Tag Archives: improv

Green, not with envy

22 Sep

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Ohmygod life right now. Whereas I spent a good chunk of this year envying everyone who didn’t have disaster crashing down on there heads-did I tell you about my collapsing ceiling? I had an entire ceiling collapse of its own accord earlier this year.
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I counted myself as lucky that I wasn’t in the room when it happened but it still sucked. And I wasn’t getting enough jobs and a potential book deal didn’t end up happening and there was briefly a boy and just as quickly not one (silly boy) and so on.

Things always do improve though at some point. The last couple of months have been fantastic. Although initially distraught when one of my two improv teams broke up, suddenly we had the time to shoot all the films n such we’d been wanting to make. So we did shoot a bunch of shorts and several weeks ago I got to be a goth vampire. It was really delightful fun:

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I realize I don’t look like I’m having fun. I was trying to make fun of that silly model pose. Where they suck in their stomach like they need to or something. As if. Blech.

I also got to play a heroin addict in a web series but I will spare you the pictures of how incredibly disgusting I spent my days on set being. Let’s just say there were track marks, massive bruises, and…greasy, greasy, GREASY stringy hair. Anytime I sit down to get my hair done on set and the stylist starts with “now, the way I rat your hair it’ll be easy to untangle”, it is a bad sign. Because the day will end with me ripping out masses of hair that won’t come un-ratted. But the pain (inner and outer) was worth it. I hadn’t played a dramatic role in a while and it sho nuff filled me up.

On the food front I am starting to get more cookbooks sent to me by publicists to write about in my Hello Giggles column. I’m pleased to report the most popular review yet was about Savory Pies, written by Greg Henry magnificent Sippity Sup….night swimming. I became even more a fan when he invited me to join The Table Set for a little Nightswimming and drinks n nibbles with him and the Set. They are positively as lovely to hang out with in person as they are to insert in my earholes. It’s a podcast people. Get out of your filthy heads.

Earlier this weekend I shot a spec episode this lil’ show I came up with called Girls on Girls. I could explain how it isn’t SO dirty but I’d rather let your filthy minds wander where they need to. Until we get picked up.

So right now, needing a new agent, sans romance, not dipping where I’d like to be on that silly imdb star rating…I’m not so bothered by it.

What am I bothered by? The distress I felt the other day as I combed grocery store after grocery store in search of my beloved rainbow chip frosting. Which apparently is now a rainbow sprinkles frosting. Fucking sprinkles. I do not believe in sprinkles-either the vulgar-tasting frosting maggots or the cupcake store. Cupcakes, along with sprinkles, can go to heck. What I like I a good SLICE of blimey CAKE on a PLATE! With a FORK! Wow. Wanna get me riled up? Just start talking cupcake smack. Blech again. UGh. Sorry. Walking it off.

I now will let you eat cake.

Green Velvet Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream adapted from 75th Anniversary The Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker
For the Cake:
2 1/3 cups sifted cake flour (which means sift a bunch first, then measure it)
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. cocoa powder
1/4 cup powdered buttermilk (or whatever your brand says is the equivalent to one cup of buttermilk-if you have real buttermilk you can leave this out)
3/4 cup unsalted butter
1 1/3 cup sugar
3 large eggs, whisked together
1 tsp. vanilla, whisked with the eggs
1 cup water (or, if you left out the powdered buttermilk, use real buttermilk here and don’t try to use regular milk-it lacks the acidity you need)
about a Tbsp. food coloring
For the Frosting:
1/2 cup butter
2-3 cups powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp. Bailey’s Irish Cream
Get all your ingredients out of the fridge, you want them around 70 degrees before starting. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray two 9-inch cake pans with nonstick spray, or butter them.
For the cake:
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, buttermilk powder (if using) and cocoa powder.

Beat the butter until it is good and creamy. Keep the speed high and slowly add in the sugar. Make sure it is nice and fluffy before proceeding. Slowly beat in the eggs and vanilla. Now turn your mixer to low. Beat in a third of the flour mixture, then half of the water or buttermilk and all the food coloring-I just dripped in the color until I was satisfied with how it looked. Then beat in another third of the flour mixture and the second half of the water. You may need to scrape down the bowl some. Beat in the last third of the flour. Beat it good. Divide it between the pans and bake 25-35 minutes. You may want to rotate the pans in the oven midway to so they cook evenly. You know your cake is done when a toothpick stuck in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Well there may be a crumb or two, you just don’t want it coated in batter. Start testing early because you really don’t want to over bake this.
For the frosting:
Beat the butter until fluffy. Beat in powdered sugar carefully. No sugar blizzards please. Beat in the irish cream until you have a nice consistency.
Once the cake is cooled, ya frost. Yeah cake.

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Chocolate Pecan Tart

24 Jun

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Seeing as the next of my epic pie parties is scheduled for next month and I still haven’t given you the tart recipe from the last one (although I more than repaid you in giving the horchata cocktail, methinks) I thought it was high time to post this.

Acting is getting busy AGAIN! Just look at my star ranking, haha. Super.

Exciting Moment in Improv

Exciting Moment in Improv

Between acting and improv (which as you see from above frequently ends with me splayed out on the floor) and this lil’ column I’ve got my hands full. You should click all those links. Because the other thing keeping me so busy is self-promotion. Haha, again. Sort of. I jest. Or do I? Even I do not know.

So let us discuss the edibles. This pie is like a giant hunk of candy. It looks pretty, it tastes like dark sunshine (the kind with antioxidants) and is much easier than you would surmise. It is one of those things I made on a whim first when I was probably not even a teen yet. If I recall correctly we bought just enough cream to make it. My dad was helping me and the two of us burnt the cream. We had to wait until we could go back to the store the next day and get more cream to finish it.

But it was so blimey good I’ve held on to and repeated the recipe many a time since the Great Cream Incident of Nine-ty Something-or-Another.

Do make this. Don’t be me and get behind on your pie. It’s important.

Chocolate Pecan Tart adapted from Bon Appetit (from their RSVP section so they got it from a restaurant I know not any longer which one though because I wrote it down and tossed the magazine long ago)
2 cups pecans
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 heaping tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. butter, room temp
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cinnamon stick
8 oz. Bittersweet chocolate
4 oz. Semisweet chocolate
Heat oven to 325. In a food processor blend nuts, sugar and cinnamon until finely ground. Add butter and blend until mixed. Press into a 9-inch tart pan with a re moveable bottom or follow my lead and line a 9-inch pan with foil so you can lift out and unmold your tart later. Bake until lightly browned, around 20 minutes. Allow to cool. Chop chocolate. Bring cream and cinnamon stick to a simmer. Stir in chocolate until melted. Pour into tart crust, removing cinnamon stick. Put in fridge to chill. Unmold before serving.

Pie parties, horchata cocktails, and what the hell am I doing?

8 Apr

Goth-chata

Goth-chata

Firstly, I devised the horchata cocktail. Me. Moi. Then literally a few weeks after I came up with it the recipe I’m going to share, a new trendy restaurant called Gracias Madre opened and everyone is talking about their horchata cocktail. But mine is better. And…goth-er. Which is to say I made my own horchata OUT OF BLACK RICE.

I devised the horchata cocktail for a pie party. Details to follow the following brain hemorrhage:

In between planning amazing pie parties like the one I shall regale you with tales of, I am pretty busy as an actor. I’ve been having a boatload of improv shows every
week, but in between all the performing I see the rest of the world, the people with real jobs wondering what the heck I do all day. And when asked on the spot I stammer and can’t quite remember it all because it’s a lot and so I come off as…I dunno. A not-busy person. God forbid. So I’m gonna tell you today’s activities (which now was a week ago). First off, I open up my laptop and email like a madwoman. Then I check the breakdowns to submit myself for roles that if I’m lucky I get called in to audition for. After fielding my email the breakdowns are my first stop. I go back to email and breakdowns a dozen times a day. Then I had an audition. This one was not too far, and it was in the golden hour when traffic is less horrible, so it didn’t take long. But between traffic and depending on how behind the casting office is running, an audition will bite several hours out of your day. Not counting all the prep time for it. After my audition I worked on scripts for another couple of upcoming auditions. What’s my motivation? No, really. What is it? Then I researched agents (I’m trying to find a new one) and wrote the perfect cover letter to send to one particular agent. This took a while. More work on scripts. What are my obstacles? Then I worked on the column I write for Hello Giggles. Then I updated my website with info on upcoming shows I’m doing and who my manager is because it just changed. Then I got in touch with a headshot photographer because I need new shots. Next I need to put the finishing touches on a pilot script I want to enter in a contest. And then I get to have late night coffee or who-am-I-kidding wine with a friend I want to collaborate with on a project. Because in LA your friends and the people you work are often one and the same. Which is both good and bad. Many evenings I’d be headed off to a class or a workshop or a practice or to do a show (after which there may or may not be wine) but tonight I get to skip to the wine.
And that, folks, is how I have “no job”.

And of course, there are the pie parties.

The last one was “Dark Side of the Pie” and took place right after Valentine’s Day as a palate cleanser. I made horchata with black rice, and designed a cocktail using it. I made a dark chocolate tart (recipe to come at a later date). Because I am still trying to perfect a southwest potato pie I made that but used purple potatoes to add some darkness. Guests were instructed to try to where black and red. Not all my friends came through on the attire, but many did bring red wines with delightfully goth labels.

It was pretty swell. Really, I am not sure where I’d be without my friends. Either slightly crazier or saner?

This cocktail had two variations for the party, but my friend Joel brought me a bottle of cinnamon liqueur that I later plan to use to create a third variation. Cinnamon liqueur was probably invented for the purpose of boozifying horchata.

Cocktails from the Dark Side: Amaretto and Chocolate
For horchata (adapted from David Lebovitz’s recipe here)
2/3 cups black rice, ground in the blender
3 cups warm water
1 cinnamon stick
2 cups almond milk (chocolate almond milk for the Kahlua version)
Soak the rice and cinnamon in water for a minimum of eight hours in the fridge. Remove cinnamon. Stick an immersion blender in there and blend more. Strain through a sieve lined with cheesecloth twice. Add sugar and milk. Refrigerate.
For cocktail:
1 oz. black rice horchata
1 oz. rum (light or spiced, take your pick)
3/4 oz. amaretto (or 1/2 oz. Kahlua if you made the horchata with chocolate almond milk)
a few dashes of chocolate chili bitters
cinnamon to garnish
Shake all except the cinnamon up. Strain over one giant cube. Garnish with cinnamon. Sigh in delight. Then sigh with great melodramatic tones. Nowwwwwww you’re doing goth right.

Snicker at me. Please.

7 Mar

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I made these cookies for my improv group who wigged out on how much they liked them. These are hefty cookies, and thank god I kept a few at home because the group ate them up. One group member stated that they are like a cookie form of cinnamon toast crunch. I say that is true, but they are even better. Although now I want to crumble them into a bowl with milk.

I am going to ply you with more comedy whiz-nit for a minute, but stay tuned for some thoughts on Snickerdoodles, as a thing, below.

My improv team of which I speak and I strive to make people laugh a lot, at least once a week. I am always doing comedy. I can tell you confidently that whether it is a sitcom or Shakespeare, comedy is harder. Than anything. Why did I hate it when people laughed at me as a kid? It’s all I want now.

I intend to inspire a wee bit of laughter and/or tears this weekend:
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I am rather terrified, as my story may be too serious for this crowd? It is sort of sad and funny. Screw it. It’s gonna be great. Come see the show! Even if I suck, the Hello Giggles shows at UCB always rock. Tickets here. Woot!

Now for what I had to say about Snickerdoodles. I noticed in the last year or two lots of people making any old recipe, adding cinnamon and calling it a Snickerdoodle-flavored. Someone even wrote on their blog that the only difference between Snickerdoodles and sugar cookies was the cinnamon. WRONG! SO WRONG! A Snickerdoodle has a very, very specific taste that comes largely from the introduction of an acid, usually in the form of cream of tartar. So there.

I like a good good biting flavor in a cookie. And a good biting wit.

That was lame. Oh, well. Make cookies, come see me and laugh, and all shall be well my pretties.

Snickerdoodles adapted from Baking Illustrated
2 1/4 c. flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 c. Sugar
3/4 c. unsalted butter
1/4 c. shortening
2 eggs
3 Tbsp. Sugar mixed with Tbsp. Cinnamon

Heat yer oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking trays with parchment. Parchment is perfection. Whisk the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Cream the butter, sugar and shortening at medium speed until well combined. Add the eggy-weggs and beat until mixed in. Add the dry ingredients and beat in at low speed. Take big tablespoons of dough and make 1 1/2 ing balls. Roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Put them quite far apart on the tray. These be big cookies. Bake 8-10 minutes rotating halfway. Cool for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack to totally cool.

Vegetable Crepes Say Oui

8 Feb

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Last Sunday was a long day and a good one. I watched no football. I went to an audition. I worked on lines for another upcoming audition. I made it to the tail end of improv practice. Then we had a show. Then went out with the group afterwards for a drink. Then I came home and worked more.

Then I poured a glass of red, got on hulu and queued up The Mindy Project and Super Fun Night to keep the laughs coming and ward off the cold. It was LA cold by which I mean I needed a sweater and a scarf if outdoors. Then I got cookin’. If I was Anna Thomas I probably would have gotten stoned.

And I barely heard that the Seahawks won. But congrats to my Seattle chums and aunt and uncle.

I am honestly not sure where Anna Thomas gets off calling these crepes, as they are quite thick.Even after I adapted the recipe, pureeing a bit after stirring the veggies in, this batter was still unruly and hard to deal with. Maybe it was the pot she cites smoking convivially in The Vegetarian Epicure that impaired her judgement? I’m not against her enjoying a nice smoke, I’m just speculating. Or maybe her thinking they qualified as crepes was due to the era in which the book was written? I guess she didn’t have Siri around to quiz on what made a crepe different from a pancake from a griddle cake. Good thing she didn’t include Mexican and/or Tex-Mex fare in her book. The Chillaquiles/Migas debate could go on for days. Delicious days.

As I rewarded my day of hard work with these crepes, so will the hard work you put into these reward you, regardless of how much beer and football made your day easy. Kapeesh? Ok.

I’m hungry. Let’s eat.
Vegetable Crepes adapted from The Vegetarian Epicue by Anna Thomas
A glass of robust red wine to sip whilst cooking
a dark and gloomy cold night out
olive oil spray
6 Tbsp. chopped onion
6 Tbsp. chopped scallions
1/4 tsp. chopped garlic (I used jarred)
1 jarred roasted red pepper, chopped
1 cup diced tomato (I used from a can. Convenience night, baby.)
1 tsp. dried basil
1 heaping tsp. dried parsley
sea salt
freshly ground pepper
2 T. + 2 tsp. flour
2 T. + 2 tsp. almond milk
1 egg
2 tsp. applesauce
grated Swiss cheese.
Heat a pan with olive oil spray, add onions, scallions, garlic and pepper and sauté until onions are good and soft. Add tomatoes, basil, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste and sauté until excess of liquid is evaporated. Use a blender to combine the flour, milk, egg and applesauce. Allow to sit about an hour or more. Stir in veggies when they are cool. Blend roughly with an immersion blender, you do want some chunk. If you need to add a dash of water to thin out the batter.
Heat a nonstick skillet with a wee bit of butter. Cook crepes using 1/4 cup batter for each until done on each side. Heat oven until 350 degrees. Put the crepes on a baking pan and sprinkle with a heaped up Tbsp. of cheese. Bake until melty and good. Sip wine. Revel Etc.

Get naked

18 Jul

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And be a hot tamale.

A naked one.

These poor tamales lost their britches.

And by britches I mean corn husks.

Don’t we all?

But deep down we all know what matters is on the inside of our britches.

Meow!

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My insides are full of spicy things, y’all.

Actually, I am going to be vulnerable and emotionally naked here for a minute. 2013 has been marvelously exciting and full of progress, but all that advancement did not seem to be leading anywhere. For all my auditions on the lot that got my hopes up came the realization that I didn’t get those jobs. For all baller improv shows with my new group, I still have plenty of times I royally flounder and I wonder what the heckums makes me think I should be on stage.

I hadn’t heard from my editors with a restaurant review assignment.

I found out the bionic arm needs surgery against due to a slipped plate. Taking care of that one in a few weeks before my tendon ruptures.
Life, schmife.

Then in one fell swoop I book work I can’t yet tell you about, get another writing assignment, my improv group earns double the stage time we were getting at the Neon Venus…I feel prettyyyyyyyyy!

Though my bionic wrist still hurts like a mofo. You can’t win em’ all.

But you can make love without your britches, which is Ellen-ese for make tamales without husks.

Just do it. Get naked and do it.

Naked Tamales with Chili Cheese Filling
Olive oil spray
1/4 cup chopped onion
Pinch sugar
1 Jarred roasted red bell pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp. canned diced green chiles
Salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 c. Masa Harina
2 Tbsp. frozen smart balance or butter (I was out of butter so I used balance. “Out of butter” is an affliction I hope to never have again)
1/2-3/4 c. Vegetable broth
1/4 tsp. baking powder
Pinch salt
1 oz. cheese, shredded
Cilantro and salsa, to serve
Spray a skillet with olive oil spray. Cook onion, stirring, on medium heat until it starts to brown, add sugar and cook, stirring, until a bit more browned, then add peppers, chiles, salt and pepper and cook a couple minutes longer, stirring. Take off heat.
Put yer masa in the food processor, turn it on then drizzle in broth, then add smart balance (or butterrrrrrrr!), baking powder and salt and pulse. Add more liquid if needed to get a thick batter.
Spray a couple ramekins with non-sticky spray. Fill a third full with batter, then cheese, then add filling, then add the rest of the batter. Cover ramekins with foil, put in a pan. Fill pan with water halfway up the sides of ramekins. Put it all in a 400 degree oven for 30-45 minutes. Depends on your oven. Keep an eye. When masa is pulling away from the ramekin sides it should be decent.
Eat. Be naked. Not at the same time.

Third Annual Pumpkin Week in Spring Day Five: Black and White Pumpkin Cookies

24 May

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It ain’t a good meal if there isn’t dessert at some point. Seriously. I HAVE to have dessert every day. Just like I have to have a bedtime snack. I need a bedtime snack. I’ve practically broken up with a guy because he never had food at home. Sometimes I like my bedtime snack to be followed by it’s own special dessert. Considered breaking up with someone over that too.

Get yer mind out of the gutter Cliffy!

I am en route soon to do my second show with my improv group, Commonwealth at the Neon Venus Theatre, so I best be getting out of the gutter and into the game.

Then when the night is over I shall have rum, and maybe, just maybe, a cookie.

Incidentally, these cookies are not really black and white. They are black and beige (from the cinnamon) and orange. The world ain’t just black and white and has much more than just variants on the color grey.

Crud, I was headed back into the gutter there.

Black and White Pumpkin Cookies adapted oh so slightly from the Joy the Baker Cookbook by Joy Wilson
Cookies:
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
1 15 oz. can of pumpkin
1 tsp. vanilla
White Frosting:
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Up to 1 tsp. water
Chocolate Frosting:
2 oz. (about 6 Tbsp.) oz. bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli)
1 heaping Tbsp. butter
Pinch salt
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
FOR COOKIES:
Heat the oven to 325 F, line a baking sheet or two with nonstick foil.
Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In another bowl whisk your eggs and sugar. Put some muscle into it, you want it to get jut slightly lighter in hue. Then whisk in pumpkin, applesauce and vanilla. Fold in the flour mixture until totally incorporated. Dollop by heating tablespoons onto the sheet and spread to a 2-inch circle. Bake, start checking around ten minutes doing the clean toothpick test. When you stick it in the middle and it comes out clean, take them out if the oven and put pan on a wire rack for ten minutes, then grab a spatula and move cookies to the wire rack to cool.
FOR GLAZES:
Whisk powdered sugar, corn syrup, vanilla and cinnamon, adding water drop by drop if necessary until it is spreadable.
Melt the chocolate and butter. I put my chocolate in the microwave for 2 minutes at 50 percent power, then add butter and stir. Continue to zap at 50% for shorter periods of time, stirring when you stop, until it is melted. Add the salt and corn syrup.
Turn the cookies over so you are putting the frosting on the flat side. Spread on, half and half, then give them some time for the frosting to get firm. Teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony. Then eat.