Saturday, November 10, 2007

Le Creuset in my Home

A long, long time ago, when I thought I could learn how to cook by watching QVC and Bob's Cooking Show, he and every chef I heard from told me I had to have one of those Le Creuset pots. Heavy. Heavy orange. And, yes, I thought orange was required. But, whoa, the expense. Never mind.

It's more than 10 years later, and Sweetie walked in the door yesterday with a big, heavy box labeled "Le Creuset." Yes!!! And it's not bloody orange! (It's beautiful royal blue.)

Today I made apple-pumpkin soup in my new Le Creuset. I was amazed (!) at how fast it heated up! Wow!! It's like taking a shiny new Corvette out on country roads!

No photos of the pumpkin soup yet. I made a rookie mistake of not reading through the entire recipe (actually, I had read through it, but that was 3 days ago, and I forgot about this one little requirement). You have to chill the soup for 8 hours.

So, the soup is in the 'fridge now. When it comes out, I will add half-and-half cream, salt and pepper, and a little apple juice right before serving.

Welcome to my household, Le Creuset, after many years of yearning.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Writers' Strike

The writers' strike commenced on Monday, as promised. It's been very interesting to hear about and read what writers for my favorite shows (e.g., Battlestar Galactica and Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Firefly) have had to say about it.

Writers are asking for two things (quotes and titles from the WGA blog, and thanks to Justine at for posting this):

1. Residuals for reuse of content (like replaying tv shows) on the internet.

"We're asking for residuals of 2.5% of revenue -- that means for every dollar they get paid, we'd get 2 and a half cents. It's a flat percentage, so if they're right and they're never ever going to make a penny, well then, we won't either. No harm, no foul.

"Since 2.5% is our starting point, in any normal negotiation we'd end up somewhere between what they want to pay (.3%) and what we're asking for (2.5%). I'd guess 1 to 1.5 %."

2. Coverage and protections for original content ("new stuff we create for the internet").

"We're asking for basic protections so that when we write original stuff for the internet, we have rights -- health and pension, minimum amounts, credits and separated rights (so if we make some amazing character or show, we get the right to share in its success.)

We're just asking for the same protections we already have for writing in tv or film. Nothing new or weird. Just the basics."

In other news, Michael Eisner announced that the strike is "stupid." That's a bleepin' quote. And he added that studios don't know why the writers are striking, and that they have nothing to offer or give. God, I'm so glad he left Disney to more qualified people.

We, of course, support the strike. Most actors support the strike, as they realize that, whatever happens, so go the actors in 2008 during their contract renegotiation.

I, selfishly, am not worried about T.V. programming, or new movies, etc. I am worried about the Battlestar Galactica convention next weekend. I'm hoping BSG doesn't have to suddenly film that weekend to get material in the can. I really believe, though, that the actors will show up, perhaps more willingly than before (money that may not be coming in, plus a chance to talk about the subject), and give us their view of what's going on. That will be very interesting.

This will be a long one. May the most erudite win.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Moroccan: The Cooking Class

If you're following the blog, you'll know that a few nights ago I went to my first Moroccan meal. Well, I ate Moroccan once before, but I was in my twenties, and you know how long ago THAT was; I don't remember a thing about it. At this latest try, in tasting the meal in between the belly dancing, I was aware at how much I was not wowed by the food. My friend agreed. I was astonished that she had had the same reaction.

Unbelievably, two days later, we found ourselves at a Moroccan cooking class given by Dara of The Sage Table. This is my 3rd class with Dara, given in her home, in her aging but quaint kitchen.

It's mostly observing. If you cornered me, I would say that hands-on would be better, except that I might actually have to work. As she does the work, I can imagine myself doing it, and I've had enough practice now to know what I can do. And I can do this.

But I didn't see myself here this night. Dawn talked me into this one. And it's a good thing we booked this a month ago, as I never would've committed to this, really, after tasting the food the other night. But tonight, after eating all of what Dara had to offer us, I must say, I enjoyed it all.

Our menu:

Colorful Cabbage salad with citrus-honey dressing.
Aromatic Vegetable Tagine with Olives and Figs
Barley and Quinoa Pilaf with mint
Chicken with Lemons and Olives, Moroccan-style

No dessert. But who needs dessert with such a flavorful menu? I have to admit that I mixed all the portions on my plate together, finding that it all worked really well mixed up, especially with the crunchy barley/quinoa.

I hate (and let me make a list): Onions (at least those so strong and present as to be individually tasted). Quinoa. Olives. Figs. Zucchini. Eggplant. But cooked -- not too much, but enough to allow them to be soft but still hold their shape -- it all was divine. These dishes changed my mind about many of these ingredients, these vegetables, grains, and, yes, Moroccan food.

This is good stuff. The proof, I guess, will be when I cook it myself. My Sweetie will love it!

Who knew?

A House By Any Color Would Smell as Sweet

It's a fabulous house. Oh, sure, a lot of work needs to be done to it, but not as much as I figured. And not as much as my house did seven years ago.

We have a little argument going as to whether it's purple or blue. I now know it's blue. It's not a color I would originally have chosen, but you can pick it out easily as you turn the corner. It kind of fits the house.

Bob the inspector did his thing today. The same inspector I had seven years ago at Earl! The same irascible guy, brutally honest, schoolteacher demeanor, really a pleasant guy to listen to and learn from. He went on top, underneath, briefly into the attic, and turned on every switch he could find. Many of the switches did not work, just a hint that the electrical needs upgrading. But the plumbing, which I figured would take just as much maintenance to correct, is not bad at all.

This little two-bedroom place with the big backyard is solidly built. They used to say they don't make them like they used to. In this case, they'd be right.

Something will happen on this house in the next two weeks. We hope it works out.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Temple Sinai: Land of the Belly Dancers

I went to a Moroccan restaurant tonight, along with a friend. It was a fundraiser for Temple Sinai.

"Why do people come to these things?" I earnestly asked Dawn. She replied, because the rabbi wants us to. And we would never disappoint the rabbi.

And so we found ourselves, 50 of us, all middle-aged whatevers, huddled under a tent on a cold winter's night in Oakland. Waiting for the five courses and, of course, the belly dancer.

Rabbi Chester made a point of telling us that there would be prizes for the best male and best female belly dancers, amateurs all. "And the prize," he chortled, "is from the Temple Sinai Gift Shop, of course!"

Food kept coming, brought in by the largely Oriental staff. They were very nice to us, eager to please. Red wine? Of course. White wine? Of course. Coke? Sure. And lots of food I couldn't identify if my life depended on it. The bread was good. The vegetables, surprisingly, were spicy but not too much, and were very good. I found myself saying something I never thought I would: this cooked carrot is delicious!

I tended to find the chicken and stick with that, although I did have one of the pieces of lamb off the skewer. It was okay.

The woman next to me was the editor of the Sinai bulletin. What were the odds? Seeing as how I had a camera, she practically ordered me to take photos. I did, gladly. But then at one point, she wrestled the camera out of my hands, jumped into the fray, and took more photos, yelling, "Closeups! I need closeups!" Hey, I understand. I'm a newsletter editor myself. I transmitted the photos to her as soon as I got home. I was pleased to see that I got one photo of her out there dancing.

Sure, we go to these events because the rabbi wants us to. But, obviously, there's a feeling that we'll have a good time in this, our safe community.

And the belly dancer wasn't bad, either.