Sunday, June 17, 2012

I finally learned how to tie my shoes (and how that "ties" in to Father's Day and olive oil)

Granny knot vs. reef knot. Which do you tie?
When I was a kid, I think my parents had some fear that I was stupider than the average kid. There were some things that simply eluded me.

Tying my shoes was one. I had a heck of a time grasping the concept. I can remember a cardboard thing with a picture of a shoe with shoelaces strung through it that I was supposed to use to practice on. I remember my parents' frustration when I just couldn't get it.

How on earth could they send me off to kindergarten if I couldn't tie my own shoes? I was an embarrassment. And for me, it was frustrating. Too bad Velcro hadn't been invented.

After much instruction from both my mother and father, and after much practice, I eventually learned how to tie my shoes - and in time for kindergarten. But I've been tying my shoes the wrong way all these years.

Or, maybe if not the wrong way, then the less-pretty and more-likely-to-untie way. I found that out when someone on Facebook posted a link to bow-tying. And then the lightbulb lit.

You see, my mother tied what's called a granny knot, while my dad tied what's called a reef knot. They're very similar, but the granny knot leans sideways and looks sloppy. A reef knot will leave your shoelace bow perfectly horizontal.

Not only is this true of shoelaces, but it's true of any bow, whether you're talking about a bow on the back of a dress or a ribbon bow on a gift.

You see what happened? They were teaching me two different things. That's why it was so difficult for me to follow their instructions.

Before you think that I was scrutinizing my parents' shoes a little too much and that's why I remember the kind of knots they tied, let me assure you that I didn't have a shoe fetish as a child.

But I do remember that whenever I had a bow on the back of a dress, if my mother tied it, it was sideways and sloppy. If my dad tied it, it was even and neat. The same with bows in my hair. If I asked my dad to tie a bow for me, mom would get mad. So I let mom tie the bow, then I'd stealthily untie it and go ask dad to re-tie it for me.

Seriously, he tied a much prettier and perkier bow. Mom's bows looked drunk and dejected.

Unfortunately, I learned my mother's way of tying bows (sorry, dad!) which led to a lifelong frustration with scarves and gift wrapping and girly bows of all kinds. If only I had listened to my dad.

He probably had no idea why his bows were better - it's just what he learned when he was a kid, and it became such a habit he didn't think about it any more than I thought about my drunk and disheveled bows. I wish I could tell him. He'd probably be greatly amused.

And I'll start tying my shoes his way from now on. When I remember.

So, what does this have to do with olive oil? 

Starting on Monday, Virtual Potluck is working on a promotion Bertolli olive oil and Chef Fabio Viviani. You'll be seeing a lot of Fabio's recipes and you'll be hearing about a great contest Bertolli is running, and you'll see the results of those fabulous Fabio recipes on our blogs. And yes, we'll be posting recipes for you.

The recipe I chose combines two ingredients that I never would have used together. And seriously, if I found this recipe in a cookbook, I probably would have adapted it. But since Fabio created the recipe for Bertolli, I figured I'd trust him.

And, just like the shoelaces, the lightbulb lit. It worked. I was surprised.

That's the great thing about cooking. There's always something new to learn, whether it's new recipes, new cuisines, new ingredients, new techniques. A lot of people wonder why I have so many cookbooks. Don't I already know how to cook? Well, yeah, I know how to cook, but that doesn't mean there's nothing left to learn.

If I can learn a new way to tie my shoes a different way at my age, then there's plenty left to learn about cooking.

During the week, don't forget to go visit all the Virtual Potluck bloggers to see Fabio's great recipes. We're not all posting on the same day, so be sure to come back, browse around, and see what everyone has been cooking.

Here's the list of the bloggers (besides me, of course!) who you'll want to visit this week:

Heather - Farmgirl Gourmet
Jay - Bite and Booze
Marnely - Cooking with Books
Matt - Thyme in our Kitchen
Milisa - Miss in the Kitchen
Rachel - Rachel Cooks
Shelby - Diabetic Foodie
Susan 30AEATS
Theresa - Foodhunter's Guide
Donna - (Me!) - Cookistry

So, what's that? You want to know the difference in the knots?

It's really simple. You know that "right-over-left, left-over-right" that you use for tying a square knot? Well, it's the same thing for tying a bow, except you've got that intervening loop.

If you're tying a granny knot, you're crossing the same way twice. And you have two chances to fix it. For me, it's easiest to change the final bit rather than the first one. So, do this: start to tie a bow, doing everything normally until you have that loop made.

Then sloooooooow down and watch what you do.

You've probably tied your shoes so many times you no longer think about it. So watch what you do. You'll either move the shoestring under the loop and over the top towards you, or you'll go straight over the top of the loop towards your shoe. Whichever one you do, stop now do the opposite. If you've been tying a crooked granny knot, you should end up with an even reef knot.

Or, if you prefer, stop yourself at the very beginning. Left over right, or right over left? Whichever one you do, now do the opposite, and then continue tying your shoelace as normal.

If you change BOTH, you'll end up with a granny knot going in the opposite direction.

Easy enough? Now go tie a pretty bow on a package!

So ... have you had any "lightbulb" moments lately, where you learned something new that surprised you? Tell me! Maybe I'll learn something else that's new!

Happy Father's Day!