The Joy of Home Winemaking

Of Juice and Thrips and Ceiling Wax
April 2000

Contact, April 10

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Monday, April 10

Browsing though my copy of Rosemary Brissenden's "South East Asian Food" (Penguin, 1971, written when SE Asian food was still an oddity), I was looking for a recipe for a friend and happened upon some very interesting phrases out of context. It is my humble opinion that Rosemary did a fine job of writing the book, and many dishes that are popular today can be found in her book, if you look at the ingredients rather than what the restaurants currently call them.

So anyway, I was looking for Coconut Chicken Lime soup and found the following phrases, taken totally out of context, and not reflecting on Ms Brissenden's cookery, which I have found first rate, nor lessening my esteem for her:

"Lotus stem is a very attractive vegetable for this dish. When prepared it looks rather like a transverse section of the bullet-chamber of a six-shooter."

"If you have the patience, tie each lily-bud into knots."

"The peas should remain wet, but should not rest in water or they will become brown and smelly (should this happen you will have to start again)."

"It is made from prawns or shrimps, salted, dried, pounded and rotted, then formed into cakes."

"With these words of encouragement, I leave the cook to dabble."

And then there is the "Kidney Flower" recipe, the first three ingredients of which are cauliflower, kidney, and shrimp.

I like her style. And over the years she has rarely steered me wrong. Still haven't tried the "Kidney Flower" recipe (I'm working up to it), but Denny has volunteered for the coconut hamburger recipe.

Spent about an hour and half this weekend constructing a new pedestal for the cat. Nelly is 16 years old, deaf, and getting a bit arthritic. She loves to sleep on the radiators in the winter, which we cover with old towels to coddle her creaky bones.

Gone are the days of the 7-foot leaps to the top of the air conditioners in the summer ("Oh, help, I'm stuck on top of the air conditioner and can't get down! Meow meow, o save me!"), but she can still make four feet or so if she gets a running leap at it. But one radiator does not allow for a running jump, and the intermediate pedestal was too tall. So I made her a new, short pedestal. It involved, of course, a trip to the hardware store for the wood-grained contact paper, lots of strapping tape, and an old 'live plants' cardboard container. Plus that precision instrument, the serrated bread knife.

I got the lid figured out and taped it securely on, only to discover that I had left out the bricks (for stability) and had to take a utility knife to it and destroy my brilliant deployment of tape. Got at least two sides of the contact paper smooth (the sign of a fine crafts person, to paraphrase Red Green) and the lid secure. It doesn't look bad, wedged between the radiator and the bookcase.

Of course, she has yet to use it while I am looking. But at least she doesn't have to take that leap from the back of the couch across to the radiator anymore, bashing her head against the wall and flailing for a grip on the towel. IF she chooses. I don't expect gratitude. She's a cat, after all, the Queen of the Universe, and possibly Queen Victoria in a former life. Loves to be waited on.

I doubt that Queen Victoria would have sat on old towels on top of a radiator and drunk water out of an old Farberware pot (with no handle) with such relish, but Nelly does, and that's enough.

It might be April Tenth, but it's snowing outside. Not sticking. I watched the snowflakes fall through the light from the streetlight on the corner this evening, perhaps (please ghod) for the last time this season. Ah, romance in Minnesota.



Of Juice and Thrips and Ceiling Wax
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Copyright 2000 by Terry A. Garey.