November 22, 2014

Fall Sale Today!

Jennie Coffin's fall sale is today in fairfax, and there are soooooo many goodies. Pottery, jewelry, hand carved cutting boards, miniature sheep paintings. 

Come by: Saturday 11/22
10am to 5pm
10927 Park Drive
Fairfax VA




November 12, 2014

Winter is icumin in - Ezra Pound





Winter is icumin in
Lhude sing Goddamn,
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ramm!
Sing; Goddamn.

Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
An ague hath my ham
Damn you, Sing, Goddamn.

Goddamn, Goddamn, 'tis why I am,
So 'gainst the winter's balm.
Sing goddamn, damn, sing goddamn,
Sing goddamn, sing goddamn, DAMN!

- Ezra Pound
(via Mr. F.)

October 30, 2014

Clippings: Orange October!

Another Orange October! Giants win the World Series, and (here's the real headline), my mother emails me a play-by-play of the last inning. Thank you, Giants, for finally converting my mother into a baseball fan, after 30 years of resistance. Full coverage in the Chronicle.

During a strike in 1978, some clever folks produced Not the New York Times. How delightful! (The Paris Review)

"Love of God and love of neighbour, then, are presented to the Christian as a coherent single object of faith." Fr. James on last Sunday's Gospel and the Synod (Thine Own Service)

A simple and delightful fall cocktail (Joy the Baker)

First Listen: Bob Dylan Bootleg Series 11 (NPR)

37 Best Restaurants in Washington woot! woot! (WaPo)


"I asked how he was feeling. 'I’m well rested now,' he said, and waited a beat. 'But I miss being tired.'" -- from a review of the new James Brown documentaryMr. Dynamite (NYT)

One of these days I'll get around to writing out my thoughts on Andy Warhol. (I do love him, you know.) But till then, more fodder for the discussion: The Faith of Andy Warhol (Real Clear Politics)

Tim Stanley is in town, and writing about all our crazies in next week's election. (The Telegraph)

The macabre doodles of William Mackpeace Thackery (The Paris Review)

All 71 costumes in the opening credits of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (Buzzfeed Life)

LITURGIES THIS WEEKEND:

FRIDAY: All Saint's Vigil at the Dominican House of Studies. Best event every year, and it breaks my heart to miss it this year. Insider tip: go early & sit upstairs in the loft. 

SATURDAY: Solemn High Mass for All Saints at Holy Comforter / St. Cyprian

SUNDAY: Requiem Mass in the Ordinariate Use (music: Fauré's Requiem) at St. Luke's Ordinariate, in Immaculate Conception Church, 8th & N Streets, NW, Washington DC. And St. Stephen Martyr Parish is doing Fauré's Requiem Mass as well at their 11 o'clock high-Mass.

(It's pretty awesome to have All Souls on a Sunday so we get to have requiem masses!)

And, last but not least: If you don't have plans this Saturday, why not venture out to rural Virginia for this River Valley Festival? It sounds wonderful! (Wish I could go, myself!)





October 17, 2014

A Meme!



Yesterday I was thinking I should post something personal, but goodness knows there is not enough time to reflect, let alone write something lucid and entertaining and engaging. But then Ann kindly tagged me in a 10 random questions thingy, and I bit.

1. What’s the most recent book you’ve read that you would actually recommend?
Gaudy Night, and really the whole Lord Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane series from start to finish. She does something incredible with these. The first (Strong Poison) is a classic Wimsey mystery, but there is something stirring way down deep inside the character of Wimsey, that Sayers may not quite be able to contain. The second, Have his Carcase is fun and slightly frivolous. The third, Gaudy Night, stands on it's own as a profound mystery -- dealing with graver issues -- not that murder isn't grave, but English murder mysteries are almost quaint at times, whereas this is dealing with psychosis and social issues. It does so deftly and thrillingly; and by the end of it, we've seen the depth of Harriet Vane, and love her as Peter does. The Fourth, Busman's Holiday, we see a new side of Peter -- the side we always suspected was there but didn't have quite clear enough vision. As one of my commenters said, it is one of the most romantic books I've ever read.

2. What’s up next on you Netflix cue?
Hmmm. Been re-watching Parks and Recreation on Hulu. Netflix no longer has a true queue, but here's a good sampling: 20 Feet from Stardom (which is supposed to be incredible, it's a about the women who sang back-up for rock stars in the 60s and 70s), The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, every Marx Brothers film available, and most classic British mysteries and comedies, most of which I've seen, but I always want to see again.

3. Favorite season and why?
Let me quote the Green Lady in Perelandra: "The fruit we are eating is always best of all." -- I love all the seasons, when I am in the midst of them. I will say though: I don't love the transition. When summer is leaving, but there are none of the pleasures of fall (color, crispness in the air, clear days and cool nights) I yearn for sunshine and (yes, even) humidity. The only exception is spring, where the transition IS the season, and I love every moment of it (so I guess Spring is my true favorite).

4. If there was one professional sport you could banish from all the land, what would it be? Elaborate.
Football. As George Will says "Football combines the two worst things about America: it is violence punctuated by committee meetings." (Plus the worst aspects of modern American culture: loud and unsubstantial television commentary and aggressive advertisements.)

5. You go to your mom’s house. She says she’ll make you anything for dinner. What do you ask for?
Steak Candy. It's grilled skirt steak with a really marvelous BBQ sauce. But she cannot make it anymore because our back yard is too windy for a grill to work. I've never been able to recreate it.

6. What game did you play the most as a child (this could be an imaginary play game, board or card game, or outside game).
Hmmmm. Mom and Dad love strategic and long games like Risk, so we couldn't really play till we were older. There was this one farm-game that was sort of like Monopoly, only way more complicated, and we would bring it out play for a few hours, and then write down meticulously what all we had and put it away, and take it out again a few months (or a year) later, and continue. I'm pretty sure we never finished that first game. My personal favorite game is Taboo. And the only pretend game that my siblings and I could play for any period of time without arguing was lego village, where we'd each play with our own legos, creating a village of sorts (the sort of village that had spaceships alongside pizza parlors along side beach houses alongside pirate ships alongside ski resorts alongside medieval castles, of course).

7. What’s your worst Internet habit?
Watching Parks and Recreation when I get home LATE from work, instead of going straight to bed.

8. Chore that you would happily pass along to someone else given the chance?
Mambo said about me once: "Laundry is your albatros."

9. Fall is the season of the scary movie. Are you for scary-scary or not?
No.

10. You have a Saturday available to you with no responsibilities (work, children, etc.) and all to yourself. What do you do?
Goodness, it's been so so so so so so so long since I've had a Saturday off... Assuming I didn't got to bed at 2 am the night before (because of work), I'd: get up early, make coffee, and read for a bit in the morning. Go to the Farmer's market by 9 (so the good stuff is still there), and pick up a croissant on the way. Come home and cook something with the market goodies. I'd go out for the afternoon: museum, hiking, to the river, book in hand, stop in a coffee shop. Dinner with friends (out or at home), and a nightcap at home, which usually means staying up and talking for hours.


October 07, 2014

Gaudy Night (2)

The prospect seemed discouraging for Miss Schuster-Slatt's matrimonial campaign, since the rull seemed to be that a great woman must either die unwed, to Miss Schuster-Slatt's distress, or find a still greater man to marry her. And that limited the great woman's choice considerably, since, though the world of course abounded in great men, it contained a very much larger number of middling and common-place men. The great man, on the other hand, could marry where he liked, not being restricted to great women; indeed, it was often found sweet and commendable in him to choose a woman of no sort of greatness at all. 

— Gaudy Night, by Dorothy Sayers
(And dammit if it isn't also true about DC.) 

October 02, 2014

Gaudy Night (1)

"What hampered her was this sense of being in the middle of things, too close to thing, pressed upon and bullied by reality. If she could succeed in standing aside from herself she would achieve self-confidence and better control. That was the great possession in which -- with all his limitations -- the scholar could account himself blessed: the single eye, directed to the object, not dimmed, nor distracted by private motes and beams."
-- Gaudy Night (chapter 4), by Dorothy Sayers

After a very full, very tiring summer, and a year full of changes: this is exactly how I feel. In the middle of things, and still wholly unable to get my bearings straight, know if what I am doing and how I am growing and what I am giving up will pay off in the end. (It would help if Lord Peter was waiting at the other end of the decision, I am sure.)

July 29, 2014

Plant No Tree Before the Sacred Vine






Just last night I was staring at the label of a Barolo we carry, and it had the motto "Nullam Sacra Vite Prius Severis Arborem" on the winemakers crest. Dying of curiosity, I searched for a translation. It is, of course, from Horace, one of wine's great chroniclers and Rome's great poets:

Nullam, Vare, sacra vite prius severis arborem
circa mite solum Tibruis et moenia Catili;
siccis omnia nam dura deus proposiuit neque
mordaces aliter diffugiunt sollicitundines.
Quis post vina gravem militiam aut pauperiem crepat?
Quis non te potius, Bacche pater, teque decens Venus?
Ac ne quis modici transiliat munera Liberi,
Centaurea monet cum Lapithis rixa super mero
debellata, menet Sithoniis non levis Euhius,
cum fas atque nefas exiguo fine libidinum
discernunt avidi. Non ego te, candide Bassareu,
invitum quatiam nec variis obsita frondibus
sub divum rapiam. Saeva tene cum Berecyntio
cornu tympana, quae subsequitur caecus Amor sui
et tollens vacuam plus nimio Gloria verticem
arcanique Fides prodiga, perlucidior vitro.


Plant no tree, Varus, before the sacred vine
around the soft ground of the Tibur and walls of Catilus;
a god has ordained everything difficult for dry people and
biting anxieties don't flee in any other way.
Who rattles on about serious military service or poverty after wine?
Who does not rattle on more about you, father Bacchus, and you, comely Venus?
And yet anyone abuses the gifts of moderate Bacchus,
the battle fought to the bitter end of the Centaurs over their wine with the
Lapiths warns, Bacchus not light with the Thracians warns,
when those greedy of desire discern lawful from sin
with a small limit. I do not shake you, white Bacchus,
unwilling, nor do I snatch by the light of day your
sacred things covered with various leaves. Hold savage
drums and the horn from Berecyntus, which blind self-love follows
and Glory raising an empty crown too high and
Faith wasteful of secrets, more transparent than glass.


- Horace, Ode 1.18

June 06, 2014

My Goodness That's a Lot of Clippings


Did you know there are flamingos at the National Zoo? I was so excited. So was the four year old I was with. But that's fair: I am basically a four year old when it comes to the zoo. Also the Zoo App is super handy. (FONZ)

First listen to First Aid Kit's new album on NPR. (See what I did there?!) This is perfect early morning, ohmygosh I have so much laundry to do before my vacation summertime music. (NPR)

Been absolutely fascinating to read about a Brooklyn Restaurant Empire, and their many off-shoots, and, shall we say, family interests, in this Bon Appetit series: Out of the Kitchen

Why do I always forget about the witty, humble, entertaining, and profound Joseph Epstein? He is such a marvelous essayist, and this is a jewel. (Commentary)

Handwriting for the win - though, sadly, it is disappearing! - Is this a problem? YES! (New York Times)

You know I'm a sucker for a good map story. But what does "GIS" stand for, anyway? Because I read the whole article and still am not sure. (Smithsonian)

So you know how in P. G. Wodehouse, some obscure Uncle is always threatening to die, and leave you with nothing but his obscure collection -- if you're lucky! Reform my friends: You want to inherit from this uncle! (Garden & Gun)

"Scruffy Hospitality" is the name of my game, for sure. Come one, come all. Never mind about the dishes in the sink. No you can't help me clean the dishes in the sink. Sit down. Have a glass of wine. Let's talk. (Knox Priest)

Oh, my Dominicans were ordained last week. Love them so much. (Catholic News Services)

Oral history of MST3K. I didn't really know what an oral history was until I read this. Also: Miles O'Keefe!!!!! (Wired)

"How I Evolved on Gay Marriage" from the always thought provoking Matthew Scmitz (First Things)

This girl is fabulous. I wish I felt that comfortable in my skin, ever. (The Sartorialist)

This Medieval song about summer is charming! Cuckoo! Cuckoo!  (Medivalists)

Um. 6 frozen beer desserts, of course. The Creamsicle Pie made with Berliner-Weiss is brilliant! (Draft)

The Best Places to Be Alone in Washington DC - other than your car, sitting in traffic. Still need to go to that Planetarium in Ballston. (Washingtonian)

Verily rounds up some cute shirt dresses. I will die a thousand closet deaths when shirt dresses and chambray stop being popular (Verily)

The best article Simcha Fisher has ever written. (I Have to Sit Down)

This is the best bit of news I have ever read (or ever will read) from the Facebook "Trending" column: Ghostbusters gets Theatrical Release in celebration of 30th Anniversary! (Variety)

And, in anticipation of Sunday: 7 saints for Pentecost. As I said on FB -- I really ought to have better devotion to the Holy Spirit given how many of my favorites are on this list. (Catholic Exchange)


May 19, 2014

The Pixie and the Scout Buildout!



Look. I work in food. I routinely have a really fabulous chef making me my daily dinner (hurrah family meal). I get to sample incredible dishes, great cheeses, lots of wine and beer, of course. What I'm saying is, I know a good meal, and I enjoy them often.

But: I've never had a meal like the pop-up dinner I had last year cooked by The Pixie and the Scout.

We sat down, filled out a funny little questionnaire designed to gauge our knowledge, appetites, (allergies, of course), and adventurousness. (Eg. "Name as many members of the Onion family" and "Draw a picture of something you can forage on a roadside.") And then Katy and Jonathan created a menu of 6 courses entirely for our table (and another one for the table next to ours, and on, and on). There were flavor combinations I had never thought of (savory strawberries), ingredients I'd never heard of (I can't even remember but there was some sort of edible succulent thing that just blew my mind), and the juiciest roast chicken I've ever eaten (and honey, I love roast chicken)! It was one of the best meals of my life.

Now The Pixie and the Scout have leased a huge space in Brooklyn, and have launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the renovation of this space. They are close to meeting their goal, but if you're interested in helping a great young couple do incredible things with food, pop on over to Kickstarter, and lend them a hand, won't you?


April 30, 2014

Recipe: Lazy Risotto



So, lazy is the best word for this recipe, but that doesn't mean it's quick. Or for everyone. It is only for people with long days at home. There is an economy here, but it is not an economy for everyone. In fact, I'll bet, in my limited readership, there is only one person who will really benefit from this recipe, and that's only because I talked with her about it yesterday and we got interrupted by one of the three three-year-olds in the house at the time.

Anyway, this recipe...nay, this technique is for when you have a full day at home and only want to pay attention halfway to whatever you're cooking.

1) HOMEMADE VEGETABLE STOCK.

For that you need to obsessively save vegetable scraps. I do this, sticking vegetable odds and ends and roots and slightly gone greens into a big plastic container in my freezer. (Or a ziploc bag.) This is the perfect base for a rich and hearty vegetable stock. I take all those veggies (today, asparagus ends, fennel stems and leaves, scallions, wild garlic ends that had dried out, onion skins, several cloves of garlic, and some bok choy) and rinse them quickly cool water to shake off any freezer ice. If you don't save veggie ends, I bet you have some veggies in your fridge that are about to go, and of course you have onions and garlic in your pantry, or a bag of frozen peas. Any greens, any onions, any vegetables so long as it is not starch will do.

So, take all your veg, and stick them in your biggest stock pot and cover with water. Throw in a couple bay leaves and set it simmering.

And then leave it, for an hour at least, completely unattended.

(So long as it's only simmering, you don't need to watch it.) When I get my second cup of coffee, I'll maybe give it a stir, and, if the water looks low, I'll pour in a bit more cold water. Sometimes I'll add salt, or peppercorns. Sometimes not.

After 90 minutes to two hours, when the water is reduced by 1/3 or 1/2, and it's starting to look dark and rich I'll drain the stock into a separate pot, (discard the veggies) and taste it. If it needs more salt, add it now. If it seems a little lackluster, I'll chop up an onion finely and add it in there.

2) Now THE RISOTTO: The typical ratio of rice to broth in risotto is 1:3. Plus you have to keep ladling it in and stirring it, and ladling it, and stirring it, and keeping the broth hot on the stove, and using all the pots in the house, and being super attentive, and sometimes it's a pleasure, but today, this is too much work. I am being lazy!

So take your practically-free vegetable broth and double that ratio. Put in 1 cup of rice to your 5 or 6 cups of broth. (If you don't have six cups, add some water and some white wine.) Stir it round. Add in some saffron and a knob of butter, and set it simmering. And leave it, mostly unattended, for 40 minutes, or till the rice has absorbed all the broth. (Give it a stir every now and then, ok.)

Add some freshly grated dry cheese (pecorino, parmesan), and another knob of butter, and some freshly chopped parsley, and serve.

Alternately, you could do this "oven risotto" from Martha Stewart, which is pretty fool-proof, and probably coincides better with your definition of lazy.

April 22, 2014

The Lord is Risen Indeed



"Thine's all the glory, man's the boundless bliss."

Well this has been on repeat in my head since Sunday. William Billings, you are delightful. Christ is Risen! Alleluia! Happy Easter, all!

April 15, 2014

A very random, not Holy Week centered Clippings



Don't forget my Easter book recommendations are available here. (The image above is from Petook, by Caryll Houselander and illustrated by Tomie dePaola)

A profile of the amazing Spike Gjerde of Woodberry Kitchen, in Baltimore -- a man deeply committed to his hometown, and to truly sustainable cooking. (He has a full time preservation team, which cans 50,000lbs of produce every year!) His cooking is truly Mid-atlantic: focused on the meat, fish (especially) and produce that thrive in this rich but "undocumented and uncelebrated" area. (First we Feast)

Sidecar and Myrna and I went and saw The Grand Budapest Hotel. And I have lots to say, but, right now: SWINTON. She's crazy, whoa. (Vulture)

Love this headline about the amazing Sr. Helena Burns, aka: "The Nun who got Addicted to Twitter" - it's a great article too. (The Atlantic)

And speaking of the New Evangelization online: the Vatican Library is going digital! (The Art Newspaper)

Chef, 15 years old, making stunning meals in a supper club in his parent's house. (New York Times)

These marble dresses are incredible. (This is Colossal)

How Greg Maddux pitched (The Washington Post)


RCA + Miss Hale: There's a new collection of Muriel Spark essays being published! Informed Air (Amazon via Michah Mattix)

Oh my word, yes: Confessions from the Confession line (Smicha Fisher)

David Brooks on Passover and Liberation and Obedience (New York Times):
When John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin wanted to put Moses as a central figure on the Great Seal of the United States, they were not celebrating him as a liberator, but as a re-binder. It wasn’t just that he led the Israelites out of one set of unjust laws. It was that he re-bound them with another set of laws. Liberating to freedom is the easy part. Re-binding with just order and accepted compulsion is the hard part.
This Confessions of a Christian Film Critic is good. We live in the tension, my friends. (The Washington Post

April 14, 2014

Easter Books on CIC Kids


Still need gifts for the Easter Basket? I've got three posts up on CIC KIDS listing some of the best picture books for Eastertide:

+ Picture books about Easter itself

+ Biblically based picture books and illustrated Bibles

+ Religiously themed board books for toddlers + infants

Some of these books are out of print so won't arrive in time. Others are readily available even at your local big chain bookstore. Most are available on Amazon (and for all purchases through Amazon, the CIC gets a little percentage back.)

Am I forgetting any? What are your family favorites?