Thursday, December 19, 2013

Just like that

So, like, anyway.

Wait.  Has it really been 2 years since I've been here in this little bacisphere, you guys?  Yikes. I guess it has.  Holy smokes. How's that for consistency, friends?!  I feel so lucky that at least a couple of times a week a few of you rascals demand an installation (DIRTY!) here at good old bacibug headquarters.  You're sweet!  And maybe mildly obsessed with me, which I kind of like. We're all in this together!

Honestly, I had such good intentions.  I always do.  I had a whole dramatic tome written* about my super sad departure from my sweet little Belmont Shore Spanish-style duplex treehouse. The unceremonious and completely soul-
See? Perfect for spyin'!
sucking move out of the place I called home for 12 (T-W-E-L-V-E, you guys.) years after my (new-ish) landlords got all greedy and bad-businessy with the best tenant anyone could ever have ever** and decided to just, you know, jack that rent
right up 67592% like crazed lunatics.  Why the hell not, right?  If you weren't supposed to gauge good people then I guess Long Beach would have rent control!  Har har har!  Those were dark days, my friends.  And while it's been a year and I still can't shake it...I miss the light and the pretty ceilings and the built-ins and MY PERFECT FOR DINNER PARTIES DINING ROOM and my huge, gloriously bright kitchen and sleeping with my French windows open and the hallway alcove in my bedroom and spying on people from the French doors in my living room...I have a little redemption in knowing that they rented my (sweet little) place to a couple who lasted only a year and were even crazier than they are.  As my friend Amy's mom says: "You're gonna get it.  You're gonna get what you're asking for."  And it sounds like they are.  Thanks Universe! And also, I know: GET OVER IT ALREADY.  

So I moved.  And then I moved again.  And at the same exact time I accepted a consulting project that was crazy busy.  Like nonstop no-time-to-breathe days. Like my early days in the biz when I was a clickety clacker with the power ladysuits and the pretty work bags and the sweater sets and the demure earrings and those gross, long-ass days.  Except for I was at home in my toasty warms wearing my Invisilign and deep conditioning my hair while I was negotiating, which is, as you know, how I have always done my best work!  Win-win, you guys! And it was fun for awhile to be that crazy busy on a new project, but then I got sucked right back in to a life with no balance.  And this project that was supposed to last a month ended up lasting 10 months, which was way more ok than not ok.  And they were some long mo-fo days, I'll tell you what.  But the good news is that about 6 months in I decided to take a little mini-break!  I sure did!  I took me a Friday off and planned a fun wine country jamboree to visit my wine country from bourbon country gal pal with my other gal pal! And we had PLANS, y'all.  I mean it.  Little pocket winery wine tastings and vine cavorting and dinner dining with some of my favorite people and whatnot.  So fun, right?

So that Friday in June I sashayed in to my spin class all "Let's get this over with!  I have a plane to catch to grape juice nirvana, fools!" and then sashayed home and then sashayed*** to the airport with my gal pal Chris all "We're on VACATION, nerds!" and then we sashayed via the wild blue yonder to Vicki's and then we drank some extra pretty bubbles and talked about the weekend scheme and hugged**** and then sashayed to sip our happy faces off in vats of pretty pinot in Healdsburg all "It is Friday afternoon and we are FUN, America!" and then sashayed to dinner at BarnDiva and then sashayed home to look at the stars and yammer about the world's problems and then, at around midnight as we were fixin' to sashay to bed?  I MISSED AN EM EFFING STEP AND BROKE MY EM EFFING HOOF. Have you ever heard of such a thing, you guys? I HAD NOT.

So anyway, I was all "You know what?  I'm sure it's fine, you guys.  Just leave me here in the living room since, you know, I can't get up or down any steps to get to a bedroom, and I'll ice it! And elevate it!  And it will be good as new tomorrow and we sure will make that first tasting at 10am and have the best day OF OUR LIVES!"  And of course they thought I was crazy but I can be really persuasive and I waggled my maimed foot at them and said "See you in the morning! HAHA ISN'T THIS SO FUNNY?!" and then I laid there like an idiot with my mangled cankle practically elevated to a straight-up right angle and iced to high heaven, convinced that it was just a bad sprain, hysterically texting my poor orthopedisty cousins, Googling***** "ankle sprains" and "wine tasting with crutches", and praying that I didn't just ruin the whole geedee weekend.******  I'll spare you the goriest of details.  Like how I decided all of a sudden that I was a bone doctor and that maybe I could just pop it back in to place. Which, PS: you cannot!  Because guess what?  Your ankle is not a a socket joint thing like your knee or your shoulder, you idiot!  But whatever.

Anyway, I ended up in the hospital at 5am feeling like a total tool when the x-ray lady was all "Um, you're not going wine tasting today...you're not leaving this hospital, hon." with some trimalleolar fracture of the tibia, fibula and talus broken ankle ballyhoo.  I spent about 20 minutes trying to convince them to just, you know, wrap it up or something, and let me go home to LA where my brilliant doctor cousin could totally fix it.  But they knew I was a CRAZYPERSON and made me
Canklegate 2013.
text him a picture of my x-ray where he took one look at that mess and then he lost his shit all "SHUT UP AND DON'T MOVE AND LET THE PEOPLE FIX IT BECAUSE THAT IS BAD BAD BAD AND YOU ARE INSANE."  So I was all, "Oh." and then I had emergency surgery and now I'm bionic with 2 titanium plates and 20 screws holding my body together.  Because I missed a step*******.  And that's how I ruined our mini ladyvacation in wine country. The end. [Curtsies.]  Kind of.

I have no idea about these things, so was shocked to learn that I was on straight bed rest...as in ZERO weight bearing...for 16 weeks.  That's 4 months of laying. As in taking a shower is impossible without a team of people looking at you naked.  As in "can someone fill up my water glasses?". As in who's turn is it to just bring me a burrito because beans are bone healing foods and I need to eat a lot of them to heal these sad bones.  Apparently it happens in an instant but the recovery for this takes approximately 357 million years.  And when you ask your fancy doctor how long before you'll be 100% weight bearing, he just laughs because he thinks you're kidding. HAHAHAHA.  And also: WAAAHHHH.

So, here I am rounding the corner to 40.  Out of shape because my poor body was like a sponge all "Hey fat cells!  We're just going to be laying around! Come on over!" and I'll be honest:  I AM NOT HANDLING ALMOST 40 WELL. Like at all.  I'm super bratty, totally petulant and barking at everyone who even brings up my birthday.  Line up, fellas!  I am your dream come true!  With a limp!

There's lots more to say.  Mostly about my village.  My people.  My village people!  These blessings who have gone above and beyond the call of friendship and duty.  Maybe my Gimpsummer™ wasn't ideal, but I'll tell you what: it was a gracious blessing to me.  I learned a whole lot and have so much to say about these people who have rallied around me and supported me and rose higher than the occasion.  I have been doted on, pampered, and cared for well beyond any reasonable expectation.  The most unexpected and divine doors******** have opened for me in so many ways while I've laid here these past months.  I am loved and am lucky to be surrounded by the most fierce and glorious souls who raise me up and fill me up and hold me up and encourage me every single day.  My people who continue to nurture my healing, my spirit, my mind and my soul.  Maybe I'm a little crabby, but I am still more light and enlightened.  And despite the long road ahead to get back to being healthy, I'm grateful*********.  

Everyday so, so grateful.





*in my head.
**me!
***ok, well, her husband Tony drove us.
****you know how I do.
*****don't ever do that.
******I did.
*******I have learned from my exhaustive research that my injury is consistent with: motorcycle accidents, roller derby accidents, and falling off of steps/curbs.  Annoying!
********dream job a-knockin'!
*********but 40 still sounds like a huge asshole.

Friday, January 13, 2012

On crushes & cookbooks

As you guys very well know, I sure do love The Food Network’s Chopped.  I mean, are those chefs kidding me?  I don’t care how much you love food or how classically trained you are, when you open up that basket of mystery ingredients and you’ve got yak loin, octopus brain and Fritos staring back at you, you’ve got to freak right the hell out.  I’m totally riveted by it and always wonder if the ingredient combinations are tested in any way before they make it to the show, or if they’re all totally arbitrary.  Like, is there some producer back there who’s all, “Wait.  We need one more ingredient for the dessert round?  Hmmmm…let’s see…uh,  throw in some crocodile spleen.  Right?  Zakarian will eat it.  Perfect!”?  Is that what happens?  And then I spend a good amount of time during each episode in a frantic panic about what I would make if I was ever on the show  all, "What?!  Mung beans and Sour Patch Kids?!  I'd make a sorbet!", because I am just that kookoo.  And also, as you very well know, I sure do love those judges.  I fall harder for Scott Conant and his adorable scruff every time his handsome mug flashes across my screen, especially when he’s giving someone the what-for.  I can feel the cartoon hearts swirling around my head...I've got it bad, friends.  And my girl-crush on Alex Guarnaschelli?  Please.  That dame is my kind of people for sure.  Anyway, I love that dang show and am always in awe of what those chef contestants can pull off and what the chef judges have to eat.  And how they sometimes have to draw the line when people practically sever their digits during the heat of the competition, lose all logic and still are nervy enough to try to suggest that someone should eat their offerings despite the biohazard.  Uh, no thanks.  Gross.
So anyway!  Given my affection and reverence for all things Chopped, I was so tickled to be sent the new cookbook Just Married & Cooking: 200 Recipes for Living, Eating, and Entertaining Together to review!  Written by two-time Chopped champion (he had bacon in his dessert basket!  Those crazies!) James Briscione and his home-cook/writer wife Brooke Parkhurst, it covers basics for eating and entertaining.  And drinking.  They talk about what kind of food traditions they’ve brought in to their home together and what new ones they’re creating.  Lots of basic concepts and techniques and fun little blurbs about wine and booze and snacks and specialty salts.  Cute, right?  It's a perfect engagement or shower gift for the foodies in your life.  They've compiled some clever, easy ideas to spruce up your daily routine, and make casual entertaining easier.  I like it and I'm not even married, just cooking.  Of course, as with any cookbook I get, I immediately devoured it from cover to cover and earmarked all of the recipes that tickled my fancy.  One of their smart little ideas is to make your own seasoned salt mixes, which seems like such a no-brainer that I feel like a total dingdong for not thinking of it myself.  Every time I season meat or chicken or fish I’m pulling out everything all separately from my spice arsenal when, hello!  How much easier is it just to shake up a couple of blends and have them ready to go?  Ding goes the culinary lightbulb!  I mixed up their Ultimate Grill Salt (salt, lime zest, garlic, pepper, cumin, paprika, coriander, onion powder) and their Italian Salt (salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, marjoram, basil) and have been dusting it like a crazy person on everything I can get my hands on.  Sprinkle sprinkle!  Watch out, you guys.
I love me a dang cutlet or paillard, too, so I immediately made their Chicken Paillards with Marinated Mushrooms from their Everyday Dinners section, which was simple and quick and delicious AND used the Italian Salt (exciting!).  It was perfect after the gym.  And because I love to show up to the neighbor’s porch happy hour with nibbles so that I don’t feel guilty drinking all of their wine*, I made their Blue Cheese, Apple, and Walnut Spread to take.  It was sweet and salty and citrusy and piquant and perfect with the sunset, the girl talk and the viognier.  I also made a version*** of their Blood Orange Old Fashioned that was a perfect New Year’s Eve cocktail.  And because I cannot get enough of bourbon and chocolate—either together or apart—right now, I made their Chocolate Bourbon TrufflesI rolled some of them in hazelnut, some of them in coconut and some of them in cocoa.  So good!  Rich and boozy, I had to get those little balls of joy out of my house before I devoured all of them.  I have my eye on their Ropa Vieja, their Arugula, Peach, & Feta Salad and their Chocolate-Guinness & Butterscotch Pudding to make soon.  So much for clean eating this month!  Oopsies!
I know that the last thing we all need after the holidays is something indulgent like this, but really?  Sometimes you just need a bite to satisfy that sweet tooth.  I’d suggest making some of these to keep in the fridge to share if people pop in, or to have handy juuuuuust in case you need one sweet bite after you’ve been so diligent with your leans and greens.  Or to eat while you watch The Biggest Loser****I shared most of these but, in the interest of full disclosure, I also layered a few in to a batch of Tiramisu Ice Cream I made and I’m going to tell you what:  it made the most perfect espresso-coffee-bourbon treat.  I’m not even joking, you guys.
Chocolate Bourbon Truffles
Makes 3-4 dozen truffles

1 cup cream
2 T unsalted butter
16 ounces bittersweet chocolate (between 63%-73% cocoa), chopped
2 T bourbon

Bring cream to a gentle boil in a saucepan over medium heat, add butter and chocolate.  Immediately remove from heat and stir until smooth.  Pour mixture in to a bowl and stir in the bourbon.  Refrigerate until firm.
Set up your work station!  Fill a mug or bowl with hot water and place a melon baller or teaspoon in the water.  Line a baking sheet with wax paper.  Scoop small truffle balls on to wax paper, dipping melon baller in water to clean between scoops.  Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour.  Remove from refrigerator and roll balls between palms until smooth.  Roll truffles in coating of your choice: chopped nuts, coconut, powdered sugar, cocoa powder and refrigerate until firm.  Remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before serving.   
  


*I’m fun.  You should invite me over.
**And because I already had everything in my fridge.  Suckahs!
***Instead of muddling blood orange, which we didn’t have, I added a splash of blood orange juice…because I?  Am a problem solver, internet!  
****Don't even act like you wouldn't. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Squashed!

Oh, you guys!  I have been remiss in telling you all about my fun holidays!  But things have just been so, so busy!  I will revere* you with such tales in the coming weeks** but let’s just say that my birthday, Christmas, New Year’s Eve sure did sashay right by in a blur of joy and giggles and peppermint and bubbles and cheese…I hope you and yours had as much good cheer as me and mine did.  And that your 2012 is off and running in the most amazing start.

The last few weeks have been all about gourds and bourbon around here at bacibug headquarters.  I mean, let’s be honest:  I’m hard pressed to run up against a squash or a whiskey I don’t like.  It’s true.  So when the good people of O Organics sent me their Butternut Squash soup to sample, how could I resist?  I could not!  O Organics is the private label of the Safeway and Vons team, and they have created an environmentally responsible brand and package and I’ll tell you what:  I have long-loved my soups and broths and stocks in a box.  That’s all I keep in my pantry.  Canned soup is so two thousand LATE, you guys.  I mean really.
And I love soup!  It was my intention to eat some of this O Organics Butternut Squash soup as a regular old restorative bowl of soup after all of the holiday hedonism, and then use the rest of it to make a butternut squash risotto, but I never got that far.  Because, as so many of you know, I also love a pancake.  Specifically a miniature, silver dollar-ish pancake.  I love little lemon pancakes, I love little cinnamon pancakes, I love little pumpkin pancakes.  And guess what this little box of soup came with***?  A recipe for butternut squash pancakes!  Sign me up, internet!  So I marched over to my friends Erin and Greg’s where I would have a house full of discriminating testers and tasters**** of all ages and a huge, bad-ass professional griddle*****, and I got down to business!
These pancakes are so good, you guys!  They’re dense and fluffy at the same time, and have a hint of cinnamon and a natural sweetness from the butternut squash soup.  And let’s be fair…any way I can get a vegetable in the daily routine is the right way for me.  We were so virtuous about it, too…we didn’t even drink mimosas with them!  Maybe next time.  They were hearty without being heavy and really made me feel like I’d started the day right.  You should make them, you guys!  Or just come over!  I’m totally adding them to my brunch repertoire…you know I love to flap some jacks for the people I love.

Butternut Squash Pancakes with Pecan-Maple Sauce
     Adapted from O Organics
     Makes 16 regular sized pancakes
     (I used a mini-scoop and made them silver dollar size so it made more like 30.  Or a million.)

3 cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp salt
1 TBSP baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
2 ¼ cups butternut squash soup
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup milk
Butter for pan or griddle

Pecan-Maple Sauce
2 TBSP butter
½ cup chopped pecans
½ cup maple syrup

For pancakes:

1.       In one bowl, whisk together top 5 dry ingredients.
2.       In a separate bowl, whisk together the butternut squash soup, eggs, vanilla and milk. 
3.       Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir until just combined; let rest for 10 minutes while you heat a non-stick pan or griddle.
4.        Brush heated pan or griddle lightly with butter and add ¼ cup of pancake batter.  Cook until bubbles form and edges begin to brown.  Flip and cook for about 1 minute more.
5.       Drizzle with Pecan-Maple sauce and gobble!

For sauce:

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and add pecans.  When the butter just starts to sizzle, add syrup and cook until is just starts to bubble; remove from heat.






*Bore.
**I wore a saucy little lady hat to New Year’s Eve…so fun, you guys!

See?  Saucy!

***Hint: NOT one million dollars.
****”I will eat them if you let me flip them!”—Ella Mae, age 6
*****I love that thing…I feel like Mel Sharples!    

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Dram slam: Scotch school

I’m a pretty lucky broad, Internet.  The universe has blessed me with such fun people in my little orbit who are always game to drag this dame hither and yon to events and experiences.  They are my conduits to a lot of joy!  It’s a downright ball, really.  Pretty often I find myself thinking, “How in the heehaw did I get so lucky to be the someone who is RIGHT HERE, right now?”*  Especially for someone like me who isn’t necessarily a primary initiator of fun.  I’m really more of a workhorse of fun.  I specialize in Fun Implementation, if you must know, but I sometimes need a spark of an idea from someone else before it dawns on me and I say, “Oh! Hey!  We should plan ____, everyone!”  I’m a firm believer in saying YES! to everything…the best times are usually had when the last thing you want to do is wash your dumb hair and dab on some sassy lip gloss**, but you do it anyhow and before you know it, it’s like THE! BEST! DINGDANG NIGHT! EVAAAARRRRR!  It’s true.  But when my cute gal pal Kit invited me to an Orange County Bartender’s Cabinet Scotch tasting event at 320 Main, the rad place where she flings delicious vittles to the people, I didn’t even bat one eye.  YES!  Well, maybe it was more like: YYEEEESSSSSSSSSSS!!!! + an awkward fist pump thing.  Nobody said I was cool, you guys.  Whatev.
So anyway, the OCBC is a collective of like-minded lovers and supporters of the art of the cocktail, and meets once a month where they all mingle and jaw about hooch and the perfect ice and elder flower simple syrups and concoctions and whatnot.  Exciting!  I love a cocktail, as you know, and I love me some whiskey (or whisky, if it’s from Scotland!  They don’t use the “e”, okay?  And they do not call it Scotch if it’s from Scotland, either.  Because it’s just whisky.  Duh.) so this was the perfect night for me.  And there were lots of people in fetching hats.  And interesting moustaches.  So debonair, you guys!  And 320 Main was such a gracious host.  They are not only power players in the world of artful mixologisting and reverence to the classic cocktail, but they're also renowned for their perfected homage to American comfort food.  There was a gorgeous short rib shephard’s pie.  And a glorious, delightful mac and cheese.  And it was a cold, dark night, so those drams*** of whisky and delicious food were the perfect belly warmers, I’ll tell you what. 
This night they’d invited a charming Scot named Jonnie who represents Bowmore and Glen Grant single malt whiskies.  He talked a lot about mill grains (a single malt is one grain!), the aging process, casks, the importance of smoke and peat (which shed so much light!  Sometimes they’re too earthy for me…like how Laphroaig always just bites me and shivers my timbers [DIRTY!] at first sip, which has the most smoke.  Now I know!).  And I fell faster and further in love with Scotch whisky.  The Bowmore I loved most was a 12-year aged, the youngest cask in the batch, and smelled like vanilla, with a good taste of smoke, almond and citrus.  The Glen Grant was a 16-year and it kind of became a default aperitif.  It’s Italy’s #1 seller, which I thought was interesting, and was far less smoky with perfect notes of honey and plum.  It’s swoon-worthy for sure.  The perfect sips.
We sipped this delightful hooch straight, which is perfectly fine by me.  I enjoy one little cube of pretty ice in my whisky, but we drank it neat that night, which really just makes you prettier faster, if you want to know the truth.  And the fine folks and aficionados at 320 Main also concocted three specialty cocktails to showcase Scottish wares.  There was the Orange Curtain, which paired 10-year Glen Grant with jalapeno and egg yolk.  Spicy!  A Scotch Old Fashioned with citrus bitters and lime zest.  Zesty! And my favorite new hot toddy****, a Hot Scotch Milk Punch.  Punchy!  He crafted a pumpkin seed orgeat***** syrup and warmed it with 12-year Bowmore, milk, cream, nutmeg and cinnamon.  And it was heaven!  Heaven!  It even inspired me to run home and churn out a few batches of Bourbon Ice Cream, which I then spent the next two days cramming down everyone's maw who happened my way.  I highly suggest you fiddle and fuss with proportions that work for you and yours and add this Hot Scotch Milk Punch to your Holiday Toddy rotation STAT.  I didn’t get the exact proportions—some things are private, you guys!—but I have made a poor woman’s version since that night with agave and milk, hold the cream please so I can eat more cheese thank you very much, so I know it can totally be done to suit your personal swilling needs.  I’m not kidding: do it.  And if you’re a local or even meandering through or about Seal Beach and haven’t yet, stop in to nosh and sip at 320 Main.  You’ll be so, so happy you did!
Sl√°inte!


*See: Adele at The Greek Theater, LA.  Magical.  Also, I got to eat some free cheese that night, too, but I don’t want to be all braggy about it.

**Am I right, fellas?

***Drams are a measure of whisky!  But you knew that already, didn’t you, internet?  You’re so clever!

****Lord love a lemon, all y’all know that I love me a hot toddy!  I really, really do.

*****Orgeat is a simple syrup typically made from almonds, but he make a pepita one.  Because he’s brilliant!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Hello, Gourdgeous!

I will never deny, you guys, my first--my truest!—love.  It’s spaghetti.  Forever and ever!  SLT + Spaghetti = TLA!  I would doodle that business all over a Pee-Chee folder if I had one right now, for real.  Sophia Loren said: “Everything I am, I owe to spaghetti.”  And I said: "Me too, girl…me too."  It’s my go-to comfort food.  A hot, steamy love affair in a bowl.  Awwww yeah!  It reminds me of being wee at Christmas at my Nonna’s table with the gaudiest china you ever saw and a huge, heavy crystal cheese bowl filled with snowy, stinky salty parmigiano with a teensy, tiny serving spoon* resting in its teensy, tiny spoon divot.   Such a demure little spoon!  That I would cram repeatedly in to my gaping maw!  I’d sneak mini-mountainy bites of that damn cheese right from that spoon whenever she wasn’t paying attention.  She’d set the table all elaborate-like and then get busy in the kitchen to continue her Feast of Fishes prep and whatnot.  The minute homegirl turned her back I’d be all up in that cheese.  She’d get so mad at me when she caught me.  Have you ever been screamed at in Italian by a granny in a hairnet**, housedress and support hose shaking a raw octopus—tentacles flailing about wildly--at you?  I have.  Maria Tricomi don’t play that, people.  She did not think that me and my two ponytails were adorable trying to eat all of the cheese while still keeping one eye on Three’s Company before people showed up.  If you were breaking bread with 5 year old me, you for sure used that germy spoon to sprinkle cheese on your pasta.  Sorry suckers!  And also: too bad!  It reminds me of good days with my Mom, of visits to and from my Aunties Mary and Rose, and of my Gramps, even though he always tried to sneak tripe in there. Gross!
Anyway, if given the opportunity and left to my own carefree devices and wanton ways, I’d eat pasta with marinara sauce and stinky cheese every ding-dang day, all day long.  It’s for sure [part of] my last meal, assuming I get to choose.  Hands down, no question, game over.  But you can’t really eat spaghetti only, Internet, because if you did you’d be 42786 lbs.  Don’t be crazy.  These are the sad-but-true facts.  I don’t like them but what can you do, right?  I’ll tell you what you do: you make spaghetti squash!
Listen up, you guys: I’M ADDICTED.  This damn gourd has changed my life!  I know this is simple and elementary to lots of people, but I think it needs to be shared.  And discussed.  I go through three huge squash (squashes? squashi?) a week.  BY MYSELF.  On Sunday or Monday I make my pot of sauce, I hack away at that squash trying to cut it in half such that I almost always sever a digit but I will not be deterred!   Then I roast those damn squash(?!), get all bonkers scraping them out with a fork or spoon and presto!  It's like magic!  I have my “spaghetti” ready for quick weeknight dinners.  I am spaghetti-ready!  It’s not 100% the same, but its close enough to make me happy and it kind of makes me feel like I’m cheating the system.  Sticking it to the man!  Power to the carb-addict people!  I know two people who hate marinara sauce***, so this won’t excite them, but maybe it excites you!  So here you go, FYI!
Spaghetti Squash
Serves: 2.  Or 1 for 2 days if your 1 is me.
1 spaghetti squash
Olive oil
Garlic powder
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise.  (Good luck…these suckers are solid.  Maybe it’ll be easier for you if you’re really tall and can really get after it.) 

Scrape out all of the creepy gourd guts and seeds and discard.  Drizzle cut side with olive oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper. (Disclaimer: I don’t do this…I drizzle the baking sheet directly with olive oil and sprinkle it with garlic powder, salt and pepper and then shimmy the cut sides of the squash all around because I’m SMART!  Or lazy.)

Place squash, cut side down on baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until squash is tender when pierced with a knife.

Remove squash from oven let it cool enough to handle.  Scrape the inside of the squash with a fork to resemble spaghetti. You can usually just scoop it out with a spoon, too, and it will still get shreddy.

I like it with marinara and Parmegiano-Reggiano, but it’s delicious with a little olive oil, squirt of lemon and a little lemon zest, lots of black pepper and Asiago!  I’m serious.

*Oh!  I was like a miniature Pablo Escobar!

**She wore a hairnet at home all day and all night for as long as I ever knew her, you guys.  To keep her coiffe in line, is what her plan was.  But really, when she took it off for visitors or to go out and about all that happened was that her bun was intact, but she had a huge indentation on her face, around her hair line.  But she was committed to the strategy, regardless.
***One because growing up as an athlete it reminds her of “carbing up” before a meet and there’s no joy in that.  The other one is just crazy.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Kentucky woman

I was having one of those days last week, you guys.  You know those kind.  Where you’re just kind of…meh.  Like where you have a frillion BRILLIANT, WORLD-CHANGING ideas swirling around in your head but can’t figure out how to execute them.  Or initiate them.  Or remember what any of them are.  And then you’re just sort of exhausted, frankly, by the sheer magnitude of all of the BRILLIANCE!  And GRAND IDEAS!  So OVERWHELMING!  So much TO DO!  So you just don’t do any of it.  And then you catch yourself wondering if you’re even making any iota of difference in this world.  Like even a smidge?  Does any of it even matter?  Is anyone paying attention?  Like who cares? Are you there, Universe?  It’s me!  Suze!  And the Universe is all, “Who?” and so then you’re just totally over it.  Whatever it was.  That was my day.  If it was raining, I’d have pulled a chair up to the window and stared forlornly out of it in quiet contemplation whilst some kind of appropriately emo tunes played in the background because, yes, I am that dramatic.  And I also always think I’m in a made-for-TV movie at all times*.  But it wasn’t raining, so I had to table** my melancholy for another time.  Way to cramp my style, Mother Nature!
Anyway!  So I’m having one of those days, right?  And in the throes of it my phone rings and I see by the photo that pops up of her adorable little moppet*** that it’s my friend Vicki!  Who I never really talk to on the phone, per se, so this is exciting!  What could it be that she’d like to discuss?!  Hooray!  And also, perfect timing because Vicki will get it because we are similarly-minded**** and she knows a lot about a lot of things.  She’s a real-life Sommelier cattin’ around in California wine country!  And she’s from Kentucky so she, naturally, knows all manner of things about whiskey and bourbon!  And she likes information and she likes to share information.  She likes to hug people.  She likes my risotto.  And she likes nature.  And bargains.  And fancy skincare potions and products!  She’s very good about forwarding interesting emails and likes to establish good karma!  Also, she really knows how to wear scarves which I realize in that moment I will need to remember to don if I ever do sit and stare out the window at some kind of rain and pensively contemplate.  Snazzy!  She has good juju.  She is a loyal advocate for the people she loves and is always a good personal cheerleader.  Everyone needs a Vicki!  And Vic is the kind of true-blue pal who takes the time to do considerate things for people.  A few months ago we got in to some kind of discussion—on Facebook, I’m sure—about music and because she is also a master mixalot and CD maker, she made me my own box manila envelope 4-pack set!  It was a serious compilation of tunes that she was so thoughtful about…there were liner notes about each song’s significance and relevance.  Kind of a mini life-soundtrack*****!  And I sure do love them.  I listened to them all back to back—twice--the night I got them, armed with my cheat-sheet liner notes while main-lining Malbec with the fella I was dating at the time.  I’m certain he was thrilled as I got increasing more pickled and belted out my most favorite selections after referencing any notes of relevance from Vicki.  I’m such a fun date!    Come watch me and my purple wine teeth sing the beejesus out of a Loudon Wainwright jam, with an encore that includes a song or two from “Rent”!  These are the secrets of my seduction, Internet.  Anyhow, my favorite CD of the entire set was a disk entitled “Bacibug”.  Isn’t that just the cutest?  Yes it is!    
Frisky with whiskey!
Bacibug: “Hi!  Hello! WHATAREYOUDOING?”

Vicki Lynn: “Hi!  I’m driving around doing sales blitzes and I happen to be listening to my Bacibug Mix and I wanted to call you and tell you I love it and I’m thinking about you!”
Bacibug: “I love it, too!  Yay!  Thank you!”
Vicki Lynn:  “You’re welcome!”
Bacibug: "Knock 'em dead out there!
Vicki Lynn: "I am!"
Bacibug: "Okay!"
So that was the jaunty and riveting extent of our conversation.  Yes.  Really.  It was maybe two whole minutes, but it perked me right the hell up, I’ll tell you what.  It made my whole day!  And it reminded me that you are always making a difference to someone, somewhere.  And that we should all take a minute every day to let someone know if you’re thinking of them.  You’d like to hear it, wouldn’t you? 
You totally would, Internet!

     
*What?!  Maybe I am.  Don’t judge!
**”Cut!”   
***Willow!
****Dramatic.
*****For my made-for-TV movie!  Clearly!  Or maybe hers.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Virgo(ne)

You would have turned 61 today.  Instead, today, you've been gone exactly 6 months.  16 was always your divine number, so I guess it makes perfect sense that the universe worked it out like that.

Salvatore Bruno & Susanna Lucy
More and more lately, really out of nowhere, it comes to me in this quick, searing, shocking flash that you're actually gone gone.  Like dead gone.  It's unreal.  Not like in the last few years where you were just sort of, you know, gone somewhere else  and, even though things were so different, we all knew you were still out there and around.  Distant and removed but still, technically, close.  Weird, right?!  I have to remind myself that you're not just in Pasadena or wherever and that I'll never get to talk to you again.  And I'm just so surprised at how surprising it is to me.  I mean, I'm a big girl and it wasn't like it was sudden or a surprise.  Afterall, you were sick and we all got the chance to brace ourselves and prepare, to make sure there was nothing left unsaid, but still.  It seems that the longer you've been gone, the more surreal it is to me.  It's like some absurd delayed-release grief I'm struck with.  I'll be walking down the street minding my own business (well, sort of...you know me.) and it just hits me for no real reason.  It's like a punch in the gut and, since I'm being honest with you, it sort of takes my breath away. The car show was here last weekend and I couldn't even bring myself to set foot anywhere near it for love or KettleCorn lest there be a '67 Mustang or bathtub Porsche or some classic restored Ford pickup.  This week a song came on in spin class and I burst right in to tears.  Embarrassing, right?!  Hallelujah that I always hide in the back anyway so I don't think anybody saw, but...is this going to happen to me every time I hear any Motown now?  Hysteria is so inconvenient!                  

Thankfully, blessedly, naturally, finally all of the good memories are rising to the top.  I'm so grateful for that because there really were so many more good, fun, happy times than not.  It weighed so heavy on me that they were tarnished for awhile by disappointment, bad decisions and wrong turns.  But I think time and perspective are polishing their veneer and--Hurray!--they're starting to shine bright again.  I sure miss the you that I remember.  And I sure wish I could talk to you today to see how you'd feel about being 61*.  And to give you my standard, annual argument that you really should dig out your enormous Virgo medallion from 1976 and wear it around the town** on your birthday.  And to make sure you know that I'm remembering you with love and affection.  And to tell you that even though the last 6 months have been kind of wacky, we're all doing ok.  We'll always be ok.

Happy Birthday.  I really, really hope that someone wherever we really go when we're gone remembered your German chocolate cake and made you blow out every single one of those candles.



* 61?!  That sounds craaaazy! That just seems kind of old, right?  Like that's how old grandparents are or something?  I just always think you're stuck around 45.

**Which you never even did one time despite all of my convincing arguments.  For as much as that thing petrified little tiny me, I'm sure it's still kind of awesome in a Studio 54ish way.