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Thursday, December 23, 2010

We've always resisted decorating the exterior of our house, reasoning that, being 1/4 mile off a very lightly traveled road and hidden by woods, no one would see it. This year, Bill got a wild hair and threw a couple of strings of lights up in the pines in the backyard, and then he got another and wound some blue lights around some birch trunks and hung some multicolored lights in the mulberry. I'm sitting in the dark kitchen looking out at them glowing softly against the snow, and I'm thankful.

No one but we five will see them, and that's enough.

Although we went kind of coo-coo over the kids as usual, Bill and I decided to put our Christmas into replacing our 1978 vintage kitchen stove. It was a Caloric, and I still loved it and would have been willing to put up with its quirks indefinitely until Bill pulled the trigger. It was down a burner, which couldn't  be replaced because the stove had long since been declared obsolete. The three burners that remained were a bit too hot to trot and having adjustment issues that did not seem to be resolving. To wit: You'd put some chili on to cook slowly on the lowest burner setting, and you'd walk away,  as you do when cooking chili, and you'd come back to find the flame merrily blazing away on Medium High and your chili adhered firmly and blackly to the bottom of the pot. We developed an elaborate system of cast iron frying pans overturned and stacked to run interference between the overzealous burners and our food. It was time.

photo by Phoebe Linnea Thompson

It's a dead heat who's more thrilled about the stove: us or Phoebe. This is her inaugural batch of chocochipcookies. For those who wonder, it's a Frigidaire Gallery with on-demand convection and no drawer broiler, because those things spook me. We were looking at the model one notch above this one and about to settle on it when I noticed that it had printed on the touch panel the words


Now, if we put pizza in our oven it's the homemade kind that Bill constructs from the risen dough up. And I have not had a chicken nugget in the house since 2008 when I read Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma. I took the backlog of frozen Tyson nuggets, formerly a favorite of Liam's, out to the meadow and dumped them out for the vultures, along with a bunch of other stuff that had aged out in the freezer. The vultures, coyotes, opossums, crows and foxes ate everything but the nuggets. You read right. The nuggets just lay there, barely changing in form through snow and rain, until they rotted away.

Would somebody get this frikkin' chicken nugget off my freezer-burned pot roast?
Photo by MeatCam

Needless to say, we were not about to drop an extra $200 to get a high-end range that had printed presets for frozen pizza and chicken nuggets on its touch panel. I was not going to look at the words


every day until they put me in the elderhopper.

 That was a deal breaker. I said as much to our spectacularly unhelpful salesman at Lowe's, who had touted the presets for heat-and-eat foodoid items as a big plus, and he responded, "Ah. Food Nazi, huh?" Oh, that's how you endear yourself to a potential customer. Note to NumbNuts: There are still some people out here who know how to cook, who load the grocery belt with fresh produce and raw meats instead of pre-formed derivatives of corn. We are vanishing, but we do still exist. Tell you what. You go ahead and ingest your fast fake


and we'll construct and eat our snooty real slow food. Sieg Heil!

Hm. I seem to have digressed. I am thankful for our new stove, and each time we bake we marvel anew at its perfection. Phoebe and I made a Danish Puff a couple of nights ago that was the highest, most fabulously evenly golden Danish Puff we'd ever seen. The stove runs off our free gas. Thankful.

Thankful for our blossoming cartoonist, who's working on a series about a superhero onion named Produce Man. He's done two issues and is working on the third, The Adventures of Produce Man and the Awfully Alarming Apples.

Here he's explaining it all to Wendy, a lead vocalist and keyboard player for our new band The Rain Crows. We're playing January 7 at The Adelphia Music Hall in Marietta, Ohio. It has a built-in sound system and a soundman. So we won't be lugging a couple of tons of equipment. Thankful again. And very excited.    

The Raincrows: Jeff Eller, Wendy Eller, Bill Thompson II, Craig Gibbs, JZ and Chet Baker, Mascot 

Photo by Phoebe Linnea Thompson

We wish you a peaceful Christmas, full of music, real food, and love. Just let me wrap all day, then sit and stare at  the Christmas tree with a kid on my lap. That's all I want.


Love today's Blog. I guess the attitude of the salesperson at Lowe's explains why Ohio (full disclosure, my home State) is among the States with the highest obesity rates in the country. Sieg Heil indeed!

Yeah, Food Nazi would have lost me too. Because as we all know real Nazis were only as bad as people who are particular about their food.

Sorry, the modern offhand use of Nazi is a pet peeve of mine. :)

Happy Holidays to you and yours, Julie!

I do not have a class cooktop stove, because on inquiry you can't use a canning kettle on one. It spreads the heat wrongly and can break the whole top. I had researched that, salesperson had no idea and thought I was nuts because I didn't want state of the art model. Yes, young person, people still make jam and jelly, can tomatoes and peaches and make pickles!
Go look for new cell phone...same issue. I do not want all the junk, nor do I want to pay for all the services. I just want to check on my kids and remind someone they have a dentist appt. sheesh.

um, that would be glass cooktop, even though it might be classy to have one.

We, too, put up Christmas lights in the window just for our own family. I am thankful for our quiet country existence, even if it means no preset stoves. Love my simple stove that allows me to can and preserve to my heart's content

Lovely post; several chuckles and a sniffle or two. I can't get my kids to sit on my lap....

Gee, I got such happy tears.


The salesguy at Lowe's is the typical appliance shopping experience. When we got our freezer this summer at Sears, the salesguy couldn't wrap his head around the idea of chicken that didn't come on a foam tray, when I was mulling over space requirements for 25 frozen chickens.

I think the number of "Food Nazi"s is increasing as word of GMOs spread. Food, Inc. showing on PBS this summer even got Dad's attention. Almost all my friends cook real food.

We have an 11 year old Viking with a glass top and can on it every summer with no problems. We've gone through 3 oven heating elements though, and the repair guy said we "bake too much". Duh. That's why we picked a brand that was supposed to be able to handle it. It has no pre-sets, just old mechanical turn knobs with numbers, and I'd not change that at all.

Gee, Bill getting a wild hare... who would've guessed THAT could ever happen!!?
Anyway, wonderful post bouncing back-and-forth between being heartfelt and being hilarious... just as the holidays ought be!

The Omnivore's Dilemma changed the way I look at pretty much everything to do with food and its production..and how it's impacting every corner of our world. The good thing about it though is that it brought me back fully into the kitchen and the Slow Food Movement, and nothing says Christmas like a fresh batch of warm cookies! Merry Christmas to you and your family -thank you for sharing them!

Did you hear about the artist who left a kids Happy Meal out on a table and took a picture of it daily, waiting for it to disappear, and a year later, the food was EXACTLY THE SAME AS THE DAY IT WAS PURCHASED!!! Hmm.
Here's to a Homemade Christmas...merry merry to you and yours, Julie...

Posted by Lauren Vickerman December 23, 2010 at 12:25 PM

Love, love, love this. All of it :) I thought of you this morning when Fender found the remains of someone's dinner at the end of our walk this morning. I made myself a little bit late because I spent too long trying to identify the one tuft of fur and the frozen intestines that were left...I was having such fun! Glad to know you got such a keeper of a Christmas gift (sales strategies aside) and that you've got your own private light installation in the yard to gaze at. Merry Christmas!!!

Don't tell my glass cooktop that it can't can, because can it can -- every summer and fall!

(Merry Christmas to you, and bah humbug to the salesperson at Lowe's!)

Thanks for the TV fix.

Merry Christmas Julie-

The historian in me says right on, Nate.

The cook in me just has plain old appliance envy.

Lovely post. Merry Christmas to everyone on Indigo Hill.

no chicken nuggets on this side of the river and I do miss Corbitt Appliance in Marietta.

Dear one, I wonder if you really know what a blessing it is for us/me to get a glimpse into your life on a regular basis. It is like hot chocolate on a windy, rainy day. Like the first yellow flowers in April. Like a waggy tail dance after not seeing my pup for a whole day. Like a lady bug crawling trustingly on my finger before taking flight. Thank you...

The new stove is a beauty, enjoy ! I'm thinking of blueberry pancakes on the griddle :)

Happy Holidays to you, your family, and all the critters at Indigo Hill !

Know what I love?

I always wondered about those chicken nuggets things, glad I never tried one ugh. Thank you for the beautiful picture and message. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Posted by Mary in Oregon December 23, 2010 at 11:57 PM

Well, I could identify with just about EVERYTHING in this post, except for being musically talented.

Our range top has been slowly declining over the last 4 years and we have put off replacing it.
Down to 3 burners, but one of those is iffy.

We also decorate only for us as no one can see us through the woods.

And your ending could have come straight from Mrs. FC, although with our head start, they fill a lap and more.

Thank you for sharing your life with us.
Merry Christmas!

Can I order a subscription, including back issues, of the Superhero Onion for my eleven year old son?

My daughter's favorite cookie recipe that she bakes are white chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. Yum!

Also thankful here for kids, lights, good cooking, and inventive husbands.

Wayne, PA

Thanks for this. We "make it from scratch" people aren't actually on the endangered species list, but sometimes it feels like a secret society.

Happy Christmas to you and your family, from ours.

The first photo made a lump come up in my throat...

I can't say I'm a 'Food Nazi'. I have a teenage son who loves chicken nuggets and hotwings as snacks and I do buy them from time to time. But we have plenty of frozen vegetables from our garden, home made chowder, soups and stews, roasted whole chickens and pot roasts aplenty, and REAL potatoes, mashed, fried, baked and cheesed up to balance out his occasional forays into meaty snacks. And I have a stainless steel commercial-sized mixing bowl in which homemade cookie dough batches are routinely stirred up. My sons' friends say "You're so LUCKY. Your mom MAKES cookies."

Merry, Merry Christmas to your clan.

Posted by holly-the-person December 24, 2010 at 11:13 AM

Haven't had chicken nuggets for years, but I doubt that I'd need a preset to fix them if I wanted to. :-) Great looking stove! (reminds me that I need to replace the bulb in my oven.) Enjoy that convection feature-you'll love it. Merry Christmas to you at Indigo Hill from Oakfeathers Acres.

Great stuff, great news and great big love to each of you.XXXOOOM.

When I bought a new oven a few years ago I was SHOCKED at what a good cook I was. Then I became a cooking and baking fool for several months.
Thanks for your blog. I appreciate it.
Happy New Year!

Which came first, the squash prank, or the new stove.
I love to cook from scratch as Granny used to say. I fully believe a lot of the folks suffering from obesity are starving, never satisfied because of the quality of food they are consuming.

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