Recapitulating 2005

On the plus side:

  • my personal discovery of cocoa nibs, a delicious ingredient that makes your average chocolate bar SUPER FINE
  • acupuncture
  • my family, including the cats
  • the swimming hole
  • our Summer Reunion
  • Gorillaz!

Needs improvement:

  • French skills (current self-rating: 3 out of 10)
  • rock-climbing skills (0 out of 10--interest is high though)
  • correspondence habits (4 out of 10)
  • remembering to post things to this blog (4 out of 10)
  • amount of money spent on car repair (but HOW?)

Looking forward to 2006. Finally, a holiday with no religious OR political overtones. I don't think. Maybe the extra second they're adding will turn out to be muy controversial though. Here's to it.

"I'm eatin' chowda!"

The line "I'm eatin' chowda!" is a running joke in our family about the important types of things people tell each other when they're talking on cell phones in public. If I had a cell phone, I would have been able to say it this afternoon as I lunched on an excellent clam chowder I concocted all by myself. I can't really say I invented it, cuz it's pretty much like every other chowder. Basically I just put in chowdery things in the most pleasing order I could think of, and here it is.

1 onion, chopped
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 T butter
1 jar/bottle of clam juice (8 oz.)
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 large russet potatoes, cut into soup-sized chunks
1 cup corn (frozen is fine)
2 cans of clams, NOT drained (the taller soup-can size, not the small tuna-can size)
2 cups milk
your thickener of choice
salt and pepper

Saute bacon and onion together in the butter until browned and bacon-y smelling. Add the clam juice. Drain the juice off the canned clams and add that too--should be about a cup. Put corn, potatoes and celery in. If needed, add a bit of water to cover the potatoes. Simmer for 20 minutes until the potatoes are tender.

Add the clams and heat through. Then add the milk. Now it's time to thicken. I used about 2T kuzu (a macrobiotic thickener that looks and acts like cornstarch). Cornstarch would also work, and probably a paste of flour and water would be fine too. The point is to just thicken the chowder a bit so it's creamy, not milky. Heat until the thickener has done its job. Season with salt and pepper. That's it!

I'm thinking this could be a decent potato or corn chowder if you just leave out the clammy ingredients. Maybe use stock instead of clam juice, and just add extra potato or corn at the simmer phase.

"Now I'm eatin' crackers..."

It's all gravy: Pork tenderloin with mustard cream sauce

I recently invented this fine sauce. I had a pork recipe that called for a sauce made from port and cherries. But that sounded a little overblown and SWEET, so I came up with a mustard cream sauce instead. Try it on seared pork tenderloin!

1 onion
3 T grainy mustard
1/2 cup heavy cream (or more)
1 T green peppercorns (the kind in a jar)
salt & pepper

Ideally you will have a pan in which you have just browned your pork (and then possibly you put the pork in the oven to finish off). Put the pan back on the burner and saute the onions until they've started to soften and brown.

Turn the burner down a bit and add the mustard. Stir. Then pour in the cream. Stir everything around, making sure to scrape up any savory bits stuck to the pan. Add the peppercorns and salt and pepper. Taste. If it's not punchy enough, add more mustard. If there's not enough to go around, add more cream.

This sauce will hold for a good 15 minutes over low heat. The cream will evaporate more & more though, so if your sauce starts to disappear, add a touch more cream, or even some water, and reheat right before you spoon it onto plates.

I'm sure this would be divine on other meats too. Thank you dear pigs.


There’s a magazine called Vanity Fair. Sure, it's famous for puff pieces (c.f. Kimora Lee Simmons profile, Kate Moss profile, frickin’ RONALD REAGAN profile). But I keep subscribing, mostly because I like the tales of Old Hollywood. (Other family members enjoy the cranky political articles.)

I'm not complaining about Vanity Fair. (Fametracker already does an excellent job in the Blue Moons section.) I am here to borrow from it. I’ve noticed there’s a half-page feature in which celebrities-I’ve-never-heard-of tell us what kind of jeans they wear, what kind of coffee they drink, what kind of stereo they have, and so forth. Kind of like a celebrity endorsement, kind of like a “what’s hot” list, kind of like a lame-o yearbook entry. Anyway, here's my own version. Some brand names included!

lipbalm: Weleda Everon
shampoo: Aubrey organics (blue camomile & camomile)
soap: Dr. Bronner's peppermint (bulk, liquid)
water: tap
sheets: hand-me-down flannel
lotion: homemade from Rosemary Gladstar’s recipe
journal: National Brand Backpacker notebook (3 subject with pockets in dividers)
pen: Bic 4-color retractable
last 3 computers: Mac
previous computer: Timex Sinclair 2068
first computer: Timex Sinclair 1000 (These last 2 were more my dad’s than mine, but whatever)
Day Planner: Llewellyn's Witches' Date book (Switching to We'Moon in 2006)
Latest snack obsession: Dr. Kracker Sunflower Cheese or Pumpkin Seed Cheese flatbread
Food for cats: Hill’s c/d (I don’t really approve because it contains BHT, but the vet scared me into it)
Ale: St. Peter’s
Footwear: Earth, when I can afford it
Internet news source:
Stereo system: yard sale
Favorite can o’ soup: Progresso Chickarina (contains both MSG and pull-top!)
Pill: Darvocet (I only took 3 in my whole life! And I had a prescription!)
bike: Schwinn
corporate giant’s products I reluctantly can’t live without: Unilever (cuz of the sustainable palm oil. Just kidding! Actually because of the Hellman’s & Ben & Jerry’s)
Fruit: mmmmmmmMinneola
Flashlight: I can’t remember the brand. It’s yellow and takes a D battery.
Hero of the bounding main: Captain James Cook

Cheers, mates.