Monday, August 31

weekend piccys

{the kind of week previous ~ picking up lunch, this was my pickup "name"...I didn't actually have a margarita while I waited. didn't say I didn't want one!}

{texas melons suffer in drought, but mostly in size}

{a birthday dinner for quameigh}

{new music}

{green tea pasta in dashi broth with bok choi and shitakis}

{pillow fortress}

Friday, August 28

I lift my lamp beside the golden door

the last friday of the month already? and such perfect timing for the topic, with our trip to ny in the coming week! ellis island isn't on the agenda, but perhaps it should be...both sides of my family came through northeastern portals (as opposed to baltimore, galveston or san francisco). maybe ellis??? probably not, as it only became a major gateway in the early 20th c., but maira kalman's exploration of american immigration sure makes it sound so appealing.

{sometimes a cupcake is just a cupcake?}

Thursday, August 27

make yourself a quesadilla!

last night we dined among friends, enjoying a specialty our lovely host, daddy's little secret, knew well growing up in the valley. fried quesadillas are found all over mexico, and (like almost everything authentic) are entirely different from the taco bell version -- like an empanada, but made from masa instead of pastry. they're fantastic.

{the host ~ daddy's little secret}

{masa mixing}

dls filled some with seasoned potatoes, some with muenster cheese, and some mushroom and goat cheese. I think there were others, too, I've forgotten (transl. - didn't get my hands on). they were a delicious mix of crispy and gooey, salty and savory, and sweet corn masa.

{potato and mushroom quesadillas}

b&I had to depart before the dominoes that followed, but the dls' party was a sure success.

Guajillo Salsa
courtesy of daddy's little secret

12 dried guajillo chiles
2 medium tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, in their paper
a dash of salt
1/4 cup water

You may need to hit up a specialty Mexican grocery store to find the chiles. Your eyes may become sensitive while roasting the chiles, make sure to turn on your oven vent. On a hot comal (a flat cast iron skillet) roast tomatoes and garlic. Let cool and remove garlic paper. Toast the chiles on the comal. They should take about 2-3 minutes. The flat dried chiles will puff up with air and their skin will become dark. Be careful not to char or burn.

Rinse the chiles in a bowl of water. They'll try to float to the top just push them down lightly with a wooden spoon. Remove chile stems. Depending on desired heat remove seeds from several chiles.

Roughly dice the tomatoes.

In a blender, puree all the ingredients.
Yeilds about 1 1/2- 2 cups. This salsa should last about 5 days in the fridge .

{guajillo in the foreground, with other traditional salsas}

Papa Chipotle stuffing for quesadilla or tacos
also courtesy daddy's little secret - tutorial on the quesadilla part here.

This is one of my favorite breakfast items. It reminds me of home. I make it so often it is all by sight, I don't measure or time but this should be about right.

1 large russet potato
4 garlic cloves
2 medium tomatoes, roasted
1 chipotle chile, canned in adobe sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons adobe sauce (from same can)
1 1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon thyme or marjoram
olive oil to coat pan
dash of salt
fresh cilantro (optional)

Peel and dice potato into small cubes.
Add oil to a frying pan. Once heated add potatoes and toss to cover with oil. Cook until tender and a lightly crisp. Stir regularly so potatoes don't stick to pan or each other. Drain remaining oil from pan carefully (I use a paper towel to soak it up).

Finely dice tomatoes and chipotle pepper (a hand blender may be used) Put in bowl with herbs, and adobe sauce. Mix well.

Crush garlic add to potatoes. Cook for about 1 minute on medium heat until tender. Add the tomato chili mixture. The pan will sizzle and might pop some of the liquid. Stir. Cook until potatoes absorb the liquid and turn rosy. Maybe 5 minutes. The potatoes should be moist but the liquid should be absorbed. Make sure not to overcook and dry out. Toss with fresh diced cilantro.

Wednesday, August 26

what the what is going on, and won't this summer ever end?!
this morning I listened to senator edward kennedy's eulogy of brother robert, and was deeply and profoundly touched. what would the world look like today, had his brothers had lived?

ted kennedy: senator, visionary, and pretty talented painter.

{painting hung in obama's senate office, captioned "to barack — I love your audacity. with great respect and warmest wishes"}

the text:

Your Eminences, Your Excellencies, Mr. President:

On behalf of Mrs. Kennedy, her children, the parents and sisters of Robert Kennedy, I want to express what we feel to those who mourn with us today in this Cathedral and around the world.

We loved him as a brother, and as a father, and as a son. From his parents, and from his older brothers and sisters — Joe and Kathleen and Jack — he received an inspiration which he passed on to all of us. He gave us strength in time of trouble, wisdom in time of uncertainty, and sharing in time of happiness. He will always be by our side.

Love is not an easy feeling to put into words. Nor is loyalty, or trust, or joy. But he was all of these. He loved life completely and he lived it intensely.

A few years back, Robert Kennedy wrote some words about his own father which expresses [sic] the way we in his family felt about him. He said of what his father meant to him, and I quote: "What it really all adds up to is love — not love as it is described with such facility in popular magazines, but the kind of love that is affection and respect, order and encouragement, and support. Our awareness of this was an incalculable source of strength, and because real love is something unselfish and involves sacrifice and giving, we could not help but profit from it." And he continued, "Beneath it all, he has tried to engender a social conscience. There were wrongs which needed attention. There were people who were poor and needed help. And we have a responsibility to them and to this country. Through no virtues and accomplishments of our own, we have been fortunate enough to be born in the United States under the most comfortable conditions. We, therefore, have a responsibility to others who are less well off."

That is what Robert Kennedy was given. What he leaves to us is what he said, what he did, and what he stood for. A speech he made to the young people of South Africa on their Day of Affirmation in 1966 sums it up the best, and I would like to read it now:

"There is discrimination in this world and slavery and slaughter and starvation. Governments repress their people; millions are trapped in poverty while the nation grows rich and wealth is lavished on armaments everywhere. These are differing evils, but they are the common works of man. They reflect the imperfection of human justice, the inadequacy of human compassion, our lack of sensibility towards the suffering of our fellows. But we can perhaps remember -- even if only for a time — that those who live with us are our brothers; that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek — as we do — nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.

Surely, this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely, we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men. And surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our own hearts brothers and countrymen once again. The answer is to rely on youth — not a time of life but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease. The cruelties and obstacles of this swiftly changing planet will not yield to the obsolete dogmas and outworn slogans. They cannot be moved by those who cling to a present that is already dying, who prefer the illusion of security to the excitement and danger that come with even the most peaceful progress.

It is a revolutionary world we live in, and this generation at home and around the world has had thrust upon it a greater burden of responsibility than any generation that has ever lived. Some believe there is nothing one man or one woman can do against the enormous array of the world's ills. Yet many of the world's great movements, of thought and action, have flowed from the work of a single man. A young monk began the Protestant reformation; a young general extended an empire from Macedonia to the borders of the earth; a young woman reclaimed the territory of France; and it was a young Italian explorer who discovered the New World, and the 32 year-old Thomas Jefferson who [pro]claimed that "all men are created equal."

These men moved the world, and so can we all. Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation. It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.

Few are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change. And I believe that in this generation those with the courage to enter the moral conflict will find themselves with companions in every corner of the globe.

For the fortunate among us, there is the temptation to follow the easy and familiar paths of personal ambition and financial success so grandly spread before those who enjoy the privilege of education. But that is not the road history has marked out for us. Like it or not, we live in times of danger and uncertainty. But they are also more open to the creative energy of men than any other time in history. All of us will ultimately be judged, and as the years pass we will surely judge ourselves on the effort we have contributed to building a new world society and the extent to which our ideals and goals have shaped that event.

The future does not belong to those who are content with today, apathetic toward common problems and their fellow man alike, timid and fearful in the face of new ideas and bold projects. Rather it will belong to those who can blend vision, reason and courage in a personal commitment to the ideals and great enterprises of American Society. Our future may lie beyond our vision, but it is not completely beyond our control. It is the shaping impulse of America that neither fate nor nature nor the irresistible tides of history, but the work of our own hands, matched to reason and principle, that will determine our destiny. There is pride in that, even arrogance, but there is also experience and truth. In any event, it is the only way we can live."

That is the way he lived. That is what he leaves us.

My brother need not be idealized, or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life; to be remembered simply as a good and decent man, who saw wrong and tried to right it, saw suffering and tried to heal it, saw war and tried to stop it.

Those of us who loved him and who take him to his rest today, pray that what he was to us and what he wished for others will some day come to pass for all the world.

As he said many times, in many parts of this nation, to those he touched and who sought to touch him:

"Some men see things as they are and say why.
I dream things that never were and say why not."

Tuesday, August 25


oh, the youtubes—how you shape our culture and bring us all together. cat-certo is a project of the lithuanian conductor, composer and artist mindaugas piečaitis, who sought out nora the pianocat to "solo" after seeing her online. it's geeky, meta, conceptual silliness, but it kind of works for me. you know, imho. perhaps the sin fairy will post an expert's critical assessment for us?

...on the composition. not nora's talent or technique.

Monday, August 24

weekend piccys

{that dog would totally leave us for this guy and his treats ~ also recently become a local source for tofu}

{fisher of local fish}

{a small sewing project}

{the floors squeak against your feet, they're so clean}

{catching up at rio rita...}

{...with quameigh}

{back to works? oh noes ~ not fiscal year-end!}

Friday, August 21

hazelnut cherry cake

this cake is a variant of one featured on chocolate and zucchini a few weeks ago. I followed clotilde's recipe as closely as possible (since hazelnut *flour* isn't readily available, hazelnut meal had to do), only trading out yellow cherries for bing, and found it to be a little too sweet. well, perhaps not too sweet, just all the same kind of sweet. it was almost impossible, waiting a few days for the second attempt, since I knew immediately what it needed.

{clotilde's recipe}

my g-ma who lives in central oregon, in the heart of cherry country, occasionally visits the harry & david store in her area. most folks are familiar with a treat they specialize in, the bing cherry chocolate. every once in a while they carry an item in the bulk section, which h&d never packages for the mass audience. they abso-freaking-lutely should. generally in cycle with the blue moon, we grandkids receive packages including a produce bag full of chococherry impostors...exponentially better than the original, in that there's a single hazelnut in place of the cherry pit. that's what this cake missed.

clotilde's recipe includes ingredient weights, and in measuring for the recipe, I wasn't completely certain of the conversion accuracy. on the scale, the dry volumes looked somewhat generous. I'll probably make this again soon, and will try to remember to double-check conversions. [update - it was stupid to doubt clotilde's conversions...merely volumetric visual trickery.]

hazelnut cherry chocolate chip cake
adapted from here

125 grams (1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp) unrefined sugar
3 eggs, room temp
1 tsp vanilla extract
80 grams (6 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
60 ml (1/4 cup) plain yogurt or buttermilk
200 grams (7 ounces, about 1 2/3 cups) flour
100 grams (1 cup) hazelnut flour or finely ground hazelnuts
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch salt
350 grams (12 ounces, about 2 1/2 cups) combined, tart dried cherries and semisweet chocolate chips (a little over 1 cup each)

preheat oven to 400°f and grease a loaf pan.

in a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, and vanilla until frothy. add melted butter and yogurt and whisk again. in another bowl, combine dry ingredients.

pour the flour/cherry/chocolate mixture into the wet ingredients, and fold in gently with a spatula until flour is incorporated. batter will be thick and lumpy; don't overwork it. pour into the prepared loaf pan, level surface, and put into the oven to bake.

bake at 400°f for 15 minutes, then lower heat to 360°f and bake for another 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. transfer to cooling rack for 15-20 minutes before unmolding. run a knife along the sides to loosen the cake first, then cool completely on rack.

Thursday, August 20

thrift thursday

{cotton dress ~ $7.99}

{silk trina turk dress ~ $9.99}

Wednesday, August 19

quinoa wednesday

over the last few months, while the sin fairy was in town (en route to becoming dr. sin fairy), we had a standing wednesday date of vin, gâteau de biscuit...and quinoa. a rut, you say? au contraire — sometimes the cookiecake had buttercream frosting, and sometimes fudge! (heh.) no really, with something so delicious and rustic and healthy and quick and easy and vegan (tsf is an ironically virtuous, complex lady), it's now become more ritual than a rut (for the sin fairy's sake, I hope she agreed). besides that, quinoa is an economical, whole grain, uniquely complete protein source. the recipe is adaptable to whatever's in the fridge and/or in season. if it needs cooking, it goes in our quinoa du jour.

tonight's special was enjoyed by the glow of a top chef double feature, our simple meal juxtaposed with the insanely indulgent, artful 12 courses created by finalist masters keller, chiarello and bayless (so gratifying that each has a show on pbs...not the food network). they all seem like such wonderful, generous, kind people, it's reassuring to see success sometimes comes to lovely people who just their work. the only thing more enjoyable than watching is reading amuse biatch's wicked show recaps.

the following recipe makes about a boatload. yep, that's the technical term for the finished volume. it's enough for three people's dinner, and a few days' bento lunches for at least two of them. if it seems unbelievable, stop by some wednesday and join us! each serving also includes about 27 of daily recommended daily veg servings.

wednesday quinoa blue plate special
makes: one boat load

1 onion, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, smashed
2-3 carrots, chopped
1 large red/yellow/orange bell pepper or several smaller, seeded and chopped
2-3 squash or zucchini, roughly chopped
1/2-1 pint small tomatoes, halved beans, eggplants, mushrooms, asparagus, wilty greens...anything sitting idle in the crisper, chop it and throw it in the pot!

1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed
3 cups water or stock
salt & pepper
1/2-ish cup vinaigrette dressing, to taste
handful of parsley, cilantro or other fresh herb, chopped

imho prep-work is hateful nasty work, but please feel free to chop finely and neatly. in very large pan, saute chopped veggies in oil, in order of longest-to-shortest cook-time (pretty much in same order listed). season with salt and pepper along the way. scooch veggies over to create a hot spot for tomatoes, so they have a chance to caramelize against the metal surface. reserve any very tender veggies (like baby spinach or thin asparagus) to add in last few minutes of cooking. add quinoa and broth, bring to boil, then cover and simmer on low for 15-20 minutes. the grain is cooked when slightly translucent, and the tiny thread-ie thing unfurled. almost all liquid should be absorbed and veggies tender.

here's the dirty-little-secret part: girard's champagne vinaigrette dressing. any vinaigrette works, but that's the one usually stocked in our fridge and hey, this is a lazy weeknight meal. when quinoa is done, turn off heat and toss in dressing, to taste. fold in fresh herbs and serve.

Tuesday, August 18

t minus two weeks...

...and counting. we leave for nyc in 14 days, and it's beginning to sound like so much fun I found myself digging through old photos from previous trips. though raised to appreciate new york's cultural offerings, there's not much I'm dying to see on broadway this year. in fact, there's not much new on broadway that doesn't pull its plot from an 80's movie (sister act? spiderman?? really~ spiderman?? call me when you've got a libretto for goonies: the musical). we will therefore be seeking out some of nyc's other cultural contributions to modern society. yeah yeah, some jazz...sure...

nyc is also home to some phenomenal chefs. thanks to the continuation of restaurant week summer pricing (so that once again, potentially priciest meal of the week: yankee stadium), and thanks to the ever-diligent b, reservations have been booked at gotham bar and grill, matsugen, and jean georges. we'll also make a pass at locanda verde, convivio, and grand sichuan at some point in the week. perhaps we'll make our way out to this place for sri lankan, or this place for thai (yes, in queens)...and if we're being realistic, at some point we'll most likely wander back past claude's old place. omg, claude (click through to this one if none else, then click to her original tribute to him). ::sigh::

then, to keep a little cred back home, we may see about getting our piggy hind-quarters past the ropes here.

{frank stella exhibit on the roof of the met, may 2007}

Monday, August 17

weekend piccys

{the kitten investigating a new toy}

{and going for it}

{mid-century modern martins}

{canine community}

{reminds me of this}

{and finally, some forward movement on the leaning neighbor}

{the greening neighbor}

{the peeling neighbor}

{look closely ~ bicentennial curtains. is it sick to want to rescue them?}

Friday, August 14

lomo love

this morning, on the way to work, I stopped off at precision camera for some (yes, work related) prints. my order was misplaced, and while the staffers searched, this fantastic plastic wonder caught my eye. except it was purple. ::covet:: my college photo-j prof shot some inspiring work on a holga, back in the day, and I've never forgotten those photos. at 40 bucks it's a reasonably priced toy, but it's the medium format film that's the kicker at $6/roll. plus developing.

...and I'm really *really* trying to be good, saving cash for new york.
but come on! ...holga and nyc just go together:

Thursday, August 13

weekend paperwork

a project for the weekend? so cute, and just a buck (okay, a buck.seventy after conversion to gbp) to download, print and diy. discovered on decor8.

let's get some shoes

headed to nyc in a few weeks, for 6 days of city walking, and I still remember the cramps and blisters of nyc vacay '08. the shoes I packed last year, though cute and perfectly comfortable for day-to-day wear, were frankly the wrong equipment for touring. it was so unpleasant I found myself constantly (unsuccessfully) scanning shop windows for a better option. much of the trip was spent looking for seated respite in the quiet of small upper-east side museums, for adjusting band-aids and resting my barking dogs. It was a wonderful, adventurous, delightful trip, don't get me wrong, but the lesson was surely learned.

the dilemma: finding shoes that don't kill my aesthetic...or my budget. it's becoming a real challenge. those sensible shoes are so often ...well...sensible looking.

How 'bout these?

maybe these?

...what about these?
{cole haan ~ boooring?}

or these?

baaah! it may soon devolve to this: