Sewing at last and cooking odd bits of food.  I’m not terribly focused this time of year….transition between seasons I suppose.  My daughter sent me a site that made a really cool bird mobile (spoolie) so I fired off some birds and am still working on them.

These guys, and more, are going to be sitting on top of sticks hung by fishing line.  I’m hoping to make a really large one with 20 birds for the porch, over the table….kind of like a chandelier of birds.  The sticks collection was interesting.  I had the three dogs with me on a walk and started picking up cool sticks, ones with moss, etc. on them.  You would have thought I pulled out the pot or something, all three dogs were on me, jumping, clawing at me to get the sticks.  It was amazing – I was fighting for my life to keep them (I lost) and I ended up having to carry the new ones above my head all the way home, goofball.  What is with these dogs and sticks?  It’s not like they don’t get to play or have exercise or have sticks.  Our home is full of sticks, a boatyard?  Sticks galore, two barns full of sticks!  In fact, it’s funny, I’ll be walking along and notice one of Paul’s woodpiles is lopsided -one of those doggies took a hankering to a particular stick that he uses to stack his piles (keeps air between the planks) so they have pulled it out.

Life with three doggies is short though.  Ruth and Matt were posted to Alameda, California starting in July, not so, they have promoted Matt to Executive Petty Officer (Coast Guard) at Cape May, New Jersey starting NEXT MONTH.  So, off they go, there goes my “room” in California.  Cape May is o.k. though, smaller place, really cute town and only an 8 hour drive from here.  The promotion is really nice for Matt, he deserves it, works so hard and disciplined.  And, it’s a day job, he’ll be home every night.  The California one was out on a ship 4-6 months at a time.  Not great for a young (or old) couple.

While sewing I’ve been making the dresses for my girls….tropical to remind them of where Nani is at this winter. Speaking of; heading south on Saturday for 2 weeks.

We had a wonderful beet salad this week.

I got the recipe from this months Food and Wine.  It has a dressing of lots of herbs and pistachios.  The beets themselves are roasted with cinnamon stick, bay leaves and water.  Rather good I would say.  We had it mixed with cauliflower for a few days – nice pink color.

While going through that mag. there was a Hearts of Palm Dip that looked interesting.  Since I happened to have some on my shelf and was wondering what the heck to do with it I whipped it up.  Easy smeezy.

Garlic, hearts of palm, lemon olive oil, zest of a lime – all pureed together.  It was good as a dip but even waaaay better as a sandwich spread.

I rolled up some Rancho Gordo beans, the palm spread, some fresh avocado and my lettuce & arugula.  Kinda healthy and yummy.

Yesterday I made some muffins for the guys around here.  Again, I got carried away with the healthy part and had I not cooked them too long (talking with my pal Marj about something way cool I lost track) they would have been yummola.  They are still good but a bit dry, after I cut the blackened bottoms off. I hate it when that happens.

Those are chia and hemp seeds you see in the top of the mixing cups.  I really like adding those things.  I use them in my protein drink in the a.m. also.  It fills me up till about 2 in the afternoon.

While reading the food mag. there was a story about  the big Island rage in the U.S. at Bakeries.  Akasan.  It’s a smoothie type of drink.  Boiled cornmeal, sugar, milk and vanilla.  It’s a Haitian recipe.  It originates out of using every food source they have and what to do with excess cornmeal.  Oddly they tout it (in Brooklyn, of course) as “a diet drink because it fills you up with not too many calories”.  I’m not sure about that.  What are the calories of cornmeal and milk?  I would think kinda high and the nutrition value?  But, the beautiful black man in the picture pouring out the drink….oh, la la.  I would buy one!  Seize the day.

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Cold and Windy and why am I here?  Geech.  It’s not like it’s February in Maine but…it’s not for me.  Although the grass has a tinge of green in it.  Hope is on the horizon, days are longer, etc. 

Yesterday while cleaning out the fridge I noticed some yogurt I had made a few days ago – just enough for a Walnut Yogurt Cake!  Ah ha.  It’s an old Silver Palate recipe, one we’ve made a zillion times in the past usually a stand by at most bakeries.  I like to make it with yogurt instead of sour cream though.  The sour-cream firms up the cake better but it’s hugely fattening.  The yogurt gives it a nice tang and is softer to the bite but the cake caves a bit.  Also I used that stupid, soft flexible type of pan – frustrates me every time.  It condenses everything (must get rid of it pronto).  There is nothing like a solid pan.

It’s kind of nice to eat this with your fingers, it’s that soft.  While at it I made some herbal ice tea……4 Cups brewed mint tea, ¼ C. lime juice (ooops, no lemon) 2 Tbs. honey then I added more water as it was kind of strong.  Very refreshing and a nice flavor in the middle of February.  Kind of one of those forgotten flavors as it’s been so long since summer.

After shopping for shoes in the hard rain on Friday we stopped in at Lexis Place in Portsmouth….it’s a tiny, tiny shop in an old garage across from the gas station on Islington Street down from Celebrity Sandwich.  It’s really hidden but worth seeking out.  We love this place. 

It’s immaculate.  The food is fabulous.  They have a ton of burgers on the menu with a special each day of the week, like ribs, taco’s, etc. Paul always gets the fish & chips, whole side of haddock, perfectly fried, fat, moist, etc. it comes with a coleslaw – julienned zucchini, summer squash, red pepper, red onion in a very light dressing – crunchy, fab.  I get the burger of the day – it’s on the smaller side with some kind of weird topping…Friday it was art hearts, blue cheese, etc. and then topped with some other grating of cheese.  The burgers are hand made, terrific.  They have herbal french fries or plain (get the plain).  When our bill arrived it came with two teeny, tiny chocolate chip cookies just out of the oven (or warm anyway).  Oh yes, we got the special potato thing – homemade tater tots with cheeses, etc. inside. $1.50  The meal, three drafts and generous tip 40 bucks.  love it.  Such nice people too – always smiling, ambitious kids, pleasant things to say, no hovering.  It covers all my criteria of a great restaurant….fresh, crispy, clean, nice people and inexpensive.  As you can see I totally recommend this place.

Just had my fix of Land Girls, yet another BBC World War II serial.  I love those movies as I just can’t get enough of the details of the clothing and in this one the patterns of the fabric from the blouses to the scarfs they wear on their heads (Rosie the riveter type of scarfs).  It’s hard to find these fabrics……I wonder where they get them for the movies?  Also, the sweaters, mostly sweater vests in Guernsey patterns, etc.  I did read somewhere that people are hired to knit these old fashioned outfits for the actors.  Makes sense.  Cool job, no? 

Yesterday I finally got my scarf tie off the loom, washed, sewn and pressed. 

After I cut off a sample for future reference I still have 82".  Kind of long.  But, I wrapped it around my neck once, then wrapped again and tied a loose “men’s knot”; it hangs to my waist.  I like it.  It looks like I have a scarf wrapped around my neck that matches this tie.  Works for me.  Still it’s not as lofty as I would like but I’m workin it.  When I have time I’m hoping to put some dinner napkins or dish cloths on the computer loom, which this was on.  My other loom is getting a chenille warp with tencel, which is fiber made from southern trees like pines.  Recently I bought some turquoise and emerald chenille that when woven together looks like Caribbean ocean.  Me and my blues!

Meanwhile back at the ranch, along with all my other stuff.  One of those “stuffs” is me running hoops for the state and town.  I’m trying to get my licenses to actually legally cater out of my home.  I’d like to start up the Paladaire (my breakfast place in my home) again this summer SATURDAYS ONLY, just for the cash flow.  So, this going up town and running the route with the code people is becoming tiresome.  We have the largest septic in the world (I think) put in in 2001 and they are trying to say to me it covers a 3 bedroom house; I say there are only 2 of us, one bedroom and a shop with 2 employees – boys pee in the woods.  Honestly this thing is a whole acre; I think it’s sufficient.  They sure make it hard for you to have a business.  I think the state inspection may go o.k. when they see the industrial dishwasher.  Hot enough, fast enough.  York is a small town, we’re not talking big catering.

While I’m trying to stay away from baking (so fat) I’ve been sewing dresses for my girly q’s.  While Ruth works I help with the doggies.  Yesterday I had this guy for the whole day.

Remember Gomer?  He was so sick when he arrived from the stress of moving – he has issues.  Ruth calls him Benjamin Button, born old but will live to be 20, we hope.  Poor little guy, he is a trooper, he’s 3 soon.  He is such a love but he has to be under my feet most of the time.  So, I’m doing a dance just trying to sew.  He always lays under my ironing board and then on top of my power source for the sewing machine….back and forth, back and forth.  Luna is there too but well out of the way.

I have to enjoy him and Easter and Ruth and Matt (not really hard) for now.  Matt has gotten his new orders (he’s in the Coast Guard) and he’s now going to be stationed in Alameda, California for the next three years.  Bummer, within 15 minutes of our other son Jesse, his wife Kelly and our two granddaughters….oh darn, another excuse for going out to California.  I think they will totally love their new spot.  My good friend Malcolm lives in the same town and Ruth has a college friend nearby.  Alameda is a great town, small, sort of juts out in the bay overlooking San Fransisco.  It’s an old Air Force Base so the whole place is kind of 50’s retro.  Across the highway is skanky Oakland but they can zip up the highway, circle around and be at Jesse’s in really 15 minutes.  We’re pretty excited.  Paul Jr. loves the idea of a bedroom close to The Waves in San Fransisco and of course Mavericks.  We were contemplating the idea of taking our little power boat out there as a bedroom but there is a mile long waiting list for any dock space so it’s a no go.  Just as well, I was seeing dollar signs going up in smoke!

We had an amazing dinner last night.  I randomly cooked up, in the morning,  some beans from Rancho Gordo, Anastazi, a speckled white and black bean very sweet and creamy.  Towards dinner time I was wondering what to make.  In the fridge. were some arugula stuffed ravioli from my favorite store, Trader Joe’s.  So, I cooked it up, chopped up a pound of bacon and sauteed that then heated a tablespoon or so of my Ghee in a large stainless mixing bowl on the burner for a second, added the pasta and bacon with a splash of half and half.  Couldn’t get any better, easy, fast & hot.  The salad is from my hydro – parsley, basil, arugula, bibb lettuce, apples chopped, some of the beans and a bit of blue cheese, no dressing just liquid from the beans which I poured lemon olive oil over after they were cooked and drained.  It was awesome, very fresh.

I love dinner when I don’t have to think of it all day and it just comes together in the end.  It seems my whole life is planning meals; it’s refreshing to not.

Recently a friend advised me you HAVE to soak your nuts, like walnuts, when you buy them, overnight.  She says there is bad stuff on them.   O.k. I did and roasted them up yesterday.  There actually was quite a bit of crud that I poured off in the water…..maybe she is right.  So, I did soak them overnight, lots of water, poured it off, sprayed and rinsed like heck, kinda dried them out on a towel (important part) and then put them on a baking sheet at 350.  They cooked about an hour, stirring occasionally.  They do taste awesome now.  I have had a hankering for a walnut/cinnamon swirl coffee cake that we used to make at the shop.  I’m on it!

Herbal

Lovely morning playing with my new book.  I went into town yesterday to The Herbal Path in Portsmouth and my friend Rebbecca shared this book with me.  Of course I got all excited….looked so interesting.  I prefer medicines using herbs.  This book starts off with descriptions of lots of herbs then moves into herbal waters, drinks, smoothies, honey, vinegar, cordials, oils, ghee, pesto, sprinkles & salts then herbal baths and foot soaks.  I like all those things!

First up were the honey’s for me.  This morning I made a Chai one and a cinnamon/ginger which would be good spread on toast or stirred into some hot water to drink as a tea.  I do drink quite a bit of tea and think the idea of a scented/herbal, good for you honey, is a great idea for a hot tea, plain, no tea just the honey & water.  I’m always pushing honey around here when someone has a problem, sore throat, tiredness, crankiness, tummy, etc.

Yummy.  The honey is really dark and thick with spice.  The one part of chai I don’t like is the coriander so normally I wouldn’t drink chai.  I made this omitting it….good idea, I can now drink it.  I put some hot water in the jar I mixed it in and drank it up.  Feeling good.  It now sits for two weeks getting stirred occasionally then perfect for use.

The cinnamon/ginger one is also thick and rich smelling.  I’m going to have a blast with this stuff.  Presents at holidays is one good idea.  I’m making Ghee at the moment, from the book.  12 sticks of unsalted butter at a low bake, scraping off the top part occasionally then pouring through a cheesecloth getting rid of the milk solids, water and fat.  Supposedly it’s good for you after all that.  I know when I worked at another restaurant we always made Ghee but we made it by putting it in a stainless bin and letting it sit on the grill till it foamed, poured off the foam, then poured it out slowly trying not to let any of the fat at the bottom get in.  Nice stuff.  Didn’t burn as quick and didn’t need to be refrigerated.

I’m looking forward to making lots of stuff from this book.  Her teas are interesting; for instance: 2 Cups blush wine, 2 C. lavender or lemon verbena tea, ½ C. frozen lemondade, rose water, oj, carb water and fresh fruit.  Or, lemon verbena lemonade: 4 C. lemon verbena tea, 1 C. lemon juice, 1 C. honey.   Yum.

So, long and short…..glad I got it.  I have kinda a large herb garden and don’t use half my stuff.  I do drink tons of water so this year maybe I’ll be making something else.

Another one of my most favorite things to do…..read!  As I’ve been displaced from my home for quite a bit this winter I have been reading allot.  When I got to the airport in Ft. Myers of course I spent quite a bit of time in the bookstore.  Honestly, the next thing I remember is hopping on the bus in Boston (what plane ride?) and then walking in the door of my home. 

Honestly, I could not put this down for one second.  I even fought off using the bath room on the plane because I didn’t want to stop reading.  A complete “gripper”.  It had everything in it to hold you.  Just go get this book or come on over and I’ll loan it to you but….keep in mind, you cannot put it down.  I was terribly bummed when I finished it on the bus home.  But, the cool thing, the person I shared my row with on the plane, she must have had a good book too as not one word was spoken.  How refreshing to actually be alone and quiet for a good while while transitioning back to my home life.  Really, really good book.  

The next day I found all sorts of small amounts of vegetables in the house so I made a very large vegetable soup but alas, put too much of Paul’s leftover rice in….boy is it thick.  That stuff swells like no tomorrow.  Very yummy.  I made 101’s soda bread with whole wheat instead of rye flour.  It’s such a nice fast bread – kind of like a giant biscuit.  It doesn’t need to rise; just flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk.  Kneaded into a ball, deep slashed in an X and baked immediately. 

I roasted up the cauliflower that I didn’t use in the soup to have on our salad at night but Ruth & Matt blew through, saw this on the counter so we all nibbled till gone.  Lovely, crispy roasted stuff.  I toss it with some lemon olive oil, roast while the bread is cooking then dust with Parmesan/Romano cheese.  Sometimes I sprinkle with bread crumbs too.  It usually never makes it to the dinner salad.

Still cleaning the house and with Spring in the air and muddy dogs feet it’s a total losing battle.  Towards the end of the day yesterday I got my fabric all prepped up to begin sewing the palm tree dresses for my girly q’s but thought I would weave a bit first.  My bobbin winder which is 30 years old and was old fashioned to begin with gave me fits and starts.  It’s been a pain in the butt, not wanting to connect.  I’ve had two technical guys come through here and try and fix it but they say it’s hopeless.  It’s the connection, not the motor.  So, I said to myself, hey, I can fix that and I have before.  Not so last night……I made a tiny mistake, sparks flying and as soon as I heard that sparky noise I threw the part out of my hand (good gd thing) the whole thing sparked out, fuse blew, dark room, flaming embers on my floor. As Paul says “could have been a glorious death"  Not good!  He always says that when someone dies doing what they just love doing.  Small consolation.

After Paul got done yelling at me I went online to look for a new one – wholly mackaral they are $2-300. no kidding.  Monday I’ll be taking this baby to a machine shop in Brentwood, NH where Paul assures me they can fix it.  They fix all his drills, motors, etc.  In fact, we just ran some bobbins by using one of his drills with a piece of wood it in to fit the bobbin.  Slick as a whistle.  It may become my new bobbin winder if these guys can’t fix it.  I have heard of people using mixers and hand held beaters to wind bobbins.  Frugal, smart.

Today is a baking day – the kids and spouses are all coming for dinner tonight.  I’m making yogurt cheese with fresh dill and basil.  French bread, of course.  Stuffed meatballs (I bought those marinated mozzarella balls to stuff the ball with) it works out well as there is spicy oil to use to coat the meatballs while they bake in the oven.  Salad.  Paul bought 4 dozen raw oysters.  Everyone loves those but me.  Piggy’s.  And for dessert a fresh fruit tart with pastry cream.  There were some irresistible lemon yellow pear shaped plums in the store the other day that are just ripe and tasty now and fresh raspberries.  I’ll glaze the fresh fruit top with whatever jelly I have downstairs…apricot? homemade mint?  Yum.  Hopefully I’ll remember to take some photos to share.

Beautiful day in the neighborhood.  Lots of bird singing this morning – is this spring?

Dinner for one (and then some). here it is valentines day so I thought I would make a nice meal. Who wants to eat out alone? Limited supplies but I sauteed broccoli in coconut oil, took it out to rest. Melted some butter and browned some bread crumbs, added some brie, half and half and chunks of yesterdays roti chicken. Put the broccoli on top of thinly sliced french bread, poured the sauce on top. Actually, tasty. Too much though, could have fed two. One of these days I will get the portions right. One more sunny, warm day in la la land then home to my guy. Can.t wait. I have been alone long enough.

Coke

I finally turned the radio on yesterday morning to listen to This American Life.  Very interesting program.  They replayed a show where they gave the secret recipe to Coke, a very guarded secret.  Apparently they were flooded with countries calling and asking about it.  Coke people said it isn’t it, but close.  Close enough people were going haywire. 

Weird stuff in it:

Orange, Lemon, Nutmeg, Niroli, Cinnamon, Alcohol, citric Acid, Caffine, Water, Lime, Lemon, Caramel Color, Sugar and FE Cocoa which is a fluid extract of cocoa leaf which contains a small amount of cocaine.  Used to be you could drink 4 or 5 glasses and get high.  I remember in high school drinking it with aspirin and supposedly getting high.

Weird stuff.  Imagine someone putting these things together.  It must have taken quite a long time to get it taste palatable.  In the interview Jones Soda Company in Seattle put this together and decided something small is missing as it did have a medicinal taste to it but pretty darn close.

It is weird to me that something like this could create such a stir.  I cannot remember the last time I drank not only a coke but soda.  Doesn’t do it for me.  But interesting.