Friday, August 19, 2011

thought for the day

Facebook is the place where you get to see how all those goofballs you knew in college/high school/elementary school are doing the same ridiculous things they did back in the day. It's just that, now, some of them are making millions doing that stuff.


Monday, August 15, 2011

pulling through

Looking for something to do with the kids during these waning dog days of summer? How about an old-fashioned taffy pull!!

I got the recipe from one of my newest and favoritest books - Sugar Baby, by this woman, Gesine Bullock-Prado, who, OMG, it turns out is Sandra Bullock's sister!!!

Anyway, the book is amazing, the recipe is ridiculously simple, and taffy pulling - it turns out - is quite an addictive and meditative pasttime. Apparently, it used to be a fairly common dating/courting activity back in the day (and talk about clean! We were washing our hands non-stop throughout. Plus, that taffy is super hot at first, which was probably a great way to guard against wandering hands, if you know what I mean. Wink wink, nudge nudge).

Basically, you boil a simple sugar mixture, work it over a cool surface a bit, add some color and extracts, and try not to drool on the rapidly hardening puddles of sheer sugar ecstasy. Just ask the three kids who joined me in all the fun.

Finally, after pulling that candy until you just can't pull it anymore, get out your squeaky clean scissors, your waxed paper and your dentist's phone number, and before you know it, you'll have this:

And then this!!:

And then, sadly, inevitably.....this:

It's a nice (sniff) farewell to these golden summer days, though. This much I know for sure.

Monday, August 08, 2011

life of pie

So, there's this fairly amazing community garden next to my kids' school. It was started by my neighbor, who is a Master Gardener and has a contagious, almost palpable enthusiasm for growing herbs and vegetables in our notoriously difficult climate with its notoriously short, unpredictable growing season (snow in late June, anyone?). As I understand it, the garden started as a 4-H project but then took on a life of its own.

The adjoining herb path, for example, became a memorial to a dear friend of mine and many others in our community who passed away a few years ago. Now the garden is a place where the Garden Girls - an unofficial gathering of local women from all walks of life, many of us with kids at the school - meet and toil and water and laugh and share things that men are absolutely NOT allowed to hear. (And that's just the garden chit-chat. Don't even get me started on the stories exchanged during our dinner gatherings.)  Also, I use the term "us" loosely, since I have not been able to attend the GG gatherings nearly as much as I'd like to. But just rest assured; these are the kind of women books should be written about. And maybe someday they will.

Anyway, back to the whole point of this post which is that a bunch of us headed down to Sedona last weekend to pick blackberries. This being August it was hotter than blazes down there, but one gal brought homemade cake pops anyway. Good Lord, they were good (and it's never too hot for ooey-gooey chocolate, right? Right.):

Fortunately, shade was plentiful along Beaver Creek, and this was appreciated by adults, kids and dog alike:

After about a half-hour of berry picking (and getting the bejeezus scratched out of my arms and legs), I came upon what I can only describe as a WALL OF SMELL so heavenly I had to just stop and sniff it deep into my lungs. It was wild mint growing right there around the boulders of the creek. A friend harvested some for me to take home, and though it was promptly planted in a comfy little herb bed here in the high country, I'm sorry to say things don't look good for my little transplant. Who knows though - maybe by this time next year I'll be trying to beat the minty ground cover off with a stick. A girl can dream.

The more intrepid among us stopped mid-pick for a dip in the local swimming hole with Sedona's characteristic red rocks rising up behind it. It's a special kind of summer Paradise, I tell ya:

Anyway, this is all to say that what started out as this on a hot August morning:

In fairly short order ended up as this:

And you know what they say about the journey being the best part?

Well, that's a dang lie, because that pie was mostly gone before it even had a chance to cool properly.

(Kidding, of course. The journey, thanks to amazing women and the amazing blessing of this place I call home, completely rocked.)

Saturday, August 06, 2011


It means "shark," but you wouldn't know it to drive through town on the winding, waterfront road leading away from Highway 101. Late in the day with the fog rolling it, the harbor's a beautiful sight.

From this little lookout next to The Caprice Restaurant you get a great view out toward Raccoon Straits. The bay itself is a perfect playground for sailboats, and we watched them frolic from our window seats. It was an extra-special way to celebrate my mother's birthday this year.

If you go, the dungeness crabcakes with remoulade are a must-nom: