Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fear of Party Food

It's party season, and I am afraid. Everyone brings dishes to share, and no one wants to provide anything that might be seen as boring, comforting, or safe.

I am afraid of dishes embellished with pomegranate and cranberry. Yes indeed, those are lovely reds, but I don't want to see them touching my green beans, asparagus, artichoke, or romaine lettuce.

I'm afraid of glazed hams adorned with slices of pineapple and maraschino cherry. I'm horrified by miniature meatballs resting in a light brown sweet sauce accented by currants and raisins. I'm appalled by fried tofu, which bears a startling resemblance to hockey pucks and may actually taste like hockey pucks. I haven't been tempted to try them.

I think breaded fish fingers and chicken nuggets might possibly be safe to eat if one person  prepared them from beginning to end, but most likely these items have come from the test kitchens of major corporations and contain a smorgasbord of ingredients that, if properly combined, could   make plastic, or a highly toxic poison.

I'm afraid of Spam and Cheez Whiz on crackers, a fad which has mercifully died or is on its last legs. Cheez Whiz is now a homemade stain remover for greasy stains. If that doesn't make you think twice before using it as a condiment, nothing will. 

Raw veggies come in a variety of colors and can be dipped into a variety of things (if you spoon those things onto your plate, that is, because sharing dips at a party is a good way to spread germs) but artistic arrangements --nay, sculptures-- are off putting. Who wants to be the first to remove Abe Lincoln's broccoli eyebrow, or George Washington's cauliflower hair?

Salami, Cheese and Pickle Kabobs
Salami, pickle and cheese kebabs are suggested party food at Betty Crocker holiday

Spinach and artichoke dip from the freezer section, with a salt content  marginally lower than that for the Dead Sea, was the fad a few years ago. May it never reach true food status, as salsa , hummus, and pesto have.

People get very coy about the ingredients of their showpiece dishes. Perhaps an ingredients checklist could go with each dish: This contains No Nuts, shellfish, HCFC, GMA,  polysorbate 60, red dye. Then again, perhaps someone will devise a dish that will contain all those things , and those who eat it will be issued cards that say "Proceed immediately to the emergency room."

Trendy, iconic, and amazing are words I don't really want to see again, but iconic foods can't be all that bad. Chocolate chip cookies, fudge, brownies, are iconic foods. Sorta like Mom's apple pie. My own mother abandoned pie-making when I was 12, claiming that I could make better piecrust than she could.(Blatant excuse!) But pie is messy to serve. Tarts would be nice.

I'm not precisely sure what makes up today's marshmallows, but extracts from mallow plants are not among the ingredients. Still, I do not want to see marshmallows adorning  raw salads, baked vegetables, cakes or pies. The proper way to use a marshmallow is to partially char it, and eat it nude and unadorned, preferably at a camp fire.  

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Simple Drapery Installation

No job is ever simple. I had thought to combine pictures of an electric screw driver, a stepstool and a traverse rod, separated by plus signs, ending in an equals mark followed by the word "Frustration." I can't make Blogger do this to my satisfaction.

When I found cotton damask shower curtains in just the perfect color, I bought four to transform into draperies for my bedroom. I lost them somewhere in the house. After I had lived with bare window shades for 3 years, they resurfaced. I made draperies for one window and hung them before noticing that it was not going to be that easy for Window #2, where the window shade hardware blocked the spot where the traverse rod bracket needed to be. 

Life would be so much simpler if the screwdriver that fit the screw when I was on the floor still fit it when I was on a step stool  trying to screw it into a window frame. Or if the rod holders had not been designed to be installed only by long skinny screwdrivers wielded by men, or anyone with upper body strength. I have a Black & Decker battery screwdriver. It works very well when I am on the floor, but the minute I have to hold it above my head, all bets are off.

I should have known, when the brackets for the window shade allowed themselves to be pried out with a screwdriver, that it was deceptively easy. I should have realized right then that getting the traverse rod brackets back up would require multiple trips up and down a ladder, multiple screw drivers, and a wide range of screw sizes. No, following the instructions at a home ideas site was harder than it looked. I should have realized that this was not going to be a simple 10-minute operation, after which I could confront the next "simple" household maintenance chore. It became a 30-minute exercise in endurance followed by panting, and a crying need to do something frivolous for at least 30 minutes.

Life would be so much simpler if the only traverse rods that fit that window were anything but quirky custom things made in the 70's. There are too few hook hangers, AKA traverse rod carriers. Finding hook hangers to slip in is Mission Impossible, even though the online info says Ace carries them at nearly the price of an entire new rod. Stealing hook hangers from newer traverse rods is somewhat difficult because the hook hangers tend to want to snap as you pry them from the rod. And, of course, they are a good half inch shorter than the existing hook hangers.

Oh, it's just a simple matter of counting the existing hangers and spacing my top pleats to match them. I know the formula, but I cannot make (2 +1+2+5) x7  equal (2+1+2+5) x6. Especially when the correct number of hangers should be 9 per side. I am mightily tempted to buy large paper clips and large safety pins and contrive. As long as it can be done on the floor.