Monday, July 18, 2011

Say it, Baby, Say it!


I think there should be a drug for people who can't say no. Maybe something that you can't get OTC and that someone with a doctorate must prescribe you. Or better yet, they should just have it as an extra smoothie shot at those colorful juice bar places where you can get boosts of calcium, protein, wheatgrass, and confidence.

Yeah. That sounds easier.

I'm one of those people. And I've gotten myself into another sticky situation with the best of intentions. Didn't think about downtime and now I'm kind of stuck.

I need to start practicing, otherwise it's just going to be like this forever.

So let's do some "No-ga".

Sit crosslegged on the floor. Slowly raise your arms above your head and float them down into a comfortable cross, and chant with me;


Doesn't it feel good already? Channelling the inner toddler for a bit?


Now just breathe. Isn't it nice to have time to breathe because you said no?

Just as you have to learn to enjoy your failures as well as your successes, you have to be mindful of your limitations as well as your potential. Does that sound pessimistic in this blog of optimism? I don't think so. Perhaps just realistic. My birthday is coming up on Saturday, and I'm officially verging on the late twenties group of years. Is cynicism setting in early? I think not. I just want to make sure I have enough time to be happy and optimistic!

But until then, I'll just have to practice this no-ga everytime I feel too scattered. My boyfriend said to me this morning at 5:09 AM when I left the house "You're spread so thin. No butter left for me." Awwwwww. Just not enough hours in the day to keep everybody happy. Maybe someday.


Feels pretty good. All you high powered mid to late twenties and above women should try it sometime.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Portrait of the Divine in Chocolate

Feliz Dia de San Valentin!

My mother, sister, and I have a tradition where every year on this day we wish each other a Happy VD. Call us sophomoric, but I still think it's funny.

It's a grey day in Sunny Santa Rosa and I sit at the Flying Goat Coffee Shop off of Railroad Square. It's the loveliest pastel puse colored coffee shop that ever there was, and their hot chocolate truly is divine. And it's just enough! Drinking it took me back to another place in another life where my friend Tara and I would go to the nameless bistro on Pacific Avenue whenever we were down and sushi was just too expensive. We would sit there, drinking hot chocolate, surrounding ourselves with sparkly tablecloths, nice lighting, and dreams of other places. I eventually went to work at that place, learned of its name, and being on that side of the counter totally ruined the international dream for me, but tasting this chocolate brings me back to those evenings, finding joy and satisfaction at the bottom of a girly glass mug.

These chocolates are even better because they're served in a sturdy, androgynous white cafe mug with a teensy little spoon and a saucer to match. Also, there's no need for whipped cream, because the milk is foamed and incorporated seamlessly into the crema so you're left with a beautiful cappucino-esque finish on the top. And the talented baristas swirl the two colors together. The effect is almost enough to move you to not drink it, just because it's so beautiful, but the smell will compel you onward. Aztec Mochas at Flying Goat Coffee get the Boundless Optimism Chapter of the Food Cult's approval.

I wish I had the foresight to take a picture of this beautiful creation before I drank it all, but I couldn't hold back, so this is just coffee. But the coffee is pretty good too.

My friend Jay is a particular fan of Mochas and crepes as well. He's the only person I know who can make a great mocha at home, and it's mostly the hot chocolate he uses. It's ibarra, hand shaved, and lovingly prepared. Each christmas he sends out a package of Jay's Chocolate complete with instructions: "Pour the contents into a mug, add milk, and microwave for a minute, just like the Aztecs did".

I should go and wish Jay a happy VD too. He might even think it's funny.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Back to School


Today was my first day of school at the Santa Rosa Junior College. Dakota said to me this morning as I was walking out "Have fun, and don't be a "lickspittle".

That was the word of the day yesterday. It's about the same meaning as a kiss-ass. Walking into class I definitely felt like a total lickspittle. In the student handbook it said that you were expected to wear a chef's uniform to every class, and could be kicked out if you weren't properly dressed. I guess that statement should have a proviso that at SRJC, every class doesn't actually mean what it means in the rest of the world. To my embarrassment, I was the only one in uniform. That's what you get for trying to make a good start. Oh well. Truth is I hate uniforms anyway, so at least I don't have to wear one next week!

It's weird being a "nontraditional" student, but fun to be back in the library!

Sanitation and Safety has taught me that you should never thaw anything at room temperature. Actually, it's pretty good advice. Thanks, Chef! I bet she loves teaching this class as much as the rest of us love taking it.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Boundlessly Resolute

Happy New Year! It's 2011. Isn't that exciting?

This year brings a lot of hope I feel. Everyone I've been talking to is ready to say ADIOS and GOOD RIDDANCE to 2010. Mind you, 2010 was a pretty good year for me in a lot of ways. I found my love, my job, my house, my kitty, new friends, but there were some crappy elements too. My friend Tamara commented on New Years Eve that this was the first time in a while where she didn't feel the need to cleanse in the New Year. I felt that as well, and it was a nice feeling! No massive overhaul required, just an open outlook on the time to come.

Resolutions have never been my strong point. Quitting smoking, exercising every day, not buying cheap plastic crap from China, I strive to do all these things but have never been terribly satisfied with the results. So this year I just made a list, and what I get to is great, it'll make life better, and for those things I don't get to, they're just still on the list. I'm just trying to be a better person. My name is Charlotte.

Incidentally, blogging once a week is on that list.

My friend Elise came to visit from New York State over New Years and just left this morning. I didn't want her to go. We always have way too much fun and spend way too much money, but at least we're in Bodega and not Brooklyn. It's not as easy to spend hundreds of dollars in a day out in the sticks. Elise is a very talented aesthetician and she gave me a guerilla facial on my couch at my house, using stuff she found around the house. I was terribly impressed, and my face feels awesome. Turns out you don't need to spend tons at a spa for a good facial, you just need a very talented and improvisational aesthetician friend to come hang out with you for a few days.

Anyway, she made a masque and it was lovely. Here is the recipe.

Elise's Guerilla Masque

2 Tablespoons oatmeal
1 tablespoon yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
1 drop tea tree oi

Combine all ingredients.

Wash and dry your face.

Gently massage masque onto your face and leave for a few minutes.

Wipe off masque with a damp washcloth.


It's awesome! I guess yogurt and sugar are natural exfoliants, oatmeal soothes, and tea tree oil disinfects. And you can EAT the stuff, if you really wanted to. Because of Elise, taking better care of my skin is also on the list.

My friend Whitney recently posted her most recent film, which is viewable on Youtube!

She's a great inspiration and is always working on a new project. I can't wait for the next one. Another thing on my list is to be like Whitney, and never let the everyday get in the way of making art.

So Happy New Year to all. May your resolutions be attained, and may you be boundlessly optimistic.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

This is How We Spend Time In Bodega

The time is now 4:04:59 PM. Donny and Dakota are sitting in the shade of the surf shop patio playing chess. The tourists walk by gazing into a world that they will rarely, if ever, take part in. Perhaps Sarah can interest them in a Northern Lights sweater.

This is how we spend time in Bodega.

If the time were 10:04:59 AM, we would be sitting on the bench drinking coffee and staring at the crossword puzzle. The tourists would walk by, searching for the church or the schoolhouse, both of which were in the 60s Hitchcock classic "The Birds". Last week one fellow asked if everyone did crosswords in Bodega. I answered, "In short, yes. That or Sudoku."

This is how we spend time in Bodega.

We're drinking Beck's and still sitting under the plum tree that's dropping fruit on the chess board. Dakota would like to mention that the board is sticky. Donny tells us a joke from the Gaysford Fraits Encyclopedia of Humor.

A man dies and his wife calls up the newspaper to see about an obituary. She asks the reporter what the minimum word count is to print one. The reporter says five. She says okay.

The next day, the obituary is in the paper. It reads:

"Bill died. Cadillac for sale."

This is how we spend time in Bodega.

There's a familiar looking dog in an unfamiliar truck. I ask Dakota if Peter got a new truck. Turns out it's Natalie's truck that Peter is using because his blue one is dead and she's in Laguna Beach anyway. Blue the dog...who Donny would like to mention just killed a buck, and that he and Louisa almost adopted Blue, but Blue almost killed Louisa ANWAYS Blue doesn't look as good in Natalie's truck, but I suppose it'll do for now.

This is Peter and me. He's a smart one. We took another picture but it was backlit, and he had the bright idea to turn around. Like I said, he's a smart one.

This is how we spend time in Bodega.

When the Becks is gone, we'll probably go over to the Casino for Pizza Night, as it is Wednesday. Pizza Steve used to have a pizza shop in Bodega Bay, but now he makes pizza on Wednesdays only. It's quite delicious, and different every week. People are always asking about the Casino, what the deal is, where the blackjack is. It's a bar and it's called The Casino. There's no blackjack, but oftentimes there are a couple of sharks who'll take some money off you in a pool game. The Casino is a great place. There's a six foot Hamm's bear next to the flatscreen in the Dinning Room (sic). And they take wooden nickels.

This is how we spend time in Bodega.

I work at the coffeeshop in Bodega, across the street from the Casino. We make a mean smoked salmon bagel and a delicious cold-brewed iced coffee, as well as many other tasty things. Dakota comes in every day for the Dakota Special, as I call it.

The Dakota Special

(makes one)

You will need:

a doubleshot of espresso
8 ounces of cold brewed coffee
3 packets of raw sugar

Pour the hot doubleshot in a glass and add the raw sugar. Stir til dissolved.

Add half the coffee to cool the sweet espresso.

Add ice.

Add the rest of the coffee.

Add the soymilk.

And presto! The Dakota Special. It's a little sweet for me, but the folks at the Surf Shop seem to like it too.

The time is now 4:33:46 PM. Dakota won the game against Donny and they have commenced again on another game. Two beers left in the sixpack. Pizza's at six. Thanks for reading. Mention this post at Brew in Bodega on a Wednesday or a Sunday (that is, if Charlotte is working) and get a discounted Dakota special.

This is how we spend time in Bodega.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Real Women Eat Quiche

I can see why quiches get such a bad rap. My first encounters with quiches were those dreadful little frozen tidbits popular at so many cocktail and dinner parties. Bland but for the salt, often lukewarm in the center, and with highly questionable ingredients. I mean, how exactly does one get the effect of a flaky rubber crust? Another scientific achievement from the ages of better living through chemistry.

On the subject of the sixties, Julia Child writes of the success of the quiche and opines on its subsequent depopularization in her all-encompassing tome “The Way to Cook”. “The quiche – pronounced keesh - that cheesy, open faced, custard pie much in vogue starting in the mid 1960s, became so ubiquitous and often so badly made, that its popularity waned” (pg 384).

How like the Americans to seize a good European idea, make it their own, and drive it into the ground. The origins of quiche go back several hundred years to the medieval German kingdom of Lothringen, which later became "Lorraine", one of the 26 regions of modern France. The word itself comes from the German word “kuchen” for “cake”.

The quiche came to the centerfold of American popular media again in the 1980s in the form of a satirical work called “Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche”, and gave us the term “quiche eater – a man who is effeminate or lacks masculine virtues” ( The term lives on in computer programming circles as a person who deals only with the academic and theoretical aspects in life, and is unwilling to “get their hands dirty”. Hmm. Perhaps those who used the term have never had a quiche in its true and glorified form. After all, it’s essentially an omelet in a pie crust. What could be more masculine than an omelet, and what less American than a pie? What’s not manly about eggs, butter, cheese, and flour?

If anything, a stereotypical woman would be unlikely to eat quiche simply due to the overwhelming caloric allowance necessary to partake in a slice. However, only a stereotypical woman so completely overwhelmed with cholesterol, waistlines, and fake sugar would be so inclined to not occasionally indulge in something so delicious. How can you go wrong with eggs, cream, bacon, and cheese? SERIOUSLY! A little goes a long way, anyway.

The classic Quiche Lorraine contains only eggs, cream, bacon, and a smattering of spices. Some dairy enthusiasts (including this one) see fit to add cheese as well. However, once you’ve got the egg custard and pie crust down, the possibilities are endless. How about a Quiche Florentine, with tomatoes, spinach, and feta cheese? Or one with chard and shallots? The only conditions seem to be that the ingredients be briefly cooked beforehand, as the baking serves to only solidify the egg custard and brown the top.

Tonight I’m making the Cheese and Bacon Quiche from “The Way to Cook”. If I were making it for anyone other than my father, and were this any occasion other than his birthday, I would probably skip the bacon and add a sautéed leafy green (I guess I am one of those stereotypical chicks after all), but I think a little bacon every now and then is good for the soul anyway. Just ask any vegetarian. Ha ha ha….

Cheese and Bacon Quiche

From Julia Child’s “The Way to Cook” (pg 385)

(This recipe presupposes a pre-baked pie shell. I made one, but the frozen ones should do just fine too.)

For a 9-inch quiche, serving six.

6 crisp strips of cooked bacon
One 9-inch prebaked shell
½ cup coarsely grated Swiss cheese
Salt Pepper, and Nutmeg
The Custard: 3 large eggs blended with enough cream (or milk) to make 1 ½ cups.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Break up the pieces of bacon and strew them in the bottom of the shell. Sprinkle on all but a spoonful of the cheese.

Season the custard with the spices and pour it to within 1/8 inch of the rim; then sprinkle on the rest of the cheese.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until puffed and browned.

My good friend MLE has been on a quiche making kick for the last few weeks, and unless you have a hoard of angry friends or at least cocktail party guests at your beck and call, that can be a lot of quiche to eat! You can freeze quiche beautifully if you cut it into individual pieces and wrap them well. To use, just defrost them and crisp them in a warm oven (maybe 350 or so) for 10-12 minutes.

So here’s my quiche! It turned out quite deliciously. Unfortunately, someone helped themselves to a big bite of it when I wasn’t looking.

Fucking quiche eaters.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


There is a tree next to my garden that bears little, pear-apple like fruits known as quince. Quince! Too tart to be eaten raw, these little darlings must be coaxed into palatability through contact with heat. Heat, and lots and lots of sugar. However, with both of these things incorporated they transform from a dull yellow to a lovely pink. This difficult fruit's sweet interior thus been exposed, they blush from revelation. How adorable.

I tried two quince recipes today. One for poached quince with cinnamon and vanilla, and one for quince paste, which will be dried, sugared, and cut into squares for use with fancy cheese courses. The former is done, and has turned a lovely shade of pink, though the pieces of fruit themselves have deteriorated, much unlike the photo provided on The Wednesday Chef's lovely blog, where I got the recipe. The paste has yet to be scrutinized, as it's unfair to judge it while it's still cooling. The bits on the spoon were quite lovely, though.

As any functional alcoholic, my interest in the poached quince inevitably turned to the possibilities in a martini glass. Since the syrup in which the poached quince floats is nothing more than simple syrup with fruit flavoring, it can be incorporated into several alluring cocktails, the once most recently sampled being "The Quimlet", which is nothing more than a Gimlet with quince syrup instead of Rose's Lime Juice. Quite optimal, as far as girly drinks go.

The syrup itself is relatively easy, as long as you can locate the quince, which should be available in any reputable autumnal farmer's market, or in my backyard. If you're in the area, come help yourself!

Quince Syrup
Makes quite a bit.
[Adapted from the Wednesday Chef's Poached Quince with Vanilla and Cinnamon]

3 or 4 large quinces
2 cups sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 vanilla bean, split
4 cups filtered water

1. Peel, core, and quarter the quinces. This may prove more time consuming than you think, they're tough little buggers. Meanwhile, combine sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, and water in a large pot. Heat gently til sugar dissolves, then bring to a boil.

2. Add quince to sugar solution and bring to just below a boil. Then, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for about 45 minutes, until the fruit can be easily stabbed with a knife. The syrup should have turned a lovely pink color.

3. Remove mixture from heat and let cool. Pass liquid through a strainer lined with cheesecloth to remove the bits from the syrup. Pour syrup into a clean, sealable, container and store in fridge. The syrup should keep for at least two weeks.

With your delectable quince syrup, you can make a batch of Quimlets!


Makes one quimlet.

You will need:

A chilled martini glass

3 ounces gin

1.5 ounces quince syrup

splash of soda

ice cubes

1. Combine gin, syrup, soda, and ice cubes in a shaker (or a glass, whichever) and mix vigorously.

2. Pour into chilled martini glass and enjoy with intelligent conversation and applicable cheese.

Woo! I also considered a Quin and Tonic, but haven't explored that. Maybe next drink.