Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Rarest Reservation: Talula's Table

Conde Nast: Portfolio "The country's hardest-to-get reservation isn't in New York or Los Angeles. Call Talula's Table, in Pennsylvania horse country, to dine in 2009." It's a great article go ahead and read it.

Ok, I am seriously not bragging. I am just trying to drive home how amazing this place is. I was there when they first opened and were not yet serving dinner. I was there when they were in Philly in their restaurant Django. Now I finally was able to see what everyone was talking about when it came to their new dinner style.

What Talula's Table (owned by married couple Brian Sikora and Aimee Olexy) does is create 2 meals a night one for a table of up to 12 and one for a table of 4, 6 days a week. The table for 12 is called "The Farmhouse Table" It is out in the main part of what during the day is their gourmet market. The table for 4 is in the inner sanctum, the kitchen, hence, The Kitchen Table. Someday I'd love to have a big party of 12 but Friday night, I was in heaven in the kitchen.

We were greeted by Aimee when we arrived as if we were coming for dinner in a friend's home. She led us back to the kitchen and our table. The four of us had half the large butcher block table that is usually used for making what you see in the market. Brian is the head chef and had a little prep area going on his end of the table and was able to talk with us between courses and also during the meal. He, Aimee and the other staff explained each course and kept up with our wine selections (that is to say, made sure nary a glass was empty). Now if you are not a foodie and you are bored with food descriptions, skip to the end (I'll start in bold so you can see it). We had eight courses and sitting to my left is the menu for the evening which I am going to transcribe here. I apologize for not getting more pics. We were so focused on the food we forgot. :(

First Course
Eastern Shore Scallop in the Shell, Scallop and Coral Emulsion and Caviar - If a gun was put to my head to pick my favorite course this might have been it. The scallops were unbelievably fresh, perfectly seared. The Coral emulsion was prepared with the coral from the scallops and the seawater they still had in the shell. It gave an unbelievable depth to the flavor. He also added fresh enoki mushrooms (the restaurant is located in the heart of the mushroom capital of the country). Any other mushroom would have over powered the flavor but the enoki was so delicate, it just added to the layers.

Second Course
Summersweet Corn and Crab Souffle, Annalees Herbs and Cherokee Tomato Syrup - We still have fresh corn here believe it or not, and you could tell in this course. I am a fan of interesting sweet corn dishes since another restaurant introduced me to all the possibilities. This was the best souffle I have ever had. I literally watched them pull it out of the oven, piping hot. The smell was your first indication that it was going to be amazing. The 'syrup' had the consistency of homemade catsup but was sweeter and richer. We took the little spoon the syrup was placed in and put it into the heart of the souffle, unleashing more of the heavenly aroma. The combination of fresh crab, corn, paprika and tomatoes was truly an incredible experience.

Third Course
Handmade Orecchiette, Birchrun Veal Meatballs, Roasted Brussel Sprouts, Blanquette, Veal Glazed Sweetbreads - Before anyone gets on my case about the veal. I already know. I would not have eaten is but it is from a local farm that does none of the inhumane things we all know happen to baby cows. I am not promoting veal. I am glad to say that the owners of this establishment pride themselves on using organic and humanely harvested meats and produce. We spoke extensively about it at our meal. So, this dish I actually have a picture of as well. Anyway, the meatballs were presented on the plate along with the tiniest and most tasty brussel sprouts you have ever had in your life. Their flavor coupled with the veal and sweet breads (not going into that either, bring on the mad cow) were an inspired choice. Also included were Parmesan crisps that did something wonderful to the veal sauce that accompanied the meat. An interesting addition was the handmade orecchette. This was the perfect pasta to add to this dish. They had a heft somewhere between gnocchi and shells but had more flavor than I have ever tasted in any pasta. It was a good thing there were only a few to the plate because that was all that was needed.

Fourth Course
Alaskan Halibut, Our Chard, Pomme de Terre, Braised Smoked Bacon and Sherry Red Pepper Essence - I am ruined for halibut. I don't think I can have it anywhere else. The texture was perfect and it was the perfect vehicle for the pomme de terre and the red pepper. Now that I am doing a CSA I am looking forward to the chard I am sure to get as long as I can cook it the way they did. It had the familiar texture of spinach but more so if that makes sense. The bacon was this tiny piece but because of the braising and smoking process the flavor that it lended the dish floated over all the parts, enhancing the whole experience rather than taking over.

Fifth Course Tender Guinea Hen, Dr. Martin Lima Bean Terrine, Natural Hen Sauce - This was the first time I had the experience of having anything cooked sous vide (the practice of cooking food at low temperatures in vacuum-packed plastic bags). I had read about it but had not come across it. Now, I want to learn it. It imparted a flavor and a tenderness that you can get nowhere else. The natural hen sauce was essentially drippings from a roasted hen. The Terrine was like nothing I'd had before. Ham and diced lima beans absolutely wonderful. The 'Doc Martin' limas were local and now I need to find them. I hated lima beans as kid (the kind from cans). My association is much different now.

Sixth Course
Chester County Lamb Finished Three Ways and Vegetables Provencal - Lamb is one of my favorite things. I wrote a post about being torn about seeing their cute fuzzy faces on a daily basis and imagining them with rosemary and lemon. This blew me away. The three ways were, tenderloin, rolled shank and (you must pardon me, I had several glasses of wine and although in my memory I can still taste the third way, I cannot remember the name. Feel free to snap my butt with a wet napkin). The vegetables were presented inside a cup made from the end of a zucchini. Again, these were local sheep, grass finished. There is a difference.
Seventh Course
Little Stinkers, Fig Toast, Apple Fennel Jam and Goldenrod Honey - Again, presented with much wine I cannot remember the names of the cheeses. I have an email out to the owners to find out. If you are interested, email me. What I can tell you is that they were all deliciously smelly and paired with the items you see above. I loved each and every one.

Eighth Course
Chocolate Torte, Cashew butter, Roasted Apricots, Coulis and Salted Cashews - Now I have mentioned before on this blog that I do not believe in chocolate and fruit together. I make one exception, the roasted apricot coulis that accompanied this tort. It truly added a wonderful flavor to the dish. The cashew butter was actually more of a brittle and was in the middle of the torte. It was perfect for this though because it broke as soon as your fork hit that layer, allowing you to get all the layers in one bite without ruining the layers that were left.

We had coffee and they brought out truffles for us as well. Along with the check, they gave each of us pretzel bread. This was truly an amazing evening. Although I mentioned at the top that I look forward to someday sitting at The Farmhouse Table, I am torn. With my love of cooking and chefs (and Brian was not hard to look at, let me tell you) being in the kitchen and being able to chat with them about the food we were eating and their position on the local food movement and raising a family in the restaurant business was truly part of what made that meal so memorable. We left, full, happy and feeling like we'd had a meal at a friend's home...an uber professional chef-friend's home but their home none the less.

Monday, September 29, 2008

I Get It Now Don Henley

I should have stayed home. I'd like to thank the idiots (mostly Republicans) who tanked the bill today.

The bailout was needed by people like me, my friends and family, the middle class who have been responsibly investing for our retirement and childrens' education. We all know that Social Security will be gone by the time we would get it. We were saving for ourselves, not depending on the government.

The rich are still going to get richer, no matter what. People like me, still getting screwed.

Don Henley is my Co-Pilot

I literally saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac

this morning on my way into work.

What can this mean?!

I will post about the dinner from Friday later today.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Crackberry Friday: Pepperidge Farm Remembers

Update at bottom
Can you name all the cookies in this box? I can. this was like the ULTIMATE in cookie bliss when I was growing up (ok, honestly, it's pretty good now too). We got this from a neighbor and let me tell you, I don't care what anyone says, if you like butter cookies, you squeal with delight when someone gives you one of these ('cause you know you can't buy them for JUST yourself the box tells you they are for Entertaining). Milanos, Brussels and Pirouettes OH MY!
When we were little we hardly ever saw these in our house. Mom and Dad were pretty tight with their money (ok with 2 kids 18 months apart and in private school they were actually smart with their money unlike me) and we only saw these as a really special treat or if we found Mom's stash. ;) Milanos were my favorite but as time went on and I was able to get these myself I broke out into the Chessmen and the Brussels and that other thin one made with brown sugar. Now I only avoid the ones with chocolate and fruit (ICK!).
I generally don't buy them unless I am in a funk and only cookies and tea will solve it. Last night when I saw these in the house I was like a little kid again. I finished ALL my dinner, put my jammies on and had some cookies and tea and let the waves of comfort wash over me. It was wonderful.
Aside: This is why I write. I can find something like having cookies and tea in my jammies , write about it and the good feelings just wash over me again. :)

Update: SOMEONE with the first initial P left the door to the kitchen open yesterday while we were at work and G-Dog ate ALL the cookies that were left in the box.  She feels much better after puking on my mom's bedroom carpet.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Writers Workshop Thursday: If I Could Take Tomorrow Off

If I could take tomorrow off work I'd start my book. No, not one of the ones on my nightstand, the book I want to write.
I think many bloggers can relate to this thought. For now, many of if have these snippets of time that we use to read other peoples blogs or develop of post of out own. Most of us (I am not saying all because I know there are those of you that are already accomplished writers although I am pretty sure none of you read my blog because of run on sentences like this one not to mention in parenthesis) have this ambition to write something more. Blogging becomes an addiction because we are all writers deep down inside and there is so much we want to say.

No, I am not going to tell you my idea. I have the characters in my head and I am just not sure where to start. Since I have the day off tomorrow though (hypothetically) I can start planning now. First, I need to get my home computer working again. Must swipe surge protector from P. Then I am going to need index cards, no a moleskein book...wait if I have a computer why am I writing things down. I guess I don't need to sharpen those pencils either.

No, I do need a legal pad and pencils, the kind you sharpen, not mechanical, that's cheating. Coffee! I need that too. I also need good music. Ok after that I should be set to start writing. First thing to do, make an outline. I think. That sounds like a good way to go. Wait...is that the dog in the garbage?


Ok, where was I , oh outline. Yes, characters, setting, theme etc.. I need more coffee. Oh wait it's lunchtime, I should probably eat to keep the brain moving. Nothing in the house b/c I am trying to cut back on eating crap. I guess I need to go out. Whole Foods here I come.

$100 later, unpacking groceries and need to heat up food. Take upstairs to computer and check email, blog and Facebook. Make sure to tell friends I am not accessable because I am writing you know. Ok, look at outline and notice oil stain from olives. Oops. Moving along, characters, rename so no one thinks you mean THEM in the book. Maybe later you can just use the "Replace All" feature in Word to avoid that. Maybe write that down to remember. Ok, do I start writing now?


Oh jeez I need to start prepping dinner. Go to kitchen and pullout veggies to chop and chicken to marinate. Put all back in fridge. oooo! Wine! That would help me write. Pour glass go back upstairs and start writing about the...oh wait...I can't tell you that. I am out of wine, good thing I brought up the bottle.


Go downstairs, greet husband at the door (not falling down stairs from wine consumption) and tell him how much writing I did today. Then make dinner and fall asleep from wine.

That is what I would do if I had the day off tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mouth on Lockdown

Ok maybe that's a bit drastic but considering the trouble I had with my pants this morning,I'd say it's warranted.

I lost a little over 30 pounds a couple years ago. I did WW on-line and it worked great for me. I was on track for a very long time but the past 6-8 months...not so much. So, after my food p.o.r.n dinner on Friday, I am going back to WW.

Trouble is, last time I was helped with Lean Cuisine for lunches. Lean Cuisine is not exactly local or organic. I need to learn to cook healthier and with less fat (butter is my frenemy). I need to use less of a heavy hand with my olive oil pour and...since I am being honest...the ice cream must go. Ice cream has become more of a habit than anything. I am blaming summer on that last one.

I also need to exercise more. My morning doggie walks and weekly football are just not cutting it. Yoga helps tremendously but cannot cancel out ice cream, ya know? I actually felt my plantar fac... whatever....acting up. I think this was the final straw that convinced me I needed to make some changes...again. ;)

So I promise not to bore you with success stories. I may try to make you laugh at failures though so bear with me. Also, P will now have to eat the same things I do so he may be begging for food at your door. Don't feed him, he won't go away...trust me on this one.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Monday, September 22, 2008

Feeling a Little...

...helpless today. This is a little deep. It kinda sprung up out of nowhere so I promise to write more fun things later but for today, I think I needed to get this out.

I logged onto Comcast to check my email and there was an ad on the right the almost made me cry. It was from the WSPA (World Society for Protection of Animals) and there was a small bear that was being used in bear baiting. Bear baiting has been around for hundreds of years. Years ago, a bear was brought down by dogs for sport inside a ring. If that wasn't bad enough, now in countries like Pakistan (where is it actually illegal) they remove the bear's teeth as a cub and then let the dogs rip him to shreds. If the bear is not fighting then they secure him with a chain through his nostrils. The bear has no defense. It never actually lives, it's body won't let it give up.

Now, I realize that with the homeless crisis in the US, children in China basically poisoned by their milk and the countless amount of people that have been affected by war that this might not seem very important. To me though, it was a symbol of just how bad things are when it comes to humanity. What are we doing to each other? We are supposed to have this higher knowledge and the will to rise above base lower animal instincts. In reality, the animals that we are supposedly above, are better than we are.

I think this is why so many people latch onto this platform. It is pretty easy to love an animal that supposedly isn't as smart as humans are. It's easy to point fingers at others who are torturing creatures that don't have a voice. It is much harder to love and embrace a person who's culture is very different from our own but who still are tortured and killed for sport. That's what most wars and battles are about, sport. Who won, who lost, what the winners got to take from the losers. The 'smart' people who direct these wars of sport are the only winners. The people who battle are not the winners. They come away, scarred, mentally and physically. The people who direct the wars, from the sidelines, from offices or even caves in the middle of nowhere, they are the winners and collect the spoils. They are the ones removing the teeth of that little cub so when it gets older they can watch it killed in their own sport of war.

This has nothing to do with religion, nothing to do with today's politics. It has to do with what we are deep down inside ourselves. We are human and with that comes responsibilities that are not governed by which God we believe in or which party we vote, but in the fact that we are plainly human beings. That DOES (or did ) mean something. What it means, fails me at this point and time. Which is why I feel helpless today.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Football Week 2

Pffft. I am not talking about those paid guys on tv. I am talking about me. :P

We won. We played a team that wasn't very good. Very new to the league. They practiced after the game. We drank beer and laughed and kinda felt bad. We tried to explain that they really didn't need to do that. Practice for a rec league game doesn't create victories, many, many years of league play creates victories. They didn't believe us so next week they will get their butts handed to them again.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

It's A Good Thing...Sucking Up

Dear Martha,

I am shamelessly using the same way of adding a link to your blog on my site as Scary Mommy. I know that I should be more creative and figure out a better way to totally suck up for a chance to be featured on your blog.


You see most of my time outside of my day job is taken up with making my home as comfy and welcoming as possible. The problem I run into is that I have this man who lives with me that thwarts my every move. I clean and create a warm homey kitchen and he leaves Oktoberfest beer bottles on the counter or decideds it's too much effort to put dishes in the dishwasher. He also randomly decides to paint at the worst possible times.


I am blogging at work right now (if my bosses see this, it's 4:05pm...on a Friday) because husband also has disabled the home computer because of various issuse. I have a limited amount of time to get this post out so the creativity is not only flowing, apparently there is some ADD with my writing.

Anyway, if you could check out my blog you would see that I love to cook and bake, I am all about the local harvest and I have a love for all homey. :) Thank you for your consideration.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Crackberry Friday: Birthday Gift from P

I apologize for the blurriness of the image but my Crackberry skillz were lacking today. I tried like a dozen times to get the right lighting.
This necklace was P's birthday present to me. I picked it out at klacustomcreations on Etsy. Kristen is also a fellow bloggy friend at La Dolce Vita and I love her jewelry. I also asked her to create a piece with my blog name and I'll post that as well.
The thing I love about this necklace is it is exactly my style, a little funky, a little preppy. I have been wearing it non-stop since I got it in the mail. I was SOOO excited when I got home and it was waiting for me. :) You know what else is cool? If you have an Amazon wish list, they now have a button you can add to your links bar and you can add anything from any store or site to your wish list. It is so easy (unless you are P) and I love the fact that using it helps support independent creative people. :)
Kristen has many different quotes and little charms that can be added to your piece. She also supports some great organizations with donations from her pieces of her artwork. They all make wonderful gifts too. Please take a gander at her Etsy store.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Writers Workshop Thursday: Describe a Childhood Birthday.

I am lucky. I have a birthday in September and unless there is some sort of freaky weather going on, it is usually one of those beautiful late summer/early fall days.

When I was little, I loved to make things with clay. Not just play-doh or modeling clay but the kind that would harden and you would keep for ever and ever. I knew how to make pinch pots, animals, ash trays and an assortment of other decorative items that would not hold water. My Mom decided to run with this for my 7th birthday. She rented a movie projector and a film about making pottery. We all watched and learned and then longed for a potters wheel of our own. After the movie we all trooped outside to the picnic table where big shirts were waiting for everyone to put on and also...big blocks of clay. We shaped and molded and tried to apply what we learned in the movie to our masterpieces. One of my best friends kept laughing and declaring the clay 'gross' but she was having a fabulous time. When we were done, we washed up and headed inside for cake and presents.

I will never forget this birthday because it was original and fun and creative...all the things a 7 year-olds party should be.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

My bookclub is meeting to discuss this book tonight. It was a life changer for me. You've read my blog as I talked about going local and this book just spurred me on.

Barbara Kingsolver wrote this book as her family attempted live for one year from local products. They made a few exceptions; coffee, olive oil, pasta and flour but other than that all their meals were made from food raised on their small farm, local farmers markets and local purveyors.

I loved everything about this book and what it taught me. Above all I appreciated that it was not preachy. This family is like any other family. They aren't hippies living in hemp made clothing and casting disparaging remarks about other people. Before the book was written they tried to do things 'green' and ate mostly organic food and did not eat meat from CAFO's (concentrated animal feeding operations). We had a lot in common and honestly, we still have about the same things in common.

This book changed the way I think about how and where our food comes from but...it did not make run out and dig up my yard for a big old garden. It just isn't practical for us. I did however get all my produce with few exceptions from local farm stands and farm markets. I didn't go out and buy a hybrid car, we still have payments left on my Pilot (which I love) but I did think about how far I was driving to get my food and making sure I was being efficient with my gas consumption. I didn't buy chickens and turkeys and build a hen house but I did seek out local farms that could provide poultry and eggs. I already bought organic milk but again, I tried to look for more local brands.

So far I have found that what I am consuming is so much better than what I was eating before. All the summer produce has been delicious. The local meats, pasture raised, have been far and above the quality that I was getting just picking them up at the grocery store. I am excited about seasonal eating. I'll miss the tomatoes when they are all gone but I am looking forward to making soups and stews with the fall and early winter veggies. Also, I have a stash of frozen green beans, corn, pesto and tomato sauce in case I have a craving.

Tonight, in the spirit of the book, we are having a potluck dinner at my home. I am making roast chicken, green beans and potatoes...all local. I am also providing cheese from local dairies and apples as an HDO. My fellow bookclub members are bringing the rest.

I highly encourage you to check out this book.

Monday, September 15, 2008

36 + 1 day = Wonderful Monday!

Except for a certain doggie being a bit of a pain in the rear this AM.... ahem

Yea! My b-day was so nice! I woke up, had coffee and blogged while listening to jazz (yes, jazz, I like it on Sunday mornings and when I cook). Then I headed out to get a mani/pedi (pedi looks great, mani, not the best I ever had so you only get this pic
will avoid that nail tech in the future) and to Barnes and Noble as I received a gift card from my aunt.

Here is what I got:

Dinner was WONDERFUL! We had a nice time and the food was great. For apps we had gnocchi (to die for) and calamari. I had seared tuna with wasabi mashed potatoes and snap peas. I normally would not go for fish on a Sunday but they didn't have info on where the steak came from exactly so I went for the fish and was not disappointed. For dessert, I split a Bananas Foster with my Mom. I also FINALLY had a pom martini.
We went back to my Mom's and I opened their gifts. Mom got me a fall decoration that I saw when we were at the Cape this year and a replacement of a seagull ceramic object that P broke at some point during one of our moves. I'll take a pic of the decoration b/c my fellow nesters will LOVE it! T got me a book about cheese (YUM), asiago crackers and cocktail napkins. My sister remembered that I complained about taking G-dog out when the grass was wet out back so she sent me these:

I have wanted them for some time.

All in all, a wonderful birthday thanks to my wonderful family.

Also a BIG GIANT THANK YOU to all who wished me a happy day. I could feel the well wishes across the blogosphere. :)

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Today I am 36!

It is my birthday today. :) I know, I don't look a day over 35. We are going to dinner tonight with my Mom and brother, T. I am looking forward to it. However, we are also celebrating at another restaurant with friends on the 26th at Talula's Table. Google it...seriously. There will be a X.X.X rated food p.o.r.n post after that dinner.

My birthday does not bother me. Turning another year older, heck we all do it. Not a big deal. You know what IS a big deal? Being in another demographic. You know those surveys that ask what your age range is? Yeah, I am in the next bracket now. That is a little disconcerting. Next I'll be getting AARP newsletters (no offense to those of you that do but I am SURE the first one was a shock to you). I don't feel old. I play football, I watch Sponge Bob (I have to post on this soon), I mean that has to mean something, right?

Maybe not.

My Dad watched Looney Toons pretty much up until he passed away (57). I think he would have enjoyed Sponge Bob. My Mom is like a teenager dating again (61). Maybe I inherited my young at heart qualities from them.

Sometimes, I think you have to work at being young at heart too though. Remember as a kid sneaking on to golf courses to meet up with friends and do generally teen things? Well we live next to one. I don't call the cops on the kids but part of me thinks I should. The part that thinks I should worries about them. The part that doesn't want to call the cops, wants them to enjoy their fun in a wide open space. Does that make sense? Then there are the times that when you do make that choice to be young at heart and it feels amazing. The simplest thing can bring you so much joy; swinging on a park swing as high as you can, dancing around your room to a favorite song, jumping in puddles, running in the rain. Maybe that's part of what getting older means, you have more choices about how you keep yourself young and learning new ones just makes your life so much fuller.

Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me, happy biiiiirthday dear Scargosun....
Happy birthday to me.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Fall PSSC Football 2008 Week One

Yes, I did say I wasn't going to play. I was retiring, etc. Yes, I am playing. I reserve the right to change my mind. :)

I had a great game today. I was rushing (5 sec count) and I blocked two passes and ran the qb around a good deal forcing bad throws. I also caught an extra point (we do 1 and 2 points, 10 and 20 yards out respectively instead). We ended up tying, we should have won though. We were playing a team that was as old as us. :)

This is my 9th fall season in this league. It is a little hard to believe. When I first started, I was playing for 5 teams and I would be out there all day, drinking and grilling out and playing. Then heading to the sponsor bar, more drinking, then going home, showering and going out. I think about it now and all I want to do is take a big nap. How the heck did I do that every weekend?! I guess I am being a little sentimental on account of what tomorrow is. Do you know? I won't tell. :)

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I am not sure if I will even post this. It might be kinda boring to others but I needed to write about it while it was fresh in my mind.

Something very powerful happened to me today (9/11/08). I wrote a post about how I was very confused and how I needed to think about why. As I was driving home at lunchtime, I listened to Pierre Robert on WMMR our local rock station here in Philly. He was doing a tribute today of course. He played many first hand accounts and many of the songs and remixed songs that came out after 9/11. The all gave me goose bumps and took me back to 7 years ago today. It was then that I remembered something. Something powerful that happend to me about 12 hours before the plans struck.

I had a preminition. I know, you are saying that it is easy to tie that together now or even the day after but how do you know? If you had been me, at that time, at that moment, you would know. The night before 9/11/2001, P and I were at his place in bed...yes...in bed. All of a sudden, this horrible wave of emotion washed over me. It was evil, pure evil, I shuddered and yelled 'Stop!' I still don't know if I was telling P to stop or whatever I was feeling. We did stop and I sat up and put my head in my hands and cried. My intuition has always been good and I've dreamed of things before they've happened but I never felt like that before. I was terrified but it didn't last. The next day, the planes struck. One of the first things P said was, "Last night, what happend to you..." I didn't let him finish or talk about it.

After that, through the days of TV watching and learning more about what happened. I pushed away any thought of what I may have experienced. Today, I finally realized something...that is when I started blocking things out; emotions, disturbing thoughts, anything that might make me feel. I also stopped having that intuition. Over the next 2 yearsI got married, my father passed away and so many things happened good and bad and I don't think I ever got to experience them fully because of how I felt on 9/10 and 9/11.

In 2005, my mind, body and soul couldn't take it anymore and it broke down. At the time, I only attributed it to my fater's death and the fact that I really didn't mourn as much as I needed to (and also a crazy alcoholic boss). I didn't stop to think why the emotions were not getting in. All I knew was I was so lost, I couldn't even function.

Since 2005, I have been medicated (all praize Prozac!) and it has done me a world of good. I needed it. Recently I stopped taking it for a couple reasons, one of them good, one not. Later I'll get into it. I started to think about the emotions that I didn't have anymore and the intuition that I used to count on. I missed them. So I started to think about them more and more. Today (9/11/08) it just clicked. They stopped or eventually ground to a halt 7 years ago.

What do I do now? Well, I have this urge to meditate on it (but I am at work). I also don't want to loose this feeling of introspection. I smiled today, with my whole being. I also cried. It felt good! I never thought that I was affected this way by the events 7 years ago. I was definitely affected but I didn't know how badly. It has taken me a long time to get to this thought process. Now I just have to keep my mind open instead of closing it off to things that 'might' hurt because I miss the good stuff that way too.

What Will You Do Today?

Isn't is scary where we were 7 years ago and where we are today? This is not about politics or oil or war. It's about where we are mentally and emotionally. Today, as I was driving to work and the radio station took a moment of silence. I felt the tears well up but I would not let them fall. Why is that? Was I worried about ruining my make-up? No, I don't wear much of it. Was I worried about coming in with red, puffy eyes? No, I could careless. Why was it I couldn't cry? Why did I feel the need to hold back? It wasn't that I didn't feel emotional about the day. Then it finally hit me, I was confused; confused about how I was supposed to feel.

Today, after the work day is done, I am going to sit and think about what made me confused and why. I will also remember all the people who have given their lives for our country from 9/11 to the present. I will mentally thank each and every one.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Trials of Life...In My Front Yard

I so wish I had a good pic for you but it was dark this morning and the Crackberry just was not cutting it. I think this may have been what I saw (I had a pic here but the site decided I could not use it eventhough it was probably the most traffic they'd in ages) but it seemed larger to me. I may have to keep looking. The other possibility was a juvenile bald eagle.

So, I am getting ready to leave this morning when I happen to look out the front window of the house. Through the sheers, it looked like a large-ish bag or medium sized dog was in the front yard. I went to the window for a closer look. There was HUGE bird sitting next to the oak tree in the yard and a squirrel seemed to be yelling at him. At first, I thought that it was injured, because it was just standing/sitting there. Then...I saw it. He/She had a smaller squirrel in it's talons (yes talons, I am telling you this thing was big). The my heart hurt a little because the squirrel was probably a young one and the squirrel in the tree was upset at the killing of possibly it's kin (I really don't know if squirrels rally around another that falls victim to a predator, I am just describing what I saw).

Anyway, after about a couple minutes, it flew off to another tree to have it's meal. I know, it's nature and all and I am an omnivore and it shouldn't bother me but it did but I also loved the majesty of the bird. It actually scared me a little with it's glare and ability to take down it's own food not to mention that it was the size of a small to medium dog. I do remember a large bird hanging out in the trees at the end of our street and many birds to return to the same areas so maybe it is the same one that I have seen in the past. This also may be the reason that the rabbits have not been hanging around as much.

Monday, September 8, 2008

You Thought I Was Kidding: Tomato Sauce (From Tomatoes)

If you have been reading for a bit, you know I have been dabbling in the 'going local' way of life (ok, yes, my friends look at me funny now when I talk about the awesome farmers market I just discovered). So, I decided that before I buy another can of crushed tomatoes that I would try to make my own sauce from actual fresh tomatoes. My intention was to make then freeze the sauce for pasta and pizza.

I have been looking for a good tomato sauce recipe for awhile now. I'd been toying with making it since I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle . Most of the ones I came across started with canned tomatoes. Don't get me wrong, I do love canned tomatoes ever since I started making my own sauce and eschewed (SAT word!) the canned/bottled pasta sauce (it's seriously better, no joke). Like a deliverance from a higher power (like Mario Batali), Real Simple had one for making a large amount of sauce in this month's issue. It seemed pretty easy and I decided to use it...silly, silly girl.

This pic is between 25 and 30 lbs of tomatoes. I know, doesn;t look like it. This is what was required for about 8 quarts of sauce according to the RS recipe. I had too, blanch, cool in ice water, peal, core and de-seed all of these before I could even start cooking the sauce; not to mention pealing and crushing 2 heads of garlic and dicing 4 onions. The blanching, cooling, pealing, coring and de-seeding was f-ing tedious but I got it done.

Oh! I also bought a brand new pot to make 1/2 the sauce in b/c you needed 2 at least 9qt pots to do it. Ikea, $34.95, love it (yeah, I know, not so local, you wanna to direct me to a pot maker in PA?). The other pot on the back of the stove is my Multi-Pot. No house should be without one (good for steaming, blanching and all things requiring a stock pot).

Anyway, after what seemed like forever, I finally got the sauce going. It took ages for it to cook down and thicken. When if finally did, I did not get 8 quarts...I only got 4! I was not happy. I spent all evening on this thinking that I would have at least 8 dinners out of this sauce. I ended up with 4.
I began to second guess myself. Had I miscalculated? Had I let it cook down too much? Where did I go wrong!? Then I realized, "Hey, you just cooked tomato sauce from scratch. That is not too shabby no matter how much it is. You did it. You TRIED it

Now, looking at the cost, $10 for the tomatoes (I hit the bruised and overripe section at the farm stand as advised by those in the know), $3 for onions, $1.50 for the garlic, the 4 quarts ended up costing me less than $4 per quart BUT the labor cost was significant to me. I was hot, tired and frustrated the whole time, not to mention the 30 minutes I spent digging through the dollar section at the farm stand looking for tomatoes that would pass good enough for sauce. I really thought that this was going to be a great experience, that I would come away with an appreciation of people that make this on a daily basis. I didn't. The sauce ended up being more like a pizza sauce but not one I'd like on pasta. That's going to be a good deal of pizza (yes, I am going to try that too).
Anyway, would I do it again? Not in that quantity. I might do a smaller amount for one meal or double it and freeze half but never 30 lbs of tomatoes again. I think that if I want tomato sauce on my pasta, other than in the summer, I'll be getting organic canned tomatoes to make it. I'll save the fresh tomatoes of summer for slicing, salting and eating raw.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Pesto Recipe

1 clove garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup walnuts
2 cups loosely packed fresh basil
1/4-1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (fresh grated is SOO much better)*

Add garlic, pine nuts and walnuts to blender or food processor (I use my mini-chopper) and chop until nuts are chopped (yeah, I know, useful). Add basil and pulse. If your processor/chopper/blender has a lid you can pour through or remove during the chopping, add oil gradually. Most fp's or choppers have tiny holes in the top to accomplish this.

*If you are not freezing the pesto, add parm and then chop/blend until the ingredients are well blended. If you are freezing the pesto, leave the cheese out and add it when you make your pasta. I have read conflicting reports about freezing cheese. I figure, why take a chance. I like cheese too much. I add it later (that way I can add more too).

When I first started making pesto, the recipes I found had too much olive oil for me. Add more if you want your pesto a bit smoother. It's all a matter of taste. You can't go wrong with it. You can also omit the nuts if you have allergies in your family but you might need to cut the oil a bit more. Also, if the 100% basil mixture it too much, swap in some spinach. It is excellent that way as well!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

I've Been Converted...

DARN YOU bloggy friends that kept writing about Twilight! I just finished it and now I am scared to read anymore because I don't think I could take it emotionally if they don't end up together. No, I don't know one way or another but I am still scared. BUT I also know that if I don't get the next one I will die. I actually feel addicted.

The emotions that book envokes are amazing. I actually feel sorry for teens reading it because it has to be worse for them being at the age of bubbling desire.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Crackberry Friday: Pesto Mania

Two pots of basil
16 batches of pesto for the fall/winter
I've been wanting to do this for awhile now and I finally got it done. I have heavenly pesto from plants from this summer now safely in the freezer. Next, tomato sauce!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ohhh Ho Ho! Now You've Done It!

This evening while flipping through channels trying to avoid the Republican National Convention, I ended up pausing on the Comcast channel covering said convention. I just so happened to hear some nasty remarks about...


Supposedly we are unprofessional and have no journalistic integrity. We are blamed for the disparaging rumors about Sarah Palin. This woman commenting during a montage of the camera sweeping over the convention as the Republicans dance to "Celebration' (ok, what f-ing decade is this and the number of people doing the 'white man's overbite' dance was SCARY) basically said we have no right to write about what we do. I really wish I could tell you who she was but I was so sick of listening to the drivel that I had to change the channel. It's now 10pm and I am so angry I can't sleep. If I do find out who it was, I will pass it on to you.

This is the party that could possibly be in charge for another 4 years? How is this possible? Obviously this person thinks that a select group of people should be sanctioned to report the news...

...oh wait, isn't that just like


I am not only angry now, I am scared.

Oh, my new battle cry...

Sarah dear, I will leave your 'family values' and family alone in my personal opinions as soon as you decide to leave my personal body alone and out of your politics!

BTW, if you really believe that God spoke to 'our leaders' and told them to invade Iraq because it's God's will and that we are doing God's will by staying there and also drilling in the Alaskan Preserve (huh?)...you might want to check your meds. You might also want to consult our Constitution and the stuff about the separation of church and state. It was a good idea then, and it still is. Thomas Jefferson is rolling over in his grave right now. I don't even think that my Dad would vote for them now, and he was a tad prejudiced (my Dad, I am allowed to say it).

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Writes Workshop Wednesday: Letter to Me at 10 Years Old

Dear Jenni,

Right now, you are starting to feel the effects of learning from the world around you as opposed to the school-like way of learning from books. Here's a tip to make it easier, read the stuff you are interested in and then apply it to what you are doing in school! I know, fractions are really hard but think about how it applies to the number of M&M's in a bag or how full your bowl of ice cream is. Trust me. You will be so happy with this later.

I know you desperately want the nuns and teachers to like you as much as they like L. It seems like because she learns differently than you, they like her better. She's not better than you, just different. You need to learn how to be friends with your sister because later in life you will regret fighting with her for so many years and will wonder what it would have been like to have that close friendship you missed out on. I know she is mean but just try.

Treasure the time you have with Mom and Dad. They love you like no one else and will do everything within their power to make you happy. Spend time with them. Find out about their childhoods and what it was like for them growing up. Do the same for Ada next door and any of Mom's elderly friends. These people have so much wonderful things to share with you.

You are beautiful, always. Don't try to do things to get people to like you. This is important now and as you get older. I can't go into specifics now but turning yourself inside out to make yourself something you are not will hurt later.

I really don't know how to end this letter. Just know I love you little person and I hope to love the person you will become.

The Girls

Tonight a miracle might happen....

All 7 of us local girls may be able to make it to the same restaurant! This is a big deal seeing as there are 9 of us, 2 live out of state and all of the local girls ('cept me) have children, 2 have one each on the way.

"The Girls," have been raising hell since our high school days. We have been together ever since. Some of us went away to school, some stayed, some came back. It has never mattered we've always been in touch one way or another. A few interesting stats:

14 kids

2 on the way

All but 2 of us married with in 2 years of each other

We are all very different people and that is something I love about our group. We all have different political positions, religions and family histories but we all seem to come together under the heading, 'friends'. I am not saying we've not had our dissagreements and misunderstandings but for almost 20 years we have all been together. While many friendships last that long, a group of nine, seems remarkable to me in a time where life moves so fast.

Monday, September 1, 2008

New Superhero Needs a Name

My alter-ego needs a name. Can you help?

Today I woke up with all my allergy symptoms in full swing. I was miserable and all I wanted to do was sleep some more.

Dun, dun, dun. Nemesis P invites friends over for a bbq (cool) BUT also has the contractor come to finish up work in the bedroom (not cool). I have 3 hours to get food, clean up after contractor, get rid of allergy symptoms and shower.

*blinding flash of (oven) light* It's ___________ whipper up-er of home for entertaining purposes! Able to create a relaxing event for family and friends at the drop of a hat even with her nemesis trying to thwart her at every turn.

That would be my alter ego. Fill in the blank. k?

I ran to Maple Acres and picked up beef patties (pasture raised thank you very much), tomatoes (searched long and hard for pretty ones), red potatoes (hey where is my potato salad recipe?) and corn. Headed to the g-store for sausages, rolls, potato salad fixins and snax. Ran home, boiled water, blanched green beans for hdo's, boiled potatoes, mixed potato salad dressing while spuds boiled. I then cleaned up bathroom, took a shower and then prepped rest of stuff.

Friends came over with their ADORABLE eat him up with a spoon boy, sweet Italian Greyhound, yummy wild rice salad and bottle of wine (much praise for the wine too). We sat on the grass, drank wine, nibbled food and relaxed.

Dun, dun, dun. Nemesis P whines that the patties are too frozen to break apart. Cue my sidekick of the day, hot water over freezer bag with patties inside to the rescue! Whining subdued.

Yummy dinner, good times with friends and a gorgeous evening. All thanks to ___________.
Me again, help me with a name.

Oh yeah, we didn't have the corn because awesome friends brought yummy salad. So ________ then blanched de-cobbed and froze said corn for winter goodness. My alter ego is also learning the ways of the domestic goddess.