Saturday, December 26, 2009

Books and food and cosy stuff

This entry starts with a portrait of one of our favorite recipes, thanks to Diane, a crustless spinach quiche. Well, you could use practically anything in it, I guess, but spinach is very very good, and the fact that there's no need to foofle around with pastry, one of my less keen interests, is a big deal. Diane posted this ages ago, I think because it is okay for Passover? and it promptly took a premium place in the not very long list of Stuff I Like to Cook. And it never occurred to me before that of course you can make it without a crust, there's no law about this!

And on the subject of food, endless entertainment for HP and me on Sunday afternoons when there's a procession of cooking shows on tv, a new interest for me, watching people cook, though I've picked up a lot of tips, but an old interest for him, in his single days he used to cook on Sundays for the week, and listen to various cooking things on the radio! Nowadays it's Jacques Pepin, Julia Child, Lidia Bastianich, variously wandering about Italy and each others' kitchens, and other people too on farms and various homey sort of settings.

A lot of what they cook I wouldn't touch with a bargepole, it being high in meat, which we rarely do, and generally more work than it's worth. Except that I make Tibetan flatbread routinely now, having seen Jacques Pepin doing it.

But watching people like the bigs cutting and chopping and displaying wonderful expertise with a couple of knives, is fun in itself. Not to mention the number of things I've learned and applied to our own food. I love to see them taste and really appreciate color and flavor and texture and all that, with a minimum of measuring, just years of experience.

One thing I don't believe much in (with the shining exception of Ploom Croomble) is cooking ripe fruit. Heck, if peaches are ripe and juicy and scented and lovely, just EAT THEM! likewise practically every other fruit that ripens.

I have to thank internet friends such as Diane for the spinach quiche, and other people who explained how to do potstickers right, and the people who tried to help me find ways to use a wok I acquired, none of which was something I couldn't do with pans and steamers I already had, so I freecycled it to some other eager soul, who is probably right now wondering what new things to do with it. Now that I've acquired some interest in food -- I always cooked pretty well, but in a detached kind of way before -- it's good to share. Lunch is our main meal now, and HP really enjoys it, high point of his low key day, so that's a big part of it.

Today is Christmas leftovers: cold cuts of the ham and turkey, with cherry sauce and cranberry sauce, and homemade picalilli (I have to thank Rhonda for putting me onto that, by asking what the heck it was and one thing led to another, and les Adams ended up with quite a bit of it), and stuffing, and the remains of the corn and sweet potato and mixed vegs.

Cup of homemade chicken noodle soup to start, just for another hot element, since it's lashing down rain and not freezing but definitely soup weather today. And slices of fruitcake, I was given one by HS as a present, as one of the few people in the world who loves it, and didn't have any this year. I notice people eat it promptly if you put it on their plate, though...and leftover apple pie from yesterday and ginger ale, which I only have on holidays.

And then there's the question of books.

This year I have as usual read a huge amount, being a very fast reader, finishing a lot of interesting ones, and also made valiant attempt at books that I failed to finish, largely because they were so large.

The wonderful Wolf Hall, by Hilary someone whose name will come as soon as I stop trying to think of it, Mantel, that's it, and the Children's Book thing by AS Byatt, both well written, but just waaaaaaay too long for the content. You kept on thinking, well, listen this must be nearly finished, mustn't it, and the writer launches into another five hundred pages of plot....I just wish there were more editors in the world.

But I have arrived at the sage wisdom that there is no law that I have to finish a book just because I started it, a corollary of the law that you can make a quiche without pastry if you want to. This for a hellbent finisher such as I is a massive epiphany, I want you to know. This is a Sagittarian speaking, an Earth Tiger, too. So refraining from finishing up the prey I brought down is no small thing...

One book I loved and did finish, and reread bits of and recommended to other tea lovers is a wonderful one about tea and teatime and china and traycloths and all kinds of lovely afternoon fantasies and recipes none of which I will cook, but which I did enjoy reading about and if I can remember the title, or if Rhonda or another reader from the tea lovers topic in Ravelry can post it here, I will pass it on, because it's a lovely book to dip into now and then while you drink your afternoon cup of tea.

And there's Socks from the Toe Up, which I equally won't knit, but love the presentation, just lovely stuff, by Wendy Bennett. If you are looking for trouble in the New Year, let me unleash weaving and bookmaking on you...hehheh...witchy cackle here.

Kathy Blake's Handmade Books, a paperback of great beauty and simplicity is my favorite of all bookmaking books, and close behind is Cover to Cover by Shereen LaPlantz. This reminds me that there's an artist's book in the studio in the beginning stages which will eventually make its way to you, Gaby, in the not too distant future. It got a bit sidelined by the extreme cold up there recently, but will happen.

And Weaving Without a Loom, wonderful teaching, partly for kids, I suppose, but excellent for simple souls like me, how to create looms from cardboard and making great stuff with them, by Veronica Burningham. Anyway, these are physically lovely books, I even bought them, which will tell you something, to browse in even if you never cook from them.

All three of these books have triggered massive projects in my studio, and endless fun doing them and learning new skills right and left.

So that's my wish for the New Year: the BEST kind of trouble to all of us!


  1. DH asked what "THAT" was as soon as he saw your pic of the quiche. Looks very nice - his comment "so it's a spinach omlette." I have a very easy (never fail) quiche recipe with a crust which you don't need to make separately.

    3 eggs, 1C grated cheese, 1/2C self raising flour, tblsp oil, 1 1/4C milk, 1 finely chopped onion, seasonings

    Put all ingredients into a container with a tight-fitting lid and shake for 1 minute. Pour into a well greased quiche dish, add whatever goodies take your fancy - tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms and the like. Bake at 180 deg C (350F I think) for 45 min or until slightly brown on top.


    The tea book sounds very interesting. Will have a look in my library and see if I can find it.


  2. Liz, if you like to watch cooking shows, you might also like this Utube video showing how to make roti. I love these with curry, and someone gave me this link. So simple, I'm looking forward to trying them.


  3. Thanks for the lovely picture of the crustless quiche - yes, it works for Passover as it doesn't have any bread products in it, and it happens to use my second favorite veggie - spinach. ;-)

    I've been a dedicated finisher too [also a Sagittarian], but recently, I have given myself permission not to finish, and even sometimes, not to read the assigned book at all and still go to the book club meeting. What fun!


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