Miz Shoes

Can It Be?

Either the meds are working, the weather is conducive to creativity, I've turned a corner on my depression, or my naturally ebulient personality has finally quit hibernating.

For whatever reason, this week I have been bursting with energy and creativity.
Yes! It's true. I've been cooking up a storm, and just for the RLA and myself. It started with chocolate chip cookies to take to the (spit, spit) art show, continued on to yellow pepper soup (from the Silver Palate Cookbook, the one book that all cooks should have in the kitchen, in my not so humble opinion) accompanied by two loaves of Irish Soda Bread, and on to a delicious concoction of marinated chicken breasts last night.

The chicken dish is one of my own inventions, and I never make it the same way twice. Yesterday I marinated the chicken for a couple of hours in a mixture of fresh sour orange juice, chopped garlic, some of the mystery spice from Israel, olive oil and thyme.

The mystery spice from Israel is just that. I have no idea what is in it, exactly. One of my friends who was living in Jerusalem used to bring it to me when she visited the states. She'd buy it in a street market, and had no idea what it was, either. I've since found it in a Middle Eastern market locally, but they can't tell me the ingredients, either, and I found it by look and smell.

I'm pretty sure it includes cardomom. Maybe a little cinnamon and dried ginger. Maybe not. It's savory, and goes well in anything, especially brewed with coffee. I get this little frission like I'm drinking spice coffee from Dune. But that's just me.

Anyway, back to the chicken. I sauted onions and garlic in olive oil and butter. Added the chicken breasts and browned them. Added the marinade (I know, bad cook) and water to cover. Then added a little saffron and a little chicken stock granules. Covered and simmered until tender. Halfway through I added a handful of green olives. Served it up over a big heap of brown rice.

In addition to the cooking, I have finished a quilt for the RLA, and am finishing up another that's been in process for half a year.

I have two commissions in the pipeline for tallitsim.

I think, and it couldn't have happened any sooner, that I'm over the hump and into a new cycle of creativity.

Miz Shoes

2 Much Fun

The Fabulous RJ threw another fantastic party last night. An Alice in Wonderland-themed halloween do.
In attendence, the Queen of Hearts (RJ her own self, and looking absolutely divine), a Queen of Hearts with an accompanying executioner, 1 Knave of Hearts, 1 Old Father William (who would not balance an eel on his nose, nor allow us to stand him on his head, damn it), 2 Hookah Smoking Caterpillars (neither with a smoking hookah, damn it), 2 White Rabbits (one with fan and kid gloves), 2 Gardeners (complete with red paint... for the white roses), assorted playing cards, 1 Alice, and 2 Flamingos (with a squeeky hedgehog ball).

There was a croquet game set up in the back yard, with internally lit balls (trippy) and neon hoops. There was a spread.

Have I ever mentioned that the RJ is someone who cooks quite well, and understands that cooking is a competitive sport? Well, last night we had deviled eggs, a rose-shaped red velvet cake with little assistant rose-shaped cakelets, mushroom tarts (one side makes you taller), card suite-shaped canapes, and zombies. Many were drunk. Make of that sentence what you will.


Thanks, RJ. It was a swell evening.
Miz Shoes

Bite Me

So ClearChannel booted Howard Stern over having to pay a fine for his indecency. The indecency charges stemmed from a listener who was offended, and complained. Now there's a brouhaha about decency in the media.
Back when the RLA and I were living in Scorched Earth Hell, New Mexico (also known as Clovis), a bunch of righteous-minded folks got MTV banned from the cable, because they thought Madonna was indecent, and they didn't want their kids exposed to such things.

Well, for them, and for the listener who started this whole Howard Stern flap, let me suggest a little outrageous something: turn off the radio, or the tv. I'm not going to tie you down and force you to watch Deadwood, so why must you force your choice on me?

That's all this is, people: a frelling choice, you know? I mean, unless you were living under a rock for the past ten or fifteen years, you weren't tuning in to Howard for intellectual stimulation. The man has strippers on the radio, for dog's sake. Radio: by definition, a non-visual medium.

This whole thing reminds me of the scene in Casablanca, where Captain Renault is "shocked, shocked" to learn that there is gambling in Rick's, as he pockets his own winnings. What did you expect to find on Stern's show except sex, sex, and a little profanity? So don't bitch about it. Just turn it off.

That's what I do every time I see those smug bastards in the Bush administration on tv. I turn it off, and then I double check my calendar to make sure we still have a democratic election coming up so that I can turn them off for good.

Turn it off, or change the channel. If you don't want your kids to watch something, try watching them. But that is another rant entirely. A rant about accountability and taking responsibility. Wait. Maybe it's the same rant that I was heading towards regarding the asshats in Washington.

I believe Howard when he says this is just a vendetta by the Bush administration, anyway. After all, even if nobody remembers the fact, Michael Powell (FCC) is the son of Colin Powell (White House running dog lackey). And Howard, despite early enthusiasm for the war in Iraq, has lately come to the conclusion that (I'm shocked, shocked) the call to war was built on lies, more lies, bogus intelligence, and a need to go shoot things. Since he can, he does, talk about that and about where he thinks the blame for American deaths lies: squarely in the White House, and who ever is in charge there.

But enough about that. I have something much more important to talk about today. And I know that this is going to be big news for my Jewish readers: you can make a perfectly good pie crust for Passover using matzoh cake flour and a regular old Crisco pie crust recipe. I did just that on Saturday with RJ, who came by for a kitchen play date. We picked mulberries and gave the crust a try. It's a little too crumbly to roll out, you have to pat it into the pie plate, but it tastes like pie crust, and it looks like pie crust and it acts like a pie crust. For the top crust, we merely made a sort of strussel out of the left over bits, and cut in sugar, cinnamon, ginger and cardomom.

After 50 years of no pie during Passover, we have solved the problem. And it was good. Photos will follow.

Finally, thank you to the folks who made donations to my AIDS Walk fundraising. For the rest of you, it isn't too late to help. The walk is on Saturday, the 18th.
Miz Shoes

Blast From the Past

Tonight I bring you a letter written by my mother in 1970, to my aunt and uncle who were abroad. She tells the story of the day my cousin and I decided to cook dinner. I give it to you in its entirety.

"Dear I** and E******,

As I write this, you have been gone from Stuart only five days. I know it seems to you like five months, and you'll be surprised when you get back at how little has happened here. B****** (ed. note: my cousin) wrote you a letter yesterday, and sent it to Stockholm, so I'm sending mine to the next place. You needn't worry about her - we are getting along fine. L**** (ed. note: that's me) loves to have her here, and maybe I won't give her back to you when you return. Saturday, when she was dressing to go out, she saw L's old games (Candyland, etc.) in the closet. She told L to wait up for her and they would play them when she got home from her date. Is this a college girl? She's just as young and childish as L.

M** and L***** (ed. note: my father and brother) are getting along pretty good in the store. He's (L) working in fine -- selling shoes, etc. At home it is still pretty grainy. He is such a slob -- and of course runs to Ft. Pierce every night -- and doesn't get home until everyone's asleep.

G***** and A** (ed. note: aunt and uncle) were up yesterday, with W***** (ed. note: another cousin). L**** (ed. note: yet another cousin) is not going to school or working. All he does is play bridge. (ed. note: he's now a professional bridge player). He has a couple of old ladies from Palm Beach that take him and pay his losses. If he wins, they let him keep the money. Some life -- a bridge bum. W***** is going to PBJC in the fall.

They finally opened the exercise studio this week. I am going in to talk to them this morning.

(Tuesday) I didn't finish this yesterday, because I thought there'd be something else to tell you. I joined the Sauna Club -- but haven't started yet -- don't have time now. B****** worked this morning and decided to stay home this afternoon. When I went to the store at noon I told them to think of something for dinner. M** told me they had the kitchen full of limes when he went home for lunch. I got home at 4PM. "Don't ask!" Up to then they had made a souffle for dessert. They were throwing beaten egg whites at each other and at 4:30 they decided to go to the grocery store to get something to go with or before the souffle. They left me to wash -- 2 pots, 5 bowls, 2 dishes and 12 assorted items. There was dried egg yolk on all the counters and stove -- and they have worked themselves to death. It is 5:15 and they aren't back yet. I pity the man that had to eat what they make.

Just now in the store a Jewish woman came in. She is moving from Titusville and Ira the butcher told her to look us up. They are building in Sherwood Forest here. Anyway, when she told me her name -- I recognized her. We were in college together 34 years ago. She has a daughter, 18 going to Gainesville in the fall, and twins 15. I'm going to introduce them to our girls.

Incidentally, maybe I'll let you have B****** back, plus L***** when you come home.

Haven't heard from the folks. They only write when written to.

Hope you are having a wonderful time. I'll see you in West Palm on the 21st."

Now, my cousin and I don't remember throwing the egg whites at each other, and we have each become the hostess for family gatherings on either side. We are both known to be a dab hand in the kitchen, and have never had a man complain about our cooking.

I bring this up because as soon as I end this entry, I am off to prep a Beef Wellington for tomorrow night's movie night. We're doing Our Man Flint and so a 60's revival menu is called for. Martinis to start. Caesar salad at the table and a Grand Marnier cake to finish.

And, no, my mother neither kept my cousin, nor gave me away.
Miz Shoes

Excuse Me?

I'm supposed to be making soup right now, Yellow Pepper Soup from the Silver Palate New Basics cookbook, to be precise, but I'm in my studio, typing. The RLA loves Yellow Pepper Soup, and I thought my dad might like it, so it was on the to-do list. Earlier in the evening I went out to get my car radio repaired (check) and stopped by the auto parts store for a gallon of anti-freeze/coolant, 'cause the lovely Zelda Bleu is leaking fluids.

Well, you know, once a gear head, always a gear head, right? So I loitered up and down the customization aisle and found a cool stick shift sock that had tiny little neon strips in the seams, and a set of techno/racing style pedals (gas, clutch and brake -- I only drive a stick), and took those and my anti-freeze up to the register.

The kid looks at the pedals and the stick sock and looks at me and says, "Are these for your son's car? Or yours?"

Well, bite me.

When did I start looking like someone who's old enough to have a son who drives a custom car? Or any car, for that matter. And that's when it hit me, like the wet kiss at the end of a hot fist.* I am not only old enough to have a kid who has a custom car, I'm old enough to have a kid who has a kid.

I turn fifty this year, and while that's never bothered me** it's never bothered me because I don't look or feel my age. Until now, I suppose, if some pasty-faced kid in a polyester shirt with his name on the pocket is asking if I'm buying custom accessories for my son.

I can't even write that off as some kind of male chauvinism, because if I DIDN'T look old enough to have a kid who drives, he'd have been asking me if it was for my boyfriend, right?

Well, crap. Let me count the blessings here. I'll get to join AARP and get some nifty discounts that I'm currently not even aware of. I'll get free checking at the bank, except I already do. Discount movie tickets? Um, hmmm. Stumped. What other benefits are there?

I'm not dead yet.***

So, what should I do this year to keep the wolf at bay? I'm thinking Paris for my birthday itself. Learn something new? I started teaching myself how to knit better, and how to write better code. I could learn enough French to get by in Paris. I could force myself to learn to roller blade. I could force myself to listen to top 40 radio to see what's popular these days.

Or I could revel in the fact that I'm finally old enough to have earned my bad attitude and curmudgeonly ways. Yeah. That. And Paris.

*Firesign Theater: The Further Adventures of Nick Danger
** Much
*** Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Miz Shoes

Can I have Some Cheese With my Whine?

Short answer: no. Unless it's low-fat cheese, because I'm on a mission to lower my cholesterol. This is karma for telling my father-in-law (OBM) not to worry, but to just eat the damn onion ring, because, trust me, something OTHER than his cholesterol was going to kill him first. For the record, I was right, and also for the record, he started enjoying his food again after I told him that. And he did eat the onion rings. But for the first however many years I knew him, his mantra was "Cholesterol, cholesterol, cholesterol." He worried about that like politicians worry about approval ratings. If I used a tablespoon of butter in a recipe that made 12 servings, he got on my case that I was trying to kill him. So I'd break it down: one tablespoon is three teaspoons and that means each serving has only a quarter of a teaspoon of butter in it. Give it a rest. He wouldn't. But there were things he couldn't identify in my cooking, and I never told him that the reason he loved my matzoh balls was because I used freshly rendered goose fat in them. Bwa-ha-ha.

Right. Now, despite the fact that I only make goose-fat laden matzoh balls once a year, and then only eat one, I have been told I have high cholesterol. Since wagging fingers at my gene pool won't do me any good, my doctor has determined that I need to change my diet and exercise more. The biggest change in the old diet is that I have to eat constantly, or so it seems to me.

My idea of a big breakfast is three cups of coffee. I now start each day with a bowl of McCann's oatmeal and a cup of fresh fruit. Then there's a midmorning snack, a protein-rich lunch, a midafternoon snack, dinner and a little something to tide me over until the next day. This is to keep my metabolism busy. It's keeping me crazy. I don't snack. I don't eat lunch. Except, well, now I do. And you know what? It's working. At least, I'm losing weight. I hope that my cholesterol levels are dropping as well as my jean size, but I won't know for another two months.

Wish me luck.
Miz Shoes

Still Life in Purple

I picked mulberries on Sunday and made jelly tonight. Last year someone dropped about three garbage bags of carambolas on my doorstep and I tried two different jelly recipes and both refused to set. This led to my husband teasing me for a whole year about my inability to make a proper jelly.

Which is, of course, utter crap. I make great strawberry jelly when they're in season. I've done orange marmalade, pickled green tomatoes, dill pickles and several varieties of chutney. My work in the kitchen (presentation aside) is usually specially delicious. I've only had two batches of jelly fail, and that was the two batches of carambola. Both recipes came from the same county extension office pamphlet, too. And I didn't like the mango bread recipe out of it, either.

Tonight I was able to recapture the crown. Eight little jars of clear, brilliant purple mulberry jelly. And when I washed the pot, there was a tasty residue of JELLY, not juice on the sides and bottom.

So there. I am so the queen of the kitchen. You may touch the hem of my apron. Thank you.
Miz Shoes

Raw Meat

Like every other sentient human in America, I've been hearing all about e-coli and samonella and how we need to eat our burgers and steaks well done. To which I have said: Feh. Well done meat ain't worth eating. And I have continued to eat my beef medium rare to rare. I even eat a lump of raw ground beef now and then, when I'm cooking something that uses ground beef. Which I did Tuesday night. And I spent the rest of the evening and Wednesday paying for it in ways that you truly do NOT want to hear about.

Today I'm a little less green. Will I stop eating raw meat? Um, yeah, probably. Will I start eating it well done? Never. I'd rather be a vegetarian. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Miz Shoes

These Are the Days

And then there are days like this. It's warm out, even for Miami. There is a tacky little vendor fair in the park in the middle of the hospital campus. Sunglasses, beads, orchids, cheap cell phones, and food. I am sitting in my office now, with a cold green coconut. It has had its little top punctured and a straw stuck in it. The spanish word for this delight is Coco Frio. Cold coconut. Now, where else could you do that in the middle of December?

I missed out on the steamed pork buns from the Korean guy two tents down.

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