Sunday, February 22, 2015

Winter games...

As always in life, regardless of season, this winter brought births and losses.  Beautiful times.  Frustrating moments.  I've ellipticalled more often than run outdoors; usually 4 times a week.  I've dealt with mercifully brief bouts of rashes and mouth ulcers.  Work has been busy.  Lots of little critters sick with flu and other bugs, yet still fun with the exuberant spirit of childhood. For instance:  my greeting to a particularly bright 4 year old.... "Oh, no!  Are you feeling bad?"  Impressive snorting and dramatic swallowing of mucus is exhibited, followed by careful placement of busy, slightly gooey hands about 1 1/2 inches apart.  "Not real bad.  I'm only this much sick!"

 There was winter weather.....
Ice, ice baby!!!
Sewing...two practice dresses to get acquainted with my serger and this pattern so as to be brave enough to address print placement and cut into the fabric Ruthie gave me....  But, I did it!!!


Dinners with friends...
Playing with ever...but with large thanks to a dear one who gave me:  World Spice at Home, by Beville and Hearne.  Love it!  Thus far it has produced:
Five Seed Roasted Potatoes...which I really liked:
2 #'s small potatoes   2 T olive oil    1 t  mustard seeds   1 t nigella seeds
1 t cumin seeds     1/2 t ajwain seed     1/2 t fennel seeds     1 t Kosher salt
Oven at 425.  Blanch potatoes for 8 minutes, drain.  Toast the spices in oil until you make a big mess. Toss potatoes with spices and oil.  Spread in one layer on baking sheet and roast for 20-30 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Yummy.  (Though I must confess, those pictured are only 4 Seed Potatoes, as I did not have the ajwain seeds at that time!  But, I do now!!!) 

Rosie's new fav:  Honey-glazed Eggplant with Ras el Hanout...
Ras el Hanout is a blend of spices (22 in my cookbook!!!) that originally, spice merchants in North African bazaars combined, each making it a little differently, and sold as "head of the shop"!  Luckily, you can find the blend ready made in shops like World Market. 
1/2 c honey     1/2 c olive oil     1/4 c white wine vinegar     1 T ras el hanout
1/2 t Kosher salt     4 small or 2 large eggplants, cut in half moon slices
Whisk ingredients, except eggplants, together.  Toss the eggplant slices in mixture and let sit, stirring occasionally to coat, for an hour or so.  Sear in single layer in hot skillet, though you have to be careful not to let the honey burn, flipping pieces from side to side, until golden and soft.  You will probably have to do this in batches.  Place them on a greased baking sheet as they are done.  Once all are browned, drizzle any remaining sauce over.  They can be done ahead by several hours to this point.  When ready to in hot oven (400) until sizzling.  Yummy.  Sweet and spicy!

More Sewing with skirts made for Roo...
Five Days at Memorial, by Sheri Fink.
The story of that hospital and its occupants during Katrina.  Let's just say: it did not go well!  Here folks had the worst outcomes of the many caregivers and patients who found themselves trapped and desperate during that horrible storm. Suffice it to say, that I can almost (ALMOST, mind you!) comprehend the thought process behind the alleged "euthanasia" that went on at Memorial better than I can tolerate the complete abandonment of care that so many of the doctors and nurses at that facility adopted...from the start!!!  Hell, we send medics into war zones and THEY manage!!!!  It is an incredibly researched, well put together story...but, don't read it unless you're willing to be supremely frustrated!!!

The Immortal Evening, by Stanley Plumly.
The story of a legendary dinner in 1817, hosted by the painter Benjamin Robert Haydon and attended by John Keats, William Wordsworth, Charles Lamb and sundry others....all seated in a large room with Haydon's painting, Christ's Entry into Jerusalem, hanging behind them.  With the guests not only present for dinner, but as part of the crowd in the painting as well.  The book required a great deal more work than a normal read in order for me to appreciate the characters and events. For instance, I learned:  John Keats, think Ode to a Grecian Urn, was a licensed surgeon, and earned his keep that way.  However, he suffered bouts of depression fearing he would never be a poet and died at the age of 26 from TB.  Wordsworth [Remember...I wandered lonely as a cloud...???] was a long-lived pompous old goat who brooked no interruptions or criticism, dying at age 80.  Lamb was a writer and essayist who stuttered but paid bills for himself and his crazy ass sister who killed their mom with a kitchen knife when they were in their early 20's, through his work in an accountant's office.  He never married and took care of his sister his entire life.  I might have to read some of his writing.  He was quite witty and one of his essays is titled:  "Lawyers, I suppose,were children once."  Joseph Ritchie, another MD, stopped by the gathering just before his adventure to find the source of the River Niger during which he fell sick and died.  And then there's Haydon.  A man deeply in love with his wife and children, but the worst provider EVER, focused as he was on his desire for gigantic canvases painted with religious histories...that NO ONE wanted to buy, rather than on paintings of the day and portraits at which he excelled!  He spent time in debtors prison on at least three different occasions.  Shockingly, his plight worsened after every visit.  He was a very good, popular writer/lecturer and a sought after dinner guest being well read and entertaining in this time before TV and internet.  He finally did himself a fashion fitting how he his studio after his last showing had done less well than PT Barnum's exhibition of Tom Thumb. Initially - unsuccessfully - shooting himself in the head, followed by cutting his neck in one direction...again unsuccessful....finally, in the other he attained his desired end.  However, he will be forever owed a debt of gratitude that I cannot repay.  His admiration for the Elgin Marbles, hidden away in an old barn and then in a backyard garden, led him to petition for and succeed in their preservation as well as the creation of the British Museum!  A more magnificent place I don't think I will ever see.  (Yes, better than the Louvre!)  While I can certainly argue that the Elgin Marbles belong in Greece, at least they are not languishing, hidden from all, in a barn!!! So....not sure if this sounds like a recommendation....but it is!

There was a re-read of All Over But the Shoutin', by Rick Bragg.  'Cause that boy can tell a tale and it sounds like home.

And the discovery of a tiny little book, Three Men in a Boat, by Jerome Jerome. I know, his parents didn't like him. Maybe it's just me, but I found it funny as hell.  Yeah, probably just me.  But...give it a won't waste too much of your time.

There was writing....  Lots of writing. (More to come on that one!) Organizing and researching of melanoma articles.  My personal cookbook - re-done - as it was suffering from all manner of scribbles and notes stuck in.  A French Cookbook from a little place my friends visited years ago...left in my care to translate with almost finished.  Sorry, Kay!!!  Bet you thought it had been swallowed up!!!  But, no!!  It has been well cared for and will soon be done!  And, Eric...your question has not been ignored!!!  I have been diligently putting together information on anti-PDL1: MEDI4663 and MPDL3280A.  A post is coming soon, I promise.

As more scans and another Tampa journey approaches, Spring will come, we will March Forth, and all the ice will be but glistening, fragile memories....
Happy matter the season - love, c

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