Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Lovely Day

Yesterday was one of those Fall days in the Foothills when the weather was just about perfect. This is what we mean by California Dreamin'... it is the quintessential day; that wonderful time of the year when the temperature never goes above 85 degrees and because of the cold nights, it takes all morning to warm up. This is "sweater in the mornings and shorts in the afternoon." weather and... If you're going to be outside you had best use some sunscreen. It may not feel hot but it's still going to do some damage if you're out in it for a while.
I was meeting some friends for lunch. They both live down in the valley so we planned to meet in Ione.
This is an interesting town.

Ione is about 10 miles from where I live. It use to be the supply center on the main roads to the mines during the Gold Rush and was the agricultural hub of the area. It was called Bedbug, Hardscrabble and Freeze Out at different times in the past.
Now it has a population of about 7900 folks and almost half of them reside at Mule Creek State Prison which is located at the north end of town.
Dave Brubeck, the famous jazz pianist, was raised here.

I found a parking place right on Main St. and took pictures while I waited for my friends. This is the Restaurant that we chose to meet at.
It's called Clark's Corner...
While I was waiting I saw a lot of trucks with horse trailers and huge cow trucks come down Main Street. More than any other town in the area. There are lots of farms, horse ranches and cattle around here. It's evident that, even though they put a fancy golf course in a few years ago, the farmers and their critters still rule this little town.
My friends arrived and we went inside to have some lunch.
In the 1800's there were six saloons in this town. (and they thought Jackson was wild.)
Clark's Corner has metamorphosed into a wonderful eatery.. but it was once a SALOON.
Dedicated to the spirits within..? Would that be liquor or ghost spirits?
And how original... Old Red Brick Building. I think that was more of a descriptive way of finding the place that a name for the bar.  As in..."Meet me at the old red brick building on Main St. I'll buy the drinks."
Or...
"I need to be in Ione by Friday. My brothers, James and Virgil are meetin' me there. Can I pay you with some gold dust?"
"What was your name again?", the train station ticket man asked.
"Earp. Wyatt Earp. I need one ticket."
No problem, Mr. Earp. Gold dust will be fine."
I'm on my way to San Francisco. Got some things to take care of."
"None of my business, Mr. Earp. Not at all. You have a nice trip." 

Well, it could have happen. Wyatt came to California a couple of times. He lived in Santa Rosa for a while. He died in Los Angeles in 1929.
He might have had a drink and stayed over night  at the Old Red Brick Building Saloon. It's possible. Isn't it?
I love to think about who visited or worked in these old buildings a long time ago.
I love to think that I might be stepping on the same old floor that Wyatt, or Joaquin, or Mr. Muir. might have.

Now the old saloon is lookin' spiffy.
I'll bet Wyatt didn't get a French Dip and raspberry ice tea.... or a chocolate chip mocha scone for dessert. No he didn't. But we did.... just to name a few delicious lunch items.
The food was very good.
The tables all had a lot of history under the glass for us to read while we ate.
And there were some old photos of local families.
And some tough looking men.
What a great idea to put all those photos under glass so you could read the history of the town while eating.
The restaurant is also a community meeting place for local issues, Internet communicating and just taking about what's happening in town.
We ate lunch and talked. Then we went and got dessert and then... ate and talked some more.
One friend, Sylvia, is the president of the California Gourd Associating and she is also the vice president of our local gourd group. She gardens, grows gourds and makes beautiful gourd art.
Jane, another friend, is a member of our goat group and owns a wonderful herd of Alpine goats. Alpines are really lovely animals. She has a beautiful old horse and two big ol' dogs and lives with a guy named Richard ...so I call their farm DICK AND JANE'S, like the children's book.
There's no SPOT but that's OK. Their two goofy dogs make up for not having a dog named Spot. We wouldn't want to get too silly about this.
Sylvia and Jane have known each other for many years.  We had such a good time together. We laughed and talked about all kind of things... But, as the saying goes...
What is talked about in Ione, stays in Ione... or is that Las Vegas?
It doesn't matter.
We had a great time.
Right ladies?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Philpy

A friend gave me this book last year and it's a good one. It is filled with a lot of recipes that were brought West by the 49er's and folks that came here to start a new life. Interesting stories about how the early settlers got here and brought their favorite recipes with them.
It's a cookbook and a history book all in one. It was publish in 1952. The year my sister was born.
Hey, Sis. I thought you were 39! No, that can't be right because I'm only 49. No... that can't be right because my oldest son is 41. Oh, this isn't working well anymore. We may have to get older... *#&%@. I will call you soon.
Anyway...
Here is one recipe, in the book, that I had never heard of but I thought the name was kind of catchy so last night I decided to make it. It looked really easy.
I didn't have any leftover rice so I made some earlier in the day. 
I took a good look at the recipe first. I've been known to start a recipe without looking to see if I have all the ingredients. Since we live in the middle of nowhere and don't have "next door" neighbors, I try to be sure and have everything I need before I start cooking or baking. The chickens and the goats have heard me shout..."Oh no. I don't have any bla, bla, bla." So, I always check first.
Here's the recipe...
I did have everything I needed. I used 1% milk. and Polenta in place of the corn meal. It's a little grainier than corn meal but I like the texture. I'm Italian... mostly, so I always have Polenta in the cupboard.
My helpers were in place... sometimes I call it "underfoot".
Cutter (on the left) is always in the kitchen when I am. He's my main man when I'm cooking. Carl (on the rug) doesn't usually show up until dinner is on the table. That's why he looks a little like he's not suppose to be there.
Yesterday they were both anxiously waiting for whatever was going to happen.
I preheated the oven to 350 degrees,  got a bowl and mixed all the ingredients together and poured the mixture into a glass 9X12 pan. I told you this was easy...
Be sure to spray the pan with a non stick spray of some kind. Egg mixes tend to stick if you don't.
"Bake until nicely brown" ended up being  about 30 mins. I checked at 20 minutes but I continued baking the bread for 10 more minutes. It's suppose to be thin and crispy. With a 10 in. pie pan, the bread would have been thicker and might have required more baking time. At 30 mins. the bread was brown, crispy and done.
I cut it into pieces and piled them on a plate for dinner.
We ate this with some steak and Broccoli. It was delicious!

It reminded me of something from my childhood but I knew that I had never eaten Philpy.
Until Breakfast...
We had leftovers and when I took the Philpy out of the refrigerator, it seems like I had done this before. 
Way back in my memory was this picture of my mother cutting up Polenta, from the night before, frying it in a pan and serving it to us with butter and syrup.
Oh yes. This was the memory that had been calling to me.. 
This recipe was a little different. Mom's Polenta didn't have milk or rice in it.
But... when I covered pieces of Philpy with butter and popped them into the microwave for a minute and then poured some syrup over them. Oh my. Did I have a rush of nostalgia. 
Philpy is heavier because of the rice but the taste and the flavor was so similar to fried Polenta. It just took me right back to my Mom's kitchen on a Saturday morning. It was a plateful of sweetness and wonderful memories just sitting there waiting for me. 
I could even here my Dad saying " Pass the butter or I'll walk right down the middle of the table."
He never did, of course, and then he'd say, "Jackie, this is so good. Can I have some more please?".... and my sister and I would laugh and the whole world was happy. 
I have never figured out how we had so much left over Polenta if we ate most of it for dinner the night before. Maybe Mom made a double batch so we would have enough for breakfast.
  I looked it up and some recipes for Philpy don't have corn meal in them.  Some say that it has "Southern" roots and is what poor people ate. Some recipes add a little flour. Some use wild rice. Some use shredded cheese and spices. I think you could just about use anything you wanted to as long as you keep the basics the same.
Enjoy the recipe. It's really a good staple for dinner.
It's inexpensive, quick and very good.

Buon Apetite!