Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Drilling for sauce

Mr. Handsome likes to invent things to make life simpler. He always says he should’ve been born in—

Wait. What period was it? Hang on a sec while I call him up on the phone:

***

Me, with zilch introduction: You always said you should’ve been born in a different time period. What was it?

Him: Huh?

Me: Just answer the question.

Him: I don’t know. The eighteen hundreds, or the colonial period.

Me: Why?

Him: I don’t know. Do we have to have this conversation right now?

Silence.

Him: I guess we do. Uh, because my skill set is suited for that period? I don’t know. Don’t quote me.

Irritated pause. Banging hammer in the background.

Him: Is that it?

Me: Yep! Thanks. Bye.

***

So there you have it: the colonial period.

A small sample of his inventions include:

1. When we lived in Nicaragua we were practically back in colonial times. We built our house with nary a power tool in sight. (This means we sawed the beams by hand. And we planed the beams by hand. Our hands just about fell off.) We had to haul our water from a well that was 100 yards away, down in a ravine, and instead of doing what the other men did when they got stuck with the women’s work of carrying water—they hauled it in five-gallon buckets, the heavy buckets bouncing awkwardly against their legs (the women carried buckets on their heads)—my inventive husband crafted a wooden yolk to wear across his shoulders, a rope dangling down from each end and a bucket hooked to the end of the rope. He carried hundreds upon hundreds of buckets of water that way.

2. Also in Nicaragua, we had a hammock by our bed for Baby Yo-Yo. Mr. Handsome strapped a belt to it so that we could lay down and rest while periodically tugging on the belt to keep the baby asleep, or to make him go back to sleep. I liked that one.

3. Currently, my concrete counter top has a drain hole in it underneath the drainer. This way I don’t need the (so often moldy, slimy, gunked-up) rubber mat that drainers sit on. I can just set my soppy dishes directly into the drainer and the water drips down onto the counter and then runs into the little drain hole. It’s one of my favorite things about my kitchen.

Those are just three random examples. There are dozens more.

Note: Not all of our life is ease and comfort. Among the many glitches is our stairless attic. To get to the third floor (storage space only), a person (never me, always Mr. Handsome) has to shimmy up through the little hole in the ceiling using whatever is at hand—door/chimney/oddball furniture—to give a boost up. It's crazy difficult and drives me mad when I think about it for too long.

Another area that Mr. Handsome likes to fiddle with and improve upon is My Kitchen At Canning Time.

(Alert! Alert! Random, totally off-track thought: Is Mr. Handsome’s name sexist? I always hate it when men refer to their wives as “my beautiful wife,” as though that’s their main asset. But yet I’ve gone and named my husband based on his appearance. So I must be sexist? Discuss.)

Back to canning and Mr. Husband (the Handsome One).

We often butt heads over his constant piddling with my methods (ha! we're buttheads!), but lots of times it works out fine. And it’s only fair that he has a say in the canning process seeing as he does fifty percent of the work (or more), depending on the project at hand. He hooks up hoses so I can have (hot, sometimes) water on the porch, moves tables around, creates makeshift tarp roofs to keep out the sun, and so on. Last year when we did applesauce he came up with a new apple-coring method. (His apple-cutting/smashing method wasn't as successful. You can't win them all!)

Last Saturday morning, applesauce-making day, I ran errands in town, leaving Mr. Handsome at home to set up the whole process. The night before (while I was living it up in town with my girlfriends, eating enormous dinners and attending a magnificent theater production of Wild Oats), he had already washed the four bushels of apples.

When I returned home mid-morning, already there were bowls of steaming applesauce, kettles of chopped apples burbling away on the stove, and more cooked apples in the process of getting cranked through the mill.


Except they weren't getting cranked. They were getting drilled.


Eeeeeeee! Eeeeeeee! EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!


I stared, confused. Mr. Handsome pointed to the mill, his face wreathed in grins. With just one trigger-happy finger, the cooked apples were getting sucked down into the mill and the hot sauce came pouring down the shoot.


This is what happens when carpenters make applesauce.


We got the applesauce done in record-time this year—about nine hours total. All the kids worked hard—hauling buckets of water, running more jars up from the basement, squeezing the drill, filling and lidding jars, cutting apples—but this kid busted his tail all day long.








I didn’t touch a knife the entire day and I never even stirred a kettle of apples. This, my friends, is my definition of progress.

*Some of the photos courtesy of Yo-Yo Boy.

This same time, years previous: Peach and/or Nectarine Tart (I HIGHLY recommend the nectarine version) and Thoughts on Breastfeeding

7 comments:

  1. Now that I think about it... "This is my lovely wife is such a weird thing to say... Do people ever say "here is my UGLY wife... but hey she can cook a mean post roast?"

    Maybe during the canning season he could be called "Me Helpful."

    I find it amazing that your husband not only HELPED... but canned applesauce... My husband doesn't even know where the dinner plates are in our house (no joke)... In fact I came home tonight at 9 pm and asked... "Did you eat dinner yet?" You know what he said? He said "NO... I was waiting for you (TO FIX DINNER)... So I walked into the house... took out 4 boxes of cereal and put them on the table... and said "Dinner's ready"... So I stand in awe that your Mr. Handsome was/is actually able to make applesauce!

    It's a freakin miracle if you ask me.

    I'd say he's a keeper!

    ReplyDelete
  2. So that's how you had time to make two pans of peach cobbler on applesauce-making day! I think Mr. Helpful is a good name. I'll bet he'd like that one.

    Maybe I should call mine Mr. Helpful too. He's making applesauce with our girls this evening and all I have to do is make sure the jars are clean and ready.

    ReplyDelete
  3. My dear girl,
    Thats okay if I call you that, right? Because, really you are dear to me and I don't even remember now how I found you or survived without you. I just have to chime in every once in awhile to say how I envy your life. It's all so...
    hmmm... lovely and idealistic. Mr. Handsome is oh so helpful. Did you train him or did he come to you this way? I love your children and their wild imaginations, creativity, love of the outdoors and reading, and how helpful they are as well. When I talk about a recipe or book you've read, etc. my husband says, "oh, this must be from your Amish friend". Are you even Amish? It seems like I read that at one time, but I may be mistaken. If you are, I would like to know more. Please email me at meshanf@hotmail.com. Oh, and when you have your donut party next year can I come?

    Sincerely,
    Your weird Nevada blog stalker

    ReplyDelete
  4. My dear weird Nevada blog stalker,

    I laughed out loud, reading your comment. Several times, in fact. Hoo-boy, you are GOOD.

    1. You may call me "dear."
    2. My husband came to me this way, though he didn't know how to can or make applesauce when I met him (I don't think).
    3. I am not Amish. I am Mennonite.
    4. My husband did not know the difference between Amish or Mennonite when he met me. He was Catholic.
    5. I really, really, REALLY want to have a donut party this fall and if I do, you most certainly may come. Though our property looks so ragged and woebegone that I don't know how we'll ever be able to throw a party and maintain the illusion that we live an idyllic life. Some things may have to be sacrificed and I hope it's not the donuts.
    6. Comment more! You make me smile!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Haha! Whoops! I totally meant Mennonite!! I was just curious because the Mennonite people I see in New Mexico(where I'm originally from) don't seem to look or act like your family. I really need some enlightenment.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Meshan, There are all different sorts of Mennonites. We're an oddball group of people. This site has lots of information: http://bit.ly/91UGc6

    ReplyDelete
  7. The drill is a fabulous idea. I'm telling Jame about it- good thing we haven't done our applesauce yet:-).

    Oh, and about the donut party. I vote you have one. And invite me?:-)

    ReplyDelete