more of a fast than I have ever managed, anyway. so that has to count for something. Anyway don't know why this matters so much to me except possibly low blood sugar. But hey.

Thu, October 9, 2008 3:54 PM
The Boo: and I walked three miles. Anyway, I'm going to an audition. Wil see you tonight.

On Thu, Oct 9, 2008 at 4:20 PM
The Mouse: woah! i was joking! and who cares!! i think your blood sugar is LOW.

On Thu, Oct 9, 2008 at 4:37 PM
The Boo: it definitely is. hence the juice.

On Thu, Oct 9, 2008 at 4:44 PM The Mouse: OMG eat something. you are making yourself crazy.


Boo: Well, Mouse, what did we learn? Here's mine:

Fasting is really not as hard as I thought. Helps if you don't eat late dinner. I love white fish salad and hate chopped liver. Homemade challah rocks. Pickled salmon is too intense for me, and I always thought I'd eat pickled hat rack if someone offered it. Lastly, we are really lucky to have the choice of whether or not to eat a meal. That really came home to me during the break-fast and that, I guess, is the point.

Mouse: Well I definitely realized how much I take food for granted. I eat fast, and often, and frequently without even being hungry. I don't always slow down to appreciate each bite. But a day of not eating really makes you value every mouthful. And without getting too corny here, it makes you value the fact that we are blessed with the means to feed ourselves and do it well and often and whenever we like, the healthy body with which to savor it, and the family and friends to share it with. Some might criticize our fast and subsequent feast for being done without correct religious intentions, and to them I say if it inspires revelation, thankfulness, and a moment of meditation (and dare I say JOY), it is well worth the title of spiritual experience.

Also, I LOVE whitefish. LOVE it. Maida Heatter's 62nd Street Lemon Cake remains one of my favorite desserts made by our mother. No matter how good a rugelach is, I just can't get too excited about it. And last, but not least, I was affirmed in my knowledge that low blood sugar can drive people to do and say some nutty things.

Boo: Feh.


Boo. And Mouse.

P.S. Break-Fast.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Barbuto Answers my Pasta Prayers

Dear Boo,

Do you ever just get a hankering for something tasty that stays with you all day (or week) until you finally give in and feed the beast? Yesterday I was haunted by just such a craving for a hot bowl of saucy noodles. I had plans with A-Mac to meet up for tea or a bite to eat after my rehearsal around 4, but as everything ran late, we didn't end up meeting up until about 6. By then, having been in rehearsal since 11am straight, I was starving. We wandered around a bit debating where to go, as my hankering for pasta amped up to epic proportions. We were somewhere along Bleecker when inspiration hit. "Ooh I want you to try that place Barbuto I was telling you about!" said A-Mac. Having walked by the airy corner space many times before, and being quite sure my noodles would be somewhere on that menu, I agreed, and we set off to the west side.

Jonathan Waxman's Barbuto is off on a corner of Washington Street just beyond the Saturday night West Village roving bands of 30-somethings and better yet, just south of the meatpacking's roving bands of 20-somethings. It was a little chilly last night but the wide garage doors were open out onto the street and we sat just inside the walls of the restaurant which was lively but not crowded, with a relaxed vibe. A bowl of olives appeared on the table to help ease my increasing hunger pangs and damn were they good. We decided on a half-carafe of rose (I love when a restaurant offers half-carafes) and I immediately liked our waitress when she recommended the cheaper option.

A-Mac and I quickly decided that though this wasn't one of our planned ahead dinner splurges, now that we were seated and content, there was no reason to not go all out. Anyway, nothing on the menu is above $20, or if I'm lying, there are only a couple of items which are, and not by much. We ordered the shredded brussels sprouts salad, the fresh pappardelle with sausage ragu for me (hurrah!), the signature roast chicken with lemon salsa verde for A-Mac and roasted cauliflower with anchovies and capers to share.

Everything was delicious. The sprouts in the salad were raw which was suprising and crunchy with a little bite, the cauliflower was salty and tangy and the chicken was moist and lemony with crisp skin.

But the pasta. Oh, the pasta. It was simple--just broad fresh noodles with plenty of sausage in a light tomato sauce and a sprinkle of cheese. Miraculously, it was EXACTLY what I had imagined when my stomach first fixated on a bowl of pasta for dinner. It was steaming and on the salty side and so so satisfying.

I highly recommend treating yourself to a spontaneous nice dinner. Maybe I spent a little more money than I had anticipated that night. Maybe it tasted a little better than it would have had I not been so hungry or so happy to be sitting in flattering light, on a quiet village street, for an overdue chat with a great friend. But that was the best, most satisfying and comforting bowl of pasta I have had in a long time.

I have no pictures to offer since this was a spontaneous culinary experience. But I can offer you this recipe from a profile of Jonathan Waxman in Gourmet. It looks pretty close to the light crunchy salad we started of with, though I think our version involved bread crumbs instead of walnuts....

Ripped directly from Gourmet...
Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad

1 1/2 lb Brussels sprouts (preferably on the stalk), any discolored leaves discarded and stems left intact
1 cup walnuts (3 1/2 oz), lightly toasted
2 tablespoons finely grated Pecorino Romano, or to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Holding each Brussels sprout by stem end, cut into very thin slices using slicer. Toss in a bowl to separate layers.

Lightly crush walnuts with your hands and add to Brussels sprouts along with cheese, oil, and lemon juice, then toss to combine. Season with pepper.

The Mouse

P.S. My cab driver was playing Foreigner on my ride home. What a night.