Satsuma mandarins...the perfect winter snack, gift, everything!

Satsuma mandarins...the perfect winter snack, gift, everything!
peel, eat, repeat

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

RIP Katrina Katrina the wickedly lovable beer barrel black cat with yellow eyes that loved anyone who hated her and hated anyone that bestowed worship passed away today due to her sweet little fickle heart giving out. We don’t really know what happened and a kitty post mortem was not in the cards but we do know it was crazy fast. Is it harder when you know for a long while and keep her comfortable and love her like crazy for the little while left to pet and give her way too many treats prompting some to mention maybe a pound could come off behind their hand or to one day notice short breaths and take her to the vet and she dies right there? I know for her it was the way we all would want to go for sure but it was a shocking, breath taking, confusion causing few days for Luke and I. Katrina was 9 years old when she died. Actually pretty young I guess. Most of our other kitties lived twice that but they were also a different breed and had pretty decent starts to life. Katrina was brought to us in a little tiny cardboard box, rescued lying next to her dead mother in a parking lot. We bottle fed her and she thrived, or actually blew into our lives like a hurricane, prompting her name. She was what I call a curtain climbing madwoman kitty. Always entertaining and as she slowed down after a couple years, one of her favorite pastimes besides chasing wildlife in her own wildlife territory was to sit on the arm of the couch and stealthily claw swat in nanoseconds all that passed by her place of relaxed attention. She leaves behind her little sister kitty Trixie, who is lost without her nemesis as well as us and an extended group of close family and friends that will miss her. May the angel on your stone watch out for you and bless you in repose. xooxoxox

spring has sprung!

My oldest sister was born on April Fool’s Day so we were all well versed in silly trickery and jokes on her special day, not particularly at her, but at us all. Coming from a family with endless siblings, we entertained ourselves well and constantly with pranks and jokes abundantly present at most times. The boys were the worst. Whether a brother, cousin or uncle, they had a tendency toward the gross fetes with a wicked twinkle emanating from the eyes and flowing outward. A frog down the back of a tee shirt or rubber snake shenanigans…. The girls expressed sweeter mischievousness in the forms of hiding a favored bra or locking the bedroom window so you couldn’t crawl back in come dawn. Even so we always loved the beginning of April. Walking the hood most evenings with my mom, we love looking at all the Easter yards overflowing with pastel colored flowering trees and bulbs. Pink camellias, tulips, lilac scented breezes and the promise of the pool opening soon, spring is hard core here with summer just around the corner. Since we are in a drought officially in California water conservation is a big topic. Nonetheless it is still a good idea to get that summer garden in along with an efficient drip system to keep it going. Relaxing as it is to stand outside come dusk and check out your babies while watering them with a garden hose, it uses a lot more water than is needed. As I sit here penning this missive on March 14, the gardener guy on PBS is telling me it is ok to put my tomatoes in. Seems early but these are strange weather days indeed. Farmer’s market tables are literally bowing under luscious piles of asparagus, leeks, spring garlic, potatoes, amazingly sweet, oh so dainty spring onions and so much more. We are picking greens from our gardens and sautéing them with the garlic or adding them to protein shakes like there is no tomorrow. After a long winter of broccoli and cauliflower, moving into asparagus season is almost illegal in the pleasure gained from a simple steam and crack of sea salt or sizzled on a hot grill drizzled with lemon oil. Carrots are crazy in season now as well. In conversations where carrots are mentioned, visions of those bizarre orange baby thumbs prolific in the grocery likely come up. Not a good representation of this amazing taproot family boasting parsley, fennel, dill and cumin among kin. Gently excavating your home grown carrot from loamy earth, devouring warm from the sun can be a religious experience. Next best is purchasing at your farmers’ markets with perky chartreuse fringe intact plainly displaying degree of freshness. Recognizably comfortable orange inside and out, carrots also come in purple, white, yellow and red with shades bordering on fluorescent dazzling eyes as well as sweetly captivating tongues. Reunite relatives by slicing carrots thin, tossing with toasted, ground cumin seed, olive oil and lemon completed by showering with finely chopped parsley and crumbled feta. Jazz up crudités by grilling slices of variously hued carrots, spring onions, asparagus and peas napped with tarragon and chive vinaigrette or a yummy homemade hummus dip. Have I mentioned carrot cake frosted with honey-vanilla cream cheese icing? Perfectly healthy treat! The local hills have all greened up with wildflowers abundant and showy along the trails and in the canyons beckoning road weary travelers to enjoy the magnificence and peace our ridges have to offer in the simple joy of a walk. Happy Spring! Carrot Ginger Soup 5 carrots, chopped 1 onion, chopped 1 clove garlic, chopped 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped 4 cups stock 2 tablespoons rice vinegar ½ cup crème fraiche Salt and pepper to taste Sauté carrots, onion and garlic in olive oil in tall soup pot for 5 minutes. Add stock and vinegar and simmer until carrots are tender. Puree and season with salt and pepper. Garnish w/ crème fraiche. Makes 6 cups.
Taking off to a location thousands of miles away, in a different time zone, different season, traversing in a few modalities of vehicles and arriving after many hours, regardless of how it may present itself initially in your stress filled frontal lobe, is beyond exhilarating for me. Recently returned from a whirlwind trip to New York City. So fun. Pre senior girl friends gone wild. Becoming an annual tradition, the St. Patrick’s Day parade in the city is just dang fun. I have so many generous and amazing friends and Gigi is the NYC pusher girl while Sheila is the home base. Can I just say how incredible it is to actually have a home base in that city? Thank you Sheila!! We covered all the bases in a compressed period of time. Amazing jazz from David Hazeltine at Smoke jazz club, the Met, the all important and massively inebriated parade of St. Patrick, a great show, the miles of subway, great food and friends. I love that subway system. I love all the walking, miles of walking. There may be no better place on earth to watch people from every race and nation carrying on with everyday life. We were even in front of the Plaza Hotel with our friend Eloise. Eataly in Chelsea, a cooperative project between Mario Batali, Lidia Bastianich and many other amazing food players, is one of my favorite places to end my trip. Amazing rich Italian chocolate bunnies for my young man’s Easter basket, yes he still gets one, unbelievable cheeses, pasta, produce, oils, vinegars, the sweetest, freshest pesce, grossly accroutred butcher counter, coffee, vino, it just goes on and on. Three restaurants beckoned us and we chose the all fish one….scallops perfectly browned on top and bottom, an art to achieve, nestled on a mountain of mixed expertly sautéed wild and domestic mushrooms drizzled in a lemony sauce, divinely inspired, deceitfully filling every nook and cranny leaving me in a narcotic haze yet acutely present of my taste buds softly sighing with joy. Cocktails at Sirio’s on 5th avenue, watching the parade behind the incredibly luxurious glass of the Hotel Pierre, avoiding face freezing temperatures while ceremoniously sipping Jameson, again, and giggling waxing ecstatic with the pure pleasure of a brilliant vacation is really an inspired way to take a break from strolling the parade route even if just for an hour or two as that particular parade goes on forever and no matter how many breaks you take you can still pick up anywhere you choose to. Irish pubs are a must for this trip. For some reason, and trust me this rarely ever happens any other place or time, these pubs are full of handsome Irish men who totally appreciate the virtues of a California gal. So fun to flirt and kiss the Irish on their day. Again another fabulous trip to a far off land, leaving life at home, at a standstill and coming home to sun, a garden perched on the edge of breaking out in full glory of spring, squirrels racing in circles on the roof, jumping from tree to tree as two very happy cats, their rock has returned, salaciously gazing but rarely chasing as they lay in sun filled hiding places especially chosen for this purpose, Cheshire in their leisure comes to and end. Already looking forward to next year.