Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Eclectic Ladyland

No recipes or outfits today, but I feel compelled to share some awesome flotsam and jetsam I received from two of my favorite ladies, Lady Z and Professor Tango. Both have been going on exciting international travels, and both sent me magical presents.

The first package contained two books Lady Z picked up in London, complete with instructions that Laine and I use them to further the "ladification of the New World." Here they are:

Recipes for High Class Cookery is a pretty comprehensive guide to Edwardian cuisine. About half of these things sound delicious, and about half of them sound hilariously difficult and possibly inedible. In any case, it's now required reading for our cooking staff, and I have full faith in their ability to recognize what is #Lady and what is not. In any case, the styling on this book is gorgeous, and the contents are totally fascinating.

If you know me at all, you know how much I love my thesis topic (fallout shelters); therefore, it should be no surprise that Advising the Householder on Protection against Nuclear Attack has got me pretty excited. It's a little hardcover version of a 1963 British civil defense pamphlet, which was formerly known as Protect and Survive. Protect and Survive was also translated into a twenty-episode series of short films, which in turn spawned countless parodies and critiques.

Here, for example, is what the Dubliners had to say:

The other package I got was from Professor Tango, who has been teaching elementary school in Korea since last fall. I wish my job resulted in photographs like this one:


Anyway, the Professor proposed before she left that if people would send her English books, she would send awesome ephemera and treats. I started by sending her Slouching Towards Bethlehem and A Good Man is Hard to Find. In exchange, she sent me an amazing haul of insanity from Seoul and from her trip to Tokyo.

For starters, there's this CD case:

And if you think the front is great, take a look at the back:

She captioned this one "GIRL U KNOW IT'S TRU."

She also sent me this banner from a Buddhist temple:

If any of you know Korean, and can tell me what this says (or at least that I've got it oriented correctly), I would be truly appreciative.

Next, there's the candy:

Ohhhh, the candy.

It's true that the little man in the suit with the sword is delightful, and it's true that these look delicious, and it's true that I am impressed that this bag is resealable. NOTHING, however, is truer than Laine's statement that one should never eat what one cannot identify. All signs (except the Japanese, which I cannot vouch for, nor can I find on the internets) point to this stuff being wonderful. My mouth, which is still in shock from the intense bitterness of these candies, begs to differ.

Then there was this:

Sorry for the iPhone-quality photos.
The important thing here is that you know that this appears to be LADY-flavored.

The gum itself was a surprising color:

It tasted more or less like a mixture of saccharine and
roses, which I guess is characteristic of some ladies.

This requires a palate cleanser:

Much better.

The funniest and safest of the candies was this:

So, you know, I would recommend getting Crunky.

And last, but certainly not least, postcards and stickers!

Tokyo Cat is from Tokyo!

And Seoul is full of Power Rangers.

This is confusing, but as good a time as any to think about that part
at the end of Waiting for Guffman where Corky St. Clair says "OW ARE OU?!"

Now THAT'S a bookmark.

And best of all, this giant decal:
Again, sorry for the photo quality.
From left to right, top to bottom: Wonder Woman, Superman, Wonder Woman, The Bionic Woman (?), The Rockford Files (?), Charlie's Angels, CHiPs, Fred Savage, Airwolf, The A-Team, The Greatest American Hero, MacGyver, V, The Facts of Life (?), V, Knight Rider (?), The Incredible Hulk, V, The Incredible Hulk, Knight Rider(?)

This concludes today's jaunt through Eclectic Ladyland. Thanks for the awesome stuff!

Monday, May 24, 2010

The End (LOST Spoilers Ahead)

I didn't start watching LOST until we had an ice storm about a year and a half ago and I had nothing else to do. I raced through the first season and immediately started watching season five with my friends and filled in the gaps as quickly as possible in what spare time I had. Since then, LOST night has been an institution that usually involves a lot of heckling and homemade snack foods. Even though basically everyone in the free world (except for Shaun) agrees that the show has not achieved its former greatness in several years, the social traditions we've built around LOST have kept us watching. As you might expect, last night's two-and-a-half-hour series finale was a pretty big deal.

Now it seems like the whole internet is in an argument between people who love the finale, people who h8 the finale, and people who are flailing their arms around going, "WHAT? I DON'T UNDERSTAND!" For me, all the finale proved was that Unitarians have a lot more patience for these angsty bitches than I do. It was like being hit in the face with a stained glass version of this:

and THEN being forced to endure Matthew Fox's crying face (© Claire Danes, 1994).

This wasn't SO surprising, but let's be real: LOST is totally Catholic. But not in the know-your-catechism, pious kind of way. (Mr. Eko was a testament to that.) It's Catholic in the drunk-on-guilt-and-maybe-liquor, apologetic kind of way, the kind of way that makes you hope it's Purgatory and continues to intrigue you even though you can't really explain why. And the details! There's so many that they could NEVER all be explained, and frankly, a lot of people prefer it that way.


So, I'm okay with the ending. I didn't love it, but let's face it, it could have been MUCH worse. If I had had my way, it would have ended like this:

And then Hurley and Lapidus would get high and laugh for two hours.
And then Ben would say something extra creepy:

Instead, it ended up being like this:

My sixth-grade self was VERY surprised.

I hate Jack and Kate so much. SO MUCH.

Anyway, we had snacks. Fish biscuits, fruit salsa and chocolate cake, all on white octagon Dharma-esque plates. Admittedly, the "fish biscuits" were more like this than this, but I love cheesy snack crackers, damn it.

The salsa is one of my favorites, too.

1/3 pineapple
1 large mango
1 orange
1/3 red onion
a LOT of cilantro
1/2 tsp Marie Sharp's Grapefruit Pulp HabaƱero Hot Sauce
(if you can't get Marie Sharp's, substitute regular habanero sauce and extra citrus)

The cake was dedicated to our LOSTbros' H8K8 Consortium, which is one of the most fun aspects of our group viewings. It bears repeating, however, that Evangeline Lilly, before playing Kate, starred in quite a few Live Links commercials.

To commemorate her acting history (because she has such a good acting face), I made this:

I relied heavily on fondant here, because I H8 it almost as much as I H8K8.

Anyway, here is the whole spread:

Here is Amy B displaying her intense K8H8:

And here's what I was wearing:

Dress: Carole Little Petites (part of an uber-90s skirt set stolen from Mom)
Glitter belt: Found it...

Earrings: Vintage, inherited from Great-Grandma Irene

Shoes: Antonio Melani


Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Top Ten Greatest Convenience Foods of the Modern Age

First of all, sorry things have been so slow around here, but finals week and the subsequent grade-a-thon chewed us up and spit us out, and now we're back. Although we focus on food and fashion, I like to think what sets this blog apart (aside from being at the mercy of the academic calendar) is a willingness to engage wholeheartedly with the lowbrow. Thus, this post is dedicated to that great staple of the school year's end, convenience food.*

Don't get me wrong: there are many, many delicious, cheap, and easy** meals out there, but I've tried to narrow it down to the most comforting, tried-and-true favorites. I suspect Laine and I might disagree on several of these. But as far as I'm concerned, these are the Top Ten Greatest Convenience Foods of the Modern Age.***

10) Michelina's Fettucine Alfredo

Okay, so it's not the best fettucine alfredo. But let's say you're in a hurry and you just want to eat something that is the perfect mix of comforting and maudlin--this is the appropriate dish. Make sure you put it in the microwave for a bit longer that the recommended cook time; this will ensure that the noodles are soft and that the edges are just golden brown and crunchy enough to be totally satisfying.

9) Smucker's Uncrustables (Grape)

You might be thinking "It's sort of pathetic to purchase frozen PBJ. How fucking lazy are you?!" The answer is totally lazy. And I'll have you know that it's deliciously pathetic. The beauty of these things is that you literally do nothing. You take them out of the freezer, put them into your bag, and by lunch time, they are room temperature. No sogginess, no gooey Ziploc bags--only tender, crustless magic that you can devour in four bites before the heinous student you have to meet with rushes into your office.

8) El Monterey Taquitos (Chicken & Cheese, Flour Tortillas)

I can't remember who the patron saint of drunk college girls is (St. Catherine of Alexandria? St. Jude?), but if ever there were a good offering, this is it. Apparently these taquitos have an Award Winning Taste! I believe it. A friend insisted that we get these one Saturday, and I acquiesced. Ever since, I occasionally crave these, and on those occasions, NOTHING ELSE WILL DO.

7) Maruchan Instant Lunch (Lime Chili Flavor with Shrimp)

So, it's cold outside, you have a stuffy nose, and you have seven pages to write before tomorrow? This little Styrofoam cup (with the addition of hot curry or cayenne pepper) will give you the strength to power through. It has the added bonus of costing less than thirty minutes of campus parking.

6) Red Baron Deep Dish Singles (4 Cheese)

These are awesome. They taste like what those personal pan pizzas from your high school cafeteria would taste like if your school was trying to piss off Jamie Oliver for being such a condescending little bitch by making the pizzas even more delicious.**** Put the little cooking tray on a plate, or your microwave will be covered in melted cheese. Delicious, delicious melted cheese.

5) Kashi Frozen Entrees Lemongrass Coconut Chicken

For the singular hippie type. Surprisingly convincing as an adequate, tasty meal, as long as you put it on a plate.

4) Campbell's Condensed Tomato Soup

Perhaps the most famous convenience food of all, and for good reason. Tomato soup and grilled cheese will never not make you feel better. Too lazy even to make grilled cheese? Throw a handful of Cheez-Its in your soup. Seriously, it's upsettingly amazing.

3) Morningstar Farms Chik Patties Original

Despite the truly horrible name, the conceptual offensiveness of imitation meat, and the alarmist horror of those who haven't Wikipedia'd hexane, these sandwich patties are truly delectable. Literally everyone I know, vegetarian or not, is totally thrilled whenever these appear at a cookout. They, too, have an Award Winning Taste.

2) Stouffer's Macaroni and Cheese

I don't know why they even bother advertising. Everyone knows this shit is good.

1) Eggo Waffles (Homestyle)

As Tina would say, these are simply the best. When I was a little kid, my favorite part of the day was waking up at 5:30 AM, eating Eggo waffles, and watching Jem reruns with my dad. I even sent away for an Eggosaurus watch. When I was in junior high, we had to do this project for math class that involved gridding off the box from some kind of food product and making a larger scale model. That's right: I drew and colored an ENTIRE Eggo box, and I enjoyed every second of it. When I had to take the Little Rock city bus to work the summer after high school, I ran out the door every single day with two Eggo waffles slathered with Nutella and peanut butter and stuck together like a sandwich. Whenever I go home, I eat these for breakfast with vanilla yogurt and fresh berries on top. I guess what I'm trying to say, Eggo, is thanks for all the memories.

And for those of you who doubt the cultural importance of convenience foods, watch this:

I'm well aware that people all over the internet have rants about nutrition, environmental degradation, classiness, and the emotional importance of sharing good food with people you love. While these rants are often justifiable, I am going to admit that I simply cannot muster the energy to care at this time of year. For those that want to judge or tell me that these foods can't compare to their homemade versions (duh), I encourage you to take three classes, teach three, attempt to have a social life, nurse a questionably healthy addiction to putting one's hair in complicated updos, and THEN make me a damned paella. There's a good chance that there are humans who do this, but I'm willing to admit my inferiority to them and/or their robot taskmasters.

**I bet you thought I was going to say "your mom." But I won't, because it's Mothers' Day. Hi, Mom! <3

***It occurs to me that "convenience foods" is a pretty general category. For the purposes of this list, I've tried to make things comparable by limiting myself to things that are acceptable as a meal. Also, I'm not advocating that you try to subsist on these things; I'm just saying that if you are a consenting adult, you should be allowed to choose what you put in your body, including some bullshit from the microwave on occasion.

****I'm all for healthier foods in school cafeterias, and I'll leave blogging on food politics to Laine, who's better informed than I am. However, I'm convinced that it's possible to encourage positive change without resorting to namecalling and shaming tactics.