Sunday, September 25, 2016

September Mailbag at last, nearly October..

So what with one thing and another, various obligations involving workshops and festivals and plein air events and meetings, September has been a happily busy month. To the point where I suddenly realized I had Not Done The Mailbag for the month, horror, shock, recoil.

So though I had names all set and addresses mostly found, I had to haul out the collection of art postcards and pens and stamps and thoughts and do the selection.  It's fun to look through the whole collection and try to pick ones that will amuse or interest the recipient, and be seasonal, as in the case of Canadian Thanksgiving which always comes a month earlier than I think it will.  Anyway, each month a different group is the idea, so as to spread the goodwill as far as possible.

If you are a longdistance friend mainly in touch via email and you suspect I don't have a street address for you, don't be shy about emailing me with it. Cynthia, this means you!  it's good to get something in your mailbox which is a surprise and not a nasty one like a bill.

So here's today's welter of materials, and after I got the mailbag done, time for restorative pot of English Breakfast tea and a scone.  Just the ticket.  I called this round the September October mailbag, since at the rate I'm going, it might be October before they get there.  So I'm covering myself.

In the course of finding one or two addresses I thought were in the book which weren't, I pulled out a fat file of correspondence I've kept over the years, and was sort of overcome on finding some wonderful notes to me from Handsome Partner, from long ago, that I forgot I had.  Also from other departed friends.  

But I kept on sturdily with my quest for addresses and thanked my packrat habit of keeping the little receipt you get for the customs slips for people in other countries, where you had to put their address.  Now in the address book, where they oughta.

Wonderful day today, bright and sunny and cool, and earlier I was over in Cranbury walking and watching turtles including a massive one about the size of a suitcase,  and fish at the dam (fish really do swim over the dam, like the three little fishies, in case you wondered) and then strolling back down the street for a large cone of homemade icecream at Gil and Bert's before they close for the season. 

It's been so hot for so long that it's hard to know when the season will end. There were plenty of customers around, including small sidewalk chalk artists and little dogs hoping for a treat.  And, had I remembered to bring my tablet, there would be pix, but oh well.

This might be a good Dolliver destination before the season ends, come to think of it.  I'm hearing more and more shouts of protest from them at how little they get around these days.  Perhaps they'd like to come on plein air tomorrow...we'll see.  It might mean finding berets for them, so as to be artistes. Sigh.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Kennet Square Mushrooms, home and cooked

I was at the farmers' market this morning, and picked up a small ($6) box of mixed shiitake and crimini mushrooms from the Kennet Square nice people, very knowledgeable about their crops, I love to buy from farmers who know what they're doing.

It looks like a small box, but once you prep and cut, here I chopped coarsely, it's a lot.  I ended up using two castiron pans side by side, knob of butter and blurt of olive oil in each, heated till the butter stopped foaming.  

Minced several cloves of garlic, and shared them between pans, then tossed in the mushrooms.  Shake of kosher salt over, couple of grinds of white pepper, cook on fairly high till they smell wonderful and start to soften. 

Then a nice slosh of red wine, here trusty Yellow Tail Shiraz, and let that cook off, lower heat at the end since castiron stays hot for ages, so you can overdo if you don't watch out.  And you did know there's no such thing as cooking wine, no?  if it's not good enough to drink on its own, it's not good enough to cook with, is my mantra. 

Anyway, one part of this was for my lunch and the rest frozen ready to reheat and serve along with other items for next time Handsome Son comes calling.

So here's lunch, mushrooms with garlic and wine over thick slices of homebaked wheat bread, toasted, not to lose any of the remaining wine sauce.  And I pronounced it Good!

In the mail today, early afternoon, came a Very Exciting Parcel of various things, including a package of Albert Square tea, new to me, but evidently popular in London, and this will have a test drive this afternoon for tea, along with a scone and the lemon and tomato jam.  After I've cleared up the dishes after lunch, that is.

The sender plans to style me HRH in future mailings, which I suspect means Her Reputed Haughtiness. But if it comes with tea and other goodies, I'm fine with it. 

And the Dollivers, having shaken off their summer lethargy, are now jonesing for a field trip to the farmers' market.  Maybe that will happen soon.  Farmers being good businessmen, I expect they'll be happy to be featured on this blog, even with Dollivers in the offing.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Jam for Tea with the Dollivers

After a wonderful, though strenuous day yesterday about which if you missed it, more here

I had other errands later, involving meetings with artists, pickup of work, and, this all on a day in the high 80s with very little access to ac, I was caught in the street by a neighbor wanting to give me a little item for art use, and have a chat. We don't see each other a lot, both busy, so I stayed out chatting, then realized I had better get indoors.

I suddenly had all the symptoms, I realized later, of heatstroke.  The lot, including doing a Hillary, staggering and gasping while trying to get into the house. I did make it to the sofa, lay down, cooled off, drank water and generally realized I was going to live if I stayed cool and got hydrated.

But the day was still wonderful, for all that.  And today, even hotter, I decided I had to bow to my trouble with heat, as in can't handle it, and aside from an early morning shopping run, stayed home and cool.

And of course that led to baking.  I made a batch of scones, with raisins and walnuts, and a small batch of Amish style tomato and lemon preserve.  

I forgot to make sure the tomatoes coming out of the freezer were plum toms, and used the juicier ones instead. So the preserve tasted wonderful, but is more runny than it spozed to be. 

Here it is at the unboildownable stage
The combo of lemon and farm tomato is unbeatable. Great for breakfast, too, tangy.  Just a small batch, easy to make. Couple of pints.

I split and jammed a scone, and left it for my neighbor across the street, not the chatting one, to sample.  She texted  about three minutes after arriving home from her city commute, that it was very good, and gone already! The joke between us is that I usually give her enough of a sample of whatever's going, to share with her husband, but that she samples the whole lot before he gets to taste it..but she's very good about sharing the banana bread, his favorite, when that's on offer

And of course, two of the Dollivers showed up dressed in whites, NameMe and Blondie Firstborn, claiming full participation in all the baking and boiling and jam testing and sterilizing of jars and serving, see the testing saucer on the right, you know this trick? put a couple of saucers in the freezer and when you think jam is jelled enough, test a spoonful on one there and if it wrinkles with pushing, jam's done, quick, shut off the heat. If not, try again in a minute with the other frozen saucer.

The Ds also tried their hand, not with much success,  at chatting to yet another friend who stopped in, in the middle of this operation.  She is not of the blog persuasion, and was baffled when I set up the photoshoot, explaining that these were two Dollivers from my blog.  

She looked at me a little suspiciously, eyeing the sharp objects in the kitchen, just in case I ran amok, but I guess decided that, though loopy in my old age, probably from the heat, I was harmless really. 

Then, finally, after she left to see to dinner for her troops,  I got me tea, as Wodehouse characters would put it. And very good it was.  Pot of English Breakfast, TWO split and jammed scones still warm from the oven.

And a word about my dramatic career, whence came the title Jam for Tea.  In  Grade One I starred in a class drama based on the Queen of Hearts nursery rhyme, playing the Queen!  

I thought I was pretty darn dramatic considering the limitation of a role of about ten lines, and was annoyed to see my teacher snorting at the back of the room on my big swing around, arms flung up in the air, to see, shock, horror, the Jam Tarts Were Gone.  But my fans loved it. I think that was when I peaked in my acting life.


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Plainsboro Festival of the Arts 2016

Perfect day for the annual Festival of the Arts, weather in mid 70s, sunny, little breeze, crowds of cheerful people milling about the Library and the plaza outside.

Art of all kinds, from stitching, with the Princeton Embroiderers' Guild, my buds, have to give them a shoutout

young stitcher's completed project

to paper weaving  which looked before the crowds arrived like the first picture, and you see what happens once young artists get to work

 to the Earthloom

 Young weaver writing out the wish she will weave onto the loom,
 to found object sculpture

 to Chinese brush painting 

and wood burning 

to Indian arts including mehndi

 to mandalas

to an installation of cows!  

Elsie the Cow being an important historical figure in this town, home of Walker Gordon Farms and the Rotolactor, once the main employer in the town. 

And music, food, hula hoops, all ages, and now and then a friendly sleepy dog! 

And your blogwriter, after five hours of happy teaching of paper weaving, meeting and greeting friends, taking pix of great art all over the plaza and indoors, certainly understood how that dog felt!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Sign of cooler days to come

After many weeks of not wanting to put the oven on to breadbaking temperature, the return of bright cool weather also brought about this phenomenon

Giant loaf, wholewheat and unbleached ap.  Now cut into four loaves, three in the freezer to keep me going for a while.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Great artist reunion, complete with portrait

Today was a long and lovely lunch meeting with old friends, all artists, and we plan on not letting it go so long again.  Hoping for monthly meetings, complete with show and tell.  Last year the west coaster was in the East and I missed that lunch through very bad timing with about of strep.  We also may need a name! we're what remains of a large artisans guild, way back, and someone suggested Remnants!  as in fabric, several of us being quilters, I add quickly.

Today I asked the favor of having everyone there, one of the six unavoidably unable to get there, put out her hands for a group portrait.  

This is so much more meaningful than smiling faces, nice as they are.  One pair of hands wielded the camera, hence the number doesn't add up!  What does add up, fast, is the combined ages of the participants, but never mind what it is!

These are the hands of women who know a thing or two, and have created wonderful artworks, designing and creating knitted marvels, quilts, crochet, mixed media, beading, stitching, worlds contained here!  many years of making art, learning, teaching and sharing. And all with plans for future projects.

Such generosity of spirit, too, very caring, full of news, one member newly returned from the west coast, one newly married at a later age, and wearing the diamond engagement ring of her late mother in law,  one,wearing a ring created by her stepdaughter, and  who completed a quilt created from an oil painting by her mother, one who exhibits and teaches, well, several do that.  And so still an active artist in her 90s, and all engrossed in creating and making lives for themselves. 

Music in several lives, too, your blogger who plays several instruments, and whose late father in law was a jazz drummer, Mari the quilter whose husband was a jazz saxophone player, and who herself plays harpsichord.

And since the quilt was the centerpiece of the event, complete with workbook showing all the stages and planning, including a pic of the painting from which the idea came, here it is

Mari M created this and many others, all as gifts and all accompanied by its own workbook.  One young relative commented that she must really love them to do all that work, once he'd seen the workbook for his quilt!

I'm glad we got a picture before it goes to its destination.  Her next project is a tshirt quilt, from a collection of music themed tshirts from her husband, and that one she plans to keep for herself.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

New resident finds her friends

As promised to the neighbor who's giving the party out there next week, I cleared the last of the dead foliage outside my section of the fence to leave a nice green vista of groundcover, and brought in the Japanese maple from next door to live on my patio. It was dug for me and set in earth in a pot, very handy.  So I only had to dig once.

This also entailed digging up groundcover, with a network of tough roots, a bunch of  which I planted where the tree had been, so it's now all green out there, no gaping hole to be seen.

And settled the new visitor in to get acquainted with her friends, after a long, nearly seven foot, journey from her roots. Very pleased about this, and hopeful that she will do fine over the winter, since this is a good time to transplant.  She's a sturdy customer, having been amateurishly lopped more than once and still survived. And she will give me red leaves for natural dyes, as well as an interesting color to look at.

In the course of these events, a branch was broken off, so it's now in an arrangement with a broken off sedum and the cicada lying on a bottom sedum leaf, forming a kind of rescue still life.  

As I wrote that, a dusky swallowtail butterfly zigged past my window, reminding me to tell you that the bigger caterpillars on the parsley have now departed, and there are new babies out there with bits of egg clinging.  So with any luck we'll have a good population of duskies around here next year.

 You really have to plan ahead to garden here in this weather and at this age.  I have a limited time during which my back and arms say I can dig and lug and carry, and the hot weather together with mosquitoes renders that even more pointed, so you have to know what to do before you get out there. No time to lean on your spade and think.  And since the dead foliage I was cleaning out seems to be the summer resort of the mosquito, I picked up about a dozen bites before I knew it.  All summer I've been free of bites, and now they're coming in with a final surge.

But the gardening is done for now, until the Rose of Sharon arrives quite soon and I have to start thinking and digging again..very smug here, looking out.  I can see the little maple tree from the sofa in the living room, and through the passthrough from the kitchen, too. I always think of views from the house when I plant because I look out a lot while I'm thinking, working, cooking, doing anything really.  I think I'm part cat, so nosy.

Monday, August 29, 2016

A day packed with great stuff

Today was one of those days where good things just keep on keeping on.  Wonderful morning of plein air work in weather that was not too hot, not too humid, light perfect for working, new friend appeared on the scene to join us. And I managed four small artworks, all acceptable.

Then two items I wanted showed up at the library. Later two good friends stopped in to chat at different times.  One, the person who donated the sawblade for my weaving, and  no mean craftsman himself, showed me pix of the overhauling of a piece of furniture I'd given him, which he loves and has restored to a marvelous new thing for his home.  

The other honored me with personal stuff, while giving me material for me to work on for the Festival where I will teach paper weaving.  And I got news that my entry into the artists group show won an award.

Another friend was puzzling this evening over what to do with the little Japanese maple which is too crowded in his limited space, should he toss it? this was the little tree which gave me red leaves last year for pink dye, and I suggested that he dig it up as planned but instead of tossing, let it come to live on my patio.  Which he did. 

Tomorrow I do some garden cleanup anyway, and now I have a new tree to house on the patio.  This suits my landscaping plans , great, getting away from annuals and into trees and shrubs that I can tend annually and enjoy the developing shape, not to mention dyestuff growing on them.  I have a Rose of Sharon in blue on order for the completion of this plan. And the cherry sapling is coming on a treat. That, with the remaining big cherry tree, is about enough shrubbery for this small space.  It will give a good shape to the patio, as well as create some shade, and shelter for birds. Eventually.

Oh, and I'm invited to a fifth birthday party next week, a favorite young friend of mine and his family.  Happening right next door, all the more reason to tidy up out back and honor the party.

And for dinner I made Diane's Crustless Quiche, using mostly farmfresh ingredients.  

And sometimes a dish smells so great when you take it out that you wish there were a stadium full of cheering and stamping crowds, with whistles and vuvuzelas, shouting quiche, quiche, quiche, quiche to give it its proper due.  This quiche was one of those.

Mainly it's because of the freshest of eggs, and a mixture of parmigiano reggiano cheese and sharp cheddar, and the onions and garlic and freshly picked spinach. Four meals here for me, along with salads.

All in all a stellar day!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Photo shoot at the Libe Gallery, then a fine aftermath

This being the time of the Plainsboro Artists' Annual Group Show, 2016, theme this year being Square One -- go here 

it meant I spent part of the afternoon taking pix of the show, admiring my friends' work, and blogging the results.  It being a blistering hot day, so much for the season abating, after the picturing and cropping and sending and generally virtuously doing a good job at the library, the next destination was obvious.

Over to Cranbury to Gil and Bert's for a scoop of butter pecan in a sugar cone, no pix, it went pretty fast,

sitting in the shade of this awning 

In the evening the lights are on and it's very festive.

Then home to visit with neighbors, get their medical updates (!) and do the actual blogwork, which sometimes involves colorful language in keeping with an art exhibit. Very good afternoon. I had planned on one additional art expedition, but bagged it when I realized how hot it was.  It can wait for a cooler Sunday.


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Achtung! Do not drag cord emphatically! 6WS

After a little contretemps, to vary the language a little, with the old electric kettle, and I mean old, several years ago obtained via freecycle, in the course of which it suddenly tried to burn my fingers as I unplugged it from the wall, it seemed a good idea to actually buy one new.

And much studying on line told me that the whistling element added too much of the dollar element to the kettle, and just having one that would switch itself off, would be fine.  Given how absent minded I am, often setting something on the stove then getting involved in something else and coming back later to cinders, it's good to have a kettle that will switch off and not burn the house down.  That's why I originally got a microwave, but I'm not fond of boiling water in it.

So here's my new kettle, arrived today, and it's made no, not in China, in GERMANY!  Das ist mein elektrischer wasserkocher! Das is also almost the extent of my German.  See, the light illuminates!

So I hope this provenance is a good sign.  Very sleek design, simple, does what it promises, and I'm boiling three successive lots of water as instructed in the booklet before it's ready to  make my tea.

My mom used to hate tea made with water from a new kettle, said it tasted blue!  I think that meant metallic, also, come to think of it now, that she had synaesthesia, too, tastes and colors blending. One of my sisters used to dislike onions in food, said they tasted green!

So I read the little booklet, presented in German then in English. My German being scanty, the year I spent on it in Uni devoted to reading Kinder Und Hausmarchen, book of fairytales, not exactly colloquially useful, but supposedly a basis for reading, I went to the carefully translated englische pages.

And here's how it goes:  Do not drag cord emphatically, and do not place this appliance near a jot gas or in wettest places. Dry the water on the bottom of the body before place it on power base.

Anyway between us, it's working just fine, my new little electric watercookerthing.  And I promise to avoid spillage on the connector and not to let boiling water be ejected by emphatically dragging on the lid.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Nature, giving gift after gift

This morning, on the way out of the house, I found a dead cicada, complete and perfect, right outside the door.  He instantly became a drawing model, results in Beautiful Metaphor.  The cicada is a beautifully engineered animal, with four transparent wings, and wonderful veining.

Then when I noticed a while later that there was a kind of black dust dropping onto the bookcase around the cut parsley flowers I'd brought in for decoration, I realized they were parsley seeds.  So I figured I'd collect them, so small, like black dust, you sweep them into your collection envelope with your hand.

Then I noticed on the parsley stems these little visitors

Dusky swallowtail butterfly caterpillars!  very young, must have hatched in the house, since a couple still had the original egg casing attached to their middles.  

So, since I love the dusky, I took the stems carefully back outside and put them back with the rest of the parsley.  See the remnants of the egg casing on one of these?

I called over my neighbor, who was very excited along with me, and quickly sent pix to a friend in Puerto Rico who used to live here.

Dusky swallowtails like parsley, dill, that family of plants, and if you see them please don't destroy!  they don't eat anything else, and what's a bit of parsley between friends?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Not for Kids Only, aka why should they have all the fun..

Summer time, oddly enough more indoors because of heat and humidity, and a lot of reading temptations show up.  When I'm not doing a mental workout with Jane Hirshfield's essays and the anthology of Kierkegaard, I'm reading stuff like this:

Perfectly wonderful, not exactly for kids, very penetrating social critique and very funny too.  I have to read more of her.

And then I've finally got around to Swallows and Amazons, by Arthur Ransome, a series of books really for kids, where two families of kids have adventures involving sailing, pretending to be pirates, diving for pearls, learning to swim, camping and cooking and tracking, all out of the reach of adults.  For kids a great escape form of reading.  

I never read kids' books when I was one, very little access,in  wartime no publishing for kids, and a house full of older brothers school texts, Dickens, Buchan, Belloc, GK Chesterton, through which I plowed at an early age.  Heck, I was an adult before I encountered Beatrix Potter! 

I could read well years before I was old enough to have a library card.  Dogonart used to kindly bring me back books on her card, though, and that's how I read Mary Poppins and other items. So she did what she could to provide more age appropriate material, and I still thank her to this day for doing this. And for showing me how to make a chest of drawers out of three matchboxes and three beads. Drawer pulls, you know.

Anyway, last week I found Swallows and Amazons on CD, great to listen while I do other stuff, and it's actually very good, even for an aging adult.  Which just shows you that a good story is a good story for practically any age of audience.  And that the later years are a great time to fill in the blanks from childhood, including reading lovely kids' books.  And yes, I now know who Mrs Tiggywinkle is!  oddly, I recently did one of those BBC quizzes about which Potter animal are you, and found I was Mrs. T.  Very apt.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Mushroom quiche farrago

After the wild success of the banana bread in the new square castiron baking pan, I though to try a quiche type of thing, since I'd got some lovely baby bellas locally.

As usual I didn't have half the ingredients in the Sunset Books recipe for mushroom crust quiche (but you can find it on Epicurious anyway, with no credit given to Sunset Books), but went on undaunted.

No crackers, so I subbed panko crumbs, no cream or cottage cheese, so subbed plain yogurt.  Couldn't be bothered pressing the mushroom crust into the pan then filling with ingredients, so I cooked the mushrooms in butter and oil, pinch of sumac, then mixed in the grated cheese, plain yogurt and three farm eggs, then poured the lot into the preheated pan.  About 20 minutes at 350F. You put castiron in the oven when you light it so that it's the same temp as the oven when you put in the batter, true for cake, and for this recipe, too.

And it came out just fine, in both senses. Meaning it tasted fine, and came out of the pan no trouble.  This is four meals for me, with a salad of fresh tomato alongside. Or it might be that the other bits go to friends, you never know.  And since it's not a quiche, I'm calling it a mushroom farrago.  Which is not a Spanish dance, in case you wondered.

So now there are a couple of helpings of farrago in the freezer for when I'm in a quiche mood, eating, not making.

At this rate I may donate my corningware to the thriftie, since I seem to have defaulted totally to cast iron, and it never lets me down.  The care is minimal, not like those lengthy instructions you get which put you off cast iron.  I just wipe it out after use, if necessary scrub gently with a cloth and kosher salt, wipe again, oil with a pastry brush and olive oil. Done.  Easier than scouring corningware or any other pots, really.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Reading a poet on poetry, and why cats paint

This week I've been slowly taking in Jane Hirshfield's Ten Windows, How Great Poems Transform the World.  Goopy title, but the content is far from goopy. 

It's simply so worth reading and thinking about, and so illuminating in every line.  Each chapter is one of the windows, and the prose is so rich and dense with meaning that you really have to read a chapter then set it aside for a few days before your brain can go on with the next.  She knows and totally grasps a great deal of literature, brings out quotations to illustrate and analyze her point, with such clarity that you have to stay with her. Hugely recommended, though I usually look with a cold eye on books that talk about books.

A lot of lit crit is so literal, or dense in the unintelligible sense,  and dry and oh dear, why bother, just written for academic advancement, nothing to do with the advancement of understanding and effects of great literature, and writers of the unfortunate semiotic school, I'm lookin atchou!  anyway, I am cautious with this sort of reading, but had read some of Hirshfield's poetry and liked her insights.

So I embarked on this one and so glad I did. She brings a poet's incisiveness and many layered vision to the concepts, and you just accompany her on a ride over and through new ideas, shaped and presented and still open to dispute.  It's like a personal seminar you never want to leave.

As you see, I'm also reading her poems here, so as not to forget to dance with her what brung me here.

On the subject of literary and of fine art analysis, I do have a very sceptical approach, except  for such tours de force as Why Cats Paint, which is one of the most full-on hysterically funny treatises on the painting exploits of cats, complete with works, analysis, and footnotes and references.  

It should come with a warning sticker to those literal folk who try to read it as serious art history of the zoological kind, and think it's going to be about elephants and chimpanzees and all that, playing with color and paper, all very nice.  But that's not what this is. 

It's a penetrating sendup of art criticism, wonderfully skewering the solemn writings of solemn white males discussing the work of other solemn white males.  And gets funnier and funnier until everything in the universe seems funny.  

Do look at it, particularly if you've been stuffed with Gombrich and Pevsner and all that canon.  Or even if you haven't.  Real artists, as opposed to wannabes and to people who write about them, usually have a terrific sense of humor and ability to see themselves as basically comic figures.  It's no coincidence that a lot of them have cats as studio companions!  Life's a banquet, not an essay to be written, after all.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Thai basil pasta new idea, and hummer in tree

Today, after very successful doctor's visit, always so nice to hear there's no news after being prodded and quizzed and counted and generally detailed, I noticed that the hummingbird appears to be moving in.  

I saw her this morning while I was tying up the rose that got all awry in the wind and rain, and then this afternoon she was positively a pest.  In the cherry tree, fiercely driving off the chickadees who were under the impression it was their tree, and even a wren and a tufted titmouse, both doughty warriors in their own right.

And divebombing the lantana. I tried, with very modest success to get pix as she rested in the cherry tree at intervals. I suppose to her a couple of seconds is a nice long nap, but I doubt if you can spot her in the foliage.  Look bang in the middle, against the sunlit bit. She's facing right, if that helps!

No zoom capability, camera, not hummer, that is.  But she's definitely a fixture around here, and starting to demand her rights. And I notice that the more I watch her, the bigger the other birds suddenly appear.

Later in the afternoon, as I was wondering what might be on the dinner menu, a friend from down the street who's moving back to India suddenly showed up to unload some art supplies from her daughter, and a pot of Thai basil. Plus a basket of little cherry tomatoes.

The Thai basil is quite different from my other basil, and has a lot of seeds in the making, which I will save for next year, since it's really great, a bit licoricy in flavor, and wonderful.

So that settled supper. I made a little pasta dish, sauce from butter and olive oil, with a big dash of that lemon zest I put in the freezer months ago and am still using, plus a blurt of lemon juice, tomatoes halved, about a dozen leaves of basil, minced with the pizza cutter. Dash of kosher salt.  All cooked down gently while the pasta cooked.  And gosh it was good. This is a keeper.  I bless Lakshmi for the pot of basil, and the seeds which will ensure next year's crop, too.  Just tossed the sauce with the pasta, done.

You know how if something is really very good, very aromatic, you don't need much to be satisfied? this is one of those pasta dishes. I have enough for tomorrow too, and will definitely feed this to Handsome Son at some point.  I find that if food is just okay, you tend to eat more to get satisfied, or, as my Uncle George used to say, gosh, this is awful, I'll be glad when I've had enough!

I find the same with homebaked bread. One slice satisfies as much as several of that air-laden shop stuff, no matter how virtuous the label.

Anyway, do try this sauce, it's really good. But the secret is the combo of Thai basil and lemon, I think. I had no cheese in the house to sprinkle over it, but it worked fine anyway.

This was one of those suppers that reminds me of Miss Read, eating a simple meal on her lap while reading, to the shock and horror of her cleaning lady.  I enjoyed this dish on my lap (note the apron made from an upcycled shirt), while reading my Twitter feed.

This evening it's on to Jeeves and a pot of coffee, and a piece of banana and walnut bread.   Also I am looking forward to using my new cast iron square baking pan, perfect for cake and bread shapes, since the cakes I've done in the cast iron skillets have gone over very well.  May as well use a pan designed for the purpose.

Honestly what could make a better day than all the good things that came my way today?   zippedeedoodah, etc.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The patio chez Boud, miniature wildlife center!

There's no end of activity out there, every afternoon. Today several chickadees, then a mourning dove taking a bath, chased off by a Carolina wren who wanted a drink, then a goldfinch watching the action. Cardinals playing around the planters on the fence. 

And this morning I had tied up the sedum that was knocked flat in the recent huge rains and in less than an hour it's become tufted titmouse central, half a dozen birds doing tricks on the stakes, fighting and arguing and shoving.  My camera is not up to the action, so my words have to do.

Ceramic bird on one side of bath, real bird on the other!

On the deck, undeterred, a baby rabbit demonstrates why I haven't had any results from the seeds I planted on the edge of the deck, just handy for his mouth.

About now is when the  hummingbirds might be seen on the lantana.  I notice that between the hummers and the wrens, there's a wonderful shortage of squirrels.  Probably no match for the birds, and know better than to challenge them. An irritated wren can see off a squirrel before he knows what's up.  Astonishing how active all the wildlife is despite the heat and humidity, higher this year than ever, we are told.

And bang on the nose, at four o clock, even as I typed that, the hummer showed up and is working over the lantanas with great energy. And now she's resting in my cherry tree, but I have no hope of a picture.  Three seconds is a long nap for her.

Indoors, lovely late summer lunch of mostly local food, except that the dates are from California, this not being date country.  Mesclun dressed with homemade vinegar, with olive oil.

And, totally disregarding the madness outside, Marigold opened her beauty parlor and gave Duncan a great grooming and massage.  He's twice her size, so this is quite a job, which he's happy to let her do.

A couple of short stints outside in the garden demonstrated to me that today is just too humid and hot for me to work with, so I reluctantly am staying home.  Tomorrow is supposed to be less torrid.  But there's no shortage of entertainment anyway.