Much to be grateful for this year, and I wish each of you good times, good health, good people to love and beautiful skys overhead in the coming year.
Had to take a break from my work tonight to show you that all is well with the world in my little corner. This means that yes, my spice cupboard is all spit-spot once again. Actually the whole thing is looking pretty darn good.
Then there's the quilting stuff, now that my yearly cleanup is done.
So is there any better dinner than this: a bit of cheddar, some simple saltines, a glob of cream cheese, some tomato/onion/spicy relish to top the cream cheese with, some green and greek olives and a pear that is meltingly ripe. A ripe pear with that sweet, gushing liquidness followed by the crunchy grit of the skin and pear stone cells. Ooops did I say that out loud? You know what I mean. Sweet, liquid, grit. Tang and spice. Salt and sweet. And a nice glass of red.
Ready for the new year? Need a good read to fire up the ol' brain cells? This has mine working overtime. To enjoy the work of the author, go here.
I know you've been hanging around today waiting for the sign that this year's present report has been posted. Well, your wait is over!
You have to admit that there's nothing quite like either one of these things. Mine is a big bobble head. No, really - a bobble head. Which of course adds to the whole effect. And those shoes! The tail is spring-loaded too.
In a moment of inspiration, I packed Mike's present with a whole lotta walnuts and don't you know -- that thing really did a great job. Andy was our chief walnut provider.
Thus endeth another year with some great presents and just a wonderful day with family. Oh yeah, and then there was the bag of hawaiian and other shirts. A tale for another day.
Went out and did a little shopping today. Working in a mall, when the end of the workday comes, going shopping isn't so appealing. Online shopping, good. Small stores, good. But still a few things were needed so off I went. The Tar-Jay wasn't crowded, although the lot appeared pretty full. The shoppers were moderately jolly, and there were visible groups of men shopping together, urging each other to stay on task. Most of the families were pretty relaxed. Here and there Tar-Jay staff were kidding around over walkie-talkies while restocking and sifting through shelves. The register folks were pretty darn mellow too, so I count it all good.
Grocery store: busier, with very intent shoppers. Carts full of eggnog, chips and platters. Line at the butchers' counter waiting for big roasts to appear with one's name on it to be called. Fancy Schmancy crown roasts to be had in the cases too. People called out holiday greetings from one check-out aisle to the next.
All in all a good outing. All it needed was a few flakes of snow to give it that extra mid-winter festival feel.
There are people who sneer at even the possibility of being sucked into a tear-jerker of a movie, or sobbing over a book, or feeling verklempf, let alone nostalgic over a song lyric.
Well I'm here to say -- phooey to them -- and here's why: I'd rather be transported to a place of tears while watching "It's a Wonderful Life" or to know that feeling of worry over a book's character or to feel that little knot of hope and everything else over a song, than to NOT feel those things.
The delightful Suzette recently posted lyrics to a John Denver song. That's right, a John Denver song. I can hear the snorts and derision and you over there - just cut it out. The lyrics are simple and the message is both simple and basic. So why did this grab her? And why did it grab me too? Why do people still listen? Because the message rings true. The ideas posed are those thought about for generations. Poems, books, songs have been written about them.
When I read the lyrics I thought about them. I thought about the words but I also thought about how they affected me and I realized that I enjoyed responding to them. Simple words, universal message, beautiful tune, feelings of hope and the great feeling of recognition - yes, I know that feeling. I believe that can be. I want it to be so, just like you. We share that.
I've been reading Good Poems for Hard Times the second volume of poems edited by Garrison Keillor. You over there, the snorting one - you can leave now. Many of the poems are about everyday life, situations and feelings we all share or witness. Poem after poem made me stop as something big came down to this small moment, these few words.
Isn't that what a creative act, art, whatever you want to call it is? To hold that universal idea for just a moment so we can react? To give us that "oh!" moment over something we are pretty familar with?
12/20/2005 10:45:00 PM
Oh those minyons of mine - always on the lookout for wonderful comics of the season. Just for you, dear and gentle readers, Garfield Thanks minyons! You know who you are.
Nice day off. I got the kitchen ready for a bunch of cookie-making. And just to prime the pump, I made -wait for it - sugarplums. Believe it - freakin' sugarplums. I have no idea if these are indeed what danced in wee children's heads while waiting for Santa to arrive but I can tell you that they'd make most children sleep pretty well (they have some alcoholic content).
If I daresay it, these sugarplums are basically small fruitcake-like balls only without any cake. Just fruit. Fruit, nuts, a bit of rum and some sugar and cocoa for rolling the sugarplums in. Excellente!
Wondering what the rest of the wine-blogging world chose for Derrick's hosting of Wine Blog Wednesday? Better go here and plan on spending some time checking out the cool results. Many many entries and lots of interesting photos of pretty labels. Thanks for all the hard work putting this together Derrick.
The weather guy tried, in the way-too-early and dark hour this morning, to convince me that we have had fewer than normal heating degree days so far this year. All I can say to that is "damn, it is cold!"
For WBW 16, I've chosen a distinctly anti-Derrick theme: Judge a Bottle By Its Cover.
Go to some store that sells wine, or root around in your cellar. Find a wine—any wine—whose label catches your eye. Ideally, it's one you don't already know, but I'm not going to chastise you on that point. Open it. Taste it. Write about it. On December 7, coincidentally the day when another year slips through your host's fingers, post your thoughts on your blog/website and tell me where to find them. Not just about the wine; we also want to know why you like the label.
I passed up a lot of silly emus and stuff before I ran across my first choice, Alta B by Wagner. I like the way the profile of the young woman fills the label shape, its warm colors and the pastel-y feeling texture. I like how the colors work with the text to make it easy to read and yet part of the overall design. It struck me how the woman's image was not placed in any particular era, even on the back label which gives a much different view along with some appealing text and little gauge.
I opened this while finishing up prep for my weekly pizza (from scratch) dinner. Huge grapey smell. Wonderful big mouth experience and more grapiness. Not overly sweet but not much in the way of dryness either. Perfect with pizza. I just enjoyed every bit of it and with other meals as well.
Bad news: I opened a second bottle tonight for the photo op and well, it was plain bad. The cork looked odd and the wine was definitely skunky.
Good news: at $8 a bottle, I'm willing to try another bottle to see which one was the fluke.
Buoyed by my first great choice, I tried this from Pindar Vineyards, LI, NY. I was drawn to their label because of the very simple yet striking image and interesting use of strong color. Plus I had this whole college/Cat Stevens flashback thing going on, so how could I resist? I enjoyed the ironies of the back label
This was also a very nice simple red wine. Not as sweet as the Alta B but still no puckery dry wine either. Very robust. Although there was a lot of red grapiness, there was also a background of other more complex and perhaps fruity flavors going on too. I enjoyed it and at $10 a bottle wouldn't hesitate to try it again. Definitely more of a drinking wine than an splash-into-the beef-stew sort of wine.
Finally, the one I chose because I liked the label but also because I wanted to try something really different. Pomegranate Wine from Proshyan Wine Factory, Armenia. The whole bottle appealed to me. Loved how the label fit the shape of the long bottle. Loved the red red label and the image. Loved how they put a little pomegranate on both the front and the back label, and even into the label art itself. Yes, at first glance it looks a little like a heart, but no, it's a pomegranate. On the back i thought there could have been more room between the history lesson and the geography lesson, and a little more thought on fonts in general, but hey.
Opened this tonight in honor of Derrick's birthday. Nice big pomegranate aroma right off the top. Medium red with a little orange overlay to it colorwise. The flavor was big part pomegranate with something else- a little dry bite, a little powdery/candy-ish something but overall very nice. Probably will be nice to use as part of a sauce although I'd tread carefully first time out. Not something I'd plan on buying a lot of but nice enough and fun to try.
Thanks Derrick for the reason to try some new things and write a bit about them. Happy Birthday!
UpdateIf you want to see some of the other labels that people chose, look here.
Rye toast for breakfast - and the report is that it's quite good. For a first attempt it was excellent, I say albeit a bit biased! I think it needed a little more slashing and steaming in the baking to allow for more oven spring. And it needed an egg wash to keep the caraway seeds attached. This is really just window dressing - the real deal are inside the dough, but still. Crust good, crumb ok, (a hair dense which would fix with more spring-ability).
Worth doing and easy eating.
Snow day here in eastern upstate NY. Mom reminded me that I should "let he who put it there, take it away." Probably can do that this time of year with an inch or so of snow - who knows what tomorrow will bring.
I needed a change, needed to use some rye starter so the yeastie boyz feel appreciated or something, so I decided to try a different rye recipe from St. Hamelman. This time St H's "Light Rye". Pretty simple, mostly white flour, 15% pre-ferment (all whole rye) and not bad at all to work with.
And that was with splashing a little more water into it while mixing. Guess I'm over my fear of sticky dough.
Two big loaves as promised (mit seeds of course!) and it smells so good that I can barely stand not cutting into it. But I.will.wait. the crust has gone from super hard to nicely crunchy. Next time I'd do a little egg wash there but you know how it is - first time out you follow the directions!
Baking bread at the same time as making pizza is pretty good time management. Both start the night before as you make the preferment or starter or poolish. I try to look at the rising schedule of the bread to see which gets started first. Pizza is basically a two hour ferment with a folding in the middle. Then you have to look at how long in the oven. This worked out great tonight. The pizza came out and the bread went in. If you want to be really efficient about it, make something that needs a long slow bake so the oven is on to make everybody feel warm and fuzzy and growing.
A little eye candy for you today. Check out the blog and website of Renske Helmuth, Canadian quilt artist.
Another day of being sick. This really stinks, let me tell ya. I'm tired of being sick. OK, and I'm just tired. Sick of being tired and sick.
But there is good news.
Some of the stuff I ordered at lunch on Monday from Lee Valley for holiday presidents - arrived today! Now that's pretty great stuff. A big box of a lot of little great stuff. Yeah Lee Valley - I'm never disappointed.
I also ordered what will no doubt be a crowd pleaser.
I'd like to say more but you understand that I cannot. More on this in a few weeks. I can say no more.
12/01/2005 01:48:00 PM
December 1st is World AIDS Day, a day to reflect on those we have known who died of AIDS and to think about what needs to be done to gain control over this disease. One way to act is to speak openly about how people get the HIV virus. There are many ways: sharing drugs, unprotected sex with untested partners, transfer via bodily fluids including blood, transfer to fetus in the womb. Here are two sources of information and resources: