Sunday, August 31, 2014

Tea time

Yesterday I was watering my garden. The neighborhood recently added a few more little kids, and since it is a mostly car-free neighborhood, the little ones play across gardens, form friendships, hang out in troops, with all their little adventures. I held the shower head over the summer squash plants and the herbs, and the little girl, maybe 4 years old, came across the lawn and asked “What are you doing?”. She was wearing a sparkling tiara, a blue bathing suit, a red floor length cape and little white cowboy boots. “Are you a princess?” She nodded. Then she paused. “I am wonder woman.” --- 

For some reason, I was happy that she choose to be wonder woman instead of a princess.

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Today, the sky was dark gray and looked like November, but the temperatures were like the middle of summer. I mostly hung out at home, watched some movies, drank tea, and ate cake. BabyCat decided that was a good plan. She took the cat walk around the chair’s rim and head-butted me, then wiggled herself into the big chair with me.

She slept, I worked on the computer. Took selfies with cat. Lazy Sundays….

Thursday, August 28, 2014

I remember nothing

Yesterday, the ipod hooked up to my car sound systems finished with an audiobook on “Wallander” and started a new audiobook on its own, Nora Ephron’s “I remember nothing” which is also narrated by her. It kept me chuckling all afternoon. I had listened to it before, but for some reason I must have jumped to the middle of the book back then since it started with a piece on food writers. But now, there it was, the beginning. “I remember nothing”. She wrote this book in her 60s and although very few people knew then that she was sick it was her farewell book. Her gleaning through the things she actually remembered from her life and the things she did not was as usual honest and witty.

Nora Ephron was never quite on my radar as a person when she was alive. I had seen, of course, all her icon movies from When Harry Met Sally, to You got mail……, to Silkwood, Heartburn and Julia and Julie. For some reason, I mixed her up with Ephraim Kishon, another (male!) Jewish comedic writer and film maker. I thought Nora was actually a man. Isn’t that terrible? …..that in your subconscious you think that such a prolific, successful, productive comedic writer and filmmaker must be a man, someone you heard about before and thought, it must be the same person. Obviously I also remember nothing.

Her telling the story of her life on “I remember nothing” makes this almost understandable. She talks about her college years at Wellesley, and then deciding to become a journalist. She gets hired at Newsweek in the beginning of the 60s, but, as she said, at that time, women did not become journalists. They were mail girls, clip girls, researchers who verified facts on stories written by male journalists. Due to a newspaper strike, when all things haywire and unorthodox for while, she was asked to write a parody on a New York Post daily column. First the NY Post wanted to sue, but then they hired her. And so, she became a journalist, in a time where all journalists were men.

She had indeed a very illustrious career, was married three times, had 2 kids, many successes, a few failures, and is very honestly reminiscing in the book, with her thoughtful, witty observations, because the inside is always different than the outside. I remember the story she tells about Christmas dinner, that they always got together with many friends, and kids, and cooked Christmas dinner together over the years. She was responsible for the dessert and made 2 cakes. Another friend also made several cakes. They were the dessert team. When the friend passed away, there was shuffling on the dessert routine, and she was asked to bring the potatoes. Only then she realized no one ever liked her cakes, and only liked the friend’s ones.

Her Six Stage of Email is also a classic.

Nora, thank you for talking to me in car every day and making me laugh about the idiosyncrasies of life.

NORA EPHRON (19-05-1941 - 26-06-2012)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Ratatouille in a Tagine

It probably was last really hot summer day today, and so I made the best out of it. Time allowed it and I headed to the coast. The summer visitors seem gone by now and it is the time when people come for the weekend. The produce section at Chase’s Daily was overflowing with vegetables, and I bought some wonderfully firm and fresh eggplant for a retake on the ratatouille, but this time making sure there would be steam and bubbling sauce, and the answer is ---- a tagine.

Lunch at Chase’s:

The retake on the ratatouille: Only difference is making it in a covered dish with enough space to develop steam from the vegetable juices. --- A tent-like tagine.

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After 40 min in the oven, the ratatouille was bubbling in its  own juices.

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Ratatouille in a Tagine:

for 1-2 people

  • 1/2 can tomato paste
  • garlic powder
  • 1/2 summer squash, thinly sliced
  • Small eggplant, thinly sliced
  • 1 tomato, thinly sliced
  • fresh herbs (thyme, savory, mint)
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • parmesan cheese from serving.
  • Special equipment: small tagine

Preheat oven to 375F.

Spread the tomato paste on the bottom on the tagine. Add the garlic powder, and arrange vegetables in round pattern, top with herbs, black pepper and some olive oil. Cover with tagine lid, and bake for 40min. “The vegetables should be bubbling in the tomato sauce.” --- which they do --- serve with fresh grated parmesan. 

Stretching the last days of summer

The summer is presenting us with an end of summer heatwave, but the other signs point towards back to school.

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Instead of shorts and tees and sandals, there is a necessity to wear real clothes again. Some cities and states have already started with school, but we have another few days left, including a long weekend. I put on the blinders and try to hold on tight to summer.

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…wanting to make it stretch into another endless summer. Why did it go by so fast anyway?

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But then, it is all about the work/life balance: should we work to live, or live to work? Or… just live…

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