Tony and I and my Dad (separately) drove up to the Gerbers' on the day after Thanksgiving. I took a bunch of ice creams and the Double Mint–Chocolate Vegan Frozen Dessert I mentioned in Part I.
Matt suggested a game of Muggins after lunch and before we decorated the Christmas tree. That's my boy! Mike won, and he really deserved to, because he didn't have a single Muggins called on him. And the coolest thing was, he had stated that as his goal before we started. Matt came in second, I was third, and Tony was last.
Dad took this photo ...
... of Mike and Matt decorating the tree (and Molly's butt). And speaking of Molly, I wrote a post for my Huge Hound blog about Grady and Missy visiting their cousin.
Matt said they could decorate another tree, a big one, using only the ornaments the Gerbers have gotten from Uncle Bill. ❤️
I grabbed some of the boxes I've had stored in the Gerbers' basement to take home with me. In one of them, I found an article from my days as a newspaper municipal reporter that I'd been wanting to show the 'phews. It was a first-person feature story I wrote after spending most of a day working on one of the last remaining farms in West Windsor, a township outside Princeton that underwent rapid development in the '90s. (I also covered the West Windsor–Plainsboro Regional School District, in which WW partnered with its neighbor, which was also experiencing suburban sprawl, just over the border in Middlesex County.) In a bit of foreshadowing, I did some cleaning up after the farm's goats. The following October I would start dating a guy who owned a flower shop in Hamilton Township, outside Trenton. Two years after that, we would buy a property here in Delaware Township on which we'd raise dairy goats, grow vegetables and flowers, and run a bed-and-breakfast.
Here's the full article, from the October 14, 1997, edition of The Princeton Packet:
And here it is in sections. If you can't see the words clearly at this stage, click on the photos to make them bigger and sharper:
I had written the story in a more-familiar tone than was usually allowed in the newspaper and called everyone by first names on second reference. The top editor of the paper changed all of the first names to Mr. Last Name references, and he screwed up one. He had me slashing through the corn with the co-owner of the farm rather than the guy I'd said in the previous paragraph I was working with.
After reading this story again, I was reminded of my editors' insistence on not allowing verb phrases ending in words that are commonly used as prepositions. In the second section of the story, near the bottom of the long column, in the paragraph that starts with "The other animals basically ignored me," they have me saying "I never got to shovel them," dropping the "up" I certainly had included. I don't remember having a discussion about that practice in this story, but I remember arguing with the news editor that he was wrong to have deleted the "up" from a reference to windows that were "boarded up" in a different story I wrote for this paper. He also would have ended the previous paragraph in this post with "working."
Matt and Mike were hosting a group of their high school pals for Friendsgiving that evening, and Tracey and David were taking Dad to hear Joe Lynn Turner play at a local bar, so Tony and I came back home in time to have a great dinner of turkey-and-sides leftovers.
Dad brought us a desk my Pop Pop had built when he was young and Dad had refinished when he was in 8th grade:
Matt and his co-hosts played a song I requested on their radio show last Monday: Crowded House's "All I Ask." Matt said on the air that CH is my favorite band. He didn't say this year marks the 30th anniversary of the release of the band's first album (and that's perfectly OK). This CH song is the only one on which Tim Finn, the brother of Crowded House co-founder and primary songwriter Neil Finn, sings lead; Tim joined the band for only the Woodface album.
I had given Matt three other CH suggestions: "Distant Sun," from the Together Alone album; "She Called Up" (which my editors at the newspaper would have changed to "She Called" 😜), from Time on Earth; and "There Goes God," which is also from Woodface. And I also suggested two new songs by Rachael Yamagata (because I didn't want to look like an old fart who only enjoys yesterday's music): "Let Me Be Your Girl" and "Over." Btw, both CH and RY have released beautiful songs called "Elephants."
Matt told me he would probably play some of my other requests on future shows. Squee!
On the 17th, I went into the city to have lunch with Missy, Joyce, and Lynn for Missy's birthday. We went to a Le Pain Quotidien that's very close to Lynn's office. Lynn and I both got the Autumn Grain Bowl. It was so hearty and healthful, with quinoa, farro, roasted Brussels sprouts and butternut squash, kale, arugula, pecans, and goat cheese.
Here are photos of Lynn and Joyce ...
and Missy and me:
I took Missy homemade blondies. I followed this recipe from Broma Bakery except I substituted Melt-brand spread for the butter and, IIRC, I used mostly coconut palm sugar rather than traditional brown sugar. I made a double batch so Tony and I could enjoy some at home. They were good. More fudgy than cakey.
Before lunch, I had hung out for a bit at the main branch of the New York Public Library, which has a small, interesting exhibit titled Alexander Hamilton: Striver, Statesman, Scoundrel that's running through the end of the year. One factoid that's not mentioned on the web page I linked to above but was listed in the timeline in the brochure, which you can see here in pdf form, was that Hamilton's oldest son was killed in a duel three short years before Hamilton died after being shot in a duel by Aaron Burr.
The next day, Tony and I had lunch with Pat at Sprig & Vine. There was a ginormous St. Bernard near the entrance:
I had a side of Roasted Romanesco and Hakurei Turnip With Red Pepper Sauce and Aleppo Chile as my starter:
And for our mains, both Pat and I had my usual: the Forbidden Breakfast Burrito:
On Saturday, I picked up some halibut at Metropolitan Seafood to have for dinner. It was terrifically mild and meaty. I think even Dad and Tracey, who don't eat fish, might have enjoyed it if they'd been willing to try it.
Tony breaded it, got it crispy on all sides on the stove, and finished it in the oven.
I cooked kohlrabi with lime juice and salt as the only flavor enhancers; it started out as a sauté but ended up as a half-assed braise because I was concerned there wasn't enough liquid to finish cooking the chunks of kohlrabi in without burning them and I didn't want to pour more oil into the pan at the last minute. If I'd had another lime, I would have added lime juice instead of water.
I also ate leftover mashed potatoes and Japanese turnips I heated up in a cast-iron skillet. (Tony doesn't like leftover mashed starches; it's a texture thing.) And I made us a salad with lettuce from Sandbrook Meadow Farm and microgreens from Blue Moon Acres and a dressing consisting of grapeseed oil, rice vinegar, salt, and Penzeys Sunny Spain, which is basically lemon-pepper seasoning. And to drink, we had a white we buy regularly: the 2012 Champalou Vouvray, which is imported by Kermit Lynch, who both Tony and I picture as really being Kermit the Frog.
Here are my photos of the meal:
Before I buy more halibut—and I'm definitely inclined to—I'll have to ask the guys at Metropolitan whether it's wild or farm raised and, if the former, how it was caught.