Monthly Archives: April 2011

Trade you a cane for a peel?

The increasing popularity of bartering is no doubt directly related to the current economy, but it’s probably also spurred by our wish to waste less and improve the environment. By trading services and goods, we use less natural resources to for production of items that we can share. Or something like that.

When we were kids on the playground, we used to trade marbles. This involved some rather serious discussion over what might be worth a trade for a crystal. That ended when marbles went out of vogue, but reappeared with our daughters’ generation and Pokemon cards.

As adults, we have a more sophisticated method of bartering — or so we think. Here’s how this works. You have something I need (or would like to have). I have something you need (or would like to have). For example, my friend, Mary, gave me some mint for my herb garden. I probably gave her a chunk of lovage for her herb garden. We do that frequently — sometimes it’s a food that she likes to make for a food that I like to make.

I love to sew and I recognize it as a skill that many don’t have. I’ll trade sewing repairs and alterations for services that I’ve never mastered — like plumbing. Or I would if I could find a plumber who needed some alterations.

But you get the idea. It’s a trade for a trade, with no money exchanging hands.

Around Christmas time, my college friend, Norm, who lives in Goshen, Ind., posted on Facebook a photo of a pizza peel he’d made for his wife, Charlotte. I admired that peel for about five minutes and offered to trade him a Nelson Steiner cane for a pizza peel.

I should explain: In the last 20 years of his life, my father-in-law made an inordinate number of canes, often telling someone he’d make them a cane if they brought him a piece of unusual wood. He sold very few of those canes, choosing instead to give them as special gifts. Because he was very choosy about who to give them to, we now have our very own share of one-third of the canes.

Anyway, I didn’t really think Norm would come through with pizza peel butI shouldn’t have doubted his generosity. About a month ago, he sent me a message that he was sending the peel along to Bluffton with a mutual friend. I was out of town that weekend, so the peel made its home for a few weeks in the office of a coworker — the sister of the mutual friend who brought the peel from Goshen.

I finally retrieved the peel a few weeks ago and on Saturday, we had the opportunity to test it. Daughter number 2 was coming to visit and had requested home-made pizza, one of our specialties. Of course, what better way to test a pizza peel than to make your own pizza?

The pizza turned out perfect and the peel definitely eased the removal of the pizzas from the oven. Now…if I can just somehow barter with my sister-in-law for an outdoor pizza oven like the one she built in her back yard.

Oh, and Norm? The cane’s on the way.

Irons and toasters and bread machines, oh my!

For some reason, my husband and I have purchased and pitched more small appliances than seems possible. Maybe it’s true that they just don’t make things like they used to. After all, according to one of the Car Talk brothers, the 1967 Dodge Dart is the most perfect car made because it was so simple. Today’s cars are so complex that the maintenance and repair is challenging.

But I digress….sorry, just listened to Click and Clack this morning and the Dodge Dart was on their minds. Back to small appliances. In our household, an iron can work fine one day and the next day be totally useless. Nothing more frustrating than turning on the iron and coming back a few minutes later to find it still cold.

This is true also of toasters, breadmakers (we’ve been through five in the last 20 years), hairdryers, dust busters, and alarm clocks. I think my parents had the same toaster and iron for the first 40 years of married life. In fact, I think my mom gave me her original Sunbeam iron a few years ago. I killed it. Don’t tell her.

Fred’s dad’s theory was that we didn’t take care of them. This is probably true, especially of the bread machines. I use it a few times a week and most times, “forget” to clean it out. So…things get crusty in there. But still.The death of the first bread machine was no one’s fault. It was my all-time favorite one, because it had a glass-domed top, so you could really see it rising. It also looked like R2D2.

One afternoon about 20 years ago (this was in house number two or three…I’ve lost track), I’d fired up the bread machine and was upstairs minding my own business. Looking back, I realize I should have stayed nearby. I remember that it seemed a bit off balance while in the kneading cycle, but I ignored that. Awhile later, it seemed like the whole house started to shake and then we heard a loud crash from the kitchen.

R2D2 had decided to take a walk off the counter, breaking the glass dome and spewing bread dough all over the floor. We all had a good laugh and put that one out to pasture. Subsequent machines have never been quite as entertaining, but certainly less expensive.

Anyway, our iron gave out a few months ago, and the thrifty part of me fetched one from Et Cetera, our local thrift shop. It weighed about 50 pounds but worked semi-okay. Today I decided it was time for a new one — thriftiness forgotten — and found a nice, lightweight replacement at my favorite local hardware.

I figure if something goes wrong with it, I’ll go visit my favorite hardware store owner. Or call Click and Clack…maybe their skills with cars extends to irons.

Next purchase…a toaster that toasts in less than 10 minutes.

Fresh herbs spark up a salad; spring blooms add color to life

Today was such an exhausting one that supper had to be easy. Neither of us wanted anything fancy, so we started with salads. As I reached for the dried herbs, it occurred to me that I should check the herb garden first. And there it was. Just what we needed to elevate our salads from the plain old ordinary to WOW! Nothing flavors a salad of spinach, romaine, and peppers better than a handful of fresh lovage, oregano and chives. I passed on the parsley because it’s just beginning to pop out.

We added grilled “unusual” cheese (Fred) and egg in a basket (me), and finished up with chocolate fat free ice cream. Thus fortified, the dog and I took off for a trek around the yard to photograph some of our favorite early spring bloomers.

What’s blooming in your garden?



Dusty mauve of the hellebore

Ice cube tulips


Primroses just peeking out

Miniature daffodils

Grape hyacinths

One little piggy got cancer…that little piggy said “Run!”

In the 30 plus years I’ve been running, I’ve done hundreds of races. But not one of them was nearly as special as today’s “Sending Cancer on the Run”. Technically, this wasn’t a race; it was a non-competitive run/walk of about 2.5 miles on the Green Monster, a paved trail that traverses the perimeter of Ohio Northern University.

But like many races, the pre-race crowd was laughing, cheering, singing, stretching, and generally have a grand time.

On Feb. 2, 2011, David was diagnosed with stage 4, well-differentiated squamous cell carcinoma (throat cancer). David had already begun training for the Flying Pig Marathon, which is May 1, in Cincinnati. In his first month of training, he’d put in 125 miles. The Flying Pig will be his fifth marathon since he ran his first in May 2009.

Today’s event was a preview to the Flying Pig, which is scheduled for Sunday, May 1. The Dellifields have encouraged family and friends to join them in Cincinnati, to run or walk one of the various distance races, or to just cheer David on as he crosses the finish line.

David and Jami Dellifield

In early March, David began radiation and chemo, which will continue for approximately six weeks.He currently receives radiation five days per week and chemo once per week. Despite the fact that he’ll finish his treatments on May 2 — just two days after the Flying Pig — he still intends to run the marathon.

David and his family — wife, Jami; children, Nora and Ian; parents, Dennis and Marilee Dellifield; and in-laws, Gary and Penny Cavinee — had invited family and friends to join them on today’s run/walk through ONU. If today’s turnout is any indication, David, who is Director of McIntosh Center & Dining Services at ONU, has a huge wealth of support.

David Dellifield, (red shirt), and wife, Jami, welcome the crowd

Sunny skies, temps in the upper 70s, and lot of wind (enough to keep everyone comfortable) greeted the more than 300 pre-registered participants. But the crowd seemed to swell in the 30 minutes prior to the 2 p.m. start, with a DJ playing music….college students dancing….tiny children in bright yellow shirts…and a few canines.

Everyone quieted down just long enough for David to make an “unrehearsed speech” — perhaps one of the few times this gregarious, generous man has been short on words. Not wishing to leave out anyone, he simply thanked everyone for their continuous prayers of support — the one thing he can count one to get him through each day. Wife Jami offered a short prayer, and gave the go-ahead to get started. A sea of yellow, gold and red shirts headed out for the trek around campus.

In many ways, it was like any other race…the initial jostling for space, the groans and laughter that are typical. Today’s heat meant that the water tables were popular. In fact, the final water station had plenty of water but no cups. That didn’t stop one guy from kneeling underneath the spigot and squirting the water into his mouth. You do what you have to.

David's dad, Denny Dellifield

In fact, that’s pretty much what this run was all about….doing what you have to. For David Dellifield, it isn’t a matter of “if” his treatment is successful. It’s simply a matter of when.

One of David’s favorite sayings has become a mantra among those who know him…”Suck it tumor.” Lest you think him callous, he’s just as often heard to make it clear that “There is a reason we say God is good, ALL the time.”

Souring the sourdough

Way back in the early 70s, my parents discovered sourdough bread. My mom had acquired a starter, which she kept going for more than 30 years. Which, if you think about it, is pretty darn amazing.

Along the way, she’d give each of us (my brothers and me) a start from it. Somehow I never developed her passion for keeping it alive and after using it regularly for a month or two, I’d shove the jar to the back of the fridge and forget about it. I’d throw it out and after awhile, beg for some more.

About five years ago, Mother had to pitch her own. It was a sad, sad day, but she bravely started a new batch. On a happier note, my brother, John, still uses the starter that she gave him long ago…and he makes REALLY good bread. I think it’s his French connection (he has a PhD in French and has lived there several times).

Last fall, having come through the summer from hell, I decided it was high time to start my own starter from scratch. Which I did, after consulting cookbooks and the Internet. I followed the instructions more or less exactly (probably less), and after the initial period of fermentation, tested it. The bread turned out good, but not sour. See, in my mind, sour is sour. Very sour.

I tried it a few more times, and once again, the jar found its way to the back of the shelf. But last week I happened upon an old episode of the Splendid Table, in which Lynne Rossetto Kasper answered a caller’s question about souring her sourdough starter. Bolstered by my new knowledge, I pulled out my own starter which — in true fashion of sourdough starter — had turned black on top. No matter. I stirred it well, dumped it into a bowl, fed it some water and flour, covered it and left it to its own devices. Each day I stirred it, said a few kind, soothing words to it, and covered it again.

Last night, our friend, Reema, was visiting, and we wanted to prove to her that we REALLY DO THINGS ON FRIDAY NIGHTS. She swigged some wine while we divied up the starter — enough for a batch of bread and enough to return to the fridge. She was impressed. Either that, or she’d had more wine than we thought.

I have to admit, Fred’s seven-grain whole wheat sourdough bread was impressive. It looked great. Tasted great. Except it wasn’t very sour. Maybe I should have taken up Mary Ring’s offer of a bottle of beer. Not to drink. To add to the bread.

When it comes to sourdough…never give up. We’ll keep working on this starter…even if it takes us another 30 years.