Cooking and Baking

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Hey there, and happy Friday! This early thanks brought to you by sentimental, comfort craving Colleen – because I can eat Thanksgiving all-year-long. Uh-huh. I am the not-at-all ashamed woman wiggling to unstick hot-shorted legs from the naugahyde booth of a chain of comfort food restaurants in high summer. Joyfully proclaiming, “I will have the turkey dinner. Please and thank you.” Only this wasn’t turkey, but chicken. Turkeys are too big and make too many leftovers. For if you know me at all, you also know that I don’t care much for them either, save a few exceptions: lasagna, sesame chicken,  the best sweets. The hubster likes this just fine. Reason No. 1037 our marriage is a match made in H E A V E N. Yes.

And now for the sentimental bits – the napkins are a shade my of my favorite turquoise. The boozy drink is a moscato made absolutely stellar with the addition of Atapino and Wheeler’s Gin, two of Santa Fe Spirits magical infusions of the landscape of my soul. Delicious. Jellied cranberry because childhood and perfect slices. The stuffing serving dish (with snazzy lid that is not pictured) is from my Grandpa, who got it as a prize way back in the 1950s. The little brown jug was my Grandma’s. We used it to pour the gravy with a heavy hand.

And now, for the thanks:

Thankful for my Grandparents, whose treasures litter, in the best possible way, my home. Thankful for how long I had the privilege of knowing my Grandma. Thankful that I know my Grandpa still, that we play, laugh long and hard, and give the best and most tender of hugs. Grateful for my parents. Grateful for their health and caring. Grateful to live in this house in this beautiful city. Grateful for friends near and far. Grateful for the best parts of my family, showing me how to be generous, loving, resilient. Grateful for our favorite four-legger, her joy and tenderness. Grateful for the hubster, his every kindness and sweet love. Grateful for this breath and the one after that. Always.

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Happy Cyber Monday, peeps! Say hello to my annual Thanksgiving pecan pie, perhaps the most handsome I’ve ever made, and just as tasty, too. That’s me getting ready to push it (in what look like ginormous Doc Martens – I swear I’m a 6.5!) and our other food and beverage contributions down through Brighton Heights in our wacky wagon, so called because one of the wheels requires an occasional swift kick to remain on the straight and narrow. To those observers who may have thought we were treating a swaddled baby unkindly, you’ve been informed. Kristen, our great friend and hostess extraordinaire, mixes her don’t ask don’t tell gravy, which, along with everything else, was delicious and soul-filling. In true Thanksgiving form, I ate too much and lamented the fact that my waistband was not elasticized. Maybe next year…

Friday morning

broccoli and zucchini roasted with smoked paprika and sea salt

spinach salad topped with my favorite egg, caramelized apple, and fennel

The last of the fallen leaves on our front steps.

Under beautiful skies, the wing beats of a murder of crows, and a mere twenty-four hours after Thanksgiving, we feasted, yet again, at The Penn Brewery. The pretzels and cheese were the mere tip of the German-leaning culinary iceberg…mmmm.

Oh, and in true cyber Monday fashion, the kindly folks at Block Island Organics are having a crazy good sale. Get 30% off your entire purchase through tomorrow by entering the code THANKS30.

Heck ya! A real hodge podge today, huh? Have a great week…

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And the hills are kitted out in their beautiful best.  The mood changes with the whim of the wind and scudding clouds, leaving me to shiver or coo, hood up or eyes squinting at the the warmth of the sun. How lucky I am to be wandering this neck of the woods, to traipse loudly through ankle deep leaves, to hear the squawk and chirp and cry of every manner of bird, greeting me from on high, to know a bit more of the world.

And with fall comes the shift from the snap and crunch of giant summer salads to roasted vegetables and hearty soups, the house warmly scented. I am jiving on this combination, as of late: a winter squash and red grapes, dotted with butter and flaked sea salt. On days that I remember, I toss in rosemary from the garden for the last few minutes, and everything is elevated. Mmmm, yes!

How about that smile! Last Sunday’s walking adventure to St. George’s Ukrainian Church in Brighton Heights for their Ethnic Food Festival. We devoured more hearty fall fare, Stroganoff, buttery rolls, borscht (for the hubster, I don’t do beets), mushroom barley soup, pierogies, and sausage with the best cabbage I’ve ever tasted.

The scrape of metal chairs on linoleum and a wall lined with crooked pictures of Jesus and the saints sent me straight back to childhood and the countless hours spent at Our Lady of Grace. The church where my dad was an Altar Boy, and I earned my First Communion. The church where Father Moynihan taught me, with a wink and a smile, how to shake hands properly. The church where I saw my Grandma Frances in her Sunday best, gloved hands, lipstick, and the scent of Aqua Net. Oh, nostalgia, how you blur the tedium and frustration and shine a light on all that is fine.

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You know how sometimes you procrastinate by doing other things? This is that post.

I really ought to be gathering my thoughts on a story that’s been furiously bubbling, one that a friend is reading for feedback SOON, but goll-ee, that is one heck of a pile of laundry, dirty table, and messy closet.

Then, wowie, that Jerry Seinfeld and his Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee is one of the best things ever, cars! I really do need to watch all of the episodes twice, and then those with Ricky Gervais and Joel Hodgson three times; because it is hilarious to see caustic Ricky in terror and calling Jerry a young king (say what you will about Hitler…), and Joel is not only smart and funny, but reminds me of my friend Michael (Hey, miccha!), whom I miss.

I tried these sunglasses (Fendi FS5101L) as a joke and loved them. I also love turquoise. Watch out, Iris Apfel!

I really like the composition of this photo, despite my cave woman feet. They keep getting w i d e r . . .

Golden raisin and fennel seed scones. I love this combination, which is pretty European, I think, because most people look at me like I am nuts when I mention it. I AM nuts, but this is different.

Soak a lot of raisins (1/3 cup?) and seeds (two tablespoons?) in a few tablespoons of bourbon for a bit before folding them into your favorite recipe. They do not taste boozy, which may or may not be a problem. The hubster had this reaction:

“I’m making scones.”

Wide eyed, “Awesome!”

“With golden raisins and fennel seeds soaked in bourbon.”

“Oh, well, I guess that might be okay.”

Flash forward thirty minutes and he’d turned into Homer Simpson, “Nom, nom, nom!” You might be surprised, too.

When I am grumpy or sad, this is some of the best medicine around, my avian friends bathing and chirping and gobbling food at the feeder or from the sunflowers giving their last gasps, near-empty seed heads like flotsam on the ground.

Oh, and thinking about hockey. We just bought tickets to a game. Go Hawks!

My friend Susan and I went shopping the other day, and besides the pleasure of her lovely company, we found this bit of awesome on the back of a jumpsuit, maybe like Elvis in training.

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My uncle paid us a visit this weekend, one of those run and dash and laugh and talk all over the town kind of trips, summer idealized. The light was like a fil-um with three lovely stars. It was hot and blue, and we couldn’t stop smiling. We took in the sights and a beautiful car. We ate at new-to-us places and visited old ones with very new eyes. I baked a lemon slice pie, and it smiled at me, grateful to be part of something so magical, three days that were beyond grand.

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