Sunday, September 25, 2016

September Mailbag at last, nearly October..

So what with one thing and another, various obligations involving workshops and festivals and plein air events and meetings, September has been a happily busy month. To the point where I suddenly realized I had Not Done The Mailbag for the month, horror, shock, recoil.

So though I had names all set and addresses mostly found, I had to haul out the collection of art postcards and pens and stamps and thoughts and do the selection.  It's fun to look through the whole collection and try to pick ones that will amuse or interest the recipient, and be seasonal, as in the case of Canadian Thanksgiving which always comes a month earlier than I think it will.  Anyway, each month a different group is the idea, so as to spread the goodwill as far as possible.

If you are a longdistance friend mainly in touch via email and you suspect I don't have a street address for you, don't be shy about emailing me with it. Cynthia, this means you!  it's good to get something in your mailbox which is a surprise and not a nasty one like a bill.

So here's today's welter of materials, and after I got the mailbag done, time for restorative pot of English Breakfast tea and a scone.  Just the ticket.  I called this round the September October mailbag, since at the rate I'm going, it might be October before they get there.  So I'm covering myself.

In the course of finding one or two addresses I thought were in the book which weren't, I pulled out a fat file of correspondence I've kept over the years, and was sort of overcome on finding some wonderful notes to me from Handsome Partner, from long ago, that I forgot I had.  Also from other departed friends.  

But I kept on sturdily with my quest for addresses and thanked my packrat habit of keeping the little receipt you get for the customs slips for people in other countries, where you had to put their address.  Now in the address book, where they oughta.

Wonderful day today, bright and sunny and cool, and earlier I was over in Cranbury walking and watching turtles including a massive one about the size of a suitcase,  and fish at the dam (fish really do swim over the dam, like the three little fishies, in case you wondered) and then strolling back down the street for a large cone of homemade icecream at Gil and Bert's before they close for the season. 

It's been so hot for so long that it's hard to know when the season will end. There were plenty of customers around, including small sidewalk chalk artists and little dogs hoping for a treat.  And, had I remembered to bring my tablet, there would be pix, but oh well.

This might be a good Dolliver destination before the season ends, come to think of it.  I'm hearing more and more shouts of protest from them at how little they get around these days.  Perhaps they'd like to come on plein air tomorrow...we'll see.  It might mean finding berets for them, so as to be artistes. Sigh.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Kennet Square Mushrooms, home and cooked

I was at the farmers' market this morning, and picked up a small ($6) box of mixed shiitake and crimini mushrooms from the Kennet Square nice people, very knowledgeable about their crops, I love to buy from farmers who know what they're doing.

It looks like a small box, but once you prep and cut, here I chopped coarsely, it's a lot.  I ended up using two castiron pans side by side, knob of butter and blurt of olive oil in each, heated till the butter stopped foaming.  

Minced several cloves of garlic, and shared them between pans, then tossed in the mushrooms.  Shake of kosher salt over, couple of grinds of white pepper, cook on fairly high till they smell wonderful and start to soften. 

Then a nice slosh of red wine, here trusty Yellow Tail Shiraz, and let that cook off, lower heat at the end since castiron stays hot for ages, so you can overdo if you don't watch out.  And you did know there's no such thing as cooking wine, no?  if it's not good enough to drink on its own, it's not good enough to cook with, is my mantra. 

Anyway, one part of this was for my lunch and the rest frozen ready to reheat and serve along with other items for next time Handsome Son comes calling.

So here's lunch, mushrooms with garlic and wine over thick slices of homebaked wheat bread, toasted, not to lose any of the remaining wine sauce.  And I pronounced it Good!

In the mail today, early afternoon, came a Very Exciting Parcel of various things, including a package of Albert Square tea, new to me, but evidently popular in London, and this will have a test drive this afternoon for tea, along with a scone and the lemon and tomato jam.  After I've cleared up the dishes after lunch, that is.

The sender plans to style me HRH in future mailings, which I suspect means Her Reputed Haughtiness. But if it comes with tea and other goodies, I'm fine with it. 

And the Dollivers, having shaken off their summer lethargy, are now jonesing for a field trip to the farmers' market.  Maybe that will happen soon.  Farmers being good businessmen, I expect they'll be happy to be featured on this blog, even with Dollivers in the offing.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Jam for Tea with the Dollivers

After a wonderful, though strenuous day yesterday about which if you missed it, more here

I had other errands later, involving meetings with artists, pickup of work, and, this all on a day in the high 80s with very little access to ac, I was caught in the street by a neighbor wanting to give me a little item for art use, and have a chat. We don't see each other a lot, both busy, so I stayed out chatting, then realized I had better get indoors.

I suddenly had all the symptoms, I realized later, of heatstroke.  The lot, including doing a Hillary, staggering and gasping while trying to get into the house. I did make it to the sofa, lay down, cooled off, drank water and generally realized I was going to live if I stayed cool and got hydrated.

But the day was still wonderful, for all that.  And today, even hotter, I decided I had to bow to my trouble with heat, as in can't handle it, and aside from an early morning shopping run, stayed home and cool.

And of course that led to baking.  I made a batch of scones, with raisins and walnuts, and a small batch of Amish style tomato and lemon preserve.  

I forgot to make sure the tomatoes coming out of the freezer were plum toms, and used the juicier ones instead. So the preserve tasted wonderful, but is more runny than it spozed to be. 

Here it is at the unboildownable stage
The combo of lemon and farm tomato is unbeatable. Great for breakfast, too, tangy.  Just a small batch, easy to make. Couple of pints.

I split and jammed a scone, and left it for my neighbor across the street, not the chatting one, to sample.  She texted  about three minutes after arriving home from her city commute, that it was very good, and gone already! The joke between us is that I usually give her enough of a sample of whatever's going, to share with her husband, but that she samples the whole lot before he gets to taste it..but she's very good about sharing the banana bread, his favorite, when that's on offer

And of course, two of the Dollivers showed up dressed in whites, NameMe and Blondie Firstborn, claiming full participation in all the baking and boiling and jam testing and sterilizing of jars and serving, see the testing saucer on the right, you know this trick? put a couple of saucers in the freezer and when you think jam is jelled enough, test a spoonful on one there and if it wrinkles with pushing, jam's done, quick, shut off the heat. If not, try again in a minute with the other frozen saucer.

The Ds also tried their hand, not with much success,  at chatting to yet another friend who stopped in, in the middle of this operation.  She is not of the blog persuasion, and was baffled when I set up the photoshoot, explaining that these were two Dollivers from my blog.  

She looked at me a little suspiciously, eyeing the sharp objects in the kitchen, just in case I ran amok, but I guess decided that, though loopy in my old age, probably from the heat, I was harmless really. 

Then, finally, after she left to see to dinner for her troops,  I got me tea, as Wodehouse characters would put it. And very good it was.  Pot of English Breakfast, TWO split and jammed scones still warm from the oven.

And a word about my dramatic career, whence came the title Jam for Tea.  In  Grade One I starred in a class drama based on the Queen of Hearts nursery rhyme, playing the Queen!  

I thought I was pretty darn dramatic considering the limitation of a role of about ten lines, and was annoyed to see my teacher snorting at the back of the room on my big swing around, arms flung up in the air, to see, shock, horror, the Jam Tarts Were Gone.  But my fans loved it. I think that was when I peaked in my acting life.


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Plainsboro Festival of the Arts 2016

Perfect day for the annual Festival of the Arts, weather in mid 70s, sunny, little breeze, crowds of cheerful people milling about the Library and the plaza outside.

Art of all kinds, from stitching, with the Princeton Embroiderers' Guild, my buds, have to give them a shoutout

young stitcher's completed project

to paper weaving  which looked before the crowds arrived like the first picture, and you see what happens once young artists get to work

 to the Earthloom

 Young weaver writing out the wish she will weave onto the loom,
 to found object sculpture

 to Chinese brush painting 

and wood burning 

to Indian arts including mehndi

 to mandalas

to an installation of cows!  

Elsie the Cow being an important historical figure in this town, home of Walker Gordon Farms and the Rotolactor, once the main employer in the town. 

And music, food, hula hoops, all ages, and now and then a friendly sleepy dog! 

And your blogwriter, after five hours of happy teaching of paper weaving, meeting and greeting friends, taking pix of great art all over the plaza and indoors, certainly understood how that dog felt!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Sign of cooler days to come

After many weeks of not wanting to put the oven on to breadbaking temperature, the return of bright cool weather also brought about this phenomenon

Giant loaf, wholewheat and unbleached ap.  Now cut into four loaves, three in the freezer to keep me going for a while.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Great artist reunion, complete with portrait

Today was a long and lovely lunch meeting with old friends, all artists, and we plan on not letting it go so long again.  Hoping for monthly meetings, complete with show and tell.  Last year the west coaster was in the East and I missed that lunch through very bad timing with about of strep.  We also may need a name! we're what remains of a large artisans guild, way back, and someone suggested Remnants!  as in fabric, several of us being quilters, I add quickly.

Today I asked the favor of having everyone there, one of the six unavoidably unable to get there, put out her hands for a group portrait.  

This is so much more meaningful than smiling faces, nice as they are.  One pair of hands wielded the camera, hence the number doesn't add up!  What does add up, fast, is the combined ages of the participants, but never mind what it is!

These are the hands of women who know a thing or two, and have created wonderful artworks, designing and creating knitted marvels, quilts, crochet, mixed media, beading, stitching, worlds contained here!  many years of making art, learning, teaching and sharing. And all with plans for future projects.

Such generosity of spirit, too, very caring, full of news, one member newly returned from the west coast, one newly married at a later age, and wearing the diamond engagement ring of her late mother in law,  one,wearing a ring created by her stepdaughter, and  who completed a quilt created from an oil painting by her mother, one who exhibits and teaches, well, several do that.  And so still an active artist in her 90s, and all engrossed in creating and making lives for themselves. 

Music in several lives, too, your blogger who plays several instruments, and whose late father in law was a jazz drummer, Mari the quilter whose husband was a jazz saxophone player, and who herself plays harpsichord.

And since the quilt was the centerpiece of the event, complete with workbook showing all the stages and planning, including a pic of the painting from which the idea came, here it is

Mari M created this and many others, all as gifts and all accompanied by its own workbook.  One young relative commented that she must really love them to do all that work, once he'd seen the workbook for his quilt!

I'm glad we got a picture before it goes to its destination.  Her next project is a tshirt quilt, from a collection of music themed tshirts from her husband, and that one she plans to keep for herself.