Monday, February 23, 2009

what to wear to a wedding in a warehouse

Way back at the end of last summer, the Rocky River Chamber of Commerce had the idea to hold a fashion show-style benefit for one of its pet charities. Along with a bunch of local stores and designers, the salon my mom owns was slated to participate. My sister and I called all our friends to find models, stylists volunteered, people started digging up cake recipes... and then the whole thing was abandoned because they couldn't sell enough tickets in time. My mother, who was probably more enthusiastic than any of the other participants, volunteered to take over the operation, changing the date to February 20, 2009.

Sometime in December my mother abandoned the idea of a catwalk and decided to stage a skit instead: two bridal parties, one classic and classy, the other wild and iconoclastic, would meet at their double-booked reception space. She rented the warehouse part of a studio building for the occasion. Robin Swoboda, a client and news anchor from Channel 8, would be mistress of ceremonies. The tickets not only sold out, but oversold. My sister (the only person in the whole show who'd ever modeled, unless you count work from before I turned six) would be the 'avant garde' bride, in a dress she'd seen at an arts show the year before, by a lovely local (and Hungarian!) designer named Krisztina Lazar. I would be on the classic side, spared from being the bride because I complain so much about how I look in white.

The dress I got to wear instead was a Badgley Mischka goddess gown from Peneventures, which I may pine over for the next year.

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The day of the show, my mother had to pick up me, Elle, Kyle, Josh, and Eric (the boys we'd snared into playing dress-up with us), because Kyle's car had broken at a most inopportune time. Elle rode in the trunk with a statue of St. Francis someone had donated for the silent auction. We spent three hours at the salon, during which Roberta curled, pulled, and pinned my hair into a lovely Victorian-looking coiffure, and the boys and I kept trying to sneak away for drinks at The Pub downstairs.

Here are some of the pretty boys (Jimmy, Eric, Josh, Gusty (I think he is very Humphrey Bogart in his white tux, but others said Cary Grant or James Bond), Kyle, and... a very nice boy whose name I completely failed to catch):

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Around four p.m. we packed all twenty-two models, five stylists, ten dressers, and sundry photographers, parents, and siblings into the small room that had been designated dressing space for the event. The boys mostly stood around looking classy while the girls rushed about being made up, gowned, and having last-minute pins added to their hair. There were also a few bottles of vodka floating around. My sister, in layers of tulle and crimped hair, stole the show.

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It was all over in a flash. The lights were so bright we couldn't see the audience. Everybody twirled and made their 'model faces' on the three round platforms, and we walked off in classy pairs, the clashing wedding parties, now all fast friends, headed back to the dressing room for more drinks.

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here are some more of my favorite photos. all the pictures link back to the sites they came from, where you can view the rest of the evening.

My sister, her badass groom, and Eric:

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The youngest model looking cooler than most people ever get in their lives:

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Kyle modeling. He should do this at home, too:

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Eddie and I, who matched despite being on opposite sides of the show:

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My favorite photos of my sister:

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Reszö, Mamma, Robin Swoboda, and George:

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My beautiful sister and mother, and me looking strange in make-up:

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Next year's theme is going to be a masquerade... I'm hoping I'll be able to find my way home for it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

crab salad, sesame rice, and mushroom stir-fry



Bonus recipe! I made this dinner in about fifteen minutes and it was so pretty and tasty I had to post it.

Ingredients

Crab salad

* 3 ounces crab stick (or real crab, if you like)
* 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
* 2 teaspoons hot sesame oil
* 2 teaspoons chili powder (I used hot paprika, but pick your favorite)

Sesame rice

* 1 cup (rice-cooker sized cup) sushi rice
* 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds
* 1 teaspoon hot paprika

Mushroom stir-fry

* 4 or 5 Baby Bella mushrooms
* 1 handful fresh spinach (slightly wilted is fine)
* 1 teaspoon turmeric
* 1 tablespoon peanut oil
* 1 teaspoon soy sauce
* 5 drops hot sesame oil

Directions

Mix the mayonnaise, hot sesame oil, and chili powder together. Mince up the crab and mix it in. Refrigerate until you're too hungry to wait any more (overnight is best, but it doesn't matter too much).

Put the rice in the rice cooker or on the stove. Make sure it steams another ten minutes after the heat turns off, then mix in sesame seeds and paprika.

Heat the peanut oil, soy sauce, and a few drops of hot sesame oil in a frying pan. Slice up the mushrooms and spinach, sprinkle with turmeric, and stir fry until the mushrooms brown.

These can be done in any order, obviously. When all three are done, serve in as pretty a way as possible, preferably on a ceramic plate as the turmeric will stain plastic.

pad thai



Pad Thai was one of the first things I ever learned to cook by myself, but this is the first time I've been able to make it entirely from scratch, since tamarind is a bit tricky to come by. Most of this recipe is from Epicurious, but I changed it quite a bit. The initial step was originally frying a bunch of shallots for toppings, but I've never managed without burning them so I've decided to just leave them out. This recipe makes about four servings.

Ingredients

* 12 ounces clear rice noodles
* 2 tablespoons tamarind (from a block of pulp)
* 1 cup boiling-hot water
* 6 tablespoons soy sauce
* 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce
* 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
* 2 tablespoons Sriracha or other chili sauce
* 1 bunch scallions
* 1 package firm or extra-firm tofu
* 1 cup peanut or vegetable oil
* 2-4 large eggs
* 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
* 2 cups bean sprouts (1/4 pound)
* 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped
* shredded carrots, lotus roots, bamboo shoots, pea pods, or other vegetables to taste
* lime wedges

Preparation

Soak noodles in a large bowl of warm water until softened, 25 to 30 minutes (or follow package directions). Drain well in a colander and cover with a dampened paper towel.

Meanwhile, make sauce by soaking tamarind pulp in boiling-hot water in a small bowl, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Force mixture through a sieve into a bowl, discarding seeds and fibers. Add soy sauce, brown sugar, fish sauce and Sriracha, stirring until sugar has dissolved.

Cut scallions into 2-inch pieces. Halve pale green and white parts lengthwise.

Rinse tofu, then cut into 1-inch cubes and pat dry.

Heat oil in wok over medium heat until hot. Fry tofu in 1 layer, gently turning occasionally, until golden, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer tofu to paper towels using a slotted spoon. Pour off frying oil and reserve.

Lightly beat eggs with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Heat 2 tablespoons shallot oil in wok over high heat until it shimmers. Add eggs and swirl to coat side of wok, then cook, stirring gently with a spatula, until cooked through. Break into chunks with spatula and transfer to a plate.

Heat wok over high heat until a drop of water evaporates instantly. Pour in 6 tablespoons shallot oil, then swirl to coat side of wok. Stir-fry scallions, garlic, and any other vegetables until softened, about 2 minutes.

Add noodles and stir-fry over medium heat (use 2 spatulas if necessary) 5 minutes. Add tofu, bean sprouts, and sauce and simmer, turning noodles over to absorb sauce evenly, until noodles are tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in the eggs.
Serve with chopped peanuts, lime wedges, and chili sauce.