Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dirty Martini

There are few celebrities I loathe more than Gwyneth Paltrow. Yet, annoyingly, the recipes she features in her newsletter always appeal to me. If she published a cookbook, I would probably buy it.

This week's newsletter included a recipe for a Dirty Martini that I would really like to try...Damn her!:

For Two Cocktails:

  • lots of ice
  • 6 ounces of your favorite vodka
  • 1 cap’s worth of extra dry vermouth (I like Martini & Rossi)
  • 1 tablespoon of cocktail olive brine
  • 6 high quality cocktail olives (preferably stuffed with pimentos)

Fill your shaker with ice and add the vodka, vermouth and olive brine. Close it tightly and shake it for ages until it’s all snowy on the outside. Place 3 olives into the bottom of a martini glass, strain over half of your icy cold mixture and repeat with the remaining olives and mixture in another glass. Give one to a lucky friend.

The Excellence of Tim Gunn



Re-reading Tim Gunn's acceptance speech from my previous post (in which he casually uses the word "myriad") reminded me of something I love about him (in addition to his support of animal rights): his excellent vocabulary. And then I recalled this hilarious clip from Project Runway which compiles the many, many instances of Tim using big words on the show...and mystifying the less-verbal designers.

What I love about this is that Tim is absolutely unpretentious in his speech; he just happens to know a lot of words and he enjoys using them. He's not trying to impress anyone (or confuse anyone for that matter). This is how he really talks!

Oh, and another thing I admire about him? His perfect posture. Once you notice it, you will realize that Tim Gunn exhibits almost inhumanly perfect posture at all times.

It's all just part of the magic that is Tim Gunn.

Bad Date

Police: Woman seduced date out of clothes, then robbed him
By MARLEE GINTERKOMO-TV STAFF

EVERETT -- How's this for a date from hell? A woman seduces you, leaves you naked and takes off with your valuables, including your car.

Police say that's just what Ashley Dawson did to an unsuspecting man.

The alleged victim, Andrew Scarbrough, says it appears he went looking for love in all the wrong places, including the Internet. He hoped he'd found love when he met a woman on MySpace.

The two met in person and went back to his place. He says they began to get intimate and shed their clothes. That's when things went wrong in a hurry.

"We went back to my house and next thing I knew she took my car, my cell phone, my wallet, my keys and my laptop," he said.
Scarbrough says 19-year-old Dawson lured him into the shower and told him she had a surprise.

"After about a minute, I went, 'Wait a second, something's not right here.' Jumped out and she was already gone," he said.

Dawson never came back, but the bad date wasn't over yet.

Police found Scarbrough's Mustang and towed it back to him. But Dawson stole it again a month later while it was parked outside Scarbrough's workplace, according to prosecutors.

Investigators found the Mustang at a Red Robin restaurant. They also found Dawson getting out of the car and placed her under arrest.

Dawson appeared in court on Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to theft charges.

Scarbrough says he would've run after Dawson the first time around, clothes or no clothes, if he'd caught onto her just a few moments sooner.

"I have no problem doing that," he said. "I'd be like, 'Nope, my car.' I'll take the indecent exposure. I'll chase her down."

But Scarbrough, once bitten and twice shy, isn't so bold about dating again.

"Just reinforce that you can't trust anyone anymore. There's just no point," he said.

Scarbrough says he "feels bad" for Dawson.

Dawson was convicted of residential burglary two years ago. Her trial for this alleged romantic ripoff starts in February.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

PETA Names Man and Woman of the Year

And this prestigious award goes to...Ellen DeGeneres and Tim Gunn! Good choices, PETA! Turns out they are both even cooler than we thought. Who knew that was even possible? From PETA:

"Let's start with Ellen—ever since she and her wife, Portia De Rossi, decided to ditch all animal products in 2008, Ellen has made sure that her wildly popular talk show includes features to raise people's awareness of animal issues. She made vegan pizza with Chef Wolfgang Puck, spoke with Dr. Neal Barnard about the health benefits of a vegan diet, and just in time for Thanksgiving, "talked turkey" about the everyday abuse of animals on factory farms with Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Eating Animals. Ellen also created pages on her Web site that feature insight, info, and tips about cruelty-free living. Visitors can find recipes, read about why Ellen went vegan, learn where to shop, and more.

"Now on to Tim Gunn: The connoisseur of class, the guru of good taste, the titan of tact (I could go on all afternoon with these) narrated our video exposing skin-crawling atrocities suffered by animals who are slaughtered for their pelts, and the media have been buzzing ever since. Tim recently told the L.A. Times, "Wearing fur is like wearing a big sign reading, 'I'm in favor of inflicting cruelty and pain on animals as a fashion statement.' Unspeakable torture is inflicted on dogs, cats, bunnies, raccoons, foxes, minks, and myriad trapped, helpless creatures in the name of fashion—yes, dogs and cats."

"And thanks to Tim, fur challenges are noticeably absent from Project Runway—and there's zero fur at Liz Claiborne, where he is chief creative officer.

"So, to Ellen DeGeneres for her exuberant embrace of cruelty-free living and to Tim Gunn for his thoughtful and thought-provoking messages of compassion for animals, we at PETA are dancing in the halls. Thank you, thank you! And conga-rats!"

Pizza Toppings Around the Globe

I've been somewhat obsessed with pizza lately, and I got to thinking last night about pizza toppings. My own personal favorites are onion and pineapple, but I rarely order this because it's too confusing to others. Guy is staunchly devoted to meat toppings, specifically sausage. Other meats will do, but the sausage topping is king in Guy's world.

I was reading about pizza in the Joy of Cooking last night, and it mentioned some pizza topping variations from around the world. This inspired me to do some research of my own.

Apparently, Deep Sea Eel Pizza is the most popular item on the menu at the Pizza Huts in China (Shanghai and Xian). That's a photo of it (at left). Surprisingly, it actually looks pretty good! I would try it.

Costa Ricans like coconut on their pizza. Predictably, Indians like curry, chicken tikka, pickled ginger, minced mutton, and paneer. In Sweden, they like banana curry pizza.

How about Russia? Oh, Russia. Land of great literature...but there is a reason you are not known for your food. Russians top their pizza with "mockba" which is "a combination of sardines, tuna, mackerel, salmon and onions. Red herring is also a topping of choice." Hey! Maybe cats secretly control Russia! That would explain a lot. I bet Tolstoy was actually a cat. That explains why Anna Karenina was always batting at a piece of string.

The Japanese like eel and squid on their pizza, but because they are also strangely obsessed with mayonnaise, they also enjoy something called "Mayo Jago." Apparently, this is mayonnaise, potato, and bacon. Actually, that sounds pretty good to me.

Germans like pizza with a "breakfast-y" flair, topped with eggs sunny side up and sausage links! Wow! That looks amazing to me, although I know my egg-hating friends will find this disgusting. Hmmm, Germans, beer...Something makes me wonder if this pizza topping is a thinly-disguised hangover cure.

Finally, the French. Yes, they do everything better than we do, and why should pizza be any exception? Pizza flambée is made with crème fraîche, onions, and smoky bacon lardons. C'est magnifique!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Sad Day for Turdblossom

Karl Rove's 24-year-long (second) marriage has come to an end. Hey, Darby: if you can't make it work with Mr. Wonderful, who is gonna make you happy? Just saying. There's no pleasing some people!

Meanwhile, in seemingly unrelated news, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins have ended their 23-year-long relationship. If only they had tied the knot, it might have lasted that magical extra one year longer.

Make your move fast, Karl, before Susan gets bogged down in another decades long relationship. And Darby: I hear Sean Penn is now single too. Double date?:

(CNN) - Karl Rove - the former top aide to President George W. Bush - and his wife, Darby, were granted a divorce last week, family friend Dana Perino confirmed to CNN.

"The couple came to the decision mutually and amicably, and they maintain a close relationship and a strong friendship. There will be no further comment and the family requests that its privacy be respected," Perino said in an e-mail to CNN.

The two were married in 1986 and have one son.

Dork-Sided



In this now-classic episode of Wife Swap, an Internet star was born.

Bella and LaiLa's Christmas Adventure

My mom was surprised the owners didn't figure it out sooner, but I think black labs do look a lot alike! My advice: just to be on the safe side, stick with mutts.

That's Bella on the left; LaiLa at right. They should have figured it out when Bella started ranting about Christianity and accusing everyone of being "dork-sided":

Kennel gives dogs to wrong owners
By Linda Shaw, Seattle Times
Two black labs didn't make it home for Christmas this year. The two pooches swapped homes after a mix-up at an Eastside dog hotel led them to be released to the wrong owners this month.

Bella, who belongs to Stacey and Rob Peterson, of Maple Valley, ended up spending a few weeks in Issaquah with Anne Galasso.

Galasso's dog, LaiLa, spent time in Canada near Stacey Peterson's parents, and then in Maple Valley when the Petersons returned from a vacation in Europe.

PetSmart PetsHotel of Issaquah, where both dogs were boarded, is working to make amends, in part by refunding both families' boarding fees.

Both families knew something was amiss, but never dreamed they had ended up with the wrong dogs. To the Petersons, the clues included the fact that the dog they thought was Bella looked skinnier when they got home, barked a lot more and didn't respond to her name the same way.
But they wondered whether she was just upset because they'd been gone.

Galasso chalked up behavior differences — including much more licking than usual — to the fact that she'd just moved to a new home, away from dogs that LaiLa used to play with.

It was Christmas Day when the Petersons, still puzzling over the changes in their dog, realized she wasn't really Bella. Stacey Peterson joked that perhaps Bella had changed so much that she didn't have a gap between two of her teeth anymore.

When they looked, she didn't.

"Clearly this dog had all her teeth," Peterson said. "And that's when things started to make sense."

Peterson called PetSmart, and took her dog to a nearby veterinary hospital that scanned her microchip. The truth was revealed: The dog was really LaiLa.

The hospital called Galasso. She was shocked because, despite the differences, the two dogs also are very similar, she said.

LaiLa, she said, has a bone protruding from the top of her head, and so does Bella. And Bella, she said, slept at the bottom of her bed with her cats just like LaiLa did.

The two dogs were reunited with their real owners the day after Christmas. Both owners say they will be much more careful in the future in boarding their dogs, and Peterson's not sure she will ever board her dog again.

Both are glad that nothing bad happened.

"I had exposed Bella to the disabled population because I work with developmentally disabled adults," Galasso said. She said Bella also was exposed to her cats and to horses.

"If her [Peterson's] dog wasn't as good as she is, it could have been a disaster," she said.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Styles of the 1990s

The nineties are my favorite fashion decade. Courtney Love actually seemed cool back then in her baby-doll dresses and combat boots. The Spice Girls also rocked short dresses + chunky shoes. Clueless came out and mocked the loose baggy pants trend, which was new at the time. Grunge was huge. Tattoos and body piercings became ubiquitous. Short boyish hair became trendy thanks to girls like Linda Evangelista and Winona Ryder. Wino also rode the wave of the "waif" trend (also popularized by Kate Moss). Drew Barrymore had a big comeback, and we weren't even sick of her yet.

I loved the make-up and hair from the 90s; the look was bold, but not clownish like the 80s. It was all about a clean, matte, minimal-but-dramatic look, with opaque colors, high contrast, and sharply defined lines. Lips were dark, almost gothic. Hair was sleek, eyebrows were thin and arched (a rebellion from the bushy big brows of the 80s).

Some more details (some of which I completely forgot but found on this blog): The "Rachel" haircut, and chunky highlights.
Butterfly clips ("little plastic butterfly clips that girls of all ages wore by the gross in their hair. The typical way of wearing them was to part your hair in several different places and to clip each section of hair so that the butterflies would be all in a row on top of your head.")

Fanny Packs (okay, this was a bad one).

Overalls ("In the early 1990's teens wore their overalls in two ways: They wore their overalls with a belt, and let the 'front flap' and 'back straps' hang straight down. The other way, was to only hook together one side of the overall straps, and leave the opposite side open. The popular over-all styles were: light blue; or gray stone-washed.")

And still more more details from Wikipedia:

"Fashion in the 1990s was characterized by minimalist styles, some of which were dubbed "anti-fashion". Nineties fashion was very casual and comfortable, and featured items such as flannel shirts and overalls. Retro clothing was popular in the 1990s, which led to minimalist takes on styles from previous decades, notably the 1920s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Fashion inspired by sports clothing was also popular during the 1990s.

"Following the minimalist trend, mens business wear in the 1990s moved back away from three piece suits towards simpler styles. Women's business and formal wear also became simpler over the course of the decade. Denim followed the minimalist trend, moving away from acid wash and other designer denim styles towards the simpler and more traditional stone washed jeans. The fancy women's hairstyles of the 1980s gave way to straighter styles parted in the middle, and men's hairstyles also became simpler.

"Hypercolor clothing, made of material which changes colors according to temperature, was briefly popular in 1992. The popularity of bright colors declined as the 1990s wore on. Hoop earrings were a popular accessory for girls and women in the first years of the 1990s.

"One of the most significant events in 1990s fashion was the rise of grunge fashion in 1992. Grunge fashion consisted of both sexes wearing flannel shirts and other typical outdoor clothing, often bought in thrift shops. The general appearance was unkempt and androgynous. The rise of grunge fashion coincided with the rise to mainstream popularity of grunge music from Seattle. Popular colors in grunge fashion included white, black, red, forest green, indigo, and brown.

"By 1993, other plaid inspired styles were popular. These included plaid vests, plaid sweatshirts, plaid babydoll dresses, and plaid boxer shorts. Although grunge and its related styles waned after 1994, flannel plaid shirts continued to enjoy a somewhat increased popularity though the end of the decade, especially for outdoor wilderness activities.

"Belly button piercing became a hit in 1993 among teenage girls, young women, and even briefly among young men. This led to the popularity of midriff style shirts that expose the belly button. Other types of body piercing became popular later in the decade, and lasted into the 2000s.

"Wide leg pants became popular among teenaged girls and women in 1994, inspired by the wide leg pants of the 1940s and 1970s. Wide leg jeans became popular with teenaged girls, and women's pantsuits with wide leg pants enjoyed popularity in colours such as light brown and violet. Women's spaghetti strap tank tops became more popular than when they were first popular in the late 1970s.

"Many men began wearing dress shirts without ties, a style that continues to be worn by many men to this day. Women began increasingly wearing pantsuits to the office. By the end of the decade, Casual Fridays became the norm in many offices, with both men and women wearing jeans to the office on Fridays.

"Punk, goth, preppy, sporty and hip-hop styles continued to be popular at the close of the 1990s. Some of the more overt 70s influences waned in 1998, although other 70s influences continued to be felt at the close of the decade. In women's fashion, baby t-shirts and spaghetti strap tank tops continued to be popular, and long wraparound skirts were popular from 1998. Dark rinse-wash denim beame fashionable for both men and women, and the low rise jeans phenomenon began in women's fashion."

Dolmas

I would like to make this recipe for stuffed grape leaves (aka dolmas) sometime. I'd like to make them for Guy because he's always very enthusiastic whenever I bring them home from the deli, so it would be fun to actually make them for him.

Obviously, if I make this, I will leave out the mushrooms since they are one of the Forbidden Vegetables (along with broccoli):

Stuffed Grape Leaves (Dolmas)
Serves 8 people.
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 onions, minced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 cup fresh mushrooms, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice
3 tbsp. tomato paste
2 tbsp. dried currants or raisins
2 tbsp. pine nuts
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 tbsp. fresh chopped mint leaves
1 tbsp. dried dill weed
1 tsp. ground mace
1 tbsp. ground sumac
2 tbsp. pomegranate molasses
1 8-oz jar grape leaves

Optional additions:
Ground beef or ground lamb - cook lightly as they will be cooked more during the steaming process.
Chopped and sauteed zucchini
Chopped and sauteed eggplant
Chopped tomatoes
Chopped preserved lemons

In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat and add onions & garlic. Sweat the onions & garlic until tender, then add the mushrooms and saute until browned. Add the rice and enough hot water to cover. Cover the saucepan and simmer over low heat until the rice is half cooked, about 15 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, carefully remove the grape leaves from the jar without ripping them. Drain the liquid and rinse the leaves in warm water and set in a colander to drain. Trim off any stems.

When the rice is ready, stir in all the other ingredients and mix well. Allow the mixture to cool enough so that it can be handled with bare hands. Take one grape leaf and place it smooth side down, veiny sides up. Place about 1 teaspoon or 1 tablespoon (depending on how big the leaf is) of rice mix at the bottom of the leaf. Fold the sides and then roll the leaf from bottom to top. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.

Place a steaming rack in a large pot and arrange the dolmas on the steamer. It is OK to stack them. Place enough water at the bottom of the pot to almost reach the bottom layer of dolmas. Cover and simmer over low heat for 35 to 45 minutes, or until rice is totally cooked.

Remove and place on a serving plate. Drizzle with olive oil, and if desired, sprinkle with a little sumac or fresh lemon juice.

Recipe by: Kathryn Hill

Cats, huh?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Birthday Bloopers

Here is a cautionary video posted in honor of regular Beebo reader John Anderson. Happy birthday! And may you not befall the same fate as these unfortunate children!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza

I made these pizzas yesterday for Christmas using a recipe from the latest issue of Cook's Illustrated. They turned out really well! You don't need a pizza stone; these are baked instead in 2 nine-inch cake pans. Guy wanted sausage on his, so he made the one on the right (with the meat added) while the one at the left stayed true to the original recipe which is just cheese and sauce (with garlic, oregano, basil, and some grated onion).

It was time-consuming to prepare, because the dough has to rise twice (once at room temperature and once in the refrigerator). But the results were well worth it. Here is the Cook's Illustrated recipe; I revised it very slightly, taking out the parts that didn't seem to apply when I made the pizzas (they included all these notes about the dough being sticky, for example, but my dough was rather dry):

Makes two 9-inch pizzas, serving 4 to 6. The test kitchen prefers Dragone Whole Milk Mozzarella; part-skim mozzarella can also be used, but avoid preshredded cheese, as it does not melt well. Our preferred brands of crushed tomatoes are Tuttorosso and Muir Glen. Grate the onion on the large holes of a box grater.

Ingredients for Dough
3 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
1 1/4 cups water room temperature
3 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted, plus 4 tablespoons, softened
1 teaspoon plus 4 tablespoons olive oil

Ingredients for Sauce
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup grated onion , from 1 medium onion
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
2 medium garlic cloves , minced (about 2 teaspoons)
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Pepper and salt

Toppings
1 pound mozzarella cheese , shredded (about 4 cups)
1/2 ounce grated Parmesan cheese (about 1/4 cup)
Pre-cooked mild Italian sausage (optional)

1. FOR THE DOUGH: Mix flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar, and yeast in bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook on low speed until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add water and melted butter and mix on low speed until fully combined, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping sides and bottom of bowl occasionally. Increase speed to medium and knead until dough is glossy and smooth and pulls away from sides of bowl, 4 to 5 minutes.

2. Using fingers, coat large bowl with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Transfer dough to bowl, turning once to oil top; cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in volume, 45 to 60 minutes.

3. FOR THE SAUCE: While dough rises, heat butter in medium saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add onion, oregano, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated and onion is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and sugar, increase heat to high, and bring to simmer. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced to 2 1/2 cups, 25 to 30 minutes. Off heat, stir in basil and oil, then season with salt and pepper.

4. TO LAMINATE THE DOUGH: Adjust oven rack to lower position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Using rubber spatula, turn dough out onto dry work surface and roll into 15- by 12-inch rectangle. Spread softened butter over surface of dough, leaving 1/2-inch border along edges. Starting at short end, roll dough into tight cylinder. With seam side down, flatten cylinder into 18- by 4-inch rectangle. Cut rectangle in half crosswise. Working with 1 half, fold into thirds like business letter; pinch seams together to form ball. Repeat with remaining half. Return balls to oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise in refrigerator until nearly doubled in volume, 40 to 50 minutes.

5. Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with 2 tablespoons olive oil each. Transfer 1 dough ball to dry work surface and roll out into 13-inch disk about 1/4 inch thick. Lightly press dough into pan, working into corners and 1 inch up sides. If dough resists stretching, let it relax 5 minutes before trying again. Repeat with remaining dough ball.

6. For each pizza, sprinkle 2 cups mozzarella evenly over surface of dough. Spread 1 1/4 cups tomato sauce over cheese. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons Parmesan (and sausage, if using). Bake until crust is golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Mele Kalikimaka



This is my favorite Christmas song. And this random guy on You Tube really brings it! He emotes a lot, and even addresses the "audience" during the musical interlude. I wish I could sing karaoke with that level of confidence (or at all). Great job, random guy!

Mele Kalikimaka is the thing to say
On a bright Hawaiian Christmas Day
That's the island greeting that we send to you
From the land where palm trees sway

Here we know that Xmas will be green and bright
Sun will shine by day and all the stars at night
Mele Kalikimaka is Hawaii's way
To say Merry Christmas to you.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Fax from the North Pole

We get these junk faxes at work every now and then; they're from some company trying to sell cruises. They take great pains to try to make them look like "official" missives from the "Corporate Travel Department."

This one helpfully informs the reader that "Our Corporate Travel Department has asked if you would distribute this memo freely to all employees." I guess they are hoping that some feeble-minded secretary will receive it and, fearing the nebulous authority of the fictional Corporate Travel Department, copy and distribute their flyer on our own dime.

What makes this one a little special, though, is that they have tailored it for the Christmas season. The "snowy" lettering informs the recipient that this cruise "CAN BE USED AS A CHRISTMAS GIFT!"

I like the awkward phrasing of that sentence. If you think about it, pretty much anything can be "used" as a Christmas gift, but I appreciate the way they attempted to make that idea seem very novel and exciting.

An Offer You Can't Reasonably Refuse

David Hasselhoff, indisputably one of the all-time greats. Why? Because he's so cheesy that you almost can't believe he's real.

Along these lines, the Mirror printed this little gem of a story yesterday:

"Aussie actress Sophie Monk says David Hasselhoff has been bombarding her with calls since they met on the film Click. "I've been stalked by the Hoff," she said, but called David a "sweetie-pie" for his support over a break-up. She said: "He would say things like, let's go get some 'Hoff-ee'."

Wow!! How could anyone refuse an offer to meet up with the Hoff for 'Hoff-ee'!?

Even if you didn't like coffee, you would just have to say yes. It would be like if Willie Nelson offered you pot. Even as a non-drug-user, you couldn't say no.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Lizzie Borden: Whack Job

I like to read true crime books once in a while; for some reason, I find them relaxing.

Yesterday, I got the idea to look for a book about Lizzie Borden. I was surprised by the sheer number and variety of books available. I shouldn't have been surprised, her murder trial was one of the most infamous in American history. Also, I was surprised by the widely divergent theories about "who did it"--I always assumed that it was generally accepted that Lizzie did it.

I still think that's mostly the accepted version, but I was surprised to see a lot of wacky titles like Lizzie Borden Didn't Do It! and even Did Lizzie Borden Axe for It?

To my mind, even without reading any books on the subject, she's indisputably guilty. Why? Just look at her. She's got the Crazy Eyes, people.

From Wikipedia: Lizzie Andrew Borden (July 19, 1860 – June 1, 1927) was a New England spinster who was the central figure in the hatchet murders of her father and stepmother on August 4, 1892 in Fall River, Massachusetts in the United States. The murders, subsequent trial, and following trial by media became a cause célèbre. The fame of the incident has endured in American pop culture and criminology. Although Lizzie Borden was acquitted, no one else was ever arrested or tried, and she has remained notorious in American folklore. Dispute over the identity of the killer or killers continues to this day.

Over a period of years after the death of the first Mrs. Borden, life at 92 Second Street had grown unpleasant in many ways, and affection between the older and younger family members had waned considerably if any was present at all. Meals were not always eaten together. Conflict had increased between the two daughters and their father about his decision to divide valuable property among relatives before his death. Shortly before the murders, a major argument had occurred which resulted in both sisters leaving home on extended "vacations". Lizzie Borden, however, decided to end her trip and returned early.

She was refused the purchase of prussic acid (hydrogen cyanide) by local druggist Eli Bence, which she claimed was for cleaning a seal skin coat.

Shortly before the murders, the entire household became violently ill. As Mr. Borden was not a popular man in town, Mrs. Borden feared they were being poisoned, but the family doctor diagnosed it as bad food.

No blood-soaked clothing was found as evidence by police. A few days after the murder, Borden tore apart and burned a blue dress in the kitchen stove, claiming she had brushed against fresh baseboard paint which had smeared on it.

Despite incriminating circumstances, Lizzie Borden was acquitted on June 20, 1893 by a jury after an hour and a half's deliberation. The fact that no murder weapon was found and no blood evidence was noted just a few minutes after the second murder pointed to reasonable doubt. Her entire original inquest testimony was barred from the trial. Also excluded was testimony regarding her attempt to purchase prussic acid.

Though acquitted for the crimes, Lizzie Borden was ostracized by neighbors following the trial. Lizzie Borden's name was again brought to the public forefront when she was accused of shoplifting in 1897.

Sticking Out Their Greedy Little Hands

Like most children in the seventies, I used to be obsessed with Mad Magazine and owned a number of Mad books which I treasured and read many times. One of these was a collection of song parodies which I especially loved because I liked to sing.

I particularly remember a series of Christmas-themed parodies (I think this was featured in Sing Along With Mad, although it could have been part of a Christmas-themed anthology instead, I'm not 100% sure).

For some reason, the song that has stuck with me most vividly after all these years is a parody of Winter Wonderland. It's basically a litany of complaints about the "greedy" people who expect tips at Christmastime, like your building superintendent and doorman. (I use the word "apartment" more now, but growing up, everyone was always talking about "the building.") The joke was that everyone who is usually half-assed and hard to reach suddenly emerges out of the woodwork at Christmas to collect their fat holiday tips. I thought it was hilarious.

I didn't realize how "New York" it was until years later, when I started singing it one day and Guy asked, "What are you singing??" People like doormen and supers are a normal part of everyday life in NYC...but in Indiana where Guy grew up, not so much. He was also amused by the stingy mean-spiritedness of it--but that's Mad for ya!

I wish I could find the original illustrations but sadly, I couldn't find them online.

Doorbells ring, it’s the season,
And you know what’s the reason.
There’s someone out there who’s after his share,
Sticking out his greedy little hand.

First to come is the doorman,
He will claim he’s a poor man.
The janitor’s next on some weak pretext,
Sticking out his greedy little hand.

Then will come the superintendent’s visit.
He will ring your doorbell loud and long.
You will open up and ask, what is it?
He’ll just smile and sing a Christmas song!

Later on you’ll get the cash out
For the man who takes the trash out.
How nice they’re all here on one day a year
Sticking out their greedy little hands!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Have a Cheetah-licious Christmas!



In making this video, expense was spared. Wow, what crappy effects! It makes the Wham! video look like a Peter Jackson joint.

But the song and the girls are charming, and I like their little coordinated hip-hop moves. I really wanted Sabrina Bryan to win Dancing With the Stars when she was on it, but that season Hélio Castroneves won the trophy. I wasn't really disappointed, though, because he was pretty adorable too. Then Sabrina started dating her DWTS dance partner, Mark Ballas, which was cute...but then Mark Ballas formed a band with DWTS cutie Julianne Hough's brother, Derek Hough, and by that point, even I was like, "You know what? Don't care anymore! You can all sink back into obscurity now!"

It takes a lot for me to get to that point, but a Mark Ballas/Derek Hough rock band? That is seriously unnecessary.

Last Christmas

I've been really into this song lately. I've been listening to the Cheetah Girls version, but this original Wham! video is pretty awesome. Things I love about this video:

1. George Michael's impressively luxurious highlighted mullet.
2. George Michael exhanging smoldering looks with the dowdy brunette woman rocking her eighties curly bob.
3. The fact that you know those sexy glances are really meant for Andrew Ridgeley.

Monday, December 21, 2009

How to Wear Shoulder Pads

Let me preface this by stating in no uncertain terms how I feel about shoulder pads: I hate them. I hate, hate, hate them. They were ugly in the 40s, they were even uglier in the 80s, and now as a retro 80s trend, they are uglier still. They just get worse and worse, and as far as I'm concerned, there is no excuse for them.

However. If you must wear shoulder pads, this is the way to do it. Once again, Lady Gaga shows us how it's done.

As with so many other trends, the key here is: Go big, or go home.

The Bibbi-Babka Ditty

Now I realize where I went wrong. If I'd just known about the Bibbi-Babka ditty when I was making my babkas, I'm sure they would have turned out perfectly.

More About the Babka

Beebo reader Rico "Ice" Hertz astutely guessed that the babka might be of Russian origin. Here are some fun babka facts from wikipedia:

Babka, or Bobka, also known as baba, is a sweet yeast cake.
East European version: It is a spongy yeast cake that is traditionally baked for Easter Sunday in Poland, Lithuania, Slovakia, Belarus, Ukraine and Western Russia. Darra Goldstein, professor of Russian at Williams College says "babka comes from baba, a very tall, delicate yet rich yeast-risen cake eaten in Western Russia and Eastern Poland." Traditional babka has some type of fruit filling, especially raisins, and is glazed with a fruit-flavored icing, sometimes with rum added. Modern babka may be chocolate or have a cheese filling.

Jewish version: Chocolate babka, with streusel. Another version of babka is associated with the Eastern European Jewish tradition. This babka is made from a doubled and twisted length of yeast dough and is typically baked in a high loaf pan. Instead of a fruit filling the dough contains cinnamon or chocolate. The babka is usually topped with streusel. A similar cake called a kokosh is also popular in Jewish bakeries. Kokosh also comes in chocolate and cinnamon varieties, but it is lower and longer than babka, is not twisted, and not topped with streusel.

Babka of this style has become popular in North American cities with large Jewish populations, including Montreal, New York, Miami, and Toronto.

There also exists a traditional Eastern European Jewish variety prepared during Passover in lieu of bread. Generally, this sort is not sweet and is prepared using crushed matzos with water, egg, and salt. Some Polish Jews refer to pancakes with these ingredients as bubbeleh, a name similar to babka.
The Polish noun babka, Ukrainian and Russian baba mean "grandmother," and as applied to the pastry probably refer to its shape, a tall cylinder, sometimes with corrugations resembling a skirt’s pleats. The name of the pastry entered the English language from Polish, via French, although "babka" is also sometimes used in its original sense ("grandmother"), especially among those of Eastern European descent.

Pop Culture References: Babka was mentioned in the season 5 episode of Seinfeld entitled "The Dinner Party". Jerry and Elaine try to buy a chocolate babka to bring to a dinner party. Another couple going to the same dinner party buy the last chocolate babka. Jerry and Elaine must therefore buy a cinnamon babka, which Elaine describes as a "lesser babka".

Babka was also featured in an episode of Perfect Strangers where Balki must sing the "Bibbi-Babka" song.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Babka











Guy has been requesting a babka every Christmas for the past 3 years, so today I finally made good on my promise to make him one. It pretty much took all day, although most of that time is just spent waiting for dough to rise. It's cooling right now--hopefully, it will taste good.

It's from a recipe that was published in the New York Times in 2007. It contains apricot jam and chocolate--I forgot to take a photograph of the chocolate step, which happened right before I rolled the babka.

Figgy Pudding & Mincemeat Pie



Some friends came over last night with 2 very traditional Christmas desserts. Diana made the figgy pudding which is cooked by steaming it for four hours--crazy! It tasted delicious, with an unusual and interesting texture. It's more like a cake than a pudding, but it's the most moist cake you will ever eat.



The mincemeat pies were delicious too, and just from the taste, you would never know that there is meat in them--venison, to be exact. Jennifer went to a butcher at Pike Place Market to buy the venison and the suet (which is a type of animal fat). The mincemeat pies taste like a rich, complex apple pie, and they are very filling.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Back to Brunette


Continuing the latest trend of celebrities going darker, Nicole Ritchie recently dyed her hair brunette. I like it!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Boulud's Gratin

If you watch Top Chef, you will have seen guest appearances by famous French chef and generally adorable man, Daniel Boulud. He's the one who judged the snail-based quickfire challenge, famously complaining that he "couldn't taste the snail," which only seems like a bad thing if you are a French chef.

Anyway, this snail-free gratin recipe looks totally delicious and, happily, it doesn't contain either of the Forbidden Vegetables (broccoli and mushrooms) but only harmless Swiss chard.

I have a feeling Guy would like to object to chard, but cannot legitimately do so, having little to no awareness of what it actually is. He probably knows it's a green vegetable, so it's already "on notice" but I can probably get him to warily agree to eat it once it's safely smothered in gruyère, butter, garlic and parmesan:

• 6 lb. Swiss chard, washed, leaves and stems separated
• 2 T butter
• 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
• 2 T flour
• 1 cup milk
• ¼ tsp. nutmeg
• ½ cup shredded Gruyère cheese
• ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
• Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and place a bowl of ice water on the side. Boil the chard leaves until tender, remove, and chill in the ice water. Strain well; chop leaves roughly and set aside. Cut the stems into thin slices. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add 1 tablespoon butter, 1 clove garlic, and stems, cooking until tender; remove and set aside. Add the flour and the remaining butter to the pan and reduce heat to low. Stir for 3 minutes, being careful not to brown the butter. Using a whisk, gradually stir in the milk and nutmeg. Cook, whisking, for 3 minutes. With a wooden spoon, add the chopped leaves, reserved garlic, and stems; season to taste. Transfer to a small casserole or individual-size casserole dishes. Sprinkle evenly with the cheeses and bake 6–8 minutes or until golden brown.

Christmas Iguana

Don't you love iguanas? Me too. They're so dang cute.

My officemate related a cute iguana story to me the other day. She said she used to have a pet iguana named Jack who was three feet long. Her husband had to build a gigantic pen for him in their den. They didn't realize when they bought him that he would get so big--she said when they first got Jack, he was only 5 inches long, but then he grew.

Anyway, she said that every Christmas they would open up Jack's pen and let him out, because he would immediately run right up into the Christmas tree and quietly hang out there for hours.

And, I discovered just now online, there is even an iguana nicknamed a "Christmas Iguana" because the males turn red and green during mating season.

What are some of YOUR favorite iguana-related Christmas memories?

And now, some for iguana fun facts:

The two species of lizard within the genus Iguana possess a dewlap, a row of spines running down their back to their tail, and a third "eye" on their head. This eye is known as the parietal eye, visible as a pale scale on the top of the head. Behind their neck are small scales which resemble spikes, known as tuberculate scales. These scales may be a variety of colors and are not always visible from close distances. They also have a large round scale on their cheek known as a subtympanic shield.

Iguanas have excellent vision and are able to see shapes, shadows, color and movement at long distances. Iguanas use their eyes to navigate through crowded forests, as well as for finding food. They also use visual signals to communicate with members of the same species.

They respond to visual stimulus of colors such as orange, yellow, pink, and in rare cases blue as food substances.

An iguana's ear is known as the tympanum. It is the iguana's ear drum, and is located right above the subtympanic shield and behind the eye. Iguanas are often hard to spot, as they like others in the lizard family blend into their surroundings. The color green helps as a mode of hiding from larger predators.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Croquembouche

Wow! That looks...amazing.

Once more I'm just jacking material wholesale from the Kitchn. See link for the full story and recipe:

"Croquembouche, a spun sugar tower of cream puffs, is French for “crunch in the mouth.” Of course it’s French – who else would concoct such a perilous pile of pastries?"

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Nicole Kidman's Make-Up Artist Hates Her





From Just Jared:

"At Tuesday’s red carpet premiere for Nine held at NYC’s Ziegfeld theater, the 42-year-old Aussie actress was spotted with white powder all over her nose and under her right eye."

Wow! It's fairly unusual to see such a huge make-up mistake on an A-list celebrity. Nic must have been furious. The tragic part is, her face here is actually beautiful and almost flawless....except for that crucial last step of blending the powder.

My theory: Nic was being a big bitch to her make-up artist who retaliated by conveniently "forgetting" the last step of the application. I imagine it went something like this:

Nicole [jumping out of the chair, heading for the door]: God! That took forever! When I asked for the 'natural' look, I didn't expect it to take 10 hours!

Make-up artist: Hold on a second...Miss Kidman?

Nicole [whirling around angrily]: What do you want now?

Make-up artist: On second thought, you know what? Nothing. You look great. Knock 'em dead.

Thanks to Guy for the tip!

Beebo's Deep Thought of the Day

Christmas shopping is kind of like packing...every time you think you are finished, there is always a little bit more.

Please contact Beebo to request copyright permission for use of the above platitude. Works great on t-shirts and mugs. Beebo is also available for parties.

Spoiler: Everyone on my list is getting a live reindeer this year. They're so cute! But difficult to wrap.

Bloodied Silvio Models

Here at Beebo, there is nothing we enjoy more than pandering to our readers.

In that spirit of shameless pandering, here is a follow-up post about the Silvio Berlusconi attack, in honor of loyal Beebo reader Rico "Ice" Hertz, who called Silvio a "douche," further explaining, "Nice shot, crazy man!"

Apparently, lots of people in Italy share that sentiment, as evidenced by this latest Silvio-related souvenir now for sale in Naples.

In searching for more information about this admirably opportunistic product, I mistakenly searched on the key words "Silvio Berlusconi" and "model." The only story I found was this one: 'Shameless' Silvio Berlusconi buys 18-year-old model a gold necklace for her birthday and calls himself 'her little daddy teacher.' Yikes!

And here is a weird follow-up incident, hot off the press (from the New York Times). Apparently, Silvio is a freak magnet:

Man Arrested Trying to Enter Berlusconi’s Hospital Room

ROME — Three days after an attacker left him with a fractured nose and broken teeth, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was at the center of another bizarre episode Wednesday when police arrested a man who entered the hospital where he is being treated at around 2 a.m., ostensibly to talk to him.

Mr. Berlusconi, 73, was admitted to the San Raffaele hospital in Milan on Sunday after being struck in the face by a man wielding a statuette depicting the Milan cathedral. Massimo Tartaglia, a 42-year-old man with a history of psychological problems, was held after the attack.
Early Wednesday, the police said, a 26-year-old man took the elevator to the hospital’s seventh floor where the Italian leader is recuperating.

News reports described the man as apparently mentally unstable. He was not reported to be carrying weapons or dangerous objects and had merely shown an interest in talking to Mr. Berlusconi.

The incident offered a new twist in a saga that has riveted Italy, reflecting what conservative politicians and news outlets called part of a “climate of hatred” that had polarized the nation into pro- and anti-Berlusconi camps.

Over the past year, political passions have coursed through the nation with unusual intensity as the billionaire prime minister faced several corruption trials and his personal life came under scrutiny. His wife, Veronica Lario, announced that she was divorcing him and accused him of conducting relationships with young women.

The emotions have spilled over onto the streets and into cyberspace with groups on Facebook supporting the attack on Mr. Berlusconi.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Calamari Pina Colada

Fairly intelligent, my hat! It annoys me the way scientists are always grudgingly surprised to discover that other animals are smart. I remember when they claimed that only humans used tools. Then it turned out that lots of animals, such as crows, use tools. And now, here is our friend the octopus revealing its superior tool-using intelligence.

The octopus is one of those animals that I suspect might actually be smarter than humans. It's just that their intelligence is so vastly different from our own that it's difficult for us to fathom it, much less judge it. Our standards of intelligence don't apply to them. They are like alien geniuses from another planet, except that that other planet happens to be undersea instead of in outer space:

Aussie scientists find coconut-carrying octopus
By KRISTEN GELINEAU, Associated Press Writer Kristen Gelineau, Associated Press Writer Tue Dec 15, 8:54 am ET

SYDNEY – Australian scientists have discovered an octopus in Indonesia that collects coconut shells for shelter — unusually sophisticated behavior that the researchers believe is the first evidence of tool use in an invertebrate animal.

The scientists filmed the veined octopus, Amphioctopus marginatus, selecting halved coconut shells from the sea floor, emptying them out, carrying them under their bodies up to 65 feet, and assembling two shells together to make a spherical hiding spot.

Julian Finn and Mark Norman of Museum Victoria in Melbourne observed the odd activity in four of the creatures during a series of dive trips to North Sulawesi and Bali in Indonesia between 1998 and 2008. Their findings were published Tuesday in the journal Current Biology.

"I was gobsmacked," said Finn, a research biologist at the museum who specializes in cephalopods. "I mean, I've seen a lot of octopuses hiding in shells, but I've never seen one that grabs it up and jogs across the sea floor. I was trying hard not to laugh." [Beebo's note: Yeah, it was trying not to laugh at you too, buddy!]

Octopuses often use foreign objects as shelter. But the scientists found the veined octopus going a step further by preparing the shells, carrying them long distances and reassembling them as shelter elsewhere.

That's an example of tool use, which has never been recorded in invertebrates before, Finn said.

"What makes it different from a hermit crab is this octopus collects shells for later use, so when it's transporting it, it's not getting any protection from it," Finn said. "It's that collecting it to use it later that is unusual."

The researchers think the creatures probably once used shells in the same way. But once humans began cutting coconuts in half and discarding the shells into the ocean, the octopuses discovered an even better kind of shelter, Finn said. The findings are significant, in that they reveal just how capable the creatures are of complex behavior, said Simon Robson, associate professor of tropical biology at James Cook University in Townsville.

"Octopuses have always stood out as appearing to be particularly intelligent invertebrates," Robson said. "They have a fairly well-developed sense of vision and they have a fairly intelligent brain. So I think it shows the behavioral capabilities that these organisms have."

There is always debate in the scientific community about how to define tool use in the animal kingdom, Robson said. The Australian researchers defined a tool as an object carried or maintained for future use. But other scientists could define it differently, which means it's difficult to say for certain whether this is the first evidence of such behavior in invertebrates, Robson said.

Sales Skyrocket for Statuette Used to Hit Berlusconi

This is kind of poignant, but I can see the temptation--I'd probably be tempted to buy one of these myself. Poor Silvio. What makes it worse is that you know he is vain, so having his face bloodied was probably extra traumatic to him. Stop the violence, people! It's Christmas, for God's sake!:

MILAN (Reuters) – Souvenir vendors reported brisk business on Tuesday in statuettes of Milan's cathedral like the one hurled at Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in an attack at the weekend.

"Sales have definitely gone up," stall owner Mario said in the cathedral square where the attack took place on Sunday.

"People are definitely buying it as a souvenir of the event, it seems to be one of the most popular Christmas gifts."

A spiky replica of the gothic Duomo was used by an Italian man with a history of mental illness to strike 73-year-old Berlusconi in the face, breaking his nose, two of his teeth and gashing his lip.

The Italian conservative leader, who was hit while signing autographs after a political rally, will be released from hospital on Wednesday. Doctors say he will need two weeks' rest and was badly shaken by the assault.

While there was an outpouring of sympathy for Berlusconi, tourists were taking a macabre interest in the statuettes like the one used to attack him.

"I had to get a souvenir, it will be a Christmas gift," said Brazilian tourist Manuel Magalhaes.
The souvenirs come in different materials, with the heavier marble model costing about 10 euros and the lighter resin model 5-6 euros. It was not clear which one was used by Berlusconi's assailant, 42-year-old Massimo Tartaglia.

"People keep passing by and picking it up to see how heavy it is, to see if the weight of the object could really have caused all that physical damage to Berlusconi," said Mantuzzi.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Shocking Johnny Hallyday News

Johnny Hallyday in drug-induced coma after surgery
'French Elvis' in hospital in Los Angeles as family seeks legal advice over original operation in Paris

guardian.co.uk, Friday 11 December 2009 18.51 GMT

One of France's favourite rock stars, Johnny Hallyday, was tonight in an induced coma after doctors in the US performed an emergency operation to remove lesions on his back.

The 66-year-old singer, dubbed the "French Elvis", whose ailing health in recent months has held a devoted nation in suspense, was rushed to hospital in Los Angeles yesterday, suffering complications from earlier surgery in Paris. After briefly waking up and opening his eyes "to recognise his wife", he was put back in an artifical coma to aid his recovery, said his producer, Jean-Claude Camus.

Hallyday, a superstar in France who has sold more than 100m records, has seen a gruelling valedictory tour disrupted this year by repeated health scares. Ever since the revelation over the summer that he had been suffering from colon cancer, his legions of fans have been obsessively following his condition.

Speaking today in Brussels, President Nicolas Sarkozy said he had spoken to the singer's son David on the telephone. "It provokes great emotion in France because he's a much-loved man and, for each of us, he represents a bit of our personal history: memories, feelings, songs, music," he said.

Today, concern over the singer's health was mixed with anger by those who accused his French surgeon of botching the original back operation last month.

Stephané Delajoux, a "surgeon to the stars", whose former clients include the actor and singer Charlotte Gainsbourg, denied any accusation of malpractice. But Camus said the Hallyday family was considering taking legal action over allegedly sloppy surgery.

He claimed on French radio that American doctors had told him they "repaired things" that had allegedly gone wrong with the original surgery.

Laeticia Hallyday, the wife of the ailing star, was "distraught", he added. "[She is] very angry," he said. "He came close to the worst."

David Koubbi, Delajoux's lawyer told journalists the operation had "gone ahead perfectly well", and that post-surgery examinations had indicated nothing unusual.

Beebo's note: And this just in! (Take-away message: Do not mess with Johnny Hallyday! He is insanely beloved by the French, and if you mess with him, there will be consequences):

Johnny Hallyday's doctor assaulted
PARIS, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Police in Paris say they are looking for two men who assaulted French rocker Johnny Hallyday's surgeon during the weekend.

Hallyday, 66, has been placed in a medically induced coma at the Los Angeles hospital where he is being treated for complications stemming from surgery he underwent in Paris for a slipped disc.

Investigators told the BBC French surgeon Stephane Delajoux was punched and kicked by two men wearing hoods Friday night.

He reportedly was treated for his injuries and released from a hospital Saturday.

The BBC did not suggest a motive for the alleged assault.

This Is Not Your Ginger-Grandfather's House








For today's discerning gingerbread man. Modern yet refined living.

Salma


I like Salma Hayek's new haircut.