Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dinner with a Side of Art

We got a last minute invitation to go to the Art Farm for a harvest dinner in a barn. Hell yes, we can come! We almost forgot we have children for two minutes. We (Laura) called Fiona's favorite babysitter but she had plans to do something much more enriching and fulfilling than watching Cinderella 2 (which, by the way, sucks more than the original Cinderella, if you can imagine that). After a few more calls, our trusted friends, J and R, agreed to take on the task. Yeah! We get to go eat in a barn! With friends! Without having to ignore a baby slinking out of her high chair in the middle of the first course! No dessert negotiations or cleaning up spilled milk. Out with the whine, in with the wine!

Their place is in the country, where the Amish folk dwell.  We followed these people, knowing they would lead us in the right direction.

Once we got there, we were giddy with the realization that we had pulled this off. Just an hour ago, I was looking through the fridge, looking for something halfway edible to make for dinner. Now, we're in the midst of a full-fledged dinner party in the making. 

Everyone gathered in the kitchen to finalize their epicurian delights. We brought a bagette and wine (it was last minute plus we have kids - don't judge us), so we were off the hook, unlike those other poor fools who had to braise, chop, slice and broil.

The hosts are artists who remodeled an old farmhouse and adjoining building into an art resort. Their personality and talent is injected into every piece of furniture and every stroke of paint. 

When we felt guilty about watching everyne slave over the stove, Laura and I decided to have a little fun in the shower.
We don't normally do this sort of thing in other people's homes. I was obviously drinking, which helps explain the behavior. Laura, well, that's just how she is. In our (her) defense, the shower was unlike other people's shower. It was designed and created by them. There's even a little seat:
Photo from
After the shower shananigans, dinner was served in the barn. But this is the Art Farm, so a barn may be a barn, but it's a different kind of barn. And as expected, the table was immaculately set:

The food was fantasic. Photos cannot do it justice, plus, my camera ran out of juice right in the middle of dinner. Nonetheless, here's a sampling:

We like these people. Not because of their food, or their barn, or their art. Well, actually, kind of because of their art, but mostly because of their genuine natures and their love of life and all that is beautiful. And for their kindness and open hearts.

Their work, their life, is their art. They are creating their own existence. I have tremendous respect for this self-sufficiency. It seems natural and idyllic to be able to so effortlessly merge what you do with who you are.
Just being on their turf reminded me how generous the universe is when you are open to its abundance. It reminded me of simple pleasures, like the beauty of flickering candle light and the pink of dusk.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

I Almost Died and/or Had Brain Damage Today

I've been coughing for almost a month now. After the pneumonia diagnosis and the Redimed prescription, I felt ok, and then relapsed, with an acute ear ache and continued coughing. I've had enough. I went to a new doctor who came highly recommended. I was the ONLY person in the waiting room, which to me is equivalent to reading an obscure Russian novel. Nobody else will come here only because they have not yet been exposed to the brilliance.

I love my new doctor. And by love I mean I forgive him for his tresspasses.

He came in all cool and hip and smart and proceeded to trash French people after he found out I was born in Paris. He went on and on about how French people are so rude when Americans don't pronounce words correctly and went on to talk about Air France and how the French pilot completely butchered the English language and no one cared about that but when he, the doctor, pronounces "mange" slightly incorrectly to a french person, he gets corrected. This is a man who is not used to being wrong. Well, Dr., pronouncing "mange" is almost blasphemy to french people. This is what I was thinking, but instead I said something stupid (because I'm naked and vulnerable and not in the mood to defend the French as I'm wearing a flimsy paper gown), like "well, I don't know what that's about. You were pretty close." And by that, I meant, well, your accent is sucky, but I'm almost naked, so whatever. 

He proceeded to check my blood pressure (rocket high!). He couldn't believe I'm not on meds. My former doctor is a quack. I knew this already, which is why I'm here. 

Then he looked into my ear with that scope thing and almost jumped back in horror. He even made the nurse look. This is very rare. This is the worst case he's seen in a long time. Only once a year, tops, does he see something that bad. What is it. Meningitis. Laryngitis. I don't know what he said, but it ended in itis. He sent me on my way with my prescription. And gave me the peace sign. Really. For a very obviously smart guy with a bad French accent, he's pretty charming. 

When I called Laura, I told her it's Meningitis, because that's all I remember. After the French bashing and the complete surprise at my inner ear, that's what I was left with.

After a few google attempts to diagnose me and determine my life expectancy, Laura learned that I may experience brain damage from the infection and worst case scenario, I had about three to four days to live . Well, I didn't feel THAT bad, I tried to reassure her. Though both my ears were throbbing. Damn. I'm dying.

She called me later (20 minutes), to tell me to call them back and find out if that's really what it is. Turns out it's "myringitis". Very different. Life expectency-wise.  

Saturday, September 11, 2010

It's a Chuck Taylors and Soup Kind of Day

Another Saturday upon us and we had a LOT planned: Chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, farmer's market, downtown Art Fest, naps for the children, grocery shopping for me, soup making later, laundry and cleaning the house and fixing our screen door for Laura. Yep, she got the raw end of the deal.

We decided to all wear our respective Chuck Taylors. For just a few minutes, before Fiona had to change to her princess shoes because she can't be seen in such boying shoes, even though they're PINK. She has standards.

We found a new farmer's market today.  It was indoors, a plus since it was raining this morning. This place was huge. When we first walked in I spotted these luscious yellow peppers, of which I needed six for my soup. That booth only had four and I felt guilty buying all of them. Perhaps this guilt was misplaced. Right next to the peppers were some lovely tomatoes. I needed those too. Laura was getting concerned that we were stocking up at the very first booth when it was obvious that this was a 5,000 acre market. She let me buy the yellow peppers. She must have known how important (and obviously scarce) these were. So we all agreed to scope out the place before randomly buying produce like crazy people. Fine.

We scoped. They had everything there. Except for the additional two yellow peppers I needed. Sometimes, scoping is a waste of time. Just sayin'.

We got our vegetables for the week. Laura sneaked in an acorn squash. I have no idea how to cook this freakish vegetable. "I'll cook it," she said, when I complained. I'm such a pain in the a** sometimes.  I just hope this squash will not end up rotting in our potato bin  like it usually does. I can't handle any more fruit flies.

I don't understand squash, or zucchini, or pumpkin. Don't even get me started on desserts using these veggies. Desserts, by their very nature, should not be made out of vegetables. Even pumpkin pie is wrong. Call me un-American. If anyone (the two of you who actually read this blog) has a trusted recipe for acorn squash, please let me know. I'll cook the damn thing and I'll throw in a little love (for Laura-Jo). Maybe that'll make it taste better than chalk, with cinamon sprinkled on top.

Speaking of food, I made a Roasted Yellow Pepper and Tomato soup tonight that was, quite frankly, exhausing. It turned out beautiful and delicious. Look at it:

Pretty, right? But it took so long to make. I was almost too tired to eat it. Everyone loved it, partly because it was almost seven by the time it was finished and the troops were starving.  Fiona loved it so much she gave it two thumbs, plus 10 toes up. She's my favorite daughter.

It was quite an endeavor. Between the roasting and the chopping and the pureeing and the straining and trying to keep one soup hot as I made a whole different soup. Well, I was so worn out from the ordeal I had to retire to a bubble bath. My back hurt! That's how hard this soup was to make. I had to detox from soup making.

Then, we went outside to walk barefoot in the freshly wet grass and dance to Prairie Home Companion music and finally, crashed to PBS Kids cartoons. I'm tired, people (the two of you).

Monday, September 6, 2010

Saturday is an Asparagus

It's the perfect day. It's cradled by Friday, which is a great day because it's right before Saturday, and followed by Sunday, which is a great day in and of itself. But Sunday has a dark lining, when you're not in the moment. Sunday thinks about getting up early on Monday. But Saturday, has no such worries. It's perfect.

So we celebrate with chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast and we wear happy clothes. Laura goes to work and the kids and I go grocery shopping.

I love groceries. The endless possibilities of gourmet meals to come. Although I have the menu for the week somewhat lined out, I will sometimes stray in the presence of luscious, under appreciated vegetables. Brussel sprouts, for instance, don't always come to mind when planning the week's meals. If Brussel sprouts were a day, it would be Monday. Icky, by nature, through no fault of their own. But they look so cute, their tiny little cabbage selves just crying out to be loved, and smothered in bacon fat. Because who doesn't like cute cabbage sprinkled with bacon?

Well, I thought about you, brussel sprouts, but the asparagus looked so freaking good that I could not resist their allure. Asparagus do not need bacon. They are happy naked, steamed or baked. Plus, they are one of the ingredients in tonight's dinner.

Fiona could care less about produce, but she likes the bubble gum machine. She brought her purse with a million quarters in it.  She stood in front of the colorful machines for several hours and finally decided to spend one quarter on a bubble gum ball. And two quarters on a tacky temporary tattoo.

Cyd sat in the cart, saying "hi" to everyone who walked by. She was happy in produce, gleefully pointing at the bananas and mangos. She was happy in the cereal aisle and happy in the wine aisle. If I'd thought of bringing a cork screw, I may have stollen a sip in the frozen food aisle, which is where Cyd finally decided enough is enough.

With Cyd crying, I rushed through the dairy section and ignored the "oven thermometer" item on our list. We don't have that kind of time. Walnuts were on the list too, but really, walnuts are irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. Walnuts are a luxury. It isn't an ingredient in any of the meals I have planned. F*#ck the walnuts. We're checking out. Old ladies were staring at us, their smiles laced with a hint of disapproval.

We hurried home. The kids shared a mac and cheese bowl, which was redeemed with a few fresh blueberries and yogurt.

While the kids napped for two luxurious hours, I made the dough for dinner. I love the process of dough, the kneading, the rising, the baking, the silence. Tonight's menu: Flatbread with Arugula, Asparagus, Ricotta, and summer veggies.

Laura finally came home and built us a beautiful bonfire.  We roasted gigantic marshmallows, which mysteriously materialized in our cart this morning. And by mysteriously, I mean by Fiona. These marshmallows were the size of apples. Really.

We ate by the fire. We roasted. We entertained the neighbor children.

We are happy. Crazy happy.

(Note: the kid on the right is our neighbor.)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

"This Will Make You Sleepy"

I hoped the pharmacist could not see my eyes light up at this side effect declaration. I'd been waiting for over half an hour for my prescription. The idiot RediMed doctor (IRD) wrote the prescription wrong so the pharmacist had to call to clarify, as minutes were ticking more rapidly than time should, and RediMed was closing in seven minutes and I was NOT leaving without my Codeine so they'd better hurry the hell up.

I had pneumonia in my right lung. My temperature was 104.8 degrees. I was coughing uncontrollably and nervously drinking from my Evian water bottle, which had been empty for 20 minutes.

"This is a controlled substance," I heard the pharmacist tell the IRD. "You can only prescribe this for 30 days. Your script lists 34 days." Five-hour pause as the pharmacist, who is getting visibly irritated by the obvious incompetence, listens to the idiot. Tick, tock. "Most other pharmacists wouldn't notice this, but I will not lose my license over it." Another pause. I'm still drinking the phantom water, trying in vain to quench the fire burning beneath my skin. "You're welcome to call this in tomorrow when another pharmacist is on duty."

NOOOOOO! (Did I scream this out loud? I don't think so.) I need it now. Please give me my controlled substance! I was sweating profusely now, nervously looking at the clock, resigned to go home with just my stupid antibiotics, which are useless except to cure the infection brewing in my lung.

Finally, the pharmacist, who I suspect was sent from heaven (I heard celestial bells ringing and her face glowed like an angel's), called my name and gave me my stuff. If it hadn't been for the pneumonic germs spewing from my every pore, I would have kissed her right then and there.