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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Neighbors

Our friend Clare, a true Renaissance woman in Crawford with an absurd amount of energy (she's building two or three houses with her bare hands, and doing it with a six-month-old strapped to her front and a two-and-a-half-year-old on her back), gave us a bagful of produce from her garden when the bug and I met her and her kids at the Chick-Fil-A (the new one on the East Side has a great—i.e., air-conditioned—playground). Among other things the bounty included these neat beans. Note the gorgeous dark purple ones; in real life they were almost iridescent. I have no idea what any of them are, but they were great just steamed in the same pot with some Yukon Gold and red new potatoes then tossed with Champagne vinegar and pesto.

On Saturday night, Mr. and Mrs. Chalmers went out to the Hold Steady show at the 40 Watt, and our neighbor from across the road stayed with the little Chalmers (until 2 a.m.!). I made a spinach lasagne for her dinner—anticipating that we'd also appreciate leftovers the next, long day while we recovered. And the first pie I've made in months and months: blueberry, with a cornmeal crust, from this very good recipe on Epicurious. It was lovely morning-after food.

Pie and crayon.

Our other neighbor, June from up the road, came by early one morning last week and picked up the bug. She and her two granddaughters, who've been playing with the bug all summer, often just taking her up to June's house for supper and bringing her back at bedtime, took the bug to swim at Lake Russell for the whole day! They got home at 5. I almost didn't know what to do with myself all day, but I managed to strip several coats of paint and contact paper off the bug's former diaper-changing table (an Ikea number from way back), sand it down, and "Americanize" half of a UK cookbook. And now I'd better get to the other half . . .


3 comments:

Heidijane said...

Wow. I need to start shipping my kid out like that more often. You have done some good things!

How do you feel about Americanizing a UK cookbook? Of course, it probably pays you so you do it. But I am annoyed that publishers feel we Americans need that. Can we somehow not handle the extra "u" or converting measurements ourselves? It is not that hard to look up "treacle" in the dictionary.

Liana said...

I know—it's been a great summer for babysitters-in-training. Sometimes the girls would come get her (unprompted, of course), and I'd call the Mr. at work and tell him to rent a movie and bring it home!

Yes, obviously I'm getting paid for the Americanizing. It's actually a little harder than I would've thought, mostly because I have to convert metric weight to standard volume (cups, tablespoons, etc.), which means finding out how many cups 500 grams of cherry tomatoes (halved?) is, for example, or "whole wheat flour with kibbled rye and wheat grains" (which itself needs a US equivalent, and there isn't one), and I also want to make sure the amounts for canned goods make sense for an American consumer (14.5 ounces for beans, 13.5 for coconut milk, or whatever). And pan sizes are all screwy, so for like a jelly roll sponge cake I have to check the volume of a standard UK pan and find a standard US pan that is approximate so the baking time works out. Cooking from a UK book is easy enough, but doing the Americanization "officially" is kind of a pain—and this one's a diet book, with detailed nutritional information for each recipe, so I feel like I have to be pretty exact.

The real problem, though, is that UK cookbooks almost without exception suck. This one I'm doing is a little better than most, I think. Usually they're inconsistent, vague, sloppy, inexact (despite the fact that everything's weighed), and poorly written. The pictures are hilariously terrible, and in general UK cookbook authors seem to think that just because you can add peas to something you should.

clare said...

ooo, i like the sound of that! renaissance woman! it has a much better ring than exhausted-chicken-without-head-but-happy woman...don't you think? =)
you made those beans look amazing! the only other ingredient i have been adding is well water and salt =) kids have colds..will call u when better so we can play again