Showing posts from May, 2008

Spring Offering - Rhubarb-Custard Pie

Even when unhappy things happen, it's hard not to celebrate the season. This is especially true when the rhubarb patch is ready for the first picking, which means that I can make the best pie that I make all year:

Rhubarb-Custard Pie

The recipe is adapted to a couple of sources. The half and half crust comes from Tassajara Cooking and the filling comes from the 1970 edition of the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book. I have made some changes to the original recipes to suit current thinking about food, and my personal taste. The egg does something very nice to smooth out the astringent quality that rhubarb can have, and I use less sugar than you will find specified in most rhubarb pie recipes.

First, make the filling:

3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
4 cups rhubarb, cut in 1 inch slices (8 to 10 large stalks)

Beat the eggs well. Add the sugar, and whisk until smooth. Add the flour and spices, and whisk until smooth.

Cut the rhubarb.


What I'm missing in the morning

Sometimes you can live for decades before discovering what makes life worth living.

This is what I have learned:

Mix one heaping teaspoon of Ghirardelli Double Chocolate Premium Hot Cocoa into a cup of coffee made from freshly ground beans, and add some half-and-half.

We are out of the magic ingredient.

I will drink my coffee tomorrow, but I will not savor it.

Big doings at the homestead

We have a big project underway: siding the house.

For most people, "siding the house" means installing vinyl siding to hide the painted clapboards that they no longer wish to paint. Most people move in to or buy a home that is finished. We, however, are owner-builders. That means that our home is not finished - yet.

For us, siding the house means covering the waferboard and plywood sheathing that we put up as a temporary siding when the two sections of the house were built in 1980 and 1988. It also means installing shingles on the solarium that we started adding to the home three years ago.

Owner-builders like us have a perpetual dilemma. We either have time to work on our homes, or we have the money needed to buy materials. We never seem to have both at the same time. This year the balance tips more towards money than towards time. We have been offered a killer rate by some local men who are looking for something to do, and who seem to do good quality work. We have therefore h…

May flowers

We didn't have that many April showers, but that has not held back the May flowers. May is a bit cool this year, and that is helping the flowers last. Just to hold on to spring a while longer, I took pictures of some of the Mother's fanciful creations.

My little nuclear family doesn't pay a lot of attention to Mother's Day, but some years ago I was surprised with a bleeding heart plant on the occasion. It was a big hit, and followed with a second plant the following year. Growing conditions for this particular plant must be just right where we live, because these plants put on a spectacular show next to our front steps each year.

Spring also brings violets, which are running amok in the little garden behind the house. The lilies of the valley that my mother gave me are also running amok. Both of these plants are a connection to my mother's Illinois roots, as they are direct descendants of plants that my mother brought from her mother's garden.

Spring in the northe…

Chillin' with the daughter, and news from Albany

This week started off right. Our firewood for next winter is cut, split, and stacked in the woodshed. We got done just as the black flies started getting vicious. Now we can bask in a virtuous glow, and turn our attention to other projects around the homestead.

The last couple of days have been quiet. Robert is in Albany, working on the economic development project, and Ana is home, so I have been making sure to get home at a reasonable hour, and hang out with her.

I have gotten quite a bit of knitting done. The two pairs of mittens, for Robert and me, are felted and ready to put away until next winter. They are gorgeous, soft brown and very thick and fuzzy. Mine are oversized, so that I can wear them over a pair of fleece gloves. I am hopeful that I now have handwear that will actually keep my hands warm on the most bitter days. I'm also happy that Robert has handwear that will be more effective when he plows and snowblows the driveway. Which he will again, even though that seems s…

First night of the concert season

Last night was the first performance of the 2008 Stringfolks' concert series. We performed at the DeKalb Meetinghouse Museum. This building was formerly a Methodist meetinghouse, and is perfectly designed for shape note singing, with wonderful acoustics and a square shape. It's hard to sound bad in a such a space.

I am playing flute on two dance reels and one Civil War song. I am also singing lead on three songs - quite a change for me. I think my voice is getting stronger, and that I am singing in head voice more and more.

The concert is a combination of songs covering settlement times through the current day, laid out chronologically and interspersed with historical tidbits tied to the town where the performance is. We are using several medleys to cram more material into the limit of the period of time people are willing to sit for a concert. We are a little long and need to do some pruning - a few folks left before we were finished.

I was in good voice and played the flute wel…

Back home, and once again feeling like part of the problem

I just had one of those great vacations where almost nothing happens.

I knit two pairs of mittens for felting. I think that knitting mittens is finally out of my system. It all started with me wanting a pair for myself to keep my hands warm, and I had to knot five pairs before I could knit one for myself. This weekend I will shrink wool, and I will be done with mittens for a while.

I stacked firewood. As usual, a few trees had come down on Dad and Joann's land, and we cut, split, and stacked the wood.

I wrote a case study for my grad course that was an exercise in tedium and make-believe. Perhaps my grade will reflect this attitude.

I went for long walks with Robert, and we worked out the issue that has been bothering us. My point off view did carry the day in the end.

I saw movies via my dad's digital projector. We saw The Illusionist, Network, In the Line of Duty, The Lady Vanishes, and Austin Powers International Man of Mystery. We capped the week by watching The 11th Hour. This…

On Vacay

I'm in Cape Cod, drinking coffee, eating oatmeal, and catching up after not being online for 24 hours. My husband and father are eating toast and discussing politics.

We'll be here for four full days. Hopefully we will cut up some firewood, to balance out the calories we will consume. There are plans for cheesecake to celebrate two birthdays and for a green curry featuring eggplant. Joann, Ana and I will go to Trader Joe's to load up on interesting groceries. Ana is already bewailing the dearth of quality and choices available in our local supermarket, after enjoying the riches of Montreal. I agree with her, Canadian food is better.

I also have a paper to write where I create an agency out of whole cloth and then develop performance goals for it. I had to read a speech given by our esteemed president in 2005 to figure out how to focus the work of this fictitious agency, which is supposed to be doing something worthwhile in the region affected by Hurricane Katrina. My focus …