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.