Friday, September 1, 2017

Gaining Purchase

The annual Labor Day migration comes at a time when the best deals are to be had on outdoor furniture. Received wisdom holds that it makes sense to start keeping house with garden furniture, preferably from a thrift outlet. Then when one can afford furniture that's worth house room, the garden, too, will be adequately furnished.

The indoor-outdoor strategy has another advantage: it save space and hassle to have chairs and tables that can easily be moved to the garden. The Windsor chair was originally a garden piece, the director's chair a portable throne -30-

More after the jump.

Thursday, August 31, 2017


A friend volunteered that he prefers furniture he can vacuum under. Not a bad idea. Small spaces look larger when furniture is set on legs. Cats have more room to play. Flush to the floor furniture inevitably accumulates organic detritus that feeds moth larvae -30-
More after the jump.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Gumbo Light

Paul Prudhomme's chicken and smoked sausage gumbo takes on a feather-weight ladies' lunch quality when it is made with shallots and poblano chilis rather than onion and green pepper. The original recipe calls for a mixture of cayenne pepper and powdered garlic to season the meat. Prudhomme's Louisiana Cooking is a benchmark volume in my kitchen. The food is not uniquely regional: I identify many of the recipes as simple down home early twentieth century cooking from the banks of the Mississippi.

Gumbo is a dish worth studying. The most useful advice I've been given is that gumbo is an approach rather than a specific recipe. One variant is called muddy water gumbo: there's no roux, just a big pot with various added. Cook in a neutral stainless steel or enameled cast iron pot so the flavors will not be distorted -30-

More after the jump.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

De-bunking A Cliche'

I knew a fellow whose colleagues said he did indeed put his trousers on both legs at a time. At night, he disrobed at the foot of the bed like a fireman so he could make a fast getaway first thing

I am indebted to visiting digerati for showing me how to accelerate am lift-off. An automatic drip coffee maker and an energy bar shave half an hour off the morning.

I've enjoyed a running design chat with the two about how to set a civilized table. One visitor was a competitive foodie in a busy city, the other is still a skater at heart, with a skater's unwillingness to be mired in procedure. Between the two of them, the received wisdom of the traditional tabletop has been well and truly tested.

I simplified visually by substituting plain white bowls of eighteenth-century profile for the more colorful period rimmed soups I'd been using. That one change, added to the  other plain neutral dishes of the set, relieves the diner's eye, freeing it for a device, if necessary, or conversation and planning. Stemmed glassware is still an issue, but only for  state occasions. I decided to keep using the fluted French bistro glasses that have been around since 1910. They stack and wash in a flash-30-
More after the jump.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Parlor Toys

There's a class of toy I cherish-the not inexpensive ones designed to be passed from one generation to the next. I learned that they are called parlor toys. A Noah's ark was a classic item. 

When in the Seventies the fine arts began publicly to recognize the existence of women, their product was referred to, oddly enough, as women's art. Off and on over the ensuing years I've mumbled to myself about men's art, specifically the work of persons who prioritize raising a family. A gifted amateur is no small resource. I treasure an heirloom jumping jack, an unpainted folk piece that could easily be overlooked and discarded by an uninformed heir. The form and workmanship is superb and eloquent.

An untrained child uses it under supervision until its judgement and motor skills are adequate. Plastic action figures can easily brutalize, because they are nearly indestructible. That said, the hot item in the family toy chest is a first generation Game Boy -30-
More after the jump.