Just in case you're wondering where I've been, which of course I know you breathlessly have, I've been pinned under a pile of Get Your Shit Together, Girl. Reentry is such a tremendously whiny little bitch.
My little August adventure proved to be a fantastic distraction from my real life here in LA, but as I learned when I was taking Physics in college, if you ignore a problem (or 10 problems) long enough, they most certainly do not go away by themselves unless you bribe the TA. I was so hopeful then, as I am now, that the opposite is true because I never learn. Also because I seem to love the sound of my head hitting the wall or the palm of my hand, depending on the severity of my denial.
It's still hotter than hell here in LA. Not a turning leaf or a cashmere sweater in sight, in fact. But technically it is fall in this fair land of ours, and it is a very fair land, indeed, as I discovered on a little road trip this last week, a journey that I accepted in an effort to delay the getting out from under the Get Your Shit Together, Girl pile even further.
I was invited to tag along with a friend who was driving a car and her dog, a black lab appropriately named Demon, from Chicago to Los Angeles along with another mutual friend (we will heretofore be known as Thelma, Thelma and Louise). Now I know this may not sound like an attractive offer, and had I known how much Demon's mouth stinks I may have RSVPd my regrets, but the friend who invited me is about as fabulous as fabulous can be and I suspected there would be a goody bag involved. And there was. And there were also promises of spectacular views of the Grand Canyon, a place that I have long been ashamed to admit I have never visited, so how could I pass such a thing up, even if it may include an overdose of Slim Jims and Funyons?
I'm so glad I didn't.
This country is spectacular. All of it. OK, maybe not the stretch of highway between Omaha and Lincoln, but everywhere else. There is nothing like walking a neighborhood to get to know it, and the same holds true for driving the countryside. You can never understand the majesty of the United States until you drive through the places in between the urban areas, and these three city girls and a dog named Demon had our eyes forcibly pried open by the sheer beauty of the golden grass in Iowa, the rolling dells and wind turbines in Nebraska and the wide, open expanse of northern Colorado. At every turn I felt like a four year old on Christmas morning opening up another box full of wonder at the unexpected. Not to be left out, Utah's alien crafted rock formations and forgiving policemen were also noteworthy, as were the diversity of Arizona's landscape and both Nevada's engineering of the Hoover Dam and its ability to remove all the cash from my wallet.
Three girls, one dosed-out black lab, 2,000 miles, eight states, 30 bathroom breaks and 5 bottles of 5 Hour Energy. Two hours of Peyton Place drama on the driver's cell phone, a holocaust of dead bugs on the windshield, three massages in Las Vegas and a burger feast at the Four Season's in Denver. The awe of drinking beer on the south rim of the Grand Canyon, three bags of artisanal jerky, falling facedown into a tray of fried food and a helicopter ride over the greatest expression of natural awe and power on this planet. And the friendship of two inspiring women.
It totally didn't suck.
And now I have to get my taxes finished. And negotiate my hospital bill down from the Great Rabies Scare of 2012. And get the cat neutered. And pick up supplies from the grocery store. And pay my student loan. Well, possibly pay my student loan. And get caught up on Honey Boo Boo.
And I'm going to make myself a pitcher of Cajun Sunday Bloody Mary Sundays because I'm obsessed with them as of late and if I plan on drinking my feelings instead of, well, feeling them, I might as well make my drink as close to food (or soup) as I can. Because I care about my health like that. I made a pitcher of this recipe right before I left on the Thelma, Thelma & Louise road trip and shared it when a good friend from high school (and my brother's awesome prom date) came out to LA for a quick visit and to buy cowboy boots to wear in her bluegrass performances.
The burn in our mouths reached an awesome equilibrium with the hellish outside temperature, which was oddly satisfying, and I'm reminded of it right now as a sweat my way through everyone else in the country's fall right here in Cajun Indian Summer LA.
Here is my (yes, this is an original concoction) recipe for WASPy happiness:
Sunday Bloody Mary Sunday (cajun bloody)
makes: about 5 cups (1 1/4 qt)
1 can (28 oz.) San Marzano plum peeled tomatoes
juice of 2 lemons, squeezed
juice of 2 limes, squeezed
2 TBSP Colman’s horseradish sauce (or fresh, finely grated horseradish)
2 TBSP Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp chipotle Tabasco sauce
1 tsp Yuzu Pao (sriracha style yuzu-citris green chile sauce)
2 tsp Cajun Mix #1 (recipe below)
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground jalepeno
4 TBSP pickle juice (or brine)
2 TBSP Thai fish sauce (Tiparos)
1/2 tsp celery salt
1 TBSP ponzu
2 cups vodka
castelvetrano olive, pitted
combine all ingredients except for the vodka and garnishes in a pitcher and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate for several hours (the longer the chilling time, the deeper the flavor becomes) or until chilled. When ready to serve add chilled vodka, combine completely and serve over ice.
skewer the cornichon, olive and lime wedge and float on top of the glass. Add bacon swizzle stick, if desired, and deny you have any problems at all!
Cajun Mix #1 (combine all ingredients thoroughly)
2 1/2 TBSP smoked paprika
2 TBSP kosher salt
2 TBSP smoked garlic powder
1 TBSP freshly ground black pepper
1 TBSP onion powder
1 TBSP cayenne pepper
1 TBSP dried oregano
1 TBSP dried thyme
1/4 tsp sugar
Ahh, the power of both the Bloody and the road trip to help you leave your troubles behind. If you have a need to ignore the problems in your own back yard (or front, as the case may be), there's nothing quite like gawking at someone else's. Perspective is an awesome place to visit and it has a lovely view.
I should just keep a pitcher attached to an IV drip. And you should consider making some for yourself as a nice adult treat (or a boozy liquid salad), even if the weather is already crisp where you are right now. It doesn't matter. This spicy red wonder can warm you right up, too.
Enjoy your fall, the view, the ride and...