number two.

Yesterday: bidding the boyz a fond farewell. 3.5 hours in a pretty empty airplane. Walking into a kitchen in full-on "hot food" mode. Turkey, gravy, sweet potato, rutabaga, cranberry, broccolini. Planning documents. Pumpkin cheesecake. Green Jell-O with mandarin oranges and punkin pie.

Today: O'Neill. Tomorrow: Durians. Sunday: maybe a visit to cousins Chris and Carla's new restaurant. Monday: Department of Motor Vehicles. Tuesday: back to Amsterdam. Wish me luck.



Last day in Phoenix, off to Atlanta tomorrow. Above, one last brutal badminton tournament. Below, unexpected vegan lunch at Green, not bad, not really anything super special either other than the decor, which was very nice. Tonight: West Side Story and Thanksgiving leftovers.


hank bobby michette.

My dad has a pretty great new camera. New dog's not bad either.

I forgot to tell this story about the football game. It's halftime, we're in a long line for the restroom, maybe 20 people or so. Right when we finally make it inside the door and are next in line, watching the backs of a room full of burly men in football fan garb silently peeing, my dad turns to me and says, in his normal speaking voice, which is not quiet at all, "Hey I bought West Side Story today".

I can't believe we got out of there alive. Granted, the night before, we had been talking about West Side Story and he couldn't believe I hadn't seen it, and it's true, I should see it. So he bought it, which is potentially great. But there's no need to announce that into a men's room full of drunk, peeing Cardinals fans.


west side story.

If you want a more Dutch/speculaas-tasting version of this, you can bump the ginger, cloves and cardamom up to 1/4 tsp each even maybe. I know that the last time I did this it was better than it was as written below and I used a little more of every spice except cinnamon.


almond apple crisp with brown butter.

6 tbsp almond flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup raw sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
5 tbsp unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup toasted almonds, coarsely chopped

3 lbs. apples (I used 8 apples), half sweet and half tart, peeled, quartered, and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 cup raw sugar
1 and 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest

5 tbsp butter, browned to a beurre noisette


Combine everything from the first group of ingredients except the butter and almonds in the bowl of a food processor. Add butter and pulse ten times, four seconds per pulse. Add almonds and pulse five more times, one second each. Refrigerate for 15 minutes while you put the apples together.

Adjust rack in oven to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 190C/375F. Add second group of ingredients to a big bowl and stir to coat everything thoroughly. Put apple mixture in a 9" square baking dish or similar, distribute topping evenly over top, bake for 40 minutes. Drizzle brown butter over top, turn up oven to 200C/400F and bake for 5 minutes or until everything looks properly bubbly and brown.



blown out.

in the kitchn.

Above: Dad's blue suede badminton cake (think red velvet but you know, blue). Below: sweet potato puree, home-pickled jalapenos, Martha Stewart vs. Thug Kitchen's cranberry-orange relish.


sweet potato, maple, ancho puree.

3 giant sweet potatoes
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ancho chile powder
salt to taste


collard greens.

1 bag collard greens
3 strips cooked bacon
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
1 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp raw sugar
2 cups chicken broth
salt to taste


cranberry-orange sauce.

juice of three oranges
zest from one orange
24 oz fresh cranberries
1 and 1/2 cups raw sugar
1/2 cup water
salt to taste



acción de gracias.

Housekeeper pork tamales from Manuela, with a very very good homemade red salsa, spi-cy.


cardinal rule.

Points to ponder: the awesome Alcohol Compliance shirts worn by the guys checking people's IDs; the family of four next to me must have consumed over $100 worth of food during the first half of the game, they ate constantly (that's their sandwich pictured), and everything cost $9 (a bottle of water was $4.50); I wonder how many of the hundreds of people wearing Pat Tillman jerseys saw the documentary; the Cardinals franchise has made their mascot/logo look meaner in recent years; habanero cheese is a good idea.



So I'm not really in charge of cooking any more b/c dad has the week off. What tends to happen now is that he has some grand design for dinner and my challenge is to provide some vegetable support, which is kind of even more fun than doing the whole thing myself. Last night he wanted to make a vegan, gluten-free pasta marinara, so we ended up doing rice penne with a Quorn marinara, with lots of black pepper and parmesan you didn't miss meat or gluten. And I made that celery/mushroom salad.

Then we played Name That Tune for about two hours, each of us playing something off our laptops connected to a central Bluetooth speaker (this great-sounding thing from UE) and everyone else trying to guess/remember who it was. Good stuff. I have now officially split Charlie Rich and Charlie Pride into two separate people, they were both filed in my brain under the same entry, problematic b/c for starters one of them is black.

No idea what tonight's plan is, but I'm going to try to sneak this Oaxacan string cheese pictured above into something soon. The item below I just picked up in the checkout lane at Wal*Mart, a tamarind-mango lollipop.

Now off to a real NFL football game, my first in a very long time, Cardinals vs. Colts. It should be a hoot, a Real American Experience, too bad/good thing I'm not drinking beer at the moment. Then I come home and cook an apple crisp and some cranberry sauce for tomorrow's Thanksgiving.


balancing act.

The rain relented long enough for everyone to learn how to ride a bike this morning, it literally took about 20 minutes, the advantage of waiting until you're 8 to learn how. Nobody fell once.

Below, jalapeños waiting for pickling.

Further below, a rare successful recreation of a simple Italian salad. This is something I had in Milan a couple of years ago, and though I made to be served as a contorno for the pasta, it was really much better suited to the next morning's breakfast of chicken, smoked mozzarella and artichoke sausage, kind of surprisingly classic.


celery and mushroom salad with parmesan.

2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced thinly with a mandoline
5 celery hearts, shaved crosswise with a mandoline
2 tbsp Italian flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp scallions, chopped fine
coarse salt
freshly cracked pepper
juice of 2 lemons, zest of one lemon
1/8 cup to 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

a good chunk of Parmesan for shaving/grating/etc



operation desert storm.

It's really raining here. It started last night and hasn't stopped. Everyone is in what might best be described as a "tizzy", because this never happens. Or it happens once a year.

Because these are such unusual weather conditions, shit changes. Today I was supposed to try to teach the boys how to ride their bikes (a activity badly-conceived enough to where we should all pause and look at each other over the tops of our reading glasses with a deep, silent cynicism and then go back to what we were doing), but this has been cancelled. Tomorrow's two (2) soccer games will probably be cancelled due to flooding (all of the adults shared an equally silent and solemn double fist pump over this).

So instead we find ourselves inside planning Thanksgiving, which for this section of the family will occur on Monday due to my Thanksgiving Day travel and my brother-in-law having to work on that day as well. Since everyone seems to have everything else under control, I'm going to make Thug Kitchen's cranberry sauce b/c well why the fuck not, and then I'm actually going to bake something, sort of a speculaas-spiced apple crisp. Maybe with brown butter if I feel crazy.

After some planning we went to the grocery store, and though I don't just normally whip my camera out in Safeway, I kind of had to document this.

Yes, that price tag says $12.19 for €2.99 worth of cardamom. For Amsterdam people, Safeway is just a "regular" grocery store, like AH.



bobby digital.

This is a sleeping baby dachshund named Hank. Or Bobby, depending on who you ask. Dad named him Hank, I think he looks like a Bobby. We have a shot of Hank/Bobby here because none of my food photography is happening during daylight hours. Last night's dinner was green chile pork tenderloin; roasted sweet potatoes with smoked paprika; blueberry-feta-greens salad.



sea life.

These are photos of: a boy with pockets full of garage sale money in an aquarium gift shop; unretouched jellyfish grooving out under club-style lighting; two boys trapped in a bubble underwater amongst clownfish, stingrays and sharks.


press corner.

For my own use, collecting reviews of Sunday's show.

A Beast In A Jungle.
New Music Buff.
Pacific Jazz.




OAK blast site. LAX 1: "Welcome to Los Angle-es, Mr. Gittes." LAX 2. PHX Backyard 1. PHX Backyard 2. The Dark Knight vs. Deadshot on the kitchen table. A spaghetti squash puttanesca experiment + rosemary lemon grilled chicken and young kale salad with grapes and almonds.


it rubs the laotian on its sausage.

Lao sausage at Champa Garden, Oakland. It was blammo good, and only $6. You basically make lettuce wraps with it, adding any of the 8 or 10 spicy condiments lying around plus mint and cilantro. We also tried the fried rice ball salad, which is confusingly named because there's no sign of "ball", but it was also super tasty and made me wish I had a metabolism four to ten times faster.


So, Bay Area? I had a simply legendary time there. Gorgeous scenery aside, I still owe the Duck a report on the general friendliness of Bay Area dwellers compared to most other places I've been, and I mean real, honest situations where "Can I help you?" really means "I am honestly offering my assistance."

Remind me to add the situation today where, walking to the BART station, someone asked me if I knew where the courthouse was. I said sorry, no, I'm not from around here, and another totally random passerby walking in the opposite direction, on the side of me farthest away from the courthouse-seeker (visualize this) stopped and said, "Can I help you find something?" Not a city employee, not a street person looking for a handout, just an Oakland resident offering to help.