Saturday, May 23, 2009

JoJo's Taco Bravo

(This is not a summertime recipe nor is it one I typically would enjoy: it involves lots of opening up cans and a fair amount of mayonnaise. But it's been noodling around in my head for a few months now and I wanted to nail it, write it up and put it away for the summer. I watched Paula Deen one Saturday morning when it was still very cold and snowy out and got the idea for this chili. Took me awhile to get all the pieces in the right order but served it recently at the Dancing With the Stars Finale to rave reviews. It's actually uber easy.)

1 bunch green onions, sliced
1 recipe ranch dressing using Hidden Valley herb and spice envelope, fresh buttermilk and mayonnaise
(I actually used two envelopes of herbs and spices, making a potent batch of dressing that I loosen up with more buttermilk and mayo if I end up using it on salad.)

1-1 1/2 pounds lean, lean hamburger

3 T taco seasoning or 1 envelope taco seasoning
1 envelope Hidden Valley ranch dressing mix

1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes with chilies
(Canned tomatoes are not created equal: if you get an elite brand the tomatoes will be seeded. Otherwise, using a run of the mill brand, your chili will have tomato seeds.)

2/3 c dehydrated onions (boorah!)
3 tsp chipotle Tabasco
2 tsp cumin

1 15 oz can pinto beans
1 15 oz can kidney beans

Season hamburger and brown in large dutch oven over medium high heat. Reduce heat and stir in taco seasoning and ranch dressing mix. Add tomatoes and tomato sauce and reserve cans.

Stir in onion, Tabasco and cumin and adjust to taste. Add beans complete with liquid and add two cans of water, using the tomato sauce and diced tomato cans. Cook over low heat until chili absorbs water and has a nice chili consistency.

Ladle into bowls, drizzle with homemade ranch dressing then sprinkle with green onions. Serve with either tortilla chips from the snack aisle or white tortillas, steamed. Bravo, bravo, bravo.

The 'Kan EWA

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Took a quiz over there on Facebook, 'How Idaho Are You?' Turns out I am 100% tater. That damned Facebook is amazing. And in a moment of weakness yesterday, I gave my Facebook address to that one bossy high school friend who just won't give up on me. Pretty soon now, they'll all be coming over to Facebook.

My fear is loss of intimacy. I dread running into the gas station or being at a benefit in Coeur d'Alene and seeing classmates from a long time ago and having to explain just what the deal is with paparazzi. Why am I plagued with the paparazzi? There's paparazzi in The 'Kan EWA? How do you explain a running gag among friends whose friendships were built in a large part on on subtlety, reading signals, and not ever having to be accountable for your thoughts, only having to be able to articulate them? I don't ever have to explain on Facebook or on Notes From The Kan; I can just be there and peck in all out, check the spelling, thump the syntax and keep moving.

Or not. Or not....

The 'Kan EWA

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Today it is cold and gray. We are looking at pictures. I loved these.

Takes Time to Heal

The 'Kan EWA

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Well, things are in an uproar around here this morning as The Chows got word last night that Copper River Salmon has arrived in Seattle. Holy Month or Salmon Ramadan has begun. God bless us and bless us and bless us.

I should have known something was up when I glanced outside this morning and saw Cleo backflipping up and down the pool deck; you ever seen a Chow Chow make breakdance moves? They do, for Copper River salmon. Sylvie Ruth was on the phone to all her friends belly laughing, and Red Dorothy just kept making those gritty, growly oouww sounds like soul singers make when they're driving their point home as she strutted around and around the patio with stiff legs and a bobbing neck. P33t just started sniffing hard and biting his lip a little bit and every time anybody got close to him, he'd crack a little smile, toss his head and say I'm bad. I'm bad. The Chows go ca-razy over Copper River salmon.

The red fish that is like red cake, red food for the gods, the Red Eucharist, brings out only the best in everyone, a sort of Great Pacific Northwest Springtime Aphrodisiac. I personally believe it's the final confirmation that the long dark days of winter are finally gone. You don't really get spring until the Copper River is runnin'. Oh, sure it's the Milk Moon now, the second full moon after the spring equinox. And yes, Easter's come and gone. Bloomsday is over. Mother's Day is history again. Heck, Ben's another year older and another class graduates, even. But for reals, spring does not come around here until you put that first forkful of Copper River salmon into your mouth. Mother Earth's Milk on tines.

So here's how we're going to kick off Holy Month at Bellemaison. We particularly like this version of salmon because the dijon snaps us to attention. We like that. And we can use our newly sprouted herbs from out back in the garden, just now back from the darkness of winter.

Dijon Salmon
from Nordstrom 'Flavors'

4 green onions, minced
1/4 cup firmly packed chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup firmly packed chopped fresh basil
1 T firmly packed chopped fresh oregano
1 T firmly packed chopped fresh thyme
3 large cloves garlic minced
1/3 cup EVOO

6-6oz skinless Copper River salmon fillets
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 T Dijon mustard

Preheat over to 450 degrees F. Line a jelly roll pan with parchment paper.

Using a small bowl, stir together all the herbs and drizzle in EVOO. Set aside.

Season the salmon on both sides; place salmon on pan. Using the back of a spoon, evenly spread 1 teaspoon of mustard over each fillet. Using a rubber spatula, evenly spread about 2 T of the herb crust over the mustard coating each piece of fish.

Roast in hot oven until the salmon is barely opaque when flaked with the tip of a knife, about 10 minutes. Just don't even think of overbaking.

Using a thin, flexible metal spatula, gently transfer salmon to warmed dinner plates. Criss cross with asparagus that you have grilled over charcoal, using EVOO, kosher salt and good black pepper, over the top. If you are at the absolute top of your game today, you'll have a succulent warm rhubarb pie with cinnamon cream waiting for dessert. Aphrodisia; real-time, live aphrodisia.

If His Holiness Benedict knew of Copper River salmon, surely He Himself and President Obama would come to The 'Kan EWA today to sort out and discuss their differences, each listening and joining in respectful communion as the garden choir sang around them. The sights and sounds of springtime and the taste of the dialogue, like the salmon, would be savory, eternal and would smell deeply of our ancient woods and waters that cause our souls to spontaneously sing-- so hard, so loud-- every year at this time.

To Spring!

The 'Kan EWA

Saturday, May 16, 2009

It is a spectacular day here in The 'Kan EWA and one of the reasons we cheerfully suffer long winters, bad roads, cheezy politicians and no BevMos. We're waiting for spring. And we know summer will follow. I am positive that Homer himself wrote another epic poem about the time when the lilacs blooms here in The 'Kan and it's laying in some museum in Iraq, waiting to be completely translated. Because no less than Homer would do to describe a day such as today.

The Chow Nation has been quite busy with the winter clean up. I figure when we're all done, we'll have pulled out 100 dead roses. Never have I had a winter where I lost one-fourth of anything, let alone my roses, which I pretty much value over anything else in my life. (sshhhhh.)(The problem with the roses has always been that I can't winter them in the safety deposit box.) The rhododendrons looks just fine; the hydrangii sleep still but they will rise and burst forth with blossom as per their commitment. I know them and they are just dogging it. (ouch. pardon the expression.) It's the roses who have checked out of Bellemaison.

And I say fine. Anybody who doesn't want to be here with me and the Chows has my blessing to hit the road and walk. Today, we will have the supero-exquizitee basil, feta and fresh tomato on white french bread with garlic red wine vinegar dressing luncheon sitting in the woods behind the pool. We will wash down this ambrosia with iced tea, double lemon!, and wonder just what the hell people who don't eat feta cheese do about life, anyway. How do people live a life without feta?

And we will regale and rejoice in our positions of being Head Gardeners in the most beautiful garden on earth and about being together. We will throw the ball, play with the stick and then take another little walk around.

And say a prayer. We will say a prayer.

The 'Kan EWA

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Soooooooo. As it turns out, seems that my big son Ben and The Fool apparently know me pretty good because when I do get the tattoo, it will not be on my wrist or my ankle or anywhere you can see it. But that's all I'm saying. If you want further details, you'll have to talk to them. 'Cause I'm not telling.

Back to the sky diving, yes, you go tandem tethered to a highly competent instructor. Highly competent. Mine was funny and fun and a gave me a big hug when I went to shake his hand at the end. Story of my life, I'm telling you. And I do hope Zoe comes over and debriefs me thoroughly. Now that it's way over, I am ready to talk all about it.

Melody, I have been on seven hot air balloon rides. Loved everyone of them. One I loved the best was Turkey; Cappadocia. But that's a no brainer. But they make Zen gardens in the fallow fields; can you imagine? And yes, skydiving was a Mother's Day present from my big son. Know why he's my big son? Because he's s 6'4". And you thought I meant big like phat. By the way, he will tell you he's big and phat, but do not believe him. I am the authority on that. And I, am not talking.

As for the pictures of these tats, I think that's what you are talking about, tattoos, you can show me yours but I ... will not show you mine. Mel, I think the musical note is a lovely idea. Peed, you better believe I did it. And Carla, yes. There are so many things in life that everyone, everyone, should do at least once.

Like be a Motorcycle Mama.

The 'Kan EWA

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I went sky diving yesterday. It's something I've wanted to do for several years. Even at that, Ben had to hold my hand tight and lead me into it; as with many things, the scariest part was the preparation and lead up. But after all was said and done, I stepped into the doorway, made my hands into a fist and held my arms under my chin and leaned, then fell, into the wind, knees first.

I froze and kept my arms clutched to myself, not extending them as I had practiced, so my instructor had to reposition me for the half-fetal position but in a second, or 20 seconds? time ceases to execute itself in the vacuum of the wind, I reached out for the air just like I was supposed to and was course-corrected and flying toward a distant horizon, hell! freaking Beijing! my legs separated into a V and knees bent, pelvis crunched forward and arms extended into a touchdown signal, hands at eye level and my personal secret for success, elbows held high. Yeah. You gotta keep your elbows high.

It was all over in another second, or another 2 hours, I can't remember which, and as was predicted, I was ready to get up and go again. And again. When you fly above the earth like you have dreamed about doing since you were a little kid, you're not apt to have just one run at it or to say, ok on to the opera in Milan! You want it, you need it, you crave it. Flying. Just like you've always dreamed.

One thing that really surprised me is how soft the air was. I anticipated it being like when you are standing at a stoplight in a really strong wind. It's not like that at all. Rather, the air is soft and slow, almost; highly, highly sensual. And you rue your boots, your gloves, your helmet, your jumpsuit, all your safety stuff! You just want to tumble and roll, bathe in the soft, soft air. You just wanna be barefoot. I had such a strong urge to play in the air! You want to tuck and roll and flip without any limit or penalties like gravity. Unfortunately, they don't let the first timers do that and in fact, you have to be pretty darn good, like instructor certified to get to do that. But omigod, it would be fun. So. Much. Fun.

That big son of mine knows me well, mostly. He said he wasn't sure I would go through with it until about two-thirds of the way through the training video. They moved from the technical/practical aspects of flying, as they call it, into the soft sale and completely unconscious of the transition, I pulled out my handbag and began to take off my jewelry. He laughed to himself as he sat next to me and thought, Game On. He said I had tears in my eyes as we sat on the bench and waited for our turn but bragged about my perfect form in the air, over and over and over again.

Everybody needs to fly once in a while. Everybody needs someone to brag about them, too. My mother never flew and she sure never bragged about me and that effected my emotional and psychological development, and textured my social development. But today, I am quite warm in the memory of me one on one with the pretty blue sky of California on a beautiful spring day; the soft surprise of that some accomplishments can bring; and the surety, the bedrock, hardcore, youcan'ttellmeanything different surety, that you, sorry excuse for a human being such as you are, are loved.

Ben tells me he's quite certain that next, I am going to get a tattoo.

The 'Kan EWA

Monday, May 04, 2009

Well, it's coming up. Mother's Day. The Chows make a big fuss over Sylvie Ruth, being P33t's mother and all, and always express great interest in Sunday brunch and then, nap all day. The children that used to live here never did settle on one Mother's Day tradition but instead, threw change ups every year to throw me off track. Couple years ago, Beni Hana gave me a really nifty thing that looks like a tool you use to break into cars. What you really do with it is slip it in the spine of your open cookbook and it holds the book open while you cook. Super cool! This year, the Christ Child gave me a gorgeous necklace from the spring collection of his employer. FABulous, darling. Angie Mariani has come up with lovely, beautiful things over the years and never fails to surprise me. The year I got TiVo I was blown away. She's tricky, that one.

It occurs to me that the Chows and I have a certain authority in Mother's Days gifts--you folks might want us to share-- so with no further ado, we present

Best of Mother's Day 2009

Breakfast: there are a lot of schools of thought on breakfast. You can go toast, eggs, sausage, muffins, fruit, pancakes, waffles, ickcetra, ickcetra, ickcetra. Let us just say this: less is more. Less is more! Women don't eat like loggers. You want to go with one perfect almond croissant, a big mug of perfectly brewed strong coffee from a French press, and a Bloody Mary in a frosty iced tea glass. That's all you need. It should be served in bed, in a bed with 800 count Egyptian cotton sheets preferably white, of course; on a nice little tray with a single bloom in a non-tippy bud vase, probably crystal. The morning light will throw rainbows through it if you are lucky and a tulip will be just fine as long as you have a nice French dish towel acting as a place mat. The tray also is a perfect place for other Mother's Day offerings. See below.

Jewelry: I personally think a good bracelet makes a wonderful day. You have your choices, of course; Hermes, unbeatable. Good silver bangles, tres chic. A nice 22K gold bracelet of any style is a rock star on Mother's Day. But I have to say my personal favorite for Mother's Day is a tennis bracelet of amethysts. How can you go wrong? Get a tennis bracelet in anything for that matter, have the jeweler wrap it up in that seductive manner only jewelers know, and tuck in into the tray with the almond croissant and the Bloody Mary. You're well on your way to bein' Mama's favorite!

Scarves: Again, one of my personal favorites (and it is all about me, right?) is an Hermes scarf. With me, it's a little harder as I have several hundred of the damn things so you gotta be careful you don't give me one I already have. What you probably want to do is call Hermes in New York and ask for Anita. Tell her you're shopping for JBelle and you need the perfect scarf. She'll understand your dilemma. She'll sigh, think for a moment, and break the silence with an hmmmm; then undoubtedly, she'll murmur the name of the one scarf she bought from the spring collection and tell you she thinks it would suit me, too. It might, it just possibly might. But believe me, when the box from HOP hits my front porch, I am guaranteed to jump into your arms, no matter what scarf the postman brings. Hermes: no flipping brainer.

China/Silver/Crystal: It's hard to beat a nice heart-shaped piece of Wedgewood or Waterford. Or a heart-shaped piece of Pomona Portmerion with those darling apples on it. Silver anything, particularly vintage in Gorham Buttercup, is a homerun. This option is sooooo easy!

Flowers: Saved the best for last. Mother's Day is the unofficial start of the spring flower planting season. You want to go with that theme instead of cut flowers in a vase. What you want is a knock-out hanging basket, or a big planted pot or one of those big baskets of annuals that are so cunningly put together. You can't get these things at Lowe's or at Home Depot. Can't even get them at a good florist. Nope. You gotta go to the best, and I am talking the very best, greenhouse in town. They'll have a big selection if you shop early in the week and you'll be able to be discriminating and highly selective. Hands down, a big, wonderful, colorful basket or pot of summer annuals is the very best, I am talking the gold standard here, of Mother's Day gifts. It is my all time first choice and the very favorite of all my memories. It's what I used to give my mom. And these days, it's the one thing I yearn for: to drive up to 10th and Penn with a knot of howling kids and unload a big pot of petunias and vines to my mom's front porch. You never,ever get over your first love.

The 'Kan EWA

Saturday, May 02, 2009

It is a splendid morning here in The 'Kan EWA. The daffodils bloom in big blobs of sun kisses, with the buttercups making a carpet of golden winks along the paths of Bellemaison. The new leaves of the climbing hydrangea rise into the sunshine of the sky, ladders of gold green vines creeping up to the attic windows. The white and pink and lavender blooms of the early alyssums scatter and spill across the rocks and trails of the garden in bucketsful, throwing out the welcome mat after their long absence when they were tucked away in the dark arms of winter.

The Chows patrol, monitor Cliffie's progress, and look for a ball game. I mentally make a note to lay in supplies for Sunday brunch. The birds sing in cacophonous joy and the dew on new leaves twinkles along in accompaniment. I think of the May basket left at my front door yesterday. No matter what the politicians, the media or the scientists of this world have for me, I have my garden and The Chow Nation. And no one, not even them, can take that away.

The 'Kan EWA

Friday, May 01, 2009

The Chows caught up with me this morning to tell me that I really have neglected my blog. They are sad and embarrassed with the paltry offerings here and told me I have to get back in the game right now. Among other things, they tell me that I just have not put nearly enough pictures of them up, let alone any pictures at all. While they certainly were nice about it, they let me know they don't want to have to speak to me again. Lord, my inadequacy knows no ends. Chow pictures. Coming at you. Soon. no, this time I mean it.

The 'Kan EWA