Kitchen Lessons #1

Well, it’s saturday and I’ve been once again attempting to make peach preserves.  I again say that this is much harder than the directions make it sound and though I was hoping to get through this attempt without any trips to the grocery store due to screw-ups, I will more than likely need to go and get more pectin.  I’ve toyed with a couple of different methods for sealing the mason jars and was pleasantly surprised with the one where it tells me to turn the filled and closed jars of jam upside down and let them cool- this actually worked 😀  I then proceeded to use the boil the filled and sealed jars in a pot filled with boiling water for at least ten minutes version and this did seem to be a bit harder.  I have gotten them all sealed, but will more than likely have to open up and attempt to fix the second batch of peach preserve with the afore-mentioned extra pectin (I used a few too many peaches and probably not enough sugar).

I have always had a great amount of respect for doing things the “old-fasioned” way, but there are moments like these were the new fangled inventions like ready make thickening agents of the fruit variety are just the bees knees.  That being said, the biggest accomplishment of this experiment was that I managed to keep my apartment sized galley kitchen relatively clean during the entire messy process using rigged items to substitute for the “bottling kit” items that would have cost me an additional $50.

So, the main lessons to learn out of this are:

1. There’s a reason why strawberry preserves are typically done WITH some sort of pectin.  They are apparently a low pectin fruit and need the extra help to thicken, but without it the preserves make a wonderful (though runny) syrup.

2. If the recipe tells you 4 cups of the fruit- use 4 cups of the fruit.  I have issues with measuring when it is an item that doesn’t strike me as something that would throw off the chemistry and I am often proven wrong.  Not sure why I continue to hold this belief.

3. If the recipe calls for 7 1/2 cups of sugar and you realize that you might have put in too much fruit- go to the store to get more sugar instead of crossing your fingers and trying to reduce the preserves before adding the pectin.  I promise you that you will STILL have to go to the grocery store again anyway unless you are happy with the afore-mentioned runny syrup state of things.

4. BOILING HOT GLASS HURTS!!  I’ve got about 4 fewer layers of skin on my fingers because I felt like being such a cheap skate and not getting those specialized items used for the bottling of things.

I will continue my journey with preserves and the bottling of things because I fully intend to use some really great combinations of fruit in my future endeavors.  This was a good first attempt, but I hate those moments when you know that there will be three or four more attempts before you can say that you’ve got the process down pat.

Happy Saturday and for all of you parents sending the kids back to school of Monday- Congratulations!

Children with Mentally Ill or Addicted Parents

So, it’s Friday again.  As I was reading through all of my news feeds I feel like I’m having deja vu.  They are talking about war in the middle east a la Iraq and the combat troops finally going home, they are discussing doping in baseball and Roger Clemens’ possible sentence for lying to congress, they are discussing the oil spill and how BP is probably going to get off easy by settling out of court, and in entertainment I stumbled upon a gem about Courtney Love and Francis Bean.

Apparently, now that Francis Bean is 18 (OMG- I remember when this kid was born and now officially feel old) she can exert more control over her life and her interactions with her mother.  I truly feel for this kid.  Not only have you had to live your entire life wondering why your father left you and dealing with a mother who obviously suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder if not Bi-Polar Disorder, but I’m sure that Kurt’s mother and sister haven’t been peaches by telling this girl what a nut bag her mother is- so not classy.

We’ve all watched this drama unfold in the headlines over the past decade.  At what point will one of these people stop and realize that they are not really helping anyone?  The sad part is that this is a tragically common story for all of us normal people in the world.  Every day there are families being ripped apart by mental illness and addiction and it is an insidious demon to face, especially when there are children involved.  Mental Disease and addiction are by their very nature selfish diseases.  The person suffering these does not reason or feel like a “normal” person, yet we expect them to be just like the rest of the world.

I’ve watched the families of my friends and relatives suffer from both of these afflictions and the one constant is that there’s a whole lot of hurting happening.  The children feel lost and abandoned and insecure, the adults feel like they’ve got no control over the situation and also that they are failing their children.  Each side of the debate is so wrapped up in their own feelings and traumas, understandably so, that they forget the good old adage it takes two to tango.  If people could lose their minds in a vacuum, then I think the world would be fine, but since you can’t, they take those who are trying to help them down right along with them.  This isn’t always the case, in fact, some of the people whom I love the most in the world have stood by their families for better or worse and dragged them out of the pit of their despair whether they liked it or not.

Seeking professional help is absolutely a great option.  I myself have had a few sessions with a councilor, thought I have to admit I wouldn’t pay someone for their services- Most of my issues can’t be helped.  For me it’s a very big question of perspective and purpose- I could absolutely be in a MUCH worse place than I am now and I understand that very well.  But, back to what started this rant- Courtney Love’s Tweets to her daughter on their 18th birthday.  How dare you do that to this girl so publicly!  I would equate this to the public airing of the voicemail that Alec Baldwin left for his daughter.  What gives you the right to lash out at your child like a hurt little puppy?  I fully believe that Courtney Love love’s her daughter and was genuinely shocked and hurt by the restraining order, the loss of custody, and the loss of the money, but having been a hurt and confused teenager- I can promise you that the two of them have both said some pretty mean things to each other.  The reason why I’m cutting Francis a break, well, SHE’S A CHILD!  Kids say mean things and it’s up to their parents and the adults around them to make sure that they understand why their behavior is unacceptable.

The other tragedy in all of this is that this kid is the product of her parents, both of whom are/were visibly unstable.  I didn’t mourn when Kurt died, I did feel a great sense of loss, but I didn’t know the man.  Now his daughter has probably spent the last 18 years wondering if she was going to be like him or like her and neither of these options are very pretty from that perspective.  There is a good chance that she will be able to get out of the spot light- go to college- change her name- have a real life, but just like all of the other children out there who have addicted/ill parents, there will always be that question mark of whether she will get sick as well.

I think that I’m done ranting now.  I wish Francis Bean Cobain the best of luck.  I really hope that Courtney Love seriously seeks therapy and withdraws from the spotlight.  I truly hope that this kid can drop all of the money-grubbing d-bags currently in her life and find some peace.

Please take a look at the like below for a definition of Borderline Personality Disorder from the National Association for Mental Illness’ web site.

Me Thinks You Need to Fire Your Marketing Department

WTF?!  Do you think that this PR firm hired the son/daughter/niece/nephew of the Quiznos CEO in order to get the multi-million dollar contract and was then forced to let the idiot come up with “quirky” commercials that feel more like they should be aired on public access stations?  The Sponge Monkeys were freaky enough, but now they’ve got creepy little kittens with that horrible voice.  I tell you now quiznos- I will not go anywhere near your outlets with freakish little rodents like that haunting my nightmares….. 

Is This insensitive??

I have to say that I don’t understand the big deal about the ground zero mosque.  Reading this article from Lexington that was published in the Economist- yes, geek flag flying again (I LOVE THE ECONOMIST!!!)- I found myself agreeing with the statement that you would only truly be offended by the mosque if you blame Islam and not terrorists for 9/11.  I had a brainstorm the other day while having a think on this very topic and came up with an analogy- to blame Islam for the actions of terrorists is like blaming Christians for Slavery.  Does this mean that it’s insensitive to build a church in a site where the KKK used to lynch slaves?  That’s a little absurd.

If the group that is putting forth the initiative to build a community center in what sounds like a neighborhood with too many strip clubs- I can’t say that I have an issue with it.  The only thing that I would want to make sure of is that there is an understanding on the developers part that an extra amount of transparencies for their fund-raising is needed and that is being sensitive to the tragedy perpetrated by terrorists.

World In Focus Photo Contest

Happy Monday One and All! 

My very talented brother has FINALLY taken the initiative to enter one of his photographs into an amateur contest and I’m really psyched!  And yes- I did just use the word psyched like it’s 1992.  Here we have a great shot that he took last time he was in Spain on a trip that I was totally jealous of might I add.  Please take a moment to go to the web site and vote for him 😀 

Entry #1 


Entry #2