We are three sisters united in our search for the divine - in food, libation, literature, art, and nature. This blog will capture the true, sometimes decadent, at times humorous, and every so often transcendent adventures of the Salvation Sisters.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Avalon and Sonora's Favorite Chimichurri

The Memory Keepers by Michelle

Juliette's daughters, Sonora and Avalon at Goat Rock Beach, Sonoma County.
-----Original Message-----
From: "Michelle"
To: "Linda"
Sent: Tuesday
Subject: oregano

Hi Linda... do you have oregano in the yard? I need a 1/4 cup for the chimichurri. If not, will you bring some home?

-----Original Message-----
From: "Linda"
To: "Michelle"
Sent: Tuesday
Subject: RE: oregano

There is quite a bit of oregano in the front herb patch. If it is too wet to go out there let me know, and I will buy some. Do you need parsley, too?

-----Original Message-----
From: "Michelle"
To: "Linda"
Sent: Tuesday
Subject: Re: oregano

I have plenty of parsley, so I went ahead and doubled the recipe. The recipe also has bay leaves. I just went in search of oregano in the yard and managed to get wet, so if you can please bring some home, along with fresh bay leaves that would be great. Thank you! Your the best. Really. Don't change a thing - not for me, not for you.

The mermaid sculpture by Patrick Amiot lives on Florence Avenue in Sebastopol.
-----Original Message-----
From: "Michelle"
To: "Juliette"
Cc: "Linda"
Sent: Tuesday
Subject: Buckets of rain

Hi Juliette:
   I can't believe that the girls will be going home tomorrow. It's almost ten-thirty and they are both still asleep - Sonora on the couch and Avalon in the loft. Teenagers! I was able to (thankfully) complete all the "nice" weather activities - Sebastopol, San Francisco, Goat Rock Beach, Bodega Bay, Armstrong Woods - before the rain started last night. Invariably I woke throughout the night and each time I'd think to myself, "Man, it's really coming down." If it rained that long and that consistently in Tucson, everything would be flooded - the yard, the roads, but so far so good here.
   The lights flickered on and off a few times this morning and Linda looked a little (errr, super) panicked, green eyes opened wide, as though she was recalling the torrential rain of a couple years ago when she moved to Guerneville and the subsequent loss of power that lasted for days. She directed me, store-team-leader-style, to find the saints candles in the bulging storage room (head scratch, where are those candles tucked away.. they love to play hide and seek much to my chagrin) and to stop and buy ice in case we need to store refrigerated items in the ice chest later today should the power go out. Semper paratus - always prepard - is our battle cry. 

Lunch at Boudin. We adored the sourdough loaf shaped like a crab.
   Driving Maddie to school wasn't too bad on the debris strewn roads because we left ten minutes early and there were fewer cars than usual navigating the backroads of Sonoma County. Both Maddie and I got to wear our new fashion rain gear - new rubber boots and gortex-like jackets. Maddie looked really cute exiting the truck with scarf draped around her neck and opened umbrella in hand.
   After promising the girls their beloved chimichurri upon arrival, I have failed to produce it, so I decided I'd stop by Whole Foods Sebastopol this morning, even in the torrential rain (great aunt that I am), to buy the necessary ingredients to make it for them later today. I think it will go well with the tri-tip burritos we're making for dinner tonight, and knowing them, even if I make a double-batch, the "bestest" sauce in the whole world will be gone before they depart.
   Our final activity is to go ice skating. We'll pick-up Maddie from school, drop by the Sebastopol library and then drive to the rink in Santa Rosa. The skating session is from 4:30 to 6:00. Linda works until 6:30 tonight, so the timing will work out well to have dinner here at the house. I know Linda will miss hanging out in Snoopy's Warm Puppy Café with me. She loves the lack of stimulation and paper cups. We have a gas stove so if the electricity goes out, we'll still be able to make dinner, but we might be eating by candle light. Girl party! Forkin' down the food by candlelight, what could be better?

Django, our "regal" standard Poodle.
   Django is pissing me off. He won't go outside and pee in the rain. He just stands on the patio, sniffing the air and blinking his eyes. When I do the usual snap of my fingers and dramtically point to the yard, he is supposed to run right out and do his business. As Oprah would say, that is something he knows "for sure". Instead he looks at me in a confused manner like he is trying to divide 900 by 64.
   In my frustration, I pulled a Dad and kicked him in the derrière. This just made him run away and cower next to the gate. Surprise... difficult as it is to believe, I did not get my desired result. I don't think I will own another pet after Django. I find pets, in general, too aggravating. You probably will not understand since you, like Dr. Doolittle, can talk to the animals.You should have seen me, Juliette, wiping Django's ass yesterday with a paper towel. He had a poop stuck to his hairy butt and since Maddie couldn't get the job done, I had to finish it. Fun times. Quite the scene for your girls to witness.
   I have literally taken hundreds of photos of the girls. They've been good sports about it, but they probably think I'm a big weirdo. (Remember cousin David called me Baby Weirdo when we were kids?)  Although, come to think of it, Linda would probably win the biggest weirdo prize of the week. Just ask the girls about the night Linda was reading to them articles from the internet, that she embellished during the delivery, all the while ratcheting-up the entertainment factor by belching away.
   Alrighty then, it's almost eleven. The girls are still asleep, but I think I'll get going on the chimichurri although they did request a cooking lesson on the subject. That might have to wait until another day. The ladies are on vacation - might as well let them sleep. I suppose I should take a shower too. It is agony taking a shower in this adorable, uninsulated, little summer cabin we call home when it is "ice-ice, baby" in the mornings. It will be 2:45 before I know it, and then it will be off to pick-up Maddie from school, so I should get moving.
   I hope you've had a productive week without the girls. We've had fun with them here. I always enjoy my time with them. Maddie will be sad to see her cousins go. It's like having her own sisters when they are with us. More soon... Love, Michelle

Long lines at Ghirardelli for ice cream sundaes that are worth the wait.

Exit the cable car at Fisherman's Wharf and walk directly to Ghirardelli Square.
----- Original Message -----
From: "Linda"
To: "Juliette"
Cc: "Michelle"
Sent: Tuesday
Subject: Re: Buckets of rain

Dearest Juliette~
   Here are my additional notes in response to Michelle's email... she sometimes forgets a few details, and I will be more than happy to provide them for you now.
   Anytime I give Michelle a "suggestion", she thinks that I am trying to "manage" her. Anyone who knows me, knows that I am gentle and mild, and might occasionally advise a course of action. Telling her to find candles and purchase ice just seemed common sense... and, thanks to me and my timely suggestions, Michelle and Maddie were both outfitted with sensible and fashionable rain gear today.

Linda's solution: homework by headlamp.
   I also, in my nurturing way, provided them with an emergency lantern and a flashlight that winds up instead of needing batteries before I left the house for work. Lord knows I am looking out for them every minute of the day. At the end of my busy day yesterday, I managed to stop at Lowe's and buy a tarp for the wood table on the patio literally just minutes before the deluge ensued. Whew!! I bet they are super glad to have me around with a sensible head on my shoulders.
   A side note... Michelle is making chimichurri today, however she failed to be able to identify fresh oregano which abounds in the herb garden in the front yard. We do not have any for sale in the store today, so I will graciously come to her rescue and tromp through the mud and pouring rain to procure oregano for her sauce when I get home from work. We will work on her herbal identification skills this coming spring. I should have her mixing up tinctures in no time.
   Django does indeed seem to have a brain the size of a walnut. That, and he has more energy than a pack of boy sextuplets... a really bad combo. He fortunately has an iron bladder - no accidents so far - and when he has the sticky poo problem he stands squeezed up against the glass in the front door and attempts to eject the lodged poo in front of us by continually flexing his tail and hips. This usually happens when we are eating. It is a great dieting tool.
   Since Michelle still has not taken Django to be groomed, the sticky poo seems to be happening more frequently, since according to Michelle, it is an important part of poodle grooming to shave the a-hole. He also smells more than bad at this late date. I can only imagine how rain will enhance the fragrance. I plan to bring Michelle home some handy laytex gloves today from work so the next time that poor Django needs attention she can get right in there and do the job properly.
   In my defense, I do admit to embellishing a few details in the articles that I was reading to the girls to entertain and educate them, however; I certainly don't recall engaging in any unladylike behavior that would set a bad example for my precious nieces.
   On a serious note, it has been fun to have Avalon and Sonora here... and we will miss them!!
xxxoooxxx, Linda Lou

Renewing their sisterly vows in the sacred redwood forest of Armstrong Grove.
----- Original Message ----

From: "Juliette"
To: "Linda"
Cc: "Michelle"
Sent: Tuesday
Subject: Re: Buckets of rain

OMG - you guys are killing me. I needed a good laugh, and so far I have had two today. I am really sick of sugar skulls right about now. I did make my favorite one EVER last night... El Diablo. He rocks! I will send pictures later. Back to it.

Everyone enjoys skating at Snoopy's Home Ice.
----- Original Message ----
From: "Michelle"
To: "Linda"
Cc: "Juliette"
Sent: Tuesday
Subject: Re: Buckets of rain

Funny e-mail, Linda. Touché.

Parsley Chimichurri

   Once upon a time, many, many years ago, I arrived late one evening in Orlando, Florida. I was tired from a long day of traveling, and all I wanted was a little food in my stomach, a glass of wine (not necessarily in that order), and thereafter a quiet room, with a good mattress, in which to pass a pleasant night's sleep.
   I arrived at the Disney Coronado Springs Hotel, dropped my luggage in the hotel room and immediately proceeded to find the nearest restaurant, which turned out to be the Maya Grill. It seemed a little ironic to depart from the southwest to travel 2,000 miles just to find myself checked-in to a southwest themed resort.

Disney's Coronado Springs Hotel and Conference Center in Orlando, Florida.
  I promptly ordered the aforementioned wine, a dinner salad, and soup. As I waited patiently for sustenance to arrive, a basket of flatbread arrived accompanied by a little bowl of green sauce - proof that I was indeed in the magic kingdom. I could not identify the sauce, but ever the adventurist, I dove right in to discover a tasty revelation. I loved it, but could not name it. Could this be? The woman with owns hundreds of cookbooks had just experienced a first?    I asked the waiter about the mysterious sauce and discovered chimichurri. After patiently answering several questions about the sauce, the waiter disappeared and then quickly returned with a little piece of white paper, the recipe printed upon it. Bonus points! The waiter earned a very nice tip from one tired, but grateful traveler.

Flat leaf "Italian" parsley.
   Over the years, I have made many chimichurris. The following version is a slight adaption of a recipe found in Latin Flavors On The Grill (10 Speed Press, 2000) by Douglas Rodriguez, one of my favorite cookbooks. I had the great fortune of dining at his restaurant in Philadelphia, but that's another story.
   My nieces, Avalon and Sonora request that I make this sauce before every visit. I always double this recipe for a party, or if my nieces are staying for a spell. The ladies will eat the chimichurri on just about anything including scrambled eggs. More traditionally, chimichurri is terrific with grilled beef. One of my favorite meals is stuffed flank steak served with chimichurri and Roasted Tomato Gratin. The vibrant sauce is also exceptional, exactly how I experienced it the first time, served as a spread with grilled flatbreads or focaccia. The chimichurri will last for about a week in the refrigerator, or if Avalon or Sonora are in the house, about two days.

Fresh bay leaves and roughly chopped jalapeño.
6 cloves garlic, peeled
3 fresh bay leaves
2 jalapeño chiles, stemmed, seeded and finely diced
1-1/2 Tbsps sea salt
1/2 cup finely minced fresh curly parsley
1/2 cup finely minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup finely minced fresh oregano
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch green onions, both white and green parts, sliced into thin rounds
1. Using a chef's knife, you can mince everything using your great knife skills. Or, you can use a food processor to do the work:
2. In a food processor, fitted with a steel blade, and with the motor running, add the garlic cloves through the feed tube. Rough cut the jalapeño, and add through the feed tube. Remove the leaves of parsley and oregano, discarding the stems. Add leaves to the garlic and jalapeños. Roughly cut the bay leaves and add to the parsley and oregano. Process until finely chopped. Transfer the mixture to a bowl.
3. Add salt, vinegar and oil. Stir until well combined. Add sliced green onions, stir again, and serve. 

What could be better than Juliette's Sourdough Bread dipped in Chimichurri?
Linda will happily confirm, free of charge, that this is a photo of oregano leaves.

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