rubbing salt in my wounds…and Homage to a Gerbera

And, just to start off with a digression – because it’s my blog and I can do it! And no one is marking me, and a tenant’s living situation does not rely on my being able to organize my thoughts here into something approaching cohesion… but I’m digressing already (what do you call a digression into a digression…?? hmm). SIGH. Anyway, here is my latest finished craft endeavour:
More about “the making of” at the end of the post. But first, another ramble about vintage cookbooks – sort of.

Let me first say that I have always admired those “Martha” types (and way before Martha came on the scene, mind you) who actually have matching tableware and fancy versions of such basic things as salt and pepper shakers.

(I keep trying to steal my mother’s sterling silver ones but she has taken to conducting a full luggage search before I return to Toronto after visiting her.)

So, while chortling anew at some of the food photos in the Presto Cookbook I acquired recently, I started to notice some of the artistic details and the fancy accoutrements in the photos of the food.

Check out, for example, this giraffe on the cereals page.

Now, I can’t quite figure out what this is meant to be. At first I thought maybe a milk pourer, but unless the milk comes out of the eyes in drips, I can’t see a spout. Let’s take a closer look:

I still can’t see anything. Hmm… maybe a cornstarch shaker in the event the oatmeal is not quite thick enough? (although I must say that the grout I mixed this morning for my Homage to Gerbera probably had a less gluey consistency than that bowl of oatmeal…).

I shall have to ask JJ, my resident expert on all things Scottish, including oatmeal. He will likely tell me that it is some esoteric tradition that people in Scotland stopped doing 200 years ago, but which thrives on generations later in the diaspora.

Moving along: here is a series of fancy salt and pepper shakers:

(a) The Classics

I like these ones. It means that you don’t have to rely on that confusing “how many holes in the top” code to figure out which is which. And the identical number of holes add some symmetry.

(b) Calves – and an unknown creature

I can’t really tell which is which… but aren’t they cute? Awwww…

As for the red thing on the far right – any guesses? It looks kind of like a Buddha to me but I can’t figure out the link between calves and the Buddha. However, I was glad to note that my photography skills are pretty much identical to those of the 1950s professional food photographer who must have taken this picture… we both cut off heads!

(c) Mr. Rooster and Mrs. Hen

Hard to see the details what with the identical fancy stripes in the underlying tablecloth (sadly, they don’t carry fancy striped tablecloths in the “Vinyl” section of the dollar stores I shop at…).

Note the symmetry of the release holes for the salt and pepper – but no way to tell them apart! This could lead to hours of fascinating conversation at your next dinner party about the construct of gender in North American society – and days if you incorporate international considerations! Is the hen meant to carry the salt (like Lot’s wife… or did she turn into a pillar of salt? I can never remember) or is the hen meant to carry the pepper, denoting spiciness (or, for that matter, to stuff into the mouths of her foul-mouthed little chicks – in Greek tradition, pepper is used instead of soap for this purpose. I still do not curse in front of my mother!!!)

Better cut this off and move along…

Anyway, after this display of grandeur, I am quite embarrassed to show you my salt and pepper dispensers:

(And, before you say anything – yes, I know that the pepper one is filled with salt, and vice versa. That is my attempt at confusing the odd person (and that person must be very, very odd indeed to actually accept an invite to the Lair of Brouhaha and See Ya Jimmy) which get into the Inner Sanctum. I also have salt in my sugar bowl, and vice versa. My favourite holiday, aside from Payday, is April Fools’ Day… or is it Hallowe’en??? Dang…)

Well, they sort of match, anyway. There’s green on both of them.

And, I have to say that these things (which you can buy for about 5 bucks with salt or pepper already loaded!) work far better than the pepper mill I bought a few years back for $30. I would show it to you but it got flung off the balcony shortly afterward. As JJ at the time said, “Oh well, at least the raccoons can season their food now.” But it looked something like this.

This pepper mill thing seems a big business these days, actually. I mean, check out this blurb! As you will probably gather, the red insert is my editorial commentary.

Finally, I can sleep now… er… a consistent grind every time with this new u’Select pepper mill from Peugeot, a highly respected manufacturer of steel grinding mechanisms since their first table pepper mill was made in 1874. Do you think they sell high-end Peugeot bikes with an attachment to carry around your pepper mill for those culinary emergencies? Hmm… This 9in/23cm high rich dark wood pepper mill (just picture the “mine is bigger than yours!” potential…!!!) features the patented u’Select stainless steel mechanism, designed to crack the whole peppercorns prior to the precision grinding action (sounds a bit cruel, no?), which has six distinct grind settings (that would be five more grind settings than my coffee grinder, which is actually a mortar and pestle. Or at least it was the last time I ran out of coffee and diet coke at the same time and started pounding JJs stash of chocolate covered coffee beans in desperation. He was not best pleased.)

Comes ready to use partially filled with peppercorns. (for $50 you think they could fill the thing to the top, no? The President fills his and they only cost $5.00!

Anyway, I was amazed to see that they even sell electric ones now!! How lazy do you have to be? …

Um, on second thought, maybe it’s time to think about getting churched (as opposed to shacking, which I do currently) so that I can sign up for a registry and cash in on some kitchen gadgets….!

But, for the time being, my humble salt and pepper mills work just fine. What beats me is that they tell you on the label to refill “three to four times only”. Which is it? And why??? I must have refilled these two at least 20 times by now.

They probably just want to part me with my hard-earned money by purchasing more useless grinders, I guess. But if I did that, I’d wind up sinking into penury and having to take up a second job. Which might not be a bad thing, because it might force me up off my lazy @$$ and out to try to sell some of my mosaics.

On that topic: my Homage to a Gerbera started life as this $3.00 acquisition from the Goodwill on Saturday:

It was very pretty as is. But of course I could not leave well enough alone. So, I had to stick broken china all over it – OPA!

I was of half a mind to leave it like this as it looked pretty and uncharacteristically subtle. However, it lacked some zing. So – I mixed cadmium blue and cadmium red artist pigment with white grout powder and came up with some purple grout which I thought a decent contrast for the fuschia flower:

I love these ornate handles on the old teacups. Patrizia at Zia Mosaics very cleverly sells little packets of broken china for $1.50 apiece… and the ones I bought on Saturday contained these two pieces. I was thrilled.

And, here’s a final look back at the piece in all its glory:It will look quite nice hanging up at the office, don’t you think?

On that note – a happy Monday to you! And, just so you know, today marks the anniversary of the birth of King Charles I in 1600. King Charles was only one of the proud forebears of Prince George, my favourite Royal.


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