Have you heard the recently discovered oldest recording in the world? It’s sort of a haunting idea, a French recording of the folksong “Au clair de la lune,” recorded in 1860 by a phonoautograph, a hand-cranked device that scratched sound waves onto paper blackened by smoke from an oil lamp.
But the reality of this ghostly voice from the past… well, doesn’t really live up to its promise. Listen to it and you’ll see what I mean. A BBC radio announcer dissolved into a giggling fit after playing the clip on the radio, because someone whispered to her while it was playing that it sounded “like a bee buzzing in a bottle.” Pretty apt. (You can listen to an audio clip of her meltdown through that link.)
This morning, Rahul woke me up by singing me his rendition of “Au clair de la lune,” the Bee Buzzing in a Bottle version. It was a great way to wake up, much better than listening to Morning Edition on the clock radio, if you ask me.
From there, the day improved in two ways, despite the rainy weather. Or maybe three. One, I discovered that Philip Pullman has a new His Dark Materials book coming out: Once Upon a Time in the North, now available for pre-order. I haven’t decided whether to buy it or not, but I did put it on hold at the library. It’s a prequel to The Golden Compass, and its protagonist is Lee Scoresby at the age of twenty-four.
Two, I finished both of my aforementioned interminable knitting projects, and turned in the moonlighting project I was doing for the business school. Various weights off my chest. Here’s a picture of one of the interminable projects, my The Water is Wide scarf, blocking in the sink.
At some point, the penny dropped that the second skein I’d bought was a drastically different color from the first. They looked very similar in the hanks, but once wound into balls they were obviously quite different. The first one was very pale and golden, the second one much more saturated and predominantly lavender and teal. Thankfully, I realized this before the end of the first skein, and striped the second one in for a gradual transition in colors. You can clearly see the difference in this picture, though, and the colors are only exaggerated by the water.
Three. I got a skein of Malabrigo in the mail–Jewel Blue merino worsted, a gorgeous baby blue. Someone on Ravelry was destashing it for $5. I’m going to at least swatch for one of my The Water is Wide variations with this, if not finish the entire variation scarf. Speaking of which, here’s another sale to add to that list of sales I posted the other day: Sandra Singh has Malabrigo worsted and lace and Kauni Effektgarn on sale right now.
Oh, and four. I guess this doesn’t quite count, since I made this yesterday, but I had some great ragu for dinner last night and for lunch today. I don’t usually cook meat at home, but we’ve been shifting away from our mostly-vegetarian diets lately–backsliding, which is bad for my karma, yet so delicious. I simmered it all afternoon while I worked yesterday, so it has that really nice slow-cooked flavor. I put a couple of unorthodox ingredients in it, but mostly followed a pretty traditional recipe.
(An aside: when I lived in Italy, my roommates thought it was hilarious that the two leading brands of spaghetti sauce were named Prego and Ragu, as this would be roughly the equivalent of having two leading brands named You’re Welcome and Meat Sauce. Meat Sauce brand Vegetarian Tomato Sauce, Meat Sauce brand Basil Pesto… You’re Welcome sauce beats out Meat Sauce sauce in blind taste tests two times out of three!)
To make the ragu, I browned a package of Fischer Farms grass-fed beef in a large Dutch oven, breaking up the meat into small pieces with a spatula. When browned, I removed it to a separate bowl, then cooked a soffritto of diced onions, carrots, and celery in the rendered fat (I hear tallow is not as bad for you if the cows are grass-fed), adding minced garlic a little bit later. When the soffritto was lightly browned, I added the beef back in, then poured in about a cup of milk, and cooked, stirring every so often, till this was nearly evaporated; added some glugs of leftover white wine and cooked it down again; then added a couple of cans of diced tomatoes and spices, and left it all to simmer, stirring every now and then. The spices: dried rosemary, oregano, fennel seed, bay leaf, nutmeg, and some rather unorthodox cinnamon (only a tiny sprinkle. I love the way it tastes with meat), brown sugar (to cut the acidity of the tomatoes) and soy sauce (more salt, more umami). I added some black pepper at the end and served it over egg noodles. Eat your heart out, You’re Welcome Sauce!