Okay, my bad. This should have been posted a few weeks ago. I started a draft early, thinking that when the day came I’d be able to hit “publish”, tweet out the URL, and I’d be all set. I never finished the draft, though, because I got seriously derailed by an office move, the holidays, and…
I spent the first couple of weeks of 2017 in London, England in observance of my 50th birthday – because, as I came to realize, staying home in Cambridge just would not have been appropriately grim. The trip was a real mixed bag. The weather was kind of awful, as is traditional in London in January, but not so awful that we were sorry we missed a snowstorm and frigid temperatures back home. We stayed in Whitechapel and enjoyed exploring London’s East End and beyond, seeking out historic sites and good food, but spending the bulk of each day wearing my coat made me feel like an exile. We walked around a lot, enough that I found it tiring, but the flat where we were staying felt close and dreary, and Bryan went out for walks after I was done for the day because he wanted to spend as little time there as possible. The trip ended in a dispute with the owner of the flat over the towels, which had inexplicably discolored in the course of normal use and cost us an extra £50 and any positive feelings we might have had for the place.
We got home late on the night of January 16, and I’ve been catching up on a bunch of things – work, the DVR, the news, sleep – since then. Actually, I haven’t had to spend much time catching up on the news, because I had my iPad with me and access to social media, so I got to hear all about then-PEOTUS’s peccadilloes in the run-up to the inauguration. It was on my birthday that the intelligence reports with “salacious details” hit the news, and far too often that big orange face was on the front pages of the newspapers we saw people reading while riding the tube. This did not exactly fill me with pride as an American.
Inauguration day ended up being sadder than I’d expected, not as bad as the day after the election, but still a rough day. I couldn’t stomach watching the ceremony or our new POTUS’s address, but I read a transcript of the address. It really was dark. Someone should have yelled out “Lighten up, Francis!” at some point, because the whole thing was a total drag for just about everyone except Trump, who was clearly meant to be the hero of the piece. Sad.
Casting about for mitigating humor, I enjoyed the silliness of that obviously staged photo he tweeted with the claim that it showed him writing his inauguration speech. What tipped me off to the sheer bogosity of the thing: nobody gets stuck into a heavy writing job in formal business wear. Someone could at least have told him to take off his jacket and roll up his shirtsleeves. I myself typically write in pajama bottoms and a sweatshirt. Maybe if he’d written the speech in, say, silk pajamas, it wouldn’t have been so grim. (*wink* Yes, I know he didn’t actually write it himself.)
Then I was briefly cheered by attending the Boston Women’s March the day after the inauguration. As we know now, attendance was far larger than organizers had anticipated, and strains on Boston’s public transit system made it challenging to get together with the people we were supposed to be meeting, but that was a good problem to have. I was proud to be part of what turned out to be a truly “yuge” worldwide protest, and heartened and humbled by, and deeply grateful for, all the support we had from outside the U.S.
We’d barely had time to catch our breath when our rickety car headed down the next long, steep slope on the political roller-coaster. It’s been such a long couple of weeks since the inauguration. MIT is one place that I would guess has been disproportionately affected by the immigration ban, and even my colleagues who aren’t from the seven named countries are feeling anxious. I’ve never been so deeply ashamed of the government that purports to represent me. It’s not a good feeling.
So it’s been a little difficult to focus on Jell-O lately. It seems so trivial – but I know that staying focused on current events can only lead to burnout. We all need a break once in a while.
I remember Pastel Candied Fruit Peel relatively well, probably because the candy recipes are more interesting to make. I kind of wish I’d decided to make it again, because it turned out to be time-consuming and I think it would have been soothing to do. The fruit peel came from three large grapefruits (the book specifies that they should be “free from blemishes”) which had to be juiced and boiled for 15 minutes before the pulp and pith were removed.
I cut the peel into strips, boiled them for another 15 minutes, and then cooked them in a Jell-O-and-sugar syrup seasoned with cinnamon and cloves for 50 minutes. (The recipe says to use any flavor of Jell-O. I don’t remember what I used. I think it was probably lemon.) At that point, the syrup had gotten quite thick, and I had to work very quickly, tossing the sticky peels in dry sugar a few at a time. The syrup cooled quickly and formed strings as I worked my way through the peels. It was a pain to work with, but at the same time it was the sort of work that requires focused, almost meditative, concentration, which is so good for the mind and spirit.
This was another one that made the kitchen smell like a Cracker Barrel, not a terrible thing. I guess it kind of tasted like a Cracker Barrel, too, which is always a little strange. There’s something about the flavorings of Jell-O gelatin that makes the flavors of spices taste unbalanced. Still, Bryan and I agreed that it only rated one “nasty”; that is, it was among the least offensive recipes in the book.
So you know, I’m actually caught up on the cooking part of the blog. I’d left myself a free week after my vacation, so now I’m just a little behind on the writing, but I’m shooting to get caught up this weekend. You’d think this writing jazz was hard or something…
Get your hiking boots on – we’re back to Memory Lane.
Once again, I have no specific memory of this recipe, similar as it is to a few other ginger-ale/orange Jell-O combos. I’ve never cared much for artificial orange flavor, and this election season has given me a downright aversion to that bright orange color. (Shouldn’t an alleged billionaire be able to afford a better grade of fake tan?)
Yes, I’m back to stressing about the election. This year, for the first time, my state is allowing early voting, and it started October 24. Last week (on Hillary Clinton’s birthday), I went and voted at lunchtime, and despite low expectations, I felt a lot better. I’d done what was in my power to do. I tweeted this photo with the message “Suck it, Trump!” The polls were showing Clinton with a solid lead, and it seemed as though a crisis had been averted.
Then last Friday Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah and part-time Eddie Munster impersonator) sent out his misleading tweet about the Comey memo, and we were back in the swamp. The more liberal-leaning media have characterized as “a nothingburger” the FBI’s decision to resume the Clinton email investigation with whatever might be found on Huma Abedin’s computer, and it’s hard to imagine something like this swaying a lot of undecided voters at this point, but polls are showing Clinton’s lead narrowing. Eager as I am at this point to see Election Day come and go, it’s hard to see how things are going to get better as of November 9. Either we end up with a Trump presidency (god forbid) or Clinton wins by a narrow margin and the people who are convinced that “the system is rigged” refuse to accept the election results – and even if no one attempts “a Second Amendment solution”, Republicans in the legislature will most likely continue the obstructionism they’ve been practicing under President Obama.
I don’t think I’ve ever had a time when I so badly wanted to just be sedated until it’s all over, and I’m getting a little desperate in my attempts to keep my spirits up. I just discovered the face-altering feature in Snapchat, and I’ve been cracking myself up taking selfies of me as a bat, a drag queen, a pug dog. Face swap with random photos on my phone is also a hoot, though Bryan really doesn’t like the one I did with his picture. I think he’s getting a little worried about me.
At least I’m still carrying on with the Jell-O.
Although I have no memory of Zesty Ginger-Fruit Salad, I do still have notes. It was number 53, just a few recipes before the original Project came to a screeching halt. I doubt this one was one of the last straws, though.
This was a pretty simple one, though apparently not as quick to make as I was expecting, just orange Jell-O made with ginger ale, and grapefruit and orange pieces. I was dubious that this Jell-O salad would be “zesty”, and indeed I wound up deeming it “fairly inoffensive”, a “breakfast Jell-O”. The grapefruit cut the sweetness of the Jell-O (always a good thing), but the orange pieces were too pithy. It got me thinking about online acquaintance* and loyal reader Jack, who lives in California and is fortunate to have a number of citrus trees on his property. This would have been so much better with fresh citrus.
This weekend I have a relatively pleasant Jell-O recipe to make. It’s good to have things to look forward to…
* I hope he’s okay with this qualification. I’ve never met him in person.