Friday, October 30, 2015

A Simple Confection

I prepped a storage tray of apple slices, intending to use them over a complex salad, cutting the ends off several Fujis, peeled them with a small knife, and sliced faceted flakes off the fruit as I rotated it in my hand. The idea was to produce pieces that are easy to pick up with chopsticks, my current favorite implement for eating salad.

There was no lemon in the house, so I used sour cream to dress the fruit to prevent browning. It was good over the salad, but spectacular the next day. The fruit apparently absorbed the acidic component of the cream, leaving it covered with what tasted like a thin coat of whipped cream.

This would make a good old-fashioned dessert served with short bread and chicory coffee. 

More after the jump.

Thursday, October 29, 2015


I know this slow-cooked rice slurry from a Chinese cookbook, but have been experimenting using Western seasonings. Doing so simplifies the pantry and speeds preparation.

The weather turned autumnal. I decided it would be good for morale to have a hot pot of something ready in the late afternoon. Slow-cooked anything is a cinch to prepare and recreates nineteenth century back of the stove coasting, when the main meal was at noon. 

I checked proportions-a quart of liquid to a cup of rice-and opted for a box of chicken stock and long grain brown. I opened a can of chicken breast pieces and converted a double handful of chanterelles from its intended destination over a steak, gave them a quick wash and slice, and that, as I recall, was it.

I set the electronic pressure cooker on ten minutes of high and forgot about it for the afternoon. The combination of ingredients was synergistic, producing a gently savory first course that took the curse off the arsenic hour. 

More after the jump.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Quick Fix

Seattle's Japanese boutiques use straightforward panels of fabric to modify their ordinary early twentieth century commercial spaces. I envy the sophistication with which traditional fabrics are deployed to transform stolid plaster into a kind of elegant infinity.

My first experience working in this genre was to discover the noren a friend had placed between his kitchen and dining space. Only a foot or so long, the noren trapped cooking fumes and diffused the overhead kitchen light that glared into the dining area. Not much more than a scarf, the carefully designed speck of fabric had major architectural impact.

A classic bohemian ploy of the American Fifties was to use burlap to curtain or panel the walls of a room. The entry of my 1890 house has a double-height stair hall that draws every bit of heat from the main floor. Two spring-loaded curtain rods and a fifty-foot roll of landscaping burlap made short work of stopping the drafts. I simply cut double lengths of fabric and hung them over the rods. A few extra inches of fabric extending old-style onto the floor block air flow.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that the burlap has a supple hand. The open weave drapes like a first-quality scarf, and it filters urban light into welcome rustic irregularity. After a few years, the burlap will grow shabby, and I'll simply roll it up and leave it in the nearest pea patch for recycling. At fifty cents a yard, it's the best buy around. I'll have to check for toxicity-there's a strong, though diminishing, scent of weatherproofing, but I'm glad I took a chance.

More after the jump.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Meeting The Master

NPR's car guys Click and Clack claimed that if one disassembles a Volkswagen bug and puts it back together again often enough, eventually one will generate enough parts to make two of them. Experience has proved the validity of this assertion, at least domestically. Time and furniture arranging disorder have generated enough surplus home furnishings to fill several rent-a-vans.  

Studying dive-quality zip lock plastic bags, I ran across Maximum Expedition's awe-inspiring pocket tool kit. Over the decades I've minimized my puttering kit and generated several square yards of empty space in the process-on a street where an eight by ten foot view rental now commands $55 a square foot. The new resource will make a good morning's study once the grim rains of November appear.

More after the jump.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Two Dollar Assistant

A fresh blade in a utility knife halves the time it takes to finish a project.

Roll down the top of a paper garden recycling bag and stand it up to one's right (or left if a southpaw) to make a waste bag equal to the bulkiest trimmings. Being able to discard and collect waste in one swift movement keeps production running fast.


More after the jump.