Word and Image

Food

Oops…

The modern expression, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”, was first published in Henry G. Bohn’s A Hand-book of Proverbs in 1855. It appeared in a newspaper in 1831. (How do they know this stuff?)

I do not recall why we were in the “city.” We met Dave for lunch. Afterward we wandered the Highline. The stairway to nowhere was under construction then. Yes, I take food pictures. And even so, I cannot tell what it was we ate. Have I told you Colleen loves to eat out? More seriously, this stairway has been a place for people to commit suicide. ??? I don’t know either. We always referred to the 6th floor as LD50:

LD stands for “Lethal Dose“. LD50 is the amount of a material, given all at once, which causes the death of 50% (one half) of a group of test animals.

Most people will not survive a fall more than 6 stories. With all the bones you break, I’m not sure you would want to – survive. Of course, on this nice pleasant day – lunch with Dave, and, a pleasant stroll – who would have thunk this would be a death trap, closed at the moment (now), while engineers try to build in some more safety measures?


Iconic

A slice and a coke. What’s more American? This is/was my childhood. It has changed. The pizza is much more “craft” than of my high school days. We could get a slice and a coke by the subway for 35 cents. Games? Yeah, who’s looking for a Democrat Republican tic tac toe set? Old typewriters? In my lifetime they are obsolete. Striking mechanical keys? How quaint! Suddenly, things look so old…


It’s late

But, it’s never too late to learn a new trick. I discovered beefsteak tomatoes. Ha ha! Everyone else knows them. I am late to the party as usual. Colleen bought one. I just about let it go bad on the counter. Then, we got mozzarella. I added olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Voila! Instant revelation! I was stunned. I don’t think I ever ate a beefsteak tomato before? Or if I did, it was not a true tomato?

An aside? I shoot macro images. Sometimes it feels as though I cannot see the details the lens captures until I start editing. The details! Water droplets? Subtle and not noticeable until I enlarge the image. Yes, I feel like some images were shot with my eyes closed.

Focus? Dead on accurate – the cat (Peas) – or, it’s not a shot. You aspire to a different standard.

And that beefsteak? A simple recipe. Good lighting. Luscious color. Mmmmm….


Hopeless

It seems a lost cause to try to limit myself to one picture and one story per day. Some days have too many – stories and pics. Sorry. How about an upside down dragonfly? ?? Really?! Yup! It flopped to the deck right in front of me with a thud. Truly! It was an act I did not realize until I did the edit. Later, it flipped and flew away. Relief!

The building – it was across the street from the restaurant – beer flight – inside on the wall was a black and white photo ala this view – for $700. Nope! I’m not kidding. Sorry, I would not pay that kind of money for that kind of shot. I have too many of my own in the discard pile. Really! Balls; ya gotta have ‘em to take that shot and price it like that.

Flight time? You can order a “flight.” This allows you to taste five beers as a sampler. Fun! Yes! Colleen loves dark beer. To me they all taste the same and are bitter. She can appreciate the nuance. I appreciate that she loves the experience. I’m still struggling to appreciate the BxW building on the wall next to me.

Still life – note the flattened peaches. I did it subtly so as not to squish out the juices. That is a large tomato for scale? – or small peaches. Watermelon in the background – I am in a watermelon eating stage right now.

The cat and sunset are throw-ins. It’s the end of the day. I keep a camera at hand all over the house. Ha ha! I have enough cameras to do this. And, sometimes you get the shot because things were there at hand and jumped onto the memory card – all by themselves. Gee, I’m lucky sometimes.


Happy

Happy… birthday. Happy!? I hope I have made you as happy as you have made me so. In a simple collage we have the essence of it all: cat, food, travel, spinning, beach… together. Good time?! Yup! Favorite cat? We all have a special one. Ha! Not really. If a picture is worth a thousand words… I hope you will know how my feelings are in this collage. Happy?…. as the cow jumped over the moon. Happy? … my wish to you.

Flag? Symbolism? Meaning? Interpretation? Philosophical? Deep? Poetic? … Nah! Spontaneous. It was eye catching as I edited… gestalt. Ah! And flowers….


Travel day

If you take away no other information, Colleen loves to eat out. It’s a bread stick! …but sublime. What a smile! Travel day – it’s the long ride to or from. We usually squeeze in an antique store or two. Some are high end “curated” – i.e. expensive! – and others are more practical – fun. No matter what, there’s always a lot of what you don’t need or didn’t know anyone else would ever buy – an electric cow milking machine? Shepard and sheep? Empty tin cans? Iron skillet? Oh, the things you find! Herd immunity? And the smile (eating out)… priceless!


Jane-d!

We just experienced Jane(d) again. This would be a follow up to a recent post on this very subject. Never take a photo of someone while they eat. (They look funny – ridiculous.) Jane loves to eat out. She loves to try everything on the menu – if only she could. She ordered tacos. I do not believe she has ever eaten a taco and probably misheard the waitress. She was surprised enough to ask what it was they placed before her. And she did not eat it. She took it home to die in her refrigerator until after we left. Ditto – the dessert. It was a mango parfait. The baker came from the kitchen to ask how she liked it. Jane said it would have been better with fresh mango to which the baker replied she had used a fresh mango puree. Insert foot…. Colleen and I thoroughly enjoyed dinner. I pretended Jane ate everything and was pleased as well. That would be my story and I’m sticking with it.


3%

These are random observations today. 3% is the amount of lemon juice in this container of frozen treat. Two servings at 130 cal for a total of 290 cal in the container. Yeah, do the math. And, two plus two….  Oh, 3% juice? It’s sugar water! Lemons are not naturally sweet. It’s the flower of a dill plant. Who cares? And, look at that fat ass. Sorry, not PC. The pic is to illustrate two – count ‘em – phones. Matching cheeks? Ooops! Phones? Was the daughter embarrassed? This was a random capture. So, the image left me wondering too. Sometimes things just don’t make a whole lot of sense. Tillie? Eyes torqued and tongue out? I don’t know either.


High Tea

This would be my second time. We tried it in Scotland. And, now we found a Tea Room closer to home. It was shut during the Covid crisis. Now that we are vaccinated, the shop has opened and accepted reservations. The hat is de rigueur. Afterward we wandered through the local antique store trying on more stylish chapeaus for the next occasion when we take high tea once more. Pennies on the table? Shiny. They keep away flies. Uh, ok. It worked. We did not see a fly all day.


Mealtime

I had a baguette. So, sandwich! – Chutney, whole grain mustard, garden lettuce, ham, swiss – and a hearty appetite. To drink – lemonade and root beer. Yes, it’s a weird combo, but…  And my cat? – Spice – had her own opinion about my repast. Open wide.


Opps…oops

Digital cameras allow you to make a mistake that keeps on giving. Since August 3 of last year, for nearly eight months, I have had an erroneous setting for the ISO. Ordinarily, it is set to “Auto.” Somehow it was set to ISO 800. So, a lot of pics were taken with the wrong setting. The other parameters adjusted “automatically” and I never noticed the error till now. I only picked up my mistake because the camera used a very long shutter speed one day. Aha! Corrected! Fixed! All is right again. It only took eight months to notice. Gee!! The pizza? As long as we are talking mistakes, this shot was made after I fixed the ISO. The pizza is the error. We have a pizza chain. The pizza is nearly inedible. I kid you not. I was desperate for a “slice,” any slice. I actually went home and ate something more. To protect the name of the guilty I won’t mention the name Grotto.


Bake

We have binge watched the Great British Baking Show. It’s sad to see amateur bakers criticized for mistakes they make under the pressure of an audience and the judges. But, it did teach me some things about improvising. We recently had outdated whipped cream that had been frozen. Nope, it’s butter. Toss it. And then, I was making meringue cookies. The egg whites did not whip up. What to do? Quick, add some flour and cocoa powder – sponge, jelly roll cake. Fresh whipped cream, ha ha. And there was enough cream for the Atlantic pie – a lemon curd, (saltine) cracker crust pie. A happy ending! So, I have advanced my baking skill by becoming less intimidated that everything must be precise and measured in baking. There are limits to be tested. How about that? A jelly roll cake!


Expected

Boring. The news is redundant. What did you expect? The Afghans would make a stand – like the Alamo?

Another day, another mass shooting. This past weekend there were multiple mass shootings. I did not see any reported. There is a level of death count and heinous standard that must be met before it is in the news? Like a scorecard I scan for the “death count.” It seems the shooter also must be among the dead. And, shhhh! All the neighbors knew he would do it one day!

Food? All these recipes and nothing to eat. Boring. Not a thing is appetizing tantalizingly making me hungry. It’s a mish mash of ingredients pushed together a la Food Channel. Colorful “throw-up? Nope, not for me.

Congress, as usual, is in stalemate. Finger wagging and tut tut amounts to stagnation once more. “Filibuster” this filibuster that!

45? He’s still alive? Relevant? There was nothing on the grand jury in the NYT. Some intrepid NYT reporter was not first with the scoop, so, the WaPo runs with the story and MSNBC has hour after hour of gossip speculation on “IT!”

“We (will) know a trial is close when the courtroom sketch artist goes to Michaels and says, ‘Give me all the orange crayons you have.’” — JIMMY FALLON


Did you ever?

… eat in a restaurant called Ketchup? Would you? We did. It was in Jeddah. Why? The name, of course. It was a Middle Eastern restaurant. Of course, it was. Good? I have no recollection. So, I guess, forgettable.

… eat, deep fried kale? Preserve, Annapolis. It was a restaurant recommendation at another store. Spectacular! And messy! I tried it at home. Kale splatters oil all over the place. It is the quintessential poster child for “Don’t try this at home!” Good? Spectacular! Have we been back? No, it is, alas, (it’s) bad for you. But boy oh boy, was it good!


A year ago

3/11/21 – this year, designated the “one year anniversary”

57 million vaccinated – have had one shot or more

Vaccine – an actual one was developed in less than a year

Speech – a national address by our (real) leader on the 1st anniversary. trump???? who????

Covid relief American rescue package – it passed. Not a single republican voted for it. Traitors.

Eve of 2nd shot – I got mine the next day.

“If somebody said ‘N95’ to you one year ago, you’d think they were a bingo caller.” — JIMMY KIMMEL

They talk about a year ago. 3/11/20. Anniversary of corona. Where were you? Memorable? No, it just came and went as an ordinary day. I can note it/did note it, because I have a photo diary. The news and late night shows were full of the “anniversary.” The “event” (last year) was marked by the shutdown of Delaware by the governor. For us it was the evening/night of 3/16/20. All business was shut. A year later, the library opened for the first time. We did a little victory dance. Anniversary Day +1 is my second shot. I’m old. For most the first shot is months away. For others, they will be foolish, ignore the science, and decline the vaccine. What a world? What a time? The “former guy” is out of office. Sanity, truth, and science have returned. If you commit a crime, you do not get a free pass – see Gov Cuomo. Yeah, it’s been a hell of a f’n year!

What were/where were you? We learned to make Nantucket baskets and ate Thai as they announced all business was closed. The flowers were in bloom. (Not yet this year.) I was in my fake flowers/vases phase. Colleen made a “Giovanni” burger for me. The groceries were suddenly without TP! Toilet paper!?!? Patch was sleeping soundly through it all on our bed. It’s not an anniversary. That would impart more of a celebration. This was more like – “yeah, I was there. Ain’t it amazing when you look back?” Life, as we knew it, changed right afterward.


Apropos to nothing

I take pictures everyday. I edit infrequently. I edit to cull best shots. I edit to keep the database up to date. On January 28, three pics popped up. They are unrelated except to document the day. Blue Willow plate – English – it’s a divided plate that conjures past memory like Proust’s madeleine. Colleen recalled fond memories when none of her food was allowed to touch each other on her plate. She was indulged by Mother and served on this divided dish. Well, not this dish, but it was one similar. And I indulged her and bought one for her. Ah, the things one does for love. We were in the market and a package of sausage meat germinated the idea to make sausage cake, a British concoction. Colleen says it is akin to plum pudding. It’s a spice cake with walnuts… Good? It’s an acquired taste, I think. And on the same morning, my death-defying cat, Ray, climbed the rail and casually nipped at the planter. He jumps. He is our climbing cat (see climbing the bookcase) and he constantly scares Colleen. She would definitely miss him if he fell. Until recently I could say, “No problem, I have seven cats.” It’s no longer true and I never believed it anyway.


Do-over

We ate in this restaurant the night we were married. It was pre-Covid. But, we sort of eloped. Not even our hosts joined us to celebrate with dinner. Luckily, restrictions are not so tight now. We returned to a splendid evening out and had another excellent meal. Crab, lamb, and creme brulee – have you gotten the idea Colleen likes crab? Happy? More than ever. Given my tendency to nuttiness, that’s saying a lot for Colleen’s patience. Saintly!! – her, not me!


Happily married

What do you do on a day you’d like to celebrate in an understated way? Head to the bookstore, antique store, and on to the favorite restaurant. Someone got a very nice day out of the deal. Pardon the out of focus shots – low/dim lighting. That would be crab imperial – pretty much straight lump crab meat. We got a teacher discount at Apple. And, “one thing” at Barnes and Noble – that’s the rule, just one thing. Happily married? I joke. But, it is not an oxymoron in our little house.


Lemonade

When you have lemons, you make…. Meyer lemon. Special. You bet. I’ve never distinguished.  A lemon is a …. In this case, we got a scraggly tree a few years ago. Would it live? I coddled that thing. … mainly because it cost so much $$$. Nada! We had a few thimble sized lemons; they promptly fell off the tree. Now, finally, about three years later…. we got a lemon that grew. … and grew. It ripened on the tree. It was huge. It did not fall off. Colleen was concerned it was overripe or dried out. Nope! She finally cut into it. It was perfect; not dry; mildly sweet; not overripe. And! She made lemonade. Special? Of course, this was lemonade three years in the making. I think I won’t see another lemon for three more years. Darn! It was good!


Lemon curd

Ok, I have never officially made lemon curd. I make a lemon tart but it’s not quite the same? Really?! Eggs, butter, lemons, no one really tells you much more than “large” lemons or “large” eggs. I had what I had. I zested and I juiced the lemons, and was prepared to add bottled lemon juice as needed. Nope! That was not a problem. The problem lay in knowing what it looks like when it thickens. I was uncertain my mixture had reached the correct doneness. Would it be runny and fail to hold between layers of puff pastry later on? It was hell. I cooked and stirred way beyond what was recommended in the recipe. Imagine all those eggs and lemons and time gone to waste. Ha! As you saw in yesterday’s post, it was a spectacular success. If not, I wouldn’t be posting and there would be no pictures.


Mmmmmm

We giggled the whole time we ate these. Actually, Colleen could only be heard to say, “Mmmmmmmmm…..”  She hummed as she ate never saying a word unless a single sound qualifies as coherent conversation. I have never worked with puff pastry. It got away from me and really “puffed!” It started with two bags of lemons. I mistakenly bought two bags of lemons. In December one makes lemon curd not lemonade. That’s what the internet says. And marscapone cream – I found it in the grocery. I’ve never worked with that either. Anything looks better with powdered sugar. Wow! I think I outdid myself. Picturesque?! You bet. But the “Mmmmm” that Colleen hummed has me smiling as I recall the moment we cheated and ate one before taking it out for dinner. Who’s counting? Yes, this is essentially a repeat post. But! It was so freakin’ good! It’s not the first Napoleon ever made. But this/these were mine/ours. You gotta smile even if you can’t eat one. That is Colleen’s “mmmmmm” and I’m stickin’ with it!


Mmmmmmm

From the start to finish all you heard from Colleen was “mmmmm” in one form or another as she slowly savored this Napoleon. It was so touching. She loves my cooking and is so kind. On this occasion, an infrequent occasion (that I bake), she just adored my baking. (It assures that I will live here another year.) We made lemon curd. Yes, if you have lemons – two bags (mistake) – make lemon curd. It would not thicken. Long story short, we finally got it to do so. And I found marscarpone cheese in the market – lemon marscarpone cream! Napoleon, anyone? I have scant experience with puff pastry. Prick the dough with a fork to keep it from rising too much. Hey! That didn’t work! Lemon curd, marscarpone cream, berries (four kinds), and powdered sugar, what could go wrong!! I will treasure the “mmmmm” for a long time. Of course! We tried one before we took them to New Year’s dinner. Who’s counting? Baking is very precise – measure, cut, timing, shape, and appearance. Who cares?


While we’re talking…

… about food, I have to mention Beef Wellington and Yorkshire pudding. The internet will provide you with about any recipe you desire to tackle. Ha ha, my vegetarian wife (temporarily on hiatus) suggested Beef Wellington. She reads recipes – yes, even after dinner, they appeal. Well, ok! We needed meat. Off to the butcher to discover the cut needed to put this together. We were told to call a day in advance only to be stymied when I called to put in my order. No more phone orders, it was too close to Xmas. We got there just in time to snag the very last Filet mignon roast out of the case. Pfewff! Yorkhire pudding? Why not? We’ve never done that either. There were more steps, a lot of mushrooms, some Dijon mustard, and more steps. I have never worked with puff pastry either. Wrapping the meat in puff required some logical thinking. Fortunately, we were up to the task. The Yorksshire pudding calls for drippings in the muffin pan on high oven heat. It was smoking hot and not too promisingly looking when it went back in the oven. It returned gloriously risen. We were giggling. (Yeah, a couple of grown-ups giggling.) All in all, it was fabulous. Borscht might not be the soup to pair, but hey, Colleen wanted it. And, she prepped a Waldorf salad. Darn, we’re dropping a lot of names here. Did I say it was a fabulous meal? It came out delicious and perfect. My only regret is that we could not share the good fortune and bounty with family. I’m hungry writing about it. The very good news is that there are leftovers in the fridge and dinnertime is soon. Historical note: this was a fabulous meal. Three dishes began with names with capital letters. How neat is that?!!


Failure is not an option

We made gifts for the family – local cousins. Times five – one each and one for us, it was to be Challah bread, brownies, and flavored oyster crackers. Ha ha. Oyster crackers? Yeah, a guilty pleasure triggered by a memory while grocery shopping. Hey, they are good! The bread – who knew – Colleen started baking them after dark. Five loaves. Five recipes, one at a time. It turns out the loaves were huge, as in really large! This was way too big for one or two persons. Ha ha! She followed the directions. We were exhausted and I fell asleep by the time the first loaf came out of the oven. Colleen still had four loaves rising all over the house in every warms spot we could construct. She finished around 1:30am. Over baked! Dammit. You could tell from the loaf we had/sampled. Trash or gift? Four huge loaves. You could cry. The pecan tassie – “tea time tassies” (local vernacular) were inspired by a visit to the grocery and a NYT recipe. That would have been perfect but we were not ready for mass production…. yet.

What could go wrong? Brownies – I added chocolate chips and walnuts. No problem. And sprinkles on top, it’s Christmas. The sprinkle stars melted into the brownie top making unidentified holes. Not too bad otherwise, I was sure no one would notice after they were cut.

Pea soup? Yes, that was the opening act to our day before we started baking bread. Who figured proofing and rising would take so long? Leftover ham bone makes great pea soup to go along with ham and cheese sandwiches. Really! And yes, that’s a bite out of the sandwich. (I forgot to snap a picture before I was savoring my sandwich.) Yes, we have been eating well during the pandemic.

We delivered (bread), mentioning it was large (ha ha) and would make great French toast. It worked. Ultimately, we got messages of approval. Of course, I had messaged images of the French toast and my “mmmmm’s.” It turned out to be fabulous French toast! – We’ve had no feedback. My opinion: the brownies were overdone and the challah overbaked. Well. Damn!