Wednesday, August 12, 2009


This is what guilt looks like! Guilt of leaving my cat alone for 3 days. Not available in Canada (yet), I saw this Fancy Feast cat food in St. Louis and decided to splurge for my cat nita! I hope she'll like it; all the flavors looks very good, human grade, but I also hope she won't like it too too much: I don't want to have to bring back cat food each time I travel to the States!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Wood-Fired Oven ~ Cement Block Base

Last week, after modifying my plan a dozen time, I was finally fully satisfied and was ready to start, at last. But I realized that I really didn't know how to put the cement blocks together; I had plenty of witten material on the subject but felt I was missing something. So I placed an add on Kijiji in the Skilled Trade section, asking for someone to come by and graciously spend a couple hours with me to show me how. The first respondant asked me what I was doing and after a few missed calls and emails, came by Friday night. He arrived at the time scheduled and with all his tools! I was glad to impress him with how ready I was with my own set of tools! A very nice man, originally from Haiti, currently out of work from a call centre but obviously well versed in building with cement blocks. We did the first 4 blocks, as I intended, and he was then on his way.
On an unrelated funny note, we're both French speaking, but I couldn't understand a word of what he was saying because his French accent is so different than mine, so we spoke English to each other!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Yard Sale Loot

All that for only $1.00! Quite happy about my luck! I was ready to pay double but I gave the quoted amount gladly; it could be because I stopped by at 6pm and she looked like she was ready to pack everything in!
In the lot, there's a Henckles knife, so even if don't even use anything else, that was worth it!
But with those 24 small tart molds, no excuse not to try some tasty phyllo cups!
And how about that vintage cheese knife set? Cute! I might have to invite people over for a cheese and wine affair just to show them off!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Wood-Fired Oven ~ Mock-Up

I did the inventory of the cement blocks I got so far and modified my paper plan accordingly. I have much more block 8X10X16 so the oven hearth floor will be slightly smaller than the Alan Scott plan, but it's ok. I laided the blocks to see if it all made sense and I think it will look good. I just made a slight modification to use the 8X8X16 block for the center pilar instead of the corners. The metal wash bassin will be the ash recipient and it's there to make sure the front opening is large enough to access under the oven easily.
In the meantime, I was able to acquire an old cement mixer: that will save me a lot of elbow grease! I will retake all the measurements, redo the mock-up and hopefully start the actually work soon!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Wood-Fired Oven ~ Cement Pad

Finally done!! I came back from work on Tuesday and it was finished!! There are cute little bird footprints on it but unfortunately, they will get covered by the cement blocks and bricks; too bad they aren't at the other end where nothing will cover the cement.
I guess I'm somewhat of a control freak: it bothers me not to know exactly how the cement was poured and how the reinforced mesh was positioned inside but, I can't be everywhere at once and I need to learn to trust people. That's the tough one....

Monday, July 6, 2009

Wood-Fired Oven ~ Ready!

The gravel is packed, the frame is secured and I'm ready for the cement to be poured. Maybe tomorrow?
My neighbours are starting to ask when we'll have a pizza party! We all need to be patient; the oven will probably not be completed before next spring. But it's so worth the wait!!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Wood-Fired Oven ~ Taking Shape!

Now Randy, the handyman, finally got the form up. It's 14" above ground so it will be the same height as another deck I have beside the house. It does look odd, and big, in the middle of the yard but I'm hoping that once all is done around it, it should all make sense and look good. Everything is taking a loooonnnng time.....I have to learn to be more patient........and remember that to keep the cost down, I'm relying on Randy's help, on his time schedule.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Wood-Fired Oven ~ Now it's Really Starting!

Finally! The excavation is done but we were only able to go down 12" before hitting the shale rock. That could be a problem if I didn't plan to go 14" above ground.
I will also do some irrigation channels around the base to make sure there's no accumulation of water there in the fall and springtime. It's been quite flooded the past few years....
I read somewhere that the entire oven will weight 3 tonnes; hopefully, that's enough to keep the cement slab secure.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Wood-Fired Oven ~ the location!

Before marking the cement pad location, I had to think about the big picture and how I wanted everything to look, once all the components are done, in a few years. Also, after discussing with a few oven experts, I changed the orientation of the oven due to the prevailing winds. So the back of the oven will be what I will see when I step out of my kitchen but it will make the efficiency much better. The long line starting at the bottom left of the picture, is actually the boardwalk to build from my existing deck to the future outdoor kitchen. The large rectangle is the cement pad: 118" X 80". Once the oven is build, the heat is all contained and therefore will not affect the lilac tree just beside it. Unfortunately, the 2 small lilacs at the small furthest end of the pad will have to go.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Wood-Fired Oven ~ the beginning!

My project this summer is to build a wood-fired oven. It actually started in the winter time with the thinking process and it has broken ground last month. I first had to remove 2 pine trees that didn't not fit in the future landscape plan. Don't feel too bad; one was already sick and was in worst shape than last year. It was just a question of time.
The local handyman, Randy, is helping me and said the removal only look 15 minutes. When you have the right tools, everything works out faster and better! And he's helping me keeping the costs down by doing my work when he has some spare time, between 2 jobs. So far he's happy with the cold beer I gave him when he was doing landscape work on my neighbour's property, on a hot day!
So here's the photo after the trees were removed and I filled in the ground as best as I could. I think it's ok until I work on the overall landscape plan (maybe in a year or 2...) when I will even out the grounds properly.
I am using many sources for the building: Jim Wills from Mary G Artisan Breads, Alan Scott & Daniel Wing book "The Bread Builders" and Rado Hand with his web site Traditional Ovens. There's also many other sources of inspiration and advice and I will mention them as I go along.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Just impossible

to get ahead.... I received today my electricity bill and my new "budget monthly" amount has been increased by $43.00. I consider myself frugal with the energy: I keep the heat to a minimum all winter long, no air conditioning in the summer, I mostly live in the dark at night, TV is not on unless I'm actually watching it, I cook as much as possible on the propane BBQ grill and half the time, I not even home! How can it be $261.00 per month for a one-person household????
I already looked at my budget 2 week ago to slim it down and I just don't know where this money has to come from. Just depressing.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Storm Coming from the West

Can hear the thunder and see the lightnings, and it's getting increasingly dark. The rain should start any moment now....That might change my plans to drive around for yard sales this morning......

Saturday, April 4, 2009

There's Hope for Me!
Horoscopes for Saturday, April 4

If today is your birthday: A process has begun that will change your future potential beyond what you ever thought possible. It all hinges on a new attitude, a new perspective and a new vision that will soon inspire you.

Aries (March 21 — April 20)
Success is a simple case of being at the right place at the right time. People spend a lifetime trying to find this magical point in the space-time continuum. Don't entertain any doubts and you will be ready for a pleasant surprise.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Cambridge, MA

Great bookstore! I was in Cambridge earlier this month and was able to spend an hour checking out the treasures in the store's basement. I found great cooking books in pristine condition and a great find: "Joy of Cooking", 1975 edition for only $3.00!! Never been to Cambridge before but I will definetely try to spend more time in the Harvard Square area if I have another chance.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Morning Twilight

I never get tired of looking at it.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Great Combination!

A perfect lunch for a sunny February afternoon!
Multigrain baguette from Ace Bakery, still warm from the oven, with Lady Laurier d'Arthabaska soft surface-ripened cheese, topped with fresh dates. And blueberries to finish the lunch. The trick here is patience: this cheese is best at room temperature so you have to plan for it and take it out of the fridge ahead of time, otherwise you won't be able to enjoy its flavor and wonderful texture.

Turkey for Breakfast!

I used an extra large muffin mould to make a cup out of leftover stuffing and filled the inside with a beaten egg mixed with diced turkey meat and a dash of hot sauce, covered with grated old cheddar cheese and cooked in the oven for 15 minutes! Perfect! To make it more breakfasty, I had some red grapefuit quarters with it. It would be as good with cranberry sauce actually ~ humm that's an idea for a quick weeknight supper!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

I Love Turkey!

I've had a turkey in my freezer since New Year's day, waiting for cooperative weather to cook it on the BBQ. The mercury climbed to 7C this afternoon and the winds were low so it was perfect! With the Butterball stuffed turkey, I was able to cook it directly from the freezer, no need to thaw forever in the fridge, so it was perfect for my situation as I didn't know when the temperature would be mild enough to do my turkey feast!
This time, I followed a friend's advice and cooked it with the breast down so that the juices would flow down on the white meat, to keep it moist and juicy. Indeed, the meat very good! I only turned it for the last hour of cooking, to crisp the skin. My glaze was a mix of homemade plum jam -homemade by Mom with plums from her garden, thank you very much!- and crushed rosemary, simply delicious! I have to say that I was not disappointed by the Butterball stuffing; seasonned to perfection, very tasty and best of all, plenty of it!
Of course the greatest thing about cooking a whole turkey for one, is the leftovers! I'm already looking forward to a week of turkey lunches and soups!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Deep Fried Wonton

& Sweet and Sour dipping sauce!
I ordered the cooking DVD from LMT Cooking School and tried my first recipe tonight. Easy as 1-2-3 and delicious to boot! I could have filled the wontons a bit less but they were plump and tasty! Next time I do the sauce, I will make it a tab more sweet and a bit less sour. It was still very good and so much better than the sauce filled with the awful red dye we get at the restaurant. I even made a double recipe of the wontons but didn't deep fried them: I'll turn them into a soup tomorrow. With the snow storm we got again tonight, a warm soup will be ideal for a Sunday lunch!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Pizza du Jour!

I experimented with 3 different pizzas today. With my new Kitchenaid mixer, doing the dough is a breeze!
The first one was a canadian style with whole wheat crust: homemade tomato sauce, pepperoni, onions, peppers, mushrooms, bacon with mozzarella cheese. My next one is actually my favorite: rosemary crust, sauteed apples (I normally use pears, but none in the pantry right now...), bacon, caramellized onions and crumbled blue cheese on top. I don't even like blue cheese, but on this pizza, it's marvelous! And the last one was a tiny 7" light whole wheat crust with tomato sauce, spicy salami, fresh garlic, caramelized onions, mushrooms and mozzarella cheese. I added arugula on top after cooking.
And of course, all are cooked on the BBQ, in balmy -5C temperature!
But there can be too much of a good thing: I'm just about to OD on pizza right now! Bonny, you keel like sharing my leftovers for lunch tomorrow??