January 31, 2008

Failed Tapioca Pudding

I love tapioca pudding. Just recently I was at a Middle Eastern grocery store and I found a bag of large pearl tapiocas. (so excited!)

I soaked some in milk overnight - as you're supposed to with large pearls, otherwise you'll have a crunchy batch - and pulled out the only recipe I have for tapioca pudding. (It's for small pearl, but what does it really matter?)

Curious? Here it is.

Creamy Tapioca Pudding

1/2 cup Small Pearl Tapioca
3 cups milk
1/4 tsp. salt
2 eggs well beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Compine tapioca, milk, and salt in a sauce pan. Stir until boiling. Simmer 5 minutes, uncovered, over lowest possible heat, add sugar gradually. Beat eggs, mix in some of the hot tapioca very slowly to equalize the temperatures of the two mixtures (to avoid curdling). Return all to pan. Bring to a boil, stir 3 minutes more over lowest possible heat (or longer to achieve pudding consistency). Stir constantly. Cool 15 minutes then add vanilla. Serve warm or chilled.


Easy enough...

OK, so now that I've taken the time to copy the recipe verbatim, I realize that I rushed through some of the steps. Maybe that's why the gritty consistency? And I have never had this problem before, but the eggs didn't temper properly, and my pudding has tiny chunks of egg white.


January 29, 2008

I'm not alone!

Look, I found somebody who feels the same way!

I knew this had to be normal.

Oh, and an update: I decided to wash the dishes first, although I had to do it in shifts. Of course I had to wash the teapot before I could make my pot of tea to think about the monumental task ahead. The laundry is clean now too, but not folded. And sadly, I am showing up at work in wrinkled clothing because the ironing board is covered in unopened mail. (But I do have a fabulous new iron for the day I become a cleaning machine!)

January 26, 2008

Someday I WILL figure out this cleaning thing...

Disclaimer: I've been sick all week and my partner is out of town. The apartment is worse than usual. Ok, that's an understatement.
The apartment is an embarassment to domestic goddesses everywhere!

So this afternoon as I was tip-toeing around the obstacle course that is my apartment, wondering where to start this dreaded thing called cleaning... Should I start with the dishes that seem to have taken over my kitchen counters, or the trash that has taken over the floor because I ran out of trash bags and have been reduced to grocery bags which seem to fill up much faster and who has time to take out the trash everyday? What about the laundry pile that has spilled from my bedroom closet not only into the bedroom, but also the hallway? Maybe the vacuuming? But I have to put the laundry somewhere first, and the bed isn't made so that's not an option. I'll start a pot of tea while I think about it. ... a thought came to me. Who are those people who work full time and are able to keep a clean house???

Surely, they don't spend their 40 hour work week ignoring the work that needs to be done at home. They cook, they clean. And they clean. Maybe they keep a schedule? Maybe they clean as they go and never really sit down to enjoy being at home with nothing better to do than sit?

But I have to ask, do they enjoy it? Is there anyone out there who enjoys cleaning? I mean, I understand the satisfaction that comes with a job well done... the pleasure of coming home to a place that looks and smells clean. But who actually enjoys the process of cleaning?

Short of hiring a maid service, there has to be something I can do to make it manageable and possibly even (gasp!) fun?

This is my quest.

January 19, 2008

Horror of horrors!!!!

My friend Kyle showed this to me today. It weighs about 20 pounds, and it is an entire encyclopedia about how to clean your house!

Quilting in Progress

I am piecing my first ever quilt! It's monotonous... not quite like wheel throw, where I can put on my headphones and tune out the world, letting the clay tell me what to do: what it wants to become. I can sit back and let it spin, or I can dive in and close my eyes while my hands do the work.

Not so with sewing.
I have to concentrate the entire time. I have to have a plan so I can tell the machine what to do, and I have to guide the pieces. I am a mathematical person, and I am somewhat of a perfectionist, so really I don't mind the precision. But at the same time my perfectionism poses a problem. I know that an eighth-inch mistake won't matter in the big picture, until I make one on every piece. Then I will end up with one crooked quilt! (Some might call that artistic, but I'd rather get it right.)

In pottery, mistakes turn out to be the best pieces. I'm not so sure in quilting. I don't want to allow myself any mistakes, if I can help it.

The interesting thing is I take pleasure from the tedium of ironing, piecing, sewing, ironing again, checking, and - let's be realistic - ripping seams apart. It is definitely a learning process. As I said before, I was never any good at sewing - so I'm not a bit surprised. Or frustrated.

Here are some lessons I have learned thus far:
  1. I need a bigger work space.
  2. Accurate measurement is important. Straight cuts are too.
  3. It's better if you measure accurately and cut precisely on your first try. Otherwise, you waste a lot of time - and a lot of fabric.
  4. If you don't measure correctly the first time, you might run out of fabric. Driving back to the store in the snow is a drag.
  5. It is not easy to stitch in a straight line.
  6. The stitch ripper is a wonderful invention.
  7. A quarter inch seam is not very big.
  8. The stitch ripper is a wonderful invention.
  9. Pins don't always do what they are designed to do.
  10. The stitch ripper is a wonderful invention.
  11. Some of my fabrics are woven more tightly than others... maybe I should have prewashed everything. The quilting books suggest that.
  12. Different weaves travel through sewing machines at different speeds.
  13. The stitch ripper is a wonderful invention.
  14. Fabric scraps and threads can make a big pile of trash.
  15. I need a bigger work space.

January 16, 2008

My newest undertaking...

Finally, I got a sewing machine!

I remember using my grandmother's sewing machine as a child. I was never any good. But we had fun together, making dolls and clothing. Ever since then I've wanted a machine of my own. I don't know if it's nostalgia or what.
I have no interest in making clothing, or dolls. I might be interested in tailoring or repairing clothing; I haven't decided yet.

What I'm really interested in is making quilts. There is a wonderful textile museum near where I grew up. Still, I love to visit when I go east. They are just so detailed and beautiful. Every quilt tells a story - not only about the quiltmaker, but also about the period of history. I am drawn to them, and I want to know how.

I bought some books about quilting. I researched websites - I found some beginner patterns so I can 'begin' to teach myself. I solicited my family for fabric scraps. I even bought myself some quilting supplies. I'm ready, right?

We'll see about that.