Monday, January 31, 2011

Chapter 28 - In the Kitchen

            I have always been a kitchen gadget collector.  If I need to do a job, I want the tools to do it.  Times are different now.  I spent an hour making leek soup yesterday.  I haven’t made that for a long time.  In the creaming, I made it a little thick, but it was quite all right to eat.  There was a portion left over.  This morning, early, I decided to turn the remainder of the soup into a dish for dinner tonight.  As long as it is predominantly white, Melaney is O.K.  I started adding stuff.  First a tin of tuna in oil, then I chipped up some left over potatoes, (it’s all right, and mostly white).  I cut some red pepper as fine as I could without mashing it.  Now, it has some color……..Better for me.  Then I looked for some vessel to bake it in the toaster oven.  I had purchased a heat resistant roasting dish, but it was too big for what I had.  Then I took the steel bowl from the steamer kettle which doubles as a double boiler.  That worked pretty well.  I smoothed it out with the spatula, and put it in the fridge for tonight.  I set a kettle lid over it so the edges wouldn’t dry out.  Now I have the beginnings of Tuna Surprise for dinner.  Before I pop it into the oven, I will slice some cheese over the top to melt.  For Mel food needs to be mostly white, and for me, with cheese, everything is O.K
The first things I collected to use as a helper in the kitchen were the three small plastic containers that we got with our ice cream at the Price Smart store.  Rita really laughed when I said the spoons and dishes were keepers.  When we moved into this little house initially (and it was supposed to be furnished) there wasn’t a dish in the cupboards.  Rita came to the rescue quickly with four mismatched plates, two glasses, one cup and four matched soup plates cum cereal bowls.  After the cupboards full of dishes in Canada, this is pretty spare commodity.  Thank goodness I brought my good steel pots and pans and cutlery. The pans in the stores here are aluminium.  I haven’t cooked in that for over sixty years.  I also brought a few tools like big spoons, a ladle, a can opener etc. that I have hung over the stove on the hooks that Mel picked up at the feriteria (hardware store).
Some more of the collection of keepers have been the yogurt containers (they are terrific for leftovers in the fridge). I have a few jam containers and cream cheese containers that I use for smaller items.  The only problem is I have to guess what is in these containers, and if there are three or four, I keep opening until I find what I want.  I try to be imaginative with leftovers, and not leave anything in the fridge very long.  I suppose the tools that I miss the most are the electrical appliances that I gave away.  I counted over 30, and that is a lot of plug in equipment.  The electricity here would be overloaded with that many appliances.  As it is, I have to do my main usage at non peak times.  There is an overcharge in the electricity if you use it between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. or from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.  I don’t know how their meters detect this time usage, but apparently they do, so I cook and dry clothes out of the peak periods.
There are few glass containers in the stores here.  Most commodities come in plastic bags.  Things like mayonnaise and mustard have little spouts on the bags with screw caps...Ketchup and tomato sauces are just heavyweight plastic bags that one clips off the corner with scissors.  Even the sour cream is in a plastic bag.  I did find some decaf coffee in glass jars though.  When the first one was empty, I cleaned the label off it completely and use it for a flower vase.  I clip the roses out at the front and usually keep one or two on the sideboard of the sink in the kitchen.  Did I say that the previous tenant in this house was also from Kelowna?  I still find that too much to believe, and she is the one who planted the roses.  They were pretty thirsty by the time I arrived, and I have been watering and pruning them constantly since.  They are really starting to show thriving, with lots of new shoots, and coming in with several blooms.  There are some very pretty colors, and I am really enjoying them.  At least that is one flower that I know well and understand their needs.  It will be strange to see them grow year round.
The kitchen has always been central to my life.  I have always liked to cook, and I still mostly enjoy it.  Sometimes I keep it pretty simple, if I am tired, but I can usually come up with something appetizing.  One thing I find is strange in this country is they don’t use much in the form of spicy food.  I bought my first red peppers here, and they had the shape of hot red peppers, but they had the flavour of sweet peppers.  I haven’t seen a jalapeno pepper since I have been here.
          It’s the start of another day.  Mel just took Gigi outside. The neighbour’s dogs are barking and the sun is shining.  What a day in paradise.

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