From the UW Archive:
Carrillon Tower before 1962

The archive only manages to specify that these are images of the tower before the 1962 construction of the Social Sciences Building.

Some Rustic Biscuits


Precipitous It

First it hailed.
Then it poured rain.
Next it flurried.
Now it snows.

We were really hummin'

This weekend's cake-- provisionally titled Deadbeat Club Cake-- comes primarily from Camille Glenn's The Heritage of Southern Cooking. My little 6" layers of yellow cake fit on a single rack.

Instead of the orange filling Glenn recommends, I opted for a layer of coffee pastry cream, mostly using Dorie Greenspan's recipe-- instead of adding coffee at the end, I steeped roughly ground beans in the hot milk, a trick I learned from Daniel Boulud's Cafe Boulud Cookbook which, after all, is co-written by Greenspan.

The finished cake will appear as soon as I snap a decent photo.



The best thing about my new mauve knickers:
the pink stitching that holds everything together.


How Many Cups??

During intermission at the UW-Madison Dance Program's spring program concert this evening, I bought a Perrier and a Reese's (2 Peanut Butter Cups) in order to support the budding student dance organization. I was only going to eat one of the cups and save the other for later, but I gobbled both down. OMFG--now, I am like on drugs. I haven't been this wired and wildheaded in forever. Apparently the concentration of the sugar and chocolate is just too much for me.
Erk: Dance is so delicate I mean watching dance requires focused attention and if a whole damn family gets up and exits in the middle of a piece then the piece is ruined and you know what else ruins a piece-- a dancer's contempo bra straps visible beneath her period costume-- the dance is ruined. But the concert was just terrific...

Kenneth: Oh, honey, will you even sleep tonight?

Erk: I'm wired, right??

Kenneth: How many cups did you have?

Erk: [manically tightening a loose drawer nob with his nail] Only two-- only two butter cups!

The Full Force of Spring:
Special Feature - Behind the Scenes


Still Scratching

Regarding "pursuit of stability"... here are a couple more scraps of paper. On the left, in addition to making notes, I kept track of the number of times I checked my email and my blog during a period of reading. On the right, during another period of reading, I tracked the times at which I had urges to check my email, etc. All of this was taken on because I'm tremendously distracted just now. I believe, though, that these projects only added to any distraction. As with meditating, one should simply let the unwanted thought flutter past-- not put the book aside and jot down the time of its occurrence. The best part is my note, between the 4:15 and 4:27 urges: "peed."

Scratch Paper

Discovered while tidying my office, this sentence:
I found myself flapping against the computer screen like a bird trying to defenestrate itself.
Began to revise the sentence in my head:
I found myself flapping against the computer screen like a bird trying to self-defenestrate.


Spot Sequins - Update

4.23.08 (enlarge to see people in the grass)




From the UW Archives:
Langdon Street Antics

1965: Frat boys launching water balloons at other frats and crew boats out on the lake.
I'm so into this image. I want to choreograph a piece based on it. Too bad I'm not a choreographer.


The Full Force of Spring

Bill Cunningham: ...in all the colors-- taxicab yellow or forsythia yellow...also the pinks, the color of tulips...

When BC says "all the colors," he means pinks and yellows.

Yellow. (The flash diminishes the transparency of this jacket, the fabric of which is the perfect merging of wax paper and Saran. Almost "like tissue paper.")

Pinks and yellows.

Yellow. Erk, whose loved ones discouraged him from investigating overalls, instead adopts slender braces.

The color of tulips.

I know that, sadly, I sport no fake Russian broadtail coats: my spring fashions mainly entail some new tees and a couple of windbreakers (which I'm wearing outside and inside, as if they were hoodies). Spring in Madison disappears in a wink-- quickly becoming summer heat. Which is why I focus on the tee. It's is also why my summer planning aspires to Macumban breezes, etc.: light accessories (feathers, braces) that will add minimum warmth to an outfit. Also, I'm a student and not making enough money for extravagant purchases.

The Full Force of Spring:
Some Souces,
A Preface

A Gasius jacket

from T --(Men's Fashion Spring 2008)
I'm still working on gray trousers or shorts.


You Know Chicken and Dumplings?

A Vegetarianized Recipe

Erk had high hopes of utilizing crossed-out fonts for unused things & steps, as well as tidily bracketing off his text from the original. In the end, the text matches the process: plagiarized mishmash with a random sprinkling of brackets...

1 cup total sugar snap peas (trimmed) + frozen peas
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup carrots (original recipe calls for baby carrots)
12 pearl onions (optional)

Olive oil or whatever you like— a ¼ c.?
3 tablespoons butter
1 bay leaf
some chopped onion (1/2 c?)
some chopped celery (1/3 c? a stalk or two)
some minced garlic if you want
Lots of mushrooms cut in nice meaty bits—Erk used just under a pound total of white + portabella
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
¼-1/2 cup dry white wine (optional)
1/4+ cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Parsley dumplings

Cook sugar snap peas and chopped celery in large saucepan of boiling salted water until crisp-tender [or tendercrisp], about 1 minute. Using slotted spoon, transfer vegetables to bowl of ice water to cool. Cook baby carrots in same water until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to same bowl of ice water to cool. Cook pearl onions in same water until tender, about 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer to bowl of ice water to cool. Trim root end of onions; peel. Transfer sugar snap peas, celery, baby carrots, and pearl onions to medium bowl. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. [Erk didn’t do the pearl onions; Ina Garten is a fan of frozen pearl onions and Erk believes she knows what corners to cut.] Sugar snap peas were very expensive so he only got a handful of those and added a bunch of frozen peas to compensate. He cut the sugar snap peas in half. He threw the frozen peas into the boiling water for just a second—just long enough to thaw/warm them. He also used cut up normal carrots instead of baby carrots, which he thinks are silly unless you’re serving them, in which case he finds them charming] [Erk took a cup or two of the light broth created by boiling the vegetables and ladled it over a vegetable bullion cube and set that aside.]

Sautee some onions, celery, and bay leaf in the oil until they turn soft. Feel free to throw in some minced garlic late in the game if you wish. Then toss in mushrooms and a little salt. Cook until the mushrooms release their liquid. You could throw in some white wine at this point if you want. Erk didn’t have any on hand, so he didn’t.] Toss in the butter, and stir until it melts and sizzles. Sprinkle the vegetables with flour and stir over medium-low heat just long enough so that the flour is no longer raw—3 minutes. Stir in reserved broth and cream. [The dish is very forgiving at this point: you can add water if the gravy seems too thick, but if you add too much water, you just simmer a while to thicken.] Stir in the parsley & thyme. [Actually, Erk added a bit of dried thyme to the oil when he threw in the onions-- this gets the flavor into the oil and removes any possibility of a dried herb taste. Once Erk gets this year’s thyme up and running, he’ll add fresh at this point.] Add the reserved vegetables and stir until they are warm. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in dumplings and simmer until dumplings are warmed through—a few minutes.

The dumplings:
Erk made the dumplings a few times [adding an egg yolk to one batch, etc]: he thought they were best when made with buttermilk instead of milk, when cooked 8-9 minutes, when a few grinds of fresh pepper were added, and when the dumplings were formed on the smaller side—the dough going into the steamer was in balls the size of jumbo gumballs or red rubber balls. Maybe a touch smaller. You really can make the dumplings in advance and let them sit until you need them. Don't try and keep them warm in the steamer-- they will overcook and do something in between drying out and toughening. Who knew that steam heat could dry something out!?!


Towards the Light

Shorn and stacked, with a bit of oozing caramel visible between the top two layers.

Dorie Greenspan's Cocoa-Buttermilk Cake.
DG doesn't call for caramel between layers, but I felt like experimenting with melted sugar.
The new cake stand and dome aren't fancy. I viewed them as primarily practical purchases (emphasis on storage rather than presentation), so I opted for heavy and plain over light and gorgeous.

Kenneth: Can I have cake for breakfast?
Erk: Of course!!!
Kenneth: I wonder if you can get personal lubricant in an aerosol-type spray-- like Pam...

Dumplings Not Alone

Along the way

Cute little steamed parsley dumplings resting before dinner.

6-inch cake pans setting out on their maiden voyage.


Breathing In

Two inspiring discoveries from the last few days:

Alexandre Herchcovitch's Spring-Summer 2008 Man collection: I could watch this video endlessly (lurch lurch lurch), and I plan to wear feathers in the coming months. For reals. Dangling feathers will add tiny Macumban breezes to my summer wardrobe.

Matthew Gray Gubler's website: I watched the final 2/3's of Criminal Minds the other night-- Season 3/Episode 14: Elephant's Memory. I'd never seen the show before. Dr. Spencer Reid's (Matthew Gray Gubler) herringbone sweater and forlorn locks caught my eye. And then there were adolescents, including a Johnny Cash adoring teen murderer, so I was all in. Gray Gubler was so cute and angsty smart and all that I looked him up after the show. At the end of my search, I happened upon his official site. Blew me away: I was expecting something sleek and star-machine-tooled, but instead I discovered his charming sketches and the fact that he appreciates cashews. I think I'm just aghast at finding-- at the end of a search that began with the CBS website-- evidence of a creative life being lived.

Just breathing all that in's been good for me this week.

Smooth E.


All the leaves!

spring fashionsspringfashionspringfashionsspringfashions

spring fashionsspringfashionspringfashionsspring



Spring Fashions

I debuted my spring fashions yesterday to great success. The success was defined by two cute & respectably stylish gay boys in their twenties distinctly cruising me-- one before 9 am. There was also a third less distinct encounter with a funny boy in a suit (Holding up a strip of plastic blockade for me to duck under, he said with twinkling eyes, "Madison construction"). That's a highly unusual set of events for me in Madison where homocruising in public is (in my experience) infrequent. Of course, it could have just been the weather, those two or three particular boys may have cruised everyone they passed yesterday, etc. But I like to think that the fashions, or the attitude they inspired in me, were the root of the reactions.

{photo I snapped of myself moving
through space in m' spring fashions}

Jin-Wen commented on today's offering: "Springy: all the leaves! [with accompanying lyrical hand gesture]" So far, so good.


Return of the Regular

Great Lines

"Everyone runs and falls with pillows."
-Sally Banes (on
Connecticut Rehearsal) in Terpsichore in Sneakers

"Most of us just don't have time in our schedules to get enough fiber."
-Fiber Choice television advertisement

"But it is a shame they chose to dance against that old eyesore, black curtains."
-Edwin Denby, "Nijinsky's
Faun; Massine's Symphonie Fantastique; American Ballet Caravan"

"His brother Aaron, for example, combined sectarianism with illicit medical practice and a keen interest in explosives."
-Adrian Johns,
The Nature of the Book
[not-- btw-- a book about explosivity, despite what my blog's sampling of it might suggest.]


My Love

Kenneth: I have bad news-- I ate an entire Toblerone.

A Large Hood

I fucked up the cake: measuring mistake (1 tsp. is not 1 Tbs.). Instead of fluffy white cake with hints of lemon and rose, we got a much more peasant-assed confection-- not exactly leaden, but not exactly light. The thing was supposed to have four layers, but what with the mismeasurement of baking powder, well, that wasn't happening. I theorize that because I've been making a lot of cornbread lately, I simply saw a cornbread-appropriate measurement when I glanced at the recipe...

The icing is quite silky and delicious: first egg whites and sugar are whisked over heat, then whipped into marshmallowy goo, and finally a great deal of butter is beaten in. We've eaten most of the cake despite the mishaps.

Inspired and frustrated by the process (which also involved making a large hood out of aluminum foil for refrigerated storage), I purchased a cake stand and dome and two 6-inch cake pans to ensure that we will have a cakeful future without having to eat massive amounts of cake. I also took a Sharpie to the cookbook.


Notebook Unearthed

empty but for these two pages. i can identify each of these (and even connect almost all to past blogs and activities), upon request of course.

Great Lines

"You've been lied to:
It's already inside you."
-Gnarles Barkley, Run

"I'm trying to say that what reads as a matter of fact plan achieved with intelligence and foresight is often a network of chance or fate and foolishness and paranoia and altering aggressiveness and passivity and envy and naivety and good humor and some smarts and time and more time."
-David Gordon in Terpsichore in Sneakers

"If he's baggage, he's carry-on luggage."
-Donna Brazile on Bill Clinton


For Internal Use Only

Note from a sheepish me to Kenneth & Kenneth's sweet response.

Spot Sequence - Update