Last week we had dinner at the home of friends. It was so frigid outside that when we arrived and entered, greeted by hugs, an inviting fire in the fireplace, and a glass of wine it was like going to heaven. When we left five and a half hours later, we realized it was after eleven. I had no idea. The conversation, the laughter, the warmth, made me forget the chill outside. That's what friendship can do for people.
Our host, John Schneider, took this photo and regrettably, the only thing missing in it is him! John writes a wonderful daily blog that is short, sweet and wonderful. Sharon Emery, his wife, is the author of "It's Hard Being You" and also blogs HERE. I hope you'll take a look.
During my senior year in college, I shared an apartment with three others. It was in the early 1970s. Think Vietnam War, protests, Carole King's "Tapestry," musical poetry by Rod McKuen, Watergate hearings, love beads, and Kahlil Gibran's "The Prophet." (And if you've never heard of any of those -- well, celebrate your youth!)
Stenciled on our wall was a quote from that book.
And let your best be for your friend.
If he must know the ebb of your tide, let him know its flood also.
For what is your friend that you should seek him with hours to kill?
Seek him always with hours to live.
The rest of the poem continues (but never made it to our wall.)
For it is his to fill your need but not your emptiness.
And in the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures.
For in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed.
I thought about that quote as I relived that lovely evening in my mind. "And in the sweetness of friendship, let there be laughter, and sharing of pleasures, for in the dew of little things the heart finds its morning and is refreshed."
That's how I felt the next morning. We laughed about the "dew of little things" (and a few pretty heavy thoughts, too). We laughed so hard, it was a release.
A release from the weather. The politics. The whole "getting older" thing. We were joyful.
I love joy.
The mold tester has come and gone and I was impressed by how thorough he was. The bad news is that he did find mold and the lab results indicated it was significant enough to require remediation. Getting that scheduled is at the top of my action list. (They sent the quote; it was a big gulp!) I'm not to take things down to the basement and bring up little, if anything, until it is done, which will probably be the second week in February. Then I have to put the basement back together. My Christmas stuff will be up forever, I think. I would at least like to get the big tree taken down by the time I have Cork Poppers here next month. I need the real estate. So it may be stashed in the garage or the guest room. Ugh. Stay tuned.
I've been laying low but had to go out so while I was on the road stopped by the Ditch, not for a walk but for a quick photo.When I took that, it was completely iced over and not surprisingly looking lovely. Now it is melting off with lots of water showing. Our winter is weird.
I finished Barbra Streisand's book which I thought was fabulous. I'll have the review in the January book report but I feel safe in saying I may have already read my best book of 2024 in January. It's fascinating. I learned so much about film, editing, the mechanics of putting together a concert or an album, and of course about her life -- it's one filled with insecurities as well as great talent and commitment. It was worth every minute of those nearly 700 pages!
Friends came for lunch and I made the go-to Ina risotto that I've shared here before, this time adding sauteed shrimp and mushrooms. It was the easiest thing I could think of to make and perfect for a cold winter's day.
I also made Anno's wonderful nuts and I'm putting the recipe at the bottom of this post. I packed them up into a couple of cute wintry mugs I found after Christmas as a take-away. I'm on a nut kick these days and this recipe never disappoints!
And finally, the puzzle is taking shape. I gave up on the border -- solid pink around most of it. Instead I started with something that might reveal immediate gratification! It's plugging along. I volunteered to host Cork Poppers in early February so I need to finish it by then!
And that's life in the Deep Freeze for now (though it is considerably warmer -- today we were in the 30s and the nights in double digits -- so maybe we're on an upswing.) Here's that wonderful nut recipe! It only takes about 15 minutes prep (with measuring and stove-top time) and ten minutes in the oven. They package up well for gifts.
- 1 tablespoon fresh ground pepper (that's the part that takes the longest!)
- 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
- ¼ c. (half stick) of butter
- Add: ¾ cup of packed brown sugar
- 4 teaspoons of water
- When the sugar is completely dissolved, add about four cups of nuts. I've done all almonds, all pecans, a mix of both. Doesn't matter.
- Stir them about five minutes or so to roast and be sure they are all covered with the sugary mixture. Closer to the end, the sugary part will thicken and start to gently bubble. That's OK -- just let it go a little longer and keep stirring to be sure the nuts are maxing out the syrup. Five minutes on medium should do it.
- Add one half of the pepper mixture to the nuts on the stove and toss well
- Turn nuts out onto foil and spread out to as close as you can to a single layer. (With a spatula, scrape all the good syrupy part, which may have started to harden a bit, onto the nuts.
- Sprinkle with the last of the pepper mixture and bake for 10 minutes. (If you like them hotter, you can add a bit of cayenne -- but be super careful. You can totally mess up here if you use too much!)
- When done, flip nuts on sheet out onto waxed paper (tear off a long sheet of it). Parchment might work too-- never tried it. Let them fully cool. (Nuts will be VERY hot for a minute). Break up any big clumps.
- Store in a tin or ziplock. You can freeze them, too in freezer bags. For giving, I bag them up in little clear bags I get at Michael's or those small treat bags and tie them off with a ribbon.