Saturday, August 30, 2008

Now We're Cookin'! - Saturday 8/30/2008

There was a time in my life when I eschewed all things domestic. Part of me thought I had to, to be a feminist or something.

Can I tell you, just looking at this photo a few days later still makes me happy?

I love the prospect of having dinner guests, especially when I have time to cook. And maybe even especially for the Historian and McPlaywright. They indulge my experiments, which usually happen in the dessert department.

This time they also got to sample a couple of new dips. I found the recipes in Body + Soul magazine. The Artichoke & Sundried Tomato was the best and I don't think I doctored it at all. The Cucumber & Mint was pretty good for veggie-dipping, but I shredded the cukes and added a little garlic to the recipe.

Clafoutis! (Gesundheit!)

No, actually, if you pronounce it right it doesn't sound like a sneeze.

I got the recipe from the most enlightening book I've read all year, How to Pick a Peach by Russ Parsons. (If you've spent much time with me in person recently, I know I've quoted this book a lot!)

It's a simple and tasty way to celebrate ripe fruit. According to Julia Childs, it's pronounced cla-foo-TEE. I'm looking forward to trying it with the traditional cherries and almonds, but the flavorful red plums were a good stand in this time.

Tip from a High-Functioning Amateur Cook: don't drop the room-temperature butter.

Ooh, other cooks in my kitchen!

McPlaywright is so fast with that knife that you can hardly see it. And she's also a recently award winning playwright...times two! Yay!

The Historian, who is a newly-minted PhD (Congrats!!), is a whiz with the radicchio.

The lovely citrus/radicchio salad they whipped up brought on flashbacks to an emotionally scarring incident from my junior year in high school involving some rogue red cabbage and the prom committee... but that's a story for another time.

The rest of the menu: fresh salsa, homemade guacamole, chips and four slight variations of quesadillas: Mexican cheese & carmelized onion, Mexican cheese & sundried tomato, garlic chevre & carmelized onion and garlic chevre & sundried tomato. I think my favorite was the Mexican cheese and carmelized onion.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Figs and Tea - Friday 8/29/2008

I told my friend Toronto that along with not having to deal with holiday weekend traffic, an advantage of working at home today is that I feasted on figs and tea.

Her response?: "Where are you, Casablanca?"

Now that would make the day perfect. My ceiling fan was made of painted white plywood rather than reeds and I opted for air conditioning against the heat.

But the figs, oh my dears, the figs. Perfection in a fruit. What more does one need? It's all I ate all day.

How is it that I was unaware of the fresh fig until I was 35 years old and my brother had a tree in his Echo Park yard?

A newton is nice, but it doesn't hold a candle to the real thing, this fruit that feeds wasps and reveals secrets rivaling the most sparkling geode.

Figs and Russian Samovar tea that my mother sent me in the mail from exotic northern Indiana. Today I had a happy palate.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Gifts and Grass - Thursday 8/28/2008

Dichotomy (one of the owners of the small company I work for) found this painted rock at a restaurant in Buellton, CA and very kindly made a gift of it to me.

The feather detail is really lovely. And the artist got the eyes right. A lot of times parrot art doesn't.

It's by our front door now. I would really like to give Dichotomy something that she would like as much. Her office is in Massachusetts, and we only see her a couple of times a year. She's always bringing us gifts from her travels.

I was talking to my fabulous mother on the cell phone when I got home from work. I sat down on the front porch, and wow! The pampas grasses have really taken off. The far one on the right must be 8 feet high and 8-10 feet in diameter!

The pampas grass is at its peak right now. The color and texture is just breathtaking. How glad am I to be home right now? (Mom, I was talking on the phone to you when I took these!)

Some other grasses.

I love grasses. Even weedy ones.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Finally Diner - Wednesday 8/27/2008

I'm soooo tired I didn't even notice how blurry this photo was.

Focus is on the reflection of the (silenced) TV screen on the surface of my coffee.

Finally got back to Andrew's to write. I can focus on the page okay, thank goodness.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Meet and Greet - Tuesday 8/28/2008

Refreshing beverages ala The Granville in Burbank. Second time there. I like this place a lot.

And tick off another successful meet-up with a friend made online. Three-C, who gave me lots of great pre-surgery advice via the Internet, was in town and she had scored tickets to see The Tonight Show!

We met up and went to the studio, which is only about a mile from my office. Stood in line and chatted for about an hour. Had seats way up on the side of the studio set but it was all right. We could still see almost everything.

Guests were Norm McDonald, who Hydra and I saw at the Improv maybe 20 years ago, Nastia Liukin, who brought along her Olympic medals (1 gold, 2 silver, 1 bronze) and B.B. King who really only has to be his B.B. Kingness, but who played a song with the Tonight Show band, much to the joy of the band and the audience.

Because we were up over stage right, we were close to the B.B. After the show, CCC (who's a huge fan of the Tonight Show band) and I were watching as B.B. met Nastia Liukin. He handed her the bright yellow guitar pick he'd just played with. Wow!

After all this excitement, we repaired to The Granville.

It's an interesting thing to meet someone in person who I've known somewhat online. Especially if they read the blog, because there's something about images that helps the words to stick, I think.

Because I never know who is reading regularly (unless you post comments, you darlings! I love 'em), it's always a little peculiar to have someone say, "Yeah, I remember that." And describe the accompanying photo.

Peculiar, but of course flattering.

We had a very interesting and varied conversation. Everything from family to work to feminism and the way that our lives and narratives tend to progress in spirals. The server was terrific about us sitting so long.

We only ordered the dessert sampler to keep the server happy. Of course.

Brulee'd Banana Brownie, Berry Patch Shortcake and Devil's Advocate Chocolate Cake.

And yes, there was real food in between the drinks and dessert.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Sauteed Green Tomatoes - Monday 8/25/2008

I wanted to try to do something with those green tomatoes from Sanchez Produce, but I didn't really want to do the fried thing.

I thought the sweetness of the onion and the mild butteryness of crook-neck squash would balance well with the somewhat tangy green tomato.

-Olive oil
-1 large onion (cook till translucent and a bit browned before adding other stuff)
-2 large crookneck squash
-4 small green tomatoes
-1 small red tomato
-fresh rosemary
-celery seed
-freshly ground pepper and salt

I cut the onion into about 1 inch square pieces. Wanted them to be more like a vegetable than a seasoning. I was only going to use rosemary and celery seed, but then as I stood over the pan and inhaled, I thought it was really asking for some sage.

The red tomato pretty much disintegrated, but helped carry the flavors.

After cooking the onions for about 10 minutes I added the other veggies for another 15 minutes or so, until they started looking cooked.

We liked this. I’m looking forward to having the leftovers with some grilled chicken strips for lunch tomorrow.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

This is Dedicated to the One I Love - Sunday 8/24/2008 (Part 2)

Yeah, you can boast about your significant others all you want. Hydra gets the prize!

To make what could be a very long story short, we stopped in Tehachapi for lunch on the drive home. We were pretty much ignored by the servers, so we got up and left. Prices were not great, menu was not exciting. We moved on.

Stopped a couple more places but nothing looked interesting. Ended up at Cafe 58 in Mojave (formerly Jerry's, where we've stopped for years.)

Got all the way to Palmdale, and as we were walking into Trader Joe's I realized that I might have left my notebook and my Waterman pen in that first restaurant, about 50 miles back. I got out my (admittedly lame) cell phone and found that someone had left a message about ten minutes (and fewer miles) after we left.

I was willing to take Hydra the last 12 miles home and go back for it myself. But he knew I was tired and said it would be almost fun if we did it together, and so without being grumpy about it in the least, we turned around and went back!

By the time we got back to Kelcy's, the server who had called was gone for the day. I left a note and $20.

The notebook offers a reward for return. (I've lost one and had one stolen and they still feel like holes.)

I figure that if she'd been there she might have declined the reward. But I also figure that she would at least want to have it offer and be able to decline. It seemed like much better karma to leave a little money along with a note in which I thanked her and told her I hoped she'd accept my token of gratitude with the same open heart with which it was given. (Also don't want to insult a person by implicitly implying that they wouldn't have done it without the reward.)

Hydra, on top of being a really good sport who is always supportive of my writing and other life choices, is a good photo scout. He wanted to make sure we had a shot of this, too.

Classic California.

When we finally pulled off the freeway 100 miles (what is it with that distance?) and 2 hours later than expected, I dialed my iPod to Bridge Over Troubled Waters and improvised these lyrics:

Like a bridge over troubled waters
I will drive around
Like a bridge over troubled waters
Till all your stuff is found

Hey. It's love. It doesn't have to be eloquent.

Bakersfield Morning - Sunday 8/24/2008 (Part 1)

We didn't speed out of Bakersfield in the morning. Enjoyed the included breakfast at the Residence Inn by Marriott where we spent the night. Cruised Barnes & Noble with some good coffee in hand, and then hit Great American Antiques. We spent a couple of hours looking around.

Hydra's interested in finding a better deal on a salt & pepper set something like this one, which his family had when he was a kid.

Having watched all those William Powell movies from the 1930s recently, I was particularly attracted to these stylish playing cards.

But I don't need any more in my house.

I would think this potty chair would scare off most kids!

Never let it be said that we left any of our resources undeveloped. There were several oil wells in the midst of the grape vines. They grow table grapes around here.

Who would stay in the Rank... Er RancHotel in Tehachapi?

I know it's supposed to be Ranchotel, but I swear to you it doesn't read like that.

My. That is personal storage.

The old and the new, east of Tehachapi.

I used to be a little conflicted about these things. They are huge. When we were in the midst of a field of them outside of Palm Springs years ago (Hydra was acting in a student film,) they were really disturbing.

Now I can see the beauty of them.