Archive | food

down the gluten free rabbit hole

15319194_10154957027115312_2953072245975760710_nSometime this autumn I went vegetarian, as well as wheat free and corn free…the end goal is not just to lose a substantial amount of weight. .there is no real end goal, I expect to keep with this sort of diet forever.  I have lost about 20 lbs so far…and I plateaued about 6 weeks ago…but it’s winter, generally a time that pounds accumulate, right now as long as I don’t gain anything I’m a happy camper.

Meanwhile, on Thanksgiving I went to two homes and ate two turkey dinners with a few trimmings, and last week I had a couple of slices of pepperoni pizza with some work colleagues, and then a couple of days later I didn’t bring food to work so I ate a vended ham and cheese sandwich was tasted pretty good…so that’s the kinda of flexible diet I embrace. I tell people I’m avoiding wheat and gluten, but I am not religious about it. I figure every time I avoid the things I am avoiding, the times I don’t will matter less and less.

Like a lot of people I scoffed at the Gluten Free army, just another one of those bandwagons people climb onto.  YES some people have a sensitivity, but half the planet?  Where I am avoiding wheat of all stripes, with or without gluten, it has become an awfully handy resource.  Metro Portland is a ridiculously easy place to have a specialized diet, much easier than back in the MV.  When choosing a frozen pizza, it isn’t GF or regular? it’s WHICH GF pizza to buy?  My personal opinion is that GF pizza, GF cookies, GF cake….are STILL pizza, cookies and cake…so just swapping out to a the GF version isn’t the same as a healthy diet.  But a GF pizza  still makes a treat from time to time – and there’s even a place that delivers a GF pizza, that ain’t half bad.

15253538_10154955722390312_6201720187086987822_nI did a big purge at first, pressing all my freezer meat and homemade food onto my moms, and slowly I am learning which GF foodstuffs fit into my life.  Between Bob’s Red Mill and now King Arthur’s GF line, one could be happily baking from prepared mixes for a while. but many GF things just aren’t worth the bother, the taste or texture just reminds you it isn’t what it isn’t. Today I pulled off a couple of challenges.  A chicken free chicken noodle soup (with gf noodles) which was delicious, and a Shepherd’s Pie using lentils, also delicious.  Both meals were relatively time consuming,  like everyone else I don’t get much scratch cooking done on days I go to work.   I try to make up for by cooking ahead on my days off.    Sadly I don’t think there will be any soup leftover after tomorrow.

A friend turned me on to Vitacost which carries a lot of products I can’t find locally as well as things I didn’t know existed. Luckily their prices and shipping costs are quite reasonable. They don’t do that thing that Amazon does, by overcharging you to penalize you for wanting something they actually sell.  But if you have an odd diet, they probably have what you are looking for.

Sometimes you don’t know what you are looking for until you see it.  I stopped at a different grocery store last night and found that Snyder’s makes a couple of Gluten Free pretzels which I will probably consume at a ridiculous clip.  I don’t know what it is about working at a computer, but I always feel I need to be snacking on something. And pretzels make the least mess.

So in a few weeks I have moved from the ‘i’m not going to bother with gluten free products”, to “what else comes gluten free and can i eat it?”  Someone JUST opened a bakery at the end of my street….something I would have loved two years ago, now just offers me another thing I need to avoid.  But the baker does have some GF items on the menu… Portland, damn it.

 

 

simplify simplify

c9a60efd5105f7d75c171e4c57b62a6fI have written before about how i divested myself of many many things.  When I moved into this hovel, i thought i had made it to a point where i owned the least I have ever owned, and it was still quite a bit.   Unfortunately being a bit of a non-minimalist, I tend to acquire and not deaccession until I run out of storage or I have what i consider clutter. I still see things I want to own, i don’t know where that need comes from, i only know it when it happens.  I was standing in the thrift store aisle holding a little .99 saucer and it was all i could do not to buy it. i didn’t need it, it was just pretty.  but If i brought it home, it would indeed make me smile when I saw it, but where would it get stored, what would i use it for? teabags?  cookies?  spoons? what am i putting those things on now? Did one day I put a spoon on the counter and say ‘ i need a saucer to go under that spoon.’  So there was no saucer shaped hole in my life that needed filling, in the end it stayed in the store.  The art supply store has put in some tableware for some inexplicable reason…pretty stuff but not even locally made.. it was less difficult to not buy an olive wood tidbit bowl since it was more than I was willing to rationalize..and so it goes, it is a constant struggle.

Lately I am having the urge to do a big divest again, but I can’t find a good reason other than the desire.  What do i cull?  ideally i’d like to get rid of all my kitchen devices and bring all that ware down to a minimalist level.. but what do i donate ?  my electric teakettle that i use everyday?  my toaster?    without an actual oven in my kitchen I am limited in what I can do without.  the tiny microwave is on its last legs and will probably not get replace for financial reasons even though i use it everyday to reheat things i have previously cooked. I know how to reheat things in my counter oven or on the hot plate, but that makes pots and pans dirty so now i have more dishes to wash. and so forth, cooking with fewer vessels and utensils is possible and i have found enjoyable, but there are tradeoffs.   One day I would like another stove.. but where would i put it?  get rid of the sideboard? then i have to move all the stored food into cupboards, and the items in the cupboards..would have to go someplace else.  I can only imagine that i had more cupboard space in my last kitchen which was very tiny.  Because I have not allowed myself to acquire MORE cooking vessels than i had before. I added a couple of sporks which i can’t find today.

Lately I have become obsessed with watching 18th century cooking videos on youtube. It reminds me that perfectly fine cooking can be done with fewer possessions.  One day when I get another stove I may take the plunge and purge a lot of my stuff, but how can i live without my stick blender?

something fishy

2015-01-16 15.46.07 It took me a while to get around to going to Harbor Fish in Portland...which is apparently the only decent place to get fish in town…yes i know NOW that is is practically world famous.  I just figured there would be more selection at ALL the stores, and alas there isn’t.  Nearly all the fish stores i have visited sell dressed fillets, scallops and lobster that’s basically it. The only time i see fish with a head on it is the odd trout. The biggest thing keeping me away is the street, it’s very narrow..VERY NARROW.

harborfish2 I figured out the trick for the truck, if I can get DOWN the street to the end and turn around I can WAIT until the coast is clear to leave. Parking that’s another matter.  Apparently mid week midday is quiet enough to take the chance… come warm tourist filled weather who the hell knows?

Once I actually got there I found the herring I have been looking for…..and a lot of other fish with their heads on…. I didn’t understand it,  Maine used to be FAMOUS for sardines….Atlantic Herring canned and labeled sardines…but the only thing they are used for now is baiting the traps for lobsters.  But I am not going to complain at 1.99 a pound, i bought 16 of the little bastards, beheaded and cleaned them and packed them two by two for the freezer.  I can try to get down that street again when these are gone.

Sardines0_72 One of my goals is to ‘eat more fish’ – and I have been diligently trying to warm up to Canned Sardines…now i LOVE canned kippers, but the texture of canned sardines is putting me off. I’m fine with them all mashed up and spread on things, but whole and slimy out of the can isn’t doing a thing for me. But when i have had fresh ones broiled I’m quite fond of.   Since I never do anything by HALVES, I have discovered an entire world of canned fish…and there are probably more than a hundred different brands of canned sardines..hell walmart has at least a dozen.  But no longer are any of them canned in Maine or the US for that matter.  2015-01-13 13.37.01There’s a couple out of Canada and other cold water countries which are quite tasty…but who am I kidding? I can’t tell good from bad, yet.

So right now I am reading canned fish recipes, especially Canned Sardine recipes – which seem to be plentiful.   Before the US stopped fishing and canning sardines…they were a major part of the American diet. American’s didn’t mind the Fishiness, it was before our diets were so filled with salt, so getting the natural ingredients from all canned fish ( fresh ocean fish had to be transported so, most of the US got their fish canned) was just another flavor profile in their diet.  Sardines weren’t gross, they were considered delectable…and Americans also needed to get more of their vitamins and nutrients from canned oily fish so they were encouraged to eat it in every sort of dish. from breakfast, entrees and snacks.  I don’t see myself EVER eating them from the can but you never know.

2015-01-16 21.20.33 I wish I had remembered that I did want to try Stargazy pie before I beheaded all the little buggers. It’s an old cornish dish where you tuck them up to their necks with pastry before you bake them. Yes there was a time when that grossed me out too…but you get old your taste buds change…you need to eat the Omega 3 fatty acids in the fish or you die…so fish heads ain’t so gross these days.

fruit on the bottom

241c4f40-9463-4b1d-911a-88c1b7f31875_400 Bought the 1st appliance for the house yesterday…well honestly it will be only ‘appliance’ at this time… the stove isn’t getting replaced with another stove, and the washer and dryer in the basement will be run until they die, because you have to take out two cellar steps to get anything larger than a laundry basket down there.   Aside from the Fridge, the other machine purchases will be the big ass dehumidifier. I was a little proud of myself for getting my MUST purchase list down to one big-ticket item…. knock wood. I’m trying to remember but I think this is my FIRST new-new fridge, I think all my previous fridges have been used-new fridges.  What I experienced when I bought the truck, is that dropping large amounts on a single  item is a bit shocking …your brain…well at least my brain..or HALF my brain, drags its feet in the dirt all the way to the store trying every which way TO FIGURE  OUT HOW TO NOT DO IT, “surely you can get away with a SMALLER icebox?” “what’s wrong with the one that’s already there?”, “why don’t you just eat less food? you cow!”  “Aren’t you just being wastefully consumeristic?” consumeristic..that’s a word right?   In the end it gave up.

e2d4a251-27f1-40f7-998b-a715fa70b835_400I was already thinking about a new fridge since before I decided to move…. and I have decided as with many things, we Americans have it backwards.   The empty fridge is essentially what is found in most small households, when I say that read – ‘ALL apartments’ and most poor folks homes.  The inadequately small freezer is at eye level, which prompts us to consume the frozen pizza and the ice cream first,  once you slide in a few bags of frozen vegetables and blueberry bagels, you are  have very little room for cook ahead preparations Any hastily wrapped leftovers will keep falling out when you open the door, hitting your foot one too many times, causing you to throw them in the trash, since you didn’t label the brown blob in the first place and can’t decide if it’s baked beans or burnt meat.   And then there is the ‘dead zone’ in the lower back where all the leftover containers slip away to die out of sight, out of mind, leaking their juices into the vegetable drawers below.  Speaking of vegggies, just to GET at them you have to open the door all the way, and do a squat thrust, to open the drawers…which are never quite big enough for anything more than a bag of potatoes and onions anyway.  The whole design leaves the soda bottles, semi prepared foods and  condiments at hand level.

I don’t know about you, but if I had back all the money I have lost on food that went all blue, merely because it was hidden behind a wilting head of Romaine lettuce, I probably could have bought a bigger house….just saying.

That sort of refrigerator really only works in an urban environment where you can shop for fresh foods on a frequent basis, it’s not really set up for infrequent use or long-term storage.  The closer you are to fresh foods, the smaller your fridge can be. Now as much as I am looking forward to visiting Rosemont Market and Trader Joes,  I’m only one person if I buy fresh food once a week it’s probably a holiday.  I’m more of a cook when I feel like it and put away the extra for when I don’t feel like it.   But I DO LIKE TO COOK, and got very, very good at it, so I want a big ass freezer.  My other option was to buy a chest freezer – which still leaves me with the badly designed fridge with the dead zone, but gives me a hidey hole in the basement for all my banana breads and decades of premade meals.  For one person, who doesn’t get sides of dead animals delivered in little white paper packages, the chest freezer isn’t a truly frugal option.

 

All of this led me back to the freezer on the bottom resolution.  The Cheapest of the Freezer on Bottoms was $800 and was still pretty damn small. The freezer is a door, not a drawer, and in fact it was exactly like the small apartment size ones….cept assembled upside down.  The Second Cheapest was from Whirlpool on sale for $1100..yes I know I can buy a car for that…a shitty car, but a car… for that I got a decent sized cooler section about the same space I would get in an apartment size fridge…and it brings the veggie bin up to hand/eye level and gave me what I think can be considered a chest freezer for ONE person.

I really hadn’t planned on buying stuff for the house until I actually HAD the damn house, but the damn fridges were on sale this month at Home Depot, so I had to decide pretty damn quick which one I wanted and buy it now to get the sale price, and forgo delivery until September when I KNOW I will be home.  By then the kitchen floor will be epoxied, the stove will be removed and  I can stick the little bitty fridge that is there on the back porch..hopefully I will have one by then…until I can find a brawny person to help me remove the two steps and finagle it into the basement… yeah I know I don’t NEED IT,  need it. but my god..it’s MAINE, you don’t think I’m going to give away a perfectly suitable lobster and beer fridge do you?

feeling shellfish

MWB-10QT-CLAM 12 inches of snow coming…well to be fair i think we have half that now…. Instead of actually accomplishing anything today, i puttered….i made some bread and put up a few more bottles of ginger beer…kept the juncoes on the granite steps fed with chicken feed from the cat litter bucket…. and so forth… In between that I puttered on the internet, what the hell, i had to keep checking facebook and the weather report just in case they were going to change it to 14″ or 10″ – when you don’t have anything else going that…still means nothing…..

I started browsing CSA Community Supported Agriculture up in the Biddeford/Saco area…and there’s not only quite a bit of it – ferinstance Midnight Meadow Farm in Biddeford, but they also have CSF, community supported fishers, and lobstermen…i even found one place that has both vegetables and seafood..ALewives Brook Farm – I need to force myself to increase the amount of vegetables in my diet, i do think having a stove and a kitchen larger than a portajohn will make it easier… But i don’t have to force myself to eat more seafood..there’s hardly anything that comes from the sea i won’t eat.. It’s definitely out of my budget range as it stands..but bring me closer to it and i This is definitely something i could get i the habit of, especially since it will be saving money. The limit for 1 person is 1 peck a day…and that’s a lot more than i would ever eat.

Lobster is still the same price as here…and perhaps more, if you consider the supermarkets tend to overbuy in summer so they can sell them as loss leaders..but then again if i really want something i can cut back on something else…especially if i punish myself, but biking out to the beach and back again….

Yes I do realize i am painting a picture of an idealized life i may never lead…..”if you like biking so much, why don’t you do more of it where you are?” Same reason I don’t garden here and do a half million other things… every time i start doing something i like i feel guilty… like i should be doing something that makes money, i should be sitting at my desk… and then i force myself to sit at the desk, then i find a reason to feel bad about that activity…then i get up and putter, then i sit down again, then i go putter some more..then i clean something, then i sit down again…eventually by the end of the day, it tends to even out. I get a book moved from rough cut to edited…and i get the cat litter boxes cleaned, and the kitchen floor washed, and so forth and so on. Everything gets completed to an acceptable degree for me.

I like the beach in winter…..i like it fine when no one else is around…i particularly like rocky beachy Maine coast with puddles and barnacles and seaweed…i can’t think of anything more tedious and disgusting as a long strip of sandy beach littered with oily humans. But show me loud and stormy beach that will freeze your knickers off and i’m a happy girl. Free clams will be nice too, just gotta make sure i eat 30 bucks with every season.

death by ginger

1495517_10152268029960312_2015471455_nI have nearly finished with all my ‘holiday’ obligations, i made up this ‘Death by Ginger’ cake/torte thingy for the cat ladies xmas party.  I liked it though as i feared without the Ginger liqueur it was too dry for me, it needs to swim in whipped cream. I like to cook or at least i used to when i had kitchens larger than a closet. In this one I make scaled down recipes that can be cooked and eaten over the sink. Over the years i have culled my kitchen ware down, but if i were staying put, it could be considered excessive. I have a lot of things i have found that fit my cooking lifestyle yet don’t take up much room…and works with a kitchen composed of a hot plate and a large toaster oven. The idea of having a larger kitchen is enticing. As i was cooking i was surpised that i didn’t find one thing in all the cupboards that i am not taking with me, and i have only about 4 things on a list that i will buy when i move.

The two holiday dinners i did attend were with the two groups of people i can  classify as ‘friends.’ Both groups are filled with generous and caring people, but no one i see or talk to on a regular basis, basically i will have to be dead two weeks before any of them would hear about it. I’m not being callous about these friendships, some folks i have known for many years, but lately i have had to concentrate and deconstruct all of my relationships….Am i being self indulgent by moving away? what am i giving up, will i be losing anything that i would miss? if i moved into southern new hampshire closer to most of them, would my relationships change? And if they did, would that be worth losing the chance to change my life for the better in other ways? Don’t get me wrong just MOVING will change my life for the better, if only for the immediate future. But I need to be certain about my decision.

1507286_10152268086180312_1902679407_o

I also lost an aunt this week, to be fair i wasn’t really sure she was still alive. She was no longer in the Merrimack Valley, and lived a good long life with many spawn. But it only reminded me that i really have no familial ties here, i have 2 aunts and 1 uncle left in the area and i only see them at funerals. These are all folks i grew up with, whose kids are off spawning elsewhere. I could be living on the moon and those relationships won’t change. Essentially i will be as alone elsewhere as I am here. Though i have had a few folks swear they will visit me, perhaps i will end up seeing some peope MORE than i do now.

Regarding Maine v. Mass, Iwas avoiding doing as much research on Biddeford as I did for Greenfield, but finally had to do it.  Indeed most of the things i liked about Greenfield, can be seen in Biddeford. A progressive government, and populace trying to actually improve things, though the downtown as a bit of a crime problem, thats not a deciding factor for me. I rarely own anything worth stealing.

I am leaning very hard towards 1.5 acre the farmhouse i have my eye on.  It is the complete and utter opposite of what i had convinced myself that i needed.  It is essentially the house i wanted 20 years ago when i got married.  Old and large full of possibilities.  It has the outbuilding, i want, the porch i want,  it has vinyl siding, it has enough roof for solar panels etc. this would all save me money in the long run.   The space alone, the barn and the property, cause one of the voices in my head to work overtime just LISTING all the possible moneymaking opportunities.  Which brings us back around to the local history publishing arm of my business.   IF i go to that area of Maine…my tiny little side business will have the potential to be the main source of income instead of the sidebar.

The other voice in my head is rocking on her heels, just chanting ‘it’s too big, its too big’ over and over.  You can’t blame it, over the last 10 plus years every project or business venture I have tried has not worked out.  Technically nothing i can put my finger on, ‘FAILED’ at least not from lack of research or because it was a bad idea.  But projects have sort of withered and died, because putting my effort into it, meant that i had to live off the proceeds, limiting how much money I could put into the project.  No matter what i tried, i always end up back where i started from broke.

If i throw money at SicPress book repair products, and restock all the items i want to carry,…if i set up another work bench and a video camera and reshoot all the how to videos I want to do. I am certain that part of my business will be profitable…IF i didn’t have to live off the tiny margin until it got going.   Same thing with the local history publishing…… without some capital i cant even afford to order copies of some of my books unless i have a customer willing to preorder it.  Indeed…my plan was sound…put spinning racks in point of sale locations…the racks themselves cost $120, filling it with books costs at least $200-300.   ONLY then can i plunk it down someplace so the books will sell and i will get money to buy more books to refill the rack. Another business i can’t exploit.  I can go back through at least 4 other business ideas, that just sort of crumbled under the weight of trying to live off the proceeds while it grew.

I am giving myself 3 years – within 3 years i will have to be bringing in an income that can pay for the lifestyle and replace the money invested.  I figure the house and the improvements i will need to do to it, will cost me about 60% of what i will earn from the sale of this house.  At least i hope it won’t cost more than that.   I will need to spend about 10K  just on housewares…that’s including appliances and basic furniture.  Obviously i need to keep as much in the bank as possible for the future,  but i can certainly invest 10K into something that has a steady return…such AS a greenhouse, if i want.  Heck i could even rent a room to a UNE student if they don’t have pet allergies.  There are a lot of ways for me to make a little income at this and that.  As long as I put all my efforts into the publishing and distribution…

These are the thoughts that keep me awake at night…do I be ultra conservative and buy the tiniest house without any extra rooms, extra land or space, and not spend any money on anything else? or do i make some prudent investments in things i think i can keep up with.  As we all know i am basically lazy and prone to fits of depression. Will that change?  Will not having money woes for a little while change  things so i can actually accomplish some of the things i want?

What would i be doing right now if i were already elsewhere?  Right now next year? with all the bills being paid, and my brother’s terrorism a fading memory…. i’d be sitting with my laptop on a couch in a living room working on a series of maine history books that i can get into gift shops in the spring of 2015.  That’s it…yes my house would be larger and less squalid with more rooms and doors. There will be fewer cats with the couple going away, but i do want a dog larger than the chihuahua so pound for pound it will even out.  But the day to day work won’t really change, it just won’t be accompanied by mountains of stress which i think gets in the way of my actual productivity.  At least that’s what i am going to put my money on.  Otherwise what’s the point?  I can buy a tiny squalid house in southern  New Hampshire, within arms reach of the friends i have now.  I will piss away the money i have just paying property taxes and in a few years i will be in the same place i am now, but without the large cushion in the bank.

If i put my mind to it, i can talk myself into nearly anything.  Even if they don’t agree, the voices usually cancel each other out and I end up doing what i want anyway.  And who knows what else the universe will present to me on the way?  I would like to do a lot more baking in the new place.  The smells alone are inspiring.

 

substitutions

highschool Today was the 1st day they called me to sub at the high school..which is convenient, they just opened the NEW section this year. trust me you didn’t want to see any part of the old building…just think post war poland, cement blocks and everything…lets just say there was a lot of walking involved today. Methuen doesnt pay much for subs…it’s about 54 after taxes, which is fine for me, i am usually not THAT productive between the hours of 6:30 and 1:30 to begin with. It gets me out of the house, i interact with young people which makes me very happy i don’t have any waiting for me at home and every couple of weeks i get a bump in the bank account. And it needs all the bumping it can get.

End of the month, the tiny royalty check came in just in time to pay Lawyer#4 his consulting fee. Shockingly i also i got a few orders, including one off etsy, and a couple from ebay … enough to get some cat food, some erasers for the website, and a few groceries.

Between flush weeks, I avoid the grocery stores unless i absolutely have to go in…i simply have no will power, if i am out of something i just put it in the cart like i’m a millionaire or something,  I’d rather just run into a specialty store and just grab what i need to get by…the asian grocery for tofu and soy sauce, the arabic bakery for fresh pita bread,   the english pork sausage and pie store for a couple of meat pies.  I find there’s less temptation to load up on other things.

chickenbarb

Needless to say i have been flipping through yelp pages for Greenfield, to see what i have for options.  I can’t find evidence of a restaurant supply store like the one i have access to, the kind with professional grade cookware, dirt cheap, not that i NEED to buy anything, but i will miss the browsing.   Same with the ethnic food stores…the town is 92% white…i don’t see a big Syrian population turning out competing kafta if you know what i mean.  I’m guess i’m gonna have to learn to cook anything i really miss, unless i can get someone to send me care packages…..is 87 miles to far to drive for baked goods?

Yeah they have a food co-op and the people there are very organically and ‘locavorically’ inclined, but there are regional foods here that i will definitely miss.   One is the deceptively simple sandwich called the chicken barbecue, with dueling 1920s origin stories,  a bar food by-product of bootlegging, it once flourished thru the valley,  but is now rarely found in its original state.   It has nothing to do with barbecue, and the original recipe is only partially chicken. A  50/50 turkey chicken DARK and Light mixture steamed in a pressure cooker with aromatic vegetables and family secret seasonings, let cool,  drain, shred, rehydrate with broth.  Must be served on a SPECIFICALLY constructed sandwich:  seeded hamburger bun, lettuce leaf, scoop of chicken slightly drained with a slotted spoon, and the mayo goes ON The top bun.   Anyplace that puts boiled until dried out chicken on a roll with mayo under the lettuce should be avoided at all costs…they are philistines.  Good thing I have the original recipe while helping edit that article, because it is DEFINITELY worth driving 87 miles just for a sandwich.

flirting with produce

Greenfield_Onions_1939_72 I seem to have figured out that there are stages of moving just like stages of grief …apologies to kubler ross…. When i first grasped the idea of pushing on, i was angry, i had to get angry with the city, with my brother, with myself mostly…but the anger helps keep one motivated…. then i was scared…..was i making the right decision, what if i fucked it all up and so on….but once i started shaking all the nits out of my life, i started getting maudilin listing all the things I would actually miss, Then I felt guilty about abandoning some of my friends and unfinished projects, then i moved into bargaining.perhaps 87 miles isn’t all that far, i have a friend who drives to new york city for work every week, why would i whimper about a few hours of podcasts and audiobooks? IF i had a car from this century that can take the mileage, of course.

ok, so i’m back where are started from after flirting with multi units, chickens and greenhouses, and all sorts of possible ways to make ends meet and i am comfortable with the thoughts, even though between you me and the wall, i’m not likely to begin a brand new career when i haven’t given up on the old one..ones….I am having a few thoughts creeping back into my head that i haven’t seen for a while. Back before I got married and divorced and so forth, i had an impression my own house, someplace with a stove that works, a place with closets, a kitchen table…a kitchen that was big enough for a table…a bathroom that was big enough for a hamper, a bedroom with a door… i had a few of those things when i was married, but not for long. I’m not looking for much these days… beyond the bedroom door and the bathroom hamper, i really only care if that i have enough room to have my work room, my office and my storage all in the same vicinity. Room for bookcases and a file cabinet, large desk and such in such a way, that i can actually walk through rooms without bumping into things.   Catering to the job i HAVE kinda trumps anything else.

I wasn’t going to start working on a series of Pioneer valley books until the house was at least on the market, but fuck that… i don’t really have much else to do, so i did. I start puling together a bibliography, and some texts and got a good idea of the scope available. The more I looked at Greenfield, the more reasons I had to do it. And unlike the Merrimack Valley I think i have a good chance of finding people who WANT to see their town histories for sale to a new audience. I don’t want to keep slagging on about Methuen, but seriously i never met a place that wanted to bury their history in a pit, as much as here.

While poking around at the Library of Congress site I found a few series of Franklin county photographs. A few of harvest time…and a number of very nice techincal shots of area bridges. Which lead me to remember that I used to be a pretty damng good photographer once upon a time. I think SicPress (especially now that the website is done over) will have to expand into the area of photographs, both old and new. doncha think?

I do love the onions. i’m gonna blow that up and frame it for the kitchen.

the adventure of beans, beans . . .

I discovered that the library where i do all my research at has a copy machine that does scanning as well…and i mean SCANNING, like scanning entire books to multipage pdfs. That is going to save me soo many hours.

I have a couple of books, i want to get digitized by the end of the year…as well as a fat book on women journalists…and a suprize entry..Secrets of New England Cooking which was my go to references for 18th and 19th century recipes. Turns out it is in public domain. So i scanned it which is the 1st step towards digitization. The next is transcription..which is so much faster from a digital version. I am planning to have a nice selection done by the end of the year… I promised the Farm Store I would give them a spinning rack by late september, hopefully I can afford it.

I spent too much time reading this book today, and ended up throwing a pot of baked beans in to cook. As carb filled as old tyme New England Cooking is, you have to admit it is cheap and filling. It is also the menu of my youth…aside from a dozen back of the box recipes, and a small cluser of Canadian recipes, my mother was a basic Yankee cook. Clam Chowder, Baked Beans etc… She wasn’t a very adventurous cook, but i survived…and became an adventurous cook. Now the wheel has come around and I am relying on the simple recipes that I can cook with my eyes closed.

pan galactic

I finally asked around outloud…and a friend of mine who has access to such things is going to help me out by cutting this in pieces….let me explain… years ago i had my oven disconnected. I just didn’t like the idea of a gas pilot burning night and day on an oven i don’t use. And the reason i wasn’t using it, is that i just didn’t like the idea of heating up the entire oven, to cook what is usually a loaf pan’s worth of food. I do miss the burners like mad…but i have found the electric burner is workable…back to the pan…. the oven i use is a counter top model which is pretty big on the inside, i can bake bread and cook chickens etc.. not so small as a toaster oven…but not so large as a real one. In fact no pan can be any wider that 12″ …which excludes a LOT of pans. I have carefully collected a selection of smallish cooking pans over the years…but the Giant or Texas muffin pan has escaped me. For the most part they are 14 inches or more wide.

In the past i tried cutting a pan myself and ended up with a mangle mess. You can cut flimsy aluminum with tin snips..but because of the rolled edges and the tight space between the divots it tends to not stay in the original form. What I really wanted is a steel pan with the reinforced muffin divots. Ray said he’d take a stab at his machine shop, so i quickly ordered two of the Wilton pans, the King sized and the Giant Sized…this should give him one to muck up for the first try. They will arrive on Monday…

I want to say they are my first Birthday presents to myself this year.but that’s probably not true. I know i have bought stuff frivolously this week… extra Christmas presents for a friend, a handful of Kindle publications, take away foodstuffs….usually i start buying myself birthday presents after Thanksgiving and stop somewhere in January. Very self indulgent i know. But I REALLY want these pans…i have PLANS. I have plans for meat pies and cupcakes, cheese cakes and meatloaves…

It occurred to me that other people are probably looking for these in a small width as well. I wish I was clever enough to exploit this kind of niche market by cutting them and selling them on ebay or something.

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