Weed Pie

 It's not what you think.  I was staying with my sister's future in-law's the summer before she got married in New Hampshire.  I needed an excuse not to stay in my hometown between college semesters and this seemed like a perfect opportunity.  As a thank-you for letting me be their summer dependent, I decided to bake them a pie.  I love making pie and grew up cutting rhubarb in our backyard in Montana and baking with my mom.

 The Rines' family had an extensive garden on their property and I was allowed to use whatever I wanted to bake with.  After confirming the location of their rhubarb plant before they left in the morning, I set out to the garden to gather up ingredients.  I decided on strawberry rhubarb to offset the bitterness, after all, rhubarb is kind of intense on its own.

When preparing the pie I thought "wow, this rhubarb is really spongey and tough..."  The pie took a ridiculous amount of time to bake too.  When it finally finished and I served it up after dinner everyone sort of took one bite then ate around and pushed the rest of the rhubarb to the side of their plates with the exception of Glen, my sister's future father-in-law.  Glen scarfed his whole piece down and then proceeded to pluck off the remaining rhubarb pieces from the other plates.  Pinky, the future-mother-in-law piped up and said "where did you find this rhubarb?"   as she poked at it with her fork and toppled it over examining how it fell.  Realizing something wasn't quite right I said sheepishly "In front of the chicken coop?"

"The rhubarb plant is in front of the greenhouse....I don't even know what is growing in front of the chicken coop.  I've never planted anything there."  She said with a certain amount of fear in her voice.

I had an internal panic attack and my mind raced thinking about how I might have just poisoned my sister's future in-laws and how this lovely night might end in the E.R. with everyone getting their stomach pumped.  We all shuffled out to the garden and I pointed out the plant that I had harvested for the pie.  

"That is a weed! " Pinky exclaimed.  "I think it's burdock!"

We all ran back to the house and quickly googled "burdock" for reassurance and any information about possible poisoning.  Thank God it has medicinal properties of blood purification and not high potency poison!  I had just assumed that New England rhubarb was a little fuzzier and spongier than Montana rhubarb....turns out that's not true at all.




It's rare that my dad's side of the family can all gather together for Thanksgiving so my aunt Terry decided to rectify this problem.  Her boyfriend Mike is an amazingly talented baker who is always cooking up more than the two can healthily eat, so maybe this was a solution to multiple problems.  

Celebrate a Thanksgiving do-over in February.  It's brilliant really, because it is still cold outside and everyone has already given up on their dietary new years resolutions.  Why not pick a random weekend in an otherwise, let's be honest, dismal month and do Thanksgiving the way it was meant to be done... as Febsgiving.  

Here are a few reason's why celebrating Febsgiving is awesome:

1. Traveling to anywhere is MUCH easier in February than it will ever be for Thanksgiving.

2. Turkey is cheap and it is easy to procure all the ingredients for anything you're cooking without a huge rush at the grocery store.

3. Family tensions are considerably less... not gone... just significantly reduced because there is no obligation.

4.  It's ok to have pie for breakfast, because, c'mon! It's Febsgiving!


Febsgiving has become such a cornerstone in the family holiday calendar now, after 3 years that I no longer even worry about my plans for Thanksgiving.  In fact, I am using Thanksgiving as a recipe testing event to plan what I will really make for Febsgiving!  

In an age when it's hard to keep track of all the holidays that are being observed and by whom, why not add another made-up one to the mix that everyone can get behind?  Be Thankful in February... and have an added sense of sincerity because you weren't forced to be there and it didn't cost you an arm and a leg or massive airline drama!   Happy Febsgiving!



 "What do you after one of the best day of your life?" Masato asked me after we had a truly amazing day in Mendoza, Argentina horseback riding, eating asado bbq and then swimming in a natural water pool overlooking the valley. 

"Drink wine!" I said.  And so we did.  

Our college photography professor bought an apartment in Montevideo, Uruguay with his wife several years ago and invited any of his former students to come visit during the summer he was there learning Spanish.  Masato and I looked at each other and said "Lets's go!"  

We stayed for about week in Montevideo then traveled to Colonia and caught a ferry to Buenos Aires.  I convinced Masato to by-pass Buenos Aires and head straight for Mendoza which was where my favorite wine, Malbec came from.  With great hesitation he agreed but was immediately enthusiastic about the trip when we won Spanish bingo on the overnight bus which granted us a free bottle of wine.

We spent only 3 days in Mendoza but made a ton of friends at the hostel we stayed at and through the various activities we tried.  Although I did grow up in Montana, I consider my experience in Mendoza to be the first time I really rode a horse.  

Masato and I also learned the trick to getting a ride back to your hostel after a long day of biking around wineries with free tastings; get a flat tire.  We thought we were doomed realizing his tire was completely flat and the hour at which the bikes needed to be returned was fast approaching though we were a considerable distance away.

 "Not to worry!"  Announced the woman hosting the tours at the winery.  "Come into the air conditioning, I'll get you some cold rosé and we will call the bike company."  We shrugged our shoulders and accepted her request.  It was far better than riding all the way back to the beginning in the heat of the day after several samples of wine!   As we sat looking out on the vineyard another woman working there explained that she used to sing cabaret shows and would we mind if she sang for us?  Again we shrugged sipping our cool rosé, reclining in our chairs and let her proceed.  

Apparently it is just really unfortunate if you get a flat tire but not worth a penalty of any sort.   The best thing to do is just pick you up from a comfortable air-conditioned spot and return you to your hostel, wishing you well and hoping you'll tell your friends about Mendoza and the bikes & wine tour.  


Transitional Object: Eggs Benedict

 After graduating from photography school I still didn't quite know what I wanted to do.  I made plans to move to New York after 3 months of spinning my wheels at home with no job and no money.  It seemed to be the biggest and craziest thing I could think of to do and at least I could say I gave it a shot.

One thing was for sure, I could not stay in Montana.

Preparing to move is a task all its own.  Preparing to move without any knowledge of what could possibly lie ahead is downright crazy.  I had never been to New York before and really had never spent any time in cities except a day trip to Boston and passing through Paris while the transit was on strike.  As with any emotional hurdle, my coping mechanism seems to be to find one food that is comforting and eat only that until the initial uncertainty has passed.  Eggs benedict happened to be that transitional food for my mental preparation for New York City.

I would make it in the morning and then sit at the computer eating my eggs benedict and sift through craigslist housing posts for the New York area.  "Where is 'Hell's Kitchen'?" I thought as I sopped up the remaining hollandaise sauce with my english muffin.  "That sounds horrible..."

In the evening all I had to do was rinse the dishes I had used earlier and make another round.  If I was lucky there was extra hollandaise sauce left that I could just reheat.  

It wasn't intentional and probably horrible for my  cholesterol, but it literally was the only thing I craved and wanted to eat while mentally working out this huge transition.  The craving subsided when I finally did make the move and I incorporated a whole new variety of foods into my diet.  One might think I got really sick of eggs benedict after eating solely that for about a week but I think of it more as something I had an attachment to and then outgrew.  I still like eggs benedict, like one might still feel fondly for their childhood stuffed animal.  It was comforting to me.