Chocolate hazelnut raspberry
Friday July 24th 2020, 11:08 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Recipes

With a superfluous pomegranate picture just because I thought it was pretty.

I was ordering some pre-tempered powdered cocoa butter for chocolate making, as one does to help seed the right type of crystal formation, while wondering how summertime temps in transit might effect what I was buying it for… Well I guessed I’d find out.

The baking supplier dangled a half pound of hazelnut praline on my screen, and it wasn’t going to cost me any extra on the shipping so hey why not.

When it came it said 50% hazelnuts and it was sweeter than I would have made it. Y’know, all I had to do was throw toasted no-skins-on hazelnuts in the food processor and an equal amount of sugar (or less, for us) and then I wouldn’t have had to work all the oils back through the heavy substance of the stuff. Done. Gotta admit that is tasty, though. Into the fridge with you.

So here I was a few days later and there was this batch of homemade chocolate, quite dark. We’d just eaten a small lunch that definitely needed more to it.

I wondered…

So I nuked a little of that chocolate for 20, 30 seconds or so so it wouldn’t burn, just enough so that when I smashed it with a spoon it gave way and became stirrable.

And then stirred in a larger spoonful of that hazelnut praline.

And then folded a large number of raspberries in.

I got asked if I could go do that again? Please?

We didn’t quite eat the entire twelve ounces of raspberries but we came close.

Behold the Lillies of the field, how they grow
Thursday July 23rd 2020, 9:40 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Somebody is eleven months old today and cannot wait to be able to take the next step.

Tuesday July 14th 2020, 10:59 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Knitting a Gift,Life

Pomegranate tree picture just because. It grows like a yarn barf ball that the cat got into.

Seaching for something at the back of the middle shelf of the freezer in the garage this evening, several things from the top fell down on my head. Because I had just put them back in wrong.

I tried not to do a small freak out.

Including half a dozen concussive-type events with actually getting knocked out, I’ve had twelve.

My friend Phyllis’s sister died in middle age after two concussions in fairly short succession. I am a little too aware of the possibilities.

Got dinner done, went to go check on a plant, and was both opening the slider and stepping through when the bottom caught, the top bounced way back, and it smacked me so hard on the ear that after I caught my breath I had to take out the one hearing aid to ask Richard if there was blood. I have these semi-hard things in my ears, y’know, and, yeah. Not that he could see, though, so, good.

Next thing you know I’m trying not to throw up. Richard had me go lie down awhile with his, I have no idea what you call it: an ice head belt? It’s black, it’s like fabric-pot fabric, it has pockets for ice packs, velcro hinge-type things to flip over and hold them in, and sideways velcro to hold the contraption around your head. Good for migraines.

The room was spinning. It’s been worse, but. I was quietly feeling like, don’t leave me. I didn’t actually ask. He stayed with me.

After about 40 minutes, I got up and watered the now-four-branches baby apricot and veggies out of sheer cussedness: those pots dry out fast and I’ve put too much into them not to now.

Then I typed all this out so I would be able to go back later and see what date this was.

And went, but you know? What I really want to do? Is to finish that stupid hat I keep not wanting to work on.

So I did. I sewed on the ears–in a solid line down the sides of the upper face this time. I worked in all those ends and I used them to cover up some of the mishmashed color changes as best as could be done, and-

–wow. Who knew. Sterling was right. That one is a lot cuter than the second try–or just different, but, it matches much better what he was hoping for and it’s a really relatable, cute face now.

I can’t wait to get it to him.

I’m going to let him be the one who’ll drive over here. I’m taking it easy for awhile.

One to two weeks
Monday July 13th 2020, 10:52 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

It’s worse than buying a car. At least with a car you get to drive it home.

We’ve been saying for over a year that we needed to replace our mattress. It’s a Stearns and Foster and we’ve had it for 26 years and it’s held up–made all the more marvelous by the fact that the previous one did for all of two before neither of us could stand it anymore–we were totally burned. The current one is still pretty comfortable for me after all this time, but not for him anymore, and it used to dampen movement but really doesn’t anymore. At all.

Which is bad when you’re a light sleeper and the big guy isn’t.

I spent hours, on several different occasions over those months while we debated, trying to learn everything about buying a mattress. The first thought was, go high end again: nobody expects one to stay that good for that long but our expensive one did and it more than paid for itself vs the costs of replacing again and again and again.

And then I read that S&F got bought out.

And a review by someone saying they weren’t what they used to be.

Now, I don’t know if that’s true nor fair but it stopped me–I knew no serious alternative. Not when you want zero off-gassing.

But last night was sleepless. It was time. I went back to Consumer Reports, only I decided not to look at individual ratings–I looked at their ratings of the brands themselves.

And then at the top mattress of their top company, because my 6’8″ husband is not lightweight and I wanted not to have to deal with all this again.

Charles P. Rogers “Estate Lifetime.” Gotta love a name like that, and yeah, it’s all marketing, but–I have a talalay pillow and know how comfortable it is and it is the only pillow I’ve ever heard of with a ten year warranty. (Maybe down pillows do? I wouldn’t know.) The Fourth of July sale was still on, and since Stearns and Foster’s ends tomorrow one can only assume Rogers’ does, too because you know they know who their competition is.

The movement dampening was a particular claim, both on their part and at Consumer Reports.

My sweetie and I talked about it. I asked many questions via the company’s chat.

I walked away, let it percolate for awhile, came back, talked to Richard some more, and then we sprang for it.

And now all we can do is hope.

The trick is not to lick your fingers
Saturday July 11th 2020, 10:37 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Especially in a pandemic, and we don’t. Wipe it off your fingers with a paper towel. It’s a messy process and it does use a lot of them.

Meantime, what with our air conditioner having gone out during a heat wave–all fixed now–I found that all the chocolate in the house had become untempered. Same taste but grayed a bit and it just didn’t have that snap to it, and then gradually the last of the homemade chocolate, the best stuff around here, just…somehow…vanished. Go figure. Right?

Bless my sweetheart, he proclaimed himself fine with my running the melanger these past 24 hours despite a migraine. The man is a keeper.  Grinding cacao nibs between granite stones is not an overly quiet process.

Last time I poured it out we filled eleven molds–but to be fair, they were shallow silicone ones.

He poured this time, though, and the newer lucite molds are deeper, so even though I processed a half pound more than we ever have, (@Afton: 2.5 lbs) there are five molds cooling over there. There was one particularly deep one which he’d filled to the tippy tippy top.

The smaller the pieces the less the guilt, but not this time. We’ll just have to live with ourselves.

Edit: Oh wait. I *am* tired. There are eleven bars in those five molds, that’s right, just some of them have quite a bit more to them this time. Alright then.

The Babcocks
Saturday July 04th 2020, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Garden

Our yard’s first squirrel-free, scrub jay-free peaches in two years. Very juicy.

And, frankly, rather flavorless. Being in a clamshell sped up the ripening process, I guess–they about fell into my hand–but not the sugaring.

But we got them and they were ours and there are more peaches to come that are protected by citrus-branch barbs rather than plastic boxes.

Pulling a raspberry
Friday July 03rd 2020, 9:58 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Somewhere at a pick-your-own farm.

Lillian tried a few raspberries, pulled a face, considered, and then decided, Wait–I like these!

And then the basket was no longer in her reach. All in good time, love.

The convert
Saturday June 27th 2020, 11:12 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

My husband was sent by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to be a Mormon missionary in France in the late 1970s.

Where there was a chocolatier on practically every corner, as he liked to describe the cities there.

When we were dating in college I had no idea what his problem with Hersheys was nor why one would want to eat what seemed like excessively bitter bars. But he knew what a dark chocolate from good beans could actually be, and despite the dearth of those in the States he eventually won me over to the dark side.

And so it seemed that celebrating our anniversary in great chocolate was the way to go.

Dandelion on Valencia Street in San Francisco, it turns out, takes orders via smartphone and lets you pick up at the door.

They have a talented pastry chef as well as their excellent small-batch chocolate. Anything you get there, it’s going to be good.

We got a parking space just one storefront away. That never happens.

This being very much the city, lots of people walked by, not as many as pre-pandemic but still not a few, and a few sat at the tables set up out on the sidewalk.

Most were wearing masks. The ones who were not kind of stood out. Only one person, tall, white, older, male, looked like he dared anybody to call him on it–he was swaggering down that sidewalk.

What struck me was how alone he looked.

Richard, picking up our hot chocolate and pastries, found himself being crowded at the door and turning and saying, Six feet! Figuring there had to be some pushback from someone for their risky behavior if it was ever going to change. He was protecting me (I was in the car) and he was protective of the people trying to keep that business in business.

Personal space. Masks. It’s just not hard, people, look, all those others were managing it.

I tried the S’more: a crisp homemade perfect deep chocolate cookie with a large homemade marshmallow on top that barely held in a lake of molten newly-made chocolate that I’m not sure had any sugar added to it at all, but as you bit into it and the melting marshmallow, creme brûlée made divine was somehow the description that came to mind.

I had no idea you could create something built on that concept that tasted that good. Wow.

This honeymoon story.  Melting marshmallows for the anniversary for sure. And there was a potency of skunk outside the house after midnight last night, and although it was not close enough to pet it this time, I think we celebrated our 40th right after all.

Waited a year for those
Friday June 26th 2020, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

Anya apricots. Picked this morning, since I’ll have to wait about five years for mine. Worth the trip to Andy’s Orchard, and I got some early-season peaches and cherries, too.

Out of curiosity, I added some raspberry honey from The Honey Ladies, which surprised me by being my new favorite right up there with their less-sweet poison oak blossom.

All the employees were wearing lined black face masks with room for a filter, with a motif of red cherries with green stems and leaves,  and they had some for sale. Very reasonably priced. Very soft. Quite happy with mine.

Got home, walked in the door, walked in the kitchen, rinsed a good handful of those cherries and put them in a small bowl in front of my husband, who dove enthusiastically into them as his meeting and his screen continued.

Looked out the window and thought, there’s always a possibility of snails making it up the pot to my baby tree. So I’m saving the kernels again, out of curiosity if nothing else: a year ago I found two very differing methods of sprouting them, and somewhat against my better judgment followed the one that had you submerging them for 24 hours after their winter in the fridge.

It seemed a good way to rot them.

It was.

So I’ll try the damp paper towel thing next time, because, science!

(P.S. What would you do for your 40th when you can’t go anywhere?)

Not as planned
Monday June 22nd 2020, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Family,Friends,Life

The plan this morning was, I was going to the pharmacy and then swinging by the hardware store that has the fan I’d paid for waiting to be picked up.

I got in the car. I turned it on. Everything was fine. I put it in reverse.

Screamingly NOT fine as I backed up.

I looked around for the drag-racing cars or motorcycles with no mufflers??

I put it in gear and it somehow got louder, loud enough to shake the steering wheel–I bet they could hear that car a half mile away, and a neighbor out walking stopped and stared at it like, holy cow. I got it back in the driveway, smelled the burning, came in and told Richard and called the police.

The thieves who’d stolen the catalytic converter had left a few spare parts in the driveway. They can get a few hundred for the rare metals, while replacing the thing costs about three grand. I’d read that older Priuses are a particular target and you can pay to have a metal plate added to try to thwart them, but earlier reports had said (erroneously) that ’07 models weren’t affected so we hadn’t spent the $300 to weld such a thing in there.

Later reports included our year, though.

But it’s easy not to spend a lot of money on something you’d never knowingly use if you bought it. Plus there was the guy quoted who’d had that done and they still got his car a second time.

Those moments felt like the day of the 1987 Loma Prieta earthquake: I knew this could happen, I knew it was a possibility, I knew it was possibly even a likelihood if we kept the car long enough but I just didn’t ever quite know that it could be *today* that we would have to go through it. Three grand. Three grand. Three grand. For that old but low-mileage car that has served us so well and so long. (Heck, we’re still on the same 2/3 of a gas tank as early March if not February. I guess we’ve taken our shelter-in-place seriously.)

No AC and now our car’s been destroyed by thieves and we only have the one. I was feeling quite sorry for myself.

The cop was, to my relief, wonderful. Insurance wasn’t going to go anywhere without his input.

And then: Anne showed up at our doorstep with not one but two fans to cool us down. Surprise!

And then: I found myself throwing the door open a little after she left and exclaiming, Joe!! I’d finally been allowing myself to hear that he’d said Tuesday–or Wednesday, if he could get the… (Scolding myself, Don’t only pay attention to the Tuesday part because that’s the one you liked, hon.)

And it’s only Monday.

Joe explained that with the just-in-time manufacturing that I wish companies would realize how much it alienates their customers, turns out it was going to be two weeks to get that model blower motor.

He was almost apologetic as he said that this brand and this brand are owned by the same company and the parts are interchangeable–just the names printed on them are different. But he had, he’d found an identical one by the same company/different name on it that would fit just fine and was that okay with me?

Two weeks vs right this very minute? Is this a trick question?

Anne’s fans did their thing while the AC caught up. She laughed via text, If she hadn’t brought them over we’d have had to wait two weeks for that motor, right?

The car insurance gave me a claim number and will get back to me tomorrow about it. No questions were answered yet except that a rental is covered in our policy.

I googled and found an article saying that with driving way down because of the pandemic, it claimed that most of what car insurers are dealing with right now is catalytic converter thefts. Yow. Maybe that meant ranked in terms of the costs to the companies, though.

We really ought to own a fan, meantime, and I think that when I finally get to Ace with my story they won’t mind that it took me so long to pick it up.

Happy Father’s Day!
Sunday June 21st 2020, 10:32 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

His face: Pleasedon’tleanonmetogetintothecomputercamerafortheSkypeitiswaywaytoohot.

Video chats, our kids, grandkids, good times. Lillian at ten months clearly now realizes we are actual people who respond to her and smile at her and love her and she tried to crawl through the screen to come to us. Sweet child, if only. But we love you too much to risk you and they all love us too much to risk us.

Tuesday is the estimate for when our HVAC guy can get a blower motor to fix our air conditioner. It will be so cool.

And a little child shall lead them
Saturday June 13th 2020, 9:39 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

Got all kinds of things done that needed to get done–laundry, cleaning, Milk Pail pickup, the weekly hour forty-five spent watering all the trees, there’s sourdough bread rising, even got a little knitting in but nowhere near what I should have.

But in the back of my mind the whole time was the errands I would be running if I could be running them and someday this pandemic will pass and I’ll get to really see the world outside again and my friends in person and man I can’t wait.

My phone buzzed.

It was a video of Lillian. Somehow she is nearly ten months. In it she pulled herself up below a window, bouncing and vocalizing for joy, patting the wall and then grabbing the windowsill, bouncybouncybounce delighted with herself that she could do this now and turning and grinning at the camera.

She could almost, almost make herself tall enough to see straight out that window, but looking up makes her happy.  Right now, no waiting.

Loaf-flying chopper
Wednesday June 03rd 2020, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Life

My last two KitchenAid mixers did this, too: as they got old, the on-off switch stopped being reliable. You could turn the darn thing off and it would simply keep going till it ran out of steam.

I found this out with the first one years ago when I had my hand down in the bowl and it must have been just enough movement that it toggled itself on and gave my wrist a compression fracture.

This one, as always a 5 qt size because at the time that was the biggest home-kitchen one they made (and because at this point I have all these extra bowls for that size), has been at that stage for about a year now. But it still runs, and it still turns off, if reluctantly, and I can always unplug it if need be. Haven’t needed to yet. I’ve been thinking for awhile now how replacing it would be a lot of yarn money.

I am typing this carefully. It was the top of the dough hook this time below my thumb. I knew better, that’s the thing, it was sheer stupidity on my part.

I figure if it’s broken I’ll know for sure tomorrow because it will hurt more then, but right now we’re on 8:30 pm curfew for ten days, Urgent Care is closed, and the ER is just not where anybody wants to be during a pandemic even if they’re separating suspected covid cases at triage, which they are. And I seem to be able to manage.

When Richard said by way of comforting that he really enjoyed that sourdough, it helped. A lot.


Edited to add in the morning: the pain is not more localized and it’s not sharper so it’s likely just bruising. Carry on!

Official lockdown day 76
Sunday May 31st 2020, 10:13 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends

The backstory on the pie: my daughter was looking at the strawberries we’d gotten from Andy’s Orchard and dearly wished for rhubarb to complete them. But one only goes to the grocery store these days when it’s a necessity and we didn’t even know where to find it now that our old source is gone.

Friday night, knowing none of that, my friend Catherine said she was picking more rhubarb from her garden than her family could eat and offered it to all on the ward chat–with the one request that if you take it you eat it.

I had an order already in for the Milk Pail Saturday morning produce pick-up from their warehouse: you pull up, you roll down the window, they swing in the bag of random plantliness, no choosing, just a good price and far fewer hands between you and the farmers.

So: there, then Catherine’s.

Where I opened the back door to see for sure. It looked like chard, but no, it was indeed kale, and my sweetheart has strong opinions about kale, as in, why would anyone do that to a perfectly good meal?

Poor little unloved kale, you look good to me, and part of me almost didn’t but it felt right and I put the little foundling in its green bio-friendly bag on Catherine’s doorstep as I picked up the waiting rhubarb.

And went home and sent off an email explaining why she was going to be finding it there and that I hoped it had found a good home.

Which she didn’t see for a few hours–but she did see the kale and had no idea how it had gotten there.

What she answered is that she had found it and gone ?!!!!? She had just then been finishing the last kale in her house. She loves it, she loves that particular variety of kale the most, she eats it all the time and she was quite sorry to be out of it to the point of debating risking an unnecessary run to the store just to get more.

Just like we almost had for rhubarb.

And there it just shows up right at her door just like that.

And already there were the pictures of the rhubarb strawberry pie: we’d used it all up.

Lockdown official day 63
Monday May 18th 2020, 10:09 pm
Filed under: Family

They can put it in the mail and tell you when it should be expected but the mail might not be much able to hurry right now. Even when it was for Mother’s Day. Tracking told him it was delivered, then they said no it wasn’t, then they said it would be, and then it wasn’t.

Finally, at 6 pm tonight, my Mother’s Day present arrived.

My phone is being obstinate and not letting go of the photo just yet.

To be continued.

Edited in the morning to add the picture of cheerful, teasing sibling rivalry in a mug. From the taller kid.