Sunday, January 10, 2021

Best Instant Pot Meal Yet

Last night, I cooked a bunch of mussels in the instant pot, in a broth of ducken stock, shallots, garlic and lemon juice. It is, by far the best meal I've made in the instant pot so far. Served with a ciabatta bread to soak up the liquid, it was a nice change from all the take out. 

Not surprisingly, the youngerchild wasn't interested and got some precooked chicken from Whole Foods instead. 

The painters have started, and the walls on the first floor are primed. Hopefully this week we can at least finish the staining and painting of the powder room which is the last step before the fixtures get installed. It'd be good to have a second toilet in the house. Even better if it works, too. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Occasionally, There is Good News

All our Covid tests were negative, including the contractors and the tiler. We started work back up 2 days ago. This is good news.

We are waiting on the countertops now, as a lot of other things depend upon them. No word on when those will be available. However, the granite shelves for the shower arrived and have been tiled into place. They look amazing. The tiler is doing a terrific job. 

While were were in quarantine, I used a particle board sheet propped on the kitchen counters to do a puzzle I'd gotten for Christmas. It was a good place for it, out of the way and with reasonable light. And I got to soak in the ambience of the kitchen. I can't wait for it all to be completed, it's going to be amazing!


Friday, December 25, 2020

Two Steps Forward...

Spice rack built into the cabinet over the stove
One step back?

The kitchen has most of its cabinets, but one has to be rebuilt (the fake cabinet that goes around the pipe chase is not the right size). The rest are installed and look terrific. The countertops have been templated. The powder room has most of its trim done but has a little more to go and then the trim can be stained and then the walls painted and then the fixtures can be installed. Those fixtures are in, including the vanity, and hopefully the toilet will fit in the space allotted. We think it will.

Microwave dented on top...
Two days ago, the appliances were delivered. The delivery guys left before inspecting everything and we immediately found the microwave was dented and the range hood had a big scratch. Both seem to have happened before they were even packed into boxes. However, I had to call the company and immediately request they send us new ones; who knows how long that will take. 

The other bummer is that the electrician who came to the house that day to hardwire the wall oven into place tested positive for COVID the next day. So we were exposed, although I think the risk is low because he wore his mask the whole time and so did we, and the kids weren't really around him. We're now quarantined at home, awaiting our COVID tests. The contractor, his assistant, and the tiler all need to quarantine as well, and get tested, and then I'll discuss when they can return to the house. 

Shower tile was moving along, waiting for the shelves for the niche

Construction, therefore, is on hold indefinitely. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Progress and Frustration

We have walls. And a floor

The radiant flooring will be installed in the master bathroom soon. We identified that we needed a few extra pieces of tile for the shower and I was able to order them. Our contractor is really happy with how the plaster was applied as it dried perfectly. These are the signs of progress.

The frustration is that the cabinets aren't ready; we were promised 8-10 weeks, this is week 10 since I signed the work order. Apparently an integral worker on the cabinets is currently quarantined. I guess this is what happens in a pandemic. It does mean we had to delay the appliance delivery by an additional three weeks. I have been informed that it is unlikely I will have a functional kitchen by Christmas. We're trying to remain calm.

In other news, last week I made fondant for the bees and put the sheet of fondant between the top of the bars and the inner lid. Hopefully that, plus their own honey stores and the insulation I applied, will help them stay alive and healthy through the winter. 

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. It's weird to not be making any pies. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Oven Opportunity

Last weekend we had to vacate the house for two days while the spray foam insulation was applied. Apparently we weren't supposed to be around the fumes while the chemical "cured." So we moved into my parents' nearby apartment which was currently empty, smuggling the rabbit and his cage in late at night in case we weren't supposed to have him there. This is the place where I've been storing a lot of my things and where I have been baking bread every week. Key words: FUNCTIONAL KITCHEN.

The first night we were there I baked cornflake chicken and squash halves in the oven. I made a batch of cookies. It was lovely. The next day I made a double batch of cornbread and baked it in little loaf tins so we could freeze some. We had two of the loaves tonight with a taco casserole I made in the instant pot. For dinner, the youngerchild asked for something unexpected - chicken pot pie! I didn't know the youngerchild liked that. I figured out a way I could make it with what I had available to me.

At the store, I bought a rotisserie chicken and some chicken gravy. I had sweet potatoes and a small onion from the farm share which I cooked in a sauté pan until soft. I made half a batch of pie crust. We've been watching a lot of Great British Bake Off and everyone wanted me to make a "suet crust" but I only had butter so I guess it was a disappointment. Not really. Butter crusts are awesome.

I divided the crust into three portions, rolled them out and put them in more of those little aluminum loaf pans, then put a layer of shredded chicken, 1/3 of the sweet potato mixture, and 4 T. of chicken gravy in each one. I then folded over the flap of crust that was hanging off the side of the tin. These were baked for 25 minutes at 425˚F and then 20 minutes at 400˚F until the gravy was bubbling at the top. They were the perfect size and tasted pretty good. They maybe could have used more gravy poured over for serving but I wouldn't add any more to the pie itself because that might be too much moisture.

And look! No soggy bottom!


Monday, November 9, 2020

Bee Happy

At least, I think they are? They did okay during that cold snap and today it is 70˚ and they are very active. There is honey in almost all the frames of the second brood box. I didn't dig through very much because I don't want to disturb them as much as possible. Since the hive is now coated in styrofoam panels it would be exceptionally hard for me to take the box off and look at the lower brood box. 

What they are doing is breaking through the styrofoam I put between the inner and outer lids. I am not sure why they would do that. I suppose I can remove it but I am hoping it can continue to provide some insulation. There is a fine white powder that looks like ash in front of their entrance, after a beat or two I realized it was styrofoam dust. 

One thing I will need to do in the next few weeks is make a fondant sheet to put across the top of the upper brood box to give them a little more food for the winter. Just in case. 

As far as the home construction goes, the valve for the shower was installed so now the hot water is hot and the cold is cold; prior to that the water was mixing at that point and everything was basically the same temperature which made showers...interesting... The electricians are still working and tomorrow the AC vents will be moved. We hope to do the spray insulation this Friday. The tile is all here and accounted for and waiting in the garage for their step in the process. 

Friday, November 6, 2020

Potato Leek Explosion

Since we're obvious not cooking a lot right now, the potatoes, squash, and other fall vegetables from the farm share are patiently waiting to be consumed. I have been trying to figure out how to manage this and decided to see if I could make potato leek soup in an instant pot. Turns out, it is not hard.

I chopped up my 3 large leeks and sautéed them in the pot with butter and oil. I added 2 cloves of garlic and then some flour. Once this was all cooked, I added 2 pints of stock (I had Ducken on hand) plus a cup of water, salt, pepper, and about a pound of potatoes. This was pressure cooked for 7 minutes and then naturally vented for 10 minutes. After that, I put some in my blender (one of the few things I didn't pack up and put away) and tried to blend it. 

Hot liquids always take me by surprise, I guess. That's the only explanation. I was holding down the lid but I guess the pressure from the steam was stronger, and of course it went everywhere. Thick, viscous potato leek soup. I was reminded why I have an immersion blender. I don't exactly know where it is at the moment. It could be in the foyer. Or the guest bedroom. Maybe the living room? My stuff is spread out all over the place; some of it is even at a different house right now. Finding anything that I didn't see in the last 5 minutes is basically impossible. 

Now the "kitchen" in my dining room is cleaned up and the I'm pleased to say the soup was excellent.