Friday, January 20, 2012

Take 2

Take 2

Are we still in Vancouver, British Columbia and someone forgot to tell me ??? This morning, going out with Taylor at 6:00, my phone indicated the temperature in San José, California was 30 degrees Farenheit (-1 Celcius) on January 15th.  Brrrrrrrrrr ! However, it tends to warm up very quickly around here. In the past few weeks, it would start out very cold and by noon, it was warm enough to walk around wearing a light long sleeved top. Temperature Records of Highs and Lows were broken many times and all of this, during a super drought. Now they are announcing rain coming in the next few days. I hope it rains a lot, because this area really needs it. However, how much we will get, remains to be seen. One person's downpour is another person's spritz.

In my last post, I started mentioning our Golden Retriever, Taylor, who traveled from Vancouver in his doggie condo. That thing is so BIG that I even tried lying in it, with my legs bent, and was almost comfortable at 5'7". Anyway, space was not going to be the issue here but rather the distance he would have to travel and the length of time involved. None of the carriers between Vancouver and San Francisco could accommodate a crate of that size and my boy would to travel from Vancouver to Toronto and then from Toronto to San Francisco on Air Canada. Quite the trip ! However, to make a long story short, the folks at Air Canada Cargo were wonderful and went above and beyond the call to make Taylor's trip comfortable. Of course a small dose of Melatonine helped to take the edge off (Taylor's, not mine). He arrived in San francisco after his 14 hour adventure,  healthy and thoroughly happy to finally see his Daddy and his first patch of California grass.  Thanks again to the Air Canada guys for being so caring despite all of the rules and regulations and for finding clever ways to work around them.

As for myself, I finally made it here in Silicon Valley after leaving Vancouver on the 17th of November and feeling totally insecure at the Airport Homeland Security office. Those guys have a way of intimidating people, even the ones who have no reason to feel intimidated. It is certainly part of their training but maybe where they lack is in deciding in which situation to apply this kind of pressure. My anxieties came from the fact that a week prior to my departure, David had left and when arriving at the Homeland Security checkpoint, he enquired about my future departure and what I could expect to be facing because the person with the work visa gets a document with his or her name but the dependent gets nothing, and can only use a copy of her spouse's document with her marriage certificate to prove you are the spouse. So when questioned, the officer had flatly said that had I been with David that day, he would not have let me through. After finishing with this officer, David emailed the Immigration Lawyer to make her aware of that problem. She, in turn, responded that the Officer was wrong and that dependents did not get documents with their names on them and that they should use a copy of the document issued to the person who would actually work in the USA. End of story.... imagine my panicked state.  He had to go and I was on my own with this situation. The day before, I had left our home in Vancouver and handed over the keys to our Renters, said goodbye to the movers and made my way to the hotel, generously provided by the big cheese.  Once there I took a moment to summarize: I no longer had a home, I had the clothes on my back and the ones in my bags, and the ton of papers and documents as a backup, trying to foresee all possible requests by the Homeland Security and Immigration. My husband was on his fourth day at work for the Big Cahuna and more than likely, difficult to reach in case of a problem. I also had the phone numbers of a few trusted friends in Vancouver and of the Immigration Lawyer in California. It should be ok, right?  I just had to push that thought out of my mind or else I would not sleep all night. How to waste a great hotel room !  The next morning it was time to face the music at the airport and the border officers. At Immigration, more forms to fill. How many times did I have to write down my passport number? Finally, I am told by the Immigration Officer to go through a door marked Homeland Security. By that time, my heart was racing I'm afraid I'm going to faint and the Officer standing behind a desk did nothing to ease my nerves. How many times is it said you have to read the same form with less than 10 lines on it ? And he reads on....., and he goes back and forth to different documents he has asked of me. What is he trying to do, wear me down?  After all of this time of standing on one foot and then the other, I am told to take a seat at the other end of the room. There I wait, and wait and wait some more, to the point where I am thinking they have forgotten about me. Finally....... The same Officer calls my name, he asks more questions, requests one or two more documents, gives them back and then asks me to follow him. Where to ? I am never told, until he opens a side doors, holds it for me and says, ok,you are free to go now Mam. Welcome to America! I was on American soil.  I walked out, located the first available seat and let myself fall into it to catch my breath and gather my thoughts and papers. I was in the International terminal at YVR, past security, past Immigration and Homeland Security and was on my way to California. For a moment, right then and there, I could have either burst into tears or giggled like a school girl on a sugar high. Finally, I did neither, I simply SMILED,  and went to find my departure gate.

Here is a fantastic recipe for an apple cake. It is so simple, it is almost miraculous to see how beautiful and delicious it comes out. I borrowed it from Smitten Kitchen a great food blog to visit and to subscribe to. The blog is Deb Perelman's masterpiece and not only does she share great recipes but does it all in a tiny Mahattan apartment kitchen and while being a Mother to a very young boy. Her photography is also second to none. You can find her at: Oh  and she is in the final stages of publishing a cook book which I will buy in a heartbeat ! Hope you like the Sharlotka as much as we did. :)

 Apple Sharlotka 

Butter or nonstick spray, for greasing pan
6 large, tart apples, such as Granny Smiths
3 large eggs
1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
Ground cinnamon, to finish
Powdered sugar, also to finish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Butter the paper and the sides of the pan. Peel, halve and core your apples, then chop them into medium-sized chunks. (I cut each half into four “strips” then sliced them fairly thinly — about 1/4-inch — in the other direction.) Pile the cut apples directly in the prepared pan. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, using an electric mixer or whisk, beat eggs with sugar until thick and ribbons form on the surface of the beaten eggs. Beat in vanilla, then stir in flour with a spoon until just combined. The batter will be very thick.
Pour over apples in pan, using a spoon or spatula to spread the batter so that it covers all exposed apples. (Updated to clarify: Spread the batter and press it down into the apple pile. The top of the batter should end up level with the top of the apples.) Bake in preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes, or until a tester comes out free of batter. Cool in pan for 10 minutes on rack, then flip out onto another rack, peel off the parchment paper, and flip it back onto a serving platter. Dust lightly with ground cinnamon.
Serve warm or cooled, dusted with powdered sugar. Alex’s family eats it plain, but imagine it would be delicious with a dollop of barely sweetened whipped or sour cream.


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