Saturday, November 30, 2013

Email from my daughter

I got this the other day and thought I'd pass it along. I'm so proud of  all my kids, but this is pretty special. When one of your children do this, you know you've done something right.

Sounds delicious!  If the pie turned out well, perhaps I can convince 
you to make it for Christmas?

This year, I'm grateful for Whole Foods.  We've all been sick so much, 
and with the exception of Fiona, we're all still a little sick, so it's 
quite a load off not to be cooking this year.  And we ordered both 
pumpkin and pecan pies.  A pecan pie with NO CORN!!!

One thing I'm doing new this year is submitting a letter to Your Holiday 
Mom. They publish one letter, with audio 
and picture, every day from Thanksgiving through New Years.  They're for 
the LGBTQ kids who are rejected by their families during the holiday 
season.  Did you know that the AVERAGE age of homeless LGBTQ youth is 
14???  That means there are 12 year olds who are living on the street 
because their parents couldn't accept who they are.  Heartbreaking.

I hope you guys have a delicious meal and a great day.  Give David and 
Helen my love.



Oh, and here's the letter I wrote for Your Holiday Mom:

My dear one,

My name is Kate, and I'm a mom of 3.  I knit, snark on the internet, 
read and watch sci-fi, cook, and fail to clean my house like a Proper 
Mother(tm) should.  My husband and I and our middle child, who is 
genderqueer, are active in sci-fi fandom in our area.  My youngest, who 
is only 3, reflects our family culture pretty well. She loves Doctor 
Who, knows all the permutations of gender-neutral personal pronouns, and 
has expensive taste in cheese.

I'm writing to tell you I love you.  (Yeah, I love YOU.  You, 
specifically.)  And to tell you that the spirit of warmth, light, 
rebirth, and celebration, all belong to you.  I hope this letter finds 
you well, but if it doesn't, please know I'm holding you in the light 
all through these dark nights of the season.

This season can be a hard one to feel different, when we see families 
around us all drawing close, and honoring their oneness and their 
traditions that bind them.  I do know some LGBTQ adults who still feel 
apart from their families, and they've made their own traditions, with 
friends-who-are-family.  We usually have a number of them at our house 
for Thanksgiving, for what is usually called an Orphan's Thanksgiving, 
meaning, a bunch of people who don't have their own big family 
gathering.  But we do consider each other a big family, and one of my 
foster kids is an actual orphan, so we prefer to call it Geeksgiving.  
Everyone brings something, I cook for days, and we have a houseful of 
warmth, among people we love, and are so grateful for all the love that 
we've welcomed into our lives with our created family.  I'm going to set 
a place for you, because we love you, and we welcome you.

I'll be holding you in my heart on December 2, when the Christmas Season 
begins in our home.  See, December 1 is the birthday of one of our 
family, and one holiday at a time, thankyouverymuch!  So on Dec. 2, when 
we crank up the carols, and if the cleaning got done after Thanksgiving, 
we start decorating.  When I put up lights, I'll be thinking of you, and 
holding your unique and wonderful soul in the light.  When we assemble 
the plastic tree, I'll be grateful that you're the real you, not a 
pretense of you.  When I sing Joy To The World, horribly off-key, I'll 
be wishing Joy straight to your heart.

When you hear your favorite carol, imagine it off-key, in a loud alto. 
  That's me, singing to you about the joy and love and hope of the 
holidays.  When you need a hug, close your eyes.  I'm probably thinking 
of you right then, and sending you a hug from my soul to yours.

I want you to do something for you - for me - this season.  Do one thing 
you love.  Give yourself an afternoon to just appreciate who you are, 
who you have been, and who you will be.  Or go get a manicure.  Or that 
hat you've been wanting.  Ride a carousel.  Sing at the top of your 
lungs, do a cartwheel, or immerse yourself in music that makes you feel 
good about yourself.

I love you,

Mama Kate

Friday, November 29, 2013

A Modest Dinner

With the likelihood of not being here in 70,000 years when the next confluence of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving occurs, my buddy and I had a suitable dinner. We both agreed that turkey was not inspiring either of us, and we both like duck, so with that in mind we prepared. Last week I got two ducks, frozen. After thawing for 4 days in the fridge I put them in a brine on Tuesday. Wednesday I delivered them to David for smoking, then yesterday they were baked and served.

They turned out so good I thought I'd share the recipe. 

First, the brine:
I used a 5 gallon stainless steel pot, probably 4 gallons of water, to which I added:
1.5 cups kosher salt
several cloves of mashed garlic
soy sauce, maybe .5 cup
fresh sage, oregano, rosemary and thyme, chopped 
.5 cup red wine vinegar
about 2 tablespoons of Tom Ka Gai soup paste my daughter gave me (adds a Thai spin)

The ducks sat in it for 24 hours, sitting on my cold back porch. (note: a buddy of mine did a similar thing last year near here, he put the container in his back yard overnight and made a black bear very happy)

I cut some alder branches for the smoking wood, David smoked them for 16 hours at around 120f. 

When finished smoking, they went into a 475f oven for 20 minutes, then sat out to rest. 

Accompanying the ducks at dinner were latkes, local potatoes shredded with the usual egg and flour, also as a nod to the Southwest, some of the hatch chilis I had a run in with earlier in the year, fried in a cast iron skillet. Green beans, steamed then sauteed with various herbs and duck fat, a sourdough Challah with poppy seed crust, cranberry with port wine, and it was washed down with a nice Malbec. 

Full though we were, we were obligated to have a piece of my squash and ginger pie:

We talked about our kids and times past, the time we made them go camping on thanksgiving and cooked a turkey in a dutch oven, and the 40 years we've known each other. We missed the kids, but, as David reflected, "at least we didn't have to make them a separate pie". 


Monday, November 25, 2013

Sunday trip to the river

I drove a half hour to the Big Hole river yesterday, hadn't been in a couple weeks. No thoughts of fishing, breaking ice out of my fly rod guides was unappealing. I just wanted to see if winter had started to settle in to the river.

Ice is forming along the shore, in a couple weeks it probably will be across the river. The picture does not show it well, but there is drift ice floating in the open water. 

On the way back along a frontage road a small herd of antelope were grazing the brown range grass.

Not much snow yet, but it'll come, rest assured. 

Tomorrow I start preparations for the combination Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, after all the next time the two coincide will be in 80,000 years, and I might not be around. My buddy the cook down the street and I are having it together, first time in a couple years, it used to be an annual event. This year we're doing duck, I'm going to start brining two of them tomorrow, on Wednesday I'll deliver them to him for smoking, then Thursday we'll probably try pressing one of them for a Chinese style, the other will be slow baked.

Enjoy your holiday. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran's Day 2013

This particular veteran is in Iraq in the first photo, Afghanistan in the other two on another deployment. Between deployments he was stationed for awhile in Alaska. He sent me an email telling about a training mission where they loaded his company on a jet in full gear, flew for 12 hours, then jumped at 1,000 ft AGL. As  he was floating down under his parachute he saw jungle, rice paddies and farmers in black pajama's. He said his first thought was "Am I having one of dad's flashbacks??". They hadn't told them their destination, he jumped into Thailand on a training mission. 

He's now at university, and his family love and appreciate him very much.