Mid February in Minnesota

Today’s post comes from Ben

The weather is all over the place. One day it’s 5° and windy and a little bit ugly out. One day it was 30° and almost sunny. I was seeing some 40s in the forecast but they’re gone now and it is teens and single digits, which I thought we were past. I’m ready to be done with winter.

Not much happening here on the farm, still finishing up bookwork, doing a few tweaks on Spring planting needs, and I am as boring as a one armed Lighting designer with post it notes covering my sling. Recovery still goes well, I’m off the pain meds, I’m tired of the sling already and I have over a week to go. At least it’s not five weeks to go. (The sling kinks a little at my wrist and that was bugging me. I solved that by stuffing a hotpad in there for more padding) I am moving slower than molasses in February but at least I have two legs to stand on. And I’m not wrestling ducks with one arm.

The bottom fell off one of our birdfeeders, it got to swinging in the wind and simply unscrewed. And squirrels, trying to get at the corn in the feed room, chewed through the cord of the tank heater down by the barn. The cord comes out through a crack in the feed room door, so it was in their way as they attempted to gain entrance. I took the cord back up to the shop and put a new receptacle on it; I can do that pretty much do one handed, then we fastened the cord higher up so hopefully it’s out of their way. We use this tank of warm water to thaw ice in the buckets that have froze. (The chickens like water out of a bucket better than the water in the heated water bucket.) We seem to have a lot of squirrels around this year. It’s driving the dogs nuts. Here’s a picture of Humphrey gazing out the window.

I’m having trouble washing my hands, it’s hard to wash ‘hand’. Dictation on the Mac laptop works pretty well. As does dictating to my phone. Trying to hit “Control, alt, delete” on the computer has proven difficult. Some of that is simply the keyboard being too far up on my desk.

Kelly has plowed the driveway, filled the birdfeeders, does chicken and duck chores morning and night, feeds the dogs, drives daughter around, drives me around, and tries to get some work hours in when she can. She is pretty impressive.

HOW DO YOU HANDLE HOT THINGS FROM THE OVEN? MITTS? TOWEL? SILICON CLAM THINGS?

68 thoughts on “Mid February in Minnesota”

  1. Glad to hear that you’re continuing to heal on schedule, Ben. Glad, too, that Kelly is SuperWoman during this stretch of hardship.

    I have two large silicon mits that I use when something is really hot from the oven. I don’t like to use them as they are not as pliable and flexible as I’d like; I don’t feel like I’m in full control. (Can’t imagine how those astronauts feel with all that gear on.)

    For top of the stove hot stuff I use potholders. I have several pairs, but my favorites are a rather disheveled looking, hand-crocheted pair a former colleague made for me forty years ago. I use them practically every day, and I think of her often, though I suspect she’s long dead by now.

    As you know, I cook for my friend Philip on Sunday’s. Philip doesn’t believe in potholders, and doesn’t have any. He used to use towels, so that what I do when I’m there, but it just doesn’t feel safe to me. Also, he has an electric stove, which I find it difficult to control the heat on. It’s just not responsive, quickly enough. At this point, however, I usually cook most of what I’m going to serve him at our house, and simply reheat it there. Easier and less stressful that way.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. I have absolutely nothing against silicone potholders or gloves but I don’t have any. Mostly because I already own about 10 potholders. People give them to me because they know I like to cook so I don’t need to go out and purchase anything new in that respect.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I use whatever is handy and what is appropriate for the container coming out of the oven or off the stove. My go-to is our old Ove Glove. We have had lots of wrist-covering cloth mitts over the years. Our new ones are a bit stiff though, and the “fingers” are kind of short, so I don’t trust them much. One neat thing we have is a silicon handle sleeve that fits over our cast iron skillet handle for safe pickup when the skillet is really not. Once in a while I use kitchen towels like the folks on TV cooking shows use, but I prefer to use towels for drying hands, etc.

    We have (or had) two silicon clam things but as others have said, they tend to slip at the wrong time (is there a RIGHT time to drop a hot roasting pan on the kitchen floor??).

    Chris in O-town

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I don’t like using oven mitts because they are too big for my small hands. One year Mom gave me an Ove Glove as a gift but it was too bulky so I gave it away. I do have about a half dozen hand crocheted pot holders that my maternal grandmother made. They are between 4 and 5 inches round and work quite well. She also knit square ones with small, tight stitches and I have 4 of those.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    This is a topic about which I can go on and on. Maybe you just want to scroll to the next entry. You have been warned. Potholders are an area of my extreme pickiness because I have been burned, literally burned, when they do not work as needed. Potholders with silicone spots on them adhere to things well, but it makes the holder so thick that you can’t sustain an effective grip. The hot pan slips or falls. BLAST. Crocheted potholders tend to have holes that my fingers pop through at the wrong time. OUCH. Towels are often too thin, as well as draping, then they catch on fire (gas stove) if they dangle in the wrong spot. 911–FIRE. Oven mitts are too big and often too thick so I cannot even grip the item. UFFDA. I have also been given knitted potholders which is a lovely thought, but if the yarn is not cotton or real wool, the synthetic fibers melt upon contact with heat. I have been holding onto something hot with one of those when it melted through. I got burned. Again.

    So-o-o, I look for small, thin, cheap potholders that bend the way I want them to, and also allow me to grip the item as needed. Target usually have some that meet that criteria. I do have a collection of the kinds I just describe that people gift to me. I must sort through them and pass them on to GoodWill. Many years ago, (40 years!) I was working with Hmong resettlement. A man brought me a potholder his wife made in traditional Hmong design. I have had it all these years and it meets all criteria for an effective potholder. I can be satisfied.

    Liked by 7 people

  6. I don’t like the silicone clamshells. Here you have something, a potholder, so simple and basic that a child can manufacture it, replaced by a product that requires sophisticated technology and equipment yet is less satisfactory and functional. Sort of a metaphor for something.

    Liked by 7 people

  7. I am currently sporting a 2 inch burn on my right arm from an oven rack while I was removing a pie from the oven. I scar easily, and since I bake a lot, and since I dislike large oven mitts and grab what ever is available to remove things from the oven, I have lots of visible scars on my arm. Teenage girl clients see them and assume that I self harm like they do.

    Liked by 7 people

      1. In Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain wrote about a tough chef he ran into once with scars up and down his hands and arms from handling hot things. I sure don’t want to look like that!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Perhaps because I have worked in and around several “professional” kitchens, I’m extremely aware of the dangers that can lurk there. You can get seriously hurt, or hurt someone else, if you aren’t paying attention. The dangers in private kitchens are no less real. This is especially true if you have kids or pets that are underfoot.

        Liked by 4 people

  8. I could write a long dissertation about the hazards in the average kitchen, but I’ll spare you. But allow me a rant about the small, tabletop convection oven I bought while the oven in our stove was on the fritz.

    I got it cheap (an unused and unwanted wedding gift), so I can’t complain on that score. But the damn thing is dangerous. It’s poorly insulated, the rack is flimsy and doesn’t stay seated, and the oven itself is so light weight that it’s tippy. You don’t want your oven to tip forward when you’re removing some hot dish (not necessarily a hotdish, though it could be) from it. I’ve come close to having that happen at least a couple of times. The last time it happened I burned the knuckles on my right hand because of it, and that hurts.

    Liked by 5 people

  9. I have a couple of plain terry square hot pads that I bought eons ago at Target. Heavy enough to insulate, but not so thick they don’t bend. Throw ‘em the wash from time to time. They might have been new when we bought this house in 2002… time tested, that’s what they are. I have a single oven mitt that works well – especially if I want something that will also cover a bit of my arm. It’s of the cloth variety and has words not fit for polite company on it… but like the plain square pads it does what I need quite well and the design amuses me. It’s a bit stained, but aren’t we all?

    Liked by 6 people

        1. Except that the new job is sort of eating my brain… and I am doing what I can now to be prepared for single living next fall when Daughter heads off to a yet-to-be-determined college (still waiting on answers from a few)… I am doing well. House is still standing and is not a health hazard, dogs continue to like me – and even though it is sort of eating my brain, the job is good, too. Heck, I even got out to the opera for the first time in two years… 😁

          Liked by 7 people

        2. I occasionally lose the top of the dining room table and dishes have been known to sit for more than a day… but nothing that can’t be recovered from in time for my house cleaner on Tuesdays. 😁

          Liked by 2 people

  10. I have a pair of well-made crocheted potholders that I inherited from my mom (don’t remember where she got them, it might have been the tiny gift shop, stocked with crafts made by the patients, at Jenkins Home in S.D. where my great-grandmother lived). I also have a potholder of “Minnesota Principal Hotdishes By Region”, which is looking pretty faded at this point–I think I bought it for my first apartment, which means it’s about 17 years old. My roommate has bought several seasonal oven mitts, which we display more than use, partly because they’re pretty and partly because it’s hard to grip things with them. The cast-iron fry pan has its own little quilted handle cover, which was made out of chicken-print fabric and works quite well.

    Ben, I’m glad you’re coping, and Anna, nice to hear from you!

    Liked by 5 people

  11. I grew up with plain old homemade hot pads. Mom taught me how to make them and I made some as gifts over the years. My aunts said they liked them more than other people liked them, ;-).

    I use towels often. But we do have an electric stove so risk of fire is reduced.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Well, I have managed to put my socks on with one hand, but have not figured out how to ties my shoes.
      And regular jeans are impossible. So it’s sweat pants and I can only use one pocket. Which means I have resorted to a Fanny pack slung over my shoulder for my flashlight and keys.
      When the shoulder was hurting more, deodorant was almost impossible to apply on the other side. (Stick. Maybe spray would Be easier?)
      I haven’t tried getting in a tractor or driving the car yet. I did drive the gator one day.
      Oh, latching the seatbelt on the passenger side is impossible.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. You know, some more things might be possible if I was a little more flexible…but my knees don’t bend like that anymore.
        (Did anybody look up ‘The Harmless Farmer’ that I mentioned last week? I can’t believe the stuff he does with his toes!)

        Liked by 2 people

        1. He’s amazing. I’ve seen video of others who have overcome what would seem like insurmountable obstacles, and it just blows me away. Painting with your mouth, for instance, or running races on your hands because you don’t have any legs. That was why I hesitated to come up with a slogan for Ben’s one armed activities. People can do amazing things when properly motivated.

          Liked by 1 person

  12. Mid February in ND: yesterday it was 55 degrees here. We are now in a Winter Storm Watch for a potential 5 inches of snow by Monday night. Lows on Wednesday of -17. Yuck.

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    1. I can crack an egg with one hand. Years in the bakery business gave me time to mess around learning how. But one of the things I’ve discovered is that considering the varying thicknesses of eggshells and being careful about it, it’s actually faster to just use two hands.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Cracking an egg with one hand is hard. One of my nice cousins who went to the college in our town when I was 7-8 years old, would return home to Pipestone where, during summer vacation, she worked in an egg factory. She could hold 3-4 eggs in one hand and crack them all at the same time. After Marlys told me that and demonstrated the ability to hold all those eggs at one time, I considered her fascinating. I tried for years to crack one egg with one hand, and never mastered it.

        Liked by 3 people

        1. Edge of the bowl because in order in order to twist them and get them open you have to have a good seam

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    1. I got it in three today but so much depends on the initial words you choose. After my second guess, I had four of the letters, one in the right place. Yesterday it took me five because there were several choices that fit the criteria.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A few days ago there was a Wordle where the first and third letters were “a,” and the fifth letter was “e.” I had those in my first guess, but it took me six to get the right one. So frustrating when it becomes merely a guessing game.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I got today’s word in two tries. My first guess simply didn’t leave room for any other choice than the correct one, or I couldn’t think of another. The Nerdle took four tries today, but I was happy with my Quordle. Did it in record time and solved the puzzles in 4,5,6, and 7 tries; my best so far.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I have some crocheted and quilted potholders that were made by my mother and grandmother. The crocheted ones are mostly keepsakes, though now and then I will put one under a bowl as a trivet. I also have two quilted potholders I got at craft sales that are sewn into a bowl shape. I like these for nestling under the pyrex bowls I use in the toaster oven.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. I have very old crocheted potholders that were made by my grandma. I don’t use them except to follow as crochet patterns for items made in the round. I also have several sets of quilted cotton potholders that were made by an old friend of mine who has passed away. So I think of her when I use them. I have one set she made that I’m saving for something – I’m not sure what. I often tell myself that Rose would want me to use them. I should trust silicone but I don’t, so no to the silicone clams. I’m not even sure what that is. I agree that big thick oven mitts are useless. I can’t grab anything with them. I’m accident prone in the kitchen so it’s best to use the quilted cotton ones. They’re flexible and I feel much safer using them. My current problem is to remember that the burners on my ceramic stove top stay hot for awhile and I shouldn’t put anything made of cotton on the stove while they’re still cooling. My kitchen is so small that when the stove top isn’t being used, it gets used as counter space. Bad habit.

    I make crocheted cotton dish cloths and hand towels. I don’t think crocheting works well for potholders unless you turn and crochet multiple layers but then you lose flexibility.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Back in the days when I was getting invited to a lot of family wedding showers, I was present when a relative opened up a gift from my mother that included a pair of handmade quilted potholders. Later I was present at another shower where she regifted them to someone else. My mother didn’t say anything, of course, and you could see that she was trying to keep a blank expression, but my sister and I both shot disapproving looks at the original giftee. Poor form to regift something someone gave you right in front of them. Eventually those potholders wound up with me. I don’t remember how. I guess many people want the matchy matchy things they picked out and put on their bridal registry, and handmade things don’t appeal to them.

    I believe I have that particular pair in my picnic basket. They come in handy when you’re cooking something on a grill, and they look nice with a checkered tablecloth.

    Liked by 3 people

        1. This incident reminds me of a wedding gift Hans and I received from a very dear friend of mine. Very close friend, really more like a sister to me. It was a set of ceramic canisters for flour, sugar, and something else. I love pottery, but these were from a very well know potter in the Twin Cities at the time, who in my estimation made reasonably good pots (though clearly with a mass market in mind), and the ugliest imaginable glazes. In short, I hated them. We hung on to them, but never used them, for a couple of years, and then decided to sell them at a garage sale.

          Wouldn’t you know it, the day of the sale, my friend (who at the time lived in Minneapolis and didn’t spend much time in St. Paul) came driving through our alley to see what we had to offer. Fortunately she had to circle the block and come back due to traffic, so we had time to hide those canisters before she saw them. We clearly didn’t want to hurt her feelings, but we also didn’t want to have to deal with that gift in perpetuity.

          Liked by 1 person

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