Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Munchie Moment

Sorry- things have been crazy! I will update soon! Here's a quick goofy Munchie face to tide you over:

P.S. I'm glad you're all healed-up, Paul! Hope you liked the peanut butter cookies (no mayo).

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Admissions Essay

Yes, I had to write an admissions essay in order to become a full-fledged member of the coolest foodie boards on earth: http://forums.egullet.org/ (thank you so much for the tip, Megan!). So, because I'm the wonderful and giving person that I am, I've decided to share my essay. I'm sure none of you would even momentarily entertain the thought that I'm just being lazy by copying and pasting this magnificent essay out of sheer laziness so that I didn't actually have to think up a whole new blog entry. That would just be gauche, wouldn't you agree? (SHUT IT.)

Here it is in all its splendor, including the previously published mayo peanut butter cookie story (oh pipe down- it's a cute story and it won't kill you to read a shortened version of it one more time within the context of this rambling mess of an essay.)

I am a big, fat foodie. I have loved the smell, taste, look, sound, feel and creation of food, probably since I was born. The distended belly and contented look on my face in all of my baby pictures seem to back this up.

I'm a Jewish only child, and grew up with matzoballs, gefilte fish (oh how I love those gray masses of fish and meal in gelatinous goo!), mamalega (Romanian for: cornmeal mush with ricotta and lots of paprika), mom and dad's chicken noodle soup, Grandma Zelda's chocolate chip cookies, and Grandma Sylvia's Hamentaschen. There was never a chance that I'd turn out thin.

I wanted to cook from the beginning. That damn EZBake oven still goes down as one of the biggest disappointments of my life. Dad taught me how to make a cheese omelet and even bought me my own little red frying pan (which I still have to this day!). Mom taught me how to make crepes (!) when my girl scout troop unanimously decided that crepes were the obvious choice for breakfast on our camping trip. As soon as I could write, I was appointed Thanksgiving Dinner scribe, and took careful, copious notes of how many cans of broth and mushrooms went into the stuffing, the brand of yams and marshmallows used, and of course, how big the bird was each year.

As I grew older, I decided to take cooking into my own hands, perfecting two signature dishes: peanut butter cookies and ambrosia. I would use any excuse to make up a batch of either one. And then came the fateful day when I started out to make peanut butter cookies for my dad on father's day. Halfway through (I didn't understand mise en place at 8 years old) I discovered, to my horror, that we had no eggs. I would not be deterred from my mission. "Eggs, eggs... what else has eggs in it? A-HA! Mayonaise has eggs in it!" And so was born the first ever peanut butter/mayo cookie. (They actually tasted pretty good, although they were very crumbly.)

Then there were all the celebrity chefs I remember watching: Julia Child, Galloping and Frugal Gourmets, and, being from the San Francisco Bay Area, good old Yan. The food network, travel network, PBS (I almost typed PMS. Freudian?), and various food, wine and cooking expos have become part of my husband's and my daily life. My husband is a tuba player and I am a flutist. By the time we get home at night, we found the only thing worth watching was the Food Network. The first time we scrambled to set the VCR to tape an episode of Tony Bourdain's "A Cook's Tour," we knew we were hooked.

People may knock Emeril, but that man single-handedly inspired my husband (a total guy's guy like E) to become a terrific cook. He's taken that inspiration and has become a pro at making the finest sauces for everything from pasta to meat to eggs to vegetables. I have followed in my parental units' footsteps and become a pretty accomplished soup and stew woman, myself. From there, we've developed an insatiable love for all things Mario, Tony Bourdain, Alton Brown, and just making and trying and eating food in general. Being a member of egullet is just the next step in our foodie evolution, and I can't wait to dive right in, get and share some great tips and stories and recipes, and watch how it changes the way I cook and eat.

By the way, the mayo cookies wouldn't be my last odd substitution, nor would it be even close to the strangest thing I've tried eating. From tripe to pig's feet to the unrecognizable thing on the Dim Sum cart that I can't quite figure out, I'll try it. I love food. The distended belly and contented look on my face in all my recent pictures seem to back this up. Alas, there really is no way I'm ever going to be thin.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Zen Judaism

I didn't think there was an e-mail forward left in this world that would actually make me crack a smile. My dear friend Hilary, my hat's off to you!

(It's my blog and I'll comment if I want to, comment if I want to, comment if I want to. You would comment too, if this blog belonged to you!)

Zen Judaism
  • If there is no self, whose arthritis is this?
  • Be here now. Be someplace else later. Is that so complicated?
  • Drink tea and nourish life. With the first sip... joy. With the second... satisfaction. With the third, peace. With the fourth, a danish. (Preferably prune or poppy seed!)
  • Wherever you go, there you are. Your luggage is another story.
  • Accept misfortune as a blessing. Do not wish for perfect health or a life without problems. What would you talk about?
  • The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single "oy." (HA! Don't I know it!?)
  • There is no escaping karma. In a previous life, you never called, you never wrote, you never visited... And whose fault was that?
  • Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkes.
  • The Tao does not speak. The Tao does not blame. The Tao does not take sides. The Tao has no expectations. The Tao demands nothing of others. The Tao is not Jewish. (Rumor has it that the Tao's matzo balls are hard as rocks, too. I'm just saying...)
  • Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Forget this, and attaining Enlightenment will be the least of your problems.
  • Be patient and achieve all things. Be impatient and achieve all things faster.
  • To Find the Buddha, look within. Deep inside you are ten thousand flowers. Each flower blossoms ten thousand times. Each blossom has ten thousand petals. You might want to see a specialist.
  • To practice Zen and the art of Jewish motorcycle maintenance, do the following: get rid of the motorcycle. What were you thinking?
  • Be aware of your body. Be aware of your perceptions. Keep in mind that not every physical sensation is a symptom of terminal illness. (Hi, MOM!)
  • The Torah says, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." The Buddha says there is no "self." So maybe you are off the hook?
  • The Buddha taught that one should practice loving kindness to all sentient beings. Still, would it kill you to find a nice sentient being who happens to be Jewish? (Sorry Mom & Dad, I just had to marry the goy next door.)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Not My Strong Suit

Patience is a virtue, doncha know. Yeah, well it sure as heck isn't my strong suit. I still haven't heard back about the audition and it's killing me. I had dreams about it all night, and even today (I took part of the day off) while napping. I know I didn't get the gig, but until I've actually heard that, my creepy head just keeps going, "what if?" Stupid creepy head.

I'm dying to e-mail the personnel manager, but Mr. Zigkvetch told me not to, and he has a ton more experience. But I freaking hate being patient. HATE.

Will-power is also not my strong suit, so eventually, I betcha I write the e-mail anyway. And then eat my weight in hummous and veggie chips. (Just kidding.)

Standing up to people is not my strong suit either. I tend to get used a lot. I'll fight to the death just about, if I think someone else is getting the shaft, but I really need to stand up for myself more. I'm tired of being various peoples' bitch. Stupid golden child bigshot engineer at work, I'm looking at you.

Taking risks isn't my strong suit. I know I need to get my resume together and start looking for a new job. Or get my official state teaching certification. But I'm terrified of leaving a good job (even if I don't like it) at a good company with good benefits and compensation. I'm starting to think that staying is slowly killing me, however, so something needs to change. I'm trying to change my attitude first- give it one more go. We'll see.

Throwing others under a bus (not literally of course, although I can't imagine I'd be any good at doing that either) is not my strong suit. I see others doing it, almost with glee, and wonder how they can live with themselves.

Ooh- my e-mail just dinged-- maybe it's about the audition! Hold on!

BAH. More work crap. Everything is a matter of life or death with these people. And let me assure you that I don't work for FEMA, Red Cross, a hospital, or any life or death-dealing entity.

Now where was I? Oh yes... I'm also not good at math, keeping things tidy and uncluttered, and not being scared to death by spiders. Which reminds me of a close encounter with the eight-legged kind I had a few weeks ago.

I ran in from work, having to well, um, powder my nose rather urgently. I ran straight to the bathroom and while I was...er, powdering my nose, I looked down, and next to the cat box was a big ass spider. A really, really big ass spider. A really, really effing huge big ass spider. I blanched. I also knew there was no way in heck that I was going to be able to squish this thing without passing out. And, brave warrior that I am, I wanted to protect my new kitten, and yelled at her to stay back as if we were precariously between a pissed off mama bear and her cub. Which of course, only made her want to come on in that much more. "Look at that! The funny human thing is yelling at me, and she's all white! She must want to play! Whoo-hoo! Here I come funny human thing!"

So, I quickly finished powdering my nose and, gulping down the glass-shattering scream that was begging to escape my lungs, leapt over the beast, and into the kitchen for the super duper bug spray. I came back to the bathroom and from the doorway, with the girliest of girly squeals of terror, sprayed the behemoth, which of course, ran for the hills. I sprayed and sprayed. It finally curled up into a ball against the wall. I stopped spraying, and the sneaky bastard leapt up and kept running. I screamed and sprayed again and slammed the door shut.

I shook and shook. I scooped up the cat (sweet little thing- she has no idea how valiantly I saved her little furry life) and she laid down on me, purring back at my ridiculously beating heart.

Veronica called and I talked to her for awhile and she calmed me down a bit. At least until she started telling me about effing cave spiders, or what she likes to call "sprickets" half spider/half cricket. I'm not gonna lie- the description of them made me die a little inside. At least we don't have those. A more suspicious person would deduce that she shared this fact with me as part of a diabolical plan to ensure that I'd never visit her. Of course, I know V isn't diabolical. Either way though, it worked. I told her that I would not be visiting her anytime soon (if by that I mean, EVER), but not to take it personally.

So, Mr. Zigkvetch got home while I was still on the phone with V, and while she giggled at me on her end of the phone line, and without my even saying hello, I immediately told him to get his butt in there to see if the spider was still kicking around. He went in and came thisclose to doing a Fred-Flinstone-stepping-on-a-banana-peel slip because of all the bug spray on the floor. The gargantua was dead, but even Mr. Z had to admit it was gosh darn big. (Mr. Z claims that I may, at times, possibly overstate, slightly, the size of spiders who invade our home. Lies, I tell you!) We figure the poor thing died of drowning before the poison could even take effect.

It took me an hour to clean the bathroom up. The fumes were delightful. Whee!

And yes, I'm a little terrified to go back into the bathroom. I don't want any ghost of a pissed off spider to come jumping out at me growling. Or any of his minions to attack me when I least expect it, seeking swift revenge.

Restraint from rambling on and on in blog entries? Also, not one of my strong suits.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Who knew? Everything you ever wanted to know about Jewish exorcisms!

(Read post below this one, first. Please and thank you.)

I guess Jews have exorcisms too. (Whew! I mean, just in case... G-d forbid, pphth, ppthth...)

Here is some of the stuff I found:

One of the best known Judaic ritual, cited in Judaism rabbinical literature dating from the first century AD, concerns the dybbuk, an evil or doomed spirit which possesses a victim and causes mental illness and a personality change. The dybbuk is expelled through the victim's small toe, and then is either redeemed or sent to hell.

From: http://www.ghostvillage.com/legends/2003/legends32_11292003.shtml:

Rabbi Gershon Winkler has been studying Jewish folklore, spirituality, and its shamanic roots for more than 25 years. He has written books covering the Jewish perspective on ghosts, apparitions, magic, and reincarnation, including a book titled Dybbuk. Rabbi Winkler said, "[Jews] don't believe in demonic possession. We believe that, on very rare occasions, there can be a possession of a living person by the soul of one who has left the body, but not the world, and they're seeking a body to possess to finish whatever they need to finish."

A true possession does have specific signs. Rabbi Winkler explained, "You can tell it is real if the person is capable of speaking things that they would not otherwise be capable of knowing. Because the soul that's in them is not integrated with them enough to be subject to time, space, and matter, they would be able to tell you things they would ordinarily not know -- like what you dreamed last night, what's happening across the street, maybe they can even speak a separate language that they've never known before."

If this kind of bad possession takes hold, the solution is exorcism. The Jewish exorcism ritual is performed by a rabbi who has mastered practical Kabbalah (Important Blogger's note: THIS REFERS TO THE REAL STUDY OF JUDAIC MYSTICISM, NOT THE CRAPFEST MONEY-GRUBBING CULT THAT MORONS LIKE MADONNA/BRITNEY ET AL LIKE TO PROCLAIM AS THEIR "RELIGION!!!"). The ceremony involves a quorum of 10 people who gather in a circle around the possessed person. The group recites Psalm 91 three times, and the rabbi blows the shofar -- a ram's horn.

Rabbi Winkler has performed four exorcisms in his life so far. He said, "We blow the ram's horn in a certain way, with certain notes, in effect to shatter the body, so to speak. So that the soul who is possessing will be shaken loose. After it has been shaken loose, we can begin to communicate with it and ask it what it is here for. We can pray for it and do a ceremony for it to enable it to feel safe and finished so that it can leave the person's body."

The point of the exorcism is to heal the person being possessed and the spirit doing the possessing. This is a stark contrast to the Catholic exorcism that is intended to drive away the offending spirit or demon. Winkler said, "We don't drive anything out of anybody. What we want to do is to heal the soul that's possessing and heal the person. It's all about healing -- we do the ceremony on behalf of both people."

Who knew?

Those Poor People

I just can't believe this has happened. I've read so many horrifying things and they've shocked me and made me cry. G-d only knows what these people are feeling. There's not much I can say that hasn't been said.

I feel guilty writing about life just going on, but I will I guess.

I had an audition today, and it went well although I don't know who won yet. I'm trying hard not to get my hopes up, but it's not really working that well. I had a huge adrenaline rush when I got there and thought I was going to pass out. So I did jumping jacks. I must've looked like such a dork. I hope the church where the auditions were held doesn't have a security camera.

We had a friend come stay with us for the weekend. It was nice to hang out and see another friend that I don't get to see much. And we went to Zaftig's in Brookline and I had wonderful cold borscht. I could eat a vat of it if given the chance. I played at a wedding in Boston for a couple that seemed oddly detached from each other. And the bridesmaids weren't even giggly.

I'm worried about Paul's upcoming surgery. I'm Jewish. It's what I do.

I'm proud of my parents and their awesome weightloss via Weight Watchers. They rule.

I tried the new Edy's/Dreyer's (east coast/west coast) whipped light ice cream. It's frigging delicious. And the sugar free Jell-O pudding rules too.

Our garden has bloomed forth about 5 million spicier than hell peppers, and some delicious tomatoes.

I think Lance Armstrong needs to not go back and "mess with France" by not retiring. Dude, go out on a high note, how about?

Big Papi did it again tonight. He's just the coolest.

And I have an odd celeb-crush on 50 Cent. No, I'm not even kidding. Yes, Mr. Zigkvetch knows. He just shakes his head and laughs at me.

Speaking of crushes, Mr. Z has always had a crush on Kirstie Alley. Girlfriend is looking pretty fab in those Jenny Craig commercials, I've got to admit.

I am dying to see "The Exorcism of Emily Rose." That's right. I'll give you time to stop laughing at me. Ok, ok, enough already. I've read about the real story about the German girl on whom this is based, and find the whole medicine vs. religion argument facinating. I may or may not also be trying like heck to catch the A&E special on "real" exorcisms as well. And I'm wondering what the Jewish faith has to say about demonic possession and if there is a Jewish equivalent of an exorcism.

All of these things skim along the top of my brain, but underneath my head and my heart are still thinking about all the gulf coast people, the ineptitude of our government and rescue agencies, and the racism that I naively assumed wasn't as strong as it obviously still is. Ok, I'll put away the soapbox now, and try to shut the heck up.