Friday, August 14, 2020

Beenzen beans

 Lunch today: bean fritters made with pinto beans mashed with an egg, bit of cornstarch, bit of cornmeal. Rolled about in cornmeal because I'm running out of things to roll fritters in. And a great big pinch of berbere. 

This is an Ethiopian spice  mix, which requires that you are in no hurry to get there. Long list of ingredients, where you decide what to use for the ones you definitely can't get unless there's an Ethiopian grocery in your life.

 Then you pretty much empty your entire spice repertoire onto the counter, and get grinding and mixing and sneezing and getting quite high on the scents.

Since beans are by definition fairly bland, likewise cornmeal, it's fine to add the berbere with panache.

I had this with those farm green beans I mentioned, steamed,  and made a dressing pretty much swiped from Ms Moon.

Oil, white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, minced garlic. I don't think I'll have them any other way after this. Thank you Mary, lovely stuff. I didn't have shallots, but I managed.

Today's lunch

Tomorrow's lunch, together so I remember they should be together. I need visual aids.

Little walk down the street and I came upon a little fantasy world, like a housing development for imaginary characters.

 I wonder if the gnomes I saw the other day  couple of houses down from this Acorn Glen are planning to move in. Or looking for decorating ideas.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Nowt so funny as folks!

 Yorkshire saying, funny meaning peculiar. I was just reading people on Twitter explaining people's jokes to the people who wrote them, and it reminded me of a couple of hilarious encounters of the weird kind right here in this blog.

As you know, I use Boud as a screen name, largely in honor of a long gone cat Boudicca, named for the British warrior queen who came very close to defeating the Romans at the battle of Colchester. Small but deadly. Boud the cat was six pounds at her heaviest, and a handful in both senses. 

She would do awkward kid tricks like run and put her tiny paw into the insignificant little hole in my oriental rug, caused by a cinder falling out of the fire. Usually when I had guests admiring the rug before she pointed out its flaw. After that it was all oh what a pity it's ruined..

Anyway I had a series of emails from a lady who found the name Boud on my blog, said she'd been directed to it by a website about genealogy.

 She wanted me to tell her all I could about her ancestor Elizabeth Boud. I explained it wasn't my name, and she got angrier and angrier that I wouldn't help her.

 I asked for the website so I could get in touch and have them remove the false lead. She refused, and said you're the kind of person who makes genealogy hard, refusing to share information. We're probably related, you might be a distant cousin.

 I couldn't dislodge the idea, so I quietly retreated.  She's probably still complaining about this vital contact who wouldn't share!

Then there's the floor lady who had read my posts where I crowd-sourced my choices of laminate flooring, showing pix ofaof sample colors, and having people reading this blog help me choose.

 It was during the caregiving years, I couldn't leave Handsome Partner to go to see samples at the store. So they kindly brought some to the house, knowing I was serious, needing to replace carpeting which is dangerous for a wheelchair and a Hoyer lift. Anyway I needed input and blogistas got right into it with me.

This lady tried to book me to lay flooring at her house. No amount of explaining I didn't do floors worked. I offered to tell her the company I'd used and been pleased with. Then she accused me of fobbing her off to any old workers when she wanted my work.. again, quietly strolling away was required, leaving her threatening me with reporting for refusing her business. I wondered if there were a Floor and Rug Police Force somewhere.

Amazing what contortions people can get themselves into with no outside assistance.

Back to today. Books ahoy!

My latest library drive-by loot: 

Stormy days this week, so I'll be occupied. 

(Ed.note to Marilyn: notice Meg got me Bel Canto. She got a copy for herself, too,so we're on.) 

I just looked up and there's the afternoon hummingbird whipping around the butterfly bush. It's a female. Solidarity!

Anyway, Beautiful Metaphor calls. Wait till I write it then check.

 Tea next. Sadly no cake left, sigh.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Voting and various thoughts

 Today is voting day in several US States. If that's you, please vote. Safely. Handsome Son and I, both mail-in voters of long standing, whose primary happened before the current disastrous appointment at the post office, were talking recently about workarounds. 

For the general election, we'll use local dropboxes, plenty available, rather than trust the mail.

 Sad to be figuring out workarounds, but we're hanged if we let this election be suppressed. And judging by the current mail slowdown -- small package for me has been sitting in my local po, small town, since last Wednesday. Arrived today. Two miles away. Couple of bills arrived several days late. So we make allowances, just in case.

Meanwhile bits of trivia. I noticed how my bits of Chinese porcelain, some antique like this lovely rice grain bowl, and modern saucer

 mix happily with cheapo cups and teapots from the Asian store. This design is still being made, because it's beautiful,but this one is antique. 

 Teapot lid works as cup lid.

And my Golden Guide to insects arrived.

 In case you're squicked out by them, I've opened to a page most people will like.

To me they're all animals, just as "weeds" are all plants. I am going to study this afternoon.

Teatime now. Pot of tea, lastuv the banana bread.

Monday, August 10, 2020

Monday morning, probably

 When everything's huge, you realize it's late summer. The yellow daisies, rescued from an empty house, the white chrysanthemum several years ago bought as a seasonal little thing, now permanent. The sedum Autumn Joy ready to go pink in September, the Montauk daisies will bud white after that.


At that point the front yard will be all about pink and white with a bit of purple remaining in the Russian sage. Some yellow will remain from the nameless daisies which I won't deadhead because the goldfinches love the seeds. Earlier in the year the color scheme's yellows and purple.

I have to lift iris again, since they hardly bloomed this year, even my fancy rebloomers. I think the groundcover is choking and covering the rhizomes which means foliage and no flowers. Need to do some serious yanking out of groundcover and replant the iris. Cooler weather needed. Also energy. 

And with next year's crops in mind, I'm starting to save and dry Roma plum tomato seeds from my farm toms.

 My own are still green, too soon.  But I'm thrilled that the tomato blight which made home growing impossible for several years, seems to have disappeared.  Nothing worse than mild blossom end rot to cope with.

 Don't you love how I yarn on about crops and disease and blight as if I had a back forty, rather than a few square yards and pots, which I have to defend from rampaging landscapers?

And down the street the gnomes seem to be multiplying. Good year for gnomes.

Sunday, August 9, 2020


Handsome Son being my official shopper, I had to ask him to add in to today's groceries, birthday treats of his choice to enjoy together. With iced tea, lemon, ginger and sugar depending on taste.  Note the distanced serving setup.

He was hugely amused at the Bring Your Own Party concept and showed up with all the groceries and a half cake, chocolate, cream and peanut, plus a container of coffee ice cream. This is the first shop bought birthday cake of his life, and it was pretty good.

 The remains of ice cream and cake went home with him, after a perfectly lovely evening, convo ranging over his birth, his dad's peaceful death, politics, his current electronic diy project, food, the coin shortage, shoes and ships and sealing wax, cabbages and kings.

Yesterday was leaden. Today was gold.

Stuff just goes on growing

 Thank you everyone who emailed, sent eCards, texted, dmd and commented. You were all very helpful and I'm glad I posted. I wasn't going to because it's so private, but decided I'd at least give people a chance to help. Which you all did. 

This was the hardest year to date probably because of the state of the world. But today's another day. And handsome son is grocery shopping and delivering, with extras, his choice, to share for a little celebration later today.

Meanwhile nature's always there with help

Vicks plant for winter cold medicine

Saturday, August 8, 2020

One day, birth and death

 Andrew Adams June 27 1932-- August 8 2011

A. M.  Adams August 8 1967-- present

So today is complicated. Handsome Partner died in hospice at home; at that moment the only person with him was Handsome Son, whose birthday it was. 

After nine years of full on caregiving, I had just stepped out for a minute. Medical staff told me this is not unusual, for someone to die when their nearest is out of the room for a moment.

So today is a quiet thoughtful one.  I made a trip to Handsome Son's condo to leave a little birthday  something to find when he gets home from work. 

And I'll just breathe.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Cooler day, lower humidity, bread returns

After days of high humidity, yesterday 92%, not useful for baking, today was cooler, drier, and I was out of bread other than banana and corn. 

So I seized the day, and here's four loaves in one. One complete recipe, that is, all baked at once. Whole-wheat, bit of white, bit of oatmeal. Caraway seeds strewn around on top, and I had to sweep them up, too. They get around.

Now Hammond Cheese sandwiches with interesting stuff spread on, can happen. I made a spread of softened butter and a bunch of fresh herbs, good for this purpose.

The planting of the red potato, 2020

I managed to dislodge a lemon balm plant, now living where the squash was, after a titanic struggle, it having filled the pot with roots and driven then securely into the ground. So I had a pot for the Potato Planting of 2020.

Filled the pot with new soil, ready for its occupant. You'll notice the drainage holes are left open, to allow roots to get through. And I don't fuss about cutting bits with eyes. I just drop it in whole. I haven't noticed any difference in results between the two methods. 

Watch this space. Potatoes usually make very decorative flowers before they get busy with the little tubers. So they're good at every stage.

The rest of the soil topped up some indoor plants which had used up a lot of their original stuff. You don't always have to repot, since some plants don't object to a new supply right at the ground level.

 It's not like trees or shrubs, which require that you bury them at the right depth or they'll give up.  And today I wasn't up to hauling yet more pots about. So this was Good Enough Gardening. Mine often is. 

I think plants are like kids and pets, they just think what happens at their house is normal and proceed accordingly. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Field and Fen lives up to its title

Today the farm was open again, after the storm closing, full of great things. Their Roma plum tomatoes being far ahead of mine, I seized the day. Lunch will be Jersey toms and Vermont cheese. 

Mrs Moon will smile at my idea of a nice supply of fresh picked green beans. She'll refrain from pointing and laughing, because she's nice that way. This is a lady who grows and picks many gallons of them, puts them up, and gives presents of them. My haul would be the first five minutes of her daily picking.

And one of the proud beauties, red potatoes, will be planted for this year's potato harvest. Once I've found a container not occupied by immovable plants with squatters' rights.

That was the field part, everything out of the field this morning.

Now for the fen, home garden part, not strictly speaking a fen, though yesterday's rain could have had that effect if it hadn't stopped.

This group, sage, let's see if it works, spider plant reliably will, and a second Vicks plant. Just to see if they get along. They've rooted in  water together on the kitchen windowsill. Though the Vicks is a bit pungent for squirrels, I've still inserted peppermint oil drenched qtips. So the group's trying the outdoors.

I pruned the sage which is trying to block the gate

and the Thai basil, since it's starting to seed. I'll collect the seeds for next year. I've been doing this for several years since a neighbor moving back to India gave me her plant knowing I like the flavor.

The prunings went across the street to my contractor/friend/artist/cook who's no gardener so he's happy to have them.

Thai basil is one of those licorice flavored herbs. I like this one, it's a warm flavor. But I don't like fennel as a vegetable, that licorice tastes harsh to me. Yet fennel seeds are fine.

 Star anise I haven't had since I stopped red meat, and it's powerful enough to need strong ingredients, and I liked it then. But anise as a drink, ew. Likewise licorice candy, except I like licorice allsorts because you're really eating toys.

 I think there are shades of flavor in the licorice spectrum. What other foods and drinks have licorice flavor?

Now for lunch.

Bottom line: we're okay

This is the scene this morning, cool and sunny, the main sound that of chainsaws dealing with downed trees.

Hard to make believe that yesterday was all about wind roaring like an express train, torrential rain, trees bending double, for several hours. My little town has minor damage, roads closed, a few power interruptions, nothing like the surrounding areas.

The storm seems to have scored a direct hit locally, over a million people without power in the state, nearest towns to here completely impassable, with trees and wires down on nearly every road. Tornadoes reported.

So, thank you for your good wishes, we did fine, and wish our neighbors had been as lucky.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Storm prep, chipmunk division

Storm Isaiah is here, power flickering, trees bowing, rain in sheets.

An hour ago I saw some storm prep going on at the feeder

Hoping for the best. We have a state of emergency, tornado watch locally.  Offer one up for us, please, that we be safe.

I'll check in later if I can.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Vinegar Days start here

Today was mashed cannellini beans, egg broken in, steamed asparagus stems added, rolled in oatmeal, sauteed in the trusty castiron pan.

 I need to make up a posh name for this. I set these to wait half an hour before cooking, so the oatflakes would get moistened and cook better.  Meanwhile,  back at the sauce..

White wine vinegar taking its first bow, one garlic clove ready to mince, black pepper ready to grind, mayonnaise to add. 

I'm only making enough for today's lunch here. That way I can have variety when I have the last of the posh name things.

Soooo, one teaspoon vinegar, three tsps mayonnaise, one minced clove garlic already blended with the pepper. I like to mix spices and flavor ingredients together to blend before adding them in. I do that with spices for soup -- saute them together before adding liquid, makes the flavors bloom.
Then mix them, set ready to use.

Then saute some of the posh things till they're nice and  brown both sides. Save the rest to cook tomorrow.

And serve yourself a nice little lunch of, here it comes: beignets aux haricots cannellini et asperges. Presentes avec sauce Boud, aioli, le poivre noir, vinaigre, mayonnaise.

Bean fritters! Only better. The wine vinegar was great here, lovely flavor. This is a pretty cheapish dish. Two servings from one can of beans.  Not exactly a dish of poverty though, since you have to have pepper, good vinegar, garlic etc.  The kind of flavoring that makes it good to eat.

This is why food banks like donations of condiments, too expensive for their clients to buy, but make all the difference in cheap meal prep. Just sayin'. They also need $$ especially now.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Diamonds and brimstone

Yesterday was a wonderful spotting day. In the course of one hour on the deck: two juvenile bluejays, still fluffy, waited till a hairy woodpecker finished his turn at the feeder before dashing in. Usually adult bluejays will bustle in and the woodpecker will retreat. The babies haven't learned pushy bluejay ways yet. Then a robin, first in months, hopped by. Then a pair of goldfinches in brilliant plumage swooped past. Then, the grand finale, a hummingbird, first of the year, we don't see many, dashing around the butterfly bush.

I felt like I'd been treated to a variety show.

Today I did some pulling of spent daylily foliage, before the heat got going, up to 100f index, and hauled it away to the woods. 

And in the course of that came across a diamond necklace

And a brimstone moth

Quite a haul.  I identified the moth using various sources including my trusty Golden Guide.

 I swear by these little books. Just enough information, well organized and friendly. I have a few of them on various subjects and they never fail me.

This one has samples of moths I've found and preserved in the appropriate pages, often surprising myself when I forget they're there and flip open the pages.

Polyphemus moth body parts next to its illustration

Clouded locust underwing likewise

Jewels, vinegar and Mantel

This weekend is taken up, aside from garden decor, with the Arrival of the Vinegars and the total adventure of Mantel. With Julia Alvarez in the wings.

I sent away for various vinegars, and seem to have got a duplicate going, but it was confusing, mainly since some were not available, and my ordering got a bit out of order. My current repertoire

 But it's all good, and you will never hear me moaning that I can't get malt vinegar ever again. Lifetime supply. See that basket of little packets!

But the places we'll go, the dishes we'll try! Because I'm worth it.

The bottle of malt was a mistake for red wine out of stock. And the little packets of malt are great, just rather a lot.

 Big red notice on the inner box of packets: do not cut into this box you will damage the contents. Hard to get in without cutting at least the tape. And indeed that punctured a packet, little  fountain,  lovely smell and just missed my eye. Tight packed. Somebody used to packing sardines? Some of the packets may end in handsome son's kitchen, he being a pretty good cook who uses condiments.

This beautiful little guy expired on my door mat. Look at the color. If anyone knows what he was in life please say. I've seen this insect on the sage and other flowers.

And since the long awaited Mantel arrived, that's the current reading. The last in the trilogy of Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies

Julia Alvarez next

Last evening's Book Passage event was Sara Paretsky. I've read several of her V I Warshawski gritty mysteries, the heroine being an intrepid PI.  Exciting stuff and I had no idea how old Paretsky is, nor how funny and good humored and interesting a speaker. Some writers are not cut out for talking and it's better to read them.
 She's good for both.

 She lives in a small town in Kansas, so we're spared the big city I'm really someone vibes given off by writers who shall remain nameless, no need to give them even more attention. And I loved her account of ordering books from her local indie bookstore and having them delivered right away by bicycle.

Since the Book Passage series are all talking heads, you can do other things, at the same time, so she helped me do quite a bit of seam finishing on my jacket, without missing anything.

Life's full of stuff!

Saturday, August 1, 2020

After the Funeral

No, not a Christie mystery. After the obsequies for the squash, the bands have packed their trumpets and drums and left, the caterers have folded up and driven away the chairs, the squirrels have finished the last of the crumbs, the rites all observed, we bravely regroup and go forward.

And here we are. Planter boxes on the deck, with tomato plants and chives, the boxes supporting the rest of the tomato patch behind it.

Furniture moved, still distanced for future visits. Cherry bushes trimmed back enough to accommodate a visitor's chair. Second planter box on its side now acting as a coffee table. Multitasking is not just for humans.

And, outside the fence, the other chair, so rustic it's falling apart, but still a decorative feature of the landscape.

I had scheduled an exercise workout this morning, but decided that dragging about furniture and plants and sweeping the deck and pruning all added up to a bit of exertion. Let's not get carried away here.

One other aspect of this house is that you can see right through it from the street. I like my neighbors to enjoy what they see, and they do look in, very interested.

So i think it's neighborly to garden in a way that will give pleasure to passing walkers. Away with secret private eyes-only gardens. Life's a banquet!