Cooking

Whether the power is off or on – and it has been staying on since the last weekend outage* – it’s been good cooking weather lately.

My current kitchen is much more functional than the one in the old house, which had maybe three feet of counter space. Yet I managed to make some memorable feasts in that teeny kitchenette. And even though my “new” house is so beautiful and much more reasonable than the old house, I still retain a nostalgia for the old house in all its craziness. I realize this makes no sense, but although I am many things, sensible is not one of them.

The new house has a big window in the kitchen, so I can watch the passing wildlife and birds while I cook. I especially enjoy looking out the window while doing things like making bagels or rolling the dough for har gao.

Speaking of har gao (as one often does), I might be making more this weekend. My good friend A recently sent me a recipe for pork and chive dumplings, using the same dough as har gao. She mentioned that she had a fair bit of filling left over. So my tentative plan for this weekend is to make half the pork filling and use the batch of dough to make some har gao and some pork and chive dumplings. I’ll use the rest of the ground pork to make lumpia Shanghai. This may seem like a less appealing prospect when Saturday actually rolls around.

Suzy’s Asian Kitchen has been open for business lately. I made a great batch of faux pho:

Instead of beef, I used chicken, and I poached it in Campbell’s broth with a bunch of spices. I strained it, took out the chicken and sliced it up, and served the soup with garlic-chili-sesame oil, bean sprouts, cilantro, green onions, and lime.

On the whole, I think Asian or Asian-ish food might be my favorite. It’s certainly been my default lately.

Last weekend, I made a Porchetta style pork roast. You make a paste of lemon zest, garlic, olive oil, fennel seeds, sage, and rosemary, score the skin of the pork roast, and then rub the paste in. Let it sit overnight and then roast it at high heat for half an hour and then at low heat for a couple of hours more, and it comes out like this:

I had it with mashed potatoes and a salad dressed with home-made maple balsamic vinaigrette, and it was delicious if I do say so myself.

As the great Jacques Pépin would say, “Happy cooking”!

*When power outages happen on the weekend, I always feel like some of my valuable time off got stolen.

A YEAR AGO: Haha! The power was off and I was project cooking then, too. ‘Tis the season?

FIVE YEARS AGO: The joys of Thai food and ballet.

TEN YEARS AGO: A beautiful Fall.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: The unforgettable Hotel Hell in Detroit. ~Shudder~

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Feeling sleepy.

Etc.

That always reminds me of Rhoda’s apartment, which I thought was just about the coolest place ever. I still do. I would love to have that place with the terrace and the Franklin stove in New York City. I also think Rhoda had such great style. But then, you all know that I’ve always been Team Rhoda.

You can file this entry under “Miscellaneous” (though I don’t have a “Miscellaneous” section on this blog. Of course, I don’t file very often, either, other than my nails. I was looking something in my file pile the other day, and discovered that there are some documents in the teetering stack that date back to 2019), since it’s just some random things and stuff that have happened lately.

Rain:

While we were all pretty excited to see the rain, its novelty was swept away in another atmospheric river, which also swept away my power early on Sunday morning, when it still looked pretty much like nighttime, no matter what the clock said. And when the power went out, the clock wasn’t saying much of anything.

Ever since the ordeal of the PSPS, I have found that power outages get old fast, with their coldness and darkness. I definitely feel more sadness and reaction to outages than I used to. I seem to be somewhat in denial, too, since I found I was a little unprepared. I could only find one lantern in the Closet of Doom (spoiler alert: I still haven’t cleaned it out or organized it), and it needed new batteries. At least I could find my book light and it was still functional, allowing me to finish reading Alice Feeney’s twisty and suspenseful Rock Paper Scissors in the dark and silent house.

Outside, it was simply tipping it down, as my stepmother used to say. Megan was keeping track of the rainfall:

As you can see, we got more than six inches (!) in one day, and we are already at more than 12 inches for the season. The good news is that we are at about 300% of whatever “normal” is for this time of year. I’m hoping for a rainy winter, but not more power outages.

Car:

I was leaving work one day when I noticed a sort of scrapy sound as I exited the parking lot. Arriving home, I investigated Wednesday for the source of the noise, and discovered that something had come unstuck or unpinned or something on her undercarriage:

I texted the photo to Megan so she could consult with Rob. His opinion was that he could fix it, so I headed to the property after work one day. On my way, I stopped in at the post office, and on going back to my car, I was stopped by a kindly woman who alerted me to the unseemly fact that Wednesday’s underwear was hanging out. I thanked her and explained that I was on my way to my brother-in-law’s place to get it repaired. I feel lucky to live in a place where people care enough to tell me that something’s wrong with my car.

Rob set to work on Wednesday while Megan and I hung out in the garden and watched Stella and Millie play together. Millie has come a long way since her arrival a couple of months ago. She now plays with Stella, but is still basically horrified by every human other than Megan, and as a Plan B, Rob. The rest of us she eyes with deep suspicion. Not sure if or when she will get over that, but at least Stella finally has the playmate of her dreams. Star didn’t play with Stella, so she’s been waiting for someone to play with for a long time. Star’s absence is still felt strongly, but it’s good to see Stella happy and her goofy self again.

Crime:

So far, no more sightings of Redbeard, unless you count this Halloween decoration on the Ridge:

Let’s hope it stays that way. The police cameras are still active, and there’s also a Ring camera. I wonder if passing deer and other wildlife will cause more Ring notifications than they’d like, but hopefully it help to keep the miscreant away, too.

A YEAR AGO: John’s cat Willow and her kittens! Kittens Daisy and Peach are all grown up now, but as cuddly as ever. John continues his rescue work, neutering and fostering, getting homeless cats adopted as much as he can.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Making cider from our very own apples.

TEN YEARS AGO: My newest neighbor was a horse.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Curious about my readers. It was one of those posts where the comments rapidly devolved into something else. Sometimes, I miss allowing comments.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Getting my beautiful diamond watch repaired. Amazingly, the photo links still work, though they are on the teeny side. Note to Self: I should wear it more often. It’s gorgeous.

Stolen

Our little corner of the world, while not crime-free, is pretty close to it. At the old house, I used to leave the doors open when I went to work, and none of the doors had locks. My current house does have locks, but they are unused. We leave the keys in the car at home (though not in town). Generally, it’s not something I worry about day to day. So it was big news that there was someone breaking into empty vacation rentals around here* and stealing food, booze, and miscellaneous items.

The miscreant was identified, and generally referred to as the “Red-Bearded Burglar” or “Redbeard”. There were sightings and incidents from Elk (home of Queenie’s and the fabulous Eggs Benedict) to Albion (home of Self and entire family). Redbeard shot at law enforcement, and was caught on camera entering houses with a camera in one hand and a flashlight in the other. Although he started his one-man crime spree in May, and has been within sight (and shooting distance) of law enforcement, he remains uncaught.

Not long ago, my sister told me that someone had gone through all the mail in their mailbox, but had left it there. She suggested that I ask on the message boards if anyone else had experienced that problem. It appeared that no one had. A couple of people unhelpfully (and somewhat snottily) suggested that we get a post office box, which we have had for decades, but no one admitted to any malfeasance in their mailbox.

Soon after that, our brother noticed that there were odd arrangements of stones and twigs on the pathway that goes between the property driveway and the haul road, like crazy art installations.

And a little later after the discovery of the impromptu al fresco art exhibit, Redbeard hit.

He took cigarettes and candy from the cars, and canned and preserved food from our brother’s van, which Jonathan was readying for a road trip. He also took Jonathan’s silk long underwear, Smartwool socks, and nearly all of the pesto, chicken, and garlic butter from the body freezer in the carport where the mechanic’s pit and washer and dryer are.

So it seems that he started by digging through the mailbox, then presumably watched for a while, and then struck. It’s scary to think of him spying on my family, especially knowing that he is armed and has used a weapon against the sheriff’s office. It seems that he is very comfortable in the woods, and gets around on a bike. So I guess he had quite a feast in the woods with all our food. The pesto is irreplaceable at this time of year. No more until next year.

My siblings called the sheriff’s office, and they responded in force, an unusual sight:

This is probably half the law enforcement on the coast. They put up cameras, but didn’t catch him. So far, he has yet to return, and I hope he never does. I’m beginning to wonder if they will ever catch him. I would feel a lot better if he were behind bars.

*Of which there are many. There has been a debate raging on the local message boards lately about how there are so many vacation homes here but so few rentals available to locals.

A YEAR AGO: The weather said summer, even if the calendar said fall.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Road Trip!

TEN YEARS AGO: Celebrating my second anniversary in Hootervile with my sister and our beloved Schatzi. I miss her and Star so much.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: The Lovely Rita was busy charming all and sundry. It was her superpower. I miss her, too. Side note: I notice all my past dogs are girls.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Missing my Sunday morning emails from Dad.

Out


Cheers!

There’s nothing like a glass of champagne (well, sparkling wine) to lift a girl’s spirits any time, but it is especially welcome at mid-week. I met a friend at our favorite seaside bar on a Wednesday afternoon, bringing some sparkle to the middle of the week. I was warmly greeted by the wonderful bartender, and we spent a little time catching up as I waited for my friend to join us. I always enjoy our conversations, and I think her combination of mixology skills, graceful efficiency, and charming personality make the ambiance of the bar. She is one of those people who lights up a room.

It was a beautiful afternoon, the sun heading toward the horizon, with a flock of pelicans skimming the water in the glowing sunbeams. Watching the ocean is a peaceful end to the day, but it’s definitely made better by the company of a friend and a glass of sparkling local wine.

At the end of the week – or the beginning, depending on how you look at it – I headed the other way for Sunday brunch, for the long-awaited Eggs Benedict at Queenie’s.

I have wanted to try them for a long time, but something always seemed to get in my way. It was raining, they were closed, there were no tables, I was too lazy to leave the house – let me count the ways. Finally, the day had come, and it was a lovely one.

It was one of those days when the ocean was a deep, vivid blue, accented with creamy white waves. It was a postcard view, and I laughed out loud when I passed the pull out for this view:

And saw that it was completely full of cars, as people took pictures.

Arriving at Queenie’s, I found a table outside where I could admire the view from across the road:

And when the Eggs Benedict arrived, they were a thing of beauty:

They were as delicious as they looked. I had freshly-squeezed orange juice, and it was a truly wonderful and memorable meal. As I headed home, I thought of how lucky I am to live somewhere so beautiful with so many special places so close by.

strong>A YEAR AGO: Visiting a friend.

FIVE YEARS AGO: ‘Tis the season: for rain, Halloween, and scares.

TEN YEARS AGO: A plague of fleas.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: Going to the dentist is never fun, even when they have the good magazines.

Rainy

I’m excited to announce that we actually got some rain!

I was thrilled to hear the soft sound of the rain pattering on the house. It sounds much more subtle in this house than in the old one, where the curved roof/walls seemed to amplify the sound of every drop, and with all the windows and skylights, I felt like I was in the middle of storms, with treetops tossing their heads, the wind howling, and the rain slashing.

Here it is much more gentle experience, and sometimes I can’t even tell whether it’s raining or not until I go outside. This is also true of hot weather; the house is usually pretty cool, and I have been surprised by how warm it is when I step outside.

It was so nice to see the rain on the deck:

accessorized by seasonal fallen leaves. It was the perfect weather for reading and enjoying my scented candle addiction. We got about an inch, and I’m hoping for a rainy winter. We need it. Some people in the Village have been trucking in water since April. So far, our well has kept going, and I’m thankful for that. I’m always glad to hear the water tank on the third floor filling.

The rainy weather inspired me to make Montreal-style bagels

They turned out pretty well, considering I’m thousands of miles (or kilometers) from Montreal, in another country, and do not possess a wood-fired oven. Next time, I will bake at a slightly lower temperature, and put the dough on parchment paper for ease of removal after baking. I think my next cooking adventure will attempting to make my own poppadums. Stay tuned on that, and while you’re waiting, send your rain our way! It will receive a warm welcome.

FIVE YEARS AGO: A delightful walk in the village cemetery, with some ghost stories and local history thrown in.

TEN YEARS AGO: Car sharing and car problems.

Phobia

I switched from my spring/summer citrusy perfume to my fall/winter cedary one. One morning, it just seems time to switch the seasonal scents. I don’t know what prompts it, but I always know when it’s time. The same day, I paused at my car door to enjoy the beauty of the crescent moon and the blazing stars in the black sky as I headed off to work in the early morning darkness.

As I drove down Deer Alley, I realized that, much like I did when I lived in San Francisco, I leave for work at the mysterious hour when night meets day, and the nocturnal creatures are heading home and the daylight ones are heading out. Now, instead of sex workers and their clients*, the night guy at the mortuary sneaking a cigarette, weary cops grabbing a cup of coffee at an all-night coffee shop, and partiers staggering home as the night met the dawn, there are deer, skunks trundling along comically, possums blinking in the headlights, owls swooping overhead, foxes slinking by, raccoons, and rabbits. It would make a fun movie split screen.

I have become somewhat deer phobic since I hit one recently. Although the deer ran away and there was no visible car damage, it shook me up, and now I’m convinced that a more serious deer accident is inevitable. When my siblings lived on boats at Pier 39, my brother used to say of falling in the water, “There’s them that has and them that will,” and I fear this is also true of hitting a deer. I drive about 250 miles a week just to get to work and back, and much or most of it is on roads bordered by deer-infested woods, so I feel that the odds are not with me on this one.

I’m already tired of driving in the dark and being blinded by the oncoming traffic, and there are months of it ahead of me. I am already pre-resenting the spring time change, when I get plunged back into weeks more of darkness just when it starts being light in the morning. I actually welcome having a car in front of me on these early morning drives, reasoning that they will meet the deer before I do.

Deer are beautiful and graceful, and I am charmed to see them bouncing down the driveway like they are on springs, or hopping up gracefully to nibble apples, or when they come up on the front porch and peer through the front door, which is mostly glass. But they are also a daily concern when I drive to work. I have been driving more slowly these days, and it certainly makes the trek to the Big Town seem a lot longer. But hopefully, it’s a little safer, too.

*I was surprised by how many besuited guys on their way to the Financial District would pick up girls on their way to work, much like they would pick up coffee. I wonder if this still happens. I still think it’s a little odd, but even after all these years and all these relationships, the ways of men are mysterious to me.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Adventures in real estate.

TEN YEARS AGO: The ordeal of swimming lessons.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: A delightful visit with Dad, circa 1991. Those were the days!

Cocktail

Sadly for the fabulousness level of our little corner of the world, Monica is closing her shop of eternal cuteness and selling the building that all too briefly housed it. She has not yet decided on her next adventure, but whatever it is, I know it will be creative and fabulous, like Monica herself. Though excited for Monica, I am sad for Self and all of us who enjoyed shopping in her civilized oasis of adorableness. On the bright side, it allowed me to acquire some fantastic things at a serious discount, including this Camp Cocktail kit:

This pretty Mason jar was the clever idea of someone who wanted to be able to enjoy cocktails while camping. You add alcohol and let it steep for a few days. If you are the kit’s creator, you then strap on your boots, put it in your backpack, and stride mightily off into the wilderness. If you’re Me, you put on your kitty PJ’s and mix it with San Pellegrino pomegranate and black currant* flavored water in a glass accented with rhinestones:

Because you can never have too much sparkle, inside or outside your glass.

I also got some delicious scented candles from Chez Monica, including City of Night. I didn’t know what the scent was at first; all I knew was it smelled mysterious and delightful. I later learned that it was inspired by Jim Morrison and included notes of cypress, fir, charred vetiver and black pepper. I am now hopelessly addicted to having a scented candle burning in the evening. Another favorite is the locally made Hearth, which pretty much smells the way it sounds and is my total favorite. I find it really comforting to have that flickering light as the evening darkness falls.

*Black currant is one of my all-time favorite flavors. It is sadly underrepresented in the Land of the Free, though readily available all over Europe the last time I looked. I personally have enjoyed black currant flavored codeine throat pastilles, bought over the counter in Paris, where I also acquired penicillin throat spray without the need of a prescription. Throat spray was resolutely unflavored, though that was its only drawback.

A YEAR AGO: Rob’s shelves for the Closet of Doom. You will be amazed to hear that the closet remains totally disorganized. One of these days…

FIVE YEARS AGO A look around the garden at the old house. I still miss it there.

TEN YEARS AGO Cars are an expensive habit.

FIFTEEN YEARS AGO: Cuteness.

TWENTY YEARS AGO: A late, but beautiful start to the day.