The Pulse

Word search: last year’s new lingo, not your average peanut butter sandwich, rock out with Orleans and help the hungry. PLUS Shop Talk




The Pulse

 

The Peanut Butter Kid

A budding culinary whiz takes wing in Orange County

 

 

Kelsey Fosstveit knows peanut butter. She knows what she likes — creamy, not chunky. She knows what she doesn’t like — “I don’t like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,” says the 11-year-old from Mountainville. And she knows how to cook with the kid-friendly legume, which is how she became a top-10 finalist in the sixth annual Jif Most Creative Peanut Butter Sandwich Contest.

 

After last year’s disappointment, when her Peanut Butter Horseshoe Hooves (a flat bagel cut into a horseshoe shape, covered in peanut butter and “horse food” — carrots and apples) failed to impress the judges, Kelsey spent hours experimenting in the kitchen. She tried peanut butter on breads and bagels. She tested peanut butter with different fruits. And then — eureka! — the Peanut Butter Butterfly Panwich was born.

 

“It’s a pancake shaped like a butterfly,” Kelsey explains. “Then I put peanut butter on it. I used blueberries for the body. Then I used kiwis and strawberries for the wings. The antennas were cherry licorice. I did the edges in fruit cereal.”

 

Her recipe calls for two tablespoons of pancake batter for each bottom wing, and one for the top wings. It also calls for precise culinary technique. “You have to keep the stove on low or they will cook right away,” she says. “You can’t let them burn, or they will fall apart.” As with all innovations, her creation was hard-won. “A lot of them didn’t work out. I kept the stove too hot. I didn’t spray the pan. The wings would break sometimes, too.” But Kelsey persevered. “I knew it was gonna work. I kept trying, so it had to work. I’m the kind of person who will stay there all day. I will not give up.”

 

After market research confirmed her vision (“I made it for my very good friends, and they think it’s great”), Kelsey typed her entry essay and sent it — along with her recipe, pictures of her creation, and her own business cards — to the contest committee. “She did all the work herself,” says her mom, Kelly. “It was really fun for her and gave her a sense of independence. We’re very proud of her.”

 

At press time, Kelsey was waiting to hear if she’d made it to the final round of five entrants, who will vie for the $25,000 college scholarship that will be awarded to the winner. But no matter what the outcome, she vows to continue her quest for the perfect peanut butter sandwich. “I will try again next year,” she says. “I’ll probably do it every year. I mean, I don’t think I’ll be doing it when I’m 60. But you never know.” — David Levine

 

Twice as Nice

 

Thanks to 16 restaurants in Putnam County, dining à deux is more fun — and more affordable — than ever. The second annual dining out Table for 2 passport offers two-for-one entrée specials at some of the region’s most renowned restaurants, like Cathryn’s Tuscan Grill in Cold Spring. Proceeds from the passport, which costs $40 and can be used Sunday through Friday nights, benefit the Putnam ARC, which supports children and adults with developmental disabilities. The deals are good through the end of 2008. You can purchase the passport (worth an estimated $350 in free meals) at www.putnamARC.org.

 

Word Up

A local lexicographer with a specialty for new words tries his hand at Word of the Year

 

It wasn’t David Barnhart’s best year, word-wise. Not like 2006, when his submission, to be Plutoed (to be demoted or devalued, as in Pluto being relieved of its planetary status) was named Word of the Year by the American Dialect Society. Or in 2004, when his red state/blue state (red favoring conservative Republicans and blue favoring liberal Democrats in the political map of the United States) was WOTY, as the linguistic group calls it. But this past year — nothing. Not one of his 25 entries won a single category in the 18th annual vote, released in January.

 

Not WOTY (subprime: used to describe a risky or less than ideal loan, mortgage, or investment);

 

Not Most Useful (green-: prefix/compound form used to designate environmental concern, as in greenwashing);

 

Not Most Creative (Googlegänger: Person with your name who shows up when you Google yourself);

 

Not even Most Outrageous (Toe-tapper: A homosexual, in reference to Sen. Larry Craig, who was arrested in June for an encounter in a public restroom in which toe-tapping was said to have been used as a sexual come-on).

 

“I’ve had some dry years, and this was probably one of them,” says Barnhart, a writer and lexicographer who lives in the Town of Poughkeepsie.

 

That’s not to say he didn’t try his best. “I really liked CFL, for compact fluorescent light bulb [an energy-efficient bulb used in a normal lamp socket]. I thought it was a coming trend,” he says. He also thought geofencing (an electronic barrier defining a geographic area, used in monitoring movement of people) and to play Where’s Waldo (to challenge someone for not being where they should be or doing what they should do, especially when used by one politician criticizing another) might get some action.

 

He even thought he had a shot at WOTY with chipmunking (resembling the feeding posture of a chipmunk, especially when one is using a BlackBerry or similarly small electronic device). “A lot of people liked it,” he says. “It’s such a wonderful visual image. I was surprised it didn’t go anywhere. But then, I was the one who suggested we should consider subprime, so I kind of shot myself in the foot.”

 

Barnhart bears no ill will against the society’s voters. Though the arguments at the ADS meeting can become quite heated, he tries to stay above it. Sure, he loves his words. “It’s like having a baby, you think it can do no wrong,” he says. “Then you realize it’s not up to you. It’s up to the ADS members. I don’t hold a grudge. I try to take the approach — to use another phrase in the news lately that I like — it is what it is.”

Hmmm. It is what it is. WOTY 2008?

    David Levine

 

Q&A

Elizabeth Frank

The Pulitzer Prize-winning Bard professor makes sure nothing gets lost in translation u By Lindsay Kennedy

 

Written by renowned Bulgarian author Angel Wagenstein, Farewell, Shanghai (Other Press, $24.95) chronicles the fate of Jewish refugees who fled to Shanghai, China to escape the rising Nazi regime in Germany. Originally written in Bulgarian, the novel recently was translated into English by a two-person team that included Bard College professor Elizabeth Frank. Her elegant translation brings to life Wagenstein’s vivid cast of characters — as well as the stresses of daily life in war-torn Shanghai — for the English-speaking reader. Frank spoke with Hudson Valley about her work as a translator and writer.

 

What drew you to translate Farewell, Shanghai?

I have been going to Bulgaria every year since 1999. A close friend there introduced me to a novel by Wagenstein called Isaac’s Torah. Wagenstein is interested in the state of the Jews in the 20th century, and that’s an interest of mine as well. I grew up in the movie industry and my father [Producer Melvin Frank] was Jewish, and the humor in Wagenstein was similar to what I grew up hearing.

 

What does the translation process involve?

I’m very lucky. My translations partner, Deliana Simeonova, lived in the U.S. and has a fine grasp of contemporary American colloquial English. She did the close, faithful literal translation, and then I transformed that into idiomatic American English. I just tried to get the tempo and the tone right. Bulgarian is a Slavic language with a verb system very much like that of Russian. It’s a hard language to learn, but I love it.

 

The subject of Jewish refugees in Shanghai is not often seen in fiction. Do you think that Wagenstein was successful in his presentation of this topic?

I do. Wagenstein’s a veteran screenwriter, and the book is very cinematic, very visual. I think it’s a wonderfully successful book in that in accomplishes what it sets out to do — to show human experience and human tragedy all bound up together.

 

There are many characters in this book, and a few of them — including Commissioner Go, who calls himself the “King of the Jews” and brutally rules over the Jewish population in the Hongku district — were real. Which were your favorites?

I cared about every single one of those characters and was gripped by the story from the very beginning. You do several drafts of a translation (as you would with any work), and every time I reached the end of the book I would cry. Last summer, I gave a reading of the novel at a synagogue in New York . An old lady stood up and said “I was in Hongku as a child, and there was a Commissioner Go and he did call himself the King of the Jews, and he was a terrible man!” That’s something I take around with me every time I read the book.

 

You won the Pulitzer Prize in 1986 for your biography of the poet Louise Bogan. How did that feel?

I had no idea that I had been nominated! It was the most complete surprise of my life. Although it was wonderful news, it was very bittersweet for me. My mother had died three weeks before, and if I had known I would have told her and maybe she would have held on a little longer.

 

Your novel, Cheat and Charmer, was 25 years in the writing. What advice would you give to struggling novelists?

My father used to say to Hollywood producers, “I can give it to you good, or I can give it to you fast.” That’s guided me over the years.  I’d rather leave behind one good book than a bunch of books that are mediocre.

 

ShopTalk

 

Glamour Kills

Beacon

 

Local teenagers eager to add to their collection of edgy fashion tees need look no further than Glamour Kills, Beacon’s own T-shirt mecca for hipsters and rockers with burgeoning wardrobes of funky, fresh, graphic garb.

 

Owner Mark Capicotto, 21, of New Windsor, began selling his colorful creations out of his parents’ basement about three years ago. “I was doing a lot of T-shirt designs for bands,” he says. “I would just do it for them for free, and I thought, I can sell them.” With booming Internet sales came the need for a larger space, so last fall he moved into the 1,200-square-foot storefront on Beacon’s main drag. “We wanted to see what the response would be in a retail store,” says Capicotto.

 

The space, with its lime-green walls and electric blue couch, is lined with shelves piled high with graphic, color-block shirts that sport phrases like “Just Dance” and “Rock & Roll Ruined My Life.” “We appeal mainly to skateboarders and people who like underground music and the ‘alternative’ lifestyle,” he says.

 

A former pizza delivery guy and Dutchess Community College student, Capicotto designs every single piece of clothing. The bright, artsy shirts range from $18-$25 and are available in about 60 different styles for women and men. Capicotto continues to market his merchandise on his Web site (where most of his sales are made), in about 200 stores throughout the U.S. (including chain retailer Zumiez), and 50 foreign outlets.

“Right now we sell T-shirts, hoodies, leggings, shorts, and bags,” he says. “We’re looking to get into denim and jackets this fall.” Extending his clothing line isn’t the only plan the young entrepreneur has in mind for his blossoming business. “We would like to expand and open stores in other locations. Maybe in California, like in Los Angeles,” says Capicotto. “We track our sales on-line, and the response has been really positive out there.”

 

Not too shabby, running your own international retail company at the age of 21. “It’s all been very cool,” he laughs. “It’s really rewarding.”

— Elizabeth Stein

 

Glamour Kills. 544 Main St., Beacon. Open Mon.-Fri.
11 a.m.-7 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. 845-765-1132 or www.glamourkills.com

 

The Hunger Artists

A benefit concert in Kingston helps feed the hungry

 

This past January, the Queens Galley soup kitchen in Kingston served more than 7,000 meals to Hudson Valley residents struggling to put food on their tables. That’s double what the not-for-profit center’s budget can sustain. And that means there’s precious little money left to fix the leaky roof and make other badly needed building repairs. What to do? Throw a benefit concert.

 

Diane Reeder, executive director of the Queens Galley Food Insecurity Resource Center, which includes the two-year-old soup kitchen, runs the organization to provide local residents with local food. So she wanted a local band to help her out. “My 16-year-old daughter said, ‘How can you talk about anyone but Orleans?’ ” Reeder says. To her surprise, the band’s leader, Larry Hoppen, quickly agreed — and even arranged to bring along two of his musical friends, Joe Bouchard of Blue Oyster Cult and solo artist Robbie Dupree.

 

“It was a no-brainer,” Hoppen says. “They are a great example of what you can do at a totally grassroots, community-oriented level. Orleans has been involved in all kinds of causes over our 35 years, but this is our first hands-on benefit for a soup kitchen. We couldn’t be happier about it.”

 

Reeder blames a souring economy in general and outrageous gasoline and home heating costs in particular for the growing need for her services. A chef and self-proclaimed foodie — “my ancestors are Irish, Italian, and Jewish, I have to feed people,” she laughs — she tries to do more than just serve basic meals. “Dining with dignity is very important to me,” she says. “I don’t want to just give food, I want to give dinner. It has to look good on a real plate.” Her only rules for service: “You can’t be intoxicated and you can’t be a nitwit. We have a No Nitwit policy. Behave in a civilized way. Other than that, we will serve anybody who is hungry.”

 

Two shows will be held at Woodstock’s Bearsville Theater on Apr. 6 at 4 and 8 p.m. Tickets are $30, $40, and $50, and all proceeds go to the Queens Galley. Call 845-679-4406 or visit www.bearsvilletheater.com for tickets.

 

“It will be a great show,” Hoppen says. “I hope people come out and support it.” So does Reeder: “We really need it — the roof is leaking badly.” — David Levine u

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