Thursday, August 23, 2007

Tonight, tonight... Boy, boy, pretty boy... and other such showtunes excitement

Last night we had a perfectly delightful evening at Wolf Trap with the Boston Pops and Keith Lockhart. I would even go so far as to say it was magical in that I had a whole host of memories and emotions reawakened from deep within me.

Such as "Rhapsody in Blue." I love the free and easy melody that tightens and expands across the keyboard and up and down the scale and the convergence of instruments--brass, winds, strings, percussion. Ah, the good old days of the Timpview High School Orchestra and Terry Hill. We rehearsed and rehearsed to play this for state orchestra in Logan, Utah, sometime in the spring of 1991. Of course we took state (who wouldn't have with Sam Peery on the piano?), but I mostly remember studying madly for the AP US history test on the bus all the way up and all the way back with my nerdy orchestra friends, and laughing our heads off.

Then there were our various performances of "Rhapsody in Blue" while on our Eastern European tour. We performed it in Wencelas Square in Prague to a crowd of Czechs. We also performed it in the piazza of a small town somewhere in Slovakia--the streets were not flat there, and we had to figure out how to keep our music stand up and the piano from rolling. In the middle of his first solo piece, Sam discovered that the keyboard was 8 keys short and he had to improvise.

Then Keith Lockhart pulled out West Side Story... let's just say I couldn't sit still. My sisters and I used to dance and sing to the old record my mom had. I think Lisa even tried to write down all the words so she could memorize them (there were a few phrases in "America" that we could never figure out).

I took a Cinematic Adaptations of Literature class my last semester at BYU, and we studied Romeo and Juliet. We read the play, then watched both Zefferelli's film and West Side Story, and I became enamored with the choreographic adaptation of Shakespearean emotion.

When I lived in Arizona, Jennifer and I had a friend, Mikey, who would upon request do the "Boy, boy, pretty boy" snap song for us. We loved it!

When I lived in New York City, I was amazed to find out that the movie had been filmed where the Lincoln Center is today, and the neighborhood used to house thousands of lower class ethnic groups, who heavily protested the demolition for an upper class performing arts center that I had grown to love.

So last night was magical... from "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" to "Bring Him Home." I love show tunes!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

My new passion: homemade ice cream

I don't know how it happened... ever since I experimented with that peach gelato recipe, I've become addicted. I can't stop thinking about new recipes or checking Craig's List for a good, cheap ice cream maker. Until then I'm borrowing my friend's amazing Cusinart ice cream maker and fantasizing about all sorts of Ben & Jerry's flavors. This weekend it was Milky Way, with chunks of the candy bar swirled in. Next week I've already decided: mint oreo. I even have the ingredients. There's just something about the texture and quick melting of homemade ice cream. It's rich and smooth and pure flavor. I'm dying to try fresh blueberry, since it is the season.

I think my love for ice cream comes from my grandmother. I love hearing stories of ice cream on the farm--they would each get a half a cantelope and fill it with homemade ice cream, then eat to their heart's content. I can just imagine the lazy summer days in Duncan on the Gila River, staying up late to talk and play games and sing. When I was little whenever any of us were sick, Grandad would bring over a McDonald's milkshake, saying it was the doctor's orders. I think those milkshakes were always the best medicine. On my mission we used to stop for gelato every day in the summer, and sometimes even in the winter. In Palermo they eat ice cream in a brioche--like a roll. So good! Maybe we can try that this weekend, too.

Ice cream just makes everything ok. One day I'm going to figure out how to make my favorite Italian gelato: nocciola (hazelnut). Or then there's frutta di bosca (a wonderful medley of berries). Oh--and nutella ice cream! Or a cone with nutella AND nocciola... oh the possibilities are endless!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A Bountiful Harvest

Yesterday morning I went to the farmer's market in Old Town Alexandria for the first time--and it immediately became one of my favorite events that I want to go to every Saturday. There were all sorts of stands from farms mostly in West Virginia, with all sorts of fruits and vegetables--tomatoes the size of my face, peaches, corn, cantelope, apples, cucumbers, berries, watermelons--and baked goods, jams, jellies, breads, rolls, cinnamon rolls. And then the flowers--sunflowers, daisies, herbs. I was overwhelmed with the colors, the smells, and the tastes--every stand had samples. It was amazing.

So of course I bought a bunch of stuff--I was so excited for garden tomatoes that I almost cried. I have been afraid to plant anything around here because of the darn squirrels. I had to take a picture of our purchases.

I told my friend about my outing, and she told me about her favorite thing about living in Omaha a few years ago. Every Sunday during the summer harvest season, people would bring their excess to the church kitchen and it was a free-for-all. Every week, she picked up tomatoes and corn, and she dropped off her offering--usually brownies or cookies. What a great system.

This morning I found a new favorite passage in the Old Testament, Leviticus 26:
3 ¶ If ye awalk in my statutes, and bkeep my commandments, and do them;
4 Then I will agive you brain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
5 And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely.
6 And I will agive bpeace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land.
7 And ye shall chase your aenemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword.
8 And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.
9 For I will ahave respect unto you, and make you fruitful, and multiply you, and establish my covenant with you.
10 And ye shall eat old store, and abring forth the old because of the new.
11 And I will set my tabernacle among you: and my soul shall not abhor you.
12 And I will awalk bamong you, and will be your cGod, and ye shall be my dpeople.
13 I am the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and I have broken the bands of your ayoke, and made you go upright.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Oh, Bean!

Ben outside the Supreme Court

When my brother Ben was little, he was playing one day with a little neighbor girl, Rachel Harrison. Who knows what kind of monkey business the two were up to when for some strange reason, a dresser fell on Ben. Little Rachel was so worried that she shrieked, "Oh, Bean, are you ok? Bean?" She was a little confused--but we like to repeat the phrase.

Ben stopped by for a quick visit this weekend. He had just finished a 6-week internship in Vermont with an outdoor magazine, where he camped in his truck the whole time. I was quite impressed with his resourcefulness and ability to save money--he showed me his whole set-up with a big tank of propane for his stove, his mountain bike, his bed--it all fit nicely. He made friends with the old man who ran the campground and offered to do work in exchange for a free stay and use of their showers--he actually built a huge fire ring after his day job. One week it rained for almost a week straight. Ben would finish his day's work, then go sit in his cab until he rigged up a tarp so he could at least fire up his stove in the back of the truck. I have to hand it to him--he certainly knows how to make things work.

We had a great time--seeing the monuments at night, touring the Capitol, the Museum of the American Indian, and the Air and Space Museum, and wandering around Georgetown. I love this kid.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

La Festa di Pesca

It just sounds so much better in Italian than in English--The Peach Fest. But that's what we had last night. 'Tis the season, and I'm a believer! Jessica grilled pork chops with a peach glaze and made this amazing peach salsa with avocado and tomatoes. We added a green salad and grilled green and yellow squash for color and vitamins. For dessert, Suzanne made this amazing peach crisp with blueberries, and I found a recipe for peach gelato (no ice cream maker necessary) that I of course had to try. It turned out delightful! The perfect texture--oh the Italian memories--and great flavor. And it was so easy... now I want to try it with other fruits. Do you think it would work with watermelon?!?

3 pounds peaches, peeled and pitted
1/4 cup fine sugar
1/2 cup yogurt (the recipe called for mascarpone or yogurt. I just used vanilla yogurt).

Cut up the fruit--the smaller chunks the better. Place on a cookie sheet and freeze until frozen solid (about 2 hours). Grind in blender with sugar, then add yogurt. Blend until smooth. Place in a container and return to freezer for 20 to 30 minutes before serving. If the ice cream freezes all the way through, put it through the blender before serving.

So my tender mercy is this: Enjoy the season!