NOTHING SAYS, “HAPPY HOLIDAYS!” like a candle burning brightly on the mantle. The scented hand-dipped candle bought from an artisan on that lovely trip to Colonial Williamsburg. Or mass-produced Ikea candles, makes no difference. Well, a little, but regardless. Does a candle purify the air? Yes, it does. Air is drawn to the flame, and contaminants within the air are burned. And a burning candle looks nice. A candleholder completes the ambience.
Candleholders with a wide base for stability, room to catch fallen wax, and safely receive matches that may smolder still, these are traits one might desire. Just like a porringer. A recent quest for such a pair led us to the Cambridge Colonial line produced by Oneida.
Oneida? The company started in the mid-1800s, and which made at least half of all flatware purchased in the United States by 1980? Yep, same company. These mid-century pewter candleholders cost about ten bucks for the pair, but try to find a USA-made product of new production. Impossible! Garage-sales, online auctions, thrift stores! These are the battlegrounds on which we fight and win back heirlooms of American culture.
THE UBIQUITOUS RED-LID containers. Consistent of size, a design shared by no other company. From humble beginnings selling extracts door to door in 1889, Willoughby M. McCormick’s efforts became a global presence with 8,000 employees. McCormick even acquired their own plastic bottles producer.
For as long as I can remember, McCormick seasonings have been around the kitchen. Sure, there are cheaper seasonings. But there is always a difference. A sacrifice in freshness. A discernible lack of pop.
Never has the investment of a couple of dollars, the difference between the cheap stuff and the good stuff, been such a value. If you want friends to crave your chili and savor your slaw, turn to the leader. McCormick.
YOU ALWAYS HEAR ABOUT the “Deal Of The Century”. The one that got away. The other guy got it. You should have been here yesterday! One cold Sunday, we showed up late to a yard sale. Everything had been picked through. But in answer to our questions, SURPRISE! The owner pulls a dusty plastic guitar case from behind a bush. Inside was what looked like the guitars we played in the ’80s. Except that the foam lining had degraded into sticky sludge. A colossal mess!
Neither of us knew what it was worth. I offered the most we could walk away from, if the electronics were fried. What if the decomposed foam lining could not be removed from the grain of the wood?
Hours of gentle cleaning with acetone, mild soap and water, steel wool, abrasive cloth, toothpicks, and Q-tips returned the gleam to this vintage treasure. New strings vibrated forth a tone one associates with guitars costing five times the price.
An ash body again captivating one’s eye. A maple neck ready for the musician’s caress, its high-crowned 18% nickel-silver frets practically new! Humbucker pickups, with their very high output, again ready to cancel out noise and deliver forth the song of the operator. Indeed, a rescued gem. Now passed on to a young buck, about to start a Mid-West tour . . . . American Toolbox again helps to fulfill The Dream . . .
S. Donald Stookey 1915 – 2014
There does not exist within this great Republic of ours the kitchen absent of CorningWare. The most important invention to modern cooking, Stookey’s ballistic glass became the temperature-resistant material from which have been fashioned billions and billions of cooking, serving, and mixing articles.
Moving into new digs? A quick trip to the corner 5 & Dime will supply all the Pyrex your kitchen will need. And it has never been expensive. Just about as cheap as any glassware, but infinitely more durable!
Nestling bowls are my favorite. Whether creating pasta salad or reheating a Super Size Serving of chicken soup, Corning makes the item that works for both preparing and serving food. And drink! Here’s another favorite, which we wrote about a few months ago. A Pyrex® pitcher in the Eames tradition. Who knew glass could be both functional and stylish?
TUBING IN THE MISSISSIPPI from April to October, involvement in multiple competitive sports like softball and golf, and generally running around the beautiful countryside stirs up a passionate hunger in the local populace. And every Sunday the town heads to Hick’s for the all-you-can-eat ribs. But they always leave some room for cobbler.
I missed this event by a day, but did sample the meats, smoked over wild cherry. Being a purist, I eschew sauces on my meats, and go for the true taste of the smoked product. Missouri Hick’s does not disappoint!
And the cobbler? That may be the hidden story of this BBQ joint. Although the recipe was sealed behind loyal lips, I’d bet there’s a little lard rolled into the biscuit that you find in your bowl under a mound of fresh fruit, itself cooked with butter and sugar. A meal itself!
Gentlemen-rankers out on a spree, Damned from here to Eternity, God ha’ mercy on such as we, Baa! Yah! Bah! – Rudyard Kipling
There Is A Conspicuous Lack Of Gelatinous Goo Encasing My Spam
The can of Spam sat awaiting release into the world of gastronomic excellence. Waiting . . . and waiting . . . awaiting the pan . . . Two years passed before the urge to buy and the urge to fry. But when finally opened, it was, as expected, factory fresh. Ready to eat cold or hot. I like mine grilled, served between white bread.
What was different? The goo that used to slide out of the can with the Spam was absent. Maybe it is a money thing? Hormel realized that goo costs money? Spam will fry up perfectly fine without the extra fat? Unknown, Houston. Do not care enough to call the manufacturer? Maybe Hormel will comment on this blog entry . . . And our interest is ???
Reading the novel From Here To Eternity, I became impressed by Sergeant Maylon Stark’s order that all men be given a hot meal upon request at any hour. This meal would be fried Spam and toasted cheese on bread with hot coffee. A meal I’ve recreated a few times; it certainly does “hit the spot”.
Tell you what. Get the book. Buy a can of Spam (low salt, maybe?). Read. Eat. Experience what James Jones was feeling when, after WW II, he penned one of his most famous works.
HYDRATE! HYDRATE! HYDRATE! The mantra of physical fitness instructors, hikers, and survivalists. Nutritionists, doctors, nurses. But do Americans drink enough water? The CDC says, emphatically, “No! 43% of adults drink less than four cups of water a day.”
Didn’t we learn in school, between six ways to say “Maybe” in French and two days spent on subsets, that we should drink eight 12-ounce glasses of water a day? Has anyone studied a urine color chart to determine their level of hydration? Lately?
What better way to remind yourself to have a sip than to carry water with you! In your pack, car, truck, at your desk. A nice-looking, new, BPH-free water bottle, delivered no charge* from an American manufacturer is a great start! And when you fill up at home or at the YMCA, you’ll be saving plastic bottles from entering the rubbish stream!
Go to Nalgene’s website! Pick out two bottles and get free delivery! 100% satisfaction guaranteed!