Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.


A Birthday Request

It's November and that means my annual cycle of introspection has begun. I turn 40 in less than a week and looking around there's a lot of change in the air. I'd hoped to go to Belize, see the Mayan ruins and dive or snorkel on the reefs, take a floating tour through jungle cave complexes. Maybe I'll do that for 45 instead. This year is a close to home year. We put in a patio, bought a grill and some furniture to put on it, built those raised beds I've wanted for years. It was a good substitute. I enjoyed the heck out of that patio this summer.

It's also been a strange time for my social group. The couple who were the bedrock of our "chosen family" since Kate was small broke up this year and without them as a central touch point, other peripheral relationships have fallen away. Friends have continued to spin off in other directions, taking jobs in new cities or countries, skipping conventions or other "gamer socials" in favor of time with family. I understand it, I support their decisions... they're the right ones. I still miss them. It's been a year of establishing strange, new equilibriums.

One thing that hasn't changed, though I haven't been blogging about it as much this year, is the joy I get from food and cooking. My heart is full of food memories, my head is full of inspirations to make and (high on my success in the new garden beds) grow. I may not have any family jewels to pass on to Kate but I have a treasure trove of tastes and smells and memories in food form, sweet and spicy, simple and decadent, special.

So, here we are. My birthday request: for my birthday I'd like a recipe from you. Yes, you. You may not ever comment, may never have admitted that you even read this blog. You and I may not agree on much of anything, may not have spoken in years, may not ever have met outside of the internet... that doesn't matter. In fact, it's precisely the POINT of my request: I may have specific memories of Stan!'s deviled eggs or Linda's crockpot lasagna, the year Catherine and I made that glorious mustard-pickle (the recipe for which I've since lost (SOB)) or the time Christine introduces me to my first bagna cauda but I want to make sure I have a memory of YOU, too.

On Sunday I'm having a birthday brunch. Several friends will be there to celebrate with me. Many more, if not most, of the other people I know, interact with, and enjoy will not be there. You game industry friends, far-flung relatives, former co-workers, and people who lurk, hit this blog looking for recipes, send me feedback, or tell me at conventions or parties how much they like something they've found on my blog and made for themselves...you won't be there and that makes my world seem so much smaller than it really is.

Please send me a recipe. You can send me an e-mail at nikchick@aol.com, or message me through Livejournal, or Facebook, or Nikchick.com. Maybe it's a recipe that makes you think of me. Maybe it's a recipe that will make me think of you. Something simple, something complex, something you love! I'm going to compile my birthday recipes and get them bound into a book for myself, a keepsake of my time with food and people to this point, something I can use over the next 40 years. That's what I want for my birthday!



Weekend recap

So Blue Ribbon Cooking School was fun. Robin was so thrilled she suggested we should do it every year! We had two instructors for the cooking portions, who I promptly dubbed "Chef Boot Camp" and Chef Laid Back." I ended up in Chef Boot Camp's group at the beginning of the evening but thankfully we started mixing and mingling as the evening wore on. Largely I photo documented the other guests, though I did participate in some of the hands on cooking as well. Unfortunately when I cook I feel most at ease in my own kitchen with my own equipment and without other people underfoot. If I'd started out in Chef Laid Back's camp, I probably would have been fine and participated more but Chef Boot Camp was more "my style" of chef, in that she wanted to have control and wanted to do things just so and consequently we clashed a bit. When the two "teams" were making gnocchi, Ray was kneading his dough and said, "I think I need more flour," but wasn't allowed to actually have more flour until Chef Boot Camp personally inspected a few minutes later, when she herself said "You need more flour," (as if Ray hadn't said that two minutes ago) and personally got the flour for him. Conversely, people on the other team were allowed to handle their own measuring cups and were getting their own flour, virtually unsupervised! OMG, anarchy!

We didn't actually get to cook everything on the menu, which I'd been wondering about when I saw the huge list of courses. The corn muffins and the salmon crepes were already prepared when we arrived. This was a little disappointing because we birthday ladies chose the crepes in specific because we wanted to get the professional guidance on preparing them, but also totally understandable. It was a huge menu and obviously we couldn't start from scratch on everything. Still, it wasn't clear that we wouldn't be preparing some of the courses when we picked and if I'd had my way I would have made the crepes and let the frickin' salads be pre-made! I've made a bazillion salads in my day.

There was one part of the evening where I feared that we were going to devolve into a bad place, as Chef Boot Camp was talking very critically about the choice of dessert. That creme brule-stuffed pears were "too much" and the Creme Anglaise "overrated." As the dessert was the only area of the menu that I really exerted myself (Christine pre-screened the rest of the menu, keeping every known special need in mind, and Robin and I signed off on it... willingly because Christine made excellent suggestions but still...) I was not thrilled to hear the chef thought so poorly of my choice. At that point I decided to go photograph the glassware for a while and felt better with a little distance. Heh.

Another contrast between our chefs was when we had mostly finished dinner (some of us were finishing coffee or wine, everyone talking and relaxing after a couple of hours in the kitchen) Chef Boot Camp came out to dismiss us! "You can wrap it up now," or some similarly expressed sentiment! I got up to use the bathroom and ran into Chef Laid Back on the way, so I apologized that we were lingering so long. He waved me off... no problem, he said. He really didn't care, where Chef Boot Camp was seriously stressed about time (at another point in the meal she came out and flat out told us to start eating... I was photographing my plate as I am wont to do and didn't appreciate being hit with the Achtung Baby.)

Anyway, don't read my whining as disappointment with the evening! Overwhelmingly I had a great time. It wasn't completely perfect and unmarred but none of my petty grievances even came close to being significant complaints. It was fabulous to get together with friends. I hadn't seen some of the attendees in many months and it was great to get together and share the experience. I loved having the chance to cook with so many of my friends all at once (and not have to clean up afterward!) and the meal came out spectacularly. They gave us a menu, complete with recipes, for us to take home. I will try to get it transcribed and posted on my recipe pages because everything we had (even the "too much" Creme Brule Stuffed Pears with Creme Anglaise and Port Wine Sauce our chef so disparaged) turned out phenomenally and ALL of us are excited to try making homemade gnocchi again soon.

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Birthday bash photos

Robin and Nicole
Originally uploaded by Nikchick.
Man, I'm STILL exhausted. We had a great time, cooked up a storm then many of us closed out Seattle's Best Karaoke at 4:00am. I'm sure it must have been after 4:30 by the time we got home and maybe closer to 5:00am by the time we wound down and actually got to sleep. Then, after too little sleep, Chris and I both had busy days of running all over town. Kate and I spent ventured downtown to pick up one of Flexcar's SUVs, stopped at a coffee house for a snack, spent several hours braving the madness that is IKEA on the weekends, plus did a trip to Target and now have several of the things we need to begin her promised room makeover. No rest for the wicked tomorrow, either, as I have to spend the day moving furniture around and preparing for some deliveries.

I'll write up more details about the cooking event tomorrow or Monday when I'm not quite as sleep deprived and generally muddled but for now there are photos to get the idea across.

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Birthday Me!

Thanks in part to my budding obsession with social networking sites (which kindly reminded my friends, sometimes multiple times, that it's my birthday today) I've received a delightful assortment of e-greetings, animated birthday cards, virtual birthday cakes and general good wishes from around the globe. It's been fun so far and there's still much of the day to go. Thanks guys!

I feel a little like I'm celebrating illicitly because as all good and right-thinking people know You Are Allowed 20 Birthday Parties in your life as Patton Oswalt has cleverly determined. If you don't know Patton Oswalt who are you and why are you reading my blog? If you've never heard this bit, do yourself a favor, click on the link and listen to it now and then go out and buy the CD it comes from. Seriously, Werewolves and Lollipops. Buy it!

I'll be posting photos of our upcoming decadence tomorrow, assuming I'm able to be upright and conscious.

Birthday kisses all around and virtual drinks for all my friends!




My birthday is nestled right in between the birthdays of my friends Christine and Robin. We three (and ~18 of our friends and loved ones) will be spending Friday evening here.

We'll be cooking and then eating. I just received word that our menu has been confirmed. Our Dîner anniversaire pour trois will be:

French crepes with smoked salmons and herb infused goat cheese
Rosemary corn cakes with lavender butter
Roasted beets salad with arugula, walnuts, and feta
Game hens with marsala, pomegranates, and orange
Hand-rolled gnocchi with saffron-tomato cream sauce
Green beans and red bell peppers with fresh marjoram and almonds
Crème brulee stuffed pears with port sauce

Gorged on food and drink, we will retire to a private room at Seattle's Best Karaoke for however long we can stand it. Chris and I joined Stan!'s birthday party at this same karaoke joint four years ago. It won't be the same without Keith Strohm dedicating Bon Jovi songs to Chris but I'm sure we'll make due.

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