You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2007.

Feeding the multitudes

Every summer we have a party for the students, staff, and friends of the Clarion West writer’s workshop, and this year it was yesterday. As the workshop is 6 weeks long, we have our party at the end of the fourth week — this acts a sort of a seventh-inning stretch for the students, who perhaps have scarcely seen the great outdoors since they arrived in Seattle.  I make my Justly Famous Chicken Mole Poblano, and the guests bring salads, snacks, and desserts.

Salads are good for you

The salad at the left was made by a student who had carefully picked out the choicest things at the University District Farmers Market, and very tasty it was, too.

Should you need to feed about 50 of your closest friends, give this a try! I also have refried beans, guacamole, salsa, and grated cotija cheese available on the side.

Chicken Mole Poblano 

Serves the multitudes – leftover sauce freezes well

8 roast chickens – I buy them at Costco

8 packages of flour tortillas

1 recipe mole sauce


For the mole sauce:

4 c. chicken broth
1 c. blanched almonds

2T crushed dried hot chilis

½ c. sesame seeds

1 ½ t. ground cinnamon

¼  t.  ground cloves

½  t.  each: ground coriander seed,  ground cumin,  anise seeds

4 tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 c. raisins

4 small fresh hot chilis

1 large onion, chopped

1 T. sugar

½ t. freshly ground black pepper

2-4 squares unsweetened chocolate


In a food processor, puree 2 c. broth, almonds, dried chilis, sesame seeds, cinnamon, cloves, coriander seed, cumin, and anise seeds. Pour into heavy large saucepan.

Puree tomatoes, raisins, fresh chilis, onion, sugar, and pepper, and add to mixture in saucepan.  Add remaining broth and 2 squares of chocolate, and bring mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally.  Taste and add salt as needed.  After the chocolate has melted, taste to see if it needs more chocolate – I usually go with the full 4 squares as I like the deep note that it brings to the flavor.  Simmer, stirring now and then, for about 30 minutes.  Set aside until ready to serve.

Strip the meat from the chicken and tear into generous shreds, arranging artfully on two large rimmed baking sheets.  If you need to keep things warm for a while until you are ready to serve, pour the juices over the meat, loosely cover with foil, and keep in 200 degree oven.

Wrap the contents of one package of tortillas at a time in a clean dishcloth, and put in microwave for 1or 2 minutes to warm tortillas.

Arrange the serving dishes so that guests place a warm tortilla on their plate, take a portion of chicken, then drizzle the mole sauce over it generously.  Roll it up and eat, and come back for more!

I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the city of Savannah with 140 heavy guns and plenty of ammunition and also about 25,000 bales of cotton.                    William Tecumseh Sherman to Abraham Lincoln, 1864

I stood agog in Lafayette Square in Savannah, amid brick paths, trickling fountains and dark trees hung with Spanish moss. Before me rose up a cathedral of linen-fresh whiteness with twin Gothic spires, and around it stood 200-year-old houses of weathered brick, with hurricane shutters that clearly were still used. I did not know that such perfection existed in America.

                    The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America
                                             Bill Bryson

Savannah is sleeping amid its baskets of azaleas.
                      America Day by Day
                                             Simone de Beauvoir

Savannah is a beautiful city, filled with fabulous architecture 

 Sorrel-Weed House

beautiful squares  Orleans Square

overwrought iron

Iron dream

and atmospheric cemetaries.

Colonial Park Cemetary

In July, it is so hot

It’s too darned hot
even the windows were sweating.
We had a lovely visit. Arriving about midnight, we fumbled with the lock box on our condo, to the bemusement of the cockroach watching from the wall.  The stately oaks planted in the median wore an extravagant amount of Spanish moss, and insects whirred in the trees.  Morning found us strolling towards the river for breakfast, and once fortified, we sallied forth to sightsee.The trick to visiting Savannah in the summer is to stay in the shade as much as possible, and take regular breaks to be in air conditioned comfort, preferably with something cool to sip. Sunday we strolled the historic district, getting a feel for the town.  It’s laid out in a very tidy grid, which makes it easy to get around, and the scale of the blocks is very humane. Monday was the day for taking care of business — we took a tour of SCAD in the morning, and my daughter sat in on an inking class in the afternoon.  While she did that, I found a snackIf it’s fried it must be goodthen visited Wild Fibre Yarns and scored some nice hand dyed alpaca yarn, but no Sea Island cotton in sight.  This shop is so civilized, by the way, that they offer cold bottled water free to bedraggled visitors on days so hot that the magnolias droop.  Did I say it was hot?

Dinner at The Shrimp Factory, where we feasted on deviled crab and Low Country-style boiled shrimp, and I had a Chatham Artillery Punch, which is not for the faint of heart. Tuesday was more sighseeing, with museums, historic houses and an Internet cafe to keep us busy. Wednesday was the long trip home. Did you know there are no direct flights from Savannah to Seattle?

Another trip, this time to Savannah,  Georgia, with my daughter, to look at Savannah College of Art and Design, the school she thinks she wants to go to in about a year. In addition to looking at dorms, classrooms, and lots of  historic buildings and squares, I’ll keep my eyes open for some Sea Island Cotton, in either yarn or fiber form.

My backpack holds the essentials: emergency rations of chocolate and nuts, some light reading, and the second Monkey sock.

The Bear Necessities

Back in a few!

Sad news, I’m afraid.  I got a note from PAWS saying that the injured crow we took in had to be euthanized.

Out of the dark we came, into the dark we go. Like a storm-driven bird at night we fly out of the Nowhere; for a moment our wings are seen in the light of the fire, and, lo! we are gone again into the Nowhere. 

                     H. Rider Haggard

I hope you love birds too.  It is economical.  It saves going to heaven.

                     Emily Dickinson

A fresh bowl of summer

Breakfast this morning was a bowl of plain yoghurt with raspberries from the garden, picked directly into the bowl and warm from the sun.  You’ll note a few alpine strawberries in there as well, tiny treats I usually snack on while weeding.  A restorative bowl of summer, after an exceedingly noisy night last night.  We live on a small lake, in an unincorporated section of the county, surrounded by towns that no longer allow fireworks.  But they allow them here.  Hoo boy, do they allow them here! About every other dock was putting out a fine display, and the neighbors directly across from us did their usual immense display, going for about 15 minutes, very large skybursts and very loud bangs.

The rockets’ red glare

Happy Birthday, America!  And happy birthday to Chotzie!  (Lisa says I can call him that.)