Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Easiest Pasta Sauce Ever (Delicious, too)

I"ve been making Roasted Tomato Sauce with all the tomatoes we are getting this year. It's simple and it's supposed to freeze very well, though I haven't yet used any of the stuff I've frozen. This recipe solves the problem I've had in the past of watery tomato sauce. The sauce is thick and richly flavored and it's incredibly simple to make. One of those recipes that you don't really need a recipe for. It's not fast, because it takes long slow cooking to bring out the flavors, but it could hardly be easier.

Cut a lot of plum tomatoes in half lengthwise, leaving the skin on. Put them on a cookie sheet (the kind with 1 inch edges, not the flat kind) cut side up. Strew over the tomatoes 1) a thinly sliced onion, 2) some sliced garlic, if you like, 3) a cut up carrot and a sliced stick of celery, if you like, 4) whatever herbs you like/happen to have (I've used rosemary, thyme, basil, and parsley at different times. Drizzle the whole thing with a little olive oil - you don't have to use much because the tomatoes release a syrupy juice - and salt and pepper. Put the whole thing in the oven at around 350 for 1 1/2 or 2 hours. until the edges of the onion and the tomatoes are beginning to turn black. Finally, dump it into a food processor and whiz it for 20 or 30 seconds, just long enough to make it into a thick, slightly lumpy sauce. Eat on pasta or freeze.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


I just downloaded my first loaned Kindle book from the local library. The service just started this morning and, I'm told, the library director has been swamped with requests about the service.

In my excitement, I got a book I'm not particularly excited to read, so I'll probably end up returning it 'virtually' in a little while. Otherwise someone who does want to read it will have to wail 14 days until it disappears from my system. There are lots of little annoyances with the system, nearly all caused by publishers who haven't yet embraced the idea that publishing is going to change A LOT very soon.

Still, it was very exciting to be able to do it. And it's interesting to think about amazon, a retail store, involved in this book loan scheme and what it means for their business model.

Check out the details by clicking here, on amazon.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Puzzling British Road Signs (continued)


Humped Pelicans?

Why are they crossing here?

Why can't I stop for them?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Attention: Readers of Historical Fiction

Reality and fiction are uncomfortable companions, one often finds.

Part of our walk from Alfriston to Charleston was on the old coaching road from Seaford to Lewes. Both of these pictures are of the road. It was perhaps 8 feet wide most of the way, with huge ruts and thorny bushes on either side. It really takes the romance out of imagining riding in a coach. Even the most luxurious and well-sprung coach would have been incredibly uncomfortable on this terrain. Easy to see how a highwayman could have stopped one. Also easy to see how difficult it would have been to overtake or even pass by in the opposite direction.

BTW - What looks like a snowy field, is actually a recently tilled field filled with chalk.

English Signs (Continuing series)

Nothing confusing about this sign, but it is a remarkable example of The Language of Politeness in Public Places. It says (if you can't read it) 'Should you have any comments relating to the repair/cleanliness of these toilets, please contact: ..."

An Excellent Day

We had the best day yesterday. We got up early and took the bus, changing once, to a little medieval village called Alfriston - site of the National Trust's first acquisition. From Alfriston we walked to Charleston, the summer home of the Bloomsbury Group for nearly 60 years. Going there, we walked old paths in the valley, including an old coaching road. Returning we climbed to the top of the downs and walked along the ridge on the South Downs Way, with amazing views in all directions. It was the warmest sunniest day we've had here and it was sublime.

We stopped en route to visit the church in the tiny village of Berwick. The first picture is part of the path from Alfriston to Berwick - the path points almost directly toward the tip of the church steeple, which you can almost see.

The church, which has murals painted by Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, is wonderful - 12th or 13th century, with a much earlier Anglo-Saxon font and a barrow just outside the church that is even earlier. It has been a sacred spot for a long time. The murals are my favorite of all the work I've seen by Bell and Grant. They used family members as models and the landscapes in the background are familiar places - the garden at Charleston or the cliffs nearby.
Here is Christ in His Splendor - notice the WW2 service men in the left foreground with the white cliffs of the English coast behind them.

I particularly like the picture of the Annunciation - the Virgin Mary was Angelica Bell (the daughter of Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell, who thought her father was Vanessa's husband Clive Bell until her 18th birthday - it's quite a story) and the angel Gabriel is a friend of hers.

Charleston is amazing. I went with Sister Rose a couple of years ago and that, too, was a wonderful day. I am not sure I actually admire the work of the Bloomsbury artists but somehow seeing it all in place is really terrific. We spent some time in the gardens, which are wonderful in a particularly English cottagey way. Not that Charleston is a cottage. It's quite a big house, though not grand, dating in art to the 16th century but much ammended and added on to in the 18th century. The Bloomsbury group never owned it - they rented it from Lord Gage(whose ancestor lost the Revolutionary War) and 'all' they did is to cover it with painting on every possible surface. The COG and I were wishing my brother Enward could see it. The COG took pictures, but I didn't. At the moment he is having trouble uploading them, but I'm sure some will appear on his blog, although none from inside as that was not allowed.

The return walk was really sublime. The last picture was taken about half way to the top of the downs. Later, I was too much involved in the experience to remember to take picture, and I knew the COG would.

It was an amazing, wonderful day.

Sofa Update

Remember the sofa in our hallway when we arrived? It's still there. The COG and I think it's hilarious that we have to go over the sofa every time we go in or out of the flat. The poor women upstairs have been trying to get rid of it, but they've been thwarted at every turn. One person's van was too small to carry it etc. Today some guys showed up with a truck and then they couldn't take it because the Fire Tag is missing. You could see where it had been torn off, but the law is that they can't resell it without a fire tag.

This is one of those stupid bureaucratic rules that might sound good in theory, but make no sense. Instead of being able to be reused somewhere, the sofa is now bound for the dump. It's a good, very comfortable leather sofa that could have had many more years of use. Instead, they are having to pay £8 to have it carted away to the dump.

But here's the funniest part - they are taking it the day after we leave!

It's like having a parcourse in your front yard. Our hip flexors have never been in such good shape and we are seriously considering installing something in our front porch.