Saturday, April 20, 2013

To seep or steep...?

I had started a while ago celebrating "things" around the house in an effort to enrich the daily slog. I  decided that I didn't have to actually go out and "buy" something to give me a lift. I could just try to lift up something that I already had, thereby making my life a little "grander"  :)  My first post was on my garlic keeper, which happens to be bilingual, but that's an aside. Today's post is on sieves!!

Now, I have always liked sieves. My mother never owned one - she had this idea that they were superfluous - why can't you just drain things by moving the lid of a pot a little to the side and letting the water out, while holding back the food. Yes, you can, but you can also get scalded, especially with a cauldron of pasta.

Possibly, as a reaction to my mother's way of doing things, or not as the case may be, I happen to own several sieves and I find each one of them fascinating - really. However, I usually don't use this line as a conversation starter at cocktail parties. No, I reserve it for blog posts on creatively "dry" days.

Still Life with Sieves

First, I have a small sieve that fits over a cup. I fill the sieve with tea leaves and pour boiling water through it to make tea.  You can actually move the sieve along and make several cups of tea this way, yes it drips, but that's the nature of sieves. I actually learned this trick when I lived in the British tea capital of the world - London, where I "flatted" for a few years, many years ago, with four English girls. One of my flatmates, Tinks, was actually a descendant of  the "owners" of the East India Tea Company.  I have the sieve technique from a good source and incidentally I still keep in touch with Tinks, who is also in touch with Teresa, another flatmate. We will get together again for a cuppa.

My second sieve is a slightly larger version which I use for rinsing fruit, lentils or draining poached "things" like salmon.  This one has a fine mesh, which is ideal for washing away chemicals, froth, grit, etc. without losing the food it's meant to drain. With a lot of imagination this sieve can be re-purposed as a fencing mask, but only on those days, when you are totally cabin fevered because it is snowing in late April, like today. Now, I will have to go and find those "foils." This could be fun.  :)

It's my large plastic sieve that gives me some grief.  The holes are a little larger and I think that some small grains like rice or couscous may slip away through them and I hate waste.  But I also use it to drain Aubergine and other foods that need to just sit and seep.  Then I think of a sieve as draining away the "life blood" of whatever is in it.  OK, I maybe shouldn't be that sensitive about Eggplant or cheese curd or all the other items that you place in a sieve for the purpose of extracting their liquid.

But I can't help thinking of all the times that we give of our own "life blood." Maybe it's to blood banks or the lab for a blood test. The metaphor, "sweating blood," comes to mind for when we have really struggled and feel completely drained.

Now, if I really want to turn up the angst, I can relate all this draining, to life just slipping away. No, I need to pull back from the brink and think of the positives, after all for the moment the snow has stopped!! I need to think of sieves as a way of getting rid of what's not needed and keeping only that which is rich and nourishing. The essence of the healing tisane or the comfort of cooked pasta - a sieve can do so much!!

Have an enriched day!!


  1. Loved the post!

    One thing I've done is add cheesecloth to the larger strainer. That way you can use it for large amounts of rice and so on. I also use that technique when making cheese, incidentally.

  2. I have several of several sizes and use them for various things. Last night I took my cooked meatloaf out of the loaf pan and let the excess fat drain off through one. I used to have one just for the fish tank when we had an aquarium to rinse the gravel from time to time. Countless uses....