But no pumpkin spice. Unless you want to.
Thursday September 29th 2022, 9:51 pm
Filed under: Food

I went looking for a pumpkin variant on the almond flour muffin theme and played with a recipe I found at Iheartvegetables.com.

What I did:

Bowl 1: 1 1/3 c almond flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp cinnamon. (Yes her baking soda might have made it lighter. This is why I will never ever put it in, much though I still love that old college roommate, and the texture was quite light just the same. More on that later.)

Bowl 2: melt 2 tbl butter in a glass measuring cup (yeah I doubled the amount of the original, because, butter, and yeah, butter, because it tastes better), swish it around, pour it into the now-empty third-cup measuring cup you used on the almond flour, add a maybe generous 1/4 honey to the butter-coated glass one (it makes it so much easier to get all the honey out). Beat together 2/3 c canned plain pumpkin, 2 eggs, the butter, and a tsp vanilla, then add to the almond flour mixture.

Note that if your honey is crystallized go ahead and use it anyway, just beat well.

Twelve muffins. Sprinkle crunchy sugar on top. I used the maple sugar that had been sitting in the cupboard for two years needing to be needed and it was a superb choice. Highly recommended.

What I also did: I started to drop the pan just as I was getting it into the oven, kind of stumbled forward and got it to at least land inside on the floor of it. I’d used paper liners and one of those went flying out and promptly burned while I snatched the pan out and stood there thinking, Wow. I’m 63 years old and I just did something I’ve never done before in all that time. Something brand new. Let’s not do it again.

Then I opened the door back up and pulled the bottom rack out so I could safely reach a mitted hand and spatula back in there, scraped what I could, knew the oven wasn’t hot enough now and after about two minutes simply put the pan back in anyway and let it try while the kitchen fan tried its slow best to get rid of the smoke.

So to the question of, did they rise just as high without the baking soda?

I have no flippin’ clue if they would have. They rose somewhat after all that, and they were definitely light and fluffy, but they did not have the usual upward peak at the center.

But I ate four and a half in two days, and I never do that, so that gives you an idea of how good they were.

Word of mouth
Saturday September 17th 2022, 9:55 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends

Y’know, I was just saying to my husband this afternoon that I wanted a cookie or something sweet like that but that I didn’t want to bake because then we’d eat the whole batch. If I could just buy one that’s as good as what I could make myself… If only.

And then I opened Facebook to see if anyone needed to be wished happy birthday.

One of my friends had just posted a picture of a gorgeous pistachio dessert from a local bakery she’d driven some distance to try out.

Turns out it was about two miles from us. Never heard of them. Opened in December 2019 and survived the pandemic–wow. Dairy free? Vegan? Nut free? Name your special dietary request and they can do it and everything is gluten-free. (They’re working on setting up shipping nationwide.)

Back in the Purlescence days, there were I think five people there who were seriously wheat allergic–just touching flour made one person break out in hives–or were celiacs, and it was one of those friends getting the word out that this place is safe for them.

You know I had to go try it out.

And then I had to take some to yonder allergic child of mine, quick while it’s fresh, before it starts raining tonight and all day tomorrow (YAY!!!)

So far, Richard and I have tried the chocolate muffin with the mini chips and monk fruit in them; we’re saving the  two frosted ones on the left for breakfast. Oh, and we each had an apple cider mini-muffin. Yum.

But just from those two tastes I’d say that yes. We will definitely be back. Probably way more times than we should.

For the love of Dandelions
Saturday August 27th 2022, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Food,Knitting a Gift,Life

The Alaska afghans had a dandelion in them because I was so enchanted by the one outside the kids’ door at their old house in Anchorage that was blooming well above knee-high. And because I got to feed some to well-fenced-away elk through the chain links after the farmer there said that that was their favorite food. There were a few blooming just, just past where the animals could reach to and they were happy to grab the ends and spaghetti-slurp them up from us (and thank goodness for how long those stems were; the reindeer over to the left were tame but the elk came with warnings.)


I decided this afghan needed a dandelion, too. A few rows after this you’ll be able to see better where the yarnovers settle into; it’s kind of a stick figure of a flower.

But it got me thinking of Dandelion Chocolate, because they make the best there is and the pastries to match and because bite by daily bite we had just finished off our last bar from them. Chocolate and sugar. Two ingredients. That’s all.

A few people in Ukraine are making, among other things, beaded necklaces with dandelion flowers below and their seed poofs floating off above.

On a whim, I sent them a link. Not that they need to go buy jewelry for all the staff or anything–but sometimes it’s charming to know someone created something both fun and meaningful that’s out there in the world just waiting to be admired.

Of course they loved it, but then, how could anyone not.

Use up the fruit
Monday August 22nd 2022, 9:14 pm
Filed under: Food,Knit,Recipes

Just for fun, a Ukrainian beaded necklace in granny squares. In late ’60’s colors to keep in character.

Made some progress on the afghan.

Meantime, I had some plums from Andy’s that needed to be put to good use, most quite small and a few of another variety a fair bit bigger. I whipped a warm stick of butter with 2/3 c sugar, then with 2 eggs, then added in a mixture of 1/2 c flour, 1/2 cup almond flour, 1 tsp baking powder and a pinch salt. Put it in a 9″ nonstick springform pan with a parchment bottom (my 9″ circles came with pull-up handles) and arranged halves of the small plums in a circle, skin side up, and half one of the big ones in the center.

I should have taken a picture of my pretty sunflower cake before baking it. It really did look like one with those golden plums and darker plum in the center.

When I pulled it out of the oven 45 minutes later (the recipe I was riffing off of with that almond flour said an hour and I knew that was wrong, 45 was pushing it but okay) I looked at that thing and there was only one description for it.

A bellybutton cake.

And it is very very good.

But it’s good
Saturday August 13th 2022, 8:56 pm
Filed under: Family,Food

If you take the Post’s recipe and use a bit less sugar and a tablespoon less butter and add in an egg, then it’s totally a health food, right?

(I added too many blueberries because I had them so I was going to use them, it overflowed, and Richard walked in the door saying, You’re burning something, with me responding, It did at the beginning but don’t open that oven yet.)

I’m typing this to remind myself to scrape that out of there after it cools and before the next time I set the oven to preheat.

Don’t forget the figs!
Tuesday August 09th 2022, 8:50 pm
Filed under: Food,Recipes

The essential sandwich of August. Thrown together after a Trader Joe’s run. So simple, so good.

Brioche slices spread with chopped sun-dried tomatoes, then slices of ham and cheese on top. Note that the New Zealand Organic cheddar cheese slices are on the thick side and big enough to pretty much cover that bread.

But then this: cut figs in half and put them, stems off, on the parchment paper next to the sandwiches as they bake at 350. Take the pan out at 13 minutes, put the half-roasted figs on top of the cheese, put it back in the oven another three minutes or so to let the fig juices run across the top. It surely would have been just fine with the figs on top from the get-go, but I forgot them until the things had been in the oven a minute already and I just kind of threw them at the pan.

Messy and worth it.

A blooper that worked
Saturday August 06th 2022, 10:18 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life,Lupus,Recipes

Our school district held to the traditional Tuesday-after-Labor-Day opening long after that was no longer fashionable. Years ago we got next-day camping spots at Yosemite, passing school bus after school bus as we drove there–and ran into a family we knew who were doing the same thing: no six month wait, just call and come right in, everybody else’s kids were in class.

The good old days.

Our friends Phyl and Lee throw a ‘last Saturday of summer!’ pool party every year before school starts. We older parents all remarked how odd it felt that that meant today.

Richard and I always arrive late when the sun is low.

I wasn’t about to go swimming with a heart monitor on, but sitting around the pool with old friends at a potluck, that we were definitely into. Made new friends who let me hold their baby.

All of this by way of saying that if you ever make my chocolate hazelnut torte recipe as four dozen mini cupcakes, if you get them in the oven and five minutes later see the bowl still sitting there on the counter waiting to go into the batter that has the half pound of hazelnut puree/cocoa/salt and you exclaim AAAGH! loud enough to be heard across the house and you only got the quarter pound of hazelnuts in that was a different step of the process–no worries. It’s all good. Yes the texture is more crisp cookie on top and a smoother texture than usual below because it’s got all that extra sugar relative to the ingredients that actually went into it, and not a whole lot of Cuisinarted nuts.

The verdict? They were devoured fast and I’m glad I saved a few here for breakfast.

I do have that half pound of waiting hazelnut meal with cocoa in it to play with, though. Whip some egg whites and sugar to meringue them into cookies? That’s my guess so far.

Summer sunlight in a ball
Friday July 29th 2022, 9:38 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

The termite guy came a few days ago to do the annual inspection.

His eyes studiously avoided the Andy’s peaches on the kitchen table that were smelling like every perfect golden orb of summer truly ought to. So just before he went out the door, I punctured his resolve by asking him if he’d like a Baby Crawford and a Kit Donnell I’d bought at my favorite local farm? (Picking them up and holding them out to him.)

You should have seen his face! He was so looking forward to those and so happy at being shared with.

There are new neighbors moving in across the street–tomorrow, according to my former neighbor who now rents the place out.

Only, as I was reading his text this morning, I saw a young family walking around the front yard there for just a minute or two, apparently showing their little kids what the place that was soon going to be home looked like. So it wouldn’t feel like a stranger to them but a new place to look forward to exploring.

I did a quick debate: I need to return the empty boxes to Andy’s but they’re the best things for not squishing easily bruised fruit around little kids and how many should I and I need to go introduce myself so okay what should I put these in…

They were already walking back to their car.

I opened the door and tried, but they were out of earshot and I’ll just have to wait for tomorrow.

Which was probably actually better; those few I had left were a week old and I really ought to get a fresh set for them–a thought aided and abetted by an incoming message from my friend Catherine asking if I were going anytime soon and could I pick her up a box of peaches if I did….

That settled it. I drove to Morgan Hill. Another box of Kit Donnells, Andy’s late friend he’d named his new variety after, another of Baby Crawfords, and Catherine and I could mix and match on those later (and did.) I threw in some Sweet Cherry Pluerries and some Green Gauge plums.

The clerk, recognizing me with a smile, asked as she checked out my fruit what I was going to make with all those.

The heart had only one instant answer to that and it surprised us both.


She did a little gasp for joy and looked me in the eyes and exclaimed, “Yes!”

Already breathing easier
Saturday July 23rd 2022, 10:03 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Lupus

I spent too much time in the sun yesterday dealing with the contractor when he needed my attention, and my lupus let me have it last night. It is summer, UV levels are high, and I’m super reactive to it. I debated going to the ER in the middle of the night and would have but I wasn’t sure enough that I needed to, and eighteen years of having it suggested that my symptoms were all in my head before the right doctor knew right away what I had to this day leaves me needing to be sure I don’t cry wolf in their eyes. There will always be a time when it’s worse. Save it for then.

The only way that way of thinking has served me well is in the doctors who know me knowing I don’t complain. And if I do…

My body kept forgetting to breathe on its own. It could if I made it, it just didn’t want to bother. This is how, twenty years ago, I ended up in a tilt table test in the hospital to stress my autonomic nervous system to see if the lupus was attacking it. 63/21 blood pressure/40 heart when they stopped it (it may have gone lower but that’s the last I remember) and alarms clanging and people running down the hall and bursting into the room (I could still hear, even if I couldn’t respond) said that yes, in fact, it was.

One doctor apologized to me afterward: he had considered ordering that test himself but had swatted away the thought because it was just too rare. Brainstem involvement? He’d only ever even heard of one other case.

I’ve found a number of other patients online–all of us having had doctors who didn’t believe it at first because it just doesn’t happen.

Except it does.

That complication faded out over about a year. It’s been so nice to have it in remission for so long.

I woke up this morning glad to wake up this morning and thinking, You know what? I want a pastry from Dandelion, darn it. I do. Calories be d****ed. But covid is up and exposure is dumb and San Francisco is a bear to drive to and through and it certainly wasn’t going to happen. So I didn’t say a single word to anyone.

Michelle woke up this morning knowing nothing of this little flare of mine with the thought, You know what? We should take Mom to Dandelion Chocolate.

She texted her father with the idea and could we pick her up on the way? They had a dairy-free option now that she really likes so there would be something for everybody.

Did I want to go?

Was this a trick question? They could drop me off right at the door there and, sure!

Turns out the block was closed off to car traffic, but we found a spot close by with a walk in the shade, at least. I had on my sun jacket and wide hat, doing my best not to be stupid that way.

We had such a good time. We splurged. We bought extra for tomorrow’s breakfast to look forward to. We had their hot chocolate. We enjoyed the by-now familiar faces behind the counter.

It was the perfect antidote to that brief siege of feeling sorry for myself.


(Edited to add: Saturday night was so much better. So much!)

Slow-mo dominoes
Friday July 22nd 2022, 10:33 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Life

Another day, another $495 spent on the house: a contractor who came at 8 a.m. sharp and got those roots and stump dug out of there so that we can finally get the fence repaired. It was a spot where the neighbor’s tree had fallen on our tree which had punctured our roof while upending the section of fence with its roots so that it eventually, after some years of precariousness, simply toppled over, too.

The guy’s boss had broken his foot in the minutes before he was supposed to drive over to our house Monday to give me an estimate. After explaining, he showed up on crutches the next day with someone else driving him. He was having surgery on it the next day. So I’m hoping for an easy recovery for Mr. Kelly, and I’m glad he had someone else on hand to do the actual removal because there was no way, poor guy.

My one selfish hope was for the employee to be done in time for me to drive to Andy’s before traffic started picking up again, and that proved to be no problem at all.

Because I had promised some Andy’s peaches for that small sewing job. They’re here and they’re waiting. Happy weekend!

“Sierra Rich” on the box
Saturday July 16th 2022, 8:02 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends

Ronni Spoll, if that message was indeed from you, it was great to hear from you! But there’s a typo in your return address and I almost remember what it should be but don’t quite.


Meantime, a neighbor’s kid who’s just starting out on that big growth spurt kids do was sitting in his front yard, looking bored and alone for some time and needing cheering up. Probably he was on weed-pulling duty, but even chores could use an occasional excuse for a break.

I went out there with a peach from Andy’s for each member of his family and said if they needed any more to let me know. “I went to a local farmer,” I told him.

He looked up at me.

“And they’re good!”

His face perked right up at that and he looked me in the eyes and then, without a word, got up to go take them inside to share and I thought fondly, I remember the teenage boy years: they don’t instantly find the words for everything they’re feeling, but love and food and time and they come out their best on the other side.

He’s a great kid.

Thursday July 14th 2022, 8:56 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Recipes

I bought some Hemskirke apricots at Andy’s for my friend Nina on Tuesday and she dropped by tonight to pick them up.

The muffins were cool enough to offer. I’d looked up the raspberry cupcakes in Sweet and even though they’re great, I wanted less fat and sugar, so I thought I’d play with it a bit.

They’re not too sweet, I warned.

I like not too sweet, she answered.

One bite and she really wanted that recipe. I told her I’d have to go write it down quick, I had winged it on the fly. So before I forget what I did, here goes:

Oven at 350, I used paper liners in my 12-muffin tin

1 c flour

1 c almond flour

1/2 sugar

1 tsp baking powder

about a half tsp salt.


Separately, whisk:

5 tbl melted butter

1/2 c Greek Gods Plain Traditional yogurt, which is quite thick and has zero runniness

2 eggs

1/2 tsp almond extract

Mix the wet ingredients into the dry, spoon out into the muffin tin, put three or four raspberries on top of each (that have been carefully patted dry with paper towels after rinsing) and sprinkle across the top with turbinado sugar or, what I had on hand, Costco’s organic sugar.

I checked them at 22 minutes and took them out after 23 after a toothpick test.

Nina said they had a bit of a marzipan aspect to them, and I said, Yeah, I like that, and she said she did, too.

And then she happily took her apricots home along with a muffin for her husband, with me saying, If you have more than you can eat, make those muffins–only put a cut-side-up apricot half on each one. (Let the skin of the apricot hold in the juices because Andy’s Hemskirkes have a lot.)

She was looking forward to it.

And a good time was had by all.

(I should go look around here to see how similar this is to the last time I did a batch along these lines.)

Edited to add, and if you ever wanted to hear Sandra Boynton’s voice, here’s your chance. Avec des petits pois.

My cherry amour
Saturday July 02nd 2022, 9:51 pm
Filed under: Food,Friends,Garden

So it turns out that the way to get me to finally pit over three pounds of small sour cherries at once that have been sitting in a mixing bowl in the fridge for days is to do it first thing in the morning in an old nightgown, sipping hot cocoa on the side. Spurts of juice turning your hair pink? No matter, you’re taking a shower after this anyway. Juice stains down the front? In that aging Black Watch plaid, who could tell? Or care?

It took about an hour, and when I finally put the now two and a quarter pounds of cherry guts into the freezer there was a keen sense of satisfaction that come Thanksgiving or Christmas, when I really really miss summer and the taste of sour cherries (which right now I do not) I can pull that right out and make a pie out of it, and not a small one either, and it will be glorious.

As I said to Richard a few days ago, I planted the tree, I watered the tree, I picked the tree, we eat the tree.

There are probably two more pounds on it. I’d been saving them for Eric and Aubrie, but it became one thing too many for them as they cleared stuff out to get ready for their move and it had become clear that simply showing up on their doorstep with processed cherries was even going to be too much.

They stopped by last night to give me their houseplants and left for their new life this morning and I will miss them dearly. But: they are looking for a house near my oldest sister. Cool.

I checked tonight. The cherries are not falling off yet. The cool weather these past few days surely helped.

Monday for the next round, then.

Needles and threads, too
Monday June 27th 2022, 9:50 pm
Filed under: Family,Food,Friends,History,Life,Politics

I got a message.

San Diego Jennifer, whom we adore from when she was in law school at Stanford, said she was flying into town for a wedding but there was a problem with her bridesmaid dress and did I have or did I know who had a sewing machine she could use for a few minutes and could we hopefully possibly get to see each other?

It’s been about ten years. I miss her. YES!

When she said what time she’d be getting off the plane I mentioned that it was our anniversary and what time our dinner was set for. She said she could come tomorrow.

Oh what the heck, she came today and when she ran out of time she borrowed the sewing machine, but not till we’d had a great time catching up for far too short a time. Her friend who’d picked her up from the airport got invited in too because of course.

I offered them peaches from Andy’s.

I got to see the complete surprise on Jennifer’s face as her eyes flew open and then closed in ecstasy at that first bite. Her friend’s reaction to her own was simply, Wow. When I offered a second peach, the friend hadn’t been going to ask by any means but she was sure glad to take me up on it.

I sent them off with another two for the road. Those peaches are at their very most perfect today and they should be enjoyed just like that.

Our dinner arrived minutes later. I’d ordered it delivered so that there wouldn’t be any last minute tension or scramble, it would just come, and turns out Richard’s meeting, the real wild card in all this, had gone over. So it was just as well we weren’t wrecking a restaurant’s reservation schedule.

So: 42: Life, the Universe, and he’s my Everything.

Richard’s family had served all the raspberries anybody could eat at our wedding breakfast. His grandfather had a quarter acre berry patch in Northwest Washington, DC in what’s now the Obamas’ neighborhood, where in the 1930s he’d bought the plot next door as well as the one he built his house on and forever after refused to sell it because that was his garden and his raspberry patch. He was born a farm boy and wanted to work some land. (Even if he was the lawyer who wrote the laws governing the new Federal Radio Commission, which became the FCC with him as chairman at one point and–I need to ask my sister-in-law to be absolutely sure, but our memory is that he was the author of the Fairness Doctrine.)

Yesterday’s recipe? We ate it for breakfast. It had to be raspberries. Go Grampa H.

And I get a second visit with Jennifer when she brings the sewing machine back. We’ve made an appointment to go out to lunch.


Before I forget, for those who missed the announcement. The January 6 committee said today that they had new information and were holding an emergency hearing at 1:00 Eastern Tuesday, with some of them flying back to DC for it after having gone home for the Congressional recess.

It should be interesting.

Notes on messing with a new cobbler recipe
Sunday June 26th 2022, 10:04 pm
Filed under: Food,Recipes

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 c flour

1/2 c almond flour (original recipe simply called for 1 c plain flour)

2/3 c sugar. (original recipe said 1 c plus another 1/4 across the top, which I didn’t do, and as it came out I’d probably do a half cup next time instead of 2/3. Unless grandkids were around.)

1 egg

Mix until you have small crumbles

In buttered 8″ pan (ceramic one in my case), put two cups of fruit. (Raspberries, here.) Top with mixture. Use a spoon to scatter 5 tbl melted butter across the top, put in 350F oven, bake 45 minutes (for me since ceramic pans take longer.)

Crunchy on top. Just right. Going to try it on some apricots next with a bit of almond extract.