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Random food shots


Rancho Gordo yellow eye beans - I thought they'd lose their nice markings when cooked

Rancho Gordo yellow eye beans – I thought they’d lose their nice markings when cooked

But, no, not entirely. And they're delicious - I was eating handfuls.

But, no, not entirely. And they’re delicious – I was eating handfuls.

Today I put the yellow eye beans in a casserole with corn salsa and chicken and corn tortillas and cheese. Tomorrow I am going to cook them with kale and olive oil and garlic. I think that’s sleek (kale with black-eyed peas and bulghur), that we used to eat at Mideastern restaurants in Pittsburgh.

Not burnt and burnt

Not burnt and burnt

On Saturday morning, Rach and I were looking at houses on Zillow for too long, and I dry-boiled my stove top espresso pot. I ordered a new one from Amazon, because it still smelled burnt, and it was waiting for me on the front stoop when I went for the paper on Monday morning.

Heart-shaped potato chip I found on Monday night.

Heart-shaped potato chip I found on Monday night.

Cold beet borscht and sungold tomatoes for Monday dinner. Aahhh, summer.

Cold beet borscht and sungold tomatoes for Monday dinner. Aahhh, summer.

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A cultural week

Rach got here on Monday and we had those big salads I was talking about last Sunday, topped with everything in the fridge, plus leftovers. Tabouli, beets, egg, leftover shrimp and steak, red wine vinegar vinaigrette made with scallions, because I had no garlic.

On Tuesday I went to a reception at a library conference and then to the Terrace to meet Rach, who was there for a Scouting with her work colleagues. She’s the co-director of the Internet Scout Project, so “scout” + “outing” = “scouting”. haha. She walked and I biked, and we got home on the late side and hungry, so I made a quick veggie stir fry with ramen noodles – kohlrabi, onion, carrots, broccoli, snap peas, green beans.

On Wednesday for dinner I made myself a beet and egg salad in honor of my mom’s 11th yahrzeit. Last year I had broccoli, and cheese and crackers, with salad on the side, and watched Shoot Me, about Elaine Stritch; the year before, a friend who’s husband had just died suddenly came for dinner, and we had chicken salad and squash casserole, and pie.  Then I made a peach galette, so I could eat a little after my salad supper, and Mark could have some too, when he got back from Chicago. I froze bananas in the morning, so I could whiz them up in the food processor for the just-one-ingredient banana ice cream that’s all over the Internet – I used almond butter and a little almond extract. Mark opted for regular vanilla with his pie. And I finally made the scallion pancakes – I’d had the dough for them in the fridge since the prior weekend. I rolled them out after the pie, while it was baking, and froze them.


On Thursday we went to see Elvis Costello. They played like 2 1/2 hours straight – 31 songs, new, old, covers, acoustic and electric, a few Elvis solo, a few just Elvis & his piano player Steve Nieve. I made southern summer squash casserole, where you steam the squash and mash it with butter and sugar and then mix in diced onions and bake it until it’s a little crusty – it’s delicious. I’ve always used the recipe from a cookbook I have that’s all musician’s recipes, and looks like it’s more common for the casserole to have a cracker crumb topping and cheese – mine has none of that. I thawed the giant ham that’s been in the freezer since December and we had ham sandwiches, too, for a quick dinner before the show.

On Friday, we went to APT for Pride & Prejudice. I got a coupon for cheap tickets for volunteering at the art fair. I had a big lunch, the Southwest pizza special from Sunroom Café (and I didn’t see my old friend Julie back in the kitchen – maybe she’s finally left there) – a thin crust pizza – they were cooking them on the grill – topped with chicken and salsa and avocado and Jack cheese. I brought home half of it, and Mark had that for super. I had some of the peach galette, and finished the banana ice cream. The show was really good – but long. They figured out a way to compress the action by having actors walk across the stage reciting the gossip. Looks like the adaptation for the stage was originally done in Milwaukee, by someone named Joseph Hanreddy, who was the artistic director of the Milwaukee Rep.

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I got two CSA boxes in a row, and then we ate carry out Friday, and at a steak house on Saturday.

Contents of one vegetable bin, in upstairs fridge

Contents on one vegetable bin, in upstairs fridge

Three cucumbers, 4 patty pan, 1 zucchini, a couple of yellow summer squash, a bunch of scallions, one smallish fennel, half a purple onion (its uncut mate not shown), three Walla Walla onions, a small head of butter lettuce, 2 springs of broccoli, half a bunch of parsley, and a kohlrabi. In the red plastic cup at the back is a bunch of big leaf basil – that’s living on the counter because the fridge is too cold, as are the three tomatoes from the Saturday market.

This is not counting the bunch of kale, bowl of sugarsnaps, and the bottle of tomato juice also from this week’s box, or the 5 – 6 carrots in the other vegetable drawer from last week’s West Side farmers’ market.

Nor the giant bag of green beans in the basement fridge.

And, not to mention various bowls & containers, some of which contain “processed” CSA box veggies, like the bowl of tabouli with parsley and cucumbers, and that’s where the other half of the purple onion went; oil & vinegar potato salad; baked beans, mustard greens with peanut sauce; and the bowl of roasted beets.

And actual leftovers – clamshells of red beans and rice, fried shrimp, and jambalaya,  from Friday’s New Orleans Takeout, and a foil pan with leftover steak from Saturday.

There’s also fruit – a pint of raspberries, maybe a little sub par, and a pint of blackberries that are quite nice, and a quart minus about 15 sweet cherries that are delicious.

Visions of making the following out of all this stuff have been dancing and reformulating in my head all weekend:

  • squash gratin with the fennel and the squash and the basil and the tomatoes
  • OR, I just discovered and am quite taken with Julia’s Squash Tian – I could make it from Food52 or my mother’s 1973 copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 2
  • summer squash casserole from this book
  • and of course there’s always zucchini butter to use up all varieties of summer squashes
  • a big stirfry with the sugarsnaps, and the kohlrabi and the kale and and the broccoli
  • quick pickled cucumbers and purple onions
  • mixed berry pie to take to Debbie Cardinal’s pie party, with whatever of the berries we don’t eat for Sunday breakfast, plus some of those blueberries from the freezer
  • or else maybe a savory pie with some of the squashes? and basil, and tomatoes
  • some kind of pilaf with rice cooked in tomato juice, with kale – but maybe I should freeze those before they go bad, because even though it didn’t get as hot as the weather service threatened, it’s still kind of hot for a pilaf
  • wash the lettuce and the parsley eat them as a salad with steak or shrimp on top – Rach comes tomorrow and that’d be a nice Monday night dinner for us girls
  • chilled beet borscht – with some of the scallions, and cucumbers – but I’ll have to buy sour cream
  • scallion pancakes – I already made the dough – but these can be made up and then frozen and fried right before eating
  • green beans cooked with tomato, or bacon … both?!

And, of course, I’m not actually supposed to be thinking about cooking, I’m supposed to be working ….

Postscript – OK I think I figured it out – some of it, anyways. I made the sub par raspberries into raspberry sauce, that we drizzled onto our Sunday breakfast fruit salad. That we ate with eggs and toast and bacon, and the last of the baked beans.

I made ratatouille pie for Debbie’s pie party. I put the one zucchini, and a summer squash, and a patty pan, and the fennel, and the tomatoes and basil, into the ratatouille, and I let it cook down while I got a little work done.

It was a lovely night for a bike ride to the party, which was out at Garner Park – and ca. 50 minutes of riding including some serious hills, meant I could enjoy some of the many varieties of pie.


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It’s that time of year again ….

The deeps of summer, when I just want to hang out on the porch and read and drink iced coffee in shorts and flip flops. Or even – dare I say it – go on vacation, like everyone else.

But instead, I am swamped with work, 28 students in internships to supervise via an online course, and another 26 to be welcomed, and taught, at the new students bootcamp in two weeks, so syllabi to write, course assignments to figure out, and oh yea, lectures and exercises.

Good thing we’re going to TIFF in September this year, and I think we got a really nice place to stay, so I have that to look forward to.

It’d be nice to have more time for cooking summer food, too, except I guess I’d need more eaters, but that’s a slightly different problem.

I got a nice CSA box yesterday, and I just ate a very vegetable-focused lunch – tabouli, made with cucumbers and parsley from last week’s box, eaten scooped up in cucumber “boats” – hunks of seeded cucumbers – and roasted beets, followed by a handful of sugarsnaps from yesterday’s box.

The list of stuff I got yesterday - I was a little disappointed to get the sugarsnaps instead of tomato - but they are sweet as can be

The list of stuff I got yesterday – I was a little disappointed to get the sugarsnaps instead of tomato – but they are sweet as can be

My list is not as pretty as this picture that Food52 posted of someone's box

My list is not as pretty as this picture that Food52 posted of someone’s box – mmmm peaches …

Nor as pretty as this picture my friend Nettie posted of her breakfast this morning, but hey, there's a computer in there so maybe she's working too.

Nor as pretty as this picture my friend Nettie posted of her breakfast this morning, but hey, there’s a computer in there so maybe she’s working too.

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Summer food is here, hooray!

John and Megan are here, so after I got done volunteering at the Art Fair, I came home and made a pork roast on the grill. I rubbed the meat with a paste of rosemary (the last of last year’s from the freezer, because we bought two new rosemary plants to put in a pot on back deck, at the Saturday market) and garlic and pepper and coarse salt. We ate the pork with some nice lettuce that Mark bought, and this oil & vinegar & Old Bay seasoning potato salad, from Gourmet, that I’ve made a bunch of times, and some green beans that I got at the Tuesday market and roasted with shallots yesterday, and one sliced Roma tomato, and a grilled zucchini, chunked up and tossed with oil and oregano, and put on the grill after I took the meat off.

I also tried out Food52’s any fruit upside down cake, with dark sweet cherries, also from the Saturday market. It came out a little dark and scarey looking, but no worse than the blueberry example in the recipe. It overflowed mightily, I knew it was going to – it was one of those things where I knew there was too much batter for the pan, and I should have removed some of it and baked a couple of cupcakes, but the recipe said 9-inch so I just did it. The full length instructions/story say to use a bigger pan for a bigger fruits to avoid overflow, 10- or 12-inch, and the pan in the picture is clearly an extra deep one, but all that extra info is in the extended story part, not the recipe part that I was looking at. The recipe does say to put the cake pan on top of a parchment-lined sheet pan, and good thing I did that – it make cleaning up actually quite easy.


My sweet dark cherry upside down cake

My sweet dark cherry upside down cake

Bowl of plums and plucot slices

Bowl of plums and plucot slices

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Back in Madison, but still California Dreamin’

John sent me this New Yorker cartoon this morning, and it’s pretty much how I feel – I may be back at work but I’m still thinking about California vacation, and the final Dead shows.

Today’s Daily Cartoon by Tom Toro. #TNYcartoons

A photo posted by The New Yorker (@newyorkermag) on

Our last day in Californa, Friday, after our big road trip of Thursday, we decided that what we needed to do was work a little bit and then go out and find a good breakfast. We went to Zazie, in Cole Valley, a newly gentrifying neighborhood next the the Haight. I almost let a snarky Yelp-er put me off the place, but I looked around more, and found out that it’s woman-owned, been there since 1992, and pays a living wage rather than taking tips. The enclosed back patio where they seated us was about the most pleasant place to sit and eat I’d been to in San Francisco, all of which would’ve made it worth it even if the food had only been ok, instead of the delicious that it was. I had skillet eggs – fried eggs on top of a corn cake, with spicy tomato sauce and spinach, and avocado on top of the eggs, all served in a little cast iron pan. And garlicky fried potatoes. And a big pot of tea. They had all kinds of sophisticated-looking brunch drinks, mimosas and Bloody Mary’s and things with grapefruit juice and lavender syrup and champagne, and because it was the Friday of a holiday weekend almost everyone was indulging, but I felt a little over-indulged from Ad Lib the night before so stuck to the tea.

We went back to the hotel, by way of shopping at Britex and See’s Candies, and got packed, and by then it was time to head out for our last California adventure, Opera at the Ballpark. Which was pretty amazing – The Marriage of Figaro, broadcast in high-def on the scoreboard at the ballpark, from the San Francisco opera house. The sound was decent for stadium sound. Instead of suits and dresses and champagne flutes, all these people in jeans & t-shirts eating hot dogs and garlic fries. Plus even though we sat in the bleachers it was a sky box level, so nice bathrooms. 

We traveled all day the 4th, so sort of missed any festivities, and fireworks.

Sunday morning we had an omelet with zucchini butter and spicy tomato sauce (made from my last two cartons of frozen diced tomatoes from last summer)  and the ends of whole wheat bread and bacon. And fruit –  strawberries and cherries and banana that I biked over to Whole Foods for. Then Mark went back to Chicago and I worked.

To make up, I ordered the last Grateful Dead show ever, on pay per view, on Sunday evening. So I got to see a few fireworks that way. I have all three shows in my iTunes now, too. Listening to Bird Song, from the 4th.


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Thursday in CA

We did a big loop, from San Francisco to Point Reyes to Petaluma to Napa, and back again. I got a Hertz rent a car (had a zipcar for going to the Dead on Sunday, but that didn’t seem like the best deal for this trip).

We left San Fran, and crossed the Golden Gate Bridge in the fog – couldn’t see much. We stopped at Muir Woods, and did a short walk to see the giant redwoods.

I liked how they patched the path

I liked how they patched the path

This is probably my best shot, lighting-wise

This is probably my best shot, lighting-wise

The lying on my back shot - only looks good back lit on the phone

The lying on my back shot – only looks good back lit on the phone

Another too-dark one

Another too-dark one

All the parking lots were full so we had to park about 3/4 of a mile away, on side of the road, and I fell on the way back and ripped up my knee. Same knee I also fell on, rushing to meet the kids for dinner at Big Star in Chicago, back in November. I wonder if maybe I tend to fall when I’m low blood sugar – we hadn’t eaten any breakfast, except coffee. I cleaned up my knee with water from Mark’s filter bottle and paper towel, and we headed for Stinson Beach. I had blueberries and bread and peanut butter and jam that I had bought at the urban Target on 4th street on Sunday, to take to the Dead show (Target will be a recurring theme of the day – Mark had paid a visit to the same downtown one first thing in the morning, to try to replace the charging cable for his fitbit that he forgot to bring). I ate a bunch of the blueberries and started feeling revived.

Damaged knee, shown with undamaged for comparison

Damaged knee, shown with undamaged for comparison

We drove past marshy areas and coast to get to the beach. We made sandwiches and we sat in the sand to eat them. We saw a sea gull steal a sleeve of Ritz crackers with just a few left in it, out of a girl who was playing frisbee’s beach bag. As soon as it figured out how to shake the crackers out, six other gulls appeared to help eat them.

Back into the car, and onwards to Point Reyes. We stopped at the visitor center for maps, and then headed for the Point. We went the whole way to the lighthouse. It was a good walk, but foggy again, so couldn’t see much.

We returned to the visitor center, and I plugged in my phone to get back up to 50% battery. We decided that going to Napa by way of Petaluma, instead of Novato, was the better route. John & Al’s dad lives there, but what were the chances we’d see him? (Remember the recurring Target theme) We were hoping for a coffee bar, where we could change clothes and charge phones, and there were like 5 Starbucks plus a couple of local places in Petaluma.

The nice sounding local coffee place was closing at 6:00 and it was already after 5:00 so we opted for the Starbucks on the main drag in Petaluma. We had coffee and got changed & plugged in phones. Getting a car charger at Target seemed like a good idea – and there seemed to be a big one close by. On the 5 minute drive over I idly wondered if it was the one where Jeff worked. We got the charger, no fitbit cables, and headed out. Once we were passing the office for the 2nd time, I thought, “nope, not running into Jeff this trip”, then we did. He had time to talk, so that was nice. It was fun in a Grateful Dead tour-ish way –  on Dead tour, you’d travel far from home and run into people, some you knew from home, some you only saw at shows.

Our big dinner was at a Thomas Keller place, Ad Lib, at the Silverado golf resort in Napa. I was a little put off when I realized it was at a golf resort, but then reasoned that at the Bouchon in Vegas, Keller had made a French bistro with no Vegas tackiness whatsoever, so surely his spot in wine country, even at a golf resort, would be genuine.

And it was – and another slice of California life – the country club set. We had drinks at the bar – sitting under umbrellas outside – Negroni for me that was kind of syrup-y, water for Mark. Then we moved inside for our meal. I had the wedge salad and the “True” Rib Eye of Snake River Farms Beef – because we’d seen so many cows (and grapes) on the hillsides on the drive over – and a big glass of a dark strong red, Hourglass, Meritage, HGII 2012. Mark had the heirloom tomato salad and the porkchop. It was a little too dark, and a little too loud, but the parker house rolls were amazing, and so was the food.

We got a table by the window, but Keller himself was not there our night

We got a table by the window, but Keller himself was not there, making Caesar salad tableside, our night

Part of the reason we wanted the car charger was so that Mark could have the Google maps lady navigate instead of having to rely on (half-drunk, sleepy) me. From there it was just over an hour back to San Francisco, by way of Berkeley and the Bay Bridge this time. In the rain for a good bit of the time. I helped navigate to a gas station – that took a little more human intervention than the Google lady could manage. Parked the car in the ramp for return in the morning, and we were tucked into our bed at the hotel by midnight. Ish.

posted while watching the last Dead show in the world on couch tour, simulcast – I think it’s time for my third beer and dancing, and drums —> space —> some kind of grand finale. More fireworks?

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I’m still in San Francisco, and most of the librarians have gone home

On Tuesday first thing, we moved rooms, a nicer room for the vacation portion of our stay. Although the shower leaks like a sieve.

We took the cable car towards North Beach, so that we could get focaccia for breakfast, and visit City Lights books, and generally be tourists. The focaccia was from this hole in the wall bakery that Jenny recommended, that she said was “scarey good”. Completely accurate. Perfect eaten on a park bench with a bottle of water & iced coffee.

We walked along the Embarcadero, stopped in at the Ferry Building again, but didn’t buy anything. More stuff was open than when we’d been there Monday night, but the farmers market was packing up – it was 2:00.

We went back to the room, rinsed off in the leaky shower, and dressed a little better (purple linen Flax dress seemed appropriate hippie-chic for me) for our early dinner at Chez Panisse Cafe in Berkeley. Mark’s fitbit said we went 10 miles.

Chez Panisse has a no cell phone use at the table policy, so I didn’t take any pictures of the food – although the lady sitting next to us, who was dining alone, was pretty much on her phone the entire time.

We both started with the Chez Panisse salad, the one with the baked goat cheese, then I had the beef and Mark had the chicken. Both entrees came with lots of vegetables – mine had battered and fried spring onions, delicious, but hard to cut, spinach, sugarsnaps, shelly peas – the chicken had beans and kale and okra. We split a peach melba for dessert. Everything was perfect except the hard to cut onions, and the water that we were served was tepid – served in lovely etched glasses, from a pretty bottle, but tepid. Bothered Mark more than me.

We went to see Me and Earl and the Dying Girl at a nice old theater, the California. It was nice to settle in after a big dinner, knowing my $4 BART ticket back was safe in my pocket to get me home.

On Wednesday, we had a breakfast meeting with another librarian, the woman who is taking on chairing the LITA Program Planning Committee after I cycle off. Her hotel is close to ours, and there’re a bunch of diners around here, so we got breakfast at one of them. Good, but nothing really special.

Then we figured the buses and light rail and took a bus to Golden Gate Park to see the JMW Turner show at the De Young Museum.


After Turner, we stood in front of the David Hockney Yorkshire countryside video piece through its whole 12 minute cycle. Then we ate pastries in the museum cafe, and walked around in Golden Gate Park, and saw birds and turtles and plants. We took the light rail back – it smelled better than the bus.

We had Henry’s Hunan, the one on Sansome, for dinner – onion cake, dumplings, dry-cooked green beans, and Hunan shrimp. Then we walked home through China town.

I think Thursday – our big road adventure – and Friday – are going to have to get their own posts.

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I’m in San Francisco, with the librarians

Saturday through Monday – coffee, a few breakfasts, gay pride and the Dead. And corn salad for Monday dinner, with grilled oysters and clam chowder (not shown).


Friday lunch: BLT with zataar fried egg at SOMAeats, a sandwich shop Mark found. I went back on Monday and split a salad with Rach.


Coffee at Sightglass, on Saturday afternoon, in between conference & our big dinner out with Rach & Iain and Joe & Terry, no pics of that meal, though


Breakfast from Starbucks on Sunday morning


All that a short person like me could see of Gay Pride Parade - a few flags over people's heads


Bacon-wrapped hotdogs with roasted jalapenos


Entering Levi Stadium


Stage by day


Watching Phil projected on the scoreboard


Bob with images of some of the decorated ticket order envelopes - I tried to get more but the psychedelic stuff kept getting in the way


California, U.S., and Pride flags


Kris and me - my perfect "date" for the concert, match-maked by Nettie


stage as it got darker


stage at halftime


Another Phil scoreboard


Light show in full dark


Light show reflected on the windows of the luxury boxes


Monday breakfast at Boulangerie - their pastries served at Starbucks are awful - shrinkwrapped and shipped cross country - but the cafe was very nice. Vanilla seed specks in that apricot jam, and a whole wheat croissant. Soup bowl of coffee.


Monday dinner at Hog Island Oyster Company. We shared grilled oysters and clam chowder after our salads.

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All is not lost – I hope

I’m in San Francisco for the librarians’ conference.

Because we were flying out of Midway, on separate flights, because UW-Madison’s and the ALA’s Concur systems wouldn’t let Mark & I book together, I went as far as Chicago on Wednesday. We went out for burgers with John, and as I was getting on the L to go home, we got a text from Emma that Al had left his iPhone in a cab. Sent him the info for our joint account, for getting a new phone; exhorted him to do Find my iPhone and turn it off. Worried about how exposed my data might be, from his phone …. And there was a happy ending: Al’s good fortune was that his phone was found by an Australian tourist, who started calling his favorites and got Emma. Al had the phone back by after work on Thursday.


Mark had a direct flight to San Francisco on Southwest. I had a stop on Minneapolis on Delta. Delta kindly turned my 3-hour layover (lay away, as Al used to call it) into a 4-hour one, and then it stretched to almost 5-hours – first we were leaving at 5:45, then 6:36, then 6:54. I decided I might as well buy a $50 day pass for the Delta Sky Club – by the time I bought wifi and food in the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, it probably would’ve been $30, anyhow. I got a bunch of grading done in my online course, and rewarded myself with a glass of wine and a cookie.


Finally made it to San Fran, and had a pleasant – but expensive – cab ride in from the airport. I had a Greek taxi driver, and after I had told him I was here for the librarian’s conference, he asked how hard it would be to start a book club – for Greek books. What he really wants is a book exchange, so I told him about the Little Free Libraries. We talked about what a big weekend it was for San Francisco, Gay Pride, baseball, 30,000 librarians, Grateful Dead. He had come to the US in 1963, and said he guessed it was the hippie days here back then, but he kind of liked it better than today. “People talked to each other, and not their phones”. I didn’t mention that I was supposed to go to one of the Dead shows, but as we were driving I was thinking I’ll be able to do this – navigate my way in a zipcar to Levi Stadium.

It was still dark on Friday morning and I was lying in our hotel bed when I realized that I’d left the dead tickets and my parking pass on the shelf at home.

I cursed for awhile, looked up FedEx rates and services on my phone, and then texted the neighbor who is feeding the cats to see if she could FedEx the tickets to my hotel.

She texted right back, went to our house, called, and I talked her through where the tickets were. By the time Mark had left for conference – he’s going earlier than I have to, to set stuff up – she had texted back that the tickets should be at my hotel by noon tomorrow, $59. Cheaper than the cab ride from the airport.


Let’s hope this one is a happy ending, too. I keep comparing this to our last TIFF trip when I forgot my passport, and had to get it sent. That was a real shitshow to get to me – but it was international, and we were staying at an AirBNB without a hotel front desk to receive the package, like I have now. We’ll see.

Whoo hoo – I’m going – maybe by myself, but I’m going!

FedEx-ed dead tickets

FedEx-ed dead tickets

Thanks God for helpful neighbors, and FedEx. Maybe it all makes sense, since one of my last remaining Dead shirts is a black sweatshirt that on one side has an old FedEx logo, but it says DeadEx, and on the back it says, “when you absolutely positively have to be there every night”. I wear it for cookie baking during cookie season. Not finding any images of it on the Internetz; I’ll have to take one myself later.

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