Mark Bittman, you're killing me. I made your Spaghetti and Meatballs with hope in my heart and I made it in 30 minutes! (times 2.5)
I completely understand your argument that mise-en-place is an overly fussy step for home cooks. The only time a home chef needs to have everything ready is for stir-fries where everything comes together rapidly. The preparation of the mise-en-place works well in a restaurant where a cook is moving all the time and has several different dishes going. If a restaurant chef has a moment after something has started, they better get going on the next order. If I prep everything ahead of time that means I'll have small six to ten minute breaks between recipe steps which sounds terribly annoying. I could either do a few six minutes chores and forget to stir the onions or I could prep along the way.
Have you ever wondered how to make it rain? The folks at Home Grown New Mexico may have figured it out. For the second year in a row the Kitchen Garden and Coop Tour has concluded with a downpour. I can't think of a more fitting end to a tour of permaculture gardens, water catchment systems and chicken coops than a powerful rainstorm.
Stuff breaks. This is a fact of life. But, is that stuff fixable?
Here are two recent examples of broken items from our home, a storm door latch and coffee grinder. The storm door was fixed by replacing the inside latch. The coffee grinder wasn't fixable (yes, I took it apart to attempt a repair). The coffee grinder, although it lasted 25+ years, is disposable. The storm door was designed with replaceable parts (latch, handle, screen, etc.)
I am a big DIY nerd. Sometimes that leads to complicated, long term projects that take over your life. Fortunately, some DIY projects are ridiculously quick and easy. Case in point: roasting coffee. While I'm not a coffee connoisseur, I grind my own beans and we have four types of coffee makers (drip, moka pot, french press, pourover). I had read many self-described coffee geeks wax rhapsodic about roasting their own coffee. Frankly, I was leery of over-complicating my simple morning coffee habit.
Getting away for a weekend of camping always seems like a hassle, until the tent is pitched and sleeping bags are unrolled. We were packed and rolling out of town by 3pm on Friday toward a state park about 2.5 hours away which minimized traffic and stress. We also enjoyed the comforts of a developed campsite. True backcountry camping will wait until all family members can carry their own backpack. Clear starry skies, frosty cold mornings, sunny hikes and 48 news-free hours helped to clear our frazzled minds.
One week ago a fierce thunderstorm hit our neighborhood and it started with a vicious hailstorm. I was in the middle of a project and could do nothing to save the tender annuals in our garden. While the corn survived, most of the chiles, tomatoes, beans and squash were shredded. Many of the perennials are already looking better, but I still need to decide what plants will be replaced this season.
I'm thrilled to have the precipitation, I just wish it had all come as rain. Ugh.
The Southwest isn't wet in the best of times and during a drought, like Right Now, it is downright parched. How do you keep a garden growing when the rain doesn't fall? We have to irrigate, but how can we irrigate effectively with scarce water? Drip irrigation is one modern answer, but ancient people had a simpler version of the same idea.
Since it is Memorial Day, we had to grill. It's summer, man! I also had a strong urge to make potato salad. We left the mayonnaise in the refrigerator and went with an herb vinaigrette. However, here is where it gets hinky. The original recipe called for 4 pounds of potatoes to a vinaigrette that contained just 4 tablespoons of herbs (specifically parsley, chives, and basil). All I can say to that is: pikers.
I hate to throw away "perfectly good" things even when they're a bit scruffy. Case in point, my road bike. I bought this bike from a friend many years ago and have put quite a few miles on it. After a couple of years I re-painted it and replaced some worn parts. Well, after a decade or so of riding it desperately needed another overhaul. Now I have a friend with powdercoating equipment and I've restored the bike to better than ever.