People ask me if I have a bread machine. The answer is no, for many reasons, but taken out to the extremes, I don't have room for Pearl, my kitchenaid mixer on the counter, let alone a bread machine. Anyhoo, Fortune mentioned Carlo Middione's blog and in her pick of his posts is this great quote:
Even though a lot of people like bread baking machines, I don't. If I had a choice of no fresh-baked bread because I did not want to use my oven or use a bread making machine, then of course, I would do so. But making bread essentially by hand is my idea of deep satisfaction; craft at work.
No offense to bread machine users - keep making bread and enjoying it!
I was more struck by that last line. Since what I do other than bread-making is something stuck (for good reasons) in the art v craft debate, this strikes me as a wonderful concept: craft at work. I've always thought that the craft part is learning your chops, getting the skills, becoming familiar with the medium. Then, you add yourself, and it goes beyond and is art.
If one advances confidently in the direction of their dreams, And endeavors to lead a life which they have imagined, They will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. -- Henry David Thoreau
I think I mentioned that I had been reading Walden, and found it was just packed full of quotes that I've collected over the years. There were parts I had to read out loud to figure out the direction of the sentences, and I'll admit to liking his accounts of the experience perhaps a little more than the political parts... but I think I would have enjoyed meeting him in the woods. We could have looked at long skinny things together.
I've long thought that the most important thing for all of us to do is just to look around and actually see what's there.
Now, it could be the pears and syrup that are keeping me a little buzzy. Or it could be all the running around, filling out, proof-reading, labelling, stuffing, de-linting, packaging, double-checking, scheduling, waving bye bye..... and then realizing that two sheets of paper didn't get into the package! eeks! Oh no! OK, it can still get there. No prob.
Certainly the appeal of some Schadenfreude Pie while laughing at my own foibles. Naomi thinks my next incarnation will be as a pastry chef to the dark side. :-) Or you can enjoy my stress of getting the quilt and all the paperwork out, and my missing it already and I'll eat the pie. I'm thinking really dark chocolate here. Hello - checklist anyone?
You know I love them, and it's so rare to get them that they're really good. But friends, you can have a true heavenly experience even if your pears aren't squeezably ripe, so long as they have real pear aroma. Beware pears that have been juiced-on by squished pears in transit.
OK, got pears? Make a sugar and water syrup. Not even as sugary as a normal simple syrup (equal amounts of water and sugar). Maybe a cup and a half of water and a couple TB of sugar? You judge. Depends on how many pears you want to cook and the shape of your pan too. And how crazy you go about the resulting syrup! the pears should be mostly covered with syrup later on.
Bring that to a simmer, throw in some powdered ginger. You can use fresh, but no need. We're talking comfort food. Add a dollop of port if ya's got. Red wine will do in a pinch. Just a splash. Fill the wonderful syrup with pears that you've washed, and then cut into 6 or so big pieces, taking out any core-bits. Leave that wonderful red skin on. Cut straight down on opposite sides of the core. Cut down the remaining two sides. Cut the first two big pieces in half. Done.
Simmer until the pears are firm but cooked all the way through.
Sit down and try not to eat the whole pot and try not to drink all the syrup. Best served warm.
Repeat as often as possible. Don't say you weren't warned. If asked, you can say this is a pear compote. It would work with good apples, too. I'm done.
My adventures in worm composting, which has been quite successful so far in reducing my garbage to trashcan mass. This began about two weeks ago. My goal was to find a way to compost organic matter year-round. There's not much incentive for having to shovel a long path to a backyard compost pile in January...
* Both of these have been identified via herp-loving friends and photos as being garter snakes. The first one is specifically an eastern variant. Apparently the longer one is another variant. The more common variety can be seen here.
I am not afraid of long skinny things, although when the first one changed from a cold-slowed, dead-looking thing to a coiled-up, hissing thing, I paused to reflect. And having just walked into a woods, over a stone wall in late afternoon, I paused a few more minutes to carefully scan the ground for more. That's when I saw number 2. I looked some more and then I carefully walked out, leaving them to soak up the last few BTUs of the day.
And on a different topic, this just in from the quote box:
Victory belongs to the most persevering. -- Napoleon Bonaparte