Sunday, August 30, 2009


one little orangette at sunset

The orangette is a beautiful thing. This past weekend I made a platter of them and most people agreed.

There are, of course, those with an aversion to oranges--Ahem J.

It is a fairly intense treat. Although one slowly savored orangette per evening is enough for me, most people did not agree. I watched several individuals quietly return to the orangette platter again and again, each one of them slipping a fresh orangette (or two, or three) into their mouth during every visit.

I was happy to see the candies disappear, pleased the guests were enjoying what I'd prepared for them. Suddenly it occurred to me that I hadn't photographed even one of these lovely little confections and the sun was quickly sinking. I'm a big fan of natural light, so I grabbed my camera, snatched one orangette from the platter, placed it on a teensy dish, and headed outside.

It had been a beautiful day and I knew that each time I looked back at this image I'd be able to return to this place and time. No pressure. I worked quickly, the sun vanishing, as one of my friends cheered me on yes, yes, I like the blue! I did the best I could. It was done.

I loved that I was able to indulge in the bitter sweetness of this particular orangette and save it forever.

I searched for orangette and candied orange peel recipes and found quite an array. I loosely followed this one. If you'd like to prepare a platter of your own, you'll need the following:

  • 4 large oranges
  • 3 cups of sugar for the syrup (This is what I used and our guests seemed quite pleased, but I found the orangettes to be very sweet, perhaps too sweet. I think I might take the amount of sugar as low as 1 cup next time and see what happens. I'm the type that cuts way back on sugar in preserves and cakes too.)
  • 1 additional cup of sugar for coating the orange peels
  • 8 ounces of extra dark chocolate--70% cacao
  • lots of water
  • sharp knife
  • cutting board
  • large stock pot
  • medium heavy-bottomed sauce pan
  • baking rack
  • cookie sheet
  • wax paper
  • airtight container
Cut off the top and bottom of each orange (the North and South Poles). Cut just far enough into the orange to reveal the flesh.

Score the peel to create 6 sections
(longitude lines) and ease your fingers beneath the first section of the peel, beginning at the top (North Pole) and gently working your way to the bottom (South Pole). Continue with the additional 5 sections of peel. Repeat with remaining 3 oranges. Save the peeled oranges and eat them later (or now).

Slice all of the peels lengthwise into 1/4 inch strips and toss them into a large stock pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. As soon as the water boils, drain off all water and repeat process 2 more times.

Pour 1 cup water into a medium sauce pan and add 3 cups sugar. Bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer. Once the sugar has dissolved, add the orange peels and simmer for 3o minutes or until translucent, stirring occasionally. (Don't abandon your peels at this've worked too hard.)

Set a baking rack inside a cookie sheet and remove all peels from the pan with a slotted spoon and arrange on rack so they are not touching. Save the remaining syrup in a Mason jar and refrigerate for later use. (I added a little bit to a glass of sparking water and it was nice).

Once the peels have cooled down and dried a bit you can toss them in a bowl of sugar.
(I coated all of my peels, but I might try 1/2 without sugar coating next time.) I saved the remaining sugar too.

Place all sugared peels back on the rack and let dry completely, about 5-6 hours. Once dry you can dip in tempered chocolate. I used Method 1, sans thermometer, and it flopped. Perhaps I need to find my candy thermometer...I know I have one somewhere. Dip each orangette 1/2 way into tempered
(or simply melted in my case) chocolate and shake off excess. Place dipped orangettes on a wax paper lined cookie sheet and let the chocolate set in refrigerator. Store set orangettes in an airtight container or serve and watch them vanish.

Since my tempering was unsuccessful, the chocolate on my orangettes began to get a little soft after only a short while on the platter. Oh well... No one seemed to mind.

#33 -- check!


He said he learned by watching me,
but I hadn't meant to teach.

I stretched to fill our spaces,
sprawling out comfortably,
long conversations with myself.

And the sky,
it would not be ignored.

He became a blur
while I smiled with tears in my eyes.

As my wondering when he'd return faded,
a small white moth nestled
into the rug beside my foot.

It was fearless and stood its ground.

I knew it would eat my sweaters,
but I could not kill it.

Friday, August 28, 2009

pot party

a few of my pot bottoms

I've been learning to work with clay. Lorna Newlin has been my guide.

We are celebrating her studio's seventh birthday this weekend. Stop by, have a glass of wine, and see what Lorna has been up to for the past seven years. I'll have a few of my pots for sale too.

Dates: August 29-30, 2009
Time: Student Art Show & Open Studio: 11:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Studio Anniversary Party Sat. August 29, 5:00 - 8:00 PM

Place: Sausalito Pottery, 610 Coloma St. #690, Sausalito CA 94965

Directions: From Bridgeway turn west (uphill) on Coloma, turn right into MLK School parking area after playing field. It's the first building - #7, first door.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

these are not capers

green peppercorns in one of my little handmade bowls 

I'm contemplating green peppercorns.

These are special peppercorns, at least they are special to me. They aren't dried and dried peppercorns are all I've ever known. I had no idea that what appear to be fresh peppercorns packed inside a small slender jar with water, vinegar, and salt (basically...a pickle) were out there in the world waiting for me. Aren't they beautiful? I saw them on the grocer's shelf when I was searching for capers and I knew I had to have them.

Green peppercorns are simply young unripe berries.
The fruit is dark red when fully mature. Black berries do not exist in nature, black peppercorns are green unripe berries that have been cooked and dried.

I just popped one in my mouth and it's quite lovely. As the firm little berry rolls around in my mouth, at first there is a mild sour saltiness, somewhat similar to a common caper, but without any hints of bitterness. When I bite into the berry it pops and there it is, the familiar pepper taste, but more bright and fresh. It's easy going for a second, but then boom, it hits me and my tongue tingles, my eyes water a bit, and I cough a weak little cough as the spiciness tickles my throat. A brief moment passes and I'm okay again.

The mild burn stays on my tongue for a few minutes and then I eat another one.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Breakfast on Mesa Road, Point Reyes Station, June 2008

berry, oh berry
simple, honest, and sweet

juicy and black
not at all like a beet

you bathe in the sun
and you never burn

you fall from your stem
nothing asked in return

Friday, August 21, 2009

I think I can, I think I can.


I've been working on a list. Inspired by Tiny Abstraction's 31 things to do..., I've created 41 before 42.

It seems my list making is inherited. When I visit my father I find old envelopes scattered throughout his house with lists written on them, clipboards with lists stacked beneath the clips, lists on the refrigerator, lists in the truck, lists on his desks (both of them), and lists on the chalkboard in the kitchen.

One major difference between my father's and my list making habits is that I keep all of my lists in one place, my notebook, so I don't lose any of them. As #20 states, I plan on experimenting with bringing
Google docs into the mix. Knowledge Man thinks it's a good idea. He's probably right.

Although my lists live side by side, I am just as prolific as my dad with my list making. I write lists of poems I'd like to read, places I'd like to travel, projects I'd like to tackle, books I'd like to check out from the library, ideas for my novel, ideas for my blog, dreaded housekeeping tasks, groceries I need to purchase, recipes I'd like to try, lists of pros and cons for difficult decisions I'm in the process of making, and everyday to-do lists.

I recently had lunch with a friend I hadn't seen in years and years and, of all things, she asked me if I still wrote lists pinpointing all of my hopes, dreams, and simple to-dos.
Yes she recalled you were always making lists, writing everything little thing down. I'm not sure how I feel about not seeing my friend for such an extended period of time and then, when we finally meet again, learning that my list making is one of the core things she remembers about me. Hmmm...

In honor of Julia Child, I won't apologize. I guess it is who I am. I have thoughts. I have ideas. I write them down. No reason to be ashamed.

So like the
The Little Engine That Could, I'm optimistically off to continue my journey.

41 before 42

1. Finish striped scarf for Chris
Done, but it turns out it's too short...back to the drawing board. More here.

2. Experiment with Lumie's (my Lumix L1) film mode
Done. This was the day.
3. Make a Wakame Salad (buy Mendocino Wakame--Whole Foods, Bi-Rite, or Rainbow Grocery)
Not done.
Bought Wakame at Whole Foods (no, I'm not boycotting). I thought I was buying a California product, but I'm a bit confused about the origin of this seaweed due to the label stating Wild California or Maine. Still need to make salad.
Submit Worms for Girls to Reaktion Books Ltd
Not done. Decided not to go the traditional publishing route. Working on a handmade book.
6. Submit Worms for Girls to second literary agent
Not done. Decided not to work with an agent. Plan to sell handmade book (and possibly more) online.
7. Make Molly Wizenberg's Banana Bread with Chocolate and Crystallized Ginger
Done (in the form of muffins) .

8. Make our pottery replacements (bowls, plates, mugs)
Done with the exception of mugs. I love my tiny tree mugs and Chris now has his Chicago flag mug.
9. Donate the bowls, plates, and mugs we replace w/ my pottery to Goodwill
Not done. Donated some, but must finish.
10. Watch a sunrise
Done. Woke up early and watched a sunrise in Calistoga, CA on September 15, 2009.
11. Watch a sunset
Done. Watched a beautiful sunset with Chris (photograph above) at Crissy Field August 14, 2009.
12. Make pottery for Dad (bowl and plate)
Done (for now). Dad doesn't really need a plate or bowl, but wanted something cool that I made, so he'll soon be choosing one of my two special wood-fired bowls to keep as his own.
13. Solo trip (focus on observing, writing, photography)
Done. I wrote a little bit about it here.
14. Solo day/night together trip with Chris
Done, but we were missing each other and spent most of our days AND nights together with just a few solo breaks.
15. Time blocking plan (write, read, pottery, knit, workout, home, plan, walk, meet, etc.)
Done, but thinking time blocking is over-rated...
16. Type After the Sour Lemon Moon poems on typewriter (presentation? float in frames?)
Not done. Just haven't made it a priority...focused on other things. Not feeling bad about it.
17. Start blue scarf with big needles
18. Finish plum scarf with little needles
Done. Here it is!
19. Try stitching (embroidery) one of the
After the Sour Lemon Moon poems (decide on a proper stitch, like the Blue Bottle sign, & use linen)
Not done. Just haven't made it a priority...focused on other things. Not feeling bad about it.
20. Sort writing, projects, ideas (life) in Google docs.
Not done. Just haven't made it a priority...focused on other things. Not feeling bad about it.
21. Incorporate computer-free time into schedule (Sundays? A certain time period each day?)
Done--all day each Saturday (highly recommend!). A little bit about this topic here.
22. Inventory closet and compile a donation for Goodwill
Not done. Just haven't made it a priority...focused on other things. Really should hop to it!
23. Try Maldon Salt

24. Make Paneer
Done. Made paneer (Julie Sahni's recipe...she shares some paneer making tips at the bottom of the recipe) to replace the tofu in Jen's Okra recipe August 19, 2009.

25. Make a spoon rest
26. Make a taller (work) mug for Chris
Not done. He bought a Chicago flag mug instead.
27. Make a shorter utensil holder -- use current as model
Not done. Chris loves current model and does not want to replace.

28. Make yarn bowls
Done. Made 4 yarn bowls. Here's three (also apple bowls or whatever-suits-your-fancy bowls).
29. Make large shallow bowl w/ Be Sweet Knobby Ball swirl for texture
30. Pickle ginger
Not done. Just haven't made it a priority...focused on other things. Not feeling bad about it. I want to find baby ginger and haven't begun my search.
31. Complete Worms for Girls text w/ index + cover image (stamp?)
Not done. Need to prioritize!
32. Sausalito poem + prose submission to literary magazine
Not done. Just not sure I still want to do this...
33. Make candied orange peel
Done. Made orangettes (candied orange peel dipped in chocolate) August 28, 2009
34. Make crystallized ginger
Not done. Just haven't made it a priority...focused on other things. Not feeling bad about it. Bought some great crystallized ginger at The Candy Store.
35. Anniversary in Calistoga, CA
Done. Returned home on September 16, 2009 after a great trip to Calistoga, CA
36. Read Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient & Anil's Ghost
37. Type all Quiet-Riter notes and writing from notebooks into Google docs.
Not done. Just haven't made it a priority...focused on other things. Feeling bad about it.
38. Begin 15 minutes of silence per day
Done. Began 15 minutes of silence per day (ferry ride to Sausalito). September 3, 2009. I did well for a while, but then fell off the wagon. I need to jump back on.
39. Find two Moroccan tea glasses
Not done. I looked for a while and couldn't find what I liked. I totally forgot about this. Maybe I'll find them today! If not, I'm in no hurry. I'll wait for the glasses I love.
40. Read Per Petterson's To Siberia & In the Wake
Done with In the Wake. Haven't read To Siberia.
41. Show Chris my list
Done. Showed Chris my list August 16, 2009.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Ice cream, in oatmeal?

Steel Cut Oats, Red Apricots, Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, and Freshly Ground Nutmeg

Yes, ice cream in oatmeal!

The following is excerpted from the comments section of a post about ice cream on david lebovitz living the sweet life in Paris.

Ice cream in oatmeal? My father used to top our Cream of Wheat with vanilla ice cream and until now I'd never heard anyone reference anything even close. You are the first. We loved it--rich cool sweet cream melting over breakfast...yum. I'm sure your version, caramelized white chocolate ice cream stirred into oatmeal, is superb!

chez danisse: Ice cream, in oatmeal? Even I'm not that crazy : )

I put a big spoonful of the caramelized white chocolate itself in the oatmeal, let it melt a bit, then stir it around slightly. (Not too much, such I like ribbons of it.)

Oops...looks like I was reading too quickly and seeing what I wanted to see versus what was actually written. That being said, I am crazy enough to try ice cream in oatmeal and plan on giving it a go. It was so good in Cream of Wheat. I'm sure it will be tasty. Maybe you should get a little crazy and try it too ; )

Sunday, August 16, 2009

We Knew Each Other

Photo by Christopher Parsons

She seemed so familiar,
too familiar, too much like me.

But then something shattered,
either her or the mirror.

One can never tell
from so far behind,
or at all, really.

It began innocently.
A tiny fissure.
Barely noticeable.
Nothing a little foundation couldn't hide.

It grew slowly, at first.
An invisible hand dragging a pencil,
or a knife, across a page,
or a face.

A fault line,
the same one that I, and they,
were built upon.

We knew each other,
even those of us
whose eyes had never met.

Like them, I'd walk along the tightrope.

I'd pray for tension
and against the tremor and the crumble and the crack
that would split
it, or me,
wide open.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Julie & Julia Bruschetta

Bruschetta? Who cares!

I am certain that I am not the first person to try and recreate the indulgently drenched in olive oil and fried version of bruschetta prepared by Amy Adams in Julie & Julia. As I watched Julie and her husband devour those crisp slices of bread covered in olive oil, heirloom tomatoes, and basil...well...I knew a week would not pass before I gave it a go in my own kitchen.

Forget one week, I didn't even let two days pass. I was first enticed by a couple of beautifully ripe orange heirloom tomatoes at The Real Food Co. and snatched them up. Yesterday I added to my collection with some juicy and full flavored Early Girl tomatoes from the farmers market. I also found a huge bunch of basil from a Bolinas farmer with a stand I hadn't seen before, I believe it was La Tercera, but I'm not completely sure because I was too focused on the basil. The type of basil she sold was unfamiliar to me, thin stems topped by little globes of tiny basil leaves, loads of them. The nice man at the Acme Bread Co. counter suggested a Long Italian loaf of bread and it was an excellent choice, perfect for this recipe, perfect. I already had garlic, fleur de sel, and my pepper mill was full. I deviated just a smidge from what I saw in the movie by adding one small ripe fig to the mix. A fig might seem a little out of place here, but I've never heard of fried bruschetta either, so I figured, why not?

I began prepping my ingredients about an hour before I planned to eat. Step one was cutting up my tomatoes into traditional bruschetta sized chunks. To my bowl of super ripe and juicy tomatoes I added the little leaves from several basil stems and stirred it around gently with my hand. I topped the tomato basil mixture with one very soft and ripe fig cut into small pieces. Don't add any salt at this point because it will make the tomatoes release their juices and if you've selected ripe tomatoes they'll be juicy enough. Wait and add the salt at the last moment, right before you eat your bruschetta. I then placed a piece of saran over the bowl and walked to the library to return a book.

When I returned from my library walk, after thinking about my bruschetta feast the entire time I was away, I anxiously moved forward. I poured some (I wasn't shy) olive oil into a heavy bottom pan and began to warm the oil over a medium heat. I placed several slices (about 3/4" thick and sliced on an angle) of bread into the pan of warm oil and brushed the top side of the bread with the oil in the pan that was pooling up around the slices. Once I'd covered the top side of the bread with oil I moved the slices around in the pan so the bottom side could absorb more oil. I wanted this bruschetta to look as crazy good as the bruschetta in the movie. Just forget that it is not the bruschetta you know and love and move on. Fat, calories, and Italian tradition were not on my list of priorities.

Once the bread was lightly browned on the bottom side I turned it over and continued heating the bread until it was lightly browned on the other side. The bread should have that overall crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside look.

I removed one slice of bread from the pan at a time and thoroughly rubbed each slice with a 1/2 clove of garlic. Next I spooned mounds of the tomato, basil, and fig mixture on top of the garlicky bread and sprinkled it all with a bit of Fleur de Sel and freshly ground pepper.

I am not exaggerating when I tell you that this meal was absolutely delicious! Yes, the bruschetta alone was my meal. It was all I needed. It will be all you need. I haven't swooned over my food like this in quite a while. I was the only one home and I'll admit to moaning out loud with each and every bite.

We are right in the middle of tomato season and the timing could not be better for a dish such as this that revolves around fresh sun ripened tomatoes. I strongly recommend giving this non-traditional and utterly indulgent version of bruschetta a try. You will not be disappointed.

* I performed an encore at about 10:30 pm, when Chris made it home from a long day at work. He happily devoured a full plate of this goodness and thanked me with a nice kiss (and a couple of bites of his bruschetta).

Choose your dinner companion carefully, this dish begs to be followed by nice kisses.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

place and space

image from one of Liivian Talossa's 2009 posts

I have been admiring the work of Liivian Talossa for quite some time now. The text on her blog was not in a language I recognized, yet her photographs were so beautiful I never felt the need to understand the text. I just returned again and again to see the beautiful imagery she captured.

I've been thinking a lot about place and space lately, the way the space we inhabit influences us in a way that is often difficult to describe. Are these images so mesmerizing to me because of Ms. Talossa's relation to the equator? Is it the culture in which she was raised? Perhaps it is just her way of seeing, inexplicable, and something unique to her and only her. I may never know and that is okay.

My curiosity did prompt me to do a little research this morning and it appears Liivian Talossa is Finnish, but I have no desire to investigate further. I'll leave it at that.

I'm inquisitive by nature and I did have to dip my toe into the research pool to learn a bit about Ms. Talossa, but only ever so slightly. I'm sure her place in this world has something to do with her work, but more importantly, I don't require this information to enjoy her work.

I've been inspired to be a little less curious, let some things sink in for a while before asking questions. These thoughts took root during a visit to one of my favorite spots in San Francisco, SFMOMA's 2nd floor education area, a wonderful space. They have a mini library and furniture to lounge upon and learn about many of the artists in their collection.

While perusing one of these artist books I read an interview with Katharina Fritsch where she referenced her comfort with the unknown and how some things can't be or simply don't have to be explained immediately.

I agree and I believe it was being in this special library space that allowed me to do so.