Saturday, February 28, 2015

Visual Puns. Lost on Most People 6WS

In the hope that this audience is one of the vanishingly small number of people who get my jokes and agree that what I think is funny is funny, if you follow me, I'm giving you a visual pun or two.

Here's the massive, weighty, takes two-to-lift-it book of -- New Yorker cartoons!  the lightest, airiest, most fleeting of artforms, especially in the New Yorker, where you always need to be living in the culture to really get them, and culture changes fast, well, as I say, here is that meringue of an artform encapsulated in a tome which all but needs a forklift to maneuver it.   

To me this is the best part of the joke!  Second only to the solemn little essays inserted with a heavy hand throughout the text explaining it all to us...

The other is a deliberate art pun, a wonderful one.  A book of mulberry paper, given to me by a friend, and which has yielded a lot of great paper for drawings.  

The pages are mulberry paper, the back a collage of mulberry leaves, and the binding a stick one, a mulberry twig running through the twine.  Light as a feather in every way.  Great intelligence in this design, and a kindred spirit in humor, too!  I bet the papermaker could never have got a job at the New Yorker. And vice versa.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Taxes done, with special assistance

Turns out Greensleeves is a whiz with the numbers.  Here she is doing final check before the taxes go off in the mail.  


She had the good idea to use my biscornu, originally a pin cushion, as a table for the calculator.  After that, NameMe swiped it for a stool.

The Dollivers, however, retain Mailing Privileges, and they helped at the mailbox as in previous years.  Not without much grumbling and drawing of straws to see who would go out in this cold, and high winds, and the bribe of a brand new handknitted cloak, courtesy of K.  for Dreads.  Blondie Firstborn took the alpaca sweater and hat.

Finally we got the envelopes to the mailbox, just before the mailman arrived to pick up.  

And the homebound Ds were heard to explain that it's worth sending in the taxes because somebody would send a lot of money back, and they could get their high heels. Explained yet again that it's the other way around, and somebody in the Treasury is getting new high heels, but regretted getting into that subject.

Elton, of course, now that Greensleeves chose her new name, is busy with her personal selection.  What happened was that she met the Ds, aka Dollivairs, and the bunny Bon Hiver, and went all posh and demanded a historical name.

So there it is.  Elton brushed up his rendition of Greensleeves, and is in search of other songs with a green theme.  So far he's added in Green Grow the Rushes-o, and The Wearin' of the Green to his repertoire. Just as well to practice now, since once St. Patrick's Day arrives, she'll be in total demand mode.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Clafouti, now that's what I call a winter dessert

So I finally got to the store where I can get the frozen berries, the weather having been a real bar lately to doing a lot of things,  and, aside from this berry mix being good eating with a bit of honey, and wildly nutritious in the winter, I suddenly thought this might be a great way to use up the rest of the pancake batter I made yesterday.

Last night's supper and today's lunch were  a giant veggie pancake, consisting of freezer scallions, green beans and zucchini slices, sauteed very well, then  pancake batter poured over, made into a very sturdy pancake on top of the stove.  In the cast iron pan.  Of course.  It was very good but not photogenic, so no pix.

Then I thought, ah, clafouti!  great old Julia Child recipe I made many times in the distant past. Usually this is done in cherry season in France, early June, because of a large quantity of cherries to deal with, but you can use any fruit, really. 

I hauled out my early sixties' copy of JC, complete with inscription from Handsome Partner which I won't quote because it was an in-joke, mainly to find out the oven temp needed. Which turned out to be 350F. 

Seemed like a good time, too, to test the cast iron pan's utility  as a cake pan.  You scarcely need a recipe for this. Make a skim of the batter on the bottom of the pan, let it cook a minute or two (this is to keep the fruit from sticking to the pan) and while that's happening,  thaw and drain about half a cup of berries, put them in the pan, then pour the rest of the pancake batter over and bake.  

I did this at 350F for a bit over half an hour, since it was a small one, a bigger one should probably go longer.  You can see how it's starting to release from the edge of the pan, showing a  browned underside. This tells you it's about done.Nice warm dessert for these cold winter days.

You sprinkle a bit of sugar over after it's baked, looks nice, and I served it with a couple of scoops of  plain nonfat yogurt. If your household goes for icecream, this would be great, the hot dessert and a scoop of good vanilla, yes I can see that.

and the pan released the clafouti very nicely.  

At this rate I may freecycle all my other pans!  so far every experiment I've made with the cast iron has worked out.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Miss Green, of GYB, arrives

Miss Green, my one of a kind art doll prize  arrived!  She came from the random selection during Grow Your Blog Party celebrations on CatieAn's blog,  survived a bitterly cold journey which detached her valuable jewelry, and that will be attended to asap, before the Ds swipe it, and was very happy to end up in a warm house again, among the Dollivers.  She brought her own greeting card, too.

The Ds scrutinized her with care, decided she could stay because 1. she has her own clothes and won't want theirs 2. she's smaller than they are, no threat there and 3.  she has high heels so now they all want them, too.

And she decided that she could handle the Dollivers, and was interested in seeing her new surroundings.  

Elton is not in evidence, having retreated, muttering darkly, to the music studio to figure out new piano selections designed to include this new person.  It's always something. Or someone.

CatieAn, thank you so much, and for the card she brought with her!  she's great, and really brightened up the current dismal weather for us all.  And if you want to see the high jinks at CatieAn's blog, go here

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Zero to Twenty. Ah, it's Spring! 6WS

Astonishing how relative everything is.  Yesterday with windchills at 20 below F, and today in the upper 20s F the contrast is as if spring has come.

Went out without a hat, even, got errands at bank and PO and shop done, before the snows return. And the rain and the subsequent expected freeze and ice.

But my beloved 16 year old beater Honda still started up first turn of the key even after sitting out in the cold for days at a time.

No idea if my snowdrops are out, since they're buried.

 Under yar be snowdrops.

Last year they bloomed and faded all under the snow.  Found the little limp stems after it thawed. Same with the pansies, who knows.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Westminster 2015 at the Dolliver Kennels

So a beagle won!  that must be Darwin having his say yet again..see earlier blogpost about beloved family beagle from son's childhood.

Meanwhile, since the Dolliver Kennels does not sport a beagle, wrangler NameMe decided to wear her best red dress instead of a tight suit, and the group gathered around to see the proceedings.  

Two of the mini dolls wanted to ride, and were accommodated, so the Afghan hound and King Charles spaniel declined to attend, in case they were pressed into service as, my dear, working dogs!  so we left them clutching their pearls in dismay.

And discovered that the head of one mini doll was a silkworm cocoon I've been looking for all over the place, completely forgot it was part of a doll. Easily removed, though, and can be replaced with a bead.  So the person I promised it to ages ago will now get it.  Helen, this means you.  She was riding last year's Westminster winner.  The doll, not Helen.

It means that the four important things I couldn't find are now found.  As long as I don't go and lose them again, by putting them safely in a place where I won't forget I put them..

And all the denizens of the Dolliver Kennels want to remind you, dear blogistas, that if the show has reawakened your urge to have a dog in the house, please don't buy at a store.  Check local shelter or breed rescue and see if you can't find a friend for life there.  A rescued animal thanks you every day of her life, ask me how I know this.

Meanwhile, the bear who lost his sweater asked for a dolly, and now has two of them to play with to take his mind off being robbed.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

In praise of lemon zest, and freezing lemons

A while back a neighbor who was going on vacation, gave me a bag of half a dozen lemons on the grounds that they would be no use when he got back and that I would no doubt make good use of them.  Which I did.

Far too many for me to use fresh, so I zested them all, then sliced the rest of the lemons.  And froze the lot.  I blessed the day I did it, since it enabled me to make real lemonade back there when I was sick, and the zest has flavored all kinds of foods, very simple, freezes well.

Today it came out again, when I made tomato, chickpea, yogurt and lemon zest soup.  

Wonderful bright flavor over the tomato, so I thought I'd mention it.  Lemons being the only citrus fruit I'm not deadly allergic to, they come in all the time for me, where oranges would be expected, great stuff.  Used zest yesterday in those sugar cookies.

The soup is very easy: one can diced tomatoes, one big can chickpeas, though you can buy them dry if you think of it the day before and soak them and cook them for ages, one small container of leftover yogurt whey, seasonings you see on the counter. Aside from the usual garlic and onion, sizzled for a while in the olive oil base before adding the other seasoning items.  They all cook a while before adding the vegetables and the liquid.  I sometimes add in a can of chicken broth.

As to seasonings, to wit: turmeric, a big fave in this house, excellent health food as well as lovely color, fresh ground black pepper, see it in its little glass grinder, kosher salt, and the aforementioned lemon zest, of which I used a tablespoon or thereabouts.

This makes about six servings of soup.

And when there's a good price on lemons, I plan to stock up and freeze. I supposed you could squeeze and freeze the juice, but I didn't go that far.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Westminster preparation is under way..

Today and tomorrow is the Westminster AKC Dog Show, biggest there is, except for Crufts, in Manhattan, and despite the deep freeze and lack of roads and transportation, amazingly it seems all the canines and their attendants are there and trotting around like anything.

NameMe, being the Dolliver Kennel wrangler, has started campaigning for one of those too tight skirt suits with a too short jacket you have to tug down all the time, just like the handlers at Westminster, the women ones, anyway.  We'll see.  

But she's got the residents of the Kennels all excited and ready to party tomorrow, no matter who wins.  Their money is on an Afghan hound, a King Charles spaniel, an Irish setter, a whippet or a wirehaired terrier, except he won last year.  That way if one of these breeds wins, it's a big win for Dolliver Kennels. Of course no matter who wins, the shaggy dog and her puppy will point out that they have the blood of practically all breeds in them.. And if some other breed has the nerve to win, NameMe is planning to get the winning dog knitted by guess who, to add to the kennel lineup.

So, maybe there'll be a little suit, but there will definitely be cookies. Note the feline touch in the picture, just making sure cats are Not Forgotten in the Excitement.

Martha Stewart Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies, to be exact.  This is the first time I tried this recipe, and it's very hard work mixing in the flour, very stiff dough, no wonder she says you have to have a food processor, which I don't. 

But they look nice, and taste fine, even the ones which got a bit crumpled in a contretemps with the oven timer which I forgot was hanging in there and which trails down, hitting whatever's in its path when you pull out the tray. Doesn't affect the taste, but the aesthetic is a bit dented.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Great Grow Your Blog Giveaway 2015

Since the Dollivers and Duncan, along with Elton are a vital part of the ongoing life of art around here, they took part in the drawing.  You see the acorn award they're holding onto till the last minute.  Wait till they hear they can't keep it.

The drawing went like this:  I wrote out all the entrants' names on a sheet of paper, cut them into slips, one slip per person, rolled and crumpled them, spilled them out and invited Duncan to choose. I thought he might put a paw on one or something.

However he chose the moment to make a political statement, and sat on them.  

When he stood up, one slip was attached to his tail, and that became his choice.  Oh well.  But it was still his choice, whatever part of his body he selected for indicating it...

and the Blondie Firstborn obligingly held it for us to see who the winner is.

And the winnah is.....drum roll.....Quinn!!  beloved goat wrangler and knitter and photographer and farmer.  Her blog, Comptonia, is an endless source of learning and pleasure.

Anyway, Quinn, get Piper to send me your mailing address and I'll send off your acorns as soon as the PO opens after the holiday.

This could hardly have been a more random drawing, when you think of it...

Elton is playing us off the stage with California Here I Come, a comment on the current weather in this part of the world, Here We Go Gathering Nuts in May, Blog of my Heart and his new signature tune Teddy Bears' Picnic.  Since he got that sweater set, stolen from another bear, he's unstoppable.

But before we leave, thank you all for taking part with such good humor and inviting me to your blogs, too, and generally enlarging my blogworld significantly.  And to Vicki! of Two Bags Full,  who ran this huge event yet again, generously and with amazing organization.  Much appreciated.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine's Day. Presidents' Day. Wedding Anniversary 6WS

So much to mark.  Don't know where to start!  You'll notice that when they abolished separate celebrations for Lincoln and Washington, and moved a lot of statutory holidays in the US to the nearest Monday, Lincoln seems to have been bumped.  Just sayin'.  I think the Cherry Pie Makers Full Employment Council won it. 

Cherry pie, for non US readers, being the iconic food to celebrate the man who claimed to have chopped down his father's cherry tree and been unable to practice self-preservation by lying about it.

Wedding anniversary, February 16, 1963 Handsome Partner and I  were married.  No we were not trying for Valentine's Day, cringed at the thought. It was the logistics of a Catholic wedding in the UK, where there being a state religion, not Catholic, priests have no legal authority to marry people, and the city registrar has to be physically present in the church to make it legal. 

Getting the registrar to agree to ANY of the dates the priest offered delayed it from the October date we originally planned on...registrar finally said I'll be there at 3.20 p.m. on February 16, and I will give you ten minutes.  Then I'll leave.  So we had to crush the whole thing into his time requirement.  Reason 45,679 why I'm so happy with the US freedom from a national religion...but it was still a nice day.

Finally, Valentine's Day is for celebrating all kinds of friendship, not just the  romantic red overpriced roses I wish all our blogistas a happy day whatever you're doing.  

Me, it's cowering in the house in zero temps, with a nice glass of merlot this evening and maybe some hot chocolate at some point.  Dollivers it's preening and prancing about in their red dresses with the lace trim.  Elton it's prowling in search of new outfits, after an incautious remark in here yesterday.

Oh,oh, here's an unsuspecting Upstairs Bear playing with his friends.

And here's Elton after a successful Sweater Raid after explaining that it's nice to share on Valentine's Day.

This Is Not Over!  the bears confer on how to raid the sweater back again without having to confront the Dollivers. 

Watch this space for further developments...

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Dollivers Wish us All a Happy Valentine's Day

For a lot of us in the northern hemisphere, a new polar express of cold and wind is upon us, a great day to stay at home tomorrow if we can and enjoy the day.  Our southern hemisphere friends are already up to Saturday, and probably blistering hot weather! with the problem of not letting the chocolate melt.

The Ds demanded their red and lace outfits, and the heart mobile was commissioned for their viewing pleasure.

After a while, Elton, who had a new hat for the day, demanded to play with the mobile, chased it around a bit and ended up wearing it as he played the selection commanded by the Ds. 

He went from Red Roses for a Blue Lady, to I Love New York, then on to You Are My Sunshine, Hearts and Flowers, ending with a Few of my Favorite Things.  The Ds. inserted items such as diamonds, new dresses, parties and prosecco to the list of favorites. 

But they also want to remind blogistas, amid cries of work, work, all we do is work around here, when requested to make the reminder, that February 14  is also the last day to enter the giveaway for the Grow Your Blog Party.  

To enter, just make a comment here  and you'll be in the draw.  Make sure I can reach you if you are a winner!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Celebrate Darwin Day with your nearest Beagle
Today is Darwin's day, his birthday, to be exact, so it's appropriate to celebrate with a beagle.  Long ago in my family there was a beagle, at least that's what we thought he was, found in the road in unrecognizably awful shape, solid with mud, three baths finally showed his lovely coat colors, and his once broken never fixed little legs, misshapen for the rest of his life but not bothering him.

Much later we found out he was in fact a posh dog.  An American Foxhound.  But since those guys can run incredible distances on the hunt, we never did find his origin.  Could have been in the woods of Pennsylvania, nobody knew.  Anyway, he was our Beagle, so there.

So he lived with us for the rest of his life, and Handsome Partner immediately named him Darwin.  Seemed obvious to us.  But then we had Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle, Darwin, on the shelf. That's how the spine read, so clearly the Beagle's real name was Darwin...well, you had to be there.

Darwin became our five year old son's best friend.  They'd look out of the window together, Darwin being long enough to get his paws up on the sill, and HS would put an arm around his dogfriend's shoulders, very sweet.

So do something intellectual today, and celebrate Darwin and his discoveries.  His kids drew pictures on his manuscripts, did you know that? what a nice dad. I saw a pic of a battle between a carrot on horseback and a mounted knight or something, great imagination, created by one of his children.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

The Great Freezer Caper Is On! 6WS

I know there are new readers to this blog, and I need to explain 6WS.  Short for Six Word Saturday, as you see from the button in my right column, it's just a bit of fun, where my header is six words only, but does reflect where I am at this point. And some commenters even respond in six words, very skilled of them.  If you want to do a 6WS on your own blog, click on the button, and it will take you to the right place to proceed from.

So, as the days lengthen, and since I've signed up for another year's farmshare, it's time to be serious about what's in the freezer.  Already prepped the same day as picked, chopped, sliced, made into sticks and so on, in many summer frenzied afternoons, all the veggies are ready to cook with.

And remembering I also have a cache of prepped vegs in the freezer next door (!) I need to get busy on my own freezer.  I've made a lot of soup recently, and wanted something a bit different.

So here's today's Zucchini Stick/Red Bell Pepper/Onion bake, flavored with curry leaves you see resting on top -- they'll be removed before serving -- and a big sprinkling of lemon zest, also from the freezer, shake of Parmesan, kosher salt, red pepper.

I'll bake it at about 380 for half an hour, give or take.

The poundcake went over well with both friend and me, and will be dessert.  It was also, toasted, breakfast this morning, with lovely Vietnamese coffee.  Felt quite Viennese. Son missed out on it up to now, because car trouble changed all his plans for the evening and today.  But I'll save some for him.

Update on the Lost and Found: the slippers turned up, wedged underneath and high up, behind the skirt at the front of the sofabed, no idea how they managed to climb up there, invisible to eye or hand during previous searches.  But now they're home.  The bag of beads is still MIA.

Friday, February 6, 2015

When high tech stumbles, low tech comes through

Boring problems with printer, too dull to go into, while I needed to print instructions, in between frantically making beads for the workshop I'm teaching, to replace the ones that  have vanished, and fruitlessly searching for the pair of knitted slippers, my favorites, also vanished, and  sudden plague of big black buzzing flies, now vanquished I think, ended with my deciding to bake.  It warms the house, cheers me up, and Handsome Son is stopping in this evening, so he can test it out for me.

I thought I'd make my first ever poundcake, from the Moosewood Dessert book.  

This came out pretty well, very nice color and texture, and I'd say nom nom.  I replaced the vanilla essence with almond just to see, and it's okay, too.

So there's a slice across the street for my friend to come home to, with the empty dish she'd brought halvah over in last evening.

I blame Chinese hackers for the missing items.  I bet they deleted them.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Happy Grounddog Day

The hounds of Dolliver Kennels came out today, courtesy of wrangler NameMe, to celebrate Grounddog DayThey insist that this is right, since every dog has his day and this is their day.  Elton consented to come out of hibernation to perform, after NameMe lent him her seasonal ski cap.

Accompanied by barking and howling, he banged out a nice rendition of Hound Dog, How much is that Doggie in the Window, Dog of my Heart, and Moon River, which, he explained, was to give the howling maximum opportunity.

 Clockwise, starting with Irish setter, is the shaggy puppy, Wirehaired Terrier, winner of Westminster last year, Whippet, Dalmatian and Big Shaggy Dog.

The patterns for the breed dogs came from Knit Your Own Dog, by Sally Muir and Joanna Osborne, a book of breed-specific patterns, great fun.  Especially when people ask you what you're knitting and you say, oh, an Irish setter..the two shaggy mixed breeds came from the brain of Boud, and resemble a couple of dogs in her own past. 

The Dalmatian is a bobblehead, mugging for the camera, put in in memory of the late great Dal K.C. Adams,who was the mascot of this development in her day.  Full name Katie Cherie Adams, but she answered to K.C.  The Herend Porcelain Afghan hound declined to take part in this vulgar brawl and continues to preside over the kitchen from a high perch, above it all.

As you see, maximum of snow and sleet, wintry mix, in fact, and minimum opportunity for seeing anyone's shadow today. Either way I think six more weeks of winter is a reasonable expectation, if winter can be said to be reasonable.

After this exhausting photo shoot, the dogs have retired to sleep, a policy long advocated for the month of February by the cats.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

February 1st, White Rabbits!

Since there's a tradition of shouting White Rabbits on the first of the month, and I must admit I was pipped at the post this time by friend K. texting me at dawn's early light with her shout, the Dollivers got into the act.  Of course.

They demanded that I find the Boehm Bunny, who comes out at Easter, but why not make him play his part in the Great White Rabbits Caper. 

So he's here along with them, two of them in new dresses, great annoyance from the others wondering where their new dresses are...I explained that my wrist is much better so I don't need to do the therapeutic knitting so much.  A likely story, they snarled. 

Bunny, never having appeared on the greater stage in character has no name as yet.  We're thinking Bunniver.