Hit Dupont Circle for Morning Music

This is just a quick-dash post to let anyone riding the DC metro this morning know that there’s a fantastic violin and electric bass duo playing at the south exit of the Dupont Circle metro stop. To hear “If I Were A Rich Man” trilling along and unscored by the bom-bom-bom of the bass as I accended on the steep escalator was a trippy way to start a Friday. Wish I had a camera!

Scurry over if you’re nearby this morning!

Posts to come: Wine Camp!

Putting the “Mmm” in Mistakes

Lately everything I bake has been turning out all goofy-footed. It always ends up tasting great, but it’s never without its surprises. And I think I can blame it on the somewhat lax attitude I’ve taken to following directions these days — a completely un-Jen mindset that’s producing mixed results across the board.

The other week I tried my hand at a Nigella recipe — her Sour Cream Chocolate Cake from “How To Be a Domestic Goddess,” p. 169. My intent was to vary the recipe only enough to add the zest of a whole orange and substitute triple sec for vanilla. Oh…and since I only had fat-free sour cream, to substitute that for the full-fat version. Um…and since that was far thicker than the full-fat version, to make is a little thinner with some milk. Ah yes…and I didn’t have 8″ pans avilable, so I used my trusted 9″ers.

Sigh…

And I wonder why baking occasionally gives me such conniptions.

It didn’t rise. Not a lick. Each layer was less than an inch high. The interior of the cake was terrifically moist and the orange came through beautifully, but there truly wasn’t a bit of height in the whole thing. So I manufactured height. I filled the middle with a basic cream cheese icing spiked with more Triple Sec and orange zest, then piled a whole pint of whipped heavy cream on top and grated zest and chocolate shavings over that. Tad-da! Chocolate-Orange Cream Cake!

It was a hit at the party I took it to. Now, if only I could keep myself from confessing each baking blunder…

Hapless Party-goer: Mmmm, this is good!

Me: Oh, well, you see I completely screwed it up, so I’m shocked it tastes good, let me tell you all about it, it all started with the sour cream….

Hapless Party-goer: I see a drink with my name on it waaaay over there.

Next up? My adventures with rhubarb — my typically stalwart dessert fruit of choice that is also falling victim to my yummy experimentation.

Heat Rash

We’re pushing record June highs in this Mid-Atlantic heatwave, and the accompanying delirium is setting in. People are stumbling though parking lots, staggering into big-box stores and sucking in the AC like suffocating Hoover uprights.

I yearn for something cooler and sweeter and gentler to take hold and oust this humid mess; send it back into the maw of whatever swampy creature it came from. Give us heat, sure — I understand that it’s summer, after all. But please take away this sweltering blanket of of pollen and must.

I’m daydreaming…daydreaming of an outdoor shower that opens up at the top to the sky, its sides lined in brilliant blue tarp nailed to plywood and two-by-fours, a shower head that shines from above, ready to offer a freezing blast of water on tanned-to-toast skin. It’ll shock and sting at first, but body-heat and water-cold will quickly mix and I’ll sigh long and deep as the tension sluices away with the sweat and dirt, and I’ll think, “How fantastic to be alive.”

What are you wishing for in this heatwave? If you want to play along, post a picture or a story or a song — whatever you like — onto your blog. Link back to this post and let’s see if the collective power of desire can’t cool things down a bit, at least in our imaginations, if nowhere else.

More Graves Mountain Pics

I have a few more pictures from the weekend at the Graves Mountain Festival of Music that I thought I’d throw onto the screen for you. In other music-making news, I’m working on “the chop” and lamenting that I did not inherit my mother’s long fingers.

These folks had the right idea. The stream ran right past the stage and the most clever of the bunch just put their chairs right into the water, while the rest of us baked on the lawn.

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Graves Mounatin Breakdown

Rhonda Vincent & The Rage at Graves Mountain, May 31.

I turn to my friend in the lawn chair beside me, give him a blissed-out smile that is equal parts sunburn and warm wine, and with my generally dormant mountain accent turned up to thick and dripping, sigh, “Lord, I love the smell of honeysuckle on the night air.”

And, in agreement, the band on stage at Graves Mountain Festival of Music sings back to me across the packed lawn that they, too, know there’s nothing quite like honeysuckle on a summer night.

Simpatico.

That about sums up my experience at my first bluegrass festival. One big, musical call-and-response of affirmation and peacefulness.

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