Monday, May 26, 2008

The Man Next Door Is Teaching His Dog to Drive

It all began when he came out one morning

and found the dog waiting for him behind the wheel.

He thought she looked pretty good sitting there,

so he started taking her into town with him

just so she could get a feel for the road.

They have made a few turns through the field,

him sitting beside her, his foot on the accelerator,

her muzzle on the wheel. Now they are practicing

going up and down the lane with him whispering

encouragement in her silky ear. She is a handsome

dog with long ears and a speckled muzzle and he

is a good teacher. Now my wife, Millie, he says,

she was always too timid on the road, but don't you

be afraid to let people know that you are there.

The dog seems to be thinking about this seriously.

Braking, however, is still a problem, but he is building

a mouthpiece which he hopes to attach to the steering 

column, and when he upgrades to one of those new

Sports Utility Vehicles with the remote ignition device,

he will have solved the key and the lock problem.

Although he has not yet let her drive into town,

he thinks she will be ready sometime next month,

and when his eyes get bad and her hip dysplasia 

gets worse, he thinks this will come in real handy.

by Cathryn Essinger from My Dog Does Not Read Plato

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cake

Serves its purpose and 12 people

1 ½ sticks of butter, plus extra for greasing the pans
1 ½ cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 cup cake flour
1 tsp each: baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 ½ cups baker’s sugar
3 large eggs, separated
2 tsp good quality vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream

4 sticks butter, softened
1 lb box of powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
scant ¾ tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
5 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled
5 oz white chocolate, melted and cooled

1. Preheat oven to 350˚. Allow butter, eggs, and sour cream to come to room temp. Grease and flour two 9” rounds and cut parchment paper for bottoms. In bowl, stir together all dry ingredients.
2. Beat butter on medium-high speed in a mixer for 30 seconds. Beat in sugar until well combined. Beat in yolks one at a time.
3. Add flour mixture, vanilla, and sour cream to butter mixture. Beat on low speed until just combined.
4. In a clean bowl, whisk egg whites on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold half of the whites into the batter. Then fold the rest in.
5. Pour batter into pans. Bake for about 25 minutes – cake should spring back to the touch. Cool cakes in pans on wire racks for about 10 minutes. Then remove carefully from pans and cool completely before frosting.

For buttercream: Beat 5 sticks of butter on medium-high until softened. Slowly, add the powdered sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and salt. Gradually beat in the melted and cooled chocolates. Continue mixing on high speed until the frosting has a smooth consistency.
This cake can be frosted and will retain its moist texture and flavor for up to two days if covered at room temperature.

••••Inspired by Oaxacan hot chocolate, Rufino Tamayo, and my abuelitos' posadas

Recipe by Cristina Paul

Blah-Blah-Blahg: Food For Nought

I saw OSS 117: Nest of Spies
It's the perfect film - a spoof on the spy genre with homoerotic hilarity, farcical fight scenes, and endearing idiocy. This film parodies the French OSS spy films of the '50s and '60s as well as the early Bond films (BTW it is the 100th anniversary of Ian Fleming's B-Day on May 28th - he wrote the original Bond novels). Plus, the film features amazing costumes and some beautifully furnished sets - think thin lapels and sleek Scandinavian credenzas.
Recently I have been obsessed with Art Tatum - he's got magnificent hands whose sounds can penetrate even the most callous of hearts.
If On A Winter's Night A Traveler by Italo Calvino. If you can't hang with this meta matrushka doll of a book, check out Baron In The Trees by Calvino instead. It's silly and if you don't think so, perhaps you need to reread.
If you're into non-fiction and unafraid of accusations of new-age insanity, pick up a copy of Many Lives Many Masters .
My friend introduced me to a beer that will make your tongue wag. It's a Belgian beer called Rodenbach that has immediate appeal simply because it comes in a 350mL wine-type of bottle with a cork. It's been around since 1821 and they brew three different types of sour ales. Cheers!
"Many who believe in English speak it"
from My Life by Lyn Hejinian
If you're sick of saying "back at ya" or "likewise" try "boomerang" on for size; I like using it in text messages and emails when responding to my many admirers.