Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Simple Pleasures: Toast

I love toast. It's so simple and so delicious. I imagine it has been with us ever since someone invented bread. It's one of those things, like socks, that is just the exact right thing. I trust that toast will be with us forever.

I gave myself a gift this month of this fine new toaster. Before that I was using my toaster oven to make toast. This was part of my effort to simplify my kitchen. I use the toaster oven all the time as a little oven. Unless I decide to bake a full size cake or something similar, the little oven meets all my baking needs.

Several months ago my old little oven began to act up. For example, it had a fan, and the fan kind of broke which made it make a lot of noise. A toaster oven should not be noisy enough to drown out the radio at normal volume, but my old oven did just that. I put up with it, though, because I couldn't justify replacing it just because of the noisy fan. Then finally the control knob broke off and was unfixable. Hooray! The old oven was in the trash. I was completely toasterless, but I was free from that horrid old thing.

I went to and checked out all kinds of models of toaster ovens and toasters. I read a lot of reviews. I selected the new oven based on reviews. Two features that I like about my new little oven are that the settings are made with push buttons not a turning dial knob and that it happens to be made in America. It was moderately priced, neither cheap nor expensive. Now that I have it, I am pleased. It works just fine.

However, as you can see above I also decided to indulge myself. In addition to the little oven I bought an official toaster. I had come to decide after years of not having an official toaster that the oven was good as an oven, but not really the best thing for actual toast.

Toast (a noun) has to be made from sliced bread. You can toast (a verb) other things like bagels, English muffins, pita bread, but if it's toast you want, then bread is required.  And the official toaster machine makes toast just right.

(To my mind the best toast is made from some kind of white bread. As with bagels, you can toast rye or whole wheat bread, but a sublime piece of toast requires white bread. But this is my opinion. I won't argue about this if you disagree. And the best made toast has real butter on BOTH sides. Jam / jelly or cinnamon sugar are optional but always nice.)

I never say that a thing make me happy, but I will say that my new official toaster pleases me very much. First of all, it's colorful and well designed. Bodum, part of their new line of small kitchen appliances. Can you see how the cord happens to touch the outside? No problem with that because the green cover stays cool. The settings are simple and work well. And it has this warming rack feature that I didn't think would matter, but which has proved to be useful for warming up single rolls. I smile when I look at this corner of my kitchen now. I think that buying this new toaster was a good decision.

So now I eat toast a lot more than I used to. It's so easy to make some. I love toast.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

In for the Winter

It is still autumn, but we have had one large snowfall and a couple of small ones. More and more will follow, and soon it will be winter. I'm happy about this. I like winter when I don't have to drive in bad weather. And living where I do in the city, I don't usually have to drive in bad weather.

I'm ready for winter. My car has been all oiled up and checked out. It has new windshield wipers, and the tires are inflated correctly. And now it will do a lot of sitting in the parking place because I don't need to drive it very much.

My bed is dressed with flannel sheets and the down comforter. The summer clothes have been moved to the back of the closet and the winter clothes are front and center. The snow boots have been pulled out, ready to go. The basket of hats, mittens and scarves are sitting on the landing strip.

The crock pot is back in use. So far I've made a small amount of beef stew and a week later a small batch of pulled pork.

I getting into my winter routine. I go out every morning and walk to one or another of my local coffee shops. This is Two Creek in the Avenues. It takes me a couple of weeks to make the rounds of all of them. I have my coffee and sometimes a breakfast pastry (depends on the can't go to Tuile Bakery, for example, and just have coffee). I write by hand in my little journal book and then maybe read or knit for awhile. Then I walk back home and am ready to start whatever is on the agenda for the day.

I walk to the grocery stores now, and so have to go a bit more often. But I'm also more careful about shopping because I have to carry everything. So I usually shop only for a recipe or a meal. I don't keep a totally stocked larder in the winter.  I do have basics and can always fix breakfast and lunch and simple suppers like mac & cheese or spaghetti. But I get salad from the salad bar and only have a couple of onions, some garlic and carrots and maybe one potato on hand for vegetables. For everything I want fresh, I have to buy it fresh.

I'm doing a lot of knitting including sweaters. I'm working on one that is simple at first and complicated later and another that is the reverse. I always have some socks going, and now I have a little shawl too.

I'm in for the season now, and I couldn't be happier.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Smokey Rose Settles In

Ms Smokey Rose has settled in to Apartment 3C quite nicely. She even has a secret hiding place where only she goes. It's someplace in the bedroom, because that's where she emerges from when she decides to emerge, but I have no idea where, exactly, her little secret place is.

She is a real love bug. She purrs just by touching her anyplace, almost like an on-off switch. She likes to spend time lying next to me when I'm in bed. Just a little bit of petting will make her roll over for some tummy rubbing. Unlike some of the other kitties, she does not like to sit or sleep on my body in any place, but she will come up and push her nose right into my face when she feels it's time for some attention.

She likes to spend time in this bed near the window. She doesn't spend that much time looking outside. Perhaps it's a bit warmer because the window does face south.

At first she only liked to spend time on higher up places where she could keep an eye on things, like on the server here. She's very good about NOT knocking things off of tables, unlike little Poppy who loved to play tabletop hockey with whatever might be there. Smokey Rose is very trustworthy.

Right now she is chasing a ball that rattles all around in the kitchen. She loves to play with her toys, Suppertime seems to be the correct time for ball games. She has chased several balls behind furniture like the bookshelves....where they have to stay for awhile because I can't get them out and she chooses not to. She likes her catnip toys a lot too.

She likes to jump in and out of the bathtub. I tossed some ping pong balls inside, and she loves that game. She likes to skitter around inside the tub chasing after the balls. I think it might be like an amusement park ride ... a bit dangerous because it's unpredictable. She can't always get the needed purchase in the tub, so she'll go sliding into the walls. But it's basically safe, and she knows it.

Lately she has taken to spending time in hidey hole places like this basket or her carrier which has the door removed.
At Best Friends she used to go out and walk around on her leash. I put her harness and leash on her one day and tried to take her out of the apartment. The hallway really freaked her out, even though it was empty and quiet, and she would not go out the door. That's good actually because I don't worry about her being a door darter like Poppy was. I still want to try taking her out, though, so now the plan is to put her in the carrier and take her for a car ride to a nearby cemetery. I'll let her out at a quiet place in the grass and see what she thinks.
Her favorite place though is clearly the bed. She spends a lot of her time here. And doesn't she just "go" so well with the bed clothes? This is clearly her home now, and I am so blessed that she picked me out that day last month.