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NEWFOOD FRIDAY FLASH – STRATA

25 Apr Crab Strata with Apricot Preserves

Is it me or does the word “strata” make you think you’re going to see a Fellini movie? Or, is that only if you’re a movie buff?  If you’re a science buff, maybe it makes you think of outer space as in stratosphere? Or, if you’re in the military, maybe it makes you think of strategy as in strategic maneuvers? I have wanted to try strata for a long time but it’s made with leftover or stale bread. When do I ever have leftover or stale bread? Never! So, in order to make this strata, I had to bake extra bread just so I could have “leftovers.”  Since I like to kill two birds with one stone (gee that sounds violent), I decided to make brioche, a French bread that I’ve always wanted to make but didn’t because I thought it was too inconvenient. I didn’t have the right “tools” for the job. But then I found a recipe for brioche that called for a 9 x 5 loaf pan. Now that I had! I made the brioche, I had leftover bread, and then I made strata in time for this month’s New Food Friday Flash.

 

Strata is made with bread, eggs, milk, and cheese. You can add just about anything to it. It’s similar to a bread pudding. I found this recipe for crab strata and I halved it because I wasn’t sure I would like it.

 

I also have a very old recipe I cut out from a magazine for spinach cheese strata but I’ve yet to make it. If you want the recipe, just leave a comment and I will give it to you. Here is the recipe for the crabmeat strata. It can be prepared up to 24 hours in advance.Crab Strata

 

Ingredients:

Butter

6 thick slices white bread cut into cubes

2 (6-oz.) cans crabmeat or 1 lb fresh

1 cup shredded gruyere cheese

1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

4 scallions rough chop

6 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 ½ cups milk

2 tablespoons dry sherry or apply juice

1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

 

Butter a 2 qt. casserole dish. In a large bowl, mix the bread, crabmeat, cheeses, and scallions. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Pour into the casserole, cover, and chill for 2 to 24 hours.

 

Heat the oven to 350. remove the cover from the casserole and bake for 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.Slice of Crab Strata

 

Variations:

Replace crabmeat with canned red salmon, drained.

Replace crabmeat with ½ cup cooked small shrimp, 2 chopped hard-boiled eggs and 2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley.

Replace 1 can crabmeat with 1 can tuna, drained.

Omit crabmeat altogether. Substitute 1 cup cooled and sliced mushrooms and ½ cup cooked, chopped leeks.

Replace crabmeat with smoked, chopped mackerel, bones removed. Add 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped.

This recipe is taken from the book, “500 breakfast & brunch dishes” by Carol Beckerman

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NEW FOOD FRIDAY FLASH – THE COLOR PURPLE, AND ORANGE, AND YELLOW, AND …..

18 Mar nature-1319505

When I think of a stew, I usually think of a stew with meat. This, however, is a meatless stew. It’s unusual in that one of the ingredients is coconut milk. This recipe is taken from the book, “Eating By Color.” It’s a beautifully illustrated book and categorized by the color of the fruit or vegetable. I’ve been trying to increase the vegetables in my diet which is why this is my choice for this month’s New Food Friday Flash.

 

This stew is a curried dish but I didn’t make it very hot or spicy because I cut back on the amounts shown below. Maybe next time I will use the full amounts. This dish makes a generous sauce and I just love a juicy, saucy dish. You can serve it over rice. If you’re worried that it’s going to taste like a coconut, don’t worry. It doesn’t. You won’t notice the coconut flavor at all.

Ingredients

3 T butter

½ cup chopped onion

2 carrots chopped

1 parsnip, peeled and chopped

1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped

½ head cauliflower, chopped into florets

1 ½ tablespoon flour

Salt and Pepper

1 ½ teaspoons coriander seeds crushed

1 ½ teaspoons fennel seeds crushed

1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric

1 ½ teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth

1 can (14oz) coconut milk

Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)

 

Sauté the onion in the butter-2 minutes. Add the carrots, parsnip, sweet potato, and cauliflower and continue to cook-10 minutes. I used a whole head of cauliflower because it was a small one.

 

In a small bowl, mix the flour, coriander, fennel seeds, turmeric, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle all over the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until the flour mixture begins to stick to the bottom of the pan and brown-3-4 min. (But don’t burn it!) Add the chicken broth and stir to scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot, then stir in the coconut milk.

 

Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cover. Place in the oven and bake at 400° until the vegetables are tender – about 25 minutes. Serve hot and enjoy!

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NEW FOOD FRIDAY FLASH – RUTABAGA

19 Feb stock-photo-2650963-rutabagas

You’ve probably heard of rutabaga and you may have even tried it a time or two. Well, it’s time to revisit rutabaga because I found a recipe combining rutabaga and sweet potato and it’s delicious!  So, guess where it’s going? That’s right, in my February New Food Friday Flash post!

 

I came across the creator of this recipe while watching a cooking show on PBS. The chef’s name is Annabel Langbein. She combines foods in a way that you wouldn’t think of and the final product turn out great! I found several books in my local library containing her recipes. Her rutabaga sweet potato combination is uncomplicated, delicious, and good for your health too.

 

Rutabaga can sometimes be confused with turnips but rutabaga is typically larger. If turnips grow as large as a rutabaga, you should not buy them because they will be a bit woody. Not so with the rutabaga. It is a relative to the mustard family. It is sometimes called Swedish or Russian turnip, or swede and is widely cultivated in cool, moist regions of the northern hemisphere for its large, elongated roots, with solid yellow or white flesh, eaten not only by us folks but also enjoyed by livestock. Like the turnip, the rutabaga contains about 90 percent water so if you are on a diet, you can eat as much rutabaga as you like!

 

The rutabaga has a somewhat mildly bitter taste, but when combined with sweet potato, the bitter and the sweet contrast well together. If you want to make this recipe really low calorie, omit the butter and cream. I omitted the cream but not the butter.

 

Ingredients

½ lb rutabaga, cut into 1” slices

1 lb orange-fleshed sweet potato, cut into 1” slices

¼ cup Chicken stock (or more)

1 teaspoon fresh minced thyme

2 Tablespoons butter (optional)

Salt and pepper to taste

Cream (optional)

 

Preheat oven to 350°. In a baking dish, combine the sweet potatoes, rutabaga, and chicken broth. Slice the rutabaga and sweet potato into 1” slices or smaller if you have the time and the patience. The smaller the pieces, the quicker it will cook. The first time I made this, I used less sweet potato and tasted more of the rutabaga. The second time I made it, I used the recipe amount of sweet potato and didn’t taste the rutabaga at all. So, if you like it sweeter, go with the recipe version. If not, reduce the amount of sweet potato.

 

Sprinkle with the thyme, salt and pepper and turn to mix well. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake until vegetables are tender, about 1 ½ hours. (I raised the heat so it didn’t take as long.)

 

Add the butter, and cream if you are using it and mash with a potato masher. I used my immersion blender and added a bit more chicken stock. Beat until fluffy. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. After you taste it, try not to eat the whole thing! It will be a challenge!

 

I can’t wait to make this again. Try it. I think you will like it too!

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NEW FOOD FRIDAY FLASH – BOBOTIE

15 Jan apricot-halved-1329341-1598x1067

I was tossing out old magazines and I stopped short when I saw this recipe in a magazine called Journey. I don’t often see a recipe that comes from South Africa but when I saw this one for Bobotie, I knew I had to post it in my blog. I’m not sure of the pronunciation because I’ve seen it pronounced several ways on the Internet, but I’m going with “Bobootie.”  South Africans enjoy spicy Eastern flavors, including Indian curries and Malayan spices, Dutch and English foods, and traditional African dishes. This Bobotie is one of South Africa’s most-loved dishes. It’s a combination of sweet and savory served casserole style. Note that there are no vegetables in this recipe, only fruits! Maybe your children will like it! In any case, it’s my choice for this month’s New Food Friday Flash.

 

Ingredients

2 large onions

2 Tablespoons butter

1 thick slice white bread

1 cup milk

2 lbs ground lamb or beef

2 ½ Tablespoons strong curry powder

1 teaspoon turmeric

2 tablespoons apricot jam

¼ cup sliced almonds

¼ cup lemon juice (or vinegar)

2 teaspoons salt

½ teaspoon white pepper

¼ cup seedless raisins

1 green apple, grated (or substitute carrots)

10 dried apricots, soaked & diced (or ¼ cup raisins)

4 dried bay or lemon leaves

2 eggs

 

Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 350F. lightly fry the onions in the butter. Soak the bread in half the milk and mash with a fork.

 

Mix the meat with all of the ingredients except for the eggs, the rest of the milk and the bay or lemon leaves.

 

Put the mixture in an oven proof dish. Push the bay leaves into the top of the mixture. Cover and bak for about 45-60 minutes, depending on size of dish.

 

Beat the eggs and remaining milk together and pour over the meat. Slightly lift it to allow the egg to run into the bobotie.

 

Bake until brown on top (about 15 – 20 minutes.

 

Garnish with additional bay leaves.  Serves 8 – 10.

 

This recipe is a great way to get more fruit into your diet. Traditionally this is served with yellow rice made with rice, turmeric, raisins, almonds, and cloves. A tasty, different meal that is very good for your health!

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NEW FOOD FRIDAY FLASH – GREEK CREAM CHEESE

20 Nov Peppers

I’m always looking for foods that contain calcium. One new product is a cream cheese, the other is an old standby, buttermilk.

Let’s do the new product first. Green Mountain Farms has created “Greek Cream Cheese & Greek Yogurt” for the conscientious consumer: you and me!  Where most cream cheese has only 2 – 4% calcium (I know, you would think there is more calcium in cream cheese), Green Mountain Farms’ cream cheese contains 8% calcium.

NOTE: In case of any confusion, this cream cheese contains Greek yogurt. It is one product. The full name is Green Mountain Farms Greek Cream Cheese & Greek Yogurt.

Bonus: when you buy Green Mountain Farms Greek Cream Cheese, the package contains a $.55 coupon inside so be careful when you open it. I’ve torn the coupon each time and had to tape it together. An 8 oz bar costs $2.18 at Wal-Mart. Make sure you use your coupon!

Coupon

Coupon for Greek Cream Cheese

Two tablespoons of Green Mountain Farms Greek cream cheese is only 60 calories. Compare that to butter where two tablespoons is 200 calories! The cream cheese is a much healthier choice.

I couldn’t tell you what it tastes like plain because I “doctor” it up. Here is a delicious dip recipe that I created using most of the ingredients from the Philadelphia Jalapeno Cream Cheese label.

Ingredients

8 oz bar of Green Mountain Farms Greek Cream Cheese

¼ teaspoon onion powder

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

1 finely chopped Serrano pepper (I prefer Serrano to Jalapeno)

1 teaspoon vinegar

dash salt (optional)

dash sugar (optional)

Mash all together well. If the consistency is too thick, add a bit more vinegar. I didn’t add the salt or the sugar the first time I made it. I did the second time I made it and didn’t think there was any improvement so I will be leaving them out from now on. If you like things very hot, add the ribs of the Serrano pepper. When you’re done chopping, wash your hands very well. I washed my hands twice after making this dish. Later on, while watching TV, I rubbed my eyes and yes, they started burning from the pepper! I continuously rinsed my eyes with cold water until the burning stopped. Boy, that was a surprise! So heed the warning!

This cream cheese dip goes great with Sweet Potato and Onion Brown Rice Triscuits.

Now for the buttermilk news.

Did you know that a one-cup serving of Kroger’s Low Fat Buttermilk contains 40% calcium? I don’t know about you, but I don’t think of calcium when I think of buttermilk. And yet, I should! We should!

Alas, even low fat buttermilk contains 120 calories in a one-cup serving, more than Deans fat free milk which contains 90 calories. But the flavor can’t be matched. This product contains 25% Vitamin D, the same amount in Deans Fat Free Milk. But Deans Fat Free milk contains only 30% calcium, 10% less than the buttermilk.

What can you do with buttermilk? You can make buttermilk biscuits. You can make buttermilk pancakes. (Oh, yum!) You can soak chicken in buttermilk which will tenderize it. And, you can make my Irish Soda Bread with it. Lately, I have been omitting one cup of flour from the Soda Bread recipe and adding 1 cup of Old Fashioned Oats instead. The oats have less calories than the flour and the taste is better. It’s also better for you with more fiber and more vitamins.

I now make the Oat Soda Bread recipe weekly. When I slice it, I slice 14 slices from one 9×5 loaf. Yes, I now use a loaf pan to make it. The calories vary depending on how much flour and buttermilk I use. This last time I used about 4 cups of flour, 1 cup of oats, and 2 cups of buttermilk. I buttered the pan with ½ T of butter. So, each slice was approximately 156 calories. I want to get the calories down on this recipe so I will be using less flour and less buttermilk next time and omitting the tablespoon of sugar.

It’s fun to play around with recipes, especially when it improves your health! I hope you enjoy good health with these calcium containing foods!

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A PENNY SAVED IS A PENNY EARNED

12 Nov My Mini-barn with Pennies Near the Ridge

The weather recently in Indianapolis had been glorious! Lots of sunshine, warm with cool breezes; perfect for the projects I save to do at the change of the seasons every year. My latest project is one that is supposed to prevent moss/algae from growing on the roof of my mini-barn. It actually should work on any roof.

My neighbor’s tree has grown to the point that it keeps my mini-barn in the shade almost all the time.  This constant shade on one side of the roof encouraged moss/algae to grow on the shingles. I’ve got the same problem on my house, but that’s another story.

When I first noticed the moss, I brushed it off with a brush that I bought years ago for my suede shoes. This worked fine. But after doing research on the Internet, I learned that it would just come back unless I either trimmed her tree to allow sunlight on the roof or installed strips of copper or zinc along the ridge of the roof. The branches were too high for me to reach so that wasn’t an option. I investigated buying a strip of zinc (it may have been a combination of copper and zinc) at my local Menards. It wasn’t expensive but there was a lot of it and I didn’t need that much. So I didn’t buy it.

After more research on the Internet, I learned that you could caulk pennies on the ridge of the roof and they would do the same thing as the zinc strip. I had forgotten that the caulking I was supposed to use was silicone and used roofing cement instead. Anyway, I wanted to use roofing cement to cover the roofing nails I had hammered into my shingles because the person who originally put the shingles on the roof didn’t use any nails at all. He only used the glue strip on the shingles to adhere them to the roof! Aaaarrgh!  Naturally after a few good storms, my shingles flew all over the neighborhood. But I digress.

To use roofing cement you have to have a caulk gun.

Caulking Gun

Red Caulking Gun (with San Marzano Tomatoes from my Garden)

I bought myself a nice shiny red caulking gun and had no idea how to use it. It was cheap, $4.88. I asked the salesman at Menards and he did a pretty good job at explaining how it worked. You buy the roofing cement cartridge ($2.24) or whatever you plan to caulk with the caulk gun and slide the cartridge into the gun. Make sure you have matching sizes. My gun came with a small, attached piercing rod to perforate the aluminum that protects the roofing cement from oozing out. Try to find a gun with that included on the body. You can see it in the photo on the bottom left of the gun.

Once you cut off the tip of the plastic point of the cartridge, pierce the aluminum foil with the piercing rod. Slide the cartridge into the gun. It may seem like it won’t fit but keep trying. Once it is secured in the gun, pull the trigger a few times to get the contents flowing into the plastic point of the cartridge. The gun pushes the bottom of the cartridge upward which in turn pushes out the contents. I think I remember some ice cream or popsicle types that work on a similar theory: you push the bottom up and it exposes more of the ice cream!

Take a roll of paper towels with you because the contents of the cartridge will continue to ooze out even after you stop pulling the trigger. At least that is what happens with roofing cement! Over the course of the job, I got it all over my hands, on the grass, on my ladder and on my shirt. But I had a premonition that this would happen so I had the paper towels handy! With some good scrubbing, I got it off my hands with a soapy, wet paper towel and a few hand washes. It wiped right off my ladder. I’m sure the shirt will wash out too.

I had my pennies handy in my shirt pocket. I had to stand on the fourth rung of my ladder but I felt fairly safe because the ladder was leaning up against the mini-barn. It took a good bit of stretching on my part because I couldn’t reach the ridge of the roof. I was only able to reach the row of shingles beneath the ridge. This was quite a workout! I put about 33 pennies across the shingles. I also put a dab of roofing cement on all the nails I had hammered into the roof a few years ago. The idea here is that the roofing cement prevents any water from seeping into the roof through the nail holes. I also put some roofing cement on any torn shingles and any that didn’t lay flat.

When I was done using the gun, I removed the cartridge and inserted a nail into the point of the plastic end where the cement came out. I am hoping that this will save the cement from drying out and that I will be able to use it for some other project like sealing nails on gutter hangers or fixing my leaky drain spouts. You can see the nail head at the end of the cartridge.

Cartridge of Roofing Cement

Roofing Cement Cartridge

So how do these pennies prevent moss/algae from growing? When it rains, the rain will wash some of the zinc/copper off the pennies onto the moss/algae and kill it. The zinc strip you can buy works on the same theory. It prevents the moss/algae from growing.

I’m hoping that the roofing cement will hold the pennies in place. Otherwise, if they come loose, it will feel like pennies from heaven.

If this penny idea doesn’t do the trick, well then I was penny-wise and pound foolish!

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NEW FOOD FRIDAY FLASH – SLIMCADO LITE

16 Oct Slimcado

I’m always on the lookout for new food products and I came across this one at my local Kroger. For those of you who love avocadoes but hate the fat and the calories, this Slimcado has 50% less fat and 35% less calories than a regular avocado. Therefore, it is my choice for this month’s NEW FOOD FRIDAY FLASH.

A Slimcado tastes just like a regular avocado. It looks just like a regular avocado.

Slimcado

Slimcado Lite

But it is much bigger than a regular avocado. The skin stays green, it does not turn black like other avocadoes.  I paid $1.00 for this “medium” sized “avocado.” The cashier must have keyed it in wrong because there is no way this is a medium avocado.

Once home, I let it ripen for four days. In my haste to try it, apparently I didn’t let it ripen enough so it was still a bit too firm even though it had some give when I pressed it. I decided to wrap the remaining Slimcado in plastic wrap to see if it would ripen further.

Here are the nutrition facts from the www.brookstropicals.com website:

 1 cup             276 calories

Total Fat:        23.1g

Sat Fat:            4.5 g

Mono Fat:       12.7g

Poly Fat:         3.9g

Omega 3:        221mg

Omega 6:        3634mg

Cholesterol:    0

Sodium:           4.6mg

Carb:               18.4g

Fiber:               12.9g

Sugar:             5.6g

Protein:           5.1g

Vitamin C:       40mg

Potassium:      807mg

I know people like to add sliced avocado to their sandwiches and salads, or to make guacamole, but I like to eat avocado straight from the skin with a spoon as a snack. I halve it lengthwise, cover the remaining avocado with the pit still intact then wrap it in plastic wrap for another day. I won’t be doing that with the Slimcado. It’s too big!

Slimcado Avocado

I cut about 1/4 of the Slimcado to try it but you can see how big it was compared to my garden gloves!

However, a Slimcado would make an ideal vessel for stuffing! An ice cream scoop of shrimp or crab salad perhaps? Their website gives detailed instructions on how to cut up this Slimcado including photos. Click on the How to cut up a Slimcado link.

Keep your eyes peeled for a Slimcado. I think these are going to become a big hit!

If you would like more information about the Slimcado, go to www.brookstropicals.com

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TIPS ON HOW TO INSTALL A BATHROOM SINK & FAUCET

25 Sep A new sink and faucet

If you follow my blog, you know I like to work with my hands and that I also like a challenge. Installing a bathroom sink and faucet was the most challenging home project I have ever attempted. It was difficult and I’m not going to say you should try it. But I can give you some tips on what to look out for if you want to do it yourself.

Things You Need

You need the right tools for the job. Here is a photo of the tools I used. They are in the top portion of my pink toolbox (ignore the bottom part). The donut shaped object below the safety glasses is Teflon tape. It’s cheap. Buy it.

Tools for Installing a Bathroom Sink

Tools for Installing a Bathroom Sink

You need safety glasses because you will be laying down on your back in your cabinet under your sink and when you loosen or tighten parts, you will get gunk, dirt, dust, and water on your face so you want to protect your eyes. You might even drop a locknut or worse, your pliers on your face when your hands get tired from loosening and tightening parts. I kept repeating to myself, “Use both hands to hold onto the pliers!”  This worked for me and I didn’t drop anything on my face. In fact, I didn’t have any injuries other than accidentally squeezing my thumb in my pliers! No damage was done fortunately.

You need the patience of Job (In the Bible). You need determination, perseverance, and commitment. You need to laugh at the face of the unknown. I knew nothing about installing a sink or faucet. I knew nothing about water pipes. You need to be fearless when you go to your local Menards or Lowes for help because even if you find a female sales associate, they will inevitably get a male associate to help you. Some male associates feel threatened by a woman who wants to install a sink herself or who has “technical” questions. Ignore their attitude and focus on their answers. If they stump you with a question that you don’t know the answer to or they become stumbly, bumbly themselves, don’t give up! Stall. Ask more questions. Read the label yourself of the item they say you need. If all else fails, ask to speak to another associate. Don’t let them intimidate you. As a last resort, ask to speak to the manager and tell him the problem. Fortunately, I never had to go that far.

You need silicone to keep water out of certain parts and to keep certain parts in place. The instructions that come with your new faucet will show/tell you where to use it. There were no instructions with my sink, but the sales associate at Lowes told me to use it under the sink to anchor it to the top of the cabinet. He said it would hold. He better be right! I bought Silicone Extra. That “extra” better stand for extra strong adhesion! But more about that later.

You need a roll of paper towels. Leaks will happen. I started with a nice thick bath towel but once that got wet, then what? So, I found paper towels to be better. And a small bucket for the bigger leaks.

You need a small fan to help dry out the cabinet from the leaks. It is also helpful to help dry the silicone and WD-40 or anything else you use. It is also important for adequate ventilation when using these chemicals. I opened a window and my patio doors too and turned on the fan vent on the ceiling.

Run a Fan to Dry Space!

Run a Fan to Dry Out the Space!

You need light! It’s dark in that cabinet. I used a small desk lamp and also a large flashlight. It has a 6V super heavy duty battery and is used for the outdoors. I use it indoors when there is a power outage.

You need a digital camera. If/when you get to a part/area that either doesn’t fit or doesn’t work and you’ve tried everything you can think of, take a picture of it and go to your local Menards, Lowes, or wherever and tell the sales associate the problem. If you are having problems explaining it or he or she is not getting it, show them the photo of it on your camera. I had my digital photo ready but I remembered the magic word “flexible” while I was at Lowes, and didn’t need to show my photo. I reasoned that I needed a flexible trap pipe because my sink drain was mysteriously at an angle instead of straight down and I couldn’t figure out why! It is also shorter than my previous drain. If you don’t have a digital camera, draw a diagram.

You need something soft and cushiony to lay on, kneel on, and sit on. You will be doing all three. I used my rubber exercise mat and doubled it. It was a knee saver!

Exercise Mat to Protect Knees and Butt!

Exercise Mat to Protect Knees and Butt!

Reserve books about plumbing from your local library. Search the internet to see photos and instructions on installing and removing bathroom sinks and faucets. My old sink had anchors and screws to hold it in place. My new sink came with zilch, nada, nothing. You get what you pay for: $29 at Menards. Cheap, but looks good!

My cabinet is 30” wide so for my cabinet, I needed to be able to squeeze my body into the 16 ½” x 12 ½” door space. At 5’8” and 164 lbs, that was a challenge. Sometimes I had to angle my shoulder in on the diagonal. You need to have the stamina to go in and out of your cabinet many, many times to make adjustments! If this is your first time installing a sink and faucet, make that many, many, many times! Bonus: I lost weight doing this project!

Can you fit into a small space?

You Need to Fit into a Small Space!

Obstacles/Surprises

I began this project on September 3rd, 2015. Then I got sick with bronchitis and had to leave everything “as is,” code words for the mess from hell. It stayed like that for several weeks until I recovered! It helps to have a second bathroom with a functioning sink. I do have a half bath but the sink doesn’t function so I had to substitute my kitchen sink for brushing my teeth, etc., etc. Actually, all of my sinks need work.

Read over the instructions that come with your faucet and sink. Carefully study the diagrams. I labeled parts in the diagrams myself which helped. But be prepared for instructions that don’t tell you everything! Just when I thought I was all finished and began cleaning things up and putting stuff away, I found a small, black washer in the box that the faucet came in. “What is this? Where does this go?” I re-read the directions for the 5th time. Nothing about a small black washer. I scrutinized the diagrams again. And there it was. It wasn’t even labeled! I could strangle the author! So, I had to undo a pivot nut, pull out the horizontal rod, and slip on the washer. (It had been a place where I was getting a LEAK. No wonder!) It was an easy fix, but it could have been much more difficult. Hey, I couldn’t have ALL bad luck!

Differences of Opinion

My instruction sheet said to use silicone on the underside of the flange. The flange is the shiny round part that you see when you are standing up, looking down at your sink drain. It’s where the water goes down the drain. One of the library books I borrowed said to use Plumber’s Putty on the underside of the flange. I decided to go with Plumber’s Putty but only in that area. Why? Well, I’ve watched many episodes of Ask This Old House on PBS in the past and they always use Plumber’s Putty. Also, the putty is easier to work with and to clean up. Most of all, I believed that if I had to remove the flange for whatever reason, it would be easier to remove after using putty and nearly impossible to remove with the use of silicone. Fortunately, I didn’t have to put that to the test!

Advice vs. Reality

Some of my plumber’s books rated each project from easy to difficult. Most were labeled easy. If you are a plumber, it’s easy. If you are like me, it’s difficult. Don’t believe everything you read. I screwed and unscrewed every locknut, pivot nut, and part at least twice. The instruction sheet showed four areas where you need to look for leaks when you are all done and start to run the water. Don’t believe them. Nearly every connecting part leaked when I ran the water at the end of the project. I’m not exaggerating. This was after I, with all my might and pliers, tightened each part. LEAKS!

Places that leaked

So Many Places to Leak!

So I loosened water tube parts, cleaned them off as roughly as I could to remove any debris and retightened them until I was exhausted! That worked. I already told you about the black washer above. In fact, now that I think of it, the only two parts that DIDN’T leak were two of the four parts the instructions said would leak! Idiots! By the way, if they say not to over tighten, ignore them. Unless you know for sure that you are as strong as a plumber, tighten with all your might. A tornado might be able to move me but it won’t be able to move my sink and faucet. Not now, anyway!

Hope

Don’t give up hope! Towards the end of this project I was getting discouraged at all the leaks and wondered if I would need to get a plumber. Yet, after all I went through, I wasn’t fully ready to surrender. I’m beginning to realize where my son gets his stubborn streak.

Noodle
With all the information you have at your fingertips, sometimes it just isn’t enough. So, you have to use your noodle! Although I hate the expression, “Think Outside the Box,” you may have to think outside the box. For example, I kept having a leak at one of the pipe joints. This was a connection between my old pipes and the new pipe part. The old pipe part had a screw nut to attach to the old pipe trap part. The new pipe trap part came with a similar screw nut. At first I used the new screw nut but it kept leaking at the joint. I counted how many times I could turn the new screw nut. Eight times. I removed it and put on the old screw nut and counted how many times I could turn it. Thirteen times. The old screw nut made more sense to me so I used it instead. No more leaks! Do you understand the logic there? I hope so.

After watching repairmen do their jobs in my house, I am confident that anything they can do, I can do too. Maybe even better. Certainly without breaking something as I’ve seen them do to my property! Some of them are careless and klutzy. I am not, neither will you be because it is YOUR property! One of them broke my newly installed thermostat and didn’t replace it! Another broke off the spigot of my water heater while he was fixing my furnace. I had a flood in my kitchen! Another threw away my faucet filter into the trash without telling me that it could be cleaned out and put back! Aaaargh!

Caution

I am not so secure in my work in that when I use my new sink and faucet I won’t be checking for drips and leaks. I will definitely be checking underneath every time I use the sink, at least for the first few weeks. I even put a mini-bucket under the pipe trap where it had leaked during testing. If I find water in it, I will know I have a leak and either need to tighten some more or find some other solution. But folks, really, with all the tightening I did, I’m expecting my sink and faucet to BOING out of my bathroom!

Mini-Bucket to Catch Potential Drips!

Mini-Bucket to Catch Potential Drips!

Was it all Worth it?

You bet it was! My new sink and faucet are gleaming! I need sunglasses when I walk into the bathroom! I feel the need to dress up! I find myself wiping up every bit of moisture in the sink and on the faucet after I use it! It’s like having a new car! Better! I have pride of ownership and tremendous pride in the success of my project. I am so happy! If you tackle this project, contact me if you need help. GOOD LUCK!

Job satisfaction is good for your health!

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Ms. HANDY WOMAN

23 Sep New Drain - Old Pipes

 When I bought my house 18 years ago, little did I know that I would become an expert at fixing so many things around the house. My parents never owned a house so I can’t say that I learned from my dad or mom. I learned on my own with help from the Internet and library books.

I don’t like to brag, but I’m going to.

Toilets

In 18 years, I’ve repaired both my toilets using replacement parts which included having to saw off a corroded part. Picture all 5’8” of me on my stomach sawing off a part that I couldn’t see from my angle on the floor. I didn’t break anything that wasn’t supposed to break and I was successful in repairing leaky, running, and over-flowing toilets. Who needs a plumber?

Wood Doors

I wrote a post about this and if you want to read it, just type in  “doorway” without the quotes in the search field at the top of the page. I fixed my wood accordion doors that enclose my washer and dryer. A screw had stripped so the door was inoperable. I had to take the door down to see what was going on because I had no clue. I created a new screw hole and the door has worked fine since.

Rain Gutters and Spouts

Who likes to clean out rain gutters, raise your hand! It’s such a messy job and I got tired of it. Over the years, I bought two kinds of cheap gutter covers. One was a foam type cover that didn’t fit, or so I thought. The other was a plastic weave roll that you could cut to size. Neither worked well. I decided to get something more expensive this year that would thwart what my maple tree delivers.

Thanks to my maple tree, my gutters were filled with leaves, twigs, whirligigs, stems, and muck. I also had clogged drain spouts. At first I used a crappy pair of ice tongs to remove the debris. That didn’t work very well. I tried using my garden trowel. That didn’t fit in the gutter. Finally, I got the brilliant idea of using my long barbeque tongs. They worked great and they also worked great helping to clear the drain spouts. If you decide to tackle this job yourself, be prepared to get mucky water splashed on your face and clothes, not to mention leaves, twigs, and whatever in your hair. You will be bitten by mosquitoes too not to mention that it doesn’t smell so great either. But hey, if you’ve changed a diaper in your lifetime you’re ready for anything!

My drain spouts had solidified with debris. No garden hose was going to do the trick. At first I used the long wooden end of my hammer to push the stuff down. That only compacted everything more. I tried using the bathroom shower and sink drain wires as seen advertised on TV that I bought at Meijer years ago. They didn’t work either. I finally decided to use a wire coat hanger that I had straightened out and at one time used in my vegetable garden for who knows what. It was rusted by now but who cares! It loosened up the debris as I shoved it down the drain spout and with the help of my barbeque tongs, was able to remove enough debris so that when I inserted the garden hose at full force, the water cleaned out the rest of the spout. Persistence counts! It was probably clogged for years!

As for the more expensive gutter covers? They were $2.18 each at 4’ a piece at Lowes. I needed a total of 33 of them. I did this over the course of three days. I could have completed it in two days but I ran short and had to buy more. I’ve learned one thing in tackling these jobs myself. Nothing is as easy as they say it is in a book. If everything is going well and you think you’re going to be finished ahead of schedule, don’t count on it. The last thing you do will be the thing that takes the longest!

At first I was buying these gutter covers at Menards. They ran out of them. They said they had a back order and wouldn’t get them in until September. (I started this project August 7.) They told me to go to one of their other stores. (A ½ hours drive for me.) I decided to check out Lowes. They had gobs of them and they were about $.50 a piece cheaper! Hah! Luckily I only bought and installed five from Menards.

These gutter covers are a rubberized plastic with round holes the size of a thumbtack but also have a mesh covering on top of that to prevent little, teeny, tiny things from getting caught like the stems of leaves, etc. That is what I wanted! You slide them under your roof shingles and snap the other end of them onto your gutters. After installing the first one, I got the hang of it and the rest were, well, I wouldn’t say easy, but easier to do than the first one!

Funny Story

While standing on line at Menards with my five gutter covers, the man behind me asked me if I was going to install them myself. When I said yes, he laughed and asked me if I would do his too! He asked if I was going to get up on the roof. I said no. I was able to finish the job mostly on the third rung of my ladder. At the back of my house, in some areas, I had to get on the fourth rung which is a little scary at first but I was very careful and didn’t rush anything. One thing I didn’t do was hold on to the gutters! A couple of times I held on to the shingles while climbing down the ladder! Some of the nails in the gutters were protruding so they got a few whacks with a hammer. And that’s another story but not funny.

Gutter Nails

My gutter nails were popping out all over so I decided to start my gutter project with new gutter nails. I looked at what they had a Menards and what they had was a slight improvement of what I already had in the gutters. The groves in the new nails were deeper. That wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted a nail that would screw in. With the help of a nice Italian salesman, we looked at the catalog and I special ordered screw-in gutter nails. They arrived about a week later. Guess what? You can’t screw in these gutter nails with a screw driver. The end of the screw had a small square hole in it and the screws came with a special part that you would insert into the square hole along with your electric power drill. Hey, I’m good but I’m not power drill ready yet! If I ever decide to start making my own furniture or what-have-you, I will buy a power drill! I returned the screw nails to Menards. As for this project, I decided a few good whacks with my hammer and the old nails would have to do. If the nails popped out again, I would buy the better version of the nails that I have. Theoretically, and this is where my college education comes in handy, since the gutters are now cleared and so are the downspouts, there won’t be as much weight in the gutters from all the rain filling them up. Less weight, less pulling on the gutters, less strain on the nails. Theoretically.

Leaky Kitchen Faucet

Fixing a leaky or dripping kitchen faucet is an easy job, so say the books. Sure, as long as your water shut-off valves work! I was able to shut off my hot water supply but the cold water wouldn’t budge. No matter how many whacks with a hammer, no matter how much lubricating oil, no matter how much WD-40…..well, actually I don’t know about the WD-40. I didn’t buy it until AFTER I finished the job. My house main water shut-off valve is behind my washer. So, undaunted, I pulled out my washer. That wasn’t easy! It was the second time I pulled out that washer. The first time was about a month ago when I decided to replace the water hoses since it’s recommended you replace them at 5-years. I did and it was uneventful – one of the few uneventful projects I’ve ever done. But back to my kitchen sink. I shut off the main shut-off valve and checked the kitchen sink. I had removed the handles and could see that the cold water had a small amount of water still coming through. Although it took me much longer with the water constantly coming through, I managed to change the handle, cartridge, spring, and seat of the cold water which had been dripping. No more water drips!

Bathroom Sinks and Faucets

This is my latest project and one that I just finished. Last summer my air conditioning man told me he used to do plumbing work. I told him I wanted to get a new bathroom sink and faucet. He said if I would buy the replacement sink and faucet, he would do the work for $200. At the time I thought I would let him do it. But I’ve come so far on my projects and have gained so much confidence that I decided it was time for me to tackle this project too.

I removed the sink and didn’t bother removing the faucet since it was attached to the sink so I saved myself some effort there. I temporarily carefully dropped in the new sink and faucet. I wasn’t able to attach the pipes to the drain pipe of the sink! The trap didn’t meet the drain; there was a half inch gap!

New Drain - Old Pipes

My New Drain Didn’t Meet Up with My Old Pipes!

Unfortunately I began this project at 4:00 in the afternoon and gave up at 11:30 in the evening when I started to feel sick.  

So, as you might have gathered, I needed to become an expert in pipes – maybe get some new pipe parts. Did I come up with a solution?

More about my bathroom sink and faucet project in an upcoming post!

P.S. What’s good for my pocketbook is good for my health!

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NEW FOOD FRIDAY FLASH – ARABIAN PIZZA or LAHMA bi AJEEN

18 Sep Baked Lamb Pizzas

I hope you don’t get tired of my excitement with James Beard’s bread book, but every recipe I’ve tried is very good. Here’s another one. It’s called Lahma bi Ajeen and as you might guess, it’s made with lamb. I love lamb and I love pizza so it sounded like a unique combination and I wanted to share it with you for this month’s New Food Friday Flash.

Beard’s recipe calls for pine nuts but I substituted pecans that I had on hand and they were a very good substitution. It also called for tomato paste but I had two tomatoes that were going to go bad if I didn’t use them so they were also a good substitution.

Beard wrote that these “pizzas” were fun to make. I have to disagree; they are more fun to eat! My only criticism of his book is that his instructions aren’t always crystal clear although it’s never ruined my finished product so I can’t complain too loudly. For example, he writes that these pizzas make 8 servings and that you should divide the dough into walnut-sized balls. Well, he must use some pretty big walnuts because I ended up with 16 walnut sized balls.  

Pizza Dough

Pizza Dough Balls

Did he mean that each person should get two pizzas? I don’t think so. At any rate, if you’re going to go to the trouble of making pizza, it’s much better to have 16 than 8 of them.

***

For the Dough:

1 package active dry yeast

pinch of granulated sugar

scant 1 cup warm water (100° to 115°)

1 pound all-purpose flour (about 3 ¾ cups)

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

Dissolve the yeast with the sugar in ½ cup of the lukewarm water and allow to proof for 10 minutes. Put the flour and salt in a large, warm mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add the oil and the yeast mixture. Work the dough vigorously adding the remaining lukewarm water gradually to make a soft dough. Knead in the bowl about 15 minutes (I thought I was the only one who kneaded in bowls!) until the dough is pliable and elastic. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside in a warm place for 2 – 3 hours or until doubled in bulk. (I use my microwave turned off.) Lightly oil the top of the dough to prevent a crust from forming.

For the Filling:

1 pound finely chopped onion

olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1 ½ pound finely ground shoulder of lamb

½ cup pine nuts

½ six-ounce can tomato paste

1 teaspoon granulate sugar

¾ teaspoon ground allspice

1 tablespoon lemon juice

4 teaspoons salt, or to taste

1 teaspoon cracked peppercorns

2 dashes of Tabasco sauce

3 tablespoons chopped parsley

Sauté the onions in 1 Tablespoon olive oil until wilted but not browned. Remove from heat and add garlic. Then add it to the ground meat along with the rest of the ingredients and blend well. Make a small sample patty, fry in ½ teaspoon olive oil and taste. Correct the seasonings if needed. Set aside while you roll out the dough.

Turn out the dough on a lightly floured board and knead a few times. Divide into walnut-sized balls and allow to rest for a few minutes, then roll each piece with a lightly floured rolling pin into a circle 5 to 6 inches in diameter. Spread the prepared filling generously over each piece. Transfer each piece to a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake in a preheated oven at 450° to 500° for 8 – 10 minutes. The patties should be well done but still pale in color.

***

The other interesting thing to note is that even though I spread a generous serving of the lamb mixture on each pizza dough as he says you should do, I still had about ¾ of a cup of the lamb mixture left over. AND, I didn’t use 1 ½ lbs of lamb as the recipe suggests; I only had a 1 lb package. Go figure! As usual, I baked them in my convection toaster oven.

Lamb Pizzas

Lamb Pizzas in my Convection Toaster Oven

With the leftover lamb mixture, I added it to some store-bought Classico basil and tomato sauce and poured it over pasta. It was very good! If you have leftover as I did, you could also stuff zucchini or an eggplant with it.

Lamb mixture

Lamb Mixture Cooking

Beard says you can cut these pizzas into wedges and serve them with cocktails. I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing worse than eating cold, ground lamb – it’s too greasy. I wouldn’t recommend them for eating with cocktails or as hors d’oeuvres. These pizzas are best eaten hot.

Baked Lamb Pizzas

Baked Lamb Pizzas Hot from the Oven

I ate 5 and froze the rest. They freeze well and reheat in a toaster oven very well.

Storing Lamb Pizza in Container

Storing Lamb Pizza in Container for Freezing

Also, they cool off pretty quickly. If I make them again, I will be sure to really load on the lamb mixture so I don’t have any leftover and so that the pizza will stay hot longer. Those are my words to the wise. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

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