Monday, May 19, 2014

Probably doing it wrong

I am on Pinterest (as bittenbyknittin, of course), but I'm pretty sure I am not using Pinterest the way it was meant to be used. I've heard people say they get lost there, for hours at a time, but I don't because I don't look at other people's boards and pins. Instead, I use it as an efiling cabinet of sorts. (Hence, the fact I can't create subfolders really annoys me.) I pin links to recipes, gardening ideas, crafting activities, etc. I (hopefully) will reference in the future. Previously, I had been capturing screen shots and storing them in MS OneNote, but that is a bit tedious. Also, with Pinterest, I can pin the same link to many boards, for cross referencing. Lately, I have been capturing recipes for rhubarb and home canning and other kitcheny pursuits.

Do you use Pinterest?

Monday, May 5, 2014

I fired my carpet cleaners

With the master bedroom completely devoid of furniture and plans to rearrange the furniture when replacing it, I decided it was a good time to have the carpet professionally cleaned. I have used the same carpet cleaners for 20 years, and usually they leave the carpets all bright and shiny. The last couple of times, however, I was not impressed with the results, including this most recent one. Bah.

It used to make sense for me to hire someone to clean the carpets. For about $100, they would swoop in and steam clean all the rooms in about an hour. Also, the last time I cleaned my own carpets (in a previous lifetime), it was quite the ordeal, especially trying to rinse the soap out. Ugh.

Now it costs a lot more and they are not doing a very good job. I looked into purchasing a carpet cleaner of my very own, but it made more financial sense to rent one, which I did last night: a Rug Doctor from Home Depot. Lo and behold, it was simple as pie to use AND there was no rinsing step. Hallelujah.

The carpet in the bedroom looks better now; it may be too old to ever look new again. But what really amazed me was the amount of filth the good Doctor pulled out of the carpet. Immediately after a professional cleaning job. That cost me over twice what the rental did. Huh.

So good-bye, professional carpet cleaners. Don't let the screen door hit you on the way out.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Say "Cheeeeese!"

Every year I travel to Massachusetts one or more times on what I call my "family obligation vacation". For most trips I try to plan something special to do while out there (click here for an example). This year the trip managed to coincide with Cheesemaking 101 workshop offered by the New England Cheesemaking Supply Co. and taught by the Cheese Queen herself, Ricki Carroll.

(Sorry for the poor quality of these photos - I was the photographer, my cell phone the equipment.)

While my SO rambled about the area near Ashfield, doing his thing, I spent the day with 30 other apprentices, learning how to make five different cheeses. I have been dabbling in cheesemaking for a while, but it really helped to watch an expert at work. Ricki was very generous with her knowledge, much of which will help me improve my technique and results.

The only "hard" cheese we made was a farm house cheddar, which gave us the opportunity to become familiar with the cheese press in the first photo; since cheddar requires aging, we did not get to taste the results of our labor. The other cheeses were fresh cheeses, including 30-minute mozzarella, all of which I have made myself. Regarding the latter, it's one thing to follow directions in a book and another to see how stretchy and shiny the final product can be.

All the cheesemaking books I have referenced talk about how important it is to use pasteurized milk, so I was quite delighted with Ricki's acknowledgment that raw milk usually produces the best cheeses because, even if the carton does not say "ultra pasteurized", the milk may still have been heated too high for cheesemaking. She also ranted a bit about buying food from local farmers. (I think we are soul mates, except she is much more artistic than I am - her house is a work of art in itself).

Ricki started the workshop by saying this was going to be her last one for a while, maybe forever, but by the end, she was recanting, evidence that she loves what she does. If this is the last one, I am extra glad I attended. Now all I need is a cheese cave.