Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pinterest recipes: salted brown butter chocolate chip cookie bars

I was going to do a post about how I dislike these. I made them yesterday - couldn't get the butter to brown (haven't done it in so many years, must be out of practice) - so I just gave up and used dark brown sugar instead of light, to make them look browner. I took them out of the oven at eighteen minutes like the recipe said (stupid, wasn't it?) and waited for them to cool so I could try one. After fifteen minutes all but the outer edges sank down - okay, so they weren't cooked enough. Figuring I had little to lose, I heated up the oven again and put them back in. Ten or fifteen minutes more. To my surprise the center rose up again!  So, all was well as far as that goes. But the piece I had laid heavily in my stomach and the totally saltless cookie with a salty top seemed unbalanced to me.  

That might have been the end of the story, except that my brother didn't think they were that bad, so I brought them to work today. My co-workers really liked them!  (Have I said before they'll eat anything with chocolate?  They will.)  But one of them even wanted the recipe, so I guess - well, I guess it takes all kinds. That's a good thing, though. At least I didn't have to throw them out.

Monday, September 29, 2014

the last words of St. Francis

I have done what is mine to do; may Christ teach you what is yours to do.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Anna's chewy brownies

I finally made Anna's brownie recipe that she posted eight years ago.  I was especially intrigued at a recipe that called for only one cup of flour in a thirteen by nine inch pan of brownies.

Here's the link - I used a mix of butterscotch and milk chocolate chips, to finish off some half-done bags.  They were very easy to make, quite sweet and nice-and-chewy. Very satisfying.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

the everlasting arms

"Henri Nouwen was fascinated by trapeze artists. He befriended a troupe of trapezists called the Flying Rodleighs. Once he asked the chief of the Flying Rodleighs how he managed to fly through the air and still catch on to the other guy on the swing. The answer?

The secret is that the flyer does nothing and the catcher does everything. When I fly to Joe, I have simply to stretch out my arms and hands and wait for him to catch me and pull me safely over the apron behind the catchbar...The worst thing the flyer can do is to try to catch the catcher. I am not supposed to catch Joe. It's Joe's task to catch me. If I grabbed Joe's wrists, I might break them, or he might break mine, and that would be the end for both of us. A flyer must fly, and a catcher must catch, and the flyer must trust, with outstretched arms, that his catcher will be there for him.

These images gave new depth to Nouwen's understanding of what Jesus meant in the hour of his death when he said, 'Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.'"

                                             -  Servants, Misfits, and Martyrs, by James C. Howell

Friday, September 26, 2014


"Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence.
Talent will not; nothing is more commonplace than unsuccessful men with talent.
Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.
Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and Determination alone are omnipotent."

                                                                  -  Calvin Coolidge

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Pinterest recipes: kidney bean burgers

I have a collection of bean burger recipes on Pinterest, and this is the second I've made. These were really good. 

I had all the ingredients on hand, even the pecans; doubled the recipe and got eleven burgers. Lots of flavor, and if you don't like curry and you leave it out, it wouldn't matter. I like the idea of bean burgers and am starting to get the idea you can put anything in them. I served these with roasted beets.

A customer of my brother's gave him some wonderful vegetables from their garden: a butternut and a spaghetti squash, bulb of garlic, a yellow and a red onion, an eggplant, small pumpkin and two large beets - one red and one of those Italian kind with the red and white rings. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

like Gail

Gail was in the library the other day. She used to work with us - now she's retired.

She looked nice, she always makes that effort. And she's enjoying her retirement. She likes to read, and helps out a lot with her grandchildren. She has her interests - she's a good knitter, and then there's the cross-stitch - she's made many beautiful pieces. She always made time for her hobbies before and they're good companions for her now. There's no getting bored for Gail! She finds life interesting.

This is the way to be in life - at any age, but, like Gail, if you develop your interests and good habits throughout your life they will stand you in good stead when you're (a bit) older.

She also says she reads my blog every morning.  A Happy Birthday to you, Gail!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

unwrapping cucumbers for the queen, or anybody

Have you ever had trouble getting the shrink wrap off the long, hothouse cucumbers from the supermarket? I usually cut one end off and then struggle to peel off the plastic. Well, the other day I as I was wrestling with one, I ran it under the faucet for some reason - just for a moment, and can't even remember why - and that plastic slipped off so easily! Since, this method's worked for me nine times out of ten. Which came in very handy today for the cucumber sandwiches we served at the library - a Victorian Tea at which Queen Victoria herself made an appearance.

Friday, September 19, 2014

the last scarf

I can't believe I'm just finishing up with the winter scarf and glove washing, just in time (almost) for the cold weather again! In this small house it's impossible to wash them all at once with so little space to spread them out. (Cindy seems to find whatever I'm trying to dry flat, and that's where she lays. So far, no harm done!)  I did wash some a ways back but then lost track of the rest - I do have rather a lot of cold weather accessories. As a child I was always cold, and even though I'm much warmer than I used to be, I seem to have a thing for keeping a good selection of scarves and wool gloves. New England has a wide range of temperatures, so I do use them.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

milk glass basket

I don't remember where my mother got this -

but, isn't it perfect?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

"stuff as dreams are made on"

"here is that which will give language to you, cat..."

"We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep."

                            from William Shakespeare's The Tempest

Monday, September 15, 2014

a raspberry and ale pie

I think I first discovered Une Gamine dans la Cuisine - a blog - through Pinterest. Oh, the photos!  The food in those pictures was irresistible to me. I had to make something.

I haven't looked too far back, but I think it's all desserts. That's okay. I chose Prospero's Raspberry and Ale Pie - doesn't it sound intriguing? We have some ale hanging around the house; all I needed were the berries.

Well, at the supermarket I quickly realized that I'd have to spend fifteen dollars to get five cups for the pie, and I wasn't going to do it. But the frozen ones were on sale, two bags for six - okay, frozen would do!  Then, there was the ale issue - it calls for dark ale, and ours isn't.

But I like to use what's on hand if possible, so that what I used.

Then, there was an issue with the crust - she makes a butter crust with three tablespoons of sugar in it and some cream, or milk. I usually make an oil crust. Should I, or shouldn't I? I really try to avoid more dairy than I absolutely must eat, so I decided to go with my crust, and just put some sugar in it. But three tablespoons?  I put in half that amount as we also try to keep sugar levels down around here. Oh, and did I mention she's got oregano in the crust?  It sounds strange, doesn't it? But also exciting, so I wasn't going to leave that out. Except I didn't have fresh - one tablespoon - so I used dried - one teaspoon - as we know that dried herbs are more potent than fresh ones.

It was rather odd, I thought, that she didn't use any thickener at all for this pie - berries are so juicy, and frozen ones even more so - plus you're adding a quarter cup of liquid to it (the ale) I was afraid it would be very runny. But I left it as she said.

Now before I go any further, I want to point out something I read on Like Mother, Like Daughter  a week ago - Deirdre linked to a hilarious piece on the comments one finds on food blogs. I'm not sure they're all authentic - 'I just started Paleo yesterday, and I'm wondering if there's a way to make this without the ingredients.'  Really??  So as I made this pie, and changed this and subbed that, I kept wondering at what point a recipe is still what it's supposed to be when you're changing it so much. Anyway, I may be asking the question, but don't imagine I've got the answer.

So folks, I made the pie. It was very good!  I love fruit pie, anyway. But I should have put some instant tapioca in there, just a little, because it is very runny and that's a shame because the bottom gets all gooey, as you know. As for the oregano crust, it isn't weird at all! I like it! And I shouldn't have shied away from the extra sugar in there, either - it would have been fine with the three tablespoons, so next time.......

I learned something here - it's okay to put herbs in your pie crust. And you can add some unusual liquids into your fruit. But maybe I'll still play it safe and look for clever people who've already invented these recipes so I don't have to experiment.

Now please excuse me while I go read The Tempest, with a slice of raspberry and ale pie.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

wisdom from Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I've been reading something called Servants, Misfits, and Martyrs, by James Howell, a Methodist minister. His style is easy and pleasant to read. Here he quotes Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

"We have to learn that personal suffering is a more effective key, a more rewarding principle for exploring the world in thought and action than personal good fortune." Also, "We can have abundant life, even though many wishes remain unfulfilled." And this, "Nothing that we despise in the other man is entirely absent from ourselves...We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer." 

Friday, September 12, 2014

shopping list bliss

I think I first read about the idea on Amy Karol's blog, Angry Chicken; she had a typed-up shopping list which she printed out every week and just checked off what she needed. I remember very well thinking I should do it, but it has taken me all this time. It is so handy I never want to go back to trying to remember. I can look at it very quickly and know whether I need or even want an item, but I don't have to remember it. Hallelujah! When I'm sure I've included everything I'll type it up and just make copies.

Now every week all I need are my list and a menu for the week and I'm almost done!

Monday, September 8, 2014

all in a day's work

Cindy's work, that is - causing chaos and disruption where'er her little feet go. 

 surveying the wreckage

I exaggerate, of course. But she will never resist getting that tablecloth into the water bowl

Sunday, September 7, 2014

peeping tom

A praying mantis hung around for a bit outside the kitchen window -

he wasn't bothered by Cindy, who was only briefly interested,

but he did peer in at us as we looked out at him.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

a furry comfort

"No matter what dreadful things happened at least there were still cats in the world."

                                                      -   Pat of Silver Bush,  L. M. Montgomery

Thursday, September 4, 2014

creamy cabinet

Today I finished painting a very useful but previously unappealing cabinet in the kitchen. The stain was something which didn't match any other wood in the room and it's simple design just made the whole thing look out of place. Not any more!

Now I just need somebody to help me re-attach the doors.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

on work

"Human beings are born; they grow up; they have their joys and sorrows and their fortunes. They strive and struggle and develop, and all this happens in God. He has created them and given them their various powers. 'In Him we live and move and have our being.' When we rejoice, the living God is present in our rejoicing. And when we suffer, he suffers in our suffering. He has created us, and we are not a matter of indifference to him.

When we work, it is he who commissions us. It is not a matter of indifference to him how the carpenter makes the table, how the mother runs her home, and how the doctor serves his patients. There is an inferior kind of piety that seeks to enhance the things of God by disparaging the things of the world. It is the vengeance taken by a frustrated desire for the things of this world.

But the things of the world are not unimportant, nor are they a matter of indifference, least of all to God, since he created the world 'that it might be' and he saw that 'it was good'. He wants it to remain good, and it grieved his heart when sin invaded the goodness of the world. He took that invasion so seriously that he 'gave his Only Begotten Son'. God has put his work into people's hands for them to maintain and continue, and he wants them to complete it for his joy and to give meaning to their own lives. God is with us when we do our work, whatever it may be. We are to do it for him and with him."

                                          - Fr. Romano Guardini,  from Magnificat, September 2014

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

easy neckline fix

I bought a J. Jill dress which had a lower V neckline than I wanted, but lo, there in my stash was a piece of black linen almost exactly like the dress.

You can see that the weave is looser, but it really doesn't seem to matter - it blends in very well. And that fringed edge? It's just the selvage, so I didn't have to hem that side of it! The most difficult part of the process was making sure it was in there straight.

I hand sewed it to the narrow edging with a backstitch, attaching it on the wrong side, and then pinked the raw edges. I intend to wash it gently in the washer and hang to dry, and hope it doesn't fray.  It looks fine, like it belongs there!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Pinterest recipes: lemon tart with rosemary crust

Theirs, of course, looks prettier than mine did. But it was really good and it's almost gone. And so easy to make!

I used whole wheat pastry flour, not spelt; nor did I notice the rosemary; that's either because I used dried rosemary and only one teaspoon, or because the lemon flavor was so strong it over powered it. And it is very strong, so if you don't love lemon, don't bother with it. In fact, there was an aftertaste which I am wondering might go away if I used just slightly less lemon juice next time, but I don't know. And I think it would be fine with a graham cracker crust, too. But really, what could be easier than whisking together a cup of plain Greek yogurt with a half cup of sugar, two eggs (one at a time, of course), a half cup of lemon juice and a teaspoon of lemon zest? Put it in your pie shell and bake it. That is all! I tell you, this is a keeper.

Dolly listens to Sinatra

(and then my brother said, You've been playing that cd all summer!  Well, yes - the cats and I aren't tired of it. But I changed it - Diana Krall, Love Scenes. We must have jazz in summer!)