Wednesday, January 31, 2007

To Venice!

Though there are some disagreeable things in Venice, there is nothing so disagreeable as the visitors.
-Henry James

Thanks for the good advice on things to do in Venice. Fortunately, Kevin is coming with us, and he has been there before -- ten times. In fact, he used to go to school there (he left because he is so smart). So, we should be A-o.k.. Looking forward to it, and I will take lots of pics of the four of us!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Cappuccino art

This morning I got Snoopy!
Very impressive!
When I was growing up, I adored Snoopy, so this was a delightful surprise for it was for Troy. When I suggested he could maybe get a job in Italy if his skills continue like this, he told me he might instead work on making a foam Madonna (Mary, of course, not Ciccone) that he could auction off on ebay.

Random trivia of the day: Frank Sinatra's favorite color was orange. His Palm Springs home was decorated with lots of orange.
Orange was designated the "color of the Millenium" by design professionals, although that never quite took off (like pink). Orange seems to be a very popular color in Germany.

Movie recommendation: Children of Men with the ever-watchable Clive Owen. Intense! Sci-fi, action packed.

Book recommendation: Heartburn by Nora Ephron. She's so funny. This is a novel about the break-up of a (very pregnant) cookbook writer's marriage.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Ship of Fools

After my Mom died, I called Chase Bank to inform them, and to cancel her credit card. There was a zero balance.
The conversation I had with the woman in "Customer Support" said she refused to discuss the account with me, because my name wasn't listed on the account. I tried to explain the situation to her, and that I was my Mom's legal representative, but the woman was like a robot, repeating her company line and refusing to deal with me. She said there was another person listed on the account, and that person would have to call her.
The other person named on the account was my step-father, Manny, who died 12 years ago. Not that the woman told me this -- because that was her confidential information which I was not privy to. I guessed, and she hesitated before curtly telling me she refused to discuss the account or help me.
Now, Manny was a wonderful father to me, and we had a great relationship, but as I was 21 by the time he came into our lives, I was never adopted by him. So I couldn't really speak for him. But had I been able to, I would have said, "I'm dead, cancel the account."
By the time I got off the phone with this person, I was close to busting an artery in my head and was so upset, I was sobbing. I felt like I was going to explode. There's nothing like having to deal with bureaucracy to compound acute pain. I believe people generally fall into two categories: those who follow the rules, and those who are sometimes willing to break them. Obviously, no matter what I said to this person at Chase, she had her rules blinders on and was not going to deal with me or try to work out a solution. It seemed so simple to me, but it wasn't.
We later sent a written request to cancel the card, including a death notice, and yet continued to receive statements reflecting the annual fee.
I remember how frustrated my Mom got, after my father died, and the credit card company cancelled their credit card because her name was not listed jointly on the account, but rather, listed as a cardholder. Different rights. No rights. The maddening frustration she had to face, along with her shock and grief, made such an impression, that I'm sure it must be why she never made changes in these things later in her life. Like when Manny died.
Yesterday, we received a letter in the mail, addressed to Manny. It is from Chase Bank USA's Customer Support Division, and they wanted to let him know that they want him to be "completely satisfied with [your] credit card account. We wish to extend condolences to you on your recent loss." They wanted Manny to know that they have removed my Mom's name from the credit card account as of late January. They also offer 24-hour assistance through a toll-free number, if Manny has any questions. And they want him to be aware that if he calls, the conversation may be monitored and/or recorded because they seek to ensure the highest level of quality service.
If I still had the card -- which I don't, because I systematically cut it up and burned it while spewing curses at Chase Bank -- I might consider going shopping with my step-father.
In Dubai.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Praise be to FedEx

Lest you think I'm off to join the Womens Studies department at Bryn Mawr, I thought I'd post some pics of food -- glorious bread!
Not for lack of trying, I have not been able to find good bread around here. There's a German baker in town, and his loaves and rolls are okay -- light sourdough, no additives, light rye flour base...but they're not great. And that's as good as it gets. The sourdough at the grocery store (the unfortunately named Publix) is just bad and I know I could make my own bread -- and I have -- but I'm just not organized enough to pull that trick off regularly. I hadn't realized how disappointed I was in our bread situation until last week when I was leafing through the Zingerman's catalogue, and started thinking about their bread.
Zingerman's is a deli in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and they offer up fab, fab food. Their bread is really fantastic, and they have all kinds of olive oils, spices, chocolates -- it's really heaven for a foodie. Well, when we lived in GP, we could get Zingerman's bread in the village, and while we appreciated it and loved it, we didn't exactly realize how lucky we were! Having lived through three years in Florida and a dirth of decent bread, I'm starting to feel the pain.
After reading once again about the famous Poilane loaf in In Style magazine, and also discussing bread with Allan (neither one of us is really ready to shell out $65 for a FedEx'd, customized Poilane round), I whipped myself into a justification that I should order some good bread for us as a special treat.

Worth every penny!
It arrived this evening, and Troy & I ripped open the package and stood in the kitchen smelling the bread.
The loaf on the left is the Farm Bread, the one on the right is the sourdough (my favorite). Zingerman's has a page on their website explaining how their Farm bread compares (kind of) to Poilane, and they also provide a link to Poilane.
So, for dinner, we had toasted sourdough slices with lightly salted Danish butter! Couldn't have been better!
I also ordered a salami and some of their liptauer, which isn't as good as the version I make from "Nigella Bites" (excellent!) but is good in a pinch and very spicy (paprika!).

Those of you who have access to excellent bread (probably most people), count your lucky stars. Something so basic can bring so much happiness!
It's fun to look at Zingerman's
It's expensive to shop at Poilane

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Thinking through cupcakes

Having just received some new sprinkles -- palm trees -- I felt compelled to make cupcakes for the boys, and once I got started, my creativity was limited only by the amount of cream cheese frosting I had.
I was using a white cake mix, and felt somewhat inferior for not making the cupcakes from scratch, which made me think about the early days of cake mixes. When cake mixes were first brought to market, they required only the addition of water, and that did not go over big with women. The cake mix manufacturers discovered that women felt uncomfortable with such an instant mix. The mixes were adapted to require a couple more steps, the most important one being the addition of eggs -- and women felt better about themselves if they used a mix but cracked eggs into it.
So, I colored and sprinkled and thought about why people love making cupcakes in today's modern world, mix or no mix. I also wondered if Camille Paglia makes cupcakes for her toddler son, and if it's more of a feminist statement to make the cupcakes if you don't really have to, or to buy them at a cupcake shop. Scratch or mix?
I can't picture Susan Sontag eating cupcakes, let alone making them.
All this thinking about women made me wonder about the criticism I'd read during the week about Ina Garten on Nigella's website. I had difficulty grasping why people, mostly women, get so irritated by Ina, and thought about what a friend of mine noted about how women are so quick still to tear someone down with vitriol. So much for advancement and sisterhood -- when it comes right down to it, we can always expect a little catfight.
Ina elicits such strong reactions from those who don't like her. Is it because Ina is upper-middle-class? Is it because she's an accomplished, self-made woman? Oh no -- is it because she's fat? Or is it simply her laugh that people can't forgive, since I've heard people say it's a "fake laugh." Or maybe it's not a fake laugh, and Ina really is happy and people find that irritating. Better to think she's a phoney. But a phoney what? A phoney cook? Her recipes work really well for me time and time again.
Maybe Ina annoys people because she's successful. But what I don't understand, is why so many people who hate Ina adore Nigella. That's puzzling to me, because I see many similarities between the two women. The strong love-hate reactions would make more sense to me if Nigella were the polar opposite of Ina.
They both use fine and fresh ingredients and encourage buying the best products. Neither are about achieving perfection in the kitchen, like Martha.
Nigella is definitely upper, successful, and posh. She's self-made w/connections to boot. She's not fat, but she's not skinny, nor is her cooking style low-fat. She is a bit younger, and she may not have a laugh people find annoying, but she does make sexual noises while cooking, which might even the score on that front. Maybe Nigella is forgiven her gifts and absolved of envy b/c of her life's tragedies. She's successful, but she's known great despair. I wonder...if Ina were to lose her beloved husband, Jeffrey, then people might cast a sympathetic eye to her -- for a short while, at least. Probably until she released another hit cookbook. And what about Nigella's future? What if her waist thickens over the next five years? Will fans turn on her? Certainly not! That would be ridiculous.
Wouldn't it?
Despite their respective achievements in their field, they cannot escape competition between women -- it never ends. Why are we comparing these two women? Maybe it's just human nature to pit people against one another, no matter the heights reached.
Women have come so far -- hey, we got the vote, and can now choose to make cupcakes instead of being told we have to make cupcakes for our men. Cooking can be a profession, or a form of relaxation instead of a drudge-filled assignment. However, we may still have to fight some shallow inclinations before we can claim more truly lofty goals.
Now, let's look at the pretty cupcakes!
Here is the Lilly Pulitzer cupcake:

Here is the Sunny Gummi Bear cupcake:

Here is the Grateful Dead cupcake:

Here is the Camouflage Green Beret cupcake:

This cupcake refuses to be pigeon-holed with a label:

After a provocative session in the kitchen, I can't say I'm any closer to understanding the irony of baking as it relates to feminism, but I know that, ultimately, my men and I were very happy with these cupcakes.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Taking the rash out of trashy food

I have a slight fascination w/trashy food, but specifically the variety that consists of very few ingredients. When I lived in Grosse Pointe, I was introduced to the chicken + cranberry sauce + onion soup mix + creamy French dressing stew. It's great, and I learned it's a staple at certain GP parties. They're not exactly known for their extravagance or palates in that town (cheap, cheap), but they definitely found a winner there.
Now, recently, I discovered another little gem, and that is the cocktail party meatball trick. Meatballs + chili sauce + grape jelly.
Yes, it's true. I tasted them at no fewer than two parties this winter, and they're good! Both hostesses told me that they just buy frozen meatballs, throw them into their slow cookers, and add a bottle of chili sauce and a jar of grape jelly. Three components!
But I wanted to sort of redeem the whole concept by taking the skeevy-product part out of the equation -- you know, the artificialness of the ready-made meatballs and cheap jelly. I thought it'd be a fun experiment.
So I started by making the meatballs, omitting the usual Parmesan cheese, since it didn't seem to belong. These meatballs are sweet-savoury and lean more toward barbeque & Asian flavorings. Therefore, I made a pretty plain meatball, with salt & pepper, breadcrumbs, a little dry oregano, and a sprinkling of allspice. I also added a little bit of my Ibiza salt con chili.

I bought a good-quality, all-natural grape "spread" -- yes, it gets elevated to being called spread if there's only fruit, pectin, and fruit juice. And I bought a good, standard chili sauce.

Once the meatballs were browned and partially cooked through, I added the grape jelly (c'mon) and chili sauce. And another fairy dusting of the chili salt. I let it all come to a bubble, and then turned down the heat and let it simmer for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, I made rice, and my choice -- in keeping w/the theme -- was something called Texmati -- a long grain American basmati. I also finely chopped up a green onion for the final flourish.

I loved the results, and the whole process was easy. Now that this first step of the experiment has been done, one could move onward and make it all from scratch, omitting the bottled ingredients.
Then again, that would sort of defeat the point! This is a nice happy medium. However, tweaking the tweak, the next time I make this, I will add dried chili flakes for more heat, and pop in a piece of star anise for a little depth.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Cappuccino art

A lot of baristas can get really fancy w/cappuccino foam, and my husband is no different. Sometimes I see special designs in the caps he makes me, and while they may not be intentional, they are always delightful to spy.
This morning, I got a ghost!

I don't know what this means, as we're past Halloween, but I appreciate it nevertheless.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Putting your handprint on the world

Yesterday I stumbled, by chance, upon a lovely blog called Inside a Black Apple. I have really enjoyed looking at all of the art made by The Black Apple's Ms. Emily. I especially was drawn to her little Pointy Hat family, and a felt cat she made for herself, which made me think of my m-i-l, who is very talented and artistic!
My m-i-l, that is to say, my husband's mom (b/c I have two m-i-ls) has a lot in common w/Emily in that they share an aesthetic, as well as similarities with the beloved Amelie. My m-i-l possesses a sense of artistry in living that is quite special, and she's always ahead of the times & trends way before they hit the mainstream. You might find her collecting Spanish moss from the trees and drying it out in her oven, or molding a piece of birch bark around a wide candle. When you visit my m-i-l's house, you might think you are in a chic little home in the Marais or someplace full of adventure and romance, her decorating is really a feast for the eyes. She has a unique & creative hand and is terrific at accessorizing a house (a job that makes me skittish). Every year for Christmas, she makes me a special gift. This year, she gave me an apron that is lovely & waterproof!
Here she is on Christmas morning w/her new pink pashmina.

She's been very kind and supportive since my Mom died, asking me how I'm doing, and volunteering to babysit. Before Christmas, she came over w/supplies, and made these adorable reindeer ornaments w/the boys -- starting with clothespins. Look at that face!

When one of my sons wanted a doll, she made him one. The doll has a hand-painted face, and came with an elaborate outfit, but the boys stripped it off long ago.

Growing up, I was more of a tomboy and loved my stuffed animals & dog, yet also had a couple unique dolls, one a "Raggedy Ann" with long, blonde braids that was made for me by my godmother. My Mom was an expert seamstress, and even took the time to make clothes for our Barbies -- something I think is truly amazing now that I am a mother. I don't think I would have the patience!
This is my Golliwog, which was a Christmas gift made for me by my m-i-l a few years ago. Each of these dolls has specific points that make them authentically made. In the case of the Golliwog, one example is that you can see the hand stitching of his clothing.

This doll is quite small, and apparently was a hit back in the American pioneer days. I know that there is a specific name for the type of doll that it is, but I can't remember it. Anyway, you see her here...

...and then you turn her upside down, flip her skirt down...

...and voila, she is an entirely different doll! Two dolls in one!

Pretty clever!
I'm not especially talented in the creative arts, but I've had a few moments in the sun. I made a heart-shaped pillow for Wyatt, embroidered with a message for him, and I made a black velvet wrap for my Mom. It gave me a real sense of pride to present these.
Contemplating these dolls & Emily's blog has reminded me of how greatly I appreciate a sense of life that incorporates slowing down and taking the time to create. It makes people feel special to receive something that was created with thought and care, be it a doll or a cake or a pillow. And furthermore, it highlights how we are all have our unique stamp to place on this world. We need more of that.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Maybe we could still be friends.

My hair stylist and I broke up. Well, I left her, after a few months of dullness, and what with the long drive and just sort of happened, and she probably knows it by now, b/c I simply stopped going to see her after cancelling my last appointment. Within the stipulated 24 hours, of course. Then again, it's possible she hasn't noticed.
Why is it always so weird to break up w/your hairstylist?
It was not my intention to leave her, but after our last few dates, I was feeling slightly darker and dissatisfied. I still like her -- just not in the same way anymore. When I last left the salon, and scheduled my next appointment at the desk before departing, I did not in any way foresee that I would meet someone else, but I did. That took me completely by surprise. I was introduced to my new hair stylist by my m-i-l, who came over looking really cute, and it was all b/c she'd found our new gal.
My new stylist is fun, and -- oh, alright -- yes, she's younger, too. But it's not about that -- it's just that she knows how to make me happy. I feel more blonde when I'm with her. I hope we'll be together for a long time.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Done for.

"Next to a circus, there ain't nothing that packs up and tears out faster than the Christmas spirit." ~Kin Hubbard

There it is -- the last candy cane of the season, the last decoration on the tree. It's over & done.

Today, I finally got all the ornaments off the Christmas tree, packed away the other decorations, and (sniff) Troy took the tree out to the curb. The cats are slightly peeved that they've lost their living room forest.
The holidays went by so fast, and now I'm tired!
Yesterday, I made Rachel's slow-roasted pork, which cooks, um, slowly, in the oven, for several hours. Since I didn't start the recipe until about 6:00 p.m. last night, I left it covered in the oven all night (never follow my advice when ovens are concerned!). By the time I woke up this morning, I had a primo pot of shredded BBQ ready for the day. So successful is this slow-roasting method, that the pork fell apart when I poked it with a spoon, just snooping around. Yes -- a spoon, not even a fork! That's beyond tender.
So, after my Christmas-tree chores, I treated myself to an awesome sandwich.

I like poppyseed buns, just in case I get called in for a random drug test, but any roll would be great w/this. And the pork is so flavorful that all you need is a bun, no condiments.

Rachel's Slow-Roasted Pork with Bourbon

2 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1 pork shoulder/butt - 5 lbs
10 garlic cloves
10 fresh sage leaves
2 T. oil
1/2 C. sweet hot mustard (I used Dijon - any good mustard would be fine)
1/2 C. brown sugar
1 t. Worcestershire
1/4 C. bourbon

Rub pork with salt and pepper. Cut slits into pork and stuff with garlic and sage. Refrigerate overnight.
Sear meat in oil. Mix mustard, sugar, worcetershire, and bourbon. Pour half over pork. Bake at 250F covered with foil for 4 hours. After 4 hours, spoon rest of sauce over and cook uncovered 2 more hours.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

The Lee Brothers rule!!

I finally got delivery of my long-awaited and yearned for The Lee Brothers Southern Cookbook and it has surpassed my expectations. I'm thrilled! This book was brought to my attention by my (Southern) best friend, and it's a dream come true. I guess I'm the "would-be Southerner" of the book's subtitle, as I have a special place in my heart for all things Southern. I adore the people, the landscapes, the food, the customs, and the traditions, especially of the Low Country that authors Matt & Ted Lee call home.

The book focuses on Charleston food as well as the myriad culinary traditions from the hills of Kentucky to the beachy Florida panhandle. The narrative is brilliant and fun to read, and the book includes pretty much every Southern recipe you could want, from sweet tea to Brunswick stew to Lady Baltimore cake. And not only are traditional recipes given, but also spectacularly innovative inventions by the brothers Lee, like banana pudding ice cream, and Saigon Hoppin' John. Of course, a lot of BBQ is covered, as are Southern staples like pimento cheese, chow chow, and shrimp, shrimp, shrimp! There's a great section on cocktails, like St. Cecilia punch and the rockin' Garden & Gun cocktail, made of bourbon and watermelon rind preserves, and carrying a name evocative of all the complexity I love about the South. This book is packed with stories and information about why things are this way or that in a given region and recipe, and contains useful tips on sourcery and helpful information, like how to shuck and oyster. The Lee brothers were born in NYC and moved to Charleston in their tweens -- good thing they were blessed w/a name that would stand them in good stead as relocated Yankees ;). Years later, grown up and living back in NYC on the Lower East Side, they started up a business and catalogue, called Boiled Peanuts, to sell Southern special treats to restaurants and individuals. So, not surprisingly, they provide a recipe for Harlem meatloaf in their book, too, and I cannot wait to try it!
Get yourself some boiled peanuts from the brothers' catalogue
Visit Matt & Ted's website

Friday, January 05, 2007

Heads-up: Annie Liebovitz profile on PBS

PBS is airing a profile of Annie Liebovitz on its American Masters series. Love her. It's on tonight in my area, if you're a fan, too, check your local listing so you can watch or record.

Books & movies

I love hearing what other people think of their books & movies, and thought it might be nice to add comments here when I finish a book or see a movie. I've been really out of the loop this past year when it comes to films, b/c I just don't get to the cinema that much during this phase of my life. I also haven't been watching many dvds, but now have a new system where I watch them on my computer. So, I'm hoping to work through my Netflix queue a lot faster. I've never been great at reviewing, so bear with me, but I'd like to just share my thoughts.

My, Myself, & I
Rachel Griffiths is a cool single woman who excels in her writing career, but starts to think about marriage & children, wondering about the road not taken. She has an accident and runs into herself in a sort of parallel universe-situation where she is married to her old bf ("the one that got away") and has to live that in that life for a while. Nothing heavy, but a well-done take on something probably everyone can relate to.
Recommend. Probably a chick flick.

Brokeback Mountain
I am probably the last person on Earth to see this. I think it should have been rated S-for Sad. The acting and the wilderness scenery are incredible, and I loved the relationship between these two lonely people. I only wish it could have been different. Ang Lee is one of my favorite directors, although he often breaks my heart.

Monsoon Diary by Shoba Narayan
This is one Indian woman's memoir, centered around food -- recipes included. Her love of food, the role of food in her life as she passes through major stages. Shoba's a spirited woman and the writing is open & forthright. I like the insider's view of Indian life and all the details she provides. She begins w/tales of her childhood, school lunches, travels, and then moves on to talk about her years studying in America and becoming a sculptor, winding through her marriage and various family events. Very nice.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

It's not Fairview, but...

Just after Thanksgiving, my neighbor, Bree, invited me to a Tupperware party she was co-hosting with our normal neighbor, the librarian Mrs. L. I was all set to decline, but then she came over and caught me off-guard, frazzled in my pajamas and feeling like I couldn't lie, so I said, "Oh, yes, I'll be there!"
I've never been to a Tupperware party, but after the Thanksgiving activities, I decided to look at the bright side and thought that I'd escape for an evening and go across the street and drink some wine, eat some hors d'oeuvres, and chat w/the neighbors.
So I made a hasty retreat from Troy & the boys right at dinnertime, clicking acoss the road in my new patent Kate Spades.
When Mrs. L. opened the door, she welcomed me warmly and said, "Woo hoo! Sexy mama!" so I was feeling pretty chipper and definitely ready for the Tupperware pitch. I was the first to arrive.
Now, I am half German, but all the organizational knack seemed to skip transfer from my Mom, and I lead more of a , um, relaxed homelife where people are constantly looking for their shoes and asking me where things are, to which I reply: "I don't know."
When I last visited my cousin, in Germany, I was completely impressed by his organized kitchen. Efficient! He and his gf use quite a bit of Tupperware. For cheese, luncheon meats, you name it: a place for everything and everything in its place! I aspired!
So back at Mrs. L & Bree's party, I listened earnestly as Bree explained to me how I could store one entire box of cereal in a particular container, and a 5-lb. bag of flour could be transferred into a square container, thus protecting it from bugs and spoilage. I asked about the cheese & lunchmeat containers and let Mrs. L. pour me a glass of wine. Bree went on to explain how her pantry was set up, and that she is OCD. I said, "Really?" "Well, no, I'm kidding."
I'm not so sure.
Bree explained that she had a label maker, and that not only is all her cereal in Tupperware, but it's also labeled. I was impressed.
Impressed but bored. It was almost two hours, nobody was coming, and I thought I'd rather be home doing other things.
And then the doorbell rang. Mrs. L. opened it, and it was Missy Soprano! Missy apologized for being late. I think she had some documents to shred or something. But upon her arrival, I definitely decided it was time to get the show on the road, lest my wallet go missing before I could place an order. I quickly ordered a bunch of containers, and said I had to go tuck in the boys.
My order arrived just before Christmas, and was therefore shoved off into a closet b/c I was too busy getting organized. Meanwhile, Gina gave Troy a label maker for Christmas! Kismet!
So yesterday, I washed all of my new Tupperware and decanted everything I could find, while Troy made labels!

Isn't that excellent?
We were having so much fun, we kept organizing!

Labelling is addictive.

As Beck says, "Things are gonna change, I can feel it."

Monday, January 01, 2007

Welcome to Next Year, Baby

One of my favorite songs by Jamie Cullum
is Next Year Baby:

Next year, things are gonna change
Gonna drink less beer, and start all over again
Gonna read more books, gonna keep up with the news
Gonna learn how to cook, spend less money on shoes
I’ll pay my bills on time, and file my mail away, everyday
Only drink the finest wine, and call my Gran every Sunday

Resolutions, baby they come and go
Will I do any of these things? The answer's probably no
If there’s one thing I must do, despite my greatest fears
I’m gonna say to you, how I felt all of these years
Next Year
Next Year

I’m gonna tell you how I feel
I‘m gonna tell you how I feel

Resolutions, baby they come and go
Will I do any of these things? The answer's probably no
If there’s one thing I must do, despite my greatest fears
I’m gonna say to you, how I felt all of these years
Next Year
Next Year
Food, books, and shoes. This is the second time this has come up today. We were just talking about charities for the neediest people on Earth and how people around the world can use food, books, and shoes to begin living a new life with hope & promise. The thought is profoundly overwhelming to me, as I often worry about any effort being the proverbial drop in the bucket. Thanks to Jane & Rachel, I learned about the following charities. Not to sound like Eddy Monsoon, but last year was the Year of the Shoe for me, and I would now be thrilled to buy shoes for African schoolgirls (or food or books or whatever I can).
The Hunger Site
Heifer International
Each New Year, I need to recalibrate and tweak some things to get my life into better balance. I don't make resolutions, per se, but every year I do vow to read more books, and this year is no different. I don't watch much TV, but I can fritter away time online like nobody's business, and, although it's entertaining and sometimes necessary escapism, when I look at the stack on my nightstand, I feel pangs of guilt b/c there are many, many great books waiting for me to crack them.
I've also got a slew of cookbooks, and Christmas brought me a few more, including the awesome Caramel by Trish Deseine. Last night, I used this book for the first time, making caramel sauce, which we poured hot over vanilla ice cream and ate before midnight. This morning, I used the rest of the caramel sauce for breakfast -- a sugar-jolt kick-start to 2007. I sliced up golden apples and bananas, fried them in butter, made pancakes and topped them w/the fruit and caramel.
Troy and I used to sometimes go to Bechelli's in San Francisco for their wonderful banana pancakes, and all these years later, I still love making them for us. With the addition of the caramel, the banana pancakes were kind of Bananas-Fostery, and the apple version a sublime culinary nod to Normandy, an American twist on the incredible edible salted-butter caramel crepe. Both were delicious, and must join my repertoire.
But getting back to the song up there, it's a nice feeling to think we have a clean slate and a chance to start all over again. None of us knows what the new year will bring, and personally, I'm hoping for a smooth, quiet ride. There are friends for whom I cross my fingers, and I hope 2007 shows them what they desire & deserve, with contentment to all, in whatever form it's delivered.
Happy New Year.