Friday, December 31, 2010
Sunday, December 26, 2010
First, Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! Last year at this time, I was really just happy to be out of the hospital. All the food tasted like metal because of the antibiotics, but I was home with Jon. This year, I feel pretty happy to just be home with Jon, but there is the bonus that food tastes like food and I have the energy to cook it. I even had a chance to have what I consider a holiday delicacy – coffee lightened with carnation milk. It's something my mother used to do to use up the can of condensed milk opened to make a sweet potato pie. It lends a sweet richness to the coffee and always makes me think of this time of year. It's like having coffee with Mom. The full year's wrap up will be for next week. Right now, I'm focused on being a pretty happy camper with a fridge full of yumminess.
Swiss Chard in My Collards
The reports of rain in Southern California were not exaggerated. The rain was heavy and constant and the temperature was very cool. In short, it wasn't the sort of weather where I could go schlepping about for groceries. Thus, I did much of the food shopping through Jon via remote control. Not that I could control his every move in the market via a remote control. Wouldn't that be something? No, I just gave him a detailed list and we had the cell phone. Overall, the Hubs did really well. But produce is sometimes overlapping in the market. And so, I had Swiss Chard for the first time. Mind, it was mixed in with my collards and prepared in my usual fashion (sauteed onions and garlic, add chicken or turkey stock along with smoked turkey pieces and cooked for a half an hour before adding thinly sliced greens and cooking until tender). The Chard added a sweetness to the collards that was very nice. It was a happy accident. Now, I'm looking for recipes to try the vegetable on its own.
Speaking of recipes and cooking, the Santas in my life gave me gifts were almost all related to food or cooking. I'm very excited about all of the possibilities and hardly know where to begin. There are cookbooks, of course, for new inspirations. One is the gigantic Culinaria Germany. I think it may have every recipe in the whole country in the book. Though I talk a lot about French food, I'm also a fan of German eats. Our family's favorite bakery and deli were run by Germans. I had a lot of exposure to the cuisine, and there is a lot I like about it. I'm looking forward to delving into this cookbook. And then, there is Ina Garten's How Easy is That? I already have a binder full of her recipes from seasons of her show, but I was coveting this book as it is also full of tips to make cooking even easier. I know I'm strange. I do plan to make my own puff pastry and croissants, and I'm looking for simplified recipes. I'm the same in the types of reading I do or television I watch. I enjoy a dense, highly literary read or what Jon calls advanced movie watching. But I still love an easy romance novel or a B movie that a critic might deem dopey. I like varying degrees of difficulty in all of my pursuits. In is a joy to read, because her writing sounds like her speaking. And she has this way of making anything sound doable. Of course, all of this new cooking will have to wait until we eat the fridge full of leftovers. I may not have mentioned it before, but I can't seem to cook just for two at the holidays. We've got food for a party of six for some time to come. But back to the goodies. One of my Santas gave me a very generous gift certificate to F. Oliver's, a purveyor of fine olive oils and vinegars. I oped for a gift pack with three flavored oils and the 18 year old Balsamic vinegar. I highly recommend ordering from them if you can't get to their shop. They ship so very quickly and package so very carefully that their products can go anywhere. I plan to use them for my New Year's Eve spread. I'm so excited about those. Among the many cool things the Hubs got me is a collection of gourmet salts. I've never used anything other than kosher or table salt to cook with, and I've never used a 'finishing salt.' I like this gift pack because it gives me quantities that I can really experiment with and figure out if buying more is worth the expense. And not to leave anyone out, I received two handmade gifts that I will cherish. Chem makes me terribly sensitive to cold, and two lovely ladies have knitted me gifts to ward off the chill. They are really beautiful and I am ever so grateful that they took the time and effort. Overall, I'm really giddy about all my lovely prezzies.
The novel writing is coming along slowly. I won't be able to predict a release date until after my last chemo round in February. All the actors in the various web series are ready and willing when we're able. Estimates on that will have to wait until February as well. There is work on the projects happening without me but not very much. Meanwhile, the deals for the features are going through their paces at full steam. We should be hearing something on those in the next week or so.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Cake Walk No More
Methinks the blog may be every other week until the end of my treatments. If you don't see it up by 5pm Pacific time, I'm likely not posting that week. I'm beginning to feel the full force of the fatigue and the less pleasant side effects from the chemo. It took every bit of a week to feel normal. I wasn't in any danger, and there was no thought of going to an ER. It just took time, a lot of sleep and fluids to rebound. I really appreciate the inquiries and kind words. Keep those and the prayers coming, but please don't worry. According to the Docs, I'm weathering this as I should be. Truth be told, nothing I've gone through with chemo was as bad as it was for me last year when I first went into the hospital. The only real drag were the days when I was too tired and fuzzy headed to do anything but actually watch daytime TV. Usually, I'm writing or reading or cooking with the TV as background noise. I found that it's just as bad as it was last year when I was in the hospital. Thankfully, this year, Tiger Woods isn't in the news and on every channel. This week I was most grateful for two food channels to bounce between.
Mutant Marshmallows and Baking Adventures
By mid-week, I was up and about enough to indulge in some baking and gift assembly. That meant taking on the marshmallows. I've been making these for at least four years now, and they turn out very well. They are amazing in a nice cup of hot cocoa. Still, they remain a challenge to make. I'm still not an expert with candy thermometers. I suspect that my sugar mixture is not precisely 240 degrees Fahrenheit. This time, instead of mixing beautifully in the bottom of the bowl the way they do for Food Network folks like Ina Garten, mine was one ball of white, sticky fluff encasing the mixer's wire whisk. I had three spatulas stuck in the ball before I figured out a way to get the stuff into the pan. I would have taken a photo, but I worried about the mixture hardening and losing the wire whisk forever. I should have tried for a photo. It looked like a piece of modern art. I suppose that's what I could have done if I didn't get the ball smoothed out – sold it as a bit of modern sculpting. Once that was finally over, I had to battle clouds of Dutch processed cocoa floating through the room as I mixed the ingredients for my instant hot cocoa mix. Have you ever breathed in a cloud of Dutch processed cocoa? It tingles.
Strangely, despite all the comedy surrounding the gift assembling, the cookie baking happened with a great deal of efficiency. Perhaps that was because Jon was home at the time. This was the first wave of cookie baking. Those get shipped out hither and yon. I managed to package those without serous mishap. Though, truth be told, I'm glad we don't have a cat. With my current luck, I would have shipped it as well. Still, I'm really pleased to be able to really participate in the holiday season this year. It felt really wrong not doing anything baking-wise last year. I know that it was a major miracle that I was home and walking around, but it still felt wrong. Now, the apartment is filled with the smells of vanilla and cinnamon and other spices. It's just wonderful.
I haven't talked about the film projects much here not because there was nothing going on, but because I was only loosely keeping track of the strange machinations going on around them. I know that things are going on when Ralph asks me for the odd file or to re-write something for a onesheet. I think that Ralph is trying to spare me the emotional highs and lows of the film funding roller coaster by only bringing things to my attention as they become really solid leads. And sometimes he clues me in when I'm feeling down about things. This week was not a stellar one career wise on top of my physical difficulties. I must have sounded bummed on the phone with Ralph, because he let me know the crazy things going on in the background with some of the film projects. Ralph's strategy is to mind his own business and let the random connections come his way. it's a surprisingly effective strategy. Then, he is open and polite to everyone expressing interest is a script. Then, you get them copious amounts of information and wait. What was exciting was the type of connections the randomness brought this time. Our scripts have found their way onto some pretty impressive desks (I can't say whose right now), and it's been flattering that there is real interest in them. I don't know how any of this will turn out which is typical of the process, but the news was what I needed to hear at that time. I had been having trouble focusing enough to write. It's interesting that praise from a well placed stranger would cure that. Whatever the reason, I'm producing pages again. That also makes me feel good.
This week involves an encounter with Craig and a visit to the studio amidst my various appointments. I'm certain that hilarity will ensue.
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
New blog is likely on Sunday.