Too Many Cooks

Almost Turkey Time

Two is not Too Many Cooks, at least in our kitchen. Anne and I spent the better part of the day in that room working well together. I would sort of spell myself with the occasional run to the grocery store, where every revisit was met with even more shopper than last time. It there was too much of anything, it was too many shoppers at Schnucks. Today, other than being chief dish and bottle washer, my main accomplishment was seeding the pomegranates, two, which was too many, but once the one we bought went bad and we ended up with none. One Christmas past, Anne and I made a little movie about seeding our pomegranate called Persephone’s Pomegranate, an allusion to the cycle of the seasons. Today’s photo is also a bit of a throwback, from almost ten years ago. I was bicycling along the Riverfront Trail and spied a flock of turkeys. They were down by the Mississippi River, while I was up on top of the levee. It has never been published before and has been Photoshopped in honor of the bird.

Out on the Town

Manhattan at Night

The high holidays draw nigh. The NPR Morning Edition host signed off today with a holiday wish. Meaning, Thanksgiving is less than a week away. How did it sneak up on me, while I wasn’t paying any attention? Oh yeah, I wasn’t paying any attention. Closer to home, Dan flies in tomorrow. Dave will follow him on Tuesday and we’ll be a whole family again.

This so-called cooking holiday will hardly be a holiday from the kitchen at all. It usually entails an all-day cooking event. To that end, feeding the hungry masses, I reenacted my regular Saturday morning ritual of fixing breakfast. I went with my current go-to, avocado toast. It has evolved over time to its current higher plane. Almost lost are its original Kaldi’s roots, almost, but not quite. I still use Siracha Mayo as garnish. It’s really pretty simple, which works for me. One avocado, lemon and I’ve added a small tomato. Seasoned to taste and mixed all together into a green paste. I’ve long since dispensed with toast and have since converted to toaster naan. Today, I added Atlantic smoked salmon, with capers. It was a rousing success, if I do say so myself and was met with rave reviews. I think that I’ll be revisiting this dish on Thursday morning.

I got to say that since I have retired, I have become a better cook, not to crow all about it. Caw! Caw! Caw! I know, get some new material. Thanksgiving though is a team effort. It’s just too much for one person to handle and too much to accomplish in just one day. It seems too much for only one meal, but then you are forgetting about leftovers, which could last a week or at least the weekend. 

Speaking of eating, which this post seems to be all about, we went out last night. Originally, I wanted to go to Peno Soul Food, a new southern Italian pizzeria but it was slammed. The other Italian place across the street was a definite no-go, because at noon, it had a huge honey-dipper truck, sucking something out of it.

We ended up at Avenue and shared a few small plates for dinner: pumpkin ravioli, mushroom ragout and spinach salad. This left plenty of room for dessert and we doubled-down, with apples for Olivia, a signature puff pastry filled with pine nut pastry cream, topped with honey-roasted apples, served with apple sorbet and a lemon tart with fruit. We both liked the tart the best.

Also dining was a nuclear family. Mom and dad separated bro and sis, but that was hardly necessary, because both children were enraptured by each their own movie playing notebooks, accompanied with bulky headphones. Sis had pink ones. It was bad enough to see the two enraptured in the lead-up, but they continued their mesmerizing pleasures after the food was served and throughout the meal and I thought that iPhones at the table were bad enough. Of which I am guilty of using, but I feel really, really bad about it. 

Moqueca Completa

Moqueca Completa

New day, new town, our train arrived a little early at South Station in Boston. We Ubered over to our Air B&B in Cambridge. We’re staying only a few blocks from Dave’s place. Dave joined us later for dinner. We shared a Brazilian seafood stew at Muqueca, just down the street from our place. We all had Moqueca Completa, a fish, shrimp and mussel stew. We’re staying above a bar and I was a little concerned with its advertisements for live music, especially, when I found ear plugs on the night stand, but it was quiet. Today, Halloween, the Red Sox are holding their victory parade downtown. What could go wrong with that? Dave who has to work will meet us on his lunch hour. We’re looking forward to exploring this town. So, stay tuned!

Tahquamenon Falls

Tahquamenon Falls from Brink Overlook

We did our annual trip over to Tahquamenon Falls. Our Prius turned 100K on the drive over. First, we drove through the park. Our destination being the Brick Oven Bakery. They have a land line, but are otherwise off the grid. We bought two loaves of sourdough bread and a cinnamon roll. After our purchase, we hung around and discussed all manner of interesting things, like the weather. 😉

We were delighted to find that the proprietor is no fan of the orange menace or any of its ilk. On our way through Paradise, we saw two road signs, “Impeach Trump” and “#Resist”. So, even here in the heart of Trump country there is dissent. After this week’s treasonous Helsinki debacle, I can only pray that all true patriots rise up in protest of this Russian toady traitor of a president.

We headed back to the upper falls, snagged a cup of coffee and enjoyed our cinnamon spoils. Then it was off to the falls. We started with the gorge overlook, which is down river from the falls and a path that we had not yet traveled. As we were about to descend, another tourist announced to the world, “Well, that was a waste of time!” I couldn’t disagree more. It was an excellent boardwalk and newer than the brink overlook that we’ve traversed many times. The view may not be as spectacular as at the brink overlook, but it was good.

We descended the brink overlook next and then it was time for some lunch. We headed back to Paradise and Fresh Coast Café for a little something. It was mid-afternoon by then, so Anne and I split their Superior chicken salad sandwich. On the way back to the cabin, we stopped at the Dancing Crane Coffee Shop. This is easily the best coffee shop in the Soo area. We bought a bag of beans and a cup of joe to go. Then it was back to the cabin, where apparently wind and wave had blown all day, meaning that we didn’t even miss a beach day by leaving. 

Harissa

Badlands Sunset Panorama

We went to Café Natasha’s Persian Cuisine for dinner. Our occasion was a thank you to Joanie for looking after the house this summer. Dave joined us too. It was a lovely dinner, with good food and good company and an ulterior motive or two. Just the day before, I had got a text from Nink, asking for restaurant recommendations in Saint Louis. Her colleague and family are moving from Rochester to Oklahoma and wanted a place to dine, while passing through town. She asked for either Indian or Middle Eastern and Natasha’s came to mind and was one of three that I mentioned, but I think that I favored it over the others. It had made the Post’s annual top 100 list, which is always a good sign. Anyway, this recommendation put me in mind to take Joanie there too.

Harissa and my hunt for it was my other ulterior motive. We’re going to a 4th of July potluck and I wanted to bring my Moroccan carrot salad. I’ve been making this dish for potlucks for years and it has always been a big hit. I’d always used a Whole Foods recipe, until for our last Kaldi’s potluck, I switched to something spicier that used harissa. Our other Rochester friends had first turned us on to this spice and had given us some, which we had husbanded until that Kaldi’s potluck. The rave reviews that I had received motivated me to get some more. 

Harissa is a Maghrebi hot chili pepper mix of Tunisian origin. The first place I tried was Penzeys Spices in Maplewood, but had no joy there. They knew what it was, but were adamant that they didn’t stock it. I next tried the Vine, which is right across Grand from Natasha’s. Last time I checked this establishment was a restaurant and market, but a call educated me that the market has closed and is now a juice bar. That left Jay’s International Market, only 2 blocks down Grand.

My previous call had elicited that they had harissa, but upon arrival finding it was a challenge. We first found a number of harissa infused products, but with the help of eventually three people, I found pure harissa. Small jar in hand and after rounding up the girls, I eventually headed for home, a happy man.

PS – Anne and I took over 9,000 photos on our western excursion. So, you can expect to see a lot more of these pictures for quite a while. This one is another pano from our sunset photo expedition in the Badlands, during the big wind storm that eventually blew us out of the park. The Prius is parked on the road’s shoulder and if you look closely, you can see Anne in the middle of the field.