Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Soul Cake Recipe

1 cup butter, two sticks American
3 3/4 cups sifted flour
1 cup fine sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon allspice
2 eggs
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
4 -6 tablespoons milk
powdered sugar, to sprinkle on top

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Cut the butter into the flour with a pastry blender or a large fork.
Blend in the sugar, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and allspice; beat eggs, vinegar, and milk together.
Mix with the flour mixture until a stiff dough is formed.
Knead thoroughly and roll out 1/4-inch thick.
Cut into 3-inch rounds and place on greased baking sheets. Prick several times with a fork and bake for 20-25 minutes.
Sprinkle lightly with powdered sugar while still warm.


Soul Cake Song

A soul! a soul! a soul-cake!
Please good Missus, a soul-cake!
An apple, a pear, a plum or a cherry,
Any good thing to make us all merry,
One for Peter, two for Paul,
Three for Him who made us all.

God bless the master of this house,
The misteress also,
And all the little children
That round the table grow.
Likewise young men and maidens,
Your cattle and your store;
And all that dwell within your gates,
We wish you ten times more
A soul, etc.

Down into the cellar,
And see what you can find,
If your barrels are not empty,
We hope you will prove kind.
(We hope you will prove kind,
With your apples and strong beer,
And we'll come no more a-souling
Till this time next year.)
A soul, etc.

The lanes are very dirty,
My shoes are very thin,
I've got a little pocket
To put a penny in.
If you haven't got a penny
A ha'penny will do;
If you haven't got a ha'penny,
It's God bless you!
A soul, etc


Halloween. The full moon woke us up.

Our prayers go out to all of the folks who lost their lives friends neighbors homes cars and haunts in the big storm. We are grateful to the forecasters who were able to help to warn people by giving advanced notice, the governors for instructing, and the courageous first responders who rescued people, preventing an even worse disaster.

Today is All Hallows' Eve, or Halloween. The modern holiday comes from an age-old tradition honoring the supernatural blending of the world of the living and the world of the dead. Halloween is based on a Celtic holiday called Samhain. The festival marked the start of winter and the last stage of the harvest, the slaughtering of animals. It was believed that the dark of winter allowed the spirits of the dead to transgress the borders of death and haunt the living.

Eventually, Christian holidays developed at around the same time. During the Middle Ages, November 1 became known as All Saints' Day, or All Hallows' Day. The holiday honored all of the Christian saints and martyrs. Medieval religion taught that dead saints regularly interceded in the affairs of the living. On All Saints' Day, churches held masses for the dead and put bones of the saints on display. The night before this celebration of the holy dead became known as All Hallows' Eve. People baked soul cakes, which they would set outside their house for the poor. They also lit bonfires and set out lanterns carved out of turnips to keep the ghosts of the dead away.

-Writer's Almanac

Bananas to Replace Potatoes


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Black Bears Eat

Up to 85% of the black bear's diet consists of vegetation, though they tend to dig less than brown bears, eating far fewer roots, bulbs, corms and tubers than the latter species. Young shoots from trees and shrubs during the spring period are important to black bears emerging from hibernation, as they assist in rebuilding muscle and strengthening the skeleton and are often the only digestible foods available at that time. Berries, fruits, grasses, nuts and buds are often eaten. During this period, they may also raid the nut caches of squirrels. Black bears are fond of honey, and will gnaw through trees if hives are too deeply set into the trunks for them to reach them with their paws. Once the hive is breached, black bears will scrape the honeycombs together with their paws and eat them, regardless of stings from the bees.

The majority of the black bear's animal diet consists of insects such as bees, yellow-jackets, ants and their larvae. Black bears will fish for salmon during the night, as their black fur is easily spotted by salmon in the daytime. However, the white furred black bears of the islands of western Canada have a 30% greater success rate in catching salmon than their black furred counterparts. They will also prey on mule and white-tailed deer fawns in certain areas. In addition they have been recorded preying on elk calves in Idaho and moose calves in Alaska. Black bear predation on adult deer is rare but has been recorded. They may hunt prey as large as adult moose, by ambushing them. Black bears often drag their prey to cover, preferring to feed in seclusion and frequently begin feeding on the udder of lactating females, but generally prefer meat from the viscera. The skin of large prey is stripped back and turned inside out with the skeleton usually left largely intact. Unlike wolves and coyotes, black bears rarely scatter the remains of their kills. Vegetation around the carcass is usually matted down by black bears and their droppings are frequently found nearby. Black bears may attempt to cover remains of larger carcasses, though they do not do so with the same frequency as cougars and grizzly bears. They may climb up to bald eagle nests to eat the eggs or chicks. Black bears have been reported stealing deer and other animals from human hunters.

Hurricane Cows

Dairy farmer Fran Kenyon took Hurricane Sandy in stride.

"This ain't our first rodeo," said Kenyon of Meadowburg Farm in Richmond.

The farm had power to run its milking parlor Monday afternoon. Tuesday morning, Kenyon and his business partner, Rita Nuuttila, had completed milking 50 of their cows when the electricity went out. "The milk truck was on its way, and we had to finish," Nuuttila said.

"We only had five cows to go, so we hooked up the generator, and that did it," Kenyon said. "We've done this before."

-Providence Journal

Saturday Walk

The elks were cooking six turkeys outside today in upside down garbage cans over charcoal briquettes. I don't smell them cooking I said, but Lily did! Come over to this side they said. They were sitting in lawn chairs drinking plastic cups of draft beer next to their open tailgate blue pickup truck. I remember when you guys did this last year I said. This year the guys cooking were fewer and much friendlier.

The at the elderly high rise the gang of guys were sitting on the squeaky bench with picnic table swing smoking cigars, telling stories and laughing. I stopped with Lily to chat and Lily jumped putting her font paws in their laps instantly receiving a hug. They loved her!! She said hello to both sides of the bench walking gently sideways from left to right while the swing moved slowly. Doesn't the squeak drive you crazy I said? No we get used to it Roland said. Two of the guys had baseball caps that said navy seals. We were both navy seals, the first two in Woonsocket and we met after the war, the guy closest to me said. Which war I asked? Vietnam they answered in unison. One guy looked like the doorman at Emerald City in the wizard of oz at Emerald City. His nose had a perfect circle on the end and his glasses were very thick and tinted. I know them from walking by with my dogs. One guy showed me his recent purchase from the Salvation army. A potato masher with a red Bakelite handle "45 cents". I am so jealous I said. Do you like to cook I asked. Oh Yeah, he said. He is bony thin with tobacco stained teeth. He was smoking a cigar. I know him from his bicycle trips with his little black and white shaggy dog in the back kid carrier trailer. Potato mashers are the best way to make mashed potatoes, I said. Then the other navy seal said he had a gourmet restaurant years ago until his eyes started to go. We're the black sheep Roland said. He has a booming voice and is my favorite resident. Roland was a professional drummer in a swing band for decades, now he's in his 80's. He makes us dinner every week Roland said pointing to the potato masher man. I was ready to invite myself over.

Sunday was my favorite day of the week because dinner was all day and my grandparents would come from Brighton Beach and visit and my step father would tell stories all day at the table. When I got older I retreated to my studio in the basement which was under the dining room. I felt cozy being under the party especially on Thanksgiving.

Hurricane Soup

School is canceled and I will keep cooking and baking. As the storm approached I vacuumed my house and washed clothes while my dog and cat were following me feeling a bit worried. They feel the storm way ahead of us.

Made vat of beet greens and collards and Jamie's home made sausages soup it became a Chinese soup with sesame oil, garlic, water chestnuts, fresh garlic three bulbs thrown in unwrapped, fresh ginger grated, six whole hot chili. Tastes like naked dumplings. I might throw in some dumpling skins and call it a hurricane dumpling soup.

I've set bread to rise. Our neighborhood probably had no sleep - huge swaths of aluminum siding came loose and was flapping sounding like metal crushing all night.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Ken Hom's Oxtail Stew

I had the privilege of being hired to illustrate this amazing cookbook. I never found oxtails when I was shopping for visual reference material but yesterday I saw them in my local Price Rite and was tempted to finally make this.

from Ken Hom’s Easy Family Recipes from a Chinese-American Childhood; p. 212-213

Recipe Source: (Ken Hom's Easy Family Reci...
Prep time: 10 Min. Cook time: 240 Min. Serves: 4


3 lbs oxtails

2 Tbsp Peanut Oil

1 cup coarsely chopped onions

6 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 Tbsp salt

3 star anise

2 Tbsp hoisin sauce

2 Tbsp Light Soy Sauce

1 Tbsp dark soy sauce

2 Tbsp Shaoxing rice wine (or dry sherry)

2 Tbsp curry paste or powder

3 Tbsp crushed Chinese rock sugar or granulated sugar

2 tsp chili bean paste or sauce

1 tsp ground black pepper

6 cups chicken stock (or reduced-salt canned broth)

1 lb potatoes, peeled and cut into eighths

1 lb carrots, peeled and roll-cut


1 head iceberg lettuce, leaves separated


1) Plunge oxtails into salted boiling water and simmer them for 15 minutes. Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain well in a colander.

2) Heat a wok or large frying pan over high heat until it is hot. Swirl in the oil, and when it is very hot and slightly smoking, toss in the onions and garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute. Then dump in toe oxtails and continue to stir-fry for 2 minutes. Toss in the salt, star anise, hoisin, soy sauces, rice wine, curry, sugar, chili bean paste, and pepper and continue to stir-fry for 2 minutes.

3) Transfer the contents of the wok to a large casserole and add the stock. Bring the mixture to a simmer and continue simmering gently for 20 minutes, uncovered, skimming frequently. Then cover tightly and continue to simmer for 3 hours. Check for doneness (the meat should literally come off of the bones) and skim off any excess fat from the surface.

4) Dump in the vegetables, cover, and continue to simmer gently for another 35 minutes, or until both the vegetables and oxtails are very tender.

5) Blanch iceberg lettuce leaves in a large pot of boiling salted water for 1 minute, just until they are barely wilted. Lay the lettuce on a large platter, ladle the oxtail stew over the leaves, and serve at once.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Emily Dickinson's Recipe for Gingerbread:

1 quart flour, 1/2 cup butter, 1/2 cup cream, 1 tablespoon ginger, 1 teaspoon soda, 1 teaspoon salt, make up with molasses.

Instructions for today’s cooks:
Cream the butter and mix with lightly whipped cream. Sift dry ingredients together and combine with the other ingredients. (A little more than a cup of molasses is about right.) The dough is stiff and needs to be pressed into whatever pan you choose. A round or small square pan is suitable. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Dickinson family kept a basket on windowsill of the poet’s bedroom, where Emily Dickinson lowered gingerbread to her niece, nephews, and their friends.

-Emily Dickinson Museum Amherst MA


We stopped at the Warehouse Liquors to pick out a special six pack of beer for Bill's birthday and I overheard a guy at the checkout counter "You can't have campfires anymore with West Nile, Equine insephilitus and Lyme disease" I was sorry I didn't get a look at him or what he was buying. I was ensconced in the skyscrapers of beer.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Buttermilk Scone Improvisation

Here's the recipe below then I spontaneously added pumpkin puree, poppy seeds, raisins, more buttermilk and a touch more sugar. I used lemon zest like the recipe suggests. They are a jaundice yellow color but they're delicious.


For the Scones

3 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

6 ounces unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 cup buttermilk

For the Topping

1 tablespoon grated orange or lemon zest

2 ounces unsalted butter, melted, for brushing

1/4 cup sugar

4 tablespoons jam or jelly (optional)

4 tablespoons diced plump dried fruits, such as currants, raisins, apricots, or figs (optional)

Makes 12 triangular or 24 rolled scones

Position racks to divide oven into thirds and preheat to 425°F. Stir flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together with a fork. Add butter pieces and work it into the dry ingredients until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Pour in 1 cup buttermilk and the zest, and mix until ingredients are just moistened. If dough looks dry, add another tablespoon buttermilk. Gather dough into a ball, turn it onto a lightly floured work surface, and knead briefly. Cut dough in half.

To Make Triangular-Shaped Scones, roll one piece of dough into a 1/2-inch-thick circle that is 7 inches across. Brush the dough with half of the melted butter, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of sugar, and cut the circle into 6 triangles. Place the scones on an ungreased baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough.

To Make Rolled Scones, roll one piece of dough into a 12 inch long and 1/2 inch thick strip. Spread with half of the melted butter and dust with half of the sugar. Either spread the roll with jam or sprinkle it with dried fruits; leave a narrow border on a long edge bare. Roll the strip up from a long side like a jelly roll; pinch seam closed and turn seam side down. Cut the roll in half and cut each piece into six 1-inch-wide roll-ups. Place cut side down on an ungreased baking sheet, leaving a little space between each. Repeat with the remaining dough.
Bake scones 10 minutes or until both tops and bottoms are golden. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Marrow Monster

One of my vivid memories of childhood was my daily walk home for lunch from elementary school. My mother would often join me at the kitchen table and eat a bowl of soup with a bone. She'd bite the ends of bone with her teeth and suck out the marrow. I'd watch her with horror, like a giant eating her kill. She sat opposite me tearing apart the bones with her huge lip-sticked mouth and gigantic white teeth while I slowly took bites from my cream cheese and jelly sandwich.

William Deresiewicz

But what has happened is not that food has led to art, but that it has replaced it. Foodism has taken on the sociological characteristics of what used to be known — in the days of the rising postwar middle class, when Mortimer Adler was peddling the Great Books and Leonard Bernstein was on television — as culture. It is costly. It requires knowledge and connoisseurship, which are themselves costly to develop. It is a badge of membership in the higher classes, an ideal example of what Thorstein Veblen, the great social critic of the Gilded Age, called conspicuous consumption. It is a vehicle of status aspiration and competition, an ever-present occasion for snobbery, one-upmanship and social aggression.

- William Deresiewicz, NYT

Friday, October 26, 2012

Space Shot Pumpkin Pie

I whipped up a press-in whole wheat oil pie crust and hung my laundry on the clothesline while it was baking. When I came back inside,I smelled something burning. I had set the timer for five minutes but I forgot to wear my kitchen timer. I forgot completely that I was making pie a crust. Luckily it is still salvageable. I whipped up the pumpkin part and it is baking in the crust.

I often have the urge to run out when I am baking so I can re-enter my home experiencing the good smells.

I am glad I didn't run away because the pie was done earlier than planned. Now all of the timers are going off!

E.B. White

Remember that writing is translation, and the opus to be translated is yourself.
-E.B.White, The Story of Charlotte's Web, Michael Sims

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Swinging on the Trapeze

I have warped the bottoms of both of my pressure cookers turning them into rocking bowls by forgetting to add water. I was distracted by a visitor while cooking in my kitchen. So I have reverted to my mini cast iron pot and I wear my timer stop watch around my neck with two other timers placed on the stove hood and at the light switch on the top of the stairs at my office. I am a space shot. I avoid driving a car too because everything is visual and audio and too distracting. I always forget to look both ways when crossing the street too, but my dog often stops. I do wear bright yellow or red so I don't get hit.

I haven't cooked unhulled barley in a while but put I know I have a large half used bag at the bottom of my chest freezer. People have asked us many times if we are Mormons since we have so much grain stored in our cellar. No, I tell them. We were in a mail order food coop for many years and it was during our last recession.

Thanks for reminding me about barley! I rinse then put water in - I measure by placing my fingers flat and stopping when it's just past my knuckles and I add kosher salt and sometimes Adobo and a bloop of olive oil. That's my answer to cooking nearly everything! Maybe sauteed onions would jazz it up too. Perhaps I'll cook some and report back. maybe toasting it first in the oven would be cool. I have made my own Wheatena that way using wheat berries and it is so good.

I just ate a whole boule (half grapefruit sized) out of the oven with green pimento olives - they sell big jars of olives at price rite. We have what we call 'prime real estate' fridge space. There has to be enough space for rising bread, soup stock, milk, juice potato stock and all the crazy things I save in jam jars throughout the week.

Bill has accidentally added lemonade to a jar of broccoli water thinking it was leftover black tea. It wasn't bad he said. I just was expecting something different. I still laugh out loud thinking of it. I should keep masking tape handy and label things.

That reminds me of a childhood story . . .
My mother had the inside of the family refrigerator memorized. She would open the door, study the contents and shout "Who MOVED the tomato?"
We'd all be shaking in our boots. I did, I'd confess. She just needed to know, but she was furious.

I had the whole bookcase memorized in my childhood therapists office. Each week I'd be so bored I'd use the 60 minutes to tell him which book he moved and where it was the week before. For me it was like a game of concentration. My favorite card game. He'd write down what I was saying in three colors of ink (red, green, and blue) depending on the content.

Thank you again for pulling a letter out of me, I always need the metaphorical "eye contact" to write better. I need someone to catch my ankles as I swing out on the trapeze.

Elizabeth Kwak-Heffernan

Plastic meshy bags that hold onions, garlic, and the like can be scrunched into dish scrubbers.

-Elizabeth Kwak-Heffernan


Just in Case

My step-father used to love to get up early to make animal-shaped pancakes for us on Saturday mornings.

We loved it but my mother nixed this plan.

The kitchen was her domain.

Even when my father was grilling swordfish outdoors over charcoal briquettes on the flagstone patio

my mother would run inside and bake a turkey,

just in case.

Baking while Walking

I set up my sourdough to rise at as small boules and then baked them for 20 minutes while I walked Lily with my kitchen timer. The neighborhood kids were outside at the bus stop in front of the house, happy to greet Lily. I walked Oak Hill Avenue the 1/2 block dead-end lit up by the sun.

I almost forgot about the bread. I was in Bouley field when I looked at the timer, I realized I had 2 minutes to get home. The breads are fine they came out dark and crusty and sour and moist inside.

Tables, Tenements and Tchotchkes

There's something traumatic about having a dining table separate from the kitchen. I love the old fashioned farm kitchens with tables in the center. This is a big deal because I love to cook and feed and have the ability to jump up and grab the salt or pepper and offer hot helpings from the stove not to mention shew the cat off the kitchen counter.

A few years ago we turned the back office into a kitchen by sitting at our old enamel table in there. This room was frequently too cold and too hot depending on the season and overlooked a loud parking lot. I hung half curtains but then the little bathroom sink off the office broke and the ceiling sprung a leak and fell down so now it is closed until further notice.

Our friend who finds props for films gave us an old round oak table and we were overjoyed. We put it beside the couch and it has become our kitchen table. It's as close to our galley kitchen as we can be. We're seated against the big front windows. We have great light and a layer of shrubs protecting us from the street. We call our dining room table dinner theater because there's always lively dramas with multiple characters on the three layers of porches opposite us.

One day walking home with Lily, our neighbor was gracefully placing a candelabra on the sidewalk. She was moving in a slow motion dance. She is tall and gentle. I asked her if she was throwing it out. Yes, would you like it? It was from my mother in Canada, she said. I said Yes, thank you and we have become friends and the lovely Danish candelabra from Canada lives, lit nightly with white Sabbath candles on our round oak table.

Barack Baklava

Turkish pastry chef bakes Barack Obama into a baklava.

"Under the command of one chef with five assistants, it takes 10 days to make,” Gullu said. “In each piece of baklava there are 55 layers of pastry. It’s all handmade and is very hard. Obama’s big ears made it very difficult, but we managed."

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mashed Potatoes

I sliced and gouged the eyes out of all ten pounds of potatoes and then cubed them and steamed them in my army crock pot while I looped the 'hood with Lily. When my neighbor Thalia wanted to chat I said I've got potatoes boiling, I have to go home, and she understood. When I came back and they were perfectly done. I smashed some in a bowl with a fork and some Smart Margarine (opposed to stupid margarine) and fried a fresh egg that Jamie my mail lady gave me from her backyard free range chickens. The egg was so delicious and had a deep orange yolk. I am still wishing I could have my own Jersey cows a few chickens, sheep and goats and live walking distance from the city library and post office.

Corn Tortillas + Pepper Jack + Tomato Sauce

I just took my soft corn tortillas the ones we get from Price Rite and put slices of Pepper Jack cheese between them making round sandwiches. I microwaved them and then rolled them up and sliced them into pinwheel circles. Then I spooned my amazing tomato eggplant chic pea tomato sauce on top and warmed them. They were like Mexican raviolis. Delicious!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Peanut Butter and Pickle

I've made peanut butter and basil and peanut butter and red onion but now I will try peanut butter and pickle sandwich.

Audio Interruptus

Today the neighborhood landlord has hired his team of two men to toss large chunks of plywood from a garage into a trailer. The crashing noise, averages about every 10 seconds, makes me wince. I see some of the neighbors have left probably for the same reason. I don't know what I'd do without my fan which only works on speed two. It's just rattly enough to make a white noise that buries the audio interruptions.


The other day I said I hope we can turn on the heat this winter, or is that too hedonistic!

Bill laughed, nice pun. Heat-on-istic.

Life Imitates Dream

I dreamed of sewing an Elizabethan dress made of all denim.

When I stepped out of the house with Lily this morning there was a huge upholstered denim chair being thrown out on the corner of East School Street and Rathbun Street. I have never seen a denim chair.

Life imitates dream.


Having lived as a squatter for two years with no hot water or oven using only a hot plate to construct meals, I don't fall for the notion that the gizmos are necessary. That said, I have a love for all kitchen things especially antique apple peelers, meat grinders, toasters, enamel pots, all things cast iron, ladles and slotted spoons. There isn't a kitchen thing that I don't appreciate.

I wish I knew more interesting and adventurous people, eaters, willing to submit to our world for an evening.

The older I get the more strange our friends become. Control and comfort continually supersede adventure and daring. Oh well.

Make new friends.

I heard of a woman who set up tea at her table with her dog invited to drink from a teacup while sitting at the table with her.

That's where I'm headed!

Cook for a Crowd

Sometimes I cook as if I had ten children. This is one of those times. I am making my blue enamel cast iron vat of tomato eggplant pasta sauce with capers, chopped black olives, celery, and garlic. I just added few of Jamie's home made Italian sausages for added fat and flavor. The pot is already filled to the brim, simmering for the day.

I am an impulse buyer when I go to the produce section of Price Rite and I never leave without a few extra vegetables. I am not sorry because it's always a bargain and I can freeze things for those countless nights when I am uninspired and unmotivated about what to cook and eat. I must label the containers so I have an idea of whats in there because I never remember even when I am sure that I will.

I am always switching up the order and schedules of things in my life. Perhaps it's my ultimate freedom. It's also my version of travel. Lately I start my day like a trucker in an all night diner with black coffee and radio at the dark hour of 3 AM. A few hours later I'll enjoy eating dinner food for breakfast and lunch (leftover lasagna, chili, etc) and I like breakfast food for dinner (fried eggs or pancakes) because it's calming and soothing. I like fruits an apple or a banana with peanut butter or a mini peanut butter cup or Hob Nobs (from Job Lot) with black coffee as a snack.

I just washed 5 pounds of potatoes. They need their eyes taken out. They have been sitting on my kitchen counter for weeks, another impulse buy. I might make my 1979 Presto pressure cooker recipe for German potato salad (posted on this blog). I have some spinach that is asking to be used. We'll see. Maybe a pizza rustica or torte. Stay tuned.

Update: I washed and chopped the bag of fresh spinach and added it to the tomato sauce. It tasted overly acidic or maybe it was eggplant bitterness. I didn't have any cheap port wine to add as a sweetener and I didn't want to use sugar so I added the leftover chick pea liquid from yesterdays batch of cooked peas and it was the perfect sweetener, balancing the flavors. I spooned the sauce into a plastic container that I cooled in a tub of cold water. I added some of my cooked chick peas to the sauce. It is delicious. Maybe I will make some home rolled pasta noodles next.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Mannequin Hands

When I was in 5th grade I went to my friend Peggy's house after school. When we walked in I noticed the mantle had a pair of life-sized mannequin hands on either end. One was black and one was white.

"Those are my mother's hands, she's a hand model for mannequins." She said.

There were hands in various positions all over the house. They were ultra feminine with elongated fingers and tapered fingernails. Spooky!

Speaking of spooky my favorite part of Halloween was walking into people's foyers and experiencing the smells. The three elderly sisters on the corner had white hair and they had a very hot and stuffy house. They gave us non-parelles. What's a parelle?

My pal Pat and I walked everywhere and we got so much candy that we each filled our pillowcases full. Then we'd go to her house and inspect the candy at her kitchen table, under bright lights, hunting for needle holes and hidden razor blades. Her father was a police man. So she new of all the dangers.

I had to give away all of my candy except for a few candies. That was the rule; no candy, no comic books, no TV.

No being a kid.

Leftovers Reborn

I took my spaghetti casserole and added leftover kidney beans and put it in a clear glass Pyrex dish with fitted lid that we found in the kitchen when we moved in the house. I added layers of corn tortillas and slices of pepper jack cheese and heated it up. It became a Mexican-Italian marriage! So delicious, so musical. Another dinner arrived at by surprise.

Meanwhile my chick peas and squash are simmering and I added broccoli rabe (rapini). I stole some rapini out of the pot to eat with my Mexican-Italian lasagna. My sliced and salted and drained eggplant will become something tomorrow. I'm thinking an Italian eggplant tomato sauce spiced with hot Italian sausages. Stay tuned.

Always an Adventure

I cut the spaghetti squash in half to roast and surprise, it's not a spaghetti squash! Oh well. After salvaging the seeds (which I hope to roast) I threw the two yellow halves in with the simmering chick peas. Then I sliced and salted my big eggplant inside my huge colander and went for a walk with Lily while the eggplant sweat bitter juices. I am sweating too, on this sunny day. I am wearing my summer denim vest and light-weight cotton gray pin-striped Indian pants a friend gave me 26 years ago.

The way I cook is the way I paint. I never know where I am headed. I just make a move and then another. Lily kept pulling me to keep walking so we ended up at Turbesi park and then at Harris pond where she swam in the cold water.

The leaves have fallen near the pond changing the feel of the special swim spot. I nearly fell in slipping down the hill on acorns.

Our friends across the pond are selling their house and 20 acre horse farm. If I wasn't such an urbanite I'd start a Jersey cow dairy farm with goats and chickens too.

News Flash
It was spaghetti squash after all. It needed to cook to reveal it's spaghetti qualities.


Yesterday we walked to Price Rite with a shopping cart and Lily. I didn't want to drive because it was such a gorgeous day. It was a long trek, much longer than I realized. I was tired last night, good tired.

I had a strange dream about filling gasoline into a blue device the size of a fire extinguisher but flexible like a balloon. I didn't know how to make it work and was making a mess. I worried about anyone smoking a cigarette coming near me. I thought about hanging it in a tree to dry off, away from humans. A very cool band played music in my dream. They were sitting on the ground using a picnic blanket as a stage, laying back using bellows on their backs like knapsacks, pumping air. They were all incredibly muscular, built like Arnold Schwarzenegger but they were amazing and exotic sounding like Brave Combo.

I woke at 3:35 not getting up right away, still tired. When I got up I did the dishes and really got on a roll. I started tackling the grease on the stove and the hood while the coffee was brewing. I love the scent of our new green apple soap it's inspiring to me. I mopped the floor with it yesterday, for the first time in many years. Last night poor Lily leaked on her bed (our TV couch) so we cleaned that couch with green apple soap and and washed the quilt cover. We set up her dog bed beside ours instead. I do love having her near me. She cycles though a bladder leak phase a few times a year. Our vet knows about it. We usually catch it if she starts licking before a major spill especially if we are on the TV couch with her. Honey had the same issue. It's from over-drinking after enormous walks on warm days.

I made brown rice in the red cast iron enamel pot to have for later paired with the BBQ chicken pumpkin leftovers. I love having an inspired appetite, maybe because I love to cook and it is how I take care of myself but I also like to be healthy with good working muscles.

I love to wear aprons and vests. Just like muscles, they might be my form of armor. I am thinking of sewing a denim bra, and maybe denim slippers from old jeans scraps.

I might bake spaghetti squash tonight inspired by my pal Jamie who said she just made it the other day for her family. Meanwhile I am soaking chic peas. Chick peas serve as great mini vegetarian meatballs in tomato sauce.

I have too many unused potatoes. Must bake a scalloped potatoes casserole with local cream as soon as it's REALLY COLD.

Bill's birthday is Sunday.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Dr. Benjamin Spock

Children who grow up getting nutrition from plant foods rather than meats have a tremendous health advantage. They are less likely to develop weight problems, diabetes, high blood pressure and some forms of cancer.

All the time a person is a child he is both a child and learning to be a parent. After he becomes a parent he becomes predominantly a parent reliving childhood.

-Dr. Benjamin Spock

I Pledge My Allegiance to Public Radio

Dear Public Radio,
You are my life blood but I cannot send you money since at this time in my life, I have none. So I am sending out this love letter in the hopes that it might help. You are my lifeblood. My public radio is on from 3AM until 7PM every day nourishing me, inspiring me, informing me, and making me laugh and cry. I couldn't ask for a better relationship. Your work is nourishing to me and my work and I can't thank you enough.

Alligator-Filled Potholes

As a teenager I felt like my mother could look right inside my mind and see my thoughts and dreams and wishes. She could see my clear see - through body like those plastic toy science models. She said "I had bad wiring" implying there was something wrong with me thinking there was something wrong with her. She was the one confessing to me that she was addicted to speed. Does dad know? I immediately asked. I remember the moment vividly - we were in the car one the way to my therapist. I was 11.

She said she could behave the same way to my other siblings and I would always respond differently. It was always my fault that I could see deeply and feel deeply. And she made it clear that it was my responsibility that she could not see these things. She told me I was responsible for curtailing her out of control behavior. As if I wasn't busy navigating my own alligator-filled potholes.

I remember vivid dreams of smashing heavy clear glass cookie jars. I had so much anger and it began to twist inward going as a force against myself. I wanted to disappear, I wanted to die.

As a 28 year old adult I read about Munchhausen's Syndrome-By-Proxy and a window opened.

Things made sense

and suddenly a map was drawn.

I always wanted to be a cartographer.

John Cage

Never have a job, because if you have a job someday someone will take it away from you and then you will be unprepared for your old age. For me, it has always been the same every since the age of 12. I wake up in the morning and I try to figure out how am I going to put bread on the table today? It is the same at 75, I wake up every morning and I think how am I going to put bread on the table today? I am exceedingly well prepared for my old age.
-John Cage, Composer

Water Shut Off

Never a dull moment.

Friday, October 19, 2012

M.F.K. Fisher

It was there, I now understand, that I started to grow up, to study, to make love, to eat and drink, to be me and not what I was expected to be. It was there that I learned it is blessed to receive, as well as that every human being, no matter how base, is worthy of my respect and even envy because he knows something that I may never be old or wise or kind or tender enough to know.
M.F.K. Fisher -from the preface Long Ago in France

Creative Insomnia

I woke at one AM and while I worked I was also listening, captivated by the stories streaming in on public radio. At 4:30 my husband got up and I joined him in the kitchen. I shaped the refrigerated sourdough into boules. They're baking now.

Grasshopper Sandwich

I'm listening to a fascinating TED talk on insects as food source.

Mosquito pie!

Marcel Dicke makes an appetizing case for adding insects to everyone's diet. His message to squeamish chefs and foodies: delicacies like locusts and caterpillars compete with meat in flavor, nutrition and eco-friendliness.

Marcel Dicke wants us to reconsider our relationship with insects, promoting bugs as a tasty -- and ecologically sound -- alternative to meat in an increasingly hungry world.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Double Chocolate Labradors

Years ago I met a fun storytelling guy at a friends Easter Sunday dinner. He said as a boy scout he did all of the cooking since he didn't trust anyone else's food. He grew up in a Jewish household and the whole Kosher food thing was a big deal. He's a big professional chef and married a skinny petite blonde vegetarian woman who is a nutritionist. They are an adorable couple. I think they both met on the job. He invited me to go with him to the SYSCO fair and collect all the free food they unload at closing time. Someday maybe I'll take him up on it and have a neighborhood block party with the leftovers.

My French Canadian pal Donat is 87. He resembles Mahatma Ghandi but tall and with a Groucho Marx sense of humor he is what I call a street guru. I adore him. He walks all over for many miles each day and stops to tell me jokes and stories when we cross paths. I often spot him on the opposite side of the street walking and talking aloud, working things out. He lives a few blocks from me in the elderly high rise. A few years ago he was hit by a car when he was walking on the sidewalk. Luckily after the accident he was determined to be healthy and mobile again. He's been back up and walking miles again daily for years.

I always try to wear bright red or yellow when walking and try to urge my walking and bicycle riding friends to do the same. It's amazing what people don't see when they're driving. Twice yesterday I screamed when a a car was coming and a loose dog was in the road; once on Edgewater drive when Brady got loose and ran up towards Lily and once on Hazel street when Shelby got loose. Coincidentally both dogs are middle aged Chocolate Labradors. They are invisible and the owners are knuckle heads for not being more careful. Shelby's owner bragged "Once they're hit they don't get hit again, my Pitbull just got hit, he said and she's fine but the car is dented" Are you kidding, I said, It's the humans who need to learn to keep their dogs out of the road!"

Lily is a dog magnet. Luckily she is always friendly, so I always cross towards a loose dog so they don't dart across and get hit. I would feel awful and responsible if that happened. I know, I know.

Heard amazing story on The Moth radio hour this morning, listen for Jenna Levin telling her astrophysicists love story.

Colorful Past

Whenever I see those red rubber hot water bottles I think of my mother's administering of enemas. She used a white hard plastic nozzle that was like a sprinkler head which years later I learned was the douche bag attachment meant for ladies vaginas. She used this attachment to administer enemas on me. She would call the emergency room in a panic and say I just gave my daughter an enema and it didn't work, what do I do? Then she'd slam down the boxy white bedroom phone and say "I need to give you a 'high colonic' enema (now she was an expert) and hold the bag six feet in the air. And, (she was breathless at this point) I need to use soap as an irritant. She would lather up a fat pale green bar of Irish Spring Soap into the red bag in her pink bathroom sink and try again. As if this wasn't humiliating enough I was naked on my knees in her pink tile bathroom kneeling in her porcelain tub. This was a daily event during my high school hours. "Doctors orders." My mother really thought of herself as a doctor and even worse, as my doctor. She had a black bag purse that most resembled an antique doctors bag and drove her Volvo station wagon like it was an ambulance blasting through red lights "Mom!!" I say "It's okay if you honk while doing it" More importantly she thought doctor mom was a suitable role for herself. Secretly she would've liked her Volvo wagon in red, but requested navy blue at the showroom and sobbed when it arrived in light blue.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

BBQ Chicken Pumkin Improvisational Stew

I will post the recipe I read for slow cooker BBQ sandwiches and here and how I reinterpreted and riffed off of it.

The original recipe I read was from All You June 2011


24 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup barbecue sauce
1/4 cup reduced-fat Italian dressing
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons low-sodium chicken broth

1. Put chicken in slow cooker. In a bowl, combine barbecue sauce, dressing, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Pour over chicken. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours.
2. Remove chicken to a cutting board and shred with 2 forks. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and chicken broth. Stir into sauce in slow cooker, cover and cook until sauce is thickened and heated through, 5 to 10 minutes. Return chicken to cooker, stir, cover and continue cooking on low for 45 minutes. Serve chicken on whole-grain buns, over brown rice or with baked potatoes if you like.
All You
JUNE 2011

But I reinterpreted it according to my whims and it evolved into a pumpkin curry stew.

As my pal Jean the bookseller says "All of cooking is a story".

What I used: I used things in my kitchen that need using up! I kept tasting along the way.

I started with a bunch of frozen skinned boneless chicken breasts that were in my freezer. I put them in my cooker (frozen) with a little water and half a bottle of cheap BBQ sauce. I have never bought or used BBQ sauce before. They had a big bottle at Family Dollar for a buck 25. I opened some leftover pumpkin puree and threw it in It seemed like the right thing so I opened another whole can of pumpkin and threw that in. I added some cheap port wine skipping the sugar in the recipe. I think I was fleshing out the BBQ sauce so it would have some sideways flavor (body) and not just pointy (spicy). Also it's Autumn and pumpkin is great. Then I added olive oil and red wine vinegar in place of Italian dressing in the recipe along with basil oregano bay leaves and garlic. I put a whole bulb of garlic in my gigantic spice ball so I didn't have to peel it. I added chili powder, cayenne pepper, Worcestershire sauce, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. I added freshly grated ginger, whole pimento-stuffed green olives. I spotted 4 small onions in my kitchen hanging in a wire basket and so I chopped them in half and peeled them and tossed them in. I added a fist-full of dried cranberries, for sweetness and three Macintosh apples that needed to be used. I didn't peel the apples but I cored and quartered them. Then I tasted it again and added orange juice to cut the sweet a bit and add a fruity tartness. It simmered at 250 for hours. I took out the spice ball and squeezed the mushy contents of the garlic cloves into the stew, discarding the paper outer layers. It was delicious and we ate it on top of warm brown rice.

My list of ingredients tallied up:

chicken breasts
cheap port
barbecue sauce
olive oil
wine vinegar
kosher salt
bay leaves a friend grew
pumpkin puree
chili powder
cayenne pepper
Worcestershire sauce
freshly ground black pepper
fresh garlic whole (lowered into the pot in a spice ball the size of a lime)
whole green olives stuffed with pimentos
fresh basil leaves a friend grew
freshly grated ginger
peeled white onions chopped in half
dried cranberries
a few chopped mealy Macintosh apples
orange juice

Everything simmered in my crock pot with the glass lid on, for hours at at 250 degrees.

I cooked a pot of brown rice in my little heart-shaped red iron pot to go with the stew. The rice was a gift. I always ask for grains, or cheap edible delights for Christmas.

Hope and Courage

You may possess only a small light, but uncover it, let it shine, use it in order to bring more light and understanding to the hearts and minds of men and women. Give them not Hell, but hope and courage. Do not push them deeper into their theological despair, but preach the kindness and everlasting love of God.
-John Murray, An early American Universalist

Motherhood or Shining a Light on Hell

Through my childhood my mother took me to scores of medical professionals. As a very small child I had an annual GI series. I had to drink radioactive grape flavored malted and they bumped my belly with what looked like the back of a dome-what looked like the back of a tube television set. I had a picture of myself as a sickly, frail, and a crippled weakling. But I was actually a fierce fighter.

These medical tests and subsequent surgeries went on through elementary, middle school and finally in my second year of high school when I was chasing the poet boys in my class my mother found a doctor who was drastic enough to temporarily paralyze me and bind me to her as if I were a helpless infant.

This doctor, a NY gastroenterologist was claiming to be shrinking my "distended" intestine by liquefying the contents of my guts through administering poisonous doses of Squibb heavy mineral oil. This was one of many kinds of treatments. I was prescribed 11 ounces three times a day, with a descending dose. This went on for 8-10 weeks.

I was locked up inside the house away from school away from my friends, taking this disgusting stuff. It caused all food to liquefy inside me and continually leak out. I oozed a disgusting smelly bright orange oil. I had to wear diapers and rubber sheets on my bed. I felt intense shame and went into hiding.

I was 16 and had been planning my escape since I was 13, collecting cast iron frying pans in my bedroom closet. By the age of 15, 16 and finally by age 17 I was running for my life. My mother was threatening surgery again this time saying she'd give me a colostomy. I knew this was not necessary because I had no "condition" but I also knew she could have ordered this surgery on me as she did with all of the others.

I escaped. I was technically still enrolled in the public high school but I was living on my own. I found a job working as a cashier at a health food store in the village while living on Mott Street in NYC Chinatown. I was given credit for the time I wasn't at school, and I graduated a year early as a junior. I was granted English credit for my poetry and journals.

I now see that even my mother's neurotic behavior was indicative of her mental illness. She was repeating her own physical and mental traumas on me. But that's another story for another day. Thank god for my school teachers. I have thanked a few of them, along with a few parents of friends who let me hide in their houses.

When I was five I knew I didn't want a life like my mother. Now I feel I'm the mother of a dog and cat and someday possibly a cow. I am the mother of bread, the mother of pie, the mother of yogurt, but not the mother of a human. I've had to relearn and rediscover the good mother through my grandmother because I didn't learn it from my birth-mother. As Robert Bly says in his book Iron John - you have to make a room in the (psychic) house for the bad father and a room for the good father, so true.

As my high school poetry teacher said to me when we visited him recently: You will continue see this in a myriad of new ways as you age.

Taking a Stand

Each week in art school we would draw from a live nude model. There were simple wooden easels that filled the room holding our large newsprint pads and a few horses; benches you straddled with the drawing pad hooked against a few half dowels so it wouldn't slide. I hated to sit and never once used the horse. I felt like I needed my whole body to see the model. It was intense and exhausting and I would sneak out after a few hours and bicycle home to my tiny apartment a few neighborhoods away and walk my big dog Travis and then make chicken soup. The point of this story is I had to stand. I required it to think.

Years ago my husband set up his computer monitor by mounting it on the top of his desk which was formerly an upright piano. It was at eye level. "I can't sit," he said. A few years ago I decided to try this too. I love to work standing. I stand to play my sax. I stand to paint I stand to read and write. But I do sit to write letters on paper. When my eyes flutter shut I take a nap.

Read this too.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

George Orwell

The Puritanical nonsense of excluding children and therefore to some extent women from pubs has turned these places into mere boozing shops instead of the family gathering places that they ought to be.
-George Orwell

Eastern Bluebird and Red Bellied Woodpecker

I saw a red bellied woodpecker the other day on Edgewater Drive and in September Sally spotted a bluebird. I wish these birds were the size of Subaru station-wagons, and snuggly.

Saucy Beer Labels

Hop on Pop
Hunks and Punks
Hop n' Not Stoppin'
Wenches with Wrenches
Ale Wives and Auto Mechanics
Buxom n' Burly Beer
Ferment and Forget
Barrel Babes
Bung Mama
Dry Hopping
Butterscotch Babes
Mouth Feel
Hard Cider Soft Women
Salty Yeasty Worty Women
Winy Women
White Labrador
Orange Pussycat
Money Cat
Pumpkin Pie
Witches Brew
Twittering Teakettles
Woodpecker Ale
Aardvark Ale
Boudoir Brew
Bedtime Brew
Her Story Ales Me
Working Words
Working Women
The Chocolate Nuns Factory
Chocolate Bunnie Beer


Women in Beer Labels

I'm researching women in beer labels. Not enough good ones out there. Calling all beer brewers. I am your beer label artist.

Pumpkin Spice Coffee

½ cup lowfat milk
½ cup coffee
2 tablespoons pumpkin purée
1 tablespoon dark molasses
sprinkle of ginger
sprinkle of cinnamon
sprinkle of allspice
Buzz in blender and heat up in a saucepan or microwave and enjoy
Read another version

Purple Chaps and Olive Waders

I have purple corduroy and I have a fantasy of making purple chaps. I also have always wanted waders. I might be frustrated wearing them since I like to feel cold water on my skin. 20 years ago I got yellow rain pants overalls and I wore them to a friends Christmas party with a magenta jog bra back when jog bras were colorful. It was the best party outfit I've ever worn. My friend Jennifer and I used to joke about how we were so shy we wore leaf bags to school.

A Nose with Legs

I tell people I am a nose with legs. I also tell people I am part Labrador Retriever perhaps more parts than homosapien. Maybe I should get a job as a bomb sniffing dog. I once freaked out my boyfriend by sniffing his flannel shirt collar and naming all of the places he had been to that day. It still blows my mind but the information was there, all I did was inhale. I listed the locations: Dom and Louis diner, The Met Cafe, and Susan's apartment. That was my first bomb sniffing gig, and I nailed it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Ana Castillo

Poverty has its advantages. When you're that poor what would you have that anyone would want?
Except your peace of mind. Your dignity. Your heart.
The important things.
― Ana Castillo, Peel My Love Like an Onion: A Novel

The man you love cooking for you is good for you too.
― Ana Castillo, Peel My Love Like an Onion: A Novel

Anne Lamott


Rules of the Game

The rules of my first kitchen job were not foreign to me at all because they were not unlike growing up under the regime of my mother. Rule number one "look busy" which means do not read, eat, or look like you are enjoying yourself even though you are doing a fun job or visiting your parents at their weekend country house. Rule number two "do not make a mistake, ever" or you'll never live it down. It will go on your permanent record distorted and repeated forever until everyone and their progeny is long dead. This includes even trivial things, especially trivial things! These rules apply to family, school, and all kitchen jobs.

Farmer's Hours

The dawn is gorgeous we wake at 3:45

but I am not virtuous - we sleep at 7 or 8.

I love it and I only wish I was the farmer to go with my farmers hours.

I lived on a farm in Vermont the summer I was 15- in 1976 There's nothing like feeding the chickens and milking the Jersey cow at the early hour with just the sound of the milk hitting the metal bucket and the occasional snorting and chewing and kicking.

The chickens stepping on the tops of my bare feet tickled. Goats jumped around and over the picnic table, eagerly awaiting their food.

I get up and let Lily dog out to pee in the dark and then I feed her 2 scoops and then I feed Sammy cat and feed Lily 2 more scoops. We call it breakfast one and breakfast 2 (a minute apart).

I turn on public radio and start up my computer while setting up coffee and tea and an army of toast in our 4 slot toast machine.

I toasted my raisin sunflower bread and sprinkled it with cinnamon and sugar. The shape looks like biscotti. I drink a few ounces of hot black coffee in a thick tiny chipped porcelain mug.

I have my Russian looking black fleece hat on but I've opened the windows and doors because the air outside is warmer than inside!

Stream of Kasha-ness

We did have kasha for supper last night. Bill said "Where did you get kasha?" It was in a tall glass jar in the kitchen waiting for this moment. I threw in some small white onions chopped into wedges. The kasha was mushy but good, maybe it wasn't toasted. Easting toasted raw kasha sounds like something I'd like. I've had crunchy grain at the beer supply store once. It was malted grain sweet and toasted. The proprietor said he used it on his breads. Bill hasn't made beer in about 15 years.

There isn't a grain or a bean I don't like and I always feel like slightly virtuous when I am soaking beans. I think I just like incubating things. At the moment the breads are rising and the 450 degree oven is warming the ice cold kitchen. I just rinsed and am soaking some kidney beans. Speaking of incubating, the pigeons or rock doves abandoned their two eggs in their nest under the eaves outside of our third floor bathroom window. I have threatened to reach out and grab them for an omelet. The neighbors three family house is an arms length away but now it has been over a month of egg watching so I won't. I have seen many rock dove chicks hatch as punk rockers and grow up to be conventional pigeon citizens. The hatching has been entertaining to visiting children and our dogs and cats over the 17 years of living here. I hope the doves come back. Maybe the leftover eggs are preventing new doves from coming. I'm sure there will be a wind or ice storm that will knock the eggs out.

The only food I don't like is liver but I only had it once as a kid and I suspect I might be okay with it now given the opportunity. We bought hobnobs at JobLot last night along with a box of three large bars of black currant soap. It is always fun to see what they have and their food section has grown to four aisles! Shopping there no longer feels like dumpster diving, not that there's anything wrong with that. We used to buy cases of Twinnings black currant tea from our corner market when we lived on the west end in Providence in 1988. Back then we timed our tea because after five minutes the tea tasted like pencil lead. I drank a pot of tea or more with milk and honey every morning for courage before I could venture out of the apartment to walk my black Lab, Ruby. That neighborhood was annoying because people were assuming we were just like them! It was a bunch of neighborhood re-vitalizers trying to run our life and get us to buy the run down dark green house we were renting. The porch had no railing and was overlooking an empty boarded up maroon house and an alley where we occasionally heard gunshots. NO WAY will I stay here! I don't think I ever fully unpacked and moved in. I had a studio in the CIC building and would bicycle back and forth while Ruby, a puppy, was like a loose lawn mower. She chewed holes in everything we owned. I remember buying a whole chicken one night and bicycling home with it in the dark while having difficulty steering.

We moved to Woonsocket in 1988 to squat in a tiny rubble construction mill on the Blackstone river as we tried to buy it from the little old man who was ready to sell it to us, as soon as we got financing and a bunch of people involved. The bank crisis happened and that was the end of that adventure. But it had been a year and a half of showering at the YMCA and cooking on a hot plate and sleeping on a single mattress mounted on a hollow door in the 10' by 10' red and black linoleumed fluorescent lit machine shop office. It was comfortable and with our two eighty pound dogs squeezed into the remaining spaces on the bed. We were warm! My brother in law Jeffrey slept on my layout table one Christmas eve when he was visiting from Spain. We even had one party there with people drawing in chalk on the cement floor and kids being pulled around the room on the industrial dolly. I remember taking a day to wash up after the party heating the tan enamel dye pot from college, full of water on the hot plate to warm the water. My vintage 25 dollar washing machine was hooked up to the mill sink too and I would hang my wet clothes on a clothesline in my studio.

I like living in a city neighborhood although I still fantasize about living in the huge firehouse on Cumberland Hill road or the one on North Main Street but luckily they are working fire stations as they'd be saving us if we needed it. I did live in a cottage in Carrborro NC and the landlady Frances Parks Lloyd set the house on fire! Luckily I was not inside. Her ex husband was the fire chief. She was diabetic and didn't always take her insulin. That's another story. Unfortunately for her she had a witness - a contractor waiting in a nearby driveway to start work. He saw her go in and then come out a few minutes later, the house ablaze. I was flown from Providence to North Carolina to the Hillsboro court house to testify. I wore a black 1950's pinstripe dress I called my Perry Mason dress that I had found in a thrift store--it had rhinestones on the collar. I still have it. The detectives brought in the floor of the cottage to show that the fire had been set. That was in 1982.

An owner of a vintage fire truck wants to hire us to be his vintage fire brigade band. So we are all excited about the song possibilities (we compose or adapt our own) and the wool coats and caps provided we're not playing in July.

The sky is orange. Dawn is delicious.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Anne Lamott

By Anne Lamott

Age has given me what I was looking for my entire life. It gave me ME. It provided the time and experience and failures and triumphs and friends who helped me step into the shape that had been waiting for me all my life. I fit into me now. I finally have an organic life now, not the one people imagined for me, or tried to get me to have, or the life someone else might celebrate as a successful one. I have the life I dreamed of. I have become the woman I hardly dared imagine I could be. There are parts I didn't love until a few years ago, I had no idea that you could get cellulite on your stomach! But I not only get along with me most of the time now, I am militantly and maternally on my own side.

Left to my own devices, would I trade this for firm thighs, fewer wrinkles, a better memory? Some days, yes. That's why it's such a blessing I'm not left to my own devices. Because the truth is, I have amazing friends and a deep faith in God, both of whom I can turn to. I've learned to pay attention to life and to listen. I'd give up all this for a flatter belly? Are you kidding?

I still have terrible moments when I despair about my body. But they are just moments I used to have years ago when I believed I would be more beautiful if I jiggled less; if all the parts of my body stopped moving when I did. But I believe two things now that I didn't at 30. When we get to Heaven, we will discover that the appearance of our butts and skin was 3,127th on the list of
what mattered on this earth. I am not going to live forever, and this truth has set me free.

Eleven years ago, when my friend Pam was dying of cancer at the age of 37, we went shopping. She was in a wheelchair, wearing a wig and had just three weeks to live. I tried on a short dress and came out to model it for her. I asked if she thought it made me look big in the thighs, and so kindly she said, "Anne, you just don't have that kind of time." I live by those words.

I am thrilled for every gray hair and achy muscle, because of all the friends who died too young of heart attacks and cancer and car accidents. And much of the stuff I used to worry about has subsided. What other people think of me and of how I live my life I give these things the big shrug. It's a huge relief.

I became more successful in my 40s, but this pales compared to the other gifts of this decade how kind to myself I have become, what a wonderful, tender friend I am to myself. I get myself tubs of hot soapy water at the end of a long day. I run interference for myself when I am working, and I live by the truth that "No" is a complete sentence.

I insist on the right to swim in warm water at every opportunity, no matter how young and gorgeous the other people on the beach are. I don't think that if I live to be 80, I'll wish I'd spent more hours in the gym or kept my house cleaner. I think I'm going to wish I had swum more unashamedly, made more mistakes, acted sillier, laughed more. On the day I die, I want to have had dessert.

I have survived so much loss, as all of us have by this time: my parents, dear friends, beloved pets. If you haven't already, you will lose someone you can't live without, and your heart will be badly broken .. and the bad news is that you will never completely get over that loss. But the good news is that they will live forever, in your broken heart that never heals. It's like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly, that still hurts when the weather is cold but you learn to dance with the limp. You dance to the music of old friendships and old loves.

I danced alone for a number of years and came to believe that I might not ever have a passionate, romantic relationship again and might end up alone. I'd been terrified of that all my life. But now I know I'd rather never be a couple again than to be in a toxic relationship.

Younger women worry that their memories will begin to go and you know what? They will. Menopause has not increased my focus and retention as much as I'd hoped. But a lot is better off missed and forgotten.

I know that many women fear getting older. I wish I could gather all younger women together and give them my word of honor that every one of my friends loves being older, loves being in her 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s. My Aunt Gertrude is 85 and she leaves us all in the dust when we hike. Sure, my feet hurt some mornings and my body is less forgiving than it used to be but I love my life more, and I love me more.

It's like that old saying: It's not that I think less of myself, but that I think of myself less often. And that feels like heaven to me.

Make the most of this day!

Lazy Spaghetti Casserole

I am feeling cold and lazy. I opened a box of Price Rite whole wheat spaghetti and broke the pasta into four sections and placed it in my blue oblong enamel covered cast iron dutch oven with my homemade tomato sauce on top, plus I added a jar of leftover broccoli stock. It is baking in the oven at 350, warming up the kitchen in this raw rainy day.

I smell that it is crisping.

It is delicious I enjoyed it topped it with grated Romano cheese and twists of freshly ground black pepper.

ON BEING Sunday 7AM Radio

Great radio show on public radio every Sunday morning called ON BEING with Krista Tippett.

Today she interviewed Bobby McFerrin--try to listen on podcast--AMAZING.

World peace through music!

Saturday Parade

We had a fabulous parade in East Providence for Watchemocket Square Day. A man in the parade drove an antique fire truck and wants to outfit us in vintage fireman's outfits to become his band. Stay tuned for details. It will be fun!

We came home and ate hot leftover meatloaf and walked Lily in the sun. We met up with Casper the Cockapoo dog and sweet Harry. Harry said Casper goes down the slide by himself at the park. I didn't believe it until I saw Casper climb the ladder and swish down the yellow plastic macaroni slide. Then the dogs ran in the fenced ball field together. Casper was running keeping up with Lily while nipping at her heels. It was hilarious. I have met a few Cockapoos and they are adorable dogs.

When we got home I steamed up a bunch of broccoli and and ate it with too much aldente garlic! I was asleep at 5:30 PM and slept for 13 hours. I needed a Sabbath.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Anne Lamott

That is what happens in fairy tales; the wound or the danger guides you straight into the heart of itself, and you end up finding you.
-Anne Lamott

Friday, October 12, 2012

How to Stay Warm Without a Heater



I am crazy for cruciferous vegetables. Here's a list. I love them all and I am glad they are inexpensive.

Garlic Addict

I love garlic and I get into frenzies over it. Lately I take whole bulb and zap it in the microwave until it makes snapping sparking noises (1 minute) and then I take it out dunk it in cold water to cool and then I peel it. Then, I mash it in kosher salt and eat it. Crazy huh? I eat scallions like carrot sticks. My poor husband has to put up with this. I eat red onions like apples too. Good thing I am self employed. I eat so much raw garlic that I smell like a roasting chicken when I take a hot shower!

Home Brew

Sadly I am allergic to all wine but on rare occasions I like beer. I love designing my own labels. Now I am thinking if I can make my own ale I can give them as gifts with my custom labels during the holidays. My version of jam.

House of Pie

I have renamed my house, HOUSE OF PIE. I am enjoying pumpkin pie made the simple way (recipe on the ONE PIE brand can) and my crust is improvisation inspired by wine biscotti. I use medium grind whole wheat flour, corn oil, cheap port, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Taste test. If I hadn't eaten all the apples I'd be making an apple pie with oat crumble crust. I sent my husband on a mission: to get a bushel of 'seconds' apples from the orchard or not be let back in the house!

It may seem like an overdose of orange colors but pumpkin ice cream on pumpkin pie is fun with black coffee. I've already had meatloaf for breakfast so I can see it will be a backwards day with a frost tonight. We'll either bring in the houseplants from the yard or wrap them in fleece. We're parading early and will be assembling at dawn, luckily we have matching wool jackets for the band thanks to beloved Munroe Dairy.

Writers and Coffee

I woke up thinking about my favorite French Lessons book from 8th grade in 1975, Lessons D'Aujord'Hui. I used to have a copy but I found at a yard sale. I loaned it to an acquaintance who lost it. I have hunted on the internet and my search will continue.
I ended up looking at photographs of France and reading quotes about coffee.

I do much of my creative thinking while golfing. If people know you're working at home they think nothing of walking in for a cup of coffee, but wouldn't dream of interrupting on the golf course.
-Harper Lee

Coffee: Induces wit. Good only if it comes through Havre. After a big dinner party it is taken standing up. Take it without sugar -- very swank: gives the impression you have lived in the East.
-Gustave Flaubert

As soon as coffee is in your stomach, there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move...similes arise, the paper is covered Coffee is your ally and writing ceases to be a struggle.
-Honore de Balzac

English coffee tastes like water that has been squeezed out of a wet sleeve.
-Fred Allen

Black coffee must be strong and very hot; if strong coffee does not agree with you, do not drink black coffee. And if you do not drink black coffee, do not drink any coffee at all.
-Andre Simon

In a sad world, and especially in a country like ours, recently and constitutionally deprived of wine ... the function of coffee in bringing serene delight is an important one.
-Boston Transcript, 1923

Just around the corner,
There's a rainbow in the sky.
So let's have another cup o' coffee,
And let's have another piece o' pie.
-Irving Berlin, 1932

Coffee: creative lighter fluid.
-Floyd Maxwell

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Walking or Washing While you Think

I have always thought dog walking would be a good job for a writer, if you’re the sort of person who thinks while you walk. Delivering mail is great if you love being in the outdoors. Washing dishes is great especially if you love the meditative aspects of water and the drama of a restaurant.

Horror Show

When we first moved to Woonsocket 24 years ago nobody would make the trip up to see us. You're not exactly convenient anymore they'd snarl when we invited them. It hadn't occurred to us yet that it was time to make new friends. So we decided to call everyone we knew and offer to bring our home cooked dinners to them. One night I made a lasagna and after calling half a dozen people we got a "yes" So excitedly we packed up an indoor picnic and drove to the house of newlywed friends half hour away, in Greenville. I unwrapped the warm lasagna and we sat at their new dining room table in their new marriage. The conversation was strange. The hostess loved talking about how her jaw had been deliberately broken to fit her teeth and then wired shut to heal. During this time she drank a liquid diet of malteds for months dropping to the size of a skeleton. She wished to remain this way. Her husband begged her to see that she was perfect as is having recovered from the ordeal. Then, she lit up a long skinny ladies cigarette blowing smoke towards us. Then she put out her cigarette on the large portion of uneaten lasagna left on her plate. I was horrified.

Whirling Dervish Dinner

I stretched my meatloaf adding extra celery, carrots, oats, sunflower seeds and leftover tomato sauce. I may have over done it with the garlic. I do get into a whirling dervish dance in the kitchen and I begin improvising. The results are often slightly strange but still good. Admittedly I love raw onions, spicy, hot, gingery, tart, salty, and garlicky foods to a fault.

Spontaineous Supper

I just walked Lily to the post office to mail a drawing to a friend. On the way home I spotted some great stage outfits on the mannequins in the window of the Salvation Army. As I turned the corner to go home, the hand painted colorful signs pulled me in. I impulsively bought sale ingredients at Jamie Sullivan's Meat market for baking a meat loaf. I purchased ground beef, pork, celery, carrots, (and bananas). Next door I saw a long line of people lined up filling the church parking lot. It was just like the bread lines in the 30's.

American Meatloaf

From The Supper Book, by Marion Cunningham.

2 tablespoons butter (or olive oil)
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 pound ground beef (chuck or round)
2 boneless pork chops (about 1/2 pound in total), ground
3 cloves garlic, minced or put through garlic press
1 1/2 cups bread crumbs (or I sometimes use rolled oats)
Salt, at least 1 teaspoon, or to taste
Pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup tomato ketchup
2/3 cup water
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the onions, carrots and celery, and over medium-low heat cook until softened, stirring often, about 6 to 8 minutes.

2. In a large bowl, put the beef and pork, sautéed vegetables, garlic, bread
crumbs, salt, pepper, nutmeg, cayenne, Worcestershire sauce, tomato ketchup and water. Mix thoroughly with your hands.

3. Gently pat the meatloaf into an oval-shaped mound in an 11 x 7-inch baking dish. (If pressed together too firmly, the meatloaf won’t remain moist and tender.)

4. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Feel free to surround your meatloaf with small whole onions and/or carrots and small new potatoes.

Yield: 4-6 servings.

Ecstatic Orange

I happily crawled into bed at seven-thirty with my copy of HOME COOKING by Laurie Colwin. I woke alert at three forty five AM, glad to have the cold dark and quiet. The crescent moon was on her back and Venus was beside her. I made coffee took Lily out to pee in the yard and then I fed her breakfast and fed Sammy cat too and I ran back up to my office.

I love knowing the coffee is brewing by itself and the wash is swishing itself clean, and the sourdough is incubating while I am poking around with words. It feels like progress at the very least an attempt multitasking. At 4AM my husband is up at his desk correcting papers, then showering, while I am making the army of toast, filling containers of sunflower seeds and dried fruits and fresh fruits in preparation for his school day. Today he's dressed up for Spirit Week as Santa Clause with a blue and white seersucker striped suit jacket and his free Christmas Narragansett beer tie that is luckily red and green and only printed with "Hello Neighbor" as the pattern.

Later I have black coffee and a hermit and an omelet with spinach Provolone and leftover tomato sauce on toast and my home made pumpkin pie for dessert. It's 7AM.

I have a great old sewing machine and lots of fabric I have collected over the years. I think I should become my own costume designer although I have great luck finding Lucille Ball style dresses at Salvation Army and yard sales.

I have always loved "bad" weather--occasionally I write letters to public radio to please ask their announcers not describe gray or rainy weather as "dismal." Sometimes sunshine is dismal especially when it's relentless like a smile that is actually a grimace.

We are up at this crazy hour of 3:45 I am happy about it but I tuck in at 7PM.
Our next door neighbor goes to work at five thirty AM, which used to seem early. We have neighborhood jet lag. The best part of early is eating supper at five PM just like when I was 6 years old.

I sure hope Elizabeth Warren wins and Barack Obama too. Seems so simple to me. Maybe I should start watching sports. Sports makes me crazy. Politics makes me crazy! I don't need more crazy.

The best part of the parade was watching 15 year old Adrianna be the dancing wiener. She rang my bell the week before asking if she could parade with us. I got a good feeling and admired her courage. So I said sure! You can play an instrument or wave or be a dancing hot dog just wear red and black. On parade day we had an extra wiener costume. She put it on and was the happiest girl alive. I recognized her love of dancing and she was cart - wheeling and greeting the onlookers, kissing babies. I spent my childhood dancing in my bed room - shy but outgoing on the dance floor just like my step-father when he was as a kid. To this day I love to break-in a dance floor. It's physical courage, not social courage. Socially I look for reasons to decline party invitations. I loathe parties and I am allergic to wine and I have no patience for serial drinkers. I do love dinner parties where I can bake and cook and bring big round loaves - but they don't exist anymore. I love tea and coffee and my round table in the sun with my cat and dog. I am lucky, Bill loves my baking and cooking. Recently I went to a friends Museum art show and pulled two grapefruit sized loaves from my chest announcing that they were Mae West's Breasts. She loved it! I probably need to do crazy things to avoid the agony of social situations. My dog is my social medium on most days. She is the magnet and the beauty and perfect excuse to chat yet keep moving.

The main street chalk maples leaves are ecstatic orange, matching my mood.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Paul Theroux

Being available at any time in the totally accessible world seemed to me pure horror.

-Paul Theroux, Dark Star Safari

Yearning and Churning

I'm churning pumpkin ice cream as I write this. The setup is on my desk and I churn it every 2 minutes.

Diminishing Shadow

When I was 13 and in Summer camp there was a girl older than me who was very tall and skinny and had orange hued skin. She had given up eating months ago and lived on carrot sticks and boiled eggplant. Her arms were broomsticks with marbles at the elbow joints. She often would suggest that we tear off our clothes and go streaking through the camp. It was the thing to do back then at political rallies and ball games. I declined to join in. But she went streaking numerous times. She needed a particular fellow to glance at her diminishing shadow.

Another Pumpkin Recipe


Affording Food

When people tell me they're on a diet I immediately think they must have money. Our diet is we cook and eat whatever we can get. We do try to make wise choices based on a limited budget and a big freezer. I am proud of the things I do to economize in my baking and cooking. We buy in bulk, we save all steaming broth for soup, we parboil our vegetables in spaghetti water, and we cook and bake with whey leftover from making yogurt cheese. Once you start to think of all the little ways to harvest, reuse, recycle you become a resourceful cook which in my world is superior to being a gourmet. My friend Rob's mom a professional traveling actress used to carry a hot plate in her suitcase so she could shop for basics and make a real meal in her hotel room. When people say I live alone why bother cooking, I say why not? Aren't you worth it? I don't understand not wanting to have a relationship to food, even in solitude.

Moonlight House of Wieners

Moonlight House of Wieners Autumnfest Parade Band was a hit. My 15 year old neighbor Adrianna dressed as a wiener and danced and cartwheeled with our nine piece handsome red-capped red-aproned and bow-tied brass band playing behind her. She's a natural and energetic performer! I'm sure has a great career ahead of her. Naomi is an art teacher by day, she's terrific and an instantly lovable performer too. She was dressed a wiener with clown shoes and huge white cartoon hands. They were both a fabulous addition to our performance, shaking hands with kids and hugging babies.

Flavors Bloom

This morning we are eating leftover home made hermit brownies with yogurt cheese on top with hot black coffee. The hermit spices and flavors have 'landed' and blossomed. I will have leftover pumpkin pie for lunch. It's time to culture another batch of yogurt cheese, as soon as I can swing by for a few gallons of milk at Wright's Dairy farm.

I'm sure yesterday's tomato sauce will taste even better today, too.

I am confused by people who are phobic about leftovers. All food tastes better the next day. If I had a diner I'd call it The Morning After and I'd serve savory meals at 6 AM. and breakfast foods at 4PM. Or maybe call it the Up Side Down Diner.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pumpkin Ice Cream

1 (15oz) can of One Pie pumpkin
1 cup of cultured half and half
1/2 cup sugar
dash of molasses (optional)
salt, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, allspice (to taste)

Puree and chill. Then follow ice cream manufacturers instructions

Beyond Comfort Zone

In eating and in art, we have to step out of our comfort zone.

Traveling by Dog

I don't own a car because I hate cars! I much prefer to travel by dog - which is my way of saying I walk my dog everywhere even when I am running errands. I've even scoped out markets that have a visible and secure post out front so I can run in and get what I need and still keep my eye on Lily.


I wish Thanksgiving was this week just like it is in Canada. I am a happy hermit making Gingerbread Hermit Brownies. Nice to gave gray skies and quiet today after a marvelous weekend of parading. My 12 red dish cloths are hanging on the line.

I love to bake and cook with coffee, tea, wine and beer.

Recipe for Hermit Brownies
preheat oven to 350 F

Mix all the ingredients together in a big bowl. You can test the batter by tasting raw batter before baking, or warming a spoonful of batter in the Microwave. Spread the batter in a greased oblong Pyrex baking dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350 or until a test skewer comes out clean.

1/2 cup shortening or corn oil
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup warm coffee
1 egg
3 cups whole wheat or white flour (add more if needed)
1-2 teaspoons Kosher salt (less salt if using white flour)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon freshly ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ginger
1 cup raisins (add more if desired)

One Pie!

I made a pie crust free-hand using whole wheat flour corn oil cheap port sugar and salt. I baked the crust while mixing up the ONE PIE canned pumpkin into the batter recipe on the can. I used my cultured sour cream in place of butter in the recipe. It is baking now.

Golden Moment

I had a golden moment yesterday playing music, parading under the orange trees.

House Incense

I decided to freeze the uncooked Italian sausages for the future when they leapt into my pot. So I went with it. I emptied 4 large cans of crushed tomatoes, and I chopped celery, carrots, and a bunch of black olives, which I sliced into tiny circles. I added a splash of cheap port. This will simmer all day creating the ultimate house incense - the comforting smell of tomato sauce.

The local festivities are over and the city will slowly dismantle the amusements that were up and running over the weekend. I wish we had funding to keep the WWII park alive again. If I was a philanthropist I would! This park is the Central Park of Woonsocket and it has been abandoned by the State of Rhode Island because Woonsocket is the scapegoat of the state. Our former Mayor Susan Menard made sure we were not left out of what belongs to us. She fought to keep the park alive for 15 years, and won.

Health is Wealth

My earliest experiences were three major surgeries by age six -- most of which fell on major holidays and vacations and were, I have since learned, completely unnecessary. My mother was in love with the drama of hospitals and doctors, and still is always threatening to die. This has been true for as long as I can remember. Come home for Christmas--it might be my last! She says every year. I don't like threats even ones that I'm not afraid of. I grew up fighting for my life, always being dragged off to the family doctor, gastroenterolgist, shrink for a Rorshach test, foot doctor, skin doctor, eye doctor, chiropractor, dentist, orthodontist, psychiatrist, radiologist, and more. Who was paying for all of this? Don't ask. She tried to get my bio dad to pay even though she was married to a millionaire. I grew up thinking that I was so fragile and sickly that I wasn't going to live to be sixteen. I am 51. Luckily another part of me, a much stronger and deeper part aligned with my Grandmother Sophie. She had a nurturing and calming effect on me. She made my sister and me French toast and loved to serve honey dew and cantaloupe with toothpicks at a card table in her apartment living room after a day on Brighton Beach. She had a secret candy drawer filled with just chocolate. Once she took me to see Charlie Chaplin's MODERN TIMES and we laughed until tears came streaming down. At Christmas we took a subway into town to see the Rockette's at Radio City. Once she took me to a specialty store especially for lefties to buy me left handed scissors. Grandma swam in the ocean each morning at 7AM before taking the subway to NYC for work as a hostess in a restaurant. She was the perfect hostess; smiling and polite. "A high SQ" (social quotient) my Aunt Gertrude used to say. Grandma walked or bicycled everywhere. She often worried that I was always indoors in the basement painting, not getting fresh air.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Parade Band's Lunch

This morning I woke at 4AM realizing that I should slice and marinate the chicken cutlets and invite our band to swing by after the parade to eat lunch. I found leftover Italian dressing from the Summer community garden picnic on the door of my fridge and added it along with a few tablespoons of spicy rooster brand red chili garlic sauce. It marinated while we paraded and I cooked it up in my dutch oven as the band filed in to my kitchen. I added fresh broccoli and chic peas and some beer. Then when we spooned it on our plates we topped it with my home made caponata. It was a big hit. We had black coffee and dark chocolate cookies for dessert.
Sweet dreams! Fireworks tonight 7PM!!

Colorful Honey Mystery


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Meat is a Spice

I was a vegetarian for over three decades and cooked and baked in many health food restaurants. That said I now live in a town with the worlds best and healthiest butcher. He taught me how to cook simple meat loaf made of mostly oats and veggies, and how to make the world's best slow cooked vegetable beef stew. We rarely eat meat but when we do we eat it as a special occasion. We treat meat as a spice.

I have a lot more in common with my immigrant Italian and Jewish ancestors in my cooking and baking than anyone I know.


Travel in my childhood meant driving for three days to Florida. After a summer of daily gymnastics my legs went into spasms of agony. My mother screamed at me "I'm driving 90 miles an hour, quiet down" All of us kids were jammed into the big ugly brown Ford station wagon with the AC on full blast and a cooler of cheese to nibble on between stops. My mother drove 90 MPH on the highway burning rubber all the way. We were drugged with Dramamine, out cold for three days "You get car sick," "I do?" I realize now that she just wanted a quiet honeymoon vacation to spend with my dad. When we arrived I was singled out and made to drink glasses of Metamucil mixed in orange juice because I hadn't pooped of course.
My husband says "No wonder you hate to travel."

Broken Yet Saved

Halfway through making my home made sour cream enriched waffled-eggs my 50 year old waffle iron broke. I carefully tilted the liquid egg batter into my small cast iron skillet and cooked them, covered so they fluffed up. I turn off the heat and the residual heat does most of the cooking. The egg is delicious on my home made sourdough.

Whenever I have a house guest I can't sleep due to the excitement. I stay up all night cooking and baking hoping to lure my guests awake so they will come down and join Lily and Sammy and me in the ice cold kitchen.

Lately Lily gets up with me and goes back to bed with Bill.

In a few minutes I will head out. Woonsocket is always up early. The post office starts up at three on weekdays. Diners open at 4 AM.

I am lucky, I love the silence of early morning but I don't mind taking a nap in my bat cave when the wearies come creeping after me.

This morning I am dreaming of making a beehive-oven in the vacant lot at the East School Street Rathbun Street intersection. Wouldn't that be cool? It would be a lot better than drug dealing and prostitution and piles of garbage and dead cars.

When we were kids we occasionally visited friends of my parents near Sturbridge Massachusetts in the fall and made home made apple cider from their apples growing in their orchard surrounded by free roaming dairy cows and . . . cow pies. We also made home made ice cream from fresh local cream. I wish the kids in my neighborhood could have these kind of sensory and immediate food and farm experiences.

When we first moved in to our house 17 years ago it was July, we made home made ice cream from the local cream from Wright's Dairy farm. The 6 year old girl next door came over to help as we churned the cream with ice and salt in the backyard. When she tasted the ice cream her eyes widened and she talked about it every time she saw me until she moved away a two years later. This is the kind of experience I wish to give all of the neighborhood kids with all sorts of foods -- and music! But that's another topic.


When I was a kid I was no stranger to rodents in fact loved them and all things miniature. I had a tiny doll house and little mouse houses for my mice dolls. I bred tropical fish in a small ten gallon tank in my bedroom and made hand drawn backdrops for them every few weeks that were visible through the back panel of glass. I would turn off the lights and be hypnotized by them swimming lit only by the fish tank lamp above. I also had about 30 gerbils. I continually bred them and traded them at my local pet store for cedar shavings pet litter, and bags of gerbil food. I was eleven.

One year on our Florida vacation my cousin took us to see the movie Willard and I totally freaked. The next year we went on vacation to Puerto Rico and stayed at the San Juan Hilton Hotel. One afternoon were standing outside in the sun admiring the flamingos when a small black rat darted out of the hotel bushes and ran over my foot. I screamed, terrified and my parents swooped in angrily "Shhh we're at a hotel."

If I had been in my husband's family they would've seen the humor and laughed heartily and told the story for years. I'm lucky, I can laugh now. I'm in his family.


I woke to the intermittent robot chirps of an expiring smoke alarm battery.

I have enough fight and rage, love and humor to tell my story.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Pumpkin and Oats

We loaded up on cans of pumpkin puree and rolled oats even though its roasting hot today. Tomorrow things will cool down. I am baking a pumpkin pie because I love pumpkin and have been dreaming of baking one all week. Our butcher had a spectacular sale on chicken cutlets and home made hot Italian sausages so we got some. Now we are ready for the parade visitors.

Hot and Cold October Supper

I'm roasting hot even though we are a week into October. I'm drinking iced cold coffee, with a dash of dark molasses and chocolate syrup syrup, milk and ice cubes to enjoy with a bowl of hot raisin-oatmeal. It's a crazy Saturday night supper but it's perfect when it's what you want.


When I was 13 my mother suddenly decided us kids would be fed separately from my parents by our live-in Barbados maid Jean, so my mother could have supper later, alone with my step-father. She closed the glass dining room doors that had never been closed before, to have privacy.

I came downstairs to say hello to my dad. When I opened the glass door my eyes glanced at their empty plates, my mother opened the clear glass Pyrex casserole lid. Inside I saw a brain just like in a horror movie. "Calves brains!" she said. "Aren't you glad you're not eating dinner with us?"

The answer was No, I am not. but I never said a word. I just stopped eating, period.


I slept late compared to the past few weeks. I got up at 4. By 6AM I was hungry. After eating the last 2 biscotti, I made waffled eggs using our neighbors Jeff and Francine's backyard chicken eggs and a few spoonfuls of my home made cultured sour cream. The waffled omelet took only 4 minutes once the griddle was hot and ready. I sprinkled the eggs with Adobo seasoning. I made toast that I spread with margarine and sprinkled cinnamon all accompanied by a tiny vintage Dunkin Donuts mug of hot black coffee. Remember when they used small porcelain mugs? I do! My friend's dad in NY designed the 1970's D+D logo. Our local D+D was on Boston Post Road in Mamaroneck.

My Woonsocket kitchen looks like a diner. It's a hallway with 1960's vintage birch cupboards and curvy robins egg Formica. The house was built in 1888 so the 1960's kitchen was considered modern especially equipped with a state of the art Thermador in the wall oven speckled enamel inside and there's a vintage Kitchen Aid dishwasher. The gaskets have rotted 30 years ago - but I don't care, I love washing dishes by hand and always have. It was one of my first jobs - being a dishwasher at ALFORNO's a fancy Italian restaurant in Providence. I phoned home to tell my mother in NY, "I love my new dish washing job!"
"You'll never amount to anything if you like dish-washing," she screamed.
Perhaps it's true.

The neighborhood is still asleep but my cat and dog are eagerly eating the falling waffled omelet crumbs especially since the second one got stuck. I forgot to grease the griddle. I am a messy cook.

My neighborhood is Coney-Island for the weekend. Soon the WWII park will be humming with lights and rides and kids who have waited all year for something good to come to town.

My neighbor just came out and blew his nose off his third floor porch. Another neighbor has just let his gray and white fat male pit-bull out to pee and poop behind the basketball hoop. Never a dull moment.

Friday, October 5, 2012


I made caponata using capers, eggplant, celery, raisins , a can of crushed tomatoes, spinach, olives, onion, garlic, chic peas, olive oil, salt, red chili, and vinegar.
Delicious on my bread toasted, topped with a melted slice of provolone.
Some cookbooks call it poor man's caviar. I will call it my Ghetto Palace caviar!

Segmented Worms, Segmented Sleep


A Farmer's Breakfast

I have this theory that you can't make something unless you have a passion for the food itself. In my case it's completely true. I am not much of a cookie baker - most seem too sweet and too buttery for my preference. I prefer digestive biscuits, wine biscuits, dark breads, cornbread, bran muffins, buttermilk scones, pepper biscuits, Parmesan bread-sticks, pumpkin pie, apple pie, and biscotti to enjoy with tea or coffee.

I frequently choose savory, spicy, sour or salty foods over sweet ones. I love pickles, pickled pepperoncini peppers, and green and black olives. Sometimes I like sweet and sour at the same time (jam and tart yogurt cheese on bread).

I love smoked turkey, collard greens and stuffing over dessert. I prefer to have pies for breakfast or afternoon tea. I also adore leftover meat loaf mine is made with oats celery and carrots spiced with gound beef and pork. I love leftover lasagna for breakfast.

Breakfast is a relative word if you get up half a dozen hours before dawn. It's what I call a farmer's breakfast!