Month: October 2016

Bridalplasty saved my wedding.

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Bridalplasty. If you haven’t seen this show yet, and you love trashy television, stop everything you are doing. Buy season one on iTunes, watch all ten hours of it, and then cry because there isn’t a second season. Well, it’s probably best that Bridalplasty wasn’t given a second season, because it is pure gilded trash.

At the height of the reality TV show golden age, when the producers were drunk on power, some evil genius pitched this beautiful train wreck. It has everything.

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Reality TV star with waning popularity as host: CHECK.
Brides, doing bridal things: yup.
Body shaming, immediately fixed by a creepy plastic surgeon: 100%
GORY SURGERY FOOTAGE: YAAAAS
Negative portrayal of women: Absolutely.

I rage watched this show the first time I tried to plan my wedding. It was everything I needed to feel ok about not wanting anything remotely traditional about my “special day.” Before I finished the show, I felt like I had to comply with tradition. I thought I needed to have a bridal party, and a theme, and care about what plates the food was going to be served on. I even convinced myself to go wedding dress shopping.

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Dream come true.

It did not end in happy tears. The dresses I wanted weren’t “bridal enough,” they weren’t floor length, and I refused to try on veils. I felt like I was disappointing everyone around me because this was something that I just did not enjoy. Brides magazine was mysteriously sent to my house (I still don’t know why, I never subscribed), and I would last maybe five minutes before I started to angry cry. My fiancée would come home, see the magazine, and just know that he was going to spend the next hour listening to a tirade on the atrocities of capitalism. Eventually, I decided to stop planning my wedding all together.

We did not break off the engagement, or decide not to have a wedding. I just decided to stop planning it. I could not have a positive experience with the process. I didn’t want to be a princess, and I definitely did not want to be the center of attention. I wanted to continue living my life with my partner, just as we had been doing for the last eight years. In my mind,  our “marriage” started long before we even got engaged. Every celebration, every milestone, every argument, every difficult conversation, every time we decided to stay, those were our vows to one another.

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LIPOSUCTION OF KNEE, JUST ONE?!?

So, instead of planning a wedding, I watched a reality show where women compete for plastic surgery and a “celebrity” wedding. Each challenge winner chooses from her wish list of procedures, and is granted a full two weeks of immunity. You know, because she was recovering from major surgery. The bride who was voted out of the house is sent on her way by Travis Barker’s ex-wife, who would muster up her best condescending face and say “Your wedding will still go on, it just may not be perfect.”

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Exec. Producer, Giuliana Rancic.

What! Why? Imperfect because of that tummy-tuck you really should’ve had before the wedding? Imperfect because you don’t get to have the same florist as Giuliana Rancic? Every frustration I had about the wedding industrial complex, I was able to hurl at the TV. I was able to watch the distilled absurdity of wedding planning. I finally felt like I was justified; I no longer had to pretend to be excited.

Eventually we went on with it, but in a way that I felt comfortable with. I cut all my hair off, even though people told me I should wait until after the wedding. I bought my dress online without consulting anyone. I handed over decoration and food planning to my grandmother (she was a saint for listening when I said “no” to everything remotely wedding like).  We got a friend to officiate. We didn’t rehearse our ceremony. There were no first dances. It wasn’t “perfect” by Bridalplasty standards, but it was great.

So thank you, Bridalplasty, you gorgeous abomination.

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Glamorous.

 

Vous êtes américaine?

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Musée D’Orsay

“Trump or Hillary?” I get asked this question as soon as someone realizes that I am an American. Uber drivers, fellow beer drinkers, the maintenance guy in my building, all of them. I smile after they ask, trying not to let it morph into a cringe. Then, we bumble through a conversation of broken French and (less-broken) English. There are a lot of shoulder shrugs, and “Je ne sais pas.” Inevitably, I begin to feel ashamed of the farce of democracy that has been playing out on the American stage for the better part of the last two years.

Let’s pause for a moment and think about that. Two. Fucking. Years. At least during the Democrat’s primary season, there was some substantive debate about policy. The Republicans tried, but eventually their message descended into “Dumpster Fire America, 2016.” I am not going to pretend like I am unbiased, I am a self-proclaimed socialist, but even the most die-hard conservatives must be disappointed in how this race has turned out.

We have given the candidates two years to explain why they are qualified for the highest office in the country and, arguably, the world. We have given them two years to flesh out their plans to improve international relations, the economy, and the lives of Americans. Yet, after the debates, I’m still not sure if I know where the candidates stand on any of the issues.

This is disappointing for all of us. We should be in mourning over the loss of the political process. When the first official presidential debate aired in 1960, the main purpose was to inform the electorate of the candidates’ positions. It was to give candidates the opportunity to go up against their opponents and give the American voters a clear idea of who they were voting into office. In other words, it was supposed to be a debate, one with questions and actual answers. A debate we deserve after enduring the last two years of campaigning. We deserve to have candidates that are prepared, and ready to talk about their plans for America. We do not deserve to have have one candidate talk over the other, and rob us of the political process.

This is the insidiousness of Trump’s candidacy. He shows up and preys on the anxieties that a decade of Republican fear mongering has created. He shows his supporters that he doesn’t have to respect the political process, because he is above it. He shows them that he doesn’t have to respect the American people, because he is above them, and they eat it up.

I may not completely agree with Clinton, but I am upset for her. She is a woman who has devoted her life to public policy, and thus opened herself up to the world that is, frankly, unkind to ambitious women. She is highly educated and qualified (if somewhat untrustworthy, but it’s a mistake to fully trust politicians), and her opponent is a misogynist, racist, xenophobe, whose greatest accomplishment is building an empire devoted to his own narcissism.

So, I get asked “Trump or Hillary?” and I want to scream. I want to say “Our process is more than this!” I want to wax poetic about political philosophy. I want to explain that American politics just made some questionable decisions in the 80’s, like all the good Boomers. I want to be proud that a woman is running for president, and not have that overshadowed by another puffy old white dude. Unfortunately, there is never quite enough time for that, so I go on my way and try to pretend that American politics is actually made of the things in Aaron Sorkin’s dreams.

Winter is Coming, so make some Bone Broth

 

Archie, begging for trash soup.

As many of you may have noticed from my overreaction to the cold a couple of weeks ago, temperatures are dropping in Paris.

I honestly have no concept of how winter works. Los Angeles winters are when everyone breaks out their sweaters, but have to take them off by noon because it is too hot. Sandals are still an acceptable footwear option. Scarves and hats are accessories, and puffy jackets are too hideous to be considered.

I broke out the puffy jacket. I didn’t care that it was shapeless and transformed me into a human marshmallow. I put it on and realized that it is the warmest thing I own, and there are about 6 more months of cold weather to come. Now is not the time for vanity.

My solution to this is to make bone broth. The glorious trash soup that hipsters will pay a stupid amount of money for.

The recipe for bone broth might as well be pour water over trash and herbs, bring to a simmer and forget about it. This may not sound appetizing, but it is delicious.

Now would also be a good time to fess up and admit that I make my dog’s food. This involves skinning and boiling 2 chickens, and then adding veggies, rice and lentils. It also means that I have a lot of chicken carcasses that I am loathe to throw away without using them first.

So, after I have stripped the chicken from the bones, I roast them and boil them with the skin from the chicken, vegetable scraps, herbs and a few spices. It is by no means glamorous, but bone broth shouldn’t be.

You can always go out and buy the ingredients for your broth, but I find it best to save up scraps from the week (either in the freezer, or in the fridge). This way you are saving money, and cutting back on food waste.

Also, don’t feel like you have to drink the broth straight. The flavor can be a little overwhelming, but it can also be used like a broth concentrate. If I am cooking anything that calls for chicken broth, I simply dilute my bone broth with water, the flavor is far superior to anything store bought.

Bone Broth Recipe

Bones from 2 chickens (skin too, if you have it)
Vegetable scraps (or whole vegetables)
-Carrot peels
-Onion  and garlic skins (I used some leftover leeks for this batch)
-Celery leaves
-Parsley stems
2 Bay leafs
3 sprigs fresh thyme or rosemary
10 peppercorns
2 tbs vinegar of your choice
Salt to taste

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Place your bones on a foil lined tray. I generally don’t boil my bones first because they are coming from boiled chicken, but if you are using raw bones, boil them first. Put tray in the oven, for 15 min.
  3. turn the bones over and roast until they are a nice golden brown. I usually check every 5 minutes.
  4. Place the bones in a large stock pot, along with the rest of the ingredients. Cover with water, and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce to a simmer, and let simmer for up to 12 hours. Your broth should congeal when it is cold.

Enjoy!

 

Nectarine Hand Pies

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The produce in France is incredible. The outdoor markets are lined with stalls of vibrant fruits and vegetables that taste the way they actually should. My problem is that I speak French like a five year old.

In the states, I can browse the farmer’s market for hours. I’ll make a minimum of three passes, carefully assessing the stands, and when I’m finally ready, I know exactly how to ask for what I want. It’s all a little harder in French. Now, I browse these gorgeous markets, but instead of focusing on the bounty in front of me, I am anxiously trying to filter between the three languages in my brain.

Try to speak three languages, its like having a world war in your brain every time you try to access a word. The other day, the sentence ,”Je trabajé en una cocina y necessité hablar español, ahora estoy en un ecole y necessito hablar français,” actually came out of my mouth when I tried to speak Spanish to the guy at the half-way decent Mexican restaurant. It’s a struggle, be nicer to people who try and speak multiple languages.

You can imagine the amount of courage it took to finally ask the vendor for “Quatre nectarines jaunes,” and to specify that I wanted them,”pas trop mûrs, s’il vous plait.” To my delight, he understood what I wanted, and since he didn’t have four slightly unripe nectarines, and it was the end of the day, he gave me extras for free!

These nectarines were originally intended for snacking and to be put over my morning yogurt, but I was suddenly faced with a bag of ripe nectarines that I had to use before they became mush. So obviously, I bought some beautiful figs and decided to make some pie.

Recipe

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Ingredients:

Enough pâté brisée for a double crusted 9″ pie
5-6 slightly ripe, yellow nectarines, cut into 1″ pieces
5-6 mission figs (or your preferred type), cut into 8ths
3/4 c white sugar
1/4 c instant tapioca (or 3 tbs cornstarch)
3tbs honey
2tbs balsamic vinegar
dash salt
dash cinnamon
egg yolk for egg wash
turbinado sugar for dusting
3 tbs butter, cut into small pieces

I will post a tutorial for pie crust soon, but this is a great recipe. Divide your dough into 8 disks before chilling.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Cut nectarines and figs and place in a large bowl, set aside
  3. Mix sugar, instant tapioca (or cornstarch), salt and cinnamon together, set aside.
  4. Mix honey and balsamic vinegar, set aside
  5. Toss fruit with the sugar mixture, and then add the honey-balsamic mixture until evenly coated. Be careful, you don’t want to break up the figs. Allow to rest for 20 minutes.
  6. Beat egg yolk with 1/2 c water to make egg wash, set aside.
  7. Roll pie crust disks out on a lightly floured surface to 6″ and place 1/4c of filling in the middle, leaving at least 1″ of pastry around the sides.
  8. Brush clean space with egg wash, and place a piece of butter on top of the filling.
  9. Carefully fold up the sides of the pastry around the fruit. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle turbinado sugar on top.
  10. Carefully transfer pastries to the baking sheet, leaving 3″ between each pastry. Refrigerate for 20 minutes
  11. Place trays in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. Allow to cool for 30 minutes before serving.

You can leave these at room temp for 1-2 days, or in the refrigerator for one week. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream. Also, totally acceptable breakfast option, because fruit, and things.

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Winter is for other people.

I put on socks this morning,
I only own three pairs.
It’s only October,
but Winter might be here.

The season I only heard whispers of,
through the myths of my father’s childhood.

Visions of picturesque landscapes blanketed in white,
Bundles of clothing that claim to have people inside,
Breath escaping from them, as proof.

My winters were flip-flops,
the occasional scarf,
Beaches finally empty and serene.

I think this might be different here
freezing might be real,
instead of hyperbole.

Winter was for other people,
or so I had always thought,
But, as I put on socks this morning,
I realized Winter might be for me too.

Fuck.