It’s been a bit of a whirlwind around here since I last touched base.
Lots going on around here.
We’ve been visiting friends, and we got invited to a kid’s birthday party with a superhero theme.
I remembered that about a dozen years ago I’d made the kids capes of their own, and miraculously I was able to locate them.
My kids are good sports and they really like the family who was hosting the party, so on they went.
One of our neighbors was particularly excited to see Oliver dressed up.
Charlotte and I have been hanging out a lot, babysitting for the neighbor’s daughter (we’re crazy for her)
taking her around the neighborhood and to the park for picnics.
Speaking of picnics, I’ve been having the best time putting together portable picnics — and this kind of 90’s weather is the perfect time to enjoy light nibbling.
Here’s one I brought to a friend’s house when she invited me over for a glass of wine.
And here’s another one of the several picnic bags I’ve dropped off to friends who’ve either gone on a long flight or embarked on a grueling driving trip.
I read some tips on cheese boards and they’ve really resonated with me. Some of the things I’ve read you should do is include a soft, a hard and a tangy cheese, include both dried and fresh fruit, add some charcuterie into the mix and vary the vessels for carrying the goodies into your mouth.
Lastly, always include a surprise to the mix like the homemade truffled Marcona almonds I whipped up in minutes.
Leftover almonds, while unlikely, are great pretty much anywhere.
And if you were flying to Paris, wouldn’t you love to have this at the ready when the hunger pangs arrive?
(The red gingham bags were labelled “Monsieur” and “Madame” were filled with an assortment of different crackers and breads.)
My hubby has had a couple big weeks.
First a birthday — complete with a homemade sushi blowout.
His favorite is shrimp and avocado and beef and cucumber — so there was lots of that.
And then there was something pretty awful he’s been putting off for a while — but absolutely necessary.
Welcome to a complete shoulder replacement.
He’s been suffering with pain from all the tears in his right shoulder for months — so this week was the time to do that.
I guess that means there’s going to be a lot of hand-held foods in the weeks to come.
And on top of all this, Oliver had maybe the biggest two weeks of his life.
First up, he got his driver’s license.
Although I was originally nervous about having a teenage driver, I have to say it’s really wonderful to have another driver in the house.
He loves to go on short drives, and that makes him the ideal grocery shopper.
He gets that I’m a super picky shopper so he will Face Time meet when he’s, say, at the butcher counter, so I get exactly what and how much I need.
Or I can decide over the phone if the radicchio or the butter lettuce is calling me.
Another big thing with Oliver is he wrote an Op Ed that was picked up by the Oregonian — a terrific piece about his high school and the self-censorship and derision that follows sharing political views outside the liberal ones shared by the majority of his peers.
It was a really terrific piece. He talked about how he’s a progressive liberal but he hates that free speech isn’t being practiced — and how it is symptomatic of a larger problem in which the two very different sides of the spectrum aren’t talking to one another. We are just tuning each other out — or worse, silencing those with opposite views.
Here’s an excerpt.
“The ideological monotony within my school is painfully obvious. I’m now entering my fourth year in high school, but have yet to meet a single student willing to openly declare himself a Republican. Is it really possible that, out of the 1,500 kids in my school, not a single one even leans conservative? No, it’s not. Instead, a number of students have told me privately that peer pressure and their fear of incurring the wrath of today’s blasphemy-hunting political scolds has led them to keep silent.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not a conservative, nor am I a Trump supporter. But I’d like to be able to talk to one, to debate with one, to learn from one. However, in an atmosphere where different ideas are met with harsh disapproval, this simply cannot happen.”
Well, this Op Ed went viral, getting thousands of shares and comments — and here’s the link to the article if you want to read it.
This Op Ed then led to a mini-run of publicity here for Oliver in Portland.
Suddenly Oliver was on Oregon Public Radio being interviewed on their nationally broadcast Think Out Loud and on the other side of the political spectrum, on Lars Larson’s talk radio program.
Lastly, a local TV station called him and interviewed him. You can watch a part of that interview here on this news segment.
So it’s been crazy around here.
In the midst of all this, I got together with my Cook Book Group and we all made food from this book.
We met up at Renee’s house and because everyone in the group is a fantastic cook, the spread was spectacular and the recipes came out terrifically.
I made two recipes: Asparagus with Brown Butter and Hazelnuts and a Chickpea Salad with Cucumber and Feta.
Dessert was a luscious Apricot Upside Down Cake.
Boy do I enjoy this group and our shared meals. It’s so interesting to deep dive a fascinating cookbook and it’s like going out for dinner but better — less expensive and more relaxing and with no rushing to open up a table.
I loved every dish we sampled, but I have to say my favorite were the ribs — spicy, tangy, crispy, with the most succulent meat imaginable (they roast in a beer bath before hitting the grill).
Here’s a snapshot of the recipe.
I’ve since made them at home, and they were no less delicious — and the usage of fish sauce and Korean gochujang sauce (a red chile paste that’s fermented and addictive).
Time to dash.
Next time I’d love to show you some of the vintage treasures I’ve found lately and some of the nibbles we’ve been enjoying around town.
Until then, love from our crew to yours.