Showing posts with label TH. Show all posts
Showing posts with label TH. Show all posts

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Needlepoint Mania

I have not really mentioned my new obsession here, but my friends and family have seen me stitch up a storm. I'm not making my own clothes, but I have gone back to needlepointing.  Needlepointing is something I did in high school. I wasn't very good, nor did I really finish any one project, but my mom was happy that I picked up a "domestic art" that I could do pretty much anywhere.

Fast forward a few decades later and I have nearly completed one of my high school projects - a needlepoint pillow sampler in a lovely pale pink. I've also finished two other tapestries and am now struggling loving my new project which uses a 18 mesh canvas and cotton thread.

The truth is that the more I needlepoint, the less I look at my phone. I also seem to be eating less because you can't really eat or drink with a canvas in your lap. I like the fact that for the most part, I'm working on portable projects and that they are good conversation starters.  

It is great for me because TH is also doing some needlepoint, so she's okay with me dragging her to needlepoint stores wherever we travel. 

My favorite thing to make - pillows.  I estimate that I'll have completed six of holiday accent pillows. I can't believe I've become that person.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Buy this now - the St. Valentine's Day edition

You could always just buy your true love some bubble wrap to keep the plants warm and toasty, Chelsea Physic Garden, 2015.

I'm not much for St. Valentine's Day as it is gushed and shoved down our throats by my kindred marketers.  I hate watching desperate people flocking to the candy store or into lingerie stores looking for a little something at the last minute. St. Valentine's day is a foreign concept in Iran, but one my mom worked hard to integrate into our childhood.  I loved getting little presents from her - little notes or new pjs.

I was not a terribly popular kid growing up and didn't get tons of cards or had sweethearts in my youth who cared about such things, as a result my feelings about the holiday soured until I met TH. She was skeptical about the holiday as well. Over time we both warmed up to the holiday. For the past twenty plus years,  we've enjoyed some nice dinners, bought flowers or plants near the day and exchanged some lovely mementos that we both still use.

I think on our first Valentine's day she gave me a flat bladed shovel.  Romantic? To me, yes. Practical? Hell yes. I still have that shovel and use it often.

As I walk around the gardens of the Shires, I wonder what I would get a gardener to celebrate the holiday - something that would last and be special. I have spent a little time today listing a few of these. It may be too late to order some of these things for delivery next week, but the gardening season is coming up and lasts a while, so I'm sure they will still be appreciated.

Here's my favorite wash basket that we use for carrying seedlings, shears, and seeds to the garden and fill up with produce on the way back. It is sturdy, gorgeous and goes well with your wellies.

I can't live without my Felcos.  I have to change out the blade occasionally, but these size 6 right handed pruners are by my side or in my skort all summer long.

I cannot get enough of seeds from  Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, especially these chicories or these Renee's garden sweet peas.

I do wear gloves when I garden and these are the best I've found. They go right into the wash and hang dry. Do yourself a favor and buy two pairs.

If you love a good garden book with some awesome recipes, I highly recommend finding a used copy of this great book by Christopher Lloyd.

If you want to read about an amazing story of gardening and family, pre-order my friend Tara's book The Orchard House and go to her Seattle reading.

That garden spade - it is still worth a million boxes of truffles.

Go out, get dirty and then get romantic.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

On Ferguson a guest post by TH

I usually don't use this blog to discuss anything other than my mundane life, but watching the protests all over the country and in some cases, the looting that takes place because clearly we need more beer and Red-bull to sustain our marches breaks my heart and TH's.

These are her words, but they are my sentiments as well.

TH  grew up going to Old Oakland every Saturday with her father to do their weekly shopping - deli meats and olive oil at Ratto's, coffee at Peerless and visiting the wholesale produce market well before it was gentrified and hip. Many of these businesses stuck it out in Oakland when others fled for the safer enclaves. They survive today thanks to an influx of new people living and working in downtown Oakland and maybe kids or grandkids of others who grew up shopping downtown.

Alas, Susie, this is not true.  Among the businesses looted in the past two days are Genova Delicatessen, Smart and Final, and a Walgreen's drugstore.  Nearby and in danger are food icons such as Ratto's, Cafe 817, and Bakesale Betty.  These are the places that are truly a part of the fabric of Oakland.  Genova has created amazing sandwiches and ravioli for generations.  Smart and Final provides wholesale and retail restaurant supplies for small restaurants in Oakland's Chinatown and for many other nearby restaurants.  The also sell quart bottles of vanilla extract to us overeager bakers.  Walgreen's brings a drug store to a a very underserved neighborhood.

While it is easy to say "oh insurance will cover their damage", these are institutions that have provided food and pharmacy services to a center city that many institutions abandoned.  They remained and worked to rejuvenate old Oakland and Telegraph Avenue and helped sustain the city's revival.  Their insurance may cover the damage, but insurance is not free.  Their rates go up every time there is such wanton looting.  And even if they are not looted they have to board windows, and lose sales and patronage, time and time again.  Eventually they may well say "enough is enough" and close or leave.  And other small businesses may be less inclined to take the risk of investing in Oakland.  These kinds of small losses truly destroy Oakland's social fabric.

Yup. Small losses grow big.  Save Oakland.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pickled peaches

oh the choices v2

We're in the middle of a canning frenzy. Honestly, we've been canning since June, but now, we're really getting into it. TH is also starting to dry fruit. Why? Because when neighbor's fig tree breaks branches under the weight of the fruit, you have to do something. Figs led to apricots and now peaches.

Peaches, we had a lot of them this year, we have two trees that produce -- one Babcock - the ubiquitous white peach and one yellow peach that has seen better days, but still produces fantastic peaches. The Babcock is directly outside our dining room window - TH would monitor her peach development and curse each squirrel who would eye her tender peaches.

Everyday was a peach orgy here -- breakfast, lunch and after dinner would see us slicing and eating peaches - TH likes hers with milk and I just like them. Peaches are one of the things that brought TH and I together in the beginning and that in itself is key.

Life around here can be sweet, but these days, I'm being sour. Work and family stress is making life with me a bit trying. Just ask TH and the dog. Instead of making peach conserves with my plethora of peaches - we try something else, a pickled peach. Imagine the concept of peaches with a little bite, but still sweet and with a non mushy texture. Pickled peaches are a great accompaniment for pork or just by themselves. You can can them, however we just make them as we need them. They are delicious and made even more delicious when made with peaches from your own tree.

Pickled Peaches - from Chez Panisse Fruits, Alice Waters

Makes six halves, can double or triple recipe

3 peaches
2 cups water
1/2 cup red wine vinegar (my guess is white would be just fine)
2 T honey (1 T is fine)
1/2 t peppercorns
4 whole cloves
2 allspice berries
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf - fresh if you have it

Pickle the peaches one day before you need to serve them to let the flavor mature.

Peel peaches - if they are ripe, the skin should peel right off, if not, plunge in boiling water for a minute and remove and place peaches in cold water to stop the cooking process. Skin should peel off easily. Cut peaches in half and remove the pits.

Measure water into a non reactive heavy bottomed sauce pan, I use Le Creuset for this. Add peppercorns, cloves, honey, vinegar, allspice, cinnamon and bay leaf and bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add peach halves and cook for 3-5 minutes under low heat, after 3 minutes they peaches should be tender. Remove pan from heat. Carefully remove the peaches from the pickling mixture (slotted spoon is good for this, or a 1 cup ladle), place peaches into a non-reactive container - I use pyrex or glass working bowls. Let pickling mixture cool, strain out the solids and pour liquid over peaches to cover. Store overnight in fridge and serve the next day. Will keep in the fridge for a week, good luck having them last that long.

Alice suggests serving with duck, me not so much. I like a nice pork loin.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


Dinner, all ready. I'm over it.

My father knows how to make three dishes tops, which considering his age and the era in which he was raised, is pretty good.

When we were little, my father left Seattle to go to London to take a course in biomechanical engineering. He went three months earlier than the rest of us. While I missed my father, I was more worried about what he was going to eat. As far as I was concerned, the only thing he knew how to cook was ab-gusht, the Persian lamb stew with shanks, chickpeas, onions, and tomatoes -- all slow cooked to a meaty goodness. The marrow was the best part. My mom assured me that he was going to be okay.

Later, his repetoire expanded to addas katteh - rice with lentils - easy fast and surprisingly meaty and hearty and his version of piperade - a mix up of eggs, tomatoes and potatoes. I used to love watching him make it, mostly because the idea of my father cooking was so unusual. His time at home was outside, or reading and studying. I also loved this combination of flavors - except back them I did not like runny eggs. The sharpness of the tomato combined with the richness of the egg yolks and the substrate of the potato was a classic combination, little did I know my dad was not this dish's inventor, but his version was a knock out.

Piperade is very much the same classic combination of flavors -- sweet peppers and onions as a base with a touch of smoked paprika or chile powder and tomatoes added and cooked down and the crowning glory -- eggs, glorious eggs. The potatoes are addition. Most people would mop up the eggy goodness with bread -- the potatoes are just a nice addition. Ditto for adding ham to liven things up.

The recipe I used was from Chocolate and Zucchini -- I'm going everywhere these days to excite my palate. The best part is the vegetable prep can be done the day before, leaving you with only adding the egg and cooking.

My hack:

2 peppers - red pepper and yellow pepper -- sliced
1 medium onion - chopped
1 t ground chile pepper - not hot
1 T olive oil
1/2 clove chopped garlic
sea salt
4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped - could used canned in the winter
sliced cooked potatoes if you have some sitting around
8 eggs

In a large heavy skillet, heat olive oil, add sliced peppers, onions, garlic and cook using low heat until everything is softened and melting - approximately 35 minutes.

Add seeded chopped tomatoes and potatoes if you have them and cook another 15 minutes or until all the liquid has evaporated and spread the mixture evenly in the bottom of the skillet. Season with salt and pepper.

Turn off the heat -- crack each egg, without breaking the yolks. Add each egg to the pan one by one and cook over low heat until the yolks are softly set.

Remove from heat, divide into fourths and serve with crusty bread.

Monday, August 18, 2008

the keenest of peaches

variety is the spice of life

On the hottest day of the year, I bought two cases of peaches for canning. It always seems to be that we start preserving for the fall and long winter when the mercury rises about 90 degrees. We don't get started until after the dinner dishes are done and all the jars are scrubbed and ready to go and we don't end until way past our regular bedtimes.

Frankly, I was happy to see the rain and wind and cool temperatures of Monday. I was even happier to get the show of canning on the road before 9 pm.

The peaches we got are wonderful, they are seconds - blemished, but they are juicy, perfectly ripe and locally grown. While we have two peach trees in our garden that typically produce well, this year we have not one peach thanks to a mismatch between bees, flowers and our typically flaky weather.

I miss picking peaches off the tree this year.

I also missed the opportunity to pick peaches off the tree this spring when we went to visit the communities near Fresno that grow amazing varieties of peaches on small scale family farms. The cold weather had us off the first harvest by a crucial week. However, it was still fun to watch our friend Paul jump up on the processing line and show us all the facets of peach packing. Trust me, you had to be there.

Most of all, peaches signify to me the beginning of a long lasting relationship between food, TH and myself. Our first real date involved ten hours together going in search of peppers, peaches and warm weather in the 509. On the way home we stopped to get some peaches. When we got back to TH's house, we needed to make a cobbler for a dinner party to which we were both invited.

The peaches were not ripe and TH and I boiled the life out of them to get them to soften.

It was the act of cooking together and trying to figure out how to make something good out of something bad that made me realize that there was something here that was real.

I think TH felt the same way.

Other than the cobbler, we both don't remember much about the what else was served that night, but we laugh every time we think of that peach cobbler.

Here's to more moments of brilliance in life and the kitchen

Friday, December 07, 2007

Field of dreams

Somewhere in Colorado, September 2006.

Note I wrote this 11/30, last Friday, thank you for your patience.

It is cold here in Corvallis. It was very strange driving into campus today with TH and have her explain to me the passing landscape, she has a knack for describing things that makes it easy for me to imagine what it looked like in different seasons. TH did this drive for three years, transiting back and forth from Seattle to Corvallis by plane, train and automobile. She was lucky enough to have a home with our friends L&E kept her in divine food, clean clothes and coffee for those long quarters of classes, papers and commuting.

They gave her respite and a place to escape in a beautiful house in the middle of Christmas tree farms.

Over time, she found her perfect drive to and from campus. She would drive windy back roads through small family farm plots full of spinach, hazelnuts, blueberries and leeks. While, this morning it was sleeting and gray, I could picture what it must have been like for her in the early spring when the blueberries were starting to flower and the hazels were unfurling their first light green fuzzy leaves. In the early fall, when the hazels all turned yellow and the corn was ready to be cut, she could see yellow for a few acres. The drive was a good way to prepare before she was to present her work on Bayesian modeling in her informatics class or discuss how ideas in science diffused. We talked a lot on the drive down yesterday about learning, school and when you are ready to be done with school. Neither of us believe that you ever finish learning, there is so much out there. School, that may be another story.

Today, I can say that she knows more about the cutting edge of mapping, information sciences and visualization and how they can be applied to a slew of environmental issues. She has approached these ideas as a geographer, scientist and historian and made sense of them.

Good job TH, Dr. TH to the rest of you.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Posh marshmellows, chocolatier Foucher, Paris, October 2007.

I'm knackered, it is the time change.

Ernest goes by his own clock, so up he was at 6 am and now he's down at 6:30.

He's a by the book kind of guy.

I have nothing of real import to report, I'm a bit sad today. One of our family friends is putting her husband in a nursing home. There is that subtle shift between the acceptance of your elderly relatives needing to leave home when their husband/wife/partner or caregiver can no longer provide them the care they need and when it becomes the person that introduced your father to the practice of medicine.

I can't even imagine what my parents are going through today. They went to go see them today.
On a happier note, some of my pics are up from our last trip to Paris, London, Brussels. Go check them out. I have yet to tag them properly. We found a lovely new chocolatier on rue st. Dominique (Jen, you must check him out) and all the favorites were just fine.

My risotto is burbling, my artichokes are as well, TH is setting the table and its time for dinner.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

words of endearment

Tiny little handprints, October 2006.

Today while in Trader Joes, TH murmured to me the words that are part of our enduring relationship --"when exactly are you leaving again?".

I can't blame her, I'm a nutcase today.