Friday, November 19, 2010

The One Where I Try To Learn Spanish

I know it's Friday, and I know I'm missing (again!) my FFwD, but my excuse this week is that I'm actually making this dish on Sunday (or, tomorrow FOR Sunday) because my mother's side of the family does Thanksgiving the Sunday before actual Thanksgiving, so I'm going to make it and bring it for lunch Sunday.

Also, I just discovered that this blog passed its year-old mark without any kind of anything. So here's a mini party to celebrate keeping this thing going for a year and 10 days with some kind of regularity:

As some of you may or may not know, I've got a background in taking French classes. That's not to say I speak French, but I have a background in taking classes. I took 3 years in high school, and then a total of 4 semesters in college. (Actually, I was signed up for classes 6 semesters in college, but I dropped it twice.)

As much as I love the language, I'm not good at LEARNING languages, as it turns out.

Despite this, when I was at the library the other day, I picked up a CD set, promising to teach me beginning Spanish quickly.

Yes, Spanish. French is awesome, but Spanish is the language that's taking over the country, so Spanish it was.

I popped the first CD into my car player, and listened to a pleasant-sounding man tell me to listen to a conversation between a (North) American man and a Hispanic woman.

So far, so good.

I caught a few of the words, and thus felt pretty proud of myself. Then, the guy started explaining what they were saying, and asking me to repeat things.

The first thing that threw me off was the use of (and if I butcher spellings, please forgive me) Castilano for "Spanish" instead of "Espanol," which everyone knows. I've been getting that confused with "entiende" which is the word for "understand."

So when the guy tells me to say "I do not understand Spanish" (a true statement, by the by), about half the time, I'll say, "No castilende Espanol." I don't even know if "castilende" is a real word, but I keep using it.

The man continues.

"Say, 'Hello, sir. Do you understand English?'"

I respond.

"Bonjour, monsieur. . .crap, no. That's French. Hola. . .Hola, Senor, entien--"

And then about halfway through the fixed sentence, he interrupts me to tell me how I SHOULD have said it. Gracias, Senor.

Then I realize that there seems to be some sexual tension between the Norde Americano man and the Hispanic woman.

"Hola, Senorita," he says. "Como estas usted?"

The narrator explained that this means, "How are you doing?" (Muy bien.) But thanks to the sexual tension I feel between these two people (who don't have names, by the way, so I've taken to calling them Gregor and Maria), I take it more as a Joey Tribbiani, "How YOU doin'?"

Since I'm by myself in the car, taking these lessons, I'm talking out loud. To myself. I always am afraid that people driving by are going to think I'm either A) Crazy or B) Saying nasty things to them. I haven't gotten run off the road yet, so I'm good to go. Conversations usually go something like this:

Narrator: Say "How are you doing, ma'am?"
Me: "Como estas usted, madam? Crap, no. Como estas usted, senora. How YOU doin'?"
Narrator: Tell the young woman good morning, and that you do not understand Spanish.
Me: "Buenas noches. . .no. Diaz. Buenos dias, mademoiselle. Crap. Senorita. No casilende Espanol."
Narrator: "Buenos diaz, senorita. No entiendo Castillano."
Narrator: Tell the young woman you are North American, and that you only speak a little Spanish.
Me: Why don't YOU tell ME why the word for the Queen's Spanish and the word for "understand" are SO DAMN SIMILAR and you taught them in the SAME LESSON?
Narrator: "Soy Norde Americano/Americana. Hablo Castillano un poco."
Me: "Soy Norde Americana. Hablo Espanol un poco."

At this point, I'm not certain why I'm arguing with a recorded narrator. So when he tells me to ask the woman how she is and if she speaks English again, I end it with a. . .

"How YOU doin'?"

Then I turned on the radio.

That's about where my lesson ended last night.

Buenos tardes.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The One With My First Video Blog

I did my first video blog today. It's quite rudimentary, as I've never done one of these before, and I'm still figuring a lot out, but it was kind of fun.

Enjoy. (And be gentle!) :)

(Also, my face looks kind of weird in the screen shot here. I promise, my face doesn't always look like that!)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The One Where I'm Late with Friday

I've had an awesome weekend and due to this, I have not yet posted my newest FFwD. I'll do my best to get to that tomorrow. I'm sure you all understand.

I hope everyone's been having an awesome weekend and has been spending time with people they love like I've been doing!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The One With The Girl Who Distracted Me From Writing

I've fallen drastically, desperately behind my NaNoWriMo numbers. I'm approximately a week behind, and with this kind of project, it's really hard to catch up.

I'm also working on another project. . .a food blog, so I can keep this one for my day-to-day, and that one for food-related things. Once I have a spare few dollars, I'll buy the domain name I want, and then I'll be in business. So if you're not so much interested in food, you can read that one instead. If you're not so much interested in me, you can read that one. Win-win.

(Although, come to think of it, I don't think that you'd be reading this if you didn't have at least SOME interest in me. But I think you know what I mean.)

Part of the reason I've fallen so far behind on my writing is because I've been reading. I started the "Millennium Trilogy" a while back, and have finally gotten to the third book. It took me a while to read the first, ("The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo") and I finished the second one ("The Girl Who Played with Fire") yesterday. Today, I started "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest," and once I finish this one, I'm not 100% sure what I'm going to do with myself. Write, maybe.

The second book had a weird effect on me, actually. It was a really good book. . .but I wanted it to end. I wanted to be finished with it so I could start on the last one. It was good, but I think probably about 100 pages could be cut from it.

Let's see, what else has been distracting me from what I need to be doing?

Food Network. I've been addicted to "The Next Iron Chef" for the last few weeks. It's pretty obvious who's going to win (I HATE when shows make it so obvious who's going to win. . .especially when said person has ALREADY HAD a show on the network) but my favorite guy is still in the running. D accused me of having a new boyfriend, and he may or may not be right. This guy is awesome and badass. Also, he made a dessert last week inspired by his girlfriend's favorite sweets (Aww!) and made his grandmother's potato recipe for one of the challenges. (AWWW!!!) I also looked up his restaurant in New York, and checked out the menu. Super-delicious sounding. Also super expensive.

Speaking of delicious food in New York. . .I don't know if any of my readers are in the Manhattan area, but has anyone ever been to the Antique Garage in SoHo? Apparently, they use word-of-mouth for their advertising, so I'm guessing there wouldn't be any billboards or anything.

I went up to New York last year (two years ago?) with a friend of mine and his dad, because he was checking out NYU. We randomly came across this run-down looking, really pricey restaurant and had dinner there. Since that day, I've wanted to be on that Food Network show, "The Best Thing I Ever Ate," because the dinner I had that night. . .I haven't been able to get it out of my head. I had this thing called the Shrimp Casserole. I'm aware that the word "casserole" brings to mind a heavy thing with maybe cheese and breadcrumbs and stuff like that, but this was like nothing I've ever had. It was light and flavorful and I may or may not be having a foodgasm right now thinking about it. The most incredible thing I've ever put in my mouth. (That's what she said.)

Anyway, I thought of that again today and told D that sometime within the next year, I need to get back to New York and have this thing again, $24 price tag be damned.

(I'm a little worried about starting a food blog. I feel like 75% of my life is taken up by eating, thinking about, and making food, so I'm not going to have anything else to talk about here.)

So what about all of you out there? What's the best thing you've ever eaten?

Friday, November 5, 2010

The One With a French Friday: Roast Chicken

Warning: If you are a militant vegetarian or just incredibly squeamish, you may want to skip this entry. I'm just saying.

Also! I'd like to thank people who've been leaving me comments. I'm not sure how to deal with them, and I want to explain this so people don't think I'm ignoring them.

I read them all (obvs, since I have to approve them), but I don't always respond to them because I'm not sure if people come back to read the responses. So if you've left me a comment and come back to see if I've responded, and I haven't, please don't think I'm a jerk. I just don't know the proper etiquette.

On to French Friday!

Full disclosure: I'm a baker above all else. I love cooking, and I love preparing meals, but baking is where it's at for me. As a result of this, I have never in my life (until this project was completed) cooked a whole chicken. I've eaten many chicken nuggets, and I've handled cutlets of chicken and stuff like that, but a whole chicken, all pieces intact? Never before.

That was until I came into contact with Clyde.

Yes. I named my chicken. I had to. Because otherwise, I never would have gotten through the horrifying, horrifying experience of cooking this whole freaking chicken.

The recipe name is Roast Chicken for Les Paresseux. This translates into "Roast Chicken for Lazy People." So, in other words, ideal for me.

Here are the players:

I'd like to apologize now for the lesser quality photos in this entry. . .D was out working when I did this project, and all I had was my camera phone. Which is a fine little phone, but just not as good as usual.

There's a weird thing in this recipe. Dorie says that if you put a piece of bread in the bottom of your pan, and then put the chicken and everything on top of it, you'll have a lovely treat when all is said and done. And who am I to argue with Dorie?

That's actually two slices of bread. My rationale here was that if it was that great, I'd like to have one for D when he got home. (That didn't quite work out like I'd planned. Read on.)

I chopped up the veggies. . .

And then there was the garlic. . .the recipe said to chop the head in half, horizontally, and to leave it unpeeled. Even though I'm all about not arguing with Dorie, that didn't make sense to me. I don't want papery things in my chicken. So I compromised and took the outer papery skin off and put half the pieces in the chicken, as directed, and half of them around it.

So then we get to the chicken. Now, mind you, I have, as I mentioned, never in my life done this before. I was under the impression that all of the organs would be collected for me in a little bag, and all I'd have to do is stick my hand up this poor chicken's ass (Sorry, Clyde) and pull out a paper bag.

As a side note, I feel that this picture below looks like a bulldog. A one-eyed bulldog. D said it looked like something more obscene. You be the judge.

This was not so. As I found out later, they only do that for turkeys. Not for poor chickens.

So what does this mean? It means I have to stick my hand all up IN this chicken and get all of its innards out. This means that I stuck my hand up in there to feel around, got nauseous, and had to put on rubber gloves in order to finish the task at hand.

(Um, yes. I'm wearing a shirt. It's a tank top.)

I'm scrounging around in poor Clyde to get all the organs out. I think I've got them all, so I stand him up (as you do). . .and his liver fell out, giving it the distinct impression that this chicken had just taken a crap in my kitchen sink.

I dropped him back on the plate like he was a. . .chicken that had just taken a crap in my kitchen sink. At about this point, I was ready to give up and wait for D to get home and take care of this disaster for me. (That's what guys do, right?) But then I thought, no, Sarah, this is YOUR French Friday and YOU will stick your hand into that chicken's inner cavity and remove all of the things that used to be life-sustaining organs before it just became a chicken on a plate from Valentine's Day in your sink.

So I did.

When all was said and done. . .

I had a liver, a gizzard, a heart, two kidneys and. . .two necks.

Two necks??

Clyde was a freak of nature.

Next came the trial and error of trying to get this damn chicken into the pot.

It was done and done with finesse.

He went into the oven. Then the veggie were added. An hour and a half later, Clyde emerged a new man chicken.


(Um, I know he looks discolored and not fully cooked, but that's the light, not Clyde.)

The chicken was moist, and tender, and freaking DELICIOUS. And I survived it. Oh, and D loved it, too. He said it was excellent.

Oh, and as for the bread? What ended up happening there is because I stacked two pieces on top of each other, one side of it was soggy and chicken juice-ladden, and the other was crispy and gorgeous, with the consistency of light melba toast. I was put off by the soggy side, but I decided to taste it (because, hey, I'd already had my hand up a chicken that day) and it was amazing. I was going to eat half of it and see if D would be willing to try it when he came home, but half became 3/4, and then it was gone.

Gone, like Clyde's dignity.

There's the story of my first chicken-cooking experience. I survived it. Clyde. . .well, he didn't survive it, but he WAS delicious. And I'll be back next week for another installment of French Fridays with Dorie!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The One With My Birthday

Saturday was my birthday. It was also the JDRF Walk-a-thon. We got up. . .7-ish and then promptly went back to sleep. Got up again about 8:15. Registration started at 8 and the actual walk didn't start until 10:30, so we weren't late or anything. By the time we got there, the crowd had died down a bit, and registration didn't take long.

Apparently, there were about 7,000 people there. I, personally, didn't reach the goal I'd set for donations, but with that many people, I'd be willing to bet the foundation made quite a bit of money.

We walked 2 miles, with music along the way, and then were provided Jersey Mike's for lunch. The weather? Perfect. All in all, an awesome event. I also saw one of my teachers from high school who had a baby like a month ago. Cutest. Baby. EVER!

We then went home and rested briefly before going to Mom's house to have dinner with the fam. we went downtown to Hi5. Everything on the menu is $5, so it's a good place if you don't have a ton to spend. Mom and Johnny had never been there before, Katie was the one who introduced me to it, and D and I used to go weekly, at least. (Before the, you know, no money thing happened.)

After dinner, it was back to Mom's. She hadn't taken her daily walk yet, so we waited for her (Read: we took naps) until she got back. And then it was time for cake.

Let me tell you about this cake. You know how I make a lot of cakes, right? How baking is kind of my thing? For my birthday, D made me this cake that blew me and everyone else away. Check it out:

Holy crap, you guys. It's a cake! And a stack of books! How effing awesome is that? He made the entire thing from scratch (except, you know, a cake mix.) Made the fondant, built it so it stayed. . .and it was delicious. So awesome, awesome, AWESOME cake.

Then, presents! Money from the parentals, and Katie gave me these:

She made that plate. Or, designed it.

Also, D gave me a kitchen apron that I can't seem to get a good picture of. . .it's black, and has a little V-neck and is pinstriped. I'm sure it will be making an appearance in future posts.

After we left Mom's, we stopped by Dad's to give him a book of cake and to hang out for a while. It was during this time that we watched the "Rocky Horror Picture Show" version of Glee. I've never seen RHPS, but I've had songs from it stuck in my head SINCE Saturday. ("Toucha, Toucha, Toucha, Touch Me," "Dammit, Janet," and the Time Warp song are the ones that have been stuck there.) I've heard from many people that they didn't like the episode because of the "sanitized" changes that were made to lyrics, but having never seen the show, none of it bothered me.

Since then, I've had a Lady Doctor appointment (thanks to an irregular Pap) that has set me back $500 that's going to take me 20 years to pay off. (Thanks, no insurance.) And I still love my job.

Also, I've prepared a whole chicken for the first time. It was horrifying, but if I tell you anymore, it'll ruin this week's French Friday entry.

Oh! And I'm also taking part in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), the point of which is to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. I'm up to speed so far, but it's only day 3. We'll see.