Greek Salad

A few years ago I had a little food business going from our house. Loved it! One of the many offers was a meze platter, various middle eastern appetizers. One day as someone picked up their platter, I added some Greek salad as an extra treat on the side. (We love Greek salad at our house and had some tonight:

Her response was to say how horrible the salad looked. Here I thought I would get a thank you. She also said if I ran a restaurant or deli and served this, she wouldn’t have come back.

I have never forgotten this experience and still carry it around as baggage. Every time we have a Greek salad this conversation goes through my mind.

We also had a chard/kale pie. I used to make this a lot, but like with some foods, one forgets. Then once in a while I come across the recipe or notice I have too much chard. Today I wanted to use all our chard and kale, so I chopped them up and also found a bunch of Thai basil that I hadn’t used and couldn’t think of using in anything else, so why not?

We are fully vegan now, kind of. I definitely don’t eat eggs anymore, so I replaced them in this dish with a substitute of 1 tablespoon of ground flax with 3 tablespoons of water. We really had a lot of greens, and I ended up needing 6 “eggs.”

I put all the cut up greens in a big bowl and add about a cup of chopped green onions and 2/3 cup of gluten-free flour. Mixed that.

In a measuring cup I mixed the “eggs” and let them sit for a while, then added 4 tablespoons brewer’s yeast, salt and pepper, hot pepper flakes, a bunch of garlic, and about 4 tablespoons of chopped red onions. I mixed this concoction with the greens and then fried this in a pan for 5 minutes each side, covered.

I mixed horseradish with vegan aioli and topped this on the finished pies.

These are some leftovers:

Looks like a mess but tastes good. Here is what they used to look like with the real eggs:

We had a tree cut down recently and the wood from it is stacked out front. I put two pieces aside to use for extra seating when parties are starting again. One can wish, right?

Today we came across a man in our neighborhood who was hauling away wood. We told him he can have some of ours, but that it’s pine. He said no problem, if he can carry and lift it into his truck he would do it. We still have a contract with the tree cutter who will haul it away eventually. But why not sooner, we thought.

After we got back from our walk, my seating was gone but the rest of the wood was still there. I had to laugh because why would he take only that? But what is gone is gone, and is good. And those parties I envision? If they really ever happen, I will buy seats if we’re short.

I have picked up Stephen’s sweater again and I’m making progress with knitting the front. Could be done by tomorrow, and then it’s on to the arms. After that, my least favorite part: picking up the stitches for the collar and sewing the arms on.

What is the opposite of end spurt? End crawl? That’s me, crawling to the finish line.

Wordle

What makes Wordle so addictive to me? It only happens once a day, and usually I can guess the answer within 6 tries. It becomes exciting when I can get the answer in 3 and at times even 2 tries. Never guessed the word from the start. That may be a big ask.

Stephen took advantage of this daily activity by sending me the New York Times mini crossword puzzles. And they’re growing on me. Though I refuse to tackle anything bigger than the mini ones. Of course when Stephen does the regular crosswords, I do try to supply answers to any german, french, cooking, or craft questions.

Facebook is pissing me off again. But for me it is the easiest platform to stay in touch with people. Post some recipes, updates on my private life I’m willing to share. Right now I would love to switch to this blog as a daily activity. We’ll see.

Medically, it has been up and down. Scared and relieved. So what were my potential kidney problems are ok. But kidney stones were discovered. Further tests will be done and possibly the destruction of these stones. Though I have to wonder: how long have I had them, and since they never bothered me should we leave well enough alone?

On the knitting front: I made huge progress with Stephen’s sweater right at the start. But since the best way to knit his sweater is by sitting at the table, I needed a break. My back starts hurting, and overall it gets uncomfortable.

I switched to finishing the socks that were staring at me daily and almost screaming out to finish them. Ok, Ok, I said and did just that.

While finishing those socks, other projects reared their ugly heads, projects I had been avoiding. Like the fuzzy feet slippers at Knitty. I needed to fix for Christy. They have been sitting around for a few years now. It is hard to fix felted slippers, as it turns out. Unraveling is not easy, as the yarn is stuck to itself. But i’m making progress. In another few years she’ll have her slippers back. She’s young and will get to enjoy them for another while. But full of guilt, I just knit her another pair. On the other hand, she likes the original colors, so eventually I’ll have to work this out.

What I did manage is to start 2 more pairs of socks. How does that happen? Probably the blight of every knitter. Here were two patterns and the yarn, what was I to do? How does one resist? And so easy to knit in any position without hurting the back or anything else.

Arnold the dog is not totally thrilled with me knitting. He tries to get his head between the knitting and me. He doesn’t understand what is going on. For now he’s squeezed next to me on the couch, keeping me warm. Yes, the heater could use some work, but i’m hoping to put it off until fall.

Let me share two recipes that immediately became favorites.

A bok choy with tofu recipe from the New York Times.

Ingredients:

1 pound baby bok choy, quartered lengthwise through the core
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 (14- to 16-ounce) package soft (not silken) tofu, drained and cut into 4 equal squares
6 tablespoons tahini
¼ cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon minced ginger
¼ teaspoon minced garlic
¼ cup chopped scallions (from about 1 scallion), plus more for garnish
¼ cup chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
Toasted white sesame seeds, for garnish

In a large skillet with a lid, arrange bok choy in an even layer to cover the bottom of the pan, and season with salt and pepper. Nestle the tofu pieces on top of or in between the bok choy, depending on the depth of your pan. Add ½ cup of water to the skillet and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover securely to prevent steam from escaping, reduce heat to medium and steam until bok choy is tender and tofu is warm throughout, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine tahini, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, garlic, scallions, cilantro and 1 tablespoon of water. Whisk until well blended, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Using a spatula or large slotted spoon, transfer bok choy and tofu to 4 serving plates. (Discard any remaining water in the skillet.) Spoon some of the sauce over the tofu and garnish with scallions, cilantro and sesame seeds. Serve warm.

The other recipe has a link:

Death and Dream

This morning I woke up from a most gorgeous dream. Though it was beautiful and relaxing, I was nervous about going back to sleep, afraid I might die. I would love to capture the mood and feeling of the dream but don’t think I have the words necessary to do this justice.

Together with Stephen, who was not dying but who was going to accompany me as far as he could in my process, we entered a part of town that consisted of various areas with buildings that were open to the outside, like the top decks of ships. I was given a small, very simple wheelchair that could be transformed into a flat position. Then I had the option of a cookie or drink that would help in relaxing me and preparing to die.

Even though the place was crowded, lots of dying people with their loved ones, it was all pretty calm. “Serene” would describe it pretty well. That was my feeling at first, but pretty quickly I became giddy with joy and anticipation. Then it was time to move into the next stage, as I was getting drowsy and getting closer to death. That stage had to be without Stephen. We said goodbye.

As I looked around, I noticed people had brought material goods with them. Were these to take along on the path to our deaths? Or things for the afterlife? That didn’t seem right. But some people were even carrying LPs. Perhaps this is a good idea, what if my death takes longer, what will occupy my time? Then I remembered that earlier, in another area, I had given my knitting needles away. Immediately, I returned there to ask the woman if I could have them back for a little while until it was time for my death, when I would return them. But she had already passed them on to someone else. As I was approaching this other person, Stephen showed up and gave me the most gorgeous knitting needles I’ve ever seen. They were carved out of wood, and at the ends were tiny little cups. (Cups and bowls are my weakness, I’m almost a collector.)

Though they weren’t matching sizes, I didn’t mind, because there I wouldn’t be knitting anything to be worn, it was just to while away the time until death. Heading back to the next phase area, I saw a friend who pointed to the sky, saying they were already here. Apparently the burning of the dead bodies had begun, and all the souls were transformed into little clouds in the sky, drifting away.

Earlier I had asked my brother, who was also there, where he would go after death, and he said: Mars. I asked him the direction of Mars, he pointed, and my thought was to go there too. It was as good a place as any. But when I looked at all the clouds drifting away, I couldn’t remember which direction to Mars. And then I thought it wouldn’t matter.

I turned around to see where all the little clouds were coming from, and there was a little Hansel and Gretel house with the chimney spewing out the clouds. A most beautiful gingerbread kind of house, floating in the air. I shouted and pointed to the clouds, attracting everyone’s attention. And people seemed happy with the sight.

Time to rejoin the line in the final open room, before heading to the house for my death. There I saw someone trying to figure out where to smoke his hashish. We connected with a look, and he said: you look so knowingly. I replied that I hadn’t smoked hash since I left Germany. He lit the pipe and offered me some. Then I saw another friend sitting on a bench, holding an LP. I said I didn’t know you were going to die. But he ignored me, I think he was too stoned to notice any of his surroundings.

It’s then that I realized that I was not drowsy anymore but rather very excited and had way too much energy for the people around me. I had to calm down and considered another cookie or drink, as I knew I had to get the drowsy feeling back if I wanted to die successfully.

Looking around, I saw some people sitting calmly on benches and others with their eyes closed in reclined wheelchairs, waiting to enter the house where they would die and then be burned.

That’s when I awoke. Wondering if I might be dying or if I could go back to sleep. As I was going over the dream in my head, Stephen stirred next to me, and I told him all about it.

Wordle

The Wordle craze finally reached me. I’m not a fan of word games because this is my second language and I always feel disadvantaged and a bit stupid. But this was different. 5-letter words, even I know a lot of them. Now that I’ve played 20 times, I haven’t come across a word yet I didn’t know. It seems to help to have a limited vocabulary. Stephen keeps on coming up with guesses of words that are unfamiliar to me, at least ones that are not in my everyday vocabulary.

Every night before going to sleep, I try thinking of the word I will start with the next day. It’s meditative. Once I have the word, I try to imprint on it by repeating it in my head or finding an “Eselsbrücke” (donkey’s bridge or mnemonic) to remember it the next morning, not always easy at my age. So far, so good.

I also like reading lately before going to sleep. Reading until the wee hours. Actually by the time I stop, the hours are not so wee anymore. The other morning it was after 6 am.

What happens now is like a curse. I read and start seeing all these 5-letter words I never thought about. I want to remember them as starting words, but there is no way I can remember them all. So in the middle of night I start sending myself emails with 5-letter words.

Here are some of them: flies, files, shape, crowd, train, faces, woman, women, tower, guard, human, shaky, bones, tears, musty, voice, death, among, heard, decay, agony, least, steal, sound, guilt, guild, touch, close, alive, lined, erase, water, quiet, quite, waste, about….

Then I have to stop reading, because all I’m doing is trying to find the next best word to use in the morning. I have no idea what I’m reading anymore. Any book recommendation without 5-letter words is welcome.

And if you haven’t played yet, give it a try. One word a day, the same word for anyone playing. We’re all in this together.

https://www.powerlanguage.co.uk

A heads up, though. The New York Times has bought the game. Congratulations to the creator, he deserves the 10 million. But why does everything in our society have to end in money? I’m sure the New York Times is not paying such an amount to do something good in the world. They will want their profit. And even if they only ask $1 a month, with millions of us playing this game, there would be a huge profit. I wish the creator would have asked us for a dollar or two donation. He could have made the same amount without commercializing Wordle.

Amadou Diallo

It was this incident that made me aware what it means to be black in this country and run into the police. Actually more the police running after you.

Of course I knew all the stories about Black Panthers in the ’60s and ’70s and how police raided their homes and started shooting indiscriminately and killed so many. I even had a book with all the news stories about this.

But time had gone by and I’m not black and I didn’t live in this country for a long time. By the time I came back, it was with 2 kids trying to survive in a country where everything had tripled in expenses. Shock.

But then Amadou Diallo got shot. 41 bullets! It was February 4, 1999. And it didn’t stop there. Since then there has been a parade of police officers and racists targeting and killing Black people.

I have no answers except for all of us to stand up for this injustice whenever there is a chance. Support Black Lives Matter.

Here is the song that I played over and over again yesterday.

Am I Back?

What to write about when stuck in the middle of a science fiction movie that lasts longer than 2 hours? That will last longer than 2 years? My ass is starting to hurt from sitting so much.

Staying inside at first was no big deal. The only outings were usually shopping and medical appointments. And that we could still do though with cautions. Wiping everything down before bringing it into the house, remember those days? Well, I just put everything in our second fridge and didn’t look at it for a few days, that seemed good enough for us.

Moving from curbside pickup to actually going to the store was a big deal. Still is. Whatever happens, I know I can’t survive this virus. And I don’t want to go gasping for breath.

Most days start slowly and late. And most days I face with what some people call soft pants. No one is going to turn me in for picking up the mail across the street in those soft pants. And that is as far as I venture most days.

Stephen takes our dog, Arnold, for walks. He gets out into the world. That’s a little ways off for me just recovering from a broken femur surgery. But the day will come when I can dance again without any consequences. That was the story when we watched Bo Burnham Inside on Netflix. I was so excited that we played the soundtrack right after and I foolishly danced along. Foolishly only because my foot was not ready. It lead to a hospital visit and and x-ray. Again 2 days off the foot and I got a redo with more success and less dancing.

Many of my days are spent cooking, planning, and executing. Our neighbors have 5 chickens I love. I try to talk and visit with them every day when my foot allows/allowed. They talk back to me and come running when I get close. So what do the chickens have to do with cooking. Yes, they produce wonderful eggs. And the generous neighbors keep on giving them to us. That leads to baking and sharing the resulting baked goods. And then more eggs, and more baking….

Cleaning and Organizing Episode #9012

It’s a Facebook log-off campaign, so I ended up here to share my thoughts. Will such a campaign bring about change to Facebook? I’m doubtful, but why not add to the numbers and encourage the organizers.

I’m at it again. Trying for order in my life. What will it take though? What is different this time? Absolutely nothing, so no big expectations.

Since the beginning of the year it’s been one disaster in my life after another. We moved to San Jose to help out with Stephen’s dad until I had a heart attack. Following this I broke my femur and had to stay off my feet for weeks/months.

My craft rooms suffered. Whatever was in the way of a wheelchair ended up in these rooms. Just recently I’m able to move around enough to attempt to bring back order. Every day I tackle a little bit so I don’t burn out.

This has been going on for only two days but the feeling of accomplishment is huge. And it’s a start. How many socks did I actually start and not finish? I tend to almost finish them until it comes to the toes and the kitchener stitch. Since that takes a needle I don’t always have handy, I stop there and then do a few socks at a time.

There is a lovely pair of yellow socks. They must be for me, yellow being one of my favorite colors. Perhaps I will use knitting to get some rest in, as I still can’t overdo it with the hip surgery leg. And just sitting around is not my favorite state of being, I don’t do that very well.

My headaches have been less frequent since the heart attack it seems, but yesterday the neck reared its ugly pain. ‘Headaches’ is the wrong term, it’s a neck pain. Most likely osteoarthritis. My neck has been carrying my head for 67 years now, that’s a long time. At times I wonder if a brace during the days of pain would be helpful.

In any organizing attempt there is stuff that needs to be thrown away, in my case preferably finding a new home as throwing things away is not in my vocabulary. Right now there are fabric scraps from the early mask making days in the pandemic. Some I can use, others are too small for the sewing I do. The first batch of scraps went to someone that works with tiny pieces, but I’m at a loss how I will find the person again. I will have to go through my Facebook messenger but as I said above, I’m part of the Facebook log-off right now, so this will have to wait.

Recently I bought a potholder on Etsy, because it was calling out to me. That doesn’t happen often, and I sure don’t need a potholder. Here it is:

This potholder is inspirational. There are so many scraps in the house and potholders are small projects. Finally a purpose for them. Immediately my thoughts go to all the jeans I saved to make some unnamed craft. I tried to give those jeans away a while ago but no one was interested, so I kept them. Or in some sane or not so sane moment threw them into the garbage. Now I wanted to make potholders with them and the leftover corduroy in the craft room. Found the corduroy, but not the jeans yet. A friend promised a few jeans if I can’t find mine.

Arnold has been a great dog. While off my feet for weeks, he gave up the couch to me. That immediately changed when I was able to walk again. He took back over. Even when I needed to elevate the foot that would swell here and there, he felt entitled. That’s how it came to the photo below.

Baking has taken over my life on some days. I finally experimented with macarons, they are too good so I can’t make them again for a while. Sharing with neighbors, we still had too many for us and the scale stares back at us in the mornings and we’re not thrilled.

A better option was making sourdough bread. Usually I make no-knead yeast bread and it turns out great, but lately it has been no-knead sourdough and it’s even better.

Another activity one can do off one’s feet is puzzles. I went a little overboard and at times I did one a day. Here is a 1,000 piece one that took days. A favorite.

Bread

Today I was going to start making sourdough bread. Or profiteroles.

My sourdough starter had gone bad after sitting in a jar in the fridge the last few years, it was rock hard. A friend offered me his and I’ve been feeding it every day. Last night it finally took off. Overflowing down a shelf where I shouldn’t have put it. But it was close to a heating vent and I though the heat could only help, and it did.

There is a problem with me making sourdough. Theoretically you should only keep around half a cup and feed that, throw the rest away. If you know me you would realize I throw nothing away and that includes sourdough. Something could happen to it and then I’m left begging again.

Last night I had 5 or 6 jars of starter and thought it was time to bake. It was too late and I put it off until this morning.

I make no-knead bread all the time but this was going to be my first try with sourdough. And all no-knead sourdough bread recipes start with a sentence about overnight. Start in the evening and let sit for 8 to 10 hours. Ok, that would have to wait until this evening.

Profiteroles it will be. That’s when I realize we have no milk. We are vegans now and milk is nothing we keep around. But heavy cream is since it’s an ingredient in my truffle making. And I can make milk out of cream. Problem solved.

But I had problems with my piping bag last week when I made profiteroles. The tip I use for filling the profiteroles exploded out of the bag. The opening was cut a bit wide. I didn’t want to repeat that performance that ended in a second shower that day. Amazon to the rescue?

There are packages of 100 plastic piping bags, all getting several bad reviews because they burst. I didn’t want plastic anyway. So I look for the cloth ones. Then it hits me that we have a kitchen store and I could call and see if they sell them.

But do I really want to go out in the damp and rain and ask Stephen to drive me, since I don’t? Not really. And how important are profiteroles today? Can that be put off for a couple of days?

I’m a pretty I-want-it-now type person and this would require a little patience, waiting. Back to the bread. I decided to start the dough after all, it can’t hurt if it sits there longer, like double the time recommended. And why did I forget to put some rye flour into the mix? I will start another loaf tonight.

I know that malt gives bread a little extra crust, or a lot if you overdo it with the malt. So instead I had bought malted bread flour to see how that turns out. I love playing with food.

For graphic content I’ll give you the profiteroles I made for Toby’s birthday party last week.

P.S. Don’t forget to order some pastry bags!

Puzzles

There’s been a bit of a puzzle-mania at our house. 6 weeks off my feet and then 4 weeks recovery leaves lots of time for getting caught up with reading, getting tired of streaming movies, and doing nothing. Since I was able to sit, puzzles became the big thing. First my friend Ginna dropped off a bunch of puzzles and then our friend Dawn did the same. And if that wasn’t enough, our friend Mike was the latest to leave a stack of puzzles in front of the house.

And ok, I’ll admit it, I bought myself one, too. As it turns out, I bought myself two puzzles. How can that happen? One was meant as a present but that friend said she’s set with enough puzzles before I even presented the puzzle. Immediately it was mine. But, I already wrapped it and I hate destroying my stellar job.

My favorite puzzle ever by far is one of birds. Though it was 1,000 pieces it felt like several mini-puzzles instead. I like working on areas and this one was perfect for my approach.

Mostly I do 1,000 piece puzzles but at times I will indulge in a 500 piece one. Stephen calls them palate cleansers. It seems an apt description. They give my head a break, probably should be called head cleanser, and give me new energy to go to bigger ones.

I now have a connection to the artist of this puzzle. A friend of ours who moved to New Mexico bought their house from this artist. In other news, I’m enjoying my 75% weight on my leg. Doing my new exercises. I want to be compliant with my rehab. The doctor did a good job and deserves my cooperation.

My heart. Doing very little and putting very little stress on my heart did it some good, I hope. At least it felt good in all that time. Instead of giving my heart a workout to get stronger, I need to give it a rest so it can live longer. A new theory of mine.

I have been so lucky with our neighbors and it has been a good relationship during my recovery. They love my food and especially chocolates I make and I love their flowers and eggs from their chickens. A very good trade. Though we’re now vegan, I still like playing around with baking, but would hate to buy eggs from a store. Now I have new flowers on the tables every week. It cheers me up. I sure come a long way from hating to cut flowers, essentially killing them in my opinion, to appreciating them.

I want to plant some flowers come spring, especially zinnias. How does one grow them? From seeds? And when do I start them? There is always the internet for these kinds of questions. I do know now how to save the 2 geranium plants I have for over-wintering. Soon, perhaps when I get to 100% weight on my foot again it will be the perfect first job outside.

Have you heard of FODMAP? I assumed it was a way of eating. But no, it’s a compound found in foods that can cause intestinal distress. Wheat has FODMAPs. But, if the dough rests for 4 or more hours, the FODMAPs disappear. Most commercial bread nowadays rests perhaps for 10 minutes. Is that why so many people are gluten/bread sensitive? Find a baker who rests their doughs or bake it yourself. Of course you can also go with wheat free bread.

Arnold got into the habit of pushing his face into mine while I am asleep. I guess in order to wake me up. But why? He wants my spot on the couch or bed. But he does keep me warmer at nights now that it’s getting cold. Perhaps I should shove my face into his.

A Good Day

This should go down in history as a good day. The day started a little rudely with Arnold jumping on the bed and pawing me. He wanted to go for his morning walk for which Stephen is the designated walker. I don’t do mornings very well. But I did sing him his morning song.

That’s the first song I learned in English class. It goes like this: Good morning, good morning, good morning to you. Good morning Mister Arnold and how do you do? Of course we sang Mrs. Miller as she was the English teacher. Her name was Steinmüller but she translated and abbreviated it.

Then I indulge myself in my German cooking competition watching German TV online. What a treat! Like the Great British Baking Show it is very civilized and everyone is nice to each other. No shouting.

You’re always able to download any recipe that was cooked that day and I did just that. Cooking it now. I changed a few things and will take a photo to show you. It will be at the end together with the recipe. There were some changes to this blogging program and I don’t have total control yet.

I’m also cooking a sweet potato that is one of 4 ingredients for a chocolate pudding. Let’s see if it’s worth a try. The ingredients are a nut milk, sweet potatoes, chocolate powder, and dates.

The other good news is my leg. Starting today I get to put 75% weight on it. As exercise I get to use our living room bike, stand and sit with the help of both legs and hands free, spin myself some yarn. I love my physical therapist. We come up with the same ideas. He suggested I use a bar stool when cooking. I was already doing that.

Breaking a femur is bad news. No walking or weight on the leg for 6 weeks and then 25% weight on the leg after that and after another week another 25%, up to 50% now, and so on. Total recuperation is over 10 weeks.

With the help of friends I had all the tools necessary to survive. From wheelchair in the beginning to a walker nowadays, a fancy shower seat, a high rise toilet, you name it, I had it. And let’s not forget the steady supply of puzzles.

This is a cold salad with red bell pepper stripes, snowpea stripes, green onions, rice noodles, ginger, a little toasted sesame oil, rice vinegar, lime zest and 6 tablespoons lime juice, tamari, a little vegan fish sauce, maple syrup, hot peppers, and topped with peaches because i had no mango. add roasted cashews, cilantro, hot pepper, and sesame seeds.

And the success story of the vegan pudding recipe. It would need raspberries on top to make it perfect.

4 ingredients: coconut milk, but almond milk or oat milk, any milk really, would do, 6 pitted dates, 1/2 cup of cocoa powder, and 2 cups of cooked sweet potatoes. Put in the blender and you get this: