Thursday, January 31, 2019

Graphic novels, picture books for grown-ups

Since long ago discovering Maus, then more recently the work of Alison Bechdel, I've been interested in the graphic novel as an exciting art form. Not so much the retelling of classic works with illustrations, though the first graphic volume of Proust, Remembrance of Things Past, is brilliant, do look at it, but original works.

I'm hoping to get my book group to venture into them, so I'm doing a bit of research into what's good, what's available, and passing on my thoughts to the group leader.

Here are the three best so far, already recommended Bechdel and Maus's Spiegelman, and they're all great. The writer/illustrators all get the real point of this genre. Not just a story with pictures added, but a drama where the graphics act out the meaning of the script and add new dimensions to it. The way good actors take on and enlarge their script, or Hilary Hahn interpreting violin music. Check her on YouTube, one of the best musicians ever.

Maira Kalman gives us a wild careering ride through the mind of a brilliant artist, who takes in all the threads of life and imagination, every emotion you can have, in her The Principles of Uncertainty, the title already a riff on Heisenberg . And Bintel Brief is a new look at that famous phenomenon of the early twentieth century, the reader letters to the editor of the Forward, the Yiddish newspaper of the Lower East Side of New York.

You don't have to be a New Yorker to love her take on the letters and the shade of their editor. Then there's Notes on a Thesis, and you don't have to be a graduate student to follow the struggles of a young woman getting her Ph.D despite family, friends, even her own adviser and fellow students. The illustrations are a constant subtext.

So there's where I am now. Still reading books without pix, Guns of August, Night Circus, The Other Einstein, with dear old Less than Angels, favorite Pym. I love Catherine Oliphant, like dropping in on a friend.

But do try graphic novels, and if you already do would you please share your recommendations? I'd love to hear.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Mini green house in action

Finally got the mini greenhouse going. I tried a few days ago, all ready to go, out on the deck, container, tools, camera, determination, found the potting soil totally frozen. Oh.

Brought all the doings back indoors including the bag of soil, to thaw out. Then realized it was about twice the size that the little container could manage.

So today set up a row of pots and off-loaded half the contents into the pots ready for spring anyway.

Then had to staple shut the bag, after stabbing the drainage holes.  Then it fitted nicely, and I cut out the window, scattered the lettuce one side, parsley the other.

The sun obligingly came out to confirm this is a good spot. Then I fitted the container on to the lid, which snaps shut, see the red snap thing on the side, squirrel deterrent, and we're all set.

I'll let you know how it goes!

Sunday, January 20, 2019

This is a salad kit, aka a greenhouse

Just pottering about, crocheting, listening to Night Circus on YouTube, then looked around and found myself somehow at the Roots and Refuge channel. With a great mini greenhouse idea for growing a bit of salad in the winter. Go there and find it, credit is all hers. And she has a helpful ginger cat who whiffs his tail across the camera, wanting to be included.

Piper got me thinking about it, but my scope is more modest, and here's my kit.

Everything already in the house. I had kept a few packets of seed when I gave away a gardensworth to a young man trying his hand. The rest of the seeds are tender, also inedible flowers, so the two you see are the trial packets.And an unheated greenhouse is best for hardier seeds, so lettuce and parsley are good possibilities. I'd like a bit of baby lettuce in the winter and possibly parsley for me for once, instead of the dusky swallowtail caterpillars. I'll give them a pot later.

I dumped out my embroidery frames and hoops into a crate to use their container. No, you don't punch drainage holes in the container, it's unharmed, read on.

You punch the drainage holes in the bag of potting soil, see it outside the window, turn it over, rest it on the lid of the container, flat on the ground. Or, chez Boud, flat on the pachysandra, then cut an opening in the topside of the bag, just a window. I've used quite a bit of the soil from this bag, so the level will probably work. If it's a new bag you have to scoop some out, since it's compressed in the bag. Now scatter the seeds, invert the container over the whole doings. If the soil is dry, sprinkle it really gently. Mine's damp, may skip that. And voila, or walla, as those annoying diy ladies say.

I'll update you on how, and if, this works. If we have warmer days, it might need to be propped a couple of inches open to avoid too much moisture. But since tomorrow is frigid, it's not even going out till later in the week. This has real possibilities. Watch this space!

Friday, January 18, 2019

Storm prep

Back to back snowstorms forecast, dramatic state of emergency declared for tomorrow. So major storm prep chez Boud.

1. Look at shelf where the flashlight is.

2. Check shelf for emergency tinfoil blanket

3. Bring in wooden cat, snow shovel and brush.

Done. Took five minutes, very exhausting. Now to crochet and read.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

RIP little simple phone

Yesterday, after a few days of losing its charge, my little old phone, simple, just texted and called, very low cost, failed to wake up.

I had resisted mightily the smartphone, since it did more than I need. The iPhone was a nonstarter, for various reasons having to do with its cultish aura. The Android smartphone had a shaky start, and I  was clinging to my old one.

But needs must, and after studying online, I went off and spent about three minutes buying a reasonably priced phone. I was only concerned  that it be the same low cost carrier, and was home and setting it up before I realized it was a smartphone! Oh well, it does work and it's an acceptable rate.

However it leaves me with a small dilemma: what to do with all the  dear departed's clothes? The little purses I'd knitted, spun and woven, beaded, crocheted, and used, to carry the phone with me at all times, as a safety measure.

Seen here, arranged like a tribute to a Pharaoh, are the items. So here's the question, since the new phone is way too big for them, what to do with them?

All suggestions entertained. Especially entertaining ones.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Gingering up the food around here

Very early awake, and wondering what to do about it, I wandered through one of those "56,783 ways to cook ginger"  features online and promptly got up to try a couple.

Here's a rub, or as Shakespeare would put it, ay, there's the rub. His was a gloomier take, though. Anyway here are chicken breasts, no thighs available that day, and breast needs all the help it can get, with their rub.

 Mixture of cayenne, ginger powder, celery seed. I left the rub mixed for a couple of hours before applying it, to let flavors get acquainted.  I'll let you know how it goes. And just now, I remembered to add a bit of turmeric, not in the pic.

And then there are ice cubes for dropping into tea, instead of milk. Some people don't like milk in their tea. These are lemon juice, ginger powder and honey, and water. They could also be a handy cold remedy, come to think of it. I bagged them for refreezing to free up the tray.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Flounder puttanesca.

Just made this really good, very easy fish. Usual flounder, favorite whitefish, goes with anything.


Added the rest of the tomato sauce from the lasagne, from the freezer. Heated it
 through with big helping of capers, squeeze of anchovy paste, spread over flounder with a chunk of parmigano reggiano rind, hot oven for 30 minutes. Really good. Interesting, not too salty. Enough for two meals fron one fillet. You can rinse off and reuse the cheese rind. Supposed to have olives, but I didn't have any.

There's the added virtue of eating fish, too. I'm still in antidote mode after holiday food, except for the slice of birthday cake from the freezer. A girl's gotta have dessert, life's short, and other such excellent reasons I just made up.

Friday, January 4, 2019

Pease pudding returns

A passing comment online reminded me of pease pudding, ancient Yorkshire food. I remember it from childhood. Probably homemade, but you could buy it cooked, too. You remember the rhyme about pease pudding hot, pease pudding cold? This is the very stuff.

This recipe is for yellow split peas, or pease, but I think I've had it made with green split peas too. Goes with ham. Or anything you fancy.

Since I had all the ingredients in the house, the split peas, onion, carrot being the main players, I put the peas in to soak all day and cooked last night. Didn't have bay leaves, so I used the Indian equivalent, curry leaves. Butter, seasalt, vinegar, didn't have malt, used apple cider. Malt vinegar in the US is an exotic, found on the foreign, expensive, shelves.

So here's the doings, simmering till tender, about an hour and a half. Then the carrots, onions and curry leaves fished out, blended to almost smooth, add salt, pepper, vinegar, beat in a bit of butter. Done.

I had a slice for breakfast, heated and a fried egg resting on top. Nice plain relief from party foods. Some people like to use it like hummus, so I guess it's Yorkshire hummus. It's one of those foods that improve over days.

About curry leaves: they are flavorful, not hot at all, great in vegetarian cooking, nothing to do with what we call curry. The name is confusing. I just use them where I'd use bay leaf.

You can also grind split peas in your coffee grinder, to make flour. It's fun, though the noise alarms the neighbors.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

New year's resolution put into practice

Since I have basically given up on hoping for self improvement, I decided again to improve my surroundings, instead.

First of the month, fresh flowers. I was waylaid by the little primrose plant cunningly displayed near the flowers.