Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ultimate 5: Songs and Memories

With iTunes on random, these songs came up and reminded me of people I haven't seen in awhile. So here's a few shout-outs.

1. Marry Me - Amanda Marshall

You sneaky-sneak, you changed the words to suit you and Mr. Mitch, and sang it at your rehearsal dinner. Awwww. I can never hear this song now without thinking of you.

2. Knock 'em Out - Lily Allen

When this song came out, you were all over it. "And no, you can't have my number... 'cause I lost my phone!"
The radio didn't need to be on; you could just break out into the chorus, or make up funnier, crazier reasons to end the song with. Often this was a duet with Pam.

3. Ballroom Blitz - The Sweet

Girl, you rocked this at our last karaoke night out. I don't know if I can dance this fast anymore, but you sure can belt it out - and lyrics? Who needs 'em? You know it all by heart, and you had the whole bar on their feet by the end.

4. It's My Life - Jon Bon Jovi

Driving down Cedar Hill one night to drop me at home, we had the stereo blaring out Bon Jovi at about midnight. You rolled the window down and sang the chorus at the top of your lungs. Ever since, this song makes me think of you. Thanks for the ride, eh?

5. Semi-Charmed Life - Third Eye Blind


1998. Third Eye Blind was cool, but the kind of cool we couldn't sing in church... so you stole the "doot doot doot's" from the start of 'Semi-Charmed Life' and tacked them onto the intro of a worship song. Legendary, Pernell. Way to be the coolest youth leader of all time.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

West Side Story Down Under

In celebration of spring, the Sydney Opera House has put on a Spring Dance series with free movies showing on a huge Sony screen, outside on the forecourt. I didn't make it on Friday for Fred & Ginger's Swing Time, but last night I "frocked up" (Sydneyspeak for dressing for the occasion) and took Jody out on the town.

We arrived at the Opera House in time for a dance with the live band hired for the occasion, and managed a clumsy cha-cha with our bags still on our shoulders. Next, there was a performance to "Sway" by three couples from Broadway Ballroom, but to be honest I wasn't overly impressed - not that I can do better; it's just that it's nothing when you've seen world-class couples doing showdances at ballroom competitions. (We are, however, currently looking for a ballroom class to join.)

While "Sway" shimmered through the warm night air, we found a small area to seat ourselves on the steps. I can't tell you how glad I am that we brought a small pillow and the foamy from my Penguin Parade adventure to sit on. My pashmina shawl and Jody's cotton sweater proved to be enough warmth for the duration of the film, but our legs were quite cramped after two and a half hours in our chosen spot. Enough griping - on with the show.

I watch West Side Story every couple of years, and the song "Maria" always gets stuck in my head. Somehow the show seemed cheesier than usual at this viewing, but on the other end of the spectrum, a group of teens laughed at an unintentional double entendre I've never noticed. I won't share it here, because now I fear it has ruined the scene for me, and I wouldn't do that to you.

Jody has never seen the movie before, but he was surprised to recognise some of the music. It surprised me too! Apparently the band Yes, a contemporary of Pink Floyd, did a B-side cover of "Something's Coming" - Tony's revelation that change was just around the corner. I have to say that "Tonight" is still my favourite WSS song, though, and it brings back memories of singing the alto part in my high school choir. On that note, how is it possible I've been out of high school for nearly ten years?

I can't imagine the school budgets for art, drama and music being cut any more than they already were a decade ago. My two high schools had a decent budget, I suppose, but I remember us having to be resourceful in set and costume design, and I'm positive many of my teachers gave their own time to make shows happen. I hope this isn't the end of support for the arts. Without it, I can't see how the world will gain its next Stephen Sondheim or Leonard Bernstein.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Making of Glass Noodles with Crab

Spurred on yet again by the fabulous Luisa of Wednesday Chef, I made a special trip to the grocery store to collect ingredients for Charles Phan's Glass Noodles with Crab. I needed something different. Something easy. Something good. This hit all three points, and it was quick to boot. In thirty minutes, including a little kitchen cleanup, I had dinner on the table.

Glass Noodles with Crab
Serves 2 very hungry people or 3 to 4 regular eaters

2 packages (100 grams each) thin glass (mung bean thread) noodles
2 tablespoons neutral oil, like corn or canola
1 tablespoon minced garlic (I used paste!)
1/4 cup trimmed and minced scallions
1 cup crab meat, free of shell (or 2 tins)
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Fresh cilantro for garnish

1. Cover noodles in room temperature water for about 15 minutes. Drain.

2. Put oil in a wok or large skillet, and turn heat to high. A minute later, add garlic and half the scallions and, almost immediately, the noodles and crab. Toss, and stir to mix the ingredients.

3. Add the sauces, taste, and adjust seasoning as necessary. Toss with sesame oil and remaining scallions. Garnish, and serve.

Here's how it went:
Once my ingredients were assembled, I unwrapped and de-stringed the glass noodles. The two bundles fit in my square Pyrex, so I covered them with room temperature water and let them sit for 15 minutes. There has been some discussion of how to soak the glass noodles (otherwise known as Vermicelli rice noodles or mung bean thread noodles). Cold water has been suggested for up to one hour, and warm water has been nixed as it makes the noodles too mushy. Fifteen minutes at room temp worked for me - the noodles became transparent and chewy when I tried one. My package also suggested I tear the noodles into a more convenient length, which I could do easily with my hands by this point.

While the noodles were soaking I chopped up the scallions (you can see them perched on the tinned crab in the photo). It only took two medium-sized ones to make up a quarter cup. I drained the crab meat and was surprised to find it was shredded, rather than in chunks. At $4 per tin, though, it was the priciest part of my meal - and overall it was still very inexpensive. (Two packets of noodles at 67 cents each and less than a dollar's worth of scallions. The sesame oil, fish sauce and oyster sauce were each just under $3. I had dark soy sauce already, which is partly why my finished dish looks different from Luisa's.)

With vegetable oil heated, I dumped in the drained noodles. Don't do it in a big clump like I did - you'll end up with a web of noodles all stuck together at the bottom of the pan. Trying to compensate, I tossed the noodles, garlic and scallions quickly to try and coat everything with oil. The crab was next, followed by the sauces. I admit I didn't measure per se, but this dish is quite forgiving. I eyeballed as I poured and stuck as close to a tablespoon of each as I could while trying not to let it overcook. Needless to say I made quite a mess.

Rather than top with cilantro, I simply split the noodles into two bowls and added pretty chopsticks. Jody and I dug in. I don't know how this would serve more than two adults unless it was as a side dish. It was so tasty, and not too fishy - I have never bought fish or oyster sauce before, but the ratio here was a good one, despite my haphazard splashes into the pan. I think next time I might add some capsicum/bell peppers, but this was so simple and good - and I will definitely make it again.

I took more photos, but these are it for now. Turns out my iPhoto has somehow been corrupted; it isn't due to the Snow Leopard upgrade.

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