Archive for November, 2012


November 29, 2012

Today, Graham is eight.  He is the age I was when my youngest brother was born.  It’s been three years since I first wrote about my first and oh so special child.  At that time, I felt just the slightest bit bewildered by him.  Crazy overflowing amounts of love with just the stirrings of fear about what the future might bring.  By the time I wrote my second post, a subtle impatience was starting to take up residence in my psyche.  I have written other posts to celebrate his successes and some to celebrate his birthdays.  You see him often in my Slice of Life posts.  But I haven’t written much lately about how is doing and how I am doing with him.  This is a hard post to write, as all of them have been.  How do you talk about your child?  How do you begin to explain someone who you think is so incredibly wonderful but who can be a never-ending source of frustration?

I had a complete breakdown moment soon after we arrived in France in June, for our month long vacation.  Randy and I had just made the difficult decision to move to the Bay Area after years in Seattle.  I had gone through all the pros and cons in my mind ad nauseum.  In spite of leaving family, an incredible network of friends, my career, and a wonderful elementary school, we decided our family was ready for a new adventure.  The breakdown came when I circled back to thinking about Graham.  All of our wonderful friends who have children around his age have known him since he was a baby.  Graham is just Graham.  His quirks are just a small part of who he is.  Children who have always known him can appreciate that he is a sincere and loving child who wants nothing more than to play and laugh and eat snacks.  He is a little different and that fact does not seem to phase those who have always known him.  What about a completely new network of people?  How do I explain my child to families?  Should I have to?

Graham is in second grade.  He has an undefined developmental delay.  He is not on the autism spectrum.  He has an IEP (individualized education plan) which allows him to get help in the areas where he needs it, but he is in a regular classroom.  His delay affects his speech and cognition and because those two things are integral in interacting socially, he is delayed in that area too.   He is shockingly good at math and puzzles and things requiring spatial awareness.  His short term memory is terrible, his long term memory is scary good.  (He won’t remember where he put his pencil, but will remember an event that happened years ago just from a glance down a street.  I operate this way too.)

Graham continues to be a very even keel child.  He almost never gets upset and almost always goes with the flow.  This is surprising considering he doesn’t always understand exactly what is going on.  He is very well behaved in his classroom and at home.  He loves people and will strike up a conversation with just about anybody.  Adults and older children are utterly charmed by him but kids his age – not so much.

I used to wonder at what age kids would start to notice that there was something different about Graham and it turns out that second grade is the age.  He has been teased.  The kids nudge each other and ask, “What did he say?”  Some of them have hidden his lunch box from him and, according to Graham, they make fun of his clothes and his skin.  (He dresses well because I still pick out his clothes for him and he has dark skin.  I wasn’t aware that those were things that were tease-able offenses.)  I have talked to many friends about what is going on and most of them are horrified.  Most schools have a strict no-bullying policy and I’m sure ours is no different.  I know that kids are cruel.  I see most of the girls in his class completely ignoring him while they are catty behind each others’ backs and I thank the universe, for the umpteenth time, that Graham is not a girl.  (Disclaimer:  we know some amazing empathetic and kind girls who are absolutely lovely with Graham.)

And where am I in all of this?  I am heartbroken for him.  The fact that anyone would make fun of such a sweet soul makes me want to scream.  I am grateful that he still doesn’t know that anything is different about him and that he misses most of the eye rolling and nudging.  I am thankful that (still!) every time a new adult helper comes into his orbit, the first thing they tell me is how delightful he is.  Graham handled a huge transition – a move to a new state, new house, and new school – with a smile on his face and adventure in his heart.

Our next steps are to involve the principal and his teacher as much as possible.  Our hope is that getting some awareness about kids who are a little different at this still young age might nip some of the teasing in the bud.  We also plan to enroll Graham in some social therapy.  The idea is that there is truly a social language that most children learn naturally.  I see this with Spencer.  The way he interacts with his peers is not something I or Randy have taught him – he just picked it up.  Graham tries, he is so motivated to make friends, but his language delay sometimes makes it difficult.  So we will get him in a supervised play group where he will learn about how to be a good friend, how to appropriately interact with kids, and how to walk away from people who are being unkind.  That is the hope at least.

Whenever I write these posts about Graham, I get the most amazing and kindest comments and emails back.  Many of them applaud me for being a good mother.  Most days I feel like I am.  Some days I know I am not.  Graham tests my patience at some point everyday and sometimes all day.  I know we all get inpatient with our children and some of us yell.  When I get angry at Spencer, I rarely feel bad afterward.  He has done something he is not supposed to, he knows it, he does it anyway, and I get mad.  We talk about it afterward and we move on.  With Graham, the things that drive me to distraction about him are usually things he cannot help.  He doesn’t deliberately forget to bring home his jacket or the name of someone he has known since he was born – there is a section in his IEP about his memory.  It is truly impaired.  He doesn’t intentionally not listen to me, he only catches about three-quarters of what I say, if that.  He can’t help it if he just can’t grasp the concept of days getting darker, or geography, or many of the other things children his age just seem to get.

What makes me feel terrible about myself (at times) is that I believe that Graham tries his best at everything every day.  How many children can you say that about?  He is a first born, rule following, approval seeking, sweet-to-the-core kid.  Why do I feel embarrassed by him sometimes?  Why do I occasionally wish it was different in our house?  How can I hold him in my arms, almost unable to bear the sweetness, and then be driven to distraction by him not five minutes later?  Is it him that I wish was different, or myself?  I read something recently that said if we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we would grab ours back.  As much as I look to parents of typically developing children and envy them at times, I know that they have their own struggles, struggles I would not want.  And there are, of course, people who have it much worse than we do and those who have it unspeakably bad and when I think about those folks, I want to simultaneously squeeze Graham and hang my head in shame.

In all of this, I have to say a word about my amazing husband.  My Naval Academy educated, former Navy pilot, Harvard MBA, brilliant and athletically gifted husband.  If you had told me that we were going to have a child who had some undefined issues that would make school and team sports difficult for him, I might told you that Randy would would really struggle with that.  He takes great pride in his intelligence, his fearlessness, his drive, and his successes – as well he should.  I hope he also takes great pride in what a kind and loving father he is.  The man who tells you he has no patience is the one sitting with Graham helping him sound out his reading words over and over again.  He is the man taking him to Cub Scouts and soccer, helping him learn to ski, and is the first one to say that he doesn’t care if Graham goes to college at all as long as he is happy and healthy.  And out of the house by age 18.

This is a serious post.  So allow me to tell a funny story.  When Graham was in kindergarten, he was in the bathroom peeing and a mean boy pushed him.  This terrified Graham and ever since, he has sat down to pee.  (This is not the funny part.)  It’s not something we care about except when we are out and public toilets are sketchy, we are at a park and the restrooms are closed for the winter, or when we contemplate future camping trips with the Cub Scouts.  Randy and I have tried cajoling him, patiently sitting with him in the bathroom, bribing him, threatening him (I’m not proud), all to no avail.  Last week, Spencer wondered what would happen if we paid Graham a quarter each time he stood up and peed, with the promise of a toy when he reached eight times.  Wouldn’t you know it – he has stood up ever since.  Happy birthday my sweet eight year old boy.

A Slice of My Life – Weeks 46 and 47

November 26, 2012

How was your holiday?  Or, if you are not American, how was your week?  We had a busy holiday week in Seattle and a quiet week before that.  I’m going to squish the two together in one post.  By the way, above is my new neighborhood with its new sign outside the BART station.  You can also see my two little monkeys who always want to climb on it.

Places I Ate:

Friends came to town and we decided to do a dinner in San Francisco.  I got this restaurant recommendation from a trusted source but it was sadly not a win for me.  Our friends, who both got the fried chicken, thought it was great.  If you are vegetarian, don’t go to Maverick.

THE perfect place if you are missing Seattle, happen to be in Seattle, and want to eat Seattle food.  We had a terrific meal with our friends John and Lauren at Sitka and Spruce.  It was a favorite of mine when I lived there and there is a good reason for that.  Everything I ate that night was amazing.

On the other end of the spectrum, Claim Jumper.  It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving; we were simultaneously celebrating birthdays for my mom, Graham, my niece, and sister-in-law; we had four kids who were crazy excited to see each other and Claim Jumper was perfect.  Baked potato and salad, all the way.

Certainly the loveliest meal I had was at my friend Julie’s house.  She was a doll and hosted a lunch for me and a few friends who happened to be both in town and not wrangling kids on a Wednesday morning when there was no school.  True to Julie’s amazing hospitality skills, we had terrific snacks, a truly inspired and well balanced lunch complete with a favorite bottle of wine, and a beautiful table to sit at and enjoy each others company.

Things I Ate:

I ate a lot in two weeks.  ‘Tis the season, right?  I didn’t take pictures of most but here are a few.

The truly wonderful Sarah took me to a terrific taco joint (helmed by a former Chez Panisse alumni – only in Oakland) where we shared a quesadilla stuffed with squash and this amazing salad.  You know how much I love salad and this was one of the better ones I’ve tasted.  Persimmons, pomegranates, jicama, cucumber, perfect avocado (I love California!), crunchy sweet seeds, springy butter lettuce, and the perfect super tangy dressing that seemed to not have any oil in it, yet clinged so nicely to everything.  I WILL be attempting to recreate this.

What do you know?  Another salad.  This one has a (short) story.  We were due to fly out of Oakland at 10am on Monday but something went wrong with our airplane and they cancelled our flight.  We found this out after we had been waiting at the airport for two hours.  We were able to get on a 5pm flight out of San Francisco and because we had parked right at the Oakland airport (I love a small airport!), we piled back in the car and went in search of lunch.  We decided to go to Lake Merritt, a part of Oakland that we had not explored yet, and of course settled on Mexican food.  It is the de facto choice when the boys are involved.  I almost always order some form of taco salad and this one was a stunner.  Needed salt though.

This was my plate at Julie’s.  Mushroom tart, incredible brussels sprouts salad with pickled onions (she sent me the recipe, I’m making it soon), her version of the No-Knead bread with walnuts and truffle oil (amazing!), my friend Jane’s celery root salad, and a sweet little corn muffin with honey butter made by my friend Deb.  THAT my friends, was a meal.

Oh my.  Obviously I didn’t eat this, but I sure did drink it.  Our friends who came to visit will be getting married in February.  It will be a doubly sweet wedding because their marriage, thanks to the inspired voters of Washington state, will finally be legal.  We needed to celebrate that and what better way to do it than with a truly special bottle of bubbly.  I’ve only had Dom three times in my life and it is a very special thing.

Things I Made:

Cookies.  Not chocolate.  Still good.

Pumpkin bread courtesy of Ashley.  It was super moist and I loved the seeds on top.  I have to say I like my favorite better though.

The cake I wished I could have made for Thanksgiving.  If only it could have survived a plane flight.  My mom looked up the original recipe and it was indeed from Sunset from 1976!


Lake Merritt.  Megan, once an Oakland dweller and now a Seattleite, calls it “ugly Greenlake”.  I think it has its own charm.

These days I feel like there are very few surprises in life.  And even fewer in the mail.  Bills, catalogs, an occasional food magazine.  Harry and David sent me a note saying that they were going to send me three exciting boxes in the coming months.  I was floored.  Even more so when the Washington state apples arrived.

My dad playing the airplane game with my boys.  It is one of the silly games that is impossible to explain, both the mechanics of it and exactly why it makes the boys giggle uncontrollably.  This is what grandparents do best.

A Cake for Thursday

November 19, 2012

You may have noticed that I have been awfully quiet about Thanksgiving this year.  I’m feeling a little misty about it to tell you the truth.  For the last five years or so, Randy and I hosted Thanksgiving in our black house with a red door in Seattle.  We had large gatherings and small intimate dinners.  Most of the meal was the same from year to year with a few curveball side dishes to make things interesting.  Before those five years, my parents hosted every year in my memory with the exception of one trip to New York City and one trip to visit me in college.

This year, we no longer live in the same city as my family does.  When it came down to whether or not we would visit Seattle for Thanksgiving or Christmas, I didn’t hesitate to say Thanksgiving.  Because my mom is recovering from hip surgery, she will not be hosting.  It falls to family friends, with whom we have shared every Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner (with the exceptions noted above) since I was two years old, to host this year.  So I am not hosting, my mom is not hosting, and I will not really be cooking much.  My mom was given a couple of assignments which I will either be helping her with or cooking myself, depending on how she is feeling.  But it’s not the same.  I’m not making the bread that I have made every year for twelve years.  The excitement I usually feel at this time of year is missing.  I think it is partly that the sun and mild temperatures make it hard for me to believe it is November, let alone turkey day.

Wah wah, poor me.  I am grateful that my boys have the whole week off from school so we can spend a little extra time in my hometown.  I am grateful to a dear friend who is going to put us up and another who is going to host a get-together for me.  I am grateful to our family friends who are stepping in to host in this year of odd circumstances.  I am grateful that I get to celebrate the birthdays of my mom, Graham, my niece, and my sister-in-law in one fell swoop.  Wait – grateful?  No, I am thankful.  For this and so much more.

This cake will not have a place on our Thanksgiving table.  But if you are hosting and you haven’t already decided on dessert, you might want to consider this amazing treat.  I first made this cake years ago and I think the recipe came from Sunset.  My mom dictated it to me over the phone – she didn’t direct me to a web site or send it to me via email, so that will give you an idea of how long ago.  The note paper I scribbled it onto slipped behind other recipes in my notebook and I completely forgot about it until I was trying to decide on a dessert to make for special friends.  This just popped into my head.  It is the perfect fall cake and I think it would be terrific after Thanksgiving dinner.

This is a simple jelly roll cake.  The cake itself is pumpkin and it is filled with vanilla ice cream.  I made it back when I was a pretty novice baker and it turned out perfectly, so don’t let the shape of it scare you.  In my more novice days, I bought a quality vanilla ice cream to fill the cake and a quality caramel sauce to drizzle over top.  Now that I am more experienced, I made the ice cream to fill it and a salted caramel sauce to drizzle over top.  Either way, what you have is a beautiful fragrant slice of fall that can be made in advance and brought out to a chorus of praise.  And thanks.  I wish you all the very best – whether you are making a big dinner, attending one, or Thursday is just another day.

One Year Ago:  Squash Hummus and Homemade Flatbread, Butternut Squash Soup with Ginger
Two Years Ago:  Three Cheese Mini Macs, Orecchiete with Creamy Leeks, Vegetarian Gravy, Burnt Sugar Bundt Cake
Three Years Ago:  Maple Roasted Delicata Squash, Naan, Peanut Curry with Sweet Potato and Collard Greens
Four Years Ago:  Pumpkin Whoopie Pies, Giant Chocolate Toffee Cookies, Brussels Sprouts Hash with Caramelized Shallots

Pumpkin Roll Cake
Adapted from Sunset (I think)
Makes 1 large roll, serving about 8-10

As I mentioned, you can certainly make this with store-bought ice cream and caramel sauce.  Use the best you can find.  My roll was more flat this time, my guests actually thought their slices were large biscotti, but I have gotten it to look more rounded in the past.  Patience helps as does ice cream that is soft but not too soft.

¾ cup flour
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. table salt
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
Powdered sugar

1 quart vanilla ice cream (recipe follows)
Salted caramel sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 375ºF.  Grease a jelly roll pan, then line the pan with parchment paper.  Grease the paper.

Mix flour, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl.  Beat eggs on high speed for 5 minutes, or until very thick.  Gradually beat in the sugar.  Using low speed, mix in the pumpkin, followed by the flour mixture.

Spread batter into prepared pan and smooth it well.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until the center of the cake springs back when touched.

Sprinkle a clean kitchen towel generously with powdered sugar.  Remove the cake from the oven and carefully invert the cake out onto the towel.  Remove the parchment paper.  Roll the cake up with the towel into a cylinder.  Cool completely.

Soften your ice cream for about 20 minutes in the refrigerator.  (If using homemade, you can use it directly out of the ice cream maker.)  Unroll the cake.  Spread the ice cream over the entire surface of the cake.  Roll the cake back up without the towel.  Working quickly, wrap the cake in parchment paper and then foil and immediately place in the freezer.  You can make this cake three days ahead, allow it to soften by pulling it out of the freezer about 10 minutes before you serve it.  Serve with caramel sauce.

Vanilla Ice Cream
The Perfect Scoop
Makes about 1 quart

1 cup whole milk
A pinch of salt
¾ cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 cups heavy cream
5 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk with a paring knife, then add the bean pod to the milk. Cover, remove from heat, and infuse for one hour.

To make the ice cream, set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2l) bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Set a strainer over the top of the smaller bowl and pour the cream into the bowl.

In a separate bowl, stir together the egg yolks. Rewarm the milk then gradually pour some of the milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Scrape the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan.

Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.

Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Stir over the ice until cool, add the vanilla extract, then refrigerate to chill thoroughly. Preferably overnight.

Remove the vanilla bean and freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Salted Caramel Sauce
Bon Appetit
Makes about 1 cup

¾ cup plus 2 tbsp. heavy cream
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
½ cup sugar
2 tbsp. light corn syrup
4 tbsp. (½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes
¼ tsp. kosher salt
Place cream in a small pitcher.  Scrape seeds from vanilla bean; add bean.  Set aside.
Stir sugar, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons water in a heavy saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves.  Increase heat to medium-high; boil, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush, until deep amber color forms, 506 minutes.  Remove from heat; gradually add vanilla cream (mixture will bubble vigorously).  Whisk over medium heat until smooth and thick, about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat; whisk in butter and salt.  Strain into a heatproof measuring cup.  Let cool slightly.  (Sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead.  Reheat in the microwave or in a saucepan over low heat.)

My Mom Told Me To

November 15, 2012

My mom is relatively new to my blog.    She has always enjoyed my writing.  Back in the days when we used to write letters (remember those?), I sent a lot of mail home.  Whether I was in camp, on a bike in France while in high school, in college, or studying in Paris, she and my dad got a lot of letters from me.  She always said I was a good writer.

When I first starting writing this blog, I think my mom might have been perplexed.  Most people I knew were perplexed, including my own husband.  This was way back in 2008 and the idea that someone might want to write about the food they were cooking, take pictures of it, and put it out there to the general public seemed a bit strange in my circle.  One by one, friends and loved ones starting reading, commenting, requesting recipes.  But not my mom.  I know she loves me, loves my writing, loves my food – but I also know she does not love technology.  It took her getting an iPad to finally realize how easy it is to get online and read my blog and lots of other things.  Now she has joined the chorus of, “is this going to be on your blog?” when she eats something in my house that she likes.

My parents came to visit us in the beginning of October.  I was so excited to see them, to show them our new home, our neighborhood, the beauty of where we now live.  I was also anxious to show my mom a good time and feed her well because she had a big operation looming when they returned home.  My mom is young and vigorous and healthy but she has the bad luck to also have terrible joints.  She has been having pain in her hip and the time had come to have it replaced.  A hip replacement, as I’m sure you know, is a big deal with a long recovery.  She has been unable to bear weight – i.e.- stand – for the past month.  That means many things not the least of which is no cooking.  When she first told me about the operation, I immediately thought that I would cook for them.  That would be how I could help in a difficult situation.  Bring them food each week so that they could still enjoy dinners.  And then I remembered that I was moving and that would be impossible.

I’m the first born and the only daughter and I felt so guilty that I would not be able to help them in my way during a rough time.  So, before we moved, I made a huge amount of soup and a ton of freezer burritos, and stocked their freezer as best I could.  I also wanted to make them a special meal while they were here in Oakland.  I made a Thai green curry with the best of the end of summer and beginning of fall produce (recipe coming), and I made this delicious salad.  I didn’t take pictures because we were too busy eating and drinking wine and watching the sun go down.  At the end of the meal, my mom said, “You should really post that salad recipe because I think your readers would really like it”.  Oldest children do as they are told.

So, I made the same menu the next week.  The salad originally called for asparagus and I made it that way when my parents were here, but asparagus is so spring and it is so not spring, so I decided to swap out green for green and go with brussels sprouts.  I like brussels sprouts, Randy tolerates them, but I will admit they weren’t quite right in this salad.  They are terrific roasted and the marinade made them taste extra awesome but truthfully, they just didn’t go well in this salad.  So I’m giving you the recipe as originally written, with the asparagus.  If you don’t want to pay $7/pound for asparagus coming from Chile, I think zucchini or green beans would make a good alternative green vegetable.

One Year Ago:  Bulghur Salad Stuffed Peppers, Stilton Tart with Cranberry Chutney, Perfect Pumpkin Bread
Two Years Ago:  Roasted Mushrooms and Shallots with Fresh Herbs, Romaine Leaves with Caesar Dressing
Three Years Ago:  Creamy Artichoke Dip, Holly B’s Gingersnaps, Gianduja Mousse
Four Years Ago:  Spinach and Jerusalem Artichoke Soup, Bulghur and Green Lentil Salad with Chickpeas

Roasted Sesame-Giner Asparagus and Portobello Salad with Napa-Spinach Slaw
Adapted from The Fresh and Green Table
Serves 4

This recipe instructs you to grill both the mushrooms and asparagus which I think is a brilliant idea.  Our grill is propane-less at the moment, so I just used the oven to roast the vegetables.  In addition to that, I made a lot of little changes to the recipe.

¼ cup peanut or canola oil
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. rice wine
1 tbsp. sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. minced peeled fresh ginger
4 large portobello mushrooms, stemmed
¾ pound thin asparagus, trimmed
Kosher or sea salt
2 cups sliced Napa cabbage
2 cups baby spinach
¼ cup sliced scallions, white and pale green parts only
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tsp. sugar
1 to 2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 425ºF.  In a glass liquid measure, combine the peanut or canola oil, soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger.  Whisk until well combined and transfer 3 tablespoons of the mixture to a separate bowl.  Put the portobello caps, stem-side up, on a rimmed baking sheet and pour the remaining marinade into the four caps.  Let sit for 20 minutes while the oven preheats.

Have the mushroom caps at one end of the sheet, place the asparagus at the other end.  Season the asparagus with a pinch of salt and roll the asparagus around in any of the marinade that has dripped off the mushrooms.  (Tilt the mushroom caps and pour some of the residual marinade over the asparagus.)  Make sure to rub the bottom of the mushroom caps in the marinade as well.  Remove the asparagus to a plate.  (They will not take as long to roast as the mushrooms.)

Place the mushrooms in the oven and set a timer for 8 minutes.  Pull them out, flip them over, and place the asparagus on the other end of the sheet.  Roast for another 8 minutes.  The asparagus should be bright green, crips tender, and browning in places and the mushrooms should also be soft and browning in places.  Put them back in the oven for a few minutes if they do not seems done.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cabbage, spinach, half the scallions, half the cilantro, and half the sesame seeds.  Add the lime juice and sugar to the reserved marinade.  Whisk until well combined.  Pour in the marinade and toss well to coat.

Slice the mushrooms into ½-inch thick strips and slice the asparagus diagonally into 1-inch pieces.  Gently toss the mushrooms and asparagus into the rest of the salad.  Garnish with the remaining scallions, cilantro, and sesame seeds.


A Slice of My Life – Week 45

November 13, 2012

Guess what?  Last post was my 700th.  Whaaaat?  Do we even count anymore when we get that high?  I guess I do.  As always when I hit these milestones, I want to thank you for being here.  When I was waiting in line to meet Deb last weekend, before we bailed because we didn’t want to wait three hours, two lovely young women recognized me from this blog and said hello.  I can’t tell you how happy that made me.  I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to read your comments and emails and to know that yes, in fact there are people out there reading what I write, making the recipes that I post.  It is terrific and I sincerely thank you for being along on this journey with me.

Last week started off warm.  I decided to honor the 80+ degree day rather than the calendar with my shoe choice.

I spent a morning at the DMV beginning the process of getting a California license and license plate.  Randy thought I should bring our marriage license with me which, as it turns out, I needed.  It has killer whales on it.  I love that.

Farmers’ market in Berkeley.  The variety of what is available there is shocking and inspiring.  Of course I bought some of those shelling beans.  They are one of my favorite ingredients.  (See this stew.)

I also bought some basil to make pesto.  I thought I had missed the “buy lots of basil for little money and make pesto to store in the freezer” window, but that window is open longer in California.  This is, by the way, the best way to store basil.  In water like flowers and leave it out at room temperature.  Change the water if you have it out longer than a few days.  Mine kept for five days before I got around to the pesto and was as perky as the day I bought it.

Speaking of pesto, throw a couple of raw spinach leaves in with the mix and it will keep your pesto from turning brown.

Snail.  On my front door.

Rain.  That feels like the November I know and love.

Enough said.

Navy blue nails and the ring I got for my tenth anniversary.  We bought it in South Africa.  (I still owe you one more post from that trip…)

We went to a Cal game on Saturday night.  Before moving here, I might have said Berkeley game.  Because Berkeley is what the rest of the country calls the university that is in Berkeley.  Am I right?  Here they call it Cal.  Anyway, the game started at 7:30 and it was freezing out.

So the boys had to have new hats.

Family shot.

Ghiradelli chocolate on sale.  It is the favorite chocolate of the folks at Cook’s Illustrated.  Did you know that?

I burned my finger while making quesadillas for the kids.  Not a bad burn at all, but still a burn.  Spencer disappeared after lunch and came back with a band-aid for me, then he drew me this picture, and then he got me a glass of water with ice.  I almost never pat myself on the back for being a good mom but I did that day.  Clearly all the hugs, and wiped noses, and kissed boo-boo’s have made an impact on him and have helped give him a surprising amount of empathy for a 5¾-year old.  In other news, I am the only person in my family who has hair and all of us have arms coming out of our heads.

Laksa.  Rice noodles and lots of veggies + tofu in a coconut milk broth.

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