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?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


This summer has been hot, hot, HOT. I'm very grateful to live in an apartment with central air, but nobody likes being cooped up inside when the sun is (mercilessly) shining. You feel guilty, like you SHOULD be braving the heat to be doing something summer-y and fun, because god only knows winter is just around the corner. I hate winter.

So I'm very glad that Mel & AJ have brought back the famous kiddie pool:

Mel & AJ have an abiding love for smoking stodgies in the pool, which is apparently a tradition of theirs most evenings when they come home from work. The couple that smokes together... drops their ash into the pool. (AJ!)

When the shadows begin to lengthen, we light citronella torches to ward off the stinging beasties:

Although the pool is still as warm as bath water, we get out in the evenings and toast with mint juleps, made with fresh mint from the garden:
We cool off, refresh and drink bourbon to try and ease the sweltering heat and maybe, possibly try to forget that this is the last summer Mel and AJ will be here. It isn't an easy thing to think about, so we work hard to cram all of the love and fun we can into this hot and sticky season.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


...I accidentally slammed the dogs tail in the door which started bleeding a lot so then Deb took him to the vet and he had to get 4 staples put in but he won't stop licking them so he has to wear this stupid cone which he absolutely hates but this picture is just so silly and cute I can't resist laughing at it every time.

Yeah, I'm a terrible dog mommy. But as a wise parent of a human child told me, "Everyone drops the baby at some point". Jeez. Can't wait for my own human children, because if I feel this guilty about a DOG I can't even imagine what my brain will be like with actual offspring.

What else is new? Hmmm. This week is a little crazy because I'm workshopping a new play being written by the lovely and very talented Madi Distefano called MEANWHILE...

It's a two-person quick change comedy that spoofs film noir. It's hilarious. If you're in Philly this week, come and check out our reading this Sunday, 7/25 at 6pm in the upstairs of Plays & Players. Or go and see the actual production of it this spring when BRAT puts it onstage.

Other than that, I've been writing a lot, both for The Cozy Herbivore and as a guest poster on the Green Aisle Grocery blog. Check out my latest entry (a berry crumble/berry cobbler debate) here.

I'm proud to report that Hyde is recovering nicely from his... err... incident. And I, in turn, am now super-paranoid about letting all of him get out the door before I close it.

All's well that ends well, I suppose...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

So Heeeeyyyyyy....

How's things with you? How is your summer going?

Mine's going just swimmingly, thanksforasking. (You see what I did there? SWIMMINGLY? In the SUMMER?! Okay, I'll stop.)

My show closed (finally glorygloryhallelujah and if you ever want a long and drama-filled theater story, buy me a drink, ask me about it and I'll give you quite an earful...) and now I'm doing... nothing, officially. Of course, "nothing, officially" really means lots and lots, unofficially. Which is fun.

Right now I'm interning at Green Aisle Grocery, which is the cutest little boutique grocery store EVER. Seriously, if you live in Philly you must come and check it out. The owners, Adam & Andrew are super nice and they're even letting me write a guest column on Green Aisle's blog! Check out my Summer Cocktail post here.

I've also been really hard at work on my food blog, The Cozy Herbivore. It's currently rocking an awesome site re-design (thanks to Mona!) and some great summer recipes. I'm really focusing on local and seasonal ingredients this summer and I'm also working hard on my food photography. I'm really proud of the way this blog is growing, shaking and yes, cooking. With gas. So you should all check it out and become a facebook fan and follow me on Twitter. Because if you don't, I'll think you're lame. There, I said it.

Annnnnd I've been having other adventures too-- tomorrow I'm going to the BEACH which I'm superduper excited about because I didn't get to the beach ONE TIME last summer and that was a total drag. Not this summer, I determined. So I'm sure I'll have lots of beach-y happy fun photos for you after tomorrow, but until then you're just going to have to content yourselves with a few photos from My Summer Thus Far.

The week after my show closed my mother convinced me (by buying me a bus ticket) to come up for a short visit because there was to be a May Family Gathering. Now unlike the Tompkins, who get together most weekends and have lovely picnics all summer long, the Mays rarely gather together. Mostly because a lot of the Mays live far away, but also because if you get too many Mays together for too long, it's like a scene from Highlander-- THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE. Of course we love each other very much blah, blah, blah.... and we do indeed love to do what the Mays do best: eat and drink.

So when my Uncle Chris called and said he was going to be in town and would we like to come and eat at a fancy restaurant in Syracuse can you guess what we said?

Oh hell yes!

(l-r Aunt Therese, my new Uncle Jim, the Grandfather, Mom, random waiter who talked like a robot, brother Joe-man, Aunt Maureen, Uncle thanks-for-the-food-and-booze Chris, Dad)

My visit home was short (but very sweet) and I'm really happy I got to spend some time with the family. I even snuck in a quick lunch with Weas, who has taken up running. For fun. Don't get me wrong, she looks FANTASTIC, but who is this person and what have you done with Weas? I concluded my trip by making a vegetarian meal for the family which of course you just know I had to blog about.

I had to return home to Philly in a hurry because that weekend was our epic Fourth of July party. Deb and I fretted incessantly about this party-- would anyone show up? Because it was a potluck, would we have enough food? Would my veggie burgers hold up on the grill? WOULD THERE BE ENOUGH BOOZE TO GO AROUND?

We needn't have worried. Folks showed up in droves, and everyone brought something to eat. And to drink. And just when we started to worry that there was TOO MUCH food & drink that we would never finish ever and we don't have enough refrigerator space and we hate to waste food and all of this booze needs to be drunk by SOMEONE the horde descended and, like the proverbial locusts, devoured everything. It was amazing. Our friends are amazing.

Even the people we sorta-kinda know are amazing:

Okay, so Lauren & Dan on the left side of the picture are old friends, but new friends-of-friends came too!

Amanda brought this bottle of Canadian whiskey and proceeded to harass everyone into taking swigs. From the bottle. She went home at 11pm that night.

(l-r: Rachel, Amanda "the pusher" McKenna, Carrie)

Deb & Scotty pumped UP the jam:

What would a 4th of July be without fire in the hands of inebriated people?
Jered shows off his fire style while Sarah cheers him on? Tries to eat his face? I can't really tell.

And of course it wouldn't be a party at our place if Lindsay & Deb didn't get drunk and take off their pants/do stupid stuff like piggy-back rides:

It was a really fucking fun night.

And SPEAKING OF Deb, my lovely lady just hit a major milestone: last Sunday was her 30th birthday!

She decided to invite our besties for dinner at the Jamaican Jerk Hut (shut up, haters) followed by a night of serious drankin' at Bob & Barbara's, home of the $3 Philly Special. (For those of you unfortunate out-of-towners that's a can of PBR and a shot of Jim Beam. Shutup. You know you want it.)

It was an AWESOME night.

Eating at the Jerk Hut:

Cherie Tay FTW!

Yeah, it was hot, so we all looked so glisten-y:

(l-r: Mel, Debs, Rachel, Leo)

The food is SO GOOD:

(Cherie and Bryan, keepin' it klassy)

A rather blurry picture of my girl eating her Brown Chicken:

This is me all: Where's my wallet oh who are you, stealing my camera and then taking this picture?
I also learned an important lesson that night about wearing a vintage maxi dress when it's pouring rain... namely that the hem gets mad wet and that moisture travels up your skirt so you feel damp all night long...

Deb is all: I got the money for the check and I'm looking real cool and then Mel decides to grab my boob:

Our friends have such great taste in shoes, even if I do make fun of Alison's inner dyke for coming out with these boots (although they are super hot and secretly I want them):

Moving on to Bob & Barbara's, where the photos got a little blurry towards the end of the night...
...I'm sure it had NOTHING to do with all of those empty beer cans behind us. Nothing at all.

Our friends are so foxy, even when they are making fishy faces:

(l-r Mel, Alison with her hot lesbian boots, Carrie I-just-sucked-a-lemon-slice-or-maybe-just-did-a-shot-of-bourbon-face)

So my last few weeks have been unofficially wonderful. And I look forward to lots of unofficial fun in the weeks to come as well.