Friday, November 14, 2014

Of cabbages and kings....

Visit to a real pumpkin farm
The only thing I can reference from the famous poem,  "The Walrus and the Carpenter" is that I am going to "talk of many things" and eventually of "cabbages" but not "kings".     After all it has been a long while since I have posted and I have a few things to catch you up on. 
First of all, I just got back from a wonderful visit with my family. of those vacations where you are reluctant to return to "real life".  There was Sarah and Joel's new baby to hold and coo over.... which for me, a childless old Auntie, is a big,  big deal.

Next there was the happy time I aways have not only with "my girls" but with my brothers and "man" relatives as well. 
 It helps that I visit only once a year.  This means that everyone makes me the center of attention and plans all sorts of delicious parties and outings to attend and my brothers and sister give me their undivided devotion. 

When I am in the Pacific Northwest,   it is usually Autumn with all the leaves and homes looking particularly festive.  There are decorations on all the porches.  Its an American tradition.

  Then there is Halloween on October 31 which is a major celebration not just for American children but also for adults ( at least in Seattle) who along with the kids,  don costumes of various degrees of cleverness....and in the case of the adults, sexiness. 

Little monster in Queen Anne

When in America I ride the Amtrak Coast starlight train, which has scenic views. I leave at 5 in the morning from Eugene and get to Seattle by noon.  

And when I am there in the northwest,  I drink real coffee instead of decaf and frequent coffee bars for a cup of java (Seattle is the home of the coffee bar).

  I also have a "Martha cocktail" at Crow, a nearby restaurant in Queen Anne.
  Yes,  my sister has her own drink at her local restaurant/ bar, just down the street from her house.  If you go there and ask for a "Martha" you will get a very dry , "lime- drop " without the simple syrup in it and just a rim of sugar in the vodka martini.  And thanks to her they are served in a martini glass.   It is a winner but I can only have two and a half before its time to go.  Martha and I always share the last one.   It seems we have some of our best talks at Crow.

And I eat very well when I am back home.  Besides the wonderful home cooked fare,   my visit falls during restaurant week and the local eateries are offering special deals on outstanding meals and locations.

When in Seattle,  I take walks up to Kerry park and since I get up so early from the time change, I see it when all the professional photographers are there getting the best view of the city.  And I see it also in the afternoons as in this photo above. 

I visit with young friends and old that I have hijacked from my sister and niece in Seattle.   I have Joel's mom to go "squandering" with at thrift shops ( I finally found some Uggs at the second hand shop)  and Joel's house renovation to admire.  And I have three  of my wonderful, talented and breathtakingly handsome nephews living there ( the fourth is now in New York with Sam his new wife and Jules is traveling in Asia)   as well as two of my beautiful, accomplished nieces to hang out with. ( Susan, the third,  is studying in NYC)  I also have three sisters- in- law who I really like being around.  

I even watch movies and football on Dave's "wide screen" while in Oregon.   I am now a fan of the Oregon Ducks and their former coach Chip Kelley who is now with the Philadelphia Eagles.  He was  responsible for transforming the game of College football to what it has become today.  He is devoted to his players and has a wonderful ethic for his teams. 
 I am impressed by him, the new coach, Mark Helfrich and the team... who probably has the largest fan base of any college team.  ( Take a look at the new app that tells such things). 
 It is fun to see my quiet, professor brother going wild over a touchdown.   Roge got hooked on football when he was about 5 years old when my father was a university professor.  My dad took him to meet the players at his first live game at the University of Redlands where my father was teaching some of the players in his engineering classes.  

Another thing I get to do in America is learn new recipes.  Most of my family is into what I call "clean eating".  That means fresh produce, few grains ,  and grass fed animal protein.    Some of my relatives are more strict than others but they all like to find beautiful food and to cook it.  (We are privileged to be able to afford such food. )

My brother-in-law, Josh, taught me how to make kale chips which are so seductive they could substitute for popcorn.  

Now that I am back in Nice , I have not found any kale but found instead lots of Savoie Cabbage.  So just for an experiment, today I tried to make the chips with cabbage instead.  Savoy cabbage looks like this and it comes, of course,  from the Savoie in France which borders on Italy.

To make my chips I used just the outer leaves but I will try using the rest later.  I washed them and de-veined them, removing the large vein with a knife, discarding it and then cutting the cabbage leaves into bite sized pieces.   I added a few Tablespoons of good olive oil, salt and pepper and tossed it all in a bowl. 

I had preheated the oven to number 6 traditional. That is 395 degrees F.   (We used 350F in Seattle.)

Then I used parchment paper on a cookie sheet and spread the cabbage pieces thinly so they wouldn't stick together. 

I baked them for 6 minutes without turning them and they were just crisp enough to be ready.

These are a bit chewier than kale chips, not quite so delicate... but Monsieur ate half the bowl and I ate almost the rest of them so I guess they will be a staple around here. 

 Its a good way to snack and your body as well as your palate will thank you.   Cabbage is just about the healthiest food you can eat.  Look it up. 

"The time has come,' the Walrus said,
      To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
      Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —

      And whether pigs have wings.' "

from the Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carroll