Celebrating Matt’s birthday

For Matt’s birthday we visited Han Oak and partook of their very delicious tasting menu.

For appetizers we had the kimchi plate, curried potato salad and the seaweed and greens. We picked the chicken wings and the onomiyaki for the snack and had dumplings. Also the smoked hanger stake and the pork bo ssam. Plus the dessert.

While we didn’t love the dessert (we reestablished that neither of us like mochi, or meringue) the rest was incredibly delicious.

Plus, they were playing hair metal ballads the entire time, much to my delight.

Cats head for the catio

When the door is opened, will the cats go outside?

The answer is yes! As usual, Sentinel charts the course, and Antares follows.

Things I’ve learned? Our windows and doors are really good at blocking out a lot of the sound that happens outside. With the front doors open, it’s really loud.

The cats don’t like to go outside during the day. Newness is a factor, plus the volume. Plus they mostly sleep during the day. Early in the morning is a great time for them, as is after dark. I think they are going to like it when we get the cat door in and they can go in and out on their own. Also when we get the shelves, so they can be above things.

It’s going to be a great summer at the Orange Door.

Catio!

We have completed Phase One of the front porch catio!

Our original intention was to make the full front porch a catio, but inserting the fencing in the existing pergola proved challenging, plus I’m not confident in the longevity of the pergola and it will be easier to make a frame to fit in between the sides of the house should the pergola need to come down in the future.

This provides a space for the cats to hang out, plus a space for a person to hang out. I also like that when people come to the front door I can talk to them through these two doors. While people appearing on the doorstep is rare, it does happen and has always worried me a little. With no screen door, anyone could push their way into the house if they wanted and I’m often home alone in the evenings.

I don’t think that would actually happen, but by answering the door from the porch, that worry is gone.

In even more exciting news: I can now open the French Doors in the front and the bedroom doors (where we already have a catio) and I can get a delicious cross breeze running through the house. I’m going to love that this summer.

Next up:

  • Phase Two: shelves for the cats to sit on
  • Phase Three: cat door

Anniversary dinner at Navarre

It’s our seventeenth anniversary and to celebrate, we had a delicious meal at Navarre. The restaurant was deserted, as it was a glorious warm spring day and everyone else was probably hiking or some other outdoorsy Portland thing.

Due to the full staff and the lack of other customers, our food came fast. While we ate dinner we traded off asking questions of our favorite memories. Examples: favorite vacation we’ve taken/ favorite wedding we’ve attended/ favorite thing about our house, etc. It turned out to be a pretty fun game.

We forgot to take a picture in the restaurant, so here we are by the car.

Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom is filming at our house.

I don’t really mind spiders setting up shop in our house. (Though I don’t love the little black speckles that appear where they do set up shop.) I often wonder what they find to eat when inside. There are a few bugs, but not really that many.

This spider completely lucked out. And this caterpillar did not.

There was a long, grisly process of sucking the juices. You can see that juices were spilled. As the spider ate, it’s body got rounder and rounder.

It was very gross and also fascinating. Reporting from the future, I can tell you that soon after this large meal, an egg sac appeared. As of June, it’s still there. I keep meaning to put it outside before the baby spiders emerge. We shall see if I do.

Kissing in the D A R K, D A R K, D A R K darkdarkdark

So many things have been done to support me having a better sleep experience. Today’s thing: a room darkening shade.

Here we have the blurry before picture. The curtains didn’t really do much to block the light and this is especially a problem in June and July because the sun starts to come up before 4:30 am.

Here is the blurry “after” picture. It’s still quite light outside, but that room-darkening shad is blocking that light!

Here’s hoping it will help improve the sleep patterns.

Over 10 years of living with my stove and I finally discover…

…holy crap, the top lifts up for easy cleaning!

I’ve been trying to clean that drip pan area from the top through the burner holes the entire time. This is much better!

This all came about because both large elements gave up the ghost and I bought four new ones, plus new drip pans. In doing a thorough scrub, I happened to lift the stovetop up and to my surprise, it moved!

Here’s to new features on old appliances.

The Orange Door’s newest appliance

I’ve owned a stovetop pressure cooker before and found it to be an appliance that was okay to use. It didn’t live up to its promises (so fast!) but did prepare food slightly faster than the conventional stovetop method. I think my stovetop pressure cooker broke, or I wandered away from it and donated it.

However, I was intrigued by the Instant Pot because it has both the pressure cooking attributes and a slow cooker function. I hadn’t replaced my slow cooker when it broke and I did, from time to time, wish I had another one.

The price was prohibitive, and I’ve been biding my time, figuring eventually someone would have theirs up for sale for cheap because it didn’t quite fit into their cooking routine. However, this weekend Fred Meyer put their 6-quart jobber on sale for $79.99 plus a $10 FM gift card and I snapped it up. It actually rang up even cheaper than that ($59.99) which I reluctantly told the cashier. She shrugged, and let me have it for the lower price.

I’ve had this for two weeks now and can report that I think this will be a permanent and well-used part of my cooking tools. Here’s the reason why: it’s a countertop appliance. Most of my cooking is done in one or two long sessions on the weekend. This means that sometimes space on the burners is at a premium. Being a countertop appliance, I can set something up, program the timer, walk away, and continue doing four other things until the Instant Pot cooking cycle is over. With a stovetop pressure cooker, not only did I lose a burner, but also I had to do a good amount of futzing with the burner setting to maintain pressure.

I love also that I can sauté in the Instant Pot. With my slow cooker, I would have to sauté in a pan and transfer the food to the slow cooker. Otherwise everything came out with the same mushy long-cooked flavor that I didn’t enjoy.

I haven’t yet used the slow cooker function, so I have no report on that, but Steam, Rice, Soup and the pressure cooking functions have worked very well for me. In fact, on Saturday I used the Instant Pot six times, making brown rice, white rice, black beans, red beans, chicken and lentil soup, and Indian butter chicken.

First-time users of pressure cookers might find the time savings to be negligible. You have to let the unit come to pressure, which takes time, and then it cooks at pressure, and then while you can quick release, for some things you have to let the pressure cooker come down naturally from full pressure, and by that time, you could have just done it on the regular stove.

But I was aware I wouldn’t win much time. And unaware of how freeing the Instant Pot would be.