Archive for the ‘works-in-progress’ Category


some very random thoughts: political/medical, gastronomical, and astrological

September 15, 2009

A really good use of bioengineering or stem cell research would be to find a cure for the lack of Teh Irony [comprehension] gene that has affected so many members of the GOP, as well as their enablers in the LegacyMedia. And while the researchers (in my imagination) are at work on that, they might also look for a solution to that lack of a History gene, too, which seems to affect so many in that same subset of the GOP.

Perhaps if both of those often coexistent conditions may finally be treatable, we may find less projection and more self-reflection among the GOP, a party that was once inhabited by some honorable politicians, but is now dedicated merely to protecting its extremist and fringe elements.

* * * * *

I’m psyching myself up to make some soup tonight, to cook some ears of corn, and to do something with the peaches still languishing in my fridge.

I already have some plans for some Gingergold apples and some Bartlett pears… and apple-sauce… with pears. In the crockpot. But the pears are not yet ripe enough.

I still haven’t finished reading Julia Child’s book about her life in France. Her husband’s nephew, Alex Prud’ homme, collaborated with her on it. What a delightfully composed book. Written more or less chronologically, it is told episodically. Most surprising (to me) were some of the feathers/fur to plate descriptions of putting a meal on the table for just the two of them, or for a dinner party of esteemed guests.

And I especially appreciated her deep research into simple sauces, like a white sauce, or a simple mayonnaise, in order to have clear directions for American cooks who use different methods for measuring (volume) than do European cooks (weight).

What I need–in order to finish this book in a more timely manner–is a longer commute, and I should make a habit of riding in the “quiet” car where no talking is allowed. I’d be finished by now if I rode a half-hour each way in that car every day. A twelve-minute commute, distracted by conversation, is just not enough time for my “transit” reading.

Finally, I intend to learn to make pie again. (A challenge without wheat or butter, but I am determined.)

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Postscript: Mercury is retrograde–again!–and has been since Labor Day weekend. Expect poor communications, snags in any plans you make during this phase, irritating computer issues, etc.

However, if you have any long-term projects that have been simmering, this is a good time for revising, revisiting, editing, rewriting etc., i.e., anything with a “re” quality to it.

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Update: I have a more overtly political post up now at FDL’s The Seminal.


an afghan-in-progress

August 11, 2009

afghanintotebagIn the tote bag, you can more easily see the two colors of yarn that I’m blending by knitting with a strand of each. I love mixing colors this way, especially tweeds, which become even tweedier.


The pattern is from Plymouth Yarn.

Each afghan requires 10 skeins of Plymouth’s Encore tweed, knitted two strands at a time.

Supposedly, these patterns can be completed in a weekend. Cast on Friday, and be finished by Monday?!

I suppose it might be possible, but one does have other things to do on the weekend, too: shopping, laundry, cooking, etc. And how would my hands feel on Monday if spent the entire weekend only knitting? Sounds like a possible Olympic event to me… something that would require a bit of training first.

Plymouth Yarn: Done by Monday Aghans

Plymouth Yarn: Done by Monday Aghans

Mine is taking longer than one weekend, but I am going to finish it very soon. I’m planning to add buttons to the cast-on end, and button-holes to the cast-off end. My daughter (who is now a better knitter than I am) thinks they are not necessary. What happens will depend on whether I can decide upon a buttonhole scheme that I like.

I took the two photos with my cell phone, which is why the resolution is not very wonderful. The pattern is pretty simple: alternating squares (7 stitches each over 10 rows) of stockinette and seed stitch. If I were to knit this pattern again, however, I would try to make it more truly reversible by using both stockinette and reverse stockinette squares. The afghan is bordered on all four sides with garter stitch so that its edges will not curl.


from my life on Twitter… and in the kitchen

August 11, 2009

from Twitter…

@EatingWell RT @julienegrin: Nat’l Gardening Assoc: 43 mill planted backyard garden or has share in community garden in ’09, up from 36 mil in ’08

To translate for those who do not use Twitter… @EatingWell is Re-tweeting @julienegrin’s orignal tweet about statistics from the National Gardening Association. Apparently, the number of backyard and community gardens has increased dramatically in the past year.
garden tote
We don’t have that kind of garden, and it would be difficult for us to have one, given the layout (we’re on a corner), the amazing number of old-growth trees, and the narrow strips of sloping lawn that we’d have to till, since raised beds might not be feasible. Still, I did plant some window boxes around the deck with a few flowering items and some herbs. Unfortunately, the weather was soooo bad this year that nothing is really flourishing as it should be in August. There are some blooms on the nasturtiums and the dianthus, but their foliage is sorely lacking. The herbs fared slightly better, but not very much. Too much rain!

However, I started doing something else more regularly this year: ordering produce online and then picking it up on Friday or Saturday at a nearby local & weekend storefront. Although it’s not quite the same as subscribing to a CSA farm (Community Sustained Agriculture), this is as close as I can come to buying from a CSA. And best of all, I can pay smaller amounts weekly, rather than a large amount yearly or seasonally, and order only what I want each week… or every other week, if I have been cooking less often during the previous week.

So far, this summer, my orders have included beets (both red and golden), carrots, corn, radishes, leeks, new potatoes, cippolini onions, spring onions, mushrooms, shallots, blueberries, zucchini, various lettuces, tomatoes, and even beef short ribs a couple of times.

My agricultural source has a friendly enough online site and ordering form that includes important information, such as whether an item is local or regional, organic or the result of integrated pest management. I am comforted by the fact that they try to accommodate so many possible positions on the organic/non-organic continuum. In fact, I learned a week or two ago that they will bring in some greens during the winter from farther away, for those folks who just cannot do without them.

Greens are all good and well for those who can digest them easily… but not I. However, I am really looking forward to the fall and all of those root vegetables that I can’t always find in very good shape in the supermarket when I want to make some hearty vegetable soup. Rutabagas and turnips, in particular.

I live with a vegetarian of Italian descent, who thrives on pasta and dairy products. However, I can no longer eat either wheat or dairy, and so our kitchen life has devolved over a number of years into many frozen single-serving-sized dinners. Mine, of course, are more expensive. Soup, really good vegetable soup, is one thing that we can both eat and that we both really enjoy.

Lately, we’ve been making soup in the crock pot, in order not to heat up the kitchen and the rest of the houses, but when fall and winter return, I’ll return to the stove top, so I can sweat each layer of vegetables in a bit of olive oil and a sprinkle of Herba-mare, before I add the canned tomatoes, stock, water, wine or any other liquids and allow it to simmer a bit with a few herbs. The crock pot soup is good enough, but it is not up to the same standard as the soup that happens when I spend some time at the stove.

I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to purchase all of our produce from this local and regional source. After all, we do buy bananas and avocados, too, but I hope to make it the primary source of our produce and buy fewer and fewer such items in the supermarket.

In order to make that happen, I am beginning to cook more… which is another story. And another blog post.

Image: source