Home Improvements…

…and other ways to betterment.

Okay…I guess it isn’t officially a home improvement if you don’t own a home and you’re not the one doing the improvement.  Apartment perks?  Whatever it is…I think I like it.  Or at least I will after the plaster has been replaced, the holes filled in, and a new coat of paint brushed on.  

My apartment building has a new owner.  Someone who actually has intentions to bring this building into the 21st (if not very late 20th) century.  But this isn’t going to be pretty.  I’m trying to look ahead and not be too annoyed by the mess, noise, and inconvenience in the meantime.  

Today, for instance.  It’s new window day.  I’m hoping the new four out of five will be installed before the crew leaves today.  I know the fifth one won’t be done for awhile.  So far, they’re still working on the first two.  The kitchen and bathroom.  Supposedly, the two in the bedroom will be easy peasy pop out and pop in affairs.  

I have quite the gaping hole in the kitchen.  The upside will be not just a new window, but a new and bigger window.  Considering how much I love the late afternoon light that comes in that window, I think I’ll be a happy camper once it’s in.  But for now…this is what I have:  

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I also have three cats in various states of freak-outted-ness.  Suki and Lucky have pretty much stayed under the bed (though I can’t wait to see what happens when the men are working in there).  Lucky occasionally forays out long enough to pad her way to the edge of the kitchen with a ‘WTF?’ look on her face and when the nail gun goes off or they start hammering away, she goes tearing down the hallway and scurries under the bed again.  Holly, on the other hand, is completely unfazed.  There is an awful lot of noise going on in my bathroom, a strange man in there, with another strange man hanging in the window, and she’s sprawled flat out in front of the door, like she is every day.  

Before the mess and noise ensued in my kitchen, yesterday I found an excuse to use the Cousances dutch oven I picked up thrift shopping a couple of Saturdays ago.  I’m not sure why I crave soup so much in the Summer, but I do.   I also made ricotta yesterday morning, so the base of this soup is the whey.  You can easily swap out chicken or vegetable stock.  

Carrot and Ginger Soup 

Serves 4

2 1/4 cups whey or vegetable stock

2 cups water

8-10 medium carrots, cut in chunks

2 cloves garlic, sliced thin

1 tbsp grated ginger

1 medium red potato, cut in chunks

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 cup milk

In a large pot, add whey, water, carrots, garlic, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a boil, lower heat to medium high, add potato and leave on a low boil under carrots are tender.  Turn off heat.  With an immersion blender or regular blender, blend soup until smooth, gradually adding milk.  Additional salt and pepper to taste, if you like.  You could also top with a dollop of creme fraiche or Greek yogurt.  

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An Exercise in Frequency

Okay…I’m going to give myself a little test.  Since I spend a lot more time on my other blog and I’m feeling guilty about the lack of time I spend here, I’m going to try a little experiment.  I have seen on quite a few blogs around the internet that once a week the bloggers post a Top Five or Top Ten list.  It varies from their favourite recipes of the week to things that inspire them or any top lists of favourites.  I like that idea.  If nothing else, you may learn a little more about me and you might find yourself tempted to comment (which is always welcome!).  And with a little nudge on my end…it should get me in gear to write more here.  Sound good?   Good!  Let’s go!

My Top Five 20 July 2013

1.  Summer tomatoes.

Are there really any other kind of tomatoes?  I went to the farmers market this morning and came home with half a dozen heirlooms and a handful of grape tomatoes.  I was popping those little ones into my mouth in no time.  I am trying my hand at growing tomatoes for the first time this year and I have three on my vines, one that is well on being ripe soon.  I cannot wait.

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2.  A touch of East Coast weather in Los Angeles.

The humidity has been a little higher here than usual, though not too bad.  But today, the cloud cover came in mid-afternoon, the breeze kicked up big time and at one point I looked outside and thought to myself, ‘This could be rain.’  Alas, it wasn’t…at least not here.  Redlands, San Bernadino…yep…they got a thunderstorm or two.  I’m a little jealous.

3.  White, twinkling Christmas lights.

Of course, strands of white Christmas lights aren’t just for the Christmas tree anymore.  I have a strand along the archway between the kitchen and the living room.  Some nights I don’t put on the lamp in the living room and just have the glow of those lights.  They may not twinkle, but I love their ambiance.

4.  Ladyfingers.

Not only are they vital for tiramisu, but they are delicious right out of the package.  I’m partial to the imported Italian ones.  They are fabulous used as a crust for little pies or for a crumb topping.  My favourite way to use them though is right out of the package, dipped in homemade jam, and put right into my mouth.

5.  Vintage flatware.

It’s not that new flatware doesn’t have great patterns, but there’s something about the look, the feel, the patina on older pieces.  Though why is it so difficult to find spoons?  Plenty of knives and forks to be found.

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