Saturday, May 31, 2008

I AM OBSESSED

Five blocks from my house is one of the devil's workshops. Some call it by it's storefront name, "Cube". But don't be confused. They are selling something so powerful it should be made illegal like crack or crystal. This class A drug of my choice is called "Burrata Cheese" and it is imported from Italy in spite of strict drug smuggling laws.

I can't get enough of it. Thankfully it is only good fresh and it is only flown in (from Italy, and for the price, it may be sitting in First Class) on Thursdays. Come Saturday - it is all gone.
I know, it looks like a big pile of fresh mozzarella dog poo. But one taste and you will be an addict just like me.

From Wikipedia:

Burrata is a fresh Italian cheese, made from mozzarella and cream. The outer shell is solid mozzarella while the inside contains both mozzarella and cream, giving it a unique soft texture. It is usually served fresh, at room temperature. Burrata, once only packaged in leaves, is nowadays wrapped in a plastic sheet, sometimes printed with a leaves pattern on the outside. The name "burrata" means "buttered" in Italian.

As with other mozzarellas, Burrata owes its existence to the water buffalo, a large beast that was brought to Italy from its native Asia sometime in the 1400s. Water buffalo milk is richer and higher in protein than that of cows, yielding 1.6 times more cheese. It also lacks the yellow pigment carotene found in cow’s milk, so mozzarella di bufala is pure white. Only in recent years has it traveled outside of its native Apulia.

When the Burrata is sliced open, its thickened panna flows out. The cheese has a wonderfully rich, buttery flavor, and yet retains its fresh milkiness. It is best when eaten within 24 hours, and is considered past its prime after 48 hours.


See there it is, all that good, good panna oozing from the center. We had it the first time in March. And now every week starting on Wednesday I start to wonder if I can find an excuse to get some and bring it home. Or go and sit at Cube and eat it there. I encourage company to come and visit who love cheese. I need an enabler. I need many enablers.

Earlier this week we made tomato soup. I had tomatoes frozen from last years bountiful crop. Since we'll soon be getting more tomatoes I decided to use up the old veggies before I made more. First we made a rich duck stock from left over duck parts in the freezer. Lyle has been taking a cooking course and started our stock with a rue of celery, carrots and onions. These sweated at a low heat in a pot for almost an hour. Then in went the duck parts and water. Bring water to a boil, then turn down and simmer on lowest setting overnight. Don't do the overnight part if you don't have a super low setting. I don't want your house to catch fire if the water evaporates.

The next day we drained and strained the broth and I set out to make the soup. I made a new rue of celery, onions, carrots and added red peppers. I cooked mine on a higher heat and got them browned. Then added my tomatoes, stock and seasoned it with salt, pepper, chipotle Tabasco (not too much) and some tomato paste to give it some thickness.

After the soup is good and cooked (about 3 hours) I strained it, then placed all the thick bits in the blender, pureed it then added it back to the soup.

When I serve it I drizzle a tablespoon of heavy cream over it.
Tomato soup, Brunello wine, Burrata cheese and a pizza marguerite (from Trader Joe's). I built the entire meal around getting that cheese, that cheese, that glorious cheese!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Remember Memorial Day Weekend?

I went to the store this weekend and saw the peonies and knew right off I did not want to pick them up. But Lyle was there and he did. When we got home I cried a little and told him why peonies bother me. I thought, "I should write that on my blog..." then realized I already have. Then I started to wonder if every year was just a great big "Groundhog Day" movie, where I just do the same things over and over and over and over again...

Nothing much happened this weekend. The whole house seemed tired. We all slept in late one day or another. Everyone took a nap one day or another. The biggest project of the weekend was laundry with Lyle getting out the iron (can you believe that was an exciting highlight?). But then when your Thursday or Tuesday are exciting it is nice to have a boring weekend.

I felt as if I'd eaten so much in the last few weeks that what I really wanted was some nice light food. For dinner on Monday night we had crab legs and a green salad.
You can't see them, but shopped up in the salad was our first harvest of green beans from the garden. I think there were 10 beans. Without turning over the whole yard to bean farming it seems like there is never really enough all ready at the same time to have a side dish. So they just get rolled in to some other part of the meal.

And since it was Memorial Day Weekend, I rolled out my white pants. I know, I know, that you already know that I seem to have given up on so many rules of white wearing. I wear white flip flops all the time. I own a white leather jacket. I even wore these white shorts to Disneyland in the rain last week before Memorial Day:
But my final hold out on the rule of wearing white only between Memorial Day and Labor Day is still white pants. So I was very excited to break them out and wear them all day Monday. Even though the weather didn't agree.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Why don't YOU take a poll?


The office of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is polling reaction to the California Supreme Court decision overturning the ban on gay marriage.

To vote in support of the Supreme Court's decision on LGBT marriage:
call 1-916-445-2841
press 1, 5, 1, 1
After you've done this, please send it on to all supporters you know.

If a democrat and a republican can get married, why shouldn't I?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Let's all sing like the birdies sing...

Tweet, tweet, tweet tweet. In the Tiki Tiki Tiki Room.

The Claw Is My Master...

At the Buzz Lightyear ride...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Busy, not forgotten

I haven't forgotten you all my little poodles (hi, dad. You can big a big poodle if you want).

I've been busy. Working. Doing. Visiting. I've got an out of town guest here this week and we have been to the outlet mall, we're doing some shopping today and tomorrow is Disneyland.

And since I don't have a lot of time, let me quickly tell you that last Saturday I met authors Patricia and Walter Wells (who used to be the editor of the International Herald Tribune in Paris).

I was invited via a friend to a welcome to LA/book launch party. It was held at a Hollywood Hills home sitting just below Griffith Park Observatory with an incredible view of Downtown.

I don't normally run in these circles and at times felt like such a dork. But Ms Wells made a point of coming over to our group and introducing herself and was so gracious to make conversation with dorky me. I like her. I want to be her next best friend. Unfortunately that won't happen soon because I can't afford the price tag of a one week cooking school with her in Paris, $5000.00. As Michael Guy would say, "Le sigh."

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Party in WeHo tonight!

Hell yeah, we went to West Hollywood for the Marriage Equality celebration tonight. I will confess, the last time I was in WeHo to celebrate politics was for my birthday the night Clinton first won the White House. Tonight they had San Vicente blocked off at Santa Monica and the city had a few speakers out getting applause lines. How could they not?

I did not take a picture of Bobby Trendy but he was also out in a lavender kimono wedding gown. How could he not?
There was wedding cake. I love cake!

There were strollers.

There were children of the two legged and four legged variety.

And then we went to the Abbey with our friends Phillip,

and Ellys...

...and had the gayest drinks we could find.
Raspberry Lemonade (with vodka), Mango Lemonade (with Vodka) and Mojito.
I promise, we took a cab!

Historical Day

Today the Supreme Court of California ruled in favor of Marriage Equality.

Now let’s get into my "way back" machine...

In 2000 there was a statewide vote to “ban gay marriage” and it passed. By 61%. So we left. Screw you California (not that politely said) and we moved to Canada where our marriage was not yet a legal reality, but the federal government recognized our union for immigration policies (something still unavailable here in the US).

We stayed for a year. Money, jobs, prospects, cost of living and the ultimate decider - SUNSHINE - brought us back to California, bruised and bitter.

This stuff is very personal and hard to put into words on a page. It is very hard to be on the outside looking in. As a gay kid you spend your entire life on the outside. Your idea of what makes a family and of what love looks like for yourself is not welcome at everyone's table. For those black activists who claim that gay rights aren’t a civil rights issue because they can’t change the color of their skin but I could change who I love... well I call bullshit on that. And I can’t just go and “pass” for straight any more than they would want to “pass” for white. Nor should any of us. And for all the entitled white gay men out there who don't think that the fight for racial equality is also about them, shame on you.

We left California with all our possessions and our pride packed up in a big truck with a big middle finger (figuratively) painted on the back of the trailer. A year later we came back chastened and eager for our life to resume in California. But on our return we now had a new attitude. I’m not welcome. I am not a part of America. I am only here for myself and to get what I can, money and sunshine. I will take and take and take and then I will leave because I am not one of you. I don't matter. I don't count. Unwelcome in the country of my birth, where my parents were born and where half of my grandparents were born and my other grandparents names are listed at Ellis Island. Here in the land of the free I do not have those freedoms. And it makes me sad.

As I write this, the blood pulses through me as if I were in a fist fight for my life. It makes me angry.

Then marriage equality was ratified throughout Canada and we decided to get married. A real wedding! In one place in the world we would have all the rights and responsibilities that go with that. This is a real issue for us. Inheritance, hospital decisions, next of kin notification... all those things become more real as you grow together. And let me tell you, we’ve gone through some of that stuff and we have had the most incredibly good experiences with our families respecting our wishes and employers who grant spousal rights. And we’ve had friends who have had the exact opposite. Power cut off, possessions taken and denied access to the funeral of their partner by a family who refused to acknowledge their relationship and those people could get away with it because the law was on their side.

You know those people who say they just want to be accepted? Turns out that is not what I want. I want to be celebrated. I want my life and my choices given the same weight and excitement as those of my straight brother and sister. And through my wedding I discovered that. And I got that. That day (and night) my world came together and the love and joy I experienced was worth every dollar spent on the party as it surely spared me an equal dollar amount of therapy trying to figure out weather or not I was truly loved and accepted for who I am. Everyone should be so lucky. No one should be denied that.

So we are married in Canada. And every time we go North we are a couple and we walk in together. And when we come home we separate at the ticket counter and ignore each other through customs and immigration until we are on the plane. We can not be ourselves. We can not let the government know who we are. And don’t kid yourselves if you think the government (this current government) would use being gay against you on entry to the Untied States. THEY DO. I get through easy and then I wait for sometimes half an hour wondering why my husband isn’t through yet. It turns my stomach every time. Think about that for yourself if you are in a heterosexual marriage. EVERY TIME you deal with the government you have to lie (a sin of omission if you will) and hope they don’t find out. EVERY TIME. It is no way to live.

(and there is no lack of fear in posting this and having one of our names turn up on a government immigration list)

And now today California becomes the next state to grant marriage equality. And I want it. But I am afraid of what the Federal Government will do with that information. I know that the Federal Government won’t give me and the countless others what we need in the form of immigration reform. Though I am thrilled with today’s results I am at the same time so pissed off because IT’S NOT ENOUGH. Don't let your guard down. Don't believe for a minute that the fight is over.

All that said, I’ll be out celebrating tonight just the same.

The news says it will be 30 days before the state will begin to issue licenses. We'll be registered (again) at Crate & Barrel.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mom's Birthday Weekend Extravaganza

Last weekend I went to Bellingham, Washington to be with my family as we celebrated my mother's 70th birthday. It became a whirlwind non-stop activity filled weekend the likes of which I will need much time from which to recover . But I wanted to get a little something up here so I will just hit the highlights of the birthday weekend.

I arrived on Wednesday the actual day of my mother's birthday and we went out for dinner at Black Angus. This is my mother wearing her birthday tiara while receiving her birthday dessert. I know, that tiara is so small... I offered to bring her a crown that would announce to the whole world that she had just won Miss Universe, but she politely declined my offer saying she wanted people to talk about her and not the size of her crown. I swear, sometimes its like we're not even related.

On Friday I checked in to our hotel, The Chrysalis Inn & Spa. It is situated on the water, right above the railroad tracks. They even provide you with complimentary ear plugs ("my you have attractive ear canals!"). With the window closed, I didn't even notice the trains go by. As I told my mother, "they're quieter than the helicopters that fly over our house in LA."

The Alaska Ferry launches from Bellingham, on Friday evenings about 6:30 pm. There it goes right in the middle of the picture. This pic was taken from our hotel room window. I wish I could have stayed in my room more.

On Saturday morning I met up with my nieces and sister in law for a walk along the waterfront. This is my "athletic look" of dark denims and dress shoes, I did not plan on having any physical activity on this trip. I knew I had to be up by 9 am to be on schedule and I started waking up at 4:30 am in a panic that I had overslept. I woke up every half hour until I finally got up at 7:30 am. I am not a morning person. The photo above is us pretending to run like we are in Baywatch.

I change into my first official outfit of the day which was my "working" look of grey flannel pants and a pink button up shirt. I had to wear buttons so as to not mess up my hair when I change for the photo outfit. After the room is all set up and the decor is done, I change into a blue shirt with a blue, red and white Polo tie for photos.

Just before the launch of the Birthday Extravaganza at the Elk's club, I pose my mother in front of this mountain painting. She tells me that it was painted by her uncle Marvin. I tell her I am giving her picture my own personal title:
Little-Olde-Lady-Whooooooo!?!

There is a strict schedule we have mapped out and we begin promptly at noon with a photographer brought in for family portraits. Lyle and I organize this section of the day because let's face it, that's what we do for part of our living. Everything stays on schedule and at 12:45 we are finished with photos. I change into my party outfit of jeans, a pressed white French cuff shirt and plaid blazer with black patent leather shoes because I want people to talk about my shoes and not notice me. People begin to arrive early for the 1 pm party start time. The next 3 and half hours are a blur of people, people, people. I am tested time and again as to whether or not I remember people's names or how I may know them. I only fail once (sorry Rose) but in my defence my sister says it wasn't a fair test because Rose looks too good (and now you're welcome).

I also avoid having any cake or punch to avoid a crazy sugar rush. But finally it is 3 pm and the party starts to wind down. I have my piece of cake. The next thing you know I have tied balloons to my niece and am encouraging her to run up and down the ball room.
Madness ensues with me as it's main director.

From the party I run to the hotel and change into my dinner and bowling outfit. For this I put on my orange belt and navy Polo shirt with over sized pony logo also in orange. At dinner I somehow mange to shower myself in margarita when I flip my straw out of my glass. Ice even finds its way down the back of my neck. As we leave the restaurant, Lyle begins recruiting extras for bowling.
Me and my sister, Debbie, with a ball that just happens to be marked as, "Debbie".

Gwenda & Jaymi took the bait and joined us for bowling. That was their first mistake.

Robb, Lyle & Mickey show us what bowling is really all about. Beer.

After bowling we went back to the hotel where most everyone slowed down and went to bed. I changed one last time and Robb, Scott and I went out. That made for a total of 5 wardrobe changes for the day. And you wonder why I take so much luggage when I travel?

The next day was Mother's Day. We checked out of the hotel and made our way to the Bayside Cafe for brunch.
This is the electronics haul from my two nieces and one nephew. The boring old man looking phone in silver in the middle is mine. Those kids would never use something so plain. If only I'd have had more time I could have completed that last Super Mario level for my nephew on his Game Boy. He did give me my props by telling me that I was "really good".

Our final shot of the whole crew.

And then it was time to go home.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Rollerblading Doggy Style

This little movie kinda' got lost at the end of a post the other day.

So I'm posting it again on it's own to feature it.

Though I've added some sound effects in the background, the brake squeal you hear is not added. That is all Lyle.

video
press the play button to see something fun...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Since it was my mother's 70th birthday on Wednesday (can you believe how old she must have been when I was born!?) today we are celebrating her birthday with a party in the town where she lives. Perhaps details will follow when I get home.

In any case, here is the slide show/mini movie I've prepared for her party. I thought this might be a nice way to share it with people who couldn't make it to her party. It's just over ten minutes. Enjoy if you choose to.
video

Friday, May 09, 2008

Alaskan Ferry begins here

The view from my hotel room.

Bellingham

A quick pic of Bellingham.

I kid you not

Since I've been working on some photos for my mother's party I thought I would just air some of my dirty laundry right now. I was once a child. There I said it. And now here is the proof.
That's me in the middle. I love Christmas.

Here I am working the deep-V and clearly some lip and cheek stain. Either that or it was very cold outside and no one thought enough about me to bundle me up.

Our finest moment. Jesus gazes upon us and weeps for the future. That is all my sister's own hair. I threw a fit moments before this picture because when I was told I was going to be in the wedding I was promised a "monkey suit" and clearly this jacket had no tail like the monkeys had in the "Wizard of Oz." THEY BROUGHT ME THE WRONG SUIT!!!

Same church a few years later. Now we know why Jesus was crying all those years before.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Propeller Party Plane

The thrill of it all

Happy Birthday Mom

Today is my mother's 70th birthday. I guess she doesn't mind me telling you that as she is having a party and told everyone that on her invitation. I guess she was pretty old when she had me because I am still so young, vigorous and unwrinkled.
When she was born, she was very young.

All dressed up to go to school... but did someone forget to put pants on? Oh wait, she has on a skirt...

She tells me she was dressed to go pick Raspberries for her summer job. I like to think I some from humble origins, like rodeo royalty.

My mom & dad at a nice Italian dinner at the Elk's club. I used to be so jealous of this picture because I thought they ate at the same restaurant as Lady & The Tramp.

My parents at our wedding.

So Happy Birthday Mom, I'm flying in to see you today!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Big Fat Cake

Robb, Lewis and Robb's mum are driving from Arizona to Washington state. So of course the most direct line is by way of Los Angeles. I was worried that they may choose a different route so I promised them cake if they came to visit. Specifically Carrot Cake. My Carrot Cake.

I have a disease. I can't cook small. When I make "a" carrot cake it always gets too big and turns into two. Same with quiche. If I'm making two quiche, I wind up with 3. I know i should measure, but then I don't get enough. If I follow the measurements for two quiche, inevitably I have add some stuff at the end because the pans aren't even half full.

So I started THE CAKE on Friday for Saturday consumption. That's right, it takes more than a day.

I use the recipe from "the New Basics" cookbook. It doesn't have any photos so I won't compare myself and feel I've fallen short. My secret is I one and half times the recipe to make one cake. So it's sort of a cake and half right out of the book. I do other stuff like leave out walnuts, add in raisins, a little more this, a little less that. This time I added macadamia nuts and they were a big hit. If you have the recipe book check it out, if you don't have the book, here is a very similar recipe. I've not used this one on-line, but it looks close.

So Lyle demanded that I make "JUST ONE CAKE" and I had every intention of doing so. I measured out just enough coconut, the right amount of raisins, only one can of pineapple and then I added all my cooked grated carrots. Oops. I only needed about 2-3 cups of carrots and I think I put in closer to 7. So I started making more batter. One thing led to another and I had two 9x13 cakes in the oven. And I was in trouble.

Oh, another secret to my carrot cake is I use Tupperware Ultra 21 Ovenware to cook it in. They don't make it anymore and mine is golden to me. It distributes the heat very evenly and doesn't burn the cake in the corners while the middle is still a sloshy mess.

After I made the cake I set it out to cool overnight and went to bed. On Saturday I made the icing. Okay, I had basically 6 times the cake the recipe called for originally. So I needed a fair bit of icing. So I multiplied the icing recipe by 12. That's right, TWELVE. I don't even know the Latin term for that.

I cut the cakes in half horizontally to create four layers. I troweled on the icing over the first layer and set the next layer on top. The weight of the layer forced most of the icing out the sides. The battle had begun.

I cleared out an entire shelf in the refrigerator to hold the beast and cool the icing. I returned in half an hour and spread more icing on top, then placed the third layer on. Squish, out when most of the icing while the top layer started to slide to one side. I grabbed the layer and it split in many places. I grabbed toothpicks to pin it in place but they were too short. I grabbed steak knives and stabbed through the entire structure. Victory was mine.

It was then I realized that the cover of my cake container would not fit over another layer. Great, I had a fourth layer I couldn't even put on. I cut that final layer in three pieces and created an iceberg of icing three stories tall as a "bonus cake".

From 10 am to 4 pm I had the cakes going in and out of the fridge getting various layers of icing in the middle, on the sides, filling chasms, and finally decorating. Lyle asked if I was "getting fancy" with my cakes. I told him I had to do something because they weren't' looking so good.

Ultimately it didn't matter because they tasted so much better than they looked. We gorged ourselves on cake that first night and vowed that dinner on Sunday would be "light" (so we could fit more cake in after).

And that brings me to our photos. Here is my idea of a "light" meal.

We started with a green salad. Lettuce was from our garden. Cucumber, radishes, a pew pine nuts. Then I threw on some grated cheese for color. Someone mentioned there didn't look like there was going to be any protein at the meal, so I pulled out leftover steak from the night before, sliced it and coated it in chipotle Tabasco, salt, pepper and lime. I topped the entire salad with an oil and vinegar with shallots dressing.
That probably would have been plenty. But I had already started the gnocchi. Seated on a bed of sauteed peppers then topped with Parmesan cheese, lemon zest and a confetti of rosemary. Here's my secret, the gnocchi is out of the freezer section of Trader Joe's.
Stuffed to the gills, out came the cake. THE TWENTY POUND CAKE.
See, all that colorful icing? That's me getting fancy!
And here is a side view so you can see just how thick and overly iced it is. On the far right side, you can see the the cake is still sliding off top...

Monday, May 05, 2008

Why I loves me some good drag

I found this via JoeMyGod. I can't help but repost it. The best bit is when she picks up that tv...