Wednesday, April 30, 2008

there should be a space, but it's okay

Okay, so let's cue up our favorite old Van Halen song and talk about teachers. If you have the time, money, and inclination, I encourage you to take the twelve-week cooking class at Kitchen on Fire. My only complaint is that I don't understand why Chef MikeC. insists on writing his name with no spaces. Puzzler. Other than that, he and his class are perfect. I've had some engaging professors in my day, but this guy seems to love what he does and the class is hilarious, informative, safe, and so goddamned fun I can't even tell you. So go take it. With your Mom. Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

I've been a recipe slave for a long time. Yesterday got a pork tenderloin, roasted it with rosemary, farmers' mkt carrots and spring onions, and made a nice fruit jam, took care of some waxy potatoes in need of a good beating. I love a good beat down, don't you? This was what was in my fridge. It took no time and because I was cleaning as I went (mis en place, people!), I had nothing to clean up afterwards but my roasting pan. Oh my god, where did this guy come from and how did he teach the most inattentive student in the world to cook?!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

in case you didn't notice . . .

Barbecue Season (BBQS) is upon us. Yes, you could argue that BBQS lasts all year in Northern California and I'd heartily second you, but it really starts to feel official when every weekend is preceded by an invitation that goes so far to the extreme into the inventory of the distasteful that it leaves one with no other choice but to get out the spice rub and prepare for gastronomical diversion:

"while the mission's fronting face may be all 99 cent stores, pigeons eating puke on the sidewalk, smells of urine, taquerias, and hipsters, the back side is a little oasis of calm green seldom seen. honestly, a beautiful bird nested right outside our back door and laid one quite beautiful, perfecto white egg! so don't stress. you don't need to get on your tight jeans, american apparel, or shag cuts for a garden party! just come kick it and bring a friend! there will be bbq'ing, drinking, hula hooping, and longboard skateboarding! hang out, say hi, have a beer, water a tree, eat something good!"

Time to officially shift the freelance hours to 12am to 4am. Sleep when you're dead. In the meantime, there are chimney starters to fire up! Are you grillmeister enough?

Monday, April 21, 2008

my life as an editor

"Cross out as many adjectives and adverbs as you can."—E. L. Doctorow

. . . and move on.

Friday, April 18, 2008

my house of cards: tantrum

Armed with cameras, friends can defect into the not-friend-at-all category without warning. At least temporarily. Until the camera is put down and stepped away from. At Supperbridge®, our small collective of bridge-playing amateur chefs, most recently hosted by the little self, I pitched a fit that was regrettably caught on film. I needed to stop with the learning of so many card-game rules. And I needed to stop immediately.

Given that, throwing myself onto the table seemed like just the ticket. What can I say? A girl can only handle so many trumps, rubbers, suits, and bids before she just needs to flip her hand and demand we all just move instantly and without argument on to dessert and coffee or continue playing over her dead body.

Hopefully the forced dessert made up for the antics: amaretto zabaglione with strawberries in a balsamic-black pepper sauce. Before that was herbed rack of lamb, tarragon mash, a now-standby beet salad with homemade almond butter, and finally a nice French rosé for the kids. Ply loved ones with liquor and they'll tolerate just about anything.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

my new workout video

You should hop along with us. It's very good fun. (And by the way, it only counts as a complete routine if you last until the dog appears in the final scene.)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

dinner new orleans style

It has been the Era of Freelancia lately, with work day and night, including weekends. So there's only been time to mist the orchids and use my new pull-up bar (yes, Fierce bought me one and I love it more than life itself) on the way to hitting the showers between the near-constant editing, writing, revising.

However, a girl's gotta eat. So Honky and I decided to pause the treadmill and cook it up BIG last night. We made alligator sausage cheesecake and chipotle shrimp with okra and black cherry tomatoes. No, I'm not kidding. I forgot to take pictures. I know! I'm really sorry! But it was hours in the making and by the time I finished the presentation on the plate, I was inches from eating my own arm. This was "nick of time" territory.

Was it good, you ask? Well it was kind of like when you're a kid and you insist you can eat the whole banana split and then get a few bites in and realize it's so big and you're so little and the victor in the battle will decidedly not be you. I admit it: we were defeated by the cheesecake. In fact, by the time I was done, I was on the floor beside my chair. It was all-caps rich. I'd intended for the okra and tomatoes to cut the sweet, cheesy goodness, but suffice to say its sauce, a roux involving bacon fat, may not have been the best device for cutting richness. Noted.

Happily, we'll have a chance to redeem ourselves with cooking in the weeks to come, as I'm enrolled with my bloodsister comrade BFF, the Spatula Maestro, in a cooking course called Kitchen on Fire.

Kennedy elves will also attempt to return with more dog news, shots of an orchid about to bloom, and book reports in time for your summer beach-reading shopping spree. So many books. I have read some greats. In the meantime, there's a pull-up record to beat.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

facebook is watching you.

[Here's a kind of amazing addition to the Facebook fact sheet—the opt-in permits Blockbuster to notify friends and family of the videos you rent. Zoinks, glad I use Netflix.]

I blog. This is narcissism. No denying. I can defend myself and say my reviews and articles continue to travel farther—with more forthcoming in the Monthly, the Chronicle, and elsewhere around the webforest—and that this will serve as the single Kennedy depot, the ranger station.

But then there is the "proof of life" aspect, the indulgent stuff that has nothing to do with news you can use. It's instinct: we hang these shingles to advertise our well-lived, purposeful lives, posting pretty pix and declaring for all the world, "Look! My life is so great! My friends all have white teeth and every one of us has read Ulysses! We are very good on mountain bikes, we play instruments, and we cook better than your Nana."

So I thought for a moment that the solution to this staged self might be committing to posting unflattering pix, making a point of writing about the nights spent at home eating chips in my PJs instead of at the Ani D concert, at supper club, at comrades' art openings, and just generally resisting the egotistical temptation to inflate the illusion of my social network through dubious and vapid devices like Myspace and Facebook. But I don't think you care that I stay home and eat chips. Do you?

So instead, we will just keep doing what we're doing. And millions more of you will continue doing what you're doing, even if it's chatting on Myspace about the sexy beasts at the hellafierce beer bust you recently attended, pix with wagging tongues and rude gestures to boot. That's fine. Our lies and glorifications constitute our wabi-sabi and what matters is that we're honest with our inner circle and putting something, anything good out in the world aside from self-aggrandizing hot shots. We can all do that, right? Deal.

But one thing: before you tab over to a new window and update your profile with the pic that caught your good side, let me just share an interesting Guardian article that NT forwarded on the type of user data collection carried out by the upstanding folks over at Facebook. Anyone out there in legal? The last few paragraphs of this deft takedown address their privacy policy, well worth reading. If a company like Facebook states that—whether or not you opt out—they back up personal information, does this mean signing on to the user agreement necessarily discounts your right to write in and request your personal information not be sold, rented, or stored? In other words, by signing on to Facebook, are users signing away their privacy? Maybe this is an obvious "yes." Swoop in and tell if you know, legal eagles.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

curse at the crybabies

Black, Alan. Kick the Balls: An Offensive Suburban Odyssey. June 2008. Hudson Street Press. 304p. ISBN: 978-1-59463-047-7. $23.95.

for Library Journal

Alan Black, who grew up in Glasgow but now runs a San Francisco bar and literary venue called the Edinburgh Pub Castle, spins this yarn of his spectacularly unsuccessful venture into coaching peewee soccer with a bartender’s irreverent style. Replete as it may be with heart, humor, and clever cynicism, the book—at 304 pages—reads like a drawn-out anecdote, with several narrative spin-offs distracting from the games themselves: fictitious “news articles” following each loss, sarcastic moral inquiries to a televangelist Black watches late at night, running conversation with Ben & Jerry whose ice cream he eats for comfort and consolation, and laments of the staid suburban life. The actual game commentary, on the other hand, is brisk, cruel, and hilarious, a play-by-play exhibition of the differences between today’s “everyone’s a winner” athletics and the antic traditions of Black's generation of players, bonded by their roguish will to take the game at any cost. While his team goes the entire season without winning a single game, Black pulls off enough laugh-out-loud insights to make this rough-and-tumble, often offensive cultural commentary a winner. Recommended for all public and private libraries. Elizabeth Kennedy, Oakland, CA

Friday, April 04, 2008

abandon all hope, ye who enter here

Nice is fine, but bitchy can be so much more fun. Behold the visceration! My comrade P shares his opinion of a certain little book forced upon him as part of his certification as a capital-E Editor. (His is the first comment, dated April 2, 2008 and attached to the one-star rating.) Am I the only one who loves to listen so closely as the searing brand of effete sadism touches its tender targets? Youch!