Thursday, March 27, 2008

Streaming While Conscious

Couple of thoughts from the last few days.

First, please note that I started this entry on Friday afternoon while Pink Martini was jammin' away on my iTunes. That always makes me happy.

Spent the week (Wednesday - Tuesday) spring cleaning while Bee was out of town. She came home to a house she didn't recognize, that's how thorough I was. Anyway... One of my cleaning tasks included the oven. Of course, these new fangled gadgets no longer require cleaners like Easy Off. Now, you just flip a switch on the oven, it locks, and the temperature rises to an insanely high degree. When it's all done, you let it cool, open it up, and do a basic soapy water wipe down.

But here's the problem: the smell. And it fills the ENTIRE house. I had every possible window I could open, um, open* and still, the smell. And the process took a friggin' FOUR hours. One hour into the process, I wasn't sure I could bear the remaining three hours. Ick. And my oven wasn't even that dirty. Just one baked on spill in the bottom that was its own carbon footprint. That was it! So little to clean is not worth the side effect. I think I'm going back to Easy Off! I'd rather deal with that nasty, chemical stuff then have the entire house smell like it couldn't get a proper fire going.

Next thought. Or rather, call for assistance. I need recommendations for a good waffle iron and a good butter dish. Here are my requirements: for the waffle iron, it must be constructed such that I can disassemble it for cleaning. At the same time, I don't want to have to sell the cat to pay for the darn thing. Surely there is a waffle-making apparatus out there that is relatively inexpensive, but won't send me into fits and strokes every time I use it and then am unable to clean it to the standard of cleanliness I expect in such tools.

In terms of the butter dish, I'm tired of using a plate, because cat hair floats and invariably I find a fine cat hair in my butter. Not cool. Totally not cool. I have a butter dish that I use when I remember about the cat hair thing, but it makes me crazy, too. It's narrow and covered and that's the problem. The narrowness of it results in the butter and the cover often coming into contact with one another which then results in the cover and the dish ending up all buttery and slippery around the edges. In short, it's just not a good fit. So, I'm looking for something a little wider and deeper than your run-of-the-mill butter dish. Help!

And that leads me to another thought. I like my butter neither rock hard (unless I'm eating it like cheese on a really good crusty bread, which I do on occasion. It's an inherited thing) nor goopy soft (unless I'm using it as waterproofing on my sandwich to keep the jam/tuna/mustard from soaking through my bread. That's just gross, frankly.) Why aren't fridges equipped with a door/drawer that allows you to set a temperature that keeps your butter "just right"? And where are the three bears when you need them to invent this kind of thing? I'm the Goldilocks of butter--I like it just right.

So, those were my thoughts on Friday....


Ah, Saturday! Cleaning to the strains of Mahler. Rather robust, Teutonic music indeed.

What I love about classical music is hearing the bits and bobs that have influenced today's contemporary, one-day-to-be-listed-as-classical composers like John Williams, Hans Zimmer, and the like. Oh, I know what you're saying. Williams and Zimmer and et. al are in no way classical composers. Well, I dare say in Mozart's and Mahler's and Holst's and Smetana's and Tchaikovsky's day no one thought of them as classical initially. It often takes decades, if not centuries, and generally the death of the composer before their music is finally appreciated for all of its subtleties and nuances.

Oh, hell. What do I know? Call me on my crap musicians-of-the-blogosphere. Besides, writing soundtracks for movies can hardly qualify as classical, right? All I know is, I'm glad my parents instilled in us an appreciation for good music--whether it's 5 minutes or 500 years old. Regardless, Mahler is hearty, heady stuff to clean to, let me tell ya! I felt like I was not just cleaning, I was conquering. I wonder what would happen if I had Wagner to accompany me?

And speaking of Mahler, between it and the clanging and banging of cleaning the bathroom from floor to ceiling and creating order out of matter unorganized in the linen closet, I drove the cats to the basement. At one point, Pee-Oh-Gee-Oh looked at me with malevolence as if to say, "If I had my way, you'd be banished from here. Permanently."

Spring cleaning is a huge deal when I do it. I'm not exaggerating when I say every single surface I touched last week was wiped, wiped again, and wiped trice. If we were listing the house for sale tomorrow, it would be in tip-top shape for showing. As it is, it's in tip-top shape for having guests and to live in and that's all I care about.


Monday morning: 6:53 AM. The Dirty Bastard Cat was allowed to sleep upstairs Sunday/Monday night. At 5:00, he decided it was time to scratch at the bedroom door. I could have killed him. Not necessarily because he's a cat (although, there is safe argument for that), but because I WAS TIRED!

Here's the rub: I'm not even 40 years old yet, but the last three days of cleaning and hosting Easter Dinner completely wiped me out! I ache.

That said, my linen closet is a thing of beauty! Thank God for the Container Store! If it wasn't for them, life would continue to be chaos. As it is, they cater to my obsessive need for orderliness and "a place for everything and everything in its place."

There you have it. My weekend. My thoughts. Nothing exciting. Lots of cleaning. Good food. Good company. All good.

It's all a thing of beauty. It's quiet and pleasant and makes me happy. And Bee was pleased, too! Now we just need to gussy up the yard, repair the side stairs, dig up the dirt strip and lay brick in the back, and my life will be complete!


One last note....

Now that you've read this far, you've probably forgotten about my request for recommendations on a good waffle iron and a better butter dish.

Just a reminder: I'm looking for recommendations on a good waffle iron and a better butter dish! Thank you!

* Note: In a house with 20 windows, only eight actually open and none of them are on the main floor where the kitchen is. My thanks to the idiot who bought and flipped my house and his construction crew who painted all of them shut. Really swell. Must get screens on the main floor doors so I can open them and not risk the cats wandering outside (though I wouldn't feel bad about that, but you know....)


Di said...

That much cleaning makes me tired just hearing about it. Woe betide the first person to mess anything up at your house after all that work. I'm looking at you, pee-oh-gee-oh. :-o

I believe Cook's has recommended the Butter Bell in the past as a good way to store butter safely and at the proper temperature. I haven't tried it myself, but I've heard good things:

Waffle iron? No clue.

Phoenix Touch said...

Good lord, Tewkesy! sounds like you had a marvelously fun weekend. For real. I hate cleaning so reading about your apparent delight in doing so exhausted me. I need a nap now.

When you find the good waffle iron, let me know. I want one too!


Cele said...

Are you sure you don't want to sell the cat?

You are making me realize what a terrible house keeper I am.

Oh mi gosh Di kewl butterbells, I had to watch the whole video, but darn they are made in China. I am not sure I can go there.

Jess said...

We have the best waffle iron ever. I did tons of research before I bought it, and then found out that my sister had independent also done tons of research to buy a waffle iron and bought the same one. It's $80, which is cheaper than it was when I bought it, and we don't use it that often but I haven't had trouble cleaning it. Not sure if it can be taken apart in the way you're thinking, but maybe... either way, it's worth checking out.

Anonymous said...

Which waffle iron is best for you really depends on whether you like Belgian waffles with the big divots, or American waffles with the little ones. I grew up with American waffles, so we have a Black and Decker four-square waffle maker. The grids are removable and flippable so you can use it as a sandwich press if you want to. I've never removed them to clean or flip--if you're cooking your waffles at the right temperature, and remember to brush on a little oil or butter before you start, you shouldn't have a sticking problem.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

All that cleaning made me tired and achy.

Regarding everyone's recommendations surrounding better butter dishes and waffle irons, thank you.

A few years ago, Bee and I spent a long weekend in San Luis Obispo on California's Central Coast. Just north of SLO is a nearly-ghost town called Harmony, pop. 5. I bought a butter bell there, thinking "Cool concept!" But not so much. The water gets warm in an hour or so and the butter ends up a little too soft.

That said, though, in looking at butter bells again today, I notice a thing called a Dip Chiller. That might work.

The quest continues.

As for waffle irons, I've looked at the one you mentioned, Jess. My only hesitation is, it's held together by pieces of plastic, which eventually breakdown and melt. That said, though, I use a waffle iron so infrequently, it would probably be years anything would melt on me. I'll check out the Braun!

Thanks again everyone!

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

JA: I posted my comment before I saw yours. The waffle iron you describe is exactly like the kind I grew up with: American waffle grid with reversible plates. Oh, I love you! I'm going to B&D now and checking it out.

As for waffle preference, I can go either way. Belgian is good, American is good. I don't see or taste a lot of difference except in the grid size, so I'm indifferent.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

P.S. My problem with waffle irons isn't that my waffles stick. It's that I sometimes overestimate on the batter and I end up with batter in the cracks and crevices. I want a waffle iron where I can remove the plates and clean them.

Of course, if I was adept, I'd just make a point of not overestimating on the batter. But alas...

Anonymous said...

Doesn't everyone sometimes overpour on their waffle batter? I've never had a problem with cleanup on mine--the hot iron eventually cooks even the exterior drips, and they just pop off with a fingernail. That's why I've never had to remove the plates.

My sister has the same B&D iron. I used to have an even cooler vintage one *exactly* like the one I grew up with. My mom and I found it at a garage sale for 50 cents when I was leaving for college. But then my mom's original iron finally gave up the ghost, and she expropriated my garage sale model, which is still going strong 22 years later (making it more than 30 years old altogether). Man, they don't make things like they used to.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and if your butter's *that* soft, sounds like you need to turn down your thermostat a notch, or maybe keep the butter on the windowsill or next to an exterior door. We keep our thermostat at 70 and our butter on the counter next to the back door, and it's just right (like, the knife doesn't deform the whole stick when you cut off a pat, but it's still perfectly spreadable) on all but the very hottest summer days.