Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Blizzard Day

Today . . . .
  • Bud had a fever and spent much of the time napping . . . 
  • except when he was building a Lego (The Tower of Orthanc) from the Magic Trunk;
  • Sis also had a Lego (the Corsairs' ship from LOTR);
  • but she also spent a ton of time outside with the neighbor girl across the street sledding down neighbor's yard, working on yesterday's fort, building a tunnel in the snowbank, making snowballs, drinking homemade hot chocolate, playing with the other kids from the cul de sac;
  • we watched Guardians of the Galaxy, again (we watched it and Maleficent the last couple of nights);
  • Bud and Mama played Infinity, then Sis and Mama played Infinity;
  • I crocheted using the Crazy Stitch a blanket for the downstairs cats;
  • I snuggled with Patron, who slept behind my knees on the couch;
  • Mama cleared the driveway and sidewalk with snowblower and cleared off our cars;
  • I made chicken stock from yesterday's baked chicken and then made chicken noodle soup;
  • we all nibbled on yesterday's ANZAC biscuits (which are delicious but too spread out--something went wonky with the recipe; I'll post it later);
  • we talked to Gommie about her injection (for her newly-diagnosed spinal stenosis; it went very well) and then about Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit, which she is studying up on to be ready for her visit in two weeks;
  • and we're slowly getting ready to resume a somewhat limited schedule tomorrow--Sis will go to school (which is delayed two hours) and Bud will be home with me trying to get better; only Mama will do her usual work thing.
So, a pretty good blizzard for us.  Besides if there had been a ton more snow, Mama would have had a lot more work and we probably would've gotten stir crazy from more days in the house.  This was just about perfect.

Blizzard Update

The blizzard arrived but not with the strength expected; the worst went further east.  So, while it was and still is windy and snowing ( I wouldn't want to drive in it. And we're glad that Mama and the kids are home) , the accumulation is definitely under a foot.  In fact, in some places, like at the fire hydrant and on the bench and on the sidewalk under the tree, there isn't even any snow. Still pretty and enough for snow ice cream but not too much work ( shoveling out a fire hydrant from two feet of snow can be a ton of work. And you can't use the snowblower.  So we got lucky.)

In the photo below, you can sort of see it coming off the roof and how it stuck to the window and the side of the house but also how there isn't too much accumulation on the deck, swing set, and ground near the little fence.

Monday, January 26, 2015


We're all home safe and ready for the storm.  Fully stocked and prepped, we have arts and crafts, movies, Legos, games, and such.  We're actually looking forward to all the accumulation, anywhere from one to two feet, but not to the wind which might gust above 70 mph.  School has been canceled for tomorrow and, eventually I'm guessing, for Wednesday.  I'll keep you posted, unless we lose power.

Sunday, January 25, 2015


Inspired by Heather Bruggeman
Flowers inspired by Heather Bruggeman
Most flowers inspired by Quaddles-Roost

Something Snowy This Way Comes

When I went to bed, the forecast read 6-12 inches.

When I woke up, it had doubled--one to two feet!!!!

We're having snow!   Probably a blizzard.

I've posted a lot about snow and preparations--how to get ready, what to do in it for fun (and here), and just general tips for novices--and we're checking off our list as we get things done.  Mama is out with the kids at the store; I'm home with a tight back (nothing serious) and a healthy regard for black ice.  The trickiest part for us is if we lose power.  We don't have a generator (we think about it every season and then decide we don't need it.)  But we have a propane stove to use on our easily ventilated porch, if need be.  Otherwise, we have lots of blankets.  (Our chimney is old and not up to code for using--the flue is too narrow for both a fire and the exhaust from the furnace and it would be too expensive to widen it including altering the roof; but, if there's no electricity to run the furnace, I suppose we could light a fire.  That would be last resort.  No worries, we keep the chimney clean and in working order.  And have carbon monoxide monitors on all floors.)

For now, we're just waiting and taking bets on when it comes, how much, and how it affects school. The kids are dreaming of days off and mountains of snow.  I'll be sure to post pictures.

Unless we lose power!

Saturday, January 24, 2015


These good wishes are a tad belated but no less sincere:  we all wish you a wonderful birthday and a fabulous year!  We love you!!!

The Miracle Marinara

I've heard of the miracle tomato sauce for a few years now--the one by Marcela Hazan, the one that has butter.  So today, I made a pot, with Bud's help.  Only a big can of San Marzano tomatoes, a yellow onion, and almost a full stick of butter.  Forty-five minutes later and it was dinner.  Incredible!  Didn't need garlic, or oregano, basil, or parsley.  Not peppers, mushrooms, or meat.  And we ate the whole pot!   Bud even ate the leftover stewed onion.  So, if you need a simple, bright tomato sauce to grace pasta, this is the one.

Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onions
Via Smitten Kitchen, Adapted from Marcela Hazan’s Essentials of Italian Cooking

Serves 4 as a main course; makes enough sauce to lightly coat most of a pound of spaghetti

28 ounces (800 grams) whole peeled tomatoes from a can (San Marzano, if you can find them)*
5 tablespoons (70 grams) unsalted butter
1 medium-sized yellow onion, peeled and halved
Salt to taste

Put the tomatoes, onion and butter in a heavy saucepan (it fit just right in a 3-quart) over medium heat. Bring the sauce to a simmer then lower the heat to keep the sauce at a slow, steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until droplets of fat float free of the tomatoes. Stir occasionally, crushing the tomatoes against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat, discard the onion, add salt to taste and keep warm while you prepare your pasta.
Serve with spaghetti, with or without grated parmesan cheese to pass.

Our Magician

Bud has entered his magic phase.  Always latent, it blossomed into a full phase right before and then because of the Big Apple Circus.  It consists mainly of card tricks, though now he's also making coins move around.  He has a few books, follows some sites like ellusionist, and trades tricks with his friends at school; they do card tricks during indoor recess.  He even makes up some of his own.   And while I might be able to figure out some of his tricks either because I know them or the deception is not completely hidden, there have been a few card ones that absolutely stump me.  (We're teaching him not to show us again and again, which would give us a chance to figure it out.)  And he'll get smoother with his sleights of hand.  What he absolutely has down is the magician's showy, distracting banter.  "Pick a card, any card.  See I have nothing in my hand.  Now, I haven't touched the deck since you cut it.  I couldn't have done a thing . . . ."  And he just looks in your eye and smiles and moves his hands around.  And even if I know the trick, I fall for the show every time.


Friday, January 23, 2015

Everything's Coming Up Kumquats!

While keeping an eye on the forecast for 2-6" of snow tomorrow and prepping for said snow, I did a few fun things around the house.  Mainly, I candied a pint of kumquats I'd picked up in Flushing over the weekend.  I have a soft spot for the orange-y fruit, intrigued by the bitter pulp and sweet skin, so backwards from other citrus.  I also like the extremely sweet candied kumquats we sometimes have at Chinese New Year's, with it's shell-like coating of sugar crystals on the outside.  Today was my first attempt at candying citrus since a terrible mishap almost twenty years ago, when I burned a pot, the peel I'd labored over, and my own ego.  Ugh.  

But today it worked!  And they're so much better than the crystallized ones.  They retain some of their bitterness which provides an unexpected sophistication to them.  I have a whole jar full of them  . . . I can see them paired with vanilla ice cream, cream fraiche, or maybe even cheesecake!

And while I waited for the kumquats to boil (twice in water, twice in sugar), I doodled on my recyclable coffee cup!

Candied Kumquats
I got some kumquats in Flushing but knew I’d never finish them all, so I looked up how to candy them and found this recipe in the NYTimes.  My last experience candying citrus ended with a burned pot, burned peel, and lots of tears—almost 20 years ago.  But today’s attempt went well.  They aren’t sugary sweet like the ones you buy in Chinatown, instead keeping some of the ir bitterness for an unexpectedly sophisticated flavor.

1 pint kumquats or 4 Meyer lemons, washed and destemmed
1 ½ cups sugar

In a small saucepan, cover the fruit with cold water and bring to a boil. Drain. Cover the fruit with cold water and bring to a boil again. Drain and set aside.
In the same saucepan, combine 1 cup water and the sugar, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Pierce each piece of fruit 2 or 3 times with a paring knife. Drop the fruit into the sugar syrup and continue to simmer for 15 minutes for kumquats or 20 minutes for lemons.
Remove from heat and leave the fruit steeping in the syrup unrefrigerated for 8 hours or overnight.
Bring the syrup and fruit to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes. Cool and store in a glass jar. Fruit and syrup will keep in the refrigerator for 3 months.