Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The glass pans earn their keep

Late July, height of the farmshare season, needing ingenuity to make meals of veggies as well as prep and freeze them, to keep up with the supply.  Roasting is a great way to do this, particularly since I've been using balsamic vinegar to sort of sprinkle over.

And the salt potatoes I learned from Deborah Madison's book on farmmarkets, redskins boiled with a ton of seasalt, took their place in this dish. I had Handsome Son come to dinner the other night, and help me eat the zucchini quiche with a big side of roasted potatoes, squash, onions and corn, and the rest of the frozen lima beans from an Ottolenghi recipe.  

The corn went in the dish raw, but I steamed the others, and boiled the potatoes in the saltwater.  Tossed the veggies in a mixture of olive oil, seasonings, black cherry balsamic vinegar.  Roasted them at 475F for about 45 minutes.

Dessert was a peach crumble, fresh farm peaches, done the way Rose Levy Beranbaum does them in her Bible of pies and cakes, this month's Bite Club selection being desserts. 

And HS pronounced the potatoes great, were there any more, the squash okay, the quiche hm, is there any  ketchup.  But the peach crumble vanished in short order.

The different way Beranbaum does the fruit is to macerate them for a while in sugar, drain off the juices to make a reduction, while mixing the drained fruit with a mix of spices and cornstarch, mainly ginger and cinnamon.  Then the reduced liquid goes back on the fruit and into the pie dish.  I didn't want to make the fancy pastry shapes for the top, so I used Martha's old standby oat crumble, and very good it was.  Not too juicy, but very flavory.

This week there were, among other exciting things, peaches and peppers and corn,  berries in the farmshare -- farmer explained apologetically that they ran out of cherry tomatoes the previous day, and had to sub with berries.  NO problem here with that!

So here's a berry and Granny Smith apple crumble, as per Beranbaum, using ginger and cinnamon, and the crumble part as per Martha, using oatmeal and ground oats.  

This is the kind of thing that's making me lean toward investing in a second little freezer for the kitchen, so I can have this sort of thing in the winter.

Since we are in a heatwave, with those heat index things zooming past 100F there are those who might question the sanity of a person who bakes on such a day, but I had to use the fresh fruit, and well, I was just needing activity indoors.

I finished the window sail for my neighbor, who came over last night to see, and was mad with joy, big hugs and thanks and it went down well.  His house is in an uproar, with wiring and tiling and workmen all over, so he asked me to hold onto the sail for the moment until the dust settles, literally.  I'll post a pic when it's installed.

And the dyeing is moving on, with black walnut dye on what was linen pants and will be a linen skirt with pockets, but that adventure's in Art the Beautiful,  here

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Squirrel v. Boud, Boud v. Zucchini 6WS

Another chapter in my long running, mostly failing, saga, with my clever little opponents, the squirrels.  When I was doing all the dyeing back there in Art the Beautiful, I mentioned black walnut dye.  And how we have black walnut trees out back, and how I've made totally indelible ink and dye from them, beautiful brown.

The squirrels also love the black walnuts, and can open and eat them.  This puts them ahead of humans, whose best best for cracking black walnuts is as follows: go to a neighbor's driveway, scatter down your black walnuts in their shells, put a big board or door over them, drive back and forth in your car over the board. Result:  opened and pulverized nuts, permanent stain on neighbor's driveway, suggest they refinish it all to match.  Don't try this at home, folks, you'll ruin your own driveway.

The squirrels just casually pick  up black walnuts and bite holes in them.

Alas, they also digest them, as I just found out.  Came home the other day, sank gratefully into the lounge chair on the patio, reading and dozing, long day, and when I went to bed found that I had some brown oily stains on the sitting-down area of my best linen pants.  Oh.  Ran over in my mind where I had sat all day, been in a number of places, but none of them had oilstains.  Next morning I went out and checked the lounge chair and found a little patch of brown oily stuff, gah. Wiped it up, easy to do off plastic, not so much off linen.

And still not knowing what it was, applied every stain lifter known to man or Boud to remove the stain.  The pants are now lovely and clean and the stain is forever.  

That's when I recognized what it was.  Some dear little squirrel after a nice meal of black walnuts, probably eaten on top of my fence, favorite squirrel picnic spot,  had, um, deposited the results on my chair...

Sooooo, unless I can figure out a way to rescue the pants -- no the stains are not in a place I want to decorate with embroidery (!)-- perhaps I have to dye them with black walnut.  

Anyway, short of that it's squirrels 1 Boud 0.  Again.

But on the good side, since the zucchini are coming in like maniacs now we're in late July, I found another way of using some:  a quiche.  This is a straight swipe from Diane's crustless spinach quiche, except I used shredded zucchini instead, and it worked a treat.  

Seen here in the cast iron pan in which I'd sauted the onions and garlic, stirred in the zucchini, then added in the seasoned eggs and grated cheese, all on top of the stove, and then transferred the pan to the hot oven. And sprinkled over some leftover crumbs from a batch of hot biscuits.  After it cooled, I sliced and moved the pie to a pie plate, since I can't be putting the pan in the refrigerator until the pie's finished.

So on the Side of Good, it's Zucchini 0, Boud 1. 

It all comes out even in the end.  Like the joke about the judge who reflects, well, some times I give a poor guy twenty years and really should have made it less, then sometimes I give a guy one year and it should have been more.  But it all averages out!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

More cheapo home improvements, the kind you won't find in the glossy mags

Since glossy mags are all about advertising and selling lovely products, usually wildly expensive ones, they don't cover much if anything in the way of the sort of totally cheap, very satisfying diy I do everywhere I live.  Partly it's because I've always had a limited income, but mainly because it's so fun to do a thing you invented and have it work.  
Over in Art the Beautiful you'll see a kitchen cabinet door in its new life (ages ago in here I entertained suggestions for how to use two little doors I removed from the kitchen, and dogonart swept the pool with the rolling plant stand idea, which I still have and use. That left me with one door).  See here:  Tablet weaving technicalia

Anyway, this post is not about doors, and you may wonder why I'm banging on about them, then, but it's because I'm making a point in my confused and undirected way.  Which is that you don't have to spend a ton if you can think around it. And it's more fun.

Soooooo, finally to the point: my attic fan, which is set in the roof, was an aftermarket thing, when the HOA years ago replaced all our roofs completely, meaning down to the rafters, all open.  

And the board had a very good idea, a contract to let anyone buy an installed attic fan at a group price, easy to install while the roof was open, no need to pierce anything and compromise the tightness of the roof.  So we jumped at it and have been pleased we did.  Once the roofs were on, nobody else could do it, can't punch a hole in your communally owned roof, you know.

However, the contractors never claimed to be Einstein, nor to realize that it would be more useful to have a register in the ceiling below the fan to allow house air to blow out there, too, not just keep the interior of the roof cooled.  And they put in place a mansized panel, see below:

 18 x 22, nice to get through the opening and work, and they did put a molding, but there is no sign of any ventilation as you see.  

Soooooo, when I got the fan motor replaced by kind friend yesterday, I figured out a way of handling this situation, since without benefit of fan open to the house, the third floor is unusable in July.  I used to just lift out the panel and leave it open, but after I found a dead squirrel, and had fiber glass shreds falling on me, I rethought that notion, not wanting to invite s or fb into my studio.  

Research and conferring with my friends at Smith's Hardware in Princeton Shopping Center, they deserve the plug, showed that there is nothing manufactured on the market in the way of metal registers big enough for this opening.

So I came up with a picture frame I found in the studio among my frame debris, about the right size.  Bought some aluminum screening  from Smiths, cut it to fit, stapled it on, duct taped all the jaggy edges on the back, exactly like stretching a canvas, and installed it yesterday in place of the solid panel.  Installed sounds very posh for climbed up, slid it in and climbed down again.  The solid panel will go in again at the end of summer, because it's insulated and is good in the winter for that purpose. 

Bloated with pride over this triumph.  Cost of total venture: $8 for roll of screening which can be shared around. If I want to hide the fairly visible fan up there, I can add a layer of screening (Smith suggestion when I explained my plan).  Easy to do if I decide to.

But it's a workplace, not a living room, and I don't mind an industrial effect.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Bee on Daisy. Then a thunderstorm 6WS

Bee sitting for a long time on this daisy flower. 

 Too cool and damp for him to get liftoff, I think.  But a great chance for me to get a pic. Shortly after this, it went pitch dark and we had a large and noisy thunderstorm, which saved me from watering plants today. Again.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Locavoriana, hot meal in midsummer

About this time of year I get so tired of cool food, and summer dishes and all that magaziney deal, and I long for a hot dinner. So today, since the temps are moderate and the humidity likewise, I did a lovely veggie and sausage bake, celebrating the farmshare and the local farmers' market.

Chicken sausage flavored with tarragon and other spices, from the Griggstown Farm people at the local farm market, expensive and totally worth it.  You can really skin these sausage, made by them, and make them into meatballs or patties or whatever you like.  Or, as here, into little chunks put into the baking dish with your veggies to flavor everything.

Zucchini from the farm, mad hot onion tops from the farm,cilantro bought locally, mushrooms remaining from Kennet Square splurge at the farmers' market, and frozen for such a use as today.  Big sprigs of sage from my patio laid on top to be removed at the end.  Hot red peppers from local store, not sure where they grew, but not far, I think.

And when I served this seriously hot and spicy dish, some mashed potatoes were the calming principle of the plate.  

Three dinners from this one cooking.

For my Bite Club, I tried a few dishes from Deborah Madison, the cookbook current pick, including a fig and ginger jam and they'll be lucky if there's any left to share by then.  And salted boiled potatoes: redskins boiled with a TON of salt, then drained, and they are wonderful with no further ado.  Also yellow squash sauteed with a handful of herbs, not a recipe, really, more of a procedure.  None of these is very picturesque, hence no pix.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Rose Golden brings on her firstborn!

Taken in pouring rain, juggling an umbrella and a tablet, here's rather washed out pic of Rose Golden's first rose!  much yellower than you see here, but the contrast with the wet fence, beautiful in rl, is hard for the camera to take, despite all my adjustments.  

We are so proud!  In fact we will entertain name suggestions for this little rose!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Help identify this moth, dear blogistas

I found this moth, well, half a moth, on the sidewalk during my evening walk, and brought it home to identify.  I'm assuming it's a moth because it has a furry area near the head, or where the head was before it fell afoul of a bird or something.

I wonder, is this a clouded underwing?  if you know, please chime in.  I made two pix, one of what was probably the upper wing, 

one of the underside, 

this being much more colorful, and likely to be the underwing, which keeps the colors concealed unless in danger.  As far as I can tell, without being able to stretch out the wings without damage, it's probably about 2. or 2.5 inches across when in action.

Anyway, here's the result of my nature walk, and I would appreciate expert insight on this.  I have a couple of other moths and butterflies found similarly and identified, resting in the appropriate pages of my moth book, and this one will too, once I establish what is the right page!   We have so many species of deciduous and evergreen trees around here that you might find practically anything.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Sunday Lunch in July, perfect!

Lunch today was roasted vegetables, zucchini and onions from the farm, plus carrots, with sprigs of rosemary and a couple of sprigs of dill, plus a pinch of spice mixture from Ottolenghi.  Seen here before going into the oven, 350 F for about an hour.

The dill is a foster plant, staying with me while her parents are away, and having a good time with my herbs, flourishing in fact.

Dessert zucchini bread, zucchini from friend's garden, made with sliced almonds and chopped walnuts, wholewheat and oat flour, top is plain yogurt, raspberries from the farm and a large pinch of brown sugar.

This afternoon I'm invited to two art openings, one further away, one near.  Guess which I might be found at..and I'll do pix if I make it there, because it's an exciting show of felted art which I've seen and liked.  Great fun for a summer event.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

From wwweaving to the ww web 6WS

I suddenly thought it would be good to learn to make videos and upload them, and to see if the equipment I have could do it, so I spent part of very late last night, in the throes of an allergic eye attack, and needing some distraction, finding my old digi camera and remembering it had a movie function.  

Also testing to see how to use the camera on my laptop.  This only makes a talking-head kind of thing, not interesting to the viewer unless you're selling something. 

Your humble writer cracking up at her own image on the computer cam.  Picture taken with tablet seen there, sent to email, uploaded to thumbdrive, downloaded to here.  Quite a hike. The artwork in the background was exhibited a couple of years ago, and now occupies this guest room.

In order to save the talking head thing I did, very dull stuff, I had to do all kinds of obstacle jumping, which I did in case I ever want to save anything.  Haven't managed to save anything, but I have the function set up.  I think.
Maybe if I want to hold items up to show them to the camera, needing both hands free, that camera would be useful.  But for the moment the digi camera was the choice.

And I made two tiny videos panning around the bedroom (I used to work in tv, not as a producer, but related to them, so moving a camera isn't such a mystery), and with sound.  Also got my toes in the frame by accident, and recorded a burbling sound,talking to myself,  such snappy dialog as oh, I wonder if this will work, oops got my toes. And so on.

And this morning to my astonishment, was able to upload them. It takes a long time to upload video, but it got there. And I could open and watch them and admire my toes.

 But there they stick until I figure out how to get them to transfer to my blog, which my system doesn't want to do, even with QuickTime enabled. In fact the photo software crashed, but never mind, I'm much further on than I was last night, when I was musing with Handsome Son about the need to at least try out video.

I'd like to have a bit of moompitcha about my garden, that kind of thing, the Preserve, the Island.  Anyway, maybe that will come to pass. And maybe I'll just have a lovely personal collection on my computer that won't agree to go anywhere!

Considering the great age of the camera and the operator, I'm very impressed about how far I came.  Particularly since yesterday morning I had the cook's own job just getting my computer to work at all, many crashes, many reuploads and reinstalls later it seems to be back in good operation.  After the struggles with the weaving, I had a titanic struggle getting the blogpost posted.

I think I'll do a bit of cardweaving, just to come back to tactile work.  And to earth!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Gasman Cometh and Duncan watcheth

I've been having a little drama with the power company over a misreading of my meter, to wit, in May the reader entered it on my account with 100 therms too many, which is so far beyond my monthly usage as to be impossible, and I reread the meter, submitted my reading and they agreed to accept it.  Then they sent an assessed reading for June, nearer my usage but still 100 therms too many.

Then they sent a letter saying the meter was not registering correctly (!) and they would replace it.  I expect someone had finally looked at my billing history and found that about ten therms total is more like my monthly usage.  Fine by me, since the replacement is the kind you can scan, no hoping the meter reader man would read it correctly then battling when he doesn't. Same mistake same month last year.  Translation: our meter reader is a glackity guy who is not registering correctly.

So a very nice man arrived, hours ahead of schedule, luckily I was home anyway, and in no time at all removed the old ugly meter, replaced it with a fetching modern one with a dial you can see by digits, scannable, and read the old one for me, confirming that I had my numbers right.  And checked to be sure all the appliances were back in working order. Yay.  And then painted the whole thing to match the surrounds.

Of course Duncan watched the whole thing closely to make sure he did a good job.  I expect he'll inspect the next bill, too, to see what they did for me there.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Happy Fourth All! From the Dolliflowers 6WS

The Dollivers greet you on a rainy cool Fourth of July, and wish you a great day, whether or not you celebrate, from their new reviewing stand in the flower boxes.  

 View from the cheap seats behind the Ds

Their view, from the royal boxes.

Elton declined to bring his piano out in the rain, so we had to hum along America the Beautiful, Oh You Beautiful Doll, and April Showers, a bit out of season, but the weather doesn't think so.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Little Friend Shows up in the Garden Again

I love praying mantises, and often find one or more on my plants, devouring bugs for me at this time of year. This year it's quite a small guy, but none the less welcome.  See him there, giving us his better profile?

I find that the plural of mantis is mantises, how disappointing. I was hoping to find a more exotic one, such as mantok, or mantim, or maybe mantids.  Other languages have more interesting plurals.

When Handsome Son was a little guy, we sent away for a nest or chrysalis or something of praying mantises, and we had them hatching all over the vegetable garden, lovely.  Often we'd see a couple of babies hanging onto the back door screen, where they were quite able to withstand even high winds.  For years after, their offspring attended to bugs in the garden, very obligingly.

I love all the insects I ever met, because their architecture is so stunning.  Some really good artist made them..even the Asian stinkbugs have a wonderful sculptural shape.  

I realize that it's not everyone who gets excited about things like this.  Such as the friend who looked at me pityingly the other day when I pointed out a lovely miniature colony of fungi on the crossbar of my garden gate. 

You do realize, he said that this means it's rotting, no?  He's a contractor in real life, so fungi and that sort of thing on wood are not the same attractive items as they are to me, as I look at them through a magnifier!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Fireworks tonight, meanwhile flowers today

Fireworks tonight, weather permitting, but flowers today anyway


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Life is Sweet, yes!

Just as the card says, Life is Sweet!  yes, when there are friends like Asha in it!  What a lovely surprise package arrived today, and thank you so much!

Two vintage cross stitch mags, one new embroidery hoop just right for the smaller motifs I'm getting into, and a lovely handknit cowl in delicious colors and the softest of yarn.  My neck always feels drafty, so this will be wonderful when the cooler days come, and it will get a lot of mileage with me!  

Thank you, Asha, always such a deft touch with what will be just the ticket. You did it again! There's always a jolt of excitement when I see your writing on a parcel.  My postie laughed when she saw me light up as she handed it to me!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

After the rain and other developments

After a massive night of driving rain and wind and of sudden allergic reaction brought on by them, I suppose, up most of the night attempting to soothe the maddening itching and swelling and blurring of eyes, sure sign molds are swirling around, anyway, the weather and I calmed down this morning a bit, and I was able to get out and see what nature had wrought.

Not a lot as far as the plants were concerned, just everyone draped in diamonds in the sunshine.

 Click to see us all better

Heather, back there you will see a copper bird feeder. Since the HOA banned bird feeding, because of the appearance of an innocent little country rat or two after the corn in the nearby fields was chopped, and the subsequent hysteria of city folks now living here who are convinced that all rats are from the subways and carry nameless disease (!), anyway, the feeder is now resting among the plants and lending a lot of tone to the landscape out there.  Copper against the foliage looks great in all weathers.

And indoors, remember the little cranberry scoop?  the two little dolls migrated from upstairs where they found the bears a bit too quiet for their taste, and took up their station on top of the bookcase.  

Then they spotted the scoop and found it was a perfect antique settle just for them.  So it's now mounted on the wall, and they can survey the whole place, as nosy as cats, with no fear of being swiped off there accidentally.  

They prefer to be separate from the doll polloi, since as they say, WE have cashmere sweaters and silk hair and handmade tatted blouses.  And they might lose them in a hurry if the DOTUS sees them.


Saturday, June 27, 2015

Ah, six words won't do it! 6WS

This has been one of those weeks where huge events of all kinds have been crashing in on top of one another.  

Terrible assault on the congregation at prayer in a black church, then three huge legal victories at the Supreme level, in housing, directly affecting minorities, and health care, affecting everyone too young for Medicare, and marriage equality, affecting another marginalized group.  

The President addressing the joy of the LGBT population and immediately leaving the White House  to give a eulogy for the pastor of the attacked church.  The Confederate flag finally being consigned to the museums.   Hardly time for anyone in the nation to catch a breath between tragedy and triumph.

Then Midsummer's Day, the earth turning on its axis toward a new season, and today Handsome Partner's birthday.  Handsome Son and I celebrate him on this day, since he died on HS birthday in August, so we keep that day for HS.  I think it's better to remember people on their birthdays rather than when they left us.

Friday, June 26, 2015

But lunch still has to happen, even in stirring times!

Chop wood, carry water, cook beets!  Still getting my breath back from a couple of stunningly right SCOTUS decisions this week, I came down to earth with Deborah Madison and a beet recipe.  

Full disclosure: I don't like beets, but since they were in my farmshare I felt obliged to at least try a recipe.  

And found to my surprise that I like them very much done this way, with pesto, and red onions and crushed walnuts scattered on, or atop, as recipe writers love to say. The steamed greens form a bed for the roots and the onions. This is really a side dish, but I made part of it my lunch.  And I subbed as usual, walnuts for pine nuts, and rosemary pesto for the marjoram she uses but I don't have any of.

And since the steaming water and the skins were bright red I thought I'd see if they could make a good fabric dye.  I know you can use beets but usually I think you cook them much longer and you use the parts I ate!  

See Art the Beautiful for more on

Marriage Equality is here at last

Today's decision by SCOTUS brings one more step to equal protection and civil rights to the US.  At last. Cheers to blogistas who have worked and hoped for this day, even though it seemed very far off a few years ago.  And cheers to all of us who think we should all be protected no matter who we are or who we love.  More freedom for one group is more for us all.

What a week in the US!  Legal triumphs on three fronts: civil rights, housing protection and healthcare all handed down in a couple of days.

Please bear with me if you took the pic I used here. I couldn't find a maker's name but I will credit you promptly if you let me know.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Deborah Madison and the farmshare

Before we get to lunch and Deborah Madison and her farmer's market book of recipes today, just a nod to the SCOTUS for a wise decision this morning on the ACA.  And for poor old Scalia in such a rage that, in his dissent, he entered the expression SCOTUS for the first time in history into the proceedings of the Supreme Court!  

What a person might be remembered for.  Meanwhile, all the people scared to death their health insurance might be gutted or their subsidy vanish, pushing their premiums to the stratosphere, are now exhaling all over the US. And they won't care if it's called the ACA or SCOTUSCARE.

Anyway, here goes with the current LOTUS (lunch of the United States, that is, and the Dollivers are now campaigning to be known as  DOTUS) 

This is called Elixir of Green Pea Soup or something.  Well, that told me right off it was pretty complex.  And in the end calls for a dab of truffle oil!  well, not having any truffle oil about me at the moment I skipped that bit, but did use my current crop of farmshare shell peas as well as the edible pod peas, to create this. 

Very delicate and lovely flavor, in fact worth the trouble. Especially since peas have a short season.  Enough for two large bowls.

Then on to using the first of the summer squash, just fried to golden, then served with a lovely handful of freshpicked herbs, basil, parsley.  You can't really go wrong with summer squash, and the color is so lovely, perfect summer pastel!  summer squash doesn't need a recipe, really, like a lot of farmfresh produce. Just the simplest way of cooking is fine.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Midsummer's Day or First Day of Summer, which is it?

I ask because I wonder which traditions are in collision here.  I'd much rather think of it as the first day of summer, rather than the middle, with summer half over before I've even got into it yet, but I have no doubt knowledgeable blogistas will be able to explain it all. Probably something about having two seasons long ago.

Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, very local eating yesterday now that the Ottolenghi frenzy has abated, with a nice two egg asparagus omelette, eggs from Griggs Farm Market, asparagus from farmshare, a handful of herbs picked from the patio, involving tarragon, parsley, oregano, peppermint and lemon balm.  

Then a little salad of lettuce from a container on the patio, part of farmshare a few weeks back, with the last of the cherry harvest, and a spritz of champagne vinegar. Total locavore smugness reigns.

Kitty Marigold threw me into a scare yesterday, refusing to eat for two days, just looking at the food then sort of turning her head. She's probably in early kidney failure, old cat now, and her coat is starting to fail, she's peeing and drinking a lot more, and I was very dismayed when she wouldn't eat, a first for her in her life.  Up to now she's been playing and wrestling with Duncan, and eating fine, which are my criteria for a happy cat, no matter what her actual health situation.

But the not eating, and looking as if everything tastes bad was the beginning of the end for dear Boud, my late lovely kitty who gave me my screen nameSo I started making sad little plans, and mentally writing her life tribute, and deciding how long to wait.

Then this morning Marigold suddenly decided she was hungry after all, scoffed her breakfast down before Duncan could get it, and I feel much better.  The plans are still in place, but they're on hold for the moment.  I wonder if she read my mind and thought, hey, not so fast.

Marigold savaging a toy, more usual activity.

Likewise Rosie Golden, my golden showers rose which totally failed to thrive, looked like dead sticks, was replaced by the growers, replacement totally ftt, too, looked like ds, too, they sent me a refund many weeks ago, and I was about to dig it out and toss it, when suddenly two days ago she put out leaves! 

 I think the threat of being tossed woke her up and she's now set to work to grow.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Life's a --saucer of cherry jam! 6WS

So the second big cherry harvest came in, and I had enough to fill a saucer, which I made into a very tart, perfectly wonderful, jam.  Just sugar, almond essence and the cherries. I think they must have their own pectin, because it jelled up fine.

And this is today's breakfast: homemade homegrown cherry jam on hot biscuit made with wholewheat, lentil and almond flours.  Which made a surprisingly terrific combo.  I wonder if it was the almond flour and the essence in the jam, echoing, though you couldn't really detect either of them.

Anyway, it struck me as a great metaphor for life, and for art, come to that -- a short but intensely wonderful and colorful experience.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Finishing off the last of the puff pastry

I had just a bit of puff pastry left in the freezer from the broccoli gorgonzola pie caper, and today was the day to make a little something.  

Chicken and mozzarella spicy sausage from Griggs' Farm at the WW Farmers' Market in the freezer, too, so this made a great combo.  These are probably made from the chickens who gave us the eggs at the market recently. Or their relatives, I suppose. I doubt if I'd buy sausage from anywhere else, since these guys are from scratch makers (chicken pun there..).  Sausage rolls.

I will probably never again buy puff pastry, but this really was a treat.  Two meals' worth.  I just skinned the sausage, and put a spoonful on each strip of pastry, rolled, sealed and that was it. Two ingredients.  Nice grainy mustard to go with.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Bite Club's last stab at Ottolenghi

Last night's meeting was a great feast of dishes, all adventurous, all good, and we all applauded one another's work!  my contribution was marinated mushrooms with walnuts and tahini sauce, from Plenty.  

I used that supply of mushrooms I splurged on at the recent Farmer's Market,  a bag of mixed ones, including oysters which I'd never had.  The little dish on the left is fresh picked herbs, oregano and parsley, and the dish on the right is the sauce.  You put your helping of the mushroom/bean/walnut mix on your plate, sauce on top, pinch of herbs on top of that.

I did sub out tahini, which I don't like, from the sauce, and used half and half almond butter and peanut butter, but other than that, I was pretty good, even to shelling all the beans, what a long time it took, very meditative.  And it went over quite well.

After eating solidly for the entire club meeting, about ten different dishes to sample, all good, I came home with a little bag of sumac, from a generous cook, since I had not been able to find it.  And we're moving on next month to Deborah Madison, of whom I'd never heard, well, I've hardly heard of anyone in the food world, so this will be fun to discover.

But Ottolenghi will definitely be a big part of my menus from now on.

Then this morning it was Harvest Time for the Cherries.  

This puts things in perspective wrt my agricultural exploits, when you see this entire harvest from the bushes on the patio. About two dozen. You know you have a small output when you can count it by units. There are more ripening, though.  At least a dozen more! They're ripe but sour, so I think I'll see if I can make a little preserve with them. Toy jam!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Parva Carta and Bloomsday

Today being the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, Great Charter, where King John was pretty much forced at swordpoint to allow as how he was not all that, the Dollivers took note.  And they made unkind comparisons to Boud and how she's not all that, either, and demanded their own Magna Carta, bill of rights.

Which became in the course of heated discussion, the Parva Carta, since as Boud pointed out, the Ds are small, though she tactfully omitted any reference to their egos, so their charter ought to be The Small One, too.  And, with any luck, their demands, too.

Nothing daunted, they whipped out their first demand, and said there will be more:  here they want this Japanese style room to move into, except big enough for all the Ds and the Tinies and Elton.  

Notwithstanding my protest that this is a priceless art treasure, from the Thorne Collection in the Chicago Art Institute, which I recommend highly if you're in Chicago any time, anyway, they insisted that they Need It.  They bet any money the Charter included nice housing for all.  And jewelry for them, too, even if they aren't barons.  Also expeditions, very few of them lately.

And sticking to the housing situation, once delivery is made, they will need, immediately,  new outfits to wear in it for many  photo ops.  I compromised with one photo op of all of them plus the picture of the room of their dreams, and vague plans about putting the other requests into action. 

Which is largely what happened to parts of the Magna Carta, come to think of it, considering how much of it became law in many countries eventually, and how many of the laws are daily disregarded by people who know better.

Oh well.  And tomorrow's Bloomsday, too. For some blogistas, it's already here.  If you can tolerate hearing about this yet again, go here

And just think what Joyce would have made of this conjunction today into tomorrow, Bloom meandering about and musing on it and bringing in all kinds of literary references and indecipherable puns..he'd have to start now to get all his thinking done in time.

Elton was a bit baffled by the history and literature flying around this morning, so he played us out with In Dublin's Fair City, which was a pretty good stab at Ulysses, when you think of it.

But he couldn't think of a Runnymede song, so he played Drink, Drink, Drink from the Student Prince, near enough, he thought.  A joycean pun on  runny mead, he explained.  This dog is getting too smart for his sweater.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Homing Instinct -- where was mine? 6WS

A recent comment from a very interesting and perceptive friend I haven't been around for a while, reminded me of this : we aren't all born on the part of the planet where we belong. She commented, in a slightly different context, on how she and her husband have different comfort levels in different states, and I remembered feeling alien in some places, totally at home in others.

In the  UK, well, to a supposed Northerner,  even most of the north is alien to me, except for a small part of the Yorkshire dales.  I never in all my growing up there ever felt I belonged.  Partly it was social -- wrong class, wrong religion, wrong region, wrong gender, very good student coming from a background which didn't seem to promise that.  Though my entire family was a bunch of high achievers, huge props to our parents who left school at 12, people did in those days in that section of society, in that religion, in that region.  

And partly it was the climate which was killing me, seriously.  I was a research subject when I was an undergraduate for a bunch of newly minted doctors doing a residency at a research hospital in the city. One of them, he was very young, not used to the impact of a doctor's comments to a patient, which were better made to his colleagues, said, well you're of special interest since you're unlikely to live beyond 30 in this climate!  I guess he thought he'd better write fast.

But I found I felt more at home in France where I went to work as an au pair as a teen,  than I ever did in the UK.  And not at home at all for one minute in Canada where I spent a summer with family.  And at home totally and forever in the US, where we knew nobody and started totally from scratch.  Go figure!  But it's not perhaps so surprising since some of my family did the same thing, landing in New York in the 1850s and similarly, as far as I knew, never looking back. So perhaps they felt this way, too!

Home, home on the Pond...

The first time I came to New York, it even smelled right!  the sounds were right, the atmosphere a bit too high strung for this introvert, but nonetheless.  Then we were in Wisconsin for a couple of years, career related for Handsome Partner, and was that ever alien corn.

Living, finally, on the eastern seaboard with the ocean on the correct side of the land, and within an hour of my house, not unlike growing up in the northeast of another country a bus ride from the sea (that was the part I liked), I felt finally I'd arrived where I was supposed to be all along.  Never looked back.   

Even though I had to learn all new birds and flowers and how to grow stuff, amazing that I could grow things like tomatoes and corn and pumpkins right outside in the weather! to this northern clime person that continues to be a major miracle. But it feels so right, too.

I've explored quite a bit of the US, largely in the course of business travel where I would tack on a day or two to a trip just to mosey about.  California can never overcome its unfortunate drawback, having the ocean on the wrong side of the land, how can that be?  it's flying in the face of nature!  and I couldn't seem to breathe in Wisconsin, way too far inland, beautiful and clean air, what a treat, but still too much land all around. No edges.

What about you, blogistas?  did you have to move to land in the right place?  are you still looking for your right place? were you born in the right place anyway? are you a wilderness type? a countryside type? city type? mountain type? eclectic I can live anywhere happily type? Please chime in, not necessarily in six words!