Friday, November 29, 2019

Marlborough Pudding

Dear Bakeists,

Did you get your Marlborough Pudding made?  It was custardy, faintly boozy, and unusual; the flavor reminded me of desserts like brandied fruitcake or zabaglione. 

Let's make these Milk Bar cake truffles next.  Meet you back here later!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

We never get old.

Dear Peter Pan and Wendy,

It just dawned on me, and you will find it unbelievable, that when people say they will not grow old, that they mean that they will die before they get old.  I see now that this has been an enormous misapprehension of many things- poems, songs, essays, and novels.  I tell you, I really thought it was meant more metaphorically, as in, they will be forever young in spirit.  Or, that it meant that they will never grow up in some ways, remaining childish or immature.  Or that it meant that they were cursed with a kind of magical stasis.  That it is a euphemism for dying young, hadn't hit me until today. 

Today's song for today is one that I have been misunderstanding in this way for 33 years.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

A Bottle of Look Like Her.


Come a little closer; I don't want everyone to hear.  It feels a little confessional, and I am sorry to burden you, because our love is so pure, our relationship is on a high plane of enlightenment looking down at these earthly concerns.  Ours is une affaire d'esprit.

I was maybe 5, or even 4, when I first realized I wasn't what I was supposed to be.  It seems ludicrous to me now that as a sub-six year old I would have any notion of what to be.  By 'be' I mean the specifically female awareness of 'what you are supposed to look like.' 

There were ways I was supposed to behave, too, of course, but those were more direct expectations;  Be seen and not heard.  Sit quietly.  Don't run around in here.  These directives were mostly spoken, and they mostly had to do with not making noise, now that I consider it.  So, here was what I had for tools at age six:  Shut Up, Now!; and, You Are All Wrong. 

My hair was wrong, my body was way wrong, and my face was wrong, too; I needed glasses.  Oh, and did I mention my feet?  Well, they were so wrong that only one kind of shoe would fit them.  I feel terrible guilt about this, because now I love saddle shoes in tan and navy.  But this comes from a mature eye- it took me 20 years to learn to love those dorky, clunky, ├╝ber cool shoes.  When it was all I could get, I hated them.  They were not lovely, girly, princessy, shoes.  They were boyish and drab.  They had stupid laces, instead of patent leather straps and buckles.  There was a lot of self-loathing in those days.

It's all a continuum.  My awareness that I was not right visually is nothing compared to a woman born with three elbows, or 7 toes.  Or whatever else it is that makes a person think they should buy a bottle, tube, or jar of "Look Like Her."  I have hundreds of these bottles, and I still don't look like Her.  I wonder if anything can be done for us, in our self-made hell of in-adequacy?  I mean, of course, that a million things can be done, but is there a universally useful change that could be made in the way we peddle images pretending to be products?

Sunday, November 10, 2019

In typical precise order.

Dear Streets,

Your song for today has been heard on the Dodo before, but it must be played again, and I recommend, just for this song, a whiskey and soda with a little lemon twist.  It's a darn fine combination.

I think I have told you about seeing the incomparable Jonathan Richman in 1989 or 1990?  He played a place we used to go to for interesting music called The Barn.  When I try to determine where it was now, it's all a low fog of causeway and Delta flatness.  Suffice it to say it was there, it was small, it was real, and I fell for Jonathan Richman like a ton of bricks; you would have too, he is solid charisma.

This song's trudging passages, alternating with frenzied staccato still send me.  Here are some chords if you want to try it for yourself.

I'll never see you anymore.

Dear Listeners,

Oh man!  Check this out!  I hate to send you there, because, you will never come by here anymore.  Still, I can't just keep you in the dark and save you for only me, so this could be goodbye....

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Bake Along.

Dear Bakers and Cooks,

Hey!  I have an idea!  Let's have a bake along!  The neighbors tree is loaded with apples, and I found this interesting dessert at Atlas Obscura's food subdivision: Gastro Obscura (yes, you should check it out). 

The whole recipe is on this short film*- I am going to bake the Marlborough Pudding in Old Bess, our trusty oven even.  I hope someone out there will use a hearth and a cast iron dutch oven. 

Let's meet again soon to discuss results!  Oh, and, I think that just isn't enough butter in that pastry, but maybe I will try it that way....

*  Say, did the sharp viewers notice that something extra is poured into the pudding?!?  It was melted butter!  Here is a written recipe

Sunday, November 3, 2019

The Birds.

Dear Looking Out the Window,

Oh my!  They are everywhere right now- the Raven is talking to himself in the window of the barn to the North, the finches are moving in a tight flock of chirping, the shrubs send up cyclones of sparrows when I walk out the door.  There are bluebirds in the bath, and towhees, flickers, doves, thrashers, and wrens scuffling on the ground. 

When you begin to watch birds, as a verb, a hobby, to birdwatch; at first it is all leaves and splitseconds.  The feathers are indistinguishable from the foliage, and if you are lucky enough to spot something moving, it’s like a flashbulb and there isn’t time to recognize anything more than that it might have been a bird?  As you put in your hours, though, forms begin to emerge from the leaves- after awhile, you have a sense of bird and non-bird, and gradually, there is enough time to see some things that approach details: brownish, a forked tail, a roundness, a long pointed beak.  Eventually, you can glimpse but a shadow and know that it was an oak titmouse.  You also become attuned to the sounds of the different birds; even the sounds of the wingbeats.  In fact, after a long while at it, you can become quite amazed at the variety of details that you are able to identify.  Things that in the early days you never dreamed you could notice- things like the rising and falling arc that certain birds make in flight.  Or, the sound of some birds’ feet, as they scuffle around in the leaf litter.  It’s all very distinctive, it turns out.

The time of counting for Project Feederwatch is very soon, and I hope this year you will sign on and make a regular appointment with your backyard birds.  The practice of looking is very rewarding.