So today (Wednesday the 3rd of this brave new world of 2018) I had a mental healthcare appointment to keep (no emergencies — in fact, I’ve been feeling better than I have for the past 3 or 4 years). I first set up these appointments when the family car was working, but because I am a prescient prophet capable of seeing that driving 20 year old cheap beater cars means we’ll be carless from time to time when one dies, I chose a practice in walking distance.
And of course it’s winter when the car chooses to die, the jerky little bastard. And of course the Earth’s hat of cold air has lately slipped rakishly to the side and we’re under all that fine polar air right now while the precious icecap continues melting in frickin January.
But the walk isn’t so bad because it’s over freezing unlike the walk I had to take for yesterday’s appointment, and the legacy of a Wisconsin childhood is knowing how to dress for cold. Only my cane hand gets truly cold, and maybe my nose.
My appointment was on one side of a rectangular route with one of the two grocery stores in walking distance on the other side of it on the way home, so instead of taking the shorter route back home I figured I’d stop by the store as long as I was already walking and pick up a few odds and ends like some apples and pears for the children who, I am very happy to report, can chow fresh fruit like champions and do at every opportunity. Yay, nutrition!
I wasn’t planning on picking up enough things to justify taking along the collapsible cart I recently bought thanks to my Patreon patrons, so I brought an empty backpack. All good. Planning ahead.
But what I did not plan on — and I should have known better given my past experience as a manager in the grocery biz — was the forecast of 8-12 inches of snow in the forecast for tonight (there’s a bit less than an inch on the ground as I type this, and the snow is beginning to come down again after taking a break for nightfall) and what it would mean for my mission.
In Norfolk, Virginia where close proximity to the ocean gentles the temperatures, this is a MASSIVE BLIZZARD WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE OH GOD.
The grocery store was clotted with swarms of half-crazed customers. Like, a no shopping carts available, I got one of the last 6 or 7 handbaskets swarm of shoppers — and at that point, not a single snowflake had fallen yet.
Ew, a handbasket. I don’t like using them anymore, because they unbalance me due to my limp and bone-on-bone hip, and I already limp heavily enough even with the cane thankyouverymuch.
I almost decided to say screw it and head home. But, the kids want apples. And the wife’s upset tummy craves full-sugar Coca Cola (which horrifies me; as my grandma’s good little boy I cleave to her teaching that 7-Up is the magic tonic that soothes all ills).
So I shop.
Weather panics are weird.
Some of it is predictable. Half the bread aisle is blown out, as it always is when bad weather threatens. Apparently there’s something about blizzards and hurricanes and nor’easters that makes people crave sandwiches and toast.
The bottled water is also half blown out. Because if anything is scarce during a blizzard, it’s water which is LAYING ALL OVER THE GROUND A FOOT THICK JUST SHOVEL A FEW DRINKS INTO A BUCKET AND BRING IT IN TO THAW FER CRISSAKE. Also, since when does a blizzard knock out the water supply? Your pipes shouldn’t be freezing, because you should be running your water if it’s that damn cold. And the snow will insulate the crawlspace under your home. It’ll actually be warmer under there than it has the last 3 or 4 nights with the cold snap.
And, this is the one that really gets me, and I’ve seen it before (and it’s weirder than anything else I’ve seen in a storm except the guy who bought a whole cart full of frozen dinners because he was afraid the hurricane would knock out his electricity, or the woman who bought two dozen (!!) gallons of milk, also in the teeth of an approaching hurricane. WTF!) — the meat case is also half blown out. The hamburger is GONE. And three customers are standing next to the empty hamburger shelf asking each other if there’s any more hamburger anywhere else and when will the butcher bring out more hamburger?
People, if the blizzard comes and knocks out your power, I assume some of you have gas stoves. But not all of you! Are you planning on crouching in your dark living room gnawing a pack of raw hamburger like Gollum gnawing a fish? Do you figure hamburger will cook itself up if you toss it into one of the snowdrifts in your front yard?
Is there something about a snowstorm that demands you start a cookout?
Is there some theory I’ve never heard of that says you can save yourself from freezing to death if your home is heatless by covering yourself with ground beef?
People are weird.
Pictured above, a Russian (and nearby regions) fruit drink called kompot I’ve taken a liking to and make on occasion. It’s easy to make and it’s more delicious than anything I can get from the store IMO. It has a velvety mouthfeel, probably from natural pectin. Good stuff, very nice on a hot summer day.
See, it’s not all about writing and science fiction around here. When I titled this thing Seriously Eclectic I meant it.
Anyhow, all you have to do to make this tasty and brilliantly colored drink is put about 3 cups of cut fruit per liter/quart of water in a pot, add roughly 1/4 cup of sugar per quart of water (I measure mine a little scant; the batch I’m drinking above was 1 cup sugar to 5 quarts water), bring it to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about half an hour, then let it cool in the pot and fish out the fruit. Serve cold.
Stone fruits work wonderfully: peaches, cherries, apricots, plums. Apples are nice, too. Berries are fine as well. Avoid citrus, the bitterness and acid aren’t going to play nice here. It’s an Eastern European drink, think fruits you can get there.
I’ve never tried melons, let me know if you do, and if it worked out well or not. I’m sure you could adulterate it with liquor with good results if you want — it being Russian, I’d advise vodka because Russia, duh.
The batch pictured involved red and black plums, cherries, blueberries, peaches, and a couple of pink lady apples. It’s wonderful.
The fruit chunks left over after you strain the kompot into containers is still a bit tart and retain a mild fruity taste. The morning after making the kompot, we had big bowls of oatmeal for breakfast. We heated some of the fruit, made a big divot in the middle of the oatmeal, dropped a teaspoon of honey in the bottom, and then heaped a big pile of the fruit on top. Delicious.
Aside from using the fruit as a topping for hot cereal or ice cream, you can heat it in a pot, add a little of the kompot back in, thicken with potato starch, and you have a refreshing fruit soup called kissel (so I’m told). I’m also told it’s eaten cold or hot; I’ve never tried cold because it’s so damn good hot with a bit of nutmeg and a tiny bit of ground clove.
So that’s today’s food/drink adventure. Back to science fiction or something like it in the next post.
I’m eating apricots and I think: these are basically tiny peaches. But they have smoother flesh, they’re sweeter, they’re more flavorful than their larger cousins.
Same with cherries. Tiny plums, just way more delicious.
People like the giant Red Globe grapes, but they are bland and watery, if crisp. The modest Concord blows them away in flavor.
And yet producers breed for bigger fruit. Bigger and less delicious.
Where are the visionaries breeding for smaller, tastier fruit? Where are my tiny apricots the size of a dime and so delicious I’d collapse to the ground with my eyes rolled back into my head?
- What’s hot in the fruit garden? (blackmoorfruit.wordpress.com)
- Aprium’s (earthtreatsblog.wordpress.com)
- April is for Apricots (foodsfromspain.wordpress.com)
- All for making the king of fruits sweeter (thehindu.com)
- Syrian Dried Apricot Paste at Pars Market Middle Eastern Store in Columbia Maryland (parsmarketcolumbia.wordpress.com)
- Broadway Basketeers Dried Fruit Extra-Large Gift Basket (eyeoncelebs.com)