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December 30, 2009

Broccoli alla Claudia

Yummy Broccoli

My aunt served this on Christmas, and it just looked like normal broccoli, but then we tasted it and were basically "OMG THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER" and she was all "I KNOW, RIGHT?" Or, you know, something like that. So I made her describe what she did to it, and last night I tried my best to replicate it. Here's what you do!

Put a bunch of olive oil in a large saute pan. Add a bag of frozen broccoli florets. (She was very firm in the fact that they had to be florets, not some other cut of broccoli. I'm not sure why it's so important, but I believe her.) You can let them thaw at room temperature for a while, or just add them frozen - it will just take a little longer to cook if they're frozen. Don't microwave them first or anything. Okay, so add the broccoli and a bunch of garlic. My aunt used whole cloves, but I used minced, and it's fine either way. Turn the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring periodically, until the broccoli is almost cooked.

When the broccoli is almost done, add a little more olive oil and some black pepper, red pepper flakes, and sea salt. (Or did she say kosher salt? I'm not sure. I used sea salt because that's what I had.) Stir it a bunch, and keep cooking. You want to almost overcook this. Cook until the bright green has faded and gotten a bit dull. I KNOW. I usually like my broccoli to stay bright green and crisp too. But for this recipe, you really do want to cook it into submission. When the green has faded, turn off the heat and enjoy! It's good hot, room temperature, or cold, so it's great to serve in a buffet or something, or to do ahead when you're having company. Yum.

Posted by Kat at 06:38 AM | Comments (1)

December 27, 2009

Do more.

Over the past few days, I've started thinking about New Year's Resolutions, and goals and intentions for 2010 more generally. And I realized that most of them come down to doing more of something. Read more. Write more. Blog more. Knit more. See more films. Cook more. Clean more. Exercise more. Entertain more. These are all good goals, in and of themselves, but taken together, a problem emerges. You see, they all basically require time. And the issue, of course, is that I just listed nine things off the top of my head on which I want to spend more time, but I'm having trouble coming up with anything on which I want to spend less time. And all this time has to come from somewhere. So. I don't know. I have no great insight or solution to this. I'm just throwing it out there. Ideas, anyone?

Posted by Kat at 09:10 PM | Comments (2)

December 26, 2009

I have to admit...

I am kind of relieved that Christmas is over.

I know this is weird for me, since I'm usually such a Christmas fan, but this year . . . I don't know. I was just ready to be done. And please don't misunderstand - Christmas has been very nice, and I've had a great visit with my family. But now I'm looking forward to getting back to normal life.

I'm also exhausted, which is why you're getting this instead of a review of the movie I just saw or the book I just read or something. Sorry.

Posted by Kat at 10:00 PM | Comments (0)

December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I hope you're all having a great day. Real post tomorrow!

Posted by Kat at 07:46 PM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2009

Hey Glee fans...

If you haven't yet seen this video made by Mark Salling (Puck) about how much he loves working on Glee... well, you should. It's adorable.

Posted by Kat at 09:26 AM | Comments (0)

December 18, 2009

Christmas Song Roundup: "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"

My father recently proclaimed that this was his favorite Christmas song. Who knew? Certainly not any of us! So this one is for him. The classic version, of course, is Judy Garland in Meet Me in St. Louis:

But this, of course, is the version I grew up with, from the incomparable Christmas Eve on Sesame Street:

And, of course, Kermit and Miss Piggy sing it in the much-overlooked but classic Muppet Family Christmas. I couldn't find it on its own, but it starts about 1:50 into this clip:

This won't embed, but it's Frank Sinatra singing, set to scenes from Love, Actually.

And let's end with a little Ella:

Posted by Kat at 07:37 AM | Comments (1)

December 17, 2009

Five Christmas Songs I HATE

As I've mentioned, I am generally a big fan of holiday music. But there are a few songs I completely loathe and despise. Let me tell you about them.

5. "Baby, It's Cold Outside"
This one is a classic, and I will readily admit that I love the music. I mean, Frank Loesser! Ella Fitzgerald did it all the way back in 1949! But have you listened to the lyrics? Let's just say that after hearing this ALL THE TIME while working at Borders, I started calling it "the date rape song."

4. "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer"
I think there are two types of people: those who find that song title amusing, and those who find it completely traumatic and uncomfortable and want to run screaming. I am in the latter camp. Obviously. I don't think I've ever even listened to this whole song, because the entire concept just freaks me out so much. I just read through the lyrics - just for you - and . . . yeah. I do not understand why this is funny. At all.

3. "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"
For this song to work, at least one of the following must be true:
1. Santa is not real.
2. Santa is an adulterer.
CLEARLY neither of those can be true. Therefore, this song will not be tolerated.

2. "The Christmas Shoes"
So a few weeks ago, my boss e-mailed me saying "I found this great new version of The Christmas Shoes. It's much better than the original. Listen to it." So I said "Okay!" and went off to listen. It took me about thirty seconds to remember that my issue with the original had nothing to do with the music - it's the lyrics. It's so theologically and narratively questionable that I'm not even sure where to start, but here are a few of my issues:
1. Why does this kid know his mother's shoe size?
2. Why shoes? That seems bizarre. Why not a pretty dress or scarf or necklace or something? Shoes? Really?
3. Why is this child wandering around alone, all dirty? Even if the father is at the hospital with the mother, say, surely he thought to have someone supervise his child.
4. Okay, so one of the big supposedly heartwarming themes is that the mother needs the shoes to look pretty if she "meets Jesus tonight." One option here is that the songwriters thought that Jesus would actually care what someone is wearing. This is clearly preposterous, although supposedly they wrote the song in four minutes, so who knows. I guess the other option is that we're supposed to think it's cute that the kid thinks it would matter, but - if he's old enough to know his mother's shoe size, and clearly has some sort of religious background - he's talking about his mother "meeting Jesus," after all - isn't he old enough to be familiar with one of the most elementary tenets of Christianity: that clothes and outward appearances don't matter?
I mean, I get that the POINT is supposed to be that the boy is just thinking about his mother, and that prompts the adult narrator to think about the meaning of Christmas and to help the kid out. But the whole "mother dying" thing just complicates matters. I think the piece would have been stronger if the child was just recognizing all the sacrifices his mother had made and wanting to get her something nice, without the whole illness thing. And also! The dying mother angle - which supposedly is part of what reminds the narrator "what Christmas is all about" - seems like much more of a Resurrection thing than an Incarnation thing. The Resurrection is important, of course, but that's not what Christmas is all about, exactly. (I am similarly baffled by my neighbors who have a large cross on their roof made out of Christmas lights.) I am all for keeping my Solemnities separate.

1. "Dominick the Donkey"
Is this a national phenomenon, or is it a Boston thing? In any case, this has been on the radio constantly the past few Christmases. Yesterday was the first time I ever listened to the whole thing (in preparation for this post), because I usually just slam the radio off as quickly as possible when it comes on. Apparently it has been around since 1960 and is "traditionally popular with Italian families," but, um, not my Italian family. (Is there anything in Italian Christmas tradition about this donkey that precedes this song? I couldn't find anything, but I didn't have time to do tons of research. It certainly doesn't look like La Befana, the traditional Italian gift-bringer, has a donkey.) I could make a case for how this is offensive to Italians or Democrats or, heck, Dominican friars or something, but honestly, my main problem with this song is just that it's SO FREAKING ANNOYING.

Posted by Kat at 06:16 AM | Comments (2)

December 16, 2009

RIP John Spencer

Today is the fourth anniversary of John Spencer's death, which means it is, by tradition, Quote Leo McGarry Day. A little backstory: during the New Hampshire primary campaign in 2007, a friend told me that then-Senator Obama was the candidate who most reminded her of Jed Bartlet. I hadn't started watching The West Wing yet, but once I did, I began to understand what she meant. (FWIW, said friend has never seen the later seasons, so she doesn't know about Matt Santos.) In that spirit:

"Because I'm tired of it. Year, after year, after year, after year, having to choose between the lesser of who cares. Of trying to get myself excited about a candidate who can speak in complete sentences. Of setting the bar so low I can hardly look at it. They say a good man can't get elected. Well, I don't believe that."


"The President's nothing if not contemplative, Senator. The man makes the Prince of Denmark seem reactionary."

Honestly, though, given the current state of things in the Senate, I need to throw in a few quotes from Josh Lyman, too.

"LBJ never would've taken this kind of crap from Democrats in Congress. He'd have said, 'You're voting my way, in exchange for which, it is possible that I might remember your name, pal.' We need to win. And I mean win. We need to take a curtain call and a victory lap. And that's how we get momentum. We get it by being tough. We give away nothing."

Someone should give this message to a few Senators:

"See, you won with 52 percent, but the President took your district with 59. And I think it's high time we come back and say thanks. Do you have any idea how much noise Air Force One makes when it lands in Eau Claire, Wisconsin? We're gonna have a party, Congressman. You should come; it's gonna be great. And when the watermelon's done, right in town square, right in the band gazebo. You guys got a band gazebo? Doesn't matter; we'll build one. Right in the band gazebo, that's where the President is going to drape his arm around the shoulder of some assistant D.A. we like. And you should have your camera with you, you should get a picture of that, 'cause that's gonna be the moment you're finished in Democratic politics. President Bartlet's a good man, he's got a good heart, he doesn't hold a grudge. That's what he pays me for."

And, really:

"You know, I'm so sick of Congress I could vomit."
Posted by Kat at 06:56 PM | Comments (4)

Wednesday Randoms! Holiday Prep Edition

1. My Christmas shopping is officially done. Just don't ask about the knitting or the baking or the cleaning.

2. Oh, or the cards. I bought them but haven't actually written any yet. Query: How much postage does it take for a regular card to go from the US to Canada?

3. I think I am actually OUT OF BUTTER. That never happens. That's how much I've been baking.

4. I took all of next week off, though, so I only have three work days left before Christmas. That's pretty awesome.

5. Deweykitten has been obnoxious the past few days. I can't figure out what his issue is. Maybe he's sick of all the knitting and baking and wants some attention?

6. Are there some sort of gremlins in my laundry hamper? I can NEVER get caught up. Never. And I live alone. This seems preposterous.

7. Oooh, we have a 2012 presidential hopeful visiting New Hampshire today. Hee. I love my state.

8. I like how the local weather thing on the local morning show (yes, we only have one major network in NH) is called "Storm Watch 9" even when there's no storm in sight.

9. Okay, now I'm just rambling. I should go knit something. Bye!

Posted by Kat at 06:08 AM | Comments (1)

December 09, 2009

Orrin Hatch wrote a Hanukkah song?

Orrin Hatch? Really? Apparently. I . . . don't even know what to say about this.

Eight Days of Hanukkah from Tablet Magazine on Vimeo.

(Via Ezra Klein.)

Posted by Kat at 05:45 PM | Comments (1)

December 08, 2009

Snowy Sunday

We got our first real snow of the season over the weekend, so I took some pictures for you while my car was warming up on the way to church Sunday morning.

The house is prettiest in the snow:

Snowy Sunday 8

"It's always been one of my dreams to live near a brook."*

Snowy Sunday 6

The "snow-covered mailbox" thing is pretty and all, but it would be better if my mailbox closed the whole way. This way the mail just gets all wet.

Snowy Sunday 4

They are talking about building dozens of houses down past my house this way, but this time of year it's mostly just hunters who go down there. I'm surprisingly okay with hunting in general, but guys walking down the middle of my road with guns always kind of freaks me out.

Snowy Sunday 2

Really, this whole set could be called "Why I Live in New Hampshire."

Snowy Sunday 1

Directly across the street:

Snowy Sunday 3

It was the nice heavy kind of snow that stays on the trees. (And causes power outages, but that's a different issue.)

Snowy Sunday 7

This sort of down-the-road shot always reminds me of a shot in the credits of something. Avonlea, maybe?

Snowy Sunday 5

* I was going to offer bonus points to whomever got the quote, but, really - Hi there, Rachel! (And Courtney?)

Posted by Kat at 07:34 AM | Comments (2)

December 07, 2009

Christmas Song Roundup: "Little Saint Nick"

This one is for my cousin Liz, who claims to have never heard a Beach Boys Christmas song. How awful for her! :)

It's a great song, but really, the main thing I associate with it is standing in a long holiday shopping line with my dad - K-Mart, maybe? Toys 'R' Us? Not sure. I was maybe nine. This song came on, and he explained the concept of a truism to me using the line "Christmas comes this time each year." I now think of that conversation every single time I hear this song. Which is frequently, because it's on the radio all the time. So I contend that Liz must have heard it and just not realized. Just saying.

And, of course, it was used in what was possibly the best commercial ever:

Now, I am usually the first to protest that penguins and polar bears live on opposite poles and therefore are not wont to frolic together. But, as my best friend pointed out the first time we saw this commercial, it packs an awful lot of things I love into a minute: Christmas! The Beach Boys! Coca-Cola! Penguins! Adorable baby animals! It's nothing short of brilliant, really.

Posted by Kat at 06:51 AM | Comments (2)

December 06, 2009

O Tannenbaum

Complete with sleeping kitten:

Christmas Tree 2009

Posted by Kat at 05:56 PM | Comments (0)

December 04, 2009

Christmas Song Roundup: "Elf's Lament"

One of my absolute favorite modern Christmas songs is "Elf's Lament" from the Barenaked Ladies album Barenaked for the Holidays. It's hilarious and clever, and hey, pro-union! I'm all for combining progressive politics with traditional Christmas stuff. The album version includes Michael Buble, but unfortunately I couldn't find a version on YouTube that included him. This live version is pretty good, though:

Posted by Kat at 11:26 PM | Comments (0)

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