Month: September 2004
At midweek: (more) chicken, exciting hair, and mishaps with clothing
1. I am officially an old pro at roasting chickens. Golden, plump, juicy chickens. I’d say I could do it blindfolded, but there’s no need to brag. Plus, I did have to struggle through another potent “I’m joining PETA now” moment when I was holding the bird and patting salt along its back. At once tender and disturbing, it really felt just like burping a baby. But dinner was delicious: roasted chicken, ratatouille, and warm farmers’ market fingerling potatoes with cider vinegar and olive oil and fresh dill and salt. Miam miam.
2. U. S. of A., you’d better be watching the first presidential debates tomorrow evening. I’ll cringe each time George W. opens his little pursed lips, but I’m committed to sticking it out. After all, I learned from the New York Times (“Live from Miami, a Style Showdown,” September 26, 2004) that John Kerry has a “buoyantly vertical hairstyle,” and now I have to see what it can do for him. According to Caroline F. Keating, and professor of psychology at Colgate University, “He has exciting hair, which is . . . quite useful.” Let’s hope so. I don’t take this as lightly as it may seem.
3. I love riding home from work on the bus. I strategically choose my seat so that I’ll be on the sunny side as we head north from downtown, and then I relish the half-hearted battle with sleep that inevitably ensues. I adore sleeping in moving vehicles—only when someone else is doing the driving, of course.
When I was younger and used to ride horses competitively, I spent many late nights sleeping in the front seat of my riding trainer’s pickup truck as we sped across New Mexico or Colorado to a show. Jenny, my trainer, hated the eerie way my head would flop down over my chest; she always wanted to grab my hair and yank me up, make sure I was still breathing. I was indeed, just very relaxed. Years later, I had the misfortune of doing the floppy-head move in the Paris Métro on my way home from school, and I drooled all over the collar of the long and dramatic black wool coat I’d saved up to buy for myself. I was very careful to avoid making eye contact with anyone when I woke up startled and began madly wiping at the wet spot on my cheek. I do love to sleep in moving vehicles.
4. Speaking of vehicles,
I present to you the pickup that was parked next to Margot’s car in the parking lot on Maury Island. Unfortunately, you can’t see the pack of Swisher Sweets on the seat, and the curvature of the glass is not doing flattering things for my waistline. But I know some of you are dying to see my milkmaid / midwife-to-plaster-fetuses-in-rocks outfit. I aim to please.
Windblown and sleepy, with tarte aux quetsches
This morning’s heavy fog turned the parking lot outside my window into an abstract painting—maybe a Jasper Johns, a soft gray with faint white diagonal lines and tiny brown spots where leaves had fallen. Oh dear reader, I am windblown and sleepy. My kitchen table is filthy with crumbs, oil smears, and a streak of blue cheese. There’s sand inside my shoes and between my toes.I can’t complain. It’s Monday. Last night was a potluck dinner for four. [Jess would have made five, but she was absent due to an unfortunate bout of onion-ring-and-Velveeta-dip-induced food poisoning.] We made do. Robert baked a slab of king salmon in parchment paper and doused it with a sauce of honey, lime, and soy…Read more
On not getting killed, learning to be agreeable, and thereby acquiring cupcakes
I’ve never read Ted Kooser’s poetry, but I love the following excerpt from the September 12 New York Times Magazine: “Q: How did you find out you’d been selected as the new poet laureate?Kooser: I was informed by a phone call. I was so staggered I could barely respond. The next day, I backed the car out of the garage and tore the rearview mirror off the driver’s side. [Insert lots of other good-natured, self-effacing talk.] Q: Are you always this agreeable?Kooser: I try to be.” I was never very good at this sort of thing—this being pleasant, affable, agreeable. Take, for example, sharing. I can think of several instances in which a grade-school classmate, having forgotten his or her…Read more
Tremendous things: what I’m eating and a mad genius
1. Got home from work very very hungry and went straight for a cold spoonful of saltylicious peanut butter. I’m so all-American. 2. Tonight I inaugurated fall by roasting the first cauliflower of the season. Perhaps the coming of autumn isn’t so bad after all, if it means more caramelized cauliflower. This may well be the most delicious vegetable preparation ever conceived—thank you, Jim Dixon! I restrained myself and only ate half a head. I also roasted a delicata squash and loosely scrambled some pretty brown eggs, and then I ate very dark chocolate. 3. Tim Harrington is at it again. A few very dedicated readers may remember when, in my first-ever post, I mentioned as a source of great…Read more
A weekend in reverse chronological order
1. This morning’s edition of The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor quite nearly destroyed me. I’m not so interested in the sonnets, but rather the drama, the intensity, and the jelly. Read on: “It’s the anniversary of the day that poets Robert Browning, 34, and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, 44, eloped (1846). The Brownings met for the first time in 1845 and over the next twenty months exchanged 574 letters. Elizabeth’s father didn’t want her to marry, so their courtship and marriage were kept a secret. The night before they eloped, Elizabeth wrote to Robert, ‘Is this my last letter to you, ever dearest?—Oh, —if I loved you less … a little, little less.’ Robert and Elizabeth read and critiqued each…Read more
I can’t keep it to myself. FareStart is a Seattle nonprofit organization that “transforms lives by empowering homeless and disadvantaged men, women, and families to achieve self-sufficiency through life skills, job training, and employment in the food service industry.” And through this admirable program, FareStart gives me a reason to feel even better than usual about treating myself to a three-course meal. A $19.95 three-course meal. FareStart holds weekly Guest Chef Nights, in which stars of the Seattle restaurant scene work with FareStart students to produce complex and delectable three-course meals. Volunteers from local groups and businesses act as servers, and all proceeds are put to use for training and social-service programs for the students. And in case you can’t…Read more
Fallafel and gin, by way of an anniversary
Happy anniversary to a shameless reader of Us Weekly and his significant other! Have a wonderful dinner at Ceiba, Doron, complete with an exotic-sounding cocktail or two and some Jamaican crab fritters! And please, don’t be shy: ask for my brother David, introduce yourselves, and demand to be treated like kings. Were I there, I’d roll out a red carpet for you to saunter down in your excellent pants. If all is not perfect, I will give that brother of mine the best sisterly talking-to I can muster. When he was a teenager and rode his motorcycle down our street without a helmet, I—then only two or three years old—tattled on him to Mom and Burg. And [, she says…Read more
My little heart thumps with joy. I just love you so much. First, the singers: Mom, your rendition was tasteful and quite lovely, but Katie, I would have preferred something louder and with more off-pitch screeching. Jen, you—after some palpable initial reluctance—pulled off a beautiful answering-machine solo. Sarzee, I purposely let the voicemail pick up so that I could listen over and over to you singing (in a fake eastern-European accent, to boot) in the train station. And Rebecca, your slow, soulful, and brilliantly on-key version quite nearly stole the show, but I expect nothing less: it sounded as though you were stretched over a piano somewhere, your ubiquitous rhinestones shimmering under a pencil spot. And those who didn’t sing:…Read more
26, or almost
Dear supportive reader, I need not have feared.My near-disaster cake was roundly applauded and went smashingly with Keaton’s Bonny Doon Framboise dessert wine. Saturday evening’s early-birthday festivities began lazily around the table with dollops of Jessica’s garlicky Greek lima bean puree and whole wheat pita, which some of us washed down with Fischer Amber. Next up was Keaton’s autumn-like carrot-fennel soup, with a 2001 Charles Mitchell Pinot Noir I had inherited from Burg and saved for a special occasion. Then Kate presented us with lovely composed plates of linguine with red chili flakes and olive oil, steamed clams, cherry tomatoes, and bias-cut scallions. I slurped, splashed, and, yes, succeeded in staining my flimsy filmy 0044 shirt yet again. And then…Read more
In which I find a terrific quote and get very anxious
Diego Luna of Y Tu Mamá También is apparently my male counterpart. This morning I happened to thumb through a copy of Interview in which Luna is, as you might suspect, interviewed. Take note of the following passage: Interview: What do you want from life? You told me before that you want to find a woman. Diego Luna: Definitely. I want to be in love and eat as much as I can![Molly: Who can disagree with this man? Look at that enthusiasm! And that exclamation point! Amen!] Interview: So it’s love and food and sex, I guess. Wow, what a morning! Mexican movie stars really know how to live. And how to steal my ideas. After that serendipitous find, I…Read more
On cheese and frivolity
I’ve been shamefully slow to hop on the bandwagon. But I can now declare with great enthusiasm and ample experience that Cowgirl Creamery’s Red Hawk is a stunning cheese. Easily the finest domestic cheese to make its way to my plate. Red Hawk, there is none so fair as thee in all the land! Produced in Point Reyes, California (only a dozen or two miles from the site of my conception, dear reader!), Red Hawk is a triple-cream cheese with a red-orange washed rind, made from organic cow’s milk from the Straus Family Creamery. I first learned of it a year ago, when the American Cheese Society named it “Best in Show” at their 2003 competition. Upon hearing this news…Read more
The questions themselves
This afternoon I felt still, quiet. Lonely, pretty, like singing. Abstractly emotional, on the edge of something. I think too much. Jeff Buckley’s “Morning Theft” is lush and beautiful. In the car on the way home from the airport, I began a list, organizing myself. Sundays are for taking stock, returning to wakefulness, asking questions that don’t need immediate answers. Underrated Things (which, by the very act of this writing, shall no longer go unremarked-upon, at least not by me): Prunes Oatmeal Mayonnaise Liver Malty chocolate malts Buckwheat flour Scrabble Literacy Walking Family Quiet Bare feet on warm pavement Being healthy and free from pain Being taken care of Cool air from the open window while you sleep Eating food…Read more
Mom is lying on the couch, recovering. Eight-course tasting menus at Union are exquisite. If I could do high kicks, I’d compose a cheer for Ethan Stowell and his Union. I’d also add that Union’s tasting menus are an incredible value, a real steal, but that makes it sound as though I’m hawking a used car. Nonetheless, get thyself to Union, and make haste. I am a wonderfully cheap date, so please invite me when you do so. One and a half glasses of wine (Mom finished the other half) and I have to really concentrate to get to the bathroom without leaning on the tables en route. But I am very charming, poised, and well-trained, so no one will…Read more