Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day

Today, on Father's Day, I'm thinking of my adorable Daddy, the best ever! But that's not unusual because I think of him so often every day!   I was a lucky girl,


Tuesday, June 16, 2015


Happy Bloomsday!

About a thousand years ago, my Aunt Dakki and I were attending the opera.  As we anxiously waited in our seats for the performance to begin, I said conversationally, "I have only ten pages of Ulysses left to read."  She replied, "Oh! How is it so far?" 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Flag Day

Happy Flag Day. It's one of my favorite holidays, but I'm not quite sure why as it really isn't much of a holiday at all. One puts out one's flag, admires it, and takes it down later. So why is flag day so special? Well, it means that summer is really here. It's usually lovely day, and the herald of many more bright sunny days. It's fun put up your flag, admire it, and then take it down later. One feels a bit like a Boy Scout. So, Happy Flag Day.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Pot Luck Day

I was having breakfast with some friends, and the subject of potato salad came up. We all had our different opinions, but the theme “no goopy greasy mayonnaise” was consistent.  I talked about one of my favorite recipes, which is from my antique New York Times Cookbook. In my youth, I hated all potato salad except that made by my mother. Rebecca too reminisces about Grandma’s potato salad and we speculate as to what its secret might have been.  When I asked her for the recipe, she always hemmed and hawed, and managed to change the subject.  In later years her brother, my Uncle Robert, made exactly the same potato salad.  When I asked him for the recipe, he hemmed and hawed in exactly the same manner.  My supposition is that my Alsatian Grandmother must have made this salad via some stream of consciousness cooking, and her children must have absorbed it (the recipe stream, not the actual salad) by osmosis, also later channeling her and making the same via some inner stream .  Unfortunately I absorbed neither the recipe nor the inner stream, and now a great potato salad is lost in the eddies of the river of time.  Sigh. 

  My Mutti was an excellent cook, constantly producing wonderful concoctions, and as far as I know, she did not have a cookbook and never used a recipe.  She even made fudge from scratch with no recipe and no candy thermometer.  This is, to me, amazing.  When I make fudge, I am like a chemist, checking the weather report for humidity, measuring ingredients to the exact amounts called for, observing the thermometer and temperature of the brew obsessively.  Those drops of fudge goo into a cup of water are alien and meaningless to me.  One of Mutti's friends, seeing that there was not a single cookbook in the house, gave her a Betty Crocker cookbook, and this she promptly gave to me, as I was a new bride and could not even boil an egg.  My mother did not pass along a single drop of the inner stream, and kept me out of the kitchen pretty much altogether.  I could make cakes from a cake mix and was allowed to do this on special occasions, but that was about it for my early culinary skills.
  Happily, I saw an ad telling me that if I joined the Book of the Month Club, I could have these five fabulous cookbooks, so I promptly signed up.  The cookbooks actually were pretty fabulous too.  I still use them today, and as you can see, they have been good friends for quite some time.  The other two were Julia Child's original French Cooking, and Larousse-Gastronomique - both fabulous, although I use the latter mostly for information rather that recipes.  I now have a pretty bit cookbook collection, but I return to these in a pinch.  A clever detective would deduct this as the pages are covered with food splashes and stains.  

A terrible picture.  I had served most of it at a pot luck and then eaten almost all the rest, forgetting to take a photo till this was all there was.

French Potato Salad (New York Times Cookbook)

8 medium potatoes

1 tsp salt

½ tsp freshly ground pepper

¼ wine vinegar
2 tbs. consommé
2 tbs. dry white wine (I usually use vermouth unless I happen to have something yummier in my refrigerator)
½ tbs. dried tarragon leaves 
1 tbs. chopped parsley
½ cup oil

Cook the potatoes in boiling salted water till tender but still firm – about 30 minutes. (That’s the official instruction.  I usually chop them into the desired  final size and then steam them in a vegetable steamer until they can be pierced easily with a sharp knife. Much quicker.)

If you cooked the potatoes whole, peel them and slice them into either chunks or slices.  Me – I go for chunks.

In another bowl, mix the salt, pepper, consomm√©, vinegar, and wine, whisking until the salt dissolves.  Then add the oil and tarragon, again mixing well.  Pour over the potatoes, tossing gently until all the liquid is absorbed. 

Gaaaaaaaah!  I can't make the fonts be right!!!!! Sorry!!!


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Mysterious Cooking Day

Me having a great time in Europe

When, as a teen ager, I was traveling  around Europe, I only wrote to my parents when I was overcome with homesickness.  When I was having a great time, (see photo) I seldom gave them a thought.  Later, as a parent myself and understanding parental worries, when my little family spent a year in Ireland, I wrote faithfully at least once a week.  I guess that summarizes my current trouble blogging.  This is not to say that I had been immersed in the slough of sorrow when I was a faithful blogger.  Au contraire, I enjoy writing, and having you read it.  It’s just that I am just having too much fun with the rest of life.  Not that I wasn’t having fun before, but the fun didn’t seem quite so time consuming.  I am going to try to be a better blogger now.  But don’t hold your breath. 

Abrupt change of subject:::
Harkening back to youthful years, I have always, always, since I started reading anyway, been an avid mystery reader.  My mother used to go to the library during my school hours and checked out books for me in addition to those she got for herself.  And those books were usually mystery novels, often ones she had read when she was my age.  So I started life reading mysteries, and old fashioned ones at that.  When I was old enough to go to the library on my own, I headed straight to the horse-novel or dog-novel sections, but usually made a detour to the mystery section. (As you might guess from this, my local library was not organized strictly according to Mr. Dewey’s rules.) 

In high school, I decided that one should not waste time reading drivel, and read only “real literature” or improving books.  Once I graduated from college, and felt fried by all that serious reading, I retreated to my youth and had a spell of reading almost nothing but mysteries. One of my favorite detectives was Nero Wolfe.  Life in The Brownstone with Archie and Fritz seemed endlessly fascinating.   I even had a Nero Wolfe cookbook, from which I prepared many of my favorite dishes.  Once I had read them all, I gave Nero and Archie a long rest. Then, after a huge hiatus, and when in the doldrums bookwise, I decided to give the brownstone residents another go.  But, by this time, my consciousness had been raised, and I realized that Nero and Archie were sexist pigs. I could not abide them.  How could I ever have read this trash, I asked myself. Then for another twenty years or so, I scorned Nero and Archie. I have to confess that I even inwardly sneered at those who liked them.  More recently, when Ana told me that she was a fan, I was shocked. However we watched some Nero Wolfe videos, and I realized that my consciousness had sunken a bit, and my original love of Archie and Nero had raised its ugly head. So we watched lots of videos, and I reread lots of Rex Stout’s soft-boiled mysteries. 
Ana has a Nero Wolfe cookbook too, and she too, likes to experiment with recipes from it.  Here is her “healthier” version of Nero’s cook Fritz’s potatoes.  It is delicious.  Sorry  - the photo is a bit weird.  

Ana's Nero Wolfe Potatoes – somewhat healthier version


Roasted potatoes:
~600 g potatoes (I used an assortment of baby potatoes, but anything works)
1 tablespoon oil olive
3 cloves garlic, sliced
salt and pepper, to taste

Cut potatoes in to bite size peices, and mix with remaining ingredients.  Spread on a silpat lined baking sheet, and roast in a 350 F oven for an hour, stirring at 30 and 45 minutes.

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

Over medium heat, melt butter.  Whisk in flour, granulated garlic, and salt, to form a paste.  Cook and stir for about 30 seconds, being careful not to burn.  Whisk in milk.  Bring back to the boil, while stirring.  The sauce will thicken.  Remove from heat.

1/4 cup grated cheese (original recipe calls for parmesan, but cheedar and others work; use what you like)
4 eggs
salt and pepper, to taste

Combine roasted potatoes and bechamel sauce in an oven proof dish (an 8 x 8 pan or something similar is a good size).  Sprinkle the grated cheese over the top.  If you wish to make ahead and serve later, refridgerate now.  Otherwise, place in a 350 degree oven, for 15 - 20 minutes, until hot through and browned on top.

Poach the eggs using your preferred method, then sprinkle each with a bit of salt and pepper.

Place half the potatoes on your dish, and top with two poached eggs.

Makes 2 servings.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day

Here is the final resting place of my parents, my sister, my grandparents, great-grandparents, great-aunties and uncles, dear Tom, and there is a little spot waiting for me. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

An Exerciseful Day

There have been complaints!  In fact, I have complained about myself myself.  Why has that lazy Joanna not done a blog entry in ages?  She has ideas, pictures, but not much blog mojo.  The explanation might be that she just has been doing things that do not involve sitting at a desk staring at a flickery screen, and those things seem way more fun. 

Speaking of way more fun, Rebecca, Rachael, and I went on a 5 K fun run yesterday.  Rebecca had gone on this run in the past and liked it for many reasons – one of which was that it was near her house, and could be walked to.  Another, and I think the primary, charm was that it had a Beer Garden. 

Every participant got a free beer - or more precisely, a tiny can of Something-a-rita.  There were three flavors – Lime-a-rita, Straw-a-rita, or Lemon-a-rita.  We decided to each select different one so that we could try them all.  I thought lime sounded best, and was a inwardly smug when this was the one I got. Usually, being the Mother, I get the one that no one else wants. Maybe they were on to something though, because it was not very good.  The strawberry one was better, but sort of weird.  The lemon one was quite tasty.  There must have been minimal alcohol content, because after finishing the whole thing, I did not feel the tiniest bit tipsy.  As a general rule, three sips of wine will make me unpleasantly giddy. 

The theme du jour was Cinco de Mayo / fiesta / taco truck, and there were more taco trucks than I imagined ever existed. 

Those under 21 were  not allowed into the Beer Garden.  These underage folks are feeling quite left out as they wait for their people.  

I wanted a photo with a scenic Seattle bit, so here is a Black Sun photo bomb. One would have to be previously acquainted with it to recognize its significance as a Seattle sight. 

After brunch, we walked to Madison Park for ice cream.  For those not in the know, that is a looooooong walk.  But fun, especially with my girls.  

PS  Pru:  I have gotten new shoes. 

PPS  Why is my nose so red?