October 31, 2010

Papers and banana bread

This weekend was almost completely dedicated to working on a paper for class.  What better than an easy banana bread recipe for a quick break when writer's block hits?

This turned out amazingly- and you only need a mixing bowl, and a bowl to melt the butter/beat the egg in.  If you don't have bourbon, I'm sure it would be fine without it, but you'd be missing out...

Also, I always eat my banana bread with a little sprinkle of salt on it- try it, it's delicious

3 to 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted salted butter
3/4 light brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1 1/2 cup of flour
Preheat the oven to 350°F. With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, vanilla and bourbon, then the spices. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. Pour mixture into a buttered 4×8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 50 minutes to one hour, or until a tester comes out clean. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.

(adapted just a bit from Smitten Kitchen)

October 29, 2010

Norway to New York

This past weekend, I was going through old papers and trying desperately to organize my life a bit, when I came across this wonderful story my grandmother sent me a few months before she passed away.  I was lucky enough to get a few stories such as this one from her before she died, as well as a nice collection of beautiful family photos, letters and documents.  My Grandma's mother was Signe (daughter of Olava) who was born after the family arrived in America.  Since yesterday was the Statue of Liberty's 124th birthday, I thought it would be fun to post this! 
"In May, 1891, the eight member Omberg family traveled by train from Fredrickstad Norway, to Kristiania Norway (later named Oslo) and boarded the steamship Thingvalla.  Their possessions were very limited to what could be packed into a single trunk.  The ship carried more than 500 passengers, mainly Scandinavians.  Many Danes and other Europeans were already on the ship, having boarded at Copenhagen.  The trip was very difficult.  The infant, Inga, who had just been born on March 1, 1891, became very ill.  They had already lost 3 children before leaving Norway, Evan who died as an infant in 1882, Johan Kristian who died in 1889, and eleven year old Inga (first Inga) who died in 1890.  The ship's doctor was not reassuring, and Inga showed no signs of movement.  In the evening, the doctor told them Inga was dead.  He began to take her away, but Olava fought to keep her, so that she could hold her one more night.  Before he returned the next morning they detected signs of life.  Inga was NOT dead.  On May 17, there was traditional singing and dancing among the Norwegians on the boat as they celebrated "Syttende Mai" (May Day in Norway).  They could not know the joy in the Omberg hearts over having their baby Inga alive.  Almost all the people came on deck to see the Statue of Liberty.  They docked in New York on May 18, 1891 and were processed through the Barge Office at the south end of Battery Park - people arriving 8 months later would be processed at Ellis Island."

October 28, 2010

for the love of French

I love all things French.  The language, the country, but most of all I LOVE the food.  And I love how the French love their food.  Each meal, snack or drink is meant to be the best.  No skimping, no eating just to eat.  The idea of a fresh local food movement probably doesn't even translate into French, because why wouldn't you be eating the freshest food already?  Why buy produce from anyone other than the farmer down the road?  Why eat day old bread when you can eat a fresh loaf baked today?  I have wonderful memories of the Cazo bread truck (well, actually it was a van) pulling into town early every morning honking it's horn, it's doors opening to an array of unbelievably fresh (and still warm!) baked goods spread out in the back.  And it was just so NORMAL to everyone!  I've never tasted a croissant so perfect, it's buttery flakes melting in my mouth.

On Saturday, two of my best friends and I were able to see a screening of "Kings of Pastry" during the Philadelphia Film Festival.  Sixteen emotional, talented and obsessive French pastry chefs took part in a 3 day "test" of their skills to be titled a "Meilleurs Ouvriers de France" (best craftsman of France).  Nicolas Sarkozy was even there! It's a big deal!  Grown men were crying over spilled pastry!  If you get a chance, I highly recommend the film.  You'll never feel so emotionally connected to sugar again.

KINGS OF PASTRY Theatrical Trailer from Pennebaker Hegedus Films on Vimeo.

October 27, 2010

"A tale of two kitties" or "You might think I am a cat lady"

Mae & Bogey
The last few weeks I have felt like a certifiable cat lady because of the sheer time I have devoted to caring for cats (though I have not gone so far as dressing them up, or having professional pictures taken of them). At the end of August, I adopted a 2 month old kitten (whom I named Mae but often call her Maeby in homage to Arrested Development or just simply Maeby Baby) in hopes of being a good companion for my older cat.  Sadly, Lena fell suddenly ill and had to be put down this past month.  Though it was very sad, the bright side is I was able to adopt Mae's twin brother, Bogart (Bogey for short)! Within hours of being reunited, they remembered one another and are now the best of friends and are always running (terrorizing?) around the house. So let it be known that I love these little critters and think they are quite entertaining, so expect a few pictures now and then.  This does not a cat lady make.   

October 26, 2010

who knew fog was so beautiful?

The Unseen Sea from Simon Christen on Vimeo.

nothing here has any reason

They say journals are good for the soul.  Keeping track of ideas, emotions, events and thoughts about life has overwhelming benefits; it can help one process big questions, reduce stress, stimulate personal growth, bring world peace... yada yada yada.

Those things sound great, but truth be told, I am a complete failure when it comes to the good ol' pen to paper journaling. I have tried time and time again to start (and restart... and restart...) journals.  I've tried to carry notebooks around with me so I can write down that brilliant (wtf was I thinking when I wrote that down?) thought! That inspiring song lyric! That article title I have been meaning to read! But what I end up with is a notebook filled with things like "look up skim milk" or "mail order vs. virtual" or "!!! SO GOOD!!! NYT aeghahdfsh" (that is when I spill coffee on the page and it smudges and the article is lost forever...).  It becomes a mix of personal thoughts, class notes, phone numbers, you name it.  Not to mention I have terrible writing and sometimes simply just cannot read what I wrote.  I have even started the oh-so-cliché New Year's Resolution Journal (which lasted well into the first week of the New Year, thank you).  Despite knowing all the benefits a journal may bring, I just cannot seem to stick to it.  So with many failed attempts behind me, it seems only logical to start an online place for me to dump my thoughts (I can't spill coffee on the internet, so that is a plus).  
There's no "theme" here, just whatever the hell I feel like writing about, sharing, or  throwing out into the world wide web.  In the words of the Jean-Paul Sartre: "I shall write tomor­row of Paris. But why? For no rea­son, because it amuses me. And noth­ing here has any rea­son; it’s all a game".  

Thanks JP, for the title of my new blog.