Friday, November 29, 2013

GIving Thanks

Thanksgiving, Handsome Son in attendance (and bringing cheese and crackers and pie and other good things) went very happily.  We had a lovely afternoon, all the food turned out nicely, I remembered to serve everything I'd cooked -- this has not always been the case -- and we were just very pleased with ourselves.  HS departed early evening, bearing a plate all tricked out with everything, to reheat for today's leftover dinner, and the rest of the pie.

So many things to be thankful for!  my returning health, friendship with HS, good neighbors, great friends emailing and calling to make sure I'm still vertical,  good wishes for the day from people in other countries who still remembered about Tday here.

And in this blog, of course, priority thanks go to readers and commenters and emailers and supporters, thank you all!  you are so important, can't tell you how I look forward to writing in here and doing my bit to entertain and amuse and seeing  if it works for you!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Pasteurized books...old joke, books that have passed your eyes..

Since I've been a devoted reader user, I've noticed a steep dropoff in reviewing books in Field and Fen, which I attribute to a. the speed at which I've been whipping through books in the absence of enough good health to do much else, no time to stop and write, and b. The fact that I can't make a fancy arrangement of books for a photoshoot, complete with Dollivers pointing to the pages in case you didn't know how a book works.

So here's a bit of catchup:  currently falling about laughing at Jasper Fforde (how to people get that extra f?  an ancestor was very nice to Charles II?  prithee fair maiden, accept this f in token of a very nice time this evening. Oh, sire, thanks to you I now have an f to my name.  Or something) 

Anyway, his Thursday Next, Literary Detective, on the trail of violent criminals involved in swiping literary works and changing the endings, is  fun to read. I downloaded a whole series of them just in case I liked them, and I'm glad I did.

Then less happily, I read Julie Powell's Cleaving which received a lot of bad, even angry reviews so I won't pile on, but went back to see her Julie and Julia, since I liked the concept and loved the movie.  

And found that the movie is to be commended for sanitizing Julie Powell's  writing, her life and especially her kitchen, the squalor of which is almost unreadable.  Hard to grasp that her friends were willing to eat the food that came out of it, however wonderful it looked.  There's a big difference between being a Texan come to Noo Yawk to be a bohemian, very self conscious scruffy housekeeping stuff, and being a danger to your neighborhood.

I am one of those original owners of Julia Child's book, completely with ironic inscription from husband, and it was fun to look at the recipes Julie Powell, the blogger and writer, was struggling with.  For a while, before it was overtaken by the sad reality of her surroundings.

So, though she has a massive talent as a writer, I guess I wish she had a different way of using it.  Rabelais wasn't disgusting, he was funny, witty. Same with Chaucer, funny juxtapositions, deliberately pulling the legs of his readers.  Maybe she could take a look at them and see what to leave out.

Then into James Patterson's Women's Murder Club series, which I'm reading through in big gulps, very exciting stuff, great escapist reading.

Some good nonfiction too: Jeffrey Toobin's The Oath, very good about Obama's Supreme Court and all the subtexts therein.  He's a cracking good writer on dry topics.  And Richard Brandt's One Click, about Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder and his business life. It seemed very solipsistic to be reading about the founder of Amazon, and the Kindle, on a Kindle, but oh well.

And there are many others, including a couple of the Inspector Vera books, as good as the tv series, which was also good.

So that's me, and the illustrations are in your own head.  Like listening to the radio.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Seven score and ten years ago

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. 

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. 

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. 

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.

It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863

If you've visited Gettysburg, as my family did, many years ago, partly as a historical outing, partly to respect the resetting of our nation that took place there, you'll have noticed how very ordinary those fields look. 

Greatness does look ordinary at the time. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Pumpkins ahoy!

Aside from the giant pumpkin which is now known by my neighbors as the squirrel buffet, I got a nice little eating pumpkin in my last of the year farmshare.

So today I made a giant pot of pumpkin and split pea soup, with rosemary pesto, and croutons sizzled onto the soup bowl from the pan, homemade wholewheat bread.  Very nice.  The sizzle really does spark up your appetite.  

No pix, since it's 1. eaten for lunch and 2. put into little containers for a couple of favored dear friend neighbors Karen and Girija, and now sitting on their steps to cheer them when they come home from work and 3. in the freezer.  I usually text people when I leave a treat on their step so they don't squash it flat by walking right on it unawares.

I started doing this sizzling trick when HP, in his later months, had difficulty getting interested in food, having lost all his sense of taste and smell years before (medication blunder by doctor, sigh).  I tried the sizzling right in front of him, and he said, gosh, I can't wait to try this!  ha.  And he did enjoy his soup a lot more.The feller who invented that saying about selling the sizzle, not the steak, had a point.

I also got a great tip from Girija, my vegetarian Indian friend (religious reasons, very careful about food ingredients) to spark up a soup,a dash of lemon juice on the serving just before eating.  Works a treat.  That or a spoonful of plain yogurt, which I have been doing for years, but the lemon juice is a nice other choice.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Spinach quiche, but it's kale.

Still finding energy somewhere, and cooking is about my speed right now.  Made a nice crustless quiche from dianesowo's recipe, which I've made many times.  

Hers is a spinach quiche, but I didn't have spinach. I did, however, have a  great big bag of kale, shoved unprocessed into the freezer a few weeks ago, ready for whenever I was in the mood to deal with it.  I figured that kale would cook down exactly like spinach, and so it did. 

And since I had the eggs and sharp cheddar and onions and garlic, I was all set.  I like this way of doing kale: bust it up frozen solid, made that very easy, removed tough stems, rinsed the leaf bits, then steamed like spinach, and added to the rest of the items, in a pie plate at 350F for 30 minutes.  

Here's the quiche,minus today's lunch.  That's a full meal for me, which is probably why I'm not, unlike a lot of people who love to cook and eat their output, traditionally built like Mme Ramotswe in the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency!  I keep on being surprised at how small I seem to be these days -- why am I not that great big tall woman I always thought I was?  well, I have lost a couple of inches, and that seems to have pushed me below the threshold into the petite section. 

Aside from making it a lot harder to work on my kitchen counter or reach the top shelves in the cabinets.  I guess five foot five is the standard height you need to be to work at the standard counter.  Taller than that and you're bent double with a back ache.  Smaller than that and your shoulders are all tired out.

I've toyed with standing on a little platform, but I know my memory, and it's only a matter of time before I forget and step back and knock myself out falling backward!

I now have a bit more room in the freezer -- kale takes up a ton of room, almost as bad as a cat in a double bed -- and a nice quiche for future meals, warm or cold depending on the mood of the cook, in the fridge.  This is good.   Oh, and it tasted okay, too.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Statistics and other random stuff, eat your heart out, Twitterverse!

Today's a quiet observance of the birthday of a long departed sister. And on the 17th another birthday, another long departed sister.  The 18th is my parents' wedding anniversary, I think, not certain, the 93rd anniversary.  The 22nd is the fifth anniversary of the opening of this blog, which now boasts 800 posts, and many many pageviews.  When I hit publish, it will be 801, but who's counting.. December 4 is the birthday of Tarang, honorary grand daughter now a college freshman. December 15 I will be 75, which is a nice round number, three quarters of a century, oh. Then December 28th will be my fiftieth anniversary of arriving on this continent, never to leave, to live happily ever after.  

Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, nothing to report!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Dollivers Bring in the Sheaves. And the apples. And squash. And green tomatoes. And broccoli

Today was the last farmshare day of the season.  I thanked Jill S., the farmer, for another wonderful year of produce, and I'll email Amy, her daughter, who organizes and runs the CSA for the farm, to let her know all that work was worth it. Definitely signing up again next year.

So here are the Dollivers, with the last great bounty of the year. Not shown is the broccoli, processed and reposing in the freezer to keep it fresh.

Today, friend and local small contractor, Michael E., was finishing up a bit of exterior work for me, and I gave him a couple of snacks to take home.  He's a great cook, always interested in what I cook.

I had made patties from Hubbard squash, from last week's farmshare, steamed till very tender, then mashed with some egg, tofu, and a bit of seasoning.  The patties I rolled in an Indian spicy crispy snack thing, name unknown, which I crushed to crumbs. Then sauteed in a bit of olive oil. Very spicy, very good.  Had them for lunch. 

So a couple of them went home with Michael to try out.  He's making zucchini lasagna tonight and I want the recipe if they like it. Neighborhood food exchange!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Creative energy's returning and showing up in the kitchen!

I know I'm going in the right direction in getting well again (thanks, Stefi for that remark, which was just great to read) since I actually did some experimental food today.

This is what you might call Neighborhood Baked Green Tomatoes!  Karen A. gave me a whole bunch of green tomatoes figuring I'd probably know how to cook them.  And I decided to bake them, sliced, half an hour with oven at 350F with a breading of egg and crushed Indian snack food which was whole peanuts in a shell of very spicy stuff.  Crushed like breadcrumbs, mixed with a bit of flour.

Anyway, you see them here, beautiful slices of green tomato with reddish inside, what a beading design that would be, then "breaded" with the mixture I explained, then served for my evening meal.  

I've always thought that cooking for one gives you one of the most appreciative audiences you can have!  Cooking for an appreciative audience is nice, but we often don't have that! that's why women invented other women would really tuck in and enjoy their food.

Great fun to be playing in the kitchen again, and I'll save samples for both the friend who gave me the toms and the friend (her next door neighbor) from whom the spicy peanuts came.

I sampled this myself, and really liked it a lot.  You have to like spicy to enjoy this.  And a glass of Yellowtail Moscato, odd sort of choice, but it's very light, sparkling, fruity sort of wine, perfect to offset the highly spicy tomatoes.  Worked for me, anyway.  

I don't consider myself much of a wine person, you'll be relieved to hear, since you won't read any "I'm amused by the presumption of this little wine" kind of comments here.  In fact I expect you'd be amused by my presumption if I started making them! But this was just a nice experiment that worked, so I thought I'd mention it.