indigo schmindigo a high tolerance for repetition
Kinda hungover from a surfeit of films this week, but everything I saw was good. The SF International Asian American Film Festival always gives me the warm fuzzies, & it just seems to keep getting better year after year. I don’t know how they do it. The festival folks put together such a smorgasbord of great stuff & manage to suffuse the entire proceedings with a friendly, earnest enthusiasm that is blessedly free of posturing, hype, attitude & bullshit. Hats off once again to Chi-hui & crew, y’all rock.
Some highlights of what I saw: Eve & the Firehorse totally nailed 1970s Chinese Canadian girlhood (well… if I may extrapolate from my own 1970s Chinese American girlhood). I really hope they get some USA distribution going on because I want to see it again & bring everyone I know!
I always love good shorts, & this year the paperclip-obsessed Stationery won my heart.
After all that & more, I think I can’t see any more films for a little while. I’ll be reading cookbooks instead, starting with the French Laundry cookbook I checked out from the library. Talk about food porn!
Popover report: 1st try with the new recipe was a nice, poofy success. The popovers leapt cheerfully & confidently out of their silicups, held their mushroom shape well, & were plenty yummy. However, we missed the custardy elasticity of Moosewood’s appropriately-named Custardy Popovers, which contain proportionally twice as much egg. Next time I will use the custardy proportions with the temperature & time of the new recipe & see what happens.
Oh, dear. This is why the net can be so addictive. In my low-computer disengagement I had missed the absurdly silly cupcake rap. (Thanks to SFGate culture blog for cluing me in to this fine manifestation of cupcake consciousness.)
In non-cupcake news, I think I actually am sick, but I’m keeping it under control with various manifestations of Airborne. By the way: in the universe of house brand Airborne knock-offs (of which there are many), my vote for best flavor goes to the one from Albertson’s. It tastes better than real Airborne!
The bad news: my drive n’ swim adventure last week exhausted me so much that I am now trying to fight off a cold. (Well, the bizarrely freezing weather might be a factor, too.) I guess I won’t try that again for a little while. It’s kind of strange how such a tame-sounding experiment can wipe a person out, but Feldenkrais Goddess explained it to me in terms of how the nervous system (already stressed by injury) gets kinda overwhelmed because you are—at least subconsciously—aware that driving is actually a dangerous, potentially lethal activity. Very different from cutting cabbage, which, even if you fail miserably at it, does not kill you.
This brings me to the good news: I passed the cabbage test! I figured out how to cut a cabbage in half! You have to be very mindful, very in-the-moment, very flexible. Just like with the cauliflower, except even more so. Actually I attribute this success more to mental skill than to actual improved hand strength, but both do count for something in my continuing Kitchen Hand Olympics.
All this cabbage-halving is due to my continued love affair with Orangette’s user-friendly braised cabbage recipe, which has proven to be downright elastic in its flexibility. We’ve been tucking in artichokes (the little heart size), as well as whole, slim, young carrots (in multi colors) instead of the chopped ones in the recipe. Also, bulk sea salt seems to do just fine instead of fancy Maldon, & a mixture of red & green cabbage adds to the variety.
I did it! I did it! Yesterday I drove myself to the pool, swam, showered, got dressed & drove myself back home! This is Major Hand Progress. On the other hand (er… no pun intended…) I was totally exhausted for the entire rest of the day, could not do anything but lie on the couch under a down comforter, watching Oprah, & ended up in bed before 9pm. In fact I am still tired today. So maybe I shouldn’t make this a habit quite yet. But it was totally thrilling to realize that I can, in fact, choose to take myself swimming when other modes of transport are unavailable. I’ve been relying heavily upon the generosity of Swimming Kitty’s Swim Team Carpool—Swimming Kitty is so sweet to cart me back & forth all the time, & she won’t even let me give her gas money!—but of course, she can’t always go swimming when I can/want to, & as all swimmers know, sometimes you just gotta swim!
On my way back from the pool, wanting to flex my newfound driving independence—& also knowing I would be too tired to fix myself lunch at home—I stopped at Bakesale Betty’s. Betty’s chicken pot pies have been the subject of great speculation & fantasy, ever since our first visit there many months ago, when we witnessed the piemaking in progress. (That was also the time Betty’s husband gave each of us an entire slice of banana bread!) For one reason & another, I never got to taste the elusive chicken pot pies until yesterday, when I asked, “Is there anything lunchish?” & heard the wonderful, music-to-my-ears reply “We have chicken pot pies, fresh out of the oven!”
So, any time you anticipate such a thing for so long, there is always the distinct possibility of dissappointment, is there not? Well, good news: Betty’s chicken pot pies are everything a chicken pot pie should be, & those are not words you should take lightly, coming from me. First of all: the crust. This is real live, genuine pie pastry, not some shortbread/cobbler/whatever kind of cheaper & easier excuse for pastry. You get the real deal both on the top & on the bottom thus preserving the entirely-enclosed integrity of the pie. How many so-called chicken pot pies out there try to pass themselves off with only a top crust? Feh!
Okay, then, the filling: the chicken is not (as you find too often) overcooked cardboardy white meat. On the contrary, it is perfectly done, in nice big plentiful chunks. You also get nice big chunks of carrots & celery, & the rich sauce is blessedly cornstarch-free. Best of all for me, Betty has a very restrained hand with the pepper. Don’t know why, but a lot of inexpensive lunch foods, especially soups (I could go on about this) & basically anything with a sauce (which includes pot pies), suffer from way too much pepper—perhaps an attempt to compensate for the lack of actual, authentic flavor?—so it is rare indeed to find such unpeppered perfection.
The size is right: enough for a hearty lunch, but not so big that you feel stuffed, & the price is right too: $5 for Everything a Chicken Pot Pie Should Be. I was very, very happy indeed.
I think you may be getting the wrong idea about me. See, I blog so much about cupcakes, but in fact I’ve never baked a single cupcake in my whole life. On the other hand, have I ever mentioned popovers here, even once? (Maybe once. Yes, once.) Yet the number of popovers to have popped out of my oven is beyond reckoning. & maybe, reading this, you think: Indigo is a Popover Goddess! or at least a Popover Expert. Again you would be misguided, because my popover experience has been haphazard & inconsistent. Of my last five batches of popovers, one was a miserable, airless, custardy failure, & one was just okay. The others were fabulous, but 3 out of 5 is not exactly Popover Reliability, is it?
Here is someone who takes popovers seriously; next time I will try her method & see what happens. Although, scientifically speaking, I suppose I should try her method the next 5 times & see if more than 3 batches come out well.
It’s so nice to live in a college town. For one thing, you get college radio. Where else but on KALX would I have heard BlueKomet’s “San Antone” at exactly the right moment? I was just a couple minutes early for an appointment as I parked the car. Such a quiet, sunny Berkeley street. I kept the radio on & sat in the warm car until the song ended. Good to know old-fashioned radio magic can still happen in these techy times.