Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Belle of the (Meat) Ball

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Here’s one thing I’ve learned fairly quickly here:

Everyone speaks in terms of seasons...not years.  As in, Is this your first season?  Meaning, is this your first time/first year working on the island?

As it is my “first season”, I can’t help but feel a bit like a plantation debutante or similar.  Feel a bit like I should be wearing a sweeping ball gown in the manner of Scarlett O’Hara.  But anyway...

Everything is new to me here...but here’s one thing that’s not: The Weather.

Anyone who lives in Iowa (or did for awhile) is familiar with the bipolar nature of Iowa weather.  Eighty degrees and sunny one day, and a light dusting of snow two days later.  Not much surprises us Iowans when it comes to weather (although this long hard winter past would have done it, if anything).

You can imagine how amusing, then, it was this morning to shuffle my iPod playlist and what motivational tune should pop up first?  California Dreamin’ by the Mamas and the Papas.  Oh, how so ironic.

But, from what I’ve gathered in my conversation with the people who’ve returned for several seasons...this cold, rain, and iced over waterways business is highly unusual and unseasonal.  And, it’s keeping the customers away.  Which made for another easy day in the trenches today.  However, there are still things to be done, surfaces to wipe down, cream sauces and soups to make, mirepoix to cut, and stations to prepare for the day.

I arrived at 9 a.m., and my station (officially referred to as “Pantry”) must be stocked and ready for service by 11 a.m.  Two hours is a long time and not enough time, depending on what I’m doing.  Because the night before was slow also, there was not a lot for me to prep...therefore, Chef set me to doing a large hotel pan full of small dice mirepoix (ah, more practice with the blade).

Tomorrow is my first day off since I started eight days ago.  Even though it’s supposed to be another day of cold and rain, I still have errands to run and goals to achieve:

- Obtain bike

- Finish reading Homer’s The Odyssey and Julia Child’s My Life in France

- Begin reading A Guide to Modern Cookery by Auguste Escoffier

- Copy, neatly and coherently, notes I’ve taken at work into journal (flip notebooks, pens, and Sharpies distributed to us by Chef on the first day of work - how’s that for proactively organized?)

Obviously, not all of these objectives will be obtained tomorrow...or will they? 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Today's Inspiration: Johnny Cash

My first week of employment on Mackinac Island is complete, and it has been an up and down of a magnitude that I cannot recall since the summer of 1993.  New living arrangements, new jobs, new faces, and new procedures are daunting...and I'm old and set in my ways (Cf. Yesterday's Post).  But, being older and wiser certainly has its benefits.  So, yay, for getting older.


The restaurant where I work is about four minutes beyond the cafeteria where I eat breakfast (the brisk 12-minute walk, remember?); thus, enough time to listen to one last song on my iPod before I clock in and start handling my kitchen business.  So, I thought it might be mildly amusing, yet inspirational, if I shuffled my playlist...and let the song that came up be my motivational anthem of the day.

Day One (the first day of serving customers and "real" work): Queen's "We Are The Champions".  Pretty damn fitting, I think.

Day Two: Enya's "I Will Find You" from the Last of the Mohicans soundtrack.  I assume this song refers to me finding my skills and groove this summer.

Today: Johnny Cash's "I Walk The Line".  I had to ponder this...I finally decided that this meant to be respectful and patient towards my chefs and do exactly what they tell me to do.

I know at some point in time the tourists will arrive, and the comfortable routine I've got at the restaurant will turn on its head.  Until then, the days have been good. And I learned two things today...food-related, even:

1.  Julienne can refer to the size of a cut of a vegetable (i.e. julienne = 1/8", fine julienne = 1/16").  But I learned today that julienne can also refer to the vegetable is placed when it is cut.  For example, an onion.  When we cut onions for hamburgers at our family picnic, we slice them parallel to the root, or the hairy little end.  But, if we turn the onion 90 degrees and slice it perpendicular to the root, that's julienned onions.

2.  I also learned a really quick, kick-ass way to deseed tomatoes.  Quarter the tomatoes, and starting at the point furthest from the core, turn the knife nearly parallel to the tomato and carefully shave off the flesh and seeds (keeping knife parallel all the way).  I wish I had a video to demonstrate this...it's definitely a visual thing...but as our chefs are way against cell phone usage in the kitchen, I doubt they'd go for videotaping either.

I keep a close watch on this knife of mine.
I keep my eyes on the cutting board all the time.
Makin' cuts requires all my mind,
because this learnin's mine, I walk the line. 


The Sun Has Gone Down On The First Day...


...of my 39th year.

For the record, I do think I will never have another birthday like this one.

Even though I woke up and realized it *was* my birthday, most of the time, I forgot that it was.  Every now and then, like the tides on every beach on earth, that little factoid would return and wash over me...only to ebb away again as I was caught up in some other task of the day (Ugh.  Terrible, terrible effort at an impactful metaphor).

I’m used to being greeted, in person, by my family and friends on my birthday...but this year, the wishes came to me via text and Facebook/computer.  However, to be fair to the throng of people I hang with these days, they don’t know it’s my birthday.  So...maybe we can forgive them this once.

I did receive a package here on the island on my special day.  Of course, I was expecting it...hell, I ordered it from Amazon.com.  But still. A package!  All fairly practical things: a rainsuit (totally needed here along with rain boots and a bike), a bathrobe, and bath towels (because I was only issued two face cloths and two hand towels, for GOODNESS sake).

I spent six hours today working...which, by the way, is improving.  The chefs are starting to learn me, and I am starting to learn them.  I’m learning my way around the kitchen, and where things are (which is half the battle).  I am also consciously trying to think about my work habits, and my “economy of movement”...and much to my chagrin, I waste a lot of “steps”, running up and down the stairs for multiple trips because I forget something.  I run a bit at times like a newly-headless chicken in my space because I don’t move effectively and efficiently.  The head chef has been reminding me to try to work smarter, and so I’m engaging in a fair amount of reflection.  Introspection.  Progression.

But...when the tourists come en masse sometime next month, things will change, and while I may like the job now...we’ll see when the guest tickets are printing off non-stop and I’m running dangerously low out of kids’ chicken strips!

Anyway.  I got my package and I was impelled to splash out for a birthday dessert.  The nice thing about being on a tourist island for your birthday (so early in the season) is there aren’t gobs of places to choose from to eat...because they aren’t open yet.  No chance of getting overwhelmed with all the choices...so, I opted to try a place that served the island specialty: The Grand Pecan Ball (hot fudge sauce under a nice ball of vanilla ice cream rolled in pecans).

I reckon I’ll need a couple of extra trips up and down the stairs at work tomorrow to burn off those calories...but don’t tell my chef.  Remember, I’m trying to work economically!

Good day, everyone.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Musings On My 39th Year


Something tells me I will remember this birthday for a long time to come.

So, my birthday is tomorrow, and this is probably the first birthday, ever, that I’ve spent away from family and friends.  And I mean that literally.  I have no family members within a 500-mile radius, and I have not made friends here on the island yet.

But, don’t cry for me, Argentina.  There is a lot of learning going on here...and that is a very good thing.  I hope everyone can turn nearly-40 and still be like, damn, all I really know is I know nothing.

I wish I had not waited so long to do this.  To really, truly get out of my comfort zone.

1. I am a minority here.  I’m not trying to get all racial or condescending or anything, but that fact in and of itself is very eye-opening and it’s impossible to NOT develop some feelings of empathy, if they weren’t already there.

2. The restaurant I work in contains workers who speak four different languages.  There’s nothing quite as humble as asking my colleagues to repeat themselves.

3. The fact that I’m a culinary student is irrelevant at this point in time.  I’m the low man on the seniority list, I’m the weakest link, I’m the biggest liability.  It kind of sucks, especially since I’ve been used to being Top Shark in my little fishpond.  However, I’m here to learn and work, and that also means being humble.

Ultimately, I can't complain.  My life has been good.  But, my life has been safe.  It’s been predictable.  And generally, I’m in favor of that.  But I also can’t deny that this six-month shake-up will compel me to examine my life quite closely.  And I am most certainly in favor of that.


Incidentally, this is where I work.  Okay, I actually work down the road from here...but this building is where I take my three daily meals.  This building (rather, its owners) is my employer.  I know it's all weird and gray and naked right now....just give it a couple of months!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Like Internet For Elephants

I tried, horribly, to stitch together two pop culture references (two movies)...and then insert my own pithy...pithiness.

Fail.  Big time.  Next item of business.

I am trying very hard not to cram an entire bar of Ghirardelli Intense dark chocolate into my mouth.  It is the only sweet I've had since the 19th (Saturday).  That's nearly three days.  That's how long I've been on the island.  And there's a lot to talk about...so let me sum up.

Number of cars on the Island: 0 (utility and city maintenance vehicles not counted, which would bring that number up to, oh, 4).

Number of methods of transportation here: 3 (horse, bike, or feet...or in the case of the elderly, motorized scooters)

Number of items I've lost and then recovered: 2 (employee ID and chef hat)

Number of day/hours worked on new internship: 2 days/8 hours

Number of mistakes made in first two days of internship: Like, 5, but feels like more

Number of people who already know someone here: Everyone (except me)

Number of miles walked: Probably 10 total, although legs and glutes report a higher number

Number of miles from my room to cafeteria at the Grand Hotel: .75 (and that's at least three times a day for my three squares, kids)

Number of times I've told myself This place is so beautiful, but just wait till summer.: 6

Number of times I've thought I can't wait until my kids/Brent see this.: 12

Number of library cards obtained in the State of Michigan: 1

Number of cold days here so far: All (especially when your hometown is sitting pretty at 72)

That mostly covers it.  I'm adjusting to life here...Stranger in a Strange Land, so far from friends and family.  It really is beautiful here...and people are pretty damn friendly.  So...there's hope and adventure, eh?




Saturday, April 19, 2014

Dream #2: The Ultimate Smackdown


This picture appears to be depicting a smallish, broken-up glacier.  And while it seems like that, it's actually the ice cloggage on Lake Michigan.  Not cool, Robert Frost.

Boy howdy, would I give my non-dominant hand to be able drop-kick Mother Nature in the windpipe.



She is screwing up all my best-laid plans.



I know, I know.  It comes with the territory of taking a job in the Upper Great Lakes Region.  There might be snow.  There might be sleet.  There might be cold temperatures.  And there might be all three of these things.  In mid-April.



But, freezing fog?  Now, as a long-time Midwestern myself, that’s something I’ve never experienced.  Until today. 


However, some context first.  My internship is on Mackinac Island, just a smidge north of the lower Michigan peninsula (the “mitten”), where the shores are lapped by the Great Lake Huron.  There are no automobiles allowed on the island, so people get around by horse, by bike, or by feet.  The only way to get to the island is by ferry or by plane.  Currently, the waterways are still choked with ice (unusual for this time of year according to the locals).  According to the time listed on my Employment Contract, I must arrive by 4 p.m. today...and it looks like I will be flying to the island.


Maybe.  Right now a swath of FREEZING FOG blankets the area, and planes cannot fly until this fog burns off.  Which leaves my arrival time = UNKNOWN.



Well played, Mother Nature.  Well played.  While I can’t help be a little angry at you right now, I get your message: Have a Plan B.  And don’t sweat it...you freaking humans need to calm down.



Touché, lady.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

On The Road: Dream #1

What better way to chronicle my wanderings than through dreams? Visions? Fantasies? Yearnings?

Heh.  It sounds like I've just been taking hallucinatory drugs...which, alas, is not the case.

We are traveling to Mackinac Island, Michigan, by way of Door County, Wisconsin.  Yes, it is quite out of the way.  However, it's a trip for nostalgia's sake, and totally Brent's idea, so I'm just going with it.

As we pull into this picturesque, quaint part of northeastern Wisconsin, I am struck by one recurring thought.

1.  People around understand the meaning of service.  True, most of them are in the business of hospitality, but they embody it, they live it.  Clerks asked us where we were from, and then proceeded to talk to us...liked they actually cared and like they genuinely wanted to hear our responses.  It's a far cry from the big-box corporate Svengalis we're used to.

So...Dream For Today 4/17: Purchase a Bed and Breakfast and run it with the husband.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's Holy Grail...but until then...enjoy these photos of a beautiful, wonderful place - Door County, Wisconsin.

Most wineries have abbreviated hours this time of year (AKA not The Season), but luckily, this place WAS open!
You all know my fondness for Spanish wines.  Unfortunately, this bottle goes home with the husband...that means I won't be drinking it until November 2014.
Thai Shrimp Wontons...amazing
A meatloaf sandwich on jalapeno-cheddar bread...and a glass of Riesling!  Courtesy of The Bluefront Cafe.



Wednesday, April 16, 2014

How Then To Live?

Number of states I've visited/driven through: 35 out of 50

Number of states I've lived in: 2 (Iowa and Minnesota)

Number of states I'm about to live in: 1 (Michigan)

This is it.  This is my last full day as a resident of the State of Iowa for awhile.  And while that is not terribly earth-shaking news, this is my last day in my house and hometown, a place where I know people, I know where I stand.  I know my messes and I know my routines.

And now I'm off to a place where I don't know.  Anything.  And that is little daunting.

So, I channel my inner Socrates...All I really know is that I know nothing.  I repeat as needed.

See, life really is too short; take a look at this breakdown...

Years 0-18 don't really count - we're too busy pooping out diapers, playing on the playground, and "finding our identity" (read: giving our parents apoplexy) to really seize the day, you know?  As teenagers, we *think* we're taking risks, but most of us are doing it with the safety net of our parents' love and support beneath us.

Years 18-25 - These are what I call the Gray Years.  It's mostly a period of Limbo.  Either we are doing the Nicholas Sparks thing and finding a soulmate, or we're getting our careers, or we're having kids, or all three.  It's still a time of discovery...of trial and error...of figuring things out.  We don't know much yet.

Years 25-60 - This is the Golden Era.  The Age of Getting Cool Stuff Done.  We're making money, establishing life credibility, and can go about the task of thinking about the big questions...What makes me happy?  How can I get more out of this life?  How, then, should we live?  Midlife crisis happens in this timeframe, as do other major life decisions, like moving overseas, going back to school, totally changing careers, etc.  We just start getting a feel for what we're meant to do...and how we're supposed to do it.

Years 60-Death - These years are a DNA crapshoot.  Family history of heart disease or breast cancer or longevity?  It's the simpler, yet more complicated things that take center stage here.  Diet and exercise seem to matter much, much, much more than they did before.  Medications that regulate now become part of the daily routine of living (the beginning of dependence on something other than yourself).  Genetic factors we never thought much about before all of a sudden are very important.  And suddenly, there's a realization that time is running out...and more important, have I done anything meaningful?  Have I made anything?  Will I have no regrets when I leave this world?

*Sigh*  Are we all thoroughly depressed now?  Sorry about that.  I guess I'm lucky...it's not too late for me, anyway.  I'm going to go, search, seek, and find out what I can.  For me, I guess the unknowns are worth it.

Keep reading here, oh you faithful one reader, as I chronicle my journey (both physical and spiritual).

Sunday, April 13, 2014

In Which I Suspect I Have Latent Tendencies...Much Like The Hulk, Or Similar

I find in most normally functioning families, the members have a distinguishing role or legacy or skill of some kind.

Like, he's the smart one.  Or, he's the religious one. 

Or...she's the glue that helps the fam together.  Or, she's the savvy one, so she's the Power of Attorney.

In my family, that system went something like this:

My dad was The Dad.  Cantankerous, crotchety, and especially tight with daughters' curfew times.  Also, not a fan of driving in Big Cities.
My mom was the long-suffering, patient, reserved one.
My brother was the baby, the one who got away with murder, the namesake, and also, Frosty Hoarder.

Me?  My legacy?  The Ruiner of Remote Controls.  No lie.  Although I've repressed the memories, my parents claim I destroyed at least two remotes in my tenure as Child Under The Roof.  Remote #1: milk spillage; Remote #2: applesauce spillage.

So, now you see why my younger brother was the favorite.

Anyway, then I went off to college, got married, had kids, got a respectable job...I thought I'd put all that terrible, terrible destructive past behind me.

But...you all know the darkness that lurks deep in the heart (and DNA) of man.  Just waiting patiently, biding its time...much like the Hulk's raging anger (but without the dangerous scientific alteration bit)...my predilection for gadget wreckage has resurfaced.

This week, I spilled coffee on my MacBook Pro.  Thankfully, due to my quick-thinking and my husband's diligence, the damage was restricted to the top case (read: mostly the keyboard), but unfortunately, that danced to the tune of a couple hundred dollars and a two-day stay at the Genius Bar in the Apple Store.

And that, friends, is why I've not posted much in the last six days.

But, less time on the laptop means more time in the kitchen, right?

Hey, check out this (and other) recipe at www.buicupcakes.com
Here's what you're looking at.

Gin-and-Tonic cupcakes.

Yes.

You read that right.

I admit, I'm kind of a fan of adding alcohol to desserts.  It seems so very French on one hand, and so very kitschy on the other.  And I find I feel the same way about myself, some days.

Besides, these cupcakes have that Hulk thing going on too...a relatively respectable exterior with a dangerous secret that lies beneath.

Not that gin is anywhere on the same plane as superhuman strength and a proclivity for destruction (unless you drink too much gin, that is, then, yes).

There's gin in the cupcake batter (along with lime juice and zest).  There's a gin glaze atop the cupcakes.  And, there's also a gin buttercream piped on top.

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

HULK SMASH CUPCAKE.  Into his mouth.  That would be acceptable.

HULK SMASH CUPCAKE.  Onto a remote control.  That would not be acceptable.

We all have our crosses to bear.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Spring Roll Fun House

If I haven't said it before, I'll mention it now:

I live in my hometown.  I've been here all my life, except for, like 12 years, when I was off at university, getting Career, and becoming a parent.

And while I'm a great proponent of change, I do believe there are some things that are sacred.  For example, the city park in my hometown had one of these dealies:

Actually, this is the actual Fun House from the park in my hometown, lifted from a website called www.villageprofile.com.

I'm sure most of you can see how this works.  Much like a hamster in a wheel, running inside the fun house gets it moving rather quickly.  Inevitably, somebody trips, falls, gets quite hurt, and hurts several others participants in the process.  Also, risks of getting painful splinters were very high.

It was really good, clean family fun.

Imagine then, my surprise, nay, my indignant vexation to discover this fun house had been torn down after being deemed unsafe?

It was sad, really, like a significant piece of my childhood had been punched in the face.

It was with this mixture of sadness and nostalgia that we made Spring Rolls a couple of nights ago.  Because Spring Rolls look a lot like fun houses.

Courtesy of wikipedia.org
Spring Rolls are very similar to egg rolls, except rice paper is used in lieu of wonton wrappers.  Rice paper is amazing stuff.  Once you dampen it, it becomes stretchy and sticky.  So - keep a damp cloth or a bowl of water nearby to keep your fingers wet as you work with this.

Remember that flat iron steak we'd been marinating in the last post?  Now is its time to shine.  A quick fry-up in a hot skillet, some bean sprouts, shredded carrots, and fresh mint, cilantro, and basil leaves are the only things needed to fill your Vietnamese fun house.

Dip the rice paper in water, fill the items listed above (not too much...bulging spring rolls are unattractive), and roll up, tucking in sides.

This little guy was made by one of my children, I suspect.  It's rather untidy, but you get the point of what's going on here.  The green of the herbs, brown of the meat, and white/orange of the vegetable all press up against each other in a Fun House of Deliciousness.

I am instantly transported back to the wooden barrel fun house of my youth.

Oh, and, consider whipping up a quick, yummo Asian dipping sauce (for me: soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, sriracha, and sweet chili sauce).

Your life will be nearly complete.  Nostalgic memories and all.


Friday, April 4, 2014

I'm A Poblano...He's An Ancho...She's A Scotch Bonnet

Wouldn't you like to be a Pepper too?

Remember that old David Naughton commercial from the 70s for Dr. Pepper?  Ah.  The 1970s.  From what I can remember of that decade, it was pretty good times.  No car seats.  No buckling in.  AM/FM radio.  Gas rationing.  Hostage crisis.

Okay, so I don't remember any of the 70s.  But, my parents don't complain much about that decade...which is a good indicator of happy times (relatively).

Supposedly, my 13-year-old daughter likes spicy food.  And by that, she means jalapeños, and the Tabasco and sriracha sauces.  I don't think she means a Scotch Bonnet pepper sauce.  Take a look here.

Image courtesy of businessinsider.com
This is the Scoville scale for rating the heat of peppers.  The higher the Scoville units, the more likely you'll burn off your taste buds for eternity.

So, The Kirbster likes jalapeño pepper, which registers in at 2,500-8,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU).  And she also likes Tabasco sauce (as do I), which sits at 30,000-50,000 SHU.

But I wonder how she'd feel about a Trinidad Scorpion pepper sauce?  The pepper at The. Freaking. Top. Of. The. List.

I feel pretty positive that she (nor I, for that matter) would be down with that.

We are not those kinds of Peppers.

My sons and husband are far less adventurous...they hover right around an Ancho/Poblano, way down the chart.  And frankly, Elliot prefers the Bell Pepper range (SHU = 0).

This morning, I prepared a marinade for a thinly-sliced flat iron steak to be used in spring rolls tomorrow.  The recipe called for a Thai chile...which I knew I would likely NOT find at my local grocery store.  But, now, looking at this chart, it's probably a good thing I couldn't find one.  Should I have used a Thai chile, the marinade/meat would be much hotter than a majority of my family would enjoy.  Fortunately, I did happen to have Chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce in my refrigerator, which is a perfectly suitable heat substitution.  However, the Adobo sauce also adds a smokiness to the marinade that seems more Mexican than Asian...

Ah well, that's what we call 'fusion'.

Here's the marinade recipe in its entirety.  Of course, I've made changes based on what I had available to me, but the springboard is the "Pan-Grilled Beef with Thai Flavors in Rice Paper" recipe from John Torode's Beef and Other Bovine Matters.

1 Tbsp orange marmalade (lemon juice would work too)
2 tsp garlic, minced
1 shallot, chopped
2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped
2 tsp. fish sauce
2 tsp. lime juice
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. Korean BBQ sauce
1/4 - 1/2 cup water

Put everything but the water in a blender or food processor.  Blend until smooth, add enough water for desired consistency.  Pour over thinly sliced flat iron (or chicken or pork!) and let sit over night.


The marinade is a pale but lovely orange color.   For those of you who like a little kick, this marinade's got it...but it's not overwhelming.  Kind of comes right in there at the end.  It's soaking right now into my sliced beef, and tomorrow will be become spring rolls.

Wouldn't you like to be a Spring Roll, too?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Thirty-Some Aprils

Yesterday marked the beginning of my birth month...this is my 38th April of existence here on Planet Earth (not to be my 39th until later in the month).

April is one of those "cusp" months here in America.  Sometimes it's really nice and gorgeous and springy and green, and other times it's cold and rainy/snowy and winter-esque.

Usually, by the end of the month, though, Mother Nature has gotten her shit together.  And, usually by the time my birthday rolls around at the end of the month, the temperatures are good (precipitation is iffy, but one out of two ain't bad, right?).  Lots of birthdays I know of are in April, which makes me wonder what the hell was happening in July of the previous year?  Lots of sprightly young couples celebrating America's birthday?

Life proceeds to get busier and busier here at Chez Nelson.  Spring sports have begun, and that means soccer for the younger two kids, and high school golf for the older.  Not that I mean to wish away time, but I look forward to the soon-to-be-15-year-old getting his driver's license...then he can shoulder some of this taxi burden.

I'd like to be able to talk more about food here today, but frankly, I can only do so much in the kitchen right now.  I could test a cheesecake recipe or something to do with beef, but that's extra food that ends up in the refrig, or worse, in my belly and in the vicinity of my rear end.  I suppose when I head off to the Mackinac Island later on this month to start my internship, I'll need to focus on more "academic" blog entries anyway...since I won't have access to much of a kitchen to play in besides my work place.

In other news, there is an ongoing effort to promote industriousness here at the home; in the name of a family challenge.  All Wii and xbox games have been hidden, along with the controllers for play.  We've also taken the kids' iPods and Brent's iPad and placed them in a safe place as well.  With schoolwork and whatnot, computer time is difficult to get around, so we've created a logsheet of time spent on the home computer/laptops.  For example, after I compose and proofread this post, I will fill in how long I spent on my laptop and what I was doing.  Believe me, I've been compelled to rethink my jumping on the computer whenever I feel like it, especially since I've got to record it for my entire family to scrutinize.

The point is to a.) try to loosen the chokehold that technology has on this family and b.) find something productive to do with the time we AREN'T on a screen of some sort.  Because, really, we've been finding around here that we frequently piddle away hours on the Internet, doing who knows what.  And because of it, we're not building anything, we're not making anything, we're not doing anything...and it's a problem.

So yesterday, with the time I saved not being on the computer...I made a French Silk Pie.  The crust was too thick and tough...but the filling was extremely decadent.  And today, I finished Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan (about the romance of writer Robert Louis Stevenson and his American wife, Fanny).  And now, I'm in the midst of looking through a baking book Kirby checked out from the library, photocopying dessert recipes I'd like to try (mostly cheesecakes, hmph).

So mundane, yet so esoteric.  These are the Days of Our Lives.