Thursday, January 17, 2019

Women's Kitchen Wisdom

I taught my mother exactly two things. One was to line her baking pans with parchment paper. Mom baked a universe of goodies in her time and on a visit to AZ while she was baking I said, "I line my pans with parchment paper." "Foof," said Mom, "I don't need parchment paper," implying I was foolish and extravagant. I said, "You must like scraping and scrubbing pans, then."

Came back to visit two years later and she was using parchment paper. I said nothing. The other thing I taught her was to use an apron. She was 80. She never liked using the dishwasher, did her dishes by hand, and never let them air dry because she could not bear to see even a water glass on the counter or in the sink because it was not put away. Before I started drying dishes I said, "Do you have any aprons?" She said, Why? I said, "To keep my front dry. Otherwise my clothes get all damp with dirty dishwater." She had aprons never used -- people give women gifts of aprons just as they used to give lace-trimmed handkerchiefs -- and I put one on as I would at my Divine home, and the next time I visited her she wore an apron to do dishes, and that was all the effect I ever had on her.
Buy these trash cans or you do not have the right to call yourself female.

My sister and I trade practical kitchen gifts. Seeing that she had in the kitchen a horrid and fraying little cheapo aluminum sink-strainer I got her a stainless-steel sink strainer from chefs.com that would last forever. She said thank you and I said, "When you are doing dishes and you see this, if you remember, say a prayer for me." She mailed me awesome dishtowels printed with bunnies and later sent my treasured Reddy Kilowatt magnetic potholders and a faux LeCreuset enameled cast iron dutch oven that is exactly like the real thing. This past Christmas, horrified by her discolored and fragrant Rubbermaid kitchen and bathroom trash cans I pulled out my phone and ordered for her Automatic Touchless Infrared steel trash cans like mine, that open and close automatically with an electric eye and stay tight and smell-free, from Amazon Prime. 

One time my sister visited and I explained my rice cooker (a gift from another woman I thought I'd never use. I use it all the time). Now that my sister has one she serves rice much more often, and also at my recommendation buys and cooks the jasmine rice that actually has flavor.

My sister has an InstaPot now, can't praise it enough, and wanted to send me one for my birthday. I said I would rather have a microwave egg poacher. A friend I breakfast with orders poached eggs and I began making them about a year ago, but even piercing the yolk and taking all other precautions, three times out of four my egg exploded inside the microwave. The egg poacher came today. I had already eaten my egg for the day, and can hardly wait for tomorrow to try it out.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Herbs in January

In January, hunting green herbs seems like an oddity and luxury, but every winter here the land grants me free chives -- unfailingly, and as much as I can scissor. Often the clumps are sticking up through snow, the only greenery in a black-and-white landscape. Today there's no snow, and hunting (I needed two ounces) felt like heaven.

They grow wild mainly in areas where the soil is disturbed by mowing, and seem to like slopes, the wetter the better.

How generous these onion-grass plants are! In winter this grass enhances a butter sauce for fish or gets sprinkled on carrot soup. By mid-March, pinkish-white bulbs have formed underground: spring onions, which I pull and use like scallions, both the green and the white, and while I do that I awaken worms and nightcrawlers whom I'm delighted to have as company. In early autumn when the onion "heads" are formed, I can harvest their tendrils, which are garlicky.

Some people want to, and fight to, clear their yards of onion grass! Why?

Friday, January 4, 2019

The Middle

Thought about it -- but this is all I think about, so here it is. I trimmed the photos to reduce TMI and here's the evidence of the shrinking and much stronger middle. I attend 2 or 3 classes a week at a studio called Barre3. Began in the first week of October 2018 because strenuous exercise helps me beat the winter short-daylight cold-outside people-are-dying blues, and the "senior" classes I took were too easy and held at hours that affected my workday. One-hour barre classes are given from 6 a.m. to 6:15 p.m., and I attend when work and energy and drive time allow. Gosh, the endorphin rush and pink face after the hour is over! Guaranteed unretouched homemade photos. Bother you? Imagine it like a January thaw.
After 2 classes
after 6 classes
After 11 classes
After 16 classes
That last photo was taken in mid-December. I'm even stronger through the core today while eating, holiday-style, twice or thrice the normal allotment of cookies and pastries.

Recovering from my very first session took a week. Now it's only two days. I'm the worst participant and must clutch the barre for dear life or fall over, but am game. This sport is less social than the senior scene; most attendees are young wives or mothers, and an occasional youngun wears a tee saying "Sweating for the Wedding." In all the classes so far I have seen exactly four men, one the instructor's husband. I'm among the few over-60s.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Tips for the New Recession

I'm told the United States stock market has hit the skids and we're facing a recession as bad or worse than that of 2008, an ugly one around here, with shuttered businesses and gasoline at over $4 a gallon and city people dumping their pets here and country people poaching deer and echinacea roots, and meth labs in the woods.

Times were lean but I made it through. Just today I began listing what I'd do to survive this next one:
  1. Purchases of any type are limited to one day per week: Sunday.
  2. Avoid strip-mall businesses.
  3. Prioritize health and friends. Travel, decor and trinkets when times improve.
  4. Don't date people or acquire a pet.
  5. Increase intake of beans and potatoes (which I like), but eat 3 meals daily with at least 3 ounces of protein at each.
  6. Goodwill if needing something. Discount and ethnic grocery stores only.
  7. Gorilla Glue, y'all.
  8. Handkerchiefs and the rag bag.
  9. Exercise, but not hard or long. Hard exercise increases the appetite -- savagely.
  10. Use what you've got, like that passel of pink and orange lipsticks.
  11. Library.
  12. Work harder? No. Use leverage ( = making use of what you already have to move forward). 
  13. Uber Driver if it comes to that; already called to adjust car insurance for that.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

C.S.I. = Can See It

Like several other deer around here, this one got hit by a car just before hunting season opened in November and lay dead on the road shoulder about 200 feet down the highway. This past season Franklin County, just inches to our west (I can throw a stone over the county line), had the biggest deer harvest in the state of Missouri: more than 4,000. Sorry, Bambi fans: The herd needed thinning. Worse than seeing a deer in the road shoulder is seeing half a deer.  That's to say nothing of the people in the car. Before you get all Awww about deer hunting, imagine your own car hitting a deer that rolls at 50 mph through your windshield onto you and your passengers.

Three, four, five days and I began to wonder: Who picks up the roadkill in Missouri?

Within a city's limits: Animal Control. (Hey, all of you who love to work with animals. . .)
On a county road: Missouri Department of Conservation, and don't call about anything smaller than a deer because they believe in nature taking care of its own.
On a state road: Missouri Department of Transportation.

They do it on call, but I didn't know that then. When scavenger birds picked at the carcass I looked the other way. Then I got all involved in whatnot and left town for a week. Came back and catching up on work barely left the Divine Cabin for a week to ten days. Then going for a walk I see this. Looks like a young deer (they're the most fearless and ignorant) who was broadsided.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Hometown Hamburger: Kewpee's

At Kewpee's Lunch, the burger place opened in 1939 in my hometown and one of the town's main attractions, the burgers with pickle-on-top are excellent, they make their own root beer, and please do leave room for the classic finger-sized French fries. (Who am I kidding? I eat the fries first!) One wall is glass cabinets loaded with every permutation of Kewpie dolls: plastic, rubber, ceramic, and paper dolls, and memorabilia.

I learned that Kewpies were created by the first successful female cartoonist, Rose O'Neill, born in 1874 and brought up in Nebraska and later a resident of southern Missouri -- and in between, she lived in New York selling her drawings to Ladies Home Journal, Puck and all sorts of magazines. Merchants wanted her Kewpies in their advertising; Germany manufactured the original bisque Kewpie dolls. Not liking the doll prototypes, O'Neill went to Germany, smashed the molds, and made the manufacturer do it over. O'Neill became the world's richest female illustrator -- all because she saw Kewpies in a dream: little cherubs with no meanness in them who brought sweetness and light, unlike their progenitor, Cupid, who shot arrows into incompatible hearts for sadistic fun.

Did my heart go flippity-flop over lunch? You betcha. The original owner of Kewpee's died in 1956 -- of a heart attack. So says his obituary. No surprise there. For many years, while I was growing up, Kewpee's was the only restaurant in all of downtown.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Scrapers Gonna Scrape

Winter came early, with snow on November 8, and then an actual 4 inches of snow in this area this past week. When the snow ceases, the snowplow comes. The plow is a benefit for tenants, and I am grateful because, frankly, I have tried to shovel 100 yards of snow but every time, I failed.

Once, before the snowplow, a 50-pound bag of ice-melting salt was delivered here after a blizzard, left in the middle of the lane in front of my house. I could not move the bag, or even drag it, so I slit it open and carried the salt one shovelful at a time downhill to highway's edge where the most treacherous ice forms. After I did that 20 times, the bag of salt diminished and I dragged it away from the middle of the lane so the car could get out.

The plow is so much better, and the plowman courteous enough (now that I have asked) to clear the space in front of the garage so I can back the car out, but his blade scrapes the last gravel from the non-paved lane, leaving thigh-high drifts of gravel and snow, and soupy mud as the snow melts. I call it the "Slop-o-Rama." In front of the garage it looks like this.