Where have you been

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Many new things--new dog, Cherie, a rescue from a person in Dover who couldn't keep her. She was a mess--flea-ridden and tangled and so dirty. She was glad to come home with me and has been a very good companion to Daisy, who is so gregarious she needs constant company. More friends passing; my longtime friend Diana died in late November. A hard going at a young age. It's a long story, will write it up later. More new stuff, Postcrossing- a riff on the old random penpals of yesteryear. I've sent out five postcards, two have been received, I haven't gotten any yet. I can't find local cards! The drugstore would carry them but since they were acquired by a national chain, those items were taken away. And I went to Patagonia. Beautiful place. Mysterious, unlike any other place on earth.
Video of my trip to Patagonia

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Revenge of the Scotties

Bob told me, once, about some friends of the family who owned a pair of Scotty dogs. The dogs were accomplished table-moochers, and it was a generally held belief that no one, not anybody, could resist them when they pressed their chins on your lap and gazed at you with their beady brown eyes. And up to the point when Bob was invited to share a meal with them, this was absolutely true. No one, not anybody, could eat and NOT succumb to those Scotties. You sit down, they'd march right underneath and circle the table, and they'd snap up a tidbit and move on to the next diner. Bob decided: "I will be the first to deny them. Yes, I will." The guest snorted with derision. "Just TRY it. You'll give in! No one has been able to resist the Scotty Dogs!" So dinner was served, and the dogs began moving around the table, circling to each guest. They'd cutely press their bearded gray chins into each lap, scarf up a snack and then move on. The dogs reached Bob's chair. By this time, Bob had eaten most of his serving but there were plenty of tidbits, juicy meats, tasty carrots, succulent potatoes, left on that plate to interest the Scotties. So they sat at Bob's side, watching him intently. He'd look down at them from time to time "Oh! This is so delicious! Mmmmm. Oh, you'd enjoy this! I know you would. Oh, you'd like some? Really?" And then he'd take another forkful. The dogs waited. They had not completed the circuit. This human had not yet given them their due. Another tasty morsel chewed and swallowed. More smiles and nods. Four expectant brown eyes held Bob blue eyes that were crinkled with smiles, and they waited, knowing a really JUICY reward would be theirs, any moment. They kept waiting. The rest of the table finished their dinners. Still, the Scotties sat at attention, waiting for Bob to produce that tidbit. He had to! He JUST had to give them something! Everyone ALWAYS gave them something! Bob took the last forkful of roast beef and looked at it. The dogs stood, quivering and practically dancing with anticipation. He looked down, put the forkful between his lips, chewed it, swallowed, and then wiped his mouth with the napkin. "My! That was delicious" he complimented the hostess. The dogs gazed in shock as empty plates were stacked and carried to the kitchen. And it dawned on them that indeed, they were NOT getting anything, anything at all from this blond, blue-eyed big man, and they also realized that the rest of the meal was finished. They'd failed to complete their rounds and not only not gotten anything from Bob. , but had failed to hit up the rest of the table as they waited for Bob's surrender. The look of betrayal, disappointment and sheer disbelief was tragic, or would have been tragic if it wasn't so darn funny. However, the Scotty dogs had their revenge. Later that summer, the hosts asked if Bob would dog-sit while the family took a vacation. "No problem!" answered Bob. And every day, twice a day, he'd go and walk the dogs in the yard, feed and water them. The family returned and Bob went over right away to return the key. "How was everything?" he asked. The mother had a strange expression on her face as she said "Oh...fine." "No, really," Bob persisted "Was everything ok with the dogs." "Oh, the dogs are fine, but come upstairs and look...." Bob followed her upstairs. The upstairs hallway carpet was absolutely covered with little brown piles. "Yeah, they do that, " remarked the woman. "When they're really pissed at something. They might have been mad that we went away...or," she hesitated, thinking for a moment, "it could be they weren't too happy with YOU." Dogs have a good memory.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Ginger Tea

Ginger is said to reduce inflammation and help sore joints. It's good when you want a hot drink and it's made into a tea. Simply grate or mash a thick slice of gingerroot (I use the mortar and pestle) and pour on hot water. Steep, strain and serve with some honey. I've tried juicing the ginger and grating it, but mashed seems to make the most delicious version. It's great on a cold and wet night. And no caffeine, either.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

When we're feeling punk

I had a cold. Second one this year, that's a record, for me. I'm normally not a partaker of colds. I just don't like them, they don't like me. I like to keep it that way.

But when you are feeling punk, there is a sort of rice soup that is almost universal to any culture that eats rice. You can call it congee, canja, jook, okayu, milchreis, kao tam. It can be sweet, savory or incredibly bland.


1 cup or one measure of rice (I use either Jasmine or Japanese short grain.)
10 cups or measures water. (Yes. That is right. 10.)

Put the rice and water in the rice cooker on the "congee" or "porridge" setting. Let'er go until the rice is broken down and you have a thin soup. Can be made thicker. Can be made with chicken or vegetable or fish bouillon. (Bob preferred it with chicken broth, I like it with either veg broth or water.)

Can be seasoned with: shrimp, garlic, green onions, fried diced pork and fish sauce (nam pla) or for a sweet version, use raw sugar, gur or jaggery (palm sugar) and I like a dash of cinnamon. It is made with milk in Germany. I do not like it with milk.

Notice there is no salt unless you use bouillon or nam pla. I usually eat mine with a sprinkle of cinnamon-sugar mix. The savory version is a good winter breakfast (and is what we ate in Thailand, that is, I ate it, Bob went for the Western breakfast.) It is also a good dinner or late night snack if you don't want to eat much. In Japan, we had it seasoned with some kind of sweet-soy-sauced dried anchovy fish. Better than it sounds. Some people kind of poach an egg in it by dropping in a raw egg and lightheartedly hoping the heat of the porridge will cook that egg. Maybe, maybe not. Raw eggs for breakfast are common in Japan.

This is great when you don't feel good. Or if you are not up for much to eat.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Vegetarian Biryani

This is a recipe I make for pot luck. It satisfies vegans and no one misses the meat or cheese.

For the rice:
3/4 cups basmati rice
2 tablespoons golden raisins
2 tablespoons blanched, sliced almonds
1/4 teaspoon whole cloves
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt

For the vegetables:
2 tablespoons oil (canola, corn)
1/4 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon peeled, minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs Curry Paste (mild Pataks, or Pataks Biryani Paste)
2 tablespoons golden raisins
2 tablespoons blanched, sliced almonds
1 cup small cauliflower florets
1 cup drained chick peas (canned are fine)
3 ounces green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 small new potatoes (about 6 ounces), peeled and quartered, and par boiled
1 medium carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small zucchini cubed
handful sugar snap peas
1 salt
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons toasted shredded coconut
2 tablespoons toasted blanched, sliced almonds

Make the rice: I use a rice cooker. Add ingredients and whole spices, cook as for white rice

Meanwhile, make the vegetables. Put oil in a skillet with a tight-fitting lid, over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add the garlic and ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the golden raisins, almonds, curry paste and cook, stirring, until toasted and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in the chick peas, cauliflower, green beans, potatoes, carrots, and salt. Raise the heat to high, pour in the water, and cook, covered, for 4 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender and most of the water has evaporated, about 1 1/2 minutes more.

Top rice with veg in a lasagna pan. Cover with foil.

Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes, to heat through. Season with salt to taste. Serve, top with some of the toasted coconut and almonds.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Bye bye to the Big Guy

Departed this earth, in his sleep, 3-24-2011. 54 yrs of age. I'm gutted.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

VEGAN THANKSGIVING...third year running

What do you do for friendship? In our case, though we are confirmed carnivores, we spend Thanksgiving with friends who are vegan. Which means, no turkey, no sausage, no pumpkin pie with milk and egg custard. Still, we do ok by ourselves, and the cuisine can be quite good. One advantage is the "incredible lightness of being" afterwards; no turkey tryptophan serotonin stupor afterwards.

This year, our menu is a joint effort: squash soup, spinach-orange-pomegranate salad, pumpkin pie and the main course is a tofurkey which I am cooking. And stuffing, extra, for sides.

The stuffing requires vegan bread, no egg, no meat, no milk but is actually not a challenge at all. Here are TWO recipes. One is a sweet and savory spelt bread filling for the Tofurkey (which is a theme of sweet-savory-salty contrasts, glazed in a molasses-soy glaze) and a "not-sausage" stuffing based on vegan French bread.

1. Sweet Savory Spelt Stuffing

1 half loaf (about 3/4 lb) of whole spelt bread.
1/2 heart of celery, chopped
1 yellow onion, diced fine
1/4 cup of dried cranberries
1 Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cored, diced
2 cups vegetable broth
seasoning: poultry seasoning or your own: I use marjoram, sage, thyme, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder melded in a mortar with a pestle.
Smart Balance oil

Method: Saute onion, celery in oil until onion is clear and soft, add in apple, cook till it is semi-soft, add in cranberries cook till soft.
Mix this with diced spelt bread in an 8 inch or 9 inch square baking dish. Toss well to coat the bread (I use stale bread; if yours is fresh, toast the cubes of bread for 10 min in a low oven to dry out.) Add in seasoning, toss and taste a cube. Correct seasoning. Add broth until cubes are well-moistened. Taste again (nothing in here is truly "raw" so you can taste this safely.) Cover with foil and bake 30 min on 350 in the oven or until well heated and slightly crusted on top. You can also bake this 20 min and use to stuff your Tofurkey. For that, we use a shell made of 4 boxes of very firm tofu, pureed, seasoned with poultry seasoning as above plus some dry broth crystals, and pressed into a shell in a colander lined with cloth. (We make the hollow with a smaller bowl after pressing plastic wrap on top of the tofu in the colander. Drain. Put a ball of stuffing in a large baking roaster pan, dump shell on top, glaze, bake for 90 min, basting frequently.

2. Savory "Not-Sausage" stuffing (actually, it's DRESSING, as it's not stuffed into anything, but I like alliteration.)

This stuffing tastes as if there is sausage or meat in it, but it is completely vegan. Will satisfy the carnivore in anyone.

1 lb dry cubes of vegan French bread (I make this in the breadmaker)
1 heart of celery diced
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 lb of white mushrooms: chop 3/4 of them finely in a food processor, slice the rest or chunk them
Oil (Smart Balance or olive)
Poultry Seasoning or your own mix
2 tsp of Penzey's Breakfast Sausage Seasoning Mix
2 cups of warm vegetable broth or more as needed

Saute onion, celery until onion is clear and soft, add in chopped and diced mushrooms. Cook until they are soft and mushy. Add the seasoning. Taste and correct seasoning. Toss this on the bread cubes in a 18 x 9 glass or ceramic baking dish (again, dry the bread cubes if they are too fresh.) When bread is well coated with the vegetable-seasoning mix, moisten with vegetable broth. Taste again to correct seasoning. Bread should not look dry, but should not be soggy, either. Cover with foil and bake 30-40 min at 350 or until heated through and slightly crusty on top.


beat 4 boxes of tofu, extra firm, with food processor until grainy and smooth-ish. Season to taste with smoked paprika, poultry seasoning, a paste of vegetable broth or anything you fancy.

Press this mix into a colander lined smoothly with a wet linen towel or wet cheesecloth. Set this over a bowl. Put plastic wrap entirely over the top of the tofu and press down with SMALLER bowl until you have a shell mold of tofu mix. It will drip into the outer bowl. Weight the inner bowl with a can of tomatoes or bottle of jam. Let this sit at least 5 hours or overnight in the fridge.

When you are ready to bake the Tofurkey; oil a baking pan (like a 9x13 glass or whatever fits) place a ball of the apple cranberry spelt (or stuffing of choice in the middle, about the size of the cavity you made in the tofu. Dump tofu on top, peel off the towel, smooth if you like, with a knife. Glaze with APPLE-SOY-MOLASSES glaze (follows) and bake about 60-90 min on 350 degrees F in oven.

Apple Soy Molasses Glaze

1 cup unsweetened, unspiced apple butter
1/4 cup tamari soy sauce
1 tbs balsamic vinegar (can use cider or wine)
1 tbs blackstrap molasses

Mix well, brush over unbaked Tofurkey and reglaze as you bake.