Saturday, March 14, 2009

Birthday follow-up

This was just going to be a comment on the last post, but got so long-winded (no!) that it needs more space.

Anyway, the B&C got the usual gifts that scream "I have no idea what to get you, so this is a token/joke gift". Of course, they will sit out in the kitchen until the Find-a-Place-for-Everything Fairy comes a long.

"Our" gifts went down extremely well though. We went to one shop/store and got everything there:

A teeny tiny egg whisk, with a funny egg in place of the handle. The B&C makes pancakes, eggs etc for the kids every weekend. (The kids tell everyone who phones that I am lounging in bed during this time, but I'm usually battling a mountain of dirty laundry or putting away the clothes that have somehow accumulated on the chair in my bedroom.) The Little Guy chose the whisk hinself and was very proud of it. I gather it was used this morning but I was unblocking the upstairs toilet at the time.

A Cuisinart two cup coffee maker, which the B&C declared he'd been wanting for ages, then promptly went to the corner shop for his coffee this morning! What the...?

A "rabbit" corkscrew. If you've never had one of these, they are brilliant. Such is our wine consumption however, that we're onto our third or fourth. (I would like to say we do a lot of entertaining, but it appears we just do a lot of drinking.) Technically, this was a gift for the house, but hey - what's a girl to do?

A grilling pan. ("Grilling" in the USA refers to BBQ'ing rather than sticking something under that thing in your oven. That is called "broiling" over here.) There's a story behind this - hence the need for a post instead of a comment. Five years ago we rehabbed this house. By rehab, I mean rip the inside out, floors, walls, everything. It's a lot of work but essentially you're designing yourself a new house within the confines of the existing walls. Oh yes, and within the strict rules of the local Landmark Board, but don't get me started on that.

Anyway, the B&C's one request for the kitchen was that we could have an indoor grill (BBQ) on the stove top. No problem, there are many models that come with a grill. The friends who already had them all advised us to get the strongest extraction fan we could, to avoid sitting in the smoke while eating your dinner. After about a week's worth of research, I knew more about kitchen extraction fans than sane persons should. It was decided that since the kitchen has an external wall, we could buy an industrial extraction fan and place it on the outside of the house. Great. It really works - small children and animals aren't safe when you switch it on.

The problem? Remember those sub zero Chicago winters I've been moaning about for the past four months? Yes, well the fan lets an awful lot of air in and during our first winter in this house the kitchen was basically an igloo. You could literally see your breath despite the forced air and under floor heating. I was cooking dinner in a fleece jacket. It took us a while to figure out just where the howling gale was coming from and even longer to solve the problem. But solve it we did. The fan grid above the stove is now stopped up with thermal insulation material, and we constructed a box on the outside wall which completely covers the big fan box - rendering the indoor grill completely useless during the winter months when it's needed! Hence the $40 grill pan. (I do remember at the time asking why we couldn't just buy one of these pans instead of having to have the special stove top grill and big honking fan, but I probably shouldn't mention that now. The pan is enough of an "I told you so".)

Oh and a delicious carrot cake that is sitting in the kitchen just daring me to eat the remaining slices.



  1. Yes...... I know how an extractor fan can suck out all the hot air from a house in seconds. Ours isn't strong enough to suck out small children & animals but I did have a vision of it in my head & laughed out loud!

    The presents sound great!
    I am about to buy an electric griller as I like the way that fat is removed from the food. Strange thing for a veggie to get though, isn't it?

  2. I'm pleased to hear that it all worked out well in the end!
    I'd love a slice of that carrot cake right now! (large piece please! haha) X

  3. Just why is that men are so difficult to buy presents for?

    By comparison, women are so much easier.


  4. He is a lucky man to have had such thoughtful (albeit slightly unusual) presents. Not like my poor friend!! Lx

  5. Well, carrot IS a vegetable, so why not?

    (I know, I know. There is no hope for me)

  6. Why is that men are so impossible to buy for? And they always say 'but I'm so easy!' too.

    Also - referring to an earlier post - when I was at University, Sherberts were slang for pints of lager. No idea why.

    I just stumbled onto your blog - it is great to find some other Brit expat Mummies out there. The US is different to Bosnia, where we're living, but it seems that the chill winds of Chicago render the climate much the same!

  7. You're too funny! I'm sure there's not a drinking problem...there may be drinking, but problem? Never! Love the Grill story most of all!

  8. So.... you really can't use the indoor grill?

  9. March 19th - about 40 farenheit and a bit of a wind. Not really grilling weather.


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