Oh! And One More Squirrel…

Some lovin’ from Raivenne oven

I am blaming this one squarely on you, my fellow blogger and slicer, Arjeha. Yes, you with your memory of bread, and then baking homemade biscotti.

Darn, and I don’t mean the thing one does with socks or sweaters, your hide.

Those who read my post yesterday know about the squirrels that distracted me from the work I planned on doing. I was minding my own business, being a good blogger by posting and responding to other random bloggers/slicers as is my wont, when someone, who shall not be named again(!), posted memories of the warm homey smell of baking, and then making homemade cinnamon biscotti. Why, oh, why did I then have a hankering for homemade biscuits? Unlike the gazpacho desire from a previous post, all the ingredients were readily available. I knew in the amount of time it would have taken me to get dressed go to the market, return and make them, I could have made them on my own, so to the kitchen I go.

Two things: 1- I have not made biscuits from scratch in over a decade because 2- I don’t know how to make small batches. I have been single for fifteen years now; yet I still cook somethings, like lasagna and biscuits, as though I’m feeding a horde. I was ever so grateful when Pillsbury started making the smaller containers for their ready to bake biscuits because the standard size one was too many for. But I wanted homemade cinnamon biscuits. Can’t get that prepackaged.

And yessiree Bob, (heh!) the aroma of cinnamon and butter wafting through the place was very delightful indeed! Fresh out of the oven, with melted butter, a spot of jam and tea – oh my! I could have been any age between 7 and my current 57 when those flavors hit my tongue. Still, what the devil am I to do with over twenty biscuits? (What? I said I don’t know how to make small batches.)

My best friend, and a few of my neighbors unknowing thank you, Arjeha. (Fine, so do I.)

And I did eventually get some work done on that project – whew!

Eat This and Like It, Dammit!

Busy day of virtual trainings. + Combatant in a passive-aggressive email battle that pretty much went like THIS (I’m the one in bronze in that scenario).+ Set up more classes for next couple of weeks.+Resolving a kitchen sink that decided it wants to drain sssslllloooooooooooowwwwyyyy.+Working on an overdue, by my standards – plenty of time for theirs, assignment.+ A phone call with a friend who is going through some things. = A Raivenne who has subsisted on coffee and a bagel, both of which were consumed before 10am, and is a little beyond a bit peckish.

Nearly eleven hours later my stomach has made its displeasure at its treatment, or more precisely the lack thereof, quite known.

So, do I desire the pork tenderloins, spanish rice and broccoli? Nix. Or the italian sausage and pasta? Nein. Perhaps a not so simple crack monster (croque monsieur for those of you who insist on calling it by its proper name)? Nyet. All of which, and a few other tasty little options, are within easy access of my fridge, my microwave or my oven to satisfy me within sere minutes, but do I want any of it? Noooooooooooooooooo.These taste buds of mine get a hankering for gazpacho of all the blessed things.

Gazpacho? Really? I mean, why on earth should my taste buds be reasonable when I’m hungry? (And on National Pancake Day nonetheless!)

To be fair, the erstwhile spanish restaurant were we last enjoyed gazpacho came up in conversation, so I fully lay the blame there. Still, the idea was planted and that was that. So now what? We’re in the midst of COVID, yes restaurants are open to limited capacity, but everything is reservations only. Even were I willing to drag myself downtown, which I most certainly was not, the establishment in question no longer exists. So what’s a Raivenne to do? It’s gazpacho, not DNA encoding or rocket science, to the Google!

Screen capture of three gazpacho recipe options

I admit it has been a couple of years since I’ve had gazpacho, but if there is one thing I know, it does not take nearly three hours to make. My brain, heedless of my belly went off on a tangent in a fruitless attempt to determine why something that’s not even Best or Authentic, would take so long. And I say fruitless because even with the 15-20 minute options, without moving from my computer, I realize I do not have the have key ingredients: tomatoes, let alone my preferred Romas, and fresh red onions. So, now my taste buds, my belly, and I myself are mad because we all know I am not dragging myself to the 24 hour supermarket because all the local ones are now closed.

I’ll tell you about it over the weekend, I had to begrudgingly force down that absolutely delicious the pork tenderloins, spanish rice and broccoli, washed down with a nice sauvignon blanc. Oh, the hardship (!)

Eat-sentially…

My work wife and I went into the office today. My first time being back at my desk since last Tuesday. After being at our respective desks for a while we decided coffee was needed, but in world of coronavirus the question then became – who is open?

Generally, there are no less than ten places within walking distance in which coffee could be procured on a normal weekday. But this is not a normal day which we quickly reminded. The kiosks were closed. The concession stand was closed. The two popular restaurant chains were closed. The three Starbucks in the immediate area were closed.

I work for an agency that provides essential services, in my area are other agencies that also provide essential services. We’re all 24/7/366 we knew someone had to be open in the area and we found it.

Unlike the chains, this is a privately owned bar/restaurant. The owner understood that essential workers were still coming in and we have to eat. Yes, a lot of the food options were trimmed from the menu, and all of it was take-out only now, but it was open for business.

In the mornings around 9am, there is always a line of workers getting their grub and the oh so necessary caffeine fix. However, knowing there is always a line is one thing. Seeing that same line with social distancing engaged is another.

Granted exactly how close/far the suggested six feet of distance between people needs to be worked by some out, but it was in place.

Food line up in the time of Corona…

I got on the quickly growing line to hold a place while my work-wife went to the register to find out if we had to be on it to get coffee. Luckily, because we were only getting coffee we did not have to get on line. We were in and out of there quickly.

It’s a unique world we’re in right now. We know it’s not easy for the owners or the workers who come in to keep us caffeinated and fed. But it is appreciated.

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Wow Day 26! I’m essentially kicking it for today’s Slice of Life Writing Challenge for 2020.

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Dalgona – Do It Now!

I have dozens of recipes saved from social media that caught my attention over time. Mind you, when I say I have dozens, I do mean DOZENS. Of those dozens of oh so tasty looking culinary concoctions, perhaps a grand total of five have come from faves to fruition in my kitchen. I just re-read the previous sentence – good good – between the alliteration and slat rhyme I know Muse is grimacing. Forgive me, girl. But I digress… Usually months (more like *cough* years *cough*), after the initial save, I get around to actually trying a recipe. This is not on of those times.

A friend shared a Facebook post about Dalgona or “Whipped Coffee.” Coffee lover that I am I was instantly drawn it. The end result truly looked like an upside down cappuccino. Just don’t ask my why after a surprisingly busy day of working by remote access and at the then 10:30-something at night when I knew I still had a slice to do that I felt I just had to this thing and do it NOW.

There was no recipe given in the video, but it seemed simple straight forward enough. Here is my take on it…

Unlike 11pm at night when I rushed it because I had a slice to write, I’ve since googled to get the proper recipe. I was right and had much more water than the 1:1:1 (1 part coffee, 1 part sugar and 1 part water), of the instructions. Mine was more foamy, than creamy, but I loved it. I am definitely want to do this again, with a few modifications.

Working from home on Day 19, of the Slice of Life Writing challenge for 2020 – come see how others are making it work.

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Yums the Wurd

As part of the month long celebration of a friend’s birthday.  we had a birthday lunch at a Momofuku Noodle Bar. Yes, that is the actual name a small, but popular chain of an Asian noodle bar in New York City.  I’ve been to Momofuku a few times now. For a place renowned for their noodles, each time I’ve been there was for their chicken dinner, of which there is not one noodle to be found.

Let me present Delicious Exhibit A: Deep Fried Chicken and Spicy Sweet BBQ Wings, plus salad and tortillas in the covered black dish.

Momofuku Chicken Dinner

Momofuku Chicken Dinner

Really how gorgeous is that bowl of veggies? Romaine lettuce, mint and cilantro sprigs, with sliced mini carrots and radish. So colorful, it’s a work of art.

There were five of us at the table. There was still three pieces of chicken left over. That has never happened before. We all looked at each other as if to say “How did this happened?” We just couldn’t eat another bite.

Not even this:

Momofuku - A taste

Just a little something…

So naturally the birthday girl got to take the leftovers home, sans the little bit above of course.

You won this round Momofuku, we’ll get you next time.

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Today is Day 18 of the March Slice Of Life Story Challenge.
Come see how others are slicing it up today.
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Only For A Moment

I get an idea for a story I’m working on as I come in after one in the morning from hanging out with friends. I’m sleepy, but I want to get the idea down while the muse is hot. I hangup my outerwear and head for the computer.

I am happily typing away, occasionally closing my eyes as I try to visualize a scene while writing it down. You know –If she lifts her head up, when and why did she put her head down?His hand is on the door, handle or knob?–  things like that. I get a bit done, but I am sleepy. I convince myself to flesh out this one scene before I head for bead.

I close my eyes only for a moment to visualize the scene. When I open my eyes an hour had passed on my computer. Crap, I fell asleep, I’m clearly sleepier than I thought- fine off to bed I go.

I am in bed when I see my clock radio. It is relic from the 90s. Long before people started using their cell phones, before such things got all digitized fancy. I have to set it manually, but still works so I keep it. I look at the time wondering why it’s an hour off, then realized I hadn’t fallen asleep for an hour…

…Daylight savings had clicked in.

D’oh!

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Today is Day 11 of the March Slice Of Life Story Challenge.
Come see how others are slicing it up today.
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Strike Five – You Dip

Going to a friend’s place for Game Nite. Just a BYOB gathering of a few friends to chit-chat and yes, play games. Board games, card games whatever. I always try to bring a dish. Learning one of the friends attending has gone gluten free, I decide to make a spinach-artichoke dip. It’s one I’ve made before. The five ingredients are simple enough. It does not take a lot of time to make. It’s easy to transport. I can pick everything up in the morning. Perfect, right? Right!

Yeah, that’s about where this tale goes a little south. I mean seriously the recipe has five freaking ingredients, how hard is it to find one? As it turns out harder than I would have thought.  What was the one thing I could not find? Artichokes.

I hit my usual market that until today has not failed me. None what-so-ever. I expect not to find it fresh. I understand is not something consumed a lot of in that market, but they usually have it canned or in a jar. Nix. Fine, I get everything else I need and make my way to market number two a few blocks away. Nein. I had not brought my shopping cart because knew I could carry everything back in one trip. As I headed for a third market, my fingers and my knees are beginning to feel it. Nyet. Three strikes and you’re out right? Not quite.

Must be something comforting about the number three. People always give up after three.
– Sherlock Holmes / BBC’s “Sherlock”

So, I take a cue from “Sherlock” and try a fourth market. Nada.

What the…?!

Has my entire neighborhood given up on the vegetable in any form, or had the last emergency shopping from the last snow storm depleted all the markets in an eight block radius?

Seriously, it’s call a spinach-artichoke dip. I kind of need it?

And because I’m stubborn, now an hour from when I first started this trek, fingers, knees and back making their unhappiness known, I try a fifth.

Nix. Nein. Nyet. Nada. Nope!

I’m NOT getting on a bus and officially  throw in the towel.

It’s going to be my spinach dip. They’ll love it!

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Today is Day 10 of the March Slice Of Life Story Challenge.
Come see how others are slicing it up this Saturday.
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You Know You Want Me…

.
.
I take a gulp of calorie free air
To stave off the craving I’m trying to brake
But I just can’t cope for goodness sake!
It’s not that the bunch of grapes are bad
Save it’s just not the thing to make me glad
So I’ll not lend an ear to its call
I’ll not let my gut be my downfall
I’ll not waiver from my niche
I’ll not satisfy this itch
Though it’s call is to me is proud
I’ll not give in it’s not allowed
“Just a thread of a piece” the call starts to quiver
No! No! No! Oh all right! Just a tiiiiiiiny sliver!
Knowing straight to my hips is where it’s bound
It’s a slippery slide from a diet to a pound
Oh why did that rhubarb, to me, start to talk?!
Guiltily home, with my whole pie, I walk

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…because I’m in a silly mood

dVerse ~ Poets Pub | OpenLinkNight Week 132

Grandma

My grandma wore a blue apron with white snowflakes in winter
Stopping all hands of time with the power of one word

“DINNER!”

The scent of herbs and spices and meats
The aroma of cherries in pies and peaches in cobblers
Have sent many a tummy rumbling
The food-laden table is renaissance worthy artistry
I and the rest of us really young ones jump up and down
Trying to get one small view of it all
Before it, like the holidays, was all-too-soon a thing of the past

The pre-teen me whines at my pitiful carving efforts
“Don’t worry; it will all turn out alright.”
Her soft cooing voice promises
Delft-blue veined hands
Which smelled either of Palmolive or Jergen’s
Deftly handle the paring knife with precision
Turning fruits and vegetables into edible blossoms
That will decorate the meals
Precision were her fingers
She wipes on her yellow-blossomed apron for spring
And I recalled the crucial fact
That she once studied to be a doctor

“This was not at all
What I planned for my life
Not the life I dreamt to live, but
The hugs from my grandchildren and
The love they bring
There’s nothing as delightful, dear”
She rocks in her chair under the huge oak
Children wandering all about
Chasing fireflies in the back yard
The air  fragrant with the herbal of  fresh-cut lawn
She smiles benignly looking on
At the latest family additions
And I know there was not a thing
That she regretted or would change
Folding the blueberry print summer apron in her lap
An unconscious signal she’s done for the evening

As time goes by
I’d listen with a most attentive ear
Because no one is interested in such mundane things
As sitting by a tree– but sit I would
First on her lap, then at her knee,
Then by her side, all the while thinking
A moment so still, will just mess up my mind

“Hush now sleep for twilight falls”
Is sung soft, soft as the arms that now rock my young
The same soft arms that once rocked me
Having no way of knowing my baby
Would be the last one held
Within the April Downy fresh scented ruffles
That trimmed her favorite red and gold autumn apron

And I’m forced into the reality
That despite her heavenly ways
She’s naught, but real flesh and blood and bone and feeling
And I am alone with my cravings
For the youthful girl with Swan’s Down cake flour on her nose
And a dab of grandma’s Chantilly behind the ear
Standing at her grandma’s elbow
Listening most attentively

You have been so gentle, so kind,
You gave me memories to last ever after
I can tell you, I feel a smile form on my face
As  I am thankful for the time
I get to spend with family and friends
These precious moments though brief they may be
They are near and dear
And as the sands of life shall run
I am now much older and wiser
With my own grand ones standing at my elbow
Watching Brown Betty -well- brown,  in the oven
The smell of apples and butter and cinnamon and brown sugar
Watering their young mouths
As I tie on my white winter apron with blue and silver snowflakes

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Abhra has given us Food for Thought as the prompt at dVerse.  Normally I would create something new, and I may yet do so if time prevails, but I was immediately put to mind of this old write laden with food and heart and I had to post it.

dVerse ~Poets Pub | Poetics : Food For Thought

Theme Thursday | Scents

This Chick In Paris – Part Deux

Bon soir!

In Part I of my post on Paris I spoke a little about the people, now it’s about …

The Food –

Myth busting: Contrary to a friend’s popular belief, Parisian cuisine is not all bread, cheese, butter and wine. She forgot the potatoes. I kid! I kid! (Sorta.)

Breakfast/Brunch – I must say I was quite surprised to see that according to the menu – a French Breakfast consisted of a buttered baguette, a croissant and smattering of preserve. I mean were we not in the land of the infamous french omelette? Where’s the jambon (ham) and oui, le fromage (cheese) and other goodness most Americans associate with a breakfast omelette? Yes, it is bread and butter, plus a croissant which is naturally buttery, but really? That’s it?

This gal wanted some meat and since it was closer to lunch time, ordered a Croque Monsieur. For those unfamiliar with this, truth be told, a Croque Monsieur is a glorified grilled ham and cheese sandwich. Oh, but what a sandwich!

What makes it worth it is the Gruyere cheese. This favorite of French cafés and bistros also switches genders and becomes a Madame when topped by a fried egg. And speaking of eggs…

Lesson learned – I don’t know if was just that specific restaurant where we dined, or part of the culture, but one should definitely learn how to say I want my eggs cooked well if you do not like your fried/sunny-side/boiled/scrambled eggs runny. Different breakfast meals with types of cooked eggs, same results. It did not bother me, but J & M were quite perturbed when their sunny-side up egg was served considerably less than, as J put it “crispy”.

A pleasant lesson learned is how they serve coffee. They do not steam the milk Italian style, but it is served hot. You get all the flavor, but do not lose the heat and it’s not frothy like a latte. I actually liked that.

Lunch/Dinner – I had duck, beef, seafood dishes (two as part of multi-course meals), and one sausage dish. We started learning the first night pretty much everything was served with some form of potato, the most common thing being frites (fries). By the fourth day, when someone ordered Moules Frites I was not surprised at all to see mussels served with fries. I will say I took complete pleasure in seeing a bottle of good ol’ Heinz Ketchup (in English!), appear every where fries were served, oh yeah!

The only meal that was disappointing for me a sausage and mashed potato dish from a place which came nicely recommended. I, and the only other person that ordered it, both found it to be overly salty for our tastes and couldn’t eat it. Other than that, every thing else ranged from very good to oh damn this is good.

Late night – Every major metropolis has their hole-in-the-wall 24 places to get some grub, and Paris was no exception. You know the type of place. We’re not there for the ambiance or the nutritional value of the meal. It’s not cuisine – it’s food: they’ve got – we want it – that’s all. The major difference is I’m not getting a ham & cheese crepe at 4am in New York City. I am in Paris after all.

My three favorite dishes:

Caprese Salad
No. 3: Now tell me – how can something with only two damn ingredients and some seasoning be so divine? That was the caprese and side salad. In season tomatoes at their peak flavor and fresh mozzarella are truly the key here. They were simply wonderful by their selves. With the wonderfully flavorful pesto sauce drizzled across – they were sublime.

Pan Roasted Duck with Parmesan Mashed Potatoes
No. 2: I wish I had thought to write down the name of the dish. The duck was nicely trimmed of fat, so tender and perfectly cooked. The broth of tiny diced vegetables and raisins was savory. The Parmesan mashed potatoes with a tiny sprinkling of chives balanced well with the duck. It was oh so freaking YUM!

Risotto with Shrimp
No. 1: The seasoned shrimp and risotto. I need to give a tiny be of back story here. The duck dish above and the shrimp/risotto were both from L’Amazonial and were literally the first french foods to grace our palettes. I had ordered the duck and M ordered the risotto. Typical tourists we are sampling from each other. Each of us gave pause when the risotto hit out tongues. Creamy, cheesy and still somehow perfectly firm. It was served atop of a sauce that tasted a whole lot like the broth served with my duck sans the veggies and raisins. As much as I loved the duck (drool), the was risotto was my first oh damn this is good moment. We all also agreed though nicely seasoned and very delish, the shrimp was a little dry. I presume that seemed to be the style of the dish as repeat orders had the same results. Notice I said repeat orders? After some sight-seeing, when we returned for dinner, three of us ordered the dish and we came back the next day for it. Yes, it really was that good.

Desserts – Oh you didn’t think I was going to leave it out did you? For shame! The bad news – because I choose art over food as my focus this trip I did not make any specific food runs. I know, what kind of fat girl am I, right?! It happens. The good news – I did have a few desserts. I am a fat girl after all. It happens. The two best were an apple galette with vanilla ice cream and of course a crème brulee.
Apple GaletteCrème Brulee

The apple galette was mouth watering on sight. The crust was perfect. Not over buttery, too sweet, not so dense you wanted a hacksaw to cut through it, but not so flaky it turned to dust at the lightest touch. The apples were tender, delicately sweet and just spot on good. The caramel swirls were just – well icing on the cake – lol. The crème brulee – oh what can I say. The sugar topping was expertly torched. If I had a toothpick to get to the edges, I could have lifted the shell as a whole disc. The crème was simply ooh la la riche! And for once not served in some little squat ramekin as generally served at restaurants here in the US, but in a nice wide one. Plenty of torched sugary goodness and even more crème to enjoy.

We enjoyed two three multi-course meals. One at wine pairing event, restaurant and another while cruising along the Seine. Were they delicious in their own right? -yes. The wine pairing dinner introduced me to something called a dorade. The menu card that came with the meal simply called it “Dorade with avocado and mango salsa.” The fish was so delicate in flavor that the avocado and mango nearly washed it out, but it was tasty. I actually looked up the word dorade to confirm it was indeed fish. The river cruise had this interesting soup, pairing a warm puree of zucchini, green beans and Lima beans, with cool pieces of its composite vegetables within. Two unique tastes and textures I would order again. Otherwise the two meals would be unfortunately forgettable were it not for the marvelous company of my dining companions.

Other than breakfast, wine or some form of liquor was a part of nearly each meal. Still, I was not any where near laden down with all this famed butter and cheese and I have to say a part of me is highly disappointed dammit. Perhaps this richness is in the outer regions of Paris. Probably where all the fat Parisians are hiding also. Next trip to France I must go in search of them and their famed über rich food.

Trip-Advisor et al, have their uses as an excellent resources, for where to dine, but please don’t let it be one’s only deciding factor. If I only followed those suggestion I may never have discovered that risotto. Overall, while I enjoyed nearly every morsel that crossed my lips, the meals I enjoyed the most were in the places we simply happened across in our travels. I would suggest the same to other first-timers.

Bon appetit? Indeed!
Me and a famed baguette

Next – L’Art (The Sites)