Friday, December 8, 2017


It was not until 1987 that I was willing to accept that electricity is here to stay. That was the year I gave up grinding grain by hand. It still makes sense, though, to maintain basic housekeeping systems that can kick in when the power goes out.

Friends who are new to the region live in an area where the power often fails. Their digs have an enormous refrigerator that stands nearly empty most of the time. They could store emergency water in the freezer. Filling it with containers of ice will cut their power bill, protect the contents in case of a blackout, and give them a ready supply of ice water. Do the same in the main body of the appliance to reduce the cost of keeping food cold -30- More after the jump.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Notes On Housekeeping

Some time in the Eighties I read a book about housekeeping written by the wife of a career naval officer. I failed to note the author and title, but a few key concepts stay with me. The woman had set up house in postings around the world, getting the most out of the military salary she had at her disposal. There is rigor and elegance in her advice that enriches any domicile.

First, keep the yard picked up. Put toys and domestic amenities away at the end of the day. [Send a message that you value your inventory.]

Second, no matter how modest the quarters, set out geraniums by the entrance.

That's all it takes to get things in hand and keep them there. Every Deft post has been influenced by this book -30- More after the jump.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

An Easy Little Meal

At times I want good food, easy food, fast food, and good nutrition all at once. The other day I picked up a package of skinless, boneless chicken thighs, a double handful of salad mix, and a few ounces of pesto on a speed run through the market.

When I got home, I let the meat come up to room temperature, sanitized the greens with successive baths of diluted hydrogen peroxide and white vinegar (rinsing, too), rolled the greens in towels to dry them, and poached the chicken in just enough simmering water that it would not cool significantly when I added the meat starting with the largest pieces. The trick is to keep a close eye on the poaching: it's fast and simple but like cooking an egg.

I pulled the meat out to cool when it was nearly done in the middle. I could have cooked a handful of pasta in the remaining light broth, an old trick of my grandmother's, but I forgot and set up a hot pot of boiling water. The hot pot is a great convenience as long as one remembers not to heat anything with fat or oil in it. Compounds in the plastic may leach into fat.

I dressed the salad, topped it with bite-sized slices of chicken, tossed the pasta with pesto, and I was good to go. Total elapsed time was about twenty-five minutes, but I had two days' good leftovers to show for my efforts. Rolled in a damp napkin, the sanitized salad greens will keep for days -30- More after the jump.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Slow Learner

A thoughtful houseguest added an automatic drip coffee maker to the inventory. I've been wary of having too much brew available on demand. This morning I realized it's not the brew, it's the ratio of water to beans.

I can set up the maker with a rational amount of ground coffee and add as much water as I want to the reservoir. The first cup, that I always pour before the machine is finished, will be strong enough to open my eyes; later ones will merely hydrate and keep me alert -30- More after the jump.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Santa 101

Not long ago, I accompanied a friend who was stopping by a shop of fine gifts to pick up something for her foster son. As Julie inquired about her order, I overheard a dignified man explain to a clerk that he was shopping for four daughters-in-law, so it was imperative that he give them all the same thing -30-
More after the jump.