A Vote of Confidence

Another Toastmasters Board meeting this morning, and I got a huge vote of confidence. Somehow, I knew that I’d be challenged as incoming president. It’s mostly my own fault— I’m secretary, right now, and I sent the minutes to the members, not just to the Board. I meant to do that— some people don’t read them, but some people do, and it’s a way to get people thinking about what it takes to run the club, and the fact that they have a voice. I got approached last week at the potluck and asked by a non-Board member whether I was going to be the president, and a woman mentioned she wanted to join the Board and casually said she wasn’t sure what position— maybe president.

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Tomato Cobbler Night!

Last night was the very best night of the summer— tomato cobbler night! My feelings on this dish have been well-documented. This time, I had a cup of home-grown (not by me) cherry tomatoes (mine are present but unripe), but several cups of Roma tomatoes purchased recently. I’d say that the tomatoes were somewhat less glorious than homegrown, but it was still wonderful. I accidentally went a little long on cayenne and I think that made up for the less flavorful tomatoes. I did them with a very simple lemon pepper chicken breast and a less simple pickled collard greens. I’ve got a bumper crop of collards in my garden, and I had one jar of pickled collards from a previous season. Pickled collards by themselves are pretty brassy, but if you mix fresh and pickled, it’s pretty good.

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The Mommy Club

I made a terrible mistake last night— I walked into a one-two punch. We had choir practice, and have been planning to go for pie afterward, as we sometimes do. Just before I walked into the restaurant, I read on Facebook the ravings of one of the horrendous white supremacists from Charlottesville who explained how the death of the 32-year-old victim who was run down by a car was no real loss because single childless women are leeches on society who’ve failed to fulfill their only reasonable function, procreation. Take my word for it if you haven’t read it— it’s not going to help you to read it. I’m pretty angry with the person who cross-posted it, I deliberately did not cross-post it, and I hope you don’t Google it. I’ve given you an accurate rendering of the high points.

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I told the story of the subpar cherries in a previous post— here’s the story of making a shrub.

A few years ago, my eldest niece told me that she thought I’d like a shrub. I am inordinately fond of vinegar and many things tart, and she knows me well enough to know it. I had never heard of a shrub, also called “drinking vinegar.” Though I have been known to sample pickle brine, the idea of a drinking vinegar has been too much for me until this spring. At the first of those storytelling events that I went to, late last winter, my friend mentioned that she’d heard they had a shrub. I had already had a cocktail on arrival, and I wanted to buy her a drink for her birthday, but I wanted something nonalcoholic for me. It was snowing, I had a long drive, and I’m a one drink per evening if I’ll be driving kind of girl anyway.

I was equal parts interested and trepidacious, but I tried it. I was under the impression that you drank it straight, but you don’t— you mix it with club soda. I also didn’t understand that you macerate fruit to create a fruit syrup which you then blend with vinegar. You can infuse it with herbs and all kinds of things. The shrub was delightfully interesting— tangy without being overpowering, and I was disappointed that they didn’t have it when I went back a month or so ago.

When I ran into the cherry situation, I thought it might lend itself to using the cherries in a way that gave them the chance to be the best they could be.


I used this recipe for a cold-processed shrub, and I skewed it two ways. I started one cup of cherries in a cup of granulated sugar. I planned to mix it with cider vinegar. Then, I realized you could do balsamic vinegar, and you could add citrus zest. I have some aging limes, and I’ve always loved the combination of cherries and limes, so I went and got the cherries in granulated sugar and zested a couple of limes into it.

I pitted another cup of cherries and realized, to my horror, that I was out of sugar. This is what comes of not eating sugar/baking for a month. I was faced with the idea of eating the subpar pitted cherries, running to the grocery store at nearly 10 p.m. on a work-night, or improvising. I had brown sugar, and started the new batch in that. I decided that the brown sugar cherries would be for the balsamic.


I let them sit a couple of days in the fridge, until they looked like this:


Then, I strained out the cherries and added the vinegar (1 cup per batch).

I haven’t tried them yet, but I’m looking forward to them! I’m also looking forward to serving the candied cherries on top of ice cream. Shrubs are preserved enough to last a long time— that was their original purpose, back in the days before refrigeration.


Recipe Review: Roasted Cherry Brownies

Over the weekend, we had a Toastmasters social gathering. These only happen a couple of times a year, and since I’ve joined the Board and am looking at Board president, I feel like I need to make more of an effort to participate. Last year, I went to one, but it was an awkward “I’ll go, but if I’m not feeling it after 30 minutes, I’m out” affair. I stayed more than 30 minutes, but was painfully self-conscious and spent the entire evening in a rather more intense conversation with one person than I think either of us hoping for, partly so I didn’t have to keep mingling.

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