Category: Pen Thoughts

Comfort Food

Yesterday’s food journal entry was about finding a new comfort food spot. My husband and I found this spot inside BF Homes the day we were coming home from getting our second COVID booster shot. Since my husband hates needles, eating is always a good way to comfort him after getting shots. These days, I’m relieved that things have gone back to almost normal. The economy will be in recovery mode for the years to come, yes, but people have started to go out again. If not for the masks that everyone still wears dutifully (and without drama, I must say), things seem pretty much back to normal now. I am thankful for this. I am thankful that somehow we got to the tail end of this pandemic and so far we’re doing okay. I’ve lost friends, and friends have lost friends and family members. There has been so much loss these past two years that just being able to eat outside without being afraid is incredibly precious.

Just Draw.

I recently ordered a sketchbook that uses kraft paper from The Unplanned Life. I promised myself that I will draw more, I will practice loose , direct sketching regularly so that my hand will obey my mind better. When writing in my journal, the flow is just continuous and natural. I haven’t been able to do that with my art. I can never seem to get out of my own way and just relax and enjoy the process. I promised myself that I will try it again this time and that I will not be too precious about my sketches. Just draw. 🙂

Happy Kitchen

Today’s food journal entry. I have completed a few pages on this food journal. I wish I thought of this earlier, it’s pretty awesome to have a compilation of entries that are just about one topic. I’m looking forward to finishing this journal and making a flip-through. In this entry, I wrote down my pasta sauce and meatballs recipe. I don’t measure my ingredients, I just cook the amount that I need and take my cue from how it smells and tastes throughout the cooking process. I made it this weekend and I added a lot of herbs from our garden. Far from making it taste too herb-y or vegetal it had layers of complex and complementing flavors. We used dried penne for it, though, because I wanted to bake it with cheese sauce. I must say that I really missed freshly made pasta and wished that I made some instead.

I count myself blessed to have a quiet and loving home during this pandemic. We’ve been hibernating, rarely going out. We’re enjoying the peace and quiet of our home. I understand how others can have a drastically different experience during this time. The least we can do is to reach out and check on our family and friends. It’s been a long year.

Sugar

My food journal entry from a few days ago. I recently learned to bake a basic banana bread. My husband loved it a lot so I baked it a few times these past few weeks. I realized that it uses so much sugar though, so I told my husband I wouldn’t be baking too often anymore. Maybe just once in a while, as a treat. We usually go through a bag of sugar in several months. The last 2-kilo bag that we bought was from waaaay back in March. We don’t use sugar a lot at home. It shocked me how quickly we used up the sugar when I started baking, and I realized that sugar is one of those things that you can consume so much of when it comes in the form of yummy baked goods. Out of sight, out of mind. When you bake stuff yourself, though, it becomes harder to ignore.

Open Crumb, Hooray!

This journal entry was written last week. It’s about the first time that I was able to achieve a sufficiently open crumb in my country style sourdough bread.

I was so excited when I sliced into it and found this. While I was reading Michael Pollan’s book “Cooked”, I was so fascinated about the chapter on fermentation. These little pockets of air contain a smell that the mouth translates for the brain into flavor. Retronasal olfaction is our ability to smell food that’s already in the mouth.

For this bake, I changed a few things. I increased the hydration of the dough to 76.6%, lengthened the autolyse to a little over 3 hours, and did my stretch and folds according to how the dough looks like instead of following a rigid s&f schedule. I also sprayed water into the dutch oven before popping it in.

It tasted marvelous. I can see what Michael Pollan meant when he wrote about how an open crumb is more flavorful. I really enjoyed this bake.

I bought a small oval banneton so that I can try a batard shape next time. I’m super busy this week so I’m going to schedule my next bake next week, during my Thanksgiving break. Can’t wait!

The Path to Better Bread

Today’s journal entry is about the process of learning about baking country-style bread and how understanding each step is better than following a recipe closely.

The more I understand about the process, the more I could edit it and get better results. You can’t really follow every recipe down to the scheduling because different kinds of flour will have different characteristics. There are so many variables involved aside from that; like the temperature, and the strength of your sourdough starter among others. The best recipes I’ve tried are those that encourage you to get your cues from the smell, appearance, and texture of the starter and your dough. There’s so much more to learn and I’m enjoying the baby steps that I’m taking.

I think that more than eating the bread that I make, I enjoy the learning part of it more. I consider myself a lifelong learner, which is what I enjoy most about reading. If anything piques my interest enough, I would probably attempt to learn it by myself. Michael Pollan’s books have been very influential for me because he has a way of translating his  intellectual curiosity into a set of organized ideas which he tests on his own and shares with others in a very accessible language. I was encouraged by the fact that he was also the kind of person who struggles with following a recipe, but understanding the process every step of the way helped so much more than any recipe could.

While the pandemic is raging outside, I guess it brings me comfort that I can focus my energy and attention on something useful and beautiful.

Pain Perdu

I’m trying to revive my all-food journal again. I keep trying to compile food journal entries in one place but my mind keeps wandering and I keep writing about different things. I’ve been reading Michael Pollan’s book “Cooked”, and I finished reading his other book “In Defense of Food” a few weeks back. His books inspire me to be more circumspect about food and to enjoy the process of cooking, especially now that we’re always home. Hopefully I can write more about it.

Parker Duofold Junior

My husband’s early anniversary gift to me arrived today. It’s over a month early, but I don’t mind. 🙂 It’s a Parker Duofold Junior in jade green. It’s the first Duofold in my collection. I believe this double-ringed model is a streamlined version, which was released sometime in 1928. Aside from the design clues, I can’t pinpoint exactly when this was made because the markings on the barrel have already rubbed off. You can see how the barrel has become discolored due to its age. The material looks very similar to my Sheaffer Lifetime Jade. It’s really almost the same. The discoloration is also the same color.

I like how small it is. It’s just a bit longer than a Sailor Progear Mini, it fits comfortably in the palm of my hand. The girth is that of a full-sized Duofold, though. It also has a nice heft to it. I like the section, it’s short but comfortable, and it flares a bit at the end.

The pen uses a button filler. It’s my first time to use one so I had to search on Youtube how to actually use it. It wasn’t complicated at all. I also liked that it was easy to fill and clean. The nib was a bit stiff and writes somewhere between fine and medium.

The nib has the  double line along the tine that I like, although the point is a bit shorter and wider than full-sized vacs.

The clip still uses that little ball at the end instead of the iconic Parker quiver of the later models.

It’s impressive that this pen is about 90 years old and is still usable. I’m grateful that we have people like JP (who helped my husband source this pen) who repair these marvelous vintage pens so that we can continue to enjoy them until now. I’m really happy with it. It’s awfully cute!

I have a small collection of pocket pens that I’m currently trying to grow. I have Kaweco Liliput, KawecoSport, Sailor Progear Mini, and Parker Vacumatic Debutantes. I didn’t even know that there were Duofolds this small! When I did my little research earlier to find out more about this pen, I found out that there are even smaller ones than the Duofold Junior called Vest Pockets. Oh my goodness, they’re adorable. I’m going to put that in my wishlist.

Overall, I’m really happy with my anniversary pen. I will enjoy using this daily. 🙂

Women Leaders

Today’s journal entry is about women leaders and the quality of leadership that they brought to their countries during the time of pandemic. I think one thing that this pandemic did was to shine a very bright spotlight on how poorly certain leaders are doing during these times. Leaders cannot bully, bribe, or brag their way around a pandemic. One also cannot fake empathy for the people. At least  not for long. It’s interesting how a handful of women leaders brought a markedly different approach to the pandemic. They harnessed data, encouraged research, reacted quickly, and brought an undeniable warmth and steadiness whenever they addressed the people. Meanwhile in the Philippines, our president can hardly get through a single press briefing without using foul language, which his supporters passes off as sincerity, lol. Anyway, I thought it would be great to make a journal entry about these remarkable women and their response to the pandemic because it will definitely be part of history.

Parker Vacumatic Debutante Emerald Green

Here’s the newest addition to my pen family. What a beauty it is. It’s a Parker Vacumatic Debutante in Emerald Green and it’s in near mint condition. I have to admit I’ve slowed down significantly in buying pens recently, focusing more on using and caring for those that I already have. I’ve shaved down my wishlist to just a handful of pens that I still want to buy at some point, but I already decided that I wouldn’t be acquiring any more pens that aren’t in my wishlist. This specific pen is in my very short wish list, so I picked it up when a friend told me about it.

There’s not a lot of discoloration on the barrel, you can still see through it. The celluloid rings are clear and pearlescent. It has a blue diamond on the clip and a striped jewel of the same celluloid material on the cap. It also has a chevron and diamond cap band. It’s amazing that something this pristine-looking was made in 1939, just a year before my maternal grandmother was born. This pen has a speedline filler, which was discontinued in 1942 because the metal was used for the war effort.

It says a lot about how vintage pens are made. They can still be enjoyed decades after not just as relics from the past but as writing implements. Here are a few more photos of the pen’s details: