Thursday, December 15, 2016

Birthdays, Christmas prep and clam chowder

This latest birthday, always such a surprise to get another, is working out a treat, what with nice things arriving, and wishes and so on, for days now, I feel like the Queen, except she's more used to it.

Anyway, I have finally grown up to the point where I will allow Christmas decor to happen before the Most Important Day, so here's the total of my splurge.  

 Woven stars for peace showered down on the three creches in there.  And decorations on the ficus, which takes a seasonal job working as a Christmas tree.

This dumpster table is one of the nicest things I ever swiped.  So adaptable.  Side table at Thanksgiving, and now Christmas decor table. It has the extra added attraction that the kitties are not interested in it, saving me many hours of finding and replacing little items that have been played under the sofa. And the Dollivers are not in evidence. Judging from the racket upstairs, they're kneedeep in outfits, looking for their red festive ones, and jewelry, too.

Awaiting the surprise

Handsome Son brought dinner over a couple of nights ago, since he's working the other evenings, a lovely dish of roast chicken breast over noodles in Alfredo sauce.  Dessert was his own home baked, and his own recipe, chocolate chip cookies.  And he made the tea that went with them.  And brought the interesting soft drinks that went with the main course.  It was all a surprise, hence the empty table!

Then today is bitterly cold, high winds, too, very quiet since the reno contractors can't work in this weather, thankfully for them, I expect, so it called for soup.  

Ages since I made clam chowder, though I've had a little can of clams waiting for the mood for ages.  And Roma plum tomatoes from the farm, in the freezer.  And fish bits to make into fish stock in a bag in the freezer.  And potatoes already in the house.  And my homegrown thyme in the freezer. So clam chowder it was.

Like this

The fish stock was the simplest I ever did: just heated up the fish bits in enough water for the soup, boiled the lot, and added it after straining out the fish, flavor surprisingly good.

I did rescue the onions and garlic before they charred.  One of the drawbacks of being the cook and the photographer and the food designer is that you sometimes lose track.

Then, since I don't like soup that is liquid with floating islands of solid food in it, I did blend it a bit, just to change the texture, but not to lose all the interest. I had already taken out the floating tomato skins, but I like to cook with them in place, good flavor there.  So here's the finished Birthday Chowder

 Perfect insulation in this weather, reminds me of what my mom used to refer to as the weather of the  "poor sailors at sea" always making me include them in my prayers at night in winter storms.  We were close to the North Sea, historically a rough and dangerous sea where a lot of local fisherfolk worked their catch, so it was more than theoretical.

So I now have a large container, soup, not fisherfolk, for Handsome Son and me when he next comes over, plus several small ones just for me, in the freezer.

And I have art news, which is also birthday type news, for which you need to consult Art the Beautiful Metaphor.  Last year I gave out virtual gifts to blogistas. But this year, it's a plan.  Seems like a good time to plan for events I will be doing next spring, and this one is new hatched.  Since I will be blogging about it, and offering it in person for free, it's a gift to my township via the library.

But, last for best, here is a marvelous bouquet which appeared this morning at the door, from sister dogonart.  The smell is wonderful, the downstairs all now like summer.  And since it's in a rectangular container, it has two sides.  Here are both

And since I can never resist forcing information on teaching people
see the stripey tulips?  tulips and roses and other flowers were all stripey in the middle ages before they were hybridized and made into solid colors.  

You see them in old tapestries and paintings, and Ronsard mentioned this in his poetry.  And now the taste for them has returned so they're sort of reverse engineering them to get stripes again, and they're lovely.  I hope you're taking good notes, there will be a quiz.


  1. oh, happy birthday, Liz. Im terrible at these things (remembering, that is) until usually the day after and someone says, 'did you know X had her birthday party yesterday?" noooo. ooops.

    I do like knowing what we have done (and are now undoing) to flowers, seems we can't leave anything alone, can we.

    that's a stunning bouquet, btw. Love the way you get two different views from it.

  2. Enjoy all the info you force on me. Oddly I was thinking of Mam this morning and mentally went through her prayer "thank God for a good bed, a roof over our heads and God help the poor sailors at sea". She was. of course, a master at manipulation e.g. Prior to Christmas "we have to get this house sparkling before the Baby Jesus comes" and then we were all at it dusting vacuuming and polishing to beat the band.

  3. Sounds like you're having a wonderful Birth Day! All the best of things - good food, beautiful flowers, and being indoors on a cold day. What more could you want? Happy day!!

  4. Belated Happy Birthday, Liz! Sounds like a wonderful day :)
    I meant to think of something treat-like to celebrate mine (on the 12th) but Tsuga was off her feed and I spent most of the day doing little extra chores in the barns to keep an eye on her, and shuffling goats around, and going back and forth from house to barn with tempting treats and what-not. It was a gradual process, but yesterday Tsuga was really back to normal! I guess I'll call that my birthday gift :)

  5. Happy birthday! Us Sags must hang together.


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