Monday, August 30, 2010

The Bath

Here is one more painting that I loved from the Birth of Impressionism exhibit. Belgian artist Alfred Stevens painted this portrayal of a woman relaxing in her bath. Surprisingly, this painting created a scandal when it was displayed in 1867, despite the fact that the woman is not even nude.

The pocketwatch in the white soap holder, the white roses, the open book, and the woman's expression all invite speculation as to the meaning of this particular moment. Is the woman an indulgent, romantic dreamer lost in thought? Or a bored, too-pampered borgeoise? Or a mistress pondering her next rendez-vous with her lover? Perhaps it's the ambiguity of the painting that captured my attention.

Either way, it makes me want to steep my body in a hot bath.

Birth of Impressionism Exhibit in San Francisco

This weekend, my husband and I took a delightful trip with friends to the De Young Museum in San Francisco to view the Birth of Impressionism exhibit. The first of a two part exhibition, this first half focused on the French state-approved Salon art, then gradually introduces pieces by the radical Impressionist group.
The Salon art sought to edify and educate the public by depicting straightforward religious and mythological themes. Women’s bodies were idealized, flaws were invisible, men were noble and legendary. Ironically, I did not recognize any of the Salon art, which has fallen from fame today. Instead, the modern art lover recognizes the work of the rebels of the day - the group of artists called the Impressionists. An art critic dismissed an early presentation of their work by calling them "just a bunch of impressionists" and the name stuck.
The Impressionists sought to convey their a private perception of reality rather than the solid, photographic-like representations of Salon-approved paintings. Common scenes of everyday life became the source of "high art" as subject matter the Salon deemed "coarse" was captured and immortalized on canvas. Varying degrees of light and diverse weather were favorite points of interest, and the artists would often paint outdoors, presenting the same scene in a variety of seasons and at different times of day.
I have always favored Monet since viewing much of his work and home while studying abroad in France. This visit taught me much more about his Monet’s fellow artists including Manet and Cezanne, along with their favored subject matters and individual painting styles.
Renoir was quoted as saying that he liked to paint scenes you wish you could step into and walk around in! That’s just how I feel about scenes like this:

I find myself liking the art of Pisarro more and more, with his focus on the connection between agriculture and society, people and the land, nature and beauty.
I was also impressed to find that a female Impressionist artist named Berthe Morisot was well respected amongst her peers for her ability to capture the domestic scenes that were familiar to her as a woman in that time period such as the maternal scene below.

If you get a chance, be sure to visit the exhibit while it's still there. Coming soon is Part II - I look forward to it very much!

Friday, August 27, 2010

A Secret Love Confessed

I am a lover of beauty in all forms. I love dance and over the years have taken classes in jazz, ballet, tap, clogging, Irish dance, folk dance, modern, hip hop, Latin, and ballroom dance.

My favorite is still ballet. I have neither the correct physical form nor the proper technique to excel at this strict discipline, but I still love it. Maybe it’s ok to love things you’re only mediocre at, to love them for the way they make you feel. When music and motion are in unison, I feel a freedom of expression that has been hard to find elsewhere.

I’m out of school now, dance classes have ended, and I haven’t danced in a long while. Dance classes cost big money and aren’t an option right now. But last night after a tedious day at work, I turned on some music and slowly did my old dancing stretches in my living room. It felt wonderful to loosen my tight, desk-bound muscles. It occurred to me that maybe I need to stop focusing on my restrictions and celebrate what my body still loves to do more often.

What do you do because you love how it makes you feel?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Vegetable Chickpea Curry

Photo courtesy of Cooking Light

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a slow cooker is a working (wo)man’s best friend. However, many slow cooker recipes yield a boring chunk of meat that has been cooked in its own fat for several hours. Or maybe small chunks of cooked meat. In a sauce. There's nothing wrong with comfort food. Yet sometimes you want more than a hunk of meat for dinner, especially if you (like me) observe Meatless Monday or are attempting to lower your overall consumption of meat.

So off I went, scouring the Internet for a good meatless slow cooker recipe. Cooking Light came through for me once again, and I found this amazing recipe. The texture of the vegetables comes out perfectly done, not mushy at all, and the flavors are vibrant. Serve with brown basmati rice and a squeeze of lemon, and you’ve got yourself a tasty meatless dinner, packed with protein, fiber and of course, excellent flavor.
Vegetable Chickpea Curry

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 1/3 cups vegetable mixture and 1 lemon wedge)


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 cups chopped onion

1 cup (1/4-inch-thick) slices carrot

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 serrano chile, seeded and minced

3 cups cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

1 1/2 cups cubed peeled baking potato

1 cup diced green bell pepper

1 cup (1-inch) cut green beans

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained

1 (14-ounce) can vegetable broth

3 cups fresh baby spinach

1 cup light coconut milk

6 lemon wedges


Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and carrot; cover and cook 5 minutes or until tender. Add curry powder, sugar, ginger, garlic, and chile; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Place onion mixture in a 5-quart electric slow cooker. Stir in chickpeas and next 8 ingredients (through broth). Cover and cook on HIGH 6 hours or until vegetables are tender. Add spinach and coconut milk; stir until spinach wilts. Serve with lemon wedges.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fall Reading

Who says that reading lists are only for summer? Here are some of my ideas for fall reading.

The Spice Necklace: Remember how I was promised this book for free? I finally received a copy by mail from Houghton Mifflin a couple weeks ago. I have only read a few pages, yet already the exotic descriptions of life in the Caribbean are making my mouth water and appealing to my sense of adventure. I am all about vicarious living, and can’t wait to read more... especially since I could use one last summer vacation.

Tess of the D’Urbervilles: I recently reviewed my goals for the year and remembered that I still have one great classic novel left to read in order to meet my goal of three for 2010. I chose this one, which has long sat on my shelf. I confess that in all of the British Literature classes I took in college, I never was assigned anything by Hardy. Once the weather turns chill, I look forward to a warm cup of tea and a walk with Thomas Hardy through the vicissitudes of Victorian England. When I finish, I will reward myself with a viewing of the 2008 BBC version. Lovely!

The Help: This story of the complex relationships between white residents of Jackson, Mississippi and their black domestic servants in the 1960's has completely absorbed me. I checked out the audio book from my library and am about halfway through. I look forward my daily commute because I know I can listen to the next part unfold. (It doesn't get better than that, does it?) The storytelling is excellent and I feel like I am immersed in the middle of every personal conflict, not to mention the Civil Rights Movement. I am pummelling through it and plan to finish soon.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Lost Art of Letter Writing

I am grateful every day for e-mail, blogs and Facebook for allowing me to stay in contact with my many faraway friends.

However, sometimes it’s nice to write hand-written letter to a friend or family member. Children are especially fun to write to because they get so excited when they receive mail. Older folks often love receiving letters as well because they tend to be less comfortable with technology.

I enjoy the physical act of writing something tangible and tactile, something with aesthetic appeal that can be taken out and re-read in years to come. I am learning to use a calligraphy pen and though my skills are still rudimentary, I enjoy dabbling in the long-lost art of penmanship. I always notice how students of the older generation have such gorgeous signatures, due to the mandatory handwriting grade implemented in the past. I fear no one will want to read scribble-scrabble in future generations, so here’s to bringing back proper penmanship and the art of letter writing.

Lost Art of Letter Writing

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fruity Fish Tacos

I still remember the first time my mom got a copy of Taste of Home magazine in the mail. At age 12, my main source of cooking advice was my mom's weathered, checkered copy of the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. I had made pretty good headway through that staple and was hungry for more.

I poured through the pages of this new magazine publication, taking in the comforting photos and enticing recipes. I recall one of the main themes was cherries, served all different kinds of ways. I had never seen a food magazine before, and the idea of a monthly source of new material for my culinary experimentation thrilled me.

Nowadays, I lean more towards the fresh, the whole foods, and varied ethnic influences. Often my impulse is to shy away from the heavier, convenience-oriented, processed recipes that tend to compose the pages of Taste of Home. Still, I still enjoy getting my copy each month since my mom got me a subscription for Christmas. Every now and then I find something worth investigating, and this one was killer: a light, fruity fish taco. It was a fantastic use for the dorado my husband caught on a recent fishing trip down in Baja California. Gone are the deep-fried nuggets, the cabbage slaw traditionally found in fish taco recipes. We made this version when we had company for dinner and everyone adored them.

Fruity Fish Tacos
Adapted from Taste of Home


1 medium mango, peeled and cubed
1/2 cup cubed avocado
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 tbsp chopped and seeded jalapeno pepper
1 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
3 tsp olive oil, divided
1 tsp lemon juice

1 lb halibut steaks, 3/4" thick (or other firm white fish)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Shredded Bib lettuce
4 flour tortillas, 6", warmed
4 tsp sweet Thai chili sauce

In a small bowl, combine the mango, avocado, onion, jalapeno, cilantro, 2 tsp oil, and lemon juice; set aside. Brush halibut with remaining oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Coat grill rack with cooking spray before starting the grill. Grill halibut covered, over high heat or broil 3-4" from the heat for 3-5 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Place lettuce leaves on tortillas. Top with fish and mango mixture. Drizzle with chili sauce.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Squeezing the Last Drops From Summer

Summer in Sacramento usually means 101 degree days followed by nights that retain the heat of the day. Because the weather has been unusually mild (high 80's, low 90's), I find myself towards the end of summer without having really felt like it was summer at all. Now I’m seeing kids go back to school and wondering where the time went.

Nevertheless, since I’m not in school anymore, I am giving myself the license to squeeze the last drops out of summer for a while yet. Here is what I plan on accomplishing yet this summer:

*3 more BBQs (2 this week, 1 next week)

*A trip to the Davis Farmer’s Market, where I will purchase my worms to kickstart my Worm Factory (vermicomposting device). I have come to the realization that Sacramento weather, even at its mildest, is still too extreme to keep the worms outside, which means I'm going to have to share my habitat with them. Living with worms- a true test of my desire to be green!

*Finish Madame Bovary (the last novel left on my original summer reading list)

*A look at Mars on August 27th from 10pm-3am (Science web sites say it will appear as a bright red pinprick of light. Maybe I’ll even see a shooting star while I’m looking!)

*A trip to San Francisco for lunch and museum-going with good friends

*Lastly, a day trip to the Sonoma-area for small town exploration, farmer’s market, Wild Flour Bread, and dining at cafés

Any other must-do summer suggestions?

Friday, August 13, 2010

Walking with Books

Keira Knightly, as Ms. Elizabeth Bennett, takes a stroll through her estate

The weather is surprisingly cool in Sacramento of late, particularly in the mornings and evenings, and the breeze carries the promise of fall weather. Now that the sun is less scorching, I start to think about going on walks.

It seems like many of my favorite movies feature heroines who favor long walks in the countryside, often with book in hand. From "Anne of Green Gables" to "Becoming Jane", I favor the literary-inclined, intelligent female lead. Of course, there’s always "Pride and Prejudice", where the swelling piano music plays while the sun rises over a gorgeous English landscape. When fall comes, perhaps I will make a point to take a jaunt through the countryside for a little leisurely reading. What book or type of book would be ideal to read in such a setting?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Light Chicken Enchiladas

We lighten up a diet bomb- enchiladas!

Last night, our mission was to make light enchiladas. This dish is generally a diet bomb, consisting of large pellets filled with red meat and cheese floating in an ocean of salty sauce. Or, if you’re like my mom and favor the white chicken version, the sauce consists mostly of sour cream and processed Campbell’s soup!

Our version started with home-style white corn tortillas from a nearby market, which we filled with shredded chicken breast, black beans, and sauteed bell peppers. We made our own sauce from scratch to cut down the salt, and sprinkled our filled tortillas with just a handful of shredded cheese. After 25 minutes in the oven at 375, our light enchiladas were ready, and very good. Our Mexican craving was satiated without bulging our bellies.

Here is the recipe I used for homemade enchilada sauce, which can be ready in 10 minutes. If you want it mild, I suggest using mild chilies.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies, undrained
1/2 cup onion, chopped
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1 clove garlic, minced

Combine all tomato sauce ingredients and place in a blender. Puree ingredients. Then place in a saucepan. Heat over medium heat until heated through, about 5 minutes. Use as desired for enchiladas.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Healthy Stuffed Zucchini

A not very good picture of Stuffed Zucchini. Blame Food Network for this one.

Continuing my "light fare" theme for the week, my sister-in-law Chelsea recently introduced me to a light version of stuffed zucchini. This recipe comes from Ellie Krieger, the host of "Healthy Appetite" on Food Network, and it is amazing!

Instead of the typical heavy meat and cheese filling, Ellie bulks up a little meat with cooked bulgur (you'll never know it's in there), and adds tons of Mediterranean flavor with spices, currents and pine nuts. I loved this recipe! You can use the filling in any summer squash, bell peppers, or even eggplant. We weren't sure what this would taste like, but even my husband, sworn enemy of raisins, commented that the currents add a nice sweet note to the filling.

Note: To cook bulgur, simply mix one part bulgur with two parts boiling water, cover and let sit for about 10 minutes.

Stuffed Zucchini

6 medium zucchini

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small chopped onion (about 1 cup)

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

1/2 pound lean ground beef (at least 90 percent lean)

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 (14.5 ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, strained and juice reserved (about 3/4 to 1 cup juice)

1 cup cooked bulgur (1/3 cup uncooked)

3 tablespoons dried currants

3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted in a dry skillet over a medium-high flame for 2 minutes

1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves

1/2 cup low-sodium tomato sauce

1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Cut each zucchini in half crosswise. Using a melon baller, carefully scoop out zucchini flesh, leaving about 1/4 inch flesh intact on all sides and leaving zucchini closed at the bottom of each half. Reserve zucchini flesh for another use, or discard. Reserve zucchini tubes.

3. Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion sand cook, stirring, until they are soft and translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes more. Add ground beef, cumin, coriander and red pepper flakes and cook until meat is just done and no longer pink, 4 to 5 minutes. Add bulgur, and diced tomatoes and currants and cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in pine nuts and parsley. Let mixture cool slightly, about 5 minutes. Using a small spoon or clean hands, gently stuff zucchini halves with beef-mixture.

4. Place zucchini halves in a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish. Combine reserved tomato juice, tomato sauce and salt and pour over zucchini. Cover tightly with foil and place in oven. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, uncover and rotate zucchini. Re-cover, return dish to oven and bake an additional 20 to 25 minutes, until zucchini is cooked through but still slightly firm. Place 2 zucchini halves on a plate and serve with tomato sauce.

Light Italian-Style Breaded Chicken

Courtesy of Cooking Light

After several half-hearted recent attempts at slimming down, I decided to pull a tried and true trick out of the hat, one that began as a competition amongst college roommates. Back in the days of the Freshmen 10 (pounds), I competed against my 5 roommates to see which girl could go the longest without sweets.

I won.

Reasoning that if I did it once, I can do it again, I declared on Monday that this week would be dessert-free, sweets-free, and (as much as possible) low sugar in general. I also wanted to try some healthier recipes. Several have been very good, and so of course I would like to share with you, readers!

The first one comes from Cooking Light- a breaded Italian-style chicken. The chicken comes out with an excellent flavor and perfectly cooked. Browning in the pan and finishing in the oven is a brilliant solution to my frequent under- and over-cooking meat. I have also used the same method with fish fillets and different herbs with wonderful results. Squeeze a little lemon over it, and bon appetit!

Light Italian-Style Breaded Chicken

2 (1 1/2-ounce) bread slices

4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup (1 ounce) finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1 1/2 teaspoons dried rosemary, crushed

1 1/2 teaspoons dried marjoram

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 large egg

Cooking spray

4 teaspoons olive oil, divided

4 lemon wedges

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Tear bread into pieces. Place bread in a food processor; pulse until breadcrumbs measure about 1 3/4 cups.

3. Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap, and pound chicken to 1/2-inch thickness using a meat mallet or small heavy skillet.

4. Place flour in a shallow dish. Combine breadcrumbs, cheese, and next 4 ingredients (through pepper) in a second shallow dish. Combine milk and egg in a third shallow dish, stirring with a whisk. Working with 1 breast half at a time, dredge chicken in flour, shaking off excess. Dip into egg mixture; dredge in breadcrumb mixture, pressing to coat evenly on both sides. Place chicken on a large plate. Repeat procedure with remaining breast halves, flour, egg mixture, and breadcrumb mixture; refrigerate for 30 minutes.

5. Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray; add 2 teaspoons olive oil, swirling to coat. Add 2 breast halves to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned. Place on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Lightly coat chicken with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil and remaining breast halves. Bake at 375° for 12 minutes or until a thermometer registers 165°. Serve with lemon wedges.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Simple Bruschetta

Question: Could there be a dish more expressive of the explosion of summer flavors that occurs when blazing sun meets fertile earth than a simple bruschetta? (I had a college roommate whose father once lived in Italy, and she informed me that it was pronounced "broos- KET-uh". But I guess it's tomayto, tomahto.)

This week, a friend gave me a few of her amazingly sweet vine-ripened tomatoes. I knew my husband would love it if I made this Italian classic for him. We even had some fresh basil growing in our herb box which matched brilliantly with the tomatoes. The only tricky part about this simple dish is making sure it is served immediately to prevent the juices from the tomatoes making the bread soggy. I'll share the method of my bruschetta madness, but will leave out specific measurements, as the amounts are flexible.

Simple Bruschetta

1. Preheat oven to 450F.
2. Remove the juicy seedy parts from tomatoes and finely chop. Combine in a bowl with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a splash of balsamic vinegar, thinly sliced basil leaves, sea salt and a few grinds of pepper.
3. Cut ciabatta bread into slices and place on a cookie sheet. Toast for about 5 minutes at 450F.
4. Rub a halved clove of garlic over the top of the bread slices. Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the toasts with some extra virgin olive oil.
5. Top toasts with tomato mixture just before serving.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Taking a Trip to Paris

Where would you go this summer if money were no concern? One popular European destination, the city of Paris, is nearly deserted by August when the locals head to the beach for the famous French month-long summer vacation. Maybe I would fancy a trip to Paris...
So I'm going to take a trip to Paris by reading a book written by David Lebowitz (who also writes a killer blog, by the by). This novel chronicles the former Chez Panisse chef's move to the City of Lights, his struggle to adjust to the often ridiculous and prickly way of the locals, and most of all, 50 delicious recipes including his acclaimed dulce de leche brownies. Yum!
Where will reading take you this summer?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Zucchini Bread with Pineapple

We are at the height of zucchini madness. Squash flourishes in the summer heat and many home gardeners find themselves heavy laden with an excess of zucchini this time of year. The best solution to this overabundance, in my opinion, is zucchini bread.
Here is a new recipe that I found for a slightly different version than the ordinary bread I made growing up. (Thank, Simplyrecipes!) Studded with raisins, nuts and crushed pineapple, and laced with aromatic spices, I loved this bread. It also uses olive oil instead of vegetable oil. In fact, with fruit, vegetable, nuts, good fats, antioxidant-rich spices- this is pretty much a health food. :-) So feel free to grow as much zucchini as you can next year.
Zucchini Bread with Pineapple
3 eggs
1 cup olive oil
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups coarsely grated zucchini
1 can (8oz) crushed pineapple, drained
3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 cup raisins


1 Preheat oven to 350°F. In a mixer, beat eggs. Add oil, sugar, and vanilla; continue beating mixture until thick and foamy. With a spoon, stir in the zucchini and pineapple.
2 In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. A third at a time, add dry ingredients into wet and gently stir (by hand) after each addition. Add the walnuts and raisins, blend gently.
3 Divide the batter equally between 2 greased and flour-dusted 5 by 9 inch loaf pans. Bake for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in to the center comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks to cool thoroughly.
Makes 2 loaves.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The State Fair Strikes Again

Chocolate Covered Bacon
The State Fair is a lifelong tradition with my family. This year, I didn't eat as much as I usually do (this was a conscious effort, by the way, a natural sign of aging) but I did devour half of a funnel cake and timidly test one of the newer products, chocolate covered bacon. (It tasted like cold salty chocolate.)

Besides the food, I acquired two new items/services that I'm excited about.

Number one: Worm Factory 360. This multi-level vermicomposting unit is a gift from my dad to replace the plastic bin we're currently using, with the stipulation that we fix his yard in the spots where the dog has "left her mark" shall we say.
Number two: CSA box! With $10 off our first box and no obligation, we decided to finally go ahead and try a CSA (community supported agriculture) program, located in the local Capay Valley. Since it's summer, the farm is in full production. For example, this week, the Valley box (all produced on their own farm) includes muskmelon, peaches, plums, nectarines, squash, 3 kinds of tomatoes, lettuce, basil, onion, and chard. Sounds delicious! I can't wait to have my first box arrive on our doorstep.

This year's garden hasn't been as productive as we dreamed (should have used compost and not just plain soil! Oh well) so the CSA will be a welcome supplement for our meager harvest.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Blackberry Picking

When berries arrive, you know that summer is in full swing. We went blackberry picking this weekend, amazed at the prospect of free food growing wild along the streets of our hometown.

After a half hour or so of foraging, we fully understood why berries command such a steep price at the grocery store. Thorns had scraped and poked our fingers, arms and legs; territorial ants had protested our thievery; and juices from the berries had leaked all over our hands, staining them the color of blood. Berry picking was free, but it wasn't easy.

The experience reminded me of a poem I studied in high school Literature class- "Blackberry Piking" by renowned Irish poet Seamus Heaney. I thought I would share it with you. To me, it evokes quintessential summer memories of childhood, as well as bittersweet sadness at the transitory nature of youth and innocence.

Blackberry Picking
by Seamus Heaney

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard's.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.