Friday, September 30, 2011

Cheesecake Ice Cream

The bowl for my ice cream maker is in my freezer.  I put it there when I moved in.  As long as it's there, taking up precious freezer space, I figure it needs to be put to good use.  The first batch was cinnamon ice cream.  This was the 2nd.

This is actually what you should do, not what I did.  I threw everything in a bowl and mixed.  Then I got a whisk to break up the lumps as best I could but definitely still had some.  Oh well.  I guess I'll have to try again sometime.

Cheesecake Ice Cream
adapted from this recipe

8 oz cream cheese
8 oz plain yogurt
4 oz light cream
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp orange zest
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
pinch sea salt

Cream together cream cheese and sugar.  Gradually add the yogurt while stirring to get a smooth mixture.  Continue with the cream.  Stir in orange zest, vanilla bean paste and salt.  Chill in the fridge overnight.  Churn in ice cream maker.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


So it's mid September. Obviously I am not going to be planting a garden this year. But I can get things ready for next year.

Here is the first piece of my garden, the compost pile. I brought home some pallets from work. $2 for L brackets, and an hour to assemble and load it up. By load it up, I mean, move what looked like a trash heap in the middle of my yard so that it's contained by the pallets. My neighbors love me. At least my lawn isn't yellow any more, just green with weeds.

The compost pile is in the corner. The rest of the garden will be the dirt area around it.

I am deciding how I want to lay out the garden. The grid is 1 ft per box. The box on the top left is the compost pile. The other boxes are raised beds. That's as much effort as I am capable of putting into drawing this.

What do you think? Is 2 ft a wide enough aisle? I am thinking it will just be boards around the border. Not sure how I am getting 20' boards and bringing them home but we'll get to that. Or I'll get multiple shorter boards and figure out how to join them. Can I just screw together the corners or do I need something more to support it and keep it from falling apart once it's filled with dirt? I figure I'll till everything with my garden weasel before I build the beds. Hopefully that will give me a few years before I need to figure out how to till inside the raised beds.

Monday, September 19, 2011

No Knead Bread

OK so everyone else blogged this years ago but hey, I'm slow. I might be slow enough for this to be retro cool rather than just dated. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

So the reason I am actually baking the bread dough that was in my fridge is this. My coworker had egg salad for lunch yesterday. Suddenly I needed egg salad. Then I needed a carrier for the egg salad. I tried to dip some baby carrots in it and that worked kinda a little while the bread was rising but not terribly well.

If I were a more interesting person, this would be where I would insert a funny story. But hey, I don't claim to be exciting so it's your own fault for reading this.

My recipe is based off the Jim Lahey's recipe, published in the NYTimes. I added a little honey and upped the salt a hair because I can. At least right now, I am just keeping a batch of this dough in the fridge and baking it whenever I want bread.

The first time I made it, I made a big loaf in the dutch oven, like the recipe says. That always comes out with an amazing crust, perfect for slathering with butter or dip in garlic oil. This time I made some rolls in a muffin pan, uncovered. These are a bit softer but still with more of a crust than a lot of rolls that I've had at restaurants. At some point I thought the muffin pan size would be a good sandwich size but they are a bit small for that.

A batch made one big loaf. I used about half a batch to make a dozen mini rolls.

3 cups flour
1/4 tsp yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp honey
1 1/2 cup water

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.
Let it sit out on the counter for about 12 hours.
Refrigerate until you are ready to use.
The day you are going to bake, take dough out of the fridge and fold together into a ball or whatever shape you desire. Small dough balls in a muffin pan are also nice.
Place ball on floured towel, cover with another floured towel and allow to rise 2 1/2 hours.
During the last 30 mins of rising, preheat oven to 450.
Bake until you have a golden brown crust.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies

Hey look! Another post!

Here's another recipe that I've made a bunch of times but when I searched here to find it, it wasn't here. So I guess I'm writing a blog post about how I didn't write a blog post. Exciting stuff, I know.

It's been a crazy week. Well, it'll be last week, by the time this post goes up. I like to schedule a few of them and space them out. You know, to have a post every few days rather than 3 in a day and then nothing for a few weeks.

Anyway... it's been a crazy week. I took the week off with the plan to relax, unpack some stuff, maybe buy a few things for the house, finish the built in shelving that I already posted. And that's how my vacation started.

But then Tuesday evening, I hear this tapping sound. I looked around and found out that water was coming down from my air conditioning vent into my living room. Not a lot, probably a quart of water total but enough to make me unhappy. So I contacted 3 roofers.

I spoke to the first one about 8:30 on Wednesday; he said he'd be there about 10-10:30 to check it out; I'm still waiting for him to show up.

The second guy came and looked at it and said it doesn't really look like it's a roof leak because the roof is in good shape, which I agreed with being that the roof is only 8 years old; he started looking at the siding and saw a gap where if the wind blows the right way might be able to get water in it and get to the duct.

The third guy came in, took a look at where the vent is, relative to the window, went outside to look at the roof, stepped 20 ft back and looked at it for a minute and said all he could do is replace the entire roof. Never actually looked at the roof or anything. Asshole.

So that's made my vacation fun.

And the fun continued. Friday I went down to my basement to fix something. My finished, carpeted basement. I sat down on the floor and when I got up I noticed my shorts were damp. Odd. I didn't think I'd pissed myself and if I was having bladder issues, that was news to me.

So I start checking the floor and I found a maybe 5 sq ft wet spot on the carpet. This is the line of thought that was going on in my head. 'shit. shit shit shit. shit fuck shit. shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit.' Very eloquent, I know.

So I raced to the garage and got my shop vac and started trying to suck up the water. I got probably a gallon up like that. You could barely feel the dampness in the carpet. I cranked up my box fan and dehumidifier, went back upstairs and sat down and let out a big sigh.

But then I started thinking about it a bit more and I started worrying about the carpet pad and subfloor. Ultimately, I ended up pulling up the carpet and carpet pad on about 1/3 of my basement. When it's on concrete, carpet pad is just glued down, which makes it not the easiest to get up. In case you were wondering.

Fortunately it wasn't raining so I took several of the carpet pads and let them dry outside and I got to work on drying out everything that was still inside. I used pretty much everything I have that can move air, one way or another. Box fan, space heater, blow dryer, dehumidifier and shop vac. All running on high. Can't wait to see that electric bill. At least I didn't trip anything out.

And yes, I sat there with the holding the blow dryer, blowing under the baseboard heater to try and get the concrete dried out. And in case you were wondering, you can burn carpet with a blow dryer if you hold it really close to the carpet. You know, if that was one of those things that you've always been wondering about.

I set up the space heater behind the box fan so the box fan was blowing hot dry air with a lot more fan speed than the space heater. When things got fairly dry, I just used the box fan and dehumidifier.

Every 3 hours, I'd go down, empty the dehumidifier (I moved it over to where the floor was wet and of course my hose isn't long enough to reach from there to the drain), move the fan, carpet pads and carpet around some to make sure everything gets really dry. 3 days of that. And yes, I set an alarm during the night to get up and do it every 3 hours. It's like I got a newborn infant dropped on me. At least I don't have to breast feed it or something.

At some point I started spraying everything with vinegar to help prevent mold growth. I used close to a half a gallon of vinegar. I'd spray, turn the fans off for 30 mins or so and then turn them back on. I'm sure the neighbors could smell it. But at least it's not as stinky as ammonia or bleach. And I don't see or smell any signs of mold.

Well between each of those 3 hour increments, I had some time to do other things, at least when things were pretty much dry. This was when I deemed the shelves done. Even though the finish isn't very smooth and I probably didn't give the polyurethane enough cure time. I also made some cookie dough. Sigh.

Anyway. Here's the cookie recipe. I'm done whining. At least for this post. You can stop scrolling now.

Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies

1 cup hazelnuts
1 cup AP flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 stick butter at room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3 oz dark chocolate

Toast the nuts in a dry skillet until fragrant.
Finely chop the nuts.
Cream butter and sugar together.
Beat in egg and vanilla.
Mix together nuts, flour, baking powder, salt.
Add dry ingredients to wet and mix until combined.
Form into a log and chill for at least 2 hours.
Slice cookies and bake at 350. How long to bake will depend on how big you make the cookies. I did 16 cookies and baked about 15 minutes.
While the cookies are baking, melt the chocolate in the microwave.
Dip part of the cookies in the chocolate and drizzle top with the remainder after they've cooled for a couple minutes.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Built In Shelving

So I've decided to call these shelves done. Not because I'm extremely thrilled with how they came out but because I've got too much other crap to deal with.

When I saw this space when I was looking at the house, I knew immediately what I was going to do with it. It just screamed built in shelving.

So now, who knows how many weeks, 4 trips to Home Depot and 2 trips to Walmart (because I just couldn't handle going to Home Depot a 5th time that week) here are my shelves.

If you read a blog that says 'slap a couple coats of primer, paint, polyurethane and done' or something like that be wary. Very very wary. I had started a post where I carried on about how much more work this was than that. Aren't you glad I forgot that I wrote decided to spare you of that?

My shelves have 4 coats of primer, wood filler, spackle, 3 coats of paint and 2 coats of polyurethane. Now to figure out how long it takes, each coat actually has to be done in 2 phases. You do one side, let it dry, flip it over and do the other side. So pretty much a day per coat. Well with the primer it went a bit faster but with the paint and polyurethane it was a day per coat. Not to mention the spackle and wood filler need time to dry as well. You do the math.

And that's just the painting. Maybe it's just me, but levelling the shelves is a royal pain due to the angle on the left side. And if you're off by 1/4", suddenly your board length is off by almost 1/2", which really sucks.

Before you start a project like this, you should check what's behind your walls. I assumed they were all wood studs. Well, that wall on the left is not the case. Apparently there is a metal stud in there. Wood drill bits will not get through a metal stud. Guess how I figured that one out. Needless to say, there are a few extra holes in the wall.... fortunately the boards and trim hide them well enough that I don't care any more. Of course at this point, as long as they don't fall down, I'm probably ready to call them good enough, at least for a while.

Another trip to Walmart got me the Bankers boxes and now it looks like this

And yes, there is a reason why every picture is cut off on the left side. I didn't say everything was unpacked.....

Now, back to trying to dry out my carpet in the basement. Sigh.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Cinnamon Ice Cream

I just realized I never posted this recipe. Apparently I haven't posted a bunch of my basic recipes. Because I keep coming here to find my recipes and can't find them. And I'm too lazy to go through my recipe 'file' to find them. Sigh. Well, fortunately I remember this one enough to do it/make it up.

This recipe comes out pretty cinnamony. If you are a normal person, you may want to cut back the amount of cinnamon, like in half. When I tested it after it had steeped I thought it was way too cinnamony and that I should've checked the recipe rather than going off memory from probably 2 years ago. Whoops. But after it's frozen, the flavor isn't as strong so I think this is a pretty good amount.

It also has a pretty high fat content so it coats your mouth like a premium ice cream should but if you have a different ice cream base that you like better, you can of course use that but this is the one I chose today.

I like it drizzled with honey but it's also good straight up.

Cinnamon Ice Cream

2 cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1 cup sugar
a pinch of salt
4 cups light cream (or 3 cups cream and 1 cup milk, or 2 cups half and half and 2 cups milk or whatever other combination you like)
5 egg yolks

Put the cinnamon sticks, ground cinnamon, sugar, salt and cream in a pot and heat over medium until it comes to a simmer. Turn down to low and allow to steep for 30 minutes. Slowly the egg yolks with the cream mixture and then return to the pot. Cook on low, stirring occasionally, until it coats the back of a spoon. Strain mixture into a bowl and chill overnight. Churn in your ice cream maker. Freeze.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Decapitated Giant Lego Men

So I was intending for my next post to be lots of pics of my house after everything is unpacked and stuff. Or of the built in shelving that I am putting in, all shiny and happy and pretty. As the title suggests, that's not what this post is. 4 trips to Home Depot and the shelves still aren't done.... but I think I have everything now.... I hope... Of course I said that after each Home Depot trip so I guess we'll see. And I need these shelves so I can unpack boxes and put stuff in places. At one point it made sense to build the shelving rather than buy some random shelf.

So I decided to do something else. Why finish that project when I can start something else instead?

Now before you even consider thinking that I am creative and came up with a cute thing, I definitely stole this from someone else. Right down to the spray paint. And if I hadn't closed the window, I would give credit where credit is due but I don't remember and I don't feel like trying to find it.

So here are my decapitated giant lego men.
One will be a candy dish at work. Not entirely decided what the other two will be.

PS That is not some random crap stuck on my counter on the left side of the picture. It's the granite. I swear. I even checked when I saw it in the picture.