Thursday, November 29, 2007


During this season we are quite naturally drawn to the comfort and warmth of light. If you think about it, most of the holiday season festivities are built around the concept of sustaining ourselves during the darkest time of the year. Of course, many take the comfort to extremes, but that is a discussion for later.

The other night (really only 5:30 pm) I was walking down a darkened street in Sacramento's Midtown district and came upon my favorite lighting store, Lumens. The large windows were filled with wonderful, colorful, unusual and beautiful lamps, light fixtures, and chandeliers. The store is design oriented and also carries household items by Alessi, Chillwich, and many others. It is high end, but most of the stock are things you'd keep for many years, and maybe even pass down. For more, go to:

If you are into design, I recommend Metropolis magazine. They have a straightforward practice of including all the design areas, from urban design and planning down to lighting design, in their palette. Always something interesting there to check out. For more, go to:

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Cranberry Sauce!

[Cranberry Harvest in New Jersey, photo originally from USDA, Wikimedia Commons]

Don't waste another Thanksgiving Day eating that jello from a can. Make your own sauce and be the envy of all. It's easy.


12 oz. fresh cranberries (wash and remove any bad berries)

1/2 cu. sugar

1 tsp. ground cloves

zest of one orange or tangerine

juice of one orange or tangerine

Combine the sugar, cloves and zest with 1/2 cu. water in a small to medium saucepan.

Place over medium to high heat.

Stir as the sugar melts.

Add the washed cranberries to the saucepan.

Stir continuously as the mix begins to simmer. The berries will begin to pop. You will notice the liquid getting redder. Stir for a few minutes. Take off the heat when it starts to look wonderful. (You will know.)
Tip: Leave some berries whole.

Set aside. After it cools for a bit, stir in the juice. Put it in the fridge. It will keep for 2-3 days.

Variations: use cinnamon, ginger, allspice alone or in various combinations with the cloves. Stir in chopped persimmons.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Crab Season In Limbo

The boats are in the docks, waiting to see who will go first. There is a prohibition on crab fishing in the inner bay and within 3 miles of the Pacific shore, but what about crabs that were (or will be) supposedly caught outside the restricted area? For now, the Bay Area has collectively lost its appetite.

We are all still in shock in the aftermath of the Cosco Busan accident at the West Span of the SF-Oakland Bay Bridge. The response phase is still underway, and is getting more complicated as time passes.

For articles and photos, go to:

I have lived in California for exactly 20 years this week. For years, I've marked time largely by disasters, both man-made and natural.

Will I be buying crab? Yes, from my trusted local fish market. Also, I hope that two good things will come out of the accident:1) a concerted public-agency effort in preparing for oil-spills in all of our coastal waters, and 2) more awareness in the general public about how fragile the oceans really are. (Climate change is only part of the discussion that needs to happen.)

On a lighter note, it is time for Beaujolais Nouveau. Will you be drinking some this year? TODAY is the yearly release date for this fresh wine. For more, go to:

Friday, November 9, 2007

Time Change/Family Guy

As of last week, we are back under the wing of darkness for much of our waking existence. Oh my, that does sound dramatic. It's just that daylight savings time has ended and it's often dark when I leave work. Hate it. Then again, maybe it's just cranky pants due to the biological shift. I've heard it takes a week or so, so be careful out there, especially driving.

My newest bad habit is Family Guy, which is now in syndication. I have been working on my Stewie impression for months. Take care, and I promise to write something more edifying soon!

Friday, November 2, 2007

A Visit to Cafe Gratitude

Yesterday, Cristin and Mariam and I drove to Berkeley for lunch at the Cafe Gratitude.
It is vegan and mostly raw food, which is not heated above a certain temperature. My entree was a thai-inspired dish made with quinoa. It came covered in watercress and smelling (pleasantly) like a pasture on a summer day. It was delicious.
I like the idea of raw food and will return. The funny thing about the place is that it seems to have borrowed its aesthetic from several infamous brainwashing cults of recent decades. You must order your food with its menu name. If you say, "I'll have the thai, " the server will rejoin with, "Oh, you mean you are graceful." Umm, OK. I guess I am graceful. Fun for five minutes.
The art on the walls has the saturated colors and sloganeering of some of the best propaganda art of the 20th century. I suspect they don't realize the irony of this. Irony has never been a strong suit among the nuts and berries crowd, and it is slightly surreal to see it so jarringly unacknowledged here.
But the food is yummy...and they do seem to mean well. But someone is no doubt gathering wealth from this elaborate exercise in new age branding.
Go to: