The Politics of Pumpkin

img_5487

*Also published on Medium*

Like hipsters and basic bitches, pumpkin spice- along with all of it’s fame and criticisms- has fallen by the wayside in most circles. We have moved on to other targets- meninists and vaporwavers, cold brew and kombucha, the over-hyped subcultures and trends that we either love to hate or fully latch on to.

But these days, what goes around comes back around quicker than ever. A trend barely has time to die or be banished by society before it is being picked back up by the next generation or being reclaimed by the exact people who shunned it in the first place.

I can’t tell which of these is the reason why pumpkin (spice) donuts ended up on my plate last Thursday morning in the faraway land of Melbourne, Australia. A land where pumpkins come from a vine, not a can, and almost no one mutilates them into spooky faces. They are a different, much sweeter variety here. Yet strangely, they can be found atop savoury dishes like burgers and pizzas- not laced into coffees or poured into pie shells.

…With the exception, that is, of the five Starbucks still surviving in Melbourne’s Central Business District (all within six blocks or less of each other, mind you). These coffee chains are frequented by nostalgic ex-pats and Asian tourists and do, come September, serve up the infamous PSL (as any Starbucks must).

But SBX aside, pumpkin spice has not really taken hold of the Aussie food scene (yet). Which is why I was surprised to see sweet pumpkin anythinggrace the menu of a local cafe. But I had to get it, because who am I to stifle my inner basic bitch when it’s fall in the States, goddamnit?

(Please keep in mind- I do observe the indigenous origins of both “pumpkin” and “spice”, as well as my privilege as a (mostly) white cis(mostly)het who has the financial means to purchase readily available commercial pumpkin products. In no way do I mean to appropriate these foods that existed for years in the diets of those who were colonised at the hands of my *potential* ancestors.)

I think personally, I err on the side of pumpkin spice reclamation rather than second-time-around appeal. I’ve had my fair share of PSL’s over the years, I’ve mocked them, and here I am, back on the big orange train.

This seasonal favourite has been around since 2003. (2003!!) Although, Starbucks didn’t introduce the drink to Oz until this year?! So I guess everyone else is smitten with first-timers’ bliss (or perhaps yet to even jump on the tractor).

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Despite Melbourne’s progression towards a globally-recognised cultural hub, they do lag a bit in adoption of certain fads.

Not that this is bad- in fact, it may be what makes the city so special. They are a community that does their own thing. Lots of artists and businesses here are happy to start their own trends or abstain from the popularity hierarchy completely. Many Melburnians favour small, independent companies over corporate chains. They don’t have a specific style. Their unique fashion fusion is their style. They reject norms and conventions.

(Except for Uggs, but they’re mostly seen as bedroom slippers, so give them a break).

Australia- and Melbourne specifically- is a cool place because it doesn’t blindly embrace all that’s labeled as “cool”. Rather, it relishes in it’s defiance of the status quo.

Although… aren’t such “rebellions” and “eccentricities” just trends within themselves? So really, if the whole city is rooted in an identity of alternative culture, they are really just conforming to the current trends now taking hold of youth all around the world? Because alternative culture is becoming trendy, and the mainstream is embracing what was once fringe, and who is to even say who/what is alt and who/what is mainstream anymore, and isn’t “alternative” just our grandma’s backhanded way of saying that she hates our new facial piercing and prefers us to date within our race?!?

Which is why we need to combat that dominating trend, and reclaim the mainstream. The basic. The pumpkin spice and mall stores and 9–5 jobs and top 40. Hence my breakfast choice last Thursday morning.

But anyway, my donuts we’re pretty good. Brb, gonna go grab some Starbucks.

Undisclosed Brunswick Burger Joint: A Review

c700x420

Image via Groupon Australia

What do you do on a Wednesday night in Melbourne when you’re looking to get a bit “buzzed”, as they say, and eat a decent meal, yet don’t want to spend an arm and a leg for a soggy eggplant parma and pint at your sad little local?

You turn to the dregs of the internet- of course- where a thrifty food voucher is a quick Google search away. Where to look first? Living Social? Groupon? Trademark-infringment-worthy Scoopon? (Perhaps if it were spelt Scoupon, a lawsuit would have been more eminent.)

I tend to get third-party sites (ahem, All The Deals) to do the dirty work for me, filtering through, quite literally, all the deals until I find one that meets my own unique needs and interests. (Cheap, conveniently located, veggie-friendly, etc.)

On this fine night, I landed on a Groupon voucher for two burgers + chips and two pints of beer for $25. Seems like quite the steal, doesn’t it? And it was a quick walk away, centrally located on Sydney Road in Brunswick, so- like a feral feline eager for sustenance-  I pounced. Groupon bought, iPhone in hand with the QR code ready to go.

The place was quiet- suspiciously quiet- for a place that boasted $10 jugs and a free drink with every burger. But unsuspecting little me and my dining partner were already in too deep- there was no turning back at this point. We ordered a jug of cider and grabbed a seat.

Let’s take a brief intermission to discuss the decor. A bit kitsch, which I am a sucker for. Vintage, wooden doors and a life size cutout of a chap in a top hat adorning the wall. Interior aluminium panelling, local beer signage throughout, bicycle hanging from the ceiling and a tree planted smack dab in the middle of table. Charming.

To complete the old-school, grungy aesthetic, there was a mouse- just one, small and quick- who scurried out of the toilet and behind a large booth just as I took a seat. It was as if I was transported to another time (say, early-century Paris?), where rodents scamper through kitchens unabashedly, seasoning soup and flambéing high-quality proteins as they go. I knew this was a good sign of things to come.

We sipped our nameless, house beer while we anxiously awaited our food and the return of our furry friend. At one point, I excused myself to the bathroom, which featured a quirky, peep-hole door (no lock!) and heaps of spare tiles and rubbish in the corner. It was exciting to think that at any minute, someone could burst in and catch me trying to make use of the single ply of toilet paper left on the roll.

To my dismay, given the haunting emptiness of the place, there was no such luck.

Speaking of fellow diners- they were are fellows. Well, two, to be exact. Heavy-lidded and stumbling, they sure seemed to be enjoying themselves. It’s always nice to dine in a venue where other patrons appear satisfied.

When I got back from my bathroom break, the burgers had arrived. Brunswick is an alternative place, so one would expect that any dining institution in the area should and would embrace this spirit- as this place definitely did.

They defied all norms for a truly unique dining experience. For instance: Why serve a burger warm or even hot when you can serve it straight-up icy? So nouveau! My dining partner’s meat patty came out cold to the touch, and quite small compared to the starch-white bun that it sat on. It was an interesting play on the size-dynamics that are currently ever-present in our current social and political system. Well done on the restaurant’s part for encouraging such discourse.

I ordered a veggie burger, of course, composed of a pumpkin and bean patty with tzatziki and cheddar. But the restaurant staff must of known that I have an easier time digesting yoghurt than cheese, because the latter was left off. Props to them, my intestines thank thee.

The creamy sauce was an appropriate accompaniment to the patty, which tasted like the inside of an actual halloween pumpkin. No false advertising here! A sliver of iceberg lettuce added a bit of crunch without any unnecessary nutritional value, because who wants that when they order a burger?

There was also some sort of other, mystery sauce on my dish, which had halfway dripped down the side and then frozen in place, like a gooey stalactite. It became obvious that the chef went above and beyond to make their dishes as visually captivating as they were tasty.

I am not the most graceful burger-eater, so I cut up my sammie and added a bit of lightly salted chip to each bite. Soft pumpkin mush + white bread mush + not-too-crispy potato mush = a real flavour explosion in my mouth.

To top off the meal, my dining partner and I savoured the last drops of our cider. (Well, not quite the last, as we are not lushes and wanted to avoid coming off as gluttonous). According to him, it had an interesting, savoury aroma that is not typically present in traditional ciders. He described a dark musk, both on the nose and the palate.

As we walked towards the front counter to pay, the cook rushed to the register to bid us adieu and accept our gratitude in the form of some crumpled five dollar notes. I would have shaken his free hand if he had not still had his grease-stained cooking glove on.

As my dining partner and I headed out into the brisk, early spring night, with our stomachs full of bleached flour, canola oil and beer bubbles, I wondered how this place had stuck around for so long without garnering any more attention than it has.

But I guess that’s just Brunswick for you- the best of the best, the worst of the worst, the hidden gems and hidden disasters and everything in between, all in one suburb.

Will I be returning to the unnamed Brunswick burger joint? Well… I tend to never dine anywhere more than once, so I’m sure you can form your own deductions.

quincy

 

 

 

 

 

Five Podcasts to Pique Your Interest

Podcasts today are like blogs were ten to fifteen years ago. They began as media channels for the fringes and perhaps even the marginalized. They had a limited appeal, as they were difficult to get a hold or required some digging around for anything worthwhile. They existed more so as personal projects than widespread entertainment.

1_123125_2121330_110520_dailypodcast_tn.jpg.CROP.original-original

Image via Slate

But soon enough, they gained traction as media consumers were drawn to their old-school appeal and functionality. Podcasts are the new radio, but- dare I say- better? They’re portable and streamable. They can be catered to your interests. They offer bite-sized chunks of information at a rate you can customize. Play half on your way to work. Don’t like it? Easy, just delete the cast and find another. Fast forward through drawn out dialogue or irrelevant rambling (if you want, although I think that’s part of the fun.) Podcasts- even more than blogs- are in the hands of the consumer.

For a little over a decade, podcasts have been working their way into the contemporary mainstream. In 2014, the popularity of Serial forced podcasts into the public eye, but they are still overlooked by many who think they are one-dimensional or favor audiovisual entertainment.

You can’t compare podcasts to television, really, nor radio for that matter. But you can appreciate them in their own right. For their often DIY ethos, their niche categorization, their relatively loose rules regarding censorship and their ability to connect with listeners in a way that not many other forms of media can.

If podcasts are akin to a chat with friends, then here are a few of my favorite conversations. No matter your interest, there is surely a cast you can connect with.

For the girl’s girl –Lady to Lady

lady_to_lady_podcast_main.jpg

Image via Paste Magazine

This podcast follows three funny ladies (plus one weekly guest) as they discuss life, love, drugs, pop culture and whatever else happens to pop into their minds. If you enjoy listening to others’ stream of consciousness babble, then this one’s for you. Seriously though, you’ve gotta just go and listen to Lady to Lady because it’s a lot better than I’m making it out to be. In all honesty, I didn’t love it at first. I thought the hosts were vain and stupid (sorry). But truth be told, they’re actually really smart, strong, insightful women whose guests fall in that same category. Lady to Lady is like brunch with *certain* friends: it’s mindless and gossipy but may also challenge your perspective, and will definitely make you laugh.

For the struggling artist- Creative Pep Talk

Andy is the illustrator behind many well-known graphics for clients including Google, Converse and Nickelodeon, just to name a few. Don’t worry, he’s not here to spout off some self-help bullshit or sell you e-books. He genuinely has an interest in living and promoting an authentically creative lifestyle. (I’m judging myself for writing that in earnest, but w/e.) Andy’s the real deal. He’ll teach you how to set yourself apart, find time and energy for your underlying interests, reject anxious thoughts of not being good enough to try/succeed… And you’ll meet some pretty cool people in the field along the way. 

For the curious George –Baby Geniuses

_1380414208_cover

Image via babygeniusespodcast.tumblr.com

Another one from Max Fun, Baby Geniuses is hosted by comedian Emily Heller and cartoonist (of Bojack fucking Horseman) Lisa Hanawalt. The show is an interesting mix of fun facts, both educational and amusing. You can look forward to segments such as “Chunch Chat” (all about Martha Stewart’s pony, Ben Chunch) and “Wiki of the Week” (where random wiki pages are pulled from the dredges of the Internet and assessed by the hosts). They love any niche subculture or nugget of undisclosed information that you didn’t know was relevant until you hear it through your headphones, then can’t stop thinking about. (Say, for instance, the phenomenon of “anti-Barney humor”.) This cast never gets old, with a rotating roster of quirky guests and even quirkier stories.

For the spirituality-seeking skeptic- That’s So Retrograde

I’ve gotta start with a disclaimer that I actually… sort of… get bored with this podcast sometimes because I’m like “been there, done that ladies”. Like, “kombucha was so 2010, why are we still talking about it?” But then I instantly check myself and thank goddess for this podcast because, although topics at hand sometimes seem a bit outdated, they go into more depth than I would probably reach on my own. I’m talking everything you’ve ever wanted to know about flower essences, flotation tanks and planet alignment. Each segment has a different topic picked from the world of health and wellness and broadcast from LA (but of course). The hosts, Elizabeth Kott and Stephanie Simbari enjoy green juice and meditation but also whiskey and weed, fully embracing both yin and yang elements in their lives. They provide an insightful look at what you can do for a bit of a health boost without losing friends or fun in the process. 

For the chronic dieter- The Fuck It Diet

The-Fuck-It-Diet-2

Image via the Fuck It Diet

Yes, this one is also hosted by a comedian. (Really, what podcast isn’t?) But Caroline Dooner is more than that. She also acts, sings and teaches rigid food obsessives how to fuck rules and restriction around their eating behavior. Like what the hell, eat whatever you want in whatever amount you want and why do we have all these rules and where did they come from and how privileged are we to even question what’s in our food or whether we’re eating the perfect amount or whether anyone else gives a shit? Caroline explores all this plus more and is a serious influence in my battle against ED behavior. So give her and her wonderfully rebellious, anti-diet guests and her post-interview sing-alongs a listen.

I’m always on the metaphorical hunt for some captivating new casts, so don’t hesitate to throw me some suggestions. What are your current favorites?

Comment here or shout out on Twitter @QuincyLeuhh

quincy

 

 

Review: B&H Dairy, oldest vegetarian restaurant in US

A pendulum has swung in my world. While I once valued whole foods and a stringent (read: obsessive and restrictive) adherence to “clean” eating, I now wistfully cherish the comfort foods and cultural classics that I denied myself for so long.

I still believe in nourishing my body to feel and function my best, but I also feel that this can include items that feed the mind and soul just as much as those that simply sustain the physical self. Several months ago, on a trek through Asia, I decided to (more or less) abandon my existing food rules in favour of Taiwanese street snacks and sweet, steaming mugs of Hong Kong-style milk tea that allowed me to taste these country’s cultures.

Since then, I’ve grown less and less rigid with the way I eat- something that I actually never thought would happen. If you asked me a few years, or even months, ago, I would have said that my disordered eating would be a lifelong challenge. While this may still be true, I am seeing myself slowly regress back to a childlike state of curiosity and ease when it comes to food and eating.

When I was young, I was a fearless eater- willing to try just about anything and everything. Brussel sprouts, capers, escargot- things other kids wouldn’t go near.

I’m almost back to that same willingness (save meat, which I will never consume again if I can help it). I’m also learning to eat intuitively- not just in relation to my own body, but- perhaps more importantly- in tune with others according to the social dynamics of the group. (More on this coming soon).

That was a long lead-in to today’s post, which is a review of B&H Dairy in the East Village. The quaint diner-style restaurant is allegedly the county’s “oldest vegetarian joint” (although it is actually mostly vegetarian, as it serves some fish). The restaurant is also entirely kosher, serving up Jewish and Easter European cuisine like borscht, kasha and of course, fresh-baked challah bread.

B&H is the kind of place where you are transported in time, place and mind. For a split second, you become blissfully unaware of the horrors of white flour and sugar and fried foods… Instead you focus on the delightful sponginess of your challah, served up on a tiny Dixie plate. (You also notice the staff’s corresponding shirts, “Challah! Por favor”.)

IMG_2753

Coffee and complimentary challah to start the meal

The restaurant can get quite cramped when it fills up, but the stellar service (quick and friendly) and tasty food make up for it. The vibe is very hole-in-the-wall, but in a charming way, like you are back in old-school Manhattan grabbing a hearty breakfast before you commute to your office job.

At B&H, low-fat and sugar-free are non-existent. You will take your coffee with cream and  your bread with butter and you will like it, because it’s damn delicious that way (and just how God intended, no?) And we haven’t even gotten to the main meal yet.

IMG_2754

Cheese blintze with sweet cream

I had trouble deciding what to order off of the extensive menu, but was sure that I needed one of B&H’s infamous blintzes. I settled on cheese- not too sweet with the perfect balance of crispy (fried!) exterior and soft, cool filling. The thing was so rich, I probably would have been fine with it as my only order. But I had already requested two savoury dishes, which were also much larger than I anticipated.

IMG_2755

Mushroom knish with gravy

First up was a mushroom knish (which, in actuality, was more like a mound of mashed potatoes). The flavour was nice and the gravy was great, although this definitely wasn’t the dense pastry that I was expecting when I ordered.

IMG_2756

Stuffed cabbage

Next up was cabbage stuffed with rice and topped with red sauce. It was a pretty basic dish, but well seasoned and tightly wrapped (so that the cabbage didn’t fall apart when I cut into it). As I ate I drank; the coffee refills were abundant.

I happened to be dining on a particularly soggy day, making my hot food and beverage all the more satisfying. My jacket was completely drenched but I didn’t care. I left stuffed and happy to have experienced a little slice of mid-century New York.

I’m all about vintage diners at the moment, and this one makes it high on my list. If you are in the area, I recommend you pay B&H a visit. If the sound of this makes you want to die with anguish, just know that I get it. It’s taken me a long (long long) time to get to this place. There are some great podcasts that may help you in your journey towards food freedom. And take it from me that the control and confidence your seeking may actually increase as your restriction diminishes.

What’s more badass than not giving a fuck about what you “should” eat according to others’ skewed opinions or your own illogical rules? What’s cooler than being a diet rebel, eschewing commercialist and capitalistic beauty standards in favour of a flavourful, colourful, exciting life? What would happen if you decided to do and eat what you want? 

Try the matzo brei and the pierogies (and whatever else scares you) and reclaim that shit and the experiences that come along with it because what is life really if you’re living in fear about everything you put in your mouth? Feed your body, but don’t forget to also feed your soul.

You don’t just go to B&H for the food; you go for the whole package. The meal, the environment, and of course the nostalgia that comes along with it. 

B & H Dairy Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

quincy

Media of the Week

In light of current events regarding the LGBTQIA community in the US and elsewhere, I bring  you today’s post. “Media of the week”, but with a special focus on queerness. I can’t stay silent about the hate that’s been the forefront of recent media. And I can’t help but address the lack of news coverage for the violence, margilization and discrimination that queer people experience on a daily basis.

I rarely take such a serious note on this blog, but the time feels right to stand in solidarity with my friends, family and acquaintances who, due to a longstanding history of oppression and violence regarding their sexual orientation or gender identity, do not feel safe.

There is nothing I can say to make things better. My “thoughts and prayers” do not bring back lost loved ones. I just want to highlight people who are living their passion, thriving in spite of those who told them they couldn’t, bringing a voice to the LGBTQIA community and providing hope in the face of extreme darkness.

So here’s this week’s best and most relevant media.

Web SeriesBe Here Nowish


Fiery-haired vixen Alexandra Roxo (who also writes a great column for the Numinous) co-creates and co-stars in this hilarious mini series that highlights the spiritual quests of two girls in their 20’s. The other woman behind the show is Natalia Leite– she has worked with VICE and also directed her own film, Bare, which premiered at Tribeca last year.

Be Here Nowish is the answer to all the the groan-worthy spiritual (and psuedo-spiritual) Instagrams and Pinterest boards that fill our feeds. It’s not explicitly mocking these practices, just taking them in good humor, with a decent-sized grain of Himalayan rock salt.

Also, check out Alexandra and her girlfriend Orian’s Instagram for all the spiritual inspo you need, with a hint of much-needed rebellion.

Visual Art (drawings and textiles)- Camilla Engstrom

orgie

Most of Camilla’s work portrays a character named Husa (meaning “housemade” in her native tongue of Swedish). Camilla considers Husa an alter ego of sorts- portraying her ideas of sexuality in a way that she may otherwise not have an outlet for.

Camilla’s art is meant to empower and provoke. In addition to her prints, she also makes clothing/accessories and textiles. Both her personal and professional style are on point.

More Visual Art (comics)- Pillow Prinze

pp-banner1

I really love this one. These comics are by an illustrator named Hiro from Melbourne, Australia. They write primarily about gender/race identity and mental health. Hiro has also contributed illustrations to a variety of other platforms centered around queer existence.

TV ShowPlease Like Me

At once sad, hopeful, witty and absurd yet oh so relatable, Please Like Me is a tale of not just youth but life. I hate to call it a “coming of age”, as most critics already have, which doesn’t nearly do the show justice. The main character, Josh (who also writes and directs the series) is a young 20’s Australian kid who grapples with crushes, various degrees of parental conflict, career plans (or lack thereof), mental health and other pretty universal issues (especially for a person that age). The content represents reality; it doesn’t trivialize or make a caricature of it. The result is a leading character whose struggles only increase his likability and make you feel a bit less alone in the world.

ZineUproot

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 9.11.39 PM

Din Mrini, based in Florida and New York, publishes Uproot- a digital juxtaposition of text and image, plus lots of barcodes scattered in between. There are currently three issues of Uproot- each with differing content- but the major themes represented relate to gender, sex and romance. The makeup of the zine is so visually enticing and poetic- I hope Din has more issues on the works.

And finally, a vegan Golden Gaytime recipe from Rainbow Nourishments to top this all off. Go eat ice cream and collapse in sugar heap, dreaming of a world where art is queer and queer artists are the forefront of media and violence is minimized and people have the space to live and to thrive and to admire and be admired.

Thank you (for taking the time to check these out) and goodnight.

1124924764323615070615

 

 

FRINGE 1.3, plus notes

Fringe #3 is out and about, catch it while it’s hot. The intention was there to provide “notes” on the last two issues, but now this desire has actually come to fruition. Third time seems to be the charm.

If you haven’t snagged a print copy of the zine, you can check out a digital (full-color) version here:

//www.joomag.com/magazine/fringe-13/0120767001464841242?e=1&page=1&embedInfo=theme,293042,151b26,ffffff,ffe358,ffffff;

Thank you times a million for reading, and here are some additional resources if you fancy.

Comfort Food in the Internet Age

SONY DSC

Some other childhood faves of mine, redone:

The Price of Nostalgia

You can find prices/details of most of the items listed here or elsewhere, because apparently Trader Joe’s fan blogs are a thing. This person even did a year-long project reviewing TJ’s products.

Thanks to What’s Good at Trader Joe’s? I’ve also discovered that “dog food for people” is a thing.

Bright Eyes Web

This took me way, way longer than it should have. I also have an entire playlist devoted to the web (plus some extras that I didn’t have room to fit).



These Shoes Rule, These Shoes Suck

Where to find the shoes featured in the article:

Black*, White*, RedBlue. All products are made from vegan materials and are sweatshop-free. Bourgeois Boheme use recycled materials for their soles, and Melissa “recycles” unsold shoes for use in the next season.

No Pants, No Problem

Several years ago Lena Dunham rocked the no-pants look, and more recently Leandra Medine also promoted the trend. Dudes are also hopping on the bandwagon.

I’d love to see pictures if you try out the style for yourself.

Here’s where I got the items featured in the zine:

The cardigan- Urban Outfitters BDG (secondhand), the flannel- Old Navy, the tank- Razzle Dazzle, the big tee- vintage, the tunic- Juicy Couture (disclaimer: I bought it in ’07/I’m owning it, so hold your judgments)

Party for a New Moon

School yourself on the moon phases, first and foremost. Need a lil rap to help you remember?

Here’s the party playlist I mentioned in the post. Use it as-is, or take as inspiration for your own compilation.



DIY Candy Wrapper Votive

Tin_of_White_Rabbit_Sweets

White Rabbit or Mary Jane candies would also decoupage well. Stay tuned for more DIY-decorated candles to come.

Derby Girls on the Track

I recently got a new laptop (thanks Mom and Dad!)

So what’s that have to do with derby girls?

2344336353_370bd5029a_o

Good question! Medium story short, I had an amateur yet interesting video interview to post along with the article. BUT…. (there’s always a but, right?) I made it on my old, shitty computer which apparently doesn’t have enough disk space to properly export the video. So maybe I’ll figure it out on of these days, but whatever, it’s cool I guess….

P.S., In the meantime you can watch Whip It for some inspo/to drool over Ellen Page.

P.P.S., stay on the lookout for a derby-inspired fashion post, coming soon. Derby may be more about competition and less about show than it was in days past, but you can’t deny the style those 70’s rollers passed on to future generations. Derby ladies know how to glam it up.

1124924764323615070615

Vegan Monte Cristo

The classic Monte Cristo is not French, nor Italian, as the name suggests. In fact, the sandwiches were first served up in the good ol’ USA.

(Fuckin’ cultural appropriation, am I right?)

Sometime around the mid-1900’s, someone decided to revamp the Croque Monsieur for American consumption. The result was a diner-deli love child. Part eggy breakfast dish, part savory meatwich, all an artery-clogging taste bud party.

IMG_5184.CR2

The Monte Cristo is like a kid food for grownups. It’s disguising itself as a refined dish, but really it’s not much more than melted cheese on a mass of dough.

I mean that in the most flattering way possible. Some of the greatest dishes out there- pizza, quesadillas, pierogis, empanadas- are basically the same concept.

You can now add Monte Cristos to the list.

IMG_5187.CR2

#cheeseporn

That being said, this recipe doesn’t use “real” cheese nor “real” ham. Did you expect any less from me?

Use dairy cheese if you must (maybe from someplace like this?) but please, please, please- for the love of pigs– leave out the meat.

I’ll hop of the soapbox now and let you get to the recipe. Hope you enjoy!

IMG_5185.CR2

Ingredients:

Directions:

  • Build your sandwich (cheese, ham, mustard and mayo on bread- in whatever fun order you like!)
  • In small bowl, whisk together egg (or egg replacement) and black pepper
  • Dredge the sandwich in the egg mixture until fully coated (i.e. soggy)
  • Meanwhile, start to heat greased frying pan on medium-high
  • Place sandwich in pan and cook for about 5 minutes, until browned, crispy & sizzling
  • Flip and repeat on other side
  • Remove from heat, slice in half and serve with a side of jam and cornichons

Bon appétit,

1124924764323615070615

Midweek Mashup

It’s warming up here, which means I can finally eat ice cream again without aggravating my vataThis recipe brings me back to my recent travels to Singapore, where ice cream sandwiches are literally a slab of ice cream served between a thick piece of milk bread– or better yet, rainbow bread.

Ricker_PokPok_ThaiStyleIceCreamSandwich-970x646

Oh, and it just so happens to be dairy-free (if you nix the condensed milk topping, which you shouldn’t). Alternatively, try this.

And, on a similar note: the Hong Kong street food that’s taking over Instagram.

If you prefer reading about food to eating it, who are you, you monster? Might as well tell me you also sometimes “forget to eat“. Although I will never understand your kind, I do enjoy a good article on food culture. The Runcible Spoon, a D.C.-based “food & fantasy” zine, is full of ’em. Just discovered it, wondering how did I not know about this sooner?

Another one I wish I’d found sooner is Render– for those of us that like our sustenance served with a side of social justice (and lots of great cocktail recipes).

While we’re on the topic of food, check out one of my favorite music videos on the web right now- Swedish girl, Spanish name, Asian influence, chanting about belly buttons (in what she describes as a “beauty orgy“.

Here’s another one that- albeit slightly disturbing- is so aesthetically interesting, you can’t not watch the whole thing several times over.

Actually, I recommend anything that Lazy Mom makes. I also recommend anything that Pill makes. Combine the two and you have pure perfection.

And one more video, just for kicks, from London-based Kero Kero Bonito.

In other music news…

While all the lucky bums with no obligations are relishing in the last few days of South by, I’ll be living vicariously through Snapchat stories and Instagram feeds. Not that that’s a bad thing- you can have almost as much fun at home for practically free!

(At least that’s what I’m telling myself).              

No sweat, no lines, no overpriced booze, no tall people wandering over to block your view. If you’re dreaming of Austin but can’t be there to participate , join me (in spirit) for the next best thing with this DIY festival experience.

cig_MG_5978_hv9osm

Step 1: Dress the part with inspiration from this year’s attendees (both novice and veteran)

Bonus: Add some Texas dirt for authenticity- grime is the new glitter!

Step 2: Get drunk (on craft beer if you’re trying to stay true to that Austin culture, or 40’s if you’re cheap)

Step 3: Pop on some tunes (perhaps paying special attention to these 25?)

Step 4: Make tacos

Once the dust has (literally) settled from your remaining 5 days of festival fun, you’ll surely need another media outlet to suck your time away.

Shockingly, that outlet may be Facebook. We all know it as the platform that became overrun by wine-drunk middle-aged women and abandoned by its original users. However, Facebook is experiencing a resurgence which might just make it cool again (but only if you’re part of the burgeoning underground scene or using it to troll).

In more media news, Leslie Arfin is the best (despite my limited enthusiasm for Girls).  Her husband‘s pretty dope too. Catch this interview with him and Gillian Jacobs about their Netflix series on pre-relationship trials and discomforts. 

Once computer vision syndrome has begun to set in, turn off the screen and pop in your headphones for Lady to Lady podcast.

It’s basically a chance to listen in on three women (plus a weekly guest) provide commentary on their lives. Not only are they hilarious, but also refreshingly honest and relatable.

In stark contrast to many L.A. creatives, there’s no overly-censored, picture-perfect representations going on here.

Follow the girls on Twitter for more fun and, please let me know:

What are the best things you found on the web this week? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Spaetzle Kugel

If casseroles are a standard American desperation dish (see here, here or here), then kugels are their European counterpart. That’s not to say that they’re lacking whatsoever, but they do encourage that “use what you have” mentality.

Consider the fact that kugel originally contained bread as the primary starch, and it wasn’t typically a sweet dish until about 400 years ago. (That’s a relatively recent transition- People have been consuming kugel of some variety for over 800 years).

IMG_4985.CR2

Stacks on stacks of kugel, with a side of apple-cabbage slaw

When times are tough, adjustments must be made. Old trends are adapted; people learn to work with what they have. Many classic recipes have been invented this way: meatloaf, “wacky cake“, several types of chowder, and of course the kugels of late.

Some traditionalists still opt for savory kugel, others swap noodles for potatoes (or rice or veggie noodles).

IMG_4984.CR2

The beauty of kugel is that it’s customizable. Custom-shit is my shit.

Like those chunky home phones you could decorate with rhinestones and feather boas.*

Or jeans that are made to fit your body.

Or vegan leather journals filled with pages of your choosing. (Get your name emblazoned on there for extra oomph.)

You’re an individual. Why shouldn’t your phone/denim/journal/Euro casserole be too?

IMG_4986.CR2

In an attempt to cut down on food waste and save cold, hard cash, I resorted to the depths of my pantry for this recipe. On hand, I had spaetzle (stand-in for egg noodles), ricotta (a creamy binder to replace eggs), and spiced rum (for good measure).

I threw it all together and what did I get? An easy meal that my taste-testers raved about for weeks to come.

Ingredients

  • 1 package spaetzle (or vegan spaetzle)
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup spiced rum
  • 3 cups ricotta (or vegan ricotta)
  • 1/4 cup Stevia baking blend or sweetener of choice (adjust amount accordingly)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF
  • Cook spaetzle according to package directions
  • Meanwhile, soak raisins in rum and set aside
  • Combine remaining ingredients in mixing bowl and beat until smooth
  • Drain spaetzle and fold into ricotta mixture
  • Spread evenly into greased baking dish
  • Bake for 45 minutes (or until dish is firm/passes the toothpick test)

Like I said, mix it up if you like. Don’t like Stevia? Use some other sweetener, or omit entirely. Don’t have raisins on hand? Maybe chopped nuts (or chocolate chips?? or crushed potato chips???) would add an interesting texture.

Let me know what you think of the recipe, or how you plan to make it your own.

1124924764323615070615

*P.S. does anyone remember these? I know I have mine laying around somewhere- will post crucial pics when found.

Weirdest (Coolest) Subscription Boxes to Gift this Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is no favorite of mine, but I don’t despise it either. How can I resent a day centered around champagne, chocolate and cheese(y rom coms)?

(Already partaken in 3/3, to be honest).

The thought of stuffed drug-store bears and assorted boxes of Russel Stover’s does make me want to puke my guts out… Just a little. But at the same time, V-Day done well is something to celebrate. It’s a fun time to engage in the cliches of young love, and/or #selfcare, and/or Lupercalia. Take your pick!

vday

Considering today is Valentine’s Day, one might assume that any further romantic gestures are for naught. “The day is practically over!” You’re thinking. “It’s too late for gifts and niceties.”

“NOT TRUE,” I’ll argue back- If you use the excuse that the surprise is still in transport. The beauty of buying gifts online is that you have a built-in defense if it’s not available right when you need it.

“Oh, it must have gotten lost in the mail. My postman always brings my packages to the neighbors. I’ll never order from ______ again, such slow service! But don’t worry, something is on it’s way.”

(Little will they know that you placed the order at 2am this morning).

If you’re gifting to yourself- even better! I’m sure you’ll understand that life gets crazy and sometimes the best is all we can do. You still love you.

*AHEM*

Subscription boxes are the gift of the moment. What started out as shoeboxes of sample lotions and gluten-free crackers has exploded into a market tapped by every subgroup out there.

Just take a look at any of the subscription services below- You will surely find something to suit most any interest or need.

Abuela Mami– Easier and cheaper than a trip to Cuba… get your lover a box full of assorted Cuban goodies. You don’t even have to work out a non-tourist visa! Rent a vintage car and cruise around smoking stogies for the full experience. ($25.95 per month)

kawaii_sushi__large_msg_124461330315_by_amyrose758-d7e25gp

Amyrose758 via DeviantArt

Kawaii Box– Monthly box of Japanese and Korean “kawaii” products for the cutester in your life. Plush animals dressed as food? Inanimate objects with faces? RAINBOW STICKERS? Kawaii box has got it all. You are not too old, stop saying you are. (Starting at $17.30 per per month)

3463871991_3c5384b36a_z

Shalanie Bachiller via Flickr

Mystical Mojo Box– “You can never have enough crystals”, someone wise once said. One must have polished stones for every occasion, and pendulums and incense and essential oils to boot. If your Valentine follows these ethos, this mystical box might be what they’ve always dreamed of. Hint: suggest they use it to work on their sacral chakra (; (Starting at $14 per month)

Quarterly Box (Curated by Pharrell Williams)– Wouldn’t it be cool to have connects, like… say… celebrities you can casually name-drop or introduce your friends to at work affairs? This box is sort of like that. Not only will Mr.Williams hand-pick gift items just for you, he’ll even throw in a “personal letter”. (Black truffle salt- He knows me so well! … How did he know the name of my childhood psychiatrist?) It’s like the “almost-estranged uncle who still sends things out of guilt” that you never had. ($50 per month)

2298921212_117fc534a9_o

Torben Hansen via Flickr

Cannabox– Nothing says “I love you” like drug paraphernalia and candy. That’s what you’ll find in this monthly compilation of cannabis-themed goods. Cannabox ships to all States (and beyond), but make sure that your recipient knows their rights. (Starting at $16.88 per month)

Spicy Subscriptions– I couldn’t have a V-Day post without including this one. I’m a little suspect of “assorted sex toys in a box”, but all in the name of novelty… right? This is a great gift to salvage a crumbling relationship, as “87% of subscribers feel that their partner is LESS likely to cheat on them after being subscribed to Spicy Subscriptions”. Try it for yourself. (Starting at $10 per month)

If you’ve tried any of these subscription services, let me hear from ya. And have a very sacred and special holiday.

1124924764323615070615