Thursday, September 27, 2007

Busy Day "Off"

During catering season, my days "off" really mean days where I do all the things I can't do because I'm catering. Today it's laundry, dishes, shopping, and hopefully putting some food by. We got another bunch of pretty little green beans and beautiful beets from the K-mann yesterday and it pained me to put them in the crisper. I have to save them from turning to mush! Hopefully I can crank up the blanch/freeze operation today while I am doing other stuff.
My battery is on it's last legs, so that's all for now....more later!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ok.....what I don't think I've told you yet is that on Nov 1st, All Saints Day, Jilly and I are flying to Boston to see The Waterboys. I've been trying not to freak out too much about it, but this morning I ordered a bunch of used CDs from Amazon. Also the new one, called Book of Lightning. Just a few minutes ago I found a couple of youtube videos---one from 1985 of "Whole of the Moon" and one from this summer of "The Pan Within" live in Athens, and then one (which I could not bring myself to watch for fear of melting into a puddle) of "This Is the Sea". Right now I am listening to Fisherman's Blues.
Mike Scott is capable of turning me into a pile of mush in less than one line. He's otherworldly. The thought of actually witnessing in person a Waterboys concert is almost too much to bare, which is why I have been trying not to think about it too much. I have a lot of things to do between now and then and I can't be distracted.
But today I'm super excited about it and I wanted to share.
Since it's Boston, we'll stay with the sisters. I'll finally get to take Jilly to my favorite restaurant ever. I'll also finally get to take my friend Neil, who has never made it there despite the fact that he LIVES in Boston. Sigh. We'll pall around with the sisters and with Neil and then return home on Sunday.
That is if I survive Thursday night.....

Monday, September 24, 2007

Weekend Update

What a jam packed weekend it was! Thursday and Friday were all about the catering--getting stuff ready for the giant wedding we had on Saturday. Every moment that I wasn't preparing stuff for the restaurant, I was shopping or cooking for the catering. Sort of exhausting, but good. Except--oh!--on Thursday I made a roast in my clay roaster! I was in the kitchen most of the day doing catering stuff, so I thought I might as well hook up the roast I had got at the farmer's market on Monday.
I soaked the clay pot, and tossed in some cut up taters and carrots and onions, and some sage and parsley and garlic. Then the roast on top, with some olive oil and maybe a splash of soy and balsamic vinegar. I forget. Anyway, I just put the lid on and stuck it in the oven at about 300 degrees and forgot about it while I did other stuff. It turned out so delish! We had a friend over for dinner and beers so I threw together a little tomato salad and cooked some corn we got from the CSA on Wednesday.
Lovely, and so much leftovers! woohoo.
So yeah, Friday was cook cook cook, and then my friend Meeo arrived from New York to stay the night. I had not seen her in at least 7 years! That was a treat. We chatted a little bit and then she had to go socializing, and I had to go to sleep.
Saturday was the wedding, and it was enormous and a LOT of work. I mean, a LOT. Things were not perfect, but the bride and groom and their friends had such a good time and that is all that really matters. Seeing the bride in her beautiful 20's style dress flat on her back in the garage/dance floor during "Rock Lobster" was just the best thing ever.
We drove back into town and stopped at Kelly's for a nightcap where--Surprise!--we got excellent service! I feel like I shouldn't divulge this, but the secret seems to be sitting on the back patio. Don't tell everybody, please. I had a couple of big hops and fell drunkenly to sleep.
Sunday we slept in BIG TIME. Rebby got up and made breakfast in bed for me. While we were laying around, Meeo called to ask us to meet her and the Jens and lilD for ice cream at Klavons at 2pm. Perfect! So we continued to laze around a while, then got washed and dressed and packed up our IKEA gift card, and Lowe's discount coupon, and headed out the door.
We were the first to arrive at the ice cream rendez-vous, so we sat in the plastic chairs outside and soaked up some sun. WD and her mom arrived next and went in to look around. We started to worry about getting our ice cream in before we had to get out of town to avoid the game traffic, so we went ahead and ordered. Tin Ceiling Sundae for me, as always, and a Turtle Sundae for rebby. We were just tucking in when meeo and jen and lilD arrived. We had a great chatty ice cream time, and then I snapped some pictures and we took off for the south hills.
Rebby is SO not a fan of IKEA, but she was very game. I grabbed a big yellow bag and we set out for the marketplace, where I proceeded to burn up $100 pretty dang fast! I got a magnet strip for my knives, and a couple of new knives, and a couple new wood cutting boards. I got a beautiful teak salad bowl, an organizer insert for the kitchen tool drawer, a rubber ice cube tray where the cubes are shaped like little bottles, and a pepper mill. A toilet paper stand, a new bath mat, a new fitted sheet, a wine glass rack, a lamp shade. AND a bunch of stuff we need at the restaurant! I think I did good. I also invested in a giant blue IKEA bag instead of plastic, which we are going to make a point of keeping in the truck for emergencies (like forgetting bags when we pick up the CSA, which has happened for the past three weeks)
meeo called while we were in IKEA...she was in IKEA too! So we met up in the marketplace and wandered together for a while. We sat and chatted for a bit in the As-is room (I was on such a comfy leather sofa it was really hard to get back up!) and then we parted ways again. Rebby and I headed up to the Masquerade store, where I kicked up a fuss about the lack of Barbossa costumes. Everyone doesn't have to be Jack Sparrow, for flips sake. We got a fancy cutlass for the pirate bathroom wall, and then rebby got a black pleather cap and mirrored "hottie police" shades. So dang cute! Costume shops are fun, at least until you get to the kid section and then they get a little creepy. Do you really want your 8 year old daughter to dress as a gothic cheerleader? Ew.
After running amok in the costume shop, we crossed over to the other side and visited Lowe's. Lowe's is so much more fun for me than Home Depot. They have more furniture-y stuff and decoratives than the HD. We got the required utilitarian shelving for my office and rebby's room, and we picked up a task light for the new kitchen work area. Oh snap! I forgot to mention that we went and got a stainless steel prep table for the kitchen on Friday! I am in heaven.
Anyhoo, Lowe's was fun, and then we were hungry enough to contemplate dinner. I remembered that Bahama Breeze was over there, so we crossed back over in search of it. It only took us a little while and one wrong turn.
So, let me just say a few words about chain restaurants. I know, as a FOODIE, I should be wary or downright dismissive of them. But every once in a while you come across one that does things right, and there is no denying it. Damon's used to be like that for least until all the Damon's started closing down left and right. Bahama Breeze is certainly the jewel in the crown of the Darden Group. Red Lobster---almost nothing but bad experiences. Olive Garden---eh. Smoky Bones I've yet to visit, though there is one conveniently located across the parking lot from Bahama Breeze. Anyway, this place just rocks so hard! The decor is great, and next time we go if it is not winter we'll sit on the patio with the huge fire pit. Their mojitos, despite the fact that they use Bacardi Silver, are PERFECT. With even a little stick of sugar cane to suck on. The portions are not too big and certainly not too small, and everything is VERY well seasoned. Take a look at my flickr pics for more info. The picture above is an overview of our meal---havana style salmon with roasted plantains and mashed cinnamon sweet potatoes, crab legs st thomas, and jerk shrimp. And a really, really, really good salad. I think I've said before that the side salad can make or break my opinion of a place, and they certainly do it right. Just the slightest hint of dressing, nice crisp lettuces, and shaved cukes rather than big chunky pieces. I LOVE this place. I was in a food coma before you could say boo. Swooning. We got a banana bread sundae to go, and they packaged all the pieces separately so we could assemble it at home. Genius.
So we sped home to unload the truck in time for the Simpsons. We caught most of it, but were happily in bed with our sundae and dessert coffees by the time King of the Hill came on.
A decadent end to a decadent day. Woo!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Saturday, September 15, 2007


Today we are not going to the Ribfest, or the Beerfest, or the Renfest.
Today we are taking care of business around the Mayflower Manse.
We've got a 40 point list and we are tearing through it! Well, I got a jump on it Thursday, but we're making a lot of progress so far. The backyard is tidied, and the pantry shelves are lined, and the magazine rack downstairs is lined so the magazines don't fall through, and we moved the work bench into rebby's room, and the things piled by the door have been moved to the basement. It's a great feeling!
We also got up early this morning and visited a garage sale (rustic barrel procured for the pirate bathroom wastebasket!) and the strip district (baby organic bok choy! butternut squash! local honey!) and the yard sale of a friend (barbara kingsolver books! but more importantly, a house tour and lots of neighborhood talk. cool)
Later on we'll go visit the garden and see if there are any end of season things to harvest before the first frost. I don't think it will be long now....
Today's weather is simply amazing. It's bright and sunny and CHILLY and I think I am going to move my sweaters downstairs. This makes me incredibly happy.
Hope you are having a good TCB day too...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

What a delicious day off!
That lovely bowl of yum you are looking at is stewed okra and tomatoes over rice, with some slow cooked pork on top. It started life as a chop, but once rebby put it in the slow cooker with beer, apple cider, maple syrup, smoked paprika, and I'm not sure what else (I wasn't around when she was doing her magic)for about 5 hours, it just melted off the bone. Oh good lord. I put the okra, cut up tomatoes, onions, garlic, water, cayenne pepper, oregano and some gumbo file in my tiny little "Crockette" crock pot, and then I topped it off with a little bit of bacon I had cooked up until just done. That stewed for about 5 hours too, until the okra was just falling apart and the tomatoes had turned themselves into sauce. It was the most amazing sweet and spicy, earthy, chewy, soul satisfying dinner I've had in a long time. AND, I was listening to a profile of Ian McKellen on NPR while I was eating it. Apparently Sir Ian is currently staring in King Lear for the Royal Shakespeare company, AND doing a bit part in The Seagull...for an ENTIRE YEAR.
He's amazing.
So, besides making and eating that sweetheart of a meal, would you like to know what else I did with my day? I'll tell ya. I made a big long list of things to take care of (currently numbering 35) and took care of 5 of them. To be fair, the list is primarily for the weekend and primarily things for rebby and I to do together, but I decided to use my day off to get a head start. So even though that's a pretty small percentage, I should still be commended. Plus, the things I did--like hang up some pirate stuff in the pirate bathroom, and organize my cookbooks, and clean and organize the pantry shelves--have made a huge improvement in the quality of life already. I also took care of some business email, and ate a lot of cookies. I only baked half of the cookie dough I made Tuesday night, and I think that's a good thing because I will probably have eaten all the cookies by the end of the day. They are just that good. Oaty and salty and sweet and chocolately. And so good with coffee!
I found out yesterday when reading through the CP that the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus is peforming at the Rex on Friday (that's tomorrow) and that their tour is sponsored by Magic Hat and that there is going to be beer drinking contests. Despite all those pluses, the $18 door price coupled with the fact that it's the South Side on a Friday night are going to prevent me from going. Plus, I really need to spend the evening rolling grape leaves. Plus, I have an important garage sale to attend early Saturday morning. I can say no more.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

hello, fall like weather!
boy am I glad to see you. though I spent most of the day inside the restaurant, I did poke my head out during the thunderstorm, and now I am sitting next to the office window with a cool breeze blowing in...completely unaided by the window fan. I have really been looking forward to this!
today was a fall weather kind of cooking day too! I made old skool hippie granola, with dates and raisins and sunflower seeds and rice syrup and cinnamon and allspice. It definitely smelled like fall in the kitchen! I also made a really nice thick vegan corn chowder. We are currently transitioning from marking things that are vegan to marking things that are NOT, since most of the menu is vegan most of the time. That change makes me feel really good....I mean, I personally am omniverous, but I really like to champion the vegan cause by making the most delicious and adventurous vegan treats I can. It's nice to say our restaurant is "mostly vegan". I remember when I was a vegetarian the feeling of utter relief I would experience when I happened to stumble upon a vegetarian restaurant...."you mean I can pick ANYTHING off the menu without having to think about what might be hidden there?" That's how I want vegans to least, so long as they avoid the V with a slash through it. :)
After all the cooking Jilly and I had a little meeting to talk about menu stuff. I am assigned a couple things for the new menu and I am SO GEEKED to do recipe testing! Really, so geeked. It's pretty amazing that I get to do this for my JOB.
Tomorrow I have to get on the ball making dips for sound kitchen and finger foods for the Friendship house tour, and then I have to get further on the ball making a game plan for the enormous wedding we are catering next weekend. Enormous as in 285 people out in the country! Eek. I know it will all go well but it seems like a pretty big milestone in our catering life. Wish us luck!
So, I know I skipped over the weekend here, but suffice it to say the Ludlow show was fun, and then Jilly and I went to Orchids for a fantastic dinner and then to filmmakers for some terrible experimental film, and then Sunday rebby and I took care of some important business...recycling, co-op shopping, laundry, and putting the bed together finally. I can't begin to tell you how much of a difference it makes to have a high up in the sky bed after sleeping on a mattress on the floor for so long. I feel like a grown up!
Now I think I'm going to go try to bake some Salty Oats cookies with chocolate. Oh yes.

Friday, September 07, 2007

my new friend

I went to the big EAST SIDE liquor store the other day, because the one on center did not have Campari, which I needed to get for a birthday present. So I swallowed hard and ventured up to the EAST SIDE. Since I was there, I figured I should get something exotic for myself as well.....and then my eyes fell on this lovely.
My friend WD loves this stuff, and I must have tasted it at some point, but I couldn't really remember. But I figured if I bought it and hated it I could always give it to her, right?
Well.....I do NOT hate it. Yum-my.
She is of course welcome to come over for cocktails any time, though....

I am currently typing to you wearing a ridiculous borderline bondage get up. We have a show tonight, opening for Ludlow's 7 inch release party, and I wanted to really turn up the heat for those boys. I've got the buckle boots, the fishnets, the rhinestone studded push up bra, and the black satin bloomers. I promised to severely punish anyone who showed up late so I figured I should dress the part.
Hope to see you there! On time, of course.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Okay, today is my day off. I have a pretty full agenda floating randomly in my head, and I thought the ole diary might be a good place to get it down. I plan to: do some dishes; do some laundry; go to the bank; go to the library; possibly hang out with jen and lilD at Wholefoods; if so, shop at wholefoods in the interest of procuring flour tortillas and maybe a few other things; go to walgreens and get ink cartridges for my printer; clean the shower(oh it's bad!); make some mix CDs for friends; do some prep cooking. Sheesh! It's almost 10am so I better get on it!
I have been trying to be a good reader since I signed up for Goodreads and all. After ripping through Operating Instructions by Anne Lamott with absolute joy, I went to the library to seek out another of her books. I found Blue Shoe, a novel, and tried to get into it. I kept it for a couple weeks, but it just isn't working out for me. Sigh. I switched to a collection of short stories I picked up randomly at the Goodwill called Drinking Coffee Elsewhere---and I'm not having any luck with that either. Is it fiction that's the problem? It could be. I sometimes think I am so jaded from being an English major that a fiction story has to be REALLY sparkly and clever to get my attention. Slice of life is just a waste of my time. I was talking to Al about it last night and he recommended that I go get some Djuna Barnes short stories, so I'm going to do that today. My library branch doesn't have any, so I may just get a collection at Borders. Making the trek all the way into Oakland today seems too daunting.
I am having a grand ole time finally cracking the MFK Fisher collection I got a couple years ago called The Art of Eating. It's four or so of her books collected into one volume, including the Alphabet For Gourmets that made me fall in love with her. So good.
This morning when I finally got out of bed at 7:30!!!!, I found a note from rebby that we have a mouse in the house, and that we would have to get some traps because we don't have Roxy anymore. It made me sad for a minute, and then it made me think of something that either someone directy told me or I read somewhere---sometimes animals choose to die to make room in your life for another animal that needs you.
Now, I'm not saying that I am going to adopt this mouse as a housepet or anything, but every once in a while the thought pops into my head that I really miss having a boy kitten around. Could there be a little boy out there somewhere who is looking for me? I think I might have a hard time convincing rebby---she got very attached to Roxanne sort of in spite of herself, and she doesn't seem to like the idea of "another cat." We'll see what happens. In the meantime, we've got a mouse. Seems to be getting in behind the sink. I am really not at all a fan of mousetraps, so hopefully we can take care of that business outside.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Dear Friends--
I strongly urge you to go forth into the internets right this moment and try to listen to the song "Big Freak" by Betty Davis. I downloaded it in my emusic frenzy and it is one of the best listening experiences I've had in a long time. I used to beat him with my tourquoise chain, indeed.

So, the wedding last night was fun, but exhausting. The space is not really ideal (as an example---I found myself at one point sitting on the floor in the "kitchenette" with the wedding cake on an overturned cardboard box to cut it)so we had to get more creative than usual in our prepping problem solving. It all turned out lovely, though, and people seemed to like the food (judging by the fact that they ate almost all of it, coming back for seconds and THIRDS in some cases!)We had two narrowly averted when no one could get the keg tapped (metal mike, a regular QS customer and all around cool guy finally figured out the problem after he and several other people were hit with a beer geiser)and the other when I almost set the table on fire capping the sterno. But, all tragedies were averted and everyone was all smiles. The bride and groom were lovely. Good times, but as I said, really exhausting.
Today I went in at 8:30 to prep up for what I knew was going to be a wacky labor day. We were closed in the morning for a front end meeting, but people were lined up when we opened for lunch at noon. I did line prep, specials and soups, unloaded the catering stuff out of the car, made a couple orders, did a bunch of front end dishes, ran coffee and food, took a few was one of those days. Good times though. I made a delicious special---blanched potatoes, green beans, carrots, and snow peas in coconut-mango dressing, with chili lime crispy tofu on top. I hope people eat it...but if not, we'll have it for lunch tomorrow.
On the way home today, since there was no farmer's market and the streets were relatively deserted, I took some !pictures of my favorite abandoned buildings in "downtown" East Liberty. These are all on Broad Street, which apparently used to be the center of town. Walsh's Restaurant and Bar is some kind of historical landmark, which may still be open...I wasn't able to find any definite information. If it is not, I want it for my own. The front and the sign are amazing, and though I certainly would not want to make it my business to compete with Kelly's.....I can't help fantasizing about how amazing that area could be in 5 years. The mega boutique hotel will be right around the corner. This is the time to snap up all these beautiful buildings, developers

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Happy Sunday!
Last night was my first ever night all alone in the big house...rebby had to go home to help out one of her uncles. I thought maybe I would be creeped out a little bit but I wasn't really. This neighborhood is unearthly quiet most of the time, with occasional bird/insect sounds at night. Sometimes the guy with the makeshift garage in the alley will be working on cars at 2 in the morning, but last night it was all quiet. I stayed up really late downloading songs from emusic after spending all evening preparing things for the wedding today, and I tumbled happily into bed. Woke up at 3am with terrible itches on my arm. I was freaking out because rebby got poison ivy digging in the yard last week, and I've been very careful about touching her (no fun!) but I was convinced that I had somehow contracted the poison from the bedsheets. I got up to look in the mirror and it definitely wasn't poison---either mysterious hives (which I sometimes get without warning or explanation that I've been able to determine) or bug bites. I made my way downstairs to cover myself in calamine lotion, and managed to get back to sleep without too much trouble. This morning the spots are mostly gone...probably hives. Weird.
Last night was my dad's birthday party, and I had really intended to go. Then when rebby had to leave town, I tried to figure out how to get there from here on the bus (since the T is still down until Monday) and determined that it would take at least 2 hours. Argh! So no party for me. I think it was for the best though, as if I didn't have that time last night I would have been scrambling this morning instead of taking it easy. Tonight's wedding should be a good time, even though I have to miss the Ditty Bops, who are my new loves. Sigh.
I got to go to the strip FOR WORK yesterday afternoon...huzzah! It was such a beautiful day, and I managed to mostly NOT be annoyed by all the people down there. Sometimes it's rough, especially when you are carrying five wire chaffer racks down the street, but mostly I felt happy and enlivened. I got my dad a cool present down there too....hopefully I can go visit sometime this week and give it to him.
When I got home, I had an envelope from my former landlords...they refunded all but $23 of my deposit! I really couldn't believe it. Of course, my deposit was only $99, but still. It was a really nice surprise.
I was so inspired by this unexpected windfall that I purchased a BOOSTER PACK from emusic, so I had 50 extra downloads. Now that I have DSL I am a downloading fool, and I really have been branching out and exploring new stuff. My newest favorites are Cocorosie, The Decemberists, Jack off Jill, and New Model Army, who are not so much new favorites as really really old favorites that I have been able to rediscover and will hopefully get to SEE next Sunday night. Woohoo!
Ok, I better get going. I've got to shower the calamine lotion off, pack everything up, and stop at the store for mushrooms before I head to the QS.
Happy Happy Birthday to madorange!