CHAOSTOCOSMOS

Thursday, 19 April 2007

How to Go Completely Bananas

Completely Bananas
Going Bananas
It's hardly surprising that I have once lived on a banana plantation - since the Canary Islands are famous for them - where these bananas were growing a few feet from the door. It was certainly an interesting experience, but one I only recommend to people who enjoy lots of dust and interminable swarms of flies that make it absolutely impossible to open windows, which is not great in sub-tropical heat.

Anyway, consequently, I often get an awful lot of bananas to eat ...

One problem single cooks come across frequently is the need to buy food in packs or quantities that are too large for single consumption, which can create a lot of waste or a lot of leftovers. But what would you do if you were given this many bananas for one - around 20 kilos of them - as a gift? My landlady, brought me all of these from her plantation. Well, I abhor waste, so for the last couple of weeks, I've been doing my level best to ensure that they have all been used or stored for later.

Arroz a la inglessaA local specialty and one which I frequently throw together is Arroz a la Cubana (Cuban Rice, which I have on authority, is never made in Cuba!) It's a perfect dish for using bananas that are slightly more ripe than I like for eating raw.

Fortunately these bananas ripened gradually and not all at the same time.
"The easiest way [to store them] is just to throw them in the freezer ... yep skins and all. When you are ready to use them for baking, just defrost, snip off the tip with scissors and squeeze out like toothpaste!"
Yes, it's fortunate that I like bananas - and that the dog likes bananas too, but ... One warning: your mileage may vary, of course, but if you do ever have a large surfeit bananas, do please store them instead of trying to eat too many at once. My experience has been that, after an initial upturn in what we shall politely term "human waste production", the over consumption quickly provoked a case of "banana blockage". Sad

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

Tip o' the Day: The Solar Dryer - Free

"Some call it a solar dryer. Our moms call it the clothesline. Nature's way of drying clothes, and nobody seems to do it anymore. Some say it brings down property values. Others say that only those that "stay-at-home" can do it. We say, give it a shot."
Solar drier, indeed. Like we need a new name for it. We should do this. I'd love to, but oh, if only it were that simple: Renting means that I cannot make holes in walls to put up an old-fashioned washing line, wherever I like.

Bent TreeStrong winds - I mean gale-force - buckled a whirly washing line within minutes of digging a hole into the incredibly hard, volcanic soil, filling it with cement and getting the thing fixed up. Well, if the wind can do this to trees in this valley, it's hardly a surprise.

Frequent rain and constant low-lying cloud and mist mean that several months can pass when nothing will dry outside here. This rain and fog (it's really low cloud) used to be confined to the winter months, but in recent years, this has even occurred throughout the summer and now, in spring, it has become erratically changeable so that one day can be dry and sunny, the next misty or the morning can be warm, then cloud descends - by surprise - in the afternoon. Yes, I know this is constantly warm Tenerife - Island of the Eternal Spring - but this is a fertile valley in the north, where "horizontal rain", brought by the trade winds, condenses onto the mountains. That's how we get our year round greenery and Spring flowers. 

And the house is unheated and so damp that you cannot dry clothes indoors. If you try to bring even mildly damp clothes inside, even just overnight, they get that horrible moldy damp smell that you can never wash out again and that requires you to simply throw the items away. You should smell the perfectly dry stuff that I brought here when I moved in. The move was made on an incredibly hot day, direct from the desert south of the island. All I did was put things in the wardrobe: you know, where you expect to put clothes. Thousands of pounds worth of quality clothes; classics, designer suits, leather and suede items, boots and shoes, all went green, moldy and were ruined.

Anyway, it means that to dry a towel, for instance, I have to be able to absolutely guarantee at least two full, consecutive days of dry sunny weather, before I dare to do the laundry, if I wanted to hang it outside. Well, you can't guarantee the weather, so what options did I have? None. I had to buy a tumble drier.

But, having been forced into this, there are other considerations: One, having a dog and four cats, is that the drier sucks all their hair off of clothes, bed linen, etc. Pharmaceutical companies would get richer and use more energy to treat my allergies without the drier - not to mention that it is healthier for me not to be "on drugs."

The electrical supply in this house is so weak that I can't run any other appliances at the same time or it all "trips" off, so I'm not using extra and would hardly call this a "convenience". Running the drier is costing less and must be using less resources than constantly replacing clothes.

Another benefit is that I haven't used an iron in over decade. That must have saved energy (mine and electrical), so it's "swings and roundabouts."

Now, if only I could run the drier off solar energy ...

Friday, 13 April 2007

Friday the thirteenth, part deux

Friday the 13ths aren't supposed to be a problem in Spain. Here it's when the 13th falls on a Tuesday that you need to worry. (Likewise, look out for jokes on the Day of the Innocent Saints, December 28th, not April the 1st.) And all of my cats (and the dog) were born and bred on Spanish territory, sooo why do I get the impression that they were having a late April Fool / Friday the 13th joke on me yesterday with their constant mischief?
"... the superstitions about this day stems from 13 Friday 1307, when the King of France, Philip the Fair, had all Knights Templar arrested in France. They were tortured, made to confess and, almost to the man, killed. That's what giving all for your King and country will do for you." [Source]
The day had started with Balu and Kitty being decidedly reluctant to being photographed for their 6th birthday and, degenerated rapidly from there. Normally they just get on with the serious business of sleeping and let me work. Most of the time you wouldn't even notice that there are multiple cats in the house.

Today, one after another, or in pairs, my cats wanted to spend time on my lap (Betty insisted on this and when Betty insists, you obey, because she bites and scratches and anyway, if you put her down, she just bounces back up again), on the desk, on the printer (that I've given up on being able to use and turned into a cat bed anyway), on my mouse arm, playing "musical chairs" with the basket on the dining table - first the two boys, Mico and Balu, then Kitty and Balu huddled in it, then ...

Finally, the fluffy feline on his own curled up tightly in a ball, paw over nose and it looked like we'd get some peace. It didn't last long.

I'd also done a little spring cleaning and had stuff drying in the spare room that I wanted that fur persons kept away from. You're right, what I wanted and what I got were two entirely different things. Whatever you want kept away from cats is the very thing they become absolutely determined to get into. And they hate closed doors.

The Old Ruins of El PalmarIt's convenient here to understand how traditional Canarian cottages are built. They were mostly built of just two rooms, one of those previously being the kitchen / dining / living room and the other being the entire family's bedroom. (Plumbing and bathroom facilities, such as they were, were added later, outside.)

Lots of these typical thick walled cottages still exist, though the uses of the rooms have changed, they've had a coat of plaster and had iggldy-piggledy extensions added over the years, but one feature that remains - mostly out of the interests of economy - is that the doorway between the original two rooms does not have a door fitted in it. Despite the cosmetic changes, this type of dwelling is terminally damp, virtually unfit for human habitation, but "purrfect" for fools on a budget who want to rent an ideal location to keep a family of cats.

In the interests of warmth and privacy and, because there are other doors in and out of these rooms now, I have the gap closed with a wardrobe across it.

Ha, but, of course, the flying feline makes light work of jumping up onto the top of the wardrobe, squeezing his fat ass through the small gap at the top where the wardrobe is not quite as high as the doorway, shimmying right down the back of the wardrobe and into the spare room - right where you don't want him and that he now cant get out of because the other door is closed.

So then I put some cardboard fruit boxes on top of the wardrobe to close the remaining gap. He sat on the bedside table for a few moments, looking up and thinking. Then he just jumped (flew) up onto the wardrobe, placed a paw behind the "offending" box, hooked it out of the way, shimmied through the gap and back down again.

I added more obstacles. He surmounted them.

He'd go round, I'd fetch him out.

Rinse and repeat. Incessantly.

Balu is bright, he's incredibly determined and he's an absolute menace. (Of course, he's also handsome and I love him to bits and he knows this!)

Meanwhile, I'd put a chair in front of the wardrobe so I could get up there to put these obstacles in Balu's way. Kitty, trying to see if she could use this chair as the quick way to the top, stands up on her hind legs and pushes the bedroom door closed. Just as the door starts swinging, she hops down and dashes through the gap in the nick of time. Thinks it's a game, does she?

The bed in the spare room is on legs, so Balu ran to hide under there. So I go in with the broom to sweep him out. He runs out and in the time it takes me to cross the hall (scant seconds), he's gotten into the basket, laid down and is lounging in there looking the picture of perfect innocence (almost).

What can you do? I was absolutely beside myself with laughter.

Friday The Thirteenth

Balu and Kitty on their 6th Birthday

Balu and Kitty celebrate their 6th Official Birthday today. Maybe "celebrate" is too strong a word. To be honest, I don't think they're the slightest bit interested. I tried having an "official birthday photo-shoot", for posterity, but all I got were some very serious expressions and a bit of a sneer from Kitty.

Today does bring bitter-sweet memories, as it is their first birthday without their brother Khan, who we lost to kidney failure last November. It might be because Kitty didn't want to be shown with her shaved neck, after she had to have blood tests.

This morning, Kitty, who is normally a very independent Miss and prefers to sleep alone, was in bed with me when I woke up, tucked in beside me. Balu was, as usual, sitting on my chest, shouting at me for his breakfast, so some things are normal at least! 

Printfriendly

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
^ Top