Thursday, December 28, 2006

Hello. Still here, just having a bit of off-net time, which in these 24/7 times can be very relaxing. I've gone out. Seen people. Went to the Hampstead Comedy Club Jewish Xmas Eve show at the Adelaide. Stayed in. Watched TV/DVDs. Done my accounts and tax return. Dry cleaned my curtains. Made a number of batches of roasted butternut squash and split pea soup (my version of a Claudia Roden recipe). I've walked (some) although my back still hurts and I still have a trapped nerve in my leg. Which, frankly, has put me in a very bad mood for six weeks, which I'm sure partially accounts for my post-paucity.

My wishes for 2007? Not entirely sure I do New Year's resolutions, but I fervently hope that the universe takes on my minhag of calling next year double-oh-seven. All year.

See you on the other side. Unless I have more to say before then.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Vecosys.com - a new blog tracking European startups.
Yes, I'm back. I have terrible jet lag. I totally don't know what day it is.

Monday, December 18, 2006

I'm leaving, leaving on an airtrain... see you on the other side.

Naked band

Soho, somewhere.

Corner of Watts

Corner of Watts and Greenwich. I think.

fire hydrant

Somehow, we don't have stuff like this.

freightliner

Somehow, american vehicles are just different. Scarier.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Turn it over...

Y'know, someone recently said this about my blog (it's from Pirke Avot), but this is great... "turn it over and over for everything is contained within it"... Compost.

Sauerkraut

Jewish farmers healing the world one cabbage at a time... I've really given a lot (more) thought this weekend to what I eat and why and I.

Like, for a while now, I've been pretty thoughtful. I no longer eat stuff with loads of E-numbers or transfats or anything where I don't know what it means. I'm averagely smart: I read labels. If there's something on the label I've never head of, chances are, it's not that great and I'm better off not eating it.

And I don't go out to eat as much. I'm not a hair-shirt wearing purist, because that would be no fun, but I don't want to go to restaurants all the time and not enjoy it. I want to enjoy all the food I eat thoughtfully, and actually, quite a lot of the time, I just want to eat simple, home-prepared food.

And here, I'm among my people. Everyone's like me, pretty much, at this conference. Like, I compost with my neighbours, and we collect rainwater for the garden, and grow apple and pear trees and herbs.

For the first time, I've met Jewish farmers. Not just farmers who happen to be Jewish, but people who farm in a Jewish context, and with Jewish values (like these guys at Stoney Lonesome Farm).

Right now, my head's full of ideas and things I'd like to do and ought to do and might do...

Saturday, December 16, 2006

havdalah

Just had a wonderful, relaxing shabbat. Havdalah with 150 fruity Jews (well, on the fruity scale, anyhow), singing, swaying, dancing. And candles. Jewish stuff always includes candles.

Interesting debate about the Hillel/Shammai discussion about how we generally count up (add one extra candle for each new day of Chanukah) - the prevailing Hillel view - and the starting with eight, and counting down to one - the not-followed Shammai view.

David Kraemer suggested that maybe the (Hazon?) new minhag should be to count down, signifying that we are happy with less and less rather than more and more. Kinda like the voluntary simplicity view on Chanukah. Could be my new minhag.

Friday, December 15, 2006

So today I've discussed humous recipes with Jay Weinstein (he uses Turkish rather than Lebanese tachina, and cooks his chickpeas with salt, and without soaking), seen a wild-rice pancake demonstration, discussed childhood obesity, and heard a number of fascinating, personal stories.

I'm having a good time. I'm having a really good time. But I'm one of a handful of English people here, and quite a few people have come up to me because they like my accent or tea or something, and, it's nice, don't get me wrong, but I feel... odd. Like I'm the odd one out in some way. Which isn't true, there's two other English-born people here, and one of them's even from Cheadle.

I don't know why I'm saying this.

It's dead quiet. Compared to the bustle of the city, it's peaceful and I've talked with people who work on the farm here and medidate over their food before they eat. There's a guy who works in the kitchen who's from Derby. My room-mate is a fabulous woman who told me her life story this morning and I was practically in tears.

There are no locks on the doors here. It's all very open-source share-y (which is good), but by the standards of people here, lots of the people I've met, I'm an amateur.

Like, I'm thoughtful about what I eat and the planet, and I make choices that take account of the implications of my actions. But there are people here in CSAs , who work in food or cooking or writing about food. I feel like something of a fake. I'm here because I'm interested, and I like finding out more.

Also, when I tell people I carbon-neutralised my flight, they have no idea what I'm talking about. That's what comes from living in a country that won't sign up to Kyoto. I explained to someone over lunch that the clock on your microwave uses more energy than the microwave, and they didn't know that.

I have two cell phones, but only one of them works, and even then, flakily.

It's cold. But not that cold. Not snowing. That's global warming for you (I think you should read that to the tune of "that's entertainment.")

There have been some coincidences. Like, while I was typing this, a guy came up to me and said "are you the woman who flew in from London?" and it turned out we met at D's for Friday night a few week's ago, and we talked about this place, and now we're both here.

Or, how about this.

At the opening of the challah baking session, people went round and introduced themselves, and there's a couple here from Tuscon Arizona. So when it came round to me, I said my whole intro, and then mentioned that I once had an amazing Pesach in Tuscon, when I was there for work about five years ago. She asked who I spent seder with, and I said B&B, and she said, hey, he's my friend, I see him walking my dog. In fact, he told me about this conference. He read about it on some blog."

And I said, he reads my blog. We email, sometimes, although we haven't been in touch for a while. Hello, Bert.

Once, someone said to me that I'm a coincidence magnet (hello, X), but I think, if you ahve a larger circle, you're just more likely for more things to happen.

But anyway. I'm rambling. Shabbat Shalom. And it's chanukah, so happy chanukah. Remember, miralces, that's what it's all about.
Did you know that 70% of the Japanese population have miso soup for breakfast. Me neither.
Jerzy Boyz Farm, a 5 acre pear and apple orchard in North Central Washington.
I'm watching Broken Limbs: Apples, Agriculture and the New American Farmer. "The small farm is what made America what it is." As the narrator said that, someone shouted out "amen v'amen."

Today's menu...

The food here is incredible: grown locally, organic, prepared by a small group lead by chef Brian. The thing he did with the quinoa was amazing: I'll definitely be adding quinoa with orange flavouring to my repetoire.

Making challah...

We made challah - well, not everyone, but the group who chose to make challah. I learned how to do a six-plait loaf: I'll let you know if I get pictures of the finished product. And yes, it's all organic. Well, apart from the canola oil.

Sushi at Dean & Deluca

Keeping with the food theme - great sushi at Dean & Deluca on Broadway.

Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station, early this morning. I was definitely going the opposite way to the prevailing commuter-stream. I was leaving, they were arriving.

Liquor on Spring

The liquor store on Spring Street (downtown). Not obviously, the sustainable, healthy, eco-green shindig I'm currently at.

You know what? People are stoked that I'm from London (London, England?) But when I say, "don't worry, I carbon neutralised my flight", they look at me in a "what language are you speaking" kinda way.

Organic harvest calendar

We stopped at the McEnroe Farm Market - I love this calendar. Of course, what with global warming, the season's are kinda all out of sync. Like it's December, and it's 50.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Bal tashchit

I'm here at Isabella Freeman, at the Hazon food conference. I am among my people.
So NY is fun (but kinda tiring). Yesterday I went down to Brooklyn, checked out my friend's development, did some more shopping in Soho (it's kinda nice to get out of my own soho), got my hair cut, went to a blogger-style cocktail party (which was full of the same kind of Islington types I'd see at a parallel-universe London event), saw uncle S, did a lot of walking, and generaly soaked up the city.

I'm junping in the shower, and then going to Grand Central, getting a train up to Conneticut for the weekend. Talk later.

Also, oddly and moderately scarily, my laptop blue-screened last night, stating NMI parity check - memory parity error. Should I worry? I did my usual strategy of ignoring it, which seems to have worked.
(Sasha said I could come back and post whenever I like, and I have a rare entirely-formed post in my head. Still, this does feel a bit like being that couple you met on holiday who turn up on your doorstep ten years later, greeting you with a "Hey there! You said we should drop by if we were ever in town, so...")

God bless the Chief Rabbi and his brand new version of the United Synagogue Daily Prayer Book, known to most of us as the "Singer's" (after the translator of the 1890 original). I hadn't seen it until today, my in-laws thoughtfully bringing one to San Francisco for us. Chiefy goes to town with his twenty-two-page intro, at one point referencing French mathematician Benoît Mandelbrot, discussing the fractal nature of the Amidah prayer and casually deploying the word architectonics. Mind you, given the headaches induced by having to read the small-type pages in reverse order, it's unlikely anyone will get that far anyway. They'll probably give up and carry on reading Melanie Phillips's Londonistan: How Britain Is Creating a Terror State Within, thoughtfully offered by Amazon to all prayerbook purchasers in a "Buy Together" deal. United Synagogue members as shrieking right-wing paranoids - finally, some solid algorithmic evidence! Also, a tip to HQ: next time you attempt an astroturf campaign, try not to make it so bleeding obvious.

Elsewhere in the world of Hebraic Embarrassment, yet another bloody "first Jewish MySpace" - clearly a radical new definition of "first", given that it's the third I've seen this month. (Check the mortifyingly-awful ads in the right-hand column.) Attention, idiots with more server space than sense: We already have a Jewish MySpace. It's called MySpace. Last time I checked, they were still letting us in. But hey, if you want to go creating more non-interoperable electronic ghettos, you go right ahead - maybe there's money to be made in breaking down the social network market into smaller and smaller niches. Or maybe not.

-- yoz

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

If you're thinking of transferring your current Cash ISA, then this Direct Variable Rate Mini Cash ISA from the Kent Reliance Building Society at 5.46% appears to be the cleanest good rate around (ie no special offers to draw you in). It's not online, but then, your ISA should really be for savings, rather than an active account, as once you take the money out, that's it.
The thing about twentyfirst century holidays is you can know all about the place you're visiting, as well as all about the place you left. Although, I'm not from Ipswich, but I am slightly traumatised by watching it all unfold.
I went to Anthropologie on West Broadway, and bought this fabulous skirt (as well as two others on sale).
LogMeIn - is this good for remote access? Not that I left my PC on, you understand.
So I'm here. Got in lunchtime-ish, took a cab to Manhattan, saw my friends, had a high-speed shower, went straight out shopping.

Had a bit of a weepfest with the movies on the plane. Watched Little Miss Sunshine (quirky nutter family), The Queen (Helen Mirren is truly more queenly that HRH), An Inconvenient Truth (Al Gore's opener: I used to be the next president) and the Stephen Fry about him finding his Jewish family. That's how I knew I was on holiday - five hours of movies/TV.

My back appears much better - for those who are interested in these things - the pain has "centralised" ie is traveling back up my leg from my calf. It's now reached my thigh.

Last night, had the most amazing tofu ever, at Zen on Hudson. It's a new Japanese restaurant that makes super-fresh tofu, and we got there just after the 7.30 batch. It was like the creamiest, freshest, most unlike earnest UK vegetarian dream-dish I've ever had. If it wasn't for the two lychee martinis, I'd definitely have dreamed about it. As it was, I got to bed at 3.30 UK time (which was not that late here) but then I did wake up at 5.30 (US time). Must stop thinking in split-personality time.

Anyway, as some commenter said recently, it's not all about me (although it is my blog, so it's kinda all about me), what's with you?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Did you read this piece in the Observer about Arianna Huffington?
I'm in terminal three. Just discovered atlarge.com

Monday, December 11, 2006

Modernity is heavy, and I have a (slightly) bad back.

I have packed in my carry-on:
- my trusty Sony vaio
- UK power cable
- US power cable
- UK mobile phone
- UK mobile phone charger
- Nokia wire for mobile phone connectivity
- US mobile phone
- US charger
- digital camera
- battery charger for digital camera
- palm
- USB cable to power palm
- iPod ahuffle
- calculator (call me retro)
- sunglasses (OK, off topic)

Faust (party style)

Saw the Punchdrunk production of Faust in Wapping (even walked down Cable Street). Promenade theatre at it's almost-best: didn't get quite all the narrative, but then I'm not sure you always do. But I'm dying to go back.
And, when I'm in Gotham, I might check out the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co.
Have you seen this?WAYN.COM (where are you now). Social networking meets travel. Kinda twitter for travellers.
So I've been quiet(ish) because
(a) my back was really hurting, and put me in a bad mood, and the last thing you want to read is someone moaning
(b) I had a lot to do before I leave
(c) I had a lot of work on
(d) other stuff.

Friday, December 08, 2006

I won't be playing the Cruel 2 B Kind Game in Soho tomorrow, but it sounds kinda fun. It's like an alternate reality game. It's kinda like an extended version of that Paddington flashmob a couple of weeks back.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

So, I can hear a lot of fire and emergency sirens. At 11am, I was at the physio, and there was the most almighty hail and thunderstorm. I didn't think much of it, except that I had come out without an umbrella. But then, hearing the news, I realised there had been a tornado in Kensal Rise. Which is about a mile and a half away. I just saw the pictures on the news - houses on Chamberlayne Road have had their roofs come off.

Weather never used to be like this, right?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I can't believe that WordSpy are only posting approximeet today me and my friends have been approximeeting for at least five years. Longer, even.

JCCsalons

What are you doing tonight? I'm chairing a panel discussion as part of the JCC's Lit Café series, looking at Salons. It's at the Roebuck in Hampstead/Belsize Park (why should we leave the hallowed NW postcode area, right?) from 8.30.

Monday, December 04, 2006

See if your geography is as bad as you think it is - check out the world map game.

Banana Bread

So I have finally perfected my Banana Bread recipe (which is actually Z's recipe, messed around with) so that you're not left with three egg yolks at the end. No more excuses when you have black bananas in your fruit bowl...

And here it is...


Ingredients
225g softened unsalted butter
250g caster sugar
3 large egg yolks
225g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt (or less, it always feels like a lot)
3 medium-sized (very) ripe bananas
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
3 large egg white, whisked


Method
1 Preheat oven to 180C/ 350F/ gas mark 4
2 Mix butter and sugar
3 Add eggs yolks to mixture and continue to beat
4 Add flour, baking powder, salt, bananas, vanilla, cinnamon and blend well
5 Fold in whisked egg whites
6 Pour batter into a greased 2lb loaf tin (preferably with a paper doodar inside) and bake in preheated oven for 60 minutes. Keep a careful eye on it – it’s done when a skewer comes out clean. This is slightly sooner than you think.

Driver needed..

I love this. It's from the window of the Paradise (sefardi kashrut authority) Bakery on Golders Green Road. I love how it's a full-night-time-job, rather than a full-time-night-job. Me and D had a real laugh, Sunday.

Friday, December 01, 2006

To grok, a verb, apparently.
So, get this. Amazon write to me, and say, as a person who has previously been interested in the world of Jonathan Sacks, here's the new Hebrew Daily Prayer Book (ie the fourth edition of what's commonly known as The Singers Prayerbook, actually, I said that, not Amazon).

Now, I have bought Sacksisms from Amazon before, but how odd that it should be a book-retailing behemoth who are the first people to try and get me to cross their palms with £6.59, rather than some communal organisation.

It looks good. I gather they've taken on board some Artscrollisms on the design and typography front, which can only be a good thing, and Jonathan, his Sacksness has produced a new translation. (For people who don't know - Artscroll looks very pretty, and is accessible from a design front, but is a little right-of-centre when it comes to commentary and minhag (custom). It's basically a design-led kiruv exercise, although that's just my view.)

But 2 two 5 weeks to deliver?