How-to Happy Hour

My mother and her neighbors in Seattle, have a Happy-Hour every night at her house. She has her old-fashioneds, they bring their own booze, and she offers a little cheese and crackers. Sometimes they bring snacks, too. They hang for an hour or two, and then return to their homes for supper.

It’s a beautiful thing, and one that renders me forever grateful. Chef Ma is ninety, and it’s comforting to know her neighbors are with her daily, in all kinds of spirits!

In 2016, I started a monthly happy-hour here on Mccollum Street in her honor.

I’m happy to say it’s been a huge success.

It has substantially raised our vibration on the block!

For starters, we all know each other now, and we do stuff together, like check out the new local restaurants up on Sunset Blvd.

We walk!

After two years of hosting solely at Cottage Cook, I stopped.

Nobody noticed till March. First it was my Johnny.

Him: ” When’s the next Happy Hour?”

Me:  “I’m not doing it anymore.”

Him: “Why?”

Me: ” I’ don’t feel like it, it makes you grumpy, nobody helps and why bother?”

Him, with a bit of a whine: ” but I like the results.”

Me: shrug.

Then the neighbors started piling on. Asking me what happened, are we ever gonna do it again? Can they help? Suddenly there was a gaggle of neighbors outside on my corner trying desperately to resurrect the ritual. (Maybe I swooned a tad)

Someone suggested rotating houses and that was all I needed.

So I hosted in March (they are always the third Friday) and put out a sign up sheet.

And just like that, Happy hour was re-instated.

The week before, I deliver the flag and the lawn sign to the host.

I also do a print out of the schedule with hosting addresses and circulate it to the entire neighborhood. Many neighbors do not come, but the ones that do show up with gusto, libations, snacks and stories. These are the folks that are responsible for up-leveling our community vibe.

Last year we came together and cooked for a neighbor who needed us. She wasn’t a regular happy-hour attendee, but we all knew her and wanted to help.

Every three weeks for several months, we got together in my home kitchen and stocked her fridge with family favorites to make her life a little easier.

Neighbor (and now friend) Dana, got to show off her skills. I loved her labels that came so easily for her. The just fell out of her talented hands like magic.

So last November, I put out the sign-up sheet again. I made the flyers. I hosted November and December  so I could  encourage sign-ups.

A couple of regulars missed the sign-ups and several new hosts stepped in!

We’ve expanded two blocks in either direction, and just this past Friday we had a rousing good time at a new house on a new block.

Turns out, every hosts worries about the same thing.

Do I have enough food? Do I have enough booze? Will anyone come?

And you know what? It works out every time.

We all meet new people (and dogs)  in the neighborhood, and spread love.

Every single time, it’s a beautiful thing.

Time to Stew

Perhaps it’s the time of year, but I’ve had three conversations about beef stew this week. All of them  quality conversations, invoking beef stew cravings.

Shopping for meat can be tricky. Typically, I go to the Jimenez Family Farm stand at the Atwater Farmer’s Market, and ask what’s available.

This is a nice leg of lamb I got from them, that made a beautiful Lamb Perigourdine.

It took all day to roast. I hated the smell of  Sunday’s roast lamb filling the house while I was growing up. But this, had the most wonderful aroma. See? People DO change.


My GM Megan has made the Beef stew from “Who Wants Seconds?” many times.  I asked for her tips and tricks – here they are in no particular order.

She follows the recipe exactly, no variance (wow really?)

She hates picking out the meat and really likes when she finds a pack of cut of stew beef in the grocery store.

She uses the whole bottle of red wine! YAY!  So good!

She advises not to add potatoes if you’re gonna freeze.

She says it turns out perfect every time! (what a great recipe I wrote!)

I’m prone to add some fingerlings the last hour or so for a traditional beef stew, my Johnny loves potatoes.