Bone-in or no-bone, please.
Divides the nation.
I take a stand, along with my son Dom, strongly, avidly, ardently, passionately, zealously, on the side of bone-in.
Something about tearing and ripping.
Testing one’s teeth and gums.
Venting the primordial.
Joining the lions.
Prissy, the others.
Sacrificing basic instinct for good manners.
Today is Tuesday, September 11, 2018
This is my 154th consecutive daily posting.
Time is 5.14 and the weather in Jackson Hole, Wy is beautiful, 75 and clear.
Today’s dinner is unknown.
Last night’s was a perfectly forgettable Japanese dinner.
Slower speed means more time needed to travel the distance I had planned to go.
But I am not willing to be on the road for more than six total hours.
That means only 4 and a half hours driving per day.
At an average of 65 miles per hour (thinking 70mph speed limit on most of trip) that gives us less than 300 miles of travel a day.
That means I may have to adjust the trip.
Today is the end of the first week.
We’ll take a look at how the budget is working out.
Can I convince you that the cornfields of Iowa are beautiful to drive through?
Here are some mental notes I made while driving 200 miles on an Iowa highway.
North by Northwest
A set of grass stairs in the landscape.
It’s September 9 and I’m in Iowa on my way to Nebraska and Iowa is beautiful.
On one side of the road are patches of pale yellow; on the other, the sun produces yellow violent.
Passing through Iowa city, home of the University of Iowa.
Don’t get on the football field with those guys.
The Amana colonies: passing them.
What were they?
The Amana Colonies are seven villages on 26,000 acres (11,000 ha) located in Iowa County in east-central Iowa, United States: Amana (or Main Amana), East Amana, High Amana, Middle Amana, South Amana, West Amana, and Homestead.
The villages were built and settled by German Pietists, who were persecuted in their homeland by the German state government and the Lutheran Church.
Calling themselves the True Inspiration Congregations, they first settled in New York near Buffalo in what is now the town of West Seneca.
However, seeking more isolated surroundings, they moved to Iowa (near present-day Iowa City) in 1856. They lived a communal life until 1932.
For eighty years, the Amana Colony maintained an almost completely self-sufficient local economy, importing very little from the industrializing American economy.
The Amanians were able to achieve this independence and lifestyle by adhering to the specialized crafting and farming occupations that they had brought with them from Europe. Craftsmen passed their skills and techniques on from one generation to the next.
They used hand, horse, wind, and water power, and made their own furniture, clothes, and other goods. The community voted to form a for-profit organization during the Great Depression, the Amana Society, which included the Amana Corporation.
Today, the Seven Villages of Amana are a tourist attraction known for its restaurants and craft shops. The colony was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1965.
As of the 2010 Census the population of the seven villages in order of population was as follows:
Middle Amana (581)
· Amana or Main Amana (442)
· South Amana (159)
· Homestead (148)
· West Amana (135)
· High Amana (115)
· East Amana (56)
I can’t attest for the rest of the year for the other seasons but on this September 9 Iowa is beautiful: like its swirls of color: browns, yellows, greens, oranges.
Is this their answer to our fall foliage?
Not as dramatic as New England’s but certainly beautiful.
The contrary state, is iowa.
Taking shots for the blog has really slowed me up.
The most important result of it is that is imposes an idiom of taking my time, of stopping, not rushing past the beauty without giving it its due.
Every rise of every hill produces a new vista.
every curve of the road produces a new vista.
Like the impressionists painting 24 views of the same façade, each different.
The Bridges of Madison County set here.
John Wayne was born here
Pass the Danish.
Don’t mean the pastry.
A Danish Colony.
A Danish windmill.
A Danish Museum.
A Danish winery, even.
And you think they’re all about chocolate, butter, and cheese!
Don’t worry if you miss one beautiful vista because they’ll be another in a moment.
And many others in the next mile.
And the miles after that; and mile after mile; mile after mile.
A fair question: how many times can you walk around L’Orangerie before you say, “That’s enough of Monet’s Water lilies.”
They are big.
Seeing bales of hay, some few cows, sheep, soft hills.
Everything is so neat it seems the hills have been carpeted.
Huge fields of grasses stretching to horiz
Some photos for you.
Johns has received many honors throughout his career, including receipt of the National Medal of Arts in 1990, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.
In 2018, The New York Times called him the United States' "foremost living artist."
Here is his “Target,” truly extraordinary in real life.
Not so much rebuttal, as counterpoint. An interesting proposition geographically, for sure, given the itinerary of our peripatetic Pied Piper (I was tempted to say Piedmontese Pied Piper, but I don't think our leader's people are from Piedmont; would somebody ask him?). But also interesting geopolitically, given the roles assumed long since by both Iowa and New Hampshire – who both carry throw weights measured as influence far in excess of the size of their Congressional delegations. Both states have what some people believe is undue influence in our quadrennial pandemonium known as national elections. I happen not to think so, which is less a political position than a philosophical one. I think people are people, and the nation as a whole gets what they deserve in the altogether. Voting is a simple requirement, as well as being a genuine right, of a citizen. I don't blame Iowa or New Hampshire because somebody won or lost the big prize. On the other hand, Number Two Corn is another matter.
Dom is rightly impressed by the surprisingly (for the newcomer) nuanced landscapes of our country's midsection. Long since I have been impressed by the beauty, compact and compressed as the land mass is up there, of New Hampshire and Vermont, even smaller than Iowa, and packing just as much aesthetic punch
from my journals (August 2014)
I write from a booth in a "family style" diner and restaurant in a town called both poetically and ironically somehow, "Woodsville" (remembering that the town in David Lynch's perverse and perverted masterpiece "Blue Velvet" was Lumberton... which Woodsville decidedly is not, nor could it have served as a model, but the ethos Lynch sought to satirize, if not demonize, with some ham-handedness, is in the air, as it has been since long before any of us were born). I am able to connect from my seat in this two-person booth because they are kind enough along with the generously sized pancakes and the vaguely decadent apple-bacon omelets, to offer a Wi-Fi hotspot of middling capacity in terms of throughput and bandwidth. Wisely they put more emphasis on the quality of the food than on the strength of what I admit are geekish parameters of performance few patrons expect, never mind demand.
Most of the patrons of Shiloh's in Woodsville, from outward appearances, are either "Middle Americans," in the sometimes seemingly indelicate, surely insensitive taxonomy of sociologists and economists, or they are working farmers (and I operate under the romantic sentiment that all lifelong farmers are workers, even if officially retired—not in the middle, by any means, but at the foundation of our existence; surely the intensity of their exertions add up in some account to a lifetime of what anyone would consider real work). They are drawn, or so I infer from a periodic survey of the license tags of the vehicles in the parking lot, and this largely in the summer, from the surrounding towns in the county and neighboring Vermont. Otherwise they are drawn from kindred origins elsewhere in the country, farming communities as far afield as Texas (surprising the number of Texans, and distinguishable if I may say so, mainly because of those license tags, that is, everyone has a country drawl of one kind or another, and I don't listen too closely). and as relatively nearby as New York State—these seem to have more of a recognizable linguistic marker than others, but I was born in New York City and have a particular sensitivity to the accent.
I am guessing that the home towns and villages of the patrons are also farming communities, in fact, if not in spirit. From their dress, mainly peaked caps with embroidered logos of companies serving that profession, t-shirts emblazoned similarly and almost without exception marked in some way with printed matter, text or images or both. Nondescript trousers, dark, of gabardine or denim. The women are in equally casual garb, sometimes in a dress, sometimes in shorts and a t-shirt, usually the difference being a function of age. Further, Woodsville and the other hamlets and villages of Haverhill, the county seat, are decidedly not tourist destinations. Not so much that you've seen one dairy farm, you've seen them all. Rather there is not much to see in a community that is dedicated, essentially, to hard work when the earth is clear, and then to hunker down, except for feeding the animals from a store of food laid down in part as a result of that hard work, when the fields and roads and hills are covered in snow.
Around here, the farms that make up the larger part of the area of any of the surrounding towns and villages are, indeed, dairy farms, producing milk for local consumption, as well as its by-products, cheese and yogurt and ice cream. Or they are contributors to much larger cooperatives. Cabot, by far the largest of these that produces branded products, based in Vermont, has its trucks ply the roads hereabouts as well as much farther afield. Other mass aggregators, unencumbered by the demands of keeping a brand top of mind among the public, gather milk in anonymous tankers. Then they no doubt dispose of it in markets to major conglomerates. Hood, and all the major supermarket chains come to mind.
The farms, being largely populated by a variety of breeds of bovine creatures also offer up their fair share of grass-fed beef. However, and again I'm guessing, I suspect most of the product of this lesser cottage industry, except for the consumption by the sparse number of nearby restaurants, whose patrons would arrive driven in part by a discriminatory desire for locally raised grass-fed meat (for in addition to beef, there is lamb, and from some farms, pork and veal) is not aged, or even freshly slaughtered. These restaurants would prefer a steady if narrow stream of fresh product, it's true, and they get it (proudly publishing on the menu the provenance of that choice cut of sirloin or filet—none of your fancy hipster cuts, like tri-tip or hanger steak, and only one place, nearly an hour away in cosmopolitan White River Junction, VT offered flat iron). However, for the most part you can still fill your trunk with as much meat as it will hold, but frozen, hard as the rocks so strenuously dug out of the resistant soil in the surrounding hills. And that's year round, when the grills are cold and the restaurants, the less stalwart ones in any event, not fully committed to the needs of patrons in these austere climes, are closed for the winter. It seems there is no dearth of local beef (and veal, and lamb and goat). In 2013 local slaughterhouses, of which there were three at the time—these are slaughterhouses meeting USDA approval, meaning spending millions of dollars and creating accommodations (an office and a separate restroom) for a full-time "resident" Inspector—were turning away customers. Apparently there were, and remain, inefficiencies in the logistics of coordinating the needs of a surfeit of small time operators. The slaughterhouse in North Haverhill, brand new, and state of the art, whose owner, a fellow named Pete Roy, said, "it was necessary to go big [as in 10,000 square feet big, as opposed to two thousand in the previous plant] or go home." They can process 40 or 50 beef a day in that space, but still do not possess the equipment and manpower to handle that capacity. Demand is too sporadic and unpredictable to make the investment.
All of this industrial grade capability, incidentally, is well-hidden. I haven't asked, but I also continue to have no idea where this sizable operation might be located, and I have been in North Haverhill, where it is based, for over three years now. I can, on the other hand, point out many of the farms easily enough. They are quite visible, as are the crops that grow alongside the cows.
Aside from the pasture and meadow land accessible in the line of small towns on either side of the Connecticut River, which straddles the state line, most of the farmland, some of it rolling seemingly without end to the edge of the distant woods that girdle the rich earth, is visible from any negotiable country road, and often grows right to the shoulder of that byway. For the most part it is given over to corn. Of what type I cannot, with my city-boy ignorance, say by a glance or even a studied look. However, I can't help but notice it grows wondrously high (like the poetic songwriter's "elephant's eye" high) and wondrously quickly. Given the sparsity of the market for fresh produce however (for example, in the 2012 count of souls dwelling in Woodsville, a scant thousand residents, almost exectly divided by gender, were counted out of upwards of 440 households), the relatively short growing season, and an abundance of eating corn at a handful of farmer markets and farm stands, plus an even larger inventory in the chain supermarkets that service the local populace, also featuring "fresh" produce, but, not surprisingly, from wholly other venues far afield, I am guessing until I can suss out the data from a reliable source that the corn I see is of another variety. Likely that which was made infamous by food writer and social critic Michal Pollan. At least, I surmise, it's some grade of feed corn, not fit for direct human consumption.
The Feds are of service here, with their relentless data collection, which we ordinary citizens never see. No NSA required. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, through its Farm Service Agency, openly solicits and collects surveys on a monthly basis from farmers who wish to certify their yield (no doubt in service to Byzantine tax-related subsidies and credits, based on even more arcane laws buried deep in the code). A moment's Google search, with the right terms, through the good offices of the 'good enough' wi-fi accessible to me in my booth at Shiloh's, iPad propped up next to my plate of an egg-white omelet chock full of onions, peppers, spinach and good cheddar cheese, local whole wheat bread and home fries crisped on the grill, and I'm home... with a spreadsheet to download that covers every county in every state of this great nation. It takes a couple of minutes to download.
Sure enough, all of Grafton County is planted over to three kinds of corn. There's sweet corn, the kind we like to eat right off the cob, buttered or not, and in other forms no doubt. Sweet corn, irrespective of Mr. Pollan's opinions of the uses of #2 Feed Corn (about which more in a few moments), is a favorite of a great many Americans. We consume, according to recent figures (2012), just shy of 34 pounds of corn products (which includes not only the kernels, but cornmeal, flour, etc.). But let us suppose, because it's easier, we are talking about corn on the cob, the edible portions. The yield of a bushel of corn, at a little over 15% moisture, is about 56 pounds. This means a bushel of sweet corn will satisfy the average annual needs of almost two Americans.
I've saved all of you readers the math and the research time. Here's a further breakdown of what all of Grafton County, in which Woodsville is situated, and of which Haverhill, the township into which Woodsville is incorporated and is county seat, has dedicated to corn farming. Sweet corn (what we put directly into our mouths) is just short of 1% of all those rolling hills and fields of the tall crop, or about 4400 bushels, or enough to feed 7-¼ thousand people their corn for a year. That number of people, assuming they consumed all of Grafton County's corn, constitute a tad over eight percent of the county's total population of 89 thousand souls. Doesn't leave much for tourists, unless they're the ones scarfing up all that delicious corn.
But as Mr. Pollan will tell you, that's nothing. Not compared to the 453 thousand bushels of yellow corn, on 90% of the farmed acreage in Grafton County, corn that is dedicated to silage production. Silage, which this now informed city boy has learned, is for forage, that is, it's stored for the winter, mainly to feed milk cows (which makes eminent sense, given the cow population), and consists of most of the plant that's growing above the ground. [Silage, by the way, simply means forage that's been compressed for storage space in container, usually a really big one, like a silo.] That's stalks, leaves, green corn (it's generally not allowed to mature into grain) and all, cut up and chopped into a form that's easily stored. Pollan talks a lot about Corn #2, which is largely used by way of harvesting the grain, some fed directly to live stock, and preponderantly processed into high fructose corn syrup, the great contaminant of our food chain, and responsible, ostensibly, for everything wrong in our diets and metabolisms, from diabetes to obesity.
Feed corn is grown in Grafton County. It accounts for the other ten percent (if you've been silently doing the math) of the crop in 2013, and it mainly is devoted to providing seed for next year's (that would be this year's) silage planting, and for the usual uses of feed corn, that is corn byproducts, like corn meal, and alcohol.
So the farmers of Woodsville, I'd say, can rest easy as they're not contributing much to the degradation and "debauchery" (as one anthropologist I read calls it) of the American standards of nutrition. They're barely serving the needs, if the numbers here are anywhere near accurate, of the average demand for good fresh sweet corn, one of the pleasures and treasures of summer dining, especially here in the hinterlands so close to the source. It's a wonder then that Woodsville, population of barely upwards of a thousand people (evenly divided almost exactly between men and women) make such a poor living. The average household makes slightly over $31 thousand, which is almost exactly half the average household income for Grafton County. Moreover, as a kind of reality check on the actuality of these figures, the average valuation of residential real estate in Woodsville is, again, almost exactly half of what it is in the rest of the country, that is, just barely north of $100,000. Hardly a castle. —Howard Dinin. © 2018.