Archive for the 'Life' Category

Leaf lard apple pie

28 December 2011

Over lunch in Annapolis a few weeks ago, Jenny Stanley said, “If you want to make a great apple pie, use leaf lard.”

Leaf lard = “fat lining the abdomen and kidneys in hogs which is used to make lard [syn: leaf fat]”

So the Thursday before Christmas and the road trip up to Lake Tahoe to see the Lehoullier and Phillips clans with the promise of an apple pie, I stopped at the Ferry Terminal at the foot of Market Street on my way to the Larkspur Ferry to see if I could track down some of this porcine ambrosia. Chowhound had a discussion thread on where to find leaf lard in the Bay Area that pointed me to the Prather Ranch store first, but they were out (and quel horror!, the sales dude said, hey, you can use any ole lard for your apple pie, it’ll be just fine. No way! It’s leaf lard or nothing!)

So I headed down to the other end of the Terminal, to Golden Gate Meats and found it: leaf lard in a bag:

Plenty of time to get on the ferry. . .

. . . and over to Larkspur as the sun set.

The next morning, the work began. First, I cut the leaf lard into smaller pieces, and rendered it.

Rendered lard isn’t exactly the most attractive smelling item in the kitchen, as it turned out, but an open window helped. Then I strained the mixture. Humans got the rendered lard; Mingus the Super Dog got a pretty good snack of “cracklins” later that day.

Here’s what leaf lard looks like (phew!) after it’s been refrigerated. It’s a short step to a ball of piecrust dough.

I’ve been using Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything for most of my gastronomical explorations, and apple pie is no exception, so  following Mark’s advice I peeled, sliced and cored,  and added in all the tasty stuff.

With that, it was time to get this puppy into the oven!  Bake, dammit!

A little while later, THE PIE miraculously appeared out of the oven. 

I was worried, though. Would my relatives  like my leaf lard pie?

Was this. . .

Or this . . .

Or this . . .

. . . to be my pie-making destiny?

NO! It was not!

It was thumbs up all around!

My leaf lard apple pie was a little slice of heaven!

It was so good, it drove folks nuts!

I was pretty proud of my leaf lard apple pie.

I sure was.

Thanks Jenny!

(With thanks to son Noah, niece-in-law Sierra, and nephew-in-law Mo for the facial gestures)

MLK on jazz and life

14 December 2010

“God had wrought many things out of oppression. He has endowed his creatures with the capacity to create, and from this capacity have flowed the sweet songs of sorrow and of joy that have allowed man [sic] to cope with his environment in many situations.

Jazz sings of life. The blues tell the stories of life’s difficulties, and if you will think for a moment, you will realize that they take the harshest realities of life and put them into music only to come out with some new hope or sense of triumph. This is triumphant music. Modern Jazz has continued in this tradition singing the songs of more complicated urban existence.

When life itself offers no order and meaning, the musician creates an order and meaning from the sounds of earth which flow through his instrument…”

Martin Luther King in the forward to the program for the 1964 Berlin Jazz Festival

(h/t – and the entire text at – Downbeat Magazine, January 2011)

Megan Charlop

19 March 2010

The first thing you noticed was the color of Meg’s hair. No one had hair like hers – a deep, rich red-orange. As she got older, her hair weathered into a softer rust-red laced with gold.

Then you’d notice Meg’s big hazel eyes, that smile beaming at you from her open, round, face.

I’m sitting here trying to reconstruct a life from this poor excuse of mine for a memory. I resent needing to do this. I’m furious at the injustice of her absence. Read the rest of this entry »

Mingus the Super Dog at Kehoe Beach, New Years Day 2010

1 January 2010

Because it is most definitely not a work day

The Erdos Number and social nets

31 December 2009

My friend Don – we’ve been pals since elementary school – has one of the strongest moral centers of anyone I know (here‘s an example of what I mean, and here’s another side to this guy). I can remember back in high school sitting around a camp fire having one of those “meaning of life” conversations, when he caught me up short with the simple, obvious, and still true question we’re all struggling to answer. The question, he said, was simply, “how to live.” What are the ethics of a life well lived, he was asking. I still think that’s the essential question, partly because it’s something we can actually do something about.

Which brings me to Paul Erdos.

The other day I was listening to a show about “Numbers” from my absolutely all-time favorite podcast, Radiolab. The show featured a story about Paul Erdos and something called Erdos Numbers. (Sidebar: walking Mingus the Super Dog up the hill and down the hill yesterday I was thinking about this post, and it occurred to me that – while they’re quite different – Radiolab’s the aural equivalent of my all-time favorite magazine, the late, lamented, wish-it-was-still-around Whole Earth Review aka Coevolution Quarterly. Why? Because both are rich in sideways thinking, bringing the unexpected together with the everyday in brilliant moments of insight.)

Read the rest of this entry »

my new offi-cle. Or is it cub-ice?

30 December 2009

Hopefully not a sign of the Peter Principle at work. New work space, with a door that locks, but walls that leave a six foot gap to the ceiling.And a window out to the fire escape that doesn’t lock (but does open: yay. fresh air!)

Fairfax, Xmas eve, 2009

25 December 2009

Mingus the Super Dog: he’s back!

11 December 2009

And he’s wishing everyone a Happy Hanukah!

As for me – it’s been a slow time here at Maimonides Ladder the past couple of months – my attention/energy/thinking cap has been focused elsewhere. Particularly with changes at MoJo, with Madeleine Buckingham and me taking on lead management roles in early November as Jay Harris, after 19 years, stepped back. Not to mention putting a budget for next year together. And all that end of year fundraising. And a fantastic event in NYC with Mark Bittman. It’s not over yet, but it feels like we’re reached the top of the anxiety curve. Couple of posts in the works…

It’s been quite a year, though.

Hasn’t it, Mingus?

Friday dog blogging, 4 September 2009: a good day, a good day.

4 September 2009

The long weekend has officially begun, it’s after 5, the MoJolers still in the office are no doubt deep into Friday Happy Hour, and I’m sitting on the front deck listening to Rosanne Cash while Mingus the Super Dog catnaps in the sun. A good day, a good day…

With both of my older brothers having had prostate cancer I’ve been dealing with this for the past year or so; when Jeff Jarvis blogged about his prostate cancer situation, I posted this. Fortunately, I started early enough that it looks like an intense round of work with Michael Broffman of the Pine Street Clinic is helping, a lot.

As probably every middle aged guy in the US should know by now, docs start looking at you funny when your PSA score heads north of 2.5, and then they start looking really serious after it tops 4.0. That’s where my PSA numbers were back in December, and after a couple of inconclusive biopies, that’s when I started downing a smorgasbord of vitamins and herbal doodahs 4 times a day. I admit to being skeptical.

The first data point came back in May, when my PSA dropped to 1.74. That was pretty amazing. But I thought, hell, one number, who’s to say what it really means? So I metaphorically held my breath for another 4 months or so, and got some more blood drawn before I headed out on a backpacking trip up on Glacier National Park with my pals Steve Lyons and Buck Parker. The number of the day: 1.56.

Sometimes something as simple as a number helps make a good day really good.

Friday dog blogging, 14 August 2009

14 August 2009

Mingus the Super Dog is looking at me with cross-eyed impatience: hey! when are we getting out of here for my walk!

Not yet, big guy. It’s a working day…

But here’s one version of dog heaven, from the vacation archive – the creek at the base of the Ashland dog park.


Meanwhile, I’m listening to Barack in Montana courtesy of The Uptake – he just finished his pitch, and is about to open it up to questions. “We haven’t pre-screened the questions.” The proverbial rubber is hitting the proverbial road, right now.