I began spraying General Finishes High Performance water-born gloss onto some trim and beam supports for the bay window. I really like the General Finishes product for this application. Everything has its use, whether oil or water based finishes. For something like this, with extreme UV exposure the water-born is the only way to go.
We wrapped up a knife block for my friend Jon this week using cherry and bocote with a tung oil finish. The cherry was a couple of left over scrap boards that were not in the best of shape, the adequate for a small project like this. I left all of the boring sanding work to Jon, and he shaped the legs on the belt sander. It turned out nice and now he has a place to park that $200 chef's knife.
People think slow cookers are boring. And people think brown ales are boring. Sorry to disappoint the preconceptions. Tonight I served a chicken and sweet potato stew along with a great $12 Malbec. The stew is super easy all I did was cube up sweet potato, red potato, half an onion, carrots and two boneless chicken breasts. Over that goes a 28oz can of whole stewed tomato (hand crushed) and a cup of chicken broth. Some white pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon finish off the flavor. Dessert was a Founders Brewing Sumatra Mountain. Their imperial brown ale made with coffee. Great way to start off Memorial Day weekend.
I should have the trim completed later today and then it will be time to spray. I am continuing with the two part process using Chemcraft's water based system for anything that is being exposed to the sun, or that has to match the beams. The "heart" brackets are ready for glue up and I think they are going to look really nice. Once the spraying is done on the trim I can install and then get the furniture in the front room back in place. Then comes the hard part, the construction of the four sliding panels. I have the cherry ready for pickup in Michigan, and I will try to get out there this week. I got a great deal from Hickory & Oak and they have been kind enough to hold it for me because of the emergency trip to China. But in the mean time I needed to mill up the old lumber and make room.
I fixed a lot of good meals during Annie's visit in April, but I think this one was the best. I found some wonderful fresh halibut at Whole Foods along with some purple potatoes. Jewel had zucc's on sale along with a white eggplant. The halibut was treated to an egg wash and then a coating of bread crumbs mixed with chopped sage and tarragon, then deep fried in peanut oil. The veggies were done with sea salt and white pepper. The purple potatoes were boiled and then pressed with a ricer along with butter.
We splurged on a 2010 Barolo and I learned something frightening. Women will tell you the weirdest things if they down a bottle of Barolo.
My dad was diagnosed with throat cancer back in December, only a week or so before I had to leave for China. I wasn't able to see him before I left, and then when I got back the issues in March kept me from going to Missouri for a visit. But once I got through the paperwork and meetings I took off for Missouri. My mom's computer had died on her so I built her a new one and took it with me to the farm. Just as I was leaving I found out that Annie would be returning to the US unexpectedly, so I had to cut the trip down to only a few days, but it was good to see my family. My dad is doing really well and it looks like he has the cancer beat.
The front window needs to be finished ASAP. Originally it was going to be done before Christmas but the emergency trip to China put that on hold. Now its time to dig in and get this done, plus its good therapy to keep my mind occupied while dealing with all of the financial issues etc that are part of life at the moment. The stained oak trim was put into place and the window sealed first.
Then the laminated cherry beams were finished and installed.
I sent Annie back to China with a nice dinner featuring white chili and fresh honey corn bread. Time to lay low on cooking for a while and concentrate on the house and getting it squared away.
One of my last nights in Beijing and I got a craving for pasta. This is a casserole using roasted vegetables and pasta with a homemade marinara sauce (we get some nice canned Italian tomatoes here), and then I top it with chopped sausage from Harbin.
It is a nice example of comfort food that goes well with a good red wine. This, a nice little desert and a movie night are all we need some times.
Dessert was a simple lemon loaf that I punched holes into and then covered in a Gran Marnier glaze. Its not beautiful, but it was very tasty. I don't always go all out every night with the full blown gourmet effort, sometimes its just a simple dinner for two.
We have been working on eating healthy and trying to stay away from eating in restaurants. When I am not in China Annie eats out almost every day, so when I am in Beijing we like to eat at home. Restaurant food is not only ridiculously expensive, its oily and you have no idea what is going on in a Chinese kitchen. Shopping in Beijing is not like in the US, first of all I do not have a car so everything has to be within walking distance. And second, there are no large grocery stores like in the US, instead you have little markets that do not always have everything you need. But with a little bit of patience and time I can usually create a good breakfast and dinner. The dinner almost always has leftovers and those get packed away for Annie's lunch the following day.
I really got into cooking Thai food this trip, or at least Thai style dishes. Almost all of my dinners have been some type of Asian style cuisine. It makes more sense to cook what is more easily available, and it is great practice with the wok!