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He says Uh-Oh, I say Tomatoes! Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Posted by Grace in from the kitchen.
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We’re up to our ears in tomatoes around my neck of the woods at the mo.’

This isn’t a problem for me, because tomato is one of the staples in my diet; but my poor brother, who is not a huge fan of them is having some issues with the mountain that seem to be coming inside every time anyone goes out to the garden.

The thing is, he will eat just about anything if it’s covered in cheese. (Funny, I’m that way with tomato, or gravy, or chocolate…) I seem to have made a hit today with a cheesy tomato-y tart.

Tomato Tart with Cheese and Thyme

pie crust to line a 9-inch tart pan

1 1/2 pounds garden tomatoes of mixed variety, sliced 1/4 inch thick

2 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, sliced into thin rings

1/2 C cream

2 sprigs of thyme leaves (maybe 1 to 1 1/2 tsp)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 C grated aged cheddar

Roll out your pie crust to 1/4 inch thick. Line the pan, pressing the crust into the sides. Bake, weighted, in a 400 degree oven 15-20 minutes, and then an additional 5-10 uncovered to let it brown up.

While the baking is going on, brown the onion slices in the olive oil in a heavy pan, transferring to a plate when finished. Pat the tomato slices dry and then start them caramelizing in the same pan, 2-3 minutes per side, adding them to the plate with the onions once they are finished. Do this in batches so as to not over crowd the pan.

Add the cream, thyme and garlic to the remaining juices and simmer, reducing by half. Season it with the salt and pepper. Stir in most of the cheese. Pour the sauce into the cooked tart shell and top with the onion and tomato. They should lay mostly flat, so that you can see all of the pretty concentric circles. Sprinkle it with the remaining cheese. Replace in the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

I used a mix of all of the tomato types we’ve got in the garden, because we’ve got some crazily flavorful heirlooms that gave it a different taste, but any kind of tomato you have available to you should work. Also, mix it up with the cheese you use, if you give this a try, because I just used what we had in the fridge.

Bon appetite!

The Last Weekend Saturday, August 30, 2008

Posted by Grace in from the kitchen, strange days.
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Well, this  it.  Next week I’m back to campus and back to classes. This is the last weekend, the final hurrah if you will.

It is only fitting that in a few hours we are heading out to the beach.  The weather is great, and its going to be good to soak up a few more hours of sun and vitamin D before hitting the library.

The last weekend of summer needs it’s signature cocktail, so I’m gonna let you guys in on one of my personal favorites: the Jolly Rancher. It’s sweet but tart, and if I could hold the alcohol, I’m pretty sure I’d drink a pitcher.

Jolly Rancher

1 oz green apple Sour Puss, or other green apple liquer

1 oz Peach Schnapps

Splash of cranberry juice

(And if you’re a lightweight like me, Sprite or some other mix to cut it.)

All you need to do is pour the first three ingredients over ice in a cocktail shaker, give it a good shake, and strain into a glass. I like it over ice, but I’m pretty sure it is standardly served straight. If you’re using the additional mix, pour it over top.

I hope the end of everyone out there’s summer is going to end well. The season may not be over, but University looms.

Giving Thanks Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Posted by Grace in strange days.
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My back driver’s side tire picked up a nail.

I was proud as punch of myself: I got the car jacked up, took off the injured tire, and was most of the way through getting the spare on when Fearless got home from work.

After taking a look at the tire he cracked a joke about me trying to do his job. Still in his greens, he suggested we take the tire to get repaired in his car, saving us from having to get the spare on and drive it over that way.

I asked if he wanted to change, maybe shower, before we went, knowing that those things he feels are pertinent to do after getting home from work.

He said we’d do that after we finished the task at hand.

After we dropped the tire off at the store where I had bought it, we had forty minutes of time to burn before they said it would be done. So we set about meandering through the whole sale store, window shopping (is it still window shopping if you’re inside the store?).

We stopped, looking at a stand alone winch (or something, haha) and he was talking about it, adding it to the mental list of things he’d like to have. It would be so useful.

Someone stepped up behind us, and thinking that we were impeding his way, I reached for Fearless’ arm, to perhaps pull him out of the way. Before I got to him, the man stepped in between us.

The stranger took his hand and shook it. Thank you for doing what you do. God bless.

He turned and smiled at me, and then walked away.

Fearless felt kind of awkward about it. Saying, I haven’t done anything. I haven’t even been overseas.

Still, in a time when all too often men and women in uniform are regarded with a certain wariness, disrespect or even spite it was a nice thing to witness.

To any of you people in the services out there, it isn’t said often enough. Thank you, really.

Chef Crushes Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Posted by Grace in strange days.
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Anthony Bourdain and Nigella Lawson should have a baby and impart to it their cooking skills and personality. It would be a sublimely dichotomous child, but man would it be able to cook.

Just a thought.

Patterns Saturday, August 23, 2008

Posted by Grace in eating crackers in bed, strange days.
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Driving in the car a few days ago, Fearless and I were talking and he mentioned something I’d heard about before, but had never really thought about. And it’s been sort of stuck in my head since.

He brought up the idea that people look for people similar to their parents when starting relationships. The whole idea of a man wanting his lady to be like his mother. Not act as his mother, but to share some of the same basic personality traits.

He made an example of me, as well as another person he was with for a long time before I came around. First, that both of us have some common traits with his mom: a little bit shy, creative, like to spend time in the kitchen, and being kind hearted (though, if I remember correctly, he used the word softies).

I brought up the point that if people do look for their parents in their partners, what was I supposed to go off of? My dad died when I was very young, I have little recollection of him. How am I supposed to be looking for men like him when I don’t really know who he was? (Note: This was not brought up in any sort of woe is me, accusatory way. It happened a long time ago, and it’s not something I get really emotional about whenever fatherly topics come up. It was just a point to be made.)

Fearless said that my dad had been around in my life long enough to have made an impact, and though I may not know on a very conscious level the person that he was, on a visceral level I knew the type of person he was. And that I know things about him, it’s just that what I know I’ve been taught, I don’t know it first hand.

And much of that proves true: my father was a very masculine in the classic sense, he knew how to fix just about anything, was very much a provider/protector personality, loved being outdoors and working with his hands. 

The type of man I generally get interested in is classically masculine, outdoors-y, a Mr. Do-it-yourself and it’s important to me that I get that feeling that I’m safe with them (not that I haven’t been wrong before). 

So fine, he had a point. But then he pointed out that A, the other girl, and also had many similarities. And that’s what’s been sticking in my head.

Besides the obvious your last two relationships have been with Army men, Grace there have been some interesting similarities I’ve found between Fearless and First.

What has really been making it stick to my brain so much is their similarities with the one other person who I’ve been in a relationship.  Now, I’m not going to mince words, he was a manipulative, controlling, violent person. It wasn’t good, or healthy, while we were together. I had been told often enough that it was, so I believed him, but that’s a different story for a different day.

First and Fearless both habitually are decision makers. This is not a bad thing, but when you’re looking at it, they are the person who generally takes control. I know that it’s nothing near the degree of controlling that this nameless person was, but it’s still a strange parallel.

I don’t think I’m going to go into this too much deeper here, but it’s just strange, when you think of it, the lines you can draw and patterns you can see.

Any of you out there looking for your parents in your significant others?

Summer Kisses and Drunken Cherries Friday, August 22, 2008

Posted by Grace in from the kitchen, until the wheels fall off.
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…And then I don’t post for eleven days. Ha ha.

Cherries always make me think of kissing. The bite of flavor from one gives me a similar rush to when a certain someone’s lips are on mine. That, and the taste of cherries takes me right back to my first kiss.

I was working up at one of the national parks for the summer, not too many years ago, as a camp counselor. It was Saturday afternoon, in that gorgeous space of time when one week’s campers had left and the next week’s weren’t going to arrive until the next morning. That left the entire camp: kitchen, cabins, beach, canoes and kayaks to the camp staff.

A group of us counselors had hiked the hour or so into town, to pick up various amenities that had run out over the week. Candy, soap, sunscreen, etc. At the tiny general store, which carried everything from swim suits to screw drivers, I purchased a bag of cherries.

When we got back from the excursion, some of us went to suntan or nap, and the rest of us headed to the beach to swim.

Sitting on the dock, drying in the sun, we talked of schemes that seem to bubble up in camp counselors left to their own devices.  How long would it take to swim across the lake? Lifejackets would slow us down, wouldn’t they? How could another fan be jerry rigged into action in stifling hot cabins with a single electrical outlet? Do we have enough finger paint left from last week to make a mural on a staff cabin wall?

People gradually started to head back to shore from the floating dock, taking with them their sandy damp towels and half empty bags of chips, candy and fruit that had been contributed to the floating smorgasbord. It was starting to get cool, so the last of us started to pick up our stuff. I folded up my towel and zipped the top of what remained of the cherries.

As I stood up he stepped in and I was face to face with TM. And he smiled, took my hand in his, and kissed me.

… Neither of us heard the end of it the rest of the summer.

Drunken Cherries

Ingredients:

1 ½ lbs dark cherries

2 C red wine

½ C sugar

2 strips of orange peel

1 stick of cinnamon.

In a saucepan, bring everything but the cherries to a boil for a couple minutes until it gets syrupy. Let cool. Strain out orange peel and cinnamon stick.

Put the cherries in a bowl that has a tight fitting lid. Pour syrup over cherries. Cover and put it in the fridge. You’re going to want to let it get happy for a couple of hours, or even make it a day ahead.

When you’re ready, ladle them out into cups or bowls. They’re great by themselves, but even better over ice cream.

Returns Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Posted by Grace in strange days.
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It has been a while, hasn’t it?

It’s good to be back.

I promise to be more present, and prolific, from this point on.

There’s just so much to say.

Sumo Wrestlers and Giant Squid Monday, June 16, 2008

Posted by Grace in strange days.
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I know this is probably really old news for some people, but I have fallen in love with something I thought I never would.

That’s right: a video game.

Beautiful Katamari for the 36o.

Basically, you are the Prince, this tiny little guy who rolls up balls of stuff to recreate celestial bodies that have been destroyed by a black hole. The black hole was created by a particularly strong tennis serve by the King of All Cosmos that ripped space a new one.

As you go along, picking up small items, such as candy and matchsticks, your katamari gets larger, it’s gravitational force increasing, allowing you to roll up larger items. Eventually you’re rolling up thermoses, gorillas, sumo wrestlers, buses, high rises, giant squid, islands, continents and the world!

Why I like it: It’s easy. Most video games I have tried out require a lot more button mashing, whereas this one is like driving a tank. You have two toggle bars and you direct them where you want to go. Also, it’s colorful. Like 60’s-acid-trip colorful. But it’s that dash of whimsy randomness that I’ve fallen in love with. You’re a little tiny prince rolling up whatever you come across: pieces of sushi, fires, cows. The King of All Cosmos says funny things.

I’ve heard say that it’s Sony predecessors may be of a slightly higher quality in the areas of attention to detail and quality of environment. Anybody have any thoughts?

I just thought I should say, if you haven’t tried it, it’s a lot of fun. I’m not much of one for video games, but I’ve become a little addicted.

How big of a katamari can you roll?

Morning Sunday, June 15, 2008

Posted by Grace in marble & holly.
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My father was a man in the old classical sense. Tall, broad shouldered, a man of few words, but words well said. He loved to be outdoors, to work with his hands, to be able to fix things and understand how they worked. His father died young, and leaving his mom (my grandmother) and two sisters, so he had a strong sense of needing to be there and provide for his family.

My mom tells stories about how when my brother and I were babies he was always scared that he would break us, so small and fragile in his large, calloused hands. That when we were still pretty brand new he would carry us like little footballs.

The last time I saw him, he came into my bedroom and woke me up. I was confused because it was still dark out. He hugged me and told me he loved me, tucked me back in and got up to leave.

My five-year-old mind was confused, I asked where he was going.

He told me that he was going away. Away to work? I asked. He didn’t answer.

I asked if I could come with him. He came back, sat down on the edge of the bed, and said, No, you can’t come with me Grace.

He stayed for a moment, kissed my forehead, and adjusted the covers. He would always adjust the covers after tucking me in because his strong hands would tuck me in too tight.

I remember hearing the click of my bedroom door closing after he left, the footsteps down the hallway, and after that it goes blank. I must have fallen back asleep. The next thing I remember is sitting in the basement watching The Land Before Time, and my mom coming downstairs and asking if I knew where he was.

Dad, I sometimes still wonder what would have happened if I had been more insistent, if I had tried harder to come with you. A part of me feels you would still be here if I hadn’t confusedly just let you leave. That you couldn’t have done what you did if you had me there, or if you had lingered a little longer with me.

The majority of the time I had with you, I was too young to remember. Still I miss you a lot on days like today.

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