This made me smile: Week of June 1st edition

Nirvana was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this April.  Joan Jett, Kim Gordon, Annie Clark, and Lorde joined Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, and Pat Smear on stage for a few numbers.

Here’s Joan Jett with Smells Like Teen Spirit:

Speaking of Annie Clark, here’s St. Vincent’s mind-blowing performance on SNL. Words fail me. I must see her live.

Missed Connections for A-Holes from the The New Yorker. I literally LOLed at the TJs one.

This genius photoshop mashup of Hokusai and Cookie Monster created by redditor Put_It_All_On_Red (explanation here): Sea is for Cookie

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Now you understand
Just why my head’s not bowed.
I don’t shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing,
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It’s in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
’Cause I’m a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

Maya Angelou, “Phenomenal Woman” from And Still I Rise

Maya Angelou, renaissance woman: poet, dancer, singer, actress. Inspiration. Master of human connection. Mentor. And she worked, she worked, did she ever work. I remember in a junior high school assembly one of my classmates performing Phenomenal Woman and feeling the unfamiliar presence of something powerful and frightening and exciting and, oh, is this what poetry can be? Can several dozen rhyming words really light that kind of fire in a young girl’s heart? Yes, they can. Amazing.

When she passed away last week, I immediately thought of an article I read in The Guardian about Angelou’s meeting Madhur Jaffrey (another phenomenal woman) for an intimate dinner in London in 2005. I was struck by the way these two connected over their similarities, the way the conversation zoned in on familiar topics — how awkward they both felt as young women, how determined each was to leave home and find her own way. The conversation about unabashedly loving iceberg lettuce (or really, loving anything despite what “they” say) is particularly relatable.

Read the article here: When Maya met Madhur


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His name was always Buddy




Today was RSD, and my beloved stood in line for an hour to fetch me this:

drive in saturdaybowie recordIMG_1342 Drive-In Saturday. This song is still somewhat of a hidden treasure, and it remains my one of my very favorites.  As a pre-teen, I found it on the B-side of one of my mom’s tapes, and I was hooked. I could never quite solve the riddle of the lyrics, and who Buddy and Twig the Wonderkid were (though she knows she really loves him), but I knew how it made me feel. It was strange and sweet, the combination of Bowie’s crooning voice, doo-wop backup vocals, whining nuclear sirens, and a swaying, nostalgic beat.

After many years, and thanks to the Internet, the riddle was solved: The song was written on an evening train ride from Seattle to Phoenix, apparently inspired by the nighttime void outside the window, and the occasional strange lights dancing around in the dark. It’s about a post apocalyptic world where people have forgotten how to get it on, but luckily for our young couple, there are some old pornos laying around for reference. Presumably, they triumph.

But there’s also a sad vignette about an old man, presumably forgotten, no longer needed. (He reminds me of the librarian in the futuristic Twilight Zone episode, who is obsolete and must be put to death.) With snorting head he gazes to the shore/Which once had raised a sea that raged no more/Like the video films we saw.

This record was a special gift, made even better by the choice for side two. It plays the live version of the song where “Jagger stared in people’s eyes and scored.”



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lovely little lambies

mile high

the mile high lamb slider


topped with feta

topped with feta

add red onion, tomato, curry ketchup, and put it on a brioche bun

add red onion, tomato, curry ketchup, and put it on a brioche bun



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seek beauty

Tulip, via Vintage Printable


Today I spent a good two hours looking through Vintage Printable, Swivelchair’s impressive collection of out-of-copyright antique illustrations. You can find out what this website is all about right here, and please do if you plan on downloading or printing any of these gems.


Here are some of my favorites, and thank you Swivelchair for all the time and work you put into this site. It is appreciated.
Botanical-Mushroom-Histilina-hepatica-Schaeff. Animal-Curiosity-Coral-Italian-2-662x1000 Botanical - Flower - Peonies, study Botanical - Anatomy - Root with holes, longitudinalBotanical-Artichoke-Italian




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Seared duck breasts (and right hand) with dried cherry sauce & potato pancakes


seared duck breast, cherries, potato pancakes


First, this is why we always place a towel on the handle of a saute pan that has just been pulled from the oven:


seared right hand, not so appetizing

seared right hand, not so appetizing

seared duck breast, worlds more appealing

seared duck breast, worlds more appealing


In my short time working in kitchens, I was so in-your-face about safety. “Hey, hot handle! Towel!” is what I’d yell during service when one of the cooks carelessly set a searing-hot pan on the counter and walked away. And in my home kitchen, I’ve always (always) slipped a glove over the hot handle as soon as it was out of the oven. But last night, drink in hand, deep in conversation with the Bear, I forgot where and who I was. Seconds later, I lifted that heavy and terribly hot thing a couple of inches in the air before the pain registered.

But despite the burns and the few hours I spent dipping my hand in cool water, last night’s meal was one of my very favorites. The duck was seared on the skin side for several minutes, and as that beautiful golden fat rendered from the skin, I spooned it onto the pan on the next burner over, which was waiting to fry up some potato pancakes. To go with the duck, I made a pan sauce with Sherry and this dried Chukar Cherries assortment of Bings, Rainiers, and Montmorency tarts.

Remember kids, always be mindful of hot panhandles in the kitchen, and always, always use your duck fat.


searing skin side down

searing skin side down

duck fat transfer

duck fat transfer

they're sizzlin' baby

they’re sizzlin’ baby

sliced, with cherry sauce spooned over

go ahead, baby


Seared Duck Breast with Sherry and Dried Cherry Pan Sauce

duck breasts
salt and pepper
dried cherries (fresh would work)
dry sherry (Port would work great here as well)

Preheat oven to 375.

Rinse the duck breasts and pat them ever so dry. Score the skin in a cross-hatch pattern, making sure not to pierce the meat. Salt and pepper the skin side.


scored duck

scored duck


Put a tablespoon of butter in your oven-proof saucepan and get it nice and hot on the stove before you place the duck breasts, skin-side down in it. If you’re making the potato pancakes, have another frying pan out; as the fat renders from the skin, spoon it into the pan next door. (If you’re not making potatoes to go with the duck, spoon the fat into a small container and keep it in the fridge until you’re ready to make some mind-blowing potatoes).

Fry the breasts until the skin-side is golden brown and crisp and flip. Sear the other side for a few minutes, and place in the oven. At this point, my duck spent almost 10 minutes in the oven, and it came out only ever-so-slightly pink in the center — I could have taken them out a minute or two sooner. You’ll have to adjust the timing depending on the thickness of the breasts, and your personal preference for doneness. (Also, it is at this point that I start frying the potato pancakes. I have a cookie sheet waiting for the done ones, so that they can sit in a hot oven while they are waiting to be served. This keeps them from getting limp before service.)

Make the sauce: when your breasts are done, take them out of the hot pan and set them aside to rest. Pour off all but a couple tablespoons of duck fat, splash a liberal amount of Sherry and stock in the pan, and add a handful of dried cherries. As the liquid heats up, deglaze the pan and let the cherries simmer for a few minutes until they soften. Add salt and pepper, and take off the heat. Let sit for a minute, and then whisk in a tablespoon of cold butter.


shred the potatoes

julienned potatoes

and sweet onion

put them together with some egg and flour, salt and pepper

put them together with some egg and flour, salt and pepper

fry in duck fat

and fry in duck fat



Potato Pancakes

a few larger Yukon Golds
less than half of a sweet onion
2 eggs
4 heaping TBSP flour
duck fat and butter
salt and pepper

Wash, peel, and shred your potatoes and onion and put them in a bowl (I used a mandoline to finely julienne mine, and I liked how the shreds were wider than normal, while still being very thinly cut.) Blot or squeeze the potato mixture dry, though there shouldn’t be too much liquid if you’re using Yukons. Salt and pepper, add the eggs and flour, and mix it all up.

Make sure your oven is hot, and have a sheet pan ready to receive the cooked potato pancakes. While the duck is cooking in the oven, start frying these up in the hot duck fat (I added a little butter to the duck fat). I salt and pepper mine again at this point. Pop the cooked pancakes in the oven when the duck is out and resting. Serve with sour cream and applesauce.



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Teff Wraps and Black Bean, Feta, & Slaw Tacos

Sonoma teff wraps


In PCC yesterday, I came across these Sonoma gluten-free wraps. Right off the bat: I am  not gluten intolerant, and, as such, do not regularly buy products labeled gluten free. But these wraps jumped out at me because of the inclusion of one very special ingredient: teff.

You Ethiopian-food-lovers out there will recognize this as the main ingredient in injera, the sour, spongy flatbread you use to stuff mouthfuls of all that wonderful wot into your salivating maw. (Do you live in or around Seattle? Go to Lucy in Shoreline.) Everyone else: if you’re too lazy to go to Wikipedia yourself, teff is a grain in the lovegrass family that originated in or around Ethiopia way, way back when. Another tidbit: the word teff means “lost” in Amharic (you guessed it, this is a language spoken in Ethiopia) because the grains are so minuscule that, if you drop them on the ground, good luck finding them again.

I got the wraps home and tested them out in my version of this Bon Appetit gem: Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Cabbage Slaw. I have to give credit to the wonderful Smitten Kitchen, because this is where I first came across this tasty vegetarian recipe a few years ago. The combination of the coleslaw and feta and black beans is dynamite, and it’s fairly quick to throw together after work.

The wraps performed well. They have a great texture and they fry up nice and crisp, while remaining quite chewy and pliable. Unlike other not-white-flour tortillas, they didn’t get too stiff, and they didn’t remind me of seeded cardboard. When you read the ingredients you can see why they’re so chewy — it’s the tapioca flour. Also, in addition to the tapioca and teff, these contain millet flour, and, strangely, cultured corn syrup solids.  From what I’ve read, this appears to be a preservative (mold inhibitor) rather than a sweetener.

The wraps do have a bit of a different taste to them that lets you know you are not eating refined white flour — but that taste is delicate, and not too noticeable when your wrap is filled with flavorful ingredients like hot sauce and feta. Another plus is that they are more filling than a flour or corn tortilla — I found one wrap to be satisfying, and I wasn’t craving another. Overall, a nice product that this gluten-eating girl would buy again sometime.

Sonoma Gluten-Free Wraps
Ingredients: water, tapioca flour, whole grain ivory teff flour, whole grain millet flour, expeller pressed canola oil, soy lecithin, cultured corn syrup solids, colloid powder (cellulose gum, maltodextrin, carrageenan), contains less than 2% of the following: guar gum, sea salt, honey, aluminum-free leavening (monocalcium phosphate, sodium bicarbonate, corn starch)

black bean feta and slaw wraps

trust me, there are black beans under all that


Black Bean Wraps with Coleslaw and Feta
adapted from Smitten Kitchen and Bon Appetit

refried or loose canned black beans
green and red cabbage, sliced thin
red onion, fine dice
sour cream
red wine vinegar
juice of one lime
avocado, sliced
radish, thinly sliced
wraps/tortillas of your fancy
hot sauce(s)

Warm your beans. Put the sliced cabbage in a bowl with some of the diced onion.

Mix up some coleslaw dressing: buttermilk, a dollop of sour cream and one of mayo, a splash of red wine vinegar, and the lime juice. Throw some of the diced onion in there, and season with plenty of pepper. Pour this over your bowl of cabbage, and set aside. (Note: If I’m using red cabbage, I don’t mix this up thoroughly, and I don’t make it ahead of time because the whole thing turns purple and it doesn’t look very appetizing.)

Put a couple of large spoons of beans in a tortilla, fold it in half and place it in a heated and oiled frying pan (just a half tablespoon of oil will do here). Fry on both sides just until the tortilla is browned and a little bubbly. Plate it, fill it with as much coleslaw and feta as your heart desires, and add cilantro, avocado, and radish slices. Top with one or two hot sauces (it was Secret Aardvark and Mezzetta’s habanero last night).

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Internet, you are making me hungry: a list

fork plate


The Essential Guide to Dim Sum: True story: I learned two little Chinese words – har gow – because it is my very favorite kind of dim sum and I thought it was important to know how to ask for it. Sometimes those aunties want to push the pork when all a girl wants is some big, fat shrimp. Looks like I need to add yu jiao to my repertoire, but please hold the tau zi fung zao.

The Ramen Rater’s Top 10 Instant Noodle Bowls from Around the World: Glad to see that two of my favorites – Nong Shim and Sapporo chow mein — made the list. Next time I’m at Unwajimaya I’ll have to see if I can find his #1 pick, the Indomie Special Fried Curly Noodles. (And while you’re at it Ramen lovers, get lost in this guy’s site for a while.)

Uni Hot and Cold: This is just…wow. Sex on chopsticks: uni wrapped in a shiso leaf, dipped in tempura batter and fried to a light crisp. Dirty, melty, dirty sex on chopsticks. Seeing an entire box of the tongue-like uni on display like that is so extravagant it gives me the vapors.

Gabrielle Hamilton and her Chicken-Fried Sweetbreads: No pictures to drool over here, but a loving description of the dish, its connection to the chef’s childhood, and a metaphor for life. One quote from this story struck a chord with me:

As a woman working in kitchens, I spent years trying to be strong and tough, smoking unfiltered cigarettes, eating raw steak, drinking bourbon, ignoring burns on my hands, all to prove myself to the ”boys.” That side of my personality, like some unnecessary gland, has shrunk over the years. Now I know who I am.

My favorite sweetbreads memory is that of the late Chef Scott Simpson’s Kung Pao preparation at his wonderful and fleeting restaurant Fork. His sweetbreads remain the gold standard for me: crisp, tender, sweet, and ephemeral.

Monk’s Head Flowers, Maker’s Mark, Fig Compote: Another unforgettable story from Luxirare. Really, this entire post could have been made up of links to this woman’s blog. I learned a new word today: Girolle. It curls the Tete de Moine into exquisite blossoms that apparently melt in your mouth. Sigh. Must try.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi: I dream of Jiro’s sushi, and of his poor oldest son who just wanted to be a race-car driver. This doc is about Jiro Ono, his legendary, Michelin-3-starred restaurant, and his two sons (in that order). Two things I learned from this: octopus for sushi must be massaged/have the living shit beaten out of it (for up to 50 minutes in Jiro’s kitchen by one of the apprentices), and that cooking rice under enormous amounts of pressure is a real thing that at least one person on earth still does. No rice cookers here.





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Hello 2013

2013 amaryllis

I woke this morning to the most beautiful, clear sunny day we’ve had in weeks. Apparently a little sun was all my stubborn amaryllis needed to finally open up.

Happy New Year, world.

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Happy New Year, Pig Face


pig face

New Year’s Eve: New pajamas, Prosecco, my favorite person in the world right next to me, and the Twilight Zone marathon on the tube…does life get any better?

Every year I’m surprised that the Sci-Fi network even continues to run this marathon. I can count on one hand the people I know who will admit to watching these — and they’re all well over the target audience for this network. But these episodes, they’re brilliant –all at once intriguing, wistful, soul-searching, and at times outrageously silly. You can tell that Serling and his elite group of writers dug deep into their childhood for a lot of these. There’s comeuppance, lots of scary-ass dolls, a few really nice dolls, and even some happy endings, but there’s always that twist. And every once in a while, you’re like, “look, there’s (insert famous actor’s name here*)!”

My heart will sink for poor Henry Bemis, a kindred spirit, for whom there was time enough at last:

there is timethere was time

I’ll cheer when Talking Tina offs Telly, aka The Worst Stepfather in the World:

talking tina

And I’ll think about writing a fanfic where Tina meets up with this bad seed:

bad seed

My money’s on the doll.






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