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Posts Tagged ‘yay’

For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, today is the Autumnal Equinox. I’ll miss the sun and sandals and the color green, but think of what we get in return: bright leaves, harvest time, crisp blue skies, walks in the woods, evenings with books and hot chocolate by the fire.

(And it’s not like we have a choice so we might as well make the most of it;)

Welcome to Fall!

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It’s such a pretty season. Photo by Evgeni Tcherkasski on Unsplash

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If you are familiar with Harry Potter then you know what a patronus is. (If not, check out this explainer.) I like the books and the concept, but also the imagery. So I decided to see if I could work out how to do the glowing-semi-translucent-super-cool-flying-animal effect in Affinity Photo.

I used a modified version of this Photoshop tutorial, and while the instructions don’t exactly translate to Affinity it was close enough to get me in the ballpark.

And of course now all I can see are the bits I’d like to change,* but isn’t that always the way? Next time!

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* Seriously, those wings are way too small. It’s so weird that a mythical Greek creature swapped into a magical wizarding world refuses to obey the laws of physics.

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One of our neighbors has a decades-old grape vine that is both enthusiastic and agile, and it has branched out to surround our shared yards, three fences, and at least two trees. It is also a prolific producer of grapes. Wildlife like them, but sometimes too much. Last year we were a hit with wasps, which I could have done without.

This year, hot off the pick-your-own fruit farm, I decided to try a bit of juicing.

Grapes + Instant Pot == juice, and it’s dark purple and dang tasty.

I should have used a higher grape-to-water ratio, but didn’t want to waste the fruit if the recipe was a dud. The juice is just about sweet enough to drink straight and tastes of minerals and a fall afternoon. I suspect these grapes would make fantastic wine.

Have I discovered one of the long-lost vines behind the prized vintages of the Elven Court in Exile?

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Photo by Roberta Sorge on Unsplash

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Fruit Torte

Yesterday: a pretty fall day + road trip + Les Fruits du Poirier pick-your-own fruit farm = fun 🙂

This particular farm has the usual apples, pears, raspberries, etc. but they also specialize in the less usual. Not everything was in season, but they also grow fruits like haskap, sea buckthorn, gooseberries, and northern kiwi. Yes, that kiwi! The northern variety is smaller than the imported variety you find in stores, but it is sweeter, with thinner skin and no fuzz, which means it doesn’t have to be peeled. 

Photo by William Felker on Unsplash

We had to look up half of what we saw, either because we didn’t recognize the plant or because we’d never heard of it before (jostaberry?). We used a click to ID app called Picture This (free to use but you have to navigate a maze of “sign up now!” screens, but I’m sure there are others.

The day was beautiful and it was great to get outside and into the country. Recommended.

Photo by Esther Wechsler on Unsplash

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Today: baking.

I had some plums waiting for a recipe, and I ran across this one for plum torte. The original was a wildly popular New York Times recipe that ran for years. This version is slightly modified and includes comments to help triangulate your own changes.

Best Plum Torte Recipe – How to Make Marian Burros’ Purple Plum Cake

It’s easy and delicious. Of course I added a few minor adjustments.

I made a plum version a few days ago, and today I made a plum with cinnamon, a peach with cinnamon and cardamom, and two mixed berry* tortes with cinnamon and just a splash of Grand Marnier. Apparently, they freeze well.

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Fruit Torte

(by way of Food52’s adaptation of Marian Burros’ Purple Plum Cake)

— makes one 8″ or 9” layer

Ingredients

  • 120g / 1 C. all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 5g / 1 t. baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 150g / 3/4 C. sugar
  • 115g / 1/2 C. butter, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 t. vanilla (or somewhat more Grand Marnier)
  • 9 small plums, pitted and quartered lengthwise, or other fruit (if boring, season with a little lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon)
  • 2 t. sugar and ground cinnamon for sprinkling

Directions

  • Heat the oven to 350° F. 
  • Prep an 8 or 9-inch cake pan. I used a round of parchment paper and buttered the interior, then dusted bottom and sides with a mix of sugar and cinnamon to avoid sticking.
  • Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Cream the sugar and butter until very light and fluffy, about 5–7 minutes with my mixer. I recommend mechanical means unless you want to be there all day.
  • Add the dry ingredients, eggs and vanilla all at once, and beat until combined, scraping down the sides a couple of times.
  • Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Arrange the fruit on top of the batter. Sprinkle the top with sugar and cinnamon.
  • Bake 40 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in its pan for 10 minutes, and then remove. Invert onto a cooling rack, then flip back onto another rack to finish cooling.

Notes

— The recipe called for a springform pan but they aren’t my favorite. (It would make cooling easier.) I used a 9” cake pan.

— One batch of batter weighs ~475g, in case you’re doubling the recipe.

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* In addition to pints of red raspberries, yellow raspberries, pears, apples, and kiwi, we picked up a haskap pie (no judgement, they were baking and it smelled amazing), and a frozen bag of haskap, red and white currants, raspberries, gooseberries, and Saskatoon berries.

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To Democracy

Today, I voted. What a wonderful thing.

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Photo by Lewis Parsons on Unsplash

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It seems we each have a fundamental core where we feel most comfortable, or most ourselves. It may come as no surprise to those who have spent any time on this site, but for me, it’s books and food. 

Those aren’t all I’m made of, of course, but those two elements were established early, before my memories became fixed. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t love books and food. One of my first real recollections is sitting on the side steps of the porch eating an artichoke with my father, and it’s hard not to feel happy in a kitchen or library.

Now, if I’d had different experiences growing up I might have become an engineer or a tailor or a computer scientist. I make things and sew and code but not with the intuitive ease some have. Instead, it’s books. And food. I’m ok with that. 

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I’m in the middle of a writing class, designing story ideas and characters. It got me thinking about how experiences become preferences and worldviews underpinning our actions. 

My father and I visited the Grand Canyon once, road-tripping north to the South Rim to hike and camp. The trip was great, full of summer heat and happiness, astonishing vistas and challenging trails.

I may also have spent some of the visit sitting by the edge, reading a book. Because we had a few minutes and that’s how I roll.

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Like places, people have layers. Understanding how time and exposure, pressure and purpose combine makes it easier to build complex and interesting motivations, or to understand our own.

We just have to sit back and consider what we’re made of.

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Photo by Jenn Wood on Unsplash

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It’s September 8th, and the 55th anniversary of the first airing of Star Trek: The Original Series. Now, I was always a Star Wars fan first and foremost* but Mr Man persuaded me to revisit and reassess, and I’m glad he did. The more geeky space fun, the better, as far as I’m concerned.

Want to know more, or commune with fellow Trekkies basking in the glory that is the Trekiverse? Click through for links to the annual Star Trek Day celebration:

Star Trek Day 2021: Celebrate 55 years of Trek with live panels and more tonight | Space

In closing…

(You know what I’m going to say, which also says something about the remarkable reach of this show into the global consciousness.)

Live long, and prosper.

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Photo by Stefan Cosma on Unsplash

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* The show had ended by the time I was ready for such things, and without a television even reruns were off the table. Hard to obsess over a series that you can’t watch!

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A Good Day

I would have liked to have some profound thoughts for you today, but instead it’s been a morning of work, a drive in the country, a bit of sunshine, then adult beverages and Return of the Jedi.

So, a good day:)

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Photo by Caio on Pexels.com

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A Touch of Magic

“A well-composed book is a magic carpet on which we are wafted to a world that we cannot enter in any other way.”

― Caroline Gordon

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Photo by Kevin Wolf on Unsplash

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Tuesdays are back to their normal busy schedule, but I am having one of those days when I’m more-than-usually aware of the good things. Not only, but also.

And R2 says hello:)

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Original Image by Jean photosstock from Pixabay

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