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September 16, 2011     Post-Gazette
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September 16, 2011

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Page6 POST-GAZETTE, SEPTEMBER 16;20'11 Minestrone by Bennett Molinari About a week ago, we re- ceived a large basket of veg- etables. It was the second time this summer that friends brought us veg- etables from their garden. Included in the basket were zucchini, potatoes, summer squash, huge tomatoes, pep- pers, an assortment of fresh herbs; the list goes on. It was more than we could ever use. After sharing the pro- duce with a friend, we began picking at its contents. Not being very good cooks, it quickly became apparent that we could lose much of the vegetables to spoilage. Anxious not to waste the generous gift of our friend, the result of a summer of la- boring in her garden, we called in the help of a very good friend who just happens to be a wonderful cook. We telephoned Catherine, who lives in western Massachu- setts, explained our situa- tion and asked her advice. It came in a single word: minestrone. "Guys," she said, "what I do with surplus vegetables is turn them into a great vegetable soup: min- estrone." Not being in any way adept at cooking, Catherine might as well have asked us to do brain surgery. The thought of turn- ing that pile of vegetables into a soup, and an edible soup at that, seemed impos- sible. After giving her all the rea- sons why we could never do what she suggested, warn- ing her that we would prob- ably poison ourselves, Catherine asked us to get a pen and paper, and slowly she dictated her favorite recipe for minestrone, reas- suring us that anyone could make this soup, even those seriously cooking chal- lenged, namely us. She then asked us to phone her when the soup was completed and reassured us that we were up to the challenge. After finding the largest pan buried in a kitchen cabi- net and removing old cook books that were stored in it, we washed it thoroughly, and Richard Molinari placed it on the stove and began the process of con- structing our first min- estrone. Catherine gave her instructions in great detail. We heated olive oil, sauteed minced garlic and chopped onions, added water, cubed potatoes, diced celery and chopped kale and a variety of herbs, some fresh, some old and stale, turned on the heat and said a prayer. It was then that we ran into a major stumbling block. How long do we cook the brew that we had just put together? We tried to reach Catherine, but she had evi- dently stepped out. Figuring that it is better to overcook than undercook, we decided to go for an hour and hope for the best. At about 45 min- utes, we noticed that the level of soup had dropped sig- nificantly. So we added more water hoping that we did the right thing. It was then that Catherine telephoned. When we told her that we had been cooking the min- estrone for nearly an hour and added water to it to keep up the level, she immedi- ately shouted "turn off the heat." She then asked if we had covered the soup pan while the soup was cooking. We didn't. She responded with "stupido." So we re- moved the soup from the burner, covered the pot, even though that train had pulled out of the station an hour ago. Unbelievably, overcooked or not, the miriestrone smelled good, and when fi- nally we sat down to eat it, it actually tasted very good. We were certain, were she here, that Catherine would have found evidence of many things we did wrong in pre- paring the minestrone. We won't be inviting any friends over to try our cooking soon, but still, there is great sat- isfaction in knowing that the vegetables did not go to waste and that we were able to make something that not only looked like minestrone but actually tasted like it, more or less. f LUCIA RISTORANTE & BAR Traditional Italian Cuisine Donato Frattaroli 415 Hanover Street, Boston, MA 02113 617.367.2353 -- Open for Lunch and Dinner Daily -- Private dining rooms for any occasion RESIDENTS WHO HEAT WITH OIL Reminded That Homeowner Heating Safety Law Requirements Take Effect September 30, 2011 Oil Burner Must Have Safety Valve or Protective Sleeve to Prevent Spills The Massachusetts De- partment of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) re- minds homeowners who heat with oil of a new requirement under the Massachusetts Homeowner Heating Safety Law. The law mandates that all oil-burn- ing heating systems either have an oil-safety valve or a protective sleeve on the oil supply line if the oil supply line is in contact with con- crete, the earth, or other floor surfaces (see diagram). The measure also gives homeowners the ability to voluntarily purchase oil leak insurance coverage. The deadline for home- owners to bring their heating oil systems into compliance with the leak prevention requirements is September 30, 2011. "Taking a simple, preven- tive measure now will reduce the number of leaks and spills of home heating oil from residential heating systems, and result in fewer costly cleanups across the state," said MassDEP Com- missioner Kenneth Kim- mell. "It will also result in fewer releases that have the potential to impact homes and contaminate our soil and groundwater resources." The law applies to owners of 1-to 4-unit residences heated with oil. These resi- dences must already have or must install an oil safety valve or oil supply line with a protective sleeve for any oil supply line that is in con- tact with floor surfaces. The cost of the leak pre- vention upgrades generally range from $150 to $350 per system and must be installed by a licensed oil burner technician. Licensed technicians are employed by Above-Ground Home Heating Oil System Leak Prevention Upgrades home heating oil delivery companies, or companies that service oil heating sys- tems or are self-employed. Homes constructed since 1990 with oil burners are likely to already have one of the oil safety devices con- sistent with the fire safety code on new construction. Also, many older homes where the heating system has been substantially re- paired or upgraded, or where a new oil tank has been installed, may also already be in compliance. In addition to prevent- ing costly, environmentally- damaging oil spills, a key benefit of the Massachu- setts Homeowner Heating Safety Law -- passed by the legislature in 2008 and amended in 2010 -- re- quires insurance compa- nies that write homeowner insurance policies to make available to all homeowners in compliance with the safety provision, coverage for leaks from home oil heat- ing systems. There is no requirement for home-own- ers to buy the insurance, however homes with the proper leak-protection must be given the option to buy this insurance coverage. Preventable residential oil leaks occur each year in Massachusetts. In recent years the number of these leaks has been steadily declining, which may indi- cate the success of the oil safety valve or oil line protective sleeve installa- tions in preventing such leaks. For example, during a 12-month period of 2010- 2011, there were 145 such leaks compared to 183 dur- ing the same period in 2009- 2010. Home heating spills can disrupt the lives of resi- dents and in some cases neighboring property own- ers. In addition, the costs of cleaning up these spills can range from $15,000 to as high as $250,000 or more. For more information on the Homeowner Heating Safety Law, turn to: http:// cleanup / laws / hhs I. htm. The Massachusetts De- partment of Environmental Protection is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills, and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources. BBB Recommends Doing Your Research BEFORE Driving into an Auto Repair Scam What do you do when your windshield wipers stop working, your left taillight burns out and your brakes give out? Some may opt to fix the problem themselves, but many turn to the services and handiwork of auto re- pairmen. While most auto repairmen are honest and forthcoming, consumers need to be on the lookout for those that are trying to make a quick buck. Better Business Bureau is advising consumers to do their re- search before turning their car over to an auto repair service. u n l l m z iR IIll ,,'(|KilI||I .... m ,!r. . I I In Your Gold 1' I Honest & Trusted for 33 Years vv I [ "" When your vehicle needs repairs, you don't need a crash course in auto me- chanics, but you should know how to find a reliable shop and mechanic. It's important for consumers to be on the lookout for scares like overcharging on re- pairs, charging for labor that was never performed and performing shoddy work. In 2010, BBB received a whopping 12,682 com- plaints against auto repair mechanics. In this year alone, BBB has already received nearly 11,000 com- plaints. "Many times con- sumers realize that they have been scammed, but they don't have any way of proving it," said Paula Fleming, vice president of local. "It's extremely impor- tant to get all estimates for parts and labor in writ- ing first before authorizing anything." BBB recommends the fol- lowing tips to consider before turning over your car to an auto repair service: Get at least three refer- rals. If you are looking for a qualified mechanic, ask friends, family and co-work- ers for recommendations. Be sure to check the busi- ness with to see if there have been any com- plaints filed against the business. Look for shops that display certification. For major work, such as brakes, transmission or engine re- pair, you need to find a shop employing a specialist. Ask as many questions as you need. Don't be embar- rassed to request technical definitions. Don't rush the technician into making an on-the-spot diagnosis of the problem. Ask to be called and apprised of the problem, course of action, and cost of work before any work begins. Get everything in writing. Before authorizing repairs, get a written estimate for parts and labor. Tell the shop to get your permission be- fore making additional re- (Continued on Page 14)