Friday, September 28, 2012

{this moment}

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments, for all to find and see.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fall In The Morning

In the morning, I can almost believe it is fall. There may be fog, and it's cool, damp. The crows gossip, the spiders tend their webs. To retain the illusion of autumn's presence, I have to forget the ten day forecast, the eighty degree heat due to arrive. I look around for new colors, faded bits, token signs that summer has slipped away...

Good morning, Tasha Goat.

The goats and chickens, Sanka bunny... all around the barn, the animals are happy. They have each been relishing the ample supplies of sweet smelling Timothy hay, and fresh straw we stockpiled.

Ada Goat isn't interested in having her picture taken, getting her back scratched. She's eating her breakfast, and enjoying not having to share it with chickens standing beneath her, and in her dish.

Yes, in the morning, before the sun burns off this marine layer, before the phone rings, and the clothes dryer buzzes, I like to stroll to the barn, walk 'round the garden, and enjoy this subtle illusion of fall... ripe pumpkins, a black cat, cold crops all tucked-in the garden beds, colorful berries, deadhead sunflowers...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

All We Need Is A Swing

We need a swing. A swing like Charlotte's dad made. They hang it in their tree whenever friends come to play. This swing is a friends-come-to-play-magnet!

We need a swing. And a tree, and a hill!


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Simply Mortars and Pestles

Beginning in October, I am going to join a group of friends, and friends of friends, to cook our way through Alice Waters' The Art of Simple Food. The woman leading us through the adventure is Karen, an enthusiastic cook, baker, gardener, and master of organization. We're in good hands. Her plan is simple, her rules are few, and her influence is tremendous... more than one hundred people have agreed to participate!

I had to order my book, since they were sold out at all of the bookstores I could get to. The day it arrived, I delved right in. I was anxious about the possibility that the recipes would be more science than art... which would be intimidating for me. I was concerned that I would have to add more appliances and contraptions to my kitchen supplies... which I was not going to feel so great about, either. But, mostly I wanted to see what we were going to be doing, making, tasting, playing with, and learning about.

So far, I am delighted... it's easier to be delighted when you find something familiar enough to be agreeable, and new enough to be inspiring. I am getting helpful ideas about staples, basics, and honest Simplicity. I am also finding that I will not have to adhere to strict and taxing rules about precision and exactness... reading and glancing throughout the book, I see most recipes include ideas and suggestions for substitutions, and flavor options. This is Art.

Karen emailed us a link to the schedule she would like us to follow. Ah, the sauces! I smiled to myself. I had already read this section, and was thinking about finding capers, and planting chervil and parsley. It also had me thinking about mortars and pestles, and garlic.

My own mortar and pestle is a family heirloom, a treasured kitchen essential, a molcajete, and tejolote lovingly, generously bestowed upon me by my mother, Delia.

The Wiki article explains my concerns very well... molcajetes do not scrupulously sanitize... hmmmm... that sounds a bit dicey. I manage to sanitize mine, by scrubbing it clean, then inverting it over our gas burner, with a low flame. But, it does get seasoned... and garlic crushed in the molcajete does make a lasting impression. The tiny nooks and crannies of the basalt stone catch particles of food, too, so a single clove of garlic can become almost lost in those little catches.

The tall pestle on the left is new, and still needs to be broken in. The one in the background is long, and was used on a metate, for grinding corn. It is ancient, as is the small, round pestle in the foreground.

I love my molcajete, and when it comes to grinding coriander and cumin, there is nothing better. The best part about it, it's been used for many, many years... it's broken in and doesn't break-up. New molcajetes need to be conditioned with heavy use that will loosen up the basalt that is going to break off. Small grains of basalt break away, making food gritty, and it takes some effort to get the mortar and pestle through this phase.

In many of her recipes, Alice Waters describes using garlic that has been made "creamy," using a mortar and pestle. I use a lot of garlic. Muchismo ajo. I use whole cloves, sliced cloves, diced, minced, and smashed, but I've never reached a "creamy" consistency... not with a garlic crusher, or the flat of a knife on the cutting board, or in my molcajete. So I decided to keep my eyes open for a small, garlic-dedicated mortar and pestle.

Introducing Little Mortar and Tiny Pestle!

I know... I said I was not too keen on adding gadgets and gizmos to my kitchen store, but a new venture calls for an open mind, a willingness to welcome change.

Before I could recommend this to anyone, I had to test it, and see for myself if I found it worthwhile. So out comes a clove of garlic, and into the mortar it goes!

Conclusion: It worked! In a matter of a few crushing motions, I achieved garlic creaminess. I do recommend this Little Mortar and Tiny Pestle.

Favorite: The easy clean-up is a welcome bonus. No problem storing it, either.

Found: It is at World Market, for less than four dollars!

Regrets: None.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Dear Waffle Iron

My darling Waffle Iron,
As I reflect on our years together, twenty-three in all, I am moved to speak words of affection, gratitude, and to reflect happily on our time making waffley goodness. Ah, the laughter, the spills, the glow of your heat on light, your single function knob. You have been a good, and true friend. Waffle Iron, thank you. Thank you, from the heart of my bottom.

The waffle iron was a wedding shower gift. I really wish I could remember who gave it to us. (Didn't we have a wedding book? Must find.) If I ever figure out who gave it to us, I will send them another thank you card.

As a gift, the waffle iron thrilled me. It absolutely blew my mind. Could I not conceive of the idea of simply going into a store and buying one? I dunno... but few things have impressed me more with the idea of adulthood, maturity, sophistication, and sheer luckiness, than receiving this waffle iron. Not to diminish our vows, or the significance of our wedded bliss, but man... that was totally worth it!

We don't make waffles very often, and there were times when a year or more would pass... then, I would remember: Hey! Everyone! We can make waffles. I would bring it out, dust it off, plug in the almost too short cord, and make sure the knob was turned to Waffle. The heat light glows, and I feel that happy rush of delight... We have a waffle iron!

For posterity...

A dragon lives in the waffle iron. He heats the whole thing up, so don't touch it! I would tell the children. Watch for the light, that tells you he's breathing fire, and now... watch for the smoke rising up. When the smoke is gone, I'll peek inside the dragon's lair. Slowly, I raised the lid and we peeked in, to see the finished waffle with the corners missing. And I would remind them, The dragon takes bites of the corners, as payment for baking our breakfast.

23 years and five months
9 homes
4 brilliant children
1 dear husband
countless blueberries
and some happily ever after

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Who Is Crumpet?

This is Crumpet. The fish. Suki's the fish.

We don't have a label for Fish. Nor for Pez, or Strumpet. We don't even have a Chickenblog label for Mermaid, or Welcome Guest. She may come under the category of Critters, where I post about any animals that are not Chicas, or Gatos, or Goats, or Rabbits, or Ratty-Rats

She's too classy to be labeled simply Critter. She's no ordinary pet shop bowl fish. She has a past. She's a lady of mystery, intrigue, and spine tingling terror... just don't ask her about her groom, the whole sordid honeymoon. And who knows, maybe he had it coming?

Well, perhaps she hasn't lived a blameless life, but she has endeared herself to us, and to Chango, who peers into her bowl and, now and then, helps himself to a fish-water cocktail, hold the olive, thank you. Crumpet lives in the kitchen. Sometimes she's next to the fruit bowl. Sometimes she's on the dining table. Today she is next to the buckwheat and sage I brought home from our country day. And ever since Santa left her a new husband, in her stocking, she is never without Poseidon.

I think she is giving us a kissy face.

Ah, Crumpet, you Strumpet.