Saturday, May 31, 2008

Going, Going...GONE!

It's gone. I'm heartbroken!

I was first introduced to this country auction in Fleischmanns, NY by my daughter, Sarah, about 2 years ago. I became an auction addict and though it was a 2 hour drive my friend Judy and I often traveled up and back on a Saturday to sit for 4-5 hours and see if anything caught our fancy.

Sometimes a trinket for a mere 'dollar bill' was more than we could withstand and we'd pack up my Prius with a carload of stuff to bring home.

We hadn't been for awhile, we were busy, the weather didn't cooperate, but tonight we had a plan. It had been on my calendar for a month....we were going to the auction!

We always leave at 4 PM. Drive two hours to get there by 6 so we can preview the goodies and have a bite to eat before the auction starts at 7.

But as we arrived at the auction house, we found a For Sale sign with a large SOLD on top.

I knew that it was up for sale. It had been for more than a year....but gone! Just like that??

What ever will we do to for a good auction? And more importantly, what are the folks in Fleischmanns doing for Saturday night entertainment, now!!??
For a more descriptive analysis of what I'm mourning see this NYTimes article from 1993. It really captures the spirit of the Saturday night auctions.....

Friday, May 30, 2008

Magic Trick

Is that a magic trick you're doing, Jessica??

Daughter Jessica is here from Atlanta
for a few days. It's always fun to have her here.
We don't get to see here very often...and probably
even less now with escalating air fares!

She'll help wrap soap while she's here and
tonight we're going to the movies to see
Baby Mama with Amy Poehler and Tina Fey two
very funny comedians!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Yikes.....Frost in the Valley

At eleven PM news reported that some areas west and north of the city might get FROST!
I worried about my newly planted tomato at midnight, flashlight in one hand and newspapers in the other, I protected them. OK, so I missed ONE. That's how I know we didn't get the frost. He was NOT frosty this morning.

Before 7 this morning...papers off...and we're ready for sunshine to make those puppies grow!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Blank Slate or how I learned to plant a garden

I love the look of a garden all ready to plant.

My father was a great gardener. He could grow just about anything. My brother is the same.

I, on the other hand, often get a pretty good start and then it all gets away from me.

We'll see how this goes. I'm going to work really hard to stay on top of these. I planted these heirloom tomato seedlings that Sarah started months ago. 16 little babies all ready to bear lovely fruit. I posted close ups of the varieties on Flickr. You can see I made use of plastic knives and a permanent sharpie to make little garden tags.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day and Reminiscing

Reminiscing on a holiday makes me think of my mom's cooking. She was a good, old fashioned cook. Nothing fancy, but good hearty food. When she couldn't cook any longer my dad learned to make many of the recipes that she used to make....even pie crust - from scratch - so he could make a red raspberry pie, one of his favorites.

So, to hail the beginning of summer, and because daughter Jessica called from the grocery store in Atlanta, (as she often does) to find out how to make potato salad....I tell her, then head up to the kitchen to make macaroni salad. I'm out of potatoes. I make them both almost the same way and still make it the way Mom did.

You must start with Hellman's of course. It's REAL. I cook macaroni, usually elbows, but today I just had a half box of small shells. They're OK too. While they cook, I mix mayo, a small bit of mustard, chopped onion ( I used red today) and celery in a large bowl. Oh, I also cook some eggs to add. When the macaroni is done, I drain it, rinse it with cool water and set aside for a few minutes, while I cool then peel the hard cooked eggs.
While the pasta is still warm , I add it to the mayo mix and then add the chopped hard cooked eggs. Stir it up..season with salt and pepper and serve with White Hots from Zweigles....the kind that you can only get near Rochester, NY. We import these from upstate when we travel to Canada and keep a supply in the freezer. They also make a RED HOT (natural casing a must) that pretty darn good!

These MUST be cooked on the grill and then until the natural casings split open, hence the POPOPEN name on the package. I like them pretty blackened, too.

Also, must serve them with mustard and sweet pickle relish.

Now I know it's summer!

Wrapping it up

I spent Sunday at Saipua, while Sarah and Eric were at the Brooklyn Flea. I like being the shopkeeper once in a while and talking to folks that come by.

Yesterday was pretty quite in the neighborhood, it being a holiday weekend and I wrapped soap.

When they came back from the market, the three of us headed over to The Farm for dinner. Great ambiance, delicious food....but no strawberry rhubarb crisp. The only item on the dessert menu that could have convinced me to go for dessert.

I did score some lovely anemones from the shop
before I of my favorite flowers.

Sarah and Eric are in the midst of a very busy
wedding season. For photos of the wedding they did at Wave Hill last weekend, check out this blog at Little Winter Bride.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Thinking Big : Part 2

We christened that big pot this morning and made 120 lbs. of soap. Here I am pouring it into the last of the 4 molds. You can see the whole process on flickr.

My large mold that will hold the whole batch isn't ready yet, so we had to pour into 4 separate molds. But that was easy.
New mold should be ready to use by Tuesday.

It just doesn't get better than this!

We then succumbed to fresh coffee and sinful donuts.
Not the kind that are often described on the blognut....just the old Dunkin' kind.

Iris, at last!

I planted these gorgeous white iris last year. And finally this morning, I got up to this!

It's been trying to open all week, but it's been cold and not quite sunny enought. This was worth waiting for!

Those are yellow digitalis in the background. They are spreading like crazy and helping to keep the weeds at bay.

Thinking Big

When you need to make more soap and you have a husband who is handy this is what you get.

A 25 gallon pot in a frame that tips it into the mold (which was also built by that same ingenious husband) Thank you Pentti!!

I am sooooo excited!! Tomorrow instead of making 4 - 30lb. batches of Mango Butter soap ......I'll be making just one: 120lb. at one time.

Doesn't take much to make us soapmakers happy!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Spring Fling with Asparagus

I have 3 favorite ways to have asparagus.

1. roasted with crushed anise seed
2. asparagus risotto
3. leftover in a breakfast omelet

Tonight I decided to combine numbers 1 and 2.

I started with fresh asparagus.

I've had this asparagus risotto recipe for years. Don't even remember where it came from, but it's written on a card in my recipe box. I've adapted it a bit over the years, like using brown basmati rice.
Start with onions, sauteed in olive oil and a bit of butter. Add brown rice and saute a bit more.
Then add chicken broth and cover to cook until done.

Meanwhile, saute cut asparagus in butter. Here's where I added the ground anise seed. I used about 1/4 tsp. of seeds, ground finely with a mortar and pestle. When rice was done, I stirred in the asparagus and topped with shredded pecorino romano cheese. Yum...a meal in itself!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Not Too Hot for Soup!

It's cool again here. And it's almost June!

I was a soap slave yesterday. 200 pounds of grapefruit soap in the morning.

When lunch time came I dug out this soup I started the other day....broccoli.

I used a couple of past their prime leeks and a head of organic broccoli....sauteed leek and broccoli stems in olive oil. Added chicken stock and simmered. Added the broccoli tops after the stems were tender. That's where I left the refrigerator.

So when I needed something in a hurry for lunch, I added some milk, half and half and a bit of butter/flour roux to thicken. I don't puree. I like chunky soup. Finally, the cheese. Cheddar here. My favorite way to eat broccoli.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Baking Late

At 8:30 tonight, I found my self needing to bake something for the church bake sale tomorrow morning and there's no time to do in in the I'm off to Saipua to mind the shop while Sarah and Eric deliver flowers for a wedding.

So....what do I have in the cupboard? I think I should start with oats. I always have them and love oatmeal cookies. But it has to be a bar cookie. No time to be dropping individual cookies!

I search Epicurious for 'oatmeal bars' and come up with two. I choose Oatmeal Coconut Raspberry Bars. I think the jam could be a problem. But find that I have one more jar of homemade raspberry jam from the 'Jam Man' who sells at my local farmers market. Yummmmm...I hate to part with it but the market opens again next month and I can resupply!

I love to 'adapt' the recipes on Epi by reading the reviews. I used all of the scrimping there, but did omit the white sugar. Also added about an extra 3/4 cup of oats. I want them to be really oaty. I also used only half the coconut because that's all I had. I didn't bother toasting it...just put it in with the oats. Not on top. Didn't want it to overbrown.

So...I guess I'm one of those people they complain about on Epicurious. You know. The ones who change the recipe all up and then post a review. Other posters complain that you didn't REALLY make the recipe as written, so how can you review it??

I'll let you know how they came out. Then maybe I'll write an Epicurious review!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Love in Bloom

Lilacs from the bushes that I dug up as 'suckers' from my dad's yard years ago....and parrot tulips and astilbe that I brought home from Saipua on Sunday. I love spring! So many flowers in bloom! And the fragrance is amazing!

The only thing I'm missing is peonies. I need to get some this year. Another of my favorite flowers!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Cool Nights, Warm Days

It's a glorious morning and my garden is beginning it's full bloom.

Siberian Iris are beginning to multiply nicely and if you look closely, you'll see slender purple buds getting ready to open in June.

To the left is Rudbeckia. That won't flower for awhile. Lamb's Ear in the right foreground.

These Azaleas were here when I came to this house in 1970. I expect they could be upwards of 60 years old. I've cut them almost to the ground many times.....and they've always given me beautiful blossoms every spring!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Home from Brooklyn with goodies....

Spent a lovely mother's day with daughter Sarah at the Saipua shop in Brooklyn. When we closed the store, she made a scruptious dinner of lamb chops, oven fries and asparagus....AND rosemary aioli....yummmm!

Came home on Monday with these. At left is the lovely dried flower arrangement that Sarah did for my bathroom.

Below are the heirloom tomato seedlings she started weeks ago. These are my share, destined for my garden as soon as the soil warms a bit.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day and the Prodigal Returns

Sorry lovely daughters Sarah and Jessica. But my best mother's day gift showed up at the door this Buddy!

We adopted Buddy as a stray about 3 years ago. But since Dec. '07 he's been only an occasionally visitor. Then at the beginning of April he stopped coming home at all....almost 6 weeks without a sighting. We've been hoping and suspecting that he had found another home.

Then this morning, he showed up at the front door. We're ready to slaughter the fatted calf!! Yes, he's here.....but Buddy!! What did they do to you??

Buddy is part Maine Coon and he is our only long hair cat. He DOES have a problem with very matted fur by the end of the winter....kind of like dreds. But someone has made our 'lion' of a cat look like a French Poodle!!

And...true to form. We have to set him free. He me a small nip ( he always was a bit fresh) and wants out. Go free Buddy. I hope your fur grows back soon.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Slow Saturday and Tag Sales

I like to take my time in the morning, especially on Saturday. After 35 yrs. of getting up at 6AM...sleeping until 7:30 seems decadent to me and one of my great pleasures in life.

But today there was soap to make and no food in the house. So a trip to the store was a must.

I tried to make it a pleasure trip by checking out and finding a 40-family tag sale at a local church.
This one was all clothes and books....not the interesting stuff I was looking for. If I had more time today, I'd head up to Stormville for their big 'yard sale' It's not listed on their website, but it WAS listed on TagSalesMaps as Stormville Airports Ultimate Yard Sale. Now there's a yard sale worth going to.

One day I'll talk about my auction addition.

New Depths of PHISHING

I am usually pretty good at identifying email scams. I get them all of the time from so called banks, paypal, ebay, etc...telling me I need to update my account because they are closing it.

But this morning I got one from the 'IRS' It looked SO REAL.
They wanted me to fill out a form online to get my STIMULUS REFUND. My first clue that this was a scam: I got my REAL refund yesterday in my checking account.

When I clicked through, I discovered that they wanted my : debit card number (to deposit the refund), my exp. date, 3-digit code, AND my ATM pin number. That and the phony web address that appeared at the top of the page was plenty to tip me off.....but I know some might fall for it. How despicable!!

By the way, when I previewed this post in Firefox and clicked the link above, a window popped up saying that it was a suspected web forgery. Yay! Firefox!

Friday, May 9, 2008

Sweet Part II

I don't usually use 'sweet' and 'Donald Rumsfeld' in the same sentence, but I had lunch today with my friend Judy. We were celebrating a milestone birthday of hers on Monday of this week. Her daughter is finishing a master's in nutrition at Columbia and Judy has been privy to much of her research. Today she mentioned a suspicious connection between Aspartame and Donald Rumsfeld.

Read it or Watch it...just DON'T DRINK IT!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

6 Beauties

Shopping and lunch today with my friend Susan and a stop in her favorite antique shop in Mahopac.

I have a soft spot for old things. Like these sweet little juice glasses I found today. I think they're circa 1950, maybe even as old as I am.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Joy Luck!

In 2002, a group of us, all newly retired from teaching, learned to play Mah Jongg.

6 years and 1500 games later...I'm addicted.

The Drum Beat

New Jersey.

 It's where I always get lost.  We travel to Newark to get our soapmaking oils every couple of months and never get there the same way twice.

Only a couple of missteps on the way down. Then we loaded our truck and returned home without incident. PTL. 

Can't be late for my Mah Jongg game tonight.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Rule

I have one rule when I cook.  Food must be prepped and ready for last minute cooking before cocktail hour.   Tonight was one of those nights.  After making 100 pounds of soap today, I needed both the cocktail and the easy dinner. 

So this is how it went. Pork cutlets from Epicurious.   60 second Brussels Sprouts and some boiled Yukon gold potatoes.

Now that everythings's martini time.


And the best part.  Leftovers!  

My regular Mah Jongg game is tomorrow.  I'll be back with more about that.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Theorem Painting

I've had my eye on this sweet little bird for quite awhile.  Up until yesterday, it lived in my brothers bathroom.  During a visit with him on the way home from the soap conference, I was able to make it mine!  

He called it ' theorem painting ' and although I don't usually like painting on velvet...this one is really lovely.  Theorems weren't always painted on velvet, but if you look really closely at this one, the background has a fine velvet texture.  This little one is only about 5" x 5".

If Steve knew how much this was worth, he probably wouldn't have given it to me.....good thing he doesn't read my blog!

SunFeather Natural Soaps

This is Sandy Maine in front of  Sunfeather Natural Soaps.  How interesting to have a tour of a working soap factory!

 Thanks, Sandy for your generosity!!