Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Busy Day at Art the Beautiful

For the latest presser on the Embroidery Stand caper, go here

And if you're in the mood for an art exhibit review, go here 

And if the weather has got you down to where you can't be bothered about either, go make a nice cup of tea and put your feet up and read Scents and Sensibility, the latest Chet and Bernie book (no, not that Bernie) by Spencer Quinn, the adventures of a detective and his detecting dog, narrated by the dog.  

That's what I'm doing next.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Signs of Spring, at last

Today was full of hopeful signs of spring, after it seemed to have retreated again into cold, windy days.

It was near the first of the month, so time for a little bunch of cut flowers.  And iris were there, tightly furled, but very promising, with chrysanthemums.  True to form, as I picked and sniffed, sniffed and picked at the store, I had to have flowers with more than one purpose.  

The iris will make a beautiful dye next time I work on silk, which will be soon.

Then on the way home, the joyful sign at the farm for asparagus, first day of the year, was up, and I swerved into the farm and started scrabbling through my purse for the cash, not carrying much.  This was an honor system, no person there, just leave your money in an open box.  So I got my first asparagus and took the celebratory bite off the raw top of one, perfect.  

That will be on the menu today. Handsome Son will be here for dinner to help eat it.  And other items, jasmine brown rice cooked with Chinese spicy sausage in it, served with mixed vegetables and chicken on it.  Cake with mango yogurt cheese.

And a sudden wildflower burst out on the patio, must look it up and see what it is.  

Something about my camera doesn't like bright orange, and will only give a blurry yellow instead, but this flower is a wonderful brilliant color.  

Then there's henbit, I think, growing everywhere particularly in the pots I had put soil in for other purposes. 

And the couple of remaining branches on my wild cherry, blooming away, full of bees when the sun comes out, and with all kinds of birds pecking at them, too.

All in all, a good spring day, even if I was back in a winter coat to enjoy it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Field and Fen Breaks out into a poem

In the kitchen, with a big bag of spanish onions, partly for dye purposes, the outer skins, that is, and the rest for the freezer, I came over with a poem.  I wrote this right then, and have sent it, in response to listener invitations, to wnyc.com in celebration of National Poetry Month.  

Long time since I committed a poem, so I thought I'd share:

Today I brought home a whole bag of onions
ready to collect the papery golden skins
for the dye bag
and the food for the freezer to preserve
as memory, again, thrusts, fresh,
the onion-worked smell of my mother's hands
at my child's eye level, cracked and broken by
a lifetime of labor, many children,
no time to dye
barely time to live

Liz Adams, in honor of Lizzie Ryder

Monday, April 25, 2016

B in B, that would be Breakfast in Bed

On account of the fact that I woke early, and refrained from jumping up and doing things, in favor of a wiser approach of a leisurely start to the day, I decided on breakfast in bed.

Now, when you live alone, this involves more than having Jeeves or a nice lady in a frilly cap coming in and opening the curtains and presenting a nice cup of tea.  

It's about getting up, going downstairs, feeding the cats, poaching the lovely freerange egg, making the toast, fixing the coffee, arranging the tray, then staggering back up with all this, cats hindering at every point.

Then comes the logistical challenge of getting into the bed with the contents of the tray intact, and then the eating part is pretty easy.  Critical readers will note that the bread is, shock, horror, bought bread!  which shows how weak I've been ran out of bread, couldn't bake more, son provided slices of whole wheat to tide me over.

Also very luxurious on a sunny day with the cherry blossom, what's left of it, blooming outside.  

And, though you can't see her, a myrtle warbler breakfasting on the blossoms out there.  I guess it's either pollen or minute insects, rather than poached egg on toast. To each her own. Chacune a son gout, no accents, bring your own. I gave the feminine form as a default..don't tell me breakfast isn't political!

 Good news about prospective tenant for next door: single middle aged lady with cat.  This sounds like someone who's unlikely to replace the former occupants' blasting home entertainment unit, yay. Well, we'll see!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Field and Fen Briefly in the Kitchen

On the mend, more or less, cautiously eating a bite, and taking really short walks to remind my legs how to work, and today  I managed a little recipe for something I've been meaning to make for ages, usual story.

These are parmesan crisps, from Ina Garten, and since I happened to have a block of parmesan, about the right amount, and the thyme is all back in leaf, that and black pepper, kosher salt, and a tablespoon of ap flour was all that was needed.  I'm still as weak as a kitten, in fact a kitten could paw wrestle me and win at this point, so I had to rest a time or two in the grating of the cheese, but we got there.

Pretty simple, and as you see, the darker baking sheet made a crisper finish than the lighter one, but still all good.  I was able to take just a crumb to taste, not up to fat food yet, and can attest that they are good.  A little snack with wine, or in my case possibly to save in the freezer for a future teatime guest.  I like to offer something savory as well as a bit of cake.  I have a feeling that you need to make quite a few of these to have enough!

So that satisfied my inner cook.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Levels of activity and how to measure your health!

This week I've been out of action with a virus, I think it was, at any rate something that had my innards in great turmoil for several days and is starting to improve to the point where I can tolerate sitting up and writing.

It occurred to me that there are levels of illness that I tend to measure thusly:

Level One, disregard it, do the whole day's activities as planned, feel tired at the end
Level Two, try to disregard it, but find a need to sit down abruptly every now and then and wait for the feeling to pass
Level Three, cancel outside commitments, able to make it to the mailbox, a 150 yard round trip for me, and maybe do a load of laundry, feed the cats, eat a bit
Level Four none of the above possible, with the exception of staggering downstairs to feed the cats. 
Level Five call in reinforcements to make me tea and feed the cats.

This week has been largely passed at Level Four then Three, and I'm hoping that I will be reacquainted with food quite soon, and get away from various medications, and claw back my usual energy.

However, none of that stops me from reading, a great way to enter a world where current ailments lose their importance.  And I've found, amazingly, that some of the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary, never heard of her before this week, not knowing anything about kidlit, have had a lovely antidotal effect. Well written, astute and with interesting characters. Great illustrations. Also short enough to read before I fall asleep again.

And I'm in the middle of Agatha Christie's autobiography, much more interesting than I expected, since she jumps about, giving interesting anecdotes rather than a long chronology of name dropping, which bios often fall into.

Then I've watched a few episodes of A Bit of Fry and Laurie, very funny, bit hard to follow if you aren't up to all the details of current UK politics.  Watching YouTube on a tablet is a bit like following an animated postage stamp, but worked fine.

I did get one thing done last evening, finished the embroidery frame I was building with pvc pipe until I had to stop for parts to arrive.  And here, to show I'm still on the planet, it is

If you want to know more about this project, and see links to the plans and so on, go here

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sunday Supper in Spring

Great day, chilly but bright sunshine, great lunch with Handsome Son, then trip to libe and found more Donna Leon detective novels, latest reading jag, great walk around park with people running jumping and standing still, kicking footballs and learning to ride tiny bikes.

Then home to Sunday supper in Spring, bowl of tomato, chickpea, red lentil soup, with hot biscuits, toasted, wholewheat with caraway seeds, spread with yogurt cheese, nice glass of Sangria.  Cheerful wine, not as heavy as a winter sort of red wine.  That's as technical as my wine talk gets.  

Piece of zucchini apple walnut bread for dessert. Lovely Vietnamese coffee.  Astute readers will note that this all bears a resemblance to the lunch menu, and you would be right up to a point.  It's selected leftovers.

So, perfetto!  reading Donna Leon, with bits of Eyetalian all over, her novels are set in Venice, you do pick up a word here and there..and a friend sent two chapters of her current novel not set in Venice, I think in Minnesota, to read,  great compliment, that, so that's next on the agenda.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

On Not Knowing Your Own Strength 6WS

This is not of those philosophical musings about endurance or dealing with the various blows of life.  It's about not realizing you're strong enough to bust a faucet handle into many parts just by trying to shut it.  See what remains on the stem? and the bits that cascaded down onto the tap?  there are probably other bits around which I haven't stepped on in bare feet yet.

All this artwork must be strengthening my upper body, dangerously so..or maybe it's mixing batches of bread and stirring big pots of soup. Or holding heavy books..

This is the same shower faucet that I went to all that trouble to fix a while back, taking two tries to get the right size handle.  Back to square one.  But I did have the forethought to save the little box the right faucet came in, with the item number on it. These items all look exactly the same, and it's only when you try to install them that you discover the stem and the socket don't match exactly, but you can't tell by looking, only by failing to get the one to seat in the other, since it's inside the deal.  And if they don't match up, you can't alter the temperature of the water.

So I have another faucet handle on order.  I can easily install it myself. And this is where it becomes a true first world problem, since I can just use my other bathroom until the new handle arrives.  

Meanwhile back at the pots of soup, today's soup is tomato, chickpea and red lentil, with a shake of fennel seeds in it, and a dash of wine sauce left over from herring a while back and frozen awaiting a use.  

Then tomorrow I'm feeding Handsome Son, aside from the soup, with hot biscuits with a dash of caraway seeds in them, crisp breaded baked fish and oven roasted french fries. Posh way of saying fish and chips.  Plum cake for dessert, yes it's still going.  It's like trying to eat a tennis court..

Friday, April 1, 2016

April Flowers, Simple Food, no fooling

White Rabbits!  April Flowers!  the first sprigs of thyme today, the warm weather having put the flavor back in them.

So here's my New Year's Resolution, the last one, which was to get a bunch of cut flowers on the first of the month, just because they're nice to have in the house.  I completely forgot it in Jan and Feb, and did manage a little bunch in mid March.  But today, I was in the, gah, ShopRite, a shop I postpone as long as possible going to,and they had some nice choices at the door.
And home to a very simple lunch, since today was a frenzy of squirrel in the walls eradication attempts, traps, neighbor up and down stairs checking, calls to HOA roofers to fix part of the corner, neighbor planning to get some mesh screening to fix over the inside of my roof fan in case that's an entry, someone swiping my parking tag from my car, different issue, the HOA requiring a raft of new paperwork to get a new parking tag, different issue again, the car dealership calling, another different issue, gah, I have to take it in next week and use a loaner, dreaded thing.  And so on.  

The car, oh yes, after much deliberation I decided I was not up for a car loan this year, and decided to swallow hard and have the expensive brake repairs done.  The car's running like a bird, a shame to turn it in when it's faithfully starting in any weather on the first touch, and generally doing a good job.  So the dealership has got the parts on order, I will take my dear old beater in next week and be without her for two or three days and a weekend. Hence the loaner. There just isn't a time on my calendar when I can be without wheels for that long a time. 

Newer cars are so much more sophisticated than my 99 Civic that when I have to drive one I feel as if I've come back from the eighteenth century, and seeing modern contraptions, what be this button for, then, prithee? mixed language but bear with me, I'm stressed.  This may account for my bah humbug attitude to April Fool jokes today, on finding that Blogger is fooling with my posts and losing them. Let's hope this one survives.

So, one thing and another, lunch was a plate of veggies from the freezer, celery, red bell peppers and watercress, with a pinch of new picked thyme, heavenly first smell of the year, and sharp cheddar grated over.  

In the course of grating it I found that I have three graters, no idea how I came by them all.  One flat, one round and small, one round and big.  I might have a grater giveaway at some point!

Take teapots, too.  I recently noticed I seem to have half a dozen of them. Now I do like my little afternoon tea with a little something to eat, but all those pots. I don't remember how they got there, since I don't collect them, on purpose, that is.  They just seem to be attracted into my orbit.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Back in the Kitchen, with the Cake as Big as a Football Field

This month the Bite Club selection is Melissa Clark, whom I've often heard on WNYC talking at such speed that I rarely get more than a word here and there.  But her books are entertaining and very conversational in tone, and today I took a shot at a recipe from Cook This Now.  This was for a figgy demerara snacking cake.

Except I don't have fresh figs, nobody does in this region right now, and I didn't have brandy, which she puts in her baking.  So I used black plums, quartered and pitted, and subbed the brandy with merlot, figuring that if she's after an alcohol touch, that should work. And I didn't have demerara sugar for sprinkling over the top, so I used ordinary granulated.

And I had to buy a new baking pan to accommodate this giant cake, which she explains is so big because you can't reduce the recipe without ruining it.  Because -- one egg! etc.

Her instructions say, after making the batter, to nestle the fruit on top all over it.  And as I was nestling away, I realized I was making a giant version of Marion Burros plum torte...oh. I make hers in August using prune plums, but other than that, not a lot of difference.

Except that I actually like this one better, grainy with wholewheat flour, and at 18 x 13, enough cake for the foreseeable future, which suits me fine, needing a little something when I'm home in the afternoon for tea.  I did feel as if I were cooking for a summer camp, though. But I'm glad to have the new baking pan, since my old ones are not quite up to the task after decades of use.

I'm listening to The Big Short, about the financial prime mortgage collapse and what led up to it, very good stuff to bake by, even if I did get a bit lost in the financial technicalities, but since I remember it all coming down, it in fact worked fine for me, explaining a lot of what was mysterious when it was in the news. 

And when you're hearing about the blind greed verging on lunacy that brought about the housing finance collapse, it's good to be grounded and baking and generally doing something sane and part of civilized life, and with a desirable result.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter Sunday if you celebrate it. Happy Sunday if you don't!

Since the Dollivers had their big outing last week to the artist event, a mini revolt took place back on the bookcase.  Frilly Bear whined that she's never had a starring role, Greensleeves said she hadn't had enough pix, and Victorian Doll just looked hurt and put upon, despite her lovingly handknit outfit.

So they got to be the Stewards of the Eggs this year, and wish you all a happy Easter and a good Spring.  

This year's eggs are the bronze, gold and turquoise ones, yet to be distributed.  And you see the tiny painted eggs in the miniature teacup? from my long ago cockatiel Emily Hope.  And various other kitty and eggy items all with histories, sitting in an antique New Jersey spongeware dish. And you can see the White Rabbit, back to the camera, issuing instructions for his forthcoming role when the month turns again.  I wonder if he's hiring Frilly Bear for the heavy lifting?

They also took care of the miniature chocolate bunnies, which won't last long today.

Now it's off to the kitchen to finish the Easter lunch menu, part of which Handsome Son will supply, such as hors d'oeuvres and dessert.  Chocolate will feature in the latter, I expect.

Main event is ham with pineapple and with cherry sauce and mustard, scalloped potatoes, mixed vegetables.  Nice bottle of Prosecco brut. And I have to find the tablecloths and napkins and cheese board and knife, and various other festive items.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Dollivers Report on Their Residency this Afternoon

My dears, we are EXHAUSTED.  Such a long afternoon, so many admirers, we can't tell you.  It was Week Four of the Artist in Residence series at the library, Boud's series on the textile arts.  And of course we were the stars. We were dressed in knitted outfits, Boud needing to show them to the people who came to see us.  

And we brought along a lot of our knitted wardrobe, see it there next to our traveling hatbox, so people wouldn't think we were one-outfit yarn people.  We were introduced to our admirers, by name, and they were suitably impressed, we think.

We brought the Dolliver Kennels dogs, too, and it's too bad we don't do autographs, because we could have been signing and signing...

Boud of course, was messing about doing unrelated things like spinning to show people, and showing knitted art and crocheted art, and talking about the history of textiles and the physics of spinning, and who knows what else.  But we must say that our traveling hatbox made a great viewing area for us to observe the passing crowds.  We think it should have been nearer the front, but if you want a thing done right, do it yourself, and we let Boud set this up.

A couple of people decided they should check this blog to see our adventures, what Boud calls, rudely, exploits.  And we did observe library etiquette and omit Elton and the musical accompaniment, though we did think it wouldn't have hurt to have a bit of Ruffles and Flourishes when we arrived.  Considering we were the Main Event of the Day.

Nice glass of wine now, we think.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Dollivers Plan a Big Day Out

The Dollivers are coming along to the Artist in Residence afternoon tomorrow -- local people please do come! 2-4 at Plainsboro Libe.   The subject is yarn arts this week, and a friend, thank you Margaret, pointed out that they are actually yarn artworks.  I forget they are knitted by me, tend to think of them in character all the time.  So anyway, they're coming and bringing the Dolliver Kennels with them.

Along with actual artworks, that is, which will be exhibited in June.  Right now, this is how the gear for tomorrow looks:

Stay tuned for more pix tomorrow once they get out of the box, the hatbox, that is, and strut their stuff.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Demise of the wild cherry friend, partly

You know the wild cherry I've been looking out for and thanking for many years, food for birds and squirrels, shelter for them and shade for humans on the patio?  It grows on both sides of the fence, having been planted by birds long ago, and has flourished, only needing to be trimmed back a little off the roof now and then.

The next door neighbors, on whose patio the other half of the tree grew quite happily, moved out several months ago, leaving the place empty while they look for a tenant.

Then a few days ago, I woke to the sound of a chainsaw.  And ran to the window, in time to see the other half of our beautiful tree falling down, cut up and thrown into the trees out back.  Neighbor came to the door to explain they couldn't be bothered to trim it, and what if it fell on a tenant and they sued, and so they had decided, without consulting anyone affected, to chop it down.

So here's the sky where masses of foliage used to be.

 And here's the new blossom from my cherry bushes, on my side of the fence  planted years ago, coming through faithfully for me.

And here's the sad little stump, remains of the wild cherry  next door.And the blossoms from my bushes showing through the fence.

It all seems even more poignant since the Brussels attacks yesterday, and a lesson that life has to go on, even after ugly and stupid actions seem to say the opposite.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

DIY and spinning

I seem to have written a blogpost that belongs in both blogs, so I'm putting a link in Beautiful Metaphor to bring people over here, so as not to miss this enthralling adventure. 

 Today's DIY was the result of resuming spindle spinning again, with a view to including it in the Artist in Residence series I'm presenting at the local libe, on textile arts.

I had to review how to spin, first, then how to set the twist, which I did by hanking the yarn over thumb and shoulder, the old fashioned way, then removing it from my arm, and fastening it in sections, while  attempting to stop it from tangling in itself before I got it soaked.  

I was out of practice, owing to not being able to do this for a while, on account of the arm and shoulder issues.  But now I can do it for a while anyway.  Here's the second try at spinning, a bit more fluid movement now, it's getting there

And here's the first sample of yarn, hanging to dry on a doorknob. Note the weight I'm using, handiest thing at the time, and the string fastening the yarn securely so it doesn't get away

 I had dyed this merino roving partially with Koolaid ages ago, to give a kind of stripey effect.

The better solution, I realized, and here's where Field and Fen comes into its own,was to use a niddynoddy, which is a thing you string the yarn on, among other purposes, in order to soak it to set the twist.  The nn holds the yarn steady, then you slip it off to dry it using a weight to hold it as it hangs from whatever you put it on.

But I didn't have a niddynoddy.  So I checked out a few sources for a diy for a cheap nn, and came up with this:

Parts and tools

One piece of half inch pvc piping, four end caps, two t joins.  Total cost a little over $5, and a few minutes sawing with a little handsaw.  See shopping list and bill. Happy to give a shout out to my local Ace hardware store

Since the pvc piping comes in ten foot lengths, too long to transport legally in my car, the man obligingly made the first cut for me -- the whole nn only uses 40 inches of half inch pipe.  So I only had three more cut to make at home to complete the deal, no tools other than a saw needed and another leftover 80 inch length in my storage place for future use


It's adjustable, so it can be turned at right angles for hanking, as shown here, or made flat for soaking.  The end caps can come off, and let the yarn slide off when ready.

Very good stuff, all in all.  About an hour's work, including the trip to the hardware store and an interesting discussion with the man there about why you can't use pvc for plumbing in high rise buildings.  It's the pressure.  When I explained that wouldn't be my plan, my pressures being different ones, he allowed as how I was getting the right stuff for my purposes.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Faux finishing, now it's furniture

After painting some frames, described over here
I was musing about  doing a similar faux finish on a scraped bedside table.  This was a nicely finished piece, which, in the course of furniture moving done for me by eager, generous and inexperienced friends while I was in the hospital undergoing sudden large surgery, was gouged by a lousy piece of metal stuff.  Really ruined its complexion.

Not that I was in a mad rush to fix it, the move having happened two moves, and about twenty years, ago.  Anyway, this morning about ten o'clock I decided to just do it, selected a bronze acrylic liquid paint, a saucer and a sponge brush. Removed the items from the table, arousing great suspicion in the cats.  What is she DOING with our table that we run about on at night when she's asleep?

They decided to continue their investigations under cover, as you see here. The mountain ranges are the spies getting into position.

And by ten twenty (old joke about that, which I won't repeat here), here's the finished top.  

You might call this a teabreak DIY, since that's about how long it took.  And as usual it cost zero, really, the studio supplying the materials, and it took about two teaspoonsful of paint.  The effect is of a metal top on a wooden table. Nice.

Upcycling rules!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Dollivers serve lunch, Pi Day preview 6WS

Although the Dollivers declined to get into chefs' whites, and hung on to their posh red dresses, they declared they are tired of not getting the credit for these exciting weekly lunch events, and thought it was time to sit down and take a stand.

The spatula is the badge of office
So here they are presenting today's menu:  clam chowder, zucchini baked fritters, roast pork sausage, followed by the Pi Day preview: a mixed berry and apple crumble.  The food seen here before baking, since after baking, too much eating going on to take pix in time.

Pi Day, 3.14, coming on Monday, they thought to get ahead of things and present the crumble, nearest thing to a pie that happens around here, before the clocks change and confuse everyone.  

It was a pretty good crumble, too, the fruit macerated and the juice reduced and added back in.  The topping is a mix of oatmeal and whole wheat flour. The berries colored the apples a deep and lovely red, and as you see, the cook took the privilege of sampling it ahead of time.

And of announcing that there are enough zucchini fritters now in the freezer to bring out for several days, along with the last of the chutney.  The sausages are a rare viewing, but they were pretty good.  I rarely eat anything as processed as that, but everything in moderation, including moderation.

And soon we'll reach the last of the zucchini.  This usually happens -- still using last year's farmshare when the markets open up again in May. Still bell peppers and green beans to go through.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Spring on the Marsh

Today I had to put in a bit of time waiting for the chimney sweep, so I made the most of the afternoon, stitched up the final part of an artwork, then after the sweep had been and gone, walked out in a different area, behind the condo, which is not where I live.

See the milkweed in the foreground, monarch butterfly food. They're having a resurgence this year so we may see more than the one or two monarchs we had around last year.

Beautiful warm early spring day, though we're all gloomily remembering Aprils when we had blizzards, but still, hearing the redwing blackbirds shouting in the phragmites grass, and the other songbirds zooming around, was enough to take your mind off winter.  The water is very high from recent rains, and there were quite a few ducks as well as the all too present Canada geese.

I kept a respectful distance -- nesting season, and they take no prisoners if they're setting up house.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Family lunch, good food, good company 6WS

Today we had a great menu and a great chat, good time.

Here's the evening before's makings of the chicken:  four thighs, skinned and boned, and pounded flat in a plastic bag, I love hitting stuff, and in the background the parmesan cheese, egg, and cooked chestnut, foreground the mushrooms with onion and garlic. The rest of the cooking happened this morning.All the stuffing ingredients mixed thoroughly, then the thighs rolled up over a spoonful or two, and the rest spooned over the chicken to roast.

So today the menu for lunch was tendli and broccoli soup, with wholewheat toast, then chicken thighs stuffed with mushrooms, fresh grated parmesan cheese and the last of the chestnuts, yay, with roasted sweet and white potatoes cut into fries.  Nice glass of red wine and homemade lemonade. Ketchup and homemade date and tamarind chutney.

 Here's the cast of characters before the chicken and vegetables were roasted. Soup is thawing, and the stuffed figs just sitting.
The roasted vegs were tossed in olive oil with black mustard seeds, sea salt, fresh ground black pepper, and a pinch of that spice mix from Ottolenghi whose name always escapes me.  Stove at 400F, potatoes in for about 40 minutes, chicken in for about 30.

Lunch is served, or will be as soon as it's carried through


Lunch table ready for onslaught.  Soup's done, main course about to happen.

Dessert was twofold, figs stuffed with yogurt cheese (lot of stuffing happening this week) and homebaked shortbread donated by Handsome Son, himself a pretty good baker and cook. Fresh figs are a very short season, in September, so I buy the dried kind and steep them in boiling water for a while, to make them juicy and edible.

The bonus is that I have a couple meals leftover to use for myself in the next few days. 

Yogurt cheese is great to use where you might use cream cheese, and more interesting to my taste.  You just strain plain yogurt through cheese cloth or a linen napkin, in a strainer set on a bowl, and what remains in the cheesecloth after it's been in the fridge overnight, is the cheese, which you roll off the fabric and into a container.  The whey caught in the bowl underneath, is good to use in soup, very tangy.

The roasted vegs were tossed in olive oil with black mustard seeds, sea salt, fresh ground black pepper, and a pinch of that spice mix from Ottolenghi whose name always escapes me. 

These rather elaborate meals have become great fun for me, and a good getting together time for our family of two, both cooks.  When the farm markets open, we'll have to move the time and day to let me shop.  But for the moment, it seems to be working well.

I like very much the challenge of coming up with a new three course menu every week, bearing in mind what we both like (except that Handsome Son loves meat, and I don't).  

It might have been a good idea to write the menus down, but I never bothered with it, seems a bit formal, like taking notes in the art studio, I don't do that either. 

One tip I gave myself yesterday, when it came upon me like a blinding flash: my freezer is made of metal.  This means I can attach notes to the lid with a magnet.  This means that the current recipe can be attached, and the list of what's on the menu with it. No idea why I never thought of this before, but some of us are a bit slow on the uptake. But it beats scrambling about in search of the bit of paper I made the notes on that the cat played with.

The other food related event I enjoy is to have a friend come to tea, every few weeks, let's not get carried away here.  Then I can bake a little something, but the main event is the talking. Very low key, just a nice cup of tea between friends. Tricky when she, it's usually she, can't do caffeine or gluten, since afternoon tea consists pretty much of that, but we can deal if we have to. And it seems to be well received. As long as the guest can deal with cats.  They're nice cats, but allergies don't respect that.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Tendli soup makings and art gets involved, surprise.

I am getting down to the end of last year's vegetables from the farmshare, yay.  And today I made  soup from tendli, which is not from the farm, it's an Indian vegetable, given by my friend the great Indian cook.  She usually gives me little dishes of this, highly spiced, as a side dish.  

Once I had got the hang of the name (there are several depending on what part of India the speaker is from, and the spelling varies wildly since it's just transliterated into English).  The English name is ivy gourd, which does not sound like food.  It's a tiny little cucumberish sort of vegetable, tastes a little like cucumber, and you top and tail and slice it to get working on it.

She gave me a bag of fresh tendli, since I was interested in trying my hand at cooking it, and today I embarked on it.  I wanted a nice green spring-like soup, and the raw tendli with the remains of the broccoli and a handful of watercress, the two latter from the freezer from last year, seemed a good idea.  

Onion skins in the foreground, dish of spicy tendli with raw behind there and onions

I added in the dish of her highly spiced cooked tendli, seen above, as part of the seasoning.  About a tablespoonful of diced fresh ginger (well, from the freezer, I prep and freeze), and another of lemon zest.  Started with an onion and garlic in olive oil, and toasted some cumin seeds in there, too, with curry leaves, coarse salt and black pepper.  And, in case she wants to sample it, I used water rather than chicken stock, she being a religious vegetarian.  She knows she can trust that I will not slip in anything she doesn't know about.

It came out well, but a little too peppery for my taste.  I like spicy, but it has to have flavor under it, too.  So I added in a big blurt of lemon juice, and then thickened  with a shake or two of potato flakes. Between them they tamed the heat and gave a bit more texture.  Might serve this with some plain yogurt dropped on top, too.

And the art got in there since I had a new bag of  Spanish onions, and kept the outer skins for natural dyeing.  It makes a lovely yellow, soft color, and soon I'll be dyeing again.  The rest of the onions, cut once across the equator, went into the freezer.  

I was reminded to keep the skins when I dived into the freezer to get the broccoli and realized I was getting down to the layer of dye containers I put up last summer.  All labeled in case anxious readers wonder if I might end up cooking with them.  Most of them are safe anyway, but it would be a waste to eat them after all the trouble I took!

Monday, February 29, 2016

Sadie Hawkins Day and the Dollivers Decide to Do It. Propose, that is.

The Dollivers of course were very upset about not being included in yesterday's field trip to visit with famous dolls, but I explained that they are Working Dolls, character actors in this blog, not toy dolls, and this pacified them slightly.  

They signed up for dollmatch.com in time for Sadie Hawkins day today, so that they can pick the boy dolls of their dreams and propose to them.  Then came the decisions on the profile shots to use.

Mailing in their votes, suffragette outfits, politically conscious

Good home cook making old fashioned shortbread

We clean up good, too
And we do like a nice car

Call me Michelle's glamor shot

Blondie Firstborn looking inviting

But we know how to make soap, too, not just a pretty face

Even dressed in our best we don't forget our pets

Should I break it to them that they will have to move in with the boy dolls and away from here, and where will their next outfits come from then? boy dolls not being famous as earners. No, some things are better discovered for yourself.  They probably assume they will import the boy dolls for me to attend to.

Elton wondered if this was a suitable event for his participation, but after they assured him they were in search of boy dolls, not boy dogs, he sat down at the piano and rendered an energetic Danny Boy, then a stylized Mendelssohn Wedding March, not too obvious.  He also wondered if there's a March Madness song, but couldn't call it to mind.