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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Callibeth-Sophia Hussein D. Katze
July 2007-May 2016

My cat Sophie died last week, and I can't get past it. It was from complications from surgery to remove a bladder stone; there was an underlying condition that neither I nor the vet knew about.

She was so sweet. She was my baby girl. It's difficult to go home, difficult to go to sleep and stay asleep. I miss her profoundly.

Hug your kitties. Appreciate and admire their beastliness.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

How I learned to stop worrying and love teaching Star Wars

My musical education about the horn and how to play it is pretty vast, and was hard-won. I take great pride in my teaching ability especially, and have collected a pretty impressive library of horn treatises, etudes, etc. I have a prescription for every conceivable problem involved in playing the horn; I’ve even written some etudes to address certain problems (I’m looking at YOU, Guilford H.S. horn section, when you had to play Holst’s Jupiter.) In spite of all of this, after more than twenty years of teaching using the “classics” of horn pedagogy, I’ve given up, and not only have come to embrace the whole Star Wars obsession with kids, but am now writing a series of lessons for beginners, which use the best-known leitmotifs from the soundtracks.

Oh no, they’re not getting away without learning from the old classics, but I’m incorporating Star Wars themes into the mix. The elementary methods, with their old-timey songs, just won’t cut it anymore, by themselves. 

Monday, November 9, 2015

Eva’s totally excellent layered bread pudding
  • Left-over bread, preferably including some Italian garlic bread, for the baked-in goodness; you will need about 8 cups of torn-apart bread. Whatever formerly soft white or light bread you have available will do, and the staler the better. You can mix in some whole-grain bread, but the bread total has to be at least half white bread
  • 15-20 THIN slices of same bread (you need enough for two thin layers to cover the size of your baking dish)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound assorted fresh mushrooms (whichever ones you like, or what’s in season—morels come out in May, and are my favorites!!!), sliced
  • 3/4 cups finely chopped shallots
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • Chopped fresh herbs, to taste (whatever is in season; I like a combination of parsley, thyme, and chives)
  • 8 oz. Liuzzi Cheese’s marscapone cheese
  • 4 oz. of your favorite feta cheese, crumbled
  • 8 oz. of Hood cottage cheese
  • 1 egg
  • Crumbled sweet Italian sausage, lightly sautéed
  • 3 1/2 cups The Farmer’s Cow brand half-and-half; or, go to your favorite neighbor who milks Jersey cows, and get some raw Jersey milk, which works just as well
  • 8 large Pete & Gerry’s eggs, or, if you have a neighbor with ducks that are laying, 6 duck eggs for extra rich goodness
  • Salt, to taste (about 2 teaspoons)
  • Freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup grated Cabot cheddar cheese (I like the Seriously Sharp or Hunter’s Cheddar, but use the one you like)

·         Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Slice off the 15-20 thin slices of bread, and put aside. Rip apart bread into 1-inch cubes (about 10 cups loosely packed). Place cubes in very large bowl. Add oil, thyme, and garlic; toss to coat. Spread cubes out on large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread the thin slices of bread on another baking sheet, and put both in the oven. Bake the torn-apart bread until golden and slightly crunchy, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes. Leave the bread slices in for another 10 minutes.
·         Melt butter in large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, onion, shallot, garlic, lemon juice, and herbs, and sauté until soft and the mushrooms’ juices have condensed, about 10 minutes. Add to the torn-apart bread and the mushrooms together into the very large bowl, and toss to coat.
·         Mix together the marscapone, feta, and cottage cheeses, egg, and sausage; put aside
·         Whisk half-and-half, eggs, salt, and ground pepper in large bowl. Mix custard into bread and mushrooms. Pour half into the prepared 9 x 13 dish. Cover this with half of the toasted bread slices. Spread the cheese mix over the bread slices evenly, then cover this with the rest of the bread slices, making the center layer. Pour the rest of the pudding over bread slice layer.

·         Preheat oven to 375°F. Bake pudding uncovered until almost set and the top is starting to become golden brown, about 45 minutes. Sprinkle the grated cheddar over the top, and bake until the cheese is melted and golden brown, about another 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven, let stand for 15 minutes before serving, and try not to pick at it. 

Monday, August 31, 2015

Okay, I normally don't write blog posts just off the top of my head, because I'm not a great writer or speller. But I need to clear my head, so I'm gonna tell you a totally true, tiny story about myself. 

I was really really sick with the flu once, a long time ago, and when I get sick I try to let the illness take its course. I was feeling so bad that it hurt to hold a book up and read, and my body ached too badly to get any sleep, so I turned on the TV, even though picking up the remote was also painful. I was flipping through channels, and came upon a news story where they were talking about Melissa Etheridge announcing who the father of her and her partner's baby was, and they said it was David Crosby. I thought to myself, "Holy crap!!! I'm so sick I'm starting to hallucinate! I have to take something for the fever!" So I did, and eventually went to sleep. A couple of days later I found out that it wasn't a hallucination. 

Friday, July 31, 2015

By Eva M. Heater

When berries are not in season, bacon is. Bacon is ALWAYS in season. So, let’s make some jam!

This recipe is loosely based on a recipe I bumped into online. But, since I am pathologically incapable of following a recipe as written and presented to me, this recipe has my indelible stamp on it. This is some good shit. Jar this up and give as holiday or birthday swag, and you will be worshipped as the goddess/god that you know you are. Make this when you have a couple of hours to putter around the house. You don’t have to stand over it as it cooks down, just stir it once in a while, thus the puttering.

1.    As many cloves of garlic as you have around the house (because it’s a fact that it’s impossible to put too much garlic in anything), chopped. Don’t chop them down into atoms; just a rough chop will do. NB: don’t squish them in a garlic press.
2.    1 medium-large yellow or red onion, chopped.
3.    1 pound of bacon, whatever kind thrills you, chopped into 1-inch pieces
4.    ¼ cup light brown sugar
5.    1 cup coffee, whatever kind thrills you, or that you have leftover in the pot
6.    ¼ cup cider vinegar (DON’T SUBSTITUTE ANY OTHER KIND, YOU HEATHEN WHO KNOWS NOTHING ABOUT VINEGARS!!! If this statement doesn’t apply to you, ignore it)
7.    ¼ cup maple sugar*
8.    Black pepper to taste; if the type of bacon that thrills you is one that has a spicy/peppery coating, don’t include more pepper
9.    Water

*If you don’t have access to maple sugar, use 1/3 cup of maple syrup, and back off a little on the water during the simmering. If you don’t have access to either maple syrup or maple sugar, I feel really really sorry for you, and question your life choices. If this is indeed the case, add 1/3 cup of light brown sugar instead of ¼ cup. DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, SUBSTITUTE THAT UNGODLY “PANCAKE SYRUP” CRAP YOU GET IN THE SUPERMARKET IN THE STUPID-SHAPED BOTTLES. IT IS EVIL AND I WILL HUNT YOU DOWN AND KILL YOU IF YOU USE IT IN MY RECIPE.

Haul out your big, heavy cauldron. Yes, that one that you wonder if it’s still seasoned, so you don’t use it. Use it. Fry the bacon in it, not uber-crispy, but brown around the edges. Drain off all but about 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat.
Sautee (I KNOW THIS WORD SHOULD HAVE AN ACUTE OR A GRAVE OVER ONE OF THE Es, BUT I HATE SEARCHING FOR IT ON THE ‘SYMBOLS’ GRID SO LEAVE ME ALONE!!!) the onion and garlic in the bacon fat until translucent. Add the bacon back in, plus everything else except the water.
Simmer on very low heat for 2 hours, adding ¼ cup of water every 15-20 minutes or so, to keep it moist.
Take off the heat and let it cool to room temperature. Put the whole mess into your food processor and process JUST until it can be spread on toast with a spoon and looks a little like jam. Don’t liquefy it.

Jar it up and keep refrigerated.

Copyright 2015 by Eva M. Heater. You steal my prose I kill you!!! 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Okay, so this is turning into basically a recipe blog, so here's my recipe entry for this year's Strolling of the Heifers baking competition:

Maple Challah Loaves
By Eva M. Heater

Because I’m a musician by education and trade, I’ve had to do many things to support my music habit. One of them was working in a kosher bakery. I’d find myself braiding challahs at 4 a.m. Friday mornings, and thought I was a badass because I could do the six-braids really fast without even looking, even though I’m a card-carrying member of the goyim.* I learned the many delights of kosher baking back then, especially challah. What a delicious bread! It truly is manna from Heaven.
This recipe is my own adaptation of the large commercial recipe, with the unusual twist in adding maple syrup. It makes two loaves, or many hot cross buns, challah’s close relative. No matter what your personal beliefs, this bread is worth celebrating!

          1 tablespoon SAF yeast, or 1 ½ packages of active dry yeast
          ¾ cup lukewarm water
          1 tablespoon malt syrup
          1 tablespoon bread salt from King Arthur Flour
          ½ cup of your favorite vegetable oil; choose one without a strong taste. I use canola oil
          4 large Pete & Gerry’s eggs, or 3 duck eggs from your neighbor, for extra richness!
          ¾ cup Grade B maple syrup from your favorite local sugar house**
          7-8 cups of King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour, or King Arthur bread flour if you’re using a mixer
          1 more egg and 2 tablespoons water, for egg wash
          1 tablespoon of poppy or sesame seeds for the topping, if you want

*If you’re making this kosher, use kosher ingredients in a kosher kitchen, and I assume you know the drill. My kitchen is excruciatingly not kosher, largely because of shellfish and cheeseburgers and other stuff. Not being Jewish doesn’t help.
**There’s a new classification system for grading maple syrup. Grade B is now called “Grade A dark with a robust taste.” This is difficult to remember and I don’t think it will last long, so I’m still referring to it as Grade B.

Let’s do this thing:
1.    In your favorite large bread bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon of malt syrup in ¾ cup lukewarm water. Let it sit for a couple of minutes to make the yeast happy. Yes, yes, I know that you don’t have to do this with instant yeast, but I do it anyway. Tough.
2.    Whisk the oil into the yeast mixture, then whisk in the 4 eggs, one at a time, then the ¾ cup maple syrup and 1 tablespoon bread salt. Mix thoroughly.
3.    Gradually add the flour, a cup or so at a time, until the dough holds together. If you’re using a mixer, start with the paddle, and switch to the dough hook when the dough gets thick enough. Creating bread, forming a living loaf, is a very personal thing. Use your best judgment about how much flour is enough. I find that the weather affects this noticeably; when it’s raining, I usually don’t need quite as much flour as when it’s dry. Also, more flour is usually needed in winter than in the summer.
4.    When the dough has reached the consistency you want, it’s time to knead. If you’re doing it by hand, turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead until smooth and satiny. If you’re using a mixer, knead for about 5 minutes.
5.    Place the beautiful golden dough into a large greased bowl, flip the dough to coat the top with grease, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, about an hour or so. Punch the dough down, cover, and let rise again for about 45 minutes. The flavor develops more during this second rise, so please don’t skip it. As it rises, you will already be able to smell the maple syrup, in addition to that wonderful yeasty smell that rising bread already gives off.
6.    At this point, you need to make a choice. Challah loaves have traditionally been intricately braided using 6 strips of dough. If you want to do this, and haven’t worked in a kosher bakery, there’s really good instructional YouTube videos that are easy to follow. (Use 6 socks bunched together with a chip clip to practice on, before you try it with actual dough. Trust me.) Or, you can use regular bread pans and not braid them. Divide the dough into two equal loaves, and if you’re braiding, divide each loaf into six equal pieces and have at it. When you’re done braiding, put each loaf on a baking sheet covered with parchment. If you’re using loaf pans, form each half into loaves, and put in the prepared pans.
7.    Cover the loaves with a lightweight kitchen towel and let them rise until almost doubled in size. About 10 minutes before you think they’re ready to bake, pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Make an egg wash with the extra egg and water, and coat each loaf thoroughly with egg wash. If you want to add sesame seeds or poppy seeds for topping, sprinkle it on top of the egg wash.

8.    Bake at 375 degrees for 35-45 minutes. Loaves are done when they are a beautiful golden brown, and they “thump” done (a family technique). Use your favorite method for judging done-ness. Cool loaves on a rack. Please try to control yourself and let the loaves cool before you start eating them. The subtle maple flavor makes this bread so very, very special!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


2/3 cup butter, melted
¾ cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ cup boiling water
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups flour
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup chopped roasted walnuts

Mix cocoa with baking soda and half the melted butter, making a paste. Mix the boiling water into the paste gradually with a whisk, until the batter looks like rich chocolate frosting. Add sugar, eggs, the rest of the melted butter, and vanilla, and beat together with the whisk. Stir in flour with a rubber spatula. Mix in chips and walnuts—don’t do this until the flour is completely mixed in, or the batter will be too warm and will melt the chips. Spread in greased and floured 9 x 13 pan, preferably aluminum, as glass pans don’t work very well for this. Bake at 325 for 30-40 minutes, but check carefully, as this varies by oven. COOL COMPLETELY before cutting.