Monday, July 25, 2011

Potato Head

Hello out there, it's just me, hailing you from lady of leisure land.

Today, I've fearlessly attacked the 10 pound bag of potatoes that are beginning to turn into potato spider/crabs as they begin to sprout. There's just something so bizarre about a potato that begins to sprout...I remember when I was a teenage bride, defiantly ignorant of the ways of the kitchen and how once I opened a cupboard door where some neglected potatoes were kept...and I screamed...I literally thought there were some sort of bugs in there. Now the potato monsters got nothin' on me. I just sneak up on 'em with my peeler, and that's the end of it...

The freezer now has two large containers of garlic mashed potatoes, and some packages of frozen diced. Everyone loves potatoes, but no one likes to stand over a sink, peeling. So I just bite the bullet and make HUGE batches and then I feel like I can just wiggle my nose and mashed potatoes are *presto* ready for any busy day. God, who talks like that? I sound like I belong in some sort of instant potato flake commercial...circa 1962. *Sigh*, I am a very lonely woman, born into a very wrong time.

Also made some homemade pizzas, using nothing more than a basic pizza crust recipe, some tomato sauce, some crushed garlic, Italian spices, some mozzarella/cheddar cheese, and a crumpled package of pepperoni languishing in the back of the fridge.
Cranking up the This American Life webcasts makes washing up all the sticky mashed potato gook far more enjoyable. There's just something so enjoyable about listening to the radio while I pound away with the potato masher.

Here is the last batch of diced potatoes ready to flash-freeze. Now, supposedly they say that potatoes don't freeze well, but I am finding contradictions to this traditional household lore. According to one article I found, it's all about the these have been boiled for 10 minutes on low as whole potatoes, similar to what I'd do for potato salad. They have been sliced and diced while they are still a bit on the hard side, yet you can stick a fork in them. Hopefully, they won't turn into mush when I decide to bake them. We shall see....

AND CHECK OUT MY NEW JELLO MOLDS!! Well, new to me, anyway. Lately, the Universe has seen fit to shower me with many a retro treasure, perhaps because the Universe knows that I will take super-duper care of them. These molds were free from a secondhand store, because I had a coupon for a return I'd made long ago. Yep, I know what you're going to ask. Yes indeedy, I fully intend to break open the boxes of horse-hoof, fruit flavored and sugar compounds and create my own wiggly confections. And wouldn't the ring one make lovely mounds of rice! More to come on that!

I've also been blessed with a 1962 Better Homes and Gardens 'New' Cook Book that not only was half price of a copy I had lusted after in a ritzy antique store in my home town, but this one is actually CRAMMED with magazine recipes and ads from the time. On top of this, my copy was proudly signed by a Mrs. David E. Hoover. Looking at the flourishing capitals of her signature, you just know she was a lady of the club, who actually wore hats with netting on a REGULAR basis. I really, really like/admire Mrs. David E. Hoover, and wish I could have spent a day in her kitchen. Somehow, I think I would have had more in common with her than I do with most of the women I know today.
Well, at least I can carefully comb through her cookbook. I feel like I should be wearing white gloves when I go through these slightly flour-dusted pages, partly because that's how museum curators protect relics, and partly because a well-dressed friend of Mrs. David E. Hoover would most certainly have worn white gloves.

Off to take off my apron and put on some lipstick. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Making my 'Maid' Piece

Domesticity permeates my art...and this piece is no exception. Right now, it is just being 'underpainted', meaning I am just putting basic color tones in. Shadows and highlights will come later. It will change radically over time. I'm not sure what is going to happen in other elements in the painting yet. There are clothesline poles in the back, and I keep getting a fuzzy image of ladies in evening gowns dangling from the wires...but somehow I think that persistent image seems like the 'easy' route and just doesn't quite satisfy. I do know that the box of washing soap will have "Immediate Gratification" as the brand name. I want to talk about how we emphasize things and status as crucial realities...when I don't believe they matter for much in the long run.

This piece will be entitled, "The Goddess of Fame and Fortune". I like the tongue-in-cheek notion that the goddess who rules the jet-set is a simple hotel maid...

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Same Boat

My grandpa, definitely a dirt farmer
I love to talk to seniors about their memories, and often the absorbing topic of the Great Depression comes up. The obvious, always asked question is: "How did you handle the extreme deprivation?" And over and over, the answer is surprising and the same...perhaps said in slightly different words...but always the same. The answer: "We got through it because everyone was in the same boat. There was no one to feel inferior to, because we were all the same way. And we got out of it together."

As we face a cataclysmic national debt and the fall-out from that, I fear that we will not 'find our way out' the way our great-grandparents did. Our narcissistic need to live our lives like we are celebrities, with our credit card debt, our McMansions, our car payments, our multiple bathrooms that are now a 'necessity', our Gap clothes that are only in our closets for a season, our restaurant dining that now, according to a national statistic is a three times a week occurrance....these are making the economic recession that swirls around us even more terrifying...and we are even more vulnerable.

Our ancestors had many things today that our money cannot buy. One, they had lower expectations. They knew that a paid-for home trumped a luxury vacation every time, and that money saved and hand-me-downs were far more a sign of stability/wealth than spa treatments and fat credit card statements. Two, they were resourceful and thrifty. Back then, they bragged if they made something themselves or got it for a pittance. They canned and gardened and sewed clothes out of flour sacks. Today, we still like to flash and show off the huge amounts we spent on items, our 'bling'. Number three, they knew what really mattered. When you're living in the dust bowl, I'm sure it becomes plain real quickly that the most important things in life are faith, family, friends and food. And they knew that a person never, ever is his or her material possessions. They knew that a man's word meant something, but it wasn't just his word, it was how hard and how honorably he worked.

In an age where so many think that they are automatically special, that they deserve the best in life without earning it, I fear that there will be even more suffering than the Great Depression. Buried in our stuff, we have lost the real treasures.

Truly Living Richly

In the spirit of the last post, check out Amy Dacyzyn, the Martha Stewart of tightwaddery. I have always loved her philosophy.