Friday, March 1, 2013

It Burns! It Burns!

How do you piss off a malamute? By transforming your once frigid house into a furnace with an insulated roof and a gas insert. Mingus thinks we suck, but Fifty-Fifty thinks we're the best people ever.  You win some, you lose some.

We're coming up on 10 years in this old house, and there were some project that were always earmarked "nice to have" but not "need to have," so these projects were oftentimes scoped out, then promptly abandoned. Four years ago, we visited a fireplace insert store in the hopes of knocking off a "nice to have" project, and the whole experience reminded me of buying a used car. I hated it, and I was so turned off by both the sticker shock and the sales technique that I decided that walking around the house like the Michelin man wasn't such a bad thing.

Near the end of January, I was tired of being cold. Again, we went shopping for a fireplace insert, and this time we found a place that was upfront with their prices. Since we were putting in an insert, it would be the perfect time to update the ugly, smoke-stained tile on the fireplace surround, right? So, in one really long day where I had earmarked for a hike and a pedicure, I instead spent 7 hours chipping off tile with a mallet and a spackling tool. The boy was supposed to help me, but he had a last-minute meeting in Seattle, leaving me to do all the work the day before we had contractors scheduled. Ugh, those 7 hours were made extra miserable by bad television and numb hands. Judge Judy really bugs me, and Mario Batali is a smug man who shouldn't wear orange crocks, shorts, or put his hair in a ponytail. 

For those friends who haven't seen me in ages, sorry, but I'm content to hang out in front of the fireplace most evenings.  And since I'm still in my cocktail phase, I'll be drinking something delicious like an apricot flip. That fireplace makes me very, very happy.

A second batch of kombucha is brewing now, this time with some fancy tea the boy bought me in Taiwan. Normally, I'd feel guilty about using it, but since it has been sitting in the pantry for years, I figured this was better than throwing it away. My first batch made with jasmine tea is sitting in bottles, hopefully getting fizzier by the day. My preliminary taste tests have been positive.

Pressure cooked 6 bean soup uses up those annoying leftover dried beans

How to feed two people homemade meals who have limited time? That has been the question for as long as we've been together, and we never quite nail it. As our standards for healthy, tasty meals go up, the more time is needed. In addition to the pressure cooker, slow cooker, weekend cooking marathons, an arsenal of cookbooks, and our produce CSA, we recently added a meat CSA.

Kale from our garden, right before their massage
Split Rail Family Farms has a booth at our local farmers market, and that's where I pick up my box. This is our first week, and we are in love! I made a goat and carrot stir fry with cumin and dried chilies on Monday, and last night we had pork osso bucco that I braised with bacon, sauerkraut, leeks, green garlic, potatoes, and beer. I didn't have to go to the market to pick up any ingredients, which is part of the time saving master plan. The trickiest thing to remember is to defrost the meat a day ahead of time. The CSA provides enough meat for 2 meals a week, but the portions are so generous that we're finding it's more like 3-4 meals a week.

To help with meal planning, I used my phone to take pictures of each meat, and as we consume it, I delete the photo. This keeps me from standing with the freezer door open, staring for minutes at the contents. If the contents of the refrigerator weren't so dynamic, I'd adopt this system for it as well.

So, to those of you out there who like to eat meals made from scratch, yet have multiple obligations (everybody, right?), what tips and tricks have you picked up along the way to make sure you're not eating out all the time? Please, please share in the comments section!

Ethan, your mom is on to you! Go home!
February wasn't all work, fortunately.  Due to unusually warm weather, our annual snow trip to Arnold and Bear Valley turned into a biking and skiing trip. The XC skiing was fine, although a lot of the trails were closed, and the biking was awesome. What would have made that trip even better would be a ban on burning yard waste - the air was thick with pine needle smoke.

I know we need more rain and snow. I really do. However, I am loving this weather! Now that the days are longer and I no longer commute both ways to work in the dark, everything is better. I even have my knitting mojo back! Expect to see a completed cardigan soon.


  1. Poor Mingus! He doesn't have to sit right on top of the fireplace though, so I don't think he thinks you suck that much.

  2. Your meat CSA looks great. I may have to give that a shot. Could visit you when I pickup!

  3. We may be able to work out a trade: Milo in exchange for Mingus.

    I rarely set my furnace above 60 (yes, I live in Colorado) so my house is often FREEZING. Luka, of course, loves it, but Milo thinks I'm the second coming of Satan. He spends all of his time burrowed deep in the covers of my bed.



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