Saturday, February 25, 2017

A Little Rustic Bread in Wine Country

Finally, there was a break in the weather!  A reprieve from the rain.  It was a gorgeous, sunny, billowy cloud kinda day and it happened to fall on the day my girlfriend and I had a rustic bread making class at one of my favorite farms and winery (Red Ridge Farms/Durant Winery) here in the Willamette Valley.   So we wound our way through wine country on this perfect day, mouths watering for carbs and wine and the need to learn to make bread.

Now, the last time I made bread was when I was in my 20's.    I wanted to make something special for my mom and dad, something with a little artisan flare.  I wanted to show the world that I could conquer yeast and kneading and rolling and punching.   When I took it out of the oven and accidentally dropped it on the kitchen floor, I think it cracked the floor tile.  Needless to say, dad passed on taking a bite for fear he'd end up at the dentist with broken teeth.  That was the first and last time I made bread from scratch.   I didn't want to hurt anyone with my baking.

Oh but today, now today was fun.   After watching Chef Kusuma Rao make a few perfect loaves, I think I can try it again.  It looked so easy and if at first you don't succeed, wait 30 years and try again, right?  Oh and the variations are endless!  Olive bread, cheese bread, garlic bread with whole garlic cloves!  The ideas are like a painter's palette waiting for an artist to come along and create beautiful art...or in this case, beautiful bread!

We were also taught how to make a great Cumin Cauliflower Pate and a sort of beet hummus that was to-die-for but the chef wouldn't give us her recipe for that.  I guess chefs have to keep some secrets.


If you want to find more information on Chef Kusuma Rao, her website is

Happy baking!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

I thought I'd forever be the single crazy cat lady....I was wrong. So wrong.

So this happened while I've been away.  

And because that happened....this happened...and nine makes our perfect furry family.

And this poem sums it all up....


for Tom and Michelle’s wedding...

He wondered if that someday would ever come.
And it did on a magical Music Monday in Tom’s backyard.
It arrived with friends and rock n roll and very large serving of Hawaiian pulled pork.
Oh, he wasn’t looking, but he found a gift of a sudden smile,
vanishing and then returning in the house of his imagination by the minute.
It began when she sent him a message—
first with her eyes from behind a glass of Cabernet
and he fell into the light of those jewels
so much so that his daughter Kelsey had to poke him in the ribs
to keep from staring too hard.
But that’s okay, that’s Tom
and Tom brings his love strong.
She was there as a volunteer for PAWS, the animal shelter,
and soon this animal couldn’t keep his paws off her.
But before that, there’s got to be hello.
But Tom’s a host with more than the most, with a boyish wonder
for friendship and laughs, a man with a golden heart
and an impeccably green lawn.
He couldn’t sit still until everyone had a healthy plate of food,
a good drink and smiles beaming like light
through those backyard Doug firs.
But he did settle into a feeling for Michelle,
her kindness, volunteering for the same animal shelter
as he did for a decade.
And yet, somehow they’d never met.
So during his daily meditations of friendships and high fives,
Tom’s feelings grew stronger, a surround sound love in stereo.
And he cranked it to eleven.
And her, an osprey’s glide across the river to West Linn
would find Michelle throwing wine parties, painting parties,
making drinks and making dreams parties, hair parties--
two separate social butterflies now unknowingly
dancing toward each other.
Sometimes, she wondered, would she forever be a single crazy cat lady?
And he wondered, would he forever be a single crazy cat lady?
After a decade of soloing in his castle of rescued cats
like a suburban Jimmy Page wielding barbecue tongs as his air guitar,
Tom kept playing that music, that language of love he spoke daily,
if not on the phone, or in email messages,
then in his love for his garden, his daughters and, those cats,
all of it dialed in for the woman who would make his house their home,
her cats their cats—Fisher, Gizmo, Ichiro, Sylvester, Quincy,
Emma, Kismet, Lily and Perseus. That’s right.
As she poured over his book, The Department of Zenitation,
he was pouring an open hearted joy to friends
like those frozen shots of a Russian vodka no one could pronounce.
But Tom was fluent in the language of love blooming for Michelle.
The more she read Tom’s book,
the more Michelle started to write her own story of their love.
And Tom fell hard—there was no half-baked heart from Mr. Tommy Z.
And so if he did come on a little too strong,
it was in those measured months when they stepped back,
they found a new rhythm, a path to a deeper love,
true and now the stories they string together
like those mini-Eiffel Tower lights framing their living room.
And so love is a music they play together—through doubt,
through the generosity of time and faith and just letting it happen,
from that 4 th of July first date to the right here, right now,
alight with colors like that stone path framed with flowers
leading to the house of his heart.
That distance, this light across the river, across decades
—she in her cozy cottage, he in his castle of rescued cats,
now come together.
It’s a patience painted with a passion that’s say, “let’s do this.
Let’s make this love a light that shines brighter as one.”

~Poem by our wonderful friend and published poet Tim Sproul~

I never imagined love could be like this.
More to come...I've missed blogging.