Mixed Greens with Herbed Vinegar Dressing

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup packed fresh herbs (basil, parsley, thyme, rosemary, oregano)
1/4 cup peanut oil
2 shallots thinly sliced
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper
5 handfuls of young lettuces (arugula, peppercress, etc)
1/4 cup chervil & tarragon leaves

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Macaroni & Cheese

2 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. flour
2 cups milk
1.5 cups Monterey Jack, grated
3.5 cups cooked macaroni
1 cup canned plum tomatoes, (reserve the juice)
3/4 cup coarse breadcrumbs
freshly ground black pepper
350 degree oven, butter a casserole dish; in saucepan, heat the butter until foamy, sprinkle flour in, whisk until it turns golden, slowly pour in milk & continue whisking. Simmer over medium & let thicken. Stir in cheese, remove from heat. Fold in macaroni, add tomatoes by squeezing them thru fingers into small pieces. Mixture should be loose like thin batter, if too thick add milk or drained tomato juice.
Pour into casserole, spread breadcrumbs over surface, sprinkle more cheese (1/4 cup), & grind pepper over top. Bake 25 minutes.
From: Cooking for Mr. Latte

Haricots Verts with Walnuts and Walnut Oil

1/3 cup walnuts
Sea salt
3/4 lb. haricots verts, trim stems
3 Tbs. walnut oil/good olive oil
Coarsely ground black pepper/grains of paradise
350 degree oven, bake walnuts for 5 minutes, chop coarsely. Boil large pot water with salt, add verts & cook until tender but firm (4 mins). Drain, toss in bowl with warm walnuts & walnut oil. Season with pepper/salt.
From: Cooking for Mr. Latte

The Colossus of New York

Bleak and soft emotional underpinings of the granite city. Enjoyable, but not preferred. The unfinished sentences conveyed the hollowness of NYC, a bit mournful, lonely look into city souls.
A glimpse inside–
From “Downtown”:
Hipsters seek refuge in church, Our Lady of Perpetual Subculture. There is some discussion as to whether or not they are still cool but then they are calmed by the obscure location and the arrival of their kind. Keep the address to yourself, let the rabble find it for themselves. Wow, this crappy performance art is really making me feel not so terrible about my various emotional issues. He has to duck out early to get back to his bad art. Three cheers for your rich interior life, may it serve you well come rent day. Beer before liquor never sicker. This one’s on me. Somehow he always ends up buying every round. Hour by hour the customers change, grow humps horns scales. The little noises they make: her boyfriend’s out of town, his college roommate is in town, my friend’s band is playing downtown. He made too many plans with too many people and things will not turn out okay. She’s a little worried because at midnight the new legislation goes into effect and the draconian Save the Drama for Your Mama laws are really going to cramp her style. Hit the town. It hits back.

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Top Picks of 2003

Here are my top picks for 2003.
The Winners
1. Krakatoa by Simon Winchester
2. The Widow’s Children by Paula Fox
3. Consider the Oyster by M.F.K Fisher
4. The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton
5. Birds of America by Mary McCarthy
The Honorable Mentions
1. Moneyball by Michael Lewis
2. The Man Who Ate Everything by Jeffrey Steingarten
3. Why Girls are Weird by Pamela Ribon
4. One up on Wall Street by Peter Lynch
5. Jarhead
6. Salt
7. Maiden Voyage by Tania Aebi

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Reading Lolita in Tehran

A peek under the veil of life in Iran; Dr. Nafisi teaches a secret class on Thursday mornings to her most devoted literature students, reading Nabokov (Lolita), F Scott Fitzgerald (Gatsby), James, and Austen (which are the 4 sections of the book), and Mark Twain, Saul Bellow. Nicely done interweaving of Nafisi’s conflicts with the Islamic revolution with the literature analysis. Students setting themselves on fire, being executed secretly in jail, the adoption of the veil against her will, meeting her “magician” in a cafe to exchange books and having to move tables when it was raided b/c they weren’t related (women can’t consort with unrelated men), the deep red nail polish of one of her students’ nails covered by gloves, the blind film censor, putting Great Gatsby on trial, her former student naming her daughter Daisy for James’ Daisy Miller, the stories from her selected students (Azin, Yassi, Sanaz, Mitra, Mahshid, Manna, Nassrin), the Iraqi missile attacks on Tehran, the painful decision to leave Iran for the US, the covert satellite dishes, bootlegged vodka, the bus story: Iranian writers encouraged by the regime to travel to Armenia to a conference only to have their bus precariously stop atop a precipice to be toppled over if it weren’t for the quick reflexes of an insomniac onboard.
Nafisi is an excellent writer, and seems to be an amazing lit teacher, with a unique perspective on Iranian life.

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Black Money

An exquisitely crafted mystery, my favorite of the Lew Archer variety. Each chapter was a delicious morsel.
Quick synopsis: Archer’s hired by the young, 3rd generationly rich Peter, to find out who Ginny Fablon’s pseudo French lover Martel was. (He was Panamanian). Taps, the French teacher, and his wife who has a crush on Archer; the ladies at the country club, the receptionist at the club. An unknown murderer kills Ginny’s dad first (blamed as suicide: dead body washed up on shore, death by drowning, and body chewed up by sharks), then 7 years later kills her mom and husband (Martel).

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