No Particular Place To Go, or, A Waiting Blog

September 25, 2011

Today’s Special:  Homemade sausage gravy over buttermilk biscuits with (or without) scrambled eggs on top, OR a French dip with grilled peppers, onions, and cheese, and either a Root beer float or a trip to the salad bar.

It’s Sunday afternoon, and I love Sunday afternoons.  They tend to feel like days off even though they’re not.  Today is sunny.  I’ve been feeling unreasonably cheerful all day, and I finally figured out– it’s the sun!  It’s been a while.  I don’t mind gloomy weather, which is a good thing since I live in Michigan, but the sun is always a treat.  I’d forgotten about it, kind of.  But there it is.  That distant star is still burning.

It’s mellow in the diner this afternoon, which is weird but not unpleasant.  I feel lazy, or maybe it is just what people called relaxed. The  Green Bay Packers are on the satellite radio (playing the Chicago Bears, leading 17-7), Gary and Evelyn have pie and coffee out front, a couple of tables are waiting for sandwiches, and a woman with a laptop is checking her email and drinking tea.  Terri has brought fresh tomatoes from her garden, and now all I can think about is a tomato and mayonnaise sandwich on toast, even though I’m not hungry.

Right now what I’m really doing, even more than I’m writing this post, is waiting to make pasties.  The meat and onions and rutabagas are chopped, the dough is rolled out, the potatoes are sliced and soaking in their ice water.  That’s what I’m waiting for:  the potatoes to finish soaking.  I didn’t have anything particular to say, but I thought I’d try and write in the waiting time and see what came of it.  So here is this slice of life, apropos of nothing much, but maybe with its own kind of value.

One of the best parts of my day today so far was an email from my sister.  She was describing her book club meeting and ended it by saying, I have saved the best part for last.  The neighbor, Annie, has chickens!  Lovely chickens of different breeds, whose ancestors are from all over the world.  There was a big, strong Chinese chicken and a Polish chicken with a funny tuft of feathers on her head, and several other breeds that I can’t remember well enough to describe.  I think that was my favorite part.  I was quite envious.

Reading this, I was quite envious as well.  I wanted chickens.  I wanted to go to the book club.  But I was content to receive this email that was very much like an old fashioned pen and paper letter.  It made me want to go write a letter, and if I hadn’t been on the verge of making pies (cherry, blueberry, and blackberry) and muffins (blueberry), and waiting tables, etc., I would have.  Maybe that’s what I’ll do next if the potatoes still need to soak longer.  And they do, but here is the dinner hour, and pizza to make, etc.–and suddenly instead of quiet there is the murmur of voices in conversation, the scrape of the spatula on the grill and a hissing sound of frying, the hum of the oven, the clink of silverware on plates, and my lazy time is over.

Category: Today's Special | Tags: , , , 15 comments »

15 Responses to “No Particular Place To Go, or, A Waiting Blog”

  1. Barb Hendricks

    You soak your potatoes? I was introduced to pasties in ’71 on our honeymoon to Cooper Harbor. Since then I’ve been using Mrs. Jack Mugford’s recipe from the Calumet Woman’s Club recipe collection, eighth edition. She didn’t say anything about soaking the potatoes. For 40 years we’ve been enjoying pasties in IL, NJ, NY and back in MI again. They are wonderful conversation starters, too.
    Thanks for writing during your waiting time. That’s selfish on my part because you need time to breathe in your busy days. A lot of effort goes into making the West Bay Diner such a welcoming place. I enjoy your writing even when you don’t “have anything particular to say”.

  2. ellenair

    Barb,
    We do soak the potatoes to take most of the starch out. We make the pasties and then freeze them raw and bake them to order. If you don’t soak the potatoes, they turn black when they cook after freezing. Probably not doing this commercially, or freezing raw, you wouldn’t have any reason to do this. Although I don’t know that for sure. My mother in law taught me to make pasties, and it’s an old family recipe/way. She’s from Cornwall, England, and learned from her mother, etc. Who knows what secrets are hidden in that past!

  3. Pamela Grath

    I’m selfishly pleased, too, that you wrote something for the blog yesterday, even though I’m envying being there with their pie and coffee AND your sister’s book club friend with the chickens! No, better I should envy myself, which is another way of saying let myself steep in gratitude for what I have this rainy Monday: my dog by my side, help in the bookstore, boxes of books to paw through, price and shelve, and, at the end of the day, going home for a comforting, home-cooked dinner with David. Pasties? No, but maybe stew. It’s that kind of day here.

  4. ellenair

    : )
    off to make pasties again….

  5. Laura Burke

    Oh, you had to mention pasties. Now my mouth is watering. :)

  6. ellenair

    : )
    We’ve been baking them all day, a rainy day in Grand Marais, perfect for a pastie! Sorry to torment.

  7. Barb Hendricks

    Thanks for the info. on soaking potatoes. I’ve never tried to freeze the pasties. Now I will try it sometime after soaking the potatoes. I enjoy reading and trying old recipes. Some aren’t so good, others are better than we have now. I have many of my Grandma’s recipes. It’s endearing to see her handwriting after so many years. Recipes also tell something about the times and conditions of their lives. Many of her main dishes were stretched with bread and milk. Four slices of bread soaked in 1 c. milk to one pound of ground beef for meat balls. Or 4 slices of white bread and 2 cups of medium white sauce to a 1# can of salmon to make salmon loaf. My husband finally told me last week that I could have all the leftover salmon loaf to myself. teehee And if I didn’t mind I could wait a good long while before making that again.
    Happy baking. I finally got S.O.S. from the library yesterday and am anxious to dig in.

  8. ellenair

    Barb, Thank you for this lovely note. I love your memories of your grandma’s recipes. Happy reading!

  9. Mary Ann Potter

    Oh, I love chickens, so this posting really made me smile. We live on 55 acres in lovely rural North Carolina (Michigan transplants, though, back in ’83), and we have several free-range chickens. They are all named after characters in “I Love Lucy” — I have Ricky and Lucy Ricardo, Fred Mertz (Ethel M. was taken by a predator a few weeks ago, very sad), Caroline Appleby (remember her as one of Lucy’s annoying friends?), Ralph Ramsey (one of the Ricardo’s neighbors when they moved to the country), and Mr. Littlefield, who was one of Ricky’s bosses (Mrs. L. was killed awhile back, not sure how). They’re all very special. They eat bugs and worms supplemented by special chicken feed, they roam the property, and they sleep in the pine trees. Arboreal chickens — so much fun! I get a kick out of the way they run toward me on their skinny little chicken legs and make the most wonderful noises; the roosters crow and cluck, and the girls have these sweet whistles and chirps. 8-) A true chicken blessing. As you can see, I really love my feathered pets!

  10. Barb Hendricks

    I said “dig in” to S.O.S. What an error. I was quickly drawn in. My mind wanted to find a counterpart for everything in McAllaster to something I saw during our 24 hours spent in Grand Marais this summer. Silly me. I would have missed the riches of McAllaster culture. Your story transformed me from an observer to a particpant in life in McAllaster. And now I really must get back to the book. I wish you every continued success with your writing.

  11. ellenair

    Barb, Thank you so much!

  12. Mary Airgood Vecellio

    You know Marty would be proud of you making those pasties. We don’t get to order them often enough! He makes them for fundraising for the Moose Lodge and then we get excited and put our orders in!

  13. Gregory Zimmerman

    Maybe you’d like turkeys? They’re great to watch.

    Thanks for finding time to post to your blog. I’m in the middle of the book and just discovered your blog. I’ll be done with the book in a few days but know where to go to get more ‘world from Grand Marais.’ Look forward to seeing you in da Soo in Dec.

  14. ellenair

    Thanks, Gregory!

  15. ellenair

    WIsh Marty was here to help me make them…


Leave a Reply



Back to top