Baked Eggs with Taleggio from Shauna James Ahern and Daniel Ahern's new book Gluten Free Girl and The Chef.
What's not to love about this: eggs, butter, cream and Taleggio cheese baked to custardy goodness that is like silk on the tongue, almost dessert for breakfast (without the sugar). G tells me he would happily eat it every day.
So far this is one of only two recipes I have made from this book, although I have been reading the essays and I want to cook almost everything. The second recipe, for white beans slowly cooked in olive oil is also sensational, although I cooked mine in a slow cooker rather than using the method described in the cookbook.
The book is lovely; I've been reading Shauna's blog for a long time, even though I have not been much of a commenter. Shauna's writing helped me find my way from seeing my Celiac diagnosis as a burden and a struggle to making it an adventure and her books will always hold a fond place in my heart for no other reason than that. But the recipes are good too.
You see I have really missed the flowers.
I used to have crocuses in the old front yard, before they got overgrown and trampled, before the yard was dug up and the dirt was hauled away and then replaced with other dirt hauled from some other part of the yard. Those crocuses may appear in surprising places. I shall keep my eyes open.
My plan for the new front bed is for mostly foliage plants, plants that don't need a lot of care. I love the textures and contrasts available in shades of green. But I also miss my flowers. I know how much I need to see those spring crocuses. I know the irises need dividing and need to be moved from their current place which has become to shady as the neighbor's trees continue to grow and cast a longer shadow. I used to plant hundreds of tulips in my rocky craggy clay-filled soil, replacing the bulbs every year as I couldn't plant them deep enough to insure a repeat bloom. I want all these things and I want to plant them now so that next year my world will be filled with flowers,
So perhaps I did get a little carried away. I always overestimate how much I can get done and how much time I have in which to accomplish any given task.
The tiny Tsuga you see above sits alone in the large stone bed on the north end of the house. Nothing else will be planted there until next spring, so he shall have to face the winter alone. I've dreamed of this particular Tsuga for years and once we started building this bed I knew it would be the perfect place for him. I was lucky to find him languishing among the end of season sale plants and he (why do I think of him as a "he"?) is one of the few plants I have purchased.
This is not true of bulbs. It seems I have purchased hundreds and hundreds of bulbs. I am amazed at how quickly buying a hundred bulbs here, another few hundred there, and so forth turns into a huge mound of bulbs that need to be planted. I suppose it is better to dream big than to underestimate oneself.
So the push to plant and finish, while the weather is still amenable, is strong. I dug and planted then dug and planted some more. This weekend I planned to transfer the dwarf irises and hakonechloa and plant crocuses and other tiny bulbs. But the first day did not go so well. The soil is rocky and hard and filled with clay, a bit of a struggle to work in, and not quite what I expected. That was my own fault as I never made my expectations clear. I added humus and manure last weekend, but my arms were already tired and I did not manage to dig it up and work it in as well as I wanted. I could dig big holes for the plants, but planting hundreds of tiny crocus and species iris bulbs, approximately 15 bulbs per square foot, proved impossible.
So I scraped off the mulch and dug the bed up again, mixing in the manure and even more peat, breaking up the clay and dragging buckets of rocks off to the woods. I hadn't planned on having to do this, but it was necessary or my vision would never take root. I interplanted the hakonechloa and hellebores with crocuses and the tiny bulbous irises that bloom in the early spring. Some of the irises were transplanted from another bed where they were hidden by larger plants, but I ordered more as I did not think I had enough to fill this new space
For a few moments, as I started opening bags and tossing bulbs onto the newly spaded soil, I had misgivings. I thought I over purchased even though I had measured the space and calculated the square footage and ordered just what I needed. In the end it worked out perfectly. I had exactly the right number of bulbs. The bed looks a little messy here, but the plants are settled and about 400 bulbs have been planted, and the mulch has been put back as much as possible. I spread the mulch a little more thickly than I found it but luckily I have another bag which I can use to cover the bare area.
I had forgotten this nervous excitement of planting. I had forgotten how nice it is to settle roots into the soil, gingerly teasing them apart if they have become compacted into a ball, pushing bulbs into the yielding soil. I had forgotten the giddy thrill of anticipation as well as the twinge of nervousness and fear -- what if they don't come up? What if I've done all this work but it is not enough? No matter how many things I have planted, no matter how much I have learned, I always feel that working in the yard is a bit of a gamble. But I also know how I excited I will be if any single one of them survives and I have pretty flowers in the front yard next spring, how each new shoot will make my heart sing, and how I will peer at the soil nervously and impatiently waiting for everything to emerge.
And I can't wait to get out there and plant some more. It is all I can think about right now, all I dream about. I look at plant lists and make plans, and measure beds and start diagrams to maximize ideal spacing. Someday it may all pay off. In the meantime I have a lot more digging to do -- if all the other stars in my life align.
I had been in the store a couple of weeks earlier, dropping off a necklace that I was having shortened, when Peggy told me about the show. I really didn't know anything about Anthony Lent, but after her glowing description of his work, and then receiving the card, showing this ring, my interest was definitely piqued.
We got there on the early side as we were on our way to the sheep and wool extravaganza at the fairgrounds, and they were still setting up. Luckily they were happy to let us poke and prod and look at the pieces while they worked. The jewelry was beautiful and beautifully crafted; I was amazed at the detailed workmanship. The ring pictured above was stunning, but so were many many pieces. G often needed a magnifying glass to properly catch the precision of the design, and I was happy to oblige him as I too loved the opportunity it provided to admire the finer details. I really can't describe most of the pieces, but there is a website, which has a few pieces, and more photos on a Facebook page.
There were quite a few things that caught my eye, but we left anyway. As we were walking around the wool-fest my mind kept wandering back to the jewelry, to one pair of earrings in particular, and this perhaps made the yarn less tempting. I am not sure that I can really justify rationalizing the purchase of jewelry by praising myself for not buying yarn, but I shall console myself by stating that the jewelry, perhaps, has more intrinsic value.
Suffice it to say, I did go back and buy the aforementioned earrings. When I returned there was more to see than on my initial inspection, but I stayed true to my plan and purchased these darling little turtles with silver shells, gold bodies, and lovely little diamond eyes.
I'm posting another picture to see if I can get a better view of the details, because they really make me smile. I love the shells, the texture of their wrinkly scaly skin with the little folds around the neck, and their big round eyes. That these tiny detailed creatures, less than an inch long, were created by human hands fills me with awe.
And so it seems I am building a little jeweled menagerie without ever really setting out to do so. I can't say I was oblivious to the appeal of jeweled creatures, more that they were just something I admired from afar. That changed this past spring when I fell in love with another pair of earrings, a pair of earrings about which I hemmed and hawed, debated and fretted, for some time before actually making the purchase. It was a purchase I do not regret, as those earrings now seem so perfectly essential to my wardrobe.
In fact, aside from being beautiful, I was attracted to these turtles precisely because they reminded me of this other pair of earrings, purchased from Beladora last March, which are also reptilian, although the two have little else in common.
Perhaps it is the scaly skin. Perhaps it is that both are highly detailed and both have tiny diamond eyes, although you would be hard pressed to see this detail in my photo. In fact these Barry Kieselstein-Cord alligator earrings are more substantial, with nearly an ounce of 18k white gold between the two. They are substantial enough that my ears are often happy to be relieved of their weight by the end of the day, but not so substantial that they don't get worn frequently.
I do think there is room for both of these creatures in my jewelry box and on my ears. The alligators are more serious, the turtles more playful. They fit different moods, play different roles and should happily coexist for many years to come.
Well yes, there is knitting going on here.
I found myself between projects. I fell short of yarn in my supposedly current project, which was anticipated and wholly my own fault as i was knitting the recommended yarn at a gauge which was tighter than was recommended in the pattern. While I was waiting for additional supplies to arrive I needed something to work on.
Enter a few skeins of Road to China yarn by The Fiber Company in a lovely reddish purple color named "rose de France". I purchased this during an evening of hunting and pecking through the remaining stock at my LYS, Yarn Central, before they went out of business. There was not really enough to make a sweater, but I thought there was enough to do something. I was right, although just barely.
I had seven skeins. Seven 80-yard skeins yields 560 yards of yarn. Searching for patterns for an adult sweater using that little yardage yielded very little. Originally I considered a vest pattern which required a little over 600 yards, more than I had, but I thought I could risk it as I tend to knit long skinny stitches and fewer rows per inch means less yarn is used. But then I found this pattern, which was actually written for the yarn I was using and required the exact yardage I happened to have on hand: Bells of Ireland from Interweave Knits
That is, my yardage would work if I knit the smallest size, which produced a sweater with a 38" bust. This would technically fit my 37" inch bust, although the sweater shown is pictured with "several inches" of positive ease, which means, I guess that the model's bust is around 33 - 34.
I could work with that.
I made the smallest size. However I made some changes. This sweater, like most knitting patterns is designed so that the circumference around the sweater is divided equally between the front and back. This means that if a sweater is 38 inches at the bust, it is divided so that there 19 inches of width across the back, and 19 inches across the front. This might work if the person wearing the sweater is built like Gumby and is roughly the same front and back, but most humans aren't designed that way. Most of us are narrower across the back than we are across the chest. I thought that if I redesigned the pattern so that I had extra volume at the front to accommodate the fuller bust measurement I might be able to pull it off. I used my actual back measurement at the bustline for the back of the sweater and put everything else in the front. This did not affect the knitting significantly until I got to the raglan shaping where, luckily for me, the shaping was done over the course of a six-row repeat. Rather than decreasingly equally in the front and back, I needed to decrease three stitches in front for every one stitch decreased in back, a proportion that was easily worked out over six rows.
Of course, since the sweater is knitted in one piece from the bottom up, I wasn't going to know how well it worked until I was almost done. But I figured if the math was right it had to at least fit. Whether it would be flattering or not was another issue. I was going out on a limb here as I've never worn anything quite like this before.
Here are the results:
I think it works. Of course it appears substantially shorter on my tall 5'9" frame and long torso than it does on the model, although I can assure you the length exactly matches the pattern specs. It is not ideal, but it is not bad. I even think it would be rather nice over a simple dress. Unfortunately I don't have any simple dresses I could wear it with at the moment, a situation that probably needs to be remedied. I am actually happier with the style than I am with the striping and color changes across the sweater. I did check the labels and all the yarn was from the same dye lot, probably originally from the same bag, so I am wondering if the color varation is due to differences in light as the yarn was stored. I didn't see the color difference in the skeins before I started knitting, or I would have made an effort to work the color progression a little differently. I think I will wear it, at least for now. I'm wondering if the disappointment in the color will bother me over time, if it will be possible to over-dye it, or if I will just accept it as one of the many imperfections of life. Whatever I decide I can't complain about the results considering it was sale yarn and a couple of weeks worth of nightly television knitting.
We did go up to the New York State Sheep and Wool festival last weekend, although I had rather mixed feelings about the whole thing. I have lots of yarn, I have lots of projects in various unfinished states, and although there is more to the festival than the purchase of yarn, I have few illusions about my ability to go to a wool festival filled with a couple of hundred vendors and not walk out with something.
In the end we went, I bought, but only a little, and we left. It was a sweet day, walking slowly, hand in hand with G as he marveled at the yarns, the knitting, and the spinning wheels. We didn't make it as far as the sheep or the alpacas but we did sit on a bench eating a chocolate covered apple, G marveling at the combination of sweet, creamy, crisp and tart.
G was fascinated watching a vendor making cord with a lucet. He thought this was something he would like to try and hoped it would be easier than knitting. I don't know about that and his knitting lessons are progressing very very slowly, but I was more than willing to give it a try.
As you can see, above, I did buy yarn, but only a small amount, from Helen Hamann's booth. Perhaps I should have bought more. I loved the yarn and the colors were fabulous. Really, I wanted every single color in the booth, it was a color-lover's fantasy. I may regret not buying more as it is not carried locally, but I restrained myself and purchased only the yarn I needed for a project that has been floating around the back of my mind.
I would like to say that you will be seeing this take shape soon, but I know that my dreams are often far bigger and more numerous than my ability to bring them to fruition, but it will appear, one of these days at least.
Today is our 24th wedding anniversary. It is a quiet day, following a quiet weekend. Celebrations don't tend to big things at the moment in our lives, but that makes them no less special.
Friday night we opened a case of Chateau Clerc Milon 1995 and drank a bottle curled up on the sofa, mostly reading, but often dozing on and off. The wine was very smooth and mellow, with a mouth feel much like the delicate brush of silk charmeuse on the skin, not weak, but with a good balance of hard and soft. There is still bit of intensity on the finish and a touch of unresolved tannins.
It is a good wine for an anniversary weekend and the beginnings of our 25th year as it is smooth and balanced with a bit of sweetness, mostly harmonious and well-integrated, but still with a hint of graphite on the finish. From brash youth to mellow age: Good for a wine; good for a marriage.
I'll remember to open a bottle early tonight. It seems to be at its best about 3 to 4 hours after opening with a hint of currants and chocolate rounding out the flavors.
When I was posting photos for Mette's challenge earlier in the week I was having a great deal of trouble stating what these pieces said about me, how they defined me in any way. My post became verbose, not at all surprising to anyone who has read my previous blogs. I will probably still be long-winded, but I hope to at least be coherent.
I do think however that the setting can say much. Take this section of our living room (this photo was originally posted on my earlier blog, sewdistracted, last spring). I love this portion of this room and am inclined to think it shows you far more about me than three simple pieces ever can. You will note, however, that two pieces from Tuesday's post reside here.
Next to the sofa is a piece of brickwork. It is actually the matching piece to the one I showed the other day. They are part of a pair, which fit well together to form one long piece, but also work separately as they are used now. These pieces were part of the original Vassar Hospital Building in Poughkeepsie, and G rescued them when the building was being demolished. They are among my favorite pieces of furniture. I love the fact that they were once something else, and have found new life in my home.
On the far right side of the photo you see the corner of a Wassily chair by Marcel Breuer. This is the same chair, but this time it is in its normal position. I had to turn it in order to get a photo. Obviously it is not original; the original models had canvas rather than leather. I do love the shape of the chair. I find it extremely comfortable. I like the way it uses industrial materials (tubular steel) and leather. And although I tend to see this chair more often with black leather, which offers a stark contast to the steel, I would not own the black version. I find it cold and impersonal. I like the warmth the brown leather brings to the cold steel. This chair was a gift to me from G early in our marriage. It was a very thoughtful gift and I appreciate the effort he went to find it. It is important to me that he bought the licensed production version with real tubular steel as opposed to the cheap chrome versions that were, and still are, available. Lastly, the positioning of the Wassily chair next to the brick work is new, and it makes me very happy. They work well together and I sit here every day.
I find this area warm and inviting and I like the mix of new and old. It is also one of the few areas of the house where the furnishings are truly the result of cooperative enterprise. The house came with the husband, completely furnished. I don't really like the paneled walls or the wall to wall carpet, although there is much to like about the house as a whole. I did not like the original furniture, or most of it, and although most of it has slowly gone over the course of 24 years, some still remains. Unfortunately some of the pieces I did like have also gone due to decisions or circumstances that seemed right at the time.
The brickwork was George's. The lamps were mine. They need new shades, and I know exactly what I want and merely need to get around to having them made. Everything else, the sofas and the tables were a cooperative enterprise, sometimes immediate and easy, sometimes difficult and protracted. This is not surprising when two strong willed people with definite opinions about design join forces. The paperback books on the ceiling beams were my idea, and although they are somewhat difficult to access, they make me happy up there, peering down on whoever is in the room. The black tubing around the rim of the table is not a part of the design but is simple pipe insulation picked up at our local hardware. G can no longer see the edges of the clear glass and over the course of the last year he has had many injuries where he simply ran into the table. Yet he did not want to lose the table. This was a simple, stylish and practical accommodation to the reality of aging.
I see I haven't really addressed the yellow Panton chair. It is part of a set of 4, two white, two yellow. They are outside on the deck at two small tables where we often sit. They were my choice. G hated them when he first saw them and I dreamed about them for years. When the deck was finished a couple of years ago I bought myself two as a birthdday gift to myself. Since then G has come to appreciate them and their comfort. Last year he asked that we get two more. He also asked that they not be the same color, that was "too boring". Soon I will be taking them into storage for the winter. I will miss them. Every spring, when I bring them up to the deck, I giggle like a schoolgirl and can't wait to sit in them. I sit there, swinging my legs like a small gleeful child, feeling the chair rock gently with me, with an enormous grin on my face. These chairs bring me great joy.
I wish that every thing in my life could bring such joy, but of course that is not the way of world. Yet it is what I strive for everyday.