Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Word from the wise

Quick food related post:

I made roast chicken tonight for the first time since the spring. I love roasted chicken. Juicy and rich and oh so good. Simple and easy.

I was making the gravy and I poured in the cornstarch and water mix to thicken it. It bubbled and foamed which I thought was pretty odd, but it had been a while since I made gravy so I didn't think much about it.

I'm stirring and stirring and the gravy isn't thickening at all. That's also odd. Too odd. I thought to myself - could the cornstarch have gone bad and lose it's thickening power? Not likely. It was only then that I turned to the cornstarch box to give it a look.

Now, in our house we keep the corn starch and the baking soda in their boxes a big ziplock bag so they don't' take on the flavors of the pantry. I had just grabbed the bag and taken out the box. Except it was the wrong box. No wonder the gravy foamed!

What to do now? Is it ruined? What would baking soda do to gravy? I quickly add the cornstarch and let it thicken before taking a tentative taste. Yuck - it tasted like salty chickeny soap. Different methods are going through my head about fixing it - the best one I could think of to neutralize the baking soda was vinegar. I poured in a couple of glugs of a some nice cider vinegar and watched the foam rise again. I take another tentative taste. No dice, now it tastes like acidic salty chickeny soap.

We ate out chicken, carrots, squash and tomatoes without gravy tonight. It was still good.

Aside 1: I just found out my grandmother has contracted West Nile in southern Manitoba. Prayers would be appreciated.

Aside 2: Take a gander at my flickr page - the photos I took this past weekend turned out pretty good.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Speedy return!

I tried my hand at some long exposure shots this weekend. This is what I got.

See those two purple blotches? No, that's not aliens, that's my camera sensor screwing up and inserting light where there is none.

So my beautiful d70s is off to the shop to get repaired. I hope.

[Update - the next day]

So it turns out that
a) This purple splotch thing is common. It's called Amp Glow and it a design defect in the camera. It can't be fixed.
b) Blacks Photography didn't know this and was going to send the camera to be fixed anyways. Booo.
c) There is a setting on the camera that can help. It basically takes a second picture with the shutter closed and then does a subtraction from the original.

So I have my camera back and it is still defective (but I can live with it until i can afford a D300)

Labour weekend

The plan:

1) Take Friday off
2) Head up to the cottage early Friday morning
3) Spend a couple of hours digging plumbing trenches at the cottage
4) Spend the rest of the weekend relaxing, swimming, fishing, boating, photographing, eating
5) Drive back Monday

What actually happened:

Tara needed to finish up a grant proposal Friday morning and we found out that my sister-in-law Laura (and husband Tim) needed a last bit of help moving a load from their old apartment to their new one. A perfect fit we thought - I could help Laura and Tim move, Tara could finish up the grant and we would be on the road by noon.

We didn't count on two things: the amount of time it takes to get an handful of signatures at OVC the Friday before the long weekend, and the amount of time it takes to pack and move 'just the left overs' half way across Hamilton. There was 3 loads of packing and moving and 51 stairs to the new apartment. Laura, Tim and I were done at 6:15 Friday evening, just 30 minutes after Tara was. So after a quick Ice Cap at Tim Horton's (and watching a guy who was obviously way more stressed than us yell at the staff at said Tim Horton's for making him wait 25 minutes for a coffee) we were on the road.

At the cottage (which looks like it is going to be amazing by the way) we found out that the fill that was put into the basement wasn't compacted before frame went up. This meant that the support poles holding up the building were falling over. One fell 3 different times. The sand needed to be compacted.

Thankfully Mr. Mathews from the cottage over had a backhoe and Dave had rented a compactor. The rest of the weekend was spent digging 10'x10' holes 8-12' deep, jumping in with the compactor and a shovel and compacting the sand while the backhoe kept dumping more in until we go to the top. Then it started all over again with another hole... We had fans blowing air in and out so we didn't get CO or CO2 poisoning and someone was watering down the sand so it would compact really well.

And that is how I spent my weekend. Oh ya - plus a couple of accidents on the 400 necessitated us to take the long back way home, making the trip from the lake to our home 7.5 hours (including a brief stop at the barn to see Lego).

But I'm not complaining. At all. Seriously - I had a great time with Tim and Laura helping them move. Spirits were kept pretty high even though we were sweating bullets. I got to learn the importance of compacting the ground before you frame a house. I got to learn how to use a compactor in tight quarters and by the end I was doing a half decent job. I got a evening to shoot some pictures and sit around the camp fire. The weather was amazing (warm, breezy, zero bugs) and the one dip I took in the lake was very refreshing.

(The only thing I didn't do was learn how use a backhoe. Maybe next time Tara's folks build a cottage...)

Yes, thinking back on the weekend I don't think I'd change a thing.

The inside of the cottage in the big room upstairs. The kitchen will be on the right, the wood stove in the middle and the dinning room table on the left.

Our sleeping accommodations for the weekend. No windows, but better than sleeping on roots and rocks

The bulk of the time was spent here. That's me spraying down the sand (it compacts better wet). That's Dave in the corner with the compactor

Taffy chasing after a ball through in the water.

Laura up on a wakeboard after a hard day of working.

Maple from next door just cooling off in a hole he dug for herself (in one of the many sand piles).

Beautiful sunset.

Big (or little) little dipper watching over us as we relax by the fire.

Big (BIG!) dock spider. And her itsy-bitsy babies.