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 day 75: Blessed are the peacemakers
Saturday May 30th 2020, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,History

In Kansas, there was no violence nor looting. The people holding up the sign demanding End Police Brutality–were the cops.

In Santa Cruz over the mountains from here there was a peaceful demonstration that stayed peaceful. The chief of police, with no riot gear and no back up, met with the protestors and took a knee right along with them.

Meantime, my friend Catherine offered rhubarb from her garden and asked only that it actually be used. So I got it home and a few hours later teased her about my strawberry celery pie.

Note to self: mixing the flour/sugar mixture with the fruit and letting it soak in for awhile and then stirring again before putting it in the crust was absolutely the way to go. Never again just pop it straight in the oven.

Lockdown day 73: still baking
Thursday May 28th 2020, 11:13 pm
Filed under: Food

Ripe new cherries from Andy’s Orchard led to almonds, eggs, cherries, almond extract, and oh yeah sugar and a bit of baking powder. But it’s still healthy, right?

This time it went in the springform pan like it was supposed to, and the higher sides kept it from spilling over like it had done in the plain cake pan.

This time I know to ignore where it says to flip it over after ten minutes: let it cool first. Although, ask me if I still agree with me after it actually is cooled and I find out for sure, but right now it’s just out of the oven and smelling divine and you just can’t go wrong, really.

Lockdown day 71: Andy’s Orchard
Tuesday May 26th 2020, 8:56 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

Is it good? Yes. So much so that I can’t wait to spend an hour and a half pitting and stirring pureed cherries over a hot stove on a hot day again? That I’m not convinced of.

Which is kind of funny, because one of the things I picked up at Andy’s Orchard today was dried tart cherries as well as fresh Black Tartarians so I wouldn’t have to use cranberries next time. But there’s still another cup of that puree, so we’re not quite done yet.

That was the first retail venue I’ve stepped inside of since the lockdown began. It was roped off and marked into in and out and one way going around, there was the plexiglass barrier for the clerk, and at the entrance a prominently-placed sign requiring masks.

Theirs were cloth with bright cherries against a black background. Will they have peach ones later? I’ll just have to come back when those come on.

Mine had bright fish. 

Lockdown day 70: cherrybread
Monday May 25th 2020, 9:03 pm
Filed under: Food

“A simple yet artful way to expand your sourdough is to add different purees to the dough,” says the recipe with the pumpkin and cranberries that turned out to be so very very good.

I eyed that bag of Milk Pail cherries, knowing I was getting fresh-picked ripe ones tomorrow so best to be done with those.


Well, I wouldn’t know if I didn’t try. And so I pitted (carefully!), pureed, and cooked the whole shebang down to the texture of thick canned pumpkin, some of which Richard had with yogurt and proclaimed very good.

There was a one-term US Representative from Campbell, oh, 1990ish? or so, who held the distinction of being the only incumbent in the House to be defeated that year because he was just too out there; the incident I remember most is when Pepsi won over Coke in their bid to be the first American soda company to be allowed to market in Russia–so the guy derided it as Commie Pinko Juice and banned it from his office.

I will forever remember my mother’s surprised, loud guffaw when I told her who he was. Ernest Konyu? Earnestly Conning you?! For a politician’s name?!

What might we give if calling Pepsi outrageous names were the worst our Republicans dished out now, but meantime, in a non-rye aside, I am making commie pinko bread just for the fun of it.

I think.

Its juice did brown out a fair bit.

We’ll see tomorrow morning when it’s done.

Lockdown day 67: one fish two fish red fish time for blue fish
Friday May 22nd 2020, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden,Knit

I found the perfect shade of bright royal blue in my stash, exactly what I’d been looking for, and oh good it was labeled worsted weight superwash. Neighborhood Fiber Co. Nice stuff from nice people. My grandson Mathias has a baby blanket made out of that.

But I just could not make myself start that next fish with it. It was both thicker and more densely spun than what I was working with and the difference was just too much.

But the color!

I spent the day again wishing for it to be back to when you could simply drive to the yarn store to ogle the options in person.

But I did not want to waste a pandemic day, because this is what those are good for, how I make myself feel good about the isolation: getting that project finished after its two year wait.

And yet I didn’t have what I didn’t have.

Finally, it became, oh forget it, just go with the Malabrigo that isn’t the best possible dreamed-of color but it is what there is and I knew how it would perform with its peers in the wash and that counted for a lot, too.

Kalida’s Washington Square wool will get its turn in its own project–speaking of which, two circular needles arrived from her today for Venn-diagram-knitting the next hats at a denser gauge. Needles, meet yarn. From Ball’more, Maryland.

And then, at long last, I just did it. I grabbed a Rios color that would be just fine after all and simply started that silly fish. As soon as I did I loved it, with a strong sense of relief at the perfectionist logjam having finally burst. Who knew. It was right there all along.

Meantime, the English Morello tart cherries are starting to grow hints of red here and there, and I will definitely wait for that color.

Lockdown day 66: Frankenstein bread
Thursday May 21st 2020, 1:28 pm
Filed under: Food

So there’s this fresh-ground white cornmeal from George Washington’s grist mill, sitting there.

There’s this sourdough starter that I left on the counter rather than putting it in the fridge which means I had to feed it more flour and water every day, and it’s just sitting there.

I had this loaf of cranberry pumpkin sourdough but it’s no longer sitting there.

What if…

And so, Frankensteining the Fannie Farmer version, we have this:


Preheat the oven to 425. Butter an 8″ pan–I used my ceramic Mel and Kris cake pan (in the jewel colorway)

1 c. white cornmeal

1/4 c. plus 2 tbl flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/3 c. sugar

1/2 tsp salt

In a separate bowl, 1 egg beaten with 1/4 c plus 2 tbl milk and 3 tbl melted butter, to which you add 3/4 c sourdough starter

Bake for 22 minutes.


And the verdict is: it’s surprisingly cake-like, in both the texture and that it’s sweeter than I expected; I’m guessing the cornmeal was from a sweet white corn? Either way, it was definitely approved of.

Lockdown day 62
Sunday May 17th 2020, 10:02 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

The first few blueberries, ripe off the bush, shared.


Lockdown day 61: sourdough pancakes and driveways
Saturday May 16th 2020, 8:44 pm
Filed under: Food,Life

I was curious.

So I beat two eggs, added in a heaping tablespoon of thick and only slightly sweetened Greek Gods yogurt, then scooped out between a half to maybe 3/4 cup of sourdough starter. That was it. Whisk.

I debated whether to make it into muffins, except the oven wasn’t hot, or pancake style. Let’s go for pancakes, with raspberries on the side on the plate. I melted butter in the pan since there wasn’t any fat anywhere else and it made for a good, crisp outer edge in contrast with the fluffy inner.

The flavor was so much better than your standard baking-powder version. I am definitely playing with that idea again. Feed the sourdough starter, pass the maple syrup–those were good.

The other thing is we finally got the ball rolling again on the driveway after seeing how fast a new one went in next door. I’d been avoiding it because of the hundreds of contractor cold-calls I’d gotten last time I even so much as looked online–proof that oh yes they do most certainly sell your private data.

I consulted Angie’s List.

One very nice guy came and he measured, discussed, said he’d need permission from the city to cut tree roots within three feet of the trunk where the walkway had been lifted and needed to be lowered back down, etc etc. Richard was inside on the phone walking my mom through troubleshooting her printer, so I was the one dealing with him.

When he got all done I glanced over at the new driveway next door and told him that it had been my inspiration for getting off my duff. “Someone’s flipping it,” nodding at the For Sale sign.

“They did it rough,” he said, wincing. You could just see him thinking, For all that work and all that money, to not do it right…

I like contractors who take pride in what they create and he suddenly had my full attention.

Lockdown day 59: cue the corny jokes
Thursday May 14th 2020, 10:29 pm
Filed under: Food,History

It turns out that the mill George Washington built is still in operation–and that it was cutting-edge technology in its time.

Turns out you can buy cornmeal from that mill. Add in shipping and it wasn’t the most cost-effective way to go, but then I haven’t bought cornmeal in years so I figured two pounds was the right size to last me for awhile. Besides. It was just so cool.

I do like making cornbread that is all or almost all cornmeal, no or almost no flour: it’s tasty but very crumbly, and I tend to throw in an extra egg to hold it together and extra butter, but I haven’t had teenagers to feed in awhile so it’s kind of fallen by the wayside.

My order came today. Somehow the bubble wrap felt like a severe anachronism. Really? I mean, really? (The shipping peanuts were the potato-starch type, which was great.)

But then I cut through to what was underneath those bubbles and, yes, they were right–they absolutely needed to keep that thing from bursting out all over, because a historic-style tie made out of a strip of muslin is only going to get you so far; it needed to be held as still as possible as it bumped through the mail.

I should be typing this to you with a review of how the cornbread came out, but the bag was just too pretty to wreck its very first day here so there’s sourdough rising in the kitchen instead.


Lockdown day 54: Happy Mother’s Day tomorrow!
Saturday May 09th 2020, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Food,History

Another Milk Pail pick-up day, and the blueberries got turned into the compote for these custard cups. Almost no guilt and quite good.

Meantime, my cousin Heidi stumbled across this article about a real-life Lord of the Flies situation in 1966, except that that book was written by a violent alcoholic.

Six young boys from Tonga got shipwrecked together for fifteen months onto what was literally a deserted isle: it had previously been populated–till a slave dealer had kidnapped everybody, leaving behind the crops and the chickens whose descendants later helped sustain the kids till the day a boat captain just felt like going a bit out of the usual route that day.

The kids had prayed together; they had given themselves timeouts when they found themselves starting to fight rather than letting it continue. They behaved the way their mothers had clearly taught them.

They totally rocked that intense shelter-in-place.

Lockdown day 48: counting my peaches before they’re ripe
Sunday May 03rd 2020, 9:07 pm
Filed under: Food,Garden

The roasted radishes were definitely the way to go. Sweet, soft, no heat–and pretty.

This peach tree nearly died of leaf curl disease last year, but look at it now.


Lockdown day 47: Milk Pail!
Saturday May 02nd 2020, 9:57 pm
Filed under: Food

Milk Pail is back! Sort of.

Their old store is being bulldozed by the developer but it turns out they had a warehouse that they’d held onto, and they still had 45 years’ worth of connections to all kinds of suppliers.

In this ongoing shutdown, a lot of farmers are hurting badly and a lot of grocers are having a hard time stocking their shelves.

The newly retired Steve missed his customers. His daughter, back in college with the burden of stocking the shelves gone, was up for part-timing it now.

You could create a lot of market for individual small farmers if you were packing take-what-you-get bags of produce and olive oil, etc etc for several thousand customers via a drive-through.

And so, in a riff on the Community Supported Agriculture movement, they have started Brigadooning it on weekends. Order on Tuesday, pick up during your chosen hour on Saturday or Sunday, put your name and order number in Sharpie on a piece of paper and hold it up to the window with the back window rolled down or the trunk popped and they’ll just swing your order right in there with a smile, a no-touch contact but definitely a human one.

Last week for their first run it was mostly an assortment of marvelous cheeses with a few accompaniments.

Some of it went in the freezer, because there are only the two of us.

But the response was so enthusiastic that it was definite proof of concept, so now you can order bags of produce, too.

Man, it felt strange to get behind the wheel of the car, and did you ever notice how intense the leaves of all those trees that aren’t in my yard are? And almost no traffic.

Up one side of the parking lot, stop, roll the window and share a moment of oh it is SO good to see you all that went both ways, and back around the divider to the other side of the lot and away.

My first take on the radishes was, what on earth could an ileostomy patient possibly do with those?

There had to be something. Which is how I found this page. Roast them like potatoes and it comes out like that? Now I can’t wait to try.

Keenly aware that every vegetable in my fridge is one someone else didn’t get to find on the shelves, I made a big pot of soup and cleared out what was left of the older as I fit in the new, and it came out really good. Vegetables are food and flavor, not aspirations and intentions. We are definitely eating better.

Has anybody else been cooking a lot more since this shutdown started?

Lockdown day 37: raisin sourdough
Tuesday April 21st 2020, 9:53 pm
Filed under: Food,History,Knit,Life

That sourdough starter needed to be used, right? (Hey look, a personal XKCD cartoon!)

The pumpkin in that last loaf didn’t strongly flavor it but it did help keep it moist from Thursday to Monday–not bad for a no-fat bread. The birthday boy requested cinnamon bread; I used a stronger cinnamon (Penzey’s, not Costco this time) and doubled the amount but kept the pumpkin for the moment, since I need to use that up. It definitely passed inspection. This could get to be a habit.

The seahorse looks much better with eyes now.

The former President of Stanford University died of COVID-19 today.

Suddenly my patience with staying home went right back up again to where it needed to be.

I’m going to go knit another row.