Sunday, November 29, 2015

Pumpkin pie

I made pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving dessert. I didn't dress it up with whipped cream, although that would certainly be good. My standard pie filling does not come out of a can, but is home-made with pumpkin that I grow and roast myself. This year's pumpkin is actually a potimarron or red kuri squash. Its flesh is firm with a pronounced chestnut flavor, and it's not quite as sweet as a standard pie pumpkin.

A slice of pumpkin pie.

When I make the filling, I use a traditional recipe but I cut down on the amount of sugar and spices. This lets the flavor of the squash come through. There is still plenty of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cardamon, and clove, along with some fresh lemon zest, whole eggs and cream. I think it's very tasty.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

What's on tv

This week we see a very famous French actress, Sophie Marceau, in a role written by Bergman back in 1972. Apparently she did this as a play before starring in it as a television movie. Marceau became famous in 1980 when she starred in "La Boum" at the tender age of thirteen.

The climate conference, COP21, is taking place this week in Paris. I hope they don't watch this week's bad movie!

What NOT to watch this week. Our tv magazine rates shows and movies using a star system: one star is ok, four stars is best. They use another symbol for really bad movies: the red dot. It means "à zapper" (change the channel!). The editors often include comments about the movie that make me laugh.

This week's bad movie is from Canada. It's original title is "Something Beneath." I was going to translate the French title as "The Creature from the Basement," but given the actual title, I think the word sous-sol, often used to mean "basement," is better interpreted as "underground."

La créature du sous-sol (The Creature from Underground). Canadian made-for-tv movie directed by David Winning, 2007.
With Kevin Sorbo, Natalie Brown, Peter MacNeill, and Brendan Beiser.
A creature from the depths of the earth terrorizes a climate change conference.
A bland bomb that never convinces, from the direction to the actors to the plot.
For adults and teenagers.

Friday, November 27, 2015

The heat is on, part two

Well, it's done. The installer finished the job by mid-afternoon and another technician came by to get us up and running, program the thermostatic controls, and walk us through how it all works. The boiler is working well (so far) and is quieter than the old one, which used to make a loud whoosh! sound when it started up. I can't hear the new one start up at all.

The new boiler, installed. All the cardboard boxes and tools are gone (compare with yesterday's photo).

The thermostat control is a little box that you can move around the house depending on where you want it. It has a little display screen with time, temperature, and other indications. Right now we have it in the main living/dining room and I suspect that's where it will stay. We set up an initial program (with the technician's help) for a day temperature and an overnight temperature. The switching points are at 5:30 in the morning and 10:00 at night, respectively. I've already made adjustments.

Sleek, shiny, and new!

This morning I woke around 4:00 and heard a low hum which turned out to be the boiler working (it's two floors below the bedroom). I got up to check and, sure enough, it was running and the radiators were heating up. I couldn't go back to sleep wondering why it was running an hour and half early, so I stayed up and read the manual. It turns out that the boiler starts up before your programmed hour and gradually brings the room up to temperature so that it's at the right temperature at the right time. Well, now that I know that, I can set the daytime temperature for a little later in the morning. I also set a lower evening temperature and a new overnight schedule. I don't like the house too warm when I sleep. We'll see how it works and will probably make further adjustments in the coming days.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving, postponed

We're holding our Thanksgiving dinner (roast leg of lamb) for Friday due to the ongoing replacement of the central heating system boiler. The old one was decommissioned yesterday and removed. The new one is in the process of being installed. Work should finish up sometime during the day today.

The old boiler, disconnected and ready to be wheeled out. Every cardboard box you see in this photo, every single one, contains parts for the new system. When I took this photo, the new boiler itself was still on the truck.

Meanwhile, the wood stove in the living room is working to provide us heat. Thankfully (hey, today's the day to be thankful!) the weather turned from cold to mild and we're not at all uncomfortable. We're keeping our fingers crossed that everything works as expected and we will be using the new boiler later today. Ken is posting some "before" photos on his blog today. One or both of us will post "after" photos when it's done.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The heat is on

We're waiting this morning for the guys to arrive with the new boiler. If they arrive; we haven't heard from them at all since they scheduled the appointment. I don't know if we're supposed to be using the heat this morning or not. They didn't say and I didn't think to ask two weeks ago. The system will have to be emptied of water (which will be hot) before they can remove the old boiler. Lots of questions, as yet no answers.

I took this photo almost three weeks ago. There are many fewer leaves on the trees now.

Callie had a good vet visit yesterday, although the joint was jumpin'. Lots of people, lots of animules, but Callie was well behaved. She got her shots and some medicine for fleas. There's a variety of flea that seems to be resistant to the Frontline we give her every month. They have taken up residence in her fur. Ick. So she'll be rid of them in a day or two. Already this morning she's hardly scratching, so they're dying off. Good riddance!

UPDATE: They arrived. The old boiler is off-line and dismantled already.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Death in the pantry

This one's not for the faint of heart. A few weeks ago we noticed the, er, "traces" of a mouse in our pantry. The cellier, or pantry, is a small room off the utility room on the ground floor of the house. The floor is not concrete, but a thick layer of sand. The room's temperature fluctuates with the weather, so it's not a good place for long-term wine storage. We keep canned goods, dry goods, onions, potatoes, pet food, and other easily stored items down there. Since the pantry door is closed, the cat cannot get in there to hunt

Of course I had to photograph the carnage. Fortunately, there was no blood.

The mouse had not gnawed into anything that I could see, but his/her "leavings" were obvious. It had burrowed into the sandy floor and was digging tunnels under the dog's kibble bin. It would only be a matter of time until it started nibbling on potatoes or ripping into plastic bags of rice and pasta.

I baited three traps with peanut butter and waited. A few days later, we found that one of the "snap" traps had worked. Poor thing. I've kept the traps down there in case there are other mice, but it's been more than a couple of weeks and there is no sign of another.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Monday macros

The last leaf. Well, probably not, but most of the vineyard leaves are gone. Now that the temperatures are dropping to more seasonable levels, those trees still hanging on to their golden leaves will shed them quickly. I'm back to building daily fires in the wood stove. It's fun now, but I know it will become a chore as we move through winter.

I've got to get some new photos taken. 100mm (macro), f/8.0, 1/320s, ISO 4000.

This week we are scheduled to get the old boiler replaced. The plan was to have it done before the cold weather set in. That's why we placed the order in July. But production delays, obeying Mr. Murphy's law (or Sod's law, if you're British), had us wait until now.