This weekend was a pound of butter.
It was also three bottles of wine, a six pack of beer, several partial bottles of Muscat, a bottle of vitamin I, and la dolce vita.
Having been sick, I had planned a low key weekend. As of Thursday, I had no plans. Zilch. Nada. Which sounded fine to me.
So Thursday, I called my friend Arthur, and told him that he was still welcome to come, but that Tessie and I were sick, so we were probably going to be low key. He said he’d come up late Friday, and that low key was fine with him.
Thursday evening I was sort of bored, and being on this weird allergy reduction/Jewish Lent diet, I went on a tear at the grocery store, buying ANYTHING I could find that piqued my appetite (I’ve lost 8 pounds in the last 9 days) and that fit those parameters. (This was when I ran into the little cute wax petit four candles as well.) Pomegranite juice (okay, sugar, but a wine substitute, and FULL of those YUMMY antioxidants). Flat bread. Irish soda bread. Sushi with no teriyaki. Pasta salad. Salmon. Every weird vegetable I wanted, including artichokes, brussels sprouts frisee, pronounced frizzy, Jerusalem artichokes, kumquats, radicchio, fresh basil, and lots of other joosh. The checkers said I won the weird vegetable award for the week, have not one, but TWO veggies they’d never seen anyone buy, the sunchokes and the frisee endive.] But I figured it was allowed, since I had been living on rice and steamed veggies and mostly nothing else, all the time I was sick.
So the next evening, I again only worked a half a day because when I first got to work I started SEEING SPOTS. Cleverly diagnosed by my sister over the phone, as caused by dehydration, but my first reaction, was fuck, what now, I’ve had hives and nausea and arthritis, now a brain tumor? BRING IT ON. Drank two cups of water, and GONE. BUT, feh, Friday afternoon, I feel cruddy, I’m for home.
So I puttered around, picked up, lazed with Tess, watched Song of the Thin Man. Myrna Loy in dresses to die for, I love black and white movies.
Arthur rolled in about 8:30, Tessie tackled him, and we hung out. Redesigning the world to our own specifications, until about 2 am. Finally decided SUVs were, indeed, a sign of the devil, and crawled off to bed.
Saturday, eggs and bacon, planned a day hike, Tess didn’t want to go, so I arranged a play date for her, ran to the drug store to get epipens, so I wouldn’t die from a bee sting, and we were off. Stopped to look at the grapes, then climbed a ridge at the north end of the Capay Valley. Wildflowers, and an absolutely perfect day. Climbed straight up an amazing fire road, ate a massive picnic, and bagged a nameless peak. The air smelled, and felt, like silk.
Climbed back down, me discovering that a) the hives pop back up again when I exert myself; b) there is poison oak EVERYWHERE, c) that the air in the Capay Valley in March is pure heaven, and d) I still have arthritis.
But we made it, and I picked up both kids, and arrived home in time for tea. First a shower, to remove the poison oak, with Technu, smelling vaguely of turpentine, and then beer.
Having no alcohol in the house, I ran out to stock up.
Seven pm, my friends who had been watching Tessie arrived, and we all sat around watching the moon rise, drinking more beer, and wine, and cheese and crackers. Two more out of town guests arrived about 8:15, I fed the kids corn dogs and loaded up a movie, and dinner began.
And went on for four hours. I made pesto, artichokes, and a big salad. Dead soldiers: a wedge of Saint Andre, a partial wedge of smoked gouda, one six pack of sierra nevada, three bottles of wine, several half bottles of Muscat (both red and white) a pot of coffee, two pots of tea, about a stick and a half of butter for the artichokes, another stick and six cloves of garlic for the pesto, one broken wine glass, the entire kitchen and dining room table completely trashed.
Everyone ended up crashing, so I had a positive sum game to find beds for everyone. Arthur is in my housemates bed, okay, I’ll go in there in my jammies with him and Tessie. The friends from up the road who couldn’t drive and their son I stuck in my bed; the other out of town guests were in Tessie’s bed. Once I explained it, one person piped up, yeah, and at four a.m. we all get up, women rotate clockwise and men rotate counterclockwise. I haven’t figured out the combinatorics of that system, but I for one was far too drunked up, being a lightweight, for any funny business.
Next morning, not too bad a start, the crashers got up and started on the trashed kitchen, made coffee, so when I stumbled out it was partly done. Everyone sorta fended for breakfast, and we noshed on leftover artichokes and pesto and cheerios and poptarts. Yoghurt blast and wild berry.
Local guests went home, Arthur went back to the city, other out of town guests wandered around in Davis, bought goodies, I bought a walking stick to use until the arthritis wears off, we came back and drank more tea. Cucumber sandwiches and cookies and a pot of tea, more artichokes and Brussels sprouts fried in butter with Meyer lemons.
The other out of town guests departed, and Tessie and I made a run to Evil Corporate Empire Store since our sandal foray had been unsuccessful, and we noshed for supper and watched Finding Nemo. Washed some prednisone down with white wine, which I understand is not recommended, and tucked in the Tess.
When I fried up the last of the Brussels sprouts for dinner, I got out the second pound of butter that I had bought on Thursday night.
So without further ado, here are the recipes to allow six people to consume a pound of butter in about a day and a half, most of it during one meal.
One bunch fresh basil
Snow peas or sugar snap peas
Pine nuts or walnuts
Good parmesan, pecorino romano, or gruyere, freshly grated
Pasta, preferably conchigle, or another small curly pasta that gives the pesto a place to hide.
Start the water for the pasta. Chop the basil with a knife, not in a food processor. It should be finely chopped, in pieces about an eighth of an inch per side. Toast and chop the nuts. Chop the garlic, and fry it in butter or in olive oil. ( generally about ½ stick of butter, last night: one stick.)
Start the pasta, adding salt and olive oil. Add the butter and garlic to the chopped basil. If the butter burns brown, don’t worry about it, it'll taste fine. If the garlic turns black, toss it and start that part again.
Stir in olive oil and juice of one lemon, and then stir in the nuts and cheese, until the pesto takes on a salady texture, where all the oil and butter have been absorbed by the cheese. Add chopped green peas, and sliced cherry tomatoes, as options.
Drain the pasta, and let it cool for a minute or two. This is critical, because otherwise the cheese will get too stringy. Slowly mix in the pesto.
Serve with artichokes, more butter mixed with Meyer lemon juice, a good merlot, cabernet or chardonnay, a good sourdough (more butter), a huge salad with oil and vinegar or lemon and a little more cheese. Then coffee, tea, cookies, and a couple bottles of Muscat (a red and a white).
This meal will take about 45 minutes to cook, four hours to eat, and will practically guarantee that everyone will sleep on the floor.
Oh, and don’t forget: you will need at least a pound of butter.
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