Saturday, November 28, 2015

Pasta and Chickpea Stew

For this week's Weekend Cooking offering, I made Pasta and Chickpea Stew. It is a variation on a recipe in

I soaked a cup of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) overnight. This morning I cooked them in a large pot, adding water whenever it got low. First on high heat, then turned down to medium. They took maybe three hours to soften, but I didn't have to hover over them. I could come in and out of the kitchen to occasionally check. When they were soft, I added a cup of my tomato sauce (recipe here). Then I sautéed two good-sized garlic cloves in olive oil with added rosemary at a very low temperature for about ten minutes, and added it to the beans. In a separate pot, I cooked some macaroni, and stirred it in. I think there was about 2 cups cooked. And that's it. This made a delicious, filling, healthy, excellent supper.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

What I Learned from TV - November 24 (and part of a poem)

Each time I do a post about What I Learned From TV, I’ll begin with the explanation from the first posting:

Now that my kids are grown, and Tom has retired, I’ve been able to go back to my natural sleep pattern which is to stay up late and get up late. Tom’s natural rhythm is just the opposite. So, he’s the lark and I’m the owl. 

And what this owl does in the late hours is watch television- not in the traditional way but through Hulu, Netflix, TunnelBear, and Acorn TV. Most of the shows are British, though I am a great fan of a few American television shows, and have been watching some from other countries now that we have TunnelBear. Some of these shows Tom will watch in the mornings, but some of them are all mine. So, when I hear a great quote from a show I know he’s not going to watch, I’ll leave him little post-it notes near the computer keyboard. I had a notion this morning to begin a new ‘letter topic’ called What I Learned From TV so I can put up some virtual post-its for you to read and, hopefully, enjoy. Some are funny, some are educational, some are wise.

Several from Lewis

Upon viewing a sign that says - "fresh tomato's"
Lewis: I can hear you tutting even if you're not.
Hathaway: I don't like misplaced apostrophes.

A fellow policeman says to Lewis, Hathaway, and Dr. Hobson - 
Oxford on a summer's evening - is there a lovelier place in the world?
Hobson: Not a one.

Hathaway and an old friend run into one another in a bookstore. She has a book of Housman's poems, and says:
I mislaid my copy. You know how one sometimes has a hankering? I couldn't remember if it was 'happy highways where I walked, or went.'
Hathaway: Went; definitely went.
She says: Silly, I know, but it suddenly seemed the most important thing in the world to me that I knew.

I know that most of us understand exactly what she meant! Here is the part of A Shropshire Lad that they were talking about.

Into my heart an air that kills
  From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
  What spires, what farms are those?

That is the land of lost content,         
  I see it shining plain,
The happy highways where I went
  And cannot come again.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Nine years and a day

I began this blog on November 22, 2006. I cannot believe it has been that long. Nine years before that day my children were 15 and 12, and now they are parents. It boggles my mind. Time is the strangest thing. 

In a lot of ways this blog is a journal of our lives. I refer to it all the time. I check it for recipes, or for when something was planted. And I go back to old posts and read the comments. Sadly, a fair few are from people who have disappeared from my blogging life. Some have died, and others are just gone. I miss them. 

Pretty much since our granddaughter was born, I haven’t been around as often as I would like. The reasons, of course, are very, very wonderful. Hazel, Campbell, and Indy. Gradually, slowly, I am making my way back to writing my letters and visiting your blogs more often. 

Thank you all for staying around during these past years of writing just over 100 posts a year. Thank you for coming by even when I haven’t had the chance to visit you. Thank you for being my friends. Even though we’ve not met, I know you and care about you as I do anyone I know in my offline life. I am grateful beyond any words I can say.

I’ll end this with a picture of last evening’s sunset and one of Lucy waiting for Tom in the car. Both photos taken by him.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Today's picture/Sagittarius

Today at 10.25 am EST, the sun entered sagittarius. This poster hangs in Hazel Nina's bedroom.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Quote du jour/Gladys Taber

I can't believe it has been a week since I posted. Busy days with the grandchildren!

If you have never visited Beth Fish Reads, there is a section called Weekend Cooking.

Here is the description:

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

My offering this week is a quote from Gladys Taber. 

What's cooking is always evident, because we have no ventilating fans to whisk odors out.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

German's Sweet Chocolate Cake

Many years ago, Tom’s sister baked us what she called a German sweet chocolate cake. I had never tasted anything like it. When I was in the baking chocolate section of my local co-op the other day, I happened to see a package, and bought it.

I've never heard it referred to as German's, but clearly that's what the package says. I've seen it both ways on the internet. 

Last week I made the cake with Hazel Nina. So much fun! Before we even began she nibbled on the chocolate bar

and loved it!

She stirred the flour, baking soda, and salt together.

And then whisked the eggs. 

After we mixed everything together came the best part!

The cake was excellent! Both Tom and Matthew, Hazel's daddy, thought it was the best chocolate cake they had ever had.

I thought that the traditional coconut pecan frosting might be not be quite the thing for a toddler, so I made a regular confectioners' sugar frosting. 

And now for the recipe.

German's Sweet Chocolate Cake

Preheat oven to 350º F.

Over very low heat, melt together:
1 pkg. (4 oz.) Baker's German's Sweet  Chocolate
3/4 cup butter
Let cool a little, and put in mixer. (you can do it with a hand mixer, or just stirring well)
Continue beating, and add:
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix together:
2 cups flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Turn mixer down to low speed and add the dry mixture alternately with 1 cup of buttermilk.

Bake in 9x13 pan which has been greased with cooking spray for 25-30 minutes.

Easy to make and wonderful taste! Highly recommended.

You may visit Weekend Cooking to read more food related postings.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Today's picture/Not one, not two, but three goofy girls

When we take care of Hazel Nina, I text Margaret pictures so she can see her daughter on her breaks. On Tuesday I sent this one

And Margaret sent this back to us

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Today's poem by Galway Kinnell

The Man Splitting Wood in the Daybreak

The man splitting wood in the daybreak 
looks strong, as though, if one weakened, 
one could turn to him and he would help. 
Gus Newland was strong. When he split wood 
he struck hard, flashing the bright steel 
through the air so hard the hard maple 
leapt apart, as it's feared marriages will do 
in countries reluctant to permit divorce, 
and even willow, which, though stacked 
to dry a full year, on being split
actually weeps—totem wood, therefore, 
to the married-until-death—sunders 
with many little lip-wetting gasp-noises.
But Gus is dead. We could turn to our fathers, 
but they help us only by the unperplexed 
looking-back of the numerals cut into headstones. 
Or to our mothers, whose love, so devastated, 
can't, even in spring, break through the hard earth. 
Our spouses weaken at the same rate we do. 
We have to hold our children up to lean on them. 
Everyone who could help goes or hasn't arrived. 
What about the man splitting wood in the daybreak, 
who looked strong? That was years ago. That was me. 

Galway Kinnell (1927-2014)

Monday, November 9, 2015

No Man is an Island

Four years ago, I discovered a wonderful singing couple named Joey and Rory, and wrote about their album here. I have followed their lives ever since, via their website, and by reading Rory’s beautiful blog. I rejoiced at the birth of their daughter Indiana. And now I cry along with many, many others as Joey’s life is slipping away. When the baby was three months old, the doctor found cervical cancer. That was in May 2014, and now the end is drawing near. I don’t know her, but I care deeply about this woman and this family. Often now his blog won’t come up for a few minutes, and there is a message that it could be due to capacity problems. So many people visiting and writing the most heartfelt words. Other people just like me who don’t know these people but feel their pain and sadness so deeply. 

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; 
It tolls for thee. 
John Donne

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Today's picture/evening time

What my television watching evenings look like. Tonight is an episode of Lewis.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Why I love this time of year

This letter is an answer to a question from my friend Les, who is thankfully back blogging again. At the end of her post from yesterday, she asked:
I'll leave you with a question of the day: Do any of you actually like daylight savings time?
My answer is a resounding ‘yes!’ The morning after the time change, when I awaken, I feel like my life is just beginning. I’ve thought a lot about this, and I think I have figured it out after nearly 68 years. I am basically kind of a lazy person. Even as a kid, I remember going outdoors mainly for the good feeling of coming back inside. I love kitchens and studies and living rooms. I like to cook in the kitchen, read and do desk stuff in the study, and watch television and visit with people in the living room. I love my garden, but not necessarily the doing of it. I like the results. I like looking at my flowers from a bench. Unhealthy as it may be, I must admit that I am a sitter. I do take a walk most days, especially now we have Lucy (a good reason to have an active dog!) and I do yoga. I have always exercised to some degree but again, it is just so I can sit with less guilt. When I read books or look at magazines, it is the interiors I enjoy. I pore over word or photo descriptions of rooms in a house.  

All this is a lead-up to why I love this time of year. The early darkness means I can turn on my lamps and make the house feel cozy. I have more hours where I can be inside doing what I want to do in those rooms that I love. The summer is mostly too busy for me. Too much activity, too many people and occasions, too much outside stuff to do. I don’t get enough of that quiet, alone time that I need. The months from November through March allow me that time.

A year ago, I learned that there is a seasonal affective disorder in reverse. It was a really big deal for me to find out about this. It was just amazing to learn there are others like me. I am certainly NOT like the extremes listed, and in fact the only adjective that really applies to me in relationship to summer is what I’ve kind of talked about - ‘agitation.’ I don’t get depressed in the summer, but I do have a longing for more peace, more solitude, more November. And here is the article. Thanks for bearing with me. I expect there aren’t many who feel as I do, but then again, readers are usually an introverted bunch so you may well understand.

The article is from here:

You know what today is, right?

That whole Daylight Saving thing is over, which means it gets darker earlier.

For a lot of people that might be a downer. You get home from work and it's pitch black outside. Maybe you skip that run because it just feels too cold and dark. Then you feel bad because you skipped your run, and you open a bottle of whiskey instead.

Ok, we're getting carried away, but you get the point. Some people are SAD in the winter months — literally SAD — they have seasonal affective disorder. They'd much rather frolic in the summer sun.

But guess what? SAD can happen in reverse.

"There are people who have a very hard time dealing with the summer," says Norman Rosenthal, a psychiatrist and professor at Georgetown University. "For some people, warmer temperatures and brighter days can lead to depression, agitation, weight loss, insomnia ... in extreme cases, even thoughts of suicide."

Rosenthal was the first to name and describe the disorder, and he's known as the pioneer of SAD research, starting back in the '80s.

It's the summer version of SAD. For these people, this is the day that things start to get better.

Rosenthal says the gradual drop in temperature creates a calming feeling, as opposed to the agitation that the summer heat can cause. It's also the time when those of us who simply like winter can spike our tea, get the cozy plaid blankets out of the attic and watch television — I mean, read books.

For more on the upsides to winter, we found Jack Fitzpatrick. He's from Minnesota, so he's something of an expert on the cold and dark. We can all learn something from his attitude.

"I love the transition," Fitzpatrick says. "There is just so much time to spend inside because you don't want to be outside. You're just kind of hanging out. Sitting, eating food."

Allen Nguyen didn't grow up with Minnesota winters. He's from New Orleans, but he hates the heat. Cold weather is where he feels most himself.

"I can go outside when it's very serene, when it's very snowy or even when it's a nice fall day," he says. "It just feels a lot better to me. It's just hard to explain."

I'm with you, Allen. And he waxed philosophical too.

"When it gets cold, inside of me, I sort of understand that there's an end to things, a completion to the year," he says.

See? Daylight Saving Time is deep.

So don't just enjoy the extra hour of sleep, be excited about the change, the chilly weather and cozy, darker nights. It's the best time, Fitzpatrick says, to do the following:

"Sit, take a bath, wrap up under blankets and not talk to anyone."