Friday, February 10, 2017

Complications of Life

An imaginative journalist writes in our Sunday newspaper.
He has just written on the advantages of divesting ourselves of gadgets large and small.
We are rather in advance of his recommendations.
He suggests that we do without a second car. We no longer even have a first one. But we are blessed with an excellent public transport system, almost at our door.
He says, and must know, that coffee machines are complicated, need much attention, and contribute to considerable waste pollution.
We can tell him that to make the best real coffee you do not need a machine. Just get a supplier of roasted coffee beans to grind your favourite kind on the Turkish ground setting. Then it is a simple matter to put a teaspoon or so of this into cup or mug and over it pour boiling water. Stir once to settle the grounds and add whatever is to your taste. There will be residual grounds at the bottom of the cup or mug, but that is a minor inconvenience en route to obtaining the best coffee simply and at a reasonable price.
Most machinery in the house can cause trouble, expense and wasted time. I am the dishwasher that works, and can do it quickly with the minimum of hot water and with no extra fossil fuel power - only using my own manpower. But I do need the help of nature by soaking crocks, etc. in a sink of detergenty water overnight, thus loosening and softening any adhering food. The resultant clean crockery, cutlery and pans, are then stacked in a draining basket and rinsed with hot water before drying naturally. Cutlery is then stored within sight in a divided container as used in restaurants.
(Margreet uses a clothes washer and dryer.) 

As for those myriad electronic internet gadgets, that seem to try everyone’s patience, Margreet suffers like the rest. And here is where I cheat a bit. I write on a Windows 95 and transfer my words to her Apple via a 3 ½” floppy disk. She is pleased to transfer my words to the ether as she, like most people now, are cleverly hooked.
Our approach to the television is that everything is missable. But for our New Year’s picnic feast in bed, we did find an annually viewed short film from the internet. This brief comedy, featuring Freddie Frinton some years ago, is much loved on the continent and called “Dinner for One”. So stored items on the computer did come to our aid for the celebration.
Of course, in reality, to give up electronic communication in this day and age would, for those on the net, make life both tedious and slow. There’s no going backwards, leaving those of us who believe that simplicity is the key to a happy life to struggle a bit, such as payments via the net being sometimes obligatory. But to call for transport by car, which usually takes less than 4 minutes, and not having to tip the driver, is, to me, a real bonus.
Back to objects around us. Which ones do I treasure and that are failure-free? A hand-operated soup Mouli is a wonderful way of turning mixed ingredients into delicious soup, leaving behind unwanted fibres. A blender for such, chews up everything, often producing a sludge or slime of liquid. But I do use my blender to make breadcrumbs from oven-baked slices of bought white bread. And in it I powder porridge and bran to mix with melted kidney fat for my half coconuts that provide wild birds with winter sustenance.
An electric coffee grinder is used not for coffee but for dry spices with which to make curries. Lately I have used it as the French do for foie gras, by grinding green peppercorns and sea salt to make a condiment. This mixture is also excellent as a dip  for hard boiled eggs, such as quails’ eggs.
Our slow cooker does just that at a mark of 1 ½. Ingredients are put into it and forgotten for hours – depending on the contents. It also cooks slices of aubergine at its maximum heat, on the grill pan part, for a first course, when oil, salt and oregano are then added.
Our toaster doubles up as a heater for Arab bread when each half slice is opened up and devilled eggs added. (Devilled eggs just being scrambled eggs with Dijon mustard.)
An electric kettle, made of toughened glass has been a huge success, showing just how much hot water is wanted and when it is coming to the boil. What scale and impurities form inside are quite visible and can be emptied out.

So I really have moved with the times in some respects, but still maintain that we can rid ourselves of unnecessary encumbrancies, and that simplicity leads to a happier life.