Friday, January 27, 2012

Life List: Be Asked to Read My Poetry in Front of an Audience

So, I've been lucky enough to actually complete this goal not once, but twice.  And, I'll be doing it again this weekend!  (And a few other times throughout the next few months, so stay tuned, and check my portfolio for updates in a new section: Readings.)  If you're around NYC on Sunday, I'd love to see you.  Below, you'll find some information, and to RSVP, click here.

NYU Poetry Night at Lungfull’s Zinc Reading Series
Sunday January 29th - 5:30pm (doors open at 5)

Readers: Matt Broadus, Gino Figlio, Peter Longofono, Kristin Maffei, David McLoghlin, and Cat Richardson

Curated by the Lungfull! Magazine Rapid Editorial Action Go-Force: Anahit Gulian, Brendan Lorber, Edmund Berrigan, Kristin Maffei, Mariana Ruiz, Mike Smith, Molly Dorozenski, Tracey McTague, working together to hasten the collapse of Western Civilization & to fill the new void with an age of perfect days & better nights.

Zinc is 82 West 3rd Street (btw Thompson & Sullivan) NYC

Readings are $5, or best offer which goes to the readers so they can buy you a drink afterwards

Copies of Lungfull! magazine will also be on-site. Buy them all and burn them outside the bar as a warning to all would-be poets & publishers.

Lungfull! is made possible in part by a generous grant from the New York State Council on the Arts.

This announcement has been optimized to be ignored on all platforms and devices but then intuitively understood in such a way that you arrive at the reading without ever having been consciously aware that it was about to happen.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Two Year Blogiversary

I can hardly believe it's been two years since I first started this blog.  My cousin and I were sharing an incredible trip to Iceland, and I decided it was finally time to create a blog to record my travels.  My life was different then.  I was 23, in a job I couldn't stand, and not coping well.  Roger was five hours away, I was bored out of my mind, and I felt like I was wasting all my potential (not to mention the tuition money spent on Sarah Lawrence).  Starting this as a place to record all the amazing places I'd been gave me a tiny bit of hope that I'd be in amazing places again.  And I was.  Iceland was amazing, and 2010 slowly started a sea change for me.  Two years later, I'm in a job I genuinely enjoy, finally realizing my dreams of going to grad school, and living in a place I love with a person who feels like home.

And I'm so glad I've been able to share it with everyone who stops by my little corner - some of the most supportive people I know.  To show some of my gratitude, I'm going to repeat last year's giveaway:  

Anyone who comments on this entry will be entitled to one homemade postcard, delivered wherever you are!  

If there's a chance I don't know your address, comment and then email me it.  And thanks for another great year, guys.  Here's looking forward to many more!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Gratitudesday: Friends

I spent most of today in a sour mood.  When I wasn't frantically trying to finish a book for class tomorrow, I was re-numbering the art in one of our manuscripts for the third time.  I try not to compare myself to others, because I really believe we're all on our own journey, but today, it felt like everyone I knew was doing something more amazing than me.

Here's a brief sampling of people I know were doing today:
  • getting published in the New Yorker
  • buying houses
  • being teachers
  • booking fabulous trips to far-off lands
  • getting married
  • seeing the Aurora Borealis in my hometown*
And while I was sitting there, making sure that the numbering of 234 images was consistent between six separate documents (that's checking that I used a dash instead of a period, and that I've labeled it as "photo" and not "figure" a total of 1,404 times), I was having a really impossible time not feeling jealous.  I was really happy for everyone, but I was also disappointed that nothing even vaguely exciting was happening in my life.  It was not my most attractive moment.

But, when I came home, I used my food processor to slice cabbage, and it worked really well.  Then, Roger discovered the ice cream I'd hidden in the freezer for him, and was way more excited than I was expecting.  And then, I finally finished the book, and when I moved on to find a poem for workshop tomorrow, I realized I've actually written much more than I'd thought this month.  And being out of my headspace for just a few hours has made me realize that even without anything enormous and interesting coming up, I'm still having a pretty great time, and a big part of that is being surrounded by the incredible people who surround me.  I don't think my life would be half so interesting if it weren't for all these people doing such fascinating things, and I'm grateful to have them in my life, reminding me of how many new things there are left to try.

*Okay, I'm still jealous of this one.  But, Angela informs me that it should keep going throughout the next few weeks, so hopefully I'll manage to get up there during one.  Because I have wanted to see the northern lights since I was in second grade, and our trip to Iceland in January, prime northern lights time, didn't yield very good results, due to heavy cloud cover.

Friday, January 20, 2012

{This Moment}

{This Moment}

A Friday ritual inspired by Amanda Soule & many others.
Please feel free to share a link to your own moment in the comments.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cooking with Kristin: Chicken Pot Pie

And tonight, yet another meat dish - chicken pot pie!  An amusing story about chicken pot pie: while I was in England, one of my closest friends there ate a lot of frozen chicken pot pies.  We made fun of him pretty mercilessly, and eventually he started making real food, but never really lost the reputation.  Until a few months ago, when he became one of the hardest-core vegetarians I know.  One might say "fundamentalist vegetarian."  I don't think he'd approve of this recipe, but I have to say, it's seriously a lot better than frozen.  And, I think you could really easily substitute potatoes for the chicken, and not miss out on much, so keep that in mind, vegetarians.

Two quick notes: Having a food processor (pretty sure this is the model I have) made making pie crust about a thousand times easier than having a fork.  If you can get your hands on one, I think it would be a great investment.  I can't wait to make peanut butter in mine!  Also, the gravy that this makes is really, really good.  If you're vegetarian, I would highly recommend it.  It tastes as rich as any meat gravy I've ever had.  I could definitely see this tasting great and just a little different on mashed potatoes.

Photo Credit: Roger.
Pie Crust
(Adapted from How to Cook Everything, Mark Bittman)
Makes enough crust for a top and bottom pie crust, plus enough for one bottom.  I think I could have used the original recipe and had enough for the top and bottom, but I wasn't sure, so I doubled it.  We'll have dumplings tomorrow!  Also, this is really decadent crust.  I think you could easily use 3/4 or 1/3 of the butter and be perfectly satisfied.
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks frozen or cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 5 tablespoons ice water, plus more if necessary
  • 1 egg
  1. Combine the flour, salt, and sugar in the container of a food processor and pulse once or twice. Add the butter all at once; process until the mixture is uniform, about 10 seconds (do not over-process). Add the egg and process another few seconds.
  2. Put the mixture in a bowl and add 5 tablespoons ice water; mix with your hands until you can form the dough into a ball, adding another tablespoon or 2 of ice water if necessary (if you overdo it and the mixture becomes sodden, add a little more flour). Form into a ball, wrap in plastic, and freeze for 10 minutes or refrigerate for at least 30 minutes).
  3. Sprinkle your baking board with flour and put the dough on it; sprinkle the top with a little flour. Use a rolling pin to roll with light pressure, from the center out. If the dough is sticky, add a little flour (if it continues to become sticky, and it’s taking you more than a few minutes to roll it out, refrigerate or freeze again). Roll, adding flour and rotating and turning the dough as needed; use ragged edges of dough to repair any tears, adding a drop of water while you press the patch into place.
  4. Place the bottom crust into the pie-pan and place in freezer for 30 minutes or refrigerator for an hour.  Leave the top flat on the baking board while you prepare the filling.
Chicken Pot Pie Filling
(Adapted from Allrecipes)
There was a little extra gravy left over from this, which we'll use with the extra dough we have leftover, but you may want to tweak the proportions a little bit there.  Also, as I said before, this would probably taste just as good with potatoes in place of the chicken, so feel free to experiment with that, also.  Finally, the original recipe called for celery and celery seed.  I'm sure that would be delicious, but we didn't have either on hand, and the flavors were complex enough without it.
  • 1/2 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cubed
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 3/4 cups white wine
  • 2/3 cup milk
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. For chicken mixture: In a saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, and peas. Add water to cover and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and set aside.
  3. For gravy: In the saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft and translucent. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper. Slowly stir in white wine and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick. Remove from heat and set aside.
  4. Place the chicken mixture in bottom pie crust. Pour gravy over. Cover with top crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough. Make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Cooking with Kristin: I See the Stars Chili

I read a lot of food blogs, going out to fancy meals is one of my great pleasures in life, and if I can giave myself lots of time to make pretty simple recipes, I am generally a happy girl.  I'm not the world's greatest chef and I hate to do dishes, but I do sometimes have some successes.  The past few meals I've made have turned out, if I do say so myself, pretty wonderfully, so I've decided to share them with you this week.

They also involve cooking meat, which is something I've basically never done before.  I was more or less a pescatarian for several years, and I've never been too fond of raw meat, so this was an adventure for me, and I turned out to enjoy it much more than I thought I would.  In general, I try not to eat too much meat, and to eat local, sustainable meat whenever possible, and the best way to do that for me tends to be to cook vegetarian meals.  But, I'm trying to be braver in the kitchen and in life, so this past week, I experimented and made some meaty meals.

This first one, I See Stars Chili, is a Maffei Family favorite.  My mother somehow obtained the recipe* and promptly handed it to my grandmother, who cooked my family's meals when I was growing up.**  We assumed my grandmother memorized the recipe and tossed it in the trash, because after she passed away, we couldn't find it anywhere in her kitchen, and we considered it a great culinary loss, not unlike her beef-barley soup and dumpling soup.***  Luckily, my grandmother must have had some foresight, and one day, while we were looking for another recipe, we discovered I See Stars hidden away in my mother's little recipe box, safe and sound.

Being the technologically savvy family we are, we promptly scanned it in, and today, I'm sharing it with you.  It's spicy, warm, and hearty, and it goes equally well over fresh cornbread or buttery rice.  Enjoy!

*Totally unclear who she got it from.  Or who Anneleis Venus was.  Perhaps this woman?
**This was while I was a vegetarian.  I asked my grandmother to make a vegetarian version, and she happily obliged.  But when I found a piece of bacon in it and asked her about it, she said, "well, you need some meat to keep everything together!" Grandma didn't really understand vegetarianism so well.
**My mother still claims that her grandmother really made the best dumpling soup, but that recipe is also lost.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Worlds of Wonder: New York, New York

You know that I live in New York.*  If the sarcasm and feeling like I live at the center of the world didn't tip you off, probably the longing photo of the Hudson River as my header and the fact that I go to NYU did. Did you know, though, that I have basically never lived anywhere else?

I try to be more globally oriented. I <3 google maps. And also traveling.

It's true.  Sure, there were those nine or so months living in Oxford, and another two months right afterward living in Middlebury.  But, for the vast majority of my 25 (almost 26, oh my!) years on this blue planet, I've lived in New York, and the longest I've ever spent outside of this place was six months, from January - June 2007, when I was wandering in and out of England.

I used to worry about this business of never leaving the place I was born, and when I applied for college, and for grad school, and for teaching programs, and for grad school again, I mostly applied to places that weren't in New York.  And somehow, I ended up right where I always was, and somehow, it has always fit really well.

We have problems, New York and I.  Especially the city part.  I don't like the smell of urine, I don't like being afraid to take the elevators at the library, and I don't like feeling rushed.  I do still worry about what I'm missing when I'm so firmly planted in one state.  And, yeah, I'm worried about whether we'll be able to afford to stay here, and if I'll ever find a teaching job here.  But, I love seeing the Empire State Building out my office window.  I love trips upstate for wine and camping and long drives.  And I especially love feeling a part of a network, a community, and being so close to all the people I've loved for so long.  Basically, it feels like home, and I love feeling at home.

*I live in Manhattan right now, but when I say I live in New York, that I identify as a New Yorker, it isn't necessarily because I live in Manhattan (although I do feel less douchey about saying it now).  When I say New York, I usually mean the state.  If I mean Manhattan, I say "the city," which I can acknowledge is pretty annoying for people who listen to me in any other major city.  I spent my first five years in the Bronx and the next thirteen in Putnam County before making the enormous, 40 minute move to Lower Westchester for college.  I haven't ever lived upstate, but I've spent enough weekends in Albany, Greene County, and the Finger Lakes to make me feel like I've got some sense of things there, too.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Home Sweet Home

Oh man, guys.  Remember that time I said I'd post our pictures of our decorated apartment "next week"?  Well, three and a half months later, your wait is over!  Below, please find pictures of our apartment.  Roger still didn't want me to take and post them, but his pleas of "Just wait until we get our ampersand!" and "We haven't vacuumed!" fell on deaf ears.  So, if you do comment (which you should, because now I can respond!), please be kind and don't mention it if you see any dust.  And, keep in mind that we're still waiting on a wall-hanging and one last bookshelf.

Welcome to 2B!
When you first walk in, you face the living room, and the dining area is to your right.

The living room window, my favorite print, and some of our plants.

In all likelihood, the ampersand will go to the right of the hanging lamp.

Our hand-me-down coffee table, a pot from Roger's museum, our rug, my retro candy dish.

Roger's bookshelf, and his "flair"
My bookshelf and my "flair." (Roger made the sculpture.)

Another view of my bookshelf, and our family photos.

Our fancy diplomas and fancy blinds.

End table with vintage lamp and awesome coasters. They say "Time & Tide Wait for No Man."

Roger, as I am writing this, says, "Why are you promoting our apartment?" Cutie!

Our dining room. Painting by James Secor. Like most of our art.

I think this image captures our home really well.

Extra counter- and cabinet-space!

Our fridge, with a pretty accurate caricature of us.

Roger put these shelves up with his BARE HANDS.  And a screwdriver.

Cookbooks!  (Not featured: The American Girl Doll Cookbook. A classic.)

The greatest dishes known to mankind.

Where the magic happens.  All the cooking magic.

Look, I just saved you the trouble of walking down the very long hallway!
More art, this time from Kristin Palladino.

Just a quick right to the bathroom!

AKA: the only room that has been fully finished since we moved here.

Yay neutrals!

The bedroom! Big closet! Green walls!


My solid-wood furniture. AKA: Hard to move.

Possibly my favorite part of our whole house.


A funny story: In 2009, I was paid out for 4 vacation days. They just barely paid for this quilt.

LL Bean & gummy vitamins 4life!
And, there you have it, folks.  Thanks for sticking with me through this whole process, and for being so patient while I got these all posted!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

More Virginia!

Just in case you didn't get enough of our new cat last week, my good friend and photographer-extraordinaire, Erica, posted even more about her on the world's premier cat blog, Well-Tailored Suit.  Thanks for making the trip out to Harlem not once, but twice, Erica, and for doing such a great job capturing Virginia Woolf!

Friday, January 13, 2012

{This Moment}

{This Moment}

A Friday ritual inspired by Amanda Soule & many others.
Please feel free to share a link to your own moment in the comments.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Meet Virginia

Welcome, 2012!  And, welcome, Virginia Woolf,* our new cat!

We adopted her on Monday, and have since spent most of our time at home cuddling with her.  She's a five-year-old domestic shorthair, and she is the cuddliest cat I've ever met.  She likes to play with her mice, but is afraid of balls with bells in them, along with most other loud noises.  She's also more vocal than any other cat I know, but in a generally sweet way.  We love her to bits, even if I did have a brief moment of panic after seeing just how much she loves to be near us.

We were deciding between Virginia Woolf and a slightly calmer, very beautiful, Russian blue with FIV, and since VDub has spent most nights sleeping on either my or Roger's pillow, yes, I worried I'd gotten ourselves into more commitment than we could really handle.**  But, just a few days in, she's chilled out a lot, and we love her to bits.

So, now we have a little personal assistant.  So far, Virginia Woolf has helped me read, cook dinner, and, oh yes, sleep.  And I couldn't be happier to have her around.

*Yep, my idea.  She was a part of my Christmas gift from Roger, so I feel okay about hijacking her naming rights.  We were deciding between Virginia Woolf and Mrs Dalloway, but VDub just seems to fit better.  She's serious and vocal and a non-traditional beauty and once Roger's mother said that "Virginia" sounded too much like "Vagina" I was sold. 100%.
**Commitmentphobic might be a New York stereotype, but people - 15 years?  That's a long time!  We are now reconsidering whether we want to ever have children.  My friend Sarah has pointed out, though, that "you can send kids to camp."