Seventeen days before the kalends of April.

I missed Haruspex Day, so in recompense I offer up this post from the Getty’s excellent blog, The Iris.

As Caesar entered the Senate, he supposedly said to Spurinna, “You realize the Ides have come?” (As in, “How good a seer are you?”) Spurinna’s reply: “You realize they have not yet gone?” (As in, “Just wait!”).

I’ve keepit dacent company a’ my days and I’m nae gaun to change my

ways noo. At this moment Jamie Duncan’s playing ‘Mony Musk’ in

four flats, and I say that the man that wad do that is fit for ony kin’ o’


Jamie Laval plays (in how many sharps, I cannot say):



Kale soup and harbor view

Sadly, I have pictures of neither.  (Well, kale soup isn’t very attractive, actually, but I’m sorry I can’t show you the view.)  I went down to Fairway in Red Hook this morning, my mouth still sore and sour from some hardcore dentistry on Thursday, intending to buy coffee and olive oil and root vegetables for mashing.  Soft foods, you see, are called for.  I dithered and wondered in front of the vast display of olive oils; no samples had yet been set out.  Gloomy, uncomfortable, and indecisive, I decided to have a cup of milky coffee at the café, look out at the view of New York harbor, and read my library book, To Eat by Joe Eck and Wayne Winterrowd.

The wind was blowing hard from the east, pressing wavelets out of the water; further out a low mist hung over the bay, and dark clouds towered on the southwestern horizon, while others moved quickly westward.  Dock cranes in New Jersey traced white on the dark.  Big barges moved up the river.  Gulls struggled into the wind or found a way to glide, and a couple of ducks flew close to the water.  Everything was damp, the red bricks of the dock warehouses darkened.  When I turned away from the view, I read Eck and Winterrowd’s chapter on chard, which includes a short, simple recipe (from Beatrice Tosti di Valminuta) for Passato di verdure, greens soup, and decided I should have some of that.  My tooth stopped aching.  I finished my coffee, went back inside, tasted a bunch of olive oils and made a decision, backtracked to the produce section and picked up shallots and kale for the soup, and headed for the checkout lanes and home.

The soup is delicious.  The book, too, is charming.

(How to make the soup? Put chopped carrot, chopped onion, chopped shallot, garlic, and shredded greens in a soup pot with olive oil and sea salt, cover with water and simmer an hour or an hour and a half, then blend. The recipe calls for celery, Swiss chard, spinach, and kale, but says you can choose whatever greens you like; since I’m making it just for me, I didn’t feel like getting four different kinds of leaves, so just used regular old kale.  You are specifically not asked to sauté anything but since I threw the vegetables in as I got them chopped, the alliums and carrot wound up cooking for a while in the oil.)

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Ecstatic voices

The Renaissance Street Singers will be on NPR’s All Things Considered tonight (Sunday, August 25) in a segment called Ecstatic Voices, about varieties of sacred music across the country.  It will probably run a few minutes after 5:30.  If you miss it, the archives are here:

Thanks, NPR and Joel Rose (the producer/reporter) for including us with the nuns, church trombone bands, Hollywood muezzins, and other spiritual sounds.


New header photo, June 2013

Was taken by me! In Central Park in the spring.  Since then, my new camera has failed.



hollow square remnant at rear

hollow square remnant at rear

In May, I had some friends over for a house singing. I made four things to eat and they all came out well. I’d had some trouble with under-cooking the chicken at a couple of these events, so this time I made sure this wouldn’t happen by not making any chicken.

Two recipes came from Smitten Kitchen, one was a variant of a David Lebovitz dish, and one was based on a delicious salad Nancy Werlin (famous authoress) (follow her true-life comic!) had made at the mini-reunion I’d been to the week before.  I recommend any or all of them for a party.  My guests brought fruit, super chocolate desserts, and chocolate covered almonds; we finished the evening with obscure liqueurs and the nuts.   

ristotto, lasagne

risotto, lasagne

Artichoke risotto (made with barley, not freekeh, because I am trying to use up the mad variety of grains and pastas in my house before buying any more).  Frozen artichoke hearts from Trader Joe’s.

Mushroom lasagna.  I was low on mushrooms by the last layer but no one complained.  Timing issues: I put it in the oven at the break, and then it was done 45 minutes later but the singing wasn’t; it would have been better if I’d timed it to come out right before we came to the table.  Nevertheless, it was delicious. New experiences: I’d never made a garlic béchamel before (nor, for that matter, a barley risotto).  I used no-boil lasagna noodles as that’s what I found, but I soaked them a little in hot water before layering them to fend off dryness, as warned in blog comments.  And I made use both of my brand new pot

new pot

new pot

and my ancient Mouli grater.

grater, descended through the matriarchal line

grater, descended through the matriarchal line


Salad, slaw


Broccoli slaw.  An opportunity to break out the food processor, obtained under latke duress in December.  I used red onion throughout, and soured milk instead of buttermilk.  The cranberries for sweetness and chewiness, and the almond slivers for crunch, are important. 

Nancy’s salad: Romaine lettuce, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, chickpeas, canned salmon, avocado; lemon dijon dressing. 

Owl anew.

Not in Brooklyn, though. In Lombok.

Happy owlending.

Remember Owl Jolson? He (or she) has flown free.

Listen to some Saw-whets here.

New header photo, Nov 2012

A detail of a photo of euonymus in fall color, by my Twitter pal Flatbush Gardener (his blog is here). Chris, I did ask but didn’t hear back, hope you don’t mind my borrowing a snippet of your lovely image.

Hurricane baking

So far includes a loaf of bread (yesterday) and blondies (today). Which means that I’m okay and have power. I found the storm itself surprisingly terrifying, worn down as I was by anticipatory anxiety (did I make the right decision to stay home? What if I needed to get to work on Tuesday? — a question that seemed absurd by Monday night, but on Sunday seemed worth considering) and little sleep, and the long wait. The winds howled, strange lights flashed through the skies, trees scratched and flying objects banged, the streets’ quiet was broken only by emergency vehicles. My bedroom, with its windows on three sides, felt like a turret at the end of the earth. In the morning, I learned that the water of Buttermilk Channel rose over the piers and the street as far as the corner building. But I was hugely lucky.

I still can’t understand that Avenue C flooded. And 125th Street. I sort of understand the tunnels all filling with water, although it’s never happened before — they are low, after all. Well, we’ll all have our points of bafflement.

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