Just Relax Just Relax Just Go To Sleep

Get a load of this Facebook crap:

Some tips on weathering the 2010 Classic-Era Melody Reunion on February 27, 2010:

Remember, it starts early and peaks early. This is good – basically, this soiree is aligned to Manchester time (UK, not NJ) starting at 7pm and going to 1am. There’ll be the customary nod to our hosts’ formalities at 11pm, when the power officially dies for sixty seconds in deference to Elks who’ve passed to the great beyond, and then the party continues until the clock strikes midnight and our coaches turn into pumpkins. (And if your coach doesn’t do that, read on.) Note that last year, this happened a bit earlier because WE DRANK THE ELKS’ CLUB DRY. (They expect to provision a bit more of those libations for this year’s event.)

Because it starts early – and I can’t emphasize this enough – you need to get there early. Fire codes dictate a certain occupancy, and we meet that every year; when we do, that’s when we really start to get picky about who gets in. Recognizable faces get recognized; others not so much. If you think you’re recognizable, that’s great, but if you demand to be recognized, the folks at the door may want to recognize someone else. Be cool, be courteous, be there early.

For some, midnight’s about as late as they’re prepared to stay out. For others, the night is young…and for those folks, the party will continue at the corner of Somerset and Easton…a.k.a. The Corner Tavern. Remember, that’s CORNER. The Corner Tavern’s also there for you earlier if you can’t get in to the main reunion for whatever reason – if you’re too young, or if you’re tired of standing in the line you were too late to avoid. They’re open ’til 2 AM.

Wherever you are, I’ll see you there, and I’m sure another slew of vaguely disconcerting pictures will make it onto Facebook. Enjoy!

“Recognizable faces get recognized; others not so much.” My sister Daria, recognizable in her Melody Bar days as the cocktail waitress who arrived after hotel bar closing time in heels and a mini skirt, read me this over the phone and steam shot out of my ears. I was broke with a baby in the mid-eighties so I dressed in a leotard, off-black stockings and a few silk scarves. It was that kind of art/biker bar, ruled by armed hairdressers. Nobody was looking at our faces. I can’t gussy up to look 22 again, and neither would I give that fool’s errand a try.

All kinds of people have been after Pete and me to go to this thing and now that they’re there and we’re here, it’s perfectly safe to be blunt: the bar closed, we’re not kids anymore and the past is gone. Nostalgia is for people who think the best parts of their lives are behind them, and we won’t live that way.

Spring is coming. Today, I have wild ideas. The future’s so bright, etc., etc.

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The Sound Of Voices Three

Tata: You’re jealous of this dinner Pete made and you’re not eating.
Daria: I am?
Tata: You are. Listen to this gravy!
Daria: That gravy does sound delicious! And you’re just the bitch to tell me I’m not having that!
Tata: It seemed important to tell you. You can’t go around not knowing!

Ignorance was indeed bliss until a moment later when Daria discovered her middle child was not playing on her front lawn and I hung up on her efforts to get me to drive 35 miles in a snow storm to find her kid who is plainly sitting up in his room in dripping boots, duh. Don’t ask me how I know that, but I’m as sure of it as I am that kid will never graduate college and his parents should put bail bondsmen on speed dial.

Recently, I’ve noticed that even though we’re under surveillance pretty much all the time, people are pretty stupid about covering up their petty crimes. Like, by not even covering them up. Several people of my acquaintance had this conversation in a public space with witnesses two weeks ago.

Guy: I know this guy. He gets movies before they come out. You just can’t care about where they came from or the condition of the movie and I have to get them back to him before the movie’s in theaters.
Dumb Person: I want to borrow movies!
Guy: Make a list. I’ll ask if he can get them.
Dumb Person: Here’s my list.
Guy: (Making his next startling admission…)

Meanwhile, I’m emailing Siobhan.

Tata: I can’t believe it. They’re talking about this like they don’t know some of the people around them are rule-following halfwits!
Siobhan: Maybe they want to get caught!
Tata: They’re bad at crime!
Siobhan: Why don’t you go explain it to them? Maybe they’re learn something.
Tata: What, and give them the confidence to do something else truly stupid? No thanks!

Today, I got a letter from the cable company indicating that someone had pirated a movie via my wireless account. Personally, I don’t care who steals from NBC, just that they be good enough at crime to leave me out of it. I explained that I had certainly never seen the stolen movie and was frankly too much of a glamorous doofus to steal The Forty Year Old Virgin. What I did not say was that if I were doing something like that, I certainly wouldn’t be stupid enough to steal it on my own wireless account. But then, no one has to be bad at crime.

Since I have a good idea who might’ve done it, it helps me that people are.

She Gets It While She Can

How To Use A Potato Bin

Potato bins and grow bags are used to grow the earliest potatoes. They are also used along with raised beds to grow prize winning potatoes for the garden show bench.

Potato bins, bags, and potato barrels fit on any hard surface or small piece of ground open to full light. Try them on your patio or balcony. They give you a convenient way to harvest fresh spuds.

Here you’ll discover how you can grow the earliest potatoes for summer salads and the latest ‘new’ potatoes to eat fresh and roasted for Christmas dinner.

They might be easy to grow.

POTATOES ARE EASY TO GROW VEGETABLES

I feel better already.

SELECTING POTATOES – make certain that you choose only certified seed potatoes for planting in the garden. Certification means the potatoes are free of insect or disease problems and that they have not been treated with a growth retardant. Garden centers; nurseries; garden outlets and hardware stores generally feature certified seed potatoes during the spring planting season.

SOIL PREPARATION – potatoes grow in just average soil, so a great deal of soil preparation is not really needed. However the addition of some compost or a little peat moss is beneficial. Avoid using fresh manure or lime in the soil where potatoes are to be grown, as it tends to cause scab on the potatoes. The addition of either 5-10-10 or 10-20-20 fertilizer is beneficial. Mix the fertilizer into the planting soil, prior to planting. Till or spade the soil to a depth of ten or twelve inches.

CUTTING POTATOES – if the seed potatoes are small to medium sized, plant the whole potato. If they are large sized, you can cut them in half, or quarter them. Each section should have two or three ‘growth eyes’. After cutting, let the cut surface callus-over before planting them.

SPACING – potatoes can be grown in many different ways. If you have lots of room the cut pieces can be spaced about a foot apart in rows which are spaced two to three feet apart. Then cover with about an inch of soil. Pull in additional soil as the plants develop. Always be certain the surface tubers are covered with soil.

Hilling or mounding is another method of growing potatoes. Three or four pieces of potatoes are planted on a mound of soil, pulling in additional soil as the potatoes develop.

You can grow potatoes in the ground, in stacks of straw or mulch, in black plastic bags, in garbage cans or to stacks of tires. Potatoes can be a fun and easy crop to grow.

Field growing: This is the conventional way most potatoes are grown. Generally, the seed potatoes are planted about 12 inches apart in rows that are spaced 2 to 3 feet apart. The seed pieces’ are planted about 1 inch deep, then covered with additional soil as the sprouts develop.

Straw: For centuries, Scandinavians have grown potatoes in stacks of straw or other mulching material. Potatoes are planted above ground in the straw, and as the vines begin to grow, additional straw` or mulch is mounded up around the base of the plants. This results in a yield of very clean potatoes. New potatoes can be harvested easily even before the potato vines mature completely.

Under plastic or in plastic garbage bags: Garden soil or a commercial potting soil can be used to grow the potatoes in the bags, Fold over the top half of the bag, fill with soil, and plant a certified seed potato that has been cut in half. The plastic bag can be set above ground wherever it’s convenient. Punch holes in the bottom of the bag for drainage.

You also can plant potatoes under black plastic. Cut open a piece of the black plastic, and plant a potato piece. The potato tubers will develop as they would in the open ground. However, the tubers that develop close to the surface of the soil are shaded by the black plastic and should not develop the green inedible portions that often are found on other tubers. The black plastic also will aid in controlling weeds.

Garbage cans or containers: Old garbage cans, or wooden or fiberboard-type containers are suitable for growing potatoes, if they have adequate drainage. You can conserve space by growing them in this manner. A word of caution, though: The plants tend to dry out more rapidly when grown in containers, so additional watering will be needed. Otherwise, you’re likely to end up with misshapen tubers.

WATERING – Black or hollow centers on potatoes is often caused by over-watering. Irregular watering causes irregular shaped or knobby potatoes. As a guideline, water potatoes (thoroughly) weekly during warmer summer weather.

HARVESTING – New young potatoes are harvested when peas are ripe or as the potato plants begin to flower. For storage of full sized potatoes harvest them when the vines turn yellow or have died-back.

STORAGE – Keep them in the dark, in a spot where temperatures are about 40 degrees.

I’m giving it a whirl. You might give it some thought.

You Always Were Two Steps Ahead

Miss Sasha let slip that in North Dakota she can get fresh lingonberries, long a staple of Swedish food. Here in New Jersey, lingonberries are generally only available after a lengthy traipse through IKEA, though recently, Pete and I found them canned in the grocery store. Thus, I have informed Miss Sasha she will be jarring lingonberries because I want to eat those, and isn’t that what’s important in life? Sure. So let’s talk about banana bread. I started with a recipe from a famous cookbook, which was okay but not great. Gradually, I made it healthier, moister real food. I’d pat myself on the back but – would you get that for me?

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients:

1-1/3 c whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Optional

1 tablespoon basil
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon

In a separate mixing bowl, cream together:

5 generous tablespoons butter
2/3 c brown sugar

Slowly add dry ingredients, then add:

2 lightly beaten eggs

Fold in:

1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or toasted pignoli nuts
5 mashed bananas

Grease a loaf pan and dump in the gloppy batter. Bake 50 minutes. Test for doneness with a butter knife. If batter sticks, bake and test in five minute increments. When finished, the bake will be moist and very dense. Serve slices toasted with cream cheese.

Banana bread is often a way to use leftovers, but I think it’s a simple way to get more fruit into our diets in the winter. Tonight, I made a whole cranberry bread based on the same recipe, adding some minced tropical I’d bought dried and reconstituted plus a little orange juice. The flavor is sweet and tangy; Pete is looking forward to eating a couple of slices toasted with butter for breakfast.

The thought occurs that super ripe platanos could substitute for bananas. Think I’ll try that. And you?

Collar To the Cold

Here at Poor Impulse Control, we’re all about It, whatever It is, so long as It is funny, and nothing is funnier than talking about food. Why? Because I get stage fright making rice pudding and half my family went to cooking school without so much as sending a postcard. To recap somewhat, then, I have several different projects going and your bag’s packed.

1. Dad died and left cookbooks to study, mysterious gear and problems to solve;

2. Dagnabbit: jarring, canning and preserving;

3. Inspired by Pete’s wonky digestive tract, he and I are exploring better food for better health including organics, reducing meat consumption and expanding our vegetable and grain options;

4. Gardening. It’s better to grow one’s own food than to rely on outside sources wherever possible;

5. Affordable, nutritious eating. If we can get dinner on the table every night for $10, we might have enough money to pay our fucking bills.

These topics overlap somewhat. For instance: remember our friend, Dad’s dehydrator? Instructions for the mothership here are hard to come by in book form and online recipes are full of slippery adjustments. Example: every direction I found ended with store in a cool, dry place and last summer, New Jersey did not provide any of those; in time, everything I dehydrated and stored in the basement turned a lovely blue. Pete and I picked up a vacuum sealer, thereafter sealed everything and stored it in the fridge. This degree of caution still did not guarantee success: sometimes dehydrated vegetables are sharp and pierce the plastic and appear sealed anyhow. They are not and will turn a lovely blue in the fridge, which like the rest of New Jersey is slightly damp.

Ta, dahhhhhlink, you’re saying, Can we take a connecting flight to the point? How about you return your tray to the upright and locked position and not be so critical, hmm? As lessons in home economics go, learning dehydrating without a teacher proved tricky, expensive and frustrating. In practice, dehydrating works best for us with fruit like peaches, pears and apples. Reconstituted, these sturdy fruit add nice flavor and the texture is familiar if you, as I did, grew up eating dried apples; I also learned the hard way that peeling apples and pears before drying is worth it. A second preparation has been very successful: combinations of leeks, young carrots and fennel – loosely speaking, a form of mirepois. Rehydrated and minced, one of these packages adds a jolt of kickass richness to soups, stews and sauces.

The next thing I wanted to road test was fingerling potatoes. I know. No, really. I know. You can buy potatoes all year round, there’s no point in drying them, right? There is, actually. I bought these potatoes from local organic farmers with excellent tattoos. When I bought them in September, I parboiled them, sliced them lengthwise and dehydrated them overnight at the highest setting on the dehydrator: 175 degrees. Two nights ago, I opened the package and poured boiling water over the potatoes, and when they cooled, I refrigerated them until this morning, when I drained off the water, mixed in about a cup and a half of homemade yogurt, half a cup of grated cheddar, salt, pepper, cumin, dried sage and minced rosemary. I poured this into two small casseroles, dotted the surfaces with a bit of butter, covered with foil and baked at 425 for an aromatic eternity. For the last fifteen minutes, the potatoes baked with foil off to develop a nice crust. Result: a filling breakfast gratin that tasted like summer.

Pete was hesitant before the first bite but enthusiastic thereafter. He offered that the potato flavor was good but next time, instead of long rehydration, we might try boiling the potatoes. It will save time. We decided that in the future we wouldn’t dehydrate other kinds of potatoes, just fingerlings, and the initial storage failures, while discouraging, had taught us enough to be worth the price.

This is a picture of dinner at our house: Pete makes something almost miraculously delicious, I make a yogurt or a fruit sauce, and Drusy drinks water out of a plastic goblet. We have all accepted that at dinnertime, Drusy will be joining us for drinks. Believe me, this is a civilized alternative to what might have become our routine had the other two cats decided they wanted to fight us for our dinners. Pete and I are okay, though, until one of the cats learns how to operate a spatula.