The world has gone crackers. Spain, the country that gave us the Inquisition–along with France, Portugal and Italy–is threatening to prosecute officials from the Bush administration for the allegedly authorising torture at Guantanamo. While I do condone the use of torture under any circumstances, it seems to me that Spain should tend to its own paella. We are dealing with Pinochet here. We talking about people who were appointed by a democratically elected body–so we were led to believe, anyway. This is in-house work and it needs to be dealt with in house. I vote to ask the Spaniards’ help whenever they solve their problems with the Basques. Until then, stick to flamenco dancing, guys.
European self-righteousness is not the only indication that the world has gone crackers–I mean, what can one do but laugh when the British threaten to seize Israelis who allegedly took part in war crimes? They will do that as soon as they abolish racism and anti-Semitism in their own little island, give back the Falklands, find an Indian replacement for Queen Elizabeth and a Guianese replacement for Prince Phillip. look, I don’t care much for netspeak, but, muwahahah is the only appropriate response to this sudden–or is it?–Euro passion to neaten up other folks’ houses. What is troubling about it is that there is no question bad things are happening all ver, though not much seems to be done about the janjaweed in Darfur of the Chinese killers of Tibetan monks. There are houses that need to be neatened up and ours is one of them. But the day I would agree that European Union should be in charge of solving our domestic problems is when hell freezes over.
While seething about the silliness of puffed up European officials it is good to find something positive to do. Making crackers from scratch is my choice. mark Bittman, of The New York Times provides a very easy recipe for utterly delicious Cheese crackers. He recommends grated Parmesan cheese. I think an herbed cheese would work as well. I intend to experiment with cream cheese and Israeli olive oil instead of butter for the dough and rosemary for the topping. The photo above shows Bittman’s crackers topped with za’atar. If only global politics were that simple and good.

Reading the news is disheartening these days. Every publication seems to to carry more dire warnings of disasters than one can imagine. But not all of it is grim. As we say, in our house, theer is mirthment to be found among tips on how to save money, survive the recession and live happily ever after. One my sources of belly laughter is the advice of a woman who plans to skip her annual vacation with her family thus saving 10 000 dollars. It contrasts so very neatly with a homeless man’s recipe on how to live of ramen noodles. Perennial source of amusement that they are, women’s magazines abound with uninteded irony when they try to steer their readers to their advertisers’ wares. Ensconced in their offices, few, if any of contrinutors to Glamour, Vogue, and Marie Claire, among others, seemed to have an inkling of the economic reality most of us have to face. Nowhere there are articles about what to do after one has given up all the frills and then some. Myself, I am thinking of torching my credit cards and moving to a ship container where I will grow my own food, spin my own yarn–actually I will delegate that chore to the Infanta, who owns the spinning wheel–and cook everyting from scratch.
The cold, foggy spring Italians call tempo di lupo is an inducement to such reckless plans. Won’t you join me? I shall start by baking biscotti. It is simple. Take six cups of flour, six eggs, a cup of butter, a cup of sugar, a teaspoon orange oil, a tablespoon freshly grated orange peel, two cups of slivered toasted almonds, a package of bittersweet chocolate chips. Mix, shape into four logs, bake at 375 for 20 minutes. Cool, Slice and return to 350 oven for 20 inutes, et voila, you have plenty of treats to throw at the wolf. Keep some for yourself. These are yummy.


    Have you ever heard the song of the woodthrush? I heard for the first time in a birch where my family and I used to have a cottage.

  1. To this day, that song evokes blueberry fields, the scent of balsam fir, and cool summers evenings by a lake bordered by wild rosebushes in bloom. We no longer have the cottage, but as luck would have it, woodthrushes nest in the woods near my house in West Virginia and it is for them, as well as for the hummingbirds, nuthatches, woodpeckers and owls that I will continue to try to make a garden . This is a progress that has been in progress for twenty years. Although I was not a novice gardener when I started my garden, I made a number of mistakes, such as introducing non-native species to borders that owned more to English cottage gardens in their design than to the American wilderness it was always meant to be. I know no that Chinese wisteria, for example, is a fiercely invasive plant and I also know that there is a correlation between the abundance of non-native species in our gardens and the decline in bird population. The bit of land around my house became an official wildlife habitat last year and I am honour bound to provide food, shelter and water to the the denizens of the sliver of forest that remains in my street.
  2. For the song of the woodthrush, check out You will never forget it.

We are switching to microblogging, what with novels to write, the business of crafts and gardening season just around the corner–we are being very optimistic, metereologiccaky speaking.

The first novel of the series is in the hands of a capable reader. The second and third are nearly plotted. The business of crafts is gasping, but there are big plans afoot for a cooperative effort that should breathe life into it. At present, the garden is a tiny pot planted with cilantro and green onions. High temp today is 30F, low 15F. The poor seedlings need a blanket. The food news is that outdoors, the daffodils have reach an impressive five inches growth and some of the perennials– sweet williams, poppies–have more than a hint of green. Adelante!