Friday, March 20, 2015


Most of the time I am trying to just keep my head above the water.  But I miss large projects, and conventions and hanging out with artists.  One of these days I know the precious times of wiping little bottoms will be over and I'll have time for more elaborate creative pursuits.  Like learning to play the accordion.  In the meantimes, I have Mr Doob.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Pressure Cooker Applesauce

5 large Granny Smith apples
1 T cinnamon

Peel and slice apples into large chunks

Put into cooker with cinnamon

8 minutes

Natural release

(I didn't invent this either, but I couldn't find the timing for apples in any of my notes!)

Sunday, September 21, 2014


I am loving this liquid diet!  (Only if I get to cook for myself, though).  I made this cornstarch pudding recipe, subbing 3 T of cocoa + 1 T oc coconut oil for the baking chocolate and coconut sugar for the white sugar.  DAMN DELICIOUS.  In fact, I gave myself a very painful jaw spasm trying to shovel this into my pudding hole.

NB, the recipe calls for nearly 20 minutes of uninterrupted stirring.  I did a lot of stirring, but not that much (I have a life, yo!).  I don't have a double boiler, but I used my flame tamer's accumulated heat to do the last 10 minutes of cooking. 

The texture, after it cooled, was amazing.  Nearly as semi-solid as jello and so so smooth.  Not a single whiff of cornstarch flavor (the prolonged cooking/stirring takes care of that).  Absolutely a dessert I'd proudly serve to friends, and worth the effort.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Quite a bit of vicodin later...

Good friend posted this Red lentil soup recipe last year. Made it last night, and just blended the onion topping right into it.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

only the dumb teeth remain...

My sister and I drove for over an hour through the worst San Francisco morning commute traffic to go to the maxillofacial surgeon this morning.  When I arrived the receptionist asked me if I had eaten breakfast.  Since I had eaten breakfast they were going to have to push back my wisdom tooth appointment for another couple of hours, apparently they didn't want it gracing their faces or ceilings. During that time I met Joe at his work and wandered to the Ferry Building.  It was a good thing I had eaten breakfast since Joe had made me two generous Black Fogs for dessert last night and it took quite a lot of water and buttered toast to get my brain back online.  Finally the hour arrived with heavy steps I returned back to the doctor's office.  They hooked me up with a couple of leads, the blood pressure cuff, and a monitor for my blood oxygen.  I was a little bit nervous about my blood pressure but it was sort of normal for me and not at all alarming

The doctor arrived and I made the mistake of looking at all of his terrifying stainless steel, scary tools; medieval claws, and pliers with jagged teeth, pointy sharp things with ergonomic handles, and more that I didn't want to see (because some things you can never unsee).  A nice Russian nurse gave me a panoramic x-ray earlier and larger than life on the wall was the image of my my teeth looking incredibly straight and regular and strange with two black holes where my sinuses should be. I stared at the silly sinuses for that hour wondering what on earth was in them.

 This is what I remember of my x-ray.  I only had three wisdom teeth. One of them had a root that went into my sinus cavity, I really didn't want a passage connecting my sinus to the back of my mouth. I can hardly wait to see next year's x- rays.

The Doc asked me if I was still awake. I said, "yes" and the next thing I know, they are pulling wads of gauze out of my mouth, and various other objects I can feel but not see.  Like three little pebbles, my teeth sat proudly on the tray.  For a half muddled moment I was completely confused.  A nurse pointed them out.  Can I keep them? I asked.  She disappeared and returned with a little, hermetically sealed, windowed bag, with my teeth clanking inside.

They left as suddenly as they appeared, and it was just me and the monitor with my vital numbers.  My face felt mostly dead.  With strange gaps and odd mounds of flesh I doubted were my own.  I was afraid of drooling.  I sat there for a while, watching other patients get x-rayed, and potential clients getting a tour.   Just as I was about to ask someone what I was supposed to be doing, the receptionist told  me Joe was on his way.  As the nurse escorted me out to Joe's illegally parked car, she pressed a bag of directions, a plastic syringe and a small stack of gauze into my hands.


Once at home, I experienced a small thrill. I love culinary challenges, and a liquid diet would be fun.  My dad actually pureed an entire cheese burger for my mom when she had hers out, using ketchup as the suspending liquid.  She drank it, she didn't have a choice.  I am well enough to cook for myself.

**A Liquid Diet for a Moronic, Masticationally-Challenged Mouth.**

*Ensure-Flavored Smoothy for Lactationally Inclined Mammaries.*

In your blender whirl together milk, yoghurt, ice, Ovaltine, frozen bananas, Brewer's yeast, to taste, and a teaspoon of cocoa powder.

**Said's Oriental Hoo Doo Soup**
(Useful equipment; immersion blender, large strainer, cookie sheet, 2-quart saucepan, and a larger stock pot)

Start the stock first and preheat oven to 350° F

1 packet of Chinese Herbal Soup Mix (the kind with the mysterious dried plant parts with dirty-sounding Latin names)


Leftover chicken parts
Coarsely chopped mirepoix veggies
Small dried Mexican chillies
Coarsely chopped nubbin of ginger


1 quart of water

Low simmer until  you need it.


Put the following on a cookie sheet.

A few unpeeled cloves of garlic
Coarsely chopped;
Sweet potatoes
Red bell pepper
Butternut squash
Glug of EVOO

Roast for an hour.

Strain stock into the stock pot.

Transfer roasted veg to stock pot. Peel garlic and add them, too.

Add 2 cups (or enough to create a pleasing consistency) of liquid of your choice.  Water is fine. This afternoon I used a small pot of Puehr tea.

Thoroughly blend.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Since everything was already hot, serve immediately.

Garnish with a dollup of yoghurt and a drizzle of hot sauce.

This is related to the roasted butternut squash soup I have blogged about over the years.  I got the idea originally from Bittman (I think). All I know is that I certainly didn't invent it.

this blog helped demystify the Chinese soup mix packets.  I love them because they are cheap, supposedly great for recovery, they make wonderful soup base, they are aesthetically pleasing (even though the material usually ends up in the compost, depending on which kind) and they are natural.

**Black Fog**

(Treacherous at night.)
1/2 oz
Chambourd, poured in first

1 Guinness, carefully poured on top.

Sip, even though every fiber of your sugar-loving blood will scream for you to chug.

Now that I have huge holes in the back of my mouth, and am on antibiotics, I will be abstaining. This recipe is here just for your edification and should not be construed as advice.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Ten Books that Haunt

Maybe the original prompt from Eleven was "ten books that stick with you" but since I don't seem to see any tomes actually stuck to my person, I am going to narrow it to the books that come to memory in those viking-saturated gloamings of dusk (and, less often, dawn).


Was it the Infinite Library, or the deadly labyrinths on imagined rocky coasts of an England that only existed in Argentina?  Can't say.  But it's in his collected stories.


While I am thinking about libraries, hauntings and infinity and Italians Who Owe Borges, this is the moment for Umberto.  My copy of the Name of the Rose came from a house of a smoker, so, in my mind, those sneaky monks always had a Marlboro hanging out of their lips.

Searching For Anna, by Michaele Benedict

Because neighbor.  Because friend.  Because heartbreak and parenthood can take the floor out of the firmest bedrock.

The Man Who Was Thursday by GK Chesterton

If the monochromatic ink 'n paper page of a cheapo Penguin Edition can burst with color, then...
How many eye-breaking synonyms for "red" does the English language have?
Are all anarchists ginger-haired?
Does cinnabar taste like cinnamon?
Is the Back more interesting than the Front?

Til We Have Faces by CS Lewis

Was written after CS got acquainted with an actual woman.  (it shows, marvelously, thank you, Joy).

The First 3 Installments of Stephen King's Dark Tower Series (but not the whole thing)

I haven't read a lot of King, and I liked how these books seem like he didn't really plan ahead, but just followed the long. loping strides of his imagination.  But then, his imagination got tired at book 4, and so did I.

Sea and Poison Shusako Endo

Maybe he was just following orders, but the doctor of the Sea and Poison was haunted by more of what he did than was ever done to him.

Mark Twain

Why, of all the Twain I have enjoyed, the only title I can think of is the brown, canvas copy of Christian Science that I picked up at Bell's Bookstore (in Palo Alto) as a 16 year old.  Twain is universally loved (at least here) and my copy of his Complete Works is thoroughly thumbed.  Maybe it was the smell of his his story-loving, cult-hating soul that seeped through the yellowed pages.  Or maybe its the description of his broken leg that takes up the entire first chapter.

The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
Gravity's Rainbow Thomas Pynchon

I am putting these two books together because I checked them out of the same library (the Richmond Branch), I read them in the same basement at 419 11th Ave, I was pregnant with the same person, they have similar themes (war, absurdity, magical realism), and the same barf bowl rested on the pillow next to my head.

2666 by Roberto Bolano

Another pregnancy read (maybe its the hormones that haunt), this one on the shady porch of a St Helena farmhouse.  A great spot to read about unsolved homicides, frustrated professors and shady German serial killers.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Too Tart Rhubarb Pie

I am always losing this recipe. So I'm going to post it here so I don't forget it.

Martha Stewart pie dough via Cooking for Geeks.

300 grams flour
Two cubes Butter
59 grams ice cold water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar

Grate the butter into a bowl.

Add flour, sugar and salt.


Sprinkle the water on mixture. Use hands to knead until it holds together.  Roll into two balls, wrap in plastic and put into the fridge for a half hour at least.


2 pounds rhubarb chopped
Scant cup of sugar
Third of a cup of cornstarch
1 teaspoon good quality cinnamon
Pinch of salt

Stir until all of the corn starch is dissolved.

Roll out one ball of dough put into the pie pan. Pour in the filling. Bake at 375 to 400 degrees Fahrenheit 4 about an hour.

I was originally inspired by Michael Ruhlman's Bebop a rhubarb pie recipe in his book Ratios. But it never ever quite worked for me. I usually burnt the pie and it was far too sweet.  Then I read about making pie dough in Cooking for Geeks. I grew up hating pie crusts because my mother always skimped on the butter. I didn't know what the problem was all I knew was I really hated dry, tough crusts.  This recipe actually makes enough pie crust for two pies. I usually freeze the extra dough for a later pie.  It's the entire cube of butter in the crust that makes this so delicious. If you were trying to cut back on fats I recommend just baking this filling in ramekins.  It's better to just skip the crust then to make a bad crust.  I forget how much sugar Ruhlman originally called for it in his book. 1 cup of sugar still leave the pie painfully tart but I like it that way.  Another thing that really irritates me about the original recipes is that they call for using a food processor for the pie dough. Obviously ladies have been making pie dough long before the food processor was invented.  Normally I love to buy ridiculous kitchen appliances. But for some reason I haven't gotten around to getting a food processor mostly because I don't have room for it. And I have been able to get along without it. This is not a plea for a food processor. Just make sure your butter is very cold or possibly frozen before you start grating it.

I have never seen a rhubarb plant. If somebody would ask me to describe what it is I would say its a cross between strawberry, lemons and celery. When I was young my mother's cousin Marla  would send these ridiculous boxes of things for the holidays. Most of the time we weren't sure what to do with the odd assortment of treasures and garbage. Occasionally included in the box would be a jar of her homemade rhubarb preserves. The preserves were a wonderful combination of tart and sweet and other flavors I couldn't put my finger on. She said that the rhubarb plants grow like weeds in her St Paul backyard. I imagine that Minnesota must be some sort of Garden of Eden if she considers a magical plant like rhubarb to be a weed. I just paid for $4.99 a pound for rhubarb this week. I probably wouldn't torture a rhubarb virgin with this version of pie.  Just as I have learned never to waste artichokes on artichoke-rubes.  (Twice I have had people turn their noses up at artichokes, oh the horror!) I usually get my rhubarb at the Andreotti Family Farm. Terry says she grows it right there.  So maybe there is hope that I can turn my yard into a rhubarb Garden of Eden.

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I blog about life and soup, but mostly soup.