Friday, January 12, 2007

Kiss the Cook!

I love to cook and I am quite good at it. I don't do nearly enough of it but part of my whole "2007 thing" is that I want to start cooking more and I want to post new recipes on here as I make them. (If I really like them that is.)
Tonight I made halibut. Over the summer we went to Alaska and I caught a bunch. We put it in the freezer and we have been slowly defrosting it and eating it every couple of weeks. Since we have a lot of it, and since I caught it myself, we try to find creative ways to cook it up. Since I have a lot of Alaskan readers, and I know all real Alaskans have a freezer full of fish (Unless you don't eat things with a face) I thought you might appreciate this recipe. I found it online and it turned out really yummy. Even Darian cleaned her plate and she is the pickiest eater ever. Jon said it was restaurant yummy. Cool!


1 pound halibut, tuna, or swordfish steaks
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (I just squeezed half a lime over the halibut chunks in the strainer)
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce (I would use slightly less than this)
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger (Make sure it is fresh, it really makes a difference)
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil (I used a smidge more when adding the fish)
1/2 cup slivered red or yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro

Cut halibut into 1-inch pieces; sprinkle with lime juice. Blend
soy sauce into cornstarch in cup until smooth; stir in ginger. Heat
oil in wok or large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion
and garlic; stir-fry 2 minutes. Add halibut; stir-fry 2 minutes
or until halibut is opaque. Stir soy sauce mixture; add to wok.
Stir-fry 30 seconds or until sauce boils and thickens. Sprinkle
with cilantro. Garnish with lime wedges, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

As a side I made a "salad" which was just red, yellow, and orange peppers cut into spears and drizzled with veggie oil and a really nice *aged balsamic vinegar. (I would have added some sesame seeds to the peppers if I had any on hand, but it was fine without them.)

I squeezed a fresh lime over the whole dish before I served it. It was very fresh and yummy. It had an almost summer vibe. If I had to change anything I would have probably used a little less soy sauce. Just a smidge less, otherwise it was great. Also, you have to keep a close eye on your fish, because it is really easy to overcook halibut! I've been doing it long enough to know, but some people overestimate the cooking time when they are used to working with larger fillets and not 1 inch pieces.
A helpful hint when cooking fish in a skillet. Plate the food just as it is finishing. DO NOT leave it in the skillet because even if you turn the heat off, the pan is still hot enough to continue cooking it. You will go back for seconds and have rubbery fish!

*I can't stress how much difference a nice Balsamic makes. I think people who dabble in cooking should really consider taking their balsamic as seriously as some people take their wine. Would you rather drink a $5 bottle of wine or a $20 bottle of wine or a $60 bottle of wine? Trust me, a small investment in a good balsamic really makes a world of difference and you can really make it last because a little goes a long way, so it is worth the investment! You can find some really decent ones for around $20. (But if you are anything like me you will start working your way up the Balsamic ladder because you will see what a difference there can be! It is a true art.)

I'm gonna see the movies of my dreams...

We have snow again. (of course)

All week I have been looking forward to shooting the rest of my footage for the video I am making. It is all outdoor footage that I have left to shoot. With the snow on the ground it messes up the shots. It will change things for the shots I already did last weekend and make it hard to make it all look like the same day.
How I see it, I have two choices:
I can either wait another week (which is really hard for me. I HATE waiting for anything. I'm just not good at it)
OR I can re-shoot and re-edit everything I already shot outdoors. (This sucks because I am a little lazy and don't feel like doing it all over again.)
I guess I could throw in a third choice where I just don't care if it looks like it is on different days, it changes the story a bit but I'm the one who is writing the story so I could change it...
Hmmmmm... What to do? What to do?

I just hate waiting. I want to do it now while I am still inspired to do it. I like to ride waves of inspiration, if I wait too long, I lose my inspiration and it takes me forever to get back on track. (I'm pretty fickle)

Also, if you know of any good (free) Podcasting hosting sites (Think youtube for podcasters) please send the info my way. As soon as I find a host site I have quite the treat for you. Something I have been working on in my secret laboratory! (I'm trying to stay on track for 2007, can you tell?)

Monday, January 08, 2007

Happy 10th anniversary Seattle! It has been an interesting affair.

Ten Years ago today I started renting a one bedroom apartment in Seattle's lovely Capitol Hill area. It was not the first time I lived in Seattle, but it is the first time I lived here alone (well sort of, I had a two year old) I had been visiting Seattle a lot between 1994 and 1997 but I knew it was time to just take the plunge and move here for good.
I was getting ready to start school for Audio Engineering and music business (Hahahahaha) and I was ready to start my life as a young mother. I had been hibernating in Alaska from the time my daughter was born up until this point.
Things were very exciting, my options were limitless, everything was possible and I had dreams bigger than the world. I had a very Zen way of thinking back then where I just decided that if I stayed positive, life would give me what I needed when I needed it, and for the most part that stayed true for me for a long time.
I called Jon the day my phone got turned on to tell him I lived here now and to invite him to come see my band play. It had been over a year since we last said goodbye. It turns out he was living five blocks from my new place. He told me that we could not be friends. It felt like my welcome to Seattle was getting the door slammed in my face. My heart broke right then and stayed that way for a very very long time.
I was playing bass in a really loud band that I somehow convinced to move up here with me (Probably because the singer was in love with me, but that is another story where I am the villain so I won't share.) I had my rent paid up for a few months and had zero furniture.
The first few nights Darian and I crashed in sleeping bags on the floor of the apartment. We ate out of containers from the deli and just generally kicked back and started to get things sorted. Eventually we filled the apartment with thrift store furniture. My dad was kind enough to let me use his credit card to fill my kid's area of the room with toys and furniture.
I bought a crappy brown 1979(?) Toyota Corolla for $400 sight unseen and it was waiting for me in the parking lot when I got to Seattle. I remember that back then I was just excited that it had a tape deck that worked. I was lucky that it actually worked too. I ended up driving that car until the doors were literally falling off. It never broke down.
I learned how to drive in the city in that car. The I-5 was an accidental experience. Talk about trial by fire! I took a turn that put me on a freeway entrance. I found myself driving down the busiest, craziest road I had ever driven on in that clunky old car. I managed to survive and now I am OK with driving on the freeway.
My first big lesson in the big city.

I needed to figure out daycare for when school started. I really had no clue as to what I was going to do. I had a couple of friends who had moved here from Alaska about eight months before me, but they had the same daycare issues as I did. I was extremely lucky with an ex boyfriend of mine showed up on my doorstep. We were never too serious back "in the day" and we had always remained friends when the romatic protion had ended.
He was an artist and had moved from Alaska to pursue that dream for a while. I made a deal with him that if he watched my daughter when I went to school and for band practice and shows I would let him live at my place for free. That way he could focus on his art and I didn't have to use daycare I didn't trust and that I couldnot afford. We knew we could be in close quarters without driving one another nuts and we already got the possibilities of romance between us out of our systems ages ago, so it seemed like a win win situation.
It worked too. We never even had one fight in the two years he lived there.
We turned my tiny one bedroom apartment into a three person abode for two full years without incident. He did date pretty much every one of my female friends, but I think that was considered more of a perk by him than anything else.
He eventually fell for a girl and had to leave town. It was sad to see him go, but we knew we could not live "commune style" forever.
I didn't really date much during that time. I went out to dinner a lot, had a few first kisses, but it never went beyond that. I sometimes wonder if it is because of the living situation. At the time it never occurred to me, but in hindsight...
Here I am taking boys home to meet the family, "Here is my toddler. And who's that guy who lives in the living room? Well, that is my ex boyfriend who is just my friend now so you don't have to worry. He watches my daughter for me."
Back when I was young I just assumed that if there was nothing going on, people should just trust it and be OK with it. I honestly didn't even think about it back then. I just figured people who didn't understand were stupid. Ah, the hard head of youth.

Honestly, I was so busy during that time, the very last thing I wanted in my life was a boyfriend. I went out on a lot of first dates in that first year in Seattle. Some of those dates turned into some of my best guy friends, but rarely did I ever feel a romantic spark. Like I said, I was in school, in a band, working PT and just too busy. And for me, I've always been a bit of a serial monogamer. The minute I get into a relationship with someone, it feels like I blink and two years are gone. I didn't want that to happen when my daughter was so young. I didn't have the time to deal with someone else's BS. I was also still in love with Jon, who only lived five blocks down the street from me but didn't talk to me anymore. I don't recommend it. Living five blocks from the one person you had ever really loved who doesn't want to see you. It is hell.
During that time I heard a lot of guys tell me "Michelle, you are really nice, but I feel like you are emotionally unavailable."
Well, duh.
I would run into Jon from time to time at clubs, but during that whole time he never came to one of my shows. (Not that I'm bitter) Now, of course, he wishes he had, but at the time...
So other than the fact that my heart was in a state of being perma-broken back then, the rest of my life was pretty peachy.

I started going to Moe and OK Hotel pretty regularly by myself just to watch bands. I had never really gone to live rock shows before I moved to Seattle. Other than the shows I played, which were not many before we moved to Seattle and the Koots cover bands which just don't count. I had been to see fewer national acts than I can count on both hands (The Posies shows where I met Jon being one of those).
I had always been into industrial music when I lived in Seattle in 1992. I mostly went to Goth nights at dance clubs. The few shows I did see were Dead Can Dance and NIN. I didn't revisit my love for Pop and Folk until after I had a baby. I had originally wanted to do sound because I wanted to create all of those crazy Goth/Industrial effects. (Bet you didn't know that.) It is hard to believe now, and honestly, I sometimes rewrite that history a little when meeting new people because it is easier to swallow for them than "Yeah, I used to live for black lipstick and ultra pointy shoes and Coil and Alien Sex Fiend and Skinny Puppy and Bauhaus!"
I used to be what I liked to call the anti-pretty.

Going to shows alone led me to meeting a lot of really nice people right away. I was lucky too, because my band opened for a band called TubeTop in Alaska just before I moved to Seattle. That is how I became friends with Gavin. He took me under his wing and introduced me to a lot of people. He brought me to a lot of parties and I met 90% of the people who are still my friends to date. He also made sure that in those first years, I always had someone to hang out with on my birthday. He was ever the gentleman and is still one of my best friends today.

And that pretty much sets up the scene for my first years in Seattle.

I've changed a lot in the last ten years.
My hair has been the entire color spectrum (It was platinum blonde when I moved to Seattle.)
I realized that audio engineering is not a full time job for a single mom (Too bad I didn't realize that until after I spent $30k on school), music is not a business where a paycheck is involved.
I've watched my daughter go from a baby to a young woman who I could not be prouder of.
I have become a little less wide eyed, trusting and a lot more reserved.
I've made a couple of really bad records and a couple of really good records and one really great record.
I've had crushes, I've been crushed, I've been engaged and I've been married. (And it just so happens that I married the person who was never going to talk to me again)
I lost a few friends to accidents and to disease and I've held someone's hand and watch them literally draw their last breath.
I've watched my reflection change in the mirror and redefined what is important to me and decided I would no longer be defined by that reflection no matter what anyone says to me.
I learned to love myself.
I learned to live for myself and my daughter.
I learned to walk away from bad situations and that I can't fix everything or everyone who asks me for help.
I've lived the roller-coaster of love and loss and love and loss and love....
I've gone to the brink and looked into the nothing and came back swinging.
I've made some of the best friends I could ever dream of making and
I've seen more of the world than I ever imagined I ever would.

For a single mom from Eagle River, Alaska; I've done OK over the last ten years.

Why Brief Encounter is one of the greatest movies ever.

At the end of Brief Encounter, no matter how many times I watch it, the moment when he puts his hand on her shoulder and gives her a quick squeeze and walks out the door I sit at the edge of my seat and hold my breath. I watch her run outside, and I always hope that he will have missed his train this time. I hope that this time he will be standing there waiting for her to come after him. But he never is.
I think that is why I love that movie so much. I love it because, even though I know how it ends, it makes me hope it could end differently. Every time. Without fail.

It is perfect.

(In case you were wondering, I bought myself the all new special edition for xmas, that is why I have been watching it again. If you don't own it already, buy the special edition. Totally worth it.)

Sunday, January 07, 2007

I was visited by the ghost of a stupid song...

This entire weekend was all about music. On Friday I went to the studio to play a clarinet solo on my friend Gavin’s new record. I love Gavin’s music so this was a huge honor to be invited to play. My favorite comment of the evening was ‘It is getting very Brian Wilson in here!”
It has been a while since I played but we managed to get a good little solo down. It also inspired me to start playing my clarinet more. I think I might have to start incorporating it into more of my own stuff.

Then Saturday eve Jon and I were going to start recording one of my songs. My plan was to have something up before the New Year but I got really sick and could barely talk, much less sing. Friday was the first day in a while where I thought I might be able to record, so we made a plan.

We started recording a song that I wrote just for home recording. It was super simple and didn’t take too much vocal control. (I am SO out of practice!) I wanted the first one to be fun and not a challenge just to shake the cobwebs out. (I'm also not 100% after having the worlds worst cold. Singing + phlegm = ungood)
I did the guitar track and then just as we finished the vocals Jon played the song back. It sounded really good but… it was just stupid. The song was stupid. I hated the lyrics. I don’t know what I was thinking when I wrote it. The lyrics were just silly and I was not about to show it to anyone until I did a major rewrite.
So after we had wasted an hour or three on that (sorry Jon) I told him to scrap it. By then I was getting tired. So we started messing around with a song idea that I had. As the night turned into morning, the song progressed into a very experimental sounding tidbit. Jon put some heavy effects on my jazz clarinet part making it sound like space talk. Jon played a teeny little keyboard for what was originally a guitar part. I played the guitar parts and I sang. Jon did some human beat box drum sound on it too. The end result sounded like we were sitting around in a cloud of smoke while writing this stuff. Twas not the case, but I am sure sleep deprivation and red wine had a lot to do with it.

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