Happy Birthday, Andrew

I’m waking up this morning in Vermont. It’s Andrew’s birthday and it’s the 24th of his birthdays we’ve celebrated as a couple, and the first one where we aren’t waking up in the same bed.

I’m headed home tonight, so I won’t miss it completely. But meantime, seems only right to send some birthday love across the Internet.sarahs wedding_3

This photo was not taken on his birthday, actually, but it’s the closest one I can find. It was about a week before he turned 34. Or was it 33. It doesn’t matter. We were young. So young. We were at Sarah & Marc’s wedding, witnessing the beginning of their life together – one that we were honored to see re-committed just a few years back. There we were, looking a bit like characters out of Pretty Woman and daydreaming about where we were headed and if our lives would be intertwined forever. I guess we know the answer to that now.

Happy birthday, Honey. I’ll be home soon.

Underwater.

pool

It’s been an emotional week.
Everything is fine. We’re good. Everyone is healthy. But there is a lot of change afoot.

  • Our middle son is graduating from high school in less than 48 hours.
  • Work is busy. Good, but busy.
  • Patience has been tested.
  • Cars have been in the shop and we’ve been juggling.
  • New jobs have been started.
  • Realizations of deadlines (college med forms!) have been realized & physicals scheduled.
  • Camp is coming and omg we are not prepared.
  • It’s complicated.

It’s all good, but it has all been a bit stressful. So I was wondering, did you know that it’s virtually impossible to cry underwater? Sure, you can have an emotional upheaval. And yes, the rhythmic breathing is interrupted. But there are no tears. Or the cathartic after cry relief. Or (on the positive side) no red nose.

It’s all going to be fine.

#DearJerry

Ran into some old friends...

I didn’t go to the Dear Jerry show at Merriweather expecting to see The Dead. Those of us who enjoyed those shows, back in the day, know they can’t be replicated. No, I went to this show because I do really like the songs and I like so many of the artists who were performing.

Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann’s Billy & The Kids, Bob Weir, Allen Toussaint, Buddy Miller, David Grisman, Eric Church, Grace Potter, Greensky Bluegrass, Jimmy Cliff, Jorma Kaukonen, Los Lobos, Moe., O.A.R., Peter Frampton Railroad Earth, The Disco Biscuits, Trampled By Turtles, Widespread Panic, Yonder Mountain String Band And Communion Featuring Phil Lesh, Stu Allen, Grahame Lesh, Ross James, Alex Koford, And Jason Crosby

And I also went – maybe most of all went – because Andrew wanted me to.

Here’s my review in bullet points. I’d elaborate, but I’m very tired (it was way past my bedtime) and I have work to do. But, if I don’t do this now, I won’t do it. So here goes:

  • Beautiful weather and I always love Merriweather. It’s pretty and they have enough bathrooms. And the food doesn’t suck too badly.
  • Our seats were great. I almost got crabby about the guy infringing on my right, but he backed off with the infringing.
  • At one point, I wanted to sit down and needed to nudge him. I said something like, “Feeling old, need to sit a minute. Can you excuse me?” And he replied “Well, for tonight, you’re not old.” and made way for me to sit. I had two thoughts: 1) I walked straight into that ugh and 2) Who says that? I assume he meant get in the flow and feel the youth and energy but what came out was, you can pretend you’re young for a night but, you actually are pretty old.
  • At about the beginning of hour 3, I started to become aggravated with my pavilion neighbors singing badly over the bands.
  • Not everyone sitting near us smelled fresh.
  • O.A.R. was amazing – probably my favorite.
  • Seeing Jimmy Cliff was incredible.
  • Loved Grace Potter on Friend of the Devil.
  • Someone said “Far Out” to me. I had no idea that anyone still said that.
  • If you drop your water bottle on the floor, it’s over. Because there are so many water bottles on the ground, choosing one is like Water Bottle Roulette. I chose to stay parched.
  • It’s fun to get out and do something different – especially smack-dab in the middle of the week. Shakes things up.
  • We saw so many old and new friends. Love those girls in the photo above; some I see semi-regularly. Some? It’s been years.

Setlist

Set One:

Communion with Phil Lesh: The Wheel > Uncle John’s Band, Standing On The Moon, Liberty
Allen Toussaint with House Band: Get Out Of My Life Woman
David Grisman with House Band & Sam Bush: Shady Grove
Peter Frampton with House Band & Bill Kreutzmann: (I’m A) Roadrunner
Buddy Miller with House Band: Deal
Jorma Kaukonen with House Band: Sugaree
Jimmy Cliff with House Band: The Harder They Come
Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, Dave Schools, Bill Kreutzmann & Jimmy Cliff with House Band: Attics Of My Life intro > Fire On The Mountain

Set Two

Billy & The Kids: Help On The Way > Slipknot! > Franklin’s Tower
Disco Biscuits with Bill Kreutzmann & Tom Hamilton: Scarlet Begonias > I Know You Rider > Scarlet Begonias
moe.: Loser
O.A.R.: St. Stephen

Set Three

Los Lobos with Bob Weir: Not Fade Away > Bertha
Trampled By Turtles: Brown-Eyed Women
Yonder Mountain String Band: Shakedown Street
Bob Weir with House Band: Days Between
Grace Potter, Bob Weir, Matt Burr & House Band: Friend Of The Devil
Eric Church with House Band: Tennessee Jed
Widespread Panic: Morning Dew
Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann & Mickey Hart: Touch Of Grey
Most Of The Evening’s Performers: Ripple

That fresh feeling.

Photo credit: http://www.freeimages.com/profile/sskies
Photo credit: http://www.freeimages.com/profile/sskies

Before we moved to a house with well & septic, I took flushable wipes for granted.

Yes. Let that sit a second.

Okay. So, right, this isn’t exactly dinner table conversation. But, who doesn’t want to feel fresh? As in clean? And sometimes, that toilet tissue just doesn’t do the trick.

Back in my previous life, I snickered at husband#1 for using Tuck’s. I mean seriously…. what 20-something uses Tuck’s? I secretly (or maybe not so secretly… oh my, is this a recognition of my part in the relationship problems?) laughed at this. Don’t even get me started about his desire to take long walks after dinner for digestion reasons. And on that note, don’t ask me about the gas-emissions on said walks. But I digress.

Years later, when the boys were babies, Andrew & I (like most of you) used diaper wipes on our kids. Of course we did. Who doesn’t? But then, then graduated to those toddler diaper wipes.

And you know what? They were awesome. (It’s possible that I used them, too.)

Once the boys were independently handling their bathroom issues, we started buying flushable wipes targeted to adults. (Not Tuck’s mind you.)

But then, we moved from a house with public sewage to a house with well & septic. And now? Those things would totally put a wrench in the system. And so, no more wipes.

Except.

At my gym? They have wipes in the bathroom.

I am not suggesting that I have the need at the gym or that I wait to #2 there so I can partake. But…. it reminds me.

I miss my wipes.

Who – really who??? – doesn’t want to feel fresh?

Pie Crust

I’m posting this for my friend Vince. This crust? So easy and always perfect. I’m grateful that Vince asked because I have this recipe on a scrap of paper that I scribbled while watching the video below over and over. Kind of like when we were kids and we’d play the record over and over and write down the words? Ummm, right before the Internet. At any rate, this recipe rocks. One day, I’m going to Brooklyn on a pie field trip.

Four and Twenty Blackbirds Pie Crust
Makes dough for double-crust 9- to 10-inch pie

2.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2.5 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 sticks (2 lbs) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 cup very cold water
4 tablespoons cider vinegar

1. Stir the flour, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl.

2. Cut the butter into the flour mixture, working quickly until mostly pea-size pieces of butter remain (don’t overdo it!)

4. Combine the water and cider vinegar & add a little of the water mixture into the flour mixture until it is fully incorporated.

6. Add more of the water mixture, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, using a bench scraper or your hands (or both) to mix until the dough comes together in a ball, with some dry bits remaining.

7. Bring it together & shape the dough into 2 flat discs, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.

Randomness.

Doorbell
Sunday night sharing. My head has been full of so many thoughts and I’m having trouble putting it together. So, I’ve decided to share some random thoughts. At least that keeps me writing.

  1. Isn’t this photo beautiful? It’s from a site called Little Visuals with photos from a young man who named Nic who died suddenly at 26. I’m really drawn to his photos.
  2. I started listening to the Love + Radio podcast. The first two I heard were amazing and the third was not. Deciding whether to keep listening.
  3. Speaking of podcasts, I heard this on Invisiblia and I keep thinking about it. I’m not there, yet. Still trying to get my arms around: Fear = thinking + time
  4. We don’t have a doorbell.
  5. I don’t like really windy days (like today). I didn’t mind heavy winds when I was little, but a friend told me years and years ago (in the 1970’s) about his fears and I totally absorbed it.
  6. Having all my boys together last week was so nice.
  7. We went to Hersh’s last night with friends we hadn’t seen for a while and the food and company were perfect.
  8. I have a speaking thing coming up that I’m really excited about. More later.
  9. We bought vintage dining room chairs – the same chair but from 2 different sources – that we’ll have upholstered to all match. It’s thrilling and I love them. Pix when they’re done.
  10. Sunday nights are my favorite. So quiet. So nice. Except that the work week starts again tomorrow, which is a bummer. Of course, this implies I didn’t work over the weekend (which isn’t true) but the pressure and pace are just different. Note: I love my work. But I do love the weekends!
  11. I just wanted to end on a weird number. Good night!

Getting inside the head of the executive chef at Chez Scherer

home-cooking

Today, as we travel the back roads north to go see a set of Mid-Century dining room chairs, I have the honor of having the full attention of our family’s most accomplished cook. Because he’s driving and has nothing better to do except play the license plate game (we only need Kentucky) or listen to the radio, Andrew has agreed to be interviewed for this post.

Ahhh, Andrew. Without whom I would surely eat canned soup and frozen lima beans for dinner. And pasta.

Wendy: Andrew, how often do you think about food?

Andrew: Now, okay. Do you want me to try to be funny or should I be serious? For instance, I could say it’s the thing I think about second most often. {author note: how predictable}

Wendy: Alrighty. How do you decide what to cook each week?

Andrew: I have a small range of standard meals that I tend to rotate. I also think about who is going to be home on a specific night, what season it is, and work in new recipes I find online and in my inbox – NYTimes and Food52 – to name a few and I love to make the recipes from each new Cooks Illustrated I get in the mail.

Wendy: What if I want something special? Like Bahn Mi. {Spoiler alert: I get whatever I want}

Andrew: All you have to do is ask. {See, told you}

Wendy: Once the menu plan for the week is complete, how likely are you to change it? If the family schedule changes, what does that do you your plan?

Andrew: Believe it or not, I’m actually quite flexible when it comes to meal planning, so all changes can be accommodated. {author note: LOL}

Wendy: What’s for dinner tonight?

Andrew: Is this a trick question? We’re grabbing a bite out before Everyman’s Theater tonight.

Wendy: Yeah, I just threw that in so my friends will see that you don’t cook EVERY night. There are nights like this and then the 1-2 times a month you make me cook and I make 20 lbs. of carnitas or some nice vegetable soup. You probably cook about 300 nights a year. Does that sound right?

Andrew: Yes. That sounds about right.

Wendy: And how many of those nights would you say dinner was a hit?

Andrew: I’d say 275. {I’d say 299. There was this one time that he overdid the 5-spice on a Chinese stew. But really? The food at our house is better than a restaurant most all the time.}

Wendy: How much time do you spend cooking dinner on an average weeknight? Average weekend night?

Andrew: On an average weeknight, I can generally get everything done in an hour, hour and a half tops. On the weekends, I might take a little more time.

Wendy: What is your favorite thing to cook?

Andrew: I really like to grill. {I really like when he grills, too. Yummy food. Easy clean up. Come on, Spring!}

Thanks, Andrew. Keep up the good work. LOL.

The view from here.

view
I’ve been thinking a lot lately. Clearly, I have been doing something other than writing here, right?

I started this blog on January 17, 2005. Ten years ago.

Ten.

My kitchen was green and white – country-style – as it was when we moved into it sight-unseen late summer 1999.

My business was growing, but I was unsure which direction it was going.

My sons were 9, 7, and 6.

I read bedtime stories every night. And loved it.

I was a little freaked out about being over 40.

I baked challah every week.

Andrew and I had time together every night after 7:30 pm. Except poker night. On poker night, I went out, bluffed, and laughed with my friends.

I blogged nearly every day.

This place. This blog. It’s been a wonderful escape and a way to express myself. Back then, it was a way to connect with the world outside my world before we all were so very, very connected. I’m grateful for so many things and so many people – and among them, my earliest ‘fake’ friends, Lori, Jenne, Leah. They, and so many others, made my world bigger. And better.

I think we all knew where this online thing was going… and that we’d be here – where we are now – at some point. Maybe we didn’t know exactly what was coming. But maybe we did.

So, I know what you’re thinking. “You’re quitting, right?”

No. Not right.

I’m just introspective. Ten years have passed and my life is unrecognizable.

My sons are 19, 17, and 16. The oldest is in his second year of college, the middle one starts this fall and the youngest will go fall 2016.

If I read at night, it’s to myself.

I’m sometimes a little freaked out about being over 50. Right now, I’m a little freaked out that my baby sister is turning 50 in a couple days.

I bake challah and pies and French bread and you-name-it all the time.

My kitchen – and my home – suit me. Perfectly. It’s a peaceful, happy place.

My business is growing and I’m learning and challenged every day.

Andrew and I get a little quality time each day, but as the boys get more and more independent, we have freedom we barely remember ever having before the kids were born.

And contrary to my expectations, I’m not sad that they’re independent and busy. I’m excited for them and love who they are and who they are growing to be.

My life has changed. That is true.

But it’s going swimmingly.

I’m not quitting my blog. I’m recharged.