I am now about halfway thorugh Barbara Kingsolver's latest book and I'm thinking that I must have been a bit cranky when I wrote my previous post. I still believe her book would not persuade anyone not already inclined towards her point of view, but I don't think such readers would be interested in the book anyway. She still gets a bit evangelical for my taste, but...
I just finished the chapter on making cheese from scratch, and I think I may suggest to Allen that we try it. I used to make yogurt on a regular basis, back before I even knew him, and cheese doesn't seem like a huge step. He uses yogurt often, anytime the recipe calls for sour cream and for various other culinary improvisations. He is lactose intolerant, but we both eat a fair amount of cheese. The high point of our trip to Spain a couple of years ago was, for him, eating bread, cheese & olives and drinking cheap--but good--red wine.
Overall, I am enjoying the book quite a bit. I particularly like the contributions of Barbara's older daughter, Camille, who offers a kid's perspective on growing up w/ hippy-dippy parents. Our three daughters did too, of course, but neither Allen nor I is as pure an activist as Barbara. In fact, tempermentally neither one of us is really suited to activism, and as a result we (or I, at least) suffer a certain amount of Liberal Guilt. I also am the product of a mother who didn't really expect much in help from husband or children in managing the household, which is one reason I am such a bad housekeeper (an original meaning of the word SLUT, by the way).. The other reason, needless to say, is that I am bone lazy, especially when it comes to physical labor.
Kingsolver's discussion of the differences between her (my) generation's experience w/ food preparation & appreciation and that of her (my) parents' generation isn't relevant to me. My mother hated to cook. She reminisced about food she loved that her mother, father or someone else from her childhood prepared, but she marveled at how anyone could eat, or even want to eat, in the quantities that most people did. (My mother ate like a bird. Really.) She also routinely made comments on the order of "Food is greatly over-rated." She smoked from her late teens or early 20s, and I'm sure she had largely destroyed her sense of taste by the time I was aware of it. Plus my father only wanted meat, vegetable and potatoes, all of which were always overcooked. Not that I realized that, until I got out into the world where food was not routinely overcooked. I did always really like dinner cooked by my Aunt Mary (my father's sister), on the rare occasions we visited New Jersey. She used fresh vegies, unlike my mother, who used canned & frozen vegetables almost exclusively. The only exceptions were lettuce & tomato, the latter sickly store versions and the former... well, I've never been much enamored of lettuce. And artichokes and palta (aka avocado). These were the only fresh vegetables available in Chuquicamata (most desolate desert on the face of the earth, remember, Faithful Journal Readers?), and when the family moved back to the States she never switched back to fresh vegetables except for those four. Oh, five; I forgot carrots.
So, although there were things I liked, such as her cheese soufflé, which Allen will not make because he thinks it's greasy and disgusting, and her onions baked w/ cheese, or, for that matter, her eggs baked with cheese (more greasy disgusting dishes, in Allen's opinion) I mostly wasn't that wild about food either. Going off to college obviously didn't change things; the offerings at the Student Union weren't that enticing. But at some point I figured out how to steam fresh vegies and that particular food group moved from the bottom of my preference list to the top. For various reasons Allen took over most of the food preparation in the latter months of my pregnancy w/ Sophie, but I can still cook if I have to. I make excellent salads, which do not emphasize lettuce, even the home-grown we get from Janzow Farms. We just can't keep up w/ the lettuce!
Rereading the previous paragraph it seems obvious that we need to start making cheese & I should make the onions & egg dishes that Allen so despises. For those dark days when he's not around to cook for me and when I usually eat take-out or tv dinners. (His trip to New Orleans looms ominously ahead; not only will I have to constantly worry about him being dead in a ditch, I will have to fend for myself culinarily.)
On the sewing front I have had my second lesson. Friday morning, before going into town, I found a pattern w/ only ONE pattern piece. It had to be used twice, but still. I had washed several pieces of fabric the day before, so I chose one and pinned the piece. At Sally's I marked it appropriately, cut it and pinned and cut it again. Sewed up the seams. Sally sewed the waist down for the elastic casing, which is where we stopped. I may go back this afternoon if there's time before UU. We need to figure out the recurring problem w/ bobbin tension, which might be the machine, the thread i bought (it's rayon, which perhaps isn't the best for sewing on cotton?) Yesterday Allen bought me an adjustable height table for cutting fabric and I made myself a little corner in the middle classroom for sewing. It strikes me that eventually the principal's office will have to be my sewing room, although it will be rather cramped. The middle classroom is going to be a kitchen/dining/great room. Where we will put the two double beds now there (and which we really need to accomodate guests) is anyone's guess. I think if we're going to do major remodeling we should consider ways to make the stage in the basement useful, either as a sewing studio or guestroom or both. Of course, if the principal's ofc became my office I could dispose of my 2 desks + computer table and make that section of the bedroom into a sewing studio. Now, THAT seems like a good idea, and one what I could institute with a fair amount of reorganization in 3 rooms but minimum construction, if any. Maybe I could even get a small window A/C for the office? Ooh, this is sounding better all the time.
Wonder how old I'll be when any or all of this gets done? (She asks, recognizing that the Beloved Spousal Unit will be doing the lion's share of the work.)
Perhaps I'll take a cool shower. In the absence of A/C my options for reducing sweat production are limited. Ta.