Category Archives: Food for the Soul

Our Valentine’s Day Meal

IMG_3055I am happy to report that the new recipe I used for barbecue beef in a crock pot was a smashing success. As I had hoped, the house was fragrant with the smell of the cooking beef when Clif came home from work, and those smells certainly whetted the appetite. We went all out with candles, music, and wine and a long leisurely meal where we talked about various musicians—the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, and Neil Young, to name a few—as well as politics, and, yes, even Shakespeare, one of my favorite topics.

The barbecue beef was everything it ought to have been—tender, spicy, smokey with a rich tomato base. We also had rice, corn, homemade bread, and homemade applesauce.

“Tell me,” I asked Clif as we ate. “How does this beef compare with scalloped scallops?” (This recipe from an old Fannie Farmer cookbook is one of his favorite meals, and we usually have it for our anniversary.)

“I’d have to put them at the same level,” Clif replied. “In fact, this sauce is so good that we could make it this summer for when we barbecue on the grill.”

Indeed, we could. Then there was silence as we finished our meal. Hoping for handouts, the cats and the dog circled the table. As we are soft touches when it comes to animals, they were not disappointed. The candlelight made everything look cozy. We sipped our wine, we ate our meal, and afterwards we were so full that we didn’t even have room for the Pepperidge Farm chocolate turnovers. No matter. They are in the freezer, and we can have them another time.

All in all, a very nice Valentine’s Day.

Sweets from My Sweetie

Today has been a very tired day for me. All my exertions with the storm as well as over the past two months finally caught up with me. But then, what did I spy on the doorstep? A package for me! A package containing something I’m just crazy about—See’s Chocolates. I’m a lucky wife, that’s for sure.


 And let’s just say that eating a few of those wonderful chocolates really perked me up.

Saturday, October 20—A Gray But Busy Day

Saturday was a gray day, but it didn’t matter as it was filled with many pleasing things to do. Our friend Diane had invited us to her home for dinner that evening, so first on the list was making an apple pie to bring for dessert.

Then it was off to the library to bring a birthday present to Shane, librarian extraordinaire and the leader of our library’s book group, The Title Waves. And what did I get him? A book of course—Crampton Hodnet by Barbara Pym. While my husband, Clif and I were at the library, we admired the new slate roof that is in the process of being installed.

After that, Clif and I went to Longfellow’s Greenhouses to look at the display of fairy gardens. Was I smitten? Indeed I was, and I immediately beginning thinking about making a couple of fairy gardens for a problem spot—dry shade—that I have in my own yard.

Finally, it was off to Diane’s Café, as Diane herself dubbed it, where she was not only a warm and gracious hostess, as always, but where she also went all out with snappy decorating and presentation.

The food was delicious, and what a warm, wonderful time we had around that table. There were 8 of us—my daughter Shannon and her husband, Mike; Alice and Joel Johnson; Sybil Baker, Clif and me; and of course Diane. We are such kindred spirits that the conversation just flowed from movies to books to politics to personal history. Sybil told us of the time she spent at school in England in the late 1940s, where food was still rationed but because she was a minor, she was allowed one egg a week as well as an orange and a banana.

And on this gray day I felt so lucky to live in Winthrop, to make apple pie, to have a great library, to go see the fairy gardens, and to have such wonderful friends.

Roasted leek and Tomato Soup by the Fire

Yesterday, Clif bought a fire pit for our backyard. It’s something I’ve been wanting for a while. On our bike rides along Memorial Drive and the lake, we often see people grouped around fire pits as dusk comes and the temperature drops. Somehow, there is something so cozy and satisfying about sitting around a fire. I suppose it takes us back to our tribal days, when the fire was a source of heat, companionship, and sustenance. Do we have ancestral memories? I don’t know, but fire in a pit or in a fireplace or in a wood stove still has an irresistible pull.

Naturally, we wanted to use the fire pit immediately. For dinner that night, I had planned a roasted tomato soup and corn bread.

“How about if we eat soup and bread by the fire?” I asked Clif.

“Sounds good to me,” Clif replied, and we did just that.

In the morning, I roasted the tomatoes, as well as some leeks. When they were cool, I whirred them in the food processor and then stored the mixture in the refrigerator. When we got back from our afternoon bike ride, I chopped some garlic, sizzled it in a bit of oil, added the tomatoes and enough water for a nice consistency, and let it all simmer for 45 minutes or so. Then, a bit of milk to smooth the soup and a cup of small pasta to give it a little bulk.

As we slurped soup around the fire, I asked Clif, “What do you think?”

“Pretty darned good,” came the response. “Smooth and fresh tasting.”

The dog, in Sheltie fashion, circled the patio until the night came, at which point he settled down beside us by the fire. Dog and people by the fire. How primal is that? The night became chilly and damp, but the crickets sang their fall song. We stayed outside until the fire burned to embers, and then we reluctantly went inside.

Clif, with Liam behind him, by the fire

I expect sitting around the fire pit will be one of our favorite things to do this fall. Along with bike riding, of course.


Keepers of the rocks

This afternoon, I went to Cushing to visit my friend Terry. Her house overlooks the St. George River, which is so tidal that the air has a lovely, salty smell. The day was everything a summer day should be—warm but not too hot with a bright blue sky. Terry bought lobster rolls that were chock-full of lobster meat with just a hint of mayonnaise to hold it together. I brought grapes and sparkling water. As we ate our feast outside, we talked about her parents, who were farmers, and gardening and growing old. Her three cats swished around us. One of them, a big orange tiger, nearly caught a red squirrel.

“Go!” I said to the squirrel.

“Good!” Terry said when I told her the squirrel had gotten away.

For his part, the orange cat let out one frustrated yowl and sharpened his claws on a nearby log. You could almost hear him saying, “Next time, you little fiend!”

After lunch, we walked around the house and admired the many gardens that Terry’s daughter tends. Here are some of the photos I took:

The view from the front yard
Poppy pod against yellow
Blue and green
A serene place to rest



In spring, summer, and fall, our backyard is one of my favorite places to be. It is not large—only a half-acre or so—but it is surrounded by trees, there are flowers and birds, and there is always something to notice. Here are some photos from yesterday—Wednesday, July 11th.

Ms. Watson on her favorite perch---the compost bin


An unexpected visitor


The fair Juliet


Infant cucumbers


Beautiful bee balm