onsdag 30 april 2008

Favorite authors

It is quite some time since I read about Simon's favorite authors (A-Z Favourites at Stuck In A). Life has been interfering with my reading and writing but I've been writing mental lists while doing other things. Many of my authors wrote (write) in other languages than English so for a while I was playing with the thought of making two lists - but there are too many other things waiting to be done so I soon gave up that idea. Some letters are harder than others - a few are impossible so I ended up putting more than one name on some letters but no titles as I seldom call an author a favorite unless she/he has written more than one book I like.

A - Claes Andersson (Finnish poet) and Gillian Avery
B - Elsa Beskow (1874 - 1953)
http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/beskow.htm and Margot Benary-Isbert
C - G. K. Chesterton
D - Emily Dickinson
E - Vilhelm Ekelund http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1E1-Ekelund.html
F - Per Anders Fogelström http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Per_Anders_Fogelström
G - Wolfgang von Goethe and Anna Katherine Green
H - Aldous Huxely
I - Henrik Ibsen
J - Jerome K. Jerome
K - Erik Axel Karlfeldt
L - Astrid Lindgren - with the original illustrations! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astrid_Lindgren
M - Betty MacDonald and A. A. Milne
N - Ogden Nash
O - Hilda Olsson (pen name Kerstin Hed)
P - Chaim Potok
Q -
R - Christina Rossetti
S - Nevil Shute
T - David Thoreau
U - Edith Unnerstad
V - Adam Zagajewski
W - E. B . White and Elin Wägner http://www.questia.com/library/encyclopedia/wagner-elin.jsp
X -
Y -
Z - Erik Zetterström (pen name Kar de Mumma) and Beatrice Zade
Å -
Ä -

måndag 28 april 2008

Lucka 2

The same year that Pepys so intrepidly drank his first cup of tea in London, a tax was imposed by the English Parliament of 8 pence (16 cents) upon every gallon of tea made and sold as a beverage in England. A like tax was levied on liquid chocolate and sherbet as articles of sale. Officers visited the Coffee Houses daily to measure the quantities and secure the revenue.
The rare recipe for making tea in those days was known only to the elect, and here it is:
"To a pint of tea, add the yolks of two fresh eggs; then beat them up with as much fine sugar as is sufficient to sweeten the tea, and stir well together. The water must remain no longer upon the tea than while you can chant the Miserere psalm in a leisurely fashion."
"Tea Leaves" by Francis Leggett

söndag 27 april 2008

Red maples

It's a red halo around my red maples. The maples that I smuggled from the States in my hand luggage 25 years ago. I brought five saplings with me — four have survived and are large trees by now. Our endemic maple (Acer platanoides) won't bloom for another week — with light green flowers.

The sun was warm but the wind was chill.
You know how it is with an April day,
When the sun is out and the wind is still,
You're one month on in the middle of May.
But if you so much as dare to speak,
A cloud comes over the sunlit arch,
And wind comes off a frozen peak,
And you're two months back in the middle of March.
Robert Frost
From Two Tramps in Mud Time 1936

onsdag 23 april 2008

Tea on the verandah

Today we had our afternoon tea outside the kitchen door. That is early here on the 60th latitude. I brought out the garden furniture yesterday — which made Åskar very happy. He loves to sit on the table and look out over the river.

tisdag 22 april 2008

Lucka 1

...it's always tea-time...
Lewis Carroll
Alice in Wonderland
Mug Rug Blue Goose (Chen caerulescens)

Baking & reading

Spent most of yesterday in the kitchen — not looking half as feminine and efficient as the woman above.
I made two very unhealthy but yummy cakes. One a standard recipe but the other was new. As so many American recipes it called for insane quantities of sugar which I — as always — cut in half.

I had to get up early today to go to the studio to let in the chimney sweeper. Now, back home it feels much later than it is as I've been up for so long. I'll heat some leftovers for dinner, thank heavens for leftovers, and afterwards I'll return to L. M. Mongomery's Short Stories. Like so many of you I have lost track of how many times I've read her Anne books — but I think I like the books about Emily even better.
The short stories I'm reading for the moment were written before the books about Anne and sometimes I get a feeling that she reused some of them in her Anne-books. Miss Sally and her Juliana in "Miss Sally's Company" reminds me very much of Miss Lavender and her handmaiden Charlotta the Fourth in "Anne of Avonlea".

"Oh, no, no," cried the little lady. "It is a pleasure. I love doing things for people, I wish more of them would come to give me the chance. I never have any company, and I do so long for it. It's very lonesome here at Golden Gate. Oh, if you would only stay to tea with me, it would make me so happy. I am all prepared. I prepare every Saturday morning, in particular, so that if Cousin Abner's girls did come, I would be all ready. And when nobody comes, Juliana and I have to eat everything up ourselves. And that is bad for us—it gives Juliana indigestion. If you would only stay!"
_ _ _

When Miss Sally came back, she was attended by Juliana carrying a tray of lemonade glasses. Juliana proved to be a diminutive lass of about fourteen whose cheerful, freckled face wore an expansive grin of pleasure. Evidently Juliana was as fond of "company" as her mistress was. Afterwards, the girls overheard a subdued colloquy between Miss Sally and Juliana out in the hall.

"Go set the table, Juliana, and put on Grandmother Temple's wedding china—be sure you dust it carefully—and the best tablecloth—and be sure you get the crease straight—and put some sweet peas in the centre—and be sure they are fresh. I want everything extra nice, Juliana."

"Yes'm, Miss Sally, I'll see to it. Isn't it great to have company, Miss Sally?" whispered Juliana.

And this description of Miss Sally and her cottage — so typical for the author — doesn't it make you think of Tasha Tudor?

They reached the little grey house by way of a sloping, grassy lane. Everything about it was very neat and trim. In front a white-washed paling shut in the garden which, sheltered as it was by the house, was ablaze with poppies and hollyhocks and geraniums. A path, bordered by big white clam shells, led through it to the front door, whose steps were slabs of smooth red sandstone from the beach.
_ _ _
She was very small, with an eager, delicately featured face and dark eyes twinkling behind gold-rimmed glasses. She was dressed immaculately in an old-fashioned gown of grey silk with a white muslin fichu crossed over her shoulders, and her silvery hair fell on each side of her face in long, smooth curls that just touched her shoulders and bobbed and fluttered with her every motion; behind, it was caught up in a knot on her head and surmounted by a tiny lace cap.

When I read those books as a child I happily skipped all sunsets, cherry blossoms and rice lilies. All those things that I love to read about now. I'd like to visit P. E. I. but I'm not so sure that I want to visit Green Gables — I think I'll be disappointed — but I would like to see the sunsets, the red roads and all the plants she wrote about that don't grow here.

Some days ago
Nithin wrote this on her blog:
I’ve always wondered what other people do when they come across a word/phrase that they’ve never heard before. I mean, do they jot it down on paper so they can look it up later, or do they stop reading to look it up on the dictionary/google it or do they just continue reading and forget about the word?
I never answered it but it got me thinking. If I read e-books on my laptop it is easy to take notes and look up unknown words. But my computers modern dictionary is not always able to help me if I read older books. Lovely old fashion words require better dictionaries so I usually bring out a Webster and The New Penguin English Dictionary before I sit down. So today I've learnt a handful of maybe not so useful but lovely words and expressions:

  • simper, snuggery, inglenook and canter
  • "You look as if you had a corner in time, Curt,"
  • Sarah was always of a grumbling turn, and she had a brand-new stock of them this time.
  • and she's as poor as second skimmings.
  • Mrs. Theodora Whitney was wont to sigh dolorously

söndag 20 april 2008


When the tea is brought at five o'clock
And all the neat curtains are drawn with care,
The little black cat with bright green eyes
Is suddenly purring there.
Harold Monro (1879-1932)
"Milk for the Cat"
My friend Ann has suggested I put up my Advent calendars on this blog. I haven't decided yet whether I'll do it or not — I have to find them and look at them first. Maybe the tea theme to justify the blog's name.... You have to wait while I think it over, meanwhile I'll put up some of "luckorna" (the windows) that never made it to the calendar, as today's verse.

I don't understand why the links don't work - I did as I've always done but they don't come out as supposed......

Illustration by Oscar Pletsch


When I go to tea with the little Smiths, there are eight of them there, but there's only one of me,
Which makes it not so easy to have a fancy tea-party as if there were two or three.
I had a tea-party on my birthday, but Joe Smith says it can't have been a regular one,
Because as to a tea-party with only one teacup and no teapot, sugar-basin, cream-jug, or slop-basin, he never heard of such a thing under the sun.
But it was a very big teacup, and quite full of milk and water, and, you see,
There wasn't anybody there who could really drink milk and water except Towser and me.
The dolls can only pretend, and then it washes the paint off their lips,
And what Charles the canary drinks isn't worth speaking of, for he takes such very small sips.
Joe says a kitchen-chair isn't a table; but it has got four legs and a top, so it would be if the back wasn't there;
And that does for Charles to perch on, and I have to put the Prince of Wales to lean against it, because his legs have no joints to sit on a chair.
That's the small doll. I call him the Prince of Wales because he's the eldest son, you see;
For I've taken him for my brother, and he was Mother's doll before I was born, so of course he is older than me.
Towser is my real live brother, but I don't think he's as old as the Prince of Wales;
He's a perfect darling, though he whisks everything over he comes near, and I tell him I don't know what we should do if we all had tails.
His hair curls like mine in front, and grows short like a lion behind, but no one need be frightened, for he's as good as good;
And as to roaring like a real menagerie lion, or eating people up, I don't believe he would if he could.
He has his tea out of the saucer after I've had mine out of the cup;
You see I am sure to leave some for him, but if I let him begin first he would drink it all up.
The big doll Godmamma gave me this birthday, and the chair she gave me the year before.
(I haven't many toys, but I take great care of them, and every birthday I shall have more and more.)
You've no idea what a beautiful doll she is, and when I pinch her in the middle, she can squeak;
It quite frightened Towser, for he didn't know that any of us but he and I and Charles were able to speak.
I've taken her for my only sister, for of course I may take anybody I choose;
I've called her Cinderella, because I'm so fond of the story, and because she's got real shoes.
I don't feel so only now there are so many of us; for, counting Cinderella there are five,—
She, and I, and Towser, and Charles, and the Prince of Wales—and three of us are really alive;
And four of us can speak, and I'm sure the Prince of Wales is wonderful for his size;
For his things (at least he's only got one thing) take off and on, and, though he's nothing but wood, he's got real glass eyes.
And perhaps in three birthdays more there may be as many of us as the Smiths, for five and three make eight;
I shall be seven years old then (as old as Joe), but I don't like to think too much of it, it's so long to wait.
And after all I don't know that I want any more of us: I think I'd rather my sister had a chair
Like mine; and the next year I should like a collar for Towser if it wouldn't rub off his hair.
And it would be very nice if the Prince of Wales could be dressed like a Field-marshal, for he's got nothing on his legs;
And Cinderella's beautifully dressed, and Towser looks quite as if he'd got a fur coat on when he begs.
Joe says it's perfectly absurd, and that I can't take a Pomeranian in earnest for my brother;
But I don't think he really and truly knows how much Towser and I love each other.
I didn't like his saying, "Well, there's one thing about your lot,—you can always have your own way."
And then he says, "You can't possibly have fun with four people when you have to pretend what they say."
But, whatever he says, I don't believe I shall ever enjoy a tea-party more than the one that we had on that day.

from Songs for Music by Juliana Horatia Ewing Gatty, 1841- 1885

fredag 18 april 2008


Blue Squills
How many million Aprils came
Before I ever knew
How white a cherry bough could be,
A bed of squills, how blue!
00000000 Sara Teasdale

I was walking along the river today and thinking of all past Springs in my life — forgotten as well as those well remembered. They melt together into one fragrant Spring full of sunshine and birds song with some streaks of bitter sweet memories.

I just read my friend Maitri's blog Magic & Moments at Dragonfly Cottage. I'm not a writer and I only have one cat — but what a cat! — but how familiar her thoughts on writing are. I write mental masterpieces when I'm walking, cooking or working in the garden — but do you think I'm able to get it down on paper, or the screen, when I finally sit down. The big difference is that I'm not so sure that I look like a normal person when I compose my imperishable literary opus.

This morning when I was pleasently floating in and out of a now forgotten dream, it occured to me that I haven't left a link to Soup's Onso here it is.

torsdag 17 april 2008

Project Gutenberg

I don't spend much time online with one exception, Project Gutenberg. There are enough to keep me busy for the rest of my life — and probably for two or three more lives.
I love the mix of books they offer; there are books about everything you can imagine and quite a few I couldn't imagine. Slavery and Four Years of War, Vol. 1-2, Wood-Carving Design and Workmanship, The Essentials of Spirituality, English Walnuts — What You Need to Know about Planting, Cultivating and Harvesting This Most Delicious of Nuts and McGuffey's Eclectic Spelling Book are only a few.
The border above is from Handbook of Embroidery by L. Higgin.
Books that are not available in other places at least not in Sweden — can be found at Gutenberg. I don't know how many years I've been trying to find a copy of Marie Bashkirtseff's diary — at least for 30 years. Gutenberg has it!
But I have to admit that I prefer to read real books. I've heard about a "thing" smaller than a computer you can use to read e-books but nobody I ask has heard about it.

tisdag 15 april 2008

Ragnhilds franska korintbröd


I have no idea who Ragnhild was - but whoever she was she knew how to make a loaf. We toasted this bread and had it with our tea - it is very good.

500 gr all-purpose flour
100 gr currants
100 gr raisin
125 gr butter
3 eggs
½ tsp salt
30 gr yeast

Mix the flour with the melted butter and the eggs and stir it thoroughly. Dissolve the yeast in 150 ml water and add it and the salt to the dough. Add raisins and currants and work the dough at least 15 minutes. Put it in a greased and "breaded" loaf pan. Let rise for about 2 hours. Bake.

I'm not very good at following recipes but I tried hard today. The only thing I substituted was the currants (can I still call it current bread?) as I didn't have any and it is impossible to get them in my small town. The dough is very soft and sticky - it needs to be kneeded 15 minutes (by hand) or even more. I think I left the machine running for close to 10 minutes. I wasn't quite sure what kind and size of pan to use but ended up using a 2 liter loaf pan, next time I think I'll use two 1½ liter pans. We seldom flour our pans but if you don't have breadcrumbs do as you're used. I baked it for 40 minutes in 200° C.

There are many excellent convertsions calculators online - I often use http://www.worldwidemetric.com/metcal.html

Reading or baking that's the question

I meant to try a recipe from Faster Ingeborgs anteckningsbok yesterday — but the day disappeared before I got to the kitchen. Instead I ended up at the library to spend some time with one of my former art students. She has moved to England is but is visiting her family this week.
My taste in books is so odd that when the library want to get rid of books nobody borrows — or nobody wants to buy, they ask if I want them. So I came home with two autobiographies. Both are written in Swedish by women, one born in 1870 and the other in 1914 — both are unknown to me. I have to admit that I'd rather spend the day reading but I have some ingredients that will walk out of the fridge by themselves unless I use them today. So I'm off to the kitchen.

måndag 14 april 2008

Soup's On

I've almost made up my mind - and here is my list of cook books.

AMISH COOKING, the foreword tells us that the books recipes are taken from "Favorite Amish Family Recipes" and from the recipe page of Family Life. I treasure the book as it is a gift from my Amish friend Naomi. She has written comments in the book like: "we made quite a bit of this last winter", "this looks like our recipe - is a family favorite", "this is the bread recipe I use" or "remember this one?!". The last comment about a cake we made together once.
SCHWEIZER KÜCHENSPEZIALITÄTEN, a Swiss old fashion cook book - no pictures and hardly any instructions.

"the adventurous VEGETARIAN" by Colin Spencer. A British book I have had for quite a while but not tried any of the recipes. It has lovely water color illustrations as well as beautiful photos of the dishes.

"A PROPER TEA" by Joanna Isles. Another beautiful books with water color illustrations by the author.

FASTER INGEBORGS ANTECKNINGSBOK - Aunt Ingeborg's notebook. Ingeborg was my mother's aunt born in 1878. She taught home economy in the beginning of the last century. I have her collection of recipes, several notebooks and index cards filled with recipes. This book I'll use here is a simple exercise book with black cover.

I still have to make up my mind about the last book. I know that I want to review one of the many books from Project Gutenberg but can't decide which one. There are plenty of vegetarian books and as a vegetarian I find them all interesting if a bit boring so I might take one of the very old ones instead.
I've also decided to start an English blog - something I've told my English speaking friends I'm never going to do... but I have a feeling that most of you would prefer English over Swedish.