April 23, 2005

Matzos and eggs

My dad is not much of a cook. While my inner feminist always railed against him never even helping my mom with dinner, a rational part of me realized that this was a good thing because we really didn't want to eat any more of his cooking than necessary. The only time it became necessary to eat his cooking was when he'd suddenly get the cooking bug, usually on a weekend morning, and make something weird that left me, my brother and my mom wrinkling our noses at our plate, while my dad complained, "Why do I even bother? Can't you show just one bit of appreciation for my effort?" I remember two typical "weird" things my dad made. One wasn't so weird, but as a kid I didn't like it. It was an omelette, basically, but with things like peppers and onions in it, and I didn't like that kind of stuff as a kid. The other thing was something that is so like my dad to make. It was French toast, but he'd cook it on the stove. No, like the stove, the free-standing wood-burning stove that my parents have to heat the house. And no, you don't quite see, he'd cook it on the stove, none of that silly pan business, he'd plop the bread down right on the surface of the stove that had previously held sappy, mossy, buggy pieces of firewood that were brought in from outside. I suppose I didn't die from eating it, and I guess it had a woodsy, campfire sort of flavour to it, but... ew.

One odd thing my dad eats, though he refrains from forcing the whole family to eat it, is bananas and sour cream. It pretty much is what it sounds like. Scoop a bunch of sour cream into a bowl, slice a banana over it, sprinkle on some sugar, and there you go. I actually quite like it and would join him for a bowl if he asked me if I wanted some.

Another thing that has been passed down from him to me, that my brother and mom have never liked, is matzos and eggs. I believe my dad learned how to make it from his mom, but I'm not sure. Since Passover starts tonight, I thought I'd post how to make them, in case you ever find yourself with a box of matzos and have no idea what to do with them. I'm sure it's as unkosher as can be, but kosherness was never a worry for my Jewish/Christian family.

You need:
2-3 eggs (depending on how hungry you are)
2-2 1/2 large matzos
bit of milk

Scramble the eggs in a bowl and add a dash of milk. Crumble the matzos over the bowl and mix into the egg until the matzos are all covered with egg. Use enough matzo so that the egg is mostly filled up with it, you should have more matzo in your bowl than runny egg. If needed, crush up any larger matzo pieces.

Heat some butter in a skillet. Pour the egg mixture into the skillet and flatten out in the pan. Sprinkle some cinnamon over it. Cook the matzos and eggs like you would scrambled eggs, letting it cook a bit and then stir it, then let it cook more, etc. Don't let it cook too long or it'll be dry and tough. It's always a tricky thing to cook it to the exact right doneness, where it is a bit runny still, but not too runny.

Once the matzos and eggs are done, serve them onto a bowl or plate, then sprinkle with sugar (growing up with all this stuff you just sprinkled sugar on, no wonder I have such a sweet tooth). Enjoy!

April 20, 2005

Presidents of the USA, 18 Apr, Paradiso

What a fucking insane show. It started with the massively long line we encountered upon arriving at Paradiso. Because there was a Rufus Wainwright show right before the Presidents, that audience had to be cleared out before the next one could enter. So basically an entire crowd was out on the sidewalk. We arrived at 11:15 (show was meant to start at 11:30. Yeah. I know.) and the line was back almost to the doors of De Balie. We were in line for half an hour. We had just enough time to get in and pick a spot to stand in when the band came out. Paradiso was absolutely packed and they gave the band a big cheer. All three of the guys were dressed in short-sleeved business shirts and ties. They started with a song from their new album, which a fair amount of the crowd seemed to know, but when they played Kitty after that, the crowd went nuts. When they played Lump a few songs later, it was absolute mayhem as I watched the front half of the crowd condense together and commence manic moshing. The band alternated a bit between new songs and the well-known songs from their first album, seeming totally happy to play the songs that the crowd would know better. Well, they just seemed happy in general, they haven't changed (though the other guitarist is a different guy now), bouncing around the stage and just generally having a blast. And the crowd had a blast with them. The whole front of the audience was moshing and a lot of the rest of the crowd was pogoing and putting their arms in the air and such. After one person started the trend, there was an almost constant stream of stage divers, fer chrissakes, who were actually carried by the audience instead of being allowed to fall into a hole at the front. One guy made it as far back in the crowd as we were. It was insane. It was so 1995. It was like the anti-Doug Fir. Maybe it was because most of the people were younger, I dunno. I just didn't expect all that energy and excitement at a late show on a Monday.

And the band rocked. Jason Finn is a funny little guy. He alternately reminded me of Jack Black and Vincent D'Onofrio as the alien in Men in Black cuz he'd be drumming with his neck all crinked up against his shoulder. They played quite a few covers, including one medley of a bunch of random stuff that included Wonderwall, I Wanna Be Sedated, The Spice Girls and ended with Video Killed the Radio Star. They later played Shout and got the entire floor crowd to squat down during the part where they say "Get a little bit softer now, get a little bit softer now..." Unfortunately at first this group at the front couldn't squat down because they were still holding up a girl who had jumped into the audience, hehe. Chris Ballew asked them to put her down so they could squat with the rest of us, then she seemed to hurt herself, so he asked her a ton of times if she was ok: "Are you sure? Really? That looked like it hurt. You're ok though?" hehe. Peaches was interrupted by a stage diver who would just not leave, so the band asked if he'd like to sit and make himself comfortable. They told stories and jokes and had a great time. It was just an awesome show, they don't make 'em like that often. Fortunately there was a live webcast which will be archived soon, so it'll be interesting to see if the energy shows through there.

April 13, 2005


I don't like kids. I won't be having kids. If it were up to me, none of my friends would have kids. Hell, if it were really up to me, no one would have kids. Ah, such peace and quiet. But alas, people carry on and have kids. And some of those people are friends of mine. I've been pretty lucky so far; only one of my friends back home had had a child, and that was easy to deal with because she's far away and now's she's moved to California, so even when I visit Oregon, I won't be seeing her. But now, as of last Friday, friends of mine here became parents. It's weird. It's not right. They're supposed to be looking forward to the next show to go to, not pushing a buggy and changing diapers. It is a loss of sorts since going to see them will never be the same.

Also, my blood pressure rises probably abnormally at the thought of children-y things. I've probably been more stressed out at the news of my friends' baby than they've been. Mostly it's just that if I were in their position I'd be a basket case by now, and then I turn myself into a basket case even though I'm not them. Yeah, I know, I have some anxiety issues. I also worry that I let too much of my dislike and cynicism about having kids leak into my emails and such. I think I've managed to be polite so far. I also try to be calm and see that in the photos so far they look like happy, glowing parents. So, really, I should be happy for them. I wish them all the strength that I wouldn't have in being a parent.

April 8, 2005

Chocolate French toast

Since I like to cook, I thought I'd share a recipe every once in awhile of something I made and quite liked. Maybe someone else would try it and like it too. I'll start with a recipe I've made twice now, the last time being last weekend: Chocolate French toast. It is a little rich for breakfast (not to mention adding rum to the topping), so it's nice for midday on a weekend.

Serves 4-6

50g dark chocolate
2/3 cup milk
1 egg
4 teaspoons seedless raspberry jam
2 tablespoons rum
8 thick slices white bread (I used French brioche from Bolletje that I found in our store's bakery)
butter for shallow frying

Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a small pan with the milk. Heat gently, stirring until the chocolate melts. Leave to cool slightly.

Heat the raspberry jam gently and stir in the rum. Set aside and keep warm.

Beat the egg in a large mixing bowl and whisk in the warm chocolate milk.

Dip each slice of bread briefly into the chocolate mixture. Heat the butter or oil in a frying pan and shallow-fry the bread for 2-3 minutes until just crispy, turning once.

Serve with the hot jam sauce.


One of my latest obsessions is the show Lost. It started showing on Dutch tv a couple of months ago, but O and I have quickly sped ahead by watching downloaded copies of what's been shown in the US. We've watched two episodes a night for the past two nights. There was a kind of boring lull there for a bit where my main entertainment was to make snarky comments, but now we're in a good streak of creepy, cliff-hanging episodes. The first episode we watched last night left on such a "ack!" moment, that O immediately turned to me and said solemnly "We gotta watch the next one." We still have 9 episodes to watch til we've caught up to where the US is, which will be kinda sad cuz then we have to wait a week like everyone else. Though it'll mean avoiding having things ruined for me by accidentally reading something on Television without Pity. Anyway, I don't know what grand plans the writers have in store, and I keep trying to imagine how they could keep this show up for years, but I just hope the show doesn't let me down with lame answers to the mysteries they've established.

April 7, 2005

Trip down my stomach's memory lane

Yesterday I was thinking about Passover and I decided to see if Manischewitz, the brand of kosher Jewish food in the US that my family always bought, had a website. They do, of course, and in looking at their products, I see things have become more modern in the past years. Besides the plain matzos and egg matzos that I remember, there are also now apple cinnamon, onion, and garlic flavours. Such choice! And gone are the orange and green boxes that I remember, they now come in white boxes with fancy photos and script on them.

Anyway, I clicked over to the recipes page and the first item there caught my attention: Noodle pudding. I was pretty sure I knew what it was, something I had had long ago that every once in awhile I'd be reminded of, but I had no idea what it was, all I remember was I liked it. I have no idea where I even had it, perhaps at the temple that my brother and I went to for a few years for Hebrew school on the weekend. So I did a bit more research online and it is what I remember, which in my mind is egg noodles baked in a custardy pudding. The Jewish name for this dish is kugel, which is usually sweet and made with noodles, but can take many forms, such as having matzo in it or potato. You can get more of an idea about the dish from this article.

I was so happy to have come across this after so many years of having flashbacks of a yummy noodle-y dish that only left me wondering if I was making the whole thing up. My family went to the Greek Festival in Portland a couple of times, and at the dinner there, there was a noodle dish that always set off the flashbacks (I don't know what the Greek dish was called). But the Greek recipe was much more savoury. (Interesting that in searching for the possible name of this Greek recipe, I find a site saying that in places in Greece it is traditional to make sweet noodle puddings. Maybe it's a Mediterranean thing.)

This solves the second food mystery from my childhood. I used to have similar sudden memories of a sweet crumbly thing that was in strawberry or chocolate flavours that made me think of something like freeze-dried ice cream. I can remember eating it at my grandparents apartment in New York when we visited them when I was about 7. Only a few years ago did I finally find out what it was: Helva, an Eastern Mediterranean candy made from tahini (crushed sesame seeds). It is very common in Turkey and handily there are tons of Turkish bakers in this city, so I promptly went out and got a chunk of some, which was pretty much as I remembered it.

Anyway, I've now armed myself with a couple of noodle pudding recipes which I will have to try out. I can't wait to see O's face when I describe to him what I'll be making. And if he doesn't like it, great, more for me. =)

April 6, 2005

I'm a winner!

I'm a regular reader of the English weekly Amsterdam paper, Amsterdam Weekly. It's only been around a year, and it could be more diverse, but I'm happy it exists and I hope it can keep going. Plus, my friend, Steven, writes music stuff for them.

Recently they had a readers' survey, with the enticement of prizes if you returned the survey with your contact details on it. So I sent it in, and yesterday I got a letter from the paper announcing that I'd won not just a prize, but the first prize. Whoohoo! The prize is dinner and a movie for two at The Movies. Not bad. I never win anything, so I'm wondering if I'm like the only person who returned a survey or something. Or maybe Steven rigged it all in my favour.

April 3, 2005

The savage bunny eater

I meant to post this for Easter, so I'm a week late, but I'm posting it anyway.

My work gave everyone chocolate bunnies for Easter, which was rather nice since we thought seasonal gifts like that would stop after we had merged with our evil parent company of doom. Unfortunately, not the most attractive chocolate bunny was chosen:

To me it looks either like some horrible geek, or a meanacing devil with nasty, big, pointy teeth, depending on how you look at it. I decided that if some devil (sent by our parent company?) did indeed lurk inside its hollow interior, something would have to be done to keep it from taking over all our souls.

The first step: it had to be killed, swiftly and viciously, so that any devil spirit would hopefully be eliminated right away.

I came up on the bunny slowly and quietly.

Within a few seconds, I think I was making progress.

I was pretty sure the devil spirit had been eradicated. The world still seemed to be turning on and, as far as I could tell, my soul felt safe. But I had to be sure. Perhaps this spirit had soaked into the chocolate shell of the bunny. The only solution came to me: I would bake banana chocolate muffins from this devlish shell. The heat would surely destroy any remaining spirit.

The muffins were promptly baked. I felt the possibility diminishing of any evil spirit releasing itself. But once more I had to be sure. Surely if I ingested the devil bunny, we would all be safe. I prepared to give myself up in order for the devil bunny to be gone, once and for all.

I gobbled down the muffin, and all was good.