Wednesday, November 30, 2011

the grapefruit are here

Monday there was a huge display of grapefruit at the store, and I bought a few. I am one of those people who is susceptible to such displays. And I inevitably shop hungry. One of my favorite things about winter is all the citrus.

As I unpacked the grapefruit from the grocery bags, I remembered a cocktail we made a few times last winter. Our friend Gary told Alexi about it, or about an approximation of something like it he'd had. It's too good not to mention, here. I plan to make some this weekend; maybe you will, too.

1.5 oz grapefruit juice
1.5 oz St. Germain elderflower liqueur
1.5 oz vodka

Chill cocktail glass in the freezer for at least 10 minutes. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the above ingredients. Shake well. Strain into the chilled glass. Enjoy.

Serves 1.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I once heard Nancy Pearl say that you should read into a book 100 pages minus your age before deciding to stop reading it. In general, I think she's right. I recently bought The Marriage Plot with high expectations; Jeffrey Eugenides is quite a writer. I've been reading it slowly, uninterestedly, and have only continued it for lack of something better on hand. Until yesterday! I finally got into it. And I'll be surprised if I don't lose sleep reading it late into the night over the next couple of days.

Abbott recently read Wildwood and loved it, and wanted me to read it, too. So, I've also started that. It's fantastically well written, and the illustrations are wonderful. We downloaded the audio book so Cal could hear it, and we've all been enjoying it on our car trips to school, to hockey, etc.

Happy Tuesday to you.

Monday, November 28, 2011


I threw out the pumpkins on the porch, and got rid of all things harvest looking inside and out, aside from the wet leaves. I worked on those, but couldn’t eradicate them.

I grocery shopped and did laundry. Mailed packages, dropped off drycleaning, and went to the bank. The postal clerk was grim. The grocery store staff seemed to be in a state of post-traumatic stress; probably from a harried week at work last week leading up to Thankgsiving. Those I’m on a first name basis with barely said hello. I paid bills, answered emails, and diminished my task list. It felt good to be productive and focused.

The sun was out, intermittently. Abbott raked for money, and then I worked outside while the boys played street hockey with a neighbor. We stayed out until the sun was all the way down and the street was lit by the crescent moon.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


We’ve been away for a few days. Cal played in a hockey ‘jamboree’ (a few games) in the Portland area, so we decided to make a long weekend out of it. We walked the city, ate a lot of good food, played in the hotel pool, read books. We saw Arthur Christmas, which was clever and hilarious and warm. One of the best Christmas movies I’ve seen; modern and timeless at the same time. And we’ve been listening to and enjoying A Very She & Him Christmas all weekend.

I hope your weekend was a good one. It's always harder having it end after a holiday, isn't it?

Thursday, November 24, 2011


I hope you had a nice holiday with those you love. xoxo

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

November 23

Today is Alexi's birthday. The first celebration in this season, for us. He likes having it so close to Thanksgiving (some years, on the holiday), because those near and dear are often gathered around. We slowed down and had an easy day together; a nice pause before the busier days of celebration are upon us.

Best wishes.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Coconut macaroons I made today for a Hockey Fights Hunger event. (The cookies were only used to fight the hunger of the participants; a canned food drive was the plan for fighting hunger in our community.)

My (ten year old) niece ended her Christmas wish list with, 'PLEASE, nothing sparkly.' I love her.

We need a better system for choosing movies. It often takes Alexi and me, seemingly, as long to select something to watch as it does to watch it. Seen anything good lately?

Happy Tuesday to you.

Monday, November 21, 2011


A P-Patch I encountered this morning on a walk through the Eastlake neighborhood.

I'm sitting down to make my finalized Thanksgiving shopping list; tomorrow morning I'll shop, then start cooking. Last year I made Stephanie's sweet potato biscuits and they were one of the best things on the table; planning to make them again. They were especially good for making little turkey and cranberry sauce sandwiches with the leftovers. I'll use Molly's cranberry sauce recipe. And I always make cornbread stuffing; I like Cook Illustrated's version best. I wanted to make a cheesecake instead of pie this year, but I got out-voted 3-1. What's on your menu this year?

Sunday, November 20, 2011


We had to leave the house just before 7:00 to get to Abbott’s hockey game. The sky was deep blue, barely light, clear. The first frost I’ve seen this year was on the ground and the rooftops and the car windows, and it hurt to inhale, it was so cold. The crescent moon shone directly above. The rink we drove to resides in a valley, and this morning it was full of a heavy, icy fog. As I got out of the car I heard honking above; my eyes followed the sound to the faint outline of two groups of geese flying in formation, shrouded in fog.

On the drive home I heard the end of something on NPR. ‘Cynicism is an easy place to pitch a tent…I urge you to choose a more honorable campsite.’

There was leftover Thai food for lunch, followed by a walk with a football. Gloria in Excelsis Deo, I sang along, as Abbott played the piano while I cooked dinner.

Another week begins.

Adam Gopnik on Thanksgiving

Friday, November 18, 2011

November 18

Is it just me, or are the weeks passing by ever more quickly as this year progresses?

Thanks so much for reading, and for all of your nice comments this week. Happy weekend.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

my best salad

For most Americans, next week is the week to travel, if you’re going to, or have the house fill up with guests for Thanksgiving. We, however, are starting early. Our school’s Grandparents/Special Friends Day is Friday, so tomorrow Alexi’s mother and stepfather are arriving. I haven’t gotten so far as to put sheets on the guest bed, fresh towels in the bathroom, or vacuum, but I have stocked the kitchen, and I’ve cooked. Everything will somehow come together or it won’t, and either way, we’ll all be glad to see each other. This afternoon I prepared a chicken for roasting tomorrow night, and made a salad for these Minnesotan, wild rice-loving relatives.

I’ve been making this for over a decade. Every time I share it with a crowd, I end up giving out the recipe. I’ve made it for Thanksgiving on more than one occasion.

Nutted Wild Rice
Slightly adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Rosso & Sheila Lukins

1 cup (1/2 pound) raw wild rice
5 ½ cups chicken stock or water
1 cup shelled pecan halves
1 cup yellow raisins
zest from 1 orange
¼ cup chopped fresh mint
4 scallions (green onions), thinly sliced
¼ cup olive oil
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Put the rice in a strainer and rinse it thoroughly under cold water.

Place the rice in a medium sized heavy saucepan. Add the stock or water, and bring it to a rapid boil. Adjust the heat to a gentle simmer, and cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes. After 30 minutes check the rice for doneness; you don’t want it to get too soft. Place a thin towel inside a colander and turn the rice into the colander to drain. Transfer the drained rice to a bowl.

Add the remaining ingredients to the rice; toss gently. Adjust the seasonings to taste. Let the mixture stand at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to develop. Serve at room temperature.

Yield: 6 portions

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

these days

We've had a stretch of clear days that have been cold in the mornings, warm by afternoon. They've been beautiful.

Monday, November 14, 2011


One day last week, Abbott had a playdate with a friend after school. While we waited for him, Cal and I dropped in on my friend Sherri, who lives in the same neighborhood. It felt good to be able to do that -- I wish my life was more full of dropping by and having people do the same, here. We used to live within walking distance of this friend, and I found myself a bit in awe of the surrounding architecture, and the views, now unfamiliar to me, and spectacular because of it. Yet I remember after we moved, thinking about how much more I like it where we are now, compared to where we were.

Sherri recommended The Dovekeepers for my next read. I'm a little way into it and so far, I'm spellbound.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

at this point in November

It's been windy. Yesterday, Cal and I walked down to the beach to watch the waves crash. We've been seeing them through the window for the past couple of days; they're far more dramatic up close. Just down the street from us, there is an eagle's nest, inhabited by a male, a female, and their yearling. As soon as we stepped out the door Cal spotted one of them, flying low above us, then disappearing down toward the water below. Once on the beach, we saw two of them sitting on a rock, then leave it, soaring high, then back down and up, again, repeatedly. Alexi said he thinks his father told him the eating's good for birds when it's windy, because the water gets stirred up.

Now there are more branches without than with leaves. The neighbor's gingko lost all it's leaves over the weekend. Overnight, it seems, it finally feels like we're in the thick of November.

A full week ahead, for us. I'm sure for you, too. I hope it gets off to a good start for all of us. xo

Friday, November 11, 2011

Friday evening

The house is quieting, and before we know it our weekend will begin. And it will be full of each other, friends, rain, hockey, lego, chess, reading, pancakes, cider, movies in bed, and the first of the carols on the piano.

Best wishes to you this Friday.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cranberry Clafoutis

Last week, I noticed cranberries in the produce department for the first time this year. Instinctively, I guess you could say, I put a bag of them in my cart, without any particular plan. Cranberries in November just seem right. A day or two later, I found myself flipping through the November issue of Martha Stewart Living, and came across this recipe. A clafoutis is a fruit-filled, custard-like dessert with a texture somewhere between a flan and a soufflé. In the summer I like making a cherry and a blueberry version of this dessert, so I decided to try this variation with cranberries. I love the contrast between the tart berries and the sweet custard.

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, November 2011

Active time: 15 minutes. Total time: 1 hour 5 minutes.

1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature, for the dish
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
pinch of salt
2 large eggs
1 cup chilled heavy cream
¾ cup whole milk
2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest
2 cups fresh or thawed frozen cranberries, coarsely chopped
garnish: confectioners’ sugar

Preheat oven to 400F. Butter a 9 inch pie dish, then sprinkle the 2 tablespoons granulated sugar onto the dish. Sift the remaining ½ cup granulated sugar, the flour, and salt into a large bowl. Gradually whisk in the eggs, ¾ cup cream, the milk, and zest.

Scatter the cranberries into the dish, then pour the batter over the top. Bake until puffed, slightly set, and brown around the edges, 30-35 minutes. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes (it will sink).

Dust the clafoutis with confectioners’ sugar. Whisk the remaining ¼ cup cream until soft peaks form. Serve with whipped cream.

Yield: 6 servings