Tuesday, June 12, 2012

making paella...

Tonight I made Paella for dinner, roughly following the recipe shown above. Paella is a traditional Spanish recipe that invites some experimentation. Mine was made with soy-based sausage instead of the meat or fish ingredients typical of paella. I am not such a great cook, but in this case seem to have outdone myself, as my wife claimed that my paella was better than when she had made it several weeks ago.

In addition to substituting soy-based sausage for meat and fish, I substituted Spanish olives for peas, which would not be a typical substitution based on taste but rather on color. I am generally better with wood, but with recipes found on-line, some interest in trying new things, being able to learn from my mistakes, with practice and just a bit more white wine, I'll get better each time.

Today on the radio, I was listening to Michelle Obama talk about her new book about gardening and changing the way Americans eat. There is definitely wisdom of the hands in that. There can be nothing better than to cook for oneself with ingredients one is sure of, and first lady Obama is doing a great service to our children and families by focusing her attention on how we feed ourselves and how our food can be better prepared. When it comes to food, there is nothing better than DIY.

I am working on a post for the Fine Woodworking blog, which I hope will direct folks to my talk on July 6 at the Eliot School in Boston. The plan is to hold the talk at Eliot School, 24 Eliot Street, Jamaica Plain I will provide a link to the FWW blog post when it is complete. I am hoping that mention on the FWW blog will help to boost attendance. I don't mind being a flop, but if I'm going out on a limb to embarrass myself as a public speaker, at the very least I should have an audience.

In the meantime, I've been making outfeed tables for the SawStop saws at school and in my own woodshop, and helping to install security cameras at school to prevent vandalism which we experienced last week.It is indeed a shame that we have created a world in which security cameras are necessary and in which children are no longer allowed to play outside without parental supervision.

For some reason, I suspect the loss of woodshops in schools, and the loss of more meaningful activities for kids in schools, and the loss of the basic cultural values of craftsmanship, each play a part in our overall cultural decline. We can turn the tide...

Aaron Robinson, writing for Car and Driver addressed the matter of loss of school auto shops in a recent editorial in Car and Driver magazine, Why Train Kids to be "Grease Monkeys"? Because We Need Them. Robinson notes that teachers in California (and all over the US)
"had watched the (manual arts) system crumble. California school budgets were decimated by voter-approved tax changes, which hit the shop classes hard. In the mid-1990s, as teachers retired, their shops were shut down. Classroom head counts soared along with L.A.’s population, and the remaining auto shops came to be viewed as just large rooms in which to dump kids, especially those who were underperforming and needing courses they could pass easily."
Now with conservative politicians caring for little but further tax cuts, we can expect even further loss of hands-on learning in schools. That means parents and grandparents will need to take matters in their own hands.

Make, fix and create...


  1. Anonymous5:31 AM

    My grandmother used to refer to paella as rice with whatever the fishermen had brought in that day along with what you could steal from the neighbors' yard. There are infinite regional variations.



  2. Doug -- re: your conclusion about "conservative politicians," you should've put quotes around "conservative." I'm old enough to remember when a conservative was someone who believed in conserving. In any case, that shop classes were on decline before they were dumped all together points to the longstanding habit of western societies to denigrate manual labor. Even in the 19th century it was a problem addressed by reformers like Carlyle, Ruskin and Morris.
    On a positive note, you can take heart in stories like this one http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/06/11/MNCK1OSNFP.DTL . It's about a ship builder enlisting kids in constructing a 19th-c. tall ship in Sausalito, CA.

  3. Tim,

    Yes, I also remember when conservatives actually were interested in conserving things.

    Wooden boat builders seem to form the front line in hands-on learning... a job I had hoped that woodworkers would adopt.