In celebration of taste

I’m reading a lovely little book titled Bittersweet Country, edited by Ozarkian author Ellen Gray Massey. It contains the best articles from a periodical named Bittersweet, published by Massey’s English class from the Lebanon, Missouri high school. The magazine focuses on the Ozarks, the culture and the way of life of the early Ozark settlers.

The first section of the book focused on kitchens: what appliances existed and how they were used, how food was prepared, giving recipes, and even providing diagrams of typical kitchen organization. Most had a big, rough table, usually made by hand, with benches for seats. On this, food would be placed–for eating in the next meal or to hold for the next day. It would be covered with a pretty cloth to keep the bugs off.

In those days, the settlers were frugal and nothing was every thrown away; even ash served a purpose because ash that is wet and allowed to sit and rot forms lye as a by-product. Lye was essential for both cooking and cleaning, and many homes had an ash hopper where ashes from the wood stove and fireplace would be thrown. When it rained, water would trickle through it, resulting in the lye. The cook would then combine this with water and dried corn and boil it for a time to create hominy–a fluffy, and tasty, corn dish.

(I found a recipe for homemade hominy at WikiBooks. If you’re not familiar with WikiBooks, it’s a Wikipedia-related site for …open-content textbooks anyone can edit. )

Reading about kitchens and cooking in Bittersweet reminded me to recommend an enjoyable weblog: 101 Cookbooks. The author, Heidi Swanson, features recipes from her collection of cookbooks–providing interesting background material as well as entré into a world of natural and vegetarian and vegan cooking. It’s a beautiful site, too: perfect for her topic and interests. (It’s not a site that reads well as an RSS feed, which is probably why she doesn’t provide full feeds.)

Ms. Swanson also features some rather fascinating and unusual recipes, such as today’s Lemon Verbena Drop, giving a little cocktail background as apéritif:

In the past I’ve had (a few) friends who tended to treat cocktails more like fashion accessories than beverages. They always opted for the drink that best matched their handbag or shade of lipstick. Bless them though, because they always looked cute. Or cute for a while. There is a place up the street that serves saketinis in a pretty range of sunset colors – reds, pinks, oranges. They serve them in ultra-wide, shallow martini glasses. Turn one way, and the drink in your glass slides right out the other side. It’s a given, anytime we go there someone will end up either wearing their own drink, or wearing someone else’s.

101 Cookbooks led me indirectly to the cupcake weblog, a weblog about all things cupcakes. But let’s not stop there. If you’re like me and find wedding cakes to be a true art form, then here’s a tip: use the Flickr tag wedding cake to see hundreds of photos of wedding cakes, traditional and anything but. My favorite cake so far is this rather unusual Seussian affair.


Post Serenity

I did go see Serenity tonight. The movie theater is about 1/2 mile from us, and no one was out. We had the stadium seating theater; shared with approximately 20 other people. The seats were excellent and so was the sound, but the film developed a flaw in it for the last ten minutes. Didn’t impact on the overall movie, but was unfortunate.

I won’t talk about the movie–anything one can say is a spoiler. I think it was an excellent movie, but somewhat unexpected. It was a true Firefly show, though — no disappointments for fans. I didn’t see any hull number, but I’ll take a swing and guess at the hull number and ship soon to enter Serenity trivia as noted by Commander Rogers: the NC 1701, USS Enterprise.

Diversity Technology

It starts with one

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

David Weinberger wrote about turning down attendance at an event because the guest list ended up being all men.

When I told the organizers why I wasn’t coming, they replied that they had invited three women who turned out to be unavailable. After our conversation they have invited some more women. But, only a few because, they told me, they’re trying to keep the total number of participants down so it will be more intimate – more better bonding! I told them they could use my spot to invite another woman. Have I mentioned that this is how the old boy network is formed?

Well done David. And yes, I think it is important that you discuss it online. It lets other folks know that there are consequences for not ‘trying hard enough’ to reach diversity.

Trying to diversify these gatherings doesn’t mean a lowering of quality. It means keeping your mind open as to what makes an interesting person; being aware that each of us contributes in our own unique, and possibly, different way. It also means questioning the assumptions, and if the answers aren’t good enough, making what could be some tough decisions.

So I’ll say again: well done, David.