Wednesday, March 30, 2011

in the tiny shop

There's a tiny shop near the Duomo, in Florence.  It's the kind of store people dash into for a pack of cigarettes or the daily paper.  Narrow, glass windows display items to appeal to American tourists like me.

I bought this bottle there.  (Spoke stood by, rolling his eyes.)  It's one liter.

I drank it in our room at the Hotel Sofitel.  Then I packed it up and brought it home.  I'm a sucker for keepsakes. 

Every trip to Florence added to my bottle collection.  This, the smallest bottle, came from that tiny shop near the Duomo. (Spoke stood by, pretending not to know me.) 

It's 50 d e, whatever that means; a bit over sixteen ounces.  I drank it at the Grand Hotel Baglioni one winter night around midnight, along with a fruit tart nightly, fruit tart.

I know what you're thinking.  Chianti?!?!  Yes, I'm a simple Sangiovese girl.  I like Chianti Classico and anything from Castellina In Chianti.  Also, there's just something about those straw covered bottles...

Then there was that one trip when we passed by the tiny shop near the Duomo, and I spotted the big one.  It's one point five liters.  (I won't even tell you what Spoke did.)  It's now our olive oil jar. 

We use a lot of olive oil here at 3906.

I have an urge to throw it over my shoulder and head into the woods.  I'd build a fire.  I could grill crusty bread and scorch shrimp still in their shells, then douse them all with fruity, olive oil. 

I'd lick my lips and wipe my mouth with the back of my hand.

Monday, March 28, 2011

as good evenings go

arrive early

hot damn; here we go!

friends stop by

ray on bass, jon on drums

george on keyboard, mark on sax

friends leave

i stay

bye bye blackbird for me

last call

pretty please, one more?

we call it a night

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Friday, March 18, 2011

indeed he is

"The greatest poet of my generation," I exclaimed to my dad one afternoon, listening to Dylan while driving to Paciugo.  I made him do that sometimes; listen to my music.  Seemed fair.

"I'm a worried man, got a worried mind."  Dylan was singing Things Have Changed as I searched for a parking spot.  "What was that about?" my father asked when the song ended.  "I'm not sure, Daddy.  I think he's lost," I said. 

"The greatest poet of our generation," I also touted to the group of ladies last week at that birthday party where we toasted my sister with Forever Young, wishing we could be. 

Lay Lady Lay, All Along The Watchtower, Sarah, The Times They Are A Changin', Joey, Mr. Tambourine Man, Hurricane, Not Dark Yet.....  I play a lot of Dylan.  I play Dylan when I'm happy.  I play Dylan when I've a worried mind. 

Like tonight; I think about the people of Japan.  I gently turn dinner's blackened salmon, remembering how cold I heard it is in Kamaishi. 

I sip wine and hum along to Black Diamond BayThere's a message in the harsh lines.  A profound message from the greatest poet of my generation.  

I was sittin' home alone one night
in L. A. watchin' old Cronkite
on the seven o'clock news.

It seems there was an earthquake that
left nothin' but a Panama hat
and a pair of old Greek shoes.

Didn't seem like much was happenin'
so I turned it off and went to grab another beer.
Seems like every time you turn around
there's another hard luck story that you're gonna hear.

And there's really nothin' anyone can say.
And I never did plan to go anyway
to Black Diamond Bay.

The song ends.  I pour another glass of wine and plate the fish.

Black Diamond Bay
Jacques Levy and Bob Dylan

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

makes three dozen

I baked my nephew cookies today. 

I baked a pan of traditional Peanut Butter first, deciding to throw some chocolate into the remaining batter.  Why not?  Kids like both, right?

Then I remembered my nephew isn't a kid anymore.  He's on his way to being all grown up. 

I think he's grand!

Still, he likes Peanut Butter Cookies...  He likes chocolate...  So he'll probably like Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate.  I bet he'll even like overbaked, Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate.

He'll think they're grand.....and they'll be gone by morning.

Grand Peanut Butter Cookies with Chocolate 

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
2/3 cups chopped chocolate or large chocolate chips

Sift together the flour and the baking soda.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, blend the sugars with the shortening until fluffy.  Add the salt, the egg, and the vanilla, mixing until the egg is incorporated.  Add the peanut butter and continue mixing until combined.

Add the sifted flour and beat only until blended.

Grease two large cookie sheets.  Spoon teaspoonfuls of batter onto one sheet until full.  Flatten the cookies using the tines of a fork, pressing one way and then the opposite way.

Stir the chocolate into the remaining batter.  Drop by teaspoonfuls onto the second cookie sheet but do not flatten with a fork. 

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 9 to 11 minutes.  When the cookies are done, transfer them to a cooling rack and bake the remaining batter the same way.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Friday, March 11, 2011

got a light?

May God bless and keep you always
May your wishes all come true
May you always do for others
And let others do for you
May you build a ladder to the stars
And climb on every rung
May you stay forever young

I wanted a cigarette.  Really wanted a cigarette.

I was driving home from a party, around ten o'clock, the sunroof open and a back window cracked so the breeze would circle around and blow directly at my face. 

I had just reached the spot in the road where I know to move to the middle lane or be forced to u-turn and head back to Plano, when the craving hit.  Out of the blue, just like the continuing waves of grief. 

Where did this come from?  It's been years since I smoked, but tooling down the frontage road that night, all I wanted was a Merit Light.  For the next seven miles I tried to figure out why.

Obviously, B and B and Bob Dylan are to blame. 

Spoke and I met our friends Jack and Beth for dinner the other night.  After the meal and a wee bit of coconut cake with a black coffee, I ordered a B and B.  "No, neat," I told the very young waiter when he asked if I'd like it on the rocks. 

Beth ordered a Sambuca.  It came slightly chilled, not a coffee bean to be found.  She likes it with fly and she doesn't like it chilled. 

I know this because for many years we would sip B and B or Sambuca late at night, listening to everything from Humble Pie to Janis Ian.  For hours, snifters glowed and smoke filled the air, occasional smoke rings floated over the table. 

We had few responsibilities and fewer worries.  As that changed, as we grew up, we each quit smoking.  Is the B and B as good now, I considered, sitting at a red light.

May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
May you stay forever young

My sister had a birthday this week.  Her 39th.  Yet again.

It was made festive thanks to several ladies.  There was wine, plates of appetizers, more wine, pasta and pizza.  More wine.  Bob Dylan provided my birthday toast to her, which I asked Beth to read, knowing I might cry because the celebration, though much fun, was still missing something for us....... missing Mom. 

May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of changes shift

It was a perfect storm that made me want a cigarette as I drove home; love, pain, family, friendship, food, fun, the past, the future, all colliding. 

The week was swirling through my mind, like the wind swirling through the car. 

May your heart always be joyful
And may your song always be sung
May you stay forever young

                 Forever Young by Bob Dylan

Last cigarette: Labor Day weekend,
1991, early afternoon
175,200 hours ago

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Monday, March 7, 2011

oh happy day

As predicted, the first thing cooked on the new cook top was an omelet.  A sweet, Spanish onion omelet for Spoke.  His favorite. 

I planned to eat later; merely an excuse to cook again... 

Such fun it is!  Feeling rather like I did when I was sixteen and finally had that long-awaited, driver's license in hand, prodding my parents hourly with, "Need milk?  Need anything?  Wanna go for a ride?"

The world was my oyster then; now the oyster is my world.   

Maybe I'll heat myself some soup.  See if SIMMER really means simmer. 

Then later, I'll make a bowl of late-night popcorn and watch a yummy film.  I pop corn the old-fashioned way.  It's healthier so you can splurge now and then, drizzling a little butter on top. 

I like to infuse the butter with rosemary... 

When I was nine or ten years old, I announced one night at the dinner table, that I was going to change my name to Rosemary.  I'd heard it was possible.  That was great to know because felt like a Rosemary.

Popcorn with Rosemary Butter

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons of canola oil
1/2 cup popcorn

Wash and dry two sprigs of fresh rosemary. 
Remove the leaves from one stem, chop them very fine and set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter over low heat, adding one sprig of rosemary to the pan.
Keep it warm, jabbing at the rosemary now and then to infuse the butter.

Preheat a stock pot until it is very hot, then add 2 tablespoons of canola oil. 
Throw in 5 popcorn kernels, cover, and listen.  

When all five kernels have popped, remove the lid and add 1/2 cup of popcorn to the pot. Cover again, shaking the pan to coat the kernels with oil. 

Cook over medium high heat until the popping stops. Remove the pot from the heat.

Discard the sprig of rosemary from the pan of melted butter.

Transfer the popcorn to a bowl, drizzle it with the warm butter, sprinkle with the chopped rosemary, and salt to taste.  Toss to coat.

Sit back and enjoy a movie.

Highly recommended while eating Popcorn with Rosemary Butter:  MOSTLY MARTHA

(Don't miss the last, very therapeutic scene.)