Archive for September, 2014

Cake, colors, and computer

September 30, 2014

It was my birthday not long ago.  We had a nice lunch at home with some friends, one of whom (quite unexpectedly) brought a birthday cake, so I’m getting to have a multiple-cake birthday.  Whee!  In the afternoon we went to check out a fall festival sponsored by one of the local microbreweries.  It was in an interesting location on the grounds of a well-preserved colonial-era farm, but it turned out to be noisy, crowded, and not as interesting as we had hoped.  We walked around for a little bit, but in the end we just wanted to go; I didn’t even end up sampling any beers.

The fall colors are coming on.  A week ago it was only a few scattered trees here and there; now it’s starting to be everywhere, although there’s still plenty of green.  The colors seem particularly vivid this year.  Maybe that’s an effect of the weird up-and-down summer we had.  In any case, it makes my commute a lot prettier.

The bad news lately is that my main computer crapped out on me the day after my birthday.  I have a secondary computer I can do essential things with and of course I have the critical files backed up, but it throws me off to not have all the things I’m used to.  I finally found a place to send it out for repair and it’s supposed to be coming back to me in a few days.  I can’t wait to have the familiar keyboard under my fingers again.

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Fall begins

September 18, 2014

A few weeks ago I was swimming in the pond, wearing t-shirts, shorts and sandals, sleeping under just a sheet, and enjoying the last few days of vacation. Now I’m swimming in the pool, wearing long pants, socks, and long sleeves, sleeping with a quilt and blanket, and teaching long days twice a week. The fall has come on fast.

My classes have been enjoyable so far. I have four in a row on Wednesdays and Fridays, which leaves me exhausted and a little sore-throated by the end of the day, but I like being able to do them all in one go and then have time to recover in between. One out of my four classes has been a little more challenging than the others, but I think we’re making progress and people are figuring out what I expect of them.

August dinner: Louhisaari Castle Household Recipes, Joni Kuurne

September 9, 2014

For this month we drew on an interesting book from our bookshelf: a collection of home recipes from Louhisaari Castle in Finland, gathered from recipes written down in the late 1700s to mid 1800s. The recipes read like old family recipes: hardly any measurements or detailed instructions, the sort of thing people wrote to remind themselves of a recipe they already knew, not to share it with someone who had never had the dish before. So my work this month took a fair amount of improvisation.

Our elegant table setting

Our elegant table setting

Our appetizer was a simple omelet spice with salt, pepper, and parsley. This one was pretty straightforward.

An omelet.  It's hard to go wrong here.

An omelet. It’s hard to go wrong here.

Our main course took a lot more work. I started with a recipe for smoked goose and, since we have neither geese nor the equipment for proper smoking, ended up roasting a couple of Cornish game hens over the grill out back. They came out delicious, though, so no complaints. I added a simple cucumber and tomato salad, just because we were a little short of vegetables.

Our main dish, including cucumbers from our own back yard

Our main dish, including cucumbers from our own back yard

The dessert was a lemon cake, but like no lemon cake I’ve ever seen. There is no flour in this cake, rather there is a filling made of cooked rice flavored with lemon and sugar on top of a crust of almond paste. I don’t think I had the proportions quite right, and it should probably be made with a shorter, stickier variety of rice than I tried, but the result was still quite good. I may try this again one of these days just to see what a few tweaks can do to the recipe.

Lemon cake

Lemon cake

E. gave us a lovely table in Finnish blue and white with some of our china plates that felt right for the occasion.