Sass & Bite

"If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you" Oscar Wilde

Month: November, 2013

Things I’m Thankful For

Happy Thanksgiving er’body!

#TBT. Hint: this is nowhere near California.

#TBT to one of the only autumnal pictures I have. Hint: this is nowhere near California.

I hope you all have a day filled with great food, more wine (and champagne) than that wedding that Jesus went to, and no (lasting) family drama.

My Thanksgiving motto? If at the end you’re not contemplating bulimia, you’re doing it wrong.

A few of the many things I’m grateful for this year:

. . . family that puts up with their 22 year-old daughter who has not always taken well to living at home once again.

. . . friends who know exactly what I’m thinking when I give them a single look as we’re being cornered in a bar by random people from high school that we don’t want to talk to.

. . . my kitty cat and my total airhead of a dog.

. . . my striped shirt from Zara that I’ve been wearing constantly because it might be the most perfect cold-weather shirt in the history of the world. 

. . . my secret boyfriend. 

And a lot of other things.

I’ve got it pretty good.

Words of Wisdom

“The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on — it is never of any use to oneself.” –Oscar Wilde

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1. Never wear the belt that came with the dress.

2. Sometimes popcorn and wine counts as dinner.

3. Always lawyer up. You know on Law & Order and CSI, etc. where the suspect is always like, “should I be asking for a lawyer?” or “I have nothing to hide, I’m innocent, ask me anything.”? Those people are idiots. Skip that step, lawyer up.

4. Not everything needs bacon. Let’s move on.

5. If you don’t vote, you don’t get an opinion. You don’t get to bitch, about anything, ever.

6. If you’re a terrible cook and will never be able to contribute food or throw a party that involves food at the risk of poisoning everyone, establish a reputation as the one who brings the best (or most?) booze.

7. If you’re a farmer and you need it to rain so you can get a crop or whatever, wash your car.

8. People who smile too much are not to be trusted.

9. If you find yourself wondering, with any regularity, if you deserve better. . . you probably do.

Marbled Pumpkin Cheesecake Tart

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There is a fat kid inside me who is constantly trying to get out.

There is also a drag queen in there. And a kitty cat. But that’s not why we’re here.

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We’re here for this pumpkin cheesecake tart, which I made for the first of my two Thanksgivings this past weekend. To the eternal joy of my inner fat kid, my dad’s side of the family does Thanksgiving a week before, out of a desire for familial equality, or possibly an insatiable love of food. Either way, I’m good with it.

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After finally getting my hands on the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook and discovering this recipe that combines four of my favorite things — pumpkin pie and cheesecake, plus graham cracker AND ginger snaps as a crust — I selflessly volunteered to make dessert. This was one of them. And it was phenomenal.

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It’s more firm than pumpkin pie, closer to cheesecake in texture (shocking, right), and it has more flavor; it isn’t watery like normal pumpkin pie can sometimes be. And did I mention the graham-cracker-ginger-snap hybrid crust. Basically I’m saying I’ve one-upped pumpkin pie. You’re welcome.

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Don’t be put off by how long/complicated/time-consuming the recipe looks: it comes together quickly and it’s actually really simple. Although I did find that there seemed to be a bit too much batter because it did overflow a bit. I might have mis-measured the pumpkin or something? I say that as a question because I don’t think I did, but I’m scarred because of this one time over the summer when I was trying to double a cookie recipe and accidentally quadrupled the butter, and it was a whole ordeal and at the end I had like 72 cookies. We don’t need to talk about it. 

PUMPKIN CHEESECAKE TART
from the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

INGREDIENTS:

Crust

~16 ginger snap cookies (4 oz.)

5 1/2 sheets of graham crackers (3 oz.)

1/2 stick (4 tbl.(butter)

Cheesecake Batter

4 oz. (1/2 brick) cream cheese, well-softened

3 tbl. granulated sugar

1 large egg yolk

Pumpkin Batter

1 large egg

1 large egg white

1 1/4 cups pumpkin puree

1/4 granulated sugar

1/4 brown sugar

1/2 tsp. table salt

3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. ground ginger

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

pinch nutmeg

1 cup heavy cream

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Finely grind ginger snaps and graham crackers in a food processor (or put them in a ziploc and smash the hell out of them/roll over them with a rolling pin) — you should get about 1 1/2 cups. Add the melted butter and process until the crumb mixture is combined.

Press the crust mix firmly into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-in. tart pan with a removable bottom. Place pan on a rimmed baking sheet (you bake it on here so it doesn’t fall apart. I don;t know if that’s obvious or not. But I didn’t get it at first).

Mix cheesecake batter ingredients together in a small bowl until smooth.

In a large bowl, beat the egg and egg white lightly with a fork or electric beater. Whisk in the pumpkin, sugars, salt, and spices. Gradually whisk in the cream.

Pour the pumpkin mix into the pan on top of the crust. Dollop the cheesecake batter over the pumpkin batter, the marble the two together attractively (hopefully) with a knife, taking care not to disturb the crust.

Bake 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 350 and bake for another 30 to 40 minutes, or until a fork or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool completely on a rack and serve at room temperature or cold.

Eliminating Job Possibilities for Myself: Why I Could Never Be a Weather Girl

A helpful reference of what actual rain looks like

A helpful reference of what actual rain looks like

Although I would rock — and enjoy — wearing a tight and inexplicably strapless dress that looks like what hookers wear while trying to get through upscale hotel lobbies incognito to meet their Johns to work every day, I have come to realize that I cannot be a weather girl.

I could not, in good conscience, play the STORM WATCH game.

For those of you who don’t know, or who live in a place that sees more than 2 inches of rain per year, STORM WATCH is what happens whenever a meteorologist spots a single dark cloud on the horizon and panic ensues as the citizens of Los Angeles lose. their. shit.

I just could not get on TV and say with a straight face, “There’s some precipitation on the horizon, so we’re on STORM WATCH everybody. Please, please be careful out there, the roads are extremely dangerous in these conditions”.

Bitch, there’s barely enough drizzle out here to water my basil plant — what the hell are you talking about?

And yet, everyone immediately goes into apocalypse mode and traffic is even more horrendous than usual as people start operating their vehicles as if they were driving down an icy mountain in a blizzard and they forgot their snow chains. I can’t even . . .  how do I explain.

I left my house at 7:40 this morning.
I walked into work at 9:20.
My office is 18 miles from my home, and pretty much a straight shot on the freeway.

I could — and have — literally gotten to Santa Barbara, which is nearly 100 miles from my home in the other direction, in less time than it took me to get 18 miles. I kid you not.

An hour and 40 minutes to go 18 miles, because Weather Girl Barbie, who probably didn’t even go to weather girl school, whatever that entails, said we’re on STORM WATCH. Because it is overcast and there is a moderate amount of drizzle.

My basil plant better be well-hydrated when I get home, that’s all I have to say.

Things No One Has Ever Probably Told You About Being a Receptionist

Because I’m a fan of hard-hitting journalism, I’m gonna drop some knowledge on you today about the under-represented world of receptionisting. ‘Cause even though it’s definitely not the worst job out there, there’s so much more going on than you ever probably considered.

1. The phone will never ring. You will sit there for hours at a time, alone at the front desk, while the lawyers and other employees are frolicking and having a great time in the back, and the phone will not ring. Until you start to do something.

Oh, you’re just getting into a riveting and complex article (about the politics of red-carpet dresses that led to a catfight between young starlets)? Rrring.

Oh, you’re trying to fill out yet another job application on a time-sensitive website so you can try and make something of your life? Rrring.

Get up to go to the bathroom because you’re about to pee your pants? Rrring.

Dying of thirst that you’ve avoided dealing with for fear the phone would ring while you’re in the kitchen? Rrring.

2. People will want to tell you every little detail of their case, why they’re calling, the dates and times of when they’ve call before, what they thought about before making the call, and possibly their lunch order. When you try to put them on hold after minute four so you can answer the other three lines that are suddenly ringing (see above), they will become miffed.

3. People will assume you’re some sort of paralegal/personal assistant/slave hybrid and try to make you deal with paperwork, explain legal concepts to them, or ask you about their attorney’s thoughts, feelings, and strategies. When you tell them you’re just the receptionist, they will probably not believe you, become unreasonably irate, or say “well. . .  can’t you just do it anyway? I mean, what else are you doing?”

4. Some people will talk so loudly it’s like you’re communicating through tin cans on a string and they have to shout to be heard.

5. When leaving a message, 38% of people will talk like so: “TellhertocallDanTzatzikialabouttheReyes/Smithmattermynumberis3105555432andmycellis3105559876andIcanbereachedattheofficebetween11:30and12:45andmycellbetween1:27and4:43. Great, thanksbye.” If you ask them to repeat something (because unfortunately you don’t understand chipmunk-speed), you will be met with a deep sigh and an exasperated answer. Cause clearly you’re a fucking idiot.

6. Approximately 76% of people will not give their name when asking to speak to whoever they’ve called for. When you ask who’s calling, they will simply say “Dan”. And when you politely ask Dan who?, because your bosses have asked that you stop patching through calls from one-name people they don’t know or don’t want to talk to, you will be met with a deep sigh and an exasperated answer. Cause clearly you’re a fucking idiot.

7. You will be so bored you will actually look forward to the mail delivery so you can sort it. When they are late and don’t arrive before you close for lunch, you will be aggravated.

Upon realizing this, you will wonder when your life got to this point.

8. Sometimes, crazies will call. These are the best times.

A dude will ask you if anyone in the office does indecent exposure cases. Even after you tell him no, he will detail for you exactly why he needs one. You’re well aware that by listening, you’re probably giving an unemployed perv his masturbation fodder, and this is hysterical to you. So naturally, you encourage him. You’re just helping a brother out. I mean, like that one caller said — what else are you doing?

Some dude will drunkenly ask you if your boss is hot, and if not, could you recommend a hot lawyer? Cause he really only wants a hot lawyer. With a good ass. That’s key.

See multiple variations of the above examples.

But they don’t happen nearly often enough.

Soba Noodles with Eggplant and Mango

I just want to give a shout-out to whoever invented noodles. Noodles are great, no? Pretty much all noodles. Especially Asian noodles.

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Last year I discovered Soba noodles, aka Japanese Buckwheat Noodles. How many more times can I say that word in this post? How long will it be before I get PB&J Otter’s classic song  “Noodle Dance” out of my head? Time will tell.

Moving on. Soba noodles are really great: they have a soft texture and a mild but distinctive taste, and they don’t leave you with the heavy feeling that Italian pasta (delicious though it is) often does. They also contain all eight essential amino acids. There, you learned something today.

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I recently checked out Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook Plenty. He’s an Israeli restauranteur in London and it’s a vegetarian cookbook with absolutely gorgeous photos. I was a vegetarian for three years — I’m not anymore but I still eat a lot of vegetarian dishes — and I wish this had been out back then cause there is some really good stuff in here. Including several soba recipes.

I added tofu to this for extra protein, but you can leave it out or use chicken instead. The recipe calls for fresh red chiles for the dressing; I went to four grocery stores, including a Latin-American market and an Asian market, because I am obsessive and single-minded. I could only find dried. So I grabbed a little red jalapeño and used that instead. The other time I made this, I skipped the chile altogether and just splashed some sri racha in the sauce, which was also really good. Possibly better. Finally, I cut down on the amount of onion, because it was pretty overwhelming, but if you’re a better planner-aheader than me, you can just soak them in ice water for a few minutes first.

*Update: did I discover a goddamn red chile plant growing out in my backyard yesterday? Yes. Yes I did.

SOBA NOODLES WITH EGGPLANT AND MANGO
adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolonghi

INGREDIENTS : 

1/2 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 fresh red chile, finely chopped — or Sri Ratcha
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
grated zest and juice of 1 lime
2-3 tablespoons sunflower, canola or peanut oil (*The original recipe calls for 1 cup of sunflower oil, but I didn’t feel the need to use that much)
2 small eggplants, cut into 3/4-inch dice
8  ounces soba noodles
1 large ripe mango, roughly diced
handful of  basil leaves, chopped (if you can get some use Thai basil, but much less of it)
1 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced

In a small saucepan gently warm the vinegar, sugar and salt for up to 1 minute, just until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and add the garlic, chile and sesame oil. Allow to cool, then add the lime zest and juice.

In a large pan, heat the oil and shallow-fry the eggplant; you’ll probably have to do it in batches. Once golden brown remove to a colander, sprinkle liberally with salt and leave there to drain.

Meanwhile, cook the noodles in plenty of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally. It should take about 7 minutes. Drain and rise well under running cold water. Shake off as much of the excess water as possible, then leave to drain.

Toss the noodles with the dressing, mango, eggplant, half of the herbs and the onion. You can now leave this aside for 1 to 2 hours if you want. When ready to serve, add the rest of the herbs and mix well.

Words of Wisdom

“The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on — it is never of any use to oneself.” –Oscar Wilde

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1. An excellent rationale for buying things you probably shouldn’t be is “I don’t have children to support”.

2. If you do have children, I guess try “I need to take care of me so I can take care of them“? I don’t know, you made your own bed on this one.

3. If a restaurant does both sushi and Chinese, do not eat at that restaurant.

4. Don’t be rude to your waiter. They’re just doing their job, which probably sucks. And, hello, they can fuck with your food.

5. People who are condescending to waiters and customer-service people are not good people.

6. Take the stairs.

7. Why are you making “save the trees” signs. . . on paper?

8. I know clouds in your coffee are pretty and mesmerizing. But, heat your milk in your cup before you put the coffee in — then heat doesn’t escape through cold ceramic or cold milk. I know. Life-changing.

9. I feel like I shouldn’t have to explain this, but apparently I do: if that guy you meet at the bar says you have beautiful eyes. . . . he doesn’t mean it. And he’s unoriginal.

I Made Dis: Sparkly Ear Cuff

First of all, let’s get the important things out of the way: today’s date is 11/12/13. The fact that I get to write this on the date line for all the messages I take at work today is very exciting for me.
It’s the little things.

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Speaking of little things, I made an earring/ear cuff hybrid. I saw this on HonestlyWTF a while ago, and my mind-numbing boredom and love of sparkly objects combined forces over the weekend to get me to make one. And I like it. It’s like a sparkly bluetooth.

Mine is less intricate and slightly different than the original; the stones I used are somewhat wider and I didn’t get settings to make them flat because A) I didn’t realize I needed to, and B) I probably wouldn’t have anyway because it would have required me to go to a specialty store and I’m too lazy for that. Except I had to do anyway the next day because even though I had an earring-back fastener, I didn’t actually have the pointy earring post part. Which you’d think would be pretty obvious and at the top of the list, but no. Not in my brain. Didn’t even occur to me until I tried to put the thing on.

I’m a mess. I also spent a whole day unaware that my underwear was on backwards. So. You know. Me in a nutshell.

It's actually really sparkly in real life.

It’s actually really sparkly in real life.

Anyway. It’s pretty simple. All you need are:

  • some gems, beads, whatever — I’m making another one involving a pearl that I haven’t finished yet — I got my navette stones in the bead section at Michael’s
  • curved tube finding, also in the bead section at Michael’s
  • earring post with a flat backing; I got mine at a bead store because I just wanted one set, but you can also get them at Michael’s
  • earring back; I took mine off an old earring with no mate
  • super glue
  • a hammer
  • needle-nose pliers and a toothpick, if you want more precision

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First, use the hammer to flatten the tube.

Apply glue to the back of the bead — you might want to use a toothpick so it doesn’t get all over the place, which it will because superglue is unreasonably difficult — and set it where you want it on the flattened base.

I used just the tip (badum kssh) of the bead and set it on the edge; hold it there for a few seconds to give the glue time to set a little bit.

Continue the rest of the beads, alternating to form a leaf-like pattern.

When you get to the end, if there’s excess metal trim it off with wire cutters. If you don’t have wire cutters, there’s often a hidden set in the joint of needle-nose pliers.

Glue the earring post to the back of the flattened base, not too close to the end because you don’t want it to fall once it’s in your ear.

Let the whole thing dry for at least several hours, or overnight before wearing.

*If you managed to somehow get superglue all over the damn thing and it dulled the stones (not that I speak from experience or anything), go over it with a Q-tip dipped in nail polish remover: it’ll dissolve the glue on the surface. Then go over it with a Q-tip dipped in water so the acetone doesn’t dull the stones or seep into the setting and dissolve the glue.

Wear and look stylish.

 

Things We Need to Talk About: Insane Ramblings from My Mind

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1. Gmail is really pushy. You know how if you load it with another tab open it’ll automatically go back to Gmail and make you watch the little blue loading bar? So pushy. Wait your turn, Gmail.

2. I rediscovered recently that both Usher and Anna Paquin starred in the 90’s classic film She’s All That.

3. As we all know, Orlando Bloom is broken up with Miranda Kerr now. I sense an opportunity here. He was the Next Tom Cruise after Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Carribean. He was my middle school crush. And then nothing. He just got kind of vanilla and faded out. Potential comeback of the year? Let’s find out.

4.  Whatever happened to that kid from the 90’s Smart & Final commercials? What’s he up to these days?

5. It’s really hard to look up how to spell a word when you have no idea how it’s spelled. Try Googling “hors d’oeuvre” but without the faintest idea what you’re doing.

6. I’m considering switching to calling eggplants “aubergines” instead. I’m feeling fancy and pretentious lately.

What are your thoughts.

Earn Your Stripes

 
I’ve been somewhat fixated on stripes lately. Particularly striped shirts. Stripes are great no?

So simple, so chic, so bold. French girls know this to be true.

And contrary to everything my mother ever told me, I’m partial to horizontal stripes. They won’t make you look fat.

Pinky promise.

Gimme

Gimme

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Emmanuelle Alt

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Gary Pepper

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Sofia Coppola

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Marion Cotillard

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Prada A/W 2013

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Lou Doillon

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