Lithuanian rye bread and banana bread
Saturday, March 18 2023
The New York Times Spelling Bee was brutal this morning as we solved it in front of a blazing fire in the woodstove. One of the three panagrams was "capacitor" ("patriotic" and "apricot" were the others), but neither of us could get to better than the "amazing" level, and even after we merged our results we were three points below "genius." Clearly there were some big words we were missing.
Early this afternoon Gretchen and I drove with the dogs down to Blackbird Infoshop & Café to meet up with Fern (our most-recent housesitter) and her mother Jean for coffee and snacks. As always, the café was pretty much empty except for the guy who runs the place, who still insists that everyone wear masks. There was one person there working on a laptop and drinking something, but that was it. We set up at a table and let the dogs get up on the couch. Nearly all the savory food was gone, so were left with things like ginger cookies and little pastries with strawberry filling and the one remaining croissant.
Conversation started out with Jean telling us how she came to be a therapist. Back in the 1970s in Australia, some neighbor of hers didn't approve of the way she was raising her child (Fern's older sister) and gave her a book about therapy that piqued her interest. These days, though, she mostly works as an advisor to other therapists. So then Gretchen wanted some advice on her role as a therapist (which comes up a lot in her friendships), as she feels she emphasizes giving advice too much while not working hard enough to provide a sounding board and guiding people to make their own health decisions. She especially wanted help with talking her brother through things. [REDACTED]
Meanwhile a couple young women had come into the café, and at some point they went around the room to look at the art hanging on the wall. This brought them near Ramona and Neville. Initially they were nervous that the dogs might bite them, but when Ramona showed what a lover she is, it wasn't long before they were scratching her head and taking selfies with her. Later Neville waddled up to their table to get his round of appreciation as well. But of course Ramona had to get up and barge into that lovefest for a second round.
The next errand Gretchen and I wanted to run was to Adams Fairacre Farms over on 9W to get provisions that are impossible to find at Hannaford. On the way, we followed Fern and Jean to Fern's AirBnB on the Rondout so they could give us a chunk of banana bread they were insisting that we take. We were there only briefly, but it was long enough for Jean to point out the blooming crocuses and have me identify a hawk she'd photographed (she loves birding and has a ultra-zoom camera similar to mine). I quickly decided it was a sharp-shinned hawk, though I suggested Jean try Google Images to see what its classifying artificial intelligence thought.
Adams was bustling, as it always seems to be whenever we go there. Gretchen main goal there was to get produce, as the selection at Hannaford is bad enough to lead Gretchen to wonder if perhaps the problem is the ongoing (and perhaps never-ending) agricultural crisis in California. By contrast, the bounty at Adams was exhilarating. Not only did they have the usual vegetables we consider staples, but they had exotics like cactus pears, taro root, and even sugar cane. Another feature was that the prices on their produce were great; even the organic veggies were priced to sell. But the truth of the matter was that we were in a mood to spend money. I bought a paper bag full of shitake mushrooms at $12/pound. And when we saw a loaf of caraway-seed-free "Lithuanian" rye bread for $15, I said we had to get it, even though the only reason I wanted it was that I'd never seen a $15 loaf of bread in my entire life. (Yes, I recognize how stupid it is to buy something only because it is expensive.) Other things we got included a fat bag of huge burrito tortillas (which are impossible to find at a Hannaford) and a bag of pita bread. We also got more coffe (both regular and decaf) as the coffee we'd been drinking had started to taste old.
A short fat woman was our cashier as we were checking out. As we joked about the $15 loaf of bread, she said she is on a strict diet and can't eat any bread at all. But, she said, the diet is working, and she's already lost 20 pounds. She noted that she hadn't seen us before and wondered if we were new to Adams. Gretchen explained that we do come to Adams occasionally, but it's just a little out of the way for our driving patterns. But, based on the bounty we'd bought today, we'd definitely be coming back more often. Our grocery cart full of fresh produce and a number of expensive items only came to about $180, which was less than expected.
When we returned to our car, Gretchen was horrified to see that the container that had recently contained the banana bread just given to us by Fern was now empty. She'd hidden it away beneath the passenger seat, but somehow one of the dogs (almost certainly Neville) had managed to get it.
Back at the house, Gretchen and I had light lupper of salad made with fresh lettuce, lentil soup we'd just bought (it was surprisingly good) and toasted pieces of Lithuanian rye bread. The later was denser than conventional leavened bread and was very good, though I don't think it was worth $15.
Neville and Ramona at Blackbird Infoshop & Café today. Click to enlarge.
There is some stuff for kids to play with while their caregivers are drinking cofee. Click to enlarge.
We only had once leash, so we had to borrow a piece of rope from the back of Fern's truck to leash Ramona. Click to enlarge.
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