Cooling Currents

It's heating up in Madison, and I'm retaliating with frozen treats. Last week, rhubarb sorbet. This week, I turned these little beauties

into a sharp, refreshing sorbet, served with a sandy cornmeal cookie.

A pint of red currants is quite extravagant on my meager budget, so the sorbet disappeared quickly. I'll try and keep you posted regarding my next celebration of the summer heat.



In a variation on a recipe from Judy Rodgers, I whip up some rustic gougères,

pull my spicy onion pickle out of the fridge,

and turn the gougères into little sandwiches, filled with arugula, roasted portobellos, and- of course- the onion pickle.

I intended these for a casual lunch picnic, but my friend canceled at the last minute because she needed to do some housework. Kenneth declared "housework" to be the worst explanation he's ever heard for breaking a social date. I must admit that he has a point; the whole turn-of-events left me and my gougères feeling disposable. The sandwiches were all but assembled when the picnic was called off, so I was able to save them for dinner, which also involved a cool minty pea soup that I had made for the picnic lunch.


The Old Drink-in-the-Face

Last night after two episodes of Hidden Palms, Kenneth mused that the show was becoming too much of "an evening soap-- what with the gun and the drink in the face." C'est possible.
Kenneth: Do people ever really throw drinks in others' faces?
Erk: I once saw a woman throw a cappuccino at a city bus.
Kenneth: [giggles]
Erk: And, on Workout: Rebecca threw a drink in Jesse's face.
Kenneth: Yes, that's TV.
Is the drink-in-the-face strictly a televisual and filmic phenomenon? C'est possible. However, the move has a long history, including this image which demonstrates anxiety over the possible incivility a-brewing in early British coffeehouses:

Before you identify this print as an early modern analog to TV, allow me to report that in 1683 Titus Oates-- Restoration sodomite, libelous trouble-maker, and perjuring informant in re the Popish Plot-- after being whacked on the head with a cane at a coffeehouse responded by tossing a dish of hot coffee in the face of his assailant. Purportedly, Oates was driven to the old drink-in-the-face because in the crowded room he was cornered into his seat . Knowing Oates's penchant for fighting dirty, I have my doubts about the reported logistics. Incidentally, Oates-- in 2006 voted the 17th century's worst Briton by BBC Magazine-- makes an ideal precursor to the evening soap. Maybe that explains why I have a picture of him (in the pillory) pinned on my office bulletin board?


Devilish Eggs

Les Oeufs Jeannettes is perhaps my first go at a Jacques Pepin recipe. I couldn't resist the notion of something like a devilled egg which is browned in a frying pan of butter. As Pepin notes, the whites of hard-boiled eggs do not fry so well: they sort of melt like plastic. I need to work on that. I used these eggs to jazz up salad Niçoise, which I feature repeatedly on our table and on the blog. I'm excited about the sauce for Les Oeufs Jeannettes, a mayonaisse-like concoction made with sieved hard-boiled eggs rather than raw yolks. I can imagine all kinds of variations on this to keep my blender a-whirring and my dishes well dressed this summer. Pepin serves the eggs in the sauce, but you can see it on the eggs and the potatoes below.

Sensus Beaviis et Butt-headi

I'm endlessly tickled by the fact that in 17th- and 18th-century England, masseuses and masseurs-- massage therapists, if you will-- were referred to as rubbers.

Of course, condoms existed in 18th-century England, where they were called, among other things, French envelopes and condums. The OED acknowledges the initial use of condum in 1707; however it offers no support for the notion that the contraceptive was named after its supposed inventor, Dr. Condum. Scholar Zacharias Thundy argues that condoms existed long before 1706, suggesting that the word derives from cum domus/doma-- "with house."

With house
...[snicker, snicker, snicker]...

...[snicker, snicker, snicker]...

Zacharias...[snicker, snicker, snicker]...


One Tree Still

Love Moira Kelly. Loved all the shots of her unconscious-- both pregnant and then as a new mother-- on One Tree Hill's "The Birth and Death of the Day."


right now: ALL NEW hidden palms

This week's episode, "Ghosts," was beautiful to look at, though not overflowing with new info, new developments, or really anything new. That's no problem since surface is at the center of the show's project thus far. I'm happy just to watch the shine, the skin, the surface. Which leads me to my favorite image of episode two, this beautiful, enigmatic shot of the stainless-steel fridge door in Johnny's house:

The Carpet Matches the Drapes:
Similarly, I enjoyed this shot, in which Johnny's mom Gail [Karen Hardy] matches the curtains in his room. My image doesn't do this moment the gasp-worthy justice it deserves. Even the shadows on the blinds appear to be properly coordinated with the palette of the drapes.

In fact, I apologize for the quality of all the images. Even though it takes me ages to capture, crop, and select them, I must admit that they cannot compare to the show in HD. It's truly stunning.

Kenneth and I both loved the credit sequence-- perhaps the one thing that was new in this week's episode. It's reminiscent of the blissed-out hypereality of early Claritin ads.

Episode 2 maintained two elements established in the pilot.

1) Concern with the readerly:

Cliff: Well, look at Read-ee Readerson here. That's great.

2) Bed headedness-- more beautiful sheets and pillows.

I don't think Johnny's been in the house a full week and already his bed has been remade and refashioned. Lovely.

This week's sponsors included two depilatories! Leading me to worry over my relationship with Hidden Palm's target demographic.


Alyssa Milano looks great at 34 years of age. Dig the arching of the eyebrows when she says "Veet!"

Messy Drunk
Okay, so Nikki was also new to the show as a flame or fling (Johnny: There's history.) from Johnny's days at rehab. Rehab romance-- though surely not unheard of-- does veer toward the televisual. Less idealized, though, is Nikki's propensity for relapse, which she demonstrates in a big old sequence during which she climbs up on stage with a band; hitches up her boobs; grabs the mike; demands, "You guys know any Beyoncé?"; sort of sings along to Route 66; falls off the stage; vomits into a trash can; etc. Incredibly uncomfortable to watch.

Changing Complexion

Johnny's skin doesn't look so good during the party scene.

It's during this part of the show that Greta articulates a great gay-- or male?-- logic. [Some quick background info: Eddie was Greta's boyfriend before he killed himself and Johnny moved into his house.]
Johnny: What was Eddie like?
Greta: How much time you got?
Johnny: Oh. So, I'm guessing he set the bar pretty high.
Greta: You're here. You'vegotthatgoingforyou.
Mind you, I think a little bad skin can be hot on a teen. But, thank goodness Johnny's face cleared up during the walk home from the party...

...just in time for his big, hot smooch with Greta. It was really hot. Kenneth declared that sparks flew when these beautiful kids kissed. Part of the intensity was surely due to the mien(s) of the actors. However, part of it came from the fact that they held this pose for a really really long time:

I may have blushed. Or something.

Is Eddie Dead?
The episode's devilish conclusion:


Return of an Old Friend

I don't understand why recipes drop in and out of favor. I used to make perlow following Mark Bittman's recipe for "this relative of jambalaya...our indigenous risotto" on an almost weekly basis. Maybe its vogue was superseded by America's new favorite, salt and pepper shrimp? I'm delighted to announce perlow's return to our table.


One Tree Thrill: Notes on the brilliance of "The Runaway Found"

One Tree Hill has never been a guilty pleasure of mine: I've long been a viewer-- it's long been a pleasure-- but never a guilty one.

My investment in the show has dwindled in recent years. However, SOAP Net's recent re-broadcast of the first season reconfirmed and rekindled my interest and enthusiasm. SOAP net groups One Tree with Beverly Hills 90210 and The O.C. and promotes all three with a slogan that masterfully captures the show's strengths and pleasures-- "Pretty people. Pretty messed up." I imagine this line does justice to all three shows, but I'm only interested in my One Tree. The first season layers reversal upon reversal, development upon development, collision upon collision to produce a masterfully-crafted chain reaction of plot and character development.

I had to cancel my season pass to One Tree Hill on SOAP Net because, with one episode airing a day, it took up too much time. I'm trying to read more and watch less TV. Not cut out TV altogether, mind you. Just temper things. My friend Chris reminds me that I've been saying this for years...

As a result of my recent SOAP Net experience, I have become more attentive to current episodes of One Tree. The show is an entirely different beast at this point. Some episodes are merely perfunctory: for instance, the most recent installment "Ashes of Dreams You Let Die." Other recent screenings, however, have seen me laugh maniacally at the show's audacious artificiality. The recent episode"The Runaway Found" highlighted the operatic brilliance that is my One Tree. It incorporates an operatic intensity, use of visual emblems that evoke masques of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England, and dialogue at once staid and florid that makes me think of Dryden's heroic drama.

Some examples of brilliance from "The Runaway Found":

1) A drunken Dan accidentally smashes a bottle of booze on his brother's grave stone. Struggling awkwardly with a cigarette, he drops his lighter which sets the grave ablaze.

For those of you not in the know, Dan shot and killed his brother Keith.

2) Haley's assailant, Derek, is played by Matt Barr.

Barr has always looked like a gay porn star to me. In the Leo and Lance tradition. Or maybe a bottom akin to Kevin Kramer, seen here in Bruce La Bruce's Hustler White:

Derek's prison get-up only inflames any gay-porn resonance. But, One Tree delivers what gay porn, sadly, lacks. Whimpering and tears.

Now that's how a blond in a prison jumper is properly eroticized.

3) Dan takes aim.

Dan aims at stuffed bears (in a gun shop!?).

Dan aims at girl.

Girl drops dollie.

4) In a church,

Dan-- sitting in a pew-- loads a gun and

drops it into a paper bag.

5) A lovely example of chiasmus, Kenneth's favorite rhetorical figure:
Nathan: I've forsaken a game that's always been incredibly good to me. And teammates that have been like brothers. And a brother that was a teammate.
6) Dan, reflected in a framed photo of his brother Keith and his spurned son, Lucas.

Dan: I've done some horrible things. Unforgivable things. Lucas didn't need a father; he had one. He had a person that helped him breach the shame of my cowardice. Everything I've touch I've diminished: Deb's life, Nathan's talent, Keith...

Karen: You're not without redemption. I've seen it. I see it.
The implausibility of these terms, this phrasing-- their operatic pitch-- cinches the genius of this episode.

Two quick notes:
1) The image of Brooke Davis at the beginning of the post is not from the episode "The Runaway Found."
2) The images from the Hidden Palms blog look better than the above because we recently upgraded our equipment. I took snapshots of One Tree prior to the upgrade.