My New Favorite Beer

 

 

For a few years now, there’s been quite a beer-culture buzz. A revival, if you will. Craft brews are readily available at bars, restaurants and local markets. It’s a good thing. The folks making these fine beverages are artisans (for the most part), and they love their medium.

 

So do I. And I recently discovered a new-to-me brew that is just fabulous. In my opinion, it’s the perfect summer beer. It’s light, refreshing and has a subtle yet divine flavor.

 

The brewmasters at Estrella Damm – in Spain – have teamed with the “best chef in the world”: Ferran Adrià (also a Spaniard). They’ve produced Inedit, which is (they claim) the first beer created specifically to pair with food.

 

I don’t know if they’re the first, and I doubt they’ll be the last, but this beer is wonderful with food. It doesn’t overpower. It doesn’t compete. And yet it’s just so danged lovely!

 

When we popped this one at Beer Club, I had a hard time sharing. But I did. Because, well, it’s nice to share. And because really, I just wanted others to know about my new favorite beer!

A Well-Lived Life

 

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”

John Augustus Shedd

(1859 – unknown)

 

 

This painting was a lot of fun. I loved working on the shadows. And the rust. Looking at a close-up of a rusty ship isn’t common. And yet I think the painting captures the experience quite well.

 

I waited a long time before calling this painting “finished.” What was missing? The quote. Once I found that, I knew I could apply the text and call this one done.

 

I titled the painting “A Well-Lived Life” as a reminder to myself. To me, this ship has sailed the world and seen it all. The old gal has the battle scars to prove it, too.

 

And you know what? Those scars and that rust are what make her so lovely. I’m glad she left the harbor. At the end of my life, I hope I can claim to have done the same.

Going For It

 

 

While at a Beer Club meeting, one of our more observant members pointed out an awesome plant in the vicinity. Commonly known as a “Century Plant,” this beauty was putting on a show.

 

I had heard of this plant and its swan song bloom, but had never taken the time to really look at it. And I’d certainly never bothered to read up on the specimen.

 

“Agave Americana” doesn’t actually live for a century. The lifetime of the plant is somewhere between 10 and 30 years. But here’s the kicker: the plant does flower only once, and it does indeed die after blooming.

 

And what a bloom! This particular flower spike was almost 30 feet high and strutting. I mean, these flowers couldn’t have been more stylin’ or profilin’. And I got the feeling the plant knew it.

 

I could go on and on about how, as humans, we get to bloom over and over again. And what a fantastic gift that is. And how, like the plant, maybe it’s okay for us to know when we’re at full bloom. But I won’t. Go on and on about it, that is.

 

Instead, I’ll just tell you I didn’t mind the Century Plant’s showy confidence. In fact, I rather appreciated it. This plant was going for it. And I gotta say, what a way to go.

“Beasts of the Southern Wild”

 

 

I went to see a film screening last night and wow! I didn’t know what to expect, as I knew so little about this film. Now that I’ve seen it, I don’t know what to say. It was loud. No, it was quiet. It was overpowering. But it wasn’t. It was gentle. I’m making a mess of this. Let me start again…

 

Tuesday evening, I attended a screening of “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” Later, at home, when I was falling asleep, I placed my hand over my heart and softly cried. I recognized I was caring for the child inside. I then began my nightly ritual of thanking God for at least 5 things from the day. I thanked God for “Beasts of the Southern Wild” – 5 times. That’s how much I appreciate this film. That’s how much it affected me. That’s how grateful I am for having seen this amazing art.

 

I can’t tell you if this is a movie for you or not. I only know that I pray “Hushpuppy” and “Wink” exist somewhere on this earthly plane, and are as real as can be. I also pray I never forget them.

 

Enough said.

Harvest

 

 

This is Saturday’s Harvest, on the kitchen windowsill. I am in love with the colors.

 

By the way, while I was out in the garden that morning, I plucked a flower from a crazy Passion vine. The flower started vibrating in my hand, and the first thing I thought was, “These danged things really are from outer space.”

 

Then a bee fell from behind the flower, and all was understood. I really rattled the poor little guy.

Kale-Potato Salad (and it’s Vegan!)

 

 

At Rock Camp for Girls L.A., we are fed well. And I do mean well. Last year, there was a particular lunch that just blew me away. I sat alone, as I was so intent on breaking down the potato salad and identifying its components. I have to say, the anti-social behavior paid off. I have now made this potato salad many times and I love, love, love it!

 

Here’s what you’ll need…

 

 

Red Potatoes, Kale, Onion, Cornichons, Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, Vegenaise (or regular Mayonnaise), Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

 

Wash the Potatoes and quarter them. (I cut these into eighths, as quarters were a little larger than I wanted.) Place them on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle Salt and Pepper over, then pour on the Olive Oil. Mix it all up with your hands and spread the potatoes out so that you have a single layer. Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven. Bake for 30 minutes, or until browned and cooked through.

 

 

While the potatoes are roasting, prepare the steamed Kale. Boil an inch or two of water in a pot with a fitted steamer basket and lid.

 

Clean the Kale. Wash the leaves and remove any tough stems. (If you’ve purchased bagged Kale, there may still be stems.) Chop the leaves into strips or bite-sized pieces.

 

 

Place the cleaned Kale in the steamer basket and set over the boiling water. Cover. Steam for 8 to 10 minutes. As you can see, I don’t own a steamer basket. But I do own a colander that fits perfectly inside a large pot. It never fails me.

 

 

While the Kale steams, cut the Cornichons into a fine dice.

 

 

Cut the Onion into a fine dice.

 

 

Cut the Chipotle Pepper into a fine dice. I don’t have a photo of this, because I didn’t have a danged Chipotle Pepper. I did have Chipotle Pepper paste, however, and it worked great. (I used 1.5 T. of paste.)

 

Remove Kale from heat and cool slightly. Drain well.

 

 

Remove roasted Potatoes from oven. They should be cooked through with some golden, crispy areas.

 

 

In a large bowl, toss roasted Potatoes, chopped Cornichons & Onion, chopped Chipotle & Adobo Sauce and Vegenaise.

 

 

Add steamed Kale and toss thoroughly.

 

 

Once it’s mixed, it should be seasoned perfectly. If you disagree, add more Salt or Adobo Sauce. For the record, I’ve never needed to add anything at this point.

 

 

Voila! Now you can claim a delicious vegan dish as part of your repertoire. And if you use regular mayo, you’re still making a vegetarian side. And what a side it is! There’s spice from the Adobo Sauce. There’s pretty (and, okay, health) from the Kale. There’s comfort from the potatoes. I’m so glad I took the time to dissect this dish when I first devoured it. And though my version will never be quite what the caterer concocted, it’s danged close. And danged mm-mmm good! Enjoy!

 

Here’s the printable…

Kale-Potato Salad (and it’s Vegan!)
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 5-6
 

Now you can claim a delicious vegan dish as part of your repertoire. And if you use regular mayo, you’re still making a vegetarian side. And what a side it is! There’s spice from the Adobo Sauce. There’s pretty (and, okay, health) from the Kale. There’s comfort from the potatoes. What’s not to love!
Ingredients
  • 1.5 lbs. Red Potatoes
  • ¼ t. Salt
  • ¼ t. Black Pepper
  • 3 T. Olive Oil
  • 12 c. cleaned Kale (or 10 oz. bag)
  • ½ c. diced Cornichons
  • ⅓ c. diced Onion
  • 1 Chipotle Pepper in Adobo Sauce, chopped
  • 1 T. Adobo Sauce
  • ⅔ c. Vegenaise (if vegan) or regular Mayonnaise

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Wash the Potatoes and quarter them. Place quarters on a large baking sheet. Sprinkle Salt and Pepper over, then pour on the Olive Oil. Mix it all up with your hands, spread in a single layer and place the baking sheet in the preheated oven. Bake for 30 minutes, or until browned and cooked through. When cooked, remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.
  3. While the potatoes are roasting, prepare the steamed Kale. Boil an inch or two of water in a pot with a fitted steamer basket and lid.
  4. Clean the Kale. Wash the leaves and remove any tough stems. (If you’ve purchased bagged Kale, there may still be stems.) Chop the leaves into strips or bite-sized pieces. Place the cleaned Kale in the steamer basket and set over the boiling water. Cover. Steam for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Drain well.
  5. Cut the Cornichons into a fine dice.
  6. Cut the Onion into a fine dice.
  7. Cut the Chipotle Pepper into a fine dice.
  8. In a large bowl, toss roasted Potatoes, chopped Cornichons & Onion, chopped Chipotle & Adobo Sauce and Vegenaise. Add steamed Kale and thoroughly toss. Once it’s mixed, it should be seasoned perfectly. If you disagree, add more Salt or Adobo Sauce.
  9. Serve warm or cold.

Notes
I often use bagged Kale because it’s easy. Loose Kale is also great. Please give Cornichons a try. Dill pickles may work, but they lack the flair of Cornichons. When using regular onion, I only add ⅓ c. diced. When using Vidalia Onion (which is the most supreme onion ever, Amen), I use an entire onion. It adds texture, yo! If you want more spice, by all means, add more Chipotle! I use Vegenaise because that’s what I keep on hand. Regular mayo is fine. It isn’t vegan, but it’s fine. Your call, Dude.

 

Him and I / She and Me

 

“I weep for the future.”

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Directed by John Hughes – 1986

 

 

Let me just say this: I am not without sin.

 

I make spelling mistakes. I make grammar mistakes. I make past-participle / conjugation / subject-predicate / and-everything-else mistakes. But it still bothers me.

 

And for the record, I do at least press the damned “spell-check” button before posting or sending emails. It’s there! Its entire purpose is to be used! It takes all of 3 seconds! And so, I fulfill its destiny. I press it. I heed its advice. Mostly.

 

If you’re thinking, “Mikki – what the? What prompted this hullabaloo?” Well, I’ll tell ya.

 

I read a post on the Wall Street Journal’s site. It struck a nerve. I wasn’t really affected by the Twitter references. Nor do I give much thought to texting and its language manipulation. I get character limits. Do the best with what you’ve got. Okay.

 

But business letters? Published books? Printed promotional materials? No. I do not accept grammar and spelling errors here. I can’t tell you how upsetting it is to be reading a book – printed by a major publishing company – and be jerked out of an author’s reality by the sight of misspelled words. Unintentionally misspelled words. When that happens, an editor should lose a job. Nothing should make it so far as to be published without first having been checked about a jillion times. (Yes, I’m choosing to let “jillion” slide.)

 

Now I’m rambling. And that can be just as bad as (if not worse than) poor grammar. I apologize. I tend to react emotionally to the dumbing-down of my country. And make no mistake, we are – as a whole – dumbing ourselves down. I don’t like it. I will not grow to like it. And that’s that.

 

So please forgive me for this tirade. I’ll try to not let it happen again. And if you’ve tallied unintentional errors in the above text, feel free to hold it against me. Your disappointment in me will surely pale in comparison to my own.

Just Go With It

 

 

Have you ever walked down a street or through a store, and caught sight of someone wearing the same, let’s say, jacket as you, and you think to yourself, “Hey! She’s wearing the same jacket as me! And look how cute she is in it!”, and then you realize you’re looking at a mirror (or a reflective building)?

 

Just go with it. Enjoy that moment of loving – and liking – yourself. Trust me – just go with it.

The Phantom Tollbooth

 

 

Yesterday I visited my young friend, Kyli, in the hospital. I wanted to bring her something other than a stuffed animal. Something other than a game. Then it came to me. I would bring her one of my very favorite books. Ever.

 

I first encountered The Phantom Tollbooth while visiting my friend Lorinda and her son, Tiny E. He had a version of the book in his room, and I picked it up and started reading. I was taken in by the first few chapters, and when I returned home, I went to the local li-berry and checked it out. I finished reading the book and just couldn’t believe how much I loved it.

 

Its effect has stayed with me, and I’ve given copies to several young friends over the years. But I’ve never bought a copy for myself. I’m not sure why, I just haven’t.

 

Anyway, when I arrived at the hospital, Kyli was sleeping. I looked out her window, at the “Hollywood” sign and Griffith Observatory, then sat and started reading the first few chapters of The Phantom Tollbooth. A few chapters were all it took to pull me back into “Milo’s” experience. Those few chapters were also all it took to bring happy tears to my eyes. I truly love this book.

 

If you’ve not read it, please consider doing so. Personally, I think it’s high time I claim my very own copy of The Phantom Tollbooth. Now that I’ve re-read the first few chapters, I simply must go along for the full ride.

 

As I said, I’ve given this book to quite a few friends. And now I’ve given a copy to Kyli, the Qwirkle Princess. I do hope she enjoys the trip. I know I will.

Lost & Found

 

 

I went digging in a cupboard a few days ago, looking for thread. Boy, did I find some.

 

Late last year, I had started embroidering an old pair of jeans. You know, giving them some spit and a promise. Perking them up. As is my wont, I spread my projects out all over the flippin’ place. That pair of jeans – along with my embroidery threads and tools – took over the dining room table. Since I’m slow, my sewing project became a fixture of the table.

 

At some point, I was expecting company and leaving the jeans on the table seemed, shall we say, déclassé. So I bagged up my threads, my template and my jeans and stored them in a cupboard. My plan was to resume sewing, right after my guests left. And right after my guests left, I promptly forgot all about those jeans. In fact, a couple of months ago I was looking for those very pants. When I couldn’t find them in my closet, I assumed I had donated them to goodwill. I am, at times, a major dork.

 

So now I’ve found the jeans I’d lost. And I’m back in embroidery mode. I’ll do my very best to actually finish this project. And I’ll also try hard to keep everything tidy in the process.

 

But hey, I didn’t just meet me. So I’m not making any promises here.