Tuesday, September 3, 2013

What I've Been Up To - and Shana Tova - September 3, 2013

It's almost 5774 (and yes, I had to look that up) and Rosh Hashanah - "early" in the year. Here now.

Despite my changing beliefs as time goes on, I am extremely proud to be Jewish and I have always appreciated this time of year for the opportunity to slow down, take a few breaths, and reset. This year I am especially looking forward to that temporary peacefulness.

This also means we're in the time of year where people schedule things - things I'd really like to attend or be involved with - on the High Holidays (there are at least two things on September 14, which is Yom Kippur, that disappointed me with their scheduling this year, but every year there's something I suppose). I just had to get that out of my system.

Shana Tova. May you have a sweet new year.

Here's what I've been up to in the past few days:

At the Decatur Book Festival...

I did in fact meet Francesca Lia Block and she is delightful. (And I forgot to say about 100 things to her, but I also remembered to say 1,000 other things so I guess that's OK. Hopefully she and I will meet again, either in LA or...somewhere in the universe!) Also she was incredibly inspiring during her presentation/interview/Q&A and gave me some ideas that I hope will guide me back to working on some of the longer-form writing projects I have sitting on my hard drive.
I saw Rob Sheffield - he's manic and awesome and he made me reminisce about the karaoke nights I've had - in private rooms, in bars, with friends, with strangers, and rarely singing on stage but often singing in the audience.
I watched a cooking demonstration by Joe Yonan, who is the Food and Travel editor of the Washington Post as well as a cookbook author. The recipe he cooked was very simple - corn and pasta and not much else - and it was divine (they passed out samples). I want his new book (Eat Your Vegetables), which is vegetarian recipes for one (great for lunch, I suspect, or for nights when the rest of my family - ahem - wants macaroni and cheese for the millionth time and I want something a bit more special).
I also have been attempting new cooking projects. I made two different batches of pancakes with two entirely different recipes and froze both. Batch #1 had white whole wheat flour and whole wheat pastry flour, no eggs, cow milk, lots of baking powder. Batch #2 had eggs, almond milk, white whole wheat flour and unbleached regular flour, less baking powder. Batch #1 was eaten mostly by me and was pretty good. Batch #2 is in the freezer right now.

Part of the overarching experiment was freezing by laying things flat in the freezer first (on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper), then putting the frozen things in a bag so they don't stick to one another. So far, despite my freezer being both tiny and full, this process has worked well - both with pancakes and with frozen bananas. (I make banana "ice cream" on nearly a nightly basis - frozen bananas, a splash of almond milk, my Vitamix, 1 minute on high, eat. When I find marked-down browning bananas at the grocery store now - as I did yesterday - I do a little happy dance.)

And I tried making boba at home for the first time. I've bought tapioca pearls before and then left them in the pantry or fridge until they were thrown away. This time I forced myself to cook a batch. They were far easier to cook than I expected and they came out nicely chewy without being tough or powdery. Hooray!

Cold-brewed coffee, almond milk, simple syrup made with Zulka Morena cane sugar (non-GMO!), and boba. However, without the big fat colorful straw, this wasn't as exciting. I'll have to grab some of those the next time I buy bubble tea at a shop.
The tapioca pearls came from a trip to Super H-Mart, where I also purchased Mexican soda in tamarind and sangria. I haven't tried either yet - if you're interested, let me know and I'll post an update sometime about how they taste. Both sodas have terrible ingredients - chemicals and dyes - but hey, they also have real sugar instead of HFCS, so that has to count for something, right? Also, I try so very hard to eat clean and to be good and to avoid certain ingredients, but I simply cannot be perfect. So I bought them - and I will enjoy every sip.
The colorful wall of Mexican sodas at Super H-Mart.
And that's about it. What have you been up to lately?


  1. Happy new year to you also!

    I just downloaded the Vignette Demo app since you like it so much. Maybe you could do a post about it?

    1. Thank you for the idea! I wrote it up and will publish it sometime either today or tomorrow. Happy new year! :)