Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Perfect Dinner!

Hi, Rando fans--

(as my dear god daughter Blue says on her mic breaks during the shows she's recorded so far).

Just blowing a little dust off the blog and bragging about a perfect dinner we ate tonight. It was loosely Southern European, but basically 'Murican Liberal cuisine. But it was easy to make and since we like to share the doings of the kitchen staff from High Atop The Potter Building, I thought I'd offer a bit of detail.

I made Osama's Lamb (explanation follows), a Greek salad from Ken's description of such things in Greece, and a little pot of pasta pesto using some leftover pesto I'd frozen in August before we went away. We drank some Pinot Noir from Patagonia which was pretty OK, too.

First: Osama's Lamb

Yeah. That Osama. Here's the backstory. The Potter Building is not far from New York City, and we were pretty seriously freaked by 9/11--not that everyone else wasn't too, but I still maintain that NYC metro folks have a slightly different relationship to it than do other Americans. Ken and I fought back by cooking food and making cocktails, not too surprisingly. And one night, I made a marinade (almost more of a spice rub) for broiled or grilled lamb chops that we've always referred to since as Osama's Lamb. Why? Because Osama couldn't have any. Because we hoped the man behind killing a sweet girl who'd sung in a youth choir my husband had directed was in a cold, damp cave, eating dirt. Because good lefties that we are--I mean, Jeez, there are limits, and we were tired of trying to understand. The rule was that you couldn't leave any lamb on the platter because somehow, Osama would get it. I know. That's psycho, a bit. But it was strange times. Behold a recipe conceived in grief that I make all the time now that the sorrow has lifted.

Osama's Lamb

Lamb chops--whatever kind you like (we go for the teeny ones). This is designed for six or eight of those.
A ziplock bag
A huge shake or two of cumin
A smaller shake of coriander
Juice of one lemon
A good splash of balsamic vinegar
Enough olive oil to do a sort-of salad dressing looking thing
A couple of tablespoons of kosher salt
Many grinds of black pepper
Three or four cloves of garlic, pressed

Put everything except the lamb in the ziplock bag, close it, and squish it around with your hands. Add the lamb. Marinate for as much time as you have. An hour is good. Two or three is better. No longer than that. Broil or grill to medium rare.

The Greek Salad that Ken describes is easy, too: just chunk up some decent tomatoes. We've still got them locally in NY, but we're counting the days. Chunk up likewise some green peppers, and some kirby cukes. Crumble over the top the best feta you can find. Toss with good olive oil and vinegar (I'm a balsamic girl, although I think it not trad), and a few grinds of pepper. You may need a pinch of salt, depending on how much cheese you use and how salty it is. Sprinkle with some chopped thyme and oregano (or a little dried that you've rubbed between your hands). Throw in a few black olives if you have them, but this works without. Toss. Ken claims salad in Greece does not contain lettuce. Eat mass quantities.

As for the pesto? Heck--you know how to make that.


Monday, October 6, 2008

Bill Clinton! KD Lang!!

Call me Cinderella.

My sister rang me up on the phone this morn, and said she had a couple of tickets to an Obama benefit at the gorgeous loft home of Steven and Judy Gluckstern 'way downtown in NYC .  Joe Biden was supposed to speak but he couldn't 'cause his wife's mom had just died.

...but rumor had it Bill Clinton was going to fill in.  

Wow, said I.  And that's when my sis gave me the tickets 'cause she couldn't get to the party herself.

Have I mentioned KD Lang yet?  Guess so.  She was scheduled to sing, and sing she did.  And Alice Waters of Chez Panisse did the cocktail snacks.  How about a giant silver tureen of mac and cheese, topped with about a half a foot of lobster meat?  People walked about smiling and eating it out of outsized martini glasses.  Talk about a swanky neighborhood near you!  Never ever could I match the company, the food, or the lovely, just-oaky-enough chardonnay.  

So Ken and I went to the party, as I think you've gathered by now.  And so did Bill Clinton.

I hardly know where to start.  

Maybe I should tell you first about KD Lang.  She sang only three songs, but HOLY COW.  I was just bedazzled.  Her keyboard player sat at the gorgous Victorian grand piano in the loft and she wandered barefoot through the delighted crowd.  As she launched into a stellar cover of  "Hallelujah", she was just a few feet from me.  I was melted into a little square of blonde hair on the floor, but my husband snapped a couple of cell phone shots.  

And BILL!!

OK, they say that it's like being in the room with Elvis, and that's basically right.  And yeah, I'm still pissed at him for not putting the full force of his talent behind Obama sooner, but as I stood listening to him clarify the economic crisis in terms that my cat could understand but that were at the same time well-chosen and really profound, suddenly, I didn't feel like the world was out of control anymore.  I felt like I could have a role in getting things back on track--and that we'd all survive, and that I live in a great country.  I haven't felt like that in a long time... KD sang just a few minutes later, "Hallelujah".

Speaking of cats, as Clinton stood at the base of a very modern and imposing staircase, the lovely Himalayan kitty who was lucky enough to live in that loft came downstairs and sat a few stairs above him, checking out his speech.  Clinton proceeded to make the best case for Obama I have ever heard: that we hire presidents to LEAD and that Obama's got the stuff 'cause of his smarts and judgement.  Sounds basic, but there you have it. And he's right.  The kitty listened as carefully as the assembled crowd.  But when KD Lang took over the mike, Kitty joined her in song.  It was a moment.

I guess there are folks to whom this wouldn't be a big deal.  But we'll be making some phone calls to battleground states from high atop the Potter building...

...and we'll celebrate having convinced some more folks to vote the right way this coming Friday at 4 Eastern.  I promise to play some KD Lang.  

Yes we CAN! 

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Pete Seeger, Sarah Palin...and my show tomorrow

It's been a while since I wrote anything here.  Too long, in fact.

Glad I have a couple of minutes late tonight.  We just watched the Vice Presidential debates.  I'm pleased that the first few reactions I saw seemed to be on Biden's side.  Sarah Palin is an ugly addiction; the media can't get enough of her.  First there was the Coulter-esque convention speech, then the trainwreck of Paris Hilton proportions on the interview shows...and now this Adderall-dripping robotic lunacy of a debate with Joe Biden being way too polite for my tastes.   I really wanted the courtroom scene from To Kill A Mockingbird with Mayella Ewell glaring through her overgrown bangs at Atticus: "a chiffarobe?"  But I realize that would have been preaching to the choir.  Plus folks would have thought Biden was being condescending.  

Oh, well.  

In more pleasant news, I got my hands on a copy of Pete Seeger's At 89, and I'm playing some of it tomorrow.  Pete's a longtime hero of mine.  He let me play onstage with him when I was 17, at an appearance he made at the Hackley School in Tarrytown, NY.  I had written an awful song about ecology called "Garbage" and I sang it.  He handed me his big 12-string guitar to play and backed me up on banjo.  It's still a major high point of my life.  Only college graduations and my wedding to Ken rank higher for me.  

Don't know if I can play the mortality songs (sunny as any Seeger tunes, and just heart-rending) without totally melting into a puddle and being unable to work the mixing board, but I promise you'll hear a bunch of the record.  What's the most remarkable about it, I think, is that it's just a Pete Seeger album.   I remember buying a copy of Dangerous Songs back in the 60's.  The mix of serious and light was the same.  Seeger's voice is a bit shaky, but his guitar and banjo work are everything you'd expect them to be and more.  

Did I mention that the album was released on my birthday, the 30th of September?  It was.  Call me selfish, but I like that.  I got some nice presents this year, but this unexpected one might have been the best.

Don't know what the drink tomorrow will be, but I'm considering the Astoria, a martini-strength concoction with an interesting history.  Tune in!!