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Two Things I’ve Just Learned

September 13, 2021
View of the counter and cabinet by the kitchen door. Green Lined Journal; brush pen, and ink wash. There is actually a key for this sketch, but roughly what you’re looking at is a bunch of containers of flour and grains surrounding a dark charcoal KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer, some sheet pans and cooling racks, and a bunch of stacked bannetons to proof bread in. (Oh, and a jar of Orville Redenbacher’s White Pop Corn.)

Since the pandemic started I’ve needed more containers for food. Just before the pandemic I had returned to baking bread after about a 6-year break. But with the pandemic I decided I’d rather make all the bread we eat than have Dick bring loaves home from the Co-op that had been handled and coughed on. Just cautious, that’s me.

To store all the different flours I was experimenting with (I mean if I’m going to be doing all this baking I’m going to be experimenting) I needed more containers. 

I like the rectangle containers you can find on Amazon from tons of companies—they are all built on the same model—rigid bodies and flat tops with flaps that snap into place, keeping things fresh. There are tall ones for spaghetti, and short ones for my chocolate, and large ones for flour or Scoops (my chip of choice).

During the past three months while I’ve been ill with bronchitis (yes I’ve been getting lots of doctor input, it seems we have a meeting every Monday) I found it difficult to eat a lot of the things I typically would eat. I even had to go on a clear liquid diet at one point. That’s something typically reserved for colonoscopy prep. I don’t like this diet at the best of times, but decided since there was no colonoscopy on the horizon “clear” could be extended to include the rich red “Outside” popsicles I liked, staining my insides not being an issue. But I did start eating Life Savers Peppermint Mints now and then, just to take the taste of coughing away.

So About the Two Things I’ve Learned…

Eating peppermints stopped this week when I learned that peppermint candy uses turpentine to get the “flavoring.” There’s just too much candy being made in the world to count on the fragile mint crops! EEEEE. 

And I learned that these candies, placed for a month in one of my beloved containers, will flavor the container and render it useless for storing anything else unless you want that contents to also be pepperminty. (And this no matter how many times you wash it, soak it, and run it through the dishwasher rendering all the other items pepperminty!)

Update: 9.13.21 6 p.m. Washing a peppermint infused container in the dishwasher will make the dishwasher smell of peppermint for multiple runs of the washer—though it doesn’t seem to flavor other dishes and containers being washed.

If the Sketch Horrifies You Here’s a Little Background About the Kitchen

I like things to be neat and tidy. I like to reach for tools and find them right where they are meant to be stored.  

Long before the pandemic hit we were short on kitchen space, kitchen cabinets, kitchen counter workspace…Sometime around 1995 Dick decided to renovate the breakfast nook—it’s a little built-out area in the kitchen for a table (everything about this house is built out by someone in the previous chain of ownership—walk into the downstairs bedroom closet, turn around, look up—there’s the original front door molding).

Renovating the breakfast noon involved ripping out the sheet rock and ceiling. It remained “naked” like that for a number of years, until a friend’s scheduled visit allowed me to light a bit of a fire under Dick. He got it put together but not painted before the friend arrived in 2003. Then our old roof gave out and the nook again was pulled apart. Visits from another group of friends saw it back together, but not plastered or painted in 2006. And it has been that way ever since.

I did try at one point to hire a friend’s contractor husband to finalize the job. He came to meet with Dick while I wandered into the studio with my friend to talk about art materials. Big mistake. HUGE.

When I returned the two men had bonded and Dick had been told he was doing exactly what needed to be done and just needed to finish it (i.e., there was no work there for the contractor). Sigh.

The breakfast nook is still unfinished in 2021. It now houses the large perforator it has held since 2000 (which was too large to migrate anywhere else in the house), a maple table that is lovely but covered with an odd assortment of things (i.e., it’s a storage spot now), and 2 bicycles (both mine, long story, but the garage isn’t an option).

I only really mind about this, well, maybe once a day—usually when I think I’ll bake bread, specifically croissants (for which I need the table for counter space so I haven’t baked them in 21 years)—or say, whenever I feel like cooking, well, anything.

Let’s just say I have a great ability to believe in the temporary nature of all things and the additional belief in change. I hold these two concepts in my mind simultaneously, while l reminding myself to live in the present moment.

This was very helpful when the pandemic hit because I suddenly was cooking all the time, but only buying groceries once every 3 weeks or so. That meant I needed storage space and cooking space. In my life those two are mutually exclusive. I have spent the pandemic moving containers from one spot to another, to make work space and then “put them away” again.

I am OK with this because I am grateful that I have containers and food to put in those containers, and the ability to cook, and a gas range to cook with (I really don’t like electric ranges). 

I also have the ability to adapt to odd working circumstances, refine and streamline them, and carry on.

Sometimes however I do feel like that frog in the pot of slowly heating up water…

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