Friday, August 27, 2010

We Like the Recess Monkey

A few highlights from our new favorite kids CD - Recess Monkey's The Final Funktier

Booster Seat is my personal favorite. It's a little hard to make out the lyrics from this film, but trust me. Totally nails the preschool age. Or check out this little sample. Or if you go here, you can listen to more cuts from Final Funktier as well as some from earlier CDs.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

First Day of First Grade

It's the first day of school. The first day of first grade. The first full day of school. I miss you already. You were scared to go. Sometimes the unknown can be overwhelming. Last night you wanted to go to the park, but you were so tired from traveling and staying up late and scared about today so you curled up in the rocking chair in the kitchen and fell asleep. Then you got mad because it was too late to go to the park. You wanted to try out those new roller skates. You woke up, groggy and tired, and sat down on the floor with me, then fell asleep again. A minute later you popped up and demanded I take you to the park. I said no. It was too late. I had to make dinner. I made noodle soup and when it was ready I looked around for you and you had disappeared. I found you in your bed sound asleep; you hadn't even put on your jammies. I let you sleep. I missed you already.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

September 5 is Cherpumple Pie Cake Day

My friend Tal sent me this link and now I've become obsessed with the Cherpumple Pie Cake. How can you not be obsessed with this? It's Cherpumple Pie Cake.

Anyway, Tal and I are baking our Cherpumple Pie Cakes - me in CA and Tal in Texas. Please join us. Make the cake and take a picture and let us know how it comes out! I'll post closer to the day so you can see the preparation and all that stuff. And I'll be inviting people over because I don't want to be alone with this baby. No! The Cherpumple Pie Cake must be shared.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Finding Inspiration, Drawing My Hand

Amelia Critchlow's Experimental Art e-course continues to inspire me. Especially now that I'm on deadline to get a first draft of a play done. One of the exercises we were given was to pick a concept and this has been driving pretty much all of the other exercises I've been working on. I've also been trying my hand at drawing. Today literally, when I did an drawing of the lines of my palm. I find the process of just making marks to be incredibly meditative. Not feeling compelled to make something necessarily, just to capture what's there and not worry about "right." I've also been collecting various images - both for source material for the play and for the e-course as well. Today I found these wonderful photos and graphic images by Brian Pirman.



Drought #1

Drought #2




these and more images can be found here.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Spoon Bread, Hush Puppies! Oh, My!

I love the Betty's Kitchen series on youtube. Here's a little video of a recent trip Betty and her husband, Rick, made to Berea, KY to have lunch at Boone Tavern. So envious.

Friday, June 18, 2010

First Week's Art Experiments

This is the first week of Amelia Critchlow's Experimental Art Course and we've been very productive. I took the class in the Spring, but was too busy to do many of the assignments. With school being out, this is the perfect time to try again and to involve the kids. We've sat down to work on the assignments each afternoon before dinner and just played around with the materials. It's been very calming for all of us. Everyone gets very focused and excited by what they or someone else at the table is doing. Here are some of our creations.

doodle #2, Carter

doodle #2, Elizabeth
food coloring with straws and paint brush

Carter was very quick to tell me where I went wrong with my doodle. I started brushing on the purple and Carter "Mom, you shouldn't have done that." I think he was right and it somehow doesn't sting as much when your kid tells you matter0of-factly that yes, indeed, you've gone too far.

doodle #2, Olivia

One of the great things about the course is that Amelia introduces interesting materials to use for our experiments. We didn't have to go out and buy any fancy art supplies. We've been using left over ceramic paints from a birthday party, poster paints, old pastels and chalk, colored markers, ink pens, pencil, eye make-up (which the kids loved because it's usually off limits and also the texture made it a fun material to play with), tea, dirt (we have a lot of that), old magazines, paper towels, and I even pulled out my old water color set from costume design class (a few were dried out, but were easily revived by breaking open the tube and adding water).

staining #1, Olivia
passionfruit tea, decaf chai - using drinking straws

painting #2, Marshall

staining #1, EHS

tazo decaf chai tea, tazo passionfruit tea, water color, collage, ink, paper towel, tea leaves - using paint brush, fingers, cotton, & drinking straws.

The kids approach these things with an admirable fearlessness. They don't over-think things. They just do. I'm learning from them and having great fun.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Animal Day at Ohlone Camp

Saw a coyote and got to pet Roger the bunny and Rocky the tortoise.

Held a Banana Slug (and kissed it).

Held a Tarantula (Hey!)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Who Put the Pie in Piefurcation? Who? Who?

Yeah. That's right. Pie. Three pies to be exact. Let's get to it, shall we?

Pumpkin pie
Not quite a disaster, but not quite Thee pie if you know what I mean. I decided to go easy and just mix up a pie from a Whole Foods brand pumpkin pie mix. Learn from my mistake. This is the first time I've made a pie from a mix - seriously I can't even remember the last time I made a pie from a mix. So my perspective might be a tad biased but: go the extra mile and make a homemade pie. Sacrifice a pumpkin, bake it and scoop out the pulp. Really it's not that much extra time and the effort is worth it. Here's one of my favorites: Pie Ranch Pumpkin Pie (note: you do not have to use goat milk if you don't want to. I don't.)

My theory behind using the mix was that a) I'd save time and b) I was more interested in the pie crust. I tried a new recipe that involves 1/4 cup of cold 80 proof Vodka. Needless to say, I was intrigued. The idea is that the vodka keeps gluten from forming and thus you end up with a nice and tender crust. That's the idea at any rate. The results weren't that impressive. But maybe it's my bias against the entire pie that prevents me from being objective about it. It's definitely a recipe I'll try again. *

Persimmon-Apple Tart
Oh. This pie was good. Except by the time I finally made it, the lovely persimmons I had bought from the cheery kid selling them on the street outside his house and the free one given me by the guy promoting his CSA outside the library had gone bad and I feel guilty that I let them go so long (it's the little things I tell you).

The crust came from the 80 proof/fool-proof pie crust recipe. And it was in the freezer for a week and then thawed in the refrigerator, rolled out and put into the tart pan and I was all "come on over and have some Apple-Persimmon Tart and I've even put some Proseco in the fridge for when those unexpected holiday guests pop in" and then we all came down with Swine Flu. And so it sat. When I finally got back to it, there were sad persimmons that were just a tad too soft, but still an abundance of little yellow apples from our CSA basket and so I peeled as many as there were and cut them up and then a friend called and while we talked on the phone I arranged them in pretty little circles like I never do. And then it sat in the fridge for two days until I made the ginger snap streusel (from ground Newman's ginger creme cookies left over from a failed cookie attempt) and baked it late on a Saturday night and OMFG, no hyperbole, it was one of the best pies (tarts) I've ever made. The recipe is here.

Mexican Chocolate Cream Pie
This was a request pie and the recipe came from this nifty book called Killer Pies by Stephanie Anderson who compiled pie recipes from some of the top restaurants in North America (like where is that?) If the rest of the pies in the book turn out as good as this one, this little gem will more than have lived up to it's name. Mexican Chocolate Pie is a specialty of Border Grill in Santa Monica, CA whose chef, Susan Feniger, competes in the upcoming season of Top Chef Masters.

Meringue Shell
3 large egg whites
1/2 t. cream of tartar
3/4 c. sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides (not the rim) of a 9" glass pie plate. I used my trusty Fire-King plate. Put egg whites in a large bowl and set it over a pan of hot water. Stir until the whites slightly warm. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. If you want to know what soft peaks mean, take a look at this video (which also features a little tour of Maker's Mark distillery). Beat in cream of tartar, then add sugar in a slow, steady stream. Beat continually for 15 - 20 more minutes or until the mixture is stiff and glossy. My mixer made short work of this task and it didn't take quite as long. To form the pie shell, spread meringue over the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Bake until slightly crisp and dry, about 15 minutes. Again. You have to watch it because oven temps vary. Cool shell on a wire rack.


7 oz semi sweet chocolate, chopped
1 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 1/4 c. cold heavy cream
1/3 c. confectioner's sugar
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 t. vanilla extract
1/2 slivered almonds, toasted and cooled

Melt the semisweet and unsweetened chocolates in a bowl over simmering water, stirring occasionally. Cool to room temperature.

Combine heavy cream, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla in a bowl. Beat on medium speed until very soft peaks form, 2 - 3 minutes. Stir one third of the whipped cream mixture into the melted chocolate. Fold remaining whipped cream until incorporated.

Scatter with toasted almonds over the shell then top with the chocolate filling, smoothing the top. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Grate or shave bittersweet chocolate over top for decoration. I need to work on my chocolate curl technique as you can see I eventually opted for grated chocolate which was just fine.

I suggest sharing this pie with other people. So that it isn't sitting in your fridge for days. The meringue gets soggy after awhile and I'd like to say that this diminishes the goodness of the pie, but that would be a lie.

Up next. Shaker Lemon Pie. I'm going to get the lemons tonight! I know, it's Friday night and I'm excited about lemons. I never thought it would come to this.

*In the future I promise to photograph my pie failures. Things were just too busy on Thanksgiving day to whip out the camera for a photo shoot.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Pie of the Week: Shaker Lemon Pie

Obsessing about this pie. Part of me wants to rush out and buy lemons right now then come home and get it started. Thinking I'll make it sometime this week instead - perhaps for Valentine's Day? I've also discovered Betty's Kitchen on youtube. Check out her tour of the Maker's Mark distillery. Plus she has a recipe for Derby Pie - excuse me - a version of chocolate nut pie.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

For You Girl

Okay. Totally made me cry in the cafe.

Defining A Movement by Katherine Center.