Friday, November 14, 2008

Welcome Guest Blogger Audra!

Audra learnes some new tricks in the Kitchen.

tarts- above and below.

So the other night, some night previously this week, I'm not sure which as I was as alert as a comatose tortoise, I made tarts at the O'Willard's. I shouldn't say "I" did. All I did was unwrap hundreds of caramels, drop all the wrappers in the floor and make horrible faces while swallowing a cosmopolitan. But Robyn had "work" to do, so I was assigned to entertain Ginnie by making dangerous mistakes in the kitchen. Brett came along, and after we hassled the harried hateful parakeet, I went into the kitchen with Ginnie and Brett settled down to hassle Robyn.
On this particular evening the task at hand was to create two apple based desserts. I remember nothing. But for the sake of explaining the lovely pictures Robyn took, I will try to come up with something. The first dish was supposed to be apple bars. I peeled-WASHED-then peeled four apples, sliced them up and put them somewhere. Ginnie made some mash out of splenda, wheat flour (which I clearly remember one should never use), NO EGGS (which I clearly remember because I love to break eggs), and potentially some vanilla. I didn't see too much of what my mentor was up to as I was engrossed in unwrapping a 14 oz. bag of caramels. Then we put them in a pot on the stove and I stirred them up while they melted. Brett recommended putting a bit of water in the caramels to help them liquify faster. They looked like a liver before we happened upon that solution.
Then Ginnie put the stuff she made in the bottom of the dish, the apple slices went on top of that, then the caramel. I think. I then had the responsibility of mashing it together. Looked like a big muddy footprint. So we cooked that, printed off recipes for the tarts that were our next project, and managed to forget all about what we had in the oven until Ginnie commented offhandedly on the odor of burning popcorn. So we took it out. Only about 1/16 of the dish had turned into a tire.
The rest of it was quite good once Ginnie wrestled it out of the dish. She recommends using Pam or buttering the dish if you try this. For the tarts, I made dough. Which you make, and then wad up, wrap in that clear bendable stuff that keeps things fresh and stick in the fridge. Ginnie recruited one of her drinking glasses to serve as rolling pin/cookie cutter and I made tart crusts out of that dough after it chilled. Once again, I was not privy to the actual cooking going on by Ginnie.
I made crusts, then wandered away to flirt with Ned while she slaved on. We filled the crusts, cooked them, took them out, tasted them, and decided unanimously that they were TERRIBLE. So Ginnie got out a basin of lard, some gallons of brown sugar and perhaps an egg or two. She melted that all together and ladeled it over the tarts. Robyn and Brett thoroughly enjoyed them. Oh- we ate our desserts very daintily off of special shoe dessert plates. Oh no- we decided against the shoe plates and went with the ice cream plates so Brett would not feel too prissy.

Anyway, I very much enjoy cooking with Ginnie. Robyn amuses me when she wanders in and says something condescending and completely uninformed about the recipe. :) And we decided to open a bakery, Ginnie and I, called Lard Ho's.
(Audra and Brett are staring in Stage I theatre Company's Production of Tick...Tick...Boom! along with the awesome Durron Tyre- I saw it on opening night and LOVED it - please get your tickets today!)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veteran's Day Challah

Forgive me gentle readers, I have sinned - it has been almost a week since my last blog post. I have many legitimate excuses but none of which I will bore you with.

I am off work today for Veteran's Day and in honor of all the Veterans in my family I am making a Challah from scratch. You may think that is an odd choice for Veteran's day but to me it is not since it was a staple for the Veteran's in my family.
One of my favorite Veteran stories is one that my Kitty-Mom tells about her Father. Grandpa Jamison was a pilot in the Army Air Corps - before the Air Force was created that is where all the pilots were. When the Air Force was established he choose to stay in the Army. He was a Lieutenant Colonel. One day, during WWII time, he was traveling with his family and his Lieutenant's family from somewhere in the North to Fort Bragg and at a point on the train ride, I guess they were passing the Mason/Dixon line or something, the conductor came by to tell him that the Lietenant and his family had to move to the back of the last train car because they were black- except the last train car was then called the "colored car". Grandpa Jamison threw a fit and basically said if he is moving then my family is moving back there too. In the end, the conductor had them all stay put.

Today I am thinking about my Great-Uncle Sidney, who before the war, had received the good news that he had been drafted to play baseball for the Baltimore Orioles. My Uncle Sydney was one of 7 children. The Steinberg children, all of whom were first generation Americans, were Pauline, Miriam, Ruth, Sherman, Joel, Sydney and my Grandfather Bernard (who I am named after). Bernard was the oldest. All the boys went to pharmacy school for pre-med but due to the Jewish quotas enforced at that time none of them were able to go to medical school and all of them became pharmacists. When my Uncle Sydney was drafted into WWII he was a very young man in his early 20's. I believe he got drafted into the war within days of getting the news about playing for the Orioles. Sadly my Great Uncle never got to play baseball. Sydney was wounded during the Battle of the Bulge and became paralyzed from the waist down. He returned to Baltimore and lived with his father the rest of his life.
My Grandfather Bernard bought a set of parallel bars that would fold up and fit in his truck and every Sunday for a few years after the injury he would take Sydney to the park and have him practice using his legs but he never regained the use of them. I remember visiting Sydney and my Zadie (my Great Grand Father) in the house they lived in which was right across from Pimlico. He loved taking pictures of us and making us smile.
Sadly, Sydney never married, never played ball and lived his entire life with his Father. I struggle to find a "silver lining" in my Great Uncle's story, something that could take the sting away. I have decided it is this: Sydney lived a long life and passed away only a few years ago. He lived to see the end of the Holocaust, the forming of the State of Israel, and no doubt he heard many moving liberation stories. He was also surrounded by a large family that was devoted to him. It is my hope that he knew he was a hero. I think about him often but today I hold him very close to my heart.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The 1st Annual Critics Circle Awards

Please forgive the number of pics applied to this post - but there were many more I didn't post - it was hard to edit. I will be sending out a snapfish album of all my pics to the folks that are in them and anyone else who wants one.

It has taken me a few weeks to write about these awards for a couple reasons but mostly because I had to let the dust in my brain settle and try to find a good way to describe it. I am not sure if any dust has settled but I will give it a go anyway.

I was not sure what to expect out of the evening. I made a couple of index cards with some notes as to the order of the show and Dave T. gave me some things to say as far as introductions go - but I always like to put my own little spin on things. I think my friends were expecting me to be funny - and let me tell you that is the scariest thing in the world. I could barely bring myself to think about it until the day before the awards. Then I just kind of felt panicked and not ready. - you know - the usual. I had a few things I wanted to say but wasn't sure how to say them. My friend, Robyn O. was very helpful for letting me pick on her a bit (and she wasn't even going to be there) then I thought - will people just think I am being mean? Will anyone get my sense of humor? The doubt started taking over. Robert and BFF just said trust yourself - you are funny - put in all the jokes - put in even more jokes! By Sunday morning I had pretty mush decided to stick to a straight script with maybe one joke on Robyn O. thrown in for good measure.

Also I had promised her I would wear these ugly earrings because I lost a bet with her a while back. - So there I was - hours away for standing in front of 100 of my peers plus the critics, wearing ugly earrings and not having anything really funny to say.

At times like these I just stop worrying because there is too much to worry about if I did. The fun kicked in a couple hours before I was supposed to arrive at the Firehouse. Steve O. was meeting me there from work so I left early and met Robert and my BFF at White Dog for a little last minute encouragement (and a drink). I also ran into Grieg Leach who was missing the event because he was bar tending. That helped put everything in perspective for me. Then we were off to the Firehouse.

Thankfully Steve Moore was was there to get the audience laughing before I even had to step on stage. That was a huge help. Everyone looked beyond beautiful and everyone was having a great time just being all together. There were so many folks there I didn't get to see and talk to everyone I hoped to.

I had an absolute blast on stage. I got braver as the night went on and it seemed that my audience of peers did appreciate my humor and did not boo me off the stage.
In the end the awards are what they are - as Roy Proctor used to explain - they are someones opinion and that is all, but the evening itself turned into more than an award show. It was a reason for all of us to celebrate each others contribution to the theatre arts in our community - even those who could not be there and that made it worthy of the dress code and all my worrying and self doubt. I should also say that I don't believe it could have turned into such a success without the positive, happy, kind attitude of all who were in attendance (seriously - the room was full of love and not petty feelings of competition) and because of that I am most proud of this community. Critics can often divide people and companies but on this night that the critics created, I witnessed only a strong sense of respect and admiration between fellow theatre artists and I can't imagine a more successful event than that - ugly earrings and all!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

OK Robyn, here ya go.........

This post has nothing to do with food.

My friend, Robyn, who has definitely won the first round of our weight challenge, was complaining that there hasn't been a new blog entry in a while - so this one is for her!

I recently saw Robyn as Daisy in Sideshow and she was beyond excellent. I think they have 2 weeks left so go see it already!

Muffin face is deep in preparation to host the first ever Richmond Theatre Critics Circle Awards. Sunday all my peeps (well, not all of them) will congregate at The Firehouse Theatre and yours truly will stand before them and tell them they are all winners. Or something like that. I hope to throw some lame jokes in between introducing the presenters - most of which are normally responsible for either paying me or judging me. Sounds like fun, no? I can't believe they are letting me do this - be afraid Critics, be very afraid!

The event will benefit the Theatre Artists Fund which was founded by the Richmond Alliance of Professional Theaters and provides money to local actors and other theatre professionals in need of medical care or other financial help due to situations beyond their control. Unfortunately for me, it does not cover the lipo I want on my double chin. But seriously - I am a huge supporter of the Theatre Artists Fund and am very thankful it is around. You may remember last year when I hosted The Barksdale Holiday Cabaret for a night stepping in for Erin Thomas (and in fact claiming to BE Erin Thomas) - that was also to support the Actors Fund - and to make fun of myself and some of my fellow actors. Thankfully they have all forgiven me and we have moved on. Ahh, good times.
I am sure I will have some stories to tell after Sunday about these awards - I just hope they don't involve me and humiliation.

It could only be so bad - there will be alcohol involved.

Although I was not nominated for anything, I am tickled that the Critics Circle has asked me to host. Hope it goes well!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Biggest Loser

There is not much I love more than a night alone with nothing to watch but cheesy reality programs. Last night I caught an episode of Biggest Loser family. I decided to plan a menu for myself in honor of the contestants. I am so glad I was alone. Eating fried veal , shells and cheddar and drinking red wine and crying while watching the biggest loser family. Seriously. If I wasn't crying I would have been laughing at myself. (It was a particularly sad episode Y'all - someone had to send their fat daddy home.) But at least I had the food to comfort me.

I love veal and I am always looking for new ways to cook it. Last night I made wiener schnitzel style veal. Which I thought could only be made with veal until I looked up a recipe that said I could use veal, pork or chicken. Wiener schnitzel is a Viennese cutlet. It is fairly simple. I pounded the veal until it was very thin - dredged it in flour, dipped in egg and covered it in bread crumbs. One of the tricks to wiener schnitzel is to resist pressing the bread crumbs into the meat. Heat in pan and make sure it is swimming in oil. This way the crust does not stick and forms a nice raised seal around the meat. I warmed the veal in the oven on a low heat as I pan fried the pieces in small batches. At the end I threw some lemon juice on top and added capers and ground black pepper.

This was so good it was hard to resist eating the left overs for breakfast. Very hard - OK , I just had one piece before noon. Like you've never had wiener schnitzel for breakfast before??

I highly recommend watching an episode of the biggest loser while eating your favorite high calorie dinner.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Happy 5769!

Steve O. and me went down to Portsmouth again this week. We braved the Holiday traffic but luckily we avoided the Rosh Hashanah rush. Good thing. Once I was stuck in really bad Passover traffic - that was the worst. We had a wonderful time at dinner and at services. I love hearing my fathers sermons. He always has great things to say. I guess that comes with being a Rabbi. My favorite part of the sermon was when he talked about life and death, He said we should come into the world crying while everyone around us is smiling and we should leave this world smiling while those around us cry.

Harry and Allison.

My Nephew Harry kept asking where the novelty cheese was. He has very sophisticated taste.

The before dinner spread consisted of Jan's famous chopped liver, olive tapanad, marinated veggies and large olives.

candid shots of party goers.
Included in the before dinner treats were these bagel nots with meatballs inside them. Brutti (from Brutti's reastaurant) made them and brought them. They are usually done with cream cheese in the center but they did not want to risk it by bringing any dairy. I am glad they opted for the meatball center. I had three and then tried to think of a proper name for them. We all came up with, cow balls, brutti's balls, or Smagel nots.

A quiet moment of calm before the Rosh Hashanah storm.

Pop and Kitty Mom lighting the candles.

Kitty made a wonderful cold champagne and fruit soup with creme fresh on the side.

There were many kinds of honey to choose from.

Steve O. loved this pound cake.

The spread.

Fun goodie bags for our guests.

A very ugly dog. (sorry Tyvel)

Allison and Aunt Muffin Face

Allison again!!! She loves having her picture taken. I wonder who she got that from?

Kitty Mom and G.

Wishing everyone a very Happy and healthy New Year.