I used to think that make lasagna from scratch was time intensive. I have now learned that making tamales from scratch makes building lasagna layers a stroll through the park. There is meat prep, sauce prep, prepping the assembly area, assembling itself and the steaming for two hours and then the cooling. Who knew? Well, every Mexican member of mi familia apparently, and I joined this knowledgeable group this past week. The tail end of all the lead up preparations happened on Friday starting at 6 a.m. and was going strong until midnight. The end results - Muy bueno!
Making the Sauce
Many Hands Make Light Work
The End Results Ready for the Steaming Pans
Part Two - On the Road to Santa Rose and a visit with two long-time friends
When Elaine got a job in San Francisco (thank you, God) my long-time good friend, my companion in backroad adventuring, moved to the East Bay. There is a small coastal range between us now and planning a get-together is just that - PLANNED. So, when Lea and I arranged a visit after 3-4 years between our last visit, it was the perfect time to stop in and see Elaine on the way.
Elaine is here with her good friend, John. She probably would not thank me for posting this collage but I just love these pictures. She is so happy and relaxed. Through my eyes of friendship, she has not looked so beautiful in all the time I have known her. She is settle in a terrific job, her apartment is a dream place, and John is one of the nicest men and clearly adores her. No question - this is a combination to make a woman glow.
The road to Santa Rose leads us through protected wetlands and across the Napa River. It's a relaxing drive taking us up 101 North passed Vallejo and Petaluma.
Part Three - An overnight in Santa Rosa at Lea's house.
At last! We make it to Santa Rosa. We settled our stuff into the basement/studio (which is sort of like calling the attic a loft), and so began a marathon siege of talking, catching up, and in the case of Lea and Krista, getting to know you's. In no particular order, here is a photo essay of our weekend visit.
We lunched at Spinster Sisters. We laughed our way through our meal of kale salad and an omelette filled with mushrooms, two kinds of squash, and lots of other veggies. We indulged in banana/butterscotch pie, coconut tapioca pudding, and chocolate chocolate something or another that was to die for. The coffee was strong and flavorful and rich. The waitress was adorable. No other word for it. It was Superbowl Sunday and we were the only people in there. She enjoyed the fun at our table as much as we did.
It would be hard to say what my favorite room in Lea's home is but after serious consideration, I have to say that it is the kitchen. It is small and old-fashion but has absolutely everything a cook needs to make a great meal and have fun doing it. She has a fabulous expresso machine that was actually Milt's and when Milt was with us NO ONE could touch that machine except him and that included Lea. As he reached the end of his journey in this life, Lea became familiar with the machine as she helped him continue his expresso making art. Here's to you, Milt, and a great latte.
Saturday night had the three of us being thoroughly foolish and goofy as we enjoyed Sangria made from red wine (what else!!?) and orange and lemon Italian sodas. The BEST Sangria ever. By the time we sat for dinner, we were all working on our third or fourth glass. We were so silly and the giggling never stopped. Kris and I slept very well in the "basement" later that night.
Outside of the kitchen, Lea's house is a wonderland of beauty. Here's just a tiny bit of it.
Lea is first and primarily a labyrinth designers. She is known nationwide and perhaps worldwide too. Funny, I never asked and Lea, being a modest soul, never has said anything about it. She is a well-known local artist known for her masks and gourd art as well as being a first rate painter. She also has a strong flair for the whimsical and creates the most delightful fairies and elfin creatures. When she's not at work creating, she is teaching classes and workshops in her studio.
And what would a trip with me be if I didn't have a church or two to share with you. In this case, we have Fr. Sumpter above blessing the throats of the Faithful in celebration of St. Blaise's feast day. St. Blaise is the patron saint of throat health. The grounds of St. Eugene's Cathedral (the seat of the Diocese of Santa Rosa were lovely and peaceful, offering quiet places to sit and be still. There was also a gift shop and of course, I didn't get out of there without finding a cross to add to my collection and a book on the Novena and Prayers of St. Benedict.
The two central pictures above are of the old St. Rose of Lima Church. Sadly this old church was badly damages in the 1969 earthquake and the restoration design did little to restore the old beauty and, in fact, access to the old church is now block. Very disappointing.
Have you heard of Little Free Libraries? I've been enjoying reading of them for a couple of years now and in fact, want one in front of our house very badly. I've never mentioned this to Krista or Don so imagine my surprise when Lea brought me to one. She had just discovered it herself and knew instantly it was something that I would want to see.
This is one of my serious daydreams. A free library in front of my house would be filled with books from me to give to the world. The people taking books would also leave books so there would be an endless supply of titles cycling through the little house.
What a sweet visit it was. My next visit will not have a 3-4 year break from this one. Kris was so touched by meeting Lea that she plans to take Adrian for a visit. When you have this sort of treasure in your life, you have to share the wealth. For those of you who do not know Lea, I hope this has revealed a bit of her to you.