Make-up Entry

As promised I’m posting on Sunday to make up for those truncated entries on Thursday and Friday.

Happy National Etiquette Week! As with Earth Day, I don’t understand why etiquette only warrants a week. At least it gets six more days than the Earth, but shouldn’t people be courteous all the time?

So far this weekend has been much, much quieter than last. I was able to clean the kitchen (including the floor!) which had been neglected, pay bills, plow through some e-newsletters that had been piling up since March, and work my way through a few NYTimes mags and New Yorkers (both dating back to March). Visited my friend Wendy’s open studio and purchased a gift, which I can’t reveal until I give it.

The best New Yorker items were “Hollywood Shadows: A cure for blocked screenwriters“ and “Incredible Edibles: The mad genius of ‘Modernist Cuisine. ‘”

The people offering the cure for the block were expensive therapist Barry Michels, who sounds like a combination of Carl Jung (hence the shadows reference) and a rude, domineering father/older brother, and even more expensive and ruder psychiatrist Phil Stutz whose technique includes telling writers, “Keep writing shit, stupid,” only he puts it in all caps.

The thing is, these guys produce magnificent results for their patients — at least the ones included in “Hollywood Shadows” who have overcome phobias and won awards. Some are in such bad shape that an initial goal is just to sit in a chair and write for ten minutes. They have some complicated ways of getting their patients to overcome all the BS. Whatever works…

The chefs in “Incredible Edibles” have an affinity for excrement as well. The piece opens with a description of “sous vide” cooking, which sounds like recipes for ptomaine because the temps never get high enough to kill the evil bacteria. Without explaining why people don’t die after eating sous vide steak, the article moves along to a description of the $625 book Modernist Cuisine: The Art and Science of Cooking. Here we will encounter near-absolute zero combinations and so forth.

The discussion later returns to excrement or “poo-eating,” described as “exhaustive, convincing, and gag-inducing.”

I did learn several pieces of useful information. One is that whipping egg whites in copper stabilizes them. Now if I could just afford the copper pots. Another useful bit is that light and dark foods absorb heat at different rates. As the author of “Incredible Edibles” said, it makes total sense. Why has no one ever mentioned it before? Also on the subject of heating, I learned the hard way on one of my trips to Denver that water boils at 180 degrees and thus managed to ruin an entire pot of rice. Nevertheless it hadn’t occurred to me that oven temperatures would follow the same rule. I don’t remember having a problem with the oven on my last visit, but now that I think about it, the roast turkey at Anna’s (elevation 5,400 feet) required more time than it should have.

The best part of “Edibles” is the photo of a cross-section of a roast in the pot with the veggies artfully displayed. The bottom line, though, is that I don’t love cooking enough to invest the thousands in the equipment needed to produce modernist. I’ll stick to cast iron skillets, a wok, wooden spoons, and a blender. My most esoteric piece of kitchen equipment is a mandolin, which I’ve had for years and use to produce thin, even slices of potato, cucumber, and so forth.

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