Listening to: the USA Today
stream of clips from Anais Mitchell and Jefferson Hamer's "Child Ballads" album (link via my friend Katy
). Between that and the severe weather making the sky so very grey, I'm inclined to spend the afternoon working on fairy-tale riffs (but tax prep is calling, calling).
Reading: the Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook
. Pages 374-75 provide pleasingly detailed advice on buying fresh shrimp:
When buying shrimp with heads, note that they spoil quicker and that the heads constitute about 35 percent of the shrimp's weight. So if a recipe calls for 2 pounds of headless shrimp, shells on, buy almost 2 3/4 pounds whole shrimp with shells to compensate.
Keep in mind that a shrimp's shell and legs make up about 12 percent of its weight, so if you're using peeled shrimp in a recipe that calls for 2 pounds headless shrimp, shells on, you'll require only 88 percent of that weight, or about 1 3/4 pounds.
Today's lunchtime reading was a couple of sections of yesterday's New York Times
. I was struck by two mentions of historians brought to tears, both within Dan Barry's article about the Jackie Clarke collection in Ireland
. In the first, Barry speculates on prize artifacts that would have changed Sinead McCoole's initially low expectations of the collection:
Was it the fabric flower, called a cockade, that Wolfe Tone -- Wolfe Tone! -- wore affixed to his hat when he was captured while leading a failed rebellion against the English in 1798? When Ms. McCoole showed the cockade to a scholar friend steeped in that era, the scholar began to weep.
The other immediately reminded me of how difficult it can be to define and observe the scope of academic projects (...and, really, projects in any sphere, but as you might guess, scope comes up a lot in academic publishing):
Often, as Ms. McCoole set out to begin another wearying day of academic mining, one of the fish shop's employees, Smokey Gorman, would give her a cryptic greeting: "And you haven’t even gotten to the roof yet." For a while she thought this meant that Mr. Gorman might have spent too much time in the smokehouse, but Mrs. Clarke eventually told her that Mr. Gorman was referring to some "modern stuff" that he once helped Jackie Clarke carry to a storeroom built onto the roof.
One day, with the end of her papered tunnel in sight, Ms. McCoole went to that room on the roof, where loads of bundles were wrapped in relatively recent copies of the local newspaper. Inconsequential modern stuff, she thought. But when she opened a bundle or two, she found rare political pamphlets and newspapers dating to the 17th and 18th centuries.
"Instead of being euphoric, I cried for two days," Ms. McCoole said. “I cried and I cried and I cried. It was just more things to do. I knew the job hadn't ended."
But when she recovered Ms. McCoole realized that she was immersed in something very rare and wonderful, a feeling now validated by other scholars.