Know Your Persimmons

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Fuyu: The round, squat persimmon often mistaken for a tomato. These persimmons are hard and dense, taking into acount they're many large seeds they aren't pleasant to bite into. Chopped, sliced, and diced, their cloyingly sweet, slightly chalky flavor (if at all underripe) makes them a popular option for salads, baking into pies and tarts, and for snacking. Look for fujis with a slight give when you squeeze them. If they're hard as a rock, don't eat it yet.
Hachiya: Radiant orange hues and a hardy heart shape define the hachiya. When firm they're incredibly astringent and practically inedible. It's only when they're so ripe and squishy that they feel that they may come apart in your hand are they edible. Indeed it should be totally gelatinous. Sweet and floral, they're perfume flavor is perfect for baking or simply eating with a spoon.Hybrid / Pollination Variants (More often than not these won't be at the store, but at a farmer's market or roadside stand)

Amagaki: A hybrid between Hachiya and Fuji - a persimmon love child of sorts. It's actually a variety developed locally here in Sacramento by Twin Peaks farm. They are, in my opinion, the best persimmon variety. Not too gushy, not too hard, but with the bite-feel of a soft ripe pear. Just sweet enough as well that I can easily finish it, unlike the fuji or hachiya which I usually share due to their overpowering sweetness.Maru (aka: cinnamon persimmon): Supposedly spicy sweet and somewhat spicy and possess and dark burnt orange color and a cinnamon colored flesh. I haven't tired one of these hybrids before, so I can't say much. I understand they store incredibly well and are very juciy. Another one perfect for eating straight.

Tsurunoko (aka: chocolate persimmon): Called the chocolate persimmon not for its flavor but its dark brown color. Indeed the inside is a dark tan color, and often mottled with color imperfections making it look rotten when bit or cut into. However the flavor is sweet and much more mild than other persimmon varieties. Tried one at work and I enjoyed it though I had to get over the appearance as it looked rotted (no picture, sorries).

Hyakume (aka: brown sugar Persimmon): Very sweet and somewhat astringent it's a case of extremes making them almost inedible to most people when ripe. However, when dried out they becomes incredibly sweet with a slight molasses-y taste of brown sugar. Again, no picture as I didn't have my camera at work.

These are the ones you can usually find here in the U.S. and by that I mean most likely California. However, in Japan you can find endless varieties such as Okame and Nightengale.

For another great resource check out this persimmon profile from Figs With Bri, or for persimmon recipes check out the Food Blog Search page.

My Thanksgiving Menu & Thanks

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Vanilla Cinnamon Cranberry Sauce
Mashed Potatoes with Garlic
Caramelized Brussel Sprouts
Baked Ham with Brown Sugar Spice Glaze
Cranberry Sorbet
Cinnamon Blondies

Something simple, easy, perfect for four.

So now comes the part where we all say why we're thankful that the turkey died for our sins*. Me? I'm thankful that my life is complacent. It's not perfect, but I have a good job(s), great friends, a good education, wonderful family. I am surrounded by people who care about me. I have two cats who piss me off to no end, but I wouldn't give up for the world. I have a roof over my head. A car that gets me from place to place. I eat well, and am able to cook for pleasure.

There is always room to bitch and complain about everything in life, but in the long run, I'm more than blessed for the life that I have. So, I guess I am thankful that everything is status quo.

Happy Thanksgiving.*if I had any fundamentalist readers, I just lost them for that one

Preggers and The Peon

Monday, November 24, 2008

From the Archives, because finals are approaching as is Turkey Day, so time to write very hard to find. Blame my professors and/or the pilgrims.

So today at the nearby coffee shop, I was waiting for a friend to get their drink while I quietly sipped my tea patiently aside. Then suddenly:

"What do you mean no free re-fills!?"

"Sir, I'm sorry," said the high school age, part time, coffee shop person behind the counter. "We don't offer re-fills on mochas."

"WHAT KIND OF COMMUNIST COFFEE SHOP IS THIS!?!?" as he slammed his fist on the counter.

This guy was totally losing it. Like might start waving a gun and offing people losing it. The poor girl was petrified. As was pretty much everyone else. The whole place went silent. Where the hell was the management?

"I'm sorry sir," she trembled and stuttered, trying to find her words," I don't think any place does."


Now, I dunno where this guy normally gets his coffee, but mochas are expensive things to make when it comes down to coffee shops because the large amounts of chocolate they need to purchase are one of the costliest ingredients to stock. Doing free refills would be asking for a small piece of financial doom. The Peon however, was in no mood to hear it.

"What kind of place is this!? Where people like you try to rip off good people. You-" The Peon thrusted his finger at her for emphasis and out of sheer poo-headedness,"-are why people can't be trusted in this country! Just give me my fucking mocha!"

I was wondering where he came to that conclusion, but also wanting to step in and say something, but I, my friend, and everyone else is equally frozen in their spots. And as much as I wanted to say something, the whole he might have a gun thought edged it's way into my mind. I'm sure I'm not the only one. It's a sad state when that's the first thought to enter a person's mind when placed in a situation like this.

"Would you shut up. You're scaring the poor girl, and if anybody is a problem here, it's you." A powerful voice cuts the thick tension.

I turned to see the largely pregnant woman with a steaming cup in one hand, and her other hand resting on her hip giving the man a look that asked who-the-hell-and-what-for-?.

The Peon turned to his new assailant, "You stay out of my business lady! What the hell do you know!? Should a pregnant lady even be drinking coffee!?"

"It's tea dumbass, and in a second it's gonna be a direct cause of skin grafts in between your legs if you don't shut the hell up. Now get along before you have to explain to people a pregnant woman kicked your ass."

He shut up. I guess The Peon wasn't used to people challenging him. Realizing Preggers would probably follow through on her threat, he gave her a quick "fuck you" before turning to leave and screaming he'd never come here again.

"Some people..." she muttered.

I smiled and turned to her. "Lady, I think you just said everything I ever wanted to say when I worked in a coffee shop."

Everyone started applauding her.

The girl behind the counter chimed in, "Wow. What the hell was his problem? My god, I wish I could have said that. That was awesome."

"Honey," Preggers noted, "when you work in a truck stop for four years, these coffee nuts are nuthin'."

Damn. Don't mess with those pregnant truck stop women. They will MESS. YOU. UP. And remember to be courteous when ordering coffee; one of them could be right behind you.

Drama < Hot Cocoa

Friday, November 21, 2008

"Hey, Garrett!"

Waiting for my peppermint hot cocoa behind a line of people long enough to start a rousing game of Red Rover, Red Rover with I turn around and see L, a satellite acquaintance I've known over the past few years. Not really a friend, but someone I know through other people and have encountered plenty of times and had a few forgettable conversations with. L is one of those people I have little respect for. Very sexy, smart, successful but conceited to the point where I feel that some Narccissian death with a shiny moving car grill that gives a nice reflection will probably be his end. Moreover, he's only pretty to look at until he opens his mouth.

"Hey L, been a while, how are you?"

"Pretty good, just working at the office still. I hate it and want to tear off my skin everyday but the pay is good."

"Well, as long as you have something to look forward to at the end of the day." I laugh. We laugh. Not because I think it's funny per se', rather I think it's sad, but I laugh because I can't think of any other sort of reply.

"So what have you been up to?"

"Oh, work at the non-profit still. Grad classes at night. Writing here and there and developing recipes on the side. A lot of stuff, but I'm happy doing all of it. I've chosen professions known for paying poorly: writing, cooking, and teaching once I graduate." It's a staple answer and staple joke I use in these passing situations where I have to sum up my life in under ten seconds.

"Awesome. Hey, so last night I hooked up with your ex."

"Uh... wha? Who?" I'm stunned. I mean literally, my mind is just stopped and my heart gets a bit racy and erratic. As Rob and I only split back in April, this seems awfully fast to me.

"Yeah, A. Hope you're not mad. I figured you may have heard about it."

"Huh, him?" My body returns to it's calm and regular state with the clarification. You see, A is my ex from about 5 years ago. We had dated for 8 months. While heart breaking back then, I never give a thought to him anymore. As time went on we became more and more different people than who we were before. I doubt we even have anything in common anymore. I have said hi once or twice but for the most part we don't talk, but I still hold a respect for him. As for how I might have heard of it, we don't really run in the same circles and like I said, A and I never talk. L is informing me because he knows I would otherwise be unaware of the fact. For him to bring this up out of the blue like this is just a queer plot* to attack me on the emotional level.

"No, not at all. Go crazy. I haven't talked to him in years." And it's the truth, I honestly don't give a damn. I am annoyed by the turn of the conversation though. For absolutely no reason, a relative stranger felt some strange need to try and hurt my feelings for no particular purpose except to be a total douche and a tool.

All humans have an innate need to exert power and control over others, maybe not all the time, but it's hardwired into our psyche through biology and by society that dominance has value. This sense is more heavily instilled in some more than others. It gives a feeling of power, for if we can control the feelings of others, then how can we NOT be in control of our own? I think that's the general reasoning behind it; some sort of self needing drive to validate one's self.

"Oh. So..." his angular expression seems to express a slight confusion. I haven't reacted as planned. I sense he will be in a pout about this later.

The coffee girl calls up my order and slides the steamy hot cocoa, no whipped cream, along the counter to me. I glide around L, and grab it, and begin reaching for a lid as I speak out loud so he can hear me as he stares at my back. "A is good people, so be nice to him. Anywhose, I have to get back to work." I turn around a flash a slight smile.

And out the door I go. I roll my eyes so hard I can see the back of my skull. I pride myself in trying to avoid drama but sometimes it just seeks you out and tries to pull you in. However, I do not have time for drama to be makin' my cocoa cold.

*double entendre not intended

Oh Noes! The Internet is Angry With Me!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Today has been one of those days. Actually one of those weeks, for a variety of reasons. Almost all of them personal with which I promise not to throw up on here like so much drama infused, pitch colored bile. Indeed, I've been placing myself in a state of perpetual catharsis (read: bitching uncontrollably) to almost anyone with an ear. It's surprising I haven't driven anyone insane with my Fury-esque songs. Lucky are those whom I haven't carried out practical, and feasibly able to be accomplished vengeance upon, my fury fueled plans laid out well enough to keep me above reproach or retribution (in legal view, at least) to certain people deserving it.

Anyways, one aspect of my torment has been the virtual flood of hate mail recently. It's astounding, really. I actually take it as good news. It means people are reading, and if you hate me enough to write me, 10-1 you're probably going to come back to see what I might have written to piss you off this week. This ups my site meter numbers and brings in more advertising revenue for me (what meager amount I make, that is).

So not so much torment, but mild entertainment. Some people really took offense to these last few posts. You may not have read it in the comments (I rejected a great many as they were wastes of space and not productive in any sense) but there were plenty pissed off. And God knows we can't have people unhappy. NOT ON THE INTERNET.

I have been screamed at that I am a racist and was using this post as an excuse to say the "N-Word" on the web and attempt to get away with it. I suppose they think I get a cheap thrill through typing forbidden language on a public journal. I have received a scathing death threat not to make light on the murder of the millions of innocent cows (or steer as it were) for our evil consumption of beef. I have been called highly irresponsible in my pet care as well, and that the SPCA should break down my door to rescue my pets. The way I see it, pets are like children, it is impossible to watch them every second of every day, and shit is bound to happen. Plus, you can't always plan for the unexpected, so deal. Plus, I think it's funny that the cat likes hard liquor. Vegetarians are angry that I poked fun at them, when indeed I poked fun and inaccurately picky eaters. To you I say nothing because as I type this I'm eating a piece of leftover pork roast (Nom nom nom).

For the most part, I've been forwarding your e-mails to friends or reading them aloud at the lunch table at work. I hope to publish them in a book someday so please, keep sending them in. They are always appreciated.

As for the next topic for you hate mail writers: Italian food. I don't like it. Also, the Olive Garden blows.

The Beef Fairy

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How People Think Beef is Made:

Persimmon Blondies

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A simple recipe adapted from my main recipe. Crazy tasty and easy to throw together. Did it out of boredom when I had a persimmon just ready for cooking. It's fruity, subtly spiced, and crazy sweet. Very different from normal persimmon cake or pudding, it seems to straddle the fence between the two.

I'm actually quite happy with the result, so much so I plan to serve them at Thanksgiving. Seriously, this thing is crazy good.

  • 1/2 cup of butter, melted
  • 1 cup of tightly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • pinch of allspice
  • 1 cup of persimmon puree from (1 large hachiya persimmon)


1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter and flour an 8X8 pan. Whisk together the melted butter and sugar in a bowl.

2 Add the egg and vanilla extract and whisk.

3 Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices and salt, mix it all together.

4 Place the pulp from the hachiya persimmon into a food processor and puree. Add to the blondie mixture and whisk very well.

4 Pour into the pan and spread evenly. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool. Cut into squares and serve.

Makes 9 blondies.

The First Step is Admitting I Have a Pomegranate Problem

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Oh pomegranates, how I love them so. Their appearance, their garnet little tarty gems of goodness, the trying annoyance and pruning hands of shelling them under a pot of cold water which is well worth the bounty. They're a definition of slow food and love of food.

Still, I didn't quite realize my addiction and just how bad it was. You see I find myself easily addicted to things. It's just how my brain is wired, and as such I have to be careful about anything I find fun or pleasure in as I can easily get carried away with repetitive use. Things like baklava, thin mints, cheez-its, and good tequila, I try not to keep around the house as I will become their gustatory apocalypse. My roommate, Danielle, makes brownies? I'm the harbinger of their doom, and am more than willing to take the vengeful consequences from her afterward for the deed. However, with poms? Their short season encourages gluttony.
Elise, provided me with 8 full size poms, enough to last me a week or so. I went home, I thew them underwater. I peeled and pulled and gleaned every little shimmery carbuncle from the husk. Thirty minutes I ended up with about 6 cups of pomegranate seeds.

Eight hours later, however, the bowl was empty. I felt zero guilt, only remorse that I didn't have any more. =(

Tre Cool (Tre Nightclub and Restaurant - Sacramento, CA)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I was glad I just wore the clothes I put on for casual day at work, my skinny jeans make my ass look damn fine, but are a bit tight in the crotch if I have to sit down for two and a half hours. There was a time when I would suffer for fashion, to look cool and hip, like I just walked out of a Candace Bushnell novella. However, I find that, one: I think I can make my casual jeans and a jacket look damn fine, and two: I don't really care as much as I used too.

Still, there is a vibe that pulses through Tre; a tribal, enveloping beat that reverberates through people and imbibes you with a stalwart charisma and attraction and gives you a sense of chic fabulosity. It reminded me of some of the clubs and bars I used to patron back in San Francisco and West Hollywood, but without that patronizing power tie fashion palate snobbery that those types of crowds is often saturated with (well, less so, in Sacramento). As a twenty-something I couldn't help but fall in love with the space immediately.

As my dining companions joined me we were led through a bar that was bursting with energy and admittedly, a lot of noise. Good for business, bad for conversation. Still, we didn't find ourselves yelling but we still had to strain our listening a little. The table was surrounded on all sides by black semi-opaque curtains. At first we felt silly like faux-VIP's demanding our privacy, but it set up a perfect boundary from the activity outside and our table, and helped separate us from the source of the deafening roar.

Tre is split into various sections where the trendy cliques are bound to congregate. The newly carded 21 year olds and young bankers are at the main bar, putting away cocktails and martinis, while the suave and sexy are naturally lounging at the wine bar. Wild girl Sephora devotees and the men who buy them shots were gathered around the tequila. While a few older gentlemen and one or two sorority girls were at the cigar bar, women in suits of every age discussed the finer points of foreign markets and cognac and the dark spirits room. The dance floor at the moment was empty, but I gathered it was only a matter of time before it began to pack in the patrons.One of my dining companions, Hank Shaw, was a resident expert on shellfish, wine, and cognac. We allowed him to guide us through our first course of clams and oysters. Both were served fresh over ice with lemon and Tabasco. Delicious, briney, and slid right down your throat.

Strangely, you'll find raw mussels on the menu. There is a reason most people don't eat them: they taste awful and they're the canary in the cave, if something is wrong with the ocean, eating a mussel will inform you of what. My advice and suggestion for general gustatory practice - avoid them.

The appetizers were, much like many of the young patrons there, dressed up and sexy looking, but still not sure what they want to do with their lives. A little lost, they were well on their way to being something fantastic but needed more time to develop and mature. The risotto balls with mushrooms and mango chutney were lip smackingingly good but needed less presentation and more sauce. Lotus chips and Asian guacamole (we're still not quite sure how it was Asian) reminded me of a date I had a while back, pretty to look at but no real substance. I know I could make better guac at home and use more flavorful store bought potato chips.

The natural (as opposed to artificial?) hanger steak was simply amazing, and while they offer a selection of sauces from red bell pepper to a green peppercorn it's simply unnecessary. Hank paraphrased it delightfully, suggesting that "anyone who puts sauce on a steak this good should be shot in the head;" Elise and I nodded in fervent agreement.

While the beat driven music and roar of laughter and conversation crowded the air, it all seemed to disappear with each bite of my pork tenderloin. The pork had been brined, allowing it to keep a juicy, serene flavor that nulled the outside distraction. Balanced through the woodsy shitake mushrooms and ginger sauce it played silently in my mouth and forced out everything else that demanded my attention.Elise's lamb sliders were simple, anticipatory even. You knew what you were getting and what it would taste like. Still, some skill is required to make the ingredients work well and prepare them just right. Indeed, the lamb, figs, goat chevre and micro-greens all presented a tasty little treat served alongside some homemade BBQ potato chips. A nice little taste of Summer in the middle of Fall.

Much like my companions and I, the apple charlotte arrived looking comfortable. One expects a charlotte to be prim, polite, all lace and bows. This dessert was not so much Charlotte, but Harlot, the kick ass rocker chic cousin with the midriff whom you ditch the good girl for. A simple round of caramelized, french-toast reminiscent bread bound in place a sweet mixture of razor thin apple slivers, pecans, spices and sugar. Sitting in a small pool of vanilla pastry cream, Harlot rocked the table and each and every one of us danced with her. She broke almost all of Charlotte's rules, but was awesome for it. She paired well with a heady calvados as everyone knows a little liquor will make any Harlot sing.There are a few issues as any new restaurant is bound to have. The menu has a few spelling errors (the composition teacher in me wanted to whip out my red pen) and a few dishes still need some work. The staff, while friendly, is still feeling its way out, people were unsure of where certain menus were kept and had trouble communicating with each other which led to confusion for us as well.

Furthermore, I am curious if they can stay open in these tough economic times. The location is odd, it located between Chevy's and an Old Navy, and the place was a huge investment with high costs of operation. If they can draw in the younger college crowds for the nightclub and lounge and fiscally fine for dinner they'll do great.

1212 Howe Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95825

Ichigo Abekobe Cupcakes (Matcha Cupcakes with Adzuki Paste Filling and Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

(From the Cupcake Archives)

I've been wanting to make a cupcake with Japanese flavors for some time now, and after the matcha ice cream cupcake, I decided this was the perfect chance to continue in that direction. Part of the inspiration came from Cheryl's Mooncake Cupcakes, which I must admit are quite awesome. Plus I had a lot of matcha left over after the matcha bombe cupcake I did.

Ichigo Abekobe means "Reverse Strawberry" in Japanese, so named because of the green cake and pink frosting, colors opposite of a real strawberry (so I took liberty with the pink, sue me). Many of these flavors are found in Japanese sweets and candies, and compliment each other well.

The bitter and slightly pungent flavor of the matcha is made slightly sweet in this cake. The bean paste is amazing, I can see why it's loved by so many. It's sweet and, well, beany. The strawberry cream cheese frosting is delish as ever, packed with fresh flavor and fruity aroma.

These are time consuming, I won't kid you, but they taste different and make for a very unique cupcake. You could cut some work out and just throw in a bit of matcha into the cream cheese frosting instead of macerating strawberries, or cut out the bean paste if you like. For me this was mostly a cupcake that allowed me to experiment with some new flavors, still each component is delicious on it's own and I hope to try out using adzuki beans in a few new ways.

Adzuki "Red Bean" Paste
What You'll Need...

1 1/4 cup of red beans

3/4 cup of sugar

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

What You'll Do...
1) Place the beans in a bowl and cover with cold water. Let sit overnight in the fridge.

2) Rinse and place in a pot with 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for an hour and fifteen minutes. Drain again.

3) Puree the beans in a food processor or blender.

4) Warm the vegetable oil in a medium sauce pan over medium high heat. Add the sugar and bean puree and stir with a wooden spoon for 5 minutes. Place in a bowl and let cool.

Matcha "Green Tea" Cupcakes (Filled with Adzuki Red Bean Paste)
Makes 15 cupcakes / 350 F oven

What You'll Need...

1 stick of unsalted butter, r
oom temperature
1 cup of sugar

3 large eggs, room temperature

2 cups of all-purpose flour

1 teaspoons baking powder

pinch of kosher salt

1/2 cup of milk

1 tablespoon of matcha

What You'll Do...

1) Preheat the over to 350 degrees. Beat the butter for about 2 minutes until well creamed. Add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl halfway through.

2) Add the eggs one at a time and beat for 45 seconds each. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

3) Combine flour, salt, and baking powder and sift together. Combine the milk and matcha together. Add some of the flour mixture, then some of the milk, alternating between dry-wet-dry and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix together until just combined.

4) Fill the cupcakes about 1/4 full and smooth out the top. Place a small amount (1 tablespoon, more or less) of the bean paste on top. Cover with more cupcake batter until almost full.

5) Bake at 350 for 18-22 minutes, rotating the pan after the first 15. Check with a toothpick for doneness of the cake on top. Place on a wire rack to cool.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
What You'll Need...
8 ounces or 1 package of cream cheese
1/2 stick butter
4 cups sifted powdered sugar
5 strawberries
2 spoonfuls of sugar

What You'll Do...
1) Macerate strawberries with about 1-2 tbs sugar for 15 minutes.

2) Put strawberries in a small saucepan and heat under medium heat with lid on. Cook strawberries for approximately 8 minutes till strawberries cook down and become soft and saucy. Place in a blender and pulse a few times. Taste and adjust sweetness with sugar until you get the desired sweetness. Allow to cool completely.

3) Using a hand blender, puree until you get the desired smoothness or chunkiness. Cool before using.

4) Bring cheese and butter to room temperature by letting it sit out for 1 or 2 hours. Sift powdered sugar into a bowl.

5) Beat butter and cheese at medium speed until creamy. Add half of the sugar, beat until combined. Add strawberry sauce until you achieve the right color and flavor, making sure not to add too much or the frosting will be too soft. Gradually add remaining sugar (more if you have to) until you get to the consistency and sweetness you like.

Eat Beast Update #8 - Wait Till You See Him Do Tequila Shots

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

"Can cats drink Everclear?"

"Huh?" My friend Jeremy, a veterinarian, was over with his boyfriend having dinner. As such, I decided to pump him for some free advice in exchange for food and asked the question I had been curious about since the night before.

"I mean logistically. Can their anatomy even handle alcohol?"

"No." He replied matter-of-factly, undaunted in his certainty in this scientific fact.

"Yeah, well, once again, Eat Beast has proven nature and science wrong. Last night I left a glass of Everclear unattended when I went upstairs and he drank it. Like three ounces on his own."

"Oh my God! Is he okay!? He should be dead!"

"Yeah, he just wandered off and took a nap like nothing happened. Just like he did with the butter, the habanero peppers, and an entire bag of bagels. I kid you not, the cat is abnormal. I mean most humans can't eat what he does. It was the equivalent to a human drinking an entire bottle of the stuff. He's a fat fuzzy black hole that can drink his owner under the table."

"Damn." His face was twisted with befuddlement.

"Feel free to take him with you when you go for scientific study. I could use some peace and quiet around here."

In the Dark

Monday, November 3, 2008

They say that strongest stars burn brightest when circumstances are at their worst. It's a curious concept. Inspiring, to say the least. Still, there's a touch of irony when circumstances in question refer to the fact your apartment has lost power to 60% of it's regular functions, and as such brightness isn't quite an option. Indeed, the only things that could be illuminated was the light over the kitchen vent and the bathroom upstairs, both generating a slightly putrid yellow glow that my roommate and me despised but were now appreciative for. One must remember to find the silver lining in clouds, the good in all situations, carry on and so forth.

Still, fumbling through the dark parts of house cursing every dark aeon in whatever corrupted pantheon I could think of, stumbling over Eat Beast and bitching over why on earth I never just bought a damn book of matches doesn't make for good reflective ME-time. Eventually I located the little light on my key chain and Danielle was able to unbury a stray lighter. Lighting the one candle we have (between a gay man and a ex-pat sorority girl, that has to be breaking some sort of cosmic law of interior design) we meandered over to the kitchen.

Due to whatever strange pattern the fuse box had been set up in, all major devices in the kitchen were still on and active. We flicked on the oven light and I made a phone call to my landlord. After many, many attempts at flipping fuses, switches, and more fervent swearing we finally had to admit to ourselves that we were indeed stuck in the dark for the night. Assured that an electrician would come to our rescue the next morning we relented ourselves to our dim dining table.

"Look at that," I gestured towards the wall. The flickering candle light, its quivering flame dancing erratically in a struggle for oxygen and fuel, began to cast peculiar shadows across the wall through the wire baskets, flowers and fruit on the table. The simple shadow show acted out a curious, nonsensical story that neither of us seemed to know but none the less were entertained with by the blurred and dark figures.

As our eyes followed the shadows on the wall we were able to really take in our space. Over the past few months we had put in plenty of work and time designing the apartment, choosing colors, shapes, and textures that wouldn't make the place a roof over our heads but an actual home for once.

"Our place is actually looks like adults live here."

"Holy crap... you know, it does." It was true. After years of moving from apartment to apartment, living in places that looked like college students lived there, I had graduated from matchy-matchy Ikea furniture and cinder block shelves to something that resembled a home tour on Apartment Therapy. "Still, we have those mirrors and a few pictures to hang."

"We could do it now."

"In the dark? We only have candle light and no measuring tape to keep things on an even plane. It'll come out funny."

"Well, if we just be slow and steady we can get it."

I mulled it over. I had ordered some mirrors from Crate & Barrel, and had an assortment of pictures that needed to go up here and there to fill in the blank walls, green and white canvases begging for some sort of eye drawing pop to complete the scene. "Okay. Why not? Hell, the oven's working too. I'll whip up some brownies-" the Sara Lee kind, on sale for a $1 so how could I say no, it's a weakness, don't judge me, " - and we can have something to eat after we work."

"Ooo, brownies!" Danielle cooed.

After whipping them up and into a pan with a splash of Kahlua I had sitting on the shelves since 2001 and a few cacao nibs I found from some forgotten project, I threw the pan into the oven and we set to work.

Using an old non-mechanical tape measure, we were able to execute a few perfectly aligned nails. Hammering and measuring by candle light, we started to laugh and joke. We talked about past relationships, commiserating about the bad, blasting each other over the worst, and laughing about the good memories they still held. While each giggle and sigh made me have to squint harder in the dim flame's light we somehow, successfully even, got the pictures up without any injury or property damage. Take that history of being accident prone to a point near constant fatality! (Edit: I shit you not, Eat Beast's tail just knocked my skin graft inducing hot tea all over my leg as I finished writing that. Fuck with the universe and this is what you get.)

As the timer sounded we took out the brownies and allowed them a bit of cooling time, with which we teased the cats unmercifully with a laser pointer, sending Cid skidding into walls on the kitchen tile and Eat Beast into frustrated kitty frenzies as he attempted to bite the mocking red dot.

In a short while we were filling ourselves with chocolatey goodness and towering glasses of milk. We laughed in the dark and amused ourselves further with our handiwork, amazed we had pulled something off we could be so proud of. We spent the next few hours debating and chatting over things of no real consequence, and relegated each other with plans for the future by the day and years; wistful ideas that I suppose all twenty-somethings have since we may not know better.

The electrician came the next morning and fixed the breaker though warned it may happen again, as such is the case with old duplexes. Still, it's not something I fear or become apprehensive about. it forced us to shut our lives down for a while. No internet, no TV, no anything. No way to do our homework, stress about our jobs, or idle away the hours on YouTube and Wikipedia.

Just us, a hammer, and brownies.

Toasted Seeds and Other Things

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Ah yes, the seeds, here they are. Six cups of them to be precise. I used Elise's recipe, which always works like a charm. They were, to be succinct, delicious.

I also got in some new vanilla beans that were grown in India. The beans are huge and very oily, with a very muted, woodsy quality. A good vanilla that would stand up well to spices with a more heady comportment in a dish, where the presence of cloves, rosemary, cinnamon, or thyme (and other such flavors with a dominating flavor) may threaten to eclipse other vanilla varieties. I updated the Vanilla Varieties page as well, if you wanna check it out.

I have taken to putting some in small vials with brandy or rum to create some cleverly flavored extracts for Christmas gifts. I look forward to tasting the results.On another completely unrelated note my friend Paige, who works over as Vosges as one of their marketers, and I were chatting. We set up a special little dealie-o for all you Vanilla Garlic readers. If you want to try some of their wares you can get 10% from now till the end of November by using this code during the point of purchase online at their website. The code is: 2810WB1. I'm not getting anything for this, just something for you guys if you're interested.

Hope that you all find your November starting well, the next few days are going to be crazy. Time change and elections! For those living in CA, please vote No on 8. Don't deny me the right to wedding gift registry in the future. ;)

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