Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Hard Steamed Eggs

Hard boiled eggs make for a tasty and a relatively healthy snack. But what if the way you've been preparing hard boiled eggs for all these years was not the best way? We have made the eggs the traditional way--the way our mother's taught us--with boiling water.

Not too long ago, while attending a dinner party where one of the dishes contained a good number of sliced hard eggs in a green salad. The creator of the dish said that he had done some online research and found that it's actually a better practice to hard steam them, which is what he did.

If you research the topic online, you will find a variety of approaches for hard eggs. The most common is to submerge the eggs in water, bring it to a full boil, and then remove from the fire, cover the pan, and let the eggs cook for 10-12 minutes. But sometimes an egg will crack and some of the yolk oozes out creating what looks to be a deformity.

Then you'll find camps that swear that a pressure cooker works best. You will find suggestions that involve baking eggs in an oven. Then, there are whole discussions about the age and temperature of the egg and how that impacts results. There is a lot of thoughts and words online for such a simple thing. But the result that everyone is striving for is a hard-cooked egg that is easy to peel and does not crack during preparation.

So using some of the links below, I gave it a try. Add an inch or so of water to the pan. You don't want water coming over the base of the steaming basket. Over the water, place the steaming basket and add your eggs. Turn on the heat and bring to a boil. Bringing one inch of water takes way less time than the traditional way (saving you on the energy bill). Once boiling, turn down heat, if needed, but keep a boil going. Cover and set a timer for 12 minutes.

At the 10 minute mark, prepare an ice bath. In a large bowl create a mix of water and ice cubes.

After 12 minutes, remove the cover, and take the pot off of the heat. Using tongs, transfer the eggs to the ice bath and let it rest there for 10 minutes. When it's time, use the tongs to remove the eggs and let them dry on a towel.

The result? Same tasty egg as the traditional way, but much easier to peel. No more losing chunks or layers of eggs.

Next, I wondered if I could use an appliance steamer. I have a Black and Decker steamer. Because the eggs are further from boiling water and there's more steam escaping, you need to go 25-30 minutes.

Here are a few resources on the subject:

Fresh Eggs Daily - Shows you how to use the bamboo steamer.

Instructables - Step-by-step guide with photos. Lots of comments to add ideas.

Serious Eats - This person really went to town experimenting with a variety of factors.

Give it a try!

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Framing La Cantina

With the foundation work done, the next order of business is to get the La Cantina folding door installed. Over the last few days, the exterior stucco was removed on both sides of the downstairs room. Then the existing window and studs were removed on the west wall and the frame for the 8' x 8' La Cantina door installed.

Even though it's just the framing covered over with plywood, the room already feels transformed. The west wall will be mostly a wall of glass with a ton of natural light. The two hardy panels on either side of the door framing are visible but now seem dwarfed.

On the left wall, you can see the old door frame (covered over with plywood) and the new foundation cutting through the bottom. We are about to order a 4' x 3' casement window that will fit into the existing door framing there.

On the right, the half bath with some new framing since we moved the door frame to the right.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Foundation Work Completed

Our foundation was completed this last Friday; exactly 6 months after the work began in January. That's what happens when you schedule foundation work just as a record-setting rain season gets under way. Once the dry weather returned and the water table lowered, the work was completed within a few weeks.

Hardy Frames on either side of what will be our 8' x 8' La Cantina folding door.
Once the piers and rebar were in place underground, they jackhammered the foundation on the corner of the house. Because were are changing the door placement, they needed to build new forms for the concrete for the new foundation. The rebar from the underground piers also are inside the foundation and then attached to the Hardy Frame shear walls which can be seen on the right and left side of the photo. Hardy Frames are pre-fabricated shear wall structures that provide architectural strength and stability.
HFX Hardy Frame attached to foundation

Hardy Frame bolts
New foundation stem wall cuts through old door frame
Over to the left, where the old door was, the foundation now cuts across it. The old door opening will be transformed into a wall with a window in it. 

Outside, the new foundation is also visible. The concrete sidewalk has been re-poured. I fully expected that the concrete replacement would not be a very high quality job and that in the future, we would have to just have the whole thing redone. But, happily, it is looking like they did a great job matching the existing sidewalk. 

Outside corner of the house