Archive for May, 2008

She’ll be missed


Mia (background) and Barkley on one of their many adventures

Barkley’s best friend, Mia, was put to sleep today. She had been having trouble walking last week, and slowly got worse, to the point where she could hardly move. Several trips to the vet eventually revealed a tumor near her spine.

Mia has been part of our lives for over 6 years. It is hard to imagine a future without her now. And I wonder about Barkley. How long will he look around to try and find her when we’re over at their house? How long will he be able to smell her scent in the grass? I’m sure he’ll be sad. She was his favorite playmate, the alpha of their doggy duo. She will certainly be missed.

Garden Fresh Rhubarb & Meringue

This is our first year harvesting stalks from our three rhubarb plants. We planted them from root stock early last year, and were advised to let them just grow on their own, untouched for the first year. Unknowingly, the rhubarb variety I chose is called Victoria, which produces “medium-sized stalks, excellent in quality and flavor.” What disappointed me at first, though, was that this rhubarb turned out to be green and not red, like I had come to expect from grocery stores and farmer’s markets.

So far I’ve only made strawberry rhubarb crisps with our plants, but yesterday I was feeling a little more creative and decided to make meringues. I’ve always admired these (the crispy kind, not to gooey soft kind) as cookies and in cakes, but have never made them myself. I was surprised at how few ingredients were needed, and how a mere two egg whites could whip up to be more than triple its original size.

My original idea was to pour a strawberry rhubarb dessert mixture into the bottom of individual ramekins and then top them with “lids” of meringue. However, even though I traced the ramekins containers faithfully onto my parchment as a template, the meringue disks ended up spreading out larger than the mouths of the ramekins. Instead we just placed a meringue on a small dessert plate and ladled some of the strawberry rhubarb sauce on top. Sweet, sour, rich, light, crispy and delicious!

I used the meringue section of this recipe and saved myself the work by using our Kitchen Aid mixer with the whip attachment. Although, the process still takes some patience, because it takes over 2 hours from start to finish.

Need… Sunshine…

So far, this has not been one of my better weeks. Like on Monday, when I showed up for a client meeting downtown at 11am, instead of 2pm. Right! I forgot we had switched the time, and I even had it written correctly on my ical (I just forgot to double check). Luckily she was able to meet with me anyway. And on the way to this particular meeting, while I was stopped at a red light, a strange, very scary looking man stepped out of nowhere and attacked my car… with a windshield washer. I was all “No don’t!” but he ignored me and scrubbed and squeegeed my windshield (which was already clean, mind you) against my will. But then I felt bad for this guy, just trying to make a living on the street, so I gave him a dollar worth of quarters that I was going to use to pay for street parking. And he actually finished in exactly the time it took for the light to change to green. I guess that counts as honest work right? Better than begging on the street corners?

Then there was the time where I thought I was being so good and only helped myself to half of an ice cream cookie sandwich from the freezer. Yep, I cut that cookie sandwich in half, ate my half happily, and then was asked later by my husband (once it was too late, of course) why I left the entire box of ice cream sitting on the counter to melt. Why? Why did I do this?

Anyway, I could go on about my ridiculous mistakes this week. Truly. But today it is actually sunny and warm for a change, and I can only hope that maybe some much needed sunshine can unfreeze my rusty mind gears and put me back to rights again.

Eat Pray Love

There have been times where I just happen to buy, borrow, or be given just the right book at the just the right time when I’d enjoy it most. This time, the book is called Eat Pray Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert.

I haven’t been doing much reading lately, mostly because I’ve been getting headaches before barely finishing a chapter. Pretty annoying for someone who loves to read as much as I do. Instead, using a credit generously given by my father-in-law, my husband downloaded the book for me from Audibles.com. Thanks to the ipod, now I can just sit (or lay) listening as the story unfolds, as the author’s voice transports me to Italy, and soon to India, and later to Indonesia.

I guess I should clarify my first paragraph a little, too. I have found this book to be very interesting so far, but not because I have any desire to divorce my husband, or because I want to put off having children (as the author writes). But because I am curious about her search, and her travels. In chapter nine, she notes “My truth was exactly as I told the medicine man in Bali – I wanted to experience both. I wanted worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence – the dual glories of a human life. I wanted what the Greeks called kalos kai agathos, the singular balance of the good and the beautiful.”

I found this idea to be so profound. Because in a way, that is what we all want to some extent (or maybe I’m just speaking for myself here) – to enjoy the pleasures of the world (a life full of good food, true love, travels, enriching experiences and happiness) and yet to also be enlightened, to have an understanding (religious or otherwise) but without giving up everything, to not have to be a beggar, or a monk, or to give up all our worldly possessions. I think we’d all like to achieve that sort of balance in our lives.

In the garden right now

Ah, spring. You are so welcome at my house.

This weekend we had almost three days of sunny, 70 degree weather, and we’re seeing all kinds of growth in the garden. Here are some pics of what’s blooming now:

This weekend we went to our favorite nursery, Farmington Gardens, for plants to fill our annual containers. I’ve mentioned this before, but David and I have really different plant preferences. He likes what I call “dainty” flowers, ones that often comes in small clusters, have whispy stems, and are most likely pink or purple. I like showy flowers, the bigger the better. I also favor rich colors or unusual combinations. Here is how our container choices reflect our particular styles.

To the three containers on the sunny side of the deck, David chose purple blue bird nemesia, garnet twinspur, pink fuschia, and a green potato vine for the outside pots, and pink diascia for the center pot (to go with the overwintered dracena and silverdust). The effect is somewhat “country cottage”, and a far cry from my husband’s usual modern taste.

On the more shady back part of the deck is another container. Flowering plants usually don’t do very well in this area, so I chose some foliage plants, too – wine-colored coleus, heliotrope (it’s purple flowers smell like vanilla), silvery helichrysum, a white begonia (blooms even in mostly shade) and a lemon licorice to brighten the palette. David says it looks very masculine, and I suppose it does.

Luckily, there is room in the garden for both of us. 🙂