domenica 26 luglio 2009

A Spice for All Seasons

Delving into these herbs and spices has been delightfully sexy. It is so fascinating to learn about everyone's interests in addition to writing. Thank you Donna, for hosting us and keeping our noses and taste buds primed and, in a sense (or many senses), enhancing our writing.

My head is still spinning with the flavors and scents from the fabulous opening ceremonies with Donna, chili-n with Erobintica, an encuentro with cilantro with Neve, comin’ with Sommer, delicious sin-a-mon with Gina Marie, a great thyme with Scarlett, orgasmic sneezes with Craig, and in a dill-irious pickle at Jeremy’s.

Join us next Sunday when I’ll be honored to turn over the blog stage to Marina St. Clare, who helped plant the seed of this delightful sex and food blog fest and will be writing about basil. The scent of freshly picked, sun warmed basil has the same effect on me freshly ground black pepper does. Is it because I associate it with summer, which is the sexiest season to me? Marina will turn us on to the intoxicating and sweet side of basil. I had no idea there were so many wonderful ways to imbibe and taste basil but she does!

8/2 Marina St. Clare—basil
8/9 BadAssKona—rosemary
8/16 Emerald—poppy seeds
8/23P.S. Haven—salt
8/30 Gala Goodbye

A Love Affair with Ginger

We live in an area where the pace is slower, where tradition trumps technology, where the people are very close to the earth and they mark the seasons by their bounty. Everyone keeps a kitchen garden and enjoys fresh fruit and vegetables as the seasons change. Right now we’re living on warm sun ripened tomatoes, firm green beans, zucchini, and tart sweet berries. Soon we’ll add fresh corn to the mix and frosted violet plums, figs, apples and then subtly sweet chestnuts.

To me, spices are seasonal as well. Fall and winter seasonings are rosemary and sage rubs, marinades and sauces for roasts and potatoes. Spring means lighter, livelier flavors like thyme.

Summer is crispy skin wood burning oven roasted chicken on a bed of tarragon and slathered with tarragon butter. Basil, picked fresh leaf by leaf, with tomatoes marinated in balsamic vinegar and tossed with goat cheese.

Each season has its bounty, but one of my favorite flavors lends itself to all seasons and a variety of dishes, both sweet and savory.

Ginger, a flavor for all seasons

Fresh ginger is pungent and aromatic, has a bite, a sting, and a delicious flavor and stimulating aroma. It lends itself to accenting chicken or fish, sliced into match sticks or grated into sauces. Powdered ginger is used in cakes and cookies. Just the scent is enough to evoke all of these tastes and send me into a sensual spin.

This delicious recipe whispers summer picnic to me and is from one of my favorite cookbooks of food porn, California Cooking, which could also double as a coffee table book of spectacular California seasonal landscape photos (if it weren't such a foodie mess).

Cold Lemon Chicken

4 to 5 whole chicken breasts, halved, boned and skinned
8 large dried black mushrooms
2 or 3 lemons
3 tablespoons peanut oil
1/4 cup fresh ginger, cut into fine julienne
1/3 cup red and green bell peppers, cut into fine julienne
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon chili paste with garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon extract

Put the chicken breasts in a flat bowl and place the bowl on a rack in a covered steamer over boiling water. Steam for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until tender. Let cool in the juices, remove (reserve the broth), and cut the chicken into bite size pieces. Set aside. Strain the both, measure it, and if necessary add enough water to bring the amount to 1 cup. Set aside.

While the chicken is steaming, put the mushrooms in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 30 minutes, drain, squeeze dry, cut off the stems, and cut the mushrooms into fine julienne. Set aside.

With a sharp paring knife or vegetable peeler, remove the rind of 1 lemon in long shreds, being careful not to include any of the bitter pith, and cut the rind into fine julienne. Grate the rind of the second lemon. Squeeze enough lemon juice to measure 1/2 cup.

Heat a pan (preferably a wok) and add 3 tablespoons of peanut oil. When the oil is hot add the ginger and mushrooms and stir-fry over low heat for 30 seconds. Add the peppers and julienned lemon rind. Stir-fry for a few seconds. Add the reserved chicken broth. Bring to a boil and add the lemon juice and salt. Add the grated lemon rind, chili paste with garlic and lemon extract. Add the chicken pieces and cook for 90 seconds. Transfer t a bowl and let cool to room temperature before serving.

[Note: I’ve included the whole recipe, but this lends itself to simplification, and I do]

Ginger, the root or rhizome of the ginger plant which we use in cooking thrives in warm dry climates and has been prized for centuries for its versatile uses. It contains so many medicinal -epsias and -inatives and -algesics, it is also a substance for all ailments, from nausea, to fevers to insomnia. There was even a legendary application for it stimulating tired or lazy horses.

Ginger’s aphrodisiac qualities have long been reported and it is mentioned in the Kama Sutra, which brings me to the question of this blog.

Food for thought: What’s love got to do with it?

This is the 50th anniversary of the landmark decision on obscenity brought about by the case against the confiscation of uncensored copies of D.H. Lawrence’s 1928 novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, “a novel that inveighed against sex without love.”

My question for you on this hot and spicy summer Sunday is this: What’s love got to do with it? Do your characters have to be in love? Is it love or is it just lust? For my characters, even if it wasn’t love at first sight or doesn’t work out in the end, there was love in the mix.

A Woman for All Seasons

Cold slapped my face and burned my nostrils. The ice and snow crackled under my boots as I walked up the path to the front door. I could see the warm radiance from the fireplace through the bay window when I reached for the doorbell.

I stood in the warm kitchen while she turned the giant gingerbread snowman from the pan onto the cutting board. Everyone ooed and aahed before she took a large knife and sliced it into squares. I rolled my eyes and stifled a sardonic grin biting the inside of my in lip in snide collusion with my partner, even as I my body responded autonomously to the sweet sharp scent of the ginger. I thought her snowman was a little silly.

Later I was sitting on the arm of the leather sofa flanking the fireplace, and she stood next to me offering a plate of warm fragrant gingerbread swimming in half melted vanilla ice cream. I caught her musky scent too.

“Mmmm, thanks. Smells good.” I took the plate and held her caramel eyes.


“Yes, I figured. Homemade gingerbread, sweet.”

“No, I mean my name is Ginger,” she said smiling with a flash in her eye.

“Oh! Sorry.” I laughed. She was disarmingly beautiful in an androgynous, tall, rectangular way.

“Charlotte. Nice to meet you.” After small talk of the who do you know here sort, the vibe was so strong I knew we would get to know each other, intimately.

My nostrils flared at the sharp scent of ginger and I forked into the cake, soaking up the vanilla specked ice cream and let the flavor explode in my mouth. When I bit into the soft cake and sweet cream, my cunt melted.

“Nice.” and I held her gaze again.

It all began that night in the hall. We were in the hallway on the way to get our coats and the attraction was so intense we leaned against the wall and kissed. Soft wet mouths exploring quickly and gingerly lest we be caught out by my lover.

Winter came and went in a series of clandestine meetings. She cooked for me and regaled my senses with her creative flavor combinations. In her vast kitchen in the cool of that spring she served steamed fresh sea bass and basmati rice drizzled with gingered citrus sauce accented with cilantro.

When the weather turned warm we sat on her terrace overlooking the harbor and sipped icy ginger ale in frosted glasses.

That summer we picnicked on a soft old bedspread in the woods. She made savory chicken salad with match sticks of ginger and lemon zest, sautéed with red and green peppers and black mushrooms. I brushed my lips on her cinnamon freckled breast and tasted the salty mixture on her tongue as we made passionate love on the sun speckled forest floor and she came moaning with my tongue jabbing her melted cream cunt.

In the first chill of fall we watched old films in her living room by the fire dipping ginger snaps in milk and I felt like a child in total abandonment in her arms.

That cold November she roasted chicken and we bit into the crisp skin blanketed in warm caramelized onions laced with turmeric, ground coriander, cumin and ginger. We made quiet love under the soft white down comforter afterwards.

She would not hear of me leaving my partner of fifteen years and she couldn’t live with duplicity. Winter came again and the scent of ginger warms my nostrils but stings my heart with the intensity of her absence.

35 commenti:

Craig Sorensen ha detto...

What a feast for the senses, Isabel!

You know how I feel about ginger, and this post was like standing over a grater, releasing the scent of that delectable root, occasionally lapping the juice that escapes over my fingers.

Just delicious.

Loved the recipe and the article about the landmark decision.

But my favorite was the story. Many lovely bits to quote, but this section struck me perfectly:

“Mmmm, thanks. Smells good:” I took the plate and held her caramel eyes.


“Yes, I figured. Homemade gingerbread, sweet.”

“No, I mean my name is Ginger,” she said smiling with a flash in her eye.

“Oh! Sorry.” I laughed. She was disarmingly beautiful in an androgynous, tall, rectangular way.


As for love and lust. I think of the two as separate entities. There can be one without the other, but the blending of the two produces a powerful result. Like blending spices.

So I have written about lust without love, and love without lust for that matter, but not nearly so often as I have explored the blending of the two in varying degrees.

Blend those spices, but please pass me some of that freshly grated ginger. Yum.

Sommer Marsden ha detto...

oh fabulous. i must try this recipe. the man is a huge fan of ginger. as he puts it 'real ginger'. he's the one who got me hooked, even on nibbling candied ginger.

And this, Isabel, this makes me want to come knock at your door with suitcase in hand!: "We live in an area where the pace is slower, where tradition trumps technology, where the people are very close to the earth and they mark the seasons by their bounty. Everyone keeps a kitchen garden and enjoys fresh fruit and vegetables as the seasons change. Right now we’re living on warm sun ripened tomatoes, firm green beans, zucchini, and tart sweet berries. Soon we’ll add fresh corn to the mix and frosted violet plums, figs, apples and then subtly sweet chestnuts. "

p.s. off to brunch but hope to pop in later! xoxo

Isabel Kerr ha detto...

Hi Craig,

We do share a taste for a couple of potent spices, pepper and ginger. And really, this blog fest is opening my senses to others that I've taken for granted.

Thank you so much for the excerpt and comment on the story. I'm very glad you "got" that part, I never know if dialogue will come across as I hear it. It means much that you enjoyed the story.

As for love and lust, I think I'm just an idealist ; )

Thanks for your thoughts!

Isabel Kerr ha detto...

Thanks Sommer!!! And you know you are welcome here anytime, suitcase in hand! Hope to see you later.

Alison Tyler ha detto...

Love ginger (as a name and a spice)—and I wish I could come to your house so you could cook this fabulous dish for me!


Isabel Kerr ha detto...

I'd love to Alison.

Neve Black ha detto...

Wow, Isabel, WOW! I licked my plate at least five times reading each and every one of your deee-lic-eous words. Yum. Yum. Yum.

I felt a deep connection with the earth when visiting Italy last year. And I don't think it was because I was on vacation - I can taste those exquisitely fresh, vine ripened Italian tomatoes, and smell your crispy skin wood burning chicken just from your flavorful words. There's something so raw and sensual about Italy. I'm dripping with envy, Isabel. :-)

Love and sex, sex and love? Can you have one without the other? Um, hell yes, you can! My characters usually do, but damn, isn't it nice when you have both emotions working at the same time? It's like a well-oiled machine winding through the curves of the erotic highway.

Wonderful post today. It's great being here. Do you mind if I grab a chair and just stare at your garden for awhile?

Isabel Kerr ha detto...

Hi Neve!

Welcome, pull up a chair, have a frosty glass of ginger ale.

Italy is earthy. I'm so at home here. I think it's the stone, massive stone buildings everywhere. They just anchor you, so solid and reassuring. Some things haven't changed here in hundreds of years. It gives you a real sense of permanence.

I think it was on a wonderful post on Marina's blog that I saw the quote from Mae West (?) Sex is emotion in motion. : ) I'm going to work this line into one of my stories: "I thought he was in love, but he was just going through the motions." ; )

How about a little Prosecco?

Salutè! Good to have you here.

Erobintica ha detto...

Isabel, I think I am going to try a variation of this recipe today - I will let you know how it goes.

For some reason now, I'm craving gingerbread - I make one from the Cafe Beaujolais (in Mendocino) cookbook that is so old and falling apart (from loving use) that I need to hold it together with a rubber band.

I will be back later to comment at more length on the love/lust topic. Must go do brunch dishes now - I made us fresh peach pancakes.

Jeremy Edwards ha detto...

An erotic tour de force, Isabel!!

Two favorite passages:

My nostrils flared at the sharp scent of ginger and I forked into the cake, soaking up the vanilla specked ice cream and let the flavor explode in my mouth. When I bit into the soft cake and sweet cream, my cunt melted.


I brushed my lips on her cinnamon freckled breast and tasted the salty mixture on her tongue as we made passionate love on the sun speckled forest floor and she came moaning with my tongue jabbing her melted cream cunt.

The individual details are so precisely stimulating, yet the overall effect is all amelt with deliciousness. In other words, your literary magic evokes the way ingredients interact in the best cooking!

I also love how you worked in the word "gingerly"! And your creative recap of the blog tour (encuentro with cilantro—ha!).

I'm a big fan of love, but in the erotic arts I think a lot of mileage can be had from plain old lust. That being said, one would probably find that the central characters in most of my stories appear to be in love, or falling in love, or growing into love, or on the verge of what might turn out to be love, etc.

Kerry Bell ha detto...
Questo commento è stato eliminato dall'autore.
Isabel Kerr ha detto...

Oh Robin!

I have been to the Beaujolais Cafe in Mendocino. What a wonderful place, both Mendocino and the Cafe!

Another mouth watering food memory from that area, but south of SF, is the Ollalaberry pie at Duarte's, on 84 going to the coast from the peninsula.

Peach pancakes!!! sounds divine! Hope you can make it back.

Thanks Robin.

Isabel Kerr ha detto...

Aw, Jeremy! Now I'm blushing, that transparent pink of pickled ginger. (With Sommer's mention of candied ginger, and the pickled ginger, I think we've covered all the ways ginger can be served! Except maybe chocolate covered candied ginger!)

Thank you for your very complimentary words on my story too. I really appreciate knowing what works for you (and Craig.)

Yeah, you're a hopeless romantic Jeremy. There's always, if not out and out love, tons of affection in your stories.

Thanks J.

Isabel Kerr ha detto...

I need to take a break for a little bit, it's 7 pm here, but I'll be back as soon as I can. Thanks to everyone who are hanging out with me on this very warm (it's about 85° here) Spicy Sunday.

Donna ha detto...

Isabel, I don't know where to begin with my appreciation for this luscious, piquant post. I, too, loved your recap of the spice tour so far, marvelous wordplay. And of course the trip through the seasonal bounty of Italy had me fingering my p...assport. Since I signed up for a local organic veggie box, I'm also living in rhythm with the seasonal produce, cooking what's ripe that week. I was apprehensive at first at being "forced" to cook with certain ingredients, but in fact it's been inspiring and the difference in the quality in flavor is amazing.

Thank you also, for the link to the Lady Chatterly trial. Thank you, Mr. Rembar, for making what we do possible today. Just think, no contributor's copies in the US mail back in those days!

I love ginger in all its forms. To me it is not just the spice for all seasons, but the spice that crosses borders. Japanese cuisine is fairly bland, but ginger (and wasabi) are two of the tongue-prickling tastes that liven things up. And of course gingerbread is much beloved in my house. Dutch speculaas and German lebkuchen and of course gingerbread houses keep the house fragrant at Christmastime. I love cake-style gingerbread, too, with melted ice cream or lemon sauce. Why don't you bring a batch to Gettysburg, Robin ;-)?

Ah, I could go on and on, but I must add my voice to the chorus of praise for "A Woman for All Seasons." I'm not sure if it was the sensual, almost orgasmic descriptions of the food or the totally sexy idea of having a woman seduce me with her cooking (hey, it was both), but I so wanted to slip right into that story and taste every delicious mouthful as the seasons ran their course.

So, finally, lust and love. While I totally understand the appeal of sudden sex without all of the emotional entanglements, in my own life I've never been able to divide the two. Even with something as obviously one-dimensional as a pickup, I always felt at least a pang of tenderness for my partner at some point. Having tasted what a deep, long-time commitment can do to sex, I can't even really fake it fictionally when it comes to casual sex. I suspect I could nominally enjoy it, have an orgasm, etc, but it would always be the packaged cookie rather than homemade. I know other experienced adults feel differently, of course, but for me "pure lust" is more about falling in love with my own desire than another person.

Okay, pass over that dish of ginger chicken and some wine! And thank you again for a delicious and nourishing Sunday feast al fresco.

Unknown ha detto...

Oh, wow. Amazing post, Isabel! Thanks for this!

Erobintica ha detto...

Am back. Oh, I miss ollalieberries too! When we lived on the Southern Oregon coast we had huckleberries and blackberries (which the bears liked and left evidence of on the road by the vines) and salmonberries and thimbleberries. Just wild for the picking. I loved it!

And speaking of ginger, I love the Trader Joe's Triple Ginger Gingersnaps.

Donna - I am constantly jealous of folks that have CSAs - the very few in our area are very expensive and small and you have to sign up about 3 decades in advance. And my garden has not done well this year (critters and weird weather). Oh - and I was thinking I'd like to bring something - but I didn't know what the schedule was - I have a couple things in mind.

Okay, now to lust/love. They are different. I think of lust as a very serious want. Sometimes blinding. Hehe, often blinding. It exists in my one-track mind. Ah, but love. I have to say that in my experience, sex without love is all-in-all rather unsatisfying. There may be electric moments, but something is missing. I think with love - real love - not imagined love - there is trust. And trust can enliven sex even after many years.

As for my characters - it's funny - I find that sometimes there is love and sometimes there is not. There's something else. I hadn't really thought about it before. I'm so little published that most of you have hardly read any of my stuff, so you don't know what sorts of things I've been writing (other than the Trollop flashers). This is actually quite fascinating to think about. I'll probably be back later.

Danielle ha detto...

ah..i know i m late for dinner..but the kitchen still smells fantastic,,:-)

i totally love ginger in every form and also enjoyed this stop of the spice tour a lot..beautifully and deliciously written ..thanx for sharing..:-)

Sommer Marsden ha detto...

Neve went to Italy without me. I am heart broken. We could have had so much wine! I mean fun. I totally meant fun ;)

I am envious. Truly.

I can say that one of my favorite foods with ginger are these amazing Thai spice chips AT sent us from sunny CA. They were so good and hot and almost sweet and your tongue would just scream for mercy and yet...couldn't stop eating the. They were just that good.

Jeremy beat me to the punch. I did not have time pre-brunch to say that this was mighty tasty:

I brushed my lips on her cinnamon freckled breast and tasted the salty mixture on her tongue as we made passionate love on the sun speckled forest floor and she came moaning with my tongue jabbing her melted cream cunt.


Isabel Kerr ha detto...

Hi! I'm back.

Donna, I make a deep bow and say thank you for all the international associations you add. And, a spice for all seasons and for all nations. You're right! It really does cross borders and evoke so many cultures.

It is really amazing how one case, argued by an astute thinker could have come up with this decision that has resonance today.

Thank you very much for your appreciative words on the story. Not only do my characters need to be in love with each other I think I need to be in love with them. And even if it doesn't last, they are in love in the moment. And once again, as I have mentioned in the past, as with looks, I would find something to be in love with.

Thank you Donna.

Isabel Kerr ha detto...

Thanks P.S.! Looking forward to salt, I know you'll lay it on thick and sexy!

Isabel Kerr ha detto...

Hi again Robin. Berries are amazing. They grow wild on the mountainsides here and really give you a feel for what it must have been like for hunter/gatherers. With wild seasonal nuts (there are hazelnuts here too but the squirrels feast on them) and berries and various leafy greens and mushrooms (this area is famous for its porcini) that the locals know all about, just for the picking.

Lust and love. I still haven't figured it out!

Thanks Robin.

Isabel Kerr ha detto...

Thank you Danielle! At least we're in the same time zone!

Erobintica ha detto...

Isabel, I made a variation of the recipe for dinner tonight - I will post tomorrow on my blog what I did. It was good, but I still want to do your exact recipe sometime when I have all the ingredients.

Isabel Kerr ha detto...

Sommer, I think you and Neve and Alison ( and everyone else) should come over together...wait could Italy handle all of you!?!? heck yeah! Wine? we have lots of wine! Usually too much in fact!

Thank you for your appreciative story comment too!


Isabel Kerr ha detto...

Great Robin! I may have to make it again soon too!

Isabel Kerr ha detto...

It's almost 1 AM here and past my bedtime!

Thank you very much for being here! It's been delightful. Please leave any more comments and I'll enjoy them in the morning...

Ciao, ciao, buona notte a tutti!


Emerald ha detto...

Hi Isabel! First, apologies for forgetting to post about your hosting today on my blog before I left for the retreat I attended this morning. Said retreat accounts also for my just showing up here now. :)

I found your story delightfully food-filled and evocative! I also found it poignant (and suspensful in that I wondered the whole time what would happen regarding the relationships(s)/commitment that had been mentioned).

Interesting question too! Fresh from the consciousness/spiritual retreat I attended this weekend, the answer in me is that love always is whether we are conscious of it or not. I would likely have given that answer anyway, but it seems especially fresh right now. :) In writing, it seems to me that would be there the same way (for me) — the love is there whether I or the characters are conscious of it or not. It occurs to me that may not make sense...but that seems okay to me right now. I'll leave it alone. :)

What Sommer quoted I found very appealing too. :) Thank you for sharing!

And thank you for hosting this magnificent herb today, Isabel! :)

Donna ha detto...

Robin, I'm looking forward to your tale of gingery culinary adventure!

I hear you Isabel, there also must me an element of love in me for my characters as well or the story dies on the page. And the love doesn't have to be a grand passion or the result of finding the perfect partner necessarily. As Robin mentioned, trust is perhaps the even more magical component, which is why BDSM stories are so potent, even though I'm not exactly a card-carrying practitioner (just an occasional tourist). But Emerald's points really opens the whole discussion up into a kind of ethereal realm where it's all about love, whether we know it or not. I kind of like that.

As a freckled person, I loved the cinnamon speckled breast, too, but I also liked those gingersnaps in milk.

Wouldn't an in the flesh meeting in Italy be amazing?

Erobintica ha detto...

Wouldn't an in the flesh meeting in Italy be amazing?

when we all get rich, right Donna?


Emerald ha detto...

Hmmm, I guess ginger is a spice (not an herb). I misspoke there. ;)

Danielle ha detto...

..its actually worth a lot to be in the same time zone..:-) most of the bloggies sleep when we are awake..but like we are taking over...hehe*

sommer..first when i read (i just tipped red!!) wine i so thought i mistaken it because of my lushy naughty alcoholics mind...but you and neve have one too i see..:-)

Isabel Kerr ha detto...

Yes Emerald, there is an Oz... ; )

And you are spot on. Love is in the mix, in the flesh or on the page, whether we are conscious of it or not or whether we want to admit it or not (to ourselves). And Robin and Donna, trust has a lot to do with it. We are at our most vulnerable then. And to me, only if there is love (in some form, as Jeremy says, awakening, developing, etc.) and trust can my characters follow through to experience ultimate pleasure. But that may be just me. Maybe someday I'll write some killer story about vindictive sex, hm, there's a thought. ; ) But that presupposes that there is something to vindicate which would probably be lost or unrequited love. There we are full circle. Love had something to do with it. I can't get away from it.

when we all get rich, right Donna?

You don't have to be rich, to be my girl
You don't have to be cool, to rule my world
There aint no particular sign I'm more compatible with
I just want your extra time and your...

Ok, musicians, what's that from, besides one of the greatest artists and songs of all time, imo ; )

Robin, you don't have to be rich, I know a very reasonably priced retreat like place and, an in the flesh meeting in Italy is possible one day...

and Sommer, Neve and Danielle, do we have wine for you!

Sommer, Alison sent you thai ginger chips!?!? I'm so jealous. ; ) ; )

I've mentioned it before, and a writers workshop in Italy would be a possibility if anyone were interested in putting it together.

As I'd mentioned to Donna at one point, this blog tour has been like a wonderful workshop in itself, thank you all for putting in your thoughts and ideas.

Good morning and thanks again for being here.

Marina ha detto...

Hi Isabel, sorry I missed the party. I love ginger - can't wait to try the recipe. And, I'm a hopeless romantic - my characters are almost always in love.

Have you seen this cute take on Prince's Kiss?

Thanks for the mention about next week - I gotta get to work!

Lovely party!

Isabel Kerr ha detto...

Thanks for stopping by Marina! I shoulda known you'd get the song! I wish I could watch the clip but I'm on a dial up and have to miss all those things. But I do LOVE that song. One of those that I can listen to at any time in any mood.

Yeah, all my characters have to be in love in some form too. I'm working on a follow up post to this so watch this space.

Really looking forward to the basil blog! "See" you Sunday!