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.


  1. youve summed up the workshop atmosphere exactly, Liz; I was in a writer's workshop in Iowa city years ago and that was exactly the same: definite events, definite places, times and coordinates and class rooms and free time all shaped around the writing there. Freeing, no one to have to explain anything to, and a culture shock to come home and have to cook/clean/be me again. Even leaving the interstate and trying to slow down to 65 mph was a jolt...

    the rug is perfect, btw. and the cats will forgive you eventually, if not instantly

  2. I like your new rug, and hope the cats will, too! Last year I bought a small rug for the parlor, and after dragging it into the house, had to push it back outside and leave it rolled loosely on my screenporch for a week to reduce the smell of whatever a new non-woolen rug smells like. A definite eau d'industrial warehouse miasma. Fine later, though, thank goodness.
    I've had very similar thoughts lately about handing the reins to someone else for a few days or a week, and simply "doing as you're told"...could be very freeing, especially if meal preparation was part of the deal! That part sounds especially appealing, as my idea of an easy dinner is a can of cashews and an apple. (But I have to PEEL the apple. It's like cooking!)

  3. I'm sure the suspicious looking rug will be happily accepted by the cats - once one of them musters the courage to go and roll on it and dub it theirs. I've never been on a retreat but have to say that you certainly make it sound appealing!

  4. You have me giggling at the Cat's response to the rug. But I think it is quite lovely, I like the pattern and the colour scheme.

    I am in envy of your Mac and Cheese. It looks simply divine!

  5. Nice rug and nice looking mac 'n' cheese.


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