Grandma & Grandpa's Farm

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Family Tableau

Family Life - Home Cooking

I wonder how many families have foods that are a bit unique to their family? I am thinking of foods that are quite possibly ethnic in origin that might not be so familiar to your friend's backgrounds. They are foods that might not seem unusual if you live in a community where your parents and grandparents -- uncles, aunts, cousins, and of course siblings -- grew up in. But if you no longer live in the lands of your parents... these dishes might be out of the ordinary.

(image to above right from Mennonite girls can cook)

For some of you there might be two completely separate sets of cuisine -- one from each parent's family -- or only one if your parents come from the same culture.

I come from in some ways three backgrounds. One is the fairly common generic Canadian-Average American one of bacon & eggs, pot roasts, fried chicken, macaroni & cheese, and that sort of thing. The other two are a bit more exotic though not Earth shattering.

Mom's parents originate from Norway and a few tastes have entered my culinary vocabulary from there -- though mostly it was diluted by way of New York and Alberta. There were a few things that basically only came out at Christmas time like Fattigman Bakkels or Cookies (image to left - image from which are deep fried and dusted with sugar. There also were cheeses and other foods that normally weren't bought or served except for during the holidays.

Dad came from a Mennonite community in Southern Manitoba that had come to North America around 1875 and hold cohesively as a community even today. There are many dishes I remember from our visits to family there which we have taken out here to the West Coast of Canada. Among many others is a favourite of my Sister's and mine, "Wareneki" or "Vareneki" -- in particular "Blueberry Wareneki".

Wareneki are one of those foods that sort of turn up all over the place in one version or another. I find they are different from perogis though some consider them the same. I think some would consider them a stuffed noodle or liken them to ravioli I guess. Anyhow the translation of wareneki I have seen is "fruit pocket" though I wonder if simply "pocket" or "dough pocket" might be more true?

Basically you make a dough and roll it out, then you cut out circles and put the fruit in the centre with a bit of sugar and press the edges together. You carefully put the sealed pockets into boiling water to cook and then serve with a cream sauce. Now my Grandma and relatives tend to make squares and fold the corners in so that the points meet in the center giving a squarish wareneki rather than the more crescent shaped ones shown in the pictures I am including, but I am sure they taste the same... I think the more square ones might hold a bit more of the sweet fruit filling.

(image to above right from Mennonite girls can cook)

Now the two pictures from "Mennonite girls can cook" show cottage cheese wareneki or "Glums Wareneki" rather than the blueberry wareneki, but they are fairy illustrative. Some people also make saurkraut wareneki, but I think they are spoil sports. I guess I grew up with the treat of blueberry wareneki from freshly picked blueberries while other folk might remember other fruits more.

(images above to left and right from

To me though blueberry wareneki were like eating dessert for dinner!

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

~ Darrell

(I have also posted this on my Xanga site.)


DailyStrength - Free Online Support Groups

Friday, January 9, 2009

Grumpy Old Man -- Sticky Fingers

Why is it so Hard to Get People to Let Go of Your Money?

I have noticed that sometimes there can be a tendency for people to have problems letting go of money. I am thinking of especially when it is your money owed to you by them. It seems like some people expect that deposits are something that they can expect to keep unless someone makes a fuss. I have to admit to being pretty lucky with it and have had great relationships with my landlords, but have seen exceptions that people have run into.

There are many good people out there who are prompt with returning deposits whether on rentals or whether a matter of overpayment or simply in having to make change at a later date for some reason. Perhaps I just run on a different sense of financial respect? I really do not like owing people money and would rather pay early or pay a bit more rather than pay a bit too little.

Yet again and again when in money situations I find people being shorted because someone was being... is this where the term "tight fisted" really comes in to play?

Most friends of mine have taken to making sure that when in groups at restaurants that the get a separate check. That is because far too often a group bill gets shorted and the last person in the restaurant has to make up the shortfall even taking into account the money people have added for gratuities. Even double checking the bill to ensure there is no overbilling the money comes up short so very often. My closer social circle has tended to be the ones footing the bill for the shortage. That is why the tendency for us to want separate checks. We trust each other when we go to restaurants, but though we don't know who is doing it in larger groups, we don't like the burden even if we might  be able to afford it.

If someone were to be polite enough to ask in advance for a bit of help with a meal, that would be different.

But I wonder how many damage deposits are forfetted simply because it becomes awkward for the renters to get it back? The landlord -- if it is a matter of rental property -- just doesn't come through with the damage deposit right away even though no damage is done and having moved out of the area it becomes difficult to contact and get back to them. So the landlord can just pocket the money. It is something I hear happening fairly often. But like I said there are great landlords out there and there are also so very many people who skip out on their rent leaving landlords with whole suites full of furniture to deal with disposing of.

The problem really seems to be where it is "someone else's money" involved. That is like the old problem where someone gets a cell phone in someone else's name. Because they are not paying the bill directly very often people just are not careful of the minutes and charges on the phone like they might be if they paid the bill directly. The same goes for when utilities are included in rent. People have a greater tendency to leave lights burning or water running if they do not see the bill directly.

I think often people have to feel the money leaving their pocket or to know it is a cost to them

I wonder if this is something that is getting worse or if it has always been this way? Were borrowed horses always ridden harder? Did people of old have problems getting colateral back or were fingers always sticky?

~ Darrell


Aditional images from Image*After.

DailyStrength - Free Online Support Groups

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Worth of a Writer

Isn't a Writer an Artist or Craftsman?

I thought I might look at freelance writing. I joined a site that actually does offer an exchange for folk who are looking for freelancers to write web sites or other projects and for those offering those same skills. One category is copywriter. I have surely been surprised at what is being looked for...

Most of the ads I see for freelance writing are looking for people to write 500 - 1000 word articles for 50¢ to $1.00 each. They want between 25 and 30 articles a day and sometimes 50. They tend always to state that they must be original work and that the rights all go to the person paying for them. Perhaps that is the going rate for a writer -- a penny a word -- but what bothers me is that they don't seem to really care what the content is, so long as it can "pass copyscape"... and of course most seek perfect English. I note some are 10¢ per 100 words.

Some of the ads come outright and say they will show you how you can find articles that you can use to base yours on, but they want you to know that you can't just reorder the sentences or change a word here or there.

At that rate of pay -- to my mind -- I don't think that any real research is being sought. They are essentially seeking plagiarists, albeit very good plagiarists. I say very good plagiarists because "Copyscape"¹ is a service online that can be used to detect online plagiarism even when the copy has been modified.

A person might ask why these folk are wanting to pay for these 500 - 1000 word long articles? -- There are a number of reasons, but the tend to have financial basis I find.

The nature of the ads seem to preclude the idea of students seeking to get out of writing essays -- although a person might be gathering short essays for a company they have or are setting up to sell such small essays to students. There is another clue as to the use of these articles! One statement from one of the more legit seeming ads reads:

I want an article writer who can produce error free unique SEO type quality articles. I want 100% original articles that pass copyscape and must be written in USA, UK english because most of our client is USA and UK based. (sic)

The important clue here is the term "SEO"² -- Search Engine Optimization. That refers to methods by which a web page designer might make it so their web page appears higher up on a listing of pages that come up in a search engine like "Google" "Yahoo" and "Live Search". The point behind the SEO is to bring more people to your page and one of the reason is to bring people in to see the advertisements on your page rather than strictly for them to see the content of the page. The purpose of the content is not the point of the page, but rather getting people to see the ads on the page. The people who run the search engines wish to keep the people using their services happy -- they have their own clients that they sell advertising space to -- so they don't want people who do searches to come up with pages that are useless to them. What this means is that they don't want their search engines tricked into showing pages that really don't have the information their clients want.

By having actual short articles on subjects which have certain words and terms inside them, the articles will be more likely to bring traffic to a page even if that article is just something with little actual content to it and no new material but only a rehash of other information -- which might not have even been understood by the paraphraser.

It is a step better than following a link to a page full of ads that have nothing to do with what you are looking for. But I have started finding more and more often results to searches where the pages are nearly copies of each other, but with different ads. I also find quite often links which lead to obscure search engine results pages... each with their quota of ads.

The thing is -- getting back on topic -- if I am writing professionally and someone pays me 50¢ for a piece of work, they are going to only get 50¢ of work from me. Perhaps they are looking for $10 of work... Perhaps there are enough hungry people out there who bite at that rate of pay and will write regardless of the use their work will be used for. Perhaps it is a benefit that all rights go to the person paying including any byline. You don't have to worry about that work coming back to haunt you.

Writers used to use pseudonyms for that purpose when writing stuff they didn't necessarily want to be associated with.

Still... I wonder if this sort of thing will reduce the worth of writers and authors? An author writing this sort of thing simply for the money -- is that what they call prostituting them self?

Of course... I am writing this column for no money at all... just for the experience.

~ Darrell


¹ "Copyscape -- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia".

² "Search engine optimization -- Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia".


DailyStrength - Free Online Support Groups

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Too Real

When is it too much toy?

"Talk To Me Elmo" is an interesting toy. Now I have not seen one in action in person, but I have heard one in action over the phone being played with by my friend's 2-year-old and have seen the slightly more venerable "Tickle Me Elmo" which started that toy ball rolling. It was very interesting listening to "Elmo" chattering away with my "niece" while my friend was on the phone. My friend described how Elmo was flapping his arms and how my niece was flapping hers and later how she had set Elmo up at her drawing table expecting Elmo to do some drawing.

(image to left of "Talk To Me Elmo" from USA

Now I don't think that "Talk To Me Elmo" is quite up to doing any drawing... yet ... but it did get me wondering about what people have said in the past about the effect of television on children. I was wondering about the effect of such life-like toys on children. There was always this controversy about how children might not understand the difference between reality and fiction, or reality and fantasy with the television offerings they had. That was combined with the large number of hours of TV viewing that children were starting to have.

Toys like the new Elmo might be bending that line further. Perhaps not too much problem with the current generation of Elmo toys, but what about the near future?

This Elmo can interact with the child at least by touch and "...remembers a child's name and habits..."¹ according the the 2005 article on USA The current one I know does much and probably more than the 2005 edition.

I am not sure if we should be worried or at least be concerned over the direction toys might be taking in blurring the boundaries between toy and reality... or is it toy? These toys are small robots and computers and the children are becoming very comfortable with them.

Of course perhaps we have to watch about not the boundary between reality and illusion, fiction, or fantasy -- but rather the boundary between life and automation.

~ Darrell


¹ "New tech toys walk, talk and play tunes this Christmas" Sept 6 2005; Angela Moore; Reuters -- Tech Products..

DailyStrength - Free Online Support Groups