Monthly Archives: December 2012

Mold Quandary or the Exploding (Gluten Free) Baked Potato

I walk into my house and I sniff – mold??  I may now be a spider slayer (see earlier entry), but I can be as neurotic (this is a New York City term) as Woodie Allen.

I go down into the basement. Sniff, sniff. Basement smell, but not the same smell.

The odd, apparently or hopefully, not mold smell comes and goes. Who knows.

Potato

Potato

(I’m going circular now….) Over the last 3 years and some months, since Black Friday, the Celiac, you must now go on a gluten-free diet from hell, friday, I have become a big fan of baked potatoes.  They are absolutely gluten free, plus they are wicked good for you, who knew.  Chock full of all sorts of amazing nutrients. 48% Vitamin C, 18% Iron, really. And let’s not forget both Potassium and Vitamin B6 at an amazing 46%, if you don’t believe me, read all about it here.

The amazing baked potato, good for breakfast, lunch and dinner in all sorts of concoctions, instead of awful gluten free bread, or full of gluten bread.

So for 3 years and how many months, every night, I bake at least 2 potatoes, and use them in all sorts of ways the next day.

(For you gluten-free folks out there in web-land, I am now visiting the Newburyport Blog for some reason, land – a potato baked at 350 degrees for an hour and a half (i.e. fairly slowly) and then cooled, can be used for all sorts of things, including potato salad, much better, and easier, than boiling.  An odd tip I’ve learned, who knew?)

Before baking a potato, it is necessary to pierce them or it with a fork or a sharp knife, lest they or it explode.  And over the 3 years plus how many months, I’ve watched the pierced potato parts leak and dribble onto my oven floor. Not being a super duper oven cleaner, I’ve never much cared.

But an “ah ha,” eureka moment.  The other day, an apparently un-pierced baking potato exploded, and that weird smell (see, I told you I’d get around to it), well, it was like that weird smell, the not the basement maybe, oh dear, mold smell, but  “the” odd smell, on steroids.

So, I am relieved.  Odd, but probably not terribly dangerous smell explained. A wet paper towel, or a lot of wet paper towels, scrubbed against the bottom of the oven, seems to alleviate the long sniff quandary. And I will now need to find something else innocuous, but perplexing enough to obsess about, to take the place of the great exploding baked potato whiff enigma.

Baby It’s Cold Outside and Cafe au Lait

Pretty fancy, huh, “Cafe au Lait?”  But really, cafe au lait.

Snowblower

Snowblower

So today we actually get snow. I feel we are blessed, because at least at my house, there is only the 3 of the 5 inches promised, and my wonderful neighbor appears in my driveway with their snowblower.  I have named this wonderful beast (the snowblower, not my neighbor), “Horatio Horn Blower.”  Neither my neighbors nor Horatio seem to mind the moniker.  I was told last night that Horatio, waiting patiently in the shed all summer, was in very good spirits, and in working order. This made me happy.

However, even with Horatio’s heroic undertakings “vis-a-vis” (getting very “european” today) my driveway, there is still shoveling to be done.  And I am glad that it is only 3 inches, because I am not in winter shoveling shape.

I come in out of not being in snow shoveling shape, after an hour or so of cleaning up my dwelling, from snow and ice, with my trusty, at least, 10 year old, ground down, well loved, in need of a replacement, snow shovel.

And I’m starving and want something warm and yummy to drink, but have no hot cocoa in the house, and do not want to go out in search of any.

One cup coffee maker

One cup coffee maker

And my mind wanders back to my mother, and a trip she and my father took me on to France at the impressionable age of somewhere around 14.  I vaguely remember drinking something warm and yummy and very grownup, at the time, called “Cafe au Lait.”

And I bless the World Wide Web and its recipe making capabilities.

I get out my way older than my ancient shovel, one person Melitta one cup coffee brewer, make a strong half cup of coffee with cinnamon and nutmeg added to the grounds (feeling very creative here), fill the rest with milk and a little vanilla extract, and nuke the whole thing in the microwave.

coffee or in this case "Cafe au Lait"

coffee or in this case "Cafe au Lait"

My mother and father’s sprits seem to fill the room, as if I am suddenly 14 and in France with them again, and it is a good feeling, plus my spur of the moment cafe au lait tastes awesome.

And then on the World Wide Web, I find a year’s wrap-up by one of my favorite writers, Dave Barry.  It is good to laugh and to have things put into perspective, drink cafe au lait with such fond memories of my Mom and Dad.  And Dave Barry’s awesome year end “wrap-up” can be found here.  (I’m thinking that “WHAP” may make its way to the Newburyport Blog – you gotta read Dave Barry.)

Plagiarism – Photoshop Take Off

Photoshop Flight

Photoshop Flight

I never, ever would have considered using other people’s images that are in the public domain in my art work, it would be plagiarism for me.  Plagiarism – I would have felt it to be “immoral,” “originality” the only acceptable device. But blogging, doing content for people’s websites, the World Wide Web has radically and slowly changed my whole idea of how to use images. Before starting the Newburyport Blog I never knew about stuff/images that are in the “public domain.”  I now bless the public domain, it makes what I do here and what other people do all across the web a whole lot more interesting. So why not use images that are in the public domain in my own art work? These are images I could never take, either because they are in a geographical location that I would never get to, or with equipment I would never buy.

Photoshop Bird 3 (thanks Bobby)

Photoshop Bird 3 (thanks Bobby)

And photoshop (see earlier entry on fine art, painting in particular, going the way of the buggy whip and typewriter), what one can do in photoshop in a few minutes would take me years to do as a painter. It’s irresistible. So I’ve started experimenting. And how fun!! Like being in a candy store for this artist.  A photoshop take off, a lovely New Year’s present for moi.

Newburyport Carpetbaggers, the 95%

Carpetbagger

Carpetbagger

One Newburyport City Councilor (Dick Sullivan) got up in the Newburyport City Council chambers and lamented that all these “newcomers” were coming in and telling the folks who were born and raised here what to do.

Another Newburyport City Councilor (Tom Jones) got up (Thursday night) and said how Newburyport was a working class town, and seemed to intimate that it was still a working class town.  No it’s not. In the year 2012, Newburyport is an upper-middle class city, quickly approaching a upper class enclave – especially when Mr. Karp starts building.

Honey, it ain’t your father’s Newburyport anymore.

If you haven’t noticed the carpetbagger thing has really, really gotten out of hand lately.  You don’t just have the carpetbaggers who came in the first wave, in the mid to late 1970′s and very early 1980′s,  right after Urban Renewal renewed.  There was a wave in the late 1990′s after the MBTA came back to town. Remember that, a big housing spike when a lot of the old timers cashed in.  I remember folks saying  that it was a joke that anyone would want to live in Newburyport’s South End. There was a lot of bitterness about how high the taxes had gotten because of the housing boom, but that money bought more house not so far away, in a place where there weren’t so many doctors, lawyers and financial folks. Where the working class folks felt more comfortable.

And then the super duper influx around 2005, when Mr. Karp bought so much land and real-estate downtown.  Yup, and people have just kept coming, with more and more money, lots more money.  And the old-timers, the natives, they pay attention and they vote, but their numbers just ain’t what they used to be.  It’s not your father’s Newburyport by any stretch of the imagination, no how, no way, any more.

Contemporary Art, Gone the Way of the Buggy Whip and the Typewriter?

I wonder to myself if contemporary art, like the stuff being painted today, like today’s fine art, has it, or is it going the way of the buggy whip and the typewriter? This is from a contemporary painter (and a good one!!) no less.

In the movie “Other People’s Money,” Danny DeVito’s character, Larry the Liquidator, a successful corporate raider, sort of, very sort of, like Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital, compares the company in question to the last buggy whip maker, technology having made buggy whips obsolete. No point in having a buggy whip factory around anymore.

Lots of things have become obsolete. Camera and film stores, Ritz Camera and Infocus in Newburyport, sayonara.

CD stores… adios.  Newspapers, alas, are going goodbye.  Patch-AOL here we come. HuffPost the updated, un-obsolete medium. Books, adios. Kindle, the Nook, IPad, cha-cha-cha.

The United States Post Office, oh dear.

The typewriter – gone with the wind.

Twitter and texting, yup. Complete sentences, TMI.

Starfish, digital photo by 4eyesphoto (used with permission)

"Starfish," digital photo by 4eyesphoto (used with permission)

None of this is bad, it just is. Most of it is really fascinating. But what about the quaint idea of painting.  Photoshop, my love hate relationship with Photoshop, in my mind, has changed painting forever.  And for goodness sakes, any photo can now be put on canvas in an hour by places like CVS.

The thing that make my heart go pity-pat when I walk into a gallery, is really great digital photography. It reminds me of that now quaint painting style, Photorealism, one of the last contemporary art movements, that used to make my brain twirl. And there is some amazing digital photography being made.  The photo by 4eyephoto.com that gave permission to use their incredible photograph “Starfish,” to my son’s theatre company for their poster, a gorgeous example.

The quaint art of painting going the way of the buggy whip – reality??

14 Russia Street, Newburyport, Adios??

Thanks to the P.Preservationist for the heads-up, as well as Newburyport City Councilor Ed Cameron for the photo (I “borrowed”) and the link to the ZBA meeting.

14 Russia Street, Newburyport, headed for the chopping block by one of our own local developers.

This is why we need a demo delay with teeth, NOT a one year demo delay, good grief!!  Katy Ives is only proposing 2 years. We need more than 2 years (and 2 years is not “a taking,” for goodness sakes!!)

The Newburyport City Council is going to “chat” about Councilor Ives “compromise,” I can see some minor tweaking, but major watering down of even that in a search for some votes.  Hello.

We have a gorgeous, charming place here. The Newburyport City Council has a tremendous and noble opportunity.  Councilor Ives “no demo overlay” for Newburyport’s Historic District – it’s a good idea!!

Councilor Cameron is right, “Newburyport – Death by a thousand paper cuts!!”  Not going to be such a fun place to work, live and play, or eventually make any money off your house when you go to sell it, if the Newburyport City Council doesn’t step up to the plate and do something significant! with a few teeth and a little chutzpah already!! Enough with the caving in to the extreme property rights, minority “wing” of the Newburyport population!!  Man-up!!

14 Russia Street, headed for the chopping block

14 Russia Street, headed for the chopping block

Chocolate Chip Almond Meal-Flour Cookies (They are Gluten Free)

Because so many folks come to The Newburyport Blog looking for gluten free stuff.

Chocolate Chip Almond Meal-Flour Cookies

1 ¼ cups blanched almond flour (Bob’s Red Mill)
Dash of cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ cup oil, canola or grapeseed oil (each has slightly different effect, I use canola oil)
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 ½ teaspoons gluten free vanilla extract
¼  cup Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Mini Morsels (the real tiny ones)

1. Combine almond meal, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl.
2. Stir together sugar and water, add vanilla and then the oil and combine.
3. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
4. Add the Nestle Toll House Semi-Sweet Mini Morsels.
5. Form ½ inch balls and press onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
6. Bake at 350° for 5-6 minutes.
7. Cool and serve (you can also freeze the cookies in a container, separating the layers of cookies with wax paper).
8. Makes around 27 cookies.

* If you use the larger Toll House Semi-Sweet Morsels, you can mix in the ¼ cup chocolate chips with the cookie dough, or you can press the cookies flat on the cookie sheet first, and then add the chocolate chips on top, about 3-4 chips per cookie, and press them into the cookies. (They are great too!!)

(Adapted from Elana’s Pantry, elanaspantry.com, Elana Amsterdam, website and cookbook)

For more variations on almond meal-flour cookies please press here.

almondmeal-chocolatechip-cookies

Almond meal-flour chocolate chip cookies with mini chocolate chips

Almond meal-flour chocolate chip cookies with larger chocolate chips

Almond meal-flour chocolate chip cookies with larger chocolate chips

The Tale of a Spider Slayer

Wiffle Bat

Wiffle Bat

I started killing-slaying spiders when I became a single mother. (I’m not entirely sure why single mothers still get a bad rap. Any single mother or father will tell you it’s probably the hardest thing that they’ve ever done. In the second debate Mr. Romney made a not such nice comment about single mothers, and from the conversations that I’ve had, it didn’t go over so well with single mothers or single fathers, and there are a lot of them out there, voters and everything. I once naively thought that since the President of the United States was raised by a single mom, that single mothers might not get such a kick in the head. How “Pollyanna” of me.)

I found out there was only so much screaming and wailing one can do when confronted by a spider, before it becomes evident that that’s not going to do much good. And there are few folks who will drop everything at that “spider moment,” and run over and kill that spider (unlike the famous scene in Annie Hall, this could date me big time, or not?? where Woodie Allen rushes over to help Annie Hall slay the spider that’s the “size of a Buick.” I found the scene, or part of the scene on YouTube here.)

dragon1

Dragon

So bravery and ingenuity become a necessity. I ended up killing spiders on a regular basis with my very young son’s Wiffle Bat. Plastic, light, a flat end, and good for killing, squishing, slaying spiders on the ceiling. My son actually remembers this, although I don’t think it’s one of his favorite childhood memories.

Now when I see spiders in my dwelling, and I do so on a regular basis, I have a conversation. It goes something like this:

“How in the world did you get here, there??” I never understand how they suddenly seem to appear out of nowhere.

“You know what the house policy is don’t you?” I say. “If you don’t mosey on real fast and disappear from where ever you came from, you are a goner.”

Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc

And since they never disappear quickly, and I’ve long since given up even the “silent spider scream,” it’s simply getting a step ladder or climbing up on a piece of furniture, and taking the spider in a small kleenex and down the toilet it goes. Whoosh.

I’ve become very proficient, so far, at spider slaying. I didn’t include a picture of a spider, because I don’t like pictures of spiders, so I included a picture of a dragon, which is in my mind the emotional equivalent of a spider. And since I couldn’t find any art work that was about women slaying dragons (no such thing, alas), I did find a painting of Joan of Arc, by Dante Charles Gabriel Rossetti, and I can imagine her with a Wiffle Bat, instead of a sword, getting read to be a “Spider Slayer.”

What Newburyport Used to Look Like, “A Measure of Change”

Link to "A Measure of Change"

Link to “A Measure of Change” 

This video is worth posting again, and if you haven’t seen it take a look, or if you have seen it, it’s pretty amazing and might be worth a gander again.

It’s about what Newburyport used to look like not so long ago in the late 1960′s and early 1970′s. It’s not the gorgeous downtown we all know and love now.  And downtown Newburyport no longer has any protection (it ended in 2005).  The Newburyport City Council has a fantastic opportunity now to put protection of downtown Newburyport back in place.  It would be a noble and intelligent thing to do.

The film “A Measure of Change” was made in 1975 by Lawrence Rosenblum on what the city looked like before Urban Renewal.  A link to the video which is now online can be found here.