The exam for my art history class is tomorrow at noon. Looking at art and examining my own ideas about history and pre-history has been interesting and challenging, but we’ve come to the point where I’m supposed to remember 45,000 years of objects and buildings. My brain doesn’t function that way, so the exam’s a crapshoot. If the instructors put objects on the exam I remember and thought were really cool, I’m golden. If not, well, I spent the semester looking at art. I can’t wait to put this behind me.
Here in the Northeast, a chill is in the air. I’m relieved to say so, since it’s late October and last week it was inexplicably over 80 degrees for a few days. You know what autumn for realz means: leaves will fall and you will eat soup. This is not a recipe, but it plays one on TV.
First: go to a farm, a farmstand or a farmers market. Talk to a farmer! Farmers are so interesting! Pick out your favorite soup vegetables, even better if they’re organic. Which vegetables? Well, ask yourself this tricky question: Hey, you, what things are delicious? Then buy those. The farmer wins!
Prepare your vegetables for roasting. You may peel things. Here, I peeled a butternut squash and a passel of apples. I chopped up the peels and fed them to the chickens. The chickens win! I quartered onions and saved the tops and peels for stock. Future Me wins! Then I added spices I like, salt, pepper, bay leaves, a cinnamon stick and fennel seeds to my vegetables, swished them all with olive oil and roasted them at 350 until the squash was fork tender. My house smelled great, so again: I win!
I let these cool, pulled out the bay leaves and cinnamon stick, then I pureed my vegetables with an immersion blender. Those are fun to play with, so I win again! Then I simmered my velvety puree, added some apple juice until I was happy with the texture and seasoned until I was super happy. Happiness is good, so I win again!
- the farmer wins
- the chickens win
- future Me wins
- I win
- I continue to win
- I win again
- you win
- everyone wins!
Finally, Pete, who is a chef and sometimes is sick of cooking, had a fine meal without having to lift a hand. Pete wins!
So: this isn’t a recipe, it’s a method. You can make yourself really good food for truly next to nothing, and besides you, a whole lot of people and critters win. Go, you!
Jacqui the organic farmer gave me a sourdough starter as a pet. As you know, I adore a new pet! But I knew less about taking care of sourdough starter than I did about feeding giant pandas. Did you know you can learn anything on YouTube?
The procedure is this: you dump out about half your sourdough starter, feed it with a water and flour mix. I had some trouble with this. The mix ratio is 1:1 water to flour by weight or 1:2 water to flour by volume. You can use almost any kind of flour you like. I’m using whole wheat.
There are variables. If you keep the starter on the kitchen counter, it bubbles and grows. You have to dump out and feed quite often. If you keep the starter in the fridge, it sleeps. You have to pick a feeding schedule, say once a week. When you get up in the morning, take the starter out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature, feed it in the afternoon, then put it back in the fridge before midnight. It sounds complicated, but that’s because it’s so easy.
Once I’d worked out how to care for my new pet, I was left with one more problem. Each time I fed my pet, I would be pouring out some otherwise useful goo, which I could not bring myself to do. I looked out in the backyard and realized I also had chickens to feed.
Discarded goo makes a good basis for pancake batter. Add it to your favorite pancake batter and feed pancakes to your chickens – or my chickens. My chickens are very nice people with an excellent sense of humor, but every morning, they’re going to want breakfast.
While the temperatures here topped 90 degrees every day for over a month, I got sick and couldn’t shake it. I had a headache for over a week; a pinched nerve in my neck made cycling impossible. During the Olympics, I spent a lot of evenings lying flat and watching TV with one eye open. This has put me in a MOOD.
My doctor, to whom I’ve been a consistent source of amusement for about 25 years, retired at the end of June to move to the West Coast and spend time with family. I understand that other people have their own lives – in theory! – but this is very inconvenient. To me. One day, I was so sick Pete poured me into a car and took me to the doctor’s erstwhile office, where a young sports doctor looked me over and was very confused about how I was balancing an ice pack on top of my head and making conversation. I liked her very much, and she was very helpful, but I’m used to working my comic stylings before an older demographic.
Though it was above 90 again today, the spell is broken. I am pale and out of shape, but feeling like myself again. The fall semester begins in just about a week and I’m registered for a class I’ll do well in. Most of our jarring season is behind us now.
I’m ready for things to cool down just a little. I’m ready for things to heat up.
The American Sign Language class I’m taking involves improbable amounts of studying, possibly because I’m not a child prodigy anymore. Even so, spring is in the air. Strawberries are in the markets and leaves are on the grapevines. After work today, Pete and I stopped at the secret organic garden one town over, where we have permission to trim the grapevines that are slowly turning a garden gate into a fragrant wall. Pete brought my left-handed scissors, but the gates were seven feet tall, leaves were mostly out of my reach and Pete’s pruning shears won the day. We stuffed our tools and unusual produce into the trunk of Pete’s car and drove home.
This evening, Drusy went missing for more than half an hour. I should say we realized we hadn’t seen her in some time and frantically searched the house for her. She is so tiny she had tucked herself into a little corner under Pete’s desk in the attic and fallen asleep. Pete crawled around with a flashlight while I struggled with panic. When he found Drusy, she seemed impatient with us for disrupting her beauty sleep.
The task at hand, however, was more pleasant. Before I go hog wild on weeds, I like to find good instructions. This lady seems pleasant and methodical, so I took <a href=”http://www.maureenabood.com/2013/06/05/how-to-identify-clean-and-store-fresh-grape-leaves/”>her advice.</a> I cut leaves off vines, grouped them by size, wrapped them in cellophane and froze them in freezer bags, careful to label them precisely. It’s a drag to find an unlabeled freezer bag in January and toss the contents, but sometimes I do make mistakes.
This season, I’ve been concentrating on using my resources wisely. I make mistakes, like buying eggplants and finding myself too tired to fry and package them for winter. Ah well. This, however, it a success story. Yesterday, I made roasted vegetable ravioli and set aside a little cheese filling.
Last week, I discovered a volunteer zucchini plant where my summer squashes had withered and died. It was all very mysterious until the plant was suddenly covered with male blossoms. That is a problem you solve with cheese. Here, we see problem: solved.