Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Dinner ahoy!

Handsome Son is coming to dinner tonight, and this usually fires up a frenzy of cooking. Usually my own dinners for a couple of days are included in the frenzy.

As here: chicken thighs and hot Italian sausage, to be roasted, with white potatoes and carrots in a bed of Parmigian shreds, seasoned with cayenne and seasalt.

And a banana/date/apple/chocolate bread with whole-wheat and almond flour. Note the missing slice, cook's privilege.

Pot of tea, too. Worth coming over for!

Saturday, February 23, 2019

The tiny greenhouse brings news

Remember the tiny greenhouse I put out hopefully weeks ago, before several cold snaps, ice and snow?

Checked just now and there were a lot of tiny seedlings starting, most too small for my modest camera. This is the biggest.

The excitement of it all!

Friday, February 22, 2019

Grocery shopping or partying?

Made a simple trip to the Asian grocery this morning, Friday best, because stocking is happening but few shoppers. Usually.

Today I coincided with a huge crowd of seniors, three buses showed up to collect them later.  So the place was a cheerful madhouse. And it explained why there were no carts outside.

Pic taken once the crowd thinned enough for me to get into my bag and find my phone.

I couldn't leave because I was totally hemmed in by carts as people tried to wait in line in a space design for a lot fewer. I had to lug a basket because every cart was in use. A kind man indicated in sign language that I was to put my basket, now heavy, into his cart and we queued together.

A young man from the prepared food counter ran a cup of soup out to a lady in line, loud joy ensued, discussion of, I guess, soup broke out.

Several people chatted with me evidently assuming I spoke Mandarin, maybe because I was shopping in their crowd. Nodding and smiling worked, and I could guess the gist.

So what started as a swift errand turned into an interesting morning. Took fifteen minutes to shop, an hour to leave!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Lunch, with garlic spread

Today's lunch, roast chicken breast seasoned with cayenne and turmeric, seasalt, on wheat, oat and almond bread.

With the rest of that garlic spread I roasted ages ago and have kept in the fridge in a jar, tightly lidded. This is mainly to let you know the garlic held up fine. It makes a great spread.

I'd roasted it in olive oil in a small pan at 400 f for about an hour if I remember correctly, anyway till soft enough to spread. I wasn't sure how long it would keep, but the answer seems to be : ages!

Upstairs, downstairs, a saga

These lovely cutwork valances have finally made it to the windows.

Around here I give the orders, a la Upstairs, and execute them, a la Downstairs. As do most of us. And when the project involves both upstairs and downstairs, it takes deliberation.

Upstairs window

Downstairs window

Several years ago these lovely cotton cutworked pieces came into my life and I can't remember how. I probably rescued them.

Then Mrs Downstairs put them in the linen closet to await the right mood. Clean but scrunched up. Like Mrs D.

Years later, in thelinen closet, winnowing out the extra sheets and blankets to donate, Mrs Upstairs found them and  carried them up to the studio, where the iron lives, found the starch, even, and awaited Mrs D's pleasure. The iron and starch are there for art making purposes, but could be borrowed.

In the fullness of time,  Mrs D found a spring tension rod that fitted, ironed and starched one valance, and climbed up and fought the kitchen curtains, hanging plants and island to a standstill, got the valance installed, caught it when it jumped out of the window frame, reinstalled it, then went to lie down quietly for a few minutes.

Mrs U approved all these moves, and went on to find that the second valance for the window one floor up, needed  another rod. Ordered same, after mulling for a few weeks. Needed to recover the intrepid frame of mind for confronting window frames.

Today the rod arrived. The little screw and washer separate in the packing material, clever little miniature paper with instructions not explaining relations of components. Figured out.

Sent Mrs D up to starch and iron, promising this will never be repeated. Then Mrs. D climbed up through and among the plants in the upstairs room, the Nook. Installed the valance, glared at it to make it stay, made a getaway before it jumped out.

And Mesdames U and D take a bow, reminding you that you're not the only lady who keeps on having better things to do than iron and hang stuff. Years of better things.

But it does look nice, and it honors cutwork.

So there's that.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Quick before they vanish

Yet another snowstorm forecast today. In case this one, unlike the last two, arrives, here are the brave little snowdrops before they get buried.

These are the originals, growing for many years. The batch I planted a couple of years ago yielded one flower. Possibly chipmunks ate the bulbs.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Modom's tray. On its way.

Breakfast tray with newbaked bread. Egg on top not fried, not scrambled, a hybrid version.

The bread is the point here, since I changed the recipe a bit. Of the seven and a half cups of flour, 1.5 was oat flour, one was almond flour, the rest wholewheat.

Result is really good. Nice crust, dense crumb, great flavor. I made the oat and almond flour in the coffee grinder.

I like to look organized, but in fact I noticed the flours in the freezer as I was in search of the wholewheat, and thought I'd use them up. Must note this for future reference. 

If you try it please let me know how it goes.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Apple, raisin, banana bread, with redactions

Since Handsome Son is dropping by later for a cup of tea, and there wasn't a crumb of cake in the place, I jettisoned my plan to bake risen bread, and made a bready sort of thing, with bananas, raisins and a hefty amount of tart apple chunks from the freezer, using whole-wheat flour.

The recipe involves melting and cooling butter, which I do in the microwave. Usually I remember to take it out and add it to the batter.

It wasn't till later, cake baked and cooling that I noticed the flashing signal telling me to retrieve the dish of butter.

Interestingly, it seems to me that there's no difference from the times I've remembered the butter. I'm guessing because there was a ton of apple. It's still one of the better banana breads I've made. I gave it ten extra minutes in the oven  because of the apple. What's the function of the butter, then? I ask the expert bakers who read here.

I'll get Handsome Son's verdict later.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

There is a Golden Guide about mosses and lichens

And I tracked it down and here it is

Evidently this title is what I should have intuited. Can't think why I didn't search in terms of what mosses etc aren't!

Exactly what I needed, just enough info to inform, not stultify. Now I need the snow to go away so I can moss hunt. And identify lichens.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

More about natural life and observation

I did find a small book on mosses and other plants, and it's on its way.

Meanwhile, here's a wonderful book about Maria Merian, a seventeenth century self taught naturalist, great illustrator and intrepid woman.

A wonderful painter as well as a fine scientist before that word was invented, and a true naturalist who traveled to find and study species of insects, her knowledgeable artwork would influence Linnaeus, and later Audubon.

I've always turned to books written for children when I need an introduction to a subject. This book is for everyone. A beautiful  production, written respectfully, I really recommend it. And not a bad gift idea  if you know a young girl who is interested in science, and in art.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Finally out in field and fen!

Yesterday was warm enough for spring, and for walking without setting your face against the wind.

So I went down to the pond, which nowadays has a posh park name, and heard birds starting up, early, still ice on the water, but cheerful.

Reminder of the, ahem, historic nature of the place, so this counts as research, not just goofing off in the sun.

Sadly, the original residents, the Lenni Lenapi, were driven away long ago, commemorated here only by the name of the trail, and by local finds of clay lamps and arrowheads.

Looking at this whole small world of mosses, and wishing I knew more about them. Is there a Little Golden Book of Mosses and Lichens?

Home again, so long since I've been here.