Sunday, August 03, 2008

Stop Wasting My Energy

Okay, I know the purpose of my other blog (Home Ec-O) is to encourage eco-friendliness and home economy. Today, I want to talk primarily about the topic of economy. That word, and what it normally conveys, can get us into a lot of trouble today.

Right now, people are talking about giving up their gas-guzzling SUVs because they are just too gosh darn expensive. They want to find something cheaper. Great. BUT, being economical is not only about saving money. It's also about NOT BEING WASTEFUL. YES, I AM TYPING IN ALL CAPS ON PURPOSE. I AM ANGRY. VERY ANGRY.

Going for the cheap is what's got us into this mess in the first place. If people had realized earlier that buying an SUV that consumes an inordinate amount of fuel to get you from A to B is WASTEFUL (even when gas prices are low) we wouldn't have all this hand-wringing and buyer's remorse now. In short: if gas was 2 cents a gallon, driving a cool truck that gets 5 miles per gallon is egregiously wasteful and selfish and, while I'm at it, stupid. But, hey, selfishness is to be praised these days. It's how you get to be successful, insuring that you and your future generations of selfish progeny get to be selfish for all eternity (or at least until the rapture; yes, George W. Bush, I'm talking about you and your overly entitled family and all your evil cohorts who believe that conservation is a "personal virtue").

Oh, and for all of you who think "Well this is American and we're free to do whatever we want so who are you Miss Hippy-Dippy-Tree Hugging-Feminazi-Socialist to tell me that I can't have my McMansion and Eldorado?" Who am I? I'm the person telling you that you are stupid and selfish. You are ruining it for yourselves and the rest of us too, inlcuding your precious children who you must buy all this stuff for so that they have all the advantages. Advantages. Give me a break, you just remember your parents not buying everything when you were little and being embarrassed about that...or if you did have parents who had the latest and greatest stuff, you remember looking down on others who had less. Now, you feel obligated to do better than that. Great, I'm part of a generation who feels peer pressure from their children. Grow the hell up.And while I'm at it, I'm here to tell you this too: Get your effin' heads out of the sand and realize that in America we're free to buy whatever we want (and now go into hock doing it). But do? Please. The game is rigged. You bought into the myth that people poorer than you were taking money from your mouths (nice going Ronald Reagan). Hah. The only people taking money from you are those people running your 401(k)s into the ground and consumer product execives. They've secured their futures though--off of all those management fees and all that debt that you loaded up on to buy the latest style. Think about it: You were convinced that you had to invest your tax-free money for retirement (notice the two scare tactics are at work here: taxes are bad and social security won't be there for you), but to get keep up with your neighbors' (the Joneses perhaps?) conspicuous consumption you went into debt. What about savings? Where is your savings?

You got conned into believing that if you just pull yourself up by your own bootstraps you too could be the next Donald Trump success story. Because, after all, capitalism ensures that by working hard you'll be rewarded. If we don't stifle business, we'll reap the rewards. Bull. Big business takes care of its own. The CEOs take care of each other, even when they run a company into the ground. After they're finished sapping America's resources (its land and its people), they'll move to Dubai...heck, they're already moving there. From what I hear, it has some nice, new shiny golf courses.

Okay, back to my original rant about economy and waste: Value meals at McDonald's are seemingly inexpensive as are prepared and heavily processed meals in boxes at the supermarket. But they're just cheap and easy. If we focus on what's economical throughout the entire lifecycle of a product or food--in other words, not being WASTEFUL--packaging would be minimized, whole foods would be consumed in their entirety, and heavily processed foods would be avoided. There'd be a lot of marketing folks out of work, but what's so bad about that? A whole academic discipline/career path based on "selling." How many people would really want to major in "selling." I guess that's another triumph of "marketing," packaging itself into a desirable college major and career.

Speaking of Whole Foods, there's this article in The New York Times. Notice the focus on the expense of it all....nothing about WASTE.

Something really worth reading? This speech by JFK back in 1960. I think it's particularly relevant today and I hope that the leadership (and future leadership) of this country would one day honor it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Crafts (The Apple Is Greener on the Other Side)

I love Etsy! I just received my third and fourth purchases through this best-in-class virtual flea market/craft fair. First to arrive, an adorable change purse from Oktak. I love the name! It reminds me of grammar school art class: the crayons, the poster paint, the tubs of glue (especially the glue), and the art teacher passing out plenty of "oak tag" paper. Now--thanks to having to work in an office for oh so many years now--I generally think of oak tag as manilla file folder cardboard. So sad.

My next purchase (yes, I've already planned another) from Oktak will certainly be one of the curvy eyeglass cases. I just can't decide on the fabric I want. Right now, it seems only two patterns are available.

My purple apple jacket also arrived this week from jacquelineknits. I really wish I had bought the red jacket (like the one pictured) instead. It’s just too clever to dress up a green apple in a red knit sweater. Afterall, even apples have other ambitions.

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Have a Littledeer with Your Le Creuset

I am thrilled some cooking tools from a maker (craftsman, actually) I adore are now readily available in the United States. I first discovered Littledeer Mapleware in an art shop (Boutique des métiers d'art du Québec) in Montreal in 2006 during a business trip. The sinuous and smoothly carved maple cooking utensils were too irresistible to pass up.

Exercising a bit of self control, I bought only three of them: a pan paddle, tines, and a sweet scoop. Apparently, wood is a better implement for savoring ice cream because it doesn’t conduct heat. I wouldn’t know. Ice cream never sits on any spoon of mine long enough to test this theory. These tools are a pleasure to use (they come in left-handed or right-handed designs) and my Le Creuset pans are certainly now in safe(r) hands with them. Plus, those tines are especially good for pulling stuck slices out of the toaster without electrocuting yourself. Now a set of five implements (spreader, tongs, paddle, pot scoop, and serving scoop) is available at Williams-Sonoma for $99.95. I don’t believe you get a choice of the right or left-hand design (as I did in Montreal). Visit www.littledeer.ca to see their full product line.

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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Back to Candyland

Lest you think inaction on the blog equals inaction on all my obsessions, hah! Here's what's been going on in Candyland:

Since January, I've made a chocolate-covered sponge candy (though that probably would have been better in milk chocolate). I also made molded truffles: pomegranate ganache in milk chocolate (once again, I should’ve done those in dark chocolate).

I made the honeycomb sponge candy twice. The first day it was rainy and the batch was quite sticky (probably because of the humidity). The next day, I made it again. It became stickier overnight (I probably should've wrapped it). The chocolate coating improved the texture but there was still a hint of chewiness. I'll have to try again because I do like this candy a lot and want to have it in my repertoire.

The first batch of pomegranate centers I made as dipped chocolates. I had to hand cut the bottom disks. At first, we tried cutting disks out of a silcone mat but that didn’t work out very well; it’s hard to make a clean circular cut in one motion, but if you don’t’ chances are you’ll create slivers of silcone. I don’t think anyone would want to eat that. These chocolates came out fine. My dipping skills leave something to be desired. Some of the coatings at first were too thick. As I honed my tapping skills though, I tended to get a bit overzealous and tap too hard, flattening the ganache filling in the process and losing the peak. The second batch, my husband helped me with, and we made them as molded chocolates. This turned out much better.

In February I had a business trip to Barcelona (February 1 until February 6). I visited Escriba on La Rambla. The store was darling: the thin blue-painted wood-paned door, the gorgeous mosaic tile on the façade, and shiny candy rings in the window displays. Unfortunately, the sales help was anything but helpful (and strangely enough, unlike the other stores I had stopped in, there wasn’t a sign posted that advertised the availablity of forms to complain about the service). There were some gorgeous chocolate-dipped peppermint leaves that I was dying to try and also those fabulous candy rings. But all I bought was a chocolate bar with nuts. What kind of nuts? I still don’t know. My colleague who speaks some Spanish asked “what kind of nuts” and the snotty salesgirl answered “nuts.” Yeah, thanks. We didn't already know that. The fact that we didn’t speak Catalan wasn’t the problem. The salesgirl just wanted to hustle us out of the store. Alas, the chocolate was very good, and I ate the rest of it on the plane ride home.

When I got back home, I researched those rings that beckoned from the store window. I really wanted one and still have no idea if the ring was made of silver or not. The Candlyglam “gems” were beautiful sugar. But, the salesgirl wasn't lying when she said they were 21 Euro! (I had thought she was exagerrating the price just to get us out the door faster.)

In early March, I took a class in chocolate making (March 3 to March 7). It was classified as a "recreational class," and we were treated as such. The less said about this experience the better. I knew more going in than going out. I did, however, gain some valuable knowledge about the equipment I should use. And I finally got to temper chocolate through the tabling method. Two weeks ago I bought a marble slab (from New York Cakes and Baking Supply on 22nd Street) and some Valrohna chocolate. The marble was awfully heavy. It took all my strength to lug it back to my office (near 26th and Madison.) My husband had to drive in to pick me and the slab up from work.

For tempering chocolate I have now decided to use the stovetop method for melting (with a pot and large stainless steel bowl) set on simmer (or turned off after the water's brought to boil). Then tabling for tempering. No more glass bowl and microwave for me!

Here are some excellent resources I've found over the past few months:

The 3 DVDs I have from the Chocolate Doctor are very good. She's very nice: http://www.thechocolatedoctor.ca/intro.html
Here's an online video of how to temper (but not using the tabling method): http://www.chow.com/stories/10748 and then here's an eLearning class I'm thinking of taking at some point:
http://www.ecolechocolat.com/index.php

I'm also experimenting with jellies. More on that later, when I have more of it figured out (I'm deep in the R&D stage right now. A key ingredient is in doubt).

I'll post pix of the candies themselves soon. Those molded pomegranate chocolates were pretty nice looking. I'm still perfecting the recipe though. I can't wait until pomegranates are back in season.

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Jewelry Progress

In January, I worked out the majority of problems I had with my orchid pendant that’s been in progress for a couple of years now. I’m still not crazy about the final result (it’s rather large and the finishing is, well, unfinished), but I am so happy that I finally worked out so many problems. The tiny screw and nut worked as expected (but only after stripping the set screw in my die holder, and waiting weeks for a replacement). I will make another shell orchid (or perhaps another five or six, since it’s taken at least 6 iterations to get me to this point) and try and perfect the concept.

I have plans for a wax-carved model and a predominantly sterling silver model. But first I will make a better version of this “model.” I still have to figure out the bail and/or pinback. The one I made for this one looks amateurish. I still may wear this one at the New York Botanical Gardens Orchid Show though (if I make it there this year before it closes this weekend on April 6).

I will post pictures of the jewelry soon. And of my real orchids as well.

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The Play's the Thing

It’s been so long since I’ve blogged. This rather long post will have to serve as a catch up. I hope I’ve learned my lesson. From now on I will start posting more up-to-date and digestible (read: smaller) pieces.

My blogging truancy might have something to do with one of my past diversions raging into full-on obsession: the theater. In a matter of four months I have seen a fair number of plays (primarily prompted by the playwriting class I took this past fall at the 92nd Street Y).

Here’s a rundown of the plays I’ve seen:

“Eurydice” (by Sarah Ruhl at the Second Stage Theater)
Beautiful set (everyone at least agrees on that) and some beautiful, inventive moments that made the play well worth seeing. Overall, an interesting take on the Orpheus myth.

“Ohio State Murders” (by Adrienne Kennedy at The Duke)
Quite enjoyable. She had me at Hardy. I adore everything by Thomas Hardy and I really let that color my opinion of the play. I loved how Tess was used to mirror Suzanne's own treatment and narrowing of circumstances due to her place in society. "Ohio State" also reminded me of "Wit" (with both its use of literature as a mirror to the main character's own experience and the narrator's voice over throughout the play).

It probably says a more about me than the play that I didn't see "Ohio State" as particularly innovative. In my opinion, it was a solid play that used the voice-over (really a monologue--but I'm seeing monologues everywhere these days!) effectively to tell the story. I did find the chronology to be confusing--there were times that I thought she should've been living at the boarding house and not the dorm, but there she was crying with her friend Iris Ann. I'm not sure, but this could've been a tactic to obscure the eventual revelation that both twins, not just the one, had been murdered (that was a surprise to me). Or maybe it was used as a device to render the narrator unreliable. Maybe I've watched too much "Law and Order," but I had my momentary doubts about Suzanne's account of the first murder.

One last thought: I thought LisaGay Hamilton was very good, but I'm pretty sure her boots were too big for her feet. Yet another good reason to stay out of the front row.

“The Secret Order”(by Bob Clyman at 59E59 Theaters)
I enjoyed this mainly because it was about a topic that I know quite well: STM (science, technical, and medical) publishing. In other words, my day job! I know that expedited peer review is a bad idea, and, an added bonus, I even know what a cell counter is! Colleagues who work at our flagship publication traveled from Boston to see the last performance based on my recommendation.

“Rock N’ Roll” (by Tom Stoppard at Bernard B. Jacobs Theater)
Okay it was WONDERFUL. Months later and I still think of this play. The scenes of the Czech Republic reminded me of my trip to Hungary (Budapest). The most exciting part though? After the play, my play buddy (JF) and I lagged behind in the theater. When we finally made it to the street, JF announced "...and there's Tom Stoppard!" He was pacing the sidewalk, hassling with someone on his cell phone. A young guy (handsome, likely an actor) confirmed that it was indeed Tom Stoppard but advised that he wasn’t in the happiest of moods. Seeing how crestfallen I was, the young man added “well, you could always try.” Meanwhile, some older gentleman buttonholed Stoppard for what seemed like ages. As I stood there, manuscript in hand, waiting for that conversation to end, an old lady muscled her way next to me and nearly poked my eyes out with her umbrella (which she kept up and open despite the fact we were under cover). I kept turning around, looking to JF for permission to quit this quest, but she kept egging me on, advising me to be sure to “smile” when I asked for that autograph. Finally, when the old “gent” finally took a breath, Stoppard took that opportunity to extricate himself from the conversation. I approached Stoppard at that moment, asked for his autograph, and much to my relief he assented. Then, he led me away behind the plywood-covered alleyway, What happened there? Not much. Although there was a bit of drama (for me anyway): Midway through signing his last name, someone called out to Tom (I'll pretend we're on a first name basis now), and they started chatting. More importantly, Tom STOPPED signing his name. I don't remember what they talked about. All I can remember is that I had been thinking "Oh know, he can't stop now. No one will know who "Tom Sto" is! They'll never believe that Tom Stoppard signed my book." But, after they wound up their conversation, he finished off his signature, and I went off on my merry, star-struck way. I’m just happy that I bought the Rock 'N' Roll script instead of the key chain. I don't think he would've signed a keychain no matter how big of a smile I could flash.


“Happy Days” (by Samuel Beckett at the Brooklyn Academy of Music)
BAM’s theater space is beautifully deconstructed. The performance was intriguing. What follows are the notes I wrote during the play and afterwards:

About identity reflected in others and through opposites (and in the 2nd Act’s language)

Winnie – Willie
Black – White
Front – Back
Immobile – Mobile
Forward –Backward
Talkative – Nearly Mute

Stasis = nothing. Winnie is literally stuck, getting nothing done. The repetition of tasks is the same as stasis; i.e., doing the same thing over and over is the same thing as doing nothing.

Many contradictions in terms are used throughout the play, which serves to highlight the play's absurdist nature. Winnie discusses the past: If something seems to happen, then nothing actually happens (that is, it only seems).

The spaces, the pauses are negative space in the play. Another being is there to validate the other. Winnie needs Willie there to talk to. But just talk is not action/doing, and she is therefore doomed to repeat the same actions, the monotony of it all. It is repetitive. It is mostly the same day over and over, with very little variation.

In Act 2, some things happen, but Willie is gone. Winnie is happy that eyes are on her. She needs to be an object “If I said I can’t talk to myself. Then you must be there. Even if you are dead.” Also, “such a blessing” and “what do you do when words fail?” The anslwer to that is Nothingness. In the play, language is identity. In short, in Act 1: identity is obtained through the acknowledgement the contrast of another. An “other” is necessary to “be.” In Act 2: when that “other” is gone, identity is realized through language. It sustains her being.

What are happy days to Winnie? Perhaps Willie’s responsiveness to her? More importantly, what does his return at the end of Act 2 signify? And, as she had wished/requested, he is at the front of the mound (not behind it as he was in Act 1).

I also wrote to a friend about the play in particular and Beckett in general: Beckett is hard. His plays are not necessarily what I’d call entertaining. I look at “Happy Days” as more of a brain teaser, akin to a word jumble or cryptogram that you must solve. It’s more about the wordplay than anything. I look at Beckett as just something to be studied. That’s all. It breaks a few boundaries and its ideas get incorporated into later plays, albeit in a more diluted form. If you think of Beckett as a “modern play concentrate,” it´ll go down easier. Most of the fun comes from discussing it!

“Avenue Q” (at the Golden Theater)
I wish this had been out when I graduated from college. It would’ve been nice to have these answers FIRST instead of figuring this all out on your own.

“The Homecoming” (by Harold Pinter at the Cort Theatre)
I saw this with my husband on Valentine’s Day of all days. Most of the performances were very good. This is definitely a play worth further academic study. Madonna/whore issues abound.
http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=580
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Homecoming
http://www.haroldpinter.org/plays/plays_homecoming7.shtml

“Conversations in Tusculum” (by Richard Nelson at The Pubic Theater)
Brian Dennehy was great as was David Strathairn. Unfortunately, I was disappointed, in part, by Aidan Quinn’s performance (he was in the first Off-Broadway play that I ever saw: “A Lie of the Mind” by Sam Shepard, back in 1986; so, admittedly, my expectations were high). Quinn was at his most convincing when he ventured into more passionate and animated dialogue. Otherwise, he just didn’t carry off the stilted syntax the dialogue required (which I imagine was a result of Nelson’s efforts to simulate Cisero-esque, Caesar-era oratory). Dennehy and Strathairn made the formal (almost stiff) language seem natural. Quinn seemed to struggle with that until pyrotechnics and near-madness were called for. The play was very political and, yes, at the end, the message of what must be done under tyrannical forms of government is clear: get out your pitch forks! Also: I love the 1930s-40s era costumes (lots of blousy linens and cottons, suitable for a villa in Tuscany).

“Drunk Enough to Say I Love You?” (by Caryl Churchill at The Public Theater)
One of my favorites: Caryl Churchill (I saw Far Away some years ago)! Instead of torturing my husband or unsuspecting friends, I saw this by myself and almost didn’t make it in time for the curtain. (I got lost on the way. The Public is near one of the most confusing intersections I know of in Manhattan.)

“Drunk enough to say I love you?” is the first line of the play. Sam and Guy, on a couch, are rekindling a passion they had for each other. Guy is giddily debating whether he should leave his wife and kids for Sam. By the end of the first scene, Sam convinces him that he should.

But this is no ordinary relationship. It soon becomes clear that this play has a larger meaning. Sam is the United States, and Guy (from what I’ve read) is Great Britain. Guy is addicted to Sam, and Sam needs that love, needs to know that he is loved. He demands it.

The play fast becomes a romp through American Imperialism/colonialism and the colonization/exploitation of space, laying bare in the simplest of terms, the extent to which the United States has gone to achieve its goals. Canoodling on the couch, Guy and Sam are giddy at the thought of bombings: Korea. Vietnam. Granada. “You’re good at this!” Sam beams at Guy.

But at times, Guy debates leaving Sam. He has periodic doubts about their larger, worldwide activities. Sam demands that Guy ignores the horrid things they both do in order to enable the affair to continue. And so, drugs are necessary to keep the relationship together: caffeine, nicotine, heroin. Seeming to materialize out of nowhere, cigarettes and coffee cups are plucked out of the air by Sam and Guy. I must admit that I’m not sure if any alcohol is summoned up by the actors, who sit God-like on their couch. With each scene, the couch ascends higher and higher against the black backdrop of the stage. On this prosaic private sanctuary, the characters sit, sprawl, and slouch their way through both their affair and world dominance. A match made in heaven, as they float ever higher above the stage and the world.

As always, Churchill is a master of language. The dialogue is telegraphic, almost (and I hesitate to say this)“Seinfeldian” in it’s cadences. The dialogue is constructed almost entirely of incomplete sentences, with long pauses in between. It’s important to note that the characters do not necessarily finish each other’s sentences. Instead, the phrases are just left hanging, truncated in the air, with enough space to call attention to their incompleteness. Still, a sentence’s full meaning is completely understood by the other character -- and by the audience. Enough can be gleaned through just a few words: “3 million.” “Nicaragua.” “Vietnam.” “Turpentine on testicles.”

At first the bombs and wars seem to be a game, waged for sheer power, and serving as a form of foreplay between the two men. After all, power can serve as an aphrodisiac. But what comes after power? Towards the end of the play, it becomes clear that achieving power can come at a great cost. What happens when the lover questions what has been done to achieve that power? What if, in a crisis of conscience, he leaves (as Guy does)? As torture and Iraq are invoked, love has forsaken Sam, and fear has taken hold. Sam’s quest for power has evolved into a need for safety. The wars are still waged, but no longer with exuberance. It is a miserable world Sam has made for himself--and, consquently, for everyone else.

One note: I’m still not sure why Churchill chose to make the couple gay.


On the calendar for the rest of the year: Sam Shepard’s new play at the Public, Edward Albee at the Signature Theater Company, Caryl Churchill’s monumental “Top Girls” and maybe “August: Osage County.” Perhaps a musical is in order: “Jersey Boys” (Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, one of my guiltiest pleasures).

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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Potions Class: Caramel

It took 3 trips to the grocery store, but this afternoon Bob tried his hand at making a new candy: soft caramel.





Though he started out with a large saucepan, he had to transfer it to our huge multipot in order to accommodate the roiling mass of liquid sugar. Then it took forever it to come up to temperature:239 degrees F (I see a temperature trend here). In the end it looked and tasted great. Right now, an hour and a half later, it's still cooling.


Equipment notes: Since we didn't have parchment paper (that would've required a fourth trip to the store), Bob poured it over a silicone mat backed up by waxed paper. We also used our new kitchen scale (digital) for the first time.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Husband Knows Best

Okay, I was resisting his advice--though he, by his own account, "only worked in professional kitchens for years" (according to Bob-lore, he even cooked Julia Child's vegetables and soup at a restaurant in Boston many moons ago). But my husband, let the record show, was right. I should've listened to him and strained those damned coffee beans many attempts ago.

Tonight I made two batches (#5 and #6) of Coffee Bean Pralines. For the first batch, I had the seive out and ready to go. But at the last second, I decided not to use it. Instead, I poured the praline mixture through a slotted spoon. I figured that without the lid, there would be no condensation, and, therefore, no problem. But it was not to be. I made a horrible mess trying to pour and quickly clean off the bean-clogged spoon. Strangely enough, my haste was unnecessary; the longer I poured, the more thin, instead of thick, the syrup became. In the end, only one of the praline patties showed any positive signs (the chracteristic white spots crystallizing on the surface). None of the cubes looked good. So I immediately threw out the batch, cleaned up my equipment, and started Round 2.

This time, I listened to my husband, and it turned out perfectly. I cooked the pralines to 239 degrees F, tossed in the beans, and mixed them up for about a minute. Then I strained the mixture into another pot,and beat it till it got cloudy and thick. It worked!

Tomorrow will be the true test. If the beans stay crunchy and the pralines stay "dry," it'll be a success. I really want to be able to stick to my original plan of infusing the pralines with actual coffee beans instead of resorting to flavoring them with a coffee bean extract.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Not-So-Great-Pumpkin: End of an Obsession?

I've taken a break from candy making to catch up on chores and go clothes shopping (necessitated by my ever-expanding waistline since I quit smoking...and started making candies). I had also planned to make Sunday a day of pumpkin carving. It never happened.

Every year (except last, because we went to Paris in October), I would carve at least one pumpkin for Halloween. I'd work through several drafts of the design and then spend hours carving. Often, I'd use up a whole roll of film (yes, this predates digital photography) documenting the jack o'lantern process and results.

One year, in an attempt to lure more trick-or-treaters to our door, I even sliced into a bunch of turnips to spell out Halloween. If memory serves, I didn't have enough turnips to spell out Happy. (I'll have to consult with the photographic evidence--our paper photo albums--to see what really happened.) The one result I am absolutely sure of is that we got less than 20 trick or treaters that year. We live on a very lame block. For the more than 10 years we've lived at our house, we've rarely had more than a dozen kids come to our house. And we give out lots of good treats: Skittles and Snickers, Three Musketeers and Laffy Taffy, Smarties (of course) and even full-size Pixie Stix (or, as I like to call them: Kiddie Crack).

This year we will have 0 (yes, zero) trick-or-treaters since we won't be home.

Back to the pumpkin. I finally got around to buying it on Sunday (the 28th). Since I was running out of days, I didn't go to a pick-your-own farm or even the local plant nursery. I bought it at ShopRite ($4.99), and I didn't even bother making a special trip for it. I got it with the rest of my groceries.

Pickin's were slim, but I found the best one I could with a stem still attached. It's a decent-sized gourd, but it lacks heft. It feels rather empty inside (poor pumpkin). I'll probably never know the state of its innards though because after I unloaded all the groceries, did some laundry, and ate dinner, I didn't feel compelled to actually cut into the pumpkin. So now it sits, intact, on the front porch. Is this the end of an obsession?




At least we finally got around to stringing up the orange lights on the wisteria (though I still want to get a black light for the porch light).

Speaking of pumpkins, we named our cat Pumpkin. She wandered into our backyard shortly after Halloween and she has a "pumpkin patch" of orange-colored fur on the top of her head.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Coffee Bean Praline Batch #4

Once more I tried to make pralines in my new sauce pan. And once again they are a big, sticky failure. What can be wrong? The 2 tablespoons of half and half? I don't think so. I can only guess that it's the lid on the pot trapping moisture. I'd make another batch, but I have some other more pressing things to do. Next time I make the pralines, it'll be without a lid.

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