Sunday, February 28, 2010

This Week's Recipe

I'm a big fan of recipes for which the ratio of effect (deliciousness, with bonus points for presentation) to effort (time, skill, and stress) is high. This one definitely qualifies:

Three-Cheese Fondue with Champagne

It was super-easy and pretty darn quick to make, yet absolutely delectable. (My presentation could use some work here, but our fondue pot is on the other coast, so I'm giving myself some slack.)

Two small adjustments to the recipe, courtesy of a couple of commenters: I thinly sliced, rather than chopped, the shallots, and I combined the cornstarch/lemon juice mixture with the grated cheese instead of adding it separately.

And one discovery, courtesy of Zach: chopsticks work just as well as fondue forks (and are a much better bet if you are eating the fondue out of a nonstick pot!).

This is another great wintry recipe (yes, I'm still pining) and would be perfect for a romantic meal (you'll have leftover champagne to drink). The recipe says it serves two, but four is more like it. Guess we'll find out how well fondue works as leftovers. . . .

Monday, February 22, 2010

Coming Soon to a Small Screen Near You . . .

It's been a fun week for my own private McDreamy, who wrapped up shooting today on an episode of Grey's Anatomy in which he guest-stars as a patient at Seattle Grace.

He had a great time on the set, despite the fact that he spent most of that time either strapped to a gurney, stuck in a hospital bed, or in surgery. :)

Air date is subject to change, but right now it's looking like March 18. Once it's confirmed, I'll post details here.

(If you want to receive updates directly from Zach about upcoming appearances, you can join his mailing list.)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Going Local

We bought some lovely carrots at our local farmers' market yesterday. With some fresh-ground spices from a new spice boutique that just opened up the street, I turned them into this:

Indian Spiced Carrot Soup with Ginger

If you try the recipe, read all the comments first. (I took the advice of many and doubled the spices, and I also doubled the lime juice.)

Happily, there are leftovers!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Well Said

This link, to a post on Etiquette Tips for Dealing with Cancer Patients and Survivors, comes courtesy of Zach, who sent it my way.

It also comes at an opportune time, given my state of mind this week.

Here's a quote that particularly resonated with me:
We are no different from everybody else walking around in this world--no one knows their expiration date. The difference is that we're aware of it.
I don't know the author, who's been in active treatment for the past 12 years and was first diagnosed three years before that. But I am very glad to have had the chance to read her wise words, to share them with you, and to know that they have already helped many people who are struggling to help many other people who are struggling with some form of cancer.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Not a Good Week

I don't generally read the LA Times, but we've been living here long enough that I started scanning the online version recently.

I'm still processing Tuesday's news, and so it was especially upsetting to see this today on the paper's homepage:
Mary Susan Herczog, who wrote with poignancy and wit on having breast cancer, dies at 45
I didn't know Mary, or her website, But she was diagnosed at 33, and died at 45. Randi was diagnosed at 32 and died in her mid-forties.

Those numbers hit very close to home.

I could live another 60 years. I know that. I hope for that. I plan for that.

And most of the time I don't sit around and contemplate my mortality.

But it would be dishonest for me to say that this double dose of tragic news didn't make me do just that.

For a little while, at least.

I always come back to the same place: I face just as much uncertainty as anyone else.

I just have more reminders of it than most.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

In Memory, and in Debt

I received an e-mail this morning with the subject line "In Memory of Randi Rosenberg" and froze in shock.

Randi was one of the founders of the Young Survival Coalition and a past president of the organization. I knew her slightly when I was active in the YSC, back in 2002. She was full of energy and determination, and a lovely person besides.

This is the second time I've received word of the passing of a YSC acquaintance—a fellow "young survivor" who survived years instead of decades. It is impossible to describe the particular form of grief that accompanies such news.

Both women worked tirelessly on behalf of their peers—including me—"to increase the quality and quantity of life" for young women diagnosed with breast cancer.

In both cases, the quantity was much too small.

Randi leaves an incredible legacy as an activist, and an incredible void in the lives of those who knew and loved her best. I expect that there will be many remembrances of her in the coming days and weeks. Here is one on the LIVESTRONG blog.

The YSC is accepting donations for the Randi Rosenberg Young Women's Leadership Fund. I just made a contribution in her memory, and I will do my best to honor and remember the contribution she made to the much-too-large—and still growing—community of young women contending with breast cancer.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


My dad was incredibly sentimental, and he always observed Valentine's Day.

He sent my mom, my sister, and me cards that featured fancy script, long poems, and lots of pink. You know those cards—the goopy kind.

That's kind of how my dad was—goopy.

He didn't need a special day to celebrate love. He just breathed love, all the time. He was grateful every day that he was with my mom, and every day that he got to be a dad to my sister and me.

I think Zach and I do a pretty good job of appreciating each other every day—of telling and showing each other how we feel.

I'm tremendously grateful to have, and to have had, so much love from my two valentines.

And I'm really glad I saved at least a few of those goopy cards.

Beets! They're What's for Dinner . . .

The beets called out to me at our farmers' market yesterday. I'd never cooked with them before (and had only eaten them maybe half a dozen times), but I figured I'd follow my inspiration and find something cool to do with them.

Here's the result:

Beets and Caramelized Onions with Feta

I made one obvious (and critical) adjustment to the recipe: I roasted fresh beets instead of using canned (the thought of which kind of makes me queasy). Zach was kind enough to make the rest of the meal—lamb and couscous.

The dish turned out fine—not something I'd rush to make again, but something I'm happy to have tried. And the deep red color was definitely fitting for the day.

Friday, February 12, 2010

In Praise of Snow

I was on the bus today and walked past a man carrying a full-size ironing board. It made me think of New York, where people are always lugging stuff like that around on public transportation.

I have been feeling homesick this week, with all the talk of blizzards back East. In NY, a snowstorm was always a community event—it instantly unified the entire city.

There's nothing like that here—no real sense of community (to me at least). Maybe it's different when the Lakers win the NBA championships (or the Dodgers win the World Series, if that still happens). But probably not even then—at least, not in the same way.

Now that we live in LA, I often compare NY to the traditional four-year college: the one with the big quad in the middle of campus, which everyone crosses on their way to and from classes. And if NY is a college, Manhattan is the quad.

No matter where you live in the NY metropolitan area, you probably pass through Manhattan with some regularity—maybe even every day. There's a critical mass there—lots of other people passing through or sticking around, lots of places to go and things to do. If you're headed there for one reason, you'll end up finding another to extend your visit. Maybe you go in for work but stay to go to the theater. Or you have a doctor's appointment and go shopping on the way home. Or you run an errand, bump into a friend, and go out for a drink.

Even if you're based in Brooklyn or Queens or New Jersey—the equivalent of living off-campus—you still find yourself on the quad all the time. And you run into people all the time. And you have a vibrant, thriving community.

By contrast, LA is like a commuter school, where people get into their cars, drive to class, and then drive home.

There's no quad—or if there is, it's typically deserted. That's what downtown LA is like. It should be a hub, but it's not.

You rarely run into people out here, and even getting together by design is a challenge. LA is enormous, and people are spread all across its sprawling neighborhoods.

Traffic and parking make it undesirable to try to see friends across town. And that's where they always seem to be: across town.

In NY, Manhattan is generally acknowledged to be the most desirable place to live (resources permitting), so there is almost a centripetal force at work. If you live "off campus," you are naturally pulled toward the quad because there are so many people and so many things to do there—the critical mass beckons.

In LA, some of the most desirable places to live are at the edges of the "city"—out along the ocean or up in the hills—so you have a centrifugal force that keeps people in their homes and creates a vacuum in the middle. No "there" there is right.

People on both coasts think I'm crazy to be pining for a blizzard. But it's not just the snow I miss—although I do love seeing NY blanketed in white, with kids sledding in the park and adults snowshoeing down the city streets. And I do love the peacefulness of the scene, the amazing quiet of the snow-covered nights—because it's such a change from the everyday hustle-bustle-jostle-tussle that is NY.

But what I really miss is the solidarity of shoveling the snow from the sidewalk amidst my neighbors . . . of ducking into a bar where we can warm up by the fireplace surrounded by other shivering souls . . . of savoring a snow day and then trading stories about it the next morning, once we bundle up and cross the quad and see each other again.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Better News

Two close friends' loved ones are out of the hospital, and a third got the best possible results on a couple of scary tests.

I am counting blessings and giving thanks.

Monday, February 08, 2010


The very nice bra fitter who was unable to help me on Saturday recommended that I check out Title Nine, a retailer that caters to active women.

As their un-mission statement says, "We are evangelical about women's participation in sports and fitness activities."

It also says "Policies make us nervous." And "We're quirky!" And "We like dessert." What's not to like?

Title Nine mostly sells clothes, but they do have an extensive "Bras & Undies" section, not to mention a Bra Genie, a Bra Finder, and Bra Coaches(!).

Their closest retail stores are in the Bay Area, and I will be making a pilgrimage on my next SF business trip in a couple of weeks.

Because I think it's fair to say that I need a finder, a genie, and a coach!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Still Cooking . . .

I'm happy to report that my plan to try a new recipe every week is still going strong.

Tonight's dish:

Pork Tenderloin with Pears and Shallots
(with a side of roasted butternut-squash purée with sage)

Last week's:

Quinoa with Moroccan Winter Squash and Carrot Stew

Both are great winter dishes (especially if your winter features actual cold weather. . . .).

Bon appétit!

Great Dumplings, Anyway

Yesterday's professional bra fitting did not go well.

The fitter was lovely, and she brought lots of things for me to try, but she quickly realized that I'm a lot more challenging to fit than, as she put it, "the average bear."

A highlight of our exchange:
The fitter: You've got a real conundrum.

Me: I've got two of them.
Just to give you a sense of how extreme the situation is, here's what she said in a follow-up e-mail to me this morning:
"I feel very badly that I wasn't able to be of help. It's not often that I can't even get close to a solution."
Not even close is right. Ugh.

Maybe my reality-show idea has some merit after all. . . .

On the positive side, we took a slight detour on the trip to check out Din Tai Fung, a Chinese/Shanghainese restaurant featuring "little pillows of perfection"—aka "luscious," "handmade" soup dumplings—according to Zagat.

You don't often see a Zagat review where the food rating (26) outstrips the price ($21), and I'd been hearing about this place ever since we arrived in LA, so we went.

And the dumplings were divine.

My own not-so-little pillows of imperfection?

I don't want to know what Zagat would say about them.

Friday, February 05, 2010


After my second consecutive looong week at work, I treated myself to an hourlong foot massage/reflexology session that also included a neck-and-shoulder massage.

And a leg massage.

And an arm massage.

And a hip massage.

And a forehead/temple massage.

And a scalp massage.

The whole thing cost $25, and the only things I had to take off were my shoes and socks.

Not a bad way to end the week!

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

If at Fifth You Don't Succeed . . .

On Saturday, Zach and I are going to drive thirty-some-odd miles (up to an hour and a half in traffic, according to Google) so that I can try once again to find a bra that actually fits. (I have already stumped at least three professional fitters in New York and two in LA.)

My mom did a little poking around (thanks, Mom!) and found this fitter, who is actually based in the Bay Area but travels to Southern California one weekend a month. Hence our upcoming road trip.

In one of our e-mail exchanges, the fitter asked me, "What are you biggest problems/complaints with bras?"

Where to start???

I ended up sending her a long message that outlined (in seven bullet points) the various issues I've been dealing with for the past nine years. Apparently, it was detailed enough to obviate the need for me to fill out her standard form.

Here's what she said in response:

"[Y]ou've done an admirable job of providing all the information I need. I won't promise that I'm going to be your solution either, but I'm certainly willing to try."

I'm willing to try, too.

And I can only hope that the sixth time will be the charm. . . .

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Tough Times

Tonight I am thinking of good friends going through tough times: the loss of a parent, a seriously ill child, a spouse suffering through chemo, a broken heart. Wishing you all comfort, peace, and better news tomorrow.