Archive | the stereotypes are all true RSS feed for this section

FERRAGOSTO 2016: New Orleans

4 Apr

I only just barely qualify as a Millennial (and even then only because the state of Pennsylvania wouldn’t change my birth certificate so I could refute that title forevermore), so while I don’t have the “if it’s not on Instagram, it didn’t happen” mindset, I do suffer from “if it’s not on your blog, you’ll never recall it” syndrome. Being on the border of  today’s annoying younguns means that I’ll be old pretty much by tomorrow– so although the 9th annual FERRAGOSTO, happened 8 months ago, we’re talking about it now before JetSet and I reach the age where we can’t remember whether or not we brushed our teeth in the morning.

And this is truly one year not to forget: for years, JetSet and I have debated inviting others to our bizarre, tradition-driven little jaunts, and this year we finally found just the right beta tester–none other than the beloved DonQuixoteKef! Since you will see him only in the same teeshirt and cargo shorts from here on out, here’s what he looks like when he’s not in his trademarked travelwear:

tk

Alright then, on to it: wouldn’t be FERRAGOSTO if the shenanigans didn’t start off right off the bat. Immediately upon landing in the Big Easy, we had to find an urgent care that was still open because I had fallen while running in DC that morning, went to work all day, and then decided that our first order of business in New Orleans would be seeking out someone to stitch me up. As one does.

FullSizeRender (22)

Seven sutures later (3 internal, 4 external, for the curious among us), we were on Frenchman Street, where the beignets were frying and the brass bands were playing:

After eating more fried food than was healthy, we strolled the French Quarter, which was made infinitely better when we realized we could get our craft cocktails to go. Feeling the itis and the time change, we decided to call it an early night. We headed back to our beautiful and well-located AirBnB, but not before one more stop at our soon-to-be favorite take out bar, The Franklin. This is when I realized that I had become the third-wheel on my own vacation.

IMG_6578

Toasting the age old question: why ARE there so many songs about rainbows?

The next morning, JetSet took off an a hot, humid, long run and DonQuixoteKef and I took a pilgrimage to find the brick memorializing his grandfather at the World War II Museum  Along the way, we made the obligatory stop at Cafe du Monde, enjoyed the beautiful architecture, and popped into the Lafayette Cemetery. The great news about wandering around a new place with DonQuixoteKef is that he stops to read all the plaques, and then generously summarizes the interesting parts for you. That’s service with a smile, people.

IMG_6583

IMG_6581

Just before lunch, we caught up with JetSet post-run and set off across the Mighty Mississippi to the 15th Ward, Algiers.

IMG_6589

IMG_6591

We poked about, ate lunch at the super sweet Tout de Suite Cafe, and headed back across the river. We were having a great walk along the river, when a torrential downpour came out of nowhere and we had to go all Esmeralda and claim sanctuary in the St Louis Cathedral.

…but first, we took a selfie.

IMG_6598

We walked between raindrops, NOLA style–which is to say we followed the awnings from bar to bar. This was the perfect time to be in a group of three, as at any given stop only two of us really felt like a beverage so we could keep the afternoon under control by alternating drinking and seltzering without anyone feeling left out. And to think, just ten years ago I was partnered with DonQuixoteKef so he could help me finish off the second 40 taping our hands together, and now we needed each other for the sobriety triangle. #ReallyNotMillennials

After witnessing a strange Porsche Parade complete with police escort (no, really…) we continued our rainy walk through Louis Armstrong Park and into the Treme.

IMG_6599

We swung by the storied Kermit’s Treme Mother in Law Lounge, where we instantly killed the vibe a few regulars had going at 4pm on a Saturday afternoon.

IMG_6611

On the upside, we did learn a ton about a the eponymous New Orleans Jazz legend, thanks to the 30For30 style documentary they had playing on loop.

Finally, we stopped by St. Augustine Catholic Church, which houses the Tomb of the Unknown Slave.

IMG_6602IMG_6603

On this October 30, 2004, we, the Faith Community of St. Augustine Catholic Church, dedicate this shrine consisting of grave crosses, chains and shackles to the memory of the nameless, faceless, turfless Africans who met an untimely death in Faubourg Treme. The Tomb of the Unknown Slave is commemorated here in this garden plot of St. Augustine Church, the only parish in the United States whose free people of color bought two outer rows of pews exclusively for slaves to use for worship. This St. Augustine/Treme shrine honors all slaves buried throughout the United States and those slaves in particular who lie beneath the ground of Treme in unmarked, unknown graves. There is no doubt that the campus of St. Augustine Church sits astride the blood, sweat, tears and some of the mortal remains of unknown slaves from Africa and local American Indian slaves who either met with fatal treachery, and were therefore buried quickly and secretly, or were buried hastily and at random because of yellow fever and other plagues.

Even now, some Treme locals have childhood memories of salvage/restoration workers unearthing various human bones, sometimes in concentrated areas such as wells. In other words, The Tomb of the Unknown Slave is a constant reminder that we are walking on holy ground. Thus, we cannot consecrate this tomb, because it is already consecrated by many slaves’ inglorious deaths bereft of any acknowledgement, dignity or respect, but ultimately glorious by their blood, sweat, tears, faith, prayers and deep worship of our Creator.

A humbling reminder of the power of taking responsibility for our country’s dark history and the tremendous amount of work left to be done to undo the oppressive systems left in its wake. End rant.

We headed back to home base, took a nap and a shower, then headed to dinner… of course with a stopover to see our friends at the Franklin. For the record, I am generally a woman who drinks about one glass of wine per week… but when I realized I could strut about with my champagne, I was just bubbling over with excitement (har har har). We ate a delicious meal at Peche, then went for cocktails at Arnaud’s French 75.  Anyone keeping track realizes that, by this point, my whopping four drinks in 24 hours had me feeling like a million bucks, so I abstained when JetSet and DonQuixote stopped by Franklin’s for one more roadie.

And yet, somehow, I still participated (instigated?) this late night selfie stick session

IMG_6618

which devolved into my brother and I DEMANDING that Don Quixote join, in a ruckus very similar to an entire amphitheater full of fans chanting “one more song!” that didn’t end until the man himself appeared

IMG_6621

and finally agreed to “snuggle and selfie” with us

IMG_6622

two of these people are related by blood, and one of them is sorry he ever set eyes on the FamiliaKef. You do the math.

 

And then, like a rockstar who suddenly realizes the groupies he thought were hottie-patotties are actually thirty-something siblings, DonQuixote was gone as quickly as he came.

IMG_6623

Suddenly, it was morning, and we decided to be industrious grown ups again. A quick trip to the oddly all-inclusive convenience store down the street for provisions revealed the sign JetSet hopes one day to hang on his office door:

IMG_6594

It was our last day in the Big Easy and we were on two missions: get to the Audobon Zoo, and find a muffuletta on the way. We achieved the latter first, which gave DonQuixote just the boost he needed to rebound from the night before and trek across the city, plus all the calories he needed for the next four days of non-travel detox:

IMG_6628

Luckily, we were greeted with perfect weather for our final hours, and we managed to squeeze in the Zoo as well as mini-campus tours of Loyola and Tulane, plus an attempted-but-ultimately-barred jaunt through one of New Orleans’ most exclusive gated communities.

IMG_6629

IMG_6630

IMG_6632

IMG_6633

We zoomed home on by streetcar, and snapped this lovely shot:

IMG_6636

And that, friends, wraps up FERRAGOSTO 2016. No word on where we’ll head this year (or whether DonQuixote’s Stolkholm Syndrome is severe enough to agree to join us again), but as it is the TENTH ANNIVERSARY, we have some exciting possbilities in the mix.

It won’t, however, be Cleveland:

IMG_6625

Extravaganza 2015: Sparkly Selfie Sticks & Seating Arrangements

4 Jan

Welcome to a new year in Kefland. Sadly, my time management skills have not improved since 2015 and I do not have any resolutions to rectify that, so we’re going with a quickie post full of pictures today with the promise for some yummy recipes later this week.

The FamilyKef and our surrogate family, CafeKef and ChampagneOnlyKef, love Christmas, and we love an extravaganza. For more on both of those things, read this post and this post.

As 2015 was the year of the weddings, this was the first Extravaganza where all our spouses joined in, and they did so each with their own zeal:

Jimmy2.0Kef with his rifle/gift

IMG_5369

MrKef with his 1920s-style toothache remedy

IMG_5386

and KimmieKef with her usual cuteness.

IMG_5370

Now, one would think that the major life events and additions that happened over the last year would have been all the change one family could handle. But then, MamaKef realllly rocked the boat by… SETTING THE DINING ROOM TABLE FOR SEATING, INSTEAD OF BUFFETING. This was a scandal no one saw coming, and so we all waited patiently for MamaKef to provide each of us with seating assignments.IMG_5377

I’d say it was dinner as usual, but I have a feeling most people’s Christmas Dinners don’t include a riling version of “Chrissy the Christmas Mouse” (featuring ChampagneOnlyKef on the spoons) and the Queen Mama herself drinking a Pumpkin Pie Vodka cocktail at the table.

IMG_5381

This one is blurry because ChampagneOnlyKef was just THAT enthusiastic about the spoons.

IMG_5385

Hot Mama– ow OWWWW.

So then it was gift… I mean, NO GIFT… time, which of course meant there were some gifts. ChampagneOnlyKef and CafeKef totally took the cake by giving MrKef and JetSetKef those magic towels that come in a teeny little package and expand to reveal their shape. Suddenly, it was 1995 again and there were two small boys in our midst:

IMG_5390

IMG_5391

To round out the night, CafeKef (who is looking hotter than ever), whipped out her sparkly selfie stick and we took some group shots. Here’s a blurry shot of both the magical woman and her magnificent wand:

IMG_5375

We tried to recreate our first-ever Ganza Group Photo, but we weren’t particularly impressed with the result. For posterity’s sake, here’s a comparison of life  BSS and ASS (before selfie stick and after selfie stick):

kefiextravaganza

IMG_1012

I’ll let you guess which one is which.

We decided a venue change was necessary, as only JetSet and MrKef had the skin tone to withstand that fluorescent lighting. We managed to get the lovely shot below, which I think is really quite nice.

IMG_1019

But, of course, there were some bloopers along the way:

IMG_1024

And that, my friends, was Extravaganza 2015! I’m sure I missed some important moments, and I’m sure my lovely family will remind me in the comments below.

Later this week: champagne punch, amazing eggplant, and a cake that will knock your socks off.

Opa Go Bragh– Irish Soda Bread, Greek Style

16 Mar

Today we’re traveling back in time to one of the only recipes that satisfies my Greek and Irish ancestors. A gluten free Irish Soda Bread with Greek yogurt–what could go wrong?

photo(2)

Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients

  • 4 c flour (I used Cup4Cup gluten free)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 TBS granulated sugar (I used coconut)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 c golden raisins
  • 1.5 c whole milk
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt (FIBBYDY)

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 425 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon mat.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking soda, sugar, salt and raisins. In another bowl, whisk together milk and yogurt until fully combined. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and stir using a wooden spoon until you have a shaggy dough.
  3. Lightly flour your counter or a piece of wax paper, press the dough into a loose ball, and lightly knead the dough for a couple of minutes on your work surface. You want the dough to be pliable and not too sticky. Reform the dough into a ball and throw it on your prepared baking sheet. Cut an X into the top of the dough with a sharp knife.
  4. Find a large mixing bowl that is twice the size of your dough ball and is OVEN PROOF  (I used my large Pyrex mixing bowl– you will know it is oven proof because it will say on the bottom) and place it on top of the dough to help keep dough moist and to avoid burning. Bake for 30 minutes with the bowl covering the dough. Remove the bowl and bake for another 15 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven and allow to cool before slicing.

5 For Friday: A Day in the Life

13 Mar

Alrighty, Keftanis– this Friday finds us in a MUCH better position than last week, when DC was still a snowy mess. BEST OF LUCK to everyone running one of the RnR DC races this weekend–I truly hope the weather gods are with you!

So it’s Friday and I’m linking up with the DC Trifecta- Mar, Cynthia, and Courtney– for a fun “day in the life” post.

photo(1)1- The Alarm – My day usually starts pretty early– I’m either hurrying to not be late for the 7:00 start of a 12-hour shift (wooo nurses!), heading over to spend a fun day with the most wonderful baby in Arlington, or getting ready for an early work out. As you can see, sometimes I get up on the first try, and sometimes I need a couple extra Zzzs. I like to leave myself little reminders of things I have to do that day– and if you don’t know yet, November Project is an awesome group of people who provide, a tough, FREE workout (plus free hug high fives) every Mon/Wed/Fri in DC. #TheTribeIsStrong Not pictured: the 5 times in between my alarms that MrKef’s buzzer goes off, which wakes me up and not him.

2- The Breakfast– I have eaten a Cherry Pie Larabar for breakfast everyday for the past 2 years or so (…seriously, I even bring them to FERRAGOSTO). I do not even want to think about doing the math to know how much that cost me–but I love that something with only three ingredients can be so filling. Not pictured: the 2 cups of coffee I drink before considering myself fit for human interaction.

photo(2)

3. The Afternoon– Starting at about 2:30 when BabyKef gets out of school, I usually spend a very large portion of the afternoon talking to my family. The call log here is pretty illustrative–I no sooner get off the phone with one before I’m calling the other. We’re either figuring out details for one of the three (3!) weddings we have this year, getting the high school gossip from our mom (who rules the place with an iron fist), or entertaining one another as somebody walks somewhere and is bored. Not pictured: the 12 calls to and from BabyKef and GrandmaKef in the mix.

4. The Evening Workout– I used to sneak in a  swim before work, but would get flustered because the pool 5831695848_d3036f8ba1_zdoesn’t open til 6 (and I have to be at work at 7), so I didn’t have time to be even a couple minutes late. Now I swim after work (unless it’s Wednesday when I go to the very best Yoga District class) and it’s amazing how much more I enjoy my swim workouts when they are not a mad dash to clock in on time! Not pictured: me with goggle rings around my eyes trying to convince people that they should let me take care of their newborn!

 photo

5-Catching Up With MrKef– After the hustle and bustle of the day, it’s so reassuring to know I’m coming home to my two loves, pictured here: MrKef and Oliver Tambo. Sometimes MrKef and I cook something together, other times he just watches Oliver play around with the laser pointer while I cook us something (okay… most time that is what happens). We both work with the “general public,” as he likes to call it, so we almost always have some stories to tell about the crazy things people said or did during the day. Usually, he’s drinks a Hot Toddy and I eat blueberries until I am blue in the face (har har) as we catch each other up on what went down that day. Not pictured: the video I have of him giggling like a schoolboy as he plays with Oliver and the laser pointer–but trust and believe, it will make for excellent material at his retirement party one day.

How to Have an Awesome Month in Ten Easy Steps

5 Jan

Everyone else got in their year-in-reviews last week but, per usual, I’m tardy to the party. Since this post is already past its blog-by date, I’ll keep my best of 2014 focused to the final 31 days. Ten steps to an awesome month:

1. Have a sensational best friend who is turning 30 (nb: I think that adjective is gonna stick). Scour Etsy for party favors and make sure there is photo evidence of your respective fiancees enjoying said favors (check out this awesome shop for lots of fun glittery goods and these guys for the perfect cake topper… oh and here, too!).photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 42. Watch your brother live out a lifelong dream. See here for more details.photo 13. Rent a private karaoke room for one of your oldest friend’s birthdays. Sing and dance your little hearts out. Bonus points if it’s country.photo 34. Set up your Christmas tree. Smother your amazing FianceKef with thanks for arranging to have your mom ship all your childhood ornaments to your house!

photo 3 4a. Wake up to find the first fatality of Christmas, courtesy of your cat.photo 55. Go out for game-filled night with nearly all your favorite people.photo 4

and maybe even buy a fancy frock for an upcoming event!photo 2

6. Rally with some really righteous people, including this Grandma (who is only a shade less stylish than your own.)

photo 1

7. Make your first pot roast for your Fiance’s first annual law firm dinner. Worry that it’s not actually done and have no idea if it’s good or not because, you know, you don’t actually eat meat.photo 4

8. Go home to the beautiful Hudson Valley for another legendary Christmas by MamaKef.

photo 58a. Receive a selfie stick. Proceed to run amok with said device and realize that true Christmas joy can be yours for a mere $8.

photo 1 photo 3 photo 4

I can’t decide whether or not those should get captions… so let’s just say they’re available upon request.

9. Bring your beloved out to what he refers to as a “Townie Bar” and watch him make friends with everyone in the room, even if they graduated from your high school in… 2011. (Optional: have small crisis about the fact that people who graduated from high school in 2011 can drink legally.)

photo 2

10. Celebrate the following Christmas miracles:

spanakopita, which should always be treated as a gift from Godphoto 5

the fact that this Facetime session between MamaKef and GoesDarkKef really and truly did happen
photo 2

and the discovery that gluten-free baklava is out there, and it’s ChampagneOnlyKef-approved! photo 1

Finally: ring in a New Year with the most lovable guy around.

photo 4

Easy Peasey Orange Blossom Cookies That Will Give Your Life Meaning

7 Nov

I am always raving about melomakarona, the tiny cookies that will change your life in a huge way. I keep saying I will try and make a gf/sf version, but never get around to it. Today’s recipe joins the gilded ranks of awesome things that have been discovered by accident. Move over, penicillin–your girl Chef Kef stumbled upon a gluten-free, sugar-free cookie that tastes a whole lot like melomakarona. One day I will try and add some spices to capture the rich subtlety of the original cookie, but for today, these orange and honey palate-pleasers are more than close enough.

This recipe is originally from Pure and Simple Nourishment-but I had to improvise because I didn’t bother to check ingredients before I started. My version is below, but full gift-from-the-heavens, melomakarona-impersonating praise goes to Erin and Amanda for giving this gluten-free Greek’s life meaning again.

photo(1)Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Orange Blossom Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 c almond flour
  • 1/8 c coconut flour
  • 1/6 c coconut oil, melted
  • zest and juice and 4 clementines
  • 1 TBS vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1/3 cup honey

Assembly

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Mix with a spoon or pastry cutter until dough has formed.

2. Mold dough into a ball and wrap in wax paper. Put in freezer for at least 15 minutes.

3. Form dough into 1-1.5 -inch balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart from one another. Using a fork, press the cookies down so they are flatter (but not completely flat) with the cross-hatch design.

4. Bake for 13-15 minutes. Tops will be golden brown. I cooked mine for 14 and they were still soft and very yummy. Let cool before eating or they may fall apart.

Happy Birthday, JetSet

19 Jul

By the time you read this, I’ll be somewhere over the Pacific Ocean on my way to Malayasia for JetSet Kef and my yearly vacation.

It will ALSO be JetSet’s 31st birthday! Let’s give a round of applause to this guy here:

photo 1

No- that’s not the result of a Stockphoto search for “Professional New Yorker”– it’s what JetSet looks like on any given Thursday night. As one does. Happy birthday!

%d bloggers like this: