Sunday, December 9, 2018

Hot supper for a cold December day

More of that bitter cold grey weather with nothing happening. So when I got home, I did this.

Potato scrubbed and cut into chunks, in a glass pan which was sprayed with olive oil, then layered with shredded Parmesan cheese. Then shake of cayenne, grind of black pepper, biff of seasalt. Put the potato, you've dried the pieces, in firmly,  so they wedge into the cheese layer.

Roast at 400f for 40 minutes. Then take the dish out, rest it on top of the stove and do nothing for five minutes. This lets the cheese set a bit. You separate the potatoes with a spatula, and turn them over to serve so all the lovely crisp side is up. Dab of ketchup.

Like this

Then serve and enjoy. The pic shows one medium spud. It works best if you use glass. That releases the chunks while leaving the crisp crust in place.

If I'd been feeding handsome son, there would have been chicken and other veggies, and the potatoes would be shared. But I just fancied a one item supper. And there it is. I didn't invent this, but I highly recommend it.

Monday, December 3, 2018

Reading, there's always reading

A lot of mental activity in these short days. Curtains drawn soon after four in the afternoon, so outdoor items need to be done by then.

I like to use all the available forms of delivery for my books. Here a book on color, by Kassia St.Clair, not an artist sort of study, broader than that, taking in history, origins, significance of the spectrum. It's physically lovely, with great color printing separating the essays, recommended.

And How we got to now, by  Steven Johnson, on the Kindle, essays on inventions and discoveries that escalated far beyond their original concepts to influence all the life on the planet. Written in conversational style but well researched, you just keep finding stuff out that keeps you going. 

I didn't know the invention of the Gutenberg press led to a quick need for eye glasses, once a lot of people found they were too farsighted to read up close. Didn't matter before they were reading. And so on. A lot of ideas. Some inventions worked out quite differently in use than intended, too. Read it, you'll see.

Then there's Portrait of the Artist, by Joyce, which I have in this ancient paperback edition, and in audio form on my tablet, so I can crochet those meditative little pieces you see there. They are reminding me more and more of bacteria seen on slides. A bit of a slog this time, this not being my favorite Joyce. Less accessible than Dubliners, a whole lot less engrossing than Ulysses. It's a book club choice.

Another book club choice on the Kindle is The Rights of Man by Tom Paine, which I just should read, one of those cornerstone documents that you tend not to get around to. He spends a lot of time and energy snarking at Burke, but finally does some interesting analysis of the French revolution and politics. One point leapt right out at me: his insistence that people must assert not only rights for themselves, but the obligation to make sure everyone else gets their rights, too. Very apropos right now.

Other books in progress too, why read one at a time when you can read a lot..but these are the most worth their energy.

So that's me, improving the shining hour.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Boud vs Squirrels Round 36,578

So tired of obese squirrels swiping all the food, including ripping down and carrying away the feeder. I secure them with hinged split rings so they can't open the cage and carry off the suet. They just take the whole container.

Finally figured out an idea. Repurposed breadboard with hole already drilled, good because drill needs to be recharged. Well, found, and then recharged, but moving right along. First plan was to staple the cage to the board, which ran into a hitch when the heavy duty stapler went MIA. Soooooo duct tape ahoy.

Stay tuned. We'll see if the birds accept this strange new thing. There was a wonderful mass of birds yesterday before the squirrels half inched (rhyming slang for pinched) the feeder. All at once, red bellied woodpecker, Downy woodpecker, chickadees, mourning doves, Carolina wrens, tufted titmice, white throated sparrow bullying the juncoes, bluejays, white and redbreasted nuthatches.. Even saw a flicker at the feeder, very unusual, since they prefer tree stumps rich in insects.

I got carried away and hung a second feeder out front, to see from the kitchen window. No breadboard though.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Bread rolls happened, food talks back

I made a recipe of whole wheat bread rolls, which taste fine and made a nice small meal, toasted with Longhorn Colby melted over.

However they seem to be unhappy about coming out of the hot oven.

Take a look at their facial expressions!  I know yeast bread is alive, but I never had it talk back before. A couple of them look like sharks planning to attack.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The last of the game hen

The game hens were a great idea. Enough to share one on T day, here GH day, some to go home with HS, the rest for picking and snacking. The bones and bits of meat, with the rest of the vegetables and chicken broth, onions thrown in, simmered for about an hour and a half.  Then,  bones amd meat removed, the liquid blended,  made a very good clear soup.

And,  once again, the appearance of the stuffing, now playing the part of croutons. With all the herbs I used for the birds, and the flavoring in the stuffing, this ended up being really good, no further seasoning needed.

Here's tonight's supper, and three more helpings in the freezer. I do like to have soup in the freezer ready for when it's cold and I just came in and can't be pestered to cook

Friday, November 23, 2018

Post- Thanksgiving stuffing for breakfast

Stuffing goes on giving. Fried in olive oil, egg broken over. No need to season, since the stuffing was already herbed and additionally seasoned with homegrown sage.

Good breakfast with English breakfast tea, on a freezing morning.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

More from the Pym file

Deep in a biography of Barbara Pym, by her longtime friend and colleague and excellent writer Hazel Holt. This is so worth reading, both because it disinters a lot of the origins of Pym's characters and settings, and it leads you on to other writers Pym loved, worth seeking out.  It's more interesting, probably because more frank, than Pym's own autobio, which is too reticent to tell you much.

I now have a book on hoopla patiently waiting till they let me in to download it -- nine titles a month is the ration -- by Denton Welch, had never heard of him, he died very young, but was a great writer and a fine painter too. Look him up and you'll see. If Pym recommended him, I'll try him.

 I have my tablet by when reading Holt on Pym because I keep realizing that a lot of her expressions are in fact quotations, usually biblical, and I hadn't picked up on that, not being well versed in the old testament. Tracking these down via tablet also illuminates some of Dorothy Sayers' titles and comments that are taken from the OT.  The legal and Latin references I'm okay with. Sayers too, was of a theological turn of mind.

Anyway, back to Pym, as a character in Heyer comments, yes, I thought we'd be back to her sooner or later. You'll note that the jacket cover is in the same style as the recent paperback Pyms, a nice touch. And I thought Barbara would appreciate the touch of handmade lace under there, too. Ironic.

So once the holiday uproar quiets, or if it's just a weekend where you are, take a look. I'll let you know about Denton Welch when I get to read him.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Thanksgiving Eve on the Boudian calendar

Once again Handsome Son is working Thanksgiving day, so tomorrow is our celebration.

And, since it's good to be a bit ahead of time, even for a group of two, the table is organized. I found a length of felt when I was looking for something else, usual story, so I added it.

 The game hens are semi cooked, to finish tomorrow, the stuffing likewise, and there will be baked potato, and various simple veggie sides.

HS always brings the cheese and bix for starters, an interesting soda to balance the wine, Pinot grigio this time, and the dessert.  Old family tradition!

I'm certainly thankful we're both well and getting along, and we survived most of the year.
And thankful for blogistas out there, who read even when I'm not hearing from you, and other distant friends.


Sunday, November 18, 2018

November 18, 1918 -- November 18, 2018

Today is the hundredth anniversary of my parents' wedding anniversary. Elizabeth Smith married Frederick Ryder on November 18, 1918, in Middlesbrough, Yorkshire, UK. He was finally home from war, having survived the trenches and the battle of the Somme, but severely wounded.

They went on to have nine children and lose three. I, the youngest of the group, and older sister, Irene, whom you know as dogonart online, are the last living.

They left school at twelve and never stopped learning, both great readers, mom an opera fan and a gifted maker, of food, clothing, cake decorating. Both politically knowledgeable and involved. Very little money ever got into the house, hard times, and they left virtually nothing material.

All the family got as much education as they could, before war or work came on, and all had interesting careers all over the globe.

And here's the one item I have from them, the Gresham Comprehensive English Dictionary, which mom bought by installment payments, because education was a priority. She did not have household appliances, despite a large family, when she invested in this in the thirties.

I d say her priorities were right. She would put the occasional family photo in the pages.

And I kept a fern from my sister's wedding bouquet in it, and notes from a brother's self teaching of Russian.

It seemed the right place to keep Handsome Son's newborn footprints and proud father Handsome Partner, then husband's, note on the copy.

I read this book constantly during years of illness as a kid when reading was about all I could do.

So I'd say it's earned its place on the shelf. And my parents more than earned this little tribute today.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The lighting of the ficus 2018

Last winter's experiment with tiny white bulbs was lovely until they gave out after about three weeks. Changing the batteries added about a day to their lifespan.

So this year, bigger lights, plugged in, and the ficus is looking festive.  They have different settings, steady, my preference, slow blink, variegated blink, alternating blink,  insanely rapid drive you nuts blink. Seems to me that LED light are better not constantly switched on and off. And I like a peaceful steady glow over there.

So I'm set.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Chocolate Daisy Bread

This is how posh chefs do it. Fancy names!

It's just a variation on my usual hot biscuits, with less flour, few dark chocolate bits. Flour half and half wheat and ap, less because of a technical issue involving running out of it. Hence the interesting shape. It will break into parts to eat. Baked one minute more than usual. Turned out okay.

Afternoon tea coming up.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Last yellow rose

Frosts are happening now, and the one brave last rose has held up, but now I  think a tropical vacation in the house with begonia and philodendron growing in water is a good idea.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Next year's vegetable garden for Randy

Yesterday's knitting group was show, tell, give, take, and you remember the collection of seeds from friend's sister? I needed to pass them on, and they will be next year's vegetable garden for Randy, our young self-taught crocheter who makes art, is learning to cook and grow his own food. He was so happy!

Nothing to do with knitting and crocheting unless you count connecting with people as part of the deal.

I did keep a couple for my use, and the recipe file thing will be organized in my kitchen.

Everything else went home with Randy.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Exhaling now, at least a bit. Midterms 2018.

It looks as if the Republic will live to fight another day. The work I did, along with hundreds of  others, to gotv and dislodge an entrenched congressman worked. We did it. A good guy will now take that seat. Huge relief and joy. And the House can now put a dead halt on ACA attacks, plundering ss and Medicare to fund the deficit, further tax cuts. All gone. My family can breathe again.

We didn't get everything we wanted, but we will now have proper congressional committees, actually working not endlessly talking about Hillary. All in all, despite Senate losses, enough success to keep us going.

Great public questions and amendments, too, and governorships, at least as important as what goes on in Congress.

So, good day. First one since November 2016. The picture is the Dollivers dressed in suffragette colors in honor of Hillary, and the hope of her election. I finally have the heart to post it.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Curried beanzen rice, voting and helping

Sometimes food doesn't look really photogenic, but it's fine as dinner. Today it's cheap, nutritious, interesting curried beans over brown jasmine rice. The rice is fine, separate grains, but photographed oddly.

I've been following Jack Monroe for years,  brilliant brit food activist, who has known real hardship firsthand, single mom. Witness to parliamentary committees on food and poverty. Multiple cooking world prizewinner, speaker.

She's basically a civic saint. Her latest book, being crowdfunded to donate with food to UK food banks, is Tin Can Cook. It's all about interesting food made out of canned goods you're likely to get at your food bank. The food is interesting even if you can afford food, and I thought I'd try my own take.

This is not from the book, not available in the US, and I think she'd have made it look a lot better. And, it's a long story, but her preferred pronoun is they. I'm saying she here just not to hijack the point of the post.

Anyway, I used a can of kidney beans, and one of great northern, rinsed, simmered, salt, cumin, curry powder, lemon juice, bit of tamarind paste. Scooped out surplus water to freeze for soup, simmer some more. Immersion blender a few seconds.  Served over jasmine rice. A lot better than it looks. And one cup of rice, two cans of beans will make at least three meals. Beans and rice are an ancient pairing giving more complete nutrition in combination than separately.

One other issue is that recycling food cans is  much easier on the environment than frozen food plastic wrappings. This surprised me a bit, having avoided canned goods in general, but now rethinking, since the farmstand seas is almost over.

Also asking you to help your own food bank. I know people working full-time who still need help with food. Over the long run, we need to vote in the US on Tuesday, unless we already did, to put more humane people in power. Short run we can help locally.  And the US is not the only place where there's hardship. We can all do our bit, as they used to say.

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Pumpkin walnut chocolate bread

But it's called bread so I can have it for breakfast. But then there are the spices, so I can have it for afternoon tea. And then it will go a treat with a glass of milk last thing at night. It's an all purpose food.

I used half the little sugar pumpkin I had on the step. The seeds are tossed for the birds, and the other half of the pulp is frozen probably for soup.

I'm glad I got two loaves out of the recipe, because it was labor intensive. Baked the whole pumpkin about an hour in a medium oven to soften the thing enough to cut into it. Then all the flour and eggs and spices and chocolate bits and walnuts and eggs. And the search for a recipe that used real pumpkin. This is from Alton Brown, credit where it's due.  Even the ones that want a can of pumpkin don't tell you how much that is. It wouldn't hurt them to just mention it.

Anyway, fyi, my 5lb sugar pumpkin gave me about six cups of pulp, three in the bread, the rest in the freezer. And a big bloof of seeds outside.

My neighbor is very happy I'm all tied up with baking because he had to go to work leaving the fridge man working nextdoor, and he knows I'll be here anyway to see all's well. He will probably get a slice of the bread in the deal, too. Neighbor, not fridge man.

So this is what happens when you frugally use up the fall decoration for food. Not a bit of bother. Hollow ghostly laughter.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Fruit and nut chocolate, deconstructed

Afternoon snack, naming probably under the influence of Eggshells, brilliant novel by Caitriona Lally.

She's taken over my mind!  Set in Dublin as seen through the mind  of a strange and appealing young woman. Like Joyce in Technicolor. A must read, as they say. Seriously.

That and the latest freecycle from friend's estate, a book of seeds. Some will stay with me, some go to friends. Amazing way of organizing them, compared to my stash of lumpy brown paper bags labeled in faint marker, dropped into a kitchen drawer. She even alphabetized them.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Fall, officially, chez Boud

Bit more gardening before winter, cutting and pulling the last of the Autumn Joy sedum. Noticing new rosettes already forming at the roots. And clearing more pachysandra from around the yellow daisies and the struggling little azalea, which was happy to see daylight again. And tripping over a pot and taking a header, but the ground was so soft after rain no harm done.

Then on the way to toss the debris into the woods, found downed oak branches. So one came home to join the sedum to dry.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

unseasonably icy winds call for putting the oven on.

Bread rolls resulted from today's icy wind. Working outside on the Pachysandra Project,  I thought I'd never get warm again. Baking bread rolls seemed like a good idea.

From this batch two went next door for Gs breakfast tomorrow, one became afternoon snack here, one became a chicken supreme sandwich with prosecco for supper. Dates and almonds to follow.

 Afternoon tea, the fresh roll, wheat and white, split and spread with labneh and lovely roasted garlic butter. Nice change from sweet stuff.

Then next door neighbor G obligingly cut off a long branch from the old cherry tree which has been attacking the roof on windy nights, and hauled it away, while another neighbor was busy with her latest recital of woes.

Which are very real and I'm glad to lend an ear but it was a bit hectic with neighbor G up the tree on my ladder in a high wind with a saw, and neighbor H little dog growling and shouting with anxiety about the situation. I had intended to get him to wait for better weather, but with G to think it is to do it. I am hardly in a position to criticize that approach. So he instantly came over with his Sawzall, great toy, I mean tool, and was done in no time.

The succulents came from his house to their winter quarters over here, and my posh folding chair I use for outdoor artwork in season went into his car for the soccer season. Evidently he is a fixture at the grandchildrens' games. One of them is three, wonder about the level of play on her team.

Now folding my tired hands around my glass of prosecco, and setting up for Season Two of Delicious. It's all go around here. Things move back and forth at a dizzying speed.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Gardening soup and books Part Two

There was no room in part one for the soup and books, so they're here now.

I was presented with a head of celery, a bunch of fresh garlic and other veggies a few days ago, by a friend going away and wanting them to go to a good home.

I made the garlic into lovely roasted garlic butter when I roasted the veg  for Friday's dinner, same temp and time, and scooped out the middles, plus some flavored olive oil and used an old spice jar to store it. You can just spread it with a knife. Big chunk into today's celery soup. Along with boiled redskin potatoes left from the roasting to use now, plus the yogurt whey and asparagus water from the freezer. Chicken broth powder, salt, diced onion, milk powder. several sprigs of fresh thyme.

I blended it just a bit, but kept the texture. The pic is before I took out the thyme and simmered, then blended.And it is really good. I like to have soup around, for when I don't feel like cooking much.

And reading awaited all this activity. Irish writers, Edna O'Brien short stories, and this book obligingly acted as a background for pic of Dorset buttons in my other blog, Beautiful Metaphor.  The Joyce is Portrait of the Artist etc, read before but rereading for next book group meeting.

Food of all kinds today. And season two of Delicious to watch this evening.

Gardening, soup, books not in that exact order

Since the season is winding down, and yes I know there are readers out there already under snow and some just coming into spring, anyway here it's time to Thin the Pachysandra.

It's served the garden well, always a nice bed of green under and around everything. But it does get aggressive and I have to finally get around to pulling some. This side of the path yielded five enormous armloads now strewn about in the woods, where it will create undergrowth for little animals.  It's always more work than you planned on, but there are weeks yet before the weather makes it dodgy.

But, as you see, it's looking barely touched. No danger of overdoing it. Each day I do about one armload, enough pulling and hauling at a time.  There's a newcomer ground vining plant trying to take over. It arrived originally in a planted container, then escaped and went mad. No doubt considered a pest but I love the bright color and its undaunted attitude.  So if it ducks in where the pachysandra was, I'll be quite okay with it. It trails a treat. And as I pull out the ground cover, the wild flowers show up. This is good. And I notice several volunteer Montauk daisies getting along there.

I cut herbs finally, stuffed the last bunch of the year in the freezer, delivered a bag of rosemary across the street to Michael the Contractor and artist and cook. All getting set now. I'm hoping to make space for bulbs, too, along the path. I had planned on moving the herb pots to the patio, but they had put down roots, so I thought I'd leave them and see if they grow again next year. I have saved seeds of both basils.  The thyme and lavender and rosemary are all shrubs, really, not annuals, so they can stay.

This frenzy of activity is partly a result of reading Penelope Lively's Life in the Garden. You really want to run out and do things.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The makings of a dinner with Handsome Son, and a brave volunteer

The planets being in the right configuration, Handsome Son is free for dinner on a night when I have time and energy to do something about it. So here's the makings. 

Chicken breasts rolled with ham and cheese, eggwash and chickpea crumbs, then roasted red potatoes, parboiled, with carrots, garlic, grated Parmesan, red pepper flakes sort of strewn about. Whole garlic heads for making garlic butter for spreading. Everything can go in a 400f oven.  Nice prosecco cooling. Dates, almonds, bananas for dessert, no cooking just assembling.

And outside,  this little volunteer, probably dead nettle or a relative, standing up to a tough environment, and creating a natural artwork.

What I'll be doing, in a few, is continuing in this great book of musings about gardens, real and fictional, their places in art and writing and the lives of the gardeners. You need your tablet or  other reference aid ready to check on writers, painters, plants,as she mentions them and you need to know more, instantly.  Lively always lives up to her name, and at 85 she's as sharp as ever and as compelling.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Sunday health lunch with heath dessert

Home baked fresh bread roll, spread with labneh, one large slice each of farm tomato, getting near the end of the season. Virtue. Health. And dessert of Heath. Which is actually a health bar if you count mental health.

Aka my story and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Much traveled wildflowers

Just reading Philippa Gregory's Earthly Joys, and hugely recommend it to anyone who loves plants and gardens and the history of how we came to have the plants we take for granted.

Here's a wild flower, spiderwort, aka virginiana tradescantia. Tiny sparks od blue, three petals.It showed up as a volunteer out front  this year. I had another on the patio which appeared in a pot, like a stray animal deciding to move in. This little stand is a different one.

Took me several days to catch these tiny flowers open. The first day I tried in the afternoon, forgetting that they close then. Then we had rain, and the flowers were open but it wasn't good for the camera. They are both wild and cultivated.

They're from the tradescantias, named for John Tradescant, the gardener and traveler who first worked for Lord Cecil in Elizabethan times, and later for other great gardens, designing, traveling in search of plants to study and introduce to England.

Every time we see his name in the Latin plant name, we get an insight into the extent of his travels in search of new learning.  And when you read this novel, based on flawless historical research, you come to understand that those famous English gardens are an amalgam of the flora of many countries.  My own is a native American, found in Virginia. But the tradescantias are very much settled in English gardens too, like many of his other finds.

And the horse chestnut, producing the candle-like blossoms in spring and the conkers beloved of little English kids in fall? He paid a lot to get five of those nuts from the middle East to propagate. Imagine the anxiety about keeping plants alive on long voyages home. Rather him than me, but do read about him. And his son, also John, also a gardener. They really changed a lot of the landscape.

And it reminds me how mad with joy I was on getting an American garden to find the amazing wealth of wild plant life and the friendly climate where you could grow tomatoes and melons out of doors! Just like that! To a newcomer all those years ago, raised in a cold northern climate, it still seems miraculous.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Dark days. Fight back.

Yesterday was a dark day. But with exquisite timing, my mail in ballot arrived the same day.

So I wielded my main weapon, and voted. Early. On paper which can't be hacked. And trust that at least some of the dozens of voters I sent applications to,  with a personal handwritten note of encouragement, have got their ballots and will vote.

US blogistas, please vote! Our republic is at a moment of great danger. Support candidates for gun sense, indigenous women in honor of the holiday, WOC because they're our backbone. Remember the heroes on the Senate judiciary were Kamala Harris and Corey Booker, poc.

This afternoon I'm at an art event to honor a woman artist, and get relief from the news.