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.