Thursday, March 30, 2017

Fast breaking news everywhere, including upcoming events for me, but meanwhile..

There's always cake.  To be exact, Blueberry Snacking Cake, a variation on Melissa Clark's recipe.  You can find this online.

Always turns out well, and today's blueberries burst in the cake very pleasingly, and now it looks like a constellation cake!  The gap you see on one corner is the cook's privilege. Two privileges, but who's counting.

She uses brandy, I used red wine, not having any spirits available, ever, really, and she uses Demerara sugar, and again, not having it, I used regular white granulated. She uses figs, and I didn't.  It still comes out well.  And when you see two whole sticks of butter, whoa, a lot, but this 18 x 12 cake makes about 30 slices, more if you're stingy.  So the butter divided across that many isn't a lot after all.  And it uses whole wheat flour. One instruction I particularly like is where she says to "nestle" the fruit on top of the batter.  The nestling part is good.

I separated out a little group to freeze for some future teaparty. I finally realized that I can do this, then not have all the work to do right before the little event. And it is little. One guest!  I like to chat and listen at whatever length the guest likes, and I think it's a sort of interval in busy lives for the people who've accepted. And they get to wander about looking at what's on the walls, no need to be polite.

This one was baked in an interval of great art related busyness, everything happening at once,  more about that later, when things have fewer moving parts.  I swear one day I will retire, but then I wonder what I'd do if I didn't have unnerving things coming at me all the time...I may never know.  This is not in the nature of a complaint, more like humble bragging, really!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sunday in the kitchen with Boud

Simple food for one today.

Breakfast, pancakes (with a drop of almond essence in the batter, very nice the second day), wildflower honey,  with farm-raised fried egg. Pot of English Breakfast tea. 

Pancake batter mixed previous evening because I had an urge to eat a pancake.  The teapot is one I bought myself to help get through the election season, and it worked pretty well.

Lunch, my favorite of all pastas, orzo, boiled with turmeric in the salted water, tossed with a carrot pesto (just a regular pesto except carrots blended in instead of green herbs) and mixed with baby bellas sauteed in butter and olive oil with a pinch of cloves.  Pesto supply from freezer, mushrooms prepped and in freezer.

Afternoon snack toasted banana bread, golden raisins and walnuts,  with small pot of Vietnamese coffee.  

Bread from freezer, of course. The pot is new, same design as the little teapot, with strainer basket dropped in, and I decided that the ugly little plastic pot I'd been using had run its course and I was worth a nice new pot dedicated to coffee. I drink it very strong, but not very much. This is its maiden voyage, and God bless all who drink from her.  

Note the different milkjugs from breakfast to afternoon!  this is a four star townhouse, this is.  The afternoon one's a Wedgwood Queensware, considerably upscale from the pressed glass one on the breakfast tray, but I like all my pitchers.

All this prepping meant that it took only a couple of minutes to assemble some great food. Suits me on the many days I don't feel like fooling with cooking but still need, oddly enough, to eat.

There's still supper to think about later, but that might be mango yogurt with sliced almonds and blueberries from the freezer.

I have to get around to baking some bread, but some days I don't feel like doing it. Pancakes are the current bready item. Some days it's hot biscuits.  And I think I'll make soup tomorrow.  There's still plenty of soup season left even though it's officially Spring.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Fish and chips, what a Brit! 6WS

Yesterday Handsome Son came to dinner, and had what you could call fish and chips, again, but it always goes well. Especially since it was at short notice.

This time it was a nice piece of flounder, with a  marinade of plain yogurt blended with Dijon mustard and Colman's dry.  Then added in some extra flavoring I had in the freezer, fish sauce from an earlier meal, and it worked a treat.  Then after this pic, pretty much smothered the fish in the sauce.  Or enrobed it, if you like fancy cookspeak.

With roast potatoes mixed with all the usual spices, but with the addition of a little dish of spiced radish salad, courtesy of Indian friend, all mixed in and roasted together. And peas, and nice glass of red.  I interrupted Handsome Son's meal to take the pic before I forgot. He's very patient.

 I recommend this idea, of mixing some very spicy addition to potatoes, comes out more interesting.  And since both the potatoes and the fish go in at 400F, the fish for half the time of the spuds, it works well with the oven, too.

Served after carrot and cabbage and chicken soup, and before banana bread with a pot of tea.  Followed by an Agatha Christie dvd.

Before he left he noticed the latest slippers in progress, I seem to urgently need slippers to match my blue robe as well as the pink ones, and promptly dashed up the the stash, picked out an exciting grey yarn, and ordered a pair for himself. 

So I traced around his foot on a piece of paper, and he wondered if I needed to trace the other foot, as well, for left and right. It reminded me of the question about when you turn the elbow if you're knitting a sleeve. Well meaning, good thinking, but a non- knitter at work. 

Oh, and Bev, from whose website I got the free pattern, came in to Rav to explain to me that there really was an Aunt Maggie, and she really did design these slippers.  Bev transcribed from her handwritten pattern, and published, to share and to honor her.  So I'm glad to know all that. She's long gone, but we still honor her when we knit her slippers.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Ballet Shoes? not quite..

The weather, high winds, low temps, are causing me to keep warm at home, knitting, baking banana bread for tea, grumbling, domestic life, oh well.

And here are the slippers I just started, must cast on the second before I fall prey to SSS, second slipper syndrome.  That's where you never get around to casting on the second one.  Applies to socks, too.

It's a great little pattern, made several pairs of these for friends as well as me, very satisfying to make. Using up some acrylic yarn on these, since they need to wear pretty well.  It's Aunt Maggie's Slippers, from Bevs Country Cottage website, here

Not quite ballet slippers, except they're pink and they have little square toes.  There the resemblance ends.
And here's the banana bread, cooling for afternoon tea.  With walnuts and golden raisins.

It's a consolation for not being out and about.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Dolliver Towers, new construction chez Boud

Everyone in the news seems to have towers to their names, some of them golden, even, and the Dollivers have been getting restless about being set on the spare room bed when they ought to be getting their own building, at the least.

So, yesterday the parts for Dolliver Towers arrived, and the Ds went to work to get construction completed

Here's the Team Lift under way as per the instructions

with Blondie Firstborn pointing out that she can't lift when other Dollivers are sitting on the bit she's lifting

then came the reading of the instructions and the finding of the parts, and the getting squashed under them and finally the construction, and the installation of the entire collection in their new digs.

 They took over the penthouse and made the others squash into lower floors. Except for the bed doll, who is too tall for a lower floor, and needs the headroom afforded by a penthouse suite.

Duncan is happy with this development, since it leaves the bed for him, his favorite afternoon nap place when the sun comes in.

However, I'm keeping quiet about it, since the friend who was suggesting ways of displaying the dolls also said that if I found anything that worked she was going to give me more porcelain dolls she's had stored away for ages...just what I needed.  She pointed out that this would solve her storage problem for the dolls!
I'm trying not to acquire at this point, even lovely stuff as hers no doubt is. I have to admit nothing ends up in the landfill..

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Your consumer reporter, hard at work 6WS

I like to hear the end of the story, so I thought I should report back on a few ends.

The mobius scarf went over well, and Handsome Son went home wearing it, plus his fingerless gloves, which turned out to match and to have been knitted by me at some point I have forgotten about. 

The almond friands (very hard not to write friends there) went over equally well, with special request to do them again at some point. Just a bunch of paper cases on the plate I served them on now. So this was in fact worth the effort. Even if I don't have the special little tins you have to send away for, I seem to have said that a few times now.

And the kettle I blogged about ages ago when I bought it, and it arrived from Germany with semi translated instructions, has proved very well the water to heat admirably, even to steam.  I've been using it at least two if not three times daily, and it still does all the things it spozed to, so here's a shoutout to German workmanship.

Out of doors, however, there's a conspicuous lack of consumption by the squirrels. After an entire winter of trying to access the firmly locked and inaccessibly hung suet feeders while many species of birds noshed happily undisturbed, one smart squirrel finally managed to knock down the red net feeder plus the S hook, now sunk deep in the snow. And today struggled and finally got the other suet feeder unhooked and down on the ground. 

 However, that's where his thinking skills ended.  Squirrel yanked and plunged up and down, digging and scrabbling and swearing and completely unable to unlock the feeder, thanks to the split rings I put on there which defeated him. 

And since what was left was a small bit of food, he couldn't access it to eat.  While this titanic struggle was going on, hauling the feeder all over the patio, the large chunk of food was unnoticed in the red net feeder which was wide open to eat from.  This is a limited set of thinking skills.

So once the squirrel left, either from frustration or exhaustion, the birds all flocked down again and set to work on their food.  I'll hang it all back up again when the snow melts a bit.

And now for a pot of tea and an almond friand, neener!

And on the subject of Handsome Sons and genetics, he told me last night he's been writing a blog which is about a mythical set of characters based on real objects, and their adventures.  For which he has a keen audience!  The concept takes the form of announcements, like a kind of news blog, I think.

I asked him if this was anything like the Dolliver idea, and he agreed that it was, but more fictional!  Not as amazing as you might think, since he's been doing this sort of thing since he could first hold a pencil, illustrated stories of stuff around the house and what they got up to in their spare time.  I have bunch of little drawings up in the studio that he saved for me instead of recycling everything.

But it cracked me up.  No, I don't have a link to the blog, but he's planning to monetize it, and I'll ask if he wants me to link it at that time, when it gets more ambitious. 

Like Mom like Handsome Son, I guess.  So happy that his creative spirit is alive and well despite a couple of work setbacks in the last couple of years.  You simply can't tell an artist to just stop; they can't! They just find different ways to keep going.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

New idea for dessert. We'll see what the verdict is tomorrow.

 Handsome Son is expected for dinner tomorrow night, and I noticed I had no little something for dessert anywhere.  So I pawed through my cookbooks, and found one I didn't know I had.

And found a recipe that would use up the egg whites I've had in the freezer for a little while, since I made something or other that needed just yolks.  Almond friands. The book even tells you how to pronounce it, taking nothing for granted. 

This recipe proved to be one of those frugal moves that lead to complications.  Like making a button down coat with matching skirt, to use up a few buttons you found in the box.

Anyway, I was interrupted by a friend coming over all in a tizz over some medical tests, and obviously needing tea and sympathy, so we did that.  And she marveled at the stuff I freeze, had no idea you could freeze egg whites.  Well, neither did I until I tried it and it worked okay.

Then she left, and I got to work, with the assistance of Duncan, who was hoping for a bit of raw egg white as a treat (!).  And found that this recipe to use up a couple of egg whites involved stages. And melting.  And sifting. And beating and two different oven temps. And special little tin things. 

So, since I did have  the ingredients, I ground up the almonds, beat the egg whites, sifted the confectioner's sugar and the flour, melted the butter, on and on.  And put the batter in ordinary cupcake cases sitting in a cupcake pan.

There is apparently some mystique about these things, related to being Foreign, and needing special tins you have to send away for. Hm.  The book made them look very appetizing, though, so I made a batch. Supposed to make 10, but made 11.  Extra one for the cook.

After all this faff, I took another look at the recipe 

and found it had two stars.  And checked what that could mean.  It means "needs a little extra care, and a little extra time."  Cookspeak. Meaning don't imagine you're going to just whip these up like cupcakes, nooooo, where did you get that idea? It doesn't say the results are wonderful, worthy of two stars, though..

I tried one, and it's okay, very delicate, interesting texture and flavor. I'll see how they go down tomorrow night. If it's anything short of ecstatic, this might be the only time I do them.

The book turns out to be Australian, written by a cast of thousands, so nobody takes the blame for anything, I suppose.  But it's wonderfully photographed, and they do translate metric measurements into the old fashioned ones we still use in this so-called advanced country.  I'll try other things from it, perhaps, but not the many starred ones.  Which may prove to be ill starred, we'll see.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Mobius cowl and backyard birds

Yesterday's snow and ice storm, and the ice sticking around today both caused indoor work to get going.  Also outdoor work, hungry birds ripping at the suet feeders to fuel up.

I've been seeing red bellied woodpeckers frequently, one at a time, but studied them and decided it was a pair, taking turns.  The male has a bigger red hat than the female.  They're very quick to take off if they spot me, so this is the best I could do, after many tries! The bird is on the lower feeder, not the bright red one.

The nice part about the feeder is that they have to cling on and curl the tail up to balance, so you get a view of the red feathers on their belly, a great help in identifying.  Then today both arrived together, yay, and it was indeed a pair.  The male snarled at the female who retreated to a nearby branch waiting for him to leave.  Then a starling started on him, and after he'd rapidly eaten a bit more, he too vanished, into the trees out back. I'm hoping for nesting there.

After all the bigger birds had gone, the patient Carolina wrens took over the feeder, definitely a pair, and hoping for nesting there, too. They were the first to realize that the red feeder was full of good stuff, and the other birds have caught on from them.

Meanwhile, back on this side of the window, knitting happened, 

and next time Handsome Son comes over, he will pick up his own Mobius cowl (which I call a scarf for him, thinking that cowl may sound girly!)  I did it again in Shaker stitch, and you see how nicely the edges roll over. This is acrylic, his choice, easy to wash etc. It can be arranged in any number of ways, depending on the weather and wind.

Over in beautiful metaphor, you'll see a lot of studio activity, too, ahead of the residence series in April.  Great fun to have a destination for art.  And, since I've done my current bit for Creative Collective, writing the pr for both upcoming shows, and providing my bio and label information to the right people, I'm free to make my own stuff again without thinking about deadlines for other items.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Just when the spring seemed to have arrived -- snow prep. Again

Overall, this has not been the worst winter.  But good old Ma Nature saved her worst for last.  Storm around here with high winds, a lot of snow, up to two feet standing, probably much more drifting, and general angst and arghghghgh.  Starting tonight, and ending who knows when.

Aside from all the texts from the utility company, the HO association, etc., all elevating the anxiety, other things are not so bad.  

I did snow prep as follows:

brought in the snow shovel, since it won't be possible to get into the outdoor storage closet without using a snow shovel to get the door open. Note how lovely the sun is out there, big alternative fact.

made a big pot of soup, laid in veggies galore, freezer pretty well filled in case of outage anyway

and not forgetting the kitties, gads, not forgetting their food, vital supplies arrived this afternoon.

and Handsome Son's Mobius scarf under way. He came over the other night, liked my Mobius, but not in that bright red color, ew (!),  went to the stash, picked out a lovely dark brown (!) which I'm patiently knitting into his own Mobius.  He's a walker, so a good scarf is a great idea in this icy windy weather. Won't be done before the storm, but there will be plenty of use for it later.  It's in Shaker stitch, which I really like to knit, to the point of obsession.

And with my complete Rosemary and Thyme dvds at the ready, we're set.  Sort of.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Indian treats, date jam and March 'nations

Today was one of those days where you need a flexible approach to life.  I had sort of planned on going to a special lecture on Palestinian costume and embroidery, then the weather turned so bitter I was afraid I would have trouble breathing, what with the wind and all.

So I was wondering about this, then a friend stopped in, newly back from India full of news of relatives and parties and bearing a box of special Indian treats she knows I love.  One's gone already before the pic happened.

While she was in mid chat, another friend stopped in to return a dish in which I'd given him fruit crumble some time ago, and stayed to join in the convo.  Very good time had by all, and I seized the day to give them both some banana chutney I've been planning on giving.  Food just whizzes back and forth in this neighborhood.

Then he left and she and I talked resistance training, no, not the political stuff I've been doing, the free weight type.  And she was stunned to find out I lift more than two pounds...but while we were at it, I showed her how to do resistance whole-body safe stuff on the stairs.  And she cracked me up by making a video of it to share with her husband so they can both do it!  The inadvertent movie I didn't ask to see it, bad enough seeing still pix of self.

Then by the time they'd left, I was out of time, also peopled out. I can only take on so much people exposure daily, but they had priority.  Hoping to see some people tomorrow who might have gone to today's event, anyway.

So got down to the other plan for the day, making date jam.  Wanted to make some little preserve ahead of friend coming to visit next week, and date and apple seemed good.  The apples were in the freezer, all prepped, so I just cut down the dates, put dates and apples, random amounts, really, in pan with some added water, shake of really good cinnamon, not that supermarket stuff, shake of vanilla essence.  

Brought to the boil, down to simmer, cooked for about 35 minutes, spooned into redhot sterilized jar, which had been in boiling water all the while the jam was cooking.  Done.

You will note that there's no added sugar in this jam.  Dates and apples are already packed with fructose, no need for it.  I just read a book by a big alternative fact merchant on how she went without sugar for a year.  

I read with interest wondering how she managed it, and found out she had made massive use of glucose -- SUGAR, and dextrose -- SUGAR!  All she did without was a range of prepared other forms of sugar.  Very far from sugar free.

No need for me to pile on, though, since I found a raft of messages to her from people who know all about this stuff kindly explaining that she's totally wrong, and is no chemist, nor nutritionist. So I figured my opinion was out there enough, no need for more. But I'm just sayin, that's all, mumble, mumble.

And I did get out for a brief errand, after I finished fussing about the sugar lady,  despite knifing wind, because I was out of, gasp, wine!  And milk. And while I was there, flowers. I organize flowers for the house on the first of the month, a New Year's resolution which is pretty easy to keep, and very good for my spirits at this time of year.  Poked about in the flower department, and came out with pink flowers, protest pink!  

I don't like it at all when people abbreviate flower and other names, chrysanthemums to mums, computers to 'puters, please.  However, can't beat em, join em, so, to show I can be as annoying as the next, here are my pink 'nations...

Some baking tonight, I think, and some Alan Rickman watching, great youtube link from K, she is always showing me stuff I really ought to know already and don't, and it's v. cool. In fact why don't I show you the link, too, instead of just wittering on about it.