Friday, December 9, 2016

Hominy Salad

Find a can of hominy that's sized to your liking. The small ones are hard to find, but an oversized unfamiliar brand from Eastern Washington turned out to be delectable.

Drain and rinse the hominy. Heat a skillet and melt a little too much unsalted buter. When it's bubbling, add the hominy and fry until the kernels are half their size and starting to pop in the pan. Grind black pepper over the pan, turn a bit, and pull off the heat when things start to brown. 

At this point, I spoon the hominy into the small, shallow glass baking dishes that are my all-purpose refrigerator storage units.

Sanitize leaves from the best head of butter lettuce you can lay your hands on. Rinse and dry carefully and dress with olive oil and a generous squeezing of fresh lemon. Use the fried hominy in lieu of croutons. I'd just set it on top of the torn lettuce in a big noodle bowl.

The butter coating on the hominy interacts with the lemon juice to produce, frankly, a gobbling good dish of fresh greens -30- More after the jump.

Thursday, December 8, 2016


A graphic arts instructor emphasized the importance of margins in the design of the page. A classic layout devotes just fifty percent of the frame (exterior dimensions) to copy. I find that managing my time in a sustainable way demands the same, or nearly the same, proportion of production to rest.

For many healthy years I have been privileged to attend a weekly support group for persons afflicted with a dread disease. The chaos inflicted on household systems when that particular black swan sails by is greatly reduced by orderly rows of ducks.

I shut the television off a month ago and finally gained the summit of my paper midden -30- More after the jump.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Bucket Etiquette

Store upside down to protect innocent insects from being trapped -30-
More after the jump.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Easy Peas

Drain and rinse a can of black-eyed peas. Add chopped pickled red pepper, the little round ones. Scrape out the seeds before chopping. Mix with a pinch of powdered garlic and wine vinegar ordinaire. This is my quick take on a carefully composed side dish from Tanya Holland's cookbook.

I am finding it convenient to assemble a giant bowl of sanitized salad greens to use as an underlayer for deli and leftovers -30- More after the jump.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Tea Cups

Bethany stopped by for morning therapy after losing a mutual friend. We consoled ourselves with a pot of tea and my grandmother's hand-painted dishes and cut-work napkins. Much solace is to be had from heirlooms that have been offering comfort ["that which generates courage"] for generations.

Bethany remarked that another mutual friend is as ready as I to rattle off details about a little vessel that's in hand. Beth is the fastest take I have known about quality and good design. She assessed her cup and commented that the handle was agreeable and that she'd suffered unusable handles on other tea cups. Whether to discuss possessions at all is a subtle point of etiquette.

The conversation could be summed up as what is it about dishes, anyway? a question that can be answered over a convenient number of hours or days. My short take on the Western Washington version of the topic is that dishes from a reputable manufacturer, generally English, back in the day could be counted on not to contain poisonous glazes. It is only recently that government regulation has more or less protected the general public from the heavy metals that produce such alluring color. Careful consideration of table top design is the consumer feedback mechanism for the ceramics industry.

Victoria, B.C., was the nearest shopping destination for quality goods when Seattle was young. It was routine to take the ferry up for an overnight visit that qualified one for a free pass on the way back through customs. Victoria is still the destination of choice for fine table linens, tweed jackets, and discreetly designed travel clothing. High-end items are the most serviceable and cheapest per use, and English goods most suited to the local climate.

In the late nineteenth century, local tribes were still the dominant presence. European occupation of the area was brand new. It was a major statement to be able to present a meal according to the best traditions of the old world by the open hearth of the family log cabin. At the time, there were no restaurants, and private hospitality was literally a matter of life and death. The Victorian etiquette of the period survives still in this westernmost outpost of Anglo culture, as old school Spanish etiquette lingered on in Puerto Rico long after the region changed hands. Victoria's oldest house museum represents a domestic tradition that prevailed on both sides of the Straits of Juan de Fuca, when ownership of the Oregon Territory had not been determined. Tacoma's Fort Nisqually restoration presents telling details about living at the end of a supply chain that stretched halfway around the world. Being able to claim blanket space at the foot of the stairs in the blockhouse was a privilege, and being able to eat off blue willow pottery a stunning achievement. 

I believe simple hygiene is the key to understanding fine tabletop furnishings: silver is anti-bacterial and does not generate carcinogenic rust, fine ceramics are durable, non-toxic, and do not harbor what my grandmother called wigglers in discoloring  cracks. The waterproof imagery of fine dishes must have been very welcome in rustic areas. Highly polished metal and glazes amplify ambient light in a low-tech room illuminated by candles and fire. Light is a nutrient desperately needed over a Northwest winter.

Fine home furnishings were a reservoir of wealth that was untaxed until the collectibles regulation of the Eighties. That period and the late Seventies were ones of ravenous acquisition of old things that had not previously been fashionable. The economic pressures that drove women into the outside work force generated the simplification and outsourcing of many domestic procedures. I comprehend the household as having been transformed from an end to a means.

Norma Skurka's New York Times Book of Interior Design and Decoration is a reliable survey of the period of transition. Faith and Edward Deming Andrews' Shaker Furniture is the benchmark guide to an alternative vision. The owner of a Seventies New York deli, whose name I do not remember, set the course of the future by using chrome-plated commercial wire kitchen shelving and white coffee shop china in her domicile.

The straightforward good sense of white restaurant china echoes the so-called casual living style that migrated north from California during the Fifties. The difference is who is setting the table. Experience in commercial food service reinforces direct, no-nonsense presentation rather than the borderline ceremonial ritual that can be traced back to groaning medieval boards -30-

More after the jump.