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

At Last!

Sunday, September 7 2014

My mood deteriorated throughout yesterday evening, and when I woke up in the morning I could not for the life of me find the right side of the bed. Attila stayed up until 2:00 a.m. finishing the interior of the windows. He woke me up when he came to bed, and I had trouble falling back to sleep. Then he got up at 4:30 a.m. and woke me up again! Enough!!!

I scowled and stamped my feet into the bathroom after I arose, then went out to the kitchen to make myself a cup of coffee. Attila was passed out, and arose several hours later. There was still one last job to complete before the interior finish on the windows would be actually finished. And it was a messy job! The window sill needed to be trimmed, sanded, and painted. In no uncertain terms did I let Attila know that I wanted my kitchen back!!!! Now!!!!

Shame on me for being so prickly! I seldom loose my cool in this way, but occasionally, every few years I have a mini-meltdown when something leaves me feeling totally helpless, and and I can find no distraction powerful enough to alleviate the stress. Attila laughs at me for thinking I am so fierce! He says that this mood of mine is “nothing” by comparison to those which he observed before he met me. Still, I really do not like having my knickers in a twist.

So we had a lovely breakfast of pancakes and peaches, after which Attila got right to work on the window sill. The job was loud and long, but finally, it was done!

dining room windows completed with metal top kitchen table by window

TADA! The new dining room windows, and the kitchen table, all in order and ship shape!

And my foul mood instantly evaporated! I literally danced around the kitchen, vacuuming the sawdust and drywall dust, washing the floor, washing all of the counters, and finally washing the dirty dishes! Then I rescued the kitchen table from the living room and put it back where it belonged. The bathroom renovation was intrusive, but I have discovered that I can tolerate just about any renovation project, except in my kitchen!

As soon as I had put the kitchen to rights, I started a food preservation project. Terra and Lares brought us an abundance of vegetables from their garden, as they had far more than they needed. We received kale, beets, beet greens, and three huge bunches of celery. The celery was deteriorating most quickly, so that was what I started with. After some consideration, I decided to process the celery in two ways. The first was to dry the leaves for flavouring, and the second was to chop, blanch, and flash freeze the stalks. Both powdered leaves and the chopped frozen stalks would be welcome additions to stews and soups.

It took all afternoon to process two of the stalks of celery! I prepared the first stalk standing at the kitchen sink, and before I knew it my knee was aching and my back was giving me grief. The next stalk of celery was prepared while sitting at the table. I removed the leaves, culling the yellowed, damaged or wilting leaves for the compost. Then I used the salad spinner to wash the leaves, spread them thinly on cookie sheets, dry them in the oven at 200F for 45 minutes, crush the dried leaves, and store them in an airtight jar. I washed the stalks, cut away any iffy portions, chopped them into 1/2 inch pieces, and blanched them in boiling water for five minutes. Then I drained the celery pieces, spread them in a baking pan and flash froze them in the freezer for about an hour. They separated nicely, and the yield was about two quarts.

celery leaves in salad spinner and dried on pizza pan

After removing the celery leaves from the stalks, they were washed in a salad spinner, then spread on pizza pans and cookie sheets, placed in a 200F oven for about 45 minutes, turning twice after 15 minutes.

celery stalk pieces in the blanching pot

Blanching the celery stalks was quick and easy, and the results were good. Terra’s home grown celery has a lot of “body”, and needed to be softened a bit. The blanching served three purposes, softening the celery, moderating the taste, and killing enzymes.

While I was busy with all this, Attila was staining the front porch, which he had finished building last October. We are pleased with it, and it should keep the neighbours happy. We try to do some sort of improvement to the front of the house every year, just so that the neighbours know we are still making improvements, and have not abandoned the place.

Attila seized the day, and the fine weather, to finish the front stairs.  The front stairs, freshly painted and stained, drying before the second coat was applied.

Attila seized the day, or the fine weather, to finish the front stairs. The front stairs, freshly painted and stained, drying before the second coat was applied.

Terra visited us again today, during her lunch break at work. What a treat it has been, to see her every day! Lares had the day off, and was working hard at home. He is installing siding on the last side of the house. He has sided the entire house almost all by himself, and has done a very professional job of it. Their house looks wonderful!

The weather was cooler today, and less humid.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

Again, didn’t manage to record the weather! Still summer like though, just not heat wave summer like anymore.

Quote

“A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”
George Bernard Shaw (1856 – 1950)