Saturday, January 29, 2011


Tailored Laurel Hedges

My heather has been obscured by Kyle's truck and my driveway is a wind-tunnel that gets clogged with leaves from everyone else's yard surrounding my house.  Here it looks relatively clean. 

This rosemary was a small pot last summer. It weathers our wet winters very well here.  

On the landing at the top of my stairs, the smells from my kitchen are at their most intense.  If I were to sell my house, I'd bake a loaf of bread and a batch of cookies just before an open house.  I would have multiple offers on the first day.  That is how intense the aroma can be and it is at its most intense when I'm cooking something Spanish or Indian.  On Thursday night, I made Susan Loomis' Curried Chicken Wings.  I found this wonderful recipe in her memoir, Cooking at Home on the Rue Tatin (Wm. Morrow), and a simpler recipe cannot be imagined.  For four servings, you place four pounds of chicken wings on a single layer on a baking sheet (lined with foil and then misted with cooking spray).  Season the wings with salt on both sides. In another bowl, you'll need one cup of full-fat plan yogurt, 2 tablespoons curry powder (she recommends Madras, which is my preferred mixture), and a good pinch of hot paprika.  You pour the mixture over the wings and with your hands make sure they wings are entirely coated.  Then bake them in a 375 degree oven for 50-60 minutes.  Loomis recipe calls for a hotter oven (475 degrees F), but it always burns the wings and I've turned the heat way down.  Maybe it is because I use Greek Yogurt.  In any event, the wings turn a heavenly shade of yellow/brown, and are intoxicatingly aromatic with the curry spice.  I serve them with tater tots from Trader Joe's and a big green salad. I never have leftovers, but the smell of the curry is in my house for at least a day afterwards, and as reported, most intense at the top of the stairs.

Lots of chores were on my list of things to get accomplished this weekend in preparation for my trip to Turin this coming Tuesday.  It's been three years since my last visit to Italy, and I'm very excited to hear my buddy Christine Goerke, who is in the midst of a five-performance run singing the leading soprano role of Kundry in Wagner's PARSIFAL.  It will also be my first trip to Turin and I'm going to spend a day in Genoa too.  So my plate was full:  a haircut, to the bank for Euros, shopping for groceries, drugstore for travel needs, and back in time for the gardening service to trim my enormous laurel hedges, which have grown more than two feet in the fourteen months since their last trim.  I've been putting out things to take with me for a week.  I'm determined to bring one small rolling bag and a backpack and that's it.

I really liked the President's State of the Union speech, which may not have pleased the pundits (head's up ladies and gentlemen of the blogosphere--it wasn't written for you), but it think it went a long way towards telling Americans that we need to get back to innovating, educating, and investing in our future. Not that Republicans would have it that way.  They are too busy being disrespectful as they attempt to repeal every Obama initiative coming out of the White House.  I didn't realize afterwards that CNN was the only network that ran Michelle Bachmann's insane response to the State of the Union.  With her graphs and her mashed truths, she looked more zombie-like than she did the night she won her election. If that's the future of America, INCLUDE ME OUT. I've had a belly-full of mouthy know-it-alls like the Tea Party and their Republican counterparts.  I'm just happy that the insanity at the heart of the Tea Party message will give the Republicans major headaches.  They deserve it.  

Saw Secretariat, the Disney biopic about this amazing Triple Crown winning thoroughbred--the last horse to win it nearly forty years ago.  It's a thrilling movie with a sensational cast, headed by the emotionally compelling Diane Lane, one of the most underrated actresses in films today.  James Cromwell, John Malkovich, Scott Glenn and others all contribute to this emotionally satisfying movie.  Old fashioned--yes, but this was a horse to root for and a story worth telling. It's a far better movie than Seabiscuit.

Will write more from the road.  Planning on taking lots of pictures to download this trip.

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