Wednesday, August 27, 2008

busy... very busy.

I am busy.

I am working for a retailer cleaning out their visual's warehouse. No one could pay me enough to do this. It's filthy. It's labor intensive. So why am I there? They promised there would be "free shit" as things get cleared out.

So far, a modest amount has made it home with me.

The other reason I am so interested in working there is a very good friend and former co-worker was flown out to help clean this warehouse. I really enjoy working with her. Enough to get dirty, that's how much I enjoy her.

But in the meantime, my regular work needs to get done. So I am working at home at night, and then a little in the morning to get caught up on email. Then I go do labor at the warehouse. Afterwards its home to empty out the truck into the garage of the days haul. Later, you will find me at the computer trying to get caught up on work again.

In the middle I've added things like "dinner" and "class at gym" and let's not forget "walking the dogs" and "crying in pain" just to be certain I am good and exhausted. I am looking forward to the long weekend. I have zero plans. Blissful zero plans.

Friday, August 22, 2008

My very own book list

I didn't like the last book list offered by some random "literary people" and I have decided to just write my own.

1. May I Bring A Friend? - Beatrice Schenk de Regniers

One day, a small boy receives a very special invitation — the King and the Queen have invited him to the castle for tea. He accepts, with one question: "May I bring a friend?"

"Any friend of our friend is welcome here," says the King. But their guest's friend turns out to be someone they never expected!

Oh how I loved this book! When I was very young, I checked it out from the library EVERY TIME I COULD. Finally I got my own copy as a gift.

Narnia Chronicles - C.S. Lewis. I had the complete series and even a map of Narnia poster on my wall. I read them once a year all the way through about 5 years in a row.

2. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
3. Prince Caspian
4. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
5. The Silver Chair
6. The Magician's Nephew (Though this is the order they were written, I like to read it first as it is more of a pre-quel)
7. The Last Battle

8. The Complete Far Side - Gary Larson. If you haven't read it, you have no sense of humor. My favorite comic ever was never published because it was "too risque". In it, two bears are talking and the one is saying, "Is it true? Is it true? Is the Pope Catholic? Does a bear... well, I know YOU do Angelo!"

Artemis Fowl Series - Eoin Colfer. There are 6 books (so far) in the series with the most recent just being released this month.
9. Artemis Fowl (the first book)
10. Artemis Fowl - The Arctic Incident
11. Artemis Fowl - The Eternity Code
12. Artemis Fowl - The Opal Deception
13. Artemis Fowl - The Lost Colony
14. Artemis Fowl - The Time Paradox

I've read them all (except the new one) and yes, I know they are primarily children's books but that doesn't stop me one bit.

15. The Phantom Of The Opera - Gaston Leroux. I read this book on my way to Paris for the first time. I don't normally seek out classics or anything remotely not a comedy. I thought this would be a great introduction to Paris. Some history, some intrigue. I can't believe how engrossed I became in it. I can read quite quickly and I had to force myself to slow down and absorb the book more fully.

16. A Year In The Merde - Stephen Clarke. This comedy takes place in France. What's not to like? And there is a follow up called
17. In the Merde For Love, and
18. Merde Happens. I haven't read that last one yet.

19. The Preppy Handbook - edited by Lisa Birnbach. I once lived my life by this book. Now it's more of a guideline.

20. Letting It All Hang Out - RuPaul. I once lived my life by this book, oh wait I already said that. Sorry, but I do love this book. I have a strong affinity for trashy biographies and trashy auto biographies. The funny part of this book is from when it came out. I was in love with the Mac Cosmetics poster featuring RuPaul. RuPaul was doing a book signing. I had to have a signed poster. I also had to work that night. So I BEGGED Lyle to go to the Mac Cosmetic flagship store (then located on Santa Monica Blvd in WeHo), get a poster and then go to Book Soup for the book signing and get it signed for me.

Lyle is not a fan of drag queens. Lyle avoids all contact with drag queens. But somehow I had to convince him that any feelings he had about fearing drag queens had to be overshadowed by his love for me. That didn't work. So I told him if he didn't do what I said he'd regret it for the rest of his life. That didn't work either. So I told him if he didn't PLEASE go and do me this one little favor I would never shut up about it for as long as I lived. Strangely that did the trick and he got the poster (last one in the store) and went to the signing. When he approached the counter and offered the book and poster up for signing, RuPaul stood up and said loudly, "Well aren't you just the cutest thing! Come over here and give me a hug!" And there was RuPaul towering over Lyle by a least a foot. He signed the poster "Jim, Love ya - RuPaul".

Lyle tells me all of this story when I get home and I ask (somewhat franticly) where is my book? Where is my signed book!? "Uh, yeah about that..." and Lyle hands over the book to me which reads across the entire front page, "RUPAUL LOVES LYLE".

I was so bitter.

21. Valley Of The Dolls - Jacqueline Susann. You've got to climb Mount Everest to reach the Valley of the Dolls. But don't pack this book all the way up the mountain because its heavy and trashy. Great for the beach however.

22. Danziger's Travels - Nick Danziger. An amazing story of travelling unconventionally through Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and China. Written in the 1980's it is still a fascinating read today.

23. Mississippi Sissy - Kevin Sessums. Its always strange when something that is not a comedy crosses my path. This autobiography was riveting and brought me to tears a few times. I could not put it down. Well, actually I had to put it down to go get tissues and recover. But this book will compel you to make it through to the end. The hardest part of reading it is that you keep remembering this is all true and one human being lived it.

24. Princess Bride - William Goldman. In the middle of the book, the "editor" has an explanation that there was going to be a whole additional chapter but that the publisher didn't approve and they had a stalemate as to what to do. So they compromised and the publisher agreed that if any reader really wanted to know what the "editor" thought should have happened here in this section of the book that they could write and ask for a copy. The "editor" begged you, the reader, to do this as it would cost the book company money and he was still angry with them. I loved this book so much, I wrote and asked for my extra chapter. Instead, I received a very funny letter stating that the printer was broken and to please accept their apologies or some such nonsense. I wished I had tucked the letter in the book at the time... If you liked the movie, you will love the book.

25. My Blue Heaven - Joe Keenan. He has also written
26. Putting On The Ritz, and
27. My Lucky Star and was a writer for Frasier and now Desperate Housewives. But My Blue Heaven was first for me. It's hilarious. I LOVE IT. As you're reading and thinking, "well this is nearly wrapped up and yet I still have a third of the book to go... what could possibly happen..?" TWIST! And off you go!

28. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe - Fannie Flagg. I saw the movie and liked it. I heard the book had more to it. It certainly does. Like an entire story about all the black people in the movie that you never heard about. Why look at that, they have a complete life as well! True to form, the movie and the book end differently and about 3 chapters from the end I threw the book across the room and vowed to never finish it. I finished it the next day. I have also enjoyed other books by Fannie Flagg. Who knew all that talent was sitting there on Match Game?

29. Misadventures In The 213 - Dennis Hensley. If the movie "Swingers" embodies what it was like to be young and crazy in Los Angeles for straight people, this is the gay equivalent. Dennis Hensley is a comic genius.
30. Screening Party by Dennis Hensley is great as well. It lets you sit in the room with all the funniest friends you've ever had and watch a movie with them and their catty comments. My favorite story is at the end when they go to an actual theater to see Glitter and run into Tyra Banks.

31. Auntie Mame - Patrick Dennis. Patrick Dennis, the fictional narrator of Auntie Mame and Little Me, was the pen name of Edward Everett Tanner III (1921–1976). Even better than the movie.

32. James And The Giant Peach - Roald Dahl. When I was in grade 4, every afternoon we had a half hour book sharing time. During this time a student would be called upon to share his or her favorite or current book that they were enjoying. When my turn came I chose James and the Giant Peach. I loved this book and it had my name in the title. The next day the teacher asked if I would read the next chapter instead of moving on to another student. I read every day for that week. James and the Giant Peach was a definite hit!

33. My Uncle Oswald - Roald Dahl. This is no James and the Giant Peach. This book is the story of "the greatest fornicator of all time." Uncle Oswald leads The life of a commercial sperm broker and it is a very adult tale indeed.

34. Six of One - Rita Mae Brown. I don't even know how I got this. But I did and I am glad. Juts and Julia in Runnymeade, Maryland have made many a day amusing for me.
35. Bingo - Rita Mae Brown. A sequel to Six of One
36. Loose Lips - Rita Mae Brown. Tells what happened between Six of One and Bingo but was written last.

37. Fraud - David Rakoff. In this collection of stories on his life (my favorite is when he is playing an evil modeling agent on a daytime soap opera) David Rakoff is as funny (or funnier) that David Sedaris.
I also enjoyed his second book,
38. Don't Get Too Comfortable - David Rakoff.

39. I've a Feeling We're Not In Kansas Anymore: Tales from Gay Manhattan - Ethan Morden. I loved this entire series. Yep, it's about a group of gays. They live in Manhattan and one of them is a writer. I've read them all including
40. Buddies
41. Everybody Loves You: Further Adventures of Gay Manhattan
42. Some Men Are Lookers,
and the conclusion of the Buddies novels
43. How's Your Romance?.

44. The Andy Warhol Diaries - Andy Warhol and Pat Hackett. I read it cover to cover. But the great beauty of this book lies in the nuggets you can unearth while you trudge through boring detail after minute boring detail. The most efficient way to do this is to own the (now defunct) Spy Magazine Index. This handy index allows me to turn directly to page 92 and pull my favorite reference to Bianca Jagger, "...I walked over to Halston's to pick up Bianca, she was cooking like a Puerto Rican, and she had the whole house smelled up with onions and hamburgers."

45. Tales Of The City - Armistead Maupin. I didn't want to be one of "those people" who jump on a bandwagon and read these just because everyone else was. So I didn't. For a long time. Then I was finally beaten down by my friend Robb who gave me the first one. I bought the rest of the series the next day. (this is exactly how I got hooked on the Harry Potter series. Blame Robb) Of course when I bought my books they were all completed and I didn't have to wait for each one to come out the next year, or experience the horror of only being able to read a chapter a day in the newspaper as some suffered. I read one book a day. I was done in 6 days. And I've re-read them in that same fashion a couple more times since. The beauty of reading so quickly is that I can forget what happens and the next time the story seems almost new to me. But oh how I enjoy them in the moment. Oh, and it was a huge leap for me to overlook all the hideous fashion of the 70's described in the first book.

46. More Tales Of The City - Armistead Maupin
47. Further Tales Of The City - Armistead Maupin
48. Babycakes - Armistead Maupin
49. Significant Others - Armistead Maupin
50. Sure of You - Armistead Maupin

51. The Boys On The Rock - John Fox. This is required reading in my opinion for every gay guy coming out. It is incredibly accessible, touching and identifiable. I loved this book so much I wrote a fan letter (one of possibly three I have written in my life) and purchased an anthology of short stories because John Fox had one in it. I kept looking for his next novel and was saddened to see a dedication to him in a future anthology stating that he had passed away to AIDS. This book is genius. It makes me sad that we will never get another novel from this great talent.

52. Madame Secretary - Madeleine Albright. Brilliant career. Brilliant book.

53. The Object of My Affection - Stephen McCauley. I wish this had never been made into a movie. I liked the book. I read it three or four times. The movie ruined it for me. I've never read it again.

54. How to Housebreak Your Dog in 7 Days - Shirlee Kalstone. I have lived by this book. More than once.

55. Marley & Me - John Grogan. I bought this for a friend's mother for Christmas one year. She loves dogs. I love dogs. This book is about a dog. Good match, no? Then I read it. From the very first page I knew where this book would end and I knew I had to finish it. Of course this was the January just after two of our dogs had passed away in November. I cried early, I cried often. I cried at funny things and I had to take a three week break before I had enough tears built back up to finish this damnable well written book. I have since apologized to the person I gave this to as a gift. As great as this book is, I can not recommend this book. If you must read it, have a friend make a bookmark and place it between pages 236 and 237. This book mark will read STOP NOW. I TOLD YOU SO.

56. Garlic and Sapphires - Ruth Reichl. The subtitle of this book is The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise, and that really sums up the entire book. I bought this book in the airport for Lyle right after they announced we would be delayed for 3 additional hours. He read it at the beginning of the vacation. I read it on the way home.

57. Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events The Bad Beginning- by Lemony Snicket I enjoyed these quite a bit. More clever than children should be allowed to read. But by about book 10 or 11 it got a bit mundane and I only slightly enjoyed the last book. Still, Slightly enjoyed is better than hated, despised or loathed and I promise you there is a difference dear reader. You may hate bananas (and who could blame you) and you might despise the smell of bananas (they really are quite awful don't you agree?), but if you loathed bananas then most likely you are gay. Because loathe, through very similar to despise and hate, dear reader, is a totally gay way of hating and it uses up your every fiber unlike hate and despise which you may be able to do while also doing something else, like getting people to sign petitions to ban bananas from the Earth, which no one would blame you if you decided to start.
58. The Reptile Room
59. The Wide Window
60. The Miserable Mill
61. The Austere Academy
62. The Ersatz Elevator
63. The Vile Village
64. The Hostile Hospital
65. The Carnivorous Carnival
66. The Slippery Slope
67. The Grim Grotto
68. The Penultimate Peril
69. The End

70. The Dog Who Wouldn't Be - Farley Mowat. Another dog book, this time by a beloved Canadian author. I thought based on loving this book that I would enjoy other books by Mowat. Nope. And just like all stories have a beginning middle and end, this one does to (see how I danced around that?) but I read this one when I was much younger and hadn't just lost a beloved pet. The book is still good.

71. Bridget Jones Diary - Helen Fielding. I was not going to include this book. It was on that other infamous book list and everyone questioned its standing to be on the 100 best books list, including me. But then I remembered that I really enjoyed this first Bridget Jones tale. I bought in Windsor, England in a bookstore with a view of Windsor Castle. My version has an entire chapter that isn't included in the American release that is all about how Bridget and her friends feel about Princess Diana's death. The phrasing, the abbreviations, it was all so new and exciting. I deemed it v.v.g. (very very good). Then I made the mistake of buying the second book, "The Edge of Reason" and I can't tell you how much I disliked it. It was such a re-hash. The poor girl had learned nothing and advanced not one bit. She seemed stupid and selfish for having not grown from any of the lessons the first book offered her. You know like in the Harry Potter series where you just wonder why on Earth after 5 years of hearing only partial snippets of conversation and jumping to the wrong conclusions EVERY SINGLE TIME, that Harry and his friend never stopped to say, "Wait a minute, you've only heard a very small part of much larger conversation. You can't just assume you know the rest of the conversation. Remember what happened the last time? Or the time before that? Or the time before THAT? Or the time before THAT? HAVE YOU LEARNED NOTHING?!" Anyway, so I include the first book by Helen Fielding, but completely dismiss the second. The same goes for the movie adaptations. I had to delete "The Edge of Reason" from my Tivo after it sat and sat for months and though I tried repeatedly to watch it in just 10 minute sittings, I still ahd only made it 22 minutes in. Bleah.

72. Take Big Bites - Linda Ellerbee. I freely confess my crush on Linda Ellerbee from when she was a co-anchor on ABC news overnight. Her blunt style and wry wit are right up my alley. After she left ABC I continued to follow her through all sorts of incarnations. I can't go so far as to say that if she read the phone book I'd show up for it, but if she were signing the phone book at a store nearby I most likely would be in line. This book wanders. It walks the globe and gives you free recipes. It tickled me and made me cry, but mostly it pleased me over and over again like a really expensive red wine with a perfect cooked steak.

In the first chapter the tone is set that made me know I would love this book:
Our first day aboard the cruise ship, when we plunged into obligatory small talk with other passengers, all we heard was how everybody loved Singapore.
"So clean."
There was a $500 fine for littering. Josh and I had littered on principle.
"So orderly."
There was a $500 fine for chewing gum. Although neither of us was fond of gum, we had gone out of our way to find some and chew it in public.
"Such nice restrooms."
There was a $500 fine for not flushing. Josh and I had not flushed.
73. C'est La Vie: An American Woman Begins a New Life in Paris and -- Voila! --Becomes Almost French - Suzy Gershman. Here is where I indulge my fetish for the idea of living in Paris. I will read almost anything that tells me what it will be like WHEN (not if) I live in Paris. In this book the writer's husband passes away suddenly and she decides to realize their promise of some day moving to Paris to live. Note to self, bring sheets from home (cheaper).

74. Almost French - Sarah Turnbull. From Australia to Paris, she marries a Frenchman and then discovers what it is like to live on the inside of Parisian life as an outsider.

75. Paris to the Moon - Adam Gopnik. Two Americans move to Paris to raise their newborn. Funniest part is the horror they feel on discovering that a relative has introduced their son to Barney the dinosaur on a trip to the states, and their son LOVES it.

76. Pasquale's Nose - Michael Rips. Perhaps you've always dreamed of relocating to Italy?

77. Under the Tuscan Sun - Frances Mayes. The book is so different to the movie. Knowing how much was changed for the film, I haven't seen it (though Tivo did just get it for me this week). I loved this first book. The later books became a little bit more tried and true more of the same. But as the original that established the brand, I enjoyed this one very much. Lyle did not care for it as he felt it was a bit too flowery. So fair warning, the author used to be a poetry professor.

It was my plan to work on this until I hit 100. Are you kidding me? Though I have read many more books than appear on this list, I can't remember them all. It's not that those books weren't any good it's more likely because those books aren't on a shelf in my current library. I need a little help to jog my memory of everything I read.

There are a number of books in my library that I did not include. That doesn't make them bad. It just means that I didn't mention them here. And yes, I know there are a lot of gay themed books on the list. Guess who's gay and wrote this list?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Unspectacular Me(me)

I can't believe it, wait, yes I can, I've been tagged by The T-Dude. I really think it may have been a passive aggressive move to just beat his wife to the punch. Everything okay over there kids?

1. Link the person that tagged you.
2. Mention the rules on your blog.
3. Tell about 6 unspectacular quirks of yours.
4. Tag 6 following blogger's by linking them.
5. Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger's blogs letting them know they've been tagged.

The problem is, everything about me is so spectacular! Anything dull or boring is not worth noting. But is the spirit of going along, I will attempt.
  1. I am a night person. Not a morning person. I like the house all quiet at the end of the day with no one needing anything (and that generally means no dogs needing anything either.) I get this from my parents who are in their 70's and stay up later than me (well past 2 am).
  2. Every ounce of stress in my life is kept neatly in one location on my body. In my shoulders. I believe my entire family keeps theirs in the same spot. Is that hereditary?
  3. I hold a grudge. I may move on, but I NEVER forget.
  4. I am afraid of the phone. Wait, is that spectacular or unspectacular? I don't like to answer the phone. I don't like to call people. Caller ID is a godsend. Text messaging is my life.
  5. As Barbie was once programmed to say, "Math is hard. Let's go shopping!" For some odd reason I am unable to do any math in my head unless it involves % off at a store. And then I really only need to be close-ish to the right answer because I'm just trying to figure out if its gotten low enough for me to buy it.
  6. I don't sleep on airplanes. If I'm going to fall asleep it needs to be during takeoff. That's when I am most at bliss. But once I wake up during the flight, I just stay awake. I generally read at least one book per flight.
I won't tag anyone. I never liked chain letters. Fell free to tag yourself however.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Unsmart Tart

Lyle made dinner Sunday night. From Daniel Boulud's cookbook, short ribs over whipped potatoes, parsnips and carrots (separate not all blended together). Those short ribs took three days to cook. Marinate for one day. Cook one day. Cool, then reheat the serving day. For dessert he had started a lemon custard tart with raspberries, also from the same cookbook) but it didn’t finish on time. Luckily one of the guests brought a chocolate cream pie from a bakery as they didn't know Lyle would be whipping up something special. It was very nice of them and it saved the meal.

Not to be cruel, but it was no made from scratch lemon raspberry tart.

A little bit after the guests left, the tart was cooled enough, set enough and FINALLY ready. We each had a taste. Just a taste though because we were both stuffed from dinner. We both agreed that that tart was going to be a scrumptious delight with a little cup of coffee for breakfast !

(stay with me, I’m getting there)

The next morning, Lyle was up first and I heard all sorts of commotion and the words, “COOPER!!! BAD DOG!!! BAD DOG!!! GET IN THAT BATHROOM RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!” Accompanied by all sorts of grumbling, growling and barking from Cooper. (very bad dogs get separated from the pack into the bathroom... mostly for their own protection.)

Turns out, Lyle had removed the tart from the fridge, set it well back on the counter to allow it to come to room temperature and stepped away for a moment to pee. Cooper swept in and gobbled up more than half of the tart from up on the counter.

Madness ensued.

By the time I was up and in the kitchen, there was tart on the floor, tart in the pan and Lyle was cutting the dog slobber pieces off of what remained in the pan to salvage what was left (yeah, it was THAT good).

Lyle let Cooper out before he left for work. Cooper was much chastised for the rest of the day. But I still was pissed about not getting any of the damn tart. So I made another one. One to replace what Cooper ate. I am a modest success in the kitchen (I ruined the whipped potatoes last night) this endeavor was stressful.

The recipe is from Daneil Boulod & Dorie Greenspan. First stop is the amazingly flaky buttery tart crust. Lyle made the recipe for his tart and lucky for me, it makes a double batch. There was still half in the fridge just waiting for our catastrophe! The dough is hard to work with when it gets warm. All of Southern California is warm during the day. I had to prepare everything, pull out the dough and work as fast as humanly possible. In the end, it started to break up and I was whirling about like a madman to get it back into the fridge for safekeeping.

Then the crust gets half baked.

Then it's time for the filling.

Creamy Lemon and Raspberry Tart
Adapted from The Cafe Boulud Cookbook

The filling
2 medium lemons
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks (I added an extra egg)
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream (I added an extra half cup of cream)
2 cups raspberries (I also used blackberries)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300°F.

  1. Finely grate the zest of both lemons; set aside. With a small knife, cut off the top and bottom of each lemon and then carefully cut away the cottony white pith and a tiny bit of flesh from each lemon—the juicy sections of lemon should now be completely exposed. Lay the lemons on their sides and cut each lemon crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices; remove the seeds.
  2. Place the lemon slices, eggs, yolks and sugar in the container of a blender and puree until smooth. Strain the mixture into a bowl and whisk in the reserved zest and the cream. Give the bowl a good rap against the kitchen counter to debubble it—if there are bubbles in the cream now, there will be bubbles in your tart later. (It's not tragic, but neither is it attractive.)
  3. Scatter the berries (are you kidding me? I placed mine very carefully in a perfect pattern!) over the bottom of the crust and pour over the filling (I used a ladle so as to not disturb the berry placement). Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the filling is set in the center. Transfer the tart to a rack and cool to room temperature.

Cut the tart into 8 wedges and serve as is with some lightly sweetened whipped cream, raspberry coulis or even a spoonful of berry marmalade.

I was on pins and needles wondering if I could pull all this off without having to call Lyle and tell him my plans. In the end I forgot I was cooking the damn thing and instead of 35-40 minutes I pulled it out at about 50 minutes. It was fine (whew!)
It has blackberries, red raspberries and white raspberries in a circular pattern.
I am so artistic!

And that, my dears, is what holds my marriage together... Fixing the most heinous problems that the dogs create as a surprise on his return from a long day at the office. No, I did not wear the French maid outfit.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I'll pass on the paté...

Lyle was at the store today by himself. Without me as his handy guide, he was forced to look at the aisle markers over head. He sent me the following picture:

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sunday Supper 01

I'm sure I've mentioned that Lyle is taking a cooking class. If I haven't mentioned it, well, he is. There. Now I've mentioned it. Since he is working diligently each Wednesday night to master new ways to get butter into our diet, he thought that it would be nice to add one day on the weekend to utilize his fresh mad skillz and cook a meal. He told me to pick a cookbook for him and he would work his magical journey through it.

I knew immediately which book to grab. Sunday Suppers at Lucques, Seasonal Recipes from Market to Table. I chose this book because I was the one who suggested it as a gift for Lyle about two years ago. It is authored by a local chef, Suzanne Goin. It has amazing food photos (which Lyle greatly appreciates) and the book is organized into seasons - cooking with the freshest ingredients, and menus - so the combinations are already in place for you.

I'm going to skip the review of the book. The food speaks for itself. I can add that Lyle usually only cooks half of a suggested menu as we find that 8 courses is too much to take in. And we often spend most of Saturday trying to locate one or two difficult to locate ingredients. But it has been fun.

I will also add that Lyle is an amazing cook, but even with his capabilities some of these recipes get very involved. Give yourself plenty of time.

Verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author, so I will not be typing in or posting the recipes out of the book. That being said, If I can find a link to somewhere else I will do that or paste what already exists online and paste it here. If you are feeling brave, go buy the book. If you are afraid to cook but very hungry, make a reservation next Sunday at the restaurant.

Heirloom tomato salad with burrata, torn croutons and basil

(found here, scroll down near the end of the page). You just know its going to be dreamy with that Burrata cheese...

(paraphrased from pg. 135)

1/3 lb country white bread
1/2 cup olive oil
1 T oregano leaves
1/2 clove garlic
1 1/2 T red wine vinegar
1 T balsamic vinegar
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes
3 lbs assorted heirloom tomatoes
1 t fleur de sel (a grey light sea salt, can substitute kosher salt)
2 T sliced opal basil
2 T sliced green basil
1 lb burrata cheese
1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

  1. Preheat the oven to 375. Cut the crust off the bread and tear the loaf into 1 inch pieces. Toss with 2 T olive oil and toast for 12-15 minutes so that the croutons are brown and crispy on the outside but soft on the inside.
  2. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the oregano, garlic and 1/4+ t of salt until it is a paste. Transfer the paste into a bowl and stir in both vinegars. Whisk in remaining 6 T olive oil.
  3. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half. Core the heirloom tomatoes. Cut half the heirlooms into wedges and set aside. Cut the remaining heirlooms into 1/4 inch slices. Season the slices with the salt and some pepper. Place the slices so they overlap each other and arrange on a platter. Spoon a bit of the vinaigrette over them and scatter the basil on top.
  4. Cut the burrata into 12 slices and tuck in with the slabs of tomatoes.
  5. Toss the wedges and cherry tomatoes with the sliced shallots, 1/2 t kosher salt, pepper, and 3 T of the vinaigrette. Taste for seasoning and add more vinaigrette to taste. Toss in the croutons.
  6. Arrange the salad on a platter, piled high in the center so the sliced tomatoes and cheese peek through. Toss the parsley and remaining basil on top.

Wild Salmon a la Lutece in a brown butter vinaigrette served over sweet corn, green cabbage and bacon.

WOW. Here's how the recipe starts: In a small saucepan, bring the milk and bacon to a boil... That is what you will use to create the batter that surrounds the salmon. Just when you think it can't get better, you are adding bacon to the vegetable and browned butter. unbelievable...

Almond financier with berries and creme fraiche/whipped cream

This recipe called for a cup of almond meal. Lyle couldn't find it anywhere so he made his own by blanching almonds, then peeling them and coarsely chopping them in the food processor. A lot of work it seemed at the time. However he made enough that we have had this dessert a second time and still have enough for a third go at it. My friend Tony who doesn't do desserts made a comment two weeks later about how good this cake was and he didn't have any of the cream!

Now just for the record I do help. Lyle gets the cook's jacket, I get the apron. I am the great locator (I mean let's be fair, if it's shopping I know where it is). We try to find fresh locally produced ingredients when we can and we try to find them local enough that we can ride our bikes to get the supplies, that helps because almost every recipe calls for butter, butter and bacon. And while I try not to get caught in the kitchen, I always get roped in. For this meal I assisted with the chopping of the almonds for the cake, the cutting of the bacon for the salmon and I made the vegetable dish that went under the salmon. I also arranged the plate element's for the tomato salad. My forte is making sure nothing goes to waste. I enjoy the leftovers the following day!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Flashback, What a Feeling...

I swore that after that last 80's concert I would take photos of anyone who came in costume. The guy said that he had to confess that he had all of that in his closet (including the headband) then he tried to justify it by saying it wasn't his day to day closet... sorry dude, you already claimed it.
After my great success in attending the Yaz tour I decided to get tickets to the ReGeneration Tour this summer featuring an entire slate of 80's acts that apparently couldn't pull in the big attendance without one another. Then I looked at the ticket prices and remembered my burning desire to see Europe or fill my gas tank once more before I die and decided to not get tickets.

As luck would have it the very next day I got an offer from the concert promoter that there were $10 tickets being offered for one day only the following Friday. I panicked and bought 8. Then I saw that they still charged the $8 "convenience fee" (not convenient for me, thank you) and suddenly my $80 worth of tickets had jumped to $144. Ironically I could have had front row seats for his price, but let's not dwell on that.

Now I had 8 tickets and only two were spoken for, myself and my friend Rachel. First I had to convince Lyle to go, then I checked in with some other friends and before you know it, 7 tickets were given out! I hunted about for that last person to fulfill my bus capacity (sorry Christopher) but in the end, loosing out on giving away $18 was deemed no harm no foul. Our seats were the LAST ROW in the balcony. To be fair, shitty seats. But we really didn't care. We were out just for fun on a Tuesday night.
Proud to be lovin' up some 80's...

Ashamed to be so far in the back?
Nice torn wall Universal Amphitheater...

I just knew there was a reason I love Phillip so much. It's like we're twins!
Here's my disclaimer for the event. I bought a new camera. I was so excited. This one can zoom in better than my old one and even zoom in on the video setting. What I didn't realize until AFTER I had uploaded the files to iphoto and cleared the card was that somewhere between the new camera and iphoto, the system didn't automatically import any video clips over one minutes long. In the grand scheme of things it's not a huge deal. But I diligently took video of COMPLETE songs just to share with you here. So I have no performances by some artists and the performances I do have are parts of songs that were not my first choice. My first choice songs were full and apparently over one minute long. The camera is not pleasing me. Perhaps some of your prayers were answered that fateful day because now I will be unable to torture you with my Zapruter style of hand held filming... However, I have tried to recreate my filming with the aid of youtube. But that is not what I am here to share right now.

First up was Naked Eyes.

Apparently one half of the duo passed away 8 years ago. Sad spot. But the other half who did appeared was in good form. They kicked off with "Always Something There To Remind Me" and since I was standing outside next to Lyle in the bar line and not in my seat, I had a total freak out, "OHMYGODTHECONCERTISSTARTINGITOLDYOUWE'DBELATEIFWEGOTDRINKS!!!" (translated: Oh my god the concert is starting. I told you we'd be late if we got drinks!") and I RAN into the amphitheater.

There were a few songs I didn't know and then they closed their portion with "Promises, Promises." The crowd loves a hit they recognize.

And yes, there was going to be a lot "Diana Ross" singing tonight.

Then some lag time while the stage was reset. Never a good sign. But it did allow some time for a quick beer run out to the bar, but not for me. I was still smarting from missing almost half a song at the beginning of the night.

Then ABC took the stage.

I don't know if anyone except the lead singer was in the original ABC but since he was the voice you heard he was most important to show up. And he sounded great. He was tanned and tall and some in our group thought he looked like a retired gay guy in Palm Springs.

He did a bunch of hits and one new song. To be fair, this crowd preferred the hits. And my personal favorite "When Smokey Sings". (which the camera failed to import for us all to enjoy.)

This is pretty much what my video would have looked like... WAY UP IN THE NOSEBLEED SEATS:

Then Belinda Carlisle.

At this point we discussed that it very much felt like the bill you would see at a Gay Pride festival. That's not a complaint. We all love us some Belinda. I've got no footage of her performing as I love every song she does and took way too long a video of her. Specifically I made sure to get the entire performance of "Our Lips Are Sealed" to share with my dear friend Lewis in Vancouver (and Portland is PDXLewis loves the Go-Go's as much)... thank god for youtube...

While Belinda used the same band and staging as ABC (Belinda added an area rug for her to dance on) Human League would be next up and they were doing another complete stage set up.

This break there was no beer acquired. Instead beer was deposited (if you get my drift).

I had no idea I was so excited to see them but they were amazing.

I kept wondering if these are the same "de-la-la girls" because I was loving them up.

Since I am that kind of person who checks the set list before the concert I knew there was one song I HAD to get for my friend Robb (It's not even a Human League song the lead singer had recorded it with Giorgio Moroder) but praise the Gods of 80's pop, they brought it out for their encore!

By the way, I loved the feather headresses.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Olympic Fervor

The Olympics begin on this the most auspicious day of days. As a homonym, the number 8 sounds like "good fortune" in Mandarin and Cantonese. To contrast, the number 4 sounds like "death" so good luck selling apartment #444 to that lovely couple from Taiwan.

In light of the extra attention going around, many have circulated some photos of bad Chinese-English translations in China. I'm not big on reprinting or forwarding what you've already seen so I shall introduce my own photos from a trip to Beijing in 2004.

The first photo (above) was taken in the train station in Beijing. "WELCOME TO COME" well, don't mind if I do. Except that the stairwell was very crowded and busy and we were running to catch our departing train. So late were we that I didn't have time to stop and get a picture in focus.

"Charged Lounge" With electricity? OR sexual tension? I took the photo because it looks like everyone in there will shit out their own piece of luggage.

No funny writing here. Just a very gay air conditioner. We're so happy we're are gay in our Speedos and air conditioning that we decided to have ice cream!

And just to remind you, it was the height of the bird flu scare. No chicken available at KFC, just fish sandwiches. (Not that I ate there. Someone else told me.)

You remember Chairman Mao Sanders, don't you?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Pickle me this...

My second batch of pickles. I put the bottle of wine in the middle so you could get an idea of the size. All the cucumbers are from my garden.

Lyle has the easiest pickle recipe on the planet. So easy, I can do it. These are not canned pickles. These are refrigerator pickles and must be kept in the refrigerator. But the recipe is so easy I don't mind the use of space.

1 quart vinegar
3 quarts water
1 cup salt

Garlic (about 4 cloves each container)
Dill (a big bunch)
Cucumbers (as many as you've got containers)

Stuff the cucumbers, garlic and dill into containers as tightly as you can fit.

Bring first three ingredients to a boil.

Pour hot liquid into cucumber containers. Seal. Let cool a few hours. Refrigerate. Can be eaten in three days.

Monday, August 04, 2008


Remember these shorts?

My friend remarked how awful the middle look was. "Who would wear such short shorts? I would never, would you?" The funny part is I have been searching the globe for just these shorts. Well not THESE shorts but this look. I've been looking since last summer. I know my trends. As we were drinking while watching, I confessed all to his utter amazement. "You would really wear those!?" I have great legs, I explained, of course I would!

However I didn't check the program guide until I got home only to find out that these shorts by (the newly revamped) Gant retail for $175.00. Oh yes, I am looking for shorts like these, but more in the under $50.00 range. Definitely not THESE shorts exactly. So little fabric, so much money...

They went on sale and I got them for about $65. I love them. I bought the tie that matches. I did not buy the sportcoat. I mean, there IS a limit, come on.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Burger, Burger, nummy-nums

I get all sorts of notices in my email telling me all the "hot" things to do in this city. At the most, I look into about 10% of them and then whittle that down to less and less. It's a lot of PR and junk with a few golden nuggets thrown in to keep me coming back for more. What can I say I am picky.

When I was bombarded by no less than four different trend spotting emails that a "hot" new burger place had opened right around the corner from me, I immediately thought, "Someone has paid a lot of money to get the word out. I hate that." and decided to not run right in.

But after a few weeks passed and a couple of friends (who live literally spitting distance from the place) raved about it, I caved in.

8 oz is the new restaurant by Govind Armstrong in the same space as Govind Armstrong's old restaurant Table 8 (which is apparently reopening somewhere else). I did like going to Table 8, but it was a bit pricey so it got saved for special occasions and it got trendy so it got harder to get into. Then it did all sorts of strange open/closed/open/closed things and I gave up on even trying. There are lots of other nice restaurants that I don't have to check in with before I head out the door to see if they are open. But enough of that, let's talk about 8 oz.

8 oz was TASTY. Lyle had the sliders and suds. Three mini burgers, lamb, beef and wild boar paired with three different California micro-brew beers. All delicious. We also ordered french fries and onion rings which were both very good. All the sauces for the burgers is made in house and that includes the ketchup. Impressive. I also ordered the fried capers tarter sauce to go with my fries. At $1 a side it isn't too pricey and the way I like my sauces, I'll order two next time.

But the most exciting part for me was getting closer to my queen of daytime talk shows. I ordered the short rib grilled cheese sandwich that Gayle King flew out to Table 8 to have and then they brought Govind back to the Oprah show to make it for her on the show. (Are you there Oprah? It's me, Jim!) Though Table 8 restaurant has moved, the grilled sandwich has stayed behind. I have to say, I am now dreaming of that grilled cheese sandwich. It's taking a hold of me like that burrata cheese a few weeks ago. Oh my god, would it be wrong to go back there two nights in a row? I must have that sandwich.
If you can't get to my neighborhood, here's the recipe on Martha Stewart's website.

Oh, and for dessert we had the chocolate ganache cinnamon s'mores tart with a side of in-house made ice cream. Oh my god. That tart. So delicious... Screw it, I'm going back tonight, I WILL POSSESS THAT SANDWICH!!!

Friday, August 01, 2008

En Bas le Trou de Lapin (Down the Rabbit Hole)

Hold all my calls. Disconnect the doorbell. Put the dogs behind a gate in a different room. I'm going to be a while here.

Via the every fashionable blog of Frontier Psychiatry, I was directed to the Hermes website last night. I fell into the rabbit hole.

First off, I love Hermes. I have made the pilgrimage to the flagship at 24 rue faubourg Saint-Honoré, Paris.
Where I purchased my first Hermes purchase. An Hermes Orange leather ring with a silver H on it. When they asked me if I wanted it gift wrapped I answered emphatically "Yes." And when they asked if I would like just a small register receipt or a larger multiple carbon receipt I answered, "Both." Then when I asked if I could just slide the antique leather desk set with card holder off the register area and into my bag, they told me, "Sadly, I can not allow that. It used to sit on the desk of M. Hermes when the company first began." All in her perfectly lovely French accent and so sweet to me. I thought I would wet myself. Luckily we were just behind the Hôtel de Crillion and as that was our next stop, I could sit down and unwrap my gift to myself.
Please note the ring, the Hermes Bag, the gift box just under my hand which is holding a glass of Tattinger champagne and the clever placement of the Hôtel de Crillon ashtray in the background.

I was hooked. I obsessed over all things Hermes and when we moved I took the bag the ring came in and got paint tinted to match and that is the color of our dining room.

I was already in major obsession mode over acquiring an Hermes Belt when I noticed this in Legally Blonde The Musical:
Can you see Warner Huntington III's belt?
It's Hermes.

And so I sprang into full obsession mode and a few months later I bought:
It lives in its box in a very special drawer where no dogs can find it or touch it. It does not travel in checked baggage. If it does travel it rides in a felt bag in my carry on. It is reversible black or orange. It gets worn whenever I can find a reason. Mostly in black. I am often trying to build an outfit around the orange side.

All of this is still just the lead up to discovering the Hermes Corporate website tonight.
Each photo is an interactive site all unto itself.
#1 download your own Kelly Bag pattern. Print it out and build one at home.
#2 master glove maker. Unbelievably talented.
#3 cologne ad. HOT.
And on, and on, and on...

There is even a site that leads you to window shop the world of Hermes store by store in foreign locales, which is how I found this window display in Bahrain. And now I must have an Hermes Orange Eiffel Tower for my own home. I will clear a space for it tonight.
So this is where I will be for a few hours tomorrow. Exploring each and every zone of the website. Square by square. My heart racing with each glimpse of the signature orange. My mouth watering over the luxury of the craft. My eyes misting up over the possibility of selecting my next desired object...

Oh, by the way, it's this:
It will match the blue ring I bought in Hawaii a couple of years ago. And since I've already got the buckle, I just need the leather belt. I am on a mission!