Saturday, September 26, 2009

I think they grow weary of my art

Somehow, the "Oh, great," Sean muttered under his breath when I announced I was making homemade sausage for tomorrow's Oktoberfest seemed a little less than sincere.

Friday, September 25, 2009

It could happen

Our writer's group hasn't met since early last spring, so at our reunion meeting this morning I am hoping my last 20,000 words will magically appear in the foam of my skinny vanilla latte.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


Here's that link to my Kouzzina by Cat Cora post on Whoa Momma.

Whatever it's called is not helping

Well, that actually lasted much longer than I thought.

The first day of fall coincidentally marks our first Sick Day.

I might have thought A-Dog was faking it, but I, too, woke up feeling like I’d swallowed a sea urchin during the night, so I let her go back to bed.

Sean keeps pushing the Eukanaba (or whatever it’s called) on me saying it boosts the immune system or something.

It is now Day 2 of this horrendous head cold lodged where my tonsils used to be, and I feel worse than ever.

I think this Euthanasia (or whatever it’s called) is just Spanish Fly for Strep.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Me and my friend Cat were doing shots of ouzo together...

I wrote about the actual restaurant, "Kouzzina by Cat Cora" over on Whoa Momma, but for my friends, I wanted to tell you about the experience of meeting her yesterday.

First off, you know how much I love food. Eating it, making it, watching it, talking about it. So when I got the invitation for this about a month ago, there was absolutely no way I was going to miss it. No. Way.

But I had absolutely no idea what to expect. The restaurant soft-opened in August, but this was a special Grand Opening event. All the invitation gave was a date and time and that a special "tasting menu" would be served. In my head, I set the bar for "tasting" to mean either supermarket samples in paper cups or if I really reached, waiters walking around with small portions of miscellaneous food to serve the perhaps thousands in attendence.

Oh no, my friends. Oh no.

There were 8 tables of 8, with one of those reserved for Cora and her immediate family. So by my twisted math, I figured I was one of Cat's 64 best friends. And please don't correct me because it's better if you leave me to my delusions.

There was assigned seating, and the tables were set beautifully with 3 glasses of wine, a shot of ouzo and Pellegrino in front of every chair. There were about 3 waitstaff per diner, and the same for chefs in the kitchen.

We sat down and were greeted by the President of Disney--ah hello--who introduced Cat Cora who might be the only adult woman under the age of 109 shorter than me. (She stood on a box to address us.) There are cameras set up along the entire perimeter, and I just know I'm going to be re-living this moment on a Food Network special soon. She gave her very nice opening remarks, juggling her son on her hip like every other mother I know, then instructed the guests to share a shot of ouzo with her, as she likes to do. It is also her custom to do this after an Iron Chef battle, so then my delusion builds, and I think this must make me an honorary Iron Chef. Or not.

And then they start bringing out the food. Either Cat,(cause BFF's call each other by their first names) her head chef, or her mother, each introduce a dish and give the history behind it. And they are not miniscule portions in sample cups. Nope, 12 courses of the most delicious and full, Mediterranean-inspired plates of flavor you've ever seen, paired with wines from her own winery label, "Coronation."

Cat starts making the rounds and personally speaks to every single person in the restaurant. Graciously posing for pictures, answering questions, smiling...and then her mother comes around and does the same. When Cat comes to me, I think I just sputtered out some unintelligible garlic-scented drivel since I had just tried the Chilled Salt-roasted Beets with Skordalia which I think translates to "big pillow o' yummy garlic." I am a little star-struck. I admit this freely. I kick myself for not asking for a photo.

So we proceed like this for a couple of hours, dish after dish, until our limbs have petrifield into bubbling souflee cups. But I seriously don't want to leave. I feel like I should help with the dishes or something.

Because it really was that intimate. It shouldn't have been--who am I to be treated to something the exectuive chef of Bon Appetit is preparing? (Did I mention I have every single issue of that magazine since 1994? Seriously, ask Lisa.)

But I was, and that's how it felt--being treated like I was a guest in her home--a great big, well-staffed home--but a home nonetheless. And as I looked around the room, I realize I'm glad that I am star-struck. I am glad that I eat everything placed in front of me--not that anything is a stretch except for the Brussel Sprouts because I really, really, really hate Brussel Sprouts--and allow myself to enjoy the gift I was given as my hostess intended. I am glad that I can be appreciative of every single bite whether it was something I was familiar with or not.

On the way out, I get up the nerve to say "Thank you," to her as she's cutting up dessert for one of her four sons. She smiles, I know she's got hours of interviews ahead of her, and thanks ME for coming which I almost have to laugh out loud at the lop-sided absurdity of it.

But I don't.

Instead, we pose for a picture together and I try to absorb all of the sights, sounds, tastes and scents of a memorable afternoon.

Even the Brussel Sprouts.

We start with Greek salad but it's made with arugula--a much better choice for a Mediterrean salad than wet iceberg lettuce if you ask me. It had a lovely oregano vinegarette, and tomatoes that are actually grown on property.

Spanakopita. Deliriously good Spanakopita.

Pastitsio, a Greek lasagna, but this one has this cinnamon-stewed meat sauce, Bucatini pasta and a Bechamel. I am still full.

these are the salt-roasted beets. I didn't even know I liked beets, but hello? Seriously good stuff, and so pretty...

Traditional Gigantes beans--Cat's mom taught us how to pronounce it, but I can't remember.

Here's the Fisherman's Stew--scallops, red snapper, mussels, fennel, sea goodness.

This is the oak-grilled Lamb burger. If there was anything on the menu that I couldn't finish, it was unfortuantely this because it was just too spicy for me. Which made me really sad, because I love lamb, and the homemade roll and tsizki sauce were lucious.

And finally, dessert. Or should I say, desserts? Chocolate Budino cake (molten), Baklava, and Greek-style yogurt sorbet with fresh berries in that little jar in simple syrup. We were also served a Frappe that was a deleicious ending.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Maybe they should issue a membership card like Costco

The only analogy I can come up with is that guy at the grocery store.

Now before my husband busts me for making such a sweeping generalization--he who buys 2 oz bottles of Coca-Cola in collector miniature bottles for $27 per 4-pack--not all men, just the one with that deer in the headlights look that accompanies a trip to Publix on Saturday afternoon when he's caught in the headlights of oncoming grocery carts filled with BOGO's driven by professional shoppers with photographic memories of Sunday circulars and unexpired coupons while all he wanted to pick up was a case of Miller Lite and toilet paper.

Dude, I've been there.

Today, at Michael's.

I know, I don't belong there, and I apologize right now for attempting to crash the club at 10 am on a Tuesday morning when that time slot is clearly reserved for the professional crafters among us--of which, I am not.

I think they set up that store to purposely confuse the uninvited. I don't understand the subtleties of paint--why can't all of the paint be in one aisle instead of divided into fabric paint, wood paint, craft paint, spray paint, kid paint, floral paint and really expensive, If-You-Have-To-Ask-What's-It-For-you- shouldn't-be-using-it-paint. I need to paint a pumpkin but I see no aisle designating that. Oh, and by the way, I need 23 more of those pumpkins in the exact same size and I can only fit 1 and half in this miniature cart you've supplied.

I manage to get 20 of the pumpkins in three carts, and a smattering of other supplies when I go to check out. The looks from the line--which is inexplicably long for a Tuesday morning--were sinister. Hatred spewing from their eyes as I wheeled my Jack o' lantern caravan through. The cashier has me bagging the pumpkins, which doesn't make it easier because less pumpkins can fit into the cheap plastic bags than the cart designed for hobbits.

But no one will help you.

And it's not like it's even the service hell that is Joanne's because at least they sell fabric that needs to be cut and so the bolts of seersucker and gingham get the lion's share of personnel.

But anyway, the old ladies behind me are guffawing, which flusters me to no end. Guffaws are my Achilles' heels. I don't know why, it's stupid and rather immature, but I really can't take guffaws from old women. Combine that horrendous chin music with the ridiculous awkwardness of 10 inch craft pumpkins precariously balanced and Jessie grabbing chocolate from the cash wrap, that needless to say, I forgot the tax exempt number I was supposed to use as well as the two coupons that I had managed to garner the foresight to cut on Sunday.

I'm sure you can't tell, but the whole experience--which isn't even over yet because in addition to having to get 4 more pumpkins, you know that the paint I bought is probably Vaseline-based and is going to right slide off of those suckers into a pool of black and orange despair--has me once again wondering why I do these things to myself.

And really, the paint will be the least of my problems because you know this pumpkin is never going to look as cute and clever as the one I've designed in my mind.

No, it's going to look like that guy at the grocery store tried to use a glue gun and popcicle sticks after that case of Miller Lite.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Did I mention I love stuffed grape leaves?

Either the culinary gods are applauding my efforts of late, or they are completely disgusted and want to show me how real chefs cook.

I'm okay with either one of those reasons.

Because on Thursday, I get to meet Cat Cora of Iron Chef and general culinary brilliance fame.

I get to meet her, and taste some of her new dishes she's whipping up for a new restaurant in Disney, "Kouzzima." And I am so excited I've started fasting right now.

So fellow foodies, don't hate me because I'm about to eat beautifully. I will check on doggie bags...

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday goodness

I think I may just have turned down some alternate path in the universe--I am actually looking forward to going to the gym this morning because it makes me feel good. That's equivalent to saying I prefer a bowl of some foreign-sounding cereal in an unbleached cardboard box to eating Trix by the handful.

Anyway, here is all the Friday news that's worth mentioning before I continue acting like a grown-up.

The Walt Disney World Moms Panel is selecting its 2010 panelists. Please enter here if you are interested.

I put a new column up at you a subscriber? You are missing out on all of my giveaways and new content if not.

Have a nice weekend.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

I'll spare you the trouble of sending me hate mail

I've been around long enough to know that the below blog that was posted this morning on Whoa Momma will elicit hateful comments from one of the following themes from anonymous posters all of which have absolutely nothing to do with what I wrote, but via bad spelling and grammar I will be yelled at for one or more of the following:

a)How could I dress my child in such clothing. (I didn't and would never)

b)How dare I bash strippers.

c)Michelle Obama.

d)Remonstration from the Women's Movement.

e)Remonstration from the pedophiles.

f)Remonstration from the art community.

g)Remonstration from Great Britain.

Should be a fun day.

We must put an end to sexy clothes for children! Sing it, Sister!

Young girls are constantly inundated with social messages that concentrate too much on their looks! Preach on!

Let’s combat this social injustice by putting our infants in nipple-tasseled onesies! Ame--WTH?

Clothing designer Suzi Warren said in a recent Aol Parent Dish article that her nipple-tassel shirts and "C is for Condom" tees are actually a protest against sexually inappropriate clothing for children. "There is nothing very sexy about a baggy, lap neck, long sleeved t- shirt for a 6-month-old. So by embellishing this style of garment with printed nipple tassels, the result is not that the baby becomes sexualized by the tassels, but that the tassels are made benign and silly by the baby. In fact the more inert, innocent and unaware the infant is, the more ludicrous the contrast becomes."

Um, ok?

"The trap set to ensnare girls into a life-time of preoccupation with their looks is a subtle one. My garments are not part of this trap because they are about a subtle as a blinking brick and are aimed at parents of children too young to read or speak.”

I am all for a revolt on the short shorts and tube tops for preschoolers, but I’m not quite sure if putting my infant in nipple tassels is the most effective way to show my support for this particular protest. I realize real change has to start somewhere, but I’m not sure birth is the place to announce, "I’ve Done F**k All Day." While I’m irony’s biggest fan, there’s just too many w’s in the Ewww factor of this fashion statement.

Which is considerably better than too many X’s, because X is for X-rated.

Monday, September 07, 2009

An album

I have to admit that sometimes I forget.

I don't know why I do, it makes perfect sense, but it still knocks me over every single time it happens anyway.

I forget that all photographic record of my mother doesn't start and end with the few photos that we have in our possession. There are others out there--other friends and family have pictures of her throughout the years that I've never seen before, and they surface like lost treasure upon a shore. I open them up and I am once again floored by her brief presence here, and I just want more.

Tonight, my Uncle shared some photo scans from 1963-75.

This one is probably 1971 and it's my Mom, my Grandmother, Aunt Edna, Aunt Marge and Aunt Karen. Beautiful, smart and very funny women all getting their Juleps on in the backyard.

That's Mom and Edna and Grandmother. They have all passed in the last ten years and that makes me so sad.

And this one just makes me ache.

Sundays are more delicious than Mondays

On this week's episode of Sunday Dinners Gone Wild, I prepared the traditional Labor Day weekend fare: Beef Wellington Aux Duxelles with Bordelaise sauce. Which translated means Beef Wellington with Mushrooms instead of duck pate so you don't gross out your guests, potatoes with creme fraiche, green beans with caramelized shallots (or shallots sauteed really, really long instead "caramelized"), homemade pickled vegetables, salad, bread, birthday cake and panna cotta with sweetened strawberries.

A serious improvement over hamburgers.

I'd be lying if I said I couldn't get used to this type of dining: cooking for two days so as to linger over multiple courses, friends and bottles of wine for three hours. It beats wolfing down a meatloaf in front of the tv. But in addition to raising the bar a bit high so that on a Tuesday night after baseball and homework you can't throw that meatloaf at your gourmands-in-training, my menus do have one serious drawback.


I use every single one when I cook. Ever. Single. One. Even when I run the dishwasher six times before the actual meal to cut down on this droll post-meal chore, I still end up with sinks, counters, floors, tables and couches filled with souffle cups and pickle forks. I cannot seem to streamline the number of last minute serving dishes before serving.

And so Sunday Dinners have now lead to Monday Dishes. Which is not nearly as much fun, but since eating Beef Wellington on paper plates would be a crime against humanity, I guess you know where to find me on Mondays.

(And since I made twelve servings of panna cotta, Tuesdays as well.)

Speaking of food, here's a link to a food-related post in Whoa Momma! today.)

Friday, September 04, 2009

My love/hate/hate relationship with routines

We have just completed our second week of school, and my jury is still out on whether this whole education thing is really working for me.

Kidding. The kids absolutely love it, which is already worth the early days. We're still working out those new routines though, and that's where the transition still has some kinks. There are some new things that are great, but there are some that might drive me to gouge out someone's eyes with a number 2 pencil.

New Routine I Like: Going to the gym in the mornings with Jessie. For one hour, she loves to play with some other precocious 2 year olds and I get to scowl at their thinner, younger mothers on the treadmill.

New Routine I Hate:
Jessie waking up at three a.m. asking for popcorn and Yo Gabba Gabba. I dream that Luno is chasing me on Jack Black's talking motorcycle.

NRIL: Having the kids sit down and do their homework at the kitchen table while I cook dinner.

NRIH: The homework part of the above equation.

NRIL: Watching Amy stand and walk a little taller everyday.

The fact that Stevie is taller, growing 2 inches last year.

NRIL: Forward momentum on the novel. I see light.

NRIH: Putting some other reading and writing on the back burner for a while until I finish.

NRIL: Picking them up in the afternoon.

NRIH: Dropping them off in the morning.

Once I find the balance between all of those activities, I should be all set.

I figure that should be around April.