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Sorry, hummingbirds

Last week, I cleaned and attempted to refill the hummingbird feeder. Alas, I didn't let the heated sugar syrup cool enough before pouring it into my glass feeder. I really didn't let it cool enough: the feeder broke into seven different chunks of glass and also left more glass shards than I would have expected in my kitchen sink. Damn. I really liked that feeder.

On Sunday, elaine_brennan and I stopped by Lowe's on our way to Naugatuck. The primary reason was to stock up on salt to fill the water softener before I'm limited to lifting no more than 10# at a time. As we were checking out, I remembered the broken hummingbird feeder. We put the five 40# bags of salt in the car and returned to the store. They of course no longer carry that model. It was a little arty and this year's offerings in arty feeders didn't appeal to my sensibilities. But there was one comparatively plain glass feeder at a tolerable price, so I bought it.

Last night, I made up a quart of sugar water and put it on the stove to heat. "I'm going to be working for quite a while yet," I thought. "It will be easy to leave the syrup on the stove to cool for a few hours."

I returned to my desk and promptly became totally focused on the layout I was working on.

"Why am I smelling roasted marshmallows?" I attributed the odd aroma to sleep deprivation and kept on working right up until the time the smoke detector went off.

Oh. The syrup was never going to cool if I didn't turn off the burner it was sitting on. Oops.

I turned off the flame, then headed for the smoke detector. After disabling it, I opened the patio door to the deck and returned to the pan on the stove.

Hmm. I don't think I've ever seen sugar syrup that dark before, but I was most impressed by the fact that it was still at a full rolling boil even though it had been off the heat for a couple of minutes at that point. Wow, what little liquid was left was forming some really big bubbles, too.

Using a potholder on the handle, just for safety's sake I carried the pot out to the edge of the deck and christened a weed tree and ground below with the still-boiling, now-blackened, liquid sludge. It's water and sugar; it will dissolve eventually and I don't have to worry about it being reported as a toxic clean-up site in the meanwhile. (Obligatory Minicon Oobleck Reference.)

I thought the pot was probably a goner, but great, gromping gallons and gallons of running water kept foaming and turning dark brown, so I kept rinsing the pan out thinking that as soon as the color lightened enough, I'd add some soap and set it to soak. More and more brown foam slowly yielded a few small stainless steel spots on the interior of the pot. Hmmm. Okay. I kept the water running. Anyone who's seen the Grand Canyon knows the power of running water.

The pot is now surprisingly clean, but it may still be a goner. It looks okay, but running my hand over the bottom reveals bumps and buckles that weren't previously there. It wouldn't work well on a glasstop burner at this point, and I doubt that it will continue to conduct heat as evenly as it did before. The Revere copper-clad saucepan served me well for most of a decade beyond it's 25 year warranty. And I have another one just like it, so I don't have to buy another right away. I'll just have to wash dishes a bit more frequently.

I am however, a tad reluctant to start another quart of sugar syrup right now.

Sorry, hummingbirds. I trust you're having a good time chowing down over at the neighbors' feeders and will continue doing so for however long it takes me to fill and hang the new feeder here.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 26th, 2009 01:42 pm (UTC)
I like hummingbirds, and we had a little feeder at our previous house that blew over and broke.

I bought a new one for here to put in the plant hanger on the deck. Unfortunately, all it did was attract a huge number of ants, so I threw it away.
May. 26th, 2009 02:53 pm (UTC)
You need to attract an anteater.
May. 26th, 2009 02:29 pm (UTC)
Yup, saw it coming -- probably because I'm currently soaking the cast-iron soup-kettle in which I had been simmering a few pounds of chicken thighs, while doing stuff on the computer. For whatever it might be worth, I've always done something like this about every one and a half years, though only rarely to the destruction of a copper-clad stainless steel pan (and, of course, cast-iron can take a whole lot more of such abuse). It's fortunate that I have a gas stove and don't need to worry about the smoothness of pot-bottoms.

May. 26th, 2009 05:23 pm (UTC)
I seem to be on a "once every 15 years or so" schedule, which is nothing to complain about. Friends and family have done their best to ruin my pans equally often. I forget what my father boiled dry. maruad (aka "A. Lino Flambé") has already alluded to that incident with the oil in December of ’86. I still have the skillet from that; it's fine.
May. 26th, 2009 06:16 pm (UTC)
Both of our Revereware saucepans of the largest size are lumpy and bumpy because I burned stuff in them. The first one was done in by beef stew -- David's parents arrived an hour early and I got flustered. I'm not sure about the second one, but I think it was oatmeal.

May. 26th, 2009 02:54 pm (UTC)
Oh, one of those days.
May. 26th, 2009 03:11 pm (UTC)
At least you didn't put the pan on the linoleum floor.
May. 26th, 2009 05:07 pm (UTC)
There wasn't a "whoof!" sound or orange glow through the archway, either.

What can I say? I learn from my friends. :-)
May. 26th, 2009 04:10 pm (UTC)
Pity you didn't catch it earlier...sounds like it would have made great caramel with the addition of some cream.

Alas, I've done what you did...but in my case, I slagged an all-copper pot of which I had been very fond. And it smelled *horrible* -- particularly since it had contained a stove-top potpurri mix.
May. 26th, 2009 05:13 pm (UTC)
Cream? What is this "cream" you speak of?

Huh. Only 1.7 grams of fat...per tablespoon. That's much less than I would have expected. You can whip cream into butter, yet butter has 11 grams of fat per tablespoon. Curious.

Oh, dear. The aroma of charred potpurri must have been utterly hideous. Bleech.
May. 26th, 2009 05:58 pm (UTC)
There's a lot more water in cream than in butter. If you've ever made butter from cream or buttermilk, you'll remember all that liquid that you poured off. Butter is solid milkfat, essentially.
May. 26th, 2009 05:14 pm (UTC)
Perhaps the most unexpected use for my (minimal) cell phone is the alarm. For example, when I put the shirts into the dryer, I set the alarm for a couple of minutes before the end of the dry cycle, and I'm right there with hangers to keep the shirts from getting (any more) wrinkled.
It would work the same for things on the stove . . .
May. 26th, 2009 05:25 pm (UTC)
Yes, I constantly use my cell alarm to wake myself up or remember when it is I need to leave for an appointment. The stove itself has a timer and so does the microwave. They're my most convenient option...if I remember to use them.
May. 27th, 2009 12:56 am (UTC)
someone at Conqust this weekend told the tale of having a glass pan MELT on the stove and explode all over the kitchen. The linoleum cooled the globs enough that they did not ignite the wooden floor beneath the linoleum.

I just kind of sat there with my mouth open. Borosilicate starts to melt at around 1500° F, best working temp is around 2000° F. Yikes.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )


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