"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

watershed . . .

"Joy" planter, a gift from C. last year with new growth . . .

“Joy” planter, a gift from C. last year with new growth . . .

Sometimes the term, “watershed” is used to describe a moment when things “before” and “after” are markedly different: water shedding in different directions. In hindsight, it feels to me like this “watershed moment” has been coming on for some time, a long time it seems. Without going into detail, it’s more of a holding than anything else for me which then manifests itself in all kinds of outer events, actions and ideas: like downscaling Christmas from a huge extravaganza to a very modest (almost nonexistent) one.

For whatever reason, I have begun to understand that I wanted to compensate for shortcomings that occurred (for all of us in one way or another) in my childhood or young adult life. Neither of my parents was around much in spirit even when they were present, and I think that I took that ball and ran with it with my own daughters. Whatever my parents didn’t care about nor did for me, I did for my kids. In spades. Now that I am still active but moving a bit slower, I’ve taken stock and it seems it’s time for me to discard that mode and live a much simpler life.

That doesn’t mean that I’m bored or unhappy. It just means that so much of the energy, time and resources that I have applied to “helping” my kids is probably too much both for their sakes and especially for mine. I want to live simpler and formulate a routine that gets me outside to take walks when the weather permits, to clean up the garden and to tend the many plants that have suffered through a Darwinian phase (“survival of the fittest”,) which, laughably is what I think I am doing for myself right now (to survive as fit as I can.)

I’ve already begun last week to cull through my vast music library of CDs, reorganizing them by pianist (Richter, Argerich, Hewitt, Lewis, Gould, Pires, Tureck, Haskil) and by composer (Bach, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky) and listening a LOT to music that I have known so well growing up and which I got away from listening. For example, I remember listening to Khachaturian violin concerto and Shostakovitch 5th Symphony a lot when I was in high school. Now, I play my favorite music aloud on speakers, or use earphones during football games on TV. Talk about multi-tasking: I still manage the remote for the ads that come on the Patriots game while listening to Schumann or Scriabin via the earphones in my head. A little disorienting but not bad.

More than ever, I feel that music is truly the great mover that endlessly nourishes the spirit. No matter if one is rich or poor, with someone or living alone, there is nothing like music to elevate mood, enrich perspective and to just keep company with us, each and every day. A pianist who had dinner with us on Saturday suggested some early recordings by Sviatislav Richter (Rachmaninoff 2nd piano concerto with the Warsaw Philharmonic and the Brahms 2nd with Erich Leinsdorf.) I loved listening to them–thanks to I-Tunes. The technology of being able to search I-Tunes, purchase recordings, copy them to a playlist is so facile it amazes me. I had the Leon Fleisher Brahms recordings but have now added these two Richter recordings to my music library–what a revelation they were! He uses pedal a lot in his Bach recordings and I also listened for the first time to some Brahms sonatas he recorded that I’m unfamiliar with.

In parallel, I’m experimenting with a piano list to practice and learn new pieces, an idea to practice a new program every 3-6 months, or maybe in a year’s time. Although a little arthritis is showing up in my left hand, the rest of me, especially my brain and ear, still seem to be intact, at least, most of the time.

Anyhow, this is a monumental watershed for me in the beginning of December, a time, when I’m usually projecting to spend DAYS preparing for the holidays. Now, whatever happens, happens. I feel a little sad to give it all up, but not as sad as I might have expected. And I have discovered that honesty compensates for all the things I thought I had to do to make other people happy.

Now, I can let them find their way while I follow my own path “not taken” as much as I might have up to now.

A new day. A fresh start. Let’s see what little leaves grow from last year’s box of Joy.

new growth in last year's "Joy" planter . . .

new growth in last year’s “Joy” planter . . .

flowers! . . .

flowers 4Sometimes life’s challenges seem to take over and one begins to feel a little overwhelmed. This happened to me this week when we had numerous deadlines to meet that required action on the part of a third party who procrastinated until the last minute. Then, I received notice that another matter that I thought was settled arose again with a mistaken payment that I would have to reimburse, thinking/hoping it had been meant for me. By this time, I had an inflammation on my gum which I had x-rayed at the dentist office on Wednesday only to be told I needed a root canal to save an important tooth–which I had done on Thursday.

Long story short, the dental procedure took a couple of hours in the morning with the novocaine wearing off in the middle of it! They gave me another shot which kept my face and jaw feeling rubbery until almost dinner time. Last night, I took medication that helped a little but still felt achey and sore. I decided to take today as a low-activity day but went to Market Basket to stock up on water since it’s half price there.

When I returned home around lunch time, I received a phone call from a local florist asking if I might be home this afternoon for a delivery. I knew it must be from my sweet children, their family and my granddaughter. And here they are! So thankful (in advance of Thanksgiving) for such thoughtful, sweet women in my family.

THANK YOU TO ALL!! flowers 1

flowers 2flowers 3

that old chestnut! . . .



roasted chestnuts worth their weight in gold . . .

roasted chestnuts worth their weight in gold . . .

I don’t know if you have ever had roast chestnut dressing with Thanksgiving turkey, but I’ve been making it for over forty years. During that time, I have wrestled with probably a ton of these nuts, going from store to store to find ones that aren’t dried out or rotten inside. That is, if you can even get the peel off without the brown crusty skin sticking to the nutmeat so it’s not usable unless you scrape it out with a spoon. None of the roasting temperatures work including Martha Stewart’s recipe: slicing into the shell whether it’s an “X” or making a slit in the center to let steam out of the chestnut and roasting them in a hot oven for varying timetables from 20 minutes to an hour (!) just don’t work. They haven’t for me for years, which is why I start vetting chestnuts that I can find shortly after Halloween in order to harvest a small cache of tender nutmeats to use in the herb Pepperidge Farm crumb stuffing that I make double quantities of and serve with homemade turkey stock/gravy on top. Some years, the turkey itself seems peripheral to the roast chestnut stuffing and gravy which people love to eat the most. chestnuts galore

This year, I had already gone through two sets of chestnuts purchased at the Stop and Shop and at Market Basket. The MB ones were peelable but were tough and tasteless out of the shell. I stuck them in a ziploc bag in the freezer anyhow, thinking I might be able to boil them later to make them more tender if I didn’t have anything else. The Stop and Shop group stuck to their brown fuzzy inner skins and I had only about half a cup of usable nutmeats after roasting and shelling them. That’s twelve dollars down the drain already. I waited to see if Trader Joe’s had chestnuts for sale because I remember last year that theirs were the best. Yesterday, I called TJ and they had just gotten their chestnuts in. I went down and bought two packs of Italian chestnuts, that brand solely available through Trader Joe’s.

In the meantime, I had gone on Youtube to see if people had success harvesting roasted chestnuts and what their methods were. I came across one that microwaved theirs for three minutes after rinsing in cold water first after slitting the shells. Then, I came upon one that made the most sense from a physics/chemistry perspective which also had a video showing roasted chestnuts popping out of their shells with hardly any human intervention.

This method required cutting down each side of the chestnut with a sharp knife. I used a serrated paring knife–and cut them on a layer of soft kitchen towel, otherwise the nuts slip around on a cutting board and you could injure yourself. Having sliced the chestnut down either side, then placed the chestnuts into a large pot of cold water and which I brought to a rolling boil. Let the chestnuts sit in the pot off the heat for twenty minutes. Already, a couple of them had opened up to show a nut inside free of the brown skin, a very good sign. The final step of this method was to then roast them in a preheated oven set at 400 degrees for 20-35 minutes (start checking them after 20 minutes,) placing the still wet chestnuts on a cookie sheet.

parboiling chestnuts. . .

parboiling chestnuts. . .

The combination of a) slitting the chestnuts open (long cuts all the way down each side) sufficient for water to enter and permeate the shell, b) parboiling them so that hot water entered the slits inside the chestnuts to loosen the brown skin from the nut; and then c) baking the wet chestnuts in a very hot oven for the final actual roasting step provided extra insurance that the whole thing pops out of the shell at the end of the process.

Because we are so fond of roasted chestnuts to eat, as well as to have in our turkey dressing, this three-part invention for harvesting chestnuts is a Godsend. It also requires, however, that you buy good chestnuts to begin with. I’ve found that loose ones in grocery stores a week before Thanksgiving are often dried out and have rotten parts in more than half of the ones that you buy. Trader Joe’s chestnuts from Italy are the ONLY ones that I have found that are not that way. So, if you want to save a lot of money ($5.99 a pound!) perhaps you’d like to try theirs.

split open chestnuts roasting in the oven. . .

split open chestnuts roasting in the oven. . .


If it works, I’m happy that we’ll be able to eat chestnuts forevermore instead of giving up on them, which is where I was after the second batch of unsuccessful batch last week–and together with other winter fruit like tiny juicy clementines & persimmons you have to buy to ripen on the windowsill that make the Fall a wonderful season of Thanksgiving that keeps on going through the Winter holidays.

And this little experiment reminds me that “Where there’s a will, there’s always (another) way!”

Thank you, Youtube!

freshly peeled . . .

freshly peeled . . .



bach: the gift that keeps on giving . . .

rosemary, cyclamen and a kabocha squash on the kitchen counter . . .

rosemary, cyclamen and a kabocha squash on the kitchen counter . . .

As a pianist whose favorite composer is Johann Sebastian Bach, I have numerous recordings of the Well-Tempered Clavier, Books I and II. Any pianist who undertakes to learn them all and then perform them either by memory or using the music has my respect and admiration, even if their recordings aren’t necessarily my most favorite ones. Up to today, I owned Bach WTC I & II recordings by Glenn Gould, Sviatislav Richter and Angela Hewitt. I also have random prelude and fuge recordings by Clara Haskill, Maria Joao Pires, Martha Argerich and Peter Serkin among others.

Many of us recall the splash made by the Canadian pianist, Glenn Gould, when he came upon the music scene, seated on a sawed off wooden chair, humming to himself, seemingly oblivious to the fact that he was on stage in Carnegie Hall and playing the Goldberg Variations faster (and with more clarity) than anyone had ever imagined possible. Gould also recorded the Goldbergs, this time at a much slower tempo twenty years later and it’s interesting to listen to both sets one after the other. For a long time, my favorite pianist performing Bach was Angela Hewitt, also a Canadian pianist who has recorded just about everything Bach ever wrote for the keyboard: Inventions, Partitas, English and French Suites, the Goldberg Variations, both books of the Well-Tempered Clavier and other pieces like the Italian Concerto for solo piano and the keyboard concerti with orchestra.

Today, as I was finishing my breakfast, I came upon a review in the New York Times of the French pianist, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, who performed the WTC – Book I, using the score at a Carnegie Hall recital. The reviewer noted that Andras Schiff performed the WTC by memory and seemed to “channel Bach.” I happen to disagree with this opinion because I have listened to a few clips of Schiff playing Bach and am bothered by the tempo and rubato liberties he takes with the score. That is, he plays unevenly and pauses at places that seem to please him, and not as Bach intended it–at least not to my ear. The photograph in the NYTimes article of the Steinway concert grand and the pianist on the wide stage was striking, a gorgeous snapshot depicting the glory of a pianist playing Bach on a concert stage. After reading the review, I listened to a few segments on I-Tunes and then purchased the album once I figured out what my Apple I-Tunes password was after a few futile attempts.

I listened to this new set of preludes and fuges while I did an hour or so of housework this morning, and found that I liked them a lot. I cleared off items crowding space in the plant room, fed the canary and rearranged sea things that I had found on the beach last year when we went to the Cape after Christmas. I made a new playlist for the downloaded disc and burned a CD for my car. As I pulled out of the driveway to go to the post office and grocery store, this new Bach piano music filled the car. The morning sun shone through the trees, many with brilliant yellow leaves that had not yet fallen. For me, there’s no simpler nirvana than to listen to Bach while doing chores inside and errands out and about.

So, heartfelt thanks first of all to Johann Sebastian Bach, for composing all that lovely music in the first place. Gratitude for the New York Times newspaper which also keeps on giving, introducing me to concerts, pianists and recordings that I might not otherwise come across. Kudos to Pierre-Laurent Aimard for playing Bach so beautifully and for making this recording. And a huzzah to Apple and I-Tunes for making equipment that enables someone like me to download, listen to, purchase and then copy a CD for my car in less time than it takes to sweep the floor!

All in all, I’m grateful for this rapturous confluence of art and technology on a brilliant Fall day here in New England. What a JOY!


Postscript: I noticed that the Aimard CD in hard copy on is listed for $16.99 while I downloaded it on I-Tunes for $11.99.


“Olive Kitteridge” . . .

Olive 1jpg

A four-part mini-series, “Olive Kitteridge,” an adaptation of the book by the same name written by Elizabeth Strout has been airing on HBO this week. From the first time we viewed it on Sunday and Monday nights (2 hours each,) we have since learned that although the movie plot is situated in a small town in Maine (Harpswell) it was actually filmed in Massachusetts locations that we are familiar with: Rockport, Gloucester, Ipswich, Essex among others. With that knowledge, it has been even more engaging to revisit this masterpiece starring Frances McDormand and Richard Jenkins on HBO this week.

McDormand has received wide acclaim for her portrayal in the film while curiously, there has been almost no mention of the other actors, especially Jenkins, who contribute masterful characterizations. Notable among them to me are Zoe Kazan as the character Denise and some of the other cameo roles–the singer at the piano and the suicidal former student who rescues the hapless woman who falls into the sea while picking lilies to cheer herself up.

“Olive Kitteridge” was awarded the Pulitzer Prize when it was published in 2008. This mini-series is authentic to the book and is a refreshing respite from the tedious formulaic shows that keep popping up on television. Some people dislike the character but everyone knows someone just like her. We can even see parts of ourselves mirrored in her character. HBO will be airing “Olive Kittredge” on November 9, 13 and 21. I have been re-reading the book this week and wrote a review of it on yesterday:

“Olive Kitteridge” Is About Life Everywhere”
November 6, 2014
Why do people read books? as escapism from one’s life? to be inspired by what one learns by reading to live a better life? Olive Kitteridge is a book about a woman who is true to herself, despite her family’s past, despite her own blunt personality and despite being married to a man she is not happy with although she knows he loves her despite herself.There are thirteen stories in which the character, Olive Kitteridge, appears. They are not all about her. But in each one, a facet of who she is is revealed. The book spans over twenty-five years so that the reader can see what happens to the awkward youth in junior school who grow up to get married, divorced and to think about life’s meaning themselves. Olive is not easy on those she loves and they hardly feel the commitment and loyalty she has towards them because of the manner in which she snaps at or criticizes them. She is quick to retort and slow to apologize (only once in their marriage.) You might not like her but all of us knows someone like her. Moreover, many of us are like parts of her. The richness and depth of this character and the sublime ways by which her truest, deepest feelings are revealed make me appreciate how complex people and life are in my own family and the town we live in. Although the stories are set in a small town in Maine, I can see people’s behavior so similar to them paralleled in the working-class town I live in here in Central Massachusetts. The poignancy is striking because there seem to be no places on earth where family weaknesses and unrequited yearning do not exist side by side. It’s no wonder that this book was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

a new england fall day . . .

fall flowers from the garden . . .

fall flowers from the garden . . .

The weather has been temperate lately here in New England. The light is soft in the morning and late afternoons, the sun is out for most of the day and the temperature has been in the 60’s and 70’s. Good weather to pay our respects to Tom Menino, Mayor of Boston for twenty years who died yesterday a.m. around 9 o’clock. Tributes on TV have shown examples of his achievements, especially in the revitalization of Boston, his work with the underprivileged and his connections with a wide spectrum of people from all sorts of venues, businesses and walks of life. We are lucky that he was such a strong champion for the city of Boston, the people who live and visit here and that he served with so much dedication and resolve. So, here’s to Tom Menino for a life, well-lived.

Speaking of well-lived lives, a book arrived a couple of days ago that exemplifies living with passion (and luxury) in the Medoc countryside of France. Mimi Thorisson’s cookery book, illuminated (that’s the only word for it) by the photographs taken by her husband, Oddur Thorisson, is a cooking biography of a family with seven offspring (his two and their five) and terriers (he breeds them) too numerous to keep count. I had pre-ordered the book from Amazon because her blog, “Manger” had been previewing recipes for some months now in anticipation of their book’s publication.

Seeing her home, countryside and dishes serves as an exciting source of inspiration to live as wholly in my own kitchen and home as I can, each day. I have been remembering that I have a pair of large shino dinner plates in the cupboard that haven’t been used in awhile. Ditto for some other earthenware plates glazed with off-white nautilus spirals. If one is domestically inclined, this kind of book is truly one to savor, admire and enjoy. Kudos to the Thorissens and the passion with which they seem to do everything (looking for cepes in the wet woods for hours to no avail; then making ravioli with a handful that belatedly appear.) I’m glad that the two missing puppies were returned by the nefarious/mischevious fellow who brought them back on the day before Christmas for a “price.”

Later today, I’m planning to meet my daughter C. for afternoon coffee at Verrill Farms in Concord near the high school where she teaches. Along the way there, I’ll stop by Idylwylde Farms in Acton to pick up two small Bell & Evans chickens to make Judy Rodger’s recipe, (roast chicken with bread salad) to serve dinner guests tomorrow evening. In the roasting pan will go carrots, onions and some turnips. As a side dish, I’ll use up the portobella mushrooms in the fridge and stuff them with creamed spinach and garlicky crumbs. Verrill Farms makes delicious pumpkin pie which I’m hoping to pick up for dessert.

We are grateful for these beautiful fall days and feel fortunate in the midst of a swirling hostile world of political crises to be able to be with family, friends and each other.






music “binges” . . .

piano handEver since I was young, I’ve been prone to going on music binges. What that means is that I listen over and over to music that I love, entering a world of tonal joy and ecstasy. I think this kind of visceral and emotional response to music runs in my family, actually, since there are a lot of musicians in the lineage on both my mother’s AND my father’s sides. I’m a pianist and have perfect pitch. My younger sister is a violist and violinist who has played professionally her whole life. I have a first cousin who is a cellist who studied with a famous teacher at Yale before going to medical school and becoming a pathologist. The three of us have played chamber music together on a few occasions in the past.

Be that as it may, it doesn’t really account for these binges that I’ve had where I discover for myself a composition or a related set of pieces and then play them to death. In those days, we didn’t have earphones so I would listen to music as a teenager, holed up in my bedroom with a 33 rpm player. Some of my favorites as a music nerd from that time were Rachmaninoff’s Symphony #3 with the heartbreakingly gorgeous third movement and clarinet solo that was and and still is “to die for.” The opening repeating octaves of Brahms’s Symphony #1 are thrilling every time I listen to it. Other favorites at the time included Leon Fleisher’s recordings of the 1st and 2nd Brahms piano concerti recorded with George Szell; David Oistrakh playing the Khachaturian violin concerto and Jacqueline Du Pre, Daniel Barenboim and Pinchas Zuckerman playing Beethoven trios together when they were still young, vibrant and brimming with life’s exciting possibilities.

Believe me, it was another era in music. It was before Jacqueline du Pre’s career and life were cut short by multiple sclerosis. It was during a time when du Pre and Barenboim ran off to Israel and got tempestuously married with Zubin Mehta taking on a Jewish name so he could attend their wedding. It was before Pinchas Zuckerman divorced his flautist wife, Eugenia and married Tuesday Weld. And it was before Jacqueline du Pre’s life ended in her forties, her erstwhile husband, Daniel Barenboim having secretly abandoned her for a Russian pianist, Elena Bashkirova with whom he had two sons in Paris before du Pre passed away. I’m recounting this history because it illuminates how life takes turns we don’t expect, people change and find other people to love and life sometimes seems unfair.

But come back and listen to du Pre’s famous recording of the Elgar cello concerto conducted by John Barbirolli (who himself was a cellist) and you won’t feel so bad. Her sound and phrasing are incredibly moving. I read online that while playing piano trios together, du Pre (cello) and Zuckerman (violin) shared an unspoken kind of musical intuition that was different from that of Barenboim (piano) who wrote down markings all the time. The other two didn’t bother to note anything in writing but would “take off together” musically on occasion while they played, neither of them able to articulate how it happened or why it worked so well.

Some of you might have heard of the gossipy book and movie made by du Pre’s sister, Hilary after she died. It stars Emily Watson, and whether parts of it were true or not, certainly maligned the cellist’s personal reputation while giving air time for her sister, Hilary. Why do people do this? One of Hilary’s daughters countered her mother’s account, saying her father was serially unfaithful, even while carrying on with Jacqueline during the last years of her life. What family does this to each other in the public’s glare? Why was it important for Hilary to get her digs in after Jacqueline du Pre not only died of multiple sclerosis but whose talent was so glorious? Maybe that’s why. Daniel Barenboim, who doesn’t come off very well no matter how you dice it, was said to have asked plaintively, “Why couldn’t they wait until after I was dead?”

I also read that William Pleeth was with du Pre when she passed away from MS at the age of forty-seven. Pleeth was her teacher for seven years and was a prodigy himself. He was the youngest scholarship student at the Leipzig conservatory when he entered. At the age of fifteen, he had not only learned all of Bach’s cello suites by memory but also had thirty-two violin concerti under his belt by that time. I didn’t even know there were that many violin concerti, familiar only with about a dozen of them. My father was an amateur violinist who would play excerpts from the familiar Mendelssohn violin concerto, especially the poignant melody from the second movement that knocks me out every time I hear it. It’s not only lovely to listen to, it reminds me of a much simpler time in our family’s life.

Other musicians have had incredible lives as well. Anne Sophie Mutter, the premier German violinist who made recordings with Herbert van Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic was married for a few years to Andre Previn, believe it or not.  Lorraine Hunt was a violist and didn’t begin singing seriously until she was in her thirties. She then began a trajectory of concerts and recordings (Handel arias) that were cut short by cancer when she died at the age of fifty-two.

By now, you’ll have noticed that my binges include reading about musicians’ lives as well as listening to favorite recordings they have made. With the advent of I-Tunes, I can now satisfy my OCD-ness by listening to and comparing a number of renditions of a particular piece or movement online without even having to purchase them. Last night, I came across a recording of Rachmaninoff’s Piano Suites for Two Pianos, recorded by Martha Argerich and Nelson Freire in 1985. It’s an astounding set of movements played with top speed (Argerich) and yet amazing technique and clarity. Argerich has been married three times to two conductors and a pianist. A daughter was born from each union. In the meantime, I’ve always thought that Nelson Freire was in love with her the whole time anyhow even though they were good friends while she went through her marriages. They have not married, but I read somewhere awhile ago that he moved into the townhouse next to hers in London where they live side-by-side. In recent clips, you can see that they both smoke like chimneys while they keep on playing piano music together.

Maybe musicians’ lives are no more or less passionate than other people’s. Maybe actors and theatre people’s lives are similar. I don’t think there are many people who could/would learn thirty-two concerti, never mind that many pieces by the time you were fifteen years old. Daniel Barenboim has survived the approbations of his marriage to and death of Jacqueline du Pre. He’s aged and is now in his early seventies. His wife, Elena Bashkirova doesn’t seem to have aged much at all. It’s noticeable, though, that in their photos, she either has her arms around him, leans in or otherwise is saying with her body language, “he’s mine!” In a 2004 interview, Barenboim was quoted as having asserted that “I don’t think she knew!” referring to Jacqueline du Pre and his affair/family with Bashkirova before she died. As though that’s what he thinks might have mattered the most to her? or to anyone else besides himself?





kabocha squash, and tonight’s dinner . . .

roasted kabocha squash . . .

roasted kabocha squash . . .

Have you ever cooked a kabocha squash? Maybe not. They’re not all that commonly found in the grocery store. You’ll come across it in Asian markets and also health food stores. Its origin is Japanese and it’s not altogether evident when you bring home this compact squash what to do with it exactly. It has a hard texture to the dark green striated skin. I’ve had it before in Japanese restaurants and it tastes like a squash but its flesh tastes more like a hearty sweet potato.

Mine has been sitting on the kitchen counter for a few days, reminding me that I wanted to roast it to go with a meal. Yesterday, we had a cabbage moo-shi filling leftover meal, using the homemade wrappers that I made on Saturday to go with the roast duck I picked up from the Vietnamese market in town. For supper tonight, I’m heating up leftover brown rice, stirring it together with some scallions, eggs and the leftover moo-shi vegetables with a dollop of oyster sauce for flavor.

Alongside, there will be a bowl of gently steamed eggs, the heat so low that the custard of the eggs is smooth as silk. A little higher heat and the steamed eggs go to pot, that is, they puff up, filled with air and the silky texture is lost forever. Lest this sound too dramatic for food, here’s the recipe for the steamed eggs:

Luscious Chinese Steamed Eggs:

1. Mix a half cup of fresh ground pork with chopped scallions, a spoonful of cooking sherry, Ohsawa soy sauce and cook quickly in a small saute pan until the meat is tender and still a little pink. Let cool.

2. Break four fresh organic eggs into a bowl and beat gently with a whisk until well combined. Pour a cup of chicken broth and mix well with the beaten eggs.

3. Prepare a bowl to hold the eggs by spraying with Pam; place cooled pork into the bottom of the bowl and then pour egg/broth mixture gently on top. Add tablespoon of Ohsawa organic soy sauce and a tablespoon of cooking sherry. Stir well.

egg mixture ready to steam. . .

egg mixture ready to steam. . .

4. Place the bowl in a pan with an inch or two of water and then place the bowl into the pan to steam. Bring the water to a boil and then turn down heat until the water barely simmers. Put a lid on the pan and maintain the heat just below boiling. Putting the lid on raises the heat inside the pot so double-check the heat which should probably be turned down even more. With the water barely simmering, It may not look like the dish will cook, but if you let it simmer on very low heat for about twenty minutes, the egg mixture will present a custard-like appearance with a silky sheen on the surface.

5. When the custard has set, turn the heat off and either serve with the pot on a trivet or remove the bowl from the pan.

Baked Kabocha Squash:

1. Using a very sharp knife, insert it into the squash and cut lengthwise down one edge. Turn the squash over and cut through the other.

2. Scrape the inside of the squash clean (seeds, etc.)

3. For two people, slice half of the squash into segments. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil. Make a mixture of olive oil, soy sauce and maple syrup (equal parts, about a half cup of glaze.)

4. Stir glaze together until mixed and baste the squash segments all over. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake the squash for twenty minutes and then turn the pieces over. Baste on more glaze. When squash is cooked after about twenty more minutes, remove from the oven and let cool.

5. Place the cooked squash pieces into a nice pottery dish, cover and wait for dinner.

leftover fried rice, steamed eggs and glazed kabocha squash. . .

leftover fried rice, steamed eggs and glazed kabocha squash. . .




the last rose(s) of summer. . .

We’ve had a couple of frosts (barely, not hard) and these roses were still blooming in the garden yesterday. I thought I would cut them and enjoy them inside, the week before Halloween!


roses 1

new england color . . .

It is a grey, rainy day here in New England. You might think it would be gloomy and dark but nothing could be further from the truth!

We happen to have sassafras trees in our yard that have the most beautiful leaves that turn brilliant yellow in the Autumn.

In addition to that, we plant climbing vines of morning glories every year (almost missed it this year due to our broken ankle and back injury,) that present beautiful sky blue flowers which are especially heartwarming on days like this. Here are some photos to enjoy along with us.

morning glories on a rainy day viewed from our kitchen window. . .

morning glories on a rainy day viewed from our kitchen window. . . 

more morning glories, two days later . . .

more morning glories, two days later . . .

brilliant yellow Sassafras trees from our rainy bedroom window . . .

brilliant yellow Sassafras trees from our rainy bedroom window . . .




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