Saturday, September 10, 2016

Thoroughly cooked and partially digested

Granola is a contemporary of the ClockTower itself. In the 1800's a man named Sylvester Graham developed graham flour from which he baked crackers. (duh) In 1863, Dr. James C. Jackson of New York used graham flour to create a health food he called "granula".  

Then, in 1876, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (name ring a bell?) came up with a whole-grain breakfast food he also called "granula".  Dr. Jackson was not amused and being from New York, he promptly sued. Mr. Kellogg changed the name of his product to "granola" and a hippie legend was born. Speaking of hippie legends, I make my own.

For a reasonable sized batch start with 4 cups of raw oats.
I like adding a cup of wheatgerm, too. It’s good for you.

Nuts are essential. I start with 2 cups of raw almonds….

….and add another cup and a half of pecans. 

Dump it all together into a big pot.

Now we add honey and canola oil, but here’s a trick for working with the honey.

If your cup measure is only a 2 cup size as mine is, add the liquids in two batches, measure one half cup of the oil first and slosh it all around to coat the inside of the measuring cup, then on TOP of the oil, bring it up another 1 cup of honey. See how the heavier honey displaces the oil to the top?

Dump it in, the honey will slip right out from the oil coating. Now do it again, but this time with less honey, about 2/3’s cup. Combined, that’s one cup of canola oil, about 1 and 2/3’s cups of honey.

Mix it all around really well until all the oats are coated and then turn it out onto a cookie sheet.

Spread it flat and put it in a 325 degree oven. Now keep an eye on it.

After awhile it will gain color and the liquids will start moving towards the corners.

Take it out and turn the granola over, mix it all about with a big spatula. Then put it back into the heat.
Usually about three cycles of this heat-turn-heat-turn will do it, there’s no formula, just brown it until it reaches the color you like but do not let it burn.

Let it cool and then scrape it off with a good spatula. Some folks like it a little oiler, some a little sweeter. If you make it with a little more honey the scraping grows more challenging.
But that’s it, just break it up and store it in the fridge. If you want fruit like dried apricots or cranberries or raisins, add them after it’s done. If you mistakenly mix them in early and bake them they will come out like little rocks, so add them after it has cooled.
I like this stuff.

It’s perfect with a cut up apple on nonfat, plain yogurt. 
This ad is from 1893.

"Thoroughly cooked and partially digested." 

Friday, September 9, 2016

Wanna take you higher

The first week of September 1969 held a lot of “firsts” for me. I was 17 and it was my first week away at college, the first time I didn’t live in my Father’s house, my first live performance by Sly and the Family Stone and my first marijuana cigarette. Sly was playing in our fieldhouse that night and my dorm was awash in underage beer and pot. How great!...we were going to a show.

Problem was, our little predominantly white state college was nestled in a very black, very poor Pennsylvania city. The field house held only 1500 and the tickets sold out in minutes. Sly was a rising star in the fall of ‘69. No one on campus was going to miss him.
But understandably, the community was outraged. Here was one of their own coming to town and they couldn’t even get inside. They threatened to disrupt the show but Sly went on anyway, an hour late as always, but Sly and the Family played.

I was up in the mezzanine with a bunch of my new pals, entranced by the music and so surprised when the drummer pulled off his rubber gorilla mask revealing he was a white guy. Everything felt racially charged that night, but the show was just stupendous. And then disaster struck.

We didn’t know it up in that mezzanine but a large and violently angry crowd had gathered outside the fieldhouse doors, no doubt listening to the muffled music and seething deep inside. Suddenly the field house doors exploded inward and planks of wood went flying over the heads of the kids on the floor. An army of incensed fury piled in and metal folding chairs began to sail across the room.
There were actually dozens of undercover cops in plain clothes throughout the gym and more uniformed cops began to pour in.  Batons started flailing. People were screaming and trying to get out while others were falling to the floor. I saw blood on our basketball court.
What did Sly and the Family do? They kept right on playing through the melee, “I wanna take you hiiiiigher, (uh bump-bump) baybeh baybeh baybeh light mah fiiiiiuh……”

That night was so horrible, one of the most surreal nights in my life, still, even to this day I can’t forget it. The cops restored order and the show finished up but we kids filed back to our dorms in a kind of freaked-out stupor.
I realized that night how unfair this world is to everyone, and how we all have our own set of facts. 
And how privileged I was in my middle class skin to be safe in that mezz with a ticket-to-ride, watch oppression first hand through a maryjane haze, another of my firsts in the Fall of ’69. 

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

anything that can go wr...

Fans of New York City geography know the Harlem River---which flows right past our door--- connects the East River to the Hudson River northwest of here by Riverdale and makes Manhattan an island.

It turns out that all the Harlem River Bridges too low to pass under are built to swivel out of the way, beginning with this one at Spuyten Duyvil by the Hudson.

It carries the AMTRAK train line just feet above the water, and I was up on the Henry Hudson Bridge this Summer to watch it happen.

This railroad bridge appears to stay open to allow water traffic to ride in and out. 

Do you hear a train coming?

When the motors kick in the bridge shudders, then groans and starts to swing closed.

It aligns into place just...



Good thing the whole operation is probably timed by computers.

Anything that can go wr...^D^D panic[cpu#0] thread=0X30053e80:zero     dump aborted.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

before multitasking was cool

“Whoa. What the hell is that thing?”
“I dunno. Never saw one before.”
We were preparing demo for an interior design assignment the other day when we came upon this plastic artifact of Space-Age, nerdsome awesomeness.
In fact it’s the HOPESONIC HE-841, a combination AM FM radio, telephone and toilet paper holder, prized collector's item from about 1978.

We found daughter Judy’s iPhone! 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

color matters

The color term “sky blue pink” is uniquely American. The earliest examples appear in United States sources near the end of the nineteenth century, within a few years of our own ClockTower:
  • “Brilliant colors in masculine garb are beginning to appear in Paris. ... The innovation will be a boon to some of our young men, who will find ample exercise for their faculties in determining whether pea green or sky blue pink would better suit their various complexions.
  • The Haverhill Daily Bulletin, Massachusetts, 14 July 1881” 

More recent usage tends toward dismissive comment to the effect that color doesn’t matter:

  • “He said the fact that they were Irish had nothing to do with the situation and it would have made no difference whether they were green Martians or coloured sky blue pink.
  • BBC News, 12 May 2004.”

Color matters.