Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Bachelorette Living, avec Cat

Last week Gawker posted about a Julia Allison blog-entry about "Singlefiers." Those clearly-girl items that enjoy a home as part of the decor only when you're single and live alone.

Piles of magazines everywhere, comprised of tons of pretentious ones that are clearly untouched and then severely thumbed-through Vogues and Luckys

Well, while there are definitely piles of reading material everywhere, (e.g. a whole basket full to the brim with some totally untouched Economists which is odd because I really like that magazine but never get around to reading it lately for some reason, a whole mess of untouched NY Magazines) the biggest offenders are both piles of books which are about 7 deep in the pile on the coffee table atm and the monster piles of New York Times newspapers. The reason for this is that Tim and I go to a coffee shop in the Third Ward every Sunday morning, the express purpose of which is *supposed* to be to drink coffee and read the paper. I think the only time in recent memory I've been allowed to actually sit and read has been the Sunday when Tim was absorbed by the Deathly Hallows. Generally what happens is that Tim picks up a couple of sections which he does not really read, instead he sits and chats at me while I struggle to continuously relocate where I left off in a given article. After a couple of hours I give up and we go to lunch. With regard to the pile... there can sometimes accumulate 2 months of those things. They have a spot between the couch and the chair. For some reason, I find it incredibly difficult to throw them away until they are quite old.

Overflowing shoe rack and nothing in the fridge

The former... totally. In the reader comments on Gawker there were bonus points doled out if your shoe rack hung over a door. Does it count if it's the inside of your closet door? And then also a regular shoe rack on the floor of your closet? And then a pile inside your closet? And then random pairs scattered about your apartment? Like say, 4 pair by the couch and 3 pair by the chair, and a pair of sneakers by the door?

As for the latter... uhm, no. In my fridge are the spoils of the farmer's market (broccoli, squash blossoms, corn, orange cherry tomatoes, 3 poblano peppers, tomatillos, a giant bowl of french filet beans, fresh eggs, rainbow chard, chives, sage), a bunch of stuff (most especially onions and halved lemons) in various stages of consumption in zip-lock baggies, a few deli containers from Beans n' Barley, a couple of bottles of mineral water, an un-opened bottle of white wine, 3 "company" beers, containers of strawberries and raspberries, a huge container of non-fat plain yogurt, one-quarter each of a watermelon and a cantaloupe, a couple of leftover containers with remnants of last week's meals, there is also the produce which has also spilled out onto the dining room table (giant bowl of orange and yellow tomatoes, a couple of enormous golden zucchinis (yes, that's right, I know what I wrote), a leftover patty pan and an heirloom tomato, and bowl containing an assortment of fuji apples, nectarines, peaches, and bananas. Also making an appearance is the biscotti jar full of flour that I've been too lazy to find a home for in the over-stuffed cabinet.

Scented candles

They're not scented... except the one in the bathroom ;) but there is definitely a candle presence in my apartment. Most of them were gifts. My mother has a fetish for this store called Winkie's in Whitefish Bay and every Christmas and St. Nick's (yes, my mother still gives us St. Nick's gifts) she gives us stuff like foo-foo writing tablets, little bags of honey sticks, tea mugs with little ceramic tea strainers (very cute, very useful) and such. For Easter we always seem to get candles shaped like little bunches of daffodils. So those are about.

Slovenly heaps of little-used makeups in the bathroom

My slovenly heaps of much-used makeups have found a new home on the bureau in my living room. I've recently been waging a war with my pissoir (poor maintenance guys have been here four or five times this year - I have, in fact, been putting off calling them for a new problem because there seems something conspicuous about a single girl constantly calling for a broken toilet, don't ask me why I think that because I don't know) and months ago when I came home to a little Sea of Galilee (which is not so much a sea as a very large freshwater lake) on my bathroom floor my makeups were found adrift in their cute little makeups bag (which was the real victim of the floods... it bled and isn't pretty anymore) so, much like many Katrina victims, they have yet to return to their home and instead have found themselves all spread apart on display for all (the people who never see the inside of my apartment) to see my girlie makeup secrets.

Stuffed animals in the bed

Oh... uhm... NO. Once upon a time in college I was the proud owner of a Paddington bear, an "everything" bear (which was given to me by the creepy older guy who kept semi-successfully trying to date me the summer before I left for college), and my childhood companion "Sugar." But I haven't kept stuffed animals in a loooooooong time. Having lived with several boyfriends, eventually the herd got thinned into extinction. I do have a small stuffed bunny who lives on the shelf under my nightstand, but he never comes near the bed.

Cat hair on the furniture

Kinda busted... I don't think it's so much the furniture as the hair that I never seem to be able to remove from the living room rug and tumbleweeds which used to be a combination of giant twining balls of my own long hair when I had it and Rowan's.

Cat smell

God, I hope not. Ew.

Cabinets full of mugs featuring the likeness of lady who looks like those hypertrophically-limbed Daily Candy illustrations, bearing the legend "I Love Shopping" or whatnot

Nope. What I do have is a "Michigan" mug and a hideous ginormous wine glass painted with the extremely colorful image of a lady with shopping bags which was a gift from a co-worker, and pint glasses bearing the name of their various giftors.

Anything pink

Wrong again. While I am a devotee, I do not consider pink a decorating element. Aside from the dream kitchen in my head featuring 50's style-appliances in the aforementioned shade which will hopefully never come to bear in reality.

Ornamental pillows

Guilty. Two on the couch. But they're olive green velvet and comfy as hell - especially since the arms of my couch are decidedly high.

Unedited bookshelves, esp. if they include He's Just Not That Into You or anything along those lines

Well, I do have a non-prominent copy of The Dictionary of Failed Relationships on the shelves. But that book is funny as hell.


Ew. No. Piles of worn out razor heads on the edge of the tub, tho.

Anything lite or diet around. Cases of Diet Coke. Weight Watchers 'Just 2 Points' bars

Wrong again. Unless you count the non-fat plain yogurt.

Inspirational or thinspirational things on the fridge

My favorite magnet on my fridge is the picture of the girl in the obviously ill-fitting 50's pointed bra which says, "when bad bras happen to good girls," which is meant to remind me of the importance of decent foundation garments after a stint in a crap one which mis-shaped the girls horrifically last summer.

Framed posters

Yes, of course. Some of us can't afford real art and are certainly not going to be making any herself as evidenced by the GIANT unfinished collage piece which has lived for like, 6 years behind the bureau at various residences. Reader comments make reference to Klimt's The Kiss being an offending item and I must admit to ownership of a small framed and matted copy in my bedroom along with the feather art pieces I lifted from a drawer at the cottage one summer. What? They were wrapped in paper towels and rubber-banded. In my book, that makes them fair game.

Handbag tree

Try a collection of them on the closet door handle and a pile of them on the chair in the living room. Does my handled farmer's market basket that lives on the dining room chair in the living room count as well?

As always, the Gawker reader comments are the best on the subject. My favorite being one by PIKACHUMCHEIDEGGER:

"By the bed a turquoise saucer, heaped with tarry clots of the poppy's blood, to kill the black dreams of a vacant womb.

Also, those high-fiber Wasa crackers from Sweden."

All in all I don't think my apartment all that terrifying. The biggest un-mentioned offenders being the piles of clothing on the chair in the living room, the pile of nail-maintenance paraphernalia next to the pile of books on the coffee table, the innumerable pots of Burt's Bees moisturizers lying all over the place, the coats on the dining room chair, the two bottles of red wine on the in-between counter between the kitchen and dining room (a good bottle and a bottle of $3 Chuck), the innumerable empty bottles of mineral water awaiting their fate as porch ashtrays under the sink, the little galvanized steel mini-bucket thingies from World Market filled with tampons and the oblong one containing q-tips, also in the bathroom a small pile of free moisturizer samples and a foo-foo box o' matches, early in the week the towel bar can be seen with its drying-underwear population, and the hook for hanging clothing from the always-open bedroom door that is full to bursting with work clothes, belts, and scarves - which have migrated for lack of room down to the door handle. Both sides.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Portobello Stackers

Some sources suggest that the protein complexes found in cooked mushrooms may be as near complete alone as those found in conventional meats. An ex of mine who had worked on a mushroom farm (not the psychedelic variety) once said that mushrooms were as near to meat as anything in the vegetable kingdom ever got. Whereas most vegetarian dinners require combinations of foods to achieve a complete protein (e.g. nuts, seeds or grains with dairy; rice and beans) this is not considered necessary when serving mushrooms.

1 large portobello mushroom cleaned and stemmed
2 large carrots cleaned and peeled
1 young red onion
1 small tomato, sliced
2 garlic cloves
1 "handful" (subjective, would suggest approximately 2 tbsps) fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
1 "handful" fresh basil
1 "handful" greens - escarole, watercress, spinach, frisée, radicchio
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2-3 tbsps dry sherry
black pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 400°. Use tablespoon olive oil to coat bottom of glass baking dish and bake portobello for approximately 10 minutes, alone. Dice red onion, smash garlic cloves with flat blade of knife, chop parsley finely. Add red onion and garlic to baking dish. Using tongs, tip portobello to drain accumulated juices, return to dish. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and top with chopped parsley.

Using vegetable peeler, peel long ribbons of carrot- which can be done directly into small sauté pan. Turn heat to medium and add dry sherry, basil and black pepper to taste. Cook on medium until pan is dry, reduce heat to low and toss to dry out a bit.

When finished with carrots, remove baking dish from oven. Toss cooked red onions with carrot ribbons and chop caramelized garlic finely.


First, evenly distribute finely chopped garlic on top of portobello. Then add cold sliced tomato, top with carrot ribbons and onions. Finally, add handful hand-torn greens.

Result: Very, tasty and quite refreshing. Carrots take on a much emphasized sweetness which is balanced with the hot crunch of fresh-ground black pepper. Portobellos seem to take on a slightly creamy flavor when roasted with a high-quality balsamic. I used escarole to top my stacker, which has a nice nutty flavor to it that works well with the earthiness of the mushroom. I suggest serving the tomatoes cold as the hot item/cold item balance is quite nice.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Lake Trail

Azure cotton voile hung in the sky
backlit with shades of apricot and pale orange
Horizon a melange of stripes
Buckshot clouds and frothing water
Along the trail I ride through piss-water hotspots
stinking of dead fish and pass an inky black man
who does not seem to know or care that the traffic of the trail sides right
I listen to the tink, tink of the ancient leather seat groaning under my weight
gliding over cracks that winter's bipolar freeze and thaw produces in this place
I think on muscles -just recently brought out of retirement- which propel my legs to move up and down like a marionette,
on the chain that sling-shots continuous the gears that turn at the command of my muppet legs- or so they appear as I look down and watch for a moment their movements
As I pass a gaggle of recalcitrant women, looking resentful as they compress to allow me passage
I smile out at the expanse of grass other side the boulevard and look towards the ancient bridge that hangs (or perhaps not) dilapidated and ignored over the river near the yacht club
Never before have I known beauty 6:00am on a summer morning breathing in the landscape too often forgotten in favor of crammed roadways
Back and forth to work and store and bar and friend's houses tucked away on easy corners
Comparatively, I've grown to despise life behind the wheel
The things I did not see too numerous to mention
And suddenly I hate to think of things I've missed

J. Turner
July 2007

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Twelve Things

Over at Alice Ayers there's a list going around (from last month, to view the current page click here... take a look, the photography is fabulous). Twelve things she'd tell a sixteen year old her. And everybody knows how much I adore lists, so here is mine.

1. You are not unattractive, at all, in the least. You are actually quite lovely.

2. Try harder. It does matter, actually. And later, you will care.

3. Not only will someone you want to have sex with want to have sex with you too, but you'll fall in love. Don't get excited yet, it won't happen the way you imagine.

4. When you're on your way to your interview at Contempo, don't check your wallet to see if you have gas money. You have enough gas to make it there, but the car won't survive your inquiry.

5. College will not live up to your expectations. It will be pretty much the same, just without adult supervision. Don't get your hopes up.

6. The new girl from Rice Lake you meet in your sewing class does really want to be your friend. Be her friend. Please, don't let your inferiority complex interfere. She is not just like everyone else.

7. Next year, when Jenny refuses you cigarettes do not take it as a challenge. She's right to do so. Not only will you smoke for YEARS to come but it will get more and more expensive and you will not be rich, even when you're thirty.

8. Touting your virginity in Mr. Hitchler's class will not get you a date to the prom. It just makes you seem a little too much like the girl who never cuts her hair and wears jean skirts with sneakers. But you're right, it is decidedly incomparable to a back rub. But that doesn't matter.

9. Choose your college wisely - here's a little tip, as it turns out, you hate living in the country.

10. Do more, daydream less. It's not just about surviving. It doesn't have to be this way.

11. Your mother loves you and she's not an idiot. Listen to her once in a while. If for no other reason than to make her happy. Nobody likes the screaming.

12. Watching movies in your basement with Julie on a Saturday night while consuming an entire pint of Ben and Jerry's is a very bad habit to get into. Go do something else.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Roasted Golden Beet Salad with Raspberry-Garlic Vinaigrette

The other day an acquaintance of mine asked me; "Are you available for contract wifing? Because you cook the kind of things I should eat but wouldn't even think of making myself. I swear, I wouldn't ask for sex. Just food." The answer, of course, was no. I am available for catering services upon request but I am not in charge of anyone's daily meals unless the package includes the all-important arts of sexual gratification, various handyman services, hand-holding rights, snuggling and story-listening indulgences, the occasional bunch of flowers, and co-viewing of films of my choice both in-theatre and in-home. Oh, and smooching of both the public and private variety.

So, allow me to impress you with yet another feat of recipe change-up magic. I started with Bella Cucina's little beauty and worked from there. As the farmer's markets begin to present their vegetable wonders (it's been a bit thin on the ground until now) I've decided to pick some things I've traditionally not eaten to see if I still hate them. First up on the list was beets. Historically, I've been served the unnaturally-hued neon candied sort sliced up cold on the side of a salad. While kind of aesthetically lovely in their own way I don't find any enjoyment in their flavor. Perhaps I would enjoy them more if they were homemade but I think these have generally come from a can or store-bought glass jar. Anyway, the verdict has been - until now - that I HATE beets.

When I saw the amber-orange hue of the golden beets sitting on a table at the East Side Open Market I couldn't resist. I was told by the farmer that they were quite sweet as opposed to the earthy flavor of red beets.

I started off cleaning and trimming the beets, placed them in a glass baking dish with 2 tbps of olive oil, a handful of fennel seeds, several sprigs of rosemary, and three flattened garlic cloves. (Rather than crushing them in a press, I simply flattened them with the blade of a large knife and placed the peeled, crushed cloves in the pan.) I then roasted them, covered in foil as the starting-point recipe suggested at 350° for approximately 50 minutes. The last 10 minutes of their baking time I placed a sheet of raw walnuts in, checking and shaking every 2 minutes I toasted them as a topping.

After the beets were roasted to the point of easy pierceability, I set the beets and caramelized garlic cloves aside to cool. (And the recipe suggested discarding them! Can you imagine throwing away perfectly delicious caramelized garlic?!? Oh, the insanity!) I poured the liquid contents of the pan into a salad-dressing bottle and added 1 tbsp of tarragon and shallot vinegar, 1/2 tbsp of olive oil, a little black pepper, some lemon juice, a handful of smooshed-up raspberries (I did this in a plastic baggie with the back of a spoon in order to retain the juices), and gave it a good shake.

In a bowl I cleaned and stemmed baby spinach and basil leaves, added some healthy slices of heirloom tomato, thinly sliced yellow peppers, the toasted walnuts, thinly sliced pearl red onion, and a handful of whole raspberries. Then I tossed it with the vinaigrette.

When the beets were cool enough to touch, I peeled off their skins to reveal their gorgeous jewel-like color and the smell was delightful. I sliced them in half and then into half-moons as the recipe suggests. Then I took the caramelized garlic, chopped it roughly and added that and the sliced beets to the top of the salad.

Oh, my goodness gracious. Welcome to tasty-town, population me. Some might be so inclined to add some dollops of goat cheese or perhaps some greek yogurt to round out the proteins but I didn't find the addition of dairy necessary. Plus, I was afraid it would overpower the beets whose flavor is quite delicate.

New verdict: I love beets. I dunno about the red ones just yet but the golden beets are victorious.

It's summer and therefore my ice cream weakness has reared it's delicious head. While this weekend I indulged myself with Leon's Frozen Custard (their chocolate is to DIE for!), I can't do that every night. *le sigh* Thus, might I suggest, for dessert Purely Decadent's Pomegranate Chip "ice cream"? In the past I've made Rice Dream's Strawberry my favorite but it has a new and powerful rival. Purely Decadent's caloric, fat, sodium, and carb content is actually lower and the texture and taste are MUCH better. It is, in fact, quite wonderful and satisfies my craving for creamy goodness. I highly recommend it.

Next up on the try or die list: Ochra - traditional response: PLEH! Tune in next week and see if I can change my mind.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

UII: Addenda/Update

So two *edit: NO THREE! Three more of the little buggers showed up in my spam-box. I went to the website (which is definitely user-driven), plugged in the card ID code and it said ERROR! The card you have requested does not exist or has been removed by the sender.


Like, you know, whatever.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

UII: Unidentified Inbox Item

There it was, sitting in my inbox titled "Hi, an old friend has sent you a greeting card!" Opening the exe file I was terribly curious. An old friend? I thought. Who could this old friend be? How old is this old friend? They can't be that old if they have my gmail addy. Right?

As the flash unfolded my curiosity would go unsatisfied by it's papyrus-scrawled contents:

A friend in need
Is a friend indeed!

(I'm here for you!)

Oh. You are, are you? You're not going to tell me who you are but you're totally here for me. Got my back, right? From a safe distance? Are you next door? East? West? Invisible?

Who the hell is this "old friend" person?!?!

I hate mysteries. Especially when there's no clues as to their answers.

So the most obvious questions at hand are as follows:

1. What exactly are you "here" for me for? The death of my ex? There's a lily in the background of the flash card that suggests such a theme... that's the only real recent tragedy and the only thing someone who hasn't actually spoken to me for a while would be able to publicly discover, I believe. Unless there's some new tragedy afoot I don't know about yet. It's not entirely unusual for me to be the last to know...

Alternative theories:

1.a. This person somehow found out I had to run interference between my grandmother and my aunt at a family thingie last weekend. They feel sorry for me because they know that you've really grown up when you find yourself watering down your grandmother's drinks so she doesn't shoot her mouth off. That's gotta be it, right? And they're going to help me lament the death of my innocence... except... I lost my innocence quite willingly looooooong ago. So maybe that's not it.

1.b. They heard I stubbed my toe. Flowers are forthcoming.

1.c. I was overheard keening the continued coma-state of my sex life. They're here to help.

1.d. It's a regular reader who'd decided my blog had gotten a bit on the boring side and generously wanted to give me something to conjecture about.

2. Why did this person decline to use their actual name? An "old friend," indeed. If you're "here" for me, wouldn't it help to know who you are? Were you planning on revealing yourself at a later date? Is this part of a larger "SUDDENLY SYMPATHY!" sneak attack? Someone is planning on showing up at my doorstep and offering me their shoulder to cry on?

3. Are they aware that the tragedy happened two weeks ago? That I've largely worked my way through it (and by largely worked my way through it I mean I haven't worked my way through it at all but I am possessed of an incredibly short memory and things tend to fade quite fast... until such time as I get completely inebriated one night and something reminds me of him and I end up sobbing like a baby, being utterly inconsolable until I pass out and wake up with very red eyes and a headache to beat the band... so history dictates) and am now dealing with the "I'm speaking to his sibling who is also my ex who I haven't spoken to in more than a year because he drives me kinda crazy" fallout. Which, is quite different and yes, in case you are wondering, I do need consoling for that.

Oy. I'll wait and see if details will be revealed as time goes long. But I wanna know NOW!!! she whined and wailed. Now, now Veruca. Have some patience.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Confessions in Consumer-whore-ism

K: Anthropologie. Third ward. Early 2008. It's official

JA: Fuck. Might as well declare bankruptcy now.

K: I know right. And how wonderful it will be.

JA: Totally. I think we should consider hiding our credit cards and starting hooking. Blog title idea: Anthro-whores.

K: Works for me. We will only accept gift cards as payment for our dirty deeds. Amounts and quantity negotiable.

JA: We'd have to accept cash gifts too - we'd have to parade our fab kits. (What do you think I would have had to do to get the Doyenne boots from this winter?)

K: True. And I don't know. How badly do you want them?

JA: Somewhere between pack o horny midgets & aging swinging hipster couples. I'm not sure, I'd have to see 'em again.

(Retail: $798)

K: Not sure how easy it would be to find a readily available plethora of horny midgets... You might do better with hipsters. But you could definitely earn enough.

JA: OR we could just start a site for other anthro-whores to hook up and get their Anna Sui fix and get all our booty from the ad sales... just a thought.

K: We could be the new gofugyourself girls. Except instead of commenting on other's fashion faux pas, we could make them in the name of quality clothing stores.

JA: AWESOME!! Who would you pick as your avatar? Dude, I have to be Chloe Sevigny... or should I be Bai Ling?

K: Damn. If I can't have Bai Ling, I'd definitely take la-lohan.

JA: Isn't there a tacky Jewess? Well, I suppose nobody gives a fuck about Fran Drescher anymore.

K: Right. I can't think of any but I think we could make la-lohan honorary just for our cause.

JA: Very well. I dub thee la-lohanukkah.

K: Would that make you Bai Lingmas?

JA: I think I'm really more of a Scarlett-go-bragh-less kind of lass.

K: Well played.

Indeed. Amusingly, during the latter half of this conversation I was in the middle of reading an article in the Sunday Styles section of the Times. "Buying Into The Green Movement: Eco-friendly shopping may be fashionable, but critics argue it won't reduce global warming" I had just reached the section about a San Francisco group called Compact whose members have taken a vow of poverty, I mean, uh... they've vowed to live one entire year purchasing only food and medicine. I was just reading about a professional dog-walking girl who counted a new pair of running shoes among her errant purchases.

I hadn't even taken one trick and I still felt like a whore. I thought to myself, "If they knew how much crap I'd bought last month alone there would be a LOT of finger wagging."

Now though, I have a question - if you're only allowed to purchase food and medicine - what do you do if you have a cat? Homemade cat food? Or does that count among your food purchases? Or better still, what about kitty litter? Huh? Spend a whole year raiding children's sandboxes? Well, you can't. Because people caught on that strays were using them for just that purpose and filled everything with wood chips and sealed it over with recycled tires. And it said nothing of toiletries. Licking those girl's ears must be, erm, tasty.

Whatever. I'm sure my "carbon footprint" is dark and indelible. *le sigh* A thousand lashes with a wet spelt-flour noodle.