Wednesday, May 15, 2013

frozen bananas à la Bluth

What are you going to be eating on May 26? This has been the topic of many conversations in our house. On that date, Season 4 of Arrested Development will be released, all at once, on Netflix. 

We talked about a few possibilities for our family viewing party: hot ham water, candy beans, juice...but really, there is only one sensible choice, and that is frozen bananas. The banana stand is at the heart of the Bluth Company, after all. And while no one in our family would really enjoy cornballs or mayoneggs, there is no one who doesn't like frozen bananas.

Chocolate-Covered Frozen Bananas

You need: bananas, chocolate, butter, popsicle or caramel apple sticks and (optional) nuts. Ideally, the bananas would be slightly riper than shown here. The stick will split a green banana, but will sink in nicely to a lightly freckled one.

We have one child who loves almonds, and one who doesn't like nuts at all, so I alternate between both plain and crunchy bananas (ie, nuts and no-nuts).
Cut the bananas in half, push the stick up the base, and place them on a tray to freeze for at least half an hour, and up to overnight.
Meanwhile, chop the nuts. 
When the bananas are frozen, melt the chocolate over a double boiler (or in a pot nestled in a larger pot) and add enough butter to bring it to the consistency of, say, mayonnaise. Chocolate melted alone will be too thick to coat easily.
Because I don't have a dipping pot, I spread the chocolate on the bananas with a frosting spatula, seen above. Then, depending on your preference, you can either roll the banana in nuts or place it back on the tray to freeze again. But work quickly, as the frozen banana starts the process of hardening the chocolate almost immediately.
That's pretty much all there is to it. Whether or not you watch Arrested Development, a frozen banana is just about the perfect treat on a hot summer afternoon.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

old refrigerator (part 2)

After sanding and repainting, I though I'd just wipe down the gasket. Unfortunately, the dirt was more embedded than I realized, so the gasket had to be removed. This is the point where one thing led to another...

First the interior panel had to come off—

—which revealed the insulation. It looked fine, except for that lower left corner:

Which led me to look more closely at the bottom bracket:

gasket pulled away from bottom bracket, revealing rust and corrosion
bottom bracket removed
What do you do in this case? Do you take out the insulation and repack it? I hadn't figured on getting this deep into an old appliance. While trying to decide what to do, the insulation began to flake off by itself. Finally, I gave up and just removed the cross brackets, letting it all fall out.

Surprise: more rust.

Which meant more (rust-inhibiting) spray paint:

And new insulation. One consolation: the new giant scissors were perfect for cutting the batts.

And the modern paper-backed batts went in easily:

(Note for next time: don't leave the insulation unattended.)

The sanded and repainted bottom bracket:

The gasket was soaked and scrubbed:

And then the whole thing went back together:

In this photo, the butter dish still needs to be reinserted and wired, and blue tape is holding the botom gasket on while the adhesive sets, but it is mostly together. I hope. It still has to be moved, plugged in, and tested. Part 3 of this project may be awhile in coming.

Monday, April 29, 2013

projects simple and not-so-simple

Sometimes projects skate along just as you imagined them, and sometimes—most times, I've come to believe—the project seems to grow in both breadth and depth the farther you get into it.

The Straightforward Project: Old Scissors

Last weekend DH and I decided on a whim to visit a flea market. We never do this, so it was extra fun browsing tables full of old dishes, board games, car parts and aloha shirts. On our way out I spotted this pair of giant scissors and bought them on a whim. They were old and rusty, but they were the largest pair of scissors I had ever seen. I wondered if they might be brought back to working condition. For $2, it seemed worth a shot.

A little steel wool, and some marks began to emerge:
R. Heinisch, Newark, NJ, USA
And on the reverse...
before sanding
I think that's what it reads. Not so sure about the last letter of Detme-.

A web search on R. Heinisch mentions production between 1835-1914, when the company was bought by Wiss; and a glance at a 1915 Wiss catalog confirms that the Heinisch name was not retained. These scissors are around 100 years old.

After I had done all I could with the steel wool and chrome polish, I took them to a sewing machine repairman to be sharpened. His charge was only $9, but the scissors turned out to be for paper, not cloth. The difference, apparently, is in the angle of the bevel: dressmaking shears are angled at 30-45 degrees, while paper scissors are angled at 15 degrees. This is why one never cuts fabric with paper scissors and vice versa. Who knew?

In any case, it was a straightforward little project, just a bit of elbow grease and a visit to the repairman. Now what will I do with this humongous pair of office snips (shown here with our regular scissors for comparison)?

The Expanding Project: Old Refrigerator (part 1)

Another Freecycle find. I saw the listing once and ignored it; but when it was relisted, I couldn't resist saving it from the dump. The woman who offered it assured us that surface rust aside, it worked just fine. 
Indeed, the inside was quite clean:

I assumed I could sand down the rust and give it a new coat of paint; and my first efforts seemed to bear this out (color differences are due to photographing before and after photos at different times of day in a poorly lit garage):
the front

the latch

the side
Several coats of paint later, the fridge seemed good to go:
DH replaced the frayed power cord and I figured a good wipedown of the inside would do the trick.

Then I got to the gasket.

To be continued...

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