Oddities and Obsessions

buttrub.jpgI have known my friend Vicki since we were twelve. Without being excessively specific, that’s a long, long time. I met her when I got involved with our community theater, where she was already in a play (I was, at that point, just providing a baby doll to serve as a prop) and I knew instantly that she was not only taller, but quite a lot cooler than I was. For the next seven years we were in plays, orchestras, quartets and classes together, and spent a fair amount of recreational time together, too. Her legs alone are taller than all of me, she is a math whiz, she is the only person I know who was simultaneously in band, choir and orchestra, she has a rapier-sharp wit, and (perhaps most important) she is a loyal and kind friend, and a really good mom.

We live in the same place again now, after my years of wandering, and she recently returned from a trip South with a bag of goodies for me including fig jam, barbecue sauce and the unfortunately named “Butt Rub.” (Hereinafter “Stuff.”) Since I am a delicate and ladylike person, it took me a little while to get over the shock of seeing the, um, “Stuff” on my counter. (I am one of those extraordinarily old fashioned mothers who will not allow my kids to say the word “butt,” at least not in my hearing). There is also the inevitable, and probably intentional evocation of Desitin to deal with. I am far, far too pure to live in this world of sin and crudity….

Read more ...

crepe-suzette.jpg Why is a mimosa called a mimosa? The flower is sort of pink and spikey. The drink is spiked...? The drink is actually orange, fresh orange juice and preferably good champagne and it was first served (or first served under the name mimosa) at the Paris Ritz.  But I’m still not certain why it’s called a Mimosa.

Cherries Jubilee is easier to determine.  It was invented by Auguste Escoffier who prepared the dish for one of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee Celebrations in the late 1800’s and paved the way for other fruit flambéed desserts, notably Crepes Suzette which legend has it was created in 1895 at Monte Carlo’s Cafe de Paris by a 14 year old sous chef by mistake – he got too close to a chafing dish and the alcohol caught fire– as he was serving the Prince of Wales who was dining with a young lady whose name was, you guessed it, Suzette. 

Read more ...

fair.jpgMy good buddy Al Yankovic invited a group of his friends to attend the premiere of his short movie entitled Al’s Brain….at the County Fair!! His invitation was sweet. It included the phrase “for those of you who feel like schlepping down there..”

The film was about the workings of the brain and had cameos from the comedy world’s elite, including Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim (Tim & Eric) Patton Oswalt (Brilliant Stand-up Member of Comedians of Comedy and the voice of the Rat in Ratatouille) and Thomas Lennon (Reno 911, I Love You Man) to name a few. This was a special event held at the Orange County Fair Pavilion where Al’s Brain will be showing for the entire run of the Fair.

During the event, which was private and the night before the Fair opened, we were treated to  “A Taste of The OCF”.

Read more ...

steamedclams.jpgHi, I'm Dave and I'm a shellfishaholic. My wife wants me to stop writing about shellfish because they aren't everyone's cup of tea. But I can't resist the temptation. When we were in Boston recently, the one restaurant I had to visit was the Union Oyster House. While Michael and Michelle rested at the hotel, I snuck away and happily indulged in a dozen oysters and a bowl of clam chowder.

Today at the Santa Monica Farmers' Market, Carlsbad Aquafarm had fresh oysters, clams, mussels, and live abalone. I wanted to buy everything. I showed some restraint. I only bought the oysters and clams.

A nice thing about shellfish is they keep in the refrigerator for several days as long as you follow a couple of suggestions. Oysters need to be stacked in a bowl with the rounded part of the shell down, so the oyster sits in its own liquid. Clams will drown if they're submerged in water. Save a plastic basket that comes with strawberries. Cut it in half, put it on the bottom of a bowl and the clams on top. That will keep the clams above any water they spit out while they're waiting in the refrigerator.

Read more ...

butter-1.jpgA few years ago I started a poll on Facebook. I wanted to know what possessions make people feel wealthy that aren’t expensive or fancy. Like toilet paper. When I have ample rolls of toilet paper I feel strangely satisfied. And pens. When I have a lot of pens I feel very, very rich in a weird way. I just love to not have to go searching high and low for them. I like bundles of them in the office and kitchen and living room and a few in the bedroom even. I know it’s weird. I know.

The thing that always makes me feel rich in the kitchen is butter. When I have copious amounts of butter I feel that anything is possible.

A month ago Shannon and I took a short road trip down to North Carolina. He has two grand-aunts in Southern Pines that he hadn’t seen in years and felt like reconnecting with. I was a little reluctant because I would be addressing two of my biggest fears – elderly relatives of boyfriends and my belief that all relationships end on long road trips. I’m happy to report neither of my fears came to fruition. In actuality, Shannon’s grand-aunts are about as adorable a pair as I’ve ever met; little and feisty with high pitched, low toned drawls that made me chuckle every time they said anything.

Read more ...