Saturday, January 14, 2006

Palate preparation

I may be in the minority here, but last night I decided that the best way to prepare my palate for this culinary delight:
was by first polishing off this:
and two gin and tonics later, following with four of these:
Nothing like gin and retro-crappy tacos to prepare your palate for Lavender Orange Almond Cake.

In my defense, I did wait until after 5 pm to hit the gin and this week was a pretty tense one in the parenting department. Fiona has learned how to punch Ian's buttons. She is no longer the sweet little sister who thinks that he's a god and does whatever he says. While a part of me applauds her feisty spirit, by 5 pm on a Friday, the rest of me was just sick to death of being a referee. So the ref hit the sauce and there was much rejoicing! When Brian came in the door at 6 pm we were running around the house singing the melodies from Carmen and Beethoven's 9th at the top of our lungs.

To say that we were a spazzy mess of humanity is a bit of an understatement. Thankfully Brian did not turn right around and head back out the door; instead he helped usher the taco fixin's to the table (news flash: taco filling is just fine when made while drunk!) I think this is the first time I've made the totally non-authentic tacos that I grew up with. The last time I had one of these was, oh probably 1985.

But you know what? They weren't that bad; they were kind of comforting in the food memory department, they were easy as hell and (big drum roll) the kids actually ate them too.

Despite intense interest from the short people of the family,
once the taco fest was over, it was too close to bedtime to risk giving them any sugar.

After we wrestled them into their jammies and beds, I was feeling pretty sober again so I relaxed on the couch with my slice of cake, a cup of peppermint tea and this excellent book:
And the cake? Awesome. Very moist with a heavy almond flavor from the ground almonds and almond extract in the batter and the sliced almonds on top, and the orange and lavender pushed it over the top. I think it would still be an excellent cake without the lavender (if you don't have any on hand), but the lavender does provide a little extra boost of interest. You can get the recipe here at The Traveler's Lunchbox.

Tonight, I think I'll have another slice and pair it with some of the Poire William eau de vie that I've been neglecting of late.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


The sun is shining today! It has been a LOOOOOONG time.

Heading out to get some happy rays. That is all I have to say.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Power of Suggestion

When it comes to food, I am incredibly susceptible to the power of suggestion. That is why I subscribe to so many food magazines, read food blogs (especially those with nice photos) and now, listen to food-related podcasts.

For this latest addiction, I have Jillian to blame. At a holiday knitting party, she off-handedly mentioned that I should get an I-Pod and listen to the Eat Feed podcasts while working out.

I dare say Jillian has no idea the power she has over me. (Hi Jillian! Want me to go jump in a frozen lake? Bake you a cake? Name my cat Jake? Stop rhyming? Will do!)

A few days later I had ordered this:
My new friend. I am in lurrrrv. And yes, I have a way with earphone cords that makes them tangle like a nasty ball of yarn every time I take them off...Luckily my yarn experience makes me pretty adept at untangling them.
(For brand justification, see below ***)

and, after a little teeth gnashing and some child neglect, I figured out how to download these podcasts to my computer (using I-Tunes, which yes, works just fine on a Windows computer):

  • Eat Feed
  • KCRW's Good Eats
  • KCRW's Bookworm (both KCRW shows available for download here)
  • NPR: Food (which excerpts any food related radio bit from stuff like Morning Edition and All Things Considered and compiles them together for your food obsessive ease)
  • The Diane Rehm Show Friday News Round-Up (the only time I really listen to the show)--both NPR podcasts available here.

I also loaded Beethoven's Symphony No 7 (my sanity and concentration inducing music--especially the second movement) and a couple of the kids' music albums (my car stereo is perpetually freaking out so I can plug in the player to a little transmitter and play it over the radio).

This weekend while sweating away at the gym and boosting my endorphins in a desperate substitute for mood-altering sunshine, I listened to the "Easy Japanesey" (the title makes me wince, but that didn't stop me from listening to it) Eat Feed podcast and so tonight I'm making Tonkatsu (deep fried pork cutlets--super comfort food).

I have a podcast on Scandinavian food and the foods of Vermont loaded up so we'll see what effect those two shows have on my upcoming cooking desires. There are over 30 Eat Feed episodes that I can download with more being added each week so there's plenty of good listening up ahead.

In the non-food area, I also listened to a wonderful interview with Robert Pinsky courtesy of KCRW Bookworm whose book of poetry, The Want Bone, is one of my favorites of all time. I went so far as to include the title poem in my wedding vows. He was talking about his new book, The Life of David, which I just so happen to have just got out of the library. How's that for good timing?

*** So why did I choose the Creative MuVo TX FM 512MB-Portable Audio Player w/Headphones and not one of those popular I-Pods? A couple of reasons:
  1. I wanted an MP3 player with an FM tuner so that if I wanted to switch to radio rather than something I downloaded, I could. Fresh Air is not available as a free podcast and if I get the chance to listen to it, I will.
  2. I wanted a Flash player rather than one with a hard drive so I wouldn't have to worry about it getting banged around or skipping when working out (I-Pod Nano and Shuffle are flash based, the others are not--if the Nano came with an FM tuner and wasn't so damn expensive--see reason #5 below--I'd have been tempted to get that). I keep this thing wadded in my gym bag or pocket and am relieved that I don't have to be gentle with it.
  3. I didn't want to tote around my whole CD collection because I'm not that good with choice so I got a player with 512MB of storage rather than, say, 20 gigs. That is plenty for me to download 4 or 5 podcasts and some music. And then I delete the podcasts after I've listened to them and load on a new one.
  4. This little fellow got great reviews for sound and ease of use quality from PC Review.
  5. And I got it for $50!! I found it on sale at and it also had a rebate and free shipping at the time. (Unfortunately, it is back up to $114 now.)