Sunday, September 21, 2014

Huckleberry Cake from childhood

My mother used to make it. This week I will make it for a party at a friend's house. The recipe Mama used is on page 84 of my book THE COMPLET GUIDE TO EDIBLE WILD PANTS, MUSHROOMS, FRUITS, AND NUTS. Here is a slightly modern recipe using store-bought blueberris. Heat oven to 375, and butter a loaf pan. Make any yellow cake mix according to directions. Then flour well 2 cups of huckleberries or blueberries, or a combination, gently fold them in to the ready batter (flouring keeps the berries from all sinking to the bottom, and bake according to the cake package. Serve hot with this delicious hard sauce, which people had a lot when I was a child. Again, modern directions: in a blender, cream 3/4 of a stick of real (salted) butter with 2 T heavy cream, I T each of brandy, rum, and sherry, and 1/2 teaspoon of real vanilla. Little by little, beat in around one lb. of confectioner sugar, until it holda a shape. Mound it in a dish, grate half a fresh nutmeg over it, and refrigerate until you are ready to serve the cake. Top each hot slice generously with hard sauce. We have been getting ready for our trip to Tanzania, shots in both arms, and wardrobes of brown, dark green, khaki, and tan (NO white, black, or blue: certain flies are attracted to all those colors. NO bright colors, as those disturb the animals. It's getting closer, but we will be a drab lot in the airports!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Prize-Winning Recipe

Well, today I made spoonbread for some folks coming to lunch. In 1975, I entered a contest and won after s bakeoff at the Homestead bu chefs actually wearing those high white hats with puffs. I'd forgotten all about that until I decided it was a brunchy thing to have. So here is how to make it. Perheat oven to 400. Boil a pint of water, add a teaspoon of salt, then half a stick of butter. Add a cup of yellow cornmeal. Beat well, and cool somewhat (fifteen minutes or so). Then beat a very cold cup of milk and 4 eggs together, stir the 2 mixtures together quickly, and put them in the now-heated oven in a casserole dish. In 45 minutes or so, the dish is done, puffed beautifully like a cheese soufflé, and serve more or less immediately. It will deflate quickly, so have everyone around to admire it as it comes out of the oven. Serve with more butter, and --(this is not to my liking) -- maple syrup or honey. See why you call it Spoonbread??? Anyone listening out there? Say Hi!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Can't believe I'm already four days late. Oh, me. Today I pitched to the AARP magazine an idea: not liking poetry that confuses and annoys (much the way I feel about most abstract art --just not to my liking--) I realize I am very out of step with the "most sophisticated" poetry today --if it doesn't make any sense, then what's the point? The New Yorker is my favorite magazine -- but about half the poems that appear (2 each week) just leave me cold --because they leave me floundering. I have no interest in writing poetry like that. I think a lot of people don't think they like poetry because what we don't understand makes us feel stupid. I am on a mission to write poems that bear thinking about but do not baffle readers -- poems with a spiritual component but that enlighten subtly. Poems that use the most specific, yet artistic, language available. As a teacher, my first goal was to help my students to understand literature SO THAT THEY WOULD LOVE IT ALL THEIR LIVES. If feedback is worth anything, then I at least sometimes succeeded. Life must be so much more pleasurable to readers than to non-readers. And poetry is the most concentrated of all language, so it deserves more attention than looser writing. But my mission is to let people in to my poems for a moment of joy or humor or just understanding. Any comments out there???? Katie

Saturday, August 30, 2014


Dear Fans, (all 2 of you!), This is the day I've promised to blog (once a week). This week I have been thinking about why most of the guys I fell for before I married (and most of them are still friends) turned out to be gay. They were all bright, sensitive, generally literary, and all of them were absolutely darling. I guess (1) it wasn't yet the time to admit to the world that you were, or might be, gay. You couldn't then have admitted it even to yourself, so probably you fought hard against the impulse, hoping to hide your urges or "get over it" by marrying. That's from your point of view, and I'm guessing. From my point of view, you were not pushy, and I was determined to be a virgin when I married. Anyone pushing me hard frightened me. So when the time came to choose a husband, I chose a man who didn't frighten me (ie, come on very strong sexually). Also I assumed sex was bad, since every time I ever came home from a date, my father said, "You come home pregnant, and I'll kill you." You know parents could talk like that in the fifties, and get away with it. My father had killed a huge number of Japs (more than I can count, he said), and I absolutely believed him. It hurt my feelings, because I never would have slept with anyone. But still,the mistrust it implied was painful. So: here's what I think. Sex equaled death, and I was afraid. I never understood that until now. When I married, I believed I could only do so with a clear head; one unblended by sexual attraction. So, anyone got any thoughts on that?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Well, that song. It's been sung to me (facetiously) all my life. It's a WWI popular song, by Geoffrey O'Hara (1882-1066) from a time when we weren't so politically correct as we are now. I imagine a tall, skinny,shy cute boy, nervous about waiting for his girlfriend at the kitchen door where she's been washing up the dishes from the family dinner. Katie in the song has blonde hair like I have. So the boy turns out to a computer whiz, and they get married and have a bunch of kids and live happily ever after.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Poetry Again!

In college, 55 years ago, Poetry is what I wrote. Never fiction, never memoir, nothing prosaic. I wrote poetry. Then I quit, not reading or writing poetry until my divorce in 2002. Then, unaccountably, I began writing poems again. I've done it now for the last ten years. The first five years' worth were about my divorce, my life since then, my delirious falling in love for the first time. I read poetry daily now, trying to keep up, and I realize I am in love with words still, but they are demanding other forms than the ones in my 21 books. I might see if any of you relate to any of my "modern" poems. Here is one. MIROLOGUE I leap on it in Zorba like a jay on a junebug: a word I'm sure I never met, certainly not in my first delirious rush-through fifty years past: it sends me on a race through Random House, Noah Webster, the Concise Oxford. No trace of it, so breathlessly into the cul-de-sac of the OED: it's not even there. Miro is solely New Zealand fauna, flora, a miro bird, a miro tree. Stumped. Online, the stern verdict: The Word You've Entered Isn't In the Dictionary. I won't give up easily. I introduce myself to George and Charles Merriam who, in 1847 put a new face on Noah's Model T. They never heard the word either. Dead end? Back to daylight's ornature: in context, it's a funeral speech Zorba’s Boss takes in. Intuition, that indispensable deus ex machina, says mirologue is cousin to admire and miracle, so, evitably, on to Miror in the lingua mater: to marvel, be astonished. (Logos is a word, mere empty words, a jest, or The Word, too profound to contemplate.) Backing up an ill-lit alley, where nothing can be traced, where the garbage truck has been and gone long ago, Zorba’s astonished at the death of an old woman? Maybe at the face of death itself? In the beginning was the Logos. I think intuition works best after long tutoring through tattered texts, long stumbling without the thread of Theseus. The aftertale of the chase: Kazantzakis is as dead as Icarus long fallen into the sea, and I have to choose. In the beginning was the Jest.