Saturday, April 10, 2021

Gorse Glowing, River Flowing

 On our stroll by the water yesterday afternoon, the gorse was glowing

and the river was flowing
Such a beautiful, peaceful way to spend a small part of the day.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Easy Peasy Pizza

 Friday is pizza for supper night in our home. We like thin crust, so when I used to make crust, I would roll it out as thinly as I could and it was good. I've also used English muffins and pitta bread as crust. Again, good. We liked it. But then one day, I decided to do something different. I had some wholemeal wraps that needed using, so pizza crust seemed like a good way to do that. I haven't made pizza any other way since. It's just the way we like it best. I use wholemeal wraps most of the time, but of those aren't available, I buy the seeded wraps instead. One wrap is too flimsy to hold the toppings, so I use two that are 'glued' together with cheese and go from there. These are the two different pizzas I made tonight, but the possibilities are, of course, endless.

Tonight, I had some of this sliced mild cheddar that needed to be used, so that was my 'glue.' I use whatever cheese I have in varying amounts--mild or mature cheddar, sliced or shredded, or mozzarella.
Then i just place another wrap on top of ths and build the pizza from there. Bill likes tomato sauce, so I use what is called tomato puree here and tomato paste in the US. It's good and thick, so doesn;t run off when I spread it around. I then sprinkle on garlic granules, oregano, and basil.
I also like this, but lately, I've been liking pesto with some oregano sprinkled on top better, so that's what I've been making.
I sprinkle on the cheese--mozzarella or a mix of that and cheddar--and add diced bell pepper, sliced onion (I really like red onions for this, but any will do), and if we have some, fresh broccoli florets cut into very small pieces. We didn't have any fresh broccoli today.
I like pickled jalapeno slices on mine, too.
That's it! I stick it in the oven and wait for the cheese to melt, get bubbly and brown at the edges.

Sorry about the photo above--too much steam. You can just see, in the upper right hand corner, how the pesto browns nicely at the edge--it's sort of caramelized. It's so good! It's crunchy and a wee bit chewy.

Bill likes his with a few grinds of black pepper. I put on some grated Parmesan and grind some of this on top:
Aldi has it in summer, so I get it then to last until it comes back again. It is so good--a mix of jalapeno, garlic, chilli, and mustard. I'm nearing the end of my supply, so hope it returns soon.

That's all there is to it. Funny how sometimes the most simple things can be the best. It's quicker to make this than it would be to get one from a takeaway and it is so much better. 


Thursday, April 8, 2021

Walking the Talk

 "Our own life is the instrument with which we experiment with Truth."

—Thich Nhat Hanh

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Veg Patties

 Last week, I made some broccoli patties. They were so good! I made several to keep in the fridge--excellent to grab for lunch. Today, I used different veggies to make a different version.

I had half a medium head of sweetheart cabbage (the pointy kind, but any cabbage would work fine). I cut it up into pieces and whizzed it in my mini food processor.
Then I cut a small bell pepper and a medium onion into chunks and whizzed them up as well. Finally, I grated two medium carrots. I added all these veggies to the cabbage.
Then in went the herbs.
I also added dried parsley and black pepper. I didn't measure--just put in as much as I wanted and then mixed everything together.
Time for cheese now--about a cup or more or less to taste. When I did the broccoli patties, I used all cheddar, but this time I had some cheddar and some mozzarella that needed using, so I dumped those in. I also had the end of a wedge of Parmesan, so I sliced that thinly and cut it into very small cubes (I stuck the rind in a small bag and put it in the freezer--these are good to toss in the pot when making soup--just remove before serving--imparts a lovely flavour).

Beat three large eggs and mix in. Then add about 3/4 cup flour or bread crumbs. I used oat flour (just whiz up some rolled oats in a food processor to make oat flour), but after I'd gotten everything mixed, it dawned on me that rye flower and caraway seeds would have probably been great too. with these veggies.

I lined a couple pans with parchment paper and spooned the mixture onto the pans, smoothing with the spoon.

I baked these at 200C (about 390F) in a fan oven for about half an hour, until the patties were golden brown.

I love these! They're handy to have in the fridge and would probably freeze well, although I have not tried this. There are a lot of possibilities with these--by changing veggies, herbs, and spices, the resulting patties will vary in taste. These are easily adaptable and great for using up odds and ends, thus avoiding food waste. I made 10 patties today and I think 12 the other day--I made them thicker today. But I could have used fewer veg and then cut down on the cheese, flour, and egg as well. 

When I made the broccoli patties, I used the florets from a 500g head of broccoli and whizzed them up in the food processor. I used half a large onion. All the rest was the same, except I used all cheddar cheese. I also added a tablespoon of olive oil, because the florets were more dry than the veggies I used today. I used a wee bit more flour today than I did for the broccoli patties because the mixture was wetter. I could have squeezed out the moisture from the shredded veg, but that would have been unnecessary bother, so I just compensated for this and it was fine.

They're good hot or cold, on their own or in a wrap. I suspect we'll be having many more of these in one form or another in the weeks ahead. 😋

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

March Books: Fiction and Short Stories

 Besides the mysteries, my fiction in March was confined to classics. I did get a new short story collection that I loved--the content and the cover art!

Mary: A Fiction by Mary Wollstonecraft
I discovered a video on youtube about this book, so went to Project Gutenberg to download and read it before listening. The book is something of a response to male authors of the time and touches on some themes that she would later write about in her work A Vindication of the Rights of Women. It was a bit of a strange book to me, but it was helpful to read and hear a bit about the context of this work in particular and novels in general (they were perceived differently at the time this was published in 1788).

The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope
I bought used copies of all 6 of Trollope’s Barsetshire Chronicles last summer and read them here and there as the mood struck. As the title says, this book ends the series. It’s always a little sad to get to the end when reading a series like this. There were continuations of storylines from previous books, new situations involving characters readers had already met, as well as new people and stories introduced in this book, with everything tied up by the end of the book. I thought this was the best novel of the series and when I went back and read the introduction after finishing the book, I discovered that Trollope thought so, too. 

I read most of this (400 of the 700ish pages) on an eerily quiet St Patrick’s Day (the second in a row). It was so weird to have such quiet on that day. It’s a holiday here and we’re in lockdown, so instead of parades and celebrations, there was just a strange silence.

Little Red and Other Stories by Éilís Ní Dhuibhne
This is a collection of short stories by an Irish writer. I’ve enjoyed some of her work in the past, so when Kenny’s was having a sale and this book was on the list of titles, I got it. I loved it! It’s a keeper. All the stories involve Irish people, but not all of them are set in Ireland. It’s definitely a thought-provoking collection as well as being a great read.

I am happily into my April reading. Who knows where it will lead?

Monday, April 5, 2021

March Books: Mystery

 I am never far from a mystery novel, especially classic mysteries. March had a few.

Black as He’s Painted by Ngaio Marsh
This is the 28th book in the author’s Roderick Alleyn series, published in the mid 1970s. It involves the attempted assassination of the leader of a new African republic, who happens to be an old school friend of Alleyn’s. When the guy comes to Britain, there is concern for his well-being and Alleyn is asked to intervene, but is brushed off. During a reception at the embassy, an attempt is made on his life. Alleyn is on the spot, as is a retired foreign officer. In spite of the tricky diplomatic situation, Alleyn takes charge of the investigation.

I only have a few more books to read before I reach the end. I’ll be sad when I get there—I have enjoyed reading them in order and seeing how the stories change as the culture changed.

Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie
This is one of Christie’s early published works that recently entered the public domain, so is available free of charge on Project Gutenberg (along with 4 of her other works). It’s a collection of short stories, narrated by Captain Hastings. Loved it, of course.

Adam and Eve and Pinch Me by Ruth Rendell
I had this stuck on a shelf, having picked it up in a charity shops a few years ago. I decided it was time to read it and put it in the pile of books we’re done with and not keeping. This one is a standalone, not one of Rendell’s Inspector Wexford books. It was quite good.

Minty (short for Araminta) comes home from work one day to find what she thinks is the ghost of her fiance, Jock, in her house. The story moves from there, back and forth in time and between different perspectives, as we learn more about Minty, Jock, and various other people who move in and out of their orbit. 

Not in the Flesh by Ruth Rendell
I am dealing with my usual spring/summer difficulties—this half of the year is always a slog and I have to be prepared for days when I am barely functional, very tired, and/or feeling blah. During one such day, I did what was necessary and then filled the time with this mindless book. It’s one of Rendell’s Wexford books—a later one. I had planned to start another book, but that would’ve required more attention than I was able to give, so this fit the bill. 

A guy goes out truffle hunting with his late brother’s dog. The dog finds some truffles and then the bones of a human hand. The police are called and they find the rest of the skeleton. Forensic analysis determines that the man died eleven years previously. Wexford and his team set out to discover who he was and who killed him.

It's almost time for another mystery. Maybe I'll read the next Roderick Alleyn next, even though it will bring me one book closer to the end of the series. Happy reading!

Sunday, April 4, 2021

March Books: Plays, Poetry, Nonfiction

 My usual spring blahs arrived right on schedule last month and I was even more grateful than usual to have access to books of many genres. Whatever my mood, books enrich my life. 

My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg with Mary Harnett and Wendy W. Williams
Bill ordered me this book as a surprise. I loved it, but it also made me sad to think about what the world, and particularly the US, lost with her passing. The book is a collection of her writing through the years and even includes a couple of pieces she wrote when she was a kid. Many were given as speeches and some from the bench. It was interesting also to learn a bit more about how the Supreme Court operates.

Mouthpieces by Eimear McBride
I’ve not read any of this author’s other work, but when this popped up as a new title in the e-book section of the library website, I decided to give it a try. It was strange and unsettling.
‘Written during her time as the inaugural fellow in the Beckett archive last year, Eimear McBride's three short, characteristically brilliant plays - collected in one work, Mouthpieces.

Each play depicts a fragment of female experience, all of them told in in Eimear's vivid, original and sharp-witted style. In 'The Adminicle Exists', we hear the inner voice of a woman who saves her troubled, dangerous partner; in 'An Act of Violence', a woman is quizzed about her reaction to a man's death; in 'The Eye Machine', the character 'Eye' tells of her imprisonment, flickering through a slideshow of female stereotypes.’

The Truth Teller by Joyce Carol Oates
I came across this play in the e-audiobook section of the library website and I’m so glad I did! The listing for this said: ‘Joyce Carol Oates' hilarious take-off on a classic Southern play begins when liberated Hedda arrives home to visit the family estate, ruled by the family’s tyrannical patriarch, “Tiny” Culligan.’ 

It was funny and I laughed more than once during this recording of a performance by L.A. Theater Works. The story is set in Buffalo, specifically in the very large home occupied by Tiny Culligan and his wife, Norah. Hedda has been gone for 5 years and has not contacted her parents in that time as she was off finding herself. Along the way, on a hike in Idaho, she also found a psychosociolinguist (the only one in the world, we’re told), Saul, and he accompanied her back to Buffalo, both of them travelling by bicycle. Their arrival is a surprise for her parents, who are already hosting Hedda’s sister and her brother. It’s a strange crew with seemingly nothing in common, but as the days pass, everyone discovers things about themselves that they had hidden or been unaware of before.

The Perfectionist by Joyce Carol Oates
This is another of the author’s comic plays that was in the e-audiobook section of the library website. Parts of it were funny and I did laugh, but I found her treatment of one part of the story somewhat disturbing and thought the ending was lame. Of the two Oates plays I listened to, I thought the other one was far better. The central character in this one is Tobias Harte, a middle aged man with two young adult children, a boy who has dropped out of college and a girl who is finishing high school at an exclusive private school where she was put on the list at 18 months old. The wife is a Xanax-taking suburban wife and mother who enjoys the material benefits and prestige of being the wife of Tobias, who works for a research institute in New Jersey, where conventional wisdom says he is about to be named director. Tobias is the perfectionist of the title, driving everyone else (and himself) mad with his high standards. Things come to a breaking point at work and at home.

The Historians by Eavan Boland
This is the last collection of poetry by this Irish icon, who sadly died last year. I love her work, giving voice as it does to women’s work and small domestic moments that usually pass us by without us noticing them. She noticed and communicated her thoughts about them so beautifully.

Sprouted! Seeds, Grains & Beans; Power up Your Plate With Home-Sprouted Superfoods by DK Publishing
The e-book section of the library website has added many gardening books, covering different topics and types of gardening. This was among them and given my newfound interest in sprouting, I didn't hesitate to borrow it. It was a good guide, even though it was more in-depth than I plan to get with sprouts. The book contains a lot of information on how to sprout, but also what to sporut and why to sprout. There are sections on seeds, beans, and grains with information on taste, nutritional benefits of sprouting, and how to use sprouts, including how to dehydrate sprouted grains and grind into flour! I am pretty sure I will never do this, but it was interesting anyway. The informational section is followed by a recipe section, which contains a variety of recipes using different kinds of sprouts.

I hope there are plenty of books to entertain, inspire, and inform you as we move through this month!