I’m spinning the photo catalog today. Originally, I had intended to publish one picture a day of “ooh and ah!” quality along with a story. Lately, it’s been about the stories triggered by the images. Technically, it still fits the title of the blog, but we are a long way off. I’ve been on a lot of planes. The middle top pic is instantly recognizable. Colleen hates to fly. She goes because she does not trust me alone? ?? Dunno? Ha! The first thing we did upon arrival was seek a vegetarian restaurant. It’s very appetizing – if you’re a rabbit. And she got a bottle of organic beer. Isn’t all that beer vegetarian and organic to begin with? I think maybe I would have rather been in the pakora place next door. But, it is now revealed Colleen doesn’t care for Indian. Damn, so far and yet so close. Figuratively, literally, you do the math and take your pick of the choices here in my words. The truth: We have fun. Anywhere is good as long as I’m with Colleen. Happiness is…
… 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!
Cut flowers have no chance in our house. The cats like flowers – to eat! Yes, laugh. The oddity extends to the artificial flowers too! Yes, they eat plastic. Taste? I don’t know why in the world, but they eat the flowers. And, they like it. Look closely. The petals nearest Nutley are gone. There goes the idea of gifting this plant.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Gotta have green beer. Don’t forget the beads. Why mess around with a perfectly good beer? It’s food coloring. It doesn’t change the taste. Ok?! Shamrock? Shamrock teapot? We did the usual: corned beef, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, soda bread, potato salad, and apple sauce. It got to be a little bigger than I intended. As you can see, we had a grand time. There was even enough for two more (guests). We are still being cautious. The pandemic is not quite over. We’re taking no chances, still.
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!
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.
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!
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?
… 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?!!
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!
Last night was the big game. Super Bowl. American football for my visitors from around the world. Tom Brady is a trumper. So, Colleen rooted for the Chiefs. I was sentimental to see the underdog win. Our tradition is to have a pig out of junk food. We had doughnuts, chips, and chocolate covered strawberries, etc. on hand for watching the game. Colleen hates football. She watches the commercials. I watch the game. We are about evenly set up.
Noa? She doesn’t know the situation and isn’t allowed junk food. All they had at her house was a lone bag of chips and avocado (healthy) dip. How much fun is that? Judging from her smile, more than enough.
Food photography is not my forte. Far from it, I have read about food stylists who add shine and steam. Often lard will stand in for… not all is real in food imaging. Alas – it’s my new favorite word – some things need help… Leftover turkey makes great pot pie. Where’s the pot? Ha ha? I have to admit we adpated our own container. Pot pie for two, it’s not an easy to task to find the right vessel. We tried to be simple, not overboard, This is comfort food. I browned the mushrooms. Yeah, yeah, it’s not a component. Well, it is, in mine. Sauce – cheating? – yes we used – cream of chicken, no, cream of mushroom. In the end it’s about what you like; there’s nothing set. And the grocery store frozen brand stuff has nothing on us. This was piping hot and as good to eat as it looked. Sorry, no steam effect.
Yes, Thanksgiving was last year already. I know that. And, we got a covid surge in December. And you have seen this picture of a crowded table. But, darn! We can cook (and bake!)! Needless to say we were not going anywhere and out of caution we did not invite anyone nor accept any invitations. It didn’t mean we did not have fun. Meanwhile, the food?! I am not a food photographer. Far from it. Often, I will be halfway through the meal before the thought of a picture occurs to me. Ha ha, let’s just agree that I am not a real food photographer. We did cook and bake. Colleen baked the butter sticks (rolls) and pumpkin pie – with whipped cream. We made a stuffed (chestnut dressing) turkey. In this I cheated. The turkey was overdone and not too (Norman Rockwell) picturesque. Alas.
We made (from scratch) all but the pickles – scalloped potatoes, Waldorf salad, cranberry sauces, apple sauce, pomegranate, and butternut squash soup. We made a lot of hot turkey sandwiches later and turkey pot pie. We missed family and friends. Fortunately, they have remained safe too. Let us hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Pie, before the whipped cream has covered Colleen’s gorgeous crust and filling. Too much – guilty, I always make too much stuffing to go inside the bird – Plan B.
Something old…. Well, Colleen likes to entertain. We have silver we got for cheap at one antique store or another. Yes, we have several sets. Did I tell you they were cheap? Yes, very. You just have to hit the sale at the right time. Coleen has made the linen. Yes, she wove, she has talent! The plates are from my side. Lisa never like them. My brothers gifted them. Colleen loves them. It all worked out. Pickles, yes, the pickle fork is rude. We got that at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Ha! Ham? I got a shoulder. Wrong cut, looks like sh*t, tasted great, you’d never know after it was cut. I gotta say it’s been nice playing “house” with Colleen.
Colleen made me a BLT for breakfast. Yeah, yeah, don’t laugh. And don’t tell me bacon is bad for you. I know this. And my cats consider themselves 10%ers. That is to say whatever I eat… they are entitled to 10%. It’s an immutable rule. Don’t blink or they will lick your food. Yuck, ugh, ewwww! I fight them for my spot at the table. Don’t be late!
We were playing hooky. Instead of quarantine we were… We found a new bookstore dedicated to local authors. The owner herself had written of her experiences as a funeral home owner. Geez, I can’t wait to see how that ended. The Enchanted Tea Room – ah, bad timing. She offers high tea – English style – tiered trays of tea sandwiches. Alas, she was ill with low back pain – my specialty! But I could not advise or console her. She only had an answering machine which she turned off. She was dreadfully afraid to catch covid. A former favorite restaurant re-opened as a bar. We tried it. Beer!? What’s not to like! The place was empty – not an auspicious start, ordinarily indicating a quick demise. Oh, I circled back to the funeral home?
Kodak’s fate was sealed when I got my first digital DSLR Nikon D70. It took a bit but not too long. Film? Slides? Gone. Like VHS tape. Gone. Film and slide scanning has gone through many iterations. There are cheap ways to get the job done. And then there is Nikon scan at 4000dpi. It is good? I guess. It has reached cult status. There are a few mavens who know and repair scanners in need. I was in contact with a couple. Characters? Yes, in the nicest sense there is a community of people out there who scan. I didn’t know how enthusiastic and will probably not know. I’m not on Facebook. I daresay everyone has their own workaround and solution to getting the job done. I have pictured here two scanners and two bulk loaders running day and night to get the task completed. No one in my family will ever care or be able to do this. Fine! Madness! Me. Yeah, I’m nuts.
The doughnut? Entenmann’s chocolate. If you live in NY or thereabouts, this is what you grew up with. My kids loved them. We kept them in the freezer (out of reach). When they could reach, I camouflaged them in a chocolate raspberry box (they hated raspberry). As the father there were ingenious strategies to keep one’s treats. My kids would raid my den for candy when they were desperate. I hid them well too. The doughnut – it happened to be in proximity to the scan photos. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.
…a lot! She told me when we first emailed, before we ever met. The fact sailed over my head. Men! Then we met and she drank beer – dark beer! It tasted awful to me. I’m non-alcoholic. I indulged her. We bought beer. Recently I found a stash of empty cartons. ??? … we hoard. Who knows when you need an empty? (Actually, I put in bottles of coffee, juice, etc in the back seat while we travel. They are handy containers.) It’s another collection of clutter. Yeah… likes beer. I love her to pieces! Me? I downsized by photographing the collection…
This photo was from years back. Who knew it would be relevant. … and that I could find it. I have an eye for strange humor. Colleen indulges me. We laugh. We love. I would never make fun of her. Never! It’s just plain fun to be with her. She’s probably giggling right now while she hunts me down….
I have been on the hunt for a good NY style cheesecake since Jeddah (years). No, they don’t make cheesecake in Jeddah. There was a Cheesecake Factory; it was not good at all. I made (recently) a Jello instant cheesecake; it was worse by far. Yuck! I finally assembled the “real” Philly cream cheese and made one; it was spectacular! I decided to try again. I did a few things wrong – like I turned off the oven instead of simply lowering the heat. After an hour the cheesecake had obviously not baked up. I survived this calamity. There was a crack on the top. Heavens!! My waterbath! Nope, the crack disappeared as the cake cooled. We didn’t eat it for days – circumstance. It only got better! – the top was shiny- glazed – just like a NY cheesecake should look. No, we are not social distancing so much now. We’re (smartly) vetting our guests. The beer? – Colleen did it – shaken but not stirred, The cheesecake? – heaven on a plate – with cherry sauce!
The first time I visited Jules in California she ordered up a kale smoothie. It was green. I would add colorful adjectives to describe the drink – green, yuck! Suffice to say, I was horrified. My daughter! She wouldn’t eat anything green growing up. Her daughter, my granddaughter, drank from Grandma’s cup. Colleen drinks green juice. It’s good for you. Right!? And she liked it! OMG. Somehow green reminds me of a swamp. You are what you eat??? Not by my hand… Colleen’s not green either.