Seasonal living and the sensual, sensate life.

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Dog Days, Part 2

Dog Days, Part 2

When I introduced River in this blog a few months ago, I announced in a tongue and cheek way that he came from a Texas kill shelter with “a suitcase full of yet to be revealed ailments,” lamenting a case of very treatable but not inexpensive cancer […]

The Clock of August

The Clock of August

In the yard this morning Let’s face it, August is heavy with expectation. We’re all thinking about what’s to come, all the while larding our calendars with things to do before the golden days of autumn settle in, before the evenings are too cold to […]

A Menu For Change

A Menu For Change

Okay listen. Like you, I’ve been unable to look away from the daily idiot-grams tweeted by the Demagogue Who Would Be King.  Inside these last burning days of July, I’m boiling, not because of the heat dome currently centered over the nation, but because one loud-mouthed pied piper whose only credential is that he has made some money is piping a tune straight out of the Third Reich.    
Into this end-of-the-world-as-we- know-it scenario, I have inserted a little fantasy. In the Isak Dinesen’s story Babette’s Feast, a French Chef, a refugee who has been working for two dour and stripped down Danish sisters, makes one memorable meal for her benefactors.  It’s clear as one course replaces the next, the food has both regenerative and transformative powers:  A romance is rekindled, crabby pettiness is replaced with neighborly joie de vivreand sensuality breathes life into Scandinavian stoicism.
Ignoring Herr Millionaire’s latest call for foreign nations to meddle in his fight for the House He Would Make White, I tried to come up with a menu that would transform the Big White Shark from Jaws into an animal whose size matches his I.Q.  At the very least, my goal would be to wipe the sour from his puss and reduce his testosterone emissions to within normal limits.    
For starters, I’d serve Agadashi Tofu—creamy tofu surrounded by a translucent fried batter and sunk lovingly in a warm salty broth.  Tofu ranks high on the list of foods packed with estrogen, a hormone that would immediately cause Mr. Reality TV to replace his too often touted “I” with a more communal “We.”  Bonus, it might also soften the frequency of references to his “member” in political debates, if not the member itself. 
The first course would folllow with YUUGE platters of raw oysters, big fat ones like Kumamotos, which would be served by a nice pairing of gorgeously round and fleshy women dressed as bondage mistresses and are-those-real-or-are-they-fake drag queens. Of course, No cocktail sauce allowed.  After which I predict like all good fascists, The Emperor Who Has No Clothes will embrace his inner Submissive and go hence forth on his knees.  
The main course has to be Deep Fried Brains. We’ll say they’re croquettes.  Immediate improvement as he gobbles them all.

Dessert?  I can guarantee he gets none until he stops behaving like a two-year old in a gold-plated sandbox.  


Unless of course I can find a recipe for Humble Pie. 
Letting My Yolks Run Over

Letting My Yolks Run Over

There really isn’t any food as erotic as the sunny side up egg.  Think of the way the synapses in the brain sizzle at the sight of a golden yoke oozing its buttery pleasure in brothy soup, on top of a pile of greens, or […]

Dog Days

Dog Days

Dog days typically mean the oven of August, that sweltering dried out month with Sirius overhead and the first signs of wilt below.  For mountain girl me, the dogs have the day once the thermometer rises above 82 and nights no long dip below 55—that’s […]

Growing Season

Growing Season

garlic!

The garden is budding with garlic and onions planted last fall, pea vines and carrots planted this spring. I’ve got micro-greens growing in tires, and Greg is hardening off basil, tomatoes and peppers started in our basement from seeds. Already, we’ve harvested French breakfast radishes—Greg likes them plain, I eat them pickled in salads and on soft-shelled tacos.  One thing about living in the low lands—we sure can grow stuff.  Last year, the forest outside was made of tomato vines, and clouds of morning glories—a flower I tried unsuccessfully to grow at 8500 feet for two decades–clung to the side of the garage.  While everyone who knows me knows I’m am already cranky at the prospect of the coming heat, I go

pea vines

just a bit dreamy with anticipation of the green world and the pleasure of watching vegetables ripen while flowers open their heavy mouths to rain.

 
At a time when the backyard is geared for months of nascent growth, so too am I.  In January, I signed a deal with Scribner for my memoir about 40 seasons of mountain living to be published in March, 2018. (Check for updates on my facebook page and on my forthcoming website.)  For the first time in my life, I am a paid, full time writer.  Smack in the middle of what now passes for middle age, I’d have to say it’s about goddamn time.  Rising early to write, spending my days wrangling words, is what I was born to do. 
  
When Greg (then, the city-dwelling boyfriend) and I first got together, we’d spend part of our precious weekends dreaming of a time when we’d live together in a house and devote long quiet mornings to work—he painting in his studio, me writing in my office with a couch—before going outside in to tend the garden and ending the day by sharing a lovely meal—grilled hanger steak salad or shrimp tacos with cilantro relish.   

 

 

 

Salad Mix
 
And we have that now.  Almost.  In my mind, our home was one we owned, situated in a place with hummingbirds and coyote, and neighbors as scarce as summer heat.  Greg, far less picky and not quite as people-adverse, is happy right where we are on the nameless prairie where trains pass just blocks from our rental and street lights obscure stars.  He’s been a full-time artist in the winter months while I taught; in the summer, we traded places once his gardening work took off. 
 

 

And River-roo
But almost is pretty damn good. No longer bogged down by student emails and university deadlines and the pressure on nontenured faculty to be all things to all people, I’ve become a reader again-and there is rich pleasure in the stolen hours I spend in the hammock beneath the ash in back.  In the garden, I’ve hung out the humming bird feeder in a gesture of wild faith, while I busily research air-conditioners.  Meanwhile, I take breaks each day with River, our happily rescued from the kill-shelter dog, who is a goofy diversion and just one big love.  In the meantime, I’ll raise a glass to the season (and my good fortune), in anticipation of what’s to come.  
True Grit

True Grit

I know most of us have been ho-ho-ho-ing and clinking up a storm all the way through November and December, only to land, as we do every year in January and February, otherwise known as the armpit of winter. With nothing to celebrate in the […]

I Have a (Pie) Dream

I Have a (Pie) Dream

“If you wish to make an apple pie truly from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”                                                           […]

Naughty Little Breakfasts

Naughty Little Breakfasts

I woke up to winter this morning.  A few inches of snow dust the ground and sugar-coated trees hold up a shock of blue Colorado sky. I’m finally sleeping deeply again after the long hot summer so the arrival of cold weather and chilly mornings wrapped in Greg’s arms is pure pleasure.
 
I’ve got a few days away from teaching and the demands of college freshman to sit and watch the world go by from my window, to read books and take naps and long hot baths, and remember what it’s like to romance my man and the people in my life with food.  Because cold mornings mean cozy mornings, my heart has been skipping down a list of breakfast sweets that conjure words like indulgence, luxurious and naughty:
 
The “big” pancake
As the snow began to fall last night, I thought inexplicably of the baked pancake that Greg and I shared the first fall we were together when the foothills and 55 miles of road separated us, and the weekdays yawned wide before the weekend when we’d see each other.  It’s the only thing he’s ever asked me to make. So this week, I’ll add the lovely berry-filled oven-baked cake puffed with homemade lemon curd and sprinkled with powder sugar to our Sunday ritual of The New York Times and coffee in bed.  Lemon curd registers high on my naughty list, with equal parts egg yolks and sugar, but if we want to be really bad, we’ll drink so many mimosas, we’ll need a nap.
Homemade donuts
Once I’ve allowed my brain the idea of sugar, I think of donuts, which, let’s face it, are heroin.  The space between my ears shimmers with pleasure and a palpable tingle when I bite into them.  Sunday mornings on the prairie when Greg and I are feeling hedonistic, he hops in the car for maple bacon long johns (for me) and chocolate-covered custard filled donuts (for him).  Thinking about the jolt of pleasure I get from a mouthful of hot and puffed glazed dough, I decide we’ll indulge my sister, her husband and my niece Ava, along with Greg’s son with homemade donuts when we host a post-Thanksgiving brunch.  And yes, there will be chocolate and bacon.
 
Lemon Souffle pancakes with blueberries
Last, I’m dreaming of lemon soufflé pancakes, a recipe that’s delicate and light and like eating little lemony clouds.  You fold whipped egg whites into a batter made from ricotta cheese, lemon zest and yolks with just dusting of flour and sugar.  The soufflé-like batter is dropped gently by the quarter cup-full onto a hot griddle and turned carefully with a cake spatula. If the angels could eat, this would be their dish.  Think Bruno Ganz closing his eyes in appreciation over a loving and luxurious bite. Dust the hot cakes with powdered sugar and serve with maple sausage.  When done right, the pancakes retain their lift and you walk away from the table feeling as virtuous as a saint, having eaten something that registers as “bad” but without the requisite gluten or sugar load.  Now, that’s my kind of breakfast.
 

 

Let me proclaim this week to be austerity free.  Let pleasure and the tingle on the tongue reign. For Thanksgiving, I’ll be forgetting the turkey to write about pie instead.  Indulge, I say.  And let the party begin.  
The River Between the Living and the Dead

The River Between the Living and the Dead

Ai Wei Wei’s Zodiac:  The Ebbing of the Year of the Ram The year begins singing its death song as fall blooms on the prairie and the days hover in the pendulum swing between abundance and dearth, life and death. Outside, the yard is full […]