Oddities and Obsessions

sttropezA few years ago my friend Janet said to me “I’m saying yes, yes to everything.”

I thought, wow, Kimberly just said the same thing to me a few months before. She said, “Fredde, I’m saying yes to everything, every single new opportunity, it’s yes.” I didn’t want to be left behind — I prefer no – so I tried to get out of my comfort zone and sometimes, but not all the time, I was going to say “Yes!”

So what did I do? Nothing. Pretty much nothing. But I did say yes when Janet asked if I wanted to join her writing workshop in St. Tropez. That also meant getting to St. Tropez, which was a whole big schlep. My husband and I were planning a trip anyway so we arranged it around this workshop. I headed out alone to Paris, so I could acclimate to the time change. Two days and several croissants later I found my way to the train station. I had been thinking I should buy that ticket ahead of time, but Janet said it would be no problem getting one. Guess what? I was right and was stuck at the station for hours waiting for the next train. Still, I flowed with it, lost a favorite jacket carting my luggage in and out of bathrooms while I waited. But I finally made it, several hours late — and I might finally be over my romantic fantasy about train travel.

Read more ...

waffle_boy.jpg
 Charlotte Dean

I was reading the waffle recipe that comes with the Toastmaster Waffle Iron and it says that you put ½ cup of batter in your waffle iron to make a 9-inch round waffle.  Seems simple enough. 

About three years ago, I was in Nashville at a weekend songwriting workshop. I stayed at a hotel that claimed to be next door to a Waffle House. To me, when you say “next door,” that means you can walk out one door to the sidewalk then walk up a path to another door.  That’s “next door.”  To get to this particular Waffle House from my hotel I had to hike up a short hill to the highway, walk about 50 feet to the next clearing, then down the same short hill to get to the parking lot of the Waffle House.  Clearly it wasn’t designed for foot traffic from the hotel. Then again, I didn’t really stay in Nashville long enough to explore this design further.

Read more ...

miracle-berry-fruit.jpgLast summer, New York City rooftops teemed with people sucking on lemons and downing shots of vinegar. For about a month, in its characteristic tendency towards cult like obsession, everyone was talking about the magic berries that made all things acidic and sour taste sweet, and about the ‘flavortripping’ parties where people experimented with them. I, however, was in East Africa all summer on a strict diet of rice and beans sans utensils, and I missed the craze.

Somehow, it seems like Angelinos never got the Magic Berry memo. I was thrilled to find that upon my West Coast relocation I was in the company of people who had not yet ‘flavortripped’. When I learned that a friend of mine had twenty berries chilling in his freezer just WAITING for a throng of curious flavortrippers, I begged to be included. Last Sunday it finally happened. With a tub of olives from the Whole Foods olive bar, I walked into a room of energized people and bowls of lemons, grapefruit, limes, tomatoes, carrots, bok choy, cheeses, jalapeños, radish, and asparagus.  The liquids selection was even more obscure, with red and white wines, tequilas, vinegars, hot sauces, and beer.

Read more ...

porkbutt.jpgConfession: I love food that comes in the mail.

I, also love having something in the freezer just in case we decide on a whim to have eight people for dinner tomorrow night. Or tonight for that matter, but this only works if you decide this early enough in the day to defrost whatever it is you have in the freezer just in case you’re entertaining on a whim.

A few weeks ago, I was sent samples from Edwards & Sons Virginia Traditions BBQ. It was summer and I was really excited to get them, especially since the samples included an entire pork roast butt (completely suitable for a dinner party of eight or more).

I don’t write about things that are sent to me unless I love them. Those “crabcakes” from Baltimore come to mind, the ones that sort of resembled a baseball. We tried everything – we even put them in a tomato sauce and put them on top of spaghetti – no luck. A crabcake should not resemble a meatball!

Read more ...

welcome.jpgThis past January, something hot and sexy began creeping its way through the chilly winter snows in Idyllwild, California. Locals were struck with the highly contagious Caseymania, which is like Beatlemania but without the screaming hysterical teenage girls. Well, not in Idyllwild, at least. But to inhabitants of this tiny mountain town, it was close to the same thing.

The median age of the town’s 4,000 inhabitants is 47.2, so hysterical screaming might have been at a minimum, but instead, this all-American town offered up enduring and low-key pride. Casey Abrams is the town’s boy, they own him, they love him and they support him. Even now that he’s been “voted off”, their hope springs eternal.

casey_abrams.jpg“He gets to tour, bound to make upwards of a hundred-fifty thou,” you hear an old-timer say with the cantankerous certainty of a gold prospector. Poor Casey never stood a chance. He had three big strikes against him in the TV-blurred minds of the American Idol voters (them being tweenage girls).

Strike 1: He’s funny-looking.
Strike 2: He’s a ginger.
Strike 3: He’s undeniably talented.

Read more ...