Sunday, September 30, 2012

Spices, Green Pans, and Afghanistan's Plains

So it's on to a new documentary series for me while waiting for the next episode in RG, AL, & PG's newest series, Wartime Farm. The series I'm rewatching is "Edwardian Farm" set in 1901. Click here to watch. What prompted me to write this is my astonishment upon noticing that, as Ruth Goodman set up the new Edwardian kitchen and stocked her shelf, she put a tin of Colman's Mustard up, and it's the exact same tin as what I buy today in 2012. Amazing.

Around Arlington and Bardwell, McCormicks was the stock spice for ages, mostly still is. It comes in itty bitty tins and costs far too much. When I can, I tend to buy spices in tiendas (Mexican stores) where they are reasonably priced and British or Hungarian brands, same thing. A lot of my fiber friends buy online from Penzeys, which they swear by, but I've not tried. I figure my palate isn't delicate enough to discern the difference.

Likely I use more powdered mustard than most around here. I make my own mayonnaise, and only use powdered mustard for that. I don't know anyone else who makes their own mayo, which I find weird considering how easy it is. At least I know what I'm eating and am not eating strange chemicals in it. I get enough of those in things I can't control. I also like to use powdered mustard in my deviled eggs.

Okay, let me say that  if you don't have any of the new green pans, you need to get at least one. The other day in a local Dollar General Store I fell prey to a "gotcha" display and bought at quite a decent price a 10" skillet with the new green finish. Since I'm yammering about it, I ought to provide more information on them, but I simply don't want to go out fishing for it. Suffice to say, it's a non-stick finish more durable than the original teflon we fell in love with. It's not supposed to peel off like teflon eventually does, and not supposed to pose the health problems that disintegrating teflon does.

All I can say at this point is that this is the easiest skillet to clean I have ever owned in my life. It's a nice heavy one - by that I mean it's stocky enough to heat evenly without being as heavy as cast iron. So far, it doesn't seem to matter what I cook in it, all I have to do is spray it with water, run the light-weight scrubbing brush around it, and tip it over into the drainer to dry.

And just because I'm rereading David Weber's "March to the Sea" which quotes part of this poem, and I'd heard it ages ago, before we first went in to war in Afghanistan, here's a stanza of a poem, "The Young British Soldier" written by Rudyard Kipling in 1895. I remember wondering what the hell America had gotten itself into when it didn't go in, smash the Taliban to smithereens, find Osama Bin Laden at the outset, and get the hell out.

Afghanistan has been conquered by no country. The British Empire fled, the Soviets fled, and I wish we would flee before 2014. How stupidly egotistical our military was and is. And yes, I'm an Air Force veteran who disagrees with the big boys in Washington.

The Young British Soldier, Rudyard Kipling, 1895

....When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
     An'go to your Gawd like a soldier.
     Go, go, go like a soldier....

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Extreme Tact and Cool

Extreme tact. What is extreme tact? This is tact that goes so far beyond being tactful that it begs the question, "Why the hell didn't you just and so?" This morning, after staying up until 4:00 a.m., my mother decided to get up at 9:30 a.m. Me, sleeping on the sofa, sort of woke up and realized she was up and went back to sleep. At 11:30 a.m. I finally began to wake up, and moved around a bit. My mother, keying on this, sang out to the living room, "Gayle? Have you had breakfast yet?"

So, to save myself from thinking this is tact going beyond the point of stupidity, I have to remind myself it is coming from a woman with no mind power. She's sat for 2 hours not more than 4 feet from me sound asleep on the sofa, and she asks, "Have you had breakfast yet?"

I know I have the tact of a door knob. My husband has worked with me for 20 years to improve this fault. He still needs to remind me of it. But, seriously, what the hell is wrong with simply saying, "Gayle, honey, I'm really hungry. Would you mind getting us some breakfast?"

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lola Update 09/27/12

A few words of update on Lola. She seems to be declining a bit more lately. It's getting harder and harder to get her up out of the bed. She has a little hacking cough at times. However, her appetite is as good as ever.

Getting Lola out of the bed is troublesome. She's slipping more and more into simply sleeping. I know that if I weren't here, she'd simply lay in bed until she died. I face a dilemma whenever I go to get her up - it startles her so much to be awakened, and I hate to make her feel that way, yet if I don't force her to get up, she'll get progressively weaker and not be awake long enough to eat enough to nourish her body.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Paying Bills and Stores Changing

I've become a hermit, seriously. If I don't absolutely have to go out, I don't. In regard to paying bills, here, again, is the sweet spot of living in a small community. The cable bill is the same each month, and they do automatic billing, so that's set on automatic withdrawal. The electric, water and gas are different. The amounts change each month, and none of those do automatic billing. Well, maybe the electric does by now - it's been nearly 3 years.

Frankly, I am the world's worst on mailing in checks. I'm quite full of good intentions, which fall by the wayside. I am so spoiled by living in cities where every single bill can be set up on automatic, that for the life of me, I cannot handle actually writing a check, sticking it in an envelope, smacking a stamp on it, and mailing it. How friggin sad is that?

However, there is the nicest man that knocks on our door from the electric company who says, "Hi, dear. If ya don't pay, your lights go out." I quickly get the checkbook and pay, gladly. I keep thinking I must pay this darned bill in a timely fashon. But, but, but, I like the man that knocks on the door. Besides Uncle Charles, Aunt Agnes, and occasionally Julia, Jill and Jeanne, and Sheila, with a car payment, I don't have visitors. The electric man chats  a few minutes while I write the check. He tells me about the new house he and his wife have moved into, and it lights up my whole day.

The City Clerk, Anita, calls me, and in not these words, says, Gayle, get your butt down here and pay the water bill or we'll cut it off. Occasionally, she misses a call, and when I realize I can't run water for coffee, I get cleaned up and walk into her office with a hang-dog look and pay the bill. Then we laugh, chat if the office is empty, and that makes my day.

On stores changing, Hocker's is changing as the times change. From the time I can remember, Hocker's had one big grocery store room and a room off of that that housed appliances and furniture for sale. At some point in time while I was away, they acquired the store next to them and brought in more appliances. Yet as the times changed so has their market, and they are doing a good job of adapting.

After the hardware store in Bardwell closed down last year, Hocker's started carrying more household repair items in the room next to the grocery and moved most of the appliances into the third room. I hope that works for them, and I'm glad because a lot of houses around have seriously old electrical systems, and finding fuses for this old house is frustrating.

But the upstairs of the second room always held furniture. There is a large wooden staircase, at least 8 feet wide, in the center of the room that leads to the second floor. There's a loft that runs around the front of the room, and they always had sofas, chairs, beds, kitchen tables, whatever you needed for a house on that second floor. My grandmother's chest of drawers from I don't know when had a Hocker's stamp on the back of it; it was likely bought in the 1920's. Jill and I tormented our mothers running up there the minute we hit the store.

Today I decided I was over the chairs in Lola's house, and that it was time to buy a comfortable recliner. While Joe was here, it wouldn't have worked as he would have thrown a fit. Since Mother can't even remember that Joe is dead, I figure she'll deal with a new chair in the house. Now, I knew that Hocker's was cutting back on it's furniture but still hoped they'd have a chair I'd like. I mean, really, I'm going to have either pay a $50 delivery fee to get a recliner from Paducah or beg help in getting a ten-ton chair out of the pickup truck and into the house.

So I walk into Hocker's, and to my dismay there wasn't stick one of furniture on the second floor. I nearly cried. On the one hand, I don't want to be one of those old women who simply can't adapt to changing times, but on the other hand, there are some things you just don't want to let go of.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Just Thoughts on Lola and Me

Just wanted to make a post to record some odd thoughts and different things.

Last night, I just let Lola sleep in her chair. She stayed up so late that I thought she'd never give it up. When I finally cried "uncle," - it was after 5 a.m. -  I was fed up with her and didn't want to mess with changing diapers and clothes. So I just covered her with a throw and plopped her chair into full recline, said good night, and left her to it.

Of course, she was up and moving before noon, but I wasn't ready to face the day. I've allowed her to totally screw up my day and night cycle. In the afternoon, when I finally agreed to sit up and acknowledge I would have to live, she had been up and moving. 

Lindsey Stirling New Video

Lindsey Stirling has just uploaded another eye- and ear-candy video. Just love that gal!

Meatless Sausage From Food Storage By Imstillworkin

Here is a video put together by Imstillworkin over at This seems to be a fabulous recipe for emergencies - electricity is out for a long time, stores are closed, and you're out of breakfast meat. Of course, it's also pretty good for any vegetarians in your life or if you're trying to cut back on meat and fat in your diet.

The link she followed on the internet for the recipe is here.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Zito Media

You know, I’ve not been one to post a bunch of complaints about consumer services, but I've had it with Zito Media. Zito has provided the absolute worst service for internet connection that we’ve experienced since 1995. That’s 17 years. What a reputation for a company – the worst service in 17 years.

Max and I have had cable internet connection via Comcast since 1995. We had it in Oak Ridge; we transferred it to Harriman when we bought a house there. We transferred it to Memphis when we moved to Memphis. Occasionally while we were living in Harriman we had a bit of trouble with connection, but we also knew that Harriman had infrastructure issues.  We love our Comcast account.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Lola Update 9/13/2012

Lola is puttering along just fine. I think I see a bit more of diminishing mind. Lately, she's been unsure how to put her bottom dentures in. After I hand them to her, she frequently asks if she's holding them the right way to put them in. Mostly she is. However, she's more frequently putting her fingers in the denture glue and not realizing how to hold them to avoid messing up the glue or her fingers.

Her ability to communicate with me has been a problem, and I thought it was bad before. It's getting even worse lately. When I wake up in the morning, and she has come into the living room and sat down in her chair, she never ever greets me anymore. She used to do that when I sat up from the sofa and indicated "let's get this day started."

The Fish Butcher and Eric Ripert

Yes!!!! I found a clip of Justo Thomas. It's in one of Eric Ripert's "Avec Eric", which makes sense since Justo Thomas is the fish butcher at Eric Ripert's restaurant La Bernadin.

Go to about 14 minutes 4 seconds if you just want to see Justo.

That episode also has a recipe for what looks like a lovely scallop dish. I love good big, fresh scallops. They're hard to find around here.

On January 12, 2016, I edited this post, because I originally said to go to 4 minutes, when actually the clips of Justo are at about 14 minutes. Sorry and apologies to anyone I unintentionally misled.

Boys, 4-Wheelers and Insurance Commercials

The boys across the street have a four wheeler.  I sit here in the den and watch them riding that 4-wheeler. It's a gas. It's absolutely amazing how entertained those boys are by riding that 4-wheeler in circles/squares around that yard. In the last 2 years they've worn a path on the left/east side of the lawn.

As an adult, you know how quickly kids tire of things. Yet, for the past 2.5 years, those kids have ridden that 4-wheeler around and around that yard. They're still not tired of it. Amazing.

Unum is showing a commercial on hulu that's driving me nuts. It's portraying people acting as if health benefits aren't important, as if they were young and thought they'd never need benefits. I think the people at Unum that approved this ad must be rich. I don't know any middle class person that acts like they don't need health insurance.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The King and I

This is just a quick post to keep a memory. Tonight we had another storm go through, and of course, it knocked the cable and internet out for a while. Last week I struggled to find a movie for Mom to watch. This time I found a DVD of "Anna and the King" which I put in for mother to watch. She has sat there enthralled.

It brought to mind a poignant memory for me. Many years ago either Mom or Jeanne, I bet Jeanne, procured tickets for a stage production of Yul Brenner in "The King and I" in Nashville. Jeanne, Jill, Mom and I went to see it. We sat in a balcony so high up I was scared to move. But I will never ever forget going to see that production.  Mom has forgotten it.

I forget so much of my life. That's one reason for this blog. Yet seeing that play with Jeanne, Jill, and Mom has stayed in my memory.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Cooking Tuna with Jose Andres

This post is to include a link to a show featuring Washington, D.C., chef Jose Andres in a show he did called "Made In Spain" cooking dishes with tuna. Here is the link:

For those not used to a Spanish accent, Andres has a fairly strong one. Just remember that the letters -cia, z, and s in the middle of words usually sound like "th" to us, and the letter v sounds like a "b." For example, the area Galecia (Ga-lee-see-ah to us) sounds like: Ga-lee-thi-ah. The area Valencia (to us Va-len-see-ah) sounds like: Bah-len-thi-ah.

The first dish he makes is a tapa called Ensaladilla Rusa, which is actually a potato salad with tuna, and he tops it with trout roe. The potato salad is different from what we're used to in the U.S., or at least in my area, in that it also has cooked carrots and green peas. I can hear Max groaning now. Andres made an olive oil mayonnaise, which I have to admit has me groaning. He also used balsamic vinegar as the acid. I've tried using only olive oil for mayo, and it went straight in the garbage pail. Goes to show my appalling lack of taste, I guess.

The next segment of the show  is shot at sea as the fishermen fish for tuna, the bluefin. Then he goes into a restaurant famed for its treatment of tuna and shows various dishes and treatments of tuna.

Following that Andres goes back to his home in D.C. to do a dish. I had to just shake my head because the man started the segment with a block of tuna that would likely cost $100 at the very least. Yep, I'm gonna run down to my local Kroger and pick up a block of tuna a foot long, 4-5" wide, and 2" tall. Mebbe after I win the lottery.

Other than the appalling waste of food used in filming cooking shows, though, I've enjoyed the series. In keeping with my effort to refine my taste enough to like fish, I wanted to keep track of the recipes and methods shown.

As an aside, I have looked and looked but been unable to find a clip of Justo Thomas going about his day as the fish butcher of Le Bernadin, Eric Ripert's restaurant. I've found a few showing Mr. Thomas filleting a fish, but that's not what I want. I remember watching a full segment of him. I think it was filmed by Anthony Bourdain, and must have come from one of the "No Reservations" shows.

Justo Thomas is an amazing fish butcher who daily prepares at least 700 pounds of fish for Le Bernadin. Ripert states that when Thomas is on vacation it takes 3 people working 12-hour days to replace Thomas. Wouldn't most of us love that kind of job security!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Steampunk and Junk TV

Watching a foodie show the other day, I was tickled to hear a man in Australia talking about the label he drew up for a small winery he started. The winery name was Moon. The man said he'd lived in the northern hemisphere for so long, he simply drew a moon for the label, and they got a bunch printed. Yet one evening he was walking outside when he looked up at the moon in the southern hemisphere and thought, "oh, shit, I drew it the wrong way."

Max stopped by Sunday on his way back from Dragon Con. He was bushed from the long drive from Atlanta in the early morning to far western Kentucky in one go. He sat on his keister all evening, and we watched back to back episodes of Storage Wars, i.e., junk TV.

I've put in a pic of him in his Dragon Con get up. He was dressed up steampunk style. I think his punk was a little sparse, but he had fun, and that's what counts.

The temps around here have finally actually gone below 90F for rare amounts of time. That's usually after 9 p.m., but we may be seeing the time when it becomes bearable to go outside. I mean, it's a bit after noon here right now, and it's only gotten to 88F.

I was hoping Max would be able to till the garden in the first few weeks of September, but it'll be the middle of the month I suppose. He's going to be on call next weekend, so it'll be the 15th before he can attempt it. Watch, it'll rain that weekend.

Lola Update 09/04/12

On Sunday I jotted a few notes about things to consider addressing or documenting here. Let's see if I can pull the thread of them together.

As I've said many times, I think the major thing that bothers me the most about my parents' slide into the end of their lives has been their slide into mindlessness. I keep hoping that once this is over that I will gradually forget the hopelessness, anger and stress the caretaker suffers. There are many acquaintances who assure me this is so.

I really do hope so. Because right now I am more or less, depending upon recent events, extremely angry that all humans don't just pop off this mortal coil in one fell swoop but that some lose the vital integrity of their makeup and become either uncontrollable, aggressive animals or mindless hunks of flesh.

With my parents, I've had the sad endurance of both. My dad became extremely aggressive and uncontrollable. My mother has become a body with a bare hint left of the essence of her as a person.

On Saturday, I think it was Saturday, we had a major storm front blow through as a result of Hurricane Issac. Fortunately, most of the harshest parts of the storm passed either to the north or the south of our little town. Unfortunately, if any harsh weather passes to the north of us, our cable provider coughs and dies immediately. Sometime I think all it has to do is look like it's going to rain, and the internet side of our cable service goes tits up.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Canning Tuna

I'm making a link here to a show that I've been watching on, and this particular episode is about water, but for my interest it shows canning tuna in Italy. In this video there is only a short highlight of canning the tuna. It shows cooking the tuna in boiling water, scraping the skin off and boning the tuna, cutting it into pieces to fit the jars and putting the jars into a pot of water.

What I get from watching the video is that the tuna is packed in jars with screw tops unlike the canning jars we use in the U.S. but tops that things like our pickles from a store come in. I forget the different names for the different tops. Blast getting holes in my mind. Regardless of canning warnings from Ball, I frequently can things in recycled pickle-type jars. They seal. Period.

I also get that they are canning the tuna in a water bath. My Ball Blue Book calls for processing tuna in a pressure cooker for 1 hour and 40 minutes for half-pints or pints.

Now I know that the canning guides for the U.S. are litigation driven nowadays, and that the way people canned things in the past was different. People can argue that science is better, and we have more knowledge of bacteria, its survival and affect on our food than people used to have. It's still a subject that I ponder frequently.

At ORNL I worked with a man from a city west of Nashville, TN, and he used to talk about his youth and how his mother did things. He was from a large family, like, 14-15 siblings, and they weren't well off. He has talked about his mother canning fish whenever the kids brought a large one home, and she would pack the jars and cover them with melted, hot bacon fat or lard.

At one time I priced tuna for home canning. I was wondering how effective it would be cost-wise. My conclusion was that living in the middle of the country made buying fresh tuna prohibitive. Maybe if I lived on a coast and could go out fishing for tuna, it might be worthwhile. Otherwise, nah.

Here's the link to the video:,p0,s1,d0