Three Round Meals

Now you may find this ironic, but the fact is that when Gillian and I are together at home, we each grab our own breakfasts — usually cereal or toast — but when she’s away I’ll cook a special treat.

There’s a simple explanation for this: what I like to eat is disgusting.

Bread dough fried in porkbelly fat and swimming in blackstrap molasses — heavenly!

A fried dough blob is called a “touton” — rhymes with “scoutin’” — in Newfoundland. I had some sourdough starter in the fridge, so I threw some fancy-schmance sprouted whole wheat flour at it till it made a soft dough, for my first attempt at preparing this new-to-me dish. The porkbelly bits, rendered in the pan till they’re nice and chewy, are called scruncheons. Basically they’re bacon without the additives. Wash the meal down with a cup of coffee and half a can of Graves baked beans with molasses.

Then there was a “yikes” meal. Yikes, all this leftover basmati, what to do with it? Make rice pudding is what. Gillian hates rice pudding, so here was my chance. Two eggs, almond milk, raisins, chopped chestnuts; didn’t need sugar because I slopped redcurrant-strawberry jelly-jam over it. Slurp. The next day’s leftovers got redcurrant jelly. Just as slurp.

This last meal was inspired by the photos my sweetie was sending me of her meals in Japan. A nice minimalist look, don’t you agree, and something of a rising sun, those cheddar rays of the rice cakes rising above the dark clouds of pitted prunes.

But this meal was supper, not breakfast. Although I may have heated a smoked capelin or two for dessert.

Just doing my bit to help Gillian appreciate the strange foods of Japan all the better.

Unreliable Witness

“Tell me, Ms Bruce, where were you between the hours of 6am and 3pm on the day of February 11, 2019?”

“Certainly. I was upstairs, downstairs, in the basement, in the backyard, and down the street.”

“Are you trying to be funny, Ms Bruce?”

“No, sir. I’m just answering your question.”

For most people, “I stayed home” is a gross inaggeration of their activities. We do things we don’t even think of as “things.” In jotting down everything I did today up until 3pm, I forgot “made and ate lunch,” “made myself a coffee,” “lay down for a short nap,” and “read two pages of To the Lighthouse,” but still had 27 items on my list.

But wait, there’s more! Lots of activities contain numerous sub-activities. “Did two loads of laundry,” big whoop. But laundry entails sorting dirty clothes, choosing optimal machine settings, listening for the machine to finish, removing the lint, folding the clean clothes, and putting them away. It may entail climbing stairs. It may entail using clothespins on an outdoor laundry line or an indoor drying rack. “Making coffee” includes grinding it, putting the used grounds in the compost bucket, and washing the pot. “Napping” includes reading To the Lighthouse as an alt-med sleeping agent.

Then there are while-I’m-at-it tasks. While I’m watering the houseplants, lemme just remove these dead ivy leaves. While I’m making a smoothie for my lupper, lemme just give the dogs a spoonful each of the yogurt. While I’m getting my clean mug out of the dishwasher, lemme just put away the rest of the dishes.

And no day is complete without a yikes chore or two. Yikes, that leftover redcurrant juice has been waiting in the fridge for a week! Lemme just make some jam. Yikes, Cuca’s litterbox needs topping up! Lemme just go do that. Yikes, this salted fatback in the deep-freeze is a year old! Out you go.

So please, Mr Mason, no matter how interesting the crime, please don’t call me as a witness.

The scene of the grime.
Photo taken by me on my iNonPhone.

My Partner’s Passion

My spouse has often wondered aloud whether she should be spending so much time on her photography. I think I’ve permanently damaged my eyes from two decades of rolling them. Photography is her bliss, of course she should follow it!

This week, she’ll be following her passion all the way to Japan. Woot! I get to stay home and be lazy. Double woot!

Now in case either of my readers are wondering about their own sweeties, here is my list of 10 reasons to suspect that one’s partner is passionate about photography.

1. You and your spouse together take the dogs for their afternoon walk. You always remember their scoop bags; she always remembers her camera.

2. The first thing she purchased for her trip to Japan was a weatherproof case holding 12 64gb memory cards.

3. On the third day, she arose from her desk chair, having chosen from among 200 possibilities the perfect camera-gear bag.

4. Her most frequently-used verb is “focus”.

5. She laughs in the face of snowstorms: they make excellent background for minimalist nature shots.

6. When typing online, she writes ISO more frequently than LOL.

7. She notices that one of your blog posts has no accompanying photo, so she helpfully emails you a few.

8. Her favourite colour is black-and-white.

9. She doesn’t notice a large gift, wrapped in pink and red tissue paper, sitting on her studio table (see #8 above).

10. Your pets are Bokeh the dog, F-Stop the cat, and Ansel and Adams the lovebirds.

Well all right, #10 exaggerates. But if you recognize five or more of these symptoms, you may well be living with a photographer.

#11. She crosses a busy highway to avoid overhead wires.
Taken by me on my iNonPhone.


Peanut Butter And…

…syrup. Not again?

On the plus side, I used up only two pounds of red currants — one bagful — and eight bags remain in the deep-freeze.

Took me three days this year to pick the darlings. The bushes love my backyard and progenize their little heads off, and since these currants aren’t native, the birds don’t eat them. So I pick them. And pick them. And pick them.

The few times I’ve tried making jelly, I got syrup instead. So today I found myself lamenting, “Three times a bridesmaid” more than once. Obviously that’s nonsense, I can always try again.

And again. And again. And again. And…

But I have faith that one of these days I will be SOOO proud of myself! That marvelous day, I will have eight lovely jars of jewel-like jelly to give away to all my friends.

Because by that time, I’ll be so sick of red currants I won’t eat a bite.

Ina’s jelly bag hung over the ceramic pour-spout bowl Angela gave us for our wedding attached to my applesauce-sieve framework by kitchen pins Gillian gave me for Christmas. It’s a community thing. Photo by me on my iNonPhone.

Writing Run-down

Dear Tucker,

You asked why I’ve started a blog, and I waxed incoherent. That’s the crux of it: I can’t marshal my thoughts fast enough while talking. Writing became my major means of expression starting when I was 12.

At 57, I do still try to converse. And fail. And when I fail, that’s when I look back at my writings and think, Wow, this is pretty sucky too. 

And so, with the caveat that I’m feeling blue today, here is a rundown of my five latest blog posts. You won’t read them, but nothing impedes me from pretending you will.

1. “A Quarter-millennium of Yum” : In this entry, my writing sucks — wrote too fast. Head down to the paragraph with the drop-cap A for the 1766 description of chowder.

2. “Rock Bottom” : Only marginally sucky writing. If you want to read the comments, just click below the yellow tags at the foot of the post, then hit the back button afterwards (but since you won’t visit the blog, let alone read the comments, please save yourself some time now by not reading this sentence I’ve just written).

3. “The Break” : About 600 words, should be edited for length, maybe drop half of them and then reduce it by a further 300 words.

4. “The Colourful Concertina” : My favourite, and it’ll be yours too, because it’s only 14 words long including title and tags.

5. “A Shelter for Theo” : a pun-laced story about my outdoor thermometer and the housing I built for it. My very least-sucky writing.

Amazing! Am starting to feel better, just by having written to you. Wonder if St Francis ever said, “Where there are blues, let me sow self-deprecating humour”?

Looking forward to our next kaffeeklatsch.

– Janet.