Sunday, April 13, 2014

 There is a meme going around Facebook, one of those stupid quizes, that I love to take, this one ranks your life skills.  I scored 96/100, I don't know how to ski, and four other stupid things.  One of the things on the list was driving a stick shift, and I was shocked by how many of my friends said that they can't drive stick-
 My best driving a stick story is from  Christmas Eve of 1988.
 I was cooking dinner with some European grad students from PSU, and around 6:30 one of the women started crying because she had no tree. 
I said "I think the Thriftway over by Alpenrose Dairy sells trees until late" I phoned them up and they indeed had a few left. I had no car, but there was a French fellow, very macho, who had been building a sailboat, and owned a rusted out 1968 International Harvester, that was missing the rear window... he was totally drunk, so I offered to drive. 

The problem was not that this was a stick shift, the problem was  that the seats were stuck all the way back, which required me to perch on the edge/stand up to reach the peddles, it also had that long kind of gear shift, like a mail truck, or a VW van, that requires a pushing down motion to shift; getting decent leverage was tricky, so I drove across town, standing up, with the wind whipping through my hair. 

When we arrived the Christmas tree guy said "did you let that little girl drive that thing?"  to our intoxicated friend.  We got our tree for free, and returned to chestnut puree! Rolf and I made a little flag for the puree and the tree stood unadorned in the corner, with only a few lights.


This woman is funny and amazing!

domesticness heidelcus

Mayonnaise isn't particularly hard to make, but it feels like a pain in the ass to me, due to all the whipping. I have terribly arthritic hands and the motion of whipping things with a whisk kills me.  Whisking, along with writing with a fountain pen, have become tasks I no longer preform.  I think the last time we made mayo, was in September, when a hearty friend was over for a day of cooking and was able to do the whipping.  Mark bought me this amazing vintage cookbook for my birthday, Vincent Price and his wife's work from 1961, with menus from famous restaurants and their recipes! At the end of the book there is a section with Vincent's helpful hints and his own recipes!  This blender mayo was included and it is amazing, the texture perfect!  WOW! Place 1 egg and 1/4 cup vegetable oil in the blender, along with 2 T vinegar, salt and 1/4 teaspoon mustard.  Blend on low for 15 seconds, then turn on low and drizzle in 3/4 cup oil.  Blend on high for five more seconds, and VIOLA! You are done, man! Super easy, excellent results. I added garlic and dill for a green goddess type dressing for a salad.  This is a knock out recipe!

The new kitchen has this narrow little shelf next to the ovens, that Ben the builder built me for my over-sized cookbooks, because he loves me and wants me to have special things (I am totally making that part up, there was extra space left over, because the kitchen is an odd shape and size- I like the made up story better though.)

I finished this meadowlark pillow I've been working on for months.  Getting the feather patterns correct was a bear.  It isn't my finest work, but it comes from a place of great sincerity, which I hope will mask some of the glaring mistakes.

I taught Maxwell to hand sew well enough to add his patches to his own clothing, mostly because he was pestering me frequently to do it, usually when I just wanted to do nothing.  Today I had the machine out, so I reenforced some of his work, and fixed up a pair of pants that were literally falling apart.                                                                                              "The ass is just about out of this pair, do you want me to add the Rum Rebellion patch to keep them functional?"         Is how the conversation began. 
The waiting (for your mom to sew your shit) is the hardest part - said the sage Tom Petty!

Heidi as Polish serf

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Staggering distance

We had breakfast at the Midpoint Cafe, which is about 10 blocks away, which is awesome. 

It's SOPO (south of Powell for nonPortland folks) which is brave, or crazy, or cheap, depending on how you look at it. It's in a funny, little, ugly strip mallish thing, with zero curb appeal.  Thank goodness a nail salon with reflexology has also just moved in, providing some foot traffic.

When we moved out this way 16 years ago it felt like the end of the world, but our little area has gentrified, even if we are only 1.5 blocks north of Powell.  

The folks just south have not done as well. 

We hold out hope every time something nice comes along, so we hope the best for these gals. 

It's owned by the sisters that opened and ran Dot's for years.  I have no idea why the sold it, but they did. 

The new owners have yuppied it up a bit... old patrons got all bent out of shape, but the place was packed last time we were in. 

"The new Dot's has better food", said Mark, and he's right. The food is better and so is the lighting, but still.  I was never a regular, regular, but I have friends that were, and people hate change. 

People hate tomato jam and brioche hamburger buns.

 They just do.

The menu at Midpoint is a little strange, and a little limited. 

The food was good, high quality, attention to details, portions smallish, and a tad over priced for the area, where you can get a diner breakfast that would feed two, for $7, a couple blocks away, at Diane's or The Trap.  I didn't say that is a good thing, just that you can.

If they had any sense they would add some simple egg/meat combos, or some kind of big greasy hangover breakfast.  

The coffee was passable, and the service was excellent, outstanding.

Freyja was cranky and the waitress/owner got that letting her order a hotdog before 11:00am was a really good idea.  They have some good kid menu items at a great price point.  Thinking like people with kids, that is a big plus.

They are offering cocktails until 11:00pm, which is great.  A place to walk to for a drink is a nice thing. 

The decor is charming; a tiny open space with a few red booths and some built in banquets along the walls. My chair was too high for the dinette table, but I've sat in worse.  The lighting was nice.  I hate dim lighting, I know I am a minority on this front, but I just hate it. I was pleased that the place was well lit. 

There is lovely wallpaper and collectable salt shakers. 

It is certainly to my taste. 

I liked  it a lot.  The look was right up my alley, that is for sure. 

Freyja would have liked ham

The lack of ham pissed her off, but she is high maintenance.

Me? I like most things, so I was easy to please, with a giant cup of coffee and some sour yogurt that tasted expensive and had blueberries.  Mark had soy sausage and an egg that looked overcooked to me. 

That is one of the strange things, they are only offering over medium eggs. 

Is the cook limited in skills? 

Is it a safety issue?


There is a large selection of scrambles. 

For scramble fans there is a lot of choice.

Friday, April 11, 2014

We watched "Inside Llewyn Davis" last night.

It was beautifully made.

I happen to love that time period (1961), and folk music, and Coen brother's movies, so I was happy enough.

The character is someone I would find attractive in real life.  A real self centered asshole, with a high level of intelligence.

So there was enough content there to keep me watching, but the movie never really took off, it never came to a conclusion and the ending was rubbish.

A cop out.

As if they had simply run out of film.

At the doctor's office , waiting for the doctor I love and trust, utterly baffled by the horrible assistant that calls me "hon" as if she were working the counter of a diner, and tells me in great length about her problems after taking my history, even though I have not asked or expressed interest. She also insists on measuring me; I am 46, I have been 5'3" for the past 33 years, unlikely to have changed since my last visit two months ago. I detest this woman

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

You're Up!

 Baseball season is upon us and Mark is coaching again this year, coaching and managing the team, the Blue Ninjas.  

Freyja and he are beside them selves with happiness and joy and exuberance and I could mostly not care less, which may, once and for all seal my fate as a terrible person.

Never have been much of a joiner myself, I can't relate one iota to sports, so it's tricky.

I also find the time commitment  oppressive.

Freyja, on the other hand lives to be busy, to be in motion.

Where I like to clean my house thoughtfully and with great attention to detail, then lie down with a good book, or sit in solitude with a bit of sewing, or maybe, on a Friday evening have two cocktails with a close friend in a bar with jazz,  she would like nothing better than to attend three parties and a sporting event, all in one afternoon.

I was talking to my friend Lisa about this recently.

Lisa, also an English major, with an unkempt yard and a dog with the beginnings of teensy  dreadlocks on her delicious belly, Lisa who has a Volvo as old as rattle trapish as my beloved old and rattle trapish Volvo,  Lisa so smart and funny and lovely, said  

"I am just tired and hungry"

and I think she summed up middle-age rather nicely for me, right there on the front steps of her house, that, like mine, could really use a paint job, or at the very least, a pressure wash.

I am tired and hungry and a little bit numb from all that life continues to throw right in my face. 

A lively series of fastballs that I am unable to recover from, or dodge. 

I told Mark last night

"I just need to go away." 

"but then you need to come back... What then?" 

"I haven't gotten that far yet"

Alaska, that might be good.  Someplace beautiful that isn't hot.  Heat would just spoil the whole thing, wouldn't it?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

My little town

New nail place in my hood! Euphoria spa  they are also offering the reflexology massage treatment, not as cheap as the places up on 82nd, and not quite as good, but for $36, for two hours, and lots of sitting around in the fancy massage chair, I will take it.  There is an excellent massage only place up in the mall near the old Food 4 Less, $20/hour massage! I had a terrible, shitastic week at work, so I totally deserved some loving on the old hooves!  Hawthorne nails does a better callous treatment, but this was pretty good for a one stop deal My only complaint is the lady cut my nails too short, and didn't ask if I wanted square or rounded big toes, but again, for the price and the amount of bells and whistles, it was a good deal.  If they start doing eyebrows, I will totally cheat on my girl Yen, just for proximity!

I had such a lousy week and wanted to do something special Saturday, so I invited my friend Jim over for dinner.  I totally had an ulterior motive, since Jim sews professionally, and teaches sewing classes and I need someone to help me make Roman blinds for the kitchen, and I would prefer not to have to pay for the making of the blinds.  I am pure evil.  I also needed a dining companion that Mark could enjoy, and Jim is a sort of sewing BroDude, kind of fellow that also knows about computers and electronic music, so, yeah, perfect choice!   So Jim was happy to come for dinner and take a look at the naked window, and chat with my husband and he even brought along a giant pan of brownies (America's test kitchen recipe! ) for the kids- that's right, for the CHILDREN! We eat the brownies for the children, because we are good people, man! I took them out of the pan and placed them on this Martha Stewart plate, because I am like that.  They were fabulous.

I made Bolognese Lasagna, which is thinner, and cheeseless, not much like the gloopy American stuff you typically think of.  This lasagne has a buttery bechamel sauce, and is made with whole sheets of paper thin egg pasta. 

I also made a cauliflower au gratin with horseradish breadcrumbs, and a sauteed zucchini dish with dill.  I had two extra sheets of pasta, so I did a rustic pappardelle with chanterelle mushrooms, fresh peas and sour cream and dill.  I sauteed the mushrooms in olive oil, and then quick cooked the pasta in the mushroom juice, then added peas, cream and dill at the very end.  It was fabulous, if I do say so myself.

Freyja and her buddy helping shred zucchini, and a giant pile of meats... extra lean grass fed beef, local fatty ground beef, ground Carlton Farms pork, lean Carlton farms pork cutlet.  All cooked down with carrots in a tomato stock, with garlic and basil, and blood orange juice.  Caramelized shallots added at the end.

I tried for two weeks to cut two mats myself to utilize an old frame, that had a print that I had always had in my kitchen, since I had my first kitchen on Broadway Drive.  It was a market scene from Seattle's Pike Place Market, nothing special.  It's a large piece.  Mark felt strongly that we should not put it back up.  He never cares about any home decor stuff, so I took this pretty seriously and decided to change it up.      I took it out and replaced it with this beautiful soft bird print.  A piece of expensive Italian wrapping paper, that I adore.  I found two mats, that were perfect, except not perfect.  Too large.  I tried hacking them with a butcher knife, but failed.  Finally I phoned up the guys at I've been framed and they offered to cut the mats for FREE- Because they love me (ok, I am making that part up, but I do buy a lot of shit from them and I am nice and chatty, and cute (also making that part up). So now I have this beautiful picture up on the wall, and it only cost me $6  ! WIN!

When I was buying the insanely expensive meats at  Pasta works, I saw this and thought, Aha! A sign from god, that buying this insanely expensive meat is EXACTLY the right thing to be doing to comfort yourself after a shitty and rotten week! And you know what?  I was totally right!  HA!

because getting old makes you tired and ugly.
Insanely in love with parenting this yahoo, who apparently is corrupting Moonshadow, behind my back.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

On getting RIGHT in the damn way

As a rule I try to be a polite person. 

I mean I make a point of thinking about how my actions might impact the quality of life of others. 

I try not to be selfish. 

I was raised to believe selfish was akin to being a devil worshiper, horrible person, evil, bad guy

One of the ways I try to be polite, is to not linger in lines, and not take up overly much space in public places.

Rolf often laments the shittiness of bus riding, which is exacerbated by clueless people with giant backpacks. Backpacks they either insist on wearing on their backs, thus making them EXTRA wide, or storing them on the empty seat next to them.
He and I  agree that we would never in ten thousand years do such a thing. 

Good Grief.  

Heaven's NO!

My own issue lately is with a group of housewifey joggers that meet at the Starbucks that is near my office.  Every morning I rush in and purchase a Venti coffee, and every morning I need to put cream in my coffee, and every morning I have to push my way through this throng of self absorbed assholes, blocking the condiment table, like a flock of polar fleeced, head-banded geese.   
The Starbucks is large.  
It is set up to mimic a salon, or a real cafe.  
There are lovely sofas and large community tables. 
But this group feels the need to cluster so tightly and so closely around the tiny condiment table, that I must ask them each time, interrupting their loud, animated chat, to please move out of the god damned way, so I can get some cream.  Most of the time they are so wrapped up they don't move until I ask several time, and have become frustrated.  Sometimes they move a smidgen, a micro movement, that doesn't allow me to comfortably reach the cream, so I sort of have to extend my arms in the is absurd manner that results in spillage.  
Occasionally I am curt and frank, and they give each other knowing looks, as if to say "if she would only don a reflective vest and go jogging, she would be ever so much less cranky."

I sometimes think of my grandmother, who might say "I could just slap the taste right out of your mouth."

 Naturally I don't slap anyone, and I ask fairly nicely most of the time, but I do wonder, who raised these clowns to be so self centered?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

It's a hell of a thing, this rain, ain't it?

Is it bad form to serve coffee to teenagers? 

I offered the small hoard in my kitchen coffee and pastries, it occurred to me that I should have had something more wholesome, like a saucer of milk or some lovely oatstraw tea.

I asked that question on Facebook yesterday and got 42 interesting answers.  Most people are not opposed to coffee for teenagers.  Many are for it. One, interestingly enough, a youngish dad to Maxwell's preschool best friend said 
It is my opinion that teenagers are stimulated plenty enough without caffeine. I'm ok with my teen having a coffee or soda, or even a beer, but he has to get it without my help.

It was a rainy day yesterday, a rain that gave me pause and made me wonder if climate change was indeed going to destroy the world in my lifetime.  

Then it stopped.  

I was lying around on the sofa, like a terrible person, because I am sickish and exhausted from it.  I was reading Orange is the new black and counting my lucky stars that I had never done anything that stupid in my misspent youth.  

Maxwell and his band were playing, not terribly, upstairs.  

They came down for food and because I was sick, I had nothing.  

I had nothing to feed the group of very nice boys, which is not a thing like me. 

I had nothing made.  

I did have a box of chocolate croissants that I had bought to bribe Freyja into eating, and letting me stay in bed past 8:00am on Saturday. 

So in a panic, I threw the rolls onto a glass pedestal cake plate and poured tiny cups of coffee with heavy cream, which is what I would offer any other guests, but then I thought I had taken some kind of terrible turn,where I become some kind of devil, pushing children down a slippery slope, right up to the gateway of gateway drugs!  

I also cut up on small green apple.  As a sort of peace offering to the gods of poor choices.

Everybody has a story to tell

I like to read memoirs; they are likely my favorite genre.

I am nosy by nature, but there is also something humanizing about finding the common threads in people's stories that I love.

I started Nigel Slater's Toast last night.  Mark brought it home from the library for me, the way I come by most of my reading material these days.

I am a huge fan of Mr. Slater's food writing and cookbooks.  I bake his rose and pistachio cake at least once a year.

I like the simplicity of his style.

I like that he never Americanizes his writing, or cookery, to gain a wider audience.

I like that he is not a cheeky monkey like Jamie Oliver (who I also like).

I like that he is classy AND rustic.

The book is predictably well written.  He is an excellent writer.  Both writerly and organic and unstuffy at the same time.  He uses a sort of vignette style, each chapter could easily be an essay, standing alone, which makes sense, since he writes for magazines, and it's likely that each chapter may have indeed stood alone, at some point.

He writes of his mother's terrible cookery, and his father's moody indifference, and touches on his own outsiderness, without wallowing.

I haven't reached it yet, but I know his mother dies when he is nine.

I know his father shacks up with the cleaning lady and I know things go badly for the balance of his childhood.

I've read the outraged outcries from the stepmother's children, but their tales ring hollow and sound totally absurd.  One of the step-sisters (ten years older than Nigel) tells of how her mother inherited everything, when the father died, when Nigel was 13(!) and that the mother kept it all to live on, with the intention of leaving the estate to him when she died.

What I wonder did she think a 13 year old orphan was going to live on in the interim?

I suspect Nigel's recollection of the step-mother's trashiness and bass nature was spot on. To his credit, he did praise her cooking.

In some kind of twisted way, I suppose he owes his career to her selfishness, as he went off to work in his first kitchen when his father died.  Cooking is the only industry where child labor is still alive and normal in western countries.