Thursday, April 23, 2009

Vintage Percolator

My mom has an old percolator that had belonged to her and my dad. Last Sunday, I went over her house to do some garden and yard work for her, and I cooked her a big Sunday breakfast, brewing dark roast coffee in the percolator. Needless to say, I just couldn't resist taking a few photos of it, and posting them here. It amazes me how so very few people nowadays even know what a percolator is, never mind how one goes about using it to make coffee! In my opinion, nothing tastes better than freshly perked coffee.

For those who are unfamiliar with this simple, but effective, piece of technology, there is a strainer sitting on top of a hollow tube. The tube has a flare at the bottom. Ground coffee is placed in the strainer, and the strainer-tube assembly is lowered into the percolator, which is filled with fresh water. You put the lid on and then place it over a flame on your stove top, and as the water begins to boil, it "perks" up through the tube, is caught by the little glass plug on top, is deflected back down into the strainer, flows through the coffee grinds, and then drains back into the percolator's main body. And after a few minutes of that, you have the best imaginable tasting coffee in the world!

My parents' percolator spent many, many years in the same old pot closet, and has numerous dings in its sides from all the times larger pots and pans had either crashed into it, or it accidentally fell off a shelf and down on to the floor. In the photo below, you can see some of the worst of these dents. You can also see gradations on the side near the handle, that allow you to determine approximately how many cups you're going to brew, by measuring how much water you've put in:

This next photo shows the front of the percolator, and its slightly dented spout:

Few people today use percolators. It's really a shame, in a way, especially given all the emphasis these days on great tasting and exotic coffees. Of course, you can still find suppliers of new percolators online, as well as vintage percolators for sale. But for the serious caffeine lover, there is just no better means of preparing a great tasting cup of coffee!

[And by the way, this posting is dedicated to my fellow caffeine-addict and blogger, TheCaffeinatedLibrarian, who also shares my appreciation of old, vintage percolators! ]

Monday, April 13, 2009

Rock Me Amadeus

Well, I sure hope the Easter Bunny was good to all of you. He certainly did well by me. Apparently, he knows what a fan I am of all things Enlightenment, especially the music of Herr Wolfgang. Not to mention that I also enjoy a good piece of chocolate just as much as the next person. So he rewarded me for my numerous forgiven misdeeds by supplying me with an excellent bar of feine milchschokolade, packaged as "Salzburger Mozarttafel" by Mirabell of Austria. As you can see in the photo, this chocolate bar balances perfectly against a large book, as long as at least the upper one-third of the bar is removed, so as to lower the center of gravity (I am not really sure where that chocolate actually went).

And as an added bonus, once I am done sharing my Easter present with most of my friends, I will have a very nice portrait of Amadeus to place on my future piano or harpsichord (assuming, of course, that I ever get my parlor squared-away).

Hope you all had a wonderful holiday and weekend! And now it's back to the grind...ugh....!!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Workbench Top Update

I recently removed much of the remaining wood from the maple log that will ultimately form the bench top slab for the Roubo-style workbench that I am building for my shop. There are still quite a few high spots that I need to take down, but the bulk of the wood has been removed from this side. Only that Knot from Hell remained right in the center of the log. You can plainly see it in the photo below:

A view of the knot (and a few of the remaining high areas) from the other side:

This evening, I removed much of the knot by slicing away at some of the wood surrounding it, and then chopping the knot up with my splitting axe, being careful not to completely pop the knot out -- I don't want to be left with a gaping hole right below the line. Rather, I just want to get this bulge down before hewing this side of the log:

Here is the other view of the log, with the knot and bulge largely (though not completely) cut-down:

My next step will be to insert a few screws into the far side of the log to ensure that the existing splits don't open any wider -- I don't want a large portion of one side of the log to break off, although, if it did, I have a contingency plan for mitigating that. As things stand, this is going to end up being a "composite" top consisting most likely of two slabs (one large, one small), keyed together to provide an approximately rectangular bench-top. But I want to keep this main slab whole, if possible.

Once the screws are in place to stabilize the log (actually, I think it's officially a "cant" at this point, not a log anymore), I'll turn it over and score the other side (the bottom of the workbench slab). That should be a bit easier, as there's less material to remove from the bottom than there had been on top.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Crocuses in Connecticut

Spring has definitely sprung here in Connecticut. I discovered several crocuses (croci?) in my yard the other day. They are identical in coloration to a crocus photographed by my blogging friend Shelley in Michigan, and posted here.

It was cold and raining all day yesterday and they remained closed (interesting, how they manage to protect themselves):

However, today was very sunny, and the two crocuses were opened:

The crocuses are right on the edge of what had once been a terraced garden in my back yard, that has long been covered over with earth and growth. This spring, I will be excavating and revitalizing this garden. There is also a nice apple tree growing right in the center that I'll prune and get into good shape, so we'll have plenty of edible apples come Fall.