Sunday, October 1, 2017

My fair share

We are entering the high eating season of the year.

You pass the September Ember Days, and you are into it!

This morning for our St. Anthony's coffee hour I made two pumpkin delicacies. I am sorry if I was jumping the gun a little but I could not help it! I made a pumpkin wreath, one of those big coffee cakes I make with yeast, and I also made a Bundt cake I called Buttercup Rum Cake. There is this amazing recipe, Whiskey Squash Cake, which was the first successful Bundt cake I made a couple of months ago. I riff on it now and this version used rum instead of whiskey, as well as deep orange Buttercup squash.

I assume it was good because it vanished pretty quick!

I have been having a good time with the farm I joined, this CSA. This is the same ol' organic farm I used to belong to, Porter Farms. I just do not remember having as much fun with it then as I have been having this year.

The deal is, they deliver to the office. And so every week, on the appointed day, at the appointed hour, all of us are going downstairs and collecting these bags of produce. It is hard not to smile when you are toting this big bag with collard greens sticking out of it and so it is always a bright and cheery day.

I took the picture up above of one share. That was especially heavy because of the cantaloupe which was like a bowling ball! But it was so sweet and good, worth the long haul across the parking lot.

Here is the share from Sept 7.

I love how the farm says one share does for four people, or for two vegetarians. That Sept. 7 share, I think I ate it pretty much single-handedly in two days! The cantaloupe on the other hand lasted us a week. We ate every bit of it.

This current share included an array of peppers which, I used them for this Mexican cheese soup I made for the coffee hour. The coffee hour sees a lot of the vegetables. A few weeks ago I made yummy white bean soup with greens from the farm.

Bring on the fall eating season.

I am ready!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The aimless, No Goal bullet journal

I keep a bullet journal as I may have mentioned. It grew out of this story I wrote for The Buffalo News on bullet journaling.

Speaking of growing ... The other day I am drawing up my October calendar spread. I wanted it to look sort of brooding and October-ish, so I began doodling a barren tree. That is it, in the picture above! Anyway, I am having fun drawing this tree, la la la la la la. Then I realize...

That is the column where I usually put my goals for the month!

Things to do, stuff I want to get achieved. Such was the case in bright, cheery August.

The goals column is skinny but you would be amazed what you can fit in there. That is, unless you start doodling a big old tree.

I guess I will have no goals for October! October will be the month of No Goal. That is a hockey catchphrase up here in Buffalo, dating from some long-ago game where we were cheated. It applies to me this month.

I will look on the bright side.

October will be fun!

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Riding the Reddy

Today I took a break, borrowed a Reddy Bike at Canalside, and rode down to Tifft Farm Nature Preserve.

What fun! I love taking a ride like that, particularly in a sun dress and sandals, which I did today. You get to go over the Ohio Street bridge. I always ride over the grating so I can see the water beneath my feet.

Landscapes like that one up above, I love it.

I want to have a picnic here.

That is the Cotter at left, our 1905 fireboat. Here is another pic I took.

Sometimes I like the take the boat north from downtown, to LaSalle Park. But now I am seeing that south is the way to go. I love the grain elevators, the Old First Ward, the Outer Harbor. There are endless bike paths. Which, those bike paths are not everywhere. Everyone loves to tell you, we are all connected by bike routes. That is not true.

I ride Reddy Bikes so much they lose money on me. I love them so much I did a story on them for The Buffalo News. Plus if I take a ride at lunch time I can skip the gym at night, giving me more time to work on important things.

"Fun!" That is what I exalted, sailing down that ribbon of highway.

It is!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Can stand the heat

This heat wave, I love it! Above is a picture I took of torpid Hoyt Lake.

One of the things I have been doing to celebrate the heat wave is go swimming. The other thing I will get to in a second.

The swimming has been great. No, you do not swim in Hoyt Lake. But there is plenty of other opportunity! The other day, I went to Beaver Island with my brother and my niece and nephew. There were no lifeguards or parking fees because the season is over, at least so they say. Hundreds of people were on the beach, folks of all stripes. All of us unsupervised! It was so peaceful and beautiful.

We kept gloating about it being late September and here we were swimming. Except as George reminded me, we have been swimming at Beaver Island much later in the year than this. We do get beautiful autumns here in Buffalo, or should we say, beautiful summers.

Today I went swimming at LA Fitness but even indoor swimming is wonderful. They have huge windows and it feels so refreshing.

So... what was the other thing I was doing to celebrate the heat wave?

I have had the oven going full blast!!

For our Tridentine Mass coffee hour, I made Orange Cornmeal Cake out of Martha Stewart ...

... and Cocoa Fudge Bundt Cake...

... and one of my signature coffee wreaths, from King Arthur Flour. Howard took all these pictures and he photographed the wreath before it went into the oven. When it came out, it was huge!

The Orange Cornmeal cake was really interesting because you top it with sugar and the sugar forms this crust. The fudge Bundt was a great old Betty Crocker recipe that mixed up all in one bowl.

I will have to remember that.

Along with this heat wave!

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Dollar Tree Hoax

Today I got my chiro adjustment, and after that I am supposed to take it easy, and so to relax I made a stop at Savers. I met my friends Tracy and Lizzie and Nike.

We were hanging around Office Supplies, having fun, and I selected with Nike's help a baggie of old Crayola crayons. That is another story for another day. For now I have to get to the shocker.

Lizzie and Nike told me that they had read in the paper this morning that Dollar Tree was closing!

What in the world??

Tracy and I immediately began to protest. Dollar Tree had just opened new stores. It was impossible. They always looked as if they were doing well. They --

"It's right here," Nike said, and she pointed at her phone.

No way! I was too upset to think properly. Shortly after that Nike and Lizzie left to go, you guessed it, to Dollar Tree. I did not want to go with them. I was too sad. Tracy and I wandered around buying this and that and mourning the loss.

I have written before about my great love for Dollar Tree, which ranks up there with my great love for Mozart, Leonard Pennario, and the Catholic Church. Where would I now buy Totally Awesome cleaning products? What about cheap Lime-A-Way toilet cleaner? About once a month you find a coupon in The Buffalo News and Dollar Tree takes coupons.

How about their writing implements? I love that brand name Jot. I just bought a cute Jot notebook a few weeks ago to keep track of my chapter revisions.

Cookbooks. Coloring books.

Wrapping paper. Gift bags. Nail polish. Wax paper. Bar ware. Made-in-USA glass candle holders. Hot sauce. Those 50-ounce drums of Totally Awesome dish soap. (They never did disappear.) My head was spinning.

And what about Tevive Tea? Just yesterday I enjoyed a cup of Peach Passion.

And oh, the holy frozen food!


Guess what, I get home and I look in the paper to see where this Dollar Tree story is, so I can put it on Twitter (where I am, under @MaryKunzGoldman), and post, "I am devastated."

I could not find that story anywhere!

Subsequently I did a search and sure enough.

Fake News!

I should have guessed. How could Dollar Tree close, with me keeping them in business? At first I was really mad at Nike and Lizzie for causing me this stress. But a second later, I was over it. Number one they love Dollar Tree as much as I do, and were as distraught as I was.

And secondly, who cares?

Dollar Tree lives!

I will appreciate it double from now on.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Sunset over Hertel Avenue

Sometimes the best pictures of sunsets are in urban settings!

I personally prefer the above picture to the greatest inspirational pictures of the sun setting over a peaceful ocean. It is Sunset Over Hertel Avenue! I took it from the lot of the Lexington Food Co-Op.

Another shot that same evening. This was a minute or so earlier if memory serves me.

Speaking of the sun, here is my masterful photo of the solar eclipse a month or so ago.

That was August 21, yikes! I can barely bear to look at my camera roll, the weeks and months are passing so fast. Barely bear, that is a phrase I like. It is like manly man or girly girl.

Jeoffry does not care what the sun is doing.

As long as he has his bird, he's happy!

All right, it is back to work with my fine self.

There is one thing the sun never sets on.

That is procrastination!

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Bless me, Father, for I have cooked

Today for church coffee hour I went back to a cookbook I've had for years and had completely forgotten about. It is this cookbook from Cape May's Mainstay Inn. It is called, "Breakfast At Nine, Tea At Four."

Why, you cute cookbook!

I made Banana Crunch Coffee Cake, p. 104. While it was baking I turned a few pages and found Orange Kuchen. I had an orange. I had everything I needed. So I made that too.

Here is a funny thing. Both the Banana Crunch cake took about three times as much sugar and butter as the Orange Kuchen. Both baked in the same pan, the 9 by 13, one of my favorite pans, I must point out.

Well, even though the banana cake took enough sugar and butter -- and coconut, too! -- to sink a ship, I made it as written. Give the people what they want! Several times I have skimped and tried to make things healthy and in that case nobody eats it.

Both cakes were a success. My friend Oscar complimented me on the orange cake. Oscar comes from some South American or Latin American country I can never remember, but he is an authority on baking and he loves the taste of orange peel. As do I! It is most zesty.

Another way in which I was a winner, I made a crock pot of white beans and greens, the greens being the collards from my Porter Farms CSA, which is another story for another day. One of the gentlemen complimented me on that! He and his wife were on some kind of plant-based diet and he could not believe his luck.

Long story short, here I am kicking back and listening to Harry Connick Jr. and basking in my greatness. Oh! There is one more thing.

Lizzie and I both managed to make it to Mass in a timely fashion! The Kyrie was just beginning which was not bad for us. Last week, even better, we made it in time for the Asperges. What are we doing right? We were trying to figure that out because it would be great if this trend continued.

I think with me, it was because I made two big coffee cakes instead of any number of smaller ones. That plus I made Amaretto Coffee Wreath ...

... which was huge too. Howard took that picture of it on its parchment paper! I threw these treats together yesterday easily, among doing other things. Howard helped me carry them out to the car this morning so that was something else. He usually helps me but this morning he did the lion's share of it. Not as many pans, and a lot of help! That made a difference.

Now if I could only bring this kind of productivity to the rest of my life.

Onward and upward!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Weber wondering

So I get a big tray of spareribs from Tops. They are all spiced up and ready to barbecue. I scanned the ingredients and it all looks nice and natural. I've got all my ducks in a row, right?


What do you do when ...

... the package says to grill for 7 minutes a side, and ....

.... every cookbook and online recipe says to grill for about two hours?

What do you do??

Whom do you trust???

Do you start them in the oven and then finish them on the Weber?

What about Constanze Weber, Mozart's wife, pictured up above?

She was the first soprano soloist in Mozart's "Great" Mass in C Minor which is challenging, but I do not think she ever had the challenge of grilling spareribs!

Constanze Weber did not have a Weber!

I do. With which, I like to cook and I like to think I have gotten good at it. However, I have a confession. Meat confuses the daylight out of me.

Every cookbook I see tells me that this or that cut of beef could be called this or could be called that. There is no consistency. Every book tells me --

Oh, wait, the husband is home. The ribs will be cooked, one way or another. I do not need to point out that this impossible situation came about thanks to Eve being created from Adam's rib, you know? The rib situation is complicated from the word go.

I will report on how this goes.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Me, the mermaid

I have been doing a new class at the gym, Aqua Fit.

That is not exactly our LA Fitness class in the picture but it may as well be. That is exactly what it looks like. I remember a year ago or something I glanced at Aqua Fit while it was in progress and I saw this big group of men and women of all ages and races and shapes and sizes advancing in the pool like an army, smiling and laughing, hefting these weights. I thought: I should try that! Finally I did.

You get to be in a pool which is fun. I love swimming. So if the teacher is late, as is often the case, no big deal. I've learned enough of the exercises so if the teacher doesn't show up, which is often the case, no big deal. If you get a lazy teacher, no big deal. Unlike in Zumba, where a lazy teacher drove me crazy.

So. I have been doing this Aqua Fit off and on for about six weeks. And this is the truth: Things fit me that did not fit me before that.

No kidding, I bought a pair of pants at the Temple Beth Tzedek sale and they did not fit me then and now they do! And there is nothing else that could have done this for me aside from Aqua Fit. I have made no other lifestyle changes, God knows that.

Perhaps it is just that I am going to the gym three or four times a week because I enjoy this class. Perhaps it is the nature of the class. Oh, who knows.

There was one thing weighing on me. This is great now that it is summer and you feel like jumping into a pool. What about winter?

Then just last night that question was resolved. This other gal in the class, she and I were hanging out in the pool afterwards, paddling around and looking out the floor-to-ceiling windows.

She said: "Just wait till it's winter and it's snowing outside. This will be awesome!!"

She is right!

I just needed someone to point that out!

The important thing is, it's fun, and it works. On top of everything else the class is easy as pie. It is not like Boot Camp or even Pilates. Pilates feels great but it is work, I will tell you that. There have been Pilates classes where I have rolled over on my mat afterwards and thought: I am ready now to audition for the Alvin Ailey. I am a superhero to have gotten through this class.

Aqua Fit on the other hand is a walk in the park.

Exercise does not have to be miserable!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Last call at Little Vegas

Today my friend Lizzie and I spotted an estate sale sign and, as usual, screeched to a stop. The sale turned out to be bittersweet. It was the Little Vegas tavern in Lackawanna.

The tavern had been a stop a few years ago on a Forgotten Buffalo tour we were on! Lizzie reminded me of that. And I remembered -- well, sort of anyway. I must have had a good time on that tour, what can I say. Well, what happened in Little Vegas stays in Little Vegas.

Inside we learned it was the last day of the sale. The owners' daughter was pretty much taking all offers. I tried to talk her into stretching the sale out for another weekend, so I could help get the word out about it. But she was in a hurry to get back to Florida. Which, I can understand. You can only take so much of this kind of stuff, you know?

I regret I did not buy the cash register.

And a case could have been made for buying these vintage Santas and other Christmas decorations that were in the basement. You could just imagine the bar's regulars waiting every year for these old fellows to reappear.

There were tons of decks of playing cards behind the bar. Of course I went behind the bar just so I could feel what it would be like. I took this picture from behind the bar.

 And yes, I did say, "What can I do you for?"

And: "You and me both."

The playing cards must have been in keeping with the bar's name.

I tried to interest Howard in the vintage beer cooler but to no avail.

Howard is less sentimental than I am. I am sentimental!

I did also love this old scale.

In the end I bought a chalkboard for $2 and Lizzie spent a couple of bucks on some very cool decorations. We had to have some kind of memento.

It is a pity saying farewell to an old bar even if it was not exactly on your turf. These mom-and-pop taverns are disappearing.

Goodbye, Little Vegas.


Monday, August 21, 2017

The solar eclipse: Party like it's 1919

As I just put on Twitter, we watched the eclipse old school at The Buffalo News. Scott Scanlon, my neighboring colleague in the newsroom, remembered the old Boy Scout trick where you poke a hole in the cardboard.

That is the eclipse pictured at left!

We were all excited bounding down the stairs to give it a try. Scott is the editor of Refresh, the health section, which explains why he takes the stairs and also why he views the eclipse safely with a piece of cardboard.

Outside we found almost everyone else in the office already out there. Of course the really cool people were the people who stayed inside at their desks and didn't care at all. However I have never attempted to be cool and that has served me well in life.

A few eclipse statistics I loved...

One was that in Buffalo, it began at 1:11 and hit its peak at 2:34. You went from 1-1-1 to 2-3-4. It was easy to remember and that is how Scott and I knew enough to go downstairs at about 2:30.

Another is that when was the last eclipse like this, 1919? Somewhere around then.

Leonard Pennario went through his whole life without seeing such a thing!

It got Howard and me thinking about other eclipses in history and one thing we pondered was whether there was an eclipse mentioned in the Bible anywhere. I thought of the Crucifixion when darkness descended over the land. And the curtain in the Tabernacle was torn from top to bottom, and the dead came out of their graves and walked around and were seen by many. I am sorry, once I start with this, I cannot stop!

That could have been an eclipse, however, if it were, it would be a lunar eclipse, not a solar. There are scholars who have figured that out. And apparently there was a lunar eclipse in 33 A.D. I will have to look into this further.

Meanwhile, the big question is:

When eclipses occurred in Biblical times, would someone have been there with a piece of papyrus with a hole poked in it?

It is undoubtedly so!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Cakes... winners and losers

This is the coffee wreath I brought to the St. Anthony's coffee hour this morning.

Despite the fact that I made it kind of on the fly, in between going to a wedding, going to the reception, and taking care of other business. .. it came out well!

The same cannot be said of this week's Bundt cake.

This was a lemon Bundt. Everything was perfect except for it did not come out of the pan. Half of it was in crumbles.

And may I point out this is the second time this Bundt pan has stuck it to me. Third time. This was the pan that soured me on Bundt cakes to begin with, now that I think about it. The cake stuck. Then it stuck again a couple of weeks ago, though not so badly. 

Strike three, you're out! I personally took that pan out to the garbage.

A sorry end to a pan I had greeted with such joy. Maybe it was my fault. Maybe when I made my first cake I scratched it too much or something. Well, whatever.

I panned that pan!

So for now I will stick with the Kugelhopf pan that worked well for me.

As far as the lemon cake, half of it was served at the St. Anthony's coffee hour. It was gone in 60 seconds, rivaled only by these gooey brownies someone brought and the Monsignor's manicotti.

I brought the other half of the cake home and am going to do something with it. Cake pops, perhaps? Bread pudding? I am leaning toward cake pops because I have never made them. Lemon flavored cake pops, yummy!

As a result of the lemon of a cake pan.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Color and light

For some reason I like doing art.

I use the term loosely. I do not have any pretentions as an artist. But late at night, or of an afternoon when I have been busy with work most of the day, it is fun to sit down with watercolors and relax. What is it about watercolors? They are just so cheap and easy.

Especially cheap. I have this $5 watercolor set I have been working off of forever. That is it in the picture above! I also have a sneaking affection for oil pastels because they, too, are cheap. That masterpiece in the sketchbook visible in thePain back on the right was done with oil pastels.

Not only that but they were oil pastels I purchased in Tupperware at a garage sale! I think I paid a quarter. The brand is Loew-Cornell, which despite the patrician name is made in China, let's not kid ourselves.

I remember my mom telling me at that garage sale that buying the pastels was worth it just to get the Tupperware! LOL! Anyway, those are the pastels that painted that picture in the picture.

HOWEVER. Once at another garage sale I bought a little wooden box of oil pastels of the Van Gogh brand. Van Gogh is not an exalted brand. Looking it up, I see it is a "student brand." However. sets of 10 or something (mine has 15) go for a cool $30 or something. So when I get better at oil pastel I will let myself use the Van Gogh pastels instead of the Loew-Cornells.

I will be the Leonard Pennario of pastels!

Jeoffry also enjoys art.

Good boy! Good boy!!

We are artists!

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Bundt baker

Last week I made my second Bundt cake for church. The first, a week before that, was a big breakthrough.

I know, Bundt cakes are not supposed to be a huge challenge. However, years ago, I had attempted a Bundt cake, and it had stuck to the pan. I did something with the cake, I made a bread pudding. But I never forgot the outrage.

And I never attempted another Bundt cake. Until just recently. This is the beauty of participating in our church coffee hour, at St. Anthony of Padua Church. I like to make a game out of it and try to do new things.

I made a Whiskey Squash Cake out of a Reader's Digest cookbook I have. It was a recipe I had had my eye on for some time. Whiskey, got to love it. I almost subbed rum because Rum Squash Cake sounds good too, and I am sure it would work. But I had to go with Whiskey.

I baked the cake in my Kugelhopf pan which previously I had used only for yeast breads. Hmmm. Consulting Wikipedia just now I see that Kugelhopf -- well, they say Gugelhopf -- is the original Bundt pan. Nordicware copyrighted the name Bundt in the 1950s and '60s.

Whatever my pan is called, let me tell you, I oiled and floured that pan half to death.

That cake came out with its hands up!

I sugared it up and took this picture.

So, success!!! Drunk on my success I made the cake pictured at the top of this post. It is a Banana Cream Cake. Oh, excuse me, Banana Creme. It has sour cream in it, is the reason for the name.

I used my other Bundt pan for that. Remember that pan? You can make cakes in it from all over the world.

I took the cake to coffee hour. Gone in 60 seconds!!

I never had a bite!

But I can assume it was good. And so forward I will go as the Leonard Pennario of Bundt cake bakers.

Fire up that oven!

Monday, July 10, 2017

The rebate from the black lagoon

Hahaha... a long time ago, I wrote out one of those satisfaction equations.

Finish story for work: 10 satisfaction points.
Finish book on Leonard Pennario: 50 satisfaction points.
Send away for liquor rebate: 10,000 satisfaction points.

Still true, that!

Today I came home from work and I was going to get a jump on tomorrow's work. But the computer had other ideas. It kept bouncing me in and out of WiFi and I could not get anything done. And so ...

I did my rebates!

They had been collecting and one had actually expired. But watch it, if you see that a rebate has expired! Odds are you can still send it in. The receipt has to be before the expiration date. But the postmark does not.

Read the fine print! And it is fine.

And so I sent away for that rebate and for five others. Here is the winner in the sharply contested field of Rebate Addresses.

BBX Rebate Offer
NTH-BBX 18005
PO Box 752885
El Paso, TX 88575-2885


What computer barfed that up?

Another funny thing was, one of the bottles purchased today was the same one that I was talking about that other time. It is the Evan Williams Honey Reserve!

The Cherry kind is no good. It tastes like cough syrup. But that Honey Reserve! Mmmmm.

That is it pictured above. That is it!!

A deliciousness topped only by when you send away for the rebate. I mean actually get it stamped and into the mailbox.

How sweet it is!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

A lotta ricotta

You know me, I cannot resist a bargain, which is how I wound up with a gigantic tub of ricotta cheese. We are talking five pounds! That is it up above. That is it! And it was just as large as it looks.

The five pounds were $5.99 which is pretty good, I think. Plus, it is fun to do something like this. You have a huge amount of something and then you get the adventure and challenge of using it up.

One morning this week I made a ricotta omelet. You mix eggs and ricotta and cook it on the stove in a skillet until it is set and then broil it until it is brown.

Yum! That came from Deborah Madison's "Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone" and it was so good I made it another morning, too.

I also did a pasta with broccoli and ricotta. That was good, too!

Then it was time for church coffee hour.

I made a ricotta zucchini tart I found on Pinterest.

That is it to the left, pictured on one of the prized funky vintage tablecloths our church coffee hour boasts. It was supposed to be a galette but I fit it into a pie tin and called it a tart. That was a hit at coffee hour! Gone in 60 seconds. Next time I will make two because it really is easy to make.

May I interest you in my fine Church Coffee Hour Pinterest board? The recipe is there in case you want it.

Finally I made Lemon Ricotta Muffins, from a recipe I found I forget where. They were a success! And they have olive oil in them and not a ton of sugar so they are healthy.

Oh wait! That was not finally. I still had some ricotta left. I made Ricotta Bread. It is a yeast bread with ricotta in it. It is good!

And may I say that Msgr. Sicari at St. Anthony's ...

... complimented me most kindly on my ricotta dishes. That made my day! Coming from an Italian that meant something.

This is Leonard Pennario's birthday. If he were alive he would be 93. He also would not mind me writing about ricotta cheese on his birthday, I will tell you that. Pennario loved his food and he loved his Italian food in particular, God love him.

I will be the Leonard Pennario of ricotta.

Where can I find another tub?

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Paris Can Wait ... 'It's just my ears, you know?'

 There is this new movie "Paris Can Wait" that my colleague Jeff Simon reviewed. 

Jeff and I were discussing it in the office the other day and he told me the gist of it, this woman risking this kind of illicit affair, gadding around France with a seductive French friend of her husband's. And there are all these mouthwatering scenes of food.

I said, "Oh, no. I can't see it."

I said, "I can see a movie about an illicit affair without wanting to have one of my own. But when I see a movie about food..."

... It is not pretty!

But now I am changing my mind.

Because I have learned that the movie's leading lady, to use Leonard Pennario's term, has a problem with her ears and that is what sets the plot in motion.

"It's just my ears, you know?" she says in the trailer.

I just had a problem with my ears! I had to go to Immediate Care yesterday and get it taken care of.

Rashly I jumped into the pool at L.A. Fitness and I got water in my ear. It is something I am prone to. I was deaf!

Oddly enough Paris comes into the story at this point. One time I was afflicted with this was right before I was going to go to Paris. I had to go to Urgent Care and get my ear taken care of.  Otherwise Paris would have had to wait!

Anyway, yesterday morning, I went into Immediate Care. There is something almost nice about this ear thing. You are blissful in the waiting room! There was this gal right next to me yakking on her cell phone and I could hear her only in a faint blur. Instead of being annoyed I was happily practicing my brush lettering. It is a new hobby I have, and very portable. I took this picture. That is the instruction book at left and my attempts on the right.

It is thrilling, how the ear situation works out. A couple of nurses position themselves around your ear and point this kind of water gun into it. And one of them goes, "OK, ready?"

And then they blast you!

I started laughing and couldn't stop. It just felt so weird! Then it got uncomfortable but it was too funny really to feel pain.

Then they went, "We got it!"

They tried to get me to look at something but I waved them away.

"Gross!" I said.

I felt like a new person, though, I will tell you that. My ear had been getting stuffier and stuffier. I am prone to this condition in only one ear, I must point out. The other is fine.

Now I could hear again!

And so "Paris Can Wait" must not wait. I have to see it, on account of my ears.

"It's just my ears, you know?"

I know!!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The surprise birthday present

Today is my birthday! I have been having a great day. I had off from work and this morning I made great progress on the book I keep writing and writing about. It is in the home stretch but there were several things that had to be tied up and today I tied up a couple of those things.

Then I worked in the garden. Miraculously I have succeeded in weeding my garden and actually turning a corner on it. There is a story as to how I was able to do that, but that will have to wait for another day. But today my neighbor told me the garden looked great! I am so proud of myself!

My friend Lizzie treated me to a pedicure. I have never had a pedicure! That is another story for another day. I felt like such a princess, getting that pedicure!

And then my mom gave me these two Japanese teacups. These are beautiful delicate teacups and saucers from Occupied Japan.

I know, my mom passed away a couple of years ago. But that does not mean she cannot give me a birthday present!

What happened was, there was this grungy box in my garage. I found it a few days ago when I began my gardening and was looking for weed clippers.

I was not thrilled to find this box. I figured out pretty quick what it was. It was stuff from my mom's house, a box my brother George had brought over and stashed there when he thought I was not looking. Either that or probably he told me, who knows. I am the keeper of the family junk so what nobody else wanted ended up with me.

There were things in the box wrapped in newspaper from the time my mom died, which is how I was able to put two and two together. Plus, I recognized these mushroom salt and pepper shakers. There was this one garage sale where someone was selling off a Smithsonian-sized collection of salt and pepper shakers. My mom and I decided we would both select one pair. We had fun choosing. I chose these cute light bulb shaped shakers. Howard has them now downtown at Big Blue. My mom had chosen the mushrooms and now here they were, in my garage.

That kind of made me sad. So did the other stuff. There were some OK things but nothing great that I saw, and all I could think was, now I am stuck with this stuff, I an sentimental about it and so I will have to make room for it somehow.


Today I felt obliged to go back to the box, clean it out. And I found a Japanese teacup. So beautiful, this delicate blue and white and gold. I washed it up and then I found a saucer that went with it.

This is pretty cool, I thought. I love Japanese things. It comes from my liking for bento boxes. Then... it was funny but something told me there was another teacup in that box. I went out and gingerly, because you had better believe this box was grungy, I began digging around.

What did I find but another teacup, in another pattern!

And, after a little more digging, a matching saucer!

I washed these treasures carefully and then started gloating over them, admiring them from one angle and then another, the way you do when you get a present you love. I thought of how I would use them, how I would show them off to my friends.

Then I remembered it was my birthday. I had found this on exactly my birthday.

I got a birthday present from my mom!

I have this tradition with myself that goes way back. I get birthday presents out of nowhere. Once I found a black dress, in my size, on the sidewalk on my birthday. I had just said I wanted a dress like that and there it was. This morning when I woke up I was wondering if I would get something out of nowhere, this being my birthday.

I did!!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Sugar and jazz

We had Office Cooking Club downtown at Big Blue. It was the first barbecue of the season! Above is my friend Melinda's husband, Mike, tending the grill on the front lawn.

This is a club we have had going in various permutations over the years. In its current incarnation we have a handful of people from work, people interested in cooking, and we might have a celebrity guest, a person who has distinguished himself or herself in the culinary field.

Last night the theme was Mexican. I made caramel ice cream!

Here is the caramel under way.

Isn't that wild? You had to heat up sugar and water and then let it boil.

"I'll believe this when I see it," I said, out loud.

But it worked! First you had to boil it unattended. That is something I have a problem doing. I always want to attend to things. You wait until it turns brown around the edges and then you stir it until it is a deep amber.

All went according to plan!

Then, zut alors, I realized the heavy cream in the fridge had gone south, despite the expiration date being still two weeks away. Forbid it, Almighty God! I had to run to the store and get more heavy cream. By the time I came back my caramel had hardened into this disc. That was all right! The Joy of Cooking said just to heat it gently and soften it.

The Joy of Cooking's directions were not perfect and kept me guessing. But you know the slogan, stand facing the stove! That is what I did and the ice cream was a hit.

It is fun to have cooking adventures! Which is what I did over the weekend. Friday it was our friend Dan's birthday, hence this cake. Which, I was proud of it! Thank you again, '80s Betty Crocker! Plus, I love birthday sprinkles.

And then came church coffee hour Sunday morning, and cooking club was Sunday night.

Speaking of caramel and the Catholic Church, one thing that cracks me up is when people write "Carmel" instead of "caramel." It happens all the time!

Hence, Carmel Ice Cream.

If you love it you are a Carmelite!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Pie Academy

So... today, over a week after Easter, I finally find this cookbook "Pie."

I had been looking and looking for it!

Today I was not looking for it. Easter being behind me I was doing my other work. But while I was looking for certain documents I saw this big book. Even before I could see what it was, I thought: That is it!

That is "Pie"!

After I got through Easter without it!

"Pie" is by Ken Haedrich whom I have never heard of although I admire that German name. He has an, ahem, online community called The Pie Academy. It is dedicated to the idea that anyone can make a pie from scratch.

I like that!

As it is, it is just as well that this book stayed lost in my chaotic house until now. Who knows, had I had it, I might not have made Divine Lime Pie.

Cookbooks stay lost until you need them!

Now, let's see what's in this.

I want to make Fresh Plum and Port Pie. And Calvados-Apple Custard Pie. Yikes, Sweet Summer Corn Pie! Could that be in the offing this summer?

Golden Delicious Apple Pie with Oatmeal Crumb Topping. Honey Apple Currant Pie in a Whole Wheat Crust. Very Cranberry-Pear Pie. I will have to remember these come fall.

Perhaps by then I will be a student of the Pie Academy. Oh, wait! It is free! Where do I sign? I just signed up using that link up above.

I am still waiting for my email confirmation. Oh look! It is here! It begins, "Hello, fellow pie lover!"

It promises me recipes and insider information regarding the pie community.

I will report!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Easter feaster

This year at Easter things went well!

It is a funny thing when family occasions approach. There is the battle between cooking and cleaning. This year I learned a lesson. Cleaning takes a back seat. You need your house to be not disgusting, but beyond that, don't sweat the cleaning. Cook.

With which, here is what I did this year.

In our family we cannot decide between ham and lamb and so it is fun to have both. That is what I did. The lamb came from Tops. Yay, Tops! Best price in town, $5.99 a pound. The ham came from Aldi. This was a spiral ham. I am never not doing a spiral ham ever again. So much easier, and I doused it liberally with Spirit Glaze For Ham out of my ancient Joy of Cooking. It gave it a taste of bourbon and of orange.

I thought about scalloped potatoes but you know what? Baked potatoes. With sour cream and butter. The potatoes slid into the oven beneath the meat.

My sister brought a beautiful salad incorporating cucumbers and beets and Herb Gerard.

And for dessert.... here is where my 1980s Betty Crocker cookbook, the classic edition pictured at left, came into play.

I had in mind chocolate cream pie and some kind of lemon pie. Haha... opening up this old Pie cookbook I have, I saw that was my plan last year, too! There was a chocolate pie I had made and a lemon pie I had made. I had written notes. The chocolate pie had turned out to be more like a big cookie -- good, and Howard had liked it, but it was not exactly a pie. The lemon pie had been a nice twist. Not a lemon meringue pie, but very good.

This is why you write notes! Thank you, last year's self!

So I did the Chocolate Cream Pie out of Betty Crocker. The Lemon Meringue Pie was on the next page and so, no muss no fuss, I did that.

I love Betty Crocker and here is one reason why. Both pies asked for pre-baked crusts. Normally I try to avoid those because you need pie weights, or dried beans, to fill up the crust when you bake it. I don't have pie weights. I did have dried beans dedicated to this purpose but at some point, disgusted with my overflowing kitchen, I tossed them.

Betty Crocker just had you pop the crusts in the oven!! No pie weights! No hill of beans!

Is that the greatest or what??

Both the pies were a great success. I learned a new art, of making custard. And with a few leftover egg whites I made something else new, a meringue crust. Betty Crocker made it sound easy and, sure enough, it was.

Betty Crocker suggested two uses for the meringue crust -- Divine Lime Pie or Chocolate Angel Pie. I went with the Divine Lime, in honor of Christ's divinity.

The Divine Lime Pie was the hit of the dessert table along with Apple and Elderberry Pie, made by my brother-in-law David. Even now I remember my slice of that pie with pleasure. It had just a haunting taste, perfect fruit, beautiful spice.

It was fun, at work I got to talk to our food critic, Andrew Galarneau, about our Easter table. When I mentioned the Apple and Elderberry Pie, he went, "Whoa. Whoa!"

He has as great sense for food. Because that was my thought exactly. Whoa!!

You know me, always obsessing over what I eat. But there comes a time to indulge.

This was it!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Herb Gerard and me

The crop of bishop's weed is coming in. I think it is going to be a good year!

One goal of mine, among many, is to become a good bishop's weed cook. Looking back on my efforts a couple of years ago I am impressed by the idea of red lentil soup with bishop's weed. See, this is why I keep a Web log. Otherwise such details might be forgotten.

This evening bishop's weed stands in for spinach in Deborah Madison's mushroom and spinach stew. This is just a simple dish you throw together with a lot of butter, which of course is the secret to its deliciousness. Piously, this being Holy Week, I cut back on the butter somewhat. But it is still yummy.

To my shock, the latest issue of Eating Well sings the praises of the bishop's weed. It says to discard stems. When they are this small though it does not seem to matter. The tiny stems add a kind of texture. Harvesting the bishop's weed is very easy otherwise. You just wade into the field and grab huge handfuls! Then next day you have a fresh crop of young tender bishop's weed leaves. And the problem with this is what?

I am sort of collecting different names for bishop's weed such as Giersch (the German name), snow on the mountain, ground elder, and goutweed (because it is good for many ailments including gout). Today I found one I do not recall seeing before, Herb Gerard.

That is like a name! "Hi, I'm Herb Gerard, and you're sure looking good this evening."

Merriam-Webster offers the loveliest explanation.

translation of Medieval Latin or New Latin herba (Sancti) Gerardi, after Gerardus (St. Gerard) †1120 founder of the Knights of St. John

I was married at beautiful St. Gerard's Church.

I should start calling this beautiful plant Herb Gerard.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

94 Candles

It was Dorothy's birthday recently at St. Anthony's. She is 94.

Remember Dorothy? As in Driving Miss Dorothy? I am not driving Miss Dorothy at the moment. My friend Lizzie is driving Miss Dorothy because I am doing the baking for the coffee hour and because Lizzie is just a cool person.

As it happened Dorothy had two (2) birthday cakes. One for each of her 47 years which together makes 94. I made one covered in birthday sprinkles. I love making birthday cakes and the icing on the cake is when you get to use those rainbow sprinkles! Remember, I did that last year for Dorothy's birthday. This year Lizzie  stepped in and in addition to my cake made something fancier.  She made her famous carrot cake! To cakes are better than one! I am not complaining, I will tell you that right now.

Dorothy cannot claim, as Leonard Pennario could, to have been baptized at St. Anthony's. She is an immigrant! She remembers being a tiny girl and seeing the Statue of Liberty. That was literally 90 years ago.

Dorothy blew out the candles which means she will get her wish. I know that her wish must be wonderful.

I am getting back on my feet after not keeping up with this Web log so I will be sharing some memories going forward. Recent memories, not distant ones.

A closeup of my cake. Hey, with candles it looked really cool!

The Work in Progress.

What fun it is, baking a cake, you know?

Whose birthday is it next?