Monday, October 17, 2016

Gone with the wind

It was a short weekend. A one day weekend, in fact. On Sunday, it was overcast, but surprisingly mild. My favorite apples, the Idared, could finally be picked, and so I made it a day, apple picking and the Breakwater Lighthouse in Rockland. Rockland has several lighthouse, but this is the one at the very end of a long, long breakwater way, which was man-built into the wide harbor of Rockland to guide the ships, with a lighthouse at the end of it. When the tide is high, the waves splash over the big Maine granite boulders of the walk way. At low tide, only the wind pummels the visitors. It is a beautiful, almost 1 mile walk which seems much farther.








Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Summer squash fritters

A few days ago I finally cooked again something that resembles a meal. The summer squash are 3 (any size) for $1 at the farmers market right now. There are boxes of free squash along the way where I go walking in the evening. This summer, I used them for spiralized ‘znoodle’ salads. But the znoodle salad has a now a competitor: the fritters. The ‘pancakes’ are not really fried, just pan-fried. They are fairly easy and fast to make, with a grater for the summer squash and the carrot, a handful of corn kernels and a nice mixture of herbs and nutritional yeast to give them a solid, nutty flavor.  Easy summer food! But very satisfying.  The key is in the nutritional yeast.


First, grate the summer squash and carrot in a bowl. Add the grated parmesan cheese, panko bread crumbs, and an egg.  Now, for the flavoring: I used a combination of dried thyme and fresh mint, and a heaping helping of nutritional yeast, and some red pepper flakes for some background sizzle.


I measured out 1/4 cups of fritter, and then made them flat in the pan.


After about 5 minutes on each side they are ready to go.

Summer squash fritters (makes about 4 fritters)

  • 1 larger summer squash (ca 8 inch)
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 1/4 corn kernels (frozen is fine)
  • 3 TB nutritional yeast
  • 2 TB grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 –1/2 cup panko bread crumbs (to your liking)
  • 1 egg
  • salt, pepper
  • fresh or dried herbs: thyme and  mint
  • 1 TB red pepper flakes
  • 1 TB of olive oil (divided)
  1. Grate the summer squash and carrots in a large bowl.
  2. Add the corn, yeast, parmesan, panko, herbs, and pepper flakes. Mix gently.
  3. In a separate cup, swirl the egg with a fork, then pour over the mixture.
  4. Mix well, add a bit of salt and pepper, not much since the parmesan cheese adds the necessary salt.
  5. Heat a 10 inch pan with half of the olive oil, until hot.
  6. Scoop 1/4 cups from the mixture, place in pan and flatten. Sear for 5 minutes, and then turn, and sear for another 5min on the other side. Repeat for the other half of the mixture.
  7. Serve immediately. Optionally, sprinkle some Dukkah over the fritters.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Cozy times

I know I will regret this. But today I am glad the sky is overcast, and although I have not been outside, I hope the heat broke. It was still in the upper 80s all week, and humid. That, coupled with a some unspecified bug I caught made me feel run down, and in need for rest and feet up on the couch.  When the skies turn to gray, I feel like a natural calm coming over me, and for one day I am grateful for it.

As said, I will probably regret this soon.

The cats are suddenly alert. Thunder is rolling in.  They will take cover under the bed soon, and I debate if I get my pasta maker out. This day calls for pasta and a slow-cooked tomato sauce.  But maybe just for downloading photos and blogging.

Yesterday, a last hot, humid day I drove again, to Stonington. This summer I have been enchanted by it. This time I stopped on the way, before the road leads to the tall bridge, up on the hill. Caterpillar Hill. It has the most breath-taking view of all of Maine. The beautiful landscape of the many small inhabited and uninhabited islands of Penobscot Bay, sitting next to each other, to they can be reached by sail boat or kajaks. I sat down, with my camera, and stared into the horizon. Such beauty. I wished I’d had a house on Caterpillar hill to see this view every morning.


On my way to Stonington, I stopped by the 44 North Cafe Deer Isle store and roastery, in the old Deer isle high school building. Unfortunately they were closed.


Once I arrive in Stonington, I sat down in 44 North Cafe, worked for a while. It was popping with people, mostly elderly tourists, enjoying the times when everyone else is back to school.  Around 5pm I went on another walk.


Swinging on ‘my’ swing.


Dreaming of a little house in Stonington, just enough for 1-2 people, a cat, little cleaning, heating and upkeep included.



Then it was back to 44 North cafe, for another round of writing and some light white wine and dates stuffed with goat cheese.



It was late when I was driving back, and it had started to rain. A long drive through the narrow, winding streets, with winds picking up and rain coming down. It must be very different in the winter here.

Friday, September 2, 2016

A dose of spice

This semester I am taking a creative writing class. The idea of writing a book has ghosted around in the back of my mind for years, but I  found the thought of execution daunting and overwhelming, and I shh-ed it away.”Yes, one day.” I knew fully-well that day would likely never come. But, like good and meant to be ghosts, they don’t go away, and come back regularly, knocking on the mind’s door and testing the waters. I became increasingly brimming with ‘want’ and equally increased impatience of ‘I really don’t know of how to to do it!’. Over the summer, I listened to a short course on creative live. “Write your story” with this surprisingly mesmerizing instructor, Joshua Mohr, who made the idea of crafting a story look doable. This course increased my understanding significantly and planted a seed of confidence that this could be fun.  I started to played with the idea of taking a university creative writing class. Just get my feet wet. Maybe, just the first few classes?

I almost talked myself out of it again, 15min before the class. But then I headed to the classroom. It was a small. I had expected a large lecture hall with hundreds of students, so I could squeeze in, in the back, and hide. But it was a fairly small class room, 25 students at most, and these are typically filled to the brim. Auditing means you need to sit on the floor. I almost turned around on my heels again, leaving the whole idea behind.  The students were still streaming in, and a few seats were left as I could see through the loophole of the door. The instructor arrived, looking at me with a quizzing look of “can I help you? are you lost?” but he did not say a word.  I asked if I could audit the class, blablabla. He looked at me, intrigued and lightly amused,  and without other ado he ushered me in.

And that is how it started.

I am taking a writing class.

I had no idea what to expect. I don’t have a desk full of first drafts that just need rewriting. I don’t have any drafts. Actually, I never really have written anything (as in fiction).

We got a list of reading material, books that should be read from a writer’s perspective, and to write a review of what we can learn as a writer. We got the first assignment, “Write 5-8 pages of creative fiction, non-fiction or 5 poems until Tuesday.” “What?????!” I hastily looked around, no one seem surprised and I was sure there was probably a class I missed that explains of how to do that.  “Aren’t we supposed to learn this first?!!!”  I angstily thought in sheer panic. My mind started scrambling “What do I need for this?!”

The wheels have been turning since then. It is the weekend now and I will have to sit down soon, and get started. I still have no clue what I should write about.  In a mad google search, I informed myself about character development, plot, point of view, narrative arc, but I still need an idea. A plot! I am still stumped and start thinking again “Maybe, this was a crazy idea, because you don’t even have an idea of what you want to write about. What kind of writer are you!”

Oh dear, oh dear.

I have been reading a lot of Kurt Vonnegut this week. I like him.

My ‘normal life’ still goes on, the normal humdrum of same-old same-old auto-repeat, and it now feels like it has a layer of pixie dust, a spice mixed in. It is transformed into something exciting and glorious, full of expectation. Like a child with a new cool toy.. Free zones are no longer filled with mind-numbing netflix and a glass of wine, but reading books, thinking about characters, and using my imagination.

A little new endeavor, and everything is changed.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

House on a Ledge

There is no denying it: summer is over. Or at least, summer break and school starts again. Sigh. I had a really relaxing summer, free from pressures, outside and self imposed, and I am not really ready for the rigorous schedule of the academic year. Summer feels like softly swinging in a hammock, on my own time and pace, and the school year feels more like a rat race.

I can feel my squirrel genes engage, shuffling pictures of silky soups through my mind, sift through cake recipes,  making me bring home large bags of  beets, and marking the start of pick your own apples in the calendar. It’s all good, but I rather return to the begin of summer again, and go into an endless loop.

Here are some photos from my last summer trip. Since it was so serene in Stonington, I went a second time, this time able to spend a few hours in 44 North Cafe since it was open. But first I visited my new friends in Ellsworth, at Rooster Brothers. They graciously share some brioche with me each time I come.




Penobscot Bay.

















Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Summer Znoodle Salad

These days I would be all about the Olympics, this fascinating mix of a sports event and the Oscars, getting an Oscar for being the very best at something, right then and there, live. The excitement ! The cheering… But unfortunately, I have not seen anything because I no longer have a TV subscription and my digital antenna does not receive the NBC channels. History, without me.

But then, the big wide wild world, does it really all matter, if someone is the fastest runner? Or swimmer? Sure, it is a great accomplishment, and there is a lot of work behind it. I found this aspect always interesting, admirable: the endless training, keeping a balance between training and rest, pushing yourself but not going too far, and in the ends, the nerves, right then, when the performance is required. It is quite a feat.

Well, I managed to grow figs. At home. In the summer. In Maine!  For some, this might also seem like an Olympic feat.



The summer squash are 3 at any size for $1 at the farmers market. I got the spiralizer out, and, cranking away, made this wonderful fresh and light znoodle salad. The zucchini noodles have a texture much like fat spaghetti (or bucatini, to be correct). A nice bite, but lighter in the summer heat and no cooking required. Mixed with kalamata olives, sheep milk feta,  fresh corn, tomatoes and shallots with plenty of oregano and basil and a vinaigrette of white wine vinegar, oil and salt and pepper.  Yum!


Friday, August 12, 2016

“One’s art goes as far and as deep as one’s love goes.”

The heat has finally broken and there is a bit of rain here and there. This was an unusually long, hot and dry period for Maine, and for once I am relieved there is some rain.

The other day I headed down the coast, for a day of art. Rockland with the Farnsworth Museum and the Wyeth Center are my favorite museums in Maine, mostly because of Andrew Wyeth’s paintings that capture the essence of Maine so timelessly. The day was rounded out with another piece of art: Sushi at Suzuki in Rockland.