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.