Friday, May 29, 2015

Alice's Bunnies


I did not think such a thing was possible, but a friend’s collection of china rabbits is reproducing. She culled the warren to a mere two hundred and the last time she counted it was back up to four.

Be very careful about telling friends what you collect. 

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More after the jump.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Easiest Refinishing Project Ever


The whirl of events led me to ignore a beloved and classic Victorian dust trap, a multi-tier corner shelf with many ornamental knobs and turnings. I don’t do knick-knack, much, but the whatnot earns its keep in the corner of the powder room.

Britain’s National Trust Manual of Housekeeping details the slow death that motes of dust bring to fine furniture finishes. Humidity and acidic air condense on dust and pit varnish, producing an oddly spotted effect. The manual points out that it is prudent to dust when one is rested and able to concentrate.

After spending nearly a year gazing at the whatnot and feeling negligent, I found time to work it over with a damp cloth. To my happy surprise, the plastic-based finish of a Sixties restoration simply wiped clean and looked as fresh as it had when an empty nest gave my mother time to catch up on her maintenance.

Note: refinishing a shabby piece of furniture is not always a good idea. Check with a knowledgeable antiques person before starting a project. I try reversible methods first, like washing with mild soap and water, waxing with “Brightwax”, and/or retouching carefully with the right color pigment. The wax creates a slick surface that can be dusted with a puff of breath.

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More after the jump.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Rich Pickings


I feel better-fed if all the fat in one meal is concentrated in one dish.

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More after the jump.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

New Dog, Old Trick


I picked up a truly beautiful bunch of asparagus at the Market recently. Once I got home, I realized that the relatively new enameled steel camping coffee pot would be just the thing for cooking the spears.

This is a classic tip from the Seventies. Prep the asparagus. I have learned to snap lengths that will fit into the glass storage trays I use to hold leftovers. Sort the spears by diameter. Bring a couple of inches of water to a boil in the coffee pot. Set in the largest spears, cover, wait a few seconds, add the next largest, and so on. Pull the pot off the heat just before you think the spears are done, drain the hot water, fill the pot with cold to stop the cooking, drain, and fill again with cold water. You can ignore the pot for a while, then drain a final time, and dry the spears on a clean towel.

Do whatever it is you prefer to do with asparagus, and then store the leftovers. They’re even better after chilling thoroughly.

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More after the jump.