Tuesday, April 20, 2010

giant pictures yesterday aside

...not much happening around these parts, lately.

oh, except we might be squandering some of our tax return on a new couch. because our existing couch, whilst lovely, is rather narrow and it's difficult for the both of us to be comfortably prone while watching the tube of the boob variety. and we LOVE BEING PRONE while watching the boob tube. also, we only have the one couch in the living room, which means that whenever we have people over (which is often), we all have to sit in a row...not good!

plus this store on the danforth is having a 20% off sale on custom couches so i think we're going to hit that up. the problem is...our living room is quite narrow so it's going to require some rejigging - mostly involving condensing down our bookshelves. i'm always in favour of getting rid of books anyway - but the dotytron is a known and recalcitrant pack rat who likes holding onto EVERYTHING in the universe. it's super annoying. i mean, really...how often do we re-read books? barely ever, that's how often.

therefore, for the next little while, our living room might be a bit of a cramped pen...but that's just the way it'll have to be until we get our basement dug out and finished and can turn that into the rumpus room/den. if we're finding that it's ridiculous, we can always sell the now old, formerly new couch and just stick with the new new one.

i also want to repaint the dining room cuz it's driving me crazy and has been driving me crazy for nigh on 7 months. it's a small job, really - more inconvenient than anything else - but once it's done, it'll be done - now it's just a matter of finding the right colour. we also have to do the switcheroo on all the doorknobs in the house and work on the garden. those are the immediate concerns that don't cost an awful lot of money.

in other news...i've got the travel bug, bad. specifically, i've got the travel to hawaii bug, bad. we both want to go back, like yesterday. that's a tough bug to scratch (mixed metaphors, much?) here's the thing - i was looking up vacations on red flag deals and at all inclusive resorts in the caribbean and it seems to me, that when you're at that kind of a place, where ALL YOU DO is sit at the resort, then you kind of want to be at least 4 star and up, because anything else is kind of skeevy looking and suspect. once you get into the 4 star and up range in countries that are actually remotely interesting (ie. not cuba or the dominican or cancun) then you're looking at spending a good chunk of change, once taxes and all the rest are factored in.

and if it's the difference of a grand, total, i'd rather go to hawaii. it's PERFECT there - it really, really is. there are places to explore (ie. you're not trapped at your hotel), breathtaking vistas, sights, and the food! the food!!! i was thinking that next year we might go to oahu, stay at a B&B (why anyone would ever stay at a hotel when you can stay at a B&B that's nicer, comfier, way more chill and less expensive, is beyond me), rent a cheap car (because we're not on the big island, we wouldn't need a jeep wrangler) and probably have a very nice vacation for under $1500 each. i love hawaiian food - we both do - i found a place in oahu that has a make your own poke bar (poke is basically chunks of raw fish mixed with ponzu, soy, and tobiko) and thinking about eating moco loco in a greasy diner somewhere is enough to make me hop on a plane right now. plus, i love hawaii because you feel less bad about exploiting the peoples (they're american!) and you have the regular, north american amenities and because everyone is so active outdoors, the place shuts down at 9pm. love it. love it love it love it.

b&bing it up in hawaii is basically me and the dotytron's perfect vacation. we love staying at places where your exposure to randoms is minimized. if i close my eyes, i can totally recall the feeling of driving through the big island with the windows down, smelling the insanely fresh air and listening to classic rock. i can totally picture it now - the two of us, zipping along in a little compact, the windows down, with some poke and a fresh fruit shake in our belly, going to watch surfers on the north shore. so perfect.

alas, it's but a pipe dream currently. we won't be doing anything about it until next year this time, at the earliest. we gotta save some monies and pour some more monies into the house and our debt first...but a gyal can dream, right?

tonight for dinner we had spaghetti, tossed with a long-simmered tomato sauce made from canned san marzano tomatoes with a big handful of basil thrown in at the last minute. the pasta was topped with a spoonful of homemade ricotta, which in turn was drizzled with chili oil and sprinkled with fleur de sel and pepper. so good! we also had a fake caesar salad with croutons.

homemade ricotta is dead-easy to make and it tastes amazing - your yield sucks though...1L of whole organic milk and a 1/2 cup of cream makes approximately 1 c. of ricotta.


homemade ricotta
yields approximately 1 cup ricotta

1 L whole milk
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/4 t. salt
1 1/2 T. lemon juice

- combine the milk, cream, and salt in a heavy saucepan.
- line a colander (i just used a fine-mesh strainer) with cheesecloth and set it in a large bowl. measure out the lemon juice and set it aside.
- bring the milk mixture to a simmer over medium high heat, stirring occasionally with a spatula to prevent scalding. once the mixture is simmering, add the lemon juice and stir gently with the spatula.
- let the mixture sit for about 1 minute, turning down the heat slightly so it stays at a simmer but doesn’t reach a boil.
- stir with the spatula after about 1 minute, then let it sit another minute until it looks like most of the liquid has separated into curds and whey.
- drain the mixture into the cheesecloth-lined colander set over a bowl, and let it drain at room temperature until you get the desired consistency.
- transfer the ricotta to an airtight container and refrigerate.

notes: i felt that you could have upped the salt in this recipe, at least double. i'm going to try that next time. we drained ours for about 30 minutes and it was very firm (you can see that it almost quenelles in the picture above - if you wanted it creamier, i'd check it and stir it after 15 minutes of draining - it's up to you what your desired consistency is.

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