Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Meg fixes up my living room (and works her tush off!)

There are many people to thank who helped me during my move (and some are still helping). Joe has been more than generous with his truck and his time. The crew - Tony, Andy, Jake, Scott, Joe, and Steve. - Later Meg and Grimmy joined us too. Rich and Heather. Rich came over the night before the move and made at least 3 trips to the new house with his Suburban filled with boxes. On moving day Heather and Rich fed all my helpers at the new house with soda and Pizza. It was sure nice to know food and drink were taken care of - especially since there was no water until Sunday. I have eaten a lot of meals out but that will change in the next couple weeks as the kitchen gets cleaned and ready to use. I have set out lots of those ant hotels too and put spikes in the yard. And yesterday, after having a terrible dream about them, I confronted one of my big fears and killed a huge spider cricket. In my dream there was one in the basement, like the MOTHER of them all, that stood up on its hind legs and definitely had a head and shoulders - it was not pretty. Apparently there is a special spray you can get for them. The real spider crickets, not the spooky big dream ones.

I know I haven't talked much about the big move. It is kind of a sore subject and it is still going on so it is not fun to talk about yet. I can say that things are getting better. The curry smell is finally gone from the kitchen - despite the fact that so many said it would never go away. The house is relatively clean (except the kitchen and the basement) and the decorating has begun. My friends Roslyn and Barry bought me paint (and accessories) for a house warming gift and my friend Meg did all the hard work. Since my painting experience is limited Meg helped a great deal. She sanded and puttied and drilled and painted - for 2 days- until my living room looked clean and beautiful. I will get some "after" pictures up soon. She even messed up a cute Cheenorita T-Shirt. 3 cheers for super Meg! Thanks sweetie.

Monday, April 28, 2008

The passing of the Pan...and other thoughts to share.

I know it has been a while since I blogged. I only hope there is someone still interested in reading this muck.

I went to see the opening of Peter Pan at theatre IV on Friday night, 12 years after the production I was in at the same theatre. 12 years ago was a very special time for me. More than I realized as it was happening, as those things often go. It was the first time I met and worked with my Best Friend, Steve. I didn't know then that 12 years later we would come to mean so much to each other and I can't even imagine how different my life would be without him. Steve directed Peter Pan and somehow convinced me at the time that I would make a good Wendy. Forget that I was already 27 years old and hadn't done a musical in years. I didn't know who this guy was but he certainly didn't know me or the "type" of messed up, quirky characters I was used to playing on stage. But - of course, I did the role and it all turned out to be a magical experience.

Peter Pan can be a very tricky show to stage - because of the huge technical aspect of the show and it can easily look quite amateurish in the wrong technical hands. I don't know how Steve pulled it off - with a cast of so many, including so many children but he did and he did it beautifully. The new production of Peter Pan has lost none of its magic. If anything it is even more powerful than ever.

I had a lot of people asking me how I felt on opening and if it felt weird to see the show and see someone else playing Wendy and bla bla bla. I am not one of those people who think they "own" a character because they have played it before. As actors there are way too many people we play to think of them all in a possessive way. I think when we are on stage as the character we should embody it best we can. But they are not our words. We, as artists are only renting that soul space. It is our job to give it a temporary life, hopefully one good enough to inspire others and then pass it on. Isn't that part of the art form, of the medium? Letting it go? So, no. I had no problem watching Peter Pan again. 12 years later. I loved it. I was inspired by it. I recommend it to all.

I was particularly impressed with Robert T. who played Hook/Mr. Darling, he struck that delicate balance between fearsome and goofy - never going overboard in either direction and singing and moving like a Broadway veteran. Christine, my beautiful ex-roomie and dear friend, blew me away with her portrayal of Wendy. Until I saw her perform it I honestly didn't know how interesting and fun and sweet a role it could be. Richard Koch makes a wonderful Smee. He is endlessly entertaining and seems to have instant chemistry with anyone he is near on stage. He is one of those actors that is so good, he makes everyone around him look good too. I think that was part of the magic of the Pirate ensemble of this cast. They all do well but it helps to have a strong leader. Ford does another amazing job as Peter - no surprises there.

Of course, I give Steve all the credit for everything. As a director, he knows the story he wants to tell. He can not only picture it but tell his actors and technicians how to picture it too. That may sound easy but it is nearly impossible to do well - especially with a show like this one. Steve is one of the finest directors around, maybe anywhere. That is not hard for people to see.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Here is a story I wrote the day before the big move.

I am not sure how to start this story or how to end it.

I was packing up my things. Throwing trash in a bag. The TV was on but I wasn't really paying attention to it. I just finished eating Chinese food from a restaurant down the street that I really could not afford. But I had been cooking so much and soon I would be leaving and I was just so tired from my day and the task that lie ahead of me so I decided to treat myself. To be fair it was a craving I had been having for more than a few days. I was sipping a glass of wine and thinking about all I had to do. I was cleaning out a drawer. I remembered a few things I needed from the CVS down the street. I had a lot of trash to take down too so I packed a bunch of it together and headed down the street.

Our apartment buildings dumpster is enclosed with a nice high fence. I swung the door open to begin throwing the trash inside. There was a tall, middle aged man picking through the trash inside the fence. As soon as I opened the door he quickly said "Hi. I didn't want to scare you." I answered, "that's ok." As I threw the rest of my trash in the dumpster he was whistling to himself. I kept on walking to the store but I wished at that moment I carried cash on me. I don't have much at all but he had even less and he whistled. Was it to show me he was content and not ashamed? Or was it to make me feel more at ease? Whatever it was it touched me.

I came back home to my messy apartment and all my boxes and everything looked different. My wine glass was right where I left it and my belly was full. I hung my head and wept for the man in the dumpster. I felt ashamed of feeling overwhelmed about the move and my day and everything else I was worried about and my heart broke a little. I wanted to go back to the dumpster and see if he was hungry but I was sure at this point he had moved on. I didn't know what else to do so I decided to write this all down.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Moving update

I can take a moment away from the cleaning and painting to say hi and I will write a full post soon. But to put it briefly - you know that scene in Overboard when Goldie Hawn see's the house for the first time and says "We moved here....deliberately?"

For now I will share an email I got from my friend, Lisa K. who cooked a beautiful fish meal.

She writes:
"Hey, you've created a monster - I took pictures of dinner last night. This was one of my "My Girlfriend's Kitchen" recipes. Baked tilapia with rice cooked in a wine broth. Paul loved it, and I thought it was very tasty, but I get paranoid about fish...I was proud of the presentation, though." Lisa

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Thank you guest blogger Debra!

If you ever look at Facebook then you know there is a line next to your name that you can update regularly. I usually try to write something topical - like JB is....getting ready to move. Last night while packing and crying at the Idol Gives Back special I checked my Facebook account and noticed my Friend Debra had updated her status to say something about cooking a pot roast and homemade biscuits. It caught my eye. I had to have her recipe. She was kind enough to share it with all of us along with a picture of the remaining biscuit.

2 cups flour(all purpose)
3tsp baking powder
1tsp salt
1/4 cup butter
2/3 to 3/4 cup of milk

I sifted the dry ingredients together, then cut in the butter. I don't have a pastry cutter so just used a fork. Then started adding milk until the consistency was sticky dough ball. You want sticky. Then I dumped it on a floured board, floured up my hands and kneaded it a little bit(just a little!) and hand patted out lil biscuits.Added more flour to my hands as necessary to keep dough from sticking to me. Baked at 450 for about 10 to 12 minutes. You gotta watch 'em. I've never done this recipe but they turned out FABULOUS. They were fluffy, and just heavenly. Plain, but meant to be flavored up with butter, jam, or pot roast juices. Yum. I didn't roll and cut the dough b/c my mom never did. She always patted out the biscuits...and they were never all exactly the same size but damn they were good. If you try it out let me know how it works for you!
p.s. This dinner scored me major points with hubby. He's a real meat and potatoes kind of guy.

PSS from Muffin Face: Debra is also an amazing actress and singer. You can read about her and order a CD at http://www.debrawagoner.com/bio.html


Moving Hell

Just wanted you all to know that I have not forgotten about my blog - I am in the middle of moving. I am excited but it is a very stressful and crazy time. I would like to thank Steve P., Joe P., Grimmy, Andy B., Tony, Scott, Meg, and Jacquie for truly being there when I needed you. I appreciate it more than you know.
I will be back soon.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Weekend Eating - part two

Saturday night, every ones favorite band, Cheenon played at The Camel. It also happened to be Rich's Birthday. Rich is married to my friend and two time roommate, Heather. It would not be rude (just accurate) to call her my old friend. I actually introduced them years ago and now they have two beautiful boys that I have talked about in previous posts. Rich is one of the only guys I know that I could honestly say loves food and cooking as much as I do. The last couple times I have been to their house I have noticed the Food Network on the TV- I pretty much keep the TV on that channel 24/7 on the weekends and also after work during the week. I was very excited to hear that Rich got a fancy new grill for his Birthday. I can't wait to come help him test that out. Happy Birthday Rich - I owe you and Heather a meal in the new house.

Rich playing at the after party.

Kristen and Mark chillin' out. Kristen is my sweet and funny friend who (like me) rarely leaves her house anymore. I was so happy she joined us for the Cheenon party. (You may recognize her from her fabulous Room Store commercials)

Sunday I went to brunch to say goodbye to my friend Keri. She is off to Edinburgh Scotland for the summer to work at the Fringe festival as she has done many times before. She is actually a citizen and has made Scotland home base for a while.
I was very excited to learn that she will return in the spring to teach theatre at Thomas Dale HS - so one day I might actually do some acting in this town again. (She likes to work with me for some reason.)
After brunch the rest of the afternoon consisted of me doing anything to put off doing my taxes and packing. I can get very creative while avoiding things and being in denial. I started off with putting a corned beef brisket in the oven. I always cook it with a can of beer for 5 hours at a very low heat. I don't actually cook the can - I pour a can of beer into the baking dish. Since I was planning ahead a few hours and since it is supposed to be Spring I decided to make a batch of Sangria. I threw fresh sliced fruit in a mixture of red wine and Ginger ale. I knew it would be better the longer it soaked so I didn't start drinking it right away, like I would have liked to.
After the brisket cooked for 3 hours I added baby carrots, sweet onion and mushrooms. Below are before and after pics because I love before and after pictures. Except the Sangria - that is just an after picture. One thing you won't see is a picture of is the beautiful Caesar Salad I made. I have a hand mixer I had never used. I made fresh dressing with Parm, anchovies, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, pepper and a few secret ingredients. I mixed the dressing with fresh hearts of romaine and ribbons of shaved Parmesan on top. It is my Kitty-Mom's much beloved recipe.
I also made another batch of the roasted red potatoes. I hadn't sufficiently waisted enough time so I looked up a recipe for biscuits. I tweaked it (as I will do) and added cheese. I was fairly pleased with the outcome - considering I had never tried anything like that before and it took a while and was quite tiring. After dinner I was pooped and couldn't possibly have been expected to do my taxes or any packing.

Sangria I was very excited about but had one sip of and got bad heartburn.

Brisket before

and after
Cheese biscuits before

and after

Eating my way through the weekend.

Friday night I had Robert and the Steve's over for Dinner and gin rummy. I had been in the mood for chicken legs ever since I saw the Barefoot Contessa cook some oven fried chicken last week on her show. I wasn't in the mood for all that crunchy stuff so I pulled an old recipe out of my brain that I had not done in a long while. It is very simple. I combine melted butter with seasoning salt and bake the chicken until the skin is crispy but the inside is still tender.

I had some red potatoes that I tossed in oil and my own made up seasoning mix. they turned out crunchy and savory on the outside and soft and mild inside. They were not this blurry in real life.

I mixed a salad of arugula, mushrooms, cucumbers, iceberg, and toasted pine nuts.

Steve O. doing the dishes before kicking all our butts in Gin Rummy.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Homemade Pizza is good for you.

Pizza Dough after it rose.

3 Cheese Pizza with herbs.

Cheese and Greek olives.

Cheese and mushrooms.

Cheese and herbs after baking.

Greek Olives ( I couldn't stop myself from tasting it before the picture)

Cheese and mushroom.

last minute cheddar crisps - great with a salad instead of bread.

Last night while I should have been packing I decided to make homemade pizza dough - and then pizzas and then low carb cheese crisps, you know - to recover from all that pizza crust. I liked making the pizza dough almost as much as making the bread last week. It was much easier to kneed this time. And I enjoyed a much deserved glass of wine while the dough was rising. It doubles it size in a little over an hour. It made a lot of dough and so I made 3 thin crust pizza's. My roomie does not eat much meat and I like my pizza's simple so I made one with just cheese, one with mushrooms and one with real strong Greek olives I had in the fridge. I figured no one would want to touch the olives so I was guaranteed a few pieces to myself! But pizza is for sharing so after Christine's rehearsal we cracked open a bottle of really good Virginia wine left over from Robert's birthday gathering and ate some pizza. Steve had some later as well - but just as I suspected - none of the olive pizza was touched so I am having that for lunch today.
The cheese crisps I made up. I sprinkled sharp Cheddar on parchment paper and added basil, oregano, ground red pepper, white pepper, and a little garlic salt. I baked them at 350 for 5-7 minutes - until the edges are browning. They get nice and crisp when cooled. Great in a salad instead of croutons and a nice low carb snack on their own.

Happy Birthday, Robert and hello to old friends too!

Two Cakes for Robert!

The happy Birthday Boy

Christine and Ginnie!

Erin swallowed a watermelon!

I have no idea what is happening here.

Robin and Christine hug it out.

Yeah Susan Sandford!

Rusty, Laine, Erin and Tony.

Half the cast of Little Dog! The half that keep their clothes on...........
Sweet Pic.
Late Friday night a few of us gathered at Chez Muffin for a quick after rehearsal Birthday celebration for Robert. See the two cakes? They were from Jean Jacques Bakery. I went to pick up Robert's favorite cake (Steve had previously ordered it) after work on Friday. I went in the small shop and announced that I was there to pick up a cake called in by Steve P. They searched a little while and then I let them know that it says "Happy Birthday, Robert." on it. They had 2 orders for a Robert cake that day and apparently they had given them both away already. I was tired and annoyed so I used their phone to call Steve and ask him what he wanted me to do. When I explained what they did all he could say to me was "Why did they give the cake away?" to which I replied "I Don't Know!"
Eventually the shop offered us two smaller cakes in the same flavors. It wasn't great but at lease he will get his favorite cake still. I had them decorate the cakes as seen in the above picture and I was off.
Later in the evening Robert told us the other cake from Jean Jacques (The one we had ordered and they had given away) was given to him at work! The folks at the bakery just assumed that it was the same order.
We had a good time anyway - and the cake was pretty darn good.