on the gad

origins

In coffee on July 21, 2014 at 5:50 pm

duchess“do you like to cook?” he asks. i answer in the negative immediately. he needs to know i am not a feeder. “but i like to bake.” i admit. which makes him suck in his gut and titter nervously. we are not suited at all. cooking for me is like gardening: i so appreciate other people’s gorgeous dishes and lush gardens but lack the energy or expertise to produce anything too impressive on my own. my baking skills aren’t particularly expert either. i have merely built up a repertoire of seasonal bundt cake recipes over the years to suit almost any occasion and satisfy my sweet tooth. we have traced my interest in baking back to my very early years when we lived next to mrs. carlinni. she always had a tin of fresh baked cookies on hand. it was a particular kind of cookie i have never encountered elsewhere and i can still conjure up a taste memory fifty years later. it was a wavy, free-form, large thin melt-in-your-mouth kind of cookie with powdered sugar resting sweetly on top. mrs. carlinni also had a large wonderful doll with lacy skirts on her bedroom bureau. she let me visit it often because i had promised not to play with it. i think there was a mr. carlinni as well but he didn’t have cookies or dolls so he wasn’t my hero. on the day our moving truck came i was found hiding under their bed. i didn’t want to move away. years later, my dad brought me back for a visit with mrs. carlinni. i was too shy to talk to her anymore but i happily partook of her cookies.
cenci

solstice sustenance

In more coffee on June 21, 2014 at 4:24 pm

so i chose independence day as my last day of work. i want a little fanfare/fireworks when i leave my three year-old post. i hate when people cheerfully ask me about my post-work plans. i have none. i am not leaving because i have something better in the works; i am merely escaping. i cannot see my future. the crystal ball is completely dark. i have been foraging for food and accepting charity. we have two plum trees, an apple tree, and blackberry vines creeping in through the back fence. my gardening guru buddy planted basil with me and pruned the citrus plants. when she bicycles over to my house her baskets are always full of garden bounty.

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my sister in crime at work supports my fishy inclinations. she always thoughtfully purchases a second box of sardine tins for me at costco and oh-so-generously gave me some prized scallops. a little squeezed lemon and lime and a purloined sprig of parsley, pink himalayan salt & fresh pepper, and next day i was eating scallop ceviche like a queen.

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when i can’t afford fresh bakery breads, i have my breakfast salmon on crispbread. i like the sourdough rye because i believe rye is a traditional diets food for us transplanted swiss folk. also makes me think of our childhood baja camping trip where we ate a lot of tuna on crispbread. dad called it hardtack and i was pretty darn grown before i discovered most people do not call it hardtack.

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fruit: free

sardines: $2.00

crispbread: $3.69

friendship: priceless

switzerland for a day

In more coffee on June 16, 2014 at 2:53 pm

an old friend and i discussed my upcoming unemployment. he aggressively flattered me by referring to my frugality. but i am not frugal at all. especially when it comes to food. i am a grownup child of berkeley’s gourmet ghetto and having spent the last three years in a food-politics-correct work realm, no matter how much and often my self-esteem meter dips into the low end, i do feel worthy of good fuel. as my current job comes to an end it occurs to me that Tanja’s Tsk*tsks (job to-do lists) can become Tanja’s Tips (cheap food suggestions). there are still a few pages left in my pink paper notebook.

even though quite a few of us would never say no to slurping raw oysters in the historic caverns of grand central station, some of us can very rarely afford new york travel or naked cowboys (oysters). so then we need to become adept at wistful daydreaming travel in our own town. first, go to top dog on durant and order a bockwurst from the star chef behind the counter. his establishment has been there since 1966. as has peet’s coffee & tea at vine. and in august of that fine year, i got a baby sister. if you still have some traditionally fermented in vintage crocks sauerkraut from work, bring some of that with you. you’ll want mustard of course. then hippity-hop over to the fountain on campus at college & bancroft. you’ll get just a little splishy-splashed as you sit there soaking up sun and all that free european ambiance. if your dad were still here he might wet a napkin in the fountain so you could clean up properly after gobbling up your meal. you might tarry in the sun a bit and make sure you actually look at the homeless people enjoying the fine day too. you never know when you will run into an old friend from back in the day.

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to round out your very affordable theme day menu, put aside any stray thoughts & yearnings about your favorite sophisticated bakeries and cafes. stop by the asian faux bakery on durant and purchase a cellophane-wrapped green tea swiss roll from the cheerful youngsters. thankfully, no ingredients are listed so there is no reason not to feel a hundred percent good about your dessert choice. since you stocked up on fresh peet’s italian roast at home, you can stash your cake in your bike basket for later when it is actually the proper time of day for cake & coffee.

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top dog bockwurst: $3.25

swiss roll slice: $1.00 (discount for paying with cash)

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