Wednesday, April 04, 2007

If I Had a Million Dollars

I'd open a coffeehouse. I'd call it Snowball's Chance Café and the slogan on the door would read "a hell of a cup of coffee." The coffee would be locally roasted. Any food would be prepared fresh daily and would not contain saturated fats. There would always be in-season fruit and vegetables available. Staff would be paid a living wage so they don't have to live on tips. In fact, I would not allow a tip jar.

This would be more than a place to get a cup of coffee, though. There would be free wi-fi for anyone who brings their computer, and two or three limited-use house computers available for customers. The house computers would be in an area filled with all sorts of career information, local free events, and an official BookCrossing Zone. This would be a community gathering place.

I'd have local music as many nights as I could get it. Community groups wanting to spread out and create would always be welcome, and I'd have a photo gallery showcasing their meetings all over the walls. I wouldn't sell handcrafted items, though, since I am rather particular about that sort of stuff, but we would keep contact info for artists on-hand.

What I would sell that isn't coffee or food, though, are postcards. I'd run an art/photography contest twice a year and the winning selections would be made into postcards. I'd encourage people to write.... postcards, letters to friends and families, maybe even letters to political and business leaders. As much as I love the instant gratification of email, putting pen to paper is still an important means of communication.

I even know where I'd open my coffeehouse... in the city, in what is often considered a "bad part of town." I love this section of Pittsburgh because it has so much more character than the neighborhoods with the Starbucks, Crate and Barrels, and Gaps. I would do my homework so I would know how to deal with a business in an economically depressed neighborhood. I'd be active in the community so that I'd have a better chance at holding out against the chains when they do come, because I know they will eventually come to that area of town.

If I had a million dollars...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Julia Child is Laughing At Me

I peeled my first ever tomato today, but, no, that is not why Julia Child is laughing at me. After I peeled the tomato I had to go lie down for a bit, else swoon right there at the kitchen counter.

One of the very few good things about being unemployed is I have more time to cook. My 20-odd years of vegetarian diet prior to moving to Pittsburgh three years ago consisted mostly of pasta, rice, beans, ordinary salads, and, of course, vegetables...but only a few vegetables, and always raw because I hate squishy cooked vegetables and that is usually what happened when I tried to cook them. After moving here, and cooking for, and with, someone not afraid to try different things, I started to expand my repertoire. Soy in all its many forms started appearing in meals. Salads became more than greens and a cucumber. After learning the delights of steaming and roasting vegetables, I even started eating asparagus, a vegetable I thought I hated. Vegetarian cookbooks were piling up in my kitchen and dinner became an adventure.

So, this afternoon I was preparing a new recipe, one with an odd name, Moors and Christians. It is an adaptation of a Cuban recipe and the author of the cookbook, 125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes (Judith Finlayson), says the name refers to the time when Spanish and Moorish were at war. That made me think of the book I just finished reading, José Saramago's The History of the Siege of Lisbon, a delightful contemporary love story with a goodly amount of historic blood and gore spilled by Portuguese and Moors (and yes I know that Portuguese is not Spanish). So I am thinking about the book, which I really enjoyed, as I start peeling the tomato.

I really have never peeled a tomato before. Not in all my 50 years. I usually use canned tomatoes in recipes. But this one calls for one fresh tomato, peeled and seeded. I got my Wüsthof 4.5 inch utility knife (another thing about my new cooking skills...good tools!) and set to peeling. First pull of the skin, my knees buckle. The sound is what I can only imagine skin coming away from meat, human meat, would sound like. It is the sound I hear in my head when reading medieval stories of torture. Scenes in the Saramago book came to life in my head. In my hands I held a pulpy mess of red. Trying to put the images and sounds away, I quickly worked to get the rest of the tomato peeled, seeded and chopped, then put a cover over it and retired to my bed.

I'm going back to canned tomatoes. Already chopped canned tomatoes.

Friday, February 02, 2007

So perfect

Not sure if this is an illegal action, but can't resist. Click the image for a larger view.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Remembering Nana

The Morris chair belonged to my great-grandmother, Nana, when she was a child. I used to sit in it when I was little and watch Lawrence Welk with her.

Nana used to make me wear a crinoline to school. I'd take it off as soon as I got there and stuff it in my jacket or behind something if I didn't have a jacket. And then I'd have to remember it before going home.

Nana also used to make my lunch. She was quite active for an elderly woman, but she did get confused at times. One day she mixed two of my favorite sandwiches together by accident, so I ended up with cheese, mayonnaise and jelly sandwich. I ate it because I always ate what Nana made. And I liked it, too! Actually asked for it from then on. Good thing she didn't put peanut butter in with the other three things, 'cause that would have been just crazy to eat.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Es tu Tigger?

Went to visit the baby tigers at the Pittsburgh Zoo yesterday. Nice to get out of the house for a while. I'm not a huge fan of zoos, but Pittsburgh's is winning me over.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Saturday, January 13, 2007


The little spark of hope last week was quickly extinguished this week. Came so close (three interviews) to a very cool job at a very cool tech company here in Pittsburgh, only to find out I'd lost out. And then an opportunity that would have helped me follow a dream fell through on Thursday. I was 100% sure I had the later. 100%. And it fell through. I am having a very hard time getting over this and back into career search mode. And this blog may end up a casualty. I don't much feel like doing anything at all.