Friday, January 30, 2009


"Leaves like rusty tin
for the desolate mind that has seen the end—
the barest glimmerings.
Leaves aswirl with gullsmade wild by winter."
(On a Ray of Winter Light)

~ Rusty leaf
"When the ice of winter holds the house in its rigid grip, when curtains are drawn against that vast frozen waste of landscape, almost like a hibernating hedgehog I relish the security of being withdrawn from all that summer ferment that is long since past. Then is the time for reappraisal: to spread out, limp and receptive, and let garden thoughts rise to the surface. They emerge from some deep source of stillness which the very fact of winter has released."

~ Rejoicing in January beauty

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


"Things are beautiful if you love them."
~ Hubbard Lake Winter
(Favorite hearty and rich Belgian beef stew with sweet caramelized onions and dark beer, perfect company fare by the fire after a long day skiing or snowshoeing.)
~ The Silver Plate Cookbook
1/4 lb.bacon
2 very large yellow onions (1 1/2 to 2 pounds) peeled and thinly sliced
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 cup unbleached flour
1 Tbsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
3 lbs. (1-in. cubed) beef stew meat (chuck is best)
vegetable oil (optional)
2 cups imported dark beer
chopped parsley (garnish)
  • Coarsely dice bacon and saute in large skillet until crisp and brown. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and reserve.
  • Add onions to skillet and cook, covered, in rendered bacon fat until tender, about 20 minutes. Uncover skillet, raise heat, and sprinkle onions with sugar. Toss and stir until well browned. Transfer onions to strainer set over a bowl and let stand while you prepare the beef.
  • Stir flour, thyme, salt, and pepper together on plate and roll cubes of meat around in mixture until well coated. Shake off excess and set cubes on another plate.
  • Press onions gently with back of spoon to extract as much cooking fat as possible. Transfer fat to a kettle. Add in vegetable oil if not enough for proper browning of beef. (Be sparing or carbonnade will be greasy).
  • Set kettle over high heat; when very hot, add 6-8 cubes at a time to brown properly. Turn heat down slightly and cook until browned on all sides. Transfer with slotted spoon to clean plate and proceed with the browning until all meat is done.
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Pour beer into kettle and stir browned bits on bottom with spoon. Return beef cubes to kettle along with bacon and sauteed onions. Bring to simmer on stove. Cover and set on middle rack of oven.
  • Cook 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, until stew is thick and meat tender.
    Taste and correct seasoning.
  • Turn into heated serving dish, garnish with chopped parsley, and serve immediately. (6 portions)
    Note: Serve carbonnade with buttered egg noodles tossed and poppy seeds, sauteed apples, black bread and good dark beer.

~ Comfort in a day
(Late January sunset)
"Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home."
- Edith Sitwell

Friday, January 23, 2009


"White ... is not a mere absence of colour;
it is a shining and affirmative thing,
as fierce as red, as definite as black....
God paints in many colours;
but He never paints so gorgeously,
I had almost said so gaudily, as when He paints in white."

~ Gilbert Keith Chesterton
[British author, 1874–1936]
“A Piece of Chalk,” Tremendous Trifles (1909)

~ White Garden Wonders
(Annabelle hydrangea, astilbe, Yoshino cherry blossoms, Rose of Sharon bud, white poinsettia, tulip, daisy, trillium, bloodroot, iris, candytuft, (center ~ Yoshino cherry branch), viburnum, peony, lily, lily of the valley, African violet, dogwood, Queen Anne's lace, anenome, phlox, anthurium, hosta, English Daisy, Kousa dogwood
~ 'Winter white' classic dessert slightly adapted from clipped from Bon Appetit (2005)
3 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
12 ounces high-quality chopped white chocolate
1 1/4 teaspoons almond extract, divided
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water (or Chambord Black Raspberry Liqueur)
7 ounces crisp lady fingers ~ Boudoirs or Champagne biscuits
(or 7-8 oz. sliced pound cake)
1 cup raspberry jam, melted, divided
1 1/2 12-ounce packages frozen unsweetened raspberries, divided
2 6-ounce containers fresh raspberries
3/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
  • Bring 1 cup cream to simmer in medium saucepan. Remove from heat. Add white chocolate; whisk until smooth. Cool to barely lukewarm, about 10 minutes. Beat 2 1/2 cups cream and 1/2 teaspoon extract in large bowl to soft peaks. Fold in white chocolate mixture.
  • Stir sugar and 1/2 cup water (or Chambord liqueur) in small saucepan over medium heat until sugar melts. Mix in 3/4 teaspoon extract; remove syrup from heat. Quickly submerge 1 biscuit (or sliced pound cake) in syrup; shake excess back into pan. Place dipped biscuit (or cake) in bottom of 14-cup trifle dish. Repeat with enough biscuits to cover bottom of dish.
  • Spread 1/3 of melted jam over biscuits in dish. Top with 1/3 of partially thawed berries with juices. Spread 1/3 of whipped chocolate cream over. Repeat layering with dipped biscuits (cake), melted jam, partially thawed berries, and whipped chocolate cream 2 more times. Mound fresh berries in center of trifle. Sprinkle almonds around edge. Cover and chill at least 5 hours and up to 24 hours. (10 servings)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


"I like to see a man proud
of the place in which he lives.
I like to see a man live
so that his place will be proud of him. "
~Abraham Lincoln
by Albert Gamse
Hail to the Chief we have chosen for the nation,
Hail to the Chief!
We salute him, one and all.
Hail to the Chief, as we pledge co-operation
In proud fulfillment of a great, noble call.
Yours is the aim to make this grand country grander,
This you will do, that's our strong, firm belief.
Hail to the one we selected as commander,
Hail to the President! Hail to the Chief!

~ A composite of those who have walked before
The first time "Hail to the Chief" was played to honor a U.S. President was in 1815 during the commemoration of George Washington's birthday. On July 4, 1828, the song was performed by the United States Marine Band for President John Quincy Adams (served from 1825 to 1829) during the opening of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.
The song is believed to have been played at the White House during the leadership of President Andrew Jackson (served from 1829 to 1837) and President Martin Van Buren (served from 1837 to 1841). It is also believed that Julia Gardiner, first lady and wife of President John Tyler (served from 1841-1845), requested the Marine Band to play "Hail to the Chief" during President Tyler's inauguration. Another first lady, Sarah Polk, wife of President James K. Polk (served from 1845 to 1849), asked the band to play the same song to announce her husband's arrival at formal gatherings.
However, President Chester Arthur, the 21st President of the United States, didn't like the song and instead asked bandleader/composer John Philip Sousa to write a different tune. The result is a song titled "Presidential Polonaise" which proved not as popular as "Hail to the Chief."
A short intro called “Ruffles and Flourishes” was added during William McKinley's presidency (served from 1897 to 1901). This short piece is played by a combination of drums (ruffles) and bugles (flourishes) and is played four times for the president before "Hail to the Chief" is performed.
In 1954, the Department of Defense made this song the official tune to announce the arrival of a U.S. President during official events and ceremonies..
Indeed, "Hail to the Chief" is deeply etched in history and has been played for many U.S. Presidents; from Abraham Lincoln's inauguration on March 4, 1861, to George W. Bush' inaugural oath in 2005.
~ Music Education


Our hearts where they rocked our cradle,
Our love where we spent our toil,
And our faith, and our hope, and our honor,
We pledge to our native soil.
God gave all men all earth to love,
But since our hearts are small,
Ordained for each one spot should prove
Beloved over all.

~ Rudyard Kipling

Monday, January 19, 2009


"I am not interested in power for power's sake,
but I'm interested in power that is moral,
that is right and that is good."
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

~ Black & white power
(In Memory)
"Our lives begin to end
the day we become silent
about things that matter."
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Whatever your life's work is, do it well.
A man should do his job so well
that the living, the dead, and the unborn
could do it no better."

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


~ Cacto de Navidad
(Christmas Cactus)

~ Cyclamen, Cymbidium orchid, Ivy, Christmas Cactus

" ... All seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether the summer clothes the general earth
With greenness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the night thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw ..."
~ Samuel Taylor Coleridge


"Imagine, if you can, what the rest of the evening was like. How they crouched by the fire which blazed and leaped and made much of itself in the little grate. How they removed the covers of the dishes, and found rich, hot savory soup, which was a meal in itself, and sandwiches and toast and muffings enough for both of them."
~ Frances Hodgson Burnett
~ Room with a view


~ Hearty potage warms the belly & feeds the soul on these frigid days


2 lbs. special bean soup mix (e.g. '16' bean assortment with large lima, navy, red kidney, baby lima, great northern, speckled lima, black, pinto, cranberry, pink, and black-eyes peas, green and yellow split peas, lentils, etc. )
3 lbs. bulk Italian sausage (one plain, one hot or spicy and one fennel )
3 quarts organic chicken broth
1 large chopped Spanish onion
3 large chopped garlic cloves
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 large chopped green pepper
1 large chopped red pepper
1 lb. peeled and diagonally sliced carrots
1 can (28-ounce) Italian style diced tomatoes
1 jar (32-ounce) sugar-free favorite pasta sauce
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 cup chili powder
1 Tbsp. oregano
1 Tbsp. basil
1 tsp. marjoram
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. crushed rosemary
2 whole bay leaves
lots of cracked pepper
Lawrey's Seasoned pepper to taste
coarse salt to taste
juice of large lemon
1 hefty cup brandy

  • Wash and soak beans. Cover with cold water and soak 2 hours or overnight. Drain.
  • In large pot, bring beans to boil in enough cold water to cover and simmer gently about 45 minutes, adding more water if necessary.
  • While beans are cooking, saute sausage in large stockpot, breaking up large pieces. Cook until browned. If too lean, add a bit of olive oil. Drain off excess grease leaving a few scant Tbsp. Saute onion, garlic, and peppers. Carefully pour in chicken broth. Bring to boil. Add parsley, carrots, canned tomatoes, spaghetti sauce, brown sugar and seasonings. Reduce heat. Add drained beans and simmer one hour or until beans are tender. Stir in brandy before serving and adjust seasonings.
  • This hearty soup is great served with crusty sourdough or heavy multi-grained bread. (don't forget the sweet butter or, better yet, a dish of balsamic infused olive oil topped with crushed red pepper flakes.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


"Many of the phenomena of Winter are suggestive of an inexpressible tenderness and fragile delicacy. We are accustomed to hear this king described as a rude and boisterous tyrant; but with the gentleness of a lover he adorns the tresses of Summer."

~ Henry David Thoreau

~ Rich, dense, classic ... a forkful or sliver will not kill!
(favorite treat adapted from Bon Appetit - Oct 2006)


24 Nabisco Famous Chocolate Wafers

1 Tbsp. sugar

1/4 cup melted unsalted butter


10 oz. high-quality chopped bittersweet chocolate

4 (8-oz.) packages (room temperature) Philadelphia cream cheese

1 1/4 cups plus 2 Tbsp. sugar

1/4 cup Hershey's unsweetened cocoa powder

4 large organic eggs


3/4 cup whipping cream

6 oz. chopped high-quality bittersweet chocolate

1 Tbsp. sugar

Bittersweet chocolate curls

  • Crust: Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Butter 9-inch springform pan with 3-inch high sides. Blend cookies in processor until finely ground; blend in sugar. Add melted butter and process until well blended. Press crumbs evenly onto bottom (not sides) of prepared pan. Bake just until set, about 5 minutes. Cool while preparing filling. Maintain oven temperature.
  • Filling: Stir chopped chocolate in metal bowl set over saucepan of simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water; cool chocolate until lukewarm but still pourable. Blend cream cheese, sugar, and cocoa powder in processor until smooth. Blend in eggs 1 at a time. Mix in lukewarm chocolate. Pour filling over crust; smooth top; Bake until center is just set and appears dry, about 1 hour. Cool 5 minutes. Run knife around sides of cake to loosen. Chill overnight.
  • Topping: Stir cream, 6 oz. chocolate, and sugar in heavy medium saucepan over low hear until smooth. Cool slightly. Pour over center of cheesecake, spreading to within 1/2 -inch of edge and filling any cracks. Chill until topping is set, about 1 hour. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Cover with foil and keep refrigerated)
  • Release pan sides. Transfer cheesecake to platter. Top with chocolate curls. Let stand 2 hours at room temperature before serving. (12 servings)
~ 'Icy blue' Hubbard Lake

Sunday, January 11, 2009


"Grow what you love.
The love will keep it growing. "

~ Emilie Barnes

~ Ivy and cyclamen

"Beloved, thou hast brought me many flowers

Plucked in the garden , all the summer through

And winter, and it seemed as if they grew

In this close room, nor missed the sun and showers."

~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning

~ Ivy, cyclamen and alstroemeria

Saturday, January 10, 2009


"Truth is the torch that gleams through the fog without dispelling it."

~ Claude Adrien Helvetius

~ Evening fog
(old apple tree and friends)
~ Time to put the kettle on ...
2 lbs. split green peas
1 meaty ham bone
2 cups chopped onion or leeks
2 cups chopped celery and leaves
6 large chopped carrots
2 cloves minced garlic
4 quarts organic chicken broth
bunch of chopped parsley
4 bay leaves
1-2 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme (2 tsp. dried)
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups slivered cooked ham
  • Rinse and drain peas, picking out any stones. Spray large stockpot with Pam. Inside place peas and ham bone and cover with chicken broth and additional water (or white wine to cover bone). Add vegetables, garlic, bay leaves and thyme. Season with salt & pepper.
  • Bring to a simmer, skimming scum off top. Cover loosely and cook 1 hour until peas are tender, stirring often. Remove bone and bay leaves. Either press through sieve or leave chunky. Correct seasonings and add ham.
  • Ladle into mugs or bowls and top with crunchy croutons.

~ Outside my window


Why is thick fog often referred to as "pea soup"?

The term arose in 19th century Britain. One of the by-products of the industrial revolution was a massive increase in the smoke and sulphur put into the atmosphere by factories, etc. When combined with fog, the result was totally different to the white fogs seen in rural areas - because of the dirty yellow-brown color, they were named "pea soupers".These poisonous combinations of smoke and fog continued to occur until 1952, when a five-day "pea souper" over London is estimated to have caused 4,000 premature deaths through bronchitis, pneumonia, etc. Cold weather meant an increase in coal-burning, and meteorological conditions led to the pollutants being trapped at ground level. Subsequent changes in legislation phased out open coal fires, and "pea soupers" are now a thing of the past in Britain.

~ Answerbag

Thursday, January 08, 2009


Is not this lily pure?

What fuller can procure

A white so perfect, spotless clear

As in this flower doth appear?
~ Francis Quarles
(English poet and devotional writer - 1592 - 1644)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009


"Only the pure in heart can make a good soup."
~ Ludwig van Beethoven
~ Sunrise


~ Hearty potage for a cold winter evening


1 cups dried white beans

(Cannellini, navy or Great Northern)

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 cup finely diced onions

2 diced carrots

1/2 cup diced celery or fennel

4 minced cloves garlic

1 tsp. dried red pepper flakes

2 bay leaves

8 cups organic chicken broth

4 oz. bow tie pasta

1/2 cup finely diced sun-dried tomatoes

2 cups baby spinach

1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

coarse salt & freshly ground pepper

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  • Soak bean overnight (or quick soak by placing beans in large pot of cold water to cover and bring to boil. Remove from heat, cover and let stand 1 hour). Drain.
  • Heat oil in large stockpot and saute onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and pepper flakes until vegetables are limp. Add beans, stock and bay leaves. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until beans are tender, about 1 hour.
  • Add pasta and tomatoes and cook until pasta is tender (add additional stock if necessary). Add parsley and spinach. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  • Ladle into bowls. Pass cheese and serve with loaf of good garlic bread. (4 servings
~ Sunset

Sunday, January 04, 2009


“No winter lasts forever;
no spring skips its turn.”
~ Hal Borland

~ Icy Fingers
~ Perfect comfort food for a cold winter day ... but plan ahead since the key to great flavor depends on a long marinade.
4 lbs. thick round or rump roast
coarse salt & freshly ground pepper
2 cups dry red wine
1 1/2 cups red wine vinegar
1/2 cup water
4 bay leaves
8 cloves
1 Tbsp. coarsely crushed peppercorns
1 Tbsp. coarsely crushed juniper berries*
1 Tbsp. mustard seeds
1/4 tsp. nutmeg (freshly grated best)
3 thinly sliced onions
1 cup chopped celery leaves
1 bunch chopped parsley
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
2 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup diced carrots
2 Tbsp. flour
4 tsp. sugar
3 cups strained cooking liquid
3/4 cup crushed gingersnaps
8 dried slivered pitted prunes (optional)
coarse salt & freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup sour cream (optional)
*(Penzeys Spices carries a wonderful variety of herbs and spices)
  • Rub meat well with salt & pepper. Combine wine, vinegar, water, bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns, juniper berries, mustard seeds, nutmeg, onions, celery leaves & parsley in saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat, remove and let cool.
  • Place beef in deep glass or ceramic bowl. Pour cooled marinade over beef, tightly cover and refrigerate for 2-3 days, turning at least twice each day.
  • When ready to cook, remove meat from marinade (strain through fine sieve and reserve, discarding spices & onions) and pat dry.
  • Melt butter in Dutch oven over medium-high heat and brown evenly on all sides. Remove to platter. Add onions, celery and carrots in same pan and cook until soft and lightly browned. Sprinkle with flour and cook, stirring constantly until flour begins to lightly brown. Pour in reserved strained marinade and bring to boil. Return meat to pot, cover tightly and simmer over low heat for 2-3 hours or until fork-tender. (Or bake in 350-degree oven for 2-3 hours until fork-tender).
  • Transfer meat to warmed platter. Strain cooking liquid through sieve and force vegetables through with wooden spoon. Skim off fat.
  • Melt sugar in saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until golden brown. Gradually stir in warm marinade and bring to boil. Reduce heat and stir in crushed gingersnaps, a little at at a time, and cook long enough for crumbs to dissolve and thicken the sauce (if too thick, add any remaining juices or water). Add prunes and season with salt & pepper. Stir in sour cream. Ladle part of gravy over thinly sliced meat and pass remainder in gravy boat. Great with braised red cabbage, spaetzle or potato dumplings. (8 servings)

Note: Can make ahead, cover and chill. Preheat oven to 400-degrees. Pour a bit of warmed gravy over sliced meat and bake for 15 minutes or until heated. Serve with additional warmed gravy.



3 lbs. medium potatoes

coarse salt & freshly ground pepper

2 organic eggs

1 cup flour

1/2 cup dry bread crumbs

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

  • Cook unpeeled potatoes until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain, cool slightly and peel.
  • Put potatoes through ricer and spread on paper towels to dry well.
  • Turn potatoes in large bowl. Lightly toss with salt & pepper. Make a well in center and break eggs into it.
  • Sift 3/4 flour over eggs, add bread crumbs, nutmeg and parsley. Work with hands, blending until mixture is smooth and holds together.
  • Shape into approximately 18 egg-size balls. Roll in remaining flour.
  • Bring water to boil in large saucepan. Reduce heat and drop in one dumpling at a time to fit comfortably in pan. Boil gently, uncovered, 2 minutes after rising to surface. Transfer with slotted spoon to paper towel. Serve hot with Sauerbrauten.

Friday, January 02, 2009


"May all your troubles last as long as your New Year's resolutions."
~ Joey Adams

~ Happy Birthday!

~ Happy 'Reblooming' Cymbidium

Click for more information on growing cymbidium orchids

Thursday, January 01, 2009


'The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."

~ Eleanor Roosevelt


Auld Lang Syne

by Robert Burns

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot and days of auld lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear, for auld lang syne,

We'll take a cup o' kindness yet

For auld lang syne.


"Auld Lang Syne" is a Scottish poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and set to the tune of a traditional folk song (Roud # 6294). It is well-known in many English-speaking countries, and it is often sung to celebrate the start of the new year at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Day.
The song's (
Scots) title may be translated into English literally as "old long since", or more idiomatically, "long long ago"[1] or "days gone by". The phrase "Auld Lang Syne" is also used in similar poems by Robert Ayton (1570–1638), Allan Ramsay (1686-1757) and James Watson (1711) as well as older folk songs predating Burns.[2] In his retelling of fairy tales in the Scots language, Matthew Fitt uses the phrase “In the days of auld lang syne” as the equivalent of “Once upon a time.” In Scots syne is pronounced like the English word sign — IPA: [sain] — not [zain] as many people pronounce it. The last line of the chorus is frequently mis-sung by crowds and untrained groups as "for the sake of Auld Lang Syne". This is partly because the words themselves are not understood, but also because it has become common practice. It is rarely, if ever, incorrectly performed by trained choirs." (Wikipedia: )