Yay!

The garage roof is on! All the metal sheets are installed, Attila did it all last night.

When Attila came home from work yesterday we had a little chat. I relayed to him how important it was to me to get the last metal panels on the roof, for my peace of mind. I’ve made only comments of encouragement up until this point, but I realized that if installing those last panels was not made a priority, I would not be a happy camper. Better to say something, I reckoned.

As a result of our not altogether relaxed conversation, Attila tackled the last panels last night, after he ate his dinner. He feels a lot of pressure when I insist on something being done the way I think it should be done, when he is doing the labour, in this case I was insisting that, before anything else, the last metal panels had to go onto the roof. He enjoys a project less when he has to accommodate another viewpoint, but he did agree with the logic of it, and proceeded accordingly.

Attila finished installing the last panels before darkness fell last night. There are still tasks involved to finish the metal panel installation, but the panels are where they need to be, ready to do the job they need to do.

This morning I arose at 5:00 a.m. I could hear distant thunder. Sitting with my morning coffee, I watched the lightning and marvelled at the rain. For half an hour you could find me stationed at the dining room window, gazing out at the metal roof, watching the rain run down and away in little rivers. Later you could find me standing dry and comfortable, in the garage itself, listening to rain pounding on the metal roof. I felt vindicated in pushing for finishing off the metal roof panel installation last night!

It had been my plan to work on cleaning the garage in the early morning, before the heat of the day set in. The humidity was so high, that I decided that bending down to the floor to vacuum, while reaching over to the shop vac to hold fast the hose where it attaches, was overly ambitious. A new shop vac hose was in order, I decided. By the time the store opened, Canadian Tire, and the new shop vac hose was home and tested, the heat in the garage was stifling. I missed my window of opportunity for cleaning today, but early tomorrow morning I’ll be ready to get back to it for a few hours!

I did though, manage to wash a load of laundry, and hang it out to dry under the back porch. In this humidity, it didn’t dry very fast, but eventually it did dry.

Today Attila was working on the area of the roof that abuts the garden shed. This small section is complicated, as he must custom fit the roofing materials for this small area. After completing the lower section there, he moved to the front of the garage, where the wall above the doors needs to be rebuilt. Attila’s peace of mind will begin when this has been completed, since it is visible to the street. When the wall has been rebuilt and painted, then, Attila says, he will take a morning off, and we will go for a walk.

The Instant Pot is going to cook dinner on the back porch this evening, Sweet & Sour Meatballs With Rice and Mixed Vegetables. The Instant Pot won’t have to work very hard to be hot enough to cook dinner, on the porch in the heat of the early evening.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

Heat Warning
29°C
Date: 2:00 PM EDT Saturday 30 June 2018
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.5 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 29.0°C
Dew point: 23.2°C
Humidity: 71%
Wind: WSW 18 km/h
Humidex: 39
Visibility: 19 km

Quote

“We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality.”
Albert Einstein
1879 – 1955

Cleanup Begins

The new metal roof, at least the part that has been installed!

I like to create my own recipes. Usually, almost always, the results are pleasing. But, when I try a new technique, or appliance, there is a learning curve.

It took a six week course, and six weeks of reading, and making notes, before I was ready to try the Pressure Canner. The first time I used it, it was nerve wracking, but I soon became comfortable with it. This was one appliance that I did not experiment with, food preservation is very different than food preparation, the food safety rules are completely different, and food preservation demands respect. I stuck with the tried-and-true tested recipes; no YouTube learning on this one, I stuck to the university extension services for advice.

Food preparation is a lot more forgiving than food preservation. Experimentation is rarely dangerous, if basic safety precautions are practised, and you don’t use poisonous ingredients, but it is sometimes distasteful, even inedible.

I have been having fun experimenting with the Instant Pot. I mainly rely on the basics outlined in the cookbook that came with the appliance. However, the cookbook does not go into much detail, just lists ingredients, and time needed to cook them. I’ve been enjoying looking at recipes and information on social media. Social media though, is “street learning”, it isn’t comprehensive, nor is it accountable for the accuracy or thoroughness of the information it provides. Social media is the playground of the self-defined expert, where presentation is more important than content. Most of what we see on social media is aimed at some kind of profit seeking, branding, or attention seeking. Always interesting, sometimes reliable, viewer/reader beware. I love perusing social media for recipes, but I have to remember where I am!

Yesterday evening, while trying to pressure cook the second batch of Beef Stew, I ran into trouble, the pressure valve did not pop up. The Instant Pot counted down on the timer as expected, but there was no pressure. The potatoes did not cook as expected. Something new to learn! Attila says the stew is fine as it is. I am tempted though, to put it into bowls, place a cup of water in the Instant Pot pot, then the trivet, then the bowl of stew, and pressure cook it again for ten minutes.

Winging it requires a thorough understanding of how the Instant Pot works, my understanding is increasing through trial and error. I believe the issue is that the stew was too thick, so that when it began to cook some of it stuck to the bottom of the pan, and this prevented steam from developing to allow for pressure cooking. The pressure valve did not pop up, pressure cooking did not take place. The stew was thick due to the flour that the meat had been dredged in before browning it with the sauté function, and the addition of Blue Hubbard Squash puree. I won’t dredge the stewing beef next time, and will ensure that there is enough “free” liquid to create the steam needed for pressure cooking.

My other discovery, through reading, is that milk products, when heated, will form a film over the bottom of the pot, preventing adequate steam from forming. I knew about the film, but had not known about how it would affect steam in the Instant pot. This is not desirable, no steam, no pressure cooking, and burnt food on the bottom of the pot. This is why the Rice Pudding recipes call for stirring in the milk and egg after pressure cooking; and why Bread Pudding, containing milk and eggs, is steamed in a bowl in the Instant Pot, which is placed on a trivet above water in the bottom of the pot.

When I was trouble shooting the Stew, I discovered how to remove the Anti Lock Shield, and the Float Valve, to clean them. They will be checked before each use.

The humidity arrived yesterday. The heat will arrive today. In honour of the current conditions, my curtains remain drawn against the heat of the sun. Early in the afternoon, the Cabana Curtains will be drawn across the back porch. And the air source heat pump will keep the house at a steady temperature of 22.5C, with reasonable humidity.

My hope, that Attila would complete the metal roofing last night, was overly optimistic. He installed two panels, one of which had to be cut lengthwise, which turned out to be a bit time consuming. There are five more panels to go, and I am optimistic that these will be installed before the end of the weekend.

The panels that were installed are underneath the dining area windows. The light reflects off the metal roof, onto the underside of the awning outside the window, also light in colour, and brings a lovely diffused light into the windows. The kitchen is very much brighter thanks to this new metal roof!

Since rain is not in the forecast, and the installation of the remaining metal roof panels is imminent, today the garage cleanup will begin. First, all the tarps were dragged out to the driveway and sun dried, both sides, to kill off any mould/mildew spores. Then they were all carefully folded for storage, hopefully never to be needed again in the interior of the garage, or any other building I ever have to go into! By the time this task was complete, I was overheating, so I took a long break indoors, in the air conditioning. I stripped to my underwear at the door, not wanting to bring the filthy clothes into the house, and was so refreshed that I decided not to bother getting dressed until I was ready to put the filthy work clothes on and head back out to the garage.

Returning to the garage, this time with a breathing mask, I soon discovered that my glasses almost instantly fogged up so that I could not see. Off came the glasses. When I started vacuuming the floor in the garage, the shop vac was easy to move around. By the time I decided to stop, having covered about 1/10th of the floor area, the shop vac was very heavy to lift. It will need to be dumped before continuing.

The shop vac is very old, about 20 years old if I remember correctly. The hose does not seat into the unit properly, so that the hose is always falling off the shop vac, unless I stand close to it and hold the end of the hose in with my hand. The other end is also broken, but not repaired, so it no longer accepts attachments. Using the shop vac involves bending down to direct the wobbly end of the hose where it needs to go. Other than the hose situation, the old shop vac works well. Too bad it is such a misery to work with. It was a model sold by Sears, it lasted longer than they did.

I worked in the garage until I was so dripping with sweat that I could no longer see, and my clothes were sticking to me. Enough! I came indoors, took off the filthy clothes by the door, and headed for the shower. Ahhhh! That’s better.

At least the clean up has started, that is something. The garage looks a lot roomier with all those tarps folded and sitting in one big pile, and it looks a wee bit cleaner.

Aarrg! The pepper mill just bit the dust, right in the middle of making a sandwich. It was a very inexpensive pepper mill, $5.00, very cheaply made, had it for years. Efforts to repair it were a waste of time.

I ordered a new one from Amazon, highly rated, Peugeot U Select from France, it has a lifetime warranty. At my age the company may just last as long as I do, making the warranty a relevant offer, from my point of view. I would peruse charity shops for a pepper mill, but the fuel to get there and back is $20, there is no economy in the exercise. I checked Kijiji, and the same pepper mill I just purchased was $40 used, plus shipping. I paid $38 for it, new (on sale), with free delivery courtesy of Amazon Plus.

I did find Canadian made pepper mills, loved them, but at $190 +- they are beautiful, and clearly beyond our means. Buying local is a lovely concept, but often local items are artisanal, and priced accordingly.

The old one won’t end up in a landfill, the wood will be burned in the camp fire at the Rideau Camp, and the metal parts will go into recycling.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

20°C
Date: 8:00 AM EDT Friday 29 June 2018
Condition: Mainly Sunny
Pressure: 101.3 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 20.4°C
Dew point: 16.9°C
Humidity: 80%
Wind: WNW 9 km/h
Humidex: 26
Visibility: 24 km
Mainly sunny. High 29 except 25 near Lake Ontario. Humidex 35. UV index 8 or very high.

Quote

“Goodness is the only investment that never fails.”
Henry David Thoreau
1817 – 1862

Slowly

Attila took a log nap when he got home from work yesterday, 40 minutes. I had thawed some stewing beef, organic grass fed beef purchased many years ago when we lived at the Country House, before we bought Mist Cottage. It turned into a lovely stew in the Instant Pot, and was ready when Attila got up from his nap. After eating, he changed into his work clothes, and out he went to work on the garage roof.

Yesterday it rained hard, for a quite a long time. In the morning I had ventured into the garage and placed tarps over all the water vulnerable items. Attila felt the unfinished roof might leak where the nails held down the waterproof sheeting. At noon, during his lunch break, Attila called to see how the garage roof was holding up. The tarps were dry, dry, dry. It put his mind at rest, and mine. No extra clean up needed!

Last night’s efforts on the roof saw the metal trim installed, and two of the nine metal panels installed. The trim and the panels look beautiful! It is very pleasing that the colour we chose is so very close to the colour of the trim on the house, which we did not realize until the metal panels were in place. Bonus.

Two metal roof panels installed.

Two metal roof panels installed.

Attila is beginning to grow weary. This morning his alarm went off for twenty minutes, wakening me from time to time, until I finally realized he wasn’t getting up to turn it off. When I woke him up he was in a deep sleep. I am so glad that the roof panels are finally going on, which I hope he finishes tonight. Once the roof panels are on, the roof will be reliably waterproof, and the rest of the project can proceed at a slower pace. It might be time then, for Attila to take a few days off the project!

The Instant Pot cooked my breakfast yesterday, a Bread Pudding. Another Bread Pudding was pressure cooked this morning. This time I used very low-sodium homemade bread and added diced apple. The apple added so much volume that my appetite was fully sated by eating just half of the pudding. The other half is safely stashed away in the refrigerator, a quick breakfast for tomorrow morning.

Bread Pudding in the Instant Pot!

Bread Pudding in the Instant Pot!

When I made the Beef Stew in the Instant Pot last night, I sautéed half of the stewing beef, removed it from the pot, and refrigerated it for tonight’s dinner. The Beef Stew was such a big hit with Attila that I will make another one tonight. I don’t care much for beef, although I can enjoy a bit of hamburger from time to time, if it is well browned. Attila likes beef, sometimes he craves it, so I try to take as little of it in my portion of the stew as possible, since I don’t enjoy it, and leave the rest to Attila.

Apparently a heat wave, high heat and high humidity, is fast approaching. I hope Attila gets all of the metal roof panels installed tonight, so that he won’t be on the roof in the extreme heat. There is still a lot of work to be done on the walls, installing the window, the cleanup, and then organization, all of which can be done in a leisurely fashion, slowly, in the shade. It is a long weekend, Monday is a statutory holiday. It would be ideal if Attila allows himself to slow down once the roof panels are safely secured into place.

The faux Cabana Curtains I created out of old white flat sheets are working very well. The afternoon sun no longer turns the back porch into an oven. With the Cabana Curtains drawn, the back porch remains at ambient temperature. The back porch will be hot during the heat wave, but no more so than sitting in the shade under a tree.

When it started to rain yesterday, I ran out into the yard and removed the cover on the rain barrel under the drip line of the back porch. This is kept covered during fair weather, to prevent mosquito reproduction, and to prevent loss due to evaporation. Much water will be needed to water the gardens during the heat wave, and now the rain barrels are full and ready for action. So far this season, intermittent rain has minimized the need to water the gardens. Even so, the rain barrels have been emptied several times, only to be refilled by the heavens.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

22°C
Date: 1:00 PM EDT Thursday 28 June 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 100.8 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: 22.4°C
Dew point: 20.2°C
Humidity: 87%
Wind: SSW 10 km/h
Humidex: 30
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“The best time to plant an oak tree was twenty-five years ago. The second best time is today.”
James Carville
1944 –

Craving!

I have been craving something sweet. What caught my fancy was bread pudding. I’ve been thinking about bread pudding ever since the Instant Pot came into the house. I have gotten out of the habit of serving desserts with a meal, so it seemed that this craving would not be satisfied. This morning I thought, well, why not for breakfast!

I don’t like “fussy” recipes, ones with lots of ingredients that are not usually found in our home. For instance, bread pudding recipes that call for egg bread, or cinnamon bread, are glossed over, those kinds of specialized ingredients won’t be found in the Mist Cottage kitchen.

I don’t plan menus, or make grocery lists from them, never have. I look in the garden, in the freezer, in the refrigerator, to see what is available. I choose an ingredient, and then the search is on to find or create a recipe that will bring that ingredient to the table in a pleasing way. This past week it was a forgotten cabbage at the back of the vegetable bin, which inspired several meals of cabbage roll casserole and a wonderful Sweet & Sour beef and cabbage casserole. This morning I noticed two withering apples at the back of the other vegetable drawer… and I meant to chop one of those apples to add to my bread pudding. Perhaps I will make another bread pudding tomorrow, chop one of the apples to add to it, and restrict myself to only eating one serving for my breakfast!

Here is my recipe, developed by reading dozens of recipes, coming to the conclusion that I could use bread ends, saved studiously in the freezer so that nothing would go to waste. So I rummaged around in the refrigerator freezer and produced a small bag of rye bread ends. Perfect. I used the equivalent of two slices of that bread, which was very easy to cube in its frozen state. I used one cup of milk, one egg, some sugar, some raisins, some vanilla, some cinnamon… Maggie’s Bread Pudding For One!

What I am very impressed by is the nutritional lineup of this particular dish, lots of nutrients to counterbalance the indulgence in calories, sodium, sugar, and cholesterol. No empty calories here!

The dish was meant to last for two breakfasts, one hot out of the Instant Pot, and the other cold from the refrigerator, to be heated in the microwave. Well, that didn’t work out, I celebrated my successful recipe by eating the whole thing at one sitting! And even then, if I’m careful for the rest of the day, it won’t put me over any of my daily limits. An improvement for future puddings: I will use my own low-sodium homemade bread instead of store bought bread, which will reduce the sodium content to almost nothing. The nutrient information with the recipe reflects the amount of sodium in commercial breads, not my homemade bread.

The last loaf of bread I made, on Sunday, turned out very well. I used less than 1/8 tsp of salt in that loaf, so eating it will not affect my daily sodium intake. It will be better for Attila too, he needs to cut down on sodium, because he is a condiment hound. He love salty condiments of all kinds. That is where he enjoys his sodium intake most, so cutting down the sodium in other food items helps him keep his intake down, while eating the foods he loves.

11:00 a.m.

A thunderstorm is predicted for today, and rain. The garage roof is a bit vulnerable to the rain just now, the strapping will prevent the water from draining off the roof, so it will pool on the upside of the strapping, and lead down into the holes where the nails are holding down the sheeting and strapping. It can’t be helped. Tonight Attila will be adding flashing to the roof. And when the whole thing dries again, when fairer weather returns, the metal will be installed. So close and yet so far. I am not cleaning the garage until the metal roof is installed.

The rain has started. I was just down in the garage, in my rubber boots, proper footwear, to check the roof for leaks. No leaks so far, but the day is young. I covered all open containers and cardboard boxes with tarps, it is the best I can do. If the roof leaks, these few days of rain will be the last time, this will be the last cleanup after a rain. I don’t think I’ll ever be comfortable with the pound of cure approach to projects.

I notice the wind is billowing some of the waterproof sheeting. This is a bit of bad luck. Some of it has been lifted, torn from the nails that were holding it, that will need to be repaired before the metal roof can be installed. This might involve pulling up some of the strapping, I hope not. Attila, when pressed, has been known to take the “good enough” approach to resolving an issue, which is a very bad idea when it comes to a roof. I will get involved in the decision making about this issue, when the time comes, for my own peace of mind. The roof is worth taking the time to do it right the first time.

Roof renovations remind me of farming. So much risk due to weather! I would not have made a good farmer, scratch that, I would have made an excellent farmer, I worry enough to watch and to think ahead, but I wouldn’t have been a happy farmer, not happy at all.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

18°C
Date: 12:32 PM EDT Wednesday 27 June 2018
Condition: Light Rainshower
Pressure: 101.3 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 17.7°C
Dew point: 17.0°C
Humidity: 96%
Wind: SE 23 km/h
Visibility: 8 km

Quote

“When all is said and done, the weather and love are the two elements about which one can never be sure.”
Alice Hoffman

Routines

Attila has decided on the routine he wants to follow until the garage roof project is complete. After arriving home from work, he will nap for 20 minutes. Then he is flexible as to whether he eats and then begins work on the roof, or he works on the roof and grabs a bit to eat when he feels like it. He will work until dark every night until the project is complete.

I spoke too soon yesterday about not having to return items to the building centre. The nails I purchased at the building centre yesterday, at closing time, did not suit Attila. I took them back this morning. I also drove to the city and picked up paint for the siding, and some dust masks, to wear while cleaning out the garage. And I bought myself a large container with handles, to use when I am pulling weeds, or doing other yard work that generates greenery that needs to get carted to the compost pile. We have several of these large containers already, but Attila has them filled with stuff… this one is MINE!

I continue to marvel at the light in the dining area. It was golden yesterday, reflecting from the plywood sheathing, and today it has a blue tinge, because the waterproof sheets that were installed last night are blue. It will be interesting to see what the light is like when the grey metal roof!

Attila has set his sights on installing the strapping and the metal roofing tonight, after he gets home from work. His plan it to have a nap, then get started and keep going until the roof is on. It is supposed to rain tomorrow, and I think he wants it on before it rains again. It won’t really matter though, because the plywood sheds the water from rain, and the waterproof sheathing will too, so rain or not, the interior of the garage is dry.

8:00 p.m.

Attila is still out there, I hear the saw, the hammer, stuff is happening. He took a break a little while ago, his sights are now set on finishing the strapping tonight. The metal roofing will have to wait for another day. Slow but sure, the project is moving from one segment to the next, one step at a time.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

21°C
Date: 3:00 PM EDT Tuesday 26 June 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.2 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 20.9°C
Dew point: 6.0°C
Humidity: 37%
Wind: S 10 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Hold a book in your hand and you’re a pilgrim at the gates of a new city.”
Anne Michaels