An Open Window

There is nothing like an open window to make a day peaceful. It doesn’t matter that in the distance there are hammers hammering, diggers digging, men shouting, radios playing, trucks on the highway humming… it doesn’t matter. What I mostly hear is the wind in the leaves, the cooing of the rock dove outside the window. The peaceful sounds are accompanied by a light breeze playing through the house, curtains billowing then resting with a sigh, and the sight of white clouds in a blue sky.

Now, all that is needed here is a night rain, long and steady, to give the gasping landscape relief.

After recently upgrading our internet connection to an unlimited account, to avoid paying for over usage, which is outrageously costly, I noticed while looking at the most recent bill, that the account number didn’t seem right. Sure enough, they changed it! But, since upgrading the account a payment had been made to the old account number. Carefully checking the previous bill, the payment had been processed as it should have been. A call to the company revealed that there was a short grace period where payments to the previous account numbers would transferred to the new account. Well, it is a good thing I noticed! There were no clues in the bill that this change had occurred, and it was not an easy catch to notice it, those long account numbers aren’t usually read. I caught it though, and updated the payment process. Dodged that bullet!

This evening a load of rotting mouldy wood was on its way to the dump. There will be a charge for this, but it was decided that even though the wood could be taken to the Rideau Camp for a camp fire, the journey with the material in the back of Tank would be extremely unpleasant, the smell is very strong. As well, there are drought conditions here, and it would be very ill advised to have a campfire, even if they are not yet banned. So the dump it was.

Whether canned goods are being processed in lower quality containers, or the can opener suddenly wore out, opening cans had become an ordeal. The final straw came about a week ago, when I suffered two deep cuts to my hands while attempting to open a can. The cuts are still not completely healed. So, after a short bit of research, a new can opener was ordered, and it arrived a few days ago. Wow, what a difference, the new can opener, a ZYLISS, works like a charm. The problem must have been with the old can opener, it had just worn out. The need to avoid canned goods due to the difficulty in opening them has ended. I feel like a new woman.

Earlier in the month the pepper mill stopped working, replaced by a Peugeot, made affordable only because it was temporarily on sale at a significant discount.

It’s the little things, the things that you interact with every day, or often, where you appreciate small but significant changes. Almost every day I use either the pepper mill, or the can opener, and every day that I do, I notice how well the new tools work.

A modest investment has provided a large amount of pleasure.

Attila and I were craving pizza last night. Nope, not gonna make pizza right now, so that craving will have be put on hold. Instead Nachos, with Guacamole on the side, were prepared and enjoyed. A quick and nutritious dinner. And tonight it is a bowl of hearty Vegetable Soup. But that pizza is still on my mind!

Worldly Distractions

Weather

22°C
Date: 1:00 PM EDT Wednesday 18 July 2018
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 22.1°C
Dew point: 6.2°C
Humidity: 35%
Wind: NW 11 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“We touch other peoples lives simply by existing.”
J. K. Rowling

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