Friday, November 20, 2009

Who does your color?

The first (and only) time I had my hair professionally colored, I was 16.  I wanted highlights.  I remember being shocked at the price--- $60!  Just for highlights!  I vowed never again to pay so much money coloring my hair again.  Now I must divulge a secret: I have had gray hairs since just about that time.

So I decided to try my hand at dyeing my own hair, and I have never looked back.  Since then, my hair has been everything from an orangey blond to a purplish black and pretty much all of the shades in between.    For those of you coloring virgins, I have to admit it is rather addicting to be able to change your hair color on a whim.  My sophomore year of college I had a new color every month.

After almost a decade of experience, I feel as though I have a wealth of knowledge in home hair coloring.  With every hairdresser of mine lately commenting on how great and natural looking my color is, it seems as though this feeling is not unwarranted.  I have realized the importance of keeping within two shades of your natural one.  Roots blend in far easier, and it tends to complement your complexion better.

These days, hair coloring kits are basically foolproof.  Most instructions are along the lines of: Squeeze the contents of tube A into tube B and shake until well mixed.  Starting at your hairline, apply color until all of your hair is well coated.  Wait 25 minutes and rinse with warm water until it runs clear.  Apply the deep conditioner, let sit for 2 minutes, wash out and style as usual.  I generally wait until the entire top of my head is covered; then turn my head upside down (gently so as not to spray color everywhere!) and begin again from the bottom of my scalp.  Once I reach the crown, I gather my hair in one hand while alternately squirting and massaging big blobs of color throughout the ponytail with the other.

My latest hairdresser advised my to use a shade darker for my roots, and one shade lighter for the rest of my hair.  I found this was well worth the additional expense giving more dimension to the color.  Currently, I am using Clairol Perfect 10 in Cinnamon Red Hot 4R for my roots and Auburn Flash 5R for the rest.  This revolutionary dye only takes 10 minutes to work its magic!  Instead of the comb applicator provided, I found the single tip easier to use.  Target is a great spot to pick up hair dye.  Typically, Clairol Perfect 10 retails for $13.99, but Target sells it for only $9.99.

So how much do I pay for my color?  $19.98 + tax.  Not bad at all.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Presto, pesto!

Due to some unforeseen delays (namely, my stubbornness and tendency to procrastinate), I have postponed further bean and rice entries until a later as of yet to be determined date.  I have also come to terms with my dislike of writing recipes.  More often than not, I don't measure ingredients when cooking.  I am a fan of handfuls, dashes, and pinches.  So consider yourself warned.

I also felt constricted by the format of my previous posts.  Hence, the two week silence.  

And now I come to you with pesto!  Pesto is one of my all time favorite things to make at home.  To be honest, I had never really thought much about pesto and its components until I studying abroad in Italy.  I was lucky enough to take a class on pairing food and wine.  We spent our class time preparing traditional Italian recipes and tasting copious amounts of Italian olive oil, cheese, and yes, wine.  I loved it.  And it was during this time that my obsession with pesto began.

Pesto hearkens from the Liguria region of Italy, specifically Genoa.  Typically, it is a combination of basil leaves, olive oil, garlic, pecorino cheese, and pine nuts.  Pretty much all you need to do is combine the aforementioned items in a food processor and pulsate until it is the appropriate consistency (adjust the amounts to your preferences).  With my little 3 cup KitchenAid which happens to be an upgrade from my previous 1 1/2 cup Toastmaster, I generally fill it with 2 or 3 handfuls of basil leaves, 1 or 2 cloves of garlic, 1 handful of toasted pine nuts, a couple grinds of salt and pepper, 2 heaping handfuls of pecorino cheese, and several turns of olive oil.

The more often I made pesto, the more I started to experiment with different ingredients.  I discovered that I preferred a blend of arugula and baby spinach.  Aside from the milder taste, it doesn't turn brown as quickly as basil, and it's cheaper!  It is also easy to switch out the pricey pine nuts for whatever nuts you happen to have on hand.  Almonds, walnuts or even pecans are a great substitute, and I would love to try hazelnuts or pistachios.

Pesto is generally used as a pasta sauce, but it is also a great spread for sandwiches.  Nothing adds interest to a plain old grilled cheese quite like thick slices of tomato and homemade pesto!  It can be kept in the fridge for about a week or last for months in the freezer (one of my roommates actually froze pesto in ice cube trays so she could easily use small amounts).  A thin layer of olive oil helps prevent browning.  So dust off your food processor and try your own spin on pesto.