black-eyed peas versus chickpeas
Thursday, April 15 2010
If it wasn't for the ladies in my life, I'd never do anything about my teeth. My teeth were pretty messed up when I got together with Bathtubgirl in 1998. Eventually we had dental insurance and she got me started on a path of fillings for cavities and a root canal for a dead tooth. Then the baton was passed to Gretchen in 2001, and under her administration, I've received a crown and another root canal (and one or two more fillings). But our insurance changed a couple years ago and we no longer have dental coverage, so a year and a half has passed since we last had our teeth professionally examined. Since that time I've developed a problem with my molar bite on the right side. Sometimes when I'm crunching down on chunky peanut butter, corn chips, or even dry breakfast cereal, I'll suddenly experience a shooting pain from both the top and bottom right molars. Both sets of teeth are riddled with fillings, so the problem could be anywhere.
Today I finally had a appointment for a cleaning and a dental examine. I look forward to such appointments with enough dread that I'd never get my teeth examined at all were it not for Gretchen setting up the appointments. So I showed up, and the hygienists proceeded to clean my teeth, unleashing a torrent of blood in the process. She made the following observation at least twice: "You really needed a cleaning." At least she didn't tell me I needed to floss. I've pretty much stopped getting that lecture since I added a dental pick to the "hygienic toolbox" I keep near my computer. (This allows me to absentmindedly clean my ears, teeth, and transient facial imperfections as I read stuff on the Web.) Then my dentist, who is also my business partner on a completely unrelated project, looked in my mouth and declared that everything looked okay. When I told him about the occasional pain I experience when biting on hard things, he said that perhaps I had a hairline fracture in one of my teeth, and that it would be difficult to diagnose unless it got worse. But the tooth might just accommodate itself to the problem and it would go away on its own.
Last summer, our tomato cultivation effort ended in what amounted to disaster. We were affected by blight just like everyone else who bought tomato plants started in commercial greenhouses, and nearly all of our glorious tomatoes simply rotted on the vine, many before they got anywhere near ripe. Since blight is a fungus that lives in the soil, there is a good chance that we'd be revisited by blight again if we attempted to grow tomatoes in our garden this year. So I've initiated a two-prong approach to preventing a recurrence of blight. Number one: I'm growing all of our tomatoes from seed. Number two: I'm growing the tomatoes in a brand new patch of garden. Today I started work on that new patch, which will be about ten feet to the northwest of the northwest corner of our existing garden patch, in a stretch of lawn bisected by a property line shared with our greenhouse-dwelling neighbors. It's a sloped patch of ground, so I decided to make the new garden a terrace patch like the other garden. So I dug a trench down to bedrock and began installing a stone retaining wall. For the wall's subsurface foundation I used pieces of old stone-veneered concrete salvaged from one of my ill-fated ditch paving attempts. I have a pretty good "library" of stone pieces suitable for veneering projects, but it's less useful for stonewall construction. So I was forced to search the nearby woods for stone. Unfortunately, though, the random rocks in the strip of woods to the west are mostly unsuitable. The rock strata here has all been deformed and bent in random ways, resulting in rocks that look like potato chips. They're stackable if you're an expert mason, but that's not me.
This evening I made another of my curries, this time using vindaloo paste as the principle seasoning ingredient and chickpeas as the bulk. (I've preferred black-eyed peas of late, but Emmanuel's in Stone Ridge doesn't sell black-eyed peas, and that was where our household shopping last took place.) It turns out that chickpeas don't result in a very good curry. I've used them in curries in the past and hadn't noticed how inferior they are, but after making several curries out of black-eyed peas, I can say that chickpeas have two problems when added to a curry: Number one, they're too hard and crunchy. Number two, they're too dry and don't contribute thickening substances to the curry's gravy. So the curry ends up being a watery soup with hard chickpeas in it.
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