Seasonal living and the sensual, sensate life.

Recent Posts

Just This One Day

Just This One Day

A month after Greg and I hauled our household 38.4 miles south and west, we are still settling in.  Our couches are stuck somewhere in California and we have been walking around boxes and paint cans for weeks. Our living room serves a staging ground […]

Liberty at Last!

Liberty at Last!

Like a lot of people, I’ve celebrated the 4th of July for the fun, the food, the fireworks.  Not today.  This year I am reveling in what for me turns out to be a profound sense of liberation and there won’t be one flag or float […]

The Wait

The Wait

Nothing is so beautiful as Spring –          

   When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush

                                                   —Gerard Manley Hopkins

Spring is doing its spring thing here in Colorado, which means warm days when I don skirts and show off my winter-white legs followed by snow and temperatures in the 20s.  This morning, I woke to the grey of January and ice covering newly greened grass.  Just a week ago, in the Valley of the Gods, Utah, on the very last day of March, I was so hot, I crouched with my dog River in the shade cast by the truck.  That night, Greg and I slept with the tent windows wide open to the full moon.  Spring in the Rockies is a fits and starts thing—no gentle bloom for us, no building to a glorious explosion of green.  Instead one day I’ll see hopeful buds on lilacs and the next they’ll be encased in ice and I’ll know the waiting—for flowers and the breathless greening of the foothills, along with consistently warmer days–has begun.  

Up on the mountain, spring was always a shy, elusive creature.  I was never sure I was out of the winter woods until the first week of June.  Until then, anything could (and did) happen:  hummingbirds chipping through an inch of ice at the feeders in May, me scrounging for wood for the stove to take the chill off even later.  But last year, the prairie, where I’m a temporary resident, had its own form of high altitude spring as a foot of snow fell mid-May and Greg rushed out to cover pea vines along with our patches of rhubarb and strawberries, spinach and radishes.

This year the wait has real weight as I hold my breath for June 5th when #RoughBeauty debuts. Writers are forever talking about how flat out hard it is to write and edit a book—how fraught, how onerous–but I’m currently of the mind that the year and a half I spent writing and rewriting was nothing compared to the six months of question marks and “what ifs?” running up to release as my thoughts pop like corn anticipating blurbs, buzz, and reviews.  I waited ten long years to get this book out, but now–I want it out.

With roughly seven weeks to go and spring nowhere in sight, I’ve started my annual cleanse—three weeks of vegetable-forward food and twice daily doses of detox tea.  My motto?  Make it harder.  I’ve never been the kind of person who hides from anxiety in a bottle or even in bed; instead I give myself something to put my shoulder against.  So while I’m waiting for things to “shoot long and lovely and lush” in the landscapes of both spring and publication, I am distracting myself with the somewhat difficult task of trying to take as much pleasure in “power fruit smoothies” and sprouted grain tostadas as I do with duck breast laced with blueberry balsamic glaze served with a glass of bubbly.  By the end of three weeks—and almost half way from here to my pub date—I’ll have shaved off a bit of the wait and lost a few pounds too.

 

Let Winter Nights Enlarge

Let Winter Nights Enlarge

Now winter nights enlarge  The number of their hours– –Thomas Campion Winter arrives, just in the nick of time.  I’ve been rushing and rushing pulling the threads of my daily to-do lists tight, holding my breath for what seems like months now as I stare […]

In Search of the White Whale

In Search of the White Whale

Home is my great white whale.  For as long as I can remember I’ve searched for it, turned the thought of it over in my mind and longed for the coordinating x and y of permanence and thriving for the perfect place.  Growing up, I […]

Thanksgiving, With Abandon

Thanksgiving, With Abandon

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all
–Harriet van Horne

I have long believed that good food, good eating is all about risk
–Anthony Bourdain

–for Oody

I’ve gone over to the dark side.

For years I’ve posted my annual Thanksgiving treatise on How to Roast a Perfect Turkey How to Roast a Perfect Turkey Without Bags or Brines or Gallons of Hot Oil–a post that gives common sense tips on how to roast a turkey and preaches the gospel of good ingredients and simplicity. Without fail I’ve followed this method for decades (with one exception: the year I roasted my bird at 425 degrees) and the results have been very good, but only occasionally spectacular.

This year, inspired by a killer New York Times Thanksgiving section and the heavenly pure roasted poultry flavor of a succulent and fat Whole Foods chicken I recently made using Julia Child’s classic recipe coupled with the lingering stench of utter disappointment over last year’s first-ever organic turkey that wasn’t the pure poetry I’d imagined it would be, I’ve decided to ignore my own advice.

I am nothing if not a girl who changes her mind.

Ask Greg. It infuriates him every time I pronounce a plan as if I’d hammered it myself in stone only to hours later think of something better. In this way, Sunday breakfast in bed with the big pancake and the New York Times becomes a trip to Jamestown for Rainbow’s killer New Orleans Benedict and the Merc’s famous hold-the-orange juice mimosas, followed by a hike around the peeper pond with River.

This year, I require ritual not rote repetition, danger not dutiful adherence to the tried and true.  Plus I’m gaming for spectacle and the spectacular.  So it is with fist raised that I announce that I’ve done what I’ve long preached no one ever need do: Dear Reader, I’ve brined my turkey. It’s in the fridge as I write, rubbed with salt (1/2 teaspoon per pound), pepper, and lemon zest–double bagged with bunches of fresh rosemary, thyme and sage, along with garlic from our summer garden.

I’ll be honest: I’ve been on the brining bandwagon for a while now—having perfected my fried chicken this summer when I discovered the secret of adding two tablespoons of Kosher salt to the bathed-in-buttermilk-overnight bird. The result, fueled by spectacular discovery that a mixture of half arrowroot and half tapioca flour produces the crispiest chicken ever, took the top of my head right off.

This year, when I came across a recipe for dry-brined turkey, I happily shucked my sack of pontifications about simplicity and turkey perfection and left them alongside the road. Leaping, in this case, not just with abandon, but with a genuine thrill at the risk.

I’ve gone on record as saying I grow easily bored with menus. In this, I am no traditionalist. I don’t want to eat the same things year in and year out, though there is certainly pleasure in revisiting favorites. But think of this: When you remember your favorite meals, it’s really the first time you had them that you conjure or more likely who you had them with. Greg still says the first time I cooked him fried chicken (unbrined, overdone, and frankly, a bit burnt) on the day we met for the first time in the park in Boulder was the best. We both can count our disappointment on the second visit to a new restaurant, noting how the food was just not the same. Newness, my lovelies, makes the experiences richer, deeper, and infinitely more sexy. So, of course, does the company.

So I’m sexifying my Thanksgiving this year.

Hilda by Duane Bryers

I’ve got Greg, but I’ll also have a brined bird and I’ll be using hard cider to flavor the pan drippings and gravy and adding a sliced beet and apple salad with cider vinegar,  pistachios and a bit of horseradish to the menu. Together with my other salad (shaved Brussels and escarole with marcona almonds, pickled onions, and champagne vinegar and buttermilk vinaigrette), these two dishes will skewer the too often too heavy and too brown Thanksgiving list of favorites: Sausage and dried apple dressing, larded mashed potatoes, the big brown bird, and of course (for everyone but me), rolls with butter.

Following Montagne–“The art of dining well is no slight art, the pleasure no slight pleasure“–I’m trading in the tried and true to risk a deeper desire—the one that comes from walking out to the edge and a new vista to see what there is to see.

 

Welcome to Rougher Beauty

Welcome to Rougher Beauty

I’ll be honest:  I’ve struggled with this blog (formerly 1hotkitchen@blogspot.com) for the last year now. Sure I’ve had the convenient excuse of writing a book, a task far more lovely and consuming than I ever imagined.  But It’s also true I’ve worried for some time […]

Don’t Call Me a Lady

Don’t Call Me a Lady

Call me Brash.  Call me Bossy.  Hell, call me the other B word.  Just don’t call me a Lady.  I’m a bit old school when it comes to the “L” word.  In my mind, those four letters are a gilded cage, a choke collar fastened […]

Brave New World

Brave New World

When Miranda utters these words in The Tempest, it’s clear they are the words of a naif.  She’s young and sheltered and–frankly–lusty. Her “brave” means handsome; Miranda is all about the surface. 

Most who invoke these words miss Shakespeare’s irony or haven’t read Aldous Huxley’s novel by the same name—What they summon, instead, is excitement about a changing landscape. 

For our new Emperor without Clothes, the phrase is clearly spin.  He’s the confidence man selling American his (empty) version of the story, whether he’s talking about how God himself kept the rain from his inauguration speech or tweeting his apples to oranges comparison of TV viewership of his big event. 

Pussy Hat, Caper WY
Yesterday, women across the world took back the phrase from the smoke and mirrors reality TV star who wants us all to be Mirandas. In our usage, brave means strong, and the new world is what is possible when we unite.  Over a million worldwide marched in response to what has clearly been a hostile takeover linked unmistakably to the message that women’s lives don’t matter. 

I know I am supposed to be writing about food and love and landscape, but the world seeps in—even here in my remote studio in Wyoming—where I’ve encamped to finish my book.

Words matter.
Truth matter.
I come from a family of invisible women. My mother was so ghost-like I don’t have one memory of her from my childhood.  She lived, for the most part, beneath the twin thumbs of alcoholism and abuse.  Another woman, a great aunt whose name I know was Nina, lived and worked as a servant in nearby home at 19, but by 21 was listed as an “inmate” in the North Dakota Hospital for the Insane. The silence around who she was and what happened to her is deafening.   

As of January 21, 2017, when women and, men and children joined the Women’s March in big cities and small towns—even on a boat in Antarctica–“brave” means holding ground.  We will not go back.

Women’s March in Casper, WY
Today is the 44th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, an anniversary I mark by noting the following two items:  1) Already an avalanche of state-based legislation has been introduced to severely limit, if not deny, a woman’s right to make her own hard choices regarding her body.  2) Nina was likely institutionalize because she was raped, became sexuality promiscuous or pregnant out of wedlock, or spoke out about sexual misconduct by her employer.  She spent the rest of her life institutionalized and died at the age of 87, abandoned by her family. 

If you think the move to restrict abortion (and access to birth control) is about anything besides a concerted effort to control women, you are mistaken. 

In this Brave New World, women will rise.  We are the resistance.
A Mind of Winter

A Mind of Winter

   Cabin in deep snow One must have a mind of winterTo regard the frost and the boughs Of the pine-trees crusted with snow; And have been cold a long time To behold the junipers shagged with ice, The spruces rough in the distant glitter  Of the January sun; and […]