Musing with Max

Musing with Max

April 30, 2012

Lots of flowers in the house

Two years ago we decided our lilacs needed trimming, so with much trepidation and heeding all kinds of advice and research we proceeded to trim away making sure it was within the crucial two week after blooming period. Last year the blooms were paltry and we thought we had done some damage. Wrong! This year the profusion of blooms is happily over the top
and we've been able to have them in the house for weeks
so to quote Bloodstone and thanks to that aroma we'll take to the sky on a natural high.

And since everything is about a month early we have loads of flowers in the house

which makes me a little nervous

what will be left in June
but we'll worry about that tomorrow

for now we'll just breathe the sweet air and skip over to the ever charming Jane's for the monthly Flowers in the house party to celebrate a BIG anniversary and see what everybody else is up to.

April 26, 2012

Flying solo

Frank and I have been together a very long time, since we were both very young. This year we will be married for 30 years, yep I said 30, and before that we dated for 5. See what I mean? Needless to say we spend a lot of time together and in turn do almost everything together. By that I don't mean the usual everyday things like going to work, getting a haircut, doctor's appointments, grocery shopping, picking up the cleaners, etc. I mean the leisurely, social, entertaining things; like going to dinner, plays, museums, art exhibits, antiquing, walks in the park, rides in the country...I am not used to doing these types of activities by myself. It's not that I am shy or afraid or embarrassed it's just that I'm not used to it. At least not at home. When we travel I usually take off by myself to explore and just wander around, I guess I feel a certain freedom in being away in a foreign place, somewhat anonymous, away from the everyday routine of life which makes me feel like flying, and that I can fly. At home it's different, I guess because everything is familiar and the everyday worries weighing on you just makes it as if there is nothing new, nothing to explore and discover. Well, clearly that is not so as I found out. Having had such a difficult time finding a full time job I took a crappy little part-time job that will at least get me out of the house and away from looking at job boards on my computer for a few hours a week. Driving to my little job a couple of weeks ago through the lovely town of Summit, New Jersey (and if you haven't seen it, you don't know what your missing--yes, I know everybody makes fun of New Jersey, it's called envy) I spied the entrance to an arboretum, the Reeves-Reed Arboretum, and my breath caught in my throat. Boy would I love to go there. So I told Frank about it, and he said; "why don't you?" and I thought "by myself?" Well, why not, and today I did just that. I took 52 pictures for my first visit-I promise not to post all.
and then I came home to this

I believe I can fly.

April 24, 2012

My life in dog years - part 3

A few months after Frank and I were married we moved to New Jersey. The plan was really to move to New York, honestly who sits around going "what I really want to do is move to New Jersey", but New York City is a very expensive place to live in and since Frank had grown up in New Jersey he knew that you could live there and enjoy the best of both worlds. Which meant cheaper rent in a very nice apartment, working in New York and commuting there every day in less than half hour and spending all our weekends there. Almost every Saturday we would start our day in the West Village and almost every Saturday one of our first stops was the pet store on 8th street which always had a huge crowd in front of it. The main reason for the huge crowd was that the front windows were always filled with chow chow puppies; and frankly it's hard to find anything cuter than a chow chow puppy. Soon we decided we should get a dog since we had both always had dogs and, of course, went for the chow chow pup. We found him in a pet shop in North Jersey, he was 8 weeks old and completely irresistible.

He was a full breed AKC pup with papers and all and we named him Obi which stood for "Our Boy Indy". People thought he was named after either a character in Star Wars or Indiana Jones which made me think I should have named him Harrison Ford. On our first trip to the vet we got an education. He said, let's see if we can raise him as an untypical chow. A typical chow is anti-social, stubborn, very devoted to their owner and no one else, doesn't like to be around people, likes to go off on a corner by itself, doesn't want to be bothered, ornery, lazy and all around not very nice. Humpf, not my dog! Obi turned out to be none of these things, except maybe lazy. No catch and fetch here. He arrived pretty much housebroken (they're very clean like cats) and had the run of the apartment within two weeks of arriving. Shortly after we got him we had a snowstorm; I took him out for his walk and he put one paw into the snow, immediately jumped back on the stoop and looked at me quizzically. Put his paw slowly on top of the snow and dove right in. He loved Frank but also loved me. He was friendly with everyone. He was a nightmare to walk, he pulled and pulled and pulled (me anyway) and was very picky about his"poopy spot". One day we decided we would hire a trainer. She came over and stood with arms akimbo staring down at him when I opened the door, he growled at her. She said, your dog is very aggressive, I said, I would be too if someone greeted me that way. We didn't hire her. When we moved to a house and installed a fence he refused to "go" in the yard therefore if Frank was out of town I got dragged all over the neighborhood twice a day. On the rare occasion that we fed him "people" food he would stare at me incredulously when I gave him kibble the next day, and ignore it. His favorite food was lasagna, on those instances he wouldn't eat for three days after that. OK, I give, I guess he was stubborn. One day when he was seven Frank called me at work and said that when they were going down the stairs Obi missed a step and slid all the way down, he picked himself up and they went for their walk and he proceeded to crash into the front gate. He hadn't missed a step, he was blind and it seemed to have happened overnight. We took him to a bunch of specialists, there was nothing they could do. He slowed down and became the typical chow going off on a corner by himself, anti-social, not wanting to be bothered
he also gained 40 pounds in a very short amount of time. One day we came home from a trip to Baltimore for a baseball game and found him lying next to the door. My heart broke in half.

serves 6

2 tbsp olive oil
one medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves. minced
1 lb. ground beef
salt & pepper
2 tsp dried oregano
1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes, drained
1 cup of water
1lb dried lasagna noodles
8 oz. grated mozzarella cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 cups bechamel sauce (recipe below)

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Add garlic and cook slight without browning. Add onion and cook until it begins to soften. Add the ground beef, season mixture with salt and pepper and brown breaking it up and stirring as needed. Add the tomatoes and break with a wooden spoon. Season with oregano and add water. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook, stirring occasionally about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cook per cooking instructions until al dente. Drain.

Preheat oven to 350F

In an 11 x 13 baking pan spread about one tablespoon of the tomato sauce. Place lasagna noodles on top and across over lapping slightly. Spread half of tomato sauce over the noodles, spread 1/3 of the bechamel sauce on top, sprinkle 1/3 of the mozzarella over that and 1/3 of the Parmesan. Cover with lasagna noodles and repeat the layering. The last layer should only be the bechamel and cheeses. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for about 30 minutes. Remove the foil and cook another 10 minutes. Let sit about 10 minutes before cutting.

Bechamel sauce

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups of milk
salt to taste

Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and stir into butter until incorporated. Slowly add milk, stirring constantly until the mixture is thickened. Add salt to taste.

don't feed it to your pet or they may never eat again.

April 22, 2012

Writer's block

So I'll just look out the window and enjoy the view
and get some pots ready
and make a Choripan

2 dry Spanish chorizos (such as Goya)-sliced
1 medium onion, sliced
bread-cuban, baguette, sliced in half

heat a small skillet over medium heat, add the chorizo and sautee a few minutes until it begins to exude some of it's fat.
Add the onions and sautee until they start to soften
move the mixture to one side and place one slice of the bread, face down, in the skillet for a few minutes to toast lightly. Do the same with the other slice. Spread mayonnaise on each bread slice, add chorizo and onion mixture
place other slice on top and eat.
and watch Max take over our bed
and wait for the rain.

April 16, 2012

Summer in April

We're supposed to hit 86F here today. It's April; we should be at least 30 degrees cooler and it should be raining. Instead it's dusty and dry and we're sweltering. Something seems to have run amok. It's just a little bit scary and it's too hot to sleep but I'll be damned if we're turning the air conditioning on in April. At least the heat is off. The garden is easily a month ahead of schedule and seems to be barreling on by leaps and bounds. Blooms we normally don't see until May:

the wisteria on Friday
on Saturday

Crab Apples on Friday

on Saturday




Who knows where we'll be by June, and I still haven't planted anything new...too early!

We may as well make the best of it though and enjoy the clear blue skies
and have some Summer food outside

Onion Tart with bacon or olives adapted from The New York Times

1 teaspoon active dry yeast
180 grams (about 1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter or olive oil
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
3 large onions (about 1 1/2 pounds), sliced 1/8-inch thick
Salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds (for bacon version only)
2 garlic cloves, minced (olive version only)
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, finely chopped (olive version only)
4 ounces ( 1/4 pound) fresh ricotta (or goat cheese for olive version)
4 ounces ( 1/4 pound) smoked bacon, cut in thick lardons (or pitted green olives for olive version)
4 ounces crème fraîche.

1. For the dough: In a mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup lukewarm water. Stir in 1/4 cup flour and let the mixture get bubbly, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the kosher salt, butter or oil and remaining flour and mix to form a rough ball. Knead the dough (with hands or stand mixer) for about 5 minutes. Let rise, covered with a damp towel or plastic wrap, until doubled in size, about 1 hour. (Or refrigerate in a zippered plastic bag and let rise several hours or overnight.)
2. For the topping: Heat 2 tablespoons butter or olive oil in large skillet over medium-high burner. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Season generously with salt and pepper. Stir in the caraway seeds (for the bacon version) or the garlic and thyme (for the olive version). Let cool to room temperature. Put the bacon, if using, in a small pan and cover with 1 inch water. Simmer for 2 minutes, then drain and cool.
3. Set oven to 375 degrees. Punch down the dough and knead into a smooth ball, then let it relax for a few minutes. Roll to a circle about 12 inches in diameter. Transfer to a 12- by 17-inch baking sheet lined with parchment. Stretch the dough to an elongated oval about 11 inches by 15 inches.
4. Mix the ricotta (or goat cheese) with half the crème fraîche and dab spoonfuls of the mixture evenly over the dough. Spread the cooked onions over the dough, leaving a half-inch border. Top with the reserved bacon (or olives), scattered evenly. Drizzle the tart with the remaining crème fraîche.
5. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, turning the baking sheet if necessary, until well browned. Cool on a rack for a few minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

Asparagus Soup with Poached Eggs adapted from Williams-Sonoma

  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 large leek, white and light green portions, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. Hungarian paprika, plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 1/2 lb. asparagus, ends trimmed, spears cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 Tbs. chicken or vegetable stock concentrate
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves
  • 6 poached eggs
  • Fresh tarragon leaves, flat-leaf parsley leaves and chopped chives for garnish
In a large saucepan over high heat, warm the olive oil for 5 minutes. Add the leek, season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and the 1 tsp. paprika and cook, for 2 minutes. Add the asparagus, stock concentrate and water and cook, stirring occasionally until the asparagus is tender, about 15 minutes.

Place the spinach on top of the soup mixture and cook for 1 minute. Using a towel, hold the lid down and blend on the highest setting until the soup is smooth.

Season the poached eggs with salt and pepper and lightly sprinkle with paprika. Pour the soup into 6 warmed bowls and top each with 1 poached egg. Garnish with tarragon, parsley and chives and serve immediately. Serves 6.
and maybe give somebody a bath
...Max, where are you?