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Pizza Oven Progress

The other evening some friends and I gave up an evening of cards, foosball, and whisky drinking to instead demolish a stone and concrete planter in our front yard, and using the rubble from it, and a large brick planter in our back yard, built up the base for my pizza oven.  We still had some whisky, and enjoyed a great evening around the fire pit as well 🙂

Only bad part was me getting stung in the eye by a wasp that I upset when digging out the gravel from the demolished planter in the back yard. That was a couple days ago, and the swelling has come down – so I don’t look like Igor anymore!

Pizza oven base I didn’t use any cement/mortar for now – everything is just laid in place and we’ll see how it works out!  I ended up pouring all the bags of play sand onto the base and just lightly tamped it down.  I might be able to add more sand once I tamp it down a little harder, and level it out.  Next step will be to lay out the insulation bricks, and then the kiln bricks that will make up the actual floor of the oven.

Big changes in Alberta

The New Democrat Party of Alberta has been voted into power with a significant majority. After 44 years in power, the Progress Conservatives are now the 3rd, with only 12 – er, 11 seats (Jim Prentice quit the party, and despite being elected in his riding, quit that too).  The Wild Rose party is the official opposition, winning 21 seats.

results

Hopefully this means positive change for the majority of Albertans, and not just corporations.  Hopefully we’ll see real improvements to the quality of health care in our province, and real progress in getting out of the boom/bust cycle of the oil industry, and diversifying our provincial economy.

The New Democrats have been given a great opportunity, and a big challenge by Albertans – they have the opportunity to prove that we can be prosperous and fair to all, and  demonstrate to the rest of Canada that there are choices…

Beautiful bread boards!

This past Christmas, Chef Michael Smith showed a great looking bread board in a prize package he was putting together.  The board was a demi-baguette board, made by Apple & Acorn Woodworking, in Ontario.

I ordered one as a birthday gift for my Mom, and she loves it!  the craftsmanship of these boards is excellent, with a flawless finish, and there are rubber feet on the underside, so that the board doesn’t slide around on you.  The board was well packed, and shipped via Canada Post, which was very reasonable.  A nice added touch is that the board is inside a burlap bag, which will be useful if you need to store the board in a cupboard.  My mom is going to find a spot in their kitchen to hang the board up and display it though – it’s really too beautiful to tuck away 🙂

aa_demi-board

New additions to the new aquarium

The stand for the 55 gallon aquarium turned out very well – unfortunately, the used aquarium I bought off Kijiji was way more scratched up than I had noticed.  Over Christmas, Big Al’s had a sale so I bought a new one – which looks awesome.  I also purchased a Hydor canister filter, and Eheim 150W heater.

55 gallon community aquarium and stand
New community aquarium

The aquarium is up and running, and is currently stocked with:

  • 6 siamese algae eaters
  • 10 Black Tetras
  • 27 Neon Tetras
  • 10 Glowlight Tetras
  • 3 bundles of Vallisneria spiralis
  • 2 bundles of Hygrophila corymbosa

Some coffee tips

  1. Favorite Beans
    Here in Edmonton, I’ve found that Rogue Wave Coffee offers the freshest roasted coffee – you just need to let them know in advance when you want to pick up your beans.  The result is coffee that has been roasted in the past 2-3 days. Coffee this fresh should be allowed to rest a little longer to ‘de-gas’ – otherwise you may find your coffee to have a somewhat metallic taste. The package their beans in paper coffee bags to facilitate the degassing.

    The next freshest beans I’ve found are also roasted locally, by Transcend.  I go to their main shop is on the southside, a block south of Argyll Road, just east of 99 Street.  They also have a location next to the Garneau Theatre on 109 Street – parking can be tricky there sometimes.

    I prefer medium roasted beans - they'll be the color of milk chocolate, and won't be shiny (or oily)
    I prefer medium roasted beans – they’ll be the color of milk chocolate, and won’t be shiny (or oily)

    At 3 Banana’s in Churchill Square, you can get Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso – bought a bag the other day for $22 for a 454g bag.  These may not be quite as fresh roasted as the other two unless you catch them on the right day.

  2. Favourite Brewing Methods
    When brewing coffee, I either use my espresso machine, an Aeropress, or more recently, a Hario manual pour-over.  Using the espresso machine is pretty awesome – I can have an Americano in less than a minute. A latte I can make in about 90 seconds :)Lately I’ve been really enjoying the manual pour-over.  It takes a little more time – about 5 minutes tops for a mug.  When I’m camping, I pack Aeropress to make coffee.  These are sold at Transcend (and other places around the city I’m sure).  These make very good coffee!  I just have to grind my coffee a little coarser than what I use in my espresso machine.
  3. Grind beans yourself
    Don’t buy pre-ground coffee.  Buy beans and grind them yourself.  Use a quality burr grinder, manual or electric.  Check out the coffeegeek and home-barista forums for recommendations, and buy the best you can afford.

Here is my current coffee set-up – yes, it might be bit excessive, but it’s been an investment that has been serving me well – even after almost 8 years!
coffee_nirvana