Sunday, March 27, 2005

Easter mudding!...

Mud, mud, mud! It seems I'll never stop. It is such a dirty awful work. I have a steady hand and that is why I decided to do the joint compound around the new areas. Because I am not a professional, I take probably twice or three times as long. In the meantime I have to live in the middle of all the dirt, dust and confusion.

Since my little house has about 850 ft², there is not much room to maneuver and I have to go around piled furniture, pay attention to plastic all over, try not to bang the little ladder on something that might break, not to trip on the wires...and sometimes things do not come out as perfect as I envisioned...therefore adding an extra day to the whole process.

Now, please tell me again why did I decide to do this? Sigh! End of rant.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Reno - the entry hall

Lucky me. As a government employee I have both Godd Friday and Eater Monday off. A four day weekend...yupeeee! and I'm going to spend it working my hands off finishing off the entry hall renovation...or as much of it as I can anyway.

The photo above shows the entry hall the way it looked in 2000 when I bought my little bungalow. It was frightfully small and dark with varnished plywood walls and a doorway into the living room. It had a door in the old days, as I could see by the hinge marks. I planned to take down the varnished plywood, put drywall instead and make an opening on the oposite wall to let in some natural light.

As I dismantled the varnished plywood I discovered siding underneath. It looks like both the entry hall and what is now the TV area were, in the beginning, the front porch. I loved the siding and decided to keep it. I just love it.

The photo above shows the opening into the TV area. My entry hall is dark no more! My son helped me putting up the drywall and mudding and finishing it is my job for this long weekend.

In between mud coats, I use the heat gun to remove what looks like 60 years and as many coats of paint from the front door. Also, as you can see from this picture, the "entry door" into the living room has been opened up. It looks much more spacious and I love the natural light.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

My dinner today...

What a convoluted way to get dinner. Two days ago I was reading through Esuriente's blog and saw that she had made the Broccoli Cornmeal Upside Down Cake invented by Clotilde of Chocolate and Zucchini's fame. I had seen the recipe when I perused Clotilde's blog and at the time I thought it was unusual. Would I like it? I wasn't sure. I like broccoli and I like cornmeal, but both together???

Somehow, seeing the picture in Nikki's blog got me interested, I realized that I had all the ingredients at hand and today I decided to make it.

The cottage cheese I had was different than the one the recipe called for; it is compressed in a block and tastes a little sour (I'll never buy it again). Because the cheese was so dry I added a little milk to the wet mixture. It was also a good opportunity to test my brand-new toaster oven to bake the cake.

As you can see by the picture above, the cake came out fabulous. It was not bad, although I believe the sour taste of the pressed cottage cheese lingered a bit. Also I found out that I did not put enough salt. And the little toaster oven passed with flying colours.

I certainly plan to make it again and this time I will put more broccoli, use the regular cottage cheese and add a little more salt. A it is, I ate half of the cake that is supposed to serve 4. I wonder how much would I have eaten if all was perfect?

Monday, March 21, 2005

Portuguese Fresh Cheese

One of my very favourites, this cheese is manufactured, in Canada, mainly from cow milk. In Portugal it can also can be made from the sheep milk, goat or a mix of both. According to my research, the moistness of this type of cheese is between 70-80% and therefore its period of conservation is limited.

Having gotten that out of the way, let me tell you that, as far as I am concerned, it is the best of the non-aged cheeses (there must be a technical word for that in English but, by the life of me, I cannot remember). The texture of this cheese is pudding-like and you slice it to serve. It is fragile, so you have so be careful or the slice might break before you put it on the toast. You can eat it on its own, over toast and jam, fruit or, as I prefer, over a Ryvita cripbread.

The cheese must be kept refrigerated and is should maintain its freshness for about two weeks.

Here in Ottawa there is no commercial production of Portuguese Fresh Cheese. Some of the ethnic stores get it from Montreal o Toronto. I purchase mine from Europa Food Centre a Portuguese grocery store on Beechwood Ave. You have to order it. Mr. Joaquim Roma, the owner, does not purchase too many because of the tight “best before” date. Usually a fresh batch arrives every Friday.

Europa Food Centre
77 Beechwood Avenue,
Ottawa, Ontario
K1M 1L8
tel.: 613-749-9935

Friday, March 18, 2005

SHF # 6 - Pudim Flan

Pudim Flan is the Portuguese name for a very popular custard pudding cooked in a pan in which the inside has been covered with caramel.

My mother used to make this recipe, using a tumbler to measure the quantities of eggs, milk and sugar and cooked it in the pressure cooker in an aluminum pan with a lid. I did not have milk so I used 10% cream. The finished product was deliciously rich.

Pudim Flan

1 tumbler-full of eggs (my tumbler used 5 eggs)
1 tumbler-full of milk (I used 10% cream)
1/2 tumbler of sugar
3/4 cup of sugar + 2 tablespoons water for the caramel

Pour the sugar and water in a metal pan and set it on top of the stove element to make the caramel. The sugar will start boiling a little, then dry somewhat before turning into the blond caramel. At this stage it is important that you keep close watch to avoid burning. Mix with a wooden spoon to help the sugar melt.

Once the caramel is ready slowly tilt and roll the pan to cover the sides with caramel. As the caramel cools it will nicely cover the sides of the pan. Set aside.

Mix the eggs, sugar and cream until well blended. Pour into the prepared pan. Cover with its cover. If you do not have a cover for your pan I believe that a lid of anther pan will work, but I never tried.

Put the pan in the pressure cooker which has about 1-inch of water on the bottom. If your pressure cooker has a stand to avoid the pan to touch the bottom, use it. However I do not think it is necessary. Close the pressure cooker, put the pressure regulator and put the pan on the stove on high. Let the pressure build until the pressure regulator starts rocking. Reduce the heat to medium and let cook for 5 minutes. Switch off the heat and let the pressure drop on its own.

Once the pressure is gone open the pressure cooker and take out the pan. To check the pressure touch the pressure regulator lightly. If you hear a hissing sound, there is still pressure; if all you hear is blessed silence, then you can remove the regulator and open the cooker.

Let cool a bit before unmolding the pudding into a deep dish. The caramel in the pan will have melted and it makes quite a bit of sauce. If you find that there is still a layer of caramel stuck to the bottom of the pan, pour 1/4 to 1/3 cup of water, and heat the pan on the stove to dissolve the caramel.

Pudim Flan can also be cooked in the oven. Set the temperature to 350-degrees Fahrenheit, pour about 1-inch of hot water in a roasting pan and set the pan with the pudding mixture in it. Depending on the size of the tumbler you used, cook the pudding between 30 and 45 minutes.

Bom apetite!

Monday, March 14, 2005

Decisions, decisions...

Yesterday I asked my friends to come and check the new renovation in the new dining room. I had thought of filling in a half-wall in the old kitchen looking for some extra shelf space. When you live in a 850 ft2 bungalow, you need all the help you can get.

The contractor had not even finished the job and I knew I hated it. The space suddenly seemed so cramped...My contractor would come back on Monday to finish the job and I had the weekend to decide on a course of action. Unable to make a decision I called in my friends for comments and support. And the verdict is... forget the shelf space go for people space. So the wall has come down.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Taking the plunge, at last

I finally got the courage to create my blog. After lurking for about three months and reading everybody else's blogs, here is a nice way to communicate with family and friends. Beats writing the same letter with the same news over and over again.

After a little struggle, I finally decided on the title for my blog. One contender was "Ana's Rambles" which I disliked for the lack of creativity. I knew I was going to write mainly about my attempts at cooking (I prefer eating to cooking and it shows), the renovation of my little bungalow, my struggles with weight loss, or lack of it, and so the Rambles moniker fit.

The title "Pumpkin Pie" comes from one of the colours I used in the bungalow (Eldorado Tan, Fine Sand, and Pumpkin Pie) from Para Paints Exterior Collection.

Welcome to my world...