Friday, August 28, 2009

Our house, in the middle of our street

I promise I'm not trying to be Pioneer Woman. I'm really not. It just sort of happened that she had a cooking blog, and then I made one, and then she added her home-remodel to her blog, and now I'm adding my home-building to this one. But she has sections I'll never have, like photography and homeschooling, so see? We're totally different.

But anyway, the point is that we're building a house and whether you like it or not, you're coming along for the ride. I don't really have the luxury of ruminating over color and fixture decisions, so I probably will never ask you what you think about granite counters vs. tile counters, or oak vs. maple, or brushed nickel vs. copper, I'll keep you posted on construction, color palates, and furniture choices. And once we move in, you guys can help me decorate.

To begin, here's our lot.

It's the 2nd biggest lot available in the development, but it's oddly shaped. Sort of triangular, but with a flat side instead of a point at one edge. There are a whole bunch of silly rules governing where on our lot we can build. Like, nothing can be built within 10 feet of the sidewalk, and the garage has to be 20 feet back from the street, and we have to have a two-car garage, and we can't build within 15 feet of the back property line. It all seems quite silly to me, but I suppose they have reasons. The property backs up to a "green space," which looks like it'll be a tiny wetland in the winter. On the other side of the blue house you can see is Highway 47. We can't hear it too much just standing on our lot, so when our house is built and we put trees in and get other houses going up next to us, we won't be able to hear it at all. Also, we'll only ever have neighbors on one side, but we'll have two neighbors on that one side. All in all, it's a great lot in a great location and we're exceptionally pleased with it.

I tried to upload the floorplans as well, but they're in PDF format and Blogger wouldn't let me. Just as well, I suppose, since they're not final. We need to add a fireplace and a coat closet, and we're going to see if we can tweak the garage a little so that we could put an office out there. We also want more windows in the kitchen. Things we LOVE about it so far: The placement of the stairs, at the back of the house; our HORMOUS master bedroom, which runs the entire length of the house, includes a walk-in closet the size of a dorm room and a bathroom bigger than any I've ever seen or heard of; the island/bar in the kitchen; and a pantry. I'm a happy girl.

So we're talking to the architect about the floorplans today. Once we get them to a place we're happy with, then we go out to Bend to pick colors/fixtures/counters/cabinets/etc. Once we're happy there, they tell us how much the house is going to cost. Then we scrap all our decisions and pick cheaper colors/fixtures/counters/cabinets/etc. In theory, that's all done within a week. Around that time, the lot will close and they can start construction. Then I set up camp across the street and watch my house go up.

Then we move in, break for Christmas, and come back in a frenzied whirlwind of activity to get the house ready for our New Year's Day housewarming party.

Should be a fun couple of months.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Rosemary-Garlic Chicken

Mmmmm....simple, easy, delicious.

Adapted from Martha Stewart's Great Food Fast cookbook.*
Two tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
One-quarter cup of olive oil
Two cloves of garlic
One lemon
Salt & Pepper
Chicken breasts, legs, thighs, wings, whatever.

In a small saucepan, bring a third-cup of water and the chopped rosemary to a boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let it steep for 5 minutes.

In a blender, add the garlic and olive oil and season with salt and pepper. (I decided not to use my blender, because it seemed like an awfully small amount of stuff to put in my giant blender; I've still never used my blender and it didn't seem worth it to pull down, unpack, clean, and then fit the blender in the dishwasher for such a small amount of stuff; and I had this handy dandy little perfect-sized food chopper that was a Christmas present from my mother-in-law, and I figured it would be perfect. Don't be like me. Use a blender.)

Add the rosemary-water and puree until smooth.

I made a mess.

Combine the chicken and the marinade in a zip-lock bag and let it marinate the desired amount of time (at least 15 minutes; I let it sit for 2 hours in the fridge).

Heat a grill to medium and let the excess marinade drip off the chicken. Baste it with the juice of one lemon while you grill it, turning occasionally, until cooked through, 10-30 minutes (depending on how many and what type of chicken pieces you use). Serve it with corn!

Do you know how to cook corn? Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 4 tablespoons of sugar, and boil the corn for 6 minutes. It's delicious!

Serves 4.
Takes 20 minutes of prep, plus cook time.
Difficulty: 2.

*This is a fantastic cookbook to have if you're an omnivore. It's a pretty dang good cookbook to have if you're vegetarian, but obviously there are a lot of meat dishes that you won't eat. At any rate, all the recipes are simple, relatively easy, and take just about as long as they say they do. (I always find that a recipe will take 10-15 minutes longer than it says it will, because they don't usually factor in chopping and getting-things-out-of-the-fridge time.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Flank Steak

I just finished eating this about 10 minutes ago, and it was unanimously declared delicious. And the bonus is that I don't feel nauseous! (Yet.) If I can keep that up, this recipe is a real winner. I didn't have the presence of mind to take pictures of any of it, but it's so simple that you don't need step-by-step instructions.

Adapted from Martha Stewart's 'Great Food Fast' cookbook
The juice of 4 limes
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons peeled minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
One and a half pound flank steak
Salt and pepper

In a zip-lock bag, combine all the ingredients and marinate the steak for 30 minutes or more (I did two hours). Remove, let the excess marinade drip off, and season with salt and pepper. Heat a grill to high, and cook 8-10 minutes until it's reached the desired doneness. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes, slice thinly, and dig in!

Serves 4.
Takes about 45 minutes.
Difficulty: 1.

P.S. I'm having varying degrees of success getting my stomach under control. The upside is that I'm ingesting lots more fruit and vegetables. The downside is that I've dreamed of nothing but cheese for the last 3 nights running. Anyone know any vegans or similar who know of a really good non-dairy cheese substitute? Something that tastes and acts like actual cheese? I'm desperate.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Hiatus explained


I apologize for my prolonged absence. I hadn't realized it'd been more than a month. Long story short, I've just found out that I'm pretty severely lactose intolerant and possibly allergic to wheat, as well. This last month has been an uphill struggle trying to figure out what I can and cannot eat and has therefore affected my cooking. I'll spare you the gory details of my stomach's rebellion, but suffice it to say that every day is a challenge and I feel ill most of the time.

However, I seem to have hit on a couple food groups that I can eat without feeling instantaneously nauseous, so I plan to be back in the swing of things come September. Until then, please bear with me and know that I have a delicious month in the works.

Until then,