Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Butterfly in the sky, I can go twice as high

Reading more these days, so great.  Also have been trying to make the most of a longer commute time (25 minutes instead of 10) with audiobooks.  Amazingly, just two months of no radio means I am completely out of touch with top 40 songs.  The latest Gaga parody will be lost on me.

After The Road, we (mostly me, Luke when we drove around together) listened to something a little less bleak and dystopian, Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, read by the author.  The more time passes I think I liked it, but then I recall that Luke and I spent most of the time yelling


 So now I'm Back to Cormac:

Return of the Mac

Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West, read by Richard Poe.  It turns out I much prefer tales of violent men in stark godforsaken landscapes after all.

Spliced in with this, which is so great (it just caught my eye at the library the other day)-- famous poems, each with a biographical sketch of the poet and the historical context or importance of the poem.  Really interesting.

And on the nightstand-->  just finished Stasiland by Anna Funder.  I can't even remember how I heard about it, but I eagerly requested it and picked it up... only to be very disappointed.  The author set out to tell stories of people who suffered under the Communist regime in East Germany, as well as stories of the police, the Stasi.  However, she is the protagonist of the book and so much is from her point of view, living in now-unified Germany, that it is more her memoir than the stories of her subjects.  There is also very little discussion of the history of the creation of East Germany, and its fall, that the reader must be very familiar with these events to make sense of the book.  In that manner she succeeded in making me want to read more about that time in history, as it's something I know very little about.

Should have been called Funderland

Currently reading food writer Ruth Reichl's Tender at the Bone.  Great so far!

And, gentle readers, you all should read this:

By read I mean look at the pictures and read the hilarious marginalia and laugh for 20 minutes.  Too funny.

And, finally, Gynnie.  This is totally charming and readable, and many of the recipes look tasty.  Beautiful photography.  Also intrigued by Vegenaise, which figures prominently throughout (posited by GP to be a healthier alternative to mayo.)

Enjoying the heady part of my cyclic love affair with the public library system.  How great is it that I can check out a $35 book, glance at the pictures, read a little, make a tuna Gruyere melt, and then return it?  Learn about some classic poets, some funky interior design, some hippified mayonnaise?  It's amazing.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

This and that

 Another incredibly hot weekend in SA... good for laying low.  We went into a lovely furniture/home decor store yesterday and I lamented to the salesperson about THIS ROOM!  in our house that just does not work for any of its duties: living room; reading area; piano room. 

View from dining room; note blocked-off doorway

View from front door

Between dining room and front door
It has the front door, an archway, two side doors, a window and a fireplace.  Logistically very challenging to envision as a cohesive room, serving our needs (tv-sitting-piano) in an aesthetically pleasing manner.  It turns out the salesperson, Melissa, makes house calls!  For a fee they will come over, take measurements, see what you have to work with and draw up ideas for the room.  (The fee goes to purchases from the store, if purchases are made).  She came today and had such great ideas for unifying this room, using mostly furniture we have already.  It turns out she and I have the similar taste so her suggestions were enthusiastically received.  (She mentioned Jonathan Adler, and what was sitting on the table, picked up from the library yesterday?)
Love him.
So we were simpatico re: colors, taste and goals for a rental house (no highly specific or expensive pieces that cannot be parlayed successfully into the next house).

Very excited about this project-- this room just elicits groans from me.  One half is empty, one half is packed with stuff.  No color, a paucity of mementos, no personal taste, just cluttery.  But now, a plan!

What else is happening.... Luke is recording songs this afternoon, to be available online and in CD format.  (My contribution was bringing hot tea for his throat on my way back from the gym this morning).  He has several shows lined up in September and is going back to Chicago this week to reunite with the Flavor Savers for a music video filming and a show.  He is pretty thrilled about escaping the heat for a while, and seeing his friends and family; it is quite an adjustment to move and get married (moreover: be married) without the social network of friends one is accustomed to.

I am developing a steadfast brand loyalty to America's Test Kitchen ( I am prone to this sort of commitment, having only purchased Le Mystere bras for the last six years.  Everything else is just too loosey-goosey).  The recipes always turn out perfectly!  I recently checked out

Amazon link

from the library for a trial run and have made stuffed shells with tomato-vodka sauce; Asian spiced ribs and noodles; chili mac and tonight, enchiladas.  Luke raved about the chili mac and Asian noodles ("it's good cold too")

Checks <--->  balances
These I just bought outright.  Anyway, I have been dabbling with recipes from different sources and those from ATK always turn out perfectly - and often provide the food science explanation for different steps, which I find edifying and intellectually satisfying.

I leave you with a couple of products I am pretty thrilled about these days:  Kiss My Face SPF 30 sunscreen for its almost complete odorlessness, usually the chemical odor of sunscreen is a necessary evil, but no more; and H-E-B Mootopia milk.  Somehow it's lactose free, high protein (12 grams/cup) and reduced in sugar and carbohydrates and yet is delicious and creamy.  And I don't even like milk that much.  According to some websites I just glanced at Mootopia is a designer milk... I don't know what that means.  I do know that I can drink and actually enjoy 1 cup of chocolate Mootopia with 1 scoop of Central Market whey protein for 30 grams of protein I would otherwise have to choke down.  Breakfast plans are set!

So crafty

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Pinterest Challenge

Pinterest is a visual catalog of Things People Like - recipes, photographs, typography, fashion, gadgets and on and on.  It is an amazing source of inspiration, ideas....mostly it's a bunch of mind candy and a welcome respite from the news of terrible events that populate the Internet, or from honking/flashing/blaring pop-up ads.  It's a calming sanctuary of pretty.  Peaceful. Encouraging.  Om.

For me, though, in the vein of Facebook, it has served as an unexpected way of getting to know the people in my life a little better... sort of like scanning a new acquaintance's bookshelf, or peeking in their medicine cabinet. [A Pinterest member can follow (see) other Pinterest members' curated boards whether they are strangers or friends]  So far, I know:

Sara likes home decor.

Kristin hearts turquoise.

Amy likes bold fashion.

Susie loveslovesloves peonies.

Laura is interested in all things domestic and DIY.

Robin - ruffled panties.  But I knew that already.

        Because what defines us more than the things with which we surround ourselves?  What sort of work we do, the pursuits in our free time, the people we love or befriend?  Or in the case of Pinterest, the images, ideas, sentiments that speak to us in some way (aspirationally, inspirationally, humorously, pragmatically).
       What I appreciate about Pinterest is this unique way to cultivate friendships and personal taste; ready access to hundreds of images should I search updo or Christmas tree or meatless lasagna; and mostly the spirit of the enterprise, in which users appear to be striving to be kind, to be innovative, to value art and design and are enthusiastic about home and family and betterment:

Mod alerted me to a Pinterest Challenge - a call to actualize some of the pinned material.  Instead of transmogrifying into a willowy, pregnant (but not too pregnant, not sweaty edematous normal pregnant, but cute pregnant, not the I'm waddling-around-gravid-with-a-small-planet prego)- model- graphic designer-craft maven- food stylist - humorist - photographer- typographer- architect - yogi- wedding planner- bibliophile- all around sophisticate--- no, no, I decided - I can make some of the food that I have pinned.

To wit:

Blueberry Breakfast Cake

Buffalo Chicken with Blue Cheese Slaw

Cinnamon-Sugar Coffee Cake Muffins

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Curried Carrot Soup


Blueberry breakfast cake

"This is just a giant pan of muffin, isn't it?" Luke said.

Oh but it's better than that - it's a giant pan of the top of the muffin [the good part].  Who even eats the bottom half of a muffin?

Buffalo chicken with blue cheese slaw  Luke has been playing so much, and at short notice that my meal plans got [happily] messed up this week.  Chose to freeze the chicken but made the slaw since those ingredients won't keep.  Really tasty slaw, especially good on turkey sandwiches.

Cinnamon-sugar coffee cake muffin   Tastes like a delicious cinn-sug cake doughnut.  Maybe it is a doughnut... in which case Lady Gaga was right about bluffin' with your muffin?  Or maybe that's something else entirely.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala  So good!  So complex and flavorful.  Next time I will try the chicken breast variation; though using thighs made for rich, tender meat, the skin and bones in the slow cooker added a slight ick factor and diminished eye appeal.  Caveat cookor:  it is like an Indian spice bomb detonated in your kitchen  house  house and driveway. 

Curried Carrot Soup  Was going to make this this week, and then tonight, but Luke just told me he has an impromptu gig at a nearby Mexican restaurant!  So tonight - shrimp cocktail and tortilla soup (my newfound gig go-to's) and tomorrow- soup.

♥ Enjoy! ♥


Wednesday, August 17, 2011


I love my husband all of the time but I watch him play the piano and sing, and be so utterly transported, so joyful, so rapt...a surge of love fills me that is so fierce and tender it takes me aback; my heart-cup brimmeth over.


In our brief time here in SATX, Luke has met several musicians who not only told him where to find open mic nights and work opportunities, but also invited him to perform with them.

Singing and accompanying Matt Parker, just one such fine fellow and fine singer, guitarist and percussionist:


Sorry for the poor sound quality.  This rock star's wife lil' camera's days are numbered.

I love this one.

He is playing a solo show tonight, and opening for a guitarist at a large patio restaurant tomorrow.

I have never seen him happier.

Friday, August 12, 2011

nailed it...


 ... the perfect shade of nude nail polish.  A fifteen-year quest finally has drawn to a close.  Fifiteen years of buying nail polish with names like

Ballet Slippers                                                             
Soft Whispers
Pillow Talk
Happily Ever After
Et Cetera

that invariably were too pink, too white, too opaque, too sheer.  This color is In the Buff from SpaRitual and it's quite peach and therefore iffy in the bottle, but so perfect with two coats.

Maria Bamford

Great Thursday: comedy shows by Jackie Kashian and Maria Bamford.  HILARIOUS.

I became a fan of MB when my sister shared this link with me a while ago...

                                                             Jackie Kashian on LA pet owners

                                                           Maria Bamford's Joy Whack-a-Mole


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Rachael Ray Redux

Well, per the Rachael Ray meal planner, the other sheet of puff pastry and sausage left over from the quiche are assembled into sausage rolls later in the week.  So delicious.  Too delicious.  Groans of gustatory pleasure.  Consume with gusto; lipid-lowering agents; long walk around block.

Luke said, Make this again. 

Sausage Rolls
Rachael Ray September 2011

3/4 lb Italian sausage, casings removed (the spicier the better)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
1 egg, beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place parchment paper on rimmed baking sheet.  Crumble sausage and breadcrumbs in a bowl; mash and divide in two, shaping each into an 11 inch log.  Refrigerate.  Place parchment on work surface and unfold puff pastry; cut in half.  Place a sausage log on the center of each strip and brush long sides with beaten egg.  Wrap sausage in pastry and the seam to seal; do not seal the short ends.  Place on baking sheet, seam down.  Brush with egg and refrigerate for 15 minutes.  Bake until puffed and golden, 25-30 minutes.  Let rest 10 minutes and quarter each roll. (Yield 8 pieces)

There are no pictures of this.  Not photogenic.  But indulgent, satisfying and possibly the very best version of pigs in a blanket.

so cute!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Puff the magic pastry

This quiche is so delicious (the texture is so silky), easy to make and reheats well.  Next time I will add more spinach and more sausage.  I chose the spiciest sausage available, which was good because otherwise this would fall, flavorwise, into the category of Creamy Goodness Not Otherwise Specified; the spiciness added some interest.

Spinach and Ricotta Quiche
Rachael Ray September 2011

1 sheet thawed puff pastry (1/2 of a 17 oz package)
6 cups baby spinach
1/4 lb Italian sausage links, casings removed
4 eggs
1/2 container ricotta
1/2 cup heavy cream

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Press puff pastry into a 9 inch pie plate and trim the excess. Prick the bottom all over with a fork, cover with parchment paper and fill with coins/dried beans/pie weights. Bake until golden ~20 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool. Lower oven temp to 350.
2. Meanwhile, heat 1 T EVOO over medium-high heat, add spinach and cook until wilted ~ 1 minute. Season lightly with salt and drain in colander. Add 1 T EVOO and the sausage and cook over medium-high heat, breaking up meat with a spoon and cooking through, 3-4 minutes.
3. Spread spinach and sausage in pie shell. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, ricotta and cream; pour in shell. Bake until eggs are set and crust is golden, about 35 minutes.


I tried a side dish from RR Sept 2011 as part of my Sweet Potato Acceptance Project (SPAP).  They are so colorful, and a superfood to boot, but I have just never liked them.  Until:
Roasted Cinnamon Sweet Potato Fries

2 lb sweet potatoes, cut into wedges (peeled in the accompanying photo, so I peeled them)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Toss potatoes with EVOO, salt and pepper.  Roast for 30 minutes at 475 degrees.  Toss with cinnamon.

Could liking them with marshmallows and bourbon be far off?

Or in this gorgeous gratin?     

Recipe here

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Follow Me on Pinterest

Th Fr Sa Sun

Whitewater Ampitheatre: David Fenley and the Good Deal
 On Thursday we went out to the Whitewater Ampitheatre, about 30 minutes northeast of SATX.  Out in the country, good music, free show, taco truck... what more could you ask for?

Thrifting has turned out to be a favorite fam pursuit... are we frugal, or are we nosy?  Estate sales satisfy both.

No address posted on signs; we were undeterred.

Stacks and stacks of "adult material".
However, my reading these days is far less salacious... 

Finding this on Sunday morning:

My dear and loving husband

Had some breakfast at a nearby cafe and perused EveryDay with RayRay

which featured these exciting items from the soon-to-be launched Missoni for Target line:
Chevron!  Corduroy!  Floppy hat!
Collected Luke then headed to Mattress Firm to buy a pillow.  Ended up spending about 20 minutes like so:


Discovered this innovation: a bed that can be cooled or heated.  Major freak-out commenced because we have serious, serious thermoregulatory issues.  One always hot, one always cold.  As of this writing have spent an inordinate amount of time considering whether this mattress would change our lives.
They look pretty happy.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Les Poissons, Les Poissons

Today was Day 1 of five nights of meals from one Sunday shopping trip courtesy of Rachael Ray. Crispy fish with creamed corn and fresh tomato wedges. (from current issue)

The breadcrumbs slid off with their mortar of grainy mustard (not stale enough? I made them yesterday) however, all was not lost, the tilapia was still delish and the creamed corn a testament to the infallibility of cream and butter and fresh sweet corn.  Tomatoes with Maldon salt (so much more than just sodium and chloride) and pepper.

Eager to try more fish recipes and work some protein-packed pelagic magic.

Friday, August 5, 2011


I am driving about 25 minutes to work everyday and picked up a few audiobooks at the base library to listen to on the way.  The first, very appropriately, was The Road by Cormac McCarthy:

A chilling, bleak, gruesome tale of a post-apocalyptic world inhabited by few survivors of a cataclysmic event that blots out the sun, leaving mankind stripped of the trappings of civilization, and without humanity.  A highly effective narrative that stayed on my mind all day, an inky smudge in my thoughts.  Luke and I finished it today, listening quietly in the garage to the closing moments of the book.

My commute a la Cormac McCarthy: [Vanity Fair did a great parody of his writing style a few years ago "Cormac McCarthy Makes Pasta with Craig Brown", but sadly it is not available online]

The woman listened to the book.  She listened though she knew it would slightly ruin her day, like thumbing through old letters, calling up waves of nostalgia to feel those pangs of love, those pangs of sadness.  She listened because she had to.  She had to.  There were four discs in the case, each silver circle a circle like the moon, or the sun that now beat into her eyes.  She listened because the story gripped her heart as a father's hand grips a child's arm in a busy street, full of panicky strength.  She drove and she listened and she drove and she listened.

That word, she thought.  Must look it up later.

And the woman continued down the road.

Thank you, thank you...