Curried cauliflower


Curried cauliflower, stage 1

This week will be a busy one: first round of physical therapy Monday after work, the women coming over on Tuesday evening, and then work stuff Wednesday and Thursday evenings.  So I’m spending a chunk of the weekend in food prep.  I’ve made the sauce for dragon noodles and the bean dip and lentil taco filling for Tuesday.  I’ve also started the cashew cream cheese, and am caramelizing onions and peppers for the Tofurkey sausages.  Still to come: mushroom Stroganoff and possibly a breakfast-y thing.  TBD.  Mostly it depends on my energy level.

I judged the red cabbage kimchi done, so it’s now jarred and refrigerated, making room for another round of curried cauliflower, this time from an actual recipe.  This batch has shredded carrots (and the very end of a bit of daikon, since it was just hanging out in the veg drawer), a green onion, thinly sliced cauliflower florets, the juice of an orange, toasted whole spices (cumin, coriander, mustard) and a teaspoon and a half of salt.  I also added a bit of ground turmeric since I keep reading how beneficial it’s supposed to be, and I liked the bright yellow of the last batch.  So that is all massaged up and resting in its jar now.  As promised, it does seem to be too dry, so I will probably check on it again in an hour or so.

The red cabbage kimchi turned out well.  Its lovely color is a bonus:

Lunch was tofu and peanut sauce wraps with this cheerful ruby kimchi.  The ginger taste is less pronounced in this batch, but the texture is really nice from the heartier cabbage.  A hit, in short.  I think I’ll keep making it this way!  (Sadly, I can’t say the same for the Brussels sprouts, which are okay in salads but not something I’d eat otherwise.  Not terrible but not great.  Better to roast those suckers, I think.)

The day’s other main task was Lily’s annual wellness exam.  When she saw that we were going for a walk, Rose also insisted on joining us, so it was a bit of an undertaking, but we arrived in plenty of time, and also ran into Kirsten.  Lily needs a tooth-cleaning, so what with that and the exam fees, I opted for the monthly payment plan.  Not cheap, but she will have clean teeth, by god!  And we will have a clean-as-a-whistle bank account, all uncluttered by that nasty ol’ money.

I was happy to pick up (finally!) the lovely memorial picture of Maisie that Kristie did for me.  I will scan it in on Monday, since my phone camera won’t do it justice.  And we had a nice walk home– slow, of course, because of Rose’s need to investigate everything thoroughly– and I admired all the flowering trees.  My own peach, surviving apple, and pear trees are all decked out in blossoms, so here’s hoping we don’t get another hard frost.  Unfortunately, one apple and the Damson plum do seem to be well and truly dead.  I doubt we’ll be able to afford replacements for them this year, but I should have another elderberry to plant soon.  The cherry, raspberries,  and serviceberries in front seem happy too, so hopefully I’ll actually get some fruit this year.  Nobody even got grapes last year!  Strange year.

And now I believe it to be Stroganoff Time, which will be shortly followed by Laundry-Folding Time.  It’s a glamorous life.


In Just- spring


Apparently all it took for me to start feeling spring-y was a trip to Whole Foods.


These daffodils were $2, and the strawberries were on sale, so I wound up with 3 containers.  They didn’t smell like much and needed a bit of sugar and a sprinkling of lemon to taste strawberry-ish, but then they were quite nice.  strawbs

We took the dogs for a walk, and last week’s now is melting off, and there are no icy places– a big bonus when one’s spinal column still feels rather delicate. We saw more daffodils, plus hyacinths, tulips, and dandelions. (I know some hate them but I never have.  And Rose eats them.)  It was lovely and mild, even at 7:00 in the evening.

After our walk, I made biscuits and turned the strawberries into shortcake: shortcake.  If that doesn’t say spring, I’m not sure what does.  Well, besides e.e. cummings:

In Just-

spring when the world is mud-

luscious the little

lame baloonman

whistles far and wee

and eddieandbill come

running from marbles and

piracies and it’s


when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer

old baloonman whistles

far and wee

and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and






baloonMan whistles




–e.e. cummings

Happy Easter, all


20160327_122217_resized_1 (1)Well, it’s suddenly Easter.  I’ve done kind of a lot of nothing, though I did get us these pretty Lake Champlain chocolate carrots, and I gave the dogs the end of a real carrot I was grating.  So I guess that’s something.

So far, 2016 is shaping up to be a fairly ghastly year.  Seems like every day there’s a new horrible thing.  Bowie’s death still sucker-punches me with grief sometimes, and I have days my re-herniated disk really hurts and I have to take something for it.  But this post isn’t about that, dammit! No self-pity!  Easter-y rebirth-y stuff!  (If you write it with a lot of exclamation points, it has to be true, right?)

I went to a vegetable fermentation class at Denver Botanic Gardens a few weeks ago.  Class was interesting and tasty.  I especially liked a curried cauliflower that the instructor made, so I made some, based on her instructions.  I wish I’d taken a photo! It was delicious.   I “riced” the cauliflower (that is, chopped it so the pieces were rice-like in size), and then massaged it with salt.  The massage and salt draw out the moisture, so soon there’s enough brine to cover everything.  I added an apple and curry powder and let the whole thing sit out on the counter for about a week.  We used it on top of curries and salads and really enjoyed it.  Strangely, though, when I moved the stuff to smaller jars and put them in the fridge, the brine seems to have disappeared entirely.  I was a little worried because my book insists, “Submerge in brine and all will be fine,” but it aged well enough in the fridge.

Next was a fermented salsa of red peppers and jalapenos, which the book calls a sweet pepper salsa, but it’s pleasantly spicy. 20160327_121557_resized_1 I may increase the jalapeno ratio next time, though.  For this one, I chopped up all the peppers, onions, and garlic in the food processor and salt, so everything is quite small–salsa, after all, right?  It was a little tricky to keep the little bits of vegetable submerged, but a bit of plastic wrap tucked around the sides did the trick.  In summer, I’m going to preserve some of my grape leaves to use instead of plastic wrap.  This one had to sit for 2 weeks, but it’s really good.  It just tastes like a really nice salsa, and you can’t really tell it doesn’t have tomato in it. Nice as a dressing for taco salad, too, mixed with a little olive oil.

After that I did some spicy Brussels sprouts with smoked salt, which are okay but not that fab.  20160327_121606_resized_1 (1) I love the idea, and I love Brussels sprouts, but these are a little disappointing.  I was hoping they would take on more of a coleslaw texture, but they’ve retained their rawness, and the spicy flavor really only hits when you get one of the sliced jalapenos.  Still, the sprouts are good sliced up in salads, and they’re probably doing magical things for our microbiomes.  I’m not quite sure how we would know this, so let’s just assume it’s true.  There’s some fairly compelling research out there about gut health having an impact on overall health, after all.  Maybe we can get paid as poop-donors for fecal transplants or something.  (No, seriously, that’s a Thing!

Today’s endeavor is a red cabbage kimchi.  I soaked the cabbage overnight in a brine (which turned a sort of charming purple color), and then this morning, I massaged in all the other ingredients: carrot, daikon, garlic, scallion, red pepper flakes.  My extremely traditional fermentation vessel is the sun tea jar I found on sale at the grocery store a couple of years ago. 20160327_121619_resized_1 I don’t actually ever make sun tea, but the jar has turned out to be a good size, and I think it was something like $2.  It’s perfect for these ferments.  It’s big enough that I can pack everything in, with lots of headspace, and then the Ziploc with brine on top.  Fermenting veg bubble up a lot of excess liquid, so I’m keeping the jar on top of a disposable pie plate.  (No idea why I even had a disposable pie plate, but it was in the cupboard.)  This will ferment on the counter for a couple of weeks.  Not sure what will be next, but we do tend to like the spicy ones a lot.

So no self-pity!  Let us enjoy happy fermented goodness.  Happy Easter, all.

All the days of my life



I’ve been trying to write this for a long time now, but I’m really struggling with it.  It’s rare that words don’t come easily to me, but what I need to say is so personal and yet something I know I share with so many others.  I guess there are those out there who don’t understand mourning a public persona, but to so many of us, David Bowie was more than that.  He wasn’t just a musician or an actor, although obviously that’s how he came into our lives, and his music is deeply important to me.

But what I feel is a jagged, personal pain.  Yes, part of it is that there won’t ever be anything truly new of his to listen to, just “discovered” stuff, things he didn’t see fit, for one reason or another, to release at the time.  And part of it is a strange anxiety that this music I love so much will lose relevance, become sort of another Beatles: “Sure it’s important, but….”  And yet it’s still bigger than that.  Who he was mattered to me, too.  At his best, he was creating things out of such an authentic and beautiful place, and saying things that nobody else was saying, and with such humanity and kindness.  I strive for that sort of self-expression in my own life.  And at the same time, he made mistakes– albums that so clearly lacked focus and passion.  Arguably, even his worst albums still had a few decent songs (I have a somewhat shameful love of “Glass Spider,” for all its goofy mythology and general silliness), but they lack a certain sort of intrinsic heart or fundamental honesty or something like that.  And those are the albums I just don’t listen to.  If they cycle past on my random play mode, I listen to a single song, but I never open the whole album and play it start to finish.  And that also feels like it gives me license to stumble, too.  I know that may be a bit silly, but there you go.

The other thing that I’ve read, and that resonated with me, is that he’s simply always been there.

I don’t need to know

know where you are,

only that you are

safe in this world.

Then I’ll be content

to get on with my life.

Eat, drink and sleep,

Look up at the stars.

He’s always been out there, living, creating, and that’s always made me happy, I guess.  And now that’s gone, as well.    All these pictures on my wall are of someone who isn’t with us any longer, whose family is devastated, whose friends mostly didn’t even know he was sick, and the whole thing just breaks my heart.

So.  This is still not the piece I wanted to write.  The words still aren’t there.  Others have still said it better, and maybe in time I will find my words.  For now, I close with love on ya.

What I Did on My Winter Break



Well, it’s finally winter break– a full week off!  It’s been a tough year, so I’m not sad to bring it to a close.  In addition to everything else, I’m still nursing my back injury (though it definitely is getting better, despite the neurosurgeon’s insistence that only surgery would fix it) and a weird cough that just won’t go away.  Above is the card Jolyon made for me this year, which I think sums things up nicely.

Despite all that, though, we did manage to have a perfectly lovely Christmas.  Jolyon made trifle trifle2015 using a strawberry vegetarian gelatin alternative I found online.  It’s every bit as delicious as it looks here, and also very boozy.  (That may be a large part of why it’s so good.)  The rest of Christmas dinner (guests: Mom, Gerry, us, Rose, Lily, Olive, Sapphire, Ruby) was another en croute Field Roast, scalloped potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts, glazed carrots, and gravy.  Mom did the potatoes, and also our appetizers of spicy shrimp and cheese straws.

I got much good loot, too, including Thug Kitchen and Bittman’s new one, Kitchen Matrix.  With some of the money Gerry gave me, I also picked up Backyard Pharmacy, which has some interesting stuff I am excited to try.  I’m already steeping some thyme in honey to treat this cough, but it needs a week to be ready, so nothing to report yet.

Today being only the second day I feel energetic enough to do anything useful, I made a couple batches of muffins from TK (carrot-apple and peanut butter-banana; the lavender blueberry scones I made yesterday are delicious).  We’re dog-sitting Shiloh just for the day, while Kirsten and David move, which means we got up early, and I then felt the need to accomplish stuff.

So after the muffins, I figured it was time to bottle that elderberry wine:


19 bottles and the overflow


20 bottles of the 2nd run (which is made from reused fruit)

These are now sitting on the dining room table because I’m not quite sure where else to store them.  I’ve moved last year’s bottles to the more accessible wine racks between the kitchen and the back room.  I also rotated this year’s apple wine into the rack above the basement steps.  I’m currently keeping the dandelion upright, since it’s sparkling, but I may change my mind on that– the corks are held firmly in place with those tricky little wire cages and all.  There’s definitely not sufficient rack space for those and these 39 new guys, in any case. I guess I should have asked for more racks for Christmas!

2015 apple and dandelion


An afternoon of bottling!  That’s 2 gallons each of apple and sparkling dandelion.  2015apple_dandelion  The apple may have been a little premature– it hadn’t really fully cleared yet (though it’s hard to tell with the Fast Ferment, which is opaque), but I wanted the fermenter clear for the elderberry I plan to make next week.  This was a 2-gallon batch, and is my first use of the reusable corks.  2015apple  The corks are plastic– you can see them in this photo– and you just push them into the bottles, which is a little less satisfying (and also feels less secure) than using the corker, but is also more economical, providing I get the corks back.

The dandelion is a double batch, too, and I fermented them in the glass carboys, like last year.  One spent more time in the light, and is a lighter color because of that.  I sparkled them with a half-cup of simple syrup in each and then bottled right away.  2015dandelion  I was a little nervous about putting in the Champagne corks, but they were fine.  I used a small hammer with a kitchen cloth draped over the corks.  With the added simple syrup, I got a satisfying 10 bottles.  At some point, I’ll have to figure out the wire cages for the corks, which I presume will include pliers and swearing.