Wednesday, February 27, 2008

"Please spare me my life..."

Be warned, this is 3.46 minutes of your life you may never get back :) Feel your brain turn into mush...



[From Mark Maynard's website.]

Food meme- fun!

Ooooh... a fun food meme! It's about time... :)

What were you cooking/baking 10 years ago?
Not very much. Maybe weekly spaghetti marinara for Sam on those days when I didn't have classes in college. I don't think I really started cooking or experimenting with food until we came here.

What were you cooking/baking one year ago?
Buttermilk biscuits with goat cheese and chives

Five snacks you enjoy:
1) Rice crispy treats (for some reason, I really like the ones at Starbuck's)
2) Graham crackers with raspberry cream cheese
3) Anything with dark chocolate or Nutella
4) "Love letters" during Chinese New Year
5) Does coffee count as a snack?

Five recipes you know by heart:
1) Roast chicken
2) Spicy mac & cheese
3) Roasted sweet potato soup
4) Beef noodle soup
5) Char siew (Chinese roast pork)

Five culinary luxuries you would indulge in if you were a millionaire:
1) Organic foods only
2) A large kitchen with ample storage and counter space
3) The full range of Le Creuset cookware
4) To be able to fly to the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo whenever I want uber-fresh sashimi
5) Someone to do the dishes and clean the kitchen so Jude and I won't have to

Five dishes you love to cook/bake:
1) Any pasta dish
2) Slow-roasted pork shoulder
3) Chocolate lava cakes
4) Anything that reminds us of home
5) Chocolate truffles (this doesn't involve cooking- does it count?)

Five dishes you cannot/will not eat:
1) Celery
2) Bugs
3) Uni (sea-urchin)
[You can tell how much I love food when I can't think of more than 3 things I won't eat...]

Five favorite culinary toys:
1) Immersion blender (I use this to make all those pureed soups for winter)
2) Microplane grater/zester (for grating everything from cheese to nutmeg)
3) The Bialetti stove-top cappuccino machine Jude got me for Christmas
4) My set of 6-oz. ramekins
5) My oven-safe Calphalon pan

Five dishes for your "last meal" menu:
1) Any soup my mom makes
2) My mom's curry chicken
3) My late grandma's salt-baked chicken
4) Sashimi from Tsukiji Fish Market
5) A plate of ultra creamy handmade buffalo mozzarella with heirloom tomatoes, generous slices of Ibérico ham, shavings of good Parmesan Reggiano, and gulgs of extremely good cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil from some obscure little village in Italy. Served with warm, crusty freshly homemade bread.

Five happy food memories:
1) The first "meal" Jude and I had together- a very proper and civilized English "tea" of scones and cakes. We talked about Good Friday, chocolate bunnies and repentance. You know, fun stuff... :)
2) Every time I'm home and my sister and I cook together
3) The first time I bit into a freshly baked bagel from St-Viateur in Montreal. No bagel experience has come close since. Because no bagel has sesame seeds still barely popping as I put it in my mouth.
4) Buying the yummiest fish & chips from the Colourpatch Cafe in Augusta, Western Australia- the last eating establishment before the South Pole. We then drove to Cape Leeuwin, the exact point where the Indian Ocean meets the Southern Ocean, and ate the fish & chips in the car because it was pouring outside. That always makes me smile :)
5) The potluck housewarming party we had here in 2004 when almost every single one of our friends here in Ann Arbor turned up at various points of the night. Everyone had a great time, even if cramming 35- 40 people into our tiny apartment was a potential fire hazard.

On a related note, Jude and I are off to Chicago for winter break tomorrow, and of all the fortuitous things that could happen to us, it's Chicago Restaurant Week! A whole slew of great Chicago restaurants are offering a special 3-course prixe fixe meals for both lunch and dinner and we've already made reservations at two :) Dinner tomorrow's at one sixtyblue, apparently a really nice little place to go to for modern French food just outside of Chicago's downtown, and lunch on Thursday is Brazilian churrascaria at Fogo de Chão. Apart from the great reviews I've heard about the restaurant, this meal is going to be particularly special coz we're meeting up with an old friend of mine from secondary school, Diane, who moved to Canada when we graduated. The last time I saw her was at the airport in 1992 when I saw her off, so it's been 15 years and I really can't wait to see her again! :)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Finally!

I don't often gloat, really, I don't. But indulge me, because I ROCK! If I were in an Oscars office pool, I would have made a tidy sum (of course, working in an actual office might help, but that's a different story...) I don't think I've ever predicted so many winners before :) For the first time in a long time, I think the most deserving nominees finally won, and even the ones I missed, I didn't mind as much because either 1) they weren't in categories I would have expected myself to discerningly predict correctly to begin with (Animated Short Film??); or 2) someone equally deserving won instead (I really really like Tilda Swinton, although sadly, the woman looked like she was wearing a trash bag tonight..)

Performance by an actor in a leading role
Prediction: Daniel Day-Lewis - THERE WILL BE BLOOD
Winner: Daniel Day-Lewis - THERE WILL BE BLOOD
I loved his whole gesture of being knighted by Helen Mirren :) And how about that most eloquently delivered acceptance speech? The man sure has a way with words...

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Prediction: Javier Bardem - NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
Winner: Javier Bardem - NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
We managed to watch the movie yesterday and man, does this man deserve to win. A cross between Fester Addams and a Beatles gone wrong, his Anton Chigurh was downright terrifying to watch. The scene at the gas station literally had me gnashing my teeth in pure fear...

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Prediction: Marion Cotillard, LA VIE EN ROSE
Winner: Marion Cotillard, LA VIE EN ROSE

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Prediction: Cate Blanchett - I'M NOT THERE
Winner: Tilda Swinton- MICHAEL CLAYTON
This was a prediction I honestly didn't mind not getting right. I've always liked Tilda Swinton, either as the malevolently frosty White Witch in the Chronicles of Narnia or the twisted Angel Gabriel in Constantine. She made androgyny alluring (although again, what was with that trash bag??)

Best animated feature film of the year
Prediction: RATATOUILLE
Winner: RATATOUILLE

Achievement in art direction
Prediction: SWEENY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET
Winner: SWEENY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET

Achievement in cinematography
Prediction: THERE WILL BE BLOOD
Winner: THERE WILL BE BLOOD
This is the only other film from this year's crop Jude and I really want to catch. Hopefully there'll be a showing we can pop into when we're in Chicago next week.

Achievement in costume design
Prediction: ATONEMENT
Winner: ELIZABETH: THE GOLDEN AGE
I should have guessed that the more lavish vehicle would win in this category. I was hoping that the Academy would have gone with something a little more classic and iconic.

Achievement in directing
Prediction: NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
Winner: NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
I had said that I couldn't wait for the Coen brothers' acceptance speech, and I was right- it was a nice one indeed :) Favorite line: "...we're very thankful to all of you out there for letting us continue to play in our corner of the sandbox, so thank you very much." Even better was watch Frances McDormand 's tears of joy and whistling at her adorably awkward/dorky husband and brother-in-law :)

Best documentary feature
Prediction: NO END IN SIGHT
Winner: TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE

Best documentary short subject
Prediction: FREEHELD
Winner: FREEHELD

Achievement in film editing
Prediction: THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM
Winner: THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM

Best foreign language film of the year
Prediction: THE COUNTERFEITERS
Winner: THE COUNTERFEITERS

Achievement in makeup
Prediction: LA VIE EN ROSE
Winner: LA VIE EN ROSE

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
Prediction: ATONEMENT
Winner: ATONEMENT
I had written about the great shame that the There Will Be Blood soundtrack was not even nominated- my husband clearly felt the same way. When they were announcing the nominees, Jude shouted, "There Will Be Blood!!" After I gently broke it to him that it wasn't nominated, he shot me a dirty look that pretty much said, "See, I told you this whole Oscars thing is a sham..."

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
Prediction: "Falling Slowly" - ONCE
Winner: "Falling Slowly" - ONCE
Yay!!!! Yay!!! Did I say, Yay!!! The performance was just exquisite- so genuine, so incandescent, and... for lack of a better word, special. Compared to the sterile choreography and candy-colored big rah-rah song-and-dance routines of the other nominees, Hansard and Irglova shared the gift of their song in the best way they know how- with each other, their voices and the song. As you watch the clip, see how they sneak peeks at each other throughout the performance- they are so darn adorable :)



Best motion picture of the year
Prediction: NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
Winner: NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
After two consecutive years of disappointing winners, it's so satisfying to have a most deserving film win :) Jude and I have half a mind to watch it again.

Best animated short film
Prediction: I MET THE WALRUS
Winner: PETER & THE WOLF

Best live action short film
Prediction: THE TONTO WOMAN
Winner:LE MOZART DES PICKPOCKETS

Achievement in sound editing
Prediction: THERE WILL BE BLOOD
Winner: THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM

Achievement in sound mixing
Prediction: TRANSFORMERS
Winner: THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM

Achievement in visual effects
Prediction: PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END
Winner: THE GOLDEN COMPASS

Adapted screenplay
Prediction: NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
Winner: NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
Jude and I picked up Cormac McCarthy's original book at the bookstore yesterday after the movie. Stylistically very intriguing- summer reading, perhaps.

Original screenplay
Prediction: JUNO
Winner: JUNO
Diablo Cody looked visibly overwhelmed at winning- I can't imagine that she was surprised though... Did she think she wasn't going to win? Also, did anyone notice how she practically snatched the award announcement from Harrison Ford and ran off stage without even looking at him? She dissed Indy!! ;)

Make art. Make art.
-Glen Hansard, Academy Award acceptance speech 2008

Saturday, February 23, 2008

There's no business like show business...

[Copyright Reuters]

I can't believe it- for the second year in a row, I'm missing the Oscars 'live'! Over the past 13 years or so, I've never missed the Oscar telecasts if I could help it, a.k.a only when I was teaching, and last year when we were in Boston for spring break. Apart from that, when I was back home, it would either be skipping class in college and holing myself up in my best friend's dorm room for four hours on a Monday morning, or that year when I had to watch it at home, with my best friend on the phone. It's become a ritual of sorts for the two of us- until today. For the past four years, we continue to "watch" the Oscars together- via text-messaging ;) We swap our predictions beforehand and watch the telecast with our phones by our sides. We text-message throughout the ceremony, rooting for our choices, sniggering over someone's gown, or how ridiculous some of the Best Song performances are, making fun of the presenters (like the year Penelope Cruz and Salma Hayek presented the award for Best Score to Gustavo Santaolalla for Brokeback Mountain- you know they were the only two actresses in Hollywood glamorous enough to announce his name with flair and authenticity)... Honestly, at this point, I think it's become less about the show and more about us keeping this thing we have alive despite the distance between us.

I know, I know... every year I tell myself the Oscars are becoming more and more of a sham (even if I don't, my husband never fails to remind me...), from the outrage of Crash winning over Brokeback Mountain two years ago to the whole "OMG I can't believe a completely unimaginative rip-off of a seminal Hong Kong film won" tragedy of last year. But I just get excited by the Oscars- I can't help it. It's been like this since Singapore first started showing the Oscars 'live' on Monday mornings, and as much as I know it's just huge self-congratulatory posturing on Hollywood's part, I willingly and helplessly allow myself to get suckered into the whole sham. I'm weak that way... ;)

So having said that, my predictions for this year are as follows (several of my choices had to be based purely on reviews I read since this year, we just didn't have the time to watch as many of the films as we wanted):

Performance by an actor in a leading role
Daniel Day-Lewis - THERE WILL BE BLOOD
NYT's Carpetbagger put it best:
"A small thought exercise: Try to pick somebody here who did not do work worthy of the ultimate award... Now another exercise: Try to picture someone other than Mr. Day-Lewis accepting the award. The minute he pulled himself from the bowels of the earth in “There Will Be Blood” you knew he would not stop until he reached the podium at the Kodak Theater."

Performance by an actor in a supporting role
Javier Bardem - NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

Performance by an actress in a leading role
Marion Cotillard, LA VIE EN ROSE
Jude and I have seen her all flighty and sultry in Taxi and viciously mysterious in A Very Long Engagement, but who knew she could also hauntingly bring Edith Piaf alive on so many levels? La Vie En Rose came and went here in Ann Arbor but I did see clips of her performance online, and she's was simply fabulous...

Performance by an actress in a supporting role
Cate Blanchett - I'M NOT THERE
Another performance I ended up watching on YouTube. Uncanny. Eerily uncanny. That's all I can say.

Best animated feature film of the year
RATATOUILLE
Because it made me so happy :) (Although I wouldn't be at all upset if Persepolis won- that might actually revive in me the hope that the Academy's voters are becoming somehow more discerning...)

Achievement in art direction
SWEENY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET

Achievement in cinematography
THERE WILL BE BLOOD

Achievement in costume design
ATONEMENT
That emerald green dress will forever go down in Hollywood history... That and maybe the white bathing suit and cap.

Achievement in directing
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
I can't wait to hear a Coen brothers' acceptance speech!

Best documentary feature
NO END IN SIGHT
The time is ripe for this.

Best documentary short subject
FREEHELD

Achievement in film editing
THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM
I thought this was the most compelling movie of the entire franchise and for the first time in a long time, I was actually very aware of how a film's editing contributed to its overall aesthetic.

Best foreign language film of the year
THE COUNTERFEITERS

Achievement in makeup
LA VIE EN ROSE
Because Marion Cotillard's transformation was amazing.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
ATONEMENT
Suitably (and safely) evocative and haunting. Pedigree for this category. (Although it wasn't even nominated, There Will Be Blood actually comes with one kick-ass soundtrack. But I don't think the Academy is ready for Jonny Greenwood's postmodern dissonance.)

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
"Falling Slowly" - ONCE
This one was a no-brainer. (Watch the scene here- it's beautiful. And heartbreaking...) This is the one performance of the night I'm sore I'm going to miss :(

Best motion picture of the year
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
It's their time :)

Best animated short film
I MET THE WALRUS

Best live action short film
THE TONTO WOMAN

Achievement in sound editing
THERE WILL BE BLOOD
If you've listened to the soundtrack, visited the website and watched the movie (or at least clips of it), you'll understand why.

Achievement in sound mixing
TRANSFORMERS
Remember, in this category, bigger and louder always means better.

Achievement in visual effects
PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD'S END

Adapted screenplay
NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN

Original screenplay
JUNO
Really, do I have to explain this choice? OK, fine. See here.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Introducing the iBand (and the other varieties of handheld touchscreen muscial performers)



It used to be that you could rock out and form a band with 2 turntables and a microphone. Now, it's 2 jailbroken iPhones with a Nintendo DS. With a variety of musical applications coming on to handheld devices, there's been a lot of experimentation with both creating and performing music with these devices. Check out this other video that highlights a one man production studio with a variety of other touchscreen devices:



I don't have an iPhone, so I am not sure what applications are out there for muscial creation or production. However, my 2 favorite DS music applications are:

1) Electroplankton



2) Jam Session



Serene didn't believe me when I told her that the Nintendo DS could have uses beyond games ;)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

"It's our Fashion Superbowl..."

I think it's awesome that Jon Stewart's a Project Runway fan! :) Jude and I were just channel surfing as we always do when we have dinner in front of the TV, when lo and behold, we came across Comedy Central showing a re-run of The Daily Show with Tim Gunn as his guest! It was a most delightful segment- I love Project Runway (only one of three things I regularly watch on TV these days, next to No Reservations and Lost)- I think it's probably one of the few reality TV shows where the contestants are genuinely talented and where they actually make something. But most of all, I love Tim, because we should all be so lucky to have a mentor as kind but exacting as him. And for someone working in the sometimes over-the-top world of the fashion industry, I think it's wonderful how level-headed and down-to-earth he comes across as.



Tim Gunn: I'm the first to encapsulate this realistically. Nobody needs it. We need clothes, do we need fashion? No. And fashion, when it's good, comes out of a context that's societal and cultural and historic and economic and political -- so it's of a time and a place.
Jon Stewart: Why isn't everyone as reasonable as you, as a human being?

Awww, Tim... So well said. Like Jon Stewart, a sane voice speaking over the sometimes ridiculous and banal realities of our world. To see two of my favorite men on TV together last night made me a very happy girl :)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Pg 123 meme

Got this from my friend, Dark Orpheus's blog:

Pick up the nearest book of 123 pages or more.
(everything on, around, and under my table- with the exception of this week's NYT Magazine and the alarm clock- have to do with my dissertation proposal, so this isn't going to be very scintillating...) Easily the thickest book on my dissertation reading list at 714 pages (NOT intending to read the whole thing, not by next year at least...)- Robert Coles' Children of Crisis. Found it second-hand at the Harvard Book Store last year. Many of my ideas about speaking with and listening to children as a research methodology are founded on his work. His conviction that children have much to teach us and that their voices are valuable insights into our world continually inspires me.

Find Page 123.

Find the first 5 sentences.
Coles is talking to a white anti-Communist segregationist about his childhood in Louisiana and war experience in WWII, and how that influenced him to protest the admission of black children into a Catholic parochial school.

Post the next 3 sentences.
"Still, he added, the Germans would be of small help if the UN and integration took over America. He never fought, though he helped others fight. He did his service at an army camp in New Jersey, a very small distance from Manhattan's subversion, perversion- and fascination."

[I'm tagging anyone who just happens to have a random book within arm's reach that's thicker than 123 pages. Have fun!]

Sunday, February 17, 2008

"He is the cheese to my macaroni..."

If I were 15 years younger, I would run out right now and buy myself a red hoodie, a pair of tartan plaid Converse sneakers, cool striped leggings, a hamburger phone and two dozen orange Tic-Tacs. Because if I were 16, I'd want to be like Juno MacGuff (maybe not the pregnant part..)- funny in the face of crisis, mature but also childlike, gutsy yet vulnerable, brave, smart, armed with whiplash wit and an awesome taste in music.

After months of putting it off, Jude and I finally watched "Juno" today. We've been meaning to catch it since it opened (and even more after we started listening to its most delightful soundtrack, now on repeat mode...) but we've both been crazy busy and today was the first time we felt little guilt in taking some time off to catch a movie. And it was worth the wait... I was afraid that the experience would be spoiled by all the reviews I'd read and all the good things people have been telling me about it. It's one of those curses where the more someone tells you how wonderful something is, the more of a letdown you know it's going to be.

But this wasn't... If fact, it exceeded my expectations. I knew it was going to be funny, smart and quirky, but I wasn't prepared for how moving and soulful it also was. The movie makes you laugh out loud in so many scenes (there are some absolutely priceless lines like, "That ain't no Etch-a-Sketch. This is one doodle that can't be un-did, homeskillet."), but as the NYT review aptly put it, this is just the movie's way of getting you to clear your throat for the lump you’re going to find there in the last scenes. And the review was right; by the time Juno was pushing her baby out in the delivery scene and Anyone Else But You started playing the background, it took almost all I had to stop myself from bawling.

The movie's probably too Sundance-y to win the Best Picture Oscar this year, but go watch it, if for no other reason than to spend 90 minutes with a cast of characters- both main and supporting- so real, so genuine that they transcend what might appear on the surface to be just another self-consciously quirky indie flick.
In my opinion, the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you, the right person will still think the sun shines out your ass. That's the kind of person that's worth sticking with.
-Mac MacGuff (J.K. Simmons)

Friday, February 15, 2008

What I found on my study table this morning...

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!!

From xkcd.com.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Yes We Can


Thanks to Beryl for sending this on :) One of the most inspiring speeches I've heard, this definitely ranks up there with MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech and JFK's Inaugural Address. Politics aside, these are powerful words- stirring, evocative and deeply compelling. Like all great speeches, this one rings with passion, great faith, hope, and a vision of humanity that is greater, grander, and purer than the sum of individuals.

For a full transcript of the speech, see here.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Year of the Rat

A quick post to wish one and all a very happy Lunar New Year - 新年快乐, 身体健康! Also, it's a pretty significant year for me as it's the year of the Rat in the lunar zodiac cycle. The Rat starts yet another 12 year cycle and highlights my 36th year of existence... :)

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Ode to an old water bottle


Old water bottle
Originally uploaded by ghetto of our mind.
I've blogged about many things, but I never thought that I'd one day blog about a water bottle. It's strange to get sentimental over a water bottle, but for some reason, I am. A couple of friends gave me my old water bottle for my birthday more than ten years ago, way before carrying these SIGG water bottles was fashionable. I always felt like such a trend-setter because no one was carrying these metal water bottles around yet. It also felt a little indulgent then to have a water bottle that cost more than $20 but I loved it and loved the attention it got for looking like a flask of liquid nitrogen... :)

The bottle was with me during the last years of college, through my four years as a teacher, accompanied me to Hong Kong, Montreal, Australia, and has been with me all through the past five years here. Touted as "The Word's Toughest Water Bottle", the bottle has nonetheless taken many hits over the years. Because it is so well made, I probably haven't been as good with taking care of it as I should have, allowing it to fall off tables, knocking against walls, dropping it on floors... And you can see, super aluminum or not, ten years is a long time and the bottle is looking much worse for wear. There are more than a few dents all round, the paint on the outside has chipped and peeled off, and the entire area around the mouth of the bottle has been stripped bare of its coating. And I've lost count of the number of times in recent years people have mentioned how ghetto my bottle is looking. So when the chance came up today to buy a new SIGG water bottle from a friend at a discount, I figured I should just do it.

But then, I felt bad after... I probably won't use the old one anymore (the fact that the coating is all gone is probably a sanitary concern...), but I'm having a hard time even thinking of throwing it away. I can't really say why... It's like I'm having some kind of weird separation anxiety. Maybe because it's rare to have something stay with you that long, however innocuous it is. So often these days we mindlessly buy something only to dispose of not long after, that perhaps my affection for and attachment to a beat-up water bottle is a sign of needing to value something not just for its utility but for the memories behind it, and just the sheer sentimental value of it.

Do you have something you just can't bring yourself to throw away?

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Banoffee Pie?

Juliet: Banoffee pie?
Mark: No, thanks.
Juliet: Thank God. You would've broken my heart if you'd said yes.
Mark: Oh, right, well, lucky you.

- from Love Actually

From one of my favorite (and one of the saddest) scenes from the movie. I won't go into detail about it (because really, do you need to be reminded one more time how much I adore this movie? My husband sure doesn't...) But I bring it up because the pie in question successfully revived my dessert self-confidence after my clementine clafoutis disappointment.

Thanks to my best friend's scrumptious recipe, I made a banoffee pie last night for a birthday party. It's an English dessert made from bananas, whipped cream and boiled condensed milk (hence "banana" and "toffee"), either on a pastry base or one made from crumbled graham cracker/ digestive biscuits, and butter. Aside from having to boil the unopened cans of sweetened condensed milk for 4 hours, this is a cinch to assemble, with no baking whatsoever involved. As the cans of milk heat up, the sugar in it caramelizes, and you end up with the most delightfully milky, gooey toffee ever! The original recipe is a little more involved, requiring you to make your own pastry base but I just made a graham cracker crust. Apart from the very vital ingredient of the condensed milk-turned-toffee, flavoring your whipped cream with coffee is also key.

Sweet, rich, gooey, and a little "fluffy" from the whipped cream, this is not a dessert for the faint-hearted or you calorie-counters out there. But it is oh so blissfully delicious. So the next time you need that little (ok, not so little) something to indulge in or just to remind yourself of one of Serene's favorite movies, do remember this brilliantly decadent British import... :)

1. Boiling sweetened condensed milk to make toffee, 2. After 4 hours, 3. Thick, gooey and delicious!, 4. Banana layer, 5. Banoffee Pie- all assembled, 6. Fast disappearing...

Ingredients:
3 cups crushed graham crackers
1 stick butter, melted
2 cans of sweetened condensed milk
7 large bananas
1 pint whipping cream
1 tsp powdered sugar
2 tsp instant coffee powder (or granules ground into powder)
Cocoa powder

Directions:
Toffee
(you can do this in advance and store the boiled cans of toffee almost indefinitely):
1) Boil unopened cans of condensed milk in a pot for 4 hours, making sure that it is always submerged. Top up water as necessary.
2) If using immediately, make sure you are careful when opening the can as pressure/steam will be released.
3) Empty toffee into a bowl and mix well to achieve uniform consistency. It should be thick and gooey.

Crust:
1) Mix graham cracker crumbs with melted butter.
2) Press into base of 10 x 15 glass baking dish.
3) Chill for at least an hour

Whipped cream
(make sure your bowl and whisk are chilled before whipping. This helps the whipping process enormously):
1) Whip heavy cream till soft peaks.
2) Add coffee powder and powdered sugar
3) Continue whipping till you get barely stiff peaks. (Don't over-whip or you'll get butter...)

Assembly:
1) Spread toffee on graham cracker base.
2) Cut bananas into rounds and layer on toffee.
3) Top with whip cream
4) Sprinkle with cocoa powder.

Serves 8-10 (or 2, depending on your mood and threshold for sugar...)

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Video of the week - Les Savy Fav's "Paty Lee" live on Conan O'Brien



Who knew that the musical guests on late night talk shows could be so exciting. And if any of Les Savy Fav's live performances are anything like this, I am going to make it a point to catch them soon. Tim Harrington, the band's frontman, apparently has quite a reputation for showmanship. His crazed performance in this video somewhat reminds me of a younger Frank Black in his heydays with the Pixies!

Orange royalty


Blood orange
Originally uploaded by ghetto of our mind.
Inspired by Wendy's lovely picture here, and an alluring blog post by Elise of Simply Recipes, I picked up a couple of blood oranges while at the store yesterday. From the outside, these oranges look fairly regular- they're actually kind of small; but when you cut into them, they're anything but. Instead of the familiar orange, you are rewarded with a deep intense garnet red that's all the more stunning set against the white pith and orange skin... And not to mention the literally blood-colored juices that wonderfully stain your fingers...

And the flavor is a whole other story altogether. I didn't know what I was expecting, but any kind of orange should at least taste like an orange right? Right, but also so much more. Blood oranges taste almost like berries, but juicer, way juicer. Every segment was like a little explosion of intense citrusy berriness (now I'm just making words up...) I can't really describe it, but it was both interestingly complex, but also so refreshing...

I think I'm in love... :)