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.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Friday breakfast chez Boud

Here's the set up for breakfast.

Tray in the offing, with pot of tea,  slice of fresh banana/ walnut/ raisin/chocolate bits cake, yogurt cheese ready to spread, the whey ready to freeze for soup.

Yogurt cheese is a favorite around here. Just strain yogurt overnight in cheesecloth lined strainer over a bowl, save the whey which drains out for lovely soup addition, use the cheese like cream cheese only better. It's tangy without that waxy feel of cream cheese.

Good any time but excellent on toast, banana bread, scones.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The biannual visit to the nursery, Fall edition

Beautiful October day, and it was time for the seasonal trip to the nursery.

The way it goes: Spring, potting soil and herbs,  lantana for the hummingbirds. This year's lantana is on its third bloom of the year. Fall is about potting soil, chrysanthemums, small pumpkin for step and later soup, it's a sugar pumpkin.

I'm a modest gardener, save seeds, already Italian and Thai basil seeds in paper bags. Also seeds picked up from a neighbor's sidewalk from some really pretty tall flowers. So next year's in hand.

Meanwhile I've done the outside bit for Fall, as you see.

You can see the patio from the front door so I like to make a scene to enjoy. I've heard from neighbors that they like it, too, always a good point.

And passersby on the street, we have a lot of them, can enjoy this. Background bronze chrysanthemum, Autumn Joy sedum, white chrysanthemum.

Next: lunch, Alison Weir historical novel, knitting.  A nap may insert itself in there somewhere.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Montauk daisies finally

They start to leaf out in spring, bigger and bigger and no sign of buds until you've about given up on them, then in October they suddenly get cracking and put on a show.

Passersby can see them againsyt the Autumn Joy sedum. Coming up the path to the door, and through the kitchen window.

I take all this into account when I plant. Small area, many vantage points. When they finally show up. They're like the last minute passenger hurtling to the departure gate.

There are wild flowers too, less spectacular but dear to me, like this spiderwort lovely blue sparks.

And here shy foliage among some creeper that runs its own life ignoring the gardener, are the closed flowers of scarlet pimpernel, cloudy weather makes them close. At the bottom you see a volunteer Montauk daisy which apparently has plans for next year.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Rescue dinner becomes five star discovery

Do you like the clickbait? As it happens it's accurate. So yesterday I boiled the last two farm redskin potatoes,  to make German potato salad today. It felt tender enough while keeping its shape. But farm potatoes seem much denser than shop bought, maybe because fresh from the ground. And they turned out to cube up a treat, but taste underdone.

So I shoveled them into the fridge to think. They were already dressed with oil, vinegar and seasalt.

So for Sunday supper I thought I'd roast them, being partial to roast spuds and opposed to wasting food. And cubed up a fresh tomato, some Colby cheese, in a cast iron pan. I put the pan into the oven for the warming up period, so the food already sizzled when I tipped it all in, with a bit more salt and oil. 30 minutes at 400f. And it had a bit of fat left from cooking hot italian sausage. You don't always have to clean pans like a sterilizing process.

And it turned out excellent. In fact I think I'll put a dash of vinegar in future roast vegetables, really good touch. So, accidental art in the kitchen happened.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Morning walk in the neighborhood

Sunny day, and a walk around the neighborhood yielded some interesting stuff.

The tree decorated with soda cans, slit, squashed down like lanterns, whirling in the wind and making a sort of tinkling whistling sound

Then, on the next corner a new crop of fungi reclaiming their ancestral space. Can any blogistas identify?

Such a change from the news.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Spin off idea from Two Fat Ladies

Self care in turbulent times for me includes the adventures of Two Fat Ladies the riotous aristo cooks, on library DVD. They careen all over the place on Jennifer's motorbike with Clarissa in the sidecar, cooking rich and indigestible food in exciting locations for hungry groups.

They source their own food, shooting their own game birds, fishing their sea catch, picking shellfish off rocks and strawberries in fields, short supply chain. I don't think they slaughter their own beef, but I expect they knew the cows by name. I like sourcing fruit and veg and honey more than animals.

And they break into song in medias res, Clarissa, the forner barrister, would approve the phrase. But here and there, though I wouldn't cook the food they love, they have great side ideas.

One is mustard butter, used for tiny sandwiches such as cucumber. Just mix softened butter with Dijon mustard.  Always on whole wheat bread. And you can slice your bread thin if you soak your knife in hot water first. There, two tips right off.

Later I'll try to use up some cucumber this way, but meanwhile a little slice of home baked along with farm tomatoes and Dutch cheese, and an Asian pear from the farm made a great lunch today. No cooking, all assembly.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Sign of Fall

The ficus tree, very healthy, plenty of leaves, in contrast to the failing tree that went to camp on the patio in May, is back in the living room.  She did not want to come in, scratched me, fell on my head, but I finally wrestled her in and into the giant saucer. After disentangling the drapes she'd clutched on the way in.

The reason she does so well outside is that she puts roots through the bottom of the pot into the earth, and pretends she's a wild daring outdoor tree. Then I have to cut them to bring her in and she does fine over the winter, but starts to fail toward spring, when she goes outside again.

As you see, she's brushing the ceiling now. I've root pruned her twice over the forty-odd years I've had her, since she was a little sprig of a tree perched on the back seat of my car coming home from the shop.

So that's done for the season.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Last tribute to Duncan

Today this card came from the vets, signed by both vets, and all the staff. And they gave him his correct full name. C.K.Duncan. Good people. Someone's chopping onions around here.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Sunday lunch

Whole-wheat home baked bread, fresh cucumber from friend's garden next door, sharp cheddar from Vermont. Five star.