Strong Women and Whiskey

not for the delicate palate

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Location: Oxford, Pennsylvania, United States

I've found that if you speak as if with authority on nearly any topic, most people will believe you. This frightens me.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

photos, food, and friends

Roasted Cornish Hen with Black Olive Tapenade and Herbs
Doug's "boss" (also a friend) came to dinner sometime in the past month or so. This was a winner, and so easy. I can't remember everything else from that dinner except the smashed potatoes that almost got forgetten. I always cook too much food!

My take on "le Oeuf Jeannette" from Jacques Pepin's book The Apprentice: My Life in the Kitchen. Very good, especially since our eggs are so fresh. I substitued stone ground mustard for Dijon, and really enjoyed the added texture. The dressing (made from leftover filling and some vineagrette-type ingredients) was light, yet rich and creamy. A bit high cholesterol, but a good dinner nonetheless.

I have a new love in the world of root vegetables: the parsnip. I'm not much of a carrot-eater, so the flavor, when described to me as carrot-like, did not sound like something I would go out of my way to prepare. I'm very glad my brother and his girlfriend got me The All Year Cookbook, by Shirley Gill for Christmas. Not only is it a great cookbook that focuses on seasonal cooking, but it's got lots of pictures. I like pictures. My only complaint on the book is that it leaves out the occasional step that many cooks understand is integral, but a less experienced or more literal cook would question. Regardless, this Spiced Parsnip Soup is creamy, fragrant, and showcases the subleties of the humble parsnip with a little exoticism. It's a little rich for every-day cooking, but distinctive and simple enough to add a memorable touch to a dinner event. I've already tested it on company twice. :) I discovered three days before Easter that Doug and I would be hosting Easter Dinner. I was determined to keep it simple, but somehow it still took a whole day of prep work and cooking. This is some of it --
-- not to mention the Easter-cannoli. I did yellow and green. They turned out really pretty.
Easter tree adorned with some handcrafted ornaments bought in Germany by my mom before I was born. We have no forsythia yet, so maple branches worked.

The absolutely appropriate "Wild Kingdom" shot.

Hasenpfeffer. I had planned to cook this for Easter dinner, due to my dislike of the "Easter Bunny" horsecrap -- my plans were derailed by my mother who refused to participate. I haven't had it in years (like 15). This bunny was actually a farm-raised organic bunny purchased by a reputable butcher for a small fortune. While it was very tasty it did make me ponder two things: 1) we need more friends that hunt and 2) whether we should raise meat rabbits since even *I* was willing to pay exorbitantly for this one. The basic premise is to cook up a marinade of vinegar and spices, marinate the critter overnight in it, then cook it in a pot whilst adding the strained marinade to it. It's finished with a roux of flour and water and then sour cream before serving. Really, very good, and a farm-raised/proffessionally butchered rabbit was missing the sometimes strong "wild" musky taste as well as bits of hair that home butchers usually miss.

.... but Oh! the betrayal of the Easter Decorations.

Our recent rainy weekend yeilded a few hours of sunshine on Sunday. We had a regular munchkin photo-shoot with my godson, Morgan. Apparently he's been watching his Dad clear downed branches out of their yard, so he was excited to help Doug and I with some of ours. The photos turned out really well, I'll be posting more either here or on The Baby in the Mirror.

My friend Mike came up from Arizona where he is honing his musical and technical genius for the whole weekend. I miss him again. Good times.

This face.... I don't even remember what my handsome husband was saying at the time. But this is the face he makes when he is saying something that borders on sarcastic and is likely taking a complete tangent from the remark he should be responding to. Yes, we see this expression a LOT around here. :)

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

hit the ground running

One of the best smells in the whole world is the smell of bedsheets after they've been dried outside on a sunny day (provided that you live in an area where a sunny day smells nice). Today was one of those breezy spring days that kept me from lingering in that space between bed and dressed. I had the linens washed and on the clothesline by 8:45 -- which is very impressive for me. I also washed a set of sheets that I used for class on Tuesday. I hope whoever I work with on Thursday appreciates it.

Speaking of class -- I almost lost it yesterday. We've worked on most areas of the body in the prone (downfacing) position thus far. Yesterday, we were slated to start learning our final prone sequence, the legs. When this sunk in, I was inwardly freaking out. First of all, that meant I had to shave. I'm naturally light haired and a bit lazy, so after winter this task was a bit, well, daunting. I managed to get that done without the aid of the weed whacker, but it was close. Second of all, I'm incredibly self conscious about my upper legs. Like, REALLY, self conscious. As in I'm not comfortable letting my husband see me in a swimsuit without a sarong. Let me get this straight, nekkid is one thing, a fully exposed leg on it's one is another thing altogether. Even more attention is drawn to the upper leg when there is a visual dividing line. To top things off, I pulled the short straw and was supposed to be the class guinea pig while the instructor gave an overview. Absolutely not. I managed to pass that on to a more willing person.

I ended up paired with a classmate who is significantly smaller than me. A LOT smaller, in fact, which added to the knot in my stomach. But I survived it. Leg massage feels really good, by the way. I was open about being self-conscious -- which is good, because usually I just crack self-derrogatory jokes and my partner was really quite cool about it. We got to talking about the fact that we've both worked with the elderly and disabled. She made a point to tell me that she'd done a lot of personal care, which I could empathize with. For those not in the "know" personal care is hairbrushing and all that good stuff, but it is also bathing, shaving, and buttwiping. But I realized, after the comment, that her intent was really to make me more comfortable -- and it did. Gave me the confidence that she saw bodies the way I do -- as something in need of care. Plus I now know that she's dealt with WAY worse than me. :)

It's those small kindnesses that can just make things so much better. I was able to, in just a brief conversation, let go of my insecurity and focus learning, and enjoying the massage.

Anyway, more stuff going on here, got some curtains hung, starting to figure out how to create the guest room for when we have company in May (yay!), made banana bread, played with chickens, we have lots of eggs now. Gonna have to use them up.

Okay, enough rambling. Off to make some chicken alfredo for dinner. MMMMM pasta.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


For someone who used to lay claim to being something of a wordsmith, I certainly can't seem to find them sometimes. I'm no good with words for grief and loss. The kind of loss that a very dear friend of mine is experiencing is so intense that I can't find any words to give her. Maybe that's it, though, having been something of a wordsmith -- I am more acutely aware of the resonance of a word, and can't find any that are even close to the situation. The only thing I know how to do is wrap someone in my arms and listen-- try to draw some pain from them like a poultice.

I really wanted to get in my car last night to do just that. She and her family are in my thoughts today, all I can really do is send as much good, loving energy that way as I can.


Things here are what they are. My grandmother has had some kind of seizure or something over the weekend, she was living in a nursing home. They still can't figure out if it was a stroke or what -- but they had to insert a pacemaker to regulate her heart. She conscious again, but Mom tells me she's raving and babbling -- before whatever it is happened, she was very cognizant and verbally understandable. So they're working on that.

The same weekend, my aunt had just come back from a short-notice trip to Johns Hopkins with heart trouble. She's had several bypass surgeries and a shunt (I think that's the right word) -- so another surgery, especially an emergency surgery, had us all holding our breath. But, she's home now, and recuperating, thankfully.

The weekend brought some reunions, too. We had dinner Saturday night with some very good friends that we'd not seen in a very long time -- they came over and I cooked a really interesting salt-crusted chicken, that, despite the ratio of 1 lb salt to 1 lb chicken, turned out not very salty and wonderfully tender and fragrant. Sunday, I had a friend from back in my highschool days stop by -- she'd located me on MySpace -- and it was absolutely great to see her. We chatted for a few hours. It would be great if we could get together again -- I think we've both changed in some very similar ways.

School is good. I love it, most of the time. Sometimes I think I have some mild form of Turrett's because my mouth has no "off" switch -- or well, it does, but often it doesn't work - especially in the classroom setting. And it's not profanity that comes out, it's some form of humor. *sigh* It's getting better though. I managed to quiet down yesterday, some.

Doug and I were supposed to finalize the closing on our house last week, transferring from the construction loan to the final mortgage. He finally went yesterday and did that. Friday was hell, though. Since we're not totally done, I wont' totally rant, but we're so incredibly frustrated and pissed off at our mortgage company that it's really turning into fury. They are just incredibly incompetant, and by the time we really discovered this, it was too late to really back out and go elsewhere. It's not just us, though, we're spoken to other folks in and around the business who've told us that what they've done to us is either illegal, or darned close -- at the very least unproffessional and incompetant. *sigh*

Oh, and we've had a rather large rotor tiller for about 2 weeks now, (18 inch rear tine tiller) and haven't been able to use it. The first weekend, we spent saturday on the phone with the tractor store trying to get it to go into gear. This was unsuccessful, so they sent someone out last week to fix it -- which was also unsuccessful. So now, this week sometime they'll be sending us a new one. We have to get two tills in by frost free in order to make the most of the growing season, it would be nice to get started!

We finally ordered seeds, and seedlings from Seeds of Change. Due to our tilling delays, I don't see much hope in starting too much indoors, they might get a bit unruly on me, like Erin's morning glories before I have somewhere to plant them. Doug has planted our rasperries and blackberries in the area that he and my brothers (and I - some) cleared of multi-flora over the past few weeks. Just beyond that will be our garden -- all 30' x 75' of it. We'll be cover-cropping about half of it with fava beans probably. I dunno though, looking at our seed order, we could use all of the room! Some of the seeds, like beans, greens, radishes, etc- you plant in succession so you don't have them all ripe, all at once. We also don't intent to plant huge amounts of any one veggie. This year is more about finding out what works -- so we have an assortment. My favorites are going to be to see how the San Marzano tomatoes, All-Blue potatoes, Black corn, Rosa Bianca eggplant work out (it's white and pink!), and moon and stars melon. I haven't even started on herbs, yet, and I love herbs with a passion. That's more of a "next-year" project, since I have an idea for an herb garden in an area that's not been cleared yet.

We've maybe lost our minds. In addition to these plants, I have some wax beans, turnips, mustard greens and luffa to plant:


Total Product $: 125.79
Grand Total: 149.59

I'm hopeing we're able to get $150 worth of produce out of this deal. :) Fortunately, I think we will because 1) we are learning 2) I'll plan meals around said produce and we'll be purchasing less meat 3) many of these plants are heirloom varieties so with a bit of work, we can keep and store seeds in order to plant next year. Enough of me rambling, though, it's time to study, shower, and paint something before I go to work.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Happy Birthday Blog!

Strong Women and Whiskey is 1 year old today! Loaded with strong women but a little low on whiskey. How did this begin? With my fiance on a two week business trip, and me home sick, and bored.

It started as a place for me to reflect, and post some poetry. Now it's more food, photography, and life. Wild.