Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Some recent housework

I've been sporadically working on my house, but obviously haven't been posting anything up here about it. Lately, I've decided I want to have my kitchen ready for use by the end of the summer. This means having the walls framed out, new electric run, new gas lines, new water lines, new drainage, new ceiling and lighting, a window replaced, a new back door, new sub floor, the random brick chimney vent in the roof removed and the roof fixed. That's a lot to do and considering I really only work on it one day a week, I don't know if I'll get all that done, but I will have most of it ready.

I started by cutting off the water to the kitchen and removing the old iron piping that ran from the water heater to the back of the house (the 2nd floor bathroom is run with PVC). In the process of getting rid of that pipe, I learned that I didn't have to cut it, it could easily be removed at any joint by simply pulling on it. I don't know how clear the picture below is, but I removed both of the connecting pipes without any tools; it's almost completely rusted inside. Makes me happy I rarely used the kitchen sink and even gave Chloe water from a Brita. I also removed all the gas lines going to the back of the basement (Stove/Dryer) and the one that was going to my non-existent furnace.

I took out the ceiling in the kitchen (no pictures of that though) except for the light. The next step was to remove the floor. I made a decision that I was going to lay an entirely new subfloor because I wasn't sure what type of flooring I wanted and this would be the easiest way to be ready for what ever is decided. This is the back wall of the kitchen before I started doing anything.

The first section I removed was a huge pain in the ass because I didn't really know the best method of cutting everything up. The floor consisted of the original 3/4" hardwoods from who knows how long ago, a linoleum type floor directly on that, another thin subfloor with another layer of linoleum and finally a third subfloor with more linoleum. If you remember back to the beginning, there was also a layer of laminate wood floors on top of this. I ended up cutting the floor into square-ish pieces and pulling them up with a wrecking bar (my new favorite tool). I was able to get a decent amount done in a short time and was happy that I could easily see the results.

The joists seem to be in good enough shape to re-use, which is good because I had no intention of replacing them. I'm going to lay a temporary floor so I don't fall through, and hopefully be ready to lay the permanent floor in a couple weeks.

My bi-annual attempt at cooking

I don't cook very often ... primarily because I don't have a kitchen at the moment, but also because it takes time to prepare everything and I just don't feel like doing that too often. I do enjoy cooking, and hopefully when I do have a kitchen again, I will do so frequently.

I had to throw together a simple meal for two and asked what I should make. "Chicken and vegetables" was the response I got so I decided to go with it and try to make something flavorful out of a bland base.

I wanted to marinate the chicken, but didn't have time to put everything together and decided to go with a rub (not sure if that's what its called but I'm OK with it) and just season the outside. Basically I made a mixture of balsamic and apple cider vinegar, olive oil, a healthy dose of rosemary, basil, finely chopped (minced?) onion and a spice mixture a family friend makes called The Heat (need to find his website, this stuff is great). I coated one side of the chicken and refrigerated it overnight, then flipped the pieces and coated the other side to sit while I was at work.

The mixture of vegetables I decided to go with was from a recipe on the Epicurious app I have on my iPad and I decided to add a couple things too. It consists of yellow squash, zucchini squash, eggplant, red peppers, portabella mushrooms and vidalia onions. The squash, eggplant and mushrooms were all cut lengthwise to make it easier to grill and I tried to cut the peppers in as large and flat pieces as I could. I only used the outer portion of the onions so they would be big enough for grilling. I coated each piece with some olive oil and basil since I didn't have the other ingredients the recipe called for (mint and sun dried tomatoes) and like basil a lot.

I grilled everything on relatively low heat except for when I initially put the chicken on so the spices would sear in a little bit. It took a while but I think it turned out well and kept the chicken juicy and didn't overly crisp the vegetables. I sliced up some fresh mozzarella over the vegetables and then drizzled some balsamic dressing over it.

All things considered, I really liked this and it didn't take very long to put together. The chicken definitely had some kick to it thanks to The Heat.

Chloe, the Bee Killer

Look closely at the below picture.

She was going crazy trying to catch the bee and I wanted to take a video, but didn't change my phone and ended up getting this picture instead. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.