Posted in Christmas, Just Bitching, Nature, Winter

Moon Base

man walking through snow and wind
Who left the door open??

It’s finally winter – and I hate it. We don’t have pretty snow. We have a light cover and very fierce winds. It’s really cold and there’s nothing to compensate for it: no snow-dappled trees or the satisfying crunch of my boots as I walk through the white world.

No, it’s just disgusting. The sound of the wind outside makes me feel like staying in bed all day. Mind you, this is pretty much the way it’s supposed to be in January (minus the snow pack). We’ve all been spoiled by the mild winter up until now. We were practically in shirtsleeves outside at Christmas. Now it’s like my image of a moon base – barren and cold. Yikes!

Posted in Home, Nature, Photography 101, Seasons, Spring, Winter

Dirty Nature

Well, here comes Janie-come-lately to the next Photo 101 exercise: Natural World and Leading Lines.

Right now the natural world is pretty disgusting. It’s cold and rainy out, threatening to turn to slush the minute the temperature starts to drop. The snow banks are exhausted and filthy and nothing has yet dared to poke its green head out. I tried to find something close to home and, after a few seconds wandering and getting wet, found it. I couldn’t figure out which orientation worked better, so I’m posting both pictures:

tree branch and snow bank

This will someday be a Rose of Sharon. It will be beautiful. Right now it’s emerging, cold and bare, from its snowbank womb. I like the way the branch parallels, or tries to parallel, the gutter to its left.

Or maybe this view is better:

branch against snow bank

You can really see the branch struggling here and there’s an interesting juxtaposition of the vertical branch against the horizontal stripes of the shingles and the front bay window.

It’s drab, dark and depressing, but it’s also a harbinger of better days to come.

 

Posted in Family, Nature, Weather

HOW Badly is it Snowing in Buffalo?

I’m cold but comfy in Boston, but my family in Buffalo is watching a major snow storm rage by. Buffalo, for those who know it, is no stranger to snow but this is a real record-buster. My family lives a bit north of what’s called the snow belt in the south towns. Kenmore is okay. Orchard Park? Forget it. My dad is staying with my sister, even though he lives only one block away, in Kenmore. My brother also has limited snow since he also lives nearby. However, one of his buddies lives directly in the path of Brother Storm and sent over these pictures:

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Posted in Arlington, Gardening

Two Steps Forward

Gah! Will this winter never end? Last week it was sunny and in the 60s, then it started to rain – a lot – and now it’s gone down to near or below freezing.

I decided to get a start on the garden during those warmer days and also decided to keep a record of what I’m doing (thank you Evernote). The plant nursery had its early spring assortment out and I came home with two types of mint, lettuce, spinach and chives. Not a bad haul. I knew it was supposed to rain the next day, so I decided to let them sit in their pots until it dried up.

My Perky Little Spring Garden

It rained. At one point, I could have sworn I saw Noah’s arc floating down Massachusetts Avenue. Then came the snow. I woke up yesterday and saw snow on the ground and roof tops. My plants! I threw on a pair of pants and brought them in from the cold. They did not look happy, so I put them in a sunny place in the kitchen.

Snow in yard
Damn This Winter Anyway

They recovered, fortunately and I brought them back outside today. Now it’s just a waiting game between old man winter and my spring garden.

Posted in Food, Home, Recipes, Seasons, Winter

Simple Dinner For a Cold Night

The wind’s been howling all day, sounding fierce and rattling windows. The snow has that windswept look to it. It’s supposed to go down into the single digits tonight. The house is cold.

It was almost spring a day or two ago. It was so warm I felt overheated in my winter coat. Now we’re back to freezing cold, blustering winds and snow. They’re expecting rain and temperatures in the 50s by this weekend. Go figure.

On nights like this I like to turn to my dinnertime staple: beans and greens. They’ve become our comfort food. It’s incredibly easy to make: saute kale or any other bitter or just-bitter green with four cloves of chopped garlic. Tonight it was kale, but in the past it’s been kale and Swiss chard or kale and spinach. You could do kale and collard greens, too. That would be good.

Step two: open two cans of white beans. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice. I didn’t have any white beans tonight, so I substituted black beans instead. It tasted just as good. Combine the two when the kale is ready. I usually saute it for about 20 minutes or so. It’s up to you. Give the beans a few minutes in the pan to warm up and it’s ready.

beans and greens
Soon We’ll Be Dinner

I usually serve the greens dish over sliced and sauteed polenta. You can buy it in logs, as I did here. You can also make it from scratch, although that’s a lot of work and some very messy pans to clean up afterward.

This time I also decided to add some Brussels sprouts on the side. They were quite tasty, actually. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Both the black beans and the sprouts worked just fine.

After about 45 minutes of prep and cooking, dinner was ready. It was tasty, very filling and nicely textured. I loved the mouth feel.

beans and sprouts
Beans and Greens Over Polenta. Sprouts on the Side.

It looks a little weird with the black beans, but the end result was just as good. Try it and see what you think!

Posted in Food, Recipes

Cold. Snow. Lasagne. Yes.

I like to eat something warming and hearty on a weekend like this. Even with a empty-ish pantry, I was able to put together a very nice looking and smelling Quick Lasagne With Bean Sauce. The recipe comes from Jane Brody‘s Good Food Book. This book was published back in the day when high carbohydrate meals were all the rage. Yes, this has noodles and it’s delicious, thank you very much.

Jane Brody Cookbook

There ya go. Here’s the recipe:

Quick Lasagne with Bean Sauce

Bean Sauce:
1 tbs oil
2 tsp minced garlic
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cups cooked or canned red or pink beans
4 cups tomato puree or 2 cups tomato sauce and 2 cups puree
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
Salt and pepper to taste

Remaining Ingredients:
3/4 lb uncooked lasagne noodles
2 cups part-skim ricotta cheese
8 ounces part-skim mozzarella, thinly sliced or grated
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Prepare the sauce by heating the oil and sauteeing the garlic and onions for a minute. Add the beans and the tomatoes, oregano, basil and salt/pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes.

To assemble the lasagne, take a 9 x 13″ baking pan and spread a thin layer of the sauce over the bottom. Arrange the noodles over the top, so that they don’t overlap. Cover the noodle layer with half the ricotta and half the mozzarella. Then add about a third of the remaining sauce. Repeat with another layer of noodles, adding the rest of the ricotta and mozzarella and another third of the sauce. Layer the top, add the remaining sauce and sprinkle the top with the Parmesan cheese.

Cover the baking pan with a tight layer of aluminum foil. Bake in a 350 degree oven for one hour. If the mixture still has too much liquid, uncover the pan and bake another 10 – 15 minutes.

Pan of Lasagne Sauce
Pan of Lasagne Sauce
Lasagne Layer One
Lasagne Layer One

It smells wonderful, even at this stage! Just keep going until you’re out of ingredients.

Lasagne Layer Two With Sauce
Lasagne Layer Two With Sauce

When it’s ready, toss it in the oven and forget about it for an hour.

All Done and Ready for the Oven
All Done and Ready for the Oven

Take it out of the oven and you’re done!

Let's Eat!
Let’s Eat!