Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Fruit and nut chocolate, deconstructed

Afternoon snack, naming probably under the influence of Eggshells, brilliant novel by Caitriona Lally.

She's taken over my mind!  Set in Dublin as seen through the mind  of a strange and appealing young woman. Like Joyce in Technicolor. A must read, as they say. Seriously.

That and the latest freecycle from friend's estate, a book of seeds. Some will stay with me, some go to friends. Amazing way of organizing them, compared to my stash of lumpy brown paper bags labeled in faint marker, dropped into a kitchen drawer. She even alphabetized them.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Fall, officially, chez Boud

Bit more gardening before winter, cutting and pulling the last of the Autumn Joy sedum. Noticing new rosettes already forming at the roots. And clearing more pachysandra from around the yellow daisies and the struggling little azalea, which was happy to see daylight again. And tripping over a pot and taking a header, but the ground was so soft after rain no harm done.

Then on the way to toss the debris into the woods, found downed oak branches. So one came home to join the sedum to dry.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

unseasonably icy winds call for putting the oven on.

Bread rolls resulted from today's icy wind. Working outside on the Pachysandra Project,  I thought I'd never get warm again. Baking bread rolls seemed like a good idea.

From this batch two went next door for Gs breakfast tomorrow, one became afternoon snack here, one became a chicken supreme sandwich with prosecco for supper. Dates and almonds to follow.

 Afternoon tea, the fresh roll, wheat and white, split and spread with labneh and lovely roasted garlic butter. Nice change from sweet stuff.

Then next door neighbor G obligingly cut off a long branch from the old cherry tree which has been attacking the roof on windy nights, and hauled it away, while another neighbor was busy with her latest recital of woes.

Which are very real and I'm glad to lend an ear but it was a bit hectic with neighbor G up the tree on my ladder in a high wind with a saw, and neighbor H little dog growling and shouting with anxiety about the situation. I had intended to get him to wait for better weather, but with G to think it is to do it. I am hardly in a position to criticize that approach. So he instantly came over with his Sawzall, great toy, I mean tool, and was done in no time.

The succulents came from his house to their winter quarters over here, and my posh folding chair I use for outdoor artwork in season went into his car for the soccer season. Evidently he is a fixture at the grandchildrens' games. One of them is three, wonder about the level of play on her team.

Now folding my tired hands around my glass of prosecco, and setting up for Season Two of Delicious. It's all go around here. Things move back and forth at a dizzying speed.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Gardening soup and books Part Two

There was no room in part one for the soup and books, so they're here now.

I was presented with a head of celery, a bunch of fresh garlic and other veggies a few days ago, by a friend going away and wanting them to go to a good home.

I made the garlic into lovely roasted garlic butter when I roasted the veg  for Friday's dinner, same temp and time, and scooped out the middles, plus some flavored olive oil and used an old spice jar to store it. You can just spread it with a knife. Big chunk into today's celery soup. Along with boiled redskin potatoes left from the roasting to use now, plus the yogurt whey and asparagus water from the freezer. Chicken broth powder, salt, diced onion, milk powder. several sprigs of fresh thyme.

I blended it just a bit, but kept the texture. The pic is before I took out the thyme and simmered, then blended.And it is really good. I like to have soup around, for when I don't feel like cooking much.

And reading awaited all this activity. Irish writers, Edna O'Brien short stories, and this book obligingly acted as a background for pic of Dorset buttons in my other blog, Beautiful Metaphor.  The Joyce is Portrait of the Artist etc, read before but rereading for next book group meeting.

Food of all kinds today. And season two of Delicious to watch this evening.

Gardening, soup, books not in that exact order

Since the season is winding down, and yes I know there are readers out there already under snow and some just coming into spring, anyway here it's time to Thin the Pachysandra.

It's served the garden well, always a nice bed of green under and around everything. But it does get aggressive and I have to finally get around to pulling some. This side of the path yielded five enormous armloads now strewn about in the woods, where it will create undergrowth for little animals.  It's always more work than you planned on, but there are weeks yet before the weather makes it dodgy.

But, as you see, it's looking barely touched. No danger of overdoing it. Each day I do about one armload, enough pulling and hauling at a time.  There's a newcomer ground vining plant trying to take over. It arrived originally in a planted container, then escaped and went mad. No doubt considered a pest but I love the bright color and its undaunted attitude.  So if it ducks in where the pachysandra was, I'll be quite okay with it. It trails a treat. And as I pull out the ground cover, the wild flowers show up. This is good. And I notice several volunteer Montauk daisies getting along there.

I cut herbs finally, stuffed the last bunch of the year in the freezer, delivered a bag of rosemary across the street to Michael the Contractor and artist and cook. All getting set now. I'm hoping to make space for bulbs, too, along the path. I had planned on moving the herb pots to the patio, but they had put down roots, so I thought I'd leave them and see if they grow again next year. I have saved seeds of both basils.  The thyme and lavender and rosemary are all shrubs, really, not annuals, so they can stay.

This frenzy of activity is partly a result of reading Penelope Lively's Life in the Garden. You really want to run out and do things.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The makings of a dinner with Handsome Son, and a brave volunteer

The planets being in the right configuration, Handsome Son is free for dinner on a night when I have time and energy to do something about it. So here's the makings. 

Chicken breasts rolled with ham and cheese, eggwash and chickpea crumbs, then roasted red potatoes, parboiled, with carrots, garlic, grated Parmesan, red pepper flakes sort of strewn about. Whole garlic heads for making garlic butter for spreading. Everything can go in a 400f oven.  Nice prosecco cooling. Dates, almonds, bananas for dessert, no cooking just assembling.

And outside,  this little volunteer, probably dead nettle or a relative, standing up to a tough environment, and creating a natural artwork.

What I'll be doing, in a few, is continuing in this great book of musings about gardens, real and fictional, their places in art and writing and the lives of the gardeners. You need your tablet or  other reference aid ready to check on writers, painters, plants,as she mentions them and you need to know more, instantly.  Lively always lives up to her name, and at 85 she's as sharp as ever and as compelling.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Sunday health lunch with heath dessert

Home baked fresh bread roll, spread with labneh, one large slice each of farm tomato, getting near the end of the season. Virtue. Health. And dessert of Heath. Which is actually a health bar if you count mental health.

Aka my story and I'm sticking to it.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Much traveled wildflowers

Just reading Philippa Gregory's Earthly Joys, and hugely recommend it to anyone who loves plants and gardens and the history of how we came to have the plants we take for granted.

Here's a wild flower, spiderwort, aka virginiana tradescantia. Tiny sparks od blue, three petals.It showed up as a volunteer out front  this year. I had another on the patio which appeared in a pot, like a stray animal deciding to move in. This little stand is a different one.

Took me several days to catch these tiny flowers open. The first day I tried in the afternoon, forgetting that they close then. Then we had rain, and the flowers were open but it wasn't good for the camera. They are both wild and cultivated.

They're from the tradescantias, named for John Tradescant, the gardener and traveler who first worked for Lord Cecil in Elizabethan times, and later for other great gardens, designing, traveling in search of plants to study and introduce to England.

Every time we see his name in the Latin plant name, we get an insight into the extent of his travels in search of new learning.  And when you read this novel, based on flawless historical research, you come to understand that those famous English gardens are an amalgam of the flora of many countries.  My own is a native American, found in Virginia. But the tradescantias are very much settled in English gardens too, like many of his other finds.

And the horse chestnut, producing the candle-like blossoms in spring and the conkers beloved of little English kids in fall? He paid a lot to get five of those nuts from the middle East to propagate. Imagine the anxiety about keeping plants alive on long voyages home. Rather him than me, but do read about him. And his son, also John, also a gardener. They really changed a lot of the landscape.

And it reminds me how mad with joy I was on getting an American garden to find the amazing wealth of wild plant life and the friendly climate where you could grow tomatoes and melons out of doors! Just like that! To a newcomer all those years ago, raised in a cold northern climate, it still seems miraculous.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Dark days. Fight back.

Yesterday was a dark day. But with exquisite timing, my mail in ballot arrived the same day.

So I wielded my main weapon, and voted. Early. On paper which can't be hacked. And trust that at least some of the dozens of voters I sent applications to,  with a personal handwritten note of encouragement, have got their ballots and will vote.

US blogistas, please vote! Our republic is at a moment of great danger. Support candidates for gun sense, indigenous women in honor of the holiday, WOC because they're our backbone. Remember the heroes on the Senate judiciary were Kamala Harris and Corey Booker, poc.

This afternoon I'm at an art event to honor a woman artist, and get relief from the news.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Friday breakfast chez Boud

Here's the set up for breakfast.

Tray in the offing, with pot of tea,  slice of fresh banana/ walnut/ raisin/chocolate bits cake, yogurt cheese ready to spread, the whey ready to freeze for soup.

Yogurt cheese is a favorite around here. Just strain yogurt overnight in cheesecloth lined strainer over a bowl, save the whey which drains out for lovely soup addition, use the cheese like cream cheese only better. It's tangy without that waxy feel of cream cheese.

Good any time but excellent on toast, banana bread, scones.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

The biannual visit to the nursery, Fall edition

Beautiful October day, and it was time for the seasonal trip to the nursery.

The way it goes: Spring, potting soil and herbs,  lantana for the hummingbirds. This year's lantana is on its third bloom of the year. Fall is about potting soil, chrysanthemums, small pumpkin for step and later soup, it's a sugar pumpkin.

I'm a modest gardener, save seeds, already Italian and Thai basil seeds in paper bags. Also seeds picked up from a neighbor's sidewalk from some really pretty tall flowers. So next year's in hand.

Meanwhile I've done the outside bit for Fall, as you see.

You can see the patio from the front door so I like to make a scene to enjoy. I've heard from neighbors that they like it, too, always a good point.

And passersby on the street, we have a lot of them, can enjoy this. Background bronze chrysanthemum, Autumn Joy sedum, white chrysanthemum.

Next: lunch, Alison Weir historical novel, knitting.  A nap may insert itself in there somewhere.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Montauk daisies finally

They start to leaf out in spring, bigger and bigger and no sign of buds until you've about given up on them, then in October they suddenly get cracking and put on a show.

Passersby can see them againsyt the Autumn Joy sedum. Coming up the path to the door, and through the kitchen window.

I take all this into account when I plant. Small area, many vantage points. When they finally show up. They're like the last minute passenger hurtling to the departure gate.

There are wild flowers too, less spectacular but dear to me, like this spiderwort lovely blue sparks.

And here shy foliage among some creeper that runs its own life ignoring the gardener, are the closed flowers of scarlet pimpernel, cloudy weather makes them close. At the bottom you see a volunteer Montauk daisy which apparently has plans for next year.