I'd much rather read than write so it's not much of a blog...

Monday, November 28, 2011

Budget Buster

When we moved into this house we replaced very old, very beat-up built-in kitchen appliances. It didn't seem a wholly unreasonable thing to do since we weren't replacing the cabinets. It was only a couple of years ago when a stop on the oven door, possibly a spring, broke that I fully realized the additional cost of built-ins and that I was right and truly stuck with them.

Now the bottom heating element in the 23-year-old oven isn't working. I have to do something but I don't like my choices.

For one thing, I do not like 'stainless' appliances. I do not want my kitchen to look anything like a commercial enterprise and I do not want to clean more fingerprints than I already do but it's gotten nearly impossible to find anything other than 'stainless'.

It also irritates me no end that these things are being built with shorter and shorter life expectancies. I had to call Dacor to find out if they even make a replacement heating element and the young man I spoke to said they estimate the life of their new ovens to be seven to ten years!!! I don't know about Electrolux; I don't think I want to know.

What I would like to do is just bite the bullet, buy the Electrolux and slide it into the cabinet even if it doesn't fit perfectly.

But no, it won't fit, even imperfectly. It turns out manufacturers have resolved one of the problems I've had with my old oven, the shallow depth. The new ovens require the full cabinet depth and a junction box below the cutout floor.

We are now looking at a new oven and a new cabinet. Just shoot me.

The repairman comes today. I know it doesn't make much sense to put money into the old oven but even if we were ready to order things today it would several weeks before I would have a working oven again. I'm just hoping the heating element can be fixed...

And I'm just glad I wasn't planning to host Thanksgiving.

I Once Was Gaga for Aga

Thinking about the kitchen and ovens reminds me of one of my favorite fantasies, having an Aga cooker. Maybe I'll at least visit one again someday at The Sugartree.

Graham Hewison and Maxine Longmuir

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Cactus Reborn

My husband used to pick up a little floral item for my mother when he stopped to see her on his trips to visit his own family. Several years ago he gave her this Thanksgiving cactus. My mother liked it because even when it wasn't blooming it provided a welcome bit of color.

One night during her last winter at Governor's Pointe, the cactus froze when it was left on the sill of an open window. My mother kept it in its freeze-dried state until her move last November when I half-heartedly packed it with the stuff I brought home.

I don't really know why I bothered but I put it on the porch and every once in awhile I gave it some water. Last spring when I was potting up seedlings I finally repotted the cactus and a few weeks later I was astonished to see little bits of new growth. I've never had one of these cacti before so it's been fascinating to watch this sad thing come back to life after months of absolutely nothing.

And now it's blooming!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

End of an Era

Every so often these days something reminds me anew my mother is gone. Not being able to share "The Goat Rodeo Sessions" with her (we listened to a lot of Yo Yo Ma in her last days) is one thing. My current jam & jelly inventory is another.

Over the years the jam making fell to me. After my mother moved to assisted living she actually went through more jam because she would take a jar to the dining room at breakfast and share it with her tablemates or give a jar to someone as a thank you gift.

Over the past year my mother wasn't using much jam at all and – I'm not sure why –  I haven't been giving away as much as I used to so now it comes as a bit of surprise every time I open the freezer door and see it only half-full.

(Even though I don't make freezer jam I keep my jam in a freezer because the color and the flavor hold up so much better.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Goat Rodeo Sessions

I haven't enjoyed a new recording this much in a long time. I can't count how many times I've played it in the past week and it's still making me smile.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Toni Onley 1928-2004

I first saw the work of Toni Onley in a gallery in Victoria, B.C. years ago. I always thought it would be a daunting task to chose one of the many luminous landscapes he painted but if I had $15,000 to spend today – and a wall big enough – I think I would chose the 40x30 oil, 
"Pond, Asuka, Japan".  

As it is I was happy to find a limited number of Onley's watercolors are still available as prints and from them we chose "Heel Rock" to commemorate #40 . I love it and at 27.5x21.5, framed, I didn't have to build an addition to hang it...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Autumn 2011

It has been a spectacular fall here and I feel lucky to have had the chance to get caught up on so much of what I wasn't able to do this summer. Last night it didn't get below 48º/9º and while I'm not sure that's a good thing, I'm happy to be heading back out this morning to reclaim the beds in the front of the house.

My father always insisted that an Indian Summer could only occur after a killing frost and while the temperatures may not be quite warm enough this week, it's Indian Summer in my book.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Garlic & Aioli

Thermadrone Garlic

I didn't plant garlic last year so I bought more than usual this year including a couple of first-time varieties, Thermadrone and Leningrad. I made aioli with three small cloves of the Thermadrone and after tasting it I selected twelve big cloves to plant in the garlic bed this past week. I really can taste the reason why this garlic is preferred for certain dishes.

I got  my Thermadrone, Metechi, Chesnook Red and some Nootka Rose in my first-time order from P D Farms through Gourmet Garlic Gardens. I will definitely order from them again; all the garlic I have from them is an exceptionally nice size, very clean and well cured. I've also planted some Music again, this time from another GGG grower closer to home, Eric Hickey. He also grows the Leningrad. Last but not least, I'm trying some Red Toch again from Big John's Garden

I know enough now to order early but I'm sorry that it was only after I had blown my garlic budget that I discovered an organic grower I patronized several years ago at the Regional Market is now exclusively growing garlic!

I will order some garlic from Darren and Salvere Farm next year.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Homage to Tony Liu

What a truly glorious thing; this phal has been in bloom for over four MONTHS! I bought it last year when I was mourning a big phalaenopsis I'd lost after more than fifteen years, and this is the first rebloom. This year, for the first time I can remember, all my orchids bloomed at the same time but this one has lasted by far the longest with eighteen 4½" splendid blossoms.

Thank you Tony Liu.

I usually take a few minutes before I check out at Wegman's to look at the orchids from Tony Liu's The Orchid Place. Usually I'm satisfied to just look but this lovely pale pink phal came home with me and now it has done so well, seems to be so strong and healthy, that I may add another someday.