Saturday, February 27, 2010

House-sitting weeks

I've been feeling a lot older this past week.  I was asked to house sit for couple of weeks. There's a catch though, I am not alone, I am watching the house and the teenaged boy that lives here, too. His mom was worried about him having a girl over or having parties so I'm keeping things calm here.

At first, I wasn't sure if I would be cooking for him or if he would be cooking for himself. My assumption was that we would take turns cooking dinner, that was a silly thought of me! Two nights in a row he said he already ate dinner, but on the second night when I offered him a plate of food I made and he scarfed it down like he was starving, I thought maybe I should be cooking more for him or he won't eat well.  Plus, his friends like to go to McDonald's and I would like to prevent him from doing the same.

Last Friday, a lot of his friends came over for a bit. One of them casually suggested I could buy alcohol for them. I laughed. I knew that was coming! It wasn't the least bit hard to say no to that.

The next day, I joined a few of them on a hike up Gavin hill and all the way across the ridge to Harbor mountain and then down. My pictures on this post will be from that hike. My camera cord is at my apartment, so I only have cell phone pictures to post right now.

The house-sitting fun continued when the next few days in a row the girl "friend" was brought over. I felt like a single parent: cooking dinner every night and trying to make dinner so good that McDonald's would not even be considered.  One night, I made Italian steaks from a recipe book here.  The next night I improvised with the little bit of leftovers from the steaks to make enchiladas.  I sliced the steaks into strips and used my dad's technique of mixing sour cream and milk for a sauce to cover the meat, I also added some hot sauce to spice it up a bit.  I rolled the steaks and sauce up in tortillas and covered those with the remaining sauce and some grated cheese. There weren't any leftovers from that!

The next night, I felt like moving away from steak as the focus and I had never made macaroni and cheese from scratch (by myself) so I found a really good recipe from Alton Brown on The Food Network's website. The recipe called for some ingredients I had never used: powdered mustard, paprika... I guess that is it, I was going to also mention a bay leaf, but I had used one of those in a custard I made in college. I was surprised to find the ingredients here in this house, because I have never purchased powdered mustard or paprika. I added some sausage to the macaroni and cheese, too. It was so delicious that I was tempted to make it again the very next night!

Wednesday nights are too busy for me to cook a big meal since I go right from work to church to play piano and I usually don't leave till half past seven. I can only hope McDonald's was not eaten.

For Thursday night, I decided to try something unusual, and that turned out to be cheeseburger pie. It was pretty good! It had a real pie crust, ground beef, onions, and cheese in the middle and a pizza-type sauce on top.  There was a little leftover beef and onion mixture leftover as well as pizza sauce, and I used those to make breakfast burritos the next day.

Friday night, which was last night, was mostly a cleaning night.  I had leftover cheeseburger pie and cleaned while the son of the house was at a friends' house.  Then, about 11:30 he called and asked if he could have friends over. Feeling that I have no authority or reason to say no, I said, "Yes, of course." Then he said, okay well the parents of said friends want to meet you so they are coming over. The dad of one of the friends came into the house and introduced himself to me, and he said, "Are you the responsible adult?" I said, "Yes, I am." And he told me some rules he had for his son, I assured him that his rules were understood. It was a funny feeling to be responsible for four high school boys.

This morning, I made eggs and bacon.  Before everyone was awake, they were gone.  I made another round of eggs and bacon.  Those were soon gone as well.  I ran out of milk.  I ran to the store.  I made waffles.  I also did some experimental hot chocolate.

Cooking experimentation for oneself is a whole lot different than cooking experimentation for four adolescents. I have been missing my coffee maker this past week and I thought hot chocolate sounded like a good substitute. I didn't want to be selfish and only make it for me so I thought I'd make enough for everyone. I found some bakers' chocolate and threw in six squares to begin melting. It was a lot of squares because by the time I added sugar, cinnamon, and all the milk the pot was full!  So for each mug, I poured a little milk then added the hot chocolate and then the whipped cream. The addition of the cold milk to the super hot chocolate made the drink the perfect temperature and about the perfect proportion of milk to chocolate, too.

About the same time as the hot chocolate, I had this fruit syrup mixture going for the waffles. My dad taught me how to make syrup years ago. I boil sugar and water till it goes clear and then I add vanilla extract. I had two packages of frozen strawberries in mixing bowl and I pour the boiling syrup over the berries. The syrup mixes with the fruit juices and tastes so good. I take a waffle and pour some of the syrup over the waffle, then I cover it with whipped cream, then I scoop the berries onto the whipped cream.

After writing that last paragraph, I plugged the waffle iron back in, I'm going to have another waffle even though I am very full. Here is the waffle recipe from The Food Network's Emeril Lagasse, in case you are hungry for waffles, too.  For the first time, I used an electric mixer to fluff up the egg whites, and it made quite a difference!

The plan for lunch was bacon and tomato sandwiches but seeing how it is now quarter to three, it might be more of a dinner plan. In the mean time, I have a kitchen to clean.
Self-portrait :)
Waffle with strawberry topping and whipped cream

Monday, February 15, 2010

We got funding for another year!

Hi.  I haven't really ever written details on this blog about my plans or the status of my employment/service.  Mostly because the majority of readers is family and they know my plans, but now it seems there are no readers so I can just talk about whatever.  SAGA is the umbrella organization for lots of non-profit programs including YABAH, which I have been apart of for 10 months now.  SAGA has decided to let YABAH go as they felt it was not in the best interest of their organization to oversee the continuation of YABAH.  Since then, the director of our program, Karen, has applied for grants independent of any host organizations.  She received notice this week that the grant has been approved!  Details will need to be worked out, but this means I will doing whatever I can to help make another year and another house completed.

On another note, I've been looking into my adventurous departure from Alaska along with a project that will begin hopefully in March.  I will not give you any details, but I will show you what books I have recently purchased.  :)

Monday, February 8, 2010

The House

The house is coming along nicely.  We're nearly finished with the decks.  They're looking pretty sweet.  We're also nearly finished with the siding.  After that, we will move on inside and do the tongue-and-groove pine ceiling, cabinets, and flooring.
These are the pump jacks that we use to work a whole side of the house. They are much easier than using scaffolding that you have to move back and forth and watch out for the soffit when moving it.  All you have to do is set them in place, anchor them to the roof and then stand on the plank and pump up with your foot.
These are two pictures of the deck.  As you can see, it wraps all the way around to a door coming out of the garage.