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cheese! Mar. 23rd, 2010 @ 01:05 am
A panel discussion with HJW (the Slow Food guy/German professor) and a distributor of local grassfed beef, tackling supply bottlenecks in the local food system, the American system of agricultural subsidies, and other (mostly policy) issues.

Then dinner at HJ's house...my first experience with raclette!

A half-wheel of raw milk Alpine cheese, the top layer continually grilled on this astounding specially-designed machine then scraped onto a plate. Boiled potatoes, sharp cornichons, plenty of freshly-ground black pepper. Jever pilsner to start, pomegranate juice and sparkling water, then a bottle of chilled Campagnian Falanghina. HJ's wife finally broke under the strain of starch and milkfat, and served a salad with tasty lettuce as an interlude. By then I'd mentioned goat cheese...so unbelievably, we had a cheese course! Stilton, Limburger, and Andante Dairy's Minuet -- yes, the one with goat's-milk AND crème fraiche. I think there was even a little piece of Meyer lemon tart to finish.

Pleasant conversation swirled around -- farmers' markets, Slow Food events, visits to Philadelphia, Swarthmore memories, American & European styles of higher education... Oh it was all so good.

I want that life. An intellectually-satisfying job, a reasonably-sized apartment with enough room for lots of food and single-purpose kitchen accessories (a raclette machine and a bowl for mixing salad dressing!), and the most important question being, 'When are we going to cook these sausages?'
the audience: home
the feeling: mellowmellow
the bard: Le Berger Volage, Genticorum

allergies Feb. 21st, 2010 @ 10:11 pm
...not mine, Sam's.

I'd noticed she didn't play with her toys anymore when I moved into my new flat, back in August '08. And she had some dry or irritated scabs on her skin, but she didn't seem to be in pain and the vet didn't have any specific suggestions.

When I returned from Italy though, she wheezed and moped and seemed to have sores where the skin had merely been dry. So I took her to the vet, and this time the vet discovered she has a severe allergy to flea bites! She wasn't infested with fleas, but she was having severe reactions to the few bites she did have. She got a steroid shot, and I took home some of that goop you put on the back of cats' necks every month... It is impossible to keep her environment free of fleas, since 1. I live in an old West Philly house and 2. my landlord's cat goes outside and probably brings some fleas into common areas, so I'll put that goop on her year-round.

The vet warned me she might be thirsty after the steroids, but instead she seemed exhausted, sleeping heavily almost all the time for a week! It scared me, but mrskittymomma who rescues cats (including Sam) assured me it was OK; it impressed me that a shot of steroids must have a big impact on such a little mammalian body. Still, I was almost ready to call the vet again, when her skin started clearing and her energy started returning. Now her skin and fur seem healthy, and she's energetic and playful every evening when I get home! It warms my heart to see her well, and I only wish I'd picked up on the subtle symptoms earlier.
the audience: home
the feeling: relievedrelieved
the bard: February, Dar Williams

cooking pictures Jan. 18th, 2010 @ 01:57 am
I put up a little album on Facebook [publicly-accessible link] of pictures snapped during my baking adventure today, the chocolate stout cake from Smitten Kitchen. For some reason, the process of baking this cake startled me with its visuals. A whisk balanced on a skillet beside the stove, snowy white and dark brown batter mixing together, streaks of brown against grey metal.

Plus, collecting the ingredients for the cake was an adventure. I love living in West Philly, where last night I ducked into the dive bar behind an Ethiopian place, bought a bottle of Guinness, and totally walked home with an open bottle of beer!

Over the summer, I loved the visual of a wine glass. The perfectly even line dividing the clear glass around the rim from the glistening, slightly opaque condensation around the chilled white wine in the bottom. One can tilt the glass to swirl the wine, but the even line of condensation stays still.
the audience: home
the feeling: artisticartistic
the bard: Rondo/allegro, Violin concerto in D major, Beethoven

the day after the shortest day Dec. 24th, 2009 @ 12:51 am
This year, the solstice fell on the day before my birthday. As befits the first day of lengthening light, my birthday was cheery this year!

SMS wishes from my mom and C were waiting for me when I woke up, as well as the beginning of a steady influx of wall scrawlings. I woke up slowly by responding to those, then settled on my bed to 'open my presents'. It's mildly sad to be an adult without a pile of brightly-wrapped presents, but as C [eta: not sure why I thought this was jere7my] pointed out, this slight sadness is counterbalanced by the way more awesome presents I get as an adult! My dad sent me a card with money for my Italy trip, and C sent me The History of God by Karen Armstrong and Goat Song by Brad Kessler, successfully triangulating my interests of the year to religion and goats...

I went to work -- and there happened to be a huge box waiting, a gift basket for me and Bob from an orchard that we worked with for the first time this year, canned peaches and fruit butters. Between that package, the continuing birthday wishes on facebook, and lunch with Bob (Sly Fox Dunkel Lager and -- finally -- the Good Dog burger), the whole day was light-hearted and cheerful.

It's so amazing to have one day a year when everyone calls and writes and thinks about one. This year, I think I am finally entering a mental space where I can accept that. I think my friends are the coolest ever, but I am finally beginning to accept that they like being friends with me too.

My lunch was huge, so I had ice cream for dinner! While I walked down to Old City, I caught up with Dan and another D on the phone. I still arrived at the Franklin Fountain earlier than anyone else, so I spent half an hour or so catching up with Eric, hearing about the business and his recent family trip to Italy. nullsurface and Anna C, and later Elana (and going above & beyond the call of hospitality, Eric!) sat around one of the round wooden tables in the back with me, licking up ice cream and fudge and milkshakes and chatting about gifts and snow and work. My birthday sundae: the hot fudge sundae with chesnut ice cream. Eric kindly bought everyone's ice cream, which astonished me! What a fun little party.

We admired the clear-toy candy afterwards, then walked west and south. The others split off for home, but Elana came into Chick's with me. Phoebe was making egg nog, shaking the egg and spiced milk together for minutes, adding apple brandy and rum, and topping it off with a slice of ginger and two slivers of apple peel, red and green. Elana and I caught up about new refrigerators and boys, the two most important subjects...

A great birthday.
the feeling: lovedaffectionate
the bard: The Boar's Head, Chieftains

another random travel question Dec. 19th, 2009 @ 01:40 am
I realize this is hardly worth breaking unintentional radio silence, but seriously, I find this bizarre. I'm contemplating visiting Michigan sometime, and why is the entire state covered by Amtrak's 'Michigan Services' and detached from other routes except through Chicago? (At least, this is how it looks to me from a few minutes' browsing Amtrak's station and route info, and Wikipedia.)

I'm posting this question here because I know there are train geeks who can tell me the THE most efficient way to get to MI by train. ;) And yes, I would prefer to take a train over a plane.
the audience: home
the feeling: annoyedannoyed
the bard: Dance to your daddy (folk lullabye)

advice? Oct. 16th, 2009 @ 08:11 pm
Yes, I still occasionally remember I have this blog. For instance, when I am facing a wrenching decision and feel the need for some outside inputs. Oh don't worry, I'm physically and mentally OK, but I need to navigate between Scylla and Charybdis on my way to an international holiday.

I'm determined to take a holiday ASAP when the market season is over, because I want to get away when I won't be plunged straight back into the stress of hundreds of details about a dozen farmers' markets upon my return. (That happened when I got back from a few days in Boston and at folkdance camp.) December is my brief interlude, a lull between the end of market season (around Thanksgiving) and the beginning of planning season (already upon me, but becoming more urgent in January). So, I decided to take a holiday in December, and since I get so few opportunities to travel with this local food gig, I desperately want to go somewhere international that I've never been before.

Next, I decided I want to take this holiday with a dear friend from my semester in Wales. I haven't seen him for over two years.

Here's the problem. He's in academia, so he's only free around Christmas. The beginning of his spring term is freakin' early, Jan. 5.

I could visit him in Wales anytime, for instance mid-December when it's convenient for me. Or I could probably still manage to get away in early or mid January. But I don't really want to visit him in Wales, because as awesome as Wales is, I've been around it a bit a few years ago. That said, I could visit again and would enjoy it.

OR. We could go somewhere else, say a region of Spain or Italy I haven't visited yet, but it would have to be the week of New Year's. I would have to miss Hogmanay, the huge Scottish ball I go to every year to dance and make merry and see folkdancing friends from around the country, and Twelfth Night, a great English dance at the beginning of the new year. The wrenching part of this decision is that I'm not positive I'll be in Philadelphia next New Year's so my chances of attending Hogmanay may be smaller. If I'm living elsewhere, I could obviously visit over Christmas/New Year's. And since I don't have a plan for next year, other than vaguely feeling like it's time to move on, I could even still be in Philadelphia. That's all so uncertain that I really don't want to miss Hogmanay, though.

Sigh. Thoughts?
the audience: home
the feeling: thoughtfulthoughtful
the bard: none

I am yellow today / I shine my light out like the sun Jun. 24th, 2009 @ 12:59 am
I've been marveling for a couple days at how many herbal sore throat remedies are yellow. Some of the following are more general remedies for colds and allergies, but think about this list! Chamomile tea, honey and bee pollen, lemon juice, ginger, turmeric (recommended as an anti-inflammatory), vitamin C...

I'm avoiding dairy for the duration, so I've experimented with ways to consume the turmeric. I can't tell if the turmeric specifically is helping, but I have learned a couple things. It does not dissolve well when mixed with honey in tea (and turns one's mugs yellow, of course), and it's too gritty to be enjoyable when sprinkled over oatmeal along with bee pollen.

What is the significance of yellow?!
the audience: home
the feeling: thoughtfulphilosophical
the bard: Rose of Sharon, Joan Baez

this is my life Jun. 21st, 2009 @ 12:46 am
I was walking back to our office today after the Rittenhouse Square market, with No Parking signs under one arm and my favorite canvas bag filled with produce in the other.[1] I was crossing Walnut St. and waved at an acquaintance from the Farmstand who was biking by. His response? 'Do you want a strawberry?' as he gestured to the flat roped onto the rack behind his seat... Everyone seems to have a jam flat these days!

This evening, on the eve of the Solstice, I went to a houseparty/potluck at a house in Mt Airy where two urban farmers I know live. On my way back to the train station, paused to say farewell to a few people on the porch, I caught a glimpse of two men taking a walk down the street with their dog. I shouted out to them, because they're good friends of my alter ego.

This is my life in Philadelphia. Knowing people who bike around with strawberry flats and greeting friends from different circles all in the same place.

[1] (Today's purchases/gifts from the market: lacinato kale, a sweet onion with the greens, green garlic, a squirmy spidery handful of scapes, one of the first green peppers, a few pieces of an infrequent flavor of fudge, three rutabagas, and a quart of cherries spilling over it all.)
the audience: home
the feeling: satisfiedsatisfied
the bard: Rose of Sharon, Joan Baez

hello? Jun. 3rd, 2009 @ 10:44 pm
I've been thinking about this blog lately. I'm mostly succeeding at keeping up with facebook and twitter, although I have a pile of unread messages in my fb inbox. I'm mostly not-succeeding in keeping up with email. But at least briefly, I miss hearing a little more about friends' lives. I also miss hearing a little more about non-lj friends' lives and reading food blogs, but returning to my RSS feed is still far in the future. Sometimes I miss those days of sitting around in a law office and wasting time on the internets all day... ;)

Work. Intense since February. I don't even want to start on that right now.

Instead, maybe I'll go find a new icon or two. Like Zachary Quinto as Spock. SO HOT.

ETA: Apparently today happens to be ZQ's birthday. So while I'm looking for icons, all I find are birthday picspam posts. Not. Helpful.

ETA, again: Lest anyone think I am not wasting time on the internet at all these days, let me state for the record two things. After the awesome of Star Trek 2009, I've been re-watching TOS episodes I loved in childhood, on youtube. (Turns out CBS has put up all the eps!) And second, I've spent way too much time watching videos of the Norwegian dance company FRIKAR, who combine the traditional hallingdans + breakdancing + capoeira and who were featured in the Norwegian Eurovision win. Those are my current obsessions, just in case you were wondering.
the audience: home
the feeling: mischievousmercurial
the bard: Sam snoring

brothers Mar. 22nd, 2009 @ 01:38 am
...at this point, I'm amazed that I remember the password to this blog.

I would truly enjoy keeping up with all your lives and thoughts, but for now I can't make that time or space. For the moment, I come here because I'm driven to write out my thoughts; it's too late at night to talk them out to anyone.

I find myself truly haunted by the thought of losing my brother, either physically to illness or emotionally to strife. I have no idea why this idea has penetrated so insidiously but vividly into my mind. Why am I fixating on this? The obvious explanations are easy... I'm tired, I'm preoccupied and worried and concerned at work, etc. There's a slightly less obvious explanation too, my dream from six years ago in Wales that can still bring me to tears. I suspect it may have something to do with the divorce too, fear that I'll lose another family member.

All I know for sure is that I'm fascinated with the stark differences between the temperaments of my brother and me, but I think he is the coolest person I could possibly have for a brother. It's deeply important to me that I have a brother, and I look forward to sharing our lives.

Is Evanescence even still around?

I'm still startled to have a weekend in Philadelphia after all the traveling to conferences I did recently. Ann wants me to go to yoga with her tomorrow morning, because Joe just had knee surgery. (Perhaps that was another incident that scared me recently, as minor as the procedure was.) A meeting around lunchtime, a dinner engagement. Brunch plans on Monday, at Carman's! In between those commitments, I hope to clean a little, do a little paperwork, work a little. And breathe.
the audience: home
the feeling: melancholymelancholy
the bard: Taking Over Me, Evanescence
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