Friday, 21 December 2012

Uncommon Ways of Using Common Salt

Salt is one of the most essential condiments in the kitchen ever since time itself. It preserves food, also makes them tastier.

Salt has many other uses eg. a salt soak relieves tired feet, and can also be used in body and facial scrub lotions.

It is said that local medicine-men use coarse salt  among other things, to drive away evil spirits but I myself have never seen this being practised.

And  it seems that to keep rain at bay when holding wedding feasts or gatherings outside, some people swear by  placing a bowl containing some salt and onions in a corner of the house somewhere high like on the roof. You'll see clouds gathering but no rain falls until the event is over.

Maybe faith has a lot to do with that.

On the practical side, here are some uncommon ways you might make better use of our common salt other than the standard pinch or two in your cooking.
  1. If you drop a whole egg on the floor, pour salt all over the egg, let it sit for awhile, then use dustpan, the egg will come right up, without all that mess.
  2.  Sprinkle salt on your shelves to keep ants away.
  3. Add a little salt to your boiling water when cooking eggs; a cracked egg will stay in its shell this way.
  4. Soak wrinkled apples in a mildly salted water solution to perk them up.
  5. Use salt to clean your discolored coffee pot.
  6. Mix salt with turpentine to whiten you bathtub and toilet bowl.
  7. Clean brass, copper and pewter with paste made of salt and vinegar, thickened with flour
  8. Add a little salt to the water your cut flowers will stand in for a longer life.
  9. Use a mixture of salt and lemon juice to clean piano keys.
  10. To fill plaster holes in your walls, use equal parts of salt and starch, with just enough water to make stiff putty.
  11. Dry salt sprinkled on your toothbrush makes a good tooth polisher.
  12. A dash of salt in warm milk makes a more relaxing beverage.
  13. A dash of salt enhances the taste of tea.
  14. Freshen sponges by soaking them in salt water.
  15. Clean your greens in salt water for easier removal of dirt.
  16. A dash of salt improves the taste of coffee.
  17. Salt and soda will sweeten the odor of your refrigerator.
  18. A pinch of salt improves the flavor of cocoa.
Hmmm... I have not tried drinking  tea, coffee or cocoa with a dash of salt before and am not sure if I dare try but right now I do  feel like whipping up some steamy hot creamy sumptuous oatmeal.  I cook it with milk and add a tiny  pinch of salt while it's gently boiling. Squirt some honey over before eating. I can attest the salt gives body to the taste and takes plain oatmeal up to the next level.

It's the only way I will eat oatmeal now. Try it, you'll not regret it.

Just don't take this post with a pinch of salt.

Friday, 14 December 2012

My Poor Co-op.

It almost got dragged under during the economic fallout of the late nineties  Ever since then it is struggling to keep it's head above water.

When I was still working, I had continued with my monthly contributions in good faith.

When I retired seven years ago, I thought I'd submit my notice of resignation as a member and withdraw all my contributions.

But I was told that I could only resign my membership at 55 years of age. At that time I was 3 years shy of being eligible.

However they said I could apply to withdraw 50% of my savings, which I did.

My poor co-op.

It was only after 3 YEARS that they managed to pay me the first instalment.

And then 15 months later a second one, followed closely by a final payment.

Yesterday, after hearing that they now have their own building, I decided to make them settle once and for all the balance in my account.

My poor co-op.

It turns out that to resign, you do not simply give them a notice (as what I had expected).

To resign, you have to apply to it's Board.

The Board will then make a consideration at one of their monthly board meetings.

Trick is, your application will not make it to the meeting this month and probably not the next nor the next as they only consider 30 requests a month, and there is quite a queue.

And once approved, you will only get your money maybe months later, also in instalments.

Oh dear, poor me.

Well at least that lady who explained everything did not say it might take YEARS.

Then she says I have to write an official letter to request resignation.

Got me wondering, if there's really that many of us resigning, wouldn't it be simpler for them to have us each fill a standard form, rather than deciphering our letters later for details.

But, I scribbled a letter anyhow.... right in front of the lady.

Haven't written an official letter in seven long years.

My poor co-op.

I hope you'll approve my resignation and pay me my money.

I'd hate to write another letter...  to appeal.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

A Lot of Hot Air

Physics say when you blast air with some heat, it rises.

Even as you gently cook your sunnyside eggs in the pan, the heated air over it rises bringing along the wondrous aroma of breakfast into the bedrooms of their sleeping occupants... provided the doors are open, that is.

If not, then you get reminded of NATO: No action, tidor only

Hello there veterans, it's a bright and sunny Sunday and  the air is already warming up outside (well, it was when I wrote that this morning).

These thoughts of hot air conjures up similarly warm and happy memories of an action-filled time we (the hubby and our two young ladies) had in Turkey last July, not least riding in a hot air balloon.

After that experience I can say now I know how a feather feels floating haplessly in the sky.

Because somehow it felt just like that, no wind in your face, no undertow currents tugging at you... just a nice dreamy floating feeling as we took in the scenery a thousand feet below us, from a basket filled with I think 18 others.

It took place in Goreme in the Cappadocia region of Central Turkey, an area of very interesting albeit arid terrain.

Early morning was when we lifted off before the cold desert air gets warm because balloons depend on the difference in temperature of the air inside it vs. outside for buoyancy.

First the preparations to inflate the balloon.

And then all aboard! Lightweights on one end and the one heavyweight at the other.

Some blastings of propane gas and we have lift-off... 

followed by a feast for the eyes...

Cappadocia is settled on a high, dry plateau in the middle of Turkey. The region is one of hot, dry summers and cold, sometimes snowy, winters. Ancient volcanic eruptions blanketed this region with thick ash, which solidified into a soft rock—called tuff—tens of meters thick. Wind and water went to work on this plateau, leaving only its harder elements behind to form a fairy tale landscape of cones, pillars, pinnacles, mushrooms, and chimneys, which stretch as far as 130 feet  into the sky. 
(From National Geographic)

These are volcanic rock formations called fairy chimneys and typically consist of relatively soft rock topped by harder, less easily eroded stone that protects each column from the elements.
(From Wikipedia)

Hokay... after an hour thereabouts, our skilful pilot took us back to solid ground

 The shadow of our descending balloon

We landed right smack on a farm trailer. Thank God the heavyweight was still flexible enough to lift herself onto the basket's  edge to get off.

Feathers no more

Our fellow passengers

I do like hot air come to think of it, both that we fly with and that we generate in the kitchen.

And quick look at the clock tells me it's time to produce more of the latter.

Up, up and awaaaay....

Sunday, 2 December 2012


There was a time when the expletive "BLAST!" was in common usage where I was studying for my degree.

 I don't know whether it is still in fashion anymore. Probably not.

More graphic swears and cusses are uttered nowadays to show one's annoyance.

Actually BLAST! sounds quite appropriate especially when someone has managed to get you all worked up and you feel like BLASTING him/her off the face of the earth.

Well, current thinking says to go right ahead.

You can B.L.A.S.T this person and even keep your cool doing it.

Here comes the fun part: the most deafening sound that you hear from this is the silence, perhaps just a murmur.

Because what you're going to do are:

B - Pray that God BLESSES that person, because you
L - LOVE him/her and you love yourself, and you
A - APPRECIATE her/him and you appreciate yourself, and say
S - SORRY for the feelings of resentment you've harboured, and say
T - THANK YOU for being your learning tool

This is how to turn around negative thoughts that eat you up inside into positive ones that calm your nerves.

Being resentful is all about our own self-esteem really, and almost nothing about the other person.

When I read this (in a forum that I had stumbled upon), I remembered Prof. Muhaya's take on this in her Wednesday motivational slot on Radio IKIM.

She said that whenever you feel annoyed with anyone, simply recite surah Al-Fatihah and send the other person your love and forgiveness instead.

Insya Allah there is hikmah (a hidden wisdom) in your action that is beneficial to all involved.

 Just thought I'd share.

 Oh and it's Sunday today. Have a BLAST! everyone...