Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Nothing Significant to Say

Things have been hairy here for a while now. I can sum it up for you with two phrases - "personal stuff" and "nobody died". Or maybe that's one phrase if I move the quotation marks around a bit. This happens when I am writing a book, it seems. The closer I get to deadline, the more things fall apart. So things started to fall wildly apart, and I got myself and some of the things back on track (the ones I had control over anyway) and right now I am not good for much more than casual conversation. So that's what you get!
I am looking forward to three days of work in a row, no interruptions. Except to share a little glimpse into life outside of and around the insanity.
After weeks of craziness, I declared Monday Big E day. For those of you not local to New England, the Big E is also known as the Eastern States Exposition, and is a weeks-long regional fair that just happens to be about 50 minutes from my front door. And I love fairs. I had no date so I called my mother in law and she was delighted to come along.
She likes birds. And these are really cute houses for birds.
I generally have an agenda at the Big E which usually involves browsing the state buildings and indulging in certain retail activities within them.
This ranges from the very specific salmon on a stick in the Maine building to the more vague "something else really bad for me".
I saw a lot of Whoopie Pies - these from Wicked Whoopies come in a string of flavors as long as my arm - but they are made with wheat, so no-go for me.
We did stand in a very short potato line in Maine - this one is half-loaded. I cannot believe how much stuff they put on those potatoes! I decided that half-loaded = "bad for me", so this about terminated my eating, except for the tastes of spun maple sugar in three of the buildings and the samples at Halladays that are required eating. As is buying a stack of their dips, which this year I managed to keep at three (Scampi, Spicy Garlic Dill and Garlic Chipotle). They're not just good dips (which they are...). They are also excellent for days when food prep is decidedly minimal - a tablespoon of one of these in the crock pot with some vegetables and maybe a meat, and dinner is decidedly simple.
We found these - Pushovers from Bigfoot, Inc. Would that I had a stack of them by the front door in a variety of sizes.
We saw and talked with beekeepers. I wonder if my customers would be interested in small strips of cut comb in their one pound jars? Judy thinks this is a bit of genius. I love comb honey. We will have to try it next year.
We saw an intelligently placed solar trash compactor outside of the Massachusetts building. Because all solar things work best in the shade.
And the most adorable shirts in Vermont. The one on the far right says "Vermont: we were green before it was cool." I love the tie-dye one, but I am a sucker for tie-dye.
As we stood debating what to do after our whirlwind tour of New England states, a parade came by. Not just any parade. A Mardi Gras parade, complete with bead throwers. I explained to my mother in law what is generally required to obtain beads at a Mardi Gras parade, and also that on this occasion I doubted that the general means would be required. I did state, however, that a certain amount of aggression would be required. Hands up, jump around, yell, and dive for them when they fly.
I created a bead maniac. We raced from one end of the fairgrounds to the other, dodging through buildings to get ahead of the parade route. She flattened little old ladies and small children in her quest. No football player with big shoulders would keep her from her strings of delight. When it was all over she was as decorated as a tree at Christmas.

Since I was a small person (no smaller, like 3' or so) I have lusted after, sighed about and in general desperately wanted a Vita-Mix. I just know that a Vita-Mix will solve all the problems of life. it would probably make me grow to 5'6" tall, remove all my stretch marks, and possibly cause me to lose weight. I just know it. I love to watch the demo, nod knowingly (since I've about memorized the thing) and run to the front for samples of freshly made dairy-free frozen treats, or peanut butter so new the peanuts are still weeping, or soup made hot in what some people call a glorified blender. I, of course, know better. The Vita-Mix is not a mere blender! It makes food processors look weak. It can BOIL WATER for crying out loud! Every year I watch the Vita-Mix guy and every year I am persuaded or constrained or in some other manner forced to NOT hand over my Visa and NOT head to the gate at a dead run in search of ice cubes and whole fruits with the seeds still in them so I can whip up a fresh, organic smoothie. I've sold them, not literally, but just by my obsessive and effusive adoration, which inevitably rubs off on someone near me. But I still don't own one, and if Mr. W. has his way I never will.
When we entered the Better Living Center the first thing I saw was the Vita-Mix guy. We must, I said, watch. Judy must see for herself the glory that is the Vita-Mix. Now my mother in law, is not much on spending. She's very good at saving, scrimping, and in fact makes me look like a spendthrift (and I reuse tinfoil and plastic flatware, so we're talking hard-core cheap here).
She bought one!!! Red. With a second bowl thing. AND a DVD and a recipe book. My mother in law now owns what I consider to be the grail of appliances. I still do not.
They say I will recover in time. This helps:
On a dare of sorts I made marshmallows over the weekend, and let me tell you this was not only easy, it was also fun and they are quite delicious. My candy thermometer bit the dust, but I like to test sugar in cold water anyway - I think it's more accurate. I used this recipe, although I did adapt it a bit to fit the day. For example I had no light corn syrup. In fact the presence of corn syrup here is somewhat miraculous, and I suspect that the jar this came out of was legal to vote in all states. Combined.
So I used the dark corn syrup I had here.And white sugar? Not so much. Cane sugar. White sugar goes to bees and hummingbirds. I also cut the vanilla by half because I have this vanilla on crack that my mother gave me, and it's dangerous in food if used as directed. When they say double strength, they mean it. There were three unopened big bottles in her house when we moved her and a few open ones. It will be a very long time before I require new vanilla. A very, very long time.
I also used a silicone mat to line my 9x13 pan because I had this vision of failure involving a chisel and rock-hard sugar goo. I did not need to fear. They de-panned beautifully, and were cut into appropriate sized cubes and are now...well...gone. But while they lasted they were perfection and I highly recommend the activity to anyone. Great fun, great gifts (I know because I gave them all away), and they do taste like marshmallow.
That's all the thrills and chills for this week. I need to get back to the grind, churn out this book, then take a nice long break in which I shall knit endlessly and bore you with pictures of knitting, DIY home projects (like my mudroom floor), and probably more food. Definitely more marshmallows!


2monkeys_mom said...

I think that my grandparents had a vitamix (They had lots of stuff - including a sock knitting machine and fancy NY State Fair pots and pans) in their treasure trove. Can I check with my parents to see if the vitamix is still in play? (my gmail address starts with cjmngo)

Stephanie/Dirty Water DyeWorks said...

A marshmallow recipe that really works. The kids have wanted to make them. We'll have to give it a try.

Thanks for the link! Don't work too hard . . .

booksNyarn said...

ooh! Big E! Beekeepers! Mardi Gras! Vita-Mix! Marshmallows!

Um, I think you had lots to say. :) Plus given me ideas for my Big E jaunt with the niblets on Saturday.

ShakD said...

Great articles on your beekeeping! Honeycomb in jars is pure genius! Please definitely write more articles about beekeeping and their wonders it does with the world! I have a great website also you can promote if you wish! Please do so as I'm trying to reach as many people as I can about beekeeping and its pro's towards future environment changes.