Sunday, December 28, 2008

Another Virginia Ham

1. Thinly slice up some slow-cured country ham. Go ahead, pile it up.
2. Slice up some Tillamook cheddar.
3. Heat up the forty-year old waffle iron with the reversible plates (that means the flat sided plates are showing, John)
4. Slice some artisan bread.
5. Pile ham and cheese slices, alternating layers, on a slice of bread. Place second slice of bread on top of teetering mound of ham and cheese.
6. Smear butter on top slice of bread. Melt more butter on now hot bottom plate.
7. Place raw sandwich on hot plate, with buttered slice on top. Lower top of iron down on sandwich.
8. Wait impatiently as the sizzling iron transforms an okay sandwich into a melted, dripping golden brown, gooey delight.
9. Repeat as waistline, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure allow.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving in North Carolina

Our family converged on the North Carolinian DeCherneys for Thanksgiving. The weather beat Juneau by a long shot: Upper 50s, sunny, mild, a lovely neighborhood for walking. Baked a pumpkin pie and an apple pie in the morning, prepped the romaine, orange, red onion, and fennel salad, the green beans and the veggies for the stuffing. Slathered the turkey in butter and herbs and put it in to bake. Spent the afternoon visiting and catching up.

Finished up with mashed potatoes and gravy, sauteed green beans, a vintage Dom P, and a variety of wines.

Ren modeled the proper Thanksgiving gusto to show her French parents how Americans approach Thanksgiving.

Here's the apple pie recipe:

How to Make an Apple Pie
And see the world

2 cups flour
1 cup butter
½ cup ice water
1 egg yolk (optional) (I actually didn't use this)

5 – 7 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter

Roll out the bottom crust, fill with apples, dapple with the butter, and top with remaining crust. Make nice edge, and use fork to make design in the top.

oven at 425 for 15 minutes, then 375 for 30 minutes or until bubbling out of the top steam vents.

9 – 10 in pie tin

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Holiday

So, for those folks who have not yet sat down to the family table, here is a thought for discussion.

It is my belief that Thanksgiving is THE American holiday. Other countries have Liberation Days, Independence Days, and Glorious Founders Days. We do too.
But it is Thanksgiving that sets us apart. Oh, Canada has one, but I'm thinking that they came along after we set the example.
I love Thanksgiving, more so than Christmas (much more spiritual for me), and even more than The Fourth of July.
For those of you at home, peace, for those of you at a family gathering, more peace, and for those who are traveling, patience.
"If the only prayer we ever say is thanks, that is enough." Meister Eickhart

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Reason to visit Haines.

33 mile roadhouse.
What more needs to be said? It is as good as it looks.

27 years of bledded wiss

We paused just a moment to celebrate our 27th wedding anniversary, to each other no less.
John made Charlene's salad (romaine and chevre tossed with bacon that has been fried in olive oil with garlic and walnuts) and roasted a delectable rack of lamb, we had a 2002 Duetz Blanc de Blanc, and a delightful bottle of Pahlmeyer red wine.
thanks to Thad and Lynn for helping us celebrate with a gift of Veuve and a book of Champagne cocktails, which will be useful for the Champagne Breakfast on Jan. 20.

Cheap, easy, and fast

That what John says anyway:
Noodles - angel hair? (officially a "chick pasta")
Fresh Spot prawns (cheap?) sauteed in a bit of garlic and butter
chopped up left over pork tenderloin (he didn't say kosher)
green onions.
green salad.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ugly Weather Meal Season

So, it comes again. Daylight Savings is over. The October rains have segued into the November rains. We have had a few good a.m. frosts and Deer Mountain has worn some fresh lace for several days.
It is soup and stew season.
First up is a slow cooker recipe. I love the slow cooker. I love the pressure cooker. I love Paris in the spring...never mind.

Stew Provencal
From Slow Cooker Recipe Collection, Publications International, Ltd., 2001

2 cans beef broth (about 14 oz ea), divided
1/3 cup flour
1.5 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed and diced
6 red potatoes, unpeeled, cut into cubes
3 cups cut green beans (frozen or fresh)
2 cloves garlic, minced (Ha! We started at eight)
1 onion, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1.5 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1. Combine 3/4 cup beef broth and flour in small bowl. Set aside.
2. Add remaining broth and the rest of the ingredients into slow cooker; stir. Cover and cook on low 8-10 hours or on high 4-5 hours. If cooking on low, turn to high for last 30 minutes. Stir in flour mixture for last thirty minutes.

I may try making an aioli to stir into this at the table whenever it gets made again. I love simple.

Serve with bread, butter, beer, or red wine. Enjoy.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

French Toast

Dinners have been out lately, Island Pub business dinner, 50th Anniversary Celebration Wine Tasting, some form of Rotary Wine tasting, but this morning: Challah French Toast with fresh raspberry jam and lots of butter. Perfect.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pizza Island Pub-style

Neither of us had the energy to cook last night so we went to our neighborhood pizza pub place, The Island Pub in Douglas. John had, at the recommendation of Mike Peterson, the new Alaskan lager, and I had Los Cardos Malbec. We ordered a pizza with House cheese (a mix of moz and provolone), fresh mozzarella, red sauce, roasted whole garlic cloves, Italian hot sausage, mushrooms, and fresh basil. Lots of folks had a similar response to the increasingly bad news of the day (capped by the fact that somehow Henry's application for a permanent fund dividend this year of all years didn't get submitted....$3000 error.) and we saw lots of friends enjoying a pint and pizza. Yelped it.
Home to read Margery Allingham.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Luckily, Diamonds International and Columbian Emerald are still open

John plans steak for our dinner this evening.

As he was preparing the dog's dinner this evening, he decided to chop up the little leftover flank steak from the other day to add to his dish. I commented on how he was spoiling the dog, and he said, "Well, I'm spoiling you, so naturally, I'm going to spoil the dog."

I think he just has time to run downtown, there are five ships in and the stores are open late.

Eating for the Arts

We have a program to attempt to raise funds for the new Arts & Culture Center called TLC for Visitors, a Taste of Local Culture. Local hosts provide dinners in their homes for visitors (or, as it is turning out, locals who want a good dinner out) and the proceeds go to support the art center.

We had Servas visitors on Wednesday and Thursday (interesting pair who are also Servas hosts, touring in Alaska from California, one a Russian anthropological research scientist studying Old Believers and the other an artist and curator of Asmat culture and art, now retired and cultivating an organic farm in Sacramento) and on Wednesday five visitors from Colorado walked into the Center and asked if they could get dinner that night or the next. The call went out for hosts and I figured, what the heck we have to make dinner for two extra, why not seven extra. So I dashed home at lunch time and set the table and tidied up, and put on a loaf of sourdough bread to rise, John got some sockeye salmon, a Arts Council volunteer made dessert, and we had a lovely dinner that started with goats milk cheese from the Mat-Su (Palin country) and crackers, and grilled salmon, Romano beans, tossed salad, oven roasted potatoes, a selection of interesting wines, and lots of conversation.

The visitors were active in the arts council in Steamboat Springs CO, and had family in Massachusetts. The group consisted of a Catholic father, a droll and witty gentleman, celebrating his 80th birthday on 8/8/08, and two couples he had married 25 years ago.

We did have to declare the table a Palin-free zone, although I suspect them of supporting her candidacy. It is better for the digestion.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Chicken and bread

Nipped out yesterday morning to pick the last of the raspberries (before the neighborhood folks got them....and before the torrential rain) and made a little batch of jam, which came out better than the last batch, made granola, and made sourdough bread. All before lunch. Had to sit down for the rest of the day...did get started on the thanksgiving in NC project though.

So John made oven fried chicken, a big green salad, squash, and fruit to go with the fresh bread, it was our favorite Veramonte again, a hot bath, and Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Miracle. We did briefly violate the Palin-Free zone, but retraced our steps and got back onto digestible topics to finish the meal.

It was, weatherwise, so nasty, that the bouncy Coco, all I-Want-To-Go-For-A-Walk-Bounce-Bounce, went out tail up and full of vim, took a pee and turned right around and wanted to go back immediately. Fall is in the air, and is in liquid form.

Eating for the Boy Scouts

Good, and generous, friends who are active with the local Boy Scouts, gave us tickets for the annual fundraising dinner up on Mt. Roberts Tram in the Timberline. We enjoyed lots of visiting, wine, a stuffed pork roast, and bidding on items. Holy cats, they make almost $25,000 on their auction! I came home with a lamp, a walking stick, and a scholarship for a scout to go to camp.

PS Read about Yelp in the NYTimes yesterday. What a handy site! Although why someone recommends the Glory Hole (our local soup kitchen) as a place to eat in Juneau is a mystery. Do you supposed they didn't realize? The local community group cooking for the day can be very proud! Surely the "free" part would have given it away? or is this backwards day, and one means the opposite of what one says?

Eating Locally

I have the good fortune to have a fisherman in building. When he is not recording local musicians, he is out fishing. Last week the catch was slim apparently, so slim it was not worth trying to sell to the packers, so he brought each of us a salmon filet.
Perfect end of a long Friday: John BBQ'd it and served it with a big green salad and some fresh (not locally grown) fruit. Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc, although we no longer recommend jumped ship to another distributor.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Dinnertime: A Palin-free zone

Last night was the night before school starts and the night before Ren returns to Smith for her senior year. We invited Uncle Thad and Aunt Lynn (the local French teacher) and James over for pizza. Homemade crust, one with sausage and mushrooms (a tiny corner mushroom-free for the anti-mushroom contingent) and the other with fresh basil, fresh tomatoes, and black olives. Lots of cheese. There was a big green salad and fresh mango, nectarine, and grape salad. Souverain merlot.

About half-way through we declared dinnertime a Palin-free zone, and will maintain that through November.

Relaxing afterward, Lynn treated Pinot Noir to a thorough brushing, and no doubt had to go home and de-furr herself.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Unusual things all in a day

The day began with breakfast with the Juneau School District teachers and staff in the long-awaited new high school, well over 15 years in the making, and a beautiful facility it is. My role was to host a table, on behalf of the arts groups for six teachers or staff members, providing table decorations and a little gift folder full of tickets, CDs, information, and such.

En route, the news that our governor had been selected as running mate for the Republican candidate, John McCain. (Alan and Didi, we'll definitely be your guests should the remarkable happen.) She is, as Martha put it, an "interesting" choice.

Working on grant applications all day, with a mouse, the small brown scurry kind not the white plastic kind, providing a regular distraction in my office. A smart mouse, it avoided the live traps all day.

For dinner, a white coho salmon. I don't believe I have ever seen white coho....white king is not unusual and quite my preferred salmon. John grilled the coho and served it with caper berries, and a big tossed salad, and a plate of voluptuously delicious nectarines and black grapes. The salmon was fine, but does not match the richness and elegance of its cousin.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

International cuisine

Last night, John was in Ketchikan, Ren at James's, Henry in San Francisco, and we had Servas guests from Italy and New Zealand.
I worked until 6:30 (invited the guests to join the meeting I was at, the Arts Roundtable) and then we came home to have dinner.
The travelers had been suffering from Fast Food Fatigue, so I made a big romaine salad with a little Gorgaonzola dressing and sauteed breaded chicken breasts on top. Added a fresh fruit salad, Dona Paula (The Italian guest's name is Paula!) Malbec, and we had a lovely evening chatting about our various countries, jobs, concerns, and life.


Early this summer that never happened, Henry had wanted to have our long-time, known them since before babies, raised the kids together, friends over once all the kids were home from college. Somehow the summer slithered past, and it is already time for the kids to go back to college, so we rallied a back-to-school gathering. Pretended it was summer, had a big stack of oven-fried chicken, potato salad, a big green salad, Joan brought a rhubarb crisp, Greg brought corn bread, Sarah made wonderful couscous salad, and I looked around the table at these big handsome/charmingly beautiful young people and remembered my grandmother saying what she was proudest of was that she had raised seven kids to adulthood. Amen!

It is amazing to think that we have been having dinner with these folks (the parents anyway) for close to 25 years or so.

PS, the young man in blond is "the" young man in Ren's life.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Home Alone

Last night, for the first time since mid-May, it was just John and I for dinner. As much as we enjoy and love the kids, it was pretty pleasant just the two of us. It was actually a lovely evening, so John grilled a flank steak, made me a baked potato, tossed a salad, and cut up a sublime melon.
Los Cardos Malbec.
Did the dishes and read Margery Allingham.
Pretty relaxing.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Lamb enchanted evening

Long overdue, a dinner with our friends Tony & Lori, and the Andy of Wednesday Nights Party in My Pants Party at the Viking fame, where last week they had a Big Lebowski party.

I was on house-cleaning, dessert, bread, and dressing the salad. John was on flying back from Ketchikan, lamb, green beans, and wild rice.

I got the house clean, a monumental accomplishment given the house fly infestation (apparently they are nesting in our ferns, which now live outside until I have time to repot them), made plum sorbet, a little tarter than hoped, and baked off some of the current cookies, a little darker than hoped, but still acceptable. I resurrected the sourdough starter the other day, and so made some nice fluffy sourdough bread.

John griledl the lamb roast (perfectly), made a wild rice/quinoa mix, steamed the green beans, and assembled a salad, which I tossed with the fresh olive oil our guests from Provence made, balsamic vinegar, some basil and salt and pepper.

Conversation remained mostly inbounds, at some point the gentlemen and Ren retired to the rumpus room to watch Big Lebowski, which Tony had not yet seen, and Lori and I discussed life, the universe and technology.

Tony planned to stop at the video store on the way home and procure his own copy of the movie.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Rain Haiku

Yesterday, the murky cloud cover got to me, so I decided to hold a Rain Haiku contest. We got about 20 entries (posting all of them on the Arts Council web site later today) but tellingly the winning one was:

This year's rasberries
rotting before ripening
eat your jam slowly.
- Jocelyn Clark

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Several lifetimes later-let them eat cake

Befittingly, we had French guests for a stretch this month. Charming ladies from Lascours near Marseille, the mother-in-law and student of a local girl gone French on us, here to visit her homeland. We had an (in-door) BBQ with brats, burgers, wonderful potato salad with mayo & hardboiled eggs, tossed salad, and I made a cheesecake because oddly, Philadelphia cream cheese is not available in France, and the mother-in-law loves cheesecake. All good. I think I am still speaking with a slight accent.

The month came with other very difficult life transitions, and dinners, always delicious and mostly cooked by John, became somber times for reflection, at least for the parents at the table.

There was one sort of weather for the month, overcast and murky, temperature 52°F, for so long folks started to check their thermometers to see if they were broken. Henry bolted for LA for a weekend. (He did in fact get to Roscoe's for chicken and waffles. He did in fact not call Cuzzin Martha and is therefore out of the will)

In fact, I believe I will have a Rain Haiku contest: Send your haiku about the weather, and winner gets a JAHC season ticket. Here's mine:
The Weather Forecast
Scattered showers, rain,

Chance of rain 90%,

mostly cloudy, rain.

Henry and I went up to Haines to celebrate my mother's 82nd birthday. She requested a picnic, and for a brief fleeting moment we thought we'd be able to have it out on the deck, but it clouded up and began to rain about 3 in the afternoon. The advantages: The chairs are more comfortable indoors, there is a bathroom, no ants, closer to the wine frig. We had baked ham, mom's potato salad (she makes the mustardy mayo with celery and hard boiled eggs kind) a wonderful tossed salad with candied nuts, baked beans, potato chips, and for dessert, I made mom's favorite, a cream puff cake. You take pate a choux, put it in a circle, bake until all puffed, filled with whipped cream and sliced sugared strawberries, and top with ganache. It is reputed to be good for breakfast as well. Photo attached.

It's been a round of chicken dishes since then: Salad with breaded chicken and Gorgonzola, stir-fried chicken and vegetables, and last night, Marcella Hazan's pan-roasted chicken with garlic and rosemary, with rice pilaf, Napa cabbage salad, sauteed kale and swiss chard, and a fresh fruit melange.

We are fortunate people.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Liberation (Day)!

After 10 months in a studio apartment with an abbreviated kitchen, which consisted of a abbreviated stove and no choppin' space, I have a real kitchen! (Ok, no one in New York has a real kitchen, except the the fancy people, but it's pretty darn close!)

And oh so timely, feeling liberated, I baked everyone's favorite crunchy chocolate chip cookies over the weekend and this afternoon treated myself to a new All-Clad 10 inch frying pan and sauteed two pieces of fish, Chris was thoroughly impressed--a delightful celebration of all that is liberated in this world. 

Tomorrow, another celebration of liberation--the women's lib kind--a NYAAF BBQ, anyone got a good potato salad recipe handy?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Eating and running

We've been eating, many times fabulously, and also running the up tempo life that comes with the long days of summer.
Philadelphia: (note to self - when flying to Philadelphia from now on, fly Seattle to Newark and then tak Amtrak to Philly, save time and money) Advice from the locals and ex-locals was to try Susanna Foo's. Martha introduced me to OpenTable, a really terrific on-line reservation service that lets you make dinner arrangements all over the country from the comfort of your computer chair, and I arranged to meet Neesy for dinner there. Good time catching up on the all the kids' lives, her move to North Carolina, and all the news from the East Coast side of the family, while, in an explosion of enthusiasm for wonderful Chinese food, ordering way too much: Hot & Sour Soup, Pot stickers, Moo shu pork, and eggplant, all delicious, served by a very gracious tuxedoed young man, and accompanied by a glass of Spanish bubbly and a sauvignon blanc. What a wonderful evening, thank you Neesy!
Regrettably, the conference got in the way of getting over to Reading Terminal for Bassetts Coffee Ice cream and a Philly Cheese Steak.
Back at the ranch, salmon is still hitting all time highs (Worried about high oil prices? Something can be done about that in terms of conserving, being fuel efficient, but worried about the scarcity of fresh wild king salmon? There's real trouble, and no easy solution in sight.) but every so often we've lucked into dinner with fresh fish lately (I see this morning there is a fillet of fresh halibut in the frig, courtesy of Ren's young man who was out fishing yesterday!) including dinner with our friends Charlotte and John and their family and friends.
The Arts Council is trying to start a fund raising program called TLC: A Taste of Local Culture for visitors: Folks can sign up for a dinner in a local home and proceeds go to help us pay the utility bills at the Arts & Culture Center. We are off to a slow and somewhat wobbly start. Charlotte and family along with John and Henry had dinner with a local couple who thought dinner out sounded good, and then visitors from Vancouver BC dropped into the JACC and signed up for the next day. No hosts available, John out of town, so Ren tidied up the house, I made some potato salad, green salad, fruit salad, and cookies, laid in a variety of Ben & Jerry's, invited Art Rotch, the new artistic director for Perseverance Theatre, and the Bennetts over, and we had fresh rockfish in caper sauce. Thank goodness Mike and Diane just live up the hill, I forgot the wine in the frig at work, so Mike filled in. (There is the perennial question about why a house with a wine sales person in it never has a stash of wine in the closet.)
In the olden days, back in the late '90s, we'd leave the Fourth of July Parade and head out the road for a picnic with friends. Nowadays, the kids are grown and have their own agendas, the friends are divorced, and walking the parade route exhausts me. John grilled steaks, Uncle Thad came up, we had a quiet, early dinner, I took a bath, and went to bed. Slept pretty well, thanks.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Father's Day

John preferred to cook his own Father's Day dinner: The young scion requested lamb as the main course, and it doesn't take too much to convince John that that is a good idea.

Lamb roast marinated most of the day in red wine, rosemary, and other herbs, then perfectly barbecued, accompanied by asparagus in a rich ("tasty yummy" says Ren) cream sauce with bacon and walnuts, wild rice steamed with quinoa and regular rice, green salad, and for dessert, his favorite cake: You take a package of the Nabisco chocolate wafers and whip up two cups of heavy cream with a bit of sugar and some vanilla, and glue the wafers together with the whipping cream. This time I formed it into a Bundt shape and put sliced fresh strawberried in the center. We enjoyed a Zenato wine somewhat, and really enjoyed the Pasanau Ceps Nous 2003 Priorat Red wine.

He enjoyed most of his gifts: Oddly enough he requested a new toaster, there was the requisite new shirt, probably in the wrong size, Henry's unusual but thoughtful gift of a shaver, shaving cream, and bronzing lotion, a book, the Intellectual Devotional , in hopes of turning the dinner conversations to a higher plane than the potty humor that they seem to become, all subtroverted by the cat's very special gift: Henry happened to notice something unusual on John's chair, and it turned out that some cat had barfed on the chair and John sat in much for Intellectual inspiration!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Isn't 19 the drinking age?

Sunday, I had a meeting of the Program Committee at the house at 4 pm for Champagne, blackberries, almonds and a discussion of the performers and events the Arts Council should present next season.
Meanwhile, John set about barbecuing free range organic chicken.
The concert season is looking good, the Nicholas F did not disappoint, and the chicken was fabulous. There was also a tossed green salad, I recall rice, and fresh fruit, and the children joined in enjoying the wines. An entertaining and enjoyable evening all around.

Monday, John brought a couple of new wines home to try, two reds, perhaps he will weigh in with a reminder of what they were, one of which I thought had a terrible "nose" but tasted nice and round, the other a little more austere but good, followed by a Torrontes, an Argentine wine with very floral and somewhat Riesling-like characteristics. These were accompanied by sauteed rockfish, oven-browned (we're using the oven and leaving the lights on like electricity is free again!) potatoes, tossed salad, and fruit. Henry enjoyed the wines, Ren was going out for dessert, so wisely abstained.

Tuesday, the weekly meeting night, I got home a little after 6:30, to find H-man still out and R spending the evening with her young man. John was making burgers, a tossed salad, sublime peaches and fruit salad, and Viognier. It seems H is a fan.


In the summertime, I try to get Concerts on Campus going out on the UAS Campus in the Noyes Pavilion. This means for six weekends, I am unavailable for dinner on Saturdays unless dinner is late.
We have some exceptional friends who didn't quite hold dinner, but I made it, at 9:30 pm, in time for the salad course.
There was a wonderful grilled lamb, potatoes, some ratatouille that John made, and I recall the wines were good, followed by a wonderful salad, and then topped off with baked or poached pears in a wonderful balsamic vinegar they brought from Italy.
Even the dog enjoyed this: We began to notice our napkins being snatched from our laps and returned damp and with holes in them.....
A wonderful end to a long day.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Dinner with Cousin Alan

This is the kind of family it is: John's Cousin Alan comes to town, a once in 17 year event, and John goes to Skagway for the day, missing the entire event. That's OK, I'm always up for a to-do, so I invited our friends Charlotte, whose husband was derailed by a Rotary whoopdeedoo, and the Bennetts. Planned to pull out all the stops: Fresh fish (yep, investigation confirms that this member of the somewhat picky East Coast contingent eats fish, specifically salmon) (oops the store is out of salmon....have to go with fresh spring halibut! hope he likes that. )(If he doesn't everyone else will.) sauteed in butter with a white wine and caper sauce, a potato salad, steamed bok choy, a tossed Romaine salad, AND I sprang out of bed early to bake a strawberry rhubarb pie with the first of the season's rhubarb.

Relaxing in the afternoon checking our various Facebook spaces, he noted, with an "Ugh" that another friend of his was baking a strawberry rhubarb pie....oh well! He can have ice cream! It was obviously the day to bake rhubarb pie!

Started the evening off with Negronis, some in martini glasses, some with soda over ice. (Pet peeve: unfill ice cube trays in the freezer....) moved on to a Giesen Sauvignon Blanc and a new Malbec that is quite nice. The Bennetts brought bruschetta to start.

Turns out several of the quests had qualms about rhubarb, but the servings seemed to disappear, and there is still some for breakfast this morming, so all good, I guess.

I enjoyed it, and a real treat to visit with Alan! In the category 5 Dork Department, we Facebooked across the living room to each to befriend you too!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Late Suppers

So last night, Debi wasn't going to get home till late, so we made up a dish from one of the recipe sheets that arrive with the "box".
So we enjoyed Spinach-ricotta-feta Griddle Cakes. Not as easy as we would have liked, but very tasty. Lots of ricotta gave them a softer texture, but the outside sealed up very well, brown and crisp.
With Nicolas Harnoncourt directing early Mozart, a Sidecar Cocktail to start with, and a light lager, Rolling Rock, with the cakes, all was pretty good.
Next time? Add a small salad, maybe some cut tomatoes, and to drink, maybe a fruity pinot gris or a Vouvray. A more classical French luncheon.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Picnics in the parking lot

The sunny weather continued yesterday and so we sent out the call: Hotdogs in the JACC parking lot at noonish! Members of the original Parking Lot Picnic Team, Cathy Thomas (thankfully able to bring her table top grill, since the one I bought wasn't put together yet and proved a challenge for the three capable folks trying to assemble it quickly) and Helena Fagen turned up, Andy Kline and Jeff Brown drove all the way from KTOO to the JACC backyard lot in Andy's hot red Miata convertible, top down of course, Kari and Karen set the table and chairs up, Leonard came, Jeanine and Christina, Madeleine arrived, Albert joined in, Karen's husband Alan and their dog Maple came, Jeff's daughter Callie showed up with her yearbook (last day of school today!) and a friend, Rosemarie came, Coco joined us. For a spontaneous event it was OK! We had Alaska Reindeer sausages, ballpark franks (with sauerkraut!), tofu burgers, chicken dogs, potato salad, chips, more chips, salsa, Dove Bar mini ice creams, rum balls, chocolates, blood orange soda, cookies, mini-donuts, watermelon.

We all felt very Continental sitting under the tree around the table chatting and eating.

Agreed, we need a flag to run up the pole when it's Picnic Day, because these days can't be counted on and they really have to be pretty impromptu. So: Sunny Day? head over to 350 Whittier around noon....the grills are standing by!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Negronis & Salad & Rock Slides

John went to Argentina on a business trip and was introduced to the Negroni, a cocktail made of equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari, stirred with ice and served with an orange slice in a nice big Martini glass. Varying reports from "I hate Campari" to "What is that awful taste" to "Count Negroni has changed my life."

Juneau is enjoying spectacular weather this past couple of days, so yesterday John and I tried our hand at concocting some Negronis and sat out on the deck enjoying the evening prior to the Hot Tuna concert. Refreshing they were (the Negronis, that is). At the time I thought they would benefit from a bit of ice and perhaps would be good with soda....and indeed, cleaning the bar this morning I found the old Mr. Boston's and lo and behold, Negronis come straight up in old fashioned glasses or in high balls, over ice with soda. I have to say, Gin & tonic is all very well and good, but I think I've found a new summer favorite.

Today John has been abed with some horrible cold, and I've been cleaning the house in anticipation of Ren coming home, so about cocktail hour, I tried the club soda version, sat out with Coco on the deck watching the world go by, quite happily I must say. Roused myself to go make a little supper for Henry and myself:
Breaded and sauteed chicken breasts with a light lemon butter, with a spinach, red onion, hardboiled egg, and marinated fresh mushroom salad. Of course some fresh fruit (the rest of the orange, some kiwi, and mango).

Henry noticed the fresh bottle of gin on the counter and got interested, so he had a Negroni soda version too. I think he liked it. I had a little white wine (Norton Torrontes) to round it out, and finished with a dish of vanilla ice cream with chocolate chips and walnuts.

John managed to join us for a little bowl of avgolemono soup, which exhausted him and he went straight back to bed.

Not to worry about the hillside sloughing off in our back yard last night about 4:20 am, blocking the Dan Moller trail and looking like impending doom yet to come. We lived in the avalanche zone for years! How ironic that now we are in the path of a hillside failure.

Another Negroni? If we look out over the water, we won't notice the hill or lack thereof.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Mother's Day.

Sunday, weather-wise, was OK, in fact down-right not bad for Juneau. I spent the day with a rake and some pruning shears uncovering the garden and fluffing it up. Lost the mint, lost a lot of primroses, lost the dicentra. All the more reason to head to the garden store for provisions. Meanwhile, John prepared a fabulous Mother's Day dinner, with Nicholas Feuillatte in a chilled flute to start, then Charlene's Salad (fry up some bacon in olive oil with garlic and walnuts, and pour over romaine that has chevre liberally sprinkled on it and lemon juice and toss it all vigorously and sit right down immediately to eat it) then grilled Filet Mignon and some fresh veggies. The red wine was excellent, Redemption Zinfandel. Then we called Thad and Lynn to come up for ice cream with blackberries and chocolate sauce.

Looking forward to having the kids back home soon.

What not to move from Juneau

Saturday, an action-packed day, including presenting the case before the city Finance Committee for funding the Arts Council, an activity guaranteed to cause a gag-reflex, and Birthday dinner! Fresh winter king salmon, grilled, with a lovely white wine, and then off to the Symphony's Artful Instrument Dessert Auction, where we saved ourselves about $1000 by not being the winning bidders on a fabulously painted violin done by local iconographer Charles Rohrbacher, and where, perhaps it was the wine, but I had fun dancing, until my dancing partner insisted on going home.

So the one reason to stay in Juneau (or at least Alaska): Fresh Winter King Salmon. Where else could we get such fish?

(to the right: Jim Fowler's Demonic Cello. We didn't win that one either)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Dinner with friends

Monday was a big hoopdeedoo for the Alaska Brewery's new package of their Alaskan Amber beer and half the town turned out. Luckily, we ran into our friends Candy and Dick, and while trying to figure out when would be a good evening to go to dinner at their house, realized RIGHT THEN would be a good evening to go to dinner at their house. We downed the beers (excellent IPA) and ran home to pick up some wine and then went over to conserve electricity by having BBQ'd pork tenderloin in the twilight at their house with their daughter Amanda.(The photo is a bit blurry due to the dimness, I am sure, rather than the beers.)

Candy made a gingery marinade/sauce for the perfectly done pork, a wonderful spinach salad with strawberries and balsamic vinegar and goat cheese pronounced better than the one at Island Pub, which is good but can't hold a candle to Candy's. We chatted into the evening, concluding that Rotary is worth the bother when you get to meet such nice people through the organization. (Candy was Rotary president the same year as John and we have become friends through that connection.)

"Incredibly relaxing and nothing better than good dinner among friends with polite and easy conversation, although I prefer not knowing that someone is wetting their pants every time I send them an email" said John.

Saturday, May 3, 2008


We've been holding "Rent Parties" to raise some money to help with the monthly expenses of running the new arts center. A local group donates a gig, folks come after the First Friday Gallery Walks, pay-as-you-can, and its a party. We've added having a local bar come and set up, and decided we need to add food. Happened to be talking with the person in Juneau most well-known for her tamales, and suggested she do something like tamales. She said not enough time to do that, but what about this new Mexican healthy food called Bionicos: fresh fruit with a creamy sauce and grains on top, very delicious. Sure!

They came in with an array of beautiful fruits, the special creamy sauce, and a variety of toppings: Thinly sliced strawberried, apples, bananas, grapes, pineapple, all fresh and artfully arranged in a little boat with a cocktail parasol on top. You pick your toppings: the cream, coconut, granola, almonds, m&ms (of course). So good! So refreshing!

They hope to go into business here, and I hope they make it. Bionicos are my new fave.

Cooking in the Dark

John and I flew home from Paris on the "milk run" and while on the ground in Ketchikan, my trusty iPhone picked up a signal from somewhere with the news that avalanches had taken down four of the towers that carry power to Juneau from a dam a bit south of town. This is bad news, as this is the primary power source for the community. We flew on through an incredible downfall of about 8 inches of snow into Juneau, and got home to learn that power costs would escalate to 500% until they can get the lines and towers rebuilt, at least three months. Yikes, we heat with electricity.

Hmm. Barbecue sounds good. Chinese food in the wok is fast and uses heat only briefly. Shared dinners, only one family's kitchen needs to be used. We don't need the extra frig in the garage, and room temperatures of 60° are quite comfortable. Split some wood, have a woodfire. Candlelight dinners, and directly to bed under the down comforter. Luckily, the days are getting longer and we have very large (inefficient for heat purposes) windows that let in a lot of light. Turn off, unplug. Hang the clothes out to dry (no clothes line or clothes pins left in town!) $2000/month will be a stretch!

Last night, I got home well past natural light, from a wonderful "Rent Party" at the JACC, where the $2000/month is really going to hurt, and so cooked up a little supper in the dark. Sauteed polenta with mozarella cheese melted over it, topped with a sauté of green onions, garlic, mushrooms, fresh basil, tiny tomatoes, and a good grinding of black pepper. Candlelight, and computer screen glow. A little wine would have been nice, but I forgot to pick some up.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Last Lunch

Ren babysits for a charming little boy near her home in the 17th. Monday evening, she was to take care of him a bit, and then we were going to have dinner, so John went along and had aperitifs in a cafe around the corner. Moseying around the neighborhood waiting for her, he found a restaurant that looked sleek and elegant and like a place we needed to try, so the next day, our last in Paris, we trundled off in that direction. Found it, and indeed it looked sleek and elegant, but alas, no one seemed to be eating in it. Bad sign. We had noticed a little hole in the wall sort of place a block or so back, so went back. Full of folks, smelled great. In we went. Decor a bit like the Silverbow here: a little of this and a little of that on the walls. Aha! named Le Puce (the flea market). The menu was a little obscure for us, unusual, because usually we are good in the culinary French dept. The people at the table next to us were served a terrific looking & smelling salad, so Ren had whatever they had. John ordered a salad of roasted peppers and stuff, and just for me, also ordered a mushroom dish. I ordered roulades of courgette with mixture of chevre and herbs, actually an appetizer so the waitress doubled the order. A nice white wine. Oh wow! The roulades were delicate and delicious, the salad phenomenal, but the MUSHROOMS! Served in a basket made of melted Parmesan cheese, lightly breaded perhaps, and sauteed up, to die for. If you are going, we'll try to find the address.

Lunch and Balls

The French eat these swell sandwiches, which would never fly over here, for lunch: About a foot long piece of great baguette, split open with a single layer of some addition like ham or cheese, or roast chicken. You see folks munching them on the metro, in the parks, as they walk along. Alec and Sharon had their favorite place, le Boulangépicier, an Alain Ducasse eatery. We stopped there for lunch one day, and bread another, it was so good. We grabbed sandwiches at another boulangerie, I don't recall the name, one of Ren's faves I think, en route to the Tour Eiffel, and ate along the Seine. About this time, Ren expounded at length on how she had noticed that France is full of balls. And tits. The dogs all have their balls, the statues all have balls, or if they are females, they all have tits. We walked along noticing the balls.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Back for more, and more takes on new meaning

We went back to Shakespeare and Company, a bookstore well worth the visit, (I actually read Bleak House on the way over and then read the Julia Child book about her life in France on the way back, I think Martha recommended that, and heartily agree!) and then decided to go back to our favorite restaurant, Le Loir dans la Thiere. This time, John ordered a lamb stew which was absolutely incredible, to die for stew. I had a yummy spinachy thing and we can't recall what Ren had, but she loved it. I had strolled past the dessert table on my way back to the restrooms (true test of a restaurant: how are the restrooms? These are EXCELLENT) and spied an apple tart that looked pretty good. So when the waiter suggested dessert, we were in! But John asked her what she recommended, she said the tarte citron was their specialty.

Two things you need to know:
1) John does not like meringue
2) The first time we were here, the dessert table had a meringue pie dessert that topped all Greek diner meringues in height and voluptuousness.

You know what the end of the story is: He order the tarte citron. We got the meringue to the sky. Yes, the citron part was fabulous. The meringue was the most velvety smooth and silky, and tallest, meringue ever. If you were ever going to like a meringue, this would be it. Three of us were unable to finish it.

Sunday dinner

Ren preferred eating in while we were in France, but we finally prevailed and convinced her that we came to France to enjoy eating out. It was Sunday when we accomplished this. On Sunday, French folks eat home. Nothing is open!
We asked her host family for a recommendation for a place we could have a nice dinner out, and they were perplexed at first and then recalled a place near Notre Dame that was open on Sundays, La Bouteille d'Or. We walked through the drizzle, past Shakespeare & Company (note to self: go back when open, on Monday) to the restaurant, and unsettlingly, we were the only people in the place.
The waiter was young, nice and then we were turned over to a young person who seemed to have completed her restaurant training in the US: Unlike most of the people who had served us so far, this person avoided making eye contact with us for almost the entire meal.
The food was fine, if not memorable. I think John had lentils and osso bucco? and Ren went for veal, and I had a filet done the French way (why did the waiter ask me how I wanted the meat if it only comes the French way, which luckily was how I like it?). Berthillon Glacier ices for dessert. A nice Croze Hermitage. A pleasant, but not necessary to repeat, meal.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

La Petite Rose

One of my favorite cookbooks is Joie de Vivre, which talks about how in France, about 3 o'clock, one takes a break for some refreshment, usually chocolate in nature.

One of the drizzly days, we waited for Ren over a glass of wine in a café across from her metro stop and one of the many carousels (How can you not like a city filled with carousels?) and when she joined us, we skittered next door to one of her favorite patisseries, La Petite Rose. I think John let her have a little of her gateau.

Eating in and liking it

Oddly, our daughter preferred to eat in while we were in Paris. This was somewhat disappointing, since John and I eat in a lot at home, and would enjoy the opportunity to eat out in a city filled with good eating out places. However, Paris is also filled with good eating in options: Picards. Monoprix. The French have perfected frozen food! I am moving to Paris and never cooking again!
We were staying in a little apartment, nicely appointed with lovely china, an eentsy kitchen with all the essentials, and very nice large wine glasses, so eating in was pleasant, as was the opportunity to just sit and chat with each other. (And so nice that Paris has little street crime so not too much of a worry for Ren to go home late alone! Even if we did live just around the corner from one of the historic "ladies of the night" sections of town. my gracious.)
So one night it was noodles and fruit from Monoprix, and one night it was moussaka from Picards. Amazing.

Trés mignon

While John was at Rotary, and then visiting with Guatier, the Rotary exchange student, Ren and I took the opportunity to visit the Bon Marché unsupervised.

Apparently, there is a tradition at Smith that for Convocation, the women show up pretty much in their all-together, with the exception of the seniors, who wear hats.

The Bon Marché has swell hats.
I felt that Ren should have a chapeau for her senior Convocation.

Our favorite place

John was at Rotary, Ren was studying, I had the day to get my hair cut and mosey around on my own. Rambled through the drizzle into the Marais, into the Jewish and gay section, got peckish, and tried to eat at the Jewish deli there, but it was packed, saw something that looked cute and smelled good, so opened the door to discover it was packed and had a line. Noted the address (3 Rue de Rosier) and followed some other disappointed folks around the corner to a Dome that looked kind of OK. But not really. The menu included Croque Madames, which I didn't know what was, but know I like croque monsieurs, so decided to try it. Hmmm, comes with a sunnyside egg on top. Not fond of sunny side eggs, and the salad was a little wilted. Oh well.

However, the next day, I was able to convince the team to go back to 3 Rue de Rosier with me. What a find! Cozy funky theatrical place with old armchairs, movie posters, and a friendly atmosphere.
John had lentils & sausage - wonderful, Ren chose linguine (how to pronounce linguine in French?) with a lemon sauce - delicate and delicious, and I had a spinach and Camembert tart - so good.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Berthillon Glacier

Conveniently, the Sainte-Chapelle, Marché aux fleurs et oiseaux, and the Notre Dame and are located on the Ile de la Cité and Ile Saint Louis, where Berthillon Glacier is. A quick buzz through the cathredrals, and on to the real business at hand, superb ice cream. The seating area, elegant and cozy, with charming waitress, a perfect afternoon activity.

The glacés were scrumptious, and I had something I'd only made from cookbooks but never had as the genuine article, Poires Belle Helene. Scrumptious vanilla ice cream and pear ice, a bit of sponge cake, poached pear, enrobed in chocolate and garnished with am almond tuile. Ah.


Ren and James found a wonderful Tapas bar, les Piétons tapas bar, in the Marias near Les Halles and Ren wanted to go there. The first night we went, they were crammed full, so we made a reservation for the next night and asked for a recommendation for another place in the neighborhood (a strategy that worked in Copenhagen) and were referred around the corner to an odd spaghetti place, in fact called Curieux Spaghetti Bar, designed particularly to make the older folks in the group feel older, and where John had possibly the worst beer. Something called blonde or white beer. Don't have that. It is nasty.

Ren and John shared a big pot of spaghetti and meat balls, and I had excellent mushroom risotto.

The next night, Tapas! Delicious, fun, great waiter, bring us more! and more!

Ren had the last bite.

Monday, April 21, 2008

John goes to Rotary

John enjoys going to Rotary wherever he visits, and he particularly looked forward to Rotary in Paris, giving him a chance to visit with Gautier, the French Rotary exchange student. Remarkably elegant and enjoyable (and expensive) lunch.

One of these is the Rotary lunch, one is Napoleon's dining room. Can you tell which is which?

Mariage Frere

Tops on the list: Go to Mariage Frere and have tea. In the Marais, right near (surprising how small Paris really can walk everywhere.) our little apartment.
Tea was delightful, served by charmingly efficient young men in white tie and tail coats. Delicious scones and preserves. I had Afternoon Tea, Ren had Birthday Party Tea, and goodness knows what they put in John's teapot.

OK, where shall we eat next?

We've been in France!
April 6, Juneau to Seattle. Lunch at Anthony's in the airport.
Foolishly I did not have the crab/mango salad with chowder like I usually do.
John had French fries, to get in the mood.
When we landed, it was snowing! Bienvenue Alaskans!
By afternoon it melted off and settled into a typical damp chilly day. Lebanese food for lunch (delicious), then aperitifs at cafe near our apartment.

Dinner in our apartment, Chinese noodles from the Monoprix!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

More Food Fans

Our good friend and fellow food fan Hunter arrived last night so we ate late. John designated me as airport shuttle while he prepared a delightful repast of roasted potatoes, mixed vegetables, a tossed green salad with freshly made garlicky croutons, strawberries and kiwi in kirschwasser, and just as we left the airport, he put the steak on the barbecue. We arrived in short order, and he was just contemplating whether to whack the steak into three portions or slice it neatly into thin slices. Personally, I got my portion nicely fanned out. Capped with Hedges CMS and I think Hunter was drinking something called Meantime, and we talked well past our bed time. A fine repast.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

How to have a swell dinner party!

1) Have a house that is a complete disaster and has not been cleaned since maybe the previous Halloween. (very scary)
2) Have your husband/chef be out of town for the past couple of days.
3) Invite a bunch of people over you know pretty well, but maybe have never had over all at the same time before. Hope you can remember how many people said they will come.

Here's what will happen:
A) Your fabulous friend Annie, known for her incredible soups and stews, will volunteer to make Columbian Chicken Stew and show up with said stew, all the accoutrements, so that you can clean the Haunted House and only need to provide salad (mixed greens with broccoli and tomatoes in lemon vinaigrette), cornbread, and dessert (currant cookies, we keep the dough in the freezer on the ever ready, and a Mrs. Rizzo's Lemon cake leftover from Wedneday's birthday party) and some fruit salad (mango, tangelo, kiwi).

b) Other fabulous friends will bring delicious appetizers - melon wrapped in prosciutto, and furthermore volunteer to take care of Coco during the French Expedition.

C) Wine, including the ever popular Veramonte SB will show up.

D) It will be a sunny day.

E) John will get back just as the dinner is served.

It will be a swell party.