Thursday, January 28, 2010

JD Salinger

JD Salinger passed this morning at the age of 91.  Salinger, one critic put it best, "he was in this world, but not of it."


I read my first JD Salinger book in high school. The Catcher in the Rye is the first book I ever stayed up all to read, laughed out loud and cried. My favorite teacher gave me Franny and Zoe as a gift which I ate up as well.

I suggest reading Salinger's obit at the new york times and add The Catcher in the Rye to your re-read list.


here are some  favorite salinger quotes:

That's the thing about girls. Every time they do something pretty, even if they're not much to look at, or even if they're sort of stupid, you fall half in love with them, and then you never know where the hell you are. Girls. Jesus Christ. They can drive you crazy. They really can.
 - holden caulfield

Boy, when you're dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you're dead? Nobody. -holden caulfield

I have a feeling that you're riding for some kind of a terrible, terrible fall. But I don't honestly know what kind.... It may be the kind where, at the age of thirty, you sit in some bar hating everybody who comes in looking as if he might have played football in college. Then again, you may pick up just enough education to hate people who say, "It's a secret between he and I." Or you may end up in some business office, throwing paper clips at the nearest stenographer. I just don't know. - mr. antolini

The true poet has no choice of material.  The material plainly chooses him, not he it. - from Seymour: an Introduction 

If a girl looks swell when she meets you, who gives a damn if she's late? Nobody.- holden caulfield

i was sixteen then, and i'm seventeen now, and sometimes i act like i'm about thirteen. it's really ironical, because i'm six foot two and a half and i have gray hair. i really do. the one side of my head-the right side-is full of millions of gray hairs. i've had them ever since i was a kid. and yet i still act sometimes like i was only about twelve. everybody says that, especially my father. it's partly true, too, but it isnt all true. people always think something's all true. i dont give a damn, except that i get bored sometimes when people tell me to act my age. sometimes i act a lot older than i am-i really do-but people never notice it. people never notice anything. - holden caulfield

it was nice, though, when we got out of the dining room. there were about three inches of snow on the ground, and it was still coming down like a madman. it looked pretty as hell, and we all started throwing snowballs and horsing around all over the place. it was very childish, but everybody was really enjoying themselves. - holden caulfield

Monday, January 25, 2010

Granola





Another week  is before us and it is already shaping up to be a good  and full week. After spending the weekend with friends, eating and drinking, my Monday seems to be a bit foggy and I am in desprate need of a second cup of coffee and some super food.



























I adapted a granola recipe from Lottie + Doof and created a hearty, flavorful breakfast treat that my friend called "peacan pie" while others have said that I should sell it. I think I have hit the granola jackpot and I am so excited to share. I suggest, as with most of the recipes that I like to share, use this as a base and expand off of it. This recipe is a good cornerstone, but please use your imagination and create the perfect mix for yourself.

We are so fortinuate to have a freezer full of fresh pecans thanks to the lovely folks in Texas. Growing up in Washington, pecans were never on the menu, now having family in Texas means that I will never run out of pecans to pull from the freezer. I think that it is very important to include a healthy amount of protien for breakfast and the fats found in peacans are one of the ultimate powerfoods. So I don't minds being a bit heavy handed when adding nuts and if you were like me for many years, a combination of almonds and pecans would be just as tasty and healthy in this recipe.


J's good friend lives in Mass. and now I feel even more blessed to know that I will never run out of fresh maple syrup. Well, I should say that If I make this granola for him in exchange for syrup, I will forever be rich with gallons maple goodness. I have tried over the years to create a granola that tasted good, had all the right ingredients, was fresh and didn't require me to pay upwards of $9.99 a pound for it at the co-op. There has been many failed attempts, but finally I have found success and it all revolves around maple syrup. Maple syrup is stable enough to get to a high temprature without burning. I was always facinated by the idea of using honey but it always seems to burn. Maple syrup or agave syrup are the perfect sweeteners for homemade granola.

Granola (adapted from Lottie + Doof)


2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

2 cups spelt

1 cup raw sunflower seeds, hulled

1 cup coconut chips

2 1/12 cups raw pecans, very coarsely chopped

3/4 cup pure maple syrup

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt

1 tablespoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 300°F.


Place oats, spelt, sunflower seeds, coconut, pecans, syrup, olive oil, sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl and mix until well combined. Spread granola mixture in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Transfer to oven and bake, stirring every 10 minutes, until granola is toasted, about 45-55 minutes. It should be nice and golden brown.

Remove granola from oven and season with additional salt, if desired. Remove granola from pan before if cools or simply line pan with parchment paper. Let cool completely before serving or storing in an airtight container for up to 1 month.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

eight(.)five

On a scale of one to ten he said I was an 8.5, not something he would like to see in a person my age. My knee injury was an 8.5, really?
It has been about five weeks post surgery. As of TODAY I have ditched the crutches completely, I am hobbling at lightning speed with one hand on the wall like I am two sheets to the wind (well not yet, at least), I can actually start to work on my range of motion, past the 90 degrees I have been working with and I can start to swim, even get on a stationary bike *gasp*. Now the real work begins. What I have been doing has been productive and self-satisfying, but I now feel like I have a neon sign above my head that only the physical therapist can see that is blinking, “begging for pain.” I can handle all the strength training you can shove at me, I will not get tired and complain about it and I can stretch for hours, but breaking down scar tissue is like running over your own leg and then as if that wasn’t enough you have a friend back up over it for you as if it brought so much pleasure. It is just not fun, I have yet to meet a person who will tell you otherwise. My doctor was very candid with me, bringing me back down from my 26 year golden cloud in the sky; this is going to take a good nine months, Michelle. I have yet another obstacle in the recovery road, I am a “skinny athlete” *hhhmmmmm* kind of like “skinny fat” where sure I am fit but I have no bulk to my muscles. My quadriceps look like my calves and that has to change to prevent any further injury. That neon sign just started to flash “she loves squats and lunges!”
On the bright side, because there is always a bright side; I can walk and my knee is incredibly stable, a feeling in which I have not experienced in almost one and a half years!
Cheers, here is to the recovery, the long recovery, the ups and the downs and most of all: the light at the end of the tunnel!

Your story

What is your story? No, seriously, I want to hear it, most everyone I run into, mostly strangers have one. Let me share because apperntly I am not the first person to have knee surgery ( I know, who would have thought?) and there are some people out there that have over came tremendous hurdles.
This morning while pumping gas, the most ususpecting attendant  befriend me, I knew she has had an injury because these are the only people that run to get doors, pull things off the shelf and are extreamly eager to chat.  She had the door open for me before I even realized that I was going to go into the service station and proceed to be amazed at the fact that I could have a knee problem, I think she thought that the only knee injuries were from obesity. I waited because I knew her story was coming, sure enough, she slipped at "pump 5" on gasoline and water which caused her to have over 150 stiches in her left shin which is holding a large metal plate in in her leg. We both agreed that having a good (i.e. good looking) doctor is a major up side to the whole ordeal AND never step on spilled gasoline while the pavement is wet. Never!
Yesterdaywhile I was at the gym, a fellow gym rat (I mean this in a very positive way) wanted to chat, his interest was sparked while he overhearn me talking to another woman about the amount of movement in my knee because her husband had the same sort of injury/surgery (twice) and had a hard time getting his range of motion back (she was a stranger). The man (he remembered me from last fall at the gym pre surgery) chatted about biking, keeping fit, and of course his injuries. His were impressive, mine isn't too bad. He was bench pressing a lot of weight and his bicep tore off his arm, just tore right off. He has the scare to prove it. Don't lift too much! His stories went on (kind of how J. can rattle off his injuries to his knees and ankles) like how he had his meniscus removed from a skiing accident and three lower back surgeries. He told me to stay active or else scare tissue runs your life and I will.
I could go on for hours about the stories that I have heard but I won't because if you are fortinuate enough not to have gone through something of the sort these are probably as boring as watching paint dry. For those of you who might find this interesting I have a few more for you.
My co worker was going up some icy steps and slipped breaking her leg, she had to recover on crutches all winter while it was icey. I know of two more women at work who have slipped on ice and broke their ankles.
While I was donating blood (well just tried to because my ACL is a cadaver I have to wait a year) the lady in the waiting room wanted to chat about my injury, she of course tore her MCL while playing with her dog at the dog park and an excited dog clipped her in the side square on the knee. Again, be careful of loose dogs (I am not advocating living in fear)!
Need I forget my yoga instructer who was playing professional football in the 70's, blew out his knee and killed his career in football when they cut a huge gapping whole in his leg and wrapped his leg muscles around his knee (or something gross like that) and then of course as decades passed and technology advanced he had his knee replaced. He says that yoga is the only thing that keeps his body moving after years of football injuries.
Our good friend had four knee surgeries in three years. He is a ski guru. Needless to say he can relate to what happens during knee surgery. His wife, also a skier, had knee surgery and walked out of the hospital that day.

Okay, I will stop there.
Please tell me about your story and what advice you can share with the rest of us, because it is all very interesting!

Friday, January 08, 2010

Friday's Happy Hour

classic margarita with salted agave rim


1 1/2 oz 100% agave tequila

1 oz lime juice

1/2 oz Cointreau

agave syrup

kosher salt

1

Squeeze about a Tablespoon of agave on a small plate.

2

Place a tablespoon or two of salt on another plate. Dip the rim of a glass in the agave, then quickly dip it into the salt.

3

Combine tequila, Cointreau, lime juice and ice in a cocktail shaker and shake for 10 seconds.

4

Pour margarita into salt-rimmed glass and enjoy!


As you know, Fridays are a glorious thing. We are free from the ball and chain for a few days, given the freedom to do as our hearts please. We usually welcome the weekends with happy hour and dinners on Fridays and today is no exception. Thanks to EatMakeReady I will delve into a sure winner this evening.

Bounty of the sea

There is something waiting for me on my front poarch. I know it is well before noon and I am dreaming of food already.

"Well, let's face it" as my Grandma would always say, I have all weekend and I must keep myself busy and to do so I am going to write cook, test, write. I have not had a drive like this in a long time and I am hoping on board and riding this train and I can't wait to see where it takes me. In an attempt not to talk about my knee and how lame crutches are, I am going to talk about food, read cookbooks and blogs, and write about it.

Back to what is waiting for me when I get home. My parents were lucky enough to relocate to a beautiful new location in Birch Bay. I am talking the perfect place, right on the water. My dad spends his free time combing the beach for "treasures" as well as digging clams, fishing and catching crab. I reap the benifits of this, a great vacation spot, and constant FRESH seafood and polished gems. My dad dug clams this week and is sharing with me, delived to my door as I work.

Heather and Brandon's beautiful little girl, Maddy.

During the summer months their beachfront property is heavenly, there really is not a better spot to have a picnic, party or beach fire. This is a photo of last summer as family gathered around sucking down fresh clams.


The beach is so much more interesting through the eyes of a wild three year old (Grady, Heather and Brandon's son). Hours can pass and you realize that there is an infinite world located under rocks.

Dinner and a peek at what it looks like out their windows.


The photo and recipe can be found at: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Cioppino/Detail.aspx

I love shellfish and when I see it on a menue I have a hard time ordering an entree because I am as happy as a clam (**sorry**) to eat a plate of steamers. I have been known to cook a huge pot of steamers and eat them over the kitchen sink, leaving a bowl of shells and J. wondering how I could of ate all those while he took a short nap. I love seafood that much.

This weekend I resolved myself not to devour the clams but to branch out and make one of my favorite dishes, incorperating the fresh clams, hand delivered to my door.


Cioppino
Ingredients
3/4 cup butter
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic,
minced 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
2 (14.5 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes
2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups white wine
1 1/2 pounds large shrimp - peeled and deveined
1 1/2 pounds bay scallops
18 small clams
18 mussels, cleaned and debearded
1 1/2 cups crabmeat
1 1/2 pounds cod fillets, cubed

Directions
Over medium-low heat melt butter in a large stockpot, add onions, garlic and parsley. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally until onions are soft.
Add tomatoes to the pot (break them into chunks as you add them). Add chicken broth, bay leaves, basil, thyme, oregano, water and wine. Mix well. Cover and simmer 30 minutes.
Stir in the shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels and crabmeat. Stir in fish, if desired. Bring to boil. Lower heat, cover and simmer 5 to 7 minutes until clams open. Ladle soup into bowls and serve with warm, crusty bread!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Making plans

Hey it is the new year, as we look back at all the great memories of 2009 and embrace the mishaps naturally we must look forward and trudge on to a brighter future. Plans, they can be big small subtle and secret but I prefer to throw caution to the wind and splatter them on a blog for the world to read. Some plans should be kept secret some should be shared in order to create a sense of accountability. As my life become increasingly solidified so do my goals and plans. In order to keep me accountable and keep my goals attainable here they are:

1 year plan:
Be back on the bike – both road and mountain
Start to climb again
Regain full range of motion in my knee and full strength
Cook more – eat more – eat with J. more – cook with J. more
Learn to like beer
Plan a trip to Europe (France)
Finish all three bedrooms of our house
Write a lot more
Eat more cheese and bread
Be incredibly content

2 year plan:
Continue with the momentum gained in previous year
Travel to Europe
Climb (I am leaving it general)
Ride the Mount Baker Hill Climb
Ride the Seattle to Portland race in a day

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it.
- Soren Kierkegaard



Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Plan B

I can honestly say it has happened. I hit bottom, and thankfully I am floating back to the top. I had a rough weekend, the wheels didn't turn, they tried but all that was there was build-up, rust and lack of energy to do anything about it. Life is full of these ups and downs and when your down, sometimes it is hard to remember how and why you got here in the first place. The golden lesson: always have a “plan B” in your back pocket.

This particular downer happened three weeks ago to the day but has been brewing for a couple months prior to the surgery. I was basically stopped still in my footsteps, my steps at the time were joyful, full of life, light, nimble, loved to bounce and bumble on a dance floor here and there. I have been forced to stop. HAULT. ALTO. First there were jitters, what am I going to do, like a wine-o in search of there next drink. Activity was my escape, I would much rather go on a run, walk, bike ride, practice yoga than sit and watch TV. Prior to the surgery, I was so preoccupied with the looming procedure that decreased activity didn't get to me; I thought I would be right back on my feet in a few weeks post surgery. The surgery hit me like a ton of bricks. I was struck down and began the slow recovery process accompanied by my man at my side each step of the way.

The first couple of weeks are a fog to me now, lost in the fog of trauma my body was trying to recover from and the haze left by painkillers. I know I was a pill though, my mind body and soul was (and still is) in shock. The buzz of the holidays came and went, I was grateful to have my family around; a little doting by family never hurt a girl. At the end of the day when the dust settled, people were gone, the phone stopped ringing and John was asleep, I was left wondering what was happening to me, my life as I knew and what to do with myself now. I had no plan, no backup. My life was going pretty good, I love all my hobbies and can’t wait to get back to them but until then I must find something to do, something I care about.

What came next I could have never predicted and would never have liked to experience. I would like to put the blame of my behavior to the anastia wearing off, the pain killers leaving my body... any excuse to pretend that this was not me acting like this, but it was. I had anger, frustration and sadness pulsing through me, in every cell. Splat! CRASH! It happened, John is still here, he weathered the storm thank my lucky stars. Like I said, I don't know where this came from exactly but I want it to leave!!! GO!

I did something that I do very seldom, I called my mom looking for comfort, and sometimes we get what we are looking for, it just takes time. In all this ruckus I found clarity. It took nearly six weeks in the making, basically weaning my body from the endorphins that it yearned for, I slowed down. I was (who am I kidding, I still am) forced to get back to my roots and try and capture the life before climbing, running and biking. WHO THE HELL AM I?????? Ahhhhh... I tried to keep myself busy with little projects here and there, nothing engaged me, I couldn't find any desire and I couldn't step outside for a few hours and escape.

Lost, until now. I book came in the mail the other day, "A Homemade Life" by Molly Wizenberg. I haven't put it down since I got it, I even plunked down in my favorite bar and read it, like talking to a life long friend, I was in great company. I have followed Molly's blog, Orangette some time, gleaning ideas and engulfed in her writing, it is so easy and friendly. First, her stories of food in this book made my mouth water and I began to dream of food. This hasn't happened in a long time. I want baguettes, I want to tear them apart and eat with a perfect little salad or dip in a warm bowl of soup. She made me remember that I absolutely love crusty artesian bread. The stories of food go on, dreamy stories of wedges of cheese, desserts, family and friends. This was just what I was looking for, this book was music to my soul, the kind that make you feel all soft inside, breathless and in awe of the beauty of life and how simple happiness is.

I have to let go of the death grip that I have on some parts of my life. Nobody wants to be friends with a crazy, and I feel as if a cloud has been lifted from my halo, I can breathe just a bit easier. I had a baguette, cheese and a perfect martini last night for dinner and I was completely satisfied and happy. I enjoyed my latte this morning with real milk, milk out of a glass jar that came from a local farm. I was happy drinking it. I was satisfied, no regrets. I had cornbread and black-eyed peas for dinner and.... well you get the idea. This may seem simple but it has taken me a long time to dig myself into this hole, I am ready to come out. HELLO!

Back to the second reason why I love this book, she writes of her father who has passed away. She chronicles the experiences in the kitchen with him and the rest her family, friends and husband. As soon as I got into a few chapters, I was greeted by warm thoughts of my grandma, my dad's mother, one of the most amazing people ever to grace my life. I couldn't sleep, the stories, memories and recipes of my grandma twirled through my brain like a slide show that has been gathering dust for years. Suddenly I felt drawn to my laptop and the words, ideas and thoughts poured out like never before. I want to write. I can say in confidently and with ease. I am going to write. I have no idea where it is going to take me, but we are not supposed to know these things. I need a commitment because this healing process is going to be long and I must pour all the energy that I exerted to my outdoor hobbies into something productive and fun or else the other side is going to take over.

I have found my plan B and learned a valuable lesson… never put all your eggs in one basket, you might drop your basket off a cliff and be left empty handed.

I have a book to finish!

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