Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hanna at Home

The yard needed attention today so I spent the morning weeding, trimming and bagging. The butterfly bush that Natalie and I chopped to bits a few months ago is now enormous and in gorgeous full bloom. The garden flowers were totally overgrown so now the house is filled with them. The recent rain induced a delightful moss to grow over the brick patio. Ignoring the herb garden all summer worked like a charm; the rosemary, parsley, chives, basil, oregano and lemon verbena have grown in abundance.

The results:
8 ramekins of various Garlic Herb Butters
Lemon Verbena Sun Tea
Oven-dried Chives
Freeze-dried Oregano and Chives
More Herbs hanging from the ceiling to dry
Refrigerator filled with fresh parsley
Fresh homemade Pesto - made with pecans and romano
Rosemary Wine Vinegar
Snack - cold leftover orzo with eggplant, asparagus, scallions and parmigiano - mixed in fresh chopped tomatoes and pesto - delicious!
Lunch - gnocchi with sauteed mushrooms and eggplant in a tomato, pesto, olive and caper sauce topped with romano cheese

My crazy but beloved neighbor who will be moving away next month came by for a visit and brought silverqueen corn. We will cook that Tuesday for the "Going to Mongolia Party" for Mike. The kitchen is a mess but smells absolutely wonderful. What a magnificent day!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

You don't get to decide that!

Mike, who was in China for a very long time, remarked recently that it doesn't seem right for someone to say something critical of another, then call them "hyper-sensitive" when they don't react well. It may be completely true, but it isn't a determination that the initial offender can objectively make. It also leaves one rather defenseless since the person potentially being hyper-sensitive isn't in a position to persuasively disagree.

So if you are going to criticize someone, you need to enlist another to insult their reaction after you do it.

Otherwise, it just doesn't stick.

Guests of Guests

This weekend while playing Wizard with davis and A- in the early morning, I was accosted by the newly-matriculated visiting drunken brother of another friend. Old Country music was playing on the stereo, and Little Stevie had been two stepping in the kitchen with his Sister-In-Law. When Dwight Yoakam's rendition of "Honkey Tonk Man" came on, Stevie, who by his own admission had hit on everything in sight that evening, turned his attention to me and demanded that I dance with him.

I smiled and said "No" to which Stevie, the recent "Ivy League" graduate replied something like "come-on, come-on, come-on". I explained that he was extremely unlikely to persuade me since I didn't want to and I rarely do things I don't want to do. A- said to him "That is true, she really doesn't!" He then asked "Where are you from?" and when I replied "Kentucky" he said "You have to love this song. What is wrong with you? You aren't even tapping your foot!" For the record, I do love the song and was indeed tapping my foot, but I didn't tell him this. I simply smiled.

Little Stevie then took another tack. "How old are you?" he demanded, to which I simply smiled; I've got at least 15 years on him. A- said "You never ask a lady her age!" Stevie then informed me that I needed to learn to live life, because one never knows when it may come to an end. I continued smiling and to my credit I did not grab him by the throat and commence strangling. I did not tell him that in the event that I had not previously known this, the recent death of a friend had provided ample education in that regard. I don't consider being flung around my friends' kitchen at 2:00am to be "living life", but I didn't feel like debating that point, either.

The great thing is that I barely had to say a word or defend myself at all, because A- did the talking for me. I got to just sit there and smile. I thought of M- who always knows when to go home, and realized I had once again erred in that regard. I left shortly thereafter. davis spent much of the evening following Stevie around to make sure he wasn't falling down the stairs or breaking anything. But I believe he was secretly pleased with the harrasment and my departure because at 12s I had a score of 360 and was on the path to destroying his own 560 record. It kept him from enforcing his new house rule regarding what happens to people that endanger his Wizard record.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Recipe: Kentucky Beer Cheese Grits

This is my own recipe for Beer Cheese Grits.

First, throw a large Kentucky Derby party with loads of great people, mint juleps and food, preferably in a gorgeous sprawling manse on the banks of a beautiful river. If you do this properly it will require lots of help from people that cook better than you and the home of someone you barely know. A bartender would also come in handy but is optional. Using a recipe from an original edition of "Out of Kentucky Kitchens" by Marion Flexner , make so much Kentucky Beer Cheese that even if the party goes into the wee hours at least 3 cups of it will remain in the morning.

Wake up the following morning and have at least one Bloody Mary. Make the grits according to the packaging. I use Quaker brand, but not instant. While making what was intended to be garlic cheese grits, realize that all of the garlic and all of the cheddar cheese was either eaten the prior evening, or used in the making of the Beer Cheese. Eyeball the leftover Beer Cheese. Get it out of the refrigerator and taste it. Have another Bloody Mary. Dump half of the Beer Cheese into the pot where the grits are cooking. Stir, taste and add more and more until it appears you have simply added grits to your Beer Cheese rather than vice-versa.

Have another Bloody Mary and put your concoction into a baking dish. Bake it until everything else for brunch is ready. It will have a lovely crust of baked bubbly cheese on the top. Serve it mostly to people that have never had or never liked grits before. If they don't love it, that will simply leave more for you. If they do, you can pat yourself on the back for helping folks gain an appreciation of fine Southern Cuisine.