Cucumber gazpacho, garnished with mandolined pink radish. Adapted (slightly) from César cookbook.

8 cups English cukes, peeled, seeded & coarsely chopped
1-1/4 cup good olive oil
1 cup ice water
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 T. Meyer lemon juice
2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
optional: cayenne to taste

Blender half of it at a time, tasting & adjusting proportions. Then chill.

Other garnish possibilities: drizzle of olive oil, drizzle of pesto diluted with olive oil, fresh basil leaves, fresh mint leaves, thin ribbons of nasturtium, bits of chive flower, &c. &c. The beauty of this soup is that it’s so easy to make, so easy to dress up, & unusual enough to charm your dinner guests. Talk about chill.

Labels: ,



Once upon a time, I was invited to a posh art colony, where I learned many things about my artmaking process, about the New York art scene, & about oatmeal. The process stuff was very important (& still is), & the art scene stuff was informative, but the oatmeal was a fucking revelation.

I thought that I didn’t like oatmeal. It was always too gooey & gloppy & reminded me too much of, I dunno… like, barf. Or something. To think that I nearly missed this oatmeal just because I was in the habit of sleeping through the breakfast service! The dinners were always very good though, so one fine morning I made a point of waking up in time to check out breakfast.

I don’t remember what else there was, but the oatmeal was unlike any I had ever seen before. Each individual oat was fluffy & plump & discrete from every other oat. They clumped together like grains of rice or couscous instead of being glued together in a viscous gummy mush. Intrigued, I plopped a small spoonful in my bowl, melted some butter on top, & took a cautious mouthful. As you must guess by now: angels sang, synapses fired, I was a born-again oatmeal-eatin person.

Somehow I neglected to ask for the recipe. Having zero experience cooking oatmeal, I probably thought: how hard could it be? & to tell the truth, after much experimentation at home, I found that it really was as easy & simple as it should be.

Here is Meditation Oatmeal for one (or for two, in parentheses):

In a small pot with a lid, boil 1 (1-3/4) cup water with a pinch of salt.

When the water is boiling, turn off the flame & quickly pour in 1/2 (1) cup of rolled oats, stir once only if necessary to get all the oats wet, & put the lid on. Raisins or currants or other additions are optional; add them to the oats before you pour everything in. You don’t want to lose a lot of heat or steam, & you don’t want to break the oat flakes.

Leave the heat off & the lid on. Go meditate for 30 minutes.

Come back & you have your oatmeal! Serve with butter, brown sugar or maple syrup, whatever floats your boat. You can even pretend you’re at an exclooosive art colony!

Ahem. Is there something wrong with the weather that I must blog about oatmeal in May? I have been so, so cold. Imagine my surprise, then, when I took $60 to the farmers’ market yesterday & came home with this:

Here we have
ze famous Riverdog pastured eggs
ze famous Swanton strawberries
a yellow onion
purple asparagus
assortment of the first summer squashes
little carrots & big carrots
ze lovely lettuces from Blue Heron
2 kinds of fingerlings (French & Russian, I think)
broccoli raab
spring onions & fresh garlic
velvety, lovely fava beans
$5.70 (my no-fuss method of keeping track of how much I spend at the farmers’ market: I count in 20s & keep the change in my pocket)

When I saw the cherries, I thought I was gonna fall over in sheer surprise. When I saw the summer squash, I lost my mind. When I saw the peaches, my freezing little heart just melted.

Go forth & shop! The good stuff is all out there right now.

Labels: , ,


I found Chinese Food Map through Jennifer 8 Lee’s blog & went clicking over there in a hurry. I feel so totally validated that none of the states I’ve visited for the Chinese Restaurant Project have any little suns on them, except for Georgia’s Atlanta cluster—& that doesn’t count, because I really went there for my cousin’s wedding.

Labels: ,


Five Bay Area girls went for a stroll through our beloved redwoods. We grew up in, respectively, El Cerrito, Berkeley, San Leandro, San Francisco, & Mill Valley (heh). As we were remarking on the rarity of being in such extremely local company, Mrs. Art Stove told us how she recently confronted some out-of-towner who had picked a California poppy from a neighbors’ front yard. “I couldn’t believe she picked a California poppy! & then she was twirling it around, & every time she twirled it, it was like she was twisting a dagger in my heart!” Mrs. Art Stove confronted the woman, informed her of the illegality of her actions, & asked her to Please Stop Twirling That Poppy!

Listening to this story, my other friends all nodded with complete sympathy & understanding, until I timidly ventured, “wait… is that really illegal? How come I’ve never heard that?” Four pairs of shocked native Californian eyes turned upon me. What?! You didn’t know it’s illegal!?

Things like this always confirm one of my more insidious suspicions: that there are certain important bits of information that everyone knows except me, & nobody tells me because they assume I must already know. Like the time (years ago, but the trauma remains fresh) I was wandering around Oakland Chinatown with Chinese Scholar & the Witch, wondering where we should eat, & they said, well we could always go to Vi’s, & I said “What’s Vi’s?” whereupon they both looked at me as if I’d said I didn’t know you could get to San Francisco by crossing the Bay Bridge. They felt so sorry for me that they practically carried me straight into Vi’s & of course I loved it, but then too soon after that it closed & I never got to eat there again. Alas!

Anyway, back to the poppies: seeing how mortified I was, & not wanting to make me feel worse, my friends quickly recovered from their shock & patiently informed me that there is a huge fine if you’re caught picking poppies, because it’s the state flower & even though it’s not endangered now, it used to be, & so on & so forth. I said, “but even from your own garden? I mean, I would never pick a wild one, it just wouldn’t occur to me…” See! they said, this just confirms that you actually know you’re not supposed to, you have the correct instinct & you’ve just forgotten the details!

Still bewildered, I continued, “I’ve picked a poppy that I grew in my own yard…” to which Mrs. Art Stove replied, “but you probably cooed over it & admired it & respected it & put it in water & made a painting of it, you didn’t Just Twirl It Around!”

So it went, & eventually we talked of other things. But I remained quite disturbed, not to mention skeptical about not being allowed to pick a specific flower that wouldn’t have existed if I didn’t plant it in my own garden. As you might expect, I have now done a little googling, & am almost just as bewildered to find that my very smart pals have been had by a myth! The law actually prohibits cutting any plant from a highway, but says nothing about California poppies specifically, let alone ones growing in your own yard.

See, I thought Mrs. Terwilliger would have drummed it into my head if I wasn’t allowed to pick poppies! By the way, speaking of Mrs. T & childhood environmental education, am I the only person who still snips those plastic rings from soda cans? It’s actually a very satisfying thing to do on many levels, not just environmentally: the plastic is a pleasurable consistency for cutting, there are just the right number & variety of holes to make the job interesting but also very quick (we’re talking seconds), & I always make a little game (not a very challenging one, but I get my thrills where I can) of making the fewest cuts necessary while ending up with a whole piece, no loose bits.

I’m still kinda anxious about the fact that I had never even heard of this poppy myth before. What if it had turned out to be true? Once at a pie-baking party, someone said, “I didn’t know you could keep butter in the freezer.” I was astonished. I never in a zillion years would have thought I should go around telling people they can put their butter in the freezer. I started wondering what kinds of things I might not know that she would consider obvious—so obvious that she wouldn’t realize she had to tell me. Somehow I have to let go of this way of thinking before it drives me completely nuts.

Labels: ,