Coolsville

22 09 2014

Did you miss them?

The posts of me bitching about the hot and the mugg and the sun and the smell, capped off by the August I-hate-everything rant?

Yeah, didn’t happen this summer. Because this summer was. . . not bad.

Not bad at all; in fact, it was the best summer since I moved to New York.

There were occasional hot days, and a fair amount of humid days, but in June-July-August, there were damned few hot-and-humid days. The worst week of the summer was the first week of September, with temps in the eighties and dew points in the seventies—uncomfortable, but which discomfort was easily abated with a fan.

Okay, during one or two of those early-Sept days I could have turned on the a/c, but since I hadn’t bothered to put it in the window, I made do with the fan.

That’s right, it was so not-awful that I never needed to heave that box into position; instead, it remained hunkered down on an upside-down milk-crate beside my bed, an ersatz bed-stand for my (30+-year-old) clock radio and a couple of plants.

The only downside to the many cloudy days was the sadness of my windowbox-basil. It enjoyed the sun and rain thru most of June, but there was a big windy storm at the end of June, and it never fully recovered. I got enough leaves throughout the rest of the summer for salads and sandwich toppers, but not enough for pesto.

Still, that’s a trade-off I will make every time. And hell, isn’t that what greenmarkets are for, anyway? I bought a coupla’ bunches for a few bucks and whipped up another year’s worth o’ basily and garlicky goodness.

Of course, me being me, I’ve already had moments of dread about next summer—which is a decent argument for trying to get away from oneself from time to time.

And hey, it’s supposed to be a cold winter! That I can look forward to!

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Eating fresh fruit when it’s in season

8 09 2013

Ahhh, cortland apples are now popping up at the Greenmarkets.

My most favoritest fruit.

Last year it seemed as if it wasn’t available until late September, and then the apples were small and given to softness. They were still around in the markets into November, I think, but by late season they were all soft.

Which is too bad, because while the taste is pleasing, it is the sweet-tart in combination with the dense crispness that makes the cortland so delicious. That first bite explodes the apple, as if its juice were under pressure beneath the taut skin, snapping you to the fact that this is not a meal to be eaten mindlessly: attention must be paid.

I expect to pay attention daily for the next six weeks or so.

~~~

“Brand loyalty is for suckers”—that’s my thing.

However. I should also point out when something is well done, well, that matters.

Years ago, when I had more than two dimes to rub together, I bought some really nice pots, pans, and knives through various open source sales at Dayton’s. I was in the midst of trying to convince myself that I would enjoy cooking and thought that good stuff would aid in that endeavor.

It didn’t: I don’t really like cooking. Still, the good stuff is good, and to the extent that I do cook, it helps.

Anyway, one of the pots I bought was a Calphalon, and it was that lid which shattered a few weeks ago. Given that Calphalon is a fairly high-end product, I thought I’d check if the lid were covered by warranty. It was an old lid—over ten years old—and there was something on the site that mentioned certain old pots & pans weren’t covered.

But nothin’ about lids, so I thought I’d send an e-mail, inquiring. And I heard back, and after a few back-and-forths (requests for further information, a jpeg of the lid in question), the very nice customer service rep, Tony, said he’d said me a new lid.

Which completely surprised me: I really thought he’d send an apologetic “it’s too old. . .” email and include a link for where to purchase a new lid.

So I got it, and while it’s not as good as the old lid—the brim is wider (I think because it’s meant to fit on multiple pots/pans) and the glass isn’t as rounded—it’s still a mighty fine lid, and I am very glad to have it.

For free.

I stand by Brand loyalty is for suckers, but just because I think it’s silly to decide a purchase solely on brand, it’s also silly to ignore the good experience one has had with a product. It’s not that from here on out, I’ll only buy Calphalon (assuming need and finances, of course), but they’ll at least get first look.

~~~

Oh, and that whole don’t-like-cooking thing? This pretty much extends to everything food-preparation.

I mean, I kinda—kinda—like baking, and I’ll happily help someone else in the kitchen, but if you were to ask me, Absurdbeats, how do you like to relax/entertain/enjoy yourself? cooking ain’t appearing anywhere in my response.

Actually, I find this whole DIY-trend to basic living mildly alarming. I have no desire to grow my own cotton, weave my own cloth, sew my own clothes, make my own pasta, or churn my own ice cream. Yes, I’ll occasionally whip up a batch of cookies, and I do make the best caramel corn in the world, but I do these things because I like to eat them, not because I like to make them.

Okay, yes, I wouldn’t mind a garage in which I could put some basic woodworking tools—table, miter, and band saws, drill press, sander (and I’d take a class on how truly to work this stuff, rather than half-assing it as I currently do)—and I did kind of dig throwing pottery. And yes, if I had a yard, I’d probably give a garden a go—tho’ if I didn’t enjoy it, I’d plow that sucker under and put in some berry bushes.

But on the food-and-clothing front, I am more than happy to have someone else do the work. I do some sewing repairs because I’m a cheap bastard who hates waste, and I cook some stuff because I’m a cheap bastard who finds it easier to make the basic shit myself rather than overpay for it.

It’s just not that hard to make a plate of pasta.

Anyway, on the not-overpaying front, I did make 3-ish batches of pesto today. My basil was still growing, but the plants were getting so little light that it was past time to pull ’em up. I’d have had more basil had I not clipped a bunch recently, but I think I got enough to get me into next summer.

I could have supplemented with some Greenmarket basil, but I thought I’d see how far my own stuff would take me. If it’s not enough, I’ll adjust next year.

One point in my favor this year: I figured out ahead of time how to assemble the mixer such that I don’t spill the contents when I remove the container from the motor. It’s really not that complicated, I know, but last year I put some part outside of the jar  that should have gone inside of it, and when I lifted that sucker up. . . pesto everywhere.

And you wonder why I don’t enjoy kitchen life.





We might as well try (or not. . .)

19 09 2012

Posts in my head, not on the page—so I bring you instead pics of This Absurd Household.

Back in May I decided to experiment with growing basil, so I bought a few wee plants and rigged up a box planter (I stuck a tension rod in the window track, stuck the box on the ledge, then secured it with a bungi cord hooked to the rod):

A week or so after I set ’em up

That window faces west-south-west, but as its set back a bit I wasn’t sure it would get enough sun.

Here’s how they looked in early August:

Those little buggers were water fiends, taking up a soaking every other day, and not minding if they got rained on some more.

I didn’t take any pictures in September before I harvested most of the leaves, but they got bigger and bushier and leaned over the lip of the box toward the sun. I bought extra basil from the Bowling Green green-market in order to make pesto, but next year I might just plant a few extra and see if I have enough for my, what, 5 or 6 double-batches.

The plants still have quite a few leaves: Since I bought basil I only took the larger leaves to supplement the purchase, and the smaller leaves have since filled out nicely. I think I’m going to harvest the rest in the next week or so and try to freeze ’em.

Now, on to the critters.

This is what I awoke to one morning:

Wonder how this happened. . .

The ottoman should, obviously, be parked against the chair, the footstool under the chair, and that rug should, well, should not be visible from this angle.

The cats do enjoy skiing on that rug, and Trickster likes to hide herself behind the little moguls she creates after bunching it all up.

Speaking of the Tricky Girl, she’s a pretty, pretty kitty:

Everything here is mine

She looks quite elegant there, doesn’t she? Well, she also has a habit of slunking down:

She leans her head forward down; it would look like a hunch, except that she extends rather than scrunches her neck.

Anyway, she’s a gorgeous weirdo.

And the Kitty-boy, the most beautiful black cat in the world? (You might think your black cat is the most beautiful black cat in the world, but you would be wrong.)

Well, Jasper also has the BEST PROFILE IN THE WORLD—but he refuses to let me take a picture of it:

This is as close as I could get, and you can’t really see it.

You can, however, see his impressive claws. . .

. . . which, yes, I should cut more often, but I like how they look. (I know, I know: stupid human.)

That desk, by the way, is 42 inches across. Yes, Jasper is a big, big cat.

And how do the cats get along?

At least in this instance they’re not doing this at 3 in the morning. On top of me.

Anyway, back to words tomorrow.