Tag Archives: kitchen

The Mysterious Can Opener Caper

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The very new and the very old and why are those apples so shiny?

It’s obvious to me by my title choice that I have been reading way too many crime stories lately, featuring detectives who are enamoured of their own wit in naming cases.  I download sometimes up to three free e-books a day with not a hope in hell of ever reading all of them.  But I do it for a couple of good reasons.  One, they’re free.  And two, if I can’t get past the first chapter I have a minimum amount of remorse hitting “home” and choosing another title.  Because hey,  they were all FREE.

As usual, I digress.  I have a can opener story.  I mean, come on, doesn’t everybody?   It wouldn’t surprise me to find authors giving them away for free on Amazon.  Get Book One of the Suspense Filled New Can Opener Trilogy Thriller!  I’m a sucker for that kind of thing.

Anyway, this little black electric can opener I’ve had for many years was on sale for less than ten dollars way back eons ago.  I never thought at the time what possible reasons there could be for such a low price, but I wonder if the freaking racket the thing makes had something to do with it.  There can be no stealthy opening of cans in my house.  Unless you want to root around in ‘the drawerfor the hand held quiet ones.  We still have three of them I think.  Pretty sure two of them still work.

As with many such incredibly cheap items, this thing refuses to die.  If I’d picked up a forty dollar deluxe model it would have broken down in six months.  There is no doubt some Murphy’s Law about that very thing.

With use, however sporadic,  the little blade gets gooped up with the liquid from whatever I’m opening, and the little wheel that turns to rotate the can also gets grungy, as does the handle I press down to start the gawd awful wake-the-dead noise because I normally open a can only when I’m in the middle of some kind of complicated messy food prep. Like making tuna salad sandwiches. Trust me, I can make that complicated and messy.  So my point is, the thing gets dirty. And although I always have good intentions of cleaning it up in a timely fashion, the task does get overlooked.  Until it’s so disgusting I can’t do that anymore.

Yesterday afternoon I realized a soapy wipe was not going to be good enough this time around, so I armed myself with a pointy paring knife, dish soap, an old tooth brush, and super hot water from the sink sprayer, thinking if water somehow gets into the motor and ruins it, well it is old and cheap and who cares unless I electrocute myself later.

As I was scrubbing away and cursing the man who designed this impossible to clean piece of crap (it’s always a mans fault when something is hard to keep clean, have you ever noticed that?) the silver handle popped off and clattered into the sink.  And suddenly it was super easy to wash, and the little wheel was now exposed and clean in no time.  Seriously. And it all popped back together again.

It was one of those eureka moments.  The piece comes off so you can throw it in the dishwasher.  The guy who designed it (probably a woman) was not such a moron after all.  This is the second time I’ve been dumbfounded in the kitchen this month.  (Contrary to popular opinion, this does not happen on a daily basis.)  My son unscrewed the top from my immersion blender so it’s easier to clean the blade half.  I did not know it was meant to come apart.  Well, now I know two new things.  I wonder what other totally obvious things I’m missing.

This is why life for some people is a continuing exciting adventure of discovery.  In which a small thing like getting your can opener cleaned up can be the highlight of your day.

Okay, so this wasn’t really a caper, and also not particularly mysterious.  It’s about a kitchen utensil, so I don’t know what you were expecting.  I did hint at death by can opener, and that was pretty exciting, right?  And the story is free.  So we’re all good.

Happy last day of April.  Hope you’re enjoying the sunshine.

Because Blueberries

IMG_3111It will always be a mystery to me why I have such an abundance of misplaced confidence in myself when it comes to any kind of food preparation.  Such optimism!  I wonder if this is how gamblers feel.  Play and play and play until finally you hit a jackpot and the amount of money you blew getting to that point is a forgotten and tiresome little detail.

I’m not going to dwell on food wastage because regret is stupid, right?  I admit I’ve had my share of culinary disappointments.  The experience is what’s important.  I’m just going to go with that.

Reasons why I decided to make this:

  1. I have liked a lot of recipe pages on Facebook so my news feed includes quite an annoying number of pictures of things people have cooked or baked or fed to their dogs, who really knows the truth behind these things, and looking at them always makes me hungry.
  2. Blueberries are good for you.
  3. I am really tired of eggs for breakfast.
  4. This recipe looked like an easy one in which to make healthier ingredient substitutions so that a diabetic person could eat some practically guilt free.

The original recipe is here.  I will also mention that I am more often than not sucked in by the claim “best ever”.

Here are the things I changed (yep, without testing the original):

  1. I used frozen blueberries.
  2. Truvia instead of sugar.
  3. All purpose gluten free flour with 1/4 tsp xanthum gum.
  4. Butter flavoured margarine instead of real butter.  Because if it flops, what a waste of butter.

It was in the oven at least 45 minutes to get to the bubbling stage, likely because the blueberries started out so cold.

The filling was a little watery, probably real sugar would have thickened it up more.  Maybe a little bit of cornstarch mixed in with the orange juice would help.  The orange juice gave the berries a wonderful tart taste.  I wonder how lemon juice would work?  And maybe some lemon zest in the batter?  This is why I end up never making the same thing twice.  The cobbler topping was slightly dry, but still good.  A possible remedy for that problem of course would be the ice cream the recipe so helpfully suggests.  But I don’t have any, and come on, it’s already a stretch to call this breakfast.

Artistic bonus – that pretty round swirly pattern on the edges of the pan, I assume from exploding fruit.

I’m going to call this a success.   It satisfied my craving for something sweet and got rid of a partial bag of frozen blueberries that were giving me a headache trying to decide how long they’d been in the freezer.  I guess you could say I don’t have extremely high standards.

And that’s probably a good thing. Happy Friday!

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Try This at Home

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Despite squirting minced onion juice directly into my right eye, I am having a pretty good day.

Recipes to me are mere guidelines, and unless I’m feeling particularly sad and vulnerable and morose and unsure of myself (man, why would anyone try to create something feeling like that?) I like to wing it and see what happens.  This drives recipe following people a little nuts.  But it’s kind of exciting and God knows I don’t live dangerously in any other way whatsoever.

Anyway I have avocados which will not last forever in my fridge and decided this morning to try making avocado ranch dressing, or dip, or a combination of the two.  Does anyone actually measure avocado?  Wouldn’t a normal person just take their chances and  use a whole one?  I don’t like to measure sour cream or mayo either because they get my measuring cups all gross, so I plopped a dollop of each into the bowl with the avocado.  I left out dill because I don’t have any.  For onion salt and garlic powder I figured the real thing minced would be even better.  Except for the part where putting onion chunks through the garlic press temporarily blinded me in one eye, I think that worked out well.  Then I added apple cider vinegar instead of white.  I don’t really know why, but why not, hey?  And finally salt and pepper and dried parsley. Also not measured because things like that should be to taste.

It all got mushed up together with the immersion blender (I used to call this the Braun mixer, but apparently other companies make them too and I like this slightly more sophisticated name which makes me sound like I know what I’m doing when it comes to kitchen utensils).

Dont worry, its highly unlikely this will be turning in to a cooking blog.  It’s a stage I’m going through, that’s all.

Daughter and granddaughter are coming over for W’s famous fish and chips this afternoon.  I will be contributing a salad, OR……avocado tartar sauce maybe.  Doesn’t that sound good??

Hope neither of them reads this before they get here…

Kids In the Hall

Yesterday I finished the hallway.  It’s a little weird how happy I am about that.  Only one picture allowed (new hall rules) so it’s my collage picture of some ancestors at various stages in their lives.
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Because there is less light here the colour looks more orange and the white really stands out.

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Ok, I expect that’s about all the time you would like to spend in my hallway admiring walls and doors. And a surprisingly clean floor.  Let’s go around the corner.

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And turn left.  And then back up and turn right.  You know, so you don’t get lost.  New shelf rules too.  Two or less items per.  I just noticed one has three things.  Oh well.

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The colour behind the couch is called “tea dance”.  It’s looking a little more pink here than it does in real life.  And notice how different my “melted marshmallow” looks in bright morning light.

imageI’m not sure what this suspended slab of stone or concrete under the fireplace is called, because don’t mantles go above, not below?  Anyway, it was ugly and I always kept it completely covered in stuff.  It’s a perfect place for candles.  And other assorted junk.  And did I mention ugly?  Well now it’s covered in a grey textured paint which looks and feels like rough stone.  And I no longer feel the need to pile loads of crap on top of it.

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My daughter made me take away those little elephants. She is ruthless.

And finally, my art corner.  Sadly neglected for now but not forever.

image imageBecause there has to be a mess somewhere.

I should have cut the grass today, but it was just too hot.  These days you have to get out there between thunderstorms. And despite all the rain, the heat manages to keep the grass looking half dead, especially in the front where it kind of matters.  Anyway, I had a nap instead.  Painting wears me right out and it sometimes takes days to recover from all my hard work.  Ha!  No, I don’t really believe that either.

I think we might be half way finished!  This is another picture from the kitchen because I forgot to add it last post.

imageIn case you were worried I might have chucked out the stove.

Back at it tomorrow.  Two bedroom ceilings on the agenda.  Or more naps. Hard choices to be made.

Take It Away

After the back entranceway transformation with all the baskets, the kitchen was up next for an update. The worn floor should be replaced, but frankly, I don’t care.  We replaced it once already years ago.  And the cupboards are old and kind of horrible on the inside, but here’s what I figure. Someone will buy this place and rip out the cupboards and the floor and be all pleased with themselves when it’s done.  So I won’t deprive the future owners of that pleasure and expense.  I just wanted the blue and sand and beachy theme gone and the ceiling white again with no stains and no gawd awful fluorescent light buzzing over my head.  Here’s how the cupboards looked before, going up to the ceiling.
imageAnd here’s how they look like they don’t do that anymore.
imageThat bit of white at the top really brightened things up.  There is a different mess on the counter in the second picture and the window frame is also now white.

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I thought the backsplash tiles were white but here they are going from half-assed white to blinding white.

The colour we decided on for the walls is called melted marshmallow. It’s sort of peachy.  So yeah, I have gone from beachy to peachy.  This colour is now on the kitchen and living room walls and will soon be down the hallway because I just taped six doorways and all the baseboards there. I never counted how many doors there are in the hallway before but that’s a lot of doors.  They were all wood and now they are all white.  The hallway is no longer gloomy.  This is the linen closet door where I started.  Because I like to start at the end and work my way to the beginning.

imageBut back to the kitchen.

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Because the walls were blue at the bottom and sandy yellow at the top they begged for this type of work in progress art by my creative daughter.  I’m kind of sorry we painted over it.  And even though the paint included primer, the line where the blue stopped was hell to get rid of.  So there are at least three coats of paint here, and this corner in particular where there is less light is a lovely warm almost orange.  Other places the colour looks much more pale.  So even though this colour is all over the place, it looks like different shades in different lights.

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imageThere is a story behind the newly spray painted spoon and fork which I’m sure I have shared elsewhere.  This wall looked a little off balance to me before I added that plate on the left. Then all I could think of was hey diddle diddle the dish ran away with the spoon.  But look at that other wall with just ONE thing hanging there!  I’ve come a long way, baby.
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This last one is in the living room by the front door where the colour is beautifully soft.

The best decluttering idea ever, which I’m so happy my daughter shared with me, is to remove absolutely every bit of decor that’s movable from every room in the house.  Then once a room is all fresh and clean and painted, carefully choose only things you love dearly and would be sad about if they were gone to add the finishing touches. Less is more.  And move all that weird shit you bought on impulse out to the garage.

Okay, wake up!  I’m done for now.  I will share my living room/art room journey next.

Or I might tell you about my dermatologist appointment because that’s where I’m headed this afternoon.  The excitement rarely ends around here.

Things Change

imageDid I promise you historical pictures from long ago?  Well here’s a furry little face from the past.  I still have this kitchen, but there have been a few changes.

  1.  Our cat, Ash, hanging out in the tea towel drawer just because she can, is no longer with us.  That drawer still holds dish towels, but less cat hair.
  2. The brass cupboard handles were changed to blue wooden knobs.  At the time I believed that was a vast improvement.
  3. The green countertop (which I didn’t like, because GREEN) has been replaced with a blue one.
  4. We no longer have that white coffee pot, that wire utensil holder, that Braun mixer, that cutting board or that paper towel holder. Proof that I am very good at wearing things out.
  5. The wallpaper is long gone.  I originally put it there to cover up green tiles.  Then I discovered paint for tiles, removed the paper and painted the tiles white.  That paint turned out to be amazing stuff and is still there.
  6. I think we have had about three different stoves since this one.
  7. If we still have that coffee cup I expect it is somewhere holding pens and pencils like all the other retired coffee mugs in my house.
  8. The frosted flakes and the contents of the red bowl have been eaten.
  9. If you look closely you can see the bottom of a spice rack on the upper part of the stove.  I took that apart and made it into a book holder which I duct taped to our tread mill.  Sadly I do not have a photo of that piece of work.
  10. I believe that blue thing sticking out of the drawer beside the cat might be a crocheted tea cozy.  Such things no longer exist in this house.  They have gone the way of the tea-pot.

I suppose I should thank my cat for her love of small spaces and her knack for doing annoying things, because otherwise this historical kitchen photo would not exist.  And you would never have known about recycled spice racks.

Just like Alice

Reflection on Glass of Kitchen looking much less messy when viewed in this manner.
Reflection on Glass of Kitchen looking much less messy when viewed in this manner.

Yay!  It’s One Liner Wednesday!

She generally gave herself very good advice, (though she very seldom followed it).

Lewis Carroll

(Did Lewis Carroll know me, or what?  I also give very good advice to other people.  They don’t even have to ask.  It’s a blessing and a curse to be so wise.)

Happy Wednesday!  What’s your line?

Gentle

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Snow is gently falling this morning and if there is any wind at all, it is gentle too.

My Saturday morning house is quiet and the January light reflects off the gently rotating hangy-things dangling across the kitchen window.

Yes, there does appear to be a photo in this slide show which doesn’t belong.  It is meant to show that beauty can be found on a cluttered kitchen counter.

I am about to begin session three of my gentle stretching of miscellaneous newly awakened muscles.

There are miles to go before I sleep.

Feel free to take all of this and shape it in to an epic piece of poetry.  My brain is currently tuned to the gentle setting and won’t cooperate.

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Sharing My World 8

 

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Artwork courtesy of Middle Granddaughter (it’s nice when granddaughters come in threes) who might one day become famous and then you can say you saw her early work here first.

Share Your World – 2014 Week 44

What is your most vivid memory of the kitchen in your childhood?

We had bright blue cupboards in the shape of a U, and in each angled corner cabinet on the lower half there was a three-tiered lazy susan.  I was six when we moved to that house and had never heard of such things.  To my young impressionable mind everything about them was brilliant, including their bright yellow paint job and how much they could hold, but especially the wonderful name they were known by.  Put it on the lazy susan!  Get it from the lazy susan!  Don’t we have some of that on one of the lazy susans?  I imagine my mother wished she’d never let on that they had a name at all, and was relieved when I got over my initial fascination.  Although there was a little lip on each shelf to keep things in place, if you spun them around too fast stuff would go flying off into the back corners and then one of us kids would have to crawl inside to retrieve whatever would otherwise be lost back there forever.  It was a sad day for me when the old cupboards were replaced with boring brown wooden ones with nary a lazy susan to be found.  See how I still love to say lazy susan? Yeah!  Okay I will stop now.

As a child, who was your favorite relative?

I had so many of them it’s impossible to say.  Aunts and Uncles and cousins galore who came from all over the place to spend time at our farm.  I can truly say there was something to love about every last one of them, and there still is.  Mom had three siblings and Dad had nine.  Grandma was always introducing us to long-lost relatives but I rarely paid attention long enough to figure out who was who.  Of course now I wish I had.  It’s hard to keep big families straight.  Especially when they keep growing up and getting married and having children and splitting up and combining families with somebody else and all the other things families tend to do.  I did like one aunt in particular who had no children of her own.  It was easier to get her undivided attention.  I think we found each other mutually curious and funny and interesting.  Or maybe it was one sided and she had me completely fooled.  I would have liked her anyway.

What did you like or not like most about the first apartment you ever rented?

This is no startling revelation, but I have never lived alone.  I always had room mates when I went away to school, and room mates when I went to work away from home.  Then I got married and had a permanent room-mate.  We lived in a tiny three room house the size of a small garage for several months.  Then we moved to a different town into a basement suite, and when W decided to go back to school we got our first real apartment in a high-rise with an elevator.  Obviously I was impressed with the elevator, otherwise, why mention it?  We had a bedroom, a living/dining area, a little narrow kitchen and a bathroom with two sinks.  Our t.v. sat on the floor and we watched it from two basket chairs.  We had a bed and a table and a couple of kitchen chairs.  That’s it.  The hardwood floor was bare and every sound echoed.  W did most of his school work in the library.  I worked at the University book store.  I bought a long black cloth pea coat at a thrift store for five bucks and wore it until it fell apart.  Good times.

The next year we moved closer to campus in to a married student complex, again living in a one bedroom basement apartment.  There’s nothing I can think of that l loved or hated about any of these places.  They were warm and dry and they were home. And if your friends had to sit on the floor when they dropped over, that was half the fun.

What kind of TV commercial would you like to make? Describe it.

I would ban commercials from every channel except one, which would be called The Annoying Commercial Channel.  It would not be part of any cable package, but strictly optional.  If you were in the market for, say, dish soap, you would be able to select nothing but dish soap commercials and watch them to your heart’s content.  With no program interruptions.  I have many more unworkable ideas for TV if any network people would like to get in touch with me.

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

I am so grateful to be spending some time with my grandchildren.  Last night the three youngest ones each read to me from books of their choice.  It’s part of their daily homework to read aloud to someone.  I love how they tackle the big hard words with no fear and use context clues to figure them out.  But mostly I love that they’re learning a love of reading.  That will serve them well all their lives.

Yesterday W had an in-office procedure done on his right hand to straighten out his ring and little fingers.  I am grateful that our daughter was able to drive him to and from his appointment.  I am grateful that I’m not home to hear first hand how things are going and how much pain and misery he is in with the stitches and the bandages and the splint.  I am eternally grateful that I never once considered it might be a good idea for me to become a nurse.  I would not have been good at it.  He sent me a text which said “I’ll beok”…. W. speak for I’ll be ok.  That’s pretty much all any of us really needs to be.  I’ll be grateful next week just to beok.

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Just Jazzy 194

pandowdy (n)  A pudding made of bread and apples baked together, usually cooked with molasses, so named for its frumpy look.

(Rustic fruit desserts:  They came with names like buckle and grunt, crumble and cobbler and crisp, brown Betty, sonker, slump, and pandowdy.)

Huh.  Pandowdy sounds to me like a good word to describe someone who has been messing around in a kitchen all day.
Huh. Pandowdy sounds to me like a good word to describe someone who has been messing around in the kitchen all day.

Jazzy Words