Sunday, October 01, 2006

Questions? He has answers.

Why not ask the man with not only a Ph.D. in physics (thus qualifying him to answer all sorts of annoying questions like "why is the sky blue?" and "how much longer does it take a normal sized pot for cooking pasta to come to a boil than a little, tiny pot of water"), but also the patience to live with the Drunken Housewife? Just don't ask for fashion advice. And without further ado, I turn this over to my more sober helpmeet.

Here is my question: Why would a man with a degree in physics use far too little water when boiling freshly made tortellini? As Lydia Bastanich (sp?) says, you have to have room for the pasta to dance.

I disagree with this formula, that there must be sufficient water in the pot for the pasta to dance. Cooking is packed with such arbitrary conventions. It's a kind of folklore. All that really matters is that the pasta is submerged. I admit that the pasta I made came out underdone, but there was sufficient water in the pot. I just didn't cook it long enough.

I put enough water in the pot to immerse the tortellini, and no more. This was because I wanted it to be ready as quickly as possible. The real point of departure between my wife's cooking and mine is not in our methods for pasta; it is in our recipes for boiling water. Carole likes to have abundant water and to leave the pot uncovered, which makes sense for someone who plans to spend an hour preparing food. I calculate the minimum amount of water required and then use a lid, because my goal in cooking is usually to overcome hunger as quickly as possible.

I wouldn't be surprised if extra water improves the quality of the pasta, maybe improving its consistency or texture. I'm just saying, quality has never been my goal. Other legacies of my past as a single person include eating off of dirty plates to conserve dishes; buying batches of identical socks in bulk so I don't have to match them after the laundry; and entering multiples of eleven into the microwave to avoid excess navigation of my finger among the buttons.

I have a question for the sober husband please. I have a lamp. It's two + years old. Today when I went to dust it, I noticed that one of the lamp thingies was slightly discolored and cracking. A piece even came off in my hand. Upon further examination I realized the heat from the lightbulb is melting the ... "casing" or whatever the word is. Am I going to light my room on fire? Is it time to buy a new lamp? I should throw this one out, right? But it's okay to buy virtually the same thing from Target right? Because I really like the look of the one I have. Or no?

It's common in my experience for plastics to craze, crack, and become brittle over time, especially when they're subjected to cycles of heating or pressurization. I can't imagine any harm coming from this in the case of your lamp shades though, other than maybe sharp shards of plastic. I wouldn't worry about fire, as long as the lamp uses regular light bulbs. (The plastic can't get hotter than the light.)

If only one of the lamp shades is failing while the rest are OK, I'd call that a manufacturing defect and try to get a replacement part. But that is a hassle and could take months, so I don't need to tell you your life would be simpler just getting a new lamp. Then again, if you really want simplicity, you could go find a cheaper, more basic, more reliable lamp of a conventional design. My favorite is simply to use whatever lamp life sends you, abandoned on the sidewalk or whatever, and abandon your investment in aesthetics because it only leads to grief.

8 comments:

silliyak said...

I left a comment a bit ago and it seems to have gone away. The short version is, new lamp, follow manufacturers recomendation for wattage. New more light? Find lamp with higher rating.

the Drunken Housewife said...

I didn't delete your comment; I was editing the post to try to get the lamp's link to work correctly, and for whatever reason, when I republished it, the comment was gone. here's what you wrote (from my notification of comment):

As a retired Firefighter and present day lamp abuser, in all likelyhood, you have been using a bulb with a higher (therefore hotter) wattage than what is recommended by the manufacturer. In addition to the damage observed, the insulation on the wiring is probably also frying which could result in disintegration followed by arcing. The arcing would cause a short circuit. Most likely this would only trip a circuit breeaker or burn out a fuse. However, if the circuit is substandard in some way, it IS possible to have an arc somewhere else near combustibles which could start a fire. The lamp should be repaired or replaced and the correct size bulb used. Need more light? Shop for a lamp that can safely provide it, or learn how to rewire the lamp periodically to stay safe.
And Sober Husband, I won't go out and discover any new elements if you don't give anymore safety advice.

jen said...

ok, so i am still stuck on the "freshly made tortelini" line. did you actually make it by hand? is there any left??

Susan said...

Yes, but when you only put in enough water to cover the tortelini, what happens when the tortelini starts absorbing the water? Then you wind up with too little water!

Pointybird said...

Dear sober husband, I like your answer to my pasta question, but I must quibble that it makes no difference to have too little water. The thing about pasta is that it takes on water and exudes starch. If you have too little water, the pasta can't put out as much starch as it needs to (water gets saturated and won't take on more starch), and thus the pasta gets starchy and sticky, unpleasant to eat. You could eat it, you just maybe wouldn't want to. Although, not having seen the tortellini in question cooking, I can't say for sure that you used too little water, I am just taking the word of the DH, as she's such a cooking genius.

Pointybird said...

PS I found it terribly amusing to read about you putting food in the microwave in minute multiples containing the number 1. hahahaha.

the Drunken Housewife said...

Dear Jen, I did not make the tortellini by hand (although I have made pasta before). I bought it at the uber-Italian corner store on Valencia street, cater-cornered from Boogaloo's. I forget the x-street; it's somwhere around 21st, I think.

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