Wednesday, September 21, 2016

c+t buy a house in jc - part 2 - the renovations never end.

Since the day we closed (which is unbelievably almost 2 months ago), Tyler and I have spent what feels like every waking moment working on our apartment.   It's been a lot of non-stop work.   

I'm so over it.   

I mentioned in my last post that home renovations don't agree with my personality.  I'm a get it done, wrap it up, make everything look pretty as soon as possible kind of person.   I want things done now and I'm married to a person who is perfectly happy with manana (i.e. tomorrow).   It's been an utter challenge working so closely with something who is equally vested in the project but thinks, acts, and works completely different then me.  Get two people together that both think their way is right and in the words of Tyler's wedding vows, fireworks are bound to fly.  

He wasn't kidding.   

But I like to think for all the challenges our personalities bring to the table, we truly in every sense of the word balance each other out.  I light a fire under his butt, he reminds me it's a marathon not a sprint. It's not always easy, but we make it work.   

As I write this, and look back at pictures, I realize we've accomplished a lot in 2 months.  For two people who have never owned a home and never handled a renovation we are getting things done. Slower then I may like (and a lot of times two steps forward and one step back), but things are happening.   I wont lie that I continue to ask myself why I couldn't be happy just moving in not doing any work.  This would have been the significantly easier (and vastly cheaper) option. But we are not that kind of people.  We like fixing things and making them our own and what's the point of a house if you aren't going to make it your home?   

Which leads me to all that has happened in the past two months.  Brand spanking new floors that match through the whole apartment!  A two-tone painted living room and bedroom.  A lime-washed brick wall and open shelves that Tyler built himself.  Fancy new windows were installed that open with the greatest of ease.  I painted kitchen cabinets and marble counters were installed.   We have brand new lights (including a dreamy long arm sconce) that totally change the look and feel of the place.  I got wallpaper on a wall and my god is it beautiful.   I've spent more time on Craigslist, Etsy, and Ebay then I care to reveal but it's a rabbit hole.   

The list of things to still tackle remains insanely long but we are slowly but surely checking things off and making progress.   Much more to come.   Wish us luck.     

(Also, Jackson, as you can see from these pictures, isn't much help but he does provide an endless number of kisses which is appreciated.)   

Sunday, September 18, 2016

apple and cheddar scones.

I know, it's been a while.

The last few weeks have been incredibly trying.  Home renovations don't agree with my personality.  I want things done when I want things done and home renovations don't end when you want them to.  Instead the problem you thought you were fixing snowballs into a new problem.  With each step forward you move one step back.

Most days I feel as if we are no where near having a home.  I worry I'm going to continue to live in a construction site.  A place where our old bathroom sink permanently lives in our living room.  A place where Jackson is constantly jumping over paint cans in order to find his favorite ball.  A place the stresses me out.  

But this weekend, it finally feels like we are in a better place.  We are in no means done (is your home ever done?) but we have shelves in the kitchen and most boxes unpacked and I can finally (kind of) see the fruits of our labor.

These past few weeks I haven't wanted to cook much.  Making dinner and baking cookies felt like a chore.  But over the past two days I've found myself feeling at home once again in the kitchen (pictures coming soon!).  I'm making lists of dishes I want to make.  I'm researching recipes online.  I'm returning to my happy place.

These scones came about in a recent search for apple recipes.  After picking up a mirror this week, Tyler and I stopped at our favorite apple orchard for Macs (his favorite) and Ginger Golds (mine).  We came home with 26 pounds of apples and I set out to find recipes for incorporating them.  These scones are reminiscent of the ones they serve at Tandem Bakery and I utterly love them.  Filled with pockets of sweet apple and salty cheese, they make for a perfect fall breakfast.  Best eaten on your new balcony with good coffee.

Apple and Cheddar Scones
Recipe from Leite's Culinaria and Smitten Kitchen

As is typical of me, I added a little more apple and cheddar to the scones (about 500 grams apple and 90 grams cheddar).  I like ensuring there are a lot of pockets of deliciousness.   I also swapped 1/2 cup of the all-purpose flour for whole wheat since I like the added nuttiness in a pastry like this.   

Makes 6 generous scones

2 firm tart apples (1 pound or 2 454 grams)
1 1/2 cups (6.75 ounces or 195 grams) all-purpose flour  - Feel free to swap up to a 1/3 of the flour for whole wheat
1/4 cup sugar plus 1 1/2 tablespoons for sprinkling (total of 2.2 ounces or 63 grams)
1/2 tablespoon (7 grams) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (3 grams) plus additional for egg wash
6 tablespoons (3 ounces or 85 grams)unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes plus additional for baking sheet if not lining it with parchment
1/2 cup (2.25 ounces or 65 grams) sharp cheddar, shredded (white is recommended, I assume for aesthetics)
1/4 cup (2 ounces) heavy cream
2 large eggs

Position a rack at the center of oven and preheat oven to 375 °F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

Peel and core apples, then cut them into one-sixteenths. (I assumed this meant chunks, not slivers.) Placed them in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake them until they take on a little color and feel dry to the touch, about 20 minutes. They will be about half-baked. Let them cool completely. (You can speed this up in the fridge, as I did.) Leave oven on.

Sift or whisk flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together. Set aside. Place butter in the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle attachment, along with cooled apple chunks, cheese, cream and one egg. Sprinkle flour mixture over the top and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together. Do not overmix.

[Don’t have a stand or hand mixer? I’d rub the cold butter into the flour mixture with my fingertips or with a pastry blender, hand-chop the apples coarsely and mix the rest together with a wooden spoon until combined. It might feel awkward, but it should all come together. Again, don’t overmix it though it will be harder to do this by hand.]

Generously flour your counter top and place the scone dough on top of it. Sprinkle with flour. Use a rolling pin to gently roll (or use your hands to pat) the dough into a 1 1/4-inch thick, 6-inch circle. Cut circle into 6 wedges. Transfer them to a baking sheet that has either been buttered or lined with a fresh sheet of parchment paper. Leave at least 2 inches between each scone.

Beat remaining egg in a small bowl with a pinch of salt. Brush the scones with egg wash and sprinkle them with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Bake until firm and golden, about 30 minutes. With a spatula, lift them to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes. Before you eat one, make sure you realize how addictive they might be. Once you’ve got that down, go for it anyway.

Do ahead: Scones are best the day they are baked. However, they can be made ahead of time and stored unbaked in the freezer until you need them. Simply brush them with the egg wash and sprinkle them with sugar, and bake them still frozen for just a couple extra minutes. This way they are always freshly baked when you want them.