Thursday, September 23, 2010

On Asking and Telling

Our service men and women, both the straight and the (closeted) gay ones, are dying for their country. Why are we squabbling about an archaic policy that keeps people shamed and quiet when they are literally laying down their lives to keep the rest of us safe?

It's ridiculous and it's hurtful.

On a completely different note, I started culinary school yesterday. It's exhilarating, if a bit overwhelming at this point. More on this later....

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Last night I attended the opening night of the Keila Cordova Dances piece entitled As Big As The World.

It was a wonderful show. Catch it if you can-- it closes this weekend.

For the last three Fringes I've stage managed Keila's productions and they have been some of the most wonderful times of my stage management career. Keila and Andrew are so wonderful, the dancers are sweet and funny and very talented, plus there's always a baby hanging around to play with. It has been the essence of the Fringe Festival for me-- hard work + long hours + great people= a perfect experience. The very beginnings of creation, the birthing of Art.

It was weird to see the show merely from the audience's perspective, but I loved it. A huge thank-you to Keila, Andrew and the dancers for creating such a great work and for all of the wonderful Fringe-y memories of years past.

And in other news...

I started working as the pastry chef's assistant at the Fountain this week. It's totally fucking awesome.

My first day we made simple syrup and berry toppings and apple turnovers and then experimented with honeycomb candy, which was later made into an ice cream. Yesterday we made brownies and hot fudge and absinthe truffles. Yes, you heard right. ABSINTHE TRUFFLES.

I never saw myself interested in pastry/candymaking. But I'm fascinated. I love it. I want to learn everything I can about it. It certainly doesn't hurt that the pastry chef (her name is Davina) is awesome and funny and sweet and a GREAT teacher.

Next week I'm going to learn how to make ice cream. What the WHAT? This is so exciting.

AND on Thursday I made a trip up to New York to pick up my official Natural Gourmet Institute chef jacket, houndstooth pants, aprons and side towels. Plus of course I got some drinking done with Kris, Leah and Kelly. It's going to be a fun year.

It's real, people. It's really happening. So fast. Less than two weeks now.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Soda Jerk

Mixing a Japanese Thirst Killer at Franklin Fountain.

Despite the occasional rude customer ("can you just shut up and give me my change?") I'm really getting into this job.

Come visit me. I'll scoop you some ice cream or mix a phosphate for you. And you can be one of those lovely customers that makes my day.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Leaves of Change

It's that time of year again, folks: last night was the official opening of the Philadelphia Live Arts & Fringe Festival and for me, the unofficial beginning of Fall.

I had the privilege of attending Jenn Rose, Dan Kazemi and Steve Pacek's production of Untitled Project #213 in my old stomping grounds at the Walnut's Studio 3 space. Philadelphia people, don't miss this show. It plays this weekend only and it's the best piece of theater I've seen in a very long time. Poetic, beautiful, deeply heart-wrenching. The technical elements were absolute perfection and the performers were astonishing. Thank you so much for such a wonderful theatrical experience.

After the show, when I finally stopped sobbing, I pulled myself together to go to the opening of this year's Festival Bar with Amanda and Arizona. The venue has changed (and become a little more clubb-y and less art-y) but the cheap beer and dancing remained.

It's going to be a great couple of weeks.

In other news........

For those of you who follow me on facebook (become a fan if you haven't already!), twitter (ditto) or at The Cozy Herbivore this news is a bit old, but for the rest of you, here goes:
Yep, I gave my resignation to the Walnut Street Theatre. I am changing things up to the extreme, following a dream and going to culinary school this fall at the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts in New York. I will be commuting there two days a week for the next ten months. It's a huge step for me... I have never done anything but theater in my adult life. And I love it, I still do. Once the theater gets into your blood it never leaves. It's like malaria.

But the schedule was really wearing me down, and more than that, I have felt a wellspring of creativity bubbling up inside of me for several years now that has been up to this point rather frustrated and unfulfilled.

Let's face it, being a stage manager is an exciting and interesting job, but it is not creative in any way. It's a facilitating job-- I helped artists create all day every day. And I miss being a part of that creativity. I have no interest in theatrical creativity myself-- I'm no director, not cut out to be an actor, and my design work is woeful. Still, I itch to step out from the sidelines, to not always be the woman sitting quietly at a table taking notes about other people's art.

Since I was a little girl I have always loved to write, and in recent years I have discovered an abiding love of food and cooking. It's suddenly become my dream to channel both of these loves into a new career. I'm thinking I would like to get into food writing or recipe development. Or possibly be a personal chef. I don't know exactly what, yet. But I do know that I don't want to spend too much time in a restaurant kitchen. Because, let's face it, if I am complaining about the long night hours and the low pay of theater, how is restaurant work any different? Right down to the crazy behind-the-scenes drama, the two are linked in an adrenaline-fueled, sleep-deprived junkie sort of way.

In the mean time, a girl's gotta make her money, so I got a job at the Franklin Fountain. If you're in Philly, you simply must check this place out. It's awesome, handmade artisan ice cream served in the style of a turn of the century soda fountain. Right now I am a soda jerk, but on Tuesday I begin training with the pastry chef to be her assistant. The Fountain has purchased an old fashioned candy shop next door and will open it in time for the holidays.

Never in my wildest foodie dreams did I think I would get into candy making, but I am fascinated and terribly excited to learn all about it. I especially love that the Fountain is committed to local and seasonal ingredients, prepared in an old-fashioned way.

So now I've caught you up and I can stop dropping mysterious hints on this blog about Big Changes. Onward...

Monday, August 9, 2010

Son of a Beach!

This summer has been a weird one for me & Deb... kinda stressful, very poor (okay, nothing weird about that, we're always poor in the summer) and in a break from tradition, we're not taking a vacation this summer. There are many reasons for this which I can't really get into right now, but let's just say Big Things are coming and we can't really get away.

Enter Beth to the rescue: she has planned and organized two trips to the beach at Strathmere, NJ with a great group of friends to help us get out of the city. Thanks Beth!

We returned from trip #2 last night, sandy and sunburned and bone-tired from frolicking in the ocean. It was blissful. It may not be a full-fledged vacation, but getting away for even a day was just the change of pace we needed.

And none of this would have been possible without the help of Tara, Scotty, Mel and AJ, who took turns taking care of Hyde so his mommies could slip away for the day. Thanks guys!

Amanda and I, right after our first dip in the ocean:

Deb and Chris just, you know, chillin':

Chris and Jihad, hard at work on one of the many sand castles constructed:

The boys and Deb even tossed a football around:

Deb and Arizona give the thumbs up to beach bellies:

Arizona and Kali played some futbol:

Hold on, it's the ocean calling. I said HOLD ON!

We win! Thumbs up! (l-r: Deb, Beth, Kali, Chris)

Chris, hard at work on his second sand castle:

Getting sunburned:

What is a trip to the beach without the traditional beer shotgun?

Group shot! (l-r: girl who's name I don't know, Anna, Jihad, Marc, Deb, Kali, Beth, me, Rafiq)
As we left the beach, Chris drove us to a little ice cream shop that made their own ice cream (so different from the popular pre-made place) and we jammed the whole way back to Philly, our hair filled with sand, our bodies sunburned and our hearts very, very happy.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Great article about Judge Walker's decision being a turning point in the culture wars here.

Next stop, the Supreme Court?

This is VERY good news!!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

BREAKING! Garden Update!

I'm kidding, of course. There's nothing really "breaking" or urgent about a garden. And that's why I love them.

But anyway, the container garden is in full swing, and despite the heat, we've had many occasions to sit outside with frosty beers and enjoy it. Although the air conditioning unit on the patio is noisy, we are so grateful to have central air inside, especially during this beastly year. And in the interest of not wasting any water, we collect the air conditioner's runoff and use it to water the plants every day. I also put a bucket in the bottom of our shower (it takes FOREVER for that water to heat up to anything close to comfortable) and we use that as well to feed the thirsty plants. Sure, it's kind of a pain in the ass to lug a bucket of water outside every day, but knowing that we're doing all we can not to waste resources is really important to me. Plus I'm developing some awesome biceps-- it's a win-win!

The garden isn't all work and no play: I've been using this incredibly lush mint plant for juleps and for making mint syrup that enlivens every cocktail with a summer-y flair:

And I found a nice alternative to chemical mosquito repellents: a citronella plant!
Actually a member of the geranium family, this plant smells extremely lemon-y when disturbed even the slightest bit. I don't know if it's all that effective against those stinging buggers, but hey, every little bit counts, right?

We've just started to get our tomato crop in, and it looks like there are many more to come:

Look at this lovely Orange Blossom tomato!
They are INCREDIBLY slow to mature, but oh-so-worth it. Gorgeous and delicious!

Luckily we have the Black Cherry tomatoes coming in like they're going out of style while we wait for the Orange Blossoms:

They grow fast, they look adorable and they're so sweet & juicy:

I'm totally in love with my zebra-striped geraniums-- so cheery!

The pansies are blooming continually as well:

Even the sensitive plant, re-potted to get more sun, has started to bloom:

The pepper section of the garden is just getting swingin':

Look at this itty-bitty jalapeno!

And this bell pepper is FINALLY starting to get a little color... grow, dude, grow!

The Swiss Chard has been good to us this year, as evidenced by the stalks we've cut off and used to top sandwiches and to saute into breakfast scrambles:

Still no sign of any okra buds, although I'm not giving up hope yet:

And I'm getting a second round of green beans too!

The fairy garden seed packet has yielded a magical container of little, sweet flowers:

And the strawberries have sent runners all over everywhere, which combined with the morning glory pot (on the bottom) gives this yellow shelf an awesome overgrown look:

The morning glories say hello to me as I water every morning:

And the rosebush. Oh, the gorgeous teacup rosebush. It's been so beautiful all summer, flowering over and over. I love the delicate little blooms and I love how when they fade they scatter pink petals all over the patio. It's too perfect.

The verbena had a brush with death when I left it in an overly sunny spot, but moved to shadier digs, it's coming back:

And the bronze fennel is seriously out of control:

Of course for all of my garden successes, there was a big failure:
Both of my zucchini plants died, hard and fast. I don't know why. It's so frustrating. They both had male & female flowers, even little baby zucchinis! But then they just wilted and died. I've never had luck with any of the cucumber/squash/melon family. This same fate befalls them all. Any suggestions, fellow gardeners? I'm thinking it must be some sort of pest, although I couldn't see any huge red flags when they were dying.

Because I'm wildly obsessed with farmer's markets, I couldn't resist showing off my latest haul:

Yes, that's my foot at the bottom of the picture.

A pint of onions, a bunch of carrots, an assortment of peppers, 2 heads of lettuce, a head of garlic, 3 cucumbers and a loaf of bread for a little over $20. So stinkin' cheap, so stinkin' good.

Good god, all I want to do is live on an organic sustainable farm, raise chickens, start canning produce and making cheese. Can this happen soon, please?