In 1996 I came to the US with my two best friends from University. Under the guise of research and spending a travel grant, we planned to spend six weeks looking at contemporary American art. What really happened is that we spent two weeks in New York where it was too hot to go to many galleries, then two weeks traveling across country in an old Greyhound bus (no galleries in the Grand Canyon that we found. Having said that we had such dodgy stomachs by then that we didn’t stray far from the Portaloo’s so we didn’t even see all that much of the Canyon) then two weeks in fabulous San Francisco where we maybe went to three galleries, tops. It was an excellent fantastic holiday although the extreme August heat plus living in a bus for two weeks with a bunch of other “travelers” rendered us all a little grumpy at times. But, every now and then in a quiet moment one of us would look at the others and say “I’m having a perfect moment”. What a fantastic feeling.
By the time we got to San Francisco we were all excruciatingly broke. Fortunately we were staying in a hostel in Chinatown so we could get mountains of food for very little money, although we often had no idea what we had ordered or what we were eating. Our days were filled with an enormous amount of walking and partaking in a variety of free activities. Like walking. And looking. We happened to be at a record store listening to music on the communal headphones one day when we realised that Suzanne Vega would be performing later in the week to promote her upcoming album, Nine Objects of Desire. Two of us were excited, the other sadly not at all. On the day we went to the store, watched the great acoustic set (Unimpressed Friend was listening to the new George Michael album on headphones in the back of the store) then lined up to get copies of Suzanne Vega’s CD signed. Unimpressed Friend was particularly unimpressed when we asked/ pleaded/ instructed her to queue with us to get an extra signed copy. The closer we got to the front of the line, the more nervous I became. I am somewhat socially inept in a shy/ sweaty hands kind of fashion, plus I have an inability to say my name (2 syllables, very easy) in a way that other people can understand (I learned this in my telemarketing days, oh the glamour;
Me: Hi my name is Helen and I’m calling on behalf of FDS Market Research…
Random Person: What’s your name?
Random Person: What?
Random Person: Kelly?
Me: No, Helen
Random Person: Claire?
Me: No, Helen
Random Person: Ellen?
). Anyway, I liked Suzanne Vega but I would not say I was an enormous fan. When it was finally our turn to meet her, I sweatily stammered, “Hi, er. great set. Er, really good. Thanks. Er, can you sign this ‘To Helen’ please” “What name?” “Helen” “Kelly?” “Er, no…” And so on until eventually she understood and I got a signed album, and on we went, Unimpressed Friend being staggeringly unimpressed. Rather than treasuring my signed album, I find it to be more of an awkward reminder of my social ineptitude plus my starstruck awe at speaking to someone famous. Cool, I am not.
The point of such rambling being twofold. This evening, after bathing Little A and listening to L read her bedtime stories while I fed Baby N in the next room I thought, for the first time in years, “I’m having a perfect moment.” Having two kids is great, exhaustion and craziness and unrelenting chaos aside. This is beautiful. (Having said that I think I may be going crazy- I just asked L where he’d put Baby N down and if she was asleep- and she is laying here on my lap as I type. I got hardly any sleep last night, I’m obviously unhinged). But the second part of this epic entry is to say this. Today at the Mall of America we met friends in Barnes & Noble for coffee and toddler train set time (except virtually all the trains were mysteriously absent. Probably recalled) and noticed an enormous poster advertising an upcoming book signing. Rachael Ray will be right here, right now on December 17th. Part of me wants to go and say hi and tell her what we’re doing, but 99.99999% of me believes that would just be the most excruciatingly embarrassing thing ever. As we have mentioned mainly in the comments, we are neither fans nor foes of Rachael Ray. I admire her drive and energy and commitment and success, but I am ambivalent towards her as a person. But knowing me, I’d still be all stammery and uncomfortable to meet her in person. Plus, we’d have to queue all day- and with L at work and with 2 kids to entertain, it is more than unlikely that I’d get there.
So, tonight we made Sweet Sea Scallops in a Caper-Raisin Sauce. The capers were pan fried in olive oil at a high heat, and simply seasoned with salt and pepper.They were served in a simple sauce made by frying shallots with salt and pepper, adding parsley and capers and white wine with a sprinkling of golden raisins and a splash of lemon juice. The scallops and sauce were served with a green salad and crusty bread. The scallops were beautiful; this method of cooking them is the simplest, and best, that we have come across. The sauce was very caper-heavy, caper-centric in fact. It was not until I had eaten a few forkfulls that I remembered that there were raisins in the meal. The sauce is good, but if you didn’t like capers I would stay very far away from this recipe. If we made this again, I would add more sweetness, to counteract the sharpness of the capers. More raisins or perhaps a wee squirt of honey would probably do the trick. The delicacy of the scallops with the tangy sauce could have been paired a little better; we both felt that some boiled new potatoes and maybe some green beans or asparagus would have been a better fit than salad and bread. The dish could benefit from a bit of bland stodginess to cleanse the palate. Overall though, this was a very pleasant dinner- it was particularly nice to have fresh (by which I mean previously frozen) rather than frozen scallops.
Tomorrow we will be having Veal, Chicken, or Fish Francese with Lemon and Wine. We are yet to purchase our protein source, who knows what it’ll be. The choice, it is bewildering. I bet we’ll end up with more chicken.