This is a simple, summer salad. I like to cut everything chunky style. Also, I put everything in the bowl separately until I am ready to toss. That way I can see how much of each ingredient is there, if I need more of something or less of something. Once it is built, I toss with a classic vinaigrette.
The key to making a rich vinaigrette is mixing the mustard and vinegar together first with a whisk. Then, slowly add the oil by whisking until it is completely mixed in. This should make a thick rich vinaigrette.
This salad could be a base for anything else that rocked your boat to put in.
We heard Mike Doughty on Massive Hysteria (my favorite podcast). We listened to more of him on Rhapsody. We then found out that our good friends, Razor and Tie, had the opportunity but passed to sign him to their label. So when we saw Mike on the schedule to play at Stephen Talkhouse in Amagansett, we figured why not. It was meant to be.
First of all, Stephen Talkhouse is a fantastic venue. It is a very small club/bar with a tiny stage. I can't imagine that they can fit more than 150 people in there. There couldn't have been more than 50 last night. Unfortunately, because of space, they mostly play old bands that are trying to keep their careers going, Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes would be case and point but they do get some good New Orleans bands etc.
Mike was good. He has a distinctive voice. He plays a variety of guitars. He is enjoying his time on stage. A lot of the songs sound the same but a few here or there pop out at you. Take a listen to him on Rhapsody, see what you think and if you like it, support him. My favorite tune if Madeline and Nine.
4 very dark bananas were staring at me the other morning.
Besides tossing them out, the only thing to do is make something.
I opted to make muffins. I don't like them too sweet and these seem to fit the order.
Put the flour, sugar, baking power, baking soda and salt into a large bowl. You will only use one bowl for the entire recipe. If you have a electric mixer with a paddle attachment, use it. Mix at a low speed about 10-15 seconds to blend the ingredients. Add the melted butter and blend. Now add the eggs, milk, vanilla and mashed bananas. Blend. Don't over mix. Muffins don't need a lot of mixing. Now put in the granola and diced bananas and mix by hand. When it is thoroughly mixed, add the blueberries and mix gently so they don't pop. Otherwise the batter turns completely blue.
Put them in muffin tins, this recipe made about 20, and bake at 350 until done (toothpick comes out clean when sticking it in the muffin). About 30 minutes. You could also sprinkle some granola and sugar on top for a crispy top.
FYI - Someone finally came out with muffin tins that are strong enough that they do not need a muffin tin. Genius. I tried them out. Set them up on a cookie sheet, spooned the batter in and baked. Brilliant.
I read two very interesting editorials today. One from Learning From Lance by Thomas Friedman and the other was Fearful Times Fe by Charlie Suisman at MUG (Manhattan Users Guide). Although they were very different topics, there was something about the articles that made me link the two.
Friedman, like everyone else, is awed by Lance Armstrong's 7th straight victory. His perseverance and his well planned strategies allowed him to achieve his goals. Friedman asks the question about achieving goals. If you were the President wouldn't you want to continue to change and mold your goals based on outside factors. If the war doesn't work, don't you change your strategies. If we are seeing more suicide bombers, wouldn't you ask yourself if the course we are taking is making sense. Should we look for ways to not be as dependent on the Middle East for oil to push those countries to reform? Shouldn't we think out of the box on how to use new energies in the 21st Century? If we are not educating our kids to be the best to compete with the best globally, should we be looking to change our goals?
I do not believe that history will be kind to George Bush and his administration. They have not done anything positive except stay the course with their ideologies of what should be not what is. Documented information is inconsequential to them, if they don't agree with the data, then the data must be wrong. They have lied, and created more anger at home and abroad. They have made the rich richer and the poor poorer. Bigger lines have been drawn.
Suisman writes about the presence of more cops in the subways that are now doing random bag checks in NYC. I agree with him that this will not necessarily keep terrorists out but make people just feel safer. What we haven't done is changed how we manage our subways. Why haven't we added cameras, made underground communication better, create better subway cars with glass that is resistant, etc. We have really done nothing to improve our underground since 9/11 but just thrown rhetoric around and put in more men and women in blue to make us feel safer.
What has happened in the NYC subways is no different than what the Bush administration has done for our country. Lots of talk, great speeches, but no execution. All smoke and mirrors. We virtually changed our entire military after WWII in a matter of years because we needed to. We haven't done anything in the same amount of time since 9/11. Lots of talk, no action. Status quo and our fingers crossed.
At the end of Suisman's article he asks a question which is what made me put the 2 articles together. "Isn't asking questions, what Primo Levi (an anti-fascist voice after and during WWII) learned, one of the fundamental elements of freedom"? Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows that our kids to go a progressive school. Asking questions and challenging the norm is the mantra. This administration doesn't ask the questions and they certainly don't want anyone else asking them. My question to both articles is why aren't the citizens of this country asking the questions? Will there be a backlash to all of this? Have we become that numb and accepting to whatever they say goes. Will the college campuses rise up and say we have had enough?
There will be another serious terrorist attack on this country. My guess is that we will learn that not much had been done after 9/11 to focus, prevent, strategize, change and lead us to different defenses. Instead, we did nothing except a lame attempt to make us feel safer. In the end, we will all suffer. I hope our children's generation will at least be smart enough to ask the questions.
Visiting Day was this past Saturday. So great to go see your kids and see how happy they are. 8 weeks is a long time. Yet it is good for everyone. The parents get to reconnect, the kids get to be more independent and then when summer ends, somehow everyone appreciates each other a little bit more...at least for a few days.
It was a beautiful day. We had fun. It is incredible that it was our 7th Visiting Day. Time flies by way too quickly...
Alas, it was over. What a feast. What an experience. We rolled home happy and well fed. One of the top culinary experiences I have ever had. The waiter actually told me that the last 2 weeks in December they do a 9 course truffle menu. Hmmm. Perhaps I will get back to The French Laundry sooner than I think.
The first Jonathan Safran Foer book was Everything is Illuminated. It was a tough book to read. Lots of different characters. Each chapter had a different characters point of view. It took almost half the book to get a handle on everyone. I finished it. Impressive first novel. Smart author to say the least.
His second book, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, I read on a plane this week. What a book. This novel is seen through the eyes of a 9 year old boy, Oskar, who lost his father on 9/11. He goes through a 2 year healing process by trying to find out information on a key that his father left behind. Oskar, is one smart cookie. The book is very clever and imaginative. I really loved it.
What struck me about reading this book was how the horrific day of 9/11 still sits inside me. We were very lucky that no one close to us was lost that horrible day but we literally lived through it, as we live downtown. It was a day that I can recall in a heartbeat. I can relive it in a moments notice and tears come to my eyes. I didn't realize how much until as I was reading this book and living through Oskars emotional roller coaster of losing his father, I found myself going back there. I literally wept through sections of the book. Oskar touched my heart.
Jonathan Safran Foer is a very talented writer. The way he writes is obviously how his mind works. Incredibly bright and perceptive. His attachment, just like his first novel, to the Holocaust and WWII has obviously had a major impact on his life. The story circles around intertwining characters and places. A very original book.
As a rule, we believe in our own taste, not what we have been told is "the best" or "must have". We went to a few vineyards like that and decided they were not what they were touted as being.
This morning we went to Del Dotto Vineyards. Wow. We have been spoiled by drinking very old vines the past few years, mostly Italian and now find the California wines are young in comparison. Yet, Del Dotto was impressive for a variety of reasons and steered us back to the California wines.
We took the "cave" tour. There is a large underground, hand made, cave where they keep their wines. I believe there are only 2 others like that in Napa, one being Schramsberg, which is where they make sparkling wine ( I highly recommend going there if you are in the area). The tour takes about 1 and 1/2 hours. You get to taste the wines from a variety of different years, different oak barrels (French, Missouri, Virginia and Pennsylvania oaks - and some that are mixed). We learned all about the process, the grapes, the aging etc. It was quite impressive. The most impressive was that this vineyard only puts out 7000 cases a year and the owner does it more as a passion than a money making venture.
Luck was with us today. David Del Dotto, the owner, was down in the caves with the barrel maker. He joined our group, 4 couples, and started talking about his wines and how much he loves them. He tapped into the '04 Cabernets that our guide wasn't supposed to touch. David is passionate and full of life. He just loves the wine and what he does. The wines were consistently delicious no matter what year or which barrel. That is what was amazing.
For us, it was a treat. We have always enjoyed getting to know the face behind the product. The majority of our art that we have collected, we know the artists. When we were in South Africa, we got to know one of the vintners who now emails with us. We ordered enough wine at Del Dotto that we could actually stay on the property next time we are there. I would bet that having a dinner and drink with David Del Dotto would be one of the all time "food and wine" experiences.
The wines we bought are coming in September. I'm looking forward to having a bunch of friends over and cracking open those delicious bottles.
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Dave Eggers: The Circle
a crazy book about a company that seems similar to a google or yahoo that is essentially moving towards world domination. a world of complete transparency. makes you really wonder about the 24/7 world we live in. lots of interesting conversation here.
R. J. Palacio: Wonder
Wonderful young adult book about August, a young man with a severe facial deformity. After being home schooled he begins school in NYC in 5th grade. The issues he faces are challenging. The story is written highlighting different characters each chapter and how they see August. The book is about growing up, being brave, being accepting and more than anything about the importance of being kind. A great quick read.
Donna Tartt: The Goldfinch
I can't imagine that this will not be my top book of the year. An insanely well written fantastic book.
Naoki Higashida: The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism
A beautiful insightful book written by a boy with Autism. He explains what goes on his mind and the way he reacts to the world. A true gift for everyone who has someone with Autism in their life.
Jesmyn Ward: Men We Reaped: A Memoir
A powerful memoir about growing up black in rural Mississippi with poverty, racism, drugs and lack of jobs. Watching more than a handful of Ward's young male friends lose their lives and way before 25 is what prompted her to write this memoir. A stark reminder of how the odds are against young black males in this country and why. A really powerful honest book that will stick with me.
Amanda Lindhout: A House in the Sky: A Memoir
Incredible book Must read.
David Levithan: Two Boys Kissing
Everyone should read this book. It flows like a beautifully written essay. Two gay boys in high school try to break the world record for kissing. The event goes viral. That is the main thread of the book among a few other gay relationships. The hardships of coming of age and coming of age gay. Can't say enough good things. Loved this book.
Mitchell Jackson: The Residue Years
An autobiographical novel that goes back and forth between a young man and his mother in Portland, Oregon. The draw of the drugs on the street continues to bring them both back to something they want to move past. The language and swagger of the characters looking to overcome obstacles that are hard to shed.
Katherine Boo: Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity
A biography of the desperately poor in Mumbai, India. It is actually a non-fiction book but reads like fiction. I did not finish it. I hope to go back to it but I have read several books on this subject and although this was real I just couldn't get through it.
Karen Joy Fowler: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves
Fun read, well written page turner. The main character describes her life living with a chimp, a father scientist, a mother and a brother who left home. Nature vs nurture.