01 May 2010

My Georgette Heyer Thing

Jane Austen has one serious flaw - only one, but it's kind of bad - Only 6 complete novels. Now I read them all, once a year or so and occasionally watch a BBC version, but that's not much when you really get down to it. So this past year (2009), I found and began reading and buying Georgette Heyer novels. Most are Regency romances and truth be told they are formulaic, but still engaging. The majority of her heroines know how to speak their mind - very 21st century of them.  Her knowledge of the period makes me wonder about time travel and or reincarnation - was she really alive during the Regency era? She has a sharpness of wit and a flourish of style in her writing that I enjoy. Her ability to describe a scene or a dandy or the ton is spectacular.

So far, I've read, Why Shoot the Butler?, The Toll Gate, The Corinthian, Black Moth, The Reluctant Widow, False Colours, The Convenient Marriage, The Grande Sophy, and Frederica. So I haven't yet made a dent. Additionally, I have a small stock waiting for me to read. Obviously she's not Jane, but with 50 novels including a few murder mysteries (oh goodie) and some historical fiction, it's a pretty good deal.

Hedgehog - He's mine, mine I tell you.

I've taken too long to post this but ... this is my new friend. You'll find him hanging around in my kitchen. He's the best and his name is Spike. Dimdi's etsy site is great - she's amazingly talented and I plan to order more. 
I love hedgehogs. They are so very cute, but not the least bit cuddly. There was a little family of hedgehogs that lived near our cottage in England. If you were out in the evening you would see them about. Mama and little babies. So cute. I never tried to pick them up, though they didn't seem phased by me being there. Either used to people to some degree or just didn't give a damn because they have, um.... spines. This watercolor is just the damn cutest thing ever. 
I just think Etsy is a great idea. How cool is it that people from all over the world can sell their original art to others in a simple fashion. My watercolor came from Italy - a tiny town that, though I studied art history and had a good sense of Italy, I have never heard of ... and used google maps to find.* No hedgehogs on the gulf coast, but we do have ... bunnies, almost as cute, but not quite (no spikes - too bad).

* What would we do if we didn't have google? Scary to think how dependent on it everyone is. 

30 April 2010

Jazz Fest - what an experience!

Wow - how much fun was that? Now, we were only there for a single day, but it was outstanding.  To start, the weather was perfect - I'm not kidding - perfect. Nice breeze, sunny, with occasional clouds, and dry  - unlike last weekend's mud fest. We rode the shuttle in which was super convenient - easy quick trip, no hassles, all organized and well done. The place is huge. Now I've seen the map, but until you walk it, you just don't get it. It was easy to get turned around, but there were several convenient maps around the festival. 
There was more food than it was possible for me to believe. Had beignets and looked like a total pig doing it, but they were good. MotH had a crawfish sausage and beignets. The Boy drank lots of orange crush and snagged a beignet (he also looked like a pig). There was too much canned Miller Light for me, but we had a couple of beers - many people had LOTS more... Seems if you buy several beers at once and tip well, the beer vendors will give them to you in a box with ice - therefore, once you're settled, you don't have to go anywhere (except the port o potty - eeeww). 
We travelled through the whole place and stopped at different tents - boy the gospel tent was rocking, and so was the blues tent - too much fun. I really want to know how many people were there - was it was crowded?... esp for a Thursday? I'm curious. It was just pure craziness and every type of person you could imagine - most w/tattoos. Now there were some strange ones there - the guy in the mini skirt w/the white lacy undies I could have done w/out. Also, guy wearing apparently only a long towel-like thing...sad. 
After wondering around, we settled in at the Gentilly stage for Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers. I was expecting some nice picking and some good bluegrass, so it was a great bit of fun when they totally rocked it out (in a bluegrass way). Plus it was more like a comedy bluegrass show. Martin was his usual goofy self between songs and even in songs - a song for atheists - so amazingly funny. Martin cannot sing, but the Steep Canyon Rangers harmony were just so sweet. They closed with Orange Blossom Special - great great and even better, something I thought about, but never thought would really happen. King Tut. The Boy just stood there, like, huh? Growing up in the 70s did have some perks - even if they are goofy perks. It was a hoot. 
Then Elvis was on. One of the two remaining people I wanted to see live, and I finally did it - with MotH and the Boy in tow.  It was Elvis Costello and the Sugarcanes, so I knew it wouldn't be my Elvis - you know from 1977 - until about 1996, but I figured there had to be some big ones - I mean, it's Elvis after all. Well, I wasn't disappointed. Alison, New Amsterdam, Blame it on Cain, America without Tears, Everyday I Write the Book, and closing with the perennial Peace, Love, and Understanding. He did a great cover of Femme Fatale by the Velvet Underground and a cover of the Rolling Stones' Happy. Would I have liked more of my Elvis, of course, but it was still worth it. 
All in all - great time. To top it off. When we left this morning it was humid and drizzly - ugh - that would not be fun at Jazz Fest, so it seems we really got lucky. Cool. 
Am looking forward to going again next year.  
Photo credits: Elvis Costello & From Gentilly Stage - David Grunfeld, The Times Picayune; Steve Martin - Susan Poag, The Times Picayune

28 April 2010

Going to ...

New Orleans Jazz Fest - can't wait.  Finally (!) going to get to see Elvis Costello. 
There are so many songs I want to hear:
Everyday I Write the Book
Watching the Detectives
Angels want to Wear my Red Shoes
The World and his Wife
Two Little Hitlers
Radio Radio
Waiting for the End of the World
I could go on forever....
Alison is probably the most important to me because the Boy, when 3 1/2 used to think it was his name, not Alison. The Boy might not even think about it - it's been a few years after all, but it would mean a lot to me.

Super Super excited (like the silly girl I am). My aim is true. 

Upside-Down Butterscotch Apple Sour Cream Cake

First, never let a 17 year-old boy pick out apples for you .. enough said.

Wonderful and pretty easy as things go Upside-Down Butterscotch Apple Sour Cream Cake This cake is a favorite of anyone I know who has ever had it. 
I use Granny Smiths in this recipe. It calls for Golden Delicious - but I'm not a fan of apples with no soul. Yes, both Red and Golden Delicious - no. soul.  
I may have to kill the grandkid next door who is on a pogo stick right outside my kitchen window which is reluctantly open. 
Everyone has one of those birthdays - I had one at about 9 or so - power was out for three days including my bday. That was the first, and only time, I had an ice cream cake for my birthday. This year - for the boy's 17 we are without AC. ugh. The first rain in forever and it's humid as hell and we have no AC. Called the repair guys Friday (why do thing seem to always break down on Friday) and of course (of course!!) they can't get here until Monday. Groan.  Without AC, I may be miserable, but my hair finally is looking cute. 
You have to peel a few apples for this, but only three really. No matter - I do love my Victorinox tomato knife for any peeling jobs. It's just friggin amazing and sharp sharp sharp. I just remember that human flesh and tomatoes are very similar and try not to slice into myself - was lucky this time. whew. 
This recipe is very good and not very sweet - which is nice, if you ask me. I also like the fact that this recipe gives me a way to eat apples. Apparently I have become allergic to raw apples, but I can eat cooked ones. According to the allergist, a protein breaks down when the apples are cooked and this is why I can eat cooked apples - thankfully - because I do love me some apples - but only ones with souls. 
I do not arrange apples in little concentric circles for this - it's to be eaten by a 17 year old who would not give a rat's ass. That said, this has been his b-day cake for 13, 14, 15, and 17. Pretty impressive pick for a dumb boy.*
For the batter, you just have to play connect the glops. It works though. Offset spatula not required, but it really really helps. 
29 minutes and 30 seconds - perfect and the kitchen smells like what I expect heaven to smell like. sigh. 
Let it rest and then grip it and flip it - I just repeat Julia's mantra - have the courage of your conviction - damn it if it didn't work. 
Music to bake by: Bach, Brandenburg Concerto; Wallflowers, Bringing Down the Horse; Elvis Costello, Brutal Youth.

* He's not dumb, but he is a boy, so some degree of dumbness is implied. 

27 April 2010

Can Jam April - Herbs: And the winner is...

Well it was Apple Jelly with Lemon and Sage... but I didn't make it. I don't know why really - perhaps because I had such a hard time deciding it meant that I wasn't into this month. Perhaps because I waited late and it got mixed up with the boy's birthday (Happy 17th!) Ah well, life goes on and I'm looking forward to next month's challenge. 

26 April 2010

Top Chef Masters - Pub Food

Well, I watched it again this week. Largely because they were brining back some losers from last season. So who do we have? Rick Moonen, Wylie Dufresne (hate the hair Wylie), Mark Peel (who?), Graham Elliot Bowles (bowls of what?), Jonathan Waxman (a fav), Ludo Lefebvre (I'm freeench). 
It's always so interesting to see them line up - body language is an interesting thing. 
Gee - do you think stoli is a sponsor?
QuickFire Challenge: (they need music for this or something)
Coriander Mule - I have no idea what a mule is, but I like coriander... so maybe? (maybe not). (Graham - Crudo of Black Cod with Edamame and Red Onion Salad)
Forest Fruits (Moonen -  Cream Biscuit Berry Shortcake)
Lemongrass Mojito - has potential (Waxman - Pork Tenderloin and Poblano Stuffed Shrimp with Avocado Butter)
Nutmeg Apple Mojito (Ludo - Roasted Pork Chop with Rosemary, Thyme, Garlic) maybe?
Russian Tearoom (Wylie - Arctic Char with Lentils, Bacon, Crispy Potatoes, and Lemon Yogurt) Lemon Yogurt, really?
Ginger Figgle (what the frig is a Figgle?) (Peel - Mussel Custard with Lime and Figs) um...
French guy is bitching as usual. What a total whiner. So we must make a dish to go with our obviously sweet (in most cases) drink - not something I'd like to try. Cocktails are for before food - beer and wine go with food. 
Waxman has an interesting, and likely correct thought. Orange County Housewives (what a travesty of a female life) would probably want little tidbits... that way they don't have to eat much and ruin the plastic surgery (and fake tans and bad jewelry and slutty outfits... I could go on, but I won't). 
Only gay guys wear white framed glasses - Graham. 
Edamame seems to throw the OC skanks gals. How sad, you are obviously as dumb as you look. 
OML - I agree with Ludo - "sad that people like that judge us." I could not agree more. It's just like on Iron Chef America - they have gone from Jeffrey Steingarten to bimbo actresses and people that have nothing to do with food.  [BTW - despite what I thought -- Jeffrey is married. Now who could put up w/him??]
Perfect - Waxman totally called it and wins - and in (amazingly) the least amount of time. 
Elimination Challenge:
Me love the Pub.  Wait - no ploughmans? That ain't a respectable pub... sorry. 
Moonen - is that a toupee - if so, why does it not cover the bald spot you have? Weird. 
So here's the break down (after Ludo's whining - what a fricking baby):
Bangers n' Mash - Wylie
Steak & Kidney Pie - Graham
Toad in the Hole - Mark Peel (toad, funny)
Fish n' Chips - Moonen (why is it sometimes & and sometimes n')
Shepherd's Pie - Waxman
Irish Stew - Ludo 
Off we go shopping - what's up with the cart elevator - how cool is that (obviously, I live in a backwater). Wylie makes a funny "Do you want me to read the bag for you?" Talk about pissing off a freeench guy. he he. Ludo is a dill weed and has a total potty mouth. Here's simple Waxman again - I'm not going to try and razzle dazzle them - excellent notion since it worked the first time. He's like some sort of zen master...cool.
Ludo wants to put love in his dish - with a mouth like that - um, yeah, not so much.
Peel - never, ever, say you're in good shape - it's the kiss of death. 
COMMERCIAL - Vote on who you'd like to hang out w/in a pub - Wylie, Graham, Ludo - um we'll give that a pass - ick.
Ludo's still whining... jeez frenchy give it a rest.
10 minutes and counting - and um, yep again, Waxman is done - wth? He's a hoot. 
Ludo - do we just love to hate him cause it's so damn easy - he's plate is art - yeah with crap smeared on it. Judging Gael, Gail and Jay - love Jay.
Then it's flatter and puke time - groan. 
Waxman - 18 1/2 has anyone ever had that many points - sweet. Jeez simple food prevails again. Graham called Waxman Chef Obiwan - I think he might be right. Again under time limits too. 
Peel 9 1/2 not surprising. Poor Toad.
Ludo 11 ouch - bye bye - very strange - uncooked potatoes, etc. 
Graham - 13 1/2 and they nag him for not liking kidney - who does? But kidney vinaigrette for steak and kidney pie - um, not so much. 
WD - 14 1/2 v.g. and deservedly so.
Rick - 16 not surprising and I'm glad for him. It seemed like he made good choices and had a good amount of flavor. 

NEXT WEEK: Modern Family - one of my favorite shows. 
Questions: Does it really take a half hour to show the judging? How do you just eat course after course of food? Did Gael really leave a full Guinness? What?