Monthly Archives: September 2011

Required Watching: How To Peel a Whole Head of Garlic in 10 Seconds

I watched Rick Bayless make mojo de ajo on his PBS show last Saturday, and I decided that I needed some, bad. Mojo de ajo (slow cooked garlic in a bath of oil) requires tonnes of peeled garlic cloves; Chef Bayless used four whole heads. He said something like: “Yeah, peeling four heads of garlic is a drag, but it’s worth it.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Photo from garlichealth.wordpress.com.)

Well, flap my flippers, what popped up on my Facebook feed yesterday but this 10 second demo courtesy of Saveur mag. “How to peel a whole head of garlic in ten seconds.” I was grabbing garlic heads from the garlic/onion bin within, well, three quarters of an hour. (I read Roger Ebert’s blog posts via Facebook before I even brush my teeth.)

I promise, very soon I’ll send WordPress that 55 bucks so I can plant video directly on my web page. But until that happy day comes, just follow this link:

http://www.saveur.com/article/Kitchen/video-How-to-Peel-a-Head-of-Garlic-in-Less-Than-10-Seconds

 

Lor’ lummee, It works! It involves “shaking like the dickens,” and my dickens might have involved fifteen seconds — I’m a girl and all. The second head I shook took much longer , which puzzled me until I realized that I hadn’t smashed the head hard enough to separate every clove. The smashing is an important step. I’m going to use that toolbox-to- kitchen-utensil drawer essential, the rubber mallet, next time.

I’ll talk about mojo de ajo another time and another place. But, amigos, I made it, and with my new garlic peeling skills, I’ll never be without it again. So help me God.

2 Comments

Filed under A Couple of Bucks, Food, How Cool is That?, Site of the Day

Dick Lit

I actually believed I’d made up the literary descriptor “Dick Lit” but a quick Google proved me behind the curve. But, whatever, I love it, because I’ve become so pissed with the “Chick Lit” thing. I mean, what happened to “Romance Novel?” Allison Pearson’s tremendous “I Don’t Know How She Does It.” was a star in the Chick Lit category, and now, big sigh, is a Major Motion Picture starring Ms. Parker. (Why couldn’t it have been set in its original London setting with a British cast?) Point is: “I Don’t Know How She Does It” had, um, literary merit.

“I Don’t Know How She Does It” is no Sophie Kinsella meringue about shopping. It’s no bodice ripper –it’s a witty straight-up novel about being a modern professional and mother.  Sorta like the hero of Joseph O’Neill’s hero in my fave literary novel of the last ten years: “Netherland.”

OK. I was going to say “Don’t get me started,” but my foot is hard on the gas pedal. My husband has admitted that he’s never read Jane Austen, George Eliot or Virginia Wolff. WTF? Why did I have to sit through endless paralyzing hours of Melville, Faulkner And Henry James in college? I mean not a single novel by a woman author?

Now, there are Good Dicks — Balzac and Trollope, for two — who cared about what women thought and felt. But why the heck is “Moby Dick” still required reading and “Sense and Sensibility” isn’t? I’m sorry if I’m sounding like a hairy-legged feminist in a Womyn’s Commune in the ’70s (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) and I’ll return to the fascinating topic of Dick Lit.

(BTW, Lou adores Donna Leon, Louise Penney, Tess Gerritsen and Agatha Christie. He probably checks out more books from the Libe by women than by men.)

Dick Lit can be fabulous, as long as it’s  being written by say, Carl Hiassen, Elmore Leonard, and BOOK RECOMMENDATION OF THE WEEK: George Pelecanos’s The Cut. 

Pick it up and wave bye-bye to your day –and night. I’ve read all three of George’s previous novels with admiration and the feeling that there was a DC film over my body and mind that would never shower off. I’m haunted and coated by “The Cut” but the  new protagonist Spero gives me that rarest quality of a Pelcanos novel: hope. I’ll be waiting to take you out for a beer, Speros.

Any Dick Lit faves? Lemme know.

Read it.

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Filed under A Couple of Bucks, Books, Into the Mystic, Library Card

Apron of the Day:”Sweet and Hot”

This is not one of my Yin/Yang His/Hers kind of reversible aprons — it’s all hot sweet cuties, from the chic babe walking her pup to the saucy chick motorcyclists flashing their frilly panties. It was a blast to create because I giggled my way through the sewing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On this side the print features cowgirls, flamenco dancers, babes in capris chatting on the phone: I love them all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For (hee hee) a “fabric artist” like me, it’s all about the print. Fabrics for me are like my children;how can you play favorites? That said, this week these motorcycling mammas are my bevvy of firstborns.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even Loulander laughed — I’m glad I had the prim red gingham trim for the pockets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve some dazzling Asian prints I can’t wait to cut into, but what think you? Should I begin this year’s crop of holiday aprons?

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Filed under A yard of fabric, Apron of the Day, Cheap and Cheerful Object of the Day, How Cool is That?, Needlework, Reversible Aprons, Sewing

Making Bargains

I had a big birthday this summer, but I still feel as bewildered and bedazzled as I was when I  was fifteen. I think, at least back in my day when I was cheated out of the fun of an IPad, an IPod and an IPhone, I had I huge fantasy life. That fantasy life included Ray Davies, Glenn Gould and Pierre Trudeau falling madly in love with me. Those fools.

(I still don’t own any of those IThings. but I know my son-in-law could hook me up.)

In my early twenties I saved my money — 1000 bucks, and it financed four months in Europe. London, Paris, Rome, Florence.  Viarreggio. Oh, for the romance of one’s early twenties! Yeah, I picked  up a husband over the breakfast table at the Locanda Anna in Florence.

It stabs me, I mean it stabs me to the heart to know  that without an enormous creative effort from me and huge economic luck, , I’ll never see St. Paul Covent Garden again. I’ll never see the Pyramids, Ankhor Wat (forgive the bad spelling!) and Machu Picchu, Or Venice. Or NYC.

Maybe this is a list of the possibles:

Spillsville, Iowa. Antonin Dvorak lived in Spillsville for a year and wrote “The Symphony From the New World” there. I want to smell the air he breathed. I love Dvorak, and I adore annoying my husband by saying “He’s better than Brahms!” (He is.)

Columbus, IN. Here’s the deal from Travel and Leisure:Travel + Leisure magazine said:
Designed by legendary architect Eero Saarinen, the J. Irwin & Xenia Miller House ranks alongside Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House, and Philip Johnson’s Glass House as a hallmark of Modernist design.  It was completed in 1957, but unlike those residences, it is surrounded by some of the most beautiful Modernist gardens in the United States, created by landscape architect Dan Kiley.“ 

Nauvoo, IL, the stop off point for the Mormons on the way to Salt Lake City. Freaky, but worth it.

Hannibal, MO. Mark Twain, period paragraph.

But my big North American travel dream is to get to Newfoundland, that wild and crazy place endowed with huge history, fat fish, cliffs, meadows and sea. And L’Anse Meadow, a Viking settlement whose existence has haunted my dreams since I was ten. (Of course, I’d have driven around Cape Breton Island,checked out Halifax, hopped the ferry to PEI where I’d visit Green Gables and gorge on shellfish and potatoes before I got to The Rock.)

Closer to home, there are Arthur/Arcola, the Amana Colonies and the Indiana Limberlost of Gene Stratton Porter. I have a huge crush on mounds, especially if they’re in the shape of animals — do I have to go to North Dakota to see one? (Attention Dale Simpson Jr.)

I’m laughing. Seems like my trip to Newfoundland will cost as much as a trip to Rome. I want it anyway, and I want to rent some goofy SUV and go with my father,my husband, my daughter, and my son-in-law.

And please, if you have any touristic advice — chat on.

 

 

 

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Filed under History, How Cool is That?, Into the Mystic, Worth it anyway

Apron of the Day: His and Hers Camo

Well, when you’ve finished field dressing that buck, you’ll need to cook it, right? Here’s the latest in my “Field and Stream” line. By the way, Lou’s promised to get a haircut. When his hair’s short he looks twenty years younger, and dang handsome. His follicles are now at the dude drinking cheap wine out of a paper bag stage, but hey, he’s still the Loulander!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This camo was designed by computer, and I like the digital effect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, hmmm, I don’t know what part of the country a gal could  blend into wearing this apron. Sarah Palin’s beauty salon in Wasilla? Better: Dollywood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who knew that camo and rickrack are soulmates?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extra photo for Willow’s groupies. She almost made it to the photo shoot, but got distracted by some yummy grass at the end of the driveway. Geez, these feline diva supermodels!

 

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Filed under A yard of fabric, Apron of the Day, Cheap and Cheerful Object of the Day, Home, Needlework, Reversible Aprons, Sewing

Newspaper Names: Read all About It!

I sport some newspaper genes. Many of my McArthur ancestors were journalists, my father spent his career producing the very paper on which your daily is printed, and, I, in my small way, write a regular column that appears on newsprint. I remember when there was a morning paper and an evening paper in most towns of any size, and when I first moved to Chicago there were four dailies: The Tribune, the Sun-Times and the Daily News. We’re down to two. (**Edited to mention that the fourth paper was the Chicago Daily Defender.)

But this isn’t going to be one of those nostalgic pieces full of millennial gloom and doom about the disappearance of the daily rags. (I am glad to see my hometown journal,  Le Nouvelliste is still around with all the lurid stories filed under “Faits Divers.”)

Those who know me well know I have a weird kick in my gallop about names. People names, pet names, place names, botanical names, brand names, grocery store names — I roll my tongue around a good name, then store it away in the rental storage unit my brain’s become.  A discovery of a great newspaper name among all those ho-hum Timeses and Posts and Gazettes and Suns and Newses makes me happy, well, forever!

Among the big market papers are some really good names. How about The Cleveland Plain Dealer? I have no idea about the paper’s politics, but it just sounds so solid. So plain. The there are the portmanteau names, where the second word dispenses some character to the blah first word: the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Should I ever become a newspaper magnate I’ll rename my paper to include the word Picayune.

In fact, there’s a paper in Texas that I might need to save up some apron money and buy: The Beeville Bee-Picayune. The Rochester, New York daily Democrat and Chronicle has some nice old-fashioned newspaper name heft. But hey, all these guys don’t make the cut, or would have to qualify, to get into the Best Newspaper Name Tournament.

I don’t have to drive but a couple of hours downstate to Bloomington-Normal,( home of the Redbirds!) to find a beaut: The Pantagraph.  Then there’s the Laramie Boomerang — what the heck? The Nome Nugget ? Perfection! I’d love to shake the hand, backward over the years, of the wag who named The Tombstone Epitaph.

Go pour yourself a big fat flute of champagne, stand up, and shake out the folds of your de la Renta gown. Drumroll. Ladies and gentlemen, the award for the best newspaper name in America goes to the Linn, MO Unterrified Democrat!

Do you have any nominations for next year’s ceremony? Or maybe you’re like Lou, who’s been making up names of his own while I’ve been writing this. He likes: The Rockford Files, the St. Paul Epistle, the Ledger Demoines, (yeah, it takes awhile and isn’t that great,) The Lincoln Log and the Aspen Tablet. Send them this way, and we’ll read all about them.

7 Comments

Filed under Collections, Free, HeeHee, History, How Cool is That?, Library Card

Apron of the Day: Gammy’s Garden

I’m easing back into the blogosphere with an easy post — my newest Apron of the Day. I’ve been neglecting my apron industry as well — among the mishaps of the the Week from Hell was a close encounter between the big toe of my sewing foot and a full bag of ice.

I’m  calling this Farm Kitchen apron “Gammy’s Garden” because my grandmother, among many things, was the doyenne of a working farm. These pretty prints remind me of her old-fashioned flower garden.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the fabric close-up — I knew I’d find just the right place to use those two old daisy buttons.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, how I wish I’d bought a few more yards of this fabric! He’s pretty in pink, no?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, en avant! No more sulking, limping and having my heart broken by a couple of tennis players.

3 Comments

Filed under A yard of fabric, Apron of the Day, Cheap and Cheerful Object of the Day, Hunks, Sewing, Worth it anyway