Thursday, January 31, 2019

What do you do?

What do you do when you have all the time in the world, you aren't sick, you literally can't go anywhere because there is nowhere to go?  What do you do when the mail isn't delivered, trash picked up, stores, restaurants, churches, schools, government offices, businesses, libraries are closed? What do you do when you are in day 4 of this with day five looming the same?   What do you do when you have this kind of time and remember  all of the things you SAID you would do if you had this kind of time?
Day one is novel.  You look out the window, watch it snow, cheer the plow when it shows up.
Day two you hunker down because the wind is strong, the temperatures are below zero and the wind chill is negative double digits.  You are glad there is nowhere you have to be. You sew a bit. Watch The Godfather on TV.
Day three you sympathize that the mail carriers are safe and the trash pickup is cancelled and get out your old VHS of A Town Like Alice, the movie you watch when the weather is like this because everyone in it is sweating. And you sew some more.  Taking care of that project using scraps.
Day four it's all a bit old. But the sun is shining brightly and it  IS beautiful.  Everything is still closed so there's nowhere to go even if you could. Yes, yes, I could tackle some spring cleaning jobs but I need open windows and singing birds before I'm in the mood for that.

So.  It's time to test.  For a couple of years I've been looking for a brownie recipe that comes close to what my dad's mother made.  Neither my brother nor I asked her for it and we loved it.  It was different.  The chocolate flavor was mild, the brownie looked less dark and dense.  I've tried a few but didn't like them.  I didn't even give them to my brother to taste test.

Then, a couple of weeks ago I started to think about where SHE might have gotten her recipe.  It was the 1950s.  I remembered the German chocolate cake she made, that made me think of the Baker's chocolate pamphlet I have had for years.  I tore the house apart looking for it, but we are two moves removed so it could be tucked in anywhere.   Then, then I thought of good ol' Betty.  And I remembered this little book that was mine when I was a kid.  And yes, I still have it.
Then I found my mom's old and much used Betty Crocker cookbook from that era and looked up the brownie recipe.  The recipes in the two books were the same.

 I think this is it.  I'll have to wait awhile till my brother, the official taste tester for these brownies comes home from basking in warmer climate. But I think this is it.  It makes sense. She would have used this book, the edition of the  book itself is from the 50's and when I took a bite, I said, "yes!"

 As long as the oven is on I put some beef shortribs in for the afternoon.  I've never made these before but all the recipes I've read make it sound like a take on beef stew so I got it.

 It truly is beautiful out there with the sun shining on the pristine snow but looks can be deceiving.
 Every morning I restore the store for the critters.

The birds are so intent on keeping their little bodies warm yesterday I even touched this little finch before it would leave so I could refill the thistle. They don't go far.  They hop onto the nearest branch and wait till I put the feeders back and before I'm in the house they've returned to eat.

  I sprinkle a little corn and seed on the ground for the little juncos and doves

And look who was scavenging yesterday morning.  Poor thing. You can see how close to the house she is.  

Monday, January 28, 2019

Gathering chicks

The chicks are gathered under my wing for my birthday dinner. 

This one is for you, Brian.  Remember I was so afraid Mike's jersey wouldn't fit him?  But it's perfect.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Golden Tresses of the Dead

The Golden Tresses of the Dead by Alan Bradley (A Flavia deLuce novel)

     Ok, picture this. You’re at your sister’s wedding and as she takes the first cut in the wedding cake she finds a severed finger. No one else sees the finger, her sister is carried out of the hall and people are allowed to believe the poor bride was just overcome. The reception goes on and the cake is served. Yuck.
     Flavia and Dogger are the only other ones who saw the finger and after extracting it from the cake take on the task of solving the mystery of whose finger and who put it in the cake and why and when.
     This is pure Flavia. Following the death of her father she has inherited Buckshaw, their home, and has teamed up with Dogger, devoted friend of Flavia’s father, and now Flavia’s partner in their new detective business. To be honest, I thought Dogger’s powers of perception a little supernatural as he figures out whose finger it could be after a cursory look. Is anyone really that perceptive?? Maybe it’s just me.
     The mystery takes Flavia and Dogger into new territory but it’s her powers as a chemist specializing in poisons where she shines. Oh, and Flavia? She’s twelve years old.
     Now, I’ve said in my last blog post about a Flavia deLuce story that we aren’t giving her the due she deserves by delivering her to adults. Flavia needs to be read by our girls. If Flavia is twelve years old (and was much younger when we were introduced to her) then your twelve year old girls should be reading her.
     Please don’t think you are protecting your girls from the bad things out there by not letting them read about solving a murder. Let’s get real. What do they hear on their own, on their social media, on the television, in the movies, in the news? Let’s look at it another way. How about letting her read about a smart girl, one who embraces science, chemistry, deductive reasoning, persistance. You may have enjoyed Nancy Drew at that age, and yet you didn’t solve murders nor drive a roadster at twelve.
     Read a Flavia deLuce novel for yourself, of course, but please pass it on.