Friday, November 30, 2012


Monday is boiler man day. This is great excitement for me especially if my favorite boiler man Wayne shows up. Wayne has invited us to see his family farm and we took him up on it last spring. He introduced us to his lovely wife who teaches fashion design at URI and he gave us a tour of his barn tilted from the '38 hurricane, the hay loft and pulleys, his pet peacock, and his herd of beef cattle.

I have to take down my clothes from the boiler-room clothesline and move the cat's playboy palace motel (his carrying case covered in purple towel to offset his orange and white fur) We feed him in his motel so he can eat without Lily stealing his food. I need to put away the mountain of dry clothes stacked in the basket all to prepare for the visit.

Alone with a Cabbage

Alone in the cold kitchen with a cabbage. I start chopping away and realize my knife is dull and its too cold for coleslaw. I find a sharper knife. I never know where I'm headed, I just do stuff. I saute the whole cabbage-head shredded in my gigantic 12" cast iron frying pan. I add some water and many bloops of olive oil and cover it with my wok lid. When it's translucent and delicious I add leftover un-hulled barley and wheat-berries, and sprinkle it all with Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, and Adobo. It turns out great. This proves my ancestors are Hungarian, Ukrainian, Russian Jews with a little Gypsy thrown in.

Mobile Shopping

I realized I can take the bus with my little folding shopping cart like an old lady and go to Price-Rite!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Oatmeal Crackers

I'm making oatmeal crackers from Fanny farmer Baking book. Very simple ingredients: oats, water, salt. Stay tuned.

They are good because I love oats and salt but next time I will grind the oats into flour and maybe add a little wheat flour too.

I used my trusty wooden rolling pin, spatula. My cast iron frying pans served as baking sheets.

The air is so dry I am drinking apple cider diluted with two parts water to get enough water. Sinus headache prevention!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread

The use of leavening in a cake is first recorded in a recipe for gingerbread from Amelia Simmons's American Cookery, published in Hartford in 1796; I guess you could say it is the original great American cake. Early-19th-century cookbooks included as many recipes for this as contemporary cookbooks do for chocolate cake. This recipe, from Claudia Fleming, pastry chef at New York City's Gramercy Tavern, is superlative—wonderfully moist and spicy.


* 1 cup oatmeal stout or Guinness Stout
* 1 cup dark molasses (not blackstrap)
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
* 2 tablespoons ground ginger
* 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
* Pinch of ground cardamom
* 3 large eggs
* 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
* 1 cup granulated sugar
* 3/4 cup vegetable oil
* Confectioners sugar for dusting
* a 10-inch (10- to 12-cup) bundt pan

Preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter bundt pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess.

Bring stout and molasses to a boil in a large saucepan and remove from heat. Whisk in baking soda, then cool to room temperature.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and spices in a large bowl. Whisk together eggs and sugars. Whisk in oil, then molasses mixture. Add to flour mixture and whisk until just combined.

Pour batter into bundt pan and rap pan sharply on counter to eliminate air bubbles. Bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out with just a few moist crumbs adhering, about 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 5 minutes. Turn out onto rack and cool completely.

Serve cake, dusted with confectioners sugar, with whipped cream.

Cooks' notes:
- This recipe was tested with Grandma's brand green-label molasses.
- Like the chocolate decadence cake, the gingerbread is better if made a day ahead. It will keep 3 days, covered, at room temperature.

-Gourmet Magazine

Quonset Hut Gingerbread House

I'm making a Quonset hut gingerbread house.

Downtown Woonsocket Food Desert

A food desert is a district in an urban setting with little or no access to large grocery stores that offer fresh and affordable foods needed to maintain a healthy diet.

Downtown Woonsocket is a food desert. This is why we want Price Rite to take over the abandoned Boston Super Buffet Building on Clinton Street next to the Woonsocket Motor Inn and the Woonsocket Harris Public Library.

Humor Saves the World

Read Carolyn Given's new blog.

Nancy Verde Barr's Eggplant Parmesan

From my favorite cookbook: We Called it Macaroni, an American Heritage of Southern Italian cooking,

By Nancy Verde Barr

1 medium eggplant, about 1 ¼ lbs. 1 ½ cups tomato sauce

salt and pepper 4 large eggs

olive oil 2 TBSP Parmesan cheese

1. Peel the eggplant and cut it into paper-thin slices. Place in a colander, salting each layer, and place a plate and weight on top. Let sit at least 1 hour to draw out the water. Dry with paper towels and squeeze gently but firmly with your hands to remove excess liquid.

2. Beat the eggs, salt, and pepper together in a pie pan.

3. Pour a little over ¼ inch oil in to a 10 or 12 inch frying pan. Heat the oil to 375F. Working with a few slices at a time, dip the eggplant into the egg, hold up to drain off excess egg, and slide into the hot oil. Cook a few seconds on each side, removing as soon as slightly golden. Drain on paper towel or brown paper bags.

4. Layer the cooked eggplant and tomato sauce into an ovenproof shallow pan or dish. Sprinkle the cheese over the top layer and bake in a 400F oven 10 minutes. Serve hot or at room temperature.


When I discovered I could make my own Wheatena cereal I was ecstatic. The results were a million times tastier than the store bought cereal. It's so simple. Place a thin layer of wheat berries on a baking pan. Put them in a 350 degree oven. As they bake take a spatula and redistribute the berries so they get toasted evenly and they don't burn at the edges of the pan. Stick around, they toast fast and they can burn easily. When the wheat berries darken a bit they are toasted. Let them cool off and then grind them coarsely in a hand cranked grain mill. I don't know myself but it might be possible to grind them in a coffee grinder or a food processor. Boil the cereal in water and salt. Enjoy! You can use the toasted wheat berries in bread and soup too. You can cook up the cereal and serve with vegetables as a supper dish or make a Middle Eastern tabouleh!

Multigrain Buttermilk Sourdough

Today I mixed up a double batch of multi-grain sourdough using buttermilk, molasses, sourdough starter, cornmeal, rolled oats, and whole wheat flour. With a fifty degree house my cat hangs out next to the boiler to keep warm so it's safe to let the dough rise on the kitchen counter. I never tire of making bread. I do tire of people who think eating bread makes you fat. It's never the butter, sugar, cheese or meat that catches the blame with these folks. Oh well.

Erika Lutzner's New Book

Some Stories Are True That Never Happened

An Anthology

By Nin Andrews, J.P. Dancing Bear, Sean Edgely, Johannes Huppi, Sara Lefsyk, Emily Lisker, Erika Lutzner, Kate Lutzner, Jillian Mukavetz, Coriel Gaffney O’Shea, Nicole Peyrafitte


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Price Rite

I wish we had a Price Rite downtown so we could walk to it. I love buying produce there. Sadly all of the downtown Woonsocket stores exclude produce, leaving a real food desert. We have a vacant building next to the library that could become a thriving market.

Horseradish Tuna

I recently discovered putting horseradish in with tuna fish along with the mayo and some green olives.


A few weeks ago I purchased a 50 pound bag of rolled oats at JAR Bakers Supply in Lincoln RI. I just made oatmeal for part of my supper and it was delicious! Hot glop is soothing in winter.

Thin-Sliced Eggplant

years ago my husband bought a vintage mini stainless steel meat slicer for a dollar at a church bazaar. It is adorable and has a red Bakelite handle. It sits on display in my office, horrifying my vegetarian friends. Today I realized I can wash it and use it to slice yams and eggplant and potatoes. Stay tuned.

Savory Improv Pie

I've been on a wheat-berry and barley roll ever since my friend John asked me about un-hulled barley and I found the remains of a 25 pound bag in the bottom of my chest freezer. I've been cooking a batch every week and freezing the extra for a fast meal.. Last night I took some cooked wheat and barley and placed it one inch deep like a (faux crust) in my glass pie pan. I placed some leftover (cooked) broccoli on top. The broccoli florets looked like like fallen trees on clumpy dirt. I poured 10 beaten eggs over everything and the egg disappeared into the "dirt". I then covered everything with overlapping thin round slices of provolone. I baked it at 350 for about 45 minutes, until it was done. It was delicious! It reminded me of a wheat-berry version of kugel.


Last night I sliced a gigantic yam paper-thin (keeping the skin on) and rolled each slice in extra virgin (joblot) olive oil and baked it in my big cast iron frying pan in the oven for 45 minutes. The slices deteriorated as I tossed them to bake evenly. I sprinkled it all with kosher salt. It was so delicious and naturally sweet. I could've added balsamic vinegar or orange juice to cut the sweet salt oil taste.

It's Snowing Today!

I love snow and I love winter and heavy drapes. I want a tree and to decorate it with little white lights and my home made paper doll ornaments and to make gingerbread. Everything is about good smells, and wrapping up in blankets, contemplating the internal winter space.

Making Gifts

Making gifts is an opportunity to meditate on the person while I bake, cook, draw, and sew.

Fall River Christmas Parade

We've been invited to perform as The Munroe Dairy Marching Milkman Band in the annual Fall River Children's Christmas Parade this Saturday. It should be fun.

Thanks to Gerry Heroux's arrangements we're rockin' out to Santa Claus is Coming to Town and Jingle Bells . . . originally named One Horse Open Sleigh.

We blasted out Santa Claus and Jingle Bells at rehearsal last night. Sooo coool!

We have two trombones, trumpet, sousaphone, bari sax, cow-bell-o-phone and drums.

Here are the details: Fall River's 28th annual Children's Christmas Parade December first

Step off is at 12:30 PM Kennedy Park - down South Main Street to Central Street.

Santa will be flying in by helicopter -- with Mrs. Claus !!

Parade is short, it's one mile - all down hill!

(see poster )

Monday, November 26, 2012

Judy Blume

The best books come from someplace deep inside. You don't write because you want to, but because you have to. Become emotionally involved. If you don't care about your characters, your readers won't either.

Those of us who write do it because there are stories inside us burning to get out. Writing is essential to our well-being. If you're that kind of writer, never give up! If you start a story and it isn't going well, put it aside. (We're not talking about school assignments here.) You can start as many as you like because you're writing for yourself. With each story you'll learn more. One day it will all come together for you, as it did for me with Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. I'd published two books and several short stories before Margaret, but I hadn't found my voice yet. I hadn't written from deep inside. With Margaret I found my voice and my audience.

Once I begin a new book, the most important part of the process is perseverance. I try to write seven days a week, if only for an hour or two, until I have a first draft.

I'm a morning person — not the kind who rises at 4:00 a.m. and writes for hours before breakfast—but an ordinary morning person. I try to sit down to work somewhere around 9:00. I like to be dressed for the day, as if I'm going out to work, even though my office is just a few steps away. It's all part of my fantasy about having a regular job.

Once, I actually rented an office. We had just moved to New Mexico and I was having trouble getting started on a new book. I convinced myself that if I left the house each morning with the rest of the family, I would solve my problem. But the office space I rented was above a bakery and the delicious aroma of freshly baked bread and pastries drove me wild. Every day at noon I would rush downstairs to buy two glazed donuts and by three o'clock I would crave another round. After a few months and a few pounds I moved home again.

During the first draft of a book, which is the hardest time for me, I check my watch a lot and hope the phone will ring — anything to make the time go faster because I am determined to sit at my desk all morning. If my writing is going well, I may return to my desk after lunch to read over what I have written, to scribble on the printout, or to make notes in the little notebook I keep for each book (so that when an idea or a bit of dialogue comes to me I won't forget it).

When I'm rewriting I work much more intensely and for longer hours. Toward the end of the third draft the urge to finish is so strong that it becomes harder and harder to leave the story and return to real life. Once I'm truly finished with a book and the corrected galleys are in the publisher's hands, I feel sad. It's like having to say good-bye to a close friend. The best therapy is becoming involved with a new project. But that may take months.

For me, writing has its ups and downs. After I had written more than ten books I thought seriously about quitting. I felt I couldn't take the loneliness anymore. I thought I would rather be anything than a writer. But I've finally come to appreciate the freedom of writing. I accept the fact that it's hard and solitary work. And I worry about running out of ideas or repeating myself. So I'm always looking for new challenges.

-Judy Blume


Run Before Dawn

by William Stafford

Most mornings I get away, slip out
the door before light, set forth on the dim gray
road, letting my feet find a cadence
that softly carries me on. Nobody
is up-all alone my journey begins.

Some days it's escape: the city is burning
behind me, cars have stalled in their tracks,
and everybody is fleeing like me but some other direction.
My stride is for life, a far place.

Other days it is hunting: maybe some game will cross
my path and my stride will follow for hours, matching
all turns. My breathing has caught the right beat
for endurance; familiar trancelike scenes glide by.

And sometimes it's a dream of motion, streetlights coming near,
passing, shadows that lean before me, lengthened
then fading, and a sound from a tree: a soul, or an owl.

These journeys are quiet. They mark my days with adventure
too precious for anyone else to share, little gems
of darkness, the world going by, and my breath, and the road.

-William Stafford, An Oregon Message (Harper and Row).

Alberto Rios

In Second Grade Miss Lee I Promised Never To Forget You And I Never Did

by Alberto Rios

In a letting-go moment
Miss Lee the Teacher
Who was not married
And who the next year was not at school,
Said to us, her second grade,
French lovers in the morning
Keep an apple next to the bed,
Each taking a bite
On first waking, to take away
The blackish breath of the night,
You know the kind.
A bite and then kissing,
And kissing like that was better.

I saw her once more
When she came to sell encyclopedias.
I was always her favorite -
The erasers, and the way she looked at me.
I promised, but not to her face,
Never to forget
The story of the apples.
Miss Lee all blond and thin,
Like a real movie star
If she would have just combed herself more.
Miss Lee, I promised,
I would keep apples
For you.

-Alberto Rios from The Smallest Muscle in The Human Body (Copper Canyon Press),

Our New Favorite Supper

Toast corn tortillas slowly in the toaster. Sprinkle tortillas with cholula (Mexican) hot sauce and top with freshly washed spinach and slices of pepper jack cheese. Microwave until cheese has melted and spinach is wilted. Enjoy with steamed broccoli.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Stage Set

I grew up on a stage set. Only once was I able to show up unannounced and catch my parents 'back stage' having chicken soup at home and not entertaining.

In My Neighborhood

In my neighborhood the tenants don't have curtains. They hang pillowcases, bedsheets and towels deliberately caught in the storm windows in order to have privacy. People here don't have winter coats. They wear sweatshirts pulled tightly over their heads and hands.

Exercise and the Brain

Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory, and learning, says Harvard Medical School psychiatrist John Ratey, author of the book, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. Even 10 minutes of activity changes your brain.

Mary Oliver

Wage Peace

by Mary Oliver (written at 9/11/01)

Wage peace with your breath.
Breathe in firemen and rubble,

Breathe out whole buildings
and flocks of redwing blackbirds.

Breathe in terrorists, breathe out
sleeping children and freshly mown fields.

Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees.
Breathe in the fallen

And breathe out lifelong friendships intact.
Wage peace with your listening:

Hearing sirens, pray loud.
Remember your tools:

Flower seeds, clothes pins, clean rivers.
Make soup.

Play music, learn the word for thank you
in three languages.

Learn to knit, and make a hat.
Think of chaos as dancing raspberries,

Imagine grief as the out-breath of beauty
or the gesture of fish.

Swim for the other side.
Wage peace.

Never has the world seemed so fresh and precious.
Have a cup of tea and rejoice.

Act as if armistice has already arrived.
Don't wait another minute.


I love olives. I named my brother's black lab Olive. I keep a large jar of green olives with pimentos in my fridge and I toss whole olives into nearly everything. Last night I added them to steamed spinach and this morning I am eating them with wheat and barley.

Dream and Diary

I dreamed I accidentally parked my bicycle in front of a free tree and it got stolen.

I am dreaming of making chocolate cream pie to have with Wright's Dairy freshly whipped cream! Cream is lighter than milk, to carry. So I can walk up there and get it, snuggle with the baby cows and walk home. I want to buy eggnog too for making ice cream and say hi to Rachel the farmer.

I am simmering wheat berries and barley. I found rye berries in my magical chest freezer for making rye bread.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Diary of a Feeder

Sautéed Spinach with Onions & Garlic Confit

from Diary of a Feeder (blog)

OK, first off, I love sautéed greens—let’s just get that out of the way. I look like a meat and potatoes guy but when left to my own devices, I admit it, I’ve got a couple cloves of roasted garlic and some diced shallots or onions in the pan, a little unsalted butter and garlicky olive oil and I’m rinsing the spinach.

So, my wife L is coming home late, I’m hungry and reading the Cooking Journey food blog and Shayla has made some sautéed greens with shallots and it looks so good—and green, so very, very green. I think, yeah, I’ll have some of that. I had the garlic cloves minced and in the pan with the onions and the bunch of organic spinach glistening emerald before I remembered I had the Fine Cooking issue that she used (December 2006, on the back flap). So as I was sitting down with my big bowl of green garlicky goodness, enjoying that scratchy teeth feel you get, I scanned the recipe. I don’t know if I could give up the garlic cloves in place of the coriander and red pepper (although L might like me to). I prefer a much simpler and less spicy dish (not spicy hot, but spicy complicated), I like the peppery flavor of the spinach mixed with the warmth of the onion and garlic, and just a pinch of Fleur de Sel.


This also works well with other greens, I particularly like it with rapini.

1 tbsp unsalted butter
¼ cup finely diced onion (or shallots)
2 cloves minced roasted garlic (Garlic Confit - recipe follows)
1 tbsp garlic oil (again, recipe follows)
1 bunch fresh organic spinach (thoroughly washed), longer, tough stems removed and discarded (I save all veggie cuttings in the freezer for stock).

In a big fry pan stir the butter, oil, garlic and onion over medium heat until the onion is soft. Add the spinach. Cook spinach (I read a recipe recently that suggests while cooking the spinach you should be “stirring furiously,” I prefer “calmly” using tongs to turn the greens around so everything gets shiny and coated), cover and stir every now and then for a few minutes or until the spinach is wilted but still bright green. Plate and season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper.

serves: me

N.B. - I have no idea where I originally came across my garlic confit recipe but it is so easy, as you’ll see, that I just do it when I have some surplus garlic.


This is a great pantry staple. I use the garlic oil to brush on garlic bread, or to pour in the pan with butter for sautéed spinach or even eggs, home fries. The roasted cloves can be scraped across toast to liven up a sandwich or used together with fresh garlic to give a more complicated taste profile (ooo, listen to the boy, I mean it tastes really good). All in all, I could not live without this stuff. You could try putting fresh thyme sprigs while roasting, I read that Thomas Keller does that in his Bouchon cookbook.

peeled garlic cloves
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350° F / 175° C / Gas Mark 4. Half fill an oven proof dish with the garlic cloves and cover completely with the olive oil. Bake in oven for about 20 to 30 minutes, until the cloves are tender and golden. Put on your counter and let cool, uncovered, until it reaches room temperature. You can keep it for up to a month in an airtight container (we use it up well before then).
Posted by Paul, Diary of a Feeder (blog)

Daniel Ladinsky

Once a young woman asked Hafiz, "What is the sign of someone knowing God?" Hafiz remained silent for a few moments and looked deep into the young person's eyes, then said, "Dear, they have dropped the knife. They have dropped the cruel knife most so often use upon their tender self and others."

“Drop the knife. Those are profound words to me, for they encapsulate and distill the essence and goal of spiritual aspirants, and anyone who has entered a recovery program. Surely every human wants to avoid suffering, though self caused afflictions are complex. Most everyone is a kid in God's chocolate factory (this earth) with a belly and soul ache and gas. There is a poem in "The Gift" where Hafiz says "I have found the power to say no to any actions that might harm myself or another." Think about that a moment. My take is that one's experience of God - one's joy, one's creative potential - is in direct proportion to the ability to no longer harm oneself and others physically, mentally, emotionally spiritually."

-Daniel Ladinsky, The Subject Tonight is Love

Lazy Day

Today we walked a bit on the bike path. The soccer field was full of geese separated on either end as if they were two teams having a match. I wished I could've let Lily run loose but I know what she would've done; feasted on goose poop.

We took the main street home and ran into Chris and Jake, Lily's black Lab boyfriend. They recently moved and we hadn't seem them in a few months. Jake and Lily were so happy so see each other. Jake was barking and wagging. He was freshly bathed and wearing a red bandanna.

When we got home I noticed Lily smelled like a skunk. She must've gotten a few molecules of spray on her. I am the only one who smells it and I am feeling too lazy to wash her right now. Sweet dreams.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Bird of Paradise

Turkey is my favorite food! We roast our bird outside in the Weber grill over hardwood charcoal or in the oven at 500 degrees depending on the weather.

Pumpkin Pie

I just baked my pumpkin pie. Okay I'll admit it it I am new to the world of pie-making but I have been practicing baking pumpkin pie all year. I love pumpkin. For my pie I make a whole wheat oil crust and follow the recipe printed on the Libby canned pumpkin minus 1/4 c of the sugar. This pie is food. We eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, teatime, or a snack.

After the oven was up to 450 degrees I suddenly remembered the tip to prevent the crust from burning. I opened the oven and I "tossed" the strips of aluminum foil haphazardly draped around the crust. The foil immediately sank into the batter and got baked into the pie. When it was done it was like tearing off a band-aid to take the foil off. The crust looks great, the pie looks terrible but it tastes delicious!!


I dreamed I was given a tempura tongue to eat but I left it on my plate.

My favorite Jeans

This was an essay I submitted to a magazine (2008). The theme was "Delicious."

Every time I dig out my old favorite jeans I notice a few more places where I would like to fit into them better. I get indignant - there’s no reason I can’t wear these, after all, my bones have not grown! Wearing them around the house is a gentle reminder. Rather than snicker when I look in the mirror, I resolve to get back to my long morning walks with my dog. I’m inspired by my dog's gorgeous thighs!

Though my morning walks set out to be thigh-toning and waistline-trimming, they quickly become mind-expanding. I go with my dog in any direction as if the whole world is my exercise gym. When I was much younger, I was terrified of everyone, and sometimes the neighborhood felt hostile. Now I make a point to wave to everyone in my neighborhood, and say hello to anyone I pass on the street. I live in an urban environment, and everyday kindness builds a truce and a bond between myself and my neighbors.

But back to my thighs.

I love having an appetite and then satisfying it. If I crave vanilla pudding I'll take out the Joy of Cooking, find a recipe, and make it. It's easy, fun, and delicious. Satisfying my appetite includes the creation of my food, and satisfying my desire to wear favorite jeans will have to include the creation of my exercise. One year I played music at a swing dance and was inspired by a woman in her early sixties with gorgeous, muscular legs. Her silky white hair was pulled back and woven into a French braid. She danced with her partner all night. I want to be like that, I thought; strong, fit, beautiful, with great legs. I want to live life, eat well, dance long, sing my heart out, play music, swim through the first frost, write, walk, dream.

I became a health food nut starting at age thirteen. I became a vegetarian and I learned how to make my own yogurt. I made bread, bran muffins, granola, and grew bean sprouts. I worked at health food stores and restaurants. Then during college I learned how to cook at a hip urban pub that had fabulous food. I would make ten gallons of chili, twelve pecan pies, thirty spinach casseroles, hummus, tabouleh, spinach and white bean soup, chicken marinades, chocolate pudding. On my days off I would scale it all down for my own little kitchen in the apartment where I lived alone with my dog. Craving something of my own is how I learned to cook. Now I live in a house with a couple of kitchens, a husband, and my dog. I'll buy fifty pounds of whole wheat flour at the local baker's supply along with thirty pounds of raisins, six pounds of cornmeal, a gallon of blackstrap molasses, six pounds of honey and ten pounds of raw sunflower seeds. I like buying my groceries on a fork lift! Down to the chest freezer in the basement it all goes.

I feel lucky that I never liked sweets. When I was a kid my mother took my sister and brother and me out to Cooks Restaurant and Arcade on Boston Post Road for an ice cream, and I asked if I could have a hamburger instead. I remember eating six hamburgers instead of cake at my friend Alice’s 11th birthday party. Luckily for my thighs I was also a gymnast!

When the chill arrives in autumn, and we have to close the windows, I bake the house warm. I get out my huge cast-iron Dutch oven and fill it with chopped carrots and lentils and a few quarts of stock or water and a tablespoon or two of olive oil, and I let it bake slowly all day in a 300 degree oven while I am upstairs in my office with my dog at my side on her cushion. The scent climbs the stairs and I am the luckiest person alive. This time of year I want to roast a turkey outdoors over hardwood charcoal and eat the crispy wings and blackened skin. I want to cook collard greens with garlic and olive oil and red pepper flakes and then brighten my dish with sweet corn niblets. Yams too! That gorgeous orange singing on my plate of greens.

I have always had a strange relationship with my clothes. I rarely buy them new, but instead get them from friends or find them at yard sales or thrift stores, and I hang on to them for decades, because wrapped up in the clothing are the years I wore them, and the stories I lived in them. Those aqua pants I wore to French class in college, for instance, when I had a crush on my teacher, still (almost) fit. As a child I loved my navy blue Danskin pants and turtle neck, and the way it looked on the gold carpet in the living room. The dark blue became an obsession that was eventually replaced by black. I should force myself to wear white, for at least a day, but someone stole my nice white T-shirt, so maybe it's not meant to be.

The T-shirt was stolen off our clothesline. I noticed a bare spot the next morning, and the chain link gate open, and a clothespin on the ground as if it were neatly placed there. I'll bet it was a drunk in the middle of the night realizing a white T-shirt was just what he needed. It had a hole in the armpit. My husband said, why would anyone want a T-shirt with a hole in the armpit? I said I'm sure he didn't see that. It was just that it was white, and all of our other T-shirts are red, turquoise, orange, teal, yellow - not the sort of colors for a thief looking to get dressed in the moonlight. I have always feared someone would steal my favorite jeans, the ones I've had since 1986 that I still LOVE even though they are ragged.

This morning I walked with my dog, in my favorite gently-reminding jeans and a new white T-shirt, and said hello to the man who picks colored glass out of the gutter and saves it, and on the way home I smelled ripe Concord grapes. I ran home, got a plastic bucket, and came back to the parking lot behind the hardware store where the large and small maroon wheelbarrows are stacked like mating turtles. I found the grapes and picked them by the handful while my dog gobbled what I dropped. When I got home, I pulled out the Joy of Cooking, found the recipe, and cooked up some grape jelly. It'll go great with the turkey.

Carolyn Given

The brilliant hilarious Carolyn Given has a blog! HURRAY!!

Aubrey White: The Lobsterman's Trap

It takes a lobsterman as tough as Julie Eaton to make it through the Maine winter and a season of record low lobster prices.

Driving her boat, the 'Catsass' out to sea, mascara-clad eyes squinting at the sunrise, a 100 cigarette dangling from her mouth, Julie declares, "I'm not a lobsterwoman or a lobsterlady." She exhales a puff of smoke. "I'm a lobsterman. I've earned that, you know. I do just what the boys do. I've earned that."

As Julie and Sid pull their traps from the water for the final time this season, their earnings are $55,000 shy of last year's. With an income source that disappears with the warm weather, the priority rests on pre-paying for the winter. Julie and Sid pay their bills a year in advance, drain their bank accounts of almost everything in order to stock up. "[I buy] everything that I can possibly buy a year ahead so that when we're all done fishing, the oil barrel is full, so we know we'll have heat. Our pantry is stocked, along with any other cubbyhole I can tuck anything into, so I know that we're gonna eat." Their pantry is filled with five-pound bags of pasta and stewed tomatoes; stacked in the spare bedroom are pallets of canned goods and root beer.

Julie's fought plenty to make a living. At the age of 23, she studied aeronautical science with dreams of becoming a pilot. Just before those dreams came to fruition, she was struck by a cement truck while driving to work in a wretched snowstorm. After several comatose months, Julie faced a long recovery to bring back her ability to speak, her ability to walk properly, and her memory. After a year of intensive therapy at her parents' house, Julie found herself ready to leave. "Now, whether I was actually ready or not, it's hard to tell... When I cut the apron strings I probably had the mental ability of a 16 year-old... But I was in a body much older than that, so, I did it... Somehow I needed that to keep growing."

To keep growing, Julie started to fish. Living on the island of Vinalhaven, Maine for eight years, Julie learned to lobster from locals while living in a small boathouse lacking both heat and running water. "A lot of times it would be colder in the winter in my boat house than it would be outside because it held the cold... It was just brutal. But I survived it and I learned so much about what I need, and what I want."

Today, the pull of the lobster industry leaves Julie and Sid with lives revolving around their traps. Their home, a double-wide prefab with ocean decor throughout, is far from Deer Isle's tourist-inundated town of Stonington; it is tucked away from the beaten path of art galleries and bed and breakfasts. The shoreline is reserved for those with summer homes and, according to Julie, those who complain about the sound of boat engines in the early morning. During fishing season, Julie and Sid rise around 6:00 am to check the weather and watch for wind as the sun comes up. Julie prepares a 44-ounce mug of coffee and they leave their house by 7:00 am.

Neither eats breakfast; neither brings a lunch. They work through the day with only the catch on their minds. It isn't until after they've sold their lobster, parked the boat, and returned home that they both realize how famished they've become. Julie serves up heaping plates of American chop suey, a cheap way for both to take in the day's calories in a single meal. During the lobster season, each loses about 40 pounds, only to put it back come winter.

Julie generally lobsters alone aboard her boat, and Sid aboard his. Working apart helps double their household income, but also allows each to captain their own boat. When the two first married, Sid asked Julie to serve as sternman for his boat. "To which I replied, smiling, 'Hell no.' And I said to him, 'Would you like to stern for me?' And he smiled and me and said 'Not a chance in hell.'"

But the two are bound together by fishing. Julie shares, fondly, the line that made her fall for Sid. "Come aboard dear. And make yer dory fast." Translation: Come aboard dear, and tie your dingy up next to mine. A man at a seafood restaurant can kneel and impress a mate with the luxury of a lobster, but it takes the language of the sea to win a fellow fisherman.

-Aubrey White, Salt Institute for Documentary Studies


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

To love is to suffer and there can be no love otherwise.
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground

Nowadays, almost all capable people are terribly afraid of being ridiculous, and are miserable because of it.
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

I say let the world go to hell, but I should always have my tea.
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Urban Farm

My neighbor flagged me down from her picture window as I walked by with Lily. She asked me if I would like home made apple juice from her trees and some pumpkin from her pumpkins. Yes, thank you, I said. She is from Quebec and has a strong accent. She has chickens bunnies ducks and cats and dogs - an urban farm - down the street, just a few houses over the RI line opposite the cemetery. She invited me to their New Hampshire land way up, close to Canada where the bears roam free. Maybe I should go.

Time is Zoomy

Time is zoomy. It's my favorite time of year because of the dark. I love getting up at 4 in the big darkness and short cold sunny days lighting my candles at 5PM and getting hypnotized by them, blowing them out smells like a birthday party, and then falling asleep at 8PM.

Stepped Out

Sunday I stepped out and there was a guy in a wife beater. I thought he must be cold Then I saw he was holding a white terricloth rag, with red spots, blood, over his left hand. He was getting into a little white car. He cut himself on a vase, his boyfriend said, his boyfriend wore those earrings that widen holes in the earlobe with discs and had blond-orange highlights on his spiky brown hair. We're on the way to the emergency room, he said.
We have URGENT CARE right downtown,
I said wanting to help. I pointed to the only tall building around. Does that cost money?, he asked.
I don't know. Good luck. Hold your hand up.
They sped off.

When I arrived at the cemetery yesterday a lady praying on Sister Rose's grave beside her new Mercedes SUV. It made me angry seeing this monster Mercedes and the little white-haired woman on her knees praying, for more?

Everybody wants to go to heaven
Nobody wants to die.

This morning I stepped out with Lily after trying to put my pants on over my leggings and lace shoes and getting stuck.

I love frozen sunshine. The frost outlined each leaf and blade of grass. Like a strange MAN RAY photograph. The shadows cast from telephone poles remained frozen but defrosted the grass lit by the sun.

Lily ate cat shit and I dropped the leash in anger walking away. She looked puzzled and stopped chewing knowing I will open her jaws and shake her head until it falls out. But I didn't. I didn't feel like getting my black gloves stinky. It's her ONLY flaw and I can't get over it on some days. This is one of those days.

Superstorm Sandy, Nor'Easter, Patreaeus, Thanksgiving Flashbacks, Fiscal Cliff, Christmas Flashbacks, Hang yourself, Start a New Year huddled in Blankets.

Geneen Roth

Geneen Roth is one of my favorite writers.

Leftover Lentils

Leftover lentil gloop made a great open face sandwich on my sourdough. I love lentils. I remember one summer visiting camp FLYING CLOUD in Plymouth Vermont - the boys lived in tepees wore lion cloths, and ate lentils all summer. I am currently overdressed for that gathering - bundled in my black fleece hat, blue fleece blanket, black leggings, pants, red hooded sweatshirt and green Carhartt plush lined heavy cotton vest.

Leo Tolstoy

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

-Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, Chapter 1, first line.


And so I was scared. I was scared of my own sexual hunger, which felt so secretive and uncharted, and I was scared of the sexual hunger of boys, which felt so vivid and overt, and I was terribly uncertain of the relationships between sex and power and value, which seemed so merged and hard to tease apart. In the midst of all that, I didn't exactly loathe my body, or feel ashamed of it, but I was deeply ashamed of my fear, which felt disabling and immature and woefully, painfully uncool, a terrible secret, evidence of some profound failing and ignorance on my part. Other girls, or so I imagined, knew what to do, how to use their power, how to derive pleasure from it, and in contrast, I felt not only freakish but isolated, as though I was standing outside a vital, defining loop.”
― Caroline Knapp, Appetites: Why Women Want

Holidays are Traumatic

All holidays are traumatic for me even Flag day and Secretaries Day. The triggers from my previous life are built in and run deep.The only cure is to lower my expectations (impossible), walk a lot, and hug Lily the dog-god! Perhaps I should get down on all fours and share a meal with her out of one bowl, but she eats too fast. I cook and bake to stay warm while thinking of people struggling. I do not picture Normand Rockwell's famous Thanksgiving painting called Freedom from Want, I instead picture Picasso's Guernica or Hiernonymus Bosch's painting The Sounds of Gounod's Faust.

Caroline Knapp

The real struggle is about you: you, a person who has to learn to live in the real world, to inhabit her own skin, to know her own heart, to stop waiting for life to begin.
― Caroline Knapp, Appetites: Why Women Want

Caroline Knapp

The dog’s agenda is simple, fathomable, overt: I want. I want to go out, come in, eat something, lie here, play with that, kiss you. There are no ulterior motives with a dog, no mind games, no second-guessing, no complicated negotiations or bargains, and no guilt trips or grudges if a request is denied.
― Caroline Knapp, Pack of Two

Nadine Gordimer

Truth isn't always beauty, but the hunger for it is.
-Nadine Gordimer

Monday, November 19, 2012

Bake and Simmer or This is not a Soup it is a Gloop!

I just baked a basket load of sourdough rolls and while the oven was still hot I decided to bake a batch of lentil and carrot soup. I could've boiled them but baking them slowly in my big cast iron pot warms the kitchen and smells spectacular. Home is where the oven is. In a few minutes the scent will climb the stairs and grab me by the ankles like an octopus

I used to feel guilty that I constantly took breaks from my work - dish washing, letter writing, dog walking, baking, cooking and laundering but now I see it is the secret to my productivity. I need to switch things up. I probably would've been considered ADD or ADHD because I have to MOVE while I work.

I still shutter when I go to a school and see rows of desks in classrooms.

I work standing and I need to move to think. I write notes while I walk and most of my distillation happens while I am asleep.

Here comes the octopus, right up my nose!

I've added onions and celery and kale from my friends garden. I also added 2 cups of frozen lentil soup with lamb scraps from last time I made lentil soup and defrosted my leftover cooked barley and wheat berries. Delicious! I ate it with thin slices of my fresh sourdough bread with butter and freshly ground black pepper on top, followed by clear tea and dried cranberries. The sun is in the window! Lily is at my feet. The house smells magnificent. This is not a soup it is a gloop!

The Longer I Walk . . .

The longer I walk, the tastier the tea when I get home.
Just a few of the benefits to daily walking
stronger muscles
stronger bones
increased oxygen flow to the brain
increased oxygen flow to the heart
sleep better
better mood
balanced weight
decreased risk of developing diseases such as diabetes
lower chance of developing high blood pressure and/or cholesterol

Disconnected Thoughts

I love the sensation of hot tea after swimming across a cold pond or after walking for hours in the cold.

Only older women I know stop worrying about the three she-devils:
sameness, competition, fear.

Someday I would love a potbelly woodstove--I love the smell and the heat, and best of all simmering beans overnight.

Laurie Colwin's Chocolate Wafers

1. Melt 2 ounces of chocolate.
2. Add 1 cup sugar and 1/2 cup melted butter.
3. Add the yolks of two eggs into the beaten egg whites and stir into the chocolate mixture.
4. Add 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla.
5. Spread on a well-buttered pan. Place in a 350-degree F oven but gradually decrease the heat to 300 degrees F.
6. This recipe does not tell you how long to bake. I would say about ten to twelve minutes. Cut into squares while still warm.

I made these cookies to serve with a fruit salad one spring night and was alarmed at how tasteless they were. No one liked them very much but I could not bear to throw them out, so I put them in a tin and left them for a couple of days. One afternoon when my blood sugar dropped and it was time for tea, I remembered the chocolate wafers. ‘Better than nothing,’I said to myself, biting into one. To my amazement, they were delicious. They tasted strongly and wonderfully of chocolate and were hard and crunchy, too. It had taken a couple of days for the taste to bloom and it was worth the wait. And so I add to Mrs. Simon Kander’s admirable recipe a seventh step:

7. Let cool, put in a tin and do not eat for at least two days.

And of course, for those of you about to give a dinner party for choco-late nuts, you know what bakeries are for: so that, at the end of dinner, you can put your feet up and have the chocolate dessert you didn’t bake.

from Home Cooking by Laurie Colwin -- My favorite cookbook!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Tea Party

I found some vintage teacups I was given over the years but never used. We dug them out and had a tea party with old friends who had never been here. The sun was in the window shining on our big round table. We drank many cups of tea in our dainty cups. We made a few pots. We ate coconut cake. I will do this again!

A friend wrote:
I had a tea party yesterday too. I used to be part of a poetry group that met monthly. It was three older women, in their late 60’s and early 70’s, Carolyn, a poet friend ten years younger than me, and, well, me. I learned more from these ladies about poetry than any other group I had been in. Two have died since of cancer, which leaves Anita. Anita is about 85, blind and an awesome poet. She has been in mourning for the loss of our group. We didn’t meet for many years, as Carolyn had two children, and I was busy raising my family. This summer Anita had to have a tumor removed from her colon. We were very worried she was going to die of cancer but it all turned out OK, the cancer is gone. I went up to visit her with Carolyn, she lives with her woman friend Betty-Sue, in an old, 1830’s Quaker farmhouse, surrounded by woods and fields. It is beautifully restored. Betty-Sue and Anita are from Mississippi and have old southern manners. Anyway, we decided to start meeting once a month to discuss and read poetry again, just the three of us. We meet in a sun room, a glassed in porch with warps in the old panes, with a view of an old stone smokehouse and a garden and bird feeders. We drink tea and eat cookies and read poems and talk about our childhoods, our families, our travels and the world. It energizes Anita and it feels wonderful, sitting in the warm sun on a cold day with a view of leafless trees and the broken stems of harvested fields, blazing cardinals hopping on and off the feeder. Tea parties are the best!

Green Mug

I had these exceptionally bulky broad-based forest green mugs which struck me as hideously ugly and I finally dropped them at the Salvation Army. I think they were from my bio dad. I can't remember. All I know is my dad once gave me mugs that had his wife's name, Liz, on them, with roses and horses. I gave those away with the mugs that had his old advertising clients' names on them: Lums, Goldberg's Bagels, etc. To this pile I added the ugly green mugs.

Yesterday I found a stray bulky green mug in the back of my cupboard, and I realize now that these were shaving mugs. I feel terrible that I got rid of the others because now I have a context for appreciating them. But they are still the wrong green for coffee and tea.

I console myself that this mug is singularly special and unique to my house. I am nonetheless sorry I gave away its siblings.

Alice in Wonderland

Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday-but never jam today
It must come sometime to jam today, Alice objected
No it can't said the Queen It's jam every other day. Today isn't any other day, you know.
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

The Mad Hatter: Would you like some wine?
Alice: Yes...
The Mad Hatter: We haven't any and you're too young.
― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Holiday Anxiety

Dear Eloise,

I have a sister-in-law, Gertie, who for over 40 years has refused my cooking and my home-made bread and rolls at family gatherings but she looks for my compliments for all of the things she makes.

She even assigned me to bake loaves for her wedding. Last summer I was paid in bread for playing the piano on Sunday afternoons at my local bakery, so I brought that assortment of breads to the reception with a few loaves of my own. Gert was not happy and let me know she was disappointed. I was horrified at her rudeness.

Now she has the nerve to assign me the baking of a pie she hates, mincemeat, for the family Thanksgiving meal. So I am planning to stay home and watch the ducks on the pond and make my favorites, spinach pie and pumpkin pie.

Am I over-reacting? Or is Gert afraid of me?


C'est Bon

Yesterday I walked towards the sun and ended up on Cass ave and went into the new cafe C'est Bon. I tied up Lily on the patio in the window where I could see her while I went in. They were friendly and they had spinach puffs that were delicious! I will go back again and sit outside in the winter sun with Lily.

Friday, November 16, 2012

John Thorne

Traditionally, Matt and I get Chinese takeout for Thanksgiving, a holiday I actively dislike. Despite its name, Thanksgiving is really the Family Holiday. Even Christmas pales beside it: that day's focus is on giving and receiving even more than togetherness. Strangely though, being alone on Christmas is to be almost hauntingly empty; you feel like a ghost. But being alone on Thanksgiving is rather wonderful, like not attending a party that you didn't want to go to and where no one will realize you're not there. At Thanksgiving, you gather with your family and stuff yourself with food as if it were love—or the next best thing —then stagger back to your regular life, oversatiated and wrung out. Christmas, however, creates expectations that are never met, so you leave hungry and depressed, with an armload of things you didn't want and can't imagine why anyone would think you did.
-John Thorne

Cold Comfort

Grains in the freezer is my version of money in the bank.

Marcel Duchamp

The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.
- Marcel Duchamp

Bread Alive

I stayed up late and mixed up my new JAR Baker's Supply medium grind Dakota Mills whole wheat flour:
six cups of flour, one tablespoon of Kosher salt, one teaspoon of Fleishmann's Instant (not rapid-rise) yeast and 2.5 to 3 cups of luke-warm water. The dough will be wet. This is good.

My kitchen is 45 degrees. The rising is S-L-O-W but slow cold rising develops the flavor.

Stand back. The dough makes itself. The gluten is activated by time. Cover and put away from pets. Go to sleep or go to work. When it slowly rises (hours later) shape into orange sized balls and let sit on baking sheet for another hour. They will rise some more. Then preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Bake the mini boules super hot for 20-35 minutes depending on the flour you use. They will be the size of grapefruits and even if they aren't, they will be delicious.

Maybe I am simple minded but I never tire of the excitement of live dough!

One Cookie

I know a woman who is the Martha Stewart of Woonsocket. She bakes dozens of cookies for her family and friends. She was asked by a mutual friend: How come you are not fat. How can you resist? She said One cookie a day. Interesting. I have one -- or two cookies each time I walk through the kitchen! But I do walk up and down the stairs a million times a day going from basement to kitchen to studio etc, and all around town. Perhaps that's my justification for having another.

John Thorne

Perfection is as false an economy in cooking as it is in love, since, with carrots or potatoes as with lovers, the perfectly beautiful are all the same; the imperfect, different in their beauty, every one.
-John Thorne, Simple Cooking

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Fork Lift Staples

I have turned on a neighbor to the amazing medium grind whole wheat flour I get in 50 pound bags from the Nebraska Mill. She has a car so today we are going to get a forklift load of staples down in the no mans land next to the tractor training school where gigantic trucks are learning to navigate a parade of orange cones. Good thing they are friendly at JAR because the location is a little scary, like a place where bodies get dumped in the middle of the night. I am tempted to buy groats in place of rolled oats but I am not sure yet. Compared to JAR Bakers Supply the supermarket oats taste stale. The prices are expensive not to take advantage of, but nonetheless requires money.

My Mecca for Flour

Today we are going to JAR Baker's Supply in Lincoln RI located on Crow Point Road where Central Falls, Lincoln, and Pawtucket converge near the New England Tractor Trailer Training school. It's my favorite place to get 100 pounds of flour and oats by fork lift. They are a great company and the people are always nice. I always tell them they should paint their stairs to be a wedding cake. Maybe I should be hired to do it. I can picture it!

Keep Your Hat On

I am so excited because I think I have figured out something important.

Yesterday friends from Rhode Island who have been teaching in Cypress came by for a visit. I was so excited and so was Lily. I prepared my favorite mismatched plates, mugs, silly pickle and Christmas tree butter knives, long stem spoons, honey in a small milk bottle, and black cherry and plum jams.

I made toast and placed it in a basket wrapped in a colorful striped cloth. I changed out of my drab black and gray into a red sweatshirt. I made a huge pot of PG Tips mixed with one bag of blueberry tea.

When they arrived I was able to sit still and listen. We laughed and told stories. Even Lily and Sammy stayed nearby. It had been 12 years since I'd seen them.

The sun was shining in the window lighting up the table. Then the doorbell rang and another friend joined us with warm rolls she baked. This never happens but I was thrilled!! It was a gathering of mad hatters.

Then sadly was time for everyone to go. It ended too fast! I must do this again.

The British figured out a perfect ritual.

Maybe I will sew some more cloth napkins, the ones I made 17 years ago are rags.

The trick to staying warm in our house is: wrap a blanket around your waist and keep your hat on!

What the Gypsies Told my Grandmother while She was Still a Young Girl

by Charles Simic

War, illness and famine will make you their favorite
You'll be like a blind person watching a silent movie.
You'll chop onions and pieces of your heart
into the same hot skillet.
Your children will sleep in a suitcase tied with a rope.
Your husband will kiss your breasts every night
as if they were two gravestones.

Already the crows are grooming themselves
for you and your people.
Your oldest son will lie with flies on his hips
without smiling or lifting his hand.
You'll envy every ant you meet in your life
and every roadside weed.
Your body and soul will sit on separate stoops
chewing the same piece of gum.

Little cutie, are you for sale? the devil will say.
The undertaker will buy a toy for your grandson.
Your mind will be a hornet's nest even on your
You will pray to God but God will hang a sign
that He's not to be disturbed.
Question no further, that's all I know.

-Charles Simic, Walking the Black Cat by Charles Simic. Harcourt Brace & Company.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Charles Simic

In New Hampshire, where I live, with five months of snow and foul weather, one has a choice of dying of boredom, watching television, or becoming a writer. If not in bed, my next writing-place of choice is the kitchen, with its smells of cooking. Some hearty soup or a stew simmering on the stove is all I need to get inspired. At such moments, I‘m reminded how much writing poetry resembles the art of cooking. Out of the simplest and often the most seemingly incompatible ingredients and spices, using either tried-and-true recipes, or concocting something at the spur of the moment, one turns out forgettable or memorable dishes. All that’s left for the poet to do is garnish his poems with a little parsley and serve them to poetry gourmets.

- Charles Simic

A rusty old station wagon with wheels gone in a yard choked with weeds and other partially dismantled vehicles outside a house in need of paint and overall repair. There is a plastic sheet draped over one of the windows of the house where a beer bottle went through—or was it a gunshot the neighbors heard one night? The police inquiry, as you may guess, has been proceeding at a snail’s pace. In the meantime, the gray-haired owner, who wears a ponytail and has the upper body of a former weight-lifter over a huge belly, got rid of the chickens and the rooster he had pecking in the yard and acquired instead a bad-tempered black and white mutt, whose main purpose seems to be to guard the man’s junk, keep his ROMNEY Believe in America sign company, and bark at nosy people like me who slow down to take a closer look and make sure their eyes are not deceiving them.

- Charles Simic

Community Means . . .

Community means when the car breaks down and your tooth breaks or the boiler shuts off you are calling people you love to help fix the problems and then the cost isn't so painful.

Jon Frankel, Poet Food Writer

Read this too.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

World Peace Fantasy

I am grinding my hard red winter wheat berries by hand to tooth up my whole wheat Price Rite flour. I visited a friend and bringing bread is always nice.

If we all made food and music for each other we'd have world peace. Orchestras instead of Armies. Football fields of flat breads, mountains of broccoli and ponds of yogurt and hummus, could be nation building.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Somewhere During the Spin Cycle

by Joseph Robert Mills

Maybe it's the ball player being interviewed
on the t.v. bolted to the back wall
or the two kids playing and punching
the video machine
or the late night October wind,
but there's your brother,
drunk and crying,
running through the woods
behind your house,
his unclipped duffel
spilling clothes behind him,
and your father
sitting in the kitchen,
shirtless, gaunt,
his clenched face
as we search for a flashlight
to follow the trail
of socks and t-shirts
back to the overgrown diamond
where Ted is passed out
in deep right field
and we sit between second and third,
smoking the pack of Marlboros
your sister bought for us,
folding clothes,
and talking about where we will go
when we're his age.

Joseph Mills' Poem

The Guardian

by Joseph Mills

I don't think my brother realized all
the responsibilities involved in being
her guardian, not just the paperwork
but the trips to the dentist and Wal-Mart,
the making sure she has underwear,
money to buy Pepsis, the crying calls
because she has no shampoo even though
he has bought her several bottles recently.
We talk about how he might bring this up
with the staff, how best to delicately ask
if they're using her shampoo on others
or maybe just allowing her too much.
"You only need a little, Mom," he said,
"Not a handful." "I don't have any!"
she shouted before hanging up. Later
he finds a bottle stashed in her closet
and two more hidden in the bathroom
along with crackers, spoons, and socks.
Afraid someone might steal her things,
she hides them, but then not only forgets
where, but that she ever had them at all.

I tease my brother, "You always wanted
another kid." He doesn't laugh. She hated
her father, and, in this second childhood,
she resents the one who takes care of her.
When I call, she complains about how
my brother treats her and how she hasn't
seen him in years. If I explain everything
he's doing, she admires the way I stick up
for him. Doing nothing means I do nothing
wrong. This is love's blindness and love's
injustice. It's why I expect to hear anger
or bitterness in my brother's voice, and why
each time we talk, no matter how closely
I listen, I'm astonished to hear only love.

The Guardian by Joseph Mills, from Love and Other Collisions.

Buggy Bread

A few weeks ago I made a batch of whole wheat berries and whole (unhulled) barley. When it was cooked I ended up with a huge crock pot filled to the top! I froze small batches in little containers slightly ashamed at my inability to judge quantity.
But this week I have retrieved the containers one at a time for an instant hot cereal and vegetable dinner accompaniment. The chewy texture is fun but I imagine it is probably like eating bugs.
Yesterday I threw a batch of wheat barley 'berries' into my raw bread dough. Since my Price Rite whole wheat flour is super finely ground compared to the 50 pound bags of medium grind I get from JAR Baker's Supply, I wanted to 'texture it up'. The result was fantastic bread with a buggy texture!

Common Scents

The gray shirt I found and washed is great. Its an extra large gray tunic. I normally wear a medium but it is cozy baggy, like a thin sweatshirt. When I put it on I experienced a faint scent of sandalwood cologne from it's previous inhabitant. I do love the scent of sandalwood but still, maybe I will give it to Bill or Lily to wear for a while. I am like a dog I need my scents.

I had a boyfriend long ago who drank fenugreek tea and it made his sweat smell exotic like a spicy maple syrup. He said it was from drinking fenugreek tea. So I tried drinking it too and it was true, immediately.

We buy groceries at Price Rite and we never know what they will have in the dish soap department. I absolutely love to hand wash my dishes and even once had a dishwasher in an apartment I rented, but never used it. Washing dishes is a warm bath for my hands and meditation for my mind. Recently we bought green apple dish soap and I am crazy in love with the scent.

Once when the store was out of my brand of deodorant I bought a different scent and I was unable to concentrate all day because I smelled like my grandfather's Old Spice cologne.

I once bought leather-scented incense! I didn't even light it. I kept it in my car on the dash and the scent of ice skates permeated my car. My associations of skating at Bear Mountain as a kid came flooding back.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Cars Make No Sense

Cars make no sense to me. There's a line I wrote in an essay: What kind of sense does it make for a 113 pound housewife to get in a 5,000 pound machine to drive three blocks for a 13-ounce loaf of bread?
-Harry Crews

Social Street

Social Street was very social yesterday!

Yesterday I met a woman from Japan who just moved here. I had met her recently walking Lily. She is very sweet and she looks like Yoko Ono wearing a wide brim hat and sunglasses. She loves Lily. Yesterday we met again and this time we walked together. I told her I was walking whichever way Lily wanted to take me so we both had a tour of the city following Lily. I showed her some of my favorite buildings and she showed me a plaque on a house on Harris Ave that said something about Jimmy Carter but we both couldn't quite read it without going on the property. It turns out we have mutual friends. What an amazing day.

I ran into the lady who makes desserts at Chelo's and asked her about her NY Staten Island family after the storm. I ran into my neighbor who is the groundskeeper for the four buildings surrounding us. We talked about shoveling snow and drinking hot cocoa at three am. He was wearing skinny jeans -- I said "You're gonna have to stand in one place twice to make a shadow!" He always has aphorisms for me. So he was especially happy that I had one for him.

Precious Wisdom

Our body is precious. It is a vehicle for awakening. Treat it with care.

Wisdom makes light the darkness of ignorance.

Three things cannot be long hidden: The Sun, The Moon and The Truth.

As solid rock remains unmoved by the wind, so the wise remain unmoved by blame and praise.


Friday, November 9, 2012


I get very excited when someone is coming to visit. Suddenly I vacuum under the bed and around the boiler and all surfaces in between. I merrily cook and bake all day intoxicated by the good smells.

When the doorbell rings my Lily and I both jump up on our visitor wagging our tails and drooling. We stand in the kitchen chatting and I forget things like serving spoons and bowls, forks, plates, and napkins, because I have worked myself into such a state of excitement. But at least there's no dust under the bed.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

From Candy Corn to Egg Nog

I'm still looking for one more bag of candy corn leftover from Halloween and the egg nog is out at the farm already. I love making eggnog ice cream by pouring it on clean fresh snow. When I was a kid Baskin Robbins had apple pie ice cream and pumpkin pie ice cream. Maybe they still do but now I want to make it myself.

Windy Winter Storm Dream

Bill set alarm for 3:30 but when it rang I said NO WAY!! I was too cold to move. I waited for a flash to propel me out, an hour later.
Now I'm wearing a hat, fleece blanket wrapped around my waist and double sweatshirts while sipping hot PG Tips black tea. I use three bags to make a big pot, with one Celestial Seasonings blueberry herb tea bag. I drink it with milk and honey. Delicious.

I dreamed I saw a black wisp of smoke in the sky. It was a tornado. I ran inside to tell Bill. I saw kids toys and teddy bears fly up outside our picture window. I was prepared to cover my head. After the tornado I saw my coffee pot in the driveway. Then another tornado came this time taking the corner of our house. Neighborhood kids came in through the hole in the house and I settled them down. One kid was bloody with a bloody dog. I was thinking he's in shock. I thought the ambulance is busy. He laid down. I told the kids "do me a favor keep your eyes out for Sammy don't let him wander out". Bill ran to get plywood. I said "don't go, another storm might come", and I woke up.

Survival Mode

I have become fascinated by the early settlers survival methods.
Our neighbors give us eggs and we make bread and pumpkin pie.
I eye the cat with suspicion--
We could eat you up, I tell him!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Pumpkin Pie

I'm baking a pumpkin pie to get warm and celebrate the election and the snow!




Environmental science teacher won teacher of the year award. She drives a hummer.

A guy chain smoking with severe sunburn oil-painting outside sees me drinking water out of a plastic bottle and says the plastic will kill me.

Walk for Brains

Exercise was more effective than diet control in preventing high-fat diet-induced Alzheimer’s disease development, the authors write.

Walking our dogs saves us!

Heat and Wheat

When it comes to my daily promenade with Lily, we can't be dissuaded even though we have a yard. She won't let me and I am glad but we have to dress for it. Last year Mary Mom got Lily a red fleece coat for Christmas. Today we will walk to Blackstone Massachusetts and see about getting some home heating oil.

Our bread flour from Price Rite is good but a much finer grind than what we are used to so I will start grinding the wheat berries we have in the freezer to supplement it.

Storm is coming. I hope the Staten Island folks have shelter.

Thai Soup

My crazy chicken soup with leftover whole limes and lemons in it is really good with rooster sauce added. It tastes like a Thai soup!

Fresh Eggs, Toast and Porridge

This morning I had my postman's fresh eggs fried and my bread toasted and I defrosted the barley wheat berry and cubed potatoes from the freezer making a hot porridge. An urban farmers breakfast for staying warm in a 45 degree office.

I am reading about early American settlers and how they cooked over an open hearth and I am wondering why more urbanites don't raise rabbits for food. I am not sure I could do it since I love bunnies but that said I love chickens cows sheep and goats too. I guess it depends on how hungry we get.

Thermogenic Foods

Otherwise known as heat-producing foods, Thermogenic foods have the ability to warm the body by assisting it to create an increased amount of internal heat. Some of these foods include:

* Complex carbohydrates, which warm the body more quickly due their quick digestion.
* Winter fruits and vegetables that keep the body warm with their high anti-oxidant, mineral and vitamin content. Some of these include oranges, pomegranates, strawberries, onions, beets, broccoli, cabbage, pumpkin, sweet potato and beans. It is also recommended to eat them occasionally raw, as the body produces more internal heat in digesting raw foods.
* Whole grains such as oats, quinoa, brown rice and whole wheat that are rich in phytoochemicals, fibre and other nutrients that ensure increased body warmth.
* Seeds and nuts, whose high omega 3 content also contributes to keeping one warm.
* Hot teas and soups that warm the body quickly.
* Foods loaded with Chili and Tabasco offer a short-term, rapid heat blast to the body, but they lose their effect as quickly as the give it.

Foods that hamper the body’s immune system, cause dehydration and dampen digestion should be avoided in the winter months. This is largely because they cause the body to concentrate on detoxifying rather than creating an increased amount of heat. Foods that should be avoided when possible include alcohol, coffee, refined sugars and fried foods.
Herbs & Spices That Help Keep You Warm

There are many herbs that may be added to your cooking, drunk as a tea, taken in a capsule or tincture form. Some of these include:

* Black pepper
* Cardamom
* Cayenne
* Cinnamon
* Coriander
* Cumin
* Fennel
* Garlic
* Ginger
* Horseradish
* Nutmeg
* Tumeric

Keep Your Kidneys Warm

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the kidneys hold the life force (chi) of the human body. They are located just under the ribcage, right in the small of the back. TCM relates the kidneys to the winter element, and holds them responsible for keeping the body warm throughout the winter months. Keep the kidneys warm and functioning at an optimum level by making sure your clothes are all tucked in when outside (preventing an underlying draught), and by making sure your middle is well covered at all times.


I am celebrating with a piece of the Wrentham Trappist nuns dark chocolate! I am asleep at 8PM so the wake up was joyous!!

Warmth and Hope

My neighborhood is poor and urban and it breaks my heart when my neighbors align with the forces that harm them: voting Republican, Burger King, cable TV, pit bull breeding, illegal drugs, shady auto sales.

The children are always BRIGHT LIGHTS - and that gives me hope.

Nate Silver was my guru through the presidential race. His NYT column 538 was my obsession. Having access to good information is so important.

My house is 45 degrees but I have many layers on and a quartz heater. The trick is changing my socks and shoes often (to keep feet dry) and walking many miles.

I was wondering if riding a horse is nice and warm? Back when people kept farm animals on the ground floor they benefited from the heat rising into the residential areas of the home. I also learned yesterday that canopy beds were insulation too, keeping the warm air from drifting away.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Staying Warm

Tips on how to stay warm when winter camping--which is a regular day indoors in our 45 degree house.

Keep changing your socks! Everybody forgets that your feet sweat, and THAT can make you cold even though you are layered up.
-Farmer's Almanac

2:06 AM

Hot cereal is a godsend in our fifty degree house. The warmth stays in my belly and the public radio shows are always amazing at this hour. I am listening to the secret life of girls. My cat and dog are happy for their early breakfasts.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Salvation Army

On Thursday I spotted a fifties looking retro sleeveless dress, simple design full skirt with four thin white ribbons across the chest ending in bows on the right side. It was on the mannequin in the big picture window of the Salvation Army. I couldn't stop thinking about it. I walked by on Friday to show my husband and they had put a black fur coat on the mannequin. Good I thought, now nobody will see how fabulous this dress is while I am deciding. I could wear it for performing I told myself. It would cost more to sew a dress like this, I convinced myself. Today I went in and tried it on. The ladies that work there and another elderly lady waiting to use the dressing room were as excited as I was when I came out wearing it. It fit me like a glove. I walked home smiling and took a detour to show friends at the public library. I am convinced my grandparents Nat and Sophie are hovering over the thrift stores orchestrating my lucky finds!

Early Morning Urban Cowgirl

This is the time of year that I have to walk to get warm. This morning at 6:30 I walked to Precious Blood cemetery the wind was cold on the hill but I was able to see the pond now that the leaves are falling away. I am grateful to Lily for getting me out for a walk.

I need to be physically active to be happy. I fall into bed at night thinking who invented lying down? I admire people who dance or like my postman, walk for a living.

My mind requires fresh air and walking to incubate, contemplate and rejuvenate itself. Even as a child I did a lot of walking and thinking and looking.

I hate cars. I am a cowgirl and Lily is my baby cow.

When I got home today I made corn tortillas with pepper jack and cholula hot sauce and black coffee. A delicious cowgirl lunch at 7:30AM!

Winston Churchill

Nature has not intended mankind to work from eight in the morning until midnight without that refreshment of blessed oblivion which, even if it only lasts twenty minutes, is sufficient to renew all the vital forces.
-Winston Churchill

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Immense Loneliness Begins

A poem from Rilke's Book of Hours, which Joanna Macy translated with Anita Barrows and subtitled

Love Poems to God

You are not surprised at the force of the storm —
you have seen it growing.
The trees flee. Their flight
sets the boulevards streaming. And you know:
he whom they flee is the one
you move toward. All your senses
sing him, as you stand at the window.

The weeks stood still in summer.
The trees' blood rose. And now you feel
it wants to sink back
into the source of everything. You thought
you could trust that power
when you plucked the fruit;
now it becomes a riddle again,
and you again a stranger.

Summer was like your house: you knew
where each thing stood.
Now you must go out into your heart
as onto a vast plain. Now
the immense loneliness begins.

The days go numb, the wind
sucks the world from your senses like withered leaves.

Through the empty branches the sky remains.
It is what you have.
Be earth now, and evensong.
Be the ground lying under that sky.

Be modest now, like a thing
ripened until it is real,
so that he who began it all
can feel you when he reaches for you.


Joanna Macy

The most remarkable feature of this historical moment on Earth is not that we are on the way to destroying the world — we've actually been on the way for quite a while. It is that we are beginning to wake up, as from a millennia-long sleep, to a whole new relationship to our world, to ourselves and each other.
-Joanna Macy

The biggest gift you can give is to be absolutely present, and when you're worrying about whether you're hopeful or hopeless or pessimistic or optimistic, who cares? The main thing is that you're showing up, that you're here and that you're finding ever more capacity to love this world because it will not be healed without that. That was what is going to unleash our intelligence and our ingenuity and our solidarity for the healing of our world.
-Joanna Macy


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Rosa Jurjevics

Remembering Mom

by Rosa Jurjevics

Speaking Only in Memory (originally published in Real Simple Magazine, May 2002)

My mother died suddenly and in her sleep — with a peaceful smile on her face, my father said. I was eight when it happened, and I moved around my new life as if in a terrible dream. For the first few months, every second of every day had to be jam-packed with activity. When I stopped — stopped what I was doing or stopped looking at something or just stopped moving — it all came flooding back and the pain became unbearable.

Our house was on the prettiest block in New York City, right across the street from the General Theological Seminary. The seminary buildings were old brick, covered in ivy, and shaded by tall trees. Wisteria vines grew along the walls, dangling their fragrant purple flowers over our heads like bunches of grapes. When the days grew longer, my mother and I would stay out late on our stoop, partaking in a ritual we called Watching the People Come Home from Work, as we ate summer cherries and spat the pits down the stairs.

My mother loved simple little activities like these, and to this day they remain close to my heart. My mother and I spent most of our time together either creating or lounging. We baked, we wrote, we read and drew, but oftentimes we just reclined and talked. “What are you thinking about?” she would ask me. Always this question, “What are you thinking about?”

A few months shy of 13 years after my mother’s death, I know that grief is something that nobody can ever quite shake. My mother, once a lively and driving force in my life, exists only on paper and pressed into magnetic tape audiotape, moving and speaking only in memory. There are instances when I can remember something small and otherwise insignificant about her so well and so clearly, but these quick moments are few and far between. Our time together has ended.

Shortly after my father and I moved out of the house we had shared with my mother, I went back to it. Renovations were in progress, and the workers had left the front gate open. I went right in, palms sweating. The house was stark and empty, without a trace of us left in it. I stood on the sawdusty floor of my mother’s room and looked around the space where she had typed away at books, where we had played so many silly early-morning games. It was like standing on a grave looking down at bones, the bones of a life and time and family I knew I would never quite lay to rest.

-reposted with permission from Rosa Jurjevics,
daughter of the late Laurie Colwin

Museum of Burnt Food

My pal Phoebe says she knows when her food is done because that's when the smoke alarm goes off. In our neighborhood, this is how everyone cooks.


Lox Sherpa


Friday, November 2, 2012

Impulsive Cookery

I make no sense. I wanted a salvation army dress that I spotted in the window and ended up with a roaster chicken. It's roasting now with a whole lemon in the cavity. The chicken cutlets were the last two (on sale) in the butcher shop. So I got them and chopped them into cubes and I am stewing them with celery, onions, apples, pumpkin, olives, lemons, limes, garlic, capers, scallions, raisins, and a few prunes all in my army crock pot with salt, water, a cup of orange juice, and olive oil. I threw in red chili peppers, black pepper, salt, turmeric, cumin, oregano. I don't make decisions the way a normal cook would. I do things based on what needs to be used and what shouts at me when I open the fridge. Yes, I really do hear the vegetables speaking. My stews look like a batch of wet laundry because I throw things in whole.

We can't afford to turn on the heat so baking and cooking is the best way to get warm.

I've added broccoli. This soup tastes delicious. It tastes tropical. The lime tells my brain that there's coconut in it but there isn't.

Chocolate Nuns

The chocolate nuns have their own windmill. Next time you go to the BIG APPLE orchard in Wrentham go up the hill and visit the trappist nuns at Mount Saint Mary's Abbey 300 Arnold Street Wrentham MA. They're up early for their first prayers at 3:20 AM.

Pothier Mansion

Do you know of any daring folks who would like to live here in Woonsocket with us. The amazing and historic Governor Pothier Mansion is for sale, 85 K. Ask for Marilyn Bennett Salzberg realty.

I Dreamed

I dreamed that I put strips of masking tape on my linoleum floor to keep Lily from slipping during navigation. When I woke up I thought "What a great idea!" So now we have random strips of blue tape on the aqua linoleum. So far she just tries to avoid stepping on the tape but even that is good because it slows her down. Maybe I should cut out deliberate designs: fish, triangles, swirls, faces, carrots, forks, spoons, milk bottles, teacups, birds, snakes, and mice!


I just walked Lily in the dark. She seemed to say "now please!" after her breakfast and aspirin.

It is amazing how dark our urban neighborhood is. Nearly every streetlight is off or flickering. The elderly high rise lobby is lit up and a few apartments are lit too.

My back neighbor is walking to his car in the parking lot carrying his squishy red thermal lunch-bag. We smile and say hello. He starts up his vehicle and it sounds like a death rattle.

The moon is out and bright with a ring around it.

I see the silhouette of my rotund neighbor standing on the grassy corner with his two Jack Russell Terriers orbiting him like small planets.

I know nearly everyone, so I feel strangely comforted walking by their homes. Some lights have been on all night. Some houses are dark. And some folks have kitchen lights on as they get ready for work.

I found a tiny three-inch plastic figurine of an Indian on the sidewalk. I drop it in my bag. When I get home I see he's bare-chested, wearing a loin cloth and has face painting. His waist moves when I twist him and his arms also move. He's holding a lumpy white gourd. I position him to look like discus thrower. The disc looks like a gigantic clove of garlic. I wash the Indian with green apple soap and scrub him with my blue toothbrush and place him next to the teapot. Welcome to my world.

A Poem for Breakfast

I am not sure why exactly but I love to start my day with a poem.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Good Omens

On my walk I found a little two inch plastic dog and a mini unopened box of gumdrop Dots, remnants from last night. The gumdrop scale is huge to the plastic dog! A good omen.

Lily didn't let me stop with a wimp walk. Then she was too sore to come upstairs to my studio. I made her go nap on her princess bed. I have to be smarter next time.

Urge to bake a turkey.