zirconium: snapshot of my healthiest hollyhock plant (French hollyhock)
The subject line is from "The Church in the Wildwood," a hymn Ann Green apparently used to sing whenever she went back to Mississippi. Made a cheese ball with pickled peppers for her service (because, by the time I got around to figuring out what to pull together on a school night, it was too late to get started on benne wafers, and I have in fact lived long enough to recognize that), and brought sweet potato crackers to go with it.

Lawd, this week.

Transplanted the geranium from Desire to my front yard a week ago. Three days later, every leaf but the smallest one looked infected. Can't tell if that corner is fungally cursed -- last year's results were wildly, weirdly mixed -- or if said geranium just doesn't like Tennessee clay, even though I aerated the hole and mixed in some compost and tried not to get its feet too wet. The French hollyhock a few feet away survived the winter and now looks glorious. Perhaps it's yet another chapter in the universe's attempt to school me in not trying so damn hard that I get in my own way. (Which, not incidentally, is what a waltz partner told me at the Orange Peel a couple of months ago.)

Lawd, this week.

Anyway, I binned all the leaves except for that sweet little leaf at the tip of one stalk, and we'll see if what emerges -- if anything -- looks better. My car reeks of pine chips because I've been too busy to unload eight cubic feet of mulch from it. I would probably do best to compost the mallow seedlings in my sunroom because I waited too long to transplant those, but it's nice to know that the dozens more in the pet food tub are likely still viable.

I am sipping Hild Elbling Sekt and snacking on Milano salami at this hour, because a gal's gottta unwind. Some good dancing tonight. I was tempted to road-trip to Blue Moon later today, especially since there is a waltz workshop on the schedule, and because Jed-who-drives-up-from-Huntsville is a favorite partner, but there is too damn much to do right here at my kitchen counter (so much that I'm going to have to skip a choir thing already on my calendar). Maybe next year...

A singing thing that did happen this week: singing backing vocals on a video, at Jeff Coffin's studio, and chatting with him about his upcoming trips to Tuva and Myanmar. And he's the second person I talked to in person in Nashville this week about Tuvan singers. I do like my life.

My Garden & Gun subscription has kicked in (read, frequent flyer miles from an airline I don't fly that frequently on), and Roy Blount Jr.'s column has beautifully paired opening and closing sentences. The opening sentence: "I'm walking up Dauphine Street in New Orlenas when a man turns the corner carrying a tuba and walking an enormous hairy dog, simultaneously."

A message I sent to a friend in Asheville yesterday: "PUT THE PHONE DOWN and go ogle art at Blue Spiral or eat a marshmallow at French Broad Chocolates or pet the crocheted coats on the cats near Laughing Seed Café."

Wall Street, Asheville
zirconium: photo of squeezy Buddha on cell phone, next to a coffee mug (buddha and cocoa)
Toward the end of last month, a close friend ordered me to sleep more in 2017. Which I agreed would be a good idea, so I am hitting the hay in a few minutes instead of seeding kumquats for marmalade. But I have sterilized some lids and put the pint jars in the dishwasher, so "guessing game jam" may be on the horizon.Read more... )

The kumquats, Meyer lemons, and grapefruits (plus an orange) are from the New Orleans backyard grove my big sis shares with her ex. I made sorbet last night with some of the lemons (using a Mark Bittman recipe as a base, with the advice of several blogs on making ice cream sans machine), and spiked a pitcher of water with slices of lemon and ginger.

making sorbet without a machine

Today's attempt at dinner was passable, even though the BYM later commented that the salad "smelled like feet." Really, the preparation of everything is experimental. I'm going to sleep on that. :)
zirconium: photo of Greek style coffee, Larnaca, October 2011 (coffee in Cyprus)
Hullo-ullo-ullo! We are starting out slow, 2017 and I, with cleaning and cooking and tugging at weeds between light spatter-downs of rain. It is a good way to get going -- the pedal will have to hit the metal soon enough. Today's subject line alludes to an article in the Holiday 2016 issue of Edible Asheville, about Carolina Ground, where grain is milled.


[Tara Jensen's] baking practice is influenced by her desire to keep a relaxed attitude, even when the fire is hot and her soul is weary. "What makes a baker exceptional is the ability to recover from mistakes without going off the rails," Jensen says.


The BYM peered into the oven as I was cleaning or prepping something else.

He: Whacha makin'?
Me: Cornbread.
He: Oooh... but, tell me this isn't some superstition thing.
Me: No. Although it does contain black-eyed peas.
He: DAMMIT.
Me: ... because I don't have to use as much milk.

I was actually thinking of a spoonbread recipe I'd looked at earlier when I said that; the bean variation of Bittman's cornbread recipe involves 2 eggs, 1 cup milk, and no white flour -- not a significant savings in the milk department, variation-wise. But my main goal was to try something new that would go with the beef burgundy from the freezer. I also made lemon-garlic kale salad, albeit with pecans and gorgonzola instead of almonds and parmesan.

It is true that I picked up the can of black-eyed peas yesterday at the store, because hey, there it was on the endcap, and then I put kale and kielbasa into the basket as well, thinking the three would make a good combination for lunch. But what I actually craved this morning was I grew up calling "mee whun" -- a simpler version of this rice noodle recipe. The version I prepared today contained just bean threads, cabbage, carrots, garlic, and pork.

bean thread package

first lunch of 2017

Other stirrings: one rejection reached me yesterday; I sent two submissions to editors today.

Closing the day with the good kind of hot water: a mug of Li Shan Pear Mountain tea and a hot bath. I'm pondering what to replace tired tulips with, in the shade beds in my front yard, but the truth is also that I might be best off tending to just the soil itself for a long while. I had the old gonna-fail-two-classes-because-I-didn't-go-to-them nightmare this morning -- my subconscious hasn't developed any subtlety over the years. Basics first, you imbecile. Right. Got it. On with the hoe.
zirconium: Photo of cat snoozing on motorcycle on a sunny day in Jersualem's Old City. (cat on moto)
Today's mailman asked about the dog, having not seen her for a while. He said she was one of the few who didn't bark at him. I might be snuffling as I type. Read more... )
Finally: I started this entry some hours ago. Night has fallen, so let there be light.

first night
zirconium: photo of Greek style coffee, Larnaca, October 2011 (coffee in Cyprus)
It took time to harvest the Christmas (aka Prairie Fire) peppers, some of which were hidden behind and below many leaves:

pepper at the heart of a bush

Read more... )

processing

Aug. 1st, 2016 09:31 pm
zirconium: photo of pumpkin on wire chair (pumpkin on chair)
It is Ewe Day according to the Jacobin calendar (h/t [personal profile] okrablossom), and Lammastide in other circles. There has indeed been some harvesting and preserving among my relatives and friends. The aunt I visited on Saturday gave me a bag full of figs and blueberries from her yard. It turns out fresh figs are highly perishable, so I spent a good chunk of yesterday evening rinsing and slicing and pureeing the lot, with 1.5 cups going into two loaves of fig-lemon bread (improvising off of the recipe for pear-pecan bread in Joy of Cooking. I saved a few of the least smooshy ones (which were still plenty ripe) for breakfast:

a fig from my aunt Cherry

I also combined the too-tired-for-salad cherry tomatoes with the last stub of red onion and a pepper and some water, for a cold soup I carried to the library courtyard for lunch.

A friend spent part of her weekend pickling summer squash and okra:

pickled okra and summer squash

This same friend gave me a quart of homemade fire cider earlier this year. I sipped some tonight over ice while formatting some submissions. Hello, August.
zirconium: photo of cupcake from Sweet 16th, Nashville (crackacino cupcake)
[Subject line from Mary Chapin Carpenter's "Jubilee"]

I took the cookies to work, labeling the bin "oatmeal-flax cookies" so as to warn for allergies. The container was empty by the end of the day, and two colleagues told me that the biscuits tasted good for something that looked so healthy. ;)

The lemon tart is really, really good.

The dawg is delighted with the steak drippings and potato salad dregs from tonight's supper.

The rogue rosebush produced three blooms this round. A relief to know my ill-fated attempts to propagate it (by taking cuttings that then didn't take) didn't kill it.

IMG_9807
zirconium: snapshot of oysters enjoyed in Charleston (oysters)
Today's efforts, brought to you in part by the Department of These Leftovers/Lemons/Yogurt Need To Be Used Up NOW:

* pan-fried ground turkey, to go with defrosted jar sauce on leftover penne, with red onion and cheese
* mashed parsnips
* leftover green beans seasoned with leftover bison drippings, with the four last radishes from the first spring crop, with their greens, plus a fistful of mint from the garden
* lemonade
* (in progress) oatmeal cookies with yogurt (using this recipe as a springboard, but with regular sugar instead of Splenda, a hit of Crisco to make up for the not-quite-a-cup-ness of the yogurt, and nutmeg and coriander added to the mix. Turns out I have only two cups of oats instead of three (and quick oats, at that), so adding another cup of flour, plus some flaxseed I picked up a few days ago from the Herbiary's sale bin.
* chicken thighs seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg, and cumin. I'd read a recipe for Lowcountry Cinnamon Chicken in Charleston Receipts Repeats that looked interesting but too sweet and too fussy for my taste, so I then consulted a nutmeg chicken recipe and simplified it to four chicken thighs with white wine, olive oil, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cumin, baked at 375 F until cooked through. (Didn't track the time, what with other things on both literal and figurative burners claiming my attention; just peeked in when things started smelling/looking good, flipping the meat once and turning the oven off when I got going on the veg and starch.) Wine was Molino a Vento pinot grigio, which I think was from a Woodland Wine Merchant 6 for $60 bag.
* leftover brown rice, stir-fried with onions in olive oil and seasoned with tomato sauce and a bit of ancho pepper powder.
* asparagus. Chucked into boiling water for a couple of minutes; then turned the heat off and put the lid on. Perfect by the time the rice was done.
* (in progress) Shaker lemon tart

Onward!
zirconium: black pearl pepper plant at Cheekwood (black pearl pepper)
Phew. Intense week. I was tempted to blow off the pear-cinnamon Bavarian cream I'm attempting for a party, but yep, the instructions said it would need to be in the fridge overnight, so I eventually rode a second wind to the whisk and the stove:

Bavarian cream

Beyond that, though, all I was good for was some tidying up of the indoor tomato plants. I find them endlessly entertaining, though, even when I'm not stone tired. That the vines hold yellow blossoms, green fruit, and red fruit all at the same time is part of the fun.

tomato plant tomato plant tomato plant
zirconium: snapshot of my healthiest hollyhock plant (French hollyhock)
Today's subject line comes from Sam Anderson's piece in the NYT Magazine on blind contour drawing:


It turns out that the world, on close examination, is gloriously strange. Things are lumpier and hairier than we have been led to believe. . . . Sleeve wrinkles can be as beautiful as the most exotic flower. Every object (book, pencil, glove, banana) is in fact a bewildering universe of lines.


Today has been a letting-my-brain-regrow day, what with logging over sixty hours of work this week between the day job and a side project. There have been some weird-even-for-me meals, what with the piling up of dishes and deferring of grocery shopping and miscalculating of minutes left in my lunch break: today's mint-chard-miso soup was a result of me shredding the greens and herbs for a salad on Thursday, realizing I had to returning to the office before I'd finished assembling the salad, and then coming home to a frozen slab of leaves because I'd neglected to wrap the plate in plastic wrap before shoving it into the fridge. Oops.

I was stone tired all this morning, so for breakfast and lunch I supplemented the leftovers with runny fufu:

fufu

For dessert, some jello I'd made with agar-agar I'd bought as a prop for my Heartbreak Happy Hour performance back in February:

Filipino agar-agar bar agar-agar dessert cups

For dinner, I might roast a chicken. But the BYM is frolicking with goats today, so maybe I'll just make another mint-chard salad and do the rest of the dishes and trim dead leaves from the tomato jungle:

tomato plant

Without the cooking and cleaning and contemplation, there would not be the stamina for helping with the constructing and chronicling of more glamorous events and exhibitions:

The Frist Center at night
zirconium: sunflower core against the sky (sunflower sentinel)
Cox Arboretum
Cox Arboretum, Dayton, Ohio, August

While the knives seek the pumpkins
the fish glides along.

aging zinnia zinnia
Nashville, October

Who will tell the zinnias
it's long past Labor Day?




A fun thing: last week, a verse I wrote was selected for Pilgrims' Stride, and today the verse to follow it was picked. The most fun part seeing the sixty-some directions people pursued...

A frustrating thing: local businesses failing to return phone calls.

Today's work will include: mixing ink and cutting paper.

Today's cooking will include: Greek cinnamon chicken. Maybe. The recipe looked like just the thing when I was reading it in bed last night, but we have neither bay leaves nor dry white wine in the house, nor (uncharacteristically) onions (not counting the scant quarter-cup in my freezer). Hmmm.
zirconium: black pearl pepper plant at Cheekwood (black pearl pepper)
Christmas pepper

Sometimes, when a pepper seedling emerges, the husk that covered the seed remains attached for a while.

In this case, the seed came from what I now think of as the mama plant, which I've featured in this journal now and then. That plant now seems well on its way to producing its second crop of the year:

tip

In the meantime, I roasted store-bought peppers this afternoon (with an eye toward maybe making soup with the a can of evaporated milk now past its best-by date), since I had the oven going anyway, for pot roast (with onion, daikon, and potatoes, seasoned with rosemary and thyme from my garden). One of the recipes I looked at called for red wine, so I opened a nice bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon/Malbec (Dos Fincas 2012) a friend had contributed to a party I hosted back in May. I prepared green beans as well, which meant the dog was practically leaping with joy, as she loves to hoover up the tips.

Middle Tennessee was under a tornado watch most of the evening. I am kicking myself a tiny little bit for not making "The Hugo" (a variation of the Dark and Stormy, by the Lee Bros.) to complement the occasion, but not really, what with working on a submission through half of the night and on someone else's manuscript much of the day. Some other time ...
zirconium: photo of squeezy Buddha on cell phone, next to a coffee mug (buddha and cocoa)
Tonight's things-need-using-up improvisation:

4 sad carrots, chopped
1 can chicken broth

Shredded the carrots in the broth in the Vita-Mixer. Then added

a couple of tablespoons cumin
approx. 1/4 cup chopped white onion
1 can pumpkin
a couple of shakes of ground ginger
a couple of shakes of ground black pepper

Ran the Vita-Mixer at variable, increasing speed from 1 to 10, and then switched the setting to high and let it run for three minutes. I added a squeeze of lime juice to each serving. (Lemon juice or apple cider vinegar might be my first choice if I were making this for others, but the lime was the saddest item in the fruit drawer, and it provided the right kick.)

If I didn't have the machine, what I might have done is stew the carrots and onion in the broth until tender, then pureed the mixture, returned it to the pot, and stirred in the rest of the ingredients and heated until hot.

On the other hand, that probably would've been a few steps too many for me tonight (work and studying await), so odds are I would have boiled just the carrots in plain water and then seasoned them with some sesame oil and rice vinegar. Or skipped cooking entirely and simply slathered nut butter onto apple slices, followed by a bowl of cereal. :)
zirconium: photo of Greek style coffee, Larnaca, October 2011 (coffee in Cyprus)

This is, I think, a book for those readers and cooks who prefer to know what the original dishes are supposed to be like, and to be given the option of making their own adaptations and alterations according to their taste and their circumstances. There is, I know, a school of writers who seem to believe that English housewives are weak in the head and must not be exposed to the truth about the cooking of other countries; must not be shocked by the idea of making a yeast dough, cleaning an ink-fish, adding nutritive value to a soup with olive oil, cutting the breast of a raw chicken in order to fry it in butter rather than buying a packet of something called "chicken parts" from the deep-freeze and cooking them in a cheap fat or tasteless oil substitute.

If I believed that English women really needed this kind of protection -- censorship it almost amounts to -- I would have packed in cookery writing long ago.

zirconium: photo of squeezy Buddha on cell phone, next to a coffee mug (buddha and cocoa)
eggs baked in avocado halves

A cookbook I bought last year suggested baking eggs in avocado halves as an easy breakfast. The results were meh, but now I know what doesn't work for us (at least with this oven, which runs cooler and slower than those of typical test kitchens, based on other adjustments I've had to make to other recipes).

On the upside, the carrot wontons I made two nights ago turned out fine. I ground up a handful of carrots and seasoned them with sesame oil and black pepper...

Carrot filling

I spooned the filling into the wonton wrappers left over from the last time I made a batch of potstickers, and then steamed the lot:

Carrot wontons

I also made a decent goulash out of leftover turkey, rice, and corn (adding tomatoes, onion, cayenne, and the leftover carrot mixture). This morning I fried pancakes because we were out of bread.

This week's bathtub reading has been issue 139 of the Paris Review (1996). From the intro to an interview of A.R. Ammons:


For most of the next decade [1950s] he worked as a sales executive in his father-in-law's biological glass company on the southern New Jersey shore. Ammons published Ommateum, his first book of poems, with Dorrance, a vanity press, in 1955; a mere sixteen copies were sold in the next five years. (A copy today would fetch two thousand dollars.)


Bedtime reading has included bits of Anthony Glyn's The Seine. I am enchanted by this sentence: "Saint Seigne tried hard; it wasn't his fault that he was turned into a river-god."

results

Feb. 6th, 2014 01:47 pm
zirconium: Spicer Cub (daft horse) during Pimlico (spicer cub at Pimlico)
tulip on my desk

This seems to be the healthiest of the tulip bulbs I moved to indoor containers. It is keeping me company as I edit.

The BYM was given permission yesterday to start putting weight on his leg. Progress!

The BYM has ordered me to refrain from cooking raw anchovies at home in the future -- understandably, since the aroma lingered in the kitchen long after I'd baked them, hauled out the garbage, etc. (and he said he could smell them even before he entered the house). Oh well. The dog was hyper-happy about the experiment (even though I refused to drop the fish-heads on the floor), and the leftovers added oomph to the Chinese spinach I pulverized today to use as a green pasta sauce.
zirconium: Photo of Joyful V (racehorse) in stall (Joyful Victory)
cultivating sunniness

(It's been a gray, gray day.)
zirconium: Photo of Joyful V (racehorse) in stall (Joyful Victory)
The Christmas stockings are already back in the basement, and after lunch I might dismantle the wreath for the compost pile, and then prepare kale salad and clove snaps for the next round of shenanigans. It wasn't overly crowded at the dump, but I was amused to see others on similar "let's get this clobber OUT of the house and yard NOW" missions. The grocery stores and wine boutique were hopping as well. The wine shop owner told me that the caramel brownies I'd given to them were "mindblowing." (That recipe has done right by me this past year: I had to bin my first batch because I'd forgotten the gelatin, which left the glaze harder than plexiglas, but I've baked and boiled several pans' worth since then, and it's been pretty sweet to see "OMG THOSE BROWNIES" on my phone. *Cheshire grin*)

My 2013 had a fair amount of grief and fear and aggravation in it. Some of it likely won't be sorted out until 2015, and some of it not ever. I've gotten better at coping with "not soon" and "not ever" scenarios as I get older (Gottseidank), but man, they still bite.

But there was also the love and support of friends and colleagues, both in crisis and in general; happy trips to New Orleans, Keeneland, Atlanta, and Vancouver; seventy-one yoga classes, twenty-one bike rides, and assorted hikes (including a climb up the Grouse Grind); and some publications:

  • one haiku and two haiga, in Lifting the Sky: Southwestern Haiku and Haiga (Dos Gatos Press)


  • "Even an Empty Life Can Hold Water" and "Making Rice Dance," in the "Journeys" issue of Inkscrawl, August 2013


  • "With Light-Years Come Heaviness," in the "Immigrations" issue of Eye to the Telescope, April 2013


  • "Newest Amsterdam," in Dreams and Nightmares, May 2013 (issue 95)


  • "The Bed I Haven't Made," in STAR*LINE, April 2013


  • "Sweet 16th" and "Novecento," in the "Menupoems 2013" featurette of Alimentum, April 2013


  • "Proportions," UU World, Summer 2013 (first published in Measured Extravagance [Upper Rubber Boot, 2012])


  • "creasing the statement," unFold, 10 April 2013


  • "Clinging," in Escape Into Life's "Dog Days of August" feature


  • "Remnant," in Escape Into Life's "Fleurs de Mai" feature


  • "next to the bandshell" and "kittens nesting," in 7x20, September 2013


  • five poems on offer at The Poetry Storehouse for remixing (an offer so far taken up by Nic Sebastian and Othniel Smith); an interview of me was published in the Moving Poems forum on 2 December.


  • "Watching Pain(t) Dry," in Overplay/Underdone (Medusa's Laugh Press)


  • Thank you all for being a part of my life -- be it as an occasional visitor to this blog or the pal pouring me another whisky or some other incarnation of reader/friend/colleague/inspiration. Wishing you all a splendid 2014!
    zirconium: photo of Greek style coffee, Larnaca, October 2011 (coffee in Cyprus)
    A perk of hosting a birthday dinner two days before Christmas is enjoying leftover chocolate praline cake for breakfast on Christmas Eve:

    praline chocolate cake

    The sun is bright and high in the sky. There have been some thin drifts of fat snowflakes, but all they're doing is sending Percy the Panic Catfish into a fin-flapping frenzy, and confusing more of my tulips:

    three more join the party

    another confused tulip

    and then there were four
    zirconium: black pearl pepper plant at Cheekwood (black pearl pepper)
    From this past Sunday's NYT Book Review:


    "The genius of you Americans," the Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser teasingly told a senior C.I.A. official, Miles A. Copeland Jr., in the late 1950s, "is that you never made clear-cut stupid moves, only complicated stupid moves."





    From the In-2014-I-Plan-to-Fry-More-Tofu Department, via the NYT's Mark Bittman:


    That "good" news you may have read last week about the Food and Drug Administration's curbing antibiotics in animal feed may not be so good after all. In fact, it appears that the F.D.A. has once again refused to do all it could to protect public health.


    [On a related note: How to Make Tofu Really Freaking Delicious. I tried this a couple of weeks ago and the salt soak indeed seemed to help things along.]




    The survival time of chocolates on hospital wards: covert observational study. The responses are also a treat.

    The Goldilocks Guide to Caramels [that sound of hammer meeting sheet glass accidental toffee this morning? Yep, that was me on my front porch...]

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