Tuesday, December 21, 2010

SNOW! .... Rain, Rain ... and Rain

I'm exhausted!

My sister came to Albuquerque (she flew into the teeny-tiny airport) last Wednesday night. We went immediately to the delicious but rather ghetto Frontier so that I could throw her head-first into New Mexican cuisine (carne adovada burrito and green chile stew).

Because I had to work, she pretty much stayed in my apartment, watching random movies on my DVR and getting some work done. On Thursday night, we went to Sadie's, another great New Mexican place that is not, perhaps, the classiest. (Their website is just horrible.) More delicious carne adovada, plus the sister's first taste of sopaipillas, a very New Mexican thing to eat.

When we left Sadie's, the rather pounding rain had turned into beautiful, fluffy, lovely, delicious snow!

It was beautiful! And also very cold and wet, which no one ever tells you about, annoyingly. We had a very "white Christmas" moment, listening to Christmas music in the cozy-warm car while driving cautiously through the flurry.

No one ever mentions how quiet snow is, either. Rain comes down pretty loudly, banging into the car with a rattle, making its presence known. Snow lands gently and hugs the car with nary a sound, making it seem happy and fun. I loved it!

Of course, no snow lasts forever. There was a tiny little flurry in the morning, but it had pretty much melted away. I couldn't even call into work and skip out due to a snow day. I was dejected.

I got out of work on Friday at about 9:00 or so, late enough that it was already frigid and pitch black outside. No snowflakes in sight. I was exhausted from the working and the stressing (Fridays feel like the last chance to get things done, last chance to squeeze everything in).

My sister (who had flown out to road trip with me) and I had decided that in order to surprise our parents, we would get to LA on Saturday night, Sunday morning at the latest. It's a rough drive in the winter, because the usual route I take (the 40) is about 3 - 4 hours shorter than the longer but warmer (i.e. less frozen) route that I took this time (the 10).

We drove south for a few hours on Friday night, arriving around 2:00 a.m. in Las Cruces. I was wiped out, but still didn't sleep until 4:00 or so. (Checking in was an insanely long ordeal- people that work night shifts need to be better prepared for things to happen.)

The next morning saw us checking out around 10:00 and heading west. It got warmer and warmer and warmer, eventually hitting the high 60's! I was delighted and confused, all at once. It was nice to not shiver, but it was odd to actually feel hot. I had to wear sunglasses for the first time in ages.

Since we'd already had a white Christmas in the snow, we stopped in Tucson and had a hot Christmas with tamales, a traditional Christmas food in Mexico and some South American countries. We stopped by the Tucson Tamale Company, where the tamales were stupendous, the salsa delicious, and the sides a little lackluster. I had a Santa Fe (pork, green chile sauce, and cheese) and a JoJo (very spicy, apparently, with chipotle beef, jalapeno masa, and cheese). I expected to really love the JoJo, since I love spicy, but I actually liked the Santa Fe much more. It was porky, with a really nice green chile, and melted, delicious cheese.

I want another tamale now. I shouldn't have written about them.

So we got the east coast snowy Christmas out of the way, the southwest tamale Christmas done, complete with hot weather, and headed to our Korean church Christmas.

As soon as we got into California, the rain began. The unending, pounding rain. What is going on here?? It's been raining non-stop the entire time I've been home, and I don't appreciate or know how to deal with this amount of water.

We had our Korean church Christmas on Sunday, regardless of the rain, and it was a rousing success. I feel sufficiently full of holiday cheer now (though I went Christmas shopping yesterday and my goodwill toward mankind vanished).

Last night (this whole week, actually) is baking night at Chez Sister, a.k.a. Chez Butter, and I helped with a couple types of cookies after my exhausting shopping expeditions. I rolled, filled, and washed dishes, then fell into bed so tired that I didn't even need to read for a while to try to get sleepy. It was delightful.

Woke up to more rain. Sigh.

I am so ready for the rain and the working to be over. I don't mind rain as much when I don't have to work, and I can observe it while cozy at home. Working until Thursday, then off to my parents' where they and my sister's bunnies are holed up, so we can all eat and drink and be merry until we're puking up sparkles.



Thursday, December 16, 2010


It snowed for hours here after raining all day. I have never been in such a heavy snowfall before! The snowflakes were exactly that- large, light flakes that landed gently on everything, including eyelashes and clothes. A white Christmas!


The Furies

Granted, I am not a character from Greek mythology. I do not have two sisters with whom I terrorize men. I do not have snakes in my hair. I am not able to turn men into stone (a skill that I really would use quite frequently).

However, I am reminded lately about how furious I am capable of becoming.

I am infuriated by so many things currently. Some of the people I see daily are making me feel homicidal, on an hourly basis. The passive-aggressiveness that is so prevalent, the finger-pointing and the sly comments ... it's all got me on edge. If you're going to be accusatory, just DO IT. That way, I can face it, point out why you're wrong, and move on with my life.

When I stress out like this, I tend to clench my teeth while I sleep. I wake up with my jaws aching, which is not a good start to the day.

I don't know how to lessen this feeling, this anxiety. It started raining late last night and is still raining now, the longest I have ever seen rain in this city. That's making me feel a little better. Something about rain, cleansing and cathartic, soothes me. (The white noise that I use sometimes when I can't fall asleep is a rainy Amazon jungle.)

I cannot wait to change my life again. Move somewhere new, with new people. I think this might be a new addiction, and one that I don't care to try and control.

I'm eyeballing Vancouver and London. Rainy cities, true, but also full of culture and very, very different from Albuquerque or LA. Hmm...


Friday, December 10, 2010

Green Lantern Trailer

The trailer's been out for a while now, but I haven't been paying all that much attention. Here it is in all its glory:

Nothing's really done yet. Trailers are generally created quite early in the process, so don't judge too harshly. It's just an idea of what the movie will be.

I would think that there will be another trailer at some point, closer to the release date (June 17, 2011) that will be more indicative of what the real movie will look like.

It's really cold here lately and I've been working pretty consistently 10-hour days, so I'm tired almost constantly. Add to that an inability to sleep (I can't fall asleep until 2 a..m. most nights), and I'm basically a walking zombie.

Plus, co-workers are annoying me and I don't want to just rant on and on. That's not healthy, nor do I want to spend any more time thinking about them than I already do.

I can't wait for Christmas break. If only it started sooner!


Monday, December 06, 2010

Lorelei Lee

I prefer Dorothy Shaw (Jane Russell is divine and I always root for brunettes over blondes), but Marilyn Monroe, as Lorelei, has the best line in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes":

"I want you to find happiness and stop having fun."

That feels true sometimes, oddly enough. I am crazily homesick and can't wait to go back. I miss the most unexpected people and want to see them, hug them, talk to them, laugh with them.

For now, I count the days and try to focus on work, watching random movies and craving my mother's kimchi in the meantime.


Wednesday, December 01, 2010


It's unreasonably cold in Albuquerque.

I've grown up in California my entire life (other than the first three years of my life, in Korea, which I don't remember, so those years don't count) so "cold" to me is anything below 60 degrees.

It barely gets up into the 30's here during the day lately. That's not cold, that's frigid!

Added to this weather problem that I'm having is also an insomnia that's suddenly decided to re-manifest itself. I have random bouts of sleeplessness, generally for a few months at a time, and this time, it's pretty bad. I can't sleep until at least 2:00, sometimes as late as 4:00, and then I have to get up and get to work at 9:00 (... or so).

It's been a crap winter, to say the least. So I should at least get some dessert out of it, right?

During a sleepless night two nights ago, I checked out my supplies and then decided I should make brownies. I didn't have the wherewithal to put together a whole cake, and brownies are much easier. So I did.

Cocoa powder (unsweetened- I like Ghiradelli's, it's very chocolate-y without that bitterness that chocolate sometimes has).
Eggs, of course. These are local eggs from a local organic farm, which are not (surprisingly) any more expensive than "regular" eggs.
Disaronno, because I don't have vanilla extract. I can't believe I don't have vanilla extract at home, but there you have it.

A stick and a half (!) of butter. Unsalted, of course. I used a two quart pot and it worked out just fine. I never went over medium-low heat.

Flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt, dumped into an eight-cup Pyrex.

Whisk, whisk, whisk. I tried to whisk out all the lumps in the flour and cocoa powder ... but couldn't really be bothered to get too gung-ho about it.

Eggs with a (generous) splash of Disaronno. Because I'm at 5,000+ feet altitude in a very, very dry environment, I can go crazy with the liquids and it doesn't really matter. In fact, the brownies would probably have been overly dry had I not added a little too much of the Disaronno.

The butter was almost completely melted when I dumped the sugar in (I went a little shy on the sugar, because I like dense, rich, not-too-sweet brownies, none of those crazy sweet things that pass as brownies).

Stir, stir, stir. Bamboo spoon from my mother.

Smooth and melty butter with sugar. Yummmm. I did actually make sure there were no conspicuous bits of sugar left, because sugar becomes quite grainy, I feel. It only took a couple minutes- I just stirred occasionally while measuring out the dry ingredients and whisking them.

Adding the dry ingredients and stirring.

All the dry ingredients go in, and it looks like it's a powdery mess. It kind of is, and overly-enthusiastic stirring will result in chocolate-y brown puffs of cocoa and flour. I tried to stir gently and lovingly.

All stirred together. It ends up looking quite dry and sad.

I missed photographing a step here- the eggs and Disaronno get whisked together and then dumped into the pot, after taking the pot off the heat. Then the contents of said pot get stirred together until combined. It was late at night and I was kind of just snapping lazy photos with my phone. Eh.

Poured the (very thick) batter into a pan lined with foil. I used the waxed paper wrappers of the butter to lightly grease just the corners of the pan, since bunched-up foil can get a little clingy. It's just a teeny amount of butter, but I think it helps.

Into the oven for 20 or so minutes, then out it comes to cool. I cooled for a long time just because I forgot about the brownies while I was off doing other things.

I got 28 brownies out of this recipe. I think the next time I make them, I will try it with brown sugar (as in the original recipe) and try to remember to buy vanilla extract (though the Disaronno added a very nice, very subtle little hint of something- maybe I'll add both). I think I might try adding some form of nuts, too. Probably walnuts, chopped into biggish pieces.

A good, really easy recipe for brownies that doesn't require too much clean-up (a huge must in my book- I hate scrubbing and washing for ages after an experiment in the kitchen).

Everyday Brownies
adapted from Nigella Lawson

1  1/2 sticks of butter (12 tablespoons)
1  1/2 cups of sugar (I probably used about 1  1/3 cups)
1  cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1  cup all-purpose flour
1  teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
4 eggs
1  tablespoon Disaronno

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Melt the butter over a gentle heat in a medium-sized saucepan.

Once the butter is melted, stir in the sugar and blend.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder, flour, baking soda, and pinch of salt. Stir the dry ingredients into the saucepan. When mixed (this will be a very dry mixture and not wholly blended at this stage), remove from the heat.

In a bowl or jug, whisk the eggs with the Disaronno and then mix into the brownie mixture in the pan.

Stir in chopped chocolate or nuts at this point, then quickly pour and scrape into a foil-lined baking tin, spreading the mixture out evenly.

Bake for about 20 - 25 minutes (I would start checking at 15 minutes).

The brownies should look set, dark, and dry on top, but a toothpick or skewer should come out gungy. Set the pan on a rack to cool before cutting into 16 pieces (Nigella's suggestion, I would suggest smaller pieces) and dust with confectioner's sugar (powdered sugar, which I didn't have and I didn't miss).

Make-ahead note: The brownies can be made up to 3 days ahead and stored in an air-tight container. Will keep for a total of five days (or, if you leave then in an air-tight container in the fridge, much longer).

Freezing note: The brownies can be frozen for up to 3 months in an air-tight container, layered with parchment. Thaw overnight in a cool place (the fridge, I assume).

Really, honestly, very good brownies. And easy enough to make anytime, provided you have a few ingredients, which most people do have just lying about.

The brownies didn't cure my insomnia, but they are a great dessert. Very, very chocolate-y without being overly heavy or rich. And really good with a small scoop of frozen Cool-Whip on top (yes, I like my Cool-Whip frozen until it's rock hard).

Now if only I can sleep.....