My good-ness, the color this fall, a veritable cornucopia nearly everywhere the eye sets its gaze on the horizon. The simple pleasures of life, peeps.
Months and months after this blasted virus turned our lives asunder, I am finally feeling a semblance of order and calm while out in the world. I wear my mask (though not on walks – sorry, not sorry) and keep my distance and focus on the positive – people helping, people voting (how long the drop off line at the library!), bluebird skies and puppy dog sighs.
We’ve been remembering to play games (Lords of Waterdeep, canasta, Seasons!) and assemble puzzles (national parks, wonders of the world!), rather than flopping zombie-like on the sofa for television. Not that doesn’t have its perks. I LOVE Grand Designs, Jonathan and Drew, and movies galore! I’ve made a bit of jewelry (photos soon), too.
And, of course, cooking, turning out one bit of yum after another. It’s our life in a nutshell. Small but beautiful.
We grow quite a bit of mint and forget to use it more often than not. In a mint-lucid moment, I grabbed a bunch, whirred it in the Vitamix with lime and sugar syrup before topping it off with fizzy water. The color was a delightful almost neon, and the flavor equally electric. I am so parched looking at it that I think I’m going to beg off writing this post for a few to make another. You won’t know the difference, and summer couldn’t really ask for a better drink.
Well before the pandemic had us mostly confined, Greg and I found ourselves spending more and more time at home, thinking about moving to the country, as our need for space, starry skies, and silence grew more important. Interaction with other people, for in-theater movies, sporting events, art galleries and museums, and dining out became less and less so. And so, depsite the horrors and losses of this dreaded disease, we feel grateful to know that our isolation is neither a punishment nor a burden.
Additionally, and I sometimes feel snobby for saying so, but I like my food best. At the times when I crave something special, something I don’t feel like cooking, or when I simply need a break from the kitchen, and we go out or order in, I am often disappointed, and Greg whispers, “Yours is better.” So we are pinching the necessary pennies and hoping to have our own slice of quiet country life, hopefully sooner than later.
When we lived in Portland, our dear neighbor Pat went through the trauma of breast cancer. It was an awful and stressful time for her, and just about the only way we could help out was to make food. Her favorites were my lasagna (at least at the beginning, before she was terribly sick) and these ginger muffins. While rooting through recipes on the hunt for something else, I stumbled upon it, entitled, without an ounce of creativity, “Pat’s Cancer Muffins.” I don’t remember if they were a riff off someone else’s idea or my own fabrication. They don’t look like much but were as tasty as I remembered. Maybe you’ll like them, too.
3 oz piece unpeeled
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons lemon
unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking
Cut ginger into large chunks. Process into tiny pieces. Alternatively, use a microplane to shred it or mince it by hand. Put the ginger and 1/4 cup sugar in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the sugar is melted. Set aside to cool.
Add zest to ginger
Beat the butter with remaining sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, beat well. Add the buttermilk, beat until blended. Add the flour, salt, and baking soda, and beat until smooth. Add the ginger mixture, beat until well blended. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin (I prefer to grease the tin rather than use papers for a crispy texture). Bake for 18-20 minutes at 375, or until a tester comes out clean. Serve warm.
4 tablespoons butter
& 4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup buttermilk &
1/2 cup orange juice
zest of one orange
Grandma’s rose bush made a heap of beautiful hips! I made delicious jelly!
The rim of Palmer Park between the trees. We walk here at least once a week, in most weather — Juniper hates the rain.
A quintessential Colorado view, on high and down to the plains, probably to Kansas on a clear day.
Step back, if you will, to Friday, a gorgeous day for a drive. South to Florence, where you can wave at the Super Max and think upon what wild words are flowing from the disturbed mind of Ted Kaczynski. If he has a window view, regardless of direction, the surrounding country is rather fine. Buttes, bluffs, mountains, bleached earth, peregrine falcon sky. We wound through the Wet Mountains on the Frontier Pathways Scenic Byway, a joy for all the senses and early or perhaps late enough to spare us from the snail pace of campers inching their way to somewhere.
A late breakfast at Three Sisters, always a treat of kindly service and excellent fare, remarkable for the sparsely populated location and just shy of an I-25 Rest Stop.
Pueblo and the River Walk for part two of our adventure, with treats for humans and pups alike from Hopscotch Bakery. We shared the most delicious Pike’s Peak brownie and Juniper had her own dog biscuit. Woof!
Our wanderings took us to the stately Pueblo Union Depot with eye candy indoors and out, plus green grass and cool shade for pup lounging and cloud gazing.
Completely unrelated, but very much on rotation at this old house, some Fontaines D.C. A dream of every punk & 80s sound I ever obsessed over making a wonderfully raucous and genius band. A Hero’s Death…
Though we are healthy and lucky in so many ways, yesterday was a hard one. I felt as though I was hearing all the bad news of the past months in a single violent wallop, sending every last marble skittering every which way and rendering me helpless to capture them. I am not normally someone who needs a drink, but boy howdy, a prickly pear margarita has never tasted so good nor made such quick work of smoothing all the jagged edges. Gratitude is the word.
Greg and I continue to make our mostly solitary way, going out for provisions every ten days or so and avoiding people, restaurants, and coffee shops. So when we got a craving for burgers, I tried my hand at brioche buns and perhaps ruined us for eating a burger anywhere else. They were simply amazing.
I’ve also come to realize how much my eating reflects this place that is home: the Southwest. Like grits in the South, salmon and berries in the Pacific Northwest, my diet is so utterely centered around green chile, eating it nearly every day, including on the burger.
Greg looking positively adorable AND excited for peach pie and cinnamon-sugar twists with pie dough remnants. Darn tasty!
Green chile again! We topped an open faced breakfast sandwich with brioche (the same batch as the buns), bacon, and cheddar. The breakfast of champions.
Stumbled upon this “lady” on one of our walkabouts. Speechless.
Everyone in our neighborhood taking COVID-19 seriously….
Hello, and happy snowy Friday to you! What a beautiful morning it was. We woke early, got our sweat on in the basement, shoveled the walk, and got our girl out before she went mad with anticipation.
She is a sled dogging snow plow in such weather, straining for swiftness and to inhale every scent nestled in the snow: the dead rabbit near the church, every pee laden message at her favorite pine shrub, every footprint and tire track. As ever, it is a joy to witness.
How are you holding up? Since Greg’s been working from home for more than five years, and we are fairly solitary creatures, our routine isn’t much changed. My heart aches for first responders, medical workers, letter carriers and delivery drivers, and grocery store employees and those who crave gatherings and boisterousness and noise, and especially those whose incomes depend upon it. Thankfully, there seems to be quite the upswell in creative ways for touching from a distance to quote a line from a favorite Joy Division song. Parades instead of birthday parties, Zoom meetings of every sort, bathroom concerts streamed live on Facebook. Necessity really is the mother of invention.
I hope you are finding a way to what makes your heart sing. I hope you are staying healthy and safe, too.