The dream is real… and I love you

This woman inspires me. Always.

grace beyond grace

Love, Steve

This is a story of encouragement and dreams alive and gratitude, but I need to take you down into the dirty with me before we climb back out and see the light.

I woke up this morning with three hours of sleep and money on my mind. When I’m overwhelmed, I pray first and then get to work on details. But the details today turned into another day of figuring out just how I’m going to stretch the checking account to pay property taxes due in a few weeks. This is always where my frustration starts to build.

I don’t know if every other non-profit in this city receives a break on property taxes, but we don’t. I do know there is an application process in place which goes before the city council and is rarely denied. I applied for a partial exemption from property taxes three years ago…

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Wind farms could be killing 80,000 bats a year, new study finds


By Paul Homewood

h/t Phillip Bratby/Stewgreen


From the Telegraph:

Wind farms are probably killing tens of thousands of bats a year, even where risk assessments have been carried out to prevent the deaths, a study has found.

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First Breakfast Radishes of the Season.

Yum!  Radish sandwich here I come!

Yum! Radish sandwich here I come!

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Nature Finds A Way.

From my hero, Jeff Goldblum, Jurassic Park:  Life finds a way.

Sorry – I’ve been remiss.  Should have posted long ago.  Here are a few pictures from my backyard, showing the many ways life does find an unexpected way.

The brown turkey fig tree we cut down. It's alive!

The brown turkey fig tree we cut down. It’s alive!

Volunteer fig growing from a volcanic rock.

Volunteer fig growing from a volcanic rock.

Close-up.  Rock/Fig.

Close-up. Rock/Fig.

Baby Oak under my garden work table.

Baby Oak under my garden work table.

Unidentified baby tree growing out of an ancient stump in our woodpile.

Unidentified baby tree growing out of an ancient stump in our woodpile.

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Garden Update.

Broccoli rabe and assorted greens, onions.

Broccoli rabe and assorted greens, onions.

Greens, onions, asparagus in there somewhere.

Greens, onions, asparagus in there somewhere.

Peas, potatoes, shallots.

Peas, potatoes, shallots.






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Here we go again… Restaurant Rant!

My husband says I’m a real bitch when it comes to food.  Guilty as charged.

I’m still gagging over Friday night.  This was the second time we’ve been invited by another couple to meet for dinner at a restaurant of their choice – dutch treat.

I accept responsibility.  Much of the problem is mine.  I’m picky.  Especially when we drop a big wad of cash for food and alcoholic beverages, the alcoholic beverages consumed in larger part by our dinner partners.

When I eat out it’s because:

a.  I’ve been invited as in this case.

b.  I love the food at a particular restaurant.

c.  A particular restaurant prepares a dish way better than I can.

d.  A particular restaurant prepares a dish I love but have no interest in making myself because of the time and effort involved.

***Ooh!  Check the end of the post.  Guess the mystery food and win a dessert recipe from my private collection!

Okay.  Here we go.

Restaurant laziness–

1.  Piling mixed greens on top of every starter and entree instead of providing a fresh seasonal vegetable.  Asparagus is everywhere right now.  Green beans just came into season out here in California.  Brussel Sprouts are still fresh.  Cauliflower is big.  Baby artichokes are cheap.  C’mon!  I don’t need a mess o’ greens piled on top of my food, especially when the greens are coated with an herb vinaigrette reeking of marjoram.

It wasn’t hard to identify the greens.  I’m growing them in my garden– Japanese Misome and Mizuna.  Greens of the moment.

Every single item we were served, starters and entrees, was covered with the same sloppy room temperature greens.  I watched plate after plate pass by our table, each plate filled with the same greens.  Every single menu item looked exactly like every other menu item – a salad.

Especially because–

2.  Every item on the entire menu was served in a giant bowl.  This is beyond annoying on a good day, but even more so when the entree is barely visible within the bowl.  It is so hard to eat stuff out of a giant bowl.  (You try cutting a steak in your giant bowl.  Not that I got a steak…)

This may be the first time in my entire adult life I’ve ever been served an entree so small as to be virtually nonexistent.  I don’t need or expect a huge portion, frankly I don’t want a huge portion.  However I needed a microscope to see the kabocha squash tortellini I ordered.  Not that it much mattered because the tortellini sucked.  They were cold, undercooked, made with wonton skins instead of pasta dough, and they tasted overwhelmingly of marjoram because of the herb vinaigrette from the greens piled on top.

Which leads me to–

3.  Serving what is supposed to be hot food at room temperature.

Nothing arrived hot.  Everything arrived at room temperature including the night’s  signature cocktail, Sludge… oh, sorry, I mean a Blood Orange Royale.  What should be cold, sparkly, light and refreshing was a flat overly sweet red-orange room temperature mush.  It was disgusting.  I had to send it back.

4.  Serving chicken that is unrecognizable as chicken.  My husband ordered a roast chicken breast stuffed with tomato confit.  When his entree arrived he and I stared, flabbergasted.  Beneath the ubiquitous mess o’ greens was something neither of us had ever seen before, something we hope we’ll never see it again.

Let’s see if I can describe this…

My husband to our server– “Uh, excuse me, I ordered roast chicken.”

Our server– “Yes.  This is chicken.”

My husband, poking around with a fork– “It is?  It doesn’t look anything like chicken.  It looks like something…”  (Words failed him.)

Our server– “Yes.  It’s our version of roast chicken.”

Me, elbowing my husband– “I know what this is. This is Howard Wolowitz’s mother’s turbriskafil.”

Well, in my defense that’s what it looked like.

Do you remember when your kids were toddlers and you made your own baby food?  I do.  I had this little grinder/baby food maker and I kept it near the table.  When I’d serve chicken I’d stick pieces of chicken into the grinder and turn the crank.  The chicken came out all smooshed– chicken paste.  That’s what this looked like, chicken paste.

So what my husband had in his giant bowl were three rolls or a roulade of smooshed chicken.  It looked as if someone had taken a boiled chicken breast, put it through a grinder and turned it into a paste the texture of Gefilte fish, which I suppose is sort of fitting since Passover begins in another week or two.  Once the chicken was all pasty the chef spread it over what appeared to be sausage casings.  He layered in a little tomato confit, which looked and tasted like liver, and then he rolled it up.  This stuff, whatever it was, was super pale, not roasted or braised or sauteed or caramelized by any stretch of the imagination.  It was cut into three pieces and stuck on end in the giant bowl.  And then covered with a mess o’ greens.

I’m telling you, Howard Wolowitz’s mother’s turbriskafil.


It was the grossest thing I’ve ever seen in a restaurant.

The memory of this meal kept me up all night.  Food will do that to me.  I can obsess for days about either an extraordinary meal or a terrible meal.  This was terrible.  Damn, I hate flushing money down the drain.

***Guess the mystery food!  Our also virtually nonexistent starter arrived covered with greens.  My husband and I shared what was supposed to be: Poached Artichokes, Fromage Blanc, Hen of the Woods, Barigoule Emulsiona.  (Found a tiny blob of cream cheese buried on the bottom of the bowl) The dish didn’t exactly arrive as described.  However, the greens were topped with a mystery food.  I’m good at identifying pretty much anything but neither my husband nor I could figure out this particular food.  Whatever it was had been shaved so thin as to be almost transparent.

Here are the details:

It was white-ish in color, 2 strips per bowl placed on top of the greens, each strip was approximately 2 1/2 inches long and 3/4 of an inch wide.

It was raw.

The flavor was vaguely root vegetable and a little off-putting.  But it was definitely not a raw parsnip, not an apple, not a pear, for sure not a lotus root.  No sweetness.  No tartness.  I caught some slight nuttiness.

My husband thought it was cheese when he first looked at it, but the texture was cellulose, so it was a plant.

My thoughts – Celery root?  Jerusalem artichoke?

Suggestions?  Once I get your ideas I’ll call the restaurant and find out what it actually was.

Posted in Activity, Entertainment, Food, meals, restaurants | 5 Comments

Variations on a Theme. Mixing My Food Metaphors.

Completed - Sauteed Scallops with Cauliflower Salad  Over White Bean Roasted Garlic Puree.

Completed – Sauteed Scallops with Cauliflower Salad Over White Bean Roasted Garlic Puree.

My husband is a big fan of scallops.  Me?  Not so much.  I hate biting into a piece of grit and scallops tend to be gritty/sandy.  Regardless of my personal feelings about scallops, once in a while I’m willing to prepare them.  I try to solve the grit problem by rinsing them gently in cold water and then soaking them in a citrus marinade – turning the bag frequently – hoping any remaining grit will work its way out.

Be aware – if you leave seafood/fish in a citrus marinade too long the citrus will cook the seafood/fish and you’ll have ceviche.  Which is edible, more or less.  Although I like sushi and sashimi I’m not into ceviche.  Tastes like fish mush to me.

So, anywhooo – I waited until the last minute to clean and marinate the scallops.  In the meantime I made my marinade – the juice of three lemons, 1/4 cup or so of honey, 1 Tbs. cumin and 1 tsp. chili flakes.

Marinade for the scallops.

Marinade for the scallops.

I also soaked my golden raisins in a couple Tbs. of rice wine (for the cauliflower salad), and roasted my head of garlic for the white bean puree.

Golden raisins soaking in rice wine.

Golden raisins soaking in rice wine.

Delicious roasted garlic!

Delicious roasted garlic!

I roasted a dismembered head of cauliflower with two sliced shallots.  So what you do is break up the cauliflower and slice the shallots.  Spread them on a baking sheet, drizzle on olive oil, sprinkle on kosher salt, pepper and a little superfine sugar and let roast until the cauliflower begins to brown.

Roasted cauliflower with shallots.

Roasted cauliflower with shallots.

When the cauliflower is done, remove from the oven and pour everything into a plastic bag.  Stick in the fridge until ready to serve.

Making the white bean puree – drain and rinse one can of white beans.  Pour them into a food processor along with the roasted garlic, 1 Tbs. of Zatar spice, 1 tsp. kosher salt, 1 tsp. coarse ground black pepper, 1 Tbs. olive oil.  Puree until just a little chunky.  Set aside until ready to prepare plate.

Making white bean puree.

Making white bean puree.

An hour before you are ready to serve, rinse scallops and put into a plastic bag.  Pour over the marinade and refrigerate.  Turn bag frequently.  Heat saute pan.  Add a little butter or olive oil.  When hot, reduce the heat to medium and add scallops.  Cook maybe 3-4 minutes per side, depending upon the size of the scallops – until they get a little brown.

While the scallops are cooking prepare the plates.  Spread several Tbs. of white bean puree on each plate.  Sprinkle over smoked paprika.

Layering the plate - white bean puree with smoked paprika.

Layering the plate – white bean puree with smoked paprika.

Drain the golden raisins.  Mix them with the roasted cauliflower and shallots along with 2 Tbs. drained capers.  Spoon around the white bean puree.

Adding cauliflower salad.

Adding cauliflower salad.

Set hot scallops onto the white bean puree and serve with a green salad.  (I actually prepared cold crispy green beans with toasted almonds.)

Done and done!

Done and done!









Posted in Activity, Cooking, Entertainment, Food, health, meals, Recipes | 2 Comments