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Chocolate Chips and the Guzheng

23 Dec

Chocolate chips are about as “native’ a United States food item one can get that are not readily available or used  in much of the rest of the world.

Back in the 70’s I was an exchange student to the Australian Outback–near Walgett, NSW.  When I wanted to make something typically American for my host family I thought of chocolate chip cookies.  They had never heard of such an item.  My mother sent some, a big undertaking, and expensive, in those days.

To the best of my recollection, I saw none for sale and ate no foods in Panama, Mexico or Bolivia in the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s containing chocolate chips.

There were lots of chocolate bars in Mongolia, but no chips.

Ditto in Israel.

Back in the 90’s my friend Soon, from Korea, wanted to make Rice Crispy bars.  To her _they_ were the quintessential American food.

_________

The daughter of one of my friends from China plays the Guzheng.  I finally saw a photo of one yesterday and listened to a musician performing on one here today.

The Guzheng similar to a harp.  And a piano.

Cookies and Arrangements

23 Dec

Yesterday M and X came and we made two kinds of cookies and Christmas arrangements.

X brought a Sichuan dish of mung bean noodles with garlic, cilantro and herbs that we ate at room temperature.  We also had leftover venison chili on rice.  I made chai, which X and M had not had before.  That was a surprise to me.  We went over the various spices I used: cardamon, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, star anise.  Cardamon and nutmeg were not familiar to them.

We made chocolate chip cookies from the recipe on the yellow bag: a typical All-American cookie.  Chinese homes, they explained, do not have ovens and they had been at a loss to use the ones found in their apartments here.  X’s daughter and husband in particular wished her to learn how to use the oven to make cookies!  Chocolate chip cookies!  We made and decorated chocolate spritz Christmas tree cookies.

All that butter.  Another thing not used in Chinese cooking.

Then we went out and collected assorted greens, berries, and plant material for the arrangements.

M’s very lovely artistic result:

 

What I made for X:

That morning the Paperwhite narcissus Ellie gave me had come into full enough bloom that i cut them and added them to the arrangement already on our table.

We had such a lovely time.

Feather Ornaments

23 Oct

Start with dead ring-necked pheasants.  Have your husband skin them instead of plucking!  Thanks to Jay I had two adult males and a hen.

Add some cardboard circles cut from a cereal box, scissors, a glue gun.

Cut and paste.  I  tend to use 6 or 8 feathers per round.  Three rounds, each smaller than the last.  Contrast, contrast, contrast!

Running out of feathers is not the problem.  The toxic fumes from the glue gun drove me outdoors from the shop, and then the breeze sprang up.

For the middle: a small antique button, usually one with a metal loop back which is hammered flat.  To finish,  glue heavy black upholstery fabric slightly larger than the circle and sandwich black cord between the board and fabric for a hanger.

Straw into Gold

23 Sep

Sunday Ellie and I spun flax in the fiber to cloth booth at Judy’s Day. We both wore linen.  Another man spun wool on a walking wheel.

Kathy had spent a long time planning the activities children were able to do: breaking, scutching and  heckling flax.  The breaking board was so loud we removed a tent wall behind us so alleviate some of the noise.

We had an almost constant stream of watchers who asked all sorts of questions.  It was surprising to me how many people did not know that linen was made from flax.

And that the process of spinning is what changes flax into linen.  As the flax leaves the distaff, goes through my fingers, and is wound onto the bobbin, it becomes linen thread.

Over four hours of spinning.  The resultant thread weight: 24 grams.  Thank God for the industrial revolution.  It measured 308 yards.

That is about 2912 yards per pound, plied.

Perhaps  enough to knit a lacy washcloth?

PS:  Earl and Merl are doing very well.  They are living in the bunny hutch and are drinking milk from a pipette only once a day.  Eating nuts, some fruit, corn, veggies on their own.  Pictures tomorrow.

 

New Box

13 Sep

Banner’s old home box was well loved and used up.  Jay moved it to the large white spruce this spring because the starlings were using it as a nest box and he could shoot them coming out of it easier there.  But it had seen its best days: the roof and corners had been chewed; it no longer kept out all the wet.

So last night jay finished up a new box for the Earl and Merle Squirrel. Then we rearranged their cage.  They slept in their tissue box on top of the wood box last night.  We want to see if they will move their things into the box on their own.

Exploring

Climbing

Ooh, a hole!

Yesterday morning we took a spin together.

And this morning 11 new Monarch larvae were seen.  I walked in areas of the field I have not before.  How happy seeing each new one made me. 32 + 11 = 43.  At least.

Fangs

12 Aug

We went to the BTI picnic yesterday afternoon into evening.  Played volleyball, tug-or-war, ladderball–a new game to me–participated in a pipetting contest, voted for the best tie-dyed t-shirt.  Isabelle checked out the large bubble making and the little pool with floaty things.  I had my first experience with face paint.  Just not on my face.  Sam, who played ladderball with us, has dark black skin and had the most wonderful bear/lion showing its teeth on his arm.

So I waited my turn very patiently and after numerous little children had gotten cheetah and tiger faces, bracelets on their wrists, peace symbols on their faces, the lady finally realized I had meant it that I would wait for my chance and obligingly gave me my very own lion.  She said Sam’s creature had been a bear.  But it was golden–perhaps a brown bear would not have shown up on his arm.  What I wanted most, though, was the open roaring mouth with fangs.

 

 

Spinning Wensleydale

5 Aug


Not the name of a new band, but what an idea: The Spinning Wensleydales.  Remember  Wallace and Gromit? If not, just hop on over there; they are great characters.  If so, then you know that Wallace’s favorite cheese is Wensleydale.  A few years ago the sheep themselves came to my notice.  Lovely large longwool breed that is being bred in the US to as close as possible a pure line without importing animals.

I bought a half pound of Wensleydale roving at the Troy fair. It is all spun.

I added a fair amount of twist while keeping the singles fairly thick.  The result:

The yarn is bulky, about 400 ypp.  It is longwool so to the hand it feels nice, but on the face you wish not to repeat .  But it is lovely.

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