I’ve got some stuff that would tranquilize an active volcano.

I’ve been watching Star Trek TOS this summer. Gold, I tell you. Pure gold.

My awesome cousin Sarah finally got her blog up and running, so go check it out for New England comfort food and whatever else she’s cooking up: The Answer is Garlic. That meat pie recipe is the one our mothers got from their mother, who probably got it from her mother. I have wanted some ever since Sarah posted it, and this is just not the right season for it, so that tells you how good it is. Maybe I’ll make it as a treat for my husband when he gets home.

Oh, my poor husband. He went away to visit his aunt and uncle in Wisconsin and got a broken leg for his troubles. The universe has not been kind to him these past couple of years.

That alone can’t account for my silence. I had a surgery early in June and was off for a week recuperating from that. Otherwise, I’ve just been doing what I do: bringing the boys to their activities, taking care of the house, working on plans and new texts for teaching in the fall, and knitting. Sarah’s Flaming June is coming along nicely and should be done by the end of the month. I took a commission for a Going Green for another friend, and I said I’d start that in August. And my aunt, Sarah’s mother, also wants a Flaming June, so I’ll get that going ASAP also. Do I still need sweaters for myself? YesIdo–but for once, I have a very good reason to wait. I had a breast reduction (yaaaaaayyy! Many years I waited for that) and want the swelling to be fully settled before I make new sweaters for myself. The obvious advantage is that my back and neck feel much better; the one only knitters could appreciate is that now it will be much easier to knit for myself, since I’m much more proportional and won’t need to do a full bust adjustment as much anymore. The bad news is that now my Gwen has gone from too big to much too big, so I have to decide what to do about her. It might be beyond taking in. With my current measurements, I estimate I’ll have to make a size 8″ smaller than the one I finished. …Yes. Oh, well, I never liked how that zipper came out. And the new one will take less yarn, so I might get a second sweater out of what I have left.

Books! CraftLit just ran chapters 5 and 6 of The Age of Innocence, and it’s gone from interesting to amazing in one fell swoop. This is the first part of the book where the full intricacy of Wharton’s writing is evident, and Newland Archer’s musings about the status of women are a comprehensive refutation of the old ways and a reasoned argument for feminism in one. It’s just brilliant; has to be read to be believed. I am finding this book to be reminiscent of Austen as something of a comedy of manners, but unlike Austen, Wharton was writing about a time about 50 years in the past (1920 writing about 1870s New York). As a result, Austen assumed her audience was familiar with her references and their implications, but Wharton is explicating this time in history for both insider and outsider readers. And what she’s describing is both ridiculous and deadly serious, a dichotomy she manages exceptionally well. I look forward to the chapters every week, and I’ve been reading them on Kindle also, just to be sure everything is sinking in. Really great book; highly recommended.


Cures what ails you (unless it’s a peanut allergy)

I had been on the fence about posting any more recipes because a) this isn’t a food blog because b) I’m really not that creative a cook. However, I have this one simple little concoction that I know will strike a chord with someone, and I felt I would be remiss not to share it.

Crisis Toast

2 slices Wonder Texas Toast

Peanut butter in style and quantity of choice

Toast bread to medium golden brown. Remove from toaster while warm. Spread with peanut butter. Eat for dinner from paper plate so as not to have to deal with dishes.

I know Wonder Bread is not nutritional, and I suppose peanut butter isn’t either, but at this point I don’t care because they make me not hungry and I don’t have to think that hard about them. We’re unexpectedly embroiled in a bit of a situation at my house, and I’ve spent most of the last two weeks at the hospital with my husband. The last thing I feel like doing when I get home is cooking or cleaning up. Usually I deal with the boys and then stumble off to bed.

My poor husband. He had hardly any sleep for the first six days, when he was in the ICU, and then he was switched to a regular room with an extremely noisy frequent-flier roommate who treated it more like a hotel room than a hospital. Now he’s at the acute-care rehab and finally getting more sleep and regular meals, and he’s much more himself, but I miss him and he misses me. He had a minor stroke after a routine surgery, and has temporarily lost the use of his left arm and leg. He is improving rapidly, though.

When I said I wanted more time to knit, this is not what I had in mind. I also once said I wished my life were more interesting, and I unexpectedly got pregnant shortly after that. Take heed. The fates hear everything.

It’s like a sweater for your stomach.

Well, we’re back to March again. It was beautiful on Thursday and I went to work without a coat, but by Friday, it was pretty chilly again, and today I was happy to have my mittens at tour guiding. It’s an aggravating time of year. But yesterday seemed like the perfect day to make the tortellini soup I’d seen on someone’s Pinterest.

I was doomed from the start. I failed to notice that it was a crock pot recipe, and since it was already 4:45, that was out. I didn’t have any white sauce mix because I never do. I know how to make white sauce. Thought I’d improvise those parts of the recipe, but after reading it three times, I couldn’t figure out which parts were about the white sauce mix and which parts weren’t, and finally thought, the hell with this; I can make it up. Which I did. I adapted a little from a recipe for potato-spinach soup from my trusty 1963 Pillsbury Family Cookbook, but mostly for proportions (potatoes have a much longer cooking time). This is better, though. The other was needlessly complicated and had too many packaged ingredients. This can be made either 100% fresh or 100% packaged or anywhere in between, depending on your timeframe and pantry.

Creamy Tortellini-Spinach Soup

1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup diced white or yellow onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, with leaves, chopped.
1/4 cup flour
3 cups water
1 tsp salt
2 cups tortellini (I used Buittoni bi-color cheese tortellini; other flavors would be good)
2 cups whole milk or cream
1 cup shredded Parmesan or heel of a wedge in one piece
1 cup frozen leaf-style spinach (or fresh; if fresh, add last and cook little)
1 small can or 1 cup sliced fresh white mushrooms
Pepper to taste

Serves 6 as a soup course or 3-4 as a meal.

Heat butter over medium in soup pot. When hot, add onions, garlic, and celery, and saute until tender but not browned. Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute. Add water, salt, and tortellini. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes or until tortellini are done (frozen or dried may need different cooking time; follow package instructions but undercook just slightly at this stage). Reduce heat to medium. Add milk, cheese, spinach, and mushrooms. Simmer until flavors are melded and adjust seasonings. Cover if holding. Serve garnished with more parmesan and a little fresh spinach, if you have.

This would also be great made with asparagus instead of spinach. Or with sausage tortellini, or mushroom.

It’s a really hearty soup. My husband and I agreed that it almost hurt to have more than one bowl, but it was just that good.

Today between tours, I knitted on my Hudson’s Bay blanket. The colors looked too loud when I got the package, but now they’re working up into a just-right blanket, very true to the original. One of the visitors recognized it right away. Lucky boy, they said, when I said it was for my son. I agree. If he ditches it, I’m taking it back. I love it.