Thursday Memories

 

 

This is me in the late 1980s. Or maybe 1990. I’m not quite sure. Either way, this photo was taken before I’d learned to cook. That is apparent, right?

 

It’s funny to think about, but I didn’t always know how to cook. I always liked good food, but making it myself took time and practice. (A lot of time and practice, I might add.) I haven’t had any ravioli from a can in so long, I can’t remember when that stopped. And though I can actually imagine wanting such things (such as when I’m tired or sick), I probably wouldn’t buy them. I think the salt content alone would freak me out. I’m pretty much ruined for pre-made goods. I’ve spoiled myself with good food! Argh!

 

I guess if I really think about it, I was destined to learn how to cook. I remember standing by Granny Vera’s side and watching her make biscuits. The alchemy she practiced with flour, lard and buttermilk was astounding. And it worked every time. I never saw her measure a thing and yet those biscuits never disappointed.

 

Studying Granny Vera’s process hasn’t led to my being able to make her awesome biscuits. But I can make a mean Beef Wellington. So I must’ve learned something, somewhere along the line. And for that  I’m grateful.

Beauty

 

 

The other day, as I tried to navigate my grief over the death of Prince, I found myself at a supermarket, standing before a bin of the most beautiful peppers I’ve ever seen. They were striped and gorgeous.

 

Life is like that. You can be so far down in the dumps that you’d have to climb a ladder to see daylight, and something beautiful will appear before you, almost magically, to remind you that the world is made of more than woe. The trick is to actually see that beauty when it appears, to actually take it in. Otherwise, grief can consume you. And living is so much better than stifled existence. I swear it.

 

I didn’t buy even one of those beautiful peppers. But I knew enough to take a moment and snap a pic. I was able to understand what a gift that vision was. To appreciate it and the moment.

 

This is the last week of April. I’d like to try and spy with my little eye as much beauty as I can before May arrives. And if I’m good – and lucky – I’ll keep going, into next month. And beyond.

Running on Empty

 

 

Last week I came upon this empty fridge and it was funny. And sad. And stark. And clean. And then funny again, as the bubbles were left open to the elements (no cork) and the small plate on the top shelf held a single, shriveled jalapeno pepper.

 

I can’t remember the last time our fridge was this empty. And for that, I’m grateful. Truth is, we have plenty to eat. And when I think about that in a larger context, it breaks my heart. That’s why I offer to buy food for beggars. And why I often cook food for a monthly charity dinner. On those occasions, while my actions may actually be the most I can do, I feel as if I’m doing the least I can. It’s tricky.

 

But back to the empty fridge shown above. It wasn’t as sad as it may appear, as it was in a seldom-used kitchen in a large building. Only a couple of employees have access to this particular fridge. And a swell guy there told me the old jalapeno was his. He even planned to eat it. Absolutely no one stepped forward to claim the flat bubbles, however. And I don’t blame them.

She Sure Can Cook

 

 

Friday was Mister’s birf-day and he got a nice dinner. Saturday night found us ordering in – pizza. Sunday Supper was pretty spectacular, too.

 

 

I am sometimes reminded of the old song, “If You Wanna Be Happy” by Jimmy Soul. It’s not that I think I’m ugly or anything, especially because I have a loving heart, and that’s the sort of thing that goes a long way toward making a person reasonably attractive. But the truth is – I sure can cook. And Mister knows it. So back off, bitches! He’s mine and unless you’re prepared to bring it on the food front, you don’t stand a chance.

 

I Knew It All Along, Philippe’s

 

 

A couple of days ago I read a piece about the true origins of The French Dip sandwich. For those of you not familiar with L.A. lore, The French Dip was invented here (for reals). But there has been a long-running dispute about the sandwich’s creator. Many thanks to Thrillist for its piece and clarification. (It’s worth the read, if you’re a food dork.)

 

As for me – someone who’s had both contenders – the truth comes as no surprise. I knew it all along. And now that the guessing game is over, I may have to make my way downtown to Philippe’s for a treat…

 

Happy Easter

 

 

For those who find religious meaning in today, forgive me. For in this day, I find Ham.

 

And I shall be eating ham today, and loving it. Trying a new recipe. We’ll see what happens.

 

No matter how you choose to spend your day, I hope it’s grand.

My Just Reward

 

 

Earlier this week I had some errands to run over in another part of town. You know – away from home. So I started mentally planning my trip and realized I could turn it into a bike ride. I mean – I have baskets for cry-eye – why not? So on the appointed day, I kicked the tires and took off.

 

The round trip was only about 15 miles, but that was a nice bit of exercise and I checked something off my to-do list. Right smack dab in the middle of the ride, I started getting hungry. So I began looking around for a little restaurant and a bike rack.

 

I found plenty of places to eat, but bike racks? Not so much. I couldn’t understand that, but hey – this is L.A. We love our cars, people. So I kept riding. I passed place after place, good food after good food, but no bike racks. Finally, I remembered a craft beer joint nearby. I also remembered how the owner is a biker and had bike racks installed out front for his customers. I rode to the bar, secured my wheels, went in and found a spot at the jam-packed counter and placed my order. The ‘tender asked if I wanted to run a tab or close out my order. I looked and him and said, “Dude! I can’t ride drunk! Close that bitch!” He laughed and brought me my check.

 

Now you’d think I was most looking forward to my food – a smoked duck and bacon sausage lunch special. And I was hungry and the food was good. But my just reward for all that biking? A beautiful wild ale.

 

 

I figured that beer would last me through my food and then some, but I started talking with the chick seated beside me and my food took a little longer than expected and before you knew it, I signaled the ‘tender and said, “Dude! Open that bitch! I need another drink!” We all had a good laugh and easy conversation continued. Before long, it was time to go. The ‘tender high-fived me on my way out and the counter chick and I exchanged our good-byes. I walked outside, unlocked my bike and headed home.

 

It was a good day. It really was.

Almost Perfect

 

 

You ever have one of those nights where the stars align? Where you find yourself with plans to beat all plans?

 

 

Over the weekend, Mister and I went to dinner at a less than a year old joint called Birch. Located in Hollywood, it’s across the street from the Hotel Cafe, where Mister and I were slated to see a show that night. For those of you who aren’t local, let me tell you how thrilled we were to know we could simply park once, instead of shuffling around and searching for multiple, elusive spots. The night was looking good.

 

 

So we got to Birch for our rezzie and I admit, we were pretty excited. There’s been a lot of amazing press for the British chef running this place, Brendan Collins. And based on our visit, he deserves each and every accolade. We tried a variety of dishes and all were memorable. Honestly, everything we tried was aces – and then some. Unfortunately, when I made the reservation on Open Table, they listed the restaurant as being a “tapas” scene, so Mister and I over-ordered, thinking we were getting small plates. But we did not get small plates. We got full servings of beautiful, fabulous food. And before we knew it, we’d eaten all of it and it was so, so good and each morsel led to oooos and aaaahs and we were already talking about coming back and maybe we could hit the Sunday Roast and isn’t that good and what a surprise this is and oh my goodness – my pants are too tight. Phew! To our credit, we did resist ordering dessert (and I really, really wanted to try that Skillet Toffee Pudding). We finished dinner and waddled across the street, saying in one breath how great our dinner had been, and in the very next breath saying how bloated we were.

 

 

We got to The Hotel Cafe with a few minutes to spare before our friends in Sweet Talk Radio took the stage. This talented duo bring such beautiful entertainment to their fans, and they’re wonderful human beings to boot. So Mister and I were super-enjoying the concert, as we expected, when I started to feel a little warm and thought I should step outside. When I reached the lobby, I saw the ladies room across the way and headed toward it. I felt woozy, which was odd, as I wasn’t drunk. I tried to make it to the door, one slow step at a time. When I finally placed my hand on the door, it was locked. I leaned against the adjacent wall and tried to focus my vision. And that’s when I started to fall. I slid down the wall and hit the floor. I looked around and saw other club-goers, drinking and chatting. And that was it. I fainted. Next thing I knew, 3 employees were talking to me and asking if I was okay. I remember saying I was really hot and dizzy. The chick asked if I needed to use the restroom and I said yes. She told me to keep the door unlocked, in case she needed to come in and check on me. I obeyed and somehow managed to navigate that process without falling down. When I left the ladies room, I was escorted over to a seat and given some water. To their credit, the folks at Hotel Cafe were just swell. I sat for only a few minutes, under their watchful eyes, and then Mister came out and freaked a little bit before helping me to the car and driving me home.

 

I can’t remember the last time I fainted before this. It’s simply not a common occurrence. I also can’t remember the last time I was so stuffed I needed Oompa Loompas to roll me to the juicing room. It was crazy. And perfect. Almost perfect, that is.

 

You ever have one of those nights where the stars align? Where you find yourself with plans to beat all plans? And have you ever had a single star that refused to get in line, refused to cooperate? That was how our night went. And it was almost perfect.

And Then That Happened…

 

 

What a weekend! Mister’s mama and daddy came into town to watch the Super Bowl, to celebrate Mister’s mama’s birthday and to hang out in the beautiful SoCal weather.

 

After arriving Friday afternoon, we all had a stay-at-home dinner on Friday night. It was relaxing and it was comfortable and sometimes you just need to sit around in your jammies and catch up. I’d have to say that was accomplished.

 

On Saturday, Mister had planned a surprise activity for his folks: making Polish sausage. Mister and I had done this a few years back and the experiment had been a lovely success. As the recipe comes from Mister’s daddy’s mama, it was only fitting to include him (and Mister’s mama) in the scene and as they had never made sausage from scratch, I think it was a unique experience for them. And when we were all finished, there was the bonus of having that sausage. To eat. Which we did.

 

 

On Saturday night, the 4 of us went to Holly-weird for a 2+ pound butt steak. (It was actually a ribeye, but butt steak is more fun to say.) I’m not kidding. We shared a 36-ounce steak! And it was beautiful. Thankfully it was also delicious. And as the restaurant had only one of those big boys in the house, it was a treat to have nabbed it. Ordinarily, we wouldn’t even consider such a dish. But it was Mister’s mama’s birthday (on Sunday), so it seemed appropriate to go all out and live a little. I mean a lot. Personally, I was glad to have worn stretchy pants.

 

 

And then there was Sunday. The big dance. The Super Bowl. Let me start by saying what a treat it was for Mister and for his daddy to be able to watch the game together. They regularly call each other during and after Broncos games and they keep up with the team. But they don’t get to watch together, so this really was a special treat.

 

Let me also say that Mister’s mama’s actual birthday was Sunday, but she knew where the focus would lie and so graciously agreed to celebrate the night before. It was a classy move and it was sweet.

 

Now. Not only did the Broncos win (woo-hoo!), we also ate an assortment of good food throughout the day, so that by the time Sunday evening arrived, we were all too pooped to pop. Well, that and we had been expending ridiculous amounts of psychic energy, trying to do our parts for the team. That’s how fans do, after all.

 

It was only a weekend, but it was one of those weekends that will stand out as having been special. One you know you won’t get again. Those are rare and they’re a gift. I’m glad I got to be a part of it. And that I have the memories.

 

Sometimes life is right on.

Football Food

 

 

I don’t know about you, but I’m gearing up for tomorrow’s sports-ball dance. And for me, that means lining up an array of eye and palate pleasing eats. I’m sure not one thing on my plate will be healthy, but I can deal with that. The Super Bowl comes but once a year, and if ever there was a day that called for chicken wings, this is it!