Sunday, January 31, 2010

For You, Aunt Gladys!

When we visited Aunt Gladys in California recently, she encouraged me in the strongest terms to keep updating my blog...because apparently she checks it EVERY DAY...and I have been letting her down! I know I have been writing far less on the blog these days... for a number of reasons. But I know I just need to take whatever comes along and just put it out there. It doesn't need to be great. So, it's not much, but here are some little things. Mostly for you, Aunt Glady!

Aiden has been putting more words together in simple, incomplete sentences. It's exciting to watch his language skills develop. I was watching something sad the other day and I just gave up, surrendered to the bittersweetness of it and started bawling out loud and Aiden, who was playing nearby, looked up at me with wide eyes and I SWEAR he said, "I don't want you to cry!" Of course, it wasn't clear, and probably most people might not have gotten that out of it, but the sounds he uttered all added up to that. I hastened to assure him that I was fine. Oh dear, this child is going to have to get used to the sight of his mother crying. I don't know - maybe he shouldn't have to get used to it. I hope it doesn't damage him. I hope he can accept it. My name is Claire, and I'm a crier.

He also saw a Rice Krispy bar cookie on the same thing that I was watching - no I was not crying at the sight of cookies - and once he saw that, he shouted out, "COOKIE!" and turned to me as if I could magically produce one in that instant. I agreed with him that it would be nice to have a cookie now, but we didn't have any right now. So what? "COOKIE!" I said maybe we could make some later. "Okay! Cookie?" As if, " Is it later yet?"

It's hard to explain to a two year old that cookies take time to make...especially when your oven doesn't work and you have to use a toaster oven to bake...because you are waiting for your W2 tax form to come so you can get your refund money and go buy a new oven. And the toaster oven takes twice as long to bake your cookies as a normal oven...but I love him so much - and also happen to be very fond of peanut butter cookies too - that I made a batch anyway. And by the time the first batch was done, Aiden had almost forgotten about the cookies! That's good because it was a puny amount to begin with, and was even punier after I had consumed a suitable amount of quality assurance samples. I gave up and put the dough in the fridge for when the new oven comes.

(It's been over a month since the oven gave up the ghost. ( Yes- two days before Christmas- I had to use my neighbor's oven to bake Aiden's birthday cake!) There has been a lot of crockpot usage, and pasta, and microwaving. I miss baking - it's not the same with the toaster oven. Anyway, blah diddy blah blah blah.)

And I am constantly amazed at his memory. A week or two ago, some of the neighbor kids were playing in our driveway. One of the girls fell down and hurt her hand. I had her come in to wash the blood off her hand and she was crying, and apparently, this tragedy made quite an impression on Aiden. Every once in a while, out of the blue, he will pull out this string of words, with a few variations. But it always goes something like this, "Anna. Bike. Boom. Ow! Cry. Hand. Driveway." It's interesting to see how sensitive he is to others' pain. Maybe all kids his age are like this. I don't really know. My Childhood Growth and Development class in college was a complete waste of time, taught by an incompetent hippie. ( I must hasten to add that it was the ONLY class at Saint A's that was a waste of time. I loved all my other classes. Yes, even Economics.)

Anyway, that's enough for now. I'll try to do better but don't hold your breath for the next installment!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ode to Benedictine Bliss

As those who follow me on Facebook know, I've been thinking about Eggs Benedict recently. Up until last week, I don't recall that I have ever eaten this dish before. But at a charming and fantastic restaurant in Monterey named Rosine's, my 31 year stint of not eating E.B. came to a happy end.

I guess I'd been a little intimidated by said dish for a couple reasons. The last time I had a poached egg was probably when my age numbered in the single digits, back when I preferred my eggs runny. I have since turned my back on eggs "over easy." Yech. The thought of the poached egg white brought up the same revulsion as if I had been offered a platter of ghostly, jiggling jellyfish. That, and Hollandaise sauce was a mysterious substance that I was not willing to risk getting to know better. I don't know. Egg yolks? On a poached egg? Too much yellow. It was just a weird, mental block. When we all go out to breakfast together, Eggs Benedict was something that Nate would order and I would look at with a slightly raised eyebrow. Nate, the food adventurer.

And I don't know what it was that broke this mental block. Maybe it was the adventure of vacation in a Californian coastal town. When you're driving along next to the gloriously turbulent Pacific Ocean, taking in the luxurious, charming seaside cottages of Carmel, and falling in love with the Tolkienesque trees of that region, there's a kind of atmosphere makes you feel that anything is possible. It's a heady, transformative feeling.

On Tuesday morning, as we were getting ready for the day, Brad went online and looked up the menu of Rosine's, ( I can't remember how he heard about this place) and pointed out that he thought I might like the Eggs Benedict. Here is the description, straight from the menu: An English muffin topped with freshly roasted sliced turkey breast, avocado, three poached eggs,fresh sauteed mushrooms and our homemade hollandaise sauce.

I decided to try it.

It was overwhelmingly good. Love at first bite. The poached eggs were not too runny, as I had feared. The whites were far from ghostly. They were solid mounds of miraculous goodness. The turkey was truly fresh. It wasn't really sliced - it was pulled... like someone had been picking their Thanksgiving turkey and given me the best pieces. And of course, you can't go wrong with sauteed mushrooms and avocado. But the best part, the thing that made this dish a culinary masterpiece, was the magnificent Hollandaise sauce. I was smitten. When I somehow permitted others at the table to take a taste, ( or did someone else at the table have the same thing? I don't remember. I was in such a trance of self-absorbed, food exultation) they remarked that it was unusually good Hollandaise sauce, perhaps one of the best they had ever eaten. ( It must have been Nate who said this.) The only shadow that was cast upon the experience was knowing that I had started out at the Hollandaise pinnacle. When you start out at the top, there's no where to go but down. I am afraid that no other version of this sauce will compare. Trust me to find the pessimistic angle to heaven on earth.

Here is a link to the restaurant. Under the breakfast heading, you will see a picture of the Turkey, Avocado, Mushroom Benedict that I ordered. Click on it to enlarge it. ( This is an order.) And I defy you not to drool and swoon with jealousy.

Everyone's food was very good. The atmosphere was happy. The place was not just a restaurant but also a bakery, and at one point, two employees walked out, apparently on their way to a delivery, bearing an enormous cake between them. It was roughly the size of a Chevy Suburban, covered with strawberries. All eyes in the room followed them out the front door, disbelief and longing on every face.

We were so impressed with the quality of our experience that we came back the next day for breakfast and I ordered something similar - the Veggie Eggs Benedict. Basically, it was the same thing except for instead of turkey, there was tomato. And I ordered a half size, with only one egg, because I hadn't been able to finish my portion yesterday. Ah, bliss.

Now I am obsessed with re-creating this dish. This task could take a lifetime and could potentially wreak havoc with my body. I already have a tendency towards elevated cholesterol. And over the past month with all its chaos, I have gained at least five pounds. Imagine what years of experimentation with Eggs Benedict could do to me. It even SOUNDS bad for you - with the word "Benedict" in the title - as if it will betray you. Okay, that's weird, coming from a graduate of a Benedictine Catholic college. Why is it that Benedict Arnold springs to mind first, and not Saint Benedict? Whatever. Wikipedia tells me that neither of these famous Benedicts has anything to do with this dish.

Perhaps as I embark upon this culinary quest, I should invest in egg stocks. Kind of like how I used to think when Grampa lived with us, we should invest in salad dressing stocks; he used so much salad dressing that I think we made those companies obscenely rich. And then my handsome returns on my egg investments could finance the expensive cholesterol medication I would need.

I find it ironic that in January, the month when most people resolve to LOSE weight...I seem set on gaining.


I must urge you all to go to Monterey. Go, not just for the famous aquarium or Cannery Row or the views of the ocean. Go for Rosine's Eggs Benedict.