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Showing posts from November, 2011

Gratitude

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It's here!  It's here!
I love Thanksgiving.  I love the food, the family, the friends, the togetherness of it all.  And I love that the very next day I can start putting up Christmas decorations.  I love the smell of leaves and crackling fires and pumpkin pies.  And the next day, I love the smell of hot apple cider and pine trees. 


Here is what I am most thankful for from this year:
1.  The family.  Every last one of them. From my parents to my siblings, from my nieces and nephews to my in-laws.  And for those who are not blood- or marriage-related but are family nonetheless.  

2.  The running.  The day after day of putting one foot in front of the other at quite possibly the slowest pace.
3.  The unexpected moments of beauty.  The surprises.

4.    The new friends as well as the old friends.  Their presence, unexpected and familiar, is a sweet reminder.  

5.    The many wonderful trips to the beaches (from Point Reyes to Monastery Beach (also known as Mortuary Beach), from Ocean …

Roast Pork with Apricots

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Growing up, we would eat dinner at my paternal grandmother's house at least once a month.  My grandmother was, as most grandmothers are, a character.  Her name was Gertrude.  Legend has it that she wanted to be called Trudy, but people called her only Gert.  And she was most certainly a Gert, not a Trudy.  Further legend has it that she even changed her name from Ruby to Gertrude when she was young because her last name was Stone, and she didn't want to be know as Ruby Stone any longer.  Both legends may be apocryphal.  The truth may be that she was Gert Stone from the start, but I like the idea of this young woman wanting to reinvent herself.


When I knew her, Gert was in her 70s and 80s.  She wore the most beautiful shades of red lipstick and had fabulous ceramic chicken dishes loaded with butterscotch candies.  She would cook pedestrian pot roasts when we came to visit, and after dinner my brother and I would wash and dry the dishes in her little kitchen with these wonderfu…

Wicklow Pancake

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Carrying on with my non-Thanksgiving-themed meals, I bring you the Wicklow Pancake.  Today’s entry is decidedly non-Irish, although this recipe for a not-quite-a-pancake, not-yet-an-omelet* comes from one of my favorite regional cookbooks, The Country Cooking of Ireland.  This cookbook is a real pleasure, and I have not one but two recipes from this book already filed on this blog.  However, the entry begins in Ireland and ends in Oakland, with a stop on Virginia Woolf's Bond Street in between. 

(Yes, the Brittney pun was intended, but has no bearing on the rest of the post.  I just couldn't resist.)
I turned 21 in Wicklow in the little border town of Bray.  Famous residents of this seaside vacation spot south of Dublin include James Joyce, Bono, and Oscar Wilde.  Count me in their company for a short while and merely by geography.  However, I will take the company any chance I can get.  When I first arrived in Ireland in the fall of 1995, I stayed with a family ne…

Moroccan Chicken with Dates and Couscous

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Yesterday, I gave my final exams for the first term.  I am always amazed at how much gets packed into the first trimester.  An open house here, a stack of papers there, a set of student-parent conferences to follow, and I am just about wiped out.  Whew.  We're eyeballing Thanksgiving with a bit of glee, but in the mean time, I am making decidedly non-Thanksgiving fare.  Be prepared!


So we begin with this Moroccan Chicken with Dates.  Dates are really just an excuse to mainline sugar with dinner.  Those of you with sweet tooths (teeth?) know what I am talking about.


But before we get too far, let's indulge in some fun facts about the date:  Apparently there are 1500 varieties of dates--a dateganza, if you will--and the most popular American date, the Medjool date, came to California in 1927.  A singular Dr. Walter Swingle, an American horticulturalist for the Bureau of Plant Industry, took a little trip to the French-colonial-controlled Bou Denib oasis in Morocco to "sav…