November 18, 2013

A new habit - Chicken Stock

It may not be so pretty, but, thick, rich, chicken stock is my new love. It's a base for so many choices; gravies, soups, sauces. The list almost makes itself.

So about a year ago I became entranced with a roast chicken. It may have been a few years ago when I was practicing with Roast Turkey and the roasting just leaked over into the little birds. Weekly. I've tried lots of recipes, high heat, low heat, sear and reduce the heat, stuffed, unstuffed, trussed, untrussed, but the one that stuck is Ina Garten's. She tells the story of making it every Friday night for her Jeffrey. I think it's tremendously romantic and inspiring. Ours tends to be a Sunday treat. Moved to the weekend while the kids are at youth group. Just me and my love, a chicken and salad.

The roasted chicken is the easy day in my weekly plan. I get it ready, roast it, serve it and then, ah, leftovers for lunches or dinner and the best? Easy, easy clean up. I make mine in a cast iron skillet. While we eat the pan sits. I heat it up and deglaze with white cooking wine. Then whatever veggies made it under the bird, ends up in the stock pot along with bones, skin, a fresh onion and the deglazed juices. It all simmers low and slow for a few hours and voila! Stock.

One bird. Three roads. Happy am I.

October 26, 2013

5 more minutes

A Saturday morning. One of my kiddos heads off to a volleyball tournament, the other is off to PE, surfing at the beach. I know.

What makes me laugh this morning is the joy of those three words: five more minutes. Teenagers, living to live and needing a few more minutes of sleep is just the reality.

But being the dependable one who can give that 5 minute respite? I'm there. It's good to have this job.

Oh wait...I have to go. 5 minutes are up!

October 21, 2013

Poochie affections

My pooch is celebrating his birthday. So, he's on my mind a lot these days. He's nine and this past year we've experienced a couple of narrow misses with a hematoma thought to be something more drastic and then a lump on his tail, also dismissed and benign.

I'm more aware than ever that the downside of love is loss, but what's the option? There is none. We love. And in the process we learn to be awake and aware of how much we enjoy the other each day.

I love this noble and gentlemanly dog more and more. I love that his nights includes about a half an hour at the foot of our bed, leaning against my leg (if I get there first). There's deep gratitude in our shared pursuits; rough housing, walks, car rides, gardening, dinner.

Yesterday, a kind older man at church saw me praying with a friend and asked if I could pray for him. I listened to his story of coming out of homelessness recently. His prayer request, though, was for Max, his three year old cat. Even with his heavy beard, I could see his chin quiver as his eyes welled. And of course, we prayed. We prayed that Max would heal and be ok and that they'd be reunited when he got a permanent home. As he and his friend Mary Margaret walked away, he turned around to exact a promise that I'd keep praying.

Of course, I will. Because I understand that often love has furry feet.

October 16, 2013


Whatever is foreseen in joy
Must be lived out from day to day.
Vision held open in the dark
By our ten thousand days of work.
Harvest will fill the barn; for that
The hand must ache, the face must sweat.

And yet no leaf or grain is filled
By work of ours; the field is tilled
And left to grace. That we may reap,
Great work is done while we're asleep.

When we work well, a Sabbath mood
Rests on our day, and finds it good.

-  Wendell Berry, from A Timbered Choir.

I'm reminded, and quite grateful in this, that I can plant the pumpkin, water the pumpkin, peel away the browning leaves, but all of life requires the filling.

In me, the filling comes when I pull the weed and allow for that seeping in of the Spirit.

October 07, 2013

The only things I need.

Well, there they are. The only things I really need in the kitchen. Or at least the utensils I use the most. Love the most. Would not want to live without. 

When I started cooking, I was enchanted by all the beautiful and wonderful things at the cooking stores. I'd meander in Montana Mercantile, waltz the aisles at Williams Sonoma and saunter at Sur La Table Seattle, looking at all I thought I needed. I love my heavy red striped mixing bowls and the drawer filled with cutting, zesting, reaming gadgetry. But in the end, I learned what every cook seems to know. Side towels, tongs and stainless bowls are what you really need. Ok, and a great chef's knife. 
So tonight, with roasted chicken and soon to be roasted baby broccoli on the board, I sing some kitcheny praise to these tools for ease, simplicity and efficiency. 

You need them. And some heavy side towels. 

October 05, 2013

Inspiration: a clove

After making breakfast, (a new take on scrambled eggs, low and slow with a spot of water and pepper), I found this bit of deliciousness sitting in my windowsill.

I immediately began the rumination on what it might become. Pesto? Scampi? I have basil. I have shrimp.

And then I started thinking about how much eating and drinking versatility comes with a little bud like this.

Since I moved into this adventures-of-cooking-life, I'm not sure much time has ever passed without the effect of garlic and its aromatic flavor in my cooking or dining. Garlic is transitive. It steps into your pan and changes everything around it, including the very air. What strength, what power and then, what joy.

It made me consider the short list:
Chicken, roasted, pan seared, baked or barbecued
A salad dressing
Any pasta sauce
Any reduction, in fact
Rubbed on the steak
Stuck into the roast - the lamb, the beef
With every wine
With every citrus
In French, Italian, and Mexican styles

All good. Not so with oatmeal though. But then again, neither is cilantro.
I'll be happy to see where it goes today.

And I'll let you know. What is your favorite taste with garlic?

August 23, 2013

Women who love:: Part 1

There is a fabulous online magazine. 

Here's the manifesto. Or Part 1:

Let us be women who Love.

Let us be women willing to lay down our sword words, our sharp looks, our ignorant silence and towering stance and fill the earth now with extravagant Love.

I have taken to reciting this as I walk. Especially when I'm alone, around new women. In shops, in stores, at the vacation pool, and before I see the women I love. 

When I first read the manifesto, nearly a year ago, the piece had huge impact. My first thought was so simple and freeing: why not? I am loved well. I also have a big enough heart. And, I'm far enough down this life road to be able to just drop the armor of my 30s and some of the 40s and just, operate out of love. 

Its funny. In this mindset, others respond. Most likely because their inner girlfriend gets the spirit-to-spirit communication. "She's loved and she's sharing." So true. 

It's really that simple. 
And, I believe, incredibly valuable to whomever that other gal is, and to me. 

And you?

August 22, 2013

August and Blueberries

I wish, wish, wish I could share these beautiful blueys from my garden, but they aren't mine to share. They're from a great page on growing them in containers. 

I planted four plants this year. Some early bloomers, some later and some late. All with plenty of acid soil amendment and food and so far, my sweet little bushes have not looked like those above. I'll chalk it up to a cool summer (our Catalina Eddy has hung out long past June gloom season has lasted into August) and a lack of bees. I miss my little garden friends and I'm as terrified as the next person wondering what's next. We had a horrid attack of wasps early in spring and had a couple of areas sprayed. The company promised bees don't live in the same places as wasps and, well, blah, blah, blah. I fear we may have contributed to the problem in hind sight.

On a nicer note, the 10 or so blueberries we have farmed have been delicious. I'm thinking of pulling them up into containers over winter. Really forcing the acid soil and hoping for a less bleak harvest next summer.

So how about you? How does your garden grow.

June 27, 2013

Still air

We've been enjoying cool seabreezy days. And now, the temperature rises. The air is sitting still and while I know it isn't the summer of southern California yet, it will do to consider it such. I've made plans to sip muddled lemonade in my back garden. A new area in my yard. I'll have to hang lights in the trees to make it a summer spot. It will be sweet.

I'll miss the cool air and be glad for the change.
I'll also be wishing for our summer days at the beach. Coming soon. But a looking-forward-to month or so away.

A slowing. A book. A deep breath.

April 13, 2013

Dreaming:: a potter's bench

I'm crazy in love with the idea of a proper Potter's Bench. Not the redwood kind with lattice work that measures 36" W and 48" H. But one that rambles, with a table and lots of ivy, an inset and bulbs.

Dreaming for now. I have a space I think.

Makeshift? Shelves? Pots?

Dreaming on.

April 04, 2013

Tulips -- Failure to launch

Ok, here's the lesson: when you plant tulip bulbs, especially if they're sprouting a bit, don't plant too deep. We here in California don't have to protect the bulbs from frost by planting super deep.

When you do this AND you water too much, the bulbs disintegrate. Gardening is exploration -- just like art. We learn by attempts and I just won't be daunted in the trying.

So, on to the lemon tree.

March 01, 2013

Attending the gift. A patch of dirt.

My beautiful friend Vicky gave me 18 pink tulip bulbs for my birthday.

They spent the winter in the fridge.

Today they went easily under ground.

So now we wait.
And watch.
With joy and expecting.

February 28, 2013

Enough:: First fruits.

When I planted broccoli late Fall, I was worried there wouldn't be enough. Tonight it's just me and my girlie. We'll have a little pasta and share this just-ready beauty.
My guess is we may have more than enough...

Well, what do you know?

February 24, 2013

Hints of Spring

It may be 42 degrees out. But spring is hinting at its coming.

February 18, 2013


Gifts are lovely.
These are so sweet and beautiful, last week's Valentine's treat from my permanent boyfriend, my best friend, my husband, my Dear.

They (were and are) enough on that wild day of expectations.
And so is he.

Where are you finding enough? I'm curious.


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