Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Binge Listening: Sun in Mind

Some time ago, my friend Lucio Loud wrote a post about binge listening, and I've been meaning to add my two cents on the topic.

I am a frequent binge listener, surprise surprise. And lately, it's Sonya Hunter's Sun in Mind that I am feasting on. I inhale these sweet sounds into my pores and it's like medicine for my soul. I crank the stereo up loud and let Sonya's gorgeous melodies and choruses of exquisite harmonies wash over me, making me a little drunk.

She sings tales of the reckless abandon and joy and longing and emptiness and exuberance and cynicism that are all a part of the landscape of being human and of loving someone, and each tale resonates in my heart while delighting my ears.

The harmonies in particular, on the song Be My Baby, just flat knock me out. I keep listening to this one over and over again, and every time, these harmonies floor me.

This album has been with me every day lately in my car on my commutes to and from work, and it's been the soundtrack to everything that I've created in my kitchen this week.

Binge listening indeed - I am savoring each note, each finely crafted lyric, each sweeping melody - as much as I am savoring these last long, hot days of summer sun.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Someone's been asleep on the job - Now let's get back to preserved lemons, shall we?

I do believe this is the longest I've ever gone without posting something. I am just now starting to catch my breath after what was a very long string of long days and long nights. Long, long, long I tell you.

I wouldn't even begin to know where to begin to tell you about all the music and food and fun that was packed into said long days and nights. But oh, it has been quite a week. I can hardly believe my good fortune. Friends keep taking me out to nice restaurants and cooking me amazing meals, and who am I to complain?

Heirloom tomatoes are in season, good music and people are all around me, and the weather has been beautiful. The only thing I've been lacking is sleep. Thank goodness we have a cozy couch at work, and that I work for the kind of people who don't seem to mind when they see me laying there snoring in the middle of the day with a blanket over my head. God I love my job!

Anyway, I used the David Lebovitz recipe for preserved lemons. Click on this link to not only read his recipe, but to read comments from others on the topic of preserved lemons and how to use them.

Well now my friends, it's time for me to at least attempt to look alive. I'm in the middle of a very fun project at work right now, which involves putting together a local restaurant guide for folks who come to visit our company. Now if I could just get them to pay me to eat at each and every single place I review, THAT would be delightful!

Until next time...Ciao, and, Chow!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Figs, Preserved Lemons and Beets, Oh My!

I've been meaning to proclaim my love for preserved lemons on this blog for some time now, and I do believe that day has finally come. This might be a topic that requires a couple of entries, so thanks for your patience.

Tonight, I'm going to tell you about two very simple yet very lively tasting salads that feature preserved lemons, and later I'll post the directions as to how to make your own.

Try this recipe in the heart of summer when Black Mission Figs are exquisitely ripe. Take a basket of figs and slice them into quarters, and gently place them in a medium bowl. Cut a couple of ounces of firm feta cheese into bite-sized cubes, and gently place them into the bowl with the figs. Now dice a little bit of the rind of a preserved lemon, say... one quarter of the lemon or so. Sprinkle this over the figs and feta. Drizzle with olive oil, and give it a couple twists of fresh ground pepper. Thinly slice about four to six fresh mint sprigs, and sprinkle over the top. Give it a couple of gentle tosses, and serve immediately.

Here's another very easy and tasty salad. Steam three or four beets until they are just tender, and when they're cool enough to handle, slip them out of their skins. Dice them and place into a small bowl. Dice about one quarter of the rind of a preserved lemon and sprinkle it over the beets. Thinly slice three or four springs of fresh basil or mint, or a combination of the both, and toss this over the beets. Crumble a little bit of feta over the whole mixture, season generously with salt and fresh ground pepper, and enjoy!

In both of these recipes, you could use lemon zest in place of the preserved lemon rind, but if you've never tasted preserved lemon, you really ought to experience the flavor. It's totally vibrant and effervescent, so much more than mere lemon. You don't actually use the lemon's flesh, you only use the rind. The flavor lends itself nicely to Mediterranean and Moroccan cooking. I've been really wanting to experiment with creating a preserved lemon-influenced ice cream flavor. I shall add that to the list of upcoming obsessions.

Next time I'll get more into the nuts and bolts of how to preserve lemons. Until then, beauty sleep is calling...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Mint and Pea Pesto

Well I can't take much credit for this recipe except perhaps for the manner in which I bastardized it, based upon hearing about it from my friend Adam, who got the recipe from Gourmet magazine. I don't know how they did it in Gourmet, but it sure rocked when I made it, and it was so simple. And when it's your turn to make it, do it like this ...

First, put some water on to boil while you're making the sauce.

Roughly chop about three cloves of garlic, and sautee them lightly in a liberal bit of olive oil over low heat for a few minutes. Now, toss a handful of pine nuts into the skillet, turn the heat up a bit and shake the pan every minute or two for a few minutes. Next, add half a bag of frozen peas, cooking and shaking the pan for about another three or four minutes until the peas are just done.

While the mixture is cooling, rinse and thoroughly dry about half a bunch of fresh mint, and remove any big stems. Put the mint into the food processor and now pour the pea mixture into the food processor as well, and add a couple of fat sprinklings of nice parmesan or romano cheese. As you are processing this beautiful green goodness, you'll want to slowly drizzle more olive oil into the mix. You will of course need to set your wine down to do this. Remember, safety first!

By now it's probably time to add the ravioli to the water, so don't forget to do that. You can't survive on just pesto and wine alone.

Now, just keep processing your pesto until it's nicely blended and add enough olive oil so the consistency is right - you want it to be somewhere in between a sauce and a paste. And don't forget the salt and freshly ground pepper, friends.

By this time, your ravioli should be just about done, so of course you'll want to drain them, and spoon some of the pesto over them, and give it all a good toss and maybe one last twist of pepper.

Bon Appetit!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I Feel the Earth Move under my Feet

Tonight's earthquake:

3.2 magnitude, occurring at exactly 12:13 a.m., centered two miles ESE of Oakland.

It was a good reminder that I need to update my earthquake kit which currently contains pants that are too small for my newly acquired ass, plus water, vicadin and arnica, dog food, flashlight, nasty old canned food, and nothing much else.

Dear Lord I hope that when the Big One happens, I'm at work. Because at work, we always have lots of food and booze, plus we have a bazillion flashlights and batteries, and a special emergency stash of chocolate.

Hopefully there will be no more shaking tonight, for the hour is late, and beauty sleep is calling...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Song Lyric of the Day...

... I can't get this out of my head. It's by Joe Rut. It's from a song called Hole in Space that just sears my heart to its very core every time I listen to it, which is often lately. It's so simple, and it's so stunning...

"...I like now
Now is enough
Now is the only time we have to love...".

Probably, it doesn't do real justice for me to just mention is here, but I felt compelled to mention it nonetheless.

I will never forget the moment I first listened to this song, the way the big fat full moon hung over my head at 2:30 in the morning on a cool summertime Bay area night that was soon to ease into morning. I can remember exactly what I was feeling, and exactly what kind of emotions this song awoke in me at that particular time. How I was so lonely and how this song gave me some kind of hope that I would not always feel so desolate.

Oh, that is the beauty and the power of a good song. For me, anyway...

Later, I shall tell tales of ravioli with pesto made from fresh mint and sweet peas, and of pan-seared asparagus with olive oil, garlic, homemade preserved lemon, and feta.

But right now, I want to lose myself in the splendor that is the music of Joe Rut. Cause this song is rocking my world right about now, and a little hope is always a good thing.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Fine eating, Binge listening, and my Ever Shrinking Pants

Once again, my cup runneth over and I hardly know where to begin to report about the last couple of weeks I've had. So I'll just begin here...

I've eaten at some damn fine restaurants lately; so much so, that I'm a little on the broke side lately, and my jeans are feeling rather uh, tight. But oh, it's been so delightful getting this way, with meals at Tamarindo, Kirala, Luca's and Cesar in the last two weeks. Each meal featured not only great food and wine, but also old friends, new friends, or family. Now if I could just get someone to pay me to eat at fine restaurants, and pay for a personal trainer so that my pants won't keep shrinking....anyone??

And then, there has been music.

Lately Miss NoNo and I have been on a PJ Harvey bender. Each of her albums is like a beautiful baby; you just love them all for the unique creation that they are.

The album Dry just never fails to incite a bittersweet enthusiasm in me that makes me want to crank the stereo to epic volumes and recall the sting of the end of my relationship with my First Big Love, about whom I could write volumes regarding the depth of feelings that loving him inspired in me.

Wow, that was a mouthful. And perhaps not even proper sentence structure, but it's late, and I'm tired and don't feel much like self-editing.

I could go on blathering about what I love about each PJ Harvey album, but instead I think I'm going to pop one into the CD player; maybe Stories From The City, Stories from the Sea, and let those sublime, earthy grooves lull me into sweet, sweet sleep.

That sounds like a plan.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Shameless Self-Promotion

Go Cry me a River, won't you?

This is me. I thought you might enjoy seeing my alien eyes. They are what makes the meals I create taste soooo good.

Anyway it's my little brother's birthday and I'm off to enjoy massive amounts of sushi with him. In the meantime, you can watch this. Go on, do it!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


Hmm... I don't know what happened to the photos posted on my last entry. They seem to have been replaced with little boxes with question marks. Sometimes, that's the way all of life feels. I just wander around with these little boxes with question marks hanging over my head. I find them in my pockets, underneath piles of things on my desk, parading their way through my consciousness. So many question marks! I stagger around with an utterly confused look on my face. One thing I've noticed though, is that the less I care about the answers, the better I feel. Sometimes, apathy is a good friend. That's my rant for today!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Gluttony Loves Company

Goodness, where to begin?!!!

Should I first write about how perfectly delightful it feels to drive up the winding coastline that is Highway 101, with its breathtaking scenery featuring soul-soothing blue ocean waves that seem to have no end?

Or, should I tell about how much fun I've been having exploring the recipes from the Dona Tomas Cookbook? Recipes like Sopa de Lima...

...Corn Pudding, and Enchiladas w/ Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Poblano Peppers?

But wait; as long as we're on the top of Mexican food, I should post the recipe for the salad I made recently that featured sweet cherry tomatoes, buttery ripe avocado slices, queso fresco, lime juice, olive oil and a pinch each of fresh-ground allspice and cumin. Yes, I really should tell you about that. But basically, that IS the recipe. Just toss it all together with love in your heart, trusting in your intuition, and it'll be better than you even imagined it would be. Top it with a little dried oregano, if you wish.

If I don't mention the bottle of 1997 Cabernet Sauvignon from Cakebread Cellars that my friend Claire was kind enough to share with me, Laurie, and our Gay Husbands just a mere few nights ago, it could be considered blasphemy, and we wouldn't want that. Suffice it to say that not a drop went unappreciated.

And no, I am most certainly NOT done reveling! Because I have to tell you, that when you find yourself waking up in a beautiful place on the California Coast to be greeted by one of your Gay Husbands bringing you a perfect cup of drip coffee, and then he and your other dear friends create the most delightful breakfast of hash and poached egg for you to enjoy before sliding into the hot tub - you'll feel you surely must be dreaming, or maybe on second thought, that perhaps this is a new habit just waiting for you to adopt it.

Yeah, three cheers for Gluttony! I think I need a nap now.

Friday, August 03, 2007

R & R, Here I come!

I wonder if something's going on with the planets, or if perhaps all my years of trying to figure my shit out is finally paying off. Lately I've been feeling good thanks to the simple realization that when I slow down and relax more, the tension just leaves my body. Duh! Ok I know this is a no-brainer to some, but it took me a long time to figure this one out. So here's to more rest, more fun, more relaxing, less worrying!

That being said, I'm headed out of town to Gualala spend the weekend eating, drinking, hot tubbing, being lazy in the sun, and playing guitar by the fire with my Two Gay Husbands and a couple of other dear friends, plus our gaggle of four-legged beasts. I expect that by the time Sunday rolls around, I will be very relaxed indeed....and then, perhaps I'll get around to writing about my latest experiments cooking recipes from the Dona Tomas cookbook. Perhaps....