local strawberries

We have a strawberry stand on a busy east-west thoroughfare on the south side of town. They keep decent hours, stay relatively busy, have so-so strawberries, and are expensive.

strawberry standWest and south of town on a country road is a strawberry stand that keeps irregular hours, grows strawberries on site, has the best, sweetest strawberries you can imagine, and charges half the price of the other stand.

You have to time it right, however.

On Friday Terry and I were going to have lunch at Jersey Mike’s. Terry wanted to stop by Lowe’s afterwards. And we were going to get strawberries. We left ten minutes earlier for lunch than the original plan. After lunch Terry said we could do Lowe’s later. We headed for the rural strawberry stand. I was one of the last to get strawberries before they shut down for the day. Had we waited another ten minutes to go to lunch and/or gone to Lowe’s we would have been out of luck. Instead we came home with a three-pack of fresh, sweet strawberries picked literally just minutes before.



Secular Music Friday: Garden Song (Inch by Inch)

Well, sacred for me. I’ve shared this before, but it’s well worth revisiting every so often. I miss Pete a lot.

replacing my Misto

The Misto has been a key kitchen tool for me for a number of years. It allows me to spray olive oil on pans, dishes, or food rather than pouring it from the bottle. I really can’t live without it. The problem is that a Misto only lasts for so long.

MistoOne time I replaced a worn-out Misto with a different brand that had a clear bottle. When I pumped up the pressure so I could spray the olive oil it exploded. All over the kitchen.

Never again. I tried to clean my most recent Misto after it started putting out a flat stream instead of spraying. I soaked it in soapy water and then cleaned it out by spraying clear water through it. It started leaking.

That’s OK. I can only expect a Misto to last a couple of years and that one did.

So I replaced it and have moved on. But I have my Misto, so critical to my cooking.

chicken stir fry with peanut sauce

This recipe for chicken stir fry with peanut sauce violates the basic rules of stir fry in a wok.

stir fryThe instructions say to cook the chicken first, take it out and cut it up, cook the bell pepper and broccoli, make the peanut sauce, and put it in along with the cut-up chicken.

A stir fry guru such as Grace Young will tell you that your wok needs your full attention once it is hot. You can’t go off and do other things once you start cooking in it. So I cut up the chicken and bell pepper first and made the peanut sauce. I used frozen broccoli florets, so that wasn’t an issue. I cooked the chicken, added the bell pepper and then the broccoli. Finally I added the peanut sauce. (I admit that I did turn away to clean the cutting board.)

This turned out really well. The peanut sauce was excellent.

Life at the Dakota

Life at the Dakota coverLife at the Dakota: New York’s Most Unusual Address
Stephen Birmingham
Open Road Media (December 1, 2015),  243 pages
originally published in 1979
Kindle edition $6.00, Amazon paperback $12.20
Purchased during an Early Bird Books sale for $2.99

This book tells you more than you would ever want to know about a building.

The Dakota is well known as being the residence of a number of famous people. It’s probably best known as the home of John Lennon and Yoko Ono, sadly because it was there in 1980 that Lennon was killed. This book was originally published in 1979, so it refers to “the Lennons” (as Birmingham rather oddly calls the couple) in the present tense.

John and Yoko were, however, just two of many famous residents. Among the original tenants in the nineteenth century were the Steinway and Schirmer families, Gustav Schirmer being, of course, the founder the music publishing company that bears his name. Residents of the building included Boris Karloff, Jose Ferrer and his wife Rosemary Clooney, Gwen Verdon, Judy Garland, Betty Friedan, Lauren Bacall, Leonard Bernstein, Rex Reed, Jack Palance, and playwright William Inge. Roberta Flack was the building’s first and, at the time the book was written, only black resident.

Life at the Dakota is not just about the people, although there are plenty of gossipy stories. It’s really a biography of the building. Birmingham describes the design, architecture, finances, electrical infrastructure, and plumbing of the building. It was interesting to read about how the building converted from rental apartments to a cooperative in 1960.

There are some fascinating passages in Life at the Dakota, but in the end the book is really too much of a good building.

not so sweet

blackcurrant travel sweetsI used to have quite the sweet tooth. I would keep a bag of snickers in the drawer in the bedroom for munching in the evening. But some months back I didn’t replace the bag when I finished it. That tin of blackcurrant travel sweets on the kitchen counter? I hardly ever touch it.

At a recent Access Control Committee meeting the owner of our security service brought pastry. I declined, until the meeting dragged on and I needed something to eat. It was a chocolate-covered, cream-filled pastry, not really an éclair, and I didn’t enjoy it all that month.

Seems my body is making some good decisions.

Sacred Music Friday: Christ the Lord is Risen Today

an uplifting rendition with orchestra, choir, and organ