Sunday, October 4, 2015

Going Dutch

Because of my kaput oven I am discovering what the Dutch oven can do.

A Dutch oven is an oven, right? I started thinking about that the other day. Dutch meaning German in American parlance, it is a German oven. Well, I think they are pretty much used everywhere in the world. Everyone cooks in pots. You could go to Africa or Australia centuries ago and find people cooking in heavy pots, if not cast iron then earthenware. It is as old as humanity.

People did not always have electronic ovens telling you the temperature! And yet people have always baked breads and such.

So today I made a pot pie out of Eating Well, the new issue. They said put it in the oven. I said bosh. As in Bosch!

The pot pie has a biscuit crust and you can do that in the Dutch oven. Just put it on simmer, spoon the biscuit dough over the bubbling stew, put the lid on, turn it to low, and in 15 minutes, there you have it, yummy biscuits.

I hear you can also bake cookies on the stove top. I have been researching that.  As Leonard Pennario's biographer I have learned to be resourceful.

Next I want to bake a cake in the Dutch oven. I hear that is possible too.  Where there's a will there's a way!

I will report how it goes! It is funny, you know? The high-tech oven goes blooey.

But the Dutch oven lives on!


Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Baking Bad

I am appalled at my appliances.

Remember when my Bosch stove went kaput? Who could forget it? It was Aug. 8, 2012. And I had bought the stove only two years before that.

Now it is kaput again! Das Bosch ist kaput!! Again it is the oven.

What, is this going to keep happening every two or three years?

It has me angry. And it got me thinking about when the fridge kicked after just a couple of months.

What is with our appliances?

I cannot help thinking of my mom and her old gas stove. We got that stove when I was a tween and we had it for decades, as a matter of fact my brother and his family still have it and cook on it every night. Never, ever, do I remember a repairman being summoned for that stove and believe me, I cooked on it over the years hundreds of times. All those posts I wrote about cooking for my mom, I was cooking on that stove.

This stupid Bosch, I have had it barely five years and here I am having to eat a second repair bill. I am supposed to be eating some yummy pie or something and here I am eating this bill.

These are the wages of all these extra electronic settings. Instead of being simple and good and elegant like the piano playing of Leonard Pennario it is like those lesser pianists who try to get all fancy and reinvent the wheel.

This has all got me so disgusted that I just want to cook in the fireplace. I would be better off doing that, you know? Like the woman in the top picture. It is from the website of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum. Of course I have been there, hasn't everyone?

This gal has it right, too.

Fie on the Bosch.

It is bosh!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The secrets of the Jesuits

Today after Mass my friend Lizzie and I went to Amvets. And I scored a wonderful find!

You know me and religious cookbooks. Ha, ha! Reading back on that post I started laughing because I had completely forgotten about that episode involving me, Brother Victor-Antoine D'Avila-Latourrette and the apple flan that baked for two hours. Hahahahaha!

This is why it is important to keep a Web log.

Brother Victor-Antoine was also the author of the terrific Monastery Salads cookbook I found at Goodwill. But anyway.

Today at Amvets after finding a great hippie maxi-skirt from India, I cruised past the cookbook section. Which was one shelf, with about 10 cookbooks.

And let me tell you this, one of those ten cookbooks was "The Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking."

I LOVE this book! That is it pictured above. I borrowed it once from the library and loved the Whole Wheat Bread and Cracked Wheat Bread. And I also loved the writing. This author's name is peanuts next to Brother Victor-Antoine. It is Brother Rick Curry, S.J. But he can sure write and he sure can cook too.

Subsequent to borrowing that book I picked up another book of his, "The Secrets of Jesuit Soup Making." But I never forgot this bread book. I kept thinking of ordering it.

Now here it was!

Deo gratias!

Flush with success I ambled through the record section. No Pennario however I did score a fine Earl Wild record. America's great pianists, you can find them out there if you look. You do have to strike it lucky ... but I did.

A wonderful Sunday! And now I am off to the kitchen to do some Jesuit bread making.

Perhaps I should invite Pope Francis over. He is a Jesuit too.

We must break bread together!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The beer of my childhood

Reading this story in The Buffalo News about Buffalo Beer Week I found myself remembering the beer my dad drank.

It was Goebel!

There were cases just like the one above stacked in the Crying Room. That was our back pantry closet known as the Crying Room because if you cried you were sent in there to chill. When you stopped crying you could come out. By the way the Crying Room was always the Crying Room, even when it was not being used as such. My mom would say, "Go to the Crying Room and get me a can of tomato paste."

I put in a lot of time crying on the Goebel's beer cases, that I can tell you.  Leonard Pennario was performing over at Kleinhans Music Hall and there I was six years old, sitting on the Goebel's beer cases, crying.

I did not see what was funny about the name until a few years later when my older brother's girlfriend came over and saw the Goebel's and said, "What, do you also have Goering Beer and Hess Beer?

Speer Beer would have a nice ring to it, at least in English.

Goebel Beer came out of Detroit. I learned that just now when I found this ad.

Ah, the memories!

Our microbreweries inherit a rich heritage.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Estate sale madness

I went to a sale today on Wallace Avenue with my friend Lizzie. I bought life-changing things!

For one thing, a white wicker love seat for my sun room. I have dreams of making my average Buffalo sun room into a turn-of-the-last-century, ahem, conservatory. With plants growing on pedestals, and, with luck, a Victorian bird cage. Thinking aloud here it occurs to me that I would like to re-create the British India of "A Secret Garden." I will sit there of a chilly morning and drink Darjeeling Tea.

Jeoffry lost no time cozying up to the new love seat as you can see in the picture above. This item of furniture was heavy by the way! It is old. And it is immaculate including the cushions. Lizzie negotiated like Donald Trump and was able to get the price down to $55. 

Also I bought a coffee table. For $10! It is beautiful and I will have to post a picture.

I also bought a mantilla for, I did not know what the price would be but such things are priceless. Lizzie found it for me. It is a black lace mantilla that is just gorgeous, it falls softly around your face and gives you that Floria Tosca look ...

... as I have mentioned before that good mantillas do. I gave the mantilla to Lizzie so she can wear it at the Tridentine Mass at St. Anthony's. With her blond hair she looked beautiful in it.

The mantilla, or chapel veil if you will, was 50 cents as it turned out. A small price to pay for the good stewardship of your immortal soul! Not to mention looking like Floria Tosca. Or even Carmen as the case may be. Carmen was no good example of Roman Catholic womanhood, God knows, but there is no harm in duplicating her look, as illustrated here by the great Grace Bumbry.

You do not get to wear lace veils enough in the course of your everyday life, you know? Normally you get to wear them only on your First Communion and wedding days. I am glad I have taken control of that situation and now get to wear them whenever I like.

All the day needed was a Leonard Pennario album but, alas, none was to be found. There were Genesis albums in the basement. Oh well.

Otherwise, a fine day!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Curtain up!

One small step for anyone else, one giant leap for me with my chaotic life. I have purchased kitchen curtains.

Ever since I moved into my house, and I am not kidding, the kitchen has had these ugly blinds. They have gotten dirty and I cannot clean them. And they block out the light.

Because I have been preoccupied with a lot of things, putting up curtains always seemed like a big impossible deal. I do not know how to do it, is one thing. And the preparations for this step was amazing. I think it was three months ago I stopped by K Mart and bought curtain rods, made in China. They are the adjustable kind with the suction cups.

Then I went to Amvets to look for some cute vintage curtains.


That is more easily said than done. It is hard to find cute vintage curtains! You have to buy them on Etsy or something. I am too cheap.

But I did not give up. For weeks, when I went to Amvets, which I often do after church, I kept watch. Never anything. I would move from the curtains on to the record department, which adjoins it. Finding Leonard Pennario records is rare but not so rare as these curtains.

Then, Sunday. This past Sunday.

My friend Lizzie and I met up with each other at Mass -- remember, she baked the zucchini bread -- and then I magnanimously invited her to join me on my weekly trip to Amvets.

And my ship came in!

Sears Perma-Prest.

I was nervous and did not trust my taste so I went and found Lizzie in Bric-A-Brac. I asked her how she liked these curtains and she approved! Later she did that sketch up above of me hanging my new curtains.

Oh, what the heck, I am ashamed at how messy my kitchen is but here is a bigger picture.

The old blinds are still at the top -- as Howard said, abandoned in place. But I will tear them down and put up valances. I have two valances! One is longer than the other but you cannot have everything. I can fudge things so you do not notice.

Now I am excited about finding other curtains. It is an easy way to change the entire look of your kitchen even while finishing the biography of a great concert pianist. Speaking of which, I also washed the kitchen windows. On an 85-degree day. I know how to make a September heat wave absolutely unbearable.

The sense of achievement...


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Oven lovin'

There is nothing as rewarding and triumphant as taking a night like tonight, when it is what? 90 degrees? --

And turning your oven on!

Not only that but I turned my oven on to 400 degrees. And roasted cauliflower. Ordinary mortals would have done the cauli in the pan, on the stovetop. But like Leonard Pennario I am no ordinary mortal and so into the oven it went.

I am making Sicilian pasta with cauliflower and olives and raisins. If they can eat that in the heat, I can too.

Before I made the cauliflower I made Blondies for the after-Mass coffee hour tomorrow. They are peanut butter and jelly Blondies! They called for a temperature of only 350 degrees. I had the smudged-up issue of Eating Well on the counter but you can find the recipe online too. I will report how they came out!

Meanwhile my friend Lizzie is also baking for the coffee hour. She is making zucchini bread. Here is a painting our friend Jan Vermeer hastily made of Lizzie at work on this torpid and sultry September night.

This will be one rocking and caloric coffee hour, is all I can say.

When the going gets tough, the tough turn on the oven.

Even when it is 90 degrees!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Stand facing the house

I am trying to get my house in order so today I took out the recycling and the cat litter. Yay me! Well, I am normally pretty good about the cat litter. But it is a special challenge because every time I approach Jeoffry's litter box, he all of a sudden wants to go.

Why is that??

Why is it that as soon as I start to clean the litter box, he needs to use it?

He is not shy. He just horns on in and squats. And he looks at me the whole time. I just start laughing and put the scoop down. What else can you do?

So that was my accomplishment. Recycling. Litter box. And I paid bills and sent away for liquor rebates. Getting your liquor rebates in the mail is a huge accomplishment! It completely eclipsed all the Pennario work I did getting up early.

Anyway I take pride in my domestic progress. Tomorrow I think I will clean out my entrance way.

What got me going was seeing Graycliff, the summer home Frank Lloyd Wright built for Darwin Martin, the Buffalo businessman who was a director of the Larkin Soap Company. Above is one of the photos our photographer took. There are more in this gallery so you can see what got to me.

There is work to be done on Graycliff, though not on the scale of what needs to be done on my house. But I was just enchanted by the place's clean lines and open spaces. It was no wonder the Pierist Fathers pitched camp there for a few decades, after the Martin family sold it. You could imagine it echoing with Gregorian chant.

And I thought: What is with my house?

Whenever I play Gregorian chant there it is as if it is an affront to the chant.

Changes must be made. Hence the recycling and the litter box.

One small step for mankind.

One giant leap for me!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Calorie city

Yikes, all I am doing this summer is eating!

The conventional wisdom is that you put on weight during the winter and take it off during the summer. But A friend and I were talking the other day and we agreed that we fly in the face of that convention. We eat more in the summer than the winter!

I have to say this, I have not exactly put on weight. However the plan was to take off 10 pounds starting last winter and I got to five pounds and then screeched to a halt.

It has been like hand-to-hand fighting in the streets not to put those five pounds back on! We are talking many, many desperate prayers not to mention trips to the gym.

The truth is, Buffalo is heaven in the summer. There are outdoor concerts and plays, attended while lying on the grass, eating grapes, cheese and crackers and drinking wine and ale. There are ice cream parlors and ice cream machines. There are amazing food trucks, and entire evenings that celebrate them. There are big community picnics and also picnics that you just throw together yourself. There is the Erie County Fair. There is no end to it!

Howard took that picture above at Shakespeare in Delaware Park last night. It gives you an idea of the seductive beauty that is Buffalo. I was too busy opening a bottle of wine to take pictures. This was my second time seeing the play, mind you. The first time was for the picnicking.

Howard also took this beautiful picture of our friend the great actor Dave Lundy who commanded the stage as Sir Andrew Aguecheek in "Twelfth Night." Hence this most recent diet bomb. Thanks a lot, Sir Dave Lundy!

Today I got together with my brother and my little niece and nephew and we went out for ice cream. Pennario is surely smiling down on me because he loved his ice cream. But I have a feeling that I will not be smiling, if I go on like this.

I am going to be one of the many people who need those roomy new seats at Kleinhans Music Hall.

I am going to have to sue all the parties involved!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

I owe Ioway

At the gym working the elliptical machine I saw TV footage of Donald Trump landing his helicopter outside the Iowa State Fair. And of Hillary Clinton making jokes about emails and Snapchat.

What fun that all must be, you know? If this were a swing state we would be able to get these people to the Erie County Fair! However they would have a tough time topping that majestic blueberry shortcake pictured above which was one of the things I ate the other day while I was there, hence the gym visit.

By the way The Buffalo News' gallery of all of us at the fair eating and Tweeting is like an exhibit from the Guggenheim, monumental. There is a glory in that food and we in Buffalo recognize that. Reading other newspapers' coverage of the Iowa State Fair I got impatient with the writers' horror at the food and all the frying and calories. It's the fair, it has been this way forever. Get over it. Eat the food and then go the the gym, which is what I did. You will be fine.

OK, do not eat the quite the quantity that I did. I was on that elliptical for some time!

Eventually I disembarked and, ahem, pumped some iron, while I listened to Pennario playing Chopin preludes. But now there is only one thing running through my head and it is this other song from "State Fair." I can't believe I forgot to mention it yesterday.

Here it is in all its 1945 glory. From the comments I learned that the song was left out of the 1962 movie because the 1962 movie was set in Texas. Too bad for that! One person writes, "My favorite song from the whole movie."

What fun! You may thank me later.

After you have been humming this for three days!