Archive for the 'food' Category

on small victories

a.k.a. how you know you haven’t really gotten settled yet…

Imagine my chagrin, upon putting the onions and meat on to brown and turning to the cans of tomatoes and beans that were awaiting chilification, to discover that, quite inexplicably, my kitchen lacks a can opener. Despite being still occupied by its resident for the past year who, quite demonstrably, has a number of cans in the cupboard.* Odd.

In any case…I ruled out the idea of an excursion to fetch a can opener, and was just getting ready to ask the neighbors to borrow one when I discovered my recently purchased Swiss Army knife, with “4. can opener” emblazoned on the back of the still-unopened packaging. I spent a couple minutes trying to work out the bootstrapping problem of how to open the package of a knife packaged in packaging requiring a knife to open it, then found the scissors and was soon on my way to culinary bliss….where I remain.

p.s. And now for something completely different…Check out the nifty Obama T-shirts by the Odd Bird Collective.

*Of course, perhaps this is why the cans are still in the cupboard.

on the Care and Feeding of Household Appliances

I am learning not to panic too much when my housemates erupt in impassioned cries of “It’s not working!”

There was the furnace. It didn’t run for half a day, a few weeks back, which was annoying when I got home to be greeted by 58 degrees. But the fix was as simple as replacing the batteries in the thermostat.

And this evening, we discovered that the refrigerator had gone on the fritz. We had to throw out the milk and ice cream and some other assorted perishables, and cram the remainders into fridge #2 (which fortunately exists and is large). However, upon my inspection, I unplugged the fridge, re-plugged it, twiddled a few knobs inside, and lo and behold, it roared back to life. It’s very satisfying when a non-sentient being like a refrigerator responds so readily to the magic touch, if I do say so myself.

Incidentally, it seems just a bit incongruous that we have one device designed to keep things warm, and another designed to keep things cool, operating in the same domain. Why can’t we just store things outside in the winter?

on Being a Mennonite

Today I traveled to eastern Washington for the Mennonite Country Auction and Relief Sale. For those of you who don’t know, a relief sale is a type of event held around the country to raise funds to support the relief and development work of Mennonite Central Committee around the world. Mennonites gather from all around to gorge themselves and spend lots of money on quilts and antiques, all in the name of giving in the name of Christ to those in need. (I’ve heard that part of being Mennonite is living simply and reducing consumption…except on relief sale day!) Definitely it is a must-see ritual of the Mennonite subculture, and perhaps the closest thing that there is to a real Mennonite sacrament.

a $625 loaf of bread The auction opened with a loaf of bread. (sold for $625)

happy consumers of kraut runzas, groundnut stew, and homemade pies

stirring apple butter making apple butter (for sale in freshly sealed jars, still warm)

If you have been a Mennonite for any length of time, you are familiar with the “Mennonite game.” This is the strange (and unfortunately sometimes exclusive) ritual by which Mennonites interrogate new acquaintances to discover how they fit into the Mennonite web and (more importantly, if she is cute) check to see whether the two of you are cousins.

Some of the coincidental connections I discovered today:

  • the fellow I talked to at the MCC booth is a third cousin of the parents of one of my MVS housemates (a fact ascertained because I noticed that he shares her last name and hometown, and inquired)
  • a couple of decades ago, my MVS host parents helped start a church in Texas with the parents of a college friend who I attended a church small group with in Goshen

No need to freak out, says the Mennonite. It’s a small (Mennonite) world, and this is actually totally normal. So if I meet you and start asking strangely personal questions, don’t be taken aback. I’m just used to finding connections when I meet someone, and am trying to find a point of commonality.

It’s fall!

on My Almost-Twin

Andrew of ONE/Northwest

For those of you reading this who don’t work for ONE/Northwest, I’d like to introduce you to Andrew, my new colleague and office-mate and one of the two people I work with most closely on Plone-based projects. Sorry, Jon B., but Andrew gets all the attention here because, as we quickly discovered, we are basically the same person.

Cases in point:

  • Andrew and I both grew up in Goshen, IN and attended the same middle school and high school.
  • We both got our undergrad degrees at Goshen College, where we each participated in the chamber choir and the environmental club.
  • We both were raised in the Mennonite Church, and attended Assembly Mennonite Church in Goshen for at least a brief period.
  • We both entered the Mennonite Voluntary Service just after graduating from college and took placements in Seattle at ONE/Northwest…
  • …and now we share an office and (largely) a job description.

Pretty crazy, huh? Of course there are distinguishing factors between us. (For instance, Andrew is married. I was disappointed to learn that his wife Sarah does not have a younger sister, which would have helped keep the trend on track.) But it was pretty freaky to learn that apparently we also both enjoy baking the same bread recipe (oatmeal bread from More With Less). Speaking of which, I just took two loaves of that out of the oven, and had better go see if it has cooled down.

on Unconventional Units of Measurement

Did you know that the sandwich is a unit of time? I have just defined it to be the amount of time it takes for a normal human (e.g. me) to consume a sandwich on hefty European-style bread.

The sandwich-walk is then a unit of distance. (The walk is a unit of speed; that is, distance over time. Multiply that times a unit of time, such as the sandwich, and you are left with just distance.)

Example: The distance between the Red Post world headquarters and the Goshen Public Library is exactly one sandwich-walk.

For more fun with units, see Wikipedia’s list of humorous units of measurement.

on Pithy Proverbs

From my Good Earth tea bag:

“A drowning man is not troubled by rain.” — Persian proverb


  1. The person who came up with this obviously was not a student. The little assignments are still bugging me despite my efforts toward a 15-page research paper, thank you very much.
  2. I should probably not keep this piece of wisdom in mind when I move to Seattle in the fall. (In related news, my uncle tells me that Seattle is the suicide capital of the world.)

on a Few of My Favorite Things

Today involved a three-hour stint at the massive Powell’s bookstore in Portland, and two (count them, two) Thai meals. Making it perhaps one of the higher points in my life. 🙂

I emerged from Powell’s with a three-volume compendium of classic physics articles, which I will need to figure out how to transport back to Indiana–but this result is better than what might have happened had I been backed by greater financial resources. (I have always, by the way, considered it one of life’s greater injustices that Goshen lacks a place like this where I can go to just sit and read. (What’s that? Okay fine, yes there is the library, but it’s just not the same. (Yeah nested parentheses! My trademark!))

Thai meal #1 was lunch at a little corner place a block or so from Powell’s. I joined a biggish group of GC men with a couple former GCers thrown in for good measure, and had a nice green curry. Meal #2 was, believe it or not, the supper provided for us by Portland Mennonite Church. Most churches do something quotidian like spaghetti but I admire both the effort put forth here as well as the sheer volume (when 52+ men have eaten and the tubs of food still look full, you know you have a lot of food…and perhaps a sign ? la loaves-and-fishes.)

Right now I am sitting in a several-thousand square foot house in Hubbard, Oregon watching my fellow hostlings play Halo on the giant projector screen. Very conscientious Mennonites, these hosts. 🙂 But gracious. Oh, there is an official GC Men’s Chorus West Coast Tour blog if you want to follow along.

This post is more diary and less musing than I have done so far. I’m not quite sure what I think about that, though I think I’m aiming for a mix of both. After all, there’s no reason the ways I spend my time shouldn’t be one of the “assorted subjects.” I still haven’t ventured much into the introspection realm, although I may try to mix in a bit of that as well.

on “Ethnic Food”

Is there anything more quintessentially American than a Chinese buffet?