Month: November 2009

mmmmmmmmmmmm…

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get into the kitchen, woman, and make me some pie!

there will be 2 pumpkin and 1 chocolate pecan. i was planning 2 of each but just realized that i only have 3 10-inch pie plates. oops. 🙂 no worries… i have a plan.

here’s the first crust. currently the 2 pumpkin pies are in the oven.

recipe for one 8-9 inch crust (increase for a 10-inch or for a two-sided crust):

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
– sift together

1/3 cup mixed: chilled veg shortening (crisco) and unsalted butter – both should be chilled
– add this in small pieces to your sifted flour and salt
– using a pastry knife, mix the fats with into the dry things until the clumps are about pea-sized (try not to do it too much, or your crust will be tough

3-4 tbsp ice water (you should have set this aside at the beginning to get it nice and cold)
-drizzle 1 tbsp at a time over the flour mixture.
-after each drizzle, sweep it with a fork
-when done, use your hands to gently form it into a ball
– wrap the ball in plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge for 30 minutes or longer
– on floured surface, roll it out until it is about 1/4 inch thick and over-reaches the edges of the pie plate by as much as possible
-cut off some of the excess (save to make crust cookies)
– turn the excess under, pinch it and do whatever you need to do next (some pies need blind baking – pumpkin pie and choc pecan pie do not)

(blind baking: pre-cooking the crust. it must be weighted down, by the way.)

TURKEY!!!!

i have just arrived home from picking up my turkey from the butcher. i had to order it ages ago. it’s huge. it was also way more expensive than i expected! holy shit! (oh and that totally normal sized coffee mug is in there for perspective!) 8.670 kg! happy turkey day! (we’re doing it on saturday)

Amsterdam Burlesque Festival, day 3

Saturday night. Did you know that not ONLY was there the Amsterdam Burlesque Festival, but ALSO the Chocolate Burlesque, as part of the Chocolade Festival? Amazing!

I am getting pretty familiar with that circus tent over in the Houthaven… the older gentleman who seems to be the proprietor has been very sweet to me, as have the booze ladies. Other than them, I find myself chatting routinely (albeit briefly) with the lovely lady selling handmade pasties, Blanche Neige – one of the Swedish performers who happens to use the same hair dye as me and is a sweetheart too, and Armitage Shanks – one of the MCs and from Seattle too. Actually, last night he commented on the small contingent of performers from Seattle and when they hollered from the other side of the room, so did I. the people around me looked a little confused, but hey. I was drunk and having a good time. At least i was hollering WITH the performance. the people sitting near me spent a great deal of their evening conducting loud, drunken and disruptive conversations on a variety of other topics. I really hate it when people do that. It’s actually one of the reasons i seldom go to the movies here anymore. I get tired of hearing all about various people’s irritating boy/girl friend, boss, etc. while I’m trying to watch a film.

Anyway, tonight the late performance – the Internation Sexy Circus Sideshow – was sold out, so matt and I went only for the early show, the International "Anything Goes" Revue.

It was fantastic! Yay! I had a great time indeed, and sat much closer this time (I’ve been holding down a table at the back, but this time we sat right up in the 2nd row).

The biggest pleasant surprise of the evening: Equador the Wizard, from London. Surprised the hell out of me. I’ll explain. I’m not really a big fan of the male strip performance. I used to go to quite a few at the Gay 90’s back in the day (the 90’s, actually…) and I never really got into it. And last night, the performance of Raoul Lala, although very nice (he’s quite a dancer, i thought) was not really for me. Now, i DO like to have men onstage during burlesque. I think it’s important to have the variety acts, the filling out of the show. Unfortunately, they’ve often been kind of lame (bad magicians or lame comedians). Tonight there were 2 male acts on stage, and I liked both (the other one sang and played a saw). But Equador’s was pretty fucking hilarious!

He gets a big build up from Lady Marmalade, who MC’d the evening (I’m not usually a fan of hers, but tonight I thought she was excellent), in which we learn that he won some award for Tease, etc. etc… So we’ve all got some high expectations when he comes out on stage.

In a turban. And an abundance of facial hair. And sleight of hand involving handkerchiefs. At which point the people behind me start loudly muttering about how it’s supposed to be sexy and that THIS isn’t sexy. Well, it got interesting in short order, as he starts mixing sleight of uh, body… with stripping, some air guitar, light sabers, and hell I don’t even remember what else. I found myself staring at his crotch wondering how he was going to cover it in the next moment. The guy was all over the place. the whole audience was laughing and hooting and completely in thrall. I wish my memory and writing skills were up to the task of telling you what Equador did, but basically – I’m a fan. Whoopee!

Not my favorite act, but pleasantly surprising none-the-less, was the final act, by Natsumi Scarlet. I’ve not liked her before when I saw her. She’s usually pretty creative, but she’s got this great muscular body and she’s done weirdly overly-feminine things in the past that just don’t work for me. I actually groaned when she was announced as the ending act tonight. And she strutted out in this white feather thing that was ok, but typical… but then she did some nice looking stuff on the ribbons hanging from the apex of the tent. I think she has found a style that shows her off to excellent result. Beautiful girl, and strong. This time we got to see it. I bet she could alternatively pull off a Carmen Miranda fruity thing, too. Just a side thought.

Matt’s favorite of the night were the Bombshelly’s. Apparently a sister act, although strangely matt and i think both of them looked very familiar and not very much like sisters, they did a "magic" act involving a bit of stripping (not much) and some text cards like from silent movies. It was a really good idea, and I think they were really fantastic. my only criticism is that I think they could work it up a bit. It was a little too understated. But an excellent idea, and I’d love to see them do it again, bigger brighter fewer clothes whatever…

My other favorite (besides Equador) was the bathtub act… the performer (I can’t decide from the photos off the website if she was Danica Lee, from Australia, or Charlette de Luxe, from Germany, and matt’s not sure either) came in brushing her teeth, and then her song came on and she pretended to use a back brush as a microphone and danced around the stage. The phone rang a number of times, and she’d look irritated and do various things. I liked it because it is exactly the sort of thing i think we all do (minus the phone ringing, necessarily) when we’re by ourselves and a favorite camp-it-up song comes on. well, i know i do things like that, anyway… 🙂 matt said his only criticism is that she didn’t involve the audience enough – he likes it best when they cue the audience a lot to "ooh and aah…" and holler. i think i agree with him that she could have definitely done a bit more of that, but i liked her act.

so… do i go tomorrow? hmmmm…
i’d like to, but i have to admit that it was actually hard to drag myself there tonight (i’m tired!), and i’m really needing some home time. i started going to the gym 2 weeks ago and i’ve been pretty enthusiastic about that, and we’ll be practicing twice next week for the next contrast concert (sunday 6 december in rotterdam), and it’s IDFA, so i’d like to see some films. but i’d also like to sit around the house in pj’s. or i might just drag my ass off to the circus tent again…

ah, the choices. 🙂 we’ll see.

Amsterdam Burlesque Festival, day 2

Friday I had the good fortune to attend BOTH of the shows. Here is the poster, by the way, as it’s really cute.


Anyway, as i was saying, i saw 2 shows on saturday. the first was the British Burlesque Invasion International Debut, and the second the Royal Dutchess Burlesque Revue.

Sadly, i liked Thursday’s performance by the newcomers better. This is not to say that all the performers on Friday weren’t lovely and did a great job on their acts. Simply that i find i prefer the acts that either make me laugh or surprise me, and these more experienced ladies (and one gentleman) tended for more classic performances. Miss Beeby Rose, for example, is gorgeous – a beautiful voluptuous and talented performer (and organizer) and major cred to her for getting this scene moving here (I don’t know a lot about the scene here, but she seems to be at the center of EVERYTHING i hear about) – but although her performance is as usual stunning and sexy, I don’t find myself involved.

I routinely describe Pepper Minsky’s charms to people. But she did her blue feather routine, and did it well, and I’ve seen it before. Possibly a couple of times. I’m not sure. I still love her, though – she’s got the biggest widest smile with those glitter lips, and is very funny and engaging.

My (and Dick’s) favorite of the whole evening was in the British first half, the very first act, one Ginger Blush, who pretended to be a construction worker and brought out all kinds of tools (measuring tape, pliers, a small hammer…) as part of her act. It was funny, she was sexy, and she surprised me when she pulled out that hammer.

My second favorite act was the opener to the Dutch act, when all the performers did a "little Dutch girl" routine that was adorable. In their little pinafores and white hats.

Speaking of the Royal Dutchess show, how many actual Dutchies were in it? There was Beeby Rose… but both Pepper Minsky and Lady Marmalade are American, i’m pretty sure. There was another female performer (whose name I didn’t catch, and of whom I can’t find any certain reference to on the website) and a male performer, Raoul Lala. That’s one certain Nederlander out of 5. and who was that other woman, anyway?

Amsterdam Burlesque Festival, day 1

last night matt and i rushed over to see the opening "gala" of the 1st ever amsterdam burlesque festival. it was newcomers-day, and i have to admit i wasn’t really expecting much.

but i was wrong!

seriously, it was a very good evening. we got there about 7:30, acquired bubbly and arranged ourselves at a table along the back. mostly it’s set up with very tightly packed wooden seats, and i didn’t think that would be a comfortable way to spend the show, so we moved to the back. turns out the heaters were pointing right at those tables, and we sweltered there for a while before right before the show the heat vents were turned to face the wall instead of right at the seats.

the venue: in a very cute little circus tent "casablanca circus tent" on strandweg at the houthaven. it’s small, it’s quaint. i’m a little confused about their permanence in that location. but anyway.

the acts… what i remember clearly. the MC was very entertaining, even singing 2 numbers, including the closing "elephants on parade" which i thought was a little questionable, as he asked audience members to participate in pretending to be elephants. ok, whatever.

the first act was a "amy housewine" who pretended to be falling-down drunk, and somehow managed to strip, fall down a lot, and even lose her pasties. ha hah!

i don’t remember everyone. there were some "taking ourselves a little too seriously" strip acts that were perfectly sexy and fine but not clever. but notably: i like the woman from leipzig who had a great 1920’s (i think) era bathing suit and then hula hoop act. she was gorgeous, entertaining, sexy and creative. and yay on the outfit! i also liked the dutch woman who pretended to be a windup doll/puppet. excellent choice of music, outfit, and good movements. also good sense of humor. i told her afterwards that she was in my top 2 for the evening, and she told me how nervous she’d been. she’s been taking lessons since february and was pretty excited. 🙂

there was also an australian woman who first pretended to be a man (which impressed matt, but i thought was kind of boring; matt thought it was a good job with the mannerisms) then moved on to a trapeze, where she stripped and climbed around. kudos for creativity and athleticism, even if it really didn’t thrill me much.

basically, i like the ones that are funny and/or very creative as well as the obvious sexy. hell, anyone on stage in a burlesque show is sexy in some way. if that’s all there is, i’m not so enthusiastic.

i also spoke to a swedish woman who apparently will be doing a pig act during the saturday night circus, which is sold out. i’ll be attending the early show (with matt) and if there are any tix available that night, we may get to see the circus as well.

tonight i’m going for a double-header: the first show is british invasion, the second royal dutchess (sic). i’ve already paid for the tix and i’m thrilled to be going.

for anyone here in amsterdam who’s interested, the website is www.amsterdamburlesquefest.com

also notably there is a separate burlesque event on saturday night as part of the chocolate festival that’s going on right now: Chocolate Burlesque. i can’t remember the website, but it’ll come up in a google search.

and for those of you not into burlesque, go enjoy IDFA. 🙂

legal issues, contractors, and neighbors, oh my!

short version:

  1. last monday, work started on our windows and was making excellent progress when
  2. around noon, a man from the city passed by, informed us we were missing one of the permits, and shut us down
  3. matt came home and noticed that the windows that went in are the wrong windows (bar in middle preventing anything coming in and out of window – a problem when our stairs are too narrow as well)
  4. our contractor came over and agreed that problem, and discussed his plan for dealing with the permit problem
  5. wednesday night, our downstairs shop-neighbor came back from a week-long yoga retreat to find us shut down and scaffolding still in place around her store, and calls me to complain. i explain the situation to her
  6. thursday, matt tried to get some things cleaned up around her shop and the contractor comes and moves the windows, which were stored in the passage way beside our house, to a slightly less in-the-way position
  7. friday, continued negotiations with neighbor
  8. saturday, same neighbor threatens to call the city and force us to take down our scaffolding so matt attempts to reason with her
  9. sunday, matt has trouble sleeping (big surprise)
  10. today monday, i first emailed an acquaintance who is a lawyer handling building laws etc., to see if he has any advice
  11. then i called our bank to find out how to use our legal insurance protection thing to procure a lawyer for our 2 problems: permit issues and wrong window issues, just in case
  12. then i called the insurance place, where i was told that we didn’t have the right kind, which i knew MUST be wrong, so i called the bank again, and the bank called the insurance, and the insurance called me
  13. the woman at insurance tells me that probably it IS a good idea to get them involved, and took my details, gave me a file number, and tells me that the lawyers will contact me within 2-3 days
  14. in the meantime, our contractor is trying to sort out the problems, and matt is trying to deal with our neighbor.

seriously, though. stupid neighbor is NOT seeing the big picture here. taking away our scaffolding will not actually prevent it from ever going up again. one way or another we NEED new windows, so the work has to get done. causing us to get more fines and costs associated to the work will not help the project. helping the project might speed it up, and thus might benefit all of us, her included. whereas hindering us like this will probably cost us tens of thousands of euros and will still need to be done.

she also lied and said that the other neighbors from the passageway beside the house were complaining. i’ve spoken to a couple, and of course they find the scaffolding a little annoying, but understand that our house will look nicer, be less likely to leak into things that affect them, etc, once the work is done. mostly, they’re pleased to see we’re getting new windows, and think it’s shitty that the city has stopped us. one of them even suggested we just keep on keeping on, and that usually the city will approve it anyway. (this is a bad idea, actually, but it’s sweet of her to try and make us feel better.) another one said, when i apologized for the trouble, "oh, don’t worry! it’s no trouble for me! it’s YOU that has the trouble! i hope things go a bit smoother!" very nice.

finnish cooking

on friday, i joined the maastricht international women’s cooking group for the first time in a few years. it was at my friend (& former neighbor) tina’s house, and she’s finnish. so we made finnish food, none of which i’m sure i can pronounce. i got on the train at 7:37 in the morning, arrived at her door at about 10:30 (it started at 10am), and we ate around 2 ish. afterwards, tina and nubia and i opened a bottle of wine and then after a glass nubia left and tina and i continued to chat and drink until late evening. it was really nice to see her and hang out with everyone. it had been so long, and i had a great time. here’s my favorite thing we ate – karjalanpiirakat with munavoi (the munavoi is spread on top of the little almost cracker-like karjalanpiirakat).

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KARJALANPIIRAKAT (10-12 pers)

2 dl water Filling:

2 tsp salt 2 dl rice

3 dl rye flour 1 l milk

2 dl flour salt

1 egg

Start with making the filling:

Boil milk and rice to a porridge, add salt. Cool down and mix in the egg.

Pastry:

Mix together water salt and flour, kneed well. Form a long roll, cut to equal size of ca 20 pieces. Make a round ball of each piece. With a rolling pin flatten the dough fairly thin. Add some filler on the middle, turn sides in with your thumb and index finger.

Bake in a hot oven (275-300 C, 10 min). When ready brush with water/butter mixture. Leave under a towel to cool down and soften.

Serve with Munavoi.

MUNAVOI


8-10 Eggs

Butter

4 dl Cottage cheese

Salt/pepper

Spring onion or chives, chopped fine

Boil eggs hard ca 8 min. When cooled peal and mash fine with a fork; mix with butter and cottage cheese to a thick paste. Add salt, pepper and spring onion. Serve with Karjalanpiirakka.

i’m writing about this because it’s a much nicer subject than the latest construction news on the house. bleh. 🙂

Bela Fleck and the Flecktones at Melkweg

Wow.
That was really a fantastic show.  I wasn’t sure.  I listened to them a lot when i was a teenager (my first boyfriend was really into them).  i bought the tickets a few months ago and had been going back and forth ever since on whether it was a good idea or not.  I knew matt wouldn’t like them, which i’m still sure of, and so i took the biggest technical music geek i know, dick.

so there are four men on stage: one on harmonica, piano and once some kind of pipe; one on bass guitar; one (bela himself) on banjo; and one (the guy with the pirate hat) on some strange instrument that i hesitate to accurately describe – a "synthetic drum guitar???"  Anyway, they stood on stage and jammed and jammed for about 2 hours.

i am not really that kind of geek, so there were periods of time when i zoned out a little, but most of the time i was just amazed by what they were doing.  i couldn’t believe how well that guy could play the harmonica.  the harmonica!!!  he was amazing.  everyone was extremely talented, of course, and everyone had their solo opportunity, but i think i was most intrigued by the harmonica bit.  and the weird ass instrument pirate guy was playing.  what the hell was that?

dick, as a music geek of the first order, was thoroughly entranced.  staring and staring and bopping around a little and swaying.  🙂 it’s nice to take someone along to something and then see them appreciate it THAT much.  his exact words afterwards were: "wow.  i’ve never seen anything like that!"

anyway, that’s all i’m going to say.  it was amazing.  i’m glad to have seen them.  and for those of you who are now curious what they are, uh:  jazz,  i guess.  with banjo.  🙂  i kind of suck with classifications.

Faith and the Muse at de Kade

well, first off, i’d like to say that EVERYONE in the band was super nice.  really really really nice.  most of them were exhausted, having had 3 hours sleep then a 6 hour drive to get to zaandam.  they were unloading when i showed up with my little box and got a little in people’s way.  sound check went badly – they only got to do 1 1/2 songs, the violin wasn’t able to be hooked up with the various effects he likes, i don’t even know what else went wrong, just that plenty did go wrong.

but… they were troopers.  seriously.  i heard one person backstage complaining about somebody being a bit snitty, but i wasn’t even sure who it was.  i missed the beginning of the story – it could even have been someone from the venue itself.  i have no idea.  the person telling the story even said they thought it was a miscommunication. 

the show itself was wonderful.  the imagery, the performances… i was really impressed.  here’s a band i’ve been listening to for many many years, and it was really great to see them live… and seeing them live, i thought they did a super job.  i actually was so enraptured that i’m afraid i’m lacking a bit for details.  sorry.  the dancers looked fantastic and their costumes were really stunning.  i liked when one kept getting just a tad off and watching the other for cues.  it didn’t detract at all, just made it more touchable, in a way.  i thought the violin sounded fantastic, even without the effects, and i was really impressed by how much he managed to make it a performance, too.  i personally think it’s a bit difficult to move much while playing.  a little swaying, ok, but he managed some really nice larger moves, which enhanced his overall appearance nicely.  i was impressed with how the little smears of makeup everyone had looked so much more interesting onstage than off.  good thing to remember.  i liked that there were mohawks, dreads and long flowy hair all onstage.  🙂  i remember thinking during a couple of songs that i didn’t know that they were really interesting and i should remember something about them in order to buy them after, but … uh… i don’t.

after, i was planning on heading out, but ended up going back upstairs with troy and nienke to hang out in the large dressing room.  again, i say:  everyone was really really sweet.  i pulled a total fan-girl on monica.  couldn’t help it, i got caught up in the moment.  but really – she’s wonderful.  talked a bit with everyone, but they all looked so sleepy i felt bad for being there.  after a while i said i was going and troy and nienke very sweetly came with me so i didn’t have to go alone.  i was exhausted too.  long day, but really fun. 

oh, and before i forget:  everyone in schwarzblut was also really nice.  extremely friendly.  i wish i’d seen their show.  i pulled a slight faux pas by not really being familiar with their music.  i was asked how it was going with the remix contrast is doing for one of their songs, and though i know it’s happening, i don’t even know the song.  i haven’t heard it.  i felt really bad for not having made sure i was familiar with it in advance.  i did listen to a bunch of their stuff about a month ago, to find out who they were, etc., but i forgot which song patrick and rene are remixing.  oops.  i’ll have to find out later…  bad bad sharon.