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. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Post From a Ghost of Bloggers Past

The best thing about okra...

You may have noticed the dearth of blogging in this little corner. It was not intentional. When I'm out in the garden, pursuing my personal vendetta against stink vine for instance, drunk on sunshine and great ideas, I'll promise myself that as soon as I go inside and wash the grime off, I'll sit down and wow you with my brilliance. Maybe exhaustion has a withering effect on great ideas because there's been nothing for weeks months now.

April...Getting started

With the OC retired and back in residence, all the little things that I let slide in his absence are being taken care of. Stuff grows in Florida. And how! Especially weeds. Stink vine is a pretty little creeping weed that crawls across the ground, knitting itself in every couple of feet, until it covers a huge area with it's ingratiating web. When you pull it up it lets off an odor that would choke a horse. Sneaky, because the leaves are very pretty,but in no time flat it can take over and choke out the good stuff unless you let it know who's boss. We usually dump garden debris at the back, on or near the compost pile. But stink vine goes straight into a bag for the garden waste collection. Let it take over the world at the landfill, not here!

And in the usual way of one thing leading to another, gardening has led to more experiments in the kitchen. For one thing, there's a man in the house who needs regular feeding so meals once again are a daily occurrence. They were spotty, at best, when it was just me. Now, with an appreciative eater in the house (who also does dishes) meals are fun again.  In addition to fools, there's another thing the OC does not suffer gladly: dull tools. Ergo, my kitchen, since his return, is full of lethal weapons. I've been thinking I should buy stock in the company that manufactures bandaids. The occasional sprinkle of blood here, small piece of finger there notwithstanding, we've been having some delicious fare. Slicing the cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant that the garden has produced is also a lot easier with a sharp knife.with regular healthy eating the OC has lost some weight. Unfortunately, it didn't go far. It settled on me.

The biggest hit from the garden has been kale. My favorite salad of the summer is made with kale, garlic, pecorino Romano, raisins and walnuts. When beets were in season I found a beet and carrot salad recipe that was out of this world. I'll put them on Molly and Lily in the Kitchen, where, even though there's been scant evidence of me in recent times, there's been even less of Lily.

At the other end of the scale we had okra, which is not even on my cooking radar, but beggars can't be choosers and The Bean, who did all the donkey work in getting the garden started for us, thought we should have okra. It grew beautifully but when I added it to a salad (it oozes a mucous-y sticky substance that does nothing to whet your appetite,) the OC bluntly told me that if he wanted snot in his food he had his own supply, thank you very much. In the interests of waste not, want not, I had to choke down the rest of that salad myself! Okra does have one redeeming quality --- the most beautiful flower!

And here's another beautiful flower who, sadly, isn't growing in our garden.......but we're grateful for regular updates!

Now that I've broken the long silence, maybe I'll get back to more regular blogging. Meanwhile, "Happy (recent) Birthday" to Isabelle and greetings to the other die-hards who have doggedly hung in there during the drought!