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!
While waiting for a Christmas concert to start in freezing Sausalito, I loitered in the SBC church basement of when a singer came in waving a fistful of pink flowers.
This late in the year, it’s rare to see pink, and I had her tell me precisely how to find her parking spot on Harrison street, up seven flights of stairs above the church.
At home, CC and I polished off a few of the fruit I’d found lying in the gutter …THEN we looked it up on the web.
In our research, CC and I turned up the amazing Jackie French, an Australian writer of 80 books, one of which I own (“Diary of a Wombat”, illustrated by Bruce___).
Turns out Ms. French keeps a gorgeous house, and has a garden that among many other things features precisely the unusual, droopy fruit with gorgeous pink-purple flower that Julie stole from a hedge last night.
In case the flower and fruit prove to be too excitingly delicious, the antidote is conveniently located in the vine’s three-lobed leaves…the web tells us that passiflorine is a glycoside proven for centuries to calm a body down…hence all the passionflower (leaf) tea on the healthfood store shelves..
the interior of these are like Persian rugs, or brain scans, or ....
Out in the hills on a bike ride today I immediately realize my error in not packing along a couple of plastic bags as I roamed fifty-plus mile into West Marin’s farmland and ranches being sold to create subdivisions (mansions only). Two places for sale, the Borello ranch (670 acres or so) and some other one, 1000 acres. Longtime residents are cashing out.
The 800 acre beauty, the one on Wilson Hill has been developed into a wine yard, sadly. The colored vines arrayed along the road and up the hill mean “there goes the neighborhood”.
Out with the unpainted barn, the cowshit-smeared road (how I miss it, I do, I do!)
the roses on the fence and the laundry on the line. In with the wine. The olives. The car collections.
I drink wine.
I like local products.
The first find, at the corner of Creek Rd and ooh I can’ tell you, was the first feijoa of fall.
Er, ‘autumn’ .
Mark Fitz sez his wife, downhill champ Marla Streb, refuses to utter the word ‘fall’ because it’s bad ju-ju.
I stuffed about two dozen nice big fat “Martian lemons” in my jersey, and found a bag to put them in further up the street, stashed the full bag deep in the brambles in the next block. Over 50 miles fruit–any kind–in your back pocket will become salty, gooey compost.
Head out west to the farmlands and soon-to-be patchwork of palaces on 10 acre plots. Daydream about how very similar this all seems to 1981, the year I dove into racing, time trialled up that road (permanently earning the opprobrium of the Boys Of Summer, thanks to my sketchy judgement in the s-turn section) and really, it’s not all that different except traffic is way up, maybe five fold since 25 years ago.
Around the dam-side of the Nicasio reservoir there is a roadside ditch that always has watercress. In recent years the ditch has been eradicated, save near the Tocaloma Bridge, and there I threw down my bike (sorry, carefully laid ‘er down on the non-derailleur side).
Tip toed into the mire, and pulled out two handfuls of the fresh stems and leaves.
It’s an easy-to-pick-herb, nothing stringy or tough about it. But because of its need to have wet feet it’ wouldn’t be easy to cultivate.
Making it all the more Desirable to have on the dinner table.
Just made myself a blackberry and dried cherry clafouti. It looked so good in the dish yesterday, but today it looks tired and deflated. Sort of an aborted dessert. At which point, this heinous pun headline popped into my head…. Roussel-Uclafoutis. A controversial dish, universally appreciated. Best when enjoyed within a few hours of pullling out of the oven…
O.K. Now what am I ‘really’ saying? Roussel-Uclaf is the drug company that makes RU-40, the abortificaent that keeps a few million women from poverty by allowing them to hold off on delivering a baby until they, the mom are ready (hence the ‘out of the oven’ reference).
I might be too chicken to be truly cointreauversial…but had to commit this food-pun to cybertype…
"what a gift we have in cheeses"
I dug into a cellophane sack of debris from my fave food-depot, and saw a handful of hard cheese rinds (smells like parmigiano but there’s no blue Reggiano tattoos) with at least five mm of perfectly good cheese left.
Back at home the big question becomes: do I still have that cool kitchen gadget, the Mouli grater? For pack rats, retrieval is always an issue.
One kitchen drawer is full of seldom-used (=never) “conveniences” : garlic tube made of latex! Horn–handled meat forks! Ditto fondue! Abalone shell spoons! An entanglement of riches.
Still, I’d have grated my knuckles bloody rather than throw out that precious cheese..but the Mouli surfaced within seconds of prying the three plastic funnels out from behind the drawer.
Blew out the resident spider, and popped a rind into the carousel (I just made that name for the rotating barrel with the grating holes in it) and with a VERY satisfying turn or two I had a small pile of downy cheese-dandruff mounded on the cutting board.
The pic barely shows it but I didNOT throw out the extremely thin chips of rind: those go in soup stock, don’t you know?
Found a dozen or so of these tiny plastic bottles…it’s not the first time. It’s a product that supposedly restores one’s inner gut garden. Because it’s so ‘sanitarily packaged’ I happily grab them. They take up nearly no room.
I have no idea of their cost.
But so far, I’m alive and better than well. So maybe “Yakult” probiotic does the job…As I rolled into town, I swunb by my favorite (repositioned) dumpster and found them…and two pounds of unsalted butter (I rarely discover butter, this is a red-letter day for me) and three quarts of buttermilk.
So I can guzzle a whole quart on a hot day, like Mr. Saroyan described doing in his story about growing up in Bakersfield.
Chard! Cilantro! Rocket!
All growing madly in the little raised circular patch in Flagstaff…One look at their abundant (and somewhat gone-to-seed) vegetable patch kicked my culinary chakra in to high gear.
“Sure, pick what you want…they are all plants that re-seeded themselves from last year…we hardly do anything with them.”
MMMMMmusic to my ears.
Within an hour we were slurping up a minestra inspired by all the Italian mamas who never throw anything away.
Someone in the household (not naming names) was pitching a small lunch-sized container of home made bean and hominy soup.
All it needed was my tomato paste (from the found-on-the-street tomatoes in SF last week) and all those greens. And a dash of chipotle sauce.
And musical. Like old times…lift a cheek and issue an ‘opinion’ of the food.
Bad cook. BAD cook.