Thursday, September 6, 2012

Canning beans & some thoughts on my kitchen

This is my view right now.  This has been my view for 30 minutes and will continue to be for another 45 minutes.  I'm canning pinto and black beans, 3 pints of each, and it isn't a good idea to leave the pressure cooker unattended.  I'm never worried about an explosion but I use a dial gauge and have to make sure I stay above 11 pounds of pressure.  So I'll sit here for 75 minutes, peeking at the dial and the timer, making sure I'm staying on track.  It's not too bad though; between my laptop, wifi, and an extremely comfortable hammock chair that fits perfectly into the middle of the kitchen, I'm in pretty good shape.

This season my beans are organic and come from a michigan farm.  Fun fact: Did you know that Michigan is a HUGE producer of black beans?  I had no idea.  The farm sells all sorts of beans and lentils at Eastern Market in Detroit and just down the street at the Royal Oak farmer's market.  They also have reasonable cow shares and I've been thinking about signing up.  I miss the milk we used to get from the old farm before it started pasteurizing but I've also been thinking about going dairy-free (since I do have that pesky casein intolerance).  But milk or no milk, their beans and lentils are fabulous!

My bean confinement has given me time to catch up on my emails, google reader, write a blog post, and think about my kitchen.  I've never liked my kitchen.  Don't get me wrong, it is a beautiful kitchen! It was redone just before we moved into the house; it has all new stainless steel appliances, new cupboards, tile floor, and granite countertops.  It is an extremely nice kitchen and many people would be thrilled to have it! But this isn't my house and I didn't design the kitchen or get to pick out anything that's in it and because everything is so shiny and new the idea of replacing anything is absolutely absurd.  So I'm stuck using a boxy kitchen with appliances that are gorgeous but too big for the room and very difficult to clean.  The cupboards are dark and run from floor to ceiling so the already small room seems to be closing in on me yet ironically provides relatively little storage space.  Two people in the kitchen at once is a nightmare which means I get really lonely when I cook and there's no one to help me with dishes or clean while I'm in here.  The tile floor has poorly done grout that makes it very difficult to clean (dirt gets trapped in the lip of the grout and won't wipe away without special attention), an absolute death trap when wet, and extremely hard on my knees if I'm in here all day.  Urgh.

But there are some things I like about my kitchen and best of all, most of those things will come with me when we eventually move.
  • My spatula holder.  A grey crock glazed with a beautiful blue design that includes the words, "Dillon & Sammit October 2, 2010".  Given to us on our wedding day by one of the most influential teachers I have ever had and her wonderful husband.
  • My Golden Girls magnetic photos.  I keep them on my microwave (you can kind of see them in the picture above) and they keep me company while I cook.  My sister made them for me for Christmas.
  • My green Le Creuset dutch oven.  A gift from some of the best coworkers in the world for my wedding.  I use either the dutch oven, drying pan, or pot every single day.  I would say that these pots are one of the few things I would grab from my house if there was a fire but they would actually survive the fire and still be useable.
  • The "bliss" sculpture over my door frame.  I received it as a gift when I graduated high school; it's from the same teacher who gave me the crock I mentioned earlier.  It has been placed above the doorframe in ever dwelling I have lived in since (12 places - 14 moves since 2005).
  • The half door featured under the "bliss" doorframe.  I have a love-hate relationship with the half door.  It is a clutter magnet - a temporarily permanent living space for things in flux between the main floor and either outside or the basement.  However, it has a little cat door cut out of the bottom so Zim and Gir can get downstairs to their litter boxes when it is closed.  Also, Zim likes to sit on the ledge of it, making him one of my only visitors while I'm cooking.  He likes to watch everything that's going on at the stove.
  • My fridge magnets.  Poetry word tiles, skulls, polaroid photos, travel magnets rock.  I remember where I was and what I was doing with each one.
  • The fat cow, angel and Darth Vader.  These are my kitchen mascots.  The fat cow is an adorable figurine that sits on my window sill; I cannot help but smile when I see him.  The angel and Darth Vader were gifts from my mother.  They sit on top of the fridge.  Darth dispenses mini gum balls or, as I hope to try in the near future, peanut butter M&Ms.
PS: I get my canning times and info from Pick Your Own.

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