Adventures in Canning

Kid Flash's sister in law gave me a TON of green tomatoes when we were visiting last weekend. I spent my first few days back in the city on a massive quest for Mason jars (detailed here). I mean really... Mason jars? How hard can it be? In the end I ended up with "designer" jars from The Container Store that cost me for 4 what I would have paid for a dozen in the south. A small price to pay for green tomatoes in the heart of winter though.

A few of them had begun to ripen, so I decided to set those aside and let them continue that process. I'll be eating them in sandwiches for the rest of the week I'm sure. I'm using a simple water bath method, not a pressure cooking method so it is pretty simple, and doesn't require any special equipment. BFE Michelle gave me some green tomatoes that she had packed in this same method last year and they fried up deliciously.

I ended up with FOUR quarts!! One of these jars will be more than enough for a meal. I'm thinking Thanksgiving? Frankly I'm not sure they'll last that long.

Unfortunately all four quarts wouldn't fit in the pot, but there's no problem with processing them in batches I guess.

Aren't they pretty? When I was growing up my great-aunt Annie had a long trestle table in her kitchen that seated what seemed like 15 or 20 people. The whole long wall that ran behind that table was floor to ceiling shelves that were filled with Mason jars bearing a bounty of jams, pickles, preserves, sauces, soups, and vegetables. I will forever associate that sight with a well stocked kitchen. The colors and textures of all those jars was always a beautiful thing to behold. My four little jars don't compare, I know, but this is the first time I've attempted something like this and I'm still pretty proud of myself.

P.S. I just heard the first 'plink' from the kitchen as the jars cooled and the seals popped into place, followed in rapid succession by two more! My jars are all sealed and happy.

An Electrical Update

Wednesday morning I met ConEd and the building electrician on my stoop on my way to work. I asked what they were there to do and the electrician, in very poor English, explained that he was there to cut my power. The ConEd guy realized what was being said and pointed out that it would be illegal for them to cut power if I still lived there, which I assured him I did. Several more phone calls between the management office and ConEd ensued trying to locate a ConEd operator that could explain to the Spanish speaking electrician what was happening, etc. At 10:30, an hour and a half late for work we seemed to have it resolved, so I left.

I told my office manager the story and she suggested that I go home early to check on things before management closed at 5. So I arrived home at 4:10 to find the electrician gone... and my power out. I called management who acted shocked that this had happened and they rerouted the electrician. By 6:30 I had power again but management said that the problem seems to go back to the original wiring in the building (It had been gut renovated just before I moved in and supposedly had all new wiring.) and that another electrician would need to come by and would need access to my apartment. So, I've been leaving my key with my super every morning as I go to work, but no other electrician has shown up yet. Not surprising really considering the state that the original contractors left the place in before I moved in anyway. I was given wonderful gifts like a whole room where the basebaords were leaned against the walls, but not actually nailed into place, and 4 different outlets that had no face plates and weren't attached to the wall at, just hanging by their wiring.

Regardless, things seem to be resolved... sort of. I am awaiting my rent bill next month to see what surprises that may hold.

My Electric Day

First some background info... about three weeks ago one of my roommates moved out. Electricity had been in his name, and he canceled service before I could put it in mine, so for about two weeks the electricity in my apartment was not actually registered to anyone. I got a note from the landlord saying there was a problem with my electricity, and I figured that it was in reference to this so I called and left a voicemail. When I didn't hear anything back I figured it was all taken care of.

Until yesterday.

8:30 am: I discover a new note on my door as I am leaving. It is marked "Emergency."
8:35 am: I call my management office and leave a voicemail.
10:00am: having not heard from them I call again. I am told that my apartment is "drawing electricity from the hall" and that they plan to disconnect my apartment from electric entirely until I resolve the problem. They suggest I call ConEd to see if I can get it resolved.
10:20am: I call ConED. They say that, yes my apartment is getting electricty from the building's supply, but that it is a wiring problem and that I should tell management that it is their problem to fix, not mine.
10:40: I call management and am put on hold for about 20 minutes before I get disconnected.
11:00: I call management again and am put on hold for about 20 minutes before I get disconnected.
11:20: I call management and speak to someone for about 10 minutes, relaying what ConEd has said. They reply that this is not the information they received. They were told that the wiring had been altered so that my apartment bypassed my electric meter and went to theirs. Angrily I ask if they are accusing me of stealing electricity. They hem and haw a bit but never actually reply no to that question. I discover in the midst of this that I have been speaking to a receptionist the whole time and never actually to one of the managers. I ask to speak to a manager but I'm told that I can't. She's "busy." I demand to speak to a manager. I am put on hold for about 15 minutes and then disconnected.
12:20: I opt to call ConEd rather than management. ConEd explains that my meter malfunctioned about a year ago and has not been reporting any usage since August of '06. I reply that I have been receiving a bill of approximately $30 each month, but the operator laughs and says that taxes and fees run that much and that I have not actually been paying for my electricity. Since my submeter failed all my usage has been defaulted to the building's main meter. It happened at roughly the same time that Brett assumed the bill so he never noticed the drop in rates, not having a previous experience to compare it to. Mark and I didn't see the bills, we just trusted that they were being paid, as was the deal. Again ConEd emphasizes that this is a wiring problem, not a billing problem. As far as they are concerned I am square. I paid my bill, in the amount that arrived at my door, on time every month. I had no way of knowing anything was wrong. According to them the meter needed to be reset and possibly rewired and the problem would be solved.
1:00: I call management and am put on hold for about 20 minutes before I get disconnected.
1:20: I call management and finally get to speak to an actual manager. She VERY rudely explains to me that three apartments in my building have been stealing electricity from the building supply, and that in fact one of the apartments doesn't even have an account registered to it with ConEd at all. I politely explain that I don't care about any other apartments, that I don't know anyone else in the building, and that I only want to discuss me, and my apartment. I go on to explain, in detail, what ConEd had explained to me. She again says that that is not what the ConEd inspectors had told them. I suggest that she look at the report again, as the ConEd operator had read me part of the inspection report and it didn't mention anything being rerouted or rewired, merely that my meter had failed. I also pointed out to her that it was illegal for her to disconnect me from electricity because according to ConEd I had both an account, and a meter assigned to me which was all I needed to be in good stead with them. Management retorted that "someone" had to pay for the electricity. I said I would look at any itemized bill that they sent me from ConEd, but that I was not willing to pay just any random figure that they came up with. Unhappy with assessment but knowing she was beaten the manager gave up. I got her to say out loud that the electricians would be visiting my apartment, and that I would in no way be disconnected from electricity for more than a few hours. I left it at that, about 2:00pm.

We'll see what happens next.

12 of 12: August

Time once again for the 12 of 12, 12 photos to document my day on the 12th. This is based on an idea by Chad Darnell, and you can see other entries here.

I stayed at Kid Flash's place last night, so getting ready to get dressed is relegated to this pile of clothes. He hasn't given me a drawer yet... choices, choices.

He decided early on that he needed to help me a bit with the project this month so you are treated to this haggard portrait. Aren't I lovely in the morning?

Another Kid Flash special, wrestling me to the bed for another portrait.

Neither of us really had an agenda for the day so we decided to go to the movies. Here is a our breakfast of bagels and juice on the subway platform.

In the movie theatre. I think that's Prince in a pre-movie commercial. We saw Stardust, a great movie that has been horribly mis-marketed. This movie should appeal to any Harry Potter or Princess Bride fan, but you'd never know it from the trailers. The round up of British character actors that filled out the cast were amazing, including Mark Williams (Arthur Weasley from the potter films) and Ricky Gervais (from the British version of The Office). See it if you haven't it is doing poorly at the box office, but it should be doing better. The worst performance in the movie... Robert Deniro. Closely followed by Claire Daines' eyebrows, which were only present for half the movie.

This month's ubiquitous subway shot, on the way home from the movie.

Home again for a few hours work before dinner.

My friend Jim invited us over to see his new apartment, which is just a few blocks from mine but a world away. We stopped by a local taco place for dinner...

And then went to his roof to eat. The building apparently was purchased by a group of artists in the 80's when it was nothing more than a stripped out crack den. They've done an amazing renovation that features lots of exposed brick work accented by silver steel diamond plate around all the doors, stairways and and hallway areas. There is also a great roof deck with several separate seating areas and lots of sculpture and installation art.

Jim and Wendy enjoy tacos on the roof.

After dinner KF and I went back to his place. This cute doggy was out front.

A little pre-bed snack before lights out! Hope you had a great 12th.

Rain Rain Go Away

If you've been anywhere near a TV today you probably know that NYC went through its own little piece of hell this morning. A thunderstorm that dumped 3 inches of rain in less than 15 minutes. A tornado. Every single subway line shut down. Nearly every bridge or tunnel into or out Manhattan either shut down or jammed with traffic that it may as well have been closed. One of the big buzzwords after the bridge collapse last week is "aging infrastructure" and NYC's aging infrastructure failed a test this morning. I spent 2:30 hours on the Grand Central Parkway trying to get from my place to La Guardia, a trip that usually takes 20 minutes. That picture should explain why. Under that water is 5 lanes of highway that no one was willing to cross. (That car is stalled, and it doesn't really show in the pic but it isn't even pointing the proper direction.) It really was like suddenly being dropped into a third world nation.