Sunday, May 12, 2013

1812 Orange Liqueur Recipe

This recipe came from a book called Advice to a Young Lady in the Colonies; being a letter sent from Mrs. E. of England to Maria Macarthur in the Colony of N.S. Wales in 1812.

 Apparently "Mrs. E" was some kind of godmother to the young lady and new bride who had just set off to begin her housekeeping in Australia. It is principally concerned with food; recipes, menus suitable for different sizes of parties and occasions, etc.

I have had this book forever. Someone gave it to me at some point years and years ago, and it looked interesting, but sat on my shelf. Every time I moved and went through my books, I would look at it and say 'oh yes, that, still looks interesting, still totally mean to look at it one day,' put it in a box, schlep it to the next place, put it on the shelf, and there it would sit till I moved again.

I think this is where having had to make the very hard choices on what to move 2300 miles came in handy- if I decided to take it, I sure as hell better finally crack the pages and do something with it.

Upon finally perusing its pages, I found the following recipe

"Orange Liqueur

Into a wide-mouthed glass jar put a quart of good brandy, a pound of powdered lump sugar and a quarter of a stick of vanilla. Stir these until the sugar is melted. Then put in one fine, smooth-rinded, unspotted orange, whole, without being cut in any way. Cover the jar close, and set it aside in a warm place. This liquer takes two or three months to make, so as to be well impregnated with the perfume of the orange."

"Yes, let's definitely do that thing" said we "sounds yummy'. However this proved somewhat easier said than done, since upon further reflection, this list of ingredients actually started to look pretty foreign.

 For starters, we realized that what we thought of by 'powdered sugar' was probably not the same as what someone in New South Wales in 1812 would think of. Upon consultation with some educated folks, the general consensus was no, it isn't, and your best bet is probably to get some natural cone sugar from a Mexican market. 

The label said "Before best December 2014"....which is how you know it's legit. 

Unfortunately, this was not 'powdered'. No matter......

Me: "Am I being insane about this?"
Brian: "Yes, but its cool, we're the same kind of insane"
Me: "Ah, alright then, just so long as I have company...."

I powdered it myself. 

I got it mostly powdered, with some small chunks left I was hoping would just dissolve. As it was, there is actually still quite a bit of sediment in the bottom which does not seem to have any intention of further dissolving. Brian assures it will be fine and we can strain it if we need to, but in future I'm not gonna stop hammering till it's smooth. 

We also weren't entirely sure about what a 'stick' of vanilla would be. We are guessing this must be a bean. I mean, they're pretty stick-like. They are also, as it turns out, extremely expensive. Luckily the recipe doesn't call for much. I actually put in one half of the two beans you get in a jar for $8.50 at Kroger. 

"I cost more than a latte."

This was another point of 'Are we being insane? well, yes, but let's just accept that and go with it."

In other words, yes, one could probably figure out a conversion to just use vanilla extract, but by then we were hell bent on actually recreating the original recipe. At this point we had spent at least two months talking about this and tracking down the ingredients. I believe the orange I finally put in there was the third one we had bought for the purpose, since the other two had gone bad waiting to be used.

Since it said 2-3 months we are hoping it will be ready to share at Jane Austen Festival in July. 

This shit had better be fucking delicious.........

The orange 'impregnating' the brandy.....should I be blurring this?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Notes from the Victorian Man

Hey look, my honey started a new blog- ya'll should check it out and follow.

Drawstring dress- complete!

Finally, a mere 2+ months from beginning this thing, it is FINISHED.

The bodice pattern was draped by the amazing and talented Maggie Waterman

Posing for this shot involved my boyfriend saying the phrase 'yeah, I can back up and take it' yeah, that happened......

I made the bottom ruffle as a separate piece. It is attached it at the top of the ruffle, with the bottom roughly even with the hem of the dress, hanging over about 1/4". It was easier to leave the bottom unattached rather than try to get it all to lay down smooth, and it doesn't seem to be flopping or rising up about as I wear it (knock on wood). If it becomes an issue I'll just tack it down in a few places. 

Dorset buttons from Waiting for these to come in the mail was the final thing holding this up, even after I had worn the damn thing. Cannot tell you how good it felt to sew them on there and label this dress as DONE.

In action as Lizzy Bennet in Vevay, Indiana 
Photo by Andrea Kappes

There was a fair amount of obsessing to get the right about of poof in the sleeves- from how long to make them, to how much I wanted the sleeves to come onto my hand, to how long the trim should be for that to happen, to moving the wristbands around once they were in and I had worn it once. I  must say, I am pretty damned please with myself on the results. 

'Cause that's how we roll...........

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Cabbage and Potato Soup

Hopefully this one doesn't look too similar to the last one. We added lentils again for a bit of protein, but it would be fine without them. The cinnamon stick adds a very different flavor, and cabbage is my current new-found vegetable.

Hellooo little have an appointment,  with my stomach! 

1/2 onion
enough olive oil to coat the bottom of your pot
4 garlic cloves sliced - leave big enough that they will pop up as a tasty morsel in your soup
1/2 green cabbage chopped
2 medium potatoes cubed
1 can stewed tomatoes- you may need to chop these but be careful not to lose the juice. You want that for your broth.
1/2 cup lentils (optional)
8 cups water
3 small bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
*basil to your liking
salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in pan then begin sauteing garlic for a minute or two. Add and saute onions & cabbage for  5-10 minutes. The Cabbage needs a bit of time to begin to soften and wilt. Add salt, ground pepper and basil. It will smell awesome- you're welcome.

Add water, tomatoes, potatoes, lentils if you are using them, and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil then simmer for about 30 minutes.

Made three hearty meals for two people. Probably more if you added bread in there.

*some of the recipes I was looking at called for dill, but we didn't have any and I hate leaving the house.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Weekend productivity. Shocking, I know.

Today I finally tackled (half of) the ever growing, ever looming mending pile. It's been sitting there, in the corner, taunting me, as it ate my wardrobe, piece by piece. I think frequently the simple projects are the ones which get put off the longest. The 'oh, I just need to run a few stitches through it...." and cut to a year later, where I have sewn three ballgowns, but that 2 minute project where I sew three inches is still pulsating in the corner like the the Tell Tale To Do Item.

The breaking point was getting out of the shower on a Saturday morning and realizing that I had no jeans available without tears in them. So I put on the rest of my clothes (yes, this is a story where I sew without pants) and finally got to it. Once you start, it's freakin' exhilarating.

It's like going shopping, but for broke people!

The rest required buttons, which will require a trip to JoAnn's in the near future (read, you will be getting an update on the second part of the pile sometime in early 2014....right about the time it has redoubled to its original size....). 

In other sewing related news, the drawstring dress is 99.9% done. I just need to get some cord for the wristbands. I will do a final update with lots of pics then, but for now...

mmmm, yummy ruffly goodness.....

Friday, March 1, 2013

Shameless plug for my mama's enterprises

If you enjoy my ramblings at all, you may want to travel with Thalassa.

Check out my mama's blog for tarot goodness, cute pictures of animals, and advice on being a 'stormtrooper for civilization'. A winning combo if ever there was one!

Thalassa in all her glory. 

Like mother, like daughter :-)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

My life; a magical adventure involving gourds.

So, what exactly is it that I'm doin' here?

Most people I know have blogs designated for particular purposes; sewing, character diaries,cooking, personal stuff, etc. This one has so far been pretty random; books, cooking, sewing, character stuff, amusing anecdotes about my adventures, and the occasional serious thoughts. Basically, my life.

You got a problem with that?

There are the labels of course, if you look down at the bottoms of my posts, you will see categories each post is in and click on it for more like that. However I don't really think anyone does that.

I keep thinking I need to rewrite my description at the top, since I am no longer in fact a grad student. I guess I could just cross it out and write 'adjunct'. God knows that pays nothing and eats up a ridiculous amount of time as well. That seems to be the one thing I *haven't* been blogging much about, but it is going on. It takes a huge amount of time, but it is rewarding. And I know a lot of this is because it is the first semester and I have nothing made up already. Hopefully in future that will work out a bit better.

So, if you were looking for a particular purpose here, there isn't one. Just me, livin' my life, making shit and engaging in shenanigans, historical and otherwise :-).

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lentil Soup

So since I met the Fella, I have been introduced to the magic of lentils. Delicious, nutritious, and no pre-soaking or any of that malarchy involved! Tonight was my first actual experience cooking with them, and it seems to be a resounding success! I made up the following after looking at a few different recipes and based on what we actually had in the house.

All the recipes I found online called for using vegetable stock, which I did not do because a) it is chock FULL of sodium and goodness knows what else and b) there is no reason for it! If you have a nice base of olive oil and onions plus other delicious ingredients, in this case including the juices from a can of stewed tomatoes, you will get plenty of flavor. There is no reason to go with prepackaged sodium filled garbage!

Lentil Veggie Soup

Enough olive oil to coat the bottom of your pot.
(The) 1 small (sad) carrot (left in the fridge).
2 stalks cellery
1/2 yellow onion
Kosher salt- about a tablespoon
Several grindings worth of black pepper
2 bay leaves
basil and oregano - a goodly amount (Yes, that's a unit of measurement now).
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar.
1 1/2 cups lentils
8 cups water

Heat olive oil in the bottom of your pot on medium and chop the veggies. Add garlic and kosher salt once the oil is warm, followed by the chopped veggies and other seasonings (except the vinegar). Most recipes tell you to saute onions before other veggies, but I've started putting them in with the carrots and celery because those things take a little while to cook, and I don't like to destroy my onions.

Saute until veggies are tender. In the meantime make sure you don't like, need to chop the tomatoes. Because apparently those can still be in pretty big chunks, and you wouldn't want to have to them out of your soup once you dump the can in to chop...yeah...anyway...

Once veggies are getting tender, add water, lentils, and tomatoes. Make sure you don't drain the tomatoes or lose any of their juicy goodness, you want that for your broth.  Raise to a boil, then simmer till lentils are tender, about 20-30 minutes.

Once it seems ready, take a final taste test. Add any salt, pepper, etc. Then and only then add in the vinegar.

Serve with fresh baked bread, if your honey is awesome and makes you fresh bread :-)

Drawstring dress- Yesterday's Progress

Yesterday was apparently Skirt Day for both Maggie and I. Perhaps if we ask really nicely she will show us what she did too :-) 

On this end, I got it in one piece, gathered and stitched it into the waistband. There is a great deal more to do, but it is now actually a dress!

(That side back seam is going to get some more attention, but first I need to try it on and see how everything is fitting with the weight of the skirt.)

Sunday, February 24, 2013

I do things- drawstring dress (in progress)

So back on the 'I really do do things' track, I find myself here in Regency/Federal Land- and what a marvelous excuse to make all kinds of delightful things! I already have the gold dress from last summer and the set of stays I made for it, of course, however now that I am here I needed to begin building my regency wardrobe in earnest.

Since I already have the stays, and a passable (if not great) shift, this begins with a dress. Yes, I know, I already have *a* dress, but that one is specific. What I needed was the all purpose, white, long sleeved drawstring regency dress. It's the 'little black dress' of the regency. The basic wardrobe piece from which all else may build.

Luckily I already had fabric. When I went down to the garment district with Laura at costume college last summer I had regency on the brain, and came back with five yards of some lovely woven white striped cotton.

Maggie approved. 
(It was produced, as demanded, to be rolled in upon our last visit to Birdsall Cottage)

What I needed next, of course, was a pattern. Enter the amazing Maggie Waterman; having pleased her with my offering of fabric to be rolled in, I was rewarded with my very own draped-by-Maggie (tm) pattern! The awesome part about this is that she traced it over my stays, so it covers them nicely. I wish there was a picture of this process, because it was fun and awesome, but just imagine Maggie bustling around and positioning me and working her magic. 

All that was left for me to figure out was the shoulder strap and making the sleeve pattern she had traced me off something else fit. Then followed an OBSESSIVE amount of staring at fashion plates, paintings, pictures of extant garments and books to decide if I wanted to have a separate shoulder strap of make it one piece with the bodice front. Examples of both abound. Maggie's advice was that having it separate gives you two places to adjust from and keeps it straight on the grain line. I think I eventually went with it because it doesn't look right to my modern sensibilities, (but dear lord have I now stared at enough examples to know that it is right).  I like things like that. 

The sleeve also required some adjustment to go from fitting Maggie's arm to mine. 

This is a way bigger pain in the ass in practice than anyone will tell you.

This involved Brian holding the computer with Maggie on Skype up over this thing on the floor while I cursed and fucked with it. It was awesome.

Since the fabric is see-through, I did french seems on everything that isn't curved. I will end up clipping down the sleeves and center back seems, but I'm waiting till I am absolutely sure I don't need to fuss with it more. Right now there is just a little bit of extra fabric pooch in the sides, but I think once I have the weight from the skirt pulling it down it will be fine. 

I also hand stitched down the top seam for the drawstring channel and the sleeves. 

Making this work over all the angles is a major pain in the ass at first, but as you go along it gets easier. 

Et voy-la. 

It's a look. 

Now I just need to finish the sleeves, add the skirt, and the back closures. Then, on to Spencer-town!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Austin Continued...

So I finally finished S & S a couple nights ago. Took me a little longer than I would have thought, mostly because I have been busy....but also, because I was kind of rationing it out to try and make it last!

I really enjoyed the points she was trying to make about being over and under sentimental. I love that Elinor is not always right, either. And of course Miss Austen's sketches of all other human failings are as insightful and perfect as ever. Their brother convincing himself he's a hero for doing practically nothing for his sisters, Mrs. Ferrars unable to decide if her children are alive or dead to her, etc.

The wrap-up did seem a little too convenient to me- Edward magically free, Marianne just gets over it and decides to marry someone twice her age. Still, I got the point - getting over your preconceptions and realizing your ideas about what will make you happy were very, very off. God knows we've all had one or two Willoughby's to learn from  :-p

Do not feel sorry for him. He is an asshole. 

It's interesting, because I think she was making a similar statement in P&P about preconceptions, but unfortunately, the lesson most girls take from that is 'you know that rich handsome guy who's kind of a jerk? dont' worry, you will totally win him over and everything in your life will come together!" This one is perhaps a little more mature, and definitely harder to misconstrue  "That mysterious handsome guy who's doing everything to lead you on but not actually offering you a real commitment? Yeah, he's a selfish bastard who is never going to make you happy." Hell, they should skip the Darcy fettish and make high schoolers read this one!

Not an asshole- but whoever you are projecting him onto in your real life probably is. 

As soon as I was done I wanted to read it again to absorb every little nuance, but I don't really like to reread something right away. It's weird, my mind doesn't really want to absorb it again yet. I have to give it some space.

Therefore, on to Persuasion! I'm about three chapters in so far, and loving it! I have no idea how I ever waited so long to read these books, but it's almost a gift that I did since I get to discover them now.

Look at you, just waiting calmly for me all these years, you saucy little thing- you knew I'd be back! 

Monday, February 18, 2013

In which I continue to slobber over the 1830's. In particular, prints and sleeves.

My newfound 1830's obsession starts with staring at all the different awesome prints. Also, Fashion In Detail and all the images I stare at confirm what the Past Patterns book tells me- that after 1836 the sleeves stopped being full at the shoulder and got tight up top with all the poof-age starting near the elbow.

For the prints there are some awesomely wacky things, which speak to the most insane depraved parts of my soul, but also some absolutely darling florals.

1832-35 from the Met
Holy FORK I want one!

1832-35 The Met
I think those sleeves could give you hay fever. 

1835 The Met
Some hot pellerine on pellerine action. 
Also, not a print.

1837-39 from the Met
Apparently we can tone it down a bit in the 1830's too. 
Notice the sleeve poof-age has migrated down. 

Hey look, it's that dress from page 192. 

Just a few other things I've noticed so far about the differences between the earlier and later years, but this may not be a big enough sample to tell; 

1) the pellerines seem to belong to the early years 
2) the waistbands, while always there, seem somehow more ....pronounced earlier on. Possibly even a little higher. I think it has to do with the contrast with the giant sleeves being at the same level- your waist should be tiny next to them. 

I will definitely be wanting a big-ass awesome buckle for the front. 

Edit: Take that back about the waistlines- here are some examples of buckles with the lower sleeve poofs. 

Also very quickly falling in love with the wrap front style.......

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Mail Call- patterns!!!

Past Patterns was having a sale in January, so Brian and I decided to stock up. Package came today yesterday with the following for me

1862-1865 Garibaldi Shirt

The Garibaldi Blouse Pattern is the same one the wonderful and amazing Juliana Gaul used for the blouse she lent me for 100 Years on the Ohio last September. I believe her advice at the time on the pattern was to ignore the instructions and just put it together using common sense since it is very easy. Sweet.

1830's Full High Gown

The 1830's dress is one I have to admit I was only kind of excited about when I ordered it. Brian and I have been kicking around the idea of 1830's, it looked O.K., it was on sale- so yeah, just get it, whatevs. But OMG, from the moment this baby hit my hot little hands my excitement level began to skyrocket. Not only is the illustration super cute, but it just gets better upon further inspection. She's got a whole little intro on proper 1830's undergarments which made me freakin' squee (corded petty and bustle FTW). And the construction, knock on wood, looks new and slightly different but not actually that unlike everything else I've done. The perfect challenge level.

Those sleeve puffs are separate from the chemise, people! 
This is a kind of crazy I want in on.....

This one will probably take awhile to materialize however, mostly since I don't know when I will wear it. 100 Years is a good timeline event, and the Farnsley/Mormon house dates from that period, but Brian's docket is pretty full before then so he probably wouldn't have time to make anything to match. No matter, however. I'm happy to take my time, do more research, obsessively pour over fashion plates, and hunt down the perfect print like a bobcat after an unsuspecting field mouse.

I need to do more corset research- how much will the shape change if I fit it with my mid-century corset? How hard IS it to make an 1830's corset? They look like about the last era where I would ever even consider it- everything after 1840 and only Laurie Tavan is ever allowed to make my foundation garments. I've been wanting a corded petty for a long time anyway, so that is a win. And OMFUCKINGGOD separate sleeve poofs!!

 The 1830's are coming, my friends....oh, they're coming.......

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Miss Waterman's Diary

Miss Waterman recalls her engagement, as well as a strange dream in which Miss Tattman apparently begins a strange, new fashion.....

Miss Tattman and the Doctor share an unspoken sentiment. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

What I'm reading- the Austen Winter begins...

So believe it or not, despite having set myself up as a fount of Dickensian knowledge, I am actually pretty unversed in Austen. The exception of course is P & P- not only have I read it, but after being in Don's amazing adaptation with Butterfield 8, the dialogue has literally become something so familiar I could put it on as comforting background noise when I was studying for my comps. However the rest of Austen I have yet to delve into. 

Therefore, I have decided this will be the Winter of Austen, wherein all that changes. When I left school, I remember one of my professors telling me that if I meant to continue my studies but had some time on my hands, I ought to delve into all the literature I could to get a feel for the period I was interested in. Considering I am out in 1812/Austen land, this seemed like an especially good place to start. 

So, at the suggestion of my friend Christopher Erickson, who is working through the Austen Odyssey a little bit ahead of myself, I decided to start with Sense and Sensibility. This has the added benefit of being one I really do not know anything about, unlike say Emma (i.e, if at all avoidable, please try not to leave a bunch of spoiler comments).

So far I am about 45 pages in, and am enjoying it immensely. Miss Austen really does have a keen understanding of human foibles, both in the most obvious and subtle senses. I am really enjoying her characters and both cannot wait and kind of dread to see where they go. 

This Willoughby guy cannot be on the level.....

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Miss Tattman's Year in Review Pt II- in which we meet the gentlemen....

 Part I here.

From left to right; Mr. Cushing (the Dreadful Cousin, hereafter referred to as the D.C.), Mr. Tumbusch, Mr. Ramsey, and the Doctor
Portrait by Toni Tumbusch. 

August 23, 181—

My Dearest Emily,

My Aunt and Uncle Downward and I have arrived safely in New York, where my uncle informs us we shall spend nearly a month before returning (all without the D.C., thank goodness, but more on that later). I was sorry to spend so little time in your part of the country, but it was most cheerfully spent for all that!

Uncle Downward. 
Portrait by Stephen Jacobson.

I was so pleased to finally observe all those dear folk whom you had written to me about in their natural habitat, as it were. Mr. and Mrs. Hedgewood are just as you have made them out, and it is clear that Mr. H. especially regards you as his own dear child. As for Mister Ramsey, he is as dear and kind as I fully expected, and you were right about his delightful wit!  

Mr. Ramsey immortalized.

My cousin is everything and nothing I expected. I was surprised to find you so well acquainted. I must say, it is rather a hard thing to find one’s ally and one’s intended foe at parley before one arrives on the field! He was exceedingly attentive to me during my entire stay- despite my repeated assurances that such devotion to familial duty was not necessary. He met me promptly upon my arrival, and insisted upon repairing to lodgings he had reserved that I might rest, then poured more tea into my poor stomach than I believe I had room for. I am surprised it was not running out my ears. The entire journey to Nashville I swear his gaze scarcely left me - a most vigilant jailor, I must say!

At the ball I actually had to remind the man that proper manners dictate I dance with more than just the one partner. Luckily Mister Ramsey was there to rescue me for a dance, and we enjoyed ourselves immensely. I suppose one might find the D.C.s attention charming, had it not been predetermined that the man is Dreadful. However under the circumstances I must say it vexed me very much!

The Dreadful Cousin....being annoyingly affable and charming...

For all that I will admit the man has a keen and sensitive mind, which did provide some relief and give us things to talk of. He is a great reader, and supplied me with many books. A most peculiar man, all in all.

There was one last person whom I was most pleased to finally make an acquaintance with. Your Doctor has finally materialized off the pages of your letters and proven himself to be just as handsome and  and dignified in reality as you made him out to be. I must say, my dear, that he pleased me very much. He was a fine dancer, and a most enjoyable conversation partner. In particular, he seemed keen to hear stories of our lives growing up, and was, I believe, most happy for all intelligence I could be prevailed upon to provide about my dear Emily. 

The Doctor enjoys a civilized respite after his labors. 
Portrait by Toni Tumbusch 

My cousin informs me that the Doctor is well liked among all those whom he serves with and attends upon, though of late the he has been of a strange and taciturn mood......... yet he did not seem so afflicted when we were all met together. I have taken a keen interest in him, and shall be most  interested to see how the matter sits when I return from New York next month........

Until then I remain,

Your Faithful Eliza

N.B. My Aunt and Uncle send their love, as does Mrs. Collier via post. 

I'm ok. Really.

So last night I went to a lovely ball with my handsome man and some of our friends. And they are our friends, a small corps of folks whom I have gotten to know over the last few months, plus my dear Maggie and her beloved. During the evening, several of these lovely folks came up and asked me how I was doing. In a very serious, lovely way, clearly saying 'Seriously, how are you doing? you're not betraying our friend if you are freaked to shit, it's cool, we still love you." I really appreciated it, but it was kind of hard to explain how really o.k. I actually am.

I know it seems like I should be pretty overwhelmed. There was one moment in the middle of the night about two weeks ago, where it just hit me 'holy shit, my whole life is 2300 miles away!". Not in a panic way so much as just "like, whoa.....". But otherwise, really, seriously, truly- it's fine. All in all, it really just feels like I moved to a new town. One with tons of cool brick buildings, because you can do that in a place where they aren't gonna fall down.

It doesn't really seem like it's all so far away. It's partly just Facebook, etc- I mean, I'm still in contact with everyone like 24/7. Also, really, it's not like I used to get out that much anyway. Especially this last semester, I really was kind of a hermit. Here, I get to live with my best friend and partner. And I love every minute.

This was the right time in my life to do this. I just finished my master's degree, this was a perfect transition point. In the weeks before I left, I kept looking around at my life; I loved where I lived, my snug little attic in the Haight. But what if I had stayed? What would I be doing right now? Probably sitting up there, desperately searching for some kind of job, adrift, doing nothing. Here, I have actually started my teaching career. And living somewhere new and building a new life feels good.

This is progress. This is my life moving forward, and it really does feel good. So, do I miss everyone like crazy? Of course I do. But I am good.

Really. I promise :-)

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Potato, Mushroom and Kale Soup

So it's been some time since I actually posted anything cooking related, but here we go. I have made this soup before, and I really like the combination of things. I also added rice for the first time this time, and like it.

All ingredient portions are estimates, you can add as much or as little as you want! I also tend to go insane and make a GIANT pot of soup- you may wish to exercise more restraint ;-)

1 yellow onion- I really wanted to use a leek, but I couldn't find a store that would sell me just one, and there is no way I will use three leeks before they go bad. Grumble, grumble...
2 big portabella mushrooms, or most of a pack of small ones.
2-4 regular brown potatoes, depending on size and preference.
1 bunch of kale
1/2 cup rice
10 cups water - most recipes for soup tend to say 4-6 or some tiny ass amount, but I want more soup than that, and this is America, DAMNIT!
olive oil- enough to coat the bottom of your pot to saute the mushrooms and onions, and maybe springle a bit on top.
thyme- lots
oregano- some
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper to taste- I usually put in a moderate amount and figure people can add however much they want. It's harder to take it out than put it in.

Chop the onions and mushrooms to desired size, and saute them in the bottom of your soup pot with the olive oil. The olive oil will form your broth base, so don't be stingy. I throw the mushrooms and onions in together instead of the onions first because the mushrooms take awhile and I like onions to still have some substance. If you were so lucky as to obtain a single goddmaned leek to use,  you might want to give that a little while first before adding mushrooms.

Make sure the mushrooms are cooked through before you add the rest of the ingredients, because they will not cook well just by simmering. If they aren't done before you add the water, it will be very hard to get them done.

All of this should create a nice, juicy pile of deliciousness while you chop the potatoes and pull the kale off the stalks. You can add the salt and pepper here, then the water,rice and potatoes, and other spices and bring to a boil then simmer. This should take about 15-20 minutes to simmer.

Nom nom, kale...

Add the kale 5-7 minutes before you want to be done- it doesn't need to cook nearly as long, and you don't want to totally kill it, it tastes better fresher. To prepare it, just rip it off the hard stalks in the center and rip into medium sized piece, then drop them on in. It will look like a lot before you cook it, but just remember it will cook down a bit.

This tasted good last night, though the broth was even better today.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Miss Tattman's Year in Review - Part I

A selection of Miss Tattman's letters to Miss Waterman in the preceding months....

Photo by Judy Potter

April 30, 181--
My dearest Emily, 

I write to you with what you will assume to be a heavy heart, but one which I must assure you has been lightened immensely. The long-ill engagement is now officially dead. I shall never be Mrs. John Harrington, and for that I must say I heave a sigh of great relief! What is more, I have been bought off, and handsomely at that! I have a healthy sum all of my own, plus a respectable annuity. I feel as though I have gone through a great trial and come out clean. I am to have the best of both worlds- the independent fortune of a widow, without ever having to go through the pains of marriage. May I live and die an old maid from here on out, I shall be quite a happy one. Indeed, I think I can safely promise you never again to fall in love.

                                Ever your faithful friend,

                                                                Elizabeth Tattman

Miss Waterman corresponds with Miss Tattman.
Photo by Toni Tumbusch.

June 5, 181--


It is all settled, I am to come and join my dear girl in the wilds of America! Father has finally consented to the trip........... Until then, I am so ready to be done with Bristol, where my finally broken engagement is such a story of interest, that I have applied to Miss Jessica to allow me refuge with her in Surrey once more.

I shall take your advice about love under consideration, but I am afraid you may find me a hopeless case. I am too fond of my newly found freedom to even think of another entanglement. And you must remember that by now I am quite an old maid, and settled in my contrary ways.

Of course, I do not expect my friends to live by the same creed. I think, in fact, that I may safely assume that my dear Emily will not be following Beatrice and I to the gates of Hell....And yet neither do I fear losing her to some wild American…… Or perhaps I am merely indulging in fancy, since I have not had the ability to see you with my own eyes for so long. In either case, I know you will forgive your dear Eliza.

Your loving friend,


P.S. There is one proviso attached to my American Adventure- I am to have my third cousin, Mr. Cushing, serve as my escort once I land. He settled there last year after his ship was dry docked or some such calamity. 

I confess I approach the arrangement with a certain dread. The last time I saw him I was a mere twelve and he fourteen, and I certainly felt he used my would-be girlish devotion most cruelly. However I shall endeavor not to let it ruin my spirits, and I believe with your help we may devise several schemes for eluding and outwitting my would-be jailor.