Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sad Irons

This is our iron. It's a happy iron. It is seldom in service. To save on electricity, I hang clothes in the basement in the winter. I have a few tricks in hanging wash which, for the most part, leave my shirts and pants fairly wrinkle free. Besides, neither Dawn or I care if we appear in public with wrinkled clothing. "Oh look Mommy. There goes the wrinkled people." I've never heard any negative comments.

When I worked in the dairy department at Wal-Mart, I'd see customers wearing clothing beyond belief. Torn, dirty, sometimes T-shirts with offensive or at the least, derogatory-you know the I'm with stupid... and the accompanying arrow pointing to husband or wife. There was also the short term worker we called Yah Yah who wore Bugs Bunny underwear that hung out over her jeans. My manager in the dairy department forwards me a picture of a woman in Wal-Mart with sheer trousers and under wear with a big smiley face on the butt. My wrinkled jeans cannot beat that. In my teaching days, my choice of clothing was wash and wear. I looked the part of the teacher.

I give my Amish friends two sad irons I inherited from my grandmother. They sat on a bookshelf for twenty years holding an eclectic selection of reading materials from tumbling on the carpeted second floor. Now, the sad irons are in use daily. When I arrive at the Amish farm early this morning, the daughters are ironing pasta. It's a five person operation if you count the youngest daughter helping to crank the pasta press. I'm on another hog mission. I also need to find out what is wrong with my pie crust recipe.

I won't mention the name of the cookbook I use for fear of a libel suit. The recipe makes me suspicious. I ask the elder's wife if she adds butter to the recipe. "No", she says. What about lard? "We use half lard and half shortening. " The shortening is for customers who are squittish about animal products in their food. I found that the rendered lard from the hog we recently butchered is pure and free of foreign material. I ask for their secret and the elder's wife shows me a strainer. What about ice water, I ask? "Right out of the tap", is the reply. Titus has an ingenious gravity fed water system to the house from a windmill and cistern on the hill. I mention that my crust breaks apart at the edges. "To dry." is the reply. Thus I find that the recipe calls for too much flour, too little water and too much shortening(including the butter). This is the household standard cookbook in thousands of homes?? I chide the elder's wife about opening a cooking school for only one student-me!

Back to the ironing. A daughter holds up a fistful of pasta dough to show me the consistency and texture. It's run through a pasta mill in narrow bands, placed on an ironing board and with my grandmother's sad irons, pressed to remove moisture quickly. I'm told that the weight of these cast irons is such that they hold a great deal of heat. You have to be careful when ironing clothing, one of the daughters comments. After the pasta is ironed, it's placed on the oil cloth on the kitchen table. I see fresh pasta curling in strips after it has been cut on the far side of a table that seats ten people.

As I sip a cup of scalding coffee, I watch the process and catch up on local news. Seems the town chairman got into a scuffle at the town dump. At the regular first Tuesday of the month meeting when nominations for election are made, the town chairman is not nominated. He's running as a write-in candidate. A big sign in the warming house at the dump, asks people to write him in. Call if there are questions. The town clerk points out that this is illegal. The town chairman(TCh) grabs the town clerk (TC) by the shoulders and tosses him to the ground. Mind you, the TCh is over 70 and recently suffered from throat cancer. The TC is elderly also. He suffers from multiple injuries including two cracked ribs. This is big news. The TCh is to appear in court. In my view, the TCh was like someone's grandpa. At times he could be testy, but the folks in this township would try the patience of a saint.

I make a note to come back for noodles. I'm told that the Amish noodles are more expensive than store bought. I find they are more flavorful and cook faster. Titus hands me a green package that looks like a slide rule case. In it are planer blades for his workshop. I get directions to the saw shop in town-"If you end up in the mud, you've gone too far". The shop is open, the lights and the radio are on. No one is around. I knock on the adjacentt vinyl sided home. No answer. He's either in the bar or coffee shop. When I return later, between wash loads, I drop off the blades. The 40ish man running the shop has three machines running simultaneously sharpening band saw blades. I can hardly hear him over the noise. There's metallic smoke in the air which makes me wheeze. The saw shop sharpener gives me a tour and I head back to the Amish over the US highway to tell Titus to pick up his blades in two days. Being the thinkahead person I is (intentional grammar mistake), I'd grabbed two packages of my Hot Polish w/jalapenos before I left. I will have noodles and cabbage for dinner.

No comments: