Parmesan Popcorn

 

 

 

Last night, I was just beat. I had spent the morning making cinnamon rolls with my friend Fifi and her kids, and then I’d gotten a late lunch at Umami Burger. (Oh, Umami and your Truffle Burger – you know me so well.) By supper time, I was only a little peckish, but a little peckish, just the same. Mister then had a great dinner idea: popcorn!

 

I’m not going to post pictures, because I didn’t take any. But I will give the recipe…

 

Here’s what you’ll need: Olive Oil, Popcorn Kernels, Unsalted Butter, Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese and Kosher Salt.

 

In a large pot with a lid, place 3 tablespoons of olive oil and a single popcorn kernel. Cover the pot and place it over medium-high heat. Wait for that kernel to pop. Once you hear it blast, add 1/3 cup unpopped kernels and re-cover the pot. Slide the pot around (or shake) and keep it going until the popping has stopped, being careful not to burn. Remove from heat. If in doubt, take the lid off and stir the popcorn around. Any remaining kernels should pop. If they don’t, take it off the heat anyway.

 

Pour 2 tablespoons melted butter over the popped corn. Sprinkle 1/2 to 3/4 cup grated parmesan over the popcorn. Sprinkle 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt over the top and then stir it all up. Pour it all into a big bowl and dig in! It’s a different take on popcorn and it’s mighty good. Especially when you just don’t want to cook dinner…

 

Parmesan Popcorn
Author: 
Recipe type: Snack
Serves: 1 to 2
 

Ingredients
  • 3 T. Olive Oil
  • ⅓ c. Popcorn Kernels
  • 2 T. Unsalted Butter, Melted
  • ½ to ¾ c. Grated Parmesan Cheese (or to taste)
  • ⅛ t. Kosher Salt

Instructions
  1. In a large pot with a lid, place 3 tablespoons of olive oil and a single popcorn kernel. Cover the pot and place it over medium-high heat. Wait for that kernel to pop. Once you hear it blast, add ⅓ cup unpopped kernels and re-cover the pot. Slide the pot around (or shake) and keep it going until the popping has stopped, being careful not to burn. Remove from heat. If in doubt, take the lid off and stir the popcorn around. Any remaining kernels should pop. If they don’t, take it off the heat anyway.
  2. Pour 2 tablespoons melted butter over the popped corn. Sprinkle ½ to ¾ cup grated parmesan over the popcorn. Sprinkle ⅛ teaspoon kosher salt over the top and then stir it all up. Pour it all into a big bowl and dig in! It’s a different take on popcorn and it’s mighty good. Especially when you just don’t want to cook dinner…

 

The Queen’s Jubilee

 

 

This year marks The Queen of England’s Diamond Jubilee. 60 years ago, on 6 February, she ascended the throne. Her official coronation took place a year later, on 2 June 1953. This is something of only passing interest for many of us. But I can imagine the joyous frenzy in Britain. And I support that, as we all need reasons to celebrate in life. Nothing wrong with that, not at all.

 

When I painted this, I wasn’t thinking of the Queen’s Jubilee. In fact, I was just trying to do something different. This was my first layer of paint…

 

 

Not much, eh? I’ll be honest with you. I was at a loss as to how to move forward. So I did the only thing I could: I asked others what they saw. The first young lass I approached said she thought it looked like a skirt. A skirt?

 

A skirt! As soon as she said it, I saw it. And as soon as I saw it, I knew it was The Queen. And as soon as I knew it was The Queen, I knew it would say, “God Save the Queen.” The gloved hand and tiara ideas came right after. Of course, executing all those ideas was the hard part. But I did pull it off to my liking.

 

I’ve not been alive long enough to recall The Queen’s coronation. But she’s been The Queen all my life. As much as we expect some things, some people, to endure, nothing lasts forever. This painting will always remind me of Her Majesty, Elizabeth II, Queen of England. Isn’t she lovely…

 

 

Computer Blues

 

 

I was going to post a copy of the letter I wrote about my broken computer. I mailed it off yesterday, to the president of the company from which my laptop was recently purchased. But I just couldn’t post it. Writing that letter broke my heart, but that had to be done. Sharing it here did not have to take place.

 

So let me just say this: yes, my laptop died. Yes, I have a desktop where I can work. Yes, I’m bummed to have to deal with the loss of all data on my laptop. But as Mister so wisely reminded me – it’s just a computer. It’s only a thing. I can deal with this, no matter how frustrating it may be.

 

I may have the computer blues, but the sun is shining gold outside my window and it’s a gorgeous day. I think now would be a good time for me to take a walk outside and count my blessings…

In the Garden

 

 

 

Sometimes it feels like the world, in all its glory, is conspiring against you. Never mind it actually isn’t, it just sometimes feels that way. And no matter how rational you want to be, once you feel like you’re being held down in the mud, it’s hard to stand. Yesterday was one of those days for me.

 

And I did want to be rational. And I did want to stand. Fortunately, there was a task needing completion and it held great promise on the lift-one’s-spirits front: the tomatoes needed to be planted.

 

It’s funny how, when I feel down in the mud, digging in the dirt eases my soul. Maybe it’s the digging itself, signaling the desire to dig one’s way out of whatever “hole” in which one feels buried. Maybe it’s the hard labor, freeing one’s muscles from stress and tension. Maybe it’s a lot of things. I have no idea.

 

 

 

I only know that when I started tilling that soil, then amending it, my mind strayed from my troubles. And then when I started plotting the placement of each plant, I was further distracted from the morning’s mess. By the time I had tidied up the yard and watered the plants, I was calm. There’s still a roiling sea to contend with, but my vessel is steady. For now.

 

Today I found a bit of peace in the garden. I sorely needed it. And I’m grateful for every blister, splinter and aching muscle. Amen.

 

 

 

PS If you’re thinking to yourself, “Mikki, why on earth did you plant all those sticks?”, I’ll tell ya. We have a lot of cats in our neighborhood, and unlike with dogs, cat owners aren’t required to keep them reigned-in in any way, shape or fashion. Those sticks are a natural deterrent in the war against cat feces (which will kill the food in your garden). Turns out, cats don’t like sticks up their butts. Who knew?

I Hate Slytherin!

 

I love to hike. It’s fantastic exercise and you get to experience the great outdoors. Got a friend along? Perfect! This is me at the summit of Mt. San Gorgonio a few summers ago. At 11,600 feet, it’s the highest point in southern California. Yes, I am rocking Chanel sunglasses. I’m a southerner and a Californian. We can’t help ourselves. But I digress.

 

Most of my hikes are local and fall somewhere in the 2.5 to 5-mile range. I try to hit a trail pretty regularly, but sometimes I just hit the sidewalk. One of my favorite walks is a 7-mile loop up into residential hills and back. It’s taxing, to be sure. But I really enjoy it. And it’s safe. The most I ever have to worry about is a film crew blocking the sidewalk. Except that one day…

 

I had made it to the highest street on my route and was preparing to start the downhill portion. The short distance covered on said highest street is the only section without sidewalks. But I know the drill. Walk against traffic. Keep my eyes and ears open. It’s pretty standard. And I was moving along when whoa! What the hell is that? I jumped up on to the curb and stayed still. About 12 feet in front of me was a rattlesnake. It was just chilling in the street, nestled among the fallen Jacaranda blossoms. And it was blocking my path. Oh, and I almost forgot, I do not love snakes.

 

I pulled out my phone (as I always walk/hike with a phone — just in case) and called my local police department (and NOT 911). Don’t ask me why my local police department phone number is in my contact list. I can’t explain my thinking. I only know that it came in real handy that day. Anyway, I called and my side of the conversation went something like this: Hi. I’m walking on ABC Street and at the corner of XYZ Drive there’s a rattlesnake in the road. Well, I’m a little too scared to get closer, but it doesn’t seem to be moving. Wait. A car is coming. I’ll let you know if it moves. Nope. That car came within inches and the snake didn’t even twitch. So you’re calling Animal Control to come pick it up? Great. Thank you.

 

For those who don’t live in a rattlesnake zone, let me explain. Animal Control still want to know about and remove dead rattlers. Apparently, the venom in the snake’s glands is poisonous for up to a year (!) and can be quite dangerous to pets and people alike if the dead animal is handled. In fact, the danger may be greater than being bitten by a live specimen, as snakes parse out the venom and therefore a controlled amount is experienced. If the venomous gland of a dead animal is somehow administered, there is absolutely no control as to the amount one may receive.  This was news to me, but I’m mighty glad to know the authorities are taking care of bid-ness.

 

So I moved to about 5 feet from the little bugger and snapped a pic. I have to admit, he looked really beautiful. I also have to admit I booked it away from there, just in case that snake was only playing ‘possum.

 

 

I’ve crossed paths with several more rattlers. I do all I can to keep my distance. I don’t want to know them and I’m sure they don’t want to know me.  (I wish I could say the same for Mister. That guy must surely be from Slytherin House.) But I can’t let my fear of snakes keep me from hiking. It’s just too awesome. If you’re able and can find a trail somewhere near you — even a short one — do try and go for a stroll/hike. Nature is good for our souls. Really. Snakes and all.

 

 

Tomatomania!

 

 

Several years ago, Mister and I discovered a happening called “Tomatomania!” It’s an heirloom tomato seedling sale that takes place each Spring in various communities around the country. It started in the early ’90′s in Pasadena, CA. As it’s now spread all the way to the other coast, its popularity is growing. (The New York Times called it “the tomato freaks’ Woodstock.”) The website is not only the place to find dates and locations, it also contains a wealth of information for tomato growers.

 

 

Anyhoo, we’ve been hitting Tomatomania for quite a while now, and it’s always exciting. Food dorks that we are, it leads to one of those natural highs that happen to those of us who are tweaked in just the right way. And we love it!

 

 

This year’s event promised over 200 varieties (!) of plants and that is about 190 too many, friends. Our tiny tomato plot usually holds 8 plants, along with some basil and lettuce varieties. And I don’t care how exciting those seedlings may be, I can’t squeeze any more plants into that plot without compromising on growing room and quality.

 

With that in mind, I had to reign Mister in this year. It’s usually just me hitting the sale, and I’ve learned to take my time while looking over the varieties, allowing myself to settle into the scene. That way I don’t overbuy. But this was Mister’s first time actually going to Tomatomania. And I’ll tell ya, I think that guy fell squarely into the mania portion.

 

Before I knew it, we had chosen our 8 allotted plants and Mister was still looking! So I had to (calmly) talk him down. I reminded him of our space limitations and offered the option to add 2 more plants, if we sacrificed lettuce. As last year’s lettuce never really took, he opted for tomatoes. I like the choice, as previous years have blessed us with beautiful bounties.

 

 

So the plan is to get those babies in the ground over the next few days, after preparing the soil, of course. That’s more exhausting than the planting, really, and that’s what I’ll be doing for 2 days. But I’m looking forward to it. Digging in the dirt always does something to put my mind straight. I don’t know if it’s the recollection of working in Granny’s and Papa’s garden when I was a kid, the meditative aspect, or those brilliant earthworms. It’s probably a combination of all 3 and then some, and I’m good with that.

 

Once we’ve gotten everything planted, I’ll post some photos so you can see just how beautiful our tiny tomato garden can be. I’m feeling the tomato love already…

 

Oh, Krispy Kreme – How Do I Love Thee?

 

 

 

When I was a kid growing up in the American South, Krispy Kreme doughnuts were everywhere. I don’t remember going to a dedicated storefront, but I do recall being able to buy those sugar boosts in the grocery store. They were commonplace, and I definitely took them for granted.

 

Many years later, having moved around the country and not so much as eyeballed a Krispy Kreme for eons, it was quite the big deal when The Kreme set up shop in Southern California. Not only did I wait in line for several hours for the grand opening (it was about 108 degrees that day, too), I also wrote an essay entitled “Ode To A Doughnut” that, I was told, Krispy Kreme marketing used for promotion. Now, I have no idea if that’s true or not, but it doesn’t matter. For that opening held something greater for me than an essay and heat stroke. That’s when I started a little birthday tradition for myself. And it reinforces everything about me that is food dork and derned fool.

 

Here’s what I do on my actual birthday: I head over to the Krispy Kreme store – usually alone – I walk in, hold my arms open wide and announce quite loudly, “I’m here for my birthday doughnut!”

 

 

 

Now friends, this wouldn’t be so strange if the employees knew me. It wouldn’t be so strange if they remembered me from the previous year. Heck, I’m pretty sure it’s someone different working there each time I go in. All of this adds up to yes, it’s strange. Yes, I’m strange. But I digress…

 

Anyway, I go in and order 2 doughnuts (that’s right – 2) – 1 original Glazed and 1 Kreme-filled with Chocolate Icing. I also get myself a coffee, and then they usually throw in another doughnut, as it’s my birf-day, and I end up taking that one home. I sit there in the shop and enjoy that coffee and those doughnuts like nobody’s business. By the time I’ve finished, have thanked everyone and am leaving, I’ve got them all smiling (hopefully with me and not at me). As I head out the door, I call out a boisterous, “See you next year!”

 

 

It’s dorky, I know. But it’s tradition. And hey, I’m dorky. And in my little world, I’m a tradition. Three cheers for dorks!

 

Do you have any birthday traditions?

Little Mikki

 

 

I love this photo. I was 9 or 10 and I think that smile is the real deal. As this is my birthday, I thought I’d look at this photo and list a few things I experienced at that tender age…

 

1. I found an old 2X4 at an abandoned construction site down the road, and dragged it home. I put it on the ground beside the carport and practiced on my newfound “balance beam.” Nadia Comaneci was huge to girls my age and I so wanted to be like her. I was never to take a gymnastics or dance class in my youth, though I desperately wanted to. That old piece of wood helped me pretend.

 

2. From the same aforementioned abandoned construction site, I also dragged home a few sheets of plywood. My sisters and I wanted a tree house in our backyard. Knowing we wouldn’t get any help at all from a parent, we hoisted two plywood sheets up and nailed one down as our seating area, and then nailed the other overhead for shelter. It was crude and, no doubt, dangerous. And I absolutely loved it.

 

3. There were a couple of boys down the street, and they were, well, just boys. The oldest was a year younger than me and a year older than my sister. His little brother was two years his junior. Anyway, one day they were picking on my sister and they went too far: they pushed her down. Right in front of me. And they shouldn’t oughta done that, friends. You see, I was big-time into “Kung Fu.” Though the show’s run had already ended, I was well-versed in re-runs and that show was one of my favorites. So, without giving it a lot of thought, I braced myself and hi-ya! kicked that boy in the stomach. Once he was able to catch his breath, he and his brother ran home and told their dad what had happened. My sister and I didn’t tell anyone, lest we’d have to go cut our own switches. We just hoped it was all over. It wasn’t. Those boys’ dad came down the street and had a talk with our father. We heard the man saying he expected us to be severely punished for what we had done. Now, our father wasn’t gonna win any parenting prizes, but I did appreciate what he told the boys’ dad. He told him he should be more concerned about the fact that his sons were picking fights with little girls. And then, just to stir the pot, he threw in, “And you should be worried about the fact that your boys got beat up by little girls.” Those boys didn’t mess with us ever again.

 

4. Probably while wearing the very same green bikini shown above, I hurt myself in an ugly way. We had a metal-sided, above-ground pool in our backyard. It was only a couple of feet high, and I was running and jumping over the side, splashing into the water. Actually, let me accurately describe the pool’s siding: the top of the wall was raw, rusty metal. It was old and rough. But it was a pool. And we were poor. Anyway, I made a run at the pool, and jumped over the side. It was all so smooth, except for where my leg caught on the bare metal. A huge chunk of flesh was scooped out of the front of my ankle. There was a lot of blood. And a lot of laughter. That was my whack-job family for you. My ankle was wrapped up (there was no chance of stitches), and that was that. The pool lost a lot of its luster for me after that. And I carry a big, old scar on my ankle to this day.

 

5. Speaking of scars, it was also about that time that I decided I wanted to learn to skateboard.  I had a bright yellow board and I guess I was fearless, because I got on that thing and headed straight down a hill. And I stayed up. And I was moving, yeah boy! The street just kept going and I kept getting faster and faster. I could see a bend in the road ahead and had absolutely no idea how to turn. I did the only thing I could – I hit the curb and flew off into the woods. We had no idea what helmets or pads were, so I got pretty beaten up with that fall. My left knee bears the scar I earned that day.

 

I have many, many memories of my life at the time of that green bikini. School memories, home memories, family memories. I guess this photo just reminds me of things that happened outside the house, in that scraggly yard. I’d like to tell you there were more beautiful moments, but I don’t have a lot of those. That’s just the way it went down.

 

I suppose the greatest thing I get from seeing this photo now is the love I feel for that kid. I wish I could tell her she’ll make it. I wish I could tell her to trust her instincts and herself. I wish I could go back in time and give her all the love she needed and deserved. I guess I’ll just have to do my best to love her now. And to wish her the happiest of birthdays. She was a good kid. She still is.

There’s No Place Like Home

 

 

 

I, like a lot of you, adore The Wizard of Oz. It’s just one of those crazy movies that we cling to. I never read the book, and honestly, I don’t know if there’s a follow-up.

 

But I’ve wondered. After Dorothy recovered from the ill-effects of that twister, was she still wearing the ruby red slippers? And what did she do with them then?

 

I like to imagine Dorothy did have the slippers after returning home. I like to think she went on to live a full, beautiful life in Kansas. And I like to believe that having had that spectacular adventure in Oz enabled her to appreciate all life has to offer. No matter which shoes she might wear.

 

This is my painted version of Dorothy’s closet. Since I used my own shoes in the staging, maybe it’s my life I’m envisioning after all. I’m clicking my heels right now…

Trying to Grow

 

 

It never ceases to amaze me, the way things want to grow here. And by here, I mean here, in Southern California. While beautiful, green areas abound, much of the native terrain is arid. If left to its own devices, my entire ‘hood would go back to being mostly desert.

 

 

At any rate, the fact that so much Spring activity is bursting all around is a glorious reminder that all things want to grow. All things.

 

When I stepped outside my backdoor late last night, the smell of Jasmine hung so heavily in the cold air, it nearly pushed me aside. It needn’t have tried so hard. I allowed it to conquer and to sway. I can hardly wait to drown in it tonight.