Exploring

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Our cute little woodsman incense burner, which we bought at a magical holiday market in Pittsburgh, continues to delight!

Not nearly often enough, we empty, scour, and refill the refrigerator. I, in my maniacal delight at soldierly, short to tall rows of jars finds it oddly comforting, opening the doors, even when I need not a thing, just to gaze upon it and marvel.

We had a few meals out in the world before COVID numbers began to creep up, and up, and up, but have since relegated ourselves to 100% home cooking. Ribs with salad and sweet potatoes; Asian glazed drumsticks, fluffy rice, and a mess o’ spinach and roasted pepper; herb drumsticks and roasted broccoli some of the prettiest lately.

A walk or two a day keeps our spirits soaring. So, too, does playlist making, reading – books and magazines alike, Star Trek Discovery gotten from the library, The 2017 iteration of Twin Peaks (so YOU, David Lynch, and I must add how beautiful his silvery locks are!), sipping the hottest of coffee with creamy homemade almond milk come the weekend, bedtime cuddles, and chats with those I love.

Such lovely soup weather we are having. This is lemon chicken & rice.

Hearty beef chili with pinto beans and plenty of New Mexico and pasilla chiles.

Topped with an egg for breakfast the following day. Um, yeah…

I am still making soap, and I daresay these are my prettiest bars! After initially going gonzo with various butters and oils, scents and add-ins, I have whittled down my favorites. The top is a rather luscious goat milk, of which I made two varieties this time: plain and lemon-bay leaf, which smells like summer all year long. The speckled variety in the center photo is orange-rosemary-mint, our dreamy shampoo and body bar. Truly. The white bar is unscented 100% coconut oil and slated to be our new laundry soap. I’ll tell you how it goes. In the mean time, it’s so pretty to look at. They all are, really.

Hi there! Revisiting the recipes from this Super Supper post, nearly twelve years later. Greg is beardless but no less silly. In this go round, I added mushrooms, substituted sliced linguica for the Italian sausage, and though this slice would have you believe otherwise, doubled the raisins and pine nuts (I toasted them, too). Wonderfully delicious! If you’d like to double down on the healthy bits, make a kale chiffonade and toss those ribbons in, too.

And because it is the holiday season, I could not go without making peppermint ice cream! If you recall, I discovered an old-timey recipe last year for a no-churn variety, and boy have I made the best of it! If you missed it, here goes:

16 oz heavy cream, whipped to perfect billowy peaks

1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk (I’m going to try the coconut next!)

Pour the entire contents of the can of condensed milk over the billowy peaks and blend together. Add whatever dream of ice cream you fancy (well, almost) and put in a freezer safe container. It’s best to make it the day before you plan to eat it, as it takes a long while to solidify.

Speaking to the well, almost, bit. Fresh fruit will freeze solid and be quite difficult to scoop and even more unpleasant to eat (voice of rock-hard cherry experience talking!) – best to add your favorite chunky jams or preserves.

The other flavor I made this go round was coffee (both had mini chocolate chips). I used two tablespoons beans on the finest setting on my grinder, added that to 1/4 cup of boiling water, let it cool, and strained the remaining very strong brew into one half of my ice cream base. With the additional liquid, it’s a bit more solid, but goll-ee, does it taste great!

orange roughy + braised cabbage + beurre blanc

Poutine! Greg dashed to Wendy’s for fries. The cheese curds are from our neighborhood Ranch Foods Direct, and the gravy is home made. The awesomeness scale went to ELEVEN.

Our favorite library. Since we are forbidden entry for the time being, we brought Juniper to our hold pick-up and walked the perimeter instead. Gosh do I miss a good library browse!

And in the people sometimes do stupid things without even realizing category: I was at Costco, fully masked and perusing the frozen section, when my mom called. For about two minutes of our conversation, I continued to browse with my MASK OFF, and only undertstood what was happening when I realized the mask was tangling on something. I got it back on right quick.

I now have the tiniest bit of sympathy for those I see blithely strolling sans masks in just about every store. Brain farts are clearly quite powerful.

smoked pork chop + corn soup
orange roughy + home grown fennel fronds
southwest pecan brownies
tahini shortbread
fontina + cauliflower focaccia
nice legs…

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 ginger root

3/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons lemon zest

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 large eggs

1 cup buttermilk

2 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

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 mixture.

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.

Variation:

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…

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