Friday, July 18, 2014

Who Has Problems Cooking Water?

because photos of tea kettles are boring...

Have I ever told you about my adventures boiling water?

A few weeks ago our kettle started leaking, but no matter, I could still make a cup of tea. I reported the problem to the OC who probably wondered what I expected him to do about it but wisely made no comment other than a non committal grunt. 

Last week I went to turn it on and nothing happened.
"The kettle has finally kicked the bucket," I reported.The OC, who sees no point in complaining if you're not going to fix the problem, fixed the problem. He went on line and ordered a new kettle.Meanwhile I boiled water for tea in a cooking pot. Later on, unaware that he had ordered a new one, I tried the kettle again. It worked. 

Seems it had been unplugged. Ahem..

Years ago my cousin and her husband were visiting us in our new house in Minnesota.
They'd been out seeing the sights all day and were gasping for a cup of tea, so I put on the kettle and we waited for it to boil. The burners on the stove in that house were those flat, easy to clean ones but they took forever to heat up and forever, again, to cool down. So we waited. And waited. And Mairead nearly passed out from the thirst.

“Molly,” said she in her rich Irish brogue, “would ye ever think about buying an electhric kettle?”

“Why?” says I, “what’s wrong with this one?” (I wasn’t quite as thirsty as Mairead.)

“A body could die around here waiting for a cuppa tay!”

So off we went to the store and bought a fancy new kettle. Mairead enjoyed many speedily made, restorative cups of tea on that visit and I wondered what was wrong with me that I’d never thought of buying an electric kettle before. I’m a creature of habit is my only excuse. I like to do things the way I know how to do them. 

When the OC came home, decades ago, with a microwave oven, I thought he was mad. I was sure those things were dangerous and it took me a while to accept that it might come in handy sometimes, like when you’ve forgotten your tea and you don’t want to drink it stone cold. Another time, out of the blue, he brought home a food processor. I told him I didn’t need it and hid it in the cupboard for months. I was afraid it would be so complicated I wouldn’t have a clue how to use it….or some such rationale. Finally one day, with mounds of vegetables to chop, I surreptitiously snuck it out of the cupboard to have a go and have been using it ever since.

I buy a box of Barry's tea about every six weeks. A few months back we decided that, in order to make more cupboard space, we should buy no more tea until everything we had was used up. We had run out of Barry's at that stage so we've been drinking herbal, green, and all the accumulated teas that we ignore when there's Barry's around (or if we're really lucky, Yorkshire!) They're all pale and insipid excuses for a decent cup of tea. 

One of the purposes of a cup of tea is to restore your balance when you're feeling discombobulated. There aren't many problems that won't seem better if you can think about them over a nice, hot cup of tea. These teas were doing absolutely nothing for discombobulation. Yesterday I could stand it no longer. I stopped at the Irish Shop and bought some Barry's and caught up with Ellen, the owner, who thought I must have died.

Mairead eventually went back to Ireland and I went from strength to strength in my ability to boil water in the new electric kettle. Then one morning, about a month after she’d left, I came downstairs,only half awake, and groped my way into the still dark kitchen. Of all the places we've lived, my favorite kitchen was the one in that house in Minnesota. It had two windows that met at right angles over the kitchen sink so that, as I washed dishes, I could gaze out into the trees and daydream. That morning, on auto pilot, I filled the new kettle and put it on to boil, and, looking forward to that nice cup of tea that would wake me up, I turned to the sink to wash some dishes from the previous evening. My mind was a thousand miles away as I scrubbed and dreamed until, suddenly, I noticed a really obnoxious smell ……what on earth…..?

 I turned towards the stove, from whence it came, and saw the kettle floating in a sea of black melted plastic on top of the smooth burners. What a mess! Old habits die hard. I guess it had not been quite long enough for the newfangled way of boiling water to gel in my brain. In my half awake state I had turned on the stove and plonked the kettle on top, as I’d been doing for decades, forgetting all about the little plugged-in black plastic stand it was supposed to sit on.

The new kettle arrived this morning. I bought those Barry's tea bags in the nick of time. I'm much better than I used to be, even a week ago, at cooking water. I've had several cups of good strong tea today and there's no discombobulation anywhere in sight. 


Elephant's Child said...

We had our kitchen revamped more than ten years ago. I still if tired or stressed reach for things where they 'used' to be rather than where they are. So yes, I could very easily have cooked my kettle. And am heading off for another cup of tea now.

persiflage said...

The memory is not always in the head, but in the body.

aubirdwoman said...

very very interesting.... haha so glad you have Senior Moments too.
Come on gal update your reading list please.
hugs from downunder

Marigold Jam said...

I used to wonder when we lived in France how the French dealt with life's problems since they don't drink tea as we know it taking it au nature and very weak! Nothing like a nice cup of tea is there? Barry's tea now that's a trip down Memory Lane since when Mr M was still working he had a colleague who used to make regular visits to his home country Ireland and always brought us back a couple of packets of the stuff - best tea ever! Hope you managed to clean the kettle off the hob without too much damage?!

Anonymous said...

Haha. I see your "water cooking" misadventures and raise you with my "egg boiling" experiences. I once set some eggs in a pot of water and left it on the stove top to boil. But there was an exciting soccer game on TV and I forgot all about it until I heard a huge BANG and found blackened charred eggs and the pot all over the kitchen floor.

Ali Honey said...

Ha Ha ! How are you at Coffee? I have a machine that makes coffee for me and does for me what tea obviously does for you.
The rest of the day I drink green tea with lemon and ginger or rooibos or boiled water.
I got put off regular tea years ago when it used to be stewed in large pots in school staffrooms.

What have you been reading?

Stomper Girl said...

I would rather throw out my odds-bodkins teas than go without my proper brew!

Secret Agent Woman said...

This post has driven me to boil some water to make chamomile tea. Although I always just do that in the microwave. Now coffee on the other hand - that calls for a bean grinder and a good coffee maker.

Thimbleanna said...

Ohmygosh Molly -- I'm glad you didn't burn the house down! We have a pile of "those" teas in your picture -- mostly received as gifts. I don't like any of them. I'm just learning how to like tea in the last few years, thanks to a few trips to the UK. I don't like it much in summer, but it's sure nice to have in the cold winters!

Molly said...

EC --- the TP roll is a classic example....

Persi --- I guess that's what "muscle memory" means!

Birdy --- Currently enthralled with "A Winter Marriage" by Kerry Hardie. Great yarn and spot-on descriptions of Irish weather and the atmosphere of the Irish countryside.

Marigold --- Barry's is good but, at the risk of disloyalty, Yorkshire is even better!

Squirrel --- So I'm not the worst in the world? On an optimistic note,when our culinary disasters fade into history, at least they make good stories...

Ali --- I'm "good" at coffee too. How many times have I carefully folded and inserted the filter, measured the coffee in, turned the machine on and only remembered I was supposed to put water in too after the kitchen filled with an acrid burning smell.

Stomper --- Now you're talking. But old habits die hard. Someone, somewhere has no tea at all so I suffer through it!

SAG --- Great to see you again! I love my tea but I've got to have a decent cup of coffee in the morning to get the engine running.

Anna-Banana --- I can't remember the quote exactly but it's worth it to read The Humans by Matt Haig for his take on the English love of tea!

Isabelle said...

Scottish Blend, that's the stuff. (Actually I drink my tea so weak that it could be any blend. Sometimes I don't bother with the tea part and just drink milk in boiling water.

Molly said...

Isabelle --- If I ever come to visit I'll be sure to have a supply of Barry's tea bags in my handbag!

Wisewebwoman said...

Now if you were talking Barry's loose leaf I'd be right on your door. My dear departed Dad would bring me a supply every year when he came to Canada.

I'm betting much better at cooking water, I have a good recipe. Avoid burners.


SmitoniusAndSonata said...

Oh yes , I've cooked the electric kettle , too . Luckily not at the same time as trying to boil an egg with no water in the saucepan ...

Lee said...

It might be simpler and easier (and safer) to give up drinking tea! lol