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Lost long weekend

After a summer bookended by week long events that I was co-chairing (the teaching academy summer institute and the new distance students’ bootcamp), with 36 studnets in internships in between, I now am trying to get three online courses ready by next Tuesday, September 2. Which means that, since last Wednesday, the last time I wrote, I’ve been in a lost weekend of nothing much but work.

On Thursday, I had a morning training session on the student & class scheduling software at UW, ISIS – and I’m pretty sure now it shares a name with a terrorist organization for a reason. I knew I was getting cilantro & chiles & tomatoes in my CSA box, so I cooked a big pot of beans on Wednesday night, and Rach & Mark & I had refried beans and corn salsa and tacos for dinner. We ate a remarkable amount of beans.

On Friday instead of working at home, I went in to the office. My goal was to have 2 of my three courses ready to be logged into by the end of the day, but I didn’t quite make it. The problem is that even though I’ve taught all the courses before, I haven’t taught online searching or web design since 2012. The only head start is that I had to get a lot of the online searching course ready for the bootcamp at the beginning of August, and my 3rd course is the same internship one I had with 36 students in the summer, so all I had to do was change the dates. And only 6 students in that one this fall.

On Friday evening we went to see Jason Yi at MMoCA. Yi spent three weeks building an installation with plywood and duct tape (mostly) that will be at the museum for until November. It was as good as artist talks ever are – the artist earnestly talking about what h/she was thinking when they made the work, the audience trying to ask “smart” questions and show off their one knowledge. There were drinks and snacks on the roof, and we hung put with our neighbors, an artist married to a doctor. Ann’s a pediatrician and we walk when we can – her dad died this summer and she’s been in Ohio taking care of the house and getting her mom settled and all that – so I haven’t seen her much. So it was nice to catch up. On Sunday morning when we were breakfasting with Mark’s son, who’s in business school and interested in a career in finance or public policy, said. “People get paid for that? Maybe I should rethink my career choice”. We tried to explain how hard it is to talk about your work to get those grants, how that’s what John’s spending 3 years in an MFA program to learn how to do, and seemed like Ethan was reassured.

Jason Yi at MMoCA

Jason Yi at MMoCA

On Saturday, I wanted to go to the smaller westside market instead of downtown one, so Mark and I biked over there. I got lettuce, apples, parmesan, eggs – not a whole lot needed because of getting 3 CSA boxes in a row. Came home and ate a little breakfast and worked until it was time to go see Guardians of the Galaxy. The weather cooperated – it was hot and muggy and stormy, good for staying inside and working.Rach and I didn’t even walk on Saturday morning. The movie was fun, if a little silly, and I have bad ’70s pop stuck in my head now, because one of the characters had a beloved mix tape that his mom gave him on her deathbed.

Sunday we had a big scrambler, with potatoes and corn and broccoli and peppers and cheese and tomato. Which meant I finally got the dozen ears corn that had been in the basement fridge husked and cut off the cobs and some went onto the scrambler, some made another batch of corn salsa, since we snarfed the first batch so fast; first batch was more tomato than corn; second more corn. And I now have one cottage cheese carton – about 3 cups – of corn in the freezer, and a tub of corn cob broth, with bay leaf & pepper corn. I made blueberry coffee cake, too, using my cherry coffee cake recipe. It’s good blueberry, I used the blueberry compote from the ice cream sandwiches, but the cherry is better, especially with Door County cherry pie filling – which I will have to get more of when we head off to Door County, Wednesday.

During my bout of brunch time cooking, I made a key lime pie to take to Debbie’s pie party. No pics, but it looked a lot like the one below that I made 3 years ago; graham cracker crust, cream cheese, key lime juice and sweetened condensed milk in the filling, all natural cool whip on top. This crust was especially good because I used cimmy grahams. The rest of the day Sunday, I worked, then put Mark on the bus to Chicago, and went to the pie party.

Key Lime Pie

And, jeez – started this Tuesday morning, finishing up Wednesday. I have all three syllabi and the course websites basically ready. I should still send emails to the students – but I guess I can do that from a coffee bar or the library on Washington Island. I am feeling pressed but shouldn’t be – I am finally on V A C A T I O N. And it’s time to get packed.

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So my master plan of last weekend, cooking all the vegetables I could, seems to have worked.

Mark and Rach and I had tomato gratin and eggs and fruit on Sunday morning; I did make the Smitten Kitchen one – but I used leftover garlic toast and much less Parmesan, instead of cubing and frying fresh bread. We were still so full from breakfast that all us girls ate for dinner was nibbles of the ice cream sammiches on Sunday after Magic in the Moonlight. Which we agreed was pretty to watch, and Colin Firth was himself, but the movie just wasn’t that good. the characters were just too slight. You weren’t at all convinced that it was the best thing for this smart, 53-year-old man to fall in love with this 25-year old wisp. Tim Robey in the Telegraph nails it, “The film’s hardly a chore to watch, and it looks like a million of 1928’s dollars. It just has its heart in the wrong place.” Rach and I ate leftover squash casserole, and leftover corn, and leftover roasted green beans for lunch on Monday .

Monday night I was in the Twins to give a talk, so I took leftover pasta for dinner. After pie at Norske Nook, and putting the finishing touches on my slides. I had sour cream raison meringue, because if I made that kind of pie myself, I’d have to eat it all myself – no one else in the family would help. But I should’ve had peach melba.

Tuesday I gave the talk and drove back. There was a sound like running water in my hotel room, almost like white noise, but just enough NOT like white noise to make it hard to fall back asleep after I woke up every 2-3 hours like I do. So I skipped the end of the conference, and left at 2:30, so I’d be able to do the driving earlier in the day, but even so I had to stop and eat a Taco John’s Santa Fe chicken burrito, halfway, at Orange Moose – so it would keep me awake with its disgustingness. Which all meant I didn’t eat any leftovers on Tuesday.

Wednesday was all leftovers all the time. Corn cut off the cob and mixed with the last spoonful of creamy Italian, and the last three cheery tomatoes, and that crusty part of the last slice of tomato corn pie was lunch, then the last of the pasta, and collards with bacon for dinner.

Tomorrow we’ll have new food – mostly. I hear I’m getting cilantro and tomatoes in my CSA box, and I have a nice purple onion from a previous box, and some hot chile’s from Rebekah’s box in the fridge. So I’ll make salsa, and we’ll have tacos with shredded grilled chicken, and corn, and I’m cooking a big pot of beans right now.

I think I’ll have to get into PJs and have a little slice of the ice cream sammiches, and watch the Wire. I am on season five, and I think I am on to the episode where Omar gets it.

What flavor of metadata is best for your collection? from Debra Shapiro there’s video on some slides & flyins, so download the ppt if you want to see that
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I’m getting three CSA boxes in a row – I get my normal every other from Tipi, August 7th & 21st, and last Thursday I got Rebekah’s from Vermont Valley. So, I’ve been trying to cook it all, and here’s what’s in the fridge:

  • one last slice of corn & tomato pie
  • a small container of collards with bacon – it’s the turquoise one, upper left
  • a bigger dish of penne with roasted tomato sauce, and turkey sausage fried with fennel, onion, & red bell pepper
  • A few hunks of garlic toast – it and the penne are from Friday dinner when the neighbors came over
  • roasted green beans with shallots, grilled chicken pulled off the bones, 4 ears of grilled corn, and yellow squash casserole, all from Saturday dinner
  • behind the penne, there’s a big bunch of broccolli, and lurking in the bins are two small cantaloups, a bag of salad (from Friday), carrots, celery, shallots, onion – actually the vegetable bins make me feel like I am succeeding in cooking all my vegetable bounty …
  • In the basement there’re 11 ears of UN-cooked corn (I plan to cut off the cobs and freeze)
  • In the fruit bowl there’re about 2 pounds of tomatoes (I’m debating if I should make this or or maybe this or another kind of tomato pie for brunch tomorrow, with the tomatoes sort of scalloped and topped with biscuit strips, from this book). And those three expensive peaches.
  • In the freezer, there’s a half pan of blueberry ice cream sandwiches (I cooked the blueberry compote with lemon zest, but didn’t add extra lemon juice & zest to the ice cream), and in the fridge (behind the collards and in front of the peanut butter jar of granola) there’s a little container of leftover blueberry compote to eat with yogurt

Don’t think I’m going to have cook until next weekend, though – even if it means making Mark eat leftovers again next Thursday.


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Couch potato night

Mark’s in Chicago so this is one of my single girl nights.

I had a big salad for dinner and ate while I watched the Wire – that is, I re-watched selections of the season four finale. The selections where I fell asleep last night.


I roasted vegetables for the crazy roasted vegetable sauce. I got given a basil plant last week, so I used it up in the sauce. The neighbors from down the street are coming for dinner Friday and I’m thinking I’ll make pasta with the tomato sauce & meatballs or sausage – they have little kids. I’ll make a big salad. And maybe ice cream sandwiches for dessert.

I got some of the dishes washed and now I’m watching the Wire season 5 first episode. With a cat holding me down.


Wednesday was even more of a single girl night – you can’t see it in the picture, but one of the layers of my Tuesday salad was roasted green beans and corn. On Wednesday, there was a small Tupperware of the green beans and corn leftover, that I ate with a spoon right out of the container. Then I had ice cream.

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Birthday Pie

I made myself a birthday pie to share at an afternoon meeting tomorrow. What birthday? … it’s hidden in the file names.

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Taken in by the recipe trolls

Or, to put it more politely, the earnest, home cook, social media recipe commenters.

Today for brunch I made this corn and tomato pie, by way of Gourmet, by way of Laurie Colwin & James Beard.

It’s supposed to look like this:


Or this:


But mine looked like this:


Right – soupy. What a bring down for a semi-pro like me.

It’s because I believed the commenters, who were kvetching about soggy bottom crust. I should have believed Gourmet, or if not Gourmet, then definitely Colwin and Beard, who were both absolutely topnotch recipe writers. I searched my cooking magazine collection diligently, looking for the original August 1992 Gourmet, where Colwin’s recipe was published, and couldn’t find it. The August 2009 re-issue, which is what I used, says “What’s integral here is a very thin biscuit crust instead of one made of pastry dough.” I should have realized that is code for the filling will bake down into the biscuit crust, in a way that it would not do with pastry. Lead astray by the commenters, I put a layer of cheese in the bottom of the pie, like I would do for a pastry-lined quiche crust, to protect it from the wet filling – and I am just sure that’s why my pie came out soupy.

I’m also pretty sure, strongly suspect, that in her original recipe, Colwin included instructions for the home cook to layer the ingredients in the shell in the order given, which is tomatoes, corn, and cheese ON THE TOP. But the only way to find out is to go to a library, and get the original 1992 magazine in print, and check. I might just have to try that … but, the campus library that has the old hardcopy Gourmets is getting re-carpeted this summer, so I’d have to get the volume I need paged up. Oh, my, how quaint and pre-digital.

PS. so the pie firmed up considerably as it cooled, and Mark and I had it for dinner on Thursday, with collards with bacon. He doesn’t really like leftovers and he doesn’t really like greens, so even though I was trying to compensate with the addition of bacon, he got the look on his face that he gets when I announce it’s leftovers or too much vegetables, for dinner. Personally, I thought the pie tasted better leftover than it had for Sunday brunch – the corn and tomatoes and crust had made friends.


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Toni’s Dad’s Pics of me & Mark

At least Mark looks good … man, I hate getting my picture taken.


And kind of crazed in this one


Ugh, I look like my grandmother in this one

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No-vacation summer

I have too big of a class for summer school – 35 – and Monday the new distance students in-residence orientation Bootcamp begins. So I haven’t really had any vacation yet, aside for going to the Prairie Home Companion 40th celebration – which was really fun, but I think was kind of more of a mini-break than a real vacation. We are going to Washington Island in Door County from August 27 to September 1, but before that I have to get through:

  1. Bootcamp;
  2. Reading 35 papers and grading the 35 students;
  3. Giving a talk in Minneapolis;
  4. Writing two syllabi, that are due the same day as the talk;
  5. Getting three online courses set up;
  6. Attending the faculty retreat ….

Hmm sounding kind of whiny there.
Well, I just made it through the first day of Bootcamp, and turns out that today, August 4th, is John Venn’s 180th birthday. At least, according to the Google Doodle. That seems like a good omen – my course for the upcoming semester with these new students is online searching. Well, one of my courses. The other is web design, and I’ll have another 6 students in internships.


There’s this cool stained glass window that commemorates Venn, at Gonville & Caius College, his college at Cambrdge. Most of the pictures are pretty bad, though – there’s text, and panes for another mathematician, Ronald Aylmer Fisher, who did squares – but I can’t find any shots where you can really see everything.

This is about the best pic I could find, can’t read the words, but Venn circles above, and Fisher squares below.


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Burst cherry tomato tart

Or, post farmers’ market lunch with visiting Seattle friends.

Cherry tomato, zsummer squash & corn galette - my version of Smitten's

Cherry tomato, summer squash & corn galette – my version of Smitten’s – the basil got really black when baked

Joe and Terry were here because Joe was officiating at the wedding of one of his students – we started hearing about this in January during the ALA conference in Philadelphia, because he was looking for some kind of Internet ordination that he could do, and be sure was legal in Wisconsin. For awhile it looked like he was going to be speaking at a local library conference this trip, too, but that fell through, and that, as he says in his column, is another story.

We went to market Saturday morning, and got a few things that, along with what I’d already gotten in Thursday’s CSA box, could be made into an early lunch – on the schedule for the wedding it said something like “officiant arrives at 2:30″. Meredith recommended the burst tomato & corn & zucchini tart from Smitten Kitchen – I made my own version, and we ate it with a nice spicey salad – that had flat leaf parsley and celery greens mixed in with leaf lettuce from last week’s market and what I could salvage from a clam shell of organic herb mix greens purchased when Rach was here last week. And lots of fruit – cherries, strawberries, raspberries and melon – the last being from California by way of the grocery store, rather than the market, but good anyways.

DebS Burst Cherry Tomato, Summer Squash & Corn Galette (Smitten is Deb P.)

For starters, I made my own crust: 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, 2 tsp sugar, 1 tsp salt, 1 stick of butter, 1 TBLS vegetable shortening, about 4 TBLS cold water. Combine the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer – or in a large mixing bowl.  Slice the butter and vegetable shorting into the bowl, and cut in the shortening until it resembles coarse crumbs using the paddle attachment for the mixer, or a pastry blender, or two knives or  your fingers. Switch to a fork if mixing by hand. Drizzle in the water a tablespoon at a time, mixing, until the dough clumps. Shape into a disk, either set aside if you’re making the galette right away (I just wrap it in my pastry cloth and set in a coolish place in the kitchen), or wrap in plastic and chill.

For the filling:
a good size glug – about 1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups cherry or grape tomatoes
big pinch of Kosher or coarse salt
1 small summer squash, cut into large dice
2 cloves of garlic, minced or put through a press
the kernals cut from 1 ear corn
freshly ground pepper
a few sprigs of fresh basil, julienned
about 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Milk for brushing – whole or 2%

Make filling: Heat the olive oil in a wide deep skillet with a lid. Add olive oil, tomatoes and salt to the pan, then cover and heat over medium high heat. Shake the skillet to roll the tomatoes around from time to time. You’ll hear some pops as the tomatoes burst a little. When most have, remove the lid, turn heat down a bit, and add the squash and garlic. Saute until the squash is  softened, and add corn and grind in some pepper. Cook uncovered until most of the juices boil down. Stir in the basil. Transfer mixture to a large plate and spread it out – you can even pop it in the fridge – so that it will cool faster. You want it cooled to lukewarm so it won’t melt the crust when you assemble the galette.

Assemble galette: Heat oven to 375°. On a floured surface – I like a pastry cloth – roll the dough out into a rough circle, as big as you can get it – I think mine was about 14 – 16. Transfer the crust to a parchment-lined baking sheet; I used a 14-inch dark colored pizza pan – dark is good for a crisper crust. I fold the dough gently in half, without pressing down, just kind of flop it, then unfold it onto the baking pan. Spread the Parmesan onto the crust in a rough circle (or half circle if you have somebody like Terry who doesn’t eat cheese), leaving a pinch or two behind for topping the crust. Spread the tomato-squash-corn mixture onto the center of the dough, trying to leave behind any liquid that has puddled on the plate. Fold the crust over the filling, brushing with milk as you go, pleating the edge to make it fit. The center will be open. Brush the crust with more milk, and sprinkle with last pinches of Parmesan (or sprinkle the cheese half with Parmesan.

Bake the galette: For 30 to 40 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown. Remove from the oven and let stand for 5 minutes, then slide the galette onto a serving plate. Cut into wedges and serve hot, warm or at room temperature. One of the leftover wedges was even good cold for breakfast next day and that was the no-cheese half.

Joe & Terry in front of the bookend sculpture at Madison Public Library - where the wedding was

Joe & Terry in front of the bookend sculpture at Madison Public Library – where the wedding was


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Oma’s 10th Jahrzeit

Yesterday I got an email from my brother with the subject line “Rye bread and Riesling”. To which I replied “Broccoli and Sauvignon Blanc”. I don’t think either of use lit candles, but we both commemorated the 10th anniversary of our mother’s death by dining on foods she liked. Dark bread, white wine, and green leafy vegetables.

On my brother’s recommendation, I watched the documentary Shoot Me, about Elaine Stritch, who just died last week, and was almost exactly the same age as our mom – 89. Stritch was born February 2, 1925 in Detroit; our mom February 22, 1925 in Cincinnati. You can get the movie on Netflix. Stritch was a lot like our mom. I decided after watching that in some parallel world, our mom might’ve been Elaine Stritch – Ruth was a another Midwestern girl who could belt out a song and tell a great story. But somehow Elaine ended up on Broadway – and at the Carlyle – and Ruth ended up in Pittsburgh a doctor’s wife with two kids and president of Southwestern Pennsylvania League of Women Voters, and a 35 year career as a medical librarian, that began when she was 40. And drinks at the Carlyle, when in New York City.

Funny how it all works out.




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