Thursday, February 14, 2019

Apple, raisin, banana bread, with redactions

Since Handsome Son is dropping by later for a cup of tea, and there wasn't a crumb of cake in the place, I jettisoned my plan to bake risen bread, and made a bready sort of thing, with bananas, raisins and a hefty amount of tart apple chunks from the freezer, using whole-wheat flour.

The recipe involves melting and cooling butter, which I do in the microwave. Usually I remember to take it out and add it to the batter.

It wasn't till later, cake baked and cooling that I noticed the flashing signal telling me to retrieve the dish of butter.

Interestingly, it seems to me that there's no difference from the times I've remembered the butter. I'm guessing because there was a ton of apple. It's still one of the better banana breads I've made. I gave it ten extra minutes in the oven  because of the apple. What's the function of the butter, then? I ask the expert bakers who read here.

I'll get Handsome Son's verdict later.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

There is a Golden Guide about mosses and lichens

And I tracked it down and here it is

Evidently this title is what I should have intuited. Can't think why I didn't search in terms of what mosses etc aren't!

Exactly what I needed, just enough info to inform, not stultify. Now I need the snow to go away so I can moss hunt. And identify lichens.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

More about natural life and observation

I did find a small book on mosses and other plants, and it's on its way.

Meanwhile, here's a wonderful book about Maria Merian, a seventeenth century self taught naturalist, great illustrator and intrepid woman.

A wonderful painter as well as a fine scientist before that word was invented, and a true naturalist who traveled to find and study species of insects, her knowledgeable artwork would influence Linnaeus, and later Audubon.

I've always turned to books written for children when I need an introduction to a subject. This book is for everyone. A beautiful  production, written respectfully, I really recommend it. And not a bad gift idea  if you know a young girl who is interested in science, and in art.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Finally out in field and fen!

Yesterday was warm enough for spring, and for walking without setting your face against the wind.

So I went down to the pond, which nowadays has a posh park name, and heard birds starting up, early, still ice on the water, but cheerful.

Reminder of the, ahem, historic nature of the place, so this counts as research, not just goofing off in the sun.

Sadly, the original residents, the Lenni Lenapi, were driven away long ago, commemorated here only by the name of the trail, and by local finds of clay lamps and arrowheads.

Looking at this whole small world of mosses, and wishing I knew more about them. Is there a Little Golden Book of Mosses and Lichens?

Home again, so long since I've been here.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Graphic novels, picture books for grown-ups

Since long ago discovering Maus, then more recently the work of Alison Bechdel, I've been interested in the graphic novel as an exciting art form. Not so much the retelling of classic works with illustrations, though the first graphic volume of Proust, Remembrance of Things Past, is brilliant, do look at it, but original works.

I'm hoping to get my book group to venture into them, so I'm doing a bit of research into what's good, what's available, and passing on my thoughts to the group leader.

Here are the three best so far, already recommended Bechdel and Maus's Spiegelman, and they're all great. The writer/illustrators all get the real point of this genre. Not just a story with pictures added, but a drama where the graphics act out the meaning of the script and add new dimensions to it. The way good actors take on and enlarge their script, or Hilary Hahn interpreting violin music. Check her on YouTube, one of the best musicians ever.

Maira Kalman gives us a wild careering ride through the mind of a brilliant artist, who takes in all the threads of life and imagination, every emotion you can have, in her The Principles of Uncertainty, the title already a riff on Heisenberg . And Bintel Brief is a new look at that famous phenomenon of the early twentieth century, the reader letters to the editor of the Forward, the Yiddish newspaper of the Lower East Side of New York.

You don't have to be a New Yorker to love her take on the letters and the shade of their editor. Then there's Notes on a Thesis, and you don't have to be a graduate student to follow the struggles of a young woman getting her Ph.D despite family, friends, even her own adviser and fellow students. The illustrations are a constant subtext.

So there's where I am now. Still reading books without pix, Guns of August, Night Circus, The Other Einstein, with dear old Less than Angels, favorite Pym. I love Catherine Oliphant, like dropping in on a friend.

But do try graphic novels, and if you already do would you please share your recommendations? I'd love to hear.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Mini green house in action

Finally got the mini greenhouse going. I tried a few days ago, all ready to go, out on the deck, container, tools, camera, determination, found the potting soil totally frozen. Oh.

Brought all the doings back indoors including the bag of soil, to thaw out. Then realized it was about twice the size that the little container could manage.

So today set up a row of pots and off-loaded half the contents into the pots ready for spring anyway.

Then had to staple shut the bag, after stabbing the drainage holes.  Then it fitted nicely, and I cut out the window, scattered the lettuce one side, parsley the other.

The sun obligingly came out to confirm this is a good spot. Then I fitted the container on to the lid, which snaps shut, see the red snap thing on the side, squirrel deterrent, and we're all set.

I'll let you know how it goes!

Sunday, January 20, 2019

This is a salad kit, aka a greenhouse

Just pottering about, crocheting, listening to Night Circus on YouTube, then looked around and found myself somehow at the Roots and Refuge channel. With a great mini greenhouse idea for growing a bit of salad in the winter. Go there and find it, credit is all hers. And she has a helpful ginger cat who whiffs his tail across the camera, wanting to be included.

Piper got me thinking about it, but my scope is more modest, and here's my kit.

Everything already in the house. I had kept a few packets of seed when I gave away a gardensworth to a young man trying his hand. The rest of the seeds are tender, also inedible flowers, so the two you see are the trial packets.And an unheated greenhouse is best for hardier seeds, so lettuce and parsley are good possibilities. I'd like a bit of baby lettuce in the winter and possibly parsley for me for once, instead of the dusky swallowtail caterpillars. I'll give them a pot later.

I dumped out my embroidery frames and hoops into a crate to use their container. No, you don't punch drainage holes in the container, it's unharmed, read on.

You punch the drainage holes in the bag of potting soil, see it outside the window, turn it over, rest it on the lid of the container, flat on the ground. Or, chez Boud, flat on the pachysandra, then cut an opening in the topside of the bag, just a window. I've used quite a bit of the soil from this bag, so the level will probably work. If it's a new bag you have to scoop some out, since it's compressed in the bag. Now scatter the seeds, invert the container over the whole doings. If the soil is dry, sprinkle it really gently. Mine's damp, may skip that. And voila, or walla, as those annoying diy ladies say.

I'll update you on how, and if, this works. If we have warmer days, it might need to be propped a couple of inches open to avoid too much moisture. But since tomorrow is frigid, it's not even going out till later in the week. This has real possibilities. Watch this space!

Friday, January 18, 2019

Storm prep

Back to back snowstorms forecast, dramatic state of emergency declared for tomorrow. So major storm prep chez Boud.

1. Look at shelf where the flashlight is.

2. Check shelf for emergency tinfoil blanket

3. Bring in wooden cat, snow shovel and brush.

Done. Took five minutes, very exhausting. Now to crochet and read.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

RIP little simple phone

Yesterday, after a few days of losing its charge, my little old phone, simple, just texted and called, very low cost, failed to wake up.

I had resisted mightily the smartphone, since it did more than I need. The iPhone was a nonstarter, for various reasons having to do with its cultish aura. The Android smartphone had a shaky start, and I  was clinging to my old one.

But needs must, and after studying online, I went off and spent about three minutes buying a reasonably priced phone. I was only concerned  that it be the same low cost carrier, and was home and setting it up before I realized it was a smartphone! Oh well, it does work and it's an acceptable rate.

However it leaves me with a small dilemma: what to do with all the  dear departed's clothes? The little purses I'd knitted, spun and woven, beaded, crocheted, and used, to carry the phone with me at all times, as a safety measure.

Seen here, arranged like a tribute to a Pharaoh, are the items. So here's the question, since the new phone is way too big for them, what to do with them?

All suggestions entertained. Especially entertaining ones.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Gingering up the food around here

Very early awake, and wondering what to do about it, I wandered through one of those "56,783 ways to cook ginger"  features online and promptly got up to try a couple.

Here's a rub, or as Shakespeare would put it, ay, there's the rub. His was a gloomier take, though. Anyway here are chicken breasts, no thighs available that day, and breast needs all the help it can get, with their rub.

 Mixture of cayenne, ginger powder, celery seed. I left the rub mixed for a couple of hours before applying it, to let flavors get acquainted.  I'll let you know how it goes. And just now, I remembered to add a bit of turmeric, not in the pic.

And then there are ice cubes for dropping into tea, instead of milk. Some people don't like milk in their tea. These are lemon juice, ginger powder and honey, and water. They could also be a handy cold remedy, come to think of it. I bagged them for refreezing to free up the tray.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Flounder puttanesca.

Just made this really good, very easy fish. Usual flounder, favorite whitefish, goes with anything.


Added the rest of the tomato sauce from the lasagne, from the freezer. Heated it
 through with big helping of capers, squeeze of anchovy paste, spread over flounder with a chunk of parmigano reggiano rind, hot oven for 30 minutes. Really good. Interesting, not too salty. Enough for two meals fron one fillet. You can rinse off and reuse the cheese rind. Supposed to have olives, but I didn't have any.

There's the added virtue of eating fish, too. I'm still in antidote mode after holiday food, except for the slice of birthday cake from the freezer. A girl's gotta have dessert, life's short, and other such excellent reasons I just made up.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Pease pudding returns

A passing comment online reminded me of pease pudding, ancient Yorkshire food. I remember it from childhood. Probably homemade, but you could buy it cooked, too. You remember the rhyme about pease pudding hot, pease pudding cold? This is the very stuff.

This recipe is for yellow split peas, or pease, but I think I've had it made with green split peas too. Goes with ham. Or anything you fancy.

Since I had all the ingredients in the house, the split peas, onion, carrot being the main players, I put the peas in to soak all day and cooked last night. Didn't have bay leaves, so I used the Indian equivalent, curry leaves. Butter, seasalt, vinegar, didn't have malt, used apple cider. Malt vinegar in the US is an exotic, found on the foreign, expensive, shelves.

So here's the doings, simmering till tender, about an hour and a half. Then the carrots, onions and curry leaves fished out, blended to almost smooth, add salt, pepper, vinegar, beat in a bit of butter. Done.

I had a slice for breakfast, heated and a fried egg resting on top. Nice plain relief from party foods. Some people like to use it like hummus, so I guess it's Yorkshire hummus. It's one of those foods that improve over days.

About curry leaves: they are flavorful, not hot at all, great in vegetarian cooking, nothing to do with what we call curry. The name is confusing. I just use them where I'd use bay leaf.

You can also grind split peas in your coffee grinder, to make flour. It's fun, though the noise alarms the neighbors.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

New year's resolution put into practice

Since I have basically given up on hoping for self improvement, I decided again to improve my surroundings, instead.

First of the month, fresh flowers. I was waylaid by the little primrose plant cunningly displayed near the flowers.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Pix from a very good day

I organized the main dishes

While the table waits to be charged with food!

The coffee table is set up till Handsome Son arrives with the cheeses and crackers and breadsticks

Which he does

Ready for a prosecco toast and the appetizers

And we enjoy a great meal, good company, very relaxed.  Videos with dessert of cookies, chocolates, eggnog, large pot of tea. No pic, photographer overcome by food coma..

Very nice holiday. We put a bit out for the birds, too.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Christmas Eve

Wishing you all who celebrate it,  a Merry Christmas! Whether quiet or crowded, have a wonderful day.

Today there's cooking chez Boud, and celebrating because we're here, we're well, and what could be better? We wish the same for you and your family.


Saturday, December 22, 2018

Today's crochet caper

I did this, stitching along, today, to creative grandma's tutorial. Never did treble posts before, nor stitching round the posts, so that was interesting. I did have to pause the video now and then to get my bearings. This is a mosaic stitch, designed for four colors but I only had two compatible ones. I was mainly interested in in the stitches. But for the best effect you really need the color changes

And I found that though this is the official right side

I really liked this one at least as well, the official back.


grey day well spent. And I now realize I was so excited I put it in the wrong blog, doh. Should be in Art, the Beautiful Metaphor. Oops.

Interesting bread finding

Take a look at this

Chicken sandwich, made pita bread style. Except that it's not pita bread. Last time I made bread I was a bit slapdash with measuring the flour, and probably ended up with maybe three quarters cup less than I shoulda. I noticed the dough was much wetter and less formed than usual, even after I added in a bit more flour, but decided to see what happened. I was making bread rolls anyway.

And, as expected, they spread quite a bit, took a bit longer to bake, 25 rather than the usual 29 at 450f. And I found it was a way to make my own pita bread. The crust is crisp, and you can insert a knife, split and stuff the roll. This is great.

It's not often a baking goof works out. But this one is worth revisiting.

Friday, December 21, 2018

protests and partying

Arrived today: splurge on candy from long ago, because it's Christmas

And my part in the resistance.

 My life has many parts.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Lasagna and why it's rare around here

I've been noticing for ages at the back of the high kitchen cabinet, half a box of lasagna noodles, and been vaguely planning to use it up.

Several obstacles, the ground beef which is a meat never on my radar, or any other beef for that matter. The mozzarella which is a summer thing here, eaten with fresh farm tomatoes. Not lasagna weather. The ricotta, ruhgahda as the younger Mrs Soprano used to say it, just never in my kitchen. The tomato sauce likewise.  The only things I had were the noodles, sausage and tomato paste.

And then there's the cost, more than Christmas dinner when you add it up.

The actual cooking is okay if you have time. Which I did today. And realized that my hot Italian turkey sausages, the kind you can skin, to use the meat, would work fine. And it went from there. First finding a pan the right size. Why do recipes specify the size in inches instead of capacity, since that's the measurement incised into the pan? So the recipe also involved finding a ruler.

Shopping trip. Rationalizing that it's only once every few years, as I see the checkout totals. I went to an expensive store, only the best, since it's only once every few years.

A lot of prep, boiling the pasta,  and cooking on the stove, chopping and sauteing, mixing,  long simmering of the sauce, then assembly, then baking, and finally it emerged smelling pretty good. And then you have to wait for it to be ready to cut.

This is dinner today, then a series of future meals, including a couple of meals for handsome Son's freezer. And there's spare ricotta, must find recipes, and spare tomato sauce, in the freezer. And it's only once every few years.

And then I found another half box of lasagna noodles, arghghg.

But here comes the cook's first taste. This really shouldn't wait a few years before I make it again. It's waaaaaay good.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Birthday fun

Handsome Son arrived with wonderful seafood lunch, home baked chocolate chip cookies, and general goodwill for the day.

After we had eaten ourselves to a standstill, we brought down the Christmas decorations and proceeded to transform the big book case into Christmas Central.

All the old ornaments, from the needle pointed ones handsome partner loved, made by a workmate, to gifts from friends, including the Snow Leopard stars, souvenirs of handsome son's childhood,  three creches, all the dolls, from Dollivers to button dolls to tiny porcelain ladies. And the Dolliver Kennels turned out in style. Teddy bears.  Along with cats and mice.

Handsome Son set up a can light and we're set.

After that came a delivery of flowers, perfect timing. Thank you, dogonart, sister Irene.

Lovely day, just eating sponge candy, drinking tea and loafing now.

This has been a grand opening day for my new decade. Wheeeee!

Friday, December 14, 2018

Follow up on Mike's Butternut squash soup

So as promised, I checked with Mike for the recipe, and, as expected he said well, there isn't one really. Just be sure to roast the squash to tender, add chicken broth, grated Parmesan, minced sage leaves, salt, pepper, blend, eat.

So do that! I think the combo of Parmesan and sage was a big part of why it's so good.

Quinn, if you try it, please let us know how it goes.

Boud vs Squirrel update

As you see, the squirrels continue to get more than their fair share of the suet.

But they have been completely unable to steal the container, so birds are getting a look in. I'm calling this a draw.

That giant begonia I used as a hide to shoot from is the one I blogged about a while back, part of which I started from a single leaf stuck into potting soil then left alone. Now taller than I am.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Bean fritters

New invention I think. Can of habichuelas, white beans, simmered 20 minutes, drained, mashed, egg broken in, rolled in a mix of panko, cayenne pepper, and grated Parmesan, sauteed. One can makes two meals.

The idea of simmering came from Jack Monroe. I always like frittered foods, and you can mix and bread practically anything. Hp was partial to salmon fritters, but anything that can be mashed can work.

Cleared up the last of the garden this am. Cut back the dead bits of thyme, which still give off a lovely scent when cut, and the sage, lemon balm, chives and various other dormant plants. This way they're ready for spring. Aren't we all.

And lunch was interrupted by handyman/cook/artist/friend Mike bringing over a sample of his butternut squash soup, with some sage in it from my garden, a bunch of which he has in the freezer.  Tomorrow's lunch will be this soup with bean fritters part two.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Afternoon tea with Christmas cookies

Little pre Christmas gift of homebaked cookies. Can't let them go stale!

The shortbread pig seems very appropriate.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Hot supper for a cold December day

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

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

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

Like this

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

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