Monday, December 15, 2014

Hippo Birdies to me!

Struggling back to health, and getting there.  But meanwhile, lovely birthday greetings from blogistas and neighbors and HS and here's what just arrived from sister dogonart, aka Irene:




 I'm blessed!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

I know, but I've been sick 6WS

Another of those jokes that few people other than self find funny:

Elephant meets with mouse, looks down and sniffs, hm, you're very small, aren't you? mouse looks up and says, well, I've been sick.

And I have.  Completely out of commission for several days, not back yet but hopeful.  Bigger than a mouse, though.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen and across the street and all over the place

Today was supposed to be the onset of a nor'easter, one of the days-long storms we specialize in at this time of year, but beyond a bit of rain and cold, not much happened.

I got to the library to stock up on Father Brown DVDs, never having seen them and thinking that would be good for a stormy day. Then I came home, made yogurt, hummus from scratch i.e. involving chickpeas soaked since yesterday then boiled for ages, cut up and froze the bread I baked yesterday, and made chickpea/tomato soup, using the remaining chickpeas.

Then in the middle of doing some serious stitching on my current artwork, C., Karen's sister, texted to ask me to cross the street if I was interested in yet more freecycling. Cookbooks.  Boxes and boxes of them.  

Sorted many many books, into cook and other, friends summoned to choose what they could use, I put in an email to local libe to see if they'd like some boxes for upcoming sales, these being books in perfect, unopened condition.  Then I freecycled one box of them, and brought home four more, which are now in process.




As you see.  ALL those boxes are full of great cookbooks, longing for a new home.  Even nowadays there are collectors of cookbooks, despite the internet recipe availability.  Which makes me wonder if there are collectors and there are cooks.  Karen, the original owner, rarely cooked but had a worldclass collection of books!

Not bad considering I'm officially on the sicklist, coughing helplessly  and  all congested.  Oddly I feel okay, though, but annoyed by the endless coughing and I hope it doesn't keep me away from my two meetings tomorrow.  

And then again, it might be socially responsible to reconsider whether to go there at all.  I'll see how it goes overnight.  I wonder if I picked up a little cold at my party on Sunday.  Oh, if you want to know more about that, the party, not the cold, go here.

While I was in the freezer looking for soup ingredients I found my frozen lemon slices, which was great, so I made a large amount of lemonade with hot water, great for coughing and congestion. Must remember to take some to bed with me, too, for night application.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Weather plans and food

Since a nor'easter is on its way, with the usual high winds, shrieking rain, possible sleet and snow and wintry mix, where M and Ms and peanuts and raisins fall all over you, it's a good time to be thinking about cooking.

And I'm happy to report that the cast iron pans are proving to be as good as promised.  They are beginning to be really nonstick, and give a lovely browning and flavor that Teflon just doesn't.

I've been faithfully scrubbing all three pans with kosher salt, and coating with oil and so on, and they're responding now very nicely. At this point I only need to wipe out the pan with a paper towel, leave it with a film of oil, and it's good to go for next time. Definitely worth the trouble of working with them at first.




So here's a cheese omelet, turned over from each side and see that lovely netting of browning.  Served with a toasted hot biscuit and a glass of Merlot, Yellowtail, if you wondered,  nice supper while I peruse cookbooks.

This omelet was a quick meal because I couldn't think what to cook. Two eggs, some milk, fresh ground white pepper, pinch of nutmeg, pinch of kosher salt, even smaller pinch of cumin, extra sharp cheddar grated in, and that was it.  Really good.  

I have a batch of bread dough rising at the moment, and that will bake this evening, warming the house as it goes. Tomorrow I'll probably make yogurt and maybe more soup or something. We'll see.
 
Currently I have boxes of cookbooks to go through and pick what I'd like before putting a lot of them onto Freecycle, to continue helping to disperse Karen's household.  These book are all in mint condition. 

She was a collector rather than a cook, though she did love the food I gave her in her last weeks, carefully chosen to be very digestible and easy to swallow, nice soups, that kind of thing. she was a foodie who appreciated flavor and ingredients but didn't actually cook!  

So passing on her cookbooks is nice, since they're in beautiful condition, unopened, and many are classics.  I'm hanging onto The Joy of Cooking, latest edition, though, and a couple of Marthas, and the original Moosewood books. But others I'll peruse then pass on.  There are, at last count at least ten more boxes, after all the boxes I already processed..however, I have found collectors of cookbooks who will be thrilled to take them.  

And as one freecycling person said, who took a bag of brand new, still with labels attached, clothes, to donate to a parish in Trenton, and a huge bag of bears, they will be presents now, just as they were probably going to be if she'd had the chance.  The freecycler is buying gift boxes so that the people who get them really get a nice boxed present, rather than a handout.  I like this.


Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sign of Peace, what's yours?






This little scene, yesterday's teatime setup, with homemade yogurt and a spoonful of homemade apple jam, with a few lychees gift of unknown friend, together with Chinese porcelain teapot, Williamsburg souvenir Jefferson Cup used with filter, on tray from Karen's house, and the little potholder made on my tiny loom, all spells peace to me.

It's a mixture of friendship, good food, excellent tea, made Downton Abbey style, with good English breakfast tea leaves, pot warmed, and, sitting on the mission style oak coffee table found many years ago at the dumpster, it's also about found objects.

My other symbol of peace at home is a cat on a windowsill.

What's your favorite symbol of peace and home?

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Gotta go! That's my pantleg ringing.. 6WS

New entry in the pantheon of Jokes Which Hardly Anybody But Me Finds Funny:

Little elephant drinking at the river, with his trunk under water. Little crocodile comes swimming along, catches trunk in his teeth.  Elephant says "I subboze you thig that's fuddy!"

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014 and attendant excitement

Exciting evening before Tday, when I went to use my phone and it was
gone.  Massive search of the house for a couple of hours,  for my only phone
communication form, yielded nothing.  Emailed son explaining not to
expect early a.m. text in case I hadn't found the phone.

Hadn't even left the house, but I'd done a ton of things, on all three
floors.  Searched every single drawer, every piece of folded laundry, all the
prepped food, bathrooms, cupboards, art supplies, even riffled through the
groundcover near the front door, in the sleet, in case when I threw
out my tea leaves the phone sailed with them...

Finally gave up and decided to go to bed, all disgruntled. And when I
undressed found my phone....in the inside of my pant cuff!  no way of
guessing how it got there from the little pouch around my neck it
usually lives in.  Then I was overcome with falling-down-laughing at having 
carried the phone around with me for all the hours I spent searching for it. 
 
Then I did get to bed, and was promptly woken by smoke alarm chirping
every couple of minutes.  Had to get up, and it being way too wrong a
time to ask neighbor to climb up and replace the battery, did so
myself, climbing bravely up a set of steps placed at the head of the stairs, 
and actually managing to get the little door open and the battery replaced
without actually being able to see it properly, wrong angle for my specs.

Then figuring it was about midnight and realizing I'd forgotten my night
decongestant, took a pill and went to bed, then noticed it was 5 a.m.
 So that made it impossible to get up for a few hours, this stuff
rendering me practically comatose...

Up then finally, and glad most of the meal prep was done yesterday! looking
forward  son's early afternoon arrival.  Snowing gently, very unusual
for us at Tgiving.
 
Wonderful Tday with Handsome Son.  All the food went over very well,
and a large plateful all set up went home with HS for today's post
Tday meal for him.  And he left me some of the pumpkin pie and cheese
and crackers.  All very happy.

Except for one minor excitement: in the middle of things, a sudden
CHIRP!  OMG, it started again, but this time good old HS with better
directional hearing than I tracked it down to the CO alarm, changed
the batteries and blessedly it went quiet.  Enough excitement from
alarms.  But why it should go off so soon after the other may only be
a coincidence.

I remember the last time we had a CO chirp event, after a couple of
chirps from it, ALL the smoke detectors began to chirp, even though
they're not connected with the CO at all. 
 
I wonder if there's some sympathetic vibrations between computer chips, 
since the same chip seems to be used in all these alarms, that starts them up in a chorus.
 Or they have ambitions to be crickets in a future life...and I wonder
why the chirping typically starts up in the evening and into the night.

Well, after all the lovely day and the excitement and lack of sleep
yesterday, I slept in today and woke feeling very rested, two hours
later than usual.
 
And had a nice postTday breakfast
 
 
 
And found a nice flock of emails in my box from freecyclers wishing me for the holiday and reminding me of the transactions we'd done!   bonus there.

Memo to self: put batteries on shopping list, all kinds.  

Also check why my fonts keep changing in size without my asking them.  Perhaps a sympathetic vibration with the alarms.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014 indoors and out

Indoors food prep to save work tomorrow, a chicken/ham/swiss cheese thing, with flavored breadcrumbs including lemon zest, all the pounding and spreading about and rolling up and crumbing and buttering done.  




Ready to bake tomorrow. And I remembered to put a tape on it reminding me of the temp and time for baking, to save scrabbling through the cookbook to find out.  I must invent a fancy title for this, Thankful Chicken! Or possibly Poulet au jambon et fromage et miettes de pain!  Hm, by the time you've finished saying it, it's gone.  And you will note that there will not be endless leftovers to deal with.  Some to eat tomorrow, some for Handsome Son to carry off home, a bit for me for the day after.



Then the squash, already steamed, just add butter and nutmeg and heat up, mushrooms and onions to be sauteed together, potatoes ready to bake or roast, or maybe both, corn, a legal requirement in this state, fine diced green bell peppers because otherwise the whole meal might look golden.  So far so good, great fun to do in a leisurely sort of way.

Then outdoors it looks as if we are in for a very unusual white Thanksgiving.  





Handsome Son is one of the people who drive for the holiday.  Almost two miles, clear across town!  And he brings the hors d'oeuvres and the dessert, his decision as to what.

I like Thanksgiving very much, no present pressure, giving them, that is,  and no  history of Tdays of childhood, all that, since I didn't grow up with it, but like it a whole lot more than Christmas. 

There's a lot to be said for arriving at a holiday for the first time in adulthood.  Not unlike arriving in a new religion at the same time of life. I notice that people who have converted seem to be a lot happier with their religion than people who were born into it.  Probably because they chose it, didn't have it thrust upon 'em, to misquote a bit.  And I don't hear people like me fussing about having to see relatives and who said what to them as kids, and all that.

Anyway, what I'm grateful for this year:  still alive and well and active, still have friends in same situation, still live in a great neighborhood, have constant support and encouragement and good humor from blogistas all over the world, still have lovely Handsome Son coming faithfully to celebrate with me.  In fact I have a lot to be thankful for.

So if I don't make it in here tomorrow for some reason, thank you all for being in my life and allowing me into yours!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Cold Day Cooking

Also known as catching up on vitals.  Here's bread dough, ready to rise for a while, using white wholewheat, ap flour, lentil flour and split pea flour, using the basic recipe from Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, but as you see, with major adjustments.  Not before time for baking, out of bread of all kinds.



 This nonstick finish gives the best crust ever, a Jacques Pepin tip, and you mix and bake the bread in the same container, always a plus.  And once baked, bread removed, the pot just needs to be wiped.


And here's a quart of yogurt working magic for the next seven hours at the end of which bells will chime on my Ipod, and I'll wonder wildly why there's a church service going on on a cold Saturday night before I remember it's my alarm.




And here's lunch, well, two lunches




a veggie bake with broccoli, finely diced red bell pepper, with an egg beaten with fresh-ground pepper, kosher salt, drop of milk, few chunks of sharp cheddar, poured over, baked at 375F for about 15 minutes, or whenever you remember to look in. Always fun to eat colors, as well as being a nutritious advantage.

So the bread and yogurt will do their work for me while I eat my lunch, this bake being two meals for me, followed by the rest of the yogurt I bought as a starter, having forgotten to keep some of the last batch.

Bear Withdrawal Equals Two New Dolls 6WS

Although I'm not at all a conservator, never anxious to preserve and collect and keep, and usually have little trouble in passing on items to better homes, the departure of the bears was a bit different.

Bears have character the minute they're completed, and they definitely took up a bit of psychic real estate around here.  So the large empty guest bed where they were all nestled until I got them all assembled now left a psychic space for me, too.

Which resulted in doing a bit with yarn and a curtain pull, and some pipe cleaners, while sitting up in my own bed last night with a Miss Marple on the DVD player.  And a bit of lovely merino roving.



Smaller doll does not yet have a head, so her hair had to stand in. I was in bed and the wooden beads are one floor up, and require a search.  But she still has character, even headless, oddly enough.

Reader Donna might recognize the Greek cloth, now starched and doing its bit to render my home a bit more gracious, and Judy might remember the curtain pull -- the other one went into a little denim purse I made for K.  The merino roving came from the yarn store in Cape May, and I think the yarn is from the Red White and Blue thrift store.  Sourcing is everything, heh!

So: when in doubt, make a doll!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

We're going to new homes! we've been picked! The Great Bear Farewell

The large contingent of bears sitting around on the  spare room bed these few months are about to be launched on the world.  

Tomorrow, off in the arms of a wonderful freecycler who will distribute them to families who really need a bear.  Bears have a presence, and we're all sorry to lose them. Well, maybe the Dollivers thought they took up too much time and attention, but, supervised by Marigold,  they still put on a good show and a party.





With Elton playing a brisk accompaniment, the assembled company of Dollivers and Departing Bears broke into song, ranging from Teddy Bears' Picnic, to Off we Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder, and If My Folks Could See Me Now, and with shouts of bear with me, I'm being borne away, beary Thanksgiving to you all at Boud's, they leapt into their carrying bag ready for the Bear Ride.

The house will be a lot quieter now, though a couple of bears did vote to remain, to keep an eye on the household.  Not pictured, because the Ds might not approve.  They fancied a  clean sweep and a bear-free environment, but since they caught sight of the new ski caps, they have enough material for complaint already.

Thank you Freecycler C., for always being willing to take and distribute good things to good people.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Breakfast chez Liz

I just realized I never did a breakfast post. Probably because my eyes aren't fully open at that time.  But today there's a picture





pumpkin/walnut bread, toasted, with paneer, both homemade. I'd already made inroads on the bread before thinking of a picture, in case you think I have mice.  Nice strong cup of Vietnamese coffee, which I do by passing the boiling water once through the grounds, makes great coffee. Skim milk, no sugar, sugar ruins hot drinks for me.

 Paneer is almost too easy to need a recipe: boil your milk, sour it with lemon, save and drain the curds and press with cheesecloth, eat! save the whey for soups and sauces.

The bread was from America's Test Kitchen but the recipe had what I consider a major flaw: it called for a CAN of prepared pumpkin.  And failed to say how much volume that would be, for a girl like I with no kitchen scale and with homegrown and diced pumpkin ready to use.  So I guessed at it, and it worked out okay anyway. I still maintain that a can of something is not an ingredient, but that's me.

I took a dozen pieces of it in to the Bite Club as a sample last evening, and it all vanished pretty fast.  The BC is a wonderful group, and I've learned not to eat dinner before I go.  

Last night we had, all in samples: onion jam on cream cheese on crackers, beer cheddar mix with crackers, white bean and greens soup, chicken and fruit on sticks, poor man's beef stroganoff, sweet potato chips, beet chips, blondies and my pumpkin walnut bread.  

Massive exchange of ideas about the current series of cookbooks,all from America's Test Kitchen,  and what it's good at - ATC Family Book is a compendium of cooking tips which are great, Lost Recipes revived some recipes which are not, Vegetables did great job on vegetables, identifying, explaining, and so on.  

And we found that next month, baking and holiday desserts,  using books by Dorie someone and Martha someone, is the last currently planned meeting.

So we strongly encouraged the PTB to continue, since this has been such a success, hardly enough furniture to accommodate the people, even.  I guess they only scheduled a few meetings to see how well it went, so we're hoping they see it ought to continue. It's rapidly become one of my favorite events, even bringing me out on dark curvy roads in freezing weather like last night.

One of the teen volunteers did a series of pix of cooks with their dishes and candids of us all around the table talking and eating at once, so let's hope that ensures our continuing as a group.  I didn't do any pix, since I don't blog about people unless they agree, and it's a bit delicate when some people would rather not, but don't like to say, and so on.  So this is one of the times I just don't.

The Dollivers are wondering if they will get a trip there.  We'll see.

 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Upcycling for socks

I knitted quite a few pairs of socks for me and others a while back.  Some I liked so much that I wore out the heels




what with all the walking I do, and these were too nice to scrap, and no fun walking in repaired heels, so I decided to upcycle them.


And here you see one of my new fingerless gloves on my gnarly old hand




and naturally the Dollivers wanted in on this




and two of them got new ski hats, which used to be sock toes, despite the pouring rain going on, because they figure sooner or later there'll be snow and skiing.

I warned them not to mention the new hats to the others, since I don't want to have to upcycle three more socks..

Survivor Spaghetti and Meatballs

I rarely have any interest in eating meat other than chicken, but with the long season of vegetables and variations thereon, I suddenly thought, hm, get some nice Italian sausage, make meatballs.  Using breadcrumbs from my homebaked bread. To go with the spaghetti sauce I have in the freezer, made from farm tomatoes.  It seemed like such an innocent decision.

So I made the meatballs, which involved baking them in a very hot oven.  Which started up the smoke alarm.  Much waving of newspapers, then blessed quiet while I got on with my cooking, only to start up again once it got its breath.  

Meanwhile, under all this row, don't ask me why the builders put the smoke alarm so close to the open kitchen that a slice of toast will set it off, anyway, I took out the bag of frozen spaghetti sauce and put it in the microwave to start thawing.  

Then, while I was watching and checking the progress of the spaghetti, and waving newspapers at the smoke alarm, I noticed a red tide in the microwave.  The bag had opened, ziploc fail. 

So now I had to rescue the sauce, clean up the microwave, watch the meatballs and the spaghetti and wave newspapers at the smoke alarm. No, you can't turn it off by removing the battery, it's wired into the system of the house.

Finally, meatballs done, last blast from the smoke alarm as I took them out of the oven, spaghetti just right, sauce recovered and heated, red peppers found for sprinkling with parmesan cheese, and I served myself a nice dinner.  

Before putting it on the table I thought I should close the curtains where all the plants are, so as not to be eating on a lighted stage.  And found I was standing in a puddle of water.  One of the big plants had burst its banks.  So now I had rapid cleanup, since laminate floors and flooding hate each other.

Finally, dinner got on the table. Too spent to make pix at that point, but here's the leftovers for today's lunch.  





And I must say it tasted wonderful. Best meatballs evah.  Which may be as much a reflection of what I went through to get them served as anything. Like a nice glass of water at the top of a mountain.  And the glass of red wine that went with wasn't bad, either.

We are survivors!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Tuesday Tea Outside, Thursday It's Snowing 6WS

That's the local weather report.  Tuesday was so warm and sunny I took a cup of tea outside, reading and having neighbors stop by to chat, one of them commenting that this was the last day this year I'd get to do this.  So true.  The cold wave arrived, and Thursday we had snow.

So the indoor garden comes into its own.  And the Dollivers show off their potting-up skills, with the cactus, ow, stickers, see what she made us do




from bits of a huge plant that fell off the parent plant on a friend's truck and he gave me to do magic with, and the relative of the sweet potato,  grown from prunings from same friend's giant version of the same plant. 




 I grew these on in water until there was a major root system, and now they're trying to adapt to potting soil.  The sweet potato family is very tough, so I expect they'll make it.

The Ds insisted on a serenade from Elton, on the grounds that plants like to be talked to, so singing probably even better.  






So under the close supervision of kitty Duncan, here seen giving last minute instructions, and then presenting him, he gave us Yellow Rose of Texas, and Last Rose of Summer, and when the Ds protested that roses didn't come into it, switched to Just a Lonely Little Petunia in an Onion Patch, and The Biggest Aspidistra in the World.

And, knowing the Dollivers' insistence on being included in every ceremony, they offered their 6WS:  Dollivers Are Good Gardeners, The Best.

So modest, so self-effacing..muffled screams from Call me Michele and Bette Davis as the dreaded philodendron ties them down.




 At which point Elton switched without missing a beat, into Don't Fence me In.   


 And demanded a close-up, as a tribute to his pianistic skills and endless patience with Dolliver demands.  And commented bitterly that even in his own close-up he couldn't get free of Dollivers.  

Dollivers?  Everywhere, Everywhere, I Tell You, he shouted, thus creating his own 6WS.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Paneer Adventures

My default playtime in the kitchen is with cheese.  Dating all the way back to being a little kid, when we'd all get a tiny bottle of milk from our moms, and walk to school, everyone walked, shaking the little bottle until ta-daaaah! at school or rather after several lesson periods, during which teachers demanded that we Put Away Those Bottles, we had cheese!  one problem was getting it out of the little bottle, but we didn't care.  We had made cheese!

Till now, when I'm doing it a slightly more grownup way, using actual pans and thermometers (not strictly necessary, I just thought I should for once do what the book said) and so on.  Great fun.

And here you see two kinds of paneer, which is an Indian cream cheese:  one on the left made with salt, processed by draining through cheesecloth, one on the right with no salt, processed by draining through a piece of linen.  Both different in texture, oddly enough, since they came from the same batch of whole milk. But both very good.




And here's a book by Claudia Lucero, with all kinds of cheese ideas, and tons of pictures and encouragement and reminders that cheese is an artform, so yours might be different, might even be better. And since this is a lightning swift kind of operation, you can't make it and take pix at once, you can see more or less what happened in the pix from her book.




However, as always, I had to improvise a bit.  The first lot didn't make a lot of curds, but I processed it anyway, and added in salt as it drained, just to make it less bland.  Then I thought, hey, there's still a lot of good stuff in this pot, it's more than just the whey, I'll reheat and rejuice it with lemon juice and see what happens.  

It was just great.  Fabulous curdling, easy to collect curds, great whey left behind.  Good thing I had a second cloth and a second strainer, since they were both straining at once, and being pressed.
The whey is now in the freezer until I use it for soup, which won't be long, because of all the pumpkin in there.

And the second batch has a much firmer texture.  So now I know that it doesn't hurt to reheat and make another batch, as long as there's milk solids still in the pot.




And it's very good to make this in time for afternoon tea, spread, one kind per piece, on homebaked bread, with a spoonful of homemade apple jam on top.  Pot of tea.  Magazine.  Feet propped up on two cats.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Further Adventures in Waging Peace and What Can Happen

I went to hike on the Preserve, in pursuit of my Waging Peace effort for November 11, and after a lovely hike, bit tired, day turned beautiful and warm, I decided to sit and admire the lake from the bench outside the Audubon building.  I noticed a gang of people on the steps, evidently a meeting or symposium or something, they have them a lot for people interested in the natural world, didn't take much notice.

Then a nice guy came over and sat with me, as I was looking through my binoculars just in case I could see anything moving, and asked what I'd seen today.  I mentioned the yellow rumped warblers on the trail, and commented that it was a bit early in the day to see much activity. Whereupon he introduced himself:  Pete Dunne. If you want to know why this was exciting, go here

So we had a nice chat and he said he'd seen me sitting in the sun on the bench and decided "there's a person who knows how to use a day like this."  And ducked out of the meeting. So we talked about the season and I indicated I'd been down to Cape May quite a bit, and he stunned me by saying, yes, I know, on the hawkwatch platform, remind me of your name again. I guess when you watch birds as much as he has, you note people, too!  wondered what my field marks were..

Then he had to return to his meeting which turned out to be the statewide Audubon staff meeting, and the reason he was there, rather than up on the Kittatinny Ridge between NJ and Pa watching hawks and the fall colors.  He's well liked and I can see why.



Then home again, and friend and artist Mike E. showed up with a couple of blades he had promised me for art, possibly weaving, purposes. These are blunt and not high enough quality for him to get them set again and sharpened, so he gave them to me for peaceful uses!  My version of beating swords into plowshares. Blades into Looms!

So  I got a couple of huge immediate rewards for my efforts today.

Waging Peace. All Together Now!

There's a certain obligation when you blog, to note significant days and not look as if you didn't notice them.  So November 11 is one of those days.  But, as on Memorial Day, I'm very careful about any kind of observance that risks glorifying war and making it look exciting and dramatic.  Anyone who has lived through one, either in or out of combat, knows better.

So this year I decided to honor the men and women who have gone through terrible hardship on behalf of us all, by waging peace.  

Starting with a hike on the Preserve, to bring back peaceful nature pix for us all, as a healing thing to do.  And by continuing to take care of the people and animals around me every day.  And, in another post, I'll tell of the adventures that happened today partly as a result of these decisions.











See the dark areas in that bank above?  those are the lairs of our native red fox.  Real foxholes.












And here is a whole universe of mosses and lichen, with its own history of coexistence and conflict and resolution.































 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Apres Halloween...the pumpkins bite the dust

What with my own pumpkin, now that the frosts have started, needing to come indoors and with next door's carved pumpkin, likewise, this morning was a madhouse of cutting and carving up and seeding and chopping and dicing and steaming and need I go on...two solid hours.


 But a huge yield of pumpkin steamed and ready to use instantly when needed.  Soup, stirfry, bread, muffins, pancakes, no end to the possibilities.




In the freezer already five bags of steamed pumpkin dice, and here's the last hurrah, heartfelt, I may say.

I think I'm getting people trained with my aversion to food waste -- neighbor said he was planning to toss their Halloween pumpkin now Halloween was past, but suddenly thought he'd ask me.  

I said, that's not trash, that's FOOD!  and he burst out laughing and said that's exactly what I thought you'd say!  I did promise to give him the seeds from my pumpkin, since he loves them toasted, and I'm not fond.

I still have winter squash to do something about but maybe not today.  Their need is not as urgent as the pumpkin. 

I saw "Dive" last evening, a documentary made by young filmmakers in LA about dumpster diving for food, largely but not only, at Trader Joe's, and it was amazing how much perfectly good food they found, still with days to go on their sell-by date, even. High end foods.  Gah!  they were sharing with family, friends and the local SA shelter.  Then a lot of the stores began to padlock their dumpsters.  I'm guessing fear of liability.  And rats.

Then the group began, having got nowhere with the top brass at a number of food corps., to deal directly with local managers, some of whom gave them a window at the end of the day in which they could take away food for any purpose they wanted -- some shelters are taking advantage of this opportunity, too -- before the food hit the dumpsters.  And they all discovered, as people in the field have long known, that salvaging and re-serving food is very heavy and demanding and timebound work.  A small version of which I did this morning.

They were not so much interested in feeding themselves, though they were happy to do that, as making a point in the hope that we can collectively do a much better job at food conservation and sharing than we've been doing up to now.  And they give ideas on what any of us can do next.

Food waste is endemic in a lot of supposedly civilized countries, very sad state of affairs, when hunger exists there, too.  Anyway, I recommend it as a sobering insight, or a confirmation of what we knew, depending on where you're coming from on this issue.

And, since Thanksgiving in the US will be here soon, I always remember that people aren't just hungry then.  It's all year round. Food banks need our help all the time.

 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Three New Friends. Cast Iron Ones 6WS

Finally, I found cast iron pans which are 1. handled long enough for me to get two hands on, so as to lift the thing, 2. small enough for all the above to apply, and wheee 3. in a set.




So here they are.  I've done the oiling and baking thing to season them, even though they claimed to be pre seasoned.  A likely story. I tried a test omelette and some of it came up, some of it stuck.  So after getting the rest of the egg off, I did the seasoning thing.

I believe you have to develop a relationship with these things.  Also to patiently get the seasoning up to par before it's really working. All this I have taken into account.  Before I ceremonially dumped my old rocky nonstick skillet that was the right size for a lot of things but didn't have much else to recommend it.

Anyone with experience of these things, especially about foods that do particularly well in them, please chime in.  In six words, would be a bonus!



 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Behind the Scenes Chez Liz, Kitchen, that Iz

First full day at home, and it's cold and rainy, so since I'm out of bread and yogurt and fully stocked with vegetables, it seemed inevitable that, between bouts of stitching, see Art the Beautiful for that update, I would make soup and bread and yogurt.






The bread is what you might call artisanal, or peasant, or something I just call it bread.  The flours are white wholewheat, homeground split pea flour and homeground oat flour.  Very sturdy!




The yogurt, which you see well, you don't, since it's in this mysterious wrapping, the aluminum coat thing, and it's held in place by the handle of my hand mixer. 

Inside there is a saucepan, lidded, with about a quart of milk, scalded, cooled, yogurt starter added, and which will sit quietly fermenting for seven hours before it's ready to fridge and leave to go cold before eating.  And I'll make another batch of yogurt cheese.  The starter was the very last of the yogurt cheese of last week.

The soup is cabbage, acorn squash and zucchini,  with basil pesto, several curry leaves, turmeric, salt, black pepper and the liquid, aside from what was already there in the vegetables, is yogurt whey, from a previous making of yogurt cheese.  It does terrific things for flavor in vegetable soups.  It's currently in the freezer.





And here is the treasure chest of frozen goods, pesto in bags on the right, soup in bowls all over the place, and in bags slipped down on the left along with spaghetti sauce and tomato paste, various spices and garlic and breadcrumbs in the door, loads of frozen vegetables ready for maintaining me over the winter.  This is after I took out several bags of vegetables for the soup!

There's another lot next door in a friend's freezer, too, but I'm too lazy to go out in the rain and organize that area in order to open it and show you.  However the state of my freezer shows you the situation which gives rise to the occasional avalanche.

Off for a healthy walk in the rain in a little while, can't stay in the house for long without needing to move a bit.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

And The Farmer Is The One Who Feeds Us All!

Final harvest home from the farmshare for 2014.  Great year of produce, with apples being the best ever.



Seen here in November afternoon light in my kitchen, winter squash, frying peppers, bell peppers, several species of apples, Asian pears, broccoli.   

Typing awkwardly, because of kitchen injury, slicing into bell peppers to make lovely rings, finger got involved there, oh.  No blood on the food, though, in case that's an issue!
 
From now till May my Tuesday afternoons will be an oasis of quiet, no frenzy of chopping, dicing, slicing, mincing, bagging, freezing, cooking.  

What on earth will I do with the time.  Yeah, it's sure to be all empty, yeah, that's right...just like taking a bowl of water from a bathtub and expecting the rest of the water to stay put..

Meanwhile, great props to the Stults family of Cranbury for their multi generational family farm, whose centenary comes up next year.  Can't wait to see what they'll do to celebrate it! 

Go here to find out more about them.