Sunday, March 28, 2010

Lazy Sundays and Brunches


You can't teach people to be lazy, they either have it or they don't.
Dagwood Bumstead

Sunday is usually the day I'm lazy. It's allows me to prepare a luxurious brunch. My dog and roommate have become big fans of this event. My pantry is full of possibilities for making it. The food section of the SF Chronicle is often an inspiration for these brunches. Today they didn't let me down. Here's what I made:

Meyer Lemon and Ricotta Puffed Pancakes with Macerated Strawberries
Serves 6 to 8
This light pancake is perfect for a spring brunch, served with the strawberries or other fresh fruit. It will collapse if it sits too long, so it's best presented straight from the oven. It's OK to use regular lemons, but Meyers will give a slightly sweeter flavor.

The macerated strawberries:

1 pint strawberries, hulled and sliced
2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste--
Squeeze of Meyer lemon juice, to taste

The pancake:

1 cup whole milk
4 eggs
1/3 cup sugar, + more for sprinkling on top
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons grated Meyer lemon zest (preferably on a microplane)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup ricotta cheese1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons heavy cream

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 400°
To macerate the strawberries, sprinkle the sugar and lemon juice, if using, over the fruit in a bowl and toss to coat. Depending on the sweetness of the strawberries, you'll need to adjust the amount of sugar and lemon. Set aside while you make the pancake.

Blend the milk, eggs, 1/3 cup sugar, vanilla, salt, flour and lemon zest in a blender until smooth, taking care not to overmix. Melt the butter in a 10-inch cast-iron or other ovenproof skillet over low heat on the stove, coating the sides of the pan as well as the bottom. Remove from heat and pour the batter into the skillet.Whisk the ricotta cheese with the sugar and heavy cream in a small bowl; drop by spoonfuls into the pancake batter, spacing it evenly throughout. Sprinkle a little granulated sugar on top.Place pan into the oven. Cook until the pancake is set and the top is puffed and golden, about 25 minutes.Cut into wedges, and serve immediately topped with the macerated strawberries and collected juices.

This was easy to make. After brunch Bella and Brian had their usual wrestle session, then collapsed to relax. I've just been catching up on my reading pile.

I found another Canadian flamenco guitarist whose music pairs well with a lazy Sunday. Hope
yours has been as good.

Johannes Linstead, "Cien Fuegos":


Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Pause

A three year old child is a being who gets almost as much fun out of a fifty-six dollar set of swings as it does out of finding a small green worm.
Bill Vaughn

After several days of being ko'ed by the flu, I ventured out this morning. I decided to take a few shots and my 3 year old neighbor came to investigate. She ended up deciding she was going to be a photographer too. With a little guidance she took a few shots of Bella my Springer. It was a great morning and after the last months a pause to look through the eyes of a three year old was just what the doctor ordered.

The Carpenters, "Bless the Beasts and the Children":


Monday, March 22, 2010

Perspective

.
Sometimes you have to let go to see if there was anything worth hanging on to.

Perspective is a fascinating thing. We can see the world in a certain way at one age and find it totally different at another. It can cause great joy or misery. It can create life or bring death. It can bring change to a nation or hold it wrapped in rigidity.

Yesterday one of the most important changes in recent history was wrought. Access to health care. Working in health care I heard opinions today that our President was an incredible visionary or a blinded fool who will bring this country to financial cataclysm. Whether the health care system that will be brought into being over the next few years will be all that supporters of the change hope it will or or disastrous as the proponents project it will remains to be seen....

What is my perspective? I see the glass as half full. The faith that I have in our country to address important issues and meet the needs of our people on a continuing basis has been met. That finally the long delayed policy of health care for all has become a record on which our next chapters will be written. My excitement lies in that the reality of universal health care for Americans begun and the product that emerges, will be much like our country unique, multi faceted and evolving. I have hope it will be a good thing.

What's your perspective?

Woody Guthrie, "This Land":


Friday, March 12, 2010

Seeds of Change



Whether you tend a garden or not, you are the gardener of your own being, the seed of your destiny.
The Findhorn Community

The seeds of change have been flying around in my life since last fall. Some of them are beginning to grow in ways I never imagined. I cannot control the wind of change that blows or the seeds that fall. I can only nurture the growth from them being planted. Right now I know nothing of the what, how or why. I'm just being the gardener of my being. The harvest should be wonderful when it comes.

Jeremy Fisher has been a new favorite since I heard him late last fall at the Great Big Sea concert I attended. I'm been remiss in not sharing him, so since he is a troubadour planting seeds about his journey through life, this is the time.

Jeremy Fisher, "Jolene":


Monday, March 8, 2010

While There is Light, There Is Hope

Hope is the dream of a soul awake
French Proverb

Tomorrow I will return to California. It's hard as this past week has shown me things are changing with my Mom's health and the time is growing shorter. My hope now is for peace for her and my siblings. People have been asking me how I get through and handle what's going on. Simply I look for light and beauty whenever I can find it. For me besides the support of friends and others, that has been in my music, others music and photography. To say yes to the process of life in whatever it brings.

Susanna from Susanna's Sketchbook has a wonderful project called "Winged Messengers". She makes these lovely winged drawings with sayings on them. When someone requests them, she will send them to them. The recipient then takes the messenger and posts it somewhere for a positive effect. Photographs are then sent to Susanna who shares them. It's an incredible project and I felt when I saw this quote recently, my time had come to participate, so next month she will kindly be sending me some. She is an incredible artist and I count myself lucky to have come to know of her through her lovely blog.

So keep looking to the light and the beauty of inspiration...

Afro Celt Sound System, "Lovers of Light":


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Fusion

The true portrait of a woman is a fusion of what she thinks she is, what others think she is, what she really is and what she tries to be.
Dory Schary paraphrased

In the clinic where I work we have a good deal of people who are from the Phillipines. I was talking with one of them about music and my interest in what is known as world music and it's fusion. They gave me the name of a group that I hadn't had time to look up until this trip. So this morning I found them on YouTube and fell in love. The group is called Kadangyan and you can find out more about them here.

Their music inspired this photo. The morning dance of light on a stream that I hiked along. Hope you enjoy the music as much as I did.

Kadangyan:


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Jesse Cook-The Second Time Around



No quotes this time. Just another memory of a great concert. I decided to make the trip to Toronto to see Jesse Cook again, because I was curious about the contrast of what would be a much larger venue then the smaller one I had seen him at in October. Also being Toronto is his hometown, I had a feeling it would be even more lively. Turned out I was right. As much as I enjoyed the October show, this one was even more incredible.

I wasn't taking notes, so I cannot quote all the songs played, but can share some of the experience. It started with Bombay Diner which included a haunting flute played by Chris Church (another last minute learning experience). There were additional percussionists, an accordion player who hadn't been with him in the US due to issues with getting his citizenship and Amanda Martinez who sang with an aching beauty.

Where Jesse certainly has a structure that he uses in sharing experiences with his concert audience, this time you could tell there was more even more warmth and spontaneity. While he certainly 'moved well' in October....you could tell he may have been taking lessons from his wife who is a flamenco dancer. The boy can keep a great rhythm with his body (not something all musicians are good at surprisingly). He was a full participant in the Rumba Dance Party he always stirs the audience into sharing with the band. What was also moving was his genuine humility and delight with sharing his music with his hometown and his family/friends.

Again I took great joy in the camaraderie he shares with his band. There was an generosity, sense of fun and humor. An example of of this was when the audience was cheering Chris Church for his accomplish for learning the flute mentioned early. He ribbed him along the lines of "don't do that, he'll get a swelled head." It was said very tongue in cheek. Oh and did I mention that he took a turn at percussion? He admitted he was addicted to percussion in response to the question why he featured so much in his music. Makes me want to see what he would do with the Japanese drumming group, "Kodo".

He also joked about the success of "Cafe Mocha" in the States. He sees it just as one of his more obscure songs, nothing special. That is when it was being he found out it was going to be played on smooth jazz, he couldn't exactly figure out "how did the damn thing go to number one being it was neither smooth nor jazz". But he was clearly appreciative that it did.

The tenderest moment in the concert was when he shared about his family and former guitar teachers being there. He tried to get them to bring up the house lights so he could have his teacher(s) stand up, but they weren't able to oblige and he had to press forward. Press forward he did and it ended with us all on our feet dancing. You could tell that Toronto carries him in their hearts. Two standing ovations were done with the final one being "Cecilia". It brought us into the intimacy of his music and why he does what he does. I just count myself lucky for being weird enough to love his music (he spoke of his music being weird/off the beaten track and we must therefore be weird to follow him). His work inspires me to keep exploring world fusion music with my harp. And on that note, I cannot wait to see what his next explorations bring.

As I was walking out I overheard someone ask a question that I wished they had voiced during his usual question and answer session. They wanted to know where he found his inspirations and the musicians he works with. Now that would be a conversation worth having....

Thanks Jesse for the break from my Mom's stuff and the renewal....

Here's a look at the making of his current album, "The Rumba Foundation":




Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Winters End

Your time has come,
now hasten little snowflakes,
To vanish quite away;
The spring-tide hours are sounding gentle warnings
Forbidding you to stay.
M.E. Hathaway

I'm back in Michigan. There was a crisis with my mother that ended with her in the hospital. At first they thought the cancer might have gone to her brain, but it turned out to be a issue with her chemotherapy, so she's back home. I'm here till early next week.

It was strange to be back in snow. When I arrived Friday in Detroit there was a snowstorm. As I drove up the freeway I saw several cars spun out. Must be like riding a bike though, I got my snow legs back and made it safely to the center of the state. Today with things with my Mom more settled, I took a hike in back of her senior complex where there is a lengthy bike path. I took the opportunity to grab photos of the familiar scenes of my childhood. The temperatures are warming up, so the folks here scent spring for the first time in the air. They are more then ready. I had to tell them, we've already been experiencing it for the last few weeks in California.

I'm going to Toronto overnight for a Jesse Cook concert on Friday. My way of keeping some balance.

Jesse Cook, "Dance of Spring":

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