Desserts · Humor

Things I learned while painting

Brush-Paint-Pantene-400x250Painting is like going to the bathroom.

No, it’s not a relief.  Far from it.  Painting echoes toileting inasmuch as the instant you are perched precariously on the ladder, hoping the paint doesn’t splatter on the floor below, the phone rings.  Of course as soon as you have descended, put the brush down somewhere other than on top of your pashmina and trotted to the phone, they have hung up.  That is if you’re lucky.

This being an election year, should you pick up, the possibility exists that a robotic voice you can totally trust, exhorts you to vote for this or that candidate, for or against a ballot measure or just reminds you that if you don’t share their opinion, you are pond scum. ……. Best to stay on the ladder.

Synchronized Swimming is good training for detail painting.

Synchro DuetThere is a reason you are told to hold your breath when you are having dental x-rays or mammograms or any number of medical procedures;  when you hold your breath you don’t move as much.

When cutting in corners or ceiling joins, holding your breath is almost as essential as keeping your mouth open while putting on mascara.  Me?  I was a synchronized swimmer, so I pride myself on full brush of paint (no, I don’t cheat with tape), deep breath and hold it.  A quarter of the wall.  Hold it.  Half the wall.  Hold it.  Three quarters of the waaaaaaaaaaaa.  Add white ceiling paint to the Home Depot shopping list.  A quart should suffice.

There will be spots

I had professional painters do a job for me not long ago.  They were speedy, accurate and … hold it – there are white spots showing through.  I did not pay for that!  The reality of painting is that even when you are ultra careful, there will be occasional spots that show through.  The best thing to do is not to get upset, but to make sure a brush and bucket are kept out for a couple of weeks after the project’s completion so you can touch up little spots.  You’ll find that areas where you were the most careful, instead of splobbing on paint, are the places where most of the white spots will be.  Examples would be edges of walls, ceilings and … oh dang, make that a half gallon of ceiling paint.

Brushes don’t have to be cleaned each time

If you get nothing else from this post, make sure you retain this.  When you are done for the day, take your brush or roller, wrap it securely in plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator.  The plastic and cold will keep the paint from setting up and tomorrow, when you’re ready to begin again, take the brush/roller out, add paint and keep going!  Your waste water system will thank you for all the latex you’re not pouring down it, your brush will thank you for leaving it in good shape and you, should you walk by the wall and see …. ARGH, a SPOT, can grab the brush out of the fridge, paint over the offending dot and get on with whiskey and soda. Or Kombucha.  Whatever makes you happiest.

It’s warmer at the top of the room

OK, I admit I already knew that, but every time I get go up the ladder, I am reminded of that particular principle of physics.  I don’t like ladders, so leave the top of the room till last, then sweat my way through all the delicate and high (vaulted ceilings) work.  As I am racing to finish before we have company this weekend, I think of how differently I might be feeling about this project if I had done it top down, as you are supposed to.  It’s a metaphor for life — get the tough things out of the way and the rest is refreshing bowl of ice cream on a hot summer’s day.

With that oh so subtle segue (pronounced segue, thank you #davebarry), I will exhort you to conclude your painting project with a summer treat.  Don’t make it in the winter because 1) the winter is cold and 2) the corn is marginal and expensive.  This is the dish you make when you buy some corn on the cob for dinner and exclaim how absolutely perfect it is.  You need to put down your fork, run back to the store and buy enough for this recipe.  Remember that the corn will degrade in quality the longer it sits, so you will need to eschew your whiskey and soda (or Kombucha) this evening.

Sweet Corn Ice Cream with Butterscotch

  • Difficulty: intermediate
  • Print

Adapted from Epicurious

For the butterscotch

  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon Scotch
  • 1 teaspoon Maldon or another flaky sea salt
  • 1/4 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup

For the ice cream

  • 3 medium ears corn, shucked
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided 
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • Caramel popcorn, for topping (optional)

Make the butterscotch

  1. Combine the cream, Scotch, and salt in a measuring cup with a spout. Use a knife to scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean into the cup and stir well.
  2. Combine the granulated sugar, butter, brown sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup of water in a medium saucepan with high sides. Set it over high heat and bring to a boil. Attach a candy thermometer to the pan and boil until the mixture reaches 245ºF. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually whisk in the cream mixture. Let the mixture cool to room temperature. You’ll have about 1 cup of butterscotch.
  3. Use straightaway or stir once more and keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. Gently reheat until warm before using.

Make the ice cream

  1. Cut the corn kernels from the cobs, reserving the cobs. Cut the cobs crosswise into a few pieces. Combine the kernels and cobs in a medium pot along with the cream, milk, salt, and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Bring the liquid to a simmer, stirring occasionally, over medium-high heat, then turn off the heat, cover the pot, and let the mixture steep at room temperature for at least 2 hours or in the fridge for as long as 12 hours. Remove the cobs, gently scraping them with a spoon to get at any liquid that may be hiding in them, and discard the cobs. Strain the remaining mixture through a sieve into a clean medium pot, stirring and pressing on the kernels to release as much corn flavor as possible. Discard the kernels.
  2. Bring the milk mixture to a simmer over medium heat and turn off the heat. Combine the egg yolks and the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar in a medium mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Slowly but steadily add about 3/4 cup of the milk mixture to the yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Then slowly but steadily add the yolk mixture to the pot, again whisking constantly. Cook over medium-low heat, whisking constantly and adjusting the heat if necessary to maintain a simmer, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes.
  3. Strain the mixture again through a sieve into a medium mixing bowl, pressing and then discarding the solids. Fill a larger bowl halfway with very icy water and nestle the medium bowl inside. Stir frequently until the mixture is cold. Cover the medium bowl and chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.
  4. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and freeze until firm. Serve straightaway or keep the ice cream in the freezer for up to 3 days.
  5. When you’re ready to eat, scoop the ice cream into bowls, drizzle on some butterscotch, and top with caramel popcorn.

It’s worth it

A coat of paint always makes everything fresh and new.  If you’re selling your house, it’s the best investment you can make for maximum return on your dollar.  It’s even worth it if you weren’t planning on painting the ceiling and now there are splatters of white in your hair.  Just remember, everything looks great and Miss Clairol covers white as well as gray.

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