Interesting Week in the Kitchen and Elsewhere

This week I felt the need to bake. Bake using very old self rising flour and even older instant yeast. Why waste the good stuff, right? Well I now have a very salty dough that can be kept in the refrigerator for up to two weeks or until I decide what to bake next. The pecan sweet rolls are okay…just salty.

And today thinking about Australia I decided to make my first ever Anzac Biscuits (cookies) in honor of their holiday of remembrance coming up this Saturday.

The last time I had Anzac cookies was when I was put on a bus in Katherine, NT and sent on my way with those cookies to snack on while heading up to the Katherine Gorge. It was a gift trip/tour from the Northern Territory Craft Council for teaching workshops in their area. I loved those cookies.

And I remember that on that bus ride there was a woman driver…..a no nonsense driver. She stopped the bus at a camel farm. She said we had to stay on the bus and just look at the lone camel through the window. She said that she used to let the people off the bus there for a closer look but one day an American woman said she knew camels and camels knew her, so she could get close and pet the camel. The camel bit the woman. The driver glared at me and said that it was because of that American woman that no passengers were allowed off the bus to look at a camel since. Isn’t that funny! I don’t think I look any different than an Australian woman but that bus driver knows things. I smile when I think of her and am very sure she never thought of me again.

So back to now. I found the recipe on a Google search. I had all the ingredients in house. I was confident that if I made a mistake like I did on that stuff in the refrigerator it would be fine because Lee and I went very, very early to the grocery store and got almost everything on my list. Paper products, no, but enough of everything else to keep me out of the store for the next month. I found meats, breads, eggs, fruit, vegetables, flour and plenty of wine and beer. I think if my calculations are correct I am paying more per ounce for beer than wine.

So I mix up the cookie recipe. Check to see that 125 grams of butter is one half cup and 175 degrees Celsius is 350 Fahrenheit. I like this recipe because the soda gets added to the hot butter and syrup so I can watch it foam up. I might just do that with other recipes that are such sticklers for keeping dry ingredients together.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes. Oops, sidetracked and smelled burnt sugar. Rushed to remove them from the sheet.

Lee says, “They smell burned.”

I say, “Yes, I may have left them in too long. But let’s think about this, Lee, when is the last time we even had a burnt cookie?”

He agreed and picked the blackest one for himself after they cool down. I ate two other very dark ones to make doubly sure they were edible…even just edible. It is a good thing that my oven has hot spots and not so hot spots. Better than half the pan are just overcooked with dark bottoms. The rest are what most people would call burnt. I paid attention to the second sheet of cookies….none overcooked.

I do remember that years ago when Lee’s uncle had some sort of intestinal cancer, he was told to eat burnt toast often. So these could be something good for us.

If there was someone else living in this house that wasn’t either deluded or suffering from dementia, that person might suggest I stay out of the kitchen for awhile. But here we are, perfectly content to cook and call it “good.”

Also beside the early shopping and baking, Lee and I cleaned house again. It is the day every two weeks when our cleaning lady would be here. We are paying her to not come til things look safer and think we can do this ourselves for now. I do notice that Lee needs more help steering the vacuum around. And I don’t mind doing that because it takes me away from cleaning those bathrooms. Those have been officially put off until tomorrow.  Vacuuming, dusting and washed kitchen floor was enough for now.

I took a picture of my mixing bowl. I bought this at a garage sale before Lee and I were married over fifty years ago. This is the perfect bowl for mixing bread dough and big batches of cookies. Even meatloaf tastes better if it started out in this bowl. Maybe I have been giving it too much responsibility lately. I am going to leave it in the cupboard under all those dinged up stainless bowls for awhile.

To further amuse myself I started drawing into the leaf patterns in a concertina book that I stitched back to back in the grooves. The poor little critter on the lower edge started out to be a cat and quickly got changed to a weasel like animal. It is a stoat. Do you remember how the weasels and stoats took over Toad Hall when Toad was put in jail for stealing a car? I am talking Wind in the Willows here. Remember? Anyway, I am making the stoat a regular in this visual narrative of nothing in particular….just Stoat’s Property. I simply draw whatever occurs to me to fill in the spaces between the existing patterns from the contact printing. It is just doodling. But now I have the idea to have something on the pages that will start with a letter in the alphabet. There are lots of images on the pages but at least one of them will have something starting with the next letter in the alphabet.

The starting page.

The next two pages that need to be filled in when I get back to it.

See how that bear got there?

And when my stoat was more of a cat? Anyway I am entertaining myself with this.

The drawing a day continues. It is definitely making me a better drawer so I hate to give it up. Sometimes I groan at the thought of going outside to find something, but am always glad that I took the little time it takes to do these while listening to the news.

From garden to stove

my healthy thyme plants carry

their flavor with them.


Such a delicate’

little weed with yellow blooms

among shamrock leaves.


Once the leaves pop out

the dogwood blooms begin to



Lovely maple seeds

blown away from their branches

for dancing with wind.


And the latest on the Social Distance book.

The pointy parts are the top and bottom of a portfolio type binding that will be covered in black later. The poem is the center of the opened portfolio and the two sides with the arms outstretched figures lay over on top of each other. So if the book stands up with the long part of the portfolio cover laying out front and the two side sections of the portfolio open out to the sides, the figures are keeping their social distance….but when closed they are close and are reaching for each other.

Here is how I worked that out when I wrote the poem.

I almost put an extra page behind the open figures to give a nice background to them but then realized that that extra page would prevent them from embracing so am going to go without it.  Technically I am not sure this is a book, but it does have text, illustrations and a way of holding itself together and being narrative. Here is the poem again.


Social Distance

We are told to keep a social distance.

Six feet away from anyone else.


They say that’s how far the virus

can travel on our spoken words.




I don’t want to be social right now.

I don’t need to speak to anyone.


And with just one look

they will know to keep their distance.


Because their over there should be

nowhere near my over here.


For now I will be distant and alone

until someone is allowed to get close enough


to hold me.


I am liking working with words again. And for some reason on my facebook feed is Billy Collins reading his and others’ poetry each evening during this social distance time. He is so soothing to listen to and I am so glad he chose to do this. Usually I can not listen because it is at a time when Lee needs attention and we are eating. But I can go find him again later when it is just Billy and me. It really is lovely.

Better go and finish up the book while Lee is being taken care of.

I will say that I might now be getting bored with the cut out illustrations. Like having to do screen printing in my classes in college, I hated that the image was there due to only having something not there. It was either ink or space. Here it is the same way…hard to give form and therefore much “feeling” to the illustration. It is a bit too just plain graphic for me to get excited about. Might try one more bit of writing to illustrate this way and then go back to something else. Stoat’s Property, Wildflowers, Drawings a Day with Haiku…maybe something altogether different…..

Til later.