Monday, November 30, 2009

silurian turkey

Turkey day. I guess it just wouldn't be complete without turkey and ham, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes with gravy, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, ratatouille and a bun. Now add to this a backdrop of some ancient Precambrian, Ordovician and Devonian marine beds, often overturned and interspersed with implied angular unconformities between, served with a side of Pleistocene volcanics and THEN I'm truly satisfied. Like this year. Our family spent the holiday taking in the stunning scenery with a full plate of thanksgiving fare while either eating calmly beside our lovely daughter and her six-dollar smile, or chasing our toddler around a series of gravelly paths hemmed with cactus. Not quite the "norm" for a turkey day celebration in most folks' heads, but with two of these desert middle-of-nowhere kind under our belts, one without kids about ten years ago and one with kids this year, I'm looking forward to more in the future.

But that was just the warm-up. There is more adventure involved, albeit not so gastronomically inclined. You can impress your pink-loving little girl and bring her to find canyons with rocks her favorite color. Then you can witness how nimble her limbs are, climbing about the dry falls and exhibiting her momma's sharp skills. Canyons are rather ubiquitous out here, and many contain areas requiring technical climbing skills. Don't go alone. Keep little ones safe and check out some park info for a nice place to start.

So remember, if you find yourself in the Death Valley region* during the turkey time of year, don't miss out on some bird, drop by Panamint Springs Resort for a nice plate! Then take your family to explore a few of the flash-flood carved water courses, within innumerable canyons, containing a whole palette of earthly colors imaginable. Whew! I really love Death Valley.

Where were you this turkey day?

* put on some geography goggles and you'll realize that this is something akin to saying "if you're ever in Connecticut..."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

cabra delicata

Fearing milk allergies and mucus production, my folks experimented with feeding me goat milk as a child. In rural Sonoma County back in the seventies, this was no way out of the norm. Although I don't remember much of the early diet shift (as it was pre-5 for me; my elder sister was the one who really had to deal with it) I have a long standing love/hate thing with goat products. Okay now, I'll back up just a touch and say overall, I like them, especially the meaty kind. However, pretty much straight across the board, nope on the milk form. Curdle it or age it though and like, wow. Some are simply divine. But cook the creamy products, and for me, all bets are off.

Funny how things happen. I got a package of goat cheese recently, brought it home and noticed it had a cut in the package, likely from a box cutter. The seal was broken. I was looking forward to this on crackers and olive bread but now I doubted serving it to my family. I thought: bring it back, or just cook it? Now, cook it with what? I had some delicata squash about to be cut and roasted in the oven. I started thinking about how dark caramel flavors from the roasted goodness would probably be strong enough to deal with a pound of goat cheese, if in the right form. Maybe add sugar and eggs for safe measure. Time for a cheesecake.

It turned out pretty and all, almost good enough to get into the colorful holiday cheesecake repertoire. Then I took a bite. It was nice and creamy, and the caramel squashiness was perfect. But the overtones of goat were just too damn much for me. I struggled through about half the cake before admitting defeat though. I mean, it was cheesecake after all. Reflecting on it now, I realize this is the second time I've attempted such a thing. Now with two strikes, I'll say with confidence that goaty cheesecake just ain't for me.