It’s an old story…

Deborah Madison's kale

Deborah Madison’s kale

Did you know that the ancient Greeks cultivated leafy greens and that by the Middle Ages kale had spread through Europe and Asia? Why, pray tell, are the French, those culinary kingpins, so late to get with the kale program? I mean if kale is on the menu at the Cheesecake Factory…Anyway, when I recently read about kale’s illustrious history I immediately thought about Deborah Madison’s newest book, Vegetable Literacy, which is not only filled with 300+ recipes, but also photos that are just as mouth-watering. Screen Shot 2013-10-22 at 11.59.38 AMIf you are unfamiliar with Madison check out her website, deborahmadison.com. For starters, she is a Chez Panisse alum and founder of Greens restaurant in San Francisco, one of the first Bay Area eateries to feature a farm-driven menu – in 1979! It lives still and you’ll find kale in the Breakfast Tartine.

Speaking of oldies-but goodies, I was drawn to an ad in one of the cazillon “healthy eating” magazines I like to thumb through. Who knew about all these great grains?

The Grains of Discovery Collection at Bob's Red Mill

The Grains of Discovery Collection at Bob’s Red Mill

I’ve shied away from quinoa cause all my attempts at jazzing it up still were lackluster, until I sampled the pairing of – drumroll – quinoa and kale! I first sampled the Q&K salad with pine nuts and parmesan at my friend Cathy’s, no slouch in the kitchen. She creatively mixed white with red quinoa. Since my first tasting I’ve rolled this entry out at two dinners where it got raves. You can find it on epicurious.com or right here – for six to eight of your closest friends:

Ingredients

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 small onion, minced
2 cups white quinoa, rinsed
1 1/2 cups water
3 cups chopped kale (about 12 ounces)
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/2 ounces)
kosher salt and black pepper

1. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté, stirring frequently, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the quinoa and sauté, stirring, until lightly toasted, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the water and kale, stirring to combine. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, until the quinoa is tender and the water has been absorbed, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and let cool. Stir occasionally to bring the warmer part of the mixture up from the bottom.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and mustard until smooth. Add a pinch each of salt and pepper. Slowly add the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, whisking continuously to emulsify the dressing.

3. Drizzle the dressing over the cooled quinoa mixture. Stir in the pine nuts and Parmesan cheese and season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Cover and chill completely, 2 to 3 hours. Stir just before serving to fluff the salad and break up any clumps.

A Tartt Taste

Do you ever feel embarrassed, reticent when talk turns to books EVERYBODY seems to have read, should have read and/or raved about and you either have never heard of the book, didn’t get all the fuss about it or were scared to give it a try? Take Ulysses for example. That James Joyce opus certainly falls in the supposed-to-have category. Any serious reader has cracked that classic, appreciates its ground-breaking merits, right?

Now, in one of the many current articles featuring the writer Donna Tartt, author of one of this season’s most talked about novels, The Goldfinch, she reveals “I know I don’t love ‘Ulysses’ as much as I am supposed to..” Does this comment from such a well-read, literary heavyweight allow me to remove my dunce cap, temporarily at least?

Donna Tartt

Donna Tartt

In every photo, with her signature severe coif and clothes, Tartt casts an intimidating presence, a look one interviewer nailed as a cross between Anna Wintour and Oscar Wilde. Scary like Ulysses.

Albert Camus

Albert Camus

But all is not austere here. I smiled when, in an interview, Tartt answered the question, If you could meet any writer, dead or alive, who would it be? “If it was a dinner date? Albert Camus. That trench coat! That cigarette! I think my French is good enough. We’d have a great time”

Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.–Albert Camus

Will I turn the 700+ pages of The Goldfinch which comes out tomorrow? Perhaps. The advance word says I should.

All I want from a book is the tingle down the spine, for my hairs to stand on end.–Donna Tartt

In England’s Green and Pleasant Land

Room with a green and pleasant view, specifically from our kitchen window at Rose Cottage, Ilkley in Yorkshire

Room with a green and pleasant view, specifically from our kitchen window at Rose Cottage, Ilkley in Yorkshire


“In England’s green and pleasant land,” the last line of William Blake’s “Jerusalem” (1804), was on constant replay during our trip to England. How could it not with this country’s vistas of rolling verdant hills.

Our journey was a year ago summer, but the memories linger as does “Jerusalem.” Written to music in 1916, “Jerusalem” has been a graduation standard at the Greenwich Academy since 1934, although it was tweaked a bit for Academy voices. “England’s” was changed to “this our.” I spent my early ed years at the Academy and that’s where I was first introduced to this hymn.

As music has a way of doing, “Jerusalem” anchors a time and place for me. The more rousing the rendition, the more misty-eyed I become. So, naturally the flood gates opened when the choir sang it at Prince William and Kate Middleton’s nuptial in 2011. ” ‘Jerusalem’ is the one hymn the British all know and break into song when mentioned,” my sister-in-law Jane told me. “It was a great choice at the royal wedding. I actually grin when I think of all the folks watching singing it together, in the parks, streets, homes.” Jane, who is English and her husband, Bill, Jack’s brother, were our Yorkshire traveling companions.

The choir at Westminster Abbey before bursting forth with "Jerusalem" at the Royal Wedding

The choir at Westminster Abbey before bursting forth with “Jerusalem” at the Royal Wedding

Bravo to the Royal Duo for including “Jerusalem,” especially since it’s been banned at some churches for being “too nationalistic.” The hymn has been interpreted in different ways over the decades. Some see it as Jesus arriving in England to create heaven amidst the “dark satanic mills.” That gloomy reference, the line at the end of the first verse, is often thought to refer to the Industrial Revolution. Scanning the breath-taking English countryside, the “heaven” thing works for me.

History lesson over. Let us venture forth with highlights from our trip. I LOVED every minute of this excursion, except motor-vehicling it on the left-hand side of the road. Oy. A heartfelt thank you to Jack who gave in to this culture fest in lieu of our usual kayak/hiking/biking fare. “It’s your turn,” he said. Copy that!

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The blue markers on the map above designate our stops – not to scale!! Our Trip to Bountiful followed in the footsteps of writers, one very special gardener and a whimsical artist. It all began at Heathrow Airport where we dragged our jet-lagged bodies off our flight from Denver, found our way to Hertz and gingerly headed west. After a few missed exits off the motorway, we gratefully landed at Rockwood Farmhouse in Newbury, West Berkshire, just up the road from Highclere Castle. This is the area of blue symbols above Southampton on the map.

The Garden at Rockwood Farmhouse

The Garden at Rockwood Farmhouse

After our full, English breakfast at RF, we rolled into Highclere Castle which you’ll recognize as none other than Downton Abbey. It was minutes away. By the way, the garden you hardly ever see on TV is at the top of my home page. Look up! The Big Bummer: When visiting Highclere, you don’t get to see the Downton Abbey bedrooms as they’re furnished on the show. Ditto for the kitchen (and all that lurks below the main floor) which is filmed on a set off-site. But knowing you’re strolling the same ground as the Crawley Clan is worth the trip. The views are spectacular.

Highclere Castle; the sign post for and gate to the Secret Garden, below

Highclere Castle; the sign post for and gate to the Secret Garden, below


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The lavender bed at Highclere Castle

The lavender bed at Highclere Castle

After Highclere, we headed north to meet up with Bill and Jane for Yorkshire rambling. On the way, we stopped over in Derbyshire where Jack could cast a line on the River Wye. And I could relish a tour of a drafty Haddon Hall, the location for three “Jane Eyre” films, plus a host of other costume dramas. See the lone blue marker just above Nottingham on the map.

Haddon Hall - So "Jane Eyre!"

Haddon Hall – So “Jane Eyre!”


The Peacock at Rowsley where we stayed in Derbyshire

The Peacock at Rowsley where we stayed in Derbyshire


Jack and his fishing companion on the River Wye

Jack and his fishing companion on the River Wye

On to Bronte Country and the Yorkshire moors (the most northern blue symbols on the map). Kudos to Bill for finding the delightful Rose Cottage in Ilkley. It was less than an hour’s drive to Haworth, home to the Bronte Museum and Parsonage. Now here’s my perfect combination: checking out a literary landmark and walking forever on these moors. Priceless. Oh, and let’s not forget about afternoon tea which has to be one of the most civilized, relaxing rituals ever!

Rose Cottage

Rose Cottage


The long and winding road in Haworth

The long and winding road in Haworth


At the Bronte Museum and its adjacent cemetery, below. Loved reading these ancient tombstones

At the Bronte Museum and its adjacent cemetery, below. Loved reading these ancient tombstones


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You can’t take photos inside the museum, but I snagged this one off the internet, below, to give you a sampling of the treasures within…

And you thought my writing was hard to read!

And you thought my writing was hard to read!


Heather and Heathcliff..."No matter what I ever do or say, Heathcliff, this is me - now - standing on this hill with you. This is me, forever," Catherine Earnshaw, from the 1939 movie of Emily Bronte's "Wuthering Heights"

Heather and Heathcliff…”No matter what I ever do or say, Heathcliff, this is me – now – standing on this hill with you. This is me, forever,” Catherine Earnshaw, from the 1939 movie of Emily Bronte’s “Wuthering Heights”


Didn't run into these two on the moors behind the Bronte homestead, but  I could sense them!! Heathcliff (Lawrence Olivier) and Cathy (Merle Oberon) in that classic film

Didn’t run into these two on the moors behind the Bronte homestead, but I could sense them!! Heathcliff (Lawrence Olivier) and Cathy (Merle Oberon) in that classic film

“Catherine Earnshaw, may you not rest so long as I live on! I killed you. Haunt me, then! Haunt your murderer! I know that ghosts have wandered on the Earth. Be with me always. Take any form, drive me mad, only do not leave me in this dark alone where I cannot find you. I cannot live without my life! I cannot die without my soul,” Heathcliff

Betty's Tea Room in Ilkley. No, I didn't devour everything on the trays, below

Betty’s Tea Room in Ilkley. No, I didn’t devour everything on the trays, below


A Betty's sampling. The Fat Rascal teapot and tea cozy, below are for sale.

A Betty’s sampling. The Fat Rascal teapot and tea cozy, below, are for sale.


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We captured many moor rambling photos. Here, just some of my favorites, starting with our jolly quartet: me, Jack, Jane and Bill.

The gang's all here!

The gang’s all here!


Two for the road - er - path

Two for the road – er – path


One of the many stiles we encountered

One of the many stiles we encountered

Leaving Yorkshire, we headed south for “The Garden of England,” as the counties of Kent and Sussex are known as. See the blue symbols to the upper right of Brighton on the map. We headquartered at Appletree Cottage, Robertsbridge, East Sussex. I’m not one for posting pro or con comments on travel websites, but did pen a blurb on Tripadvisor.uk about AC due to the kindness of its owners, the delightful Jane and Hugh Willing. In part, it reads…
When looking for a B&B near to Sissinghurst (the gardens are only a 20 minute drive away) and other literary and cultural spots we wanted to visit, we found Appletree Cottage and its most charming hosts, Jane and Hugh Willing who could not have been more helpful. There wasn’t a map they didn’t have to loan or question they couldn’t answer. There’s a garden to relax in and a breakfast that keeps you going well into the day and, season depending, includes finds from the garden…

The Willings and me in front of Appletree Cottage on the morning of our departure

The Willings and me on the morning of our departure


We put in a full three days, heading out in all directions from AC. The legendary gardens at Sissinghurst were first on our southern itinerary. Early September is not peak blooming time, but there’s enough in flower as not to disappoint and you miss the May/June crowds! We arrived as the gates opened and were first up the tower to Vita-Sackville West’s still-intact study.
The famed gardener's tile work en route up the tower to her study; the rewarding view from the top of the tower, below

The famed gardener’s tile work en
route up the tower to her study; the rewarding view from the top of the tower, below


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Taking time to smell the roses

Taking time to smell the roses


Jack taking a breather before our lunch on the grounds.

Jack taking a breather before our lunch on the grounds.


Vita’s gardening talents often overshadow her writing skills for me so it was a joy to re-acquaint myself with some of her works at the Sissinghurst gift shop. I was particularly taken by…
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On another morning, via South Downs Way, we set out for Charleston, the country gathering spot for The Bloomsbury Group in the early 20th century. “You really must come and see this place soon,” Vanessa Bell wrote to her friend, artist and art critic Roger Fry in 1916. “It’s most lovely, very solid and simple…” It was made even lovelier by Bell’s whimsical decor.
A misty stroll along South Downs Way

A misty stroll along South Downs Way


The road wrongly traveled…First we found another Charleston. Note the "horse" on the hillside in the distance

The road wrongly traveled…First we found another Charleston. Note the “horse” on the hillside in the distance


We reached the right Charleston just before closing time

We reached the right Charleston just before closing time


Just one of Bell's many delights inside Charleston

Just one of Bell’s many delights inside Charleston

More of Bell's eye-catching interiors at Charleston, above and below

More of Bell’s eye-catching interiors at Charleston, above and below


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Screen shot 2013-04-22 at 9.54.53 AM
On our last day, we took the train into London. Not enough time to do anything in great depth, but we managed a quick look-see at the Victoria and Albert Museum. For our entire trip, we had been dressed in layers, but this day the sun came out and the temperatures rose. We were down to our T-shirts for lunch in the courtyard at the V&A.
Chowing alfresco at the Victoria and Albert

Chowing alfresco at the Victoria and Albert

Hey! We didn’t get to Jane Austen’s pad…
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And what about The Lake District…
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To paraphrase my good friend Arnold S: “We’ll be back!”

Heathrow revisited…Do we really have to leave?

Heathrow revisited…Do we really have to leave?

Pall Mall…

When one thinks of a final resting place – be it a hole in some treasured ground or ashes spread over a meaningful locale – a shopping mall does not spring to mind. But now, one grieving man has sprinkled his dead fiancee’s ashes near a LensCrafters store in Sarasota Florida’s Westfield Southgate Mall, a shopping complex I know well. My beloved prescription reading sunglasses are from that very same LensCrafters.

The news report said that mall officials and the fire dept. could seek to recover costs from the ash-spreader since the mall had to be evacuated and shut down for a few hours. Apparently, the white powdery substance spooked shoppers.

Halloween looms, but let us hope this was not some lame, ghoulish prank. Some folks enjoy hanging out at malls, can spend hours in them. I go to a mall with a mission, get what’s needed and get out. I can’t imagine staying there, well, forever.

Note to Family & Friends: Speaking of final resting places, please spread my ashes over Edgartown harbor, from the lighthouse. Don’t be shocked. I’m just planning ahead.

Edgartown harbor by the late Ray Ellis

Edgartown harbor by the late Ray Ellis

The Maine Event…

I had to chuckle when I saw this headline in today’s “New York Times:” “Senate Women Lead in Effort to Find Accord.” This is, like, news? How many times have we been the leaders in finding the best route through a prickly path? Let’s hear it for Maine senator Susan Collins and all the other women who know best.

Bookends…

First there was the grim news of the Government shutdown, then this headline in today’s “NY Times:” “Washington Fifth Grader, 11, Is Convicted in Murder Plot.” When his weapons (that’s plural – a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol and a knife) were discovered, the 11-year-old told a school counselor that he was planning to stab a girl to death because she was “really annoying!” It doesn’t get much darker than that…

But let us move on to a welcome bright spot in the news: Alice Munro, 82, winning the 2013 Nobel Prize in Literature. When she got the word, she told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, “I would really hope this would make people see the short story as an important art, not just something you played around with until you got a novel.” Indeed. Just this year, Munro announced she had decided to stop writing. Oh, Alice, say it ain’t so and it might not be. Winning the Nobel, she said “may change my mind.” Her legion of fans certainly hope so.

Alice Munro

Alice Munro

I’ve never been partial to the short story form – Ms.Munro’s work excepted – but recently I was introduced to “Married Love,” a short story collection by the British writer, Tessa Hadley. You may recognize Hadley’s name from the pages of “The New Yorker.”

At The Boulder Bookstore’s Bookclub Night event this summer, the store’s new titles buyer praised “Married Love,” so I gave it a try. Well, I’m hooked. I devoured “ML” and moved on to Hadley’s novel, “The London Train.” I am now on my third Hadley novel (her first) and am anticipating with glee the arrival of her latest novel, “Clever Girl,” which travels to our shores this spring.

My Ever-Expanding Tessa Hadley Library - A short story collection, top, and two of her earlier novels

My Ever-Expanding Tessa Hadley Library – A short story collection, top, and two of her earlier novels

So, what’s the attraction here? In an email, Hadley wrote: “It’s still amazing to me that my very English stories travel and still make sense somewhere so far away and so dramatically different.” Yes, there are the English expressions, vocabulary, but these are universal tales, situations and characters this American, anyway, found herself relating to. Hadley homes in on the family and the often complicated relationships between parents and children, siblings and husbands and wives. About “Married Love,” “The Guardian” wrote “Hadley joins the company of Alice Munro and Colm Toibin as one of the most clear-sighted chroniclers of contemporary emotional journeys.” Enough said.