The Eyes Have It

I was in the city (Chicago) for two days this week. Oh, how I miss the big city. My visits to the city are usually to promote Janie’s Mill flour. I am carted from restaurant to restaurant by Sysco reps ( they are JM distributors). There is driving and walking and fast talking – always with people I have not met before – culminating with a meeting of culinary minds in the kitchens of some of the best restaurants in Chicago. Food and tons of excellent company.

I got back to the farm shattered – hanging in rags – as they say in England. But deeply satisfied.

My bags are in no way a conventional sales persons bags and they are heavy!

Something I noticed, because I was meeting a lot of new people and we were all masked of course; when all I can see is a persons eyes, just the eyes and forehead, I feel confident enough to catch that persons eyes and hold them for an entire volley of conversation. (the scary fake smile mouth and teeth are covered). I am charmed by their eyes is what I mean. As though a spell has been cast around us. This contact is returned – one goes around the gathered circle catching and holding eyes. And those eyes are steady. The eyes have their own meeting complete with subtext and back-story.

And after almost two years of this I see more eyes now than I ever did.

This is not something women can usually do – to hold a mans eyes for a long period of time is often not appropriate. We have to make other facial adjustments so as not to send the wrong messages. But with a mask on all we have is eyes so by the end of a good conversation we know every golden fleck and hue and those short conversational connections gather their own kind of magic. A new kind of magic.

That kind of does and does not make sense.

I am baking bread today.

Lots of bread. Then some kind of dessert pie using my pastry flour. Any ideas?

It is cold – 36F/2C ( In a couple of months I will be wishing for this temperature but today it feels cold). Good day to have the oven on!

Good morning!


33 Comments on “The Eyes Have It

  1. A good pie recipe…so much depends on what you have on hand…

    This time of year my go-to is always a pumpkin pie from one of the pumpkins (or squash) in storage in my basement. If you feel like going the extra mile, you can always roast and hull the seeds too and make a pumpkin seed brittle to decorate the top.

    If you are looking for decadent and have the ingredients on hand, a chocolate cream pie with fresh whipped cream on top is hard to beat.

    Another fun one to do is some sort of galette–apple is classic, but you can do any sort of fruit you have on hand. Or, if you want to do totally different, something savory is really good too. I often make large, savory galettes for dinner at our house with whatever ingredients I have on hand. Roll out your dough, place on a baking sheet, and spread with sour cream (or some other base–pesto sauce is good, but it is oily) leaving about two inches of dough uncovered. Then add your layers of fillings. A favorite filling is shredded potatoes tossed with oregano, salt, and pepper (cook the potatoes in the microwave for 2-3 minutes before putting them in and they will always be cooked through), some sort of meat cooked with onions and garlic before putting it in (ground pork is good, so is shredded chicken, or even just a bit of bacon), a layer of shredded carrots, and then a layer of another veggie (I often use green beans and beets), and topped with a bit of cheese. Fold up your edges (if you want you can slowly pour in a couple of eggs whisked with milk and other seasonings once the edges are folded up–mostly this adds another layer of flavor and can also help hold the whole thing together a bit more when you cut into it), and bake at 375-ish until done and the crust is golden brown–usually 45 minutes or so in my oven, depending on how thick your galette is. Serve. Sorry the recipe is not more exact. This falls into a similar category for me as the classic midwestern woman’s leftovers casserole (though it looks a bit fancier)–something that you just sort of look in your fridge/freezer to see what you have for fillings and is never exactly the same twice (rice or pureed pumpkin instead of potatoes can be good in it too!)

    Good luck–I am sure whatever you make will turn out lovely!


    • Your savory galette sounds SO GOOD!! Especially the potatoes. Those layers. And you know I love inexact recipes!
      Thank you so much!! You have solved the dinner dilemma!

  2. I am with Rebecca on the galette suggestion. Love to make them sweet or savory! I stopped on Instagram and saw your comments on eyes before coming here. So ironic that you write this today. I was thinking/pondering over this very thing not long ago. We never look someone in the eye and hold that through a conversation, yet I realize how natural it has become. We have many new staff right now and working in a hospital, they all dress alike, but the eyes are the clue-the connection. I know my people through their eyes and on those short occasions when the masks come down their faces are foreign, odd, so unrecognizable because my eyes are locked on their mouth, trying to make sense of who they are.

    • Oh yes!! You have put it into words do well. Our eyes are almost natural whereas our mouths are so – I don’t know – what is the word – controlled.
      And a galette!! A perfect suggestion!

  3. That sounds like fun and great nigh time photo!
    I know what you mean about masks and eyes – you can tell when some people smile, but it’s not the same.

  4. I completely understand what you are saying about hanging in rags. I’ve been packing up my entire household to storage so I can make a final trip to Germany. So much work goes into everything. Carrying all that stuff as a sales person and being such a little bit of a human shows how strong your backbone is. I don’t see many people anymore and most are at a distance. Very little eye contact. I miss seeing peoples mouths because I tend to read lips when someone is speaking to me. Maybe when we get back from our trip, I’ll look into hearing aids. 🙂 I love a good pie. Apple or pumpkin are favorites with lots of spices added but lemon meringue is my favorite. Where you get your strength from is my question. I ran out of steam a couple of years ago.

  5. Good morning! I feel the same way conversing w/invisible speech to eyes only. As an introvert, holding eye contact has always been hard till masks. Kinda makes me understand Zorro, The Lone Ranger, The Phantom o t Opera, etc. differently. For pie… Midwestern Shepherds Pie (aka the leftovers galette) is my go-to as well on a chilly day. Or totally different, big pot of stew or chicken & dumplings with cinnamon-sugared pie dough strips for dessert. Enjoy your baking day!

  6. Oh, Tarte Tatin, always, at this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere. The apples are in season, and there’s nothing to beat that luscious sticky layer on top of delicious buttery flaky pastry… But my favourite of all is cherry pie, made with sour cherries. My mother used to bottle (can) them, and they are so good, not too sweet and with a really punchy cherry flavour. Sweet shortcrust pastry.
    And the eyes… it’s always been possible to detect fake smiles from whether the eyes are engaged, so taking the distraction of the mouth away simplifies matters, doesn’t it? People find ways around the loss of communication from facial expressions. It goes against hundreds of thousands of years of conditioning, but we’re nothing if not adaptable.

  7. A lovely quiche with good Swiss cheese, bacon and sauted onions with some thick cream of potato soup and garlic croutons. If only I had a regular stove with an oven. Hot plates just don’t do for things I’d like to make. If dessert, a pumpkin pie with maple whipped cream and good coffee. I am packing up what I can for storage so I can get into a house (I hope) in the very near future, probably not during the winter but maybe spring. I am not looking forward to winter on this blasted hill.

  8. Pastry is my next mystique food to conquer so I’m also interested in ideas. I too like the sound of galette, and love inexact recipes. In the context of sweet pies I once made a deep dish apple pie with short buttery pastry… it was delicious.

  9. Haha, I was going to extend my sympathy to you for having to be in a city for a couple of days. Not fond of cities at all but glad you enjoyed it. If I had the patience (and ability) I would make a Dobos torte. Haven’t had one in years and really do like them.

  10. I have Asperger’s syndrome, so eye contact has always been a problem for me. I got around it by looking at a person’s mouth as they spoke, which seemed to be close enough that most people don’t notice. And it also helps me to ‘see’ what they are saying, which is sometimes easier for me than ‘hearing’ it. Now, with everyone wearing masks, I can’t do this. It has been a struggle. I understand the need for masks, but I can’t wait till we don’t have to wear them again!

    • You are doing so well dealing with all that! Thank you so much for the presents link!
      I ordered from Green Elephant. Now looking for sports gear – small sloping yard – thinking cricket – for two wee boys ( 8 and 5) any ideas of a NZ link for those or something better?

      • Glad I could help! I have had a bit of a look for sporting gear, the only thing I could come up with was this site They’re pricey and several of their things seem to be out of stock, but hopefully you can find something! I can vouch that the Kubb game is a lot of fun 😀

          • You are more than welcome 🤗 I know what it is to be missing family & NZ at this time of year (or all year actually). I made the decision to move from NZ to Australia at the beginning of the year, knowing full well that it could be a long time before I got back again. It was not an easy decision to make to move, made harder by having plans interrupted unexpectedly by Covid and having a year long delay in the plans. Fortunately the borders opened briefly in June and we got back for a quick week long visit, before the borders slammed shut again. Doesn’t seem likely at this stage that we will be able to get back for Christmas, but we could travel to England if we wished. The world is a crazy place right now! Hope I made your Christmas plans slightly easier 😊

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