Saturday, September 25, 2021

Mashed potatoes and shallots/New to me guacamole recipe

This is a recipe from a woman whose blog I used to read and enjoy. And then she just stopped. Happily, it is still on the internet. 

I went to my blog to find the exact recipe, and I don't have it under "recipes". I did find it here and decided I'd post it so I could have it in my recipe list. 

This is Tara's blog. The last entry was in 2010. A lot of the people whose blogs I follow commented, and if any one of you knows anything about her since that time, - like a new blog somewhere? - I'd love to know.

So, back to the recipe.

Chop up shallots, as many as you need. It will depend on how many mashed potatoes you are making. 

Sauté in butter and olive oil (you choose portions of each) until well-done, even crispy.

Cook potatoes until soft, and mash with butter and salt.

Add shallots and mix in well.

Serve. Yum!

I also made guacamole from a recipe a friend gave me recently. 

Put 2 avocados through food processor. This didn't make them completely smooth, but were just right.

Chop shallots very finely and add to avocados. Squeeze half a lemon and strain juice into mixture.

That's it! And it was very good. I'm not an eater of raw onions, but this was alright. Shallots aren't as sharp a taste as onions can be. But the next time, I might try sautéing them a bit. I have no idea how it would turn out, but worth a try.

I used to post to Weekend Cooking, but I haven't been allowed to in ages. 

Addendum: It worked this time! 

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Quote du jour / Philip Larkin

Today at 3:21 pm Eastern time the sun goes into Libra, beginning the autumn season.

I came across this quote today and thought it perfect for the blowsy, over-stayed-its-welcome cleome! It looks so out of place amongst all the autumnal colors around these days. Unbelievably, we haven't had a frost yet!

Autumn has caught us in our summer wear.
Philip Larkin (1922-86)

That pink just doesn't fit! 😂

Monday, September 20, 2021

Past times


I have lately been watching a program which is on Britbox - Bergerac. I'm sure all my English friends will know the series. The other evening as Jim pulled up to the gas pumps to have his car filled with gasoline, I got to thinking about what I enjoy about the older shows.

No cell phones
Airplanes with outdoor steps on and off the plane
And the thing I probably miss the most - gas stations that pumped your gas.

I will easily admit that I have never filled up my own car. I hate the smell. I didn't want any residue on my hands. I hate the crowds, with cars always lined up behind you. I wonder is it just my age or do older people pump their own gas?

Even in my children's childhoods, we went to the gas (also known here as service) station. They put gas in the tank, cleaned the windshield [they even kept bottles of washer fluid on the shelves with customers' names on them], added washer fluid when needed, checked the tire pressure and all the while chatting with John at the town gas station named for his father and another fellow who had it before him. 

John and I were light years apart politically but it didn't matter a bit. He was kind to my kids, he was a booster for all the sports teams in town, we loved the Red Sox, and I liked hearing him talk about his favorite band Credence Clearwater Revival. He was full of local stories he knew from living in this little town his whole life. 

We have lost something special in pumping our own gas, We've lost connection and personal service, and even friendship. It makes me ache with longing for such a simple thing that we all took for granted.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Two CSAs

You may know that I have been buying flowers from a local flower farmer for several years. Under "letter topics" there is a Flower CSA, and my first post was June 29, 2016.  The idea of a CSA, Community Supported Agriculture, is to provide money upfront for the farmer to use. 

As may be obvious, I haven't posted as much this year, and the CSA postings have been non-existent. I am going to try and remedy that situation now, in one long posting of the glorious flowers I have enjoyed.

This batch is from another farm that started in the past few years. She grows flowers, and she bakes. Her wares are available at the local farmers' market. This is her first year of offering a CSA, and I was delighted with the spring blooms. Not only are the flowers wonderful, but I love the brown paper "tied up with strings" (The Sound of Music). 

April 28

May 5

May 12

May 19

And this year's weekly flowers from the original woman. We have rather a lot of women farmers in a few local towns. Most of them are relatively new, and they have been such a wonderful addition to our communities. 

August 4 

August 11 and 18

I couldn't load because my camera was set on "live" - won't do that again!

August 25

September 1

September 8

And there we are. Weeks and weeks of such beauty! 

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Quote du jour / Robert Finch

"But now in September the garden has cooled, and with it my possessiveness. The sun warms my back instead of beating on my head ... The harvest has dwindled, and I have grown apart from the intense midsummer relationship that brought it on."

-  Robert Finch 

I am quite sure this is the man the quote is attributed to.

It is so perfect, to me. This is exactly how we feel just now. The garden is pretty much over except for the glorious hollyhocks that just keep on comin', the sedum, and the ox-eye daisies in the blog header photograph. 

"Possessiveness". Isn't that just a perfect word for how we gardeners feel? We are trying to get it to look good and produce good vegetables. And now we can let it go. The season is over and all that happens now is cleanup and moving some plants around. The sun is not "beating on my head" anymore. 

And I love that phrase - "intense midsummer relationship". He isn't talking about "midsummer" in the British form. It is the actual middle of the summer, and for us that is pretty much July into August. And now we are in the last month of summer, with fall coming at 3:21 pm Eastern time on the 22nd. 

I took a little walk down the road to the mailbox today, and I thought to myself that these September days may be my very favorites of the year. Not only has the garden cooled but so has the air. There are no bugs, and there is an ease about life.

And some of that ease comes from the fact that Tom's mother is leaving the evaluation facility, and going back to where she was - in assisted living. The place also has a spot in memory care, should she need to go there. Not as close to us, but really only 90 minutes away, and Tom's sisters are only 45 minutes away. So we are all breathing a sigh of relief.

And, as I jotted down the quote, I had a vague feeling of having posted it before and by golly I did! You may find the post here if you are interested. I haven't changed a whole lot since 2007. 

Thursday, September 2, 2021

The Whitstable Pearl Series by Julie Wassmer

The past few months have been a strain at Windy Poplars Farm. 

Tom's 93-year-old mother has had increasing signs of dementia, and is currently in a hospital where they are evaluating what is going on. From there we are expecting a move to a mental care facility and we hope it will be a place that is five minutes away from us. There have been a few times when his mother has expressed interest in moving up here - to independent living, and later to assisted living -  but every time it didn't work out. 

Our son Michael and his wife, Estée have separated. It has mostly been harmonious, but it is still one of those big changes that are very stressful and worrisome. They are now both settled into rental houses in the same town. They are, without any court intervention, sharing custody of Campbell and Indy. The kids seem to be doing alright, even well. Maybe at six and seven they are able to grasp that their parents are happier apart; better friends and parents not living together. As you may guess we, and Margaret have been very involved in this whole process. The kids have been up here a lot, which is good for all of us. I have a blog post planned with summer fun pictures.

With two big emotional situations in our lives, there haven't been many minutes to read during the day, and in the evening I just want to settle into one of the wonderful television shows available or an old, much-loved DVD. So almost all my reading has been bedtime, or early morning reading in bed, which means the Kindle. 

A few months ago, Acorn TV offered a new detective series called Whitstable Pearl. I enjoyed it, and naturally bought the first book in the series. As is so often true, the books are very different and offer a much more in-depth story and character development than television. This is not to say that the book is always better. I could barely read the Inspector Morse books, but I adore the television production and actually think it is much better! 

I expect I am not alone in being a foreigner who did not know that Whitstable is a real town. Look to the right - on the coast, and almost even with London on the map.

You can see loads of photographs here. It really sounds beautiful, though Julie Wassmer, the author of the books makes it clear that there are the usual problems with vacation destinations. The DFL, Down From Londoners, buy up property and use it occasionally, while the rest of the time they rent it out. These rents are mostly too high for the locals, and young people can't afford to live in the town they grew up in. Whitstable seems to have been able to avoid one of the downfalls of popularity and that is that their stores are less national names than local, independently owned. The author does an excellent job of portraying the landscape, the businesses, the public lands. 

I had the supreme reader's joy of reading the eight available books in the series, one right after the other. I so love finding a new-to-me author and doing this. The main character is Pearl who owns a restaurant called Whitstable Pearl which offers local seafood. She is a single mother whose son is now going to college in nearby Canterbury. This city is also described beautifully. Pearl's mother is a widow, quite alternative in her thinking (a bit like this reader), and very flamboyant in her choice of clothes and haircolors (not a bit like me there!). There are other characters who appear in many of the books, and then new ones who are introduced in each new murder case.

When Pearl was young she began going to school to become a police officer. She became pregnant with the love of her life (who by then had moved away), and had to leave. She isn't the kind to look back with regret. She has made a wonderful life for herself and her son. After her son leaves for college, she starts her own detective agency. She has a real gift for the work. She is one of those rare characters - a woman who is contented, self-assured, and quite genuinely happy.

I love this series and look forward to next year's offering.