Framing the Chaos
Do you ever find you are having a hard time sorting through the oncoming torrent? The world can be a pressure hose of noise, media, have tos, emotions that is aimed directly at your face. So much of what is essential to sanity gets blown off the radar by this torrent of chaos. So often I hear the lament of those who are single, ‘oh whoa is me’, yet peaceful reflection that which reminds of who God created us to be and what he has called us to do only occurs in solitude. What are we so afraid of? In the past week or so, my eyes pop open at 5 a. BAM! P2B (prior to boating) that was the norm but I also went to bed at 8 p. Now that my bedtime is pushed back my eye open time should move forward but not this week. Even though I know I will have to include a siesta in my day to make it, I enjoy the early morning hours. It is time to think, to breathe, and to enjoy the silence. What bliss!
P.S. I’m aware that the reverse is true as well, those sneaky night people who are amazingly awake at 1 a.m. to reflect and send thoughtful emails. Wow! Those people are amazing.
For me, Christmas never really kicks off until I’m at church with my sister and her family on Christmas Eve. We sing “Go Tell It on the Mountain” and take communion. We all pile in the car and pig out at Marconi Grill on bread, butter and paste. Every year my arms feel full of what God has given. This year the plan was altered as FL was the Christmas city but still I was reminded of the love that surrounds me. Emails from family and friends encourage, offer gifts of insight and windows into the lives of those I love. How stunning the people that surround me. Robb and I spent our day lounging, bicycling, swimming and paying homage to the oceans. Despite being in FL, my family and friends are with me and I’m reminded of what Christmas is all about, sacrificial bountiful love. Blessings and grace to all.
Austin, Ashley & Connor
I don’t know how the rest of you feel about Christmas pictures but I LOVE them. Some people have told me they feel strange about sending out Christmas pictures of their families but they thrill me. So many incredible people cross my path and I do not get to see them F2F very often so pictures speak volumes to me. They always bring a smile to my face. This Christmas will be especially difficult as I will be in Ft Lauderdale and my beloved family will be in Big D so keep these cards and letters coming. And by the way, when do families reach the stage where they only send out pictures of the children and not the adults? Hm? Is it that people do not like the way they look in pictures? Oh come on, the people that love you, love to see you just as you are in all your creased glory!! Get in front of the camera (most include timers so the picture taker can race into the frame!) snap a few and send them on, it’s a treat for us out here in the far flung universe. Merry, merry Christmas everyone.
Dead Center by Shiya Ribowsky & Tom Shachtman
“Dead Center: Behind the Scenes at the World’s Largest Medical Examiner’s Office” by Shiya Ribowsky and Tom Shachtman
Former Director of Special Projects,
New York City Medical Examiner’s Office.
“Show me the manner in which a nation cares for its dead, and I will measure with mathematical exactness, the tender mercies of its people, their loyalty to high ideals, and their regard for the laws of the land.”
William Ewart Gladstone 1809-1898
Up until this week, I’ve not read any books on 9/11. That day is still too painful, too devastating that I shunned the myriad of books in print. When I picked this book up at the library, I was not aware that 9/11 stood at the center of this narrative. A story of how people live is always what interests me the most and that is what called me to this book. Tell me why you do what you do, your job, your marriage, how do you manage life in all it’s complexities, tell it in a compelling way and I’m there. Medical science, detective tales and yes, even murder touches a twisted curiosity in me, this book offered a handy combo. Recently, I read “Better” by Dr Atul Gawande – fascinating narratives on the ever-complex practice of medicine. Practice being the key word. These types of books hold my attention but Dead Center offered unique insight into a place portrayed in countless detective shows, the Medical Examiner’s Office. Does anyone else remember, Quincy? We’ve moved onto CSI in TV land a particularly fanciful look at the world of crime but obviously the ratings reflect a collective conscious interest in these topics. Dead Center tells the story of 9/11 from the perspective of one person involved in the colossal effort to identify the victims. He does not start there but that is the heart of his tale. Upon the first anniversary of 9/11, only 500 of the victims had been identified despite massive efforts. What struck me was the dedication, selflessness and all consuming effort by employees of the city government, who often do not have sterling reputations for effort. In the end, these dedicated professionals were able to identify over 80% of the victims. It would not be everyone’s choice for a Sunday afternoon read but I’m glad it was mine.
So I’m going to serve desert. First every hostess is admonished ‘don’t serve anything you haven’t made before’. Ha!! I’d be left with canned chicken and oatmeal. So it’s into the breach lads, into the breach! The chocolate desert (there always has to be a chocolate desert) was offered by my niece Ashley Price – pictured with her proud mother above. What a wonder of chocolate with a pecan crust. Note to self, once the pecans are toasted and require cooling; don’t put them in the freezer at an angle. One side of the pan had crust the other sans crust. Oh well, when it defreezed I was able to mush it down. The filling was easy and the whole thing conveniently pops into the freeze 24 hours before the party. The instructions instruct to remove from freeze one hour before service. Well, what happens if one removes it just a tad too early, your kitchen is blazing and dinner is delayed by lack of oven space? The result? Chocolate mush. Tasty mush but still mush. Grrr!! The next desert was to be cheesecake, which I have made in the past with great success but my friend who will remain nameless suggested flan. What a great idea I thought, although I never made flan before I was ready or so I thought. First off, my nameless pal is an amazing cook and knows that when the recipe she sends reads; melt ½ c sugar on med-high heat that you are supposed to add a bit of water to make this happen. Hm? Third time was not the charm on this recipe but since I had blended the small can of condensed milk (what size is small anyway?) and the small carton of whipping cream (ditto), I poured it all on and hoped for the best. As you can imagine, it was not the best but boy we had fun trying!!
“My life in France by Julia Child” was my audio book de jour as I whipped up dinner. The book’s focus is on her memories of moving to France with her husband who was in the State Department, her discovery of cooking a la francaise and the development of her two initial mastery works. What a personality and what commitment. Her reminisces are a delightful and immensely encouraging. She admits to her continual practice that was certainly not always perfect. She also empathetically states that a cook should NEVER apologize for her efforts even if she realizes it’s less than her best. This I try to remember as I know I’m harder on myself than anyone else ever would be. On the edges of her story are political developments – McCarthyism (frightening) and cultural phenomenon – TV (perhaps more frightening?). What stoo d at the center of the oeuvre is her relationship with Paul Child her husband of so many years. It was truly a partnership of like minds and like loves. What a gift. I have a few DVDs of hers on reserve at my library. Do you know she could debone a chicken leaving it completely intact in less than 12 minutes? Now that’s something to see.
Hello gang – I wanted to pass along the menu for the dinner party for 20 on 7 Dec 07. Remember as you review that I will not be a guest as well as cook. When you throw a dinner party, there is the expectation you will want to interact and enjoy the guests. That is not my role. I’m purely kitchen help. The sauces and desserts can be created the day prior to the event, which relieves the load. Let me know your thoughts. P.S. This is the last announcement I will be sending to all as I don’t want it to become annoying. Thank you to all --
Smoked Salmon Tostada with a Chipotle Tartar Sauce
Grilled Chicken Quesadillas with a tomatillo salsa
Black Bean Dip, Guacamole & Salsa with Corn Tostadas
Proscuitto Wrapped Sea Scallops with a Mango & Roasted Bell Pepper Coulis.
Chipotle Pan – BBQ Pork Tenderloin.
Corn and Anaheim Chili Pudding
Roasted Pecan Crusted Yams
Frozen Chocolate Pie with Pecan Crust ala Ashley Price
New York Cheesecake with Sweet Cherry sauce.
What green thing can I put on the buffet table?
Am I doing too much starch?
Does cheesecake really go with this menu?
Met with Charter Manager last night. That is distinct from the charter broker but for you who do not have at least $40,000 lying around to spend on vaca – do not bother. She was delightful. Of course every yachty meeting includes a bit of vino and the one we drank last evening was delightful. It is from the Klinker Brick Winery – 2005 Lodi Old Vine Zinfandel reasonably priced at $13.99. It is a layered wine with the first notes being deep rich cherry followed by an underlay of chocolate. Absolutely exquisite.
Ode to Coffee
I love coffee. I love a huge stein of fully leaded coffee with French Vanilla Sugar Free Torani Syrup, a touch of stevia and a hearty glug of 2% zapped in the micro for 20 second it is my morning pleasure. I love coffee. A cranky ex-husband used to berate me for my coffee addiction but as I frostily explained, I did give it up once for an entire year therefore NOT Addicted. After the year was up, I thought to myself, “You love coffee, what the hell are you thinking?” So back to my sweet milky morning pleasure. Some people marvel over foie gras and truffles, for me it’s all about the coffee.
This is a scream of desperation to all my rowdy pals who ‘really’ cook. When I say ‘really’ cook I mean they enjoy it, they work at it and other people admire their cooking finesse. My question goes to you – do you make your stock at home from scratch? You might wonder, why is my obsessive friend, obsessing about this at this moment? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s another book of course, The Making of a Chef by Michael Ruhlman. The book is his account of completing a portion of the classes at CIA. (for the uninitiated that’s not the CIA of covert ops but the CIA – the Culinary Institute of America). In his explanation of his mission for the book he writes, “Recipes are a dime a dozen. You could follow them for a hundred years and never learn to cook…If you didn’t know how to make a great stock, if you didn’t even know what a great stock tasted like, you were doomed to mediocrity in the kitchen, at best, and at worst, ignorant foolishness.” Hm? Perhaps I do not want to adopt his ideas of cooking into my own frame of reference but am I deluding myself? Perhaps I’m doing this all backwards, I’m cooking and trying to learn how as I go along? These are, of course, rhetorical questions as I get paid to cook and I better damn well do it says my credit card companies but do you understand? I’m sending this directly to everyone on my contact list, as I need to hear from you. Please help. And by the way, happy grateful day. Despite the distress of this particular missive, do not doubt that I realize my blessings, which are abundant. Kiss someone you love and be glad you are with them