Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Guardian

Firstly, thank you all for all your kind comments on the last post and the decorations.

Secondly, I have just finished reading Wolf Hall And Bring Up The Bodies, both by Hillary Mantle and both about Henry the 8th and Thomas Cromwell so I am in a very" firstly" frame of mind.
 But I digress. I know it's the holidays and I should be decking the halls...

I just wanted to take a moment and sing the praises of the Lab.

Not only has she opened up her home and her dog bed to the kittens, she has appointed herself their legal guardian.

Last night all 3 of them were cavorting about in the yard while I cooked dinned. I keep the screen door propped open and the main door ajar so everyone can rush in and out willy nilly.

Suddenly both Nika and Lucy were running from room to room, coming into to talk to me in the kitchen,then running outside again.

I realized Gus, Mr. Hollywood,was missing from the pack.  After I searched the ( v.small) yard with a flashlight I came back inside to continue dinner. But not the Lab.

Even though I was cooking BEEF, she stood side by side with Lucy, scanning the street, waiting for the prodigal son to come sauntering home.

And return he did, maybe 30 minutes later. Dirty and demanding dinner, totally unapologetic.

Nika got fed first.

She's our heroine.

What a big, beautiful, well trained (unless there's a rabbit or SQ about) dog.

( Now,we return to our regularly scheduled Christmas program )

Monday, November 26, 2012

After The Feast

In our house it seems like we no sooner eat the last bite of pie, turn on the dishwasher and grind the beans for morning espresso than the alarm is going off and left overs in hand we're off to begin the seasons decorating.

Does anyone remember the large firm we decorated last year? 4 trees, 10 wreaths, miles of garland, miles of office to traverse, 6 people, 10 hours, and then we had to take it all down a few days later because a client found it too holidayish? We do.

This year we went for a new look.  The slick steel and glass stairway was decorated with an icy garland swagged with snowy branches of crystallized cones and white berries.

 One of the trees was hung with balls of feathers, balls of birch. There were velvet fern fronds and crystal leaves.

 A trio of Alpine trees were wrapped in strands of bittersweet,more icy garland. pinecones, tallow berries and snowflakes.

There was more, much more, all fueled by our traditional lunch of  shared Thanksgiving leftovers,and round after round of lattes. Along with extension cord and strands of lights runs.  Something is always forgotten.

But what is always remembered is the beautiful view from the rooftop garden.

And now we await the verdict.

What (or who) will hang, the decorations or the designers?


Thursday, November 22, 2012


Unfortunately we came late to the world of Downton Abbey, so were forced to stay up past midnight  fighting the first world war.

As a result, we overslept and came late to the kitchen. Not the best idea on a food based holiday.

Thank God we're having Thanksgiving en famille. 

We're doing a German style meal this year. So as the red cabbage braises away on the stove, GG is preparing the stuffing for the turkey. This consists of  Macintosh apples, oranges, sliced almonds, rum soaked raisins (or apple cider soaked if you live with me), S&P, paprika and cinnamon. The turkey is covered inside and out with S&P and paprika and is cooked breast side down, the top draped in slices of bacon. Much bacon.

There's quite the world war fought over those crispy bacon slices when the turkey comes out of the oven.

Tini and Nirmal will be bringing 10 pounds of mashed potatoes,brussell sprouts and cranberry sauce. I have the dough for icebox rolls resting in the icebox and pumpkin pies in the oven.

What a perfect American/German/Indian feast this will be.

And Mr. Baby's first Thanksgiving in situ.

Hope he doesn't try to fight his mother for a leg. It could get ugly.

Bon Appetit to the Americans celebrating Thanksgiving and love to the rest of you.

I give thanks for having you all in my life, either in situ or virtually.

Group hug.

xo jane

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Black And White Goeth Before The Fall

Before we plunge into the Thanksgiving madness. Before the air is redolent of rosemary and bay leaves, the centerpieces studded with gourds and feathers and pomegranates lie bleeding on the design table. Before the customers line up with handfuls of candles and cocktail napkins and bunches of bittersweet. And before we start to scream at one another "Can you get that phone", we had a tiny wedding to do.

I called it the Chanel wedding. A study in black and white with just a suggestion of grey.

I never met the bride. She lives in London. But she had a friend with ideas. Good ideas.

Her bouquet was wrapped, of course, with black velvet ribbon.

The mantle piece was to be "drapey".

And the communal table had a row of little silver urns fulled to the brim with smokey goodness.

It was the quiet before the storm.
And I enjoyed every moment of it.

Now:  off to the trenches.

Monday, November 12, 2012

This Just In

I don't know what happened to last week.

Apparently I was personally responsible for rocking the vote last Tuesday because once the election and Senate races were called and we pumped our fists in the air and cried with happiness, I fell into a state of deep exhaustion that lasted the rest of the week.

At least it was a blue state :-)  Go Virginia. And Ohio. And last but not least Florida.

By the weekend we had opened up our hearts and home again to friends. Friday night brought Thai food and our friends Mary and Sarah to celebrate both their baby Jackson's first birthday and my first year of non smoking,which ended on October 31. Thank you all for being so supportive. I quite honestly couldn't have done it without every bit of encouragement both virtually and in reality.

I can't tell you how good it feels to take a deep breath.

Sunday was spent, as all good Sundays are, at the gym, in the garden and in the kitchen cooking up something delicious for our garden mentors, Geoff and Chuck. They brought eggs, a blueberry crumble and the sad news that indeed the rest of our leylands need to come down, and come down soon before they fall down.

Just as I was about to start a fund for Leyland Relief, our neighbor Nelda, who is to leave for a year in Afghanistan to help with rebuilding, specifically of the roads, offered to pay for the removal of our trees if we watch her garden for her while she is out of the country.

We would have cared for it anyway but don't tell her now.

Which just goes to show you, as GG always says, everything always works out in the end.

The End.

xo jane

Monday, November 5, 2012

Get Stuffed AKA The 5 Little Peppers

So this morning I'm in the kitchen chopping vegetables for stuffed peppers and as I'm finely dicing a handful of button mushrooms I flash back to my first restaurant job in San Francisco.

It was located on Nob Hill, there was a  Swiss chef, a kitchen full of ambitious young male cooks and me.

I was hired as prep/dessert cook.  In the hope of discouraging me from staying in the restaurant I was thrown (literally) 25 pound bags of onions to peel and dice, the same  amount of potatoes to peel and slice, gallons of cream to whip and baskets of mushrooms to chop. I don't discourage easily though.

I quickly learned the difference between 1/4 and a 1/2 inch cube and the importance of each.

I honed my knife skills here but there was many a slip between the knife and the skill set.

One of the slips took off a finger tip forever lost in 10 lbs. of mushrooms.

After a quick tip to the emergency room, I was back at work.  When you're 5'2, 90 odd pounds and you work in a male dominated industry you don't make a big fuss over accidents. 

So bandaged and wrapped I was working the dessert station mixing ice cream with fresh fruit.  I piled it in a dish and topped it with a dollop of whipped cream and a bit more fruit.

One dessert got an extra touch, it got my finger shaped bandage.  I didn't realize it was missing until a scream was heard from the dining room.

That dinner was comped :-)

Tonights' dinner of stuffed peppers has a filling of sauteed onion, garlic, mushrooms, kale, ground turkey, quinoa, feta cheese, a few teaspoons of tomato paste and S&P, I prebaked the peppers in a 350degree over for 15 minutes and will stuff and bake them tonight at the same temp for about the same time.

No fingers were lost in the preparation of this dish.