Everything sublime is as difficult as it is rare. Baruch Spinoza

Thursday, October 6, 2022

Cogs in a Wheel

Chunky potato, leek and ham soup for lunch yesterday. No cream, just the taters thickening it. Sage in brown butter garnish along with the brown butter. Filling stuff. Mark is meh about soup but he really liked this one. That's a score! It will be a repeat today.

A favorite meal was had for dinner. I love roasted chicken and I really love that everything in done in one pan. The evening light made the color a little off, but I do like the skin dark and crispy. And more bones, more stock. More stock, more soup.

Bob wanted to know how many more small square bales I need so I added up my total to date and it turns out to be only about 200 more. I still need 40 round bales, if they are the 1,100 pound rounds. If smaller I'll need more. I want the big ones, less moving bales to the paddocks. I'll take what I get.

I saw OPEC is going to reduce production by two million barrels per day. Here we go again. We are cogs in a perpetual wheel.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

So We Go

Back to basics.

I made a blueberry clafoutis yesterday. I haven't baked in a couple of years, other than bread. The custardy bit looks anemic because I needed to use all the berries, which was five cups. Normally it's three cups, but it is good and blueberry abundant!

I finally made the egg bake now that I am feeling better. Lots of good stuff, including prosciutto and gruyere.

Former Neighbor, Jack, called last evening at 8:30 saying he wanted to come out now. It's a little over an hour drive. Mark had just got out of the shower and we hadn't eaten yet. People who don't live it do not understand life with livestock. Mark had just finished bringing the horses into the barn, getting them fed and watered and then unloading a couple of full racks of hay. Mark said no. Jack was taken aback, he didn't expect that. Because he has no comprehension of how long the days can get. And he and Caroline are night owls. I kind of remember my city life!

It's a pleasure to be enjoying summer's abundance in October. Even the weather has been warm. Today is the last of that, though. Still, it's been appreciated.

So...onward and upward fine people. One more day in the life.

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

I Saw the Light

Frieda was sitting on her piano, the upright sitting position, in profile. She has a pretty profile. I saw the lovely light and the lovely kitty and decided to take a photograph. I messed around with the framing of it too long, when I finally got around to taking that photo, Frieda had left the picture. No tortoiseshell but the light is pretty. The rocking horse belonged to my son, my husband at the time knew someone who made them. I am fond of it.

Former Neighbor Jack didn't make it out here yesterday. Which worked out well for Mark. Hay Guy came with two loads that he and Mark had to unload. It was just before Jack was supposed to arrive when Ken pulled in with the hay. Mark was relieved when Jack called to say he couldn't make it. We need about 400 more square bales for the season and 40 round bales. It's been a dry year, hay is scarce. I need to buy a lottery ticket.

Today I will pick the remainder of the tomatoes. We are coming into normal temperatures for Minnesota in October, so this will be the end. I have enough tomatoes preserved to last a couple of years. I'm going to make salsa verde with whatever green tomatoes I pick. Anything ripe will likely be dehydrated. Thanks Val!

As a note of interest mainly for myself, my sinus problem and the knockout punch it gave me has lessened by a lot. It takes being really ill to appreciate feeling well!

I guess it's off to the tasks, I have a list, one or two will be done. Ah, well.

Monday, October 3, 2022

Parsley Sage Rosemary no Thyme

We have stayed in contact with our immediate neighbor from Saint Paul these almost thirty years. Mark has continued to do his taxes. He drives out here twice a year and it's such a pleasure to see him, even though he is a dyed-in-the-wool trumper. We work at avoiding that topic. We like him and he likes us, so we just push that difference to the side. Which is easy when you see one another about two hours a year.

Lately, I need something to prod me into action. Jack's coming today is the prod. He and his wife, Carolyn, always knew me as an organized person with a clean house. HA!!! I don't want to shock Jack's system. Carolyn told me one time that my house looked like no one lived in it. I'm afraid that kind of organization is no longer in the cards, and that is a good thing. I am not such a tight-ass anymore.

I need company more often. The house could be crumbling around us and Mark wouldn't notice. That man spends a lot of his time somewhere else, even when he's standing right in front of me. I never have to worry about a nagging husband, so it's not really a complaint, just a wonder how two people can be so opposite. In our case it works well. I can't be told what to do and he doesn't care what I do as long as he eats!

Onto another story: Mark just brought in the herbs I'm going to, once again, try to overwinter. The sage and rosemary did make it last year. The sage look bedraggled, it needs some water and also, I gave it a very short haircut a week or so ago.

The ferns got huge. When I bought them in June the fronds didn't cover the pot. One will hang in front of the kitchen window and one will sit on a tall stool in the sunroom. I just gave them a drink.

I have never had luck with basil over the winter, but I'll try again. I haven't brought parsley in but I'm thinking it will do fine.

So, this is my grand excitement. I'm doing some house cleaning, crowding the kitchen with plants, general mayhem. After tomorrow it gets cold. It's near 80 today! I may need to break down and start the furnace on Wednesday. 

Happy trails.

Sunday, October 2, 2022


How different children looked in the 1950s. Can you imagine seeing a little girl like this now? No. Photos of children are excellent in showing societal and fashion change from era to era. This is my cousin, Marie. She was eleven years older than I was and one constant in my life. I was perhaps three? Marie looked like her dad, nothing like my mother's family. Marie died from a rare condition I no longer remember the name of. That was in 2012, two years after my father died. I still miss her.

Another relic. This radio was in the basement rec room for as long as I can remember. 

My memory is that it was my dad's. Perhaps he got it after WWII. He spent the entirety of the war in the Navy and was discharged after the war ended. It used to work during my childhood. I brought it home and cleaned it up in 2020. It does not work now!

The basset on top of the radio was a kind, thoughtful gift from a friend who is a gourd artist. Who knew such a thing existed? My much adored Howard died in 2017 and I was devastated. Barbara took a photo from facebook and made a gourd Howard for me. I call the print on the right Psychedelic Howard. He would not be amused.

I have a quieter than usual day ahead. Mark has gone to Stillwater, which is on the eastern edge of Minnesota along the St. Croix River. On the other side of the river is Wisconsin. His sister lives there and family is getting together. A brother living in Nebraska is in town. It will be a long day for him.

So I'm home with a deaf German Shepherd who has decided her calling in life is barking and two cats, one who doesn't think I deserve to live here, the other is on the fence. It's a toss up as to whether I do something or plant myself in the throne chair and listen to a new book all day. I'm cutting myself a break by calling it even chances, we all probably know that's not true!

While sitting here at my desk I have decided what's for dinner this evening, so one thing accomplished. I never know where inspiration will appear, it usually comes from seemingly nowhere, why would a quiche pop in my brain from what I wrote in this post? I'm not going to try to figure that one out.

Saturday, October 1, 2022

Mothers. Cooking. Life.

My mother was not a good cook. She made a couple of things well, actually very well:  a top-notch lasagna and simmered-for-hours red meat sauce. Those were really good. But, no one over-cooked meat better than she did. No one. She hated cooking, so...it was  not on her list of things to care about. I didn't learn from her, other than to stay out of her way.

I married young. I spent the first year out of high school earning as much money as I could. Then one year in college. I married at twenty. I didn't know how to just leave home. I'd stayed with friends the summer I graduated high school, but that was almost a mortal sin, not to be repeated. So, I found a guy and got married. Kate had told me before I became engaged that if I didn't get married soon I would be an old maid. She told me when I was thirteen it was a good thing I was smart. No man would ever want to marry me. She then said it was a good thing my brother was good-looking, because he sure wasn't smart. He found out, when he enlisted in the Navy, that he was dyslexic. He was always smart. 

Of course, I married someone my own age, the last of seven children. Spoiled, used to having people jump in to pick up whatever mess he got into. He also had a problem I didn't understand until later. He was an addict and an alcoholic. I thought he'd stopped the drugs and I didn't realize the extend of the alcohol use until I lived with him. I loved his family, especially his mother. She was probably the kindest person I had known. My mother couldn't stand her. Of course she couldn't. As everyone knows, that marriage was short, but I was out of my parents house now.

Well, that wasn't my initial point! I tend to go with stream of consciousness. 🤷

Back to cooking. I could do basic cooking, nothing to write home about. I did make the lasagna and spaghetti sauce once in awhile, but cooking was not my thing. In the late '70s I bought the book on the lower right. It was a higher level than I was at but not overly complicated. As you can see, I used it! Then I bought the second one when it came out a year later. I found meal preparation to be enjoyable. I didn't have much free time, but when I did I enjoyed cooking. When we moved to Summit Hill I made good friends with some really fine neighbors and we would take turns having dinner parties. I then bought the book on the left. This book teaches French technique. From the most simple, which is always the basis for the next step, to hair pulling, why am I bothering, complexity. Although I wouldn't take that on now, back then I had more time and a willingness to learn. Also, an acceptance of failure. This book gave me a foundation.

After we moved to the farm I became crazy busy and cooking went on the back burner. Fourteen hour days in a barn will do that. The past fifteen or so years I started showing interest again. Not complicated French food. Simple rarely from a recipe food. Standard Americana and Mediterranean food that I can just throw together. But it's easier to do, I think, because I allowed myself all the frustration of learning the fussy business of a French kitchen.

A favorite recipe was given to me by an elderly Italian woman I knew when I worked in Occupational Therapy. She was a patient and I adored her. She gave me her recipe for manicotti. I still have it on a recipe card. Signora Mancuso's Manicotti. I have an English Pasty recipe from the head of the department. Her mother came from England and it was her recipe. These are things to be treasured.

My son is a fine dining chef. He says he blames me for his career. I tell him I never worked in a professional kitchen. He started that as a teen when he went to work at a local pizzeria washing dishes then moving onto the line. When he went off to college he ended up working part time in the kitchen of a fine dining restaurant and the rest is history. 

If we like what we do, we tend to put the time into learning and improving. Because even in frustration, or exhaustion (long days in a barn), underneath, we like it. We receive pleasure and a sense of accomplishment and a feeling of worth. This is a universal truth. Say I. 

Friday, September 30, 2022

Life is Good

I made this ragu for dinner with roasted tomatoes and shredded zucchini from my garden. It simmered in the Dutch oven for six hours.  I love braised food.

I got to play whip cracker yesterday. Mark told me he needed to finish two trust account returns by Friday, that he only had a little left to do but he needed to stick with it. So, he proceeds to come into the kitchen to tell me this or that and I kept shooing him back to his office. Several times. Dude.

I'm beginning to feel better, finally, although I still get some jaw pain. It's been a long week. I did make stock Wednesday and with it chicken soup for Thursday's lunch. I put the remainder of the shredded zucchini in the soup and it was delicious. Other than the ragu, that has been the extent of my doing much of anything. Too late for Mark to return me, my warranty ran out decades ago. 

I bought a smoked pork shank. Next soup on the menu will be potato, leek and ham soup. With plenty of sage. It's really nice weather but even so the feel of autumn is in the air and soup will be had.

It's a busy day ahead, lots to do and I think the only way for me to succeed is to get off my duff and do it. What an amazing and, lately, foreign concept.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

The Trickle of Time

I keep seeing Jon Hamm on TV. In a commercial for Progressive Insurance and also promoting an upcoming movie. It is weird for me, he could be the twin of a man I was engaged to marry in the 70s. Except that man would be about seventy-five now. I remember when Mad Men was on the air, I never watched it, but saw the actor at that time and was startled by the strong resemblance. Someone from the past that I've had no contact with for forty-three years is on TV, or at least his doppelganger is. I think because I'm in my waning years it has a more profound effect than it did with Mad Men, although it was strange then, too. 

So, I scroll through photos sometimes to give me post ideas. I had just seen Jon Hamm on TV as I was scrolling and came upon this photo  of me taken in 1978. My relationship was fraying by this time, but would limp along for another year.

Then I saw this one, taken forty years later. Et Voila! I had a post. In the top photo I was divorced with a young child, still seeing the man I had planned to marry but had told at this time I couldn't marry. He hadn't given up yet and either had I entirely, although one foot was out the door.

Then as I scrolled I came upon this photo taken in 2018, forty years later. I had been married thirty-seven years to the man I had met when he offered to help me raise the top on my MGA as it started to rain one summer evening. We both belonged to a ski club that played volley ball at Como Park during the summer, the rain had started and everyone was going to our after-volley-ball-haunt. I barely noticed the guy at the time he helped me, but he seemed to hover every time the club met after that encounter. Mark was not my "type", yet in the end he was the type I needed. I was a force and Mark didn't care. I shouldn't say that, he did care. About me. As I was. He enjoyed my rather large personality.  I also drove him to distraction, but never away.

Time passed. Persistence on his part made me see the kind person behind the awkward, nervous, nerdy man who decided he wasn't going to give up. He told me he wouldn't give up. If I had told him to get lost, he would have. He wasn't quite a stalker! In the end, I found the man I needed, the man who took me as I am and never tried to change me into something else. 

There is little to recognize between the young me and the not young me. I don't think there's an actress that would surprise the man from decades ago, thinking he was seeing a ghost. If we passed one another in Costco we likely wouldn't recognize each other. The resemblance I see is from long ago, a blurred memory. It isn't an unpleasant memory, no. Not unpleasant to remember youth, even turbulence in that youth. It's a memory.


Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Have I Mentioned Tomatoes?

 have had a lousy few days of sinus issues. It's truly amazing how that can knock the wind right out of a person. My time has been in bed or in my over-stuffed chair I have humbled named the throne chair. I have been plowing through audiobooks, my extreme gratitude to the public library system.

I had a burst (ha!) of energy and decided to dry some more tomatoes and I will bring some of the whole ones to the freezer after lunch. I'm dehydrating some yellow plum tomatoes and will make Pesto Giallo. I have no idea if there is a pesto called that but it's pesto and it's yellow! Maybe Pesto Oro? We had a light frost overnight so Mark covered the two heavy producing tomato plants with sheets. I don't recall ever doing that before. By this time the plants are mostly done for the season.

A positive for me is Mark needs to go to the post office, which means he will pick up fried chicken from the deli. Cooks night off! 

I will leave with a photo of our lovely tuxedo boy, Black McCool.

He and his brother, Tabs Hunter, were part-time house cats until Keetah moved in. They were too skittish to be inside with her. When he was born I mis-identified him as female. Mark kept telling me he had to be male because all he did was whine. He was right!

Monday, September 26, 2022

Down. Not Yet Out

I have been under the weather. I was out of bed two hours in the morning and three hours in the evening yesterday. Mark has had to fend for himself where food is concerned. I have to pull it together today before the stew meat I took from the freezer spoils. Needless to say, there was no bread baking or clafoutis making.

I felt better this morning but it was short. I haven't had sinus problems like this for several years, it's probably the dust accumulation I have in the house. My back has made keeping up difficult. It's so unlike me.

We are having lovely autumn weather, although we sure need rain. 

I hope to feel better soon.