Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving Leftovers and Postmortem

So the day was lovely, went well, remembered to serve all the food for once, having taken the precaution of putting all the items on a previously emptied shelf in the fridge, weather was nice enough for a walk between courses.

And here are most of the leftovers, not many this year, today's lunch.  

Shared with Handsome Son, who left me some pumpkin pie and cheese and crackers and took home a meal's worth of turkey and cranberry jelly but passed on the vegetables.  The turkey leg roulade was not an unqualified success.  For one thing it took much longer to cook than the recipe claimed, and the meat itself, while it tasted good, was not sliceable into the neat rounds they promised.  More of a good tasting shambles, to be exact.

Son suggested that perhaps the pix with the online recipe were not of a leg rouladed, but of a turkey breast,which I now think is correct.  Even they couldn't make this one look neat.  He also wondered if they'd actually tested this recipe at all, or just used clip art and a series of guesses as to how it would work.  We indulged in all this bitter dialog while whipping into it, I ought to admit.

However, the stuffing was good, and all that extra the recipe made  will go into some bird for Christmas, maybe cornish game hens, we'll see.  I still like the principle, just doubt whether the turkey leg is a good subject.

The cranberry jelly was out of a can, this being HS favorite, and I got a can of what claimed to be cranberry sauce, but which turned out to be another jelly. Hm.  Cranberry and raspberry.  Which in fact was pretty good, even if there was a big lie on the label. To me a cranberry sauce has whole fruit, and it pours from the can, as if you'd made it yourself, which I didn't this year.

The applesauce was excellent, great apples went into it, and it really paid off.  And the delicata squash and various other farm veggies played their part just fine.   In fact a lot of the veggies were finished on the day.  Handsome Son attended to the baking of the pie in between watching Poirot, causing him to miss essential plot points and be unable to fill me in on them, since I had fallen off into a little doze on the sofa..

All in all, a very nice day, and thank you all for the notes and emails and comments and texts on the day.  Also my friends who left a bag of Indian goodies to add in, hanging from the doorknob before they left for the weekend. Included was a little gold box of chocolates with a jingle bell attached, which has now become the first item on the ficus tree, which acts the part of a seasonal conifer.

Plenty to be thankful for, I'd say.  My birthday comes in a couple of weeks, and  Handsome Son is inviting me to his place to cook me lunch, his choice of menu.  Usually he comes here, but I thought it would save his carting about all the ingredients and tools (he doesn't trust my kitchen tools).  So that will be great.  This will be a double digit birthday, both numbers the same, and I wonder if there's a name for that?  any blogistas who happen to know, please say.  No, I'm not 99.  Yet.

No mention of Christmas is allowed until my bday is past.  Not that I have an exaggerated sense of my importance, at least that's my story, it's just that, well, the season doesn't begin till then.  Even if there's a jingle bell already in place.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Pre Thanksgiving Turkey Dance

So here's the stage set for the Turkey Roulade caper.  The idea is to bone the turkey thigh, and roll it with a savory stuffing, tie it with string, roast, then slice it for serving.  

Boning was a first for me, also tying with string, and I was surprised that I was able to do it. Twice.  Two legs, that is.

The stuffing is all about sausage, mushrooms, egg, rosemary, thyme, breadcrumbs, red onions and garlic, quite fun to do, but I'm glad I'm not trying this on the day.  Took much longer than the recipe happily indicated.  Recipe written by an experienced chef, with hot and cold running sous-chefs, I'm guessing. And it turned out that there was a lot of leftover stuffing, which will be frozen for future adventures of this kind. You can stuff chicken breasts this way, it might even give them some flavor.

 So here's the product, resting seam side down, with a sprig of rosemary on one, thyme on the other, from my garden, and now resting in the fridge, to roast tomorrow.  I suspect that this is the kind of thing that's interesting and exciting to do once, but once might be a lifetime supply. Like tiling a floor.

And I have a list of items so as not to forget anything for the groaning board.  I often forget something interesting and the groaning is coming from the cook when that happens.  All the veggies are from the farm, always a happy point.

So Happy Thanksgiving, however you celebrate it, and if you don't have a special day tomorrow, Happy Thursday anyway!

And just so it's not all about food, I always remember you, dear blogistas, with great thankfulness that you're there and reading and enjoying and responding and adding more than you can know to my life!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Poisson et pommes frites a la mode de chez Liz

So, long time since fish was on the menu, and in anticipation of heavier fare later in the week, I thought I might make a nice fish dinner.  

Proceeded to marinate a piece of Alaskan pollock, which always sounds like an insulting term more than a food item, in cherry balsamic vinegar, later breaded it with panko, chunked up a scrubbed but not peeled potato, tossed the pieces in olive oil and kosher salt, sprinkled a bit of coarse sea salt over, and roasted the lot.  Well, the potatoes for about 45 minutes, and the fish for more like 9, at 425F.

Here the fish is resting on a rack for half an hour after the breading, so that it dries a bit and the breading is more crisp.

Served it with a nice glass of homemade lemonade (lemon slices from freezer, that way I always have some lemon around). 

And realized that this posh and labor intensive poisson et pommes frites a la mode de chez Liz really amounted to fish n chips and lemonade. Well, fish n chips maison, to hang desperately onto a bit of posh description.  But it was pretty good anyway.

Monday, November 23, 2015

About that large Sunday dinner..

Which I naively thought would give me leftovers for a couple more days.  Here's the picture this morning, the nearer dish being a single serving, the giant glass dish now washed and away again:

I suppose it means it was good.   At any rate, it was enjoyed, and there was enough dessert to share with two other friends.  But it does remind me of a friend who used to say what's the point of cooking? they'll only eat it!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sunday Dinner and progress, and fruit crumble, too

Sunday has become a good cooking day around here, what with the weekly family dinner with HS and all.  

Today was all about roasting vegetables and chicken.  

The vegs are spaghetti squash, tomatoes, another kind of squash and gnocchi, all tossed in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, cumin, turmeric, baharat, and sumac, with kosher salt.  The curry leaves will rest on top as they roast.

A chicken leg each, tossed in breadcrumbs from the remains of the hot biscuits made with red lentils, and various other spices that occurred to me.  They will roast alongside the vegetables.

Then the fruit crumble, a mix of Martha and Rose.  The topping is sort of Martha, except that I used whole wheat with the oats, and added in nutmeg and crushed walnuts.  The fruit is some of that apple supply from the local tree, which reminds me to make applesauce for Tgiving, and prune plums waiting in the freezer for just such a chance to star.  

I added brown sugar (well, white with added molasses) to the plums and salt plus nutmeg, and macerated that for an hour, so that liquid emerged.  Then I did a reduction of the liquid, swirling it around in the pan, no stirring (swirled, not stirred, sounds like a movie star), this being the Rose part, then added in the resulting syrup over the fruit in the dish. I'd been thawing the apples during this procedure, since I'd noticed the plums suddenly looked a lot smaller after macerating and needed some company.

So that's tonight's dinner. With the addition of a terrific hot veggie, no idea what veggie, pickle, my Indian neighbor sent over this morning via husband!  I can taste cumin, coriander, and hot pepper, but I don't know what the veg is, some small sliced green thingy.

They'll get a share of fruit crumble in their near future, I think.

Yesterday was a mad rush of helping next door neighbor take action against squirrels which have invaded our building, inside the skin of the place, inside the soffits, you name it.  He had parts of his ceiling open for electrical work, and parts of the storage area, for a new breaker box, so we urgently set to work to close them.  And that extra insulation material from a couple of my own jobs were just the ticket.  He now has squirrel proofed at least the inside of his house, and has partly insulated the storage area.  Everybody happy, not least me, because the leftover insulation stuff came in handy right when needed.

He found a place in the soffit near the corner of the building where a squirrel sized hole had been evidently gnawed, explaining one of their doorways into the soffit.  Another neighbor said he'd seen a squirrel running up the front of the building yesterday then mysteriously disappearing somehow.  Evidently into the soffit.

 And, at my strong suggestion, since he'd also seen a squirrel in his eaves where he stores stuff -- his dogs detected it -- he invested in a couple of havahart traps, the kind where the animal is caught but unhurt and can be transported to a better location, and he baited and set them up.  And found that these gifted squirrels sprang the trap, and got the bait, from outside the trap.  Nobody caught. 

But since I saw squirrels mating like anything on top of my fence this morning, perhaps we've at least unnerved them into leaving and continuing their wild gyrations outside.

So perhaps it's Gary and Liz 0, squirrels sort of 0, this time. Anyway you can see why I was glad to stay indoors and cook this morning, no climbing up and down and measuring and cutting. Also cooking smells great. 

I wonder if there are any plans afoot for aroma apps?  this one would get my vote.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sometimes we need something silly!

On the grounds that, in the midst of grim and terrible news, we all need a little silly stuff to help us cope.  And you won't get much sillier than these!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Bite Club and the Reveal of the Giant Almond Cookie

After I'd looked through several of the One Pot Meal books, I ended up doing a dessert from the Martha Stewart One Pot Meals book, a hybrid in fact.

There were two giant cookies, where you make just one huge one and cut it up or break it at will.  One used the castiron skillet, which I like for baking, but was about chocolate chips, don't like chocolate much at all, and chips not at all.  The other one used ground almonds, which I wanted to try out, but a springform pan, which I don't have.  Soooooo, I made a hybrid sort of thing.

I made brown sugar by mixing molasses with white, and did the top recipe on the page you see here, but instead of chocolate chips, used the ground almond, and added in almond essence as well as the vanilla essence they list.  And I baked the thing in a castiron pan, for longer than the almond recipe, several minutes longer, and reduced the heat to finish.

It slid out of the pan easily, no problem, and I put it in another dish to take it to the meeting, castiron being too hefty to sling about.  And we'll see what the gathering has to say about it.  I found that a package of sliced almonds for 1.5 cups will make a little more than one cup of ground almonds, about right for my needs.  I'm taking in a pizza wheel to help people cut into it if they don't want to break into it by hand.  I suppose this is what makes it one pot.

Speaking of favorite tools, I use my pizza wheel to cut all kinds of flatbreads and biscuits and flattish baked goods, much easier than a knife.  And I use it to mince herbs, too, just run it back and forward until the herbs are minced.

So substitution ruled the day yet again, and it does look pretty good.

Excitement in the food world: Christopher Kimball is leaving America's Test Kitchen, which he helped found.  Apparently things have been very exciting since they took on their first CEO and this is the next big event.  I guess they all got their aprons in a twist! You simply never know how passionately food can get people, and the business dealings attached thereto.  I certainly wouldn't get into an argument with people who all have sharp instruments to hand and are skilled in their use.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Nous sommes tous Parisiens

This is just a note to remind us all to give thanks for the lives of the departed, prayers for their survivors, a determination to live our lives as we choose, not be ruled by fear, and to remember that ISIS is a tiny group of extremists.  They don't represent the vast numbers of peaceful Muslims in the world, including some close friends of mine.  


Monday, November 9, 2015

Hot biscuits with red lentil flour and caraway seeds

It dawned on me that there was no federal law against buying a 12 inch pizza pan, useful for all kinds of things as well as pizza, since it's designed to go in the oven. I never have a big enough pan that will do that.  And shoving all that flatbread into a pan two inches too small because it would go in the oven, didn't make a ton of sense.

Soooo, I did, I sent away for a nice Teflon one, complete with warnings about not poisoning your pet parrot with the outgassing.  Which actually can only happen if you totally overheat and burn the thing and start to degrade the surface. At which point you are endangered as much as your poor old polly.   It's a product of the Tort Lawyers' Full Employment Act, I think.

Anyway, it arrived today, the pan, not the parrot, and was instantly pressed into service since I was out of bread, horrors, can't happen here, and quickly decided on hot biscuits.  This is adapted from a great recipe in the Silver Palate, which uses oils instead of solid fats.  

I use either a mix of canola with some other veg oil, I forget what, or olive oil. And I've changed and added so much over the years that it hardly resembles the original, but it's still good.  I long ago ditched the vanilla essence she uses a lot of, ew, and use all oil instead.  I make my own buttermilk, never remember to buy any, by using lemon juice to sour the milk, if I don't happen to have any soured milk handy.

And since I had that lovely pink lentil flour, I figured I'd use half and half that and ap flour.  Then wondered what nice inclusions I could run to.  Sometimes it's sunflower seeds, sometimes crushed walnuts, but I thought, hm, seeds, what have we here..fennel? nah, anise might not work here, but caraway now, well, that was an idea. One teaspoonful of caraway seeds.  

I've always liked inclusions, nuts and stuff in icecream, seeds and nuts in bread and cake.  Poor Handsome Son as a little boy once refused to eat his bread because, Mommy, my bread's got rocks in it!

So here's the new pan on its maiden voyage, I declare this pan open, and God bless all who bake in her

and here's the hot biscuit with a bit broken away so you can see the nice pink inside. 

I had to transfer it to a board, can't cut it on the Teflon surface. And I often make one giant hot biscuit using all the dough, then cut it into squares.  I like this better than separate biscuits all with a crusty outside.

It tastes fine, neutral enough to go with cheese or whatever else I fancy, maybe a little sausage.  It's tender, breaks easily, because the lentil doesn't have gluten, but it's protein rich because of the lentil.  For some reason I felt very Moroccan doing this one...

Oh, and no pix of my latest apple crumble, just a couple of notes, since it's the best evah!  I had no brown sugar, so I browned white sugar with molasses, worked a treat.  And I treated the apples, nice flavory ones from the farm, by macerating in salt, maple syrup and a bit of the homemade brown sugar.  Drained the liquid off after an hour, reduced it to half, like a syrup, then drizzled it over the fruit in the dish.  So good.

And I used Martha's oatmeal crumble on top except that I doubled it by using a cup of almond meal as well as the oatmeal and o. flour along with homemade b. sugar.  Must remember all this, since it was really worth doing.  

It went over so well when HS came to dinner last evening, and I had to have some for breakfast, no toast in the house, that there's not enough around to make a blogworthy picture.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Labyrinth visit, pix shown despite Yahoo's best blocking efforts...

Today was time for a visit to the labyrinth, in honor of a recently departed husband of a friend.  I got lost getting there, because one of my landmarks had changed so that I overshot the place.  I navigate by landmarks, since directions and the sense of direction are foreign to my hardwired brain, and when they change, or as in this case, cover them up as they demolish behind them, well, I ask you.

So I wheeled around and got found again, wonderful light and blowing leaves and then found that the labyrinth is ankle deep in beautiful leaves, impossible to walk it.  

So I had a change of plan and did a sitting meditation on the bench there instead.  

And my alarm telling me when time was up defeated my efforts to turn it off, because in bright sunshine the screen's unreadable.  Eventually I managed it, quiet returned, and I did take a couple of pix to send to my friend.

And then once home, spent upwards of an hour trying to get them to upload. Yahoo in its wisdom, has changed the app on my tablet, so that it's no longer possible to simply send images to my regular email for uploading.  Noooooooo.  I managed after numerous efforts to get one uploaded and sent.  The other not so fast.

So I figured the culprit was Yahoo, who have put out a buggy app instead of getting it working before installing it, as in ready! fire! aim! so perhaps I could send it to another email address.  

But my backup email, good old Juno, used it for thirty years, one single crash in all that time, no bugs, just a simple email that works, well, my tablet won't talk to Juno. Won't even list it.  So I sent to yet another email I never use, and forwarded on from there.  And now it finally works.

So thanks to Yahoo's yahoos, it is now a multipart process: take pix, send to one email, ship to another, download to hard drive, upload to thumbdrive, download to blog, lie down, have a cup of tea. But the pix are nice to see, a good memory of a quiet meditation period.

And, on the principle of the Shakuhachi effect, I learned a workaround instead of just getting all irate and arm waving.


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Flatbreads and Flours, it's a grind! 6WS

Today I was out of ideas for lunch and remembered Mark Bittman's flatbread idea, for using wholegrains.  So I figured this was a good way to use some of my split pea flour, ground in the coffee grinder at home, and to roast some vegetables at the same time, to put on top like a pizza of some kind.  The corn and broccoli went in about 15 minutes before the bread was done, also in a castiron pan, don't know how I ever managed without them.

I had forgotten how filling this flour is.  One quarter of this pizza was plenty for now.  So it made four meals rather than the two I'd thought of.  Seen here before cheese arrives

and after.

And, since the flatbread takes 45 minutes (hot oven, 450F) I seized the moment and since I'd already got the split pea flour out, organized the flour part of the fridge, cleaned the shelf and got up to date on grinding various items that have been waiting to turn into flour.  

I add these into breads, pancakes, other sorts of baked goods, and they're interesting.  Here, posing left to right, chickpeas, oats at back, red lentils in front, barley, and almond flour.  I also make walnut flour and just now realized I'd forgotten it. The red lentils look lovely ground, like a tropical beach.

I do keep some of the items whole, in case I want to cook with them, not wishing to have to go out and find lentils because all mine are now flour, guess how I found this out.  And always this kind of thing stays in the fridge or the freezer, because you never know when a critter will appear in it.  Enough strife with squirrels outside without inviting tiny cousins indoors.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Three Great Starts

Out on the road today, hanging art with the Creative Collective artist group, at Terhune Orchard, I had my first sighting of an electric car, here plugged into the power right on the pole, the joys of having a farm where you can do this!  very exciting first for me

And, second Great Start,  Handsome Son is at the beta stage of setting up his blog, which supports his brand new enterprise, working with clients in their homes on their computer software issues.  Already has some happy clients, and would welcome more!  go here to find out  more and to see a nice image of him, too.

But, best till last, I had a surprise visit yesterday from a close friend's daughter, bringing with her her own daughter, five months old, and visiting from their home in Colorado.  

The baby, the divine Miss K. spent a while here, being adored and held and admired, while she smiled and looked coy, and made interesting noises and examined the cat, and studied the designs on the sofa.  It was such a treat to hold a baby, been a long time!  and to see J. the mom, again, that's been a long while, too, since her shower before Miss K was born.  I've known J since she was a little girl and it's amazing to see her as a competent mom, totally relaxed and happy with her little girl. 

I  was lucky they fitted me in, what with a whirl around many relatives all meeting Miss K for the first time, she's making a royal progress through many houses!  I booked another visit before they leave again, and one with older brother M, now a great big four.

A rich couple of days!  electricity in several forms.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Cleaning up the garden, Dolliver style 6WS

After a hectic kitchen day yesterday we were all ready to get outside in good weather and clean up the patio, pick the last few flowers and herbs, sweep up the cherry tree leaves, and generally render the place okay for the winter, and ready for the spring.

The Ds explained that they were happy to supervise the process, and pick flowers, but the labor of heaving pots and dead foliage around was for lesser folk such as Boud.  

Good as their word they sat in style, minding the flowers and the scissors since she loses them all the time.   Elton explained that the weather is far too cold to take his piano out of doors, so we would have to hum along any musical accompaniment.  

So the Dollivers improvised with The Flowers We Pick in the Fall, TraLa, Green Grows the Parsley O, and Autumn Leaves.

No pix from yesterday, since there was so much cooking, one way and another that there was no time to take pix.  Handsome Son is in the throes of setting up a small biz in home computer assistance, already has started with clients here in central NJ, and I've been inviting him over at the weekend for a large supportive meal.

Yesterday I was using vegetables from the farm, and experimenting with a new cake thing, as well as tripping over glackity recipe instructions, and having to stop everything and make an ingredient before I could continue.

So we had a tureen of squash, roasted bell pepper and shredded cabbage soup with thyme and sage sausage, with a full dish of new baked hot biscuits, followed by large wedges of rum raisin, apple, walnut cake.

The soup went fine, no surprises there, hot biscuits likewise, however the cake was a different issue. I waited till afternoon to embark on it, after the soup and biscuit work in the morning and a large load of laundry. Laundry not germane to cooking, just saying it was going on at the same time because of a shortage of clean clothes.

The cake, anyway, I'd seen a great looking recipe and wanted to include some of this week's farmshare apples, and finally use some of the bottle of rum I was given ages ago and have never used.  

This involved a trip to the store for golden raisins.  Then as I was assembling the ingredients, many of them, for the recipe, I realized that the amount of butter was incomprehensible.  Three WHAT?  sticks? tablespoons?  pounds?

So I went off and found a different one online that I could follow better, and many attempts did not succeed in getting it to print. 

So back to the drawing board, and I pulled out the trusty old Silver Palate, and got a nice looking recipe under way.  Failing to notice that it was appleSAUCE cake.  Halfway through the proceedings, stopped everything and rummaged in the freezer for a bag of those apples I got from that local tree.

An hour later I had some terrific applesauce, ready to use.  Never made it before, so this was new. And when I mixed the cake batter, I put in the rummed raisins anyway (soaked in the rum), and a shake of crushed walnuts, and since I was determined to use some fresh apples, chunked one up and added it into the applesauce. None of these was in the recipe, but I was undaunted.

Then found I don't have a great big cake pan of the size they mentioned.  So I used my biggest cast iron pan and put the spare batter into the smallest pan and went off to read and to let the cakes get on with it.

Result was a small cake, baked faster, taken out earlier, pretty nice, and a large one which was really really good.  And really really large.  Many slices now in the freezer.  

Dessert after today's lunch (baked squash, sigh, but with sumac and coarse sea salt and white pepper and a dot of butter), anyway, dessert was a slice of this cake, with a few frozen blackberries and a few spoonsful of plain yogurt, good honey over the top, microwaved for two minutes.  Ooooooohhhhh, that was good.  And demolished too fast for pix, sorry.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Zucchini quiche and black walnut dye

Black walnut dye being food safe, and this large container being dedicated to dyeing purposes, it was okay to show you the zucchini quiche fresh from the oven right next to it.

This is a nice crustless quiche, courtesy of Diane crustless spinach quiche, except that I often replace the spinach of the original recipe with other things, such as broccoli or here grated zucchini, which I had in the freezer ready for such a use.  Note to self: remember to drain frozen zucchini, or you have to bail out the pan.  Surprising lot of water accumulates because of the ice crystals in the freezing process.

I grate zucchini as soon as I get it from the farm, and freeze it so I can use it in zucchini bread or quiche or other mixed vegetable dishes.  I find it pretty hopeless on its own, needs to be in good company.

This went down very well, and you see what a good pie pan the castiron makes. Puffs up nicely.

Did the sauteing of the onions and garlic on top of the stove, mixed the eggs with the cheeses (used cheddar and parmesan here) and various condiments, mainly kosher salt and black pepper.  Then mixed it all on top of the stove right into the pan, sprinkled with a whoosh of red pepper, and baked it for 30 minutes at 350F.  Four helpings from this one.

The walnut dye came about when I realized yesterday was a great day for collecting fallen black walnuts from the trees behind my house.  And remembered that I had a bag of same in the freezer. So I got them all going in the big pot, simmering for several hours to get the best color out of them.  I'll strain out the nuts and hulls, then strain the remaining dye liquid, then we'll see what happens next. I might just freeze it till midwinter to use it then when I can't get out and pick dye materials.  

I don't bother with a mordant for black walnut, since you can hardly stop it from dyeing, never mind encourage it.  Friend Stefi once laid down a bag of walnuts on her back step and what with one thing and ten others, forgot to retrieve it, and a few days later found it again, also found a permanently dyed back step. 

Farmshare this afternoon, almost the end of the season and as God is my witness I will never eat squash again.  Waiting to see what's up this week, and hoping for apples.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

A gift of a day, walking required

Now that the winter prep is done, all set for cold weather of which we've had some, gloves and coats and all, suddenly today is a warm day, high 70s, sunshine, so winter is on hold, and a visit to the Pond was called for.

Whenever I take pix of the bridge across the pond, I think, hm, who needs Giverny?  I like to come here in all seasons, following on the advice of a naturalist, Jenny Hanson, who led a group I joined several times, of local nature walks.  

She used to say it was valuable to cover the same ground repeatedly throughout the year to observe all the changes, because it wasn't really the same ground at all.  She was quite right.

Birds flitting about, a few last crickets still chirping, and the usual flotilla of Canada geese pretending they plan to fly south, we wish, but they fly as far south as the next town, then wheel around and come home again, acting as if they've been far away.
Overhead, two turkey vultures sailed and sailed on the currents, never flapping, just making tiny wing adjustments to keep moving in wide circles.  

Home again, a pair of mourning doves rummaging in the emptied planter boxes maybe for seeds. And the last climbing rose, which I planned to pick for the house before the frost got her, vanished. Today I looked down from upstairs, and there it was, all bitten and torn up, on top of the fence.  Turns out squirrels like roses, too, who knew.

So a lot of earth critters were out and about today. Lucky us.

Monday, October 19, 2015

A don't miss documentary, on Dorothy Hartley,on YouTube

Here's the link to why I'm all excited about this doc:

Then go to YouTube and find the documentary itself.  It's riveting, and funny, and so worth watching, if you love history, or food, or cooking, or eccentric brilliant ladies, or all three!  I just found it on YouTube and had to pass on the good word.  

It's about Hartley's life and her magnum opus on Food of England.  And the illustrations are her own, done as she observed and wrote, a true researcher and social historian.  She lived when many old ways of living in England and Wales were falling into disuse and preserved the knowledge for folks like us and serious researchers, too, to value, as well as studying the history of things and people and customs.  She thought nothing of bicycling all over, sleeping under hedges, wherever she could, on her quest for information.

And if you're from the north of England, or have relatives in Wales, you'll recognize a lot of the expressions.  Long time since I heard anyone say "come day, go day" meaning someone who doesn't worry about when things get done.  The rest of the saying is "God send Sunday!" The man saying it said that Dorothy was not at all like that!

The documentary has some wonderful characters in it, including an artist named Mary (couldn't catch last name, sorry) who is a law unto herself.  I loved the way that despite Lucy Worsley, (the doc person)'s pronouncing medieval as medeeval, Mary quietly pronounced it correctly when she used the word, yay. 

And when Worsley asked her, as an artist in her own right, what she thought of Hartley as an artist.  She replied that Hartley wasn't an artist, she was an illustrator, at which I shouted YES!!! world of difference between the two.  She did appreciate Hartley as an illustrator, though, admiring her detail and accuracy.  

And she used Hartley's food in England book to guide her own adventure in learning to live in an ancient house in the country, with two children, after her husband deserted them, and with no experience of cooking over fire and other early country skills.  She's worth a documentary of her own.

I'm currently reading Hartley's Lost Country Life (library didn't have the Food in England book) and it's so packed with interesting fact and description of early life -- I'm in the medieval period -- that I have to keep putting it down to rest my mind for a minute!  but I had to stop and tell you about this.  Amazing that she created at least two such huge and excellent books, as well as all the illustrations in them, and some lovely old photographs, too.

Just check into YouTube, for Amazing Documentaries, with Lucy Worsley, for Food in England, the Lost World of Dorothy Hartley.  you won't regret it!  about an hour long documentary.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Bite Club brings me back to my roots..

This month's cook is Nigella Lawson, and the book I've been into is Nigella's Kitchen.  Since Handsome Son is expected for dinner this evening, he will be my official taster. First course: Sunshine Soup, using red bell peppers and corn from the farm

Seen here at right, her poshed up picture at left.  But it's very good even if mine isn't quite as sunny as hers.  I had a red pepper, she used both red and yellow.  But I also had lovely whey in the freezer from yogurt cheese making, great in this sort of soup, and a chicken broth. So I have hopes of this one.

Then roasted vegetables (not Nigella, just general principles) with roasted salt potatoes (thank you Deborah Madison) and winter squash, plum tomatoes, shredded cabbage, all from the farm, and chicken sausage from Aldi, one of which we now have.

Then a nice seedcake (this is what I'll take in to Bite Club next Wed, since it will keep, if there's any left, that is).  I notice, cattily, that mine didn't sink in the middle as hers did...

The seedcake amused me because I'd never had it in my life, but saw references to it in Miss Marple, where she was at Bertram's Hotel, and it was supposed to be a big deal afternoon tea item.  And there's Jane Eyre, to whom it was evidently a huge treat, not that that's saying much when you think of her life at Lowood, but moving right along.

Anyway, I thought I should honor my roots and do a seedcake, if only to amuse my fellow Club members who think I'm a bit dotty anyway. 

So there's tonight's menu.  HS rarely looks at my blog, so he won't get the surprise spoiled.  Also a glass of merlot if required, and homemade lemonade if not, HS being a rather abstemious man.

English Breakfast pot of tea afterwards when we move to the sitting room. That's the other side of the room from the dining room.  But not the stitching area, which is the far corner of the same room. Or the conservatory, which is the part behind the sofa in the sitting room.  Just so you don't get lost in here.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Field and Fen is in the kitchen again

This week's farmshare was blessedly free of potatoes, but had a plethora of winter squash.  So I looked around for a different way of using them.

I steamed and boiled (half a huge squash in the water, half in the steaming basket above, too big to put in whole) a squash for about 30 minutes.  It would have gone faster if I'd remembered to turn on the gas as well as the timer, so I had to redo the 30 minutes. This is what happens when your mind is on art and stitching.  

However, moving right along, I peeled the steamed/boiled halves,  and chunked them up.  If I were a tv cook, they would have had to redo this part of the program.  Except that if I were a tv cook, there would be assistants ready to turn on the gas and do the timer.  And a food stylist to make the results look amazingly, and unreally, good.  Back to my solo kitchen now, dreaming done.

One of the halves is in the freezer labeled ready for soup.  The other half I used in a noodle recipe.  Egg noodles, mixed with the cooked squash which had been tossed in an array of spices, which worked really well.  

The picture shows the chorus line of condiments, the big container being kosher salt, the unlabeled one baharat spice mix from the Jerusalem book, and you can see the others.  White pepper there, with sumac and nutmeg.  The baharat mix already had nutmeg, so I knew this would go okay, and it should have had sumac which I didn't have at the time, so I knew that was okay to add, too.

Little knob of butter stirred in to the hot mixture. 

And four dinners resulted.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Recycling meets diy meets textile rescue

So here's the reveal of the latest home improvement feature, my new shabby chic portiere:

A fellow artist is moving, getting rid of a lot of items, and had beautiful linens she will never use, came to her through her family, probably old, and this piece came to me.  

It's actually a banquet style table cloth, linen, much heavy openwork and stitching and drawn threadwork, and was stained.  A bath in Synthropol took care of most of the stains, so I decided not to dye it with coffee, my first thought, but leave it alone.  I may take closeup pix for Art the Beautiful Metaphor and see if anyone can help identify the style of work and techniques, but tonight I just wanted to gloat a bit.
Then the decision on the  place for it to rest.  Too narrow for the window I originally had in mind, but very nice as a gathered full portiere in the bedroom, just slung over a tension rod.  No damage done to textile, and now it can hang a while, until I get up the gumption to starch and press it.  No harm in letting it hang for a bit, to release some of the creases.  And it hides various unlovely items like file boxes and vacuum cleaners and out of season decorative items.

The country style chair was a dumpster find years ago.  So you could say the textile is slumming a bit.

It definitely lends a shabby chic air to the place.  Color is ecru cutwork and drawn threadwork on white linen, and I see this doorway from my bed, so it's a good place to enjoy the piece.  I'll see it every day, and honor it and all the stitching work in it. It's hung a few inches up off the ground, so that marauding kitties don't get caught up in the openwork.


Lovely October days, in and out

Amazing, in our close to 80 degree weather, to know that our Canajun colleagues have already celebrated Thanksgiving, and I hope it was a happy one for all of you.  Ours is nearer our actual harvest -- farmshare doesn't end till mid November -- but a bit too near Christmas and New Year.

Meanwhile, I thought I'd celebrate Indigenous People's Day yesterday with a stroll out on the Preserve, this having been Lenni Lenape territory long ago, to honor them.

And found milkweed, which, after this pic

I blew at and scattered the seeds far and wide, in hopes of feeding future monarch butterflies, which have been very scarce this year.  Most butterflies have been scarce -- a couple of monarchs, a few tiger swallowtails and dusky swallowtails, more Red Admirals, the usual little whites and blues and sulfurs and browns.

But I was blessed yesterday, with a sight of two American Ladies, a first for me, on the field in the Preserve, near where I used to see buckeyes a lot.  At first I thought this pair were Red Admirals, but too fancy a design for that.  Then I wondered Painted Ladies, but not the right pattern for that either.  

And my good old Golden Book of Butterflies explained my confusion, after it identified them as American Ladies.  They are all three in the Vanessa species, and there's another on the west coast, so that's why I was uncertain, many points of resemblance.  Beautiful but impossible for pix, very very flighty and arguing amongst themselves.  But that flourish of orange color on the upper wing is pretty identifiable. So if you want a pic, since my link didn't work, google on American Lady Butterfly.

Then this morning, this is what I saw on waking, among the houseplants in the bedroom, the duncanus domesticus

lurking and gazing steadily in the hopes of waking me early to give him breakfast.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Visitation from a Late Welcome Guest

I found the guest in question when I went out to cut parsley for pasta e fagiole, right there on the pot of parsley, tucking in.  Very late in the season for him, so I hope he makes it.  I left some parsley in place for him anyway.

This is not a pest!  this is a lovely dusky swallowtail butterfly caterpillar.  They are specific feeders, usually parsley being their food of choice.  

Many years ago when I had a large house and an even larger garden and a very large vegetable garden, I noticed that my entire row of parsley, about 25 feet of it, was nibbled down to the ground and covered in these black and green critters.  But, since no other crops were touched, I concluded that these little guys were not doing me much harm, and what's a bit of parsley between friends, after all.

Ages later I found out that they were my favorite butterfly's caterpillar, so I was even happier that I'd left them in peace.  I've had the current little pot of parsley all season, with no guests at all, so I guess they gave me a good run at it before deciding it was theirs.  

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Last Backsplash! This or Any Stage! 6WS

The Backsplash Caper is Done.  Handsome Son and I installed one in his kitchen, which pleased him a lot, and we are now officially out of the backsplash business.  It looks really good, and he benefited from all the learning I did on mine.  

 Finishing touches in process.

Took about three hours. As always, it was the final fittings and tweaks and curses that took the longest.  Now I have two sheets to return for a refund, yay.  Took four sheets total to do both kitchens.  And HS has all the leftover bits to make art with.

And on the high tech front, I have installed and almost got the hang of Skype, or perhaps it's got the hang of me.  Anyway, I know to look into the camera now, and not mutter dementedly at the keyboard when I'm looking for the commands.. 

My entire directory at this point is Handsome Son, because even though we live close, recent winters have cut us off from one another, what with snow, high winds, downed trees and other efforts of Ma Nature. I wanted to be able to have near to a real conversation if we can't get to each other's home.  Also as the landlady, I need to know if anything happens for which I need to call in help.

Meanwhile, the stories of Joaquin ravaging our fair state were greatly exaggerated, just a whole lot of rain which we needed, no winds at all, really cold temps -- cats glued one to either side of me whenever I stop moving -- and no drama at all.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Backsplash! Done!

So it's done!  the backsplash is now up, and looking fine, and the kitchen is completed. I have more backsplash material and if my tenant at the condo likes it, I'll do another one over there, now that I know how.  Two views. As you see, I did the entire wall, figuring that would be better than just one section. And it does look nice and finished and continuous.  I should have put the oven light on, too, to show you how the panel glows in the light.

I started off adhering it, but then realized it was just as good to use panel tacks and tap them in at intervals, this being a 2 x 4 foot lightweight sheet cut to fit, rather than individual tiles.  In fact they were not panel tacks, but the kind of small nails you use for basket making, since they came from Mittens, and I'm guessing that was their previous use?  worked fine in lieu of the panel tacks I couldn't find. 

I learned about cutting out to allow the outlets to work, and all that, and matching tile patterns, not obvious even though this was an all-direction design with square motifs. 

I painted the outlets and covers, and will give them another coat, using liquid acrylic, since I found that in practice leaving them to match the walls looked a bit jarring.  I painted, then sponged.  But I can fiddle about with this at will, now that the main job is done.
Took about three plus hours. I do like to do my own work! and it's a big improvement over the old glum wall it covered. Also I covered up the old landline phone jack,  out of use for years.

So now I'll just wait, hot and tired and smug, for all the cheering and stamping and whistles...well, I can dream.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Of pasta and kitchens and plants and friends

Handsome Son and I went to the annual Italian American Festival at the local park on Saturday, no pix, since all the photogenic aspects were missing this year. No lovely streets laid out with the historic Burg street signs (well, one, lost in a mass of fast food booths), no children's puppet theater, no in person acts interesting to watch, few crafts.  Mainly it was about fast food, and a big midway, with the really good food sort of shoehorned in.  So next year we may rethink this.

However, undaunted by chilly and windy weather, we forged on to find dinner, and had some excellent sausage sandwich, funnel cake, pasta e fagioli, aka pasta fazool, and old fashioned soft icecream with sprinkles distributed by an antique original soda fountain sprinkling machine.  And the best funnel cake I ever had.

The crowds were as happy and nice as ever, despite crowding, and big families with not a single crying kid,  and the family who were leaving as we arrived to eat wiped off the whole picnic table surface for us, since as the grandfather said, my kids were here!  so when we left, we did likewise for our successors.

The pasta e f. was so good I decided to learn to make it.  And since I had the Plethora of Potatoes to deal with, and had made several hundred gnocchi, you can't make a few gnocchi, I had two large bags of them in the freezer (only freezable potato recipe I found), so here was a chance to use some of it up.

So yesterday I got to work,  already had the tomatoes in the freezer, the parsley growing fresh on the patio, the Italian seasoning in the house, courtesy of dear Karen, red pepper seeds, chicken stock in the house, only needed the white beans.  

While I was cooking friend G. showed up to put up the plant hangers he'd promised me to do this morning before he vanishes for three weeks, leaving me to watch his plants.  And commented several times on how good the soup smelled, what was it, etc.  

So after he helped create this lovely effect in my kitchen as seen from the living room, through the pass through

he had the honor of hanging the first plant, since I grew it from cuttings I'd swiped, I mean pruned, from his plant long ago.  Then he packed up his tools, and we processed to his house, he with all the tools, me with a bowl of soup and a hunk of homemade bread for him for later. 

He eats dinner close to midnight, so he saved it for then.  And this morning gave it a good review.  So much so that I think he was putting his name down for the next time I make it..

and here's the soup: Sunday's lunch for me

and Monday's lunch, for the fridge, and it is very good on the second day as well.  

Definitely a good home for the gnocchi. New mantra: when life hands you potatoes, make gnocchi!

Later, just when I was watching The Aristocrats on my tablet, another friend came by, bearing a lovely dish of Indian food she'd just cooked and wanted to share.  She admired the paint job in the kitchen, and said how she'd like to learn about plants, or rather she wants her husband to learn it, and would I show him how to get started.  They're about the age of Handsome Son and are developing into honorary kids to me!

Well, of course I will help him, he's a sweet guy, and her agenda is to get him more among Americans and their ways of talking (yes, I see the irony here) and a little bit more away from Indian groups.  He will be job hunting, and they would like him to move into an American firm if he can, rather than the paternalistic Indian company he's at now.  

But he needs to be a little bit more outspoken and assertive, and I guess she thinks he can develop that around me, learning how to pot up plants!  Or something!  anyway, whatever transpires, I'll be happy to work with him on learning cuttings and planting and developing an indoor garden.  First use, for me, of gardening as a learning tool for assimilation.  I already worked with them on their front area, helping with planting and dividing and identifying what to weed, and he does love it and can tolerate me.

Little did I know what painting the kitchen might unleash.  Next I will be doing the backsplash wall with a faux copper sheet deal, and I hope I won't end up working with a tinsmith on making soup..