Friday, December 28, 2012

Festive Kale

I tried a different approach to making my greens this Christmas by baking the garlic in oil separately and adding it to the greens after both were cooked. Here's what I did:

I rinsed three bunches of kale in a tub of water in the sink, and then chopped them on my cutting board. I loaded the greens into my big stock pot and steamed them in some leftover vegetable stock and water. At the same time my oven was up to 350 degrees so I peeled a whole bulbs worth of garlic cloves and halved and cored them and dropped them into my Pyrex measuring cup. Then I added olive oil to cover the cloves and I added red chili flakes and baked it. When the greens were done the oil baked garlic was also golden and crispy. I fished out the greens from the remaining stock and put them into another pot (I saved the stock). Then I poured the baked olive oil garlic red chili flakes mixture over the greens and added more olive oil. I shook a bunch of kosher salt on the whole mess and started adding some sweetness. I added dried sweetened cranberries and raisins, then I decided yellow would be a cheerful addition so I added a bunch of frozen corn. I tasted it and added more salt. Then I heated the greens mixture up to serving temperature.

You can use sugar or wine to sweeten if you don't feel like using raisins and cranberries. The salt-sweet-oil triad supports the greens, and the red pepper is a fun kick. You can also add roasted almonds in place of corn.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Harbor Spice

Every year during the holiday season the fish swim in an excess of cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves. Researchers have found spices, caffeine, cocaine, and pharmaceuticals when testing harbor waters in Seattle, Boston, and other cities.

See here.

Eggnog Cows

Local eggnog from local cows. Wright's Dairy has special eggnog cows!

City Horse

Lily and I walked to Wilfred's Seafood this morning to get another slab of fish. The horse behind Honey Dew Donuts was out grazing so we said hello on the way home.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Wilfred's Seafood

Wilfred's Seafood is a perfect destination because they have a great in-view tie up for my horse, Lily-dog. I walked the miles and bought great looking cod. Lily waited. The fish guys came out to see her. Did you know that there's a real live horse that lives behind Honeydew Donuts? The city doesn't allow horses, but he was grandfathered-in by the Pepin Lumber family. He wasn't out today.

Cruciferous Cravings and Pie

Steamed cauliflower dipped in homemade hummus is a terrific hot lunch for working at home. And for desert an isosceles triangle of home baked pumpkin pie with piping-hot coffee. Had I been taught math in relation to pie baking I'd have enjoyed it.

Easy Wholesome Pie Crust

I make this pie dough right in the pie pan for my bottom crust. Remember to cover edges with aluminum foil to avoid burning.

1 heaping cup of whole wheat flour
1/4 cup corn oil
1/4 cup water
1/4 sugar (don't skip) it acts as the glue
hefty pinches of salt to taste

Mix with fingers and press into pie pan. Then add whatever you want for your pie guts.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Poor Man's Hummus

I just made another batch of poor man's hummus. Chick peas cooked all morning then I drained them saving the liquid for other things. Then I added smooth natural peanut butter, salt, red wine vinegar, cumin, red pepper, and garlic to the chick peas and blended them. Fabulous!

Stage Set

I grew up on a stage set and all the actors recited their lines each day and night. The bored, angry, mentally ill queen had the starring role with red lipstick and many tricks up her sleeve. Nobody suspected the drama was invented to satisfy her alone. Even the family deerhound got gallstones.


I feel so virtuous when my wash is swishing around while I putz trying to accomplish things at my desk. I am not a multi-tasker by any means and each time I try to be I forget the other thing I am doing. If I am baking breads, simmering soup or reheating my tea, I forget.

Last week I was on my way to the diner in the neighborhood and I was halfway down the street when I realized there was no need for the red and black leash clutched tightly in my hand because I deliberately didn't bring my dog this time. This is why I don't drive! I forget to do things like close the doors or turn on the car's lights at night. Why are all these people shouting and waving?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Toast is Biscotti!

A few weeks ago it dawned on me, toast is biscotti! I love biscotti. Even my super deluxe Mercedes Benz of toasters needs two rounds to toast my bread thereby making it thrice baked, triscotti!

Crackers and Glasses

Last night I made crackers or was it hard tack, now I think it was the bread of affliction, to go with my home made chicken soup. My husband, after the first bite, was worried about cracking his teeth. What recipe did you use? How to make kitchen tiles from home ingredients, I said.

I suggested he drop the crackers which looked exactly like unmarked wooden scrabble pieces, into the soup. Surprisingly they were even more delicious this way. After supper we ran off to get coffee and cauliflower at our temple to food: Price Rite and I ran into my friends standing at the red pyramid of Folger's. On the way out I decided to buy two religious candles, the kind in tall glass jars with illustrations of saints. As a child of no religion I am crazy over all religious art schlocky or not.

I was lucky when my lens fell out, it landed on the carpet like last time and I found the bacteria sized screw. AMAZING You'd think THAT would be the hard part. I put on my magnifying glasses that made my fingers the size of Cuban cigars. Maybe this is the problem I thought and got my old glasses from 20 years ago which were only vaguely magnifying. No this isn't good. I went back to the Cuban cigars. After the first hour and a half of struggling I took a shower to think. Then I consulted the genie box and the advice suggested using needle nose pliers to repair glasses so I got that far, holding the screw with the needle nose and thought, great, I've attached it, I was done--but I couldn't attach it to the bottom piece of the frame!

After another fifty rounds of struggling to do my repair-- and a foggy finger-printy lens which was really bothering me, I stopped. I wanted to polish the glass but imagined dropping it on the tile bathroom floor and having it shatter. Then to wait six weeks until delivery of a new one. C'mon now can't we fix this? We've done this before! With multiple stress induced hot flashes and magnifying glass induced headache I decided to get help.

I called Duquette Family Eye Care and explained my plight. They were lovely and said "C'mon in, we'll be happy to fix it" I brought Lily since she needed her walk anyway and I remembered they have a railing in view where I could tie her up momentarily. Perfect. Duquette is right downtown on Pond Street next to the Dept of Motor Vehicles House of Brides and the Roaster House and is virtually around the corner.

They fixed my eyeglasses for free and Lily waited outside charming the patients waiting for their eye exams. The lovely Ms. Duquette appeared and said Merry Christmas and fixed them in her laboratory upstairs. She smiled returning them to me all repaired and clean! Thank god for kindness in this world. Now I see I was trying to put the screw in from the top of the glasses facing down - but it was supposed to be attached from the bottom facing up. It's okay to ask for help.

I did always want glasses as a kid and faked the eye exam in grade school to try to get them. I also faked all standard achievement tests. . . filling in random holes. I even recited the alphabet out of order for my third grade teacher. By that time I already had shrinks and doctors galore -- my attitude was bring 'em on. Take me to school on a stretcher!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Leonard Cohen

Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.
-Leonard Cohen


I am making oat-wheat crackers and they are delicious. Stay tuned. I have a feeling there will be many more experiments.

Chicken Fat

I skimmed the congealed chicken fat off the stock and saved it in a jar. It smells fabulous. Perhaps I could make a shrine to my ancestors and burn a wick in it! Anyway I am saving it until I get a good idea. Golden schmaltz, heartburn in a jar! I chopped carrots and celery and added wheat berries and barley to the gelatinous soup. I will add the cooked chicken and some corn too when it's heating up at dinner time.

I just mixed oats, and wheat flour, with water, oil, salt, and sugar to roll out for home made crackers. I think my love of clay transferred to dough. I am fearless about dough! As my grandmother would say about a set of ingredients "What could be bad?"

Early Part

My goal is to make a goal.
to do my daily work, daily.
and be really redundant. really.
and not eat and drink every time I walk through the kitchen. 5,000 times a day-- probably more but I can't count above five thousand.
My other goal if I need to procrastinate is to clip the cats nails, and scoop his poop
and skim the fat off the chicken soup.
I have to try for achievable goals.
Oh, and take a shower and practice my sax,
And walk Lily.
I am stale and exhausted by the afternoon. I was asleep at 7PM.
Today radio is OFF. All five of them!
Too many nightmares.
I am only vital at the early part of the day.

Sherwood Anderson

On the trees are only a few gnarled apples that the pickers have rejected. They look like the knuckles of Doctor Reefy's hands. One nibbles at them and they are delicious. Into a little round place at the side of the apple has been gathered all its sweetness. One runs from tree to tree over the frosted ground picking the gnarled, twisted apples and filling his pockets with them. Only the few know the sweetness of the twisted apples.
― Sherwood Anderson, Winesburg, Ohio

A few stray white bread crumbs lay on the cleanly washed floor by the table; putting the lamp upon a low stool he began to pick up the crumbs, carrying them to his mouth one by one with unbelievable rapidity. In the dense blotch of light beneath the table, the kneeling figure looked like a priest engaged in some service of his church. The nervous expressive fingers, flashing in and out of the light, might well have been mistaken for the fingers of the devotee going swiftly through decade after decade of his rosary.
― Sherwood Anderson

Sunday, December 16, 2012


I'm simmering a chicken carcass in leftover broccoli stock along with carrots.

Tassajara Pancakes

I made these and they are AMAZING and well worth the egg white whipping stage!
Whole Wheat Pancakes
from The Tassajara Bread Book

2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (you can use unbleached all-purpose or whatever flour you have, I promise)
3 tsps baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp brown sugar or honey
2 cups milk
1/2 cup oil or melted butter
3 egg yolks, beaten
3 egg whites, stiffly beaten

[Serves 6 perhaps]

Sift the flour with the baking powder, salt, and sugar. If using honey, add it to the milk and oil. Beat the milk and oil into the beaten egg yolks.
Combine the milk mixture with the dry ingredients until just blended, and then fold in the stiffly beaten egg whites.
Cook on a greased griddle or frying pan. May be made any size–the larger ones will take longer to cook through.

Variations: May be made with fruit puree (apple, apricot, peach, pear) in place of the milk.
Fruit chunks may be folded into the batter. Blueberries, bananas, and apples are particularly good.
Nut butters may be added to the wet ingredients.
Roasted nuts or sesame or sunflower seeds may be folded into the batter.
Cornmeal, rolled oats, barley flour, or buckwheat flour (1/2 cup) may be substituted in place of an equivalent amount of whole wheat flour.
For waffles, use only 1 1/4 cups of milk.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Wheat Berry + Barley

I've been hooked on making crock pots full of wheat berry and unhulled barley and then topping bowls of it with whatever I have been making during the week. Today it was avocado and red onion and olives and leftover aldente broccoli and chic peas. I am addicted to red onions and red chili flakes.

Great Sandwich

Sourdough toast mayo avocado, red onion, green olives, mashed chic peas.


I dreamed there were newborn golden puppies coming through a vertical tube they were supposed to use their muscles to hang on vertically. I reached up to pet them and they began resting on my hand. I notice what looked like a newborn pink rats hand and see that it is a human man newborn-rat-pink and fully formed as a man squirming like an inchworm. I pick him up and show him to someone and he suddenly morphs into a fourteen inch high rigid stick sculpture of a man. I thought I must've broken the spell. This had been a secret just for me.

Years Later

She might die, my step-father said. I immediately ducked into the dark pantry closet hiding my smile between the cereal boxes. She caught pneumonia after the gallbladder surgery and was still in the hospital recuperating. We visited. I pictured the gallbladder to be an organ that is normally the size of a catchers mitt tucked under her ribs. Don't let me fall asleep she said to my step-brother. She was sitting upright in a wheelchair, closing her eyes. Years later he told me he felt she was testing him. Years later I learn the gallbladder is the size of a green-bean.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Britt's Pickles

Britt has always been fascinated by the health benefits and old world wisdom contained in the process of creating and consuming fermented foods — sauerkraut, known as the poor man’s penicillin; kimchi, and naturally-fermented pickled…anything.

My father was raised in New Orleans, and the influence of his culture on the foods in our Connecticut home were unmistakable – there was always a bevy of condiments on the table, including spice mixes, sauces, and pickled you-name-it – beans, okra, peppers.

Over the past decade in the late summer I have put up a variety of pickled vegetables using produce that I grew or bought at the local farmers market. When I moved back to Seattle in 2010, I began to experiment with fermenting cucumbers with garlic and spices into half sour and full sour pickles, cabbage into sauerkraut, and napa cabbage and a medley of other vegetables with chili and ginger paste into kimchi. I sent samples out to family and friends, and it soon became clear that there was a need for great tasting, naturally fermented, fresh-packed, live, nutritious foods. And I decided to build a business that serves the local market and community of customers and whenever possible local growers.

-Britten Eustis

The Table

What is missing in our current society is the ritual of shared home cooked family meals without the litany of complaints and dietary restrictions. Didn't our mothers teach us anything about being gracious? When you go to someone's house you do not fax them a menu of instructions in advance or in any way try to control the outcome of the meal. You must take the risk of submitting and allow yourself to receive what the hosts have to give. Have we all been so brainwashed to be consumers and to shop that we cannot accept the role of gracious guest or host? Has our consumer corporate culture and the climate of social media replaced what little we remember of face-to-face etiquette? Let's bring back the ritual of the tea party and the sacred altar of the table.

Aroma Therapy

I get nervous and excited when people plan to come visit. The cure is to do a quick vacuum, set the table, and then turn on the oven and bake like a madwoman. The aromas take over like a magic spell.

Yesterday I roasted a six pound chicken and made a pumpkin pie and a batch of hermits. I defrosted the wheat berry barley mixture and steamed up some broccoli for a perfect supper. Why does a perfect meal stay with you like a great concert or poem?

This morning I baked six boules. I am already dreaming about a chicken sandwich.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ice Cold Sunshine

When I move into receive mode, my energy suddenly shrinks and my body feels too big for me, like Alice in Wonderland. It happens every other season. Perhaps it is a rest from all of the jumping around and noshing. The contemplative oversleeping season has begun. It's all good, especially in the sunny ice cold.

There was a two-inch peach-colored plastic sea horse on the asphalt in the alley, behind the barbershop. A misspelled sign on the barbershop door read "Closed, deth in family," scrawled in black magic marker on a white index card. Down the road behind Rite Aid a garbage truck was getting two new tires.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Human Error

Human error in the age of the robot.

To Know a Person. . .

Italian: (Dialect) Pe canosce nu cresc-teine te c'eda magnie 'ziembra nu tumbere de seale.
(Literally) To know a person you have to eat together 50 kilos of salt. (Meaning) It takes a lifetime to consume 50 kilos of salt, so too it takes a lifetime to get to know someone really well.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Roald Dahl

Whipped cream isn't whipped cream at all if it hasn't been whipped with whips, just like poached eggs isn't poached eggs unless it's been stolen in the dead of the night.
-Roald Dahl, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Roasted Cauliflower

I love cauliflower and it's delicious when roasted.

Preheat oven to 450, F. Slice cauliflower any way you want and then drizzle with olive oil. Add fresh garlic too. Roast for ten minutes and stir. Bake 6-10 minutes more and enjoy with salt and pepper. I roast mine in cast iron frying pan or a Pyrex baking dish.

We ate our cauliflower with barley and wheat berries and a batch of boiled chic peas.


I am proud to be an American. Because an American can eat anything on the face of this earth as long as he has two pieces of bread.
-Bill Cosby

Rice is great if you're really hungry and want to eat two thousand of something.
-Mitch Hedberg

Thomas Lux

Refrigerator, 1957

by Thomas Lux

More like a vault -- you pull the handle out
and on the shelves: not a lot,
and what there is (a boiled potato
in a bag, a chicken carcass
under foil) looking dispirited,
drained, mugged. This is not
a place to go in hope or hunger.
But, just to the right of the middle
of the middle door shelf, on fire, a lit-from-within red,
heart red, sexual red, wet neon red,
shining red in their liquid, exotic,
aloof, slumming
in such company: a jar
of maraschino cherries. Three-quarters
full, fiery globes, like strippers
at a church social. Maraschino cherries, maraschino,
the only foreign word I knew. Not once
did I see these cherries employed: not
in a drink, nor on top
of a glob of ice cream,
or just pop one in your mouth. Not once.
The same jar there through an entire
childhood of dull dinners -- bald meat,
pocked peas and, see above,
boiled potatoes. Maybe
they came over from the old country,
family heirlooms, or were status symbols
bought with a piece of the first paycheck
from a sweatshop,
which beat the pig farm in Bohemia,
handed down from my grandparents
to my parents
to be someday mine,
then my child's?
They were beautiful
and, if I never ate one,
it was because I knew it might be missed
or because I knew it would not be replaced
and because you do not eat
that which rips your heart with joy.

-Thomas Lux

Italian Eating and Drinking Proverbs

Italian: A tavola non si invecchia.
English: At the table with good friends and family you do not become old.

Italian: Pan di sudore, miglior sapore.
English: (Literally) Bread that comes out of sweat, tastes better. (Meaning) If you have to work hard for your bread, it tastes better than if you don't.

Italian: A chi trascura il poco manchera pane e fuoco.
English: (Literally) He who disregards the little will miss the bread and fire. (Equivalent) Stop and smell the roses. Or, Be grateful for what you have.

Italian: Il pane apre tutte le bocche.
English: Bread opens all mouths.

Italian: A mangiar questa minestra o saltar questa fincestra.
English: (Literally) Either eat this soup or jump out this window. (Equivalent) Take it or leave it. And/or Stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Italian: Belle parole non pascono i gatti.
English: (Literally) Fine words don't feed cats. (Meaning) The poor don't need speeches, they need food.

Italian: Perdersi in un bicchier d'acqua.
English: (Literally) To lose oneself in a glass of water. (Equivalent) To make a mountain out of a molehill.

Italian: Amici e vini sono meglio vecchie.
English: Friends and wine are best aged.

Italian: Il vino e buono se l'ostessa e bella.
English: Wine is good if the landlady is beautiful.

Italian: Esse nufesso qui dice male di macaroni.
English: One has to be an idiot to speak badly of macaroni.

Italian: (Dialect) Pani i casa muzzica [mordi] e basa [bacia].
English: Bread made at home you bite and you kiss.

Italian: U bonu pani e finu a pezza, u bonu vinu e finu a fezza.
English: (Literally) The last bread is good to the last crumb, and the last bottle of wine is good to the last drop. (Meaning) When you don't have much, and what little you have is almost finished, then you really appreciate that last piece of bread and that lost drop of wine.

Italian: (Dialect) Mangia pocch, mangia pian, va de lontan se semper allegher se te voeuret staa san.
English: Eat little, eat slowly, go far and always be happy if you want to stay healthy.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Caroline Knapp

In one of the largest surveys of its kind to date, nearly 30,000 women told researchers at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine that they'd rather lose weight than attain any other goal, a figure that alone suggests just how complicated the issue of appetite can be for women.

This is the primary female striving? The appetite to lose appetite?

In fact, I suspect the opposite is true: that the primary, underlying striving among many women at the start of the millennium is the appetite for appetite: a longing to feel safe and secure enough to name one's true appetites and worthy and powerful enough to get them satisfied.
― Caroline Knapp, Appetites: Why Women Want

Double Dough

Last night I realized my dough didn't rise because I forgot to add yeast. So I added the leftover 'live' pizza dough I had in my fridge. Overnight the two doughs co-mingled and this morning the dough rose. I am baking it now.

Women are like Sardines

in Italian: E femene xe come e sardee, buta via ea testa tuto el resto ex bon.
Women are like sardines -- throw out the heads, all the rest is good.

in Italian: Xe pi le done che varda i omani che le stele che varda la tera.
There are more women who look at men than there are stars that look at the earth.


Lucky Latke

I was so excited to make latkes I made them at lunch yesterday. I grated potato and drained it and then grated onion and added salt pepper and egg. I used my garlic infused oil in the pan. I rolled the potato egg and onion mixture in cornmeal because I was too lazy to go to the cellar chest freezer to refill the flour. They came out great. Then my husband got some flour. The batch made with flour wasn't as good. Improvisation can lead to great discoveries! I will do this again!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Comfort Me

I read cookbooks for comfort: Laurie Colwin, John Thorne, and Marion Cunningham are my favorites.


Mangia bene e caca forte, e non aver paura della morte.
-Tuscan Proverb

Garlic, I Love You!

My new phase is garlic confit. I bake garlic in olive oil. When garlic browns to a golden toasty roast I pour it over boiled wheat berries and barley and eat it with black pepper. I also dip veggies in it and brush it on pizza dough. Next, I am ready to cover my pillowcase with it.

The miracle of the oil is being celebrated ahead of schedule. I made eggplant Parmesan last weekend. I just peeled another clove of garlic to bake in olive oil while I am at my desk. It smells so good, I am salivating.

Charles Simic

I would have liked to own a small restaurant and do my own cooking. The dishes I like are mostly Mediterranean, so you'd have been served squid, octopus, lamb sausages, eggplant, olives, anchovies.... I'd hire my poet friends to be waiters. Mark Strand would look great in a white jacket wiping with a napkin the dust on some wine bottle of noble vintage.
-Charles Simic

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Spinach Provolone Pizza

When I stepped out with Lily for our afternoon walk I suddenly thought of what to make for supper. A pizza! I made a whole wheat dough with a little bit of olive oil thrown in and a sprinkle of cornmeal and semolina for good measure, and yeast and a pinch of sugar and salt and I kneaded it. Then the dough rested so 30 minutes later I was able to stretch it out very thin and I baked it hot. I brushed it with olive oil and some tomato sauce and freshly rinsed spinach and slices of provolone and baked it some more. It was fabulous!

Alden Nowlan

Great Things Have Happened

by Alden Nowlan

We were talking about the great things
that have happened in our lifetimes;
and I said, "Oh, I suppose the moon landing
was the greatest thing that has happened
in my time." But, of course, we were all lying.
The truth is the moon landing didn't mean
one-tenth as much to me as one night in 1963
when we lived in a three-room flat in what once had been
the mansion of some Victorian merchant prince
(our kitchen had been a clothes closet, I'm sure),
on a street where by now nobody lived
who could afford to live anywhere else.
That night, the three of us, Claudine, Johnnie and me,
woke up at half-past four in the morning
and ate cinnamon toast together.

"Is that all?" I hear somebody ask.

Oh, but we were silly with sleepiness
and, under our windows, the street-cleaners
were working their machines and conversing in Italian, and
everything was strange without being threatening,
even the tea-kettle whistled differently
than in the daytime: it was like the feeling
you get sometimes in a country you've never visited
before, when the bread doesn't taste quite the same,
the butter is a small adventure, and they put
paprika on the table instead of pepper,
except that there was nobody in this country
except the three of us, half-tipsy with the wonder
of being alive, and wholly enveloped in love.

- Alden Nowlan, What Happened When He Went to the Store for Bread.

Baking and Boiling

I made another tray of hermits today and they came out even better. It proves my theory that making something a bunch of times is the way to perfect it. Why does the ice cold air go so well with gingerbread?

I made a batch of oatmeal and vat of un-hulled barley and wheat berries in my crock pot for freezing in small containers, perfect for last minute suppers. I love to make my own fast food.

Alfred Hitchcock

Revenge is sweet and not fattening.
-Alfred Hitchcock

Jon Frankel

I'm reposting this from Jon Frankel's blog the Last Bender.
Wild Boar Ham Roast

Our Thanksgiving celebration is a pagan feast that lasts 3 days. It is not a patriotic holiday in our family nor do we pray. But the family assembles for 3 days of eating, drinking and talking. Talking in all of its forms. Ranting. Discussion. Argument. Dispute. Sarcasm. Storytelling, jokes, puns and reminiscence. Verbal sport is played instead of football. The only time we’re quiet is when we’re chewing. We go through a pound of coffee a day. We drink gallons of wine. It is a Gargantuan event that leaves me wan and pale, with sore vocal cords and a distended stomach and a resentful liver.

Like any good bacchanal it is ritualized frenzy, and the rituals have to do with food. I sometimes tinker with the dishes and always hear about it later. So Wednesday is a buffet of Italian dishes, focaccia, sausages and salamis, caponata, roasted red peppers, bread, cheese, lentils and the like. Thursday is the usual. Friday is what I think of as the elegant meal, always built around wild game shot by my brother-in-law Karl. This year he brought wild boar, sow actually. Wild pig is not difficult to cook. It tastes much like domestic pork only more so and is of course much leaner. As with any kind of pork I am more and more convinced that low’n’slow is the road to tenderness. That and not overcooking it. The sweet spot is 150-155. Do not go to 180! If you want pulled pork buy domestic.

Wild pork does not need a long marinade, though it will take it if you must. There are many brined and wined recipes out there. This is what I did with the 8 pound, bone-ham.

First, I removed silverside and some connective tissue, but I left the fat on. If it had been an older boar hog I would have removed the fat. But with a young sow it is fine to leave the dense fat on. Rub it over with salt. I made a liquid rub: 2T of juniper berries crushed, ¼ cup chopped fresh rosemary, 1t cracked black pepper, 1/3 cup chopped garlic, 2 T red wine vinegar, a splash of red wine, and ½ cup olive oil. Mix this thoroughly and rub and slather it on the pork. Put the ham aside. Chop a cup each of onion, celery and carrot and spread it in a roasting pan. Put the ham in fat side up and drape the ham with slices of bacon. Put it into a 275 degree oven for 5-6 hours, checking the temperature frequently towards the end. Once the roast has cooked for a few hours start rotating it once an hour so it cooks evenly. If you want it browned (and I did) finish with a 450 degree oven, just until it crisps up. The roast can and should rest for an hour or more. Its internal temperature should be about 155. This is enough to kill anything normal. For a sauce I soaked dried porcini mushrooms, about a half cup, in hot water. Strain the liquid and reserve. Rinse the mushrooms and chop. Pour off the oil in the roasting pan and heat it on the stove. Deglaze with red wine, add stock and the mushroom soaking liquid and mushrooms and boil until reduced, scraping the pan with a wooden spoon. We ate this with rosemary roasted potatoes, a tossed green salad, cabbage braised over low heat for an hour with garlic, vinegar and bacon, and a wild rice and wheat berry salad with red onion, clementines, parsley, garlic, pecans, dried cranberries, apples, oregano, walnut oil and red vinegar. The wine was robust: Primitivo, Valpolicello, Amarone, etc. Of course, polenta would have been godly, but you can’t have everything, even at a bacchanal.

Jon Frankel

This is reposted from Jon Frankel's blog The Last Bender
Tales of Turkey

Fresh local turkeys are only available at this time of year so I usually stock up. There are all kinds of options, from organic to toxic. At the coop there are frozen natural turkeys from Vermont, at $2.99 a pound, as well as fresh natural turkeys and fresh organic ones. Organic turkeys go for anywhere from 4.50-5.50 a pound. In the past I’ve bought these expensive birds. McDonald farm raises a delicious bird, plump, yes, but not a fat, unhealthy, greasy bird with yellow skin and breasts like Dolly Parton. The birds are leaner, with strong thighs and long breast meat. When I lived in NY I would sometimes by a ‘wild’ turkey from the farmer’s market. These were domestically raised wild birds, I think. Certainly they were not actual wild turkeys from the woods. But they were much leaner than even pasture raised, free range turkeys. Wild turkey is lean and its body is totally different from a domestic one. They have strong backs and long legs and the breast meat lies practically flat against the bone. The flavor is not exactly gamey. They are not like ducks or geese. The meat is white and tender, if cooked just to temperature and kept moist with olive oil, butter or, my favorite, bacon. The best wild bird I ever cooked was one shot by my brother-in-law. I draped the breast with bacon and stuffed bacon in-between the skin and the flesh, and liberally rubbed the meat with olive oil, garlic and rosemary. Then we roasted it in the old, beat up electric wall oven in my sister’s ancient, unrenovated farmhouse kitchen. The turkey came out with an intensity of flavor that I remember to this day. It was aromatic of the woods and fields that this tall, absolutely magnificent bird struts through. (There is a joke that the turkey thinks it’s beautiful because it can only see itself from the neck down).

The domesticated version lacks the majesty of a wild turkey but a free-ranging bird has deep flavor and a chewy texture, not the mush of factory meat. This year I’ll buy 4 turkeys, two from a local farmer, Autumn Harvest, and two from Outboard Dave, a guy my sister and brother-in-law know on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, who raises chickens and turkeys. I’m paying the farmer $3.50 a pound and Outboard Dave about 2-3, $45 bucks for each turkey. I’ll roast the biggest turkey and cut the meat off of one, using the carcass to make a rich stock for the sauce. The other two I’ll freeze, cut into pieces or whole, for later use.

To make the stock I brown the carcass and giblets with onions, carrots, celery and garlic, as well as some leek tops, in the oven. To facilitate this I’ll rub olive oil, a tiny bit of salt and pepper and tomato paste over the pieces. When it is bronzed I deglaze the pan with white wine and put it all in a stock pot with water and bring it slowly to a simmer. Throughout the day, into the stock pot will go the trimmings of parsley, sage, rosemary (no thyme), parsnips, carrots, celery, onion ends and what have you. After six hours I’ll strain it, add a whole bottle of wine and then reduce it until it is dark and thick. The smell fills the house. Hours before dinner you can taste gravy.

I sauté the livers with shallots, white wine and sage and we eat them on toast.

The turkey I prepare simply: lemon, salt, pepper, rosemary, sage, garlic and olive oil. This I massage into the skin and into the meat. I stuff the cavity with 3 whole lemons pierced with a chopstick in several places and a little chopped celery, carrot, garlic and onion. I make a bed of aromatics in the roasting pan and roast the bird breast side down, with cheese cloth or foil to protect the skin, in a 450 degree oven until it is well browned. Then I flip it (with a lot cursing!) breast side up, lower the temperature to 325 and roast for about 3-4 hours. Often it is done hours before dinner. (we eat at 7!) That’s no problem. A turkey should rest, and it can rest for hours and still be warm. I make a pan gravy, a reduction of wine and the rich stock. Then it’s the usual: mashed potatoes, with ungodly amounts of butter and heavy cream, onion, sage and apple stuffing with sour dough bread and lots of parsley, kale cooked with bacon and a tossed salad. I do make a vegan bowl of the mashed potatoes for myself, and a little stuffing without pan drippings for the vegetarian. The carcass becomes a minestrone soup. The leftover stock I freeze for future gravies, and the turkeys in the freezer feed us many times throughout the winter: stewed turkey thighs, turkey piccata, what have you. I love turkey!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sweet Potato Soup Gloup

I just made another soup that is really a gloup. I took a bunch of baked sweet potatoes with their skins on and chopped them up and blended them with buttermilk and regular milk. I added Adobo, cumin, freshly ground black pepper and salt. I heated it up. It's delicious!

Lavender Fog

This morning lavender fog, warm air and bare trees. I just baked seven small sourdough molasses oat boules.

I just realized all toast is biscotti - twice baked.

I am thinking of using my pizzelle maker to make crackers.

A Simple Delight

A baked sweet potato with a dash of Adobo is a perfect portable lunch! In many countries they are sold from vendor carts as street food.

Monday, December 3, 2012


I just made a tray of hermits as brownies. They are delicious with tea. I am wondering if I could convert this recipe into biscotti!

Recipe for Hermit Brownies
preheat 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
1 and 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 vanilla (optional)
1 teaspoon ginger
1 tablespoon of cocoa (optional)
1 cup raisins

Winter Bread

Now that the nights are longer I am baking my winter breads. I blend medium grind whole wheat flour, sourdough starter, kosher salt, dark molasses, Fleishmann's yeast, rolled oats, cornmeal, and water. I bake these loaves a little bit cooler (at 400) instead of the usual 450 due to the molasses.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Eggplant Parmesan

Last night after hours of parading in the raw cold, we came home and fried up eggplant slices and made eggplant Parmesan. It was delicious. It's my favorite food but it is the second time I have made it. Crazy! I must refine my method of squeezing the eggplant (a bookpress?) and make it more often. Glad to have a slow Sunday.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Nixon-Nosed Eggplant

I am alone all but a few minutes a day but I enjoy when people come for tea now and again. So far tea is not something that people shy away from. Secretly I want to serve my friends a twelve course meal and stay up all night telling stories but these things take time - or maybe we are too frightening. Our house is not subtle and neither are we.
I just squeezed the bitter juices out of 55 eggplant slices. I will make eggplant Parmesan to eat after the parade. One eggplant had a NIXON nose and curly Q hair.

Carolyn Given, Hilarious

My Brain Was Abducted by Christmas Custard by Carolyn Given
Read here.

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