Friday, November 27, 2015

Talking turkey with a "weekend wiggle" and a bit of feasting history

Wild turkeys cavort and forage at our Montana place, High Chaparral, in Stillwater County on the river.

This proud turkey is commercially grown,
and much plumper than our Montana wild ones.
WE'RE TALKING turkey here. Through year's end, most of us will enjoy a meal or two of the critter that Ben Franklin suggested be our national bird.
Turkey dinner.  Turkey curry.  Turkey and dumplings. Turkey casserole. How about my grandmum's weekend turkey wiggle. I'll share the recipe.  My favorite edible part of the holidays is left-overs. Nothing like a sandwich with cranberry sauce and mayo, maybe a little chutney. But do try the "wiggle."
If your Thanksgiving table featured turkey
you are among 46 million Americans;
33 million more of us will eat turkey 
on either Christmas or New Year's.
If you didn't have turkey dinner on
Thursday, don't worry. The bird shows up in stores and on menus and dining tables through Chanukah, Christmas and into New Year's and even Easter.
SO HOW did the tradition of eating turkey during the holidays develop? Historians tell us it probably did not derive from the Pilgrims who may or may not have eaten turkey for their "Thanksgiving."  They probably ate venison, and they'd have used their fingers.
After Scrooge sees the light, in "A Christmas Carol,"
he has a turkey delivered to the Cratchit home.
Turkey's top ranking as preferred holiday fare also stems from the fact that Turkeys are easy to raise, fresh, fairly cheap and can feed a crowd. In the U.S., 46 million turkeys are eaten on Thanksgiving, 22 million on Christmas, 11 million on New Year's and 19 million on Easter. In 2014, U.S. diners ate 736 million pounds of turkey.
AMERICA'S PREFERENCE for poultry at celebrations dates back to frontier days. A bird could be slaughtered without serious economic sacrifice, while butchering a cow was a serious decision for a rancher or farmer.  Since commercial beef wasn't widely available until the late 19th century, a chicken or turkey made more sense for a holiday meal.
The classic menu of turkey with gravy, stuffing, and plum pudding was popularized by Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," published in 1843 and widely read in the U.S. Some culinary historians believe Scrooge's gift of a Christmas turkey to the Cratchit family cemented the turkey's place at the center of the holiday meal.The Victorians also enjoyed turkey, and lobbied Abe Lincoln to make Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863.
Olive Nystul's turkey wiggle
was a family treat, served the
 weekend after Thanksgiving.
IF YOU LIKE turkey, you'll enjoy my grandmother Olive's "Weekend turkey wiggle." Why did she call it that? Because you could rely upon having it the weekend after Thanksgiving, and because the noodles wiggle and wave as the ingredients are mixed!
2 lb (4 cups) leftover turkey meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 c turkey or chicken stock
1 l/2 c uncooked white, brown or wild rice or 3 cups uncooked noodles
1 can (14 oz) chopped tomatoes or three fresh ones, diced
2 medium onions, chopped (add two cloves of diced garlic if desired)
1 green pepper, chopped
1 c green olives and 1 c black olives, chopped
¼ c pimentos, chopped
8 oz mushrooms, sliced and sautéed in butter or olive oil (if using canned, drain juice but hold to moisten casserole if needed)
16 oz package frozen peas, mixed veggies or corn -- your choice
1 can of mushroom soup or cup or so of leftover turkey gravy
Gran Nystul's Weekend Turkey Wiggle
 delights with its flavor -- and memories.
(Gran improvised with the ingredients; use what you have. That's the beauty of "wiggle.") 
PREHEAT oven to 350 degrees. Combine ingredients in a large saucepan, bring to brief boil. Transfer to buttered casserole pan, cover with foil, and bake 30-40 minutes until liquid is mostly absorbed but casserole is still moist. Top with croutons or crumbled leftover stuffing. Sprinkle with grated or shaker cheese-- gouda, gruyere, parmesan and sharp cheddar are all good choices.

UP NEXT: While we're on the subject of food, Hornblower's the way to go 
for fine food and ambiance if you're looking to celebrate a special occasion
or holiday on the water. We'll visit a recent birthday celebration aboard
Hornblower in 
New York. Hornblower also offers specialty cruising, dinner
and cocktail celebrations in San Diego, San Francisco, Berkeley, Sacramento,
Newport Beach, Marina del Rey  and Long Beach. Remember to explore,
learn and live and catch us weekends for fun travel tips and adventure worldwide.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Try these theatrical treats to fill your San Diego stocking


"A Christmas Carol" at Cygnet means new music and an "reimagined"
telling of the holiday classic, adapted and directed by Sean Murray.





Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick in
the movie version of "The Rocky Horror

 Picture Show." Cygnet presents the play.

(Part two of our theater piece.)
Cygnet Theatre. Cygnet's name was inspired by the Old Globe's moniker. Deciding against naming itself after that other famous Elizabethan playhouse, the Swan, the Old Town based company took instead the name Cygnet. Now the "young swan" has matured into a full fledged member of the theatrical community. Versatile director-actor Sean Murray (exemplary in "Sweeney Todd," "Man of LaMancha," "My Fair Lady" and more) directs the holiday classic, "A Christmas

See La Jolla Playhouse and San Diego Rep 

Cygnet Theatre in Old Town is a pleasant venue for a 
afternoon or evening of entertainment. "A Christmas Carol"
is up next, with a lively season through mid-June.
Carol," which he also adapted. The beloved Dickens tale of hope and redemption is "re-imagined" as Cygnet offers new music, live sound effects and puppetry, all marked by Cygnet's original stamp. It opens the day after Thanksgiving for a run through Dec. 27.
Cygnet's eclectic mix of musicals and drama continues with "When the Rain Stops Falling," Jan. 14-Feb. 14; the campy "Rocky Horror Show" (the movie is celebrating its 40th anniversary) March 10-May 1, and "Stupid F**king Bird," May 19-June 19. The recent Noel Coward double-header of "The Vortex" and "Hay Fever" featured a gifted cast in repertory.
Holiday audiences will visit Pottersville and hear
from a host of familiar characters from the movie
"It's a Wonderful Life," in a one-man staged take.

NORTH COAST Repertory Theatre may be relied upon for finely staged work,
Actor James Leaming brings his
popular "This Wonderful Life"
back to North Coast Rep.
presented in a small, creative venue. What could be more creative than taking the beloved holiday film, "It's a Wonderful Life" and offering a one-man, staged tour de force. "This Wonderful Life" features actor James Leaming returning to North Coast Rep with his winning one-man tour-de-force based on the perennially favorite film, Frank Capra's "It’s a Wonderful Life." Lauded for his physical and verbal virtuosity, Leaming brings to life over 32 familiar characters from the beloved film.  His Jimmy Stewart-inspired George Bailey leads the cast of Bedford Falls folks, including Clarence the Angel, Mary, Zuzu, and others who rely on George to save them from the greedy Mister Potter. The run is Dec. 8-27.
NORTH COAST Repertory, founded in 1982, celebrates life, love and laughter in its 34th season with David Ellenstein at the helm as artistic director.
North Coast Rep's fine work is staged in a small, creative space.
Following the holiday hit, the gifted director and actor Ellenstein directs "Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Great Nome Gold Rush" which takes the famous sleuth north to Alaska.
A lively Georges Feydeau farce, "Now You See It," runs Feb. 24-March 20, and then Ellenstein directs a pair of works -- "Way Downriver" based on a William Faulkner story, "Old Man," April 13-May 8, and Henrik Ibsen's time honored "Hedda Gabler," June 1-26,

Consider the gift of theater tickets during the holiday season, particularly for a friend or relative who has everything.  A play or musical is always welcome! All our theaters offer gift certificates.
A tom turkey in his full, puffed up glory. This one was spared.

UP NEXT: Talking turkey.  How did this bird with the goofy looking neck become the focal point of our holiday feast -- popular this Thanksgiving week and into New Year's at millions of households around the world. We'll find out Saturday. And I'll share a favorite family recipe for "turkey wiggle," a noble way to use those delicious left-overs.  Remember to explore, learn and live, and catch us weekends and as the spirit and adventures move us.

Friday, November 20, 2015

San Diego lets it rip with autumn array of theatrical offerings

San Diego's skyline reaches high and proud -- and its theater matches in its lofty accomplishments.

Southern California city pushes the "play" envelope to provoke, amuse, enlighten  

Delightful Yiddish music carries themes of
"Indecent" across the footlights of La Jolla Playhouse.
PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER and courtesy marketing and media contacts
FINE THEATER is as much a part of San Diego as the ocean.
And it's equally seductive.
No U.S. city this size has the variety and richness of theater life (less than three million people in the whole of San Diego County).
Hershey Felder brings his virtuoso Berlin
 performance to La Jolla Playhouse's Mandell
 Weiss Theatre opening Dec. 16.

We try to see everything; this month has been fertile, fun and varied -- from Noel Coward gems to new, provocative works. I'm a kid on holiday, with a stocking full of stimulation. In a two-part piece beginning today and continuing Wednesday, We highly recommend:
An American born mother's notions of family are challenged when it is
suggested her  young son might be a budding master. (At San Diego Rep.) 
At La Jolla Playhouse: The edgy new play with music, "Indecent," is inspired by "God of Vengeance," an older controversial play that got its cast thrown in jail nearly a century ago. The play is gorgeous to watch -- marvelously lit and with beautiful music and choreography.  While it explores and celebrates Jewish culture, it also tackles issues of morality, hypocrisy and artistic integrity through its contemplative book.  It asks tough questions about the role, rights and responsibility of the playwright in an artfully staged extravaganza (complete with rain!) where strolling musicians move the action forward. Rebecca Taichman's daring direction of Paula Vogel's work will garner national attention. It's up though Dec. 10, followed by Hershey Felder as Irving Berlin, in Felder's own dazzling production. His show traces the brilliant composer's rise from prejudice and poverty of Czarist Russia to esteem and honor in the U.S., penning dozens of beloved American songs. (Dec. 16-Jan. 3).
"A Christmas Carol" gets Cygnet's stamp of originality and flair. 
North Coast Rep has a holiday production, too. More soon.

At San Diego Repertory Theatre: The current play, "The Oldest Boy," on tap through Dec. 6, is billed as a "bewitching, beautiful meditation on motherhood, love and letting go." It is a complicated story of two parents caught in the challenge of deciding if their young son should move to India to train as a Buddhist master. The Rep is no slouch when it comes to pushing the envelope, with pioneering Sam Woodhouse at the helm. He directs this Sarah Ruhl work about faith, belief and family loyalty in conflict with centuries old Buddhist tradition. The thought-provoking production includes a puppet moved by three actors- dancers, imaginative choreography and musical background and gongs to keep you alert.
The Rep season continues with a Romantic comedy, "Outside Mullingar," a Buckminster Fuller reflection, and a look at gender politics with an intriguing title, "Rapture, Blister, Burn." Sounds like a recipe for a satisfying theatrical repast perfect for the season.
Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy a play!

COMING WEDNESDAY:  Whereiscookie looks at Cygnet Theatre's upcoming "A Christmas Carol," directed by the always engaging Sean Murray. And at North Coast Repertory Theater, another treat for the holiday stocking awaits with "This Wonderful Life," a tour de force one-man spin-off of "It's a Wonderful Life."  Theater life in San Diego is an endless supply of creativity and surprise. Remember to explore, learn and live and treat a friend to a pair of theater tickets! 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Celebrating a life lived with gusto on a tenth anniversary

Bill Jones was a wonderful painter, whose one-man shows drew crowds
in Phoenix and Los Angeles galleries.  Here is a favorite self-portrait.

Here's looking at you, kid:

Artist, writer, traveler, funny guy 



A DECADE HAS elapsed since Billy’s passing. This week, we celebrate his rich, but brief life:
Bill and Cookie traveled the world,
here in Portugal in 1997.
          BILL WAS BORN in Indiana and liked to say he moved his parents to Arizona when he was not quite a year old. He considered himself a native Arizonan and wrote and painted the desert with affection.
         He was a curious global citizen, an enthusiastic world traveler, always up for a trip, a new adventure.
         Bill Jones, Cookie, researching their novel
      He drew marvelous comics and stories from an early age. His mum, Katie, recalled that she would often pull him from his art for a meal.  He was a lifelong devotee of museums and art.     
HE GREW up playing in the desert, loved to hike and remembered running barefoot  to escape the wrath of an irate farmer when he and his buddies snitched a watermelon.
Despite chemotherapy and radiation which took the usual toll, Bill Jones, left,
continued to travel, here cruising the Caribbean with Cookie
and his sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Misha and David Minesinger.
          He served in the U.S. Army in Korea, where his charm and good looks earned him a high prestige job of driver for the General's wife.  He was a proud member of the color guard. 
·       HE EARNED a B.A. in English with
      a philosophy minor.  He was a fine
      poet who also wrote and co-wrote several novels, including “Lilian’s
      Last Dance,” which he and Cookie began in the 1990s and Cookie 
      revised and published in 2014.
·       He marched to his own drummer, “cut his own trail,” as they say in Montana, his second home.
·       He wasn’t easily labeled – a truly original thinker – with a sharp 
      intellect and cutting ironical wit.
Billy's hair was growing back, when he was able to take a six-month
trip after his surgery and treatment for cancer in 2003-4. Here
he and Cookie enjoy a stroll through Central Park in New York.
·       His film reviews were concise, thoughtful and provocative, earning him a national reputation in his days with the Phoenix Gazette and Arizona Republic. He interviewed many 20th Century’s greats of film and theater, from Katharine Hepburn to Robert DeNiro to Meryl Streep. He liked interviewing directors and particularly appreciated Martin Scorsese.
        HE WAS a fan of John Updike’s writings and interviewed him twice, treasuring complimentary notes from his favorite writer.  He loved “Les Miserables,” Stephen Sondheim’s musicals, white wine and his retriever Ruth, who lived to be 17, "the longest relationship I had with a female."
        He had two sons whom he loved and influenced.  Christopher and Jason, both unique in their talents, pay honor to Bill’s memory in their love of family, art and the natural world.
Bill Jones with his grandson Rowan Jones, in the back
yard in Phoenix, where Billy spent his last days.
        His grandchildren didn’t have him very long, but he loved knowing that they were on the planet!
       Grandson, Rowan, visits “Bill’s Hill and “Grandpa’s Tree” in Sun Ray Park, Phoenix, keeping his memory alive.  Bill was a devoted brother to sisters Karen and Marcia.  He enjoyed “Siblings Night Out” and was proud to welcome daughters-in-law Katie and Carole
      to the family.
          HE MET Cookie on July 15, 1977, during a movie junket to London and the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.
      When their charter flight to England was delayed at JFK, Bill magically acquired a piano and Cookie
      played show tunes for a reception hosted by United Artists.  Bill and Cookie’s first husband, Bruce
     Meyers, became friends during film and theater
      outings. After Bruce’s death, Bill’s and Cookie’s friendship blossomed into romance and lasted until Bill’s final day a decade ago. He died, full circle, on 
     the desert he loved, as she played "It Had to Be You."
      Check out these links about the survival and 
      publication of the novel Bill co-wrote:
From Cygnet Theatre in Old Town to the Lyceum in Horton Plaza, home
to the San Diego Repertory Theatre, San Diego theater is lively
and first-rate. La Jolla Playhouse and North Coast Rep north of town are
also top ranked and offer varied, exciting seasons. More on this bounty soon.

THEATER ON TAP: Whereiscookie roams the globe, and occasionally offers personal pieces like the one today.  Next up is a look at the thriving theater scene in San Diego, where Cookie winters and happily indulges in the glut of theatrical riches. Saturday, we'll look at the splendid array of current offerings at La Jolla Playhouse, San Diego Rep, Cygnet and North Coast Rep. Remember to explore, learn and live and check us out weekends and as the spirit moves us to share adventures, observations and photos. Check out our book tour:
Workshops, readings for "Lilian's Last Dance"

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Spicy 'Chapatti' sizzles in San Diego, Montana's bold Bair museum takes public behind scenes

A beautifully acted comedy drama at North Coast Repertory Theatre
features Anabella Price and Mark Bramhall as Dubliners Betty and Dan.  



IF YOU ENJOY fine theater, a loyal cat or dog and a charming love story, you still have a few days to catch "Chapatti," at North Coast Repertory Theatre.
The beautifully directed, well acted two-person show tells the tale of two lonely animal lovers who meet in a Dublin veterinary clinic.
He's grieving the loss of a longtime lover and contemplating parting with his rescue-dog Chapatti, to pave the way for suicide. She's a classic "cat lady," long since given up on romance. They are human posters for the "get a friend" campaign and we're cheering them on toward romance.
Play goers mingle at North Coast Repertory Theatre.
 "Chapatti," (an Indian bread, and a pet dog's name)
runs through Nov. 15 and is highly recommended. 
TALENTED ACTORS Mark Bramhall and Anabella Price play the parts of two lonely, opinionated people who have more in common than they suspect.  Billed as a "heartwarming second-chance comedy," it celebrates life and the capacity to heal, continue and be open to love. Tony award-winning actress Judith Ivey directs the Christian O'Reilly work with a winning warmth and humor. Don't miss it, and consider subscribing to the Rep season, which ranges from a Christmas classic to Sherlock Holmes on the frontier, to an adaptation of a William Faulkner story, a Fats Waller tribute and the classic "Hedda Gabler."

*  *  *
The Bair collection of antiques, silver, china and crystal,
includes sewing machines and vintage photos in the Barn.


A PIONEERING Montana family dined on Limoges and Waterford crystal, but was equally at home "on the range" in jeans and cowboy hats.
Alberta Bair: Montana
The Charles Bair family -- the elder Bair, his wife Mary and daughters Marguerite and Alberta -- left a rare legacy to Montana when the last of the family, Alberta, passed away in the late 1990s, leaving millions in trust for a museum on the ranch property near Martinsdale, Montana.
The Bair home is open to the public this weekend.
The art museum is free and tours are discounted.
That came to pass, with a beautiful facility built near the original home. This Saturday, Nov. 14, visitors will have the rare, once-a-year opportunity to visit the museum, then tour the downstairs home and upstairs private family quarters at the Bair Family Museum. Museum director Elizabeth Guheen says, "Each year, we bring out collection items that are not displayed year-round. Saturday, we feature the Bair family’s formal china and dinnerware, plus everyday dishes." All the home's tables will showcase eclectic linens, silver and china -- from Minton porcelain to Limoges bouillon cups brought home after a Paris visit.
Cygnet Theatre in Old Town just completed a pair of Noel Coward works.
The popular tour day is offered for a discount: $3 for adults, free for 16 and under. The Bair Art Museum and Barn are also free during the weekend holiday open house. Coffee, cider, hot chocolate and treats will be served in the Bair Barn. Check it out if you're near Montana.

COMING UP NEXT: On the 10th anniversary of the departure of writer and artist Bill Jones, we reflect on a life well lived!
Then -- a celebration of theater. San Diego is alive with fantastic plays. Many Broadway shows got their start in this southern California cultural mecca: ("Jersey Boys," "The Book of Mormon" and more...) We look at upcoming seasons, from San Diego Repertory Theatre to La Jolla Playhouse and Cygnet. Explore, learn and live and check us out weekends and as the spirit moves at:

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Moving memorial honors World Trade Center tragedy

The new Tower represents endurance and recovery, while honoring lives lost. Its mission
is "to preserve freedom and inspire an end to hatred, ignorance and intolerance."


Names of victims are placed near names of people with whom they worked.
The names are inscribed in bronze around waterfalls and two beautiful pools.
This family visited the memorial after a subway ride with us.

WE ALL remember that dreadful day: the haunting images of the Twin Towers collapsing, families searching frantically for lost loved ones. Smoke, tears and sorrow.
So 14 years after the infamous deeds of September 11, 2011, we spent a day at the scene of the carnage.
This young visitor took a selfie near the
pools and bronzes honoring the victims.
The dramatic 9/11 Memorial was designed by architect Michael Arad and landscaper Peter Walker. It includes two pools set in the footprints of the original Twin Towers.
Thirty-foot water-
falls cascade into the pools and descend into a center void.
of the nearly
3,000 victims are
inscribed in bronze around the perimeters of the pools.
WE JOINED families from around the globe and other New York neighborhoods to pay our respects.  We were among thousands of all faiths, age and dress as we emerged from the subway from Midtown Manhattan.  We were warmed by the sun, shining as it had on the day of the disaster.  We were grateful for the weather as we walked through Lower Manhattan to the memorial.
Windows on the World was a favorite haunt of many.
The looks on peoples' faces were somber and reverent as they studied the names around the pools.
The original Twin Towers stood proudly.
Some left flowers or made rubbings of loved ones' names. Others took selfies or group photos.
Many seemed lost in reverie and memory.  I had spent many happy times in the original Twin Towers, often at the famous top-floor restaurant, Windows on the World. There I interviewed celebrities and dined with friends in the movie and theater business.  Windows was a favorite hang out of travelers, writers, stars and politicians. Everyone loved its splendid views.
Tourists from around the globe, and many New Yorkers, await tour tickets. 
WE SPENT time studying the 9/11 Memorial Museum, but agreed it was a brutal few hours -- with its first-person accounts of the day, personal artifacts, structural remnants and multimedia displays.  The WTC complex with a master plan by Daniel Libeskind calls for a spiral of new towers around the eight-acre Memorial.
ONE OF the most touching elements were hundreds of swamp white oaks around the memorial.
A single, beautiful pear tree -- known as "Survivor Tree" -- stands as proud testimony to survival. Workers found the damaged tree reduced to a stump in the Ground Zero wreckage. Nursed back to health, it grew to 30 feet and flowers each spring.
ONE MAY download the 9/11 Memorial Guide on a smartphone or visit

Juhu Beach Club -- visited by whereiscookie in April, and
recently, by CNN's traveling gourmet, Anthony Bourdain.
NEXT UP and BY THE WAY: A Montana museum once the home of the philanthropic, pioneering Bair family, opens its doors for an "Upstairs, Downstairs" tour next week.  And last spring we discovered a wonderful Indian restaurant, Juhu  Beach Club in Oakland, Calif. It has quickly become a favorite of Bay Area diners, and visitors looking for tasty Indian fare cooked by someone who knows her way around curry and chutney. We raved about the fairly new eatery months ago! Recently, world renowned chef Anthony Bourdain, of the popular CNN show, "Parts Unknown," gave Juhu thumbs up. High praise from a guy who loves San Francisco and writes about its older, venerable eateries such as Sinbad's, House of Prime Rib, Tosca, Trader Vic's and Swan Oyster Depot. Check out our piece and tune in to Bourdain Sunday nights on CNN.

Anthony Bourdain, whereiscookie visit Juhu Beach Club