Hack-Do

Minimalism is still working its way into my life.

A few chickens didn’t make the move with me. A few more are teetering on making some thrift store shopper happy.
It’s only partially about space. There’s something that feels accomplished in letting go. I like my things. I also know that they were hiding behind the rain patterned door glass in the hutch for the past two years. They made me happy when I was looking for something useful. When the cabinet closed again, we went on living separate lives.

At some point, everything needs to be evalu-packed. Withholding was based on two criteria:
First, do I plan on using this in the next week or two?
Second, could I live without it for a week or two?

Necessary retrievement was based on worth factors. Was it worth it to unseal, paw through, and re-seal every box until I found what I needed? Was it worth it to appropriately bundle sweater, socks over socks, boots, hat, scarf, gloves, do a two-way, twenty yard dash through -22 degrees and potentially painful sneet?

As a first-time home-owner, I was firmly unimpressed by the numerous, slightly-to-majorly ridiculous hacks in place.
As a recent mover, I may have come to understand. Make-do is a mantra. Hack is a solution.

My first hack innocently occurred when I realized that the tuna salad fixings I had lugged over to the condo to save the hassle of extra winter traverse weren’t going to do me any good without a can-opener. Good thing I was a Girl Scout. One million (exaggeration) bottle opener punches sort of did the trick. I was able to mostly drain the water off. Another half-a-million (exaggeration) and the can was open enough to begin the pry. Using a knife to pull tiny chunks of what was supposed to be lunch that might take until dinner to complete tuna was risky to my knuckles and insulting to my stamina. I would win that battle. I have the pictures to prove it.

About five years ago my inherited tool collection was whittled. I couldn’t imagine ever needing 10 clamps, so I kept one, and never used it. This move, I could have used 10 clamps, and of course, couldn’t find that one I kept for no other reason than “maybe.” Lifting counter tops were the problem. Previously unknown because the counter was weighted with weighty chicken canisters, I was able to use the unpacked jars and some slate table tiles to hot the top to the base while the glue dried. The peeling sides, though, called for that one, I repeat, elusive clamp (which also remains unfound, as of yet.)

I’m not sure where the #imakemyselflaugh idea popped up from, but suddenly there I was gazing down at my own hack-handywork, feeling the brag. I just needed a little prop for leverage. I forked it. Thoroughly self-impressed, I have demonstrative pictures.
I lost the lid to my Gatorade – a leftover requirement from the bad soup fiasco. It’s possible I could have refiled through the garbage, but would risking nails, and splintery pieces of wood, shards of glass, sticky un-packing-ed tape, and pan-fulls of fine dust debris. But I had plastic wrap, and I had recently seen a rubber-band. Not the most impressive hack, but notable for the fact that it was another hack.

I asked the movers to remove a six-spot outlet cover from the wall, so that the bed could press against it. I rethought that after they left. Open outlet socket, bed sheets, covers… electrical hazard. I moved a board between the two, angled to not touch, just hover. I found a new cover, 45 cents and a lovely shade a bright-white to match the interior trim, but forgot the assembled bed is almost unmovable. It’s a struggle for two, and I was just one, with a screwdriver that could not and would not be angled in to secure those tiny screws. Even the computer tools were unfit. A toothpick was too wide. I needed something thin and metal and bend able – a cake tester would do it. I have the daring hack documented.

I tossed the ingredients for an overly simple, dietary restricted, impossible pie into the one mixing bowl reserved. For some reason, aka #imakemyselflaugh, I packed away the pie plate, but kept the Bundt pan handy. Yes, I used it. Yes, it cooked fine. In fact, it was beautifully guest servable. I preserved the image for my future cookbook.

The defining get-around-it came from the need for cleanliness without mess. I came up with a way to hack the plumber’s hack. You know, the one where a 58” shower was set into a 60” space. You know, the insult of the ugly wall bump-out that was supposed to, you know, “fix” it. You know, the completely un-functional eyesore, that couldn’t hold a curtain rod, wasn’t fore-ing a stud, and wasn’t plumb, anyway. Short-term more expensive, glass doors resolved. I made sure I ordered the 58” size. I made sure I ordered the fine rain glass. When the home improvement store shipped the ensemble, it came with a note that due to the size of the shower, installation would require… a hack. Luckily, and rather blessedly, too, I had been steered to a contractor who knew what-the he was doing.

Tonight, I’m cushioned on the couch, laptop propped on a pillow, enjoying the orangy-blueish sunset strata through an unobstructed window that gets more noticeably breezy at night. Recycled curtains were hung to cut down the draft, because the super-glued blinds support broke loose. Came down when I pulled the rise cord. Yep. Hacked.

PS: sneet is not a typo- it’s that awful Michigan semi solid snow that it bordering on sleet, because, it too is freezing it’s…. limbs off.
PSS: what-the is not a typo – I’m still actively trying not to curse, but, yeah, sometimes the kitten’s delicate ears do get a bit warm.

Quote for the Week:

Make-do is a mantra March 17 2015

Enjoy this Week’s Discovery Links:

M.I.T says “hack”: http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/a-short-history-of-hack

I am not alone: http://1000lifehacks.com/

Impossible: Hack as you will – http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/product-recipes/bisquick-recipes/bisquick-impossibly-easy-pie-recipes

Pesto, Bingo

Some sales are harder to resist than others. Take for example, Kroger’s recent super deal on packaged spinach: 3 bags for $5.00.

In an unusually realistic move for me, I recognized that I would not be eating that much spinach in one week.

I could surely go through one bag in a week, but three? Not likely.

I supposed I could spike my consumption rate to a bag and a half within seven days by successfully incorporating spinach into at least two out of three meals a day.

Truly, I could probably find some way to the stuff even more of the stuff in if I reclassified it as an acceptable breakfast item. I already add 1 oz of cheese, and sometimes 1 tablespoon of pre-cooked crumbled bacon to my morning oatmeal. Why not spinach, too? As interesting as that thought was, it seemed a little ridiculous… even to me.

Besides, marathoning spinach would, at most, only deplete somewhere close to just shy of two bags.

Inevitably, I would run into a slime situation. I know this from experience culled purchasing romaine in multiply-packed bundles of three or more.

The likelihood of successfully chomping through the bargain load, was looking dismal.

Steaming and freezing fresh greens has never produced an effect I would enthusiastically eat.

I found simple instructions for freezing without blanching at the site listed below.

But, what really caught my eye was the pureed spinach.  I thought it was pesto, and got pretty excited. It wasn’t, but a way over-excited revised search for spinach pesto yielded recipes in many shades of green; some with basil, some without.

I chose to go with. Mostly, because the pep of basil would be missed; but also because I just couldn’t consider calling it a pesto if there wasn’t any.

I also chose to skip the pine nuts. Partly because I so focused on the spinach I forgot to buy some. Partly because I was too lazy to trek out to the market again, and partly because I could never regret a little less fat.

Admittedly, kiboshing a key ingredient was a gamble along the lines of playing only one bingo card while the rest of the place is jam packed with players playing no less than four. If it’s not a good one, you’re pretty much limited, and there won’t be any options for saving your game. Still, I felt I would be able to offset the loss by using top-notch Romano, which I conveniently had on hand. Romano is my golden-chip, go-to fixer. If anything isn’t quite up to par, adding a little taste-bud glitter of this glorious cheese makes it palatable. Because not every meal is a rousing success, I’ve managed to save quite a few really-shouldn’t-even-make-it-to-my-dinner-plate disasters with this method of disguise. Because, waste not, want not.

Spinach improv has taught me learned a few interesting things.

When changing a recipe from 1 cup of leaf greens to 3 cups of leafy greens the natural result will be heavier and pastier than a light, delicate pesto.

I’m not disappointed. In fact, I think it will be more adaptable that way. Still, at the time, I had two recipe’s worth of super-bright pseudo pesto to preserve somehow. Most sites recommended use of an ice cube tray. I’ve found it to be tried and true with extra tomato sauce, chicken broth, or even pureed watermelon.

I now have a dozen cute little, big-on-taste, thick and tasty spinach pesto cubes. I will use them all.

I’ve been kicking around a few ideas. Others I’ve already experimented with.

I added one just-made tablespoon of Spinach Pesto to one tablespoon of bottled Kraft Sweet & Complex Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing. It was nice and mellow, and didn’t override or clash with my dinner-sized baked chicken and spinach salad.

I also envision creaming a defrosted cube with sour cream or naturally sour Greek yogurt for a snappy, savory dip. I suspect spooning over chicken before baking, will be lovely. I’m growing fonder of an oven baked, crispy chicken wing scenario. A water-thinned drizzle will perk up the plain things.

I’d like to try it on rosemary crackers with a sprinkling of additional cheese, or as an unusual sandwich condiment. I’ve seen rational suggestions recommending adding a cube to tomato or Alfredo sauce before warming.

Of course, it would make an awesome plain-old bread dip –paired with a little splash fresh olive oil, a squirt of lemon, and cracked black pepper.

There you have it, and here’s what you have to know to succeed at kitchen bingo:

Only take advantage of sales that make sense.

Do what you can, with what you have.

Fix it up with cheese, if necessary.

Adapt. Create. Enjoy!

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Quote for the week:

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”

― Julia Child

 Enjoy this week’s discovery links:

Blanch-less Freeze: http://momonamission.me/how-to-freeze-fresh-spinach-2-ways/

Spinach’s surprising benefits and drawbacks: http://n-h-metclub.blogspot.com/2012/08/pros-and-cons-of-daily-spinach-diet.html

Julia Child: A Little Advice on Cooking and a Lot More on Important Stuff: http://leitesculinaria.com/76678/writings-interview-with-julia-child.html

Happily Romano: http://www.food.com/library/romano-cheese-496

Adapt Create Enjoy  05 03 2014

(Click to enlarge recipe)

Spinach Pesto Adapt Create Enjoy  05 03 2014(Click to enlarge recipe)