Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Julie and Julia

Today I saw the movie Julia and Julia. I rarely go to movies, so it wasn’t just something to do. I liked the movie. No sex and violence. Positive messages of achievement delivered by people who actually love each other. That must make it a chick movie. The draw for me was that it is about Julia Child.

The short Isthmus review gives a taste of what the movie is like: “Julie (Amy Adams) cooks her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, while, in a parallel story, Child herself (Meryl Streep) finds her vocation as a chef. Adams is an irritant, but Streep’s half is irresistible.” I didn’t find Adams irritating, and I found Streep very like Julia Child as I remembered her. The movie is based on two related true stories.

The matinee show was sparsely attended by women and one man.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Health Care

It isn't health care any more. It's medical insurance.

I agree with a quote from this story: "Leaving private insurance companies the job of controlling the costs of healthcare is like making a pyromaniac the fire chief." --Rep. Anthony Weiner, Democrat, New York.

This isn't change we can believe in.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Blackberries Again

The wild blackberry season continues. With rain yesterday and this morning, plenty of newly ripe berries are on the bushes. That’s right. I was out there picking again. Since the blackberry pie is gone, I looked for another interesting way to eat blackberries.

Yesterday’s batch of berries went into a dessert I found in a cookbook and modified due to quantity, substitute thickener due to not stocking arrowroot, and my jellybag being jettisoned about twenty years ago. I discovered this new way to use blackberries in Rodale’s Basic Natural Foods Cookbook, edited by Charles Gerras (New York, MJF Books, 1984). I made it yesterday while it was raining. When it rains for a long time in summer, it’s time to cook.

I found the dessert as presented not sweet enough even for my not so sweet standards, so when eating it, I stirred a small amount of additional sugar into it. That made it quite palatable. This morning I tried a new way to improve it. I stirred what was left first and then folded some Cool Whip topping into it, which made it very good. I don’t know about its keeping qualities, since I ate it on the spot. I noticed that a small amount was enough to satisfy me. I don't stand behind Cook Whip as a nutritious product, but used it anyway.

Don’t get excited about the jellybag part. A satisfactory result comes with straining the cooked berries with a colander, and then sending the resulting juice through a finer strainer to get rid of the seeds that made it through the colander. If you want pure, uncloudy juice, find your jellybag. It’s not difficult to make this, especially if you have time on your hands.

Crimson Classic
(including my revisions)

2 cups fresh red fruit (I used blackberries)
1 ¾ cups water
1/3 cup honey
2 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine fruit and water in a stainless steel or enameled 2 or 3 quart saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain juice through a muslin cloth or bag, or use a colander and strainer. Combine honey and cornstarch with a small amount of cooled berry juice. Gradually add juice, stirring to combine. Cook over low heat until thickened and clear, stirring almost constantly. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour into a bowl and chill. Serve with whipped cream or whipped topping.

Tomorrow I’ll think of another way to eat blackberries. I’m not ready to make jelly yet.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


It’s wild blackberry season. Not everywhere, but where I walk. Every day I see hundreds of them. I can’t pick them all. Fortunately, other people have been picking them, too. So much abundance! I have been picking blackberries for several days. Today I shared some with my neighbor Liz.

There’s nothing quite like the sweet shot of berry flavor in my mouth when I toss a half dozen in. The walk stops and the picking begins. The sun warms the berries and they are delicious. Front teeth chewing only, please, or the seeds will occupy all the barely accessible spaces throughout the back teeth.

Daughters Dori and Mary were here for the weekend, so Dori and I went berry picking Sunday morning. We came back with enough to make a pie, plus plenty more. She makes wonderful pies. She used the standard piecrust instructions from Better Homes and Gardens, along with the recipe for blueberry pie on the Kraft Minute Tapioca box. As she said, blueberry is close enough. And it was.

Blueberry Pie Using Blackberries

4 cups fruit
¼ cup Minute tapioca
1 cup sugar

Mix fruit, tapioca, and sugar in bowl. Let stand 15 minutes. Line a 9-inch pie plate with pie crust. Fill with fruit mixture. Dot with 1 tablespoon butter. Cover with top crust. Seal and flute edge. Cut several slits in crust. Bake in preheated 400 degree oven 45 to 50 minutes or until juices form bubbles that burst slowly. Cool.

Thanks to Minute Tapioca for printing the recipe on the box.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Walk on the Hills

Yesterday I had a breezy enjoyable walk along the Military Ridge State Trail, starting in Verona. It’s a good flat former rail bed, so one can walk for a long time without a lot of exertion. Today it was the hilly walk from home to and through the Prairie Ridge Conservation Area. Yesterday the constant breeze modified the effects of the humidity. Today there was no noticeable wind. I thought I had started out early enough to avoid the perspiratory (I think I just invented a word!) (sweaty?) effects of the humidity. No such luck. It was an enjoyable walk anyway.

The way to it goes up the hill on Raymond Road, past the Channel 3 property, left on Muirfield Road and into the little park on the hill. The grass trail behind it then goes through the hilly terrain. The illegal burn there in the spring probably helped the prairie flowers and grasses. They look and smell wonderful.

Walking outside the urban buildup is restorative to the soul. Remember the 23rd Psalm, “He restoreth my soul.” The colorful, abundantly alive country spaces remind us that we don’t own ourselves or the environments we inhabit. When we use them, we can enjoy a little bit of heaven while God restores us.