Monthly Archives: December 2013

All the salt in the world couldn’t melt that ice



Here’s our street on the afternoon of December 18. At least this snowstorm (on the 17th) wasn’t immediately followed by sleet, unlike the preceding storm (December 14/15). There’s still a sheet of ice underneath everything, but not on top.


You can see the ice in this photo from the afternoon of the 15th. This was the only time we took the dog out without booties; poor thing was walking with her toes splayed out so much it looked like duck feet.


Here she is with the booties on her front feet; she’s much happier that way, though you can’t really tell in the picture. Overall she seemed to manage the snow and ice in a less freaked-out manner than last winter (see photo from last February’s “winter storm Nemo“), but I’m sure we’ve got bigger storms coming.



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Filed under animals, seasons, weather

North African stew (adapted)

At our December book club meeting, our lovely hostess made a delicious North African stew. She had adapted the recipe from Cooking for Mr. Latte by Amanda Hesser (the original calls for lamb). She kindly sent out her adapted recipe, which I then adapted further, but not much. The ingredients and directions are below, with my adjustments in brackets.

2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic
2 medium onions, diced [1 onion]
2 medium turnips, peeled and diced (1/2 inch-ish cubes) [couldn’t find turnips, used parsnips instead]
2 medium Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced (1/2 inch-ish cubes) [1 potato]
4 carrots, peeled and diced
[2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and diced]
2/3 cup dried apricots
2/3 cup prunes
4-6 cups water or vegetable broth
Optional: chickpeas

[Note: Because everything is added more or less at once, it is handy to do the vegetable prep work beforehand, so everything is ready to go once you start melting the butter.]

Melt butter in large dutch oven. Add the onions, sauté 5-7 minutes. Add oil, salt, cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, garlic. Stir for 30 seconds. Add vegetables and dried fruit. Pour in enough broth/water to cover the vegetables and bring to a boil. Lower the heat so the bubbles are sparse and languid; cover and simmer gently for 2 hours, or until tender. Some of the vegetables and fruits should have blended into a thin but flavorful sauce. Serve with hearty bread, couscous or rice pilaf. [I made Irish soda bread from the America’s Test Kitchen recipe. Yum.]

[Note: This serves at least 8. It also keeps well in the fridge for a few days.]


Filed under food, friends, recipe

Possession is nine tenths of the law, says the dog in the recliner

No dog pictures for the last, what, three posts? Four? This place is going to the– nope. Not gonna say it.


Here she is on a walk around Horn Pond in Woburn with Greyhound Adventures a few weeks ago.


But who wants to be outdoors when you could be indoors, right? Outdoors is for the birds.



As our friend remarked, she takes her retirement seriously.




Maybe for her birthday we’ll take her to Jordan’s Furniture. Except they probably have a “no dogs allowed” policy, which is good, because we would never, ever be able to drag her out of there. Her mind would probably explode from the sheer joy of ALL THOSE COUCHES.

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Department of Redundancy Department, how may we help or assist you?

Screenshot taken just moments ago:

Screen shot 2013-12-03 at 6.15.29 PM

No. Just no. PIN stands for “Personal Identification Number,” therefore E-ZPass is asking me to enter my personal identification number number. Argh. Clearly this was something devised by CENTRAL Central Intelligence.

I hear this a lot, and as much as I try not to let it annoy me, it does. Also, “ATM machine.” The “M” stands for machine!

And we’re done here.


Filed under grammar, rants


That once-in-a-lifetime holiday, Thanksgivikkah (sp?), proved at least one thing: cranberry sauce is just as good with latkes as applesauce is.


Thanksgiving food was center stage for the first few nights of Hanukkah, but by night six, I roused myself to make latkes.

I’ve never posted my recipe for latkes on this blog before, so here it is now. I am presupposing you have a food processor; if not, you can chop potatoes and onions by hand, or use a box grater. I hope you have onion goggles.


2 potatoes
1/2 onion
1 egg
salt and pepper
cooking oil (several tablespoons. Now is not the time to be sparing with the oil.)

Scrub potatoes and cut out any eyes or bad spots. (You can also peel them entirely if you’re finicky about potato peel.) Cut them into large chunks (but not so large they won’t fit down the spout of a food processor). Cut the onion likewise. Feed potato and onion into the food processor.

In a separate, medium bowl, beat the egg. Transfer the potato/onion mixture to the bowl with the egg, add salt and pepper, and mix until combined.

In a skillet (preferably cast-iron), heat the oil on medium heat until it pops and spits when you flick water into it. Spoon the latke mixture in; I can fit about three latkes in a 10″ skillet. (You don’t want them to be too crowded or they’ll be hard to flip.) When they start browning on the bottom and will stick together, flip them until they brown on the other side.

When the first batch is cooked, transfer them to a cooling rack lined with a paper towel (or, if you’re making a larger batch and you need to keep them warm, put them on a cookie sheet in the oven at 200 F).

Serve with your choice – applesauce, sour cream, cranberry sauce (Thanksgivikkah!), a sprinkle of sugar, or nothing at all.

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Filed under food, holiday, recipe

Pumpkin Chestnut Soup

I posted a version of this soup before, but here’s what I did this time (without looking back at the previous one).


2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 onion
1 16-oz. can of pumpkin
1 package cooked chestnuts
4-6 cups chicken broth and water
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup apple cider (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 F and peel and cube sweet potatoes. Toss the cubes with some olive oil, salt and pepper, and roast at 400 for about 20 minutes, turning once (these were smallish sweet potatoes to begin with and I cut small cubes; larger cubes of potatoes will take a little longer).

Meanwhile, chop the onion and saute it in butter in a soup pot. Once the onion has softened, add the water and broth and bring to a simmer. (You could add a bay leaf here; I forgot.) Stir in the pumpkin, the chestnuts, and the roasted sweet potatoes and let the soup simmer for a while. Add cider (this was an impulse; I had the last inch of a half-gallon of cider in the fridge). Remove bay leaf, if using, let the soup cool just slightly, then puree with an immersion blender.

Without the carrots, milk, and cream, the chestnut flavor is very strong; great if you really love chestnuts, but if you want a milder flavor, go ahead and include the carrots and dairy. (And the cinnamon and nutmeg, of course; I forgot those too. It was kind of a spur-of-the-moment soup.)

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