Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Latest required reading!

So after discovering Lynda Barry's drawing lessons on radio the other day, I had to go on, and I found her book Syllabus. It's the process, and the lined workbook, she used to create the syllabus for a course she teaches at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  I wish she'd been doing that when I was there (!).  And even though you're only reading her syllabus, it's so full of information and prompts and general massive energy that it's worth working through just for fun for yourself.  Not as good as being there, but a good facsimile.

She understands about bringing drawing back into your life -- we all drew once upon a time before inhibition set in -- as opposed to Learning To Draw solemnly.  She knows the difference between rendering -- copying exactly what's there -- and drawing as art.

Anyway, she also indicates that a big part of her own impetus came from reading Iain McGilchrist's The Master and His Emissary.  I found I can't get my hands on it locally, only available to specific students enrolled in special course at local college.  

However, he did write a little ebook which condensed the main gist of it, and I bought that for my Kindle.  It's about the length of a magazine article, but packed with great insights and arguments, and well worth reading.  He discusses the concept of the split brain, and the differing functions of right and left, and how it's much more complex than the popular features about it would have you think. And he's both a scholar in literature and in neurology, a wonderful brain at work.

So this is where we are today, in reading terms:

The convergence of art and literature taking place right before yur very eyes!  I really encourage you to take a look at either or both of these great reads.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Earth Day, plants and the sun

Happy Earth Day!  Mine was wonderful sunshine, walking, observing plants opening and seeing the effect of evening sunlight onto glass, accidental art.

Here's the little cherry tree next door, just past the peak of her blossom

And here's a group of daffodils, at their peak

And future attractions

Then at the end of the afternoon, the evening sun shone through into the living room for just a couple of minutes of the right angle, and created this accidental artwork.  The green streak is the edge of the mirror catching the sun, against the cobalt of the glass projected onto the table.

Which reminded me to set out the solar light out front, and it's blazing away now in the dark, plenty of solar energy around now.

Happy Earth Day!  let's all take care of the planet in whatever way we do that.  Speaking of which, the bittercress I was enjoying seems to be a rabbit favorite, too.  I went out to pick some today and found a little hole where it used to be.  Checked another couple of spots.  All gone. Nothing else disturbed.  We have rabbits of good taste around here.  So it's good to leave what some people call weeds, just in case they're food for wild friends.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Change of scene, maybe this will make Spring arrive

So, the die is cast, the ficus is now on the patio for better or for worse, possibly a little too early, but she was dropping leaves rapidly, a sure sign she needs to be outside and letting her roots down through the pot to spread in the earth.

That means her crystal beads, gift of Kate H., which hang on the branches and catch the morning sun, sending rainbows around the room, had to come off.  So the beads are now in a crackle vase on the kitchen windowsill and catching the afternoon rays, little rainbows again, very cheering when the wind is bitter out there.

It's the kind of weather that looks pretty, bright sunshine, and wind, and when you go out walking you'd better keep up a brisk pace.  Then once home and warm again, amazing how easy it is to drop off when you're officially reading Amy Tan's memoir. 

 And now that the ficus is outside, that space has become a cosy corner set up for just such a purpose. Cat included, since he campaigns for a drink of milk when tea and books appear.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Friday, Little Library, afternoon tea, and three little budgies

Today was not only warm, it was eventful.

The third budgie, left, has joined the others in the tree, after a trip to the knitting group, at the big library, where he was photographed and admired like a star!

After I left the knitting group meeting, where I gave a Moosewood cookbook to a very happy recipient, I took my remaining book to leave at the Little Library, a new addition to the Art Center.  

 Locals will recognize this location as the old firehouse, now renovated for the visual and performing arts.

I've been looking for a local Little Library, and was happy to find this new one.  So I left a cookbook, took a book of mystery stories. If you're not familiar with the concept, it's a box on a post, set up with shelves, usually small, where you can leave a book or take a book, or both.

Then home to the first afternoon tea on the patio for the year. Reading, birds daringly feeding right overhead, a nuthatch getting brave, and giving me a great close up of how he works the feeder. He picks out the best seeds.

The tea was artisanal bread spread with farm honey, well it was gone before the photo happened, so you have to take the empty plate's word for it. Since tea leaves and coffee ground are acid, and that's what roses and azaleas like, I've been putting the used leaves out around them. We'll see how it works.  It beats disposing of them any other way.  

Reading outdoors today was Eleanor Oliphant is Just Fine, by Gail Honeyman, a funny and sad and moving story, written from the viewpoint of a probably autistic woman, brilliant,  working hard to figure out social interactions and language in the neuronormal world while dealing with past violent abuse.   It sounds much darker than it is;  it's piercingly funny, too.

Friday the Thirteenth, but artisanal bread will save us all

The end of an eventful week chez Boud, what with one medical thing and another, but now with answers and a plan of action and no ominous findings.  So it's all good.  Except that my chronic woes are a result of being small, female, white, Northern European, and getting on in years.  About which there's not a lot I can do at this time.  In the last couple of weeks I've had many unwanted views on screens of practically all my inner workings, including an unnerving addition to the discharge instructions of living color pix of my innards as seen in an endoscopy, ew.  But onward..

So yesterday, I made a new batch of Ye Olde Artisanalle Bread.  Back to the old bread pans for a change from the giant loaf I've been doing recently. This is just easier for toasting purposes.  

About half and half wheat and unbleached white, poppyseeds tossed around with abandon. Really nice texture.

I notice that my own bread takes a lot longer to toast than the bought stuff.  Since I was out of action a bit this week, Handsome Son did a bit of food shopping while he was picking up rx, and came home with a loaf of "wheat" bread.  Which toasted up lovely, but tasted of air, which is what it largely consists of, I think. I haven't had what my Mom would refer to slightingly as "bought bread" for about fifteen years, so this was interesting.  Happy to get back to making my own though.

Happy Weekend, all!  it looks as if finally spring is getting here, or maybe summer, since Spring seems to have sort of gone out of fashion.


Sunday, April 8, 2018

Ongoing interest, new challenge

For quite a while I've been following the blog of a Dutch woman, mostly in perfect English, but now and then with an entry in Dutch.  And I follow a Twitter account of medieval manuscripts from a Dutch scholar, again mostly English, but now and then Dutch.

So I decided I'd like to acquire a reading knowledge of Dutch just so I won't be totally baffled when I encounter it.  The hitch here is that almost all the sources I followed up were about acquiring conversational Dutch, with a view to visiting.  Not what I'm interested in.  

There is one book devoted to acquiring a reading knowledge, only available to students signed up for a three credit course at the local community college.  That expense is wildly beyond what I can seriously consider.  So I continue my search.

Meanwhile, I did find this course, which has a book as well as cd, and a glossary. 

I'm working my way through dialogs, to get the hang of the structure, and I'm already trying my hand at understanding the Wikipedia Dutch entry on Maria von Gelders, whose  book of prayer is a prime medieval artwork.  This course  has a book, glossary, and reading practice, too.  So it's a start.  And here's what I'm trying to work through:  
I had a time finding the right Maria, and the illustration of her prayer book was my landmark. If you're interested in her in general, there are Wikipedia entries in English.

Since I'm the ultimate self teacher, this approach is about right. I don't do well learning in a group, always out of tempo with the general movement.

Which all reminds me of a comic situation long ago, when I ran an ESL program, largely for newly arrived immigrants, which was about acquiring daily language. Really different sort of request came in when I was asked by the Ivy League university in town to provide for them a special section for visiting Chinese science scholars, all of whom had a fluent technical reading knowledge of English in the sciences, and zero ability to navigate daily spoken life in the US.  Which we did, and eased their lives a bit.  So I'm coming at this from the other end!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Cipe and earliest cookbook, and a departure

This week's reading involves books I've been waiting for, for quite a while, Cipe Pineles'  Leave me Alone with the Recipes, and Amelia Simmons' American Cookery,  the earliest published cookbook known from Colonial times.  

They actually have quite a bit in common, both insisting that ingredient quality is vital, no matter how good the cook, and taking great pride in selecting and preparing great meals as an important part of life.

Cipe's book was found, in an antique book show, her own handwritten and painted recipes not seen outside her own family, despite her stellar career as a groundbreaking woman in the graphic art industry, and it's a treat to leaf through.  There are lengthy preambles from the women who discovered her, and as a team brought the manuscript to the stage of being a published book, and the best part is her own work.

The paintings are full of life and color, and food that looks like food without being tediously literal.  It's not so much about getting recipes from her, since they're largely traditional, so much as learning more about this interesting and wildly talented woman who made time for great attention to people as well as her cooking. You wonder how she managed to fit all she did into her days, and end up just admiring. She made her way in a very male environment, in the graphic arts and magazine industries, without losing her composure, or her adherence to her principles. 

Her last unfinished recipes had the graphics written, without the text, an interesting insight into an artist who fitted the handwritten text in after the graphics, rather than writing out and then illustrating a recipe.

And the other is the cookbook written by the earliest known published cook of the early part of the republic, Amelia Simmons.  I found a reference to it in the Card Catalog book which noted a modern reissue of this priceless work.

She's full of great advice, and it's interesting to see the gigantic quantities she deals in, with perfect aplomb.  Pounds of butter, and flour, and masses of raisins, to make cake, probably for a crowd.  She wasn't a caterer, but was familiar with cooking for large numbers.  And she assumes that you are growing a lot of your own food.  As in: select your plums before they develop a pit, which you establish by pushing in a pin.  So this means your own fruit trees.

Her advice on picking good meat and fish are still up to date, though few people now have access to a real butcher.  She's really fun to read.  The illustrations came later, woodcuts largely.  And she's very modern in her insistence that a woman, particularly a single one without a family to support her, as she was, should develop her skills regardless of whether she might marry, so as to maintain her independence.

Then, as a complete change, comes the Year of Less, which is advertised as a minimal approach to life, sorting and disposing of possessions, and cutting back on bringing items into the house, so as not to be stuck decluttering later. 

It turns out to be an intense journey of a year in her life, full of great emotional struggles and resolve, and it also turns out that living with less is only a very small part of what that year was about.  Not a quick and easy read.  But worth getting the insight into the life of a very talented person whose demons are always in conflict with her achievements. 

Interesting that all three arrived at about the same time, three very different lives, but with similar threads. They all have an intentional approach to life, designing their own way through work and living, and not looking to depend on other people for their sense of value.

And they're all well worth meeting.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Banana bread without all its bananas

So I urgently needed banana bread, and found I had one banana, not the required three.  Not even a second banana in evidence.  So it was date, apple and banana bread, and I pronounced it good.

 Always a good idea to have a bag of Granny Smiths, peeled and cut up, in the freezer.  And the fresh dates came, of all things, from CVS!  They're very good, and about the same price as the posh grocery where I used to shop until they were rude.  I get  good almonds, whole, there, too, same packaging, and nice quality. Just shows, when you're browsing for mouthwash, what you might just come across.

Also that bittercress that's growing freely among my plantings, is now a regular food.  Today, chicken salad, with a handful of bittercress and some chives, all cut fine, mixed in.  Good spring tonic as well as salad.  I was told bittercress is a weed, but in my book, wild food is not a weed, it's nature's freegan supply.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Easter and Passover close together this year, so Happy Spring, too!

This is the season of decorating Easter eggs.  Only doing five this year, all spoken for already.  And I only had five white eggs in the house anyway.  This means omelettes this week, too.  Pictured is stage two, after I blew the eggs, collected the contents, then rinsed out the shells so that the eggs will be permanently good.

I thought it would be good to do marbling, never done that with eggs, though I've done various decorating ideas with the annual egg caper.  And it was a time to try out a new marbling kit of paints, which came complete with Japanese instructions...but there were bits of translation,too.  Marbling is pretty obvious, though, no need for a lot of explanation.

This isn't strictly marbling, since I did the classic thing of the designs on the water, but then while the shells were still wet, dropped more ink onto them.  I may give them another coat of something, too, not sure yet.   

And of course, waste not, want not, I dipped a couple of sheets of paper in, to make the cards that will accompany the eggs to their destinations. Then dropped more ink onto the wet paper.  It's very cool to see how the colors react to one another, some being more aggressive in seizing space than others.

So Happy Easter, Happy Passover, Good Spring, inclusive wishes to all blogistas!  I missed Nowruz, but I'm including it here, as another Spring celebration.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

New makeover

With the marchers in spirit, and making the world a bit better around here.  Made up a new giveback box, and translated my wish for capris into a makeover from cargo pants.  Better than buying, even from the thriftie.

 So, as I was picking out items for give back, I was not planning on including these cargo pants, and thought I could make them over into capris.  No sooner said than done.  These were in a batch of freecycled clothes I was given years ago, and have worn sometimes, but they could be more useful.

Cut off the length to make capris while keeping all the pockets. Hemmed it up.  Done. And if spring and warmer weather ever get here, I'm ready.

Now to send good wishes and support to the students leading our country back into the light. And to do a  couple of other good things for my township, no need to discuss them, just do them.

Friday, March 23, 2018

The Staff of Life, fresh from the oven

Seeing out the week with fresh baked white and wheat bread, poppyseeds on top, and a big pot of white bean soup. Apron on heavy duty around here...

 Great crust.  And a fresh pot of labneh, in case a spread is required.  The whey from the labneh is in the white bean soup.


Thursday, March 22, 2018

Spring is here, with great ferocity

So the first couple of days of spring were all about snow, wind, general oh, not this againness.

However, I looked out this morning, as I was getting up the gumption to go out and shovel off my car, and saw my blessed neighbor and friend, already hard at work.  

Reason #345,742 why I like living here.   And it's why, in a neighborhood like this, when you live alone, you don't cook for one!  Little samples go all over the place.  My lemon ginger marmalade got good reviews.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Wild food and civilized food

Between storms, the fourth one in three weeks about to arrive, I picked a bit of the bittercress, and a handful of potgrown chives from the patio, dressed them with labneh (strained yogurt with a touch of salt and lemon) and a bit of mayonnaise, and made a very good topping for my supper baked potato.  

Spring greens, probably full of good elements, and tasting good, too.  The chives are especially onion tasting when they're this early.

And, a civilized afternoon tea for Handsome Son who dropped in to get an update on my medical adventures, now up to three doctors at once all intent on finding something wrong with me. No answers yet, just a lot of speculation and questions and testing and waiting..

So HS came over to get up to speed.  It may end up being nothing very significant, but good to be knowledgeable about the organ recital.  

And in the process to enjoy newbaked scones split and spread with lemon ginger marmalade, which he approved.  We demolished the banana walnut raisin bread, too.

Before he left he climbed up to set the time on my wall clock, since the hour changed.  It's battery driven, and will be handy if we lose power, I suppose.  And this new storm is forecast to be damaging, high winds, heavy wet snow.  Well, we'll see if the rest of the tree withstands the upcoming couple of days, or if I won't need to fell it after all...meanwhile the neighbors are weighing in on how much we could save, and persuading me not to fell the whole thing. Everyone's invested in this tree.  We'll see how it goes.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Duncan, playing at dog, and your mental age by color!

Since the departure of his lifelong friend Marigold, Duncan has been struggling.  He's 14, not in good health, and I'm watching him with care.  But yesterday the sun came out and he decided he felt well enough to play with his tennis ball.  

Since he drinks from the toilet, comes when called, and greets visitors at the front door, I think he is actually a black lab, playing the part of a cat.

And, since his human is feeling pretty good, despite a battery of tests happening to her bod at the moment, here's a silly quiz. You can estimate your mental age (!) by doing this color test.  Just fun.  And my own came out at between 20 and 29.  Not sure if this is good, as in youthful, or not good, as in flaky kid...but every result comes with reassuring and flattering comments!

Anyway, go here

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Winter and spring food collide

Made a big pot of seafood chowder this morning as it was snowing.  I use an ancient xeroxed recipe, and I can't find  a credit on it.  But it's very good, and simple, too.  It's Manhattan, meaning with tomatoes, condemned by New England chowder purists.  But it doesn't have bacon, condemned by me as a foodstuff. Winter food.

But, spring trying to get here, too,  I'd also noticed an interesting few clumps of greenery outside with tiny white flowers.

I'm in a wildflower group on Twitter, but they're UK based, and my candidate didn't seem to be in their pix to date.  However, another tweeter id'd it for me.  Hairy Bittercress! Hilarious name. She dismissed it as a weed, but I pointed out that to wildflower fans, they're all wildflowers.  Anyway, it turns out to be edible.

I had to wait till the snow abated and the plant showed up again before I could test this hypothesis.  Since it's growing where for many years I've stopped the landscapers from spraying, it's in clean ground, always a good thing to note.

And I took a little sample and tasted.  Not really bitter, not peppery, but a bit dark, along the lines of cilantro.  I can see people who can't tolerate cilantro not liking this, either.  But I fancy trying it on a sharp cheddar, wholewheat bread sandwich.  That may happen quite soon.  I'm guessing it's best eaten this early in the year, before it really does get more bitter and tough. Also that it's probably a good spring tonic sort of green.

So that's today's adventure in the food world. Except  I did get a new supply of lemons and ginger, ready for the next batch of marmalade.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Reading and other useful pursuits

This book is really worth taking a look. It's an examination of the lives and viewpoints of women as seen through the food they are interested in, or cook, or generally respect and pay attention to.  Very often their lives are bereft of this sort of important aspect, since male biographers tend to just tear out and throw away anything remotely interesting like this, but I digress.

The best three chapters are on Dorothy Wordsworth, about whom I learned a whole lot more than I knew before, Eleanor Roosevelt, whose relationship with food was a bit fraught and reflected the mismatch of her marriage, and best of all Barbara Pym, whose use of food as symbol and social denominator, as well as a source of humor and sly digs, is unmatched.  

Shapiro also gets Pym in a way that male reviewers consistently fail to, seeing all the joy and merriment under the quiet words, and the powerful swipes at male ego, always a good thing!

And, on other topics, as they say in the news, since my dear cherry tree is shortly to be no more, after friends with chainsaws visit soon, I will have no shade at all on the patio, and my little cherry sapling, planted as a successor, is about the diameter of a pencil, not much help yet.

So I thought, what can I build?  cheap, easy to construct, not involving heavy machinery, can be collapsed and put away out of season?  and particularly, do I already have the materials around?

And it came to pass that my thoughts settled as they often do, on pvc piping and canvas. 

I've built several frames and doodads from the piping, for weaving and spinning and knitting, and they can all be dismantled. As you see, they're all in this crate, along with the leftover piece of canvas.  I also have two ten foot lengths of pipe, which used to be curtain rods, until I replaced my windows and thought I should have something a bit more sophisticated in their honor, and got actual grownup curtain rods installed.  I knew I'd find a use for them sooner or later.

So I have the makings of a nice little shade thing I can build to shade me on the deck while I read, at least that's the plan.  You can attach the canvas easily with special pvc clips, which I have, and I probably have the corner joints and the t joints I need.  I know from two seasons of using the awning I made from this canvas that it is a good heatblock.

Plenty of time for this project, since a third nor'easter is expected to arrive this week. I looked at a number of youtube videos, mostly involving Big Saws, and Men with Tools, and women who talked so quietly you couldn't hear them and then forgot to actually show how to do the assembly.  And ones with background music that completely drowned out the speaker.  So I thought to myself, self, you are on your own here.  Just make a drawing or two on the back of an envelope, if you can find an envelope, and go from there.

So that's in the near future for Boud.  This shelter will match the awning I put up out front when the weather gets warmer.  So I'll have the set.  Watch this space.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Report from the second nor'easter...

I don't think we signed up for two nor'easters in one week, but here we are.  And for the benefit of blogistas aware that I've been in the midst of it (!) and surrounded by power outages, snowdrifts, downed trees, live wires on roadways, etc., I'm now fine.  Pure whiteout for several hours yesterday, high wind, zero visibility.  Paths dug out three times.

Lost power, and heat, for eight hours, but I managed to find my survival blanket, everyone should have one, and made up a warm place on the sofa with that and two regular blankets, warm as toast, accompanied by kitty Duncan, who objected to the shiny survival blanket until I covered it with a regular one.  It was an adventure getting the blanket open.  It's packed down to the size of a postage stamp in the emergency kit, and is not anxious to be unfolded to the size of a large blanket, particularly since it was already dark when I found it.  But we prevailed.

Neighbor had stopped over to lend lantern and flashlight in case my own weren't up to it.  And to give cellphone number in addition to what I had, in case anything happened during the night.

Earlier in the day, while making soup just in case, good idea as it turned out, and lemon ginger marmalade, just because, I thought of taking pix of the old cherry tree, just in case.  Another good idea.  Most of it came down in the course of the day, very sad sight.

 She was a lovely tree, gave shade, food for bees, birds and squirrels, lovely scent in blossom time.  

I was glad to have the soup, since my stovetop is gas and I could light the burners with a match and get hot food after the house went cold.  And a nice snack of homebaked bread, labneh and lemon ginger marmalade helped with the spirits.

 Here's the unboildownable stage, and the container in the background, sterilizing in boiling water

 And the result is one container and one extra

Here's the cook's privilege, homebaked wholewheat, homemade labneh, and a nice helping of the marmalade.  No need for pectin in this, just cooked the cubed fresh ginger and the lemon slices, and a couple of lime slices, down until all tender, in a syrup of sugar and water, and it jelled itself.

Power returned during the night sometime, but the local police department is still out, no internet, posting updates on road closings, which are numerous, from a smartphone. Emergency number working though.  

Temps in 40sF will help melt the masses of snow burying my car, and I hope for a bit of help with that, too.  It will need to be moved for the plows to finish clearing. 

A bit tired today, after all the drama yesterday, and now in daylight see that the falling tree knocked the young cherry tree sideways so I hope that's something I can remedy once I can get out there and do something about it.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Exciting storm, like Sandy but with snow...nonetheless she persisted

Today was exciting, but I can report that Handsome Son is home from work safe, and with power, and I'm home, with power, after a wild day of high winds, blizzarding snow, alternating with torrential rain.  Soaking wet birds frantically at the feeder getting fuel for the weather.  My car was buried under snow then washed clear again at least twice that I observed.

And there was extra drama, of which I was unaware -- next door neighbor trying to take friend to hospital for scheduled major, six hour, surgery, found as they came out to his car, at 6.30 a.m. that it had a flat tire.  Frantic attempts to get alternate transportation, and a message on my voicemail, to borrow my car, but my phone was off.  

I switch it on when I wake, and by then they'd sorted it all.  Another neighbor got a ride to work, lent him her car. I got in touch with him, and instructed him never again to wait, just to come in, he knows  where the key is, and take the car keys.  Told him where to find them, and he agreed that in the next emergency he will do so.    Can't think how his friend felt, hard enough to anticipate surgery, without finding this sort of obstacle, with shrieking winds and rain at that point.

Sooo, waiting to hear how she did.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, after a major battle with this computer, partially sorted, but watermarking didn't take at all, and there are other screen display issues, resulting in trying to post blind, big blank white rectangle squarely on top of the place where commands happen...managed to upload pix of the really good scones I baked today, as a kind of displacement activity, to stay calm in what was a huge storm.  

Many outages of power, live wire on roads, roads closed, flooding, cars conking out because their electronics failed in even fairly shallow water.  Wondering if my old cherry tree will survive, but that's minor compared to the people.  Neighbors safely home from work, I see lights on.

Anyway, I went back to the Solo recipe book, whose writer now follows me on Twitter, evidently quite chuffed about my bean soup blogpost, and this time made what she calls biscuits, but I know as scones.

 First time I made the real thing, since there are a few processes to go through, rubbing butter into flour, etc., and for this one I had to mince rosemary (my own homegrown, on the twigs in the freezer, heavenly scent as it thawed) and cube butter and cheese.  But, so worth it.  Flaky, lovely. And it made more than the number she suggested.  I used a small glass to cut them, don't have a cookie cutter.

She recommends peach compote, but I didn't have peaches, and did have apples in the freezer, and that, since there was cheddar  cheese, made a good combo. See the lovely blue bowl in the background waiting to be filled.

You can peel off the little skirts of cheese if you want to be more fancy. 

 And here's an afternoon tea fit for a queen! Probably better than what they get at Buckingham Palace, I hear she eats cornflakes for breakfast, clutches pearls..

There are now half a dozen, scones, not cornflakes, in an airtight container in the fridge, and another half dozen in the freezer, for the next lucky invitee to afternoon tea.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Storm prep, soup. And a new cookbook

Always interested in new cookbooks just because you never know what great stuff you will discover, and I came across this one

She's an interesting person aside from her cooking cred, really high energy and off the charts smart.  The way she mentions quite casually some of the work she's done, and you think, whoah, she's good. Worth reading her intro.

I looked through and found this soup recipe that I could just see doing right off, particularly since a nor'easter, high winds and rain, is scheduled about now.

and did.  I will say that she's perhaps a little bit old school in that she talks about pouring the soup into a blender, rather than doing the safer thing, use your immersion blender.  And a lot of her recipes are lovely, but they literally make one serving. When she says solo she means it, aside from the occasional whole chicken for several days' use.   I tend to think that if I'm going to all that trouble, I may as well double or triple it and have a little something in the fridge for another day.

So that's what I did with this.  Used three cans of beans, all white, just what I had handy, increased the recipe liquid and the lemon juice.  But I didn't add the salt, since it tasted salty enough to my taste. This comes out creamy, and if you really like cream soups, it might suit you to skip the lemon in favor of cream to add in.  I think if you don't skip the lemon you may get cream cheese when you do the blending, lemon creating curds in cream. 

And if my food stylist had shown up, she could have snipped a few fronds of the new chives growing on the patio and scattered them artistically about, but she didn't, and this bowl is now history.  The next couple might get a chive treatment, though. Note the chunk of wholemeal bread to go with. The golden color comes from the chicken broth.

And there are a few other recipes worth a try in this book.  It's very appealing to read, lovely photography, done by a real food stylist. Some rather exotic ingredients I'm not sure about obtaining, but it's worth learning about them.

Just to catch up with world events, Feb 16 was my wedding anniversary, 1963, do the math, it's too many fingers and toes for me. Then February 27 was my forty-first birthday as a US citizen. Still working to do my bit to save it and help it all I can.  Full of hope that we can recover from our present trough and come back better.  And finally, it's St David's Day, leeks ahoy to our Welsh blogistas, and it's White Rabbits anyway.

So if that isn't enough to celebrate, I just don't know what is.