Laundry and Cooking

The coffee lands with a thump in my belly and the colors in the room come into focus. All of them. This includes the pile of pink and blue and white and green dress shirts that have been sitting on the floor for a week contrasting with the pile of clean laundry still wrapped in blue paper from the laundry where I completely bailed on it and just dropped it off which further contrasts with the bag of new purple and white and (I think) vermillion dress shirts I bought on sale on Friday. All the pastels and the muted tones make it look like the Martha Stewart Pantone Palate exploded on my floor. I stand there a minute taking it all in waiting for my brain to go into full on avoidance mode. The problem is it doesn’t. Instead I start sorting the clean from the dirty and the new from the worn and then before I know it I’m in motion and the coffee has forced me to start doing horrifying things like dusting and shredding paper.

It all just gets too frightening so I wad up the shirts and walk out the front door and drop them off at the cleaners. They’re a cheery bunch in there, even if it is a little forced. The husband knows his business and often will point out things on my clothes to let me know “I no can clean” or “This shirt too frayed.”. His wife is built like my mother was and I often am startled when I go in and see her bent over the washing machine like my mother used to.. one hand on her hip while she waits for the cycle to stop. They’re nice people but I often am irked when my shirts come back with shattered buttons and my suits aren’t pressed uniformly. It’s a persnikity thing to be annoyed about, but when my suits keep falling off the hangers because they’re unbalanced and I don’t notice until there’s a pile of clothing getting wrinkled at the bottom of my closet.

After dropping everything off I head to the Castro and Philz coffee. I’m not wired enough apparently. I get in the door and I’m dreaming of coffee with sugar and cream with that slight bergamot after taste when it dawns on me I’ve got $0.34 in my pocket. I withdraw sheepishly and head back towards the cash machine. On my way I run into 2/3 of a thruple I know and talk about dinner at my house. We giggle a bit about the missing third. Affectionate eye rolling occurs. We say good bye, plans a little firmer and I head off in the opposite direction than them. I’m half way home before it dawns on me I forgot coffee.

I make a detour to the organic grocery and mentally flip Safeway the bird as I walk past. Beef, pancetta, oranges, onions, garlic, spelt fettuccini, butter, cheddar, mushrooms, whole cloves, eggs, bacon.

Walk home past the dog run just in time to see a four puppy pile up as they all chase the same Frisbee. At first it’s a cute tangle of tails and paws but just as suddenly it’s snarling and biting and barking and yelping squealing and owners running and yelling and dogs are separated and the Frisbee lies forgotten on the sidewalk.

Get home and put the perishables away just as the first splattering of the next storm rushes up the panhandle and peppers the house like pebbles. Step into the bedroom and crank up the space heater knowing it’s going to get cold and fast. Spy another pile of paper that is defying the laws of gravity and spend the next five minutes splitting it into shredable, recyclable and keepable. Discover the cables to the point and shoot camera that I thought I had lost. Spend the next five minutes wrapping cables and adapters and data cards and props and fake fur and lights and stands and step back and discover the dresser I bought for $80 that’s been buried.

Step away and make some tea and stand in the dining room watching the rain beat on the windows and feel safe and warm and comfortable. Go back in the kitchen and pull out the heavy cutting board and the 10 inch knife and the purchases from earlier in the day. Listen to the neighbors kids screaming in a tantrum. Hear the father pleading with the child to “just do it”. He sounds tired and worthy of sympathy.
Dice the onion real fine. Do the same to the carrot. Place the garlic on the cutting board and beat the crap out of it with the flat side of the knife and the heel of your palm. Smear it thing and then scrape it off. Zest and juice 2 oranges. Set aside. I stop and smell the garlic and orange on my fingers a minute. Wash and dry. Cut up the beef into the smallest pieces I can and do the same to the pancetta. Cold fat cubes nicely. The wind and rain beat harder. Take a break from the mise en place and put the house plants out on the deck to take advantage of the free water from the sky. Come back and rummage through the pantry for the herbes de provence. Find some olives in the fridge. Chop them up with the herbs. Yank the bacon fat from the other day out of the fridge. I melt it in the cast iron I took pictures of the day before. Add the olive oil. Drop in the diced pancetta and render render, render and render over low heat until the fat puddles. Add the beef and brown. Impulsively drop a tablespoon of paprika in too. Stir and blend and smell and steam. Yank the meat and add the onions and garlic and carrots to the pot and stand there stirring absent mindedly thinking the fridge needs purging from the various dairy products that need to go. Snap back to reality when the smell of the onions and garlic hits full on. Add the juice and zest and olives and herbs and stir it up. Return the meat to the pot and blend it all together. Open that bottle of merlot some one bought me. The one called Fat Bastard because it just seems appropriate. Bring it all to a boil with some tomato paste and throw it in the oven for a few hours. Before heading off to the newly cleaned bedroom for a nap, pull the papardelle noodles down from the pantry. Feel the heat of the oven and a blast hits the house again.

Warm. Safe. Dry. Fed. Good.


While start to finish this whole process lasted 18 hours, it really was relatively easy. The results were so worth it.

2 1/2 pounds pork butt, cut into 1/2″ cubes
4 oz pancetta, 1/2″ cubes
1 1/2 T kosher salt
1 T whole fennel seeds
1 T thyme
1/8 cup ground black pepper

1/8 cup jack daniels
2 ice cubes

Recipe follows….


Just cubed up 2.5 pounds of pork butt. Added 4 oz pancetta. Tossed in 1.5 T kosher salt. Added 3 T black pepper. Added 2 T fennel seeds. Added 2 T paprika. Added some where between 2 and 3 T of thyme. Tossed it all together. Returned to the fridge.

Tommorow? We grind.

Does Diet Soda Make You Fat?

Most people know I tend to avoid soda. Sure, sure, I’ll have one every now and then. But I don’t keep it at home, preferring instead to have water from the Brita. Or better yet, a cup of coffee strong enough to keep most of the continental United States awake.

There’s also the whole “Soda is bad for you” thing. As one person pointed out to me over the holidays “Your argument doens’t hold much weight with a cigarette in your hand.”

Fair enough. But for those of you who are not smokers, but who also drink upwards of 6 cans od diet coke a day, please read on….