WOSTER: Recipe for success
This may surprise some people who think of me as a spacy sort, but I'm a very literal, by-the-book sort in many areas of my life. My brother-in-law from Longmont understands this. He goes to great lengths to make sure there are no unanswered ques...
This may surprise some people who think of me as a spacy sort, but I'm a very literal, by-the-book sort in many areas of my life.
My brother-in-law from Longmont understands this. He goes to great lengths to make sure there are no unanswered questions when he works with me on any sort of project. Let me explain.
Dan is the next youngest in the Gust family after Nancy. For many years, he has owned and managed Ace Hardware stores in the Longmont area. From several conversations over the years, I've come to understand that a good part of Dan's success in business has been customer service. If someone comes in to get parts for a weekend, do-it-yourself plumbing project, for example, Dan asks about the project, helps find the proper parts and often suggests pitfalls for the amateur plumber to avoid and possible other parts that may or may not need to be replaced during the project.
If you've ever done a weekend project, you understand the pain it can be to make two or three trips to the store for parts because you twisted off a rusted bolt or discovered a washer had deteriorated beyond continued use. That's an especially annoying predicament when you have the water shut off. It's more so when you're doing this project in the evening and come to the part where you need additional materials only to learn the store is closed until Monday. So, yeah, any advice during the first trip to the store is a good thing.
Well. Nancy and I own a century-old home with century-old features. The oak stairway has some really ornate trim and doo-dads. The ornamental urn-shaped piece at the top of the post on the first landing was broken off years ago by kids who grabbed it to swing their way from the first set of steps to the second. Over the years, I repaired and glued and did every manner of thing to make that thing stay in place. Never stood the test of time.
Last time Dan visited, he took the broken piece back to Longmont. In his basement workshop, he worked some magic with wood and sent back a like-new piece ready to be set in place. His instructions were awfully handy for a DIY guy like me.
The kid included the repaired piece, a bag of brads, a couple of drill bits, a small squeeze bottle of wood glue and a step-by-step set of hand-written instructions. The bits and brads were exactly the right size. The bottom of the repaired piece had "glue'' written in the proper places to apply the glue. The four decorative piece of wood that framed the post were appropriately marked: "Street'' for the south side, "Neighbor'' for the east side, "Up'' for the north side that goes up the steps and "Gov'' for the west side facing the governor's residence.
I couldn't go wrong. The piece is in place, it's solid and it looks as if it never left.
I was thinking about that the other day when I baked cookies for the holidays. (Yeah, my kid says I should stop that kind of stuff and follow the Grateful Dead. I wish.) Recipes leave a lot to be determined, I discovered.
I followed the recipe to the letter and a batch of pistachio cookies came out chocolate brown. No one said I could use food coloring. No one said I should melt the butter. No one said I should stir the M&Ms in with a spatula instead of an electric mixer. What kind of directions are those? The cookies taste great, what with chocolate and butter and that stuff, but they don't look pistachio.
I made a second batch, learning from my mistakes. I melted the butter. I used a spatula so I didn't break the M&Ms to bits. I added food coloring, just in case. The cookies came out green, all right, but in streaks and shades. Apparently one should add the food coloring all at once, not dribble it in as one mixes. That batch tastes just great, too, but it doesn't look pistachio.
My brother-in-law should go into the recipe-writing business.