Thursday, November 30, 2006

Been Gone, But I Haven't Forgotten.

I need to put up Saturday and Sunday of our Minnesota trip on the blog. I've decided to put those up on the Family Blog--you know the address--check it Friday--as I'm trying to figure out just what I want to do with this blog.

The first few days, it's a kick to have web-publishing capabilities, but then real life kicks back in and it's hard to stay the course. Add in grading, teaching obligations (they Expect Me to Do Something at the front of the classroom), and a general feeling of exhaustion and it's tough to do more than the minimum.

Before Thanksgiving, I was pretty much burned out and at the end of the rope. But that night, after fourty-five minutes in traffic there was a ferris wheel set up in the parking lot across from the Post Office on Chicago Ave. I pulled over, watched it for a while, and thought, okay. Life's not so bad if there's ferris wheels waiting for you.

I felt I should head to Urgent Care. Oh! the doctor said as he looked in my throat, Oh! Oh! as he checked my ears and promptly wrote me out a slip so I could contribute to Big Pharma's coffers. <cough, cough>

Tonight we went to the Senior Center to get the flu shots. In one room the Seniors were all in their Christmas party clothes shuffling under a spinning mirrored ball while the singer on the stereo crooned away. In another room, a group was quietly sitting, led in meditation by a saffron-robed monk. Both groups were looking festive. And in the last room, a crew of Nurses-In-Training were waiting by their supply of little round bandages and boxes of syringes. "We get our clinic hours this way" the young girl said. I winced as she jabbed.

We stopped by Target on the way home and now the Christmas tree's up in the living room, awaiting some Christmas Magic.

P.S. on the Mushroom Bread Pudding. Eat it the same day you bake it. Mom gave me a new cranberry sauce recipe. Best One Yet.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Saturday's Post: All Things Obelisk

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Unlike the early Pilgrims, I'll be in my nice warm SoCal kitchen making up a new recipe or two. I have this luxury to experiment, because Barbara's feting us with a traditional feast on Friday, as we are heading to Kingman for a couple of days. We'll be back Saturday.

Here's one I'm trying. It sounds interesting.

Wild Mushroom Bread Pudding
Total time: 1 hour, 40 minutes • Servings: 8
From Christian Shaffer.

2 1/2 cups whipping cream
5 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
1 1/4 pound mixed fresh mushrooms (cremini, portobello, shiitake, button, etc.) wiped clean, stems removed from portobellos and shiitakes, gills removed from large portobellos
4 cloves garlic, rough-chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup grated Swiss Gruyère cheese
3 3/4 cups stale bread such as ciabatta, crusts left on, cubed
3/4 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
3 tablespoons truffle butter, or salted butter

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together the cream, eggs, 1 teaspoon salt and one-half teaspoon black pepper and set aside.

2. Roast the mushrooms with one-half teaspoon salt, one-fourth teaspoon pepper, the garlic and olive oil until they are tender and have released their water (25 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the mushrooms). Cool, then slice the mushrooms.

3. Place the mushroom mixture, cheese, bread and thyme into a large mixing bowl. Add the egg mixture and incorporate.

4. Transfer the mixture into a 13-by-9-inch baking dish and let stand 15 minutes, pressing down with a wooden spoon occasionally so the bread is submerged. Dot with truffle butter or salted butter and bake for about 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Spiced Cider Drink that 's not a Rip-off
(Or how to not spend $2.55 (!) at your local nationwide coffee-house)

From Trader Joe's, pick up some spiced apple cider. (If you don't have Trader Joe's, substitute, or add a sprinkle of cinnamon and a titch of ground cloves to your apple cider.) Buy some good whippped cream in a can, and for the caramel, Mrs. Richardson's Butterscotch-Caramel sauce, in the ice cream section. It also helps to have some lovely flowers in the background, courtesey of my husband.

Pour about this much into your mug. Heat in the microwave.

Squirt. (Hold can straight up, for you neophytes.)

Drizzle the caramel over the whipped cream. I heated the sauce as well--better drizzle action that way. (Tip: more caramel is not better. Just more.)


Serve with Mom's cranberry bread, and those nice flowers.
Congratulations. You just saved yourself $2.55 and a lot of guilt.
Saturday's Post: All Things Minnesota

Slot Window
Minneapolis, 2006

Light, Guthrie Theater
Minneapolis, 2006

Orange with Yellow
Minneapolis, 2006

Food for Thought
Minneapolis, 2006

Minneapolis 2006

Minnepolis 2006

Glance into the Future

Bright Light

Megan, Gazing


Friday in Minnesota

Snow! and the girls charged outside (after laboriously layering on clothing) to touch the white stuff. Megan's not so thrilled.

But Emilee knows you have to clear off the slide before you can go down.

Matthew and I head to downtown Minneapolis to see the newly renovated Guthrie Theater. The architect, a Frenchman, wanted to raise the theater up a floor in order to take in views of the Mississippi river just outside its door. To convince the theater director, the architect took him up in a cherry picker while singing Old Man River. He won.

The front entrance. From the the front lobby you ascend a gi-normous escalator to transport you up to the 4th floor. This photo is looking down the moving steps to the sunlit ground floor.

One of the unusual features of the Guthrie is the catilevered catwalk out the back, where you can view the Mississippi. On the way to the end, slot windows with reflective metallic awnings create a modernistic view of the road below.

The catwalk. You exit through cobalt blue glass doors (on a cobalt blue glass wall, visible in the background in the picture of MJA above) to a small stepped patio. On a summer's day it would be perfect for sipping your soda during intermission. Today it was rather brisk.

Matthew and I are fooling around with our reflections on that glass wall. The blue band across my shoulders is the windows on the other side of the building, visible through our glass wall. Note the Pillsbury flour sign behind him. Minneapolis was once nicknamed Mill Town. The availability of grain, coupled with the churning Mississippi powered several flour mills.

The Gold Medal building is beside the Guthrie. Many of the more interesting old buildings have been turned into condos, including the North Star Blanket building behind Matthew.

Now off to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA), where they have many interesting things. Although the collection isn't very deep, it is varied, including this beautiful ornate piano.

And this wooden angel.

The Tatra car is on the T-shirts in the gift shop and rightfully so. It's beyond cool, and has what Matthew called suicide doors on the back (they open toward the front). I guess it's because if you open them while the car is moving, you're a goner.

Matthew identified the Warhol in the rotunda. The Chairman Mao series is on the right side.

After a quiet afternoon, back out in the nippy weather to the Minnesota Children's Museum, where Megan found the water play. Her mother's tying an apron on her, but she has her eye on the blowing hand dryer. So fun to push the button and have hot air come out.

This section demonstrates pipes and plumbing and how you can change where the ping-pong balls appear by turning levers. Emilee just wants to corner the market on the balls.

But her father and grandfather and another Dad are more interested in how to force the water up and over the tallest pipe. They were continually thwarted by busy little hands, but eventually they prevailed and the balls floated up to the top and over. (Hey Kim, I know a terrific Christmas present you can get for Matthew. . .) Reminded me of the summer the children built the marble raceway out of suspended paper tubes on the back porch in Texas.

We then hopped a bus where Emilee drove us to the grocery store. Or pretended to.

Kim had wisely picked a time when the crowds were lower. Once we got the fourth graders out of the World Market, Megan and Emilee went shopping.

Outside the market, Matthew tried on some fireman boots on Megan. We decided you wouldn't need a baby tether if you outfitted your child in these. She couldn't move very fast, but did do a little shopping. Slowly.

Kim and Emilee and Megan made an appearance on TV in the broadcast exhibit.

Floating fish in the atrium. . .

. . . where Kim wowed them with her hula-hoop skills.

Interesting signs everywhere. A sample.

Final stop: Dinner with the Threshers, where Megan stirred up some scrambled eggs for them. We finished the day with Dinner with the Children at Chipotle's (eat fast!!) , and a quiet evening.