Category Archives: Seasons

Disaster Averted

I got a family recipe from the wife of my German cousin Wilhelm. It is a traditional Christmas bread called Bremer Klaben. Petra speaks wonderful English, but her written recipe is, well, interesting.  It is ok that the ingredients like raisins and candied peel and flour are measured in grams. I have a scale that will do that for me. I really like cooking by weight, not volume.

The recipe calls for 60 grams of yeast.  I always assume a reference to yeast means granulated yeast. 60 grams of granulated yeast is about 1/3  of a cup. This only makes one medium-sized loaf of  bread, so I surmised that she was referring to cake yeast, not granulated yeast. The granulated equivalent of cake yeast is 4 1/2 teaspoons. Can you imagine what would have happened had I not made the proper conversion?  Disaster averted!

Tell about disasters you have averted (or not).

 

Rich Beyond Measure

I made broth last weekend.  It is the Brodo recipe from The Splendid Table with 9 lbs of turkey wings and 3 lbs of beef bones.  It simmers for 14 hours. It produces a couple of gallons of golden brown goodness. We use it all the time, so we try to always have some on hand.  We  consider ourselves rich as we put the broth containers in the freeze “This is wealth”, we say.  Who needs more things when you have broth?

We have much to be thankful for besides homemade broth.  We feel especially rich in good friends,  good coworkers,  and in our community as a whole.  In this season of rampant consumerism, I think it is good to consider all the things that contribute richness to our lives.

What makes your life a richer, more satisfying one?

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

This is a straight up-homage to the day. Not the turkey and football filled day, not the sweet potatoes and pilgrim hat day.  For those of us who don’t practice thankfulness as often as we should (including me), today is a day to help us do just that – practice thankfulness.

You’ve heard it before – what are you grateful for?

 

Leaf Vortex Conspiracy

YA and her boyfriend raked the leaves yesterday. If you live in the Twin Cities you’ll be saying to yourself at this point “the last yard waste pick up was two weeks ago – why did she wait so long”.  Well, I’ll tell you why.  I live next door to the tree that waits until every other tree in Southwest Minneapolis has dropped its leaves to start shedding its own foliage.  Every. Single. Year.

In addition, we live in a leaf vortex, right in the middle of the block. My neighbors to the south routinely have 5-6 bags of leaves, my neighbors to the north 4-5 bags.  My house this year – 20 bags.  I really think that my neighbors have figured out a way to get their leaves to blow into my yard at this time of year.

It doesn’t help that I detest leaf raking. Actually that’s not quite true.  I don’t mind the raking part.  It’s the bagging part I don’t like, especially now that we have to use paper bags; the paper bags are so unwieldy and hard to fill.  This is kinda how I feel about yardwork… I don’t mind the work, I just hate the clean up.  A perfect gardening day is when YA follows me about and bags up all the weeds and detritus from my work!

Anything you’re sure of, even if it doesn’t make sense?

 

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Sometime yesterday between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. I lost my winter attitude! It was exactly the same temperature when I went to work as when I exited my building at the end of the day.  I had on the same clothes, wore the same jacket.  But on the way home and doing errands I was COLD.  I turned up the heater in the car, rubbed my hands together and even sat on my hands at one stoplight.  I’m afraid it’s going to be a long winter for me this year.

What’s your favorite way to keep warm?

Haunted House

My mother is extremely pragmatic. When I was growing up, some of this manifested itself in not having many decorations around the house for holidays.  It was a waste of money and time to put stuff up just to have to take it down in a short while.  We did have a tree and stockings at Christmas but the rest of the holidays came and went without any seasonal knick-knacks or gewgaws.

I went the opposite direction – I have boxes and boxes of holiday décor in the attic: Spring/Easter, Chinese New Year, Cinco de Mayo, Fourth of July – you name it. But not as much comes out these days, since we got a naughty tabby.  Nimue is a terror on décor.  Nothing glass can go out.  Easter grass is a no-no.  Plastic Easter eggs hit the floor and then become dog toys.  So over the last 8 years I have put out less and less.  And now I find myself becoming my mother.  Seems like a lot of fuss when I have to guard it from the cat and then just put it away in a couple of weeks.

I did put out a few things last night for trick-or-treaters – a large ceramic pumpkin with our name carved out as the teeth, some tin can luminaries that I made years ago when YA was a toddler and the big orange candy bowl. I do have some pumpkins and corn stalk on the front porch as well.  Not quite the over the top haunted house that I used to have for Halloween, but it will have to do.

Here is one of my favorite haunted house poems:

Haunted Houses

All houses wherein men have lived and died
Are haunted houses. Through the open doors
The harmless phantoms on their errands glide,
With feet that make no sound upon the floors.

We meet them at the door-way, on the stair,
Along the passages they come and go,
Impalpable impressions on the air,
A sense of something moving to and fro.

There are more guests at table than the hosts
Invited; the illuminated hall
Is thronged with quiet, inoffensive ghosts,
As silent as the pictures on the wall.

The stranger at my fireside cannot see
The forms I see, nor hear the sounds I hear;
He but perceives what is; while unto me
All that has been is visible and clear.

So from the world of spirits there descends
A bridge of light, connecting it with this,
O’er whose unsteady floor, that sways and bends,
Wander our thoughts above the dark abyss.

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

What makes a good haunted house in your mind?

Hunter’s Moon

There was a beautiful full moon last night-The Hunter’s Moon. It is the second full moon of autumn, and was named by the Algonquin tribes as the moon for the time to go hunting and prepare for winter. The sky was quite clear and the moon was huge as I drove home from work at 7:00.  It had an orange tint.  The night before last it was almost full, and there were wavy wisps of clouds in front of the moon, making it look like the perfect backdrop for a a witch on a broom.

Tell about all the books, plays, stories, poems, and music you know of that are concerned with the moon. What are your own moon stories? Why is the moon so inspiring?