Sunday, 16 July 2017

PB&J Pizza

We're about to have some major home improvements, so we need to move out for a few weeks. As such, we've been using all the perishable foodstuffs.

We move out tomorrow, and all we have left are some celery stalks and some cabbage. Oh ... and some flatbreads.

The flatbreads are called "pizza bases", and have a use-by date of 28th June, so they are only 3 weeks out-of-date.

After picking off the pieces of bread that look suspiciously like mold, I put the pizza bases into the oven to heat through. the heating instructions say to cover the bases with preferred pizza toppings, but we have no cheese, no meats, no fish, no toppings at all. We have tomato ketchup.

We have a discussion about what to put on the pizza bases. Doris suggests peanut butter and jam. I ask her about ketchup, but she gags a little, so it's probably a poor idea.

After 10 minutes of heating, I retrieve the pizza bases. They are all hard. No problem, I'm sure they'll soften up when I spread some butter on them.
No they don't. The butter just melts and slides over the bases, not being absorbed at all.

Oh well, let's try the peanut butter.
Umm, that's all clumpy. It needs lots of spreading, and it's still sliding over the butter.

Finally, let's dump some homemade jam on top.

It looks just like pizza!
I managd to get a jam dribble all the way down my chin, and I had to clean the seat onto which I placed the plate to take that photo. Doris managed to drip jam all over her t-shirt. They also snap when I fold them in half, but hey - dinner is served!

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

De-scaling the water heater

We have a Bosch Filtrino water heater for heating water for tea & coffee, as it heats 250ml of water at a time, by induction, saving energy compared with a kettle's power requirements.

There are two indicators to the bottom-left of the device. The upper indicator lights wen a certain number of measures have been dispensed, indicating that the filter probably needs changing. This light has been lit for a few months, as we promptly lost the manual and don't know the process for extinguishing the light. The lower indicator is the relevant one here, though.

It lit a few weeks ago. Looking online, I see that it means that the device needs to be de-scaled. We live in a very hard water area, so it's no surprise that de-scaling is needed, and our previous water heater had to be thrown away after lexcessive limescale build-up clogged all the internals and the motor burned out.

So, we're aware that we need to perform regular maintenance. As I mentioned, we lost the manual. So, we didn't bother doing it.

Anyway, it stopped working last week. I decided to bite the bullet and find a manual online that would tell me how to de-scale the device.

After perhaps 30 minutes searching, I finally found the manual. It wasn't easy to find. The manual had a whole section on how to de-scale the device.

I read the instructions ... turn the device off, empty the water chamber, refill it to a "de-scaling mark" with limescale-removing solution, turn the device on while holding the "power" button down, and wait 10 seconds, until the solution is passed through the device. When completed, run 3 tanks of water through the device to make sure all the de-scaler is removed.

Ok, all sounds straightforward.

Until I reach the "limescale-removing solution". I double- and triple-check the instructions, and they read "use the instructions for your limescale remover to produce the correct strength of de-scaling solution". I read the instructions on the bottle of "Limelight" that I have. It just says "Safe for use throughout the bathroom and the kitchen. Can be used neat or diluted". this presents me with a dilemma. Should I use it neat, pouring the whole 500ml bottle of limescale remover into the water heater, or should I dilute it?

I decide that I should dilute it, because I can always retry the process if it doesn't work very well, adding more limescale remover until it works properly. So I add a couple of long squirts of the limescale remover to 500ml of water, and begin the process.

The water doesn't flow very fast, but it DOES flow. After it's finished, I can see some flakes of limescale in the jug, but the "please de-scale me" light is still lit, so I pour the waste water back into the chamber and try again.

The water flows a little faster this time, with more flakes, but the light is still lit. I try again.

The water flows faster still, with a cloud of limescale in the waste, but the light is still lit. I wait for it to settle in the jug before decanting into the chamber and trying again.

The water is almost back to its original flow-rate, with more cloudy waste water. Eventually, after perhaps 10 of these run-throughs, the "please de-scale me" light is extinguished.

Folling instructions, I run 3 tanks of water through the device. I run another three tanks, just in case.

I heat water for a coffee. It tastes of de-scaler. I pour the coffee away.

I run another three tanks of water through the device. No change - still tastes like de-scaler.

I run tanks of water through the device for hours. When I'm finally fed up with this, I make coffee for Doris and myself. Doris complains that it tastes of de-scaler, but dammit - I'm going to drink it anyway.

For the next week, I have instant coffee and I have to brew filter coffee for Doris. She eventually relents, saying that the taste is almost gone. This leaves me with one question: if limescale remover is safe to use throughout the bathroom and kitchen, how toxic is it going to be if drunk?

Check the oven

Doris told me that she was baking bread. When I went to make coffee later, I noticed that the breadmaker wasn't switched on, so I pressed the "go" button, and it started counting down 5 hours. When I told her of it, she summised that she had pressed the button to lengthen the baking time to 5 hours instead of pressing the button to bake.

When it was done, Doris removed the bread and left it to cool. After a while, I cut some slices, so we could have warm buttered bread for our tea.

I slathered Doris's slices with butter, but used the last of the tub on those. I looked for another tub of spreadable butter in the fridge. Nothing. I shouted to Doris in case I was man-searching, but she confirmed that we were out of spreadable butter. Ok, we have non-spreadable butter.
I couldn't find any non-spreadable salted butter, so I called again, and she confirmed that we didn't have any salted butter either. Ok, I thought, I can't have buttered bread - I'll toast mine and put cheese on it.

So, I switched the grill on (toaster oven?), and put the slices of bread into the toaster. I then cut slices of cheddar to lay on the toast for grilling.

When the toaster popped, I lay the cheese on the toast, and opened the grill door to pop the toast in, whereupon I discovered two thick steaks, vacuum packaged in plastic, being baked!

When I brought her buttered bread to Doris, I told her this story.
Me: " ... so I turned on the oven to preheat and -"
Doris: "THE STEAKS!"
Me: "Yes, the steaks. I found them hot, and I've taken them out of the oven"
Doris: "Is the plastic packaging all melted on them?"
Me: "I don't think so - it looks ok; only partially melted"

We ate the steaks in sandwiches for lunch today. They were delicious, and I didn't notice any taste of plastic at all!

Friday, 9 October 2015

Smoked Pork

Excitement tonight! I had my first real fire in the kitchen!

Grilled pork ("grilled" as in heated from above, rather than barbecued). I put 3 pork loin steaks under the grill, then turned the grill on. I didn't pre-heat. I then put some broccoli and cauliflower florets into a microwave steamer and gave the microwave 3 minutes.

After 3 minutes, I turned the pork and tested the veggies - still hard, so I put them on for another 2 minutes.

As the microwave timer went off, I went to check on the pork and veggies. Pork first.

I noticed that there was smoke coming out of the grill, so I turned it off. I opened the grill door and pulled the grill tray. "WHOOOF!" and flames erupted from the tray, up over the controls and half way up the microwave above. I thought to myself "this is interesting. I wonder how I put that out ..." and I shoved the grill tray back into the grill, shutting the door behind it, on the presumption that the oxygen would be used within seconds. It worked, and the fire was extinguished.

Loads of smoke was billowing out of the grill, and the smoke alarms were all complaining at me, but I decided that it was more important to retrieve the pork before the meat took on too much of the taste of smoke, so I got the pork out of the grill before turning off the smoke alarm. I realised that the whole basement was filled with smoke, so I had to open the window and turn on the extractor fan.

Every 5 minutes, for 20 minutes, the smoke alarms blared "SIREN SIREN SIREN - LEAVE THE HOUSE. THERE IS SMOKE IN THE KITCHEN!". The noise came from all three smoke alarms.

The pork tasted ok to me, although my partner commented "the pork is as tough as shoe leather".

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Burger Rolls & Poole Pottery

I had a couple of minor disasters this weekend. Neither of them worthy of posting here, but together, I think they provide a small indication as to my growing over-confidence as I manage to continue to provide food that's both edible and what I intended.

Yesterday (Saturday), it was my turn to cook the evening meal. Doris had cooked burgers for lunch, so she asked me for something different. My daughters are with us this weekend, and Xena suggested Nachos. Now, Doris can't have Nachos due to a capsicum intolerance, so I helped Xena with the Nachos (well, with grating the cheese and over-endowing them with soured cream), and I had a look in the fridge for something for Doris.

Doris suggested that she would be happy finishing-off the burger buns, with some prawn mayo. We had fresh prawns (ready-peeled - I'm not daft!) in the fridge, and some lemon mayo, so I agreed to prepare this.

I found that we didn't have much mayo, so I decided to spread it on the buns like butter, rather than mix the prawns in the mayo in a separate bowl.

After spreading, I layered the prawns in the buns. After a couple of layers, they were looking unstable, so I simply bunged the rest of the prawns onto the plate beside the two buns.

Doris took the plate, and Xena started to laugh. I asked her what was so funny, and she told me that I had managed to mix up the buns, so Doris had bottom-prawns-bottom and top-prawns-top. When I went to apologise to Doris for this, they both laughed at me, saying that it's worse that I hadn't noticed, rather than it being intentional.

Today, again it's my turn to cook dinner (Doris toasted bagels for breakfast, and we skipped lunch). Pasta Bake is something that I believe I cook better than she does, and everyone usually seems to appreciate my pasta bake, so I couldn't go wrong.

Doris has recently inherited a dinner set of Poole pottery, so we've donated our old crockery to a local cafe that's just starting up (and serves great food, cooking everything fresh and baking cakes in full view of the customers), called Tin Kitchen, and we've replaced it with the Poole pottery. It's the Twintone range, Mushroom & Sepia design. The soup bowls are a decent size for a portion of pasta bake, and they fit onto saucers, so the fork can be placed beside the bowl rather than sticking out of it.

I picked four bowls and four saucers (one each) from the cupboard. I picked up the first bowl and filled it with pasta bake. I put it onto the first saucer and moved it across the counter. I picked up the second saucer and served pasta bake onto it. I looked around for a saucer on which to put it, and had an "oh bugger" moment.

Doris is asking me why I have served three bowls-on-saucers and one bowl-on-its-own (I've put the other saucer straight in the dishwasher).

Friday, 30 January 2015

The simplest things ...!

It was my turn to cook this evening. I got home late, after spending the whole day out at work, and Doris asked for Cheese On Toast.

I baked the bread in the breadmaker a couple of days ago, and so it needed slicing. It was the end of the loaf, and I was aware that I would not be able to cut the bread without problems, so Doris came and sliced it for me, using her meat slicer. She tried to convince me to use her slicer, but I am happy to have 5 digits on each hand, so I declined.

I cut the cheese, put it on the bread and put it under the grill.

After a minute, I realised that I hadn't put ketchup on the toast before I had put the cheese on, so I took the bottle of ketchup to Doris with an apology, and returned to the grilling cheese.

As I retrieved the toast from the grill, I noticed that it wasn't as rigid as normal. I examined the underside of the toast, and realised that I had also forgotten to toast the bread before putting the cheese on!

Cheese On Toast is probably the easiest dinner that can be made:

1. Slice the bread
I failed

2. Toast the bread
I failed

3. Cut the cheese
I did this bit

4. Spread ketchup on the toast
I failed

5. Put the cheese on the toast
I did this bit

6. Grill the cheese
I did this bit, and didn't set off the smoke alarm.

Six steps, and I failed at half of them!

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Mushroom corguettes

I cooked a fry up for breakfast this morning, after being gently prompted by the request "Make me breakfast, bitch!"

I fried back bacon rashers (which, I have been told, are pork. Not made-from-pigs-pork, as I knew that, but an-actual-port-joint-pork that is pork when cut in one way and bacon when cut in a different way), bacon medallions (which, I have also been told, are simply back bacon rashers with all the fat removed, in which case we're paying extra for something that has the taste crippled) and eggs. Looking in the fridge, I saw some courgettes, and I like crunchy courgettes so I thought I would fry some of those, too.

All went ok, although the eggs were rather small. An egg box of "free range eggs - mixed size" seems to be equivalent to an egg box of "small eggs".

About 2 hours later, Doris innocently asked me "Did you cook courgettes?"
I responded "Yes, what did you think they were?"
She explained "When I tasted them, I thought they were courgettes. Until then, I was confused, because we don't have any mushrooms, but they were served as a blackened mess that could well have been mushrooms".

I explained that I had been trying to make the courgettes crunchy, but they hadn't worked. She told me that courgettes don't go crunchy.

This confused me, as I'm SURE I like crunchy courgettes. Doris asked whether I have had them battered in the past, as she could see courgettes being crunchy if they were in batter.

That's it! I think it's tempura courgettes that I like!

Doris suggested that I could dip courgettes in almond flower in the future. I said that I had never seen an almond flower, which prompted her to respond "f-l-o-u-r".

Then she informed me "Actually, there are almond flowers. Have you never seen an almond tree?"
"Almonds come on trees?" I responded, confused.
"They are related to peaches and apricots" she explained (I wasn't aware of apricot trees, but I let that pass).
"So", I asked, "when you eat a peach and you have a big stone, can you crack that open and eat the nut inside?"
"Well, you could", she informed me, "but it tastes bitter because of all the cyanide. Not enough to kill you, but enough to make your tummy very poorly".

Everything is a learning experience, but I didn't expect to learn about cyanide in peach stones by cooking a fry up!