Showing posts from 2012

Prawn and Ginger Dumplings

We spent the few days after Christmas in Inglenook, California (just north of Fort Bragg), at a little cottage tucked away down Beal Lane.  At the end of the lane, you can take a small path behind some Cyprus trees to emerge upon the most wonderful of sand dunes.  Rising up hugely, like hills, sometimes higher than houses, the dunes have that particular windswept cleanliness, the sides curdled then smooth.  For a ten-minute walk across the dunes, you are rewarded with the croak of frogs from a nearby river and the roar of the ocean you know is somewhere on the other side of the dunes, but you cannot see it.  A feast of sound and sand. I walked there one evening with my father-in-law; we talked of ways to make one's life filled with more love and beauty, and I thought a lot about a dear friend of mine who is struggling right now with some major health issues.  She has been on my mind a good deal, and she is good and she is strong and she is determined.  The walk


Today, I learned that poet Jake Adam Yor k died, too young.  He loved poetry, barbecue, language, music.  Thus, a poem from this dear teacher, mentor, inspiration and man whose kindness I will remember.  Grace                By Jake Adam York  Because my grandmother made me the breakfast her mother made her, when I crack the eggs, pat the butter on the toast, and remember the bacon to cast iron, to fork, to plate, to tongue, my great grandmother moves my hands to whisk, to spatula, to biscuit ring, and I move her hands too, making her mess, so the syllable of batter I’ll find tomorrow beneath the fridge and the strew of salt and oil are all memorials, like the pan-fried chicken that whistles in the grease in the voice of my best friend’s grandmother like a midnight mockingbird, and the smoke from the grill is the smell of my father coming home from the furnace and the tang of vinegar and char is the smell of Birmingham, the smell of coming home, of history,

Broiled Salmon with Citrus Herb Crust

Dear world:  Enough with the bad news.  In the mean time, a post I wrote yesterday about salmon. Salmon.  Mmmmmmm.  Filled with Vitamin A, Vitamin D, B vitamins, protein and omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is the king of fish.  Do you see what I did there?  I made a king salmon pun. Oh dear. Anyhoo, for all its glory, one has to be careful with one's salmon.  Wild salmon is better than farmed salmon, as the wild has considerably fewer environmental pollutants in it.  That's important.  However, wild salmon also has less Omega-3.  However, I think that's a fine trade-off.  Less contaminants.  Less fatty acids.  Then to boot , almost 99% of Atlantic salmon is farmed and around 80% of Pacific salmon is wild.  All important to know when you're standing at your local fish monger eyeballing the salmon (and the rock cod is eyeballing you back). The cookbook that I am cooking from is a new one for the family.  Have you heard of the Sonoma Diet?  On the

White Cheddar Gougères, Apple Pulp, Bacon and Sage

Okay, this is a rambly post, unedited, and filled with a discussion of Christmas, gougères , and Michael Ch abon.  F ollow along : I am one of those people.   I put my tree up the day after Thanksgiving and I would lea ve it up until Epiphany if I could ( given that the husband has endured the tree for little over a month, I cave to the pressu re to take it down New Year's Eve Day ).  I genuinely love Christmas music .   I love Holiday Parties, Holiday Car ds, Holiday Decorations .  Give n that I am not Christian , it do es seem somewhat biz arre that I embrace this season so fully.  But I think I love the way lights shine through ornaments, th e simple joy of keeping in touch with friends and family with a handw ritten note, the presentation of tokens of how one feels to another pers on, the way the house feels warm and cozy once a seven-foot tree has taken up valu able rea l estate, and the feast of rich foods with family around a crowded table. I know that

So Many Helpers

I have been thinking about my next recipe post, and I just can't seem to post it.  It's all typed up and ready to go, but every time I get ready to press publish, I just can't.  Even this post seems hard.  I am torn between remaining silent out of respect and speaking something because I am so sad. You see, my heart--like everyone else's--is breaking and has been all weekend.  Those children, those educators, that mother in Connecticut are all on my mind. Someone I know on facebook posted this quotation from everybody's favorite neighbor, Fred Rogers:   "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world. " I am trying to

A little giving of thanks

Time now for the second annual gratitude post .  It is going to read a lot like the first. I love Thanksgiving.  I love all that it stands for.  Gratitude.  Food.  Family.  Friends.  It does make me miss my family back in Illinois, but I am always so glad to be able to spend it with this family I have married into out here in beautiful California. Here is what I am most thankful for from this year: 1. Teaching--I so enjoyed team teaching a class on Steinbeck and the history of the 1930s with a friend this year.  We took a group of students to Monterey, we rifted off one another in class, we learned a lot about our own craft of teaching, and we lightened the heavy load for each other.  It was great fun as well as professionally satisfying.   2. The Road Trip:  I love road trips.  I just do.  I love being trapped in a car and singing at the top of my lungs and telling the same stories and stopping at diners and putting my feet on the dashboard (when I am not driving,

Blueberry Pie

A little over a week ago, a dear friend of mine passed away.  He was a good man with the faux-surliness of a scientist that he used to mask what was quite possibly the sentimental heart of a poet.  When I came to California, he took me under his wing, teaching me the ins and outs of my new job at a new school.  For years, the husband and I celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving with him, his wife, and other dear friends. On those thanksgivings in a condo up Clarewood Lane, the Canadian flag would hang outside the front door limply (it was never very windy) but proudly.  Before dinner, there would be a standing rendition of the Canadian national anthem, with many of us just mouthing the words we didn't entirely know even though they were printed on cheat sheets for us.  Usually at some point, he would switch to the French and then chastise us more for not knowing those lyrics.  Once we settled into our chairs, he and his wife would serve the requisite turkey and mashed potatoes

Split Green Pea Soup

Two weekends ago, the husband and I were lucky enough to see a Giants playoff game, and tonight the Giants play the Cardinals.  As many of you know, I am a Cubs fan first and a Giants fan second; however, I am torn.  My grandmother Alice was a White Sox fan and, thus, a Cardinals fan by default, for her allegiance to the South Side of Chicago meant that any affection for that ursine team located in Boys Town was unspeakable.  She actively rooted for any team that played against the Cubs, and given that the Cardinals were their biggest rivals, she became their biggest fan. Alice cooked; she had a huge, fenced-in garden in the backyard with green beans and tomatoes with smooth, glossy skin.  My mother, however, was the first woman I knew who didn't like to cook.  My mother opened boxes, boiled water, poured milk and called it a meal.  Alice, on the other hand, cooked for her Catholic children on no money, no college education, and three husbands who drank too much. G