Monday, November 30, 2015

Work of nature, best artist

Noticed this on the way in to the library to stop and chat and generally bother friend Carol Q. the director, soon to be retired, and delighted with it!  perfect work of nature, the fungus, not Carol, though she's not so bad either, look at that design, the fungus, not Carol.  This belongs in Beautiful Metaphor, too, come to think of it. I believe it's growing on an old remains of a tree.

But, having made plans with Carol for art and craft related expeditions once she's got free days, that's next spring,  I set off for the doctor's office to find out what's up with my arm. 

After she moved it hither and yon, noting at what points I screamed, she said, hm, this is bursitis in your shoulder.  What have you done for it up to now? so I recited the things that didn't work, Aleve, and the things that did, Advil and meditation, and she suggested a quick cortisone shot to clear it up fast.  Which would have been good if the cortisone doctor had been able to fit me in before another eight which time it may have resolved on its own, but we'll see.  If not, I'll get it done.

It does feel like the ailment of a wimp, though, after a mere painting of a kitchen, installation of insulation, and two backsplashes along with various other physical jobs involving chucking heavy stuff around the garden and the studio.  And all the plans for painting the laundry area, and making yeah many artworks for next year to exhibit.  Not to mention carrying the Dollivers about loaded down with jewels.

Oh well. I guess I'm no longer 40, though it does come as a surprise. In spirit, I'm perfectly capable of continuing to paint and reno, and all that.  But perhaps I have to pace it just a little.  Well, we'll see about that, too... in fact the pacing has started. Instead of ordering kitty litter, which I have to carry up a flight of stairs, in 28 lb boxes, I've ordered it in 19 lb boxes. So that's a start. 


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Witch hazel, flowers in winter!

On a brisk chilly walk today, I remembered the witchhazel bush I spotted last year, and included it on the walk to see if it was in flower.  And it was. I love witchhazel for flowering at the most unpromising time of the year.  Early this year, too.  Usually I pick a sprig or two in January, and as it warms in the house, it scents the air.

So here's this year's sprig, in glass pebbles in water, along with peppermint from the patio.  And the other container has parsley.  t
They rooted in water so they may keep going for a while.  

Herbs need the hot sun to move the aromatic oils about and give that scent off, but they have a pale version of it indoors, too.  In the background you see the Russian sage, out in front of the window, now dozing off and ready to be trimmed back before we get snow.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Rum Raisin Banana Bread -- Apres Tday! 6WS

So Tday is done, and the remains have become a very good turkey and mixed veg soup, to be eaten with caraway hot biscuits.  But there was a marked lack of the rum raisin motif up to now. 

That has now been addressed, with a loaf of Rum Raisin Banana Bread.  This came about while I was leafing through a few recipe books, dark, rainy day,  in search of something new to bake, and found a different idea, but which involved raisins in rum.

Aha, I decided that it would probably make a good addition to my trusty banana bread, and in fact it did.  Cup of golden raisins, soaked for about an hour in white rum, best Puerto Rico, drained, the rum going into the vanilla I'm soaking to make my own essence, and the raisins into the bread.

Worked a treat, it did.  And here's what I do after the bread is baked and cooling on the rack -- wash and dry the loaf pan,and then use it to serve the bread from. It occurred to me after I tasted it that this is the closest I'll ever come to making a fruit cake, and that's okay, too, to quote Stuart Smalley. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving Leftovers and Postmortem

So the day was lovely, went well, remembered to serve all the food for once, having taken the precaution of putting all the items on a previously emptied shelf in the fridge, weather was nice enough for a walk between courses.

And here are most of the leftovers, not many this year, today's lunch.  

Shared with Handsome Son, who left me some pumpkin pie and cheese and crackers and took home a meal's worth of turkey and cranberry jelly but passed on the vegetables.  The turkey leg roulade was not an unqualified success.  For one thing it took much longer to cook than the recipe claimed, and the meat itself, while it tasted good, was not sliceable into the neat rounds they promised.  More of a good tasting shambles, to be exact.

Son suggested that perhaps the pix with the online recipe were not of a leg rouladed, but of a turkey breast,which I now think is correct.  Even they couldn't make this one look neat.  He also wondered if they'd actually tested this recipe at all, or just used clip art and a series of guesses as to how it would work.  We indulged in all this bitter dialog while whipping into it, I ought to admit.

However, the stuffing was good, and all that extra the recipe made  will go into some bird for Christmas, maybe cornish game hens, we'll see.  I still like the principle, just doubt whether the turkey leg is a good subject.

The cranberry jelly was out of a can, this being HS favorite, and I got a can of what claimed to be cranberry sauce, but which turned out to be another jelly. Hm.  Cranberry and raspberry.  Which in fact was pretty good, even if there was a big lie on the label. To me a cranberry sauce has whole fruit, and it pours from the can, as if you'd made it yourself, which I didn't this year.

The applesauce was excellent, great apples went into it, and it really paid off.  And the delicata squash and various other farm veggies played their part just fine.   In fact a lot of the veggies were finished on the day.  Handsome Son attended to the baking of the pie in between watching Poirot, causing him to miss essential plot points and be unable to fill me in on them, since I had fallen off into a little doze on the sofa..

All in all, a very nice day, and thank you all for the notes and emails and comments and texts on the day.  Also my friends who left a bag of Indian goodies to add in, hanging from the doorknob before they left for the weekend. Included was a little gold box of chocolates with a jingle bell attached, which has now become the first item on the ficus tree, which acts the part of a seasonal conifer.

Plenty to be thankful for, I'd say.  My birthday comes in a couple of weeks, and  Handsome Son is inviting me to his place to cook me lunch, his choice of menu.  Usually he comes here, but I thought it would save his carting about all the ingredients and tools (he doesn't trust my kitchen tools).  So that will be great.  This will be a double digit birthday, both numbers the same, and I wonder if there's a name for that?  any blogistas who happen to know, please say.  No, I'm not 99.  Yet.

No mention of Christmas is allowed until my bday is past.  Not that I have an exaggerated sense of my importance, at least that's my story, it's just that, well, the season doesn't begin till then.  Even if there's a jingle bell already in place.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Pre Thanksgiving Turkey Dance

So here's the stage set for the Turkey Roulade caper.  The idea is to bone the turkey thigh, and roll it with a savory stuffing, tie it with string, roast, then slice it for serving.  

Boning was a first for me, also tying with string, and I was surprised that I was able to do it. Twice.  Two legs, that is.

The stuffing is all about sausage, mushrooms, egg, rosemary, thyme, breadcrumbs, red onions and garlic, quite fun to do, but I'm glad I'm not trying this on the day.  Took much longer than the recipe happily indicated.  Recipe written by an experienced chef, with hot and cold running sous-chefs, I'm guessing. And it turned out that there was a lot of leftover stuffing, which will be frozen for future adventures of this kind. You can stuff chicken breasts this way, it might even give them some flavor.

 So here's the product, resting seam side down, with a sprig of rosemary on one, thyme on the other, from my garden, and now resting in the fridge, to roast tomorrow.  I suspect that this is the kind of thing that's interesting and exciting to do once, but once might be a lifetime supply. Like tiling a floor.

And I have a list of items so as not to forget anything for the groaning board.  I often forget something interesting and the groaning is coming from the cook when that happens.  All the veggies are from the farm, always a happy point.

So Happy Thanksgiving, however you celebrate it, and if you don't have a special day tomorrow, Happy Thursday anyway!

And just so it's not all about food, I always remember you, dear blogistas, with great thankfulness that you're there and reading and enjoying and responding and adding more than you can know to my life!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Poisson et pommes frites a la mode de chez Liz

So, long time since fish was on the menu, and in anticipation of heavier fare later in the week, I thought I might make a nice fish dinner.  

Proceeded to marinate a piece of Alaskan pollock, which always sounds like an insulting term more than a food item, in cherry balsamic vinegar, later breaded it with panko, chunked up a scrubbed but not peeled potato, tossed the pieces in olive oil and kosher salt, sprinkled a bit of coarse sea salt over, and roasted the lot.  Well, the potatoes for about 45 minutes, and the fish for more like 9, at 425F.

Here the fish is resting on a rack for half an hour after the breading, so that it dries a bit and the breading is more crisp.

Served it with a nice glass of homemade lemonade (lemon slices from freezer, that way I always have some lemon around). 

And realized that this posh and labor intensive poisson et pommes frites a la mode de chez Liz really amounted to fish n chips and lemonade. Well, fish n chips maison, to hang desperately onto a bit of posh description.  But it was pretty good anyway.

Monday, November 23, 2015

About that large Sunday dinner..

Which I naively thought would give me leftovers for a couple more days.  Here's the picture this morning, the nearer dish being a single serving, the giant glass dish now washed and away again:

I suppose it means it was good.   At any rate, it was enjoyed, and there was enough dessert to share with two other friends.  But it does remind me of a friend who used to say what's the point of cooking? they'll only eat it!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sunday Dinner and progress, and fruit crumble, too

Sunday has become a good cooking day around here, what with the weekly family dinner with HS and all.  

Today was all about roasting vegetables and chicken.  

The vegs are spaghetti squash, tomatoes, another kind of squash and gnocchi, all tossed in olive oil, balsamic vinegar, cumin, turmeric, baharat, and sumac, with kosher salt.  The curry leaves will rest on top as they roast.

A chicken leg each, tossed in breadcrumbs from the remains of the hot biscuits made with red lentils, and various other spices that occurred to me.  They will roast alongside the vegetables.

Then the fruit crumble, a mix of Martha and Rose.  The topping is sort of Martha, except that I used whole wheat with the oats, and added in nutmeg and crushed walnuts.  The fruit is some of that apple supply from the local tree, which reminds me to make applesauce for Tgiving, and prune plums waiting in the freezer for just such a chance to star.  

I added brown sugar (well, white with added molasses) to the plums and salt plus nutmeg, and macerated that for an hour, so that liquid emerged.  Then I did a reduction of the liquid, swirling it around in the pan, no stirring (swirled, not stirred, sounds like a movie star), this being the Rose part, then added in the resulting syrup over the fruit in the dish. I'd been thawing the apples during this procedure, since I'd noticed the plums suddenly looked a lot smaller after macerating and needed some company.

So that's tonight's dinner. With the addition of a terrific hot veggie, no idea what veggie, pickle, my Indian neighbor sent over this morning via husband!  I can taste cumin, coriander, and hot pepper, but I don't know what the veg is, some small sliced green thingy.

They'll get a share of fruit crumble in their near future, I think.

Yesterday was a mad rush of helping next door neighbor take action against squirrels which have invaded our building, inside the skin of the place, inside the soffits, you name it.  He had parts of his ceiling open for electrical work, and parts of the storage area, for a new breaker box, so we urgently set to work to close them.  And that extra insulation material from a couple of my own jobs were just the ticket.  He now has squirrel proofed at least the inside of his house, and has partly insulated the storage area.  Everybody happy, not least me, because the leftover insulation stuff came in handy right when needed.

He found a place in the soffit near the corner of the building where a squirrel sized hole had been evidently gnawed, explaining one of their doorways into the soffit.  Another neighbor said he'd seen a squirrel running up the front of the building yesterday then mysteriously disappearing somehow.  Evidently into the soffit.

 And, at my strong suggestion, since he'd also seen a squirrel in his eaves where he stores stuff -- his dogs detected it -- he invested in a couple of havahart traps, the kind where the animal is caught but unhurt and can be transported to a better location, and he baited and set them up.  And found that these gifted squirrels sprang the trap, and got the bait, from outside the trap.  Nobody caught. 

But since I saw squirrels mating like anything on top of my fence this morning, perhaps we've at least unnerved them into leaving and continuing their wild gyrations outside.

So perhaps it's Gary and Liz 0, squirrels sort of 0, this time. Anyway you can see why I was glad to stay indoors and cook this morning, no climbing up and down and measuring and cutting. Also cooking smells great. 

I wonder if there are any plans afoot for aroma apps?  this one would get my vote.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sometimes we need something silly!

On the grounds that, in the midst of grim and terrible news, we all need a little silly stuff to help us cope.  And you won't get much sillier than these!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Bite Club and the Reveal of the Giant Almond Cookie

After I'd looked through several of the One Pot Meal books, I ended up doing a dessert from the Martha Stewart One Pot Meals book, a hybrid in fact.

There were two giant cookies, where you make just one huge one and cut it up or break it at will.  One used the castiron skillet, which I like for baking, but was about chocolate chips, don't like chocolate much at all, and chips not at all.  The other one used ground almonds, which I wanted to try out, but a springform pan, which I don't have.  Soooooo, I made a hybrid sort of thing.

I made brown sugar by mixing molasses with white, and did the top recipe on the page you see here, but instead of chocolate chips, used the ground almond, and added in almond essence as well as the vanilla essence they list.  And I baked the thing in a castiron pan, for longer than the almond recipe, several minutes longer, and reduced the heat to finish.

It slid out of the pan easily, no problem, and I put it in another dish to take it to the meeting, castiron being too hefty to sling about.  And we'll see what the gathering has to say about it.  I found that a package of sliced almonds for 1.5 cups will make a little more than one cup of ground almonds, about right for my needs.  I'm taking in a pizza wheel to help people cut into it if they don't want to break into it by hand.  I suppose this is what makes it one pot.

Speaking of favorite tools, I use my pizza wheel to cut all kinds of flatbreads and biscuits and flattish baked goods, much easier than a knife.  And I use it to mince herbs, too, just run it back and forward until the herbs are minced.

So substitution ruled the day yet again, and it does look pretty good.

Excitement in the food world: Christopher Kimball is leaving America's Test Kitchen, which he helped found.  Apparently things have been very exciting since they took on their first CEO and this is the next big event.  I guess they all got their aprons in a twist! You simply never know how passionately food can get people, and the business dealings attached thereto.  I certainly wouldn't get into an argument with people who all have sharp instruments to hand and are skilled in their use.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Nous sommes tous Parisiens

This is just a note to remind us all to give thanks for the lives of the departed, prayers for their survivors, a determination to live our lives as we choose, not be ruled by fear, and to remember that ISIS is a tiny group of extremists.  They don't represent the vast numbers of peaceful Muslims in the world, including some close friends of mine.  


Monday, November 9, 2015

Hot biscuits with red lentil flour and caraway seeds

It dawned on me that there was no federal law against buying a 12 inch pizza pan, useful for all kinds of things as well as pizza, since it's designed to go in the oven. I never have a big enough pan that will do that.  And shoving all that flatbread into a pan two inches too small because it would go in the oven, didn't make a ton of sense.

Soooo, I did, I sent away for a nice Teflon one, complete with warnings about not poisoning your pet parrot with the outgassing.  Which actually can only happen if you totally overheat and burn the thing and start to degrade the surface. At which point you are endangered as much as your poor old polly.   It's a product of the Tort Lawyers' Full Employment Act, I think.

Anyway, it arrived today, the pan, not the parrot, and was instantly pressed into service since I was out of bread, horrors, can't happen here, and quickly decided on hot biscuits.  This is adapted from a great recipe in the Silver Palate, which uses oils instead of solid fats.  

I use either a mix of canola with some other veg oil, I forget what, or olive oil. And I've changed and added so much over the years that it hardly resembles the original, but it's still good.  I long ago ditched the vanilla essence she uses a lot of, ew, and use all oil instead.  I make my own buttermilk, never remember to buy any, by using lemon juice to sour the milk, if I don't happen to have any soured milk handy.

And since I had that lovely pink lentil flour, I figured I'd use half and half that and ap flour.  Then wondered what nice inclusions I could run to.  Sometimes it's sunflower seeds, sometimes crushed walnuts, but I thought, hm, seeds, what have we here..fennel? nah, anise might not work here, but caraway now, well, that was an idea. One teaspoonful of caraway seeds.  

I've always liked inclusions, nuts and stuff in icecream, seeds and nuts in bread and cake.  Poor Handsome Son as a little boy once refused to eat his bread because, Mommy, my bread's got rocks in it!

So here's the new pan on its maiden voyage, I declare this pan open, and God bless all who bake in her

and here's the hot biscuit with a bit broken away so you can see the nice pink inside. 

I had to transfer it to a board, can't cut it on the Teflon surface. And I often make one giant hot biscuit using all the dough, then cut it into squares.  I like this better than separate biscuits all with a crusty outside.

It tastes fine, neutral enough to go with cheese or whatever else I fancy, maybe a little sausage.  It's tender, breaks easily, because the lentil doesn't have gluten, but it's protein rich because of the lentil.  For some reason I felt very Moroccan doing this one...

Oh, and no pix of my latest apple crumble, just a couple of notes, since it's the best evah!  I had no brown sugar, so I browned white sugar with molasses, worked a treat.  And I treated the apples, nice flavory ones from the farm, by macerating in salt, maple syrup and a bit of the homemade brown sugar.  Drained the liquid off after an hour, reduced it to half, like a syrup, then drizzled it over the fruit in the dish.  So good.

And I used Martha's oatmeal crumble on top except that I doubled it by using a cup of almond meal as well as the oatmeal and o. flour along with homemade b. sugar.  Must remember all this, since it was really worth doing.  

It went over so well when HS came to dinner last evening, and I had to have some for breakfast, no toast in the house, that there's not enough around to make a blogworthy picture.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Labyrinth visit, pix shown despite Yahoo's best blocking efforts...

Today was time for a visit to the labyrinth, in honor of a recently departed husband of a friend.  I got lost getting there, because one of my landmarks had changed so that I overshot the place.  I navigate by landmarks, since directions and the sense of direction are foreign to my hardwired brain, and when they change, or as in this case, cover them up as they demolish behind them, well, I ask you.

So I wheeled around and got found again, wonderful light and blowing leaves and then found that the labyrinth is ankle deep in beautiful leaves, impossible to walk it.  

So I had a change of plan and did a sitting meditation on the bench there instead.  

And my alarm telling me when time was up defeated my efforts to turn it off, because in bright sunshine the screen's unreadable.  Eventually I managed it, quiet returned, and I did take a couple of pix to send to my friend.

And then once home, spent upwards of an hour trying to get them to upload. Yahoo in its wisdom, has changed the app on my tablet, so that it's no longer possible to simply send images to my regular email for uploading.  Noooooooo.  I managed after numerous efforts to get one uploaded and sent.  The other not so fast.

So I figured the culprit was Yahoo, who have put out a buggy app instead of getting it working before installing it, as in ready! fire! aim! so perhaps I could send it to another email address.  

But my backup email, good old Juno, used it for thirty years, one single crash in all that time, no bugs, just a simple email that works, well, my tablet won't talk to Juno. Won't even list it.  So I sent to yet another email I never use, and forwarded on from there.  And now it finally works.

So thanks to Yahoo's yahoos, it is now a multipart process: take pix, send to one email, ship to another, download to hard drive, upload to thumbdrive, download to blog, lie down, have a cup of tea. But the pix are nice to see, a good memory of a quiet meditation period.

And, on the principle of the Shakuhachi effect, I learned a workaround instead of just getting all irate and arm waving.


Saturday, November 7, 2015

Flatbreads and Flours, it's a grind! 6WS

Today I was out of ideas for lunch and remembered Mark Bittman's flatbread idea, for using wholegrains.  So I figured this was a good way to use some of my split pea flour, ground in the coffee grinder at home, and to roast some vegetables at the same time, to put on top like a pizza of some kind.  The corn and broccoli went in about 15 minutes before the bread was done, also in a castiron pan, don't know how I ever managed without them.

I had forgotten how filling this flour is.  One quarter of this pizza was plenty for now.  So it made four meals rather than the two I'd thought of.  Seen here before cheese arrives

and after.

And, since the flatbread takes 45 minutes (hot oven, 450F) I seized the moment and since I'd already got the split pea flour out, organized the flour part of the fridge, cleaned the shelf and got up to date on grinding various items that have been waiting to turn into flour.  

I add these into breads, pancakes, other sorts of baked goods, and they're interesting.  Here, posing left to right, chickpeas, oats at back, red lentils in front, barley, and almond flour.  I also make walnut flour and just now realized I'd forgotten it. The red lentils look lovely ground, like a tropical beach.

I do keep some of the items whole, in case I want to cook with them, not wishing to have to go out and find lentils because all mine are now flour, guess how I found this out.  And always this kind of thing stays in the fridge or the freezer, because you never know when a critter will appear in it.  Enough strife with squirrels outside without inviting tiny cousins indoors.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Three Great Starts

Out on the road today, hanging art with the Creative Collective artist group, at Terhune Orchard, I had my first sighting of an electric car, here plugged into the power right on the pole, the joys of having a farm where you can do this!  very exciting first for me

And, second Great Start,  Handsome Son is at the beta stage of setting up his blog, which supports his brand new enterprise, working with clients in their homes on their computer software issues.  Already has some happy clients, and would welcome more!  go here to find out  more and to see a nice image of him, too.

But, best till last, I had a surprise visit yesterday from a close friend's daughter, bringing with her her own daughter, five months old, and visiting from their home in Colorado.  

The baby, the divine Miss K. spent a while here, being adored and held and admired, while she smiled and looked coy, and made interesting noises and examined the cat, and studied the designs on the sofa.  It was such a treat to hold a baby, been a long time!  and to see J. the mom, again, that's been a long while, too, since her shower before Miss K was born.  I've known J since she was a little girl and it's amazing to see her as a competent mom, totally relaxed and happy with her little girl. 

I  was lucky they fitted me in, what with a whirl around many relatives all meeting Miss K for the first time, she's making a royal progress through many houses!  I booked another visit before they leave again, and one with older brother M, now a great big four.

A rich couple of days!  electricity in several forms.