Archive for September, 2011

Ode to the Shishito Pepper

If I were to devise my perfect day, it would most certainly end with the eating of oysters and shishito peppers – outdoors – at the Mermaid Inn.  I first came across the shishito at the sushi restaurant we frequent after most school meetings or parent-teacher conferences.  Similar to the “Pimientos de Padrón” found in tapas bars across Spain, shishitos are a mild pepper, grilled or pan-fried until they are blistered, best served with sea-salt and lime.  They are an addictive finger-food and exciting to eat as every so often you get one hot enough to make your eyes water.  This year, I noticed them popping up at our farmer’s market in August and decided we should try making them ourselves.  So I bought a bunch and brought them to a barbecue where we threw them onto the grill with the corn.

Once they were blistered, we pulled them off and they were gone in five minutes flat.  My only regret was not buying more.  I started stalking the one farmstand that offers them in my neighborhood and we started grilling them on the stovetop, too. All you need to do is heat some oil (olive or grape seed) in a skillet – we used cast-iron – and cook the peppers until they are almost blackened.  Toss them with some salt and squeeze on some lime and you are good to go.  As the season wears on, the peppers ripen a bit and the last batch we bought had turned almost all red:

I was concerned that this would somehow make them really spicy and hard to eat in large quantities, but the flavor was more or less the same.  Shishito season is August and September, so you if you see them at your local market, get them while you can. Even my five-year-old loves them!

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The State of the Kitchen

I must admit, I fall into the category of people who swore that when they had kids their home “would not be taken over by all that awful plastic crap”.  Noooooo, our home would be free of Barbies and their spawn.  Our living room would retain its elegant appointment (IKEA circa 2007 and the random family heirloom) and our children would play with lovely wooden toys and Waldorf-inspired dolls.  Flash forward to 2011.  I step on legos as a matter of course.  My daughter has caught on to the reality that her dolls are not actual “American Girl”dolls, and our youngest routinely de-robes the Barbies and places them in unique “tableaux” all over the apartment.  Sigh.  I reach for a tomato and pick up a faux-Ken doll instead. I know I will miss this in ten  years.

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What would Ben Franklin do?

In keeping with the theme of To-Do lists, I can’t help but post this image of Ben Franklin’s daily schedule that has been floating around the web for some time now:

I love its elegant simplicity, but I can’t help but think how much it doesn’t look like the lists I make.  I mean, where is the grocery list, the overdue wedding and baby gifts to send, the after-school club to sign up for, or the laundry detergent? Of course, all those questions were answered when I came across Ben Franklin’s wife’s daily schedule. Mystery solved.

Elsewhere on the web, there are a few sites devoted to the art of the list.  One of my favorites is, Daily Routines, a compendium devoted to the schedules of interesting people.  The blog hasn’t been updated in quite a while because they are working on a book, but if you want to know how Simone de Beauvois, Charles Darwin, and Le Corbusier organized their days, this is your resource, and I am look forward to the book.  Pretty Listed is a Tumblr site that collects images of various lists and schedules.  It appears to be a great idea that hasn’t gained momentum yet, but I would love to see more submissions there.  And finally, I couldn’t resist the beauty of these lists featured on designer, Melissa Easton’s blog, Mrs. Easton.  Take a look.

Anything else?

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To-do lists and other things we write down on scraps of paper.

Janice Lowry, To-Do List, July 5, 2003

Once again, Domaphile has been on a bit of a hiatus due to late summer vacations, hurricanes and the back to school frenzy.  Lately the only kind of writing that is getting done is the utilitarian:  the making of lists, the filling out of forms, and the writing of checks.
I like to dabble in organization.  That is not to say I am actually organized, but I like the trappings of order.  Of course, as a librarian my job is to create order out of chaos, and in libraries there is a structure in place to make that happen.  At home it’s a free-for-all.  I happen to be a compulsive and inveterate list maker with a really specific system that involves a completely redundant combination of my planner and post-it notes. Not just any post-its, but the yellow 2 ⅞ by 4 ⅞ variety. If they stopped making that size, my world would fall apart.  I write almost everything down on said post-its, in no particular order, so my list often reads something like:

  •   marjoram
  • school supplies
  •  terrarium sand
  • moss- Central park?
  • worms!
  •  airplants???,
  • find hat
  • fix camera
  • sitter for 30th
  • red tights
  • elec. bill
  • EKG for cat

When the note gets too full and things get crossed out, I (gasp) re-write it, which I have heard is totally counter-productive to actually being organized.  But there is something about the act of making the list that almost feels like doing the thing itself… until later, when the list is long and the things are never done – that’s when the list can turn on you.

I am fascinated by the way people organize the minutiae of their daily lives.  Do they use planners? Digital apps like Priorities or Tasks or Things? I love me some Google Calendar, but I can’t quite get with the Tasks app.  I’m still wedded to the post-its.  Not long ago, I met with a fellow post-it using librarian friend (Yes, there are at least two of us out there…) and we went to the Morgan Library to see how artists organize their daily lives through the exhibit:  Lists: To-dos, Illustrated Inventories, Collected Thoughts, and Other Artists’ Enumerations from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art.  It’s a small, easily digestible exhibition that gives a glimpse into the daily lives of people known more for sweeping gestures of high art than for stopping by the store on the way home.  I love that Franz Kline’s 1960 grocery list included corn flakes, eggs, bananas and V-8.  And I swooned over painter Adolf Konrad’s packing list for a trip abroad where instead of writing everything down he sketched it out. Complete with a drawing of himself in his underwear:

Adolf Konrad, packing list, December 16, 1963. Adolf Ferdinand Konrad papers, 1962–2002. Archives of American Art. Smithsonian Institution.

The exhibit includes all kinds of lists and enumerations, from Picasso’s handwritten list of recommendations for the Armory show to Arthur Dove’s list of abbreviations for the weather to Eero Saarinen’s most beautiful list of the qualities he found best about his wife.  But my favorites of all were the journals of Janice Lowry,  an artist I wasn’t familiar with until this show .  She intertwined her daily to-do lists with the journals she kept for over 30 years into beautiful collages that celebrate that mundane compulsion to write it all down.  Everything from buying stamps to listing all the people she needed to forgive. She died too young, but her lists are something to aspire to.  If you want to see them for yourself, the Morgan show runs until October 3rd.  Check it out and make a list.  Fall seems to be the season of organization – what do you use to keep it all together?

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