Sunday, November 30, 2008

Tgiving etc

I had a fabulous Thanksgiving and post-Tgiving camping weekend. More on that later. Right now I am more interested in sharing my Thanksgiving "recipes" because I just spent an hour looking at cooking websites and blogs (in a failed attempt to make foraged-chestnut soup) and that is what I feel like doing. These dudes are Air Quote Recipes because I think I made them up. If you have heard of these things, and you are all like Oh Genevieve did not make them up everyone knows that, I have programmed this blog to scramble the recipes so that your food tastes like squirrel testicles.

So, yes. The first made up (right? right?) thing that I want to share is an eggplant dish. Mike had his friend and her girlfriend over for dinner a few months ago, and I got all intimidated and decided to make 15 different things because I didn't know what they'd like. They liked this.

Eggplant with Goat Cheese 
(maybe it's a rollatini, but I'm not really solid on the definition thereof so let's just keep it simple)

  • Eggplant appropriate to the number of people you are feeding; 1 should do the trick if it's a big un
  • A package of goat cheese, softened a bit
  • Basil
  • Tamari soy sauce
Instructions (please interpret loosely):
  • Slice up the eggplant into thin rounds.
  • Put it on a baking sheet and bake it (I just do it at whatever temperature the oven is already at - anywhere between 350 and 425 has worked fine for me) until it is done. You know, until it's soft and has browned a bit but isn't yet charred to the point of being cancerous.
  • Let cool down a bit. In the meantime, chop up the basil and add to the bowl of softened goat cheese.
  • Throw in some soy sauce, maybe a glug or two to start, then mix all together until the consistency is malleable but not goopy.
  • Taste to see if the mixture is pleasing. If not, you messed up somewhere along the way and should probably have another glass of wine. 
  • If it is delicious (as it should be), add a teaspoonful to each eggplant round, roll the eggplant up, and place seam-down onto a platter. 
  • Repeat until your eggplant-to-cheese ratio starts to get weird. At this point, I sometimes make towers with alternating eggplant and cheese levels to even the score a bit, or I may just use the eggplant to clean the bowl and shove it all in my mouth.
  • Shut up, I'm the cook.
  • Serve warm.
Another invented crowd pleaser is twice-baked squash, which can serve as either a side dish or a main course. It is freaking GOOD.

Twice-Baked Squash
(Origin: Thanksgiving 2005, when simultaneously faced with a terrifying amount of butternut squash from Katie and Larry's farm and a new vegetarian roommate named Mike that I wanted to impress.)

A big old butternut squash
Onions or leeks
Nonfat yogurt
Cheese, grated (any hard cheese - cheddar, swiss, etc - according to your pleasure)
Kale or chard
Whatever other vegetable seems like it would be tasty to throw in the mix. 
Oh, and add herbs as you desire - a little bit of rosemary or sage never hurt anybody.

  • Cut the squash in half, scoop out seeds, place face down on a baking sheet and bake at 400 or so for 45 minutes (ish) until the sucker is done. If you need precision in your life, use a cookbook for this step.
  • When squash has cooled, scoop out meat and place in a mixing bowl.
  • Veggie prep a la Genevieve (i.e., do as you wish): brown the garlic, onions or leeks in a skillet with some olive oil. Steam, saute, or nuke the kale or chard, just to take down its volume before adding to the squash. If you're going to add bell peppers, carrots, or other veggies, you might want to get them at least partially cooked in your preferred manner first.
  • Add garlic or onions and veggies. 
  • Add dairy to desired consistency. I usually throw in a few tablespoons of the yogurt, then more if it isn't moist enough. You want it damp but not wet. Word? Word. 
  • The cheese is also up to you, Cap'n. I like a cheesy gooey mess when all's said, so I do a decent-sized block of cheese. 
  • Mix it all up in the bowl, plop it back into the squash, and bake it until the top is browned, usually 30 minutes or so.
I really do not think you can go wrong with these, but my inability to follow a recipe has also led to an ok instinct for what will be gross and what will be tasty. But I believe in you, friend.

Below you can see the eggplant, just behind the pepper mill, and the squash to the right. Some spread we had, huh?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's a small world blah blah blah

Yesterday Jessa's ex-girlfriend Olivia sat down next to me on the Google shuttle. In the course of catching up, I mentioned Vanessa's name - and it turns out one of her high school classmates was sitting right behind me! So that was weird.

Also, my brother is awesome. Please forgive the grainy photo, but this is Ian with Tavis Smiley and Cornell West at a restaurant in Princeton. 
I LOVE that he recognized a radio host and a literature professor - they're both famous, I realize, but still. His explanation: "I was drunk as f***, but I recognized Cornell, and then realized that was Tavis Smiley and called mum." Now isn't that adorable?

Also, he is wearing my dad's sweater from 1981.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


It looks like we are going to Pinnacles National Monument for the long weekend. Camping, hiking, and maybe even some rock climbing...let me know if you want to join!

Oh, and it's supposed to be in the upper 60's all weekend. Yes!

Oh my my

So, I was in Texas last week. And it was fantastic. And then we were home for an hour, and then we went out for Hartz's birthday. And then we drank margaritas with Dumbro. That is my last 10 days, in a nutshell.

Other things I did:
  • bought cowboy boots
  • went to the dentist
  • drank too much Lone Star
  • ate Tex Mex and barbecue
  • got a pet duck and fed it too much whiskey so it died
Wait! One of those is not true. And was ripped off The Wire. Ok, I am not capable of being coherent right now. So I will leave you with this: a newlywed couple's first dance, to a Regina Spektor cover of "Real Love". Can you even handle it?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Did you know this?

From this Slate profile on Rahm Emmanuel, the new Chief of Staff: the character of Ari Gold inEntourage is based on Rahm's brother!
That is one intense family.

No fair!

On Wednesday, while I was at work here in Austin and Mike was having margaritas, he saw Mr. and Mrs. Coach Taylor, you know, just hanging out:
That is so not even close to fair.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


The Goog is hosting Life's photo archives. There's some gorgeous stuff in there!

Let me Google that for you

"This is for all those people that find it more convenient to bother you with their question rather than google it for themselves."

Heh heh.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My parents are moving!

We hates it, precious! I'm never going to see the inside of my house again! My parents have to be out of there by the end of today, blurgh. It all happened very quickly, and luckily they were able to get a rental near their property in PA. My brother is at school, I'm in Austin, and we're all feeling weird about this, though my parents are too busy hauling all their stuff out of the house to reflect, I think. They're going to be seriously bummed to leave the neighborhood - they've been there for 18 years. 

And here's their going-away present from the neighborhood:
Precious. But I'm still an unhappy lady today.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My kind of religion

From the Wikipedia article on Summum, a religion started in 1975
"According to its founder, over 250,000 people worldwide have "received" Summum instruction. As the organization does not keep formal membership records, this figure is based on the number of bottles of wine it has distributed."

What? Ok! Yeah! That, I can get behind. Also, they are fighting for their rights, according to this NYT article - and in Utah of all places (don't they know Santa Cruz exists?), so good for them. They are into meditation (something I support theoretically), booze (which I support wholeheartedly), and pyramids. Appealing, no? Did you know these guys existed?

Potentional problems: into mummification, totally wackadoo.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Yeah E!

My little brother has been playing soccer since...forever. Really. And depending on the outcome, tomorrow may very well be his last official game. I'm sure he'll play in adult leagues and coach (remind me to tell you his story about coaching 3 year olds, "the squirts"), but since he's a senior in college, his official soccer career is over. Weird!

But today he got the got the winning goal in his league playoff game. Well done, E. Way to make the Dutchmen (seriously?) and the Brennans proud. Not as proud as we were that time you drank those beers out of the centerpiece at Doug's wedding, though.
(Fantastic MS Paint job done by my dad.)

A Scientific Approach to Stupid

Ahhh it's another magical algorithm for the greater good of humankind: The StupidFilter, "an open-source filter software that can detect rampant stupidity in written English."

From their FAQs:

Q: How are you going to manage to recognize stupidity programmatically?
A: Pretty much the same way you can programmatically recognize spam, we'll look for things that characterize stupidity and assign particular tokens different weights based on how often they occur in hand-picked examples of idiotic comments.

Q: Isn't filtering stupidity elitist?
A: Yes. Yes, it is. That's sort of the whole point.

Q: Aren't you just trying to eliminate comments and discourse that you consider to be stupid?
A: As much as that might be nice, no. The StupidFilter does not understand, in a meaningful sense, the text that it parses, and our graders select comments that are formally stupid -- that is, their diction, not their content, marks them as stupid. It is not our intent to eliminate debate or disagreement, but rather to programmatically enforce a certain quality of expression. Put another way: The StupidFilter will cheerfully approve an eloquent, properly-capitalized defense of mandatory, state-subsidized rocket-launcher ownership for all schoolchildren.



This website has an amazing collection of election newspaper headlines from around the world. In case you're still trying to evoke that Tuesday night feeling.

Oh, this is what liveblogging is!

I am working from home today, which means...I am not yet wearing pants. Anyway, about 5 minutes ago I hear tires screeching and then: "I will shoot you! I will shoot you right now!" I creep to the window (no self-preservation instinct here) and see 2 cop cars, 1 white Honda, 6 cops, 6 guns drawn, and 2 dudes in a car. The cops are all in plain clothes - jeans, sweatshirts and Yankees caps. For serious.

So now I am creeping around in my underwear, trying to get a photo without anyone seeing me. The two guys are now cuffed and sitting on the curb, chatting with the cops, who are rifling through the Honda. They don't seem to having found anything yet. One of the perps is wearing an Obama t shirt (sad!). Oop, now they're bringing up a 3rd cuffed guy. Maybe he ran? Anyway, it is all pretty chill, given that only a few minutes ago the cops were threatening to blow their heads off. The cops have notepads out, they're asking the dudes questions, and I am realizing that my windows are too dirty to see much detail.

Forgive me, but I have to say it: it's just like The Wire!!!

Update: they have uncuffed one of the guys sitting on the curb. A woman with two tiny dogs (one in a pink sweater) just walked right through the scene above. Uncuffed Guy went to pet Sweater Dog; Clueless Lady scooped up Sweater Dog in a huff. San Francisco: And You Think You've Seen Weird.

Update x2: they uncuffed everyone! The dudes are getting back in their car! One cop just clapped a formerly-cuffed guy on the back in a conciliatory matter! "Sorry about threatening your life and freedom, man. It's all in the game, right? Like my Yankees cap?"

What just happened?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Apple cake

Last night I made this 101 Cookbooks apple cake
Well, sort of. In true Brennan fashion, I strayed pretty far from the recipe. In particular:
  • I don't know what kind of apples I used, nor how much. 3 apples = how many cups? Also, I didn't chop the apples up enough. Oops.
  • I used whole wheat flour, but not pastry flour.
  • I used regular-type cinnamon, which I did not measure. Just threw it in there. 
  • Since I can't get the top off my salt shaker, I just shook it into my palm for a really long time, until the pile in my hand seemed like a 1/2 teaspoon, and my arm was tired.
  • I didn't have buttermilk, so I did half skim milk and half apple cider vinegar.
  • We had only a little bit of vegan butter left, so I topped it off with a few glugs of canola oil.
  • I threw a shit ton of sugar in there; no measurement needed or attempted.
Oh, also, I used a loaf pan, so I had to cook the sucker for like an hour before it cooked through. It turned out pretty tasty, though! Especially warm and topped with vanilla ice cream. Precision is not my strong suit, but eating is.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Look! It's my book!

Not only is it in Book Search, but I used our new Preview Wizard to embed it!


It was a really good scene last night. Wine, good company, cupcakes, and whole lotta victory.

BUT it looks like Prop 8 passed, and that is just a huge bummer. Vanessa, Mike and I tried to console ourselves by saying it does a generation good to have a civil rights cause, and this is ours. Also, our generation, on the whole, doesn't seem to understand the bigotry and hatefulness of the gay marriage opponents - and that's a good thing. Maybe in a few years gay marriage will seem so right, so obvious (doesn't it just sound nice and friendly and happy?), that California will look back on its 2008 self and be all, "Man, what assholes we were then."

Right? Right?

Do you know what I love?

How the last several tissues in the box are a different color from the rest, so you know that you're getting near the end.

I just think that's really thoughtful.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day!

I want to say this to my expat friends: you guys are awesome. Elise downloads Rachel Maddow every day, Amanda was properly horrified/entertained by the Palin interviews and SNL sketches, and Sammy is waking up at 4 a.m. in Cairo to see the results. All voted absentee, I believe. Hopefully we will all be happy happy ladies in a few hours...

Also, I am going to make cupcakes for tonight's festivities, and I am taking inspiration from

Monday, November 3, 2008

Peanut butter election time

I really wish I had gotten to see everyone on Halloween - so many costumes, so little time! We got ready with Hartz (crazy spandex roller skater lady) and Cait (Caribou Barbie), then headed off to meet up with our 3rd partner in costume, Umbro. She was a Peppermint Patty shot, I was a White Russian, and Mike was an Irish Car Bomb. Behold, with Cait:
We carried around a cooler full of our respective drinks, and were very popular at parties. Mike in particular. It also made him very drunk.

And so, for the rest of the weekend, we were totally lazy. We nursed our colds, we watched football, and we left the house only when absolutely necessary. If I hadn't been choking on pleghm, it would have been lovely.

But now! It's election eve! I'm stressed!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Not that I read poetry or anything

The NYT Book Review has a great piece on the correspondence of Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell. Frank Bidart used to speak very casually about them in class, but I didn't realize quite how close the three of them were:

"Lowell and Bishop more or less adopt the younger poet Frank Bidart, who catered to Lowell during his endless revisions..and proved Johnny-on-the-spot after Bishop moved to Boston. If at times the poets treated him as a mere factotum, Bidart served as the surrogate son they could gossip about and fuss over."

It's a little difficult to imagine - I'm trying to picture Lowell pinching Frank's cheek - but pretty neat nonetheless.