Nov 30 2008


shapeimage_2This year for Thanksgiving, the eastern jetstream kindly brought us our dear friends Kate and Paul and their adorable, slightly elusive, salami-loving daughter, Lainey.  Kate is one of my college roommates, a tequila-loving, hilariously cynical, bon vivant who just happens to be one of my favorite people to cook and feast with.  She married a fellow Wisconsinite named Paul, whose genial, sweet nature, unassuming brilliance and funny stories have endeared him to us in degrees far surpassing the amount of time we’ve actually spent with him.  Doctor Dash and I have made it our life’s mission to convince these guys to move to Minneapolis where they would not only have the pleasure of seeing us daily, but more opportunities for ice skating and hockey than they would know what to do with . . . not to mention superior dairy and pork products than those found in chichi-foodie-organic-everything Seattle.  

We kicked off our visit with empanadas, salad and lots of delicious red wine.  For an Argentine like myself, empanadas are a Pavlovian bell signaling good times.  No one ever eats empanadas when they’re sad . . . or maybe no one can be sad when eating empanadas.  Regardless, on Tuesday afternoon, I took great anticipatory pleasure in whipping them up with the ground beef from this year’s grass fed bovine.  The empanadas did their job of shaking their booties and singing: Welcome friends!  We’re so glad you’re here!  Paaaahtay!

Wednesday was a sunny, comfortable blur of meal plotting, shopping, some prep work and hanging out with the kids.  Inevitably, the conversation would circle around to our other housemates and we tuned into Heather’s hubby’s kick-ass community radio show, Hip City out of Saint Louis, for some bodacious r&b, soul, funk, and hip-hop to entertain and edify us while we hung out in the kitchen.  Devil Baby took quite a shine to Paul, drawing on all her feminine wiles to usurp Lainey, and he spent his day gracefully negotiating the vying, coy attention-seeking of two two year old girls.  God bless him.  Supergirl was big sisterish with Lainey, taking her under her wing to spy, play, and hide from her mother – eventually marking her with the ultimate badge of acceptance by coloring her nipples with a green marker.  Oy.  Saint James took every opportunity to lure Paul outside to kick a soccer ball around or show him cool soccer moves on YouTube.  The day slid by in happy chaos and when Dash returned from work, we piled into the minivan and went to Yum for a tasty, kid-friendly, easy-peasy dinner.  It was our first time there and a bit of a gamble for us to try a new place with our friends – especially given our mission to convert them to the idea of a MPLS relocation – but we were all pleased with our dinners and I, for one, will be back for the tuna melt.

On Thursday, the kitchen was filled with the sounds of sizzling, chopping, music and chatter.  We were expecting our friends Martin and Betty, their two sons, Martin’s mom and their nanny at around four.  We had an unexpected but lovely pop-in from our friends Big and his foxy wife on their way to another Thanksgiving celebration, so we cracked a bottle of wine at three o’clock with them and were deliciously sandwiched when they came back by for desert.  

Our dinner was a knock-out, a true group effort, and honestly, not something I think I could have pulled off without my girl, Kate, by my side.  Or it certainly wouldn’t have been as fun and relaxing.  Here’s the blow by blow:

We started with an array of cheeses:  Humbolt Fog, a delicious weedy tasting goat with two textures and a line of ash in the middle, an aged Mahon, a creamy, nutty tasting hard cow’s milk cheese from Spain specked with intriguing flavor explosion crystals, Fromage D’ Affinois, a pungent, oozy and decadent double cream, and St. Agur Blue - always love a blue and this one is especially creamy.  We also had my not-yet-famous-but-worthy-of-being-famous smokey, spicy, carmelized almonds for snacking.  I’m trying to come up with a better name, and so far the frontrunner is Deez Nutz- crooned à la Snoop Dog.

The curtain opened on dinner with a light and savory white bean soup made by Martin, who year after year, has proven himself to be the kind of cook who always manages to make it look effortless.  The rest of the luscious ditties were as follows: a beautiful 20 lb organic bird named Tom in honor of the nut pecker we’ve all grown to love and admire.  Creamy horseradish mashed potatoes.  Cornbread and chorizo stuffing made by Doctor Dash and unanimously agreed to be a worthwhile and delectable departure from traditional stuffing.  Bourbon yams brought by Martin and Betty – as happy as yams could possibly be, bathed as they are in a silky sauce of bourbon, butter and brown sugar – to die for.  Brussel sprouts topped in pancetta – also delicious with the salty pork playing nicely with the slightly bitter sprouts.  And last but not least, cranberry chutney – again, a departure from the standard, but the shallot and ginger manage to work the berries into a frenzy, their tart little voices singing with joy in your mouth.  For desert, we had apple pie, pumpkin mousse pie made by Kate and Supergirl, and regular pumpkin pie brought by Big and his foxy wife.  The latter became a victim to my late night snacking on multiple nights thereafter . . . the perils of being delicious and in my path when I’m up past two o’clock in the morning for four nights in a row.

We set up our Who table in our as-of-yet empty living room and this is the first time we fully used our wedding china – gravy boat and all.  I felt quite grown up, to tell you the truth.  The kids made place cards and napkin rings, giving the whole table a quirky, casual vibe.  And let’s face it – throw enough votives at anything and it looks pretty.  The food, wine, and company were as lovely as I could have hoped for and went a long way toward warming our house into home.  I like to believe that with each visit, each echo of laughter, each spilt glass of wine, each candle lit that melts down on its own, each story told and meal shared, our house shivers a little with pleasure, holding all of that warmth into itself, remembering and preparing for the next time.   

And Friday – well, on Friday Dash and I pulled out the big guns.  After an afternoon poking around the Lake Harriet Peace Garden and Bird Sanctuary, topped off with a trolley ride with Santa, we happily left the brood with a couple young sitters and busted a move for downtown.  A little nighttime driving tour by Dash ended up at the Guthrie, where we grabbed some beers and ogled the sleek beauty that is the theater and the stellar views throughout.  Aren’t we lucky to have such a pantheon to theatre in our city?  I love the Guthrie – we go there during the day with the kids after eating our way through the Mill City Market – we stretch our imaginations and intellects when we get the chance to take in a wonderful play – and now, we’ve discovered a great place for cocktails before a night out.  Just cool.

At nine o’clock we slid into a booth at 112 Eatery, my absolute faaaaaavorite restaurant . . . Cheshire cat grins and ready for a feast.  And 112, of course, did not disappoint.  Plate after plate of mouthwatering, unfussy, inspired vittles kept us contentedly eating and drinking and chattering for nearly three hours.  Dash and I lost our steak tartare virginity . . . andloved it.  Everything from the lamb scottadito in basil goat yogurt sauce, to the maple gorgonzola squash, to the spicy broccolini, to the prosciutto bread, to the crab salad, to the pan fried parmesan reggiano covered gnocchi, to the scallops on oyster mushrooms . . . was swoon-worthy.  We topped it all off with the banana cream tart, which Dash and I always get, and the chocolate pot de creme.  The four of us rolled out of there, licking our chops and rubbing our bellies. 

After dropping off the sitters and making sure the kids were snug bugs, we reconvened in the basement for a little Rock Band, and the Bradleys proved to be quite the dynamic duo on drums.  Paul brought an uncharacteristic rock n’ roll swagger to every instrument he tried and with these two virtuosos in our corner, we were able to unlock a bunch of new songs and fully rock the house.  Really, we were really really good.  And no band fights!


And now, after days and days of relishing our friends and feasting on salty foods and drinking delicious wines and beers and laughing and reminiscing and concocting all manner of new inventions and jobs for ourselves, I need to depuff  and detox . . . before the next round of parties . . . 

Nov 25 2008

Well as it turns out

shapeimage_2-2Tom Turkey isn’t as much of a bad ass motherfucker as we thought.  According to Saint James, his teacher misheard him when he was reading his story and Tom Turkey did not, in fact, kick the man in the nuts so much as peck the man in the nuts.  Everyone knows that’s a total pussy move for a turkey, although completely forgivable, given the incredible stress this time of year.  

What I wonder is – did Tom Turkey peck a man in the nuts or peck THE MAN in the nuts?  If he was sticking it to The Man by popping out of a toilet to peck him in the nuts, then I think we’ve got a ground breaking piece of social satire on our hands.  By censoring my little Upton Sinclair, his teacher is essentially perpetuating the oppression suffered by these big breasted fowl and silencing a brave new voice emerging on the side of the turkey.  Very uncool.  Imagine, for a moment, what it would feel like to be slaughtered, over-cooked, slathered in gravy and eaten on a mass scale by chubby Americans purportedly gathering to give thanks for their bounty.  Imagine your browned carcass ritualistically held aloft at tables rife with familial tensions, passive aggressive and regressive behaviors, and cringe-inducing verbal barbs by whoever has had too much wine.  It’s for the birds, I tell you.  Saint James is right on.  

Viva la Revolución!!!

Incidentally, I stopped by Saint James’ school last night to see if I could rescue the story from the trash, to no avail.  This makes me really sad.  I know men’s nuts and toilet humor aren’t appropriate for the classroom, but I also think a kid should never be shamed into throwing a three page carefully written piece of creative material into the garbage.  

This year I give thanks for the power and beauty of the written word, its ability to provoke, amuse, comfort, challenge, teach, evoke change, heal, maim -and for Saint James’ nascent understanding of this miracle

Nov 24 2008

That’s one bad-ass mother fucker of a turkey.

shapeimage_2-2David & Gabriela-

I have asked Santi to make changes to his “Tom Turkey” story that he started to read to the class today.  It has a couple of inappropriate parts in it- one dealing with toilet humor and another where the turkey kicks the man “in the nuts”.

Just wanted you to know.



Nov 22 2008

Odd Bad Good

shapeimage_2-3Due to a variety of factors, my dressing has veered into dodgy territory as of late.  For one thing, I rediscovered flannel shirts as well as the little black Izod shirt my mom bought me three years ago.  Both have the ability to nudge an otherwise classic look into freaky new terrain.  I am loving the pseudo Prepster and pseudo Rockabilly chick looks right now – especially when you throw in a generous pinch of old Jewish woman and a dash of hoochie mama.  The change of seasons always gets me feeling a little frothy about clothes anyway, and since I am trying my darn’dest to be fiscally responsible and not to shop (with varying results), I find myself with no choice but to mine the old closet for gems (with varying results).  Furthermore, it’s easier to get freaky in the winter, what with all those layers and textures – wool and flannel, silk and waffle knit, feathers, leathers and furs – oh my!

Ill-advised as these sartorial experimentations may be, I feel like I can get away with it because I don’t see any one person, outside of my nuclear family, every single day.  I am accountable to no one.  See me looking like a fashion freak once in a while, you don’t bat an eye.  See it day after day, you may start to wonder if I’m not becoming just a titch unhinged. When we lived at Casa Sur, I used to see Red Vogue every day . . . or at least there was the risk of seeing her to keep me in check.  Now I am a true free agent, at liberty to quell my boredom with strange pairings from my closet.  I’m safe . . . for now . . . to cheekily combine rockabilly plaid shirts, grey skinny jeans, nearly over the knee boots and faux furs.  Or wideleg wool trousers with black Chucks, tanktops and lots of gold jewelry.  Doctor Dash notices clothes, but somehow I elicited no comment when I busted out in a pair of purple skinny jeans, my black Izod (collar up) and a kelly green cableknit sweater.  I looked like Muffy on a mission – pissed off at her square parents and hell bent on losing her virginity to Danger Johnny from the wrong side of the tracks.  Throw a floppy hat and a striped scarf into the mix and I’m two ticks away from shuffling a shopping cart down the street.  

Truth is, I don’t have the balls to really bust out à la Little Edie Bouvier pictured above, who thought nothing of topping an already peculiar outfit with a nun’s wimple. She’s the epitome of devil may care balls and high style.  Bananas.  A lady whose eccentric chic I quite admire.

[Just the other day Crackerjack said to me in all seriousness:  “You must be so excited it’s boot time!”  Yes! Yes! Yes!  I’m over the moon!  Obama is elected president AND it’s boot time!!!  A new day indeed!  I appreciate being known for my idiosyncracies, vapid and superficial as they may be.]

Nov 11 2008

Sold! To the portly fellow in the Dockers.

shapeimage_2-4I did it.  I joined the dark side.  I am now a card carrying Costco member and I feel as if I have sold my soul to the devil.  Not a red, spitting, pointy tailed, trident-wielding kind of a devil. More of a mushy, overweight, Dockers clad, slightly balding, bargain shopper kind of a devil.  Sigh.  I feel so dirty.  In my defense, there was a reason – isn’t there always a reason?  I went to Costco because I needed a folding table to set up a bar for the kindergarten parent party we are hosting this weekend.  Doth I protest too much?  And, believe me, I tried Target, and I tried Home Depot (it’s pathetic that those are my valiant attempts at avoiding big box consumerism), but only the dreaded Costco had the exact table I wanted.  It happens to be the same width as my dining room table, so on Thanksgiving, I can put them end-to-end to make one looooong table, stretching into the foyer . . . and all the children of all our friends will eat with us . . . just like the Whos in Whoville.  That is my vision for the holidays.   And fuck me if I didn’t have to go to Costco to fulfill it.  They don’t even sell roast beast at Costco.

If you were there yesterday morning and you heard feeble groaning in the aisles, that was me.  Every time I turned a corner with my wonky cart that would only go diagonally, I saw some food that my family eats, but that was so grotesquely engorged and magnified as to be all but completely unrecognizable.  Have you seen the size of the log of goat cheese?  It’s like the penis of a horse.  No, it’s bigger than the penis of a horse.  How could one family possibly eat that much goat cheese?  This store should be for Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints families only.  No one else needs mayonnaise jars that weigh more than my two year old.  No one else needs forty-eight packs of donuts, cheesecakes the size of semi-truck steering wheels, Aveeno sunscreen in gigantic twin packs. Who has that much face?  The size of the box of Frosted Mini Wheats made me blanche.  The paper goods aisle made me weep.  So much plastic.  So. Much. Plastic.  The last thing fat, lazy Americans need is the message that it is acceptable to eat all their shit food on disposable plates that they don’t even have to wash.  The last thing fat, lazy Americans need is the message that all of their hydration needs should be satisfied from a plastic bottle.  The last thing fat, lazy Americans need is the message that they need bigger fridges, pantries, garages and houses in which to fit all this cheap supersized abundance.  

Eating should be a bit more cerebral and contemplative of an act. There should be some aspect of our human consciousness and conscientiousness engaged.  What we are eating, how much and where it comes from are basic, simple questions that bear some attention.  Eating should not simply be the fastest, cheapest way to get’er done.  We shouldn’t just be shoveling stuff into our carts and our mouths.  We aren’t pigs.  Eating should be more work, not less work.  Oh, I’m sounding preachy.  I really don’t want to sound preachy.  I’ll say this about Costco – the wine is divine.  The frozen edamame is great.  I also bought a bag of the potstickers which Nanook of the North swears are a magic bullet for PMS and hangovers.  

So now I’ve got my card, and I know I’ll go back.  And each time, I’ll be slightly more inured to the gigantism afflicting everything in there and I may even start to buy more stuff. I know I won’t always make it out of there with only three things in my cart and my air of superiority intact.  I just wish the card checkers were trained to say “Welcome to Costco. Remember, don’t buy anything you wouldn’t have bought somewhere else anyway.”  I know I’ll need reminding.  Or maybe I don’t take a cart – I only buy what I can carry in my arms.  Whatever – I’m screwed.  We’re all screwed. 

Cream puff filled with fresh whipped dairy cream, anyone?  

Nov 4 2008

Big Day.

shapeimage_2-6The people who read this blog are of the passionate voting ilk, so I needn’t give an earnest celebrity-esque nudge to anyone about voting.  Who am I to encourage people to get out there and vote, considering I am quaking in fear at the prospect of sweating through a serpentine long line with Devil Baby by my side?  I just hope whoever is behind me is willing to let me back in line a hundred times when I have to dart away to keep her from hightailing it out the door or behind the curtains and doesn’t mind a bit of two-year-old thrashing and screaming.  I’ve got my pockets filled with Smarties and Starbursts, Nerds and Tootsie Pops, but if I have to wait for more than half an hour, it’s gonna be a bloodbath.  Heavenly Father, if I do this, please don’t let it be all for naught.

And now a little excerpt from an essay about undecided voters by one of my heroes, David Sedaris.  This appeared in the November 4 New Yorker Issue.

I look at these people and can’t quite believe that they exist. Are they professional actors? I wonder. Or are they simply laymen who want a lot of attention?

To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?”

To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.

Nov 3 2008



shapeimage_2-5Today Mother Nature awakens. Her eyes flicker ice blue and she hisses “BASTA!”  She sweeps her arm in a wide swath over her bedclothes sending red and golden leaves spinning and spiraling into the air – skittering away from her angry gesture before landing on the soft floor of her chambers.  She rises and throws open the heavy wooden doors to her armoire. She glimpses herself in a reflecting pool therein and her breath catches for a moment.  When did this happen to me? she wonders desolately.  There is a fawn bending to sip of the pool.  As she steps into her infinite closet, he startles and bounds away.  She walks quickly to the steamer trunk nestled behind a delicate birch tree, falls to her knees and steels herself for the cold.  She opens the trunk and a blast of chilly air roils over her bare shoulders as she rummages deep within.  She slams the lid and sits on the trunk, clutching a sapphire blue silk dress to her chest.  Her heart beats wildly through the fabric against the most tender part of her wrist.  She holds up a dove gray opera glove and slowly pulls it over her pale arm.  She touches the fingers of the other glove lying lifeless in her lap and collapses back against the birch tree.  She is so very tired.

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