Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A St. Patrick's Day Jell-O Dessert for You

There's something special about eating foods you loved as a kid.  The last time this lime jello concoction passed my lips was probably about twenty years ago--sometime in my teen years. It was a dessert made by my grandma or mom for St. Patrick's Day, and has been a family favorite since the 50's. Tasting it again last week was like remembering something lovely I had forgotten. The top layer is whipped, chilled evaporated milk, lime jello, lime/lemon juice, and sugar, and its fluffiness just melts on your tongue. It's not a texture you'll taste often, but it's something you'll continue dreaming about once it's gone.

Lime Fluff

1 large package lime jello
1 1/4 C boiling water
1 C sugar
1/3 C lime juice
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 can carnation evaporated milk (I believe it was 12 oz; chilled a day in the fridge)
1 package chocolate wafer cookies or chocolate-covered graham crackers (the Keebler Elves make these)
1/3 C melted butter

Mix jello, water, sugar, lime and lemon juice. Let this slightly congeal in the fridge (or for a layered effect like the above picture, don't let it congeal much at all--just cool slightly in fridge). Crush cookies and mix with butter. Press into a 9x13" pan (reserve about 1/3 cup for topping). Whip the chilled evaporated milk until fluffy; fold jello mixture into the whipped milk and pour slowly into the pan with the cookie crust. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. Sprinkle the rest of the cookies over the top. Cut and serve. Serves 12-24.

Served on my grandma's grocery-store china.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Something Yellow

I've been craving a sugary butter cookie for days so today I finally made Zuckerkager (Danish Sugar Drops) from The Great Scandinavian Baking Book by Beatrice Ojakangas. The cookies turned out thin and crisp and very sugary (in a good way) and I'm trying to not eat the whole batch in one sitting.

While I was baking I discovered the manual functions on my Canon PowerShot (and I almost let the first batch of cookies burn). Here's the same photo but in sepia tone (yeah, it doesn't take much to excite me):

These pictures aren't staged. I'm not into perfection (or twee-ness) but reality, even if there are some ugly elements, such as the black cord and the box of mac and cheese in the background. However, I do try to make the picture somewhat interesting......

Nancy Drew collection (yup, I've got 'em all).

"Jesus Pansies."  (they came back to life after appearing dead for several days).

My 3-year-old took this picture. Not bad, eh?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Looking Up/ Looking Down

I have a renewed interest in photography. I happened upon the Shutter Sisters website the other day, and for August there is a theme for each day, for their "Elevate the Everyday" photo project. I decided to try it with my little point-and-shoot camera.

Vintage postcards, hanging on a mobile in my piano studio.

Blue + Lines.

Dead tree in August.

I love these little Fluxus/ Keri Smith-type projects: the art of the everyday; simplicity over complexity; d.i.y.; anti-commercialism. I can handle these small, daily art projects in the spirit of John Cage (whose 100th birthday would have been September 5 of this year):

"[The residual purpose of art is] purposeless play. This play, however, is an affirmation of life-- not to bring order out of chaos or to suggest improvements in creation, but simply to wake up to the very life we're living, which is so excellent once one gets one's mind and one's desires out of its way and lets it act of its own accord."

and Paul Klee:

"It is a great difficulty and a great necessity to have to start with the smallest. I want to be as though new-born, knowing nothing, absolutely nothing, about Europe, ignoring poets and fashions, to be almost primitive. Then I want to do something very modest; to work out by myself a tiny formal motive, one that my pencil will be able to hold without technique. One favorable moment is enough. The little thing is easily and concisely set down. It's already done! It was a tiny, but real affair, and someday, through the repetition of such small, but original deeds, there will come one work upon which I can really build."

A three-year-old's tableau ("looking down").


This project is coinciding nicely with my media fast (can't....take....any.....more.....ridiculous/sad/ I feel much more uplifted reading Hula Seventy's blog.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Hello, it's been forever. But I'd like to start posting again.

The highlights of today:

*Homemade chicken noodle soup
*The smell of freshly-cut wood at Menards
*Taking a nap on the couch

It finally feels like winter, with the temps in the teens and a light covering of snow, and fine ice crystals making the sidewalks slippery. Winter is good, but I need some wintry projects to keep me from hibernating under my down comforter all day:

To-do's this week:

*Take pictures with new Blackbird twin lens camera!
*Make granola and granola bars
*Find a good book to read (in between novels right now)
*Letters, thank-you notes, postcards, etc.
*Learn some more folk songs on guitar for E., who turned 3 last week!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Noble deeds and hot baths...

Frost in the upstairs bathroom window.

So much for new year's resolutions. I haven't done anything on my daily and weekly to-do lists yet. I feel lots of resistance for some reason this year. Instead of cutting back on sugar, at the start of the new year I ate more than I did during Christmastime. Well, actually it's tapered off a bit--I haven't been eating much sugar lately, but it takes awhile to stop craving sweets. The week of Christmas I made a double batch of sugar cookies, and these amazing Czech cookies. Then, because I canceled our New Year's Eve party, I ended up eating the chocolate Lindt truffles and raspberry Ghirardelli squares I had bought for the party. Needless to say, I had a few monstrous headaches as a result. Now I'm back down to my few bits of dark chocolate per day (if that) and maybe some honey in my tea.

Speaking of tea, I've started doing a British-sort of tea time everyday, around 3 or 4. That's when I get a little peckish anyway, and it just seems like the right thing to do. What's cozier than a cup of tea and some crumpets slathered in homemade blueberry jam? Yes, I bought some actual crumpets at Kowalski's--they are much spongier and more moist than English muffins. I made some years ago too--they are pretty easy to make if I remember correctly...

But the British tea thing may also be due to my recent reading of I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. I loved it. It's all about living in an ancient castle and the English countryside and quirky characters. Here are some of my favorite quotes:

Noble deeds and hot baths are the best cures for depression.

 "Oh, what's the use of messing about with summer clothes, anyway," she said. "I can't imagine it ever being warm again."
  "There's quite a bit of spring in the air to-night," I told her. "You go out and smell it."
  Rose never gets emotional about the seasons so she took no notice, but Topaz went to the door at once and flung it open. Then she threw her head back, opened her arms wide and took a giant breath.
  "It's only a whiff of spring, not whole lungs full," I said, but she was too rapt to listen. I quite expected her to plunge into the night, but after some more deep breathing she went upstairs to try on her tea-gown.
  "It beats me," said Rose. "After all this time, I still don't know if she goes on that way because she really feels like it, if she's acting to impress us, or just acting to impress herself."
  "All three," I said. "And as it helps her to enjoy life, I don't blame her."

We left our wraps in the hall--Topaz had lent us things to save us the shame of wearing our winter coats. There was a wonderful atmosphere of gentle age, a smell of flowers and beeswax, sweet yet faintly sour and musty; a smell that makes you feel very tender towards the past.

I watched the movie last night, which is streaming on Netflix, and I felt it was a very good adaptation. It's been a lovely diversion from all the news about the Tucson shooting (which stresses me out so much, I can't stop thinking or reading about it. My new cause is gun control.....).

Then tonight I made some chicken croquettes (which I've never made before! I always requested these for my birthday dinners when I was a kid):

I used the Joy of Cooking recipe, which was fun but slightly time-consuming as I had to make a Veloute' sauce to stir into the cooked chicken mixture. I had never made any sort of roux-sauce before so I felt very French, watching a huge pat of butter melting in the pan....

....which isn't good if you're suffering from a cold as I am now (dairy products = more snot).

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Happy 1-1-11

Happy New Year!

Shamrock plant in the window

Highlights of the day:

--hubby sick :(
--typed up some practice sheets for my music students
--made black bean soup, potato pancakes, and quinoa for supper
--cleaned up a wet spot little Elliot left on the couch
--blogging (and trying out new pictures on my banner)
--more writing (yet to do)
--stretching (yet to do)
--a teeny tiny bit of music practice (yet to do)

Very "Willa Cather/Bohemian/German/Pioneer woman to put red geraniums in window during the winter

Some fun goals for this year:

--ride a horse across (a small portion of) the Sandhills of Nebraska
--meet a new friend
--take a modern dance class
--start a singing club
--learn a little Czech (or French or Spanish or Italian or Latin or German....)
--learn "The Priest" by Joni Mitchell on guitar
--be able to do the splits at some point
--go vegan for (at least) 21 days
--take lots of pictures (film and digital; themed; ordinary)
--be able to sing spontaneous harmony
--research ancient history (biblical, Egyptian, Roman, etc...) and esoteric symbols
--gather a repertoire of polkas, waltzes, and cafe songs on accordion (play on street corner)
--swim with a dolphin (if not this year then someday....someday!)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

It's Never Too Late to be Sassy

For the last 12 hours or so I've developed a new obsession: finding back issues of Sassy magazine (which is proving to be quite futile, unless you want to spend about $20 for an issue on eBay).

It all started with looking up Kirsten Miller, my new favorite YA author (yes there is some jealousy involved...) and finding this blog she's writing based on her Kiki Strike books (which are about a group of urban grrl scouts called the Irregulars who spend their time exploring and defending the Shadow City: a series of mysterious underground rooms and tunnels underneath New York City). Anyway, from this blog, I found a post about Tavi Gevinson, a 14-year-old fashionista from Chicago who keeps this amazing blog, The Style Rookie. There was one particular post (or several, actually) about how she's obsessed with Sassy. That got me thinking about it, and wanting to look at back issues because I wasn't cool enough to read or subscribe to it when I was a teenager.

I'm feeling like I totally missed out! The more I read about it online, the more I find women of my generation who loved this magazine and say that it changed their lives.

I remember I had friends in elementary/jr. high school who subscribed to it, and I must have looked at a few issues and thought, this is way above my head. It's too cool for me. I don't get it. If I had been the person I am now I totally would have subscribed to it (not saying I'm cool now, but I get it). But unfortunately? I was a goody-two-shoes. I was first-chair flute in band. I wore Guess jean skirts with my pink oxford shirt tucked in when other girls wore shorts and tee-shirts to slumber parties. I listened to Debbie Gibson, NKOTB, showtunes, and classical music (meaning pre-20th century "classical" music). I subscribed to YM and Seventeen (but even I thought Teen magazine was too vanilla and twee). I read Nancy Drew. I never picked up Tiger Beat or hung up posters of boys on my walls (my walls were covered with ballerina and music-themed posters and paraphernalia). I loved (and wanted to be) Maria from The Sound of Music.

However, thinking back on things, maybe there was a glimmer of coolness in me. I'd sequester myself in my room (stenciled with mint-green bows across the top; a mauve homemade quilt on my bed; my pink boombox on my night stand--you know the kind I'm talking about--the ones that came in mint green, purple, and pink?) and dream up my own fashion designs, drawing them into my sketchbook (could I have been a Tavi had I grown up in a big city as opposed to a small town?). Also, mom used to let us watch MTV in elementary school, so I was hip on all the current music videos. I used to wear my mom's silk scarves around my ponytails and hoop earrings. I could play Mozart's Concerto for Two Pianos on our living room carpet (the Amadeus soundtrack played endlessly in my childhood). My grandma used to let me look at my aunt's Seventeen magazines from the 70s. I wrote tons of poems and short stories. I knew who Toulouse-Lautrec was (thanks to art-teacher mom). I was also the only girl with an asymmetrical haircut in high school.

Since I can't go back in time and listen to Sonic Youth on my record player at the height of their popularity or read copies of Sassy on my bed, I'm determined to discover what I missed out on. For some reason I need to know what my generation is about, from the point of view of Sassy. I want it to change my life. I want to be that hip kid in school wearing green tights, a purple mini skirt and plaid Doc Martens. I want to reacquaint myself with 80's and 90's indie rock (even in the 90's, in college, I wasn't listening to what my friends were listening to--i.e. Radiohead and Cake. I was listening to Joni Mitchell and Neil Young. Luckily my punk friend Margo made me a mixed tape entitled 'No more hippie shit for Chiffon').

If you or anyone you know have any back issues of Sassy, I would love to borrow or buy them from you. My childhood depends on it.