--Let’s start with this quote from Peg Bracken’s I Hate to Cook Almanack (I don’t think she really hates to cook because no one who truly does would ever consider writing cookbooks. . . but this is not a cookbook I would use, either, because in the name of simple, there are way too many canned and processed foods—the status quo for when this book was written in the 60’s. I just thought you'd like to know all of that!):
“Everything that was of use, Mrs. Dancey hid away. Anything that was of no use to anybody, she proudly displayed. That was another reason Linnea knew she was a lady.” (Ardyth Kennedy)
Sometimes I think I’m doing too much of that, like with this hutch:
There was a time (and may still be in some homes) when a dresser like this served an important function. It was a place to hold china and other items for the kitchen or table. I do have dishes and kitchen items on it now, but I don’t need it because I have ample cupboard space in the kitchen, and I will not walk across the kitchen to grab those plates when I can reach into the cupboard more easily. But there it is—the hutch—in the kitchen, and something needs to go on it, and dishes or pottery seems the logical choice. I do like this piece of furniture (handmade in England from old, reclaimed pine).
I could do like my daughter Michelle and make it a place to set art supplies and nature finds like bird nests and collections of shells and leaves and pretty stones (useful and beautiful at the same time), but in my crowded kitchen it would only look like so much clutter. So a streamlined placement of dishes is better. Someday, I’ll have it set up so that it feels just right.
And it doesn’t have to be purely useful. Beautiful or interesting are good, too.
But I’m lingering too long on this item. Let’s move on to the next.
--There is a good reason that a blender has a lid. Don’t ask. Just don’t forget to use your lid. Take my word for it.
--I woke up to rain this morning. The window was open, and it sounded nice. Then I noticed the birds were singing (“we’re singing in the rain, just singing in the rain. . .”). And it made me smile. So, rather than be disappointed that rain falls on a day when company is coming, I decided to be glad I don’t have to water the grass (which saves me money), and, further, I determined to make it a cosy inside day. So, I turned on YoYo Ma and friends playing cheerful Baroque music and brewed a pot of coffee.
--Speaking of which. I never finish my cup of coffee anymore. Sometimes I don’t quite drink even half of my mug. What gives? I still love brewing the stuff, I still think it tastes good, and it continues to be a cheerful, compelling routine, but maybe my coffee drinking days are numbered. Tea? I’ve tried to drink tea routinely before because it’s good for me (I even bought a kettle created specifically for brewing tea—see it up there in the photo?), but I’ve never loved tea or been routinely eager to sip a cup. I do have some really fine green jasmine tea from China. A friend that travels for business often was given beautiful tins of this tea (it is a tea that is reserved mostly for diplomats and important people), and he gave the tins (with the tea!) to me. My family loves this tea. Can I actually learn to like it? Is it time to hang up the press—that beautifully designed staple of my kitchen?
--If I go to bed at 11:30 p.m., I still wake at just before 5:00 a.m., and less than 6 hours sleep nightly is not going to suffice. Tonight, it’s earlier to bed for me!
--I finished writing on the last page of my current journal this morning, and why does this always strike me as slightly sad? Because I’ve spent so much time with that journal and poured my heart out to it, only to relegate it to a dark box? But I do like starting a new journal, too. Who knows what will fill those pages!
--I have a cookbook shelf just around the corner in the living room, but piles of books seem to migrate steadily to the kitchen. They end up on the hutch, on top of the fridge, on the counter, on the table. I put them all away this morning, and, already, there are six books back in the kitchen: Super Natural Cooking, The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, Falling Cloudberries (gorgeous book), Simply in Season, Tender (by the unrivaled, brilliant Nigel Slater—he’s the best!), and The Food of Spain. I do love my cookbooks.
--I’ve dusted off the aerobics workout I created when I was in my 20’s (it was a maniacal workout!). Even though I’m in very good walking and climbing shape, all of my movements have been going in that same forward direction for too long, and I needed to use muscles besides those used for walking and hiking and climbing. I needed lateral movement, core exercises, stretching, and bouncing up and down and forward and sideways. So I cranked up the music and started slowly. At first, I could barely make a dent in that old, very demanding workout, but I’m slowly getting bouncier and stronger and able to do more of it. I just do this three or four times a week, and I don’t intend to push like I did in my 20’s (I just want to be healthy, and I prefer going on long, hard, hilly walks to this stuff).
--And now I shall get ready for company. I’ll sweep the floor and give the bathroom a once-over. Then it’s off to the farmers’ market, then to the natural food store, then to collect Aaron and bring him here. And then I’ll start cooking to get a jump start on the simple celebration meal we’ll be eating later today.
Have a lovely weekend.