Mother Lode of Mint

Even though it’s been compared to toothpaste, since I first tasted Chocolate Mint ice cream (at Baskin-Robbin’s, back in Tarzana, twelve cents a scoop) I have been smitten. Luckily in college they only had it on Fridays, so I didn’t turn into a blimp.

These days (which happen to be in the 80’s Fahrenheit) I pass the neighborhood fancy grocer at least three times a week, there is a one in a million chance I’ll find exactly that in there.

Yesterday was the day. But not just one mint chip pint–thirty of them. Two different kinds: a ‘paleo’ ice cream touting its “no added sugar” (hmmmmm, by the name of Rebel, and the other one was a vegan product labeled chocolate mint. They were melted, but I could freeze ’em back up.

So here’s a shot of just a few of them. I don’t have much freezer space (hoarder! of food! and forgetter! of what’s in there! Especially! in the back!)
And how to deal with all this plunder?
Apply directly to the thighs, in a circular motion, every night?
No… but it’s a well known fact that I treat any container of icecream (pint, quart, half gallon) as a ‘serving’ which is ….evidence of a  problem. Internally ‘applied’.

mint chipNot sure if it’s OK to have a party yet–we’re in week ten of coronavirus quarantine, and parties are (for good reason) frowned upon.

Will report anon…

It’s safe to say this was another $200 (or more) score.


Kim Severson Rocks

I just read her story Rice That’s Rich With History–about the grain, Oryza glaberrima, also called upland bearded red rice and the canny Africans that cultivated it next to their slave’s quarters…and how it was thought to have died out, but was discovered flourishing in Trinidad, where the descendants of dozens of helpful slaves who took arms against their American owners to side with the British in the war of 1812 were rewarded with acreage….in the Caribbean. (Hate to think who THEY deposed when given their allotted per-person 16 acres….)

Anyway it’s a killer read and it led me to Anson Mills, workaholic obsessive growers and purveyors of grains and products you will not find in the best health food store in the country (Good Earth here in Fairfax).  That led me to buy 100 bux worth of their finest…

My ‘cart’ :

2x Antebellum Coarse White Grits – bag / 12 oz for $5.95 each
1x Farro Piccolo – bag / 12 oz for $7.95 each
1x Handmade Toasted Stone Cut Oats – box / 10 lb for $59.50 each
1x Laurel-Aged Charleston Gold Rice – bag / 14 oz for $7.95 each
1x Sea Island Benne Seeds – box / 1 lb for $10.95 each

I submit this to you to illustrate how a somewhat unmoneyed individual can save a lot of dough with half a lifetime of gleaning, thus freeing up funds for impulse purchases made after reading a really good news story which I realize is more than ever, a vehicle for getting us Americans to buy, buy buy.


Nefle jam

IMG_3779 IMG_3780 IMG_3781 IMG_3782 IMG_3783 IMG_3784In Switzerland, they call it ‘nefle’; we call it a loquat. A smallish orange apricot-colored fruit in a tree, with dark green palmate leaves.

Saw my first at Kristin Nute’s wedding in Inverness.  As we mingled on her parent’s property, I found a tasty, weird fruit, and promised myself I’d ride 50 miles round trip (from Fairfax) to collect. But then I found ’em in Fairfax. They should be used immediately, or they will develop bruises (see second picture–they’re just a day off the tree….the ones in my hand are picked an hour earlier..)

But in between Kristin Nute’s nuptials and the present, I was in Switzerland–Montreux, chez Aline Lux, who made me an incredible meal topped off with “Tarte aux Nefles”…it was this delicate fruit in a delicious pastry shell.

So, a year later, I see the same fruit here in Fairfax and San Anselmo… so I grabbed a few pounds, but was too lazy to fabricate a short pastry crust. I just boiled those babies down.

The next day I brought more home, and PEELED them. What a hassle. There ‘s a lot of work in peeling small, golf-ball and smaller fruits.

I can live with the fiber, and the less-hassle, but I did want to see if there was a difference. Taste-wise, there isn’t. It’s a tangy, delicious flavor that is Strictly Non-Commercial. I love making food that Can’t Be Had (go ahead and write to me telling me of Medlar, or Japanese Medlar/loquat jam available at Costco).

Here are some pix of the steps.

You know the drill.

1. Remove seeds (or Peel, then remove seeds)(which are interesting because there can be one seed, two, or three, or up to five! Fine, brown, ultra-slippery irregularly-shaped, wet seeds you wouldn’t want to trip on, on a smooth floor.

2. Put good bits in pan, add some lemon juice and some sugar (I’m not going to bother you about the amount–it’s up to you) and boil for about five-ten minutes, then pour into a nice glass jar, and eat as fast as you can..i have no idea how to make jam that lasts for a long time.

Rose Syrup, or Failed Rose Jelly


Or: rose jam gone awry. My “Fragrant Cloud” is blooming more than ever before, and because of her quadruple-f (high fragrance rating according to Vintage Gardens nursery) I decided to try to capture it.

Soaked a tubful of the fresh petals in water overnight, boiled them in the (two cups) water for about five or ten minutes over at my friend Joan’s place, threw in about 2 c. sugar and a packet of pectin and a squeeze of lemon. Stirred. Waited.

It was pretty, and according to the recipe you’re supposed to strain out the petals, but excuse me: they are the source of the fragrance.
THe recipe had also called for cutting off the paled  “bitter” tip of each petal, the part that secures it to the center of the flower…Dream on!
OK, so I got some of the tastiest imaginable syrup, full of these floating rags of “wet blue jeans” according to one bloggist. To me they were edible shreds of Eden.

Joan got a couple small very beautiful pink jars, and I kept a quart.  Breakfast looked like the third picture.

Dribble it on your cream cheese toast


Another year, another meal

Marcie’s Birthday Menu

June 16, 2011

Taj Mahovel

Sauteed organic mixed mushrooms on sesame crackers

Thin coins of black radish—note spiral pattern!

Tahini spiked with chipotle puree

Tomato soup a la Wombat

Almost Vegan Potato Salad

Ice Cream w/raspberries

Black tea

Assorted rice crackers



In the last few months I did a couple of foolish moves to simplify my life: close a bank account that charges monthly fee, without remembering that there were a couple of checks out in the econosphere I’d written the previous week. Like me, the recipients probably didn’t just toss them in the bank the same day.
Hence, impressive overdraft fees, and a cascade of other  consequences like my  Visa card (I was the last person on earth to get one, since I’m aware how idiots like me end up spending a decade paying off the INTEREST ALONE on this predatory bit of plastic) being dunned for insufficient funds..

It’s like banking is a many-part math problem that I am paying insufficent attention to.

Tomorrow I’ll go to two banks and ask if they will consider waiving the punitive fee because I’ve never racked up an overdraft in 30 years there…it’s worth a try.

Speaking of frazzled, Jef Mallet’s cartoon a math problem that involves shopping, a bicycle, and velocity. Today I got a couple hundred bucks worth of food for CC (I don’t shop for me, remember? I forage like a rat, it’s so much more exciting) and wobbled home at about 3 mph….the picture of errand efficiency.
Kid at the Good Earth gave me a spontaneous shoulder-pat, saying “You’re great!” as I bagged up the groceries, baby bok choi on the bottom, 10-lb sack of potatoes on top).

He said he was Patrick and no, he didn’t know me. Just a spontaneous outburst of esteem, the kind of thing that makes Fairfax so bloody fair.

I had admired two different women’s outfits on my way into town: one was an Edward Gorey masterpiece in dark Victorian hues, topped with a grand black hat, and the other was a Bo-Peep frilled pantatlette vision in sheperdess pulchritude, set off atop black and white striped Pippi longstockings.

Man, life is good.

But you do have to pay bills, not just swan around town admiring the well-dressed denizens, and grabbing clothes from free boxes for future (2015 A.D at the earliest) ‘projects’.

Here’s my resume for receptionist at the extremely snooty Bay Club Day Spa.  I figured that their ad in Craig’s List meant they would be hip enough to read between the lines in my resume.

Never heard back, so I called three times to follow up the paper resume I’d wowed them with , and the contents of which are set forth below:

Jacquie Phelan 540 Dogbark Drive Fairfax CA 94930 415-459-etc.

Spa Receptionist


Key Skills

  • Customer attunement
  • Adept verbal/written skills in MS Office, Filemaker, WordPress
  • Personable, attractive, impeccable memory for names, faces and voices.
  • Telephonic talent, sales wizardry.
  • Computer skills : Word, Excel, Power Point, Photoshop


Professional  Experience


Freelance writer, fitness topics Pacific Sun 1994-present
Professional Bicycle Racer 1983-1994

Women’s Fitness Center receptionist and trainer,  Fairfax CA 1984-1986

Solarius Fitness Center receptionist and trainer, San Francisco, CA 1980-1984

Adept first-point-of-contact person

Commended for ability to pacify the impossible, and solve member’s difficulties.

Understands the value of word-of-mouth membership referrals.

Able to create  reports, swab down machinery and locker rooms, attend to whirlpool details and always have a stack of fresh towels at the ready, with one hand tied behind my back.

”Jacquie’s role in cycling  bicycle culture assured that a much larger population (and more diverse, both age and genderwise) enjoys the outdoors in Marin. She is sure to be an asset to the Bay Club as the  Sanctuary Spa receptionist.”
Marilyn Price

Trips For Kids 415-454-1389


“You’d be good for the Bay Club”

Bonnie Phippen

Mill Valley, Bay Club Marin member


And then, of course, the cover letter:

Bay Club Marin

220 Corte Madera Town Center

Corte Madera CA 94926

March 19, 2011

Dear Stacy

I’m interested in applying for the job listed in Craiglist for Sanctuary Spa receptionist.


Please let me know if there is anything more  you’d like to know about me and my employment history. I’ve been self-employed most of my life but as the ‘gate person’ for novice mountain biking women for the last twenty five years, I think I know a little bit about the role of receptionist.

I know a lot about healing mud.
Feel free to call if you are interested in interviewing me in person.
I’d really relish the chance to serve the legendary Bay Club in this vital capacity. Sincerely,    Jacquie Phelan

Dear reader/rider




Bread Pudding & Sage Brown Butter

Today I get a visit from Swiss bikeshop owner and fierce vintage bike collector Peter Stutz.
Since I like to feed folks, I added a layer of finesse to my staple, savory  bread pudd.
Sage brown butter caught my attention a few years ago, and when I make pasta and don’t want to bother with sauce, I saute some sage leaves.
This is an actual sauce (the bread pudd was drier than usual).

Check ‘er out:

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 8 sage leaves or a couple TB of sage bits
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 cup grated hard cheese


Melt butter in a  heavy bottom  skillet until golden brown. Add sage leaves (SIZZZLE!)  and turn down heat. Add lemon juice , some stock (today I used water from cooked dried beans),  cheese, stir. Don’t let the stove catch on fire (hot butter scares me this way).
The smoke was thick, I had to open up doors. In winter this means house gets cool, which when I’m fixing food is a blessing.

The bread pudding was simple: chopped stale sourdough (3 cups), four eggs beaten with a cup of milk (should have been two) and a pint of ricotta. Lay bread in oiled or parchmented baking dish, chop up VERY FINELY a half onion, several leaves of kale, any sort, and a couple stalks of celery. Alternate: saute the celery & onions but not the kale) in butter, then mix with egg slurry).

Pour it all over the  bread, bake at 350 for 45 min.

Pour brown scary butter sauce over it.

Black Mountain Cycles Afternoon

After ten days home, twas time to make someone do the nasty job of resurrecting my poor touring bike from the near-dead.

I’d put away most of my exploded luggage

I re-learned how to make a fire in the Jotul. The Clean Way.

I”d deferred maintenance long enough. But I don’t LIKE working on bikes.
Geoff H. was going to go out to the Best Shop In The County (and best-hidden!), aka Black Mountain Cycles, so he let me and pieces-of-Bruiser come along.
My 1995 Breezer Lightening used to go by the name of  “Steal This Bike”,  since it was mass produced, and not my size.

(Spoiled Woman Alert!)

Too-long top tube, icky seat angle, wrong stem, bars, etc.. everything in need of  mollification. All the tweaks Charlie performed (read “investment of time”)  make “Steal” impossible to let go of.  Not even the crushing, ripping damage inflicted by that pickup truck (the one I left my bike lying in front of, out of view) three years ago was able to kill ol’  STB.

Now  I call it  Bruiser. Bruiser sallied forth onto delightfully technical trails of New Zealand with a shrug and a rattle, but never a complaint.  Em  (Power Girl) Miazga doted Bruiser’s “prowess”  when we did Coppermine ride outside of Nelson, a body-slammer of a descent.

Home grown french fries+silk skirt=bad idea?

Serious heft

The only thing I felt like doing today was reading cool stuff on the web.

First, a few words from a women’s publication I’d never heard of: BITCH magazine.   In it,  Joshunda Saunders writes “Eat, Pray, Spend” , a critical look at “priv/lit”, which is self-help writing/preaching to  the choir (upper middle class women readers).  This is  a hundred and thirty year tradition: advice that spurs sales of products that ‘fix’ problems both real and created. Products that coincidentally are advertised in the magazine being read by the self-help seekress.

Saunders mentions a more credible, less ‘subsidized’  writer (Eat Pray Love‘s year was underwritten by a book publisher!) . I’d never heard of the more scrupulous writer–Paige Williams)– so had to read HER stuff…dig up her website (she’s a journalist/writing professor), which catapulted me  into her article about a woman my age who’d written “Possum Living”  35 years ago. “Dolly Freed” (cute pseudonym) was 18 at the time, and successfully sold some publisher her anything-but-humble instructions on living the good life outside the money economy.
The only thing I could do after all this reading was :

a) write a fan note to Ms. Williams and

b) dig around in the potato patch and flip some compost.

Results: unrealistic hopes of a return note, a good appetite, and one  monster potato  mortally wounded with the shovel.  We can’t eat the potatoes fast enough, and often let potatoes sprout. This ‘reaching out’ reminds you to eat ’em.    I had to cook my prize out of compassion– it’s injured… I’ll make oven fries and end its misery…. I might even notice this ‘same-day freshness’ thing everyone obsesses about. I’m so happy with third-rate dumpster produce, I forget that the real deal is twenty feet away, if I’d just go grub it up.

Feast for one: brew, fries, and very hot collard kimchee

While it was  baking, I pulled out an iridescent orange/pink  silk  wiggle skirt I’d found , probably hurled by some 110-lb  style junkie.  It looks like it’s about three months out of fashion. Orange is still hot , you know. Toyed with the idea of cutting it up and making a splendid tea cozy, but then thought about the slave labor that went into creating the garment–the zipper, the hem, the slit up the side, the facing on the waist…how dare I slash such skilled handiwork?

Charlie took pictures after I’d packed myself into it…you  decide: does that plate of french fries make my butt look fat?

Can you say: "Chorizo"?

Me and my size Naan Jimmy Chews

in-sole-ent behavior

We had a guest yesterday, the fast-growing Patrick Farrell, who first visited us as a pup still at UC School o’ Journalism, writing a story on the politics of mountain biking.

He’s a Nebraska boy who now–five years  after that interview–has been to Kyrgistan, Africa, and Milpitas to write about things ranging from table tennis prodigies to geopolitics to young urban subsistence hunters.
It was too damp to muddy up my bikes (I’m unwilling to do a minute of maintenance per minute of riding) so I proposed having lunch in the Habitat.
“I’ve got some nice insoles” I told him.

“Plus two kinds of soup: sweet potato health glop and chicken soup with all the bones left in.”

Nothing but the best for my guests!