December 30, 2005


Concetta's visit wouldn't be complete without a big batch of homemade pasta e fagioli, or, more affectionately, pasta vajole, pasta fazoo, pasta fazool, past 'n beans. There are as many variations of the recipe as there are Italians. But the one you grow up eating is always your favorite. I've searched the Internet for recipes to get an idea of what other people are eating. I was completely disgusted by this bowl of gruel disguised as bad chili which claims to be a "copycat version of the soup from the Olive Garden." 'Nuff said.

Concetta used dried great northern beans soaked overnight. She made her own pasta, small chewy squares which we have always called tuh-CUTS. I've spelled it the way it sounds. I'm not at all sure what the word is or where it's from. I've searched on the Internet for this word in many, many spelling variations and can't find info on it. The word is most definitely a product of the Italian dialect spoken by my grandparents. I will continue my search. These are not what are known as quadrattini. Quadrattini are way too small. If you know how to make cavatelli, you know how to make tuhcuts. Once your dough is rolled out, you cut long strips in the dough one way and then the other, like a checkerboard pattern. The tuhcuts are little squares of the checkerboard. To make cavatelli you start rolling all the little squares with your thumbs. Concetta also used the tomatoes we canned in September. Sometimes I like little meatballs in the dish but usually I don't. No meatballs this time. No meat at all, except that some of the liquid was homemade chicken stock from Julie. But just a small amount. What makes the pasta fagioli thick is some of the pasta water and you don't want the dish to taste like chicken. It needs to taste like beans, pasta, tomatoes and grated parmasean. Don't forget those celery leaves! At some point in the history of commercial grocery stores, the produce distributors started cutting off the tops of celery. Probably because some poor eaters and lame cooks didn't want it. That's a bunch of crap. Celery leaves are essential for any stock and soup. But they are hard to find. You have to pry apart the celery to inspect the innards in the hopes that there are leaves somewhere. Anyway, the past 'n beans is wonderful.

December 27, 2005

Christmas Eve morning walked to Madison Market for a few last minute tasty items and to take advantage of the chilly but dry weather. That day Concetta created a fabulously large and delicious bread stuffed with Italian sausage, cheese, and fried peppers and onions. Man, did the house smell great. Even our biggest baking sheet was a bit too tight of a fit for this behemoth but we endured.

That evening we were joined by Stephanie and her very yummy, homemade panatone bread pudding, and Sally and her savory roasted squash. This is sounding creppy so let's move on. There was lots of good food and lots of laughing.

Christmas morning was a lazy one. We eventually ran over to Fuel for fuel. How delighted were we to discover that Fuel was open on Christmas Eve and Christmas day!? The owner just couldn't let us drink crappy Charbucks or Dully's on the holiday. Thank you!

We opened our wonderful gifts and ate sausage bread and fried egg sandwiches, and talked to family members over the phone. We nibbled on homemade biscotti from Carol, homemade biscotti from Jackie, pizzelles from Aunt Fran, and a very rich and tasty bundt cake from Dave and Steph from Nothing Bundt Cakes. This cake was Chocolate Chocolate Chip with cream cheese frosting. It didn't last long.

After watching several episodes of Will & Grace Season 2 (thank you, Iva), we donned our coats and gloves and headed to Seward Park for a walk. The park wasn't crowded but was pretty busy for a major holiday. Fresh air and a respite from the rain was too attractive for some of us. We were so full from nibbling left-overs that we didn't eat dinner until about 8:30. Julie roasted a chicken stuffed with rosemary, lemon and onions. Damn was it good! There was also broiled asparagus and kabocha squash. At least, I'm almost sure it was a kabocha. Whatever it was it was very good.

December 26, 2005


Friday I was off work so Concetta and I hit the road and ran a bajillion errands, including picking up the Christmas tree. This was day three of looking for the tree. I never thought finding a tree would prove so tedious. I don't want to hear I waited too late. I started looking on the 21st. Since when do tree lots close up shop so damn early? Not everyone wants the tree in the house a freakishly long time. The day after Thanksgiving is a ridiculous target date for tree trimmings and I make no apologies about it. Swanson's nursery had trees and all were beautiful and all were 50% off. In addition to our Swanson's dollars earned over the summer, we spent no more for the tree than we usually would buying it on Capitol Hill at the Seattle Aids Support Group sale. But we missed that sale because they closed up shop before the 21st. We prefer to support that charity but desperate times call for desperate measures. Frankly, the tree from Swanson's was far superior in appearance and quality than any we have purchased from SASG but we will be back to SASG next year - a week earlier.
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December 23, 2005


Concetta arrived the 21st. Thanks to Erin's parking pass I was able to leave the lot at work and return at no charge. Thanks, Erin.

Thursday night we went to see Ham For The Holidays: Desperate Spuddwives at
Theatre Off Jackson. It was our second performance of Ham and our first visit to the the theatre. Lisa Koch and Peggy Platt are terribly funny as Euomi and Wynotta Spudd. They also did an outrageous mini-musical about Dick Cheney (Cheney, Cheney Bang Bang) and, with the two other actors of Ham, brought back the Sequim Gay Men's Chorus. We really liked the theatre. We'll have to look for other shows there in the future.

December 20, 2005


The night before Stephanie and Mark's party was the Neighborhood Block Watch potluck. This is where we discovered Trader Joe's Sweet Kalamata Spread. Unfortunately, we didn't find it in the store. The search continues.

The following weekend was dinner at Victoria Bozzacco's for the first time. Victoria is an excellant cook. She made spanikopita, onions in a balsamic reduction, roasted red pepper hummus and an olive focaccia bread (the recipe for which she said is based on this Harvest Focaccia recipe). Don't forget the chocolate pecan pie. All of this was homemade and delicious. We also got to meet Victoria'a intended, Glen, who drove down from Darrington. Sally was there too and it was a fun and relaxing evening.

The next day was a party at Time and Ellen's. This was our first time at their place. They had great decorations (must have disco ball ornament!) and very yummy food. Tim, the homemade ketchup was great. Ellen, those puff pastries stuffed with olives - delish! The lamp in the bedroom - very phallic. I know, I know, Ellen, "There's one in the house!"

Finally, we wrapped up last weekend with a little food by attending Andrea's cookie exchange party. We bring a half dozen cookies for each person (couple) and receive the same in return. Our frezzer is full of homemade cookies. It was a fun party and there was lots of good food. Whitney, the salmon dip and spinach dip were very tasty. Andrea's nephew Aiden chewed on his hand for a while and seemed satisfied.

Add to all of this eating madness the container of cookies we received in the mail from Carol. Plus, my mom tells me to look for a package from her neighbor, Jackie. this means only one thing - homemade biscotti. Oy! Everyone please come over and eat.


So in my Hungry Anyone? entry, I wrote about the Christmas party at Stephanie and Mark's. I didn't include the extemsive menu. I did mention that she prepared enough food for a party three times as large (in attendance were 14 adults and one toddler) but thinks she didn't make enough. This behavior goes way beyond just being Italian. I think an intervention is in order. I should have mentioned the decorations, especially the talking Santa who greeted us at the door and the lighted snowman. Julie counted over twenty christmas trees in the house (any tree image was fair game), and the subtle lighting of the living room made for a relaxed, intimate setting.

Well, I got an earful on the Comments board for leaving out the menu. So, here it is, in her own words, the rest of the Christmas party experience.

Not enought room? It's a Web page -- there is infinite room, and I didn't even make a lot. And no pictures of Myles? He was so cute! And what about the trees? Aren't you going to say how many Christmas trees there were? (5 full size, one 3-footer, 6 1-foot, and 2 half-foot)

Ok so here was the menu:
Shrimp cocktail
Cheese trays (Stilton, goat, etc.)
Crab on toast
Mini quiches
Mushroom tunrovers
Cinnamon almonds
Mixed nuts
Olives stuffed with blue cheese
Seasame Teriyaki chicken tenders
Tequila Lime chicken tenders
Honey Djoin chicken tenders
Hummus cups
Mini deli rolls

Marinated mushrooms
Roasted red and yellow peppers
Mini fresh mozzerlla balls
Marinated artichokes
Greek olives

Baked Ziti
Roasted lemon garlic pork loin
Roasted carrots and potatoes

Tiramsu tort
Drum cake
Orange cranberry bread
Brownie petit fours
Pecan Patties
Thumbprint cookies
Sugar cookies
Rum balls
Cheesecake bites
Chocolate chip cookies
Resese Pieces cookies

I had pepperoni too, but no one wanted me to open it.


December 18, 2005


Yes, I'm way behind. December is outrageously busy. We have attended dinners and parties every weekend. Plus the general holiday prep work to the house on top of the continued purging. The month began with a craft fair at the Phinney Neighborhood Association Winter Craft Fair on December 4th. Julie and Sally and Neva and I baby-stepped our way through two buildings of artisan everything and the place was crawling with, as Neva puts it, "Yuppies and their larvae." Well, there were lots of toddlers and not all of them attended properly. Toddlers do not belong on the stairs. The craft fair is neither the place nor the time to let the little ones explore and learn stairs. Many parents were dazed. You know what, stay home, get a sitter, leave the kids with the grandfolks. But don't bring them to the craft fair for play time. It's not only annoying, it's dangerous.

After the Phinney fair we headed to the
Sakya Monestery of Tibetan Buddhism for another craft gig and a free tour of the monastery. We have visited the outside before but weren't allowed in simply because we were not attending any services here. But the craft fair was our chance to see some traditional Tibetan craftwork and a peek inside the beautiful monastery. I took two photos before I realized that photos were not allowed. Check out the beautiful mandalas on the ceiling. I hope my karma doesn't suffer. At the crat sale I scored on two rings. Cheap but pretty in an old Tibetan way.

Sally, Julie and I went to The Library Cafe for lunch. They make their own veggie burger and it's delicious. Lots of teas, full espresso bar, yummy breakfasts.


So then on the 8th the eating began. Julie's work dinner at Buca di Beppo. Way too much food for even the dozen people who were there. Thus began the eating frenzy that is december.

This was continued two days later at Stephanie and Mark's Christmas party. They provided enough food for 40 people yet Stephanie fretted the whole time that there wasn't enough and that people weren't eating enough. The baked goods alone rivalled any church bake sale anywhere.

All the food was delicious and I don't have enough room on this blog to list it all. And then when we were all full Staphanie asked me, "How many pork loins should I make, two or three?" I think at that point she had chanelled my Nana B. It was a fun evening all the way around.

December 05, 2005


The purge is in full swing. The purge of the house, that is. Since last Monday we have, room by room, begun purging our house of the useless, the recyclable, the donatable, the Ebayable, the decrepit and so fourth and so on. It's a good feeling. It's alot of work. We are gaining space. "What will we do with all this extra space?" Julie asked. Not a damn thing! Space should remain space. It is not meant to be refilled. Mind you, none of this involves cleaning. That comes later. The point is to review the contents of the area and then decide what happens with them. Once the house has been purged, we go back through with the mop and the rags and the scrub brushes.

In other news, the Christmas shopping was completed before Thanksgiving and the packages were mailed out yesterday. Thus, the time to purge.

December 02, 2005


The snow lasted about two hours then it was gone. You hardly knew it had fallen. Curses! If it's going to be this cold we should have something to show for it.

December 01, 2005


As I returned to my desk at work, after my second of FOUR scheduled meetings today (thankfully, one was cancelled), I was excited to see snow falling on downtown Seattle! Doesn't happen often and never stays for long but it's still fun to see. Still don't ever want to live where it snows for real but I can enjoy the rare event because it doesn't snow for real in this town. Now that I am home for the day, I'm encouraged to see that some snow has managed to stick. Of course, my dream is for it to continue to snow, for the temperature to fall and for "school" to close tomorrow. No doubt that I will be checking the inclement weather line as soon as I rise in the morning. Julie, on the other hand, wishes for it to stop snowing. Her job only gets more difficult when the weather gets crappy. Sorry, Julie, my wishes are more fun than yours in regard to snow.