Coming to My Senses

Coming to My SensesComing to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook
Alice Waters
Clarkson Potter (September 5, 2017), 310 pages
Kindle edition $12.99, Amazon paperback $11.59

I was intrigued when I first saw the review of this book and I added it to my stack of Kindle samples. I finally got around to reading it.

Waters spends a lot of time talking about her childhood and elementary and high school years, but the book starts to get interesting when she arrives at college. She and her best friend started out at UC Santa Barbara, but they found that school boring and transferred to Berkeley. She fit right in to the counterculture and was there as the free speech movement began.

She took an unauthorized, self-directed junior year abroad in France which had a profound influence on her thinking about food. Back in Berkley she slowly evolved the idea of opening a restaurant, even though she had no training in the culinary profession or in business. She recruited friends who shared her vision and who were skilled in their own fields, though not in the restaurant world. Somehow the passion and drive made it all work and Chez Panisse has been a renowned restaurant since 1971.

The writing is not always engaging, but if you enjoy things culinary you might appreciate this book.


Sacred Music Friday: Lift Up Your Heads, Ye Mighty Gates

I’m a sucker for any hymn that uses the hymn tune Truro as it brings back fond and happy memories of my days at the First Unitarian Church of Oklahoma City and the hymn “O Life That Maketh All Things New.” The lyrics to this one, though, are highly appropriate for Advent.


the value of our Roku

About a year ago I wrote that I had bought a Roku device so we could get the CBS All Access streaming service in order to watch Star Trek: Discovery. That series, the first season at least, was an absolute disaster, so bad that I cancelled CBS All Access before the end of the season. (We are hoping for a better season 2 and expect to re-up in January.)

Roku packageThe Roku has been great for other reasons, however. It gives us simple, easy access to Netflix and Hulu. We get access to streaming movies through Fandango, Vudu, and Redbox.

The Roku also provides access to the CBSN streaming news service. I have been watching more news since the democrats won the House of Representatives, and I watch CNN and MSNBC, both of which show a bias against that guy with the orange hair who lives in the White House. That is more than fine with me, but it’s nice to have CBSN for their more down the middle approach.

Then there’s NASA TV. With the excitement around the Mars InSight mission I thought perhaps Roku might offer NASA TV. In fact, they do. How very cool is that?

The Roku was an inexpensive purchase. We are getting more than our money’s worth.


coriander-crusted flank steak

coriander-crusted steakI don’t often include steak in my meal planning, but every once in a while I put it on the menu for a Saturday dinner. I pulled up this recipe for coriander-crusted flank steak with Cuban black beans.

The steak is rubbed with coriander, black pepper, and salt. I bought an eye of round steak for the recipe.

The Cuban black beans include bell pepper, cumin, tomato paste and chicken stock. We keep vegetable, not chicken stock in the pantry.

I left the cooking to Terry. She is the steak expert. This made for a delightful Saturday dinner.


NPR’s Book Concierge 2018

Once again NPR has released its annual Book Concierge. This very cool tool lists the best books of 2018 that have been reviewed or otherwise mentioned on NPR. This is more than simply a best books list, however. It is an interactive tool that allows you to select books by category, mixing and matching in a very fun way.

For example you can select Staff Picks and Eye openings Reads. You can select just Nonfiction or you can select Nonfiction and Identity and Culture. There’s a category for Seriously Great Writing. I keep intending to read a book in that category. Maybe I will yet.

Take a look. Play around. Have fun. I think you’ll enjoy it.


chicken tikka masala

Chicken Tikka MasalaI love chicken tikka masala. It is one of my two favorite Indian dishes along with tandoori chicken. Unfortunately, our local Indian restaurant (at least we have one now!) rarely makes chicken tikka masala available on its buffet. I had a hankering for the dish, so I decided to make it myself.

I have a few chicken tikka masala recipes in my database. I decided to try this one by Aarti Sequeira, of whom I am a big fan. I made the marinade as specified a few hours ahead. I took a big shortcut on the sauce. Rather than doing it in steps as the recipe specified, I threw all the ingredients into my Vitamix, created a smooth sauce and the put it into the pan with the chicken which had been cooking for a while.

The result was delightful. Very much the taste of restaurant chicken tikka masala. Terry called it “killer.” It was one of those recipes that really worked.


Sacred Music Friday: Deep in the Shadows of the Past

First-Plymouth Church, Lincoln Nebraska


our newest garden tool

When we left Gilroy in May 2015 we left a lot of stuff behind: donated to charity or given to neighbors. Garden tools were among what we gave up, including our electric hedge trimmer. We’ve gotten by fine without it, though it’s meant a bit more manual work.

Recently, however, our neighbor expressed concern about the vines growing along our shared fence. Seems in the past she has had an unpleasant experience replacing a fence due to overgrowth. I thought about renting a hedge trimmer to handle the job, but I realized that by the time I paid all the rental fees I could buy one.

So I did.

I cut back the vines by the fence and whacked down the hedge on the other side of the house which I had previously attacked by hand.

A worthwhile purchase.

 

hedge trimmer


tex-mex chicken and black bean soup

Chicken Black Bean SoupSometimes recipes will sit in my Living Cookbook database for a long time before I get around to trying them. Other recipes get made right away when I come across them. Terry had marked a number of recipes in the November issue of Cooking Light for addition to the database. This recipe caught my attention.

It includes chicken, black beans, diced tomatoes, corn, and bell pepper. Spices include chili powder, cumin, black pepper, and chipotle chiles in adobo sauce. The nice thing is that you simply throw everything in the crock pot and leave it. I chopped up the chicken at the outset rather shredding it at the end as the recipe specified, so when it was time to eat all I needed to do was serve it.

The recipe made for a nice hearty autumn supper.


giving away razors and selling razor blades

The phrase “giving away razors and selling razor blades” came into common use when discussing inkjet printers. The printers sold for a very low price but one got sticker shock when buying the ink cartridges. I had a similar experience recently.

label makerOur long-time, trusty label maker gave up and died. It refused to spit out the labels we tried to create. Changing the batteries had no effect. I eventually decided to replace it, so I made a trip to Staples. They had quite a selection ranging in price all the way from $19.95 to $64.95. I didn’t see anything in the more expensive models that made them worth the price, so I bought the $19.95 model. It came with a white label cartridge and I bought a transparent label cartridge.

It was only when I got home that I realized that the transparent cartridge was $9.95. Really? There’s a case of (almost) giving away razors and selling razor blades.

The new label maker is quite nice, by the way. It has a whole lot more features than the old one, which we must have had for fifteen years or more. It includes an LED display, which the old one did not have. We were making labels blind and only saw our mistakes when we printed the label. We’ll get good use out of this new label maker.