Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Kiki takes a break

You know how kids sometimes have problems saying a name? Well, to the Commander I am "Kiki." When she first started calling me that, I thought to myself, "Isn't that a stripper name?" Then I remembered that that particular girl had behaved more like a hooker than a stripper. Now I hear this.

"Kiki? Kiki-kins? Who's smoking? I smell smoke. Is someone smoking within a six mile radius of where I'm standing! Stop them Kiki, stop them!"

And today I realized that I have been hearing that voice since before I met the Commander. Yes, I spent the morning of my day off on yet another of my mother's wild goose chase kind of errands. Because it's no problem to drive to Richmond and then to Mill Valley. While completing the errands, a thought crossed my mind. Kiki deserves a reward.

About ten years ago, I stopped going out for New Year's Eve. That's when I started my own tradition. I head out early in the day to shop for "snacks." Around eight or so in the evening, I put my tray together. Then I sit myself down in front of the TV to start the DVD viewing. The idea is that I graze from the tray over four hours or so.

Oh, and Happy New Year to all of you! May the evening be safe and fun for you.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Why I can't lose weight

I spent most of my weekend immersed in Facebook. And movies. The movies thing is perfectly normal. The Facebook thing? Makes me want to do a road trip to Santa Cruz to slap the friend who cajoled me into signing up. After all these years, she should know how obsessive I can become about things.

And yes, the movie viewing continued on Sunday. This is one of the few movies for which I actually own the soundtrack -- and listen to it in its entirety. Oh, and that spunky female vocalist in the video? Yep. Renee Zellweger.

And looky. I actually made it out of the house on Sunday. (This was after being holed up since Thursday night.) The Poulet food was starting to run low. I needed more food. (Shush. I know the freezer is still pretty full but I've actually eaten a few items from it.) And usually I feel a wee bit guilty about heading to Astronomico's but then I read this. Besides Berkeley Bowl was still closed for the holidays. (Here's the full top 10 list.) The cool thing is that Astronomico's color codes the seafood -- green, yellow, and red. The majority of what I buy is green. Occasionally I delve into yellow. But I never do red. I kept thinking that I wanted some sort of seafood. Reading the article made it a done deal.

I've made the mussels before but this time the store did not have any fresh chives. Once I had my heart set on the mussels, I kept trying to think of a side dish. And then I saw the recipe of the day on Epicurious. Seemed perfect to me. So perfect that I think that it can be eaten on its on. Now one person did comment about wanting to substitute another cheese since gruyere can be pricy. But I already had some in the fridge waiting to be transformed into something. And oh no. I just realized that I forgot the hot sauce. That's OK though. It was still damn tasty. Also there was no arugula in the store. I'm starting think that it is some sort of conspiracy. If I find a recipe calling for arugula, there won't be any around. I used baby spinach instead. The bread was the country batard from Astronomico's bakery. The bacon was the applewood smoked from Niman Ranch.

And here's an argument that I throw out to all those foodies out there. A great deal of the time I eat what is seasonal. Of course, I eat out a great deal and in the Gourmet Ghetto, they're all about seasonal. Because of this, I happen to buy things that are local as well. So here's an idea. Instead of saying to folks to buy local, tell them to buy the seasonal stuff. If you're in an agricultural area, it means that you are probably buying local stuff as well. If not? It's the first step to buying locally. I dunno. I've had a few days off from work and plenty of time to think about a variety of subjects -- including how people behind various causes could make their causes more palatable to the general public. And maybe not so elitist. (Yeah, I said the "e" word. What about it?) What can I say? The upcoming inauguration has me crazy and all. I keep thinking to myself, "But I want everyone to feel welcome..."

But that's right. Shonda and I said that we would not start any weight loss efforts until after the New Year. I still have a few more days of eating to go. Because I've decided to allow myself at least a few more days of emotional eating. And if you have a problem with it? Well, I have something that you can kiss.

And yes, for the last time. If you come to visit, I will indeed feed you.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

I hate Paris... *

Yesterday was one of those the-weather-sucks-just-like-the-holiday-season-does-and-my-hormones-are-messing-with-my-head kind of days. You know what's really good on those kinds of days? Besides really good food. Yep, movies. It dawned on me that the answer was in yesterday's quiz. But I wasn't in the mood for 16 Candles. Nope it was more of a French Kiss kind of day. And then I decided to just make a marathon of it.

Normally I'd go all romantic comedy. This time around French Kiss was about the only thing to make the cut in that group. What I wanted was comedy and violence. Really cool if both were combined in one movie. So without further ado, I give you yesterday's feel good DVDs.

1. French Kiss -- I love the argument over "La Mer" at the end.

2. Uncle Buck -- Yes, I love 16 Candles but this is by far my favorite John Hughes flick.

3. The Complete Denis Leary -- If this doesn't make you laugh, then I don't know what to suggest. Works for me every time.

Or that whole discussion on throat cancer and the electronic voice box. I had an uncle who had one. He was annoying as hell. (He was annoying before the cancer.) One day my aunt mentioned having to recharge the batteries because they were almost dead and they were about to hit the road on a two-hour drive. My uncle was the worst kind of backseat driver. My reaction was, "Why the hell would you want to recharge the things? I say bury the batteries in the backyard."

What? You don't understand. This guy made my Uncle Crickity Crack seem almost sane. (By the way, thank you, Zombie Mom, for that great name.) Oh yeah. Now I remember why. Because he had been an actual crackhead while Crickity Crack just has some crackhead tendencies. And now you're probably asking why I would want to spend the holidays around these folks. It's all about the stories, people. And the ability to respond when someone sees something on TV that they just can't believe, "Oh no. People actually do/say that kind of stuff. I'm related to some of them in fact."

4. Fear of a Black Hat -- The first of the mockumentaries in my viewing list. The booty as a political statement? Need I say more?

5. Drop Dead Gorgeous -- Used to think this one was a mockumentary until this year's election.

6. Best in Show -- So many things. Starbuck's. Outfits on dogs. Yellow bees. And how many kimonos should one really pack for a trip?

7. The Last Supper -- C'mon. Haven't you ever wondered what the world would be like if some people had never had the opportunity to come to power? Not that most of us would act on these thoughts. And then there's the whole roommate dynamic thing. Next time I watch this, I'm going to pair it with Shallow Grave. That is if I watch it again. This was by far Natasha's favorite of the day. I'm a little worried.

8. Serial Mom -- Probably my favorite John Waters flick. I like to sing along with the Barry Manilow songs. And to yell at the Patty Hearst character, "There's a reason why we have a color named 'winter white!'"

9. Transporter 2 -- I would have gone with the first one but I've seen it in the last couple of weeks. Every now and then a girl just needs some car chases and some basic ass whoopings. Leaves me with a nice warm glow.

10. La Femme Nikita -- Not that bullshit American remake but the original French movie.

After I came up with my viewing list, I realized that once more I had unconsciously created bookends. In case you didn't know, it would be the presence of Jean Reno. Almost made me want to throw The Professional into the middle of the mix. Next time. What the hell. Maybe I'll watch it today. Once you've caught two Luc Besson movies back-to-back, it's hard to stop.

Boris and Natasha are really down with the DVD marathons as well. We each have our own spot on the bed.

What are some of your feel good movies/DVDs?

* I'm not really sure if I hate Paris since I've never been there. But I do love Cole Porter.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Last Christmas

Most years holiday dinners have been a potluck for my family but last year was different. My aunt insisted on cooking the whole meal. It had been at least ten years since she had cooked a whole meal on her own. I had sat with her, when I went to drop off my Thanksgiving leftovers, and discussed the recipes that she planned to use. There was a great deal of disbelief amongst family members though. That's why they had asked for photographic proof of the meal.

I've been avoiding these photos for some time. But Christmas is past. And today I just miss her. It's been a hectic week and I just want to talk about it all with my best friend. But instead I think I'll wash dishes and keep watching the "NCIS" marathon. And eating the goodies I picked up at Poulet on Wednesday. This morning it was blintzes with blueberry sauce. Lunch?

Chicken breast stuffed with goat cheese, dried figs & spinach with Focaccia stuffing with pecans, cranberries and leeks. All topped with Madeira giblet gravy.

Not pictured are the yummy winter greens with applewood bacon. And the orange trifle. There had been some latkes as well. I will need to savor what is left as they are closed until after the holidays, if I remember correctly. Thankfully I bought a whole quart of the gravy this time around.

Trapped in the 80s

Your result for The Ultimate Sixteen Candles Quiz...


You scored 100% You need to take a break from the 80's and join the rest of us in the 21st century!

Take The Ultimate Sixteen Candles Quiz
at HelloQuizzy

We won't even discuss my deep love of this movie. We won't talk about how I made clothes for myself in the mid-80s that were based upon the fashions that Molly Ringwald wore in John Hughes' movies. We won't talk about how Emerald and I used to say that we should have a girls' weekend centered around the 80s teen films of John Hughes.

Yep. We're going to ignore all of this and decide that my score was a complete fluke.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

If you worked with me

First of all, you could have received this beauty in the gift exchange. It's a wine chiller in case you can't tell.

You would have also been greeted by this sight at 8:00 in the morning. The drinking officially started at 10:00. And continued for about 10 hours or so. Thank goodness I don't have to work today. But I do have to get cleaned up. Something about a date. For now I'm crawling back into bed though.

Music to movies

When I bought The Propellerheads's CD shortly after it's release, I was hooked. Apparently others were as well. Suddenly the songs started showing up in movies all over the place. As a result, my imagining of choreography was at times limited. I play their stuff when I want to feel all kinds of badass. I got that feeling from their music long before its appearance in movies. And so when I hear it in movies or commercials, I think to myself, "Gee. I wasn't alone in that feeling." The exception is their song "History Repeating." I spent countless, quite memorable hours dancing to that one in clubs.

Monday, December 22, 2008

I have seen the tape measure

In preparation for sewing on Sunday, I pulled out the box marked "notions." And in it I found three tape measures. I know that I have said that I go by how my clothes fit but I was curious. Now I know why my clothes no longer fit. I've gained two inches in my hips. I kind of expected that. But my waist? Three to four inches.

I am bummed beyond belief. I might have to go back to my last successful weight loss plan.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Gone to the dark side

I have resisted the call of Facebook for quite some time. Then on Friday I received an invite email from an old friend. In fact, I considered her one of my best friends throughout high school. We lost touch in college but reconnected at our ten-year reunion. (Oh, and by the way folks, I'm coming up on 25 years since graduating from high school. It seems kind of surreal. Where did the time go?) Ever since that reunion, we have been in constant contact. If you have received a forwarded email from me, it more than likely either came from this friend or my dad.

So seeing as this was someone whom I've known since age 12 -- and whose opinion I've always valued -- I found it rather hard to say, "No." The minute I signed up, I was suddenly being hit with friend requests from others from our graduating class. Apparently a good portion of my high school class is on Facebook.

For those of you who don't know, I grew up in Richmond -- a city that doesn't necessarily have the best reputation in the Bay Area. Then again some of us like it that way. It keeps the riffraff out. And every now and then I get that look of incredulity. "How can you be so intelligent? So well-spoken? You're from Richmond," is what the look says. And I thought of this as I read through profiles on Facebook. I was reminded that I went to high school with a group of extremely intelligent and talented people. I could understand how others might have been right if it had been merely a handful of us but it wasn't. And so when I look at my classmates, I know that those folks who say, "Ewwww Richmond," or something similar, really don't get it.

I think we're one tough bunch. I remember laughing in college over certain things that happened during my high school years. What? Not everyone experienced gang members running through their school with guns after a gang fight gone bad? You didn't have the experience of looking at some drugged out guy pull a hunting knife on you to rob the donut stand you and your classmates ran as a fundraiser? You didn't go to a school that only had day games because no one was coming into the neighborhood after the sun went down? That was the folks from other schools though.

I think that it made us ready for the worst that the world could hand us. At the same time, we were surrounded by teachers who truly believed in our abilities. And we believed in each other just as much. School was my safe place. I know it was for some of my other classmates as well. These were the people to whom I could say anything.

And maybe that's what's made me shy away from Facebook in the past. These are the people who know where the bodies are buried -- so to speak. (I even got a friend request from the guy who wanted to get married 12 years ago.) I cope, survive because there are certain parts of my past that I simply choose to ignore. But there were some good parts in that past and so now I'm just going to try to concentrate on those.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I'm getting a lump of coal

Your Christmas is Most Like: How the Grinch Stole Christmas

You can't really get into the Christmas spirit...

But it usually gets to you by the end of the holiday.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Where to shop

A few weeks ago, the Zombie couple picked up rings to celebrate their tenth anniversary at the mall near where I grew up. I go to this mall occasionally but for the most part I stopped shopping there years ago.

Why? I am the daughter of the shopaholic fashionista. The mall in our neighborhood? Over time it became known as being too "ethnic." Go into the Macy's there and ask for certain designer stuff that you know that the Macy's in most other locations in the Bay Area have and you get a blank stare. Or the recommendation to go to one of the other stores.

My aunt hated this shit. Why should she have to leave her community to buy the stuff that she wanted? My aunt lived in Oakland and was big on spending her dollars in Oakland. But often the major retailers just didn't have the level of things that she wanted. Because us ethnic folks just don't have the money to spend. Never mind the studies that say that African Americans spend a higher percentage of their disposable income on things like clothing than other groups. Nope. They just don't have as much money so they can't possibly be spending it on clothing and what not.

I spent many years being dragged around by my mom to malls in Marin County and eastern Contra Costa County. Why? Because the populations in these areas had a higher white percentage. And guess what? The higher the white percentage in an area, the higher the likelihood of finding "upscale" stuff in the stores.

But my favorite was back in the late 80s when my stepmother insisted upon giving me a Dooney and Bourke bag every year for Christmas. She would buy me these huge purses while I tend to prefer smaller ones. Besides I was a starving student at the time. So each year, I would go to Macy's -- where she purchased the bags -- to exchange them for something smaller. The first year I went to my local Macy's. I could not do the exchange without a receipt. I explained that it had been a gift. They told me that I should ask my stepmother for the receipt. (I guess this is why some stores now do gift receipts.) How could I ask my stepmother for the receipt? I took my bag back and went to the San Francisco store the next day. Instead of hearing, "Do you have a receipt?" I heard, "Have you selected which bag you would rather have?" This is when I stopped shopping at Macy's as much as I had in the past.

I could also tell tales about my years of living in Williamsburg. There was a local department store in town. A well known fact amongst the African American community was that you either needed to look like a professional or a student to get any service in the store. (Perhaps this is a bit off point but it feels like the same shit, if you ask me.) If I was not in business attire, then I made it a point to have a backpack with me when I entered this store. One time I was dressed casually and did not have my backpack with me. I was invisible. Until this one saleslady saw me and remembered me from my mother's visit to town a few months earlier. Because she remembered that I was a student. But what a load of crap.

Back in 2003, I went to Virginia for Christmas. Women there are closer to the average size for women than they are in California -- or at least that's my perception. I went shopping the day after Christmas with my aunt. At that time I wore a size 2 or 4. (I'm now firmly a size 4.) I finally found one size 4 in a store. My aunt looked at me like I was insane to be looking for anything under a size 8. Because the stores in Tidewater seem to start at size 8 is what I discovered. From what I gathered in my time living in this part of the U.S., size 8 is considered to be tiny. If you wear a smaller size than that, then you need to eat more.

Of course, a great deal of this is colored by my family experiences. My aunt with whom I went shopping is maybe a size 8. She is the smallest woman in our family, other than myself. My mom is about a size 12 while her mother is a size 22. At least that's the size that my grandmother wore the last time we shopped together. And from what I remember of that shopping trip was that she had plenty of choices. OK. So they were old lady choices. Because my Pentecostal grandma is super conservative in what she wears. But my mom's older sister, who is one of the most beautiful women I know, is often rocking something quite stylish. And except for height, she and grandma are pretty close in size.

And this is why I've always thought that the "black" stores carry larger sizes. I've always felt that we have been able to see the beauty in a woman regardless of her size more so than other groups. And maybe that's because many of us have never been the definition of what is beautiful in the dominant society over history. We set our own standards for beauty as a result. In my family, I at a size 4 or so am just as beautiful as the women who wear size 12 or 22. How could we not be? Look at our faces and you will see the same woman.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, these women -- my grandmother and my aunt -- are both emotional eaters. They'll tell you otherwise but I have witnessed it firsthand. I just happened to be blessed with a quicker metabolism. Otherwise, I would be them. My grandmother has complained for years about walking -- as in walking through the mall. It's because of this that I have mentioned losing weight to her. Shopping should not be a physically demanding activity in this way in my mind. And although she's 85, I'd like to keep her around a little longer. She's my sole living grandparent at this point.

Bottom line -- yes, I get pissed off with certain stores. And then I vow to never shop in them again. And I tell my friends about my experiences. I figure that if the store have enough of a drop in their earnings, then maybe they'll start to listen.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

May karma kick you in the ass

Not all of you. Just those asshats who have been on the road over the last few days. Combine rain and the holiday season in the Bay Area and you have enough to induce something beyond road rage.

I reached my peak of tolerance last night. After work, I headed to my local Safeway on the way home. All I wanted was some wine. But the lot was packed. This never happens. And people were doing some really stupid driving maneuvers in the lot. About the time a space opened up, I had given up. I just didn't want to witness the carnage when one of these fools rammed a vehicle into that of another of the fools. It was time to head home.

And then I remembered that Poulet carries wine. Besides I needed to stop in there to drop off my holiday order. (I told you that I would be ordering from there. And I know it will be soooo good.) But I felt strange about just buying wine there. I mean I had pie. And the receptionist at work had told me that it was perfectly acceptable to have just pie and wine for dinner but... I wanted to try the duck shepherd's pie but it was being served with brussel sprouts. Oh hell to the no. They didn't even have butter on them. So I went with the chicken Waldorf salad. And then I spotted that beauty -- the one in the photo. Oh hell. Throw that in as well. By the time I got home I had forgotten what the stuffing was so I had to dive in. I found polenta, cubed eggplant, and tomatoes. Have I mentioned my love of eggplant recently? Well, in case you've forgotten, I love the stuff. So yeah, one day I may have to try to recreate this yumminess.

Oh, and please bear with me. I just recently migrated my comments. As a result, I will be finally making those changes to my template over the next week that some of y'all have pointed out as well as those necessary to make comments the way that I want them. Ya know? Those of y'all who use IE since the text in posts seems to do some weird shit in IE. I know. I looked at this blog at work where I am forced to live in IE hell. But next week I have some time off and I think it will be time to do some maintenance around here. In between partying.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

In search of a post

I'm feeling a little guilty right now. My last two posts? One was a quiz and the other about music. I feel like I'm dialing it in.

It's not that I haven't thought about posts over the last few days. There were many moments over this past weekend during which I thought, "I should write about this." Then I remembered that these things fell into areas about which I no longer blog.

I picked up lunch for myself and others in my office on Monday. I took a photo of the food. I thought that I would write about it. It was going to be a whole discussion about the lack of green in the chile verde. Until I started burping up the stuff the whole drive home that evening and found myself wondering, "Will I make it home in time?" At work yesterday, I told my coworkers about this. Three out of the four of us felt ill after that meal. I won't be returning to that place ever again.

Before this I had meant to write about the holiday party I attended on Saturday night -- at the wonderful Fairmont. I was the only one from my company who attended minus a plus one. The president of the company told his wife -- and everyone else at the table -- how he told the senior vice president that he should show up to be my "date" for the evening. So I kind of have a crush on the guy -- lack of dating and all -- but he didn't show. (And I have a firm rule against dating coworkers. But I question this instance at times because if things worked out, I could be a trophy wife. I think I'm well-suited for that role.) My mom was concerned about the music thing at the party. Except for my boss, all of the guys from my company danced with me at some point in the evening.

The receptionist and I got into a huge discussion about the holidays yesterday. She said, "Why can't people just say 'Merry Christmas?'" I pointed out to her that not everyone celebrates Christmas. She said that my answer was the same as her sister-in-law's. Her sister-in-law is a public school teacher. (I've known this for some time.) I pointed out that in public schools it's important to not show any kind of religious preference. In case you're wondering, Christmas is a completely secular thing for me as I am a Pagan. I can't believe I just wrote that. Because saying that you're Pagan can be tantamount to saying that you're a devil worshiper. I'm not. The concept of the devil is a purely Christian concept. So yeah, I love it when someone else tries to impose their belief system onto mine. But I really love it when someone celebrates a holiday that is really about my belief system. (Except for the crass consumerism.) Ranks right up there in the lack of knowledge of the appropriation of customs and traditions from other groups. Because to do so would mean that one would have to acknowledge that these other groups exist/matter. (And yeah, I've had this cheery holiday discussion with family members in the past. When others doubted the veracity of my statements, my uncle, the imam, told them that I had done a good job with my research and that I was correct.)

At dinner on Saturday, one coworker's wife, who had attended "finishing school" in her youth, pointed out the three taboo subjects in polite conversation -- politics, religion and sex. As a rule, I usually try to veer clear of these subjects just as I know the proper fork to use. (I told my mother after the dinner about realizing that a soup was going to be served simply by looking at the place setting. Followed by a salad. And that there would be red and white wine as well from the same.) And so while I avoid the topics at company functions, I think I would be untrue to myself to do so here.

So this is all I have right now. My father is going to Mexico for Christmas and I'm trying my best to not feel like an orphan once more. But once he returns, he wants to discuss finances with me and my stepbrother. (My stepbrother is currently in the hospital, by the way. Maybe he'll get a kidney soon. Just like my mom's brother. I'm so done with this shit.) There are things that were supposed to be coming to me upon my father's death that may be coming to me now.

So along with the grief, I've been dealing with a wild roller coaster of other stuff. Good thing that I like roller coasters.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My father's ringtone

When I was about 11, I "borrowed" a couple of albums from my dad. I say this because I did not return them to him until I was in my 20s -- perhaps my 30s. These albums spoke to me in some way.

One of these albums was Bob James's "Touchdown." It contains the song "Angela." Most of you know it as the theme song to the show, "Taxi." While I have always loved "Taxi," the song has always been "Angela" to me.

A few years ago when the technology was finally in place to use parts of songs as a ringtone, I assigned this song to my dad. Although I would have known it through TV, my love of the song started when he bought the album. (When I did hang out with my dad after my parents's divorce, my dad and I would go out record shopping once a month. And then go home to listen to each of our selections. I listened to his jazz and he got to hear the Fleetwood Mac, Steely Dan, Oingo Boingo, Billy Joel, or whatever else I was into at the time.) The bad thing is that I love the song so much that sometimes I don't want to pick up the phone when he calls. I just want to let the music keep on playing.

It seems that my love of Bob James was inevitable. He is apparently heavily sampled in hip hop. So if I hadn't found him through my fathers -- both my dad and my "dad" love Bob -- I would have found him otherwise.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Laugh if you want

My friend Marin often accuses me of being a hoarder. "Why does a single person need to have 15 pounds of flour and of sugar in the cupboard? And what's up with the five pounds of butter in the freezer?"

The food stuff? Started when I used to bake during the holiday season. And those three items are always on sale around this time of year so I stock up.

OK. Maybe it goes back to my childhood. My grandparents kept a deep freezer on their farm. It contained the meat for the coming year as well as other items. I guess I'm kind of like Boris and worry about the food running out.

You Are 61% Likely to Survive Another Great Depression

Even though you may not be expecting the worst, you're the type of person who prepares for the worst.

You live a relatively modest life. You don't overspend, and you aren't very materialistic.

You are also quite self sufficient and independent. You have many useful skills.

You can take care of yourself and those you love... which is crucial to surviving another Great Depression.

61%? Think it's time to put some more stuff away. And obviously they did not recognize my deep love for Kate Spade.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


When I make a soup or stew, I usually make two. I don't want to be stuck eating the same thing for days on end. Fortunately there was another recipe in "Bon Appetit" that I wanted to try. I whipped this up on Monday night.

Vegetarian Black Bean Chili with Orange and Cumin

2 oranges
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, pressed
4 teaspoons chili powder
4 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 15.5-ounce cans seasoned black beans, drained
2 14.5-ounce cans diced tomatoes in juice
Hot pepper sauce
Sour cream or plain yogurt
Chopped fresh cilantro

Grate enough orange peel to measure 1 1/2 teaspoons. Juice oranges. Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions; saute 5 minutes. Mix in garlic and spices. Add beans, tomatoes, and half of orange juice. Simmer over medium heat until heated through and flavors blend, stirring often, about 15 minutes. Mix in orange peel and remaining orange juice. Season to taste with hot sauce, salt, and pepper. Ladle chili into bowls. Top with sour cream and cilantro. Pass extra hot sauce alongside.


Now y'all know that I don't really measure. Like the onion? I chopped up a large one, eyeballed it, and decided that it was enough. The garlic? I went for five cloves but I really like garlic.

On Monday I thought that it was kind of sweet. I think in the future I'd use more cinnamon and cumin. Also I think the inclusion of the cilantro just might be necessary for this very reason. (As you can see from the photo, I skipped the cilantro. I had it. Just wasn't in the mood for chopping at that point. Might have something to do with the fact that I was on the phone at the time.) By Tuesday the sweetness seemed to have mellowed. Or maybe I was used to it. Oh, and because I like things really spicy, I did throw in a teaspoon or so of chipotle chile powder. Yes, I put in the hot sauce. Texas Pete, in case you're wondering. I only had about three or so tablespoons left in the bottle though. Not enough kick for me.

Bottom line -- yes, I will be making this again. I just have some tweaking to do.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Daddy's girl

My dad has always been a huge jazz aficionado. It's only natural that some of his fervor would rub off on me. At age 10 or 11 or so this became a favorite of mine -- right up there with Bob James and Claude Bollings.

Later I "discovered" the instrumental -- the original. And I fell in love with Dave Brubeck. I love him almost as much as I love Stan Getz. Many have come close but Stan will continue to hold my heart.

And now I'll let you into a little secret. If I'm not dancing to music, then I see a whole routine in my mind. And this song? Always makes me imagine something along the lines of Jerome Kerns' (I hope I have remembered the choreographer correctly.) choreography for "Westside Story."

Monday, December 8, 2008

I did it!

Saturday morning I awoke bright and early per usual. This time, for the first time in weeks, I did not go back to sleep though. I had an appointment to get to. And then I was home slightly before noon. I was up, dressed, and had energy. So I set to some cleaning.

The cleaning is not complete but it's at least good enough that I actually feel like doing stuff other than watching TV and reading. And wouldn't you know it? The latest issue of "Bon Appetit" showed up in my mailbox on Saturday.

I did some other errands on Sunday, made a brief stop at the Zombie household and then took the plunge. Berkeley Bowl on a Sunday afternoon can turn me into an evil shrew. Fortunately the parking lot was much worse than the store.

And I was really glad to have my new parking space when I got home. I double-parked in front of my building to unload because folks were parked all fucked up -- per usual. But this time I was able to pull into my space behind the building instead of circling incessantly looking for a space.

A little more cleaning. A little bit of wanting to throttle the neighbor who let their clothes sit in the dryer for over a half hour.

And in between I made up a pot of Mussel and Fennel Bisque. (Hmmmm. Apparently this recipe is not posted on Epicurious. And while I have more energy, I don't think I have enough to type the whole recipe right now. If you really want it, email me.) Normally I would have gone for the clam juice but this time I used the chicken broth. I just wasn't in the mood for something that fishy. I know. Me. The woman who loves just about everything that lives in water not wanting something to be too fishy. Doesn't matter though. It was great. Paired with half a small baguette and a salad and it was heaven.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Her favorite

Chili calamari crunch


Garlic noodles with shaken beef

This was supposed to be the post on Friday and then when I slacked off, the post on Saturday. (It was all about the photos.) Never mind. Now you have it.

My stepmother used to say that I was a spoiled brat. I learned from the best -- my father's younger sister.

Last year she pointed out to my dad that she had not had a party for her sixtieth birthday. (She was too sick from chemo at the time to party.) So my dad told his baby sister to plan her party and he would pick up the tab.

My aunt ended up renting out Vo's for an evening. There were at least 80 folks there. And when the cake was served, we all took turns saying what we loved about her. Looking back a year later, I realize that she made it possible to be present at her own wake. So many signs that I missed along the way. Because as soon as she died, it all suddenly made sense. (And yeah, I'm pretty angry these days. Why couldn't she just be straight with me?)

I've known for several months that my company would be moving -- to a location that is about a ten minute drive to my aunt's house. My aunt and I discussed it all during the days before her death. I thought that we would move and it would be easier to spend more time with her. By the time it finally happened though, she was gone.

And that's yet another facet that I don't think that they get at work. I know our new area well because of my aunt. She lived there since the mid-70s. (Of course one of the project managers gave me a hug last Monday after he heard about my Thanksgiving.)

So Thursday for lunch, I called in an order to Vo's -- one of her favorites. I had enough food for lunch and dinner. Good thing since I haven't cooked in weeks.

And then it hit me. I had gotten angry in August because I had wanted my friends to go out once a month, like my aunt had suggested that we do. But going to her favorite restaurants? This is something that I can do completely alone and so not have to worry about getting pissed off with friends. And that Christmas dinner she cooked last year? The first time she cooked in about 10 years. She ate out most nights. And that means that I have so many possibilities waiting for me out there -- some of which I've never sampled.

And hopefully there will be no more photos taken with my phone after this point as I have now received my new batteries.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Single serving

I had thought about saving this post until tomorrow. OK. So I meant to post it last night but my belly was full and... Well, you get the picture.

Why couldn't this wait? Because it seems that this weekend all the grocery stores around here have the ever so fabulous Dungeness crab on sale. At the bigger chain, they're $2.99 a pound while at Astronomico's, they are $3.99 a pound. That baby came from Astronomico's. Why? Because while chatting with "Mom" on the way to the store, she asked, "Where do those ones in the big chain come from? You know the ones at Astronomico's are going to be local. The last time I had a non-local crab, it just wasn't as sweet." "Mom" knows best. Sometimes it's best to pay a little extra. The crabs at Astronomico's were indeed local.

Oh, and yes that is the crab at home. Because I never have them clean and crack them at the store. That's part of the fun for me. Besides for those times when I am need of crab meat, I have found that I can clean and pick a whole crab in about 15 minutes.

A single crab only feeds multiple folks if it is being used in a dish, in my opinion. That's right. I believe in one crab per person -- unless you're talking blue crabs. In that case, you might need about a half dozen or so per person. Usually I go with butter for dipping purposes but this time I went with an association from childhood. Thousand Island dressing always screams crab meat to me. (And somehow the cats didn't lose their minds while I dined. I'm really starting to think that Natasha wants to become a vegetarian.)

So anyway, y'all go out there and get ya some crab. You won't regret it (unless you're allergic to it). I'm heading back to the kitchen to get the other one out of the fridge. And to see if I can clear some freezer space for some more. Or to figure out where I can put a freezer...

Let the madness begin!

I found this over at Cursing Mama's and just thought it was perfect for this time of year.

You Are a Discount Shopper

You love to get things as cheaply as possible. You live for sales.

It's partially because you like to save money, but it's also because you like the thrill of finding a fabulous deal.

Of all the types, you tend to shop frequently but rarely by. You keep an eye on prices.

Brand names are not that important to you. You know how to have style without collecting designer tags.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

But where are the creations?

In my mind these days. Still settling in at the new office; things will be much better there when the friggin' T1 is finally installed. And my home is in desperate need of cleaning -- a result of the emotional slump. I cannot create in mess. Probably because I know that I'll just end up creating more mess. But I need to deal with the mess because it's like the neverending cycle. Perhaps Saturday. Right now it's just too much to handle after working all day. Or perhaps I should just go my aunt's route and hire a cleaning service. But I'd have to clean before I'd let any cleaning service in.

In the meantime, I've been busy exploring the new work neighborhood. When we have an internet connection, I look for new restaurants to try.

Yesterday's choice was Mama Lupe's Cocina. I tried their large combo of chile relleno and chicken enchiladas. These are the items I usually use for testing a Mexican restaurant. I figure that if they fuck these up, then everything else is going to be awful as well. But all the online reviews of the place were pretty positive. The receptionist at work was quite curious when I returned with my food. She marveled at how the enchiladas were not drowned in a heavy sauce. By the end of the day after seeing and smelling my food, she asked me to see the menu that I had. And then I called them to find out the pricing on the tamales for Christmas. (They have a sign in their window advertising them.) $15.50 for a dozen and $3.50 for the sauce. I may just have to order a dozen or two.

Because as if you haven't guessed it already, I will be returning there. Perhaps once a week. And next time I'll have to try the tamales. Or the chile verde. Or the albondigas. Since online reviewers seemed to like those items quite a bit.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

So-so day at work?

The move at work has not been a smooth one. We moved on 21 November. As of Monday, we were still having huge computer issues. As in for most of the day, we had no access to the internet, email or files that reside on the server as well as the accounting database. (In my eight hour workday, I'd say that all things were down for about seven hours.) What happens when I don't have access to these things? Oh, I rearrange my files. That took about a half hour. The rest of the day? Reading blogs and personal email on my phone. Oh, and playing games on my phone as well. We all kept muttering under our breath, "Can't we just go home?" But nope. Didn't happen.

I think I've mentioned it before but I'm kind of an emotional eater. Thankfully I have been blessed most of my life with a pretty good metabolism. Feeling a little stressed? It's either feast or famine. This time I opted for feast.

One of the websites I checked out during the day was the one for Gregoire. Because new month, new menu. Unfortunately the folks at Poulet are a bit slow at posting their new menu. Anywho. I decided I really deserved this one pound baby from Maine. And potato puffs. And banana and walnut bread pudding with chocolate sauce. So upon reaching home, I called in my order and headed down the street.

First stop? Poulet to pick up the printed December menu. Such an awful assault on my senses. They had this yummy looking chicken in a paprika sauce. If I hadn't already ordered the lobster... But I had. Next Monday. Next stop was Astronomico's because lobster deserves a glass of chardonnay. At least the folks at Poulet carry wine so that one only has to make the one stop.

By the time I reached Gregoire my order was ready. I hightailed it home. And I was not disappointed. And for once Natasha was not begging for a potato puff. Don't know what it is about those things but she loses her mind when I bring them home.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Some days I'm a ...

Another song I love currently. And if you want to see the actual video, click here. It almost seems like a dream. New Brit Brit, Beyonce and Xtina. It's like I hit the friggin' trifecta. Squeeee!

And speaking of Xtina, I still love this song deeply. But everytime I see her in the video, I want to ask, "Did Diddy make you hit the tanning booth?"

Monday, December 1, 2008


Turkey hash

Red potato, diced
Green onions (scallions)
Bell pepper (I prefer to use red, yellow or orange)
Cooked turkey, diced
Chicken broth

Boil potato in salted water until just soft. Drain and set aside.

Melt butter in skillet. Add onions and bell pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes. Add drained potatoes. Cook until just starting to brown. Add turkey and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for a few minutes more to warm turkey. Add chicken broth and cook until all is bound together.


Sorry for the lack of measurements. It's kind of like when I make chicken and dumplings. Look at how much meat you've got and everything else falls into place.

This time I didn't use a lot of chicken broth because I still had some of the yummy madeira giblet gravy around. And hash is not really complete for me unless it's topped with poached eggs. As I was putting the eggs into the water, I suddenly remembered the need for an English muffin. Because hash always has to have some sort of bread topped with Bartlett pear jam from The Wild Pear. Yes, I drive all the way out to Pt. Reyes Station for this jam. And it is well worth the $8 $10 a jar. It tastes just like a ripe pear.

I know I said that there'd be none of that emotional stuff here but right now it's a lot of who I am. I think Boris and Natasha realize what's going on since they haven't left my side the entire time. And Natasha has really enjoyed the endless movie viewing. Oh, and there were episodes of "Ned and Stacey" as well. For some reason, the second season is not available on DVD. Humph! And if you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it. It will always be one of my favorites. Damn Fox for canceling it.

I was so thankful for the cats over these last few days that I almost "dropped" a piece of turkey on the floor for Natasha yesterday. But then Boris came in and we know that greedy bastard would never be satisfied with just one piece. It would just lead to endless begging. So no turkey for Natasha. She was more fascinated with the smell of the onion, bell pepper and potato anyway. I am starting to suspect that she could become a vegetarian very easily -- except for the need to eat an occasional fly. But that? She's just trying to keep things tidy around here.

Oh, and here's a question for y'all. What would you do if you suddenly found yourself in possession of $25,000? I'm just curious because I already know what I want. Just wondering what you would do with it.