Category Archives: Cooking

Has this ever happened to you?

Yesterday I was thinking of baked potatoes to go with the broiled lamb steak and broccoli I wanted to serve for dinner.  Usually we don’t get baked potatoes for dinner because I fail to prep in time to serve them.

So my reasoning for quick baked potato prep went like this:

Wash potatoes; put into cold oven; set heat for 375 degrees; set timer for one hour; go watch program on TV while they bake.

Easy-peasy-baked potatoes!

The timer went off and I went to the kitchen to check to see if the potatoes were done.  I gave the one on the right a quick squeeze and it appeared to be done.  I checked the one on the left and it still felt a bit hard.

“Odd.”  I thought

What happened next was stunning!  I began to pull my hand out of the oven, thinking to let it finish baking, and

POOHhhh!

It exploded covering the entire oven and the oven door with potato dust!

Now I am certain that we have all heard the admonishment to prick your potatoes before baking, but has any one of you ever actually experienced this event?  I would venture to guess that you, like me (until last evening) has not.  ;)

I went looking to find some scientific explanation of how this works, and strangely no one learned speaks of such common science.  However, those of us with even limited exposure to scientific learning know that anything that builds up pressure without allowing it to vent will explode.  Ever had a balloon pop in your face when you tried to inflate it?

(Only in the 60s could they bring this to you with such verve… HA!)

In the case of my potato, it had built up steam and my little squeeze caused a weakening in the skin.  I am very grateful that the exploding potato waited for me to remove my hand and stand up before blowing up!

Potato-explosionOf all the potatoes I have ever baked this is the first to explode on me.  

Well, I guess it had to happen sooner or later.   My brand new oven has now been christened.   :shock:

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There were two things I did differently this time:

  • I didn’t coat the skins with olive oil 
  • I put them in to cook while the oven came to temperature

This could have had something to do with it, or it could have been just a fluke.     One thing is certain;  from now on I will stab all my potatoes before baking!

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Now there are some out there who think this can only happen in a microwave, and others who think this is just an old wives tale.  I am here to tell you that they are wrong.

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Has anyone else out there been the victim of strange kitchen science?

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ACCOLADES:  My husband Bob cleaned up the mess for me while I went out put the animals away, and when I came back in the mess was gone.  Isn’t he sweet!

Wednesday’s Words: sexist games

Old add

When I was growing up my mother hated getting “tools” as gifts.  No matter how badly she needed it she could go on for decades about getting a mixer or a vacuum cleaner for a birthday or Christmas present, and thereby make my dad miserable for having thought of it.

So it is strange to me that the ads of the day made out like it was everything your little heart could desire, and worthy of begging and a little pouting to get the proffered appliances, such as in the above ad.  Later these sort of ads would be considered sexist and disappear altogether.

Which is why it is ironic that I should grow up to want these items for gifts…

As I have gotten older I have come to appreciate my ability to fix what breaks around the house.  I also appreciate a well made appliance that lasts, like my Oster Kitchen Center we purchased almost 30 years ago.  It came with everything:  A counter top base, blender, food processor, meat grinding attachment and of course, a mixing head.

Somewhere around the 10th year the little *rheostat went out, and Oster had quit making the appliance in favor of a different machine to accomplish each of those jobs.  (Like I wanted to fill my cupboards with six separate appliances or horrors, leave them out on my counter!)   So I bravely opened the base and pulled out the part to replace it with a new one.  Later it would be a gear inside the mixing head, which apparently was its weakest link, and which of course they no longer made!  I went to Ebay to find what I wanted and lo and behold…

They had a complete kitchen center up for auction still in the box and unused.  That was two years ago and I won it!  “Great, now I will have spare parts!” I thought.

Unfortunately, even though the item was unused in the box, there was one part that time and the elements would eventually get to.  It is (essentially) a red rubber band with gear notches in it that turns to indicate your settings.  These are also not made anymore, and because they were all produced so long ago none of them will be usable.  They get sticky with age and won’t allow the knob to turn.

Recently, I went searching for a replacement and haven’t found anything that compares in function or durability.  Apparently, even the much esteemed Kitchenaid is  no longer the wonder machine it was in the past,  or so say the complaint makers on Amazon.

Complaints about the machine are:

  1. “It leaks oil from inside down into the contents of what you are mixing in the bowl.” and…
  2. “Kitchenaid is now made by Sears and no longer offers a 10 year warranty.”   (please see the special comments at the end)

I have gone out and tried to find one with the 10 year warranty and couldn’t.  Strangely, I could find machines costing $199.99 with a one year warranty,  and much pricier machines for $350.00 to $450.00 and still only carrying the one year warranty.

Who wants to spend $ 300.00 – 450.00 for a machine that only carries a one year warranty?

A kitchen ICON has died.

Today I am going to take the scissors and cut the little red band off.  I will no longer be able to see the speed at which I am running my kitchen center, but at least it will run and will not leak oil into my food!

Oh, and by the way, if there were a quality appliance that was made here in the US, and worth the money the manufacturer asked for…

You can be assured that I would be “crying a little” and pouting if necessary, to get it.

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This just in:

OK,  I did my homework and the new KitchenadeArtisan KSM150PS is an all metal construction, and has metal gears!  It still only carries a one year warranty, but I just found eReplacement Parts that sells Kitchenaide parts, and shows videos on HOW to replace those parts including the fix for the oil leak.  Interestingly, the oil leak happens because the food-grade, gear grease separates, and the gear grease separates when you don’t use your machine enough to keep it well mixed.  And I wonder, why would you spend this much money on a mixer if you don’t use it very often?

So, if cutting the little red band off my Oster Kitchen Center doesn’t work, then I think I will go for it and get the above mentioned Kitchenade.    :)

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PS:  The operation didn’t work, but this does!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And I didn’t even have to whine.  ;)

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*rheostat: a resistor for regulating a current by means of variable resistances.  In other words it controls the speed. 

~*~*~*~  A special “Thank you” to Julia, of Julia’s Place,  for the vintage ad which inspired today’s post. ~*~*~*~

In the Garden: planting octopi

Last month my order from Stark’s Nursery arrived, and the box was almost as big as me!  It contained three bare root fruit trees, an apple, peach, and plum, and twenty asparagus plants.

I was delighted!

We planted the three trees that very Sunday, and I took care of the asparagus on Monday.   I must confess that planting asparagus is like trying to plant an octopus!  Or in this case twenty octopi!  It was very hard work, and Violet helped, but I was tired!

PROCEDURE:

First you dig the hole, then mound up the dirt in the center and place your octopus over the mound like this.

So what’s so hard about that you ask?

Let me back up, then.  Well, for starters I had to entirely amend that clay soil to make it permeable.  Asparagus puts down a very deep root system, some say six feet, others say up to ten feet, and they like good drainage.  Luckily, our clay seems to drain well, but I wanted to give it at least a two foot head start with the amendments.  I had the advantage with the raised bed, but that still meant going down into the base soil for that extra foot.

The next step was getting the tentacles and crown to lay flat on the little hills while I back-filled each hole.  The crowns need to be two to three inches under the soil with no air pockets underneath.   I spread them out, placing the long, rubbery roots down into the soil.  I pressed the crown down and  PoP!  They spring right back up!  I finally learned to just weight them down by placing several large handfuls of soil on the center of the plant.

Now I had to dig, mound, spread roots, hold down crowns and back-fill nineteen more times.

Only three more to go!

The plants are in and watered.  Now I wait.  You see, asparagus takes about three years to mature to a size where you can harvest from the plants.  This is an investment of preparation, care, and time.  However, if you enjoy asparagus, and we do, it is definitely worth the effort, because an asparagus bed will last for years!

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My favorite way to eat asparagus is grilled.  You can do this outside on the barbecue, or in your oven using the broiler.

GRILLING ASPARAGUS:

You will need:

  1. One bunch of asparagus
  2. Olive oil
  3. Kosher salt

Preparation:

  1. Rinse asparagus and drain well
  2. Lightly coat with olive oil and place on foil lined grill if using the broiler, or directly onto a grilling tray if using the barbecue
  3. Lightly sprinkle with kosher salt

This method cooks relatively fast so stay close by.  When the one side has turned a darker green and looks a bit wrinkled (not too much!) turn the asparagus and finish the other side.  Serve immediately.

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NOTE:  Some people, Like the Barefoot Contessa like theirs served with a delightful Parmesan sauce and lemon!  Please click on her name above to be taken to her inspired recipe for this delicious vegetable!

UPDATE:

I just found this lovely article that tells all on Asparagus, its history, uses, nutrition and more.  For instance, did you know this power packed vegetable is from the lily family?  You might like to take a look here at Nutrition and You.

I recounted this story two years ago, and because it is one of my favorites I am sharing it with you again. Besides, some of my newest friends haven’t seen it yet.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
(Is is cheating to reblog yourself?) ;)