Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Basil (Ocimum basilicum)


Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Originally uploaded by The Marmot
Mediterranean and Indochinese cuisines often use basil, the former frequently combining it with tomato. Basil is one of the main ingredients in pesto—a green Italian oil-and-herb sauce from the city of Genoa, its other two main ingredients being olive oil and pine nuts.

This photograph has become one of my most popular. It was first picked up by "Botany Photo of the Day". Recently, it has been used by two blogs:

"Eco Child's Play" and "EcoMetro" (Portland, OR)

Friday, August 1, 2008

This Father's Day, give the old man a great meal!




This Father's Day, give the old man a great meal - Worldnews.com

Another fun article that used one of my photographs. This one was credited to my real name so the "Marmot widget" did not pick it up and so it was well past Father's Day by the time I found it.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Travelstart France Blog


I use a tool called "Google Blog Search" to alert me whenever someone uses a photograph of mine from my Flickr site; where I am known as 'The Marmot'. This is a recent occurrence.

The gist of this post, I am told, is that seeing my photograph reminded the author of a great meal the he had in Marrakech (or Marrakesh, as I know it). The post describes the restaurant and notes that it is owned by a group of women.

This photo is of a home cooked meal made by my late wife, and as about as far from Morocco as one can get. Both this dish, and the cooking vessel in which it is traditionally prepared are called Tagine. Susan actually used a Dutch oven as basically a tagine is a slow-cooked stew braised at low temperatures, resulting in tender meat with aromatic vegetables and sauce.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Flor de Succulent


Flor de Succulent
Originally uploaded by The Marmot
Proof of Concept

The other day I was sitting in a seeming endless meeting. It was apparent early on that I would neither have anything to contribute nor to learn as it was a rehash of ground that was covered last week and will be gone over again the next as well. Therefore my mind began to wander and I began to reflect up the virtues of my recently acquired iPod touch.

Now, I receive a lot of grief from those who know me for having a tendency to collect too many gadgets, and that may be true. I actually got this iPod for free for purchasing a MacBook that I really could get by without. Truth be told, I probably did not need another iPod either as my third generation nano was only a couple of months old, but (in a pain medication induced haze) the deal seemed just too good to pass up.

Overall, it was a foolish deal, but I am glad to have the iPod touch. Its ability to surf the web and send email from any Wi-Fi hot spot will pretty much allow me to leave the notebook at home when I travel to conferences and the like. It also holds a bunch of photos, which got me to thinking (tying this back to the first paragraph) – ‘If Flickr can be updated from a phone, why not from an iPod?’ So I tried it and sure enough it works.

Ain’t technology grand?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

How to Cook Eggs


How to Cook Eggs
Originally uploaded by The Marmot
How to Scramble Eggs

Most people feel that they know how to cook eggs, and I am sure that they do a pretty good job. However, I have discovered a few refinements over the years which can push scrambled eggs into excellence.

Eggs ala Cliff

• Start with decent eggs.

I currently use locally grown, organic, brown eggs. The choice is yours for the making.

• Let the eggs warm up to room temperature.

Let them sit out for awhile at least, rather than using them right out of the refrigerator.

• Add salt to the mixing bowl, prior to beating the eggs.

You, of course, can’t taste them at this time, but with some experience I am sure that you will know how much to use to suit your own taste. I almost forgot, you should add about a tablespoon of milk per egg at this time. I use almond milk.

By the way, I discovered this intuitively, but there has been a recent study which showed that adding salt before cooking improves the dish due to some protein reaction.

• Butter the frying pan.

Most cooks will agree that the addition of a little butter never hurt any dish, so even though I use an anodized skillet (at this time) I use butter and high heat.

Also, as I generally will add rice, peas, or mushrooms this gives me a medium in which to cook or heat them.

• If they are done in the pan, they are too done on the plate.

I pour the eggs in to the pan and let them sit until a film starts to form around the edges. Then I push the mixture toward the center until it stops forming. No actual mixing takes place during this step. Learning the timing for removing the eggs from the heat will again take some practice, just do not let them get hard. Do remember to use high heat so that the eggs cook quickly.

Serve with appropriate sides and/or garnishes.
Bon appetite!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Spring Garden Walks


Fay's Meadow
Originally uploaded by The Marmot
This is my favorite time of the year. The wildflowers are in bloom, and as a tour leader I have a built in excuse to be at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden almost every weekend.

RSABG, as it is known in shorthand, is one of Claremont's best treasures. A hidden treasure to many people. Tucked away at the very end of College Avenue, north of Foothill, it can be easy to miss. But, it is well worth the finding.

The tours give us an opportunity to take visitors around the grounds to view and interpret the wildflowers and other plant collections. The bloom is pretty good this year. The Lupines and Tidy Tips are coming in to their own. Most of the Ceanothus, Western Redbuds, and Flannelbush are spectacular.

So, if you have the time, come on over any Saturday or Sunday at 2:00 p.m. from now until May 18.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Cute Cat Theory of Digital Activism


From ETech to Where 2.0: Disaster Tech and Activist Mapping - O'Reilly Radar

Part of my interest in the internet and blogging is they way that they can be used to reach people for a variety of reasons. I blog, mostly, for the fun of it, but I fascinated by the concept of public journalism.

A story from the Center for Social Media had this to say about public media: “Over at the O’Reilly Radar site, Where 2.0 conference chair Brady Forest reports on an interesting principle that Ethan Zuckerman of Global Voices is proposing, called the “cute cat theory of activism.” Basically, the more people who use a platform to post content about their charming pets, the less likely it is to be shut down. So if you like public media, start snapping those LOLcats shots!”

The basic theory is that ‘every time you force a government to block a web 2.0 site - cutting off people’s access to cute cats - you spend political capital’. The job of online advocates is to raise that cost of censorship as high as possible.

If I am about anything, I am about cute cats. So if any body needs to borrow some photos, you can find them here and here.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Music as Commentary


I may have a liberal point of view, but I have always thought of NPR as being rather unbiased in its news coverage. However, this belief was shattered on March 11 while listening to Marketplace Morning Report. Someone involved in its production must have a bone to with Eliot Spitzer. A story on Wall Street's reaction to his peccadillo ended with the playing of "Your Cheatin' Heart" by Hank Williams. That says a lot, without saying any thing.

The morning of March 13 I was incensed by an interview with presidential hopeful Clinton. One must listen to the audio to get the full extent of her audacity; this transcript does not do it justice. If I had produced that story I would have closed it out with "Lying Eyes" by the Eagles.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Michael Pollan


Peppers
Originally uploaded by The Marmot
I have been reading a lot of Michael Pollan. I found his The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World to be worth picking up just for the section on apples. His discussion on the potato was fascinating to me as well. This video, from a TED conference, touches on the main theme of the book.



I just finished In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. it was not as much the page turner for me as the first book, but it has greatly influenced my thinking about what I want to eat. The credo of "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants" made a lot of sense once I started to think about how much of what we eat is actually manufactured rather than produced or grown. Clearly, if I am really going to follow his advice, I will have to make some changes that I may not be prepared to make. "Food", as Pollan defines it, has less than five (5) things in it. This rules out much of what is found in the local mega mart such as bread, cereals, and almond milk (very unfortunate for me). Anything with high fructose corn syrup should be avoid as well. Of course, if I was following the tenets of Locovorism I would not be buying any of that anyway.

Currently, I am still working my through The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, so I am not prepared to comment on it just yet.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Stachelschweine?

Merv at the Movies: Porcupine Parergy: "Stachelschweine"

I found this blog, to be very amusing.

There is nothing more to see here, so why not take a look at this piece about hedgehogs (one of my favorite creatures) and porcupines.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Locavore Nation, Part 1


I previously wrote about my commitment to buying much of our food from local sources. Now, I have discovered a group of people who have pledged to obtain 80% of their diet locally. My initial reaction is that it can not be done except in very rare circumstances.

First of all, in the reading that I have done so far, there does not seem to be an established standard as to how determine the proportions of what will constitute one’s diet. How would you measure it, volume, weight, or some sort of tally of items?

Then there is the question of what ‘locally produced’ actually means. As an example, there are several bakeries very close to us so we can buy locally baked products. That sounds good, but then I know that the wheat the flour was milled from was grown hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away. That would also be true of most grains. How local is that? Strictly speaking, Susan would most likely not be able to make our own granola.

Meat will probably be off the table as well for us omnivores. There are plenty of meat packing houses within 100 to 150 miles. (Unfortunately, one is involved in the huge recall that has been in the news. Another good reason to think about vegetarianism I guess.) But, the ranches and feedlots where the animals are raised are not in these parts. Drug free chickens are processed locally. But, the chickens themselves are raised in the Central Valley, so I might have to rule them out depending on the mileage.

We could rule the following foods in with no problem:

Tomatoes: Susan grows heirloom and other uncommon varieties of tomatoes in her garden. We have practically a year around supply (as I previously wrote) and can easily supplement it from the farmers market if need be.

Herbs: We grow a wide variety of herbs such as mint, parsley, rosemary, basil, and bay right outside our kitchen door.

Greens: Susan grows lettuce and arugula (rocket plant), so in season we will have these. Others are locally grown and can be had at the farmers market. Some of these are really neat including bok choy and yu choy to name two.

Citrus: We have our own orange and lemon trees. They do not, in truth, come close to meeting our needs, but we can buy locally grown fruit from the near by college of agriculture store and elsewhere.

Avocados: These can be had at the ag school store and from other local sources.

Potatoes: One of our favorite stalls at the local farmers market carries a variety of offbeat potatoes. They also have cauliflower.

Strawberries: There will be local strawberry stands for at least a few more years, I hope.

Corn: The same goes for corn.

Fish: Except for the fact that there are enough pollutants in them to make many people sick, fish are also available from within the allowable distance.

There are a few more foods that I could list, apples come to mind, but you can see that while we could have a nice seasonally variable and interest mix of things it might be problematic to make them 80% of our diet. I am just saying.



Monday, February 18, 2008

That's My Granddaughter!

Cleveland feels right at home - LA Daily News: "Becca Verstraete"


It looks like that I am doing a lot of bragging this week.

Becca Verstraete is our granddaughter and we think that it is pretty cool that she got this recognition. She is an outstanding student as well as a terrific athlete.

The link at the top is a story in the Daily News. Below, both of her goals can be seen in this video. She is wearing white jersey #18.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Inspired to Flower

Inspired to Flower: Different Flower Meanings

Stock

This just a quick puff piece. KaBloom of Sandy Springs, recently voted as Atlanta's best flower shop, is using my photo of Stock in its blog "Inspired to Flower". This article talks about the meaning behind some of the more popular flowers.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Marmots Unite!


Free Mukmuk: the 'other' Olympic mascot

I am one those people who likes to do a vanity Google search from time to to time. If I were to be perfectly honest I will have to admit that I actually use "Google Alerts"to let me know when "The Marmot" or "Cliff Hutson" is mentioned in cyberspace.

Most of the hits I get on "The Marmot" are for the clothing company or some guy in Korea. Depending on how active I have been, not much lately, my Flickr and PBase work will show. However, tonight, Google came up with this touching little story, in the Vancouver Sun, about a fellow marmot (see the top link).

How can I not take up the banner for Mukmuk? We have to stick together even if I am not Canadian. I also love to eat, think orange is a great color (or colour), and would hibernate if I could get away with it.

So, lets hear it for the Marmot!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Ethnicity, Gender, Identity, and Politics


Yesterday my local NPR station managed to tear itself away from its post-Super Bowl coverage long enough to once again beat the drum about the dilemma that has befallen people of color and women in having to decide between Clinton and Obama.

It would seem that the majority of Democrats have already agreed on one thing - they do not want another Southern white male to be president. The media pundits also tell us that people are no longer interested in the issues. I am not sure that is true, per se. I think that most of us really can not see al that much difference between the two. Also, what they say now will not be long remembered by the time one of them is in office. So what this boils down to then is that we the people are going to vote on the basis of the 'character and image' of the candidate.

The character of a person is a hard thing to measure if you do not actually know them and their public behavior has not been too egregious. Now I am cynical so I feel that as politicians they both have to be corrupt in some way, so I call it a draw. That leaves us with image. This would seem to lead us back to the fact one is a black man and the other a white woman and that we have to identify with one or the other.

Obama and I have at least one thing in common, we are both mixed race. He is decidedly African-American. His father after all was from Africa. I, myself, am black. [I have no connection to Africa except at the level of my DNA. Due to the laxness of record keeping for slaves, I can only trace my family back to 1809. But, in the oral and written records that we do have there is no lore, legend, or account about our time in Africa. - But that is another story.] There has been much made of post-race America in the last few months. I doubt that we are there yet. If we were, there would not be so much fuss about the color of his skin and a lot more about the content of his character.

My gender aside, I can also identify with Clinton. I grew up in a family with many strong women. Most of my career I have worked with women as my peers and my bosses. Other countries have also shown us that women can be world leaders. The idea of a woman in authority is not a problem for me. But, is America ready for it?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Super Tuesday


Self-Portrait
Originally uploaded by The Marmot
This morning’s LA Times had a column by Steve Lopez talking about next Tuesday’s primary election. It was titled “Figuring out who's the better candidate.” Its theme was much the same as mine last Monday – how should a black person choose between Hilary Clinton and Barak Obama. It should be easy - vote for the candidate who will make the better president. But, that is hard to figure out and there is a lot of pressure to vote for the candidate’s gender or ethnicity.

It never made a difference to me in past primaries who was on the Democratic ballot as I have always been registered in a minor party (anybody remember the Peace and Freedom Party of the 60s) or as an independent. However, this year the Democrats are allowing “Non Partisans” to vote with them if we choose to do so. I am inclined to take them up on their offer.

I am inclined to vote for Obama. Now this might worry his supporters somewhat as in the forty years that I have been a registered voter – I have only voted for one presidential winner, Bill Clinton. Does this prove that I am a man who sticks to his principles or just totally out of touch with America, I am not sure.

There was a time when I felt that it did not really matter who was elected president. There is an old joke that goes something like – ‘they told me if I voted for (Senator Barry) Goldwater for President we would become involved in a land war in Asia. Well I did and we are.’ I thought that this was pretty much on the mark until the incumbent used September 11 as an excuse to involve us in a war that has proved to have no justification at all, continence torture, and throw billions of dollars to his cronies. (I will save his domestic policies for another screed.)

But, as long as Huckabee does not make to the White House, I am not too worried that things can get much worse in our country. So I am willing to cast my lot with another long shot. I say this because while conventional wisdom says that the Democratic nominee is likely to become the next president, in my heart I am not convinced. I think that when the chips are down, Americans are not yet ready for a woman or a person of color to be the national leader. I hope to be proven wrong, but only time will tell.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Quandary


Purple Cauliflower
Originally uploaded by The Marmot
I have been thinking some more about framing since my last post. Wikipedia tells that a frame in social theory consists of a schema of interpretation that individuals rely on to understand and respond to events.

Seemingly, a person constantly projects into the world around them the interpretive frames that allow them to make sense of it; we only shift frames (or realize that we have habitually applied a frame) when incongruity calls for a frame shift. In other words, we only become aware of the frames that we always already use when something forces us to replace one frame with another. An individual can effectively set an agenda by consistently invoking a particular frame. The framing party may then control discussion and perception of the issue.

Of course as I write this the South Carolina primary is well behind us, but in hindsight, framing was well illustrated for me in an NPC piece a few weeks ago. A reporter questioned three black women, high up in the Democrats political machine, about their preferences for Clinton or Obama. They all admitted to being in a quandary, ‘do I vote for Clinton because she is a woman like me, or do I vote for Obama because he is black like me?’

You call that a question? It falls in to the trap of choosing the language to define a debate and, more important, with fitting individual issues into the contexts of broader story lines. [The Framing Wars. New York Times July 17, 2005]. The question should be - “Who has the most potential to be a good president?” The rest is merely commentary.

By the way, how does purple cauliflower grab you?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Storytelling


Arborday Visitors
Originally uploaded by The Marmot
Stories, such as narratives, myths, and fables, amount to a strong medium of exchange in human relationships. Stories speak to both parts of the human mind - its reason and its emotion. They can inspire and motivate people as they provide a tool for putting vision in to words. Stories can serve as a means for learning and communicating. They provide a powerful mechanism for capturing and leveraging knowledge, one that is complementary to logical thinking, or what we think of as "just the facts."

Fairhurst and Sarr(1996), in their book on framing, further explain, "Effective leaders present the world with images that grab our attention and interest. They use language in ways that allow us to see leader-ship not only as big decisions but as a series of moments in which images build upon each other to help us construct a reality to which we must then respond."

It has long been a practice of mine to mix personal or humorous stories in to almost all my presentations I make for work. Actually, I have become somewhat famous (or infamous) for this and frequently someone will call out for me to tell an “Aunt Dagmar” story as I get up to speak.

I think I grew in to this as I see storytelling as a performance rather than a mere act of narration. Thus when I tell a story I assume a persona that has no fear of public speaking, obviating the fact that I am really a shy person. I am extremely awkward when confronted with one or two people tête-à-tête as it were. But, put me on a stage and I am in hog heaven. This has led to some misunderstandings. Most people seem to feel the exact opposite about these situations. So when they come up to chat afterwards, or even worse during an obligatory rubber chicken lunch, and find that I am no longer my sparkling self; they assume that I am arrogant or aloof. This is not a good thing. But, if I have not changed by now I probably never will so I just have to deal with the fallout.

I use a form of storytelling when I give tours at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden as well. I think that people appreciate a plant more if rather than just giving them its name and then moving on that I tell them why I relate to it, why it has the name that it does, or how it can be used for food, fun, or fabric. This has been quite rewarding for me as at least once a season I will garner applause at the end of a tour. That is quite a boost to my ego.

Now, some educators fault me for being more of “sage on the stage” rather than a teacher. But I feel that my storytelling is interactive and does not create an imaginary barrier between me and the group. This is part of what distinguishes storytelling from the forms of theatre that use an imaginary “fourth wall.” The NSN says "that the interactive nature of storytelling partially accounts for its immediacy and impact. At its best, storytelling can directly and tightly connect the teller and audience."

Monday, January 21, 2008

A Challenge

Gentle Reader (if indeed there is one of you):

Blogging is a challenge for me. Part of it is I seldom know if anyone is actually reading it. Pearls Before Swine is one of my favorite comics. Sometime back Rat suggested to Goat that more people would read Goat's blog if he posted it on the refrigerator door instead of the internet.

That is probably the case with me as well. I have no one but myself to blame. My content is really nothing to write home about and, in any event, it has no focus. I chalk this to the fact that I have not found my voice, if I have one. So far I have just written what ever comes in to my head as I see some Monday, Wednesday, or Friday start to slip away without a posting.

Today is one of those days. It was a day off from work, but I tried to get around to some of the chores I have been putting off or waiting to around to it. Well one of those literally blew up in my face. So after I scheduled an electrician to come and set things tomorrow, I ended up running errands with Susan, my wife. So tonight I am rather zonked.

Ergo, I am faced with a dilemma post something that lacks any depth or substance, or not post anything - forgoing my three times a week schedule. Obviously, I went with the first option. I made this choice as I know that regular posting is one of the things that attract readership. If I broke my sting today it will be easier to do it in the future. I want to better with this blog than I did on my first and second attempts.

Thus, in a small way, I have faced this challenge for today. Now, I offer you a different one:



Friday, January 18, 2008

Motivating Yourself and Others


Not All Work
Originally uploaded by The Marmot
This past Wednesday I attended a class on "Motivating Yourself and Others." My boss strongly suggested that it would be better for the both of us if I did. It is true that my fervor for work has cooled off quit a bit. But , cynic that I am, I doubted that any class the job was paying for could actually give me a kick start.

Much to my surprise, the class was very good. We covered the challenges we face by having four generations in the workforce at one time. I am an "early boomer" and most of the people that I work with are, shall we say, quite seasoned. So it was interesting to see how the members of the "x" and "y" generations are motivated by things that might be anathema to many of us. This theory, of course, uses broad generalizations or stereotypes. So we also discussed personality types (I am a "High Achiever") and what was likely to motivate them.

Let it be known that I am not the type of guy who can be motivated by a pretty picture and a clever saying. However, I was excited when I left. Then after sleeping on it, the feeling passed.

I would like to note that the next day my boss was to attend. When she got to the junction of the 605 and the 60, she had a choice - continue straight to get to class or bear right and go home. She went home.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Continued Sunny


Cucamonga Peak
Originally uploaded by The Marmot
A typical Southern California view. The weather where I was standing, in front of the Corner Bakery in Victoria Gardens, was about 80 degrees.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Eat Fresh, Eat Local


Sweet Corn
Originally uploaded by The Marmot
My wife and I have frequented the local farmers market for years. We have done this for several reasons. There is a commitment to support the local economy (albeit no one will be sending their kids to college on the amount we spend). The products seem to be fresher and tastier than those at the mega marts. Then there is the ability to find items that are, for one reason or another, not available in the markets around here, but seem to be better than those that are.

Our favorite find this past year was Reed avocados. The Reed is a large, round avocado that slips easily from the peel, and has very good flavor and texture. It will stay firm even when ripe, so it's perfect for sandwiches and in salads, but not as good for guacamole.

The photo of sweet corn was taken at the farmers market about a year ago. Yes, I know it was winter. But, in Southern California, where the land ranges from the deserts to the sea, the seasons have little meaning. We are still harvesting tomatoes from Susan's garden, even though we have had a couple of nights of frost. But, I digress. The point is that when we first moved out here we could buy corn and strawberries from farm stands next to the fields where they were grown. These were only a few minutes away from home. Sadly, most of these have been forced out by housing development. One of these developments, not far from us, has assumed the unlikely name of "Sycamore Grove". Rightfully, it should be called "Strawberry Fields".

But, strawberry fields are not forever. Just before we arrived, an agricultural preserve had been established on a large tract of land to the southeast of us. It was to have lasted for perpetuity. It turns out that perpetuity is only ten years, not time without end as my thesaurus would have it.

Anyway, we are now buying further removed from the fields, but as local as possible. Little did we know that we have become part of a growing (no pun intended) trend. Seemingly, “eat local” has become a mantra of the environmental movement. It makes sense that buying crops that are not transport hundreds, if not thousands, of miles has a lesser impact on the planet. Being organic as most of the growers at the farmers' market is also a positive thing.

We are not hardcore in our commitment. Apples from Washington state are fine with us, those from New Zealand are not. We still shop at the supermarket when we feel the need. But, we have resolved to only eat what is in season and avoid imports, except for bananas. It remains to be seen how this works out for us.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Moleskinerie

moleskinerie

Moleskinerie is a blog dedicated to all things Moleskine, a brand of notebook manufactured by Moleskine srl, an Italian company.

I am not sure how I first discovered these notebooks. But, I own several and admit to being a bit taken in by the hyperbole about the legendary writers like Hemingway and Bruce Chatwin used them. But, actually they are very cleverly designed. They are bound, not in moleskin, but in oilcloth-covered cardboard. They also have an elastic band to hold the notebooks closed. A sewn spine allows them to lie flat when opened. They come in a variety of sizes and can be put to many uses.

Moleskine notebooks seem to be an obsession of many people, as witnessed on the pages of Moleskinerie. I am not obsessed, but I do recommend them.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Cooking


My Old Cook Book
Originally uploaded by The Marmot

I no longer remember when I began to learn to cook, but by the time I was twelve, when called upon, I could prepare a meal for the family. Once on my own, during collage and working I continued to cook, although nothing I made was very involved. When I moved in with the woman who was to become my wife we split duties in the kitchen about evenly. That was when I purchased the cookbook pictured here. I can not vouch for the current edition, this one is from the 70s, but I still feel that it was one of the best on the market. However, as I began getting increased responsibilities at work, putting in more hours at the office and sitting longer in traffic - I stopped cooking.

A few months ago, after a year or so of watching the Food Network, I announced that I was going to begin cooking again when I retired. Then, a short time later, I decided there was no need to wait and started to prepare meals on the weekends, a small step to be sure, but quite enjoyable.

The act of cooking is quite pleasing in itself. I actually get excited when I can successfully transform ingredients into food. Mainly, I depend on recipes to do what I do. But, I am also able to make successful departures from time to time. My goal is to learn is to learn how to put things together, rather than carefully proceed through a list step by step, with confidence and aplomb.

It would be wonderful to be able to stroll through the famers’ market some Sunday, pick up a few things that look first-class, and come home and fix something that tastes good. I have a lot to learn about flavors, textures, and balance before this happens. I think I can do it with observation and practice. Then, maybe by the time I retire I will actually have my own repertoire and really cook up a storm.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Jambalaya with Shrimp, Ham, and Andouille Sausage

I cooked this back in October. It was the first dish that I had prepared in a long time. Luckily, my affinity for Creole and Cajun cooking stood me well. As it has tomatoes this is a Creole version (red jumbalaya.)

Thinking about this tonight prompts me to give a shout out to The Southern Foodways Alliance . The SFA documents and celebrates the diverse food cultures of the American South. Quoting from their web site "We set a common table where black and white, rich and poor -- all who gather -- may consider our history and our future in a spirit of reconciliation."

Sounds good to me, check them out: SFA