Thursday, January 3, 2008

Holiday Round-Up

We at the Hollywood Librarian entertain no delusions regarding the prolificacy of our output, but we do have an excuse for the most recent drop in activity: vacation!

I spent Christmas in Phoenix, my adopted hometown, catching up with old friends and getting festive with my tribe. On Christmas Eve, for the first time ever, I cooked for my extended family. For the record, I am a vegetarian (ok, technically a pescatarian, but the list of seafood I will eat vs. the list I won't eat is short and specific and pretty much limited to sushi). So, every year it's the same old business about, "Oh nose, what's Meg gonna eat?! She's gonna starve!!!" and the matriarchs strap on their aprons and start running around the kitchen in crisis mode, throwing shit into smalls bowls, and making declarations like: "I made you a special salad!" and "I made you a special sauce!" I'm fortunate because everyone except my mother (who refuses to make her traditional Christmas Eve eggplant parmesean sans sausage-infused marinara) is willing to accommodate my dietary restrictions. But this Christmas, I thought I'd take matters into my own pans, and make something I - and everyone else - could eat.

When James, my younger brother, paid me a visit over the summer, I made him dinner: veggie tacos, rice and a jicama slaw. He dutifully cleared most of his plate, but once he was through eating, inquired, "Meg, what should I do with this leftover grass?"

Ok, fine. My cooking tends to fall on the healthy end of the spectrum. I wrinkle my nose at processed foods and fats. But I didn't want anyone calling my grub "grass" on Christmas Eve, so I decided to go balls out with the cheese and the butter and all that other good stuff that I'm usually so stingy with when I cook at home. I made a pumpkin baked ziti with caramelized onions and sage crumb topping, based on a recipe from Veganomicon, though I de-veganized the shit out of that bitch - from the full-fat ricotta to the unabashedly real butter.

But despite my best efforts to prepare something decadent, my family acted as if I'd offered them...well, grass. Whenever anyone approached the buffet line with a plate in hand, I heard one of the matriarchs say,"and that's Meg's vegetarian pasta!" It sounded more like a warning than an endorsement.

Vegetarian pasta? Dudes, I made baked fucking ziti. Shove it in your pie holes and swallow.

Eventually they did, and of course they dug it, but still, they couldn't let go of the vegetarian thing. In the words of Uncle Dominic, as the family made post-gorge living room talk (ala "Was it good for you?" pillow talk): "I even liked Meg's vegetarian pasta."

I think next year I will serve pats of butter drizzled with cream sauce, though I am already anticipating criticism re: the vegetarian-sized portions. At least I have a year to perfect the recipe. Maybe I should just suck it up and serve entire sticks?

I spent the last few days of my vacation in Las Vegas with Amy and her crew, who so generously shared their comps with me. I stayed in a very nice hotel room, ate several fancy meals, drank many expensive drinks, and never dropped a dime during my three-day visit. I'm not a fan of Vegas, but the experience becomes infinitely more pleasant when you don't have to spend your own money there.

My last night in town, we had dinner with Richard Brodie, a guy who knows a lot about wine, among other things. He's also the original author of Microsoft Word, and now plays poker professionally.

RB at dinner with Amy's colleague, Jeff.

RB thought up the red squiggle underline that appears beneath misspellings in MS Word. This impressed me.

And so I arrived back in Hollywood on December 29th, my bags heavy with Christmas presents (yes, I got those new knee pads I was desperate for!). My orchid was waiting for me in the bathroom window, leaves outstretched, ready to bloom for the second time. Not a bad segue into 2008.

No comments: