Macho Chef: Plumbing
The reason plumbers charge such exorbitant prices is because they are worth every penny. From recent experience I have learned that one good plumber is worth four regular people.
The old faucet had been leaking for the last 18 months and Mrs. Chef was unimpressed with my solution of placing a washcloth beneath the dripping water so it wouldn't make the annoying noise. On those days when we left the house without placing the strategic washcloth to mute the plink-plink-plink all day long, even the cats were starting to look a little twitchy by the time we came home.
So we bought ourselves a new faucet, and being the handyman that I fancy myself to be, I installed that puppy one afternoon while Mrs. Chef was at the grocery store.
The pleasure she expressed when she came home lasted until she tried to run the water to wash some dishes.
"Hon, the water isn't getting hot."
What, I thought. "Hang on and I'll check it out."
So I went over to the sink where she had been running water for the past 10 minutes and checked the temperature by the scientific method of sticking my hand in the stream.
It was cold, confirming that Mrs. Chef was a good judge of relative temperature and that there was something wrong with the faucet.
I put on my best Competent Dude Face as I looked at fittings and I twisted some knobs, but the water refused to become warm. Apparently the CDF technique wasn't going to work.
We called the plumber, but it was the weekend and he wasn't around.
Later in the evening, we sent the youngest son to get his shower. While he was in there, I went for a drink of water at the new faucet.
The water was hot.
For some reason, running some hot water in the shower across the house made the water also hot in the kitchen sink, but the pressure was so low the hot water wasn't that useful.
So I called out through the bathroom door to my son in shower, "Turn off the water."
"Turn off the water."
And Mrs. Chef popped her head into the bathroom, "Your father wants you to turn off the water."
She turned from the door, rolling her eyes.
Suddenly, as my son twisted the knobs in the bathroom, the stream of water in the kitchen sputtered and spat once or twice, like a cat sneezing, and then the water started coming out in a steady stream.
But it was cold water. Now it was my turn to roll my eyes.
But at least we had something we could work with.
So until the plumber shows up this week, our kitchen routine to clean dishes involves the whole family. One person washes, and one person dries the dishes and puts them away. Another person stands by the bathroom shower and turns the hot water on and off according to the messages the fourth person relays between the person scrubbing dishes and the person manning the shower.
Four people are doing what one plumber could fix in an afternoon.
So when the plumber does arrive, and we all pray he will arrive soon, I'm going to pay my bill without blinking an eye.
Piping Hot Seafood Chowder
WHAT YOU NEED
5 cans of assorted shellfish like clams, shrimp, oysters, etc.
1/2 pound haddock, cubed
1/2 pound scallops
1 cup minced onion
1 cup diced celery
2 cups cubed potatoes
1 cup diced carrots
1 bottle of clam juice
3/4 cup butter
3/4 cup flour
1 quart half-and-half
2 tbs red wine vinegar
1 1 /2 teaspoons salt
ground black or white pepper to taste
WHAT YOU DO
1. Drain the juice from the canned shellfish into a large soup pan, along with the onions, celery, potatoes, carrots and clam juice. Add water to cover if necessary. Cook over medium heat until tender.
2. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the flour until it is smooth, then whisk in the cream. Heat on medium while stirring constantly. Once it is hot and smooth, pour it into the soup pan with the vegetables.
3. About ten minutes before serving, add the haddock. At five minutes to serving add the rest of the sea food.
4. Stir in the vinegar, salt and pepper and serve. Makes 8 servings.