Friday, February 22, 2008

Meyer lemons

Yesterday's mail brought us an unexpected and most welcome treat: a box FULL of beautiful Meyers lemons and fresh rosemary in bloom. A good friend and excellent cook who winters in Carmel Valley (although we know her heart is in Juneau in October when it is pelting rain and gusting 30) has, alas, an abundance of fresh lemons. Like kittens, they arrived with just a note that said "we need a home".

We squeezed and shaved some over the plain chicken breasts and added a bit of the rosemary, to serve over basmati rice, with broccoli, with a salad and fruit of course, and a melange of wine. I think I chose the Pinot Grigio, and I don't recall what John was drinking. We spoke of this and that, I think it was last night that John revealed that he'd had a dream that I rented Disneyland for his birthday and you all came and everyone had a wonderful time, which reminds me, his birthday is coming up, and in spite of him claiming that he doesn't want anything, I think the stakes are higher than a surprise bowling party this year....Although we haven't done that in a while, and maybe, if he doesn't read this, we could pull it off again. Will you come?

This morning I (first photographed the items as you see) bundled many of them up and took them to the Juneau Arts & Culture Center and arranged them decoratively in a basket with the note attached.

The REACH Canvas program uses our Main Hall while their facility is being renovated. This is a program that uses art to integrate folks with a variety of disabilities into the community, in a way I think it is the perfect and highest use of the arts. They do some dang swell stuff: Yesterday ceramic vases, they've been making masks, and banners and paper mache sculptures. Today, I noticed they took some of the lemons and arranged them in a colander and drew pictures of them that were just delightful.

At the end of the day, as I was locking up, I noticed all the lemons had found a home, just a couple of sprigs of rosemary remained. I put them in a vase and hope they will root, and hope that spring, which seemed very close today with the sun shining brightly, is indeed near at hand. Last year, we were at 6 feet and still digging as I recall.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Veal Chops and Shepherd's Pie

Not in the same evening, of course.

John found veal chops unbelievably enough, marked down even. He sauteed them nicely, put some mushroomy sauce over, and we had salad and fruit. Enough leftover for.....

Shepherd's Pie last night made from all the baby animals, lamb & veal. Good friends over for dinner after safely and successfully seeing the Flamenco Vivo troupe off on the airplane. Whew! Delicious! there was Marques de Caceres in their honor, and Lindemans Reserve Shiraz, and lots of conversations about movies we liked (Rear Window, Grace Kelly is gorgeous, it all started by trying to describe someone as being like the principal in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, which was filmed in our friends community, but perhaps the likening is not really a complimentary description) which led to discussion of Mad Magazine and what a swell publication that was in the day, even though John's dad opposed it (wasn't that the whole idea?) and can be still pretty funny.

A lovely evening topped off by a little walk with the dog and a hot bath.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Popcorn & Beer

The doctor my mother had when she was pregnant with my brother told her that beer and popcorn are a perfectly balanced meal. Handy information.

John is off at a Rotary Wine Tasting/fundraiser tonight, I have been completely worried and stressing about the Flamenco Dance event coming on Sunday, worked late tonight getting the Hall set up for a children's fundraising (do we do anything else but fundraisers?) concert tomorrow, so came home, walked the dog, put on my big fuzzy bathrobe and big fuzzy slippers, and had popcorn (cooked over medium heat in a heavy metal pot, then finished with a drizzle of butter, salt and some butterkase) and a beer in a frosted glass (Birra Moretti, not much of a head, but pleasantly bitter and refreshing) with a honeysweet Bosc pear and Carla Cook on the stereo.

Off to read Plato and the Platypus. Maybe I'll sleep tonight.

Good Cod! Great Rack!

Fresh, tender, moist, lightly breaded and fried in butter with a squeeze of lemon, parsley and capers, over quinoa and rice. Fresh green salad, the exquisite blood oranges, was it Argiolas? I think that was Monday.

Was the chicken on Tuesday?

Wednesday we worked a 50th birthday for a friend (she had a fundraising wine tasting and silent auction to benefit Cancer Connection, in our facility), came home late and had leftovers. I had a dish of comfort ice cream too. There was wine.

Valentine's Day is Lamb for sure. A perfectly done rack of lamb cooked "simply" in some wonderful red winey and herbed sauce, risotto, snap peas with many mushrooms, Romaine salad. blood oranges, and really good apples and pears. A variety of red wines. Lamentations about the state of the world and some particular events during the day, the names will not be mentioned to protect the innocent. Oh My! Lynn blew through with two molten chocolate cakes! Incredible.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Little Lamb Shall Feed Them...

Continuing the late evening returns idea, Debi had late patients and I had a meeting at seven. So the question was, do I start cooking before I leave? Or do I prep and cook when I get back and both of us are actually home?
Then there was the third option, which was do nothing, go to the meeting, and start everything when I returned.
Number three is the Winna!

We started with a couple of Princeton Cocktails:
1.5 oz gin
.5 oz dry vermouth
.5 oz simple syrup
.5 oz fresh lime juice
Chill cocktail glass. Place ingredients into shaker, fill with ice. Shake oh so vigorously, strain into glass. Repeat as needed or required.

The meal itself was Curried Lamb. We used another of our reliable standby authors, Lorna Sass, and her terrific collection of pressure cooker recipes Cooking Under Pressure, 1989. Served it with kashi and all the usual curry fixin's like raisins, chutney, peanuts, coconut flakes, pepper flakes, sour cream.

Lamb Curry (Pressure Cooker)

1 TBS oil
2 cups coarsely chopped onion
2 tsp finely minced garlic (just a starting point)
1 TBS finely minced ginger
2 cups water
2.5 pounds boned lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into 2" cubes (that is a lot of lamb, we use 2 pounds and cube to 1")
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
2 large carrots, scrubbed and coarsely chopped
.5 cup raisins, preferably golden
1 TBS plus 2 tsp mild curry powder (another starting point, we are up to about 3 TBS of the Madras)
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste (really, an eighth?)
Salt to taste
Garnish: Finely chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)

HEAT the oil in the cooker. SAUTE the onions and garlic until the onions are soft (I add about half of the lamb here to start browning some of it). STIR in the remaining ingredients except the cilantro. LOCK the lid in place and over high heat bring to high pressure. ADJUST heat to maintain high pressure and cook for 12 minutes. Let the pressure drop naturally or use quick-release method. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow any excess steam to escape.
Drain off the liquid, if you wish. (Very soupy, excellent for soaking into rice or just sopping up with bread). Adjust seasonings and garnish with cilantro.

Sass's notes add that you can thicken the sauce by stirring in about 1/3 cup of finely ground almonds while simmering over medium heat. We like the soppiness factor.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Midnight snack

Heavy snow, high wind warnings. All flights to and from Juneau canceled. Juneau Arts & Humanities major fund raiser for the year scheduled for the evening. Carrying stuff across the parking lot from the Arts & Culture Center to the Centennial Hall where it is held required driving the 100 yards. Maybe we'll be shut down by the Fire Dept for inadequate egress due to drifting snow blocking doors and sidewalks. Maybe no one will show, it is too dangerous to be driving.

Miraculously, it all came together, John made it back from Sitka in time for Act II of the Wearable Art Show and went home about 11 to make some form of meal for us: Two slightly freezer burned hamburger patties (left from the off to college BBQ in August?)made cheeseburgers, some crispy oven fired Yukon Golds, a tossed salad, and some Jaja. Also an Advil.

To bed and now back up and rejuvenated for the second show this afternoon. Still snowing with heavy snow warnings still in effect. But it's fluffy and easy for the Mini to just blast through. I hope.

Friday, February 8, 2008


An unexpected flight delay gives me the time to answer Alec's question.

I have never actually used one of the tumblers but they are selling a lot of them so there are a bunch of folks out there who don't seem to care.

My guess is that unless you are constantly holding the glass in the palm of your hand and drinking white wine that no having a stem would not make any difference. The stemless glass was discussed at length at one of our staff meetings and it was a little on the controversial side. One person likened it to "drinking out of mason jars" but the boss, who is seldom wrong, differed.

I don't believe they can be machine washed but if you have little kids and dogs running around they might save you a broken glass or two.

Nancy and I have both had busy weeks so we had two fall back position meals. Last Sunday I ran into an old friend of mine at the Ketchikan airport and he gave me some of his homemade sausage. It's very good so on Wednesday we had the dad special of "empty fridge, mix with noodles, cover with cheese and bake".

Last night we had the other dad special of try to empty all of the little jars, mix, pour on chicken and bake. The last version included, cherry bbq sauce, pumpkin butter, oyster sauce, mustard, Thai chili paste and tomato sauce left over from the "mix with noodles and bake" evening. Serve with over roasted potatoes.




Sorry that I have not been able to get to your question about Riedel "tumblers". I will post something this weekend.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Cooking With National Vegetables

Debi has moved into a new job, with, shall we say, open ended ending hours. So the challenge is to produce meals that do not require a set serving time.
Is anyone else thinking soup?
Tonight is one of our all time favorites if not the actual number one favorite, Leek and Potato Soup.
We use Bernard Clayton's The Complete Book of Soups and Stews, pub. 1984.
I give the printed recipe and our usual changes are in parenthesis.

2 quart water, boiling (1 qt. water/1 qt. chicken stock)
2 tsp salt (3)
1 pound potatoes, peeled, quartered, sliced (we plus up to whatever we feel like)
1 pound leeks, white part only, split, cleaned and finely sliced (about four med. leeks)
3 TBLS unsalted butter
1 tsp freshly chopped parsley or chives, to garnish

Bring water to a rapid boil in large (4 qt) saucepan. ADD salt, potatoes, leeks. COVER and COOK at a gentle boil until potatoes begin to fall apart, about 35 - 40 minutes. CRUSH into small pieces with a spoon or fork against the side of the sauce pan. REMOVE from heat.
ADD butter and pour into warmed bowls. GARNISH with sprinkling of greenery.

This soup may be refrigerated, and reheated 2 or 3 days later, or if frozen, up to three months. (As if it will ever make it to the frig or freezer).

Hoo yeah. Serve with some crusty bread and chunks of Brie or Cammenbert.

Steak Salad

John had a wine tasting last night at a local establishment that shall go nameless. I got home late, like 7:45. This calls for a candidate for the On-the-table-in-5-minutes cookbook: Steak Salad. Accomplished quickly only because a) we had left over flank steak, b) John made some yummy Basil Creamy salad dressing, c) the lettuce was already washed and ready, d) we had a little lump of Italian gorgonzola that needed to be eaten e) it is not too hard to slice up blood oranges and kiwi f) the wine was already open. Pile the lettuce on the plate. Put a dollop of dressing on the lettuce. Arrange thin slices of beef decoratively around the lettuce. Slice a few cherry tomatoes and scatter them about. Crumble up the Gorgonzola over the whole, lightly salt and yes I would like some freshly ground black pepper please. Put the fruit in a nice glass dish.

Tasty repast, and easy to make one extra and put it in the frig for John when he gets home from these events where oddly for what one thinks of as the hospitality business, he never gets fed. I know why we don't eat out often in Juneau. Just eat home. You should come by.

Sunday, February 3, 2008


Best Wines for Your Health
Roger Corder, PhD
William Harvey Research Institute or years, scientists theorized that the "French Paradox" -- the phenomenon of relatively low rates of heart disease among the French, who are known for their rich, fatty foods -- may be due, in part, to the daily consumption of red wine.
Now: The cumulative body of scientific evidence shows that moderate consumption of red wine not only reduces the risk for heart disease, but also for stroke and metabolic syndrome (a constellation of health problems that can lead to heart disease and diabetes). Wine also helps people live longer and avoid dementia. Only recently, however, have scientists begun to identify the specific compounds in red wine that confer health benefits.
Trap: Mass-produced, sweet red wines with high alcohol content (above 14%) do not offer high levels of health-promoting chemicals.
What you must know to choose the most healthful wines -- and the best options for nondrinkers...
Recent research shows that white wine may offer some of the same health benefits of red wine, such as protection from heart disease, but the bulk of scientific evidence focuses on red wine.
Latest developments: Animal experiments show that polyphenols -- chemicals found abundantly in dark and/or colorful foods, such as red and purple grapes, cocoa and pomegranates -- can stop atherosclerosis (fatty buildup in the arteries). That's because polyphenols affect the endothelium (cells lining the arteries), causing blood vessels to widen (vasodilate), increasing blood flow.
Breakthrough: In November 2006, English scientists published a paper in Nature -- a renowned scientific journal -- showing that...
The most potent polyphenols in red wines are procyanidins, healthful plant substances that over time become condensed tannins, compounds that give an astringent taste to wine. The more procyanidins consumed, the greater degree of vasodilation that occurs.
Regions in Europe with the highest rates of proven longevity produce wines with two to four times more procyanidins than do other regions.
Examples: Many varieties of Bordeaux wines from France and Chianti wines from Italy.
What you may not know: Resveratrol is often mentioned as the key heart-protecting component of red wine. But to get enough resveratrol to benefit the heart, you would need to drink 1,000 quarts of wine a day. Resveratrol supplements haven't been proven safe or effective.
Many factors influence the level of procyanidins in red wine.
Certain varieties of grapes, including cabernet sauvignon and malbec, are higher in procyanidins than other red and white grapes. Other positive factors include the altitude of the vineyard (the higher, the better)... a slower ripening process... a lower yield (the amount of grapes produced per vine)... and older vines.
Useful: Wines described as having "firm" tannins are more likely to have high levels of procyanidins than wines with "soft" or "ripe" tannins. Look for this description in wine reviews and at the Web sites of wine retailers, such as K&L Wine Merchants ( and, Inc. (
The most healthful way to drink red wine is in the classic French style -- one or two small glasses at lunch and/or with dinner, as food slows alcohol absorption. Most research shows that women should not exceed five ounces of wine per day, and men should limit their daily consumption to 10 ounces.
When red wine is consumed in excess, its health benefits are outweighed by the risks associated with alcohol abuse, including increased risks for many types of cancer, as well as heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
Caution: Drinking wine quickly or on an empty stomach speeds alcohol absorption, increasing the risk for high blood pressure.
If you prefer not to drink red wine, consider these procyanidin-rich foods...
Dark chocolate. Look for a bittersweet or extra-dark chocolate, with 70% to 85% cacao. One ounce of dark chocolate delivers the amount of procyanidins in four ounces of red wine.
Caution: To limit calories, don't eat more than one ounce to one-and-a-half ounces of dark chocolate daily.
Apples. Red Delicious and Granny Smith have high levels of procyanidins. One medium-sized apple is equivalent to four ounces of red wine.
Cranberry juice. An eight-ounce serving of juice containing 25% cranberry is roughly equivalent to a four-ounce glass of red wine. Choose low-sugar versions with at least 25% cranberry content.
Other sources of heart-healthy procyanidins: Raspberries, blackberries and strawberries, Concord grape juice, pomegranates, walnuts, pinto beans and cinnamon.
Laboratory analyses of more than 400 red wines at William Harvey Research Institute show that the following have high levels of healthful procyanidins...
Argentina. Cabernet Sauvignon, from Bodegas Catena Zapata.
Australia. Cabernet Sauvignon, from Wynns.
California. Cabernet Sauvignon, from Robert Mondavi Napa Valley Reserve... and many other Napa Valley cabernets.
Chile. Cabernet sauvignons from Veramonte.
France. Large numbers of Bordeaux wines -- both at the top end of the market and modestly priced -- have high or better-than-average procyanidin levels.
Italy. In Tuscany, wines made from the Sangiovese grape that tested well include Il Colombaio di Cencios Chianti Classico Riserva.
In Sardinia, where wine-drinkers are particularly long-lived, a good choice is Rosso Superiore del Mandrolisai.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Chicken Piccata - Isn't technology FUN?

Dinner on my own again, John is still in Ketchikan for their Wearable Arts Show, which, by the way, is worth making a visit to Alaska in February for: You stay at the Cape Fox in Ketchikan and help John pour wine and have a heck of a good time, then you come to Juneau the next weekend and stay with us, and go to our Wearable Art show, stay tuned for photos.

Anyway. Approach it this way: First cut up the very delicious blood orange into thin slices, then one half a mango, then a perfectly ripe banana. Layer these together in a nice glass: Fruit Cup Parfait. Then. Prepare some really good broccoli (I realize Bush the Elder would find this a contradiction in terms) for steaming and put some of the vat o' rice in the micro ready to reheat. Next. Chop some parsley and get the Costco sized jar of capers, which in spite its size managed to hide, out of the frig. Then. Make a salad dressed with red wine vinegar, finely grated lemon rind & Parmesan cheese
olive oil kosher salt and roughly ground pepper. Now. Bone out the chicken breasts (always get bone in, then you can make good soup later, two meals for the price of one) and lay them between two pieces of plastic or wax paper, and pound them thin. Heat a nice bit of butter and some peanut oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Dip in beaten egg and bread crumbs. Give the left over beaten eggs to the dog. Saute in the hot butter/oil, (the breaded chicken, not the dog) lightly salting each side. Get the broccoli steaming and reheat the rice. Put the rice on the plate, and put one of the chicken breasts on top of that, and put the other one aside for tomorrow. Deglaze the pan with fresh lemon juice, a good slosh of the Lindemans Sauvignon Blanc that accompanied the cook in the kitchen, throw in the chopped parsley and a nice big spoonful of drained capers, and a generous lump of butter. Shake the pan until all saucy-like and pour over the chicken breast. Pull the broccoli off the stove, drain, and arrange on the plate. Light the candles. Run get the new cell phone to TAKE A PHOTO! Put Tarika on the stereo. A toast to all of you! I wish you were here.

Next, we need that new Apple Air made into cabinet doors, so we can use the computer in the kitchen!

Off for a lavender bath. It's going to be a long week.

Wow, the mango is exquisite. The other fruit is too, but wow, the mango.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Chicken Spezzat

Another long day, and the wonderful husband made something wonderful he called "Chicken Spezzat", morsels of chicken breast lightly floured, then sauteed and cooked with sweet peppers and onions, a bit of spiciness, in wine, served over rice. There used to be, in fact may still be, a little old Italian Restaurant that served the most delicious stew call "Veal Spezzat" and it was that sort of slightly outdated, darkish, comfortable, friendly neighborhood restaurant where you could go as a family, all by yourself, or with someone special, in Wilmington. (Anyone want to open one of those with me?) John's chicken version was just as good.

Served with remarkably sweet and tasty broccoli, from The Box, a garlicky green salad, and nearly orgasmic oranges also from The Box. Blood oranges and another very spicy sweet kind. It's bad when we sit at the table moaning over oranges!

Served with Cartlidge & Browne Pinot Noir & Rioha Vega Rioja. Of the two I preferred the Pinot Noir. The Rioja seemed to have a saltiness to it, the pinot more fruity and round.

John is off to Ketchikan for their annual Wearable Art Show, and he left a big vat of prepared stuff, knowing I'm at work until 10:30ish tonight. Whatta guy.