Saturday, January 31, 2009

Photo of the Day- Day 30

Marni and Merlin, Gaylen's son. Merlin looks exactly like Gaylen but in small child with blond format. It's almost a little creepy. In addition to my sincere gratitude to my lovely friends, Merlin immediately bonded with me and we got along swimmingly.

I didn't bring my camera with me out to Denver, hell I didn't even bring socks with me out to Denver, so these were all taken with the rather crappy iphone camera. Apologies but I'm sure you'll understand.

Photo of the Day- Day 29

Matt's fiance has two cats, Zeus and Snickers. Zeus is the second largest and by the furriest cat I have ever seen. Zeus was very happy to listen to me practicing my eulogy on Matt's kitchen floor as was rewarded with lots of petting and a safe place to store all of his hair (that would be me).

I've included a few other pictures for comparison. This next picture is of Snickers, Matt and Allison's normal sized cat, at the feeding bowls. And the last is of Zeus, almost completely covering the bowls with his mass. I was told that Allison took her then 4 or 5 year old son to the pound to pick out a cat and he immediately bonded with Zeus, the furriest cat there.

Photo of the Day- Day 28

I took some pictures before I flew out on Wednesday. It had snowed heavily over night and then turned to a miserable freezing rain by noon. I had one of the few flights our of LGA that day.


Despite the despair that I feel that I now have a desktop folder labeled "eulogies" I managed to have a pretty good time in Denver (if you don't count the funeral).

Upon landing I was greeted with a dinner invite by my sorority sister Jo and had an wonderful time telling horribly sick jokes with her lovely girlfriend and a group of pediatric oncologists. I think most of our conversation was too grotesque to share her but given the surrounding death and destruction was had a wonderful time.

I stayed with my friend Matt from undergrad as well and was so please to spend time sharing stories about Adam. Matt and I both had "featured speaking rolls" for the services and helped each other through it.

On Friday my sorority sisters, and Gaylen's son Merlin, took me out to breakfast. I always loved my sorority sisters in college but their warmth and love really kept me going. Same with Matt and his fiance.

I'm having a big superbowl party tomorrow and need to get ready. I'm quite pleased to have such a daunting task, our house is a mess, I have a giant pile of laundry, and a chili contest to win.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


I've spent all morning, actually the past few days, trying to compose what I will say at Adam's service. Writing any eulogy is difficult but writing one for a catholic mass with a homophobic grieving mother and a community that is fundamentally insulted by gay people means that I have to choose my words carefully.

I need to leave for the airport soon and haven't quite figured it out yet. I also don't know if I'll be emotionally stable enough to speak, I cry when I have to give wedding readings and barely made it through my own vows. I somehow or another managed to keep it together for my dad's service, hell I was even funny at my dad's service but it'll be hard to judge where the laugh lines should be with this crowd.

I keep looking at all these pictures and it makes me realize how young we are. This was taken by Kelley O'd at Sal's bachelorette party, tubing down the Delaware river.

Photo of the Day- Day 27

I began my photo class last night and snapped this while I was waiting to go in. I really don't know anything about the camera, how it works, or how to make it work better. Both of them are designed to work really well on auto so after months of taking pictures I haven't felt the need to figure out what all the buttons do.

The depths of my ignorance were comical and once I finally figured out where the ISO, shutter speed, and aperature were I was set to hear the lesson. Unfortunately, the lesson was already over.

Monday, January 26, 2009


I had a long conversation with a friend at work about what it was like to experience the death of a close friend, in my case, the death of two people very close to my heart. I can't really describe it, I think it has made me more zen like and more accepting that I have little to no control over the world. If a 31 year old can drop dead and an eternal optimist can be brought to his knees in a matter of weeks by cancer I don't really have much to say about the ability of life to resist death.

I wonder about my own death, will it be painless and quick or something else? Will there be a point at which many of my peers drop quickly and if I make it through I have many more years ahead of me? In my mind, it's just not worth thinking about.

When my dad first died I really didn't know if I believed my ideas about death: that a quick, and relatively painless death brought me comfort or that I would continue to take great comfort in knowing that I squeezed every ounce of love out of my relationship with my dad. Seven months later I still take comfort in those things.

With Adam, I feel different. Adam was my source of good times, of wildly, stuff of legends good times and he brought a smile to the face of everyone he met. It's not to say that I won't ever have fun again but Adam made the most mundane things enjoyable and memorable and most of the moments that I felt the most alive were with him. I could say anything in front of adam and he could say anything in front of me. I feel really sorry for me because he brought me so much joy.

He was the first person who took me aside when I messed up and confronted me about my failings. He knew when to lie to me (sure, he's cute) but we had a couple of moments where he was brutally honest and it was incredibly instructive. When we decided to hire him as our real estate agent (a dicey move we know) I trusted him completely because we had had these moments of truthfulness. Throughout our friendship we had selectively decided to be completely honest with one another - wedding stuff, paint choices, weight gain, and cooking- and I trusted that.

Adam was also always calm and confident, except for all things Martha and cute boys, so if was so funny to hear his dad tell me about how nervous he was to be our real estate agent and to be in my wedding. He never showed a crack in the fascade but I find this post-humous nervousness to be really sweet.

I guess, unlike my dad, I hadn't squeezed every ounce of friendship out of Adam, mostly because I thought we would continue to grow old and fat together, continue to contemplate becoming parents, and figure out how to never repeat the sins of our past (triathalon boy and moving to places other than NYC).

I think I'm still really numb from my dad's death and that Adam's will sort of blend in with the rest of whatever is going on in my head. I had been in denial until yesterday when I saw his body and as I said to Ab and Kate "He's definatly dead" but I can still hear his voice from our conversation on Thursday, his laugh, and his funny tanned stubbly chin. Sometimes it seems like too much to bear but I have faith that the world, my world, will continue and that I really need to continue to try and live my life to the fullest, even if I turn into a hallmark greeting card.

Photos of the Day - Day 25 and 26

I can barely get enough sleep forget about taking pictures. Actually taking pictures is pretty relaxing for me so when I got home tonight I pulled out the D200 and had an idea of what I wanted to play around with, my face and the macro. I had taken some self portraits a few months ago and enjoyed it, the detail, the narcissism, the pores, I could go on and on. But I think I enjoyed it because it didn't work very well and I had to monkey around with the camera to get any shot let alone a good shot. I got this angled self portrait sitting on the floor in my kitchen playing around with the tripod. It was the only one in focus so I picked it. The soft focus ones of me look pretty good but are too blurry.

The other shot is of adam's cat, Rico. Rico went back to Denver with Adam's parents but needed to be taken to the vet for shots and travel papers before he could get on the plane. I took him, via subway, down to an emergency vet for his shots and what not. He is a very docile and snugly cat, adam used to call him submissive, and we had a nice time waiting around for the vet to poke and prod him. Ironically, the vet found that he too, just like adam, has a bum ticker. Its only a mild heart murmur but I just can't quite shake the feeling that the cat could drop dead of a heart attack at any time.

Incidentally, If you ever need to amuse a cat while waiting an hour at the vet's office, I highly recommend youtube videos of birds shown on the iphone.

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Adam and I met our freshman year at college through my roommate Satan. For whatever reason I agreed to go to Denver with Satan to see Rocky Horror with her friend Adam. We were pretty inseparable after that, toiling away in the theater, rolling our eyes at our drunk sorority and fraternity friends, and when provoked, streaking, playing pranks, and generally amusing our selves to no end. Adam made college bearable.

When we graduated we both moved to NY and he became a de facto member of our family spending holidays with us and getting some R and R from his family life with my "so what if you're gay" family. In the past 10 years we'd had many many good times and a few down periods but we had proudly accepted our 30's, our 10 extra pounds, and our lots in life (which was to make merciless fun of everyone and everything around us). Adam was one of those friends who people love so much that they invite you to parties in hopes that you'll bring him.

Thinking about Adam on the day after his death, I remember a slightly different Adam. When my dad was first diagnosed he was there with a constant stream of emails, phone calls, beers, and support. He knew the exact right mix of humor and empathy. During my dad's funeral he knew everyone and welcomed them and everyone wanted to get a hug from him (he gave great hugs).

I remember so many funny and warm stories about Ad but most of them are wildly inappropriate in a sort of wonderful, time of our lives sort of way. The highs with our relationship were very high, almost giddy, and many of our lows were mellow, cozy, and comfortable as only a relationship where you understand the person for who they are can be.

When I met Adam I knew that he was gay and just accepted it as part of him right from the start. He wasn't out yet though it was no surprise to me or my family. He was in a frat, the football frat of all places, and while they may have had some initial discomfort, they embraced him (literally and figuratively) for who he was and made him their first openly gay president. I'm sure there were a lot of internal and private conversations about this but those guys were really great.

Colorado is not an easy place to be a gay man. There are pockets of gay friendly areas but it is a far cry from NYC where no one that I know of accepts anything other than human sexuality as a spectrum between same and other. Adam not only grew up gay but he grew up gay in a catholic family and while its not my place to air others' family structures, his father's acceptance and love despite the gay thing lead to a blossoming of their relationship while everyone else grew quickly estranged. They just couldn't stop defining Adam as gay instead of seeing gay as just a thing he did in the privacy of his own bedroom.

Adam's struggles with half of his family were a huge part of his adult life as was wrestling with his faith in the face of knowing that "something was always wrong with him". He knew who he was but always had to work to square it with his catholic faith.

I'm sure I'll write more about this but as I prepare to meet his dad and stepmom (who just loved him so much) I really need an outlet to express two things that I know are totally inappropriate.

The first is that I'm really angry, really steaming angry at the fact that Adam's heart condition would most likely have been picked up on a routine well physical or bloodwork. He suffered at least five heart attacks in the past five years but never went to the doctor because he couldn't afford health insurance or get it through work. He talked about his lack of insurance all the time. Now I know a lot of guys who haven't had physicals since they graduated from high school and they have health insurance but I hope that Adam's death inspires people just to go out and get checked out and establish a baseline. Adam appeared to be so healthy (aside from the smoking), he worked out religiously and ate well but when they opened up his body his heart was a giant mass of scar tissue. He had a bad ticker, but finding out that there was a problem would have changed two specific things: he would have quit smoking immediately and he would have prioritized health care.

The second thing that I want is to push to have any donations made in his name to go for LGBT groups but I don't want to offend his family. Maybe the official obit reads that donations should go to some do good catholic charities but the ones from us should go to where he would like them to go. I can't imagine that if we did that on the side, the good people of the land of denial would get it.

Okay here are my rules for the day.

1) Let his dad and stepmom talk, I have plenty of people to sob with, they only have me here in NYC.
2) Don't politicize this with talk of "fucked up health care system" and "homophobia"
3) Be helpful and do what ever is needed

I think my wedding pictures are turning in a giant memorial. It was so warm and lovely that day and we all just basked in the sun and warm fuzzies that everyone throws at you. Adam walked my step-mom down the aisle and was a dutiful bridesmaid the whole day, dancing with matron aunts, getting people drinks and generally being the life of the party.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Picture of the Day- Day 23

Rest in peace Ad.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Picture of the Day - Day 22

I love people watching on the subway, you see everything and everyone doing their own thing and working very hard to ignore the rest of the world. I have literally had kids breakdance in my face, preachers tell me I'm going to hell, and an 8 piece mariachi band break my heart with their love songs on my morning commute and absolutely love it.

In the evenings after rush hour the trains are usually very mellow with people dozing off or thinking about their destination. This guy dozed off almost immediately and the woman across from me was reading the New Yorker. I don't like to stick my camera in people's faces but I usually don't hide it or hide that I'm taking pictures. On the subway I keep it on my lap but will shoot a picture, look at it on the screen, and then adjust the shot. This "technique" yields about 1 in 10 usable shots and often only 1/100 that is interesting enough to post. It's a hard place to shoot, the light is weird, your shaking and rolling with the trains and you often have a mariachi band or cellist vying for your attention.

A calm quiet commute is one of my favorite things about living in New York and a normal, crazy rush hour commute is one of the things to be tolerated with heavy doses of podcasts and a hearty breakfast.

Here Come the Waterworks

During the inauguration I held onto a little wad of tissues, expecting to burst into tears at any moment. Same with the footage of the inaugural balls, and since I didn't burst into tears like expected, I was kind of waiting for the damn to break.

Well, it did this morning, when I opened up my email to check out the NY Times and saw this:

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Photo of the Day- Day 21

I was locked in my office all day and had no energy to play around with lighting and the macro when I got home. I did notice that it was still a bit light outside around 5 pm and that means summer, baseball, beers on the roof, etc are right around the corner. I know, but I just can't stand the march to the longest day of the year.

I like to wander around work and take pictures of the exhibits, especially the dino halls but today I just took my camera along with me to a meeting and acted like a normal tourist meaning I took off my badge and wore my camera around my neck. I hardly got any interest or even good shots since the lighting is very low but I thought this one was kind of interesting. It is a group of people walking in front of a diorama on the top floor of the hall of african mammals. I like the movement of the people and the strange coloration in the back.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Picture of the Day- Day 20

It being inauguration day and all I knew I needed to include a presidential photograph. I was wandering around the very bad, almost evil in Park Slope Barnes and Noble looking for our next book club selection and saw this whole table of Obama-themed books. I can only imagine the Bush ones have been tossed into the discount bin.

I must admit that I was much more excited on election night. The world seems pretty bleak though I am glad to have a new captain. Obama has already disappointed me with his choice of Warren and the slight of Rev. Robinson but I'm pretty sensitive. I'm sure I'll have a lot of things to be disappointed about in the coming years but could it be any worse?

Link to a Very funny but very anti-Bush poem at the

Monday, January 19, 2009

Bible Heroines

My mom found this old family heirloom in her clown car of a basement. It was given to a member of her father's family on December 8, 1884 and then given to her by her paternal grandmother in 1955. She found it (along with a number of other wonderful goodies) and gave it to me. I made her inscribe it with the date and location.

I was playing around with a macro on the D200 and wanted to figure out how to get the Speedlight flash to work. I was unsuccessful with the flash but quickly figured out that there was enough natural sunlight at 10am to shoot with the macro. There are just a couple of the lovely shots (well, I think they're lovely) from this morning.

Picture of the Day- Day 19

I was all set to go on a nice long walk in the snow when I was saved by Ab's call to get lunch. I wasn't really excited about walking around in the snow even though it is much warmer here than in the past few days. It feels funny to say that it feels warmer since it is about 30F but compared to 14F, it feels downright balmy.

I took my camera with us to Sunset Park and took some shots at lunch but didn't want our quick outing to turn into my OCD quest for shots that capture the beauty of the snow. I do have enough sense of the outside world to know that no one, not even my best friend in the world, wants to stand outside in the snow and wait for me to stop taking pictures of snowmen, bodegas, and snow flakes.

I'm trying to learn more about the D200 and the speedlight flash and took it out to shoot an old family book (more on that later). After a few hours of that I wanted to go outside, get some fresh air and dinner, and take some pictures with the tripod in the snow. I wrapped the camera and lens in a shower cap and stood out in the street to play around.

This is a shot of some brownstones in all their historical glory. I took a very similar shot this afternoon when I came back from lunch and prefer this one because of the lighting.

Banh Mi

This blog should probably be renamed "My Quest for Vietnamese Sandwiches". We went over to Sunset park and grabbed a few for lunch and I finally took a picture to give you an idea of what they look like. We got them at Ba Xuyen on 43rd and 8th, they close at 6:30 pm and will be closed for the next two weekends for Chinese New Year.

This one is a grilled pork and is quite different than the spicy pork that I usually get. I might like this one better. The picked veggies, cilantro, and cucumbers are the same but this had grilled pork (not hot though), a very light BBQ sauce, and crushed peanuts. Its a bit heartier than the spicy pork (which has more veggies and noodles) but still really good. We also got some coffee and it came to us lightened with milk and sugar with some spice. It was delicious and I highly recommend it.

Here is a quick shot of chinatown in Sunset park. Every block in Brooklyn basically looks the same, but totally different at the same time. In case you're curious and don't want to travel to Sunset park, the Hanco's is coming along and is almost finished on the inside.

Our Hopes and Dreams

When I first walked through our house I marveled at all the things that owners hadn't done. You have roof rights, where's the deck? You could knock out a wall and make a porch. Why is that odd dividing wall there, a breakfast bar would be perfect. When we first moved in and our house was empty and clean we had big plans: roof deck, porch, kitchen, and built in book shelves. Now, almost a year after putting an offer on the place and almost 10 months of living here we've done nothing more than plant the window boxes and slap some paint on the walls.

Where is our drive? Where is our motivation for home improvement? Where is my roofdeck? Honestly, I have no idea since we have contractor recommendations and a very good idea of what we want. Life is just too busy to think about a major renovation project or anything that would disturb our lovely bubble.

The easiest project would be to the built in bookshelves in the dining room and I had contacted a highly recommended carpenter to come and give me a quote. But it seems like so much trouble, which is pure laziness.

So for now my home goals are to get all this stuff sitting on the floor in my living room downstairs to the basement and maybe take this giant bag of clothing down to goodwill. Baby step, baby steps.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Who Are We?

I've seen a lot of pictures of my mom, dad, sister and I over the years and this one takes the cake. My dad looks wholesome and churchy and not at all like the silly prankster who probably just told an off color joke in church. My mom looks beautiful though I agree with her that that is a pretty ugly shirt. No matter how hard I look my sister always looks adorable. We look like some sort of alternate universe version of us.

But me, the one in the red jumper, I look truly retarded. I spent a good, long time trying to figure out the best way to describe me as a baby and I think I have it: a mouth breathing ball of fat. One of these days I'll post the series of baby pictures that take me from mouth breathing ball of fat to most adorable toddler but for now, that's a face that only a mother can love.

Picture of the Day- Day 18

Do you have a big brown dog in your life? I don't but my step-brother does. His name is Walter and he is a prince. He wouldn't sit still for any pictures but he would let me cuddle and take pictures, as long as I stayed right next to him. This is a self-portrait with Walter.

Walter and I also went for a nice long walk/jog/throw the ball session this morning so hopefully he'll be very sleepy when he gets home.

Here are a couple more. Low light + antsy dog + white wine = very few usable pictures.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ode to 7th Ave

How you take my breath away with your astounding multitude of traffic violations and general lack of constant death and destruction. It takes a special type of chaotic traffic system to impress me, I'm from mall land NJ, and you my friend, scare me. First there are the double parkers, the ones that just sit in the middle of the road. Those are only enhanced by the 18-wheelers delivering stuff to the grocery stores. Add a dash of emergency vehicles screaming down the road towards the hospital, and throw in a flock of rabid, deranged, and fearless pigeons landing on your car.

Then of course there are the U-Turners. The slam on the breaks subarus who UTurn to get that parking spot. Or the livery cabbery that uturns to try to pick up a customer. My favorite are the people who run red lights to do a uturn in the intersection. They have both run a red light and done an illegal uturn, all within view of the meter maids, working their hardest to increase the revenue of the city of new york.

Then there are the strollers that are bigger than my car, packed full of groceries, extra siblings, and sippy cups, bravely thrust out into the middle of the intersection, daring the SUV to run them down. The strollers are a close second to the old ladies and recently release hospital patients slowly making their way out down and over the curb. Add to them the drunk and stoned pre-teens, the big-haired ladies with their cell phones strapped to their heads, and the cars pounding out a strange mix of rap and easy listening. Interwoven are the jerks (who drive many different types of cars) who deem it necessary to drive 50, pass people, and generally make me pee my pants. I understand racing on the West Side Highway, but this seems a bit too hardcore even for Brooklyn.

7th Ave seems to be a real carnival of driving fun and like I said, it terrifies me. My favorite of all the moving violators is the group of sneaksters. Here's the scene. You stop at a red light. The person across from you also stops but after a few seconds, very slowly begins to move through the intersection. I mean so slow they seem to think no one can see them moving. And then when they are half way through they slam on the gas only to be stopped at the next red light and the whole thing happens again. For whatever reason this reminds me of how cats stalk their prey, they move so slowly, and then, with one big flourish, they pounce.

The only place that I've lived that has crazier drivers is DC and the only reason 7th Ave doesn't take the cake is that I've never seen someone use the sidewalk to UTurn. I'm sure it happens but I haven't seen it with my own two eyes. Now I usually stick to 7th ave because 5th and 6th scare me just as much but at least on 7th I know the patterns and trouble spots.

Picture of the Day- Day 17

Day 17. A very hung over morning of Day 17. Ab and I went down to Fairway to partake in the lobster roll feast but had a little trouble getting down there. First, we were a bit hung over. Second there was insane traffic all around Hamilton Ave. We tried to get onto Hamilton on 3rd and found the place to be a parking lot. Then I tried 3rd and 9th but was almost run over by a funeral procession. This was one strange funeral procession. The cars were going through the green light and then when the light turned red three or four of the cars all moved to block traffic so that the funeral cars could continue to run through the red light. I sure that this is a totally normal thing but it was the precision and the "fuck you" attitude of the drivers towards the angry angry honking cars that sort of took my breath away.

That caused some general confusion, U-Turnery, and confused old ladies to block the intersection once again while the jerks behind me continued to honk and really ramp up my headache. We finally made it down to Red Hook and had a lovely lunch. Ab had never been to Red Hook so we toured around a bit, drooling over the lofts around Fairway and contemplating a run to Ikea before common sense and the need to nap kicked in.

I only took a few shots because it was freezing out but there were big chunks of ice floating in the river and the rocks were all growing big ice sweaters. It was lovely to sit inside the warm Fairway tent, enjoy our $10 lobster rolls, and watch all the boats go by.

Picture of the Day- Day 16

I had high hopes of taking pictures during SciFi Friday but only managed to take this fun one of my friend. I put him to work doing the monsterous prep for the chicken pho and luckily he has experience spending hours prepping veggies.

I use the D200 and it has obviously been set in a way that makes the pictures extra red. I love the effect outside in full sun but inside and at night everything looks really red. Luckily I start my photo class in a few weeks and will hopefully learn to change the settings.

Chicken Pho

So I made the chicken pho again and feel comfortable sharing the recipe. I made the dish for an 8 person dinner party and it was a success. You can customize the spice and the fixins and it is somewhat interactive and kind of fun. A word of warning, this is a labor intensive dish because of all the add ons. It can also turn into a grazing salad bar if you put out all the add ons before you serve the meal. I paired this with a viogner but it goes nicely with any crisp, citrusy white.

I highly adapted the recipe from a blog called Steamy Kitchen- and added a lot of the ingredients that I like to it. On my first attempt, I used regular canned broth and got pretty good results simmering it with the spices so that's a nice short cut. I also ate the chicken that I used to make the broth and supplemented it with roasted chickens I picked up at the market.

Chicken Pho
Serves 10-12
Adapted from Steamy Kitchen

Prep Time:1 hour
Cook Time:3 hours

2 whole organic chickens, giblets removed, taken apart
8 whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks
2 T star anise
2 T corriander seeds
1 handful of cilantro stems
1 red onion, quartered and roasted
1 " section of ginger, roasted
2 T sugar
1/2 cup fish sauce
4 small bok choy, rinsed and quartered
2 cans straw mushrooms, drained, rinsed
2 packages rice noodles, I like the glass noodles
salt and pepper to taste

You'll need a lot of small bowls and plates

1 bunch of water cress, cleaned and trimmed
1 bunch cilantro, cleaned
1/4 cup srirachi
3' ginger, peeled and grated
2 cups bean sprouts, washed
1 whole roasted chicken, meat taken off and shredded
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
8 scallions, diced
1 jalapeno, 1/4" slices
4 limes, quartered

Fill a large stock pot (I used my lobster pot) with water and set over a high heat.

Slice the broth onion and set the onion and ginger under a medium broiler for 5-10 minutes. After they have cooled remove the charred skin.

I did this over two days but there is no reason why you couldn't do it in one day. Breakdown both chickens and try to remove as much fat as possible. I started by using a pair of kitchen sheers to cut out the backbone. I then took off the thighs and legs, separating them at the joints with my knife. I tried to cut off as much fat and meat as I went. Then you can slice off the breasts. You want to try and take as much meat off as possible.

Add the chicken to the pot and let boil for 5 minutes. There will be a nice scum on the top of the water. Once that has developed. Take all the chicken out of the pot, drain and clean the pot, and refill with clean water. Rinse any of the scum off the chicken parts.

Add all the broth ingredients except the bok choy and noodles and simmer for 1-2 hours. Add the bok choy and noodles 10 minutes before serving.

Prepare all the fixins ingredients. Carve and shred the roast chicken. Clean and prep the veggies. I luckily had the help of a very skilled friend who used to work as a veggie prepper at a vegetarian restaurant. Once everything is prepped, lay out the fixins so that people can pick and choose what they want. I found it easier to have people put all their ingredients in a bowl and then pour the broth over that.

This is easiest eaten with chop sticks and a spoon.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

This is one of my favorite recipes. Its delicious and easy to make while drinking with friends. I love the combination of chocolate with chilis so this will be a spicy cake. If you don't like spicy, try different flavors such as almond extract, mint, or add some cadamom or cinnamon.

Flourless Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Dave Arnold's L'Academie De Cuisine Class
Serves 8

4 oz unsalted butter
8 oz bittersweet Chocolate, chopped

4 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 T flour (you can leave it out to make it truly flourless but it adds a nice texture)
1 tsp cayenne pepper

Preheat the over at 325F and coat the 9" cake pan with cooking spray and flour. If you want a nice presentation, you can cut a parchment paper round and grease the sides with butter.

Create a double boiler and melt the butter. Add the chocolate and melt together. Remove from the heat when combined. In your stand mixer (you can do this by hand or with a hand mixer of course). Combine you eggs, sugar, extract and salt. Whip on medium until they are frothy and have lightened in color, about 5-7 minutes.

Add the chocolate and butter mixture to the eggs and combine. Add the cayenne pepper and any other flavoring ingredients. The cayenne pepper will become much stronger after you've baked it so use it with caution. Add the flour.

Scrape into your pan and cook at 325F for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove and cool.

If you want to have a nice preparation and aren't serving a pack of wolf-like sci fi fans, you can easily make it very pretty with very little work. I often slice it and then add a creme angles (which is great fun to flavor in different ways) on top. You can also thin some raspberry jelly with water over heat and add that. The easiest way to make a pretty cake it to sprinkle some confectioners sugar or cocoa mix over the top.

Sci Fi Friday

We're back. We're really and truly back into our old life. Last night was the first sci fi Friday in a really long time and it felt so dorky, homey, and wonderful to invite my normal seeming friends over for a few hours of eating, drinking, and screaming at the TV.

This tradition of eating and watching Battlestar Galactica started at the beginning of the second season when we were still at our old place on 15th street. It was very small and only fit six people at a time. I would make a big lasagna, the only thing I really knew how to make, and a yummy chocolate dessert (I know many) and everyone would cram onto the couch and the floor and dork out. Over the years our tradition died off. The show was moved to Sundays and then it kind of stuck for a while and then finally we moved back to DC where no one is a science fiction dork.

We did watch some BSG when we came back during the spring but it was never the whole shebang so last night had to be perfect. I'll post the menu and recipes in a bit but thanks everyone for coming!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

picture of the Day- Day 15

Now I don't believe in miracles but I can see how it would be really easy to believe that the crash landing of a plane in the Hudson without any serious injuries was a miracle. There is just nothing to say but you need to live life as if you could die tomorrow.

Here is my very unexciting picture of the day. Its freezing here which I sure made that plane crash very unpleasant and is only going to get colder over the next few days.

I'm currently sitting at home and making broth for tomorrow. I'm hoping that this vietnamese soup goes well since a bunch of science fiction nerds are coming over to watch the premier of Battlestar Galactica (or just eat dinner if you happen to be a sci fi purist like my friend Eric). I'm planning a menu of chicken pho, flourless chocolate cake, and some salad type stuff. Generally what happens is that people bring over tons of cheese and other snacks and is stuffed by the time dinner is served. Hopefully, the soup and the premier will be good.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Picture of the Day- Day 14

Went to Ikea. Bought some stuff. Don't know what it is. Took some pictures. Bought some of these. Don't know what they are.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Picture of the Day- Day 13

My foul mood was remedied by some left over lasagna, my friend abby, and some serious Top Gear watching. I took out the D200 and speedlight flash and wanted to play around with some macro shots and the flash. I really have no idea how to work the flash but I did manage to get some good pictures.

These flowers arrived in my B-day bouquet back in August and still look great dried. Please let me know what they are! They don't stack up to the orchids from Hawaii but they are pretty interesting.

Pep Talk

I should have recorded the pep talk I gave to my sister yesterday in order to play it back to myself today. It went something like this:

It's okay to sit on the couch and feel sorry for yourself but if that doesn't make you feel better, get up and get out of the house.

Retail therapy is great, so is cleaning.

Don't feel like spending money and you already cleaned, go rent a movie.

Sweatpants, as long as they're changed regularily, are a gift from god.

You'll feel sad about losing dad for the rest of your life, but the pain will grow less and come less often.

Pink is a great color for bridesmaids dresses.

Halther tops do look great on everyone.

Tan lines are evil and Martha Steward makes the best bridal magazine.

We are lucky to have each other and that giant box of pictures from when we were wee little ones.

The weather will get warmer and stop sucking so much.

George Steinbrenner is kind of a d-bag.

New Jersey is the best state ever.

Its fun to internet stalk people on facebook, especially when they are your sister.

Okay, thanks, I needed that. I got another piece of bad news this morning and it has become increasingly difficult for me to do anything other than feel sorry for myself. Watching Rachel Maddow list all of the evils of the Bush Presidency didn't help much either. My mood matches the weather but luckily for those around me, when I feel like this the only real solution is to go home and bake something sugary and complex.

Maybe I'll try a red velvet cake...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Thanks Mom (Again!)

For whatever reason my mom took up furniture restoration when she retired. The retirement didn't last but the refinishing did. Right before Christmas my mom rented a van and drove in this beauty. Most of the stuff she refinishes was once covered in paint and she strips it down to the wood and makes it beautiful once again.

The desk is much nicer than the old Ikea table I bought when we were in DC and thus gets a coaster and a lot less junk. I think I need to find a new lamp and clock since these look a bit junky. As a bonus she brought in a chair that my dad had purchased to match.

Regardless, its beautiful and I'm so happy my mom picked up this hobby. Thanks Mama Joan!

Photo of the Day- Day 12

I know Hawaii is famous for its sunrises but Brooklyn doesn't do too badly. Since it was the weekend I hadn't felt the jetlag until I had to get up this morning for work. I didn't do myself any favors by staying up until 3 am and getting up at noon and today, waking up at 7 am was very hard to do. Luckily, in my groggy, shrek-like state I noticed the sunrise and snapped a few pictures. Oddly enough, this might be one of my very first in our new house.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Berry's

My introduction to the Berry's was when we left them on the bus on our way to Hilo. Despite repeated calls of their name and someone directly asking them if they were going on the "Hilo Volcano Tour" they still managed to get stuck on the bus. The tour guide flagged them down and explained to them that they needed to stay with the group.

"No one said anything about volcanoes, I thought we were going to tour a nut factory" said Mrs. Berry. "I wore my good shoes. Excuse me! This says that we'll be going near lava, I'm wearing my good shoes. This can't be right. Are we going on a nut house tour. "

"Quiet dear. Hello. We're the Berry's, I'm Ken and this is Olive," explained Mr. Berry.

"You don't want to be on a tour with us, there are always disasters."

"Like being left on the bus?" asked Liz.

"No, real disasters."

"Liz, let's go get breakfast. Bye!" and I grabbed Liz's arm and steered her away at a rapid pace.

I had never met two more typical British people in my whole life and for some reason I was mezmerized by them. Mrs. Berry never stopped talking and Mr. Berry just has a very interesting face. Liz, my conference buddy, and I spent the whole time either straining to understand them (they're from Jersey) or trying to distance ourselves. Even though our tour was very safe and controlled somehow or another they managed to get lost around every turn, lose everything they brought, step over the well marked boundaries and into the unsafe parts of the lava field, and miss all three meal times resulting in an scramble for food on the top of volcanoes.

I still don't know why I found them so funny, maybe it was the fact that I couldn't understand them or perhaps it was what typical British pensioners they were. I don't know but I offer you this little photo homage in an attempt to explain myself.

This was right after they managed to get lost in a tunnel and were very happy to see one another.

Mrs. Berry getting too close to the steam and ruining her hair.

Mr. Berry trying to figure out where the steam was coming from (think water + volcano Ken).

Mr. Berry warning us about the "tornado". Mrs. Berry was mumbling something about how tornadoes always hit when they are around.

Mr. Berry listening intently as the Park Service ranger explained the water spout.

Here's what a water spout looks like- FYI.

This is the face that most of us were wearing while trying to both understand and make sense of what Mr. Berry was saying.