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I am no longer in denial about the inevitable transition to winter.

3 Oct

Dear Emma,

I love picturing you out at Mary and Steve’s farm, horse-sitting. Despite the raucous cat-dog-puppy fight that I overheard, it sounded so peaceful – a warm end-of-summer-sun shining down over the fields and horses, turning everything golden. I miss home.   Zoe

Being from Iowa, I like to talk about the weather. Honestly, I don’t think it’s as dull as it sounds, (Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C, I rest my case).  But the past month, in Washington, DC the weather has been DULL. Day after day of gray compounded by an unrelenting drizzle of cool rain, and no spark of sunshine as a quick break.  September had no wild and windy thunderstorms, no cold snap, or heat wave, just weird mix of humid warm air, cool rain, and gray, gray, gray.

Gray, Gray, Gray

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Melons in the Midwest

18 Jul

Friendship.

Dear Emma,

Honeydew melons remind me of you and of childhood. They flash me back to Stringtown Grocery with its gas-lamps and Amish ladies selling peaches, apricots, Muscatine melons and honeydews in bulk. Then rattling home in the “way-back” over country gravel roads, pretending that we were driving the car backwards while dust filtered in through the cracks in the van.

Our friendship, which spans the whole of both of our lives, is so engrained in my own history that I can’t help but be reminded of it all the time. Especially while standing at the grocery mulling over melons.

xoxo, Zoe

I worked briefly at a French restaurant in Milwaukee. During my two-month tenure of 10 shifts a week, I would wake up every morning, fling myself out of bed and immediately fall over. My feet were tingling stumps, an odd combination of numb, swollen and on pins and needles.

The evening kitchen was manned by a chef, a true Frenchman with a growling accent, a cloudy disposition, and an allergy to any politesse. The female servers were salopes and his male kitchen help had an equally endearing nickname (dumbfu*k). Though I made less money, I preferred working lunch shifts because the Frenchman was at home in bed.

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Fish Heads, Fish Heads!

18 May

Dear Zoe, 

While you’re off in the seat of government perfecting strawberry cake, I’ve been at an only sort-of-grown-up version of summer camp, but with beer–finishing my big epic poem about drag queens, oceans and paradise, and being only occasionally helpful to Beck in planning this wedding. Wish you were here bigtime, and soon you will be. When you gals arrive there’s going to be some kind of explosion of birdsong and endorphins raining from the sky. Looking forward to it.

Nina

So the poets and wedding planners alike have been quitting work around eight pm and making dinner together, and being that we’re in cape cod, that the pond right outside is stocked with bass and trout, and that both Chris and I have this sort of weird kill and eat drive that makes me look askance at the little grey squirrels, fish is on the menu as often as possible. Chris, who is a poet/fiction writer/ computer whisperer/ google-obsessed info-gatherer, has memorized the best spots in the pond for depth and therefore larger fish, has perfected his night-crawler gathering and identified the ideal size of worm, has been manfully heaving the boat into the pond every evening and rowing out, and has therefore caught several fish, four of them edibly sized and all of them delicious, golden scaled bass (and a few little pumpkin seed). I, being flakey and sometimes lucky, caught a monster two-foot trout from the shore on day one and haven’t caught anything since, because I can’t be bothered to change my lure or my line length (sometimes this is a problem in poetry too — how many tens of pages of four-foot rhyming stanzas of flashy compound adjectives can the average reader really take?).

So! This is a post about self-caught fish. Continue reading

Hearty Vegetable Soup, Killer Stock and Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits!

15 Mar

Dear Bec,

Winter is finally drawing to a close and as spring starts appearing around the edges, it is a good time to reflect on the few perks of winter.  Cuddly kitties warming the bed at night, orion’s belt shining down on your from the sky and delicious baked goods and hearty soups are some of the only things I actually enjoy about winter.  The forecast says it will be in the 50’s by the end of the week here in Minneapolis, so in the meantime, it is time to appreciate the last good days of soup weather!  This recipe is inspired in part by mom’s vegetable soup, partly by my own obsession with parsnips and partly just a good excuse to get rid of the carrots in the back of my fridge.  I hope you enjoy it!

Vegetarian soups can be pretty intimidating.  It is hard to infuse them with enough flavor without a hearty meat to beef them up (pun most likely intended).  However, with a good vegetable stock in hand, vegetarian soups can be as savory and flavorful as any of their carnivorous counterparts. I found this stock recipe on my favorite food blog, http://chubbyvegetarian.blogspot.com I didn’t have a lot of the ingredients or the patience to follow it exactly, so I will give y’all a run down of my pretty significantly modified version of their stock.  It turned out pretty well, though it probably would be better if you actually food-processed all the ingredients like the recipe told me to.  Oh well, maybe next time.

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On Ina Garten, Bourge-Me-Nots, and Squash Soup

13 Sep

Bourge-me-not: (n.) The condition of simultaneously wishing to be more bourgeois, and knowing you will never be bourgeois enough.

This is a rather uncomfortable feeling for one who tends to pride herself on frugality, and a sort of ‘whatever’s in the fridge/at the garage sale’ mentality.  And then, Ina says, on page eleven of barefoot contessa at home:

“I want [my husband] to feel that he’s really home. What he doesn’t realize is that what feels very casual is, in fact, quite deliberate: the music is playing, all the lights are on, there are flowers everywhere, and chicken and onions are roasting in the oven.”

Watch as my frugality leaps dramatically into the gutter.  Continue reading