Tag Archives: project365

Another mural

Because I had some ideas of things to write about, but it will be Monday in twenty minutes, and I don’t have time to post any of them right now.

So here’s an unusual example of our local taste for murals –

This mosaic covers the side wall of a little store about ten blocks from my home – for years it was a butcher shop, and now it’s a fish store. And what either of those has to do with the mosaic itself I have no idea!

Happy Fourth of July!

Just some ordinary Township-sponsored fireworks –

at the high school football field

down at the end of my street

photographed with my little point and shoot camera

set on manual so the flash wouldn’t try to light up the fireworks

with no tripod (as you can see)

though some of the motion

is the firework exploding, not the camera jiggling.

And I can’t photograph the noise, or the smell of the smoke, or the thud! in your chest.

Happy 236th birthday to the United States.

186 Cookbooks: Maybe too authentic?

Mediterranean Grains and Greens by Paula Wolfert

A keeper? Not this one

Several years ago, I had lots of money and a fascination with “Mediterranean cuisine”. As a result, I bought a number of good cookbooks that I haven’t mentioned yet in this series – the old classic The Mediterranean Diet of course, and Mediterranean Street Food, and Trattoria, and A Taste of Ancient Rome.

And also I bought Mediterranean Grains and Greens. In fairness, the title gives you a pretty good idea of what most of the recipes emphasize. In additional fairness, Paula Wolfert typically focuses on painstakingly authentic and somewhat obscure recipes – and she stays true to herself in this cookbook.

So what’s the problem?

Well, I gave this one two chances. First, I tried Black and White Risotto – mostly because my store had some Tuscan kale (the “black” part – the rice, of course, is the “white”), and I wanted to branch out from spinach.

Later, I found out that the second half of the bunch of kale worked fine, sliced and stir-fried with the meat (or tofu) of your choice plus some soy sauce, as an Italian-Chinese vegetable. But in risotto? Well, no. It just didn’t taste very good. (And not that it matters, but the dish wasn’t really black and white – more of a dark pine green and cream.)

But Wolfert always sounds so sure of herself, so certain that her recipes are delicious! So I tried again. This time it was radicchio pasticcio – a sort of vegetarian lasagna (at least, it used lasagna noodles).

You slice the radicchio and fry it for a couple of minutes, make a plain old white sauce with flour, butter, and milk, add some grated parmesan and the radicchio, and layer the sauce mixture with lasagna noodles, then bake.


It wasn’t horrible, but it was duller than I expected – radicchio is bitter in salads, but cooking seems to tame the bitterness. Maybe too much. After the first bite or two, it needed more grated cheese to give it some flavor.

I may try one more of her ideas – a salad for which you slice various types of lettuce and greens very very thin and let them wilt a bit before adding a vinegar-and-oil dressing. But even if that turns out to be delicious, do I really need a whole cookbook to tell me how to make a salad? Not when I’m this short of shelf space, I don’t.

Maybe someone else will find these recipes delightful.

Things aren’t always what they seem…

Here’s a photo of the approach to Manayunk (a neighborhood in northwest Philadelphia, where a grueling bike race is held every June) –

(Forgive the blurriness. This was shot from the window of our car, traveling at least 50 miles an hour (about 80 km/hr) last Thursday morning on the Schuylkill Expressway across the Schuykill River from Manayunk.)

What do you think? Is this the famous Manayunk Aqueduct? Well, no –

Here’s the uncropped picture. Yes, it’s a mural. (The retaining wall it’s painted on is real, though, and so is the street sloping uphill to the left in front of the wall.) Philadelphia loves murals – I hope to get across the river from time to time this summer and photograph some of them.

Weekly photo challenge, today

(Normally I don’t post more than once a day – but who am I to defy the Weekly Photo Challenge? This time, they’re asking for photos of “today” – Friday, June 1, 2012 – and I just went out and took some.)

Today in my back yard –

The vegetable garden. Does it look a bit empty in the middle? That’s where the second row of beans and the cilantro will be.

A closer look – tomatoes, basil, and peppers at the far edge. I doubt that there’s a backyard garden anywhere in South Jersey that doesn’t include these.




And the opposite corner – oregano, purple (!) tomatillos, and beans stretching off into the distance.



And a nod to the Photo Challenge I skipped two weeks ago: Let me give you a hand.

I’m mixing purchased topsoil with the – stuff – that came with the yard to make another garden bed. This area has never been tilled since we moved into the house, and maybe never since the house was built. Years ago, I struggled to make other sections cultivable, but I had forgotten that the basic mixture is clay and lots and lots of stones.

You know you’re dealing with hard soil when you stick a garden shovel into it, stand on the shovel (so you’re applying your full weight), and can only get it to penetrate about the length of a finger. It turned out that a hand trowel was a more effective tool to loosen the clay enough so I could crumble it and mix it with topsoil.

Basically, it’s a quiet day in the neighborhood – my town had its big extravaganza last Saturday, closing the main street for Mayfair and holding boat races on Cooper River.

A mystery

Okay, what happened here? Seriously. A week ago, this cherry tree two blocks from my house looked perfectly fine. On Saturday, it sprawled on the ground, split into three pretty much equal pieces, halfway down to the roots.

Lightning? But it doesn’t look scorched. A teeny tiny tornado? Its own weight? I don’t have a clue. Anybody want to guess?

Can’t get a grip on this photo challenge

All right, I give up. This time the Weekly Photo Challenge topic is “Hands”, and I just don’t have anything usable. I don’t often photograph people except for occasions like family get-togethers – but even my photos of statues and the like seem to focus on the whole figure, or maybe the face, and if I crop to show just the hands, the picture ends up much too small.

So I’ll just post a couple of photos that have Absolutely Nothing At All to do with hands.

What is so rare as a day in…May…- then, if ever, come perfect days. And that’s what our weather was like today. Of course, I can’t post the slight breeze, the pleasant temperature, and the faint aroma of cut grass.

Some of my annual flowers come back a second year, sometimes very successfully. This snapdragon is waist-high on me. (Admittedly, my waist is closer to the ground than most people’s!)

Wet Woodsy Thursday

What we did on the way home from visiting my mother a couple of days ago –

We visited a wildflower preserve. The road in and out is pretty rough. This picture was not Photoshopped – the motion blur (and the jolt that caused it) are real.

These are wild geraniums.

Columbine seems to like cliffs.

False Solomon’s seal was in full bloom.

The area is basically wild, but someone puts up markers for the scarcer plants.

Jack-in-the-pulpit was past its prime.

It was a wet weekday, and the place was almost empty. We did meet this millipede, but I believe (s)he lives there.

Lots of ferns…

Fallen logs covered with moss and young plants…

“In a hole in a…tree…there lived a hobbit” – no, that’s not right, but something ought to live here…

Usually, about this time of year, it’s cluttered with trilliums, but our hot March and chilly April has everything off schedule – nothing like the usual show!

But a walk in the woods is always a good idea.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sun

This time, the Weekly Photo Challenge theme is “Sun”.

This isn’t the best picture I’ve ever taken, but it certainly fits the theme:

Dawn over the Adriatic

Nothing special but –

These flowers are kind of like meatloaf – no trouble, nothing fancy, but everybody likes it!

Just your basic South Jersey azalea – a drab little shrub most of the year, but it sure puts on a show in spring!

Leaning in for a better look

And here’s an ordinary bluish purplish bearded iris. Just give the roots some water and dirt and sun, and every spring you get to look at this.

Isn’t it pretty?