Sunday, December 15, 2013

From the Tee-Tiny Experimental Kitchen- Cherry and Mincemeat Sauce for Duck, Chicken, Turkey or Ham

I bought half a roasted duck breast in the frozen food section at Publix, and tonight I am re-roasting it. I like fruit sauces with duck, and I made this one tonight. It is simple to make, requiring only 1/3 stick of butter, one cup of pitted Morello cherries, and a tablespoon of mincemeat.

Melt the butter, toss in the cherries and the mincemeat and heat through on low heat. Mash the cherries a bit for extra juice.

The amounts I used would sauce two portions. Double or triple if you are feeding more.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Tee-Tiny Experimental Kitchen- Mincemeat with Cheddar in Puff Pastry

Apples love Cheddar cheese, and mincemeat does too. I made up this recipe this morning as an alternative to mincemeat pie, and it is easy and tasty and would feed four or five.

The pictures tell the story. Thaw out a sheet of frozen puff pastry. Roll over it a few times with a rolling pin then place it in a greased or sprayed 6 inch souffle dish. Dump in 13 oz., or 1/2 jar mincemeat. Then put 2/3 cup grated cheddar on top of the filling. Fold the pastry as shown, give it a wash of melted butter, then put it in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes or so or until the crust is browned as shown in the photo.

Good for a holiday brunch or breakfast.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Gerald Finzi

I have listened to classical music all my life, and thought I knew most composers. I was disabused of this idea this past Thursday.

I went to Kroger to get enough cat food to get us through the ice storm, and when I left the parking lot I was held up by a school bus and a frightening line of traffic. I sat, waiting for an opening to pull out. I had our local NPR station on, and gradually as I listened I realized I was listening to one of the most beautiful and mournful piano pieces I had ever heard. I had no idea what it was, or who had composed it.

My apartment is only 3 minutes from the grocery, and when I parked the piece was still playing. No force on earth could have made me leave the car then until I found out what I was listening to, and I waited to the end. The announcer said it was the "Eclogue for piano and strings". I thought he said the composer was" Finney", but I soon found I had heard wrong.

What would we do without You Tube? I keyed in "eclogue" and up came "Eclogue for Piano and Strings Opus 10", by Gerald Finzi, a British composer. And there the music was again.

The person who put up the video of the eclogue first heard it as he was driving. But he was driving in rush hour on the Massachusetts Turnpike, which I am sure is a hell all its own. He says he was so affected by the beauty of the piece that he had to pull off onto an off ramp.

Finzi died young, and perhaps this accounts for the elegiac mood of this music-

Look this up on You Tube. You will not be disappointed-

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

How Are You Going To Keep Them Down On The Farm-

I was reading an email from my brother tonight when my eyes drifted to an ad on the right side of the AOL page. An ad from William-Sonoma's "Agrarian" division.

The ad showed an elaborate green designer chicken coop with wheels.It costs almost $1500. The ad boasted that the coop was predator proof,which I guess in upscale urban neighborhoods means that your maid can't get into it. The wheels presumably allow you to wheel it around on the roof of your condo down in the Gulch.

Now anybody's uncle can put up a chicken coop after spending a few bucks at the farm supply store, but that is just not the Brentwood way of doing things. Williams-Sonoma reassures the purchaser that the coop arrives with "white glove handling", and that the people who deliver it will set it up.

Now the local, sustainable crowd who call carrots "veggies" and too many damn squash a "bounty", are not going to be satisfied with just a coop.

They will want accessories. Louis Vuitton egg collecting satchels.. Chanel work boots.Ruffoni copper chicken feed pails. They will need their own magazine as well- perhaps something along the lines of "Town and Chick Country"

And who thinks they would be satisfied with chickens from Dixon or Joelton either. They are going to want heirloom chickens from France. Sustainable, bountiful chickens fed on a diet of heirloom veggie scraps. Chickens who cluck with European flair.Bilingual chickens. Unfortunately these chickens will need to be educated as well. Someone will need to teach them that that fat ring tailed creature with the mask is not the family cat, and does not have the chickens' best interests at heart.

I knew this was coming. I knew it when I saw an article in "Where Women Cook" that showed a lovely young woman dressed in white organza and black work boots standing in her own special chicken house. If you want to wear white in a chicken house that is your choice, but remember that up in Fairview people are laughing at you.

Well, not really at you.

At the crystal chandelier you installed to keep the chickens from straining their eyes.

Monday, December 2, 2013

First Class Passenger Berths on the SS Moby Couch

Scalloped Potatoes and Leeks

2 leeks

2 medium gold potatoes

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup grated Gruyere cheese

Sea salt to taste

1/2 stick butter

Slice leeks into 1/4 inch thick rounds and arrange them in the bottom of a 9 inch casserole. Then thinly slice the potatoes and arrange them on top of the leeks. Salt lightly. Sprinkle the cheese over the potatoes, then cut up the butter into small pieces and place on top of cheese. Add 1 cup of heavy cream over all.

Bake for 35-40 minutes in a 400 degree oven, or until potatoes are tender.

Not a diet dish, but who diets over the Holidays?

Easy to make, and a nice change from leek and potato soup.

Beautiful to look at as well.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Christmas Couch

When I moved to these apartments four years ago, I left my old sofa behind. I replaced it with with a daybed I could move myself, and that I bought at a junk shop for 5 dollars.One summer ago, wanting someplace soft to sit outside, I put the daybed out on my porch. I planned to move it back in but when it became an alley cat hostel I covered it with comforters and left it out.

I had 2 old over stuffed chairs to sit on in my living room, but I also had two hounds and every time I abandoned the chair for the kitchen I lost my place.We played musical chairs until I picked up two wicker lawn chairs at the dumpsters. Now we all had a place to ourselves, but I was not comfortable and watching TV was a back breaker. I also was sleeping on a futon that made me feel eighty.

To me a sofa began to look like a luxury. I craved one the way other women crave fancy handbags. How I wanted someplace soft. I no longer wanted to hurt every time I sat down.But I am old and poor and have a dicey credit rating.

But a friend found me a second hand large white sofa for 100 bucks. She found it on Craig's List and I splurged on paying movers.The girls who sold the couch warned me their puppy had peed on it once, but I have some experience with doggy incontinence and this did not bother me unduly.

I have now made the couch my bedroom and refuge. I covered it with spreads because of the fur problem. It has so many pillows I made a tower with them and my lap hound now uses this as his neighborhood watch observation post to keep an eye on the cats.

The only problem now is the sofa has dwarfed the living room. The wicker chairs must go back to the dumpsters to cut the clutter., and I may even have to get rid of the coffee table.

But oh how worth it it is! I have been on it all day.cuddled up watching "Elf", "Tombstone", and now a hilarious British police comedy called "Hot Fuzz".

Heaven, Unless I spend so much time on it that body and mind turn to mush.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Estate Sale Diaries-November 8,2013

In the past six months the cash has not been flowing, and money has been out of my pocket. Coupled with a desire to live with less clutter following a successful de-cluttering campaign, I have scarcely been seen on the Estate Sale Circuit.

That ended today( and for who knows how long), and I drove out to three sales this morning in search of replacement bath towels and a comforter for my porch cats.

The first sale I went to was only a block from my apartment, and it suffered from minimalism and a dearth of goods. The people running it were stuck in cash and check mode, not having invested in the card reader attachment thingy every other estate sale company offers. I bought a two dollar New Orleans cookbook and left. The same bunch was running another sale up on a hill above the Harpeth River, and since it had cookbooks I cashed up at the ATM.

Life has its regrets, and I regret not having stopped at this sale first. The plague of Internet re-sellers had got there first and piled the cookbooks waist high at the check out table. Methodical as locusts chewing a grain tassel they hogged the view and the merchandise, and left us True Lovers of the Cookbook the chaff.

Or maybe not. I found M.K. Fisher's "With Bold Knife and Fork", a book of Turkish cooking, and this-

In the kitchen I grabbed a fine round stoneware casserole dish from Redwing Pottery.

I had to pass on an impressive collection of All Clad cookware that the estate sale people wanted 700 bucks for and would not sell separately.

In other rooms, and in a spacious under- the- house room that could have been a deluxe bomb shelter, I found more books. Hundreds of books. History books- Of France, the Mediterranean, the Middle East, Israel, Russia. Here are two I brought home-

The next sale was bookish as well with enough Belva Plain and James Patterson to take over the shelves at the library , where ,alas, they already do. But I came home with two bathrobes, two towels, two sheets,two shirts, and two pairs of shoes. No comforter for the cats though.

Lastly, I confess to following some signs for a garage sale into a sub-division with so many cul-de-sacs, cross streets, and dead ends that I feared I might never get out. I found the sale , but left after a 30 second review of endless stuffed toys, and fancy little girl dresses.

It took me ten minutes to find my way out, and two elderly ladies made the mistake of following me, thinking I knew where I was going. After 3 dead ends and numerous trips around the same block, the ladies decided to save themselves and abandoned me-

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Perfect Politician

Dinosaur that I am, I still get my e-mail on AOL, and every time I sign on they beam me some new bit of news unfit to print.

But not today. Today I learned that Washington,obviously a state filled with smart people, had elected two dead men to public office.

This is a fine precedent, and we need to seek out and elect more dead candidates for every office in the land. Forget the dead souls both parties offer us as choice and elect those who are really, most sincerely dead.

Dead men" tell no tales", nor do they commit adultery or take bribes. Imagine! A candidate immune to the eavesdropping of the NSA. Of no interest to the FBI.

Unable to talk, they will make no promises, and they will not be asking for money. No one will ever ask them to "Approve this Message". They have already been on the Ultimate Junket- their Appointment in Samarra- so no jet will ever take them on any fact finding mission that costs tax payers millions.

Dead men do not filibuster! They need not campaign! Their wives do not need to stand by their man, for dead men do not put pictures of themselves in their underwear on the Internet and send them to young blonde women.

Imagine a candidate who is safely buried in the mud, and has no need to sling it at his opponent! No one can scream he is too far to the left or right of this side or that. No one can snicker that he is morbidly obese, or is a secret Muslim, or spends his night passed out in bars. The worse his opponent can say of him is that he is a corpse- Well, aren't we all! Eventually.

Start fielding dead men, and I will vote for them! I will even work on their campaign and help them with their slogans.

I will be glad to be a member of the Coffin Party. In spirit anyway, since I am not ready to join them in their narrow, underground bunker just yet.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Carrots with Fennel and Shallots- The Sequel.

Here is the Grouper fillet, smothered by the vegetable saute I posted about earlier today. This was a five star meal!

Carrots with Fennel and Shallots

Inside this nice serving dish I found last spring at an estate sale is a vegetable saute I will eat tonight with a fillet of Grouper that I will pan fry in butter. Though I conceived of this as a side dish, I plan to re-heat it and smother the fish fillet with it.

I also think this delicious side would go well with duck or roast chicken.

To cook this you will need :

1 smallish fennel bulb, diced

2 diced shallots

3 medium carrots, peeled and diced.

1 cup of chicken broth, plus 1/4 cup additional broth if needed.

1/3 stick butter

Several shakes of Herbes de Provence

Sea salt to taste

In a medium saute pan, cook the shallots in the butter over low medium heat until they are golden, and just beginning to lightly brown. Then add the carrots, the fennel, and the chicken broth. Add a few shakes of the herbs, then add sea salt to taste. Salting this is essential for full flavor.*

Turn the heat to medium, and cover the saute pan with its lid slightly askew. The point of this is to reduce the broth while cooking the vegetables. If the broth reduces and the vegetables are not quite soft, add 1/4 cup more of broth, or even water and allow that to reduce down so that the vegetables are moist, but not soupy. Adjust seasoning.

I think this would serve four, if used to top the fish fillet.

*I will quote Marcella Hazan here, from her book "Marcella Says...". This is her philosophy of Salt!

"If you are persuaded that even within the context of a balanced Italian meal the adequate use of salt could affect your life expectancy, you will not want to read any further. I am concerned here solely with the gastronomic importance of salt, and it is huge. Cooking that lacks salt lacks flavor. When it is used judiciously, it is not salt that you taste but the unbuttoned natural flavor that salt, and salt alone, can draw out of ingredients".

Words to take to heart- and true for all meals, and not just Italian.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Road Goes Ever On and On-

Leaves were raining down on us today as we walked at Percy Warner. And there will be more coming down with the storms and wind predicted for tonight-

Back to the place where it began-

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

An Autumn Walk and a Surprise Wildflower Find

The dogs and I walked out today at Percy Warner Park, and I took these photos on or near the Mossy Ridge Trail.

And last of all, a wildflower new to me, and the only wild orchid I have ever seen in the Warner Parks. It is Tipularia- the crane-fly orchid. It blooms in early autumn and puts up leathery basal, single leaves over the winter. The underside of each leaf is purple.

How I wish I had seen it in bloom!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Everything Old-

Sometimes, in order to find something worth watching on the screen of your choice, you might consider going back in time.

Bored with the thin gruel of this season's television shows, and down-hearted that "Grimm" has resorted to zombies, I signed onto one of the streaming services last evening and watched the 1990 pilot of David Lynch's "Twin Peaks".

Nothing about this weird and watchable 23 year old program had frayed or tattered. Nothing had dated it. It was as fresh as it was two decades ago.

On "Twin Peaks", when a mother does not know where her daughter is, we walk into a real mystery. The mother calls people who might know where Laura Palmer is, but she calls them on an old time land line. Laura is not wired. No phone in her pocket. No cell tower exists to track her. We know "She's dead! Wrapped in plastic!". But no one at her high school and no one on Facebook knows. There was no Facebook.

Later in the story the murdered Laura's best friend asks a friend "If you see James, tell him I am looking for him".
Would such a line even be written now that we are all universally available 24/7?

When Kyle McClachlan's character, an FBI agent, drives to Twin Peaks to investigate whether this killing is part of a pattern, he has no idea where he is going to stay. He wants "Someplace clean. Reasonably priced". He asks the town's sheriff, Harry S Truman, if he, the sheriff,knows a hotel that fits the bill.

Today, we ask Google. Back then, when humans were the only characters, we had to ask other people. And when this agent has a memorable piece of cherry pie at the Lamplighter Inn, he records his pleasure on a tape he will send to his secretary at the bureau. He does not post a review on Yelp!.

What mystery is there when every one knows everything about everybody?. When surveillance cameras see all. When GPS trackers replace bloodhounds.

Oh, bliss! Many episodes to go, and another whole season of "Twin Peaks" to watch, and the only spoiler will be my memory.

What's left of it-

Friday, October 25, 2013

Dogs Know Shoes-

* To Readers-ignore the dates on all these photos. They were taken today. I have since re-educated the wayward camera responsible!

The pensive dogs pictured here are dogs without expectations. They have no immediate hopes because their owner is, at present, shoeless.

Anyone who has seen the film "Legally Blonde" remembers the scene in which Elle Woods exposes a prosecution witness who is lying about having had an affair with Ms Wood's client. The witness outed himself by making a bitchy comment about our heroine's shoes. Elle knows there was no affair, for her client is female, and the witness is gay.

"Gay men know shoes!", she tells her law partners.

Dogs know shoes as well, for shoes are the pedometers of their happiness.

My gray running shoes are a signifier of all sorts of pleasant things- damp walks in the woods, the smell of deer downwind, a chipmunk darting into a stone wall, a chicken wing dropped by a picnicker.

Unless- those same shoes go on late at night after I put on a blue scrub uniform. Then they mean 9 hours of bedroom detention (to prevent them from howling at the possums who are eating cat food on the porch).

Blue suede Oxfords might mean a trip to the store.Unless it is July, when no dog gets to wait in the car. If it is November, pleading and whining may get them into the front seat, though what is interesting about the Publix parking lot is lost on me, though I do not doubt this is my loss, since I do not live life with the optimism and exuberance of a dog.

I also have a pair of gold flats. Fast to get into and fast to get out of, which makes them, in any season, good for a fast trip outside to do the necessaries.

My beagle understands this, and he knows how much I appreciate speed. He knows I will be peevish if he tries to turn a bathroom break into an impromptu outing all over the parking lot.

The Shih Tzu, being stubborn and sometimes manipulative, sees those gold shoes and knows that here is opportunity. By refusing to do what he is supposed to do, he can get a trip down to a faraway grassy knoll or a fire hydrant, even at four in the morning. He does not care if his owner is freezing and wheezing and hissing all sorts of insults at him.

Dogs know shoes-

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Tennessee Weekly Howler- First Edition October 23, 2013

The Tennessean, Nashville's daily newspaper has put up a pay wall, so for news I now go to the TV station web sites. I think some of our state and local news is so compelling that it begs to be shared, and here are some recent highlights.


Apropos of my recent post on disgruntled Colorado coyotes, coyotes are making the news in these parts as well. A Clarksville, Tennessee citizen saw one in her front yard near her mailbox "drooling' and acting peculiar. She called the local police, and the officer who showed up dispatched the coyote with his handgun. Unfortunately he also sent bullets into the bedroom of a nearby house and into someone's parked car. Lucky for all but the coyote that the Swat Team did not show up-

And in Johnson City, up in the East Tennessee mountains a squirrel ran amok in a Dollar General store. The Dollar Generalites called the law, and when he showed up, he pepper sprayed the squirrel, then peppered both squirrel and store with gunfire.

Some accounts report that the squirrel died. Some are unclear as to its fate, but everyone agrees that the officer was fired.

Perhaps he should apply for a job in Williamson County ASAP, for even as I write this, there are several escaped elk running around in the median strip of a four lane highway down there. One onlooker described one of elk as "as big as a Suburban" SUV. These are" pet elk" according to reports, which also says these animals have escaped before.

This sounds like terrorism to me, a deliberate attempt to terrify the people of Williamson county. This calls for helicopters and a lock down of the Cool Springs Mall. People at the Whole Foods need to shelter in place-

Now when I was a young woman living in New Hampshire, I often saw photos of animals who were in the wrong part of town. Moose were famous for wandering about. I saw photos of a bull moose walking into a mall, coming down the Congregational Church steps, and trying to get into one of those liquor stores planted on the Massachusetts- New Hampshire border. Interrupting the minister is unforgivable, but crashing the package store is understandable, given the dismal New Hampshire winter-

Now I suppose that some government entity would do a background check on these rampant moose to make sure there was no Chechen connection. Should investigators find one, they might order a drone strike, though this might be a problem in Tennessee where there are no moose but plenty of other non targets that no one would want to aim a missile at.

Imagine what would happen if a drone fired on the Tennessee-Alabama Fireworks store by mistake? Half of Chattanooga would disappear and the other half would have Goo-Goo clusters and pieces of black velvet Elvis paintings raining down on it-


When I go out to work at the clinic on Saturday night, I travel through and to two exclusive Nashville neighborhoods. The former is Hillwood on Post Road, where the price of inclusion is money. The latter is the Little Big House out on Centennial Boulevard, where the price of inclusion is a felony conviction. Twixt the two this reporter sees many interesting things-

On one recent Saturday evening my Toyota and I were about to head down Nine Mile Hill into the Nashville basin when I saw two bright blue beacon lights crossing and cris-crossing the sky. They were leaving earth somewhere north of Nob Hill and the WSMV tower.

I confess to being stumped. What did they signify? Whose attention were they trying to get?

Was a local hospital trying to lure helicopters bearing patients with excellent insurance to its ER doors? Had Mr Whiskers Discount Liquors received a truck load of two dollar Rose?

Indeed not. As I pulled out onto White Bridge Road and headed west I saw the beams shooting skyward from what used to be the old Verizon store. Verizon no more, it had swathed itself in black and purple paint and was lit from within with subdued lighting befitting my idea of an opium den. And in the parking lot I saw a sign trying to be a fountain, or a fountain trying to be a sign. It looked like a big screen TV trapped inside a waterfall of purple highlights. On either side of the sign were two faux Tiki Torches.

The "Pleasures Romance Boutique" had arrived in Nashville. On White Bridge Road. Across the street and west a bit from the St Mary Parish Villa, a Bundt cake Shop, Pier One, and the Lion's Head Shopping Center. East of the Kiwanis Circle seasonal Pumpkin patch, a dialysis clinic, and The Two Danes furniture store.

At my computer the next morning, I searched for "Pleasures Romance Boutique", and found stories on both WKRN and WSMV websites. After all, if you cannot trust TV anchors Ann Holt and Demetria Kalodimos, who are watched over by the benign shades of the late Bill Hall and Dan Miller, who can you trust in this city?

Was I surprised that neighbors had complained to the local city councilman? He reassured them that the minute the store went over the 30% limit on explicit merchandise, the city would make the boutique move downtown where only the tourists would see it-.

After all, said this councilman, who seemed to have honed his speaking skills at the Anthony Weiner Institute of Public Relations," In Nashville we have a sexually-oriented business board, and they have inspectors".

I bet they do, but the store's manager was not taking chances. She told WKRN that her business "will be very classy, because we don't cater to the vulgar side". A sex therapist consultant for the store agreed, saying the store's wares had "an educational component", and he hinted that board games such as "Dirty Minds" might help save many a dull and lifeless Nashville marriage, for after all, "This is a high-class, quality store".

Again, the Councilman, reporting complaints-:"People think it interrupts their family life".

Well, I suppose it might if you were a fatally curious soccer mom who stopped in one afternoon, leaving three 10 year old boys waiting in her mini-van outside-

Words such as upscale and classy flew all over this story like Sandhill cranes, but local commentators were having none of it. One pointed out that this part of White Bridge Road was not Beverly Hills. "Go a quarter of a mile down and it's ghetto as all get out', he said.

Others thought the TV stations were overly sensational in calling the area close to Belle Meade, which I must agree with, since that rarefied suburb is not only on the other side of Harding Road, it is on the other side of real railroad tracks.

The right side, of course.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

What Would E.B. White Say?

Here is a headline of an AOL story this afternoon. I saw it as I was about to sign in to my e-mail.

"Colorado Man Attacked by Three Coyotes Walking To Work".

All I can say about this is that the coyotes were undoubtedly in a bad mood since they were on their way in to a job they hated, and on foot, since no human would sell them a car. Perhaps if the man had encountered them at the neighborhood bar after work they would have been more affable and invited him to join them. God knows, those coyotes love beer!

Thus does the English language make fools of us all.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

In Two Nashville Gardens- October 15, 2013

Every month or so I post photos from two Nashville gardens to show the progression of the seasons. Here are some October photos-

How I hope our first frost holds off for a little while!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pony Club

This past Saturday evening I put the hounds in the truck, and drove to Percy Warner Park for a walk. The steeplechase course seemed like a good idea. This time of year the air is cool, the grass is short, and the ticks are few. But when we walked up the hill on top of the field I saw it already taken, for this was the weekend of the Pony Club Trials. We would have to stick to the main drive and be content with a walk on the periphery.

The scene from above, looking down and over towards the fields and the stables was panoramic. Bruegel-esque.

Ponies jumping, well wishers cheering. An announcer announcing.

The dogs and I stopped. They sniffed. I looked, though I had neither camera nor binoculars. I had plans to move along, since my adult life has had little to do with horses, and horses have had nothing to do with me, but the dogs dawdled and I lingered for ten minutes or so.

At first the pony jumping seemed random, but then I began to follow it, and I found myself unexpectedly entertained.

A small person-too far away to be judged male or female-came trotting onto the course on a stubby pony called "Dudley Do-Right". Dudley looked as though he would be more at home in the hills of Scotland, but he was a game little animal with lots of spark. When it came to jumping he was a business man closing a deal. Over he went, short as he was, and when he trotted back to start, people applauded his earnestness.

Not so enthusiastic was another pony. He was bored. His trot was bored, and I am certain his little rider was at wit's end. This horse approached the jump as though it was a gate to be stopped at. And stop he did. His rider turned him around, and this time he deigned to trot forward. He hopped over the fence as though it was a puddle.

Restless dogs pulled me a long a bit,but we stopped again.

Here came another mini rider on a mini horse, and though they were a good distance away, they glowed like a Halloween pumpkin, for the rider was wearing a day-glo orange riding helmet. I would not have bothered to even note this,had the horse not been wearing some kind of orange matching boots on his front feet. I never heard the announcer announce the name of this flashy pony, but I hope it was not "Little Orange" or" Mr U.T.".( Some people's college football mania invades every corner of their lives).

We started to walk again, but then heard cries of "Help me! Help Me!.

Out on the edge of the jumping range a pony had taken off full speed in the wrong direction headed down toward Old Hickory Boulevard. He took his rider halfway down, but she stayed on, and at some point the horse's conscience kicked in and he slowed down and stopped. Down sped an official 4 wheeler, to make sure all was well.

This was enough for me. Dusk was coming, and we had to keep walking and away we went. We saw two turkeys in the woods that came up and crossed the drive, and this set the beagle howling.

We turned and came back, but the meet was over and the ponies were going away in their trailers. When we walked back out there this evening a small tractor was carrying the jumps away.

Lucky are girls whose parents let them have a horse, and deep must be those parents' pockets.

I have said I have little to do with horses, but when I was twelve, owning one was my greatest hope. I bicycled after school up to a stable owned by a man named Bill Hall. I mucked out the stables in return for riding lessons. I learned to take small jumps.During a dry spell I helped bring the horses down to the Little Sugar River for water.
One night I rode a placid old trainer horse-half Percheron draft horse. He was big and white and his back was a wide as a sofa, which was a good thing , because when he smelled the river he took off with me riding bareback and bouncing un-mercifully. Fifty years later I can still see those giant feet beneath me, big enough to crush my head.

My horse dreams did not last.

We moved. We had little money. We moved again. My enthusiasm leached away, and when, later in life, I could have afforded a horse, I never thought of it, for for me had been a "phase", and young girls have their phases. They want to be horsewomen or they break it to their parents that they want to become a nun. They want to be an ornithologist or a world explorer.

How relieved their mothers are when these girls come to their senses and settle for less-

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Noodle Casserole with Apples and Cheese

I found the bones of this recipe in "Hometown Cooking in New England", a collection of recipes from community cookbooks compiled by Sandra Taylor and published by Yankee magazine twenty years ago. I was looking for some ideas about using apples, and if one wants apple recipes New England cookbooks are the place to find them-

I bought the apples at a farm market store called The Green Door Gourmet which is out on the River Road that follows the Cumberland as it flows north to Ashland City. They are good non-synthetic apples that taste like apples, and they did not have that creepy, shiny look of the lacquered supermarket kinds.

I had to adapt the recipe, which came out of the "Poker Hill Cookbook" from Underhill, Vermont. I had to substitute because I had no cheddar cheese and no mace spice. I had everything thing else, which is a good thing since without the apples the recipe would have been a non starter-

I used Buttermilk Farmhouse cheese I had also bought at the "Green Door", and I topped the casserole with crushed up toasted breadcrumbs. I substituted cinnamon for mace and added a pinch or two of ground fenugreek to add a little maple sugar taste. I also added 3 tbs. of Ricotta cheese for no reason other than I felt like it. When I cook the tinkering never stops-

Here are the ingredients:

7 ounces of cooked noodles. The cookbook did not specify what noodle, so I used fideo, which are nothing other than vermicelli broken into inch long pieces. I think egg noodles or orzo would work as well.

1/2 cup cheddar cheese or Buttermilk farmhouse cheese,grated.

3 tbs Ricotta cheese.

3 tbs butter,melted.

2 cups of peeled, diced apples.

1/2 cup packed brown sugar, plus a tablespoon or two to sprinkle on top.

A few pinches of cinnamon, to taste. A pinch or two of ground fenugreek, though this is optional.

1/4 cup panko crumbs or toasted bread crumbs.

Pour the noodles into a 2 quart greased casserole. Add the butter and cheese and toss and mix well. Then add the apples, the seasonings and the sugar and mix again. Sprinkle the Panko crumbs over the top, and then the extra brown sugar.

Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Uncover and bake another 15 minutes.

This should serve 4-6 people and is an obvious brunch dish.

I found this cookbook at an estate sale, and I would bet that someone bought it on a trip to New England, perhaps in autumn when they drove north to see the leaves turn. This is just the book one would find in a gift shop or at the welcome desk at a country inn.

Just looking through it takes me back four decades to my life in New Hampshire and Vermont. To the Saturday night buffets at the Woodstock Inn in Vermont. To the all day bike trips through the Kedron Valley. To the farm stands along the Connecticut River in towns like Orford and Norwich.

Cookbooks are a lot more than just recipes.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Another Nashville Autumn Garden-Green Hills

Here are some photos of the Green Hills garden I take care of.

And last of all, a bowling green for chipmunks! Courtesy of an Osage orange tree. Weeding in this back garden is dangerous-