31 October 2011


It's Halloween, my man is back from five months in California, and we got some really strange cross-bred pumpkins from our garden. All of which has nothing whatever to do with each other, but I just thought I'd mention it.

On the topic of pumpkins, I hear this cross-breeding is a really common thing with them. The ones we got must be a cross between ordinary orange pumpkins and Sweet Dumpling squashes. Sweet Dumplings are little guys, no more than 5” across (there's one in the front right in the picture); the perfect single-serving squash, if you like that sort of thing.

Unfortunately, in my family I’m the only one who’ll eat cooked squash. That, my friends, is called an acquired taste. I never tasted squash until I came to Canada, and for starters, detested all of it, even the one dish my family does like (a lot): pumpkin pie. (It always makes me think of The Fat Ladies, Clarissa Dickson Wright and Jennifer Patterson, in one of their cooking shows: “...this pumpkin pie the Americans are all so fond of - never let an American near a pumpkin; dreadful things they do to them!” Hah. They certainly weren’t mealymouthed, those two. Too sad Jennifer had to go and die and put an end to that show. But Clarissa is still going strong, and writing excellent books on food and country living and her own life. If you haven’t read or seen any of her stuff, do check it out, even if you are an American, or Canadian, or German, or Any-other-an, who likes to do dreadful things to pumpkins. Heck, I do!)

The first time I tried pumpkin pie I thought “Eew!” The second time, it was “Hmm, not too horrible, especially slathered with whipped cream.” The third time, “I could get to like this!” And now I grow pumpkins in the garden specifically to make pie out of.

Our Jack-o-Lanterns usually get cooked down into pie fodder after the event, which is probably sacriligeous, but I do it anyway. This year, our largest pumpkin came from a volunteer plant which turned out to be one of those white ones - I call them ghost pumpkins, but I think technically the variety is called something like "New Moon". The flesh on that thing is a good two inches thick (it was really hard carving!), and bright orange; if it tastes as good as it looks, it would be a sacrilege not to make it into pies. It’ll be interesting to see if the funny crossbreeds are any good for pie. If not, at least they’re decorative.

Life, the Universe, and Cross-bred Pumpkins. Try acquiring a new taste today!

26 October 2011


I just learned about something new: Aebelskivers. You've known about these for years? Well, I didn't. And if it wasn't for Christopher, I still wouldn't. His theory is that they're a part of either some kind of sinister Danish plot for world domination, or else an equally sinister small-arms manufacturing scheme. I don't know about either of that. I think they're likely a part of some perfectly innocent pan-European plot for world domination.

Now, I've never tasted one of these things, but looking at the recipe, Aebelskivers appear to be a direct relative of Pfitzauf, Popovers, Yorkshire Pudding, Soufflé, Pancakes, Pfannkuchen, Blini, or Waffles, the main difference between all of these cake-like goodies being the language in which you yell at your children to get out from underfoot when you're making them, and possibly the pan or mould they're made in. Aebelskivers, Wikipedia informs me, are made in something resembling a cross between a muffin tin and a frying pan. I think I've seen things like that in thrift shops, and always assumed they were meant for poaching eggs. I know better now. Ah, the power of education.

Doing this deep and meaningful research on delectably fried flour-milk-egg concoctions has had the unfortunate side effect of making me want some. Good thing there isn't an Aebelskiver bakery right next to my house, or I'd go buy some right now. But then, if there was, I would have long known about them, and would not have had to go look them up on the Internet when I read about them on Christopher's blog, and would have been spared the craving which ensued, so therefore would not have gone and bought some from the entirely hypothetical bakery, after all. Which just goes to show. (I'm not sure what, but I'm sure it goes to show something).

Life, the Universe, and Danish Pancake-Like Thingies Which Sound Seriously Delicious. If you've got a pan to make them in, send some my way, would you?

24 October 2011


I won something! Yey! I went on Elle Strauss' blog, and left a comment, and got a prize! It's a copy of a book called "Pride & Popularity", a re-write of the world's greatest romance in an American high school setting. Apparently Jenni James originally didn't even set out to write a version of Austen, it just sort of happened. Should be interesting to read.

I imagine that for a writer of romances, a sure-fire way to garner a greater readership is to refer to Jane Austen somewhere in their writing. I wouldn't know, I've never tried writing romance. I don't think I could; I'd be too embarrassed. (You should have seen Steve's face when I suggested it. Well, yes, it looked exactly like it always does - he is a stuffed bear, after all. But I'm sure if synthetic fur could change colour, there would have been a decidedly pinkish tinge to it then.) I have the same issue whenever I have to write, or say, anything really deep or meaningful - I just can't do it. It's not that I don't feel the things, I just have a hard time saying them. Like with writing birthday cards. What I really mean is "You're such an incredibly wonderful person who has touched my heart deeply, and I wish you every conceivable happiness in which all your wishes come true and all your deepest desires are fulfilled!" but what comes out is "Happy, umm, birthday?"

I read somewhere that the English are so stiff-upper-lip because really, they're frightfully sentimental, so they have to be extra stiff to keep it under control (come to think of it, that sounds like something Lord Peter Wimsey would say; might well have been from one of those books). I think the same goes for Germans: we come across as hard-nosed because we're really just big marshmallows inside. It's not that we don't feel things, it's that we feel them too much. It's no accident that Germany produced Bach, Beethoven, Handel and Holbein: if your feelings are too strong to talk about, you need to give them sound or colour in some other way.

But that's not to say that every straight-faced person is frightfully sentimental inside; some are just unemotional blocks of ice. And some are teddy bears who really are stuffed with fluff. It's probably a good thing Steve can't blush - pink plush would clash with my favourite orange sweater.

Life, the Universe, and Romance. It is a truth universally acknowledged.

20 October 2011


"This is a book for the servantless American cook..." is how Julia Child starts her epic work, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". I've been re-reading Georgette Heyer's eminently amusing romantic mysteries, classic "Cozies" from the 1930's and 40's, and it struck me yesterday how very not-servant-less they all are in those books. Everybody has at least a butler, a cook, and usually a gardener, chauffeur and several maids (who tend to be prone to breaking dishes, coming over ever-so-queer, and twisting their hands nervously in their aprons when interviewed by the Inspector).

For Heyer, and her contemporaries and read-alikes such as Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers or Ngaio Marsh, there's always the intelligent and well-educated Scotland Yard Inspector or Private Detective, usually accompanied by Sergeant Sidekick of solidly-middle-class background who has a knack for putting servants at their ease and getting important bits of information out of them while taking his tea in the kitchen and flirting with the cook ("Get along with you, Sergeant, do! You're a one! Won't you 'ave another biscuit? They're ever so nice. But this murderin' business, that I don't 'old with, and never 'ave, and so I said to Mr Simms only this mornin'..."). Whatever would they do if a murder occurred in a house such as mine? Not a single, solitary servant to interview around here. None. There's just me, the servantless German-Canadian cook. And I'd take me apron off if an H'inspector h'approached me house, I would. Cross me 'eart and 'ope to die.

Fact is, all those Golden Age Mystery writers, they wrote about people just like themselves. Heyer and Christie had one child each, who were almost certainly taken off their hands by nannies and governesses or boarding schools; Marsh and Sayers lived their life as single women (Sayers' illegitimate son was raised by a cousin of hers). They likely never changed a diaper in their lives (and would have called them nappies, if they had, and certainly wouldn't have had to rinse the poop out of them, launder them, and hang them on the line to dry; that's what laundry maids were for). In the last Heyer book I read, "Blunt Instrument", there's a quirky young woman called Sally Drew (no relation of Nancy, as far as I can tell), who writes mystery novels and wears a monocle, no less. I'm sure she has A Room of Her Own, and probably even 500£ a year, or she wouldn't be able to saunter so nonchalantly through the pages of this novel, making the Inspector's life difficult with her amateur sleuthing which she then turns into novel plots herself. If she had to concern herself with actually doing the work which was entailed in the elaborate lifestyle of the upper middle classes of the day, if she was, in fact, servantless, she would simply have neither the time nor the energy to devote to such intellectual pursuits.

Julia Child appreciated all that. "This is a book for the servantless American cook," she continues, "who can be unconcerned on occasion with budgets, waistlines, time schedules, children's meals, the parent-chauffeur-den-mother syndrome, or anything else which might interfere with the enjoyment of producing something wonderful to eat" (MTAFC, 2001 edition, p. xxiii). It's a sobering thought that if Julia Child had had the deepest wish of her heart fulfilled - had been able to have children - she would have been too busy to do what she became famous for. She would not have needed to find herself something to do in Paris, would never have gone to the Cordon Bleu and learned to cook, would never have shared that gift with the rest of us. Being a servantless American, but one whose husband's position at the American embassy in Paris made it unnecessary for her to do the labour of keeping the two of them clothed, fed, and comfortable, she could go and learn. And write.

Life, the Universe, and servantless living. I can't help it, Sergeant, honest!

16 October 2011

Eclectic Tastes

I just read one of those books I picked up at the book sale, the pink one on the top of the stack in the picture. It's called "The Frog Princess", by E. D. Baker, and turns out to have been the inspiration behind Disney's "Princess and the Frog" movie. Inspiration only - there's not a whole lot of resemblance between the two stories, apart from the basic idea of a girl kissing a froggified prince and turning into a frog herself, and then having to find a way to un-froggify herself and the prince. In fact, they're both really nice stories based on that idea, each enjoyable in their own way. (Oh, cute: I didn't realize that it was Oprah Winfrey who did the voice for the princess' mother in the movie! The things you can find out online...)

Anyway, I picked up that book at the sale because it looked like it might be a fun read. And it was, too, so much so that I've now got the next two books in the series on hold at the library. They have something to do with breaking the curse on the princess' aunt's long-lost boyfriend, who, at the end of the first story, is left as a turquoise-coloured otter (yup - the book's called "Dragon's Breath"), and with breaking the curse on the princess' family's women, who are doomed to turn into hideous hags if sometime after their sixteenth birthday they touch any flower at all ("Once Upon a Curse"). I always like it when I find a good new series to read; this one is promising. Reminds me of the time when we found Patricia Wrede's "Dealing with Dragons" and its sequels, about a princess who doesn't want to learn such princessy skills as how to faint or how to be rescued, and runs away to become a dragon's housekeeper instead. I highly recommend it to strong-minded girls of any age, or ones who could use being a little more strong-minded, or any girl or boy who just likes a good story with dragons and knights and princesses and cooking and such-like.

Speaking of strong-minded, my other read today (other than "Snoopy's Guide to the Writing Life"), was "The Renaissance Soul" by Margaret Lobenstine. In case you're wondering, Renaissance Souls are people who have so many interests, they have a hard time choosing between them. They go to library book sales and pick up cookbooks, fantasy novels, gardening books, art books, travel guides, literature classics, and Snoopy books, with reckless abandon. (Stop snickering, people, I wasn't referring to myself. At all. Nope.) That's also known as having Eclectic Tastes, which is a handy thing to have, because it assures you never run out of things to do. It can also be a bit inconvenient, because it assures you never run out of things to do. Or read, for that matter. So much to read, so little lifetime!

Incidentally, Steve likes that "Frog Princess" book, too. Here is Benjamin reading it to him and Yorick. (Steve can read, of course, but it's a bit hard for him; I think he might be dyslexic.)

Life, the Universe, and Eclectic Tastes. What does your stuffed bear like to read?

14 October 2011

Book Sale

I just got back from the annual library book sale. Spent $39 (which is not too bad) on: Julia Child's cookbook and autobiography, a Snoopy book, "Eat, Pray, Love", xeriscape gardening, Cezanne, an illustrated biography of the Brontës, Diana Wynne Jones, Pratchett, Brian Jacques, some classics, Sister Wendy's "Nativity", "The Happiness Project", "Twinkie, Deconstructed", a book on British food, one on Kokoschka, and a couple of YA fantasies. Eclectic tastes - who, me? Naaah...

I spent a couple of bucks on a great big cookbook, a four-pounder, on wine and food: "A Matter of Taste" by Lucy Waverman and James Chatto. I've had this very same copy checked out of the library when I was still working there; the flyleaf has our local branch code and "Jan. '10" scribbled on it in my handwriting (no, I wasn't vandalising it; it was part of my job to mark when the book came into the branch). I remember shelving it, more than once, and putting it out on display so that others would take it out, too. And eventually I must have sent it back to Headquarters for reallocating to another branch, or even for weeding out of the system. And then it ended up in the book sale for the likes of me to take home for good. It's the kind of book that would easily cost $50 new. Library discard sales are the bargain of the year.

Of course now you're wondering if I'm actually going to read all those books I bought. And the simple answer is: you-gotta-be-kidding! Well, the novels, I bought them because either I've read them and liked them and want them for my collection (e.g. "The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents", a vintage-Pratchett spoof on the Pied Piper of Hamelin), or because they looked like they might be amusing. So those, yes, I'll read. Probably. Eventually. But the non-fiction, like the gardening or art books, I never read those. What I do with them is I look at the pictures ("[For] what is the use of a book," thought Alice, "without pictures or conversation?").

Even the cookbooks, I rarely actually cook out of them. I just use them for inspiration. I look at the luscious photo of Red-cooked Chicken in Mandarin Pancakes, drool over the idea of Aragula and Gorgonzola Spread (what is Aragula, anyway? Is it any relation of Aragog, Hagrid's giant arachnid pet?), sigh at the thought of Chocolate Passion with Mango Lime Sauce - and then go and serve up yesterday's leftovers (albeit with the gleam of inspiration in my eye). I really don't need to cook my way through Julia Child's "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and then write a blog about it; Julie Powell did an excellent job of that already.

Now, the real difficulty still lies ahead: where am I going to put my new acquisitions? I must build me bigger bookshelves... Library book sales are dangerous.

Life, the Universe, and library book sales. Live dangerously today.

11 October 2011


Steve won't speak to me. We spent the long weekend with family at the Coast, and I forgot him at home. Here he is, sitting on my bedside table, pouting. I'm really sorry, Steve, but someone had to stay home with the guppies! You know they get scared alone in the fish tank at night.

I didn't even notice that I had forgotten him until we were on our way home. We were heading for the mountains, when suddenly it crossed my mind that my trusty teddy was not with me in my bag. Those aren't small mountains we were heading for, either. It's a 230 km trip from one side to the other; the summit is at 1728 m. There's a special feeling to approaching that last exit on the freeway, that last chance you have to turn off and go back to the flatlands. You mentally run through the list: Gas? Check. Engine coolant? Check. Snacks? Check. Thermos bottle full of tea? Check. Teddy bear? Oops, forgot him!

It's just a little scary to know you're heading into the high mountains, and there won't be another chance to stock up on the essentials until you come back down on the other side. Scary - but also exhilarating. When you pull past that last turnoff, and the steep forests close in on the right and left of the freeway, you know you really are unequivocally on your way. You can't stay in the flatlands, avoiding the scary, lonely, barren mountains, if you want to get where you're going, get home where you belong. You have to take a deep breath, push down your foot on the gas, and just go.

There'll be semi trucks on the way blocking your lane (can't they go in the slow lane where they belong? Sheesh!); there'll be that spot on the side of the road where you got stuck just after 9/11 with four little kids in the car and had to get towed back to safety; there'll be the beauty of the wild river beside the road and the flaking granite of massive Zopkios Ridge, wreathed in a narrow necklace of cloud, towering over you on the left. You'll find yourself suddenly in the middle of a fog bank, barely able to see (haven't those people ever heard of putting on their headlights in a fog? Good grief!), and then just as suddenly have your view sweeping over valleys upon valleys as you crest the summit. And then, you're heading down the hill - faster than you like sometimes, having to put on the brakes to keep yourself from running away - and before you know it, you're out of the mountains. The Lake appears on your right, you sweep around the curve, merge onto the regular highway, and soon have to slow right down to city speed.

And then you're home. You drop the pizza you picked up on the way through town on the counter, kick off your shoes, put your bag into your room, and apologize to your teddy (who won't speak to you; but don't worry, he'll get over it). You wouldn't be here if you hadn't entered those mountains, if you had safely stayed in the flats. "High Mountain Road - Expect Sudden Weather Changes", the sign says. Yes, there are sudden weather changes up in those mountains. And you've got to get through them to get to where you're meant to be.

Life, the Universe, and high mountains to cross. I trust Steve will forgive me eventually.

08 October 2011


It's Thanksgiving Weekend. That's the time when we all sit around, eat turkey, and wrack our brains for things to be thankful for. Because, you know, the table groaning under all that food isn't giving us any hints. Hah.

Canadian Thanksgiving is always on the second weekend in October. In Germany, Erntedank (Harvest Thanks), is the first Sunday of that month. In the US, it's the fourth Thursday of November. Someone, I believe it was Barbara Kingsolver in "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle", pointed out that the difference is accounted for by the different lengths of the growing seasons in those places. In the Northern latitudes, harvest is pretty much done by October; in fact, the year before last we had our first hard freeze on Thanksgiving weekend. The grape harvest is the last thing that needs to be done in October; that year, we went on a winery tour the day after that freeze, and they were frantically scrambling to get in the grapes, because once you have a freeze, that's it for the ripening process. I don't know if they left any grapes on the vines for icewine, which is an amazing delicacy which also requires northerly climates to produce, but usually icewine doesn't happen until December or so.

So, anyway, in Canada, and in Northern Europe, early October is when you've picked most of what you're going to pick, have finished making your jams and jellies and pickles, and have bags of dried fruits hanging in the rafters in your attic - don't you? No, me neither, though I do have some in jars in the cupboard. But my Southern German grandmother used to have this big attic, over the barn which was attached to the house - she hung her laundry up there in the winter time - and I remember cloth bags suspended in that dusky space, being told they were full of dried fruit.

I don't remember ever having Schnitzbrot at her house, but I'm sure she made some sometime, as it's a traditional Swabian Christmas treat. It's literally bread, generally a heavy rye, loaded with dried fruit; sort of like American fruit cake except without the candied fruit and wrapped in bread dough instead of cake batter. One of my uncles was a preacher, and I once went with him on a visit to an old, old farmhouse in the countryside, and the ancient and wrinkled farmer woman gave me a piece of Schnitzbrot, thick, heavy and chewy-sweet, spread with fresh cool butter. Wonderful. In Bavaria, they call it Kletzenbrot, "Kletzen" being dried pears. On the first and third Thursday evening in Advent, young people dressed up as shepherds go from house to house, sing carols, and are given treats or money for it, rather like christmassy trick-or-treaters; in "the old days" they didn't get candy or money, but the Kletzen for their Kletzenbrot.

Somehow this year I'm much more aware of the wonders of the harvest, the blessings of food that's come straight from the land. Our season was rather short this year, as we had a long, cool winter and spring; it seems it barely began and it was over already. But in those few short months the land was bursting at the seams with fruit, with vegetables, with berries and peaches and plums and herbs and fruit flies (no, wait, we actually didn't have a lot of those this year; probably thanks to the cooler weather). A cornucopia of abundance.

Life, the Universe, and a Good Harvest. I don't think I have any problems finding things to be thankful for this year.

05 October 2011


I can't eat garlic. It's a fairly recent development in my life; I used to pig out on it with quite shameless abandon. (I remember once, in my grade 12 year, going to a party to which most of my class was invited. It was the first time I tasted tzatziki. And it was excellent tzatziki; everyone had lots. The next day, the teachers walking into the classroom were practically knocked back out the door by the garlic fumes that were oozing out of our pores...) So, then, sometime in my thirties I developed a garlic intolerance. It's not too big a deal, not like a real allergy you could kill me with; it just gives me an upset stomach. (And, yes, I checked: my eyeteeth are not any longer or pointier than they were before, when I could still eat the stuff. Nice try.)

So, this whole thing is just a bit of a nuisance. Most of the items on the menu of my favourite restaurant are garlic-loaded; especially the appetizer section has nary a thing I can eat. But I've got used to that; it's not like my appetite is in any need of stimulation, as a rule, anyway. My man, on the other hand, really likes all those garlic-loaded foods, but then he complains that most of the menu is contaminated with either mushrooms, or shrimp, or both, neither of which he can stand (but I love). Never the twain shall meet...

I've learned over the years to just ignore certain foods, one of them being pesto. But then last year, I had some basil plants in the garden. I grew them because the man likes basil, but I don't actually like it, myself; so I was a bit stumped on what to do with it - didn't want to throw it into the spaghetti sauce, for one. I was leafing through one of the cookbooks I had picked up at the library sale the year before, and my eye fell on a recipe for pesto: basil, olive oil, parmesan, and GARLIC. Hmm, thinks I, this sounds like something the man might like! I dumped the requisite amounts of the stuff into the blender (it also calls for pine nuts, which I didn't have, so I left 'em out), whizzed it around, then called the man upstairs to taste it. Bingo! Not only did he like it, he loved it! Pesto on sandwiches, pesto as dip, pesto on scrambled eggs, pesto... You get the picture. Now the odd thing is that even though I can't tolerate garlic (even the smell nauseates me sometimes), and I don't like basil, when they're combined like that in pesto it smells really, really good.

Fast-forward to this past spring: based on last year's pesto binges, I planted lots and lots of basil. I made one big batch of pesto a couple of months ago, but I didn't quite cut the plants down to the ground; I left some standing. And what do you know, they re-grew! So I had another big bunch of basil sitting in the kitchen yesterday. Now what? I was tired of making regular pesto. Well, what about trying the milder bulb - what about onion pesto? I tried one smallish batch, with onion instead of garlic, so I could eat it myself. Tasted it, and it was fine. Didn't feel like dealing with the rest, so hung up the bundle of basil stalks in the basement beside the wood stove to dry.

Then today, come lunchtime, I pulled out the ham and the cheese, and my eye fell on that little jar of onion pesto in the fridge. Well, why not? Ham-cheese-mayo-pesto sandwich. One bite, and oh.... my.... goodness!! That stuff is divine! I wasn't even done eating the sandwich before I reassembled the blender, and marched downstairs (still munching), plucking the basil bunch back off the drying line. So now I have two more ice cube trays filled with onion pesto nicely solidifying in the freezer, to be pulled out in handy little cubes and thrown into delicious food combinations in the dead of winter.

It just goes to show, doesn't it. I could have missed out on this amazing treat if I had let my garlic intolerance and my previous dislike for basil keep me from at least trying this. I'm converted to the rank of the pestorians - pestolentials - anti-anti-pestos - ah, whatever. I officially love pesto!

Oh, and in case you're wondering: 2 c fresh basil leaves, 1/2 c olive oil, 4 cloves garlic or 1 smallish onion, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 c parmesan. Whiz in blender. (If you want to do the pine nut thing, 2 Tbsp of those, toasted. I don't bother.)

Life, the Universe, and Pesto. Do give it a try.

03 October 2011


I made soap today. Yeah, I do stuff like that; comes from having been born in 1967 (Hippies, Human Be-in, Summer of Love, and me). I'm into all that "simple living" stuff - you know, preserving your own food, putting your babies in cloth diapers, scratch-cooking everything (from scratch!), homeschooling, wearing unbleached cotton (and flannel next to the skin - oh, wait, wrong time period. Flannel was the 1800's, Jane Austen and all. Cotton - just stick with cotton). It's such a simple life I've only burned out about three or four times from sheer exhaustion and overwhelmedness.

No, seriously. I think I did learn my lesson in there somewhere, at least I hope I did. And it's really not so much about "simple living", because, in case you missed the dripping sarcasm, that kind of life is not all that simple. It's more about self-sufficiency, but also about connectedness. Connectedness to the source of your food, to your living - the stuff you have around you. Knowing where it comes from, where it's been ("Johnny, put down that potato chip right now! You don't know where it's been!!"). And it's also about purity, about quality, and about creative satisfaction. I just get a kick out of washing with soap that's been made according to the Bavarian Purity Law (just four ingredients: Water, Hops, Yeast and Malt. Wait. That's beer. Which I don't like. But if I did, I might try brewing my own, just for fun.). Today's soap batch contains, for the most part, olive oil, coconut oil, and lye (No, not lie! I am telling the truth!); a couple of the molds also have vegetable shortening, essential oils, and powdered spices in them. It smells lovely; even the unscented stuff has this clean, soapy fragrance I really enjoy.

And that's what it's really about for me now, the enjoyment. If I didn't like making soap, I wouldn't do it - not any more. I first tried soap-making back in my Little-House-on-the-Prairie Days, when I was under the impression that it would make me a better person to live like Ma Ingalls (labour-intensive housekeeping mandatory). But, in my usual fashion, I just read books on how to make soap instead of learning it from a real person, and miserably failed. All I got from the attempt was a very, very clean pot (the lye burned away all the dirt that was clinging to the little scratches on the inside of the pot). You really need to have seen the way a batch of soap looks when it's tracing (starting to set) before you try making it yourself; I had to take an evening class at the local high school to learn how to do it. For your information, a proper trace looks exactly like instant pudding when it just starts to thicken - oh, wait, you wouldn't have instant pudding in your house, because it's so un-hippie-ish, un-natural, and un-homemade. Would you? Well, yeah, actually, me too. I did say I learned my lesson, right?

Life, the Universe, Soap and Self-sufficiency. If you don't overdo it, it's all good clean fun.