Friday, November 10, 2017


Fast food by another name. The Geek's Favorite grocery chain offers unsalted pretzels filled with peanut butter. Unsalted nuts, tiny carrots milled from big ones, grape-sized tomatoes plus grapes themselves, chocolate with a sugar shell, dried fruit, little crackers, all come easily to hand to support the current thinking that six small meals a day are better than three squares-if you're doing knowledge work. Check out the Corporate Athlete training initiative. Chow down at the desk.

The butcher shop at the main intersection of the Pike Place Market offers an entertaining version of trail mix for carnivores. The concept is simple: cut cheese, sausage, and jerky into bite-sized cubes or the irregular pieces of a rolling cut. A millennial dinner guest was delighted by the mix, and I discovered that a handful tossed onto a salad the next day made an instant meal.

Green is a little harder to get right. Sanitizing lettuce with successive sprays or dips of hydrogen peroxide and white vinegar not only protects one from antibiotic-resistant field bacteria, it extends the life of fresh produce. Rinse in fresh water and roll in a damp napkin. It's easy just to grab a leaf and eat it. Carefully trimmed broccoli boiled fast and blanched in cold water mixes well with the trail mix above and various nuts and seeds. 

Cuisine this ain't, but nutrition it is -30- More after the jump.

Thursday, November 9, 2017


One of the rooms in Martha and George Washington's Mt. Vernon home has been restored. It's now called the Chintz Room, and it would be trivial to recreate it. The classic brown wood furniture with which it's furnished is grievously undervalued in today's market. Fine reproductions dominated American production in the Fifties. A recent search for a freestanding cabinet for hand sewing produced page after page of treasures going for pennies.

Wood is a precious resource, and the brown furniture that is so out of fashion was made with cheap energy from the harvest of the planet. As late as the Seventies, the US enjoyed a hugely disproportionate amount of global wealth. To have furniture at all is a relatively recent privilege for most of humanity. We are so rich in our legacy that we can't recognize it. Norma Skurka's "New York Times Book of Interior Design and Decoration" is introduced by a compact illustrated reference of historic styles of American furniture. Once you've gazed on the pictures, it's easy to spot a bargain. Look for dovetails on the sides of drawers. An ink stain inside a desk drawer is a good sign. A classic piece of furniture is a low-tech appliance designed to support a household of privilege at a time when people made their livings working out of their domicile.

Educating one's eye takes time, but the effort pays off. The Old Family Dining Room in the White House was recently, and judiciously, redecorated. The result demonstrates how contemporary art can pop old furniture to life. Much of the original brown wood furniture valued as American antique was Afro-African in manufacture. Israel and Albert Sack's evaluations of American furniture are illuminating ones that integrate colonial and native American values -30- More after the jump.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017


It's crunch time in the recycling game. Receiving sites for urban ore are under pressure, and it's time to reconsider every scrap that leaves one's hands-and enters them as well. I won't try to rehash the early rhetoric of recycling-too many generations of school children have been indoctrinated in the wisdom of sustainable systems, and I'm not up to speed on the issues anymore. 

But it's crunch time -30- More after the jump.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Angelo Pellegrini

Influenced by his  "Lean Years, Happy Years", I fried a good steak, sliced it, and saved the pan drippings. The next day I enriched a pot of greens with the drippings and the bone. This trick works with any cut of meat.

Now I grill a piece of meat and hold it in a warm oven while I saute' a vegetable in what remains in the pan. Cover and steam for a minute, and there are two fast courses in half the cooking time with tastier results -30-

More after the jump.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Constantly Childproof

When my baby learned to crawl, I engaged in a life or death race against his new powers of exploration. It took a couple of months before I could comfortably turn my back on him in certain rooms, or catch my breath, for that matter. In the ensuing years I have tried to keep the house child-proof, but an empty nest and creeping tech change have added layers of complexity. It's time to resolve the thickets of electrical vines I have happily added to the inventory.

 One ofNeal Stephenson's sci-fi novels has an inspiring scene set in a Peninsula farmhouse. The living room is festooned with extension cords that support the geeks who live there. I took courage from the sheer expedience of the arrangement to release  most of what remained of my matronly death grip on housekeeping systems.

Geeks, however, appear never to have been subjected to the dire training in electrical safety that was the lot of twentieth-century girls. No doubt that training was necessary: I suspect that discovering safe ways to apply electricity to domestic life was as hazardous in the beginning as was the introduction of suffocating gossamer polyethylene bags into the stream of packaging amenities in the Seventies.

Wallingford's lighting boutique offers just about anything I could ask for to resolve cord clutter short of rewiring the house. With the holidays approaching and foul weather offering respite from garden duty, I'll be free to explore the world of good cord-keeping -30- More after the jump.