Monday, May 20, 2019

Early summer

Ants in the kitchen, strawberries in at the farm.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

A Month in the Country, J.L.Carr

I just found this, and wondered what took me so long.

Short, a novel that reads like poetry, a wonderful piece of writing. 

A survivor of WWI  trench warfare, after the war, still in recovery, gets a project to uncover a medieval fresco in a village in the East Riding of Yorkshire. It's a Summer's work.  And it's so much more.

It's about trauma, about being in the presence of great art, about history and transience. And it's funny, on top of everything else.

Just read it.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Irises, heirloom and reblooming

The purple and white are from the farm of a friend's grandmother, who inherited them from her mom.

The white and the blue are reblooming, and are only just finding their feet after two years. With luck, they'll bloom again in the fall.

Taken five minutes ago.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

And is there honey still for tea?

Quotation, beloved nostalgic poem about England, from the trenches. Followed by the Peter Sellars' skit: 'oney's orf,dear!

All flashing through my ragbag of a mind as I put out afternoon tea, English breakfast, strong, scones hot from the oven, walnut and choc bit, homemade raspberry jam.

Midst shot and shell and political attacks on my sisters, afternoon tea still helps.

Sunday, May 12, 2019


So it was windy and rainstormy and I had to go out anyway. So when I got back all wet and tired,  I was a little peckish.

And thought, it's cold enough for soup even if it is mid May. So I started a pot, tomatoes, garlic, scallions, bits of stuff from the freezer marked soup makings, chickpeas.

And since I had finished up all the bread, I thought maybe I should make those Jack Monroe crumpets, now that the special rings have arrived.

And after I'd mixed up the batter and put it to rise, I thought, as I put the flour back in the freezer, why not use the rest of the frozen raspberries I just put the flour next to, to make jam for the crumpets..

See how the crumpet rings work, like egg poaching rings.

Which is how it came to pass that I ended up timing soup, spooning in crumpets, 12 minutes per batch, sterilizing lid and jar, while stirring jam so it didn't burn. All at once.

I did stop for a bowl of soup to keep up my strength.

And now I have a large quantity of excellent soup, a pot of jam, and enough crumpets for several breakfasts and teatimes. The kitchen is clean. I am lying down writing this.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Marcella Hazan's all purpose Swiss army knife sauce

Just finished that recipe and it turns out to be the Swiss army knife of sauces.

Had it at first as prescribed, over pasta. Then realized that the tomato chunks I'd left in made it great for bruschetti. Pieces of whole grain bread, toasted, chunks spread on, excellent snack. Then over cheese and onion (the onion that had been cooked in it, saved) and ham, toasted, lunch.

Then today the rest of it, chicken thighs and chicken garlic sausage, baked for 45 minutes at 400f, then the sauce added, back to oven for ten minutes, very good (two) meals.

I'd say this was worth doing.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Marcella Hazan's pasta sauce

So simple. Butter, tomatoes, onion, salt. Excellent. Long slow simmering. Parmigiano reggiano sprinkled over.

Page 151 of Genius Recipes, Kristen Miglore.

 My lunch

Posing with the official picture

Tomato sauce with butter and onion.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Christmas lights are now summer lights

So the ficus is ready to go out for the summer, and her lights have migrated to the window.

Very  90s, a bit late getting there, but I like them.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Making good use of an expectedly quiet day

Happy Easter to people who celebrate it, and since Handsome Son is working, I decided I might as well make use of the day. Most cooking is already prepped in case we were dining today.

So I did a lot of work cutting and hanging and dyeing warping yarn, as seen at

Then, since the dyeing emptied a lot of materials from the freezer, I finally, after three years, defrosted it. In time for the farm market season.

Another day I'll organize the other freezer, and no doubt find all kinds of flavoring and makings for stock and herbs and things I've been tossing in for ages.

Another day, that is.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Spice bush finally

Every year for five years, this bush has come through the winter, put out leaves then been eaten back to the ground.

Finally this year, a breakthrough. It's blooming triumphantly. And the scent, the reason I planted it, is wonderful.

So glad i didn't give up on it.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Exciting walk, low key supper

We had some wind yesterday. Went out for a walk around the development, and found my path blocked. I had to detour to finish, and kept away from tall trees for the rest of the stroll.

Home to make these exciting things. Black bean fritters.

They're actually better than you'd  think to look at them. Not a great intro for a recipe, I know. But they're good. Filling too.

Quite exciting to make, since the blender did only a medium job of mixing -- I'd mixed all the ingredients before the next screen, when I scrolled down,  said  you needed a food processor -- and my wooden spoon got all stuck in the blades, as I tried to scoop the mixture out to cook it. I might have eaten a bit of wood pulp in the fritters. But it's fiber, after all.

This is one can of black beans, minced garlic, ginger, cilantro, Thai curry paste, salt, breadcrumbs, egg, bunch of fresh cut chives. Made six fritters. Put ketchup with, didn't have  the fancy dipping sauce the food processor owning recipe writer required.

It's one of those recipes people love to describe as "budget". But they assume you have all the spices, garlic, ginger etc. The only cheap ingredient is the can of beans.

This is why food banks list condiments on their wanteds. You can make much more interesting food with spices, but people who need the food bank can't lay their hands on spices.

Also did you know that summer can be the hungriest time for food bank users? School's out, no subsidized lunches then. If you're planning to give, please do it now. And $$ is excellent, since the food bank people know what they need most, and they'll spend it wisely.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Sometimes you need a spot of junk food

Lately I've been thinking about PopTarts, not buying any, but thinking it would be nice..

Then today, on Twitter, Jack Monroe gave a recipe for homemade ones, and, well, this happened.

Just a pastry recipe, roll thin, jam one side, bake, cool, ice. Done. I used the top of the freezer as a pastry surface, worked fine. The jam is my raspberry peach jam.

No sprinkles in the house, so I made some lurid pink icing.

Homemade junk food.

Monday, April 8, 2019

First afternoon sitting outside for tea

Massive bumblebees everywhere, daffodils late this year.

Reading Margaret Forster, Lady's Maid, fiction of the life of Wilson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning's maid.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Cook's lunch

Served, and pretty good. Enough left for several meals.

I'm betting this will also improve overnight.

Some sort of curry type thing

This is a mix of ideas and partly remembered recipes, and it's really good up to now.  Not particularly hot, but really good flavor.

Chickpeas, peach chunks, diced chicken thighs, coconut milk, chicken stock. Spices: Thai red curry paste, salt, cumin, ground cloves, turmeric. Base of diced onions in olive oil.

As usual I cooked the spices with the onions first, except the clove was an afterthought. I tasted this one quite a bit as I went, adjusting.

Now it's simmering while the jasmine brown rice cooks in the background there. So long since I've made a curry, and this is different from the ones I've made with Bill Veach mixed curry powder. I need to make that again.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Bread and jam, Lucy's rx for Charlie Brown

Made two important food groups today.

Wheat (with a little bit of white) bread. Raspberry peach jam. New idea, used a can of peaches and the syrup, with unsweetened frozen raspberries. No pectin.

Evening snack for the cook.

Totally domestic day, planting flowers, laundry, baking, jam making, food shopping, library visit. Cleaners here.

Tomorrow, corporal needs catered to, chop wood, carry water,  it's studio time.

First trip to the garden center

This year everything's late, so they had only pansies and herbs. I picked up a flat of yellow pansies and admired the display.

Then, one aching back later, I have my own display.  I doused everything with chili powder to  deter squirrels.

If my performance is anything to go by, they'll be kept busy sneezing.

The daffodils are still in bud

And the lettuce is recognizable.

So that's the outdoor update from field and fen.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Baked frittata or something

This was partly an attempt to insert vegetables into a day of fruit and cookies (meeting) and almonds. It's also an experiment that might be part of the next dinner I invite Handsome Son to.

Two eggs, shake of potato flakes, handful of carrot dice and green peas, milk, salt, grated cheddar, grated Parmesan, turmeric, kosher salt, cayenne pepper, shake of cumin. All whisked together.

Cast-iron pan went into oven to heat along with the oven, then the frittata poured into the hot pan,  baked at 375f for ten minutes. It was good. A wedge will be tomorrow's breakfast.

With soup to start, hot Italian sausage beside, banana apple ginger cake for dessert, will be pretty good for a dinner. Also new to him. I always like a bit of variety, though HS doesn't mind either way.

Breakfast in bed, celebrating me!

Banana apple ginger bread, warmed and buttered, pot of tea, thank you.

Note about the raspberry jam I shared with a neighbor -- he told me he's trying to make it last by alternating with shop bought jam! I think he's hinting I should make more.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Chili, chives and Cooper's hawk

Easy chili for lunch, from the freezer, and the first cutting of chives. They're the strongest tasting when they're early.

Checked on the mini greenhouse while I was out in search of chives, and the seedlings are starting to look like lettuce, little sawtooth leaves

Few minutes later, a Cooper's hawk settled in the tree nearby. No time for a pic. He groomed his feathers all blown about, brisk winds today, then left.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Raspberry jam for tea

Sudden need to have a bit of jam for tea. So, couple of handfuls of frozen raspberries, shake of sugar, blip of lemon juice, boil madly, little supply ready. Enough for a couple of teas.

The little jar is for a friend I promised some to, the next time I made jam. That was months ago, and I finally came through. He will have forgotten all about it and be surprised.

This all took about the time to boil the kettle. Jam can be very quick and spontaneous.

I was doing a matinee of Forsyte Saga, so the old fashioned jam and scones, with English Breakfast tea, fitted right in.

It's like having a part time job, watching the Forsytes. Several evenings went into the earliest production from the sixties, where the character actors who played the older family were worth watching, though the principals weren't.

How stiffly actors moved then, with all the wildly gyrating gestures meant to convey youth and energy. Except that Margaret Tyzack was wonderful as Winifred.

The later production from the 90s, I think,   I'm watching now is much less florid and more powerful. The older family members are overshadowed by the principals' acting.

Interesting to see which episodes from the original novel(s) are kept and which not, in the two versions.  It doesn't matter that the early one was black and white and the later one color, oddly. It's all about the acting.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Pi Day, 3.14

Spindle spinners celebrate Pi Day!

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Lucy Worsley, recommended reading

Her latest, seen here with a handwoven bookmark. Stick weaving, done as a demo for a summer class I taught township kids, if you're interested, where was I.

Oh yes, she's an excellent historian and researcher, and writes exactly like her tv scripts, accurate, readable and funny.

She also points out which events and actions, originated with Victoria, have come down to the present day. White wedding dresses, public events, balcony appearances, photoshopping, Victorian style, of unflattering pix of royals.

Well worth your time if you like the nineteenth century, its quirks and foibles, as well as its history.

I'm a Worsley fan, any period of time. She shows how to be a fine scholar and researcher without being self important. And she's not above dressing the part, and having fun at work, a big point.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

There has to be a better name than fish stew for this lovely food

It involves fish-- I used flounder-- potatoes, onions,carrots, anchovy paste, thyme,garlic, a bouquet garni of herbs from the freezer -- oregano, basil, curry leaves-- chicken bones, tomatoes, tomato paste. Some water and some of the pectin I made a while back.

Two Views of Mt. Counter

I blended it before the fish went in. After I fished (!) out the chicken bones and bouquet garni.

This bouquet thing sounds posh, but it's only a bundle of herbs bunged into cheesecloth and tied up. I don't know why chefs make a song and dance about it.

This dish takes a few stages, first the onions and thyme, and the carrots should have gone in then but unaccountably stayed on the counter, and got in later.

Then the garlic, anchovy paste since i didn't have anchovies, to cook till it smells great. Then  the potatoes, toms, water, all to cook tender. That's where I blended. Finally the fish, which takes only a few minutes.

Wait, I think it's a chowder. That's better.

It's good, too. The only drawback is that I couldn't spin while I cooked, that being the current reason for getting up in the morning.