Archive | November, 2013

Gratitude

29 Nov

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This week’s picture and recipe both courtesy of my deep need to pimp my latest column for Hello Giggles. You can get the recipe for Death by Chocolate Until You’re Blue-berry in the Face, and my musings on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory here. So to kick off this week’s list of giving thanks in honor of Thanksgiving, I’ll say thank you Zooey Deschanel, Molly McAleer and Sophia Rossi for founding a stellar website and letting me spew silly stuff about books and food on it. And now because I am sitting here biding my time on a bus back from LAX to home, I shall regale you with all that I am thankful for.
1) first and foremost my family. They are the best. Everyone should have such great parents. I really don’t have enough room to tell you how wonderful they are.
2) acting work. In this last year I’ve gotten to work with an awful lot of talented people. I’ve been in a movie on the Chiller Network. I’ve met some great casting directors and finally gotten into some casting offices I’d dreamed of getting a shot at. I finally felt like a part of pilot season. Now to keep it up!
3) improv/comedy: I am on an improv team I LOVE. We get the opportunity to perform every single week (Every Sunday unless there are 5 in a month-then we don’t do the 5th- 7pm! The Neon Venus). I also have a practice group from UCB classes I adore who hopefully will start doing shows soon. And I’ve done some scaryscaryscary stand- up.
4) auditions-still going out all the dang time and have a buddy who is always there to help me prep, and who I help get ready too. It’s good having an acting teammate.
5) writing. Up to episode ten on the episodic I’ve been writing. Blackboard Eats still sends me to some snazzy places, and I got the gig to write for Hello Giggles-so now I can claim that all my reading and cooking is in the name of my work writing The Book Cook.
6) You guys! Thank you for reading this. I’m sending y’all love, love love. Cause love is all you need.
7) friends. Hot dang I have some good ones, near and far. Now is a good time to thank Skype for keeping me closer with the far ones. As for the near ones, hot dang they’ve got my back. And they are into having pie parties. What more does a girl need?
8) baseball. A girl needs baseball. Finally got to a game. Granted I’d be even more grateful if the Cardinals had won the World Series but I’m proud of my hometown team all the same.
9) Patti Smith and Trent Reznor. My two biggest musical idols and I got to see them both.
10) Los Angeles. City I love you.

It hasn’t been ALL amazing, sure. There have been arm surgeries and jobs I didn’t get and traffic jams and foiled plans but all in all, I’m awfully happy.
I’m going to go hug the world now. Lies. I’m going to go home and do work worky work work just as soon as I get there.
Love,
Ellen

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Limoncello, Cynar, Thyme, Ginger: using what you have

21 Nov

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I wanted to invent some drinks that were all my own. I wanted to use up some herbs and bottles of alcohol that had little left. And I wanted to put my bottle of Cynar to the task.

So I came up with two new drinks, to be debuted at the pie and cocktails party Alice and I were hosting.

I gave these cocktails the names of Using What You Got and The Big Red Cat.

The Big Red Cat is in reference to the kids’ books about the big red dog, who is named Clifford. As am I. But puppy I am not. Actually I am part cat. I want to be petted and loved but only when I want to be. And I like to snooze all day. Insomniac here.
Is it just me or is snooze a kitty word? Speaking of kittens:

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That was early in the day last Saturday. The kitten rescue has actual kittens (as opposed to adult cats) right now. I tried to take better pictures but they were not keen on staying still.

Later that night Alice and I partayed with pie, friends, and very, very potent drinks. It did not occur to me that a lot of my friends were mostly beer and wine people and not used to my potent beverages.

I handed Alice a The Big Red Cat and her first analysis was that it tasted like a drink she’d get at a bespoke bar like No Vacancy. Well, it was.

Some were particularly pleased with the limoncello and ginger liqueur additions.

My friend Maurice just said the same thing he says any time I hand him a drink involving bourbon which is “tastes like cough syrup”. The man pours Tabasco on everything and and approximately zero taste buds left. We gave him a glass of mulled wine that Alice made instead.

My English Farmhouse Cheddar Pie, taken from Savory Pies by Greg Henry was demolished in about ten minutes. A friend showed up with apples and I crafted them into a pie, schooling all who were interested in how to form lattice.

This is my social life of choice.
Let’s drink to that.

The Using What You Got
2 oz. Bourbon
1/2 oz. Limoncello
3/4 oz. Cynar
2-3 dashes chocolate Aztec bitters
3 sprigs of thyme plus one to garnish.
Muddle thyme, limoncello, bitters, and Cynar. Add ice and bourbon. Stir. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a thyme sprig.

The Big Red Cat
1/2 oz. Campari
1/2 oz. Cynar
1 oz. Rye
1 oz. Dry vermouth
2-3 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
1 tsp. ginger liqueur
Stir it all over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add one giant ice cube.

Out of character

7 Nov

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I got new headshots this week. It’s one of those harrowing experiences the actor deals with on a yearly-ish basis. We are expected to be able to distill who we are in one, brilliant, eye-catching shot that will read when it appears the size of a business card on the casting directors screen. And we are supposed to get one shot that conveys all that commercially and one that says who we are in a non-smiley way. A lot of folks make the mistake of getting awesome hrs that don’t say anything about their personality. Then casting gets a surprise when the actual person walks in.

The problem is, although every actor has go-to roles-I tend to be the off-kilter smart type for example-but if you are a good actor you can play a variety of roles. Because the truth is, no one is as one-dimensional as they may seem. In the last month I played an awkward loser, an accomplished lawyer, and a controlling girlfriend. Not counting all the stuff I auditioned for. So I’ve been thinking about character.

This recipe feels out of character for my darling Mark Bittman. It feels right for a retro cookbook, like Betty Crocker, or even a French cookbook, but not for Bittman of the miso vegan before six ideas.

But perhaps I should not put my man in a box. He deserves to show us all his sides. Even if they are the frumpy 50’s food dishes. Because those can be quite palatable. Even, dare I say, delicious. Which these eggs are. I want to make a joke about my eggs here but I can’t quite figure out how and I need to run off and get into yet another character so I’ll spare you the weird sexual innuendos and get to the good stuff.

I’ll be totally honest that my instructions on white sauce are not the most nuanced. This largely has to do with the fact that I’m a white sauce hack. Feel it out. You can do it.
Eggs au Gratin adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian
1 Tbsp. Butter
1 Tbsp. Flour
1/2-1 cup almond milk
1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
3 hard-boiled eggs, halved
1/2 cup grated Swiss
Parsley
Paprika
Melt the butter and stir in butter. Cook and stir until it gets a wee but tan. Slowly whisk in the first half of the almond milk. I usually have to whisk like hell and sometimes use a heatproof spatula to break up any buttery flour clumps. Whisk in the mustard and a bit more almond milk to make a medium sauce. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spread a bit of your sauce in the bottom of a small pan. Lay eggs in, cut side up. Add in the rest of the sauce, spread cheese over, and broil until the cheese is bubbly. Sprinkle parsley and paprika over the top. Fantastic.