Monday, February 23, 2015

The Food World Has Officially Gone Crazy

This just in from Eater:
"The world's number-one restaurant,  Noma, is now hosting a Club Monaco pop-up shop, finally answering the age-old question, 'What exactly does one wear when foraging for Danish hornet larvae?' The Wall Street Journal says in addition to selling clothing, the temporary boutique located inside Rene Redzepi's Copenhagen restaurant is also hawking 'a curated assortment of goods, including vintage books from New York's Strand bookstore, woven art installations, and handcrafted wooden yurts made in Brooklyn' (really though)."

Even for this food-crazed foam-infested sous-vide snobbery infused world, this seems a bit much.

Now you can get a yurt alongside your Beef Tartare and Ants, or your Cucumber and Scallop Fudge.  As if a restaurant that features all these, along with Reindeer Moss and mushrooms isn't weird enough. 

Enough, already.


Artillery Punch

Some years ago we were giving a birthday party for Susan, a proper Southern birthday party in honor of her family's somewhat distant southern roots, complete with fried chicken and biscuits, cole slaw and potato salad.  Sweet tea, unsweetened tea.  If you don't know what these are, ask a friend from the south.

And Ann insisted we had to serve Artillery Punch.  "It's a southern tradition - and it's so delicious!" 

I asked her "What's in it?" and she said "Everything." 

So we called her mother.   "Mother," (girls from the south call their mothers mother, no mom or mommy here.  And no matter their age they are girls until their mothers die), "Do you have a recipe for Artillery Punch?  We're giving a party at Jill's."

There was a very long pause, and then Ann's mother asked, "Missy?  How large an umbrella policy does this young lady have?"

We didn't serve Artillery Punch.  We live in California, we mostly drink wine and Margaritas.  But we are still laughing over Ann's mother's response.

Here, then, are several recipes: for Chatham Artillery Punch, for Chatham Artillery Punch from Garden And Gun, and a completely different one from Epicurious: all claiming to be the original, all different.  Like that never happens anywhere else in real life.

Disclaimer:  I have never tried any of these.   Ann said delicious; I say looks like a recipe for a massive hangover.

Let me know what you think - but make sure you have plenty of insurance.  Better yet be sure that your friends are Not Driving! They should be walking home, or spending the night.  No driving allowed.  And after some of this stuff, even walking may be a bad idea... 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Homework with Sam

How long since you've done long division?  Me too.  I usually just pull out my iphone.  Or guess.  And so far, it's worked pretty well for me.

I often found math in school boring - I mean, once you've grasped the concept why keep droning on?  Let's move on, people.  There's lots more interesting stuff out there.

One evening not long ago, my friend Sam rang the doorbell.  He is in fourth grade.  His mom and sister were doing mom and sistery things, and they were taking too long, so he brought his long division to me.

It was an act of faith.  I have not done long division since the invention of the calculator, that thing we used before phones became so smart.  But I was not going to let my friend down, so I had him explain it to me (we did not have all those little boxes for placeholders; we did not have to be so obsessive anal precise in just exactly how we showed our work.)  (And by the way, "showing our work" is a euphemism for "let's make it easier for the teacher to figure out I probably didn't cheat".) 

But I digress.  Surprise.

So Sam and I got some scratch paper (remember paper?) 
and worked things out, and it came back surprisingly fast, along with the smell of floor wax and stale lunchroom sandwiches.  

We used scratch paper so we could figure out how to:
1. solve the problem, and
2. put it in the teacher-approved format.

Do I sound snarky?  I had a very lazy middle school math teacher who gave us a box of cards and told us to work at our own pace.  From addition to algebra.  I could do the last cards, the really hard ones, and they were interesting.  But you had to do the first cards first, and I was not interested in doing first grade addition.   Or subtraction.  I already know how to do it, all he had to do was look at my grades to see that.  I didn't see the point.   So I went to the library and read instead.  

I learned a great deal about early American history, and the Curies, Pierre and Marie.  About how if you read several biographies of the same person they often contradict each other. And about lazy teachers.  

The next year the principal intervened, and I got to write complicated schedules for school-wide events, and I learned a lot more math doing that than I had the year before.

Sam caught on really fast - he is a whiz at math.  And he also didn't understand why he had to do dozens of long division problems when he's got it.

I wonder what's next.  I wonder if he will love algebra as much as I did - and do.  I wonder if he will zone out - as I did - because he can tune back in and catch up and not stick around for the droning on bits.  I wonder what will catch his interest, what he will study in college.  

But right now?  I am happy to have some time with Sam.  Even if it means doing long division again.



Saturday, February 21, 2015

Do It Now

Here, once again, courtesy of the lovely folks at Sloat Nursery, is your to-do list for the garden.  Except, this year in our gardens everything seems to be happening about a month early!  Roses are leafed out; one at Deanna's is already blooming.  Grape vines have uncurled tight fists of leaves.  Daffodils are, for the most part, over.  The buckeye, always precocious, has thrown a dense green roof over the round gravel patio, and covered the big bathroom window.  When I brush my teeth in the morning it's like being under water, cool and deep green.

Dogwood buds have gone from tight grey pincushions to thick and wavy and yellow, like little flags.  They usually bloom in April; this year I don't think they'll last thru March.  

Of course, if you live in the Frozen East, this list will probably just piss you off.  Get out your snow shovel and get over it.  Or come visit - we'll be on the patio.  In our shirtsleeves.

What To Do In The Garden Now:
• Prepare planting beds for spring. Test your soil for pH, nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium and add the appropriate fertilizer or supplement. We recommend amending your soil with Sloat Loam BuilderSloat Forest Mulch Plus or Sloat Planting Mix. Also, add E.B Stone’s Agricultural Lime or Grow More Maxi-Cal to soil to provide needed calcium for vegetables & fruit and to prevent blossom end rot.

• Plant early blooming plants like peonies, wisteria, lilacs, flowering plum, cherries, and magnolia. You can also plant Mediterranean plants such as leucadendrons, lavender, rosemary. Ceanothus and manzanita are great California Native choices.

• Protect your plants from slugs and snails with Sluggo or Sluggo Plus.

• Now is the time to plant edibles: Potatoes, garlic, onions, rhubarb, and asparagus.

• Finish pruning roses, shrubs and trees. Need a little guidance? Check out a pruning seminar at our stores.

• Prune and cut back perennials & ornamental grasses.

• Stop the weeds! Weeds that begin with winter rains go to seed in March & April. But the clever gardener never lets them get that far. Pull weeds now before they go to seed.

• After pruning, feed roses with E.B. Stone Alfalfa Meal and E.B. Stone Naturals Sul-Po-Magto promote healthy cane growth.

• Prune lavender back to emerging new growth for best spike production this coming summer.

• In addition to preparing your planting beds, use winter aged compost to make room for your new trimmings and clippings.

• It’s time to think about starting seeds. Most seeds are started 6-8 weeks prior to the last frost.

• Add summer flowering gladiolas and dahlias to your garden.

• During the month of February we have the best citrus selection of the year. Stop in!

• Protect citrus from rodents with Repels All Ready to Use.

• Now is a good time to feed and repot houseplants in anticipation of spring growth. Check for insects.

• Deadhead cyclamen to keep them in bloom.

• After pruning, be sure to clean your tools.

• Feed the birds: We carry Wild Delight Gourmet Bird Seed, Songbird Blend, Nut & Berry, Nyjer thistle, and Sunflower Seed. Also we have suet in 6 flavors to attract a variety of birds from woodpeckers to phoebes. Finch Socks with Nyjer are easy to use and popular with the birds!

• Keep up on cleaning winter debris from beds and containers.

• Mulch to prevent fungal diseases, conserve water and reduce weeds..

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Thoreau on Success


"I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty poverty, nor weakness weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them."

From Walden - via Brainpickings weekly.
Because we can all use a reminder now and again.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

What's Blooming Now

Daffodils are almost over, 
Hellebores are in full swing:
Pansies brighten up the pots,  
Foliage is king.  
Summer Snowflake is confused: it's not even spring!
Camellias brighten up the shade,
I wonder what next week will bring?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Violets

My first violets were given me by Eleanor, the extraordinary gardener who lived next to my childhood home.  It was she who taught me to garden, to love the smell of the earth, to tend green shoots and pull weeds by their roots.  And she shared her violets with me.   

I have planted those violets and their progeny between paving stones, under an orange tree, beneath my bedroom window.  It is tedious, but I pull the leaves aside and pick the flowers to put in an old spice jar next to my bed.  I drift off to sleep to their soft sweet smell.  Half awake, I smile, for the fragrance greets me before I open my eyes.

And I have shared my love of violets with others, and planted them in my friends' gardens.  And Ellen, an extraordinary gardener and a dear friend, sent me this picture of her violets.  
It has inspired me to go pick a bouquet of my own.  So if you'll please excuse me, I'm off to find my shears.