Tomato Soup – the Best

Tomato soup – staple for winter – easy to make, and everyone loves it, right?

My husband hates it. I love it. Have tried for years to get him to eat it. I’ve camouflaged it, changed its color, added bells and whistles – nothing worked – until last night. Here is the recipe for the worlds most delicious tomato soup: (for 2 persons)

Start with three tomatos – they don’t have to be fabulous tomatos*, but as usual, the fresher the better. Cut in half and put face down in a saucepan and start cooking over low/medium heat. Cover. Go read a few chapters of a book. **

When the tomatos have turned to mush, add half a bouillon cube – I used vegetable, but you can use chicken or veal stock. When the cube is disolved, take a strainer and strain the soup over a big bowl. press with a wooden spoon to get All the juice out. Put the juice back in the saucepan and add a heaping teaspoon of good quality curry. Put back on the heat, stirring to make sure it doesn’t burn on the bottom.

Now, here is where it gets tricky.

I had frozen watermelon left over from this summer. I had thawed it out, just to see what would happen. What happened was I got mushy watermelon and a ton of juice. I added the juice to the tomato soup. If you don’t have watermelon juice handy – don’t panic. Fresh orange juice will work. The tomatos made a little more than 2 cups of liquid, I added about 3/4 cup juice. Stir. Now, add 1/2 cup heavy cream.

Stir. The soup will turn a delightful salmon pink. It will smell divine.

Now, in a separate pot, cook vermicelle (angel hair) pasta. Strain, and put in a soup dish. Pour the tomato soup over the noodles. Serve with cracked pepper. Enjoy!

*You can even use canned tomatos for this recipe! Yes, you can!

**’The Road to Alexander’, if you haven’t already read it, otherwise, books 2 & 3 are available too!

3 or 4 large tomatos or a big can of stewed tomatos

half a bouillon cube

3/4 cups fresh orange juice

1/2 cup heavy cream




It’s the economy, stupid!

Or, the economy is us. There is no “economy” – you say the word and and think of it as a collective noun, but the economy is nothing other than you, me, and everyone buying shit and keeping businesses going. So, when we don’t have money to spend on shit, we don’t, and businesses go out of business, and we hear stuff like “the economy is crashing”, but that’s not true, because there is no such thing as the economy.

Oh, but wait – I hear the stock market is going up. (Repub talk for “I have no idea what the economy is but I read Econmics Today.) Up – sorry – the stock market is fine if you are a multi millionaire investor. Are you? I didn’t think so. Otherwise you wouldn’t be reading my blog, you’d be on a beach somewhere in the sun saying, “Get me another margharita with extra lime.” And don’t give me the tax bill is making America great again – again, are you a firm? Are you a corporation? Let’s not confuse profitability with improved economic well-being.

From 2 articles on the stockmarket – one in 2017, the other from 1987: 

Trump’s policies may well enrich many firms, but they will impoverish the average American. We are not better off having to pay more for domestically produced goods thanks to a 35% tariff on imports. We are not better off when firms are given tax breaks or direct subsidies to keep their production in the US where labor or other inputs are more expensive, raising the costs of those goods and increasing our $20 trillion dollar national debt.*

Why is the stock market shooting up while the economy is in the doldrums? As usual with questions about economics, you can find someone to give you any answer you want. If you want to hear that the market is revealing the hidden economic strength of this great nation, listen to someone in the Reagan administration. If you want to think the bull market still has plenty of oomph, read the financial pages or talk to your broker.

If you believe that greed is always punished and what goes up must come down, John Kenneth Galbraith is the man for you. He sees in the current market a “mass escape into make-believe”, like the one he wrote about in The Great Crash 1929.

Unfortunately, the evidence is on Galbraith’s side.**

And if you really want to be afraid, read on…

The farm, fuel, minerals, steel, and machinery sectors are in deep depression. Personal, corporate, government, and foreign debt levels are at all-time highs. The unemployment rate, after four years of recovery, is about 7%, which used to be the recession high, not the recovery low. About the only booming activities are the defense industry and the business of raiding, merging, divesting, and leveraging companies.

In short, no perceivable improvement in the productive capacity of the real economy justifies the current rise in the stock market.

Then why is it rising?

Because people who have more money than they need have to put it somewhere; they prefer to put it where it will generate more money; these days the stock market is about the only place for it to go.

Since taxes were cut in 1980, there are more people with more excess money than there have been since — I hate to say it — 1929.


*A Rising Stock Market Does Not Signal Economic Health 2017

**When the Stock Market Goes Up, and the Economy Doesn’t 1987

Apple Walnut Apple Brandy cake, with Apple brandy glaze!

Apple Walnut Apple Brandy cake, with Apple brandy glaze!

I made a scrumptious cake today – the whole apartment smells of cinnamon and apples – the cake is delicious and the scent is wonderful!

Image may contain: food and indoor


1 1/2 cups vegetable oil,

2 cups sugar (1 cup white, 1 cup brown sugar),

2 large eggs or 3 small eggs.

2 cups flour

1 cup instant oats

1 teasp. Cinnamon

1 teasp. Allspice

1 teasp. Baking soda

1/2 teasp. Salt

3 cups diced apples

1 cup walnuts (I toasted mine, but you can use plain walnuts)

1/2 cup raisins

3 tablespoons Calvados, Applejack, or Apple brandy, as it’s called.

Beat oil and sugar until smooth and thick, add eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg.  Mix the dry ingredients and add to egg and sugar mix, stir well. Add apples, raisins, and nuts, and the brandy. Mix, then scrape into a ten inch baking tin. Bake for 45 min to 1 hour at 325°. (160 C). It’s done when a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.


2 tablespoons butter, 2 tablespoons white sugar, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 2 tablespoons Applejack brandy, 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice, 1 tablespoon heavy cream.

Melt butter in a small saucepan. Stir in sugars. When well blended, add the rest of the ingredients and, stirring,  bring to a boil. Lower heat and keep stirring, cook for about 3 – 4 minutes.

Take cake out of the oven and turn it over on a serving dish. Pour the glaze over the cake while it’s hot.

Serve either warm or cool – it is delicious with vanilla and/or cinnamon icecream.


The Reception of Alexander the Great

via The Reception of Alexander the Great


Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire:

“Trajan was ambitious of fame; and as long as mankind shall continue to bestow more liberal applause on their destroyers than on their benefactors, the thirst of military glory will ever be the vice of the most exalted characters. The praises of Alexander, transmitted by a succession of poets and historians, had kindled a dangerous emulation in the mind of Trajan. Like him, the Roman emperor undertook an expedition against the nations of the East; but he lamented with a sigh, that his advanced age scarcely left him any hopes of equalling the renown of the son of Philip. Yet the success of Trajan, however transient, was rapid and specious.”

Christopher Marlowe, The Tragedy of Dr. Faustus:

EMPEROR. Then, Doctor Faustus, mark what I shall say.
As I was sometime solitary set
Within my closet, sundry thoughts arose
About the honour of mine ancestors,
How they had won by prowess such exploits,
Got such riches, subdu’d so many kingdoms,
As we that do succeed, or they that shall
Hereafter possess our throne, shall
(I fear me) ne’er attain to that degree
Of high renown and great authority:
Amongst which kings is Alexander the Great,
Chief spectacle of the world’s pre-eminence,
The bright shining of whose glorious acts
Lightens the world with his reflecting beams,
As when I hear but motion made of him,
It grieves my soul I never saw the man:
If, therefore, thou, by cunning of thine art,
Canst raise this man from hollow vaults below,
Where lies entomb’d this famous conqueror,
And bring with him his beauteous paramour,
Both in their right shapes, gesture, and attire
They us’d to wear during their time of life,
Thou shalt both satisfy my just desire,
And give me cause to praise thee whilst I live.

Suetonius, Life of Caesar:

“Further Spain fell to him as quaestor. There he was ordered by the praetor to make the round of tax collections. When he came to Gades, he noticed a statue of Alexander the Great in the Temple of Hercules and groaned in deprecation of his own indolence, because he had done nothing memorable in his life to this point, by which time Alexander had already subjugated the earth. He immediately asked for leave for the purpose of obtaining as many chances at greater affairs in the city.”

Quaestori ulterior Hispania obvenit; ubi cum mandatu praetoris iure dicundo conventus circumiret Gadisque venisset, animadversa apud Herculis templum Magni Alexandri imagine ingemuit et quasi pertaesus ignaviam suam, quod nihil dum a se memorabile actum esset in aetate, qua iam Alexander orbem terrarum subegisset, missionem continuo efflagitavit ad captandas quam primum maiorum rerum occasiones in urbe.

Image result for alexander the great

The Years Go By

December 2008: I don’t think people can build things anymore. My oven door broke, and the ‘thing-ma-gig’ that broke is not under guarantee. If, when the thing-ma-gig broke, I’d let the door fall off instead of catching it, and the glass broke THAT would have been insured. As it was, the little joint that held the door broke, I caught the door, took the oven to the store, and was told to ‘Go buy a new Oven’.

My daughter, who was with me, said loudly, ‘We’ll go buy it in Another Store, Not Here. I’m Never buying anything Here Again.’

The serviceman, who was just doing his job, replied, ‘Happy Holidays to you, too.’

I’m afraid I started to laugh hysterically.

My stepmother sent me a check for Christmas, I used it as my oven money; Thank you, Anne!

(We did, however, go to another store)

December 2009:  The other day I made quince jelly – it looked so lovely when it was done – the prettiest peach color – I had to take a picture of my breakfast!

Quince jelly:

Cut up four or five quinces (leave the skin, but wipe the fuzz off) and cut out the seeds. Cover with water and boil for about an hour until everything is mush. Strain, and then add the same amount of sugar as juice (I never measure, I just looked and guessed – but probably measure the cups of water / cups of sugar ratio. Add the juice of one lemon. Bring to a boil and cook 10 more minutes then pour into jam jars. Let set overnight.


December 2010 – 2013 (A new job puts a crimp on blogging

I have yet to settle into my new schedule, so I have yet to work out when to log on to the internet and write in my blog. Read and write books. To do housework & Cook

Take kids to various sporting events, social functions, school, etc.. Play with the dogs or take a walk, play some golf or go to the pool and swim…but I do know when I’m working.

Seems like it’s about 12 hours a day right now.

This morning my English student didn’t show up and I got a whole hour free just to fiddle around on the internet! Hello blog!

This afternoon I have another English lesson and about 5 hours of work lined up for me.

Tomorrow is another horse show, so there goes my Sunday.

I wonder if I can clone myself?

Meanwhile, here is a picture of my daughter setting the table for lunch.

No December posts until 2016… and then

Dear Santa,

Despite what you may have heard, I’ve been pretty good this year. It’s true I tend to rant a lot, especially on Facebook, and especially since the Donald was elected president of the US by a minority vote, but who’s counting? I have started telling everyone I’m from the Caribbean when they ask – I no longer say “America”, when I do, people look sympathetic, as if I’m suddenly seated in a wheelchair or I’ve just announced I have leprosy. When Bush was president, I admit things were bad – he was like a toddler with a rocket launcher. But this is worse. The Donald is a crazed toddler with the Nuclear button at his fingertips. I don’t pray very often, but lately I’ve been praying a lot. “Dear God, I’ve never asked for a lightning bolt before, but….” 

At any rate, Santa, I was hoping to ask for peace on Earth, goodwill to mankind this Christmas season. A nice gift would be the gift of tolerance. There are many people I’d like to receive this gift. People who tend to lump everyone in groups or speak from ignorance: “immigrants are all terrorists”, “homosexuals should not be allowed to raise children”, “marriage is for a man and a woman”, “there is a war on Christmas.” Santa – I ask you – has anyone declared war on Christmas? I’m shaking my head here. Even some of my Muslim and Jewish friends have Christmas trees and sing Christmas carols – how ignorant can you get to claim there is a war on Christmas?

As for the immigrants are terrorists – Santa, do I look like a terrorist to you? And yet, I’m an immigrant, and my family arrived in America on boats – one jumped overboard and swam ashore, he was on a prison boat headed towards a prison colony and life as an indentured servant – he jumped ship and arrived in the US with no papers, clandestine, and criminal. Now it’s a family story. Do you think that the refugees who are arriving in Europe and America will have family stories too?

Dear Santa, several of my friends, including school friends, are raising children in same-sex households. Their children are pretty cool, seem very well adjusted, are doing great in school, and are happy and healthy human beings. I’m sure they have questions about who they are and where they came from, and some of those questions will never be answered – but that won’t ruin their lives, any more than my adopted friends who grew up in more traditional households lives were ruined. People adapt pretty well. But I have friends who believe that gay people shouldn’t marry or have kids. For Christmas, could you please give them understanding, and failing that, could you have them read these scientific studies that show that children raised by same sex parents thrive? I’m not saying shove the studies down their throats. I’m simply thinking it very loudly.

Dear Santa, the Christmas tree lights are blinking. Night has fallen. I made cookies this afternoon and the house smells like chocolate and brown sugar. I don’t want anything for myself for Christmas – truly, all I want is Peace on Earth, and that part about Good Will is important too. A little more tolerance, except for the Donald. A little more love – for everyone. A little more sharing. I promise to do my part this year, if you do yours, Santa.

Here you go – this song is for you.


December 1, 2017. I still rant on Facebook, my appliances still break down. Latest one is my blender, not three months old, I poured veggies in it to puree for a soup, and the plastic blender cracked. Soup everywhere. What a mess. We went back to the store (the one in the first post, to be exact – not the same salesman, luckily…) and ordered a new blender – bowl thing. You know, not the machine, the plastic holder that…What is that called anyway? Well, I ordered it and am waiting. Hopefully it will get here for Christmas. It will be odd having Christmas this year – the first year that the children don’t live here, so they will be coming as guests, bringing their loved ones. How lucky we are that we can welcome them in our home, when so many others are homeless right now. This year, my Christmas prayers are going to the people displaced by war and religious intolerance.

This year we are having couscous for Christmas – a North African dish with mutton, loads of winter vegetables, and semoule. You can eat it as a soup, a stew, or as a dish. For desert we’ll have clemantine oranges with cinnamon and homemade icecream. My mother in law is too ill to come, as is her sister, so my husband and I are organizing a Christmas day tour to visit them. I don’t know what to bring – any ideas? Two elderly, bedridden ladies – what would cheer them up?

I have a whole month to plan, clean the house, and get ready…(it may not be enough, lol). What are your plans for the holidays?

My Best Friend

Jennifer Macaire

She was lost gradually. It wasn’t as if anyone could point to a single thing that happened and say; “It was there. She was perfect before that happened. Afterwards we lost her. She was never the same.” Perhaps it would be easier if life could be cut up like so many pieces of pie – wedges taken out and examined, some slices smaller than others, some burned, others not cooked enough. She was my best friend, but I never tried to pinpoint the exact moment she slipped away. It was too complex. A tumor growing insidiously, tendrils branching forwards and backward through time. A smile or tears became remembered instants that shifted unexpectedly as if the lens of a camera came into focus. Incidents that seemed blurry suddenly turned clear. Especially afterwards.

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More soup, more banana bread, some rice pudding

Very Veggie Soup –

I have been making soup every weekend – I buy some veggies (whatever strikes my fancy and look good) but there is always 1 leek (white and green part all the way up to the top, rinced well, sliced thin), an onion (diced), 2 or 3 carrots (diced), a potato (diced) – and then whatever – today it was a huge head of brocoli and a leftover tomato at the bottom of the bin. Next week I plan to add sweet potatos, you can use anything you like: parsnips, squash, pumpkin – add more of anything and it becomes that soup – add more tomatoes, or leeks, and you get it!

Cook in butter and oil until all the veggies are wilted and starting to soften, but are not yet browning but things are starting to smell good and it’s sizzling. Add broth (vegetable or meat – I used beef bullion cubes today) and cook until the veggies are completely soft. Let cool and mix in the blender – add water if too thick. Put back in the pan and heat, and add some cream or milk  if you like it creamy soup. What I do is make a pot of vermicelle on the side (angel hair pasta, or sometimes rice) and add them to the soup (never cook the pasta in the soup!) I usually make enough soup to last 2 – 3 days – we have it for dinner with fresh baguette and cheese.


Banana Bread

Every time I make it is is different. This time, I spent a hour cracking walnuts, then toasting the walnuts with oil, sugar, salt, thyme & a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. Once toasted, I put them in the banana cake mix with a handful of raisins. Oh. My. God. Not only does is smell divine as it’s cooking, but the toasted nuts give the banana bread a little crunch –

Banana bread batter: 2 very ripe bananas (they can be rotten, there can be 2 or 3 bananas…) a cup of sugar, (I use half white, half brown) 2 cups flour, a tablespoon baking powder, pinch of salt, 1 cup milk with half a lemon squeezed in it (let the milk sit until it’s curdled – about 15 minutes), 2 eggs, 3 or 4 tablespoons melted butter. Raisins, nuts (optional). Put everything but the raisins and nuts in a mixing bowl and blend with your hand-held blender. Just do it. When the batter is smooth, stir in the raisins and nuts and pour into a greased cake dish and bake at 350° for 30 – 40 minutes. Add cinnamon if you want. A dash of rum, coffee or coconut liqueur works too.


Rice Pudding –

I had leftover rice. This is what I did: I put a pan of milk to heat on medium heat (the same amount of milk as there is rice) and added 2 teabags of strong, black tea, 5 cardamon seeds and a  half cup of sugar. Stir well – don’t let the milk boil! When the teabags start to color the milk caramel and the cardamon releases it’s scent and flavor, take the teabags (& cardamon, if you want) out, and then add the rice. Now bring the milk to a boil, stirring constantly. Add more milk as needed to keep the rice creamy. After the milk boils, turn the heat down and add a handful of raisins if you like. Now, keep stirring for about 15 minutes – you really want the rice to be as soft as possible without turning completely to mush. Do add more milk to make sure the rice doesn’t get sticky. It should stay creamy. You can eat it hot, or cold – I like to eat it for breakfast with even more milk on it, a dash of cinnamon, and heated up in the microwave!





Thanksgivings Past and Present

I tend to measure time by events, and the holidays are one yardstick. Most of my memories of Christmas are tropical ones, with fish instead of fowl on the menu, and sun instead of snow.  But most of my Thanksgivings featured the traditional turkey. One time I forgot to thaw it out, and we spent Thanksgiving day with the turkey in the hot bath, and then when it was dry, we tried to defrost the insides with a hair dryer. Another Thanksgiving was in Upstate NY, during a blizzard, and my father had to go fetch my great-grandmother with a sled, because the car was stuck in snow drifts.  That was he year the parakeets dive bombed the dining room table – their game seemed to be which bird could get closest to the mound of fluffly mashed potatoes. (Our parakeets had a cage, but they lived with the door open and would fly all around the house, only going into the cage to eat or sleep.) They also liked teasing our German Shephard, and would swoop over her head and tease her. Our dog ignored them, but one day, as one bird swooped low over the napping dog she raised her head and yawned – and the bird flew straight into her mouth! There was an explosion of feathers, the dog jumped up and coughed, and the bird shot out of her mouth, minus most of its tail feathers.

The years rolled on. I spent Thanksgiving in NY with my husband and twin sons, and was invited to Thanksgiving lunch with my father, and dinner at my mother’s house. I couldn’t turn either one down, so my husband and I had two Thanksgiving feasts in one day. It took a few years before I was ready to contemplate turkey again. My father had made oyster stew as an appetizer, I remember – and my French husband had never had cooked oysters before. It was his first Thanksgiving, and he admired my father’s stuffed, roasted turkey at lunchtime. The look on his face during dinner, when my mother proudly presented her stuffed, roasted turkey, was priceless.

My aunt just reminded me of the Thanksgiving we spent near Niagra falls (how could we go there and not actually go see the falls is a mystery, but there you are – I have yet to ssee them!) When my husband met most of my huge, boisterous family for the first time. You have to understand that my poor husband comes from such a tiny family, he only has One Cousin on each side of his family! I have over thirty on each side, which makes more than sixty cousins in all, with aunts, uncles, great-aunts, well – you get the idea – a huge, noisy, fun-loving family … we played charades that Thanksgiving. (My husband had never done this). I don’t know whose idea it was, but we were doing book and movie titles and his was: “Everything you ever wanted to know about sex, but were afraid to ask.”  I think this is known as “baptism by fire”.

We had Thanksgiving in a Chinese restaurant one year, and another year we were just too exhausted (my husband was recovering from scarlet fever, the twins had been ill, and we had just flown twelve hours from Rio to Miami – ) to think about cooking, so we ordered pizza and had them delivered.  A few years ago, my BF Debbie drove seven hours to pick me and my daughter up at my mother’s house in NY and drove us down to her place in Pennsylvania. She made us a huge Thanksgiving feast, complete with turkey, sweet corn, and sweet potato pie, and it was in July!

We spent a few Thanksgivings here in France with Andrea and her family. An American, and an amazing cook, Andrea made Thanksgiving feasts that would put Martha Stewart to shame. One year we had a goose, and it was amazing.

But this year, like last year, my husband and I gave Thanksgiving a miss. Because we don’t have a holiday here in France for it, there isn’t a day off to get things and to cook. Christmas seems right around the corner, and Halloween was yesterday (OK, no cooking, but loads of candy!) So Thanksgiving was just homemade soup with noodles this year, with a fresh, warm baguette and good cheese. My husband and I took a few moments to express our thanks – for our friends and families, for our health and our jobs, and we made the wish that one day, everyone in the world would be able to sit at a table with their loved ones and share a good meal in peace and prosperity. That would be something to be thankful for.





Warm and tasty cabbage tomato soup


Half a green cabbage (sliced into thin strips), 3 or 4 very ripe tomatoes (cut up) or a can of tomatoes, can of corn, 1 tablespoon dried oregano, garlic (1 clove, diced, or a spoonful of powdered garlic), half a cup of red wine (optional, but it gives a nice flavor), about a quart of broth (I use vegetable broth, but you can use chicken, beef, or veal).

In a large pot, melt butter or heat vegetable oil, add the sliced cabbage and cubed tomatoes. Stir and cook evenly for about 5 minutes. Add the wine, garlic, and oregano and stir. Cook for a few minutes until vegetables start to soften. Carefully pour in 1 cup of broth. Stir the ingredients. Once the soup starts to bubble, add the rest of the broth. Stir the ingredients to evenly cook the vegetables, then cover and cook for about 15 minutes on medium heat. It should simmer and bubble, but not too much. If using canned tomatoes, add a teaspoon of sugar.

Ater the cabbage is softened to noodle-like texture, and the tomatoes are mush, add the corn kernels. Cook for a few minutes and turn off the heat.

Allow the soup to simmer for 10 more minutes, then turn off heat and allow to sit. Serve hot with fresh bread & some cheese such as a goat cheese, a blue cheese, or even a brie.






How to make a Big Splash at a book conference

Having been to many conferences, I have (from experience) seen with (my own eyes) what makes for a big Splash. So if you want to make a Big Splash (from herein known as *BS) you should do as these authors** have done:

10 Ways to Make a Big Splash (*BS) at a book conference! 

1) Run after literary agents. Follow them everywhere. Hassle agents in the bathroom about submissions – slide the darn thing right under the door of their stall if they insist on acting coy.

2) Carry a huge, sloppy, manuscript around and beg people to read it. Better still, if you can carry two or three of these around in canvas bags slung over your shoulders, that’s effective too. Follow agents around like a pack horse whinnying your pitch.

3) Make sure your “look” for the conference is eye-catching. Sequins, expanses of bare skin, feather boas (the kind that shed floaty feathers are the best) and a huge hat and/or lots of jewelry will set you apart.

4) Wear a long necklace with clips and put all your cards and bookmarks on it. Pull them off and hand them to Everyone you meet. Make sure your nametag is particularly flashy.

5) When you put your cards and bookmarks on the promo tables, make sure to sweep everyone else’s promo shit aside. When it’s your turn to man your publisher’s table, idem. Push everyone else’s promotional material aside and set yours front and center. If anything falls on the floor, ignore it.

6) Chase after the male models screaming ‘I want your BABY!’

7) Don’t forget to tell everyone that Your book is the only good one out there – the rest is just trash. Badmouth your fellow authors.

8) Hang out at the bar & drink cosmos until your see triple, and make sure you flirt with everyone. Falling off your bar stool gets you noticed as well.

9) Badmouth your agent, your publisher, or your editor (thank you, Kate, for reminding me of this one!)

10) Run up a tab at the bar, and “forget” to pay it. Empty the fridge in your room. Leave it to your roommates to sort it out.

If you do all these things, I promise that people will be talking about your *BS for years to come.

**N.B. I have actually seen all of these things happen at conferences!