Wednesday, January 30, 2008

a little harmless self promotion

Muffin Face says: Take this class - it will be a rockin' good time.
"Playing Multiple Characters"with Jill Bari Steinberg February 12, 2008, 7:00-9:30Second Presbyterian Church (5 N. 5th Street)$20Richmond Shakespeare is delighted to welcome local star Jill Bari Steinberg to our training faculty for this month's workshop.

Playing multiple characters in the same play, or even the same scene, can be an intimidating challenge--or it can be a heck of a lot of fun. Jill Bari Steinberg could be considered Richmond's resident expert, having played every role in the 2004 award-winning Theatre Gym production of The Syringa Tree, which was revived at the Barksdale in 2007. This workshop will impart techniques to create distinct physical and vocal character choices, as well as directing focus changes to establish each person. Each participant will finish the workshop with a complete multi-character scene performance. You don't have to be working on a one-person show (or five-actor Shakespeare) to benefit from these character-building tools!

Instructor Jill Bari Steinberg has been called "a civic treasure" by the Richmond Times-Dispatch. She is a two-time recipient of the Times-Dispatch’s Phoebe award and was one of the first recipients of The Firehouse Theatre’s Wall of Flame awards for her body of work there over the past 10 plus years. Recent highlights include Barksdale's The Member of the Wedding, Brooklyn Boy and The Man Who Came To Dinner, the Firehouse's As Bees in Honey Drown, Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Bat Boy: the Musical, and Theatre Gym's My Children! My Africa, A Devil Inside and How I Learned to Drive (just for starters).The class is open to high school age and up. Space is limited. Participants should, as always, bring a bottle of water and be prepared to move.

Contact Director of Training Andrew Hamm at or 804-855-4998 for more information or to make a reservation.
Andrew Hamm
Director of Training, Richmond Shakespeare
Director of Contemporary Worship, Redeemer Lutheran Church
804-855-4998 (cell)

The Richmond Shakespeare Theatre
Measure for Measure: February 7 - March 2

These are a few of my favorite things......

Oprah has her list of favorite things and so does Muffin Face. Here are a few great gift ideas for the "local legend" that has everything.
This book was given to me by my BFF. I love making latkies and truly believe they should be eaten year round and not just at Chanukah but after reading this book I might think twice before taking that first bite. In case you can't read it on the blurry pic the title is The Latke who Couldn't Stop Screaming ... an Christmas story. Written by the Lemony Snickets dude. Put it on your summer reading list.
This little gem was given to me by a friend of mine who has more Christmas stuff than anyone I have ever seen. It is truly something to behold. I even featured some of her ornaments on a post entitled "A Very Scary Christmas" - remember the Christmas fetus? Anyway, Picture my delight on Christmas morning when I unwrapped this gift. The Moses nut cracker. I think we can all agree no house should be without it.
When my Pop and Kitty-Mom came down for the Top 40 party they brought me this little CREEPY guy. He looks all innocent until you pull down his fluffy white collar to reveal the very spooky clown mouth and full set of teeth. I have spared you all that image - but the first time I saw it I screamed and thew it across the room. We have since come to an understanding - he never talks to me and I don't throw him anymore and he has become one of my favorite things. You know, keep you enemies close.......

It may look like my friends are not thrilled with this baby gift for the nursery but in actuality it was exactly what they asked for. This was given to me by my friend Jake for my Birthday last year and while I absolutely love the gift it is now on loan to baby Jonah. I think this is not the last we will see of it though.

This arrived yesterday. My friend Janine, who has a great food blog, told me about this museum months ago during the great Falafel debacle of '07. Then someone gave her an apron from the museum which she recently featured on her blog and well, I could barely contain my jealousy. Little did I know I would soon possess one of my very own. yeah to that.

Please note that, much like Oprah does, this is just the first in a series of Favorite Things lists. This in no way means that these are the best gifts I got or that I didn't absolutely love other ones I received. The stunning David Yurman bracelet, for instance, that I received from my generous Mother is much adored.... it's just not very funny.

Meet the roomie

Christine and I met a while ago but recently became very close when we were both in Member of the Wedding together and subsequently had a lot of backstage time with each other. We could talk about anything - make each other laugh for hours or just sit quietly next to each other doing our own thing. I was amazing how much we actually had in common. So it worked out well when she needed a place to live and I needed a roommate.

The first pic was taken backstage before the opening night of M.O.T.W. Her boyfriend, Matt had given her these beautiful flowers and we were all pretty jealous.
The second pic is Chris and Carl. Carl played Jarvis. I want to give him a shout out too. Carl is now in NY where he is about to open Godspell off B'way and word on the street is he is also modeling (not hard to believe) .
Anyway - welcome to the penthouse Christine. Sorry about the noisy neighbors.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Traumatized at the WallMart

While my cute new Nephew (pictured above) is soon to be getting teeth, I am loosing them.

Little Muffin face has to get a root canal today. Obviously, I am not looking forward to this. One of the worst things about this condition is I have not been able to eat much this weekend. Good for my diet, bad for my soul.

This was why you have not seen a new post in a few days.
I did, however get a laugh this weekend when I went to the Super WallMart (don't judge me for going to WallMart) I went to get soup and wine. Both very good for when your teeth hurt. I was going through the check out lane and the woman behind the counter looked at me while ringing up my wine. She then stood there in silence for what seemed like a very long time time and said "Can you take off your hat?" now - keep in mind she had not asked for my ID or anything. I looked at her like she had two heads. Once I realized she was not kidding I said "Look Lady, are you really asking me to traumatize myself in the middle of WallMart? I mean, seriously- do you think for a second that I would be wearing this hat if it weren't absolutely necessary? You are really gonna make me take it off? " By this time the cashier lady and everyone in the line behind me, who were being amazingly patient during my rant, were all laughing. I said "OK, here - I have some grey and I haven't washed my hair today and this is what the top of my 39 year old head looks like. Now please give me my wine - I need it now more than ever."

As I left the WallMart I made a mental note. I must look younger in baseball hats. I think I will buy a few more.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Tastes like chicken.

I roasted a chicken last week and then used it for two other meals.

The chicken turned out well and made a good meal but my roommate, Christine and I can only eat so much so the next night I was all set to make Matzoh Ball soup. The grocery store behind my apartment is pitiful. Seriously - I think when my friend Shmara first walked in there she cried (unless that was a secret, then she didn't) . Terrible produce. I complain about this fact all the time so why was I surprised to find out they have no Matzoh Meal? I was too tired to trek across town to a decent market. I would have to find a substitute. I called my Kitty Mom and asked her if I could substitute bread crumbs for Matzoh Meal. She said no and she suggested buying pasta to add to the soup or making chicken and dumplings. Hmmm. Chicken and Dumplings sounded like a close second to matzoh ball soup. Kitty told me there was a great dumpling recipe on the back of the Bisquick box. other than the dumplings the soup was made up of everything I would have used in the matzoh ball soup. I put in baby carrots, sliced celery, mushrooms, and fresh parsley along with some herbs and spices. For a first attempt I was kind of proud of myself. It was a big hit with my roomie too.

The first night I served it over wild and long grain rice but found that it was not necessary to serve it with anything.

This made gallons of Chicken and dumplings and there was still some chicken left ....
For a chicken salad sandwich smothered in cucmber slices.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Guess who arrived this morning? My dear friend Shmara, who's mother's funeral was yesterday, went into labor early this morning.

The circle of life.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A very sad day

I have not been writing any posts lately. On Sunday a dear friend of mine lost her battle with Cancer. She was the Mother of one of my best friend's. She was kind and smart and supportive and always smiling. I never heard her complain. Her funeral was today and it was one of the most moving services I have ever experienced. She was sick for about a year and a half and she did many things during that time. She traveled and went snorkeling, went to the theatre and just lived. She taught me by example so many lessons. She was courageous and strong. I will miss seeing her and talking with her and the love and warmth I felt being in her presence. She would have met her first Grandchild any day but just could not hold on until the birth. I am so sorry for my friend who lost her mother. It is a very hard thing to watch someone you love mourn so deeply. And even though I know she is watching over us all, tonight I wish she was beside us.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Lil' naked Muffinface - and a long overdue apology.

A rare childhood moment when my clothes are on. Hey, I kind of look like Suri Cruise.

Apparently when I was a lot younger I liked to be naked and never felt ashamed or even aware of the fact that I had nothing on. My mom tells stories of trying to get me ready for my bath and she would turn around for 2 seconds and find me across the street knocking on the neighbors door to see if they could come out and play. Then there was the time I rode my big wheel naked to the piggly wiggly. I think the cops might have been called on that one. One day I went to the back of my pre-school class while the teacher was reading a story and just took my clothes off.

I tell you these stories so you will understand the day the paperboy knocked on our door and asked to see my mom and I brought him upstairs to where my mom was taking a bath - that I really didn't think anything of it.
Sorry Ma.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

My friend's Jake and Debra sent me this pic

Guess where I will NOT be on Monday?
Just the sign is creeping me out.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Check it out!

My little brother's post on People + Food!!

Friday night chili and latkies!

My awesome and talented friends Rich and Heather (pictured above) had me over for dinner last weekend. They made three kinds of chili to accommodate their guests. One regular, one without meat and another without onions. Oy!

I had the real stuff and it was some of the best chili I have ever had. The photo credit goes to Heather since I had already started eating before I remembered to take a pic. I was in a feeding frenzy of great proportion. Seriously. It had been so long since I had chili I forgot just how good it can be with a little sour cream and shredded cheese melting on top. I neglected to get the recipe so if Heather or Rich read this maybe they can add it to the comments section.

We all used to live together and were recently reunited at the reunion party they threw a couple weeks ago.

It was great hanging out with them again and I hope there will be many more meals together.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Poor little Muffin Face - confessions of a middle child.

It's Friday. To celebrate lets have story from Muffin Face's past.

I was in the 3rd grade. We lived for a year in Allentown PA. Yucky place really. We had moved from TX and I was probably reading /writing at a 1st grade level (if that). I know, not much has changed in that department. Anyway. I don't have tons of Allentown memories because we were only there a year and it was a long time ago. We lived in a big old house that my mother probably spent the entire year re-decorating. In the lowest level of the house were two huge rooms. One was my bedroom and the other side was a playroom. in between these two rooms was a cedar closet that we were all scared of. My mother told us if we went in there and shut the door we would die. She was always saying funny things like that.

So the second level of the house was a living room, dining room, kitchen - and so on. The third level of the house was were the rest of the family had their bedrooms. Some nights I stayed in my brothers lower bunk bed so I wasn't so far away from everyone. But most times I was probably very content in my own far away space.

My sisters room was all pink. I was always a little jealous of that. One day she was given a brand new ink blotter. The next day someone wrote "This is Junk" on her perfect new pink ink blotter.

I wouldn't have known about this except for the spanking I received for writing it. I remember not being very surprised that I was being punished. Odds were I had done something to deserve it, right? But it was confusing none-the-less. Just what had I done this time?

Later that night my little brother (who was in Kindergarten at the time) looked at my parents and confessed that he was the one who wrote on the ink blotter.

I sat back and waited for my parents to shower me with apology's and maybe even presents. I was sure they felt just terrible. I was prepared to be gracious and tell them that, while the pain was palpable, I was a big enough person to let this go. I sat there in eager anticipation. My parents looked at each other in shock and amazement until finally they looked at my brother, tears in their eyes, and said "We had no idea you could write! And what lovely penmanship. We are so proud of you. "

This is a true story.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

People + Food

As you may or not recall my Sissy started a second blog called People + Food. There is a link to it on the right hand side of this blog. She simply wants people to send her stories about food. It can be your favorite food, your favorite recipe to cook, favorite restaurant or favorite food memory. I finally got around to sending her a story. It is fun and I challenge all my readers to send in a story. I know you all have lots of food memories too!

Here is what she asks for more specifically:

Two of the main passions in my life are people and food. I started a new experimental blog, hoping to capture the two of them in a unique way, but I need your help. I am looking for input from diverse people, both ethnically and geographically. I need only two things: a portrait photograph (mostly face/head) and a food memory. That's all! I think the site will be fantastic, and take on a life of its own. Right now, I am just trying to get it started. Your food memories will not be edited, I will not comment. Under your photo will be your full name and your food memory, as you write it. If you have any questions, please e-mail me at the link on my main website, Also on that site, on the upper right hand corner, is a link to the new blog. Or click here to access it- www.foodandpeople.blogspot.comThank you for your consideration!!

And here is my Contribution posted there today:

There are so many great food stories in my memory. My family was lucky enough to have many, many meals together while I was growing up. And while I have fond family memories and recipes, I have also been lucky to learn different recipes from other close families. It is no secret to anyone who knows me that, fortunately or UN, I have had my share of boyfriends. Some say I like variety - like a good tapas plate that has a little of everything. Due to this I have learned some great recipes from the mothers of my boyfriends. Recipes that I would never have normally come across. You can say it was an added bonus. If love don't last forever, well, the recipes will and have.

It is hard to pick a favorite but I will say one of the top recipes I was ever taught and still make to this day is Mrs. Organ's Cream Chipped Beef. This recipe fascinated and thrilled me. Yes, you heard me right. You see, Jews don't eat meat out of can unless, I suppose, they are trapped in a bunker, lost somewhere. Needless to say, I had never seen or heard of this delicacy but Steve kept talking about his mother's creamed chip beef like it was heaven drizzled on a biscuit. I try to be adventurous when it comes to food - at least tasting it if not loving it. My parents taught us to try everything once. I just wish I had realized then that they were talking about food.

Anyway, Steve's parents live in an idyllic log cabin home on the side of a mountain just minutes from West Virginia. Visiting there was always a treat but -- on special occasions --it got even better. I was not sure what to expect when I sat down for breakfast with the whole family - the smell of the biscuits and the chipped beef were almost too much for me to handle. It smelled that good and tasted even better. It was creamy and salty and the biscuits were crunchy. I think I ate two full plates and fell into a food coma. So the next time I made sure to watch the whole process so I could learn how this magical recipe was made. She was kind enough to share this family recipe with me and gave me many helpful hints. Some of the things also apply to other recipes I have tried since then. For instance, the creamed chipped beef starts with a simple roux. I had never done that before and since then it has been in so many recipes I can't count them all. I am grateful to have had that opportunity to learn a recipe that I never would have learned. So, variety may be the spice of life, but it was also my ticket to the best creamed chipped beef anywhere.

Molding Megg

Homemade fudge was waiting for us on the table! Above the fudge is Megg during our first course with the amazing coconut, chicken, lemongrass Thai soup.
Lettuce wrap with chicken, cucumbers, rice, carrots with a savory peanut sauce.
These crisps were light and flavorful. Homemade with won ton wrappers.
This was the brie by the end of the night.
This applesauce cake had a thick layer of Carmel in the middle and the top was sweet and crunchy.

Last night I had a great opportunity to dine with some of my favorite ladies in the world. They all happen to be great actresses and guess what folks? They are nice and supportive and stable, loving people. And yes, I know them all well. Actresses get such a bad wrap. Anyway....
My dear friend Melissa, who I have known for a very long time and who I seriously learned more from about acting then she will probably ever know, invited me over to have dinner with her and her daughter, Megg. Also in tow were my talented friends Erin, Laine, and Jen. But there was a catch. We were invited to dine and then help Megg with some monologues and a song for upcoming auditions. I wasn't sure what to expect but I did know that if she was anything like her mother than she would probably be the one teaching us a thing or two.

After dinner we settled into a family room and were ready to be entertained.

I was so impressed with her poise, grace and talent that it blew me away. We all had good suggestions for her which we watched her take with gusto. It was easy to help her and fun for all of us.

Afterwards, over dessert and coffee we had fun girl talk. I laughed for so long my checks were hurting.
I have asked Melissa for the recipes from last nights meal and will edit this post to include them as soon I get them.
I wish Megg breaking of legs and all things you are supposed to say, although I don't think she needs it, she is already oozing with talent.

Thanks Melissa and Megg. What a great treat to be all together.
As Promised - the recipes:

Chicken and Rice Lettuce Wraps

1 cup Jasmine rice or any flavored Thai brand rice (cook according to package directions)
2 grilled chicken breast halves, shredded
1 head Boston, Bibb or Iceberg lettuce, leaves separated
1/2 cucumber, halved lengthwise, cored, and cut into 1/8 inch thick matchsticks
2 carrots, peeled, halved, and cut into matchsticks
OR 1/2 bag matchstick carrots
3 scallions cut into 3-inch long thin strips
Torn fresh mint leaves, basil leaves, and cilantro

1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
6 tbls mayonnaise
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup finely chopped, peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp sesame oil

Puree all dressing ingredients in a blender until smooth.

To Assemble: Put all ingredients in bowls on a platter with ginger dressing on the side. Start with rice and layer ingredients inside lettuce leaf. Sprinkle with herb leaves and drizzle with dressing.
Sesame Wonton Crisps

1 tbl vegetable oil
2 tsp cornstarch
12 square wonton wrappers, thawed if frozen
2 tbl sesame seeds, toasted
1 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 375. Stack wonton wrappers and halve diagonally. Arrange in single layer on a large baking sheet and brush tops with oil mixture. Sprinkle evenly with sesame seeds and salt and bake in middle of oven until golden brown, about 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer crisps as browned to a rack to cool. Can be made 1 day ahead and keep in an airtight container at room temperature.
Old-Fashioned Caramel Applesauce Spice Cake

1 box spice cake mix
3/4 cup liquid egg substitute
1 1/4 cups applesauce
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup fat-free caramel dip for apples, heated slightly

1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup cold butter, slivered

Cake: Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease and flour a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. In a large mixer bowl on medium speed beat cake mix with egg substitute, applesauce and oil. Spread half of the batter in prepared pan. Bake until set, about 30 minutes.

Streusel: Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir together sugar, pecans, and cinnamon. Cut in butter until crumbly.

Finishing: Top partially baked cake evenly with heated apple dip and spoon remaining batter evenly over dip. Sprinkle streusel evenly over batter. Bake until set, about 15 minutes longer. Serve warm with frozen yogurt, ice cream or whipped cream.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Just go!

Two of my favorite people singing at one of the yummiest, prettiest places in Richmond. I saw them perform together at Karsen's a few times over the Holidays and each time was a treat. Do yourself a huge favor and just go!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Embarrassing my little Bother...I mean Brother.

I am sure that throughout my life I have been a constant source of embarrassment for my little brother. So why stop now, eh?

Here he is with his son. Chip seems to be wide awake but my brother is looking a little tired.

Chicken stuffed with Ham and Cheese

Because one meat just isn't enough.

I wanted to try a new recipe. I was feeling brave. I was pleasantly surprised with how well these turned out. I didn't have a recipe but I did have a pretty clear idea of what I wanted. That doesn't always work out well.
I split a chicken breast and pounded it within an inch of its life. I placed a piece of thin sliced ham and Swiss Lorraine on the chicken. I folded the chicken tucking the ham and cheese inside as best I could. I dredged it in flour, egg and then breadcrumbs. I browned the chicken in a little oil and butter for a few minutes on each side. I placed the chicken in a baking dish on top of a mixture of tomatoes, corn and okra, (out of a can) then added a little white wine and baked it at 350 for about 50 minutes.

I also cooked asparagus in butter, lemon and garlic and topped that with sauteed almond slivers. I topped a few of the chicken pieces with an extra slice of cheese just for show.
I am well known for over cooking meat like chicken and pork so I was very happy when these turned out juicy and tender.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Chuggers reunion

You know, reunions are funny things. I have never been to any of my High School reunions. I don't think we even had a 20th. I did go to my 20 year Avodah reunion. That was a group from my camp that lived together cleaning the camp the summer we were all 16. That was a great summer and I will tell more camp stores at some point. There are so many of them.

Last weekend my friends got a group of us reunited that used to hang out at a restaurant called Chuggers. Chuggers has been closed for a while but the times I spent there are still pretty vivid in my mind. Every Wednesday was an open mic night hosted by a comedy troupe called the 955 club. It featured local comedians. Were they always funny? No. They were heroic though. That I know for sure. Comedy is hard, y'all.
I had not seen these folks in a good 5 years. I considered not going. People change and friends grow apart. Sometimes it is good enough to leave the past in the past. Except I really missed these folks and thought about them often over the years. This group was close and comfortable and It felt like a safe haven from the rest of the world when we were all together. How often do we get that? And how often do we get to revisit that? So I sucked it up and went. Trying not to be self conscious of the fact that I look a little different and have yet to make my first million or write the next great American novel or become a household name (except for maybe a few households but we won't speak of those).

With in a few moments of arriving at my friend's house it was as if no time had passed at all. It took me a while to take everything in. To look at the faces of my old friends. I know change is inevitable. Things are always changing and hopefully we are always growing and learning but some things also stay the same. That is comforting.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Arrr Mommy!

My Mother went to Miami to visit my Sissy and got cozy with a local. I believe they are canoodling.

A Very Muffin New Years

There was champagne tasting

And rise
the ocean
Some exciting stories
a lot of cooking

And eating.

That is how I spent my New Years Eve.
I wish everyone a very happy New Year full of love, good food, great company, and peace.