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Blessed with abundance

From Christina_Eng — Blog by
July 13, 2010

OK now this has got to stop.

I survey the groceries and realize there is simply too much food in the refrigerator. There are tons of fruits and vegetables. It’s crazy.

After the game Sunday afternoon, I went to the Berkeley Bowl, where I got raspberries, blackberries and blueberries on the cheap. I don’t want to keep them too long, though, so I make a crisp.

I got a bag of eggplants for 99 cents and think of a tomato-less pasta sauce with a recipe I saw on Salon. Or perhaps I should roast them for baba ghanoush.

I got six ears of shucked yellow corn for 99 cents. I got a bag of squash - zucchini and two varieties whose names I do not know - for 99 cents. I have not figured out entirely what to do with them but have a couple of days still, I think.

I got rhubarb, which I happened to see and, of course, could not resist. I love it and will need to cook that down for schloop (a word I just made up). I can have it with vanilla yogurt and granola for breakfast.

I got kale just because. In hindsight, perhaps I should have put back the kale. I still have carrots, onions and lettuce leaves, too. I even wound up freezing a mess of sliced red bell peppers the other week because I could not use those immediately.

It is ridiculous, right? You’d think I was cooking and shopping to feed a football team. And this is all after the flat of strawberries the other weekend from the farmers’ market.

Oh, and shoot, running errands in Chinatown this morning, I got pluots, too. I know. But they are in season, and I saw them.

The second pancake

From Christina_Eng — Blog by
April 28, 2010

A brother makes me pancakes. Without having to ask, he takes out a mixing bowl in the morning and heats a skillet on the stove. He whips up batter. I watch from a seat at the kitchen counter.

The first pancake does not come out right. No big shakes. I tell him it’s like Katie Holmes’ character in “Pieces of April.” Something about how she is the first pancake, the first child in the family, the one who never turns out totally right. He looks at me funny.

My brother tries again.

And the other pancakes turn out fine. They are light and fluffy, served with slices of banana and strawberries, and scoops of vanilla ice cream. He spreads separate layers of Nutella and chunky peanut butter in between as well.

They are over the top and delicious. We take turns at the plate while drinking orange juice and Champagne. Is it any wonder he remains my favorite sibling?

Humming along

From Christina_Eng — Blog by
November 20, 2009

Opened, as it turns out, by a friend of a friend, The Hummingbird Bakery in London sells American-style desserts aplenty. There are cupcakes, for instance. There are layer cakes, pies, cookies and brownies.

And, not surprisingly, there is a book: “The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook” from owner Tarek Malouf.

We opt for a red velvet cupcake with traditional cream cheese frosting. My sister takes a bite. I happily finish the rest.

London town

From Christina_Eng — Blog by
November 5, 2009

Maybe it is the relief of sitting at a table after a day of planes, trains and automobiles. Or the peace of mind that comes with having gotten away. Of being in a city that means a great deal, a place that figures significantly in a personal history.

Maybe it is the warm comfort of seeing a good friend I have not seen in close to a year. Of having fun together again. This I know. Whatever the reason, the Monday meal at Solche Cilician on Broadway Market in Hackney is absolutely lovely.

The White House drinks

From Christina_Eng — Blog by
July 30, 2009

I find it hard to believe Pres. Obama actually likes Budweiser. It seems to me he has better taste than that. I suppose politics, however, demands everyday beer.

The thing is: If the president, the policeman and the professor are drinking beer together, shouldn’t they be drinking the same beer?

Remember the time

From Christina_Eng — Blog by
July 8, 2009

“So I went over to his house to have dinner. The chef came out and said, ‘What would you like?’

“I said, ‘Some grilled chicken.’

“So as we begin to talk about the video and what he wanted me to do, the chef brought me out the grilled chicken. But he brought Michael out a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.

“And I went crazy, like, ‘Wait a minute! Michael, you eat Kentucky Fried Chicken?’

“That made my day. That was the greatest moment of my life. We had such a good time sitting on the floor, eating that bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken.”

Magic Johnson, on working on the video for “Remember the Time,” speaking at the memorial service in Los Angeles for Michael Jackson.

What I must take for granted

From Christina_Eng — Blog by
April 21, 2009

At a farmers’ market across town, I stocked up on strawberries but could not yet locate rhubarb. Darn.

When I emailed a friend in snowy Colorado afterward, and talked of having enough luscious red fruit to last the week but unfortunately still no rhubarb, she envied the year-round farmers’ markets in the Bay Area.

To which I asked, semi-seriously: What, aren’t all farmers’ markets year-round?

Spoken indeed like a fruit-privileged Californian.

I am reminded of the mildly morbid but telling story a brother used to share about a man who complained of having no shoes until he saw somebody else with no feet.

Schedule C for cake

From Christina_Eng — Blog by
April 15, 2009

I finished taxes and sent the suckers off. Hallelujah! This calls for cake. Technically, anything can call for cake.

The forms took about three weekends, on and off, and plenty of hair-pulling (even with TurboTax). But, in the end, I completed my taxes and my parents’ taxes, and crosschecked returns for a few sisters and brothers to boot.

If the threats of IRS audits don’t hang perpetually over their heads, I swear, people would not worry half as much as they do about numbers and calculations, explanation and documentation.

Suffice to say, I am greatly relieved, and look forward to again engaging my creative right brain (leaving the methodical left brain alone until next April). In the meantime, Uncle Sam gets its share; and I, well, I get cake.

To market, to market

From Christina_Eng — Blog by
April 11, 2009

Imagine the excitement when I learned of a farmers’ market opening nearby. Finally, I thought, I could walk on a slow, casual Saturday to an outdoor market, and head home shortly afterward with fresh, seasonal fruits.

I wouldn’t need to get into a car to wander farmers’ markets in other parts of the city. I wouldn’t need to find parking to sample an array of lovely and sometimes unusual produce. I wouldn’t need to drum up a list of errands “in that area” to justify visits to markets 20 or 25 minutes away from where I live.

In other cities, I have happily strolled farmers’ markets, taking the train or the car, finding (and paying for) parking.

I love the Ferry Plaza farmers’ market, for example, and try as much as possible to include it in plans when I BART into San Francisco. Trips to see a brother in Southern California also feel just that much more satisfying when we get to go to the market in Santa Monica.

But this new farmers’ market, this one would be different, I thought. This one would actually be in my very own back yard. Finally, I could tumble out of bed, slap on a pair of sneakers and walk there.

Imagine the disappointment when I arrived the second weekend to find less than a handful of stalls and vendors, and even fewer people shopping.

Organizers say they hope to see the farmers’ market expand in weeks, months and years ahead, as more growers come and word spreads inevitably across the neighborhood. I do, too.

Dessert in the desert

From Christina_Eng — Blog by
March 5, 2009

A recent visit to Death Valley recalls a lesson learned years ago on the difference between “dessert” and “desert,” and how to not mistake one spelling for the other.

“Dessert,” the teacher reminded us, “has two S’s, for sugar and spice (and everything nice). Desert, on the other hand, has just one S. It is all sand.”

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