Thursday, December 9, 2010

Identity


This time of year brings out a myriad of emotions for me.

As a kid I had no patience for surprises. Put a present under the tree and tell me that I must wait for several days to see what's inside? Well I'll just carefully slide under the tape to see the end of the package and then reseal it.

Reminds me of a conversation I had with my boss recently. I told him that I prefer when people are blunt. None of that trying to guess one's way though the minefield; one knows completely what one's standing is. This was in response to being told that others don't like "my attitude." Attitude from my part is a response to a lack of communication or a lack of respect. But then I pointed out to my boss that even if the lack of communication is on someone else's part, the end result is my fault. I'm getting tired of cleaning up other people's messes.

Back to the surprise thing. Surprises are good. Just don't make me wait days, weeks for them. Because I will carefully peel back the tape on the end of the package to see what's in there. This would be why after I turned 11 or 12, my mother stopped putting name tags on her Christmas gifts. This just meant that I peeked at them all of the packages and guessed which were mine.

At seventeen I stopped going to church. (My parents are Presbyterian.) This should not have been a surprise to my parents. I had gone to church, attended Sunday school, been an active member of the youth group for years.

I was 12 or 13 when I first began to question. I asked my mother about those years she did scientific research work. How she balanced her faith with her belief in science. Her answer was that she left her religious beliefs at the door -- much like African Americans leave their cultural identity at the door in corporate America. It made sense to me at the time.

At 17 I decided that I was agnostic. The summers that I was 18 through 20, I would pass the family church every day on my way home from work. The pastor would be out front sweeping the stoop and I would stop to chat with him. I would ask him questions about faith and other belief systems. He never once suggested that I return to the church. The only time I set foot back in that church after age 17 was for his memorial service. Because I had to say goodbye to the person who had christened me but had also respected my choice to walk away from it all.

Christmas? It bothers me greatly because it's a part of that life I've been trying to escape. It's not that I hate people who celebrate Christmas. What gets to me is the lack of respect for those who claim to be Christian toward those who are not Christian. The idea that being American is Christian bothers me. OK. Let's get real. It's the idea that one is white, heterosexual and Christian that is OK. If one does not fall into all of these categories, then one is suspect. And I go into work each day and feel like that if you fall into the latter two, then the first can be forgiven on some part.

I have walked through life feeling like I have to hide away a part of myself. That if I let this part show, I am somehow less.

But there has always been that one person who has been the best at seeing the real me. That person who asked me in October if I wanted to take a peek at my gift since she knew my habit of peeling back the tape. That person who knew that I fell in love with drinking tea at age nine and has seen my eyes light up ever since when I see a tea set. Unlike my father who tells me to pretend to be someone I'm not because that makes everything better. And who would never have bought me this gift because he knows so little about me.

I know that when my mother is gone, I will pull out this tea set and remember all of this. That no matter how crazy she makes me, she knows me so well. Like last year when she gave me a cookbook on Indian cooking. She knows my passions without even asking. And that's a rare thing.

I originally posted this on November 28 but promptly took it down after others suggested that I send the text to my mother. I then became paranoid that with her limited computer skills she would use my words to find this blog. Yeah, I know it sounds all kind of crazy. But then again most of you do not know my mother. Those who do know how unbalanced her presence makes me.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The flavor of the season


Last week I joined my friend Emerald for happy hour at the Lake Chalet. I've read mixed reviews on the place but it's a great place for happy hour. It will be even better when the weather becomes warm again and one can sit on the deck overlooking Lake Merritt. I do worry about playing the "What's that smell?" game however. (I still deeply love the ghostridin' portion of the video. Makes me want to head on down to Ghost Town. OK. Maybe not.)

I started off with the Lake Chalet's happy hour special of a Stoli Ginger Cosmo -- Stoli, lime, cranberry and housemade ginger syrup. I then moved on to the Dark and Stormy, pictured above. This contained rum, ginger beer, ginger syrup and lime juice.

After my outing, Maddie told me about a fabulous Ginger Sidecar -- or two or three that had been consumed recently. (Maddie had forgotten my caution that one should never consume more than two Sidecars in a single evening.) This involved fresh ginger being muddled with the brandy and cointreau.

The nail in the coffin? I was perusing the alcohol aisle at the large chain grocery store and spied a bottle of the new Ginger Infused Skyy Vodka. So yeah, I grabbed a bottle. Definitely a ginger kick.

While out today wandering the grocery store with no written list (a dangerous thing for me), I suddenly remembered ginger syrup. So out came the iPhone and as I had suspected, the recipe was simple. 3/4 cup sliced ginger (no need to peel), one cup of sugar, and two cups of water. Boil for about ten minutes. Then cool and strain.

I promptly mixed up a Dark and Stormy. Verdict? Less sugar next time. Like probably half as much. Went well with the sandwich of turkey, cranberry sauce and horseradish though.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Left to my own devices


For the last two years I have picked up food from Poulet for Thanksgiving. This year I decided it was time to return to cooking. Flufficat will tell you that I spent weeks debating turkey or ham before finally deciding for both.

This year there were some old favorites like the roasted yams and red onions. They are then tossed with some Parmesan cheese and rosemary. There were a few new things as well though.

I made some attempts to copy things I've had from Poulet. The dressing was made with foccacia and has chard and sage in it. The gravy is a madeira giblet cream. I highly recommend it.

And I decided to make an attempt at scalloped potatoes. Nestled between the layers of potatoes are sauteed leeks and mushrooms.

The final new thing was the cranberry sauce. Yes, I have made it before but this is the Cosmopolitan cranberry sauce. After cooking the cranberries with water and sugar, you add some vodka and triple sec. When I told this to Kate on the phone this morning, she said that it sounded like a version of Jell-O shots.


Hope you all have had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I need to continue working my way through this plate.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Honesty

Yes, I am still here. When I started blogging nearly six years ago, it was all about being honest. The thing is that sometimes I just don't feel like being honest with the world at large. So first I'd like to share the photos I have taken over the last two months. Because I took them with the intention of writing posts.


The weather turned chilly but I had a taste for ribs. For the first time ever I slow cooked them in the oven. Usually I grill ribs. But after tasting these ribs, they just might be a year-round thing.

And then I found a bunch of recipes I wanted to try -- I believe it was an issue of Sunset -- and so I invited Fluffycat over.


We started with this Romesco soup.


And there was a Caesar salad with homemade dressing and parmesan toast crisps.


Caramelized shallots and walnuts.


Grilled beef roast stuffed with basil, sage and thyme.


Pear pecan upside down cake.

And then this past week Dungeness crab season started. The first crab I had, I simply heated with melted butter on the side. For the second (and third) I decided to try something new to my kitchen.


Oven roasted crab. Roasted in a mixture of butter and olive oil containing garlic, shallots, red pepper flakes, parsley and thyme. Once roasted, I removed the crab and added fresh orange juice to the pan juices. The reduced pan juices were poured over the crab.

So yeah. This is basically what I have eaten over the last two months. Because I decided to take yet another trip down the rabbit hole. It used to be that I would end up there by accident but sometime in the last ten years or so, I decided that it was OK to willingly take a trip there. I say to myself, "Let's just take the ride and see where we end up, " even though a part of me knows this could all end up badly.

I am "better" now. Today I had some tea and a bagel with cream cheese at work. And then I came home and had the last of the crab. And about a third of a chicken breast. I don't need to log the food anymore because I eat so little that it's easy to remember it all. I eat small amounts because my brain tells me that my stomach is full quite early these days. Except for that day that I went to Fenton's a month ago. Then I was able to consume both the crab salad sandwich and a jumbo banana shake. OK. So maybe that was my only food for the day but still. Oh and I would have taken photos for y'all but it was a date and I didn't want to seem too strange.

Bottom line is that I held off on posting because I didn't feel like sharing this stuff. Me and my disordered eating. But hey. Depending on the day, I am 12-15 pounds lighter than I was a year ago. And over the last month or so, I stopped losing weight but did lose inches. Because this past weekend I did actually get into my size 27 People's Liberation jeans -- something I've never been able to do since I bought them. Yes, they were snug but they actually zipped. And yeah, maybe this helps to feed the disordered eating. But there was that one evening a few weeks ago that I caught my reflection and actually thought that I was thin. I can't ever remember thinking that in my life. Since I was 12, all I have seen when I look in the mirror are places in which I could lose weight. I like to think that the last couple of weeks have been better. Except for that time period when the hormones fucked with my head. Because they do that.

Honestly I haven't wanted to put this all out there because I've heard all the responses that people make. Not fishing for compliments or anything else. Just saying this is who I am and where my head has been.

And now? I have a bunch of food in the fridge that I plan to cook for Thanksgiving. It's been three years since I've cooked. It will be just me and the cats, just like the other years when I cooked. This will just be the first year that I will cook and won't be able to dump leftovers on my aunt. Because from what I hear, I potentially have another year to go on this whole grieving thing. Each day gets better though.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Comfort zone

Lately I've been questioning my choice in job. Yes, it pays well but frankly most days I'm bored as hell. There is no longer any challenge. I just go through the motions. Did I mention my paycheck though? My paycheck allows me certain freedoms outside of work. And so now I have told myself to focus on the check.

To balance that check, I have started tutoring again. Actually tutoring pays well too.
The difference is that I am engaged while tutoring as opposed to my regular job at which I usually act annoyed most days.

Tonight I had my first session with a new student. And it was great. Maddie thought that I was tutoring drinking but I was really tutoring geometry. Because I kick ass at math, being a former geek and all. As a former geek, I can make math accessible to the non-geek. You know that whole percentage thing? Well that's completely about a sale at Macy's and then having to add on the sales tax. Or it's baseball stats.

So I met the kid in a cafe because he thought their apartment was too small. I found out later that he didn't want to meet at the neighborhood cafe but would have preferred to meet at the closest location of the gods of coffee. Maybe in the future. When his mom showed up at the end of the session to see how things had gone, he proudly told her that we had finished all of his homework and that he understood it all much better. Did I mention how good I am at this stuff? Not just the subject matter but making a kid feel confident and all? Because I totally rock. And I gave him my own homework -- things that will help him to prepare for his upcoming test.

What I have learned over the many years of tutoring is that many parents just want someone to help the kids do their homework. Just because they can do the homework -- with assistance -- does not mean that they will do well on tests. For this kid, I realized that he did not have a firm grasp on the vocabulary. I gave the family a list of vocabulary that I noted throughout the session to be turned into flashcards. And yes, this is why they pay me more than they would a college student who is tutoring. The college student might not take this extra step. I might also throw in some worksheets down the road.

Tutoring? Finally I feel engaged. I look forward to upcoming sessions with this student. And my "real parents" have also said that they would like me to start tutoring their granddaughter -- my niece -- once more.

Oh and did I mention all the cute guys -- who are adults -- who frequent the cafe in which I meet the kid? Yeah, this could be a good thing for me in so many ways.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The morning after


I don't know about y'all but after I have spent an enjoyable day baking in the sun, I really don't feel like moving much the next day. Unfortunately there is that small problem of hunger. I ran through the possibilities in my mind. Going out for something seemed to defeat the idea of a day of lounging. But I really didn't have the energy for cooking. Then it came to me; the answer was assembly.

Now assembly to me usually means making a salad. I've had way too many salads over the last few months -- heck the last week -- though to want yet another one. (This also why when I tend to assemble a meal, I don't really feel inspired to post. Also if you've already seen that salad, why do you want to see it again?) I guess this is where I say thank you to Trader Joe's as items from there were my answer to something that would be relatively quick to assemble.

I started with the frozen mahi mahi burgers. I think I was kind of hungry when I bought them. Also mahi mahi happens to be one of my favorite fish. I do know that when I bought them, I had no idea what I would do with them. And no, the answer is not to slap one on a bun. I love burgers but that is really too much bread for me and I always end up eating only half the bun. It's one of my quirks. Halfway through eating a burger, I will get rid of the bread and usually whatever tomato is left at that point.

I did feel like the mahi mahi needed some kind of bread though. I was going to make do with a crumpet but I persevered and located the whole grain English muffins in the fridge. Perfect. And perhaps some romaine lettuce.

The next element was the poached egg. At this point I realized that I was basically constructing a version of a Benedict. Hollandaise sauce was out of the question as far as I was concerned. Thankfully I am the condiment queen and located the jar of tartar sauce with jalapeno.

The final assembly from bottom to top -- half of a toasted whole grain English muffin, romaine, tartar sauce with jalapeno, mahi mahi burger, poached egg.

And now for the truth. The photo above is not what I made for brunch but when I made the dish again for dinner. While it was tasty, I felt there was something missing -- avocado. Usually when I have mahi mahi, I make a salsa to go with it. So back to the fridge I headed. Now this is about using what's on hand. I came up with an orange, avocado, jalapeno and shallot. Normally I would through in some cilantro but I had neither fresh nor dried. The shallot was because it was the only allium besides garlic that I had on hand. The mixture was just the added element that the dish needed. Well except for the orange. Yes, the citrus was needed but the orange was too sweet. Next time I'll try something like supremed grapefruit. Or maybe the juice of Meyer lemon. Gah! I have lemons on the tree that I could have used.

And I have also figured out that I really should head to the grocery store tomorrow. I mean really. What kind of house has absolutely no onions in it?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pre-coma

So today I did something I haven't done in a really long time -- went to a show in a large venue. And of course today would be the day that it was a high of 93 at the venue. Needless to say there was a great amount of water consumed. Oh and I remembered the sunblock before getting there.

What would make me venture into a large venue? The combination of Cameo, Gladys Knight, and Maze featuring Frankie Beverly.

I started to think after chatting with folks earlier in the week that many are unfamiliar with the latter. This was solidified when Frankie paused in the show to talk about the band's history.

They have been together for about 40 years, starting in Philadelphia. In 1972 they packed up and moved to the Bay Area. All because they heard Sly and wanted to be near the guy who was turning out that cool music.

The band has always gotten plenty of airplay on Black stations but has never really crossed over. As a result, Frankie described the band as kind of an underground band. They seriously have a cult-like following.

And so before I turn in for some much needed coma sleep after all those hours in the sun, I'd like to leave you with this song. It's always been one of my favorites of theirs.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Playtime


I realized that it's probably been some time since the cats have made an appearance around here. We have all been trying to learn the lesson that there is plenty of room on the couch for all of us. Once we have that one down, we may try working on "there is plenty of room on the bed for all of us." Or maybe not. Boris does seem content sleeping on the floor most of the time.

Yesterday while out shopping for food and food-related items, I decided that the cats had not received a new toy in quite some time. Now Natasha likes to play soccer, kicking a ball up and down the room, so I knew this would be a hit with her. I also sanely decided to place said object in the living room instead of the bedroom.

The surprise was that Boris enjoys the toy just as much as Natasha. In fact they were originally playing together with each seated at opposite ends of the eight. By the time I decided to take photos, they had opted for solo play though. I wanted an action shot of Boris. Unfortunately he stopped to pose as soon as he saw the camera and refused to return to the game until the camera was out of sight. He's such a diva. And Natasha and I think at times there is only room for two divas here. And we were here before he was.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Two days


This was supposed to have been dinner last week but I just didn't have the energy to make it so I put the meat in the freezer. But then I pulled it back out yesterday. Wouldn't you know it? Today was much warmer than it had been last week. Oh well.

So what we have here are braised short ribs. OK. So there's only one on the plate. One is enough. Normally I start them off on top of the stove and then throw them into the oven for a couple of hours or so. I still started on the stove. Dredged the ribs in flour and browned them in a little olive oil. Added onions, celery and carrots to the pan that the meat had been cooked in. Deglazed the pan with some red wine. All of this then got thrown into the crockpot with some chopped tomato, beef broth, bay leaf, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon. Simmered in the crockpot on low for about seven hours.

Then it all went in the fridge. Why? Short ribs are fatty. Removed it all from the fridge tonight. Removed the fat that had solidified on top. Threw it all into a casserole dish and into the oven for about an hour.

Served up with my usual broccoli and Yukon gold potatoes mashed with a little horseradish in the mix.

Definitely will be repeating this when it becomes cold and wet outside in the coming months. Or maybe I'll just pull this batch out of the freezer as there seems to be room in there once more.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Doing time

Summers are always a bit stressful for me because my mother suddenly appears back in town. For almost two months I have been putting off the inevitable -- taking my mother out for her birthday. Because you know, that's what good daughters do. If it had been left up to my mother, we would have taken yet another trip to Hotel Mac on Saturday. Instead I decided to tempt fate and announced that we would be going to The Dead Fish in Crockett.

The first challenge hit when my mother questioned the waiter about the crab enchiladas. I flinched and wished that I could order a cocktail. They make really good cocktails at The Dead Fish. But nowadays when you're out with my mother, you're not allowed to order anything alcoholic. Well maybe y'all could but I'm not. Well I could; I'd just have to be willing to put up with the non-stop lecture. From the woman I once saw do five tequila shots with dinner. Whatever.


I have had nothing but mussels on the brain lately. My mother opted for the crab chowder which is actually a clam chowder to which some fresh crab meat has been added. The mussels were yummy but paled in comparison to those from Plouf. My mother thought the chowder was so filling that she would have been happy with half a cup.


We decided to split a side of veggies. Apparently the only thing my mother recognized on the plate was the broccoli as I had to explain everything else.


And we split this heaping amount of garlic crab.

On the way back to her house, I drove streets instead of the freeway as my mother simply could not believe that we were on San Pablo Avenue. For those unfamiliar with the area, San Pablo Avenue runs through several cities from Crockett to Oakland. And because I'm a good daughter, I played rummikub with her when we returned to her house. I won. If I was a really good daughter, I would have played a second game to give her a chance to win. But I'm not that good.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Lessons learned

The first lesson that I learned this week was that I just don't have the energy to cook the way I like to after working all day at this time in my life. I started the week thinking that I would make another dish to show y'all during this week. It will be appearing in my kitchen over this weekend instead.

I also learned why I love my camera so much. Unfortunately I left it at the Zombie household last weekend and have not had a chance to pick it up since. So now you are forced to suffer through photos taken on my iPhone 3GS in low light situations. My camera would have been able to compensate for the poor lighting but my phone cannot.

Ken has been in town for a conference and so we agreed to meet for dinner tonight. Unfortunately his charming wife was not with him. I still hope to meet her one day.

Due to his hotel location, I decided that Belden would be the perfect destination. I like to think that the restaurants in this two block alley offer a little of something for everyone. Plus there's that whole European vibe. My Spanish instructor in college said that San Francisco was one of his favorite cities in the United States because it was one of the most European. I have come to agree with him over the years as I not only absolutely adore San Francisco but New York and Boston as well. Then again it may be a coastal thing as well.

As we walked to Belden, I had definite ideas of where I'd like to go -- Plouf or B44. When Ken mentioned that he wanted seafood, the choice became apparent -- Plouf.

Ken started with oysters on the half shell, a mixture of bivalves from Washington and local ones...


while I picked the carpaccio. While I wanted seafood, I also needed to have some red meat.


Ken then went with the sea bass special.


And here's where not having my camera sucked. These are mussels -- their specialty. And they were divine. Unfortunately the style I went with is not even listed on their online menu and I cannot remember it. I do remember that there were red pepper flakes involved. Perhaps some shallots.

There was also some Chimay and at the end of the meal, a French beer that came in a bottle reminiscent of a Grolsch bottle. Oh and the style in pouring the server had.

It was a pleasure to finally meet Ken. My only regret is that he now has probably learned what so many other bloggers know -- that I like to cook food more than I like to eat it. I like to taste; I just don't necessarily eat. Oh and that I talk incessantly. Hopefully he will forgive me my sins. And that you will forgive me for not taking that final photo I had imagined -- the photo of the alley itself so that you could get a feel for it all.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The main event


Going to Berkeley Bowl is such an adventure -- especially on a Friday evening. Not as bad as Saturday during the day but still.

There are things about which I took for granted from years of shopping at the Bowl. Like creme fraiche. What's up with the lack of creme fraiche in grocery stores in Oakland? This was the basis of my decision to go shopping at Berkeley Bowl. My first thought was to revisit a past recipe -- the mussels. But then I set off on a search for something different and settled on Pork Medallions with Mustard-Chive Sauce. The sauce is wonderful and would go well with chicken as well if you are not into pork. And because I loved the stew I had from Burma Superstar, I decided to give the Kabocha squash mash a try as well. Another hit.

And the best part? The ability to share it with friends when I took half of it to the Zombie household last night.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

A simple answer


My life had become variations on the same theme. Get up in the morning, go to work, come home. After nearly two years of working in San Leandro, there were no more great culinary adventures to be had during my day. OK. Well maybe I do still need to check out that pupuseria I spotted in San Lorenzo but really? Not much else. My coworkers are creatures of routine for the most part when it comes to food. I mean really routine as in if you know what day of the week it is, you know what they'll be having for lunch. I think I'm about the only person in the office who actually reads books for fun.

So apparently all I needed to do was to get myself out of the rut, however brief a time, to start feeling like me once more. A long weekend in Berkeley. A quick trip to Poulet.

Part of the reason I have not been subjecting you to food photos over the summer is that there have been a lot of salads. Now don't get me wrong. I absolutely love salad -- even if I work with folks who cannot understand how you can have a salad as a meal. But they'd probably approve of this one -- sort of.

Last night after work, I found myself returning to Berkeley. Silly me had left my debit card at the gas station on Wednesday night and they still had it. Lucky me. Especially since I didn't even realize that it was missing until Friday afternoon. I know. I lead a charmed life. Once I knew I would be returning to Berkeley, I started imagining the kind of takeout I could pick up. Gregoire. Angeline's. A high school friend suggested Gather. That's when the surprise hit me. Forget all those places; I was going to go to Berkeley Bowl -- and I was actually going to cook something.

This salad was an afterthought. When I began planning my meal, I remembered the days when meals began with a simple salad -- like a prelude. It's about eating for a reason other than survival. This one? Baby romaine tossed with walnut oil and sherry vinegar and topped with Bartlett pear and manchego cheese. I know not much but wait until you see what followed. Cooking has once more become an adventure of sorts around here.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Shana tova


So after work today, I drove into Berkeley to hit my old fave spot, Poulet. Because you know that it's Rosh Hashanah and that means a special holiday menu at Poulet. There was Chicken B'Stilla -- phyllo filled with chicken, almonds and cinnamon, Lamb Ragout with apricots, raisins, cumin and ginger, Noodle Kugel and Summer Vegetable Gratin. Per usual it was all very tasty.


And when presented with the choice of carrot cake and apple strudel, I don't think that one should have to make a choice.

I've been busy checking out classes to take in the coming months and I'm even thinking about hitting the farmers' market on Sunday -- something I haven't done in some time. I am even thinking about skipping Poulet for Thanksgiving this year and actually cooking. Hmmm. Seems like the last time I did that was three years ago.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Kicking off the training wheels


Usually when I come to stay with Dumb and Dumber, I survive on a mixture of takeout and things that can be thrown in the microwave -- stuff from the frozen food section of the store or containers that I have stored away in my own freezer. As I sat at work on Thursday making my shopping list, an idea struck. I could actually cook something. I know that part of my trepidation in the past was the idea of an unfamiliar kitchen. But really now. I've been doing this dogsitting thing for at least four years now. I know their kitchen. (What I realized later is that I was unfamiliar with the lighting and so spent much longer trying to take a photo than I would have in my own kitchen.)

Deciding to cook was the easy part; what to cook was a tad more difficult. I feel like it's been months since I've really cooked anything. Suddenly Butter Chicken came to mind. Perhaps since it's been quite some time since I've made it seeing as it's not exactly a low calorie dish. But you've gotta live some times. And so it was decided.

Then a new panic took hold. I had had no intention of returning home and my cookbook was at home. How was I going to swing this? And then I realized just how lost I had become. Even when I use a recipe, I never measure things exactly. Yes, even when baking because I have learned that you can fudge a little in baking. But just a little. I have been cooking Indian food for years. I am comfortable with the spices and can tell when something needs perhaps a little more cardamom. Or cumin. I did cheat by looking at a few recipes online but none were really like the one upon which I have relied all these years. And so here goes.

When I first started making Butter Chicken, it was because I had heard of it on one of those wedding reality shows. Really wish I could tell you which but they have a way of melting together in one's mind. I have yet to find a restaurant in Berkeley that has Butter Chicken on the menu; when I do get it from a restaurant now, it's from a place in Hayward. I like the sauce in theirs but it's kind of close to the Chicken Tikka Masala -- and mine never reminds me of that dish.

What I noticed in the recipes was that most call for breast meat. I always use thigh meat. Why? Because there have been too many times in which I am enjoying a dish in a restaurant and bite into the meat only to discover that it is rather dry. I find the juxtaposition of a tasty sauce with meh meat to be jarring. So thigh meat because it's much more difficult to dry out.

Of course the whole preparation thing might explain that dryness as well. Many of the recipes had you throwing the meat immediately into the pan to cook. I thought, "Umm. Didn't you miss a step?" To me the crucial step is to marinate the meat overnight in whole milk yogurt. That's right. Whole milk. When it's time, the meat and marinade hit the hot pan together. Oh, and that stuff in the pan? Butter. I figured it's called Butter Chicken because of the high levels of dairy fat going on.

Other than this, it's just some sauteed onions, diced tomatoes, crushed cashews, heavy cream, and spices. That was another thing. A lot of the recipes called for garam masala. I almost never buy spice blends like garam masala or curry powder. It seems silly to me as I always have the individual spices that make up these blends on hand anyway. So I use a blend of cinnamon, ginger, cumin, coriander and cardamom. Sometimes some turmeric. But only if I am wearing dark colors. I have made the mistake of getting some stray turmeric on light-colored clothing in the past. Only have to make that mistake once.

When I was a kid, I had a hot pink bike. One evening upon returning home, my father, who had been in the driveway watching me ride, announced that it was time to take the training wheels off of my bike. I was terrified but he assured me it would be OK. Apparently I had been riding so fast -- I was going downhill -- that the training wheels had not even been touching the ground. I thought I could only do it if I had the wheels but they were really more like the stuffed animal that I hugged at night to keep the monsters in the closet at bay.

So the wheels are off and I'm trying to head back into the kitchen. But there are some things I need to do before that really happens. I realized that I need to go out to eat more often -- at places that are not necessarily about churning out the same stuff day after day for those with unadventurous palates or perhaps lack of imagination. I need to start hitting the farmers' markets again. I need to start leafing through the magazines that show up in my mailbox a bit more regularly. Heck. I can't even remember the last time I perused the Epicurious website. I just haven't been feeling surprised or inspired lately. It's been a never ending march of sameness. Well, I'm tired of this ride; it's time to get back on the roller coaster.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

They knew


This photo of Boris and Natasha was taken on Tuesday evening. All this week they have been trying to get as much quality time as possible. I figured they already knew and so was surprised by Boris' puzzled look as I left this morning, suitcase in hand. I assume that he will be throwing a rager in my absence and will not clean up after himself. This will be his payback for my not taking him with me on Monday night when I went to see Dave Chappelle (Fantastic show.) and for not sharing my snow crab legs later in the week.

It's back to Berkeley and the dogs for me. Although I was slightly freaked out to hear that cops had to shoot a mountain lion that was prowling the Gourmet Ghetto earlier this week -- a mere two blocks from my former home.

We're having a heatwave once more. Yesterday it was 90 while today is slightly cooler. Luckily it will continue to cool off over the weekend as it can be unbearably warm at Marin's home. I have also vowed that I will not lock myself out this time.

What will I be doing? Watching "Weeds" on Netflix instant viewing. I am currently in the middle of season three. I also have some reading to do. I am slowly but surely making my way through The Hour I First Believed. Just in case I want to switch things up, I also have with me the latest book from Meg Gardiner as well as that Anthony Bourdain book about which everyone has been talking.

I have also decided to get all kinds of crazy over the weekend. Normally when I watch Dumb and Dumber, I eat takeout and stuff that can be prepared in the microwave. This weekend I have brought along food that will require actual cooking. Actually I haven't been doing any actual cooking in quite some time unless you want to count boiling eggs. Which I'm not going to do this weekend because did you know that Trader Joe's now carries hard boiled eggs? And they're already peeled.

Finally I will also try my best to stay out of Beckett's as that always seems to lead to trouble. But I'll probably cross town to stop into see my BFF, The Commander.

Hope y'all have a great weekend. I know I am really looking forward to having four days off in a row.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Understanding


I think I get what I miss about Berkeley. Yes, part of it is the ability to easily walk to places of interest but there's more to it. Berkeley is where the craziness happens. And when I say craziness, I mean in a Lucy and Ethel kind of way.

I have been in Berkeley since Friday night to stay with Dumb and Dumber. Yesterday I traveled across town for the Commander's birthday party. After the party, Fluffycat and I headed back to the north side to hit Gregoire's for dinner. We parked at the house and walked the one mile to get yummy treats. Since Gregoire's has limited seating, we returned to the house with our meals. Shortly after dining is when the trouble started.

We went out to the deck and as I was closing the door, I realized that it was locked -- about 2 seconds too late. So there we were trapped on the deck on a rather bucolic street. There was no one to call to help for. Our phones were inside the house. So I did what any good action hero would do. I kicked off my shoes and swung myself over the railing and then swung myself onto the porch. I also quelled the thought that I could slip and land on the cement below. Did I mention that I was wearing a little black dress at the time? Fortunately it is a bucolic street because there was probably an underwear flash at some point in all this maneuvering. But they were cute ones. I then headed to the neighbors' house, whom I had fortunately met on my last stay here. Within 20 minutes or so, the locksmith showed up and Fluffycat was able to come in. She had briefly thought of following my escape route but we decided that since my legs are longer, it was probably easier for me.


In case you're wondering, I had the roasted pork tenderloin medallions that were served with a curry bacon sauce...


while Fluffycat had the grilled tritip served with an oven roasted tomato and roasted garlic salsa.

And I must admit that I was kind of bummed when we entered Gregoire to see a female cook up front. But while we waited for our food, the cute cook did pop his head out of the back and smiled.

So I'm in Berkeley for another two nights and now I'm wondering what kind of trouble adventure I can get into today...

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Some things never change

You ever feel like you have so much to say yet nothing at all at the same time? That's where I am. I take photos and say that I'll write a post but then I have nothing. So let's see if I can make sense of images from last weekend.


The last time I grilled arrachera, I followed the traditional marinating procedures. Now I love cumin as much as the next girl but it had way too much cumin for my taste. Sheesh. Never thought I would say that. This time around I wanted cleaner flavors. So I stuck with salt, pepper, garlic, lime juice and olive oil. Much more the experience I sought. After tasting the cooked meat, I wrapped it up and deposited it into the freezer.


While the meat was marinating, I took another stab at potato salad. I have always thought that I was following my real mom's recipe in the past but it turns out, I wasn't. I knew in the past I had not used nearly enough boiled eggs and mustard. But the real secret is the pickle relish. I grew up believing that Yankees use dill while Southerners use sweet. Turns out that Mom uses a combination of both. And since she makes the best potato salad in the world, I have to believe in her choice. I've barely put a dent in the bowl.


While I was in the store picking up potatoes and celery for the potato salad, I thought that I may as well pick up some peaches for a cobbler. I made it in a smaller pan this time so the crust to filling ratio was more to my liking. I finally tasted it today.

Here's the thing. I like to cook. And in the past I rarely ate it. I woke up last Sunday knowing that I had gained a few of the pounds that I had lost back and wanted to be rid of them once more -- and then some. I then proceeded to cook a bunch of stuff guaranteed to put more pounds on my ass. Why? Because cooking relaxes me. It also helps me to forget that I really don't have anything better to do -- except clean.

Mostly I haven't posted because I've been dealing with a lot of emotions which I have struggled to put into words. Now I think I have some ideas.

I am once more fighting my nomadic soul. There is a voice in my head that is screaming, "Run. Pack up and move away," but I know that I can't right now. Instead once a week I look at real estate listings.

I keep telling myself that I need four more years. Hopefully by then I will be in a position to move once more. Hopefully back to Berkeley. I love that I own my condo; I am just not enamored with the location. Then again maybe the development across the street will finally happen. If so, that could change my opinion completely.

Then there is my job. I like what I do. And I'm really good at it. This is now the longest I have been at any one place as far as work is concerned. Usually I left because I felt like I had plateaued. See? More of the nomadic soul. I'm pretty much at that place once more but I really want to give stability a try. And I guess it could be a lot more bearable except for the one thing I just realized today. This is the first job at which I do not socialize with my coworkers on a regular basis. In many ways I have always buried myself in my work but because there was also a social aspect to it all, I never really minded.

Bottom line is what I guess I am feeling is loss. I feel like I'm replaying every time I have had someone close to me die. Except this time someone hasn't died. And so I have had to spend the past couple of weeks defending my position to others. And I feel tired. But what I really want is something different.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Going coastal


I haven't really dropped off the map. A week ago I headed down the coast to hang out with Zombie Mom and her children, the Commander and Lala Bean. We were joined by Zombie Mom's friend, Peony and her children. And briefly by another friend of Zombie Mom's. I went for an extended weekend, leaving on Tuesday, while the rest stayed on.

There was lots of frolicking in the surf and sand at the beginning of it all for me but then I began to feel drained. Perhaps it was forewarning of things to come. Then again perhaps my sunburn from Sunday was the first warning. My left shoulder is still sore to the touch but my nose started to peel a couple of days ago.

By midday at work on Wednesday, I was not feeling exceptionally well. By early evening, all I could think of was sleep. Thursday morning? I made the decision to drag my butt out of bed to go into the office to take care of a few urgent things. These things took all of an hour. And then I took my feverish ass home. My self-diagnosis was the flu if you really want to know.

If you know me, time at the ocean always makes me introspective -- more so than usual. Add onto this time alone at home while sick for a few days and well...

I headed off on the weekend after having had a biopsy on Friday morning. Seems like things are still not quite regular in my body. I need to quit smoking. So far that hasn't happened but I have cut down drastically. My doctor mentioned how many people smoke as a result to stress. I mentioned this to my mother and then she droned on about the latest thing that some family member has done to irritate her. Oh and in case you're wondering, it's still all pre-cancerous. Supposedly if I quit smoking, my body can rid itself of this stuff. If I don't, it's up in the air.

Yesterday my dad's assistant called before heading off for her vacation. She has finally met my future stepmother and is thoroughly charmed by her. She also says that for the last couple of weeks my father has been his old self -- the one we actually liked.

The thoughts raced through my mind during my recuperation. And sometimes I felt the burn of hot tears down my face. Today I started the first draft of a statement to my dad. A statement, not a letter. I could send an email but I want him to see my face, hear my voice as I read it to him. In an ideal world I will do such with a therapist present. I see myself reading the words and then handing the page to him. And then walking out.

I am glad that he is getting better. That's all I've ever wanted. But in this time I've realized that I just can't let him into my life anymore. I've had a couple of months to see what life can be like. And I became a little bit happier. Because right now that's my focus. Stop worrying about if other people are happy. Make sure I'm happy and healthy. I feel like I should write a book on how to not fuck up your kids.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The personal assistant

For many years, I have suspected that my mother views me as her personal assistant. This would explain the fuzzy/non-existent boundaries. Actually now that I think about it, I do seem to recall her telling someone that I was her assistant.

It started off rather innocently. At age nine or so, I was frequently confronted with the words, "This doesn't smell right. Taste it." Taste some bad milk once and you learn some skills. I would take the offending carton and stand by the sink. Then I would pour the milk over a finger and taste a drop from said finger. Believe me when I say that if the milk has gone bad, then all you need is one drop to ascertain such.

By high school, I had additional duties. First was that upon hearing the garage door open, I was to go to the kitchen to prepare a White Russian. This was to be done by sight because I was underage and therefore should not be drinking. The cocktail was to be ready by the time my mother reached the kitchen.

And a few times a week we would stop by the nearby gas station in the mornings. I would get out and run into the store to request packs of Benson & Hedges Deluxe Ultralights. Sometimes the clerk would pull out the wrong box but I knew what it was supposed to look like and would correct them. I did not want to hear it if I returned with the wrong cigarettes.

But the true duty was that my mother basically stopped answering the phone. It was my job to answer and screen calls. If it was someone to whom my mother did not wish to speak, I would deftly lie, stating some reason for her unavailability.



Flash forward to this weekend. As I have stated earlier, there are certain types of roads that my mother will not drive. This would be why I had not seen large parts of Marin and Sonoma Counties until adulthood. But sometimes she just has to go somewhere. And I must drive her. That's how I found myself spending seven hours with my mother on Saturday. I'm still trying to figure out if she ever took a breath in all those hours to stop talking.

Our trip was to Sonoma County to see a friend of hers. This friend was in a really bad car accident earlier this year. While she was starting her recovery from the accident, she had a series of strokes. Finally after months in a rehab center, she has returned home.

The photo above is the patio area of their home. I think it's beautiful. My mom? "Why the hell would anyone want to live way out here in the middle of nowhere?" It could have been better if I had been allowed to accept the glass of wine that was proffered upon our arrival -- because of course these people are winemakers -- but wine is never allowed. At least not for me.

And I kept my fingers crossed that all would go well at our dinner at the Hotel Mac. I had made a reservation there after receiving an email announcing their special for the weekend.

Fried calamari appetizer


Entree of braised short ribs with cheddar mashed potatoes



The only dessert I ever have there -- bread pudding


Thankfully all went well with the meal. And you know what made it even better? That meal pictured? $25. So now we have gone to the Hotel Mac on three different occasions in the last year or so and all has gone well. I am afraid to try anywhere else at this point. Because my boss can be rather demanding and I'm afraid that one day she'll throw a cellphone at my head.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Continental

When I am in Mexico -- or hell even I am around Spanish speaking people here, I would never dream of answering the question De donde eres? with America. Just like I'd never say Soy americana; the correct sentence is Soy estadounidense. Because America is a continent. Well actually two. Whereas the United States is a country. When traveling in the Western hemisphere, it has always seemed a bit arrogant to say that one is American because aren't the people with whom one is conversing American as well? I know. We don't have a word in English that explains that one is from the United States -- but other languages do. (And yes, I am too lazy to look up the code for the proper question marks and accent marks. Live with it.) Enough of the language lesson. Sort of.

My mother says the word arreahera with the same kind of awe that others use for Kobe. And I must admit that the arrachera that I have had in Mexico was most wondrous. The beef I had there was grilled and wrapped around cheese and shrimp. My mother made it sound like it came from a specially raised cow. After seeing it in the butcher area of Mi Pueblo recently, I did some research and discovered that in things beef, once more my mother is mistaken. Arrachera is skirt, or flank, steak that has been marinated.

Mi Pueblo sells it marinated and unmarinated. Against my mother's advice (See her mistake about the cut above.), I chose to get the unmarinated so that I could mix my own. Research said that lime juice was essential as it helps to tenderize the meat. I added some olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, cumin and a little chili powder. After eight hours of marinating, I threw it on a hot grill -- direct heat this time -- that contained a mixture of charcoal and mesquite chips. Because I figured a Mexican dish deserved mesquite and not the applewood I have been using lately.


Originally I paired with some pinto beans, guacamole, grilled corn and tortilla for a pretty good mix of North America -- less Canada. (Need to figure out how to get Canada in the mix.)


Then I looked at that photo and thought, "Ick." So I chopped some up as a nachos topping. Because I wanted to leave you with a photo that was a bit more attractive.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

One nation full of carbs


I don't know about y'all but in my family, holidays have always meant a carb extravaganza. They just change based upon the season. Mac and cheese? It's your year-round carb. Whereas corn on the cob is purely a summer thing -- much in the same way that candied yams are a winter thing. And potato salad? Basically a year-round carb as well. That non-carby thing on the plate? Chicken grilled over mesquite. Now I know my mother would look at this plate and ask one question. "What? No bread? But you've gotta have bread.


To finish it off, sugary carbs. Now my aunts if they were still around would have you starting and ending your meal with sugary carbs as they were partial to ambrosia. Seeing as it's summer and my daddy's people are from Georgia, a peach cobbler seemed like the natural dessert choice. For a slightly different twist, I topped it with cardamom ice cream instead of the usual vanilla. I happen to think that a dessert that contains cinnamon and nutmeg can stand up to the addition of cardamom. I had briefly thought of trying lavender ice cream but Marin managed to dissuade me of that idea. Another time.

Hope y'all have a great day. And please. Walk away from the carbs. If you're like me, your waist and hips will greatly appreciate it.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Better late than never


About a couple of years ago, I had this wonderful vegetarian dish from Gregoire's. I vowed that I would try to duplicate -- especially since it has never appeared on their menu since that first time I had it.

The layers are eggplant, red bell pepper and zucchini -- all cooked on the grill. In between the veggie layers is some goat cheese. The dish at Gregoire did not include zucchini but I had it in the fridge and figured it couldn't hurt.

And yes, it was as good as I remembered.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Pins and needles

When Loma Prieta (This would be the earthquake that occurred during the World Series in 1989 for those of you from outside of Northern California.) happened, I lived in San Diego. When the Rodney King verdict came down, I was living in Virginia. Of course a month after the Rodney King verdict, I returned to California -- specifically Los Angeles -- to work for the summer. And the damage I saw made me want to cry. How could my people destroy our communities to this extent? I mean I understood the root of their anger and frustration -- things that the mainstream had failed to recognize, to understand. And it was to the detriment of all of us. I looked at burned out of streets of Los Angeles and my heart broke.

Fast forward. Oscar Grant got onto a BART train in San Francisco in the early morning hours of New Year's Day in 2008 heading back to Oakland. Something went down on the train and he ended up on his belly on the platform of the Fruitvale station. And then the officer, Johannes Mehserle, decided that he was out of control and shot him in his back. The officer says that he was reaching for his taser. But after a month or so, I watched the video that had been posted to YouTube and had shown up on local news casts. It showed a man whose hands had been cuffed behind his back, lying on his stomach on the pavement. A BART police officer stood near his head and another by his feet. And that one by his feet? Johannes Mehserle. He pulled out what he says what he believed to be his taser and shot Oscar Grant in his back. And we never heard an apology from him until during his trial in these past few weeks.

I watched the video because I wanted to understand why people in my city were in the streets after what was supposed to be a peace rally busy breaking windows and burning cars. The last time I saw people in the streets like this was when the Raiders lost to New England in their quest to go to the Super Bowl. And I thought, "It's a football game. How ridiculous." Because my last memory of living in California and seeing that kind of anger was when Dan White's verdict came down. That one -- the birth of the Twinkie defense -- still baffles me. But I remember sitting at home while watching cars burn in San Francisco. And understanding the anger and violence while not condoning it.

And so the last I have heard is that the Mehserle case has been handed over to the jury. I have read about how the city as well as nearby communities and BART are preparing for the verdict. I am too. Coworkers asked what I would be doing this weekend. Staying in. I am afraid of what people who are stressed about the economy would do in light of a verdict with which they don't agree. I mean I've already seen what happens when we lose a football game. But then I've also seen through Loma Prieta of the good that exists in people. I will never forget the image of people who lived along the Cypress -- that no longer exists -- going in to rescue people long before the emergency teams showed up. Because that's what I like to believe. Our first instinct in these kind of situations is to take care of one another. And yes, I realize these are completely different kinds of situations but I want to believe in the good in others. In the meantime, I am ashamed to admit that I am happy that as of today, my complex is completely gated. No one gets in unless they have the code, a key, or have been buzzed in. Part of me thinks that this is so elitist but the other part of me feels like as a single woman a bit of relief.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Growth


As I prepared for my guests yesterday, a number of things went through my mind. Like who was showing up. And about the long list of people who had stated that they wouldn't be able to make it. In the past I probably would have felt hurt but surprisingly my feeling was more like "Whatever."

I thought about my college days. There was another university across town that was known for its parties. My classmates and I eventually decided that their parties were not necessarily better than ours though. They were known for having these parties with tons of people. But does more actually mean better? We decided that when you have to wait way too long in line at the keg, more isn't better. So we argued that we went for quality over quantity.

And so that's what yesterday was. The only people who had previously met were Zombie Mom and Fluffycat but that didn't seem to matter. We were joined by Marin and one of my high school friends and his wife. Oh yeah. And the Zombie girls who seemed quite concerned that Boris kept hiding from them. And who also insisted that a birthday celebration was not complete without cupcakes and singing.

So yes, yesterday was great. And today? Well I cleaned everything before going to sleep last night. I have plenty of leftovers, some of which will probably end up in the freezer. And as I am quite sore from all the scrubbing and cooking, a long soak in the tub is starting to sound like a good idea -- if I can move off of the couch, away from my Netflix instant viewing choice of "Quincy." But whatever I decide, it will all be fine.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Like Kermit


I have invited some friends to join me this weekend for some grilled foods in celebration of aging another year. Now usually I run out to the party supply store to buy color-coordinated napkins, paper plates and plastic utensils. But I got to thinking. That's just now very environmentally friendly.

That meant that I have been spending a good portion of my lunch hour throughout this week exploring other options. I found the plates at Target. They are plastic and dishwasher safe. Plus they are my favorite color. Four plates for $1.99. The flatware came from my stepmother's favorite place -- The 99 Cent Store. Six forks or six knives for 99 cents. I know. Ridiculous. Next is a search for cloth napkins. And maybe some glass plates. I love the plastic because I won't have to worry about little people but sometimes you want something a little fancier.

It's kind of strange. This year I feel like I'm in a really good place. It's like I care but I don't care if people acknowledge my birthday. I know it will be wonderful even if I were to spend it all completely on my own. And so for me, that's being in a good place.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Donors

I read Sizzle's post earlier today and I thought, "How nice." I thought how it's really easy to look back on the positive stuff someone has done when they are no longer here. But when you're thigh deep in the crazy and trying to find your way out of the swamp? Not so easy.

I spoke to my "real dad" and my uncle today. Because you know. They're dads. And they both asked if I had spoken to my father today. Uh no. I was even asked if I had at least sent a card. Once more no. Real dad then said, "But he's your father." My response was, "Oh. You mean the DNA donor."

Because right now I can't think of that man as my father. Recent reports indicate that his behavior is much improved. But I've seen that before. I just can't trust him anymore. I never really could

The first time that I realized that he would lie to make himself look good in the eyes of others -- to my detriment -- was when I was about ten or so. It was yet another one of the many bricks in my wall that started when my parents' marriage deteriorated. It's when I learned to be what people want you to be -- if it suits your purpose at that time. But the most important lesson was that no one could ever see all of you at one time. Because then they had the power to hurt you. And I was never going to let anyone hurt me that much ever again in my life. Looking back, I want to cry for my ten-year-old self. Because that's not what being ten should be about.

I have spent years forgiving my parents of their past transgressions. But I never forgot. And I know that if I spoke to them now, they would ask, "Why are you bringing up all this old shit once more?" Why? Because I feel like we've gone full circle. But I choose to not have the conversation because I know the words have been spoken before and it's pointless.

And so I'd like to say Happy Father's Day to the guys who are really dads. Me? I just have a couple of people who donated some DNA -- and a bunch of baggage. Me? I'm just trying to lighten the load -- especially since I was evidence today that the crazy is about to get a lot more crazy. Good thing? I don't have to be in the middle of it now.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Single ladies

Every now and then Emerald's husband packs the kids up to go see his parents. Such is the case currently. As a result, I received a call from Emerald on Wednesday asking if I wanted to check out a new restaurant, Miliki, in the Laurel District. (Note to self -- Must write a post in the future about the various neighborhoods in Oakland.)

What little you can find about Miliki tells you that they are West African. But then I spied one word in their description -- Lagos. This told me that we were in store for traditional Nigerian food. I love the food of East Africa -- like Ethiopia -- and want to marry the food of Northern Africa but my knowledge of West African food has been limited to what my cousin's husband has prepared for the family. (He's Nigerian.)

Unfortunately -- or fortunately -- the place was packed and we were asked to share a table. Our tablemates being Nigerian were able to help us navigate the menu.

The standard dinner consists of a soup/stew accompanied by a dough. Our tablemates told us that some of the stews were an acquired taste so I went with one of the ones they said was not so.


Egusi is a mixture of tomatoes, pepper, spices, melon and vegetables with meat. The meat in this case was a mixture of chicken and various beef products. I told them that they could leave the tripe out as I have never been a fan of the stuff. There was a taste that I could not distinguish that just seemed off to me. Perhaps it was a result of the melon as the menu stated that it could be optional.


Then there was the Iyan -- pounded yam also known as fufu. Emerald and I decided that it needed to be bland to combat the spiciness of the other food.

Now before you start believing that the food was unacceptable to the Western palate, let me share Emerald's menu choices.

She saw Moin Moin listed and was deeply fascinated. It is a mixture of steamed ground beans, tomato, onion and red pepper. It looked like the fufu -- except color - but had so much flavor.


She also ordered the Pepper Soup with goat meat. Upon tasting it, I thought that I was on my way to heaven. If and when I return, I will be ordering this dish.

And I'll try to do so in another month or so -- once they have gotten past tonight's grand opening. Because tonight the service was way below par. Since it was their grand opening, I'll cut them some slack.

Missing is a photo of the wonderful drummers who were there for entertainment. I thought too late of snapping a photo and so missed the opportunity.

But tonight reminded me that the Laurel District is only a five to ten minute drive away. It's like the perfect meld of Berkeley and Oakland. And I absolutely love it.


And as I parked my car, I also remembered my realtor's statement in convincing me to buy my condo -- You only have to plan to stay there for five years or so. Because yes, this house is for sale.Way out of my price range now but in four years? I might just have to check out the open house on Sunday. Because right now I'm all about building my dreams.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Reality check

Anyone who knows me knows that I watch a lot of reality TV. My usual morning routine is to grab a glass of juice or a cup of tea and settle down in front of the TV. After I catch up on some of my stuff saved on the DVR, I usually watch the Style channel.

This morning I got treated to an episode of "Tacky House." If you've never seen it, it's a show on which a friend or relative turns someone in for their tacky decorating taste. The poor victim is tricked into thinking that they are actually going to be on a show called "My Awesome House." I'm surprised there is not more cursing on the show personally. And maybe some bitch slaps.

So there I was this morning enjoying some juice and the show. This morning a woman turned in her fiance and his sister for living in a castle somewhere in the Los Angeles area. I mean this place actually had a moat. As the show went on, I realized that I recognized the woman's voice and so did a little rewinding. Yes, the woman who had turned in the pair was indeed Lisa D'Amato who first appeared on "America's Next Top Model" and later on "Celebrity Rehab." I told y'all I watch a lot of reality TV.

The thing is that since I was looking at the mobile version of Wikipedia on my phone, the first thing I read were Lisa's stats. It seems we wear about the same size. OK. So sometimes I wear a smaller size. But then I looked at her measurements. Because you know since she's a model, it's really important that they share that information. And it confirmed what I know to be true now. I don't necessarily need to lose weight but I do need to firm some stuff up. Because if I firm it up, I'll lose those last pesky few inches. Now to just get motivated...

Sunday, June 13, 2010

So many things

So since that last post I've been meaning to write. The stuff there? A temporary setback. That was a sign of my warring inner selves -- the one who knows these people cannot be trusted and the one who wants to believe that people will understand and respect what I say. Notice I did not say agree. Unlike my mom, I'm not looking for agreement. All I've ever wanted is understanding.


I first thought of writing on Thursday night when I got home and found this lad howling on my deck. Seems he wanted in. And he eventually got his way. I refused to name him though since once you name them, they're yours. I sent him home with a coworker on Friday. Hopefully now he has a new home.


I took a half day on Friday. Besides packing up the kitten to go home with my coworker, I had my hair done and got a pedicure. Lesson learned is that I should not wait this long between pedicures. Another lesson learned is that I should take more time for me.


Finally, Drummer Boy was supposed to show up this weekend. In younger days, I would be crying over this slight. (Especially since I did not find out until Friday afternoon that he was not showing up -- because I texted him. Thin rope.) So I continued on with my weekend plans. I know you've seen this before but it's been quite some time since I have grilled ribs. And once it's lit, you just have to throw other stuff on it. I had to make sure that I had not forgotten what I learned. It was basically a practice run.

This year for my birthday, I'm hosting a BBQ. Last year I invited one of my coworkers and his wife. They were expecting an invite this year as well. So they responded yes but now they are rethinking. Why? Because the vast majority of the people invited are female. I explained that most of my friends are married and that some will be bringing their husbands. See my coworker didn't want to be the only guy present. So now he wants me to let him know a few days beforehand if other men will be present. My feeling is that if you are so worried about who else will be present, then you don't need to be present. So yeah, I uninvited them. Life's too short for that kind of bullshit in my opinion.


Final thought of the weekend is this song. I first heard it on "Ugly Betty" when they played it for the first dance at Hilda's wedding. I was near tears. I'm pretty sure that Maddie was bawling. After hearing it, I thought that I could suggest it to my dad and his fiance for their wedding -- because I was still speaking to them then. So if one of y'all out there is planning on getting married, I highly recommend this song to you. Although I still love Stevie Wonder's "As" but that song is something like six minutes long.

And maybe soon I'll be able to put together something that isn't as rambling in the near future.