Friday, August 30, 2013
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
It's a really bad idea when those customers work at the Health Department.
Monday, August 26, 2013
Sunday, August 25, 2013
(clipart from Dover)
Mildred (yes, that Mildred) sent a bag of peaches into town via brother-in-law. They're smaller than commercially grown eating peaches, and tend to go from rock-hard to mushy in the blink of an eye.
Which is what prompted me to dig out Putting Foods By and re-read the chapter on fruit butters. I can't recommend this book too much; it's like having a domestic science teacher at your elbow explaining the process every step of the way.
Wash the fruit, stone it, cut out the bad bits and put it in a kettle with about a cup of water. Stew until the fruit pierces easily. If you have one of those nifty Italian tomato mills, which we do, run the pulp through, which will not only puree it, but remove the skin at the same time. '
If you don't, rub it through a colander, but you should probably peel the peaches before putting them in the kettle, or risk ending up with bits of peel in your peach butter.
Measure the pulp, add 1/2 cup sugar for every cup of pulp, and put it back on the stove to cook down. Fruit butters scorch easily and require a constant eye and frequent stirring, so I decided to try something I've seen in books and on the Internet, and put it in the crockpot with the lid off, and set it to low. I threw in a cinnamon stick, 1/2 t. allspice and 1/2 t. ground cloves for 2 quarts of pulp, and then...hedonist that I am...a vanilla pod that has been soaking in brandy all winter.
I can recommend this method only if you start it earlier in the day than I did. Once it is thick and glossy (which unfortunately turned into a two-day process because I started it so late) remove the vanilla pod and the cinammon stick, pour into hot sterilized pint or half pint jars and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Any can that does not seal can be kept in the refrigerator for immediate consumption.
Oh, and I made salsa, and the spousal unit made tomato sauce, so the whole house smells like an open-air market.
Thursday, August 22, 2013
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Monday, August 19, 2013
Sunday, August 18, 2013
We are definitely coming down the backstretch for summer, the beans, etc have shot their bolt and the spousal unit has been canning up a storm. It was chilly enough last night for the cats to want to come in, and I have been making and freezing soups for my lunch.
This one is yummy. The original recipe is from Cook’s magazine, although they used couscous, chickpeas and leftover rotisserie chicken. I used what I had on hand, namely rice, pinto beans and frozen chicken thighs.
Cook’s Magazine Chicken Stew
2 T oil
1 onion, peeled and sliced thin
4 chicken thighs, de-boned and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup uncooked rice
1 ½ t. garam masala
1 can diced tomatoes (with juice)
2 cans pinto beans, rinsed
1 32 oz carton chicken broth
2 zucchini or summer squash, cut into quarters and then ½ inch slices
Salt to taste
Red pepper flakes and freshly ground pepper (optional)
Heat the oil in a big heavy-bottomed pot over medium high heat. Cook the onion until it is limp, then add the chicken and stir until it starts to get white. You don’t need to brown the chicken and the onion, the soup has enough flavor. Pour in the rice, then sprinkle it over with the garam masala. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the rice is transparent.
Add the tomatoes, beans, and broth, and allow it to come to a gentle boil. Stir it up, cover, turn the heat to low and allow it to simmer for 15 minutes.
Taste for salt, add the zucchini and cook for 5-8 more minutes, until the squash is tender. Add red pepper flakes and ground black pepper to your bowlful if you want to spice it up a bit, but it’s pretty good as is. Lovely subtle flavor from the garam masala.
This is a nice “cupboard meal,” with just about everything available in the pantry or freezer except the zucchini. I suppose you could substitute frozen vegetables but I’d shy away from anything too strong-tasting, such as broccoli. It makes a very thick soupy stew and freezes nicely. The original recipe said four servings but I got one dinner and seven 2-cup freezer bags out of it. If de-boning the chicken thighs frustrates you, as it did me, just toss them into the pot and cut the meat off after it is cooked.
("Still Life With Kitchen Items," attributed to Martin Dichtl).
Friday, August 16, 2013
"Hmmm...curious. I've never seen that before."
Quoth the physical therapist, a nice English gentleman who warned me "You might find this unpleasant*" before putting me through a series of exercises that left me vomiting and covered with sweat.
It would appear that not only do I have Benign** Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo, but I have it in both ears.
Fortunately the therapy I'm being given will clear it up in a week or so, although I'm not looking forward to the interim. He also told me to sleep in the recliner for a few days.
UPDATED TO ADD: I have a host of friends. One of them just pointed out helpfully that this proves I have rocks in my head.
*Typical British understatement.
**Benign, my ass.
(inner ear diagram from NPR).
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Monday, August 12, 2013
Sunday, August 11, 2013
From Our Knowledge Box; Or, Old Secrets and New Discoveries, 1875.
Alum in Starch.—For starching muslins, ginghams, and calicoes, dissolve a piece of alum the size of a shellbark, for every pint of starch, and add to it. By so doing the colors will keep bright for a long time, which is very desirable when dresses must be often washed, and the cost is but a trifle.
To Destroy Cockroaches.—The following is said to be effectual: These vermin are easily destroyed, simply by cutting up green cucumbers at night, and placing them about where roaches commit depredations. What is cut from the cucumbers in preparing them for the table answers the purpose as well, and three applications will destroy all the roaches in the house. Remove the peelings in the morning, and renew them at night.
Fire Kindlers.—Take a quart of tar and three pounds of resin, melt them, bring to a cooling temperature, mix with as much sawdust, with a little charcoal added, as can be worked in; spread out while hot upon a board, when cold break up into lumps of the size of a large hickory nut, and you have, at a small expense, kindling49 material enough for a household for one year. They will easily ignite from a match and burn with a strong blaze, long enough to start any wood that is fit to burn.
Remedy against Moths.—An ounce of gum camphor and one of the powdered shell of red pepper are macerated in eight ounces of strong alcohol for several days, then strained. With this tincture the furs or cloths are sprinkled over, and rolled up in sheets. Instead of the pepper, bitter apple may be used. This remedy is used in Russia under the name of the Chinese tincture for moths.
To Color Brown on Cotton or Woolen.—For ten pounds of cloth boil three pounds of catechu in as much water as needed to cover the goods. When dissolved, add four ounces of blue vitriol; stir it well; put in the cloth and let it remain all night; in the morning drain it thoroughly; put four ounces of bi-chromate of potash in boiling water sufficient to cover your goods; let it remain 15 minutes; wash in cold water; color in iron.
To Cleanse and Brighten Faded Brussels Carpet.—Boil some bran in water and with this wash the carpet with a flannel and brush, using fuller's earth for the worst parts. When dry, the carpet must be well beaten to get out the fuller's earth, then washed over with a weak solution of alum to brighten the colors. Some housekeepers cleanse and brighten carpets by sprinkling them first with fine salt and then sweeping them thoroughly.
To give Stoves a Fine, Brilliant Appearance.—A teaspoonful of pulverized alum mixed with stove polish will give a stove a fine luster, which will be quite permanent.
Composition for Restoring Scorched Linen.—Boil, to a good consistency, in half a pint of vinegar, two ounces of fuller's earth, an ounce of hen's dung, half an ounce of cake soap, and the juice of two onions. Spread this composition over the whole of the damaged part; and if the scorching is not quite through, and the threads actually consumed, after suffering it to dry on, and letting it receive a subsequent good washing or two, the place will appear full as white and perfect as any other part of the linen.
To Remove Indelible Ink Stains.—Soak the stained spot in strong salt water, then wash it with ammonia. Salt changes the nitrate of silver into chloride of silver, and ammonia dissolves the chloride.
To Cleanse Carpet.—1 teaspoonful liquid ammonia in one gallon warm water, will often restore the color of carpets, even if produced by acid or alkali. If a ceiling has been whitewashed with the carpet down, and a few drops are visible, this will remove it. Or, after the carpet is well beaten and brushed, scour with ox gall, which will not only extract grease but freshen the colors—1 pint of gall in 3 gallons of warm water, will do a large carpet. Table floor-cloths may be thus washed. The suds left from a wash where ammonia is used, even if almost cold, cleanses these floor-cloths well.
(These are only a few choice morsels -- the entire volume may be downloaded from Project Gutenberg).
Monday, August 5, 2013
The spousal unit is installing a new toilet. It is not going well.
He (frustrated): Why would two inches make that much difference?
He (frustrated): Why would two inches make that much difference?
Thursday, August 1, 2013
About 0400 Sunday I woke up feeling as though someone had me gimbel-mounted and was using me for a gyroscope. I am currently on two different medications, one of which causes drowsiness, the other causing drowsiness and blurred vision.
It's either some kind of viral infection attacking my inner ear, or Meniere's disease (My sister the RN is such a comfort). I'll let you know. Once the room stops spinning.