Last Days of Summer: “Two New Things” I Learned This Summer
Labor Day has come and gone. Summer is over, except for the official First Day of Fall this Sunday, 22 September. When life is no longer measured by school calendars, and you live in a temperate climate, one season tends to run into the next. I started off this summer with the goal that I would Make Time to Learn “One New Thing,” (blog post here.)
Actually, I wanted to learn Two New Things: more about the Genealogical Proof Standard, and how to make my step-mother’s fantastic fried chicken. (Note I did not set out to “master” the GPS, although I am working toward that objective).
Fried Chicken Attempt #2 — Looks Good, Tastes Bad
Tom Jones and Denise Levenick at GRIP 2013,
Determining Kinship Reliably with the GPS
Goal GPS — I was determined that this summer I would shift my genealogy into gear and get into the nitty-gritty of the Genealogical Proof Standard. I spent a week at the Genealogical Institute of Pittsburgh in Dr. Tom Jones course, Determining Kinship Reliably with the GPS, and came home energized to apply the principles to my research. I’m now participating in an online study group to be a leader for future Mastering Genealogical Proof study groups.
The classroom and online discussions are a great way to learn and really work with this material. I think my biggest “One New Thing” from the course is that using the GPS enables genealogists to reach logical conclusions with targeted research, not merely “collect” information with the hope of finding that straightforward and direct answer to a research question. AND, using the GPS is not some mystical or impossible skill. Any genealogist with time and interest can study and practice the steps outlined in Tom Jones’ Mastering Genealogical Proof, and work toward mastering the concepts of the GPS.
I also pursued some of my wayward FANS at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne; transcribed land and probate records from my last trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City; and sifted, sorted, and organized more boxes of family keepsakes. With family activities, a huge remodeling project, and summer birthdays, that was about as much genealogy as I could manage.
Fried Chicken Attempt #1 — Could Look Better, Tastes Great
Goal Fried Chicken — Of my two summer goals, Mastering Polly’s Fried Chicken was the more difficult. There was no written guide, only the briefest of verbal instructions: Soak the cut-up bird in salty water while the oil heats in a cast iron frying pan. Coat bird in flour. Fry in hot oil.
My first attempt would qualify as Very Good. I followed Polly’s directions.
My second attempt was not good at all. I used a recipe from a food magazine that called to soak the chicken pieces overnight in salted water. We were in the mountains and I thought it would be smart to fry the bird outdoors in an electric skillet. However, the pan wasn’t very deep and it was made of thin aluminum so the heat dropped considerably when the meat was added. The chicken took forever to cook, and the texture was rubbery. The flour coating didn’t stick at all. Overall it was a disaster. Yech.
What went wrong? I know that poultry doesn’t benefit from long marinading and that the meat breaks down when salted. I also know that cast iron holds heat better than aluminum. And I know that high altitude is a game-changer all round. So, why didn’t add my own knowledge to the recipe and tweak it to make wonderful fried chicken? I tried too hard to follow the written instructions, thinking my own knowledge was worth less. Maybe it is a good recipe at sea level with a different kind of bird in a different kind of pan, but it wasn’t good for my purposes.
Instead, I really should have remembered Dr. Jones advice when it comes to deciding one thing or another: “It depends.”