2016 Cookery Project — Bean and Bacon Soup

Bean and Bacon Soup

Bean and Bacon Soup

Well, summer’s over.  It’s time from richer, heavier soups.

I based this Bean and Bacon Soup on a recipe from Cooking Classy, which has become my go-to source when I’m looking for something new and interesting to try.  With a few substitution–black beans and kidney beans instead of navy beans, Monterey Jack instead of shredded mozzarella–I already had most of the ingredients on hand, so this was an easy one.

Tasted great, too.

Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events — Premiere Date Announced

We finally have a date for the new Netflix adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events!

The première date for the Netflix eight-episode series is Friday, 13 January 2017, because of course the tragic tale of the Baudelaire orphans had to begin on Friday the 13th.  After all, there were 13 books in the series, and each book had 13 chapters.

I loved the first few Unfortunate Events books, which were filled with pseudo-Victorian prose, literary allusions, and repeated suggestions that the reader stop reading and do something else, because things were only going to get worse.  As the series progressed, though, the books got longer and less focused.

In the new Netflix version, Neil Patrick Harris will play the key role of Count Olaf, the orphans’ sinister uncle, and Patrick Warburton will be Lemony Snicket, the author and narrator of the books.  (The 2004 film version starred Jim Carrey as Count Olaf, with Jude Law providing the voice of Lemony Snicket.)

I’m afraid that it’s going to be really tempting to binge on this one.  I hope I can refrain, and give each episode the time it deserves.

In keeping with the tone of the books, Netflix has issued this recommendation:

“The world is vast and full of wonders. So on Friday, the 13th of January, please… watch something else.”


Romaine Brooks at the American Art Museum

Romaine Brooks Self Portrait

Romaine Brooks Self Portrait

I waited far too long to visit the American Art Museum’s Romaine Brooks exhibition, which had been running all summer.  I finally got to see it last weekend, just before it closed.

Renata Borgatti at the Piano

Renata Borgatti at the Piano

If an “artist” is someone who is ahead of their* time, and leads us to new, unexplored territory, Romaine Brooks was a great artist.

Her peak years were the 1920s, in Paris, where she was a central figure in a group of wealthy bohemian women who refused to accept the traditional roles assigned to females in their society.  Their financial independence allowed them to live as they wanted, without worrying too much about the social constraints that limited most women.

“Gender-fluid” is a term that went mainstream in the second decade of the 21st Century.  Brooks and her circle were living it almost a hundred years ago.  She captured that in her portraits of women in androgynous or masculine clothing.

A century later, we’re still trying to catch up.

Una Vincenzo, Lady Troubridge

Una Vincenzo, Lady Troubridge

Peter (A Young English Girl)

Peter (A Young English Girl)

From the exhibition catalogue:

“Peter depicts British painter Hannah Gluckstein, heir to a catering empire who adopted the genderless professional name Gluck in the early 1920s.  By the time Brooks met her at one of Natalie Barney’s literary salons, Gluckstein had begun using the name Peyter (Peter) Gluck. She unapologetically wore men’s suits and fedoras, clearly asserting the association between androgyny and lesbian identity. Brooks’s carefully nuanced palette and quiet, empty space produced an image of refined and austere modernity.”

Earlier this year, the American Art Museum hosted a presentation titled “Romaine Brooks, 20th-Century Woman”, which discussed “the artist’s social sphere, her life in Paris in the 1920s, and how through a unique aesthetic and persona, Brooks flouted conventional roles for women.”

Here are videos of three of the segments from the session:

*Yeah, I’m using “their” as the non-gender-specific singular pronoun.  Language evolves.

2016 Cookery Project — Sausage, Pinto Beans, and Kale

Sausage, Pinto Beans, and Kale

Sausage, Pinto Beans, and Kale

One of the first food blogs I followed, long before I got serious about actually seeing what I could do in a kitchen, was Adam Roberts’s “The Amateur Gourmet”.  He started posting in 2004, and for more than 10 years, he kept me entertained with stories of restaurant visits, notes on the larger foodie scene, details of his life and adventures, and, of course, recipes.  He’s moved on now.  About a year and a half ago, he got a job as a staff writer on the sitcom The Real O’Neals, married his long-time boyfriend, film director Craig Johnson, and stopped updating the blog.

It’s still online, though, and Roberts writes with a considerable amount of charm, so I occasionally go back and read his old posts.  That’s what I was doing when I came across his recipe for Chicken Sausage, White Beans, and Kale.

I’m using the word “recipe” loosely, because he doesn’t follow the usual format of first listing ingredients and quantities, then describing steps and durations.  Instead, he presents it as a narrative, and assumes the reader can fill in the blanks.  I couldn’t have done that when he posted the entry in 2014, but now, after gaining a lot of experience that comes from trial and error, I was able to breeze right through it.  Progress!

I read somewhere that to become truly proficient at something, you need to practice it for 2,000 hours.  I still have a lot of work to do.


Jackie — First Teaser Trailer


The consensus is that Natalie Portman has a lock on one of the nominations for this year’s  Best Actress awards.

Months ago, when I first saw the pictures of Portman in a Chanel suit and a Jacqueline Kennedy hairstyle, I didn’t even read the articles, because I assumed the movie would be some kind of Lifetime network light-bio hack job.  Boy, was I wrong!

The release date is 2 December 2016.

Grapeseed — Lunch on 30 September 2016

I went to Bethesda for lunch last Friday, and found this work-in-progress art installation at the entrance to the Metro station.  I like it!  It’s a nice, cheery contrast to Metro’s usually sterile environment.

My restaurant of choice was Grapeseed, a place that never seems to have many diners at lunchtime.  I have no idea why—the food is always good, and the prices are reasonable.



The starter was big, juicy cornmeal-fried local oysters, with a pepper jelly.  BTW, the old rule about only eating oysters during months that contain the letter ‘R’ no longer applies to commercially harvested seafood in the United States.  Unless you dig them up yourself, oysters are safe all year round.

The rule about white shoes after Labour Day, however, is still in full force, because without some standards, society would collapse.

Steak Frites

Steak Frites

And, of course, you can rarely go wrong with steak frites as a main.  The cut here was grilled Teres Major, sometimes known as shoulder tender, served medium rare with hand-cut fries.

It was just what I wanted on a chilly day.