Wednesday, June 30, 2010

“My Vagabond Shoes Were Longing to Stray”

"Some folks like to get away, take a holiday from the neighborhood. Hop a flight to Miami Beach, or to Hollywood." But I took a car ride across PA's north side, and entered a new "state of mind".

I climbed the stairs and walked into a ". . . concrete jungle where dreams are made of [and] there's nothing you can't do; these streets [made me] feel brand new".

I woke up in "the city that never sleeps", and found that "my little town blues [were] melting away . . . ."

After eight years of absence from this majestic and marvelous mind-blowing metropolis, it was three weeks ago on my third trip to this upbeat urban utopia that I was quickly reminded of how so many locals wished to die by vehicular impact, how nearly no one on the streets spoke English, and how uncannily uncouth it was to be polite.

I doubt there is anywhere else in the world where I would be willing to walk a mile across a bridge and stand in line 75 min waiting for a pizza at a parlor where I'm obligated to sit by perfect strangers – strangers I thought I would never see again . . . until I saw one of them do a stand-up routine following a surprise appearance from Marlon Wayans at a hole in the ground club called the "Comedy Cellar".

I have never been to another city where I have had the pleasure of devouring a "Salty Pimp" ice cream cone from a "Big Gay Ice Cream Truck", encountering a stiff as steel naked man standing in the streets, and seeing a dress made of condoms in a "Museum of Sex" all in one day.

It was in this very place that . . . .

I watched the limos drive by and saw celebrities walk the red carpet.

I met up with an old friend and made a new one.

I sauntered by some shops in China and turned the corner to stroll by some restaurants in Italy.

I ogled a $600 purse in the window of one boutique and purchased the $6 earrings from the one next door.

I watched "Next to Normal" in a setting that is anything but.

I took a walk in a park you don't dare tread in the dark.

They say, "If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere."

"Hear it for New York, New York . . . ."

Lyrics in orange are written and performed by Billy Joel in "New York State of Mind".

Lyrics in blue are written and performed by Alisha Keyes in "Empire State of Mind (part II)".

Lyrics in purple are most popularly performed by Frank Sinatra in "New York, New York".

Monday, June 7, 2010

What Is up with Amber?

“What is not up with Amber?” should be the question. I’ve been having one of those whole “life interrupted” experiences filled with non-stop streams of sour news and chaotic crap that continues to happen, leaving the well of my writing resourcefulness rather dry, in turn leading to my noticeable absence from my blogging abode and making me wonder if this drought of mine has lead to a whole “absence makes the heart grow fonder” effect, as a few friends have been moved to remind me of said absence and offhandedly mention that more frequent bloggage would be nice – would be nice to have for some summer [break] reading material that is . . . .

So at this point my mind jumps a bit – perhaps it’s a lack of self-esteem on my part, or perhaps even the opposite, an overdriven ego which has made me misunderstand my friends’ insinuations, but I find it very odd that I am relied upon as the source of anyone’s summer entertainment, for I am sure there far more entertaining reads (with far shorter sentences) at one’s local library than I can ever ink out: The Woman Who Walked into Doors and its somewhat superior sequel Paula Spencer, both written by Irish author Roddy Doyle, being two perfect examples . . . , just sayin’. *smiles coyly*

Nonetheless, a request has been made (I think), and I certainly do not want to let the very small handful of those who have been steadfast readers of my scribed spewing down and out, which leaves me to beg the question: What do I do when life throws me dried up lemons with no writing wit in sight . . . ?

I post a recipe for CITRUS SUGAR COOKIES, and give the requesters something to do during this turbulent time of mine, hoping they will still be around when I make my return to regularly written essays.

May you be able calm your cravings with something for your palate while I calm the chaotic currents of my currently crazy life . . . . Happy baking!

CITRUS SUGAR COOKIES (recipe adapted by moi from

Makes about 30 large cookies

* indicates to check note at base of recipe

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
*2 tablespoons finely chopped candied orange peel (optional, but don’t use orange zest if using candied peel)
Zest of one lemon
Zest of one lime
Zest of one orange
*1/8 tsp lemon or lime oil
*1/4 tsp orange oil
Fine sanding sugar, for sprinkling

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper; set aside. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and the granulated and brown sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to incorporate after each addition. Mix in candied orange peel, the zests, and the oils. Reduce mixer speed to low, and slowly add dry ingredients. Beat until fully combined and dough begins to form around paddle.

3. Use a *2-inch ice-cream scoop to drop cookies onto prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Flatten cookies with palm of hand. Sprinkle with sanding sugar. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush tops with water. Sprinkle with more sanding sugar. Transfer to oven, and bake until just set and beginning to turn golden at edges, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.

*Candied orange peel can sometimes be found in stores around the holidays, but there are recipes on the internet to make your own.

*The citrus oils can be found at most stores with candy making supplies. For example, in Columbus they can be found at Drug Mart and Hobby Lobby.

*Feel free to make the cookies as large as called for in the recipe, but they are just as I said, large. I usually make them with a traditional cookie scoop and begin to check them after about 6 min. Always check your baked goods early until you know best how they will bake in your oven.