Friday, December 22, 2017

Editing Christmas

The traditional back to back holiday menus of Christmas eve, Christmas breakfast, and Christmas dinner are a marathon challenge to forward-thinking and responsible behavior during the rest of the year. My elders started shopping and baking in July. This year is different from all other years. Such were the work and travel commitments of various members of the family that it looked as if Santa would be out of town. The rest of us sketched in a minimalist overnight, since two thirds of us would be working (with luck) twelve-hour days up until the eve.

The traditional, and laborious, presentation on Christmas eve morphed over the course of twenty years into home-made pizza. I elected this year to have the food delivered from a favorite local vendor. That decision made, the crew turned its collective judgement to Christmas Day. We decided to celebrate Santa's unexpected early return with an extravagant version his favorite breakfast, laid on late Christmas morning after a head start with coffee, leftover pizza, and stockings -30-
More after the jump.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

An Elegant Toe

A chance conversation with a budding cordwainer led me to draw his attention to the classic sneaker that the foundation of my uniform. Understandably, before I could comment, he snorted something about a five dollar shoe. I pointed out, though, that the design has been in production since 1916 and that the shape of the toe is characteristic of high-end London custom work -30-
More after the jump.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Simple Table

At one point I decided that white linens and candles would eliminate two of the maddening number of variables involved in presenting a meal at home. Thirty years later, I'm still glad for having made that choice. The secret of white linen is that it's the easiest to wash and most durable of all table coverings. The secret of white candles is that they don't stain white linen, and that they resemble beeswax, the very best.

The minor formality of white accessories can enlivened with flowers and trivial goofy artifacts. In fact, during the Middle Ages, little ornamental figures made from almond paste were meant to be eaten at the end of the meal. It would be fun to set kids loose with marzipan and food coloring to keep them busy before Santa shows up.

I've had a continuing and edifying conversation with younger friends who are setting up their first household. Space is tight. When I recently offered them a coffee set, it was carefully declined with an added comment that anything that goes into the house at this point must be matched by something that exits. Interestingly, the design of the glass carafe that came with their automatic coffee maker echoes that of the high-end Italian designer whose stainless steel was chosen to furnish the Concorde. His work, in turn, echoes that of a radical turn of the twentieth century silver service produced in Vienna. The short version of the critique is that a vessel that is wider at the base than the lip holds heat.

The focus on using one set of gear every day is a sensible one that saves resources. In my world, attention is the asset in shortest supply. My friends are influenced by the popular domestic culture of 1950s southern California, that swept the West Coast all the way up to Seattle. It would be kind and good to revive the old custom of setting up a "hope chest" for young adults. Back in the day, a girl was encouraged to consider her choice of dishes and flatware. By the time she married, she would have fabricated by hand a full collection of bedding and table linens. Young people hone different skills nowadays, but actively considering essential home furnishings is always a good use of time. At the very least, basic cookware (field gear will be a good start) allows one to get the most from easily-stored basic ingredients rather than squandering money and health on junk food -30-
More after the jump.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Shop The Cupboard

Though my food service inventory is pared close to the bone, I overlooked the cream pitcher I spent a couple of hours shopping to replace the other day. Next time, I'll excavate the corners of the bottom cupboards-30-
More after the jump.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Candle Yoga

For clean burning, make sure the wick is trimmed short enough to prevent flickering. Extinguish a candle by using a snuffer or, as Mrs. Stewart recommended, by placing a forefinger in front of the flame and blowing toward the finger.

The safest candle holders I have found are the northern European heavy glass snowballs that hold tea lights. Increase security by anchoring them in place with museum wax.

Simplify life by burning only the off-white candles that most closely resemble genuine beeswax, or spring for the real thing -30- More after the jump.