Thursday, May 27, 2010

Quarter Life Crisis Countdown: 25 Words to Live By

I'm posting a list of 25 items each day (more like every other day) leading up to my birthday at the end of the month to celebrate 25 years of gathered wisdom and useless information.

Growing up one receives a lot of different advice. Most of it is not worth much, I find. The following are phrases/ideas I return to again and again in my day-to-day life:

1. "Life is what happens when you've made other plans." (John Lennon)

2. "Different strokes for different folks." (hmmm, Sly Stone?) or "It takes all types"

3. "If you want something done right, then you've got to do it yourself." (my mother)

4. "If you are truly present in every moment, you can experience immortality." (My professor, Rachel Crawford, said this to us in class, although she was quoting someone else. I don't remember who that was.)

5. "You can't always get what you want, and if you try sometimes you get what you need." (The Rolling Stones)

6. "Happiness is a clean home." (my mother)

7. "It's better to leave wanting more." (my mother)

8. "Humor is the flexibility of the soul." (me)

9. "Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans." (Max Ehrmann)

10. "Only you can experience the absurdity of your own life." (me)

11. "Things do not change; we change." (Henry David Thoreau)

12. "Let's not be narrow, nasty, and negative." (T.S. Eliot)

13. "Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose." (Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr)

14. "Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance." (Dave Barry)

15. "The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it." (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

16. "Everything in moderation."

17. "Admitting you are lost is the first step to finding your way." (me)

18. "Love is just bodies and words." (Ken Taylor)

19. "People don't get into trouble for telling the truth; they get into trouble for the lies they tell to avoid telling the truth." (Jonathan Mahrer)

20. "Not all who wander are lost." (J.R.R. Tolkien)

21. "We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time." (T.S. Eliot)

22. "The more I learn, the more I learn how little I know." (Socrates)

23. "I do what I want." (Bailey McAllister)

24. "Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you who you are." (Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin)

25. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." (Attributed mostly to Jesus, although I just remember my father saying it)

26. "This, too, shall pass." (Persian proverb) — including this nasty fever I'm currently suffering.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Quarter Life Crisis Countdown: 25 Things I Wanted to Be When I Grow Up

I'm posting a list of 25 items each day (more like every other day) leading up to my birthday at the end of the month to celebrate 25 years of gathered wisdom and useless information.

What do you want to be when you grow up? Here is a list of 25 things I have offered in response to that question in the last 25 years, in no particular order.

1. Circus performer
2. Travel agent
3. Artist
4. Lawyer
5. Dermatologist
6. Writer
7. Food critic
8. Nanny
10. Actress
11. Event planner
12. Singer
13. Veterinarian
14. Editor
15. DJ/producer
16. Farmer
17. Make-up Artist
18. Stage Manager
19. Music journalist
20. Mother
21. Gallery curator
22. Dancer
23. Psychologist
24. Professor
25. Flight attendant

Oh, and "princess" is one I probably shouldn't disregard.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Quarter Life Crisis Countdown: My 25 Favorite Cookbooks

I'm posting a list of 25 items each day leading up to my birthday at the end of the month to celebrate 25 years of gathered wisdom and useless information.

I have probably around 100 cookbooks to my name. Most of them I have had to leave with my parents for lack of space at my own place, but I still managed to bring about half of my entire collection with me when I moved to Austin. From the group that made the cut, I use the following books the most often:

1. Family Circle All-Time Baking Favorites (1974)
2. Lulu's Provencal Table (2002) by Richard Olney — given to me by my aunt, Cynthia Cornell.
3. The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters — given to me by my friend, Ann Carmel.
4. The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook (1999) by Ina Garten — given to me by my friend, Scottie Brown.
5. The Gourmet Cookbook (1950)
6. The Joy of Cooking (1962) by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker
7. The Williams-Sonoma Collection: Cookies — given to me by my father, Craig McAllister.
8. Feast by Nigella Lawson — given to me by my friend, Virginia Graham.
9. Fondue is In (1970) — I have very little information about this one, but the title should say it all.
10. San Francisco Chronicle Cookbook Volume 2 (2001)
11. Quick and Easy (2004) by Martin Yan
12. Magic Chef Cooking by Dorothy E. Shank for the American Stove Company (1936) — I think this is the oldest cookbook I own. It uses phrases such as "Lemon meringue pie is the acme of deliciousness."
13. Cakes Men Like (1992) by Benjamin Darling — given to me by my uncle, Jud Brooks.
14. The Dessert Cookbook (Southern Living, 1971)
15. This Can't Be Tofu! by Deborah Madison— I think I jacked this from my mom.
16. The Cordon Bleu Cookbook by Dione Lucas — inherited from my late grandmother, Susan W. Humphreys.
17. Old Boston Fare in Food & Pictures by Cynthia and Jerome Ruben — given to me by my friend, Maura Kelly.
18. White Trash Gatherings (2006) by Kendra Bailey Morris — given to me by my uncle, Keith McAllister.
19. Betty Crocker's Cooky Book — I was given this newer edition of a cookie book we used throughout my childhood by my mother, Suzanne McAllister.
20. Bruce Aidell's Complete Book of Pork — given to me by the Sausage King himself.
21. The Sauces and Salsas Cookbook by Christine France
22. Drinkology: The Art and Science of the Cocktail  — given to me by my friend, Katie Marshall.
23. Covered in Honey (2003) by Mani Niall
24. Grilled Cheese: 50 Recipes to Make You Melt (2004) by Marlena Spieler
25. My own recipe journal, containing notes and illustrations from ongoing kitchen experimentation and what I've learned from my mother and culinary school.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Quarter Life Crisis Countdown: 25 Favorite Music Videos

I'm posting a list of 25 items each day leading up to my birthday at the end of the month to celebrate 25 years of gathered wisdom and useless information.

Here is a list of some of my favorite music videos of all time. I'll probably leave something out! One thing I can guarantee you is that there is no Nirvana in here.

1. Talking Heads—"Once in a Lifetime"
This may be the first video I ever saw.

2. Simian Mobile Disco—"Hustler"
This video reminds me of most Tuesday nights.

3. Peter Gabriel — "Sledge Hammer"
This is an amazing musical collage from one of the '80s great eccentrics.

4. Bat for Lashes — "What's a Girl to Do?"
I will forever be in awe of BfL leading lady Natasha Khan's combined beauty and mystery, as demonstrated perfectly in this video for one of her early singles.

5. Michael Jackson— "Black or White"
I could really do without the corny Culkin-infused intro on this classic video, but the last 30 seconds are fantastic (and were probably twice as impressive when the video first came out).

6. Yelle —"A Cause de Garcons (TEPR Remix)"
In my final year of college (which was not so long ago), I must have watched this video a million times. The remix is catchy, the moves ("techtonique") were frenetic — and impossible to replicate comfortably.

7. Aphex Twin—"Windowlicker"
This video for crafty experimental glitch producer Aphex Twin is one of the weirdest music videos you'll ever see. It's grotesque and danceable; street and arthouse. Not for the kiddies...

8. Michael Jackson — "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough"
I doubt anyone will hate me for including two from the King of Pop. The video matches the mood of the song perfectly: Jackson disco thrusting around a green-screen fantasy of juke-box rainbows and ambiguously lit marbles. The video makes me feel... well, it just makes me feel so—wwoooooOOOOH!

9. Tears for Fears— "Head over Heels"
Is it just me or could the librarian in this classic '80s vid pass for the next Vice "it" girl?

10. Digitalism—"Pogo"
This is like when your apartment dance party really starts to heat up and someone decides to take it to the next level by flicking the light switch on and off.

Digitalism - Pogo

11. MGMT—"Time to Pretend"
This fresh eye candy from bright-eyed electro-pop duo MGMT revived my faith in the music video during what I perceived to be a dry spell.

12. Air — "Sexy Boy"
I love the integrated cutesy cartoons in this one. The video is subtle; a sweet (as in precious) contrast to the grungy sensuality of the song itself.

13. Air — "Kelly Watch the Stars"
Air has taken a simple concept (a ping-pong match) and made it psychedelic and still managed to give it a story. Beautiful cinematography.

14. Beck—"Loser"
Beck likes to have fun with videos, and he's created some good ones during the breadth of his career. Still, I had to come back to this slacker-cool gem of a video that jump-started his career.

15. U2— "Mysterious Ways"
It's a miracle that this video didn't make me nauseated trying to dance along to it as a three year old.

16. Benoit Pioulard—"Idyll"
One of the shorter ones I've encountered, this video pairs retro song craft with matching vintage clips.

17. Blind Melon—"No Rain"
Who didn't love that pathetic bumblebee girl back in the '90s?

18. Bjork—"All is Full of Love"
Bjork provides a sexier vision of the future here. It's a good example of when a beautiful song meets an interesting visual concept and it hits the spot.

19. Chromeo—"Needy Girl"
I thank my sister for introducing me to Chromeo last decade. The white-dominant color scheme is a path not often chosen in music videos.

20. Joe Jackson—"Steppin' Out"
This song will always remind me of my dad. It's one of his favorite songs, and he always talks about how ugly Joe Jackson is.

21. Massive Attack—"Massive Attack"
I'm not really sure why I like this one. I can't tell if it's creepy or sweet.

22. M.I.A. —"Galang"
OMG it took me about five views to process the intense level of coolness exhibited in this M.I.A. vid. Those moves! Those outfits! The spray-painted warfare! I didn't know what to do with this information. I just... wanted... to be her.

23. Lady Gaga— "Poker Face"
Ya feelin' me?

24. Cooler Kids—"Punk Debutante"
As a 13-year-old, this song showed me how to be both punky and cute at the same time. The lead singer is not a hag, either.

25. Daft Punk— "Around the World"
This video couldn't have come at a better time. My eardrums were being flooded with the likes of Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears on the radio and at school dances, so it was some minor relief to stumble upon this catchy, stupidly simple electronic song with matching quirky video (directed by M. Gondry).

Monday, May 17, 2010

Quarter Life Crisis Countdown: Juicy Words That I Rarely Get to Use

I'm posting a list of 25 items each day leading up to my birthday at the end of the month to celebrate 25 years of gathered wisdom and useless information.

People who know me know that I love words. In fact, friends sometimes heckle me about the strange or antiquated language that sneaks into my day-to-day vocab. Still, there are many 20-dollar words that I wish I could use more often. Here are a few (click to view the definition):

1. Pulchritudinous
2. Asinine
3. Creosote
4. Snafu
5. Inveigle
6. Ampersand
7. Kibitzer
8. Daffy
9. Cerulean
10. Salacious
11. Ziggurat
12. Loquacious
13. Wassail
14. Bizcocho
15. Shuriken
16. Boodle
17. Hireling
18. Flotsam
19. Plenipotentiary
20. Nubile
21. Deleterious
22. Somnambular
23. Intestacy
24. Trollop
25. Xylem
26. Lulu: n. "One that is remarkable or wonderful" ('nuff said?)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Quarter Life Crisis Countdown: Hangover Remedies

I'm posting a list of 25 items each day leading up to my birthday at the end of the month to celebrate 25 years of gathered wisdom and useless information.

By the time you become a quarter centurion you have probably suffered your share of hangovers (I have, anyway). Here is a collection of tips culled from my experience (or my friends' experiences) with a few rough mornings after the bottle:

1. Try to drink an equal amount of water to offset the dehydrating effects of the alcohol you're consuming while you are still out and about. If you are of the mind to remember to do so, drink a tall glass of water and take an Advil before you go to bed. The very minute you wake up—no matter when, no matter how much it hurts—get up and drink another tall glass of water and take another Advil. Now you can go back to sleep. When you get up for good, try the following tonic:

2. Lulu's Tonic
I'm no doctor, but I'm pretty sure this helps...

4 oz. Aloe juice (the straight stuff... not the bright green sugary stuff)
4 oz. Coconut water
2-3 Tablespoons of wheatgrass powder
1 packet of raspberry Emergen-C (or your preferred flavor)

Stir it all up and drink pretty quickly. Repeat up to three times over the course of the day, as needed.

3. Eat cabbage. Cabbage is good for headaches. Maybe try to sneak some into a breakfast hash.
4. Drink kombucha. It actually contains a small amount of alcohol (a natural biproduct of the fermentation process), so it's kind of like a hair-of-the-dog situation, but it also comes with some electrolytes and good bacteria to replace the ones you killed with alcohol the night before.
5. Drink herbal tea. Peppermint will help soothe an upset stomach and ginger is good for digestion. Lemon is clarifying and good for detox.
6. Don't mix alcohol. Moving from champagne to gin to tequila to cheap beer is going to make for a nasty cocktail in your stomach.
7. Try some tinctures. To about 1 oz. of warm water add a dropper of echinacea, a dropper of ginseng (for energy), and a dropper of dandelion extract (for the liver).
8. Have a "hair of the dog" that bit you. I must admit that this strategy is totally not for me, but I have plenty of friends that swear by it.
9. If standing up is too unbearable, at least prop your head up with a few pillows to limit the amount of blood rushing to your head.
10. Listen to mellow classical music. It stimulates the brain without overwhelming it.
11. Tug lightly on your earlobes. There are a number of stress-relieving pressure points in the ear.
12. Do yoga. Gentle exercise will let you sweat out some of the alcohol without taxing the body too much while it's still in recovery mode.
13. Put a lavender-filled pillow in the freezer and then place it across your eyes.
14. Watch brainless television to distract yourself from the pain.
15. If you have time to spare, you could always sleep off the hangover. Otherwise:
16. Take a cold shower.
17. If you have to snap-to despite the hangover, make sure to take a nap later in the day. Drunken sleep is actually not a very restful sleep, regardless of how zonked you felt heading off to bed the night before.
18. Drink a sports drink (like Gatorade or Smart Water) to replenish electrolytes.
19. Take some Vitamin B(6).
20. I'd prefer to eat an egg integrated into my breakfast, but you could always streamline your attack and down a few raw eggs. Crack the eggs into a glass with some water and down the hatch!
21. Have a few slices of apple dipped in peanut butter. The peanut butter is a good source of protein and the apples are easy to digest.
22. Drink pickle or olive juice.
23. Take an Alka Seltzer tablet in water or drink some sparkling water to relieve nausea.
24. Get a massage. Maybe you can convince a friend to rub your back if you promise to get them back the next time they miss the mark drink-wise. Otherwise, what better time to treat yourself to a professional massage? Unless you are feeling nauseated...

I feel compelled to reiterate that I'm not a doctor just to cover myself. Try these remedies at your own risk. Lastly:

25. Know your limits and try to adhere to them when you're out on the town next time so that you don't repeat this mistake— good luck!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Quarter Life Crisis Countdown: Food I Want to Eat When I Visit San Francisco

I'm posting a list of 25 items each day leading up to my birthday at the end of the month to celebrate 25 years of gathered wisdom and useless information.

If I wanted to grab a bite to eat at all my favorite food stops during a visit to San Francisco, I'd probably just have to move back there. My friend Clark asked me for this list a while ago. So here you are—long overdue—some places (and their best offerings) on my SF food-lover's shortlist:

1. Xiao Long Bao at Shanghai Noodle House
2. Tofu sandwich at Little Vietnam Cafe
3. Fried pumpkin at Ploy II Thai Cuisine
4. Egg puffs and Thai iced tea with tapioca or fresh watermelon juice at Genki
5. Cold sesame soba noodles at Mifune
6. Indian-style pizza at Zante
7.  A mixed platter (complete with spongy injera bread) at Assab Eritrean Cuisine
8. Ceviche, fried yuccas with salsa huancaina, chupe de camarones, and a pisco sour at La Mar
9. Pasta at Vivande (R.I.P.)
10. Deep dish pizza at Little Star Pizza
11. Thin crust pizza at Pizzetta 211
12. Whatever they tell me to get at House of Nanking
13. Mac 'n' cheese and birthday cake from DeLessio Market
14. Eggs Benedict and a mimosa at Zazie
15. Fried peach hand-pie from From Hollow Farm
16. Bonbolones (filled with raspberry jam, vanilla custard, or Nutella) at I Preferiti di Boriana
17. Seafood chowder and coconut cream pie from Cafe Maritime
18. Oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co
19. Lobster Roll at Woodhouse Fish Co.
20. A glass of red at Blush, a glass of white at Wine Bar, and a flute of champagne at EOS Wine Bar
21. Oolong tea tasting at Aroma
22. Traditional tea service at Lovejoy's
23. Untraditional tea service at Samovar
24. Carnitas taco from La Taqueria
25. Lucuma ice cream from Mitchell's
26. Salted caramel ice cream from Bi-Rite Creamery & Bakeshop
27. Truffled chevre, aloe juice with wheat grass, and those naughty little locally made shortbread-caramel-chocolate bars with a name that escapes me right now at Bi-Rite Grocery
28. Banana milkshake from Whiz Burger
29. Milk chocolate milkshake from Bittersweet
30. The roasted veggie platter and accompanying dips at Herbivore
31. Tuesday shredded Mediterranean chicken sandwich, dolma, hummus, and a sesame cookie at Twilight Cafe
32. Hot chocolate with marshmallows from Recchiuti Chocolatier
33. Shortbread and meringues from Miette
34. Burger at Q Restaurant and Wine Bar
35. Pancakes at Toast
36. A samosa and mango chicken noodles or fish chowder with fresh coconut juice at Yamo
37. Late night french fries or charcuterie plate and pint of Thunderpussy from Magnolia Gastropub and Brewery
38. Cowgirl Creamery Redhawk cheese to go with my
39. Ciabbata from Acme Bread
40. Tamales from the Tamale Lady to go with my Anchor Steam at Zeitgeist
41. Spaetzle at Suppenkuche
42. A morning gougere or 5 p.m. olive bread from Tartine
43. Pupusas from El Zocalo
44. Falafel pita from Good Frickin' Chicken
45. Plato tipico at Balompie Cafe
46. Cafe mocha from Blue Bottle Coffee Co
47. Tamarind prawns at Mangosteen
48. Wild boar sausage at Rosamunde Sausage Grill
49. Bay Area beignet and deviled eggs at The Elite Cafe
50. Bar nuts and a Southern Exposure at The Alembic

Ok, so I went over 25 items this time. That ought to keep you busy for a little while, Clark...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Quarter Life Crisis Countdown: Things I Can't Live Without

I'm posting a list of 25 items each day leading up to my birthday at the end of the month to celebrate 25 years of gathered wisdom and useless information.

These are my creature comforts. Sure, some of these things I can live without, but would I ever want to? Again, in no particular order:

1. Ockie (That's short for "Oinky"— my stuffed pig and oldest friend)
2. My computer (and the Internet, for that matter)
3. Fresh fruit and vegetables
4. Time spent with animals (Lucy, preferably)
5. Chocolate
6. Music (live, new, strange, sweet, old...)
7. Comfortable footwear (to offset all the times I choose to wear cool, uncomfortable footwear)

8. Water (obviously for drinking, but also for swimming and landscape relief)
9. Pockets
10. Comic relief (from funny people like Liz Carroll, Thomas Madden, Ellen DeGeneres...)
11. Duct tape and push pins
12. A seasoned frying pan
13. Neosporin
14. AC
15. Emollient chapstick
16. Creative downtime
17. Soft natural light (harsh artificial lighting is one of my biggest dislikes)
18. Mascara
19. My camera
20. A good confidant
21. American Apparel underwear (colorful, comfortable)

22. The ring my mother gave me when I turned 18 (given to her by her mother when she was 18)
23. Romance
24. Bass (I can hang with punk guitar, but I was raised on bass)
25. Variety

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Quarter Life Crisis Countdown: Things to Love about Austin

I'm posting a list of 25 items each day leading up to my birthday at the end of the month to celebrate 25 years of gathered wisdom and useless information.

I've lived in Austin for almost four months. I loved it before I decided to move here and I love it even more now that I live here. Here is just a sampling of what's good in and around the ATX, in no particular order:

1. Heat (Austin has it in spades)
2. Bluebonnets
3. Lone Star beer
4. Alamo Draft House
5. BBQ (in Austin, this means smoked brisket)
6. Barton Springs
7. Cowboy boots
8. Sandra Bullock (owns a local watering hole, an upscale deli with the best pastrami sandwich in town, and a bistro)
9. Breakfast tacos
10. Two-step
11. Street misprunawnciations, y'all (i.e. Manchaca = Machack; Pedernales = Purduhnawlus; Guadalupe = Guadaloop, etc...)
12. Whole Foods
13. The Austin experimental art scene
14. Sweet tea
15. Follow That Bird! (I would also say Neon Indian, but he moved to Brooklyn with the rest of 'em)

17. Dai Due
18. Waterloo Records
19. Red River Street
20. The Frost Building

21. BookPeople
22. Boggy Creek Farm
23. South Congress
24. Burnet Rd. thrift stores (especially if you're looking for mid-century modern)
25. Austinites (quite possibly the friendliest weirdos in the world)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Quarter Life Crisis Countdown: Kitchen Staples

I'm posting a list of 25 items each day leading up to my birthday at the end of the month to celebrate 25 years of gathered wisdom and useless information.

I'll begin with a place of great importance to me: the kitchen. In a financial pinch,  I can still whip up something tasty as long as I have the following items in my pantry:

1. Lemons (I actually prefer the taste of limes, but they are smaller and often more expensive)
2. Parmesan
4. Sesame oil
6. Vegetable stock (I usually make my own)
7. Ginger
8. Garlic
9. Honey (which my mother has kindly sent me from her own bees in San Diego — Thanks, Mom!)
10. Cinnamon
11. Nutmeg
12. Salt
13. Pepper
14. Eggs
17. Jam
18. Balsamic vinegar
19. Dried herbs (such as sage, rosemary, and thyme — dried parsley does nothing for me)
21. Soy Sauce
22. Pasta
23. Cabbage (lasts for an eternity)
25. Champagne and chocolate (tastes good in any economy)