This has been a truly gorgeous winter day, has it not? The sun shone and there was not a cloud in the sky. There was real warmth in the sun. As a result, everybody whom Raymond and I met on our errands in Madoc and Tweed today was in a good mood. The car washes in both towns had major lineups of winter-crusted Ford F150s (the pickup truck of choice in our area) lined up to get de-salted and de-grimed. It felt like maple-syrup season must be almost upon us.
I think, people, that the back of this cruel, cold winter really has been broken – just as I predicted a few days ago. Life is good.
And speaking of life being good:
This morning I was sitting in a comfortable rocking chair in the sunny dining room of the Manse, putting together a shopping and to-do list for the aforementioned errands. Since this is the first weekend in quite a while that Raymond and I have not been out of town or hopelessly busy, I decided it would be a good time to do some serious cooking. And so – on my phone – I consulted the excellent New York Times section called Cooking (and you can too if you click here). I pulled up the recipe for Roast Pork With Milk, which I’d seen in an email alert from the Cooking folks this past week and thought would be worth a shot. (It was. Delicious.) Raymond suggested that tomorrow night he make fried chicken, another recipe from NYT Cooking. Great idea! (Because it was fantastic the first time he made it.) And then I got thinking: what goes well with fried chicken? Aha! Coleslaw. Except store-bought coleslaw is inevitably an oversweet disappointment; in fact, I tend to find coleslaw in general a disappointment. I needed a good and interesting coleslaw recipe! Okay, back to NYT Cooking, on my phone. Search “colelsaw.” Find the ever-reliable Jacques Pépin‘s recipe for Curry Coleslaw, with a hit of tabasco, poppyseeds and curry powder to give it some zip. Sold!
I hit the Print icon on the recipe on my phone. Thanks to the wifi in the house, the phone instantly located the printer upstairs in the study. And before I had time to get upstairs and fetch the printout, it was, well, printed out.
Which in the year 2015 is no big deal, right? But I suddenly found myself thinking: Good lord! If anyone had told me back when I was a little kid or young teenager growing up here in this very same house (in the 1960s and early 1970s) that such wonders were possible…
And by wonders, I mean: using a phone to look up recipes. On the internet. The internet! Do you remember life before the internet? Well, today, I did. That life involved finding recipes only in the cookbooks (like the Queensboro Cook Book), or the recipe cards in your recipe box, that you happened to have around your house. The phone only played a part in it if you happened to pick up the heavy old receiver and call a neighbour for some cooking guidance.
And then there was this: having in seconds located a great recipe from a famous chef and food writer on my phone; hitting a print button and having that recipe magically turn into a printed piece of paper, emerging from a printer that is in the Manse study, one storey and several rooms away from where I was sitting – with no wires attached!
If anyone had told me on, say, Feb. 28, 1975, exactly 40 years ago today, that someday I would be able to do that – well, it makes me laugh to think how I would have reacted. The phrase “bug-eyed” comes to mind.
People, we live in an age of miracles. Miracles that are so common and ordinary that most days we just take them for granted. I was happy that today – thanks perhaps to the unlikely fact that I am living in the house I grew up in, and can thus readily compare how things were then and how things are now – the sheer miraculousness of the changes that have occurred in the time in between was forced into my consciousness.
We should never forget how lucky we are that some of the basic tasks of life – like finding a desired recipe, or a video of a long-lost favourite song – are so effortless. Compare that to what the people who lived right here where we are now had to deal with, if they might have thought to try to seek out the same information.
And on that note, here’s a great Talking Heads song that’s been bombing around in my head all day, ever since that moment when it struck me how miraculous this helpful technology is. It’s less about miracles and more about being respectful of what happened before us on the very land where we stand and live, but because it’s called City of Dreams – which is kind of like “age of miracles” – it seems appropriate for the moment. Enjoy!