Friday, January 23, 2009

We're Socked In

Looks like we're sitting in the middle of a big wet cloud today. It was very cool again when we awoke, about 65 degrees and misting. That soon turned to rain, then stopped for awhile - long enough for us to run up to French Harbor and back, and has now resumed raining in earnest.

It's been an interesting day so far. First, I baked biscuits this morning in my very tempermental oven. It takes forever to heat up, perhaps because it doesn't seem to have much insulation (which is why I seldom bake), and then it is very difficult to figure out the settings. The temperature control knob is marked 1 through 4. What the heck does that mean? Last fall we tried to figure it out using an oven thermometer. The best we can tell, 4 means "char". The thermometer went past 550 degrees! We kept backing it off, trying to find 350 degrees, but it seems to move around on us. This morning I set it around 3, not too worried since biscuits like it hot, and they did turn out pretty good. It seems like a good day to bake, and after our run to French Harbor where I bought sugar (which I could not get at the other stores!) and more flour and some nuts, I decided to take advantage of the cool day and bake some chocolate chip cookies for Don. I needed to find 375 degrees, so I aimed for mid-way between the 3 and 2. First it was a little too hot, closer to 400, so we moved it slightly toward the 2 and then it was a little too cool and refused to budge higher than 360 so it took quite a bit longer for the first pan of cookies to bake, but they looked good. So I gave it a gentle nudge which of course, sent it back towards 400. The second pan baked quicker but also had darker bottoms. This is certainly not an exact science. Also this cheap oven has no interior light.

I think the sugar I bought today may be raw sugar. It is more coarse and a bit more tan than the sugar I still had on hand. The batter never did get creamy and the cookies have a crunchier texture, but Don liked them anyway. I thought they seemed a little sweeter than usual but I don't eat many cookies so I may be wrong.

Buying sugar and flour is rather interesting. You can buy them in 1 pound, 2 pound, 3 pound, and clear up to 25 pounds (for flour), sized plastic bags and they are, of course, labeled in Spanish, such as "azucar Hondurena". Honduran sugar? I know the words for flour and sugar and salt, but I don't know the descriptives, which may be why I got tan sugar. I've been trying to find bread flour; I'm not sure what I got but we'll see how the bread turns out. The salt also comes in little plastic bags as small as one cup amounts. You can usually get the American box of salt, too, but after awhile it starts clumping together from the humidity.

We saw the usual interesting sights while driving to French Harbor like the man on the bicycle pedaling up a very long, steep hill, carrying a woman sitting side-saddle who was holding a large plastic bag on her lap and he had a propane tank in a plastic crate strapped to his rear fender. He must have some strong leg muscles! On the trip home, we witnessed a very daring (and stupid) feat performed by an impatient truck driver. The road between French Harbor and Coxen Hole is very hilly and curvy, not many good places to pass another vehicle. That didn't stop this guy; he was determined so he kept creeping out there, only to have to pull back in. He was really getting antsy because there were at least 3 cars and 2 big trucks in front of him, all following each other closely, no room to sneak in. Finally, when we got down in front of the airport, he made a bold and daring move, driving off the road onto the left shoulder, around a taxi stopped on the shoulder, nearly hitting a dog and spraying muddy water all over the dog, speeding ahead and pulling back across both lanes in front of all 5 vehicles! Mercy. What a manuever.

Another interesting thing: when I went up to check on Moe this morning around 8:30, he wasn't in the window watching for me and he wasn't at the door waiting to rub against my foot as I opened the door. I could hear him crying rather pitifully somewhere back in the house and as I went down the hallway, I saw that the laundry room door was closed, not latched, but closed enough to keep him inside. I opened the door and he rushed out and rubbed and rubbed against my legs. He had apparently been in there a long time because he had pooped over by the dryer and had peed, very neatly, in the dustpan! He also had not eaten much of his food in the kitchen. We think he must have been chasing a lizard or a bug and batted the door enough that it closed him in. Woo! Was he ever happy to be out. He gobbled down some food, and then he wanted to go outside, now, never mind that it was misting rain. So we did and he joyfully ran around, getting a little wet.

The next interesting thing: while I was baking the cookies, I heard a crash and went to investigate. Don had been sitting at his computer when his chair decided to fall apart and crash to the floor. He wasn't hurt. He felt it starting to go and jumped up just in time. This was one of our kitchen chairs, certainly not an old chair, but apparently not well constructed. It is now in a number of pieces.

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