I Have a Cast-Iron Skillet . . .

…and I’m not afraid to use it.

Earlier today I sliced vine-ripened tomatoes into a bowl, and covered them in a blend of olive oil, red wine vinegar, basil, oregano, salt and pepper. This tomato salad was a staple of my childhood, during summers spent with my grandparents in New Jersey, and would be served along side grilled hamburgers, corn on the cob and baked potatoes done on the grill, either white or sweet. Sometimes, there would be more conventional salads as well, the kind that include lettuce, but just as often there wouldn’t be.

I’ve just emailed a friend stating that I have these tomatoes and no idea what to put with them, as I forgot to defrost the salmon I’ve meant to cook for a week now, but as I don’t have a grill, hamburgers aren’t really an option (I don’t like making them on the stove – too greasy.)

Then, inspiration struck! I have a cast-iron skillet (purchased mainly so I can make cornbread) and there have to be some things that are just better cooked in such a pan. A second burst of inspiration: steak au poivre, which I never got enough of in France.

Of course we have no food in the house (well, we have beer, yogurt, apples, and the tomatoes I mentioned) so this will require a trip to the store, but…mmmm…sizzling steak au poivre, baked potatoes, and marinated tomatoes. Bliss on a plate!

On Time

Alice sighed wearily. `I think you might do something better with the time,’ she said, `than waste it in asking riddles that have no answers.’

`If you knew Time as well as I do,’ said the Hatter, `you wouldn’t talk about wasting IT. It’s HIM.’

`I don’t know what you mean,’ said Alice.

`Of course you don’t!’ the Hatter said, tossing his head contemptuously. `I dare say you never even spoke to Time!’

`Perhaps not,’ Alice cautiously replied: `but I know I have to beat time when I learn music.’

`Ah! that accounts for it,’ said the Hatter. `He won’t stand beating. Now, if you only kept on good terms with him, he’d do almost anything you liked with the clock. For instance, suppose it were nine o’clock in the morning, just time to begin lessons: you’d only have to whisper a hint to Time, and round goes the clock in a twinkling! Half-past one, time for dinner!’
— Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Rebelbelle at Open Diary commented on a bumper sticker about killing time, and mused about why anyone would wish to do such a thing, and I had to smile, both because I agree so strongly with the sentiment, and because it reminded me of Alice’s remarks at a famous tea party.

We seem to treat Time as our adversary, we fight it, race against it, beat it, and kill it – instead of embracing it. It takes a minute to play a certain Waltz, about ten to boil water, twenty to bake a cornbread in a cast-iron skillet (not including prep-time), an hour to wash a load of laundry, a day for paint to dry, and 70-90 years to experience a life.

Why not embrace time. In that minute, lose yourself in the music. While waiting for the kettle to boil or the coffee to brew, spend a moment playing with your dog, or smooching your significant other. While the laundry is spinning around in circles, take a walk, or read a book, but don’t think of any of these things as killing time, but celebrating it.

We are given a collection of moments, all strung together to form a somewhat coherent whole. Shouldn’t we attempt to find the treasures in every day things, in the small spaces of time while we’re waiting for other stuff to happen, rather than searching for a stretch of time that we perceive is long enough in which to accomplish something worthwhile?

Fire. Clock. Certainty

An exercise from Write a Book Now!

The instructions, paraphrased:Take the three words assigned in an exercise, and write for five minutes. You can change the tenses, or forms of the words, but all three must be used. The first word must be used to start your piece. It must be fiction. It cannot be in first person.

UNEDITED WRITING EXERCISE: Words: fire, clock, certainty

Fire filled her dreams – images of flame and smoke doing little to mask the screaming of people desperately fleeing for their lives as the apartment building burned to the ground. In sleep, she raced down the stairs from the seventh floor, her little sister dragged along behind her like a ragdoll, until the final flight, when the smaller girl had tripped. She’d fallen too, but the pain of the impact in her dream woke her, and as she rubbed her knee, she stared at the clock, noting the time – three AM. She’d managed two and a half hours of sleep since the last nightmare. This time, though, she
did not go back to sleep, instead, lying in the darkness clutching the
notebook she’d insisted upon going back to their apartment to retrieve. It wasn’t the pain that caused her nightmares, nor the loss of her home and belongings, but the certainty that her little sister’s death was her fault.

Originally written 7 May 2005.

T3: Are We There Yet?

Note: it may technically be Friday, but fiscally, it’s still Thursday night.

Onesome: Are–Are you planning on heading out this Memorial Day? …or is it a ‘stay at home and chill’ kind of holiday for you?
We’d considered heading up to Fuzzy’s sister’s place in Iowa, to see everyone, but they’re leaving for Europe a week later, and the last thing they really need is MORE people. So we’re rescheduling. Most likely, we’ll go to the last weekend of Scarborough Faire.

Twosome: we– ….and who is “we” when you go traveling? Any preferences that you can state here in blogland ?
Generally, just me and Fuzzy. While I like meeting people at destinations, I don’t like having to stick to other people’s schedules. As for preferences, I detest road trips. Flying may be uncivilized, but it’s FAST. I wish we could bring the dogs with us more, at least on overnights, as I hate going to bed without them.

Threesome: there yet?– …and when you get there, what are you going to do? …or if you’re staying in, what’s on the menu? Are you cooking out or just opening a can of tuna?
I like picnics at the beach, but other than that? Find me a restaurant with table service, please. Or let me just cook at home, with my frou-frou professional-grade appliances. If we don’t go to Faire, we’ll probably putter around the house, do some gardening and see some movies.

This meme can be found here.