How to Eat Those Veggies No Matter What

When your power’s out for who knows how long, you start to appreciate some of life’s simpler things. You realize that canning is civilization’s third-greatest invention, right behind 10-speed bicycles and grandma’s knitted sweaters. Artisanal, DIY types might have Ball jars full of home-grown preserves in their well-stocked pantries, but if you’re me you head directly to the canned-green-bean aisle at Key Food.

How to recognize the can opener on your Swiss Army KnifeOpening a can without power is no problem to me these days. When my electric can opener shot craps—it was during the Great New York City Blackout of ’02 or ’03 when it suddenly stopped working—I trashed it and devolved to the manual one with the butterfly handles that turn the circular blade that presses against the gear that presses against the can’s lip.

Then I discovered one on my Swiss Army Knife. Within a few minutes and a couple of failed tries that resulted in minor wounds, I figured out how it works—and simultaneously realized that this is undoubtedly how people did it in the old, old early days of American canning. And now I’m passing on that wisdom to you.

Better pay attention: I hear a nor’easter is headed our way on Thursday.   [Read more…]

Understanding the Hollywood Smoke

I WAS REMINDED by John J. Kochevar’s comments in An Artisanal Author Confronts His Pencils of how many traditional skills are fast disappearing these days. Here is another.

Montgomery Clift shows the classic cowboy roll on the set of Red River.

How to Roll a – uh, a Cigarette like a Pro.

The intent here is not to skirt Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to ban public smoking in New York City , but rather to address the high cost of a pack of cigarettes as well as record some ways of working with one’s hands once glamorized by Hollywood. 

Rolling  a smoke is a two-handed operation (see inset). Remove the cigarette rolling paper from its pack. Gently spread the paper horizontally,  and delicately grasp it between the tips of both index fingers and thumbs, roughly at the paper’s midpoint. The gummy strip should run along the top facing you. Carefully—yet  confidently—roll the paper back and forth three or four times with your thumbs and index fingers until it forms a U, with the gummy strip higher than the un-gummy side.

Gently now, gently, very gently, grasp the paper by one end. Remove one hand and take a pinch of tobacco. The tobacco should not be lumpy (and chewing tobacco should not be substituted. Nor should hamster food or your grandmother’s loose black tea—you will be discovered and publicly humiliated). [Read more…]

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