Monday, September 15, 2008

Cincinnati and More and More and More

I just deleted Don's first paragraph by mistake- I keep saying- "it was a mistake", "it was a mistake"- but I don't think he thinks that's enough- so I'm going to try to remember a bit of of Don's first paragraph- maybe he'll add a bit more- by the way he is still grumbling about this even as I type.
So the entry paragraph goes something like this. Don returned to Cincy the week after Labor Day weekend. The trip was a big combination of work- meetings and more meetings- and then a bit personal obligation- trip to cardiologist and pacemaker specialist- and then a little fun- time with families- so he'll just cover the fun part- the time with family (too bad he didn't take pictures in the cardiologist etc- but we'll just have to miss that part of his trip).
Oops, I found that paragraph after all- somehow it moved to bottom of the page all by itself- so here's Donny.....
September has certainly been an interesting month. P&G called me back to Cincinnati for some meetings right after Labor Day, so I did get to catch up with children and grandchildren. I think my first revelation was a reintroduction to heat and humidity. Walking off the plane onto the ramp was when it immediately hit me. Good old Cincinnati heat, humidity and haze. We just don't experience that kind of weather in San Francisco. We have definitely been spoiled this past year.

On the positive side, I did get to spend some time with Michael and Liz who are taking great care of the house and then see Mary, Kevin, Taylor and Samantha. It is amazing how kids grow when you give them food and water.

And I got to see Semper. The old boy is going on 14 years old, he's almost totally deaf, and his eye sight is getting worse, but he still has energy to get around and he still knows who I am.

Now we're back (well I never left- but Don is back) to San Fran. The trip to Cincinnati was way too quick, but I was glad to get back to cool and dry California. Upon returning, Max and I participated what I hope will be a once in a lifetime experience. Here in San Francisco is an annual event call the Fringe Festival ( not to be confused with a website with the same name, but is a .com). This year it consisted of 48 original one act plays (limit one hour performance) that were being presented in 10 different "alternative" theatres. By alternative, I mean a room with some chairs and lights. Anyway, we were invited by some friends to attend an evening of "theatre", which of course, we accepted. The general consensus is that out of the three we were going to see, one might be good, one might be average, and one could be awful. Well, we failed in our expectations and saw one that was was awful and two that were not quite so awful. But the people we were with were delightful, and we had a good time nonetheless. I think probably one thing this little night out (and I agree with Don- the plays were mostly a bust- but the company was fantastic- and the plays gave us plenty of laughs- not intentionally)- But one thing for sure this little outing made me homesick for Cincy and the great plays at the Playhouse- and we will be back- soon.

I know you're getting whiplashed- but we are leaping one week forward to September 12th. Friday evening, we were delighted to have Will (of Brandy and Will) spend the night with us. We love company! And certainly having Will visit was a real treat. Brandy came earlier in the summer and we really thought Will wouldn't be able to fit it into his schedule. But his new job brought him right to our front door. Will was working in Santa Cruz earlier in the week and came up to San Francisco before flying out on Saturday morning. We took him to our favorite "guest restaurant", the Cliff House, and then returned back to the apartment for an quiet evening. Will is working for a government contractor that is developing new search and rescue capabilities for the Air Force. Since Will was a Combat Rescue Officer before leaving the Air Force, he is exceptionally qualified for this job. Unfortunately it meant that he spent some time in Monterrey Bay (actually in it, not on it) where the water temperature was down in the mid-50's, brrrrrrr. Don didn't mention that Will spent the time in the Bay riding a jet ski- yep you got it- riding a jet ski. He spent the night on our visitor sleeper sofa, we fed him a great breakfast and sent him back to the airport for his flight back to Las Vegas.

On Saturday our good friend Steve Sizemore come over for dinner and Max fixed one of her absolutely wonderful meals. She fixed an appetizer of crab dip (real Dungeness crab),
Well I do think this crab dip needs a bit more explanation. I found the recipe in a new book I bought of "Best Recipes from Northern California Inns"- the recipe actually lists a 6 oz can of canned crab- but I had been eyeing the fresh Dungeness Crab at the fish counter for weeks. I just couldn't help myself- at $33 a pound- and I still couldn't help myself- I must find more self control- but I have to say this little moment of weakness paid off (not in any monetary sense)- but what a taste treat. And we now know how to cook fresh crab. To cook fresh crab meat (Don did this part) you cook in a strainer over boiling water for 5 minutes).

And for the dip:
6 ounces crab meat- I only used 4 oz- my contribution to tightening the belt; 1/4 cup mayo (use the real stuff- not low fat or miracle whip), 1/4 cup of sour cream (I used creme freshe- I had it in the frig and it is very similar): 1/3 cup green onions (from the Ferry Building farmers market), a bit of roasted red pepper- the recipe calls for pimento- a 4 ounce jar but I thought that sounded like way to much- 2 tsp of lemon juice, 1 tbsp of lemon zest, 1 tsp of minced garlic, and salt/pepper to taste.
I didn't quite use that much mayo and creme freshe- I didn't want it to be wet- since I was using fresh crab I wanted the crab to be the biggest taste of all- So I mixed everything but the crab and pepper together- and then VERY, VERY gently added in the crab and pepper so the crab didn't break apart too much.

And I served with crostini- sliced baguette brushed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and heated in 350 degree oven for 5 minutes or so. And I had to use my new serving dishes- so we had olives as well!

A caprice salad with tomatoes from the farmers market, a shrimp, roasted pepper from the farmers market, and baby artichoke hearts- baby artichokes are not "babies" at all- but rather a different type of artichoke- and as with the crab I looked at them for weeks before I took the plunge- and they are wonderful! (fresh artichoke hearts, not canned) pasta.

I'm not sure that Don quite understands what really happens when he casually says that he thinks he'd rather have Steve come to dinner at home rather than going out to a restaurant- I go into overdrive- I am on the march- the books are out- the lists are made- and for this one it just happened to fall on Saturday- the day of the famous Farmer's Market (the one that ALL the Food magazines list as one of the top 5 in the whole country- and now I have an excuse to drag Don- grim faced on the bus to the market.

I was sitting across from Don- and most of the trip- on a very, very crowded bus- all three of the women were talking on the cell phones- I could hear the conversation- but could only understand one- the other two were in different languages- probably Chinese- and not sure the other. It was Russian. There was also a Spanish conversation going on next to me.
But the Market is so wonderful- especially in the land of long, long growing seasons.

And I think that Farmer's Markets- certainly this one- is rather like a museum- or botanical garden- and I like to study each stand- and it's assortment- Do I need mention that Don does not share my enthusiasm- and looked rather pained through most of the experience- But he did help carry- the tomatoes, the red peppers, the avocado, the peaches, the raspberries, the pluots, the green onions, the garlic, the green beans, the fingerling potatoes, the artichokes, the dates (not dried- but fresh from the tree or bush or whatever- Did I mention that you go from booth to booth sampling fruit and spreads. Oh it is so very exciting. And everything is cash only.

We ended with a fantastic buttermilk/coconut/lime pie with fresh raspberry topping. It was wonderful.
(Note- in real time- at this very moment- I'm trying to finish this blog- and Don decides it is time for Jon Stewart and "The Daily Show"- now I love "The Daily Show"- it is sooooo funny- And I do find it my most reliable source of news- so I'm suppose to finish the blog- and watch "The Daily Show". But we've come to an understanding- "The Daily Show" is on pause- I've promised to be quick" And Don is just watching any news- programs that I do not find distracting at all!
It's not that Don was so enthusiastic at the idea- just the eating. In fact I distinctly remember him saying (more than once) "why do you think you need to make this pie", "I think you're getting carried away", "Steve really doesn't want you to fix this much food". I wasn't listening. In fact I didn't include his input into the menu decisions at all. And he really didn't think a BUTTERMILK PIE sounded like such a good idea. But it was good! In fact, it was REALLY GOOD!
But first the crust- and of course my inspiration is always my mother-in-law (I want all our prayers to be directed to Tulsa where my dear mother-in-law will have her fractured hip repaired tomorrow in the early AM):

And then you whisk together (I used my counter top mixer- but you could do it by hand)
1 1/2 cup of sugar; 3/4 cup of sweetened shredded coconut, 1/2 cup buttermilk; 1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut milk, 1 tbsp flour, 2 eggs, 2 egg yolks, 1/2- 1 tsp vanilla; juice and zest from 1 lime. Pour into pie crust (I brushed with egg white to seal so wouldn't get soggy).

And bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes- until center is set.

Then cool to room temperature. I served with raspberry sauce.

Now if you think you're tired reading- you ought to consider for a moment how tired I am writing- But we're not done yet! Finally, in need of some exercise, we headed north up the coast to Tomalis Bay for some hiking. This trail was about 3 miles through some dense undergrowth with a cool canape of mixed foliage. We had never really hiked in this environment of trees. We were close to Tomalis Bay, but not much above the level of the bay, so the foliage was dense and the temperatures cool. These Live Oaks were spectacular with their twisted trunks and limbs forming a somewhat surreal, other worldly look.

One really nice aspect of the hike was that the poison oak had already turned a nice shade of red, so it was readily visible and avoidable.

As I looked at the poison, it dawned on me that this might be as close as I'll get to fall color this year. Not much color. Just a tiny big. But next year...


Lucas said...

Whew! I need a nap after all that, but first I think I'll take a slice of that pie! Mmmmmmm. Pie!

Beyond The Strip said...

Wow, the pie looks wonderful! The Farmer's Market sounds like a great time, I think Don is just sandbagging. Who wouldn't enjoy waking around all that fresh produce? Sorry the adventure will come to a premature end. - b

fiddleheads said...

wow! i would love a piece of that pie too. thats the first time i've seen your famous pie crust! it looks scrumptious.

Amber said...

i like your fish plates! they are super cute!

The Life and Times of Poose and Hawk said...

I don't think I should read your blog when I'm hungry-and I am sooo hungry right now! I think those were purple peppers? I've never seen such a thing. Exhausting. And Sam is stinkin' cute!

The Life and Times of Poose and Hawk said...

Oh, I just read the comments-I second Boo's opinion!