Tuesday, May 26, 2015

East meets West on my table

Perfect early summer supper.  




Asparagus, growing in the field this morning, steamed and on my plate this evening.  Dipping sauce made from a mixture of plain yogurt, sour cream, using up what's left actually, and a spoonful of mayonnaise.  And after I tasted, I decided it needed a little something, and added a pinch of baharat, that wonderful spice mixture I made recently.  I really recommend this one.  Just lovely.  Nice glass of wine with, of course.

I think I might share pinches of baharat with my Bite Club next month. Aside from anything I might cook.

True confessions: despite my very modest income and froogle ways, there are times when you just need to buy something.  And when I found I'd used up all my collection of bookmarks marking items in Jerusalem and now Plenty, same authors, I decided I needed to own these two books. So they're on their way. Then I can write in them.  Even scanning and printing was going to mean many pages, silly really, better just buy the book and let them have their royalty.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sunday Morning

At this time of year the birds are awake so early, busy nesting a bit late this year, and the songs were deafening so I was up early, serenaded by Carolina wrens, mourning doves, cardinals, and mockingbirds plus a pair of catbirds, all shouting this is MY place, no this is MY place..

So, it was clearly time to make a little something.  The bag of hot chili peppers was still awaiting prep, after I'd used just a couple in the earlier cooking.  



They were so beautiful that I had to take pix, before




 and in process.  In fact I think the picture of the whole peppers should maybe be in Art the Beautiful blog.  The seeds are saved for use over spaghetti sauce, and the main peppers are now cut into strips and the whole lot is in the freezer.

Yesterday I realized how blunt my good knives are and I hate to sharpen, it's the noise I don't like, but I steeled myself, pun intended and did the sharpening, what a contrast with the bluntness before. 

I have a high end sharpening appliance, which I gave to Handsome Partner many years ago, and eventually inherited, since I don't have the steel skills required to do it the manual way.  Nor do I have the back step my mom used to sharpen her knife on, with a few expert swipes back and forth.  I noticed a knife sharpening booth at the farmer's market yesterday, which reminded me it was high time.

Banana bread was also on the to do list, since the bunches were big this week and I wanted to use them a bit faster.  And homemade cheese, paneer, with an experiment of chives.




I found that the flowers are indeed edible, as I thought, and picked a few for the cheese, and snipped their stems, too.  I found that each part of the flower is like a bell.  In fact the structure looks very much like bluebells.  Taste like onion, of course.  Here's the lemon juice waiting for the milk in the foreground to almost boil before I add it to curdle the milk and make the cheese.

So while the banana bread, crushed walnuts added, was baking, I made the cream cheese,  and added the chives on top to the finished cheese, aka paneer.  


 Here it is, with the banana bread cooling in the foreground.


 The paneer is almost too pretty to eat, but I'll force myself. You can put salt, if you like, and some people like to sweeten it as a dessert, but I think onion is good, too.  If you use whole milk you get a lot more cheese, since it's the curds that create the cheese, and duh, whole milk has more.  The whey is now in the freezer ready for soup.

Later on I'll have a snack of figs stuffed with this cheese, left from the great Roasted Sweet Potato caper.  Beside a slice of banana bread. Nice contrasts of sweet and savory. Outside, if the weather decides to warm up that much. I find that soaking the figs in boiling water is pretty good, not as good as ripe figs in season but they aren't in season right now.

I left a helping of the Sweet Potato and Figs dish across the street for my friends to come home to, and they were mad for it.  In fact she came over yesterday and took pix of the Jerusalem book and the recipe, to try out for herself.  While bringing me a little dessert she'd made, pineapple slice with homemade cream cheese on.  That's what reminded me I had the milk for the cheese in the house.

So at this point, the Bite Club has extended its reach to Ontario and the Indian community in this region! who knew..

And she came bearing two huge bags of clothing for freecycling, by previous arrangement, having forced her husband and daughter to start offloading some of their collection of never worn clothes. 

I do the freecycling because it's easier for me and I know the routine. There's one wrap that's going to be mine in there...also by arrangement.  In the summer I usually take a wrap or something with me to other people's houses and buildings, because they're kept so much colder than my own. So I have a little collection.

Meanwhile, the weekend is a good time to offer freecycle items, when people are free to pick up.

And it's still only midmorning where I am.  I think I'll sit down for a minute.  This afternoon, since my group plein air was cancelled, I'm off to do some plein drawing on my own account, once I decide where.  Beautiful bright weather, not too hot for sitting out and drawing, maybe a bit of caran d'ache,  too, I'll see how I feel.

Then a bit of stitching to come later, and a few more Dorset buttons are in the wings waiting to be made, after Ginny H., great stitcher friend, gave me from her late mother AND grandmother's stashes!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Farmer's Market Open! happy campers everywhere 6WS






So today was an expedition to the West Windsor, i.e. local, Farmer's Market, which takes place right next to the train station every Saturday morning till Fall.  

Small but wonderful, with everything from yak meat to farm fresh eggs to NJ wines, mushrooms (well, those are from Kennet Square, PA, famous mushroom region) quails, all kinds of plants and edible greens, fresh baked bread and pastries.  And loud music, alas, why do they think this fits, but it did amuse a few kids.  


I went in search of good eggs, figuring since I'm frugal in so many ways, why on earth not buy really good eggs, instead of cheapies, and give the chickens a break, too, by getting them from a farm where I know they run outdoors and peck and do what hens do.

Anyway, here's a brief guided tour:



Dog waiting patiently till his humans get their fresh squeezed juice.

 
If you collect NJ pottery, you'll be familiar with the Fulper name, very old one around these parts

 


Foreign mushrooms!  all the way from Kennett Square, must be all of an hour away

 

Here are handwoven alpaca rugs, along with yak meat, and all kinds of alpaca yarns

 


And here's my haul:  lovely fresh eggs from the Quail Farm, along with their own chicken sausage made with Italian spices and broccoli rabe, and info on the wine people and other farms local to here. i can get good fresh chickens from Quail Farm, too, I find, as well as quail, which are not on my menu! Everything is within maybe a half hour's run.

I know the Quail Farm well, since one of my beloved petcare clients, Sweetheart, the giant black Great Dane, big even for a Dane, retired showdog and mother of many champions, lived in one of the properties.  I used to stay up there with her when the owners were traveling, they being in the advertising biz, and on the move. 

There's nothing as safe as the feeling of walking out alone at night in the country, under the stars and under the protection of a dog who's twice as big as you are, and devotedly protective.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Jerusalem, food comes chez Liz!

Glad I live near an Asian store, since I was able to get a lot of the ingredients I needed for today's adventure with Jerusalem in one short trip.

So, today I made Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Figs, and a Kohlrabi Salad with watercress and other items.

Here are the makings of the kolhrabi salad, and the eventual product   




The little heap of minced mints on the small cutting board came from my patio, and since they didn't specify which mint in the book, I used both spearmint and peppermint.

And here's the roasted sweet potatoes, which made enough for two serving dishes.  




 I didn't have sumac, and nor did the Asian store, as far as I could search, so I skipped that bit.  But I made a wonderful balsamic vinegar and sugar reduction, using a fig and walnut balsamic which I had about me from a friend who couldn't use it.  That's what you see drizzled over the dish. 

And for once I was able to use my tiny copper bottomed pan, holds about one cup, worked fine for this small quantity, usually just sits on the stove looking cute.  And no fresh figs available, so I used dried figs which I steeped in boiling water for a while to soften them, and they worked fine.

That's at least a couple of days' food for me and a helping for my friends across the street.

And here's today's lunch, and it was very good, I can tell you!



 I often roast sweet potatoes and white potatoes, and this is such an interesting turn on it, more steps, but it was fun to make anyway.  And it did involve three full loads of dishes in the sink!  but since some of the utensils were needed instantly, I washed more or less as I went.




Jerusalem, an education as well as a cookbook

The Bite Club this week introduced us to Ottolenghi and Tamimi, whose cookbook Jerusalem I've started on, with two others on reserve at the library.

What a contrast to the boredom of the last cookbook.  This one is full of life and history and the sort of food I really want to make, many spices, wonderful history of the culture and conflicts in both the city and the food.  Written by an Arab and a Jew, both of whom grew up in Jerusalem, in different quarters, could be different planets, but both of whom have a great interest in the cultural and historical significance of food, not to mention its politics. And the book has a kind of padded cover, which lends an air of friendliness and importance, at the same time.

This morning, I used my early morning hour (had to be up and about to take one med, then wait half an hour to take the other, then another half hour before I can eat anything, this is a real hardship! only once a week, so I try to use the time in some way) anyway, I used that hour to do something interesting other than feel hungry and sorry for myself.






So I made Baharat, a spice mixture, for use over the next few weeks in whatever strikes my fancy.  



The smells as I ground all the spices together in my trusty coffee grinder, and the resulting warm and amazing blend, now in a jar in the fridge, were just exciting. I didn't have cardamom, but I think it's still great anyway. If I get some, haven't had it in the house in years, since my serious curry making days, I'll just grind and add it in, I think.

And I already have plans for a roasted sweet potato and fruit dish, which I think I'll do today.  And a kohlrabi salad.  I was introduced to kohlrabi decades ago, in student days in northwestern England, when I rented a room at the top of an old house with a big back yard. 
 
Another tenant had arranged to garden a section of it and Alan was always trying out new and exotic vegetables, including kohlrabi, which looks like it landed from outer space, but is crisp and very good in salads. You can cook it too, but I think I'd keep it raw.  And the Asian store routinely stocks it. So this is literally a return to my green and salad days, as well as a new recipe to me.

I had no idea that the history of food was so interesting before Diane, the doughty leader of the Bite Club and reference librarian as well as great cook, introduced a lot of ideas, beyond just making meals, to us all.  One of the nicest things I've done for myself in some time was to join.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

And in the Spring, it's all about asparagus

Here's some of yesterday's farmshare asparagus, steamed gently, and here served with lemon butter sauce at the left for dipping, capers because I have started really liking them, and the last of the quiche, still tasting good after being frozen.  And a ripe slice of melon, this one from the Asian produce department.




And considering I was only interrupted by the arrival of the chimney sweep and team, old friend Patt, who's been coming to my houses for years and years, was a friend of Handsome Partner, too, and was very complimentary about how I'm looking, so tactful,  and a couple of urgent visits from a neighbor, also a very peaceful and happy morning.

Puffick!

In the Spring, a Young Dove's Fancy..

Every Spring, the highest part of my patio fence becomes a prime dating scene in the mourning dove world.  This pair has been meeting here daily for a little while, and doing all the courtship dance and preening and chatting and mating.  





Their nest is elsewhere, I think, since they take off over the roof eventually. They're good neighbors as nesting goes, usually very quiet and calm, and having two eggs, from which two quiet babies hatch, and they don't panic if you look in gently.




And the lilac is blooming madly next door, filling my whole house with scent.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Farmshare 2015 Opening! and it's the centenary of the farm




 Around central NJ you know it's spring when there's fresh asparagus growing for the picking.  Way back when I had a large yard, I inherited from a previous owner a massive bed of asparagus, and was glad to pick, freeze and give. Now it's a bit harder to come by, some of the great asparagus farms being paved over and turned into shopping malls, sigh, but Stults still has them for us for the opening of the farmshare season.




Interesting bit of trivia about this farm, aside from its longevity as a family business, is that it's in two towns.  The boundary runs between their fields.  But you don't need a passport to move back and forward, as their tractors often do.

Joyful reunion with Jill, who is the mainstay of the picking organizing and selecting function, while her daughter does all the background organizing of the farmshare operation, in addition to running her own farm! Too dark for pix inside the barn where the farmshares are set up in bushel baskets on wagons.

And here's today's share: lovely asparagus right from the field, 





and half a dozen lettuce starts, now planted in a waiting container. 




This is an experiment, because I have a potato planted in there, too, and I want to try out the notion of having a root vegetable working along with surface salad greens.  I'd like to see if they conflict or if it works out.  In any case, the lettuce will be blown before the potato is ready to harvest.  At least that's the plan.

Monday, May 18, 2015

UFO please help identify

This cool wood object was found at a garage sale and given to me.  But what is it?  anyone know?  two views here, complete with ruler to show you the relative size of the sides and so on.



 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Smitten Kitchen, Final Drive By

So I finally found a recipe I was up for, in the SK, the Cranberry Crumb Bars.  Ever since KH wrote about bars as a requirement for church events, as in bars for bazaars, I always think of her in this context. Never heard of them before she wrote about them.Anyway, I made them, with the usual massive substitutions.

No cranberries, nor blueberries, her alternate, in the house, but I did have a couple of  cups of frozen mixed berries in the freezer, a cup short of what was needed, and with the addition of a fresh Granny Smith apple, cut small, was able to get the fruit part done, and I had all the spices she needed--cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove.  


No ap flour, so I used white wholewheat.  And I didn't have the big pan specified, so I divided the mixture between two glass pans, one 5 x 7 and the other 7 x 11 or thereabouts.  To my surprise they both took the same time to bake. I expected the smaller one to cook faster.



 Here's the bigger one, parchment lined, waiting to cool.  It's actually a neat rectangle, but the folds of the parchment make it look lopsided.




And here's the smaller one, with a bar cut out so you can see how the fruit filling works, and so I could sample one with my afternoon tea.  It's a kind of sandwich, with half the crumb mixture in first, then the filling, then the rest of the crumb mix.  I complicated things by not having the right pan, so I was guessing how much filling to put in first and after, but not a problem.

And in fact they turned out okay.  As usual, they look a bit more rustic than your fancy magazine food pix, but this is a mark of home cooking and home photography!

The fruit filling is just fine.  This is the kind of recipe you can put any old fruit in, I expect, and it seems any old flour, too.  But the lengthy cutting of the butter and egg into the flour with a fork and then two knives, made me wonder, if I ever make this again, if I should get a pastry cutter. I used to do this with my fingertips but I'm not up for that now.

This is one other small cavil: she uses a food processor a lot, and I don't have one. This makes some recipes impossible, such as her lemon bars, where you reduce sliced fresh lemon to pulp, that kind of thing.  Nice if you have it, but I appreciate the occasional note explaining what the hand equivalent, if any, would be. 

So I've done my bit for the cookbook bookclub meeting on Tuesday evening.  I'll take the bigger pan along, quite a few people to get a taste and pass judgment.

Postscript on the mushroom crust quiche: as promised, I froze some slices, and today heated one up for lunch, and found the flavor was just great.  The cheese was a bit chewier but still fine. So now I know I can freeze it with no aftereffects.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Follow Me! Shop at the Dumpster! 6WS

Well, shopping at the dumpster is a metaphor for acquiring, bartering and otherwise becoming the custodian of, items that improve your life and the life of the person who shed them!

To wit: my living room, which is almost exclusively equipped with freecycle gifts, dumpster finds, larcenous cuttings to make wonderful houseplants, rescues, handmade items (Jean, see the tissue box on the table, the one I learned on before making yours)  and one or two actual purchases. And that's only one room.  Much more elsewhere.

The main furniture pieces sofabed and loveseat, were bought secondhand thirty years ago, and are covered in various fabrics and rugs depending on the season and mood.  The loveseat also has a stack of blankets and rugs under the cushions to store them and make it softer to sit on.  And it's been passed around father to mom to son to mom over the years depending on who needs it.




The current covering of all the big pieces is various parts of a complete bedding set, new in package, from a friend who couldn't use it. I like the shabby chic effect!



 The pillows I knitted from freecycled novelty yarn, or made from linen napkins from Target, which I stuffed with less good looking pillows. The crocheted items on various tables are rescued and are beautiful handmade artworks from two generations ago, after the family had taken all they could use and needed a good home for the rest.




The coffee table, a mission oak style beauty, with two drawers and porcelain knobs, was found in a parking lot after somebody moved out and jettisoned a lot of items.  



The recliner in the corner was the gift of a friend, fourth hand, for my napping comfort when I was taking care of Handsome Partner in his last couple of years.  It's my birdwatching and breakfast and meditation corner.






The begonias, two of them sharing a pot, are fifteen years old and grown from cuttings taken from a friend's house.  It sits on a little table from the dumpster, artfully covered in a Greek embroidered cloth, gift of a friend as she downsized before moving. A lot of my plants are from cuttings or starts which I took from other plants, often in return for looking after the parent plant over the summer.

All the furniture you see on the patio, Adirondack chairs and pool loungers, came at no cost other than getting them here, one from an entire set being thrown away at a nearby development as they overhauled their pool area, the chairs from a deceased friend's porch since it was easier to get them here than anywhere else. All the outdoor furniture is considered community property -- if there's a party at my friend's next door, he knows to come borrow if he needs any.

And so it goes.  I give a lot, too, it's a two way street.  But, aside from fitting my very modest budget, it's also  a lot more fun than just shopping for new items.

The art is all mine, that big paper piece over the recliner the first big piece I ever made in that medium and exhibited.  At the time I had very limited artmaking space -- a galley kitchen, to be exact -- so I made it modular style and assembled it.  It has a whole array of techniques, since it was for a final exam in the papermaking course I was taking at the time, and worked out quite well.

This living room would not pass the Better Homes sniff test, but it is definitely the Suits Me living room.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Mushroom crust quiche, chez Liz, aka House of the Flying Substitutions

I've been mulling over the Smitten Kitchen cookbook, since that's the current cookbook bookclub selection, and finding little if anything to cook, largely because she's so annoying.  After I got past the title, since smitten is something that happens with ebola and measles, not food, I found her breathless oh, silly me, aren't I cute, style just, oh well.  Her pix are lovely, though.  Not that I get too serious and passionate about all this, noooooo..

However her assumptions are a bit more than I can deal with, when she talks about items without explaining what they are, in a lordly sort of I live in the Big City, we Have Things kind of way. Reminded me of a cook friend who years ago when I asked her what's pancetta, said, oh, you know, it's the Italian form of lardon!  unaware that I didn't know what that was either....So I'm sure the SK lady is not doing it to just annoy me, but one thing I did get out of it was an interest in shopping for mushrooms.

So around the periphery of the Asian store, great place for a mushroom hunt, I studied the many sorts of mushrooms and then checked my price range. I found a nice box of baby bellas which looked good, and hauled them home to see what I could do about them.

And ended up, after studying Moosewood and others, finding that my old tattered cookbook had an interesting recipe for Mushroom Crust Quiche.  I love quiche, and often can't be bothered to fix it, but this time I thought I would.

Here's where the substitutions came in, mainly because I was home before I studied the recipes and went with what I had: for cottage cheese, I used plain yogurt, for crushed crackers I used Panko, for paprika I used a bit of chili powder and red pepper flakes, for scallions I used diced yellow spanish onion.  And for the one kind of cheese I subbed the rest of a deli tray of mixed cheeses, Swiss, Pepper Jack, cheddar and one other not sure what.  But I did have mushrooms for the mushroom requirement.



And here's the process. Note the lovely butcher block style rolling island I got from the dumpster, here working sturdily away, and the various ingredients waiting their turn.

Long story short: it is wonderful!  the mushrooms you chop and cook in butter then stir in the panko or cracker crumbs.  




This is the crust which you sort of press into a pie pan. 









Then you cook the onions to soft, a little bit caramelized, not much, and they go on top of the crust.  



Cheese on top of all that, and the eggs and yogurt and pepper subs poured over.  Bake at 350 for officially 25 minutes, but this took ten minutes longer.  I had a moment of wondering, when it was still totally liquid after 25 minutes, but all was well in the end. And the ten minutes you wait after taking it out is vital for this one.




 And it was so worth making.  Amazing considering the number of changes I'd wrought on the ingredient list. The idea of using mushrooms as a crust is great, because it's a real depth of flavor, along with the various cheeses.  I think you do need an interesting mushroom rather than those little white buttons, though.  Bellas worked nicely.  Beat a pastry crust by a long chalk.


All in all, good stuff.  A bit fussy, but worth doing if you're in the mood. I'm going to try freezing helpings, too, and I'll let you know how that works.  Nice to have a quiche slice in the freezer for a day you don't feel like cooking it.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

New Homes, and Pots, for Old

I decided to do a few things I haven't been doing what with one thing and another, the main one being to repot the begonia, two varieties which have been patiently living together in harmony in the same pot for maybe fifteen years uncomplainingly.  Finally I found a bigger pot and the potting soil, and the trowel, and the plant, and got them all assembled at one time in one place. 


 
So here you see the divine Miss B. in her new home, in solitary state on her own table with her own ironed Greek embroidered cloth. Least I could do really.

Then pix of the fallen cherry blossom on the patio, looking like a snowfall after a heavy rain yesterday.  Lovely to come home to and find this snowlike scene.  I sat out in the evening with a little glass of prosecco and just enjoyed, especially since the watering had been done for me.  One very small drawback is that the house gets full of little green blossoms and I have to keep sweeping.  



But the houseplants are now outside, at camp for the summer, at least the ones that will fit, what with the more furniture and the less shade, Handsome Son's mother's day gift to me, the heavy lifting of moving them out and arranging them.  



My favorite kind of gardening, where I point and someone else works!  he also served me tea outdoors, complete with cookies he'd baked from his own recipes.

Then this morning, I thought before I lost my mojo I would finish the gardening, digging and transplanting for my friend across the street, texted her this a.m. to say I was planning to dig a daylily for her, okay to plant it, too?  instant happy affirmative response.  So I got to work, gosh it's hard lifting matted daylilies, but I did get a nice clump out for her, and you see here what used to be its home.  





The surrounding foliage have already practically filled it in, pragmatic folk.

Then I picked a new home for it across the street, and with any luck it will bloom this June for them, a Stella d'Oro, great big yellow flowers that last about six weeks, longer than most daylilies, something I like about them particularly.  



Then I was stunned when I got home to find a text of thanks saying it looked nice.  What?  she GoogleEarthed me? huh? satellite spying?? I thought she was safely in her Manhattan office at this time.  Then realized later she was at home probably hugely amused at my heavy labor in the yard! Duh.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Soup's Up! Last of the Season 6WS





Here's the soup I mentioned yesterday, now all cooked, blended and served with a big slice of artisanal home made bread (I call it artisanal when the crust is industrial strength and the crumb is open, it's lovely) with pepper jack cheese toasted on to it.  Great lunch.

My original request for a Mother's Day caper with my son was a hike on a nearby lovely place with a lake and views, followed by teatime at home with cookies baked by him.  

Change of plan, since I think it will be baking hot tomorrow.  I'm going to break it to him that I now want his help to move plants out of the house onto the patio, and then do the teatime etc.  We can have it out of doors, among the plants, even.  

Not so much room out there now, what with additional furniture and much less shade, but I'll get the biggest ones outside anyway.

This morning is about pulling pachysandra and digging iris to give to my neighbor across the street, the ones who got all the shrubs pulled out, and then showing them how to plant and care for them. City folk, literally don't know growing stuff but very happy to learn. I'll also identify what they already have out front, which include a nice rosebush already in bud, a little American holly and an azalea, which I hate, ghastly red color,  but it's not my yard! 

It cracks me up to be consider an expert gardener among my neighbors, but compared to people who literally know nothing at all, even how to wield a spade or fork or rake, I do come off well!

Friday, May 8, 2015

See, wheels!

On the principle of do a thing and the universe will get right back to you, I bought a large and heavy bag of potting soil to go with the annual supply of flowers and herbs, just one flat total, this is not a big deal.  However, when I lugged the bag of soil from the car to the house I realized that this part was indeed a big deal. So I remembered I had a nice little dolly in the car trunk from back in the day when I packed art supplies to teach workshops.

Got it out, remembered how to unfold it, and there was a handy way of trundling the soil through the house and out to the patio while saving my back a bit.

But the part about the universe getting back to you is that Quinn blogged this very day about this very thing, except the task she was doing didn't really lend itself to wheels. Considering it's about twenty years since I unearthed my dolly, and I'd done that before I read today's Comptonia entry, this is one of those arrows of coincidence that make you wonder.

Anyway, oops, here come the Ds.....well, we shoved her aside, quite enough from her, thank you, and though it took three of us we got all the doings safely on the patio
 


 Here we are, Dollivers on a dolly, except Blondie Firstborn thought it wasn't her style to be sitting about on heavy machinery, and she took up a place among the herbs.






and supervised while Boud filled  pots with soil ready to plant tomorrow with various flowers and herbs.  Seen here the pots some of them waiting for potting soil. She got Michael her brilliant handyman to build those cedar surround things so that her mismatched pots don't show and squirrels can't knock plants off the fence.


She got lavender, basil, oregano, parsley, tarragon, rosemary and who knows what else. Right now she's studying recipes which use  tarragon, that not being a common herb for her.

Amazingly, considering we did all the heavy lifting, after all that, she sat and read at least that's her story.  She was snoring quietly for a while, no pages turning that we could see. But we were nice, and didn't take any unflattering pix of her with wild cherry blossom falling off the tree overhead and into her open mouth...we waited till she woke and spluttered for a bit..great fun.

Bring me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses of veggies sadly remaining in the freezer..

So bring them, the very last of last year's farmshare, cucumbers, corn, and, with cheese whey, carrot water and cucumber water, together with cilantro, curry leaves, turmeric, black pepper and kosher salt, render them into the last soup of this season.


 
Just in time, too, since the new season opens next week.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Cinnamon

I finally got around to transforming my remaining sticks of cinnamon - from the Indian spice section, where the spices are fresher and much cheaper -- into powdered cinnamon to use in baking. This takes approximately 83 seconds to do, and it's amazing how long it's taken me to find the exact 83 seconds available to do it.

First I hit the bag with a hammer, I love hitting things, to reduce the sticks to splinters as you see here, in the coffee grinder.  





Pausing only to swoon at the wonderful scent that comes off cinnamon as you hammer it, I scooped the lot into my old, and I mean old, about forty years old





coffee grinder, and grind it until most of the racket has stopped, which usually tells you it's done.






Here's the resulting powder: fairly coarse grain, which is how I like to use it, not wanting a finer powder, but if I did I could have ground it a bit longer.

And the kitchen smells wonderful. One of the great bonuses of playing with your food is the smell that comes off garlic as you mince, or ginger as you peel and mince, or lemons as you zest, and here, off cinnamon as you hammer and grind. Oh, and that heavenly scent off fresh guava cut open.  Not to mention all the interesting verbs that get involved, too.  Now I have a fresh supply of cinnamon.  I do clean the grinder between batches, but I don't mind very much if a slight flavor from the previous batch gets into the next.

To date, this little grinder which cost me ten dollars all those years ago and is still going strong, has processed: coffee, cinnamon, almonds, walnuts, chickpeas, split peas, barley, oats and lentils. 

And it's a lot faster than the mill of the Almighty, come to think of it.  You know, the one that grinds slow, but exceeding fine..I do think of these Biblical ideas as I work on elemental forms of cooking.  Even if I'm using an electrical appliance in the process.

I like it when my shopping list is like that of a medieval peasant: wood, wine, boots, that kind of thing. Well, a pretty well off peasant, really.