Monday, December 01, 2008

My New Muse

Yes.  It's the Virgen de Guadalupe.   She is the "perfect model of wife and mother" according to the back of my $2.99 candle that I picked up at Kroger yesterday.  My candle has a slightly jazzier Virgen (yes, that is how it is spelled on the candle) and I just love it.  I am burning it every day on my desk while I write.  

And, yes.  I do think that she will work for me even though I am not a believer in the traditional stuff of Christianity.  She is just so cool in her crazy print cape and dress and fabulously fashionable crown.  I love her.

I would post some other news but I have to get together a little portfolio of my writing so that I can submit it to an English prof at IU.  I am trying to get into a course without pre-requisites and have to submit some writing.  Wish me luck.  Oh, that's right. I probably won't need luck now that I have my Virgen of Guadalupe on my desk.  She rocks.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

BloomingtonGirl is a Daughter of the American Revolution...Or is she?

Jack's class is doing some kind of "We are all Pilgrims" stuff for Thanksgiving and as a part of that, we had to send him to school with information on his ancestry.  In Jack's words, "I need facts for my research."  I called my parents to get some of those facts.  My mother is a first generation American, her parents having come over from Austria in 1914.  But, my dad's family has been here forever.  While we were going over the family tree, he mentioned that his mother was a Daughter of the American Revolution and that his paternal grandmother was as well.   I laughed and said that I was going to look into joining, since I clearly met the qualifications for membership - female, over 18 years old who could prove lineage back to someone who fought in the Revolutionary War.  I wasn't entirely serious.  I don't even know what they are really about.  I just thought it sounded cool.

I happened to call my parents today and my dad started in on the subject of the D.A.R.  He said that he called the local chapter to see if my being adopted disqualified me for membership.  (WHAT?) The woman said that she would bring the topic up at some "big meeting" coming up on December 9th.  

I didn't say it to him, but I was completely baffled by my dad's actions.  Why on Earth would he call the D.A.R. and queer my chances for membership?  Let's just say I was serious about joining and this inquiry revealed that I wasn't eligible because my dad spilled the beans about my true bloodline.  Surely my dad cannot be more concerned about the purity of the blood in the D.A.R. than about the emotional well being and patriotic ambitions of his favorite daughter?  (Okay, I am probably not his favorite but I am at least second or third, since there are only three of us.)  What an odd and funny thing to do and, if I have to say, so very him to do something like that.   

I gently pointed out to him that there probably wasn't a need for him to call seeing as that my birth certificate has my adopted name on it and nobody would be the wiser since there is no indication on it that it is not the original one, which reveals my "real" name - gasp!- of Margaret Anne Pierce.   Then,  I thanked him for checking into it.  I am a good D. O. R., after all.  (Daughter of Richard).  Or for accuracy, should I say D.A.B.R.?  (Daughter Adopted By Richard)

Well, stay tuned for news on my D.A.R. saga.  It will actually be interesting if they reject me on the basis of my actual birth rather than my upbringing.  

Off to see a rehearsal of my play!!!!!  


Sunday, November 02, 2008

Staples, Duct Tape & Fabric Tape & Big News For BloomingtonGirl

Jack asked me if I could make a Haunter Costume for him for Halloween.  Haunter is a Pokemon.  I waited until the very last minute, of course.  So, on Friday, I went to Bed Bath and Beyond, where fortunately, they had lavender sheet sets on sale for $9.99.  I bought a set and went home to work my magic.  Since I don't sew - shocking, I know, Loyal Readers, considering how homemak-ey I can be - I used staples and duct tape.  Staples to "sew" the pieces together and duct tape to protect my little guy's head from getting stabbed by the staples.  I stuffed the points on either side of the face with scrap material and then duct taped the stuffing into each point.  It wasn't a study in good craftsmanship but it lasted for trick-or-treating and that was my goal.  Plus, when Jack saw it he exclaimed, "You're Amazing!"  It made my entire week.  Keep in mind that lately, Jack just works on me and tells me everything I do wrong, so that was a nice moment.  

Trick-or-Treating was perfect.   Just the right amount of time and Jack didn't fight me on going home.  He didn't get a complete overload of candy and besides, about half of it isn't safe for him to eat anyway.  We take the unsafe stuff and leave it out for the Great Pumpkin who comes and delivers a toy in exchange for the nut containing treats.  Unfortunately, though, said Pumpkin was clueless this year and brought Jack something that he already had.  He was, needless to say, a bit crushed.  He is starting to suspect that we are Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy & the Great Pumpkin.  There are a couple friends of his whispering in his ear about this.  I want to slap them, if I must be honest.  I am not ready for Jack to KNOW.  

I sometimes feel really silly keeping these stupid myths/lies going with him.  We always, after all, tell him the truth as we see it about other things.  But, I just want him to have Santa as long as possible.  There is time enough to be all grown up.

In other (BIG) news, your BloomingtonGirl is going to become a produced playwright!!!! The Bloomington Playwright's Project (BPP) is going to produce my play entitled 100% Distracted as part of their annual Sex/Death Showcase in December.  There will be ten short plays produced and mine will be one!!!! I am over the moon about this.  It is really thrilling to think that something I made up and wrote down will be acted out on stage for real.  The show runs Dec 9-13 and 15-17.  Performances are at 10PM.  It is part of the BPP's Dark Alley Series of Shows that is put on late at night for grown ups.   I would say "mature audiences" but that sounds so, well, PORN.  And, even though my play is a bit racy, it isn't that.  

Well, I am off to do some homework for my play writing class and then off to bed an hour earlier than usual.  I LOVE the Fall Back Day!!!






Saturday, November 01, 2008

A Sweet Moment

Jack and I in Central Park last weekend.  He skated with his sister KK and  her wonderful friend Jose.  I love this picture and wanted to share it with my Loyal Readers.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Wallets and Understanding My Father

My paternal grandmother - rest her soul - hoarded wallets. When she died, she left behind a remarkably large number of new, never used wallets, many still with tags on. There were billfolds in all colors, and change purses galore. Some were in okay condition, but most of them were sort of musty and crackly dry from being stored in an place that had no air conditioning for years and years and years. My theory is that she bought them, put them away and then forgot she had bought them. Her daily all day drink of choice, after all, was Vodka and Tang.

After my grandmother died, my dad took each and every wallet and put it in a box in our house. He was a child of the depression and could not abide waste of any kind. For years afterward - and I mean years - every time my mother or one of my two sisters or I would even mention getting a new wallet, my dad would drag out the box of musty wallets dating back to the 1940's, 50's, 60's and 70's and try to force them upon us. We were not allowed to purchase any new wallets - at least not with my dad being aware of it. It got to be kind of a joke between my sisters and me over the years. I really thought my dad was being unreasonable. Those wallets were old, dried up and not very functional. New with tags or not...they were way past prime. Or, at least that was how I saw it. Looking back, I allow that there were probably many that were okay and functional.

The other day, when the markets were tumbling down, down, down, and Chris and I had been having talks about the possible depression that might occur, I was in the basement looking for something. While rummaging, I came across several wallets in perfectly fine condition in one of my daughter's boxes. I won't mention her name in order to protect Katelyn.

Immediately, I began to channel my dad. What were these perfectly fine wallets doing in this box rotting away in the basement? Why weren't they being used? I became indignant remembering my recent trip to NY during which Kate mentioned that she wanted to buy a nice new wallet. A new wallet?!!! When there were a few perfectly good ones right here for free? Shameful.

Those thoughts flashed through my mind without one thought of my dad. Then, a moment later, I remembered his wallet mania and I began to laugh. It was the very first time I understood his frugality on more than a mental level. I really got it. Faced with the possibility that the bottom could drop out of our financial system, I started to think about everything differently and the wallets were the symbol of all of it. Today, I don't think that the bottom will drop out, but I allow that it might happen. Nothing is certain and I don't think anyone can agree on how bad it will get before it gets better. I tend to be an optimist and I'm just going to keep my fingers crossed.

And, I'll send Kate those wallets.

Monday, October 13, 2008

How Cute is This!

Loyal Readers, my husband spent many hours last week scanning in old photos for a slide show that will be shown at Katelyn's wedding party at the end of the month. Katie and her husband eloped but they are having a little shindig in Manhattan to celebrate the event. This picture is of Kate (left) and Meg a million years ago. I did not know them yet when this photo was taken. I met them when Kate 10 and Meg was 9.  An entire lifetime ago.


I was looking through the slide show and I was bowled over a couple of things. First, by how time flies. Second, by how weirdly painful it is to look at old pictures of kids that you love -- your own kid or any kid you have loved. When you see photos of them, it's like the little person in the photo is gone.   For instance, when I see the three-year old Jack, I get a little heartache for him.  Even though I see the eight-year old Jack every day and love him an infinite amount, I miss the three-year old, four-year old, five year-old and six year-old Jack.  Why not the seven year-old Jack?  Because seven was a, well...let's just say seven was challenging for this mother.  

In the past, I've asked my own mother to recall certain things about my early years.   I used to be surprised at what she couldn't remember.  I thought,  how could you not remember every single thing about your kid?   That was before I had kids of my own.  Now, I get it.  The childhood of your kids goes by so fast and you are so immersed in it that it is almost impossible to keep it, to hold it close in memory.  It's sad, but there is a nice aspect of it;  you tend to forget the hard stuff much more than the good.  That's been my experience, anyway.

After I married Chris, one of the girls  -- I won't mention her name in case it is Meg-- gave me a big run for my money.  The other one had given me that run right before I married her dad.   I  was prompted by my initially rocky experience as a step-mother to call my own mother and tell her how sorry I was that I had given her a hard time when I was a kid and how I was especially sorry that I ever talked back to her.   (Loyal readers, I really was awful to my mother growing up.  I am not exaggerating.  I was very mouthy and defiant.  I know, it's hard to believe that about the shrinking violet that is your BloomingtonGirl, but you're going to have to trust me on this.)

Do you know what my mother said to me with completely sincerity?  "Oh Joni!  You never gave me any trouble."   At the time, I thought she was just being nice.  But, as time has passed, I understand from my own experience that you honestly forget the tough times with your kids.  Okay , maybe you don't forget them completely,  but time really softens them in a BIG way.

When I look back on those first few years after Kate and Meg's mom passed away and Jack was born (those two events within two months of each other), I remember how much we laughed and I remember the feeling of a happy home.  I think that the girls remember it that way, too.  

I know though, that time was enormously difficult for all of us.   Chris, Kate, Meg and I have sometimes remarked how we can't believe that each of us came through it all not only intact, but thriving.  But, whenever we talk about that time, we remember it happily and with great humor.   

It's a blessing, this softening of memory.  Sort of like good lighting for your life.

Below are some of those well lit moments.  (That's Kate's now husband Phil in the pumpkin patch, by the way...).  The last photo of Kate and me might be one of my favorites of all time.  We were at an event connected with her high school graduation and the picture was taken while someone  - I cannot for the life of me remember who - was saying something completely ridiculous to us - and I cannot remember what.  Kate and I were doing everything we could not to burst out laughing at this person and the camera catches that wonderfully.  We both remember the moment but none of the specifics.   

Off to bed to read and think about my next play.  



 



Thursday, October 09, 2008

Yes, I'm Still Alive

I have heard some rumbling lately from Loyal Readers about the absence of posts on this very site. For the three of you who are still checking my blog....here it is! A brief post from a BloomingtonGirl who has had the best of days and the worst of days all in this very day.

First, the best thing. I finally completed a play! Yippee! Hooray! Granted, it was an assignment for a class at IU that I am taking, but still, I feel pretty good about it. It is a ten minute play (maybe less) called "The One". I got to have mine read in class today by some other students who played the various parts and it was really gratifying to hear it. More gratifying than that was that it resonated with the 20-year old kids. I didn't expect it to. I was so happy about having finished a play that I felt like I was walking on air the rest of the afternoon.

Then, things went terribly south in my day for no single reason. The tipping point was when I dropped a Pyrex measuring cup in the sink and it shattered all over and I mean ALL OVER the place. It was the second one I've broken in about a week. I hate when that happens. I pathetically began to cry about all the things that have been bugging me for weeks, months, maybe my whole life. Who the hell can tell, really? Nothing in particular, every thing in general. My poor husband was completely baffled. I would have been baffled myself but I was putting all my energy into a world class cry so I had nothing left for self reflection. It's probably for the best. Self reflection may be flawed by an inherent conflict of interest anyway. Think about it.

In other news, Jack is acing his times tables tests in school and I find myself wanting to ask him what everyone else in his class is getting on the little tests they have to take. It is amusing to see this petty little competitive parent side of me pop up from time to time. I mean, really. Like it matters what other eight year-olds are getting on the tests. I'd love to say that I am not one of "those" parents, but isn't every one of us deep down, one of "those" parents?

In other, other news, my husband's garden continues to yield a bounty of peppers, sweet and hot. I have eaten more peppers in the last month than in all of my 46 years on this planet. We read that a chemical in hot peppers releases endorphins in your brain much as a long run does. If that's the truth, I should be elated.

Off to bed to read and count my blessings. They're like sheep, only better.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Untitled

...is the name of the new ten minute play I am attempting to write. More on that one later.

Your BloomingtonGirl went swimming at the IU Outdoor Pool at noon in the pouring down rain. It was so incredibly GREAT! The rain was cold and the pool was not quite as cold. It was bracing and invigorating. I LOVE the outdoor pool and will be so sad when post season swim is over at the end of the month.

In other news, Jack had his first session of tennis class tonight. It is a two hour group lesson in which they rotate to different places in the IU Tennis Center and have different skills taught by a variety of instructors. It is lively and fun. He fought me tooth and nail about it but I made him go. I think he even enjoyed himself, though not as much as someone who doesn't mind working up a sweat would. He really does hate to exert himself. I hope that changes for his sake.

In other other news, I am getting ready for company next week. We are having a little family get together to celebrate Kate and Phil's nuptials. I think that I will serve lots of pepper dishes. Stuffed peppers, pepper casserole, grilled stuff with hot pepper jelly sauce...you get the idea. Maybe by the end of the week, I'll be out of peppers. What a cryin' shame that will be.

Off to watch the Daily Show and climb into bed with the object of my passion these days...my laptop with my play writing program.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

BloomingtonGirl Stands Corrected

Sarah Palin has indeed been out of the country to visit AK national guardsmen in Kuwait and Germany has refueled in Ireland.

I stand corrected but this in no way alters my views.

Enough said (again) about Sarah. She might be poised to ruin many peoples lives, but why let her ruin my day, right?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Jack on Heaven and Other Things


Jack's Vision of Heaven.

The other day, Jack was talking about Heaven.

I said, "So, you believe in Heaven, eh?"

And he said, "Of course. It is where you go when you die."

I said, "Will you be Jack McGary walking around there?"

He said, "Well, no. But my spirit will be there."

He paused a moment and reflected. Then he said wistfully, "I hope I can still fart in Heaven."

There you have it. The priorities of an eight year old boy. I believe that passing gas might just be one of his greatest joys.

Other Things:

I know my Loyal Readers have expected a spate of venom to be issued forth from the ranting pen of your BloomingtonGirl about a certain event that I can characterize as the worst of all US sponsored disasters to befall this world since we invaded Iraq. You will not be surprised to know that I am having none of this absurd nonsense dressed up as appropriate politics as usual. But, I won't be writing about it at this point because I truly do not have anything to add to the already brilliant material that is surfacing all over the news and Internet. I feel it necessary, however, to provide a link to the most disturbing of all of the material (besides the simple and deeply true commentary that no matter what this person's views, she is entirely ill equipped to run this country at this point in her career. I don't believe the woman has ever left the country - well, maybe she has been to Canada.) I thank my friend Dotty for bringing this to my attention.

The Third Wave

Why is it that the main stream so called liberal media ignores this when they were all too happy to pile on Obama for his association with a minister who was out of step (okay, in a big way at the end) with reasonable blacks and whites is a tribute to the skill of the RNC. They are amazing. If I ever had to spin something, I would hire them right away.

I will add that if you find the whole thing as disturbing as I do, there are just three things to do.

1. Write a check to the Obama/Biden campaign.
2. Vote for Obama in November and urge everyone you know to do the same.
3. Watch the clips from the Daily Show on the RNC. They are so hilarious that they really do ease the pain of it all.

Here is one that just sums up all the double talk and cracks me up:

The Sarah Palin Gender Card



Enough said about Sarah.

In other news, I have been keeping very busy taking piano lessons and practicing quite a bit. It is very humbling to work so hard at something and not get all that much better. I am also taking a Playwriting course at IU for credit. More on that later. I am off to watch The Daily Show.

Friday, August 29, 2008

April Fools Day

Yesterday must have been April Fools Day because there cannot be another explanation for the entirely absurd and ridiculous event that dominated our national headlines.  I love what Gail Collins has to say about it.  I'll put in my two cents when I have a little more time to write about it.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Odds & Ends

Loyal Ones, I have a few minutes -probably a very few, unfortunately - to write a brief post to this neglected space. The first two pictures hint at the story of my recent life. Harvest, harvest and more harvest. The third picture is of a tiny spider web in our back yard with a little red spider in the middle. There are hundreds of these webs visible in the mornings, lit by the sun on dew. Gorgeous and amazing. And, I'm not even a nature girl. Believe me.

Jack started second grade so I have even more time on my hands to process vegetables. What I have come to realize is that I don't even like vegetables all that much. I mean, I like them if someone else is fixing them. For instance, if I were making a dinner for myself of steak or chicken, I wouldn't bother making a vegetable other than a salad and even that is iffy. If I am serving a pasta type entree for a dinner party, I never think of doing a separate vegetable besides a salad. But, my husband for some reason MUST have a vegetable at each meal (even veggie juice with breakfast) so I always prepare one. I know it is healthy, but I am just coming clean. I never miss them when they aren't there. And look! Here they are all around me.

Last night, I made basil ice cubes with extra basil from our garden. I chopped up the fresh leaves and put a generous tablespoon into each section of an ice cube tray. I covered the leaves with water and froze. This morning, I put the cubes into a freezer bag for use in recipes over the winter. I am a genius. Well, whoever suggested this process on the web is a genius. Tomorrow, I am making some hot red pepper jelly. The picture here should make it obvious why.

I am off to clean up my road bike and put some air in the tires so that I can ride it this week after over a year break from riding. If I don't ride today, I will go to the pool. In any event, I am hoping to get out of the house before Chris and Jack come home from playing tennis. Chris willingly, Jack practically at gun point. My guess is that they won't be gone long and at least one of them will come back complaining about the cruel conditions they've been subjected to.



Thursday, August 07, 2008

Couldn't Resist


This might be my favorite bumper sticker ever. Made me laugh out loud. I don't even know why it strikes me as so funny, because I don't feel strongly about either position. It's just funny.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

In Case Anyone is Wondering


Why I haven't posted or called or written or anything....

I am up to my neck in peppers. Chris brought this basket in from the garden yesterday. Jack said, "Mommy, aren't you a little annoyed with Daddy's garden yet?"

The answer is, well, YES.

These are banana peppers and mariachi peppers. How many of these can one family eat? They were picked a bit prematurely so we are ripening them in bags with tomatoes, a good source of ethylene, a chemical that hastens ripening in peppers. Thank goodness for my husband I am a Food Scientist.

Speaking of Food Science, I embraced The Dairy Queen within this week and made two types of homemade cheese and homemade peach ice cream. The first cheese was ricotta - a cinch to make. Cooking Light has a very easy recipe here. The cheese was really good, by the way. I was left, however, with over a gallon of whey. I went to my oracle to ask what to do with the whey and found a recipe for Norwegian Gjotest Cheese. Pretty much all I had to do to make this unusual cheese was to slowly simmer the whey for a long time - about 5 hours- in an open pot and then scrape it into a greased pan.

It wasn't much effort. That's a good thing because if it had been, I would be pretty disappointed in the results. I think that the cheese came out as it was supposed to, but this isn't a cheese I would ever want to eat twice. It is, if this is even possible, extremely tangy, extremely salty and extremely sweet all at once. And, I mean EXTREMELY. It looks like a piece of caramel fudge. Very odd indeed.

I'll be finding another use for my ricotta whey, folks.

Off to swim with my little guy. One week until school starts and I become a grown up person again.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Peter Piper

This is only the beginning of my husband's pepper harvest, Loyal Ones. I fear that you may never see your BloomingtonGirl again in person. Alas, she may never get out of her kitchen with so many peppers to preserve.

What was he thinking? That there would be a shortage of sweet bell peppers this summer? That peppers would suddenly become our family's staple food?

But look at him, the dear man. He is so proud of his bounty. In addition to the peppers, I was presented with a bucket of fresh basil this morning, which I made into a base for pesto that is now in our freezer. Also, there is a large pot of jalapeno peppers awaiting some kind of processing as well. Oh, and did I mention the ten or fifteen acorn squashes and the twenty butternut squashes that are lying around, silently demanding my attention?

If anyone out there wants to get my husband back into a regular golf game or perhaps an every-weekend hiking trip to ease him out of the garden mania and in the process help me out of the kitchen, contact me, okay?

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Truth

Loyal Readers, the above graphic is of a bumper sticker that I've seen a couple of times here. It is one of many many Christian bumper stickers that adorn a large number of vehicles in this area of the country.

For the record, I have no objection to religious bumper stickers. I enjoy them quite a bit. I do notice that the vast majority of them, perhaps all of them, are Christian in nature. Come to think of it, I have yet to see a catchy little phrase marketing a particular car owner's Jewish or Muslim beliefs.

Back to the sticker.

"Orthodoxy. Proclaiming The Truth Since A.D. 33. "

Two things bother me about this sticker.

One. The arrogance of "The Truth". I just love when people think that they know "The Truth" about anything that concerns things larger than ourselves. As if a normal human brain - especially one which compels one to slap a bumper sticker on one's car publicizing one's most important core beliefs - can be large enough to KNOW the so called Truth. I, for one, hope that "The Truth" is a little larger than what my little brain can fathom.

Two: The bumper sticker proclaiming to "Proclaim The Truth" does not, in fact, "Proclaim The Truth".

The so called orthodox gospels as we know them- the ones that the Orthodox Church follows - emerged in their present form long after A.D. 33. It was not until the end of the second century when they began to resemble what we know today. In addition, there were many other gospels in existence (Thomas & Philip, for example) that were in competition with those that eventually became anointed FOUR. (Mathew, Mark, Luke & John...even I, an atheist can remember what they are in part because they were the names of the four hunky Carswell brothers I went to high school with, but I digress.)

If we are going to be "Proclaiming The Truth", we ought to get our facts right, oughtn't we?

I was prompted to go to a website sponsored by the Orthodox Church and was amused to see that the first topic that it dealt with under the Frequently Asked Questions section was circumcision. Would someone please tell me why lopping off excess skin on a penis has anything to do with one's spiritual life? I don't have strong feelings about circumcision, for the record. Oh, yes, the Orthodox Church didn't object to circumcision for hygienic reasons but didn't think that Christians were obligated to follow the old testament rules on this procedure. Another main topic on the site was the explanation of fasting seasons and days. Hmm.

Anyway, if you are interested in reading more about the topic of the gospels, there are some wonderful books by Elaine Pagels, a professor at Princeton, who is, I believe, a Christian. I love to read about historical Christianity. It may surprise you, Loyal Ones, but it used to be one of my favorite topics. That one man could walk the Earth over 2000 years ago for less than four decades and get but three mentions (three small mentions) by the historian of the times (Josephus) and yet completely change the belief systems of the entire world is fascinating to me.

But, whether he was "The Son of God" or simply a man who was enlightened beyond our normal human experience, I think that he would be mortified at some of the hateful things that have been done in his name.

I think also that if Jesus could have seen the future, he would have hired a good agent and publicist to ensure that his message was delivered with some class and taste. There are some horrific examples out there of the opposite. To wit:


Jesus felt my pain? How does this driver know?




Must we cheapen one of the most influential spiritual leaders man has known with Racing Flags?










Sounds like a Yippee! thing to me. He suffered, but the hell with him, what's in it for me? Where's the tact, people? Yes, perhaps we should be happy about this, but it is a little insensitive to proclaim it in this fashion, if you ask me. (And, of course you do.)




LOVE this one. As if people cannot help but murder one another if the bible isn't taught in our schools. Puhlease.






In closing this post, I offer one of my favorite bumper stickers of all time. I think it says it all and that Jesus's marketing guys would have gotten his enthusiastic approval on it. It really does point out how misguided the God on Our Side stuff is.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

The Happy Couple

Dear Loyal Readers, I bring tidings of great joy.  Our daughter Katelyn and Philip Shipper, her long time boyfriend and fiance of two weeks, eloped a couple of weekends ago in that wonder of all cities, Las Vegas.

Here they are looking stunning and happy.

More later on this big news.

Join me, Loyal Readers, in wishing them a Happy Ever After.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Is it just me...

...or has Lance Armstrong become totally annoying? The photo here is old news, taken ages ago - last December. Now, he is linked romantically to Kate Hudson. The last good thing that happened to him was whatshername, the singer...the one he was engaged to. Lucky for her they broke it off.

Grow up, Lance. You have kids for goodness sake.

And, now he's hawking some bogus energy boosting vitamin hooey. I've worked with that industry before so I know how much bull they can sling around in their health claims.

As if he doesn't already have enough money! What's next? Lance Armstrong erectile dysfunction pills?

I know that he has done lots of "Live Strong" good, but he really annoys me.

There. That's off my smaller than average chest.

I think that I might be cranky, again Loyal Readers. No, no. Not from constipation. (Happily, that problem has passed, so to speak.) I am cranky because I keep injuring myself in the kitchen. The weird part is that it isn't like me to have all these kitchen mishaps. I am starting to get a little nervous in my kitchen, if you must know the truth.

Today, for instance, I was grating cheese - carefully, I might add - and one of the small pointer grater points jumped right out and stabbed me in the palm, where my skin is already very sensitive and dry. Ouch. Then - and this is the big one that hurts A LOT - I burned my right palm this evening while making - God only knows why - strawberry jam. I was putting an empty jar into the almost boiling water bath (using my safe little jar gripper thingy) and I did it too fast. The jar filled rapidly with water and a big splash came flying out right onto my palm. By the time I had gotten over to the sink, blisters had formed AND broken. It was sort of amazing. They have reformed now.

You will be glad to know that I finished the jam using a combination of an ice filled plastic glove and a bowl of ice water. The one enjoyable thing about a second degree burn is the relief you feel when you put ice on it. AAHHHHH. Nice. A small third degree burn is preferable since you feel nothing. One can't be too picky when it comes to burns.

So, the jam is finished - I made up the recipe, by the way. I added some cranberries and cherries to up the pectin (strawberries have very little) so that I wouldn't have to add commercial pectin. I don't know why but I have something against that. Weird, but true.

The jam jelled nicely and it has a beautiful color. It is a bit sweet, but still nice. Organic strawberries were on sale at Bloomingfoods for 99 cents per pound so I felt compelled. Next time, I will keep on walkin'. Tomorrow I have to jar up two crocks of kraut that have been fermenting in the basement. After that, I think I'm done for awhile. Let's face it. It is just too dangerous.

Jack has been sick this week with a cold. He goes to camp - insists on going and seems well enough in the AM - but by late afternoon, he is down for the count. Poor little guy. It has been so long since he had any kind of cold that I forgot how they hang on for him. I hope he turns the corner tomorrow.

In other news, I finished a new book called The Opposite of Love by Julie Buxbaum. I read a piece by her in the New York Times that interested me. I wrote to her and she wrote back to me, so I thought the least I could do is buy her first book. It is pretty good, actually. A relatively fast read, a bit overwritten in parts for my taste, but a good solid novel.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tea Pickle Update (Yes, Nancy...you can skip this)

Because Steph specifically asked me to report on this, I offer this post in her honor.

Today, I decided that my Tea Pickles were done fermenting and ready for the fridge. The recipe instructed me to boil the strained brine, discard the solid seasonings (garlic, tea leaves, pepper corns) and to rinse the pickles. Following that, the boiled strained brine is poured over the rinsed pickles that have been packed into clean jars with fresh garlic and pepper corns. I was a bit iffy about these pickles, based on the appearance of the brine while they were fermenting (dreadful looking, but it smelled good).

I am delighted, nay, ecstatic to report that the pickles are really special. At first bite, you think, hmm, a half-sour pickle. A moment later, you realize that there is no dill but instead an subtle smokey undertone that was wonderful. In fact, I think that I would double the tea next time to get more smokiness.

An wonderfully different pickle. I recommend it. If you are interested in the recipe, leave a comment.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Loved this Article, BUT...

...I am not going to show it to my husband for fear he will get ideas...

A Farming Life

Sunday, July 13, 2008

BloomingtonGirl's Prison of Pokemon, Pickling, Preserving and (not) Pooping

I always did like over done alliteration, Loyal Readers. But, let's not waste time talking about that. Let's jump right into my rant, shall we?
First of all, I am completely sick to #$%@-ing death of Pokemon. It is like our family has walked into some sort of alternate universe. The Universe of Pokemon. All Pokemon, All The Time. It wouldn't be so bad if Jack were not the only child at home. If he had siblings his own age, he might badger them into participating in his stupid Pokemon "battles". Sadly he has no siblings at home. Play dates can stand in for real siblings of course, but when Jack has no play date, I have to be his Pokemon opponent.

I cannot tell you how incredibly BORING and STUPID it all is. Lest you think that I am a completely unfeeling mother, I want to state for the record that there is a part of me that really does understand that these young years go by quickly and that someday I will wish that my child wanted to spend time with me to do anything at all and so I should cherish these little Pokemon battles...blahblahblah. Yes, there is that part of me. But, the larger part of me is of another mind entirely. Behind glazed over eyes during the seemingly endless and completely meaningless Pokemon battles, that larger part is wondering how soon Chris and I can send our kid to boarding school and not look like awful parents. Oh, and not screw our kid up too badly. Don't get me wrong, I do love my child deeply. But, Pokemon is slowly sucking my brain out.

Now, it wouldn't be so bad if my other major compulsory activity were something that didn't maim my fingertips on an almost daily basis. Yesterday, I lopped off a piece of my index finger. So, now I have matching mutilated digits to show for all my cabbage cutting. This time, the injury was from a food processor blade I was employing to shred up some cabbage for coleslaw, apparently my husband's new FAVORITE food. Who knew? I have never once seen him so passionate about any one thing in all the time I have known him. I cannot count how many times a day he says, " I really like coleslaw" lately. I like it, too, but come on, people. It's getting a bit ridiculous.

At least I didn't have to go into the clinic for the index finger injury. I knew I was up to date on my Tetanus shots after all.

This weekend, I have made coleslaw, pickled red cabbage (canned no less) and Japanese salted cucumber pickles. Oh, yes, and I started a batch of homemade yogurt earlier this evening. It should be done incubating by the time I go to bed. If not, my husband can get up from his sleep to transfer the stuff to the fridge. After all, it was his idea to do all this home fermentation.

Yes, your BloomingtonGirl is cranky. And, I'll tell you why, if you can promise to be discreet with this somewhat embarrassing information. No, I am not having the dreaded PMS. I am, quite honestly, CONSTIPATED! That is the injustice in this situation! All this cabbage and pro-biotic crap and I'm not regular!!! How can this be? I am consuming large quantities daily of sauerkraut and coleslaw and half-sour pickles and all I have to show for it is some stinky gas. Some very stinky gas, if I may say so.

Someone wise once said (and it may be my favorite saying of all time) that "There is nothing so overrated as great sex and underrated as a great dump."

Don't misunderstand, Loyal Ones. I am not saying that great sex is not great. It is. Even mediocre sex (not that I ever have mediocre sex, of course) is pretty darned good. But let's face it. While people might often go on and on about how great sex is, you would be hard pressed to get someone at a cocktail party to exclaim, "Wow, I had a GREAT dump today! It was absolutely heaven!" And, let's be honest. Who doesn't feel like a million bucks after a great poop? I would feel like two million if I could have one of those underrated poops right now. Not one million. TWO.

That's enough of that. I am off to put Jack to bed (!!!) and hunker down with Lady Chatterley. I am almost done with it and have to say that I think it to be a rather weak novel. I will finish it however.

Maybe in the bathroom if I'm lucky.




Saturday, July 12, 2008

Just In Case...

you aren't one of the millions of people who have already seen this video, I am providing the link:

Dancing

I cannot watch this without getting choked up for some reason. It just makes me so happy. If you want to know more about this project, you can go to the guy's website.

Where the Hell is Matt?

Hope you enjoy it!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Go Colts?

It is a shame, Loyal Readers, that it is not football season. (It isn't, right?) I would be able to root for the Colts in high style.

Underneath this large and colorful bandage is a thumb with a little piece missing at its end. This morning, I was (what else?) making sauerkraut (Russian Soured Cabbage specifically). I guess in the spirit of the recipe, I was "rushin'" when using the antique contraption my parents dug out of their garage (at my request) to shred the cabbage. My safety conscious husband warned me the other day that I might cut my finger when I was making (another!) batch of our beloved kraut. I was just happy he wasn't here to say something insightful such as "Why did you do that?" or "Were you being careful?" or the dreaded, "I told you this was going to happen." I didn't even call him at work to tell him about it because I didn't want to hear it.

Even though I was wounded, I finished making the kraut. I asked myself, What Would My Mother or My Mother-In-Law Do in, wrapped my bleeding hand up and drove to the doc in a box to get bandaged up properly and to get a Tetanus shot. I considered posting pictures of the piece of my thumb that is no longer attached to me, but thought it would be in bad taste. And, lately, taste is what I am all about, no?

Below are a few pictures to go along with this post. First, is the Russian Soured Cabbage in the crock just before adding in the brine. Isn't it lovely? Second, is a picture of the dreaded cabbage cutting contraption. What you can't see in the picture is that there are three separate blades on the thing. The third picture is simply dessert. A delicious picture of my delicious little guy.






Tuesday, July 08, 2008

A Late Night Update

This will be brief, Loyal Readers, because I have had a very very very long day. This morning, I drove out to the middle-of-nowhere, or Clay City, to go to the famous Clay City Pottery to purchase ceramic crocks (or "jars" in parlance). It was a rural drive with scenic views. I now know that Jesus loves me because there were two bill boards en route that told me so. When I saw the first sign, I had some doubt as to how the sign maker knew that Jesus loved me in particular but when I saw the second, I took it as a sign, so to speak. In addition, I learned what the letters of the word BIBLE stand for. Basic Information Before Leaving Earth. Who knew?

After spending about twenty minutes in the run down little shop that is Clay City Pottery, I left with five large crocks, one small crock, one pie plate and a slight cough from all the airborne clay dust in the place. The price was very reasonable because the crocks were all seconds. They are plenty good enough for brining, though.

My afternoon was filled with many tasks and errands, some a bit odious if I may be honest. One bright spot, however, was checking on my Smoky Tea Pickles. The brine smells so incredibly GOOD! I can't describe the aroma and do it real justice. But, I will say that it is an interesting mix of smoky and spicy and garlic notes. If the pickles taste half as good as the brine smells, we will have a hit.

I am off now to continue to read Lady Chatterley's Lover. An interesting tale. Not one of my favorite books but worth a read.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that we got our new yogurt maker today. Before you know it, this house will be one big fermenting vessel.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Sparklers & More Pickles



Happy July 5th, Loyal Ones. I thought I would post a couple of pictures of Jack enjoying some sparklers on our patio yesterday evening. It gets dark here so late, that we didn't bother to wait for it. Sparklers nowadays are pretty cheap, if you don't mind me saying. I remember them as burning for much longer and being much brighter and just plain better than the ones that Jack had last night. He didn't seem to mind, though. Plus, since we bought them yesterday they were something like "Buy One Get Ten Free!" so we had a ton of them. The smell of them is the same, though. Brings me right back to Pig Tail Alley in Herkimer, NY. Yep, that's what the locals called the street on which I grew up.

In other exciting news, I started a new batch of what promise to be, if nothing else, interesting pickles. They are called "Robert's Tea Pickles". I have no idea who Robert is, but apparently he likes the taste of smoky tea in his pickles. Here is a picture of them (along with my still STUNNING Hydrangea stems and the half-sours that are on day six of their own fermentation.



The tea used in the pickle brine is Lapsang Souchong. I had heard of it but had never tasted or smelled it. It smells like a smoke house, one that I don't feel much like drinking in a tea.

I'll keep you posted on my progress because I know my Loyal Readers want to be IN THE KNOW.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

An Article

Good Morning Loyal Readers. Thought I would share this with you.

Read This

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

King Kong

Loyal Ones, Jack and I are taking a little down time this afternoon and watching the original King Kong movie.  It is FABulous.  Jack really likes it so far and the star of the show has not yet appeared.  There are so many crack ups in the movie.  The cook on the ship is a "Chinaman" with the whole "me no like this" speech complete with the r's and l's mixed. His name, of course, is Charlie.  the clincher is that he is an African American wearing Foo Manchu style moustache.   It reminds me of some movie we saw years ago with Charlton Heston cast as a Mexican.  No matter that he was completely NOT Mexican and affected no accent.  It was okay because he had a stereotypical thin moustache.

Anyway, the movie is great fun and the plot thin enough that I can blog at the same time. Bonus.

Yesterday, we went to see Wall-E.  Wonderful and sweet.  I guess we are on a movie roll.  It's summer., what can I say?

DRAT.  Jack just lost interest in the movie.  He wants the "new and improved one.  They didn't even put color in this one!"

So much for the classics.





PIckle Update

Good Morning, Loyal Readers.  Because I know you have been wondering about my Half-Sours, I am posting a little update for you.  At left is the latest photo of my little babes, fermenting away.  I came up with the brilliant idea of placing Pizza Express cups on top of the plastic bags because they kept flopping one way or the other.  The cups stabilize the bags beautifully.  

Since this is my first ever batch of Half-Sours, I am not sure how they are coming along.  The pickle juice was somewhat clear yesterday with some brown cloudiness on the bottom.  Today, the cloudiness is throughout the jar with no brown tinge at all.  I am hoping that this is the way it should be.  My husband said that they are beginning to look like his grandmother's pickles.  Translation:  "Phew.  These pickles look right, honey."  (He was visibly relieved today after observing with concern the brown tinge yesterday. )

The smell of them remains wonderful, so I doubt anything untoward is going on in the jars.  Bubbles are starting to form as described in the recipe.   So far, so good.  (I think.)

Tomorrow they go into the fridge for a three day wait.  And then, the proof of the pickles will be in the tasting...

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday Update

Loyal Readers, though your BloomingtonGirl is blue today --oh so blue with parenting woes and guilt-- she has, of course, had time to do a little pickling. A very little. In the late morning, I prepared two quarts of half-sour dills, which are fermented at room temperature for three days and then refrigerated for another three. Then, they are ready to eat. EASY PEEZY! They are called half-sours because the salt content is such that the cucumbers never get entirely sour as they would in a higher salt brine. I am just parroting these words from the book. I don't yet have a deeper understanding at my command. But, stay tuned. I imagine that if this all goes on much longer, I will.

If you are interested in making some Half-Sours -- and of course you are -- you just run out to your garden and pluck off a quart size harvest of little pickling cucumbers (the ones that have not yet succumbed to the dreaded cucumber beetle.) Rinse them gently and prick some holes in each one. Place them (stuff them is more like it) into a quart size mason jar (wide mouth probably works best) into which you have already placed a generous 1/4 tsp crushed black pepper corns, 1/4 tsp crushed coriander seeds, a dry bay leaf and a roughly chopped clove of garlic. Add in a large stalk of dill & a chile pepper. I put a lengthwise slice in the pepper so that it would submerge and ooze its flavor better. I didn't have two peppers so I just used a generous shake of hot red pepper flakes in my second quart.
Here are the cucumbers in the jar.

Next, mix up a brine of three cups of water and 1.5 tablespoon PICKLING salt. Use pickling salt rather than regular table salt because it is pure sodium chloride with no additives that can cause cloudiness. Pour the brine over the stuff in the jar, leaving an inch or so head space at the top. Make sure the brine covers everything. Stuff a quart size freezer bag into the mouth of the jar (the open top remains out) and pour the remaining brine into the bag and seal the bag. The brine bag is to keep the cucumbers submerged and make a seal so that air doesn't get in. (This is an anaerobic fermentation.) You'll have to finesse the bag so that it balances and check it from time to time, but this isn't a hard thing to do.

The entire process (excluding the actual harvest of the cucumbers) took about ten minutes. I was surprised when my kitchen began to smell a bit like my Polish "Baba's" kitchen soon after I started the pickles. It is a delicious smell and I cannot wait to try the finished product. It is amazing how easy the process was. If possible, use the freshest cucumbers you can get in order to take advantage of the bacteria on the skin for the fermentation process.




Yesterday, I started a batch of sauerkraut. I didn't photograph the process for some reason. As I write, the ten pounds of shredded cabbage in a salt brine is fermenting away in our basement. I was unable to locate a crock in town, so I call the good folks at the Marsh bakery and picked up three of their used frosting pails. So far, so good. The kraut should be done in three to four weeks if all goes well.

Thanks to anonymous for the ebay link to a crock. I think that I am going to try to make a trip to Clay City Pottery and pick up a couple this week. They are very reasonably priced and locally made.

Last but not least, I picked a couple of gorgeous Hydrangea from our bushes just behind our house. They might be my favorite flower.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Plea from Your BloomingtonGirl

Is anyone in possession of a stoneware crock (1-5 gal capacity) with no cracks inside of it? I have been looking ALL over this town for one to no avail and I would like to make sauerkraut and pickles and need a crock.

If you have one for loan or sale, post a comment for me.

Thanks!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

BloomingtonGirl Picks a Cucumber as Big as Her Head

(please keep any off color jokes to yourself and refrain from comments about my lack of eye make-up)

















Loyal Readers, this huge thing almost went undetected. It was hiding behind a big leaf and had driven itself into the ground.

I did my first solo garden harvest today. Usually Chris does it and I have been - honestly - intimidated by the process. My black thumb is well known in this family.

But, just now, I picked some peas, some zucchini and two enormous cucumbers. I feel so mighty! I am off to shell the peas and make some delicious Zucchini Soup. (Make some right away, Loyal Ones. It is Delicious!)

BloomingtonGirl Finishes her Pickles

Loyal Readers, I'm not going to lie. Yesterday, I was so low, I couldn't even think of getting my cucumbers out of their brine in order to finish pickling them. I had started the brine on Sunday night and intended to make Bread & Butter Pickles on Monday. Let's just say that Jack has no camp this week and had no play date yesterday and was overtired. I'll leave it at that because if I write more, you might call the asylum and arrange for a straight-jacketed variety of a pick up of your BloomingtonGirl. Rest easy, Loyal Ones. Things are infinitely better today.

I finally released my cucumbers from their salty sea and finished the pickling process. It is pretty easy and consists of mixing some vinegar and sugar together and then adding spices, onions and the drained cucumbers to the pot. After bringing the mix to a boil, you ladle it into sterilized jars, seal and boil them some more. I made six pints of pickles.

I had some left over, so I added some white pepper and some red pepper flakes as an experiment. I happen to like what resulted quite a bit. However, my husband, who is missing the gene that allows for one to think before one speaks to one's wife about cooking, weight and clothing choices, weighed in a bit differently after he tasted the pickles.

"Honey, did you add artificial sweetener to these?"

Loyal Readers, in the way of background I tell you that to my husband, the taste of artificial sweetener is just about the worst flavor note around. With that, I translate his comment:

"Boy, are these pickles lousy."

Here are some photos of my lousy pickle making for your enjoyment.

Cucumbers in a Salty Sea



The Pickling Brew


Sealed and Ready to Store



The Whole Set-Up

Monday, June 23, 2008

In Memoriam

George Carlin died yesterday of heart failure at the young age of 71. Your BloomingtonGirl thinks that the world will be a smidge less sane without this seemingly (but not at all) insane comedian and social commentator.

R.I.P.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Bread & Butters

Here a couple of new garden photos. I won't write much because I am tired from all this farm-handing.

















The first two photos are of freshly picked cabbages (there are ten more waiting to come into my kitchen!) and of the vegetables we had at dinner tonight. All were grown by Chris except for the tomatoes.

The next two photos show the first two steps to making Your BloomingtonGirl's Delicious Bread and Butter Pickles. First, you taste last year's batch to remind yourself it is worth the effort. Then, you slice 5 1/2 pounds of cucumbers on a Mandoline (one of the best wedding shower presents I got, by the way) to a consistent 1/8 inch thickness. After the slicing is complete, you put the cukes into a salt brine over night. Tomorrow I shall resume the process and photograph it for all my Loyal Ones.




Saturday, June 21, 2008

Some Links for My Loyal Ones

Loyal Readers, I know that you are keen to see as many photos as you can possibly see of my husband's ridiculously huge garden. Wait, did I say ridiculously? I meant to say abundant, out of this world, over the top...you know, and all that.

Anyway, for those of you interested in horticulture, click on the links below.

Garden 1

Garden 2

Off to practice piano, kiss Jack goodnight and watch a comedy special with my hubby.

What nice Saturday night, eh?

Let Us Now Praise Farm Bloomington (Again)

Loyal Readers, I felt compelled to post about our fabulous dining experience last evening. Chris and I had dinner at Farm and it was SO SO SO good.

The man pictured at left, Daniel Orr, is the gifted chef and owner of Farm. His food is creative and fresh and his seasonings are always light handed. The dishes are interesting but never overly fussy. Just about everything I have ever had - well, now that I think about it - EVERYTHING I've ever had at Farm has been superb.

Last night, to start, I enjoyed fresh (FRESH!!) spring rolls with a Thai peanut sauce that had complexity and zip. Chris opted for the soup special, a broth based kale and kielbasa combination that was really hearty and tasty without being heavy. For my entree, I got the seared Ahi Tuna with gingered bok choy and jasmine coconut rice. All I can say is YUM. YUM. YUM. There were two sauces on the plate and I have no idea what they were but every time I took a bite, I moaned in pleasure. Racy, I know, but what's a BloomingtonGirl to do? I really could not help myself. Chris ordered the Walleye special and it, too, was perfect. We split a dessert that was everything a dessert should be. I think that they make the best desserts in town. Hands Down No Contest. And we all know I am a tough judge when it comes to dessert.

As always, the atmosphere was light and comfortable. The music in the background was at just the right volume and the noise level from the diners around us was perfect as well. The acoustics in Farm are an excellent blend of lively and quiet. You can have a conversation with your dinner partner without raising your voice even a smidge and you don't feel as if anyone can overhear you like you might at some stuffy overly fancy place.

The tables decor is whimsical, fun and casual, but still creates the feeling that you are in a really nice restaurant. The service is good - our waitress last night was particularly good. Each time I go there, I feel well taken care of, well fed, relaxed and festive.

Yes, this post reads a bit like an amateur restaurant review, but I couldn't help myself. I cannot wait to go back. It had been too long since I had been there last and I'm not letting that happen again.

Go to Farm, Loyal Readers and make sure you make room for dessert!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dahling I Love You, But Give Me Park Avenue

Okay, so I am not Zsa Zsa Gabor (Thank Goodness!), but, these days, I am starting to feel a bit like her character on Green Acres.

My Loyal Readers know how proud I am of my husband's garden and how happy I am for him that his new hobby is bringing him great satisfaction. Look at him! He is so happy and proud !

When the first little harvests of spinach came in, I was as enthusiastic as he was. Then, came our beautiful lettuces and some radishes. Some rinsing and bagging was all that was required.

But now, between us free-range chickens, the novelty is starting to wear off. Reality, that pesky little character, is on the scene. As more vegetables become ready to pick, we have more than we can eat, of course. The plan was, and still is, to preserve what we could not eat right away for post season enjoyment. Most produce is best frozen, so I have been reading up on the correct methods for it. In my imagination - my stupid imagination - I could do this freezing at my leisure, say on a weekend afternoon when I have nothing better to do besides avoid playing Pokemon with my Pokemon Obsessed Child.

Hah! The reality is that I'll be here minding my own business, deep into a project of my own and my farming husband will just come into the kitchen with a bucket of peas or five heads of cauliflower, or broccoli that should be frozen sometime very (VERY) soon. Because I am a good wife (and a former food scientist who knows the value of freezing the food immediately after harvesting), I spring into action. More accurately, I first curse a couple of times under my breath and huff and puff a bit just to passively aggressively inform my husband what a burden it is to stop whatever I am doing. Then, I spring into action, getting out pots and pans and strainers and ice baths and freezer bags and drinking straws. Yes, drinking straws. I am not convinced that we need to spend over a hundred bucks on a vacuum packer, so I do my own little vacuum packaging. It isn't pretty to watch - I imagine I look like someone on a crack pipe - but I figure getting at least some of the air out of the freezer bag ought to help.

The basic freezing method is that you peel, shell or trim whatever you are going to freeze. After washing the vegetables in question, you drop them - by sort of smallish batches - into a pot of boiling water. You leave your batch in for as long as specified for that particular vegetable - ninety seconds to three minutes for most - and then plunge the vegetables into an ice water batch. I don't know why one must plunge, but that is what the instructions always say. Plunge. So, plunge I do.

After drying out the veggies a bit, they are ready to be bagged and frozen. And, there you have it.

Here are some photos for those produce lovers among you:






Just to ensure that I spend as much time in the kitchen as possible these days, I decided to buy eight pounds of sour cherries at the Farmer's Market last weekend. My intention was to make some sour cherry jam. I did indeed make the jam, in two batches because after hand pitting four of the pounds, I had had it. I estimate that there are about 100 cherries per pound. I did purchase a handy pitter, but still, it was a drag, or in more pleasant parlance, a labor of love. Here are some photos of the process, complete with the picture of the truly special and amazing finished product. The cherries were so fragrant with a floral aroma that my hands smelled like a flower shop for the rest of the day. That fragrant note was carried through to the jam, making it well worth the effort. Unfortunately, four pounds of cherries (or four hundred pitting motions) yields only four half pints of jam. But, as long as I keep a bit for tasting just before next year's cherry season, I know I will be motivated to do it all over again. In fact, that is how I got motivated to make the second batch this year. I opened up a jar and reminded myself how good it is.