Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Fire of September

When I was seventeen I was lucky enough to play the lead (and only) female role in a production of The Fantasticks, at Western Reserve Academy, an all boys prep school in Hudson, Ohio.

Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones wrote those beautiful songs and my young voice was suited to most of them. One of my favorite songs from that play is called "Try to Remember", and this time of year I find it running through my head most of the time.

I walk through the garden on these cool (almost) fall mornings and sing to myself,

Try to remember the kind of September
When grass was green and grain was yellow

The grass is so green, the tomatoes are bursting, egg plants seem to spring from nowhere

and I start thinking how nice it would be to live back In California, where I wouldn't have to worry about an early frost. With luck, I'll be cooking fresh, home grown veggies for another month.

Once October comes along, with its bursts of yellow and orange and red, I am again in love with Nebraska. Recent conversations with other Nebraskans confirm that the best times to live here are May/June and September/October. The rest of the time it's either too hot or too cold. But that's another blog completely. This time of year, around the autumnal equinox, before the burst of color arrives, I grieve for summer.

The song ends with,

Deep in December, it's nice to remember,
The fire of September, that made us mellow

Tomorrow, when fall begins, I'll still long for June. But October is just around the corner.

Follow, follow, follow, follow...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cold-Brewed Coffee

First of all, let me say, that I didn't make this up, or even think of it on my own. I first heard about it while chatting with Older Son last week while we were having lunch together. Munching on Crab Rangoon we talked about this and that, and somehow the subject of coffee came up. He told me that he and his wife had been "cold brewing" their coffee. He verbally passed on the recipe, which I transcribed into my mildly intelligent phone, and I determined to try it.

Next day, my daughter-in-law posted pictures of her brews:

She also posted this link:

Thank you Christy Jordan! My son always complained that he loved the smell of brewing coffee, and then was so disappointed by the taste. Christy says coffee "... never tastes as decadent as it smells." Son loves the taste of cold-brew.

I may have mentioned before that I consider most recipes to be suggestions, rather than directions, so... I found a jar and ground some coffee beans. FYI, I don't like milk in my coffee. I am (a little) embarrassed to admit that I prefer that fake powdered coffee "whitener" over actual milk, or even half & half. Sorry. I put a tablespoon of the stuff in the jar, and poured the ground coffee over it, then poured the cold water over it, put the lid on the jar, and went to work. As I was driving to work I thought, "I should blog about this!"

"No, I better wait to see if this works, I'll probably end up writing about my several tries..."

As I write these words, I hear my mother's voice in my head, "Oh ye of little faith!" she says. I concur. Oh me of little faith. Dee-Lish!

Here's the way I make it:

Pour one (large-ish) tablespoon of your favorite powdered coffee "creamer" into a 32 oz. canning jar.
Grind 2 (large) tablespoons of coffee beans on the "coarse" setting. Pour on top of the creamer in the jar.
Fill the jar with cold water (leave a little air space at the top).
Cover and set out on the counter overnight.

I strained it through a paper towel, since I have been using a French Press I have no filters, squeezed in a drip of agave nectar, and yummmmmm.

Lately, fall mornings are getting cool here in Nebraska. I poured a cup, set it I the microwave for 1 minute. Smooth brew.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, September 10, 2011


I have a couple of friends who have their birthdays on September 11. I want to send you happy, loving greetings. It's not particularly an "accomplishment" to complete another revolution around the sun, but in our culture, we have made it an excuse for celebration. And I like that.

I also have my own personal memories of September 11, 2001. I was in far away from the three geographical locations of holy ground, but not so far either.

In those days, I worked at the home office of an independent broker/dealer. We had friends across the street. We had colleagues who lost their lives. I had just switched jobs within the company and had moved to the fifth floor from the fourth floor of our short, squat building. I was down in my old cubicle picking up a few items when I heard about it. "A plane just crashed into the World Trade Center!" someone called out.

My first thought was for the poor pilot of the small Cessna type aircraft I imagined had crashed. That thought lasted until I got back upstairs and saw that a T.V. had been moved out into the main area of the floor. No need to go into my thoughts and revelations in the hours that followed, because I share those thoughts and feelings with most Americans.

My new office space was down the hall from a member of the executive committee of my company. I heard her speak, quietly but firmly, to anyone who would listen, as she strode on her way to meet with our C.E.O., " they are not going to force us to close our doors!". And we didn't. Although I worked in a business that was almost completely dependent on the stock market, we never closed, never sent people home from work unless they wanted to, and I felt proud to be associated with a company that stood strong in the face of that atrocity.

Meantime I felt guilty and strange because I started having dreams about being trapped in tall buildings. So far away from New York, about 1300 miles, and I was having bad dreams? I was safe in my home, in my city, and I felt guilty for being fearful, but I understand now that it was another shared emotion.

Back to birthdays. I hope that anyone reading this, whose birthday, or any other happy anniversary, happens to fall on September 11, has a happy day. I hope you have a day filled with joy, and celebration, and love. I send you my love, and good cheer. Eat your cake and ice cream - take a stand against the bad guys by putting on a little paper hat and blowing on a little paper horn. I love you all.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Risotto Afternoon

As I started writing this, I was standing at my stove stirring rice.

I really like risotto. I mean I *really* like it. I like it well enough with Arborio rice, but here's the thing: I also really like Brown Rice, especially the short grain variety. So I started searching on line for a recipe. In my opinion, however, recipes are mere suggestions. So I adapted and here is what I came up with, or pretty close:

1 quart chicken stock
4 cups water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups uncooked short-grain brown rice
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Sea salt and pepper to taste

Bring broth and water to a boil in a medium pot. Cover broth-water mixture and bring back to a simmer.

Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring gently, until toasted and fragrant, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 1 cup of the broth-water mixture and cook, stirring constantly and adjusting heat if needed to maintain a simmer, until liquid is almost absorbed. Repeat process, adding about 1/2 cup of the broth-water mixture each time, until rice is just beginning to get tender, about 25 minutes. When rice is al denté, cook about 5 minutes more

Add cheese, salt and pepper and stir to combine. Add about 1/2 cup more of the broth-water mixture to finished risotto before serving, if you like.

It came out pretty yummy. I discovered in mid-creation, that I was out of the good grated Parmesan, so I used the cheap stuff, you know that comes in the shaker jar with the green label? Next time I'll uses Parmigiano-Reggiano and more garlic.

It'll last me at least a week, since the manly Spouse doesn't eat anything that's not white, or meat.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Blue Crab, Figs, and Earthquakes, Oh My!

I recently embarked on a 1200 mile road trip to visit family on Maryland's Eastern Shore.
Periodically, about once a year, I make this journey, usually to one of my sisters' homes, in one of the M states. The Manly Spouse's attitude is "you go have fun with your sisters"... While my brother-in-law would appreciate the support, Manly Spouse does not particularly like wine. Or blue crab. Or martinis. Or Opera. Or boats. Or hors d'oeuvres. You get it. So off I go, top down on the little convertible, with plenty of sun-screen and audiobooks, for my annual sister-fest.

While there, I did little running, as I left my good running shoes in Omaha... So, I went to a big-box store and purchased a cheap pair. But in spite of the wonderful flat topography, my bunioney feet failed me after the second two-mile run. I went bike riding through charming Oxford, MD, and around the neighborhood, so I wasn't a total slouch.

One particularly yummy adventure was to go crabbing with some young family members (my job was to measure and throw back any females, or males under 5 1/8 inches across. I was also assigned to assist in the cooking preparation. It is a two-person job as the crabs themselves, well, to paraphrase, do not go gently into the steamer.) On another day, we made a visit to the home of a retired school administrator who has an orchard of fig trees and a bunch of chickens. Picking soft, ripe figs off the tree and biting into their warm sweetness is a sublime pleasure.

My sister's 8 year old granddaughter spent a few days, sans parents, and we designed and fabricated a floor cloth for her room. One lovely sunny afternoon we were all on the front porch of the 140 year old home my sister and her husband recently renovated, and the earth moved. Literally. The wind chime sang and clanged...but there was no wind. The grand-niece's eyes got big. I think mine did too. Twenty seconds or so later we all looked at each other and said...."was that an earthquake?"... And not so nonchalantly moved out on to the lawn, far enough away to avoid any falling walls (we hoped), which thankfully, there weren't. All learned earthquake procedures from my years in Southern California flew out of my mind...and really, should you still stand in the door frame of a non earthquake proof building anyway?

Two days before Irene hit, I was motoring across Pennsylvania, and Ohio... (my sister said: "An earthquake and a hurricane in one!"). When I finally crossed over the Mississippi River into the rolling hills of Iowa, I knew I was almost home. When I crossed the Missouri, I called the Manly Spouse. Fifteen minutes later I pulled into my driveway and there he was, garage door up, welcoming me home. Ahhh.