Saturday morning: another dark and chilly start outside, but I am lolling here in my couch corner, bathrobed and hot-coffeed and exceedingly comfortable. You're probably bored stiff by my endless marvel over all mod cons, but after Harmony I never can seem to take them for granted. Yesterday, as I was washing a batch of very dirty carrot tops before making pesto with them, I was thinking about how wonderful it is to have a constant stream of clean water (hot and cold!) bursting conveniently from taps around the house. No breaking the ice on an outside pump! No lugging pails! No heating up boilers on the stove! And as much as I want of it, day or night!
Of course I had running water and electricity in Harmony, but something was always going wrong with them for days on end; and I also got very used to the issues of my off-the-grid friends and of my shallow-dug-well friends--it was a regular thing for elderly widows to have no running water to their trailers during the dry summer months; for woods people to deal with frozen water lines in their spring-fed systems. So many people were wrestling with busted generators and no indoor plumbing, and here I am now, in the city, with my furnace and my enthusiastic water pressure. I'm sorry, but I can't stop being amazed. I think I will always be a rube.
By the way, that carrot-top pesto came out very well. I don't generally bother using the carrot tops during high summer; there's so much basil then, and the flavor of carrot tops is much less sparkly. But this time of year, after frost, when every green thing is precious, carrot-top pesto is a treat. I mixed it into a fricassee of chicken legs, onions, garlic, peppers, and a couple of house-ripened tomatoes, then stirred in a bit of parmesan as an emulsifier, and the result was a beautiful bright creamy sauce that I served over couscous and alongside a salad of kale, carrots, and radishes. Here it is November, and I am still pulling together these kinds of meals from my little kitchen garden. It seems miraculous, everything seems miraculous, I mean, look at that running water! (Feel free to kick me.)
This weekend I've got to focus on digging up my frosted dahlias, tearing out the dead annuals, raking leaves, and such. I've also got to make black cake . . . yes, the time has arrived, yet again, for me to resurrect Emily Dickinson's recipe. It is my family duty. They would be very disappointed without it.
I'm also going to start digging into a book I found in one of those free little libraries I haunt: Fanny Burney's The Wanderer; or Female Difficulties, a fat and sprawling Gothic romance published in 1814 that may turn out to be unreadable, but I could not resist the title.