Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Welcome, baby: here's a pizza

It's baby season! Or soon-to-be-baby season; right now I'm surrounded by pregnant ladies and their anxious partners. Yesterday I heard from my oldest friend (oldest as in friendship duration, not as in age) that she's going to be having a little girl this winter; college friends are spawning all over the globe; and don't even get me started on how many friends here in San Francisco are "trying", which is a phrase that really needs to be banned. The biggest concentration of bebbes, though, has been at my office, where you can barely walk down the hallway without squeezing by an enormously pregnant lady. I almost spilled hot coffee on a belly today - serious faux pas.

I have learned so much about fetii in the last few weeks. Did you know babies hiccup in utero? It apparently helps with lung development. I watched my boss's stomach jump when her baby had the hiccups the other day. Did you know that a baby's fingers can get caught in the mother's ribs, necessitating chiropractic intervention? It happened to my coworker's wife. Did you know that a baby can kick its mother in the butthole from the inside? This happened to my coworker during a meeting last week. Her: Oop! Me: What's wrong? Her: Oh, the baby just kicked me in the butthole from the inside again. Me: THAZZ NOT OKAY.

Since I have absolutely nothing helpful to say to those expecting a child (except "Jesus, really? Wow, gross."), last night I cooked up a storm for a few coworkers who will soon be heading out on leave. I also drank most of a bottle of red wine and muttered at the radio while Malcolm Gladwell talked on NPR - I can't decide if that guy would be a delightful or infuriating dinner party guest. My kitchen wound up covered in sauce and my freezer is stuffed to the gills, but it was worth it this morning when I opened my cooler and my coworker's eyes bugged out of his head. The fastest way to get people to love you is to drown them in enchiladas, pizza dough and tomato sauce when they are most overwhelmed.
1/6 the output
I feel like I had a breakthrough on the enchilada front, so I'm going to give you the lowdown. I find canned sauce a little too thin and bitter, so I pump it up with some added ingredients. Maybe making it from scratch is next, but I'm not there yet. I started off with three cans of medium red enchilada sauce, and added them to a pot of onions and garlic cooked in oil until soft. I started reducing the sauce, then added jarred sundried tomatoes and their oil, honey, and lemon zest to taste. My handy immersion blender smoothed it all out when it was reduced to my liking. 

For the enchilada filling, I half-mooned a few different kinds of summer squash, drew out moisture by salting them for a half hour, then pan fried them for a few minutes to get some browning. On the bean front I went with canned kidney beans, but I usually prefer to go with dried beans cooked in a big batch at home with half an onion. The squash, beans, fresh corn right off the cob, and shredded cheddar went into the tortillas, into pans coated in the thickened sauce, into a final layer of sauce and cheese, into the oven at 375, and then, when the cheese on top was browned, into my belly.

I wanted the pans to cool completely before going in the freezer, so I put them out on the back porch. I wish I had a photo of them steaming into the fog.
What Mike and I did at 10 p.m. Shameful.
I also made a few batches of pizza dough and tomato sauce (which conveniently served as ice packs in the cooler today - when my boss was suffering from Pregnant Lady Overheating Syndrome I suggested she slap a pack of frozen sauce on her neck). My go-to tomato sauce recipe is simple: onions, garlic and red pepper flakes sizzled in olive oil, cans of whole tomatoes cooked down with some lemon zest (plus whatever I have on hand, usually basil, though last night I included arugula from the garden and olives), finished with some butter and whizzed together with the immersion blender.

These babies are gonna have it good.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


I signed up for OhLife - a daily email service that prompts you to share thoughts on your day - on the recommendation of Rachel of Erstwhile Dear. (As a side plug, I really enjoy checking in on her writing now and again - it's soothing, and presents a kind of alternate universe where I decided to stay in Boston and have some bebbes and not be frenetic.) I am intermittently obsessive about documenting my life, as evidenced by this blog and the fact that I carry a hardbound planner with me everywhere so that I can not only calendar future events but also scribble down past ones. OhLife presents an easy way to calm the obsessive in me. Time, it is slipping away! But at least it will be documented!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Summer weekend

You know how weekends can be full and lazy at the same time? That's how things have been going lately. It all started with Friday, a good indulgent day. I met a friend for lunch at Tacolicious, and there may have been a pitcher of strawberry margaritas involved. We walked around the sunny Mission, then I forced some Bi Rite salted caramel ice cream upon him, because it is required. I finished up work for the day at home, then another friend came over to drink some fizzy gin cocktails and help me prep food for an outing on Saturday. Thank you for your watermelon juicing skillz, Esme.
Friday night we went to watch the Giants get spanked by the Cubs. Ugh. I am so in love with that ballpark, though, that I didn't mind a loss, or nosebleed seats, or crazy high prices (well, that I do mind a little bit). Good company and strong drinks don't hurt. Hot tip: if you're ever at a Giants game, get the Ghirardelli ice cream sundae with extra hot fudge, no matter how foggy and chilly it is. 

Friday, July 26, 2013


Last weekend I went to Palm Springs with Caitlin for a gathering called Yes by Yes Yes, an "unconference" for tech geeks, "makers" (sorry, nerdierarite it without quotes), and tech-adjacent  folks like me. A friend was the organizer, and when she asked if I wanted to go, I said yes (a-ha!) for a few reasons. I liked that it was a techy conference organized by women. I was feeling antsy in my professional life and it seemed like it would give me some food for thought, maybe even a career jumpstart. And going to the first year of an event like this appealed to the organizer in me, as well as the person who wants to be able to say "Oh, I was there in 2013" when something blows up. All equally honorable motivations, right?
The source of the name, by the way, is Ann Larie (my friend, one of the organizers). The founding group was discussing how SXSW had lost its early energy amid its increasing size and rapid transformation into a marketing free for all. Why not, they thought, pull together a smaller, more focused event, and have it be all the things that SXSW no longer was? No to the hype and yes to all the good things. Thus was Yes by Yes Yes born. The name seems to have become a real mantra for the group: say Yes to conversations, to ideas, to each other. A little too sincere? Also yes. But inspiring anyway.

I'm still working through what the weekend meant to me. In some ways it was fantastic. We sat by the pool, got massages, drank cocktails, and had interesting conversations in a geeky safe space. It was baking in Palm Springs that weekend - I think it hit 110 degrees - and getting to dip into the water every few minutes was heavenly. The timing wasn't ideal, however, since I'd just come off a week on the Russian River and was feeling like I needed some time at home. I was also already sleep deprived.
That sleep deprivation didn't get any better during YxYY; late nights were inevitable, given the party atmosphere. At the time, I felt a little lost, even though I had a few friends on hand. It's unusual for me to be out of my social element, and while I'm an extrovert, I'm not a great small talker. I have a hard time introducing myself to strangers, even a self-selecting group like the one at YxYY. The structure of the event was to do away with as much structure as possible. Bring hundreds of like-minded folks into one glamorous place, throw a cocktail party and a prom, and see what happens.
What happened, it seemed, was more than anyone anticipated. I witnessed the expected - pool floating, flirting, imbibing of adult beverages, and sunscreen application - but also the unexpected. Friendship-bracelet making (hell yeah I did that), "miracle" berry eating, 3D printing, tshirt modification (i.e. slashing and fringing), underwater photo booths, kazoo jam sessions, late night cigar smoking, and a grownup prom featuring 80s outfits and a Chewbacca costume. 
Did I have a life-altering experience that left me feeling recharged and full of creative energy? No. Did I appreciate being surrounded by people as nerdy as or nerdier than I am (I realize that's saying something) and interacting outside my comfort zone? Yes. 
I did a debrief with Ann Larie over the weekend and went to a Yaysayers happy hour last night, so clearly I'm still chewing on the experience. Most interesting, given that the weekend was for me an excuse to be lazy by a pool, is the ongoing conversation that is happening among the Yaysayers. Folks are DRIVEN. Projects are shooting out of this group at a wild rate: brunches and cocktail hours and dinner parties in cities around the country, videos and photo collages and online magazines, plans for co-rental apartments in New York and San Francisco, and techier stuff that I don't understand and am therefore tuning out.
Even if this winds up not being my crowd, it's fascinating to watch a community bloom overnight into a multi-legged clamoring army of energy. I hope that it gets slightly less earnest since snark is more my style, but my comfort level isn't the important thing here. My only contribution is likely to be a Napa/Sonoma distillery tour, less creative but no less fun. When in doubt, say yes to booze.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Porch swing

Yesterday I said I was going to whip a Chile-nectarine Smash when I got home, but it turned out that the nectarines I had were still crisp and crunchy, exactly how I like to eat them. So instead of attempting to pulverize the fruit into submission, I changed gears and went with a pitcher of the Porch Swing: gin, Pimm's, lemonade, and some bubbles. I didn't have cucumbers and so substituted mint for a fresh note, and went with the output of my beloved Sodastream instead of using lemon soda. It was refreshing and tangy (I went light on the simple syrup), and I hogged most of it instead of sharing equitably with Mike.
Porch Swing
  • 3 tbsp gin (I used Tanqueray)
  • 3 tbsp Pimm's No. 1
  • 1/2 cup lemonade (juiced lemons + simple syrup [which is 1 part water to 1 part sugar])
  • bubbly water or lemon/lime soda to top
  • 10 thinly sliced half moons of cucumber (or, in my case, torn leaves of a sprig of mint)
Pour gin, Pimm's and lemonade into a tall glass, add ice cubes and a splash of soda/bubbly water. Garnish with cucumber slices (or bruise mint and add).

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Chile-nectarine Smash

We drank a lot of things on the river. A lot a lot of things. Beer (homebrew, cheap, fancy), white wine, rose, all kinds of reds, margaritas, champagne, vodka on ice, jello shots (do you drink jello shots? anyway), gin and tonics, and as much water as was necessary to keep us hangover-free. The highlight of all the dranks, though, was Haley and Simone's chile-nectarine smash. This thing is divine - sweet and spicy, cool and hot, summer in a glass. Is it as delicious when not imbibed while sitting on a pool float in the sun and water, surrounded by redwoods? Tonight I'm going to find out. I'm pretty optimistic.

Chile-nectarine Smash
  • 1/2 a nectarine, sliced
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 2 oz aged rum
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 3/4 oz chile-honey syrup

Gently muddle the nectarine slices in a shaker tin, then add a pinch of salt along with all the liquid ingredients. Add ice cubes and shake until chilled, then pour the liquid and cubes, unstrained, into a glass and garnish with a nectarine slice and serrano chile wheel.

Chile-honey syrup
Slice 1 serrano chile into 1/4-inch segments. Combine 1 cup of honey and 1 cup of water in a pan. Heat to a simmer, add the chile slices, then remove from the heat and cool. After 30 minutes, strain out the chile segments (Genevieve note: or don't!). Makes enough for about a dozen cocktails.

UPDATE: This finally happened, on Sunday night, and it was delicious! I need to get some rum that isn't Bacardi left by someone at our house after a rager, but even with the standard booze it's a delicious drink. Spicy and sweet and tart and eminently quaffable.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Russian Riverpalooza 2013

July has been kind to me. I spent a week floating on a river, then went to Palm Springs and baked in the heat while poolside at YxYY, and then I slept for a week when I got home (not really, but kind of). I have no groceries in the fridge, and our apartment is a mess, but there's a big dent in my pillow. My cats have been really happy with the cuddle time.

On the river we swam, floated, cooked, drank, laughed, read, applied sunscreen, and ate and ate and ate. There were flotillas, spicy cocktails, boozy popsicles, midafternoon gourmet river snacks, homemade tonic and Spiritworks gin, a game of dinner table telephone, a slightly ill bulldog puppy (Duncan!), a shark pinata, a slip and slide, a giant ice cream sundae, epic dinners, late night dance parties, pies of all kinds, hot tubbing, epic sangria, fireworks, cranky neighbors, sparklers, breakfast biscuits, birthday headware, and a lot more. It was a lot. A good lot. A lot of good. Photo retrospective below.

The best part, of course, was having lots of people I love around me, and seeing them love each other. New friendships came out of the week, I think - at the very least, there was a very high laugh-per-minute ratio. My stomach ached from laughing for days afterward. And I got to celebrate a big birthday in a very happy place.
The supplies. We may have overshopped.
Prepping for fireworks.
River fireworks. Happy birthday Amurica!
Our first flotilla 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Trust fund

My old boss has a Robert Downey Jr/Robert Duvall movie filming at his house in Massachusetts right now. Both the company blog post and the Boston Globe article on the situation are precious. His house, from what I remember, is lovely. The Godine office, on the other hand, was always a chaotic jumble of books and manuscripts, old computers that should have been obsolescensed a decade ago, and David's typewriter in pride of place on his desk. We were usually behind on rent, and it always felt like the end was nigh, but someone he always found the money to pay the printer, the authors, the landlord. From my understanding, it was usually family money that came through. When I see him, David always asks if Google is ready to buy his company yet. Not yet, I say. Oh well, he says, at least you can buy me lunch.

From the Globe:
Someone sticks their head in and informs the couple that Robert Downey Jr. has picked a Godine Publishing coffee mug to use in a scene, over 18 other mugs. “That’ll be great publicity!” Sara says. 
We’re still sitting on the porch when Robert Downey Jr. walks up from the yard. “Hi,” he waves. He talks with us for a few minutes, mentioning his two boys, a teenager and a toddler. I ask if he’s having fun with the film. “I don’t have a trust fund,” he says. “I gotta work for a living.” I think, I hope, that he is kidding. 
David mentions that he in fact does have a trust fund. “We should talk,” Downey says with a grin.
He goes off, and David notices a guy carrying trays headed for their driveway. “Here comes the food,” he says.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The madness of possibilities

All the below is from The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt. It's about San Francisco during the gold rush, and it's not hard to see the parallel to our technology gold rush here and now. A great, greedy heart!

"I wonder if you two have had the pleasure of dining in our fair city? But no, I would know if you had, for your faces would be bloodless, and you would be muttering ceaseless insults to God in Heaven."

Charlie said, "I paid twenty-five dollars for a whore in Mayfield."

The man said, "You will pay that same amount to simply sit at the bar with them in San Francisco. To lie down with one, expect to put up a minimum of a hundred dollars."

"What man would pay that?" I asked.

"They are lining up to pay it. The whores are working fifteen-hour shifts and are said to make thousands of dollars per day. You must understand, gentlemen, that the tradition of thrift and sensible spending has vanished here. It simply does not exist anymore. For example, when I arrived this last time from working my claim I had a sizable sack of gold dust, and though I knew it was lunacy I decided to sit down and have a large dinner in the most expensive restaurant I could find. I had been living on the cold ground for three straight months, surviving on trout and pork fat and more trout. My spine was twisted from labor and I was utterly desperate for some type of warmth and pomp, a touch of velvet, and damn the cost. So it was that I ate a decent-sized, not particularly tasty meal of meat and spuds and ale and ice cream, and for this repast, which would have put me back perhaps half a dollar in my hometown, I paid the sum of thirty dollars in cash."

Charlie was disgusted. "Only a moron would pay that."

"I agree," said the man. "One hundred percent I agree. And I am happy to welcome you to a town peopled in morons exclusively. Furthermore, I hope that your transformation to moron is not an unpleasant experience."

Down the beach a half mile I noticed an enormous pulley system made of tall timbers and thick rope set back from the waterline; this was being used to run a steam-sailer ship aground. A man in a broad-brimmed black hat and tailored black suit was whipping a team of horses to turn the winch. I asked the chicken man about the purpose of this operation and he said, "Here is someone with the same ambition as Smith, but with brains as well. That man in the hat has claimed the abandoned boat as his own, and is having it dragged to a sliver of land he had the foresight to buy some time ago. He will shore the boat upright and lease out its quarters to boarders or shopkeepers and make himself a speedy fortune. A lesson for you men: Perhaps the money is not to be made in the rivers themselves, but from the men working them. There are too many variables in removing gold from the earth. You need courage, and luck, and the work ethic of a pack mule. Why bother, with so many others already at it, piling into town one on top of the other and in a great hurry to spend every last granule?"

"Why do you not open a shop yourself?" I asked.

The question surprised him, and he took a moment to consider what the answer might be. When it came to him, a sandess appeared in his eyes and he shook his head. "I'm afraid my role in all this is settled," he said.

I was going to ask which role he was referring to when I heard a noise on the wind, a muffled crunching or cracking in the distance, followed by a whistling sound cutting through the thick ocean air. One of the pulley ropes had snapped, and I saw the man in the black suit standing over a horse lying on its side in the sand. That he was not whipping the horse informed me it was dying or dead.

"It is a wild time here, is it not?" I said to the man.

"It is wild. I fear it has ruined my character. It has certainly ruined the characters of others." He nodded, as though answering himself. "Yes, it has ruined me."

"How are you ruined?" I asked.

"How am I not?" he wondered.

"Couldn't you return to your home to start over?"

He shook his head. "Yesterday I saw a man leap from the roof of the Orient Hotel, laughing all the way to the ground, upon which he fairly exploded. He was drunk they say, but I had seen him sober shortly before this. There is a feeling here, which if it gets you, will envenom your very center. It is a madness of possibilities. That leaping man's final act was the embodiment of the collective mind of San Francisco. I understood it completely. I had a strong desire to applaud, if you want to know the truth."

"I don't understand the purpose of this story," I said.

"I could leave here and return to my hometown, but I would not return as the person I was when I left," he explained. "I would not recognize anyone. And no one would recognize me." Turning to watch the town, he petted his fowl and chuckled. A single pistol shot was heard in the distance; hoofbeats; a woman's scream, which turned to cackling laughter. "A great, greedy heart!" he said, then walked toward it, disappearing into it. Down the beach, the man with the whip stood away from the dead horse, staring out at the bay and the numberless masts. He had removed his hat. He was unsure, and I did not envy him.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Take me to the river

It's been a big week! A historic week, with the SCOTUS shutdown of DOMA and Prop 8, the Texas abortion bill debate and filibuster, and an epic Pride weekend. Despite being much more a cheerleader than a participant in current events, I'm EXHAUSTED from keeping up with the news. It's taxing.

As a result, I'm very ready for the vacation that starts tomorrow, a week on the Russian River with dozens of my favorite people. I've been making lists upon lists, waking up early to grab my phone off the nightstand to send myself a reminder email, and making enough pizza dough to feed a horde. Which is exactly what I'll be doing starting tomorrow. See you on the other side!

Simone & Haley's wedding
 Pride celebrations
Ready for the river