Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A trip down memory lane!

This blogger. a writer and hillwalker, lives almost exactly where I did as a little kid, and in recent correspondence I mentioned that I climbed Roseberry Topping, local sort of mountain there, when I was three, with a lot of help. He promptly put it on his list of hillwalks to do soon, and here it is:

So take the tour.  That sweep of fields across to the hills with the Monument always in view, is permanently embedded in my memory, shows up all the time in my art even when I didn't plan it, and I have a watercolor of a similar scene, one I painted many years ago from memory, one of the earliest pieces I exhibited, at my teacher's urging.

I just ran up to take a quick pic of it, awkwardly from the side to avoid glare, and because it's halfway up my stairwell, can't step back from it, and here's a view, for once without the Monument!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Anonymous Apple Crumble

I made this this afternoon partly because I was in the mood for a bit of dessert, and partly because I had four huge apples still here and the farmshare coming up tomorrow, as well as bags of apple slices and chunks in two freezers -- one next door, and one here!  

And I'd already used a big bag of apple chunks in today's soup.  Which was very good -- buttercup squash, that is not a typo, no, I'd never heard of it before, either, apples, corn, used the water from steaming the squash, which was hard skinned, as the soup liquid.  And still had all these apples to go..

Sooooo, I leafed through my personal recipe book, where all sorts of cuttings and little cards and mysterious notes show up, and found this recipe I couldn't remember saving.  

I wondered a bit, since the oven temp they recommended seemed a bit low, even for a glass pan, and the time of baking seemed a bit short, and the amount of apples seemed inordinately large for the size of glass pan they recommended.  But anyway, who am I to judge, I wonder if the Pope does a good apple crumble, and I went ahead.

And found exactly what you might think.  Enough apple mixture (I had Granny Smiths and I think Cortlands, they were nice) of granulated sugar, lemon juice, to fill TWO dishes. 

The glass one in the foreground being the one they wanted filled.  And not quite enough crumble topping, good oatmeal, ap flour, butter, brown sugar,  to spread over two dishes.  But anyway I soldiered on, all good ingredients, you know.  And that was one reason I went ahead -- the recipe was specifying very good ingredients, which I happened to have on hand.

And I ended up baking for about 20 minutes longer than they said, and pushed up the oven temp, before it started to smell good.  It did taste fine.  But it didn't really get all lovely and brown and bubbly.  It's edible, not wonderful. 

Next time I'll go back to Martha's recipe for a similar item, which went down a treat a few weeks back.  And this anonymous one, cut from some magazine,  I noticed that there was no name on it, no origin, nada, now I know why, will be ceremonially removed from the book and recycled.  You'll notice I'm not giving the recipe, didn't want you to tumble down the same rabbit hole.  A pox on "recipe" writers who don't test the recipe.  Or proof it before going to print.

Meanwhile I now have a big anonymous crumble thing in the freezer and another one in operation in the fridge.  It can be a breakfast item, since it's not too sweet, one point in its favor. 

But, as they say, it's not a dessert you'd actually invite anyone to.  Not that this is a tragedy.  Says she bravely, lip quivering, after all that peeling and cutting and chopping and mixing and baking and rebaking and finally struggling to shove the second dish into the overloaded freezer under an avalanche of little odd shaped frozen packages.  And all the labor of tasting, too.  And having to have a second helping, to see whether it was better the second time..

Saturday, October 18, 2014

When in Doubt, Just Do Everything 6WS

For better or worse, this is how I've always been, though I'm being forced to narrow things down a bit as time goes on.  But there are so few things in life that are irrevocable, that it seems a pity to close off opportunities without even trying them.  

This means I've made some big mistakes, but in the end I've still been glad that even if the experience turned out to be negative, at least I knew how it turned out. Better than wondering what if. Some of the threads in the shawl of life are rough and bumpy.

A job I had long ago involved a lot of work with midlife women at crossroads in their personal and work lives, and they would be very surprised at the suggestion that they could just try several paths, instead of having to analyze and plan and get just the exactly right next step.  This is not what the books tell you.  But most of the books are written by academics who have little to no experience outside of academia.

You don't have to have all your ducks in a row!  they can be waddling all over the farmyard and it will still be okay. I often come across adult art students who want to know ahead of time how a process will come out, and they're a bit disappointed when I say, I don't know, just try it and find out!  And if it's different from their expectations, to deal with that and see what's good about it rather than lamenting the imagined work that didn't happen.

Years later people I worked with on job issues would come and tell me they'd actually followed my advice, to my amazement,  especially the bit about how you can't tell if you'll like a particular line of work until you've been in it a while. 

And they'd say, gosh that was great, I found I liked jobs I never thought I would.  Or they'd say well, I'm glad I had a Plan B, because that job I thought I'd love I just didn't.  But I knew it was okay and I could just try something else instead, no harm done.

Since we're the CEOs of our lives, it's a Good Thing TM Martha, now there's a person who's made mistakes and gone on, to have an exit strategy for any new venture, which might include a different adventure to get dear late Handsome Partner, a lifelong research chemist, used to ask me what I was going to be when I grew up. 

He'd seen me change direction completely in my work every few years, and always ready to change once I needed to move on. He imagined I was always in search of a lifelong job.  I explained that I was already grown up.  That this was how I was.  Life too short to just do one thing. It was fine.  And when he saw how I never lacked employment, which created new opportunities as I went,  in my whole life, he realized that this flexibility was actually a strength, not a lack of resolve!

Life's a banquet!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Chop wood, carry water, make mac et cheese avec un bon coup de broccoli

One of the nicest things about a residential workshop is that it's so restful!  you follow instructions all day, accept ready-organized materials, listen to your teacher, figure out how to do what the project needs, go and be fed when a bell rings,  all we had to do at mealtimes was choose and pick up our food.  The stitching we were doing was demanding, but when it's all you have to think of, it's a lot easier.

Years ago, when I was still able to play violin, I went away for a couple of years in succession to a week-long string players' sort of camp.  Every day was organized into rehearsals, sectionals, private lesson time, meals at set hours, concerts in the evening.  Not a single decision to make, outside of how best to play your part of the music and how not to play on the rests in an inadvertent solo. From eight a.m. to eleven p.m. all hours accounted for.

Just to give you the flavor of this kind of specialized event, one day I got a bit lost trying to find the room where my sectional was scheduled to rehearse, and asked a passing teacher.  Oh yes, well, go past where they're playing Pachelbel's Canon, make a right as soon as you hear the Verdi overture, and then straight on till just before the Vivaldi chamber group.  Yes. My people.

My son commented that it sounded awful, like school but more so, and was amazed when I said, nooooooo, it's restful.  So nice not to be in charge of anything but myself for a few days!  no running program, no teaching and organizing materials for workshops, no deciding on what to cook, nothing but take orders, it was lovely.

My couple of days' stitching workshop was equally great, for all the same reasons.  And now I'm home, and suddenly realized this evening I had to think about dinner.  Cooking it.  Thinking about what to cook then cooking it. Oh.

So I thought, well, I had a great mac and cheese while I was away, and why not do that, change from veggie stirfries and roasting etc. But I did put a handful of farm broccoli in with the macaroni.

So it's mac et cheese, avec le bon broccoli, chez Liz. No particular recipe here, just make a roux, whisk in the hot milk, stir in a bunch of sharp cheese and some mustard along with the kosher salt and the freshground white pepper, not black, it looks as if you dropped it on the floor if you grind black into it, and boil the brocc. in with the pasta. Into buttered dish, pour sauce over. Then 385F for about half an hour.  Bit of cheese grated over the top. Done.

Oh, and last evening right after I got home, a new rug arrived. So I spent the evening, instead of resting quietly after my stitching exertions, moving furniture in order to move the old green rug to the dining area, to make space for the new one in the living area where the old green one had been.

This entailed moving the table and chairs and the various stuff on the table, slide the old rug under all this and put back the furniture, and then unroll the new rug, this was exciting, it was fighting back, very big and unwieldy, and needed me to move the living area furniture and plants to accommodate it. 

All this was complicated by the insistence of the two cats in assisting, since they hadn't seen me for a couple of days and maybe I would run away again if they didn't keep an eye on me.

This rug, a bargain, in fact, at $50, good for a one person light traffic house, has been on my to do list for a couple of years until I got the spare $$ available.  I really like this, and it's good to have a rug under the dining table to rest my feet on.  The cats strongly disapprove of the new rug.  It's Different, and Smells Funny, and it's Here, in Our Living Room, it Should Go Away.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Fall sights and adventures

For the latest adventure with my stitching friends, go here.

Since it's harder for me to drive to Cape May the way I used to, to watch birds and walk and see the ocean, because of the distance and the wildness of the traffic nowadays, it occurs to me that this place might be my new getaway.Only and hour and a bit away.

You can arrange quite simply to go stay a couple of days, not expensive for full room and board, and complete with wonderful building, animals, labyrinth, friendly people, very safe and welcoming for a single woman, resident cat and dog, well, this might fill the bill.  And the chief nun in charge of hospitality already said, oh, just call me, we'll fix it up any time you want to come, always room for you.

I've been looking for a place of this kind, for a couple of days now and then, low stress to get to, affordable, and friendly. People to talk to when you want to, but they'll leave you alone when you need to, because so do they.  So this discovery might be yet another great thing my embroidery guild has done for me.

And for funny and nice sights nearer home, take a look:

Gary's Last Rose of Summer, next door on the truck waiting to be planted. Possibly waiting for me to get back from my adventures to help with the planting.  He assures me this is positively the last shrub he's buying.  Yeah. 

And marigolds in the front yard of neighbor and keen gardener Lakhshmi, with and without monarch butterfly, first monarch I've seen this year.  

Very few butterflies about this year, but many amphibians.  Go figure. Happy to see this one, though.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

The Constant, and Instant, Gardener Next Door

Gary, neighbor always plant and shrub shopping, and for whom I'm the lifetime consultant on things green, came over suddenly, it's always suddenly, this evening wanting an opinion on a newly planted tree or two, and to show me a pot he bought to house an old plant collection now outgrowing its original home.   No time like the present, says I, and we did the transplant surgery right away.

Then, ready to take a pic of its new appearance, he tidied and swept the patio where we did the transplant, to show it off in its new habitat, which I must say is a much better fit than the tiny container it came from.  So he recorded it from both angles, to show its new habitat to the owner via email.

All this took place under the eye of his guard dog, Appi, who is also his granddog.

The difficulty with giving plants, especially collections, as funeral offerings, is that the recipient not only has a nice reminder of the person, but has a longtime task of keeping it going and looking good.  

And when she moves away, as this recipient did, to where the plant could not come, my neighbor inherited it.  She checks up regularly and wants photographic evidence that it's flourishing, so he's nervous all the time about his lack of skill. 

I've been keeping it, and a lot of his other houseplants, happy, and finally said, well, would J., the mother of the person whose funeral this was for, like me simply to take custody?  we know each other, we've chatted gardens, and he came over today to do the transplanting and then, not before the transplant (!) to break it to me that she agrees and that it now lives under my guardianship.

It's found a sudden place on my staging upstairs, which involved a bit of juggling, since the whole thing was a surprise, but it's okay.

And while we were at it, we did a bit of work with his sweet potato plant relative whose name I forget, and I swiped a few cuttings while I was at it, in the name of pruning. 

Officially I do this to give him backup plants if the original one falters, but we both know that gardener's larceny is at work and they will be my plants, along with various other rescues.

So that was the sudden gardening that broke out, not exactly what I thought I'd be doing, but great fun all the same.  He commented that he can't resist when he sees plants needing a new which I said, no, I know,  if you don't have room, you'll find room, even if it's next door..

I can't say I object to all this nice greenery around the place, though.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Rainy cold weather, cold coming on, equals soup

I'd rather be stitching, but lunch was getting near, rainy and cold out there, I'm sneezing and maybe gettig a code, so I stopped stitching to turn to soup and bread making.

I made the hot biscuits originally from the Silver Palate book, but changed up so often that they would probably disown them at this point.  Instead of two cups ap flour, I used one cup ap, half cup oat flour, half cup lentil flour, tablespoonful sunflower seeds, and went with that.  It came out interesting, distinct flavor, not just background for soup, but okay for future reference.


Soup is sweet potato and eating apples, about three of each, I think. With the usual pepper, salt, much turmeric, sprig of curry leaves in, asparagus water for some of the liquid -- these ingredients also make quite a bit of liquid on their own.  Removed curry leaves then blended in the regular blender.

Tasted, once back in the original pot, hm, too sweet, too thick, added a half cup of plain yogurt, homemade, tasted, hm, still a bit thick, added in half a cup of skim milk,  hm, needs more tang still, blurt of lemon juice, better, but bit of edge needed, teaspoon of kosher salt. Ah, that's better.  Now it's soup.  Probably one that nobody but me would actually like, but well, unless you're planning to come over, not to worry about that.

Title: sweet potato apple soup avec lentil/oat hot biscuits.

I Keep On Thinking It's Tuesday 6WS

The title is the punchline of an old joke, the kind which definitely separates the People Who Get My Humor and the People Who Don't.  Not, as Seinfeld would say, that there's anything wrong with that!

But as I stagger and stumble and ponder my way through this life, I keep on coming across people who don't get what I'm talking about, and I'm learning that I don't have to educate them, even if they ask.  I can leave them alone.  They're fine as they are. Saves me a lot of angst and energy.  But it does make the people who do get things without explanation all the more important and treasured.

The joke? This is not a test, if you don't think it's funny, move right along....

So, two hippos in the wallows, enjoying the mud and splodging about, when one suddenly stops splodging, turns to the other  and says, You know, I keep on thinking it's Tuesday.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Oat flour pancake, the all purpose food

This morning's breakfast, since I was low on eggs, was an oatmeal flour pancake, with a honey drawing on the plate.

Then this evening, I diluted the same old pancake mix -- oat flour keeps developing and thickening as it goes -- and added it to a stirfry of red bell peppers, onions and little celery chunks, with a curry leaf and a big knob of homemade pesto, sorry don't know which, frozen hands couldn't get far enough in to see the label, and there was a cascade of frozen food falling all over me at the time.

Anyway, made the stirfry, which smelled wonderful, and added in a pancake's worth of batter to continue cooking, ending with a nice supper, remembering to remove the curry leaf before serving -- they work like bay leaves, give flavor, you remove them before eating since they're a bit tough.

Here with my ancient Lenox wineglass, all ready to go. My food stylist failed to report to work today, so this is Food Adequate, Tastes Good, Just Eat It.  It's a crepe aux veggies.  Serving for One. Avec vin tres ordinaire.

 And I'm starting to wonder what other uses this all-purpose pancake mix can turn to.  Clafouti, yes, I can see this appearing several times.  And there are lovely granny smith apple chunks and other apple stuff in the freezer, too, for an apple clafouti.

Gosh, they could send it to Mars with astronauts, they'd never run out, just dilute it when it gets low,  guys, it's good and it's gluten free! I can imagine how that would cheer them when they're trying to repair the extra terrestrial walkabout thing..

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Long Fall Walk, now that cool weather is back

I walk most days, and the distance varies with the weather and what I'm up for.  

This is one of my favorite ones, a couple of miles round trip up a walking path, back via the park, no backtracking, just a sort of flattened circle. And there are woods to one side, always interesting with birds and small animals.  

I haven't been up for this distance in a while, partly because of the heat, and partly because I was a bit tired from allergies.  So this was a nice return.

And it spurred me on to dig out my pedometer, find it needed a new battery, discover the backup I had was the wrong size, take a trip to the store,where it took two obliging employees to search their stock, then go online to check on equivalencies and finally find me the right one, which is now installed.

Handsome Son gave me this ped. years ago when I was interested in seeing what distances I actually walked, rather than setting a goal.  I was just interested in knowing how much of a walk I did in the half hour I usually spent.  Found it was a shade under two miles, not too bad, really, done regularly.  It certainly does a lot for my spirits.

One time I clipped it on during a working day caregiving and found that in this small house, I clocked over five miles in the course of a day's normal work of taking care of Handsome Partner.  Which certainly explained some of my tiredness at the end of the day. I still think pedometers should somehow account for climbing stairs, though!

Meanwhile, I wore it yesterday and put on about a mile from late morning till I went to bed, just sort of pottering about and processing farmshare veggies and a bit of shopping.  Interesting to know this stuff.  

Mine is a low tech ped., doesn't tell me the weather or my bp or the stock market or anything.  It tells me miles or steps, whichever I check in to.  It would do Km, but the highly advanced high tech USA is still plodding along on the old fashioned measurements.  So miles or steps it is.  Which is fine by me.  I like simple mechanisms, less to go wrong. Words to stitch on a pillow!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Blogging Around the World, Boud Does Her Bit

I was invited by Mary Anne of  here  to take part in the Around the World blogging project, which consists of being invited by a previous blogger, linking back to her, there you are, Magpie! and sending you on to other bloggers who have agreed to play, while answering various questions on my art, how I do it, why, and so on.  She is a wonderful crazy quilter and has many other stitching adventures going on at any time you check in there, is being published in an upcoming calendar of crazy quilting, and is a guest lecturer at quilting guilds. Browse her blog for a good read. Make a cup of tea first, you'll want to stay.

Here I have to say that this is not my art blog, this is my cooking, reading, grammar policing, nature watching, pet following, bloviating blog, into which my art life doesn't usually come, though my character dolls, the Dollivers, which I created and which then took on a life of their own do come, all the time!

So I would like to refer you over to Art, the Beautiful Metaphor,  here which is a play on words around the Soccer, the Beautiful Game meme,  to read my findings on this.  I already sneakily referred you to a wonderful blogging poet, at a couple of days ago, and my invitations to participate in the BAW were gracefully declined, people too modest to want spotlight despite their massive talents. 

Anyway, back at Field and Fen  I was browsing through Ina Garten in prep for my upcoming meeting of the Bite Club, and thought, hm, can I make something that I can take with me and serve at room temp as a sample.  So I made, or tried to, these Parmesan Crisps.

Now, I readily acknowledge that, block parmesan being way out of my budget, I subbed with grated parm and coarsely grated sharp cheddar, figuring that would help it hold together.

Followed the recipe very carefully, picked fresh thyme, crushed the black peppercorns in my pestle and mortar, all very elemental, and found that the crisps fell to crumbs even after cooling as instructed.  Couldn't be lifted off the parchment paper and onto a rack to cool further. So perhaps block, translation expensive, parmesan has different qualities that make it work, not blaming them, just reporting.  This may a place where you can't substitute.

So, since, as my Mom used to say, it's all good ingredients, I wondered how to rescue this mixture.

Which I did by adding a bit of split pea flour, some milk and an egg, and I made these nice croquettes, a couple of which are great to go with my sweet potato soup for lunch today.  A bit heavy on the salt for my taste, but they sauted up lovely and browned very obligingly for me.

So this is a kitchen rescue, I guess.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Rainy day. Saves my watering plants 6WS

You know how annoying it is to be around someone who insists on seeing the silver lining, especially of the troubles you're dealing with?  it occurred to me that when I said yesterday to someone sadly saying it was going to be a wet weekend, oh good, I shan't have to water the flowers, then, I probably was guilty of the same thing.

But to the lazy gardener, a bit of rain is a good thing. As is a lifetime membership in the grammar police which enables me to make a citizen's arrest of anyone who says "saves ME watering plants" when watering is a verbal noun, a gerund, which takes the possessive pronoun.  Yeah, I know. easier if you studied Latin, because in that language it's practically impossible to get it wrong. 

And don't get me on to "it is for Sam and I" when you would never say "it is for I"  very easy rule to figure out and follow.  Sam doesn't change the pronoun, giving him too much power there. Sigh, but most annoying is the misplaced and misused signs, as in the little sticky labels at the library on all the mag. covers.  They enjoin the reader not to "mark" or "write" on the magazine.  Evidently whoever wrote them is unaware that they are saying very nearly the opposite of what they meant.  That sign doesn't add emphasis, it adds a level of fantasy and deception!  since I don't have white out liquid with me at the libe, I just scrape at the label with a neurotic fingernail to remove the "s.  Thereby showing I'm pretty anxious about this stuff!  but in my own defense I do expect the library, more than most places, to have literate labels.

This six word Saturday motif is definitely releasing my inner demons.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Dollivers Do Their Civic Bit

The Dollivers have been getting very restless with all the activity in the kitchen, pointing out bitterly that they have been Ignored and Disrespected, and that while Boud has been fooling about wasting time on food, they have been Doing the Responsible Thing.

Which evidently consists of studying the mail in ballot which just arrived, well ahead of time for the November state election for the people we get to ship to Washington, to the national Senate and House, and various other positions, nearer home,  Lamplighter, Dogcatcher and so on.   

Refused access to the actual ballot on the grounds that it's a secret ballot, they pounced on the Public Questions and Blondie Firstborn noticed that one of them had to do with Arts Funding increases in the state.

They pointed out that Boud had better be in favor of that since they themselves are Artworks, and there might be outfits in it for them if the state loosens up some money around here.  

Hate to disillusion them, since it's important to encourage civic involvement, so here they are taking part in a rally to get out the vote, and especially to get out funding for Dollivers, since they need new stuff.  They have heard about fascinators lately, those little hat things with the feathers and veiling and really fancy them.

And we all encourage everyone with a vote, whenever the occasion arises where you live,  to use it thoughtfully, whether or not it brings new outfits for Dollivers, they didn't hear me say that bit.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Barley flour hot biscuits

Just fyi, I made a batch of hot biscuits using half home ground barley flour and half white wholewheat, with a shower of sunflower seeds in the mix.  I baked the dough in one large shape, then sliced it up with a pizza wheel to cool on a rack.

The original recipe was the hot biscuit recipe from The Silver Palate, which I recommend you take a look at. I've changed it over the years, to my own taste, using more olive oil to replace her canola oil plus vanilla essence, and changed up the sorts of flour I've used and so on.  And added in sunflower seeds or crushed walnuts.  And taken to baking the recipe in a big single piece then slicing it into squarish shapes.

But it's still a very good recipe, heart healthy and all that, which is probably why I originally tried it. And almost as fast as making a sandwich.

The barley flour has a very crunchy, sturdy texture and more powerful flavor than most flours, and very interesting with soup, which is largely how I use hot biscuits.  I expect you could put jam on, if that's your preference, for afternoon tea.  Or honey. Barley's a great nutritious food, good for your lungs among other things.

I love breads of all kinds, really can't manage without at least a slice for toast at breakfast, and maybe some croutons in soup, and sometimes toasted cheese on, for supper.  Good thing I don't have any gluten problems. And don't mind baking.

Also, making bread satisfies the baking need now and then, better for my health than cake, which would vanish all too soon, unless I force it on friends and neighbors, all of whom are on some diet or other.  

But even as I write I wonder if it would be nice to make a few lemon bars in the near future..after the apple turnovers are history, that is.  Not many people resist lemon bars, from Mary-Carol's recipe, handwritten on a little card now enshrined in my loose leaf personal recipe book.

Cooking's a bit like gardening that way, come to think of it.  I have recipes from Mary-Carol, from Marge, a long ago friend, from the long gone mother of another friend, from internet friends, all kinds of sources, just as you get slips and divisions of plants from all kinds of sources and they remind you of the giver.  My little food processor was a gift of another friend, Judy, and every time I use it she comes to mind.  

Or like art, where I use beads from another Judy, and Girija, and yarn from MaryAnn and Ash and other generous givers, and threads from many older women now not able to stitch any more, and ideas and teaching from friends in the embroiderers' group.  I honor them all by using their donated materials and ideas, too. I give back, too, and I think the recipients probably remember me when they use the materials, too.  At least that's the hope.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sweet potato and apple soup day

Today I had sweet potatoes to deal with in my farmshare, as well as a ton of other stuff.  Gave away two ears of corn, having enough corn in the freezer to see me through indefinitely, but I steamed and peeled and chunked the sweet potatoes last evening, and today used one of the giant apples in the farmshare for soup.

The apple was an eater, so it was fairly sweet, so, to offset the sweetness, I used a cup or so of yogurt whey from the freezer (from when I made yogurt cheese) and the tang is wonderful.  

Usual base of mucho olive oil,  garlic, onions, turmeric, fresh ground black pepper, kosher salt.  I like to cook all the spices in the oil along with the onion and garlic, to let the flavor out.  I learned this from an Indian cook, good way to deal with curry powder, too.

Then the apple in chunks, and the sweet potato, about three medium ones, and the liquid was asparagus water and other vegetable water from the freezer as well as the yogurt whey.  

I save the water I use to steam vegetables, for this purpose.  This time I avoided veggie water such as potato water or dark green veggie water,  that might discolor the nice golden effect of this soup, but in other soups, I wouldn't be concerned about color.

Let this all cook gently for about half an hour while I nipped across the street to confer about the proposed bathtub work with friend and neighbor who is not only a great contractor, and a good artist, but is a brilliant cook, too.  He makes his own ice cream.  And last fall when I was very sick, he ran over with wonderful homemade soup to restore my energy. 

So today we swapped recipes as well as catching up on the local news, too, and getting into preliminary chat about the bathtub.

Home again I blended the soup, and it came out very nicely. Here's the helping for lunch, awaiting croutons, just sizzling in the pan.

and here's the bowl complete with wholewheat/oat croutons, wish you could hear the sizzle as the croutons land! but you can also put a nice swirl of plain yogurt and I might do that with a future serving.

A seedless watermelon in the share, too, so dessert was a big bowl of watermelon chunks, no need to add anything to improve it. And it was eaten before I thought to make a pic, sorry.


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Postscript to the yogurt and roasted vegetables caper

Thought you'd like to see that the yogurt was great!  very pleased with the texture and tart taste.  Since I had the rest of the roast spicy vegetables today with mashed potato, and found that the spiciness had developed overnight to the state of four alarm, good thing about the potato, it called for a nice cooling dessert.

So a dish of homemade yogurt with pure honey and a big helping of crushed walnuts found itself on the menu. I put a spoon in so you can sort of experience the texture of the yogurt.  I'll probably be able to get another batch from the end of this batch, but after that may have to buy a bit of yogurt as a starter.  It gets weaker after a time or two, and you need a new boost of the active cultures.

Meanwhile, back at the development, never a dull moment as usual.  I caught a friend just as she left for the hospital for major surgery, and established that she has rides set up, and is going to stay with another friend when they spring her.  Also let her neighbor, another mutual friend, know, so she can check on her.  No privacy for C. at the moment! she was trying to sneak away, keep the drama down, but that didn't quite work out.

Then the pet crates came home again, having successfully got their occupants safely to the airport and to an overnight stay and back home again. Neighbor plans to crate train one of the dogs who whined the whole time, to see if he can get her used to it, since she has a long car journey in her near future.

But this was mid morning, and today started early for me. Woke about 4, couldn't continue sleeping, dang, so figured what the heck, the cats insist this is a great breakfast time, may as well get up and feed them and have some coffee.  

About 5, doorbell went, and it was a neighbor from across the street, very apologetic but as she said, I was up anyway (!) and her freezer had broken down overnight and could I house three bags of food for her.  

I explained I couldn't even house most of my own farmshare, sorry, and she trotted away up the street to another wakeful friend to see if she could get her food installed in her freezer.

Shortly after that, it seemed, the landscapers arrived with industrial strength tree cutting and chipping endless racket.

Home, quiet home..and farmshare this afternoon.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Yogurt returns to my kitchen

For the second time the Asian store was out of the yogurt I like, only had a bit of that Greek stuff, which tastes too much like candlewax for my taste.  So I heaved a sigh and pulled out the thermometer, and here's a home batch of yogurt in the making.

 Simple stuff: heat milk (I used lowfat here, since my usual skim doesn't make good yogurt) to 180F, see the thermometer clipped on, then move it off the heat, let it cool to 110F.  

Ladle some warm milk into your starter -- in this case the bit I had left of my previous yogurt -- and stir in thoroughly. Then pour the now warmed starter into the pot of milk. Stir to mix in.

The foil stuff you see there is one of those people warming blankets, never used for a person, but it seemed like a good idea for this purpose, because yogurt needs to be maintained at a low steady warmth for about 7 hours or more, and my stove would be too hot.

So I wrapped the lidded pot warmly in its foil blanket,  and set a timer for this evening, when it will go off and I'll be wondering wildly why, why, what have I forgotten, why are those bells chiming etc.  Then I'll finally remember the yogurt, pour it into smaller containers, and they'll go into the fridge overnight.  Tomorrow all being well, they'll be ready to eat. Or to make into yogurt cheese if I'm in the mood.

Another reason I didn't use the stove for the gentle warmth is that I was busy roasting veggies at that point, at 390F.  

Asparagus, red bell pepper and zucchini sticks, with tons of spicy stuff shaken over, 30 minutes roasting did it nicely.  With some left for tomorrow, to go with mashed potatoes.

Dessert was, what else, a tiny apple turnover. The turnover rate on these turnovers might be faster than planned.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Tiny Pies Redux, and Oblivious Squirrels

Ages ago I got on a wonton wrapper kick, and made all sorts of interesting things, from tiny pies to ravioli and dumplings and various other ideas.  Then I went on to make my own pasta, so the ravioli idea went away.

But I figured that since it's apple season, and I don't like eating raw apples, but don't mind them cooked, perhaps, since the farmshare is putting in massive apples each week, I'd better see what wonton wrappers will do.  

I'm not fond of making pastry. I make good pastry largely because I have naturally cool hands, always a help from Mother Nature.  But there are many things I'd rather be doing.

Sooooo, all round by China to say I did get a supply of wonton wrappers from my Asian store, and today made a little batch of Tiny Apple Turnovers.  Spells tat.  Oh.  Well, they actually taste pretty good. Seen here on an antique dish, figured it was time to try and make my food look nice, since I don't have a food stylist on staff.  I didn't count, but it's about a dozen and a half, if you need to know how many you'll end up with.

Filling: grated and chopped apple, one medium sized, oat flour mixed in to take up some of the juice, note the flour motif recurring throughout recipes these days, splash of lemon juice, drop of almond essence.  Wonton wrappers, edges brushed with water, you can use eggwash if you feel fancy, pressed firmly down, both sides, and  then stabbed with a big antique Russian fork.  Take that, and that!  You can stab them with anything else if you don't happen to have your big Russian antique fork handy right now.

And here they are, with a dusting of confectioner's sugar.  I expect in some kitchens there's a nice little gadget you use to dust stuff with sugar, but in mine you open the bag and shake.  These tiny turnovers are crisp, since the wonton wrappers are unleavened and thin.  I baked them so as to have a little something with my afternoon tea today, and several days going forward.

Meanwhile, out on the patio, demonstrating a great disregard for the work going on indoors, and an independence of needing tiny pies, an athletic squirrel is doing his calisthenics at the same time as getting a nice feast of wild cherries. 

He's welcome to them -- they're bitter and tiny and all pit.  But birds and squirrels and rabbits are crazy for them. I have to keep sweeping the windfalls, cherries, that is,  off the patio so they don't get trodden into the house.

Last minute Sunday lunch

Not inclined to rummage through the freezer and do a "real" recipe, so I made egg and chips and ketchup!  Very sophisticated version, but nonetheless..and it's one of those meals that don't look like one of those food designers organized it, much more tasty than it looks in this picture.  It's Food Adequate.

Took a baking potato, nuked it on high for three minutes, then sliced into big french fries, roasted with spritz of olive oil, kosher salt, fresh-ground black pepper, big pinch of curry powder, because I'm out of turmeric until I remember to buy some.  Roasted that for about half an hour at 390F.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, beat up an egg, drop of milk, big spoonful of green split pea flour, homemade, you remember the flour caper a few days ago, big chunk of home pesto, the one item that did come out of the freezer, black pepper, not much salt because I also put chunks of sharp cheddar which is salty enough.

This made a really nice cross between a pancake and an omelet, and had all kinds of different flavors happening in each bite.  Not too bad for a mad dash meal when I wasn't in the mood.

I did stop briefly in the middle to help a neighbor figure out his dog problem, how to get two dogs to Kennedy airport to see off his girlfriend, when his one big crate wouldn't fit in the smaller, gas-saving, car, thought he might have to leave them home and ask neighbors to take care of them.  Result of the discussion: my two pet taxi carriers are on their way to Kennedy with his pups. He hates to be separated from Bennie and Appie, and it's mutual, so everyone's happy.

Then back to the stove, and a nice lunch followed.

More DIY, well, more like Delegate it Yourself

For ages I've been wondering if it's possible to convert one of my current bathtubs to a walk in shower without major renovation.  I was musing with a friend ages ago if it would be possible to cut out a section of the current bathtub and put in an insert to seal the gap and make it watertight, so I could just step in.  She was very amused at what she took for a flight of fancy, and I didn't pursue it at that time.

But today, as I was looking through links about bathroom conversions, I found this, yay. 

And I've sent it to my lovely across the street friend, artist, and contractor, to see if we can work together on this.  This is another of my steps to Stay In This Home, just a safety feature I've started thinking about, it getting a bit more iffy to step over the side of the bathtub to shower.  

I'll still have one full bath, though.  And that's another part of my Big Plan.  If ever I need a person to stay with me, the Nook bedroom has its own full bathroom, great privacy, doors connecting and can be closed to the hallway, all that.  So this is just some longterm thinking.  I'll leave that bathtub as a full one, but convert the other bathtub, the one leading off my bedroom.

Anyway, as they say, that's the plan!  much cheaper and less disturbing than tearing out and replacing the bathtub itself. So here's where I ask if any blogistas have experience with this?  any precautions? additions?  the bathtub in question already has a grab bar installed years ago for Handsome Partner, and a portable shower stool, and a hand held shower, so that's all in place.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Italian American Festival 2014

When Handsome Son was much younger, our annual day together was the 4H show at the local county park.  Then he grew up and it moved to another location, and we were in urgent need of our annual funnel cake destination.  Last year at the same county park,  this was the Italian American festival and we liked it so much that we went back this year, and found it many times bigger.  I guess a lot of people liked it.

 Almost opening time

The food is a big event at any Italian activity, and there were a huge number of food vendors, mostly cooking on demand and ranging from old fashioned tomato pies (old Trenton doesn't say pizza!) to great cheesesteaks, which though they are a Philly food, are actually wonderful coming from Trenton. 

 Handsome Son patiently modeling for the photographer while planning lunch

And lemonade made from scratch, containing actual lemons.  And the funnel cake. We were too kneedeep in sauce and onions and pasta marinara and peppers and confectioner's sugar to chronicle our food odyssey, but take my word it was good.

Lovely day with crafts and a big set of terrifying rides, 

and a historical display indoors of Italian contributions to the culture

Trevi Fountain in fiberglass!  heh

 Posters of Italian productions

including newspaper clippings about homeboy Alito of the Supreme Court, a local boy, and many musicians and entertainers.  

The local live music was pretty good, too.

And there was bocce with keenly competitive games and players of all ages.  

If I ever have a team, that lady in the green blouse is my first pick.  killer bocce player.

 And the little girl in pink threw a mean ball, too.

And street signs brought from Chambersburg, The Burg in local parlance (Stephanie Plum's stomping grounds, you know?).

And food prep is a big deal in this event, with this great salesman chopping and shredding garlic and ginger and Parmesan and chocolate all over the place, the smells were wonderful.

Oh, and the barkers for the food vendors: where else can you get an announcement "Eggplant Parm to die for!  Eggplant so fresh it's still growing!"

And a huge crowd of happy well fed people in the hot sun and thankfully slumping down in the shade. And as the sun sinks slowly in the west, your photographer does likewise...