bourbonneat: (Bourbon Neat)
I have done battle with countless pots of molten sugar and steaming vats of pickling liquid this past weekend-plus-a-day and emerged victorious!
20121213 Making Marshmallows - online
Ray. Ray? What did you DO, Ray?!


Christmas, I am ready for you!! Of course, this is all somewhat less than impressive with Christmas being, well, basically now and all that. Oh well. Still, prepared is prepared and at one point I didn’t think I’d be anywhere near that this year - I was away for work the first weekend of the month and then ill for the second and several days on either side, so all the holiday cooking was condensed into last weekend only.

Instead of the traditional cookie baking, my husband and I make candy for gifts. Well, candy and pickles – not for consuming together, naturally. Different gifts for different people. It started when he made me a homemade batch of salted caramel (for which I am a mad, mad fiend) for my birthday that disappeared long before the end of the party and when the in-laws starting asking for my pickled carrots.

Now the caramel has become this absolutely sinful brown butter, sea salt caramel of his own devising and our confectionary endeavors have branched out into homemade marshmallow (Aztec hot chocolate – because if the spice must flow, I’d prefer it be into my mouth), cranberry orange bark, cherry pistachio brittle and whatever else makes us say, ‘You know, I’ve always wanted to try…’ Also now I pickle onions too. And sometimes fruit. And I’m working on a good recipe for bread and butter pickles. Oh, and this year, bitters as well... Yeah. Project bunnies. Much like their cousin the plot bunny, they have a tendency to multiply when you’re not paying attention.

Anyway, it’s all done and wrapped now. I feel terribly accomplished and the kitchen needs to be destroyed by fire, which is really about par for the course when it comes to playing with molten sugar. It doesn’t matter how thoroughly you scour, you’re going to have to do it a few more times…and then a few more times again. Sugar is sneaky like that. Oh well.

Merry Christmas to all out there in LJ-land! I hope your holidays are enjoyable!

As for me, I love the crush of family that is about to come my way with all my heart and should have a very nice time. But when it’s all done, wonderful though it will be, I’m going to need some serious snark to cut all that sweet and heartfelt. I see my December 26th and it is full of fic writing (because this is turning into a monster and still is nowhere near done – yikes!) and some of my favorite non-cloying Christmas movies: The Ref, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Long Kiss Goodnight. Maybe even some Die Hard if I’m in the mood for mind numbing but fun.
bourbonneat: (Bourbon Neat)
Paso Fall Colors 1 - online

Behold, fall colors in California! Granted, yes, per our largely deserved reputation for oddity, these fall colors are in fact in a vineyard, not occurring in more traditional foliage. I took the photo in question last month at one of my favorite vineyards in Paso Robles, far out on the west side. Now, if I had actually remembered to pack my camera for our trip last weekend, I could show you entire fields of harvested grape vines with leaves gone crimson, russet and gold instead of this small beginning. But, still. Fall colors. California. See, we have seasons beyond fire, earthquake, and sunny and 75…though that last one is an awfully nice “season”.

Anyway, it was a lovely weekend in one of my favorite places, but we’re back in town and it’s back to the grind of work now. The wine has all been cataloged and put away and the sum total of the “collection” is, as usual, more than moderately ridiculous. Of course, just recently there was news of a for-sure/possible/maybe/imminent/several years down the line/oh no we’re all doomed!/oh yes, we got better, global wine shortage, so the next time the amount of wine in the house raises eyebrows I’ll just claim that we’re stockpiling in preparation. ;) 

Somehow, I only found out about the Oz and James Big Wine Adventure in California earlier this year. James May, one of my favorite witty, explainers of things, visiting my pet wine region (and the rest of California’s wine country)? How this escaped my attention, I have no idea. But the outcome is that on my last few visits to Paso Robles I’ve had the show fresh in my mind and it is a lot of fun to have the reminder of both how much and how little things have changed. I was also pleased to see that James and Oz visited a few of my favorite vineyards. Eberle is indeed phenomenal and the Anarchy James waxed poetic over at Four Vines (now renamed Cypher, but still run by the same delightfully quirky, incredibly talented guy seen on the show) is an absolutely luscious blend year in and year out – and that vineyard has two newer blends that I like even better! Many of the wineries that were small and inexpensive at the time James and Oz visited the region have grown large or gone boutique – not that that’s a bad thing – and newer wineries have cropped up to fill the small and inexpensive niche. But the overall feel of the region remains the same, quirky, creative and oh so friendly.

Once, trying to explain the difference between California’s more well-known Napa and Sonoma regions and Paso Robles, to a friend, I said that Napa/Sonoma is wine, cheese and trendy tunes, while Paso Robles is wine, street tacos (or something delicious off the winemaker’s grill!) and classic rock. Both are truly lovely, but I’m much more of a Paso girl…and, let me tell you, I would certainly prefer to be back there this week than back at my desk. Pour me another glass of red!
bourbonneat: (Bourbon Neat)
To be California lady with a love for British television is, all too often, like being a member of secret club that absolutely baffles you with its persistence in remaining a secret. I mean, it’s not as if this club’s members are trying to keep the secret. Quite the contrary – we’re dying to find someone, preferably a great many someones, who want to chat about our favorite shows.

If I want someone to commiserate with over the latest evilly delicious Grimm cliffhanger, yes, it’s a little on the geeky side for some, but I still have plenty of takers among my circle of friends and around my office. But when I wanted to giggle over the jokes in the Top Gear Africa special? No dice. I had to go online.

Having resources like BBCA and Netflix has made things easier over the years. I mean, back when I was in college (*snerk* and we walked to class uphill…both ways…in the snow…and oh, by the way, you kids get off my lawn ;) ) we only had access to gems like Red Dwarf if friends who studied abroad had the foresight to record shows to share back home. And, for my much older cousins, finding Monty Python’s Flying Circus on TV in those dark, dark days before anyone had a means of recording television (The horror!), required staying up until the wee hours of the morning and keeping the volume on both the television and mad cackling laughter to a minimum in order to avoid waking mom and dad.

So, yes, things are better. But even airing on BBCA on a regular basis is no guarantee that you will know anyone who watches the show. Witness my Top Gear example. I am a happy little geek who moves in happy little geeky circles, so it’s pretty much a given that most people I know have at least heard of Dr. Who and many of them watch it. Sherlock has also caught on with a number of folks I know. But move much beyond that and I at least find myself back in that oddly secret club territory and finding another “member” who lives locally makes for exciting times indeed.

So, when my guy invites an old friend over, and the conversation drifts to books and television. And then that old friend hesitates a moment in a way you just know means he’s going to mention something which, in his experience, is obscure. And he then says “Well there is this show I’ve been catching on YouTube…you’ve probably never heard of it but you might really like it. It’s called Quite Interesting,” his pronunciation of the t in quite, unconsciously crisper than it would have been were he using the same word in any other context. Well, then you will understand my coming to full attention, ears perked like a cat. “You watch QI?!”

And, in the grand scheme of things, if one must be a member of an annoyingly secret club, I guess that’s as nice a password as any.

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