Sunday, April 11, 2021

Taiyaki, Attempts 1 and 2

For Christmas, the elderchild gifted the youngerchild with a Taiyaki pan. Taiyaki are fish shaped cakes generally served as street food in Japan and other Asian countries. They are often filled with red bean paste but can also have Nutella, custard or other fillings. I remember finding some in Kyoto that had sweet potato filling. Those were pretty awesome. They're made a bit like waffles, with an iron pan.

Round one. 

Once we got the stove back, the youngerchild brought the pan down and left it in the kitchen, moving it from one prominent place to the other, "hoping" I would notice and get around to making them. Fine. I thawed some red bean paste and, using the recipe on the pan's box, made a batch for breakfast a few weeks ago. 

It was clear I was going to need more practice. The first batch were basically raw in the middle but the batter was at least runny enough to fill the molds. I had plenty of bean paste left over and figured I was going to need more practice so today I tried again. This time I used a more pancake-like batter that rose a lot in the pan, so I had more batter leaking out and making a mess. The end result, however, was more done in the middle and more like a stuffed pancake. They were pretty good. 

Now that I have the batter part worked out a little bit, I am thinking about fillings. I might try Nutella, or maybe chestnut puree. We had a different sweet in Kyoto that had chestnut paste and red bean paste together in a ball of rice and that was pretty amazing. Might be fun to try to recreate those flavors. 

Round two.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Spring Bee Update

Today I went out and fed the bees another quart of syrup. This is the fourth week in a row I've been doing that, and I think after this they'll be okay without it. It's warming up, they're bringing in lots of pollen and so many flowers are out right now. I have the flow hive in place and I am hoping they start to work on it. There were some bees in there today, but no evidence that they are laying down wax yet. 

From an overcast start it's turning into a lovely sunny day. I'm looking forward to a short hike later. 

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Establishing a New Rhythm

Much like moving into a new home, moving back into a kitchen feels strange. After all, everything is turned around compared to how it was before - the stove is on the opposite wall, the fridge in the opposite corner. The only constants are the sink/dishwasher and this computer. I've been trying to get settled, slowly moving my things into the cabinets, figuring out where they should go only after I try to look for them the first time. 

Perhaps, if I'd been cooking all winter, I would already know about The Great Canning Lid Shortage of 2021. No, I'm late to that party, but thankfully had some canning lids left over from my last big shipment over a year ago. I was out of chicken stock and needed to make some. 

This is where the new patterns come in to play. I have to start figuring out where everything can sit while I work, since my countertops are not generally where I expect them to be. It's weird. I did finally get seven pints of stock into the pressure canner and, despite the "TINK" I heard while it was going, none of them broke. 

The other thing this week was my husband's birthday cake. He wanted a chocolate cake like Worf got in the episode "Parallels" - super soft crumb and covered in spikes of chocolate. Apparently he and the youngerchild have been watching a lot of Next Generation while I've been at work. I made a cake using this recipe although, personally, the frosting was too rich. I think I'd try something different if I were to make it again. Then I melted dark chocolate, spread it on parchment, and broke it into shards for the spikes. 


Sunday, March 21, 2021

99.9%

Almost done. Really, about 99.9% done. The inspector signed off on it last Thursday.

All that is left is the bathroom threshold, the shower door, a ring to go around the radiator pipe (because basic chrome wouldn't do for the bathroom with the tin ceiling, so we found one to match) and we have to replace one of the shower heads because it leaks. Apparently it's a design flaw, hopefully the replacement doesn't also leak. 

But what that really means is that we're back in the kitchen. And starting to unpack. And definitely baking! Yesterday I started a batch of cinnamon rolls and froze half of them before they were proofed. They can be thawed and proofed when we're ready. The other half of the batch went in the fridge and slowly proofed overnight; this morning I took them out and let them finish proofing on the counter. Then we feasted on cinnamon rolls!

Also yesterday I started a batch of bread which I just baked and, in a little bit, I will be making a cake for my husband's birthday. He has a vision of what he wants and hopefully I can make it happen. I am, as usual, winging it. 

Speaking of wings, I fed the bees today, dug out the flow hive box and put it on the hive, and generally checked on things. They seem to be doing fine.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Yes, I Made a Pie for Pi Day

Two, in fact!

While I have not unpacked much, I have unpacked my rolling pin and silicone mat for rolling out pie crust. I worked all weekend but I couldn't let pi day go by without making a pie. So on Saturday morning before work I made a half-batch of pie crust and let it chill until yesterday morning when I could roll it out. I used my fluted clay pie plate for our pie and, in the absence of anything else the right size, found a metal cheese mold ring that I used to make a more free-form rustic pie which I dropped off at college for the elderchild before I went to work. The filling was the last three jars of apple pie filling in my inventory. 

I'm very rusty with the baking thing. Actually, I'm rusty with all cooking. I find myself trying to remember what I used to cook for dinner all the time. I guess it's time to unpack my cookbooks.

Friday, March 12, 2021

So Many Updates

The renovation is almost done. YAY! It's been such a long time. 

We are starting to move back into the kitchen, and have a little more cleaning to do before I can fully move everything in but I'm getting everything sorted and even made my first batch of bread in the new kitchen. It just came out of the oven about an hour ago. Everything smells so good!

There are things that are yet to arrive but they are not critical to functionality: the shower door, the light for the kitchen sink, more shelf liner, and so on.

In other news, I made some syrup for the bees who seem to have made it through the winter and observed them to be bringing in pollen already. Where they are finding it, I have no idea, but they seem to be doing what they are supposed to. I'll keep feeding them for a bit longer and then once it's consistently warm and there are flowers, I'll stop. I'll also get the flow hive box on top around the same time. I also got to use my new bee helmet and it's such an improvement on my old one, I'm no longer looking through mesh but a clear panel and it feels more secure. 

Monday, February 22, 2021

I Have an Oven, and It Works

For as long as it's been since my last post, one would think we'd have completed our reconstruction by now. HAH.

Regardless, when we left off, they were about to install the toilet and sink in the powder room. That room is now functional, and it even has electricity (we had a lantern in there for a while), and it's almost done. The upstairs bathroom is mostly tiled, not painted, has a functional sink but no toilet and the shower isn't fully installed. Forget about the shower door, they just measured for that last week. At least the radiant flooring works, but we have to get an account set up to control it. 

Most exciting, of course, is the kitchen. The electric wall oven does work, and over the weekend I cooked our first meal in it! Baked chicken, sweet potatoes, and crescent rolls. It was nice to have a meal that wasn't a stew, take-out, or on the grill. Since I don't have a kitchen sink or dishwasher yet I have to be very liberal with the aluminum foil but it meant less washing and that's okay. The tile backsplash is >50% done and the gas stove and the other appliances have yet to be installed. But, the cabinets are basically done, too. Progress!


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!