Monday, December 31, 2007

Hair Chicken

Last night, we invited one of Henry's friends, just back from college, to join us for supper and a play (Black Comedy, entertaining and fun). Naturally one of the first questions was "So how is your roommate?"

Did you know there are people who measure their hair as a hobby? And then blog about it? Who knew? Interesting person, although perhaps one with not much in common with her roommates.

Almost as odd as people who blog daily about what they eat, I suppose.

We had grilled (another perfect BBQ night, according to John) chicken marinated in rum and lime juice, the usual immoderate vat of brown Basmati rice, snow peas and carrots, salad, pears, apples and kiwis. Oxford Landing cab.

I Googled measuring hair, and sure enough. There seems to be quite a community of hair measurers.
Way more food bloggers though.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Duck soup!

We have had a helluva two weeks - 100-year old grandmother passing away, Natalie cold/cough/fever and just in - pink eye! At one point we went straight from the cemetary to the urgent care clinic, now that's fun! Anyone want to come for a late night shift? I hate to admit it but we've had both In-n-Out and McDonalds in the past few days.

Yesterday we went to the Chinese grocery store to stock up on some supplies like hoisin sauce, bean sauce, fresh noodles and vegetables. Based on how much you spend there, the grocery store gives you coupons for their deli section. In that section, they have roast duck, roast chicken, bbq pork, and bunch of other foods that you'd have to see to believe. We picked up half a roast duck.

For dinner, we had some egg noodles in duck broth with mung beans and the Chinese variation of romaine lettuce. It was some of the tastiest roast duck ever. Or maybe it's just that there is no comparison between a McDonald's Big Mac and roast duck. Achoo!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Alaska, Oy Vey! Oy Vey!

Well, I had to say something in response to my daughter so far from home.

Last night we had baked chicken for dinner. I like baked chicken, it's a procedure that my mother stole from a friend of hers and it's pretty easy. All you do is roll the pieces in flour, dip in beaten eggs, milk and buttermilk and then roll in bread crumbs (oh, wait I forgot the step when you go to the pantry and slap yourself on the forehead and say "Oh shit!" because there are no bread crumbs) seasoned with basil, oregano and parsley. Then you bake at 350 until it's done. About a half an hour or two glasses of wine later. I heated up the last of the kasha and steamed some broccoli and tossed a salad.

My version is not quite as good as Nancy's fried chicken but it is crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside.


Kasha, man do I love kasha. Technically it is usually called bulgur but it is something that Aunt Ruth (alev shalom) used to make, or maybe Alice the maid made it, and I always loved it. I think that this is where I first had the dish where it is mixed with bow tie noodles that I have mentioned many weeks ago. Two carbohydrates in one dish? You betcha tiger!

The other good thing about it is that it is pretty idiot proof. I add onions, celery and garlic to my kasha. Usually I add mushrooms but we had a guest that does not eat mushrooms so I left them out. If any of you in the "lower 48" are reading this remember to send us a box and many thanks to Cousin Martha for sending this box.


I am glad that my daughter is carrying on the family tradition of checking wine lists while on the road. Way to go Bird! I will make sure the folks at Vineyard Brands sit up and take notice.


Nancy is correct that I am not as wildly enthusiastic about squash as she is but I did like the soup she made the other night. A hot bowl of soup in this weather is always welcome. I rarely make soup any more. After having made roughly 10-15 gallons every other day for eight years cured me of that. Occasionally I will make Minestrone because it's another excuse to eat pasta and if I clean out the freezer and find little scraps of fish I will make Chowder. Henry likes chowder and once a year I can stand.


Nancy is also correct that I tend to be a bit of a curmudgeon about Christmas and I am sorry. The Prime Rib "incident" that she is referring to happened about eight years ago. I cooked a Prime Rib up at Nancy's mom's house in Haines for Christmas. It was perfectly cooked when I took it out of the over but due to some combination of fatigue and wine my carving job was a joke. It looked like I had gone at it with a screwdriver. I still don't know how it happened but I learned my lesson and it has not happened since.

I also like having leftover Prime Rib bones for lunch the day after Christmas.


I am glad to see a contribution on the blog from our friends Candy and Dick. Candy, we note, did not laugh when I asked her for help on a Christmas present for Nancy that I did get organized to execute. She could have laughed because she made the Christmas gift that Nancy gave me, although I think that secretly Nancy wanted it also. It is a hand made Adarondack bench that has a painted salmon as a back rest. It's way cool.

So what did you make with all of those lemons and lime?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Alaska, mon dieu

Wonderful things are being eaten in the wonderful land of Palma de Mallorca, which is as close to paradise as I think you can get. With the exception of the hoards of germans that have discovered the island and are now quietly taking over. James was tickled that we found a real estate company called Engel and Volkers.

The hostel is fabulous, equipped with a roof-top terrace and cafe-con-leches. Every morning as we take our breakfast on the terrace, there is a cute old french couple enjoying the sun and having some fruit for breakfast as well. They also bring up their radio and play classical music, which makes for an enjoyable atmosphere. One day, after noticing that james had wiped the condensation off of the table top with his hand, the french man started talking to us. After a few pleasantries, he inquired as to where we were from. We replied "alaska" and he cried "ALASKA! Mon dieu! Mon dieu!" and then went wandering around the terrace muttering "Alaska! Mon dieu, mon dieu." It was very cute.

But the food. The food is great. Our first night here, tired and bitter from missing trains and having to fork over a lot of euros, James and I stumbled into the only restaurant still serving. And a good thing nothing else was open, because it was probably one of the best meals I've ever had! We both got lamb ribs that were rubbed with apricots (perhaps apricot chutney? James says) and stuffed with rosemary. THEN there was the potato/olive/garlic puree which made both of us giddy with happiness. Needless to say, we were very happy to have finally arrived in Palma and we could put our bags down for a few days while we enjoyed sunshine and good food. Tapas anyone?

Also, my father will be pleased to know that thus far I have only been in perhaps one restaurant that did not serve Marqes de Caceres. (sp?)

Butternut Squash, still not a family fave

Personally, I like the orange winter squashes: Acorn, Butternut, Delicata, all those. I don't think my family shares my enthusiasm. At one point, when Ren was still in a high chair, and I served a puree of butternut squash, she poked at it a bit, and then stood up in her chair to announce that she knew what to do with it: "You know that thing in the sink that goes 'rrr rrr rrr' and the food goes away?"
So the other night I made a puree of butternut squash soup with candied spiced nuts as a garnish, accompanied by a spinach salad with hot beet chips, roasted onions, and goat cheese with a faint balsamic dressing, and cheese grits from the wonderful bag of grits we received as a gift for Christmas.

I liked it. Had it all for lunch the next day too.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Holiday Meals

We don't have too many "traditions" connected with the Christmas holiday, in fact I think if it was up to John, and perhaps the children, we'd just sit in our chairs and read and let the day go by unmarked, but once upon a time, a long time ago, for Christmas Eve we adopted the menu John's mom would serve then: Spaghetti. It's easy, fast, can be made to feed lots of folks or few, and everyone likes it.

So Christmas Eve: Invite old friends, the families we raised our kids together with, the kids home from college mostly and so good to see them growing into such wonderful adults, one just passed her CPA exams! and invite Uncle Thad and Aunt Lynn who always fly away on Christmas Day. John made the spaghetti, someone brought garlic bread, there was a yummy baby Romaine salad with dried cranberries or cherries and nuts, a melty bread pudding studded with raisins and dressed with rum sauce, and a cheesecake. J sparkling wine, Belgium and Alaskan beers, some red wines, and the conversations about 'how are you liking school' and so nice to see this group we've known since the Fiddlehead days and before, and been through barenaked kids on the beach picnics, carpools, and school plays, and and don't often get altogether with anymore, but the folks it is just OK to be ourselves with without apology.

Christmas Day was a low key event, we invited some friends who often invite us to their home for holidays, their children also home for the break. John took over the kitchen again, preparing a beautiful prime rib roast (perfectly carved: one of these days he'll live down the odd carving project he turned a Christmas Roast into one year) cauliflower au gratin, tossed green salad, kasha, fruit, and for dessert a wonderful chocolate torte. Los Cardos Malbec. We talked into the evening about traveling in Ecuador, living abroad, life in the Coast Guard, books, and more.

Merry Christmas to you all.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Christmas in Portland with the kids.  We've not been away from Juneau for Christmas since the kids were little!  Both of them with jobs that required them to be there both the day before and the day after, it made much more sense for us to travel to them.

We'll be making Christmas dinner here in the condo, with a kitchen more sparsely equipped than mine, it might just be more of a challenge!  Last night for Christmas Eve, we went to Saltys on the Columbia.   It's such a pleasure to go to dinner with your kids as new adults!  We were seated in a quiet corner, which we promptly made not so quiet.   We had one of the best servers we have had in some time.  Selected Celeilia Beretta 2001 Amarone Della Valpolicella, a new favorite.  Ironically Amanda at 20, is probably the most knowlegeable about wine having just graduated from Western Culinary here in Portland and having served her externship at a winery.  A sly taste pronounced it "velvety" and "tasting of chocolate".  It was wonderful. 

Mac wanted mussel shooters to start, which luckily they didn't have, but they did have great oyster shooters instead.  We had to have the "Chilled Seafood Tower", king and dungies, more oysters, grilled prawns, and marinated mussels and clams as a starter.  Candy and Amanda had Spinach & Feta Ravioli, made with Crimini mushrooms, Kalamata olives, sweet onions, and tomato bisque.  Mac chose fresh Maine lobster, no wonder when Mom and Dad are paying!  I chose the Pan Seared Diver Scallops with creamy polenta, sauce puttanesca, served on the side as recommended by our server, and fried leeks.   Great conversation and time spent with the kids.  Miss the days of when they were little, but very happy the days of adulthood are here.

So now Christmas dinner is in the works and I (candy here) find that I wasn't too thorough in my examination of the contents of the kitchen!  I've got lots of limes, lemons, 3 apples, 2 cups of flour to figure out something to make for desert - we'll see!  In the mean time we bought a beautiful prime rib at a butcher shop down the road and some nice asparagus.  Interesting to cook in a kitchen not your own and a pantry/refrigerator stocked the same way...

We did buy a nice champagne and wine for dinner, so perhaps no one will notice the odd
desert I might come up with!

Merry Christmas everyone, Candy and Dick

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Roast Everything

Bottom Round, studded with garlic cloves and rubbed with black pepper, Worcestershire Sauce, and soy sauce, surrounded by red potatoes lightly brushed with olive oil, salt & pepper, and in another casserole: fresh baby carrots of the most delicious sort and sweet onions, also with a dollop of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast it all at 375, and serve up with beet greens, a cucumber and tomato salad, and fresh deep red crispy apples. Dry Creek heritage zin.
I think the boy liked it. He wanted "something with meat in it." and "something for lunch, there's nothing to eat for lunch". Should make good RB sandwiches.

Best ever board meeting

We whizzed through the Arts Council board meeting agenda on Tuesday in record time, and then retired to the Gallery for a holiday celebration. Voted "Best Board Meeting" by several.

Baked Jerry's Meats ham glazed with brown sugar, mustard and dry sherry (we always soak our ham overnight in water to extract lots of the salt.), Winter Salad from the Silver Palate, a squash and leek dish, cheese grits, zucchini dish, tossed salad, bread, and a palette of wines. oddly, no dessert!

I'd like to make a motion that there always be something yummy baking in the oven during a board meeting!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Pork and Pinecones

A long time ago, John went away to work for some very talented chefs (who now live in Talent OR in fact) in Boonville CA. He came home with a recipe for perfect pork chops and a perfect salad.
So you take soy sauce, minced fresh ginger, 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro ( you can use other fresh herbs, but this is one of the highest and best uses of cilantro), mix together and marinate the pork chops in that for 1-4 hours, in the frig. While you get the BBQ going. Another perfect BBQ night: Crystal clear, light seasonal dusting a sparkly snow. When the coals are ready and the folks have nearly gathered, you grill 'em.

While you do that, clean and cut up a big bowl of romaine. Sprinkle liberally with balsamic vinegar or lemon juice, salt and pepper, and toss all that together. sprinkle with some good chevre. We found cute little "pillow" of chevre at the good cheese shop.
Then in the excess in moderation vein, heat up a generous bit of olive oil in a pan, and sauté 4 slices of bacon which you have chopped into 1/2 inch pieces. oo la la. Wehn the bacon is crispy but not completely done, add chopped walnuts, and some minced fresh garlic. When all hot, alert the folks to get to the table, pour the hot oils all over the salad, hopefully hearing a cheerful sizzling as it hits the chevre, and carefully, using your clean hands, toss until the chevre is dispersed throughout the salad. Pull the pork off the grill, and serve it all up with fresh bread, some steamed green beans, and oven roasted potatoes.

Splendid news: One of the couples (the guests of honor, visitors from the East) announce they have become affianced! A toast! There's Ringbolt Cab, Vitiano Cab-Merlot-Sangiovese, Sokol Blosser Meditrina, and not one but TWO unoaked Chardonnays, one from Villa Maria, the other from Yalumba. (Following careful taste comparisons, think I like the Yalumba best, but who's going to get picky? We might have to try again to be sure.) So nice to have such happy tidings.

Dessert: Cuzzin Martha's Lemon Bars (thumbs up), some wonderful chocolate snowball cookies and peppermint bark sent by friends, and little mandarin oranges from Japan, and conversation that turned to Christmas trees, which revealed an unusual phobia: A dread of pinecones! The best the rest of us could come up with was a fear of heights. Like who doesn't have a fear of heights? But pinecones! How unique, how interesting! How worrisome at holiday time! Luckily, our tree has no pinecones, and now has a lovely origami crane carefully folded from the perfectly square papers that wrap the little oranges.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Clams, clams, clams, clams

The above is sung to the "Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam" Monty Python tune. I am so delighted that my kids like clams, although my husband doesn't, so it's a "when dad's out of town meal." I've had em fancied up at local restaurants, but like mine better. Saute a handful of chopped shallots and some garlic in olive oil and butter, add a splash of white wine and a squeeze of lemon, dump in the cleaned clams and steam until they're juicy and delicious. Serve with a side of pasta, tossed with more olive oil, parmesan, salt and pepper, with lots of clam juice poured over the top. Steamed broccoli with more fresh squeezed lemon on top, Sauv. blanc for me and lait blanc for the kids. I never seem to buy enough clams, Duncan could easily go through 2 pounds in one sitting. And he likes shrimp eggs, a real Alaska kid.

Cajun Boil

Nothing like fresh Alaska Prawns, in a Cajun boil , 4 dozen prawns,2 tsp (we feel 1/2 tsp-3/4) cayenne pepper, 2 tsp fresh ground black pepper, 1 tsp sea salt, 1 tsp crushed red pepper, 1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp rosemary, 1/4 tsp oregano, 1/2 lb butter, 3 tsp minced garlic, 2 tsp worcestershire sauce, 1 cup fish or shrimp stock, 1/2 cup beer @ room temp.  Combine 1/2 butter, garlic, worcestershire sauce and seasonings in large skillet over high heat.  When butter is melted, add shrimp, cook 2 minutes, add remaining butter and stock, cook and shake 2 minutes, add beer, cook one minute more.  Serve with slices of fresh bread to dip in the juice, and ice cold Summer Ale, have lots of towels for wiping hands and your mouth.

Cajun Boil

Friday, December 14, 2007

Eggplant Parm

Received a beautiful eggplant in "the box", and John had a dreaded Rotary Board meeting, so I was on dinner: Thinly sliced the eggplant, salted and drained it for a bit, while making the sauce.
Sauce: Saute some onions and garlic, add crushed tomatoes, a sprinkle of red chili flakes, and the rest of last night's red wine.
Turn the oven on broil, rinse and dry the eggplant. Pour some oil in a baking sheet, dip the eggplant in the oil on both sides, lightly salt. Broil each side until lightly browned.
Grate up equal portions of mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
Lightly oil a baking dish:
layer of eggplant, sauce, cheese.
Repeat three times.
bake until your husband comes home from Rotary.
Serve with a tossed green salad and fruit.
The conversation wandered from the traditional Rotary rants to decision to move to Italy, and if so where.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Fried Rice

Large vat of leftover rice pilaf
1 chicken breast
a couple of baby bok choy still to eat and the new box due tomorrow, slice it up thin
1/2 a large onion, thinly sliced
celery, see note above re bok choy
2 eggs.

The ingredients for simple, fast, tasty dinner, one of two that we used to have regularly when the kids were little and evenings were short: Fried Rice.

Slice up the chicken and marinate with a teaspoon of light soy, rice wine, sesame oil, cornstarch.

Whip up the eggs with a bit of sesame oil.

heat the wok up to really hot, add a bit of peanut oil until smoking and add the chicken, stirring until all opaque. Remove, add a bit more oil, and add the eggs, stirring. Remove them when set and add to the chicken. Put the veggies in the wok, and stir until beginning to wilt, the add the rice, well not the whole vat, but enough for two of you, and stir fry this with the veggies. If really dry add some rice wine. Add the chicken and juices in and stir fry another couple on minutes until the chicken is all cooked through.

Serve with a tossed salad, some fruit, and Yalumba unoaked Chardonnay.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Sunday night dinner

Yesterday, Sunday, was a tidge cold and damp for "the OC, and we had been to parties on Friday and Saturday, so I decided it was time for some comfort food. Also, in my decision making/menu planning was the fact that Chanukah was coming to an end on Tuesday and we had "obligations" tonight and tomorrow ( obligation is defined as a business-associated party that starts at 6 pm in the Pacific Palisades....this is about 40 miles from us,but should roughly take us 3 hours in rush hour in the carpool lane!...but, I'm sure it will be fun!) So, back to dinner...
Chuck loves meat loaf. I make it with ground turkey, sauteed mushrooms,onions and celery,and garlic,pepper, ketchup and a variety of mustards mixed in...sometimes, I add some oatmeal which my Mom used to do and I'm not really sure why...keep it moist perhaps. I like theme food! So,I shaped the meatloaf into a menorah-shape and sauteed some red,yellow and orange pepper strips for candles. I made latkes for an unprecedented 2nd time during the same Holiday and "nuked" some sweet peas. We had Honey Moon Voigner, which is "dang" good, and played a Tom Lehrer CD which included "Chanukah in Santa Monica".
Stay tuned for my Valentine's Day dinner which has always been my personal "fav" in the food theme department, but I am loving this meat loaf menorah!


We had burgers last night for dinner. It'd been a really busy weekend and while we were desperate to eat dinner, neither of us had the energy to made anything too complex.

I had just been to Whole Foods with Natalie to pick up a few things. Namely, baby food for her! She'll soon get a mention on this blog as she starts eating. So far, it's only been rice cereal but we have exciting foods in store this week - sweet potatoes, carrots and peas!

I took a pound of ground beef and mixed in an egg, some powdered garlic, onion and salt and pepper. I know the Alaskan DeCherney's are vehemently opposed to powdered anything but I have to make a case for convenience. And at least we don't use it all the time - we typically chop up and add in the real thing - just not last night. I formed the meat into patties and cooked them in pan.

I also saw some really yummy looking brioche buns at the store. I warmed them up in the oven. Sliced some sort of goat cheese gouda. And took the spinach salad out of the to-go box and mixed it up with balsamic dressing.

Dinner turned out to be a bit of an upscale burger. I like to imagine that if it were on a restaurant menu, it would be described fancy pants as Cheeseburger on a Brioche bun. Anyways, the burger was tender but the buns were way too big for the patties.

We ate dinner on the couch while catching up on our Gilmore Girls reruns and watching the baby monitor.

Bubbling over

Sunday afternoon just lends itself well to Champagne somehow. Following the (delightful) Bach Society concert (the Mozart was especially lovely) we had our usual crowd of sparkling wine-drinkers and a few others over for a potluck. John made Greek Chicken with tons of garlic and oregano, and he made some apple sauce to go with the latkes which I made. Someone brought red beans and rice, there was a fabulous salad of spinach, feta, dried fruits, and balsamic vinegar, a wonderful holiday salad of carrots and peppers, a big bowl of bean dip and chips, some date bread, a quiche, oh and an inexplicably enormous pot of rice pilaf, in case an army came through I think, some chocolates and dried cranberries, and a completely decadent chocolate torte (see the cartoon in the headlines to the right). All washed down with Gruet (a delicious sparking wine from New Mexico), Scharffenberger, Gloria Ferrer, Nicolas Feuillatte, and I think I am missing one, but you get the idea.

We gave gifts to the Glacier Valley Arts program, which is raising funds to take their students back to perform at the Kennedy Center and the Smithsonian in honor of their receiving an award for their impressive integration of the arts into the whole school curriculum, also to Hospice, and to the Glory Hole. The holidays are a wonderful time.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Pizza out

Last night we went out for pizza, to the Island Pub, where the little 12 year old jazz singer was performing. Build your own pizza: marinara, spinach, roasted garlic, grilled onions, mushrooms, cheese. John had IPA, I had Pinot Grigio and J Lohr Cab. Good music. A little disconcerting that in the other half of the room folks were hooting and hollering over a boxing match and on the TV in the bar you could see a wrestling match. I'm sorry, but watching wrestling is not appetizing. But we had a nice evening out, and the mini handled well on its first adventure out in sloppy snow. Better than some big honking pickups we saw spinning out.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Angel Hair

Got home at 11:30 last night after a long day (Gallery Walk is a BIG DEAL in Juneau, and we followed it with a "Rent Party" to help us make the rent for the new Arts & Culture Center: We did make goal of $1000, which certainly helps). John was rhapsodizing with Hunter in Ketchikan about hot fudge sundaes over lovely bottles of wine as noted in the comments posted earlier, so I was on my own to forage for dinner. (No that was the other night. Last night he was in Sitka, doing a winetasting!)

Had to be simple, fast, and comforting. Luckily, we had cream. Angel Hair takes 2 minutes to cook. In the meantime, melt butter with garlic and green onion, microwave some of those swell little French green beans, microplane a big pile of Parmesan. Add cream to the garlic butter, hike up the heat to reduce it, drain the pasta but not completely, and stir it into the cream. Toss in the cheese. Pleasantly arrange the haricots verte sur the plate, and dish up the pasta. Top with a decoratively flavorful grinding of fresh pepper, and light the candle.

Dang. Not a drop of wine in the house! Not a single drop!

Oh well, counted the money from the evening, went to bed and slept well.

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Most Perfect Single Dish in Food History According to JD

John was in Ketchikan on Wednesday and stopped at the house to help me out with a bottle of Montez Folly, '04. Verra nice and the artwork by Stedman on the label is okay, too.
Anyway, during the course of a wide-ranging conversation, he dropped the fact that his all time favorite single food dish is a hot fudge sundae with chopped nuts.
Por que? you may ask. Textures: crunchy to soft. Taste: Salty to sweet. Vision: Bright. Temperature: cold and hot.
Now I cannot get the thought of one out of my head, and there really is not a good ice cream parlor here. Oh, well, I guess that I'll just have to stock up on fixin's.

Popeye Burgers

John did up some very excellent burgers last night, in honor of all you folks in France not having burgers: Big juicy ground round perfectly medium rare patties, topped with spinach sautéed with lots of garlic and olive oil, and I think that was mozzarella cheese oozing over the top, with a side of sautéed mushrooms just for me. Dressed with Duke's Mayo and Plochman's ground mustard, some dill pickles, and red onions, tomatoes. Tossed salad with fresh herbs (John was unhappy about the dill) and superb apples and kiwi. Popeye Burgers were a big fave back in the day at the Fiddlehead, and they are still totally yummy. Went well with the Lindemans Shiraz.

No yams though.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Home alone with mushrooms

We have a wonderful cookbook called The Cuisine of the Sun by Mirielle Johnston, which has several really delicious French recipes from Nice and Provence in it (excellent marinated salad recipes, including a good non-mayo potato salad).

One of the recipes we've used over the years may fall in the 5 minutes in the kitchen category, sort of: Tian de Boeuf aux Légumes - Baked Beef with Onions, Mushrooms, and Garlic. A wonderful redux for leftover roast beef.

Yesterday, or the day before, make too much roast beef or rib eye steak.
Turn the oven on 375.
Then, slice up 1/2 pound of mushrooms - or maybe 2-3 ounces of mushrooms/person.
Mince 1 garlic clove/person.
The recipe calls for green onions, 1/person, but I didn't have that and substituted some leeks.
1 tablespoon of bread crumbs/person
1 tablespoon of chopped parsley - I didn't have fresh, so used a teaspoon of dried/person.
Salt & pepper.
Put all this together in a bowl.
Oil the bottom of a baking dish, and put 1/2 of the vegetable mix in.
Then sliced up the leftover meat, or cut into chunks, and arrange it over the veggies. Put the rest of the veggies on top.
Drizzle some wine (maybe 1/4 cup/person) over the top and a bit of olive oil. Maybe a teaspoon.
Bake for 30 minutes.

While that is cooking, clean some lettuce, make a salad. Slice up some kiwi fruit.
Clean the little radishes that came in "the box" reserving the tops that are in good shape. Wash them pretty well, they are kind of gritty.

Just before the Tian is ready, melt butter in a small sauté pan, add a little garlic, then the little radishes. Sauté just 30 seconds, then put in a little water, about 1/2 way up the little radish bodies. Add the radish greens. Cook about 2-3 minutes. Take them out, and then turn up the heat, add a little lump of butter and reduce the cooking liquid to a nice saucy texture and pour it over the radishes.

Serve the meal with Lindeman's Shiraz and life is good. Worth making extra potroast for for sure!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Chanukah in "Santa Monica" aka anywhere,USA

It's actually the second night of Chanukah but I was out all day yesterday and wasn't in the mood to cook, but tonight's fare is Potato Latkes(pancakes). I just taste tested 1 because Chuck isn't home yet... and they are GOOD. You really can't go too wrong with frying potatoes.
At some point, we will be visiting Ali,Shaz and Baby Natalie and when we do, I'll make them again and we'll invite Henry for perhaps his first contiguous Chanukah.
I like mine with applesauce and Chuck was brought up with eating them with sour cream. I anticipate this topic of accompaniment will comprise our conversation. A prayer over the menorah candle lighting and a tidge of Manischewitz with a prayer and we're good to go.
I just ordered one of my presents today so I will show Chuck a picture what he got me, and he will open his second gift, Hugh Johnson's 2008 Pocket Wine Book. His present last night was a new golf club.
Happy Chanukah to all, and a good evening!

trying to post a great holiday cookie site

Hi all,

I received a great e-mail with at least a hundred cookie recipes...all you had to do was click on the cookie name and up came the recipe...I thought it would be useful this time of year...
let's see if it works

All mistakes and or broken pieces or rejects for any reason can be sent to Newport Beach, or just consumed in my name!


Warmth for the cold

Another Robert Service sort of day ("There are strange things done under the Midnight Sun by the men who moil for gold....Talk of your cold! through the parka's fold it stabbed like a driven nail."), and John called to ask me to pick up "the box" because he was going home to put on a pot roast.

Now he and I have different approaches to pot roast, as the kids will tell you, but last night's filled the house with a warm aroma, was tender, juicy, delicious, with baby carrots, buttered noodles, a tossed salad, and a Biblical apple. This is the way God meant apples to be, and why Eve was tempted by an apple and not, say, raspberries. Some CMS red. The right meal for the day.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Not really rosti or raclette...

What to eat when spouse and kid #1 aren't home, and kid #2 is sick and only wants canned chicken noodle soup? I firmly believe this is fondue, as well as raclette weather, but since I didn't have all the necessary implements or ingredients, I tossed potato chunks with olive oil, salt and pepper, roasted them, then broiled with grated Gruyere, accompanied by salad with garlic vinaigrette, apple slices and Sauvignon Blanc. Long day at work, whew. Greg's in Cordova for the week, but is happy because the cabin he's renting has a barbecue, and he's marinating London Broil for tomorrow night, red wine, mustard, steak sauce and salt and pepper.

The Bill Bryson dinner

There is an essay by Bill Bryson where he has been enduring some kind of very awful and stressful travel and he is so looking forward to being home and really really wants steak and when his wife picks him up at the airport she's prepared tofu or something. He ends up banging his head on the dashboard moaning "I wanted steak, I wanted steak". I may have this all wrong, and John will correct me.
But last night I had endured some form of stressful daily travel and came home to find John frying up some rib eyes. Dang they were good. Big stack of mushrooms and onions on top, some rice, and a big bowl of garlicky spinach cooked in the very special Italian olive oil, with also a tossed salad.
I wanted steak! I wanted steak!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Stir fry Pork with Bok Choy and Green Onions

From the Ken Hom cookbook (Easy Family Recipes from a Chinese-American Childhood). John was at a fancy Rotary dinner, so it was just me and the dog, who is off his feed anyway. I took a little pork loin roast out of the freezer and shaved thin slices from it, and marinated them in 1 Tablespoon light soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil, with a bit of cornstarch. Sliced green onions (it calls for 8 but I only had 4) into 2 inch lengths, and also sliced up some bok choy. Steamed some white Basmati rice. (The bag was torn, unbeknownst to me, so when I took it out of the burlap bag it comes in to fill up the rice container, rice went everywhere all over the kitchen. !@#$% This does not help with the 5 minutes in the kitchen goal.) Heated the wok up to really really hot (putting out the tiny little rice fires from the little grains of rice left in the burner), added a tablespoon of peanut oil to just starting to smoke, put the pork in and stir fried it quickly. As soon as not pink, removed it from the pan and added the vegetables with a little (too much actually) salt, equal amount of suge (supposed to be 1 teaspoon each, I'd back that off next time) and 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper. Stir fried about 30 seconds, added the pork and accumulated juices and good through for about a minute or so. Put the rice in a bowl, topped it with the pork, arranged a little plum (a slice in the CMS wine) on the plate, and had a lovely dinner, reading the Police Blotter from the Chilkat Valley News, always engrossing what goes on up there. A caller reported that a former tenant had left beer cans by a stream!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Pumpkin Soup

It was a Friday night after a long week. John made cream of pumpkin soup and a salad with fresh croutons, which went well on the soup and on the salad. Austrian wine, a bath and to bed.

Friday, November 30, 2007

The best spaghetti ever

Alec made the best spaghetti ever tonight for dinner. Sauteed red onion in olive oil and butter. Ground beef - free range and grass fed. De Cecco spaghetti. TJ's marinara sauce. All put together just right makes the spaghetti the best ever.

In Denmark, one doesn't talk about food at the table.

Succulent winter king salmon, grilled (a perfect BBQ night: crystal clear, in the 20s, no wind) to perfection, some oven roasted blue potatoes, steamed cauliflower and broccoli, a tossed salad, and a loaf of fresh no-knead bread (the recipe is on the right and works perfectly every time). An orange and cranberry upside down cake that will be better for breakfast this morning. Some Belgian beer (Saison Dupont), a delicious Barbaresco, some Hedges CMS. Delightful company, including two unsuspecting friends who dropped in to deliver a bottle of very special olive oil and found themselves with glass in hand seated at the table and a gentleman from Denmark, here to film a TV piece on the death of Vitus Bering, a Danish hero who died on a beach near here many years ago, and a good friend who was doing the filming. Conversation turned, as it usually does as soon as the ritual Rotary rants are over, to food: to comparisons of mayonnaises, to memories of odd things the children would and would not eat, to favorites from the past, to how at times your body just seems to want eggs or steaks. At one point the Dane stopped us and said that in Denmark one would never talk about food while eating. How interesting! What do they talk about in mixed company then?

This set us off on an exploration of cultural differences mostly centered around humour, and how what is funny in one country may leave the audience in another country waiting for the punch line. We amused ourselves by telling several jokes that just don't translate into funny in another language, which was funny in and of itself. I think we determined that golfing seems to be a fairly universally funny activity. There was this one about the businessman and the bishop who were out golfing....oh but you've heard that one! Then there is the one about the priest, who has led a good life, facing St. Peter and has to confess that once while golfing he used the F word....oh, you've heard that one too! And we brought up the famous three part joke originally told to us by a Danish doctor and which was our kids' favorite joke for years. If you've not heard it, they can tell it well.

So what was funny made us laugh, and what was not funny made us wonder, and another wonderful meal it was.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

For Mature Audiences only.

Friends invited us over to share yesterday's shrimp harvest and a selection of older, or as John would say "mature" chardonnays. The shrimp were perfect: denuded, lightly sauteed in olive oil with a splash of "mature" wine. Accessorized with bowtie noodles, and a Caesar Salad (dressed lightly in a homemade Caesar dressing with the perfect balance of lemon and anchovies). La Boheme on the stereo, and a selection of "mature" wines. Exquisite. Too bad us "mature" types had to toddle off to bed early!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mancini memories

Yeesh, my first post and it's not even about food, exactly. Yes, Henry Mancini composed the soundtrack for "Charade," and reading about it made me smile because he was my first "celebrity" interview back when I was a journalism radio intern in college. I shared with him my unending love for the "Pink Panther" theme and he was quite gracious and charming, even as I rambled on about doing an interpretive dance to the song for a grade-school backyard talent show. Well, I guess that's enough to start with. Made some great Moroccan-style lamb chops over couscous with garbanzoes and apricots while the kids were away, Casa Lapostolle Sauv. Blanc and candlelight, taking a page out of the DeCherney empty nest book.

Nostalgia Noodles

Pasta with Peanut Sauce was on the menu at the Fiddlehead Restaurant for a long time, and made it into the Fiddlehead Cookbook. We had a surfeit of last week's veggies, and this recipe uses up veggies, and so John stepped back in time and whipped up a batch. I tossed a lettuce and water cress salad with rice wine vinegar and oil, and all was well. Villa Maria on the table. Robert Bluestone on the stereo.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Yams with Marshmallows meets Fois Gras

I don't want to sound like I'm underappreciative of French cuisine,
but I tried duck fois gras today and I didn't like the smell at all. It wasn't altogether pleasant....

BBQ Pork Chops

Perfect BBQ weather (not blowing sideways and above freezing), so John put on a couple pork chops slathered with the Cherry BBQ sauce mixed with Hoisin sauce allowing him to claim the usual "Just the dad regular: Open frig, empty contents of the little tiny jars altogether." I am not certain where all these little tiny jars of stuff are coming from and why they are there partially used.

Anyway, tasty chops with steamed rice mixed with Forbidden rice, a particularly yummy tossed salad with watercress in it, and a plate of grapefruit and apples. The house white wine, Veramonte Sauvingnon Blanc.

Conversation turned to the movie we watched the other night, Bad Day at Black Rock, starring Spencer Tracy and a bunch of famous people and which I found to be two dimensional and wooden, as if someone used stick figures to act out High Noon, not to mention the fact that the set looked like the fake town in Blazing Saddles and there was only one female (young blonde cutie) living there who of course gets it in the end. John loved it, found it tense and suspenseful, very intriguing a lot like a spaghetti western. The music was by Andre Previn and indeed it was very atmospheric. Which led to a discussion of best movie theme songs: High Noon. Good the Bad and the Ugly. Third Man Theme. Shot in the Dark. anything by Henry Mancini. Charade. (is that by Henry Mancini?)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Shrimp Piraeus

Sundays around Sapper Hall are fairly predictable. We have shrimp. Tonight we had one of our favorites, Shrimp Piraeus. We found this recipe in a Harrowhouse cookbook several years ago and it has become one of our top five favorites.

2 medium onions, chopped; 5+ garlic cloves (your tastes), chopped; 2.5 TBLS olive oil; 28-oz diced tomatoes (or 14.5-oz diced, and 10-oz regular Rotel); basil and oregano; s & p; .5 cup dry white; 1.5 # peeled, deveined shrimp; 8 oz feta cheese, crumbled. Heat oil, toss in onion/garlic for thirty seconds. Add tomatoes, basil/oregano, s&p, heat till boiling. Add wine, heat till boiling. Add shrimp, cook for 4-5 minutes, till pink/white. Add feta, mix, heat 4-5 minutes. Serve with chunks of rough country bread, rest of white wine and mixed green salad.

Doesn't take long and may very well become a short notice favorite. My advice is to keep a two pound bag of shrimp in the kitchen freezer anyway, ready to be thawed under running water in times of dire need. Repeat as necessary.

That is all.

Turkey Noodle Casserole

John made a tasty mom-style dish last night: leftover turkey in a cream sauce baked altogether with egg noodles. He was aiming at tetrazzini, in a salute to a childhood friend of a good friend of ours, who, when invited to her home for dinner, apparently sat down at the table and announced that she only ate Chicken Tetrazzini. Chicken Tetrazzini is now code in their home for being a fuss-budget.

I am sympathetic, I recall being just a little wierded out by food at other people's houses, and I recall as a child I would only eat Breaded Veal Cutlets when we went out, much to my parents' chagrin. Not even sure where I came up with that, don't think my mom ever made it.

I think my brother and sister would only eat either spaghetti or hamburgers.

Our kids were much cheaper dates: They only ate plain cheese nachos, with a strawberry guava juice. The two of them could split a 1/2 order at the local Tex-Mex place and be happy little diners. Please don't sully the plate with sour cream, salsa, jalapeno or anything else. It was a real big day when Ren ate her first hamburger.

One of her little friends would pretty much only eat white food. Once she came over and we made a batch of plain (we thought it was plain) buttered spaghetti noodles for her. John sprinkled a teeny tiny bit of chopped parsley flakes in, and it was a remarkable sight to watch her carefully get each tiny flake off a noodle before eating it.

John's casserole was home cooking at its most comforting. I think all the kids would have liked it, even Miss Chicken Tetrazzini.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Double Celery Soup

John faced down the celery root in the frig yesterday, coming up with a delectable cream of celery and celeriac soup based on turkey stock. Feeling full of the holiday bonhomie common to the chronically well-fed, he invited the neighbors in and a couple of other good friends, so I came home to a table being set for five, the oven full of turkey pepper cranberry Provolone sandwiches, a big tossed salad and a friendly William Hill Estate Chardonnay, partnered with a Domaine Filliatreau Chateau Fouquet Saumur, and somehow dessert became a Roederer Estate 25th Anniversary Anderson Valley Brut, not sure how that happened, guess we were out of chocolate. (Charlotte, you left too early!) Delicious all the way around.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Black Friday - Inspiring, believe it or not

Hey, Wine-0s out there on the gene tree, have any of you ever given or received a really good "wine of the month" gift? I am thinking of giving a friend of mine a "WotM" for X-mas this year but don't want to give a "cheesy" one, if I wanted to do that I'd give him a cheese of the month.  Any recommendations? 


p.s. Happy Turkey Sandwich Day  

Post Thanksgiving Satori

When I had my first post Thanksgiving turkey sandwich (breakfast today) instead of any ordinary mayo I used Duke's.


Thanksgiiiiiviiiiiing a Paris

Who says you can't have thanksgiving in france? All the Smithies in Paris were invited to a thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant where a traditional thanksgiving dinner had been ordered for us. There were the requisite turkey (dinde en français), mashed potatoes and gravy (boullion en français) and the other dishes seemed to be what the french thought thanksgiving was about. Don't get me wrong, it was great, it was just kind of funny to see how a country that doesn't even have a verb for "giving thanks" interpretted the holiday. We started off with a fabulous pumpkin soup, bread and some beaujolais nouveau which was pretty fab as well. After that there was turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and green beens. Instead of slicing the turkey in thin slices, the turkey had been carved into hunks. Hunk-o-turkey for everyone. It was still delicious. Then there was this apple crisp thing that came with what I thought was vanilla ice cream and turned out to be "creme frais" which tastes like sour cream. Gosh but that was a fun surprise.

We also had a fun time explaining the holiday to our grammar professor who wanted to know all about what we ate. When we explained about mashed sweet potatoes and marshmallows, it was a bit too much for her french soul to handle and she looked a little ill, while explaining to us that it wasn't that it sounded BAD, she was just trying to imagine the tastes TOGETHER.

So while the french may be better at cooking the turkey, I'm not sure they really understand the concept of this holiday in its entirety. But I still had a good thanksgiving.


What is the best part of Thanksgiving?

Right now, I vote: THE PUMPKIN PIE FOR BREAKFAST THE NEXT DAY. With a little dollop of whipped that's the way to start a day.

I think John is voting: THE STUFFING. I'm hoping there will be some leftover come dinner tonight....

We had just four of us for dinner this year, a little unusual for us, but we cooked for 14 just in case.

We brined a turkey overnight, and stuffed it with a cornbread/challah stuffing fragrant with fresh sage, thyme, parsley, marjoram, lots of onions and celery, and a lifetime's ration of butter. I might have baked it just a tich too long, but it was fine.

Garlic mashed Yukon Gold potatoes, and my brother likes sweet potatoes, so a little side of those with bourbon brown sugar butter glaze.

A vat of gravy, I forgot that Ren, the gravy hound, is still in France. There should still be some left when she gets back in June.

Green beans, just steamed and topped with thin sizzled onion rings, a nod to "company green beans."

Waldorf Salad, with raisins plumped in bourbon. A tangerine and lettuce salad in an orange juice vinaigrette. At my sister's house apparently they have dispensed with any menu item that does not go with gravy, and in fact the Waldorf Salad is looking like a good alternative for lunch today, but I find the greens and crispness balances the palette and the palate at the meal, even if they are not at their best smothered in gravy.

Cranberry orange sauce.

Sharffenberger brut, Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc, and Maker's Mark for the non-wine drinker.

A delumpshious velvety pumpkin pie made by Lynn, with whipped cream.

Conversation ranged from updates on work from all, book reviews (John just read the latest Christopher Buckley, Lynn is reading a Barbara Kingsolver, and Thad and I are reading murder mysteries), to the problems of the world, all the more vivid in contrast to the lace and luxury and over-filled plates over which we considered them.

At 7:30 it felt like 9, so we all toddled off to bed and slept soundly.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving dinner with Nance & John

Lynn and I hit the jackpot this year when we were invited up to Nance & John's for Thanksgiving dinner. We have just returned, and are convinced we won't have to eat again for at least a week. Absolutely superb dinner!! Turkey cooked to the perfect bronze hue, cornbread stuffing made with homemade cornbread, creamy mashed potatoes, yams, green beans, Waldorf and green lettuce salads, all of which we slathered with delicious turkey gravy! A Scharffenberger champagne was included, as was some Makers Mark bourbon for those of us who don't drink wine (thanks John). After a short rest on the couch to regain our focus, we topped it all off with some great pumpkin pie that Lynn had made. A wonderful evening!

This just in from Pennsylvania

Our niece just created this splendid chocolate birthday cake for my sister! I wonder if she takes orders?

26 years and still standing

John and I celebrated our 26th anniversary with a lamb chops, Forbidden Rice, steamed broccoli, and, mysteriously, an inedibly salty tossed salad. Of course a plate of fresh fruit. Marqués de Cáceres Rioja, ("elegant, just like you, dear"). Served on our wedding china, which also mysteriously, we have never used before. It is lovely. I'm hauling the rest of it out for Thanksgiving dinner, why not, what are we saving it for?

We realized that in our old age, we can no longer remember where we spent our first Thanksgiving, it might have been Victoria BC on our honeymoon. I do recall my brother's first Thanksgiving with his now wife whom he had just met: Frantic calls about how long can you leave turkey out, and French toast entered into it, and I discreetly leave the rest to your imagination.

So how about you? Where was your first Thanksgiving with your loved one?

It always seems to me that when you spend Thanksgiving with your significant other's family, that is a portent of wedding bells to come. Worked for me anyway.

And now John has meandered off muttering about how he can't cook anything, there was the pie shell disaster, the disaster of mythic proportions involving a perfectly roasted Christmas prime rib and too much wine and a dullish carving knife, and now the disastrously salty tossed salad.....Like the rest of us have never had a disaster....a certain poached pear dessert comes to mind for example, or the day the Baked Alaska overflowed and set the table cloth on fire. Or a turkey dinner that became French toast for some reason....These are the things of legend that keep families together.

So: Out with yours!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Another late night

And we had spaghetti with peas and peppers. Left over green beans. Tossed salad. Oranges, apples. The Can Fiexes. Discovered a delightful recording of Vivaldi's La Cetra. Fussed about the day's tiny aggravations, ignored the really big ones.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What to do with leftovers.

OK. So you have leftover roast chicken.
Leftover potatoes gratin (scalloped potatoes + 50¢)
Left over green beans & mushrooms.
Leftover Villa Maria.
Leftover Prosecco (what, do these people not drink?)
Whattya do for a late after work dinner?

John made swell chef salads. Boiled a couple of eggs, cut little batonnets of cheese, laid it all out just like in a diner on the plate, the eggs over here, the chicken slices over here, the cheese over there, the tomato wedges here.
Prosecco for an aperitif, Villa Maria for dinner.
All good.

What would you have done?

(and there is again the portion control thing since the kids are gone.....+4 for dinner is really not all that many!)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Creating Sunday

My crafty friends and I try to meet every month or so to do arts 'n' crafts, although of late, we have not been able to all be in the same town at the same time so the crafts have been malingering in drawers untouched.
AHA! Sunday afternoon!
Usually, this is a ladies only sort of deal, but John volunteered to make dinner for the ladies and their gentlemen following the crafts, so the crafts portion included one of us knitting on delicate little needles a lovely gift of fingerless mitts, one of us adorning a charming Scottish tam with ribbons, one of us attempting to make a piece of log cabin knitting look better with some embroidery, and another of us making Tlingit armor.

John, for his craft, hoisted the cocktail flag, and it works like a charm. The neighbors joined the group en route to watch a (what I understand was miserable) football game. We popped open a bottle of Zardetto prosecco and John whipped up a pile of tapas shrimp matched in tastiness only by the participatory messiness involved in eating them.

Meanwhile, chickens roasted, potatoes scalloped, salads tossed, and dinner appeared on the table completed by a loaf of the no-knead bread (it works!) and a spectrum of wines from Argiolas Costamolino, to Villa Maria Sauvignon Blanc, to Marietta Old Vine. Conversations rambled from rat rods (near as I can figure, pimped out Juneau-body cars, there's a future for Henry's Honda) to Beowolf, to the problems of how to wean the country from its over consumption of energy and water. I believe some reminiscing about the good old days when Alaska, and we, were young, and youngsters of 29 were attorney generals and even younger folks were working out oil deals for the state, came along about the time the pear crisp (sadly not as fully baked as we'd like it) and some super chocolate chip cookies (Henry, your title as Best Cookie Baker is severely challenged and a couple of bake-offs may be in order) made it to the table. Ah, those were the days! But I think we eat much better now.

How was your Sunday?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunday Meatloaf

Thad is making meatloaf. I have been lobbying for baked potatoes but I think we are getting a pasta side dish. I have some of the chianti left and may drink that, or I may just stick with The French Connection, my new favorite. Amaretto & cognac over ice with a twist of lemon.

Yorba Wines

Some cousins of ours have a winery and this is the first year they have offered a wine for sale under their own label: Yorba, in honor of our common ancestor, a soldier in the army of the king of Spain who came to California in 1769. Lori ordered a case and it arrived yesterday. Not wanting to let it get dusty, we had a couple people over for dinner to try the Syrah and the Tempranillo. We didn't go all out on the meal- in fact, both of us were already so tired that the frozen diGiorno pizza was looking pretty good. I did lift a finger to thaw a Mortons marinated steak- those ones from Costco. I mean, how tough can it be to BBQ a pre-marinated steak with the Morton's moniker? Turns out, darn difficult if the BBQ is acting more like a blow torch than an even mannered cooking machine. I guess I have to admit- I should have listened to Lori's advice last summer when she pointed out that the burners were rusted out. Even at the lowest of low heat settings, Morton's finest was a grease ball of fire. I finally took it off the Q, brought it in and sliced it- it was more like steak Tartar. Always the optimist, I suggested that everyone liked very rare steak, right? I got a lot of blank stares. Andy came to the rescue- he suggested we take the slices and finish them in the same pan I had caramelized some onions in. I threw some rosemary and a little more olive oil in the pan with the nice caramelized onion residue- 20 or 30 seconds on a side and I had a great little steak dinner. Thanks, Andy!

Anybody know where you can get cast iron burners for those big Costco BBQ'a they were selling a few years ago?

The wine was a hit. Check out I am a big fan of those heavy meaty reds, and the Syrah I really enjoyed. It reminded me of the wines my dad used to serve in the 70's. The Tempranillo was really good too- like a spanish rioja, perfect way to honor our spanish ancestor.

Secret Pleasures

When there's no one home but me for dinner, I get to fix myself something on the short list of things that they don't like and I adore. Last night, Ren was in Paris (as John would say, "It sucks to be Ren"), Henry was in San Francisco (probably overdrawing his account), and John was pouring wine at someone else's house in the name of Rotary.

Cheese and mushroom soufflé. Perfect, puffy, well browned and crispy on the edges, creamy and smooth, flavorful on the inside. Tossed salad with beets in balsamic dressing, a just ripe Bartlett pear, Villa Maria Sauvignon blanc, and Dave Brubeck. I light the candles when it is just me too. Why not?

Followed by a hot bath and The Snack Thief, a funny Sicilian mystery thriller by Andrea Camilleri. Recommended for foodies:
"Then eight pieces of hake arrived, enough to feed four people. they were crying out their joy - the pieces of hake, that is - at having been cooked the way God had meant them to be...."Do whatever you want, but don't talk. I'm telling you as a brother, for your own good. Don't talk for any reason in the world. If you interrupt me while I'm eating this hake, I'm liable to wring your neck."

Hake is another name for ling, and I believe we had that joyful fish just the other day.

But I digress. The question is: What do you eat when there is no one else for dinner? Please don't say pop tarts.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Pizza night

We always used to have pizza and a movie with the kids on Friday nights. One half, for kids: black olives only, no mushrooms. The other half, for adults: mushrooms and black olives. God forbid that mushrooms should somehow insinuate themselves to the Kids' Side. Last night, it was sweet Italian sausage, mushrooms, black olives, extra cheese all over the WHOLE thing! An incredible red wine: Zenato Valpolicella, rich, dark, with overtones of licorice and roses and other yummy stuff, Anna-Sophie Mutter's "Carmen" on the stereo. Since I can only make pizza in one size, and we were two down, there is pizza left over for breakfast this morning! Yahoo!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Rockfish is the best

And much cheaper than halibut these days.
John breaded it, and fried it lightly on op of the stove and then finished it in the oven. Served just with salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon. Rice, tossed salad, steamed broccoli, kiwi apples and pears. Veramonte Sauvignon Blanc.

iTunes featured the new Dave Brubeck "Indian Summer" yesterday, and it is a wonderful solo jazz piano CD. Recommend it.

Rotary is continuing to give John reason to live: He's been in this organization for longer than he's been a father, and it's always something. I think he must like the complex interplay of human pettiness that seems to be part and parcel of club dynamics.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

It was a crab and stormy night

People here have their preferences: King Crab vs Dungeness Crab, and you'll have your diehards on either side of the argument. I like them both, but I will say this: Dungeness are just a little more "picky" than King. Smaller bodies. Takes a bit of work to get the meat out.

So I picked a bunch of Dungeness last night, while waiting for John to get home from his Rotary Board meeting of no fun.

We received fennel bulb in "the box", also green onions. I've always thought that the faint licorice flavor of fennel goes very well with seafood. So:

Put on a pot of brown basmati rice.
Slice up the fennel bulbs (take off the stocks to use in stock, halve them, cut out the little hearts) into slim slices.
Cut several green onions up into similar lightly longer pieces.
Melt a 1/4 cup of butter in a big sauté pan over slow heat (it is going to be a LONG board meeting) and begin to wilt the fennel in it.

Prepare a salad of frisee, Napa cabbage, and mixed greens, marinate the leftover broccoli from yesterday in balsamic and olive oil.

Slice up a crispy delicious apple and a perfect Bartlett pear.

Sit down with a glass of Lindemans Bin 95 sauvignon blanc and do a little embroidery, while waiting for the "en route" call.

When it comes, add garlic and butter to a small pan to reheat the beets from yesterday.
Bring the fennel and butter back up to a hot temp and add a good bit of the freshly picked crab and sautee to heat through. Add the green onions and a splash of wine.

Hand John a glass of wine.

Put the rice in a bowl and top it with the crab mixture, put the beets in a lovley pink bowl, light the candles and dinner is served.

conversation about previously mentioned least fun ever board meeting. Has anyone read Tastings by Nigel Slater? it was left in our book exchange at the Arts Council, maybe I'll read it.

To bed, but alas not to sleep: The house was slammed by gusts of wind all night, and the general anxiety from the day would not be allayed.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

One of the things Alaska does best

John likes to get fresh prawns from a fishing boat down in Harris Harbor, but yesterday, they were all out when he got there. All they had was fresh Dungeness crab. Oh darn, I hate it when that happens.
Apparently, it was something like a Costco package or the Chinese restaurant thing, with 6 you get an eggroll: That is a PILE of crab in the frig.
So last night, just fresh steamed crab (I can't believe I ate the whole thing), steamed broccoli, a tossed green salad with freshly made teeny tiny garlicky oily croutons (sorry Lynn!), oven fried potatoes, and really excellent apples and kiwi. A lovely Fume Blanche sauvignon blanc by Lurton, a mix of music ranging from Sharon Isbin to Itzhak Perlman, and conversation about who we we'd like to have over for dinner. You'll be getting a call. Not sure there will be any crab left.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Fortune cookies

Last Friday I was in Ketchikan. Quite often when I am there I spend most of the morning and early afternoon calling on accounts so many of the usual venues for lunch are not open by the time I am free.

So I was looking for a place called Lee Ho Fuks. I was gonna get big dish of Beef Chow Mein.

Sorry, I have always been a big fan of the late Warren Zevon.

Anyway, one place that is always open for business is the Thai restaurant. It is cheap, quick and friendly.

After the meal I got a fortune cookie and it reminded me of a section of Penn and Teller's book "How To Play With Your Food." Among the tricks it includes is a fake fortune that says "The chef spit in your food." as well as some rather darker ideas.

I always read my fortune but I never believe them because, as Penn and Teller say, I don't believe in the precognitive power of pastry.

I have heard that dumb joke that all fortunes are funnier if you add the phrase "in the bed" at the end of the fortune but that doesn't do anything for me.

There are bakeries that will do fortunes for you; so I am assuming that you can get anything you want within reason. Wouldn't you love to see the look on the face of your fellow diners if they got something other than the usual "fortune"?

As I was sitting there I thought about what might be funny to put in a fortune message. The first two things that came to me were "Your so called best friend is going to stick you with the check again" (that must have come from my father, alev shalom) and the other one I thought of was "Your dog hates it when you do that".

Okay, so I have heard lots of you say that you don't cook but I'll bet all of you out there can come up with some better fortunes than that.

We want to hear from you.

5 minute pork chops

Still we had pork loin chops from the Costco escapade, so pork was on the menu again. I found a recipe on line that got rave reviews from many who claimed their mothers used to make this all the time and they had fond memories of it. I can see why the mom's made it: 4 ingredients, and prepared easily in the 5 minute limit:
Turn on the oven to 350.
lightly oil a baking casserole, one with a lid is ideal.
put your pork chops in the pan, single layer, lightly salt & pepper.
top each with 1/4 inch slice of onion, enough to cover the chop.
top with 1/4 inch slice of lemon.
top that with 1 tablespoon of BBQ sauce (I used American Spoon Foods cherry grilling sauce).
Cover and put in the oven.
Bake for 1 hour. I did remove the chops from the casserole and reduce the juices in a sauce pan when they came out, but basically, I can see why moms of yore might have made this often. Pretty dang quick and tasty.
I put some beets in the oven too, made a salad from the last of this week's greens (lettuce, spinach, and arugula, tomatoes, little carrots) and put on some Forbidden Rice. Also perfect Bartlett pears. Dry Creek Fume. Talked about scifi books we've never read.

Monday, November 12, 2007

This just in

From a person who does indeed need to sign on for the blog:
"Hi Nancy:
I’ve got to join the dinner blog, last night was a great debate at our house over how much is too much re: brandy in French onion soup. My 7 year old asked, “Why don’t I have a normal family?”


1) We use sherry for some reason, but I see no reason why brandy and quite a bit of it wouldn't be just grand in FOS.

2) Normal, hmmmm.

Squash Risotto

Back from the heck that is called "The Greater Seattle Area". Found a tavern in Snohomish that carries 112 single malt whiskys, about 15 micro-brews, and has the best Scotch Eggs ever. (A Scotch Egg is a meal in itself: one hard boiled egg, wrap in sausage, roll in bread crumbs, deep fry.)

Anyway, once I got back home and after the Veteran's Day observations here in Ketchikan, we used up some of the squash from the box. Made an acorn squash risotto in the pressure cooker. I adapted a recipe to use in the pc and it came out very well. Creamy texture, lots of flavor with the squash, nice sweetness.

I'm looking forward to trying an Autumn stew (squash, carrots, parsnips, onions) in the next day or two.

Sunday Pot Roast & Ratatouille

My brother called yesterday to invite us to dinner: Of course! We love dinner! What's for dinner, what shall we bring? Spaghetti: Excellent. We'll bring red wine.

Evidently there was a note in that "Excellent" that was not quite as enthusiastic as I'd planned, and Lynn called back to ask if we'd had spaghetti last night (apparently she is not subscribed to this dinner log! Perhaps not last night, but for the last several days for lunch....and there's still more if you are hungry for some) and to say they'd surprise us with something...maybe a Caesar salad or something.

We arrived promptly at 6 pm with a bottle of Scharffenberger in tow to celebrate the grand opening and dedication of the new Juneau Arts & Culture Center, which went off festively if I do say so myself, to delicious aromas wafting through the neighborhood. A delicious pot roast, succulent, moist, with yummy fingerling potatoes and carrot sticks and onions all cooked in there and full of flavor, and the Caesar salad, multi grain bread, Ruffino Chianti (I think it was Ruffino?). Perfect for a Sunday evening.

After dinner: chocolate truffles, more champagne, and we watched Ratatouille, which we all agreed was cute, but nonetheless still about rats.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Pork loin chops

Went to Costco yesterday and came away with a large vat of pork loin chops, knowing that John gets lonely for pork frequently. Went down to the JACC to get stuff ready for the concert last night and the Building Dedication today, and Ren's young man's parents were there working very hard to get the box office desk put together, and a bear it was too. So I invited them over too. No way John and I, even lonely for pork, could eat all that meat. I marinated it in the tamari/ginger stuff then grilled it (came out OK, but not great), made some way too salty oven fried potatoes, sauteed some delicata squash, a tossed salad with marinated cucumbers, and put a big bowl of clementines out. We also finished the last of the big chunk-o dark chocolate. James played the piano, we drank Farrai Carano Siena, Los Cardos Malbec, and Yalumba Viognier, and chattered on delightfully.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Shoes & Supper

Last night John was away, in Ketchikan. My favorite shoe store had a late shopping night for their customers complete with wine and discount coupons.....what can I say? I met my good friend Joan at the store, and our good friend Lori was purchasing these fabulous shoes in BLACK and lo and behold they also came in a very swell RED.....I wore them out to dinner with Joan. We went to Zephyr, one of a couple of newish places with a good wine selection. Decided to split a dinner salad (the Zephyr, mixed greens with grilled asparagus, fried pancetta, and a nice balsamic vinaigrette, quite tasty) and a plate of pasta (the Aegean, with dried tomatoes and olives in goat cheese I think, also very good) and a bottle of Zardetto Prosecco. This often happens when I go out with Joan. We had a lovely dinner, got caught up on her kids, our kids, etc, except I got rowdy and was shouting across the room to another friend who came in on crutches, consequently disturbing the conversation at the dinner table between us. I blame the shoes.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Vegetable Sauté

Delicata squash, baby carrots, fennel bulb, sweet onion, cauliflower, stir-fried in peanut oil, add the left over spaghetti squash and chicken breast. Splash in a bit of white wine and soy sauce, serve over steamed brown basmati rice, topped with grated cheddar and chopped almonds. Side of sautéed beet greens with plenty of garlic, and luscious Bartlett pears. Wine: J. Lohr Chardonnay (interesting nuances of whiskey) and another Spanish Morgadio Albarino Rias Baixas (no we didn't drink both bottles, these were leftovers from the tasting John did at the Island Pub the night before.) Trickling harp music on the stereo. Dang I feel healthy.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Today I was walking past a glasses store and noticed some lenses for kids that were in the shape of little fish. Tres mignon.

More Spaghetti I Say

(One of our kids' favorite children's books)
Had a dinner time board meeting last night and since we now have a kitchen in the new space, I decided to make spaghetti for them, as an experiment in the 5-minute recipe collection. Came close on getting the sauce all onto the stove in 5 minutes, and would have if (key teachable moment) I'd had a sharp knife and all my tools where they belonged.
Anyway, made vats of spags, and others contributed some really good salads, including a tasty and interesting radish (fresh from the Santa Monica Farmers Market), mint, and Montrachet cheese salad, and a delicious zucchini and green olive thing, also a couple of green salads and garlic bread. The board didn't eat but a half of it, so we are going to be seeing spaghetti again soon.
The really exciting news on the food front is that when I went to the store to get the ingredients the first boxes of satsumas were in. I bought a box and took one into my coworker, who is from Norway, and she breathed in the aroma and said with satisfaction, "it's winter". I guess the little oranges at Christmas phenomenon is world-wide.
Those of us who grew up in Alaska have very fond memories of the mandarins that came from Japan about December every year, in little wooden boxes, each orange wrapped in a bit of orange tissue. After you ate all the oranges (and unless mom was there to intervene that could take about 10 minutes) the boxes made swell treasures in an of themselves. Now we get them from California, and they are almost as good, in fact the quality of the Japanese ones is sometimes disappointing of late, although they no longer come in the wooden boxes, and then 'tis the season.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


We always get at least two heads of beautiful lettuce in our bag. What else do you put in your salad besides lettuce? Lately, our salads have been just lettuce with dressing. Rather boring.


Last night John made chicken breasts, sauteed in butter with herbs and wine to finish it, baked spaghetti squash which went very well with the really garlicky sauteed spinach, a big tossed salad, and fresh fruit. Wonderful! The wine was one that he says we'll be seeing frequently around the house, Can Feixes (can fishes), a WONDERFUL wine from Spain that had been on the wine list of the now sadly closed Ludvig's in Sitka. I am sorry about that situation, but now I am not as sorry as I was....I think it was Viveza on the stereo, and conversation turned to why on earth we work so hard. Why?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Baked spaghetti

John read in the blog that baked spaghetti is a childhood favorite of mine, and so that's what he made for dinner. Yummy on the first snow day of the year! Steamed cauliflower with basil, tossed salad, kiwis and apples, Geyer Peak cab, Italian arias.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Vertical to horizontal

Yesterday we were invited to dinner to celebrate a good friend's selection to the judgeship in Sitka. Unhappy to see him move from the neighborhood, but delighted to see him make this move professionally. Steaks and a vertical tasting of Kathryn Kennedy cabernets, 1995 to 1999. A delicious pumpkin soup, perfectly done NY staks with a gorgonzola walnut butter, warm tabooli-like grains, and perfectly done green beans, followed by a sumptuous raspberry chocolate torte. There was Roederer champagne mixed in there somewhere and a 1971 sherry, and a delicious white wine that I didn't catch the name of, and amusing conversation, and a swell view, and then we had to go to bed.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Costumes for Cocktails

At the Amelie café, Ren reports that they offered free cocktails for folks who came dressed in Halloween costumes. She heard much whispering and murmuring "buzz buzz Halloweeeeen giggle buzz" on the bus on her way for the free cocktails.

Mashed spuds, frozen peas and pressure cookers

A few things...

Mashed potatoes. When I made the mashed potatoes for the Shepard's Pie the other night I realized how much I remembered from what they taught us at Culinary and how it differed from how most people cook at home. I guess that is not such an amazing revelation given the Teutonic population of the staff, so they were pretty strict on the mashed potato thing. Germans strict about potatoes, go figure.

I don't think that they taught us this but I always put down a piece of newspaper and peel the potatoes over that so it's easy to clean up.

What they did teach us at school was that you leave the potatoes whole when you boil them. The more surface area that you expose to water, the more water is going to be absorbed and thus the more watery the end result. You also are supposed to wait until the water has come to a full boil before putting the potatoes in the water.

When the potatoes are done you drain the water and put the pot back on the stove very briefly to get more starch out of the potatoes. Then I mash them by hand and add lots of melted butter, salt, a couple of drops of hot sauce (this is in lieu of white pepper which is what they used at school) and hot milk or cream.

I don't know if this makes them significantly better that doing it any other way but it's really the only way that I know how to do it.

Frozen peas

Man, I love frozen peas and I try to make sure there are always some in the freezer. One of our favorite quick pasta dishes is fettucine with peas, bacon and onions. My mother, alev shalom, had two vegetable dishes that she made for company; "Party Peas", peas with bacon and pearl onions and "Company String Beans", the casserole glop with mushroom soup and the canned freeze dried onion rings.

My father's , alev shalom, favorite vegetable was peas and carrots and he didn't tell this to my mother until he was in his late sixties. I remember her telling me how surprised she was to find this out. Using snow peas or snap peas and carrots with butter and a little sesame oil is a nice deviation from the regular peas and carrots.

Frozen peas also came in really handy in the restaurant business. We used to keep a couple of bags in the freeze at the Fiddlehead in case of emergencies. Mostly this would happen on an unexpectedly busy Saturday night if you ran out of fresh vegetables and needed something to serve.

If you are thinking to yourself "how could you run out of vegetables in a restaurant" remember that when Nancy and I first moved here there was only barge service to Juneau once a week and you had to plan your orders for the restaurant two weeks in advance because of the lead time that you needed with your suppliers. This is mind boggling to people who come from the Lower 48 and are used to next day delivery with their suppliers. Trying to predict the future with a perishable inventory naturally led to occasions when you simply ran out of stuff.

Or it may have happened because a certain Norwegian general manager of the restaurant had refused to let us by more vegetables since it would have meant going over the 2% food cost that she was able to maintain. This is meant as a compliment. Our friend Susan was the general manager of the Fiddlehead at the time and she was one of the best bosses I ever had until Shawn and Gary at Specialty showed up.

Every time I used frozen peas I made sure I thanked the woman at the company that we bought them from. She worked for a company called K and N meats in Seattle. Her name was Donna and she was one of the best sales people that I have ever had, hopefully I learned something from her. She was very pleasant, extremely reliable and boy did she ever know her product. Whatever cut of meat she recommended for industrial size pot roast worked perfectly.

Before the kids were born Nancy and I went to Seattle and visited the K and N plant and it was very interesting. We met Donna and took a tour of their meat cutting facility which was immaculate. The manager took a minute to visit with us and I told him that we were a little embarrassed because they had taken such lavish care of us and we were such small customers. He told us "All our customers are important to us, we built our business on small customers" and he was obviously not giving us a line.

What was telling about this is that we went directly from K and N to our other meat supplier which specialized in organic meat. At the time we were their biggest restaurant customer and not just a rounding error like we might have been at K and N. They were alarmingly casual to the point where one person was sitting on one of the cutting boards. When we pointed out the maybe he should not have been sitting on the cutting table he just shrugged it off. I don't know about you but when I place a meat order I usually don't ask them to shove the beef tenderloin up their ass before they send it to me.

Pressure cookers.
My mother had a pressure cooker and whenever she used it it scared the bejusus out of me. It would bounce around in the kitchen with that little whistle thingy rattling all over the place and I was convinced that we would be blown into our component molecules and spread over Mrs. Oberholtzer's bougainvillea that bordered our kitchen.

Hunter and Debi Davis use their pressure cooker frequently. Keep in mind that Hunter Davis spent the better part of his career in the military in ordinance. Stuff blowing up was his daily bread and butter for awhile which, to me, explains his comfort with pressure cookers. I remember sitting in his kitchen drinking wine while he used the pressure cooker and Sapper ran amok through the house. All the time I was thinking, and I am borrowing liberally from Dave Barry here, "Say, Hunter, wouldn't you feel more comfortable across the street in the fetal position and wearing a football helmet?". But it all worked out for the best.

Thursday is Hunter's birthday and I will be in Ketchikan on Friday to help him celebrate.

In the meantime, time to take the chien for a promenade.

Saturday we see Three Musketeers

We have two excellent productions in town coming down to their last performances here, so John and I decided we better pack them in this weekend. Last night, we went to see Theatre in the Rough, a wonderful Shakespearean troupe of very talented local folks, perform Three Musketeers, in an adaption written by Aaron Elmore, one of the founders. We shall be saying "filthing this" and "filthing that" for days now. His epithets of the "pigsucking dog vomit lying pox on a backside" sort of 17th century Chris Rock-ian Porthos and dashing sword-play and intrigue made for a swell evening's entertainment.

I'd been working down at the Armory all day, where men with power tools and genie lifts were doing exciting things with long poles and squads of volunteers were organizing, cleaning, and putting things up, and so I was a bit fatigued. We decided to go out for dinner, choosing the Prospector, where in fact the service is quite good. I was tired and hungry and consequently had a menu malfunction, somehow getting a steak sandwich covered in grilled onions and mushrooms (so far so good) and that kind of brown gravy that you get sometimes (ehhhhh) with a big pile of (crispy and fresh) French fries, but somehow not passing along the info that I wanted a salad too. John had a salad and steamers. The bread was fresh and warm from the oven, and we sat by the window overlooking the channel with our glasses of (John: Alaskan IPA, Nancy: Kendall Jackson Chardonnay) and chatted, mostly about you.

The steak sandwich reminded me of a summer years ago when my folks left me home alone for a month or so (I do not think that this is the summer that Thad and I put off mowing the lawn until the day before they were due back, but they came back a day early....) and left the freezer full of minute steaks, frozen French Fries, and packets of gravy mix. I was in heaven.

This afternoon we are off to see the very poorly titled Yeast Nation, a premier by the Urinetown folks offered by Perseverance Theatre. It was John's idea to do the matinee, now he is going to miss "the very best football game ever." The play is supposed to be hilarious: We'll report back.

Saturday, November 3, 2007


As much as the Frenchies irritate me with their old fashioned thinking, I must say, they do get microwave dinners right. My host father is visiting friends in Normandy right now and my host mother left this afternoon for Morocco, where she's going to walk in the desert for a week, so I'm tout seul in the apartment. Whenever I'm left alone in the apartment, my host mother stocks the freezer with microwavable dinners. At first I was skeptical, but I've never been let down. Tonight I had pasta thingies with cream sauce and bolognaise sauce. It was pretty rocking. She also bought me some french fries too, after I told her that sometimes when my mother left home when henry and I were little, my father would get french fries. She also bought two fondants au chocolate for us today. She's tres cute. She also insists that I eat salad and tomatos and clementines for vitamins. She's very concerned about my vitamins.

Later supper

I got home before John did last night, about 9 pm after a long day that started with the the boiler at the office being out with 50 people arriving for a day-long meeting, the coffee makers overflowing and blowing the electrical circuits, and Fed Ex not delivering the photos scheduled to be shown in the Gallery for First Friday at 4:30 until 3 pm, followed by our first "Rent Party" which actually went nicely until the children started throwing stuffed pumpkins at the basketball hoops (outta here Monday!) necessitating a firm "Time to go home now". Home and to walk the dog ever so briefly.

Normally, this would be a scrambled eggs night. I opened the frig to get out said eggs, and lo and behold there was a fennel bulb. Hmmm. How would that be? Maybe in some pasta....

Put on the fettucine, sliced up said fennel bulb into slim 2 inch pieces, also some green onions and the leftover asparagus, some mushrooms, and there were some walnuts in the toaster oven that I had forgotten to add to the fuyu salad the other day. Grated a big pile of Parmesan cheese and smashed about three garlic cloves. I scrambled some eggs and set them aside. Sauteed the veggies in a generous lump of butter and olive oil, tossed a quick salad, drained the noodles, and stirred in the veggies, the scrambled eggs and most of the cheese. Voila! There is John with CHAMPAGNE left from the Bra-Dazzler auction! Such a deal. He thought the YoYo Ma Appasionato was too downbeat, so we moved to some tangos, and had a lovely late supper. A little prosciutto would have been nice in the pasta, but what are you going to do. It was good as is, anyway none left.

Friday, November 2, 2007

this just in from France

Yay champagne!

Nov. 1

Dinner yesterday started out a little anxiety fraught on my part, probably partly working too long, and then trying to deal with the airline snafu from last year, and misplacing the all-important file with all the notes about it.

John had taken some halibut, which some good friends had given us when they visited last summer, out of the freezer and he'd breaded it in crumbs and fried it, served just with fresh lemon, some mashed delicata squash seasoned liberally with butter, and a Mizuna tossed salad. Of course the apples and kiwi. Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc. Music rambled from this to that and ended up with us shopping for the Blasters on iTunes. Go figure.

We will note also that the correspondent from University of San Francisco has apparently taken to heart the good training at table he received from his family and has eaten his way completely through his meal plan 6 weeks early and required an infusion of cash. He tells me the upper classmen had told him that no one ever uses up their meal plan, not to worry, but there it is. A big ZIP-O on the account. So he has done what all resourceful college kids do, gotten a job with a caterer. Food will be served.

Tonight is First Friday and the first of our "Rent Parties" that the arts council is having in order to pay the rent and for the repairs on the boiler, which went out again yesterday. John has a wine tasting, the auction of the Bra-Dazzler entries to benefit Cancer Connection. The Nicholas F champagne brassiers give me an idea for next year....Anyway, no dinner for us tonight!

This really has nothing to do with food.

Seeing as yesterday was all saints day, which meant no one has to go to school or work, Kaden asked if anyone would like to go to Disneyland Paris. WOULD ANYONE LIKE TO GO TO DISNEYLAND?! Hell yes I would like to go to Disneyland! So off Kaden and I went on the RER to Disneyland (which is pronounced Diiiiisnaylaaaaaaand here). I hate to admit it, but when we saw the sign that said "SORTIE Parc Disneyland" we both squealed in a very immature fashion. The entrance is in this big building that reminded me very much of the Hotel del Coronado. After buying out tickets, we found ourselves in Main Street USA and more squealing happened. It was fabulous. Little victorian buildings everywhere, lots of people, cinderella's castle, lots of crap to buy, it was great. So we headed off to Frontier Land to go to the Phantom Manion becuase Kaden loves old houses. It was fun because it was all decked out for halloween, which isn't really a big deal here, I don't know why, because you get the next day off, so why not party? The mansion was fun, it looked like an old new england home, so that was fun. Then we went to ADVENTURE land and went to Davy Jone's locker and did the pirate thing. The line for Pirates of the Carribbean was excruciating and a fat french woman told her children that I was one of those people who didn't respect lines and then she hit Kaden in the stomach. I guess the up side is that I UNDERSTOOD what she was saying about me. (!) Pirates was definitely worth the wait, but then we were hungry so we went to get something to eat. I had what was probably the worst pastrami sandwhich ever, but I will note that the pizza was in the form of a micky mouse head. cute cute. Then we were off to Dumbo the Flying Elephant! The line for this one moved rather quickly, but there were a lot of parents who kept hitting Kaden with their children. Odd. But the ride was fun and I was surprised at how high you could make dumbo fly. There was a lot of happy shrieking on my part. Then we went to Snow White, which was kind of lame. Then, just to please my father, we headed off to IT'S A SMALL WORLD. And I now understand why my uncle was ready to maim me after making him ride it with me when I was 7 for three days straight. Sorry. By then it was really dark out, but I wanted to prove to myself that I was a big girl, so we went off to Thunder Mountain. It was definitely worth the 50 minute wait. It was so much fun, though I have to admit that I held on to Kaden's arm and smashed my face into her shoulder for most of it. But it was still fun. We decided that we are definitely much tougher than we thought and maybe we could handle some of the rides at Park Asterix, which is where we want to go next. On the ride back I was looking through my pictures and Kaden said "we haven't even gotten back to Paris and you're already looking through your pictures nostalgically! Disney does this! I don't know how!" and it was true! I don't know why I had such a fun time, I spent hours standing in line being hit by small children, but I had a fantastic time! Yay for disney. The best part is, we're going to see if Smith will reimburse us for some of the ticket price because it was a "cultural experience" because it was in french...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Quickie, anyone?

Title is from an early GWB joke, still believable.

Dinner tonight is a quiche, or as someone who shall remain nameless (JD) described them, "...whatever is in the refrigerator or vegetable bin is fair game." So tonight, beef/chanterelle/parmesan quiche. The beef is from the pot roast from last night. I was so taken with the descriptions of the DeC's pot roast, I had to make one myself. Not having the patience to actually roast one, I used the pressure cooker. So an hour later, meat is fork tender. Put the potato, onions, garlic cloves, and parsnip in the juice, five minutes later pull them out, and make gravy out of the pan juices. All done while the roast sits quietly for about 15 minutes. Perfect.
A Hogue Lemberger in the pot, drunk while cooking, and violah...dinner last night and tonight.

Starting another thread, who is your favorite author. You know the one I mean, the one who puts a meal on the table in their fiction and you have to put the book down and go cruise the shelves and refrigerator. Best foodie FICTION writer. Me, I hold out for Mayle. I have learned not to read his books on an empty stomach.

Here is a good example

of fine jackolantern carving!

This just in from Thad and Lynn.
I bet they got lots of trick or treaters.
I kind of like the evil twin one, and the jolly guy has a certain chuckly charm too.


OK, so we didn't have a jack-o-lantern, and now we have a bag and a half of candy at our house. (Martha: Leftovers for dinner....shall we?) The street was crawling with adults in SUVs and kids running wildly from door to door shrieking

(Snarky Editorial comment: Most in no costume, a few in something they bought at the store, what is up with that, ok I understand parents being too frantic to get a costume together for the kids, but gee whiz, in MY + paper grocery bag + crayons and glue = Halloween costume.)

but only three groups came to our door, and the last group was teen boys (OK, they were at least artfully made up and costumed) who yanked the screen door handle off, so with that, I turned out the lights and went up to read. I guess, without the time honored beacon, even though all the outdoor lights and the living room lights were on, kids felt it was not likely to be worth the effort to come up our drive way.

John made a delicious Shepherd's Pie, with left over pot roast and pork roast, (We are still hoping DeeDee will weigh in with her recipe.) a tossed green salad and fresh delicious apples & kiwis. We finished the Falesco and started on a Lindeman's Bin 50 Shiraz. Il Giardino Brandenburg Concertos on the stereo.

Whatever it was, I slept like a lamb for the first time in ages.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Roast pork and pumpkins

Goodness me, Nancy made last night's dinner sound like a Lou Reed album. We weren't really so gloomy.

A couple of things...

The reason that the onions were caramelized is that I sliced them very thin and used them instead of a roasting rack. I seared the pork in a saute pan and then sauteed the onions, mushrooms and garlic in the same pan. Then I deglazed it with red wine put the pork on top and put it in the oven.

When roasting anything it is import to me that you get that nice brown crust on the outside by either searing it in a pan or in a very hot oven, the pan method is easier to control.

It's also important to remember that if you are drinking wine as you cook to wrap a towel around the handle of the saute pan if it has been in the over for thirty minutes. Seared flesh is so old school as a garnish for roast pork.

It is important to have any roast on a rack or elevated, particularly if it is a cut that renders a lot of fat. This is exactly where the phrase "to stew in your own juice" comes from. If you are roasting or dry cooking something it will boil and toughen if it is in it's own liquid.

I also glazed the pork with mustard, honey, apricot jam and oyster sauce. I mention this to add on to Martha's brown sugar Salmon glaze. The combination of sweet and hot makes a nice combination for a glaze for almost anything and it is very popular up here for salmon.

I put some of the mitzuna and some arugula in the salad. The mitzuna is beautiful.

If the apples in the box had been awful I would have made applesauce. I am not sure where the pork/applesauce connection comes from but it really is a great combo. If I had had red cabbage I might have cooked some of that with a little caraway. What with all this talk about Deuteronomy keep in mind my maternal grandmother's, alev shalom, maiden name was Eisenbach.

I also let the pork rest for about five minutes after it had come out of the oven. This is such an important step in roasting that I think it is worth mentioning, particularly if you are roasting a large slab of beef. It has to sit for 10-15 minutes at room temp before you slice it. Even those small racks of lamb should sit for about five minutes. If you cut meat too early you loose color and juice.

Why do we cook (and drink) like this every night? Well, the restaurant scene here is not exactly spectacular and since most of them are customers it is very rarely relaxing for me. Both of us love to cook so why shouldn't we do it? To me it's no stranger than asking Susan how she can do needle point after a day of work. And walking the doggie is not such a big chore.

At least both of us enjoy it. Once when I was home from Culinary I was cooking something and my mother, alev shalom, looked at me in genuine amazement and said "You really like this don't you?" She couldn't imagine anyone cooking for pleasure; to her it was complete drudgery

My question would be how do Alec and Sharon manage? Sheesh. The new parent thing is very difficult.

I also have to agree with Hunter Davis. I have seen his porch and putting a pumpkin on his porch makes about as much sense as handing Henry the keys to an Audi TT with a case of PBR Long Necks in the back seat.

Off to the gym to burn some of this off...



I am with Cuzin M - how do Nancy and John eat such wonderful meals every night, walk the dog, work seven days a week and still have time to read (and plant all those bulbs). My dinners are quite boring in comparison. Tonight though I will dig into the box and come up with a mizuna and fuyu salad. Thanks for the inspiration.

Cuzin M catching up

First,let me say I am impressed with the DeCherneys of Juneau...planning, cooking,writing and drinking everyday ...I have difficulty getting it together for any one of those activities on any given day...please share your secret!

So, to catch up...we had a fabulous dinner of Orange Beef,Kung Pao Chicken, and vegetarian Spring Rolls....all cooked by Sammy Woo... at his restaurant. If you go, you must go to the one in Irvine, somehow the food isn't as good as the other locations. Better yet, if you are in the area,let us know and we''ll take you!

So what is the difference between a Spring Roll and an Egg Roll?

Monday was leftover Orange Beef for me. Chuck worked late and grabbed something and ate at his desk.

Tuesday was a taste of the old neighborhood...Chicken Cacciatore with a side of pasta and a green salad. Adding a shot of vodka to the "gravy"(aka tomato sauce in South Philly-eze) ala Emeril really adds a delicious kick to the dish.

I might as well get tonight over with now...let me preface this by saying I am not at all embarrassed to be writing this: 1.Chuck has a dinner meeting. 2. It's Halloween. 3. There's candy in the house. 4. There are very few Trick or Treaters on this street. 5. ANY QUESTIONS???