Saturday, January 29, 2011

I thought the house was extra quiet...

Guess who didn't come home last night?

Meet Ferris. Our not-quite orange, almost pink kitty.

He is our favorite little weirdo.

He loves to manipulate objects, and is often found where things have been dragged, pushed, shoved, tumbled, or knocked over.

He is a fearless, and very successful, hunter: gophers beware!

He is a luver cat... full of nose kisses, and affection. When he is in the mood, he is relentless, all purr and paws, and those slobbery little kisses on the nose.

When Ferris isn't purring and napping, he is getting himself into some kind of trouble or another. Popoki.

One more thing I have not mentioned about Ferris... he loves cars. He loves to sleep on Geoff's Mini. And he loves to explore inside our Odyssey. He is even happy to go for a ride. Sometimes we bring him along on errands around town, and he happily picks a lap to cozy on, then watches the sights go whizzing by.

Last night, unseen, Ferris got into the Odyssey, and that is exactly where Geoff found him this morning: pawing, like a frantic puppy, on the window, hoping to get someone's attention. "Come see the saddest thing in the world," Geoff called to me. I thought he meant something like a cornered gopher, or a discarded chocolate cake, not a weirdo kitty begging to come out of the family ride!

Poor, poor kitty.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Totally Out of Focus

Zoltar was dragged out of bed the other night to help Alex complete his Japanese III final project. Alex made a movie about his pets, their characteristics and features, their funny natures. He counted them... counting in Japanese is interesting. And by "interesting," I mean really kinda funny. Depending on what you are counting, there are different numbers or words for different categories or subjects. Like, 'small furry things' have different numbering words than 'shiny objects.'

Incidentally, Zoltar likes being in movies. He was not too happy about being lifted from the roost, but once he was inside, under the soft glow of the limelight, he was ready to get signed up with an agent, find a good manager. While I don't get actual credit in Alex's movie, I was technically speaking, the talent handler. I brought in one rabbit, a rooster, and two cat-nipped cats. The ratty rats were counted, but not featured in any of the live-action segments.

So, if you are wondering...Why is she posting blurry photos, and rambling on about counting rats in Japanese?

The answer would be: because I am blurry, and out of focus, and I am not even sure this is happening in real life. I might be in a dream. I might be four levels down, in dream worlds, inside dream worlds. That's right, I am still all turned around since the boys made me watch "Inception." Also, life has been thick and restless lately. And by "restless" I mean, I totally need sleep.

So, if you are wondering...Why is she blogging at all? Why doesn't she go to bed? Why does she think any of this is even going to be read, by anyone?

The answer would be: good question.

Hey, I freely admit that I do not always have worthwhile things to say, or share, and so let us consider some blogs that do have something to say...

The always bright and graceful, Nikkipolani gave my lazy pizza a try and twist. She is an amazing cook, and I knew that if she made lazy pizza, it would come out beautifully, with personalized flavors, and helpful suggestions for temperature and cooking time. Even though it hasn't been a week since I last had pizza, when I read her account, "Perfectly delicious with the crisp-chewy ciabatta and tender flavorful topping with just enough melty cheesy goodness. Comfort indeed," I am ready to dive into her pizza right now!

Normally, I visit PamKittyMorning for some quilting inspiration, plus she often has a bunny visitor, and something funny or cheerful to say about life. But she did something "Random" this week, and my funny bone has never been happier. Thanks to PKM, I have found Portlandia, a magical land, where young people go to retire. With respect, admiration, even a bit of envy, I humbly laugh out loud at the wonder that is Portland, Oregon. I am laughing at how very familiar those segments are... not only from blogs I read, but even my own obsessions with being a mindful consumer, and living in my own Bird House! I am so totally in peril of being bird-decor obsessed. Save me! One more segment, in honor of robotics, T-shirts, yellow and blue, strategy, team play, dedication, after parties, and going to the championships!

Okay. With resolve, and humor, I am ready to face the day. I am ready to vanquish leftover viral and microbial infestations! I am ready to wash, dry, fold, and delegate! I am prepared to be really frickin' tired, and yet not surrender. I am willing to go forward, and God willing the focus will follow.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Lazy Pizza

Sometimes it's not easy to think of a good title for a post.

Lazy Pizza?

Kinda lame.

I dunno. I almost called it "A Grate Dinner!"

Never mind.

The other night I was wanting some veggies, some warmth, some comfort, some intense flavors, so I turned to our favorite pizza-night recipe, and got busy grating and chopping.

Look at this yummyness... who cares about my inner voice(s), and cravings, when confronted with this delicacy of culinary delight?

If you happen to be headed to the market, you may want to add these to your list, or maybe you have some good stuff already waiting to be tossed together and baked golden and savory.

1. Ciabatta loaf, or any favorite loaf of bread. I like mine kinda of light, so I get more topping than bread.
2. Zucchini. I think one medium-small will do.
3. A small onion, or half an onion, or less... how much do you like onion?
4. Garlic. Lots.
5. Basil. Fresh.
6. Tomatoes... whichever look irresistible. I realize this recipe may be a cruel reminder to some, that in California we don't know winter from a day in July. Forgive me.
7. Olive Oil
8. Black pepper
9. Salt
10. Crushed red pepper
11. Cheese. I love Trader Giotto's bag of grated cheeses... Parmesan, Asiago, Fontina and Provolone. Mozzarella would work. Maybe even some Jack cheese. What do you like?

Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.

I grate the zucchini straight into a big mixing bowl. This entire recipe is about personal preferences. Choose your ratios to suit your tastes. I cook this way, which is why no one will ever ask me to write a cookbook.

After the basil is rinsed and patted dry, I pluck off leaves, stack them, then cut them into strips. I was going to say "Julienne," but that looks slightly narrower than what I do. Hey. Guess what? Slice the basil however you think is best. It will work. I know it.

Onion can get powerful, so I like to slice it thin Julienne the onion, and depending on how strong it seems, how badly I am crying, I add more or less.

I am sorry. These measurements are even more lame than the post's title.

Guess where I found these sweet, pretty little pearl tomatoes? I use whatever tomatoes are available, that look flavorful. And since the rest of the ingredients are so delicious, they can kind of cover for less than perfect tomatoes. Chop them up. Bite size. I like them small, so that the surface of the fruit gets some pepper, some olive oil... some sabor!

I like to start mixing the ingredients as this point. I have added a dash of black pepper, maybe some crushed red pepper, and I want to see how those red tomatoes are looking mixed in with the greens and whites. If I see a lot more green than red, then it makes me uneasy. It's like a disturbance in the force and I start chopping and adding more tomatoes. I cook this way, which is why no one will ever ask me to write a cookbook.

I *HEART* garlic. Sometimes I will mince it for this recipe, and then in the oven the little bits of garlic toast-up, and I love biting into the hot-sweet bite of garlicness. This time I wanted to get an infusion of garlic-love throughout my lazy pizza, so I crushed the garlic. And by "crush," I mean I really creamed it, smashing, and destroying it with the flat of a wide knife. And this is also when I introduced some salt to the mix. By sprinkling some kosher salt over the crushed garlic, then crushing it further with the flat side of a wide knife, the salt will release more garlic juice and flavor. It makes the salt flavorful and garlic intense, it promotes vim and vigor, and enhances sensations of contentment.

I feel better just thinking of it.

I heard the Packers are going to the SuperBowl. Huh... wonder what made me think of that?

Anyway. Get some cheese. I am lazy. And I keep grated cheese on hand, so I do not have to impede dinner progress any more than necessary. At this point in the process, four children are circling and eyeballing me. I could hear stomachs rumbling.

I added two handfuls of this grated cheese mix. I do not make this an oozy-gooey cheesy dish. I add enough for flavor and to kind of gently hold stuff together. And I also sprinkle a bit more once the toppings are on the bread, also to keep stuff in place. Again, do what you like. Make it yours. Your lazy pizza is going to be delicious.

The last thing I do is drizzle olive oil over everything in the big bowl. And by the way, if I wasn't clear... everything is in the big bowl. This is a lazy-big-bowl kind of recipe. Do not drown the ingredients in the olive oil, yet do not be stingy. Think of it like a lightly dressed salad at this point. Mix it well, so the smashed-crushed garlic does not clump into one unfortunate bite. Get all those tomatoes peppery and mingling with the zukes! It is a red-green-white party.

If Geoff walks through the kitchen at this point, he will start serving himself the pizza topping like salad. This happens to make me happy.

Split the loaf. This one was even a bit stale. It will be rescued, and have a new life as a toasted, tasty, lazy pizza.

The oven has been pre-heating, and it has reached 450˚ farenhiet farenheit fharenhight hot. In go the lazy pizzas, and even though I have them on a cookie sheet, I actually baked them on pizza stones that were sitting in the oven.

You may have guessed this already: I did not time this.

It started to smell crazy good, the children were insisting that they really were hungry... these were my done-ness indicators, and since the pizzas looked good enough to eat, I pulled them out of the oven.

So many possibilities... I would love this with some Kalamata olives sprinkled in the mix, and I would not turn away nicely roasted artichokes poking up from beneath the cheese.

Thank you.
Happy Monday.
Have a great week.
The End.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Missing :: Part Five

Happy Birthday Geoff
This may be one of those rare years when you actually get what you ask for... a low key birthday. No fanfare, no surprises, no guest list, no themes, certainly no clowns... I would never. Every day you do something, or many things, to show us your love and devotion, and every day I am happy we have you in our lives. Today, extra specially, I hope you see that we love you, and are devoted to you.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Our visit to Hawaii, 2004, is almost through. We spent that birthday celebrating with Geoff at the farm acres in Kalopa. There were gifts, and the promise of an all boy camp out. Rain wasn't part of the plan, but it came anyway. It was an interesting night...

Being pregnant, desiring sleep and indoor plumbing, I went into town to stay in a quaint, rustic, local dive place. It was comfortable and charming, with a great view, and some interesting extras.

Meanwhile... back at the farm: Geoff took a queen size inflatable bed into the tent. You can clear cane grass from the Island slopes, but you can never remove all of the lava rocks, which seem to rise sharply from the earth no matter how often you try to make the ground clear and comfortable.

Believe it or not, Hawaii is cold in winter. It certainly was cold on this trip, in the rain. In the tent, as I am told, the boys settled in, making use of blankets and beach towels, for warmth. They probably tried reading by flashlight. They were probably looking forward to sleep... but Geoff heard a hhssssssss and in the dim light, tired and cold, he found the culprit... a jagged, mean rock poked a small hole through the air mattress, and they were going down. Determined not to lose sleep or warmth, Geoff, like a true Dutchman, reached under his mattress and stuck his finger over the hole, and firmly decided he would hold this position for the entire night. Poor Geoff. Poor boys. It was one of those memorable camping trips, when the night goes on forever, cold, damp, and unprotected from lava rocks rising from the earth.

Back at the Inn of Rustic Charm, I was settling in for the night, and trying not to hear the honeymooners in the next room. Single panel walls, and open transom windows made privacy an impossibility. Small towns tend to close down after sunset, but it seemed that all traffic had left the quiet streets and moved to the hallway of the hotel. People were coming and going and talking story late into the night. Friendly voices at least. Down the hall, where the bathroom was, I noticed there was a common refrigerator for guests. Taped securely on the door, a friendly reminder: Guests, Please Do Not Store Your Drugs In Here. Good to know.

Geoff and Corm

Reunited the next morning, we all had our own stories to talk, about our sleepless night. Good thing we were on vacation. Taking things easy. Island Style.

Tutu and Max, watering the pineapples

We headed back to Kona. Back to beaches, and wild turkeys, back to bake a birthday treat for Geoff.

My very first impression of Hawaii, came as a surprise. Having seen lush tropical beach postcards, and resort images all my life, I was really stunned to arrive in Kona and find it looked like a ginormous baked brownie. Wide fields of sun baked lava flowing for miles, with ripples and cracks, like rich, dark chocolate... I have never forgotten this impression. And from the airport, south to Kailua town, people take the sun bleached white coral and write messages on the brown lava... they make well wishes, and Ironman cheers.

The coral is a temporary graffiti sitting on the lava field message boards, and this was the inspiration for the cake we wanted to make for Geoff's birthday. We baked him a brownie lava field, and then looked for coral substitutes. Marshmallows were too big, and too sticky when we broke them down.

We ended up using walnut pieces and gave Geoff birthday Aloha spelled across the brownie. We were amused, and pleased with ourselves!

Max and Tutu, reading a favorite book.

And the rest of the day, thankfully, was restful and quiet. We squeezed in last bits of fun. We packed for the flight home.

Going back to the TreeHouse, to our cats and rabbits, to school books, and laundry. I am so glad I brought out these pictures, that we have these lovely, sweet memories.