Thursday, November 19, 2009

Evening Musings

Hubby's band is here, rehearsing for a St. Andrew's service and the December contra dance. It's fun to have them all here. I like reading or writing while I listen. Makes a calm, relaxing evening.

This month's Fine Cooking magazine has an article on cooking with parsnips AND one on making good fudge. How could I resist!? There's even a parsnip custard pie recipe. Might try it *after* the holidays.

It's the time of year when I do more cooking and baking. I roasted all the pumpkins I grew and put half in the freezer. Used the other half to try two new pumpkin bread recipes. The best one was in November's Martha Stewart Living. It called for sage in addition to the usual spices, which didn't appeal to me at all. So I left out the sage, doubled the amount of pumpkin and spices, and put in toasted chopped walnuts. Made the bread heavier but it's got a lot of good pumpkin taste. This recipe calls for browned butter, which adds a wonderful rich flavor. I'll definitely be using it again!

Hubby is working on the no-knead bread-making method. Tonight was his second try. It smells wonderful! Turned out with a good crust, nice taste, and a bit lighter in texture than the first loaf, which was very heavy and dense. This one rose for 24 hours. He's thinking next time he'll let it go for at least 36 hours.

The days are getting shorter. Harder and harder to get up in the mornings, it's so dark at 6:30. But I'm still getting to the gym two or three days a week. I don't always get to Aikido, unfortunately. Evenings are difficult since I need to work overtime more often than not. Anyway, I've worked up to jogging for more than three-fifths of a mile now. I walk one lap, jog three, walk about a quarter-lap, run another half, and walk the rest. I haven't quite got to the point where I can run three and a half all at once. It's more a stamina thing than tired legs. A good thing to work on. Doesn't seem like a long distance, but it's more than I could do a few months ago.

I've done about half of my holiday shopping. I haven't even thought about Christmas cards yet. Better get busy I suppose! We have some stored away that we've bought on sale, so I don't need to get any more. We'll be seeing my parents in December so I need to think of something for them, even though I've already given Mom her present. Maybe I'll make them pumpkin bread.

I'm looking forward to getting away, much as I like our snow. We're going on a whale-watching trip in the Channel off Ventura. It's a good time of year for it so we should see lots of wildlife. We also want to go to the new Getty again, as well as the Huntington Library, and go see the Rose Parade floats the day after New Year's. They're much more impressive in real life, far more detailed than you can see on TV. I wanted to go to the Museum of the Southwest, but it's partly closed for renovation, so maybe next time. There's plenty of other things to do. We're especially looking forward to walking on the beach and eating fresh seafood.

Busy weekend coming up, with our St. Andrews dance, dinner and ceilidh on Saturday. Hopefully we'll have a good-sized group and it'll be lots of fun. I was going to recite a poem, but I never got around to finding the one I wanted, so I may not do anything for my party piece.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Winter Comes....

It's snow-cold. Smells like snow too. Cloudy and blustery. S'posedly 90% chance of 1" of snow overnight. Lows for the next few nights in the 20's. Brr.

We had a few flakes fall earlier this evening, then it turned to rain. But it's snowing again, and I'm hoping to wake up to whiteness!

Lots to do these next few days. Scrub the bathroom walls before they're painted. Make sure the plaster patches are dry and ready to paint. Clean out the pantry and wipe down the shelves. Vacuum, dust, put things away. Send off all the accumulated boxes of things w/ UPS labels!
I have to use FedEx for my work documents. And they don't do UPS. So I have to drive to a different place....and that just doesn't get done. Too much work to do these past months.

Picked the last 10 or so raspberries yesterday. They weren't as soft and juicy as the ones that ripened in actual sunlight, but some were ok. Strange to be picking raspberries into November. The tomatoes are gone. Used the last couple dozen of the ones I picked to ripen indoors for tomato sauce last weekend. I pulled up my first parsnip yesterday. As much as I think I've dug over and broken up the soil, I still get these gnarled Old Man Willow parsnips. Ah well, they taste good. Maybe next year I'll use one of the half-barrels with new compost.

Three of my asparagus crowns did very well this year. The fourth one is gone. The survivors didn't produce much in the way of spears to eat, but they grew, put out fronds and generally increased in size. I still have to get out there and weed that area, but I have great hopes for next year's crop. It won't be huge, but I might get one meal's worth!

We're starting to think about the holidays. We'll probably have family over for Thanksgiving Day dinner. Not sure of everyone yet, but it'll be at least six or more. It will be a quiet Christmas I think. We're planning to go south. It'll make a nice change from our usual routine. I also want to go to a Gardens Aglow evening at the Botanic Garden this year. It was fun last time. And I'm looking forward to snowshoeing this winter. We're hoping to get some friends to come try it.