Catching Up on Some Reading

Eggs Florentine at Wanda's Bakery and Cafe

If today had gone as planned we'd be at the beach house in Arch Cape, gorging ourselves on Jason and Hillary's One Eyed Willies, and Triple Ginger Cookies and Coconut Dream Bars from Wanda's in Nehalem. We would be cooking up a storm, processing jam, baking cookies, and inventing new egg sandwich recipes with an arsenal of fresh veggies from Mother Nature's in Manzanita. We would be snapping photographs religiously, walking on the beach constantly, allowing Zeus to lead the way with his leash off, one of the treasured few places on this earth we allow him to do so. Collecting rocks for my mama, and sand dollars for the flower beds on the outside patio. We would be watching a late-night "Forensic Files" marathon followed by anything Bravo Network during the mid-morning hours. We would be taking baths, wear silly old hats, and partake in at least one round of Scrabble. We would be drinking rounds of Kentucky Bourbon (neat), followed by red wine for her, and Bourbon on the rocks for him, nightcapped with Whiskey Milkshakes for two. We'd be sipping on Courier's latest and greatest, and sooth our exhausted bellies with Foxfire's herbal Peppermint Tea made with NW mint. We'd stretch in front of the fire, do headstands in the front yard, and feed the seagulls leftover bagels. We'd roll up the cuffs of our pants, wear big rubber yellow boots, and make our own waves. We'd be curled up in an armchair catching up on our favorite blogs, reading menus, stewing over our favorite restaurants, all in effort to regain the drive and love for what we do. We'd fill our days with laughter, food, completely impertinent yet awe-inspiring information delivered via Home and Garden Television , time-honored s'mores practice, bath salts, spooning sessions with our dog, spontaneous karaoke sessions, and at times a little more sand than I'm comfortable with. That is what the beach house is to us: it is our sanctuary; our nest; our den; our temple. We find security there, comfort, inspiration, ritual, familiarity, whispers of family history steeped in rich emotion, and us. We find ourselves here every time, the ones we lost in all of the mess that has accrued since the last time we were at this sanctuary. I hardly use that word lightly.

But alas, a visit was not really in the cards for us. The signs were all there: new menus had to be designed and printed, new prep and par lists, orders had to be placed with vendors, items in the refrigerator had to be consolidated, screen printers and artists had to be contacted regarding forthcoming LRBC t-shirts, equipment warranties had to be honored, April's schedule had to be written, and re-written, a pesto aioli recipe for the new turkey special had to be created, bank deposits had to be made, we would have to return to Portland early on Tuesday for dentist appointments we already had to reschedule once (which are also like a year over-due), and we still had to pick up some thread lock for the guard plate to the meat slicer (ahh yes, the joys of being a small business owner.) Did I mention this was our day-off? When people ask us why we aren't open seven days a week, this is why. The Jews got it right when they decided to create that whole "day of rest" thing. Want to hear about what's in store for Tuesday?

Despite these seemingly insurmountable odds we continued to keep a trip down to the Oregon Coast in our sights. However, unknown powerful forces had other plans...

Beach Scene

For some odd reason scheduled beach house maintenance always seems to coincide with our visits. Over the past few years we have been better about dodging these situations that plagued us in the past; fence repair; carpenter ant spraying, dead-bolt lock door repair; house cleaning, leak repair on door and roof, etc. We thought we'd seen it all, really. But how were we to anticipate the thermostat going on the brink alongside with the dishwasher? People always say owning a home is like having a second full-time job. Well, imagine owning a second home, and when it goes on the fritz and you're trying to find a repair guy in a town you don't exactly live in...well, you get the idea. Don't get me wrong, we all feel ridiculously fortunate that this beach house exists; I think many of us, if not all, are better people because of it. However, it does take a lot of work to maintain a home. We are fortunate enough that there is an allegiance of family members bound together to keep this place in working order for the benefit of many. We sing their praises often. But like we said, older homes have a tendency to take maintenance matters in to their own hands, and when any attempt is made to wrestle that control back, we assume the responsibility of on-site supervisors. Don't ask us why. I suppose it's a gift; we at least get to ensure that the beach house is in good hands.

So this whole thermostat/furnace and dishwasher repair threw us for a loop and Evan confirmed this was just one trip that was meant to happen at a future time. He informed me of this as he was at Hankin's Hardware picking up the thread lock, and sadly remarked, "But can we still have a Beach Day?" Which I supposed was his way of asking if we could still fill our day with delights in both the culinary, and good ole fashioned soul nurturing kind of way that flows through our veins so naturally when we're on the Coast.

At first I wasn't sure it was possible. A Beach Day in a drizzly, too-cold-for-this-goddamn-time-of-year, all-too-regular, habitually inclined to work environment? No. I wanted potato chowder and beach glass. Evan asked if I would settle for an afternoon of dog-walks and Powell's and our favorite Korean bento (more on THAT to come! Stay tuned!) and homemade iced almond chai, and an evening of music and a homemade dinner. Could I settle for that, he asked. Well I suppose that doesn't sound too bad. I mean come on, really, he had me at Powell's. We would compromise (which can sometimes feel like an all-too familiar feeling in this business) and settle for doing a substantial portion of work and fill our day with a few of our favorite things. Not all that awful. We've certainly had worse days off. And in the end the goal is to get the work done as early as possible to try and free up some time during the week to pursue other creative outlets. Things like: new mandolin melodies, impromptu dinner parties, furniture wheeling and dealing, reconnecting with loved ones in town, finally taking advantage of that cell phone bill and and catching up with that special someone on the other coast, going for walks, and reading. We do a lot of reading during this time too. And this is the kind of reading that keeps our passion for the job in perspective. We are true school-nerds at heart and are firm believers that not only is learning always possible, but necessary. Thanks to many dear friends in the business who have turned us on to some of the best culinary reads. Cookbooks, Primers, Food Memoirs, and Gastronomical Literature are sort of like our new obsession.

One Shelf of our Culinary Bookshelf

So we may not be at the beach but I am looking at it this way: instead of filling my brain with what I know is an obscene and unhealthy amount of television and subsequent ad campaigns (hey we don't have cable in our own home so we tend to get our quarterly dosage here), I have spent my afternoon doing a lot of reading. In this year's first list of 8 Questions, we asked the question: Last great book you shared with a friend?

What's on our list?

Some choice "Old" favorites include:
"Super Natural Cooking" by Heidi Swanson, which put food, color, and film in perspective, "Joy of Cooking," "Chez Panisse Café Cookbook", and "The Art of Simple Food," which started it all, and "The French Laundry Cookbook" by Thomas Keller, which was used by my dearly beloved ones to prepare a ever-memorable birthday feast for yours truly.

New on the list?
"A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table " by Molly Wizenberg, " With a Measure of Grace" by Blake Spalding and Jennifer Castle, and "Gluten-Free Girl," Shauna James Ahern's book which has us itching for her next installment, as well as "On Food and Cooking" by Harold Mcgee, a true find for Evan's ever-inquisitive mind.

Thanks to the many friends out there who passed these books along to us as we fully intend to share the wealth of knowledge abroad. What about you? What's the last great book you shared with your friend? Food related or otherwise?


Tim D. Roth said...

Wow. I know others have said it, but I have to restate it. You have an amazing ability to create really fantastic images of your daily activities, and it is truly a joy to read what you write. That said, I'm really enjoying seeing the two of you find more of a balance between work and play, even if the balance still stays weighted in the direction of work most of the time. Your passion for what you do for a living has really won people over all over the city (and the nation in some cases). I know I'm hooked, and will always tell people where to go for their breakfast sandwich/Courier Coffee/french toast fix. I've also seen you making a concerted effort to make your playtime a reality and it's fucking great to see your leisure time and the café getting to a point where both are more ideal and making you happy on a regular basis. You both have such infectious positive energy when life isn't throwing so much shit at you that you can barely brush it off and stand back up. I look forward to good times for and with you in the future. Love—Tim

whimsy2 said...

I love you guys!
Thanks for great writing. And thanks for sharing your lives.

Cher said...

Love love love two books:

1) "Hug" by Jez Alborough. Yes, it's a board book. Yes, I seriously recommend it.
2) "A New Way to Cook" by Sally Schneider. With a focus on genuine flavor, this one's my deserted island book.

Kronda said...

A few years ago, some friends and I had to cancel a group beach trip because we were all broke. But we'd already scheduled the time, so I offered to host Beach Day at home, and we got together, played games, ate great food and someone even brought an 'Endless Beach' DVD to set the scene.

Jess and I have been doing Beach Days ever since and it turns out we had one just yesterday. The start was a little rocky, what with office trim painting to finish and unscheduled vacuuming of the bottom of the fridge, but eventually we got down to the serious relaxing, reading, video game playing, etc.

Our version usually involves hunkering down in the house, and at least the weather is perfect for that. :)

Glad to see we're not the only ones, and that you two are finding more time for fun. We hope to make it in for some grub soon.