Saturday, October 23, 2010


Dreams are weird. Everyone knows that. The so-called "most common dreams" - falling, being chased, teeth falling out, being back at school, and spousal infidelity - are basic. I have had all of these elements in dreams countless times, but dreams, at least for me, are far more complicated than that.

A lot of people don't remember their dreams at all, and many people have very basic dreams. Dave can often remember only one part of a dream, if he remembers anything at all. I think it must have something to do with how deeply one sleeps - Dave is a fairly deep sleeper, and in the time it takes him to wake up, he has forgotten most of what he was dreaming about. I am an incredibly light sleeper - it takes me a long time to fall asleep in the first place, and after that anything can wake me up - and I usually remember my dreams in vivid detail.

Let's compare some dreams, so you can see what I mean.

A few nights ago, Dave dreamed that he played basketball with Darth Vader and lost (this makes sense, as Darth Vader would be considerably taller than Dave). Dave also frequently talks in his sleep, and his recount of the dream explained why he had been muttering, "Not another foul... not another foul..." earlier than night.

Dave is also known for waking violently from nightmares and scaring me half to death. The resultant "What is wrong with you?!" from has been answered with "A giant bug... landed on me...", "I thought they were butterflies, but they were wasps!" and, my personal favorite, "I dreamed I was a poop." That last one has been retold many times, much to Dave's chagrin, but it is still at the top of my list of funniest dreams ever. To go more in detail, he was a poop, and awoke as he hit the water in the toilet bowl. I have never heard of someone dreaming that they were an inanimate object before, but there is a first time for everything.

It is a very rare occasion when Dave remembers enough of a dream that it still has a clear storyline. He had one a few nights ago where he and three other men were chasing Stanley Tucci. They were some sort of mafia but the reason for the pursuit was unclear. Dave and the other men (who happened to be Christopher Walken, Robert DeNiro and a third unnamed bad-ass) were driving around in a white van, dressed entirely in white, and occasionally pursuing on foot. At one point they were required to jump a fence, which DeNiro did with agility. Dave was scared, so he rolled under it. Walken, naturally, walked through it. I love that, even in dreams, Christopher Walken is god-like.

I sometimes wake from dreams not remembering anything about them, but with some phrase from the dream stuck in my head. If I have enough brain power, I write them down. I found this note scribbled on a piece of paper a few weeks ago:
"At one point someone said 'oh no, I don't like them either, only with much more informed prejudices'. I believe it was Neil Gaiman talking about fantasy novels of the 1960s." I enjoy the idea that Neil Gaiman and I discuss literature in my subconscious.

I often dream about music, or have dreams that involve music, or wake from dreams with some song or other stuck in my head. I recently had a dream where Dave, Jocelyn, Terrell and I were singing the theme for The Magic School Bus, and I was getting very frustrated that they did not know all the words. Upon reflection the next morning, I discovered that I do, in fact, remember all the words to that song. Why?

Last, but by no means least, I shall relate the story of my infamous 'Crazy Dream!'. This happened sometime over the course of the summer of 2008, and has been retold more times than I can count. I don't know if I had a fever that night, or if I ate some bad cheese, or if one of my roommates slipped me some acid, but what resulted was this, in all it's detail:

The dream starts out at school (Syracuse University) – it is the end of sophomore year and we are getting ready to leave for the summer. However, I hadn't been staying at the dorms for a while; I have been renting a room from a weird old man who was actually the father of all the Baldwin brothers. There were photos of all the sons around the house, but Mr. Baldwin was angry with Alec for some reason, so all of the photos of Alec were blocked by vases and boxes and other stuff.

For whatever reason, I was in an end-of-the-year concert at school, and we were playing the suite from Indiana Jones. I wasn’t playing the violin (which I have played since I was 10), however - I was playing this non-existent instrument like an oboe without keys that was 8 feet long. I kept trying to play right into the microphone, and the conductor kept moving the mic away, and then finally someone took my instrument from me.

I was really sad that my boyfriend hadn't gone to the concert, so I went to look for him. On the way, I tried to call him , but my phone told me that he had used up all the power on his phone by watching a football game on it. I met up with Jocelyn who said we needed to take our dirty dishes to the 'cleaning place', so we did. Apparently, though we didn’t have to pay for it, we were encouraged to donate money, and I didn’t have any, so I ran away.

Then I saw my grandparents, and my grandma gave me a hug, but my grandpa didn’t want to talk to me. They said that I could put my stuff into their car, so I went to do that - meanwhile, they looked at stuff Hannah (my sister) had done for graphic design, all of which was Lisa Frank-esque. When I went down to the car, my mom was there and she said that I had a visitor. I was really hoping it was my boyfriend, but it was in fact an old friend of mine. He said he needed to talk to me alone, and my mom got really mad, but I said that I was in love with my boyfriend, and nothing would happen, and that she needed to leave. So she did.

This other guy proceeded to try to kiss me, so I hit him. He said that he only just realized that I had liked him, and that he messed it up, and wanted another chance. I told him it was too late. I tried to put my stuff in the car and he kept trying to kiss me, so I kept running around the car to get away.

I finally saw my boyfriend and ran to give him a hug, and he gave me a hug back. THEN I saw the horse. It looked mostly like a horse, only with really mangy fur and teeth like an alligator. So I said (very loudly) "Is that a horse?!" As soon as it heard me, it ran across the road and jumped the fence and over us. That scared me, so I tried to calm it down, and then it snorted and BREATHED FIRE!!!

So my boyfriend said, matter-of-factly "oh, it's a satanic horse." So we ran in the house which was suddenly there. I told my dad (who was also suddenly there) that there was an evil, fire breathing horse outside, and he got really upset, shouted "you're going crazy and you're not even in Ohio!" and shot himself in the head! So I picked up the gun and tried to kill the horse, but the gun told me that it was out of bullets.

Then a booming voice from on high said "Find the tin cup! Defeat the horse with the tin cup!" but I couldn’t find one. I found a bag of carrots in the fridge when I was looking for the tin cup, and wanted to feed the horse, and my boyfriend started yelling at me to find the cup and I started crying... and then I woke up.

I have no idea what was going on in my brain that night, but I do know that it has lead to one of my favorite inside jokes ever. One needs only to bellow "Defeat the horse with the tin cup!" to get my friends cracking up. I hope this has amused a few more of you as well.

Respond with your own crazy dreams, and sleep tight!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pear Bread Pudding

We had a bunch of pears left over from Dave's mother's visit last week, and neither of us are a huge fan of them on their own, so I looked for a recipe that calls for them. As soon as the words "bread pudding" escaped me, Dave was all for it.

This recipe is a variation of one I found on It required some tweaking, and it could probably do with some more, so if anyone has any notes, please respond with them.

Pear Bread Pudding

Crumb Topping
2 Tbs brown sugar
2 Tbs white sugar
1/2 C and 2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 C butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract

4 eggs (1 C eggbeaters)
1/2 C white sugar
1/2 C half-and-half cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbs pear brandy*
1/4 tsp salt

1 (1 pound) loaf sliced artisan bread, cut into 3/4 inch strips
3 pears - peeled, cored and sliced
1 C heavy cream

2 medium sized bowls
9x13 inch baking dish

aluminum foil
2 dinner plates/a second baking pan
a pan larger than 9x13 or a cookie sheet with sides

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees f

Crumb Topping
In a medium bowl, stir together the brown sugar, white sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt. Mix in the butter and vanilla just until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, white sugar, half-and-half, vanilla, pear brandy and salt.

Line the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish with a layer of bread. Top with a layer of pear. Pour about 1/2 of the custard over the layers followed by about 1/2 of the heavy cream. Sprinkle with some of the crumb topping. Repeat layers until you are out of ingredients, ending with the crumb topping on top.

Press down on the layers as needed to help them absorb the liquid. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil. Place another baking pan on top or two dinner plates to keep it from puffing while it bakes.

Place the pudding onto a larger pan or cookie sheet with sides. Pour boiling water into the bottom pan until it is half way full.

Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees f and continue baking for 45 minutes. Pudding is done when a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

This is super yummy, and really filling, so you will have leftovers for breakfast or snacks. I really want to try this recipe with other types of fruit as well, since pear is still not my favorite.

* We could not find pear brandy, so I used ginger brandy instead. It was very good, though I'd like to see how pear brandy adds to the flavor in the future.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Baked Brie with Apple Butter

This is a super easy and delicious appetizer inspired by what we had at The Stone Cellar.

1 small round of Brie
Apple butter
Artisan bread

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Slice the brie in half lengthwise. Cover the inside of one half with a generous spread of apple butter and place in a baking dish. I used waxed paper so I wouldn't have to clean as much.

Place the other half of the brie on top, rind up, and cover that with more apple butter.

Bake the brie at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the apple butter beginning to caramelize.

While the brie is baking, toast some slices of bread to serve with the cheese.

Let the brie cool for a few minutes after you take it out of the oven. Cut into sixths and serve.

That's it! And it's delicious.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Amish Friendship Bread!

Dave's mom came to visit us this weekend, and she brought with her a coveted Amish Friendship bread starter. I had made the bread earlier in the summer, but, due to travel, was not able to keep the cycle going. I will try to keep up with it this time, and even if I fail, I now have the recipe for the starter.

Note: I have yet to test the starter recipe, so if it bombs, please let me know.

To start:

1 package (2 ¼ tsp) active dry yeast

¼ cup warm water (110 degrees f)

1 C flour

1 C sugar

1 C warm milk (110 degrees f)

2 non-metal bowls

non-metal spoon

clean kitchen towel

1 gallon-sized Ziploc bag


Day 1

Combine the yeast and water in one bowl. Set aside for 10 minutes to activate the yeast. In the other bowl, thoroughly combine flour and sugar.

Slowly add the milk and yeast to the flour and sugar mixture while stirring. Cover the bowl with kitchen towel.

Let sit at room temperature until it is bubbly. Pour into the Ziploc bag and seal it. Store it at room temperature – DO NOT refrigerate. Don't worry, this is safe, the yeast just needs to grow.

Day 2

Mash the bag.

Day 3

Mash the bag.

Day 4

Mash the bag.

Day 5

Mash the bag.

Day 6

1 C flour

1 C sugar

1 C warm milk (110 degrees f)

Add flour, sugar and milk to the bag, mash.

Day 7

Mash the bag.

Day 8

Mash the bag.

Day 9

Mash the bag.

Day 10

1 ½ C flour

1 ½ C sugar

1 ½ C warm milk (110 degrees f)

non-metal bowl

4 gallon-sized Ziploc bags

Pour contents of bag into non-metal bowl; add flour, sugar and milk. Stir thoroughly.

Measure out 4 separate batters of 1 C each into the Ziploc bags. Keep a starter for yourself and give three to friends along with a copy of this recipe. (Note: if you keep a starter, you will be baking every 10 days.) You should have 2 C of the batter remaining to bake with.

Be sure to tell your friends what day the starter is on when you pass it along, so they know where to pick up the instructions.

Final baking:

3 eggs

½ C milk

½ tsp salt

2 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp baking soda

1 large box instant Vanilla Pudding

1 C oil

1 C sugar

½ tsp vanilla extract

1 ½ tsp Baking Powder

2 C flour

2 large loaf pans

½ C sugar

1 ½ tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 325 degrees f.

Add ingredients to the starter in the order given, stirring thoroughly after each.

Grease loaf pans. In a bowl, mix an additional ½ C sugar and 1 ½ tsp cinnamon – dust the inside of the pans with half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Pour the batter evenly into the pans. Sprinkle the remaining cinnamon-sugar mixture on top.

Bake bread for one hour, or until pick comes out clean. Cool until bread loosens from pan to turn onto serving plate.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Apple Cobbler

Another quickie recipe post today - work has been madness and I haven't had a lot of time to write. I will put up a post soon about my job, so you can get an idea of what I'm doing. Until then:

Apple Cobbler

3 large or 4 small apples, peeled and sliced

1 C all-purpose flour

3/4 C sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1 large egg (or 1/4 C eggbeaters)

1/4 C butter, melted

Put apples in the bottom of a lightly greased 8x8 inch baking dish. Mix flour, sugar, cinnamon and egg until it looks like coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over the apples. Pour melted butter over the entire dish.

Bake 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Quick, easy, delicious.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Easy A - Movie Review

If Emma Stone was not already a star for her roles in Superbad and Zombieland, Easy A has certainly made her one. Olive is an unpopular senior whose lie of losing her virginity to a college student is overheard and spread around the school. Further lies are told (at her monetary gain) to boost the popularity of her supposed partners, and with each one, her self esteem falls as her infamy rises. Stone perfectly fits the role of an intelligent but uncool teen, while being attractive enough that the storyline is believable. The woman has intense charisma, and I know we will see a lot more of her in the coming years.

The formula for Easy A was very much like that of Juno (2007) - a sharp, wise-cracking high school outcast with a quirky family, just trying to get by with a stigma put on her by classmates. Of course, Juno is stigmatized because she had sex (and got pregnant), while Olive is ostracized simply because people think she did.

Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson are hysterical as Dill and Rosemary - Olive's not-quite-hippie parents. The banter of those two provided some of my favorite scenes in the movie - the discussion of their African-American son's adoption ("Who told you?!"), their daughter's name ("Is there an Olive here?" "Yes, there's a whole jar in the fridge.") and how it's OK to be gay ("I was gay once, everyone does it!"). I love Stanley Tucci more in every movie I see him in, and hopefully Easy A gives him an in on other teen comedies - amusing fathers or teachers are a necessity for this genre, and he fits the bill perfectly.

There were some incredibly poignant and topical scenes in the movie - the one in which the gay high school student begs Olive to help him because he is 'bullied every day and doesn't know if he can take any more of it' was especially moving, considering the number of suicides by LGBT teens recently. This was not missed by the audience in my theater either - all whispering conversation died as we watched a young man struggle with tears as he told of his abuse. Brandon eventually accepts who he is and escapes the torments of high school, as everyone participating in the It Gets Better project will tell you is possible.

That is the main thing that sets this movie apart from the one I keep hearing it compared to, Mean Girls (2004). Mean Girls was funny and a fairly accurate portrayal of high school, and I enjoyed it, don't get me wrong. But what it lacked was sincerity and heart - I don't recall a single moment in the movie where I thought "wow, that person is really hurting inside because of other people, I hope they'll be OK". In fact, the one gay character in Mean Girls is a walking stereotype, and seems completely unaffected by the rare, offhand slur in his direction. Not in the least realistic. Easy A had laughs aplenty, and a great deal of actual emotion behind it. There should be more movies of this nature and less of the inaccurate (and referenced throughout the movie) works of John Hughes. Teens should be able to see movies about actual teenage problems and solutions, not daydreams.