Friday, January 30, 2015

Scones, Granola, Cauliflower, Grapefruit wine, Calamari Nicoise, Homemade Feta and good old Avocados.... My week in cooking.

Did a lot of cooking this week- sometimes life's just like that

Found this awesome recipe from Goop's annual detox- which i highly recommend... I did it for a week and felt great at the end.... This is the Cauliflower 'Fried Rice' and it's the jam...

I was eating alone that night- so I had leftovers... and for me, little is better then some black beans and a fried egg... topped with a little salsa.... epic

I had a little time off so i made feta.... Feta keeps a long time, so I make it about twice a year, it's SO good and salty and great on a salad or with crackers... I gave it as xmas gift last year... and it was a big hit. It's important to start with an organic whole goat milk... spend the money here... it's worth it. I haven't used this kind before- I'll let you know how it is...
Next you add the coagulant and let it set- then you spend 36 hours letting it settle and drain all the whey... 
As you can see here the cheese is ugly, I flip and smooth every 12 hours... because when it comes to food: pretty counts
Then you slice them up and salt them... these suckers need to sit out for 2 or 3 days depending on the weather... 

Once they are dry you pop them in brine and jar them. They will mature in about a month and they will last in the fridge for about a year. (although in my fridge they don't last 5 minutes....) 

Made Coconut Granola... so easy- SOOO good... I may never go store bought again!

I love the winter citrus season... So i popped open Kevin West's 'Saving The Season' and decided to give Vin De Pamplemousse a go. Was fun and easy- it won't be ready for a month... thats exciting... I'll report back...

I felt the need to use the slow cooker, and so i grabbed the The French Slow Cooker and made us a little Calamari Nicoise... put it over a little saffron rice... was fairly epic.

Tate was shooting all week, and i felt the need to spoil him for working so hard. His all time favorite is scones, and I had never made them before. I couldn't find recipes that I had all the ingredients for, so i did some thing I never do in baking- I made up the recipes for something I've never made before. Now in a stew or a salad or whatever- who cares- make that shit up, explore ... but with BAKING? I feel like baking is chemistry, science... I feel like you shouldn't fuck with that shit... but you know what? I was feeling frisky... so I went for it: First I made Banana Blueberry scones... I looked over several recipes, to get the basic tenants and then had a go.
They came out perfect... I was feeling terribly pleased. Normally I don't eat what I bake (because my ass grows exponentially, so I have to curb that shit...) but I did eat one of these- a) I needed to make sure I wasn't gonna poison someone, and b) that shit was fuckin good and way worth it!

I'm big fan of making things pretty so i surprised my man when he got home with scones and tulips...

I mean seriously... is there anything prettier then a fucking tulip??

Tate took the scones to work, and I received several texts from his co workers thanking me and asking for more... so fuck it- I made more. This time I did raspberry coconut... I invented this recipe too... too much moisture... I need to tweak these. They tasted great, but they were a little flat. Let me say only they taste better then they look:

And finally- with all the cooking and learning and trying new shit, I thought I'd give a shout out to the simplest MOST delicious thing of all. 

A perfect avocado and Stoned Wheat Thins

In all my years of cooking, few things are this easy, this simple and this good...

Greens, Mushrooms and Fried Eggs with Thai Chili Fish Oil

This is one of those meals that after i make it my husband says.... Can we have that again tomorrow?

Which I of course respond hell yes- because not only is is super delish and healthy, but it's wicked fast and easy to make... I call that a home-run.

I originally found it from my girl Martha

But I've made some revisions (like adding the chili fish sauce and reducing the butter considerably...) i encourage you to try both!

  • For Thai Chili Fish Sauce- this will make extra- it's a killer condiment for many many meals
  • 4 tablespoons  fish sauce  (avail at most asian markets)
  • 4 Cloves garlic- minced
  • Juice from one lime
  • 4 Thai Chili Peppers- thinly sliced

  • For the Sage-Chile Butter 
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter 
  • 1 teaspoon ground sage 
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes 

  • For the Eggs and Greens
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 10 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced 
  • Coarse salt 
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 
  • 6 cups greens (rough chopped) I've used a bunch of different types here, Kale, Chard mustard greens... You can totally cheat and use an entire bag of pre chopped kale or whatever...
  • 4 tablespoons water 
  • 4 large eggs 
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Directions:
  • Make the Thai Chili Fish Sauce:
Mince garlic and slice chili peppers. Combine all ingredients. Jar and keep in fridge.

  • Make the sage-chile butter: 

Melt butter in a large heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat. Add sage and red-pepper flakes. Simmer about 2 minutes until butter is melted. Put in bowl and set aside.

  • Make Greens and Eggs:

In same skillet, add oil over high heat.  Cook mushrooms with 1/2 teaspoon salt until golden and tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in garlic, then greens and water. Cover for aprox 30 seconds and stir, until greens wilt. Add 2 tablespoons sage butter, and combine. Push greens to make 4 wells. Crack 1 egg into each. Season with salt. Cook for till egg is to your liking.  Drizzle eggs with sage-chile butter. Drizzle everything with Chili Fish sauce. Garnish with cheese.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

The Universe is listening

I grew up camping. Er well, I grew up being MADE to camp. I went to school at hippie schools and we had to camp two or three times a year- at the minimum. I had my first sleeping bag when I was 3 or 4. All thru elementary school and high school I would be kind of forced- to put on a backpack with all the shit I needed for the next week (or two in some cases) and off we’d go into the wilderness. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t really like it either. Backpacking is a terrible sport- it’s for masochists to be sure. Your feet blister, your fucking super tired all the time, your constantly hungry, and you constantly keep walking… It’s horrendous. Especially to a 10 year old. Plus, I have bad knees so I was never a huge fan of my biannual scholastic torcher fests as I came to regard the activity.

It was not until last year- at 37 that I decided that I would like to sleep under the stars once more… I asked my dad, brother and husband to pitch in for Xmas and gift me certificates to REI so I could get all new gear. I was excited, however I had one specific guideline- no backpacking. This bitch was driving in… My husband was happy to oblige me.

Last August Tate and I went on our first excursion- a nice little campsite in the sequoias… we laughed and fought while we set up our 6-man tent… I was THRILLED to finally be able to stand up in a tent!! F-you lightweight camping supplies that are all function and no comfort. I inflated our queen size air matress and I set up my semi gourmet luxury kitchen set up…

It was fantastic. I LOVED IT. Everything was so big and fun and luxurious it was exactly the opposite of how I had been raised to camp. My inner rebel was at peace… absolutely.

One night on that first camping trip after digging in the plastic tote I had made for the kitchen supplies- I said to Tate- ‘honey, I’ve got an idea for a camping kitchen box.’ And there, in my notebook, next to fire I sketched it out… I would be a box; with a piano hinge on the bottom that would open up to shelves and drawers- you would put it on the edge of the picnic table and work out of it… we would make it out of wood, with sturdy handles on the side. Here’s my sketch. 

Tate promised he would build it.

Several months passed and I was looking thru Outside magazine (a magazine I rarely read), and I saw an advertisement for “My Camp Kitchen”. I mean, firkin-a… it was, ALMOST EXACTLY what I drew. I called Tate and said- you won’t fucking believe what I just found- turns out you don’t have to build it after all! It already exists!!! Here it is:

Now I’m a pretty lucky person, and things usually happen for me without too much pain or difficulty. I’m a hard worker and a good person, but good things naturally come my way… I am undeniably lucky: Lucky to be born in America, lucky to be born middle class, lucky to be born in this time, in this place. Sometimes I think- I need a new, whatever, and pretty often whatever it was I am thinking for will present itself to me in the next few days… But I don’t think I have ever had a situation where I put something out into the universe and had it handed to me Quite. So. Exactly. Down even to the dimensions within an inch!!

Last week we went camping again- and I used my new box. And it’s fucking perfect. I mean- perfect. I couldn’t have designed it better myself.

Thank you universe… I’m grateful you’re listening… I’m listening back!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

an hour in the life

It started cuz I took the laundry outside to the washer. 
Then I figured I should probably clean the cat box. 
Then I noticed I needed to water, which made me realize I needed to weed. 
Which made me notice I needed to replant a few things. 
Which made a mess so I needed to spray off the dirt from that area, 
which made me spray off the entire back yard. 
Which made me need to scrub the teak table down. 

And when I was done, the wash was done and I put the clothes in the dryer and on the line.

thats how i sunday...

Goodbye David Carr

I don’t remember meeting Dave Carr- I just know that in the second semester of my senior year at college he was there. And, he was my boyfriend. David was tall and skinny and blond. He always had these chipped painted fingernails. He listened to music I didn’t understand and chronically smoked cigarettes, he drank Gin and to me, he was Super. Fucking. Sexy. He was, in hindsight the beginning of a long journey I would take dating alcoholics and drug addicts. But at the time, I was so naive, I thought when he fell asleep in the middle of dinner it was because he was just tired, I had no idea what a junkie was. I thought the acne was just bad luck.

We dated about 6 months, which was a long time for me in those days. He was there for my graduation ho-rah… the party, the packing, and the goodbye. He and I had a tender little romance, nothing earth shattering, and nothing that would last… in fact my inevitable leaving made it even seem more important then it might have actually been. On Thursday nights when we had ‘soul night’ at Charlie Flynn’s with what felt like everyone I ever knew in college, he always saved one slow dance for me. Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature”

In the goodbye love note he gave to me he wrote, “Our history is an accumulation of small moments. Building toward a 5 day explosion and the hope that you’ll stay”
I didn’t stay. I left college, and Boston, and Dave.

I went to Colorado after graduation for the summer and he actually came and visited me. We tried each other on outside of college, but it was there, in the mountains that we realized we would be destined to be friends and not lovers.

Those early years the memories are like a slide show- that fucking sunburn he got that one afternoon when he fell asleep on the deck, to this day I’ve never seen one worse. The hot air balloon ride (my only one ever) over the Rocky Mountains at sunrise. Gallivanting down the street in Boston howling at the moon. Day drinking in Charlie Flynn’s bar weeks after my 21st birthday. The chipped paint on his fingernails- I always thought that was so punk, so hot… Making out in the back of a party, feeling like I was a good girl parting on the wrong side of the tracks.

In those days we wrote letters. It was before cellphones and email and texting and Facebook. We kept in touch by hand, and mail. He sent me letters on the back of bar napkins and negative reports. At least once in every letter he would apologize for his handwriting and that he felt he didn’t know what to say…  often he would talk about trying on sobriety for size.

After college, when I still fancied myself a film director- before the slow numb hum of mediocrity had set in- I set out to make a short film. Chick Pee Productions was born, and in looking thru the photos just now I’m shocked by how many of my friends from my whole life long turned out to help get it made. I knew about acting and directing and a little about design- but the whole camera and lighting part of filmmaking was another language to me and I knew, if I was gonna even pretend to make a movie, I needed Dave Carr. He had been a camera hot shot in college, and I knew no way I could do it without him. I asked him to come to LA, and he came! He told me he needed Josh Dreyfus, to which I replied, “ok, lets get Josh”. We did. And that’s how Josh and Dave moved in with me and my cat- into my one bedroom apt. 

I can’t remember how long they were there or how we managed to fit in my tiny one bedroom apartment- I know they stayed at least a couple of months. Maybe even six.

What I do remember is his drinking. He and a couple of friends came to visit me on set one day when I was doing a TV commercial- it was about 11am, and when I took a sip of his sprite it was full of SUPER. STRONG. VODKA. About once a week I would find vodka bottles hidden in my apartment. I wouldn’t look- but in a tiny apt I would just, find them… In my towels, in the cushions of my couch, under my kitchen sink. I was so confused. It was so weird. Why didn’t he just leave the bottles on the counter? All the drinkers I had known did it in public, even sloppily so, Dave was the first secret drinker I knew.

We shot that short film, and it was an especially fine piece of shit- however, I will say this, it LOOKED fucking terrific. In the end the script sucked and I learned the hard way that sometimes, you CAN’T fix it in post.

Dave and I kept in contact for the next 20 years. I saw him when I went to Seattle, and he and I wrote and later emailed. He struggled with sobriety, but last I spoke to him, he was sober, working at a sober living place and really making a go of it. He always emailed me when he moved, or had a big life change. But in the end, I hadn’t heard from him in a couple years, and the last time I SAW him was in Dec, 2006.

Couple of days ago Josh texted me that he had died. He had heard thru Facebook. Which, you know- fucking sucks. Cuz like, can you even trust Facebook??

David told me I should always have his parents phone number, you know, just in case. I called them, and despite wanting to, I left a message. A day or two passed, I didn’t call everyone because, I didn’t know what happened, and I wasn’t even sure if it was true.

It is.

I still haven’t really heard what happened. Heart Failure due to booze? Ooof. That’s a motherfucker. In the end maybe it doesn’t matter how, only that he died.

 I loved him, and I’m sad he’s gone. For a time I loved him most of all. And, even though I’ve had a parent die, and suffered like, real grief, this one hurts too. And as I look back thru photos, I realize that everyone dies. And sooner or later, the longer we last, the fewer and fewer people are alive in our old photos. And that just fucking sucks.

My history with David was an accumulation of small moments. Building toward a sad quiet implosion and the hope that he could have stayed.

Friday, June 27, 2014

What. Do. You. Want. To. Say?

What do you want to say- all this talk of being a writer, and where is it? What’s the deal? Where are the goods? Till now it’s all just a bunch of talk and a basket full of hopes, but where are the goods? Where’s the time in the chair?

What do you want to write about? What do you have to say? Why would anyone want to read what you have written? I mean, really? The world is a bevy of thoughts and information and social talk, and bullshit broadcast on the regular… so Chase Carter what sets you apart? All these years of ‘I think I’m a writer’, but I’ve never even, well, written- do you dare? Do you dare to put it out there? Try and say some shit?

Do you dare?

In truth, there is so much to say. In fact I wish I could just fucking shut up. I am by no means an authority or an expert on well, basically anything, but I’m terribly opinionated and often sound like I know what the fuck I’m saying… And I do know a bit about a whole bunch of shit.

Like, I know how to cook. And be a wife, and tend to my cats. I know how to travel and how to eat (it’s a fucking skill…) I know how to make an event happen in wicked fast time, and I can organize your whole life in an afternoon. I know how to make cheese, and bake, and how to relax- like really relax. I know how to decorate and how to make your environment beautiful. I know how to throw a dinner party and I mean MAKE the party, like down to the homemade tablecloths. I know how to laugh, and I know how to grieve. I know how to be a godmother and how to walk my mother into her death. I know how to survive as the sole woman in my family and tend to my three men, while still being my own person. I know how to be the daughter, sister and wife of an alcoholic. And I know how to survive that too. I know how to swear, and I know how to work, SUPER FUCKING HARD. And I know how to play. I know how to skip thru my day with grace, and a little style, and a lot of laughter, and shit ton of cool.

And so that’s what these following pages are. They are a place for me to express that, and advise that, and to comment on that. I don’t want to talk about politics, or smart shit. I want to talk about real life. Day to day life, and if something smart comes out of it then so be it. But I’m not setting out to give a shit what all my fancy pants well read over educated friends think about this. They can go read the economist. These pages are for me, and my friends, this is for people who eat, and people who laugh, and swear, and like to make clean delicious beautiful things. This is for parents and non-parents, for travelers and for dreamers.

If any of that applies to you: then welcome, and read on.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Stories from at sea- Turkey June 2014

As expected this boat, er, Yacht, is amazing. The group is wonderful- not a dud amongst us- everyone is getting along-I mean, there are inter-family dynamics but as a group it's pretty perfect. Lots of laughter and joy and silliness. I've been nothing but happy for days.

Mornings begin with swimming laps (at least for me) and breakfast of eggs, toast, olives, cucumbers and tomatoes. Sometimes yogurt and fruit, always tea and coffee. The first day i was the first one up at 5am, today i woke up at 9.... There is a large 12 person table where we share all our meals that are prepared by Mettia, our large round non English speaking, kind eyed chef. As we speak he is down in the kitchen chopping mint for our mid day meal.... the food is always fresh and delicious, well cooked and there is way way more then any of us know what to do with. We've considered asking them to make less food, but that seems far too rude, and we wouldn't dare...

Our Captain is Bajarin- Baja for sort. He's 36 and been a captain for 8 years... we met his daughter and wife who came aboard when we docked in a small fishing village that he's from (dad/ carter think St Barts circa 1981) We have two deck hands, a 16 year old plump and super sweet boy named Hussein, and another man who is our waiter, bartender, he cleans and takes care of us. (it's a funny thing having "help" and i'd be lying if I said there aren't some on this boat who are more comfortable with it then I...)  Normally we just motor along, but today we put the sails up and went for it... Patricia said she's never seen a boat like this actually "sail"- we decided since we have a young captain he's not yet sick of the work and still loves his job, he gave us the thrill of the sails up. (plus he loves us cuz we are obviously awesome)

The first night I slept in my cabin, it was kinda stuffy so the last two nights I've gotten into my homemade sheet sleeping bag (which, was literally the best thing I've brought- SOOOO glad i took the time to make it), then I bundle under 4 or 5 blankets and my pillow and the wind flips and flaps, and the sea laps at the boat and I sleep like a fucking baby. The first night there was wind so loud and strong that Mimi gave up and went in... but I maintained and the payoff of waking up looking out over the sea to the sunrise was beyond anything I can explain... while you are all watching Game of Thrones, we are floating IN it....

Everyone usually takes a morning dip before we push off and we cruise for anywhere from a half hour to even three hours (as we did the first day and will do again tomorrow when we travel over into Greece). Each morning a couple of us do our exercises, sit ups, stretches etc. And then we sun. Sun, nap, read and chat. The old ones and I sit in the shade- the young ones lie in the sun. There is a fantastic awning that they pull over the deck where was can sit on our loungers next to the ladies in the sun and all talk and chat and relax.

Mid day there is a stop in a village, or like today a 10 minute walk to a small Bazar (where I've decided to skip.) it's HOT mid day so I tend to find some shade and a pal to talk reflect and relax. Lunch is served between noon and two- depending on where we are going and have been... and it's always fucking good. Yesterday it was an eggplant, tomato, beef situation over rice/ almond pilaf- with salad, yogurt, and a bean and squash side dish. It was, BEYOND delicious... really really amazing. If we want it wine is served and long after the meal we sit and chat and laugh- often we swim, always I take photos.

Wifi is terribly sporadic- and mostly we go to villages just to get wi fi and then shove off again. The boat doesn't get it all that often, and when it does it's slow. Its been fairly hilarious to pluck 11 americans into a wifi free zone, it's like a bunch of addicts jonzing for their fix- Dede must ask every hour or so- "is the wifi back??" 

Thing is- we like the quiet coves where we are secluded and don't hear or see other people. But the trade off is no service. The first night when we were just outside Marmaris we were in the same proximity as a floating party boat. For most of the night it was deep in the distance, but when I woke up at 5am feeling stuffy I heard the ungt, ungt ungt of the base and thought I'd go investigate. And there it was, not 100 yards away from us with its blue and pink neon awfulness pulsating thru the night like a bad floating rave. At one point it was so close the I could make out the people on deck laughing whooping, screaming in their drug addled haze. It was hilarious... While i was standing there Jamie, (who has slept every night on the deck) woke up and he and I snuggled in and talked an laughed and whispered till others woke up at 7a. (And when the party boats music stopped sharp at 8am- we decided they were amateurs.... we would have partied FAR harder then they....) But their noise made us SURE we didn't want to be anywhere we would have to deal with that shit again.

The seclusion of a private cove aboard this floating 5 star vessel is about as luxurious as anything I've ever dealt with. Granted there are some aboard that have been on far fancier digs, but theres not a bitch amongst us who wouldn't admit: this doesn't suck. And when we do find ourselves complaining, for example "theres another boat in our cove!!!" we all look at each other and some yells "hashtagyachtproblems" and then we all laugh... or "we've run out of white wine"- thats a: #yachtproblems... it's so silly, but so so funny. You know what Jamie is like when he gets going.... we've been howling.

In general there is a lot of laughter aboard this wooden gulet. Laughing watching Jamie dance or someone tell a scathingly embarrassing story, or hastaging this or that.... just all a lot of simple, silly fun.

Evening falls and the water gets calm. Dinner is served around 8ish and it has been grilled fish, and lobster, shish kebabs and pasta. There is grill rigged to the front of the boat and the captain mans the grill. Again there is way way way too much food, but the crew takes all our left overs and so nothing goes to waste... and the chef repurposes, often days we recognize yesterdays sauce as a base for todays side dish...

Before we left we decided that at least one night should be birthday party- so last night was the night. Missy had brought some streamers and balloons, and we all pitched in and bought her a new ring when we were in LA, and had brought it with us.

It was Gracie and Fiona's job to take her to the front of the boat as the decoy while the rest of us scurried and decorated. She came back and we all sang happy birthday and laughed at her while she did the now classic, steady herself, tilt her head slightly back, pull out her phone, and attempt to take a photo... we were taking photos of her, taking photos of us.

We put her at the head of the table with her silly birthday candle glasses- which she wore all too eagerly, and we feasted. After we ate dede opened her gifts.  Dad, you will remember the large red ring she always wears- it's beautiful, but it was a Bob (her ex) promise ring, that she still wore only cuz it was beautiful, but she wasn't thrilled with the meaning. I don't think any of really knew that- and when she saw her new ring, dude she took the red ring off and she motioned like she was about to throw the old one into the water- we all screamed and howled and, of course she didn't, but later in the evening we decided it would have been pretty bad ass if she had actually checked the fucker. (but as she put it she thinks she'll sell it and do something nice for her granddaughter instead) The new blue magic ring is so beautiful on her finger, and she just loves it so much- it was so so dear to see her with it. We all sat there and toasts were made and sweet tears of love were shed. Jamie made a toast to mom and there wasn't a dry eye in the house. We all agreed she should be here, and in a way that she was. We all told our favorite Dede story which ranged from putting Patricia in the BACK of the green pick up and driving her up to grizzly, or asking Jamie if he thought maybe he was gay and Jamie dissolving into tears because no one had ever asked him before and he hadn't told anyone- her quote at her only daughters wedding "don't beat her up and don't bring her back" or the time while driving 100 miles an hour, and passing a speed limit sigh that read  "40" she looked at me and said, "that can't be right..."

The Captain had a cake made for the party and as soon as we took a bite we stopped, cake in mouth and looked at each other. Whomever made the cake, god bless them, had mistaken salt for sugar and the cake was, well, inedible. We howled with laughter, it was awful. There was no way we could tell them, and knew it had to appear as though we enjoyed it- the crew is SO lovely and the chef especially, we couldn't bear letting them know how bad it while Jamie, Missy and Natacha distracted them, we got a black plastic bag and threw the extra cake away and enough from each plate to make it look like we devoured it.... was as funny as anything that has happened yet.

We laughed, and cried and toasted. We turned on turkish pop music and danced... we poured Raki (turkish sambuka) and watered it down for Grace. We made mocktails for Deeds and toasted her long amazing life, and her impact on all of ours. Not least of which was this trip. We realized sitting there that Missy had been the flower girl at Gracie's wedding. That Claire had been the flower girl at Missy's wedding (which Gracie officiated) and that Grace had been the flower girl at Mimi's wedding...  It was pretty amazing to have all these amazing people sitting around the same table, tucked into a cove in the corner of the world. (And, Carter you should know to keep it alive, you'll need to marry Natasha so Naomi can be the flower girl at YOUR wedding. Sorry, but it's been decided.)

So thats it for now- I hope you are well- doing what we do when life is normal. Today i am enjoying one of the perks of working so hard- alas what we all work so hard for- until I see you next  I will remain, floating along into the night, under super bright stars and a very bright midnight moon.  Content just drifting along, safe, happy warm and loved with old, dear friends.

So fun. So special. Magic.

More soon