Thursday, December 13, 2012

Four and Twenty Blackbirds

I dreamed something before leading up to this, something about being at a public bath or in a steam room, but after that I climbed a big hill with Tom. Probably somewhere in Maine or New Hampshire. At the top of the hill we turned around to survey the view and it was breathtaking – a big valley filled with trees, surrounded by rock formations with more trees on them so everything looked lush. In the valley were scattered here and there a-frame houses and cabins and such, some on stilts so the roofs were even with the trees. The whole valley had sort of a small-town vibe, like the way that I picture Jack Kerouac’s home town of Lowell, Massachusetts based on his descriptions from his books.

It was so beautiful and I turned to Tom and said “this is just where I want to live”.

This dream pairs well with the following meal:
Pot Pie: Either with meat or without. Ask your grandmother for her recipe, or, lacking a grandmother:

First you will need to make a pastry crust for a double crust pie. You’ll need 2 sticks of cold butter, a little more than 1 cup flour, ½ tsp of salt and some ice water. Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl (hopefully it’s a hand-me-down bowl, but a newer one will do in a pinch). Cut the butter up into small pieces and throw it into the bowl. With a pastry cutter or your fingers if they are cold, work the butter into the flour until it is the size of peas, corn kernels, small pebbles or small wooden beads. Add ice water to the flour/butter mixture a tablespoonful at a time, mixing it in with your hands until the dough comes together. I’d estimate it will take about 8 tablespoons. If it gets too sticky, add more flour and if it’s too dry and crumbly, add more water. Shape it into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap or better yet, these beeswax cotton wraps, and put it in the fridge or your icebox.
Next the filling. You’ll want things like cubed potatoes, carrots, onions, celery. Whatever vegetables you want or have in your root cellar. Oh, and garlic. Tons of garlic. Sauté all these except the potatoes in butter and add parsley, oregano and thyme. Cook them until they are soft. Add 2 cups of broth, chicken or veggie or what have you, some salt and pepper, and add the potatoes. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender.

If you are using meat, you will need about 2 cups of cooked & cubed chicken or turkey, ½ cup of milk, collected earlier in the day from your dairy cow, about 2 tablespoons or so of freshly churned butter and 3 tablespoons of freshly ground flour from your village’s mill. Melt the butter in a cast iron pan and add the meat and flour, stirring with a handmade wooden spoon to mix. Add the fresh milk and cook just till it’s heated. Then add this mixture to your vegetables and stir and cook until the mixture thickens into a nice gravy. If you aren’t using meat, I think you could just add the flour and milk to the vegetables and cook till it thickens. Turn off the heat and let this sit while you roll out the dough.
Take the pastry dough out of the icebox and divide it in half. Roll out each half on a lightly floured surface, and sprinkle the dough with flour if it starts to stick to your grandmother’s rolling pin. Put one of the halves of dough into a pie pan and pour the filling into it. Put the other half on top and flute the edges. Cut some slits in the top of the dough. Bake in a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes and then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for 20 more minutes or until the crust is golden.

Take it out of the oven and let it cool for a few minutes. Then wrap it in a tea towel, put your Sunday best on and walk down to the village square for the village barn-raising and square dancing party. Bon apetit!

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Mad Style of Rhoda Morgenstern

Last night we were supposed to put the lights on our Christmas tree, but got caught up watching what turned into a Mary Tyler Moore marathon. Mary Richards has kind of a dumb fashion sense, but Rhoda, supposedly Mary's dumpy, chubby BFF? No way, that lady can dress. Anyway, I fell asleep and dreamed that Tom put one string of lights on the tree.

This dream pairs well with the following cocktail:
Ginger-whiskey hot toddy. Take a good sized chunk of ginger, peel it and dice it up. Put it in a pot and fill it with water. Bring it to a boil. The longer you let the ginger boil, the stronger and spicier the ginger flavor will be. In a Japanese teacup (or regular mug, if you must. sigh), pour a shot of good whiskey, like Jameson. Fill it the rest of the way up with the ginger water. Add honey and lemon to taste. This drink is also good without whiskey, and is especially good when you are sick with a cold.

Friday, November 2, 2012


I dreamed I was making soap in my basement. I was stirring a pot of hot water with lye in it. I know that in real life you are supposed to be very careful with lye; when making soap you're supposed to wear gloves and goggles and a mask and avoid breathing the fumes. But there I was, stirring a big aluminum (another big soap- making no no) pot of hot water & lye, getting my face all close to it and dipping my fingers in it. I remember specifically breathing in the fumes.

This dream pairs well with the following meal:
I would say that this time you should make soap, but unless you are prepared to be safe, that's not really a good idea. Instead, how about some good old fashioned lip balm? It's easy. Melt oil and beeswax together in a double boiler. The ratio is up to you. The more oil you use, the softer it will be, and the more beeswax you use, the harder. So really think on it before you make a decision, because once it's made, it's made and there's no going back.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

That Italian Accordian-Type Music

I dreamed that I had my same job somehow, or the same co-workers at least, but we were all working at an (allegedly) upscale Italian restaurant. The kitchen was sort of just a back room and it was really small and cramped. There were piles of restaurant stuff everywhere but I didn't see any food. All of the tables were full of patrons and my co-workers and I were standing in the back looking out into the restaurant, which was in a strip mall. The front of the restaurant was all windows like a strip mall. It was bright outside and dim inside, and staring out the bright windows made it hard for your eyes to adjust when you looked back in the restaurant. Suddenly a huge group of fancy, well-dressed people (one of the ladies had an evening gown, a fur stole and a cigarette on one of those long cigarette holders. Overdressed if you ask me, since it was lunch time) came into the restaurant and seeing that there were no tables available, pushed their way into the kitchen area to wait. My co-workers and I exchanged looks. Suddenly I had an idea pertaining to what my real actual day job is, and I pushed my way outside to talk to my boss about it who was standing on the curb outside the door with a big pile of luggage. He was waiting for a cab to take him to the airport, and I tried to ask him some questions about my idea but he kept laughing to himself and showing me a picture in the paper of Kathie Lee Gifford. Then he told me a story about how he had gotten to hug her as the picture was taken, and his cab pulled up but he kept talking. I went back inside as two rounded corner booths of people were getting up and leaving, and the big group of fancy people were pushing their way to the two tables, not even waiting for the dishes to be removed or the tables to be wiped down.

This dream pairs well with the following meal:
I probably dreamed the Italian restaurant scenario because I recently made spaghetti from scratch for the first time. It was surprisingly easy, despite the fact that the pasta machine’s instructions were translated into English from Italian and made little sense. If you can’t (or won’t) make your own pasta, then find your nearest Italian grocery and buy some fresh pasta there. It will be worth it, trust me. While there, also buy a big can of whole tomatoes, the highest quality that you can afford. To make a sauce, dump the can of tomatoes and their juice into a pot along with 5 tablespoons of butter. Peel an onion and cut it in half, placing the two halfs cut side down into the pot as well. Bring this to a boil and then reduce the heat so that the sauce simmers. Simmer for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally and break up the tomatoes into little bits with a wooden spoon. If you are like me, you will stand over the sauce for 15 minutes meticulously breaking each tomato into uniform small pieces. Taste it constantly. It probably won't need any salt if the tomatoes had salt in them, but feel free to add salt if it's not salty enough for you. While the sauce simmers, spread a red and white checked table cloth over your table, dump all the wine out of the nearest wine bottle (or drink it) and stick a candle in it. Burn the candle down enough so that some wax drips down the sides. Put an Edith Piaf record on the Victrola (yes, I said Edith Piaf. We are international here).

About 5 minutes before the sauce is done (if you did what I said and made the pasta from scratch or at least bought it fresh) bring a big pot of heavily salted water to a boil and once it’s boiling, dump the pasta in and cook for about 2 or 3 minutes, give or take. It will not take long. When the pasta is done, remove and discard the onion from the sauce. In two bowls, ladle a bit of sauce, then put some pasta in, and then ladle more sauce over the top. You must prepare two bowls; if you can’t find anyone to eat the second one then just let it sit there while you eat yours and pretend someone is on their way to eat it but is just running late. You can serve with parmesan but you probably won’t need it. You will definitely not need any bread. Bon appétit!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cabin Fever

I dreamed that Tom and I were in Alabama, standing outside of a rustic looking cabin that was perched on a mossy rock outcropping right next to a big waterfall. It was beautiful. At first we were on vacation, but then it turned into some kind of Hunger Games scenario…we were inside the cabin, and our dog was with us. Tom was going to have to leave the cabin to go somewhere but there was something bad and deadly happening in the woods around the cabin (which now looked exactly like our house on the inside). I was going to stay in the cabin with our dog but I might not be safe from whatever the bad was outside, so we nailed old wooden pallets over all the windows and doors and tried to make the cabin look as empty as possible. I was instructed not to build a fire because we didn’t want anyone to see smoke rising from the chimney. Inside, it was dark and cozy. Tom left, and I was alone with our dog, just waiting for this bad thing to come and try to get me. If it did come, I was supposed to go to the top of the upstairs and climb up through a little trap door into the attic space and hide there, presumeably with the dog.

This dream pairs well with the following meal:
Especially in the event of Hunger Games-type scenarios or anything that happens where you can’t leave your house, it’s a good idea to have a wide selection of dry goods in your pantry, like lentils, beans, rice and other grains. Plus these items are all usually super cheap, even when you buy the organic options because 5 pounds of organic black beans will last a long time. Go to the bulk section of your local co-op or grocery store (hopefully they have one!) and go crazy. Just buy a five pound bag of one type of bean you’d like to try, and one type of grain you’d like to try. You can make soup or stew with just beans, a grain, and water, but you can add any vegetable, broth or meat if you have it on hand. In this case, just because I am thinking of it, let’s say lentil soup with carrots and brown rice. Close all the doors and windows in your house or apartment, draw the curtains or pull down the shades, light some candles or a kerosene lamp if you’re lucky enough to have one, and make this soup.

You’ll need 2 cups of lentils (dry), 1 cup of rice (dry) and as much carrot as you want. You’ll need to pre-cook the rice (put the cup of rice in a pot with a tight fitting lid and add 2 ½ cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 40-50 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.) Meanwhile, put the lentils and enough water to cover them by about 2 or 3 inches in a soup pot, bring to a boil and simmer. Throw the carrot in at some point, and simmer until the lentils are soft. Serve the soup over the rice or throw it right in the pot.

Eat it curled up in a quilt on the floor in the middle of your living room with your dog (or other pet) by your side, listening carefully to the sounds outside in case The Bad Thing might be nearby. Extinguish all lights if you hear a rustling. Bon apetit!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Earthquake Consulting

I dreamed I was inside some sort of Chinese cartoon. Nothing looked like a cartoon, everything looked like real-life, but for some reason I knew that it was a cartoon that I was inside. I had two companions and we all were wearing backpacks because we were on some sort of a mission. My companions were helping me with this mission. The mission involved walking very fast around the inside of a one-story building, like a school. I think we were looking for something. There were lots of rooms with the lights turned off. At the end of the dream, we walked around a corner and there was a man sitting cross-legged on top of a shelf or something that was about shoulder height. He was wearing a cool suit and tie. I say ‘cool’ to mean that he was wearing a suit but the kind that a cool action movie guy does. He also had a backpack and perhaps also a sword. Come to think of it, I think we all had swords. He was waiting for us and was going to help us. He introduced himself. “I’m Sierra Nevada,” he said. “Media Sales and Earthquake Consultant.” Then I woke up and was disappointed because it was getting really exciting in my dream.

This dream pairs well with the following meal:
Something summery; some sort of protein-rich salad that is cold but chock full of nutrients because you’ll need that extra energy to complete your mission. Something with hardboiled eggs and sunflower seeds, avocado, banana peppers, fresh spinach and baby lettuces. Drizzle with a light balsamic vinaigrette. Maybe have a Sierra Nevada to wash it down.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

First in Flight

I dreamed that I could fly, like it was super power that I had recently acquired; all I had to do was stand in the window sill high up in a house and look up at the night sky and the stars and think “fly!” and lift up my arms and I would fly. I had been given some sort of task by someone but I can’t remember what it was. Instead of doing whatever I was supposed to be doing, I flew to an ocean beach where there were many sea creatures: crabs, jellyfish, starfish and so on. My cat was there with me at the beach for some reason and together we were looking in crab holes at bright orange and white crabs. You could see all the way into their holes like they were living rooms with the drapes left open. In some of the larger crab holes, there were mirrors behind the crabs creating an infinity effect, and lights as if they had a lamp inside. There was a box on the beach with water in it and I picked it up and dumped the water back into the ocean, but discovered that there had been a jellyfish inside. I jumped away from the jellyfish and tried to push it back into the water with the box. Then I noticed that I had a painful welt on my right thigh which I assumed was a jellyfish sting, but it looked more like someone had punched me really hard in the leg. 

This dream pairs well with the following meal:
I'm thinking seafood. Maybe shrimp scampi? Or grilled shrimp with herb butter? Or coconut shrimp? Let's go with coconut shrimp. I've never actually made that from scratch so my advice is to go to a restaurant that has them on the menu. It's good to treat yourself sometimes and also coconut shrimp are better if they're deep fried, and sometimes deep frying is daunting at home.