One word keeps crossing my mind like the moving billboard on Times Square.
V A C A T I O N. Of course, I can’t stop in the middle of all that is going on at the moment, pack a bag, and wave a jaunty adios. However, whether or not I ask it to stop, my subconscious insists on continuing to scout locations. Last night in my dreams I visited South Africa and Italy. Who knows where my passport will be stamped tonight?
Choosing a vacation location always becomes somewhat of a quandary for me. I’m not much of a flyer. Used to be. As a matter of fact, I was all signed up and ready to be a stewardess at one point. Somewhere along the line, I lost faith in the idea a metal cylinder loaded with jet fuel was going to stay suspended high up in the clouds where it wasn’t intended to be in the first place. Oddly enough, in my misspent youth I even considered getting my private pilot’s license. I took my first and last lesson when I was five months pregnant with my son. As planes go, it was a small one, a Cessna 150 or the like. The dashboard had two steering wheels or controls my instructor called them. One was for the pilot and the other for the student. I felt like a four-year old sitting next to her daddy in the car with a plastic steering wheel and a little ball horn that went “meep meep” when you pushed it. I resisted the urge to go “vroooom, vrooom”.
The pilot, a cheery enough man in probably his late thirties, was a little hesitant about taking me up once he realized I was “carrying”. Given a waiver releasing him from liability, I signed it without thought because I was young, and of course knew everything there was to know about the world as all young people do. Wise, wise beyond my years I was.
Closing the doors we spent about a half an hour on the ground going over pre-flight instructions and a general overview of what button, dial, gadget does what. Naturally I felt capable of soloing after 30 minutes training before the plane ever left the ground. Once airborne, I was struck by how noisy it was in the cockpit. I had the oddest sensation of being suspended in midair hanging from a propeller. Perhaps because I was, in fact, suspended in midair hanging from a propeller. I would assume, as I did then, if that annoying noise should stop any time during my lesson it would not bode well for the remainder of the flight.
I don’t remember being intimidated by the whole experience at all. Rather, I found it fascinating. As it turned out you actually steer the incredible flying machines with your feet. A concept, I was told, that could be a bit confusing at first. It was late spring, as my son made his appearance in early August. The world below us was in bloom and verdant green prevailed. Passing beneath our wings, from my angle it appeared to be a huge patchwork quilt put together by an alcoholic granny on a binge. Perspective is so altered in the air. Objects below looked as if they were part of an elaborate H.O. train setup. At times the instructor rocked the wings one direction then another, or pointed the nose up or toward the ground. I found myself fervently wishing he would not rock the boat, or plane in this case. Next he explained what a stall was. For me, this was too much information. Silently I prayed there wasn’t to be a demonstration any time soon. Then he did the most amazing thing! Pointing to my controls, he asked me to place my hands are them and take over. All previous faith I had in the man sluffed off like flour off a mirror. Are you kidding me? Somebody was smoking their shoe laces. “Mommy.”
Visions of planes plummeting out of control spinning wildly toward earth, rushed through my head like water through a fissure. Following instructions explicitly, my profusely sweating hands gripped the controls so firmly I was sure it would take the jaws of life to remove them once the lesson was done. It was a heady experience feeling the small plane respond to my commands. One I thoroughly enjoyed at the time but knew instinctively I wouldn’t need to recreate for myself any time in the near future. Suddenly getting on the ground took over as the main train of thought for me and my bladder was nearly insisting on it. Both baby and I breathed a huge sigh of relief on exiting the plane and thanking my instructor some forty minutes later.
My next near miss in the air came around twenty-five. I was working for a gold recycler in Southern California. There was an employee there about the same age as I who was a stunt flyer. Several times he asked if I’d like to go up and take a spin. I assumed at the time he was referring to the airplane. On reflection, there may have been more to the story. My earlier experience was still fresh in my memory bank, so I demurred. To encourage me to give it a try, he brought in video showing him doing rolls, stalls, and loops (in his plane, naturally). In my opinion this was a sign of a serious brain malfunction which required immediate medical help of the psychological kind.
Soooo, I am left with reviewing other option. How about a cruise ship? Ahhhhhhh, no. Cruise lines really ought to include porta-potties and emergency rations in their welcome aboard packages these days. Bike tours? Don’t have the lower body muscles for such an undertaking. For that matter, don’t have the upper body muscles. Bus trips? (I’ll tell you a story about that later, but no.) Love trains, but last I heard they don’t cross either the Pacific or the Atlantic and there aren’t plans to change this presently in the works. Maybe I’ll catch a cab to the east coast, purchase a blow up raft at the Salvation Army, and row across the Atlantic. So many things to think about.
There are two options in play in the picture above, a fabulous tarragon melting butter and the outrageous cilantro mint sauce I’m providing the recipe for below. Both are delicious so I thought I whet your appetite and give them to you one at a time.
1 cup fresh parsley
1 cup fresh cilantro
1 Tbsp. dried mint
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 Tbsp. chives
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 cup olive oil
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
Place parsley, cilantro, mint, chives, garlic, salt and pepper in food processor.
Pulse until finely chopped.
Mix together oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and pepper flakes. Pour slowly into herb mixture until well blended. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Pan Fried Rib-eye Steaks
3 Tbsp. olive oil
4 1″ rib-eye steaks
Kosher salt, black pepper, and lemon pepper to taste
Season both sides of steaks with kosher salt, black pepper and lemon pepper. Allow to come to room temperature (about a half an hour)
Heat oil in cast iron skillet (or heavy skillet) over high heat. Sear steaks on one side for 2 mins. never touching or piercing the meat. Turn over with tongs and repeat cooking time on either side.
Serve with cilantro sauce.