Blessed are the Meeks
Monday April 09th 2018, 10:13 pm
Filed under: Food

For they shall inherit the earth. And what the earth hath wrought, and leave us all better off for it.

Avocado honey? You know that label had to be green, right?

And I had to try it out. It was just too Californian, too different.

It is somehow not as cloyingly sweet as many; more–grown-up, for lack of a better description, and on one of the warmest days we’ve had in awhile it runs easily.

But that variety is not listed on the Meeks page. Whether that means the quantities they were able to produce were too small or that they just haven’t updated their website in awhile, I don’t know (although the line about the 2013/2014 season being upcoming might be a give-away) but I’m thinking I want to go back to Milk Pail and stock up while I can. You never know. I’m always looking for the perfect honey, and this is seriously good stuff.

(Runs and gets a fourth spoonful to try just to make sure. Or was it the fifth.)



We didn’t have any reservations
Thursday April 05th 2018, 10:36 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

So. Monday when our seriously-jet-lagged daughter woke up we offered to take her out to dinner for her birthday a day early (since her old friend wanted to do so the day of.) We asked her where she’d like to go.

The first place she mentioned was Rangoon Ruby. Which is a great place, and dairy-allergy-friendly. Sounds good!

Somehow to my complete surprise we ended up somewhere else altogether that I would not have thought of for her at all, on the other side of town. But it worked out fine. Even if the waiter tried to surprise her with birthday cake and suddenly realized as he was putting it down that she couldn’t touch it and he handed it to us instead with profuse apologies and embarrassment. Oops. But he called himself on it, and that was the important part.

We’d already had dessert so I’d thought it was safe to joke about the outdoor heater making a great birthday candle, but no, they were trying to do that one extra thing because hey, birthdays. I told the guy he’d just given us a funny story–it was all good.

I was reading the local news today and was, for the second time this week, suddenly speechless. At the time we were sitting down eating that dinner in that other restaurant that night, someone showed up for his shift at Rangoon Ruby.

After, on his commute in, he’d shot at a complete stranger in the car next to him at a light, unprovoked. (Missed him, damaged his car.) Who then gave chase, trying to get his license plate for the cops. The guy then shot a 65-year-old woman carrying her groceries (she needs surgery but she lived.) The first victim stopped and ran to her aid. Next he hit a teen on a bicycle (it was wrecked but the kid’s okay) and nearly took out someone else next to him and the guy, no surprise at this point, took off.

He ditched the car downtown, causing a lockdown at a restaurant there, and then casually walked into the one where he worked.

And said, Man, there were a bunch of crazy people chasing me out there.



Love your dear ones
Sunday March 18th 2018, 10:54 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

The friend I knitted the purple for was wearing an outfit today that would look smashing with the butterscotch cowl, and she definitely thought so, too. Got that one right even when I got that one wrong.

Eli loved his new teal-green hat and the vote of thanks and confidence in his mango-tree-caretaking it conveyed.

Which was as far as I got. I was all ready to tell the expectant mom she could shrink the baby hat for a few minutes in the dryer while the baby was small, let it air dry as the baby got bigger and the superwash treatment would shrink or stretch the fit accordingly. But those came home.

Last Tuesday we got a phone call close to dinner time: my friend Karen (this friend), my visiting teacher in Mormon-speak, had a big dinner ready to set out and she was suddenly in need of people to feed it to and would we like to come? There was no way she by herself could plow through all this.

Hey, love to. A few others showed up at her spur of the moment call and a grand time was had by all and we should do this again, definitely. May I just add, and that was the biggest lasagna pan I have ever seen.

Her daughter-in-law is the one I just knitted the butter cowl and baby hat for.

Karen had a heart attack two days ago and her family was not in church. Any protest of mine that she is way too young for this, well… She is recuperating.

Someone definitely needs me to bring them a good dinner. My pans may be smaller but I’ve got two ovens at the ready and all the love in the world.



The newbie
Monday March 12th 2018, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

So the recipes both said 4 c water or broth to one 2-2.5 lb corned beef in your standard 6 qt Instant Pot.

The meat was a 3.5+ lb, thanks, Costco. The machine was an IP Mini, 3 qt. I did get the whole slab in there–but there was no way on earth that much broth was following after.

Pours in the second cup of broth, slowly, carefully, right to the tippy top of that Max line on the inside. Oh, you’re not supposed to actually fill up to that? (Then why is it there?) Too late. I consider. I could just throw it in the oven and let it take its standard three hours. Nah, don’t have the time, I need it in two.

(Hits presets. Machine says 1:00. Adds 30 for it to cook 90 minutes. Wait, did I do that right?)

Comes back 40 minutes later and I guess I cooked it for one minute and it’s been warming for 39. Joy. Or was it actually cooking and I only saw the Warming button because it’s on anyway when the cooking’s going, but there’s no steam venting out. Resets the whole thing to start over from scratch. Confirmed by pot being unable to get back to countdown right away even though I didn’t open it. 90? Make it 110. Still no idea if I’m way overcooking it but undercooked could be far worse. Adds twenty minutes yet again to be on the safe side: that was a big roast.

Since there was no room for the veggies, they simmer in the rest of the broth on the stove. They come out palid, no surprise, because all the spices are in the Instant Pot. Checks spice cabinet. Nope. Not combining that with that.

Comes back when the time is finally about up anyway wondering if something is burning? Uses oven mitt to do an Instant Release to stop it because that sure beats wrecking all that food after all this wait and oh right I forget just how much of a mess that makes and I quickly throw the mitt half over it and the boiling geyser that ensues anyway makes every knife in the block on the counter next to it a greasy dripping mess, and how do you get beef fat out of the holes down inside that wood? And why did I leave it there?

Waits for the pin to drop. Pin drops. Lid willing to come off now.

Slices and scoops and serves dinner to a very very very patient husband at 7:45 who did not even look for snacks while all this was going on.

The surprise? It’s about perfect. And the cabbage and potatoes didn’t soak up fat and salt like they do in the traditional version, they’re much better. Pour grease off broth and broth over veggies for flavoring on top of meat as desired. Done.



Anne B
Friday March 09th 2018, 11:43 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Knit

Now that was a fun evening!

Back in ’09 when I was ill enough that my survival was no sure thing, Anne decided to make me a get-well afghan and asked if anyone wanted to contribute squares to it. She got so many squares offered up that she pieced them together into two of them.

I love them, I love every person for being part of that, and her for the whole thing. She’d never even met me.

Turns out Anne had a business trip that was bringing her to California, and she asked on FB if anyone knew anything she should see while she was in–my town. I answered, Yes! ME!

I had wanted to meet her for so long. So long.

We made tentative plans, business trips being what they are, and then this afternoon some time opened up for later on if I didn’t mind potential work interruptions as we visited. No problem. I have knitting. I would pick up Richard, drop him off at home, and we could have the evening to ourselves.

Except that he got stuck at work till close to the time we were supposed to meet and she said hey, bring him along too, then.

Two afghans. There was nothing I could knit that could match that. I looked through some of her pictures to get a sense of what colors she might like and chose a circular scarf and a thick warm Malabrigo Mecha hat, thinking, what Canadian knitter doesn’t already have a closetful of hats? And yet it felt important, so I put it in my purse with the other and when dinner was over I showed her the ziploc and asked her her choice of colors without saying what the two things were. Color is everything.

She was quite delighted that what she picked out was a hat: she had had one ready to go for the trip and had accidentally left it home. She was going to need one and now she had one!

The place we’d stopped at mostly caters to the lunch crowd, and Richard asked them to kick us out any time they wanted to close down. When he asked again after we’d finished eating, they apologetically went, yeah…

So we adjourned to Timothy Adams. Hot chocolate and truffles to top off the evening with more time to chat, Adams himself welcoming us at the door.

I can’t tell you how good it feels that we finally got to meet and that I finally got to thank her in person. Here’s hoping life brings her back this way again soon. Anne is just the best.



Baby mountain climber
Monday March 05th 2018, 11:56 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Knitting a Gift

Someone figured out how to get to a favorite Dr. Seuss book…

And that picture I shared the other day of Mathias passing some Cheerios to the dog from his high chair? The dog has started bringing Mathias bits of kibble. Fair’s fair.

(Re the knitting, I finished the fluorescent pink and blocked it and delivered the beaded cobalt cashmere/silk to the friend who loved it as dearly as I’d hoped she would.)



Twas the day before Stitches and all through the house…
Thursday February 22nd 2018, 11:53 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

Finished that cowl.

Found a rental scooter. (The batteries on mine are fine, the scooter, not so much. Props to Richard for asking me to check it out a week ago, not so much to me for not doing so till last night.) The rental is the 2018 version of mine right down to the color so the controls are very familiar to me. Its basket is noticeably smaller, though–clearly its designer was not comprehending the Stitches yarns concept.

Tried to clear up space on my phone so I can start taking pictures again.

Got sent this one from my daughter’s.



First ice cream
Tuesday February 20th 2018, 11:21 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Wait. Daddy. This is Alaska and we’re always bundled up trying to stay warm and yes I’ll hold the napkin for you but you want me to put something that looks like snow *inside my mouth*?

It felt like snow, too–the next photo was of a baby recoiling in shock and betrayal.

The next photo was of a baby doing a double take.

The next photo was this long, thoughtful look as it dribbled down his chin: Cold. Food?

Yes. Yes. I think I do. I don’t know how but I like this. Daddy? More?



Love by chocolate
Tuesday February 13th 2018, 11:35 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Life

My friend Karen dropped by today to pick up the amaryllis I’d promised her (thank you, Dad!) and we ended up chatting awhile.

One of the things she told me was something that in 30 years I’d never known about her: that her family had had an older neighbor who’d never married and had no family around and they with their seven sons had just kind of adopted him as their local grandpa and he loved it. They had had him over for dinner at least once a month for forever and made him theirs.

When he could no longer care for himself and needed to go to a memory care unit, they helped him with that move. He’s 96 now.

She was talking to someone who worked at the nursing home and that is how she found out that the residents got fruit for dessert: but no chocolate. Never chocolate. There was just no reason for it in the caretakers’ eyes, I suppose, nor for the expense.

“Not even, like, brownies?”

Nope.

Well that was definitely something she could do something about–she knew how much he loved the stuff and went to his room and asked him if he’d like some chocolate.

Now, he might have some dementia but he remembered chocolate. Definitely yes. Yes please!

So now she has something she know she can do to cheer him up, to connect to him wherever he may be in there, every time she comes.

And I thought I would pass the good word along. If you don’t know how to visit or what to say to someone in a nursing home–bring them chocolate.

And if it’s ever me in there, dark would be great, thanks.



Hoping for seconds
Monday February 05th 2018, 10:57 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

When the baby steals your chocolate chip cookie and suddenly realizes that your food tastes better than his food…



David
Tuesday January 30th 2018, 12:07 am
Filed under: Family,Food,Knitting a Gift,Life

We are home today. So let me first tell you one story that was not from the funeral.

My cousin David was flying in to Salt Lake City and was going to be playing piano at our aunt’s house. Now, when I say piano, you have probably never heard someone who can play like he can. I’m quite serious. And that house was built by our grandfather and concert-pianist grandmother so as to bring out the best in the music.

He invited all the cousins to come who could and offered to accompany them for anything they might want to sing or play. David being the one who, as a teen, would spend two hours on public transit to watch a show on Broadway, two more hours to come home, and sit down at the piano and play every piece he’d heard note-perfect. And now he’s a professional composer and musician in New York.

It just so happened that our trips to Salt Lake were happening on the same weekend.

I showed up late, with apologies; the funeral and family reunioning afterwards had gone into overtime and I had needed to be there, too. (Richard, grieving his father, decided on one-on-one time with my dad, who was not up to going to that, too, while I went to the concert. My mom was already there.) There were lots of people and lots of chairs set out but I saw none that were empty and simply plunked myself on the floor by the door. No biggy. It’s about the music and the people, not about the seating.

Aunt Joyce stopped David (who could not see me from behind a wall) between pieces and motioned over to me: there was an empty chair over here for me, and here, let’s set up more over near the kitchen for any other latecomers. Which were indeed put to use.

Now, there were several rows to the right where she was and then there was this one single chair forward of everybody else and kind of in the musicians’ faces. And that’s where they put me. Close to the piano, close (and almost in the way of) the vocalists. At least two of whom sing professionally on Broadway and, wow. Sitting there was like I had my old hearing back.

David declared it the last piece, and after that, stood and invited everybody to join him now for cake.

It was his birthday, a milestone birthday at that–I’d had no idea. Well then that makes this all the better.

I caught his eye from up there in my front row of one and kind of raised a finger halfway in a gesture of “wait” and then hesitated a moment, because this was his party, his celebration, his gift to us, and I didn’t want to distract from that in any way. And yet it just seemed a good time.

“I have an original composition.”

I had mentioned no such thing to him while he was planning this. He was surely jet-lagged–it was quite late his time–and he had no idea what to expect from his musical cousin who had lost most of her hearing. He looked afraid that this was somehow going to turn awkward, or, or what, but I was pulling this on him after he’d already said the playing was over and he didn’t know what I was up to and he wasn’t quite sure how to react.

And then I reached down to my unzipped purse and quickly handed it to him kind of folded and scrunched inside my hand and watched his face as he realized what he suddenly was holding.

The surprise. What it was. The crowd roared as it saw. I wanted to say it was from all of us here in thanks for what he’d just given us but I didn’t want to interrupt him in that wordless moment.

He held the black and white soft wool piano hat out for all to see. And then he put it on his head and folded up the brim. “It’s PERFECT! I LOVE it!”

I had wanted to make him one for a long time, and the chance to give it to him in person got it to finally happen.

A little later, as people were chatting and enjoying that cake, Aunt Joyce, who teaches flute, plays professionally herself, and who’d done a duet with him a few minutes earlier, asked me how long it took me to make that. She was quite taken with it.

I don’t yet know how to make a flute hat, but clearly pianos were acceptable–and so I pulled a second one out of my purse, with brown at the brim and the top that made it go perfectly with the outfit she had on.

“No!” in disbelief.

I grinned.

What I didn’t tell them was, I had made that three-color one first. It was in a yarn new to me that took some tweaking of how I usually knit that pattern. I wanted it not too thick looking but quite warm. I liked it–but it came out just a tad slouchy and it seemed not quite the thing. It was good but I strongly felt it needed a do-over. Take out a row here, here, and these few too. I felt very pleased after the second one: I’d gotten it right for him this time.

So then but who was the other one for? There are a lot of musical people in the family to choose from. I would have to find out.

And then when she, the hostess of the evening, picked up his, not hoping nor asking for one in any way but simply appreciating the artistry that went into it, the question answered itself.



A brief interruption
Sunday January 07th 2018, 11:54 pm
Filed under: Crohn's flare,Food,Knitting a Gift,Wildlife

Quite to my surprise, my stomach demanded a divorce from dinner. Richard is utterly unaffected. Maybe it was (hopefully it’s only) the recalled romaine lettuce? It arrived in a produce box, overnighted in the fridge, but all I ever did with it after that was I threw it away after I read the recall alert and quickly washed my hands.

I think I just need a good night’s sleep. I’ll tell you the cowl story tomorrow. It’s a happy one.

Oh and–there was a new chunk out of the pumpkin too big to be from a squirrel.

The skunk smell was stronger inside than outside this morning (I really should not have opened that door) and the car got it, too. It probably took cover under there afterwards.



Trespass
Saturday January 06th 2018, 10:56 pm
Filed under: Food,Wildlife

So here was the plan: today the weather was clear. I was going to get a few things at Costco and then do a quick run to Trader Joe’s, in part because we are supposed to be absolutely inundated with rain Monday and that is something I don’t want to feel any complaints about–we need that water. There will likely be some flooding and there will definitely be some bad driving on the road then. We were running low on juices and Richard is still recovering from the flu and it made no sense not to get it all done today.

I wanted to finish that cowl but it was time to put it down and just go.

I decided to run home between the two stores to put the cold things away. Walking in the door, I noted that the pimply Halloween pumpkin (chosen for its oddities) was still holding court there as always but it had finally been discovered by the squirrels. Maybe time to chuck it into the city’s compostables bin, but the thing still had character to it, I was busy, and I left it there for the moment.

This, into the fridge, that, into the freezer, I walked down the hall for something–

–wait. Can you–is that?

I opened the front door and shut it again fast. Man. I didn’t see the skunk but it was right outside there somewhere in the early dark and it had already declared loudly how very unhappy it felt. I hadn’t heard the neighbor’s dog bark to set it off, and besides, it was closer than that–maybe there were two of them arguing over territory? In our yard? Wouldn’t that be peachy?

It was probably able to watch me standing there in the light of the doorway even if I wasn’t seeing it.

Let me assure you Sir Pepe Le Peu that you are welcome to all the pumpkin you want. Gourmet variety, I assure you. (I would have to open the gate and step further into the dark to chuck it and if the skunk was on the other side of that gate than I would be scaring it into a corner to do so. Let’s not.)

I waited a few hours before I finally risked all and Wonder Womaned it out of there: we now have milk and apple juice and cream for that sticky toffee pudding recipe I want to try. Do I go for the classic, the full-calorie version, or the dairy-free oat flour healthy one (with regular sugar) that sounds like it’s actually more like Trader Joe’s’s that was so good? Is there an Instant Pot recipe? Anybody made this, any suggestions?

The door is now closed tight for the night. The pumpkin awaits (as far as I know, anyway.) Let the wild rumpus begin.



Old friends
Thursday December 14th 2017, 11:34 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Life

I baked Phyl and Lee a chocolate torte yesterday and didn’t manage to finish glazing it with the ganache until just after they’d shown up at our doorstep last night–with a surprise gift from Prolific Oven with “Happy Birthday Alison” on it. What comes around…

We stopped by and visited Betty today, and if she didn’t remember who I was this time she sure didn’t let on. Fifteen or twenty minutes was enough, she was starting to fade, but she wished me a happy birthday and I wished her one, too, a few days before her 93d. Richard asked her her favorite Christmas carol and then sang it, with me coming in and out (mostly out) depending on whether I could remember the next lines or not–it wasn’t one I knew well. His was a voice of angelic intention.

Came home, started a half-load of laundry, all we dare do till that machine is repaired or replaced–and there was a gurgle in the bathtub. Did you hear that? He knew. It took me a moment longer.

It wasn’t just one bathroom, either. Don’t turn on that dishwasher.

We have to decide which plumber to call in the morning, fully aware that we were once given a $7000 estimate on ripping up the front yard for the complete sewer line do-over that has been coming for some time.

Yeah… But our daughter sent us video of the baby’s first crawling, we got to FaceTime with him yesterday and this time he knew exactly who those people on the screen talking to him were, we got to likewise see the grandkids in San Diego across the electrons and Parker, who is somehow already turning seven next week, proudly played Hark How The Bells for us (with two hands!) on the piano.

And life is pretty darn sweet.



Good and busy
Thursday December 14th 2017, 12:36 am
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,Life

Good times, good friends, a good day, good night.