Sunday, December 03, 2006

Another month?

No, another Church year.

I promise to get my blogging butt in gear and actually write something.



Later - it's time for pancakes at church.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

someone has to speak

I keep looking for chatter regarding yesterday's election. Not the people losing power or gaining power. Not the switch from moderate Republicans to conservative Democrats. Not referenda on abortion, the lives of pigs, or constitutional changes. These are all issues that will be played out on the big screen of our common life in the weeks and months to come.

What I wanted to hear is more immediate, and more pressing. What I want to hear, I caught out of the side of my ear while on the way home last night: this election, up to the moment of polling, cost $1.4 billion.

How many vaccines could we provide?
How many children could we educate?
How many innovative and incredible ideas could we foster?

So I am waiting for the chatter, and I haven't heard it.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Mitre Makes the Outfit

I spent Saturday at a discernment retreat. At first I was bummed that I would miss the webcast of the investiture of our new Presiding Bishop, Katharine. It turned out to be the perfect place to watch. A group of younger people and a lot of women, who better to watch with?
There was lots of color, lots of movement, lots of singing, lots of voices. The celebrants wore yellow. The liturgical dancers were amazing. The next time someone complains, I am going to send them over to the Omega Liturgical Dancers at the Cathedral of St John the Divine in NYC. They truly enhanced the liturgy.
I was relieved to see ++Katharine smiling during the sprinkling of the waters of baptism. I pray that she will continue to see God's grace during her tenure.
What I loved best was her mitre. It was hope-filled, colorful, and inviting, just as I see the Episcopal Church. I hope she continues to wear it and that we, the sheep of her flock, continue to see the Joy made manifest in this body of Christ, the Episcopal Church.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

14% fat

Years ago, I worked at an ice cream shop, the Vermont Creamery. No, not the Newport Creamery, that's a chain famous for coffee cabinets called Awful Awfuls. The Vermont Creamery was an independent ice cream shop in Concord, Mass. Like most employers of teenagers, it was a terrible place to work but it taught great lessons. One was "always put the cream in the coffee first." 20 years later and I am still a slave to milk-on-the-bottom coffee. I also have great compassion for other ice cream scoopers. Hard ice cream can pop tendons. I learned how to make real whipped cream (regardless of how close to closing up, we were required to offer freshly whipped cream for sundaes, is it any wonder the shop closed?). I learned how to mop, how to clean coffee carafes, how to make change and balance a register at the end of the day. I also learned that the customer is not always right. I did my best not to argue with the man who insisted that our pistachio was not really pistachio (without ever tasting it) because it wasn't green. Finally, I offered to direct him to the Brigham's down the street, where their pistachio was as green as the colorant could make it.

At some point in my ice cream career I decided it was better to work in the kitchen than face more touristy customers. I loved that kitchen. It most likely wasn't as clean as it should be, but it was spacious and tidy. Most of the space was taken up by a worktable and an enormous ice cream mixer. The walk-in freezers and fridge took up most of the space. I rode my bike to work most summer days and made sure I arrived early so that I could stand in the freezer for a few moments before starting work. The guy who made ice cream when I first started was the emperor of the kitchen. I had to stand at the door and ask for what I wanted. Not only was he the only one, other than the owner, to make the ice cream, he (was his name Andy?) was the only one allowed in the freezer to pick up the 10 gallon buckets to take upstairs. The rumor: he made gin and tonics in those buckets, labeled innocuously "vanilla" and delicious in a whole 'nother way. The rumor was true, and the drinks were great, far more refreshing than merely standing in the coolers

The ice cream dude left and the owner had to find other folks to make ice cream, pour molds of ice cream cake, scoop cookies, and muffins, and later make salads and sandwiches. I loved being in the kitchen. We never actually "made" the baked goods; they were scooped from buckets much like ice cream. And I don't think I was terribly successful at salads (I distinctly remember slicing through my fingertip with the spinach)...but ice cream was fun. Upon being hired, the owner went through a litany of ice cream: what ours was and wasn't (homemade, all-natural, no colorants...), and how the fat content compared to Brigham's (11%), Hagan Daz (15%), and Ben & Jerry's, at that moment as small, Vermont-only company. The owner's uncle lived in Vermont and as new employees, we were all required to taste the coveted Guys From Vermont's wares.

Yum, a perfect 14% butterfat.

14% has the perfect mouth feel. It glides without coating. You can be satisfied with a tiny scoop (the diet sundae) but not be overwhelmed if you inadvertently eat the whole pint. It makes a delicious vanilla, but carries other flavors well.

We also had a small paperback book from Ben & Jerry's, now widely available, that had their basic ice cream recipes. The ice cream makers at Vermont Creamery had a lot of fun making up new and exciting recipes. Like B&J's, ours had funny little names that were oh-so-apropos. Most of them were flops, or lasted only a few weeks - the run of a batch. My favorite was a delightful little ditty I called Moose Tracks: milk chocolate, white chocolate, whipped cream, and grape nuts cereal.

Imagine my delight when our Vermont vacation took us right past the Ben & Jerry's factory!! Heedless of the dire distress 14% would cause the dairy-allergic in our family, we HAD to go. 14% is alive and well in our lives once again.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

3-Layer Outrage, Better with Age

Cook's note:
This is quite rich and you might need to schedule some time with the punching bag or go for a run after ingesting.

This morning's settling of the Rep. Foley stew includes, yes, you guessed it:

1) Under the influence of alcohol.
When baking, the alcohol burns off but the flavor remains. Could that explain why after more than a year, the good Rep. didn't every apologize directly to his prey?

2) Gay.
Big whoop. So are a lot of people. Do you see them acting in this manner?
And, yes, the pressure to stand up under the weight of "speak for all of them" could drive you to drink, but drinking doesn't take away your responsibilities, see above.

3) Molested as a child by his priest.
Good Lord! Do you think this dish tastes better piled this high?

But, of course, he does not blame his actions on any of this. He just wants us to know.

**annotated: NPR has a small piece on their website re: girl pages and the sexual misconduct of congressional members

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

3-Layer Outrage, Simmered

1) A man accused of inappropriate attention to teenagers is allowed to continue without reprimand.

Yesterday I heard that no one had done so because they felt it was a delicate balance between "accusing" him of being gay and accusing him of inappropriate communication.

2) This man is declares he has a drinking problem.

Fine, drink away. But claim your repsonsibility. There are a lot of alchoholics out there who do NOT cross sexual boundries with teenagers. Teenagers, by the way, who work for him. That would be another boundry, would it no?

3) Every news report to which I have listened or read, including the liberal press, has repeated this story as though pages were only young men.

Yes, Rep. Foley, most likely gay, only approached the male population.

I'd like someone to ask the girl pages how often they'd been inappropriatly approached.

This is not a gay issue.
This is not an alcoholic's issue.
This is INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR, simmering in a culture of power and prestige.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Where is the love?

Apparently, I have had a bad case of the blogging blahs.

My apologies.

I did just discover a fabulous blog - because being called by God does not mean you can't also be called by your MaryKay lady.

Truthfully, I have been too involved in back-to-school (x3, as J is also in school) to cook much and too involved in the Annual Fund to think much.


One can only hope that my brain opens up and I go back to writing.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

too hot for pie?


I'll admit it's been hot. Stick-to-your-seat hot. But if your skin already has a sheen to it, why not really get busy?

So I've been in the kitchen with pastry.

The first pie was for dinner on Tuesday night. It was "whatever pie." Perhaps not what to have when you've got first-time guests? It should have been delicious: peaches, rhubarb, and brown sugar in a double-crust glazed with milk and sprinkled with sparkly sugar. But it wasn't. Well, not for dinner. It makes fabulous breakfast pie.

The second pie was blueberry. The blues were bland, but they held their shape remarkably well. Far better, in fact, than the crust. It's not the heat, it's the melting point of butter. My lattice kept slipping. So I kept sticking it back in the freezer. And then it would crack. And then it would get the idea. I tried not to work it too much, so it looked fairly ridiculous. A giant blob of dough melted before it got blasted in the oven, so the pie looked as though it had a goiter. I can say it was a good-tasting goiter :)

The raspberries are looking good...but biscuits are sounding good, too. Is it too hot to fry up some bacon?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Exactly how hot is it?

Apparently, hot enough to stick your head in the sink.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

In Memorium

Emmanuel Church, Newport, celebrated the sparky life of Frannie Minifie this morning. Frannie sat on the other side of the aisle, a few pews down. I could see her whispy white hair when I turned to hear the Gospel. Mostly, I tried to keep Wylie's high energy legs and arms from her fragile hands and cane. Two Sundays ago she was in the hospital, last Sunday she was gone and today, Saturday, we laughed until tears came and cried until we could laugh again. The woman was a wit and I shall miss her.

"Mrs. Minifie, what do you see is your role in the church?"
"I think I am most like a casserole."

Monday, May 08, 2006

Neither Church nor Kitchen

But David Hockney!

Hockney has been an abiding passion of mine nearly as long as liturgical aerobics and swinging in the kitchen. My sister worked for the Andre Emmerich gallery in the 80's and I was exposed to Hockney's fabulous landscapes. And then the local museum carried a show of his photo collages and I was completly smitten.
Imagine my happiness when the Museum of Fine Farts announced a retrospective of portraits! I don't even really like the portraits, but a junky must get her fix...

Caveat: I am not an art writer, please bear with me.

The show is an investigation of Hockney's ability to work in many mediums with many faces. What I liked most was the feeling that the viewer was really allowed to get up close to the work and LOOK at it. I don't know if it was because the show was hung salon-style or because the write-ups were focused on technique, or if it was just my giddiness, but I really appreciated getting right up next to the paper.
The curators did a great job of showing off Hockney's appreciation of and internalization of Picasso. One piece is part of a series of sketches riffing on Wallace Steven's poem that was inspired by Picasso's painting The Old Guitarist. I am not a fan of Cubism (in fact, I nearly ran through the Cubist show a few galleries past the Gund Gallery), but I was captivated by the bold pieces of almost rearranged faces on one of the last walls. And, peaking around that free-standing wall, there were the photo collages! The are truly a movement of Cubism, but more emotionally attached. In all of Hockney's portraits you see the person as the painter sees: motion, expressions, postures, all at once. As such, the photo collages are a perfect expression of vision: all-at-once singularity of multi-faceted personalities. I could have sat in that little alcove all day!

Except that I got hungry and toddled off to the basement cafe.

But on the way home, I remembered that Milton, over at Don't Eat Alone had blogged about the blue guitar during Lent. So, in a way, my day was a little bit about theology and food.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Kitchen Blues

If April is the cruelest month, does May become more cheerful by default?

Early Spring in New England is a difficult time for the cook. Who wants a hearty stew, or even more soup when that's what we've been slurping for months now? We're tired of roasts and starch-heavy dishes, especially considering how near the ocean lies, and how close the warmer months seem. Produce in the grocery looks anemic and dull and has driven who-knows-how-many-miles to find the shelf, but not even sorrel is poking it's head up through the newly turned fields.


At least we can celebrate Cinqo de Mayo with margueritas!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

A-Z meme

Too good (and easy) to pass up:

Accent: upper-middle class New England (i.e. no flat a's and r's)

Booze: local white wines, vidal blancs are at the top of my list

Chore I Hate: vacuuming

Dog or Cat: two cats

Essential Electronics: radio, laptop, digital camera

Favorite Cologne(s): Aquolina Pink Sugar

Gold or Silver: gold? silver? can't decide

Hometown: Boston

Insomnia: never - it's the night terrors that drive me insane

Job Title: well, this is depressing, I apparently don't have one

Kids: 2, witty, beautiful, irksome

Living arrangements: lots of windows, wood floors - wait, I think this means: husband, 2 kids, 2 cats

Most admirable trait: welcoming

Number of sexual partners: why would you ask?

Overnight hospital stays: only for my babies

Phobias: rodents - the very thought of a guinea pig makes me itch

Quote: "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it."
or in the language of the Message:
"Why, some have extended hospitality to angels without ever knowing it!"

Religion: Christian, Episcopalian, liturgical

Siblings: the younger of two girls

Time I wake up: 6:36 a.m.

Unusual talent or skill: bread baking, but only buttermilk sandwich bread

Vegetable I refuse to eat: brussel sprouts, but I keep trying

Worst habit: rush to judgment

X-rays: teeth, hands

Yummy foods I make: lots!

Zodiac sign: Virgo

Friday, April 21, 2006

We've been on a bear hunt

And it was a beautiful day. Actually, it was a beautiful few days. The kids and I took off for NYC on Monday and came home on Thursday. The weather could not have been better: not too hot, a little breeze, nice and sunny...the whole city was cheery!

It's spring vacation week here on Aquidneck Island, and for the past few years we haven't done much during vacations. The kids love the City - from street vendors to subways to eating out all the time and always far later than they would at home. While we could have gone anytime, recent art world stirrings made me want to go NOW.

We arrived later than hoped-for on Monday, mostly due to my futzing around at home, but also because we got caught in the slowest traffic from the NY State line all the way off the BQE. A quick trip to the Village Chip Shop (have you had a deep-fried Mars bar lately?) and we were ready for bed.

Tuesday dawned bright and beautiful and after a trip to the bank with Aunt G, we hopped the F train and stepped out at the Met. I promised the kids that if they behaved for the Kara Walker show, we'd eat at the museum cafeteria and then hit the Temple of Dendur and the Astor Court, B & W's favorites, respectively. After the Deluge was thought-provoking and difficult but interesting and in many ways very beautiful. Kara Walker's cut paper works, especially the large-scale ones, are incredible. The space is small, and it wasn't too crowded (is the Modern Art wing ever crowded?), and it was full of well-heeled women with inquiring minds. I totally needed a book to go along with the show, as I wasn't quite sure what I was supposed to be pondering. There's lots of white space on the walls and on the floor, and Kara Walker's own pieces were hung with others from the Met's collection. I really enjoyed stepping back from the subject matter and just looking at how she hung pieces together. All in all, I am really happy that I got to go.

It was a long day inside the grand art palace. The Modern Art wing is removed from most other stuff and at one far corner, the Temple of Dendur on the far side. The new cafeteria leaves a lot to be desired (including an exit sign once you are finished eating!). The Costume Institute is closed, so trying to reach the Astor Court, was, well, trying. At one point we got lost in the Egyptian Catecombs and then again in a web of musical intruments.

Thank God we could carouse in the park when we made it out at the end of the day! We went in search of a moderatly-priced ice cream and started off into the park. The kids had their photos snapped on Hans Christian Anderson's kneee and we stopped at the boat pond and watched the remote-controlled sailboats for a while and then meandered over to Bethesda Terrace, a favorite of ours, even with the fabulous tunnel mosaics under wraps as they are renovated. We settled on frozen fruit bars from the carts and let the mist from the fountain cool our faces. Good thing, too, to be so refreshed, as we got lost once again, in the Ramble!

We finished our day with pizza with Aunt J and Cousin A. I don't think the kids have ever met their Aunt and she is a true New York character. Perhaps I can figure out how to link photos and insert one of the clan.

Wednesday's ruminations will have to wait for another post.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

What are the roots that clutch

What branches grow out of this stony rubbish?


'You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;
'They called me the hyacinth girl.'
—Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing, 40
Looking into the heart of light, the silence.
Od' und leer das Meer.

The first soft days of Spring, with the jonquils and forsythia vying for our attention, yearly recalls T.S. Eliot's the Waste Land. Like Spring, like the Resurrection, this litany creeps to my conciousness.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

for we are the sheep of His hand

I start every morning facing the sink, facing East, fixing coffee. As a ritual, it is extremely satisfying - not much changes in the phsyical functions, even sickness or cranky children can't stop the flow of water from faucet to pot, the fine grains of coffee from bag to filter. The view framed by my window remains the same: cul-de-sac, 3 large neighbor-houses, hedgerow, field, sky. Within those confines, everything changes. 6:40 am is always different. Some mornings I watch raucus crows and gulls argue their wake up calls. Many days it's the creep of fog up from the river that focuses my attention. The February field is tan stubble, but the May field is verdant. Last fall brought orange globes of pumpkin shining through the mist, this fall it may be tall corn. After the harvest I see porch lights, and know the houses by their dark shadows. Each day requires fine adjustments. The sun wheels 'round the edges, its meniscus higher now than 3 months ago.

This morning's 6:40 was blue and yellow, the sun already above the far banks of the out-of-sight river, the field tipped with green. Cold water filling the coffee pot, I pushed on the radio. Today is a very different morning than it was 3 months ago for the family and friends, the coworkers and the unknown supporters of freelance reporter Jill Carroll. Her freedom broke my heart open, and what I didn't know was locked was free, too. This woman that I don't know and never will touched me deeply.

Ms. Carroll is young, articulate, intelligent, and committed to telling a story she knows she can tell. I will be interested in reading her account of her confinement by captors who never told her what they wanted. I will be interested in her return to writing, and I hope her return to the streets and the people of Iraq.

This morning, at 6:41, as water flowed and coffee dripped and the sun stretched warmth westward, I was sure the Psalmist got it right:

Come let us sing to the Lord; *
let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving *
and raise a loud shout to him with psalms.

For the Lord is a great God, *
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the caverns of the earth, *
and the heights of the hills are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it, *
and his hands have molded the dry land.

Come, let us bow down, and bend the knee, *
and kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand. *
Oh, that today you would hearken to his voice!

Sunday, March 26, 2006


I hate leftovers. I know they are lurking in the fridge, ready to stink up a storm, make me toss the tupperware, and feel guilty for waste all at the same time. So imagine my gratitude, when during a silent moment in church this morning, I realized I could swing leftovers for lunch this afternoon out of last night's dinner!

Cauliflower leftovers:
Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in medium saucepan. Add 1 chopped onion and one smooshed-and-chopped clove of garlic until soft. Pop open can o' chicken stock, bring to a boil. Add leftover cauliflower and simmer until heated-through, about 5 minutes. Toss in flavoring of your choice: I happen to have some almost-moldering basil that needed to be used.
An immersion blender is great for soups. This is the moment when I would plug it in and let it whirl. And I did. Except it didn't work. There were still plenty of little cauliflower florets afterwards. Oh well, a regular blender would work better but make more mess...
I plopped in a spoonful of butter, just to make is silky and yummy and let it sit on the stove at barely-a-simmer while I went about the rest of the meal.

Pork Quesadillas:
The best quesadillas are made on a skillet, but really, who has time for that? Turn your oven on to 350 or use the broiler if you are good about remembering. I tend to get sidetracked and the broiler often burns more than it broils.
Shred whatever assortment of cheese your fridge drawer holds. We had low-fat cheddar and jalapeno monterey jack. Also shred, or small dice, leftover pork - sans the bread topping, that just sounds gross! If you have some salsa, use that, too. Arrange toppings on tortilla and pop in oven for 3-5 minutes (less if you are using that broiler!). Fold over, cut in half, and top with salsa.

If leftovers were always this easy, we'd have a clean fridge!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Roasted Dinner

I ate before thinking, so there's no photo to accompany the delicious meal we just finished. One of my favorite roasts is from the Joy of Cooking, a boneless pork loin with some Florentine-y title. I can only remember that it is subtitled "Arista" which is useless when you are trying to use the index! I have been riffing on the roast for years, but tonight's was the best:
1 boneless pork loin plonked into a small roasting pan
pour over 1/4 cup of homemade champagne-vinegar-based salad dressing with lots of garlic, pepper, and parsley
Preheat the oven to 450 and let the roast sit while you try to figure out the rest of the meal...

I had bought a lovely orange cauliflower last week, and as that was quickly going to go bad and was too expensive to toss, that was definatly on the menu. I cut it into tiny florets and tossed it with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

The roast works best if you roast it at high heat for a short while, so let it cook for 10 minutes in the 450 oven.
While it's in there, mix 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs with 1 or 2 Tbsp melted butter and some of the goodies from the salad dressing already used.
Lower the oven to 275 and pat breadcrumb crust on top of roast. Continue cooking until thermometer registers 160. Remove from oven to platter, tent with foil for 5 minutes, slice and serve.

Well, that's how it should work, except I had to get that cauliflower in the oven at a higher temperature, and we needed to eat within the next after 1/2 hour at the lower temperature, I bumped the temperature up to 350 and popped the cauliflower in on the top rack. When the roast registered an approximate temperature, I took it out and raised the temperature to 400 to finish those poor veggies.

Too much roasted food? We served it with a bag o' salad and bubbly water!

The Blank Screen Ovewhelms

When I look back on this, I will be humbled. Welcome to my blog, folks!