Here’s Sister Rosetta Tharpe with Down by the Riverside.
The spirit of the end of summer. He’s laughing at us from behind a tree, full of mischief, but a little sad, too, maybe even slightly scared. He seems substantial, but if you run your hands through his tresses, as we did today in the bright afternoon light, he falls to nothing. Through his winking eyes and gaping mouth, you can see the beautiful darkening light along our towpath, and watch the leaves fall like bright shadows.This tart contained many of my favorite flavors. It was fun to make, and I realized I hadn’t made anything slightly complicated in some time. It’s not complicated as in difficult, but it does have a few steps, a few layers. The first is a sweetish buttery crust. But you don’t roll it out, you just press it down with your hands, so it’s not that hard. The second layer is bittersweet chocolate. I melted the chocolate chips over a low heat till they were just soft, and then spread them into a thin layer with the back of my spoon. The third layer is a frangipane, but on the firm side, not too custardy. And finally, of course, the fruit! I like the rich, tangy, sweet but not too sweet quality of this tart, and ate if for breakfast and before bed for days. We also ate it with whipped cream and vanilla ice cream, and I recommend these presentations as well.
Here’s The Ethiopians with Feel the Spirit. Love this one.
We went to look for eagle feathers though we knew we wouldn’t find any. As with most things in life, it was more about the journey–the walk on the towpath, over the old train bridge, down the hill through the tall ferns and prickly vines, up to the tower where the eagle had lived. Maybe we’d go farther past it, all the way to the river, maybe we’d see the eagles flying over the water, looking for fish. We didn’t see the eagles, we didn’t find any feathers, the prickly vines scratched our ankles, but it was a wonderful walk. The wild ferns and flowers and vines are taller than me down by the eagle’s tower, and it’s a strange bright green world with narrow paths, some that lead into the woods, some that lead to the river, and some that lead up the hill back to the path. Under the staring blue sky, with small white clouds and grasshoppers flicking across our path, this felt like summer. Is it the dog days? Because we’re living like dogs, sun dogs, dogs of summer, here at The Ordinary, with no plans. We snooze in the warm sun, and wake to eat or run to the river for a swim, or chase wildly through tangled ferny paths. Clio is the leader of our pack, she shows us how it’s done, and the boys are attentive pupils. We’re trying to slow down the days, with our lazy ways, but they’re flying by anyway. Evening falls earlier, and there’s almost a chill in the air in the mornings. So we’ll follow Clio into the sunshine, and soak it up, we’ll store it inside of us against the cold days ahead.
You know what I’ve been making a lot this summer? Flat wide cakes with fillings inside. Almost like a gateau basque. This one had blueberries and chocolate chips. (They almost always have chocolate) I’ve made some with ground almonds or almonds and pistachios, and I’ve filled them with jam or other kinds of fruit. Sometimes they’re soft, sometimes they’re crispy like big cookies. This one was quite soft inside, and a little crispy on top. It was very juicy, you can’t turn it out of the pan or anything, because it will fall apart. David said it’s like blueberry fudge. I’ll tell you about the other cakes another time.
Here’s Summertime by Sam Cooke.
“No weaknesses at all.”
“No, would you rather have one weakness nobody could detect or no weaknesses at all?”
“Well I just don’t see why anybody would want a weakness if they could choose to have no weaknesses.”
“If you have a weakness and you wish to get rid of it, then you’re not yourself any more! Your weakness is part of who you are!”
These are the wise words of our Isaac, eight years old. At the beginning of the year when getting-to-know-you exercises abound, Isaac brought home a self-portrait with bright blue eyes, and on the bottom he wrote that his blue eyes and his heart murmur make him special. He’s got a heart murmur he won’t grow out of, and when they first diagnosed it, he thought it might be a defect, but now he’s embraced it as something that makes him different, something to be proud of. After all, there’s nobody on earth with a heart like Isaac’s! I love to think about Isaac thinking about these things. I love to think about him thinking about what makes a person a person, and thinking with such grounded generosity about the weakness that everybody on earth must inevitably have. Of course a weakness is a vulnerability, which is why we keep our weaknesses as secret as we can, and we hope that no one will detect it. Unless we love somebody, and then we open our hearts to them, and trust them with the knowledge of all or our weaknesses and foibles; we share our good and our bad. This takes great courage, but it turns weakness into strength, and Isaac does this better than anyone. He shares his remarkable thoughts, his uncommon contemplations, and his unguarded love with a warmth and wisdom that make him as strong as anyone I know.I have a terrible weakness for ice cream! We’ve been snowed in so many days that I’ve been baking through bag after bag of flour. On one day I made croissants and biscotti, both from Craig Claiborne’s New York Times Cookbook. We changed the biscotti recipe slightly, because Malcolm wanted to add almonds and chocolate. So we added some almond extract, too, and a pinch of cinnamon. They turned out nice! In order to coat one side of them with chocolate I devised the ingenious method of placing chocolate chips along one side when they’re returned to the oven for the final ten minute drying-out period, and then spreading the chocolate once it softened. I think I might have baked them slightly too long, because they were extra crumbly when I tried to slice them, but we put those crumbs to good use! We took any of the half-pieces and mangled pieces and tiny pieces, and we ground them up even further in a food processor with some bittersweet chocolate chips, and we added them to raspberry ice cream. (Wintertime raspberry ice cream, with framboise and raspberry jam rather than fresh raspberries). This turned out deeeeeeelicious!
Here’s The Weakest Part by Yo La Tengo.
I like songs about home, about where people are from and when they’re from. Like Mos Def’s Habitat.
When I think of home, my remembrance of my beginning
Laundromat helping ma dukes fold the bed linen
Chillin in front my building with my brother and them
Spending nights in Bushwick with my cousins and them
Wise town and Beat Street, federal relief
Slowly melting in the morning grits we used to eat
Sticking to your teeth and teeth is hard to keep
With every flavor Now & Later only a dime apiece
Old timers on the bench playing cards and thangs
Telling tales about they used to be involved in things
Start to drinking, talking loud, cussing up and showing out
On the phone, call the cops, pick’em up, move’em out
And it’s all too common to start wildin
I’m a pirate on an island seeking treasure known as silence
And it’s hard to find
Or Dungeon Family’s White Gutz
Sitting on 400 wides that’s what they love
Incense swingin from the mirror that’s what they love
Six course licked with the glaze that’s what they love
drive with the dealership tag that’s what they love
hairbone strayed on my shoulder that’s what they love
the smell of new leather in the cold that’s what they love
strawhat V-neck t’s that what they love
moonroof open blowing smoke that’s what they love
Romeo cologne every week that’s what they love
that’s what they love
Or K’naan’s My Old Home
My old home smelled of good birth
Boiled red beans, kernel oil and hand me down poetry
It’s brick white-washed walls widowed by first paint
The tin roof top humming songs of promise while time is
Locked into demonic rhythm with the leaves
The trees had to win
Hugging them, loving them a torturous love
It was over and done
The round cemented pot kept the rain drops cool
Neighbors and dwellers spatter in the pool
Kids playin football with his hand and sock
We had what we got, and it wasn’t a lot
So the subject of today’s Sunday Interactive Playlist is Where I’m From. It’s a song about the place and time that made you. The song doesn’t have to be about where you’re from, or even where the singer is from, just a song about somebody’s home.Two recipes in a row with pecan praline in them? Yes, indeed. I had some leftover, and I thought it would be good with chocolate chips. So I actually made even more, because it’s so completely easy to make. And then I combined it with oats and put it in cookies. Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are our natural anti-depressant, here at The Ordinary, and it’s been a long, cold winter!
Here’s a link to your interactive playlist. Add what you like! Or make a suggestion in the comments and I’ll add it through the week.
The restaurant was glowing, the food was good, the boys were happy–we all were! And all night long I had the strangest dreams. I dreamt that David and I went to the bank, and there was such a long line that everybody waiting got a chair to sit in. David went to get some food, and then the bank teller called my number, 76, like I was in a deli line. I said, “Oh, but it’s not my turn next!” And everybody explained to me that I’d won a special opportunity to partake in “Community Supported Banking.” Everybody waiting with me, surrounding me in their chairs, would be given a special rate (for what? I don’t know!) as long as we all agreed to be responsible for each other’s financial situation from that moment forward. I woke up at that point and I thought about how I’d be anxious to be responsible for other people’s financial situation because they might be dishonest or irresponsible, and then I felt bad for having such a dim view of human nature. When I fell asleep again I dreamed that we were at the ocean and Malcolm jumped in the waves even though it was winter time and icy cold. We laughed and looked around for a towel, and then a wave the size of the ocean came down upon us, and I couldn’t find Isaac and Malcolm was far away and I could see David but I couldn’t reach him. And then David woke me up and told me I’d been crying. I’ll spare you the account of my other dreams of the night, but they were many, and they were strange. We’ve determined that we often have strange dreams when we eat Indian food, I wonder if it’s true, or if it’s just a self-fulfilling superstitious belief. Winsor McCay believed that Welsh Rarebit could give you strange dreams. In 1904 he began drawing a cartoon in which each day a person would eat Welsh Rarebit and then have bizarre, sometimes frightening dreams.
The stories became so popular that Edwin Porter made a beautiful film version in 1906.
I’ve been thinking about Winsor McCay a lot recently, because each morning when I finally shake off my dreams and clear my eyes, I see long icicles hanging from the wires outside our window, and I know that our world is covered in frost and snow and it has been for weeks and it probably will be for weeks. I wonder if instead of waking up, I’m still dreaming, and I’m in Slumberland with Little Nemo, exploring Jack Frost’s palace.
I was busy helping Malcolm plan a trip to Planet Mercury yesterday, and I never got around to posting a Sunday Interactive Playlist, so this week we’ll do a Monday Interactive Playlist, and the subject is sleep. Songs about sleeping, songs about not sleeping, songs that make you sleepy.This tart is deeeeeeelicious, if I do say so myself and I do. It’s got a rich dense bottom layer, a juicy middle layer of cherry jam and bittersweet chocolate chips, and a top layer of amaretti meringue. What’s amaretti meringue, you ask? Well, it’s a meringue, and I hoped it would turn out like amaretti cookies, and it did! I’m so pleased! I’m not usually very good at making meringue, but this one turned out crisp and light, just as I hoped it would. I think if the weather was more humid we might have some problems with mushiness, but at the moment everything is wintery dry, and finally we’ve found a reason to be glad of that!
Here’s your link to the collaborative playlist of SLEEPY SONGS. Perfect accompaniment to my hibernation!