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English: An American actually discovered durin...

Microwave Oven

And you thought your microwave was just for reheating take-out food or rewarming your cup of coffee.  Well check out this list of 10 things you never thought your microwave could do!

 

  1. Cutting Onions Just Got Easier – Trim the ends off your onions and put them in the microwave for 30 seconds on HIGH.  Your eyes won’t sting when you peel them.
  2. Brown Sugar Rock Solid – Place a dampened paper towel in the box and close the lid.  Put in the microwave on HIGH for 20-30 seconds.
  3. Cleaning the Microwave – uh oh you put the spaghetti in the micro for too long and too high.  Fill a small bowl with water and add some white vinegar.  Place bowl in the microwave and heat it on HIGH for a couple of minutes until the mess softens and will wipe clean easily.
  4. Fix Your Old Honey –  a jar of crystalized honey can be restored in your microwave.  Remove the lid and heat on 50% power for 2 minutes.
  5. Get A Hot Compress Quick – Wet a wash cloth or hand towel and heat on HIGH for one minute.
  6. Juicier Lemons + Limes – Put the whole lemon or lime in the microwave and heat for 10-20 seconds on HIGH.  It will be easier to squeeze and yield more juice.
  7. Make Sure Your Containers Are Safe To Use – we’ve all heard about the danger in re-using take out food containers to reheat food.  You can check it out by placing a mug, that you know is microwave safe, with cold water in it.  Put the mug in the container and heat on HIGH for one minute. If the water is hot and the container is cold, it’s safe to re-use.
  8. Don’t Blanch, Just Microwave – You can peel tomatoes and peaches easily by placing in your microwave and heating on HIGH for 30 seconds and then let them sit for 2 minutes.  They should peel easily.
  9. Long Live The Potato Chip – If your potato chips have gotten soggy, place them on a paper towel and heat them briefly in the microwave till they crisp.
  10. Forget To Soak The Beans Overnight? – Place the beans in a bowl and cover completely with water.  Add a pinch of bicarbonate of soda and heat on high for 10 minutes and then let them rest for 30-40 minutes.

Thanks to Gail who sent me these clever time-saving ideas.

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So last night was in fact a food fest and we ate and drank according to tradition.  There were the required 4 cups of wine which in reality can be 4 sips and the Schmurra matzo, the bitter herbs, the Charoset, and the egg in salt water.  Briefly just in case I have some readers who up to this point have no clue as to what I’m talking about let me clarify.  There is a traditional Seder plate and on it there’s Charoset which is a mixture of apples, cinnamon, sugar and walnuts all processed to symbolize the mortar and brick the Jews made as slaves for the Pharaoh.  Maror is the bitter herbs (horseradish) which symbolizes the bitter life of the Israelites during the time of their enslavement, Zeroa, a shank bone as a reminder of the Paschal lamb offered as a Passover sacrifice. Bytzah, a hard-boiled egg symbolic of the loss to the two temples (and also ecumenically symbol of  Spring and new life) which was served in Chazeret , salt water which represents the tears of the people and also the bitterness.  So much for that lesson on some of the Seder meal.

I brought my asparagus dish and it was a big hit.  I’ve made this dish for many years for Easter dinner as a perfect Spring side dish with some symbolism of its own.  First of all, asparagus are associated with Spring and that’s when they are most  plentiful and fresh in the markets. The egg sauce symbolizes what the egg has always represented – new life, rebirth and isn’t that what Spring is all about?  There’s also mustard (the seed of which is a Christian symbol of belief and faith) and vinegar which can be interpreted to mean the bitterness and sorrow of the Jews before being freed.

Asparagus w/ Egg Sauce*

Asparagus w/ Egg Sauce*

** This photo depicts an egg sauce with mayonnaise in it which is why it appears white.  Your sauce will be yellow and only chopped egg whites will garnish the sauce. More like a Hollandaise with chopped egg whites on top.

Ingredients:

1 # fresh asparagus 

1 hard boiled egg

1 raw egg yolk

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 tsp white pepper

1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard

1 1/2 TBS white vinegar

1 tsp salt

Cook the asparagus in boiling salted water to cover  till crisp tender and bright green – 5-7 minutes.  I used an asparagus steamer.  Immediately immerse in a large bowl of ice water with ice cubes to stop the cooking.  Drain on paper towels and refrigerate covered.

Mash the hard cooked egg yolk in small bowl with the raw yolk and mustard till smooth.  Gradually add the olive oil whisking till smooth.  Combine the vinegar, pepper and salt and add to oil mixture.  Whisk thoroughly.

To serve:  Lay asparagus on a platter, spoon the egg sauce over and garnish with chopped egg white.  It makes a lovely presentation and is served at room temperature so if you are bringing a side dish, this is perfect to travel.

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Reczniki papierowe

Paper Towels

 

Unfortunately this weekend just slipped away amidst some family crisis, laundry, spring cleaning and doing my taxes.  So now it’s Sunday evening, I’m expecting a guest for dinner and so f0r the last hour and a half I have been scurrying around the kitchen and dining room like a crazy person.  I actually employed Peter to help me and that’s something I rarely do but boy oh boy I was off schedule – the damn taxes AND THEY’RE NOT EVEN DONE YET!

 

Friday I literally spent the entire day on the phone and was emotionally drained and exhausted  by 5pm.  We just ordered-in some Chinese food and I finished paying the first of the month bills.  Then I got some kind of second wind and stayed up until 2am watching all the commercial tv shows that I had DVR‘d for my late night viewing when he who shall not be named relinquishes the remote and retires to the bedroom to continue watching any movie that’s on  TCM.

Saturday morning I was dragging and spent a lot of time on the computer playing Words With Friends and Scrabble and looking for some stuff I want to find on Ebay.  It was lovely not getting dressed and just sitting around.  However, I had promised myself that either Saturday or Sunday would be devoted to getting the income tax in order to ship off to the accountant and also to do some cleaning.  Really the level of dust in the apartment was appalling.  Anyone who knows us, knows that to dust this apartment is a MAJOR event.  Actually I was more washing down and wiping down than dusting – that’s how bad things had gotten.  Me and my Windex and paper towels;  Cleaning the vintage radios, wiping off the hood ornaments, washing the grime off vases, lamps and every tchotcha on the living room shelves. And I polished all the wood furniture with lemon oil because everything looks dried out to me after this everlasting hot-air-heated winter!  All of this industriousness was certainly causing a riff in the household;  Well one of us seems to have endless tasks and the other person is kind of whining that there’s no time when we can be together BECAUSE I’m always working!!! REALLY now!  I managed to do a couple of shelves in bedroom, none in the den and the day was pretty much gone.  It had been a lovely sunny day and I understood why my spouse wanted to leave the house and get outside but when he said let’s walk up to Madison Avenue and go into some galleries, I couldn’t imagine doing that at all.  First of all I didn’t want to be dress up much to be on Madison so to appease my poor neglected spouse  I suggested we head off to the Met to see some exhibits we wanted to catch before they closed.  That put a smile on his face.  It was good to get out although it was ridiculously windy and my knees and ankles hurt – not the best foot forward to go to a museum.

But off we did go and although every step hurt in some place or another, we managed to see the Metropolitan Vanities,  the French Marville photography exhibition of the Paris that used to be.  I was unaware that the Paris of the 1920’s was destroyed and the Paris that we know today with its wide boulevards and beautiful buildings was designed by Hauseman and built.  We should have looked at the map as to where the exhibitions we wanted to see, were because the way we did it, we managed to crisscross the museum twice. If you’ve never been to the Met, let me tell you that’s a lot of walking.  I wanted to see the Western Bronzes in the new American Wing so spent some time looking at the great sculptures of Remington and Solomon Borglum.

That was as much walking as I wanted to do especially since those 2 Extra Strength Tylenols had not done their job!  We stopped at Fairway on the way home and picked up a roast chicken and a baguette for supper and some ingredients for Sunday’s dinner.  Knowing I had work to do, I had planned ahead and defrosted a quart of pea soup I had made a couple of weeks ago.  Pea soup, chicken, bread and salad was the perfect Saturday night supper.

Although I went to bed early and fell asleep during Angels in the Outfield, when I woke up this morning, I still didn’t feel really refreshed and dreaded putting the income taxes together. Oy what a horrible task.  Seriously I spent most of the afternoon calculating  dinners, taxis, memberships and charitable deductions.  In fact I spent so much time making notes and adjustments that all of sudden it 4:45pm and I had to shower and change AND COOK for my dinner guest who was due to arrive at 6:30pm.

Well, when I started this blog it was during the time I was awaiting the arrival of my dinner guest.  Peter assured me she would be at least 15 minutes late; By the time it was 7:25pm I wondered if she thought I had said 7:30pm.  THEN the light bulb went off and I said to Peter, “I wonder where she is, she hasn’t called, God, I hope she didn’t email me”  I looked at my phone and there was an email from 11:15am from her asking me what my address was.  Of course I didn’t see that one or hear it come in as I was knee deep in receipts.  There was another one at 6:15pm saying she was walking out the door and by the way, what is my address?  OH BOY! I was cooking like  a madwoman at 6:15pm!  GENERATION GAP!  We’re wondering why we haven’t heard from her and she’s sitting home because she can’t find any emails from me, can’t find my business card and of course since she’s under 40, the idea of calling information and assuming we might be one of the few relics that still have a land line, never entered her mind!  So we called her and Peter scolded her because he just doesn’t get that they communicate almost solely through electronic messaging and hardly ever use their phones to actually talk!

But since she showed up bearing flowers and is as much fun to be with as ever, all was well within minutes.  It turned out to a witty conversational evening and the food wasn’t too bad either!  Just for the record, I made Chicken Paprikash, Steamed Asparagus and my new favorite salad of Arugula, Farro, Tomatoes and Olives.  The recipe for this great dinner party salad is in my blog post; https://pbenjay.wordpress.com/2014/01/21/farro-and-arugula-salad-tasty-tidbits-tuesday/.

We had a lovely evening playing with the old Edison phonograph and showing off the portable record player we’ve taken to Central Park picnics and talking about old movies and new!  AW is a kindred spirit, we hope to see her again soon…maybe we’ll catch her stand-up comedy act!

 

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I’m going to start with the back story….

Living near the ocean does have a few drawbacks, really very, very few;  in fact the only one I’m talking about is the dampness.  Not the kind that seeps in through the screen door and windows and makes the furniture feel damp and cool  – no, not that kind.  But living near the ocean, things like snails and slugs tend to appear unwelcome on my porch or sidewalk now and again.  I have abhorrent fear and anxiety about slugs in particular.

I mean they are so slimy and icky looking – like some kind of spineless blob from outer space that seems to traverse without legs.  I literally can’t stand the sight of them.  We’ve come home a couple of evenings over the years and found a long slug on the sidewalk and I got the willies whatever they are!!  I make Peter pick up the slug on a piece of cardboard or newspaper and insist that he toss it over the fence into our neighbor’s yard.  They (slugs) are SO GROSS.

Two days ago, my contact lens was bothering me and those of you who know me, know that I have a history of problems with the lens in my eye because I have some scarring on my cornea, but that’s another story.  I’ve been giving the eye a vacation from the lens and trying to use glasses.  However, my glasses are not prescription, just readers and since they are really only good for close up reading or work, I didn’t have them on when I went upstairs to change my clothes.  It was dark and the door to the porch was open and our neighbors across the backyard were home – thank God their doors were shut, they must have had their air conditioners on.  I took off my clothes and put on pajamas and hung up my pants and I was barefoot.   I moved the door to a more open position now that I was dressed and stepped away.  When I looked back and down, this is what I saw…..

OMG!!!!

OMG!!!!

 Needless to say I screamed, “Peter, Peter, PETER!”  Still no answer;  The TV was on upstairs and downstairs and he was in the kitchen.  I grabbed the remote, hit mute, went to the top of the stairs and screamed again, Peter! You better come up here NOW”!  He came flying up the stairs, out of breath and said, “What is it? What? Is there a bat”?  I pointed to the floor and said, “LOOK! You better get it out of here, OMG how did it get in the house? OMG I could have stepped on it” 

With wife on the verge of hysteria, my husband runs downstairs and grabs paper towels while noting OUT LOUD that there were no more paper towels!!  He returned and got on his hands and knees while I fretted and fumed and worried sitting on the bed.  He stood up quickly with paper towel crumpled in his fist and I said, “What did you do with it?” He showed me……

A Hair Clip ! REALLY??

A Hair Clip ! REALLY??

I laughed so hard I thought I would either cry or pee in my pants!  I mean, “Really, really?”  All in the life and times of living with Lori.

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Pressed Glass Bobeche

Pressed Glass Bobeche

So you’re hosting a Holiday Party? How nice! Is it going to be a dinner party with your table set with fine china and white linen?  Or a cocktail party with guests milling around, wine glass in hand?  Either one could spell disaster for the hostess.  Well maybe NOT exactly a disaster but certainly upsetting IF after all the guests have left, you discover that those lovely white tapers dripped beyond the bobeches and deposited globs of wax on your heirloom linen tablecloth.  OR somehow, some way, someone moved some of the lit candles you had around the house AND sure enough, there is solidified wax on your living room carpet.  Could happen…

What to do?  Don’t panic, don’t throw the tablecloth out.  Or you could refer to my previous post Count Down To Christmas-December 7th Let’s Light The Way!

How to Remove Candle Wax
On table linens: Scrape off what you can with a spoon. Using an ironing board, place several paper towels under the stain and a few on top and press with a warm iron. The paper towels will absorb the wax. Replace the paper towels a few times to avoid transferring stains back to the table linens. Sponge any remaining stain with Tide Boost Pre-Treat spray; blot, allow to air-dry, then wash, using bleach if the fabric allows.

On the rug: For wool, cover the wax with a brown grocery bag (one layer) and press with a warm iron. To remove any wax that remains, use WoolClean Dry Spot Remover No. 2. For a synthetic rug, follow the ironing advice for a wool rug, then apply Goof Off with a dry cloth; rinse with a damp cloth. Dry with paper towels.

These stain removal tips are sourced from Real Simple.

 

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