mamculuna: (Default)
( Jul. 30th, 2010 07:10 pm)
I discovered a delightful thing this morning--white tea is naturally almost decaf. And it has a lovely tea taste, a slightly smoky aroma that's miles away from too-sweet fruit and herb teas or tasteless decafs. I bought the White Peony and Silver Needle from Adagio, and hope that one cup in the morning will leave me still able to sleep.

Burmese food is pretty good, too. Very similar to Thai and Vietnamese, but not the same. My rice salad, for example, was topped with perfectly sauteed slices of garlic--crunchy like toasted sliced almonds, but with the taste of roasted garlic. Very yummy.
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mamculuna: (Default)
( Jul. 14th, 2006 06:19 pm)
Well, I get internet access and a strong need to rest my feet, so greetings from Barcelona. It´s as great as I expected (but as hot as Bill feared)--wonderful tapès, including cuttlefish and such savoury olives, lovely fresh and also cured anchovies, potato tortes, etc. I do find myself drinking beer rather than wine because of the heat, but late in the evening it cools off and then the vino is welcome. We´re staying near the great Gaudí cathedral, Sangrada Familia (actually very near the Hospital St. Pau--both buildings are wonders of the imagination, incredibly rich with details but also impressive in overall design. I will post pictures eventually). In between is the Avignudo Gaudí, a broad street almost closed to cars with cafes lining it and tables in the center, so we can sit and eat and drink and see the buildings all at the same time, without having to go very far.

Today we did go further though, and wandered around the old medieval part of town, the Barri Gothí (I´m not checking the spelling so forgive errors in Catalan) with tiny winding streets (but of course that doesn´t stop the scooters from scooting along them) and great little shops and bars. We ate (more tapés) in the St. Catherine market, a huge indoor market with wonderful displays of meat, cheese, fruit, etc. and went to the Picasso museum.

Although there are lots of kids doing the summer thing, one thing I´m really loving here is how the people my age and older are out and about, so much more than I see in cities at home (maybe I´m just choosing the wrong neighborhoods--maybe there´s an Avignudo Gaudí in Chicago I´m missing). But I love seeing a table full of people in their seventies still dressing up and out in the evening having a good time. And they do dress up--especially this year, with skirts in style, everyone wears such lovely patterns and colors, and such flowing lines.

Hopefully the combination of feet and internet will strike again, but if not, more when I get to Florence, Rome, or home. Hope you´re all well--miss my LJ!
mamculuna: (Default)
( Jun. 17th, 2006 10:14 am)
Not hard to find ways to have a pleasant time here. And the weather for the last few days has been blessedly warm--I know it seems hot to the people who're here all the time, but to me hot doesn't start until 95F.

There's a wonderful yoga studio near my son's house (Yoga Kula, if you know the area or Anusara) where Sianna Sherman teaches. I couldn't go to her class this week, but did go to a very fine class taught by a young man, Kenny. He brought a harmonium for the opening and closing chants--it was delightful.

A friend of my son T's has a knit shop, so I also indulged there--just for starters, a lace mohair scarf (very open--tiny yarn and size 10 needles). The pattern isn't hard but the yarn is very slippery. I may yet rip out what I've done--too many mistakes. My plan is to do a big and better shawl-type thing, but haven't yet found a pattern, or yarn I can afford for a project that big (love the bamboo yarn, but it's a little heavy for that and costs $26 for 50g!). I also went with T's partner, D, to a knit night, a gathering of some very nice very interesting excellent knitters, the people who teach the classes. It was fun to work with them, but also a joy to see what they were making.

We also went over to Angel Island, off Marin, to a sort of combined camping trip-birthday celebration--a friend of D's was camping all weekend and we went over for the afternoon, bringing lunch. Weirdly, they were having a Civil War re-enactment, involving cannons and passing ships (no real gunfire or cannon balls of course), but the battle had never really taken place. The island is beautiful, and I always love ferry rides, even though that day was a bit cool.

I am getting a little writing done, but still lots, lots more to do.

Also many walks, much good eating, including a sample of some lychee mousse that another friend who's a professional caterer had made. Oh yum.
Well, back at last in the land of adequate computer access--aside from Southwest's delay in sending my suitcase with pj's and contact solution, leading to a less than comfortable night, I'm happy to be here. My son's kitties have grown and are following me from room to room--still very playful and jolly, small and sleek. Very different from the floofy and placid Mop, although she follows me around too. She's happy at home with her very own housesitter. No guilt! I believe in open relationships when it comes to cats.

Chicago was great (except that I was too overscheduled to be able to catch up with [livejournal.com profile] oursin (sob!)--there's now a fine farmer's market in Lincoln Park on Wednesdays, with live bluegrass and many moms and babies, to say nothing of much fresh asparagus, as well as morel-flavored cheese! We saw Fiorello!, cleverly staged at a very small theater, and ate deliciously sinful things (coriander flavored vodka and asparagus dumplings, followed by an incredible layered chocolate mousse with raspberry sauce, accompanied by a pot of Yunnan tea) at Russian Tea Time.

I've had a few other entertainments I'll recommend:

12 and Holding )

The Book of Alix Wolfe )

Amazon is certainly convenient, but nothing takes the place of wandering through musty shelves of tattered old paperbacks and spying some intriguing title, trying to read the crumbling yellowed pages in the dim light while an old cat twines its tail around your ankles. Clicking "search" always finds you what you want, but what about the thing you don't know you want until you find it?

ETA: One nice piece of family news--my nephew (JP of The Story Game) has sold a story! Not for much $$ but it sold, to Shimmer Maybe there can be some kind of reverse lateral genetic transfer and I can get some of his talent. But I'm so delighted b/c he really does write well, and works at his writing. And this was his very first sale, so it really encourages him to work even harder. Greatly enjoy days athe beach with him and his lovely C, who writes romances (at 1200 words in a couple of hours!). We get to combine good family/beach time with a little mini writer's retreat, inspiring each other by getting out the old computers for a few hours even when the sun is lovely and the kayaks call, and then nice evening chats about writing.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Dec. 16th, 2005 10:07 am)
The muse of writing came through, eventually, for NaNo, but the muses of food planning and present selecting are deserting me in a pique of jealousy, I suppose, for my single minded attention to their sister. So does anybody have any ideas? I like to do an ethnic meal of some kind on Christmas Eve, since we do traditional TG and Christmas Day. Last year I did German and there are some who call for a repeat--and I probably will, in a year or two. This year, overwhelmed by desire when I read [livejournal.com profile] oracne's Dirty Rice recipe, I think Cajun would be appropriate. I can do shrimp gumbo and a Cajun fish or chicken, bread pudding with bourbon sauce, and...?? Any thoughts, or even better, any recipes?

But I'm sure you are all having problems with your own present-selecting muses, so I'll work alone to find something good for my 85-year old cousin who already has everything (and now I've delayed too late to order online, grr).
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mamculuna: (Default)
( Dec. 3rd, 2005 02:14 pm)
For lunch we had miso soup. I've had it in so many variations--made me wonder what some of you might have thought up. Here's the one I did today:

Chai soba noodles--cooked in one pot, then drained and added to the mixture below.

Everything else simmmered together in a couple of cups of water:
1 frond wakame, shredded
baby carrots, sliced fine
shitake mushrooms, sliced in thirds
green onions, sliced medium
1/2" cubes of good medium tofu
spinach (b/c out of bok choy, but turned out to be good, though no crisp stems)

and a very big heaping tablespoon of red soy miso, thinned in water and added to the pot of simmering veggies and tofu, but not boiled.

Garnished with the chopped green parts of the onions.
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mamculuna: (Default)
( Oct. 8th, 2005 01:44 pm)
Still living and eating well in California--Thursday night at Gombei in Menlo Park with [livejournal.com profile] oyceter and [livejournal.com profile] masqthephlsphr and [livejournal.com profile] fannishly. It's a very good Japanese restaurant (intended to save some of the excellent unagi to bring home to D (my son's partner and my host here), but sigh, no will power when it come to good food). Many thanks to Masq for excellent driving under trying circumstances, and to all three for a pleasant evening.

Friday, went with D's stepmother to work on restoring the gardens at Alcatraz. She works with historical gardening, so it's a real delight to spend time with her and to learn about the plants and the history of the place. You can see some tiny picture and read just a bit at: http://www.gardenconservancy.org/projects_gardens.html#alcatraz
http://www.nps.gov/alcatraz/nature.html

From some angles, Alcatraz looks like a Greek Island, with old white ruins, high cliffs, and the sea straight down. It had no soil originally, and space had to be blasted and soil hauled in by the soldiers who were quartered there (originally to defend against Confederate invaders!) Then inmates later on worked with guards, but also had their own gardens.

Then my younger son and I went to the new Museum of Asian Art in SF. It's such a well-done museum, with such rich detail, that I can never see more than one section at a time--this time it was China, esp. the very old, pre-Buddhist section, and the wonderful jade. But the Chinese Buddhist section is fascinating, too. I'd already done the South Asian part--am saving the Himalayas for a later time, as well as Korea and Japan.

We ate lunch at a wonderful Vietnamese place called Tu Lan on 7th street (I think)--great spicy beef soop and spring rolls, yummy.

Trying to complete the baby sweater and hat by tonight to give to the mom to be before I leave (she's my friend's daughter, the one who got married in Italy last year). Baby may get here first!

T and D's new cats (or kittens, I think) have names: Ronin and Bandito. I will try posting a picture in a bit, if my camera works for once. The plan is to let them explore the whole house this weekend, after a week in the bedroom. The room's so much bigger than the cage they were in at the Humane Society that they seem quite happy, but interested in seeing even more.


I'm loving it here so much, the lovely bright sun (although foggy on Alcatraz!), the good walking and strenuous climb back home, getting my leg muscles back in shape, the fun stores, restaurants, street fairs, and new kittens--and the quiet good times with D while his partner T (my son) is working in LA. PRaise to D! This has been the equivalent of having his mother-in-law visit for two weeks, but he's been the soul of graciousness and good humor, happily including me in things, never showing that he felt cramped by my presence. I was never that great with my mother-in-law, though I loved her dearly. I spent weeks in her house, but always chafed at the differences. Maybe there's less conflict with different genders, or maybe D is just nicer than me! Not hard.

But will be glad to get back to fall in the South too--still not too late for one last swim if the weather's good; the leaves will be changing, and I miss my friends, my own yoga teacher, my Buddhist group, my house, my car, my part-time cat.
mamculuna: (Default)
( Jul. 11th, 2005 11:44 am)
So glad everyone in London is safe, and also glad that all who went to NY are back home safely and obviously enjoyed their time. Thanks for the wonderful posts and pictures.

This may be my post of the month, as I head up to Chicago (through the first of doubtless many hurricanes that will harass me this year)--although the new computer up there is faster, Bill still gets antsy when the phone lines are tied up for too long, and for me to even glance at my flist takes too long for him!

Summer seems to be here in full force. For most of last week, the ocean was a lovely jade green, clear enough in the shallow water to see your feet even when the waves were breaking at shoulder level. Waves muddied it by Saturday, but the days before were heavenly.

Played many many games last week, too, including bocce ball on a very uneven course (we consider our game to be Ultimate Bocce) and dominoes (I'd never played before, but my nephew's girlfriend brought a pretty white set with bright colored dots and taught us Mexican Train). Also a great little electronic Catchword, and something very similar to Cranium, the name of which I can't remember. With all that around, we never did the traditional midnight Scrabble with me falling asleep in mid-word.

And yesterday, to make the trash life complete, watched the entire first season of The 4400. Seemed a lot better than this season, but maybe that's because I watched it all at once and therefore actually had a clue. Before that, I'd spent most of this season saying "Is that guy a 4400 or not?" "Is Jordan a good guy or a bad guy?" and so on.

Also, last week, I discovered that using the power stroke in kayaking built up the right muscles (pecs and triceps) for yoga push-ups (Chaturanga Dandasana)--before, I'd been mostly pulling in order to work on back muscles, but using a push stroke instead finally got me to the point of being able to to the push-ups. Very exciting--I'd once before gotten to this point but lost it when I cut my toe a couple of years ago. But my ego is controlled by the fact that a backbend (Urdhva Dhanurasana) is still out of reach, and I haven't tried a headstand or armstand in a while. But also found oddly that a one-legged version of side plank (Vasisthasana) with the other leg bent as in Tree Pose is easier for me than the usual form, with one leg on top of the other.

Reading these days: mostly mysteries (Deborah Crombie, Michele Spring, Laura Joh Rowland--but waiting to get my hands on the new Laurie King) but also Umberto Eco (The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana) which so far is wonderful. I still like novels with weird illustrations, and these are wonderful--old comics, matchbooks, etc.

Finally, a very easy salsa made with fresh peaches (will cross-post to [livejournal.com profile] atpo_cooks):

Peel and chop 2-3 fresh, ripe peaches
Add 1 T (or less, depending on peaches)red wine vinegar and/or lime juice, to taste
Some may want sugar--if peaches are nice and ripe, you won't need it
1/4 tsp ground coriander (also to taste--might want to start with just a pinch)

Serve with grilled pork or salmon

Even if I'm not posting or commenting much--though who knows?--I'll be lurking around and sending good thoughts if nothing else. More sometime!
mamculuna: (Default)
( Oct. 27th, 2004 03:19 pm)
After seeing the poor old folks with walkers and wheelchairs standing in the supermarket for hours to get a flu shot, I wouldn't take one even if I could get it (unlike the football team at our local U). But since I am headed to the source of most flu, I thought I'd at least get a pneumonia shot. And gamma globulin. So I made my appointment with the travel doctor, drove way across town (45 minutes) to his office, waited half an hour. Oh, says the nurse, I forgot to order that vaccine. Why don't you come back next week?

Never mind, I say. Just give me the gamma globulin and I'll take my chances. But grrr. What are appointments for?

Meanwhile, lots of packing. Trying to travel light to leave room for baby stuff but still have something to wear everywhere, from Beijing where it could snow to Hong Kong where it's still very warm--plus must carry supplies of mystery paperbacks and locarb snacks, also my complete stash of emergency provisions for every possible eventuality. Whenever I'm traveling and run into a problem, I add something to my pile when I get back and take it on the next trip. So I have clotheslines, reading lights, peptobismal, matches, candles, pillowcase and washcloth, sleeping pills and dramamine, vaseline, and enough hand cleaner to wash the city. And I still know I'll find something missing just when I needed it. Give it up, Nancy. Travel is unpredictable--you'll never be prepared for everything.

Trying to refresh my travel mandarin, still not getting tones right at all--and anyway we'll be in other dialect regions most of the time. Review charcters instead. Woman--very important word to know when looking for the loo--also difference between eel and fish (but in China, I actually eat first and then ask. Otherwise I'd miss some amazing things. Jellyfish and porkstomach can be tastier than you might imagine).

Talked with another friend who just completed the same trip and he says food in Hunan is wonderful, and tells about the babies and suddenly I can't wait. Add squeaky ducks to travel pile, and go by Laurie's to see the baby's room, all blue and green with a wonderful rocking chair. Can't wait.

This time next week I'll be eating salty scallion pancakes. I wonder if there will still be old men with sewing machines and umbrella repair kits working on the sidewalks, and men in the streets driving tricycles piled high with furniture and bricks and grandmothers? Will it still smell like coal smoke and cabbage, and will the ladies in the market lecture me in local dialects when I try to buy the wrong kind of doufu? Will I get to burn incense to the 80 foot tall Buddha at Yong He Gong? Will mules be fighting Mercedes in the streets and the bicycle bells jingling like Christmas? I know it's changed...

Already can't sleep at all. When I went to China before, I couldn't sleep for days, I was so jacked up. There's something about the energy there.
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Inspired by [livejournal.com profile] ann1962's scalloped potatoes"--started to post as answer, but thought others might like it or have suggestions for improvements.

I took this to a potluck and everyone was excited, though I had thought it was really commonplace. So just in case there's anyone who doesn't know it:

Calabrese Salad (serves 4)

Ripe tomatoes (good tomatoes are essential; I prefer vine ripened, and homegrown if possible)--3 or 4, depending on size
Fresh mozzarella (also called bufalo; comes in a bag at many groceries; is kind of squishy--1/2 pound or so
Fresh basil--a few leaves
Salt and pepper (fresh ground) to taste

Slice the tomatoes (about 1/2 inch or less slices) and slice the cheese to about the same size--you can also make half-slices.

Interleave the slices (tomato, cheese, tomato, cheese, etc)on salad plates

Chop the basil or even better snip with scissors and sprinkle over the tomatoes, add salt and pepper

Serve and eat right away!

Left-overs on a pizza crust and heated until cheese melts will become Pizza Margherita (I like to put the basil on after cooking, in that case)
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mamculuna: (Default)
( Mar. 24th, 2004 02:59 pm)
From [livejournal.com profile] oyceter

The Food Meme )
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mamculuna: (Default)
( Jan. 10th, 2004 04:26 pm)
So glad to get back to my yoga class. This morning I moved myself up to the "intermediate" class--that may be a bit of an exaggeration. Some tough-for-me vinyasas, because balance and upper body strength are not my strong suits, but then a lot of hip openers-flexible! That I am. The new studio is warm!!! and beautiful (warm orange walls, painted with Moroccan designs and jewels)!! I am so grateful to have such a great resource. And I met someone who I've seen in class but never sat near in the old class. Turns out we do the same work and have many friends in common, so that was a pleasure. Makes it more sangha-like.

Now I've come home and written fairly diligently for the last couple of hours, and realized that I've done 3 chapters over Christmas. I'm beginning to see the end--it is incredibly exciting to think I'll finish a whole draft of a novel. I've done short stories and poems all my life, but this is a new experience. It basically will never be great, and needs lots of revision, but it does exist.

But so does this empty feeling in my middle--hmm, smoked gouda and pesto? Is that a possible combination? Wonder if that avocado is still in existence.

The last week has really been a lot of stress, so I decided that the dieting would go on hold until the semester gets started. I'm still trying to keep teachers in all the classes, but they keep quitting faster than I can hire. Herding cats? Yes. Underpaid, whiny, brilliant cats.
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mamculuna: (Default)
( Dec. 26th, 2003 08:44 am)
Had a wonderful Christmas with my two sons here, plus boyfriend (not mine!), nephews, niece-in-law, stepdaughter coming nearby, first-cousin-once removed, and assorted other relatives and old friends--and of course my wonderful husband, sister, and brother-in-law who are fortunately almost always nearby. Ate too much, drank too much, drove too much, stayed up too late and got up too early. Gave and got too many presents. But it was all just right!

Nominations for best food:

Brown's low country barbecue (vinegar and hot pepper only, makes mustard and ketchup, etc., seem like babyfood)
Lisa Marie's Linzer cheese cake (hazelnut crust! raspberries!)
Grilled turkey
and always dependable garlic mashed potatoes
and oh, yeah, Mongolian Pork Chop

Nominations for best movie experience:

LOTR marathon on DVD--took projector to the beach so we could see it in appropriate size, then went to RTOK as finale!

Nominations for best gift:

Total tie:

Vintage rock poster for Big Brother and Holding Company (Janis Joplin's band, for those too young to remember)
Uru, the new game in the Myst series
Buffy S5
BIG bottle of Glenfiddich (have to keep that in a hard to reach place or it'll be gone by 2004)
Leopard skin ear-bags
new frame for my wonderful, unframed print

Nominations for happiest moment(s):

seeing each of my sons get off the plane


No post-holiday let-down--just basking in the great memories, while waiting for the plumber (don't ask...)
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mamculuna: (Default)
( Dec. 14th, 2003 09:10 pm)
Now this was the high-gear house-cleaning day. I never clean except under dire threat and deadline of imminent visitors. Tuesday and Wednesday we have some of my husband's former students from China staying over and one of his friends for dinner, with unknown girlfriend, and he wants me to cook duck. Duck! I ask you. I cooked it last about 5 years ago, and distinctly remember first undercooking and getting my whole family drunk while it poked along, and then drying it out. This can only be disaster. But here they are, thawing away, inevitable...

But then my sons come on the weekend and we go to the beach, and that will be peace and fun. Contemplating getting a pinata--last year we had Christmas in Oaxaca, and the family at the posada where we stayed did pinatas. It really was fun--stumbling around blindfolded, everybody yelling. Only we don't have any kids to get excited and rush for the candy when it breaks. Well, the journey is the destination, in our case. Also solstice fireworks are another plan.
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