Friday, January 28, 2011

Strawberry Pie




It has been over a week since my last journal entry. I was on the road to Florida for the Orlando Phonograph Show. I’m going to start this entry with Monday, and mash it all up. Hopefully it will make sense!

Billy and I were up early to drive to Webster, Florida to the flea market. The busiest day for this market is Martin Luther King Day. This year it ended up being a wash-out due to rain. Today (1/24) should be better. It was bitter cold as we left Billy’s house in my truck. I did not wear my Utilikilt, and had layer upon layer of other clothes on. Central Florida is so much colder than the coasts. There was frost on the grass as we explored the fields as the dealers were setting up in the early morning.

Antique wise there was little to find that I was interested in. The closest things were a set of porch lights that I had no earthly use for. The real big draw is the fresh produce. I spent $5.00 on a ½ flat of fresh strawberries and another $5.00 for three bags of ruby red grapefruit!

Here is where I have to jump around a bit. What the Hell was I going to do with 6 pints of strawberries? Time to reflect a bit on the past: Back when I lived in Lancaster, PA in the early 1970’s the biggest treat imaginable was to go to Hess’s department store and get a huge piece of strawberry pie. I remember finding a recipe for it on the internets in the past. I decided to make up that strawberry pie!

First problem was making a pie crust. I found a great basic pie crust recipe on line. However, I did not have any shortening. Cooking for one, that kind of stuff just goes bad. Here is where I really appreciate finding recipes like this on line. The comment section after this basic recipe was filled with pointers and suggestions. One commenter said she substituted frozen butter for the shorting, using a grater to break it up into the flour. She also added a bit of sugar and vanilla.

What a perfect idea, and it was exactly what I did! I have never made a pie crust from scratch before. I used mom’s pastry tool to chop the flour, salt (cut way back because my butter was salted) and sugar together. Then a dinner fork was used to blend it all with the ice water. It was formed into a ball and wrapped in plastic to chill overnight.

Early Thursday morning the oven was heated to 475° as I rolled out the dough. I really got into it! When it was to size, I rolled the crust around the rolling pin and transferred it to the pie tin. It baked for 7 minutes to a nice brown.

Later in the morning I hulled enough strawberries to line the crust.

Three cups of whole berries were required to make the glaze. These were first mashed, then put through a ricer, and finally through a wire strainer into a pot. Water and lemon juice was added and the mixture was brought to a boil and corn starch was added so it would all thicken. Once cooled to room temperature. The glaze was poured over the berries in the pie crust.

The whole mess sat overnight.

Today, Friday the 28th was my big day at the “Y”. I had made up my mind to erg another ½ marathon: 21,097 meters. I warmed up first with some stretches and leg raises for my hamstrings. Got a glass of water for the mid way drink and an extra towel to sit on. At home I had duct-taped sterile gauze pads to the blisters that have developed from the extended erging I’ve been doing for this challenge.

I programmed my workout for a single distance of 21,097. I had a long playlist on my MP3 player all set and playing. I had to beat my first ranked time of 1.35:01.6. This meant I had to do a racing start. I held my breath as I focused my attention and began with 2 1/2 slides, a 3/4 slide, a "reach" slide and finally a full slide and 10 hard fast strokes.

I was so pissed when I realized five minutes into the row I forgot to position my heart monitor readout on the handle! Oh well… too late for that! For the first 10,000 meters I did power sets every 5,000 for a minute. Then I went to power sets every 2,500 meters starting at 7,500. I could feel my right calf start to cramp up at my 5,000 meter mark. Cut back a little, but at the last 500 meters I went all out. It paid off as I shaved over 2 minutes off the previous time. Today I was 1.32:39.3. Ranking that workout put me at 16 of 35 for my age and weight class.

After a long HOT shower and a rest with the cats, I made up fresh whipped cream and dumped it on a heaping piece of strawberry pie. It tasted just as I remember from nearly 40 years ago.

Tonight I’ll cook up my last chuck steak with lots of butter and onions. Then I’ll top it all off with another hunk of pie and whipped cream!

Life is good!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Stop the Whining




Monday I was viewing a You-tubes on Rochester, NY. On the side bar were other related videos. I’m still in amazement in how the “tubes” (internets) has changed my life. I watched one of the linked videos which was of a Rochester, NY news show reporting how Church’s Fried Chicken ran out of chicken during a sale. The story reporter interviewed disappointed customers who were turned away from the “chickenless” restaurants. I’m not going to link to the video because I found it very troubling. The way these people carried on you would have thought it was the end of the world…..

As I reflect upon my past I’m constantly amazed how a simple remark made in passing could have such a profound effect upon how I’ve lived my life. I was touring Europe the summer of 1970 with the American Youth Hostels. There was an event I wanted to look my best for. Carrying clothes in bicycle saddlebags does not result in nice looking garments. I was lamenting how my collared shirt was full of wrinkles. One of the German guys in the dorm said to me, “You Americans. People are dying in the world and you are worried about a wrinkled shirt!”

A chance remark from a stranger opened my eyes to something I had never even contemplated. In the grand scheme of things what difference would it make if my shirt were wrinkled or not? I was unconsciously whining; a trait I truly dislike.

I grew more intellectually in that summer of 1970 than I could ever imagine. That German teen ager forced me to look at the world with me not being the center of the universe.

That is one reason I’m so nauseated by the current political climate. Before “the tubes” news stories reported on TV and Radio were heard/viewed once. It was pretty much impossible to go back to retrieve a story to fact check or rehear/view it again. Not anymore.

I have great respect for Jon Stewart. As a comedian he is like the court jester used to be to the king. The court jester could counsel the king through comedy as counselors could not. It is really sad The Daily Show does more research and fact checking then “legitimate” news outlets

This clip on the memorial service in Tucson, AZ shows Americans facing adversary with strength and resolve. But, it also shows Americans whining at their best. The moderators crying over the seating arrangements is a new low in my book. I would not want to be remembered for complaining about where people sat for such an occasion…..

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-january-13-2011/veiled-criticism

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Always Eat Healthy Food




January is flying by way too quickly for this boy. If only things would warm up some. It was 17° when I put my laundry on the line at 7:00 a.m. this morning. Stumpy made two trips outside and is curled up on the bed with Daggy in “cat bliss”.

After breakfast yesterday I went to the sewing machine repair place and got a replacement belt for my old sewing machine. It was only $7.58 total. I pulled out a ten dollar bill and remembered I had change…I told the lady “Oh wait, I’ll use up some of this change then you can just give me dollar bills back.” I had to go into two pockets to get the last penny and I had to laugh, and then explain, “My father used to do this all the time and it drove me crazy, now here I’m doing the same thing! The apple does not fall far from the tree!!” She was smiling as I left, I knew she understood!

I got to the “Y” in the mid afternoon. After some stretching exercises I set up the Concept 2 rower for my erg session. For once I remembered to bring the MP3 player. Got wired up and programmed my workout for a set time: one hour. I started out with my favourite routine of Anna Russell in which she gives a description of Wagner’s Ring Cycle in layman’s terms. The music of the “Ring Cycle” is so glorious, but to hear her describe the action and storyline of the opera makes me laugh till I’m nearly crying. To quote Anna, “That’s the beauty of grand opera; you can do anything so long as you sing it!”

I had my player set to do a great playlist while I rowed. After “Anna” it played one song and then cut out due to a low battery! Damn! I finished out the hour in silence trying to really concentrate on my sprints every ten minutes. I covered 13,707 meters. I’ll try for another hour today and see if I can beat that distance. My “virtual team” needs every meter I can give them!

I was starving by the time supper rolled around. I planned on being bad the other day when I picked up two cube steaks at Publix. I breaded them up and turned on the deep fat fryer. The left over flour and seasonings was added to a generous amount of bacon grease in mom’s old cast iron frying pan to which I added the leftover milk and egg. More milk was added along with more ground pepper.

Left over smashed potatoes were nuked in the microwave and the first breaded cutlet was dropped in the 375° oil. I love to hear that crackling frying noise. It brings back memoires of working the back line at Burget Chef.

The chicken fried steak and potatoes were smothered in the white gravy. I had to force myself to eat slowly…. It was SO GOOD!!! There are enough leftovers for a repeat meal in a couple days. Don’t tell the food police!!

One of my facebook friends had posted on his wall this morning: One of my favorite quotes is by Abraham Lincoln: “The best way to predict your future is to create it.” Setting goals provides us with a way to create our future today by focusing our attention and daily action steps toward what we really want and then making them a reality. Setting goals works.

I’ve gotten used to seeing postings like this on facebook pages and I wonder if there is a site they get pulled from. This really got to me as I’m now living the future I envisioned all those years ago when I was working production in the factory.

I had a conference with my investment advisor concerning my accounts Monday. We had done some tweaking to my holdings last summer which rewarded me with good results. I’ll be 59 ½ by the end of the year and can start to draw on my 401’s. She asked me when I planned on drawing them down. I replied that I did not have any plans to draw on them in the foreseeable future.

This is kind of like when you go on a trip and the journey is so enjoyable, you don’t know what to do when you get to the destination. It sounds crazy, but I've spent so much of my life being frugal and counting pennies it can be hard to let go and spend money on something I'm not passionate about. Enough of this … I need to get my journey started to the “Y” so I can kick butt on the Concept 2 today! My MP3 is all charged up!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Mend and Make Do




It was the early fall of 1972 I signed on to the midnight sort at United Parcel Service in Lancaster, PA. Working nights loading the delivery trucks on the line and “hogging” in the trailers necessitated having warm rugged clothes. Champion Apparel had a “real” outlet store in Perry, NY. The clothing they sold was true factory rejects. My favourite basketball jersey from that store had a big 16 on the front and a 17 on the back! That shirt drove people crazy when I used to wear it!

It so happened I was home in Lockport, NY before I started that job assignment. My mom, dad, good friend Toni, and I made the 55 mile trip to Perry, NY so I could stock up work clothes. We left early on a bright Saturday morning, driving through the Alabama swamps, the city of Batavia, and the rolling farmland till we reached Perry, NY.

Whenever we made this excursion we would have breakfast at “The Hole in the Wall” restaurant located in the heart of the village. This place was famous in they would always give a serviceman or woman their meal for free if they were in uniform. That tradition began during WWII. My metabolism was off the charts back then. I can still remember the look from my dad when I ordered bacon, eggs, homefries, and a side stack of hotcakes for my meal. I ate every bite!

Going to an outlet store was a big deal back then; I made the best of this opportunity stocking up with lots of heavy sweat pants and heavy sweatshirts. I have two of those sweatshirts remaining from that trip I can still wear. They are so battered and worn I only use them for the really messy jobs I don’t want to risk my better clothes on.

Working on the Graphophone mainsprings this past weekend was one such job where I was wearing the Temple University Football shirt. The cuffs were so ragged even I had to admit they made the sweatshirt unwearable. I did a laundry of my nastiest work clothes Monday. The grease washed out really well from that old sweatshirt; I could not bear to rip it into rags.

Google searches for “sweatshirt knit cuffs” led me to a discussion board. It was suggested that the elastic tops of socks can make perfect cuffs. What a great idea! It was easy to find a pair of socks with the bottoms pretty much worn through to use.

It was easy work to sew the sock-tops to the sweatshirt sleeves. I should be able to get at least another ten years wear out of that garment!

the shreds of the original cuffs and the new "sock cuffs"

This aspect of my life I can’t make sense of. I’ve made playing the “miser” into an art form. But, truth be told, I can get a comparable sweatshirt at the thrift store for a few dollars any time I want. Hell, I can even go to the “yuppie stores” and pay top dollar if I were so inclined. It is not the money aspect. Whenever I wear those old sweats I think back to when they and I were young. The memorable trip with those I cared about that early fall morning to Perry, NY: Working on the loading docks at UPS, doing chores around my first house in Lockport and now my home in Alabama. I always have happy memories wearing those worn out clothes. It is also a good way to annoy people… I’ve got ammo for years now harping on how to make use of worn out socks!!!

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About Me

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Tuscaloosa, Alabama, United States
Retired auto worker who can now spend too much time restoring his 1922 Bungalow Home. I'm involved in a number of varied activities from collecting bricks to rowing with a masters rowing group. This blog is to share different aspects of my life on my Facebook page. I've kept an on-line journal for eight years.