Archive for the ‘The Kitchen’ Category

Shabang. The Pantry.

January 23, 2012
Next year i will know exactly which month i should be heavily investing in oats and/or almonds to make almond treats for the whole year ... actually, since i buy everything like that bulk anyway, whenever the mood strikes me, its a moot point. but for those of you who don't, check this out and may it help with perfect alignment of coupons and such. Month-by-month spend-thriftiness

The Adventures of A Hermit: Year 1 Retrospective.

January 6, 2012

We should be just about done with all the ''Best of" and Top 10 Most Spectacular Vomit Moments of 2011  that clog practically every newspaper and magazine in the land. But I wouldn't be a contributing member of blogger-society if I didn't put the Hermist's fondest adventures on record.

I've come into myself this year, owning up to the role of the Hermist, and no longer trying to force the social butterfly bullshit that simply wasn't me.  Once I did that, I found, much to my surprise, a feeling of relief and also an abundance of good things.  Let's look, shall we? 


A new and entertaining friend, Cheffapetta came to visit the wilds of Austin from the Land of the Sophisticated Palate (Denver), so I had to show him a thing or two about gritty-Coke-In-The-Glass-Bottle-With-Yer-Brisket barbecue.  Wood paneled walls, duck decor, plastic plates and a roll of paper towels. You've been schooled.

they wish they had something so divine in Colorado as the Smokehouse.

 This was the year of canning. I canned practically anything I could get my hands on, from boozed-up strawberries to grilled corn to watermelon rinds and lime-slapped kiwis. I actually killed my nice stove in the process and never had so much fun. The highlight of all that sweating and domestic syrup were the get-togethers with my hermitty friends who weren't afraid to step into the kitchen with me. Now, I'd post photos of the gooey leche quemada, the swimming-in-whisky strawberries and the rows of jeweled fruit in jars, but there are other sites that do food porn so much more justice.   
Can it.
Here was our first canning party, with myself in a feverish state, surrounded by my beautiful domestic-lovin' friends. God love ya. I barely remember anything thanks to that penicillin, what a hell of a party!   

Bringing the world together around a pressure cooker...

 Part of my hermit transformation was learning a lot about how to fend for myself.  And part of THAT includes a pressure cooker, which I was afraid of, and now, am only slightly afraid of.  Just a little bit.  Thanks to David Alexander, for the story about his grandmother blowing up her stove top/roof... but that is another story.  *Do take a special note of the Mistress of Ceremony, the lovely Milan, parked directly in the center of all the quick-paced and high-energy action in the kitchen.   She knows who's in charge.

Too much canning can only lead to drunken moments like this... (drinking cold stew)

Here's Russ. The man makes an excellent elderberry wine, which he creates himself of course, along with above-pictured beef stew, and can fully stock his own larder single-handedly.  The man has amazing potential for  Hermit status...   

Where The Wild Things Are.

My role this past year was the designated wielder of the knife and spatula, cooking up outdoor meals for the people crawling through bushes, being chased by zombies, and living the primitive life.  My inner hermit got much joy out of witnessing moments like these.

This wood elf will find you. Track your ass down and find you.

I loved watching the process of Human Pathers evolving into crafty, independent diy-ers who weren't afraid of getting dirty, doing it from scratch and taking care of themselves.   

Girl kicks man's ass soundly.

  Honestly, and I know everyone agrees on this one. There is nothing better than a girl who can kick your ass.  

No, I promise you I am totally normal.

When we hosted the 1st Annual Zombie Apocalypse this past October, it was an awesome experience to watch how zombies can really put a crimp on carefully planned disorder. 

Zombies and the People That Love Them.

Plus we got to witness zombies who barely stumbled, barely moved, barely accessorized. Zombie baby, zombie kid, zombie bride, zombie gung-ho dad.  And one zombie, who was a streak of darkness, running after pathers in the pitch black.

The Fastest Zombie We've Ever Seen.


A Drill. A Vat of Glue. And An Apron.

One of my outward expressions of happiness is to create textile installations.  Its a surreal Dr. Suess meets The Stepford Wives world, with my alter ego, the Kitchen Goddess.  Somehow, working with fabric and lots of laborious applications of string, stick-pins and nails, has become my defining mark.  My college art professors would be so proud. (probably not)   

Noche De Recuedros with my buddy Rick

  Here is the floating altar, year two, that Rick and I set loose in the Woodlawn Lake.  After an intense summer drought, 'setting loose' might not be the right term, as it grazed the murky bottom of the very low casting pond.   The highlight of the year for me was the day I could step out of Vi's hair salon with my hair sprayed so fastidiously into a beehive that it took me almost a week to get it out.  I stuck two shellacked forks in my hair, put on my pink flirtin' gloves and my favorite blue chiffon apron, was handed a never-empty glass of wine and out I went ... the kitchen goddess.

There is nothing more divine than a kitchen goddess that knows her place. In the home.

 Who says art can't be fun?  With the indispensible Rebecca Coffey fronting the kitchen lines, we opened up a alternate reality of frozen housewife smiles and pickles on a stick.  View the exhibit photos here!  
The Kitchen Goddess, April exhibit

Are You There Dog? Its me...

Not a day goes by that I don't have the company of my dogs; constant companions, artistic consultants and snuffler-of-ears.  We fostered 3 dogs this year and all found great new homes, mostly with other pathers.

Fozzy Leo.

It is a great life, living out here on the hermit-stead with these fine beasts.  This final image though, is my favorite.  It has been exactly 2 years now that Milan came home with us on the day my beloved dad-in-law Joe died.  She came broken down and tired.  Since then she's slowly recovered and is now our elderly dragon-growling matron, the mascot of the hermit.  Milan the Beautiful.

Sam brings Milan up from the pond at the quarry to help her make the trip.

Happy New Year to all of you.  May good things happen. Eat good food. Pet your friends and hug your dogs.  Live that life with intention and gusto.
-The Hermist.

Can it, buddy.

September 28, 2011
What is my life really, if not an adventure? I try some things, they work splendidly. Others ... well, not so much.  I like to think that even when I'm seemingly surrounded by rednecks and tobacco-spitters on all sides, I'm only one backroads turn-off from the checkered tablecloths in Welfare, the mossy banks of the Medina or the peach-colored skies that drip over small town favorites Blanco and Twin Sisters...

  It was an adventurous summer, in kind of a bizarre way. I went off and got myself bit, oh yes, BIT, by a brown recluse spider. In my sleep no less. I bitched about it on Facebook for WEEKS.  Actually, for several months, because that is how long it took me to recover.  And in between visits to the doc-in-a-box for the latest round of (largely) ineffective steroids, antibiotics and other bullshit, I cooked and canned my stove into an early death.  That's right.  I've pretty much killed the most important appliance in my kitchen aside from the fridgie.  And we know how I feel about Fridgies....

For the love of the fridgie, thanks Irene Diaz for photo!

Now two out of four burners will not answer when I call their name and I'm checking out online sales and trying to coax another month out of them. No sale. I canned everything in sight this summer.  From delicate apricots steeped in amaretto, pickles, corn relish and plum chutney to strawberries boozed up with Jack Daniels, I learned how to dry pack grains into aluminum bunker-ready cans, faced my illogical fear of the pressure cooker to make spaghetti meat sauce and hosted several canning parties to share the love. 

me, smiling so I don't pass out; Thanks Irene, for photo!

And I love to share.  Food, cooking, my friends, what an awesome thing. Now while the photo above was taken while I was having an amazing allergic reaction to the prescription medication that I was TOTALLY FREAKING ALLERGIC TO, you can't deny there is a lovely hazy glow that is completely un-pharmaceutical in this room.

Real men can. With pressure cookers.

Something about cooking together brings out happiness.

Awwwww. Joe and wife Lupita. Happiest. Canners. EVER.

Maybe its the prospect of fruit that you can eat and need a cab ride home from later.  (well, if I'm canning it, it is)  Maybe its the promise of having yummy food that we made ourselves, ready later when we don't feel like cooking, just one crimp of the bottle opener away from spaghetti nirvana...  Who knows.  I realize now, as we head into October, I may be addicted. I find myself wondering what is seasonal that I could can up.  Thanks to my friends Russ and Jackie, dry canning is one 50# bag of oats, rice or ... lentils away. 

Thanks Jackie for photo!

You haven't lived until you've made quick business out of a year's supply of beans or pasta or hot cocoa powder. Then it won't matter how many zombies there are outside your house. You can make some bean-pasta for dinner, drink your intoxicated brandy pears and forget about all that. 
Shake it Jackie!
Knowing how to do all these things is a good thing.  It means you will do just fine. So, when I'm taking that next backroads exit ... and I see the sign off to the side for a farmer's stand, I'll stop. You can't beat the call of the diy adventure. Its calling for you ... carrrrz its pepper and tomato time!
Oh, and if you're like me, and you have a bread-maker, you can have a slice of 7-grain happiness to go with that.

Sugar Is Sticky: Add Whisky

August 22, 2011
Summer is a time of great things.  Floating in a pool under stars at night, shrimp rolled up with avocado and purple onions from the taco truck, the sound of crickets, the hum of that ceiling fan. Summer is sweat, fruit and cicadas. While cooler weather is a blissful relief after 3+ months of scorching South-Texas style heat; I still revel in the pink skies of 9 pm and the heat of the fruits I pick from the hill country orchards, acidic peach fuzz shalling my hands. Preserve it. Soon enough I'll be pulling on yoga pants and turning off the ceiling fan in favor of snuggle time with my microfleece comforter.  So I'll share with you one of my favorite summer recipes, which is so simple, it should really be either mandatory, or compulsory, or on a pre-requisite bucket list for Summer Shit To Do.  Jack Daniels Strawberry Jam. A quart of really good strawberries, cut up into pieces.  These go into a saucepan, and you'll bring them, along with a good friend of a cup of sugar, to a boil.  I'd spend about 10 - 15 minutes with these guys.  The longer they mascerate and break down, the deeper the flavor and the thicker the jam.  Also, get yourself a ripe lemon, and add the juice from it about halfway through.  This helps for the short-term preserving. Since this is fridge-jam, you won't be setting it on your shelf until February. You'll be spooning it over your banana bread tomorrow morning, licking it off the ice cream spoon tonight, and generally whoring it up with this bit of awesomeness.  Once the jam is thickened, I add in the Jack Daniels. You add what you like, but JD has an especially nice kick of just the right sassiness for ripe strawberries.  Rum and mint and banana are all good friends, and JD seems to have its own special relationship with strawberries.  I add about 2 shots at this point ... sometimes I close my eyes when I pour.  From here, its done, really. Stir it up.  Pour it in your canning jars. Let it cool on the counter top that night and stick it in the fridgie after that.  Eat it within the month (like it'd stay around any longer??) and you've just created/lived/breathed in a vital summer memory.   **Author note:  Unlike many happy-moment-of-domesticity posts I've been seeing lately, this one isn't photographed in the sunny alcove of a Martha Stewart kitchen. Nope. I did this one at night, when the heat was cooler, when the JD-pourin' was right. By the company of the cicadas.