31 December 2011

with meat and cap'ring wine: goodbye to 2011

"A New Year's Gift, Sent to Sir Simeon Steward"
by Robert Herrick

No news of navies burnt at seas
No noise of late spawn'd tittyries;*
No closet plot or open vent,
That frights men with a Parliament:
No new device or late-found trick,
To read by th' stars the kingdom's sick;
No gin to catch the State, or wring
The free-born nostril of the King,
We send to you; but here a jolly
Verse crown'd with ivy and with holly;
That tells of winter's tales and mirth
That milk-maids make about the hearth;
Of Christmas sports, the wassail-bowl,
That toss'd up, after Fox-i'-th'-hole;
Of Blind-man-buff, and of the care
That young men have to shoe the Mare;
Of twelf-tide cakes, of pease and beans,
Wherewith ye make those merry scenes,
Whenas ye chuse your king and queen,
And cry out, 'Hey for our town green!'--
Of ash-heaps, in the which ye use
Husbands and wives by streaks to chuse;
Of crackling laurel, which fore-sounds
A plenteous harvest to your grounds;
Of these, and such like things, for shift,
We send instead of New-year's gift.

--Read then, and when your faces shine
With buxom meat and cap'ring wine,
Remember us in cups full crown'd,
And let our city-health go round,
Quite through the young maids and the men,
To the ninth number, if not ten;
Until the fired chestnuts leap
For joy to see the fruits ye reap,
From the plump chalice and the cup
That tempts till it be tossed up.--
Then as ye sit about your embers,
Call not to mind those fled Decembers;
But think on these, that are t' appear,
As daughters to the instant year;
Sit crown'd with rose-buds, and carouse,
Till LIBER PATER twirls the house
About your ears, and lay upon
The year, your cares, that's fled and gone:
And let the russet swains the plough
And harrow hang up resting now;
And to the bag-pipe all address,
Till sleep takes place of weariness.
And thus throughout, with Christmas plays,
Frolic the full twelve holy-days.

Happy seventh day of Christmas, last day of 2011, and first day of 2012! I hope you are spending it with people you love and a big bottle of bubbly.

(If you're over 21. OBVIOUSLY.)

*Tittyries: A brotherhood in London about 1623-4, who called themselves "Tityre, tu's." Thanks much, Google.

30 December 2011

Weekend linkage

Look, math is magic! (Somehow, this was never clear to me I was weeping my way through Algebra II . . .)
Simon just reminded me about this: Libertas Imperio and Bliss from Eric Whitacre's Paradise Lost. Give it a listen.

You guys. Samoa skipped today. I'm not kidding.

An even easier way to make yogurt? I am intrigued. Next project. Apparently I can never have too many probiotics swimming around my kitchen.

Maple butternut pudding WHAT WHAT.

29 December 2011


Last week I made these bars as Christmas cookies. (With the tricolor scheme, I guess they would work for Independence Day too.) Holiday or no, I'll be making them often! Coconut flour gives the crust a nice texture and lemon juice adds a bright snap to the filling. No sugar explosion, plenty of fruit. Like brownies and lemon bars, they also freeze well, so you can make a lot and then have them ready for company in a pinch.

I love how these look on a cookie platter, with gorgeous jewel toned fruit scattered among golden crumbs. If I had a functioning camera, I'd take a picture, but I guess you will just have to make them yourself!


Blue Cranberry Bars
(a more colorful version of this SK recipe)

2 1/2 cups oat flour*
1/4 cup coconut flour**
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided***
1 teaspoon baking powder
scant 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold butter, cut into 16 cubes
1 large egg
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
4 teaspoons arrowroot starch
3 tablespoons lemon juice

1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat 9x13 baking pan with nonstick spray.
2) Combine oat and coconut flours, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Add cubed butter and egg. Cut into dry ingredients with pastry blender or two knives, until mixture forms a crumbly dough.
3) In separate bowl toss together remaining 1/3 cup sugar, berries, and arrowroot. Add lemon juice and stir to combine.
4) Press about 2/3 of the dough mixture into prepared pan, making sure that bottom of pan is completely covered. Pour in berry mixture and spread evenly across crust. Crumble remaining dough across top.
5) Bake for 45-50 minutes, until center is set and top is just golden brown. Remove to wire rack and cool completely, then refrigerate for several hours before cutting into bars.

*Just grind rolled oats as fine as you can in your food processor or blender.
**If you don't have coconut flour, use 1/2 cup additional oat flour instead.
***Yes, you read that right: ye olde devil white sugar. I decided that for me, it is not worthwhile to search out and pay for "healthier" sweeteners like sucanat or palm sugar. Any trace minerals they may have don't outweigh the fact that they are. still. sugar. I prefer to spend money on olive oil and grassfed beef.

(Besides, using white sugar reminds me that I really shouldn't be eating much dessert. I can't fool myself anymore by saying "but it's unrefined!" haha)

28 December 2011

Well [Spoken] Wednesdays: Dr Jackson edition

Dr Jackson, a.k.a. The Beard, kicked my behind. He is the only professor who has made me cry in his office. But gosh did I learn.

Nerdiest English major moment ever: sitting on the floor with two friends, translating Sir Gawain and the Green Knight from Middle English and making jokes about chain mail.

Hwaet! The marginalia of Dr. Justin Jackson.

Anglo-Saxon and Medieval British Literature

"I hate rationality."
"What's the difference between brave and stupid? If you win or lose, I suppose."
"These monks brewed some pretty strong mead."
"Language is a verb."
"It you would like to label Neitzche a misogynist, please feel free."
"Dickens should have been shot."
"All it is is a piece of literature."
"I'm sleeping on the couch with a jumprope tied around my child!"
"At least pretend like you're paying attention."
"Yes, we have a lot of post-modern monks here."
"I cut out your tongues."
"Don't make the calendar angry."
"Well, someone has to row the boat."
"There's two different types of pathetic."
"Golf clap for Beowulf."
"Male children are like little wolves."
"It's better to know nothing than a little."
"Kids just stick around the house falling in wells."
"It makes me sound so smart."
"And if you're over 21 it's a great drinking game."
"So now Jesus is a fruit."
"Technology really makes it easy to get rid of sin."
"And I drank a pint of Guinness for each chapter they finished."
"I'm going to explain that confusing little sentence."
"Now we play axe game."
"Yay, I can't wait to go become chivalrous!"
"It's Christmas. Everyone's drunk."
"Just forget about eternal damnation for a moment."
"God is not perfect."
"Doing nothing is hard work."
"This will be an interesting lecture . . . I left my notebook in my office."
"I love verbing things."
"Perhaps I like to give you enough rope."
"I don't know what understandable has to do with learning."

27 December 2011

holiday baking . . . triumphs and otherwise


1) For Christmas Day I tried a spin on the traditional buche de Noel (traditional for other people, I mean, since our family had never made one before, at least not that I remember) with this recipe from SK.

It cracked. But it was tasty. And no flour! Nary a tablespoon! I am determined to make it again, perhaps as a triply-stratified layer cake rather than a roll.

(Is triply an adverb? If doubly is . . .)

2) I made chocolate mint squares but with 1.5 times the amount of mint filling and bitter chocolate coating, which worked to the great satisfaction of all. The former ratio was always frustrating to spread and not as satisfyingly minty. This was perfect.

3) By the third go-round, using extremely stiff egg whites and a few tablespoons of coconut flour, the flourless macaroons succeeded. I used honey rather than agave.

When removing them from the parchment to the cooling rack, I would advise coating your spatula lightly with nonstick spray. This will help you to avoid making a heap of coconut shreds out of your plump, sweet, rather delicate macaroons.

4) The ganache truffles . . . well, their flavor was magnificent, as would be expected for something made with Lindt 70% and heavy cream. But only after much finagling. The chocolate seized every single time and I had to go through this heat-more-cream, add-to-double-boiler, stir-stir-stir rigmarole to fix it up. I think next time I'll use a different method to make the ganache, just starting it in the double boiler in the first place. Humph. Chocolate is tricky.

5) Rachel and I played around with a cranberry-blueberry crumb bar, the end result being tart and colorful and my favorite gluten-free cookie yet. Actually one of my favorite cookies, period. Recipe soon.


As for those gingerbread houses, I'm working on pictures. Our camera suffered an untimely death this summer and so now I have to rely on my husband's smartphone. It does take decent pictures but does not connect directly to my computer . . . which is to say that I need aforementioned husband to take and send aforementioned pictures, and who knows when that will happen.

Helpful Tip: if your holiday baking extravaganzas have demolished your brown sugar supply, don't bother to buy more. Make your own with regular old granulated sugar and molasses! It takes five minutes, requires no more sophisticated equipment than a bowl and fork, and yes, it truly works. I like streamlining my grocery lists. :)

p.s. We didn't eat all this at once. Our family helped to polish off the buche de Noel and most of the rest. :) What's left of the mint squares and berry bars went into the freezer, where they will bide their time until needed. The macaroons and truffles won't freeze well, though, so I guess we'll be eating them this week. Boo hoo.

p.p.s. Butter is on sale two for $4 at John Herr's this week. Stock your freezer.

Bonus Christmas Day picture, courtesy of Daddy, as are those of the chocolate roll. Here Jared demonstrates what happens when someone from his family [always logical and methodical] tries to explain a new game to my family [only logical and methodical when absolutely necessary and sometimes not even then].

By the way, that sunflower painting on the back wall is the work of my talented nine-year-old brother. Ain't he something?

24 December 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas: grace upon grace

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”)

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known.

-from John 1

23 December 2011

Weekend linkage

Pencils for chefs!

This is how I look in the winter, too, you know . . . just not as cute.

A pair from Scriptorium Daily: first, do angels sing? And second, reflections on the theology of A Christmas Carol.

Have a wonderful Christmas weekend, everybody.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas: I will write it on their hearts

Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people . . . For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

-from Jeremiah 31

22 December 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas: he shall be their peace

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.
Therefore he shall give them up until the time
when she who is in labor has given birth;
then the rest of his brothers shall return
to the people of Israel.
And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth.
And he shall be their peace.

-from Micah 5

21 December 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas: beautiful upon the mountains

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”
The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice;
together they sing for joy;
for eye to eye they see the return of the Lord to Zion.
Break forth together into singing, you waste places of Jerusalem,
for the Lord has comforted his people; he has redeemed Jerusalem.
The Lord has bared his holy arm before the eyes of all the nations,
and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.

-from Isaiah 52

Well [Spoken] Wednesdays: Dr Bushey edition

Thank you, Dr Bushey, for teaching me a thing or two about art history. Namely, that it is not boring. And that, as you said, everything connects to everything. 

In your class I gained knowledge that allows me to understand approximately 25% more of the allusions in British and American literature. I also discovered John Singer Sargent, finally figured out who Titian was, and laughed a lot.

I may have entered your classroom under duress-- art history! a core curriculum requirement! so dull!-- but I left it with regret: much better for the experience, and with a new interest in how people express themselves and their culture through visible art.

Behold, the marginalia of Dr Barbara Bushey.


Art History: Renaissance to Modern 

“One thing art historians love to do is generate vocabulary words.”
“It’s what Romans do: they win a battle, they build an arch. They’re marvelous.”
“The clergy didn’t want everyone to go out and joyously sin.”
“Quick, someone throw me a noun!”
“Here’s another example of everything connecting to everything.”
“How would you appreciate the summer if you didn’t have to suffer through THIS?”
“I’m not as old a fogey as I first appear.”
“And someone said, let’s put a naked lady over here!”
“There is an excess of gravity in this room.”
“He’s got more money than age or brains.”
“I need a new mouth!”
“This is not a terribly ovoid oval.”
“I can’t think of anything funnier than a room full of blindfolded, beer-drinking students.”
“Fascism is government by beating people up.”
“A hundred years will do wonders for your artistic reputation.”
“That usually never happens.”
“Gravity is really not our friend.”
“Clothing someone doesn’t keep them from being lascivious.”
“Sugar came to Europe and everyone’s teeth started rotting out of their heads.”
“Trees don’t grow on trees, buddy!”
“Beethoven was a smallpox-scarred runt.”
“One doesn’t like to advertise that one’s wife is cuckolding oneself.”
“Her husband was very rich but not very bright.”
“And the kiss makes her immortal. Isn’t that nice?”
“He’s completely out of his mind, but he’s very entertaining.”