Monthly Archives: June 2015

Fish Soup

There is no actual soup in this post, just fishes. All different fishes that came my way this week.

This image of Saint Ambrose made his way across my eyes….notice the


St. Ambrose from the Book of Hours of Catherine of Cleves, 1440

St. Ambrose from the Book of Hours of Catherine of Cleves, 1440 Love the fishy border! It would make a great necklace.

Other fishies in the sea of news…….

Jaws turns 40



Great White Sharks go swimming locally..

perhaps their parents were in the movie……

shark cc 2015 And then there’s Bach.

Johan Sebastian Bach.

Bach is back in the news.

Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach

His Crab Canon  is what’s in the news. Here’s a story on the Canon.

There are no actual Crabs in the Canon…it is music that can be played backwards as well as forwards and rather side to side ….” target=”_blank”>watch this video.

It’s also the Crabby time of year.

Astrologically,  we’re now in the sign of the Crab, June 22nd -July 22nd.

The name of this astrological sign goes back to a story with  Hercules while he was busy with those Twelve Labors…

This urn is in the Louvre.

This urn is in the Louvre. This does not look like a fun time for our friend Herc.

Cancer CrabSidney_Hall_-_Urania's_Mirror

from 1825 Urania’s Mirror by Sidney Hall

Some of my favorite people were born under this sign…..

Like a certain offspring…..

Three generations - he makes us look much shorter then we really are!

Three generations – he makes us look much shorter then we really are!

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Filed under Fish, Summer

bits and pieces

 apl-bite Finished reading The Book Lover’s Cookbook booklovers CBapl-biteI’ve long thought about cookbooks and recipe files to go with different books….part of the

you are what you eat – especially if you’re fiction


apl-biteErle  Stanley Gardner and Perry Mason…steak, Scotch and baked potatoes

ESG DA cooks

This might be a good place to start, even if no actual goose is involved.

Earl Stanley Gardnerbooks

There are over 80 volumes in the series, so it could take a while, reading them, collecting the references, looking up appropriate period recipes, testing them…..

apl-biteTotally random bit : Erle Stanley Gardner was born in Malden Massachusetts in 1889.

And he really was a lawyer, in California.

Erle is an odd ball enough spelling of his name to keep him as a crossword puzzle clue for generations.

apl-biteLaura ‘Half-Pint’ Ingalls Wilder from the Little House on the Prairie is mentioned .She already has a cookbook of her own.LittleHouseCookbook apl-biteAlmond macaroons – the Italian ones, made of almonds, (not French one O macaron  or the coconut ones, which are good) ….are a very good thing.


Easy Almond Macaroons by Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet on January 13, 2013

Almond macaroons are also known as  ‘squishy cookies’ (at least in my family) Here’s a link to a recipe or find a good Italian baker. apl-bite

Family party which include my mother and her cousins discussing the best sfogliatella…..


Sfoglitella – flaky pastry from southern Italy

Evidently the best  these days is  in San Diego or Naples….again, a treat you buy and don’t make at home. There are a number of videos on YouTube, but once you start calling them ‘Lobster Tails’ you’re already too far from the source to be taken too seriously. And none of them are being done by home cooks or Nonnas.

apl-biteWhat do Italians talk about when they sit at the table with food?

Other food.

Food we have had, food we remember, food we would like to make or eat or improve. Who made it, who else was there, who ate with us. Before there were foodies, there were Italians.

apl-biteI’ve also been watching Bluebloods. Almost every episode has at least one scene of the whole family, all four generations, seated around a totally enormous table.

Everyone gathered. Everyone talking. But this is an Irish family, not an Italian one.

Bluebloods, the Regan clan gathered round the dinner table

Bluebloods, the Regan clan gathered round the dinner table

What do the Irish talk about around the table? Politics. Work.

Not so much food, except to pass the dish or clear off at the end of the meal.Also pretty true.

And last but not least, a piece of Birthday Cake, for the family June birthdays.


A piece of cake

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Filed under Birthday, Books, Irish, Italian



Guess what’s trending on Twitter today?


That’s the Twitter world way of saying Father’s Day.

Who saw THAT coming?

One of the other trends is #dadswhocook.

I can not write that story. Mine was not a cooking Dad.

Mine was Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup straight from the can to the pan Dad.

Campbells ChicNoodle

That little golden seal mentions a Paris Exhibition – Campbell’s was gourmet? Soup IS good food – for thought.

The CONDENSED soup straight from the can to the pan without the water. Which he served to us without malice or understanding why we thought we were being poisoned.

And yet he knew from food.

He missed a calling as a critic.

Not critical, like,

“You call THESE mashed potatoes? Not lumps of library paste?”

But critical like Pete Wells of the New York Times critic of food

pete-wells-qsHe could analyze taste and texture and technique and make suggestions about how to change things around for next time, how to think with the end in mind, how to have opinions.

A trait that we his children all share. (Best Meal EVAH : October 19, 1986)

A trait that has been my bread and butter in more ways then one, and like blue eyes and curly hair, another way that this apple hasn’t fallen far from that tree.


apple tree with apples underneath

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Filed under Holiday, Influencers, Irish, Soup

Loose Ends

Loose tea ends, that is…..or rather, loose beginnings.

Tea in different grades of fermentation

Tea in different grades of fermentation. Admit it – you don’t think of tea as a fermented beverage much, do you?

After bag after bag after bag after tea bag…and then I bagged the bag.

Tea_bagsI loosened up. No strings attached.

In part because I had collected a few more tea pots and assorted other tea accessories

A Strainer, made of all natural bamboo thta after a few pots never looked quite clean, and finally got a little funky, and not in the good funky way.

A Strainer, made of all natural bamboo that after a few pots never looked quite clean, and finally got a little funky, and not in the good funky way.

Tea infuser - stainless cleans up much nicer then bamboo

Tea infuser – stainless cleans up much nicer then bamboo

The little Ducky was just too adorable, but his small size meant he was for a smallish cup

The little Ducky was just too adorable, bordering on the twee (Bordering On The Twee would be a great name for a fake rock and roll band, like Spinal Tap) but his small size meant he was for a smallish cup and not a pot.

……and because loose tea was becoming a thing on this side of the Pond. Seriously, 200 years after a certain nearby Tea Party in Boston,


This Tea Party – I think the nasty habit of not getting the water to a proper boil begins right about….NOW

Not to be confused with THIS Tea Party…. Tea Party Alice TennielLoose tea was available.

tea loose-English_Westminster

By the pound in the Health Food Store…or in very expensive little tins in the specialty food store. I bought them . I brewed them. I drank oceans of tea.

Then I went herbal.

Loose leaf chamomile tea

Loose leaf chamomile tea….helps you sleep

Mint - good for digestion and just plain tasty

Mint – good for digestion and just plain tasty

And the herbs were healthy and organic and pure ….and a little dull.

Time to spice it up.

Bengal SpiceLemon GingerBag again.


Time to put the kettle on, let’s all have tea! Tea cakes, tea biscuits, tea sandwiches – there are lots of good foods that go with tea.

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Filed under Perception ways

Habit of Being

There are some habits you don’t think twice about…actually, if it’s a habit, you might not even think ONCE about it, that being the whole habit meme.

Reading is a habit, one I developed pretty young. I was lucky to be surrounded by books and newspapers and magazine, and by encouragement and by example to make reading a daily practice.

But I also have an infinitesimally small,  low, little, tiny-teeny  threshold of boredom. And I’m highly distractable. Attention span of a gnat. So I have always, how shall I put this, read around.

Comics and Cookbooks

Archie, Betty and Veronica - even Reggie - evidently they're based on locals - who knew????

Archie, Betty and Veronica – even Reggie – evidently they’re based on locals – who knew???

I had this for a while - I'm now reading Monet's Palette Cookbook, yet another take

I had this for a while – I’m now reading Monet’s Palette Cookbook, yet another take on Monet’s beautiful yellow an blue Kitchen and all the people he shared his table with

Classics and TV Guide

Flannery O - Habit of being

Flannery O’Conner, whose self portrait is is the header. Talented, talented woman. “Total non-retention has kept my education from being a burden to me.” ― Flannery O’Connor, The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O’Connor

1972 - the year The Habit of being was released

1972 – the year The Habit of Being was released

habits buffett SO good habits are good to be chained to. I don’t think twice about brushing my teeth, for instance. Part of the habits is all the little habits that go before it. I have toothbrush and toothpaste and floss and rinse – and they all go on my shopping list when they get low, and they’re all together in the place where I use them.

My recent re-location has made ever so very mindful of habit – like  how I like my morning coffee, when I like to read – even how cooking is a habit. I have now twice purchased foodstuffs with the good and honest intention of cooking something up, with no memory or other clue what that might be……

I have no current habit of cooking in this kitchen. I have a former habit, of many years ago, when the room was a different color and I had a habit of time and place of picking things up and moving forward with them. I have a habit of cooking in another place, with other objects around me, other people around.

It’s not bad, it’s just different, and it requires thinking where formerly a half-thought, a nano-thought would have sufficed. It’s like going on vacation and not finding the paring knives until your last day in the house, so you spent all week cutting everything with a bread knife, having never realized how often you cut things with a paring knife, and how your grandmother seemed to never use another knife…..

My cookbooks are mostly packed up and in a storage unit, so I have to also pack up the habit of flipping through and thinking “Wasn’t there a Fennel Salad here somewhere….well, what’s this then? I have a yellow onion….”

The white board on the fridge ( another habit, write it where it can be easily seen)  is in another kitchen, so I have no timely reminders to “USE FENNEL FOR ________” or


Since I have now stale bread, I’m going to make some Bread Soup, which can be my lunch through the week.

Bread Soup

(Variations on Pappa col Pomadoro)

4-5 garlic cloves, minced (habit – I miss my garlic press)

Also – onion/celery/fennel/sage

2 T olive oil

Tomato (2 big juicy ones or4 canned, diced); 1 cup tomato sauce (I’ve got some canned and the whole thing is going in)

1 cup chicken broth (I’ve got an open box, so again – it all goes)

3 cups dried bread (I have 1 9oz loaf baguette)

¼ c chopped parsley (or the rest of the bunch in the fridge – finely chopped celery tops are also nice)

  1. My baguette was dried out before I cut it up, so I soaked it water to soften. Seriously, put it in a 9×13 pan and pour water on. I learned this with bread salads and it works for bread soup, too.
  2. 1 T oil around the soup pan, add the aromatics: garlic, I’ve also got some fennel and I like a little onion, so it’s a pretty full pan.
  3. Add the tomato, you want to get the juices out and take some of the raw off it.
  4. Take the bread out of the water and drain, breaking it into pieces and adding it to the veggies. The middle will be drier then the outer parts, it will still be soaking up the juices. You want a mix of piece sizes, creating different textures. This can be as thin or as thick as you like it.
  5. Serve with a little olive oil drizzled on top. I sometimes top with a little Romano cheese.

Adapted from Marlena Spieler From Pantry to Table 1991, Aris Books. pp.309-10.

This book helped me establish a pantry habit, so I always, and I do mean ALWAYS had something on hand to make into whatever meal we needed when my son was young. Thank you Marlena

This book helped me establish a pantry habit, so I always, and I do mean ALWAYS had something on hand to make into whatever meal we needed when my son was young. Thank you Marlena! XoX


Filed under Books

Cuppa, cuppa burning love

Long, long ago, when I was young and Mr Nixon was president,

RMNI started reading books.

Actually I started reading books – and newspapers and magazines and Sear and Roebucks catalogs and the backs of cereal boxes, much, much earlier, but I started reading books set in England and by English authors during the Nixon administration. For reasons I do not remember, I chose to narrow my reading to England for a year. Winnie-the-Pooh? Been there, read, that.

William Shakespeare? Working my way through.

Wm Shakes chandosWatching movie versions to help sort it all out.

I remember.

It was all about Shakespeare. Writing these words – the collected works of William Shakespeare, I remember.

But not just any ole Shakespeare….

Romeo and Juliet.

The Movie.This Movie.

Romeo and Juleit Zeffer

THIS is why I wanted to read ALL of Shakespeare. Sexy. sexy Shakespeare.

Which led to a major Agatha Christie Read-a-thon. Not the non-sequester this seems.The Library had scads of them. It put me in England.  I tried to read them in the order in which they were written – or just the way they were on the shelves.

Dame Agatha Christie

Dame Agatha Christie

All the detectives…..I would eventually re-read many of them by character series.

Hercule PoirotTommy and TuppenceHarley Quinn

Miss Marpleand so on and so forth…..

and then there was Thomas Hardy



Far from the Maddening Crowd – the 1968 movie

The movie gave me a visual….each time I read Hardy I still make new discoveries. I loved the flow of the words, the poetry  – there’s no way I understood HALF of what he was writing about when I first read him.

Jane Austen….

Jane Austin

Jane Austen

I started with Emma.

3panel book reviewMy Great Aunt Eileen had given me three volumes of Jane Austen when I was nine – before cookbooks, she gave me Austen so  the books would be waiting for me to be ready for them. I had forgotten them.

They had become part of the backdrop, three red covered hardbound volumes. Until  my then brand new best friend came into school with a paperback book:

Emma Jane Austen.

Emma Jane Austen? Who’s that? I asked.

Oh – Emma by Jane Austen.

Well, yeah, I’ve heard of Jane Austen (quick brain scan, can’t remember a thing – wait!  She’s English. Fits in with my read only English authors plan for the year. Where exactly did I leave that book?)

And while I read, I drank tea.

Tea made the books more English.

Tea made me more English.

Proper tea is made in a teapot, so I wanted a tea pot.

I got one at a yard sale and it was a beauty.

I'm a little teapot...

I’m a little teapot…

Little, orange, luster-ware. It was like a little bit of sunshine on the morning table.

Considering that much of the coffee I was drinking at this period was Freeze-dried…..hey, it was the ’70’s!

sanka 1970's

He played a doctor on TV, and he sold coffee, too. Robert Young.

Back to  tea. Pots and pots of tea. Hot tea, never iced or sweet. Pots and pots of hot tea poured into cup after cup.

That’s Salada Tea

Salada_PackShot691-164639and also Red Rose and Lipton.


Lots and lots of Constant Comment. Perhaps the signature tea. Thank you, Judith!

Earl Grey. English Breakfast. All day long.

Drank tea while I read. And I read every day.

Sharing pots of tea as part of the conversations of the books, the characters, the plots, the places, the movies.

Often in a China cup, also purchased at yard sales and received and given as gifts, often given as gifts between those of us reading the books and discussing them. A proper cuppa. Book love = Tea love. tea cup lady carlyleThe kettle was always on. The pot was always warmed.The good China was out, singular and mismatched as it was.

Tea was served. Sometimes with milk, sometimes with lemon, sometimes with something a little sweet, sometimes with friends, sometimes with family.

The Rule of Three was established in the ancestral home – you always put the kettle on with enough for yourself and two others, even if you were alone. Someone could come in! Be prepared!

It’s June. Strawberry season. Time to read Emma again.

But first, put on the kettle.



Filed under Influencers, Perception ways, Summer, The 1970's

Whey Back Wednesday

Little Miss Muffet

Sat on a tuffet

Eating her curds and whey

Along came a spider

And sat down beside her

And frightened Miss Muffet away.

Making curds and whey at work, so the nursery rhyme is in the air.

Pretty remarkable the number of children who don’t know it.

“Little Miss Muffet Sat on her tuffet, eating her….


or if I helped them

‘…eating her curds and…’


Little_Miss_Muffet_2_-_WW_Denslow_-_Project_Gutenberg_etext_18546So it seems that Miss Muffet is slipping out of the vernacular…..anyhow…

Curds and whey is pretty easy to make (are pretty easy to make? You can’t make one without the other….Is this a singular or a plural? Time to call the Grammar Police!) Grammar Police badge

To make curds and the resulting whey : take milk, add rennet (it’s an enzyme) and the milk becomes solid – that’s the curds – and liquid – that’s the whey…..Curds are the first step of making cheese. Many cheeses are pressed curds


Cottage Cheese/ Curds and Milk – different names/same thing.

Cottage cheese is unpressed curds and milk..See – you’ve been snacking on curds like a tuffetless Miss Muffet all along!

Whey is also pretty common in the 21st century – as a powder. Dehydrate the liquid and Voila!


Whey powder – an important component of a smoothies and power shakes and protein bars

Whey powder is also in Greek-style yoghurt.

Not in the Greek yoghurt, per se…..


I went to buy some Greek yoghurt this week, to lunch with my granola. I reached for my familiar brand, and right next to it


I bought the brand on sale. I read the BIG print, not the fine print….shame on me.

Here’s what was in it:

Pasteurized milk, skim milk, whey protein concentrate, milk protein concentrate, live active yogurt cultures (Acidophilus, Bifidus, L. bulgaricus and S. thermophilus), Vitamins A,C,D,E.

And the taste? Chalky/gritty/ not nice.

Note to self – ALWAYS read the WHOLE label, even in a jiffy grocery run.

Then there’s true ricotta – that’s ‘re-cooked’ in Italian, made from re-heated whey and buttermilk,  which makes it the same thing as Gervase Markham’s  1617 “Whey Curds”.

Ricotta insaluta

Ricotta salata


Happy Medieval cheese-makers – that basket cheese in the middle looks an awful lot like a modern ricotta basket…and that’s one handsome dog, too

Another version of the same scene

Another version of the same scene

Curds in Irish literature

The Vision of Mac Conglinne (14th century, Irish)

Stately, pleasantly it sat,
A compact house and strong.
Then I went in:
The door of it was dry meat,
The threshold was bare bread,
cheese-curds the sides.

Smooth pillars of old cheese,
And sappy bacon props
Alternate ranged;
Fine beams of mellow cream,
White rafters – real curds,
Kept up the house.

It’s not just the food, it’s the wheys


Filed under Irish, Italian


A card hand…

Full-HouseA TV series

Full_House_1987_TV_series_logoWhich leads to a house Full….


The complete TV series in a box shaped like a house

"The category if "Ful"...", says Alex

“The category is ‘Ful’ “, says Alex.



greenway sculpture

String Sculpture over the Rose Kennedy Greenway


Giovanni Battista Ruoppolo - Still Life of Fish with Char, Bass, Rockfish, Sea Bream and shells  - 17th century

Giovanni Battista Ruoppolo – Still Life of Fish with Char, Bass, Rockfish, Sea Bream and Shells – 17th century – the painter is from Naples and was born in 1629.





Right Whales right of the coast here - and 17 new baby whales!

Right Whales right off the coast here in May – and 17 new baby whales!


It feels like Winter is SOOOOOO (finally) OVAH - time for some Peaceful Meadows!

It feels like Winter is SOOOOOO (finally) OVAH – time for some Peaceful Meadows!


SOOOO – If you have a bag of lemons, and you forget what inspired you to take them home in the first place

AND someone at work leaves a copy of Good Housekeeping on the table….

AND there’s a recipe for Spaghetti with Lemon Ricotta – that’s a sign, right?

Good House Keeping USA 2015-03_

AND I can organize my life….right

Basic spaghetti with ricotta sauce, nice lemon grated peel here… : spaghettini-lemon-ricotta-recipe

Now – I didn’t make my own ricotta, (and I would argue that what they have you make isn’t actually ricotta, although it sounds plenty GOOD) so I added a little extra lemon peel, and I juiced those yellow orbs because I’m supposed to use the peels and throw the fruit away????

I think NOT.



Use the whole lemon – the rind can be dried; the juice can be frozen; the seeds can be planted….

It  was quick and easy, it was fine, it was OK. It was also a little….dull.


Downright pedestrian.


Indifferent Housekeeping.

Then there were the LEFTOVERS.

Some things are fine just re-heated or even served cold as part of lunch the next day, some things need a little more…

For me leftover bascetti usually means



Bascetti, a/k/a ‘spaghetti’

To make leftovers into lunch or another night’s supper:

  • Shop the pantry and fridge for flavor enhancers. I had a red pepper,and a green pepper that I cut up and tossed in a pan with some olive oil, a nice generous amount of olive oil. An onion chopped fine and a clove or two of garlic are not amiss here either. Celery would also work or in a different direction, mushrooms. Choices, you got choices. If you see things in your mind’s eye, do you taste things in your mind’s mouth? Ponder as you scope and chop.
  • The little grapes tomatoes (that were pretty large for grape tomatoes) and not entirely tomato-ish on their own were halved and added in towards the end, to release the juices and the flavor.
  • Beat half a dozen eggs with salt, pepper and grated Romano cheese.
  • Toss the leftover spaghetti with the eggs. I had a little more ricotta and added more lemon peel at this point. Basil would have been nice – or a handful of chopped parsley would have been a different green element way to go.
  • When the pepper mixture cools a bit, toss that in and around too.
  • How does it smell ? Adjust until it smells good.
  • Put more olive oil in the pan and heat it on medium for a minute…add the mixture, flatten it around, and give it a shake to settle it all to the bottom.
  • Let it fry up for two minutes without disturbing – then shake and shimmy the pan so that the uncooked egg puddles get closer to the heat.
  • Poke at the edges towards the center with a spatula so that it doesn’t stick.This makes so much more sense at the stove then it seems here on the page.There is a whole lotta cooking that’s learned by looking.

    Choose your poking/turning weapon of choice

    Choose your poking/turning spatula  weapon of choice

  • Turn the heat to low, put a lid on it, and leave it alone for a while. Go set the table,humming Italian songs along with Lou Monte on the CD player.


Lou Monte

So many songs in the language between Italian and English. If only I could write in that language!


Frittata wiki

Frittata can be served warm or cold or even in a sangwich.


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Filed under Eating, Italian, Lunch, Supper

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day comes twice in the ancestral home – once in May, just like for everyone else,

Ma day

Although she signs her cards ‘Mom’ – we tend to call her ‘Ma’ – “Ma, Ma, Ma,” she said once, “What am I raising – children or sheep?”

and then again on the first of June.

That’s because the first of June is the anniversary of the maternal birth – that’s right –

Ma’s Birthday

Irma - my friend

My Friend Irma is not the same Irma…

Erma Bombeck - also not the same Irma

Erma Bombeck – also not the same Irma

She's the second from the left, reading to give a hand....this was from last Veteran's Day

Here’s Irma! She’s the second from the right, ready to give a hand….this was from  Veteran’s Day last year.

Time to sing "Happy Birthday" - and take a deep breath to blow out those candles!

Time to sing “Happy Birthday” – and take a deep breath to blow out those candles!

Irma B day

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Filed under Birthday, Influencers, Italian, squash, Summer