Kids in the Kitchen: Gazpacho

Yeah, I know. You wanted Underwear Rant #2. I figure I could do a week-long series on women’s underwear, which is scary. But for the weeks that I was down to one functional hand, the kids did a lot of cooking, and they deserve their time in the sun, er kitchen.

A few weeks ago we were going to try living wheat-free (don’t ask, there’s a blog coming that’s devoted to it). So while Snarky Daughter was getting her hair cut, I was putting together a shopping list of all sorts of healthy stuff. Woo-hoo! But it was about 1000 degrees outside and who really wants to cook in that? And then I remembered…a really awesome Californian restaurant from the 70s. You walked in and you had to stop and let your eyes adjust because it was so dark. Dark wood paneling, dark green booths, dark everything. Salesguys went there to close semiconductor chip deals and my mom would meet with big name editors there after work for a drink. People went there at lunch for a drink. I miss the 70s.

Anyway, when the Bay Area hit 105, the Velvet Turtle was the place to go because it was dark and cold. And they had the best gazpacho. They served it in individual servings in glass bowls packed in crushed ice. You could almost see ice crystals on the top of the soup.

Sitting in the hair salon, that’s what I remembered. Heaven on ice.

And it’s healthy, and it doesn’t have wheat, making it a better choice than a maple frosted doughnut or a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. And did I mention how awesome ice cold soup would be when it’s 1000 degrees outside and the relative humidity is about 120%?

Snarky Daughter cooks Velvet Turtle Gazpacho
Snarky Daughter “cooking”

Also, you make it in a blender!

Here’s a link to the recipe, which some saint at the LA Times got the Velvet Turtle to give up back in 1981.

Read through it and there’s only one real problem: 1 tsp. seasoning blend. Undaunted, and refusing to believe that might be the key to the soup, we pressed on, assuming that 1 tsp of cumin (thereabouts) and some oregano were what they meant.

As usual, Snarky Daughter was only mildly excited about making dinner, but I was looking totally pitiful with my new, can’t move my thumb or wrist at all brace, so what was she really going to say? Well, she’s mine, so she could have said a lot, but what actually came out of her mouth was, “Uh, sure. I make it in the blender?”

So, this is totally a dump and blend thing. Soup in 20 minutes because you’re obliterating everything in the blender so it’s not like you have to carefully chop the veggies. Then we put it in the freezer for another 20 so it would be ice cold. And we served it with a couple of tortilla chips (corn-based, so I choose to believe they lack wheat), and presto! Summer Dinner!

Both kids and Snarky Roommate liked it. And I went back in time. I wonder what my dad drank when he ate this at the Turtle…


Dear Victoria’s Secret and Limited Brands: (aka Underwear Rant #1)

We need to talk. You need, once again, to be run by a man and not a conglomerate wanting to slap their logo on a high school girl’s ass. There was a time when the under 18 set wouldn’t have set foot in your stores because they were for grown-up, sophisticated women who wanted to look sexy and feel feminine without being trashy.

Photo of Marilyn Monroe from
See? Marilyn had curves.

These were women of the world. Women who had a gleam in their eye that said they had great sex regularly… or would at least know it when they found it. They knew a Secret. They had a Secret. They did not parade around in cotton panties with the word PINK on their butts.

According to several websites (and her dressmaker) and several men I’ve dated over the years, I have dimensions a lot like Marilyn Monroe. So could you please have those Pixie Sticks that work in your stores open their eyes and look at my chest before asking me if I want a bra that will increase my cup size?

First, it’s false advertising, and hey, eventually your date is going to discover that the wonder going on there is cotton padding. And second, I don’t even know what size I would be if you increased my cup by two sizes. I do know I’d be able to balance plates on my chest!

I know, I know. You’re owned by the Limited. Your clientele is, like, twelve. They have

Photo of Kari the Babysitter from The Incredibles
I know you’re racking your brain…this is Kari, the babysitter from The Incredibles

expendable income. Hello. That’s my income! Who do you think is paying the allowance that kid is spending in your store? But here’s the thing. She wouldn’t know what to do with sexy underwear if you gave it to her free! Hence that whole cotton dorm room attire that takes up two-thirds of the store, leaving seven bras for those of us who have breasts, and no bras for those of us who have a cup size above an A.

In your marketing plan, you’ve overlooked a couple of things. 1) I make more money than a 15 year-old girl; 2) there’s a good chance I’m single/divorced and I make more money, so I am dating (and if I’m married, I’m trying to keep the love alive because I’m in my prime); 3) no woman wants to wear granny panties on a date where she might get some; 4) having given birth to said 15 year-old in point #1, I would love it if my bra supported what I already have; and 5) there should be matching panties that do not double as dental floss.

You used to sell mystique. Now you sell sweats and bras that don’t keep the girls contained because you’re too busy trying to smash everything together under 20 pounds of cotton. Here’s a clue: my bra should not stand up by itself in the drawer. It should support while being sexy. Lace can do that. I know this because I have made it my life’s work to find gorgeous underwear.

Sadly, none of it has come from you in years, although I do still have a backless sweater and a silk slip I bought from your catalog 20 years ago.

I’m going to give you the advice I have yet to give my high schooler: Grow up!

Every woman I know can — and would — outspend a teenager on good underwear any day of the week. Without a second thought. I have credit limits designed solely for this purpose and lingerie departments that call me when shipments of favorite brands come in. And if you have a set in my size that looks great, I’ll buy it in every color.

But not if it’s cotton and says PINK on the butt. Or if they’re boy cut. If I were a boy, I’d be buying Hanes.

I’m a woman. I have curves. Work with them. Love them. Accessorize them.

If you do that, give me a call. I’d love to experience Victoria’s Secret again. I miss it.


Torturing a Writer

I spend my days torturing my characters. Want to know how to torture a writer? Sure, bad reviews will hurt, but every writer has a stack of rejection letters, so we’re used to negativity. In my house, that guarantees dinner out and a glass of wine.

If you really want to torture a writer, give her a hand injury. I’ve spent the last eight weeks in a brace of one sort or another, and fully expect to be in a cast next week when it becomes obvious that I’m not so good about staying in the brace. Here’s the thing: in a brace, half of the keyboard is off limits.”L” is a thing of the past. “N”? Not a chance. There are THREE vowels on the right hand of the keyboard. All of which I should be able to reach since my thumb is what’s screwed up, but I can’t.

In trying to follow doctor’s orders, that has meant no typing. No writing. No fun. And with no relief in sight, I’m $200 and one  more doctor’s appointment away from buying that Dragon speech recognition software so I can work again in some reasonable amount of time. I haven’t typed this badly since junior high. Thank goodness Zork! didn’t need big commands.

And I can’t play Epic Mickey, which the kids hooked me on after we thought I was better six weeks ago. Oops. Turns out Wii remotes aren’t good for hand injuries — especially when you have to use two of them. So Mickey has to wait.

But writing can’t. I’ve missed the blog, and the Kids have spent a ton of time in the kitchen, so there are entries there, waiting to be written. I’m tired of waiting to write them. For God’s sake, I have entries to write about the perils of dating.

So the blog’s back. Regardless of what I learn on Wednesday. Because I’ve lost patience. They may not be long, but they’ll be here. Stay tuned!