Starting Off the New Year… 8 Days Late

Decreasing procrastination is a lost and dusty cause on my list of New Year’s Resolutions, which reveals itself below as an amalgamation of annually recycled vows and a few new ones to freshen things up. I don’t feel bad about being eight days late for a number of reasons, a notable one being that on a recent work trip I survived America’s own autobahn.  Have you ever traversed the roads outside of downtown Detroit?  Along with a rich automobile culture, the residents seem to possess the innate knowledge of how to cross five lanes of traffic cruising at an easy 90 MPH to reach a left lane exit within 4.67 seconds. I thought I’d been exposed to a lot in New York drivers (aggressive, offensive, but reasonable), Boston drivers (aggressive, offensive, reverses down one-ways, entirely unreasonable), and suburbs of Philadelphia drivers (distracted, SUVs, meandering). Everywhere else I’ve been didn’t really seem to have its own breed. But Detroit, you proved me wrong.  Not only can your residents drive, but they can drive well at ridiculously high speeds.  And they aren’t all on cell phones. So hats off, and thanks for your patience when my rented Chevy Aveo could’t push past 60 without shaking.

For the resolutions, the main impetus behind posting them is to be held accountable. Usually they end up scribbled on the back page of an old notebook which I come across in late September of that year, sheepish but unsurprised 1.5 to 2 of them saw accomplishment. But now here they are, in electronic black and white. The pursuit of this year’s resolutions will hopefully spur additional posts that at least one of two of my sisters (are you still reading? Please still be reading!) will find interesting.

2012 New Years Resolutions
More greens, grains, fish oil, yoga (or at least consistent stretching)
Find a charity we really like and learn about/support it
Get through the documentary list on Netflix
Take advantage of the gym’s group classes and also learn how to do a proper squat
Re-grout the tub (this has been needed for so long it definitely makes the list)
Make a suitable sourdough starter
Make sauerkraut
Make and age some cheese
More live music (these gentlemen look promising)
Buy a lemon tree and bring it to fruition (haHA!)
Plan our trip to Italy
Get clothing tailored
Write letters instead of e-mails where applicable
Other stuff
Other stuff
Other stuff
…Decrease procrastination

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The Making of a Mother

Sourdough mother, that is.  Since I’ve yet to unearth the kindly, rosy-cheeked soul who will give me some of the sourdough mother that has been passed down in their family for years (I know you’re out there. I know you probably do awesome things like can tomatoes and make jam and use real lard and butter in your pie crust, and once I meet you you will be my idol), I picked up a packet of Goldrush “Old Fashioned San Francisco Style Sourdough Starter,” mixed it with flour and warm water, and left it to sit in a warm corner of my kitchen until four hours pass and it’s time for the initial “feeding.”

This isn’t my first attempt at creating a mother.  The last time I tried it with flour and water and poorly-executed directions from a Julia Child rerun. It languished on the counter a few days, and didn’t do anything it was supposed to do except make cleaning the crusty little bowl a total pain in the rear.

I’m determined to have real results this time, but became a little skeptical when I saw that the Goldrush starter is actually produced by a company in San Jose, which is about 50 miles from San Francisco. “Close but no cigar,” my dad would say. And if this little experiment produces zero bubbles and no yeasty aromas, I’ll get to hear “tough beans, hard cheese.” So fingers crossed.  And to my dear, dear friend out there with a real, years-old, time-proofed starter: I’ll find you someday.  Someday.

“Crossing That Dirty Water” Saturdays

With all the food and coffee gems in the South End, we rarely make the trip across the Charles to Cambridge, Somerville, Watertown, etc.  There just usually isn’t a contest between walking 5 minutes to Toro or Myers & Chang, or stoking the embers a slow, simmering rage sitting on Mass Ave at red light after red light in the car or bus. But as of late, we’ve been forcing ourselves to explore the environs across the river because when you think about it, three miles isn’t a far distance to travel to reach an area jam-packed with amazing destinations. Thus began the advent of “Crossing That Dirty Water” Saturdays.  Last Saturday saw visits to:

  • HiRise: Probably new to no one in Boston but if you just moved here, please boost it to the top of your list. The prices are high but reflect the quality of the sandwiches, coffees, baked goods, and jams. If you’re put off by straight-to-dour-faced staff, this probably isn’t the place for you, but I don’t mind if my coffee and sandwich aren’t served with a smile when they are this good.
  • Fresh Pond loop:  Took a walk but soon found the 8-foot tall chain link fence that blocked the spectacular view extremely depressing.  The golf course may require a second visit though – $23 for 9 holes on a short, walking course.
  • Porter Square shops:  Ever wonder where you get industrial-sized squirt bottles, deep-fryer baskets, 173 gallon stock pots, teeny tart and madeleine pans? China Fair.  They’ve also got lots of random kitchen tools and pieces, china (that’s a given), party wares, and a basement section full of 1980s era leftovers (i.e. a teeny, flimsy warmer with a small plastic bin for heating up frozen foods, like boxes of peas and corn). This place is appealing to anyone with an inclination for cooking, but go with a friend so you have someone to yell across the store to come look at this!

Today we made it to HiRise again and dodged big, fat raindrops to visit Christina’s Spice & Specialty Foods and Ice Cream place next door. It was verging on the impossible, but we managed to walk out with only a handful of things: Ceylon cinnamon sticks, Goldrush Old fashioned San Francisco Style Sourdough Style (has anyone tried this? I’ve always wanted to get some starter from a handkerchiefed friend with a 50-year old mother batch, but alas, no such friends have come forth), whole green cardamom pods, concentrated pomegranate juice, and beluga lentils.

At the ice cream shop, the Mr. opted for black raspberry with a topping of chocolate chunks and walnuts which he promptly inhaled. I got a scoop of butter almond (awesome) and a scoop of fresh mint (minty as promised but with a, dare I say, underlying flavor almost reminiscent of another fragrant green plant some people might be familiar with). The trip back to the South End was full of hydroplaning adventures, but we made it intact with a bunch of perishable dairy goods from the grocery store which are just the thing to buy in the wake of a hurricane that may kill the power.  If that’s the case, please come over and join our milk, eggs, and cheese party.