Monday, July 18, 2011

Thumbs Up

Congrats to the five winners of Wined and Died over at Goodreads. Your copies are on the way. Please note the details for the free Author Website Contest above. That contest runs through July 29, 2011.

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Garlic scape art

Over the weekend things slowed down a bit. Not that we didn’t end up getting a lot done (surprisingly), but there was a leisurely, summery flavor to the hours.

I’d like to say that’s because I’ve finally achieved a mellow state of Zen, or even because I’m all caught up on writing and promotional activities. But none of that’s true. We mosied through the time because the heat makes us more logy than usual in the afternoons, the British Open in its entirety droned in the background for four solid days, and I cut the bejesus out of my thumb while slicing potatoes on a mandolin.

phpThumb_generated_thumbnailjpg (1)Not the twangy, Led Zeppelin kind with strings. The kind with a razor-sharp blade that makes perfectly uniform, gorgeously thin slices of zucchini for carpaccio or anything you want to bake into a gratin. Mine is a small, inexpensive model from Progressive International that has attachments for grating, Frenching (as in fries) and julienning. (If that’s a word. If it’s not I still have an attachment for doing it, though.)

Oh – and there’s a handle thingy to stick into whatever food you’re slicing so you DON’T CUT YOURSELF. Which I will use from now on. Because I may not have recently reached a state of Zen, but I have recently reached a state of Less Stupid.

Side note to Alton Brown: I know whenever you used a mandolin in a recipe on Good Eats you said to always, always use the handle thingy. I’m sorry, Alton.

Actually the cut could have been much worse, but it’s at the tip of my thumb, and sore, and it turns out that humans tend to use their thumbs a lot in the course of daily activity. Go figure. K Neosporined it, butterfly bandaged it, and then wrapped it with so much athletic tape that it’s like having a cast on my thumb. I’m not complaining though, because all that wrapping shields my tender digit from bumps and bangs and my irritating tendency to try to use it.

So typing is slower. Shelling peas was interesting. Weeding is out. (Yay! And thanks, Craigslist guy who came to pull weeds on Sunday!.) But we still managed to trim trees at a rental property and haul the branches to the dump. We cleaned and tidied the house, mowed the lawn, fussed with the air conditioner, and I wrote a ton (nearly making a deadline! ahem).

Oh, and speaking of the air conditioner, I hate to need it because I heated the house up cooking this or that. Last July was a scorcher, which brought about the No-Oven Challenge. This year has been more temperate, but I’m still baking outside, and have pretty much put my thrift store cast iron skillet to use on the grill for everything from cooking up taco meat and making refried beans to frying sausage and scrambling eggs.

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And this weekend it was baked ham with a potato-onion gratin. Note the skillet, yet again. Dinner was not great on the ol’ thumb, but absolutely delish! I was a little nervous about cooking an expensive ham like this on the grill, all studded with cloves and slathered with brown sugar-mustard glaze, but it totally worked. I just set it in a foil well and put it away from direct heat for about 45 minutes.

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Coming soon: the recipe for zucchini carpaccio. ’Tis the season, after all…


  1. Wow, I just bought one of those mandolins but haven't had a chance to use it yet. I'll be very, very careful and I will always, always use the handle thingie.

  2. They really are a wonderful kitchen tool. (K put the box on the counter and circled the picture of the handle thingie in red magic marker. ; D)