Archive | July, 2012

DIY Lobster Rolls

30 Jul

Ever since our trip to Providence and Newport a few weeks ago we’ve been dreaming of the lobster rolls we had at Roxy’s Lobster food truck.

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The type of rolls we got there were not the typical mayo-saturated roll you’re used to, these were “Connecticut Style” which is essentially just chopped lobster meat served hot with drawn butter on a toasted hot dog bun. People who are familiar with the Connecticut-style would call that a normal lobster roll, and the mayo-laced version a Lobster Salad Roll.

Suffice to say, it’s not easy to come by a Connecticut Lobster roll on Long Island. Sadly, Corinne reports that one of her worst lobster roll experiences was at the iconic “Lobster Roll” (or “Lunch”) roadside restaurant in Amagansett that we’ve all passed on the way out to Montauk, so even a place that would seemingly be the holy grail of lobster rolls falls flat. The rolls there are of the salad variety and they are very heavy handed with the mayo.

Aside from tracking Roxy down, which we intend to do again at some point, the only option was to try our hands at making our own.

We decided to go on a lobster run, and it seemed like it would be a fun trip to take a drive down to Jordan Lobster Farm in Long Beach. It was a rainy day, but that just meant it wan’t too crowded there, so it worked out in our favor. We weren’t sure if we could just get lobster meat, lobster tails, claws, or just whole lobsters. They had tail meat ready to go for about $40 a pound, which sounds pretty nuts but it’s about 8 small lobster tails. We decided that it would be best to have not just tail meat, but also claw and knuckle meat like Roxy’s did. We made the decision to get some whole lobsters and take the meat out ourselves. I saw a sign in the lobster pickup area that said “3, 1.25 pound lobsters – $30” which was a pretty good deal, I thought. I asked the guy if that was cooked or live, and he said “Either way. We’ve got two, pound and halfs ready to go for $25 if you want.” So that’s what we went for. We also grabbed some heat-and-eat baked clams and a few other things from the store there, and then we were off with our spoils!

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We saved some time by not having to cook the lobsters, of course, so I got right to breaking down the lobsters to get all the meat out of them. Meanwhile, Corinne got the butter clarification process going so we’d have the god stuff to pour over the lobster. At the same time we got the iron skillet going to toast the hot dog buns. Once I had all the lobster meat cleaned out of the shells, I gave it a rough chop. After that we toasted the buns, put the lobster on the rolls and poured some clarified butter on them and they were ready to eat.

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There was no time to have a big photo session, we had to eat them while they were still hot, and boy were they yummy!

Third Timer’s a Charm

28 Jul

For the second time now, our bathroom fan timer has gone bad. The first time it broke we exchanged it for a new one of the same model. This time I decided enough was enough so we replaced it with a different kind. The old one was a GE and manufactured by Jasco, and it had a bit of an odd design.

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The new timer is made by Leviton, a Long Island based company. The layout of the switches is a little more logical, longer times are higher up.

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This switch also does not require a neutral wire, which the old one did. This is a benefit for people who are replacing a standard switch, which would not have a neutral.
Once I installed the new switch I turned the breaker back on and…nothing! I turned back off the breaker and checked the connections and everything seemed fine, but it still wasn’t working. At this point I began to suspect that perhaps the fan itself had gone bad. I was about to install a standard switch to rule out the timer but then I consulted the manual. It turns out that there is a little shutoff switch so you can disable the timer altogether. This needs to be moved to the ON position for the timer to work, once I did that it worked right away and I reinstalled the switches and the cover plate.

The timer lets the fan continue to draw humidity from the bathroom after you shower so you don’t have moisture problems. Mike Holmes promotes the use of timers on bathroom exhaust fans all the time. It helps you leave it on after you shower without the chance of leaving it on all day by accident. I can’t say how long this timer will last but hopefully it will be longer than its predecessors, for now, we’re happy with it.

Lost Paw Pal

24 Jul

Last night I went to pick up dinner and I saw a sign in the window about a missing cat. It turns out that the cat in the picture, in my eyes, bears a striking resemblance to the cat I saw on Friday night after the cat fight and cat swim. This is featured in this post, if you missed it. I had thought the cat I saw friday night may not be the same cat we normally see outside our house, because he seemed a little less scruffy and didn’t seem to have the distinguishing bendy ear. I didn’t think much of it at the time but when I saw the sign I was almost sure it was the same cat.

I gave the woman a call and left a message saying that I didn’t want to give false hope but there’s a chance I had seen her cat. She called me right back and I wound up emailing her (her email address is isavecats247@_____.com, btw) the pictures I took that night, even though they were quite blurry, so she could try to tell if she thought it was “Daisy” or not. The coloring is similar, and the white paws, white chest and white nose are all there, but she’s still not convinced. I don’t think there’s enough detail in the pictures to make a judgement, and, at least on paper, and in my memory, the cat matches the description of the missing cat. I really do hope we see it again and hopefully they can be reunited. We only live a few blocks from where the cat was last seen, and where she lives, so the likeliness that it could be the same cat is high enough to be vigilant and keep a sharp eye out for this little guy. I’m considering a short term rededication of ishi-cams to scope out our backyard in case she walks through at some point when we’re not looking.

Wet Behind the Ears

21 Jul

and tail!
Last night I was watching a little Tour de France and I heard a low murmuring outside. It sounded like there might be a cat fight brewing, this time Ishi was not involved, for once. I heard some angry meowing followed by some growling and then some kitty screaming. It was right outside the front so, as Ishi snapped to attention, I jumped up and looked out the front window just in time to see a flash of orange fur as it splashed through our little pond. It seems the orange guy next door was being chased by another cat, and fell in to the pond in the process. I grabbed a flashlight and ran outside and found the poor little wet rat hiding under a bush.

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He looked a little scared so I took a look at him to make sure he wasn’t hurt. He looked ok, besides being very wet and disheveled, so I sort of coaxed him away from the bush and he went and sat under my truck and began the long process of grooming himself.

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Once he seemed settled I went searching for the other cat. With my flashlight it was quick work, as his little reflective eyes gave him away. He was hiding along the fence on the opposite side of the house, and he was dry as a bone. He didn’t seem scared but he was backing away from me to keep his distance. I had a hard time getting a picture of him because he kept ducking behind the brush he was hiding in.

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Pizza Night!

20 Jul

Corinne asked me to pick up a pound of mozzarella on my way home from work this evening. This gave me a hint as to what might be going on but I kept my enthusiasm at bay until I had confirmation. When I walked in the house the Kitchen Aid mixer was going full force, it was indeed Pizza Night!

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It’s been a while and we usually reserve this type of thing for when it’s cool out, so today, while it is uncharacteristically 65 degrees instead of 95 like it has been, it’s a good time to jump on it. A 550 degree oven usually does little to help the comfort level in a house without central A/C, so Pizza Night really is a rare occasion for July. It’s a great way to make the best of a rainy Friday night and it’ll be a tasty start to the weekend!

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A/C Modding

18 Jul

So, I’ve always been a big fan of Air Conditioner Modification… I’ve stayed at a lot of hotels where I found it necessary to modify the air conditioner, because a lot of hotel air conditioners are programed to turn off and on with the thermostat. I prefer for the fan to stay on constantly because I find it very annoying to hear the fan kicking on and off all night long, I like the consistant white noise the fan provides. I’ve disassembled units, I’ve downloaded manuals, I’ve gone in to deep programing menus, service menus, you name it, I’ve done it. I even had to trick a thermostat once by removing the probe and putting it in a hot bottle of water.

This time I was modding our own air conditioner, not because of fan cycling, but due to another issue, which is actually well documented on the Amazon reviews of the A/C unit.  It’s a Frigidaire FRA086AT7 8,000 BTU Window Unit, and it has the loudest beep I’ve ever heard on a piece of equipment that is supposed to be indoors. I can only assume they had a surplus of smoke alarm beep units so they used them in this air conditioner for the command  acknowledgment tone. It’s so loud that you kind of think twice before you change a setting because you really don’t want to hear that sound.

It finally got to the point where I was cleaning the air filter today and I decided it was time to take the bull by the horns, find this beeper and destroy it. I know a lot of people who have written and read reviews would like to do the same, and if they have the guts, they’ll be able to follow the tutorial I’ve made below…

It really is a very easy operation, I think it took me about 10 minutes and that was with taking a few things apart that I didn’t need to and documenting the whole process with the camera. This blog post is taking probably 10 times as long!

Start by opening the front of the A/C and removing the air filter. Anyone should know how to do this. Then remove the grille that covers the filter, which is a pretty simple process as well. Using a philip’s screwdriver, remove the 2 screws that are circled. Keep track of which screw goes where because they are not exactly the same.
Once you have the screws out you need to remove the whole front bezel, which will require a little squeezing and pulling, but it’s not a big deal. There is a wire that will be connected for the control panel, so the face of the unit will just be hanging there while you work.

You will want to have the unit turned off and unplugged before this step, there is line voltage present in this compartment which could cause electric shock if contacted or cause damage if a short occurs.

On the left side you will see this plate that covers some controls and relays and other circuitry. Remove the two screws that are circled, again keeping track of which goes where for when it comes time to reassemble.

Now that the screws are out you can open this panel, this is a familiar type of operation if you’ve done work inside a computer case. Simply push up with your hand in the direction of the arrow, take note how the mechanism works for when you have to put it back. Also take note of how wires are run so you can route the properly when buttoning the whole thing up

Here’s the back of the plate you just removed, this is where the magic happens.
The irritatingly loud magic.

And here’s the culprit.
They call it a buzzer, but that’s like no buzz I’ve heard before.
You have two choices now, to muffle the buzzer, or to silence it entirely. I suppose if you have a hot glue gun or some gum or sticky tack you could plug up the hole on the buzzer where the sound comes out, I tried it with my finger and it did knock it down to a manageable tone. This may be enough for you, but I think if you’re this deep in you may as well go for the kill shot.

If you’re a soldering fool you could go behind the board and melt the two contacts and remove the buzzer entirely, but I think that amount of heat is actually more risky than what I did, which was simply take vise grip and squeeze it. The cover simply cracked and the element that makes the sound fell right off with just a slight tug, it came off nice and clean, as you can see.

I put it all back together, plugged it in and I was greeted with sweet silence, no beeping at all.

This is a huge relief, and while it does nothing to silence the overall noise this unit makes, it will make it a little easier to live with. I hope some people try this and have the same success, if you do, just be careful and gentle with the wires as you put it back together and you should have no problems. Everything just goes back in the exact reverse order and you’re done! Leave a comment if you try this at home!

Test Fryve

15 Jul

We went on a nice little trip to one of my favorite BBQ places, Town Line BBQ, as a little reward for reaching a milestone on the deck, and because it was hot, wet, and rainy today. Corinne had put a strict ban on Town Line until the decking was down, to help motivate us to keep pushing on. It was a good reward; a good meal and fun drive, as usual.

On the way back, we hit up a couple farm stands, although we came away empty handed due to some slim pickin’s in the tomatoes and basil we were looking for. It is also our habit to swing by the outlet mall in Riverhead to try to snag some deals.

As usual, we found ourselves in Williams-Sonoma, this time with a targeted search for pots and pans. Corinne has been eager to replace some our pots and pans because the non-stick coating is starting to chip off a little, and she wants to upgrade to full stainless. We had our hearts set on All-Clad, but there was certainly a little sticker shock. We also realized we had not researched enough to make a purchase of this scale without really knowing what we were getting for that big investment.

The little documentation we did find actually concerned us because there were a lot of warnings about not to do this and that, or use salt without pre-boiling the water, and make sure the pot is properly pre-heated and marking and scorching and pitting. We really want to upgrade to good pot and pans so they perform better and also so they look good, but if we have to treat them with kid gloves to keep them looking good, we might not consider that an upgrade after all. I know that our pots and pans right now are not treated with delicacy, and they hold up fine. They are over 10 years old at this point, so I think the slight wear we see is acceptable.

We did want to come back with something at least, and there was a decent sale going on, so we decided we’d try another brand that is similar but about a third of the price. So instead of plunking down 250 bucks on a 4 quart saucepan that we might not like, we spent $25 on a Calphalon 8″ frying pan.

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It is very similar to the All-Clad and while there may be some advantage to the All-Clad, I have to think there is a strong case of diminishing returns here. I find it hard to believe that the All-Clad is four times better than the Calphalon. So, we figured we could get a nice frying pan that Corinne will probably use a lot to make omelettes and stuff, so we’ll get a feel for how it performs, and how it holds up to our abuse. This baby looks like it’s ready for anything, so hopefully it’s ready for us!

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Frogger

14 Jul

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We may have a problem.

Sprinklin’

13 Jul

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After mowing the lawn Wednesday, and with the lack of rain I was persuaded that, for the first time this summer, we should perhaps give the front lawn and the plants a little bath so they don’t turn brown.

I knew we had a hose bibb in the front that was turned off, so I figured I’d give that one a try rather than using the one all the way around the back of the house. It turns out the reason it was shut off inside was not to prevent a winter freeze, but because the valve is leaky, so even when the faucet is off, it’s still on a little. I’ll have to replace that, and I’ll try to document that when I do.

For the time being, I reverted to running the hose all the way around the house to set up the sprinkler. I ran it for about an hour on the lawn and then a half hour just on the plants, but they were getting a more concentrated sprinkle so they probably got just as much water as, if not more than, the lawn.

Ishi seemed to like the way sun was hitting the stream from the sprinkler as it passed by the tree.

New Rim Joist

11 Jul

So, on sunday, after I put in the hurricane ties but before the petting zoo came in to town, I installed our new rim joist on the deck. As you know from the 4th of July post we had removed the existing rim joist to cut the joists down so the framing would end flush with the last full piece of decking.
I also wanted to replace the 2x8s that the rim joist was made of because they were not great pieces of wood, we realized after looking at them for a while. I was able to salvage about 16 feet of the 20 foot piece, but the end I cut off had some serious knots in it that seemed to be compromising the integrity of the board. I had purchased a new 12 footer so I used what was left of the 20 footer and the new 12 footer to make the new rim joist. I offset my cut on the old board so I wouldn’t be going in to old screw holes. Our cuts on the ends of the joist seemed to work out pretty good because when I screwed it all in the framing did land pretty nice and flush all the way down.

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You can see in the picture the blocks I screwed in to the bottom of a couple of the joists to support the boards while I screwed them in, a lot easier than trying to hold and screw in a board that big.
After the rim joist was all in I took our trusty drilling jig and drilled the second row of holes in the last deck board. I modified the jig slightly by taping a 1/4 inch shim to register the holes a 1/4 inch closer to the edge of the board. This barely perceptible to the eye but it makes sure the screws are going in to the joist rather than into the seam between the 2 joists, so we know it has a solid grip on the framing and doesn’t split anything.