21 May 2011

Liza's Tart Cockaigne

When a child at our house does something they are inordinately proud of, like standing up for the first time or getting into college or drawing a cool picture or attending the world premiere of a new composition, we call the look on their face "prouding girlish." Kind of dumb, but that's the name of that look and there's no changing it.

So here's me, not the best baker in the world, holding a triumph deluxe, the Joy of Cooking's Tart Cockaigne/Meringue Cream Tart. This birthday gem is a cake and a meringue all in one--two layers each of cake and meringue filled and topped with pastry cream, whipped cream and strawberries.

I flavored the pastry and whipped creams with a few drops of Grand Marnier, and also macerated the berries in a few drops of said licquer. This cake is a great blank slate for a lot of cool flavors--I've had it with lemon curd, and had intended to fill it with mangoes for Liza's birthday, but couldn't find any nice ones. Lavender? Violets? Cherries?

And then there's my niece deluxe, Liza, turning twenty. Poet, activist, musician, smarty-pants and totally hilarious with some of the best hair on earth.

30 March 2011

Don't Forget Apple Galette

I don't even remember when I made this, but it was around a year ago, and I just ran into the photo in Andi's facebook photo album. I completely forgot that I was obsessed with Apple Galette for several months, and its rich, crumbly, salty-sweet goodness.

It's a bad time to be posting this, it being spring and not apple season at all, but I knew I would forget later, and you could consider filling it with asparagus or caramelized onions (both?) instead. I would If I were you.

Here's Jacques Pepin's recipe, which is definitely the best, and one of the only recipes I've ever truly followed. (Because when Jacques says jump, you say, "How high?")

Makes 8 servings

1/2 recipe pate brisée (see recipe)
5 large apples
1/4-cup sugar
3 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
4 tablespoons apricot preserves
1 tablespoon Calvados or Cognac (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

1. Make pâte brisée. Roll out the dough 1/8 to 1/16 inch thick, in a shape that fits roughly on a cookie sheet—approximately 16 X 14 inches. (The best cookie sheets are made of heavy aluminum that is not too shiny.) If the dough is not thin enough after you lay it on the cookie sheet, roll it some more, directly on the sheet.

2. Peel and cut the apples in half, core them, and slice each half into 1/4-inch slices. Set aside the large center slices of the same size and chop the end slices coarsely. Sprinkle the chopped apple over the dough.

3. Arrange the large slices on the dough beginning at the outside, approximately 1 1/2 inches from the edge. Stagger and overlap the slices to imitate the petals of a flower. Cover the dough completely with a single layer of apples, except for the border. Place smaller slices in the center to resemble the heart of a flower.

4. Bring up the border of the dough | and fold it over the apples.

5. Sprinkle the apples with the sugar and pieces of butter, and bake in a 400-degree oven for 65 to 75 minutes, until the galette is really well browned and crusty. Do not remove the galette from the oven too soon; it should be very well cooked. It should be very crusty, thin, and soft inside. Do not worry about the discoloration of the apples after you peel and arrange them on the dough. The discoloration will not be apparent after cooking.

6. Slide it onto a board. Dilute the apricot preserves with the alcohol (or use 1 tablespoon of water if the jam is thick and you prefer not to use spirits) and spread it on top of the apples with the back of a spoon. Some can also be spread on the top edge of the crust. Follow the design so that you do not disturb the little pieces of apple.

Serve the galette lukewarm, cut into wedges.

Pate Brisee
Recipe From: Jacques Pepin
“Everyday Cooking”

Makes Enough for 2 Galettes

3 cups all-purpose flour (dip the measuring cup
into the flour, fill it, and level it with your hand)

1 cup (2 sticks) sweet butter, cold, and cut with a knife into thin slices or shavings

1/2 teaspoon salt

Approximately 3/4 cup very cold water

“In a well-made pâte brisée the pieces of butter are visible throughout the dough. If the pieces of butter get completely blended with the flour so that they melt during cooking, the pastry will be tough. The flour and butter must be worked and the water added as fast as possible to obtain a flaky pastry. If you work the dough too much after adding the water, it will be elastic and chewy. If you use too much butter and not enough water, it will resemble sweet pastry dough and will be hard to roll thin and pick up from the table; it will be very brittle before and after cooking, sandy, and with no flakiness.

This is deceptively simple dough. You may get excellent results one time and an ordinary pastry the next. Try it a few times to get a feel for it. Wrapped properly, it can be kept in the refrigerator for 2 or 3 days, or it can be frozen.”

1. Mix the flour, butter, and salt together very lightly, so that the pieces of butter remain visible throughout the flour.

2. Add the ice-cold water and mix very fast with your hand just enough that the dough coheres.

3. Cut the dough in half. The pieces of butter should still be visible. Refrigerate for 1 or 2 hours or use it right away. If you use it right away, the butter will be a bit soft, so you may need a little extra flour in the rolling process to absorb it.

For one galette, roll half the dough between 1/8 and 1/16 of an inch thick, using flour underneath and on top so that it doesn't stick to the table or the rolling pin. When the dough is the desired shape and thickness, roll it onto the rolling pin and unroll it on the pie plate, tart form, or cookie sheet that you plan to use. Repeat with the other half or reserve for later use. Bake according to the instructions for the particular recipe.

27 March 2011

Strawberry Shotcrop

If you know Christian's mom Pat, you'll know she likes word-play a lot in it's many forms. So that's how the dessert known as Strawberry Shortcake came to be called Strawberry Shotcrop at our house.

And here's the story of today's dessert: several weeks ago I started getting obsessed with the pastry chef at Communal, Joseph McCrae's, biscuits. Every time I've made them, they've been pretty damn good, but have fallen short of the tall, fluted rounds he serves at breakfast downtown next to cute little ramekins of soft butter and homemade strawberry preserves. I guess there's a reason some people are pastry chefs while others are mere home cooks. My biscuits are always light, fragrant and tender, but I crave the tall layers of feuilles-like buttery crumbs and the delicate toothsome bite in the real deal. Maybe some time Joseph will invite me over and show me how it's done? Hi, Joseph!

Anyway, this week's discovery involves adding two extra tablespoons of sugar to his recipe, sanding the top of the biscuit with raw sugar, splitting them in half, and then filling them with mounds of strawberries and cream. I made them for my students last week, and Karl said it was the best thing he'd ever tasted. He may have been exaggerating, but not much.

One last note about these biscuits: working with the dough is like holding a pound of freshly bathed baby flesh in your hands. It's almost unbearably fun to touch. You might get addicted.

12 February 2011

my book is writing itself

Sometimes it seems my whole life has been a struggle between two poles:  the North Pole, where I'm dominating space, in charge, on a high, in control, and the South Pole, where I can't even put one foot in front of the other, and all I can think about is how I slipped down past the equator to this gloomy, horrible failed place.

I'm on a quest to be okay with not being in charge, because I'm really not, none of us are really in charge, right?  That's an illusion.  I fall in and out of being at peace with this.  This morning, we chanted sa ni pa ma.  I think that's what the syllables were.  The teacher said it meant birth life death rebirth and then sa nom which she translated as true identity. I hope this year I will know what my vocation is, what my true identity is, what my authentic life is, but if not, that I'll be okay with it.

Look at those children walking up the mountain.  Are they mine?  My body made them, but their spirits proceed ahead of mine, away from mine, and I can't claim them.  There is both comfort and fear in that knowledge.  

When I reclined into savasana, complete surrender the teacher said, I had trouble surrendering. You can't be writing your book right now came into my mind.  Then:  your book is writing itself.  

My book is writing itself.

I closed my eyes and let darkness cover me with it's blanket.  

How will it read?

What will it say?

I'm trying to have patience to discover the answers.

06 February 2011

Small Daily Practice

How did your first month of New Year's Resolutions go?  Mine were spotty, which was expected, and some of them I know will be works-in-progress.  I don't know about you, but I have some resolves that I've made for ten, twenty, thirty years in a row and they're still ongoing.

Here's one I'd love some inspiration for: the small daily artistic practice.  One time, for several months, I read Emily Dickinson every day and made a list of cool words from her poems.  The next day I would write a poem using those words that had been swirling around in my head for twenty-four hours.  The process was fast and I didn't allow myself to edit, scrutinize or critique; many of the poems were not great.  I'm still revising and culling from that manuscript of poems, but it gave me a lot of material and it was very calming to have a discrete task I knew I could finish every day.  And then that practice ran it's course and I couldn't do it any more.  

During another period of time, I submitted poems to two journals a day.  I did get a lot of publications from that period, but got very little writing done.  Although the submission process didn't take long, I only have a sliver of time to write every day, so anything that takes away from actual writing needs to be really important.  The jury is still out on how important publication is to me.  Journal submission is a practice I'll probably revive soon, but I don't want to do it when I'm not writing much because it feels like I'm focusing on a poetry career, which is a ludicrous and disheartening endeavor, rather than focusing on writing poems, which is a ludicrous but heartening endeavor.  

I'd love to hear about people's daily practices.  I feel the need to change mine regularly because I get bored and distracted easily.  I'm still working towards doing those ten sun salutations each day.  What works for you?

So here's how the other resolves went:

1) Be more aware and observant.  Be present with people and don't let what you think should be happening get in the way of what is.  I don't know why this is so hard for me.  I had some great moments during January trying to do this, especially during family dinner time, but overall, my tendency to drift away from the moment prevailed.  Any tricks for this?

2) Go for a walk once a week. Yes, for three of the first five weeks. The most memorable walk was through the marshland by Utah lake with C. and my sister Hilary on a beautiful, sunny, bright white Sunday afternoon.

3) Formally express gratitude once a week. Did this once.

4) Read the New Testament. Sort of started. . . .

5) Finish libretto started in 2010.   Nope.

6) Limit screen time.  Yes!  This has been fantastic, though some screen time has been creeping back in for "homework."  I've been making the rule that the kids can't watch t.v. or play on the computer during the week, and they've been much happier, more imaginative, and much more fun to be around.  I need to deal with the "homework" thing.  Sometimes they do need to do work online for school, and then the creep towards "educational games" sets in, and pretty soon they're playing Webkinz.  Any suggestions?

7) In order to read more family novels. Momo and Cecy and I have almost finished The Tale of Despereaux and are about to start The Magician's Elephant.  Thanks for that suggestion, Mark.  I'll be working through the suggestions that other readers posted as well.

8) Go to Salt Lake once a month. The spirit and the letter of this law has been fulfilled. The letter because we took the kids to Hogle Zoo the last weekend of January.  Hogle Zoo is in Salt Lake. So check off the "Go to SLC" goal. 

It was freezing, so we were mostly in the extremely smelly indoor exhibits, but we saw so many active animals.  It was one of the best zoo days ever in terms of animal sightings, especially the breathtaking tigers.  The spirit of this law, however, was not to go to the zoo with the kids, but to get more challenging and inspiring artistic and cultural experiences in my life, as opposed to weekend after weekend of movies at the multiplex.  On that front, we saw two screenings at the Sundance Film Festival, How to Die in Oregon and Kinyarwanda , and two screenings at International Cinema, Fados and Yi Yi.  I especially loved Fados--the picture at the top of this post is a still from the film. So those film screenings were not actually in Salt Lake, but rather of Salt Lake, so I'm going to count Resolution Number 8 as one of the biggest successes of the year so far.

9) Work on duo with Christian.  He's been mixing and editing our live Sonarchy show and it's sounding really good.  We've been talking about new stuff to do, but talk is cheap.  Need more doing. Fados gave me some ideas.

10) Small daily artistic practice.  See above.

The yogis always say if a pose isn't working, change something small.  I'm going to try to make little adjustments to my life throughout 2011 and see what happens.  

Some of the most profound changes come from the suggestions and examples of the people around me, so in a formal expression of gratitude, thank you people who read this blog and who spend time with me in real life for your excellent spirits, lives, and work.

24 January 2011

Lara's List of Lady Writers

I'm jumping into the list craze here and starting a list of 100 great books by Ladies.  I know, it's possible that I'm only contributing to the ghettoization of Lady Writers, and so I'm interested to know what you all think of the categorization of literature by gender and race.  Segregation or separation?  Necessary or not? 

Since so much was made in 2010 and early 2011 about the paucity of women writers who a) win major prizes, b) get reviewed in major places by major reviewers and get praised and Great Writers and c) get big stories in highbrow magazines, so I thought I'd at least take a stab and encouraging more thought and action in this area.  I do think that lists have their place in consciousness raising and in helping us to examine our assumptions and actions.  I know I get thoughtless and lazy pretty quickly after I resolve to change and be more aware, and I use lists to help me set intentions and to focus my attention on Important Things.  And while many bloggers are discussing this same issue currently, I'd love to hear what the readers and writers I commune with think, and what books they recommend as well.

(Also, in my New Year's spirit of reformation and retrenchment, I'm trying to broaden my reading to include some novels that aren't detective novels, reading I use to soothe myself and relax at the end of the day, lazy reading I've been trapped in since I haven't been writing papers or studying for exams.  I only read Literature lately when I'm teaching it.  Detective novels have their beautiful place in my life.  But I'm trying to Reform a bit, and Improve.  So help.  Please.)

This is an off-the-top-of-my-head stab at ten books that I think are important to read, written by Ladies.  A lot of the texts, but not all, chosen this week explore mother/daughter themes, domesticity, and reproduction, and these themes seem especially prone to being labelled and dismissed as "women's writing".  This list is also comprised of many texts that were on the bandwagon of works that treated these subjects seriously, literarily, and as such, are pretty well known.  

Each week I'd like to look at some different themes/areas of Women's Lit (again, your suggestions are greatly appreciated!) and add ten more titles to the list, using your suggestions.  I think I will do a separate poetry list, unless you have a better idea.

1)  Beloved by Toni Morrison
2)  The Book of Margery Kempe  by Margery Kempe
3)  Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid
4)  To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
5)  The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston
6)  The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
7)  The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook by Gertrude Stein
8)  Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
9)  Wide Saragasso Sea by Jean Rhys
10) Tell Me a Riddle by Tillie Olsen

20 January 2011

Pink Dresses

There is always a day in each season when I think I will never want it to be summer ever again. Ever. And then there is always a polar opposite day when I think Summer is the most glorious season of all, and I can't wait for it to come. It puts me in mind of Left Handed Son of Old Man Hat who tells the story of how, when he was little, he thought summer and winter were locations rather than times--summer was up in the mountains where the sheep grazed when the heat came, and winter was down in the valley where the sheep were moved when the snows came. The Son of Old Man Hat recalled always wishing he was in the winter place when he was in the summer place and the summer place when he was in the winter place.

The day when I hate winter hasn't come yet, however. Today I was still in love with the soul moving crests, shadows, contours, and declivities on Timp when she's covered in snow and tinged with pink from the sunrise, and wrapping a rabbit-fur stole of clouds around her shoulders.

Though I had some tiny stirrings of longing for spring when I looked at spring dresses on the Nordstrom's website (their dress ads always suck me in), and I saw this picture of the girls at Easter in 2003. Just for a minute I thought I wish I was in Arizona sitting on the back porch with my family, smelling orange blossoms.

Then I pulled myself back to the present and realized I am still enjoying my leftover Christmas decorations, hearty stews, and long, cozy nights at home with kids, dinner, homework, and stories.

Today I 'm grateful for enjoyment. A year ago I was depressed, and today, for now, I'm not. How things always, always change!

P.S.--I'm also grateful for a warm home. One time the director of Food and Care Coalition told my students about a client who froze to death in his car outside their facilities one winter night. Please take a minute to vote to give them funding to expand their shelter--see the widget on the right side of my blog.

06 January 2011


I've been explaining these resolutions to myself in my head for several weeks now. I think I have them sort of worked out, even though my very first resolution was against resolve:

1) Be more aware and observant. Be present with people and don't let goals and what you think should be happening get in the way of what is. So all of the things on this list are subject to number one, and I have to be ready and willing to let them go if they interfere with number one. Number one is my guiding principle for 2011. Unless observation tells me to get rid of number one. Or something like that.

2) Go for a walk once a week. This seems modest and attainable, and perhaps shocking to you folks who love the outdoors. Christian has dubbed me the indoors-y type, and he couldn't be more right. I'm so happy in a small, cozy hole, like Mrs. Tittlemouse. But I think I'll be happier if I get more sunlight, look around more.

3) Formally express gratitude once a week.

4) Read the New Testament.

5) Finish the libretto begun in 2010.

6) Limit kids' screen time to weekends only, thereby giving us more time for:

7) Family novel reading. Ingrid jolted me into this one last week when I commented about how much she and Eva used to read and loved to be read to. "Yeah," she said. "No computers." I've become lazy with the kids and don't read to them as much. They get crabby, lazy, and unimaginative when they're online or watching TV too much. Eva and Ingrid didn't have a TV a lot of the time growing up, and I want the younger kids to have the benefit of limited screen time. If you're so inclined, list your favorite read alouds for an almost six and almost eight year-old. I read Harry Potter to E and I at that age. We read Stuart Little and Little House on the Prairie last year.

8) Go to Salt Lake once a month. Now that the kids are a bit older, I need to get out of my rut of a quick dinner or movie in Provo and get back to my earlier, more adventurous ways. We used to go to so many cool events, which was easy to do when we lived in NYC, San Francisco, and Seattle. It's a little harder to do here, but necessary to maintaining a connection with what's going on artistically in the world.

9) Work on duo with Christian. In the picture above, snapped by our friend Hailey Meyer Liechty, we are performing with master percussionist Greg Campbell at our December Salon. A link to our duo can be found on the side of the blog. I really enjoy this work, and want to do it more. It feels like a perfect meshing of our particular skills and relationship. The text, the improv (it's all improvised except for the text), Christian's genius with timbre and form, etc.

10) Work in small, daily practice, like I learned to do in yoga, but with my job/career/art or whatever it is called. I don't even know what it's called or what it is. Be comfortable with that. Let it be what it is and just do little, enjoyable things with little enjoyable challenges. But don't be in charge. Don't try to control. Just live and do. (Please don't mock my mish-mash of eastern philosophy influenced thinking here. It's working for me right now.)

There is almost nothing I love more than hearing other people's New Year's Resolutions. Feel free to post many of them in comments.


Bedraggled Tree 2010

This photo of Eva and Ingrid reminds me, for some reason, of when they were little and they used to play "Lizzie and Jane" from Pride and Prejudice, which used to play constantly in the background of our lives in Seattle.

I can't bring myself to take down the now sagging and brittle lopsided Christmas tree. Is there a way to savor the days more slowly? It is so dark and cold, and we still need the suggestion of warmth from our tree lights--I'm not ready to give it up. In years past, I've been so glad to put away the decorations, so sick of holiday music and rich food and festive gatherings, but this year it seems to have barely happened. Is this what happens when you get older?

Though it passed in a blur, little highlights stand out, like Yorshire pudding, many versions of the Hallelujah chorus, Christian's homemade eggnog, pierogies, paper cranes, onion tart, old friends, cheese platters, and the kids' nativity.

This was a sweet, sweet year. Christian gave me one of the best presents of my life when he compiled all of my emails from the nineties, when he and I shared a University of Washington email account, printed out and bound. I used to write a weekly news update to my family and friends, and so it's somewhat like a journal, and I've made so many little discoveries in there, found so many things that shed light on my life and my children's lives now. I've been reading it like a suspense novel every night. And then Christian went back through old hard drives and printed out all of my poetry since 1985, that's right, 1985, when I wrote my first poem and gave it to Leslie Norris so he could tell me what a genius I was, and organized it alphabetically with different versions, etc. I know this was very time consuming, and I can't say how touched I am by this labor of love.

The day before Christmas, Ingrid rounded up all of the kids and went with her friend photographer Nate Lebaron to Rock Canyon where he took many beautiful photos of the kids, including the one above. How did she know I'd been wanting a group photo of the kids for so long? She framed these photos and had them ready by Christmas morn, although she had just barely arrived home from her first semester at college and was in an extreme state of sleep and food deprivation. Eva made a great collage and framed it--I love her art work so much--and Lula gave me a silvery gray scarf that I wear every day. Last but not least, Moses and Cecily gave me two enormous plastic cocktail rings, one in green and one in blue that they purchased and wrapped without my knowledge at Santa's Secret Workshop at school. They know my taste so well.

27 November 2010

Thanksgiving Feast 2010

This is the beginning--

Lula created beautiful tables:

Kids' Table with Oreo Turkeys that they made:

Tony and Mom:
The Feast laid out:

My Dad always finishes his dinner:

And he's a master carver:

Cecily, Tony, and Jared:

The tastiest nugget at the table, baby Lara Eva with her first sweet potatoes:

Hilary and Alexa:

The Snow boys, Kiwanis football:

Taylor and Ingrid, not on Thanksgiving:

For me, this was a perfect day.

26 November 2010

Thanksgiving Feast Leftovers

My favorite day of the year has come and gone.  

As is my wont, I went nuts over the feast and ended up with way too much food and a blown food budget for the next few weeks, so I sat down this morning and made a plan to use everything up, (and also to keep the feast going for a while longer.) 

The thing I miscalculated the most was the stuffing (I have two gallon-sized Ziploc bags full of leftover stuffing) and so need to be extra creative there.  The stuffing was really, really good this year, I thought, with a delicious sour dough crouton (and expensive, because I used good bread), apples, sausage, and parsnips (yum!).  I also bought a good bottle of ruby port for the cranberry sauce, which was terrific and had the most beautiful color I've ever seen, and a bottle of Grand Marnier,  so I need to get busy with those.  I bought seckel pears, persimmons and pomegranates for garnishes and centerpieces, and the pears and persimmons are at their peak of ripeness and need to be used soon.  And, oh yeah, I bought ingredients to make a clementine/jicama salad with queso fresca and pepitas, but ran out of time/energy.  So that's on the menu for next week.

Finally, since I have such bad camera karma, I had to borrow a photo from Chow, which you should be reading anyway, of what I hope my stuffed acorn squashes will look like.

And any thoughts on interesting things to do with Grand Marnier and pomegranates would be lovely.  I also want to hear about what you all ate yesterday, with recipes!

Leftovers Deluxe:

*Stuffing in Acorn Squash and Mushrooms

*Beef Stew w/Port

*More Cranberry/Fig Sauce in Ruby Port

*Persimmon Pudding

*Something with Grand Marnier (suggestions?)

*Apple/Pear/Cranberry Pie (or Galette if I'm feeling lazy, which I probably will be)

*Chicken Breasts Roasted on Stuffing w/Mornay Sauce

*Something with Pomegranates (suggestions?)

*Jicama/Clementine Salad

21 October 2010


One morning I woke up and felt some cramping, and this was different from any other sensation I'd ever had.  I was going to have my first baby.  We lived on 4th Avenue, right off of Geary in the Inner Richmond neighborhood of San Francisco.  In the mornings fog came off the beach and then burned away.  

During my 38 hour labor, I walked the aisles of the corner grocery store, the beach at Ocean Beach, sat in the tub, and went to the hospital twice before I was finally admitted.  Finally, at 10.30 pm, Eva was born, and we were blessed with the most beautiful baby I could imagine.  Today we've been graced with her presence for 20 years.  

Here's a list of some of my favorite qualities about her:

1) She's gorgeous, as you can see--
2) She has a very, very kind heart
3) She's amazing with children
4) She's brilliant, but completely modest in her brilliance
5) She's curious about everything
6) She has great insight and wisdom
7) She has complete integrity of thought, spirit, and conscience
8) She's hilarious
9) She plays the string bass
10) She's got awesome chops in the kitchen

I'm sad I don't get to see her every day now, but so happy she's out in the world doing her thing, and so grateful she's my daughter.

Happy, happy birthday Eva, dear!

25 September 2010


(This image is from this article on the Provo Farmer's Market)

I've been a little (read: a lot) crazy in the past six months.  Today feels like a coming together--all the kids are settled in school, the house is clean, the laundry caught up, and I'm rested and practiced yoga five times this week, which keeps me so much calmer than I've ever been in my whole life.   In addition to calming me down, yoga is keeping my body free of pain--I can't believe how many years I went waking up every morning with sore hips, back and/or shoulders.  

Lula and I had a little date to the Farmer's Market, where, though I promised myself I would be restrained, I spent my entire food budget for the next few days on produce: the prettiest pair of twin stripy aubergines, a bag of perfect peaches, Jonathan apples, peppers, a big, leafy head of cabbage, some tomatoes and zucchini.  Kindra also gave me some sweet yellow tomatoes from her garden, three acorn squash, cherry tomatoes, and some overgrown summer squash with the tough skin (what to do with those?).  We also admired some beautiful hand-made tin jewelery, soaps, and lotions. 
The new calmer, less busy and anxious me is returning to the kitchen a little bit at a time, and renewing my commitment to local, from scratch family cooking to the best of my budget and ability.  So, here are some things I'll be making this week:

*Roasted Acorn Squash/Carrot Soup
*Zucchini Bread
*Sausage Stuffed Peppers
*Eggplant Lasagne
*French Onion Soup (I have to use up my 50 lb. bag of onions)
*Apple Galette
*Spaghetti w/ Fresh Tomato and Basil Sauce

15 July 2010


Ingrid can even make this monstrous prom dress look good, especially with the addition of vintage silver heels and by calling it her pink mermaid froth gown.

Ingrid at Viewridge Park in Seattle on her 3rd birthday.  Tonight we'll celebrate her 18th in Seattle--she's a Seattle girl at heart.

Right before we left Magnuson beach on Lake Washington last night, right before Ingrid emerged from the water, she lay down on the pebbles right at the shoreline for what she called a "cold stone massage."  Her eyes were closed and the wake was washing over her and she was, as always, reveling in the sensory input from the world.  Though Ingrid rarely gets from point A to point B very quickly,  I imagine that her journey is much more interesting everyone else's.  

Today she's 18.  Though she's been mature and independent for a long time, this milestone feels huge.  I want to mark it with a list of things I adore about her, and a little bragging.

1)  She notices EVERYTHING.  She can quote any line from any movie she's every scene, or describe the corner of a painting she's viewed only once.  I sometimes use her as my own personal google.

2)  She has the most amusing fashion sense.  On bad days when I don't want to get out of bed, I sometimes motivate myself by thinking that I'll get to see Ingy's outfit.  It may include chemistry goggles, wings, or tiger ears, or kitten heels, a bathing cap or a tiara.  You never know.  I love her fashion writing, too, which you can see at her blog Shaggy Jasmine.

3)  She makes me laugh.  Yesterday on the drive from Boise to Seattle she kept throwing out the most hilarious, incisive comments phrased with a poet's ear.  Did you know she raised a significant amount of money to go on school trips by selling custom written limericks outside of the Creamery, and sometimes door to door?

4)  The girl has guts.  As witnessed by this, and her work at Planned Parenthood, for which she has been vilified by some in our very conservative community.  She's not afraid to speak out and up, and she can usually win over her audience (if not to her point of view, at least they always end up loving her despite her point of view.)

5)  She always knows what she wants.  The famous family story goes like this:  Ingrid refused to wear pants or shorts of any kind as a 2-6 year old.  One time my mom was convinced she could get Ingrid to wear a skort, and purchased a cute pink one with little pink rosebuds.  Ingrid took one glance at it, lifted up the front flap revealing the shorts underneath and said, "These are formen."  Not even Grandma Wendy, her match in stubbornness, could prevail.  Ingy knew, when she heard about Bryn Mawr College at 13 years of age while watching Some Like it Hot, that she wanted to go there for school.  Guess where she's headed this August?

I could go on and on about this fascinating, wonderful creature who I'm lucky enough to call my daughter, but it would be in poor taste, so I'll stop.

Let me just say that Ingy makes my days ever so much better.  

02 July 2010


Maybe it's because she tries so hard to make everyone happy

or because she's so full of ideas, energy, and fun, 

but something about this girl makes me want to do anything to please her.

Like throwing her two full birthday parties, including one with thirty tweens. . . 

or creating a recipe for lettuce wraps for her birthday dinner. . .

and most of all, making these (what were supposed to be completely adorable) slightly creepy toadstool cupcakes.  I don't do crafty crafts or foods,

but anything for my girl.

Happy 12th, Lula Marni!

30 June 2010

Discovery & Some Rhetorical Questions

How have I not known about this blog and it's recipe for bacon ice cream?

Or this recipe, from the same blogger's cookbook, for coconut saffron ice cream featured on David Lebovitz's blog?

And, why does D.L.'s blog make me not want to live in Paris?  

And how excited am I to take 7 teenagers to NY on Saturday (my birthday, so they'd better be nice)?

So, that's me up there with my laptop, and here are the things I'm doing with it right now:

1)  Looking up summer recipes--chicken mango slaw, ice creams, bbq sauce, refreshing beverages.
2) Planning NY itinerary--Fela, fireworks, Evensong at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Dumplings, Coney Island, St. Ann's Warehouse, Yoga to the People and much, much more.
3) Teaching 2010 online at Salt Lake Community College.
4)  Summer tutoring for Lula, Cecy and Mo.
5)  Preparing a show in this space with C for Seattle in July.

I'm always on my laptop.  I love my laptop.  It's a problem.

More later.

17 June 2010

the same, and different

So many things are different this year.
So many things are the same.
Last year, I carried around many more pounds.  Last year I worked less.  Last year was better and worse than this year.  This year, the spring is colder.  This year I do more yoga.  Last year I had all my kids home for the summer.  Same with this year, but the kids are different. Last year, I had never published a book.  Last year I wrote many more blog posts than I have this year so far.  

Something about getting older makes me appreciate the cycles more than I used to, the constancy and the change. 

Here's me, pounds lighter, with a published book, reading from it in Amsterdam:
Last year, I cooked more, and I worked less.  This year I'm cooking differently.  Fewer carbs, fewer sugars, more animal, which goes against what I've always believed about eating healthily and ecologically.  Last year I cooked a lot more pasta.  Here's last summer's pasta:

This year, I have all of these same flowers in my garden, but at this same time last year, the lilies had bloomed, and this year, I'm still waiting for them.  This year Eva's flower arrangements sit on top of a white oval Ikea table, and the wallpaper is torn down, but not replaced.

Last year there was no oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico, though our waters were in danger already.

Here are my eco-inspired poems in Poets for Living Waters.

This year I want to think about different and same, not better and worse.  

Here's to peace in accepting the way things are, not the way I wish they would be.  

Happy New Year in June!

30 May 2010

Pomp and Circumstance

So, I graduated from high school yesterday. Woah. 
I was Co-Salutatorian, and I gave a speech. Here she is: 

            “Hope and future are not in lawns and cultivated fields, not in towns and cities, but in the impervious and quaking swamps.” Henry David Thoreau was very much endeared to a specific kind of beauty—he learned from the East Coast, from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s lush property and from Walden Pond. This quote connects deeply to Walden School Philosophy because at Walden we learn truth from the world around us as well as in books and in the classroom. While Thoreau spent time discovering himself by the famous Walden Pond, Waldenites gain experience from the amazing, rare, and unique ecotope that we’ve created at the school.

            Thoreau is often criticized because he would make bold claims about escaping humanity and embarking on his own, only to take in numerous visitors at his cabin, send his laundry back to his mother, and head to town to spend an evening in the tavern. We named our school after Thoreau’s book in hopes that we could, like Henry David, learn by creating makeshift shelters, foraging for food, and gazing at moose. Anybody associated with Walden can tell you the extent to which we have taken Thoreau’s words to heart—in the spirit of emulating his idealized “impervious and quaking swamp,” we have acquired reptiles, more than a little mud, and sometimes even a pair of waders worn as a fashion statement. Our ecosystem also contains a few decrepit couches, large piles of pseudo-wearable detritus, and many moldy Tupperware containers.

            We operate as something of an ecosystem—after witnessing nature on our many Walkabouts and Moab expeditions, we seem to have done a great job of emulating the organic, symbiotic communities that are present in the mountains and deserts of Utah.  Many say that 80% of Walden’s biomass consists of one species—a certain barefooted, heavily empowered herbivore with certain political views and a fondness for outlandish clothing. Though many students fit this description, I think it’s safe to say that many also defy the stereotype. One such mammal is a friend of mine who has very different political views from me. One issue he is very passionate about is gun control and second amendment rights. About three times a week, we have a conversation that sounds like this:

            “Oh hi, Ingrid! Listen. You know I totally respect your beliefs, but let me tell you about this article I was reading that supports my argument!”

            Then approximately forty-five minutes of lively debate ensue, during which we both learn about the issue and practice what we just learned in class about the rhetorical triangle. The discussion inevitably ends with, “Well Ingrid, I may not share your views, but I just love ya to death. Thanks for talkin’ to me.” And I say, “Well, the feeling is mutual. At least we can agree on that!”—regardless of who fits the Waldenite stereotype, I think the most important thing we have in common is respect and love for each other… at least, while we’re not in the middle of a heated political argument. This little-know biodiversity translates into an amazing education when it is placed on fertile soil.

            Anybody who has experienced the stunning Fiery Furnace hike in Moab has been subjected to the Cryptobiotic Soil video—it is shown mandatorily at the visitor’s center before any hiker may embark. At Walden, this piece of cinematic genius is a classic—though the dialogue is occasionally lackluster and the aesthetics experimental, we all heed the oft-repeated warning that hikers should NOT walk off of the path for fear that the vitally important living soil that is the foundation of the arid ecosystem will be disturbed. Like Cryptobiotic soil, the Walden faculty is an often underappreciated foundation of the school’s ecosystem. Though our teachers may not contain many lichens, mosses, or cyanobacteria, they are a earthy, dedicated, and expert part of Walden and of the lives of the students. Cryptobiotic crust is known for its ability to improve stability of otherwise easily eroded soils, and similarly, I have seen many teachers help the current graduating class with college applications, coaching them through the infamously hectic and draining senior year. My math teachers along the way have had to deal with some real emotional instability on my part, for any long and seemingly incomprehensible equation can sometimes render me teary-eyed and whimpering. The crust also serves the purpose of increasing water infiltration in regions that receive little precipitation, and the teachers have been extremely gracious when it comes to making sure that students have access to and knowledge of every cultural opportunity in Utah. I will never forget afternoons spent this fall in Park City watching documentaries with Bev, or going to physics lectures in the Marriot Center (with such speakers as Neil Tyson and Brian Greene), or that amazing field trip we took during my sophomore year to see Michelle Obama speak in Salt Lake City. And, of course, the faculty is never hesitant to lead us halfway around the world if that is what it takes to quench our cultural thirst. This metaphor, however, is somewhat weak because the Walden teachers are significantly more resilient than soil—a simple footprint is enough to destroy a patch of cryptobiotic crust, whereas I’ve seen the teachers weather the literal and figurative elements many times.

             Teachers, in case you are ever discouraged or have moments where you believe that your tireless work has been in vain, I would like you to know that you have made an enormous difference in my life. I came to this school feeling discouraged about and intimidated by my own education, feeling like I had no future and no talent, and I graduate today, having been treated and taught as an individual, which has given me the understanding that even frightening subjects can be my friends. You have instilled in this class an enormous and insatiable intellectual curiosity, and I cannot thank you enough for the education you’ve given me. In addition, I believe that there are students whose lives you have not only changed, but literally saved. Watching your tireless dedication to service has inspired many students to follow in your path—I cannot tell you how many of my peers have told me that they want to become teachers because of how much they respect and admire you. Your passion for your subject areas has shown us the value of pursuing our own passions. Thank you.

            The Walden School was founded with Thoreau’s ideas and journeys in mind, and has evolved into a strange and lovely ecosystem. This week, Walden took a group of students to Capital Reef. Standing at the top of a cliff with my classmates and teachers, I knew exactly what Thoreau was talking about when he noted that hope and future could be found in the wild swamps rather than the manicured lawns—I saw hope and future reflected in the wild, untamed beauty of the sagebrush and the boulders, but I also witnessed it in the wild, untamed beauty of my fellow Waldenites. Ecosystems in their natural state function in a seemingly chaotic, but in fact perfectly balanced manner. As you cultivate your minds, don’t neglect your inner wilderness—our world could really use the symbiosis that the uncivilized wilderness seems to have perfected. Congratulations to the class of 2010, today is your day! 

29 March 2010

funeral potatoes

Yesterday in Relief Society, Sister B. got up to thank everyone for helping out with the four funerals we've had in the past seven weeks in our ward.

I've been so disheartened lately by the hateful rhetoric and irreconcilable differences heightened by the healthcare reform process, and even uncomfortable at church thinking about how I might be worshipping next to someone who thinks I'm a communist or a baby-killer because of my political views, so when Sister B. said that, I felt the balm of creamed soup come over my soul. After all, no matter what our political views, when asked to bring potatoes to a funeral, we all combine two cans of cream of chicken soup, one pint of sour cream, 1/2 bunch of scallions, and 2 c. of cheddar cheese with a bag of frozen shredded potatoes and bake at 350 in a 9x13 dish. At least that's what I've been doing since I moved to Utah seven years ago. (Although some of us choose to top with crushed cornflakes or potato chips and some of us don't). For a moment I melted, became molten inside, as Scarlett Lindeman described funeral potatoes in this beautifully written article.

This can't be a bad thing, to come together in this way, even with processed, industrial food, to support each other in our trials. And though I've had my moments of alienation in the past twenty-plus years as a sister, this communal spirit keeps me in the fold year in and year out.

p.s.--photo of molten funeral potatoes stolen from this website.

p.p.s.--are funeral potatoes served in any other churches, for instance, midwestern churches, where they also serve a lot of jello?

16 March 2010

the edge of spring

Yesterday two students in my cooking class requested that we learn to poach eggs, which inspired a trip to Clifford Family Farms for fresh eggs.

Driving south from the school towards the farm, the eastern mountains were jagging up from clouds and mist and edges of sunlight were just glowing around the peaks.  

It was very happy.

On the way back from the farm Timpanogas was in full sunlight, really the most beautiful thing I remember seeing.  I love this time of seasonal transition--all the anticipation and first moments of sandals (three of my students wore them yesterday), or arugula, spring dresses or asparagus.

And the eggs?  We poached them.

Cali was scared to eat them.  "They're slimy,"  she said.

"Not slimy,"  I said, "silky.  Eat the yolk with your hash brown."

She did.  She and Katy split one, said they liked it.  Amanda is still processing her first poached egg.  "I'm not sure what to say yet.  It was a different taste for me."  

Megan and Mackenzie didn't taste.  Maybe by the end of the week?

I have many stories and recipes to post over at Walden School Cooks and Eats, so stay tuned, and eat a fresh egg (preferably laid by a galavanting chicken) with asparagus soon.