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Archive for January, 2015

For the past few months, I have been ripping through my house on a mission to rid myself of accumulated junk, or as I think of these things – priceless treasures.

I am a collector, but sometimes not a discerning one. This becomes problematic when you begin to feel crowded in a 2,700 square foot house.

One of my weaknesses is books, and particularly, cookbooks. Even though I can find millions of recipes online, I still buy them. When I added on to my laundry room a few years ago, I built floor to ceiling bookcases for these. These shelves quickly overflowed to additional shelves in the nearby pantry, the shelf above my washer/dryer, and the top of the dryer. The washer is a top-loader, thus was off -limits (most of the time).

The fact that I only ever use about ten percent of these culinary tomes did nothing to advance my thinking that I have an excess. When I had to move a pile to turn on my dryer this week, this pushed me over the edge. All four hundred or so cookbooks have now been personally touched by me, reviewed, rearranged and relegated to a box or a new location. Oh, and dusted (cough, cough).

All surfaces not designed for books are now book-free, and I have six full boxes in the garage to donate to the library book sale. I will admit there are still about three dozen cookbooks in a state of limbo (on top of the washer so they don’t become too comfortable there). I intermittently pick them up and peruse them, attempting to make a final determination as to their disposition.

I’m certain, in my remaining three hundred books, I have recipes for every conceivable comestible known to man. I’m aware that, should I find a deficiency, the world wide web can help me. This is my irrational fear:  In the event of a terrorist attack on Gettysburg, the zombie apocalypse (which my friends and I have a plan for), or a simple power outage, the internet will likely be unavailable to me. I may need to know how to kill and gut the squirrels in the yard, and cook them up into a delectable and savory treat. There are deer in my neighborhood.  I may need to locate a recipe for Venison Cheese Chowder or Venison Loins In Bear Swamp Marinade (which has nothing bearish or swampish in it). Thus I had to keep my copy of the North American Hunting Club Wild Game Cookbook and also Wild Game Cooking.  I have given much less consideration as to how I would obtain this wild game I imagine needing to prepare.

Of course, it nearly goes without saying, I had to keep my books on foraging and how to prepare a myriad of plants, nuts, tubers and fungi readily available in my yard. I did sacrifice a book on soufflés to the donate box, but just now I’m thinking I could undoubtedly make one with dandelions and sorrel.

It was easy to get rid of Microwave Cooking because, without power, what good is that? I kept all my bread and cookie cookbooks. I have a wood-burning fireplace, and I’m fairly sure I can improvise a way to bake in an emergency.

Do I feel better now that my laundry room/pantry is tidied up? Yes, but I have to get past these pangs of withdrawal gnawing at me. I do still have voluminous files of additional recipes I have cut and clipped from all kinds of print media over the years. Baby steps.

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My initial motivation was a web posting about de-cluttering called 40 Bags In 40 Days. http://www.whitehouseblackshutters.com/40-bags-in-40-days-2014/.  I did this last spring and it makes you feel great. Check out this site…there is a printable chart for you to track your days.

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It’s not made from corn. It resembles beef, albeit in some strange textures and colorations.  I’ve been obsessing about corned beef ever since the ‘pressed’ form of it disappeared from grocery store delis a few years ago. All my life I thought pressed corned beef was a staple, delicious with mayo on a bun. When it was no longer readily available to me, I discovered a majority of folks turned up their snooty noses at the pressed variety, and I became even more distraught. The deli clerks would helpfully point out the normal corned beef in their cases, the unpressed, desirable luncheon meat. The younger clerks didn’t even have a clue what I was talking about. I attempted to explain what it looked like ― soft, mushy, pinkish meat with flecks of white fat. That’s when they thought I was completely deranged.

Finally, as my complaining reached an empirical level, someone suggested I purchase canned corned beef. That person believed this might be the delicacy I was searching for. With a great deal of skepticism, I perused cans of this product at various stores for many months. I read the labels and couldn’t bring myself to take it to the checkout.

My resolve to resist this odd little can weakened. After nearly a year, I purchased one, and six months after that I deigned to open it. Pulling it from the recesses of my pantry, I was enthralled and encouraged by the fact that it required and supplied a special key to open the contents. I thought…it must be precious if it is locked up in such a fashion. I am not accustomed to unlocking my food. Well, my optimism soared. And then…

I saw it. Observed it. Smelled it. Touched it. The color was the putrid pink I had hoped to see. The texture was quite different. In a bun with mayo, it was slightly reminiscent of the lunches of my youth yet only half fulfilled my craving for processed meat perfection.

I ate my canned corn beef a year ago and there has been none in my grocery cart since. I am mystified by canned meat. It seems you can process any type of normal fresh food into unrecognizable substances and seal it in a can that lasts for years and/or indefinitely in the case of Spam. I wrote a short story, Strangers in the Woods (Amazon), that features Spam, and I did my research. One site informed me that 3.8 cans of Spam are consumed every second in the United States. If this is true, I want to know, who and where are these people?

 

 

 

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Hello everyone,

Starting the New Year with a short story posting on Amazon…my first foray into e-publishing.  Thought I would begin with something small before tackling my book, which was wise, as I had trouble with the formatting and had a friend help me fix the spacing.  Upon his advice, I bought a small Kindle “how to” book explaining the ins and outs of formatting, etc.  They tell you to simply download a Word document, which, while looking perfect in Word, becomes something strange and unrecognizable when you preview in electronic format.

The story is $.99 on Amazon and will also soon be (I hope) on Smashwords.  If you do buy and read it and have time to post a review, that would be wonderful.  Whether you hate it or love it, or are as indifferent as a wet noodle, honest reviews will help me.

http://www.amazon.com/Strangers-Woods-Suddenly-youre-alone-ebook/dp/B00RPXWM74/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1420319057&sr=1-1

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