Friday, February 25, 2011

The Struggle Hill Mall

Thought it pains me to admit it, sometimes I can't get everything I need in one place. I wish I never had to leave the warm comforting arms of Struggledelphia for any reason at all. I wish I could have unlimited wealth and access to a never ending store of cupcakes as well.But given that I work in the arts and I don't want to end up on one of those horrible weight loss shows, neither of those things look like they are going to happen any time soon. And neither can I stay in Struggledelphia forever. Sometimes the winds of fate and sands of destiny (why....would destiny want sand? It gets in everything. Just saying.) compel me to to seek my fortune elsewhere, and so I must venture forth and explore the wilds of civilization beyond the reach of our fair city. And so it was, with a heavy heart and a warm coat, that I ventured, last weekend, to the Cherry Hill Mall.

The Cherry Hill mall is located, surprisingly enough, in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, the sight of many white collar crimes, 50's style diners, and single level shopping centers. Plus they also have a Wegmans not too far away. Basically, it's everything you could ever want without anything you actually need. As an urbanite, I'm fascinated with malls, and I always have been. Plants! Mall walkers! Hot Topic! (Have you ever seen a Hot Topic outside of a mall? Think it through.) Malls seem to have a plethora of stores and businesses that do not exist outside of their air conditioned climate controlled food courted halls. I certainly have never thought about the Mall as a social activity. I thought people only "hung out" in malls in movies, Fast Times at Ridgemont High springs to mind. Oh, gentle readers, I could not have been more wrong....

This is a mall modeling talent search. It looks like they got some winners. 
This is not good parenting. 
This does not seem like a great deal. 
This is how New Jersey does hair. 
This is not a store I've ever seen in real life. This is a man, on the verge of the silent scream
This is another way New Jersey does hair. 
This is another imaginary store. 
This is what Betty Friedan was talking about. 
This is me. I am not amused. 

I really hope Struggledelphia gets a Forever 21 soon. Because I'm not relishing going back out to New Jersey and living through that grotesque carnival of human misery again....I'm completely kidding. I love that place. Bring it on, New Jersey, I can take it. 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Struggle Gets Dishy: Side Benefits

So, good old Puxutawny Phil neglected to see his shadow, which means an early spring for all of us! Good news, right? A cause for joy and celebration? Ah, my friends, you could not be more wrong.

Why? Well, for starters, I don't care what that deceitful little rodent says, it's still dangerously cold here in Struggledelphia. And why are we trusting our fate to a small ground dwelling mammal anyway? I mean, what does he know about meteorology, he doesn't even have a weather based name or a bow tie or any of the things I expect from my local news carrier. Trusting the weather to a groundhog is like saying my cat can make prophesies about the future. And considering that my cat's favorite activities are sleeping and licking itself in it's swimsuit areas, I'm not so sure that we want to live in that future, frankly.

 And don't even get me started on Staten Island Chuck. To think, New York calls US the second class city...

Additionally, after this long and painful winter, is anyone REALLY ready to strip down to their daisy dukes and halter tops and bare all that pasty pale skin to the light of day? Of course not! It's not time for that sort of thing! It's time for snuggling up into fleece blankets and not moving until an animal of slightly more intelligence then a groundhog tells you it's time. When a dolphin let's me know about the weather, I'll be happy to listen. But not before then.

With all this in mind, my crusade for carbohydrates continues, with a potato based recipe sure to fill you with enough fat to insulate those pesky little organs without which you would expire. So, this Valentine's day, give you sweetheart and yourself the gift of starchy root vegetables. It is truly the gift that keeps on giving. And what could be more romantic then that?

Roasted Red Potatoes and Leeks:

I love this side dish because its pretty, filling, and fantastically easy. There's a double entendre there somewhere, but I'm too cold to make it.

1 pound small red potatoes, rinsed, eyes removed (if they exist. The eyes of the potato are the little sprouts which may have been allowed to grow if you, like me, buy things and then forget that you own them. It happens.)
2 large leeks.
Olive Oil

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the potatoes into 1/4th of an inch thick rounds. Thinly slice the leeks (both white and green parts, personal issue of mine, I hate when people just use part of a leek, use the whole leek, people, pretend this is the frontier), on a diagonal, and toss the potatoes and leeks with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Spread potato and leek mixture on a baking sheet. Make sure that there is a single layer of potatoes and leeks, if the sheet is too crowded neither will roast properly. Treat yourself to a second baking sheet if needs be, you deserve it, I promise. Roast vegetables about 30 minutes, or until potatoes and leeks are browned and potatoes flake apart when tested with a fork or knife. Season with additional salt and pepper, if that is your desire, and serve. Enjoy!