Monday, July 28, 2008

Valentine Cami

I just finished a new cami: Trice's Honeymoon Cami from Knitty.

Finished in just enough time to get some immediate summer wear.
"Valentine" because I love the combination of red, white and pink...

Knit with CottonTail cotton and size 6 needles.

Hurrah for custom-made clothing!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Dinner Party

Last Friday I took a day off to spend at the beach with a friend recently got married.
This is important for two reasons.
Reason 1: she has a completely tricked out kitchen thanks to showers, etc...
Reason 2: they were going to go to French Laundry on their honeymoon in Napa, but since the menu is prix fixe, and you have to get reservations 3 months in advance, and you have no idea what will be on the menu, and each time they saw the menu, half of it was something they couldn't (or didn't want to) eat - they didn't go.

It just so happens that I recently bought the French Laundry cookbook... so between the luxury of the day off and the urge to whip up something wonderful to share, the dinner party was the natural outcome.

Unfortunately, yours truly didn't charge her camera batteries... so no prep pictures exist, however, one of the guests was kind enough to take some presentation pictures and they are posted on his blog. Thank goodness for friendly bloggers.

Ok, so the French Laundry cookbook seemed a bit daunting in reality, so I just did one recipe from it, but throughout the book, he shares the philosophy of trying small bites and multiple courses with good raw materials. So it was more notional than literal. B has quite a wine collection, so each course was paired with a bottle suited to the menu.

The menu.
Appetizer Course
Homemade boursin and fresh bread.
Bacon and Eggs

Soup Course
Spring Green Soup: made with fresh asparagus, cucumbers, spinach, lemon and mint.

Salad Course
"Pigs and Figs" Salad.

Main Course
Charcuterie: Slovenian sausage, Dortmunder weisswurst, Garlic weisswurst & Smoked keilbasa, Wild mushroom and veal terrine.
Cheese Plate: 5-county cheddar, Drunken goat, 4-year cheddar, Camembert, The best blue cheese ever.

Dessert Course
Raspberries in Chardonnay Jelly.

This was honestly the best dinner party I've been to in a while. It was fairly laid back and featured dancing to early-90s rap following the dinner.

I mean, what goes better with wine and food and friends than Biz Markie and Positive K?

Plus, it had the added ease of pre-prepped aspects...
D and I made the terrine and dessert on Thursday night so we could enjoy the beach.
After sun and sand, we went to the West Side Market and spent a good 30 minutes with a fellow at The Cheese Shop who graciously had a tasting with us and took time to help us create the cheese plate.

Overall, it was a great start to a packed weekend.

Next time, I'll attempt more recipes from the cookbook...


My oldest friend -
the one who I met when I was 10
the one who jumped across the fountain even after I jumped and skinned my knees and broke my glasses
the one who I essentially treat as a sister -
is having a baby soon.

Which is at the same time totally sensical and insane at the same time.
My first reaction when I hear a peer of mine is expecting is "Oh crap! Do her parents know? Is she going to have to skip prom/take a semester off?" and then I remember that I'm a grown-ass woman and pregnancy has undergone the change from dreaded situation that sends everything off course to a wanted condition that one now "tries for."

That said, I couldn't be happier to be an auntie and have been knitting up a storm for the Little Perk.
Last Sunday was the shower, and I used the opportunity to bake a cake from scratch - something I've never done.

It went over well, as evidenced by the slice I was able to sneak out before it was all gone.

I really liked this recipe and had some buttermilk and lemons left over, so I decided to make a batch of cupcakes for office, friends & parents.

I'm trying to get into the habit of prepping with mise en place before each recipe, and this one was so winsome that I decided to share (Note usage of new, fab ceramic pieces.)

The frosting is a lovely cream cheese recipe, but I added almond extract in addition to vanilla, just to make it my own.
I also tried piping the frosting on the cupcakes, and I thought it was much easier (and led to better presentation).

All my little cupcakes lined up in delicious rows...

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

I told you I could make another cat...

Despite all the warnings from my parents to never ever get a long-haired cat, I adopted one that was motherless and o-so pretty.

See how pretty - how could I say no to that face?

I now fully understand the nature of their warning.

One summer, I did this to her.

She didn't really like that.

I used to joke that I could make another cat out of all her fur.

Jokes aren't so funny when they're true.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Scape Pesto

UPDATE: A friend suggested I mix the lemon/limeade with my Hendricks Gin.
Best suggestion in a loooooong time.
It's my new favorite summer drink.
Better than mojito.
Better than Pimm's lemonade.
Better than a Negroni.
I need to come up with a fetching name for this concoction....

As you were~
I had a delightful dinner highlighting garlic scapes and fresh herbs....

The pesto was fairly simple, I cut up the green stems and 3 of the white flower heads - that's the part with the most flavor - there was no definitive answer on whether or not to use them, so I split the difference.
2 of stems of basil.
2 stems of oregano.
4 chive spikes.
I threw that into a food processor to chop.
Then I added some olive oil (1/4 cup-ish).
Some chopped walnuts (again, 1/4 cup-ish)
Salt and pepper to taste and some parmesean cheese.
I sauteed the pesto with angel hair pasta and added some fresh basil chiffonade.

And it goes well with... Lemonade!

I've been making a concerted effort to use as much of my herbs as possible (I had a habit of growing them and rarely using them). So I've been looking for recipes the match my garden, especially the lemon verbena that's doing really well this year.

Simple syrup: Heat 1 cup H20 with 1 cup sugar until sugar is dissolved.
Pour that over a bunch of freshly cut verbena, lemon balm and mint to infuse (about 30 minutes). I think any citrus-y or minty herb would do: pineapple sage, lemon grass or just mint alone.

Meanwhile, juice and strain 3 lemons and 2 limes and add it to syrup (which was also strained).
Add cold water to taste.

Deeee-lightful on a summer day.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Weekend Bounty: What I found at Cain Park

After the Market, I met up with a friend to go to the Cain Park Arts Festival.

I haven't been in a couple of years, and I was glad to return.
There were over a 120 artists this year, most with something beautiful I could see finding a home with me.
Because I'm on a budget, I limited myself to the cash on hand for purchases.

Feeling frugal, I stuck to practical art - ceramics especially.

I love a good bowl, even more so, a good kitchen implement.

Three lovely bowls.

I love the purple color, and the green speckling reminds me of Araucana eggs.

These two pieces include a small colander with a handle (perfect for berries... or radishes). And something that I call "isn't-quite-a-creamer."

It's got a pouring spout, and is tall - perfect for whisking scrambled eggs or making salad dressing.
I adore the glaze - lavender pink and tealy-blue.

Weekend Bounty: What I found at the Market

Saturday was busy.
I woke up at 7:30 to get to the North Union Farmer's Market early enough to beat the crowds.
I had one goal: mushrooms.
I found some black chanterelles on a hike last week, and was hoping Killbuck would have some.
Alas, they are just coming on, so I took what he had. I'm making a terrine for a party and wanted to get some fab fungi for the feast.

Clockwise from upper left: Blue Oyster, Lion's Mane, Baby Shitake, Pink Oyster

I thought the eggs looked divine, so I picked up a dozen, along with some garlic scapes, introduced to me last week at a friends.

I also got a pound of bacon - but it's bacon - and it's frozen.

Not so photogenic.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Weekend Bounty: What I found in my garden

UPDATED UPDATE: The proto-pumpkin is DEAD. Someone (or thing) disconnected it. Although I would love to blame the children of the heathens downstairs, I think it was more likely a raccoon or cat, which worries me and makes me wonder what I can do to keep it from happening again....

UPDATE: I just picked a pint of raspberries from the bushes in the shared garden.
I know exactly what I'll be doing with them....

After a day on the East Side, I went out to the community garden to thin out the radishes - much to my surprise, I found all this! (Actually, this is half the bounty, I gave the other half to the neighbor sharing the plot...)

In my own garden, the pumpkin patch is flourishing....

A proto-pumpkin

Friday, July 11, 2008

Frustrating evening

So the thing about crewing for someone you don't know is that you DON'T KNOW THEM.
You don't know their style, you don't know their temper and you don't know their boat.
A good skipper would ask you what you usually do when you sail, what you're good at, and take your skills and put them to use.
What I got tonight was NOT a good skipper.
This was a women's race - male coaches allowed - so the boat owner had his 20 year old daughter at the helm.
Except he didn't let her lead, make decisions or follow her gut.
What we had was an unctuous man barking orders to a daughter unable to tell him to go to hell and take the lead.
He was unclear, unfocused and put the entire crew in positions to fail.
Add to those conditions almost no wind, which frustrates most racers.
I don't mind it - things go slower, are less panicky and generally a good way to enjoy the water.
But tonight, it just heightened anxiety and made things worse.

What I LIKE about situations like tonight are that I realize what good fortune I have to sail with the team I'm with on Wed'y nights. Also, it's a great way to practice patience and "rising above."
So tonight, I rose above.
I got yelled at.
Verbally abused.
Blamed for their piss poor leadership and communication.
And I rose above.
When we came back to the clubhouse I bought the crew their dinner.
Except the skipper and his daughter - I think they knew better than to stick around.

So the night ended well.
Until I decided to take East Ninth south at 10:10...
Cops were redirecting traffic onto EUCLID.
Tore up, slow ass, nasty Euclid (Fireworks at the Jake).
What should have been a 5 minute zip took 20.

Then I got to the hill that leads to Tremont through the Flats.
And just as I got down to the W. 3rd bridge, the god-damn lights started flashing and the bridge started to come down.
For some reason, that bridge takes more time to descend than it takes for the barge/freighter to go through the winding Cuyahoga. It comes down a little.. and it goes back up. It comes down a little more.... and goes back up.

So I did a bad-ass frustrated cranky driver U-turn and blasted up the hill a bit to get to the 'hood past Tower City.

I did get to Tremont, but at the top of the hill into the neighborhood, they're tearing up the on ramp to 90, so they have crabby construction workers on the night shift driving big trucks willy nilly and parking them perpendicular to lanes and making it just... inhospitable, I guess.

And, of course, it was Art Walk night in the neighborhood, which means all the people from all the suburbs come to my usually quiet street and take all the parking.

But by then I was so beyond frustrated, I couldn't gather the strength to write something snarky in the dust on the BMW with the licence plate that read "BEAMER."
Nice, Chad.
Or is it Josh.


Way to overcompensate....


First... what I found when I came to work this morning...

Enlarged, you'll get the full effect of the mid-century, politically-incorrect vaccination PSA.

...along with various biohazard and Mr. Yuck pix posted around my office.

All good fun, but I wonder what the cleaning people think..?

Last week someone drew a chalk outline around something on someone's desk - and the cleaning people cleaned it!

I bet they stay away from my office from now on.... (not good).

Happy to report that the rash is clearing up and itching almost completely gone.
And I'm hoping the steroids will give me a leg up tonight since I'm racing (did I mention how happy I am to be sailing again?)

Let's pray they don't make me pee in a cup...

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Scratch Scratch Scratch

Last night I woke up at 3 am violently scratching my chin and neck.
What came of this is a long and sordid tale, which I will share, whether it's interesting or not.

Last Friday, the Fourth, was a cool evening and I grabbed a granny blanket out of my car that I had purchased from a neighborhood garage sale. Now, see, I just threw it in the car, didn't wash it, but figured I would use it as packing material or impromptu picnic blanket. Little did I know it was a Smallpox blanket.

So there I I was, wrapped in my cozy granny square blanket, and my neck starts to itch a little.

Later in the evening the neck itches more, but it never got beyond a little redness and some bumps. I thought little of it (except that I needed to wash it) and went about life - it cleared up by Sunday.
Done and done.

So last night, I lathered up my neck and face with 40 spf super sweatproof waterproof incredibly irritating sunblock.
Again, it stung going on, but went away in moments.

Then - 3 am.
Cortisone and anti-histimine got me back to sleep.

Then - 7 am.

8 am - I am seeing SPOTS on my neck and it's crawling up my face.

I got an appointment that day - 2 pm with a doc.

She agreed that (dust + heat + sensitive skin) * irritating sunblock = living, breathing, itching hell known as contact dermatitis.
So today I took 8 pills in 5 minutes: 6 steroids, an anti-histimine and a pepsid ac (apparently, also an anti-histimine... who knew?)
I'm writing this with a tepid water and baking soda dipped compress around my neck.
I pray that I will get to sleep tonight, because I am sailing tomorrow evening.

Mostly, I want my clear, itch-free neck and chin back.
I really, really, really want it back.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


We sailed.
We raced.
Great start.
Found the best wind.
Fought the chop.
Were 3-4 boat lengths ahead of our nearest competitor.
Upwind we trimmed well, gained more lead.
Reached the mark.
Came about.
Knot in the line.
I dumped the Main when I was supposed to keep it taut.
They went wing and wing.
We reached.
They got 10-12 boat lengths.
We came in second.
Fish tacos and beer.
Order restored.

And thanks to all the waves, my ASS is still CLAMMY.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Iconic summer images

I love a good beach and it appears to run in the family.
Some extended family was in for the week and they usually spend a day at the beach - it was bit chilly, but we had dinner at the docks. The kids wanted to go to the shore and so did I.
Luckily, the "real" adults were willing to indulge me when the kid's requests were tuned out.

I'll never understand why so many adults lose the urge to scramble on rocks, wade in the waves and skip stones... but I'm proud to say I'm not one of those adults.

I love this picture, it looks like he's squaring his shoulders and preparing to take on the wind and waves.


I don't know if it's the weather, my increased physical activity outside or hormones, but for the past 5 days I have been eating like a frat boy with a tape worm.
And it has to stop.

Monday, July 7, 2008

A rose garden & a miraculous hydrangea

I was in Lorain on the 3rd, making my 3 day weekend a 4 day mini-vacay.
It was a little rainy, but I stopped by Lakeview beach to see the rose garden in bloom.

It's been such a rainy summer, so things are lush and full and green and splendid, as evidenced below.

That evening, I went to Berlin Heights to prep for the big family party on the 4th. At my grandmother's, she told me to go out back and look at the hydrangea... I didn't think anything of it until I realized that this was a non-hearty indoor plant that I gave my grandfather in the last few months of his life.

Following his death, my mother tended the plant at home for the next year or so. We gave it to my grandmother a year later and she planted it. It weathered the first winter, but never bloomed - a florist told me it never would, given the species. But lo and behold, this year it's got a lovely bloom with more threatening.

Given that our family history seems to be told through plants it makes sense that this this little fellow has thrived.

What if...

scientists endured the same scrutiny as celebutards?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Sailing. Again. Finally.

Tonight I went sailing.
It's been a while.
Five years, to be exact.

* not the boat I went out on today - this pic is circa 2002...

I used to race out of Lorain on a 45' Hunter. It was fun - a bit of a drive on Wed'y evenings, but worth it.
I stopped when my schedule got wonky and unpredictable in 2003, and haven't really gone back.
It's weird to be a sailor who hasn't sailed in 5 years.
Just like its weird to be a singer who hasn't sung in 2 years.
Other things come and go - and it's hard to maintain everything I'm into on a consistent basis , but the things I'm committed to keep rising to the top - which is good.

Anyway, a friend hooked me up with her boss who is big into sailing here, and I caught a ride on 24' Ensign Class out of the Edgewater Yacht Club... quite a bit smaller than the boats I'm used to, but a bit more nimble.

I think I'll learn a great deal more about reading wind and waves - the skipper good and used to newbies and was patient as I remembered what the following things meant: halyard, jib, traveler, tack, puff, clew, kite, leeward, shroud, boom vang... shall I continue?

It was very windy, so windy that we lost our competition to the bar (in sailing a bar means, well, a bar... like with alcohol).
The waves were such that I got soaked through, but I remembered how much I love being on the water and am glad I'm back on a boat.

Of course, the post-sail margaritas and burgers don't hurt much, either...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Sticky evening

UPDATE - Finished product!

Today I was asked to bring Ambrosia Salad to a picnic on the Fourth.
I found a great recipe, but it calls for homemade marshmallows.

So tonight, between laundry and gardening and cleaning, I decided to finally attempt marshmallows - mostly to learn the trick so come Christmas, I can make them, dip them in chocolate and bring them to parties.

My apologies for the bad focus, my hands were STICKY the entire time -
Also, apologies for not taking pics of the process but it's all about timing and temperature and stopping to take pics seemed a great way to cock the whole thing up.

So... the finished pan of marshmallows, soon to be cut and turned into Ambrosia Salad.

Treat - FlufferNutter with leftovers.

Just a cooking hint - lower thermometer is a CANDY THERMOMETER.
Top thermometer is NOT a candy thermometer.

It would have been nice to know that before I started.
yeah... before.