Saturday, October 9, 2010


Yesterday was kinda what I think of as a “getting things done” day. I moved things out from walls and vacuumed the downstairs, first going out to the garden for a great handful of the still-vibrant lavender, and throwing the crushed leaves onto the carpet. Vacuuming them up into the new-changed bag gave a lovely scent to the whole process, much more than the little vanilla granules-in-a-can which have been my choice for so long.

I went out back and trimmed the waning grapevine which shades the kitchen window, getting all the Summer’s debris and wisps and cobwebs cleared away, then washed the window on both sides, hanging up the fresh, gauzy curtain which makes such delightful hazy shadows over the sink. It's all green shapes and sunglints this morning.

With the floor all spiffed up, and five loads of laundry in various stages of process (not just clothes, but just-got-out tablecloths and the kitchen curtains and a chair skirt or two, as well as the linens from our bed---all got run through, coming out smelling fresh and wonderful and all ready for the FALL changes).

But first, I washed two bags of collards and put them on in a big pot with some soy sauce, sesame oil, a good bit of sugar, and a LOT of garlic
Always, when I've done the whole collards, I slit the hard spine out of the middle of every leaf, but with these cut bought ones, the tiny inch-long little bits cook tender and lovely, an enjoyable little punctuation to the glossy softness of the green. They sent up their appetizing aromas for the two hours that they simmered away in the kitchen. There’s just something about having a good dish going in a big pot, or in the oven or crockpot, which makes the whole afternoon seem in gear, somehow, as if all things will fall into place, and the atmosphere’s nice, besides.

A nice slice of Pork Steak was brining in a salt-sugar icewater cure to fry (it’s kinda like the cut that would be round steak, I think, if it were beef---it’s a long round piece with a small blade-bone, and also makes lovely sandwiches when cooked long and slow in a braise with onions and peppers and seasonings).

And five small red potatoes were scrubbed and ready for the microwave, to be cooked in the hour before supper, to be cut and anointed with some of the special sauce while still warm, and then dressed with the usual boiled-egg/minced onion/green pepper/pickle/mayo/lotsa mustard dressing. To Chris, "fresh" potato salad is still a little bit warm:

I made the cornbread with a little Jiffy mix---a set of six I grabbed at Sam’s not long ago, just for a quick hot bread to give a little uplift to a really plain supper now and then. I added about a quarter-cup each of SR flour and SR meal (both Martha White) and made it up with buttermilk. It cooked hot and quick, and was golden and springy on top, though when turned out, it didn’t have quite the usual dark bottom crust. And of course, a bit of it stuck to the pan---I don’t know what’s got into my cookware lately. Yeah, that’s it---it’s not me---it’s that renegade pan or two, fomenting rebellion in the dark of the cupboards.

It was nice to just get so much done, no sounds in the quiet house save my little work noises, and the gentle tones of a nice voice reading “Little Women” on the Bose. Little Beth had just delivered the “worked” slippers to old Mr. Lawrence when Chris got home, and we just spent the next hour talking before supper.

A quick fry of the cut pork steak:

His plate, with a little side dish of the “forgotten” jalapeno that I chopped and forgot to put in half the cornbread batter:

Mine---both our plates old plastic trays, for an impromptu patio supper---I have the last of the lunch tuna salad instead of the pork:

And an after-supper stroll round to the park, for a few pictures of the few turned-trees in the sunset:

Hope your day was productive and happy, or whatever you wanted it to be.
Moire non,


LV said...

I could sure use you or some of your energy. I need to do these things so bad. I would love having some of that good cooking too.

Kouign Aman said...

Thanks for the perspective.
Its 11:30, I've read 3 chapters of the lion the witch and the wardrobe to the munchkin, fed and played with the neighbor's dog, bathed our dog, cleaned up the breakfast dishes, pruned some dead stuff off the potted plants, evaluated the trees in the yard for their teacupable potential, and am awaiting arrival of friend-of-munchkin just in time for lunch, but because I cannot bring myself to work on PTA stuff, I was feeling as if it were a wasted day. I feel much better now. Thank you, Rachel!

racheld said...

OH, LV, Dear! How lovely to hear from you---your skies are some of my favorite things!

And KA:
Three chapters of C.S.Lewis---just THAT does not a wasted day make!! That is a wonderful accomplishment for any time frame, and would be enough all on its own.

And dog feeding and playing and washing, as well as pruning and eyeing teacup trees---well, those complete any day with a flourish, and it's not even NOON!

Days spent with munchkins are NEVER wasted, no matter the activity or lack of.

Hope tomorrow's equally fulfilling.

Kim Shook said...

I'm with Rachel, KA - a day spent with Mr. Lewis is NEVER miss-spent! I'm sitting here Sunday night reading this - worked all weekend and STILL haven't accomplished a SMIDGE near what you did in one day, dear! I am SURROUNDED with Halloween decorations. They are all OUT and that's ALL. Maybe tomorrow night.

My dinner tonight was good - an easy version of chicken parm on angel hair and roasted broccoli, but now I want some collards!

Alice said...

What a busy day of pure contentment. I've had dinner but I'm hungry all over again reading about your supper, even though I don't know what half of the things are. I'll have to look up 'collards'. From the photo they look like what we would call Silver Beet, but I could be wrong. I must do some research.

L Vanel said...

If you only get one window washed, the day is a success in my book! The trees look lovely. I now have 15 minutes to get the beef ragout going before leaving to pick up the baby!

racheld said...

How nice to hear from everyone!! Wish you'd been here for the collards, Kim---they were really good---so good, in fact, that Chris went right back out and bought THREE bags instead of the usual two. They make wonderful leftovers.

Alice---the collards ARE a bit like enormous beet greens; they're cultivated JUST for the leaves, which are very large and tender, with a deep gentle bitterness and just a tiny root, unlike turnips and beets. I'm writing a piece on collards for a day this week.

It's always lovely to hear from you Lucy!! Your list of five was so inspiring, I'm thinking of some of my own. And the ragout---I can almost smell the savory scents of your warm kitchen from here. There's a big red LeCreuset of plain old corned beef going in the upstairs kitchen right now, to be gussied up with little potatoes, carrots and quartered cabbages in the broth at suppertime.

It's so wonderful to be able to simmer something good all afternoon---Summer days just don't give the it the proper air.

Pear tree cottage! said...

O! doesn't that sound and look like a great dinner.........just last night we were watching a show about barbeque eat outs in america and they all cooked collards, we have no idea what they are but I just loved the look of them, and here we are seeing them on your post today and learning a bit more about them from you......great!


Tonja said...

As usual, I'm the last to get in here to comment! My Mom loved warm potatoe salad. And, if I ever want to do it that way, nobody likes it, but me! But, I always manage to eat a little bowl before I put it in the fridge.
And, I use the Jiffy alot. Sometimes I add a can of drained whole kernel corn to the batter!
Sounds like a most productive day!

Jeanne said...

Hi Rachel, I so enjoyed reading about a day in the life of Rachel. It is a lot like a day in the life of Jeanne if I stay home long enough to have a day to myself. Smile. I have never made collards though. I do love mixed greens that I buy at the store in a can. Don't laugh, I really do not know how to cook them. I add some vinegar and we like them very much. Yours look so delicious. A wonderful meal that I know your hubby loved.

We arrived home from FL late last night. Today has been a good lazy day. I did make venison meatloaf and some baked squash. It is still in the oven. Venison makes delicious meatloaf. The house is smelling so good right now. That is what I love about cooking.

The fall photo of the tree is so pretty. Not much color here yet. Soon I hope.

Have a wonderful evening.
Hugs, Jeanne

Kat said...

Oh my, I'm just sitting here with my first cup of coffee and haven't even had breakfast yet and I'm drooling thinking about your meal!!! It makes me wish my mama was here. My hubby doesn't like collards (or turnips) AT ALL, but I do...very very much.


Mo..."Mo's Cottage" said...

Looks like you had a wonderful dinner....I had collards for the first time this year and loved them...your pictures are wonderful and the loved that you took the walk ofter dinner...what a great day !!
Mo :-)
the tree colors are amazing!!!!

sparrowgrass said...

Lemon verbena leaves are a wonderful thing to vacuum up, too.

Beverly said...

Rachel, your day sounds like a day I would love. And, your meal must have been delicious. My husband would have been quite happy pulled up to your table.

We love collard greens. I laughed at Jeanne commenting that she doesn't know how to cook them. I have been encouraging/teasing her for many years. She is such a "northerner".♥

racheld said...

This is just the neatest thing---that such a humble, simple supper would appeal to so many people!

I'm so glad to find so many collards-fanciers---they are my favorite greens, and are SO easy to cook. Especially the bagged ones---yes, I'm getting lazy in my old age---but I DO wash them a couple of times, and "pick them over" as they say about greens and beans.

I just don't trust ANY industrial washing of my family's dinner---salad right out of a bag does not appeal to me at all.

You just put one washed bag into a big pot, scatter on some sugar, a little salt, and some powdered garlic, nestle a nice hambone into the middle, pour on a couple of cups of water, and cover. Over medium Heat, they'll cook down some in the few minutes it takes you to wash the second bag.

(And you WILL need that second one---I've got three in the fridge, cause two just didn't leave enough leftovers).

Repeat the scatter, cover, and simmer a couple of hours, tossing now and then with tongs to get all the seasonings distributed. Get a tiny spoon-taste of the "pot liquor" to check, and maybe a leaf or two to test for tender.

They'll make a wonderful homey scent in your kitchen, and make the afternoon seem purposeful, somehow, like things are getting done and all is fitting into place.

They have a gentle, soft bitterness, and are meant to go with cornbread, maybe a little pepper-sauce, and a nice cold slice of sweet onion.

Salt, pepper, soy sauce, a little sesame oil and lots of garlic don't go amiss in the pot, either.

Keetha said...

That *does* indeed sound like a productive day!

I love this:
"It's all green shapes and sunglints this morning."

Denise :) said...

LOL -- lots of color in that post, from all kinds of sources, eh?! Particularly like your sugar maple -- they turn such glorious colors in the fall!! :)