Any Day

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“On a day
when the wind is perfect,
the sail just needs to open and the world is full of beauty.
Today is such a
day.”
― Jalaluddin Rumi

Could be any day, if we choose to make it so.

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Easing Into Summer

 

Humidity has arrived. Subtle still, but palpable. That slight (and soon, not so slight) heaviness in the air that means summer near the water.

Not many umbrellas on the Seacrest side of Old Silver Beach. That will change more quickly than some of us might like. Still the quiet time before schools let out and vacations begin in earnest.

Lobster rolls for dinner at home. Chart Room Saturday night reservation passed on to other younger revelers. No longer enamored by the crowds and noise. Joined the ranks of the old guard for whom a Chart Room lunch has more appeal. The old saying, “To all things there is a season,” has a lot of truth to it. Except for lobster rolls. They remain perfect in any season!

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Sam’s Litterbox Challenge

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Sam is almost seventeen. He’s basically a good cat. Howls a lot, but we’ve learned to live with that. Has a tendency to seek out my son-in-law’s clothes and pee on them, so we’ve learned (the hard way) to keep their bedroom door closed when they visit. But it was his tendency to spray partly in and partly over the side of the litterbox that was starting to push me over the edge.

Cleaning a puddle under the box almost daily was a bit much. Telling myself that he’s old and not as careful as he once was was only going so far. I tried buying a much bigger box. Didn’t help. Then, I tried putting an absorbent pad or layers of paper towels under the box, but that was still a mess to clean up. Frank built a three sided box with high sides. That kept the pee inside the area of the box, but it still had to be mopped up.

Current solution. Encasing the whole area, high sided box, and under the litter in the actual litterbox in a big trash bag. Now, when he sprays or teeters on the edge, partly in and partly out, the spray slides down the slippery trash bag back into the confines of the box.

After a couple of successful days, we’re considering this a qualified success. I say qualified because Sam may be quietly plotting revenge. I take back the quietly part. Sam doesn’t do anything quietly. He’s sitting next to me as I type this, little head raised, yelling that I’m slow getting downstairs to get his morning warmed milk.

 

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Handful of Herbs

Summer in a bowl.
A shower
of herbs
still warm
from the sun
tossed into
seasonal greens.
Shreds
of tarragon
and basil
and oregano
and parsley
elevating
simple greens.
A flavor burst
in every bite.

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Most Requested Recipe

 

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This recipe requires a yearly update. It’s that good! It’s one of those simple recipes that you will find yourself making over and over. Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, peaches all work beautifully. Choice determined by whatever is ripe and ready at the farm stand or market.

This cake is very similar in taste and consistency to strawberry shortcake, but it’s baked in a 9″ pie pan. All you have to do is cut it into wedges, top with whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream and you have a great dessert. The following recipe is somewhat adapted. The original recipe caught my eye in a Penzey’s Spice catalog over a year ago. Since then, I’ve made it with blueberries and peaches, in addition to strawberries. I plan to make it with raspberries this year when the local berries are ripe.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 C all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
6 TBS butter, softened
1 C sugar
1 egg
1/2 C milk ( I use 1/4 C sour cream and 1/4 C 1% milk )
1 tsp. vanilla
1 lb. strawberries ( cut the small ones in half and the larger ones in quarters )
2 TBS sugar for sprinkling on top

Method:

1. Preheat oven to 350; grease a 9″ pie pan with butter.
2. Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.
3. Add the egg, milk and vanilla and mix to combine.
4. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt. With the mixer on low, add the dry mixture.
5. Put the batter in the greased pie pan. Arrange the strawberries (cut side down) very close together to cover the batter. Sprinkle with sugar.
5. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes; reduce to 325 and bake for an additional hour. The cake should be firm to the touch.

This cake is seriously simple and seriously good!  The blueberry version is even easier. You just pour them on. No slicing required.

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Olive Bread

 

 

I’ve been trying various additions to the basic recipe in Alexandra Stafford’s amazing cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs. Adding a half cup of chopped kalamata olives produces a total winner.

The original recipe for basic peasant bread is sized to produce two loaves. I’ve adapted the recipe to make one loaf. It could easily be doubled and baked in two one-quart bowls.

Ingredients: 

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/8 teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 cup chopped kalamata olives
1 cup lukewarm water
Softened butter, for greasing

Method:

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, and instant yeast, and olives. Add the water. Using a rubber spatula, mix until the water is absorbed and the ingredients form a sticky dough.
2. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until the dough has doubled in bulk.
3. Preheat oven to 425° F. Grease a 1-quart oven-safe bowl, like Pyrex, with softened butter—be generous. Using a fork, deflate the dough by releasing it from the sides of the bowl and pulling it toward the center. Rotate the bowl quarter turns as you deflate, turning the mass into a rough ball.
4. Slide the dough into the greased bowl. Let the dough rise on the countertop near the oven (or another warm, draft-free spot) for about 20 minutes, until the top of the dough just crowns the rim of the bowl.
5. Transfer the bowl to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375° F and bake for 20-22 minutes more, until evenly golden all around. Remove the bowl from the oven and turn the loaf out onto a cooling rack. Let the loaf cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting.

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Elusive Sunshine

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Out early
in the morning,
camera in hand, 
on a quest
to capture sunshine.
An elusive entity
this soggy spring.
The world is lush
and green.
Its thirst quenched 
by the generous gift
of water.
But it’s June.
Time for sun
to coax
the flowers
and herbs
and vegetables
and people
into flourishing. 

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