10 December 2016
The last month has been interesting, to say the least. I keep reminding myself to breathe. Breathe in, breathe out, choose the positive. I read the news each day. I face the near future with trepidation. Perhaps, as Zach tries to convince me, it won’t be so bad. Things certainly will be different!
We are ready for the holidays – or at least as ready as we ever get. Bob, Adam and I shopped in Lancaster and Palmdale on Friday. Our refrigerator is stuffed with tasty cheeses, olives, and salami; the pantry is stocked with gingerbread mixes and pita crackers; and the freezer is full of goodies as well – lamb shanks, leg of lamb, flank steak and other yummies.
At the end of the week we pick up four ducks at the local butcher. Two will be thawed, and those become smoked duck breasts and duck confit. The carcasses will be rendered for fat, then put into the stock pot for broth. The frozen ducks will go into the freezer for the holidays. It is our tradition to cook them in the manner of Steve Raichlen’s Peking Duck from his wonderful cookbook, Barbecue!Bible. Delicious with hoisin-soy sauce and scallion crepes.
It has been cold at night – below freezing most mornings. Today, however, we have Santa Ana conditions and the daytime temperature reached the high 60sF. The stiff winds have the doves scurrying in panic. You can hear them chitter as they are blown off course.
It is good to see all our desert friends. The holiday party season is in full swing, and we are enjoying. However, there is a dark side. A good friend died recently, and others are ill, some perhaps grievously. I help where I can, and endeavor to bring cheer. Chairman Meow, Adam’s cat, is a blessing. He lifts everyone’s spirits.
I cook for therapy. Recent recipes are a savory bread pudding (Martha Rose Shulman, NYT), lamb shanks (David Lebovitz, My Paris Kitchen), lamb meatballs with dates and date syrup (Susan Feniger, Street Food), and asian-fusion chicken soup with matzo balls (made it up). Comfort food has been on the menu, too – split pea soup, lima beans with ham, pasta with meat sauce, steak and baked potato.
Tonight we have a long-time favorite – ahi tuna (grilled) with sticky rice and homemade teriyaki sauce, spinach on the side. Tomorrow morning Bob is making pancakes, and we’ll top them with the sausage gravy I made today. Adam will probably opt for maple syrup, however!
I’ve enjoyed shopping for family gifts – usually things to eat. Igourmet.com is one of my favorite sites – quite a variety and good quality. Of course I bought nougat for myself, as well!
We’re also preparing for our trip to Africa. No black or dark blue clothing – attracts tsetse flies. Pack light – small duffel supplied by the company is your checked bag, and only one carry on allowed. I got a spare battery for my camera, some new shirts in light colors, new socks, a second pair of beige trousers. And next week we get vaccines – menengitis and TDAP – and pick up meds for malaria and (in case of) severe travelers’ diarrhea.
One more new thing in my life – a new computer. My ASUS all-in-one had trouble digesting the Windows 10 anniversary update. After months of dowload-failed update-undo-reboot I gave up. Adam built me a desktop. It’s wonderfully fast! Once I get my anti-virus software straightened out, I think we’re complete. Thanks, Adam!
Anyone need a usb hub? New computer has beau-coup usb ports, so it’s a spare. Small 3-port hub.