Sunday, December 27, 2009

A is for Allium

Aioli, Alioli, Aglio e Olio, Allium; it all spells garlic to me!
This post combines two of my favorite things: words and food.
It's been quite a while since I last wrote a post in my ongoing series on interesting words as I read through the dictionary. Here was the original idea.

This post arose from a discussion about the difference between aioli and alioli and which came first. It was the wonderfully gifted cooks in our family who began the discussion, but the word- and food-lover in me brought me into the discussion.

It seems that aïoli, French for garlic and oil, from the Provence region of France, contains egg, as well as garlic and oil. So, it is pale yellow and creamy, like mayonnaise. One of many uses for it is as a dip, for sliced, raw vegetables. More info here and here.

Alioli, on the other hand, a sauce from Spain and a word that came from the Catalan language (but ultimately from Latin "allium") contains no egg. Of course, as in many things regarding cooking, that is a matter of opinion, as one can see from this recipe for patatas alioli, one of our favorite Spanish tapas.

Add to this list a favorite from our sojourn in Italy, Aglio e Olio.

The English A-word for all this garlic wonderfulness is Allium, "a large genus of Liliaceous plants, of which garlic, the onion, leek, chive, shallot, and the British wild flower Ramsons are species," according to the OED [Latin: allium, garlic, of unkn. origin].

Finally, here's a great recipe for garlic bread, done in the style of one of our favorite Tokyo eateries, Ninnikuya.

Here's a fine recipe for crackers and roasted garlic hummus.
For (at last count) 26 mouth-watering recipes involving Garlic, check out the Beans Blog, our favorite food blog.

Finally, our friends sent us this picture, and although I don't completely understand it, I kind of like it!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Fantastic Fiction

How to keep on top of the latest works of your favorite authors? Especially if you have a lot of favorite authors?

Check out Fantastic Fiction.
Bibliographies for over 25,000 authors. Use the browse menu to find an author by surname, or use the search boxes to search for an author or book.
Information on over 300,000 books. Throughout the site, just click on a book to see its cover picture, description and publication details

Friday, December 25, 2009

Little House on the Prairie

We went to see "Little House on the Prairie" at the Buell tonight. Melissa Gilbert (Laura on the TV series for so many years) played Ma. It was great.

Here we are outside the theater (Jimmy's the camera man.)

Here's Hannah hamming it up for the camera after the show.

Kathy's collection of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the program from the event.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Chag Chanukah Sameach!

Zot Hanukkah!

Pam Preparing

Candles Unlit

Servants Lit

Another View

Ocho Candelas (Cada Uno)
The celebration of the season of the Festival of Lights has ended for another year. May we carry the light through the new year and beyond to brighten all our days and the world as a whole.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Christmas Cookie Party

For the past few years, our friend, Ingrid, has organized a Christmas Cookie Party. It's a great time for some friends to get together, share a meal, and share some Christmas goodies.

The Group

The Goodies

An Assortment of Soups on a Cold Winter's Day

Some Lively Conversation and Some Knitting

Sunday, December 06, 2009

La Tienda, the best of Spain in America

What's a blog for if not to share your favorite things with your readers?
And one of our very favorite things is the store operated by our dear friends, Don and Ruth Harris, and their family. If you're looking to taste the flavors of Spain and to learn of that country's customs and traditions, check out their online store, La Tienda. They have been operating successfully online for twelve years, and we have taken full advantage of their offerings of Spanish products during that time. Now, they are opening a retail store in the Williamsburg, Virginia area. We wish we could be there for the grand opening, but alas, Colorado is a long way from Virginia.
We were stationed with the Harrises years ago in Rota, Spain, and neither family has lost its fondness for that country and its people. The Harrises have perpetuated that love and connection with Spain and things Spanish through their wonderful store, online and now on land. We wish them the best and encourage anyone looking for Spanish goodies of any kind to check out their site.

Grand Opening of the La Tienda Retail Store

La Tienda recently announced the opening of its new retail store in Williamsburg, Virginia! After 12 years of offering the best of Spain through its web site, they are excited to provide their loyal customers a retail experience that is worth the journey.
Located on Jamestown Road, just two miles from Colonial Williamsburg, the new store is in the historic brick Whitehall building. Featuring wood floors, skylight and a wine tasting room, it is a place they can truly welcome you for a visit. And with over 2,000 feet of floor space, there is plenty of room to browse their hundreds of authentic Spanish foods, wines and ceramics.

Join the Grand Opening celebration on Thursday, December 10th, from 10 AM - 7 PM. There will be Spanish food to sample throughout the day, and they'll be tasting Spanish wines at 3 PM. They'll be sampling food and wine again on Saturday from 12 noon - 6 PM. They will be open Saturdays and Sundays during the holiday season. So if you can't make it Thursday, please visit over the weekend to sample Spain's best and see what their new store has to offer!

Grand Opening Celebration
Thursday, December 10th, 10 AM - 7 PM
Wine tasting: 3 PM
Saturday, December 12th, 12 noon - 6 PM

1325 Jamestown Road, Williamsburg VAPhone: 757-345-5623
Get Google Map and directions

Holiday Hours
Tuesday - Thursday, 9:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Friday - Saturday, 9:00 AM - 7:00 PM
Sunday, 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Monday, closed

Check out La Tienda for wonderful gifts for the holidays.

A top selection of tapas.

Paella supplies.
A fine selection of wines, cheeses, olives.
Items like their padron peppers.

Check out La Tienda at

Other things you may want to check out:
Articles and tips about Spain and Spanish cooking
Kitchen and Table Items
Mantecados and Polvorones
Toiletries and Bath Products
and many, many more.

Congratulations to the Harrises on a wonderful store and the opening of their first brick and mortar establishment. For more on this fascinating family, find a picture and story here.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

Thinking and Thanking

I think and I thank. Thinking, I thank. I think, therefore I thank. Cogito ergo gratias ago? (Apologies to Descartes!) Because I think, I thank. When I think on all the lovely things on which I think, it makes me want to thank someone. I look outside myself for someone to thank. Who to thank? It is not of my doing. There must be another, maker or made, who did something for me, so that thinking, I must thank another. When I meditate on the marvels of existence, when I remember the riotous colors of creation, the exquisite harmonies of the universe, when I catch a glimpse of the sparks of the transcendent, when I feel the warmth and appreciation of another, I thank. Thoughtfulness leads to thankfulness.

Thinking of the things for which I thank, I am filled with grace. The grace that is given causes grace in the one to whom given. Thus, in Urbs Aeterna, Italia, and Sefarad, gratia, gratias, grazia, grazie, gracia, gracias reflect the full of graceness, gracefulness, gratefulness of those granted grace. And who the grantor? Where the giver of grace? Another. A thou. A you. Always one to whom we, thinking, are gracefully thankful. Grace is gratis, freely given, never coerced. Freely gotten, not grabbed. Grazia. Gratis. Grazie!

Gallic grace grows from mercy given. Kindness, pardon, forgiveness received. Mercy. Merci! Beaucoup. A lot. All this mercy. Whence? From whom? Someone to whom to say “Merci beaucoup.” One like me and more, different from, and yet? Shadow. Image. Umbra. Fellow. Friend. Always another. So close at hand. To thank.

Western Iberians, those of the warm, beautiful port, owned an obligation incurred from the merciful grace given. Obrigado! The merciful grace, freely given and gotten, obligates its owners to reach out, speak out, be out in thinkful, thoughtful, thankful, thankfulness. Obrigado opens to the other, another, the you that does for us the thoughtful thing that obligates us (freely) to thank.

Hellenists eucharistically honored and honor the gift of gracefully given mercy-kindness-favor. Charis. The good gifts. Eucharisto. Good thoughts of these gifts. Eugnomon. Full of good thinking, full of thanking.

The bearish denizens of the frozen north, followers in writing of Cyril, shout the salvific kindness-goodness, given mercifully and gracefully to save, preserve, support, and succor. Spasebo! To you and you and other you. Slava Bogu! To the one You. Glory!

At the crossroads of the world, in The Place, the least yet the greatest of the world’s peoples must do more than remember, mouth, think, savor, believe, honor, shout the mercy-kindness-goodness-love-warmth, gracefully and mercifully showered upon them. They must do. Todah! Use the hands to give, to do, to repair, to mercy, to grace, to reach out, to undertake, to build, to teach, to inspire, to bless, to help, to praise, to raise up, to heal, to transform, to uplift, to magnify, to bring forth, to create, to lift up the hands and one another, to elevate every adamish act to a qaddish one infused with the likeness of the One to whom thanks are due now and to evermore, l’olam va’ed.

And so on this Thanksgiving Day in the United States of America in 2009, a day set apart by our elders, our forebears, our go-beforers, the patriarchs and matriarchs, who in their wisdom, set apart this one day especially (as a shining example of what every day should be) to give thanks especially to the One from whom we have received bounty inestimable and also to one another for the kindness, goodness, favors, honor, and love without which life would not be worth living, and without which we might question why we are here, but in the presence of which we understand, we are simply thoughtful, thinkful, thankful.

O You, knelt-kneeling fountain of all goodness, our self-existent powerful One, guide-sustainer-provider of all space and all time, who brings into being all things by the breath of life, we call you Blessed, and give you thinking, thoughtful, grateful, graceful, obligated-yet-gratis merci beaucoup, eucharisto, todah rabah, grazie mille, thanks a thousand, million, lots and lots, a whole bunch, spasebo, thanks forever and ever, v’imru
Previous Thanksgiving Thoughts
Thanksgiving 2004

Friday, November 06, 2009


William Safire's Fumblerules
Self-contradicting Rules for Writing

The self-styled language maven William Safire authored a language column in the New York Times for over 30 years. During that time, he compiled a clever but useful list of self-contradicting rules for writing. He called it his Fumblerules.
After perusing the list, you may imagine Mr. Safire to have been a language absolutist, a pedant eschewing every neologism and exception to a rule. In fact, such was not the case. Safire found himself criticized from both ends of the linguistic spectrum, prescriptivist and descriptivist alike.
Consider fumblerule 41, for example: "Remember to never split an infinitive." In his book Fumblerules, A Lighthearted Guide to Grammar and Good Usage, Safire explains not only that it is perfectly acceptable to split an infinitive but how, when, and why you might decide to unabashedly split an infinitive. (Besides, as my cousin Bobby points out, the whole "don't-split-an-infinitive" taboo comes from Latin, in which it is impossible to split an infinitive, since Latin infinitives are one word, not two.)
When it came to new words, Safire approved, but with a proviso: “I welcome new words, or old words used in new ways, provided the result is more precision, added color or greater expressiveness.”
Mr. Safire loved language and loved to play with language. An avid paronomasiac, he punned on his self-styled mavenhood in his book, Quoth the Maven.
Here are 51 Fumblerules. Each one is self-contradictory, that is, it violates the rule it tells the reader to avoid.
1. No sentence fragments.
2. Avoid run-on sentences they are hard to read.
3. A writer must not shift your point of view.
4. Do not put statements in the negative form.
5. Don't use contractions in formal writing.
6. The adverb always follows the verb.
7. Don’t use Capital letters without good REASON.
8. It behooves us to avoid archaisms.
9. Reserve the apostrophe for it's proper use and omit it when its not needed.
10. A preposition is something never to end a sentence with.
11. Write all adverbial forms correct.
12. In their writing, everyone should make sure that their pronouns agree with its antecedent.
13. Use the semicolon properly, use it between complete but related thoughts; and not between an independent clause and a mere phrase.
14. Don't use no double negatives.
15. Also, avoid awkward or affected alliteration.
16. When a dependent clause precedes an independent clause put a comma, after the dependent clause.
17. If I've told you once, I've told you a thousand times: Resist hyperbole.
18. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
19. Avoid commas, that are not necessary.
20. Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
21. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
22. “The male pronoun embraces the female” is a nonsexist standard that should be followed by all humankind.
23. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
24. The passive voice should never be used.
25. Writing carefully, dangling participles should be avoided.
26. Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!!
27. Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
28. The rigid rule of “i before e except after c” raises spelling to a science.
29. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.
30. Use parallel structure when you write and in speaking.
31. Boycott eponyms.
32. Ixnay on colloquial stuff.
33. Of all the rules about indefinite pronouns, none is useful.
34. Zap onomatopoeia.
35. Resist new verb forms that have snuck into the language.
36. Better to walk through the valley of the shadow of death than to string prepositional phrases.
37. You should just avoid confusing readers with misplaced modifiers.
38. One will not have needed the future perfect tense in one’s entire life.
39. Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences—such as those of 10 or more words—to their antecedents.
40. Eschew dialect, irregardless.
41. Remember to never split an infinitive.
42. Take the bull by the hand and don’t mix metaphors.
43. Don’t verb nouns.
44. De-accession euphemisms.
45. Always pick on the correct idiom.
46. If this were subjunctive, I’m in the wrong mood.
47. Never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
48. "Avoid overuse of 'quotation "marks." '"
49. Never use prepositions to end sentences with.
50. If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
51. Last but not least, avoid clichés like the plague.

For more about William Safire, look here and here.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Happy Birthday, Jimmy

Happy Birthday, Jimmy
We Love You!
The Many Facets of Jimmy

Thursday, October 29, 2009

First Blizzard 2009

Some may argue my characterization of our recent weather phenomenon as a blizzard, but at the very least it was our first heavy snowstorm. It blew in yesterday, lasted the better part of two days, and left a couple feet of snow behind. Here's the front of the house.
I had to dust a little snow off my car.
Trudging through the Great, White North (actually, it's just our backyard).
That evergreen tree was about her height when we moved in.
Clearing the way to the barbecue.

Preparing for the barbecue.

Gotta love Colorado. You can barbecue year round. When we first moved to Colorado, I marveled at people in their shorts in the winter. As our daughter says, I have completely acclimatized. (For my "steak recipe," check out her blog here.)

Many schools and businesses closed yesterday and today, along with large stretches of interstates 25 and 70. Most Denverites chose to stay inside and enjoy the warmth of their homes. Our Nuggets managed to play their season opener at the Pepsi Center last night and prevailed over the Utah Jazz for their first victory of the newborn NBA season.

Mi-ke (pronounced Mee-kay, Japanese for calico) thought she wanted to go outside but soon changed her mind.