Sunday, June 17, 2007

On Aging and Drying

Man, it's dry out there. Hot, dry and breezy.
It's that time of year when the backs of my hands start to peel, even if they haven't had a sunburn. It's been going on the past three years, so I attribute it to age — and the drying of hot, moving, summer air. But I've found a good remedy: Corn Huskers Lotion "heavy duty hand treatment." It's a workaround. I'm getting older, and it's dry out there. Cope, cope, cope.
Aging and drying can be beneficial (she said hopefully, er, rather, copefully). Cranky and I have been snacking on some wondrous bresaola from the Fatted Calf. I've known for some time that bresaola was defined as "paper-thin slices of air-dried beef." What I didn't realize was that the slices are cut after the eye of round is seasoned, whole, and allowed to dry for a couple of months or more. Then sliced. I had mistakenly assumed that paper-thin slices of beef were dried... which would have resulted in meat splinters, I now realize. So this stuff is deep, barnyardy, aromatic — and tender. Good.
Hooray for aging and drying.
You may recall that Cranky and I were on a quest to find a suitable container to set outdoors and let the sun and wind dehydrate the food within, while keeping out the varmints.
We think we found it today. At the hardware store, shopping in the "laundry" aisle for clothespins and clothesline (I mean, we'd be crazy to run the dryer when we have these perfect conditions, right?), we spotted cloth mesh bags for washing delicates. The fabric is white synthetic material, with holes in it small enough to keep a fly out. There's already a soft zipper sewed in, so it seals in a jiffy.
The next question, then, was what to put in there to set the food on, something that would give the sack a little structure and not let it smother (or stick to) the dryables.
We found it at the Container Store. A simple, primitive letter basket for the office desk, made of thin wire. Cheap (but not as cheap as the laundry bag). Durable. Doable.
At the market this morning we had already selected some nectarines to dry, and this was even before we found our laundry-bag/letter-basket jackpots. Oh, and we got a couple of yellow, super-plump, totally globular limes to acidulate the nectarine segments with.
We're all set to let time and desiccation do its bit. Aging and drying are good. Yes (cope), yes (cope), yes.


Barbara said...

Really looking forward to the results of your drying experiments. May try it myself in summer.

Anna Haight said...

Eagerly awaiting your reports of the results. May what's in the bag be the only thing that dries out though!

Catherine said...

god, last week had some scorchers, didn't it? I was totally unprepared! I went out and bought some heavy duty moisture today? comfort me with melons...

sfmike said...

Ah, you're feeling the dryness of time. Interesting. Moisturizers do help, both the physical and mental variety.

Sometimes, as you're hinting, it's just best to go with it and start drying food or going to the desert and being one with the desiccation.

kudzu said...

You can't fool me -- you did all that shopping just to be inside stores with a.c.!....Your experiments sound eccentric and promising. Hope they work for you...Meanwhile, as someone who has super sensitive skin (Celtic on both sides) let me advise olive-oil-based soap, lots of sunscreen applied frequently, and walking on the shady side of the street....It has been horrid but I feel the blessed fog hanging over there in the west tonight.

Monkey Wrangler said...

I bet the 'maters like the heat!

Make sure the bags aren't capable of being flown off with (ie: crows, them, to-smart-for-their-own-britches types), other than that, sounds good.

And I got me some bresaola that has lunch written all over it tomorrow, with a fresh loaf of course.

Catch you soon.

katiez said...

Good luck with that!
Here it would slowly mold and rot in the damp and rain.
I'm soooo sick of damp and rain!
If I wanted this weather I would have stayed in Ireland!
I await the results!

cookiecrumb said...

Barbara: We are currently waiting for the nectarines to ripen a bit, and then off we go!

Anna: Sweet.

Catherine: Yeah, but it's breezy enough at our new digs not to heat up terribly. We're busy all day regulating window openings and shuttings, but it's cool indoors.
Sigh... I do need moisturizer. With sunscreen!

SFMike: Dryness of time, yes, but there's some hormone action in there, too. Even my hair's different now. I ought to be drinking bottles of Oil of Olay.

Kudzu: Well, see, every new store you go into, you have to go back out and get into a hot car. So that's a wash. But it's been fun accumulating materials for projects while putting off unpacking boxes at this now not-so-new house.
I've been using sesame oil, although I'm sure olive oil is just as wonderful. Isn't greasing up fun?

Monkey Wrangler: You wouldn't believe how healthy, green and bushy the two plants you gave me are now. The romas are already fruiting, but the Brandywines are the last of the original four I planted to show any fruit. Thanks again!!
And thanks for the marauding crow advice. My little set-up could probably be picked off, so I'll anchor it somehow.

Katie: I've been reading the classic Putting Food By, and I realize that I'm just making mud pies here, inventing it as I go along. Still, I'm not too far off course. I'll get started in a day or two. :-)

Dagny said...

I'm going to need to get some of that lotion.