24 August 2011

Leaning towards autumn

This morning in the park the paths were gouged in many places where water from the rains of the past few days had accumulated and run downhill. There was a spot of sun but the weather leans distinctly to the autumn, and away from summer. In several spots I ran over beech mast and along avenue Winston Churchill, some chestnuts have already fallen. And leaves: I passed a neighbor sweeping small brown leaves from his steps and the sidewalk. We both shook our heads at them - leaves, already! Leaves, I tell you, we are not ready. Give us a minute, OK?

Last week's "bio box" was overrun with plums, and I made a hybrid Nigel Slater cake. Summer cake (from his Appetite cookbook) bred with the midsummer's cake from the fruit volume of his Tender books (that's volume two I believe). I used the sugar/butter/flour/ground almond quantities from the midsummer cake, threw in an extra egg, plums instead of apricots, and the lemon zest and juice as used in the summer cake. It was thick so I thinned it with yogurt as the creme fraiche had gone off - good plain yogurt but don't be afraid to use cherry yogurt (I wasn't!). Came out fabulous. Topped it with powdered sugar and it looked like a million dollars. Colleagues at office consumed it in less than one hour.*

I am not quite out of my muddle, but countered in slightly by spending a blissful afternoon browsing at the second-hand book shop Pele-Mele, and as a result, discovering Sherlock Holmes. Sherlock Holmes, and the Penguin Classics editions with annotations. Now, Holmes can be an irritating know-it-all, although Watson is a sweetheart and makes up for it, but the annotations are simply fabulous! They outline every inconsistency (where Arthur Conan Doyle took liberties with flora and fauna, for example), and in the Hound of the Baskervilles, variations between the text and all the film versions are thoroughly explored. I enjoyed the annotations as much as the story - so now am on a quest for more. If nothing else, I may even learn something about the telling of detective stories. So things are looking up.

*Note, if you make this and use plain flour, you might want to add a bit of leavening - I used a 1/2 tsp each of baking soda and baking powder.

16 August 2011

Annual Muddle

The annual muddle has descended. This is the time of year when, fresh off a holiday, I realize anew that my usual routine is in tatters and will stay that way until September. I have not done matters any good by reading the class member updates in the most recent alumni magazine. Am tempted to write in myself: "Jeannette Cook (CLA, '89) still has her health, thank you. And she can bake a mean cookie. Otherwise she has not only spectacularly failed to excel in her chosen field, she is unable to commit to a particular field for longer than it takes to grow disillusioned with it. She looks forward to stalking the streets of Ixelles in her later years, frightening babies and small dogs." Yep, that should just about do it.

As I write this there is a just-past-full moon outside and it is very very quiet. It is possible Clover has fallen asleep with the light on in her bedroom. We watched the first episode of Gormenghast this evening - what a strange creation that is! It held C's attention though; maybe I can get her to read some of it later. Maybe I will read some of it later. I'm on a David Mitchell kick right now - finished The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, and am now re-reading Cloud Atlas. Was thinking how I might be able to use its folding sort of structure in my own work. Hmm. Can I actually get my muddled self to this desk and do some work? Mwahhahahahaaa. Watch this space.