Culinary Cousins: Apricot and Pistachio Biscotti

Oliver and I recently lost a dear friend. And we expressed our condolences in the best way I know how — with baked goods.

Read all about it: Apricot and Pistachio Biscotti

biscotti_coffee

Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth.

I was watching television on Saturday afternoon when I heard some sirens that sounded a bit louder than those we hear from the main roads. I wondered, but didn’t think much about it. About 30 minutes later, Oliver and I went out for a walk. As we climbed the hill up to the main street, there they were:  at least five fire engines, three police cars and countless onlookers.

One of my neighbor’s homes was on fire, seemingly from the furnace in the attic. I felt really uncomfortable about obviously gawking at it, so we walked around the back way to another courtyard, where I ran into some neighbors I knew. That put me in direct view of the fire, though, from about 50 yards away. Disaster clearly brings people together, as I met at least five more neighbors standing there. One even brought out snacks while we all watched the firemen try to save the house.

The whole time I had a really sick feeling thinking about the family that lives there. I don’t know them directly, but I’ve heard about them and know neighbors in common. I suspect they were the ones huddled with another group in chairs on the lawn immediately in front of the house. Fire is just about my worst fear — so much so that I often run back upstairs (and even turn the car around) if I think I might have left the iron, the stove, the coffee pot on. So to watch my neighbors’ home be destroyed was gut-wrenching. I steered Oliver toward home, but stopped to talk to another, elderly neighbor who had come outside to watch. I was turned away from the home, until she exclaimed, “Oh, there it goes!” The entire roof was seriously ablaze, and flames were shooting out of the attic vents, threatening even to jump to the roof next door. That was it — more than I could take, and we headed back to the safety of our own home. Keep reading »

I am chopped liver.

I totally get it. I have a cute dog. A really, really cute dog.

But ever since Oliver arrived about two weeks ago, I’m just the anonymous handler behind the phenom.

Let me set the scene for you. I have lived in my complex for more than two years, and I may have nodded once at my neighbors next door as we passed on our way in or out. We’re not a friendly, mingling kind of bunch. Actually, when I moved in, a neighbor across the way greeted me but told me not to “expect brownies or anything. We’re not that kind of neighborhood.” Well, okey dokey.

Now that I walk the world’s cutest dog, everyone comes out of the woodwork. Like we’re incapable of exchanging pleasantries unless there’s a canine attached to us by a string. Keep reading »

Sick of being sick.

Hello, readers. I’ve unexpectedly been away for a long, eventful couple of weeks. Mostly I’ve been knocked down by the worst cold known to man that won’t respond to antibiotics, Mucinex, antihistamine, Sudafed, Robitussin, cough drops, lemon tea (see below) or even my old friend Nyquil. I’ve spent much of the last two weeks laying around in my bed or on the couch partially buried in a mound of used tissues. (You’re welcome for that lovely mental image.) When I was little, my family went to these Saturday library sales,  and I found an old book called “The Sick of Being Sick Book.” Inside were dozens of games you can play while bedridden, like shooting a basket from across the room with your balls of Kleenex or cough drop wrappers. I sure could have used that self-entertainment recently, and I wonder where that book could be …

In the midst of all of that, my mom had unexpected, emergency surgery the week before Thanksgiving. I ran down there in time to check her out of the hospital and wait on her for a couple of days while she regained her strength. (Well, until I became the patient.) I was completely amazed at the generosity of family and friends, a whole community that came out of the woodwork to help us. They cooked meals and even organized a food delivery schedule to get us through Thanksgiving. They’ll pick up again with more deliveries on Monday. Keep reading »