Thursday, December 27, 2007

Running Water!

It's amazing how stuff falls into place. Just two days ago we didn't have a sink or faucet or counter top. Now we have all three!! We are shifting all of our tooth brushing equipment up tonight!!!

Isn't it gorgeous? Mom was visiting us over Christmas, and she left one day too early to enjoy running water upstairs again. Well, you've got a nice treat now when you come back!

Dave installed the counter top yesterday, and we stayed up until 1 am this morning sanding it to 600 grit by hand (don't ask). The results are spectacular. It's such a gorgeous smooth finish with the right colour value (when it was rough, it was too light), and it looks very smart. Now Dave has to remember not to use it as a surface to place tools while he works, and of course, be careful of the sink & faucet. If we have to, we'll disassemble and reassemble, but we'll just enjoy the functionality and be as careful as possible. I think it'll be safe to leave it installed, certainly for a while.

Grouse & Raspberries

We had a lovely grouse breast sitting in our freezer. Dave got the ruffed grouse this autumn up at Dad's; he also brought the gorgeous tail back too, but Murri unfortunately found it. Needless to say, we came home to find feathers from one end of the house to the other, and a very tired, but smug, cat.

I haven't ever cooked grouse before. Dad made us slow cooked stewed grouse a few autumns ago, but we don't have a slow cooker. So I thought I'd wrap the breast halves in a slice of bacon and bake them. They turned out quite well, and weren't too dry at all. I made these raspberry corn meal muffins, but had some leftover raspberries. So I deglazed the roasting pan with red wine and boiled off most of the moisture, then added the raspberries and continued to boil for a while, adding a touch of corn starch at the end. This sauce was ladled onto the grouse & our side salad, and was a nice accompaniment.

Raspberry & Corn Meal Muffins

1 cup corn meal
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 cup lemon juice (should be two lemons, squozed)
1/4 tsp zest
1 cup raspberries

Grease 12-cup muffin tin and preheat oven to 400°F. Combine dry ingredients. Combine moist ingredients. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in wet mix. When partly blended, add fruit & zest, and mix sparingly. Bake at 400°F for 15-20 minutes.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Chicken Exploded in Our Bathroom!

Not literally, but it sure looked like it!

Dave was routering the edge of the solid-state counter top of our vanity, and the shavings flew everywhere, looking like the proverbial exploded chicken. And the toilet became fluffy!

So here's the rounded edge of the counter top for the vanity:

And what the vanity looks like in place.

The counter looks great! Next step is inletting the plumbing and polishing. We might have a sink & taps installed by the end of the week (fingers crossed!!!).

Turkey Leftovers

Not that we had turkey, per se, but I did make stock from some turkey necks & backs. As a result, I had a bunch of meat left on the necks and backs that I didn't want to just throw away. So I made a very modified version of Chilequeles that turned out to be the perfect use for left-overs.

Turkey Bits Chilequeles

3 cups shredded turkey meat (approximate)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup salsa
2 1/2 cups cooked beans (kidney, black turtle, cocoa, pinto, etc)
1 1/2 cups grated aged cheddar
2 1/2 cups coarsely crushed nacho chips (most of a 454g bag)

The measures are all approximate - I did it in a 9x13" baking pan, and you might want more or less of cheese, beans, nachos, whatever. I sprayed the baking pan with a little grapeseed oil to prevent sticking. Mix the meat, cilantro and salsa, then spread evenly into the bottom of the baking pan. Sprinkle about a third of the cheese over this mixture. Press half of the crumbled tortilla chips into the mixture then sprinkle another third of the cheese on top. Layer the last half of tortillas and sprinkle with the last third of cheese. Bake in centre of oven at 375°F oven for about 20-30 minutes, until cheese is melted and crispy, and everything is heated through. Serve with a spoonful of sour cream and slices of avocado.

Dave was given a great book of meat from James & Jacquie, and we all learned a new term: now you too can learn how to spatchcock a bird.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Cookies

Originally posted to WetCanvas! by TeAnne

I found a recipe in a magazine last year that I really wanted to try, but hadn't got around to it. I figured I'd take advantage of Mom being over for a visit to help with the rolling of the dough. As it is the middle of December, I didn't have the fresh herbs called for by the recipe, but dried worked beautifully well, just very crumbly to chop! Of course, I also replaced the regular flour with rice flour so that Mom could eat it. The rule of thumb with substituting the super-fine, no gluten rice flour that seems to work usually is for every cup of regular wheat flour, use 1/8 cup less rice flour.

Lavender Shortbread
1 1/2 cup butter, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp finely chopped lavender florets
1 tbsp finely chopped mint
2 1/3 cup flour (but I used rice flour which was 1 3/4 plus 1/3 cup)
1/2 cup cornstarch

Cream butter & sugar until fluffy. Add in mint & lavender & mix until fluffy again. Combine flour & cornstarch in a separate bowl, then gradually add to the creamed mix and beat until well incorporated. It gets kind of stiff, so I used my hands to knead the dough somewhat.

Divide dough in half, wrap in plastic and chill for 30-60 minutes. Roll or pat out squares between sheets of wax paper (if using regular flour, you can roll out onto a lightly floured surface) until 1/2" thick. Cut into 1 1/2" squares. Space on parchment-lined baking sheets approximately 1" apart and prick with fork. Bake at 325°F for 20-25 minutes until pale golden. Cool slightly on baking sheets before transferring to cooling rack.

The resulting shortbread looks rather coarse, almost like an oat cake, because of the bits of herb, but the flavour is much more sophisticated than a regular shortbread, and in fact, seems slightly less sweet because of the minty/lavender flavour. These worked out to be a wonderful Christmas cookie.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Belated LSDI Christmas Party Pics

Thanks to Dawn & Paul for hosting another wonderful Christmas dinner for us all! Naturally, Laura was the centre of attention pretty much all night long.

Deep in tactical discussion
Dave & James

Kathy & Dawn

Who's THAT baby?

Who needs a tree to decorate?

Laura gets a lift from Paul

Peekaboo Laura!

Phaedra needs more convincing, Ian!

Daddy's girl

Summit '07 - Ian, Laura & Louise discuss politics

Must be a good story - Dawn, Jacqueline & Phaedra

Here comes Santa Claus!
Dawn, Jacqueline, Kathy, Phaedra, Ian, and Paul in background

Laura being cute off stage right
Dawn, Jacqueline, Paul, Kathy & Phaedra in attendance

Melissa makes a dash for the kitchen

Montrose makes himself comfy
"No one is going home - I couldn't possibly move"

Friday, December 14, 2007

Bathroom Progress

A considerable amount of work has been done on our bathroom since my last update about it. Dave ripped out everything except the toilet. Literally everything. Plus a couple of walls.

The bathroom today

There is now a pocket door between the hall and bathroom (although the door currently hung is temporary; we do actually have the real thing sitting waiting in the hall, with the brass fittings set in by our master carpenter), and also somewhat finished walls on all by one part of the room (behind where the tub will go - that has to be special water proof drywall). Thanks to help from Uncle Steve, we have electricals installed (new fan, moved overhead light (we've purchased an actual fixture from Restoration Hardware), two lights installed over where the vanity will go (again, actual Restoration Hardware fixtures, but they'll be installed at the end), as well as a GFI wall plug also just above the vanity). Also thanks to help from Uncle Steve, we have some plumbing moved and replaced (the taps leading to the vanity have been shifted to the other side of the stud they were on originally, with new valve turn-offs). We've purchased a sink and faucet. Dave's got a length of solid-state counter top, courtesy of Uncle Steve. And, what I think is stunningly important, the beautiful new piece of cabinetry is basically ready, including the brand-new hardware in chrome that was just installed today.

The vanity, while quite lovely in wood, was made to be paint grade (the wood doesn't match). I'm getting excited about colours! Quite obviously, there's still a ridiculous amount of work to be done, but in between going to Mom's and doing stuff for my family, and doing stuff for Dave's family, and hunting, and travelling, and maybe fitting in some other actual wood working projects (oh, yeah, and producing about 30 frames for me, at last count), it's actually remarkable that Dave has managed to do anything on our bathroom!

As an aside, he's also built a little access door for the crawl space in the ceiling at the end of the hall, which he also just installed today. That should help keep us a little warmer - the crawl space has been open for about 3 months now. Plus, it looks beautiful, and is, of course, over built! But then, it wouldn't be Dave and his brilliant wood working skills if it weren't.

Venison Bourguignon with Roasted Root Vegetables

You'll be happy to know that this doe did not make it into the stew pot.

But another one did!

Dave brought home a beautiful mule deer doe from the Peace River country up near Chetwynd this fall, and she's been very tasty. I know, many people will be deeply offended by that statement. Too bad. Unless they are die-hard vegans who live what they preach, then I'm afraid I don't have a lot of sympathy for anyone who eats store-purchased meat in this day and age that thinks that hunting is cruel. Anyway, I digress. This is our second deer and this one got hung for a few days before being butchered into meat packages, and what an incredible difference! This doe is so darned tender, it's mouth-wateringly good.

So dinner for last night & tonight was prepared as follows:

approximately 1 lb of cubed venison stew, silver skin removed
2 tbsp bacon fat (well, you could use oil, but bacon fat is just so much tastier!)
1 can dark beer (in our case, Canterbury)
4 large brown (crimini) mushrooms, coarsely sliced
scant 1/4 cup flour (possibly less, depending on how much liquid there is left after cooking)

Melt bacon fat, then brown meat all around at medium high heat to seal, but not cook. Pour in beer and add mushrooms, turn down heat to minimum or low, and let whole thing simmer for a minimum of 1/2 hour, but can be longer. When getting ready to serve, turn up heat a bit and add in flour to thicken.

For roasted veggies:

1 large sweet potato (orange root vegetable, not yellow fleshed yam)
1-2 medium rutabaga (from our garden)
4-6 medium potatoes (we used Russian blue and French fingerling from our garden)
a generous sprinkling of salt (Brittany grey)
1 tbsp crumbled dry oregano

Chop the veggies up into coarse chips (fries) shape, spray pan & veggies liberally with grape seed oil (if you don't have oil atomizer, you can mix salt & herbs with a couple of tbsp of oil then dribble over veggies). Roast at around 350°F for at least an hour, turning regularly, until fairly crisp and baked on the outside.

Serve with the stew & gravy ladled out over the veggies, and maybe with a pint on the side. Mmmm!