Thursday, July 28, 2011

My New Love (Don't worry COG, I still love you, too)

Be Still My Beating Heart.... The Paslode Cordless Nail Gun. Even writing that musical, beloved name makes my heart beat a little faster.

I rented it, but I want to buy one now. It made possible a project I have been working hard on and which I will show you when I am done.

Here's a hint - a picture of my dining room as it was last week with all the furniture pushed to one side so I could access the walls.

The thing about power tools is they are great equalizers. I am little, weak, and old but with power tools I can do nearly the same work as someone younger, bigger, stronger. Technology is wonderful that way.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

What I've Been Doing..

Among the many things I've done lately (while not blogging) is organizing my pantry. Of course, it was pretty organized to begin with, but the pasta, pulses and grains were a bit of a mess - mostly in plastic bags thrown into one of several wire baskets. As a consequence I never knew quite what I had or where it was.

A trip to Sister Rose's house inspired me. She was using quart-sized spaghetti sauce jars for her rice and nuts and it looked quite tidy. On the way home, I suddenly had an epiphany. I could use actual canning jars. So, I went to Essex Agricultural Coop (because they are the only place I knew that has canning supplies all year long) and I bought quart jars and half gallon jars. At home, I transferred all my stuff to jars and made labels. It looks so neat now and I know what I've got - more than 10 kinds of rice, for example (that would be brown and white jasmine, brown and white basmati, brown and white sushi, wild rice, arborio rice, English pudding rice, red rice from the Camargue, a couple of rice blends) 4 kinds of lentils (Brown, red, yellow and Puy) etc.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Great Blue Heron Rookery

The COG and I went for a drive to find a Great Blue Heron Rookery he had heard about. A rookery is like a nursery, where chicks are raised. It turned out to be a short walk through the woods, then a primeval looking place -a huge marsh, with lots of dead pine trees in the middle. The pine trees were like apartment buildings with nests stacked over nests and teeming with herons. It's not a great picture, but the nests are fairly obvious - they are the darker, thicker bits you see going up the tree trunks. We stayed for quite a while - it was so amazing to see so many herons at once. Usually you see one which flies off the moment you see it, but here there were a hundred or more. Often 3 or 4 to a nest, the young ones already very large and nearly fully fledged. Soon the rookery will be deserted and they will all return to their solitary ways.

The Cranky Old Geezer has posted a few better pictures he took so you can see more clearly.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Home Made Pizza

We made pizza last night. I used a no-knead bread recipe for the crust, which was fantastic. And we set the oven to 500 degrees for an hour before baking, so our baking stone could heat up properly. We used fresh tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, ricotta, olives, parmesan, red pepper flakes and finely chopped garlic to top the pizzas. We baked them, one at a time, for 3 minutes, then turned the broiler on for an additional 3 or so minutes - until they were nicely browned. I added torn purple basil when I took them out of the oven.


Click Here for a link to a video explaining the method.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Vinegar Miracle

I'm going to start posting regularly again. Today I just want to share something I just learned. It's so delightful that after so many years of life, there are still things to learn.

Anyway, in the summer we have a problem with mildewy smelling towels. It happens every summer. There is no visible mildew, but there's that horrible moldy smell. In the past, I have treated it with bleach in every washload and hot water. But it hasn't been very effective. They smell fine out of the dryer, but after a day or two of use they begin to leave a mildewy smell on your skin. Yecchh.

So I did a little research online and discovered that bleach doesn't actually kill mildew. It bleaches dark stains of mildew, but it doesn't kill it. To kill it, you can use white vinegar. I've heard of this before but was always skeptical. It sounded too eco-friendly to actually work. But a painter I know said that white vinegar is the best thing to treat mildewy areas of woodwork inside and outside of homes before painting and that impressed me. So I tamped down my skepticism and I tried it. It worked fantastically. No mildew smell at all since I first did it several weeks ago.

Here's what I did: I soaked the towels for 1 hour, in my washer with the hottest possible water, to which I added 1 cup of white vinegar and only enough water to barely cover the towels. After an hour, I let it finish the wash cycle and then washed again using detergent and the hottest water. Then I dried them in the dryer at the hottest setting.

Now when I wash them each week, I add 1 cup of white vinegar to the wash and use hot water.

And presto, chango! No mildew.