Friday, September 11, 2009

Burning the Midnight Oil

I'm going to do a very dangerous thing and write about things not yet accomplished.  I have the weekend planned, and it's been a month since I've planned a weekend.  I am dedicating tomorrow morning to my wardrobe--it's after Labor Day and the temps today didn't reach 60.  While we still have some 70 degree days ahead, summer is over, and I've found that it gets cold fast around here.  I will be bringing out my fall and winter clothes, and packing the spring and summer things away.  This is good, because I'll still have time to wear my fall colored short sleeved tops, which were necessary when I lived in the Zone 8 South, but which I have, for the past two years (since I moved to the Zone 5 North) missed out on wearing because I brought my fall clothes out too late.  Here, October is long sleeved season.

I have a pair of jeans that are a year old and still never worn.  I plan to hem them tomorrow.

And then off to the movies!  I would like to watch '9'.  One of my dearest friends lives 1300 miles away.  One way we keep in touch is by watching movies together--that is, we watch the same move, on the same day, in our respective towns, so that in the evening we can discuss it with each other.  We've discussed extending the practice to "dinner and a movie", that is, in addition to the movie, we each cook the same recipe in our own kitchens, and compare notes.

Recently, I was given a bottle of higher end olive oil.  This was my good fortune.  Unfortunately, however, this happened just a week after I had opened a new bottle of my middle-of-the-road quotidian olive oil.

Now, olive oil does go rancid. Luckily, it usually starts changing flavor just as I am finishing off the bottle, so none is wasted.  I, however, do not want to risk the high end oil going rancid, which is what will happen if I wait until after I use up my open bottle.  Instead, I'll have to use the good stuff right away.

But what about my open, almost unused bottle? And did I tell you about my cheap, two-year old bottle of olive oil that I already have in my cupboard? When I first purchased it, I used it once or twice for cooking, but its flavor was never that good. I put it away in the top cabinet, and have since used it mainly as an ingredient for beauty treatments--sugar scrubs, cuticle oil, that sort of thing. So back to this newly opened bottle of oil--was it to join the half-used bottle in my cupboard? Did I want two spare bottles of olive oil?  I asked myself, 'What is the best thing to do with oil?' As a red-blooded American, I answer: Burn it, of course!

I've been chopping onions, crying along the way.  To combat the fumes, I've been turning on a stove burner (gas stove), since I don't have any candles.* (I've found that burning a candle near the chopping board helps keep down the stinging.)  Why not make an olive oil lamp, old school?  All that's needed is a jar, some wire, and some cotton cord.  Plus, it would be safer than a stove burner.

Ever wonder see pictures of Biblical style oil lamps and wonder why they were so low and flat? It's because olive oil is viscous and does not wick higher than about 2 inches.

About my snapshot:  It's a Mason jar!  If you go to the store to buy a mason jar, most likely it will not be a 'capital M' Mason jar, but a Ball brand mason jar or a Kerr brand mason jar.  I didn't think Mason jars existed.  I thought that they were all generic mason jars.

The jar once held Sam's Club medium salsa.  I had intended on saving the jar and lid for holding iced tea concentrate. I'm a big tea drinker, and instead of getting a big pitcher, a concentrate would save space in my 3/4 sized refrigerator. Plus, iced tea and mason jars go hand in hand.

The difficulty was that I could not get the pepper scent from the lid of jar.  Not after washing it 5 times in liquid detergent and scalding water.  Not after washing it in automatic dishwasher detergent and hot water.  Not after soaking it in Pine-Sol.  Not after letting it sit in vinegar for an hour.  Not after soaking it in peroxide.  Not after soaking it milk for 3 hours.  No, the pepper scent on the lid was there to stay. As a comparison, I also had a jar of kim-chi (that I was saving for my oil lamp).  The scent of the *kim-chi* washed out of THAT lid in only 3 washes of detergent and hot water.

I threw the lid away.  But! one can buy mason jar lids at the store for cheap.  I bought a pack of Ball mason jar lids.  I took them home to find that they don't fit on Mason jars.

The positive is that I now have a lovely Mason jar for drinking iced tea.

I know close to nothing about photography. To take the photo I moved the jar all over the house, putting it on multiple surfaces, at various heights, trying different camera settings, in order to get the light and shadows just so. The photo was taken on a stool underneath my brightest floor lamp, camera setting on "Portrait" with macro enabled, flash turned off. I held a manila folder just out of frame above the jar, to remove the glare from the lamp. The photo still wasn't great, so I used Picasa to change it to black and white and enhance the shadows. It still isn't a prize winner, but the details are there.

Have a great weekend!

*OK, I do have a candle (a Christmas gift), but it's scented and I'm sensitive to scent, so I don't use it. Plus, it drips wax everywhere.