Smoke On the Horizon

Previously on Poor Impulse Control: Dad died in 2007 and left us homework. In 1997, a healthy portion of my shiny-shiny brain was wiped clean and I had to re-learn basics like Who am I? and How many fingers am I holding up? For a decade, learning was both everything I did and too exhausting to contemplate, so when Dad explained nothing and left us professional kitchen equipment, I was not so sure my brain was going to refill up with fancy thoughts. Surprise! Even a terrible functional memory is not preventing my brain from frothing over and thank you very much, do you have a towel?

Yesterday, Pete and I bought a food sealer contraption on sale at Bed, Bath & Beyond. Oh ho, you say, Aquarius with Scorpio-Scorpio, you know better than to purchase appliances while Mercury is retrograde. Isn’t your laptop kerflooey? Indeed, that laptop is a paperweight and I do know better but wait: dude, it was on sale, the box had been opened and the contents rifled, one easily replaceable part was missing and I had a coupon, so the contraption that was on sale for $139.99 – 20% for the coupon and 20% for the rifling = $83.99. But it’s only a bargain if it works, so we restrained ourselves in the store and the parking lot and on Route 1 and across some back roads and while Pete fixed a plumbing emergency at Trout’s house and through the grocery store and most of the way home. I may never have been so rational in my entire life. I don’t know how you people do it.

See, the thing is I have this dehydrator. I don’t know why Dad had it or what he used it for, but it sat in Pete’s basement for two years before I said, Well, maybe I should sorta kinda probably attempt to figure out what that does, and brought it upstairs to try it. I’ve been drying fruit and herbs and vegetables and it’s all been very interesting but about 1/4 of everything I dried turned blue and fuzzy. Blue and fuzzy in a sweater may be grand but in the pantry or the fridge it is alarming. Pete maintains that everything dried should sojourn in the freezer until employed. Well, crap. Potatoes went blue and fuzzy in Ziploc bags, tomatoes went blue and fuzzy in Ball jars. Up from the recesses of ancient memory bubbled some of Dad’s advice: You need a vacuum food saver machine. Vacuum food saver machines are bitchin’. It was a very ancient memory.

When we finally got home, I set up the machine and discovered the easily replaceable part was actually inside the machine. I can set up things I’ve never seen before because I am mechanically inclined and members of my family are allergic to manuals. Most devices are pretty simple anyway as long as you remember they were designed by people who would rather be watching cartoons. So. I set up the machine, stuffed steamed chard into a bag and pressed the button. ZOOSH! The machine sucked the moisture right out of the bag and sealed the bag. It was all very loud, so Pete came in from outside and paraphrased an old Garrett Morris line: “I was driving by when I heard you using that appliance.” Then I stuffed steamed beet greens into a bag and ZOOSH! Out went the liquid and the machine sealed the bag. The the Tray Full light went on and the machine would not seal, forcing me to read the manual. I am still recovering from this trauma, but I did figure out how to open the machine and empty the liquid from the tray, which is not very large. Note that beet juice looks great on hardwood floors.

Anyway, Mercury in retrograde is the time when people are supposed to backtrack and fix broken stuff or re-think plans that went awry. I spent the next hour sorting everything I’d dehydrated all summer, stuffing it into quart bags, using the machine, labeling everything and organizing the fridge. I was very pleased with myself and I discovered that apparently I have all the eggplant in Middlesex County, which is very exciting when one considers Pete won’t touch eggplant. Guess what I’m eating all winter!

The machine is so loud I’m sure my neighbors were thrilled when I quit. This morning, Pete was still in bed when I took apples and beets out of the dehydrator. I’ll deal with those later. In the meantime, it’s worth considering what it means when you have gear that requires the purchase of further gear, which has its own accessory gear, and that I’ve alphabetized my fridge. I am learning a great deal at a crazy speed. Next week: I’m taking a class on cold frame gardening, another plunge for my brain. Hang onto your towel.

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