Tuesday, March 20, 2018


I'm in the process of moving to Connecticut, there being no suitable work that I can find where I live in Vermont, and today's tasks include packing up my bed to go into storage, because I'm borrowing a smaller one to fit into the tiny room I'll be inhabiting for the next six months or so.

My mattress topper needed to be rolled up, so I got the first tuck going and sort of leaned my chest against it while I reached out to keep the corners tidy, and a gleeful voice in the back of my head shouted, "GO GO GADGET BOSOMS!!!"

Keep in mind, I've never actually seen more than a few minutes of anything in the Inspector Gadget franchise, but the "go go gadget [body part]" phrase is such a part of pop culture that it's part of my personal vernacular, too.

I'm glad I'm finding things to giggle about, because, for the most part, this move is saturated with sadness, regret, and a sense of failure. So I'll take my mirth where I can.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Beat It

When you raise, or know people who raise chickens, you sometimes (frequently, even) find yourself in the position of having an abundance of eggs. You may also, if this happens a lot, be sick of quiche, egg salad, and scrambled eggs. This was where I found myself recently, and so I started asking everyone I knew if they had any favorite ways to deal with tons of eggs.

My grandmother, who grew up on a dairy farm in upstate New York and remembers a life without electricity or indoor plumbing, provided the most helpful response for my lifestyle: pound cake. With a recipe taking four or five eggs per loaf pan, it burns through eggs quickly, and it also freezes well. She cuts her cooled cake into individual portions and then freezes them for later use. A little pound cake, some fresh fruit, some whipped cream, and voilĂ , easy dessert!

To the best of my knowledge, I had never made pound cake before. Maybe once, twenty-five years ago, for 4-H, but not more recently than that. So I didn't really know what to expect, either with the preparation or the result. I picked the older of my go-to cookbooks, a monster of a tome from the 1960s, since pound cake is a fairly old-fashioned thing, and followed the directions, using my stand mixer.

After it was in the oven, I checked my other go-to cookbook, and realized my mistake. The secret to good pound cake is: beat it. Beat it to within an inch of its life. The wet ingredients should have so much air beaten into them that you worry they'll float away, because between two sticks of butter and two cups of flour in that one little loaf, it's going to be a solid brick if you don't.

So my first attempt came out a little... dense. Still quite tasty, but decidedly solid. I vowed to try again, new knowledge in hand, and see if I couldn't do better. My second attempt is currently in the oven, having been beaten like crazy with my hand mixer, and it's already got considerably more loft than its predecessor.

If at first you don't succeed, find more reference material and try, try again!

Friday, March 9, 2018


My father was an old-school professor, and dressed like one: tweed blazers, patched elbows, corduroy trousers, though not necessarily matching or in good repair. He had a bunch of rather bland-looking cardigans, too, which I've just inherited as part of my sister's effort to get Dad's house emptied and on the market. Up 'til now I've been using hooded sweatshirts as an extra layer in my chilly house, but they have their shortcomings, and Dad's cardigans are a much better fit, so I'm thrilled to have them.

I'm discovering, as I catch myself in the mirror, that there's a firm line between looking academic and looking like a bum when it comes to cardigans, and it has a lot to do with whether the shirt under the cardigan has buttons on it. Buttons: academic. No buttons: bum.

Today I look like a bum, but a warm one, so I'll take it.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018


In cleaning out the house we grew up in, my sister has run across all sorts of strange things. The other day, we found a box labeled "historic utensils," which contained half a dozen egg beaters (anybody want some vintage eggbeaters?), some random bits and bobs (including glass straws that are going straight into active use at my house), and a few pounds of silver-plated flatware.

As I'm polishing the flatware, I'm doing a little research on it, and I discover that I've got a dozen large spoons made by Victor Silver Company, which primarily (solely?) did flatware for hotel/boarding-house use. The pattern doesn't match anything I've found pictured so far, so I can't pinpoint a location or year beyond the 1920s-30s, but they came from Dad's parents' house, which suggests downstate New York.

In any other family, it would be safe to assume that these dozen spoons were bought or gifted, but in our family, that's less likely. Our grandmother was a known kleptomaniac. The one memory I have of her is from when my parents took her and us out to eat, and after the meal she opened up her gigantic handbag and began loading it up with anything that would fit, from salt shakers to salad plates, and even the vase and artificial flowers that adorned the table. My mother was embarrassed, Dad was used to it, and I was too young to understand, but that was the first and last time we went out with her.

So, looking at this silver, the most likely explanation for how it got into the hands of a working-class immigrant family is that Grandma pinched it. I'm not sure how a story like that would play on Antiques Roadshow, but I think I'll plead honest ignorance if/when I get to the point of selling them, and simply say I don't know where they came from before my Grandmother.

Kinda wish I knew, though.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Familiar Faces

I've been running out of good things to watch on Netflix lately (suggestions welcome), so I'm down to shows I wouldn't ordinarily have watched past the first episode. I'm in the middle of Gotham right now, sort of a prequel to the Batman series, where we get to see all the familiar characters before they became iconic. The dialogue and cinematography are done in a comic book style, which makes it feel rather juvenile despite the blood, gore, and swearing, so I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who doesn't love comic books to begin with, but for me, it has one wonderful thing going for it: familiar faces.

I grew up watching Doctor Who. While Peter Davison was my favorite doctor (both because of how he interpreted the role, but also because I loved him as Tristan on All Creatures Great and Small), Jon Pertwee was a close second, with his floppy perm and velvet suit. Jon's son, Sean Pertwee, is also an actor, and while he tends to play grizzly, sharp, angry characters, he shows up in Gotham as Alfred, Bruce Wayne's butler. The character starts out a little rough, but becomes quite the endearing father figure, and every time Sean smiles, I see his father, and it warms my heart.

Gotham is full of other familiar faces, even if they're only around for an episode or two. Paul Reubens (Pee Wee Herman) shows up as Penguin's father, which made me giggle, and Morena Baccarin, who played Inara on Firefly, gets a lot of screen time as Gotham's medical examiner. Apparently one of my all-time favorites, Alexander Siddig, shows up in season 4, but I think Netflix only has three seasons available right now, so I may have to wait a while for that treat.

For a show about a comic book series, done in a style I don't particularly care for, I'm enjoying it more than I thought I would, thanks in large part to the work of the casting director.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Poorhouse Pies

On a quiet country road in Underhill, Vermont, there's a little self-service pie stand. If you don't know to look for it, you might not see it at all, but if you know about it and can find a place to park, you're in for a treat.

My sister and I made our way to Poorhouse Pies yesterday, went a little crazy (because, with the wide variety of flavors, how do you choose?), and came home with four boxes of yumminess.

My "compensation" for helping navigate was a big slice of each flavor. Nice work if you can get it, right?

Top left is Raspberry-Peach Crumb Pie, one of their "combo" flavors. I think I would've liked it better if a) the raspberries had been strained to eliminate the seeds, b) if the balance of flavors had leaned a little more toward the peach side, and c) the crumb topping had been applied with a slightly lighter hand (alternately, a little more of the fruit filling). That said, it's seriously yummy. Good crust, good firmness (I hate sloppy pies, and this one held itself together quite well), and good crumb topping.

Top right is Raspberry Chocolate Cheesecake Pie. The raspberry is tart, the chocolate is dark, the cheesecake is creamy, the crust is crumbly... it's almost perfect. As with the last one, I'd prefer it without the raspberry seeds, but even so, it's a fantastic pie.

Bottom right is Key Lime Pie. There are two things I look for in key lime pie: tart, sock-you-in-the-face flavor, and NOT GREEN. This pie is perfection. No food coloring, not too sweet, potent lime flavor, crumbly crust, utterly wonderful. This will be one we go back for next time.

Bottom left is Maple Cream Pie, which was our choice after a coin toss between that and Chocolate Cream (which we'll get next time, if it's available). Y'know how maple sugar candy tastes? This pie tastes like that, only creamy instead of gritty. It's got that super-strong maple sugar flavor, almost too strong for me, but I'm a little wishy-washy about maple in certain forms, so that's just me. The consistency is perfect, the whipped cream topping cuts the sweetness a little (yay!), and the crust is lovely.

All in all, these pies are worth the drive. We'll definitely be going back at some point, trying other flavors (I'm hoping for Blueberry-Peach next time), and spreading the word. If you're within an hour or two, go check them out. You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, February 11, 2018


Today is one of those days where the cats and I take turns jumping out of our skins every time a chunk of snow falls off the roof. We got about a foot of snow last week, but now it's warmed up considerably, so everything is melting and releasing its hold on whatever it landed on. My driveway is a puddle on top of ice.

But hey, with the forecast saying it'll be warm-ish the rest of the week, maybe I'll get out to my shop and do some window work.