Thursday, September 20, 2012

Apple crisp

I left work early on Friday in a rush to make an apple crisp for our team party. Luckily my mom came over to help me peel all the apples. I also borrowed an apple slicer, which saved time.

I used Zestar apples and reduced the sugar — no complaints, but personally I prefer tarter apples. Back to Granny Smith, methinks.

You can serve this with vanilla ice cream (so as not to disappoint Rebekah) or whipped cream (which Tash might have an extra serving of). Your call.

Apple crisp
Serves 12

1 cup oatmeal
1 cup flour
1½ cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1½ cups granulated sugar
1 cup butter
6 cups apples, peeled and sliced
Dash of salt
Nutmeg (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, and butter. Blend them together until the mixture is crumbly and the butter is well distributed throughout.

Place the apples in an even layer in the baking dish. Sprinkle with about a half-teaspoon of cinnamon and a dash of salt.

Top the apples with the oatmeal mixture and sprinkle with cinnamon, nutmeg, and a dash of salt.

Bake for 40 minutes until golden brown. Cool for at least 15 minutes. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. May be stored at room temperature in a covered container for three to five days.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Tennis 2012: Le Club team party

Friday night our 4.0 team celebrated the season at Jessica's house. Her husband, Dennis, grilled a tenderloin — a huge chunk of meat. Red meat and red wine (especially together) are two things that always remind me how good life is.

It appeared that cheese was the unofficial theme of the evening. Glenna brought cheese, cheese, and cheese (I don't remember the three kinds, except that I ate them all while we drank wine on the patio). And Rebekah made cheesy potatoes and a potato salad — a bit of a digression from her assigned side, hummus.

Jessica's home is beautiful, and we ate dinner by the fireplace, with Goldens Copper and Toby wandering by to check out the scene. At some point, Kim jokingly suggested that we each say something nice about each person in the room.

Rebekah got really into this, raising and waving her hand: "Ooh — and Ann: I really like how you set up courts and you include everybody!" She was not even deterred by Kim and Mary singing Kumbaya.

In the spirit of good sportsmanship, I'll be a team player. Here goes:

Ann: I'll always remember that you gave me my first shot at 4.0 and my first experience with combo. Thank you for always being so generous and welcoming.

Glenna: You have incredible poise and truly know how to calm people down. (I wasn't joking about how helpful you were at the first match.) I also respect your forehand and knowledge of cheese.

Jessica: I love your decisiveness in managing a team of strong-willed women. Thank you for captaining a great season and hosting a wonderful party. And someday I hope to hit as many down-the-line shots as you do.

Kim: We already know you're a great tennis player. But I knew we'd be friends when we talked about sandwiches and sleeping pills after my first match. I love being your token Asian friend even though I'm only good at basic math.

Kristen: In addition to having an enviable game, you never lose your mind when you play tennis. This is truly impressive and I've learned a lot from your calm, no-nonsense court presence.

Mary: You are one of the funniest people I've ever met: the garage jokes never got old. And I'm impressed by anyone who tells their opponents, "I'm not going to play a third set."

Nora: You give spot-on advice in matters of the heart. Our talk at Western was one of the high points of my season. (Of course, the way we got treated at Western was one of the low points, but why focus on the negative?)

Patrice: How lucky was I that we got thrown together four seasons ago? So many of my best tennis experiences have been with you, and you're a dear friend, Nooni.

Rebecca: You are a great player and so unbelievably cheerful. Really, I would not believe it if I didn't aleady know you from high school. And thanks for supplying the entire team with Gatorade at the Milwaukee Country Club match. You're a good egg.

Rebekah: Your excellent backhand is rivaled only by your cheesy potatoes. And your enthusiasm about this blog is so encouraging (writing can be a lonely pursuit — much less so with an audience).

Sandy: You're a terrific player, but I am even more blown away by your team spirit. You go the distance to support your teammates, and you never have an unkind thing to say about anyone (even if you did nickname me "Mother").

Tash: On and off the court, I admire your dynamic and dramatic personality. And I applaud your courage in drinking both beer and wine. Regardless of the college sayings, the grain and the grape make a daunting combination.


Monday, September 10, 2012

On book keeping

"Smart people always have a lot of books and games," my friend Mary said. I am pleased to say that she announced this while perusing the bookshelves in my living room.

In case you're wondering, Mary is a person with a lot of books and games. She will soon be tackling The Art of Seduction — which is not a self-help book but a chilling analysis of human nature. Good thing she'll have Atlas Shrugged as a beach read.

So what does it mean that I decided to pare down my collection tonight, before settling in to watch a jillion episodes of The Wire?

This project started because I decided to dust the shelves. To really truly dust, that is, to get the dog hair out.

Books are amazing things. They're like music, transporting me to a certain time in my life. So I want to remember what I've given away. It's odd, trying to hold on to what I'm letting go of.

Sure, I'm keeping some books for the sake of vanity. Like Small Is the New Big. I have not read it, but I think that having a Seth Godin book makes me look au courant in my thinking.

But I'm also keeping Love on a Rotten Day. In addition to giving hilarious rundowns of different astrological signs, it reminds me of Scorpio Heather, who suggested I read it. We met at a TV show taping five years ago, and I love when people recommend books that I'd have never found on my own.

I don't always do so well when I choose my own reading material: I'm giving away a few financial and business books in pristine condition. Maybe these tomes had one intriguing idea, but I couldn't slog through most of them. Same with some of the dog training books. Papaya can't read them anyway.

It's with mixed feelings that I'm parting with The Managed Heart and one of my Norton anthologies, books that were so much a part of my college experience. But I'm not giving away all of my old texts. I'm still hoping to read The Odyssey.

And then there's my grad school days. Keeping: Anger: The Misunderstood Emotion. Giving away: Anger: The Struggle for Emotional Control in America's History. Yes, I've always been interested in emotions. In studying them, that is — not in having them.

I can't bear to give away How Emotions Work. Even though I was probably the worst research assistant ever (I can recall only one accomplishment: finding a Freud reference about a dream), Jack Katz wrote, "To Naomi, In fond memory of your help in making this monster."

I'm also keeping the children's books — both copies of The Giving Tree were gifts — and everything Philip Roth and Oscar Wilde. Mine is a library filled with hope and cynicism.

Goodbye, my printed friends. You'll always be in my heart, if not in my mind.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Love and large-link chain

I was thrilled when Jocelyn asked about this copper bib from my Etsy shop and offered to send photos for my portfolio.

She already had her dress picked out for her rehearsal dinner, and she wanted a necklace that wasn't too long. This works perfectly: I love the contrast of the copper and the mint green.

She also looks stunning in the pic with Ben on their honeymoon. They both look so happy! I would be, too, if I were in Turkey, Italy, and the Greek Islands.

Jocelyn and Ben live in San Francisco and met five years ago at work. Of course I had to ask about the proposal.

"Last summer we were driving down the 1 on the coast and stopped for a day of hiking in Big Sur. Halfway through the 9-mile hike in a place with an amazing view of the ocean, he read a poem he'd written that chronicled our relationship and ended with the line 'So marry me — just say you will.' And I did."

I'm always touched when I see people wearing my jewelry, especially when it's on a special occasion. So thanks, Jocelyn. I wish you and Ben joy as you walk through life together!