“turning the pages” into a working vacation…

It’s a rainy day in Portland. I’m ready to head back to sunny San Miguel de Allende for a working vacation…

Instead, I’m spending my evening looking at books online. Have you had the opportunity to use “Turn the Pages” technology? I stumbled on it while browsing the British Library website. Illuminated manuscripts? Yes, please!

I studied calligraphy for a few years and book arts, briefly. calligraphy exampleI imagined a future for myself creating hand-scribed books but talked myself out of the life of a starving artist and into a career in librarianship. In this blog I’ve written about repurposing books, but I’m also a proponent of preserving books based on their historical, cultural, or artistic value.

Amazed is all I can say. This technology links user with book and from what I can tell, the books were likely those chained to a bookcase or encased in glass, never to leave the safety of the library. Now, the information contained within these rare books is available to anyone with an internet connection. Speaking of which, my connection is pretty decent, but I did have a hard time getting the books to load in the Windows Vista format–it inexplicably opened tab after tab–I put away a load of laundry and it was still opening tabs! I started over. Had great success using Silverlight (option 2). I only looked at a few selections from the British Library website. I can only imagine what other libraries, museums, universities, and even private collectors are using this technology.

I am proud to be part of a profession that values history, art, and knowledge. This is a brief post on a vast subject; I plan to revisit the subject of digitization and conservation soon. And, just maybe, I’ll head back down to SMA and help them digitize a few of their more valuable books…I could use a working vacation. Thank
you for reading.

Published in: on April 4, 2011 at 9:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

applesauce > apple cake!

I like to cook so it’s no surprise I’m writing another post about cooking. I have to squeal with joy about my new-t0-me kitchen tool, my food mill.

Have you used a food mill? It’s just about the most awesome thing ever, IMHO. I have relied upon a mini food processor for my food grinding needs (https://juliewerks.wordpress.com/2009/07/13/fear-not-ive-eaten-beans-garlic/), but when it comes to making applesauce (which became apple cake) I have to admit…the food mill is superior!

I had an abundance of apples. My dear man is allergic to fresh apples so I wanted a way to cook them. Applesauce is nice, but I’m not one to sit and eat a bowl of it (presumably, neither is my dear man. Clearly, I was cooking for both of our tastes…!). However, applesauce as a base for apple cake is right up my alley. I began my research. My usual applesauce recipe is from the lovely and talented cookbook author/artist Susan Branch: http://www.susanbranch.com/cooking/2010recipes/applesauce.html which is a really wonderful recipe! But, I had a LOT apples…and I didn’t want to peel and core them ALL.

apples on cutting board

Hello, food mill!

food mill

I had never used a food mill, but since I’d been considering getting one I’d kept an eye out when browsing thrift stores. I found this one at the Goodwill–it was $5.00 but because it had a blue tag, it was 50% off! Mr. Armstead, a co-worker of mine, had memories of his father using a food mill, and taught me how to use my new-found tool. He explained the process; just put the cooked apples in the food mill, set the food mill over a bowl, turn the handle clockwise to smoosh the apple pulp from the apples, then turn the handle counter clockwise to gather up the skins, and what’s in the bowl is fresh applesauce. I was still skeptical. Really? That’s it?

I found a few recipes from a trusted source (Martha Stewart) and set about learning my new kitchen tool. I started by washing the apples and slicing them in half.

apples in pan

The apples were small! I had a lot of them to chop up. I took a picture of the apples next to a stick of butter. See? Small!

apples and butter

I followed the Martha Stewart recipe for basic applesauce: http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/basic-applesauce. Once the apples were washed and halved, I chucked ’em in the pan–skins, seeds, stems, and all. I was ready to challenge the effectiveness of my food mill.  I added sugar and a cinnamon stick, plus about an inch of water:

apples in pan

I cut up a bunch of apples;  2/3 of the apples were granny smith, 1/3 were red delicious apples. I brought the water to a boil, then reduced the heat to medium-low and covered the pot with the lid askew. Once the apples cooked for approximately 20 minutes, they looked like this:

apples in pot

Try not to be put off by the color. I wanted to have a mostly tart applesauce, with a little bit of sweetness, hence the two kinds of apples. I think just about any combination of apples would work–I used granny smith & red delicious because that’s what I had on hand. My favorite apple to eat raw is braeburn–it’s tart, crisp, juicy. I’m going to try them in applesauce next time I have an abundance of braeburn’s.

Time to test out the food mill! 3 ladel-fuls of apples in the food mill, grind…grind…grind…clockwise, of course.

cooked apples in mill

Mr. Armstead was right. I could see the pulp give way from the apple skins. At first the pulp came out in small drips, but soon it was yielding to the force of the blade and the pulp was quickly extracted from the fibrous bits.

apples in mill

I cooked some granny smiths by themselves and added them to my bowl, then added some red delicious apples on top. Pretty contrast before mixing, see?

two-tone applesauce

The smell was heavenly. Apples, cinnamon, sugar. I added some fresh lemon juice a little more sugar to taste. I have to say I was very impressed with the food mill’s ease of use and effectiveness. I used the warm applesauce to make this applecake: http://www.marthastewart.com/recipe/applesauce-cake.

I made another batch of applesauce a few weeks later but this time the seeds broke down–and because apple seeds (a.k.a. pips) contain cyanide I had to throw the batch out. I’ve decided that I will pit the apples, but I won’t bother peeling them. This tool was a great find! I look forward to using it often; my mate enjoys apples and now can eat them without experiencing an allergic reaction. I would like to hear if you’ve used a food mill and I thank you for reading!

Published in: on March 21, 2011 at 2:52 pm  Leave a Comment