Tag Archives: Memory

One For You & One For Me (Cabin Weekend, Part II)

March 2012

There’s a certain quiet that is felt.  This type of quiet is not defined by a lack of sound.  This type of sensory quiet is defined by a calm… a slower pace… a lack of “shoulds” and “woulds.”  This type of quiet accentuates small details… the endless appeal of a flowing creek, the rapid changes of the sky, the flickers of light cast on an array of textures and minutes marked by light and not by schedules.  I’ve only felt this type of quiet a few times, but they have been magical, memorable times, and this cabin weekend was one of them!

Like a long, quiet scene in a film, I watched myself float through the weekend with my special one.  We swayed back and forth on that swing, with its perfectly framed view.  We watched the flickers of light, felt the warmth of the sun and sipped slowly on drinks that added their own textures and patterns to the moments, as we quietly escaped reality.

One for Him

1 part gin
1 part sweet vermouth
1 part bitters

One for Me!

AITA Snap + Organic Birch Beer + Organic Orange Slices

For Us!

A French wine connoisseur once told me tasting wine is not about elitism or fancy terms.  Wine tasting is about remembering your grandmother’s kitchen or recalling a meadow in spring.  It’s about memory and experience.

Smoky ash on goat cheese and fingertips.

The creamy taste and smell of asparagus?!?

A bite that made me think of eating the real deal at a port, while watching sailboats prepped for a major journey.

These were the characteristics of cheese tasting on a sunny afternoon, and future hints of asparagus in a creamy cheese will recall a weekend quietly slinking by a window view.

The Birthday Party: My Black Velvet Bourbon Birthday Dream (28 Cakes for 28 Years)

January 2012

Oh friends, it was beautiful!

I curtsy to the multi-talented, mad scientist, Alex Mohamed for his photo documentation of the night.  Knowing someone else was preserving my moment in time really enabled me to act a fool (a true fool…just scroll down)!

(Click on the beautiful table spread photo to see the rest of Alex’s photos of the night.)

Good friends brought great food, the wine flowed, the Black Velvet burned, and a really memorable night ensued!  Speaking of that Black Velvet, we don’t drink it for its whiskeyness (it’s Canadian after all), and certainly, we don’t drink it for our health.  We drink it because of what happened here.

Don’t expect this to normalize what’s about to transpire, but allow me to explain (and forgive me if you have already read this before)…

On that dreamlike Fleatique & Pique-Nique Sunday, I happened to be wearing riding pants and riding boots and feeling very in touch with my [nonexistent] equestrian side.  One vendor even told me I carried myself with the dignity of Meryl Streep.  Keep talking, vendor!  In my flea market rounds, I spied a black, equestrian helmet.  It was a thing of beauty, but as I don’t actually ride, could I really justify a helmet in my hat collection?  I thought not, but as the market began to close, my nagging want at least merited a price inquiry.

By that time, Nicole and Nina were following my pursuit.  I found the helmet vendor packing up his already full car.  The price pursuit then seemed hopeless, but I asked about the beautiful riding helmet anyway.  When the vendor said “$12,” I though, “sold (but I still played my poker face)!”  Why not?!?

Nicole and Nina lingered by the man’s tables while I followed him to his car, which was literally packed so tightly, items were pressed against the windows.  Fortunately, the helmet was on the perimeter of the colossal squish.  He somehow pulled out only the helmet, and I perched it on my head (above my head really as it’s rather small).  I motioned to Nicole and Nina, “How do I look?”  The vendor told me I looked rich!

Meanwhile, from what seemed like a football field’s distance away, a melody could be heard.  “Black velvet and that little boy’s smile… [mumble mumble]…”  FROM SOOOO FAR AWAY, Nina was serenading the black velvet [velour?] purchase in debate.  I admit, it took me a moment to understand what Nina was doing, but once she hit the chorus, I made the connection, and I sealed the deal right then and there.  I had to have this piece!  A real Kentucky Derby helmet no less!

We tried to sing the song on the way home, but we couldn’t seem to piece together the disparate lyrics in our heads.  Every sentence ended on a questioning high note- a new religion?  Southern…?  We didn’t find resolution until we arrived home and gathered around a computer to watch the video.  It was then we realized, or rather came to a concluding question- WTF IS THIS SONG ABOUT?!!?  She (do you even know the name of the singer?) sings with all the passion of some strong emotion but which emotion and why?!?  Which emotion?!?  We never figured it out, but we did go on a delightful train wreck of a viewing experience (ie:  This and this one too).  Once I discovered the whiskey version, this song really became our anthem.

Then it was my birthday, and a few AMAZING things happened…

Well friends, the future is now!  Someone gave me the best birthday present ever, which gave me an idea!  Though Sandra, one of my absolute bests, was stuck in Florida, there was no reason why she couldn’t join my festivities, especially when the guitar came out.  You see, Sandra, Nina and I go back to 2002, and my life is definitely better for it!

You saw it here first!

Once again, I forgot to make a wish.  I was so concentrated on summoning enough breath to hit all those candles, and furthermore, I was already having a perfect night!

One last antic…

As a baker, I have a silly affinity for the band Bread.  As lifelong loves, Nina and I have a special appreciation for this song, which called for a rekindling of a dance we started ages ago.  (You might notice our projected version featured subtítutlos en español for some reason).

The night concluded like this…

It was the best!

28 Years Ago…

January 21, 2012

Today I am feeling extra special and thankful for all the really good people in my life as they send me the best of wishes.

But I’m feeling especially blessed because this woman brought me into the world twenty-eight years ago!

Even if she weren’t my mom, I’d say she was one of the most generous, selfless women I have ever met.  Her patience is admirable, and her listening ear has helped me more than she may even know.

Thanks to both my parents for letting me be me… even if the result has been crazy (that’s what people tell me, anyway).  To the entire Kogel clan, lots of love on this day!  You have all made me feel special.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have food and snow adventures in store for this day.  I have only good feelings about my 28th year!

Art in the Age of a New Age: Ushering in 2012 (Part Two)

The Last Bits of 2011

After brunch, muddy mountain roads led us by chipping paint and old barns to the top of the world!  Well, to the top of Pennsylvania?  To the top of a mountain rather.

I used to play in an old red barn as a kid, and someday, I hope to refurbish an old barn into a home/studio space.  For the 2012 cusp, I simply admired the old barn beam colors against the gray December skies.

We passed almost as many buggies as we did cars and trucks on the wet and winding road that day.  Things were mostly just still and quiet.

We hit the vista as the last bits of light were fading, and the temperature was dropping, which made the promise of a fireplace, champagne and a home cooked meal all the more enticing.

The transition to dinner started with a little cheese spread to energize our cooking endeavor.

Might I suggest…
(clockwise from the top right corner)

Humboldt Fog
Gjetost Norwegian Brown Cheese
Brilla Savarin Cave Aged (similar to brie with a little less stink)
Drunken Goat
Trois Petits Cochons Mousse de Foie de Canard au Porto
(decent, but nowhere near as good as freshly made…note to self:  add pate to my kitchen To Do list)
Ossau Iraty Pyrenees Brebis
(a harder cheese- award winning according to the Whole Foods Connoisseur)
Whole Wheat Bread
(Unfortunately not made by me.  I was too busy staring at barns all day)

Patient hands waited for my camera clicking fingers to snap a few photos before diving into the spread.  That patience and understanding is only part of why I like him so much!

I recently read Le Voyage Créatif’s thoughtful and dreamlike post in which she returned to the cheese of her childhood, a brown Norwegian cheese I had yet to come across in my fromage journeys.  I was quite surprised and excited to find a half wheel at the grocery store that provided our last provisions before entering the quieter countryside.

There’s something really hopeful in how the internet and a world of food lovers can inspire new associations and memories in readers and writers far, far away.  Thanks to Le Voyage Créatif, I will now think of slivers of this mild and subtly caramely cheese against a backdrop of cold air, blue-tinted, mountain views, a warm fireplace, a new furry blanket, bubbling libations and a brand new year!

Dinner landed on the table just in time to curl up our fancy dress clothes underneath a warm blanket (bc even in a remote cabin, it’s fun to wear something fancy), watch Lady Gaga lead the ball drop effort on the big screen and toast some bubbly to 2012!  As per the theme of the weekend, dinner was a tribute to our favorite historical elixirs- Art in the Age Root & Rhuby.

Art in the Age of a New Age
The Last Dinner of 2011 & The First Dinner of 2012

The Menu
(see *recipes below)

Rhuby Moyo” Cocktails

Roasted Salmon with Rhuby Apricot Mango Reduction

Roasted Root Vegetables

Chocolate Chip Cake with Root Infusion & Whipped Topping
(more on dessert to come here!)

Not only were our champagne cocktails ushering in a brand new age, they were commemorating both a lasting friendship and a brand new friendship.  Once upon a college time, I spent six unforgettable months in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  I lived with four really special ladies from all over the world.  One of those ladies, Rumbi Moyo became a best friend dear!

My beautiful friend Rumbi is wise beyond her years.  She manages a challenging full time job, raises twin boys (no easy task!) and still manages to spend a night dancing every now and then.  She’s a remarkable lady, and this little paragraph fails to do even the slightest justice to how I fortunate I feel to have her in my life (albeit it remotely).

On my first ever journey to London (more on that to come, I really do promise!), Rumbi treated Jono and me to seafood and champagne at St. Pancras station.  It was a really lovely time and fulfilled another friend’s predictions for my life- the universe raining champagne and pearls upon me (my time is now, dear friends)!  Can you imagine a better way of passing an afternoon than having two of your nearest and dearest meet at an old train station in London for champagne and seafood?!?  I cannot!

Thus as we celebrated the grand adventures of 2011 and the hopeful 2012 horizons, Jono mixed what he called a “Rhuby Moyo” in honor of my dear friend.  We anticipate more experimenting on this cocktail, but in the meantime, cheers to you, dear Rumbi!  Come visit us soon, and we’ll add a third glass to the table!

The Rhuby Moyo

Simple Syrup (from demerara sugar)
Art in the Age Rhuby
Peychaud Bitters
Orange Peel

Combine 1 jigger of Rhuby and 1/4 jigger simple syrup in a champagne glass.  Fill with champagne, and top with 2-3 dashes of Peychaud bitters.  Garnish with orange peel and toast to good friends and a brand new year!

As the NYE programming slowed, we switched to a the glamor of a past era via Sunset Boulevard.  The champagne bubbled, the fire crackled, and the black and white film ran its dramatic course.  With such a perfect start, 2012 must be bound for good things!

The Recipes

Roasted Salmon
w/ Rhuby Apricot Mango Reduction


1 pound salmon, cut into 2 equal-sized fillets
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 garlic clove, minced
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, chopped
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 shot Rhuby
5 oz organic apricot fruit spread
~2 Tablespoons chopped red onion
1 small orange, chopped
1 mango, chopped
Sea salt & pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 450 F.

Lightly coat a baking pan with cooking spray.

In a small saucepan over low heat, mix together the maple syrup, garlic, ginger and balsamic vinegar. Heat just until hot and remove from heat. Pour half of the mixture into a small bowl to use for basting, and reserve the rest for later.

Pat the salmon dry. Place skin-side down on the baking sheet. Brush the salmon with the maple syrup mixture.

Bake about 10 minutes, brush again with maple syrup mixture, and bake for another five minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine 2 Tablespoons of the balsamic sauce, Rhuby, apricot fruit spread, orange and half the mango.

Continue to baste and bake the fish until flakes easily, about 20 to 25 minutes total.

Cut the remaining half mango into chunks and mix into the apricot sauce.

Transfer the salmon fillets to plates. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper, and top with reserved maple syrup and the apricot sauce.

Roasted Root Vegetables

The Root flavor in this root vegetable mix is subtle, but it definitely added a little extra spice to the taste.  Most diners would probably have a hard time guessing the source of the extra flavor.  This was my first pass, but I’m eager for more experimenting, especially when the recipe entails a pun.   


2-3 Tablespoons Organic, unsalted butter
1 parsnip, sliced
1 small sweet potato, sliced
4-5 carrots, sliced
1 small red onion, chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, sliced
1 medium beet, sliced

Root Sauce

½ cup pure maple syrup
½ cup water
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Orange peel
½ cup Root

For the Roasted Vegetables

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a large baking dish or skillet.

Remove from the oven, and add the sliced vegetables.  Roast for 45-60 minutes, until tender, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, after about 30 minutes of roasting, combine the maple syrup and water in a saucepan over medium high heat until dissolved.

Add the balsamic vinegar and orange peel, and continue to stir.

Reduce heat to low and continue to simmer.

As the vegetables finish roasting, add the Root to the sauce, stirring to combine.

Remove from heat, and remove the orange peel.

Remove the vegetables from the oven and stir in the Root sauce.

Serve just in time for a brand new year!

The Teacup That Taught Me To Like Tea

December 2011

I talked about the table, and now the memory lane has arrived at a teacup and toast.  As a little girl, my mom fostered my love of tea.  We were a family of firm breakfast believers- the most important way to start your day!  My childhood mornings would begin with a cup of really weak tea because weak was how I liked it in the days of budding tastes.  For whatever reason, the tea was best served in the brown ceramic mug that caught my eye anew on my recent visit to mom’s cupboards.

I still am very much a tea fan, but on this sunny, wintry morning, I filled my memory cup with coffee, made with extra strength for my visit.  I grew up with parents who sipped from mugs of coffee throughout the day.  When I finally began to drink coffee and drink it with increasing strength, I questioned how my parents still had stomach linings with the quantities they consumed.  Then I tasted their coffee.  Coffee flavored water?  Water flavored coffee?  Coffee flavored tea?  It was weak, but that’s how they like it.

Tastes and memories are intertwined.  Even though my tastes and cooking style has become bolder and more complex than my roots, there’s something really comforting in the refined way my mom can prepare a roast or an array of vegetables.  However, I do have to request a few extra scoops of coffee in the filter.