Thursday, October 30, 2014

This Month's Bite Club Test Drive

This month's Bite Club, the cookbook book club, is looking at America's Test Kitchen, and I hauled home my loan copy of their Big Cookbook, weighs a ton, and is really an encyclopedia, and decided to try their Corn Fritters as my sample to bring in.

They want heavy cream, which I don't use, so I subbed good homemade plain yogurt,  the corn was very fresh when I froze it, complete with its milk, that sticky stuff that tastes good but sticks your hands together when you're processing the ears, ew, and the minced shallot was freshly minced, good cornflour, good ap flour, large egg (for once, usually I use medium).  Even had cayenne pepper in the house, amazingly.

So I'm trying it out on Handsome Son when he comes to visit this evening, and had to do a test drive of one fritter, seen here drying on a paper towel, to see how it went.  Pretty good, if I say so myself.  We'll see what his verdict is when he tries them. And it will be a test of how well the batter sits in the fridge for a few hours.  If there are any leftovers, I'll try freezing them, a further test.

So this month I hope to have some actual food to bring in and share.  I'm also going to bring in my back copies of the Test Kitchen magazine, and a few Marthas with recipes, to give to anyone who would like them to keep.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Kitchen as Therapy Center

This evening is the monthly Board meeting of my embroidery guild, and we're really up against our demographics.  What with our aging membership, though we have received joyfully a couple of younger members, most people are either not able to drive at night, or are not very well themselves, or are caregiving a spouse.

All this really cuts into their ability to take part, even with the best will in the world, and they definitely have that.  Currently our doughty Nominating Committee, founder members of the group, in fact, are trying to assemble a slate of incoming officers to replace the terms ending in December.  My term as president is one of them.  And other people are struggling with their tasks, for the reasons I said above, and might not be able to succeed themselves for another term. Sooooo, what will be will be.  

We are still wonderfully productive -- trip to Winterthur on Sunday in place of the usual general meeting, Holiday Party in December, special exhibit open in a private home for us in January, your humble blogwriter teaching paper jewelry in February and on and on, exhibit of all our work in August, all set up.  And we've done great outreach, teaching classes to kids, public stitch ins, all that.

But fewer people available to fill the needs, so everyone's stretched thinner, so we'll see what happens.  

Meanwhile I've been staving off sad thoughts by a massive burst of activity in the kitchen.  I made yogurt last evening, and owing to a lack of planning on my part, had to stay up till midnight before I could put it in the fridge, didn't add seven hours to the equation, doh, then this morning made about half of it into yogurt cheese, currently draining in the fridge, and the rest in individual containers just to eat.  The texture is really lovely, using one per cent milk.  

And I use yogurt in many places where heavy cream might be used, and the cheese where cream cheese might come in.  It's tangy and very good.  And the whey that comes off the cheese making goes into squash and other golden colored soups, sparks them up lovely.

Tomorrow night Handsome Son is coming over to do various good things for me in the house, and I'll feed him a very nice menu.  He doesn't read much in here, so I won't spoil the surprise if I say he's getting a bowl of squash/cabbage/tomato soup which had yogurt whey added and is great, beautiful reddish gold color,  then corn fritters, adding in some finely chopped sweet pepper, using my lovely farm corn and peppers from the freezer, no pic yet, I'll make them tomorrow night, and then a helping of the oat apple crumble, which I talk about below.  I think he'll go home happy.

And this morning I made toasted almond flour, from a box of slivered almonds I toasted five minutes at 350F, then once all cool, reduced to flour, or to ground almonds, in my coffee mill.  Useful for anywhere a nice almond flour is required.  Pancakes.  Cake. Desserts.

Also made Martha's really good oat apple crumble, which took all my this week's supply of apples, and some of my homeground oat flour, now here's one I don't mind referring you to the recipe for, since it's really good.  It looks like this:

and if you fancy making it, go here 

So food is good in many ways, for your spirit as well as your general health!  I like very much making basic things such as yogurt and flour and soup, all that sort of thing.  Too bad I don't have a setup for making wine..

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Near the end of the farmshare season

Fall food came home today, along with ornamental gourds to decorate with for Thanksgiving, which is a few weeks ahead.

Wonderful season of food, completely ruins a person for shopping in stores.

Happy as a Clam Fritter

Or croquette, as the posh folks put it.  Last evening wondering what to have for supper, wandering about hopelessly, wanted a change from veggies, I found a can of baby clams waiting for just such an evening.  

Drained them (the juice now in the freezer ready to add the next time I make clam chowder) and since they were already small, didn't mince them further, just mixed with an egg, a big spoonful of homeground lentil flour, little bit of garlic, little dab of mixed mustard, sauted in olive oil.  Done.  Bit of ketchup, and those little yellow shreds are lemon zest, from my little collection in the freezer.  Little glass of white wine, seafood you know.  As if I had choices of wine in the house, heh.  

My food designer seems to have put this in upside down, but she claims that's what a visitor would see, as opposed to the diner. Well, considering I don't pay her anyway, I can't threaten to stop her check.

And another lot for this evening, perhaps with the addition of my Indian spicy crumb things.

I'll be interested in a nonveggie supper again, after an afternoon of farmshare chopping and dicing.  Only one more week of the farmshare, and my freezer is about ready to stop.  Me too.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Autumn walk on the Preserve, lovely time in sun with cool wind, no birds

Glorious catchup!

Okay, since you all bore with my whining about the camera situation the other day, I thought you'd like an update.  A victorious update.  Handsome Son suggested that another possibility was that with the constant plugging and unplugging into my computer, and this camera has had a lot of that, I might have worn out the USB port.  That's the plugger in, for them as doesn't do this stuff.

Whining to my next door neighbor, he said, he being more of a hardware guy, Mike being a software guy, that if that were the case, I could just use a cardreaders in my computer USB slot and access the pix that way!  

I nipped out and bought one, a lot cheaper than the new camera, which I have now cancelled, and plugged it in simplicity itself, screen asked me if I wanted to transfer pix from the card to the software I use, clicked on yep, and it worked a treat.  This is great.

So now you have Had It. I am doing catchup!

Okay, here are the Diwali items you heard about but didn't see, starting and ending with food:

Lord Ganesha features on the box of treats another friend brought over, which also included, true ecumenism here, Greek baklava!

Then Dreads Dolliver and her shy friend made apple jam

As you see in stages, ending with a nice supper of homebaked bread, apple jam and yogurt cheese with a glass of Chablis, not homemade.

All caught up, I'm so thrilled that I'm back in action with minimum fuss and bother, too.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Camera kaput? Try the Mind's Eye 6WS

The lack of a camera makes me feel a bit like someone who talks with her hands and now her arms are in slings!  however, there are other things to pursue, anyway.

Such as all the books I'm constantly in the middle of, usually several at a time.  Can't show you a pic of the covers, which makes it easier to find the books, but nemmind.

I really recommend  How to Speak Money by John Lanchester, a terrific exploration of the terms used in money and what they actually mean, which is rarely what they seem to mean.  Very enlightening and interesting reading, and makes a lot of sense of the terminology being batted around all the time.  So tired of hearing politicians who don't know the difference between the debt and the deficit, then voting on their combined ignorance, gah.  If they took a look at page 104 they'd get it.  Or at least if they get an aide to read it to them, oops, cynical comment there.

And he gets into terms I never heard of which are very intriguing, such as Who is Chocfinger? Anyway, it's all written in actual English prose, some of it very funny, and made clearer than I ever knew exactly why we have inequal distribution of our resources and what purpose it serves. It actually serves a purpose in the neoliberal scheme, and here was I thinking it was an unfortunate side effect. 

He also had the interesting, and real, side effect on my monkey brain of bringing to mind, though he never mentions it, a term which has been hovering just out of reach in my mind for months and driving me batty.  That's it: vigorish.  Look it up on Google and marvel. Especially at its origins.

I promptly wrote it down and looked it up and discovered why I couldn't find it on any financial website or article I'd searched just in case I came across it to set my mind at rest and stop searching for it.  It's because it's a term of bookies and, um, loansharks!  Oh dear, bankers and economists and financial writers not going to admit any correlation there...and if you study credit default swaps, see page 101, you'll notice with the same flash of lightning, major lightbulb, that burst on me, that the vig. is a kind of credit default swap conducted by people in baseball caps in dark alleys, rather than bankers in Armani suits...check em both out and see if you think I'm right.  Just sayin'.

If your brain's a bit tired by this point, and longing for pictures, go and see The Bloomsbury Cookbook, Recipes for Life, Love and Art, by Jans Ondaatje Rolls.  Lovely social history of the Bloomsbury set in their period, Virginia Woolf, sister Vanessa Bell, Leonard Woolf, EM Forster, Lytton Strachey, Dora Carrington, economist John Maynard Keynes, all that mob, very interesting stuff.  High powered talent with positions and connections in society which freed them to live as they wanted. Hot and cold running servants in the background, always, but never alluded to! They worked very hard, though, in pursuit of their various arts and each other.

You don't have to like to cook to enjoy this so-called cookbook, because it's also packed with wonderful illustrations of postImpressionist art, a lot of Vanessa Bell's marvelous work (seen also in the movie The Hours, if you noticed the interiors) and many little drawings by Carrington, and other painters.  And the book comes with a built in fancy red bookmark, just like a prayer book, which amused me hugely considering what they were all up to.  One little sidelight which cracked me up: at one point they all went out sledding on teatrays, and, get this, Keynes' briefcase!

So your mind's eye can work quite well, even without an electronic lens.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Apple Jam, with the assistance of Dolliver Dreads and her little friend

Having a farmshare, only two more weeks to go, twenty six weeks of great produce, definitely pushes you to new levels of vegetable and fruit prep and eating.  The apple crop this year is amazing, at least three different varieties, all huge and perfect fruit, literally handpicked.  The farm family are proud of their new bit of equipment allowing their picker to get the fruit a bit faster, but it's still one individual working up in the trees.

So, all the squash being roasted, stirfried, made into soup, made into bread, baked, made into french fries, that was the squash scene.  And a ton of green vegetables, which will make great stir fries and soup and bread eventually. And the apples have been: applesauce, apple salad tossed with a bit of mayonnaise, no need to get all carried away,  various forms of crumble, and now I made apple jam. Not jelly, jam.

Caramel apple jam,to be exact, with the assistance of Dreads Dolliver and her little friend, who wouldn't tell me her name.  The pix are still firmly stuck in my camera, and you should have heard their screams of rage, after all their work, slaving over a hot jam pot, before they flounced off back to their shelf, but I hope to reveal the pix and their hard work when a new camera comes into my life soon...

Meanwhile, this week's apple share made exactly six cups of cubed apple, just what the recipe ordered, and we'll see how it goes. Very sweet, I'm guessing, judging from all the brown sugar. And it used up the last of this year's pectin supply.  So I hope it works.

Other experiments: I made yogurt cheese from my homemade yogurt and it's really good.  I got about a cup of whey off it, so that's in the freezer for next time I make a squash/sweet potato/pumpkin soup, whichever happens first.

I tried out the cheese, just a bit spread on, on top of a helping of crumble from the freezer.  I must say that time and freezing improved that anonymous crumble considerably.  The y. cheese was good on top, cut the sweetness.

So that's your low tech blogger sighing and sadly waving goodbye to my loyal old Coolpix cameras, faithful to the end, not their fault their software got old and unsupported.  Don't we all....

Diwali, the Hindu Feast of Lights is here aka camera kaput, words must step in

It seems that suddenly my old camera is not on speaking terms with Windows since the upgrade the other day. Why it waited till yesterday to have the fight is not clear, but anyway, I think it's been left behind by the march of upgrades.  I was on borrowed time for a few months, having downloaded against all advice from the mfr who wanted me to buy a new camera, a sort of upgrade, which wasn't supposed to work higher than Windows 7, and I have 8, so I guess I can't complain.

But I plan to anyway, can't talk without me pix!

So here's the text, and if I can get the pix I took out of a different camera, I will catch you up with them.  This is the modular approach to blogwriting.

My neighborhood has a lot of Indian families -- great place to get old, because they're so caring and friendly to older women, wonderful friends -- so the feast of lights, Diwali, which also celebrates Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, brings on all kinds of partying and food and decorated houses and art.

I texted good wishes to a few Indian friends today -- they're not all Hindu, but they tell me that doesn't stop anyone from celebrating a fun time -- and one of them stopped by with a warm plate of Diwali homemade snacks! 

Her house has a lot of strings of red lights, husband loves red, I know, and I bet he picked them, since he has to hang them. I have no idea what I'm eating, except that it's very very good.  The little square ones are sweet, I think, probably nuts and milk base, and the triangle crackers are hot and spicy probably cumin, who knows.  

Down the street  two little girls were out today making their sand art stencils for the festival, and I admired their work, but didn't take pix, because I worry about pix of kids showing up.  So I snook down this evening and took pix of their artworks, and the lights around their house.

At the other end of the block is neighbor Lakshmi, whose festival it probably is, and who decorates her house extravagantly with flowers in season and now with lights.

Great fun, even if you're not Indian.  Looking down my little street, I can count ten houses all decked out in lights for the festival.  As one friend says, I put them up for Diwali, then leave them for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, why not!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A trip down memory lane!

This blogger. a writer and hillwalker, lives almost exactly where I did as a little kid, and in recent correspondence I mentioned that I climbed Roseberry Topping, local sort of mountain there, when I was three, with a lot of help. He promptly put it on his list of hillwalks to do soon, and here it is:

So take the tour.  That sweep of fields across to the hills with the Monument always in view, is permanently embedded in my memory, shows up all the time in my art even when I didn't plan it, and I have a watercolor of a similar scene, one I painted many years ago from memory, one of the earliest pieces I exhibited, at my teacher's urging.

I just ran up to take a quick pic of it, awkwardly from the side to avoid glare, and because it's halfway up my stairwell, can't step back from it, and here's a view, for once without the Monument!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Anonymous Apple Crumble

I made this this afternoon partly because I was in the mood for a bit of dessert, and partly because I had four huge apples still here and the farmshare coming up tomorrow, as well as bags of apple slices and chunks in two freezers -- one next door, and one here!  

And I'd already used a big bag of apple chunks in today's soup.  Which was very good -- buttercup squash, that is not a typo, no, I'd never heard of it before, either, apples, corn, used the water from steaming the squash, which was hard skinned, as the soup liquid.  And still had all these apples to go..

Sooooo, I leafed through my personal recipe book, where all sorts of cuttings and little cards and mysterious notes show up, and found this recipe I couldn't remember saving.  

I wondered a bit, since the oven temp they recommended seemed a bit low, even for a glass pan, and the time of baking seemed a bit short, and the amount of apples seemed inordinately large for the size of glass pan they recommended.  But anyway, who am I to judge, I wonder if the Pope does a good apple crumble, and I went ahead.

And found exactly what you might think.  Enough apple mixture (I had Granny Smiths and I think Cortlands, they were nice) of granulated sugar, lemon juice, to fill TWO dishes. 

The glass one in the foreground being the one they wanted filled.  And not quite enough crumble topping, good oatmeal, ap flour, butter, brown sugar,  to spread over two dishes.  But anyway I soldiered on, all good ingredients, you know.  And that was one reason I went ahead -- the recipe was specifying very good ingredients, which I happened to have on hand.

And I ended up baking for about 20 minutes longer than they said, and pushed up the oven temp, before it started to smell good.  It did taste fine.  But it didn't really get all lovely and brown and bubbly.  It's edible, not wonderful. 

Next time I'll go back to Martha's recipe for a similar item, which went down a treat a few weeks back.  And this anonymous one, cut from some magazine,  I noticed that there was no name on it, no origin, nada, now I know why, will be ceremonially removed from the book and recycled.  You'll notice I'm not giving the recipe, didn't want you to tumble down the same rabbit hole.  A pox on "recipe" writers who don't test the recipe.  Or proof it before going to print.

Meanwhile I now have a big anonymous crumble thing in the freezer and another one in operation in the fridge.  It can be a breakfast item, since it's not too sweet, one point in its favor. 

But, as they say, it's not a dessert you'd actually invite anyone to.  Not that this is a tragedy.  Says she bravely, lip quivering, after all that peeling and cutting and chopping and mixing and baking and rebaking and finally struggling to shove the second dish into the overloaded freezer under an avalanche of little odd shaped frozen packages.  And all the labor of tasting, too.  And having to have a second helping, to see whether it was better the second time..

Saturday, October 18, 2014

When in Doubt, Just Do Everything 6WS

For better or worse, this is how I've always been, though I'm being forced to narrow things down a bit as time goes on.  But there are so few things in life that are irrevocable, that it seems a pity to close off opportunities without even trying them.  

This means I've made some big mistakes, but in the end I've still been glad that even if the experience turned out to be negative, at least I knew how it turned out. Better than wondering what if. Some of the threads in the shawl of life are rough and bumpy.

A job I had long ago involved a lot of work with midlife women at crossroads in their personal and work lives, and they would be very surprised at the suggestion that they could just try several paths, instead of having to analyze and plan and get just the exactly right next step.  This is not what the books tell you.  But most of the books are written by academics who have little to no experience outside of academia.

You don't have to have all your ducks in a row!  they can be waddling all over the farmyard and it will still be okay. I often come across adult art students who want to know ahead of time how a process will come out, and they're a bit disappointed when I say, I don't know, just try it and find out!  And if it's different from their expectations, to deal with that and see what's good about it rather than lamenting the imagined work that didn't happen.

Years later people I worked with on job issues would come and tell me they'd actually followed my advice, to my amazement,  especially the bit about how you can't tell if you'll like a particular line of work until you've been in it a while. 

And they'd say, gosh that was great, I found I liked jobs I never thought I would.  Or they'd say well, I'm glad I had a Plan B, because that job I thought I'd love I just didn't.  But I knew it was okay and I could just try something else instead, no harm done.

Since we're the CEOs of our lives, it's a Good Thing TM Martha, now there's a person who's made mistakes and gone on, to have an exit strategy for any new venture, which might include a different adventure to get dear late Handsome Partner, a lifelong research chemist, used to ask me what I was going to be when I grew up. 

He'd seen me change direction completely in my work every few years, and always ready to change once I needed to move on. He imagined I was always in search of a lifelong job.  I explained that I was already grown up.  That this was how I was.  Life too short to just do one thing. It was fine.  And when he saw how I never lacked employment, which created new opportunities as I went,  in my whole life, he realized that this flexibility was actually a strength, not a lack of resolve!

Life's a banquet!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Chop wood, carry water, make mac et cheese avec un bon coup de broccoli

One of the nicest things about a residential workshop is that it's so restful!  you follow instructions all day, accept ready-organized materials, listen to your teacher, figure out how to do what the project needs, go and be fed when a bell rings,  all we had to do at mealtimes was choose and pick up our food.  The stitching we were doing was demanding, but when it's all you have to think of, it's a lot easier.

Years ago, when I was still able to play violin, I went away for a couple of years in succession to a week-long string players' sort of camp.  Every day was organized into rehearsals, sectionals, private lesson time, meals at set hours, concerts in the evening.  Not a single decision to make, outside of how best to play your part of the music and how not to play on the rests in an inadvertent solo. From eight a.m. to eleven p.m. all hours accounted for.

Just to give you the flavor of this kind of specialized event, one day I got a bit lost trying to find the room where my sectional was scheduled to rehearse, and asked a passing teacher.  Oh yes, well, go past where they're playing Pachelbel's Canon, make a right as soon as you hear the Verdi overture, and then straight on till just before the Vivaldi chamber group.  Yes. My people.

My son commented that it sounded awful, like school but more so, and was amazed when I said, nooooooo, it's restful.  So nice not to be in charge of anything but myself for a few days!  no running program, no teaching and organizing materials for workshops, no deciding on what to cook, nothing but take orders, it was lovely.

My couple of days' stitching workshop was equally great, for all the same reasons.  And now I'm home, and suddenly realized this evening I had to think about dinner.  Cooking it.  Thinking about what to cook then cooking it. Oh.

So I thought, well, I had a great mac and cheese while I was away, and why not do that, change from veggie stirfries and roasting etc. But I did put a handful of farm broccoli in with the macaroni.

So it's mac et cheese, avec le bon broccoli, chez Liz. No particular recipe here, just make a roux, whisk in the hot milk, stir in a bunch of sharp cheese and some mustard along with the kosher salt and the freshground white pepper, not black, it looks as if you dropped it on the floor if you grind black into it, and boil the brocc. in with the pasta. Into buttered dish, pour sauce over. Then 385F for about half an hour.  Bit of cheese grated over the top. Done.

Oh, and last evening right after I got home, a new rug arrived. So I spent the evening, instead of resting quietly after my stitching exertions, moving furniture in order to move the old green rug to the dining area, to make space for the new one in the living area where the old green one had been.

This entailed moving the table and chairs and the various stuff on the table, slide the old rug under all this and put back the furniture, and then unroll the new rug, this was exciting, it was fighting back, very big and unwieldy, and needed me to move the living area furniture and plants to accommodate it. 

All this was complicated by the insistence of the two cats in assisting, since they hadn't seen me for a couple of days and maybe I would run away again if they didn't keep an eye on me.

This rug, a bargain, in fact, at $50, good for a one person light traffic house, has been on my to do list for a couple of years until I got the spare $$ available.  I really like this, and it's good to have a rug under the dining table to rest my feet on.  The cats strongly disapprove of the new rug.  It's Different, and Smells Funny, and it's Here, in Our Living Room, it Should Go Away.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fall sights and adventures

For the latest adventure with my stitching friends, go here.

Since it's harder for me to drive to Cape May the way I used to, to watch birds and walk and see the ocean, because of the distance and the wildness of the traffic nowadays, it occurs to me that this place might be my new getaway.Only and hour and a bit away.

You can arrange quite simply to go stay a couple of days, not expensive for full room and board, and complete with wonderful building, animals, labyrinth, friendly people, very safe and welcoming for a single woman, resident cat and dog, well, this might fill the bill.  And the chief nun in charge of hospitality already said, oh, just call me, we'll fix it up any time you want to come, always room for you.

I've been looking for a place of this kind, for a couple of days now and then, low stress to get to, affordable, and friendly. People to talk to when you want to, but they'll leave you alone when you need to, because so do they.  So this discovery might be yet another great thing my embroidery guild has done for me.

And for funny and nice sights nearer home, take a look:

Gary's Last Rose of Summer, next door on the truck waiting to be planted. Possibly waiting for me to get back from my adventures to help with the planting.  He assures me this is positively the last shrub he's buying.  Yeah. 

And marigolds in the front yard of neighbor and keen gardener Lakhshmi, with and without monarch butterfly, first monarch I've seen this year.  

Very few butterflies about this year, but many amphibians.  Go figure. Happy to see this one, though.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Constant, and Instant, Gardener Next Door

Gary, neighbor always plant and shrub shopping, and for whom I'm the lifetime consultant on things green, came over suddenly, it's always suddenly, this evening wanting an opinion on a newly planted tree or two, and to show me a pot he bought to house an old plant collection now outgrowing its original home.   No time like the present, says I, and we did the transplant surgery right away.

Then, ready to take a pic of its new appearance, he tidied and swept the patio where we did the transplant, to show it off in its new habitat, which I must say is a much better fit than the tiny container it came from.  So he recorded it from both angles, to show its new habitat to the owner via email.

All this took place under the eye of his guard dog, Appi, who is also his granddog.

The difficulty with giving plants, especially collections, as funeral offerings, is that the recipient not only has a nice reminder of the person, but has a longtime task of keeping it going and looking good.  

And when she moves away, as this recipient did, to where the plant could not come, my neighbor inherited it.  She checks up regularly and wants photographic evidence that it's flourishing, so he's nervous all the time about his lack of skill. 

I've been keeping it, and a lot of his other houseplants, happy, and finally said, well, would J., the mother of the person whose funeral this was for, like me simply to take custody?  we know each other, we've chatted gardens, and he came over today to do the transplanting and then, not before the transplant (!) to break it to me that she agrees and that it now lives under my guardianship.

It's found a sudden place on my staging upstairs, which involved a bit of juggling, since the whole thing was a surprise, but it's okay.

And while we were at it, we did a bit of work with his sweet potato plant relative whose name I forget, and I swiped a few cuttings while I was at it, in the name of pruning. 

Officially I do this to give him backup plants if the original one falters, but we both know that gardener's larceny is at work and they will be my plants, along with various other rescues.

So that was the sudden gardening that broke out, not exactly what I thought I'd be doing, but great fun all the same.  He commented that he can't resist when he sees plants needing a new which I said, no, I know,  if you don't have room, you'll find room, even if it's next door..

I can't say I object to all this nice greenery around the place, though.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Rainy cold weather, cold coming on, equals soup

I'd rather be stitching, but lunch was getting near, rainy and cold out there, I'm sneezing and maybe gettig a code, so I stopped stitching to turn to soup and bread making.

I made the hot biscuits originally from the Silver Palate book, but changed up so often that they would probably disown them at this point.  Instead of two cups ap flour, I used one cup ap, half cup oat flour, half cup lentil flour, tablespoonful sunflower seeds, and went with that.  It came out interesting, distinct flavor, not just background for soup, but okay for future reference.


Soup is sweet potato and eating apples, about three of each, I think. With the usual pepper, salt, much turmeric, sprig of curry leaves in, asparagus water for some of the liquid -- these ingredients also make quite a bit of liquid on their own.  Removed curry leaves then blended in the regular blender.

Tasted, once back in the original pot, hm, too sweet, too thick, added a half cup of plain yogurt, homemade, tasted, hm, still a bit thick, added in half a cup of skim milk,  hm, needs more tang still, blurt of lemon juice, better, but bit of edge needed, teaspoon of kosher salt. Ah, that's better.  Now it's soup.  Probably one that nobody but me would actually like, but well, unless you're planning to come over, not to worry about that.

Title: sweet potato apple soup avec lentil/oat hot biscuits.

I Keep On Thinking It's Tuesday 6WS

The title is the punchline of an old joke, the kind which definitely separates the People Who Get My Humor and the People Who Don't.  Not, as Seinfeld would say, that there's anything wrong with that!

But as I stagger and stumble and ponder my way through this life, I keep on coming across people who don't get what I'm talking about, and I'm learning that I don't have to educate them, even if they ask.  I can leave them alone.  They're fine as they are. Saves me a lot of angst and energy.  But it does make the people who do get things without explanation all the more important and treasured.

The joke? This is not a test, if you don't think it's funny, move right along....

So, two hippos in the wallows, enjoying the mud and splodging about, when one suddenly stops splodging, turns to the other  and says, You know, I keep on thinking it's Tuesday.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Oat flour pancake, the all purpose food

This morning's breakfast, since I was low on eggs, was an oatmeal flour pancake, with a honey drawing on the plate.

Then this evening, I diluted the same old pancake mix -- oat flour keeps developing and thickening as it goes -- and added it to a stirfry of red bell peppers, onions and little celery chunks, with a curry leaf and a big knob of homemade pesto, sorry don't know which, frozen hands couldn't get far enough in to see the label, and there was a cascade of frozen food falling all over me at the time.

Anyway, made the stirfry, which smelled wonderful, and added in a pancake's worth of batter to continue cooking, ending with a nice supper, remembering to remove the curry leaf before serving -- they work like bay leaves, give flavor, you remove them before eating since they're a bit tough.

Here with my ancient Lenox wineglass, all ready to go. My food stylist failed to report to work today, so this is Food Adequate, Tastes Good, Just Eat It.  It's a crepe aux veggies.  Serving for One. Avec vin tres ordinaire.

 And I'm starting to wonder what other uses this all-purpose pancake mix can turn to.  Clafouti, yes, I can see this appearing several times.  And there are lovely granny smith apple chunks and other apple stuff in the freezer, too, for an apple clafouti.

Gosh, they could send it to Mars with astronauts, they'd never run out, just dilute it when it gets low,  guys, it's good and it's gluten free! I can imagine how that would cheer them when they're trying to repair the extra terrestrial walkabout thing..

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Long Fall Walk, now that cool weather is back

I walk most days, and the distance varies with the weather and what I'm up for.  

This is one of my favorite ones, a couple of miles round trip up a walking path, back via the park, no backtracking, just a sort of flattened circle. And there are woods to one side, always interesting with birds and small animals.  

I haven't been up for this distance in a while, partly because of the heat, and partly because I was a bit tired from allergies.  So this was a nice return.

And it spurred me on to dig out my pedometer, find it needed a new battery, discover the backup I had was the wrong size, take a trip to the store,where it took two obliging employees to search their stock, then go online to check on equivalencies and finally find me the right one, which is now installed.

Handsome Son gave me this ped. years ago when I was interested in seeing what distances I actually walked, rather than setting a goal.  I was just interested in knowing how much of a walk I did in the half hour I usually spent.  Found it was a shade under two miles, not too bad, really, done regularly.  It certainly does a lot for my spirits.

One time I clipped it on during a working day caregiving and found that in this small house, I clocked over five miles in the course of a day's normal work of taking care of Handsome Partner.  Which certainly explained some of my tiredness at the end of the day. I still think pedometers should somehow account for climbing stairs, though!

Meanwhile, I wore it yesterday and put on about a mile from late morning till I went to bed, just sort of pottering about and processing farmshare veggies and a bit of shopping.  Interesting to know this stuff.  

Mine is a low tech ped., doesn't tell me the weather or my bp or the stock market or anything.  It tells me miles or steps, whichever I check in to.  It would do Km, but the highly advanced high tech USA is still plodding along on the old fashioned measurements.  So miles or steps it is.  Which is fine by me.  I like simple mechanisms, less to go wrong. Words to stitch on a pillow!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Blogging Around the World, Boud Does Her Bit

I was invited by Mary Anne of  here  to take part in the Around the World blogging project, which consists of being invited by a previous blogger, linking back to her, there you are, Magpie! and sending you on to other bloggers who have agreed to play, while answering various questions on my art, how I do it, why, and so on.  She is a wonderful crazy quilter and has many other stitching adventures going on at any time you check in there, is being published in an upcoming calendar of crazy quilting, and is a guest lecturer at quilting guilds. Browse her blog for a good read. Make a cup of tea first, you'll want to stay.

Here I have to say that this is not my art blog, this is my cooking, reading, grammar policing, nature watching, pet following, bloviating blog, into which my art life doesn't usually come, though my character dolls, the Dollivers, which I created and which then took on a life of their own do come, all the time!

So I would like to refer you over to Art, the Beautiful Metaphor,  here which is a play on words around the Soccer, the Beautiful Game meme,  to read my findings on this.  I already sneakily referred you to a wonderful blogging poet, at a couple of days ago, and my invitations to participate in the BAW were gracefully declined, people too modest to want spotlight despite their massive talents. 

Anyway, back at Field and Fen  I was browsing through Ina Garten in prep for my upcoming meeting of the Bite Club, and thought, hm, can I make something that I can take with me and serve at room temp as a sample.  So I made, or tried to, these Parmesan Crisps.

Now, I readily acknowledge that, block parmesan being way out of my budget, I subbed with grated parm and coarsely grated sharp cheddar, figuring that would help it hold together.

Followed the recipe very carefully, picked fresh thyme, crushed the black peppercorns in my pestle and mortar, all very elemental, and found that the crisps fell to crumbs even after cooling as instructed.  Couldn't be lifted off the parchment paper and onto a rack to cool further. So perhaps block, translation expensive, parmesan has different qualities that make it work, not blaming them, just reporting.  This may a place where you can't substitute.

So, since, as my Mom used to say, it's all good ingredients, I wondered how to rescue this mixture.

Which I did by adding a bit of split pea flour, some milk and an egg, and I made these nice croquettes, a couple of which are great to go with my sweet potato soup for lunch today.  A bit heavy on the salt for my taste, but they sauted up lovely and browned very obligingly for me.

So this is a kitchen rescue, I guess.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Rainy day. Saves my watering plants 6WS

You know how annoying it is to be around someone who insists on seeing the silver lining, especially of the troubles you're dealing with?  it occurred to me that when I said yesterday to someone sadly saying it was going to be a wet weekend, oh good, I shan't have to water the flowers, then, I probably was guilty of the same thing.

But to the lazy gardener, a bit of rain is a good thing. As is a lifetime membership in the grammar police which enables me to make a citizen's arrest of anyone who says "saves ME watering plants" when watering is a verbal noun, a gerund, which takes the possessive pronoun.  Yeah, I know. easier if you studied Latin, because in that language it's practically impossible to get it wrong. 

And don't get me on to "it is for Sam and I" when you would never say "it is for I"  very easy rule to figure out and follow.  Sam doesn't change the pronoun, giving him too much power there. Sigh, but most annoying is the misplaced and misused signs, as in the little sticky labels at the library on all the mag. covers.  They enjoin the reader not to "mark" or "write" on the magazine.  Evidently whoever wrote them is unaware that they are saying very nearly the opposite of what they meant.  That sign doesn't add emphasis, it adds a level of fantasy and deception!  since I don't have white out liquid with me at the libe, I just scrape at the label with a neurotic fingernail to remove the "s.  Thereby showing I'm pretty anxious about this stuff!  but in my own defense I do expect the library, more than most places, to have literate labels.

This six word Saturday motif is definitely releasing my inner demons.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Dollivers Do Their Civic Bit

The Dollivers have been getting very restless with all the activity in the kitchen, pointing out bitterly that they have been Ignored and Disrespected, and that while Boud has been fooling about wasting time on food, they have been Doing the Responsible Thing.

Which evidently consists of studying the mail in ballot which just arrived, well ahead of time for the November state election for the people we get to ship to Washington, to the national Senate and House, and various other positions, nearer home,  Lamplighter, Dogcatcher and so on.   

Refused access to the actual ballot on the grounds that it's a secret ballot, they pounced on the Public Questions and Blondie Firstborn noticed that one of them had to do with Arts Funding increases in the state.

They pointed out that Boud had better be in favor of that since they themselves are Artworks, and there might be outfits in it for them if the state loosens up some money around here.  

Hate to disillusion them, since it's important to encourage civic involvement, so here they are taking part in a rally to get out the vote, and especially to get out funding for Dollivers, since they need new stuff.  They have heard about fascinators lately, those little hat things with the feathers and veiling and really fancy them.

And we all encourage everyone with a vote, whenever the occasion arises where you live,  to use it thoughtfully, whether or not it brings new outfits for Dollivers, they didn't hear me say that bit.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Barley flour hot biscuits

Just fyi, I made a batch of hot biscuits using half home ground barley flour and half white wholewheat, with a shower of sunflower seeds in the mix.  I baked the dough in one large shape, then sliced it up with a pizza wheel to cool on a rack.

The original recipe was the hot biscuit recipe from The Silver Palate, which I recommend you take a look at. I've changed it over the years, to my own taste, using more olive oil to replace her canola oil plus vanilla essence, and changed up the sorts of flour I've used and so on.  And added in sunflower seeds or crushed walnuts.  And taken to baking the recipe in a big single piece then slicing it into squarish shapes.

But it's still a very good recipe, heart healthy and all that, which is probably why I originally tried it. And almost as fast as making a sandwich.

The barley flour has a very crunchy, sturdy texture and more powerful flavor than most flours, and very interesting with soup, which is largely how I use hot biscuits.  I expect you could put jam on, if that's your preference, for afternoon tea.  Or honey. Barley's a great nutritious food, good for your lungs among other things.

I love breads of all kinds, really can't manage without at least a slice for toast at breakfast, and maybe some croutons in soup, and sometimes toasted cheese on, for supper.  Good thing I don't have any gluten problems. And don't mind baking.

Also, making bread satisfies the baking need now and then, better for my health than cake, which would vanish all too soon, unless I force it on friends and neighbors, all of whom are on some diet or other.  

But even as I write I wonder if it would be nice to make a few lemon bars in the near future..after the apple turnovers are history, that is.  Not many people resist lemon bars, from Mary-Carol's recipe, handwritten on a little card now enshrined in my loose leaf personal recipe book.

Cooking's a bit like gardening that way, come to think of it.  I have recipes from Mary-Carol, from Marge, a long ago friend, from the long gone mother of another friend, from internet friends, all kinds of sources, just as you get slips and divisions of plants from all kinds of sources and they remind you of the giver.  My little food processor was a gift of another friend, Judy, and every time I use it she comes to mind.  

Or like art, where I use beads from another Judy, and Girija, and yarn from MaryAnn and Ash and other generous givers, and threads from many older women now not able to stitch any more, and ideas and teaching from friends in the embroiderers' group.  I honor them all by using their donated materials and ideas, too. I give back, too, and I think the recipients probably remember me when they use the materials, too.  At least that's the hope.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sweet potato and apple soup day

Today I had sweet potatoes to deal with in my farmshare, as well as a ton of other stuff.  Gave away two ears of corn, having enough corn in the freezer to see me through indefinitely, but I steamed and peeled and chunked the sweet potatoes last evening, and today used one of the giant apples in the farmshare for soup.

The apple was an eater, so it was fairly sweet, so, to offset the sweetness, I used a cup or so of yogurt whey from the freezer (from when I made yogurt cheese) and the tang is wonderful.  

Usual base of mucho olive oil,  garlic, onions, turmeric, fresh ground black pepper, kosher salt.  I like to cook all the spices in the oil along with the onion and garlic, to let the flavor out.  I learned this from an Indian cook, good way to deal with curry powder, too.

Then the apple in chunks, and the sweet potato, about three medium ones, and the liquid was asparagus water and other vegetable water from the freezer as well as the yogurt whey.  

I save the water I use to steam vegetables, for this purpose.  This time I avoided veggie water such as potato water or dark green veggie water,  that might discolor the nice golden effect of this soup, but in other soups, I wouldn't be concerned about color.

Let this all cook gently for about half an hour while I nipped across the street to confer about the proposed bathtub work with friend and neighbor who is not only a great contractor, and a good artist, but is a brilliant cook, too.  He makes his own ice cream.  And last fall when I was very sick, he ran over with wonderful homemade soup to restore my energy. 

So today we swapped recipes as well as catching up on the local news, too, and getting into preliminary chat about the bathtub.

Home again I blended the soup, and it came out very nicely. Here's the helping for lunch, awaiting croutons, just sizzling in the pan.

and here's the bowl complete with wholewheat/oat croutons, wish you could hear the sizzle as the croutons land! but you can also put a nice swirl of plain yogurt and I might do that with a future serving.

A seedless watermelon in the share, too, so dessert was a big bowl of watermelon chunks, no need to add anything to improve it. And it was eaten before I thought to make a pic, sorry.