baking soda amnesia
Friday, January 21 2011
We'd had about six inches of snow last night, so when I woke up at 7:30 this morning, the first order of business was to shovel out the driveway. Deborah would be coming out sometime this afternoon to help me clean the house for tomorrow's party, so I wanted it to be easy for her to get in. What with all these snow storms, with the additive accumulations of their snowfalls (only one of which was rolled back by an appreciable thaw), our yard has taken on the appearance of an Antarctic camp, with every trail a deep trench in the landscape and the driveway looking like a basement excavation for the sunbelt ranch house of a Presidential dilettante.
I had some web development on my plate up to a 10:15am phone call, but from there my schedule was mostly open. At around 3:00pm, I began cleaning. Since Deborah would be helping, I focused most of my effort on the cleaning tasks that we normally overlook: dirty windows and window sills, crusty trashcan lids, and pseudopodic films of unspeakable grime on the hardware floors.
When Deborah arrived at around 3:30, she mainly did vacuuming using our eight year old vacuum cleaner. That thing is incredibly loud, and it reminded me of a quote I'd read in the New Yorker attributed to James Dyson about how Americans demand much louder vacuum cleaners than Europeans do because Americans don't think their vacuum cleaner is doing anything unless it sounds like a airplane.
This evening after Deborah had left, Gretchen made an exceptionally delicious pasta using tempeh prepared using a new method she'd discovered: she'd boiled the hell out of it for ten minutes and then sautéed it in oil and soy sauce. This left the tempeh in a form that can best be described as "melt-in-your-mouth morsels," the kind of not-so-secret ingredient I could easily imagine upgrading a chili from great to completely kick ass.
A little before midnight, I began baking the two layers of Gretchen's birthday cake, which would be a vegan spice cake. As I was combining the ingredients, I lost track of whether or not I'd added baking soda, the alkali component necessary for the science-fair-volcano foam required to leaven the cake dough in the absence of yeast. So I found myself digging through the various piles of white dry materials I'd piled up, hoping to find something that tasted like baking soda. When I finally found such a powder, I confirmed its chemistry by adding a trace of vinegar to watch it foam.
Eleanor in the living room.
Julius (aka Stripey) being cute on the steps with Sally.
Gretch ghostwriting while Clarence looks out into the snow.
The front of the house with snow.
Looking down at the greenhouse.
Little pines below the house.
The big pine east of the house.
Our snow-bound pile of Silver Maple firewood (split back in November).
Snowbound solar panels.
Sun behind a tree trunk, viewed from near the brownhouse.
Looking from near our front door towards Dug Hill Road (north).
Looking towards the woodshed (south).
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