Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I prefer men to cauliflowers.

Lounging Cauliflower, 2009

Like Ms Woolf, I too prefer men to cauliflowers, but when it's roasted cauliflowers we are discussing, well, the competition stiffens. I've been meaning to roast cauliflower for quite some time now. Yesterday, I decided it was an activity that could no longer be delayed.

The Tuesday Market didn't have any cauliflower, but Farm Fresh to You, inside the Ferry Building, had two choices: 1) A nice traditional white head of cauliflower wrapped in plastic 2) An uninhibited green head, no plastic jacket. I chose the green. There's just something I find off-putting about plastic-wrapped produce. This distaste for plastic-wrapped produce is one of the main reasons I haven't visited Trader Joe's in a while. The Tuesday Market did supply me with an inspirational bunch of young leeks. With cauliflower and leeks in hand, and a few other items I knew I had in my kitchen, I decided to construct a pizza.

Roasted Cauliflower, Caramelized Leek, and Crispy Pancetta Pizza
(serves 2)
  • 1/2 recipe of this pizza dough, or enough for a rectangular pizza the size of a small cookie sheet (Store the other half in the refrigerator for your next pizza.)
  • One small head of cauliflower (Any color will do.) sliced lengthwise into 3/4 inch slices
  • 3 thin slices of pancetta, diced
  • 1/2 head roasted garlic
  • 4 small leeks, sliced thin and slowly caramelized in generous amount of olive oil
  • A very small amount of cheese (I used a few curls pulled with a vegetable peeler from a block of Marin Cheese sharp white cheddar. No one ever uses cheddar on pizza and I wanted to give it a go. Chris agreed.)
  • Olive oil (Keep bottle on counter, you'll need it.)
  • Salt & Pepper (I happened to have Fleur de Sel and freshly ground black pepper.)

Roast a head of garlic if you don't have one on hand, actually, roast two and save one for later.

Read your dough recipe and allow yourself some leisurely time to prepare. It's quite simple, but it takes a while.

You can pre-cook the rest of the ingredients ahead of time or wait until your last dough rising cycle and begin then.

Rub both sides of your cauliflower slices with olive oil, place on cookie sheet, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes, turning once. If you end up with some smallish pieces of cauliflower, wait about 10 minutes to add them to the cookie sheet. This will avoid burning. Your cauliflower should brown a bit on both sides. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.

Saute pancetta in a little olive oil until lightly crisped. Don't overcook because it will crisp up a bit more on the pizza. Move pancetta from pan to a small bowl or plate. Do not drain on paper. Do not wash pan.

Add a bit more olive oil to your saute pan (the same one you used for the pancetta) and add sliced leeks. Slowly caramelize your leeks and let them cool to room temperature in pan.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Break up roasted cauliflower and add to leeks in pan. Toss leeks and cauliflower and add additional salt and pepper to taste (remember...pancetta is salty).

Press dough into cookie sheet, out to the edges of the pan.

Smear cloves of soft roasted garlic onto the dough with your hands--a bit here, a bit there.

Evenly sprinkle leek and cauliflower mixture on top of garlic.

Scatter pancetta on top of leeks and cauliflower (don't wash the bowl).

Pull a few curls of cheese and place on top.

Dip your fingers into the pancetta bowl and rub on all of the exposed crust showing around the edges of the toppings.

Bake for about 10 minutes or until crust begins to turn light brown. If the toppings start looking too brown before the crust turns brown, cover them with a sheet of foil.

Remove from oven, cool for a few minutes, and EAT!

Use the other half of your dough later in the week for a roasted red pepper, feta, and chicken Italian sausage pizza. That's what I'll be doing...

Yes, this takes a little time, but it's fun, and remember--don't let your priorities get in the way of your priorities.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Things I Learned Later

From Barbara Jean's Collection, 2009

The lost
of a nectarine
a smooth skinned peach.

His dancing
on Halloween
with her,
before Lisa was born.

at the sight
of his sister’s first needle,
before she was my godmother,
before she left us,

And the bridge
to the lighthouse
he could not cross.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Everything old is new again.

Late October, 2009

This new light, it makes everything feel so different.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pimp My Blog

preserve, 2009

blog·o·sphere / ˈblägəˌsfi(ə)r/ • n. the world of weblogs.

If you are here, you are probably a member, at least in some small way, of this club we call the blogosphere.

How is it working out for you?

I have had my ups and downs, but I think I might finally be adjusting to this new method of communication and idea sharing. My largest problem is a good one. It's you. Access to this international forum is enabling me to find too many thought provoking individuals sharing their ideas and images in blog format. I'm referring to those of you who post on your own blog and those of you who don't write your own blog, but participate by sharing your thoughts and ideas in comments sections.

I'm currently managing this forum via Google Reader and have recently implemented computer-free Saturday. As this forum of intriguing individuals grows I'm sure we will all be seeking new ways to adjust to the volume. I know that I don't want to spend so much time reading about the lives of others that the life I live begins to shrink. I want to focus on my priorities and preserve what is most important in my life. For me, spending hours per day in front of any magic screen hinders this pursuit. As beautiful as this blogosphere may be, it also has its beast of burden qualities (...thinking Oh, what about breakfast? at 11 o'clock).

I just read some interesting statistics, a sneak preview of Technorati's State of the Blogosphere 2009 report. For instance, 2/3 of professional bloggers are male. Really? This surprised me. Professional bloggers are a well-educated bunch, 75% have college degrees and 40% have graduate degrees. 72% of the 2900 surveyed blog for hobby/fun and don't make money. Optimistically, 63% say they have become more involved with what they are passionate about as a result of blogging and only a tiny 6% say relationships with family or friends are suffering.

Of course, Twitter was also mentioned. 73% of bloggers surveyed use Twitter versus 14% of the general population. I'm sure you've heard or read that microblogging services such as Twitter are replacing traditional blogging. This might be true for a few, but this article claims that statistically, it just isn't so. They say the #1 reason bloggers are on Twitter is to promote their blogs, or "to pimp their blogs" as one audience member comically stated. I still haven't really wrapped my arms around Twitter and I'm not entirely sure how it fits into my life. Am I just using it to pimp my blog? Maybe.

So...I have a few questions pertaining to how you are managing the world of weblogs.

What technology are you using?
How are you managing your time?
Do you feel you are able to comfortably participate in the blogosphere and preserve what is most important in your life?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

For myself, for me.

Seattle, WA - October 2009

and expanded,
with nothing at all.

Is there still
a glimmer,
no matter how small?

A light floating fragment,
a ghost of the old you.

A tiny
yellow leaf.

Should I capture it?

That one last
piece, all that remains.

And keep it,
for myself.

Should I take it?

And press it,
hot with an iron,

between two sheets of wax.

So I can hold it,
preciously in my palm.

And cry.

For me,
just selfishly for me.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pinch Pots

A few new items in the shop. These little guys + one bottle vase.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


photograph by Dad

I once dated a bartender.
We met when I tried to play football.
He drove a jeep, called me a suit,
and bought me white chocolate chapstick
from the Gap.
He'd needed a clean shirt for work
and believed laundry to be a waste of time.
I knew it was all temporary.
I never even met his roommate, the actuary.
He wanted to be a cop,
like my dad,
and he was still in love with his ex-girlfriend.
She didn't bother with manicures.
He introduced me to
and Aurora.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Good Poem Hunting

My best friend's breakfast. September, 2009

Do you have a favorite poem?

Whenever I'm asked this question I think of a very early work of Sylvia Plath's, Jilted. It reminds me of so many of the thoughts I had during my adolescent years. Looking back, those thoughts seem sweet and cute, but back then it was all very serious.

Would you share your favorite poem with me (just post it in the comments section)?

Side note:
Here's wishing you find the perfect light, and when you do, that you happen to be with someone who will pause, put down his fork and knife, and be patient while you work.

But is it work? No, not really.

Enjoy your day.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

This is not my Chicago.

On my way home after visiting with my Aunt Barb,
shot from the train, somewhere near La Grange, IL.
Autumn 2009

...but maybe it's better. Oh, I'm just not sure.

There is often a struggle between my adventurous side and my sentimental side. For instance, the new Millennium Park is great, but I miss the original Petrillo Band Shell and the old Grant Park of my childhood. I'm sure most would disagree, Millennium Park is a big hit, but my Chicago past holds a very special place in my heart and the old run down Grant Park is part of that past.

That being said, my trip "back home" did not include one Chicago-style hot dog. There was not a poppy seed bun in sight. Those delicious Italian beef sandwiches, the type they used to sell in the shop below my grandmother's apartment, the tasty treat I used to earn by peeling potatoes for the owner's french fries. Nope. I didn't eat one. Chris took our new friend from London to Pizzeria Uno for a deep dish pie, but me, I was not along for that ride.

These were the Chicago standards I grew up adoring, but during this trip I focused in on some new favorites.

The Publican. It's a great place. If you visit Chicago, go. If you live in Chicago, why am I telling you about this place? Although I was incredibly fond of the pig paintings on the walls, I loved their housemade pickles, the pork rinds were out of this world, and the beer selection was spectacular--it was the suckling pig, yes, that Fairbury, IL pig from Slagel Family Farm that truly won my heart. When we quickly perused the menu and ordered suckling pig as one of our many shared dishes, we'd imagined a large and somewhat messy platter piled high with rough chopped pork. This was not the case. I don't know where I came up with this idea, I've never eaten suckling pig. When it arrived, well, we all frowned a bit. That's it? It was a tastefully arranged dish (broccoli, delicate little grapes, and almonds--plated upon a small serving of creamy grits) , quite beautiful really, but we'd anticipated that messy overflowing platter... We were sitting in this enormous beer hall filled with long communal tables, pork rinds as big as your head, and grand pig portraits decorating the place. We were thinking BIG. Long story short, the suckling pig was exquisite and my favorite dish of the trip. Order it.

Next on my list is the best almond croissant I have ever tasted. It was made at Vanille Patisserie, a small unassuming storefront off of Clybourn Avenue, just north of Webster. Vanille seems to be more about wedding cakes, chocolates, and beautiful little cakes and tarts. The croissants appeared to be second class citizens, but don't be fooled. This croissant was perfectly crisp on the outside and had I've-died-and-gone-to-heaven layers of pastry and almond goodness on the inside. It was fabulous. Try the chocolates and cakes if you like, but please, indulge in at least one of these almond croissants.

Last, I will talk briefly about Intelligentsia. I'm a little uncomfortable with this one (the sentimental thing again...). I'm confused. Intelligentsia has been around. It was there, on Broadway, when I left Chicago in 2000. It had been there for about 5 years. I really liked the place. Back then, it was just a place, not a brand. They made great coffee. I loved to camp out at a table with a book and sip my cappuccino. It was quiet. It was cozy. Honestly, no one besides the loyal locals seemed to really care that it existed. I never knew anyone outside of the neighborhood who had even heard of the place. Now Intelligentsia is a brand. They have a detailed website and a definite look. They've opened locations in Silver Lake and Venice (CA), New York, and the guy at the counter told us they'd recently purchased a struggling brand in San Francisco. When I rode the train to the suburbs to see my Aunt, they were selling Intelligentsia coffee inside the tiny train station--they are everywhere. They look good, the coffee is still great, the owners will surely retire happier, but I miss that unpretentious and independent little coffee place on Broadway.

Before we departed, after all of the food and drink, we visited my favorite place to find peace in Chicago. My beautiful escape. A place I've gone to find solace more times than I can count. A seemingly never ending body of water that touches Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan. Probably the first body of water I ever observed, the same one I watched as I rode in the little bike seat on the front of my father's bike when he used to take me along with him on his lakefront bike rides. Just past the Lincoln Park Zoo (my first zoo, the only FREE zoo I've ever visited, the place my parents took me when I was a tot), right where Fullerton hits Lake Michigan. Beside Theater on the Lake. One of the best spots in Chicago. It hasn't really changed at all. When I arrive I see standing in this spot still overwhelms me with peace. It is still my Chicago.

Lake Michigan at sunset.
Autumn 2009