Thursday, January 16, 2020

With Roux my heart is laden


It is funny considering how long I have been cooking, but today I made my first roux.


At least I think it was. I do not think I ever made a roux before. It is noux to me!

I was getting ready to make dinner, and I had a recipe planned out of the new Eating Well magazine. But all of a sudden I found this recipe for Gumbo Zeb in this vegetarian cookbook I had, by the hippie cookbook writer Crescent Dragonwagon. And I had to make it.

These things are unplanned, you know? It looked so onerous, this roux, and this spice blend, and this vegetable saute, and the rice, and what else? It seems there was one more thing. Oh, right, the pot of greens. There is that too. It was amazingly onerous and yet all of a sudden you are into it.

And it came together. I think it is coming together anyway.

It is still simmering on the stove. On three different burners.

I will have to report!

I am not exactly vegetarian so at the end of the recipe I am going to add shrimp. And maybe some sausage.I am not sure yet.

I do like trying different things. Last night I did an Eating Well recipe with roasted broccoli over pasta. I took liberties. I added roasted cauliflower to the broccoli because I did not have quite enough broccoli. I added anchovies because Howard and I both love them.

But at the end, I loved it. It reminded me of how I used to eat. Before I was married I made a lot of these slapdash vegetarian dishes. You get a husband, all of a sudden you have to add bacon to everything. Before that you do not.

Now, as long as all goes as planned, I will know how to make gumbo with roux. As opposed to gumbo with okra, the way I always made it.

It all made me remember fondly Bill Wharton, the Sauce Boss. That is a poster of him up above! He used to come to the Lafayette Tap Room and my friends and I would go.

The Sauce Boss would make a huge pot of gumbo on stage and at the end of the night you would eat it. Meanwhile you would assist in the preparation of it. It was a tremendous gimmick and my hope is that it is going on till this day.

You would get up on stage with your friends looking on and you would stir the gumbo with great pomp and circumstance, as the band played. Then you would hop down and resume drinking your beer.

Such fun!

The gumbo would be served at about 2 a.m. if memory serves me. And it was good!

I wonder if mine will be as good tonight.

I can only hope!!

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

The oldest houses in Buffalo





Today my friend Meghan and I went out drawing in Allentown. We stopped in a coffee shop where we found a good view of the city's oldest houses.


Buffalo's oldest houses sit on Allen Street one after another. There are three in a row, maybe more but I have always considered these three the oldest. I drew two of them. There they are up above.

As I worked I had to come to terms with an uncomfortable truth.

Pretty as the houses are, and old as they are, what really interested me was the "Do Not Enter" sign and the fire hydrant.

I am still a young enough artist that the bends in the street still amaze me. Every time I sketch a scene like this one, I cannot get over the scale of the houses that stretch down the street. I have to be very careful as I go forward. Those houses around the corner, they take up only a few millimeters beneath the eave of the house on the corner.

That is incredible!

I keep holding up my pen, checking, marveling.

Only when I got it down did I let myself sketch in the "Do Not Enter" sign.

Cool things to look at are everywhere. When I was taking a break I stopped in the coffee shop's restroom. and I saw this:






You have to wonder how many beers went into that logo.

Genius!

And earlier today I took this picture of Jeoffry in his holder.



So many images.

So little time!





Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Snowbound with Ferrante and Teicher



Today to Howard's and my astonishment we sold the second record in a week from our record shop on Etsy, The Old House Downtown.

We sold a lot over Christmas but after Christmas Day you would think it would die down, the world not being privy to the fact that Christmas actually extends until Candlemas which is Feb. 2.

Perhaps the world is privy to the fact!

One record we sold had a Christmas theme, sort of. It was Ferrante and Teicher's "Snowbound."

That video is all well and good however the art is distorted. The record cover in reality is beautiful.

I will tell you one thing, listening to that YouTube recording I am bitterly regretting selling that record.

"Snowbound ... we're snowbound ...." That is amazing. Alas, the record I sold looked so perfect that I did not want to listen to it and maybe scratch it or something.

Anyway, now I am hoping.

Perhaps people are celebrating Christmas into January!

Perhaps they still have their trees lighted, as I do, and they were listening.

We have the art store on Etsy and that is the one I have been paying the most attention to. But I would like to make the record store a success too. On account of it can dovetail with the book about Leonard Pennario. If I run the world's most successful record shop that adds to my cred.

I will tell you one thing, I have learned a lot from being a record dealer. That was how I thought of it when I worked for The Buffalo News. I would leave after a long day at work and then remember my alter ego, as a record dealer. It was fun to switch gears.

And you learn a ton dealing in records. I love Capitol Records because that was Leonard's label, and face it, it was the coolest label. Founded by Johnny Mercer, need we say more?

But I also love the other labels at the time and the records they made. When I list one I will look up information about the artists involved, and the artists who designed the covers -- because of all my years at The Buffalo News, I learned to turn over rocks. You learn so much. When a big album of Leonard's came out, it is fascinating to see the world it entered. Who else was recording what. What else was going on.

Records are the greatest. I wish I had kept "Snowbound"!

Monday, January 6, 2020

Little Christmas

Today was Epiphany, affectionately known as Little Christmas, and I went this evening and heard Mass.

I not only heard it, I sang it!

Not that it was easy. There was this 10th century Credo we sing that, the whole time I am singing it, all I can think of is skiing down a tricky hill, not that I have ever skied down a tricky hill but if I did this is what it would be like.

There is always something that makes you pray, "O God, let me not blow it."

And there is likely a time when you do blow it. That is a whole other story.

This Mass I have to admit was an uphill climb starting when on the way up to the choir loft, I ran into our youngest singer who is 12. And she told me, "Your veil is upside down."

Only I could wear a veil upside down!

But it is all worth it in the end. We ended Epiphany Mass with -- what else? -- "We Three Kings."

Someone else really should write an Epiphany carol because this one really has the stage to itself. However it was beautiful as we sang it. I sang alto, a part I learned on the fly at Sunday Mass yesterday. It was me and the 12-year-old and six kids in their 20s.

One gift I have is the most important vocal gift of all, and that is the gift of watching the director. I did that and was able to make up for that I had missed whatever rehearsal it was where they had covered this hymn. It was honestly giving me shivers. It was that beautiful. The guys came in one by one and sang solo the verses the Kings sing ... "Myrrh bring I, its bitter perfume..." And we all hummed our parts.

It made me think of Christmas Eve. At Midnight Mass we sang "Silent Night" as the procession was beginning the Mass. I happened to turn and look over my shoulder from the choir loft and the scene was so transfixing, I could not look away. The altar boys, the cross, the incense.

Today we also reprised "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming," in Latin of course. The alto part is magical in that. 

This Christmas has been unique in my life. One reason I will remember it is for the singing. How enchanting it was. The last-minute rehearsal on Dec. 23. The "O Magnum Mysterium" at 1 a.m at Midnight Mass. This beautiful Three Kings mass. The medieval chants that are like skiing down a tricky hill.


We were given holy water and blessed chalk and for the first time in my life, when I got home I did as I was directed and I sprinkled the rooms in the house with holy water, said prayers, and took the chalk and wrote over the door, "2020 + C + M + B + 2020." The letters stand for Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar. That is their portrait up above on the cover of Success Magazine -- where they belong, being kings. If the Three Kings do not deserve to be on the cover of Success, who does?

We are blessed!


Sunday, January 5, 2020

West Side story: Sketching Holy Angels


I hate New Year's
What's wrong with the old one?
Resolutions...
Who could ever hold one?

Our great friend the cabaret artist Guy Boleri penned those immortal lines in his musical version of "A Christmas Carol." Scrooge sings them.

Much as I love Guy's musical, I am no Scrooge. I love Christmas and I love New Year's.

Resolutions? I am full of them!

One is to write in this Web log every day in 2020.

Another is to sketch every day.

OK, with both resolutions I think I will make it six at least out of every seven days. Because there will be one day once in a while when you just cannot get to it and then you do not want to bog down.

But so far on the sketch front I am doing pretty much perfectly!

I have gone out every day in 2020, minus one because it was impossible. And I sketched the last three days of the old year as well.

One thing I drew was Holy Angels Church, pictured above, on Buffalo's West Side.

Now I will sound like my old Web logger self and point out that this was Leonard Pennario's church when he was a boy. And when he came back to Buffalo in the last year of my life and I met him, he asked to go back to the church and have a look. We did that.

Pennario had his moment and gazed at Holy Angels. He said, "She looks beautiful."

That is an old-fashioned thing that I love. Ships and churches are feminine and so are a lot of other things.

My great-uncle Andrew, the Rev. Andrew Kunz, was treasurer of the order of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (Pennario always referred to them by that full formal name) and was at Holy Angels for something like 50 years starting in 1905 or thereabouts.

All these things were in my head as I sketched. So was F. Scott Fitzgerald who also went to Holy Angels School, for a little while anyway. I kept thinking of him, of Leonard, of my Uncle Andrew.

I also brooded about Holy Angels closing. It is scheduled to close next year, I mean this year. What a crying shame. I am glad it was still open when Pennario went looking for it. So I thought about that too.

Then gradually as happens, all the thoughts fell away and all I thought of was shadows and angles. That is a wonderful thing about drawing. Your mind gradually clears of everything except what you are working on.

Here is a photo I took when I was through in case I needed to refer to it. I try to remember to do that when I am folding up and getting ready to go home. The sun finally came out!


After drawing all week I can say that the sun has been out during that time for all of 10 minutes, total. This is bogus, you know? I can see why John Singer Sargent liked to work in Italy. I tried to get the sun in there when it came out. You always have to work fast because it will not be there long!

That happened again to me today, the sun coming out late and just for a bit, when I was drawing a shopping strip with a hair place and a halal market. Buffalonians can try guessing where I was. I think I will post that one tomorrow.

This is my year!

I will be unstoppable!