Monday, March 29, 2010

Back To Real Life (and a recipe)

This morning is the end of our vacation. By noon we’ll be back to our work-week schedule. As much as I love living unstructured days, I also need routine; it’s the way I’m wired. I function best with a starting point and a plan, but it’s really nice to step back from that once in a while and see what happens.

It was a great vacation. We spent a couple days in Monterey, walking through Cannery Row, visiting the Aquarium (so worth the cost of admission), having early morning coffee in Carmel, and wandering through the Carmel Mission. The weather was a little chilly in the mornings and evenings, but mid-day was glorious. Not bad for March.

We brought home swordfish from the Monterey wharf and artichokes from Castroville. They made a meal I’ll remember for a long time. Delicious. I also picked up a bag of baby artichokes to marinate. I’ll find out in a day or so if they’re delicious too.
Here’s the recipe:

3 quarts water
2 cups white vinegar
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon salt
24 baby artichokes, trimmed to edible stage – keep whole

(This recipe didn’t make enough marinade, so I had to make several batches.)
1 cup wine vinegar (I used red and white.)
1 cup vegetable oil (I used olive oil.)
½ tsp. garlic powder
3 Tbs. minced parsley

Bring water, white vinegar, garlic, and salt to a rolling boil. Stir in artichokes and continue stirring for one minute. Cover and boil 10-15 minutes or until tender. Drain and cool. Cut artichokes into halves or quarters. Snip off any purple leaves.

Mix together wine vinegar, oil, garlic powder, and parsley. Add artichokes. Stir, cover and refrigerate. Will keep several weeks in the refrigerator. Stir occasionally.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Slainte (Cheers)

I’m in a coffee shop right now, taking a break in my work day, enjoying the gift of late winter sunshine. We’ve had an awful lot of Irish weather this year – rain, rain, more rain. Then it rained again. Today people are in flip-flops and tee-shirts, not a jacket or umbrella in sight. Not a bad way to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day. I might have an Irish coffee later, most likely not (it’s bound to give me hot flashes).

Dinner is cooking in the crockpot – corned beef – with cabbage, potatoes, and carrots to be cooked when I get home. It’s a once or twice a year meal, not really traditionally Irish, but close enough. The cabbage and potatoes are traditional of course, but the corned beef doesn’t belong to us. (It has more flavor than the average Irish palate could imagine. And I’m sure someone will find this post and pounce all over me for saying that, but it’s true; I grew up on traditional Irish cooking and it’s booorrring.)

Honestly, the best part of Irish food is the bread and dairy foods. There’s nothing like a good thick slice of Irish bread slathered with butter. I didn’t make soda bread for the holiday, but might get to it this week sometime. Now that I’ve given it a bit of thought I may have to. Or, I might just make some custard. I cheat, of course. I haven’t a clue how to make actual custard, and don’t really care to learn, especially when I like the taste of Bird’s Custard so much.

So raise a glass, a fork or a spoon, and have a happy St. Paddy’s Day.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Breathing In

February is finally over. The shortest month of the year was too busy, packed with deadlines and long days that weren’t quite long enough. Or maybe it was that my energy was running short. In the middle of working extra days and hours I decided to take a short course at the local college and work on my taxes at the same time. Whew.

March is starting at a slower pace and I’m letting myself ease into more gentle projects around the house. Of course, after the craziness of the past six weeks there’s a lot of housework that needs catching up, but no one ever died from needing to dust the baseboards, so I’m not pushing too hard on those things. No, instead, I’m taking time to stare out the windows at trees whipping in the wind and big, fat raindrops splashing on pavement.

That’s what’s calling to me right now, the small moments that are coaxing me back to the present, making me feel the wonder of approaching spring. The air is clean and I’m inhaling huge gulps of it every day.

This time last year I was in over my head with caregiving. This year I’m done with that. There was terrible loss mixed in with the hectic joy of planning my wedding. My emotions swung from fear and stress to hopeful happiness. Today, right now, I’m on a more even keel. It’s a good feeling.

Maybe I’ll even get back to this page more often. I’m not going to make a promise or set a goal; instead I’ll let myself string some words together and see where it leads me.