Monday, June 29, 2009

Pesky Pork Tenderloin!

Last night, I made pork tenderloin. I found this recipe for a sweet and sour glaze online and it looked great before I put it in the oven. There was brown sugar, soy sauce, honey, balsamic and minced onion and garlic involved. I baked it in the oven within an inch of its life. It came out grey and dry. I think next time, I shall braise it in some kind of creamy wine and mushroom situation, slowly and maybe with some pearl onions. I served my pork-fail with sauteed carrots with butter, salt and pepper, and frisee/mache salad with campari tomatoes, red onion and a pumpkinseed oil (THANKS SARAH!)/balsamic vinaigrette, with shaved parm on top.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Atlantic City on DVD

I watched Atlantic City (dir. Louis Malle) this weekend, starring Susan Sarandon and Burt Lancaster. I believe it was recently released on DVD for the first time, and since this came out in 1980 (when I was just six), I never saw it before. It starts off very avant garde and slowly comes together with some kind of semi-cohesive plot. Susan plays Sally, a waitress and aspiring casino dealer who dreams of working in a casino in France. Sally meets Lou (Lancaster) and they engage in some creepy flirtation/manipulation together, each getting something they need from the other. Lou used to be a big shot (I think he's a metaphor for the city itself), Sally is trying to be a big shot, Lou windowstalks Sally as she rubs lemons on herself to clean off the smell of failure, drugs are bought and sold like candy bars out in the open. It's all so very. However cliché, the real star here is the city itself and the criminals who run it, the decrepit town that once was a gem in its hayday. It's quite a rundown snapshot of a forgotten moment in time. Definitely worth watching.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Up! (in 3d?)

Up in 3D this weekend. Cute movie: funny moments, heartwarming, clever, pretty, blah blah - Pixar rarely disappoints. However the fact that they needed to release this in 3D is a little odd. A regular movie in NYC is around $12.50 now. This is enough to almost make me want to blow my brains out. Especially since it means that next year, it'll probably cost $1 or $1.50 more. Grrr. Reason #548 why I go to the movies as much as possible whenever I visit Florida, which is like, incessantly.

To see a movie in NYC in 3D, we're talking $16.50. For a movie. For a movie that doesn't even really have any 3D stuff going on in it. I know, because I saw Coraline, and that shit was in 3D. It was worth having to deal with placement of clunky plastic glasses over my own glasses for almost 2 hours because 3D stuff was happening. Over my own glasses. For two hours. It made me gasp. A couple of times. I don't recall a single 3D moment in the entire length of Up. I must be a fracking idiot.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Swapping: LOLs Optional

I'm an avid swapper. I'm on a certain makeup website *cough* wherein one can set up an account, establish a reputation and swap makeup that can be sanitized/ clothes/ fragrances/ nailpolish/ accessories/ jewelry/ books/ cds, anything you can think of. I've been doing this online for over two years now and it allows me to try new things without having to buy them. I highly recommend it. There are all kinds of swapping sites out there now, some for books, music, movies, furniture, everything. In this crappy economy, it's really just the best and most fun way to get things you want or need without shelling out the cash.

The fun thing about swapping is the interaction with the people you swap with. People can be incredibly generous. Swapping has nearly re-established my faith in humanity. Some people put crazy-generous extras in their swaps. Extras are the icing on the cake. Samples of skincare, toys, costume jewelry, hair accessories, crap you don't need, stuff you can throw in to other swap packages. Coming home to a swap package is like having a birthday on any random day of the week. There are also RAOKs, Random Acts of Kindness. You know someone from the website, you know she's lemming (wanting) something and you have it lying around, so you get her address from someone you trust and you sent it to them. RAOKS are very common. The internet is not as evil as the news makes it out to be. I have only encountered one or two loonies in all of my experiences with swapping and I've been swaplifted only once.

(click to read)

This note was in a swap I just completed. I swapped her a barely touched MAC Cream Colour Base from the Ungaro collection. An impulse purchase based in great reviews. I hated it. It didn't work on me at all. She offered me a MAC giftcard for it. She was at work at the mall and sent me this along with it on the very same day. It says: "Thank you for this swap! Sorry no extras. I was at work. Have a Coke on me." The note was stuck to a dollar bill. I cracked up. This gal would rather send me a dollar than have there be no extras in my package. I thought it was the funniest thing ever.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Comfort Food Redux

I grew up in the 70s and 80s. My mother was a dinner-assembler, not a cook, so if it was fast, convenient and simple to do, my mother was all for it. If a meal took more than 20 minutes to prepare, it was called Passover. Cubed steak, a.k.a. "poor-man's steak" was a family favorite. Less work and slightly more luxurious-seeming than a hamburger, cubed steak is a special piece of meat. In its natural state, it'd probably too tough to eat. But when pounded with a meat mallot within an inch of its life to a thin cutlet, it's quite simply, delicious mediocrity. Slather on the A-1.

I marinated this cubed steak in worcestershire sauce, sauteed in a hot frying pan coated in a layer of ground salt and pepper. While that was scorching, I sauteed some cleaned, halved brussels sprouts, another favorite from my youth, only when I was served these, they were usually bought frozen. These babies are fresh. Salt, pepper, olive oil and a tiny dab of butter.

Finally, I slapped together a baby arugula salad with some quartered campari tomatoes. If this was true to a dinner at home in Rosedale, Queens when I was 12 and my mother was tired, the salad would have actually been a pot of instant mashed potatoes. Idahoan "mashed potatoes" were my mom's brand of choice. Oy. Not until I grew up did I actually taste the real thing (which, by the way, are supereasy and quick to make, especially if you like them skin-on like I do.) The instant ones don't even really taste like potatoes. They kinda taste sludge? In any case, I'm involved in a lowcarb diet situation and the salad was delish, thankyouverymuch!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Time to Prime

So those who know me well know I'm kind of a makeup whore. Ok, that's an understatement. I love the makeup. It's all like toys for me. I used to play with stickers and now I play with makeup. Pretty/fun/cute stuff to play with that adds a little spring to my step. Stuff that sparkles, shimmers, glows. Stuff that's nude, stuff that's colory. I love looking at it, shopping for it, talking about it. I love all of it.

But before any of that stuff can go on properly, one must consider a base, something to smooth out the canvas and make it all last. So what do I use? I use primers.

For my eyes, I use Urban Decay Primer Potion (UDPP). It's easy to find (Sephora/Ulta/ and it works. A thin layer of this before shadow and it makes my eye makeup stay put all day. Like, seriously, ALL DAY. Until I take it off. I've tried a few other brands (Lumene, Too Faced, Smashbox) and I'm trying Art Deco right now - a German brand that's hard to find here in the US, although they're beginning to sell it in sets on HSN (how random is that?) but I always go back to UDPP. It's lifechanging. Before I discovered this, every day, by noon, my once-beloved (not anymore since I know better) Stila Kitten had shifted into my crease, and I was shadowless for the rest of the day. *shudders*

For my face, I use MAC Prep & Prime SPF 50. Not only does it protect from the sun, but it keeps my makeup on and it keeps the oilies away longer than anything else I've tried. I've tried Peter Thomas Roth, Smashbox, Bare Escentuals, Dr. Brandt, Arcone, Avon, Shiseido, YSL, Chanel. You name it, I've tried it. This is the best. This in combination with Clean and Clear blotting sheets and MAC Blot Powder, I can go anywhere. I can ride horses and do trapeze and go rollerskating.

For lips, MAC Prep & Prime Lip keeps my lipstick on and prevents feathering. I love this for those sheer lipsticks that tend to run off your face within 15 seconds of application. All those lipstick-balm hybrids that are out there now, without this primer, are completely useless to me. It also keeps my lips from drying out when I use my MAC lipsticks, which are notorious for sucking the moisture out of lips.

I know this all seems like a lot of steps, a lot to go through to keep your face on, but I love all this stuff. It's not work to me, it's the kind of stuff that helps me when I can't get myself out of bed in the morning on a Monday. Gives me a little ritual to look forward to.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Onaga: The Final Frontier

Last night, my dear husband (DH) brought home some onaga, which is a hawaiian red or ruby snapper. Onaga sounds to me like some wonderful place I should visit before I die, or some sushi-inspired sex position I might want to skip. But it's just a pretty little fish, with red and white scales, thick and white flesh, steaklike and firm, moist but not oily. I had never made this fish before. I dressed it as I do all my new fish, with olive oil, lemon, salt, pepper, garlic and fresh parsley from the herb garden. I figure, next time, I can make it more adventurous when I know better how long it needs to cook and how it tastes shining in its own light. I was about to stick it under the broiler when DH suggested that I saute it so it could be golden and crusty. So I did. It stuck to my stainless steel pan but it ended up with a deliciously rewarding crust. And I picked as much skin out of the pan post-crust instead of having dessert. I love crispy fish skin. It's my thing, let it go.

I'm on a low-carb diet, so I made mashed cauliflower with a little butter, olive oil, garlic, and fresh garden chives and I sauteed some bokchoy with garlic, light soy, hot pepper and sesame oil.

I promise, I shall get better at plating/lighting. This is my very first foray into the world of food porn. Thanks for watching.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Yummy, Dirty Japanese

One of my favorite spots to eat good, cheap food and drink good, moderately-priced sake is Kenka, located on St. Marks Place between 2nd and 3rd Avenues (underneath Search and Destroy). You kinda can't miss it, with its confusing Japanese awning and the giant, fibreglass 'mystery mongrel' figurine posing for pics in the front. As a creature of habit, I tend to order the same thing every time I go, not because it's the only good thing on the menu, but because I'm a little afraid of the meat there. They have all kinds of traditional meat dishes, fried mystery fish, frog, testicles, you name it. Plus, the place is kinda dirty. There's a no-vomiting policy listed on the menu. I think I'm just gonna go ahead and pass on that. I'm generally not a big fan of 'food-adventure' when there's meat involved anyway. I'll try any fruit or vegetable you put in front of me, but I just choose to follow my instincts/anticipated gag reflex when venturing out into meatfood I've never eaten before.

At Kenka, I always start with sake - any sake, dry, cold, hot, unfiltered, whatever. I'm an equal opportunity sake person. Gimme the sake. Then I get the stir-fried mixed vegetables, the age dashi tofu and the miso rice balls. The vegetables are a no-brainer. Onions, scallions, cabbage and carrots, stir fried with sesame seasoning. Slightly greasy and delicious. Nom. The age dashi tofu is decent here, safely meat-free, except for the bonito flakes they use on top. It kind of tastes like the bottom of a new sneaker, but in a good way, if that makes any sense. Fried tofu has such a strange texture but I can't get enough for some reason. The miso rice balls are great for sharing because they're served as a pair, a pair of balls, grilled and crunchy, hot, salty and fantastic. I also think it's important to mention the REAL reason I like Kenka: when they bring you the check, they give each diner/embiber a tiny medicine cup with a half teaspoon of cotton candy sugar, with which you can make your own cotton candy on your way out! Fer serious.

Go after 5 on an early weekday or wait like a dog. A hungry, sober dog.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Drag Me To Hell

Last night I saw Drag Me To Hell, the new Sam Raimi horror flick. I remember seeing a preview and getting very excited about it, because not only did it look scary and funny, but it's also relevant. That bank loan officer could be you or me, and that old lady could be any random loony off the street, losing her house, asking for another extension on her mortgage. Very mid-recession - nice touch with that. It COULD totally happen?! Ok, maybe not. Maybe it couldn't happen. All I know is that I had to go see it ITT (in the theater).

This movie made me laugh, made my palms sweat and made me cringe. I enjoyed all of the glory of the classic sound and visual effects reminiscent of the masterpiece that was The Evil Dead. It's hard to keep the films separate and if you see it, you'll know what I mean.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

That was what I had originally wanted to call this blog, but the title, well, it was already taken. Not that I work on a ranch, or have any ranch affiliations. I just say that a lot - it's one of my -isms. "Meanwhile, back at the ranch, that's the thing of the matter." So what is this blog's purpose? Really, it has none. Just a place for me to ponder, express the goings on in the world there yonder, and here thither, and write about stuff that I see.