Louisa Enright's Blog

Mainely Tipping Points

RBG: A Life Lived Fully

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Turkey Tracks: September 28, 2020

RBG: A Life Lived Fully

I grew up and married in the days before Ruth Bader Ginsberg began to change the American culture with regard to discrimination of all kinds. I could give you lots of examples of where I was not only “lesser than” the men who formed relationships in my life, but under their thumbs, which meant I was considerably less free than these men were.

Now I’m 75, and I am having a really hard time believing that we have returned to a time where much of what was changed can be made to revert. And, that a solitary white woman who thinks she has the right “truth” might be the fulcrum that makes this reversion possible.

We are all now faced with the power of a minority of white male politicians to change our lives in ways many of us cannot imagine. In the end, I do not think they will be successful, but the burning question is how far away “the end” lies.

Here’s a screenshot of a poem that might have been read at RBG’s funeral service and that holds something different: the power of love to change a culture in ways that are healthy for all human beings.

RBG will be powerfully missed and is powerfully loved by so many people in this country—precisely because she understood the power of love.

Written by louisaenright

September 28, 2020 at 12:54 pm

Fun and Busy Fall Days

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Turkey Tracks: September 28, 2020

Fun and Busy Fall Days

We finally got some rain today—not much so far, but it is RAIN.

The fall days for some weeks now have been clear, mostly warm, beautiful, and very dry. The winter squash and root vegetables are being harvested and are filling up our local produce stores. These two striped Delicata squashes, garlic bulbs, and shallots came from Hope’s Edge, my CSA farm; the Hubbard came from friend Margaret-Elaine Jinno’s garden, which she started this year.

I plan to post a golden beet/carrot/ginger soup recipe in the next day or so.

I’ve never seen fresh Holy Basil (Tulsi) before last week’s pick-up at Hope’s Edge. This herb is a power house for the immune system apparently. I’ve dried mine and will use it in winter teas. The smell is way too strong and medicinal for me to use it in food.

I love coffee, especially in the fall and winter, though the days of sharing it with friends has been seriously curtailed.

These are favorites I keep on hand most of the time.

Green Tree’s Dark Harbor is richly dark and complex. The Origin Select bag holds Green Tree’s espresso mix, which they grind for me to use in my mokka espresso coffee pot. I love to get a latte when passing Green Tree (Lincolnville Beach, Maine) as I love this “Roma” espresso mixture so much.

The “Wicked Joe” mixtures, available at our local Hannaford’s grocery store, are roasted in Maine and each is deliciously different. The Italian (blue bag) is very dark and tastes like a good espresso; the Breakfast Blend (gold bag) is milder and tastes like chocolate with a touch of “sunshine”; and the French (red bag) is deeply smoky and dark.

This fall has been a BIG year for mice coming in to the garage. I’ve trapped 19 out there now. And the other night when I lit the grill, a mouse ran across the grate. I shut off the flames immediately, removed the grates, and saw at least 6 panicked mice—though I’d used the grill only a few days earlier. AC dog went nuts as he tried to catch them as they bailed out of the danger zone. The mice are way too quick for AC to catch in this situation. Fortunately, the nest they were setting was rudimentary and easily cleaned out. Gloves were involved, and I will spare you pics of mouse traps and so forth.

I’m pretty much ready for winter now. Everything has been put away; the snow boardwalk is down over the gravel path to the house; flower beds have been put to order; and the days are growing darker now as the trees are putting on their fall outfits.

Written by louisaenright

September 28, 2020 at 12:33 pm

The Penultimate Sugaridoo QAL Row

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Turkey Tracks: September 27, 2020

The Penultimate Sugaridoo QAL Row

One more row to go! And that row will combine with a row already finished and not yet attached. These two rows will come at the green end of the quilt and are in the aqua blue family.

This penultimate row is the funky log cabin pink row, the second from the pink top. On the solid version, I followed Sugaridoo’s method—which I found to be more difficult than was needed. So, on the Cotton+Steel/Ruby Star version, I tried another method, and I liked it far better. See below.

Sugaridoo’s method makes a long strip where the strands are placed and sewn on a 45-degree angle and from which the 6-inch square of strips is cut. But it is very hard to keep the 45-degree angle consistent—so the strip can get wonky really fast. Plus, it requires a lot of sewing to even get to the point where you can cut the first block. I was sure I was going to run out of the pink fabric that came in the kit before I got all 8 blocks done. And it was darn close, I can tell you.

So for the second version, I cut out 6-inch blocks from very thin paper (old phone book pages or newsprint), drew a random 45-degree angle and sewed down strips that way. This method means you can use all the short pieces that form as you sew toward each corner. The 45-degree angles are easy to maintain, and the block is easy to trim up when you’ve covered the paper.

I do like this block a lot and think I’ll end up using it again down my quilty road.

Written by louisaenright

September 27, 2020 at 10:16 am

The Pee Gee Hydrangea Flowers

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Turkey Tracks: September 24, 2020

The Pee Gee Hydrangea Flowers

It’s a little nuts this year.

I planted a Pee Gee Hydrangea (which grows into a tree size over time) some years back. Each year I prune it and bring the flowers inside—otherwise it gets too bushy and starts taking over the view out of the guest bedroom window and overhanging the back deck.

This year it THRIVED—and is getting much bigger. Cutting the river birches has given it more sun. When I prune, there are lots of blossoms, which I bring inside. They dry, keep their color, and last all winter.

The house is FULL of the blossoms this year. (These blossoms start out white and as the fall advances, turn this deep salmon color.)

Yep. It’s a bit nuts. But, warm and cheerful too.

Written by louisaenright

September 24, 2020 at 8:54 am

Elvira Quilt Done

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Turkey Tracks: September 23, 2020

Elvira Quilt Done

This quilt is a very different kind of quilt for me. But I have enjoyed the challenge of using these BIG blocks.

Gudrun Erla made this pattern available last winter for free some time as a way to join people together during the virus lockdowns. I liked the movement of the slashes that run through each block. I stood back and watched Bonnie Hunter take off with this project, then I dove into it.

I had fun just pulling these vivid pieces of fabric out of my stash and just letting everything roll along from row to row. Obviously, this quilt is a huge stash buster.

I pieced the backing, but it is mostly this purple fabric below. The rest of the backing is a coordinating magenta that you can see in the above picture in the second from the last row to the right. The big sun quilting doodling I did came from the backing fabric.

I really enjoyed this quilting. It was relaxing and fun—which is not usually the case for me as longarm quilting is my least favorite part of the quilting process.

I think this block would lend itself to coordinating fabrics—and I am especially thinking of baby quilt fabrics that I have in my stash. So don’t be surprised to see this block show up on this blog again.

There is a fat quarter version, and here is Gudrun’s web site and links to this pattern. She has a special ruler as well as instructions for not using the ruler—which I did.

Written by louisaenright

September 23, 2020 at 10:07 am

A Beautiful Fall Day and Lettuce Seed Mystery Solved

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Turkey Tracks: September 22, 2020

A Beautiful Fall Day and Lettuce Seed Mystery Solved

I was outside all yesterday morning working in the yard. It was one of those beautiful fall days with a clear, brilliant blue sky and some warm sun. Outside tasks went along fast in such a pretty day.

Friends came to help me with the heavy lifting, among other falls tasks, so now the wooden snow boardwalk is down, the porch furniture stored, and everything done now except for a few stray bits after we get some hard frosts.

I dug up ALL the Lady’s Mantle in the beds—it is so invasive—and let me tell you, that was a hard job. LM forms a thick mat of roots under the soil that is something like a doormat.

AC was ecstatic to have people outside with us. He was very, very busy overseeing everything. Here he is after his lunch when all the work was done.

I ordered lettuce seeds from Fedco Seeds that I had planned to sow in the cold frame after some heavy frosts. It will start sprouting in the early spring under the cold frame cover, and I will have beautiful lettuce to eat and share as spring progresses.

I thought I had put the lettuce seed packets in the garage—and seriously wondered (in these solitary virus days) if I was going around the bend a bit since I could not find those packets anywhere.

Yesterday I found the packets way back along the counter in the garage—nowhere near where I had put them. They had been chewed into bits and the seeds eaten. Mice. Hopefully its mice since a red squirrel or a chipmunk would be an entirely different kind of disaster.

Mice traps will go up in the garage soon now. Here is why it is not a great idea to leave the garage door open, but…

I reordered the lettuce seeds this morning. And I’m so happy I’m totally sane.

This morning is cloudy and windy with Hurricane Teddy out in the Gulf of Maine. I took this picture anyway, though the red is so much more brilliant with the sun on it.

Yes, fall has arrived.

Written by louisaenright

September 22, 2020 at 1:33 pm

Toaster Warning

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Turkey Tracks: September 21, 2020

Toaster Warning

I can’t eat bread. I think it is the yeast more than the gluten. But who knows? So I’ve been toasting a small corn tortilla and using that like bread or a cracker. I can spread butter or a soft goat cheese on the tortilla or melt some mozzarella cheese on it in the big oven.  (I’m so happy I’ve gotten these two cheeses back recently. And eggs. I think it is the quercetin I’m taking.)

BUT, the other night I almost set the kitchen on fire with a toaster that either malfunctioned or let a corn tortilla catch fire.  

In a split second, the flames were nearly a foot high—I kid you not.  And the toaster was located beneath a kitchen cabinet. I had to unplug the toaster and put it in the sink—flames and all—and douse it REPEATEDLY with water from the sink faucet.  So scary!

To make sure there would be no more drama, I put the toaster outside on the grass when the fire stopped.

No more toasters—and I am so lucky I was just standing in the kitchen when this fire started.  I live out in the country, and there are NO fire hydrants or water beyond whatever a pumper fire truck brings.  My house would have had a serious fire or burned down if I had not been standing right there in the kitchen.

I ordered a toaster oven,  which will come soon.  I think a toaster oven will be a safer choice. And, yes, I have a rule that I never leave the kitchen or that floor of my house when a pot is on the stove.  When I turn off flames under a pot, I move the pot off the burner to make sure the gas is off.  And now I will never again have a toaster in my house again.

And I would suggest that none of you put something in a toaster or a toaster oven and leave the room.  

I have noticed—and written about it here—that today’s toasters and way too many appliances are total junk. I have not been able to find a toaster in our markets that is like the old toasters we used to be able to get. I am old enough now at 75 to make this comparison. I have tried expensive, and I have tried cheap. None of them work well or last. So I truly think this toaster went whacky in some fundamental way. The handle where one pushes to start the heat was “funky” when I started the tortilla.

Believe me, I am saying prayers of blessings and thafter this incident.

Written by louisaenright

September 21, 2020 at 1:22 pm

It’s A Chicken Soup Day

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Turkey Tracks: September 20, 2020

It’s A Chicken Soup Day

Our temps are dropping pretty low at night now and for the next few days will not reach 70 during the day. It’s Chicken Soup time!

I start by dragging out my big Creuset cast iron/enamel pot, melting in some duck fat, and sautéing whatever savory veggies I have on hand. This time I have leeks, just harvested onion, carrots, celery, a celeriac bulb, and a zucchini. And, herbs and salt, always herbs and salt. (I have chopped cabbage too, but am withholding it for the moment.) See that brown on the bottom of one side of this pot—that’s what I’m aiming for—brown but not burned. It’s that brown stuff that gives the soup a deep flavor.

Meanwhile, I roughly chopped a whole package of boneless, skinless chicken thighs that I bought on sale. There are at least 12 in the package. I love the thighs for soup as they have so much flavor.

When the veggies are getting too hot, I stir in the meat, which cools everything down.

I like short-grain rice for a soup. It stands up better than a long-grain type so it does not disintegrate into the soup.

I mix it in when the meat is mostly done and let it cook a bit with the mixture. AND NOTE: if you have a Creuset pot, do not use metal utensils with it—except to dip out the soup with a metal dipper. Metal tools can weaken the enamel and cause it to crack and chip over time. I have two of these pots—this is the bigger, newer one. My 5-quart smaller, older one is over 40 years old and is going strong.

I add my chopped fresh cabbage at this stage—I don’t like for cabbage to over cook as that is what gives a soup the too-cabbagy taste.

When the cabbage is mixed in, I add water and taste for salt. I add water until the pot is about an inch or so from the top.

While the soup heats, I chop some fresh Italian parsley I had on hand—it will top the soup when it is done.

After I bring the soup to a good simmer, I cover it and turn the heat down very very low and cook it until the rice is done—usually about 35 to 40 minutes. This pot is very heavy and does not have to be watched every 5 minutes or so. You will need to check and recheck with a thinner pot. Don’t let it all boil—that makes all the veggies way, way too soft.

I made this soup in the morning, so I pulled off what I wanted to reheat for lunch and put it in a separate smaller pot. I left the soup on the stove, uncovered, until it cooled thoroughly, which can take a hour or more. Then I filled one of my silicone bags (I LOVE THESE) for the freezer—they are absolutely no-leak when sealed. Then I put the rest of the soup in a bowl and cleaned my pot. I can dip out of this bowl and reheat what I want to eat. I do not reheat the whole bowl as it makes the soup ingredients too soft.

If I find I’m not eating the whole thing in two days and I’m tired of it, I just freeze the rest for another day. I would not keep the soup without reheating the whole thing after 2 days.

On other meals, to change things up, one can top the soup with yogurt or heavy cream or thin it with some milk for a cream soup. One can add other ingredients as well: cooked beans, greens, corn, tomatoes, cheeses that melt on top, etc. I added corn kernels after the first day.

I am eating mine with a side of goat cheese smeared on good quality corn tortilla chips. If it’s corn, I’m all in. I can also heat a corn tortilla in the oven and put mozzarella on top to melt.

Is it time for YOU to make a hearty fall soup?

Written by louisaenright

September 20, 2020 at 10:05 am

A Yummy Lunch and Progress on the Design Wall

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Turkey Tracks: September 19, 2020

A Yummy Lunch and Progress on the Design Wall

I’ve had a gastro thing from the histamine issue I have so I have been eating cooked food—rather than my beloved big salad—for lunch. And fruit is a no-no right now as well. (But all is so much better now as I write—stress causes this gastro reaction, as well as various triggers—and we are living in truly stressful times these days.)

***Stress made more so by the very sad death of RBG yesterday. I’m taking a deep breath and thinking of her as I write here.

The other day I had these fresh veggies on hand, so I popped them into a pan with heated duck fat and some dried herbs. And, salt. Good sea salt. Aren’t they pretty? A feast for the eyes already.

I had some cooked chicken drumsticks that reheated in the oven while I sautéed the veggies and cooked this fragrant basmanti rice.

Yes, I know it is very processed rice, but it cooks in 10 minutes, smells heavenly, tastes wonderfully, and I thought it might add some needed bulk to my system. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it. I will confess I just bought this new package of it. Oh my…

Voila! A tasty and hearty lunch.

Lunch is my first meal of the day, so cooked or salad, it is a hearty meal for me. The fat in this meal holds me until dinner time, so there is no snacking through the day. Except for a coffee some time in the afternoon. When I really want a treat, AC and I go downtown to Zoot coffee where I get a not-too-sweet maple syrup latte with whip cream to go. AC loves the whip cream. Me, too. Napkins are involved in that endeavor.

And here’s the design wall. I’m looking forward to sewing these blocks into a top. It’s been a really fun project—a leader/ender that took over the design wall, so became a primary project. (Yesterday I started sewing the rows together—and—YEAH—they are matching up beautifully.)

I wanted to sprinkle in low-volume pieces through the top. I wanted to make blocks that “popped” with their combinations. And I wanted to use up 3 1/2 inch strips from my storage bins as well as making some sort of dent in my stash, especially by using up small pieces living there.

And look at this EPP project that now has two rows finished—out of six.

This project is the 36-Ring Circus EPP project—that is a riff on a classic wedding ring quilt.

This one has been VERY slow going for me as it is HARD. But, wow. Suddenly it is seeming like maybe it is worth doing. The centers are, so far, all Cotton+Steel/Ruby Star Society. The rings are pastels. And the rest are darker solids. There will be 6 rows finished.

So…

I will keep going this winter.

Right now I’m sewing down binding on a finished quilt that just came off the longarm—where I had a lot of fun doodling designs. And today I will put “On Point” from The Color Collective (Denyse Schmidt) on the longarm—God Willing and the Creek Don’t Rise, as my dad used to say.

Written by louisaenright

September 19, 2020 at 9:22 am

“Little Circles” Quilt is Done

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Turkey Tracks: September 18, 2020

“Little Circles” Quilt is Done

The back story on this quilt is that when I did the very first Color Collective project, big circles were involved. When I cut the centers out on the back side, I had all these little circles. (There was also a trial small project from my own solid fabric first—and some of those circles are in this quilt.)

I couldn’t throw these little circles away. They sat in my “to do” pile for almost two years. This past summer I made templates for them that allowed me to make the circles uniform (that was Tara Faughnan’s method), and mounted them on the grey fabric, and the rest is history.

And I love this little quilt.

I quilted it on my domestic, and that was fun too. I love how the back came out.

Here’s the original quilt with the big circles—and I combined projects and 1 and 2 from The Color Collective in this quilt.

And here’s my little sample quilt before I cut into Tara Faughnan’s color palette for this project:

Can I just say that I made myself throw out the grey circles that arrived when I cut out the backs of the little circles I had mounted!!!

I was tempted though…

Written by louisaenright

September 18, 2020 at 9:23 am