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The Hammer of the Gods

Here’s a little tidbit you may not know about me: I LOVE LED ZEPPELIN! They are the #1 band in the history of music for me, and there is not one song that they have ever done that I do not like. That’s unusual; I love most music and off the top of my head I can’t immediately think of anyone else that is true for. I was born too late to be able to ever see them at a live concert, and so when I found out that Jason Bonham was bringing his ‘Led Zeppelin Experience’ to Seattle, I had to go. I found out late, only 2 weeks before the concert, so I was surprised to get great seats at a very reasonable price! I don’t love huge concerts and I hate spending a ton of money on them, so I am always happy when I can hear great music for under 50 bucks. And this is the greatest!

I have owned their music on vinyl, cassette, cd and dvd. I have seen the old concerts, movies and pictures, and now I have heard the music live! It was at the WaMu theater at Quest Field and it was a good venue. The name is misleading, as there is not theater seating at the front, it is all on the floor, and that was bothersome to me, though in the end it was ok. I have this very real problem with Seattle concert go-ers of a certain age,(and let me tell you there was as much grey hair at this rock concert as there was at the last matinée I saw at Benaroya Hall!) they won’t stand! We go to a soccer game and stand for 90 minutes straight, no problem. But go to a great rock show, like Trans-Siberian Orchestra or Jason Bonham, and they all want to sit! How can you sit with all that amazing music?? I have to move! I want to get up and dance it out! I have a difficult time not standing at a classical concert, never mind a rock show! So the crowd stood a couple of times at the beginning and I was hopeful, but there were people behind me so I sat when the crowd sat, albeit begrudgingly. Suddenly there were 3-4 guys yelling in the back “STAND UP SEATTLE! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU!” and I cracked up! They ran through the aisles encouraging folks to stand and it worked! For a while anyway. I took that as my chance and switched seats with Mark so I could stand in the aisle and hopefully not get told to sit down. I didn’t sit the rest of the concert, except during the 15 minute intermission. I worked up a great sweat and I loved it! So thanks to those drunk guys who wanted everyone to stand, I appreciate your enthusiasm!

I admit that I was a little apprehensive. I knew that Jason Bonham was a great drummer, but very few are as good as his dad was, and if John had lived longer I think he would be the greatest drummer of all time. And then there are John Paul Jones and Jimmy Page, musical geniuses as well! A very small circle of musicians are in their realm. Would the singer sound like Robert Plant? How much different would it be? Could it be that good?

Oh. My. Gawd. They were amazing! The show was fantastic! It did take 4 of them plus the singer, to get all that sound out, they did a great job. They are not a ‘tribute band’, nor did they try to imitate. They celebrated the music by playing it right. The singer (James Dylan) did not try to imitate Plant, though certainly there are similarities in his voice range, he just sang the songs fantastically well. The main guitar player, Tony Catania is incredibly talented and he played the heck out of those guitars! He kept up with Page’s licks and threw in a few of his own, and it worked. Michael Devin is the bassist and he, along with keyboard and guitarist Stephen LeBlanc, brought John Paul Jones to the room. And then there is Jason Bonham. He was only 13 when he lost his talented father, and it sounds like he had some work to do around that. He was emotional and generous in sharing his father with the crowd, through pictures and stories and home movies. He was playing a long drum solo and behind him they put up footage of John on the big screen. They played simultaneously and it was beyond cool. Those boys can ROCK!

They could have played all night and not played every song, and I don’t know how they decided what to play, though they played beautifully. I am so glad we went and next time I am going to drag my brother in law Chris along no matter what because the only other thought that went through my head was ‘I can’t believe Chris is missing this’! We had dinner at their house before we went (Fondue! Who does fondue these days? Julie does, and she does a great job! It was super fun and tasty!) and I really regret not insisting he go with us… I don’t know if I could have convinced him or not but I wish I would have tried harder.

So anyway, I know this is a very different blog than I usually write but I had to get all this out of my head. I am still fighting this horrid cough after more than 5 weeks and I am not sleeping well, so I lay there and think about stuff like this which makes it harder to fall asleep! It’s time to rock it out. Tomorrow I am going to see the Picasso display at SAM, and then to Tom Douglas’ Cook Book Social at the Palace Ballroom. I have wanted to go to this event every year since he started it and this is the first year I can go. I am going with mom and several gals from over here, and it will be FUN! Which is good, since we start holiday catering this Friday and it will be nonstop (THANK YOU!!!) until New Year’s Eve if I can help it. (Please, no more weather! No one comes out in the weather and it hurts!)

Did you try the savory bread pudding for Thanksgiving? We had it and I loved it. What would you like this week? What do you do with leftovers? My favorite thing to do is to put a little bit of everything in a bowl: mashed potatoes, veggies, stuffing, turkey and whatever else there is and heat it all up, stir it up, put some cranberries on the top and eat it up! I made stock and will make turkey risotto tonight with some of it. The rest I froze for turkey stew later. You are probably sick of turkey! How about a cauliflower gratin. Tis the season!

2 1/2 cups milk
1/4 small onion
1 clove
1 small bay leaf
1 small sprig fresh thyme
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
3 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch florets (about 7 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1 generous cup finely grated Gruyere cheese (about 3 ounces)
1 teaspoon Cognac or brandy
Pinch of cayenne
4 gratings of fresh nutmeg
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
Preheat oven to 400 F. Butter a 1 1/2 quart gratin dish and set it aside.

In medium sauce pan, heat the milk with the onion, clove, bay leaf, and thyme to just below the boiling point. Set aside. In another medium pan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat, and then sift in the flour. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon in a figure-8 motion, until it lightens in color, about 2 minutes.

Gradually whisk the milk mixture into the flour mixture. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, whisking to prevent lumps. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, whisking occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 10 minutes.

While the sauce simmers, bring a medium pot of water to a boil, season with salt, and add the cauliflower. Cook until tender, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Arrange the cauliflower, florets-side up, in the buttered gratin dish.

Strain the sauce and season it with a teaspoon salt, pepper, nutmeg, and cayenne to taste. Whisk in the cheese, 1 tablespoon of the butter, and the Cognac until smooth, taking care not to over mix. Pour the cheese sauce over the cauliflower.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan. In a medium bowl, mix the bread crumbs with the butter to coat evenly. Sprinkle the top of the cauliflower with the buttered breadcrumbs. Bake until the top of the cauliflower gratin is golden brown and bubbly, about 20 to 25 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving. Serve hot.

YUM!