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).

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