|radium in the spring
||[Apr. 12th, 2006|11:28 pm]
I'm back from visiting Mom & Larry up in the mountains. Went to a couple Conference on World Affairs talks today, and then, since I was up in Boulder anyway, did laundry at the laundromat with the centrifuges. Oh, and I did my taxes. Whee!|
Radium is always relaxing because it is so quiet.
It's definitely spring. The weather was absolutely lovely, and things are starting to bloom. There were little sprays of color, almost like oil-painting brushstrokes, all along the tops of things. Oh, and new animals: Mom & Larry are taking care of a calf, because his mother refuses to let him nurse. So I got to feed him a couple times. It's kinda scary how fast a calf can drink a half-gallon bottle of formula. Also got to see a colt that had been born the previous day. It's amazing how finished herbivores are when they're born, especially compared to human babies, which are definitely only half-cooked.
There were a couple hundred deer (I'm not exaggerating -- I counted 44 next to the road when we went to shut off one of the irrigation ditches) wandering around nearby. And we heard a turkey in the woods when I was leaving.
Mom has a neat encyclopedic cookbook from the '60s (first written in 1950), which I poked through a bit while I was up there. It's interesting to compare how very different cooking is now than it was half a century ago. Stuff like which ingredients are easily available, and the fact that meat these days is MUCH leaner. Man, did they use a lot of fat! Some of the dishes were just scary (even allowing for improvements in food photography, which has come a long ways). Other things I found interesting:
People used to brutalize vegetables: most of the recipes call for boiling your veggies for twenty minutes.
And they used a whole lot more veal and organ meats than we do these days.
Cooking in the '60s (or maybe the '50s, or both) was all about arrangement: you can't make a meatloaf, you have to mold your meatloaf into a ring, stick a whole cauliflower in the middle, and then put cooked pears studded with cloves all around the outside. I'm totally serious.
Oh, and pineapple. My god, they used pineapple in everything. Here's my favorite example of how much people's tastes have broadened in half a century: they had a recipe for "chinese chicken gravy". It starts off with a bunch of normal ingredients for chicken gravy: stock, fat, flour, etc. Okay. Then we've got a quarter cup of slivered almonds, okay. Now, here's the bit that gives it "a Far-Eastern flavor": one teaspoon of soy sauce and TWO AND A HALF CUPS of crushed pineapple! Dear god.
There were also plenty of good-sounding recipes, too, but they're not as fun to talk about.
Mom talked about various things she used to eat as a child, and we got onto the subject of fashions and the fact that retro doesn't come back around until enough time has passed that the people who grew up with it are no longer among the fashionable crowd.
Oh, and for dinner on Monday, we had a very good oriental salad (from mix, I think), corn on the cob, and these truly AMAZING steaks. A cut called "chuck-eye", between the rib-eye and the chuck. Super-tender and very flavorful.
Installed the Gimp and Inkscape on their computer. Wrote stuff. Sat around and petted the cat.
Drove home yesterday and I wish I could take pictures that match what I see when driving, because the evening light was gorgeous.
I'm listening to a couple tracks from Rent over and over (La Vie Boheme and Tango Maureen), which is what I always end up doing with new songs I really like. But I should go to bed soon, so I can get up early enough to go to CWA tomorrow for a talk in the morning titled Weird Science. Suddenly I have lots of things I want/need to do with the rest of my vacation.
Food: I think my mother may have had that encyclopedia. They are about the size of those Time Life books and 12-15 volumes. She gave them away and we are still bemoaning the loss of our favorite banana bread recipe.
Food fashions don't tend to come back in the same way as some of the retro things. I remember watching one of those PBS reality shows where people were living in an Edwardian manor house. They had meat lockers where they stored the meat, and it was served when it was a lot riper than we eat it now. This threw the modern reenactors into hysterics. "You are serving us rotten meat!" The food on the show was a constant source of conflict, because period food, especially for upstairs, tended to not appeal to modern sensibilities.
That being said, I did notice an upsurgence of weird 60s meat-style appetizers when everyone was on the no-carb diet. Chicken livers wrapped in bacon, etc.
The non-fattiness of modern meat is something that drives me bonkers. You can't cook the meat in the same way without it, or have to find some fat substitute. This is one of the things I was talking about when I posted about wanting to learn "meats."