Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Dollivers Get in a Jam

Tomato and lemon jam, to be exact.  Call Me Michelle and Bette Davis stood on their diva rights and refused to join the kitchen squad.

But Blondie Firstborn, NameMe and Dreads, kitted up in their kitchen whites, set to to make this year's tomato and lemon jam.
The recipe, which I've changed many times since I first used it, an Amish one which doesn't mind tweaking, is for six half pints of jam, but I make three whole pints, why not.


Then with the able assistance of Dollivers, stationed at various point, we sterilized all my  Mason jars, three, that is, 

zested the lemon using my handy zester, out on its maiden voyage, and very good it is, then sliced the remaining lemon. The recipe says to just slice, but I find the outer skin goes tough in the jam, so this will be better.

Then simmered the tomatoes in the huge pot I use about once a year, add in a packet of liquid pectin, and the lemon, zest, slices, everything, 

and boil it a bit before adding in the sugar and getting it to an unboildownable boil.

At this point I remember each year why it's important to have a huge pot, doesn't bear thinking what would happen if it didn't have room to boil out of all control like this.

And we have three lovely jars of jam, setting up nicely.  And three Dollivers proudly showing their kitchen expertise before leaving me to deal with a mountain of dishes.. they complaining also about being tired, though.

The cook's privilege is to eat the last little bit out of the pan, and wow was it good. Very tangy, more interesting than fruit jams, great for breakfast.  But now I have to make hot biscuits to go with.

Every Kitchen Needs a Secret Weapon

And this is mine:

It's very spicy and hot, and I shake it over otherwise mild food. I just had a bunch of it sprinkled at the last minute over a potato and tomato salad, farm veggies, very good in themselves but after a bit you need something more lively going on.  Pink salt, freshground black pepper, puffick.

I'm given items like this continually by Indian generous friends who love that I love spicy!  they don't need to mild up foods before offering them to me. 

A couple of days ago, my friend from across the street came running over with fresh cooked food for supper: Indian street food! except made by her at home.  This is the sort of food you'd buy from a food vendor in the Indian street, and she makes lunches for her husband's colleagues, in Manhattan, now and then, since they all have the same dietary restrictions, very strictly vegetarian.

These were two sandwiches, split buns stuffed with potato and chickpea and various other very hot and spicy stuff.  She said ketchup would go well, and she was right.  Glass of red wine, probably not on her diet, also went well.  I had eaten them rapidly before thinking hm, shoulda made a pic of this.  

She also keeps me supplied with fresh curry leaves, which I use in all sorts of things where a lovely deep savory flavor is good. Not hot, though, despite what you might think from the name.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Veggies veggies all around, ways to cook them abound

Contemplating large amounts of shredded zucchini and chopped green beans and onions in the freezer,  after an avalanche of frozen items fell on me, I thought, self, you had better use some of this up.  The farmshare season is in full swing, tons of fresh vegetables falling on me every week, and I eat fresh, share round several friends, and still have plenty to freeze.

Sooooo, I thought, what about Diane's  crustless spinach quiche? Daunted only for a moment by not having a lot of eggs and no spinach, I figured, fewer eggs is okay.  

And I made a nice sort of quiche using caramelized onions and garlic, except for the garlic segment that flew across the kitchen and vanished as I was smashing them with my knife blade, Pepin style, this never happens to him, unless they edit that bit out..where was I?  oh right, big cup of shredded zucchini and cut green beans, plenty of shredded cheddar, three eggs, seasoned with kosher salt, dry mustard, cumin, buttered pie plate, 350 degree oven for 30 minutes, and here's a nice dish. The seasonings are not very evident, but just make it interesting to eat.

Several lunches here.  And since corn is a staple of my farmshare, next one will perhaps be a corn quiche.  I might experiment with freezing it, just to see if it works out.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Paneer, Pinterest and Perseverance

Locked in battle yesterday over attempting to work with Pinterest.  Very Alice in Wonderland designs there, where you have to do something before you can find out how to do it...I rest my case.  But I did manage to get in, activate my membership, stop unwanted general Pinterest emails, and generally get in gear.

One thing that surprised me, once I was under way, was the people have been merrily pinning from this blog without a by your leave.  Please don't do that, folks!  at least ask.  One good thing, though, the pins I found were all attributed to this blog, the least you can do when you pin.

Anyway, back from high tech, during which I burned a pot because I forgot about it while pursuing Pinterest, and had an avalanche in the freezer shortly after, resulting in frozen stuff in smithereens, hard to tell the containers from the contents, where was I, oh yes.

I had heard my neighbor talk about paneer, so I thought I'd look it up and try it, and, get this, pin the recipe to my board, legally, since it's a big site with Pinterest enabled right on the site. 

And I did make paneer, Indian cheese, very interesting, milder than yogurt cheese, but fun to make.  My Indian friend dropped in during the afternoon and I showed her my results, which she correctly identified as paneer and told me all kinds of interesting stuff to do about it.  So I felt so proud that it had an official seal of approval, or recognition, at least.  

If you go here

you'll find my boards, including on the right my one and only pin to my recipe board. And a huge parade of Dollivers who feel it's high time they were on a world stage.  And the beginnings of uploading artwork, much more to come. Feel free to sign up and follow!  okay, if you don't like to.

And if you look below, you'll see my version of the paneer, not quite as skilled, but certainly very edible, and currently forming part of a nice supper, with fresh farm corn, raw, and tomato.

Nice glass of red wine, too. I shall endeavor not to knock this one all over the place this time.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Blog I think you'll love

Well, I do!  wonderful spirited lady, retired truck driver, now textile artist, rambler, animal rescuer, living large on a small income:


I'm a follower.  And she's a frequent blogger, not one of those who go walkabout for a few weeks!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

A hike on the Preserve turns into a Moth Hunt!

I was on my way out to walk on the Preserve when a neighbor called me over to identify a shrub or tree or something behind her house, not planted by our landscapers, since we have a lot of rogue trees planted by birds, with thousands of bright red fruit, many of them on the ground.  I thought maybe a species of cherry, maybe chokecherry, who knew, though the trunk was not the lenticulated type that cherry usually is, more rough and sort of hairy.  

We were both puzzled that not a single fruit was eaten by birds or our rapacious hordes of squirrels. All the fruit on my own wild cherry is polished off in short order in early June by said critters.

So I took a sample twig with fruit to the Preserve, and consulted the naturalists there, who first wondered if it was chokecherry (!) then did a massive computer search yielding not much in the way of answers.  The only fruit I could come up with that is so astringent it's almost inedible is a kind of wild plum, but I don't know if this is one.  I left them them sample twig in case anyone else came by and identified it better.

Anyway, they asked me to email them pix of the whole tree and they'd refer it to other people more expert - they were the insect guys, I think, since I found one of them later out with a giant net and container.  I also thought I might have experts reading this here blog, so here are pix for you, too. Click to see better.

The naturalist who was trying to help, along with his colleague,  was in search of dragonflies, of which we have many species, to show for a walk later in the afternoon before releasing them.  

And while we chatted about dragonflies and other insects he mentioned that there were luna moths on the deck at the building.  After a wonderful walk, peaceful, quiet, through the woods, me and various birds, I went back and found myself swept up in a Moth Hunt by a mother and daughter, young teen being evidently an encyclopedic knowledge bank on moths.  

She rapidly showed me and named any number of them, including a few luna moths.  My first sighting of them, very exciting!  as well as various other ones, including a herald moth (which she obligingly spelled for me, heh), tiger, rosy maple, this one came out a pink and cream blur, so I didn't add it in here,  she seemed to know the lot.  

Her mom took pix as they hunted and Christina, the daughter identified.  Very impressive youngster.  Her mom said this wall, facing trees and lake, was a great resting place for moths, always worth a visit.

So here are my attempts at pix of most of the above, some of the moths being tiny and some being high up, but I did my best for you. 

Two luna moths, my first ever sighting.

 Front and back of possibly a herald, if you know better, please tell us.

 Tiger maybe?

Then home, ready for cakes and ale. 


To be exact, black forest cake made for Handsome Son's birthday dinner yesterday, he left me some, and ginger ale.  And a mystery book all loaded on the Kindle ready for me to officially read, and actually doze with it resting on my chest.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Late Summer walk by the pond

This has been a wonderful summer, enough rain, plenty of lovely days very few in the high 90s or over, and today is bright shade, in the 80sF, great walking weather.  

So I fitted in a nice stroll by the pond.  Pity you don't have the sound effects of cardinals (birds, that is), catbirds, warblers, barnswallows, frogs shouting and splashing, wind shaking the willow branches.

But here's a virtual walk.  I park the car, cross to the park, then down the walking path, then across the bridge, then  to the end and back, along the water, probably a couple of miles, easy walking in that it's flat, but nice since once across the bridge,  it's earth and grass, not paved.

Here's a Chinese fisherman, who knows there are great fish in these waters, and that the cormorants don't fish as fiercely here as in our other waterways, where they're a great competition for the angler. I saw this man earlier, putting along down the walking path on his ancient bicycle, crate attached to the back as a carrier, rods balanced fore and aft, and here he's getting into the best position to surprise fish in the shallows. 
Here are a few pix of pond flora: cardinal flower, which also sometimes shows up at my house near the downspout, opportunistic grower, then mallows facing the water.  Then across the water at the foot of someone's garden, pink flowers I can't identify, but if you can, please tell.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Idyllic Summer's Evening Supper

Farmshare day, and this evening's supper was a lovely ear of corn picked this morning, two minutes in the microwave, sliced tomato,  first of the season from the farm, today's picking, with pink salt and fresh ground black pepper, cubes of sharp cheddar.  Nice glass of red wine. 

Dessert loganberries, today's pick, and yogurt cheese, done at home.  Sprinkle of brown sugar over.  Puffick!  for a few moments.  

Right after the dessert picture, I leaned over to put the dinner plate on the pass through, and managed to spill the entire glass of wine over my dress, the lovely Greek embroidered napkin, the placemat, the chair cushion and acres of floor. Amazing how far it went, really.  And since the glass was almost full, I can't blame the wine on it. Just me looking through the wrong part of my glasses.

So rather than sitting happily digesting, I found myself ripping off my clothes and the cushion, placemat, napkin, and doing a rapid stain treatment. They're now, except for the cushion, soaking overnight till I feel like addressing them again.  Sigh. I will never have a future in food design.

Nonetheless it was a wonderful supper, almost all from the farm.  A favorite thing to do.  I did put up in the freezer other items, and there's a quartered melon in the fridge, too.  And I delivered a couple of veggies to my friend across the street to get when she comes home.

I will now attempt to have the glass of wine.   Maybe I should break out a raincoat ahead of time. Meanwhile you do know how to make yogurt cheese, no? 

I do it all the time: turn out your yogurt, mine's nonfat plain by choice, to drain in a cheesecloth lined sieve, over a bowl, don't waste the whey, you can drink it.  After a few hours you have the cheese, which works like sour cream or cream cheese. I put that in a lidded container, and  I use it over baked potatoes, fruit, tomato salad, cucumbers, all kinds of things.  

My Indian friends approve of this, and tell me the Hindi name for it, likewise an Egyptian friend who told me the Egyptian name for it, both of which escape me.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Painting Continues

The Rubicon is now in the rearview mirror, and  I'm done for the day.  I did almost all I hoped to do, and the next phase is organizing the stuff away from the window wall.  This involves taking down curtains and swaggy thing, and moving a lot of glass items and maybe reconsidering where to put things after the painting is done.

The picture is about half of what I did.  Finished the fireplace wall and the first of the other recessed walls.

Today I did all the edges around the ceiling and where walls meet, and the baseboards before getting to the fun part of using the roller. And I used two trays of paint, just got to the end of the second as I ran out of wall.   The most strenuous part is the edging along the ceiling, involving climbing up and down and moving the steps bit by bit.  I'm feeling my lost height now.  I used to be able to reach further.  But it still looks okay considering.

I realize you can't tell any difference from yesterday before I painted, but take my word, it's nice!  where there was now dingy formerly soft white, there's soft yellow which contrasts well with the stronger yellow on the next wall.  So I put a different artwork up to see if it worked there, and I think it does.  It's a stitched piece.

I think I'll easily be able to get all this done, so that the new paint meets the first wall I painted, completing the room, well before I need to bring the plants in again from the patio, since that's my deadline.  Most of them go against this very wall for the winter, impossible to work around them without moving all of them again.

So this is nice, and I was visited by a neighbor who had her house repainted recently, after a disastrous flood, and wanted to show me after she'd finished admiring rather mutedly my pale yellow wall. Not her taste, she's more of a strong color person.  So I went over and admired her walls, too!  We're both happy with our choices.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Alia jacta est. The Die is Cast!

A grandiose way of saying I'm making sure I finally get painting that living room wall on the fireplace side tomorrow by setting it all up this evening. I'm pretty sure when Caesar said that originally he was probably about to divide Gaul into three parts or invade England or something, actually I think it was about crossing the Rubicon, but oh well, to each his own scenario.

 I finally managed to get out and shop for paint, another pale yellow, this will make four different yellows in the living room, so it doesn't look like the inside of a box or something, I hate rooms all one color.  And I love the way it looks interesting without looking obvious.

 Marigold is clearly very suspicious of all this activity late in the evening.

Where was I? oh yes, and I lined the paint tray with a plastic bag -- you do know this tip, no?  where you line the tray, pour the paint on top of the bag, which takes the shape of the tray, paint away, when it's finished or you are whichever happens first, you invert the bag, tie it off to toss it, tray perfectly clean as before. Saves a ton of cleanup. And I use cheap roller sleeves, and toss them after at most two painting sessions.

I also hauled the furniture out of the recess, the tv on top of an oak cabinet, ow, heavy.  And put down the dropcloths.  And moved the cats' drinking dish, to their annoyance. And put out the paint can and stirrer, inserted the roller into its sleeve, found the painters' tape which I may or may not use, having a steady hand and an aluminum guide.

And took down the artworks, impressed that my cleaners had not allowed a dust buildup there.  And dusted the whole area with my handy electrostatic long handled duster, in fact it was pretty clean, my cleaners are good.

And now I'm off to find the screwdriver which I'll use to get the lid off the paint can tomorrow, the hardest part psychologically of the whole exercise. I already located my Crummy Painting Clothes, having improved from the days when I'd paint in whatever I was wearing, sometimes an unwise procedure.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Field and Fen actually does something related to fields and fens

Well, to the outdoors, anyway, involving a couple of experiments. A neighbor wanted a purple sage like the one I have out front, a very reliable garden denizen, fades totally over the winter, no sign of her, comes roaring back in spring, blooms for ages with lovely sage-smelling foliage and flowers.

So I thought, well, since most of my gardening disregards rules, why not take cuttings right this minute,  never mind if it's the wrong time, and try some in a pot out of doors near the parent plant, and some in pots indoors in a more sheltered environment.  So we'll see.

Then I thought it would be nice to take cuttings off the snake plant which is living with me over the summer to recuperate from apartment living the previous year. 

So I did that and you see them, too.  Possibly I'll have to move both the outdoor pots to a less sunny place for the moment, but that's another decision.

So, as I say, we'll see.  While I was at this, one neighbor snook some sad little aloes into my kitchen for intensive care, and I added them into the pot with my own to see if that would cheer them up, and another (neighbor, not aloe), asked me to take a look at various plants and trees on her patio and discuss their future care.  Fun.

Now I'm sure those blogistas with acres and crops and barns and animals will be looking with great indulgence on these tiny antics, but that's okay, too.  My two  inches of ivory, says she grandly.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Late July on the patio, with summer visitors

This afternoon's pix of the resident flowers, sunflower type on left, blanketflowers on right, couple of gift marigolds under there, with a visiting caladium in the background. This is what you see when you open the back gate.  And honesty compels me to admit it's the best bit.

 and a whole bunch of campers, here for the summer from next door.  For some of them it's intensive care, for others just r and r. In among them are my own houseplants. Out of the pic on the left is my ficus, growing away, and I think it will touch the ceiling when it comes back into the house.

 I like having the house emptied a bit for the summer.  I bet my housecleaners do, too.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Ulysses still at sea

Just giving notice that I'm halfway through reading Ulysses, and Bloom's beginning to drag.  So I may retire it until next Bloomsday and read the second half then. That's the plan for June 16, 2015 to July 14, 2015.  Bastille Day is my independence from continuing for this year. I have spoke.  Vive la liberte!

The great part about owning it on a Kindle is that wherever I stopped is where it will open to next time, no paging back and forth and wondering, and cursing the cats for pinching my bookmark.

Artists Party On

Yesterday was the party for the local artists' association, to celebrate ourselves and the exhibit we all took part in.  Just a few quickpix to show you some of our friends in action, in typical poses, as they discuss their own and each others' work, which you see in the background.

 The son of one of the artists, an accomplished musician, played background, and you see him, between sets, chatting with a fan! 

since the theme of the exhibit, and the summer program, was It's All Greek to Me, the raffle drawing, a random drawing to award some small $$ to artists in the show, employed a Greek urn. And each winner drew the next ticket.  

One of the artists is also an accomplished gardener, who brought herb samples with Greek associations, and gave them to any comer.

Great fun, generosity all round.  Very well run by gallery manager Donna, who got a warm round of applause from appreciative artists.  Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon in summer.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

In the running for Good Housekeeping Badge of Merit

In the course of what started out a quiet then reached a crescendo morning, I started out baking.   Feeling a bit lonely and alone and rather than get all down, would make a batch of hot biscuits with walnuts, since I was, aside from lonely, out of bread.

Then since I was already in gear and in apron, went out to clip herbs, long overdue for use in pesto making, and cut some of every herb I grow.  On the way back in the screen door fell on me, twice, and I replaced it, getting it to stay after a while.

Back indoors, used the pizza wheel to chop the herbs, kitchen smelling lovely by now, and in the middle of this, a whole bunch of kids burst in, led by my friend whom they're visiting, family from India, to play with my cats.  

Missing their own cats at home, they urgently need this!  so Duncan found himself in the middle of a press conference, three cameras going at him at once, posing with various new friends, having a wonderful time with all the attention. I brought Marigold down from her hiding place to see them, and she allowed them to look, nothing more.

After they left, the chopping resumed, and the putting into containers for the freezer until I'm ready to make pesto, and the labeling and the putting away, which entailed emptying and reorganizing the freezer.  Here they are, posing with the batch of biscuits, minus the ones I had at lunch.

And the mail arrived bringing the spring tension rod I'd ordered in order to shirr two scarves onto it and use at the top of the kitchen window to block the afternoon sun from shining through the tabtops right into my eyes, via the passthrough, in the next room. 

This entailed searching the whole room, including an open drawer, for the nut that leaped out of the packaging and vanished.  Successful outcome, you see topper in place.

So now I'm putting in for my Gardening, Baking, Preserving, Handyperson, Interior Design  and Hostess badges from the Good Housekeeping people. 

Particularly requesting extra credit for having done all these in one morning.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

White Rabbits, July's Here, Hats Rule

The Dolliver hats are done, to their satisfaction, Call Me Michelle having seized on the preppy pink and green, and the others picked their faves.

So here they are, set up on their chaise, dressed for summer,cool drink at the ready, Elton serenading them into a summer of doing nothing or even less.


He rendered a few Good Old Summertime tunes, warming up for Friday's Fourth concert, Summertime played with great eloquence, Take me Out to the Ballpark (hat day, you know) and various noises he assured me were Beach Boy hits. Okay.  And he did fit in a  couple of choruses of O Canada in honor of dolls across the longest unguarded border celebrating their homeland

Nobody to tell the bears, now up to 21 strong about this hat deal. Some of them already have hats, but the others haven't grasped this yet, still getting used to their new surroundings.