Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Kotzebue, O Kotzebue

Kotzebue, AK was a very, very different moviemaking experience. This was for a film called "Salmonberries," which very few have seen unless you're a serious k.d. lang fan. Kotzebue is 30 miles north of the Arctic Circle, and well, it's cold. No, really, it's cold. You could put ice cream on a window ledge indoors, and it would be fine. Our group took over the only motel in town, and we had the true Northern Exposure experience. I got to take a snowmobile to the bank, which was pretty awesome, and we all went out to see the Northern Lights in the wee hours, which is an experience I'll never forget.

I met my best friend on this job, and one of her favorite moments is refered to as the Snowmobile Incident. We were riding a snowmobile around the tundra and we got stuck. I hopped off to see what was wrong, and hopped into snow up to my boobs. Yes, the snowmobile is on top of the snow, but I am looking straight into my friend's foot. She is laughing her head off and it was like the scene in "A Christmas Story," when the little brother can't get up with his snowsuit on. I could not get out of this hole. Yes, in case you were wondering, I eventually did. It took a while.

Another friend had her husband send care packages from Dean & DeLuca, so we would concoct pasta recipes in the dye pots on a hot plate and have black olive tapenade on water crackers. Alcohol would be sent on the plane from Fairbanks, but there was never really a schedule, so you got it when you got it. The craft service tray consisted of catsup packets, tea bags and mini-Snickers. The wardrobe trailer was a pink plastic sled from the hardware store. Playing Bingo with the locals, lots of parties and craziness that was simply one of a kind. I miss times and film experiences like this, and am afraid they are no more.

So, now it's getting cooler and I'm thinking about concocting again. Here is my take on White Chicken Chili, using a crock pot. It came out well, but was even better the next day. There are so many recipes on-line for this, so dear reader, I would check them out and use one that suits you. I also made Ensalada Rosaura, which is linked to the blog title. This was yummy, especially if you like a simple salad with Mexican flavors. Please try this, as it was easy to make and delicious.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Me and Martha Stewart, 1989

Remember that number in Bye Bye Birdie called "Ed Sullivan?" I always thought there should be some sort of reverant theme song for MS, orchestral with clouds parting and everyone in khaki and a button down shirt. I first learned about Martha from my roommate in 1989. We watched a PBS show that had Martha doing Thanksgiving, by herself, at her Connecticut farmhouse. Also, she was getting sloshed on camera. At least, that's how I remember it. And, croquembouche...she was very, very big on the croquembouche (recipe linked to title). But she was Martha in all her Martha-ness, and for someone like me, a divorced kid from Santa Cruz, this was the ideal with which I pressed my nose to the window. Again, this is early MS, not the Cybill Shepherd version.

Someone I worked with was getting married to a wealthy girl, and Martha was their wedding coordinator. For nine months, I heard about the planning of this wedding. An Empire State Building cake by Sylvia Weinstock, complete with King Kong, etc., etc. The wedding was at the bride's home in a bedroom community of NYC, and a few of the groom's friends were invited to the event. I was in my mid-20's, so all of this was a big deal. Flying to NY, getting the right outfit, figuring out trains, getting to see Martha in her glory, all of it. I chose a very smart light wool suit and heels...people, this was the late 80's, so work with me. Oh, and the wedding was in early September. Wool, heat, humidity, let the fun begin.

My guest and I get on the train, a little verklempt. But, there would be cabs when we got there, so we could try and cool down before arriving. Well, no cabs. No cabs two towns over. Nothing. So, we walked...not five miles in the snow, but two miles in heels and humidity. We finally got to the family manse, and you can imagine how glamorous we looked. I rang the doorbell, and there was Martha, in a wraparound skirt and espadrilles. All we wanted was a bathroom, but the guests weren't allowed in the house. She directed us, with disdain I might add, to the portosans around the back. And that, my friends, was the beginning and really, the end.

I didn't grow up poor, but I didn't have a silver spoon, either. It was quite a show to see, as the family spent an enormous amount of money for this shindig. A dining platform was built for a sit down dinner for 350 people. Waiters passing around mint juleps, making me wonder when I left for Kentucky. It was truly incredible. The groom's friends, well, we all were seated at one table in the corner. I think you get the drift. We had fun, left for the city and its various bars, and kept our red-headed stepchild party going into the wee hours.

So, in honor of this event, I made the Pumpkin Ice Box Pie, in Martha's Everyday Food magazine. And, like that evening in 1989, it was good, not great, and a little runny.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cleaning House

I've needed to do a lot of house cleaning, both interior and exterior. The exterior is easy, as long as I can motivate my lazy ass. Here are some before and after pix of my kitchen cabinets. While this ended up taking maybe 30 minutes to do, I started wondering why I've procrastinated on this and a lot of other house projects. No more excuses are allowed, so the next big project is my guest room, aka House of Junk. I renovated my house a year ago (!), and there are still some boxes to go through, art to hang, stuff to put away and paper to shred. I guess you could say I'm a slow learner.

Tonight, I made Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Onions and Mushrooms. Set the oven to 425 degrees, peel and chop 2 lbs. of sweet potatoes, 1 onion and some mushrooms. Toss in olive oil, dried thyme, salt and pepper (I used my Jalapeno Salt, again), and roast for about 45 minutes, checking and stirring occasionally. They came out with some crunch, and are delicious! I'm trying some things out before Thanksgiving, and this one is a keeper. Plus, I enjoy peeling potatoes...there's something comforting and old fashioned about it. I usually put myself in a 50's movie, with an apron that has some rickrack on it and cat's eye glasses. However, wiping mushrooms with a damp paper towel...how many times have we seen this in a recipe? This is a pain in the ass, and really, does this clean it? I may be unemployed, but I am going back to the prepackaged and cleaned mushrooms. Cleaning mushrooms DOES NOT fit into my 50's movie scenario.

As for the interior house cleaning, it's all about how I'm handling and or going to handle my stress. I would love to identify myself with this picture of Fred...he looks like he's experiencing Nirvana. I just finished a tough three-week gig, and it took a lot out of me. Any suggestions on how to deal with it when it's happening, and how to relieve it when you get home would be great. But, seriously, I already have a prescription for a certain something, so I need suggestions that don't involve greenery.

Tomorrow, the long awaited Martha Stewart story...