Hocus Pocus / Funfetti Cookies

fullsizeoutput_311

This week’s recipe: Funfetti Cookies

Friendtopia/We nostalgically watch Hocus Pocus/Friendtopia/Awww, I love Hocus Pocus!
Friendtopia/All citizens must watch Hocus Pocus/Friendtopia/Or else they will be killed/Zigazow!

I came to Hocus Pocus relatively late in life. It came out in 1993, when I would have been too young to see it in theaters, though from what I understand basically no one saw it in theaters anyway. Instead, they were exposed to it through endless rebroadcasts on the Disney Channel and ABC Family, which I also missed, since I wasn’t allowed to watch TV. And anyway, it was a scary movie! About witches! And I was/continue to be a huge wimp about anything scary. I was so traumatized by the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyworld that for years afterward, I would only refer to it as “H.M.”, as if using the full name would summon the ghosts and goblins that populated what, in retrospect, was probably a deeply silly and cheesy ride. Oh, and I once had to be removed in tears from a South Street Seaport attraction called “William Shakespeare’s Haunted Ship.”

So yeah, scary movies are not my thing. But seemingly everyone in my generation has a real fondness for Hocus Pocus, plus it’s a goddamned children’s movie (sort of—more on that shortly). So when Mark suggested we watch it one October night a few years ago, I decided that my desire to fit in with my peers was stronger than my fear of a Disney Channel movie where the main witch was played by Bette Midler of all people.

It’s such a loony movie! I’m not surprised that it performed poorly in theaters but later became a nostalgia item among adolescents and young adults; it’s very hard to know who it was made for. Ostensibly it’s for children but when it airs on TV, it’s rated as TV -14, i.e. unsuitable for children under 14. This may be referring to:

-The odd obsession with virgins. Quick plot summary: Three witches are killed in 17th century Salem and only a virgin lighting a candle on Halloween night can bring them back to life. In present day (i.e. 1993) Salem, Main character Max doesn’t believe in the supernatural and lights the candle. He, his sister Dani, his crush Allison, and a 17th century Salemite named Thackeray Binx whose soul has been eternally trapped in the body of a black cat spend the rest of the night trying to prevent the witches from luring the children of Salem into their lair so they can suck out their youthful essence. He also spends the whole movie being teased about being a virgin, basically every five to 10 minutes. The last words of the movie are Thackeray telling the ghost of his sister, “I had to wait 300 years for a virgin to light a candle!”

-The teen romance, which though generally quite tame, does involve a scene where Max appears to be masturbating while moaning Allison’s name. All while his prepubescent sister watches from a closet. Later on, said sister informs Allison that Max likes her “yabbos” at a Halloween party.

-The unending horniness of Sarah Jessica Parker’s character, Sarah Sanderson. Seriously, she will hump ANYTHING. It gets to the point where, when she sings to the children of Salem, “The time’s come to play/Here in my garden of magic” you are like, lady, that is DISGUSTING, those are little kids! Luckily, she meets her match in an equally horny bus driver. First he tells them that he will use his bus to convey them to their “most forbidden desires” (whatever that means). Then, when one of the witches, in search of youthful essence to steal, tells the bus drive, “We desire children,” he not-at-all subtly implies that he would be happy to get all three of them pregnant. Cause it’s a kids’ movie!

-Max slipping his “number” to Allison and the paper just saying “555.” Okay, there’s nothing inappropriate there, I just wanted to bring it up because it’s so weird.

However, one thing that Hocus Pocus has going for it on the appropriateness front is Allison’s 90s-tastic loose-sweater-and-jeans combo. If this movie were made today, they would have put her in a borderline-slutty Halloween costume and kept her in it for the rest of the movie.

There’s seriously all kinds of crazy in this movie. For instance, Max is tormented by two bullies, Jay and Silent Bob Ice, who steal his sneakers. Jay wears a leather jacket and a kilt and Ice has the word “Ice” shaved into the back of his head, so you know they’re bad boys. The witches capture Jay and Ice and leave them in cages hanging above their cauldron, but when Max comes back to the witches’ house to save Dani, he just takes his sneakers off of Ice’s feet and leaves them there! Teaching bullies a lesson is one thing, but at this point the witches are still alive and likely to return home and do God knows what to Jay and Ice. It seems disproportionate to leave someone to the mercy of women who suck out children’s essences, imprison people’s souls in animal bodies, sew people’s lips shuts with a dull needle, etc., just because he stole your shoes. Then there’s the part where Max and friends trap the witches in the school kiln and turn it on. A scene passes, and then blammo, the witches emerge from the kiln looking a little charred but otherwise fine. No explanation, and also no explanation as to why hanging (the way they died back in the 17th century) apparently kills witches but fire doesn’t. And of course, there’s the famous dance scene where the power of Bette Midler singing “I Put a Spell On You” causes all involved to dance until they fall over dead. The movie is full of crazy shit like this. That’s what makes it such a fun Halloween classic for all ages (except kids)!

So anyway, here are some cookies. Who doesn’t love funfetti? Mark and I made these one night while getting thoroughly tipsy on NPR wine—yes it’s a real thing—and hatewatching a fine anti-evolution film called A Matter of Faith. (Okay, so I made them, and Mark ate them, which is how it usually goes in our house.) A Matter of Faith is about a Christian girl who goes to college and almost gets seduced into the evil science-believing lifestyle by her biology professor. Luckily, she is saved by her dad, who agrees to debate the biology professor about the origins of life, and her love interest, who sports a truly unfortunate late-90’s-boy-band soul patch. At one point, Soul Patch confronts another boy who says that the professor is going to wipe the floor with the dad, and they have the following exchange (roughly, can’t say I remember the exact wording):

Soul Patch: So, is your mom the monkey?
Other Guy: What?
Soul Patch: Or was it your grandma?
Other Guy: Watch it, man!
Soul Patch: So your grandma didn’t look like a monkey and neither does your mom. How about your great-grandmother?
Other Guy: What’s your deal, man?
Soul Patch: We’re descended from apes, right? So who in your family was the monkey?
Other Guy: Do you seriously think that evolution means that apes give birth to human babies? No, evolution is a process that takes place over millions of years through advantageous mutations. The fact that you can’t grasp that makes me wonder how you got into college in the first place.

Just kidding. Other Guy says “Whatever” and slinks away, defeated by Soul Patch’s brilliant riposte.

A bunch of other dumb stuff happens, and the movie ends with the debate, which the dad is about to lose to the biology professor when a wise old black man comes up to the podium and saves the day. No, really. That’s what kind of movie this.

Anyway, I’ve gotten kind of off-topic, but I just wanted to demonstrate that that’s how simple this recipe is—you can make it while drunkenly watching creationist straight-to-video claptrap on Netflix and it still comes out perfectly. The recipe calls for clear vanilla extract but I only had the regular kind, I don’t know if it made any difference. I brought these to a house party where they were feted both for their festive look and delicious taste.

Funfetti Cookies

From The Wood and Spoon

INGREDIENTS

  • 10 tablespoons (140 gm) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200 gm) sugar
  • ½ cup (100 gm) brown sugar
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons clear vanilla
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups (260 gm) all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 cup (160 gm) rainbow sprinkles

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Prepare sheet pans by lining them with silicone baking mats or parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter, sugar, and brown sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the vanilla and egg, beating on low until incorporated. Add the flour, baking soda, salt, and cream of tartar, and beat on low speed just until the dry ingredients are combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the sprinkles. Beat just until combined.
  3. Scoop out 1-1/2 tablespoon sized scoops (I use a medium cookie scoop) and roll each dough ball briefly in your hands to smooth out the rough edges of dough. Place on the prepared baking sheets 2 inches apart. Bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies have just begun to crack and the edges are set. Allow to cool on the sheet pans for about 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack to complete cooling.
Advertisements

The Transformed Wife / Duck Breasts with Apples and Maple Cider Sauce

IMG_0976

This week’s recipe: Duck Breasts with Apples and Maple Cider Sauce

Lori Alexander is an evangelical woman whose whole shtick is that wives ought to be submissive because the Bible tells us so. She posts neatly written, badly spelled notes on her Facebook page, castigating women who want to do controversial feminist things like go to college, work as doctors, work as real estate agents, work outside the home at all, watch This Is Us, divorce their emotionally abusive alcoholic husbands, remarry after divorce, choose who to vote for, cut their hair, follow their dreams, decide when they want to go out to dinner, or generally express any kind of opinion contrary to what her husband thinks. And that was only for the month of September! Instead of going to college, she recommends that young women can “babysit, nanny, teach music, voice, or ballet lessons, tudor [sic], photography, cooking school, dog grooming, become an NTP and teach people how to get healthier, housecleaning, helping the elderly, volunteer work, garden, serving at church, work at bakery, sell crafts, [and] take online herbal classes.” Too bad Alexander was never tudored on the importance of parallel construction, but you get the idea.

I could quote her lunatic blog and Facebook posts all day, but it’s shooting loaves and fishes in a barrel. Better to meet her on her own terms and debate her ideas there, I think. I have to admit that my knowledge of the New Testament is shamefully scanty, but at least judging from the Old Testament, I don’t know what the Gehenna she’s talking about. Here are some examples of submissive wives of the Bible:

-Abraham, the father of monotheism, had two sons: Isaac, by his wife Sarah, and Ishmael, by his slave Hagar. When Isaac and Ishmael began to fight, Sarah demanded that Hagar and Ishmael be sent away. Abraham understandably didn’t want to send his own son into the desert to die, but God explicitly told him, “Listen to whatever Sarah tells you.” (Incidentally, Alexander claimed that there was not a single verse in the Bible directly instructing a man to submit to his wife. Booyah, I suppose.)

-Isaac and his wife Rebecca also had two sons, Jacob and Esau. Esau was Isaac’s favorite and, as the oldest, the rightful recipient of his father’s blessing and inheritance. But Rebecca favored Jacob and helped him trick Isaac into delivering the blessing and inheritance to him. Because Rebecca had the foresight to go over her husband’s head, Jacob became the father of the Jewish people, to the extent that we are still known by his other name, Israel.

-In an (admittedly very confusing) incident, God comes to kill Moses, and his wife Zipporah saves his life by hastily circumcising their son. Moses had neglected to carry out this crucially important ritual, thereby incurring God’s anger, and disaster was averted only Zipporah’s through quick thinking to remedy her husband’s bad decision.

There are also women who defied their fathers—Rachel and Leah stealing Laban’s idols, Miriam denouncing Amram for refusing to sleep with his wife, Pharoah’s daughter disobeying his decree to save Moses’ life. And the litany of un-submissive women who are nevertheless held up as heroines doesn’t end there. There’s Tamar, a widow who dressed up as a prostitute, slept with her father-in-law, and was rewarded by giving birth to a son who was the ancestor of King David and the Messiah. Judith, Yael, and Rachav used their sexuality to accomplish what an army couldn’t. Deborah led the people in a war and ushered in 40 years of peace.

The Bible also teaches us that husbands are not necessarily righteous and wise and deserving of deference simply by virtue of being men. This seems like an obvious lesson, though apparently not to the likes of Lori Alexander. Sometimes there is no love in marriage, as in the case of Leah, whose husband loved her sister and continued to neglect her no matter how many sons she bore. Sometimes a husband is stupid and abusive, as in the case of Esther, whose husband’s actions were ruled by lust and greed. Sometimes a woman has no agency in her relationships, as in the case of Batsheva, whose second husband purposefully killed off her first one so he could have her. And whether in the realm of marriage or otherwise, even some of the great heroes of the Bible such as Jacob, Moses, and King David made bad decisions with tremendous negative consequences.

Men can be stupid, prideful, misguided, hypocritical. They can be driven by lust or anger, bigotry or self-aggrandizement, materialism or jealousy. So can women, of course, but it’s crazy to pretend that men are born with bigger brains, better hearts, and more discerning temperaments when both the Bible and history have shown that that’s not true. But apparently, the old Phyllis Schlafly game of “everyone should listen to this woman explain why women aren’t worth listening to” can be pursued endlessly, in new permutations, for fun and profit.

I would hope that most men want their spouse to be a true partner. I would hope that they want a relationship built on mutual respect instead of one person dominating and the other being a doormat. Guess I’ll never be a transformed wife!

So anyway, here’s some duck. Duck! Isn’t it amazing? It’s so tender and juicy, its fat makes everything taste better, and if you use it in the Name Game song (you know, the one with “bananafana”) as a child, it allows you to say the F word! It’s pretty hard to get your hands on kosher duck even in New York City but I snagged some from the amazing Grow and Behold. Mark loves duck so I made this for him because I am a submissive (future) wife who lives only to please her (future) husband. Hahahahaha jk. But yeah, it’s a really good recipe, give it a try.

Duck Breasts with Apples and Maple Cider Sauce

 

From The Community Table

Ingredients

  • 4 boned duck breasts, 6 to 8 ounces each
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for the pan
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 1/2 cups apple cider
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tablespoons pure dark maple syrup (Grade B)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 5 cloves
  • One 1/2-inch piece of cinnamon stick or 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons arrowroot, cornstarch, or potato starch
  • 3 tablespoons chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2 inch slices, and tossed with 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Instructions

At least 30 minutes before cooking, remove the breasts from the refrigerator. Remove any excess fat and score the skin lightly with a very sharp knife. Season with salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

In a heavy saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until it has begun to give off its aroma, about 3 minutes. Add the cider, wine, maple syrup, lemon juice, cloves, and cinnamon. Increase the heat to medium and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat immediately to low and simmer gently until slightly reduced, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the arrowroot and stock and whisk to blend. Whisk the mixture into the sauce and continue simmering until the sauce is clear and slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer 6 tablespoons of the sauce to a small bowl and keep the remaining sauce warm until serving.

Add the mustard, thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to the sauce in bowl and combine. Brush this mixture on the breasts.

Lightly oil a grill pan or a large heavy skillet. Warm the pan over medium-low heat and add the apple slices in a single layer. Grill, turning once gently, until the slices are lightly browned. With a spatula, carefully transfer the slices to a plate and set aside.

Turn the heat under the pan to medium-high. Sear the duck breasts, skin side down, until the skin is crisp, 8 to 10 minutes, making sure not to cook all the way through. Turn the breasts and continue to cook to medium rare, 2 to 3 minutes (the breasts will be springy to the touch). Before you remove the duck from the grill, brown its edges, about 30 seconds each. Transfer the breasts on a rack to drain any fat and allow them to rest for five minutes before serving with the grilled apples.

Weddings, Luxury Living Style / Chocolate Zucchini Bread

IMG_0954

This week’s recipe: Chocolate Zucchini Bread

“It has an article in it about wedding trends,” my kindhearted future mother-in-law told Mark as she handed him the summer issue of Luxury Living magazine. “Maybe you’ll find some useful ideas!” Well, I did find some useful ideas – for a lazy blogpost when I can’t think of anything else to write about and I just feel like making fun of something. So thank you!

Luxury Living is everything that its title implies. It’s one of those magazines that exist mostly to sell ads to the demographic of people who summer in the Hamptons. I opened it to four random pages, and the ads were for Jaguar Land Rovers, pearl necklaces, Rolexes, and booking the yacht club for your next event. The articles are about a celebrity chef, the hottest restaurants in the Hamptons, an opportunity to purchase Grey Gardens now that it’s back on the market, a charity founded by Matt Damon, a resort in Dubai, and, of course, summer weddings. Mark and I had many a good laugh over this last article’s, uh, suggestions for what you need to make the ultimate wedding in 2017. First of all, the article writer’s name is Claudia Gryvatz Copquin, which is really just the best. And now, I invite you to enjoy these totally normal and reasonable wedding trends and recommendations:

-Invitations: make these from combinations of non-standard materials such as moss and acrylic or linen, silk, and branches. To make your invitation really stand out from those lame-o Minted ones, you can also include a pearlescent wax seal or have it engraved on a piece of slate.

-Menu: if you met at an Asian food restaurant, you had better have an Asian food station or an event planner from Bridgehampton will come and murder you. You may also consider having menus printed on rawhide and barnwood for that extra touch of rustic-ness at your $80,000 rustic wedding.

-Décor: a wedding wish tree is a “unique idea” that is also “trendy.” How can something be both unique and trendy? Shut up, that’s how. If you want something more high-tech, just hire a Tony-winning set designer to incorporate projection image mapping onto your venue.

-Leaving the wedding: sparkers, a horn section, fancy fiddling, doves.

-For the bride: every wedding photo you’ve ever seen has included a bride holding her purse, so go ahead and splurge on a $681 Swarovski-beaded opera clutch.

-For the groom: Why get fresh flowers when you could spend $250 on a flower pin made from burlap or “upcycled denim,” whatever that means. He’ll totally wear it again!

-For the bridal party: $158 cashmere and fox fur pom-pom slippers. Having been a bridesmaid, I’d really rather that you just give me the $158 to offset the $1000+ I am spending to be in your wedding, but I guess I’d rather have the slippers than the $85 “Birch Wood Meditation Box,” which is literally just a box filled with sand.

-For the newlyweds: a $240 butter churn. The perfect gift for the couple that just had an $80,000 rustic wedding.

So anyway, here’s some zucchini bread. I know it looks more chocolate-y than anything else, but trust me, it has zucchini in it, so it’s basically a salad. It’s so moist and rich and chocolate-y that you’ll never know it has vegetables in it! Eat your heart out, Jessica Seinfeld.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

From Two Peas and Their Pod

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup Dutch process cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/4 cup canola, vegetable oil, or melted coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups packed shredded zucchini
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, divided

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and sea salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, add the eggs, melted butter, oil, vanilla extract, and brown sugar. Stir until smooth. You might have a few small brown sugar clumps and that is fine.
  4. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, don’t overmix. Stir in the shredded zucchini until just combined. Stir in 3/4 cup of the chocolate chips.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of chocolate chips over the top of the bread. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the bread comes out mostly clean, you might have some melted chocolate chips on the toothpick and that is fine. You just don’t want a lot of gooey batter.
  6. Remove the pan from the oven and set on a wire cooling rack. Let the bread cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edges of the bread and carefully remove from the pan. Let the bread cool on the wire cooling rack until slightly warm. Cut into slices and serve.