Everything But The Kitchen Sink

Thistleup Susan Sarah here….

Sometimes the Wenches take breaks from long days spent slaving over keyboards so that we can produce masterpieces of fiction (well…at least good stories!) — to discuss Wenchie blog business. Sometimes we wander way off topic (being hopelessly verbal sorts who are madly addicted to writing). Here’s what happened this week when Mary Jo complimented Loretta on her new, long-anticipated refrigerator….Give a bunch of writers a topic, any topic, even refrigeration, and they have lots to say…

Mary Jo: Loretta, I’m particularly glad to hear that the new fridge is cool. <G> Refrigerator_1

Loretta: The last few weeks, trying to function with one of those office refrigerators, gave me a whole new appreciation of what life was like in a 19th C kitchen. I prefer, however, not to have my research quite so hands-on.
Loretta, glad to have fresh fruits and vegetables again.

Jo: But, back in the dark ages <G> we had fresh fruit and vegetables, meat that didn’t rot, milk etc. We had a larder with marble shelves. Mind you, it did get dodgy in summer, but marble helps. My mother shopped most days (nice bit of relaxation) and milk was delivered every day. Eggs, too, if you wanted. The American beliefs about what needs to be kept in a fridge still perplex me. Pickles? Isn’t the point of pickles to preserve things?
But I’m glad you have your fridge, Loretta. Our microwave died last week. Instant panic.

Mary Jo: But it’s cool in England! And English houses. When I lived in Oxford, I very quickly learned why the English found something the size of an office mini-fridge to be entirely adequate–because food doesn’t spoil quickly when the kitchen temperature is somewhere in the 60s. <g> There were a lot more things that could be left out, like cheese. Since Americans tend to keep their homes warmer, and in the summer it can be a LOT hotter, everything gets tossed in the fridge. (I remember all the English who referred to American houses as "boiling hot." It was always that phrase. <G>)
mjp, who can live easily without her microwave, but who totally freaks when she can’t get online

Sherrie: I refrigerate everything. If I don’t, it spoils before I can finish it. (the joy of a one-person household) I also date things when I open them because I forget how long it’s been opened–salad dressing, bread, lunchmeat, jelly, mayo …
Sherrie, incorrigibly organized, and who absolutely will NOT smell something to see if it’s spoiled

Loretta: I recently learned at least one reason for American fridge peculiarities. It appears that our eggs are washed in some way that makes them highly vulnerable to bacteria. This is why we have to refrigerate them, and Europeans (so I understand) do not. Don’t know the answer re pickles. Some jars tell you to refrigerate after opening, and some don’t. If I had to go grocery shopping every day, I’d shoot myself. I do remember my grandmother’s larder–and we have what apparently was once a cold storage room in the basement–but I wouldn’t feel confident about either place during summer. Even in New England it gets quite hot–and seems to be getting hotter.

The microwave I could manage without. Inconvenient not to have it, but it’s not like not having a proper refrigerator.  Only two of us, both slightly OCD, and since we buy a lot of organic foods, it’s either keep it in the fridge or grow science experiments.

Sherrie: Guffaw! Busted. Yes, Loretta, I’m probably "slightly OCD" too, especially about food. I have an extremely well developed sense of taste and smell (I should have been a truffle pig), and I cannot tolerate smelling something to see if it’s spoiled. "If in doubt, throw it out." Which is why I date my food once opened, because I hate waste and I can never remember when it was opened. Sherrie

Susan Sarah: Seems like pickles just taste better cold, that might be the reason to refrigerate them. Wish I could get a new fridge. We have a side-by-side, and I really dislike it now. Not enough room for big stuff in the freezer, not wide enough for the innumerable pizza boxes, frozen or delivery leftover, generated by teenage and college age boys. A few years ago we put a basic fridge in the garage to catch the overflow. It accommodates pizza boxes, cases of juice and gatorade, and frozen meals that get microwaved in the middle of the night. A lot of convenience food disappears around here between midnight and dawn. <g>
Right now we have five jars of pickles in the fridge. Two of the guys are pickle-holics. 

Loretta: We wound up getting the old-fashioned kind: freezer on top. We did this not because of having male eating machines (I have nephews, so I know) but because Consumer Reports said this type had the lowest repair rate. Also, the new fridges have much higher energy ratings–especially the top freezer kind. This one uses a fraction of the electricity of our older, much smaller one. Compensates for having to bend over to get things–or we can call it exercise. We even got a rebate for buying an Energy Star appliance! So if you need an excuse to replace the fridge…

Mary Jo: I didn’t like my built-in side by side but ended up getting another when I redid my kitchen because the location for the fridge backed up to the stairs to the basement so there wasn’t the depth for a standard fridge. But–the new built-in side by side is six inches wider, which makes it possible to get more stuff in the freezer (including pizza boxes, and I don’t have to rearrange the pickle jars whenever I put in a pot of soup. <g> Not as energy efficent as Loretta’s, but not bad, and a high reliability rating. (No getting cold water through the door–Consumer Reports says they’re trouble prone.)
I think this proves that wenches take a serious interest in food and its storage, possibly a side effect of being home all day. <G> Fruitbowl_1

Edith: My freezer contains true weapons of mass destruction. If Susie didn’t come along and fling everything out when it was out of date, I’d have to celebrate birthdays for my frozen turkeys- (free last year because I was a loyal customer at the supermarket! But not my brand) my ice creams (no longer ice-creams but something gelatinous and sweet) and my edamane, which never gets thrown out because I use the packages as ice-packs when I strain or sprain something. If we unleashed this stuff to the general populace, the FBI would be after me.
Edith, still waiting for that grandkid!

Pat: I have a love/hate relationship with refrigerators, as with all electronics, unfortunately. I like lots of room in the fridge because I love leftovers and I tend to stock up the freezer in sales. (I only go to the store once a week, and then, only kicking and screaming.) I lived with a broken-down twelve-year old side-by-side, my very first side-by-side, that a previous owner had left in his broken down kitchen. We remodeled the kitchen, but the appliance store wanted a small fortune for the perfect fridge to fit in that place. I refuse to submit to robbery on general principal, so I lived with that crappy old machine in my brand new kitchen for years. When we moved this last year, I insisted on a brand new fridge to my specification. But the one I really really wanted cost three times as much as one that held the same amount in the usual side-by-side format. So I caved and got another side-by-side, except this one has a big bump at the bottom to hold big platters. We have an upright freezer in the garage, so I need fridge space more. So we now have a fridge that spits ice across the floor and requires a glass with 10" circumference to work the ice water without it running straight past the glass and onto the floor. Did I mention I have a love-hate relationship with appliances?

Jo: When my mother bought her vegetables at the open-air market, they came with dirt still on them, and I seem to remember that helps them stay fresh. Washing them hastens the degeneration. Mind you, I love the aerated vegetable bags. They do help the veggies stay fresh. We mostly walk down to the "village" — some shops about a mile away — to buy groceries a few times a week. It’s pleasant exercise, and with just the two of us, we don’t need much at a time. When the kids were young and I didn’t have the car I did a big shop once a week in the evening and bought in bulk. But I never keep fruit in the fridge unless I’ve bought a huge amount for some reason. I don’t like cold fruit. Don’t much like pickles at all except English style pickled onions, but definitely not cold!

I can remember back in th ’60s when milk machines arrived in England — dispensing small containers of cold milk. Such a notion. And very popular as most people don’t like to drink milk close to room temperature. So a taste for very cold milk started. Plenty of people didn’t have a fridge at that point, not even the itsy bitsy ones.

Mary Jo: I like fruit and cheese at room temperature, but not milk. Though British room temperature can be quite nippy. Which is why room temperature British beer is Just Right. <G>

Loretta: I will second you on the Just Right temperature of British beer. And the Just Right taste. We make our travel plans around pubs recommended in the Good Beer Guide. Alas, those marvelous brews are rapidly diminishing.
One of my summer faves is peaches from the farmer’s market. Those I will not put in the fridge unless they don’t get eaten fast enough and are in danger of rotting (which hardly ever happens). Most fruits I prefer at room temperature. But I do like apples cold.Apricots_1
My mother lived on a farm for a time and says she developed a childhood distaste for milk on account of drinking it fresh from the cow. She still doesn’t like milk. But I think that may be genetic. I used to like it but now can drink only the organic kind because it’s been ultra-pasteurized and has almost no taste at all.

Susan Sarah: A trace amount of dirt is supposed to be good for us — minerals and good microbes that we don’t get anymore because we wash our food. Hey, I’m all for washing food, can’t we get those minerals and microbes somewhere else? Like in a capsule, all clean and stuff?
I love apples. Let me say that again. I loooooooooooove apples. When I was growing up in upstate New York, my parents would take us out to local orchards, and sometimes into Vermont, to pick them. We’d climb on little ladders and pluck them from the branches, run around the orchards, climb trees, lob a few apples at each other when we shouldn’t. Then we’d ride home crammed in the backApple  seat with dozens of apples in those flimsy wooden bushel baskets, getting splinters on our knees and hands. We’d eat apples on the way home, and the fresh, tangy fragrance was wonderful. Later the pie-baking would begin….

Susan Sarah, Libra autumn baby

Pat: Now, that’s an interesting insight. I was born in NY, too, had apples and cherries and whatnot, but I’m a Leo summer baby and it’s peaches I utterly adore. When we lived in Charlotte, we could drive straight down to the orchards in SC and get them straight off the trees. Best things I’ve ever eaten.
I don’t like my fruit cold either, but it doesn’t last long sitting around the house from one week to the next. eventually, fruit ends up in the refrig, except bananas. I know that black skin doesn’t mean anything, but it’s ugggggllyyyyyy.

Susan Miranda: My two bits — I have a small, ancient refrigerator that will never be permitted to die because it’s the only kind tiny enough to fit into the built-in space in my equally ancient kitchen. I refrigerate very little, anyway: only gen-u-wine perishables. I like to cook, and I like fresh food, so I only buy for a day or two at a time. I buy as much local produce at farmer’s markets as I can, and I’m so old school that I resist Strawberries buying well-travelled styrofoam strawberries in winter because the real ones in June taste that much better. I think anticipation for a season makes things taste better — like Pat with the peaches and Susan with the apples. (though I do like the exotic stuff like kiwis, pineapples, and mangos, too, which don’t seem to grow in PA, so belay that mandate<g>) I NEVER refrigerate fruit, and not many vegetables, either. Maybe they’d keep longer, but as Jo noted, the cold kills the flavor, and besides, it hurts my teeth.<g> I don’t buy convenience foods, so my freezer’s primary use is for ice cubes. Don’t have or want a microwave, either, which I suppose means I’m just about rubbing two sticks together to make a fire in the back yard.

Sheesh, reading this over, I sound like some freakin’ survivalist on a mountaintop. Really, I swear, really, I only live five miles from the King of Prussia Mall, and I have the charge slips to prove it! <VBG>

Susan Sarah: And I’ve seen you at that mall!  *g* Susan Miranda, you are the soul of efficiency and principle. I am a lazy slob by comparison. I go for convenience foods, though I never eat them myself — they’re available only to keep the male hordes from asking me to cook. When I cook it’s pretty good, cuz I come from a family of very good cooks…but mostly I find creative ways to avoid it….Gotta agree with you on cold fruit though. <yoww>

The Wenches are too busy writing books to be making preserves and pickles (like I ever did!)…um, I think that ties this thread into writing…

Jo: I think you’re right.

Keepingkate250_1 ~Susan Sarah

   

   

21 thoughts on “Everything But The Kitchen Sink”

  1. So true about the temperature of British houses! I lived in England 1997-98, in Bristol, to be specific. I was there as part of a program that placed volunteers with various nonprofits, churches, etc., so I was living in someone else’s home and couldn’t control the thermostat. It was the coldest winter I’d ever spent INDOORS, but the warmest I’d spent OUTDOORS in many a year–though I’m a native of the South, I’d been living in Philadelphia for 8 years, so I was used to a certain amount of ice and snow that didn’t appear in Bristol. But that house was so cold! I’d regularly wear a turtleneck, a sweater, and a fleece, and STILL need to wrap up in a blanket to stay warm while I read or watched TV. It was so strange, because despite my Alabama upbringing I’ve always been much more sensitive to heat than cold.

    Reply
  2. So true about the temperature of British houses! I lived in England 1997-98, in Bristol, to be specific. I was there as part of a program that placed volunteers with various nonprofits, churches, etc., so I was living in someone else’s home and couldn’t control the thermostat. It was the coldest winter I’d ever spent INDOORS, but the warmest I’d spent OUTDOORS in many a year–though I’m a native of the South, I’d been living in Philadelphia for 8 years, so I was used to a certain amount of ice and snow that didn’t appear in Bristol. But that house was so cold! I’d regularly wear a turtleneck, a sweater, and a fleece, and STILL need to wrap up in a blanket to stay warm while I read or watched TV. It was so strange, because despite my Alabama upbringing I’ve always been much more sensitive to heat than cold.

    Reply
  3. So true about the temperature of British houses! I lived in England 1997-98, in Bristol, to be specific. I was there as part of a program that placed volunteers with various nonprofits, churches, etc., so I was living in someone else’s home and couldn’t control the thermostat. It was the coldest winter I’d ever spent INDOORS, but the warmest I’d spent OUTDOORS in many a year–though I’m a native of the South, I’d been living in Philadelphia for 8 years, so I was used to a certain amount of ice and snow that didn’t appear in Bristol. But that house was so cold! I’d regularly wear a turtleneck, a sweater, and a fleece, and STILL need to wrap up in a blanket to stay warm while I read or watched TV. It was so strange, because despite my Alabama upbringing I’ve always been much more sensitive to heat than cold.

    Reply
  4. One of the things I love about being in England is the temp of the houses! I like it cold. I live in the Bay Area and I’ve never turned on my heater (a nice cheery fire every once in a while, sure, but I hate heaters).

    Reply
  5. One of the things I love about being in England is the temp of the houses! I like it cold. I live in the Bay Area and I’ve never turned on my heater (a nice cheery fire every once in a while, sure, but I hate heaters).

    Reply
  6. One of the things I love about being in England is the temp of the houses! I like it cold. I live in the Bay Area and I’ve never turned on my heater (a nice cheery fire every once in a while, sure, but I hate heaters).

    Reply
  7. I think this Brit will keep out of this debate, except to say that I used to have fresh milk, straight from the cow, so to speak, as a child, and I prefer milk (organic whole milk, not homogenised, which ruins it) at room temperature, not chilled. And hot (not boiled).
    I don’t know what they do to milk in the USA, but it tastes odd. Just about okay in tea (as long as one has made the tea, properly, oneself!).
    πŸ˜‰

    Reply
  8. I think this Brit will keep out of this debate, except to say that I used to have fresh milk, straight from the cow, so to speak, as a child, and I prefer milk (organic whole milk, not homogenised, which ruins it) at room temperature, not chilled. And hot (not boiled).
    I don’t know what they do to milk in the USA, but it tastes odd. Just about okay in tea (as long as one has made the tea, properly, oneself!).
    πŸ˜‰

    Reply
  9. I think this Brit will keep out of this debate, except to say that I used to have fresh milk, straight from the cow, so to speak, as a child, and I prefer milk (organic whole milk, not homogenised, which ruins it) at room temperature, not chilled. And hot (not boiled).
    I don’t know what they do to milk in the USA, but it tastes odd. Just about okay in tea (as long as one has made the tea, properly, oneself!).
    πŸ˜‰

    Reply
  10. My father, descendant of generations of Yankee farmers, used to say that homogenized milk was beat to hell, or words to that effect. πŸ™‚ These days, milk is both boiled and homogenized and yes, blandified. When I was a kid, we could easily buy milk that was pasteurized but not homogenized, so the cream floated on top. My father poured off the top milk for his coffee.
    The best milk I ever drank was in the West of Ireland, bought raw and poured into whatever clean bottle they had available. (An empty whiskey bottle, IIRC.) The temperature was cold enough that it tasted mighty fine.
    Susan W., you’re right about the temperature inside English houses! Especially brick ones, which seemed to hold a particularly damp, penetrating cold. The sweaters (“jumpers”) I bought then to keep from freezing were too warm to wear back in the States when I came home. πŸ™‚
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  11. My father, descendant of generations of Yankee farmers, used to say that homogenized milk was beat to hell, or words to that effect. πŸ™‚ These days, milk is both boiled and homogenized and yes, blandified. When I was a kid, we could easily buy milk that was pasteurized but not homogenized, so the cream floated on top. My father poured off the top milk for his coffee.
    The best milk I ever drank was in the West of Ireland, bought raw and poured into whatever clean bottle they had available. (An empty whiskey bottle, IIRC.) The temperature was cold enough that it tasted mighty fine.
    Susan W., you’re right about the temperature inside English houses! Especially brick ones, which seemed to hold a particularly damp, penetrating cold. The sweaters (“jumpers”) I bought then to keep from freezing were too warm to wear back in the States when I came home. πŸ™‚
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  12. My father, descendant of generations of Yankee farmers, used to say that homogenized milk was beat to hell, or words to that effect. πŸ™‚ These days, milk is both boiled and homogenized and yes, blandified. When I was a kid, we could easily buy milk that was pasteurized but not homogenized, so the cream floated on top. My father poured off the top milk for his coffee.
    The best milk I ever drank was in the West of Ireland, bought raw and poured into whatever clean bottle they had available. (An empty whiskey bottle, IIRC.) The temperature was cold enough that it tasted mighty fine.
    Susan W., you’re right about the temperature inside English houses! Especially brick ones, which seemed to hold a particularly damp, penetrating cold. The sweaters (“jumpers”) I bought then to keep from freezing were too warm to wear back in the States when I came home. πŸ™‚
    Mary Jo

    Reply
  13. we have a fairly English climate here in Victoria, and I was “fortunate” enough to have a heating problem in February a couple of years ago, a record cold February, just when I was writing Winter Fire, a book set in winter.
    A pointed reminder just what penetrating damp cold feels like. That habit of sleeping with just the nose sticking out and waking to feel the sting of cold on the nose.
    Sheesh! I’ve just realized. Of course it was that damned muse that caused a leak in our oil tank!
    Mind you, that cold does mean that most of our characters would sleep in night caps in winter. Essential for self-preservation.
    Jo

    Reply
  14. we have a fairly English climate here in Victoria, and I was “fortunate” enough to have a heating problem in February a couple of years ago, a record cold February, just when I was writing Winter Fire, a book set in winter.
    A pointed reminder just what penetrating damp cold feels like. That habit of sleeping with just the nose sticking out and waking to feel the sting of cold on the nose.
    Sheesh! I’ve just realized. Of course it was that damned muse that caused a leak in our oil tank!
    Mind you, that cold does mean that most of our characters would sleep in night caps in winter. Essential for self-preservation.
    Jo

    Reply
  15. we have a fairly English climate here in Victoria, and I was “fortunate” enough to have a heating problem in February a couple of years ago, a record cold February, just when I was writing Winter Fire, a book set in winter.
    A pointed reminder just what penetrating damp cold feels like. That habit of sleeping with just the nose sticking out and waking to feel the sting of cold on the nose.
    Sheesh! I’ve just realized. Of course it was that damned muse that caused a leak in our oil tank!
    Mind you, that cold does mean that most of our characters would sleep in night caps in winter. Essential for self-preservation.
    Jo

    Reply
  16. Love the discussion! All the talk of England makes me wistful; I really want to go there.
    Until I was about 10, we kept a cow that my dad milked daily, then we got fresh milk from my great-uncle for a few more years until he sold his cows. I don’t remember the milk as being tastier than store-bought. What I remember most was skimming off the cream to make either whipped cream or butter. And that the milk tended to spoil faster, or get “blinky” – just turning sour but not curdled. Sometimes it would have an odd taste, I always assumed as a result of something the cows ate.
    And I remember my dad aiming a teat at a kitten in the barn and hitting it with a stream of milk. The kitten loved it.
    We had a garden every year, and dinner in the summertime was often fresh veggies picked that day and cornbread (sometimes made from corn my grandfather grew, dried and grated into cornmeal). Until I was about 12, we raised and butchered a hog every year; I always volunteered to make the sausage, grinding the meat scraps in a hand grinder and then working the spices through by hand. We also raised cattle, and took one to a butcher each year.
    And this is where I confess that while I really enjoy fresh food and sometimes even buy organic, I’m not particularly picky about it. Most times.

    Reply
  17. Love the discussion! All the talk of England makes me wistful; I really want to go there.
    Until I was about 10, we kept a cow that my dad milked daily, then we got fresh milk from my great-uncle for a few more years until he sold his cows. I don’t remember the milk as being tastier than store-bought. What I remember most was skimming off the cream to make either whipped cream or butter. And that the milk tended to spoil faster, or get “blinky” – just turning sour but not curdled. Sometimes it would have an odd taste, I always assumed as a result of something the cows ate.
    And I remember my dad aiming a teat at a kitten in the barn and hitting it with a stream of milk. The kitten loved it.
    We had a garden every year, and dinner in the summertime was often fresh veggies picked that day and cornbread (sometimes made from corn my grandfather grew, dried and grated into cornmeal). Until I was about 12, we raised and butchered a hog every year; I always volunteered to make the sausage, grinding the meat scraps in a hand grinder and then working the spices through by hand. We also raised cattle, and took one to a butcher each year.
    And this is where I confess that while I really enjoy fresh food and sometimes even buy organic, I’m not particularly picky about it. Most times.

    Reply
  18. Love the discussion! All the talk of England makes me wistful; I really want to go there.
    Until I was about 10, we kept a cow that my dad milked daily, then we got fresh milk from my great-uncle for a few more years until he sold his cows. I don’t remember the milk as being tastier than store-bought. What I remember most was skimming off the cream to make either whipped cream or butter. And that the milk tended to spoil faster, or get “blinky” – just turning sour but not curdled. Sometimes it would have an odd taste, I always assumed as a result of something the cows ate.
    And I remember my dad aiming a teat at a kitten in the barn and hitting it with a stream of milk. The kitten loved it.
    We had a garden every year, and dinner in the summertime was often fresh veggies picked that day and cornbread (sometimes made from corn my grandfather grew, dried and grated into cornmeal). Until I was about 12, we raised and butchered a hog every year; I always volunteered to make the sausage, grinding the meat scraps in a hand grinder and then working the spices through by hand. We also raised cattle, and took one to a butcher each year.
    And this is where I confess that while I really enjoy fresh food and sometimes even buy organic, I’m not particularly picky about it. Most times.

    Reply

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