Talking Points Memo

Friday, September 19, 2008

Let me just say that I am hopelessly in love with Josh Marshall for creating Talking Points Memo. I can't imagine life without it.

Lavender Pasta

A few weeks back The New York Times ran a recipe for pasta with lavender in the Minimalist column of the Dining In section. Both my mother and I were instantly curious. So, my mom cooked it as a side dish for one of our meals while I was out in California, and it was good. the flavor is definitely surprising, but it doesn't overwhelm. I'd definitely say this is worth making at least once, just to try something a little unusual. Here's the recipe:
alt and freshly ground black pepper

1 medium-to-large zucchini, trimmed
1 medium carrot, peeled and trimmed
1 red bell pepper, cored
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 or 3 cloves crushed garlic
Several lavender leaves or flowers, or both (or use rosemary)
1 pound cut pasta, like penne or farfalle.

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it. Shred vegetables, using a food processor, grater or knife. Put olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add garlic. When it starts to brown, stir and add vegetables. Sprinkle them with salt and pepper, add a bit of lavender and cook, stirring occasionally, until they barely soften, just 5 minutes or so.

2. Meanwhile, cook pasta until it is just barely tender, a little less cooked than it would be to serve it. Drain, reserving some cooking water. Add pasta to vegetables and continue to cook, adding water as necessary to keep mixture moist.

3. Taste, and add more lavender to taste; it should be distinctive but not too strong. When pasta and vegetables are tender but not mushy, adjust seasoning for salt and pepper, garnish with a couple of lavender flowers if you have them, and serve.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

Mystery Fountain Explained

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Brownstoner (a favorite site of mine) has an explanation for that wacky plastic bucket fountain I saw the other day:
For those of you who have dreamed of displaying your own fountain, a solution: Now you can adopt one, at least temporarily. ADOPT/LE-FONT is an ecologically-minded public art project (maybe a mini, homegrown version of New York's Waterfalls?) that will place a fountain with a "host" for a week at a time, beginning September 1.
In a later post another Brownstoner reader sent in a fountain she had seen.

Faux Bois Patterns

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Woodgrain-patterned home accessories have been making the rounds for a few seasons now, but the cabin-chic style isn’t going away any time soon. Retail giant Pottery Barn signaled the pattern’s seemingly perpetual popularity with a handful of faux bois good for fall, including a doormat that looks exactly like on Martha Stewart used to sell in her now-defunct Catalogue for Living. (Imitation is the highest form of flattery, right?) Here are eight woodgrain picks that’ll give your pad a punch of rustic charm without making it look like an Elks Club circa 1972.

Pottery Barn Faux Bois Pillow Cover, $29

Pottery Barn Faux Bois Doormat, $29

Martha Stewart Collection Faux Bois towels, $10 to 22

Thomas Paul Pencil Cup, $7.50

Crane & Co. Woodgrain Hanging File Folders, $15

Rowan Fabrics, Ginseng fabrics at Purl SoHo, $16/yard

Rocks Paper Scissors Woodgrain Coasters, $9/box of twelve

Chilewich Wood Grain Floor Mats, $100 to $500

Little Houses in The New York Times

Friday, September 12, 2008

Fort Greene Park Jogging Distances

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I stumbled across this chart of jogging distances in Fort Greene Park the other day, and thought it was awfully useful. My usual run is from Fort Greene over to Prospect Park, around the loop and back (via Vanderbilt) which works out to about 6.2 miles, which is just about the perfect distance for me.

Brooklyn Book Festival

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

I just read about the Brooklyn Book Festival this coming Sunday from 10 to 6. It looks like they have a great line-up of artists and critics, including Joan Didion, Dorothy Allison, Leonard Lopate and Jonathan Lethem. Here's a link to the festival's site for more information.

Ratatouille Season

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

It's that time of year when the farmers' markets are bursting with vegetables, and in particular the ingredients for ratatouille. I made my first ratatouille of the year last night. I always make the recipe from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking (the first volume). Julia cooks each of the vegetables individually, so that they maintain their integrity. I usually up the garlic clove count by a clove or two, sometimes I add some fresh basil, but otherwise I take Julia's word as gospel. Here's what the queen of French cuisine has to say about ratatouille:
Ratatouille perfumes the kitchen with the essence of Provence and is certainly one of the greatn Mediterranean dishes. As it is strongly flavored it is bes twhen it accompanies lain roast or broiled beef or lamb, pot-au-feu (boiled beef), or plain roast, broiled or sauteed chicken. Equally good hot or cold, it also makes a fine acoompaniement to cold meats, or may be served as a cold hors d'oeuvre.

A really good ratatouille is not one of the quicker dishes to make, as each element is cooled separately before it si arranged in the casserole to partake of a brief communal simmer. This recipe is the only we know of which produces a ratatouille in wihc each vegetable retains its own shape and character. Happily a ratatouille may be cooked completely the day before it si to be served, and it seems to gain flavor when reheated.

God, I love Julia. I love everything about her and I especially love the brief introductions she has penned for all her recipes. She;s so right on the money. I came back from parking my car after cooking the ratatouille, and my whole damn building smelled like a kitchen in the south f France. I would include the recipe itself here, but I honestly think you should own Mastering the Art of French Cooking. If for some reason you don't have a copy, go out and buy one now.

A Decade

Monday, September 08, 2008

I was walking through Washington Square Park today, and I was reminded that this September marks my tenth anniversary in this fine city. In 1998 I arrived in New York as a freshman as college, ten years later, I'm still here (with a only a few brief interruptions). It seems hard to believe that a decade has passed. I remember walking down Fifth Avenue to go to class at my first day of New York University, and it is still crystal clear in my mind. I remember that first semester so well: The exciting places to eat, the endless walking, the new people, the absolute joy of a weekday matinee at the Angelica, bagels for dinner, dorm cafeteria coffee for breakfast and countless nights with David and Jed at the Corner Bistro. It still seems like just last year, but the truth is, it's been ten years.

While I was out in California visiting my parents last week, I was speaking to my mother about a job I might be up for in San Francisco. My mom turned to me and said, “You can't move here. You have such a good life in New York. It would have to be your absolute dream job to leave New York.” And you know what? She was right. I have such a good life, such wonderful friends, why would I ever leave here? More than anything it's my friends—I am rich with friends from all these years. I can't imagine packing up and leaving them all.

I always said that I didn't want to stay in New York so long that I would wake up one day and realize that I had become a character in a Woody Allen movie. I relayed this to my friends Matt and Hope (both of whom arrived at NYU in the fall of 1998) the other night. We were sitting at a rooftop bar in Midtown looking up at the Empire State Building. Matt turned to me and said, “Laura, I think it's too late.” We all had a good laugh. However, Matt may be right, maybe we're already there. I'm okay with it, if we are.

Matt and I went out to the beach a few days later and sat at a restaurant overlooking Jamaica Bay with the Manhattan skyline in the distance. There was a $1.50 for six Buffalo wings special that Sunday afternoon, and the NYU freshman in me promptly ordered a dozen. I think we both felt the same way sitting there—this feeling that this was our city. Matt threatens to leave, but I know he'll stick around, at least for a little longer.

My sister called me tonight to bemoan the busy New York hectic life, and I reminded her, that the hectic pace is why we're all here. It's the pulse of this city that makes it the city above all cities. I figure I'll rest later. I'll garden and cook dinner every night, I'll read books quietly at night and take long walks every morning, but for now, I'll take the hectic pace. I'm young and single and in my 20s. I know I'll never get to do this again. And I love it that I need to tell a few white lies to manage to get a night to myself.

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