achievement unlocked: bowl of lemons

 

 

img_3049At some point in the last few months, I came across a list post that amused me enough that I not only remembered it, but referred back to it a few times: 15 Tips That Will Trick Your House Guests Into Thinking You Have Your Shit Together . In particular, I liked this item: “8. Get the biggest bowl in your house and fill it with lemons.” It may not be the biggest bowl in my house, but I did indeed fill (sort of) a (somewhat) big bowl with (actual) lemons. Sadly, I neglected to properly highlight this achievement to my dinner guests.img_3336

Once again, I’m too tired from a long day of food shopping and food prep to come up with a new thing for which to be grateful. I’m grateful again for sleep (which I’m about to achieve), reading (which I may manage to do for a few minutes before sleep), and food (which I enjoyed eating following the preparation).

Tomorrow, I have more food preparation ahead of me, in anticipation of more guests on Thursday. I may not manage to get everything organized enough to convince my guests that I have my shit together, but at least I’ll have the bowl of lemons.

a little fried

I’m too tired tonight to write, and am turning in early. I had an extra 3 children last night and today, and am feeling a bit fried. Instead of anything of substance, here is a photo of some of the pancakes I made this morning.

I find myself feeling grateful for some of the things I have already enumerated (especially the sleep one), so I will attempt to serve up a double helping of gratitude tomorrow. (I didn’t want to skip posting, though, as I know it is too easy to let one skipped day turn into…months. And there is still too much to say.)

How do you like them apples?

Third day in on my attempt to resume daily blogging, and I nearly forgot to post. This does not bode well…

In any case, I remembered. And I found a photo on my phone to share. These are some apples that the kids and I picked a couple of weekends ago on an idyllic weekend afternoon. We picked quite a few varieties of apples, and it’s interesting to see how varied they still appear, even after being peeled. (We also bought an apple-peeling gadget, that also slices the apples into spirals. It was quite fun, and made a cool tangle of peels. It was also fun to snack on the peels.)

Tonight I am grateful to have access to an abundance of healthy food for myself and my family.

happiness is not a potato

No mockery in this world ever sounds to me so hollow as that of being told to cultivate happiness. What does such advice mean? Happiness is not a potato, to be planted in mould, and tilled with manure. Happiness is a glory shining far down upon us out of Heaven. She is a divine dew which the soul, on certain of its summer mornings, feels dropping upon it from the amaranth bloom and golden fruitage of Paradise. (Charlotte Bronte, Villette)


Happiness is not a potato.

Close to 2 years ago, I was preparing to roast some vegetables for dinner. I washed a potato, and started to cut out some of the eyes that looked like they would be a bit tough, when, to my surprise, I had the impression that the potato was looking back at me. Yes, we all know that potatoes have eyes, but they don’t usually have mournful eyes. Further, I realized that the “eye” I was cutting into with the point of my knife was actually more like the potato’s nostril. Filled with remorse, I stopped to take some photos of my sad, sad potato. (And then I continued to cut it up and put it in a roasting pan.)
Some days later, I came across the quote above, by Charlotte Bronte. Indeed, happiness is not a potato, and I had the photographic proof.

If anything, as far as I can tell, sadness is a potato.

Sad potato is sad.¹

While perhaps not with the same frequency as my sharing of leaves, this is far from the first time I’ve shared vegetables with faces. In fact, 3 years ago, a butternut squash and I declared November 21st to be International Day of the Odd Vegetable.² Together, the squash and I reminisced about an eggplant we once knew.

How about you? Have you come across any produce with personality?

—-

¹ That’s what I was imagining I’d call a post about this potato.
² Alternately, The Day of Peculiar Produce.

Stately guardian statues near the Forbidden City

When I visited mainland China in 2012 with my cousin for a conference in Shanghai, we also made a quick trip to Beijing so that we could make an excursion to see the Great Wall. Even though it was a short trip, we also wanted to see some of Beijing, including the Forbidden City. Between a hole in the wall place where we had breakfast and the Forbidden City, we encountered this impressive building:

Stone guardian lions are quite a frequent sight in China, but nowhere else did I see a guardian duck. This little (well, actually, it was quite a large duck) welcomes visitors to the Quanjude Roast Duck Restaurant. (I’d never have remembered that, but I can make out the English text on the very shiny golden revolving door.) The internets inform me that this is quite a famous restaurant, and possibly the home of the original Peking duck. We did not enter this colorful building, so I can’t speak for the interior, or comment on the quality of the food. I can only vouch for the memorability of the duck.

duck heads in a row

I’m on a roll with my ducks these days. Not that I have any actual ducks. I do, however, have plenty of photos of ducks.

This photo is one that strikes me as funny, probably because it’s not a sight likely to be seen in the US. I saw this display of duck heads on my trip to China in 2012, at a food stall. I believe it was in the city of Hangzhou, which is near Shanghai.

Most Americans prefer to dissociate the meat and poultry they eat from the animals they come from. Typically, these purchases are made in a supermarket, with cuts of meat and poultry wrapped in cellophane, denuded of as many signs of having once had feet and faces as possible. Clearly this is not the case in many parts of the world. I still remember being somewhat shocked as a kid when we moved to France, and encountered butcher shops and market stalls with whole animals hanging from hooks, and being disturbed that the chickens we purchased still had feet and head attached.

In any case, it seems that in China, duck heads are a fairly popular food dish.

gingerbread composition

It has become a tradition for me to bake gingerbread in the winter. On more than one occasion, I have been quite taken with the way the various dry ingredients compose themselves the bowl: the various spices making dark patterns on the lighter flour mixtures. Here are photos from three different times I made gingerbread in recent years.
Here, I seem to have added the spices from lighter color to dark, with ginger, then cinnamon, then cloves.


Here, the spices clumped up, looking like miniature boulders on a bed of sugar gravel.


Here, the cinnamon perfectly held the shape of the measuring spoon.

(And no, I haven’t had time for baking yet this year. I’ve been too busy cooking up perception experiments and writing abstracts. Which are not nearly as tasty.)