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fly girl

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LJ 18th anniversary [Apr. 25th, 2017|08:42 am]
fly girl

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A New Discovery [Aug. 4th, 2015|09:32 am]
fly girl
ZERO MOTIVATION: a film about a group of young women stuck at an IDF base somewhere in the dessert, to put in their two years of military service. A movie about boredom and motivation and happenstance. Cute actors. I could barely make out any Hebrew, which made me sad. There’s also a “Russian” character, and I was surprised that Eric caught on before it was made explicit in the film. Very apolitical, which in the current climate may come as a surprise, but shouldn’t. The days of ideology are mostly offer in the secular, younger portion of Israeli society. Serving in the IDF isn’t about self-sacrifice, it’s just something that has to be completed, like the SATs. And that’s just human nature. Even Iran seems to be tired of self-sacrifice these days. The revolutionary generation gives way to the more airheaded one, whose priorities are Minesweeper, not minesweeping.

Anyway, it’s on Netflix, so give it a whirl.

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Theater [Jun. 29th, 2015|01:29 pm]
fly girl
Last Thursday I went to see Rozenstein and Guildenstern Are Dead at the Folgers Shakespear Library theater. Partly, I really wanted to check out the theater (it’s so close to us) and partly I was curious about the play. Did not know anything about it, pretty much, and it felt like a gap in cultural knowledge. Of course, I could have watched the movie version, but I figured, hey, theater going is a different kind of experience.

To sum up, the play was interesting but harsh, and the audience was, as ever, rather aged. The two main leads were interesting, but the meta-metaness kinda got to me, a little. When the playwright is navel-gazing, then the experience of watching makes you a voyeur, and at certain points you get the sense that you’re the necessary but obnoxious fool, and that the theater people would be much better off if they didn’t have you to worry about. Like, the paucity of the content of current theater productions is the audience’s fault, ditto the actors’ financial paucity, ditto their performance skills. But maybe I’m just being too sensitive. As for my friend Andrea, she was disappointed by the ending. (I thought it went hand-in-hand with the rest of the play.) Nevertheless, I do still like the *idea* that the play is based on. Just wish it wasn’t so entirely vicious, fatalistic, and self-involved. Perhaps because I wasn’t in the mood for that just then. Tom Stoppard was 25 when he wrote it, which makes sense. It’s full of a young person’s flippant dismissal of real feelings. I’m maybe either too old for that, or not old enough yet.
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A True Story (I'm Finally Brave Enough to Do Dialogue) [Jun. 4th, 2015|09:59 am]
fly girl
I turn around and there’s Vika, hanging off the handle of the massive refrigerator (built in, but still).

“Hey, don’t do that!”

Zero response.

“Vika!!!!” I shriek. She lets go and stands there, watching me.

“Did you know that this whole thing could collapse on top of you?” I motion with my arms, mimicking the fridge tipping over. “And you’ll be—splat—all gone. No more Vika.”

“That’s okay, mama, you’ll just get another one.”

“Another Vika? Are you kidding me? I don’t want another one. Do you know how much effort it takes, to get to a halfway reasonable 5.5-year-old? First you make a baby . . .”

“How?”

OOPS. “. . . and you can’t drink and eat whatever you like, when your baby’s in your belly, and then you have to give birth.”

“And it hurts?”

“Yeah, it hurts.” Any way you slice it (PUN INTENDED). “Then you have to nurse the baby and change its diapers, and teach the baby how to talk.”

“You teach the baby to talk when it’s one year old?”

“No, actually you have to start from birth, you gotta spend a year teaching them. It’s hard work!”

“Mama, can I look at the pictures of when I was a baby?”

She comes over to sit next to me and we look at what I’ve got in my FB photos folder, and there it is, a baby picture, and for a minute we both try to convince ourselves to believe that the baby in the photograph bears any relation to the current Vika, but it doesn’t feel right at all, and then she gets distracted by the pictures from our Mexico trip, her and Ilan arm in arm, and then it’s time for the interminable struggle of getting her unglued from my phone.
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Dacha [Oct. 21st, 2014|02:46 pm]
fly girl

My mom’s father was a turner, or a machinist, who spent most of his life working at the Luch Footwear Factory in Minsk. According to family lore, he started working at ten, to help support his family, and had to stand on top of a box to reach the machinery. I have no idea if this is actually true; this would have been sometime around 1929.

         Sometime in the 1950s or 1960s, the factory was given a parcel of land out in the countryside and set up a community of small plots; employees were given a chance to purchase a plot for their family for a small fee (no idea how much, but my grandparents didn’t have a whole lot of cash) and to build a house and garden. I also have no idea how many people took advantage, but the subdevelopment was quickly filled. My grandfather built a little two-bedroom house with a dug-out cellar, an attic, a small kitchen serviced by a giant propane gas tank, and an outhouse with a makeshift shower and a tool shed. There was no sewer system, but there was access to clean water—the tap was outdoors, neither in the shower nor in the kitchen, but it was way more convenient than schlepping water from the water tower. There was electricity, too, and a wood stove for heating. There were a few other similar subdevelopments nearby, but also the woods and a village. A dirt road connected to the faster one-lane “highway” and the commuter train line into Minsk.

         My great-grandparents, still alive and relatively healthy up until the 1980s, spent the entire summer out at the “dacha.” The working people came on weekends, and during their month of vacation. There was a lot of gardening to be done, and the family grew to depend on the canned and preserved fruits and vegetables during the winter months. By the time I was around, the dacha was being shared by two great-grandparents, two grandparents, three daughters, two sons-in-law, and four grandchildren. My family had the smaller of the bedrooms to ourselves. Everyone else shared the bigger bedroom that also doubled as the living room, with a decrepit TV and a whole variety of beds.

         Things that we harvested on our plot: apples, plums, pears, raspberries, gooseberries, black and red currants, strawberries, potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, carrots, onions, garlic, dill, cauliflower, sorrel, and a variety of flowers.

         Favorite summertime activities: picking mushrooms and berries, swimming at the small pond within the subdevelopment property, playing endless rounds of dominos or cards. Bicycling around the subdevelopment and making friends with the other kids. Spending entire days away from home, completely unattended, returning home for dinner. The only thing we were not allowed to do was swim without an adult present, and we thought it was a reasonable request and never broke the rule.

         To get to the dacha, we took the trolley to the main train station and got on the commuter train. From the train station in Kryzhovka it was a 1.8 mile walk to the dacha, with my parents carrying all the food and other items we might need. (Eventually, my uncle bought a car, but he never gave us rides.) When we got to the house, the first thing we did was change out of “city clothes” to “dacha clothes” (read: old clothes we didn’t want) and removed our shoes. Then my sister and I went off to see who else was around. We never had any contact with our dacha friends outside the dacha, though all of us lived in Minsk.

         My two boy cousins were 4 and 6 years older than me, and thus immutably cooler. They listened to cool music on bootleg tapes, cussed like sailors (“Not in front of the children!!!” was my mom’s constant request), had their own bicycles, and were allowed to watch unlimited TV. They had friends who intrigued and intimidated us, who could be magnanimous or mean, at will. They hogged the one and only ping pong table outside the community “center” (a one-room hut).

         When we left Minsk, dacha was what I missed most of all, the place I wanted to return to. Then communism collapsed and my grandparents sold the house and plot to one of the nouveau riches, who tore down the structure and built a gray brick monstrosity in its place. What hurt most was that to make room, he cut down the old fir tree that served as a landmark for many of our neighbors. I had spent countless days sitting under that tree with a book, oblivious to the occasional foot traffic, bicyclists, and cars.

         There was something about that place that was unapologetically idyllic. My parents and aunts and uncle complained about all the gardening, but they too loved it. It brought our extended family closer together. In the city, we only saw them for big holiday dinners. At the dacha, we let our guard down. The house was a crazy collection of discarded furniture and appliances, things too old or broken to keep in the city, but perfectly acceptable at the dacha. Everything was there to serve a purpose, no China cabinets or sofa covers, no frills. In the evenings, we’d wash our dirty feet in a basin of water, turn out the light, and listen to the silence, punctuated by a distant train signal, buzzing of mosquitos, or someone walking past our windows via a narrow path between two plots, rustling the currant bushes and maybe whistling.

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I Think... [Oct. 9th, 2013|10:20 am]
fly girl
one of these days, i'm going to severely trim back my friends list. if you want to continue reading, let me know. if you find this message once i'm done trimming, i can always add you back. no hard feelings. i just don't want this to be accessible to a whole lot of people. :) 
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Gripes [Jan. 11th, 2013|05:32 pm]
fly girl
[Current Location |the living room]
[mood |annoyedhalf hour of worktime left: stressed]

i'm done with the diet book, EXCEPT for 100 pages of recipes, and OMG this person can't be consistent, and i don't know how much work the copyeditor did (it was done on-screen and they didn't send me the redlines), but there is still so much to do. and this CE should not have been assigned to edit recipes, to begin with. her experience lies in fiction.

HEADDESK.
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Two Recipes [Apr. 20th, 2011|12:42 pm]
fly girl
[Current Location |the living room]
[mood |procrastinating]

being home alone = coming up with something interesting to cook.

ALOO MUTAR PANEER (potato pea cheese curry)

1 large onion, diced
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
various spices
1/2 package of frozen green peas, defrosted in boiled water
splash of tomato sauce
a hunk of Indian cheese, paneer (or tofu), cubed

1. fry up the onion. when they start to turn golden, add potatoes. when they start turning golden as well, add some liquid (water is just fine, but most recipes call for chicken or vegetable stock), and cover, so that the potatoes can simmer. at this time you can also add spices: a curry mix, or combo curry powder/turmeric/cumin/paprika (i added oregano, dill, cumin, and turmeric). be sure to add sugar as well as salt.

2. about 2/3 of the way through, also add in the peas. (if you add them too early, they'll get too mushy.) 

3. when the potatoes are almost done, add a splash of tomato sauce (for flavor and texture, i think it was a necessary step). stir in the paneer or tofu, turn off the heat, and let the dish sit for a bit, so flavors can meld.

serve over rice or with naan.


LAMB AND KALE STEW

1 onion, diced
.4 lb butterflied boneless leg of lamb, chopped into small pieces
a bunch of various kinds of beans (presoaked overnight, to make them softer, if raw; otherwise use canned)
spices
1 bunch kale, chopped finely

1. fry up the onion until golden. add the lamb and stir-fry until crust forms over meat.

2. throw in the beans (including the liquid in which they were soaking). stir in whatever spices you like. be sure to add both sugar and salt. then add the kale, mix up, and add more liquid, if needed. (again, water is just fine.)

3. cook on low heat until the kale is very soft. this will also taste best if can sit for a bit.

**beans: i loved using the raw beans. however, different beans need different amount of time to be just the right consistency. for the purpose of this kind of cooking, it didn't much matter that the garbanzos were still relatively crunchy and the red beans got a little mushy. but if you want to make this well, you have to add the beans in at different times, or cook them separately.

***if you want to make this dish vegetarian, i guess you can use mushrooms instead of lamb, which would give the stew the body it needs. a splash of soy sauce would give it additional umame flavor.

(Vika absolutely loved the lamb stew. after she finished eating, she took her bowl and slurped up all the liquid.) 

next up: stuffed cabbage and eggplant "caviar."
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Plov: the Recipe [Sep. 24th, 2010|04:48 pm]
fly girl
[Tags|]
[Current Location |The living room]
[mood |Relentless]

Okay, I am going to do the impossible and one-finger type this on my phone. Not only for your benefit but for mine as well. The recipe is going to be fairly wordy, as this is still a work in progress. It's a result of quick Internet research and a bit of personal experience.

First off, plov is based on four ingredients: rice, lamb, onion, and carrot. If you think lamb is too gamey, substitute beef. If you are a vegetarian.... Well, I am torn about whether veg plov will work, because you need something proteiny with a fairly strong umami flavor. Possibly some pungent mushrooms. Anyway, I used two cuts of lamb, shoulder chops and butterflied boneless leg. Whole Foods lamb is less greasy/gamey.

The rice you use should be long grained, not sticky. I cheated by cooking the rice in a rice cooker. The authentic recipes insist on using a kazan (which I imagine is similar to a paella dish, but I don't know) to cook the rice in the broth made of the other three ingredients. Incidentally, I have never made an authentic risotto either. Too much hassle.

Anyway, there is more, but I better get to the recipe.

Read more...Collapse )

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World's Easiest Apple Cake (Шарлотка) (c) V's Grandparents [Aug. 27th, 2010|09:57 pm]
fly girl
[Current Location |the bedroom]
[mood |Full]

3-4 apples
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
2 eggs

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Peel and core the apples, then cut them into cubes. Place then in the cake pan.

Combine the rest of the ingredients and pour mixture over the apples.

Bake until set (when a toothpick is dry when poked through the cake).
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