The first November snow


 

The anticipation of snow from a 9-year old is as intense as waiting to see if you’ve been accepted on a bid for a future home or seeing if you get upgraded to business class, ok maybe not, I just can’t decribe it.It’s Santa, the tooth fairy and the Easter Bunny all wrapped in one. The snow to Seb is still magical, we’ll see how he feels 4 months from now.  Seb spent most of his life in Los Angeles, California. His early years in Tokyo showed a few flurries and in Italy, he experienced the real snowy alps, but he was too young to really remember. This is my son’s first winter living in Detroit and his excitement turned a quiet, dark sleeping house into one of chaos. He set his alarm for 6AM to see the snow. As a matter-of-fact, I had told him it would begin snowing at 6AM not knowing he’d actually set an alarm. Lucky I didn’t really tell him my Iphone showed 3AM. 6AM this morning to me felt like the worst Jet-lag where your brain is foggy and body  dizzy and weak as if you are about to pass out.  Getting that Nespresso puck into the machine as fast as possible with the belief that caffeine will erase a sleepless night is my morning ritual after nights like this one. For the most part caffeine helps me until I’ve had one shot too many, kind of like alcohol. But the effect isn’t as the fun as the rambling, nonsensical conversations from one glass too many.  It’s more like a stressful, nervous feeling with thoughts of a true panic attack or could it be early signs of a heart attack until you do your yoga breathing or meditative thoughts to realize it’s just too much caffeine. At least that’s how I get when I ask for the triple grande non-fat latte after I’ve already had a few nespressos at home. I call the triple grande, nonfat latte the “molto complicato” my friend and I giggle about it as we seem to be always on the phone talking to each other when at least one of us is at the Starbucks counter shyly asking for our strange and complicated, high maintenance order while the other listens.  The best is to get the friend in conversation and while they are talking, quickly press mute and spit out your order.  However this can back fire as they always ask for your name. I say Karine, and what kills me is my phone call is thwarted when they ask me how to spell it. Dam, my friend stopped talking. I say,  “k, a,r, i,n,e” ” You’re at Starbucks! ” my friend exclaims on the other line. She and I both lived in Italy and are embarrased by our new Americanized coffee habits. In Italy it was straight forward, no skinny this, half caf that, etc.  Capuccino, espresso, doppio, machiato or doppio machiato. The closest thing to complicato was the Maruquena which had chocolate drizzled in the cup before the espresso would drip down and whipped cream on top, but this was only on special occasions. Pumkin spice brulee toasted nut latte, peppermint dream cream and all of that or in the summer, frazle dazzle berry go nuts… I don’t know the actual names of the coffee drinks would be fun to have a job to name them. They don’t exist in the real word other than the land of Starbucks.  Another annoying thing about coffee is getting it for others or even making it for others. Yes, I seem to be a bitch but you all know what I’m talking about.   I would ask my collegues when making an afternoon coffee run if they wanted coffee I’d be crossing my fingers behind my back in hopes they’d decline, not because I’m cheap, I’m just impatient. Well sometimes I was on a budget and just had enough after their order to get the plain drip-short, not even tall, grande or venti.  The worse is when you get an order of 4 or more exclusive “molto complicato” drinks.  First it takes about 10 mins to write down the order, you loose the paper then call the person while standing at the counter with 5 people waiting impatiently behind.  “What did you want? A tall, what?  Oh a grande, skinny, half caf decaf, with a shot of vanilla? Anyway, kids are lucky.  They wake right up and are alive. Seb was ready to go this snowy morning.  The thrill of him seeing the snow brought back my own happy childhood memories of building snow jumps, tunnels, sledding till your face is red, blue and pink with no feeling.  My sister and I  were lucky, we had the best hill on the block, in Leverett, Massachusetts.  All the neighbor kids would congregate on our hill. We played for hours till we had no more feeling in our toes and fingers. I even remember being sick and stuck inside watching everyone from the bathroom window by standing on the bathtub to catch a peek at my friends and sister playing in the snow.

But today snow can’t even make me feel alive, I’m tired. I want to go back to bed.  Our night last night went a bit like this…. Seb  finally asleep at 9:30 just before Paul got back from Los Angeles.  Paul and I had a small dinner at 10PM- we are Spainyards at heart… we watched TV till 11 or 11:30. Paul put Lilly, our puppy in her crate for the night. 3AM my son wakes, he’s thirsty, actually so am I, we aren’t used to the heaters in the winter. Lucky the Iphone was wrong and it didn’t start snowing yet or Seb would have never fallen back asleep. Seb got back to bed, but then Lilly woke. Paul and I argue about whose turn it is to take Lilly out by trying to win the war on who is more tired. I loose and take Lilly outside. At 6AM Seb’s alarm goes off and we start again the argument of whose turn it is to wake-up. I win and get to be horizontal for just a few more minutes.  This is how I feel every morning….see photo 😉IMG_2821

 

Stuffing and IRS

It’s Monday morning with snow still on the ground. The day started off normally, aside that fact that my son and I were trying to figure if one goes to school with boots or without in snowy Michigan weather. We decided to go with the boots. I carefully place his sneakers in a ziplock bag, in his backpack.  After dropping him at school I sat at my computer in my kitchen office thinking of what to do first. I’m not scheduled to work during this downtime in Fashion so my day is pretty open. Thanksgiving is in a few days so I start to scan through different recipes for chestnut stuffing on the internet and find a few that look interesting. The home phone rings. I never answer it as it’s usually a scam or someone trying to get me to sign up for an alarm system, buy new windows or get life insurance. The only reason I have a home phone is due to my fear of loosing cell service with my mobile phone. Living through 9/11 in NYC when the cell towers literally fell and then 12-years ago in Detroit with the black-out that lasted days made me want a land line. I answer the phone.  It’s a recording saying that my name is involved in a lawsuit. Normally, I would hang-up at the sound of the recording but because I’ve received 3 letters of concern from the LA City Government office, I think it’s real and serious. I write the number the recording tells me to call. I immediately phone this 202 area code number. A man with a foreign accent answers stating he’s an IRS employee and asks for my name. I  barely understand him and he barely understand me.  He looked up my name and was able to tell me where I lived, address and all!!!! He also told me I owed $9,750 dollars and if I didn’t pay the lawsuit would begin.  Normally, I would think this was a scam and tell him to go F himself, but again, due to the official looking documents I received prior, I believed him. The foreign man on the phone when I asked if they got my certified letter that I had written back in October responding to this nonsense letting the government know that I made peanuts, he said they received it and that I no longer owed $54,750 but now just $9,750-just… just??? Discount!!!? I said I needed time to investigate. He said I should get legal representation and that it’s now in the Michigan State’s hands. He was brief and ended our call by telling me someone would come to my home today between 12-2pm to investigate. To investigate this 3-year mess up.  What? I have always payed taxes, been honest, well… honest? Maybe a few restaurant receipts and nail salon visits weren’t exactly “work-related” but for the most part, I didn’t do a thing wrong.

Now in tears I freak out. At the same time I receive messages from a good friend telling me her husband didn’t cheat on her and she feels better… I roll my eyes and wonder what the hell is going on. I feel like I am wrongly accused and things could get worse. My friend’s partner’s car got re- possesed due to a billing mishap and was car-less for over a week, when it wasn’t his fault. What could they take from me? I think if they come I will give him the stored paintings Paul made back in NYC as a starving artist. It could be worth 9grand-They are huge and very graphic which is why we store them as the religious Michiganders don’t appreciate it. I start thinking what could they do or take. But then Paul says the worst, that they could take me!  They could arrest me.  Chaos and the overwhelming feeling of doom. Paul and I are in shock. We call our CPA every name in the book. “What the hell, we pay to get our taxes done and now this?”  I call our brother-in-law who is a chief of police. I try to make myself clear and concise, but like usual, I’m all over the place. His calm cop-like manner brings things back to a calming place. Visions of me spending Thanksgiving in the clink start to dissolve and maybe after all I’ll get to make my chestnut stuffing. My brother-in-law tells me it’s a scam. I’m convinced it’s not. He looks up the number that I called from the recording and it comes up on his police files as an IRS scam. He asks me to send him a bullet point email with dates and info so he can start a case. Funny, he must somehow know my writing, most who tell me to write bullet points are trying to tell me nicely to stop being so longwinded and tangental.

I decided to also CC my CPA on this bullet point email. I ask Paul for the email address of our CPA. Tensions are still high. “I sent it to you already.”Shouts Paul. “I know Paul, but please send the contact info, again, that was a month ago, I don’t have it anymore.” “But, why won’t you just press ‘add to contact?”, what if I drop dead? ” snaps Paul. With tears from the drama I retort, “If you dropped dead, then I’d just go into your phone!” I start hysterically crying from all the stress and tension from the past 30-minutes.  Paul then hands me my phone, I take it and add the contact like a scolded 5-year old.  I gaze at my email with blurry, tear-filled eyes trying to proof-read it before sending it to the chief of police and CPA. Paul says, “Get a grip,I love you.”He leaves for work and I sit here wondering what happened to the morning.  I wonder if the phone call today is related to the letters I’ve been receiving? Well, I just received from my CPA

Hi Karine,
The City of LA is something entirely different and only coincidental that you are dealing with them and receiving the IRS scamming phone call.
The “IRS” call is a scam and you should ignore.  The IRS will always mail you their issues with several attempts at mailing to you so ignore the phone call that purports to be the IRS.
Bummer….

Deliciously Armani

Yesterday was a strange day. I went for my Apple One-on-One training at the Mac store, at the Somerset Mall. I needed to brush up on Imovie. I realized in trying to film and edit my 1st episode of Deliciously Detroit, amnesia hit and I couldn’t remember anything or more like Imovie is constantly changing. It’s been a slow start to my filming process.

I thought it would be cool to show cooking from my perspective with a  Gopro.  With luck after joining Costco, there was Hero3 silver Gopro for sale and a $50 rebate. Sweet! It’s not the latest model, but for my cooking show, it would do. After all,  I’m not exactly taking jumps off the alps or longboarding down the PCH anymore, well not that I ever was. I got my Gopro in September, I never figured out how to mail in the $50 rebate, but anyway, I had a new device to start filming  Deliciously Detroit episodes. Alas, it’s now November. I don’t know if any of you are my age, but the fear of programming a VCR kicked in. I must have a type of adult ADD! Reading directions just freaks me out. I opened the box, looked at the components and just got overwhelmed and carefully placed everything back in the box and put it in a drawer. A few days later I tried again. This time I did it with a guy on youtube opening up the same Gopro box. It worked, I was ready to start, well until the guy on youtube mentioned I needed an SD card. So one click shopping on Amazon and two days later with my Amazon Prime, the SD was here. I was ready. I first tried it on my head, I couldn’t see what I was doing nor could the future viewer.  My filming was dizzy and nausea inspiring. I then set it up on a bunch of cookbooks and random objects that would hold it up to seem steady. This just gave a huge wide angle. I seemed distant in the frame and my voice was barely audible. I also noticed how bad I looked and acted on camera. I looked shifty, I discovered I had twitches of a mentally disturbed person. Seriously how many times can one twirl their hair, touch their earring, move side to side, tap one’s foot? I did all and more in less than 3 minutes!!  Now I remember back 12 years ago, why my Creative Director wanted me to take copywriting presentation class!  The natural became unnatural. My friend said I needed a script, but how to read it while looking in the camera, when I couldn’t even figure out where to look into the gopro even without a script? I guess Rachel Ray isn’t such an idiot after all!

That night, I decided I needed an old school camcorder along with the Gopro. I found my camcorder in our last few moving boxes. If you didn’t know, we just moved from California to Detroit. On every move there are always a few unpacked boxes, typically the boxes that are Pandora-like, filled with junk, uncatergorized memories, old cell phones, silly objects, souvenirs, basically junk.  If the box had fallen in the Pacific, I’d probably not miss it. We’ve moved from NYC-Detroit-Tokyo-Milan-Los Angeles and now back to Detroit in the past 13 years. That’s a lot of boxes and a lot of junk.

Back to my efforts to launch Deliciously Detroit…. My road to stardom was put on pause once again when I discovered  the cord to charge the camera was missing.  Every swear word came into mind cursing the movers that packed us.  They were not the smartest. Why would you not put the cord with the camcorder?  Anyway, we tore every last moving box apart. This went on for days. I became obsessed searching for this cord.  Finally, I gave up. I couldn’t search in the same box again for the 3rd time. My new search began on the internet trying to decifer the serial and make of my camcorder. Ebay saved the day, I found the cord and put in a bid for $20 as I felt their $50 asking price was a bit extreme. I was notified via email I lost out on the bid…so a few days later, miraculously I found a little company on the internet that sold old Sony parts. My Sony camcorder dates back to Tokyo Days when my son was a newborn-9 years ago. It’s old. It uses tapes, in camcorder speak, it’s ancient.

Two days later my friendly UPS man shows up with my shiny new cord. I’ve become friendly with him as he comes daily with chairs, tables, nerf guns, pillows, lamps, legos, whatever it takes to get our place set up and my 9-year old occupied while doing so.

Excitedly, I plug the cord into the camera.  Yes!  There is life:  a little bleep, bing, blip sound cries out. Joy, it was gonna charge. That evening in hopes of filming my Deliciously Detroit Maigret de Canard, I discovered the camera was dead! I tried over and over to hear any sound of life. There was no bling, bleep or bing, nothing.  At this point I think maybe the battery pack died. This time Amazon prime saves the day with one click,  the battery pack arrives two days later, same UPS man brings it to me. I open it up, place it on the camera and nothing. I do it over and over,like trying to revive our dead goldfish!   It wasn’t the battery pack. The camcorder that filmed funky cherry blossoms festivals in Tokyo, my son’s first steps, my sister’s wedding, moments in Malta, Milan, and Michigan, cute toddler performances, my grandfathers last moments…was gone. I was crushed.  You must be thinking it’s just a camera and I’m a drama queen, but my Sony’s death started thoughts of “What the hell am I doing with my life?” and “Should I get a normal 9-5 job and stop my side Fashion Rep job and dreams of writing and making food?” “Do I go back to advertising and work the grueling copywriter hours?”  Oh wait, I’d never see my 9-year old and oh I forgot in a field where most at my level are in there 30s with the mentality of a 1st grader, this wasn’t possible. That day I decided to look up headhunters and suck it up and do any job. I’ve done a lot since leaving Detroit Advertising. I did voice overs, I was a robot on Tokyo TV, a sultry jeans spokesperson on a Guess video in Italy.  I was also a school teacher at an international school in Japan, a shiatsu masseuse in Italy, a landscaper on the rooftops in NYC, a hostess at the infamous Les Halles, thanks to Antony Bourdain and the list goes on. So now what?  Do I get a Masters at CCS in design?  Do I really need another degree I’ve already gone back to school out of survival learning Japanese and Italian. I can’t think of making it happen again, my brain is slightly saturated for anything other than food, fashion and fun.  So now what?  What can I do?  The one thing that has remained the same is my passion for food and cooking. I love looking at food photos, reading recipes, I’m a Food Network and Cooking channel addict.  I pretend I’m on Top Chef or the Iron Chef.  Confused and a bit depressed with lack of direction, I reached out to my previous Excutive Creative Director. I wrote him a plea for help and advice. To sum up his email reply, he said to follow your dreams and passion. He always said his favorite quote was “Go in the direction you fear!” Mine fear is poverty-kidding, but my direction won’t pay much, at least for now until I am discovered ;). After showing my husband my old bosses email Paul, my husband said, “Just get your early Christmas present and buy yourself a camcorder!”  That night I researched all different kinds…. I’m not a professional, so couldn’t I just get a 200 dollar one? Or should I splurge and learn yet another device for $800 dollars?  I slept on this. Now back to my Mac class. That was the next day.  This is when I met my savvy young, tech tutor and told him my goals in filming Deliciously Detroit. He suggested I use my iphone and Gopro. Of course, the Iphone!  After a quick lesson in Imovie and learning that I needed to update my programs to El Capitain, I bought a mini tripod.  I thanked him and left the Mac store cutting through Saks Fifth Avenue, to get to the parking lot.  The make-up counter lady, a late middle aged, overly made up woman nabbed me. She excitedly told me the reknowned make-up artist for Armani fashion shows was here and that he would make me look like a million bucks. Hmmm, I decided to sit in her make-up high chair and listen to her babble on about this cream and that cream. She then asked me what my goals were… argh, this again, I don’t know what I want to do, or more specifically, I know what I want to do, I’m just am having trouble doing it. She looks at me with a blank look.  Oh wait, I’m an idiot, she’s not asking life goals, she was interested in my skin goals, a lot more shallow and something I could easily answer. I’m all about make-up and fashion talk.  Relieved I rambled about my skin and make-up goals, something I became an expert at doing after living 4 plus years in LA.  Actually, check out my  Hair Goal story I wrote a few years ago.  Hair Goal | lifeinpv.wordpress.com

After a bit of wine and pampering, I caved and bought the $38 lipstick number 503 and the navy blue mascara which aparantly, Armani says “It’s the “new black!” So there you have it, my new look.  A little make-up goes a long way and I have to say I’m a make-up whore who barely wears any. It’s my hoarder side of collecting make-up. I collect eye shadows, lipsticks, eye liners, any new gadget that is to improve my look. I have lipsticks upon lipsticks. It all started in 2000 when I first walked through the Saks Make-up department. A freaky looking woman asked me to sit down in her chair. That moment I was hypnotized believing I needed a special brush to apply lipstick, that I’ve been doing it all wrong for all those years. It didn’t take long for me to become a faithful Nars addict, I sometimes flirted with Mac and Smashbox but for the most part it was all about Nars until my sister did a type of intervention. She was tired of my red,bold eyeshadows with the hot pink blush with a name like Orgasm. According to her I was borderline hooking material or ghetto mom. So on my visit to see her in Geneva, Switzerland where she still currently lives,  she raced me immediately after picking me up at the train station to the Laura Mercier counter to get my make-up done.  4-years since that day I was married to Laura Mercier. Today I’m getting a divorce from Laura and her make-up will be piled up like my son’s hundreds of Hot Wheel cars still in a box unplayed with since the move. Cadavers in a back make up drawer : stale Nars blushes and Smash box eyeshadows, dozens of lip glosses probably expired and other random items with promises of beauty and fame. My shiny new Armani is moving in. Maybe it was the glass of Simi white wine they offered me that swayed my opinion?  Maybe it was the oudles of compliments the lovely perfume women gave me at the Bond NYC Saks counter? Who knows, but I felt Deliciously Detroit!  The creams are divine. The foundation is like no other. You can’t tell you are wearing it and it feels luxurious, well it is at $80 a tube. Immediately upon returning home I fixed my iphone into the nifty little tripod and was ready to film.  I did a bunch of tests trying to figure out where to look to make it seem as though I was talking to the camera. My “on-camera” presence still sucked! I still need practice but my new look is on target. I’m almost ready! Soon to come Deliciously Detroit.  IMG_2773

Grilled tuna with mango chutney

I love fish…. but what’s even better is when it has a great sauce, salsa or chutney!  This is my go to salsa for tuna and it’s super easy.

Cube one fresh mango, but if your greedy for this chutney like my husband and I are, double the recipe.

Chop up a bunch of cilantro

1/4 chopped red onion

1/2 cup lime juice

1 inch grated fresh ginger

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 chopped spicy pepper or jalapeno

And voila!!!!

Any side will do.  If you make rice, it goes well with salsa.  I made stuffed zucchini rounds.  I stuffed it with tomatoes, zucchini pulp, 3 tablespoons of bread crumbs with two tablespoons of grated parmesan cheese.  Back until browned on top.  Takes about 30 minutes at 350 in oven.  For the last 5 mins I like to put the zucchini on broil.

 

Going Thai

This was a great little party ad on.  I made Fresh Summer Rolls and Spicy Beef salad.  I only have a before photos but to turn the summer rolls into nibbles I cut them up into 4 pieces per roll and placed them on a pretty platter with the dipping sauce in the middle.

Spicy Beef salad a la Deliciously Detroit.

We just recently left our sunny California home to move to Detroit.  I had a favorite Thai delivery restaurant in Los Angeles and alas haven’t had any luck here, yet.  However, I’m sure I’ll find things as the food, restaurants and grocery markets are Deliciously Detroit!

But…. I made this from my thai cooking book and it came out quite nice and took as long as calling up the order and getting it delivered-somehow they would always say “forty-five minutes for delivery and on a busy night 1.5 hours!”

Ingredients: 

1/4 red onion thinly sliced

1 cup chopped cilantro

a few sprigs of mint chopped

1 cup lime juice

1/4 cup fish sauce

2 tablespoons chili paste

1/3 cup sugar- I just had sugar in the raw

2 persian cucumbers sliced round

Mixed greens– I prefer ones that hold the sauce well like: Romaine, butter leaf and ice berg

Cherry tomatoes halved

1.2 red pepper sliced

Tri tip beef that you can find at any Trader Joes

Season the meat and grill or broil to taste-I like it rare.

While the meat is cooking start the sauce for the salad

Squeeze 1 cup lime juice, add 1/3 cup sugar, stir to dissolve.  Add chili paste and fresh chili’s if you have them…. I didn’t.

Once your meat is cooked let it stand for about 20 minutes.  Cut against the grain thin slices.  I added the meat to the sauce and refrigerated for an hour-this can be refrigerated even over night.

Add the meat and the rest of the sauce to a bed of lettuce, sliced cucumbers, red peppers and halved cherry tomatoes.  For a party get little Chinese to go containers and make little quick individual salad bites and have chop sticks, even though a real Thai uses a spoon and fork 🙂

Fresh Summer rolls: 

One bunch cellophane noodles, cooked according to package directions
2 persian cucumbers sliced length wise in spears
1 carrots, julienned
1 large beet, julienned
2 handfuls fresh cilantro, hand-torn
6 pre-cooked chicken cut into strips and 10 pre-cooked shrimp sliced in half length-wise
20 (8-inch) round rice paper wrappers
mint leaves and scallions-sliced half way and hearts of Romaine lettuce

Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce:
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/4 cup hot water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon red chili paste
A trick on these is to try and roll them nicely!!!! First make the dipping sauce.  I just really toss it all in there and poor the hot water last to get the sugar incorporated.  Set aside in the refrigerator.

Make sure you have all the summer roll ingredients prepped.  Get a large in diameter bowl and pour warm water in it.  Carefully, one at a time start your rice paper process.  Place one rice paper in the water and get it soft enough but not too soft to it will break.  Place paper on a plate and start the assembly.  I put a small romaine leaf down, then the noodles, then a strip of chicken, a bunch of cilantro, a halved scallion, one cucumber spear a few carrot spears.  Start to roll it.  One roll and fold in sides while keeping the roll tight.  Just at the end put two halved shrimp and mint leaves in for the last part of the rolling process.  It makes the roll pretty this way.  Good luck, it takes a bit of practice.  If you mess up and the roll is too messy… you can always put the messed up roll into another rice paper and double roll it!

Set aside, and make another.  Make sure that each roll is not touching or they will stick together.  You can eat them whole or cut them in 4 for a party.  Get crazy with these and inventive.  Basically think of the rice paper as a wrap…. you can add anything.  I’m wondering what a Thanksgiving Roll would be like…?  A bit of turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce with a bit of Romaine lettuce for a crunch… Let me know if you come up with any fun ideas.  Enjoy