My Dad called me Shorty. My Mom objected; why, she wondered, would anyone nickname a cute little girl something like that? Sounded like a “tough guy” sort of name, my Mom said.
“Shorty” and “Tally”, a Team
I loved being called Shorty. My Dad and I were a team; he was he tall one and I was the short one. Yes, I even called him “Tall-y” now and then, or “Long-y” when he was sitting down with his feet up on an ottoman. It was so much fun to try to match my Dad’s long strides and copy his skills as much as he would allow. And it felt just wonderful to the teen-aged me to be told, “Wow, you look terrific in that dress, Shorty. Have a good time.” It sounded like a term of endearment to me, and I never minded it at all.
He was the boss, of course, but looking back I realize that he was more like a coach than a pontiff — in other words he taught me by letting me try things and then honing my skills when the time was right.
Because I had and have an impulsive nature, I heard him quite often tell me to slow down and take my time. I learned most things through fast guesswork that usually failed until I found the right guess. He let me do it that way simply to allow questions to arise in my mind and then when I was in a receptive mode (frustration), he would coach by suggestion. Slowly. Methodically.
Playing Pingpong? “Not so fast, Shorty. Wait for the ball.” Writing ABC’s? “Not so fast, Shorty. You missed a letter. ” Later on, driving? “Not so fast, Shorty. Let the clutch up slowly.”
It was his way of saying “look before you leap”, or “think before you act,” or “let the whole process play out fully.”
It applied to a lot of things. Swimming at a slow but steady pace in a long-distance race turned out to be a wise idea. I learned that I could sprint the last ten yards if I had budgeted my energies during the long race. Other contenders might be too tired to sprint. I did win races, and often at the final sprint.
KITCHEN SCIENCE: THE POINT OF THE STORY:
Taking time for a process to finish properly in the kitchen is a rule of thumb that prevents blah, slap-dash cookery. There is science behind fast and slow; chemistry and physics apply to foodstuffs, and anyone who has ever played with silly putty knows that fast and slow can make a huge difference in certain substances. Yank silly putty fast and it snaps like ice. Pull it slowly and it stretches like taffy.
Here’s the point vis–à–vis cooking protein foods:
Cook eggs on a low heat and they will not become tough or stick to the pan. Cook meat slowly and the protein in them will not get rubbery. PROTEIN gets tough and stringy when it is subjected to high heat for a period of time. Think about overcooked liver, for instance, leathery and bouncy. Think about those strings of cheese in a pizza. Overheated protein molecules!
FAST FOOD? WHAT??
Quality protein “fast food” is possible when you have first slow-cooked it. Meat simmered long at low heat in a sauce and allowed to cool, will easily reheat into a tenderly delicious state when warmed gently in microwave or oven. Stews cooked slowly for a long time and then allowed to sit overnight are amazingly better when reheated the next day. Gently, slowly reheating a simmered dish very often gives it added dimension. The juices have been mixed and then reabsorbed by cooling and then recombined with reheating. It’s a sort of magic. There is a magic moment when the perfection happens. BE THERE! WOW! Put some in your freezer for “fast food” later in the week.
Everyone knows what a perfectly tree-ripened fruit is like. Heaven! Tree-ripe peaches are called “leaners” in New Jersey. You lean over and eat them out of hand, then go ahead and groan with pleasure. All basic growing things have an optimal development process, and there is a perfect time when they reach their peak of ripeness. Not so fast…just at the perfect speed.
If I had a nickel for every time I have bumped my nose (both literally and figuratively) by going too fast, I would be a very wealthy old lady. Some bumps are useful for learning. Some are disasters. It’s good my late father’s voice still pipes up in memory when I am pushing too hard and forcing issues saying ,” Not so fast, Shorty.”