Sunday, November 30, 2008

My niece is in town this week from Ottawa, where she is
starting work on her PhD in January in microbiology.
Haven't seen her since last December. She's more of a
sister/daughter/friend than just a niece, and if I could
choose a daughter, it would be her. Nicole.


Seriously attempting to rev up some inspiration
for a Christmas card design. (Didn't do one last year --
I sent out wedding invitations instead.)
The clock is ticking and I should at least have a rough draft
sketched out, but all I have is a blank piece of paper.
Maybe that's it: a whiteout. A blizzard of sentiment.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

A sock to the gut: this past week both my sons
were laid off from their jobs. Both in the food
services industry. In fact, P. and I and my sister
and her husband were planning to eat dinner tonight
at the restaurant where R. was laid off this afternoon.
(A quick change of venue is in order.) Needless to
point out that this is very depressing. And I am
thankful for my half-time job!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Jell-O Disclaimer!

I certainly hope that there are no readers out there
who believe that I was serious for even a demi-second
about the Juicy Giblet Jell-O. It's a complete falsehood --
in fact, the recipe only exists on this blog. But if anyone
feels that he/she absolutely must give it a try, lets hope
that he/she keeps it to his/her-self.
I exist in the post-pie slug phase, the carb-hangover fog.
Cast adrift in the haze of dishes-still-to-wash,
the remnants of candles and crusts,
empty bottles of Louis Perdrier Brut Excellence.
(French Champagne for $8.99 at Whole Foods.)
(Yes, that's right: $8.99.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

I've done the requisite bird brining and I have to say,
wrestling that slippery fowl into a colossal ziploc bag
with salty-sweet water sloshing everywhere is quite a task.
And it's heavy.

Here's my favorite Thanksgiving recipe:

Juicy Giblet Jell-o

1 large package orange Jell-o
chicken bouillon cubes
cooked turkey giblets, chopped
1 small jar cocktail onions, drained
1 T. dehydrated parsley
1 cup Miracle Whip

Prepare Jell-o as indicated on box, adding bouillon cubes
to the hot water. Let jell slightly. Add giblets, cocktail onions
and parsley. Stir. Chill until set in decorative bowl.
Spread Miracle Whip over top.


Monday, November 24, 2008

At my job today: we had popcorn with butter and truffle salt.
About as perfect as it gets (in the land of popcorn, I mean).

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Pumpkin-Infused Vodka Experiment

About three weeks ago, I started my Thanksgiving cocktail
base: I roasted a small sugar pumpkin, then cut it up,
put it into a large canning jar, and added a fifth of vodka
(Stoli), a cinnamon stick, a split vanilla bean, a handful
of cloves and a nutmeg (about 2/3 pod, partially grated.)
Tonight I strained it twice -- once through a mesh strainer
to get out the chunks, then another time through cheesecloth
to remove the sediment. I tested it on Paul and our neighbor Pete --
not bad at all! And even better with a splash of cream....yum.
I don't really want to make a sweet cocktail but the concoction
seems to be leaning towards sugar & cream. Alas. (It would be
great on a rich vanilla ice cream.) I might have to break down
and make a simple syrup to shake up with some ice and a shot
of my gourdish brew. But what to call it? The Soused Pilgrim?
Happy Jack? Suggestions?!
We need some big wind to rustle up the last of the leaves
on the thirty-year-old Japanese maple out front. Nearly
everything is bare save this one last holdout, which seems
to refuse to let those leaves go. It's the first thing I check
outside each morning, my grounding element, my anchor.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dessert last night....thirty-one-year-old port
and a flourless chocolate tarte. Sublime.
Sustenance for the gods (and goddesses).

Thursday, November 20, 2008

To go with delivered pizza.

Awoke this morning craving wind, the cedars outside
my bedroom window barely rustling. And now a gloom
has settled upon the landscape, as if we're retreating
backwards into night -- an unwillingness to progress
into day. Now the cedars toss and swish their emerald
skirts in a furied twist, and rain deliberately lashes.
Can true cold be far behind? Once again I can breathe.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Today, M.C., who is nearly 13, went digging in the yard at work
in an attempt to find a box he buried some time ago because
it contains pesos and he heard that pesos have grown in value.
Inside the house, the kitten clawed at my hair and we ate
Caesar salad. At some point in the day we actually did some
work. A lot of work, actually. Worked until the skin on my hands
felt it had begun to let loose from the bones, fingernails tearing.
M.C. did not locate the box.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The absence of inspiration: in writing, art, cooking.
Is it the November death-of-things? The waning year?
Something, something that hovers at the far edges
of imagination. A nice glass of Tempranillo
surely helps. As does a generous slice of cake.
I think cake is the perfect food.

Monday, November 17, 2008

"Sunny optimism & know-nothing anti-intellectualism
are the twin handmaidens of pathological behavior."
--Zippy, by Bill Griffith

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Man Thinks He’s a Tree
--headline from a tabloid

At first it was just itchy flakes
on his legs. Thickening. Rough.
Lotions useless. No remedy.
His toes began to curl earthward.
Each step hunkered him, sagged him.
When the tips of his fingers flared
into florescence, and his tousely haircrop
flitted in the breeze, and a starling, and then another
and suddenly ten and then seventy, eighty starlings
all chittering and squawking, plucking ants
from his scalp -- well, then he began:

I used to think I was the class clown, or an uncle.
Once I thought I was smart, when I figured
the radius of my father’s head.
I never thought I was so swell to look at.
Once I thought I was Elvis, knew
I was a fool. I thought I was right

And now this -- I can set down roots.
I can doze all winter like a tuber, no apologies.
Even stand outside all day. Who cares?
Some days my xylem aches.
Fear the wind, my mother told me.
I fear saws and decay, acid rain.

When I was human I thought a tree
could live a thousand years. Now I know
a thousand years is too long.
We watched The Wizard of Oz last night, on a big screen
in the dark. Glinda's giant bubble was bubble-gum pink.
I don't remember it being so vibrantly-pink, but Paul said
that's probably because I watched TWOZ so many times
in b&w as a child. I paid close attention to the costumes,
and they are truly stunning. I want a job in The Emerald City
so I can wear a nipped & tucked & bibbed green dress.
Some of the green dresses look like elaborate nun's habits:
winged & whooshy. The Immaculate Order of Oz.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

This is not one of my pictures -- I received it in an e'mail
from my brother-in-law. I think it's amazing.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Even more beautiful in their decline....

Sitting here with a glass of nero d'avola/syrah blend,
waiting for Old Fashioned Meat Loaf to be done.
God I love Old Fashioned Meat Loaf. Comfort Plus.
(Whoa. Lots of CAPITAL LETTERS.) And I take back
that blog I wrote last September when I sang the praises
of my daily commute across the Lacey V. Murrow Floating
Bridge. Since we fell back, in time, as it were, and the rains
began, traffic has been %*$##@&. And then some.
But there's a log on the fire (in the fire? Flaming?)
and dinner is nearly done. Rain is heaving itself
on the skylights. We exist in a cocoon of light
and warmth.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Tuesday Soup

A little homemade chicken stock, some canned tomatoes,
corn, leftover potatoes, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, avocado,
a squeeze of fresh lime: supper.
Paul: "This is good. You really worked hard on it."
Me: "I did?"
Paul: "Yeah, you started it last night, worked on it this morning,
then finished it when you got home from work."
Oh. I guess I did, but I don't really consider it work.
It's as if he said, "Wow, T., you really worked hard breathing today."
And breathing is just something I do.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Sunday Night Truffles

From top to bottom:
Diablo Truffles
Espresso Truffles
Toasted Pecan Truffles

(Birthday present for a friend.)
(Kitchen therapy for me.)

We were lucky to happen upon a pair of herons yesterday
while walking along the Sammamish Slough. (Unfortunately,
it's name has been "prettified" to Sammamish River. No no no.
Slough = slow moving canal-like river. A slough's a slough.)
Anyway, the morning clouds parted for a few hours
and the late-afternoon sun set against that threat of rain
made for some brilliant contrasts in the light.

The herons were on the far bank of the slough, and as one prepared
to launch itself I started fumbling with my camera, and then
a dog darted down the bank in pursuit of the bird, and it
lifted off just as I untangled my fingers, and I managed to snap
the photo in my header.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Cafe Campagne

My new must-have food is Confit Duck Legs.
Had one last night at Cafe Campagne. (Not
Campagne, which is the more up-scale and $$$
restaurant upstairs from the cafe. I much prefer
the cafe -- it's more relaxed, and is a better value.)
In fact, when I was cruising restaurant menus online
looking for a place to go for my BD, I chose CC on the
basis of the duck on the menu. And, well, it's French.
No way to go wrong there.

So......these tasty little morsels are made by seasoning
the duck legs with lot of S & P, maybe some herbs,
then letting them sit for 24 hrs. in the refrigerator.
Then they are fried in duck fat. Oh god oh yum oh yeah.
At Cafe Campagne you get a duck leg & thigh, with thyme-
roasted potatoes. Not exactly ideal from a diet-perspective,
but for a BD treat they are Exactly Perfect.

But back to the restaurant:
on Post Alley & Pine in Seattle, the cafe has a bit of a cellar-
feel to it, but in the golden lamplight of a rainy November
night, it was snug and cozy. We sat next to the bar, not far
from the door, so there was a constant in-and-out bustle
of patrons and wait staff. There are corners to tuck into
if one desires a more intimate dining experience, but I'm
always pleased as punch when I feel like I'm in the middle
of the action. My meal started with a Pate de Campagne, which
was really a terrine -- a kind of rich French meatloaf --
a very generous serving on bed of dressed greens, with pickled
red onion, Nicoise olives, cornichons and two kinds of mustard
as garnish. Practically a meal in itself! This was followed
by a salad of roasted beets, bibb lettuce, roquefort and whole hazelnuts
with a simple vinaigrette. At this point, I probably should've
cancelled my entree -- I was stuffed! But being that it was the
duck, I just couldn't. No way! No how! And it was dee-vine.
The kind of deep-down, I-can-feel-this-in-my-bones and I-
want-to-fall-to-my-knees-and-weep kind of flavor.
Luckily there exist take-home containers, so today's succulent
lunch awaits me in the fridge. Besides, I had to save room
for dessert! I chose the sublime pumpkin creme brulee,
which should've been named Spiced Edible Velvet.

The wine selection here is equally pleasing, with 25 wines
offered by the glass, with additional aperitif and dessert wines
to choose from, plus a full bar. Our waitress suggested
a French Chenin Blanc to accompany my duck,
and the pairing was perfect: soft with understated fruits --
an ideal contrast to the dark, almost cinamonny richness
of the confit.

When Paul and I eat out, we love to listen-in to bits of conversation
from nearby tables. (Okay. We love to eavesdrop.) The young
couple on one side of us sat down, ordered, and ate
while the woman glared at her date. She didn't touch
her food. The only thing I heard him say was,"It's French."
They were in-and-out before we even had our entree.
No fun there! On the other side of us, a napkin in the
bread basket caught fire on the candle. Ooooh! Excitement!
Actually, it was immediately doused, but an acrid burning
smell permeated the air, which sent me into a sneezing fit.
And then, another diner stepped into the room we were in
from an adjoining room to answer his phone, which he had
put on speaker, which he repeatedly yelled into. Paul complained,
the bartender intervened, peace was restored.

The service was efficient and elegant. Named one of the best
restaurants in American by The Wine Spectator, Cafe Campagne
is worth your appetite, and your dollars. Again and again.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Wizard of Oz....

....illustrated by Graham Rawle: spooky, quirky, fabulous!

A gift from Paul. He wasn't sure if I'd like the artwork,
and I LOVE it. The L. Frank Baum Oz series is one of
my favorites works of fiction -- children's or otherwise.
When the boys were young (well, they're still young,
but you know what I mean) I read them all fifteen +
books. I didn't read these books as a child, so they were new
to all three of us. They are fantastical, political, witty,
entertaining, funny, touching. One Halloween I sewed
R. a scarecrow costume, and another year we built
a Jack Pumpkinhead and the boys brought it
to school for show-and-tell. (Many of their classmates
were a bit baffled by this life-sized wooden creature with
a paper-mache pumpkin-head making an appearance
in their classroom. ) One of my favorite scenes occurs in,
I believe, The Land of Oz, where Dorothy & Co. wander into
a village where everything is made out of bread products,
and Toto is hungry and eats a child. Ouch!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Coming down, calming down.
But back to earth? Never.

First Thursday tonight on the arms of my two
beautiful young men, R. and N., pummeled by rain.
The main attraction for us was the Helen O'Toole show
at Linda Hodges Gallery. Check it out!

We popped into Davidson, then Grover Thurston,
before heading up the hill to Lark for a pre-birthday
dinner. (Well, "pre" by just a few hours.)
Lark is small plates: farro, yellowfin, endive, rillettes,
honeycomb, hazelnuts, delicata....this list could go on forever.
The best part was that R. treated. And of course,
post-election glee was still in the air, albeit somewhat worn out.
(As I am.)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

At the Polls

Pen in hand, I paused for a moment
before darkening that tiny spot on the page
that said Obama-Biden. I took a moment
to just breathe in the moment, to be aware
of what I was doing, what 64,239,510 (CNN)
other people were also doing: taking back
our country.

Nearly every year of my life (well, not so much
lately), on Christmas morning I check the back yard
for a pony: a red bow tied on its halter, warm breath
steaming in the December chill. Well, last night
was better than a hundred Christmas mornings,
and I think I can finally give up that little equine
dream, because what happened yesterday
was probably the best gift I could ever hope for.

Thank-you, hallelujah, and amen.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

We listened to this after Barack's acceptance speech --
loud and booming (some of us sang along)!
Patty Griffin singing Up to the Mountain:

Monday, November 3, 2008

Cooking dinner for, oh, maybe ten on Tuesday,
a little election night soiree, and the prep is well
underway. Paul suggested the menu be foods from
Kenya, Kansas and Kuaui, but the triple K's are just too scary!
I opted for Indian, and there is Chicken Tikka
marinating in the refrigerator. Some paneer
is cooling and draining on the counter, and an
apple-walnut cake is rising in the oven.
(I think that soon we're all going to rise up
and sing Hallelujah!)
Tomorrow I'll make Tarka Dhal, basmati rice
and a yogurt-cabbage slaw with cashews, honey & grapes.
(This comes after cardio at the gym, voting [lines?]
and a 5-hour shift at work.) (Sometimes it feels as if
I were any less busy I'd fall off an edge. Any edge.)
Check out this video on Peter's blog -- it made me chuckle
and helped soothe my E-Day-Minus-One election anxiety.

And for a startling and disturbing look inside an inner city
public health clinic click here.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

When SP (and jMc) lose the election, it's possible
that she'll turn to street drugs to alleviate the anguish.
Then she can have four more kids and name them
Crank, Meth, Weed and Smack.

Come to Jesus Sunday

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Are we all just waiting for the election?
Are we holding our breath, holding our water,
awaiting the diagnosis, our sentencing?
Will we rise up and dance in the streets
and kiss our neighbors and tipple champagne
and fermented cider and single-malt Scotch
and cry out in joy and redemption?
Yes. We will.


We went to a wedding reception tonight
where there was a one-armed man (the groom)
and a one-eyed woman (not the bride).
At Januik Winery, in Woodinville.
I found myself critiquing and analyzing every morsel of food:
the roasted asparagus not roasted enough; ditto for the roasted
root vegetables. The risotto was fab, as was the bacon-wrapped pork.
(Imagine that: pork cooked in pork, with pork drippings. )
One of the starters was supposedly a pumpkin soup with a touch
of maple syrup, but it tasted suspiciously like Campbell's Cream of Celery
Soup. (No pumpkin. At all. Suspiciously green.)
The wine flowed and flowed: Sangiovese, Roussanne,
Syrah, Chardonnary (crisp, light on the oak).
A pair of Irish step dancers, an Irish piper.

So enough of this festive hoo ha. It's time for bed.
Fall Back

It’s returned, that hour lost last April,
slipped in at 2am while a half-moon gleamed
in the pine. Hovered while I slept,

unclaimed angel, tick-tock.
But I don’t desire to use it yet —
I want to be selfish, I want to hoard.

I want to tear it into ten-minute bits,
fold one into my wallet for the late appointment,
one in the vegetable bin when lolla rosa

need last until supper. Under my pillow
to extend the dream, in the oven to slow
Quick Yellow Cake. I’ll give one to my son

to get out of jail free. And one
I’ll bury in the garden in eternal plastic,
mark an X with apples. Maybe

I’ll forget it’s there. And just maybe,
in the next century someone will unearth
a ten-minute treasure, spend it lavishly.