Wednesday, March 30, 2011

foodie that i am...

this seems to have been quite a week for me outing myself.
i am sharing a lot of stuff about who i am and how i got to be this way.
i think that i ought to cut it out, but it feels so damn good to just ramble.

it could be that it is really late.
or a bit early by other standards.
either way, it is not time to eat.
boy oh boy do i think i want to.

what caused this notion that 5 a.m. is the perfect time to nosh, is a pretty dish
in one of my favorite colors.
it was shown on poppytalk, the fantastic blog.

this celadon dish is a stunning thing to my eyes.
it is shown filled with rice krispie treats.
ones made for grown-ups.
i am not sure that i am an adult yet, in spite of my
stinking looking sofa that was purchased brand new
having paid off a college loan years ago
and other assorted things that suggest age.

i am a food snob.
that sexy, luring dish was filled with a confection i never would have constructed as a child.
i have like all new yorkers of a certain guilty,funny, self-loathing
woody allen movie appreciating
(mostly the early movies though),
seinfeld show quoting
been through therapy.
the best result of all of this introspection is that now
i can now enjoy reading 'people' magazine in public
as well as
gobble up some groovy rice krispie treats.

making them incites incredible joy for my youngest child.
the boy is trying his best to be too cool to admit to such glee.
i dare not taunt my husband, cause this new variation for grown folk is based on the familiar
melted margarine, rice krispies, and marshmallow trifecta.
it is not and never will be good for his healthy living style.
It requires using the well appreciated, under utilized charms of
Buerre Noisette.

this is the delicate melting, allowing foam to develop and ultimately stirring into a pale golden
butter form where the butter solids have dropped down and caramelized.
i tell ya.
this is mixed with the marshmallow part and then
combined with the krispies.
tiny bit of kosher salt is sprinkled in.
this is something like the fad for caramels with salt and bittersweet chocolate with salt.
i think that the entire recipe needs to be investigated heavily.
and i am just the foodie that has been saving my gorgeous
large flakes of sea salt for such an occasion.
these oceanic salty bits only come out when i pan sear some skirt steak in my cast iron grill pan.
yep, i am that kind of foodie.
good thing the cholesterol police are not always looking.

so i bid you adieu,
while i go back to lick the spatula.
i am fantasizing about the cashews and chocolate to be added next time.

mmmmmm. the excitement alone may do me some harm.


bargaining and sketchbooks

sometimes when you think you need to try to improve yourself...
because perhaps you are feeling high,
or a little low...
you make a little deal with someone.
a bargain with my needs over anyone else's.
the bargaining is like an auction in reverse gear ...
where i try to get the most return for the least amount of effort on my part.
i bargain with anyone i think i can gain my dream from.
these moments can be had with
a version of a supreme being,
the butcher,
a friend,
simply myself.

i do it all the time.
for unknown reasons, i have a lot of what i think are good ideas.
i have them as i drift off to sleep or battle insomnia.
it is at these times,
i wish to hell
that i knew where i put my stinking notebooks.
i have all kinds of them.

amongst the collection are
lined composition books like 'HARRIET the SPY',
black paper or fabric, hard covered books with blank paper inside; in many sizes,
ones made for quick note taking when i am at a bookstore,
one i received as a gift with silk exterior and mulberry leaf paper interior pages,
ones with recipes and notes for adaptations jotted in them....
i have all kinds of them.
the interior covers have so many vital phone numbers and email addresses scrawled on them for posterity.
small card catalogs could store all the info i have scratched and dribbled and sketched into them.

the one thing that they all have in common, is that i lose them.
it is so unbelievably frustrating.

when my husband had a few health issues over the past years,
his rheumatologist suggested that he not drink while taking meds.
ok, not a problem.
he was willing to do just about anything to feel like his old self.
not anything i can blame him about.
however, we gave up the ole nightly beer or glass of wine.
now of course he feels great and is more likely with the ditching of many of those obsolete meds,
to have a glass of wine every month or two.
i gave it all up, simply cause it was bad to be the only one with a jelly jar
filled with nice chardonnay.
the real problem is that i need that glass of something to make me focus harder.
at least i think so.

when i was younger, living in harvard square, bartending and waitressing, retailing,or perhaps in one of my office jobs,
life after a shift included a small 'party'.
(more often than not).
when i went a little overboard by my current standards,
i would consider the obvious chance of misplacing my things in my apartment.
i needed a consistent strategy to employ.
my knee jerk reaction to a flawed memory was that i would put stuff away extra carefully.
the next day when my keys were needed
i could find them.
my friend who was the key guy and locksmith in harvard square
made so little money from me over the years because of this habit.
good thing we had many other interests in common other than my need for replacement keys.

i think i had an antidote that most of the students
and other denizens of the 'square' could have used.
it was fear.
of course, many of them just did not completely freak out when they lost stuff.
the reality that new stuff was around all the time and lost items could be replaced
without years in therapy
was fine with them.
i just am not that easy going.
never have been either.
stretched to the max by little itty bitty things.

big big big sigh here.

so i think i must have that losing stuff gene in me, it is not for keys
(hopefully for a real long time from now still,cause i do not want to lose them EVER....
i think i am getting woozy just thinking about it.).
it is in fact for my sketch/notebooks.

please think of me kindly tomorrow.
i plan to go into the world to find
a huge bottle of chardonnay,
two jelly jars
for my man and me to clink together
a brand new stinking
i am sure if i get a new one,
i might find one of the older ones.
you know the kind....
incomplete, but with one extra important piece of info in it that i have
been searching for over the past couple of months.

wish me luck and i will raise a jelly jar to you .
perhaps those books will come out of hiding
from somewhere ?
i sure hope so.
my brain feels like an overfilled filing cabinet with papers sticking out of all of the drawers
bulging at the sides, and now filled with redundant info.

nighty night all...

Monday, March 28, 2011

alluvial filing and trying to go a little sideways.

a long time ago
in a city called Boston,
i worked in an office.
yep, i reported to grownups.
granted, i could vote and drink beer legally,
i just was not all that mature.
this is not to say that i am very mature today... since my current goal is to play as much as possible
and if it is a perfect day, it will be in my jammies.

however, before i digress too fully i will try to explain.
i was going to architecture school by night in Boston.
by day, i dressed up as closely to what i thought a professional might look like.
this was a little easier than one might think,
since mostly black clothes were the uniform of
any designers' choice.
luckily for me, i was in an office that had amongst its good points,
proximity to the main
Filene's Basement store.
I could wear things then that looked very nice on girls with waistlines.
and there was a lot of options in pretty then.
my favorite find was a yellow and orange damask cotton pattern
interpreted in a short sleeved top and long pleated skirt set
both from Calvin Klein.
the pair were sold to me giggling with glee for
$38.oo apiece.
i also had a silk chartreuse blouse
that i wore with a robin's egg blue, Ann Taylor, linen pencil skirt.
that was another outfit for about $70.
i was also known as the girl in the office that wore pink.
for the black clothed, it was ever so scandalous!

when you came for an interview
(and if you were female),
& if you wore lipstick
automatically you were not hired.
(by now if you are wondering if there is a point to this, i am getting there).

there were 3 partners in this largish office.
one was a long tall gracious quiet fellow named John.
i think he was just hiding in his office.
he spent a lot of time smoking in there.
we always thought he was too elegant for the rest of us and was just waiting to retire.
if nothing else he was removed from us as much as he could be.
i think he was the money man.

another is cause for many curses still to this day.
she was a well enough respected woman in the days when women were not really architects.
she was horrible.
and amongst all the other members of the staff,
she was called the 'BLACK WIDOW'.
she had married one of the founding partners of this office.
we all speculated that she married him and then killed him.
did i mention that she was a misery of human kind?
think martha stewart, barking out orders, thinking she had talent,
but not having it.
she was a queen shrew.
not that i bear any hostility or anything.
she really hated me. and was not at all subtle about it.
she was surprised after i left her office, that i still practiced architectural design.
after all, if you left her office, you must have died
or met with some evil outcome.
remember, she was the 'BLACK WIDOW'.
she mocked me in public,
EVEN though
i did not work for her any more...
and she could not take any credit any more for any of my work.
Luckily no one other than me and my friend Kathy noticed.
(i was working with Kathy by then. she was another female architect
without any of the crap that the old witch dished out.)

all three of us (kathy, me and the black widow)
were at the grand opening of a Women's Shelter.
Kathy had been invited as she was the architect for the project and
had both designed and overseen its construction.
it was an award winning project for both the city and amongst local architects.
It was a phenomenal building from an existing building shell in the South end of Boston.

{this was kathy.
she rocked all that was good about women in our profession,
she was generous and gracious beyond the pale.
she was the antidote to the kind of woman i had worked for previously}.

the third partner in the firm i started discussing...
was a guy named bob.
bob rode the subway and then the bus to his home.
he was sensible about being 'green' way, way, way ahead of the curve.
he wore basic clothes. ones that he could be comfy at work wearing.
he was the antidote to the fussy queen and the j.pressed partner in his office.
bob had some people skills.
as many as one could hope for from a "guy from MIT".

in boston there were 3 architecture schools.
one was Harvard, where you learned how to design a better box.
the second was MIT. this was where you learned how to build anything.
it was jokingly referred to as the graduate school for carpenters.
i attended the Boston Architectural Center.
it was where you learned how to describe all things to be actually made,
then draw them and build them.
it was more of a blue collar kind of place.
we of the BAC worked to be able to communicate our ideas.
often though it was to the other two populations :
designers and craftsmen.
(Harvard and MIT grads).
this is not to say that our BAC population wasn't peppered with fantastic carpenters,
electricians, plumbers and designers as well.
it was an undergraduate program unlike the
Harvard and MIT programs.
this made our experience in the work arena a little lower
on the assignment ladder.
we were undergraduates with skills, not masters candidates.
pecking orders being what they were.

(and now back to something along the path to getting to my point...
fool that i am, and how i go on so...)

Bob did all the nuts and boltsy things.
what i remember him most for was his dry sense of humor.
he also added a vital phrase to my world.
it has been used many times since.
i feel obligated to admire him for both his respect for this
as well as letting go of the guilt related to taming it.
the phrase is:


it is all about not putting things away
piling them into discreet layered groups.
i understand that system.
it is something that has overtaken my life.

i have magnificent piles all over my house.
they hold specific groups of things in each.
there are satellite elements nearby.
there are collections that are similar,
yet amassed on the other side of the house.
there are piles of things that are completely unrelated
and for these dissimilar elements, they are bonded together.
all in all, if there is a potential to group some stuff, i will likely take it.
so messy to others,
so hard for them to take in,
so hard for my husband to ignore
(he has a similar system in play, but is incited by mine.
there are tangoing piles everywhere...
i think that his piles and mine play footsies when we are not looking.
he seems to be unable to ignore my pilery when his is less orderly...harumph. )

anyways, it is time for me to shower.
drink some tea.
and start to dig into the

please wish me luck and hope that i survive myself.


and now to share how bad the alluvial piles are...
i think if you lasted this long, you deserve some context.

MESSIEST of the mess.
trash pail is in the middle.

secondo messiest... the table top

more and yet more...
so embarrassing.

if i work hard though,
i shall be able to finish filling up the shoe boxes inside of these two cabinets.
moving forward to horizontal spread.
not just vertical

Right Cabinet

Left Cabinet

Pickle Jars filled with Ribbons

paper supplies and other goodies
on painted red shelves
Plenty of storage areas, just time is lacking
to keep on sorting and storing my fun stuff.

now i am bidding you adieu.
i have some labels to make.
it will help me move forward a little with this overwhelming project.
the one where i hope that all that is
alluvial will go sideways.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

hippie wannabee out walking & mustaches

today, no matter what tone was used, i was unable to get the result needed from the family.
i have been without a car,since mid-december
my wings have been clipped.
not fun.
the following 4 things are car dysfuntional :
1}it is now just a housing for a detached battery
(thank you graham,sarcastic tone here. the detachment solidified my hopelessness)
2} a dead starter.
3} invalid shocks and the ball joints need replacement.
4}no real steering ... the piece to repair this is really expensive
and is
the most needed for my driving dreams,
you know,,,, freedom.

i have been in the house for months now.
it is not truly a problem... since my blood pressure has dropped hugely.
driving my kids to and fro to their daily crap...
within the uselessness of my car...
in local Providence traffic
(the land of the optional turn signal)...
well, not having that responsibility has been pretty darned nice.
shhhh. don't tell my husband.
i implore you.

anyways, no one would walk my poor pupster today.
so i did in a fit of theatricized pique.
i actually kind of like it.
both the walking and the option on throwing a good huff as i blew out the front door ...
some movement is good for my sedentary life.
it breaks up the solidly seat-bound lifestyle i have embraced.
my dog is more faithful to me when i care for him.
the kids do house chores when i am gone,,, to appease my creamy yet nutty center.

another component of my life in the green chair is that i get to enjoy my wake-up rituals.
this includes a little internet time while drinking home brewed starbucks coffee.
i know, you are shocked that i still breath with all this non-active stuff i revere.

i left the house after the dog walk
to get some supplies for a couple of half built necklaces.
i was able to purchase some of the stuff that has held up progress.
as boring as it is, i needed some jewelry supplies.
shortage of time constrains my wonder and wanderlust.
in and out in 20 minutes.
wahoo, a new personal best.

after this, the next errand was to purchase some coffee.
As the nearest starbucks is next to the brand new
i felt a quick dawdle through the store was warranted.

unintentionally, i actually picked up a job application.
(bearing in mind, i had on dirty & baggy jeans with a pale apricot sweatshirt too.
clearly not my finest hour, fashion-wise).
i got my coffee
and had it ground after my adoration of all places was completed.

i had a pair of thoughts.
what happens to old hippies?
when are you too old to be hip?

these two things came together like a pair of cymbals clanging loudly.
who is the group of artists that i share space with when i try to participate in a craft show?
it is a venn diagram of the two groups overlapping.
there are the old hippies.
(i am a wannabee of this set)

now as an aging hippie wannabee,
(now referred to as HW)
i am a little suspicious of the much younger crowd my 17 yo son has dubbed:
HiPstER DuFusseS
i am agog that they have all the bennies of youth in their back pockets.
if their pants have them.

i am envious.
i do not enjoy that folks whose hormones support real hair in proper places,
love fake mustaches.

the love of all things mustachioed mystifies my HW self.
the HD's make them out of felt. felted wool. wool. paper. paper mache. jigsaw cut wood. carved wood.
adhere them on a stick, on a mask, on eyeglasses, on elastic ear loops,on mirrors etc.
i am not amused.
remember me as the poster gal for hair envy.

my age group is battling a very tough uphill war with nature.
if you wait long enough, you have all kinds of hair sprouting from fresh untapped places.
men have their ears and noses.
i dare not investigate anything further, lest i call an ambulance first.

women have their chins and yes, natural mustaches.
i really NEVER had
mustache envy ever.
not even over magnum p.i.'s flourishing lip brushes.

i plainly refuse to shave my face at all.
waxing requires growing it out.
can't go there.
as a matter of fact, i speak for a large group of women of a certain age.
(i know this because my friend was put into a chemical coma last year. when she came out of it, she was wacky as all hell, yet she asked me to pluck her whiskers before she could actually go to the bathroom.)
we are plagued by these small sharp surly, age identifying whiskers.
i am thinking of treating my artistic,
duct tape loving self
to the joy of taping it all off
and ripping quickly.
(duct tape is reported to work wonders with wart removal. )
and yes i am a little on the side of experimental.
of course this is supported easily by my winter hibernation-loving
(house cave)
house potted self.
who would know if this experiment went horribly, disfiguringly poorly?
i am in the bosom of my family after all.
all kinds of unconditional love here!
(although they are the first ones to mock me on any given day ).

and then there is the love of flowers.
hippies love flowers.
we love acid bright colors.
and now they are back in vogue.
just check out any of the crafters at a show.
there is a sub-species of them.

my daughter is an art student in a boston college these days.
my son calls her and her kind, HD's.
really, she is the prototype.
without her and her friends, how would we be able
to identify the artistic royalty that is
the HD?

the HD styling is recognizable easily with the obvious external costumery.
they sport thick black frames for their eyeglasses.
skirts over their pants
(obsequious jeggings!).
their many hairstyles require uber-short bangs and skinny braids.

avocado green, burnt orange, goldenrod yellow, browns & gray blue figure largely
in their clothing palettes.
(think dead refrigerator colors)
Never forget about BLACK.
the uniform color to which all others bow as accent tones.
she and her friends support this color-way.
the one that popularized household appliances in the 70's.

"Not for nothing", as they say in these here parts,
but HIPSTER DUFUS is the unrecognized
HIPPIE model. Oh. point. two .
yes, hippies,HW's and HD's
are cut from the same bolt of cloth.
sorry kids.
NOTHING is new.
I am sitting in that bunny eared shape thing that is the overlapping part of the venn diagram.
i have to
try my best to share well
and play nice in each circle.

just remember though,
we oldies, have all kinds of old lady hair and are not afraid to use it.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

layers of romance & onions

i am sometimes baffled about what to write about.
i guess this venue is my way of overcoming
many many social and emotional issues of the childhood i experienced.
my mom was a college professor of american literature.
she taught many a student how to write.
her specialty was teaching other college professors how to teach writing .
my skills in this were not at all up to her standards.
(a case of the cobbler's children have no shoes).
this allowed her to experience one or two disappointments .
it was a roller coaster.
we both have survived it, and i keep writing.
(MY own WAY)
{tee hee!}
someday perhaps, our standards will coincide.

this is not what i want to talk about here and now.
now my thoughts have arisen from a simple task.

i was just cutting up some onions for dinner.
i truly have no interest in cooking every day or night.
sometimes i truly enjoy it.
i am suspicious that this joy is so fleeting.
of course having done this stuff for myself
and then my husband
and my kids
and then other folks...
(and this is not in a specific order....)
well the charm of these tasks have dulled over time.
i blame a lot of it on not having the best or favorite ingredients at hand always
or being tired
or pandering to picky-ass eaters
(you all know who you are... and your names are all Griffin)
or being interested in anything else at the time.

of course in the beginning of any of my relationships, i have always liked to cook to impress.
i started dating my husband 28 years ago
give or take a few days.
he was engaged to his high school girlfriend at that time
and still not married after 10 yrs.
it was a risk i was willing to take.
so i went to my own school with "gourmet" magazine.
i sat with a massive pile of mags and cookbooks.
i made a master list of what ingredients i needed.
i learned how to make him some eggs benedict for breakfast with hash browns .
i poached the eggs perfectly.
so very proud of myself.
(uh oh, i think i am developing a theme here)
and i was so wrongly proud.
the eggs split open with the tiniest prick of the tines of a fork.
just a gentle pop
the yolks ran down the mountain of potatoes flavored with paprika and other spices,
the ham,
english muffins toasted to craggy expectations,
and finally
intermingling with the hollandaise sauce.

i squeezed those lemons by hand,
melted the butter in a small pan,
dropped a few drops of butter into the eggs, yolks and lemon juice,
tempering it all slowly
following up with constant
whisking til the sauce emulsified into a sleek silky gorgeous fluffy tasty thick topping.
i poached the eggs on my two burner oven top,
i made the hash browns like i had learned to do while camping in high school.
it was a crowning achievement.
at least in my mind.
my husband ate it all.
he tolerated my eagerness with grace and compliments.
later that day, he disclosed that he hated runny eggs.
in any manner or shape.
freaking ugh.

so many years later,
in the post apocalyptic breakfast mode...
i am harnessing skills of chopping onions and making tasty,
ones especially low in cholesterol.
my husband, like many ogres past and present
has dietary/health related
food requirements.
did i say picky?
try it with a doctor's note.
still aggravating.

however backing up to the ogre crack.
in the first and best movie with
in it's title...
not only do ogres have many layers like an onion,
but so does my husband.
layers and layers and layers.

Many years into the romance,
or should i say layers later?
we found ourselves into a modest case of burnout.
at this time i was going to architecture school at nights
(5 out of 6th years)
i had abandoned my jobs as a knitting store sales person,
and a nanny.
i still performed the jobs as a bartender-waiter on weekends
and in an architectural office M-F 10-7 pm.
school after that.
i was totally cooked.
my husband and i took an overdue vacation.
we went to puerto rico.
it was heaven on earth.
we stayed in a charming guest house only a short block away from the beach.
it was so darling.
of course, we barely noticed until later, that it was a gay guest house.
we were the token oddballs.
the fruit and coconut rum infused cocktails under the bougainvillea with exotic birds were
extra delish.
i wish i could go back
the owners turned us on to some kick butt little hole in the wall places to eat.
we possibly at beans, rice and pork chops
many or all days in a row.
so began my love affair with
rice and beans.

later one of chris'
carpentry buddies made some for a dinner we ate together.
i had that throw back to the beachy life of a spectacular week in paradise.
he told me how he made his rice and beans.
i make them to this day.
moderately faithfully.
20 yrs of the same recipe and minor tinkering,
has allowed us to need to branch out a tad.

so i offer you the following recipe for my current obsession in the land of
high fiber, low fat
tasty as heck
potentially vegetarian/vegan
heart healthy
leftovers (if planned for) are even better.


3-4T. olive oil... add more or less as you like
1 onion diced
several ribs of celery diced
a couple of carrots also diced
about 8 pimiento stuffed green olives, diced as well
ham... diced. (optional if you should choose to go with the vegetarian option just leave this out.)
1 can of goya brand black beans. rinsed and drained. (i love this brand for the pop top can. it saves my mind while i am making this gorgeous composition).
1/4-1/2 t. red pepper flakes use more than you think would be good, if you like hot food. it mellows with cooking.
2 T. chili powder
2 Tcumin powder
3-4 minced cloves garlic
1/2 t. of oregano
some basil fresh is nice, but 1 t. dried works too.
2 c.rice
4 c.water.
the proportions are amorphous, they are to your taste... all except the rice and water. they should always be two parts water to one part rice. there are better ways to add the water to the rice, however i have found that measuring is good for a predictable result.

1} pour olive oil into the pan with some red pepper flakes. heat gently and add in the onions, celery,carrots, and let cook until the onions are translucent; also add in the chili, cumin and oregano. then a heap of roughly chopped garlic and the olives.

2} stir this until you feel it is pretty well combined. add in the ham to the mix if you are using it.
let the ham get a little cooked looking like canadian ham.
the light carmelization of the meat adds loads of flavor. also, since all of the spices except the basil are cooking in with the olive oil at the front end of this experience they too will infuse the oil. oil is the vehicle for flavor. its augmentation is the secret to so many many fully flavored foods.
3} at this time, you can add a little more oil, should that be a tasty and appreciated part of this meal.
to this, add the rice. stir and coat for a couple of minutes until you feel a little resistance in the bottom of the pan. this means that the rice is just starting to stick a bit to the pan.
add the water to the mix, stirring and leveling out the mixed in components to the pan.

4} add in the black beans. stir to combine evenly. put a top on the pan, leaving the lid open a crack and the flame on low. when most of the water is absorbed, put the lid on the pan to cover properly and turn the heat off.

5} let sit for a bit (5-10 minutes). this will allow the rest of the flavor and water to finish being absorbed. also if you let it get a little too dry, you surely can add a bit more water. also, you should add some fresh or dried basil at this time. i had a small container of pesto sans cheese that was easy to pop in for that fresh flavoring addition.
6} serve up as highly piled as you like. i like sort of fluffing this at this point for pretty servings.
since we are bi-dietarily interested here, some of us like to put some provolone on top of the rice to melt.
also i love me some avocados any and every time possible. sour cream, yogurt (less caloric), lime juice squeeze, and on this occasion, scrambled eggs as toppers. if you feel disposed, poached eggs with the yolks all runny are also highly welcome additions.

7} this recipe is highly adjustable... and at the very end, after it is all cooked up, you can add a smattering of salt and pepper to taste.
it may not be at all desired, since there are so many tasty tidbits involved.



ps. i think i should clean the grates on my stove a.s.a.p.
please try not to see how filthy they are.

Friday, March 18, 2011

junk is good

i enjoy seeing old stuff.
i need it in my life to anchor me to my age and memories.
as i progress down this path,
junk has a more meaningful spot in my world.

i am also a devoted magazine addict.
this is partially why i am in clutter hell.
my studio space is filled with boxes of mags that i seemingly cannot re-view.
the purpose of that daunting challenge is to see if any old articles or photos
still make my mouth water.
can my ole eyes soak up images afresh?
will i be able to make my
heart, mind and soul
expand if i look at stuff all over again?

last time i went through my mags, i challenged the many boxes containing
20 years of GOURMET.
i had so many misgivings about tossing that collection.
i knew it was the right thing to do.
yet, i had significant trouble bringing it all to the curb for recycling.
then the magazine suffered an unthinkable contemporary issue...
it went out of business.
to this day, several years later...
i still suffer when i think about it.
i have even reached the crazy point where i considered making beads from all the great photos
from that nice heavy weight glossy paperstock.
yeah, right. totally a loopy idea.

when we first moved to Providence, we had an empty house.
it felt like a blank canvas i was being taunted to fill.
then we added 3 kids to the 932 square foot palace.
so small and apparently smaller every day.
(seriously, i can NOT believe how painful it is to trip over my son's humongous shoes.
I thought those life threatening little pain in the neck LEGOs were going to do me in.
they HURT when you stepped on them barefoot.)
yet, as my heart says to wait 'til later to get those mags outta here.
my head knows better.
i think it is time to select that button that says:
"quality over quantity".

I see old things that are very cool everywhere.
i want them.
but there is no more room here.
i need a dumpster in the driveway.
i need to extend my policy...
when my husband tosses stuff out, in a big opaque black contractor's plastic trash bag...
i won't let myself look anymore.
it is a real challenge to stop myself.
it is what i need to do though.

flea market season is coming SOON!
i have a head filled with ideas already.
i need to purge.
or at least start to sew again.
curtains hung to drape in front of unsightly messes are seeming more sensible all the time.
making room for new things is also exciting.
i guess this is the tiny kernel of
spring cleaning coming into play.

that and the promise of my daughter coming home from college.
she is tiny, but uses up space.
i need to find some of my own, and make it usable in
productive and creative ways.
i have all the magazines that show me how i can do such a thing.
and there we are...
full circle.

wish me luck
a personal
to de-clutter.
i will enjoy the company i am sure.
and everyone here will enjoy the increased oxygen flow.


comfort food for funeral services & spanish class

this is a warning up front...
this post has no pictures.
i kind of forgot to take advantage of the photo ops available,
mostly 'cause i did not think about taking any.

my cousin passed away this week.
i did not know him particularly well.
i saw him more than i saw my own nuclear family over the past few decades.
that was more by choice than chance.
my family requires a whole slew of therapists to touch the surface of the prickliness.
for the purposes of this posting,
i shall refrain from telling the tales of any of their antics.
it is hard enough for me to stay on topic as you must already know.

so i was able to see so many of my cousins in attendance at the memorial service.
it really was very very nice.
as these things go.
there was no religious service.
instead, there was music.
live honest to goodness beautiful music.
music provided by his friends and fellow musicians.
most of these folks were "amateurs".
Many of these people participated musically in their lives in the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra.
nope, they were damn good musicians,
not fly by night hacks .
only one woman committed to being a professional.
other professions covered by these musicians and guests were
and other widely flung interests
(at a very accomplished level).
Phil was a lawyer.
and his best friend was his law partner, as well.
this fellow spoke so deeply from the heart that i felt as if i had been privileged enough to
feel his pain in eloquence and palpability.
the relationship that was described with such tenderness,
was not the one i had with my pain in the ass cousin.
i learned a lot about his many other relationships tonight.

about two months ago, phil had a quadruple bypass.
people including his bff, argued with him about his love of eating happily to sate his
joy of foodstuffs.
knowing he had dodged a bullet so recently, he argued for his love of flavor
over other sensible foods... you know, vegetables.
regardless of his advisors,
my cousin eventually chose his lifestyle.
it was "quality over quantity".
he had pretty much made his peace with his love of heavy cream, butter, chocolate, honey, and other
gorgeous, silky, full figured rubinesque flavors.
i guess a memorial is about how you get to acceptance as a part of grieving.
mostly, this remains still as disbelief on my part.
time will sort this out better than rational thinking right now.
i will have to try to be a little patient.


as a topic discussed in our truck on our way to this event,
my youngest daughter was trying to make a deal with the devil.
that was me.
i seem to be the devil these days.
she is a stupendous kid.
goal driven
she has had all good grades to easily land her in a special group within her school.
unfortunately, she is a very white girl.
she is not gifted with any distinct ethnicity within her school of enormous diversity.
she is in a constant state of struggle to achieve some tiny toehold of favor
with her spanish teacher.
this woman does not under any circumstances like my kid.
(she penalized her for not coloring in a white wing on an angel at christmas time on an exam.
some "exam" requirement!
tess' thoughts on the subject were that the paper was white,
so she did not color the wings as she had no white pencil to do it with. )

i have never interfered with this teacher or spoken to her in any manner.
tess will have to deal with people her entire life that are unpleasant.
i just seems so flawed that it has happened for the past 3 yrs. with the same woman.
she does all of her assignments and tries to do some extras.
i hate to tell my kid that this is just one of those circumstances that she is meeting with a brick wall.

at this school, there is an important award at graduation.
as the end of her middle school years is in sight,
tess is driven towards achieving this school's acknowledgement
of her commitment to their program.
kids with all a's for the past 3 years are celebrated.
they do deserve this recognition.
it is not easy to perform at this level all along.
fer pete's sake, no one is truly balanced in middle school. that is why it is in a totally different place than elementary and upper schools.

this teacher gave tess a B+ this last quarter.
it was the first one of her middle school years.
NOTHiNG i say consoles tess about this.
absolutely NOTHING.
i cannot help really.

in the post funereal situation... having driven to and from a Bostonian suburb ... time chewed up...
and not made profitable. ...
i made some comfort food.
and in spite of my guilt about embracing cream and sugar in their most basic combination with rice...
tess now has absolutely delicious,
restaurant ready-to-serve
(this ain't no supermarket Cozy Shack brand.)
Arroz con tres Leches
to serve at her spanish class food fair tomorrow.

i know phil would have freaking swooned over it.
lots of delicate flavoring,
great mouth feel,
silky texture
demonstrably grade "A"quality.
the girl worked my last nerve... as she knew she had to.
she deserves this little boost to get the attention of that horrible teacher.
if nothing else, her classmates will thank her.

i hope she is happy.
everyone needs a cross-cultural comfort food.

since you have hung in for this long, you shall be rewarded with its recipe.
i often double it, triple it, or even quadruple it.
it used to be served at the Down City Diner in Providence RI:

Arroz con Tres Leches

1.c. Arborio Rice
1 stick cinnamon
3 strips of lemon peel. no pith please
1 split vanilla pod
1 can evaporated milk ( i substitute 1 1/3c. of heavy cream, half and half or milk your choice. the heavy cream version makes this sublime however. it is your choice should you like to make one that is different than the evap. milk version. )
1 can condensed sweetened milk
1/2 c. raisins( i like to put these in a bowl and pour hot water over them while i prepare the rest of the recipe. this allows you to wash that weird gritty stuff out of the raisins and not grind your teeth on some odd thing later in the eating component of this recipe. if you let them plump up in this way, when it is time to add to the pudding part, it is good to rinse the raisins again... clean raisins are more delicious in my opinion.let drain on paper towel please.)
1-2 T. sugar to taste
ground cinnamon for pretty dusted finish

1.} In a bowl, wash the rice in cool water. pour through a sieve and re-rinse until you get almost clear water running through it. perfectly clear water takes a while, and in the long run is not absolutely needed. this is a sweetened risotto for lack of a better description.
2.} put the rice after draining it, into a large saucepan ( i doubled my recipe and it came up almost to the rim of a 4 qt. pan when finished cooking. use a larger pan if you are doing more than one recipe full. )
to the rice, add 2 1/2 cups of cool water. also add your vanilla bean which you can split and scrape the vanilla seeds from. thirdly, add in the lemon peel.
3.} Put this on high heat until it boils. At that time, place a lid on the pot with a small space cracked open. just enough to let some of the steam escape. simmer this GENTLY until almost all of the water has been absorbed. this may take about 20 minutes. keep an eye on it so that it doesn't dry. It ought to be pretty wet still.
4.} Add the cream(or evaporated milk or whatever milky product you choose...) to the rice, stirring to combine. Simmer gently, uncovered until most of the liquid is absorbed. Stir occasionally. (one of the things valued in this recipe is to have whole rice grains, not parts of them... it makes for a better texture).
5.} The final addition phase is when you pour the sweetened condensed milk into the saucepan. This is only truly successful if you have not eaten all of this with a spoon while waiting for all waters to be absorbed. If you have chosen to add the raisins, now is the proper time to do so. hopefully, you have rinsed and drained them on a paper towel while waiting for this all important moment. Again, you should stir only occasionally while it has almost absorbed the liquid.
At this point, it remains a VERY moist pot full of temptation.
6.} Please fish out the lemon strips and vanilla pod. Their infusion of flavor has occurred.
I tend to like a sweeter flavor and add some of the "optional" sugar to taste.
This is the best part. you get to taste and adjust the flavor.
sometimes i add some vanilla extract (off heat) or more cinnamon to the pudding. i like a full figured flavor.
7.} This ought to be really wet still. Since it is also very hot, you need to control yourself and let it sit to cool off.(regularly, i have been the victim of impatience and burned my mouth for my lack of control).
i like to stir it often enough, to prevent a skin from forming. although this is a legitimate goal, goal i like tasting it and getting a head start on enjoying it.
when it is cooler, it will thicken admirably. then you can go at it without fear of burning your tongue, mouth roof or throat. (yep, i have burned all three!)
It is good to refrigerate if you are tired and are unable to leave it alone to cool completely.

this came originally from the cookbook called "MIAMI SPICE".
i think it was one of Steve Raichlen's books. it has been in my recipe box for so long, and made so many times, that my memory may be faulty on this detail. forgive me please. i intend not to steal but to praise this fine recipe to the max.

eat in good health,
or when you need some comfort,
or you want to show the effort to get a good grade,
or share to impress anyone who loves rich & simple comfort food.
it is a valuable weapon in my foodie arsenal.
i swear by it.
As one of my favorite food writers, Laurie Colwin used to say...
stand back and admire your accomplishment.

(you too phil!)