Sunday, June 16, 2019

I have been watching political television today – both the Andrew Mar show in the morning, which I record on Sundays such as this one when I go to Mass; and the debate this evening, at least some of it. How fortunate we are (as someone said here recently) that the Prime Minister is not Head of State. I think there are many who disapprove of the Royals without quite appreciating that point.

I got another batch of kimchi made. The great thing about kimchi, I decided, is that one feels, while chopping and blending and brining and making rice-flour porridge – one feels, on the basis of sixty years in the kitchen, that the next step is going to be cooking. And it isn’t. One just crams the stuff into jars and leaves God to do the cooking (=fermenting).

(The one on the right is last week's batch. As you can perhaps see, the new jars aren't quite as full, and probably won't hiss in that exciting way.)

Political television is good for knitting, because you don’t really have to look at it very much. I did another six rows of Spring Shawl, and that’s quite a lot at the present stitch count. I have reached the fourth rank of lace diamonds – there are to be seven in all. That’s not as good as it sounds, because of the ever-widening triangle, but it’s better than nothing. And I think the first ball of yarn is beginning to look a bit poorly.


The Forsyth Saga is not a bad idea, Mary Lou. I’ve never read it.

Shandy, I can’t believe that the Pickwick Papers (never read them) and Hard Times (not sure) could be as bad as Silas Marner, which is what we had to read at Asbury Park High School in New Jersey. I’ve probably said this before: once I grew up and read Middlemarch (and Adam Bede) and recognised Eliot as probably the greatest of 19th century English novelists, I tried Silas Marner again, for bedtime reading. And found it every bit as boring as I remembered.

Meanwhile I’m getting on fine with North and South, and remain convinced that I’ve never been here before. What an exciting moment it must have been, the Industrial Revolution, the harnessing of science to do the work men had been doing since the dawn of civilisation.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

I was perhaps a bit stronger today, but nothing has been accomplished beyond a good Italian lesson and a trip to Waitrose to get the ingredients for another batch of kimchi. I’ll make it tomorrow, I hope.

Laura (comment yesterday) – do try it. Start, perhaps, with Brad Leone’s YouTube post. (He laboriously salts his cabbage leaf by leaf, but then cuts it up later.) Omit the oyster.

There are a couple of ingredients which aren’t entirely easy to get, but here in the UK they’re easily found on-line: a Korean chilli powder called Gochugaru; Korean fermented shrimp paste; rice flour for the porridge. I also ordered an oriental radish called mooli or daikon, but I think that is unnecessary. Use ordinary radishes. And the rice-flour porridge could be omitted, too.

I haven’t done any knitting at all, nor have I advanced life in any of the several respects in which it needs to be advanced. Maybe tomorrow.

Kate Davies, as I’m happy to report and as you probably all know, has been posting in fairly vigorous mode lately, both in propria persona and lending the space to a new member of the team who is also a new knitter. Kate is producing a batch of patterns for adventurous new knitters and the latest one, the Upstream pullover – another yoke sweater – is a gem.


I’m making some progress with “North and South”. I have, before now, re-read books, sometimes accidentally, but always with the feeling that I’ve been here before. I continue to have no such feeling with this one. I’m pretty sure by now that’s it’s new to me.

Mary Lou, Tamar, I’ve never entirely got together with Dickens. We had him as bedtime reading several times. I’ve never read him by myself for pleasure, and doubt if I ever will.

Non-knit, non-book

Weavinfool, that is a good point about hydration. My Personal Trainer keeps emphasising it. I don’t suppose cider entirely counts. Thank you.

Friday, June 14, 2019

I felt very weak today. Alexander came to see me, and I managed to totter once around the Garden with him (0.2 of a mile) – better than nothing.

The kimchi is certainly quieter, although there are still bubbles. I hope to get to Waitrose tomorrow, after my Italian lesson, to buy another Napa cabbage and start another batch.

Knitting went well – another six rows of Spring Shawl, another half-repeat of the Calcutta Cup scarf pattern. There’s a sad post on the Ravelry projects page, for the shawl, from someone who knit it for her wedding and was disappointed when she finished, because she could have pushed herself harder and knit the Princess.

This one is certainly easier in all three elements – edging, triangle, and borders. Also smaller. With all the stress attendant upon a wedding I think this was probably the wiser choice.

My cats are as before. Perdita refuses to leave her quarters. Paradox has always been jealous of her, and now suspects that she’s getting better food and a superior litter box so she comes in and helps herself and they fight.

I've started "North and South". I wonder, after all, if I have read it. It seems completely new and strange, Maybe I'm thinking of "Cranford".

Now I’ll go do my Italian homework.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

So exciting: I was sitting peacefully in the kitchen last night, after I wrote to you, with the jar of kimchi in front of me – when suddenly it made a hissing noise and spewed forth a spoonful or two of brine. It is in a jar I got at Lakeland, with vents in the lid for just such an eventuality. But that was the first time I had seen it in action.

It has happened a couple of times since, but I think it is getting quieter now. Sarah, thank you (comment yesterday) – I enjoyed Maangchi, and was glad to see that she chopped her cabbage. I still wonder what the arguments are, one way and another.

The brine my kimchi spewed forth tastes a bit on the salty side. One rinses the cabbage thoroughly after it has wilted for a couple of hours under salt – but one later adds fish sauce (nam pla) and fermented shrimp paste (that requires a bit of searching-for) to the spicy mixture, and both are salty. I’ll hold back a bit next time.

Mary Lou (comment Tuesday): any recipe for spinach soup should serve for sorrel. Lucky you, to have an abundance of it! Start with a soffritto (as we say in Italian) of onion and carrot and, when softened, add a chopped up potato or two to make up for the cream you are not going to add. Then when that is soft, the sorrel and some stock and a relatively brief cooking time. You could add yoghurt or low-fat crème fraiche at the end if you like. Blend.

But we’re meant to be here for knitting, not cookery. I had a very quiet day. The Spring Shawl advanced four rows, I think – they’re getting longer and longer. And the Calcutta Cup scarf at least by one further cable twist.

Non-knit, non-cookery

I am following the struggle for a new Prime Minister with interest. My man would be Rory Stewart, who has at least survived the first ballot. I get an email from the New Yorker every day with articles sometimes from the upcoming issue, sometimes extra. Today there was an interview with Stewart, so the New Yorker must like him too.

Shandy, I think I once knew that the editor of the Express appears as himself in “The Day the Earth Caught Fire” but am glad to be reminded – and even gladder to hear that your husband remembers the film. I wonder how it will look, when I see it again next week.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

OK, I guess. The television is back on track. Archie came today, so in preparation for his visit I had a look this morning. BBC One was still an hour behind ((I think – I’m not used to morning television). I tried the other channels, and they seemed to be all right. So I went back to One, and then it seemed all right as well. I may be completely wrong here, but I’ll try that technique the next time the television tries that trick. At any rate, I got to watch Pointless at the right time this evening. We had a question about famous vegetarians – and Hitler wasn’t even among the answers.

I read somewhere that the Queen enjoys Pointless.

As a sort of relaxation after “No Name” and before “North and South”, I’ve been reading  David Sedaris’ “Calypso”. It’s good. I’ve long loved him, as doled out from time to time by the New Yorker. I read one of his earlier books, and found that too much Sedaris at once wasn’t a good idea. This one works better –it’s about middle age and family and death. The sombre note holds it together.

Kimchi: it’s quiet, but there are a promising number of bubbles pressed against the glass. I would expect the next 2-3 days to be the most active. That rice flour sludge is said to promote fermentation. I’ve found a YouTube video by an actual Korean who cuts the cabbage up the way I do, at the beginning. Now that I’ve ordered in all these expensive ingredients, I might as well make another batch soon.

And as for knitting, the Calcutta Cup scarf was advanced during Pointless. Both Archie and my Personal Trainer were here this morning and much was achieved in various directions, but not knitting.

Recently, Archie recommended a film called “Contagion” which I watched much of on Netflix and enjoyed,  but I thought it petered out towards the end. It put me in mind of my favourite disaster movie of all time, “The Day the Earth Caught Fire” from 1961. I saw it by myself  at the Hillhead Salon – my husband stayed at home with the babies. It was a memorable evening. I googled it today and bugger me! as they say,  if it’s not going to be on television next Wednesday.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

My (cable) television is still out of sync with Real Time – is that because I watched something on Netflix yesterday? 5:15 is just right for Pointless – dividing the afternoon from my (brief and unproductive) evening. 6:15, which is what it amounts to in Real Time at the moment, is not so good.

Therefore no Calcutta Cup knitting, although I had a good session, earlier on, with the Spring Shawl this morning.

I spent a happy afternoon making kimchi, for the first time in a while. It’s pretty easy. Three elements: (a) brined Napa cabbage (b) seasoned gloop (c) chopped veggies. There is a good deal of leeway in each.

This time, unlike last year, I have added an optional glue of rice flour and water to the seasoned gloop. Brad Leone puts it in his kimchi.

Do any of you make kimchi? I can’t now remember what recipe I started from, but it had me chopping the cabbage into bite-sized pieces (fairly large) before brining. A Real Korean divides the cabbage into four, still attached to the root, and salts the leaves one by one. And then, after brining, and rinsing, proceeds in the same way, smearing the gloop over the leaves one by one and then folding the whole thing and putting it into the fermentation jar.

That looks like an awful lot of fuss. Chopping in advance seems so much easier. Where can I turn for advice?

Andrew and Andrea today – I tend to forget, which makes their every-second-Tuesday appearances all the more welcome. John and Juliet Arbon were today’s principal interview – all the more interesting for me, because I had so recently visited the Jamieson spinnery on Shetland. What wonderful yarn! How little time! to knit it all.

I finished “No Name” today. (Spoiler alert: everybody lives happily ever after.) I’m glad I persevered. It feels much earlier than all of Trollope. Is that true? There’s lots I don’t know and would like to learn about the 19th century.

Monday, June 10, 2019

It’s one of those odd days when the television flowing in is an hour behind the real world. So, no Pointless, for now.

We’ve just heard that the well-off elderly are going to have to pay for their television licences from next year. Do I want to go on?

However, these matters aside, there is really nothing to tell you today. Archie and I got Perdita to her medical advisor this morning. Looking at her, he wasn’t at all sure that he would be able to shave off her matted fur without an anaesthetic, but she behaved impeccably. She was less agreeable about the subsequent vaccination. Since our return, she has seemed livelier. A visit to the doctor often has that effect.

But I was totally beaten. I like to do the Spring Shawl early in the day, while the mind is functioning. There was no chance of that today – and so far this evening, due to the eccentricities of cable television, no Pointless and therefore no Calcutta Cup scarf.


I, too, have vivid memories of Mesopotamia from my primary education. Is it something about the way they do it in the USA? I must ask some people here.

I’m nearly finished with “No Name”. I’m glad I persevered, but Collins isn’t as good at people as Trollope is. I still think Miss Mackenzie made the right choice, Shandy, and will be reasonably happy (which is all you can ask for, in life). At least she and her husband both know that the mother-in-law must be resisted.

FuguesStateKnits, I’m sure you’re right about marriage. There was one of those New Yorker cartoons once, man to bartender, slumped over his drink: “The trouble is, either you’re married or you’re not”. And, your comment yesterday, I have always been told that when a baby objects to being baptised, that is because the devil is objecting to being driven out, and is a good sign. You don’t say how your reader got on with the Medes and the Elemites. It’s interesting that so many of us are fond of Pentecost.